Origami love

I just realised today that it isn’t long before Valentine’s Day will be upon us and that means I had better get making as I always try to make my husband a card rather than buy one. My favourite cards are these origami ones.

origami heart cards Valentines

You can find all sorts of origami hearts on the internet. If you want to make them, here are links to the instructions for the blossom heart (along with some other hearts) and the crane heart . I wouldn’t use this paper again as you can see white through the creases but I liked the contrast on the reverse.

My eldest son must take after me as he gave me this origami for my birthday last year.

origami hearts framed gift

The instructions are for these hearts are here on ‘origami instructions’ where you can find pretty much any origami to make.

You can see one of my wedding pictures above, appropriately next to the origami hearts, because when we got married my husband and I had an origami wedding.

In Japan, Senbazuru, which means a thousand cranes, is the art of folding origami cranes and stringing them together. According to legend, the person who has the patience to fold a thousand cranes will have their wish granted. The crane is also a symbol of long life and fidelity, and cranes are given as gifts at wedding and hung in houses for luck. They are also a symbol of peace and hope, inspired by the memory of  twelve year old Sadako Sasaki who died of leukaemia ten years after the Hiroshima bombings.

So it was that, for months before we got married, every evening my future husband and I sat down and folded paper cranes together. Sometimes we chatted, sometimes we worked in silence. It was never a chore.

On the day before our wedding day, we carefully strung each crane onto fishing line and hung them from the ceiling of the reception venue

origami cranes wedding

The overall effect was better than we could ever have imagined.

origami cranes wedding

origami cranes wedding

You can see the other origami details that we made for the wedding.

origami cranes wedding

origami cranes wedding

origami cranes wedding

origami cranes wedding

 

The bouquets were made by the whole family, making them extra special.

origami cranes wedding

origami cranes wedding

If you want to make an origami crane you can find the instructions here. We used printing paper for the thousand cranes to keep the cost down and nicer card and scrapbook paper for the other ones.

This post has taken me so long to write as most of the time has been spent travelling down memory lane as I looked back through the pictures, something I don’t do often enough. Now is a good time to do it because we will be packing many of these things away and leaving them here in boxes when we move to Canada.

Thank you to Rainbowjunkiecorner and Wild Daffodil for spurring me on to share my wedding photos with you after rainbowjunkiecorner’s post on origami angels.

x

 

 

A tahdah!, a project update and a little bit of news

For reasons that will become obvious by the end of this post, there is a sense of urgency about my crafty projects at the moment. I keep jumping from one thing to another and desperately want to make everything now!

Honestly, Jen, who runs my local wool shop (The Wool Stop), must think I am insane. I keep rushing into the shop shouting ‘No time, I need this needle and this wool for this project’, then I proceed to waffle on about this, that and everything, pay, and leave her, I’m sure, wondering what the heck just happened.

I have finished one project though. A while back, I was looking on Ravelry for a more complex looking crochet project. I found the Closing Fans Shawl (paid pattern) and I started it with a 4ply silky yarn but quickly discovered that my diamond shapes were a fraction of the intended size and the shawl would cost me a small fortune if I ever actually finished it. I put the project to the side over the holidays and picked it up again in January, this time with a Stylecraft Alpaca DK in lime, yes, LIME! I guess I was yearning colour and something zingy after all the grey weather we have been having.

The pattern was a bit tricky at the start but I soon got the hang of it and a couple of weeks later we have a shawl. Tahdah!

Stylecraft Alpaca DK shawl crochet closing fans

 

Like all of the shawls that I have made, I have worn this one like a scarf and it is very soft and snuggly. I would make this shawl again but with a silkier DK yarn possibly but at the moment, I’m just pleased to have finished something.

Ever since I started knitting socks, whenever I am just about to start the heel, I start to think how easy it would be to make a pair of wristwarmers using the same skills. So last week when I saw this lovely post over at The Little Room of Rachell, I remembered that I had admired the same yarn in a different colour at The Wool Stop, so I immediately rushed off and bought some.

To say I rushed into things would be an understatement and not surprisingly, the end result was a single, very sorry wristwarmer.

Adraifil Knitcol trends 58 knitted wristwarmer

Where do I start? I used a 3mm long circular needle because a 4mm seemed way too loose and I didn’t have a 3.5mm and to be fair the fit is good until you get to the thumb area. My afterthought thumb was a learning curve but overall it is crying out for a thumb gusset. So instead of ploughing on like I usually do I am going to take my time with these gloves, so long that they probably won’t be ready until next year but they will have a thumb gusset. YouTube, here I come. The yarn is Adriafil  Knitcol Trends 58.

So it will come as no surprise that I have cast on a another pair of socks in the meantime.

Mondial Ciao 241

I am trying A Nice Ribbed Sock in Mondial Ciao 241, this was the first sock yarn I ever bought, before I even attended the sock workshop, so it is a little bit special to me. To avoid Second Sock Syndrome I am casting on two socks onto separate short circulars (I haven’t mastered two at a time yet), I’ll let you know if it makes a difference.

Another project that has seen the light this week is my Flowers in the Snow blanket. I say blanket but it is really a lot of circles still.

flowers in the snow crochet circles

I have to admit to going off this project last year but I am determined to finish it. I was going to use a denim blue colour instead of the usual white as a background but have decided white it will be and I have decided not to lay the circles out randomly after I arranged them like this

flowers in the snow crochet circles

What do you think? Much more appealing now and that is good as I am far more likely to complete the (much smaller than originally intended) blanket now.

And that brings me to my news.

(Trumpet fanfare)

We are moving.

To Canada.

In April.

This year!!!!!

If I can string the words together I will write a separate post all about how this move has come about and what it means for us. I hope you will wish us luck and stay with us on our travels. One thing I know for sure is that I am going to need to fine tune my knitting skills and get started on some winter woollies as I’m going to need them!

x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year. It has been a busy old time here over the holidays and I’m only just getting my head back on straight so please excuse the rambling. Actually this post is going to be mostly photographs as I am still not 100% better after an attack of the lurgy just before New Year.

Before Christmas I couldn’t share my most recently completed projects as they were gifts but I can now.

The first two gifts were crochet shawls based on a fantastic pattern by Vicky Brehm of Cera Boutique. Vicky is an amazing crocheter and I always look forward to her posts in my blog feed. As it happens, I was searching through Ravelry for crochet shawls and came across one of her patterns called Brambleberry shawl. It is an easy project and works up really quickly. I based my first gift on one of the completed projects and used 2 balls of King Cole Riot (Funky) on a 4mm hook.

crochet shawl king cole riot funky bramblenerry

crochet shawl king cole riot funky brambleberry

I was so pleased with how this turned out that I decided to make another one! This time smaller, using just one ball of King Cole Riot (Juniper). There were fewer colour changes in this yarn. This was made Christmas Eve so I didn’t even have time to photograph it after I had blocked it.

king cole riot crochet shawl juniper brambleberry

crochet flower

As it was a smaller shawl, more a scarf, I added a crochet flower with a button behind it so that it would stay in place when worn. As the pattern was all treble crochets (UK) and the pattern repeated every 3 rows these shawls worked up so quickly. Vicky asked me if I had put my shawls on Ravelry and one of my goals for this year is to work out how to!

Another crochet gift was this pair of hand warmers, made to match the scarf and hat that I showed you here. The Brooklyn Fingerless Mitts pattern was one I had used for a gift last year and it was just as easy to follow as I had remembered.

crochet mitt fingerless hand warmers wrist aran

I also crocheted a hat for my brother loosely following the Retro Stripes Hat pattern by Linda Permann. I used Drops Nepal and a 5.5mm hook.

crochet hat retro stripes drops nepal man

Lastly, I sewed together a few of these lavender pouches using vintage doilies and fabric I had stashed away. I had wanted to make some flaxseed/lavender heating pads in a similar vein but never did get around to it despite buying the flaxseeds, oops.

upcycled crochet doily lavender pouch

I love crafting to make gifts for friends and family. I also really appreciate it when I receive handmade gifts so you can imagine how delighted I was to hear just before Christmas that I was being gifted one of Ericka Eckles beautiful stockings. You can read about it here. Ericka’s blog is a warm mix of story telling and crafting and her ‘waffle’ as she calls it is heartfelt, humourous, moving and inspirational. Just look at how gorgeous my stocking is.

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Here it is alongside our other stockings on Christmas eve.

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This Christmas was quite special as it was the first Christmas that my brother and I have spent with our parents in 15 years! I love the traditions that I remember from my childhood being continued with my own children. One of my favourites is reading  ‘The Night Before Christmas’ on Christmas Eve. Each of my boys has received a copy on their first Christmas and I still have mine.

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We don’t celebrate New Years much here but who doesn’t enjoy a sparkler?

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It would be safe to say this holiday has been quite an emotional one. Just before the holiday we received some news which I will share over the next few weeks. It’s not bad news, it’s actually quite exciting but it will mean a lot of changes for us as a family (no, it’s not another baby!) and to be honest, I am all in a dither about it still.

I am keeping myself busy (avoiding doing everything I should be) with a new crochet project.

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It looks like 2016 will be eventful for us but all I hope for is that it is a healthy, happy year for everyone.

x

Tasty Christmas treats

As much of the crochet I have done since my last post has been made for other people and I would prefer that they be surprised when they open their gifts, I can’t show you what I have been hooking. I can however share my edible Christmas makes.

Since having my two little boys, I have been rubbish in the kitchen and have only just recently started to make some of my old favourites. Christmas makes me prioritise taking time in the kitchen, something I should do all year long but fail miserably at. Who can resist the spicy aromas associated with Christmas and the sweet treats that feel truly indulgent?

I used to make my own Christmas cake using Delia Smith’s fruit cake recipe but when I discovered that no one else in my house actually likes Christmas cake it did feel a bit excessive making it just for myself. Also I really only ate Christmas cake with cheese so I felt even more guilty.

Then a couple of years ago whilst my parents were living in Trinidad, I heard about black cake (rum cake) and looked for a recipe to try. I was lucky enough to visit Trinidad on two occasions, but never actually tried black cake when I was there so had no idea what was an authentic recipe or not. So I just chose the one I liked the look of and the one my mum tells me is nothing like any black cake she ever had (that’s a compliment, right?).

What appealed about the recipe, which you can find here on TriniGormet.com, was the amount of alcohol the fruit is soaked in prior to baking the cake. For 3lbs of fruit it recommends 1 bottle of cherry brandy and 1 bottle of rum and/or 1 bottle of Bailey’s. Yes, 3 bottles! What also drew me to this recipe was the use of Angostura bitters (made in Trinidad and a childhood favourite of mine, I always felt so sophisticated drinking lemonade with a few drops of Angostura) and nutmeg. Whilst in Trinidad I had walked through the cathedral like nutmeg groves and collected nutmeg that had fallen. If you’ve never seen what nutmeg looks like whilst growing, look it up. The nutmeg is encased in a hard shell which has a lacy covering of mace, all enclosed by a protective fruit. I still have a jar of nutmeg, a spice once considered as valuable as gold, sadly not anymore.

It is fair to say that the soaking fruit doesn’t look anything special.

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The baked result is much more appealing.

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This is being fed with rum on a daily basis. It won’t be iced as it has a dense, pudding-like texture and we eat it with copious amounts of clotted cream (not very traditional in Trinidad apparently). I can’t wait for Christmas Day evening when we eat this.

Something I haven’t been able to stop eating is another Christmas treat that I was introduced to through my  parents’ travels. My mum and dad used to live in Iran (so did I but I was too young to remember any of it) and one of the foods they always speak about from there is chocolate covered orange peel. My mum used to make this when I was little and when I had a kitchen of my own I asked her for the recipe, which I never wrote down and started to make up myself each year.

There are recipes on the net and the one that is similar to my method is the River Cottage Candied Orange Sticks one. I don’t use glycerine and it turns out just fine. I love laying the sticky pieces of peel out to dry.

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They look better when they have been given their dark chocolate coating.

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They also make a lovely gift or nibble to take to a party.

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I am just about to dip my second batch of these and I imagine I will need to make more before Christmas day as they disappear quickly.

If you can’t indulge at Christmas, when can you? Enjoy.

x

Half term round up

This half term was a much needed break for my husband (who is a teacher), my boys (especially the one that just started school) and me (who had lots of lovely treats planned).

The holiday started with our child-free break to the North Yorkshire Moors which turned into a 3 night stay after the in-laws said they didn’t mind having the grandchildren for another 24 hours (yipppeeee!). We had a fantastic time away, lots of sightseeing, lots of beachcombing and lots of uninterrupted time together… bliss.

Highlights were…treasure hunting for sea glass in Seaham

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… exploring the seaside town of Whitby

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… marvelling at Whitby Abbey (inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula)

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and my favourite part…  the Moors themselves.

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The only disappointment of the break was not finding a wool shop (I could actually hear my husband breathe a sigh of relief) but I did get a chance to practice my knitting for my sock knitting workshop.

I practiced my basic stitches by following the Hitchhiker scarf pattern and using sock yarn.

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I had bought the sock yarn a while back when I booked my place on the sock workshop. It is Mondial Ciao (241). It will make great socks so this scarf will be unravelled.

As the workshop approached I decided I needed to get more comfortable with knitting. I am a slow knitter and it all feels a bit clunky compared to crocheting. I found a pattern on Ravelry called Simple sample hat which uses the magic loop method on circular needles. My hat varies considerable from the pattern but I am quite proud of my first ever knitted hat!

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The sock workshop was today and it was everything I hoped it would be. We covered all elements of knitting a sock on DPNs (yikes!). I chose an orange sock yarn. Although this is far brighter than I wanted, it turned out to be a good choice as my stitches were all very easy to see.

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The workshop spanned a 4 hour period and everyone was exhausted by the end of it but we all produced a mini sock with a heel, gusset and toe (squeals of delight all round).

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The workshop was at my local wool shop the Wool Stop and was taught by Jacqui Harding of HappyMaking designs. Jacqui was the best type of teacher, patient, flexible and fun. She is a very talented knitter, crocheter and seamstress. Have a look at her Ravelry page for some of her designs.

Straight after the workshop the boys had a Halloween party. We had fun making some tasty treats to take with us.

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I have just realised with has got to be my longest post ever. Time for a glass of wine and to wish everyone a Happy Halloween.

x

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That’s better

Some of you may remember my first post about a blanket I made for a friend’s daughter. Well, to cut a long story short, I never actually gave the blanket to my friend. For one, we didn’t meet up for ages, then I moved house and then…it just didn’t feel right. Something was niggling me about the lack of border on the blanket. It just felt too plain. So I left it and continued with other projects and then finally last week I made a decision.

First of all, I decided that the blanket needed to be squared off with some half hexagons on the top and bottom (I kept the zigzag edge on the sides). I used this post to make the half hexagons.

Then I had to decide on a border. To be honest this was more trial and error than anything. I completed a few stripes first and then, in my mind I pictured pompoms on the zigzag edges. I went out and bought a tiny pompom maker, rushed home and made my first pompom. Hmmmm. To say I was unimpressed would be an understatement. My pompom certainly didn’t feel safe enough for a baby blanket and it didn’t look great either. Then I remembered seeing crocheted pompom edging. Phew! I used this tutorial by Bella Coco and after a bit of playing around with spacing this was the final result. Ta da!

solid hexagon blanket crochet flowers

What do you think?

Here are some close ups of the border.

crochet hexagon blanket border

 

crochet hexagon blanket border

It was lovely and sunny when I took these pictures. The Stylecraft Special colours are so bright and cheerful. This blanket is ready to go to its new home.

As it was sunny, I couldn’t resist taking a picture of a tablecloth that I bought at a local charity shop. Please excuse the creases.

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Whilst I was in the shop I also spied this pristine piece of 70’s history.

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I couldn’t resist!

Maybe I was indulging in a bit of retail therapy as we took our eldest son to University this weekend. I am excited for him on his new journey (Dr Seuss’s ‘Oh, the places you’ll go!’) and so proud of the young man he has become. He isn’t far away at all. I miss him heaps though.

x

 

 

Keeping busy

After the emotional rollercoaster that was last week, it was decided that this weekend would be a chilled, relaxed time with the family. No jobs, no rushing to the shops, no stressing. It was just what we all needed.

I spent Saturday afternoon in the kitchen making runner bean chutney which I can’t wait to try. The problem with making chutneys is I want to eat them straight away! This was a recipe I used years back and my husband has been asking me to make again every Autumn. He is a very patient man.

The best thing about making this chutney is that I get to use my Spong bean cutter which I inherited from my husband’s late grandmother.

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We lazed about a lot this weekend, played games and went for walks but I still managed to start a new crochet project. I have never worked with yarn this fine before (2ply) and it took a while to get used to but I love it. Full details when I actually finish it.

crochet shawl lace 2ply

This is the last week before my eldest starts university so I am going to be busy getting him ready and enjoying his company whilst I can. He might be 18 but he’s still my baby!

x