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Ta Da! Eastern Jewels Blanket

One last push saw me finish the Eastern Jewels Blanket last night and, after giving the border a quick final steam block this afternoon, I can finally show it to you……so here it is!

It all started when this giveaway popped up in my Instagram feed.

I fell in love instantly and couldn’t wait to start so, instead of entering the giveaway, I got straight onto the internet to order a kit. Trouble was, they were so popular that the first three shops I tried had completely sold out. Eventually, I managed to buy one from Black Sheep Wools and, if I remember correctly, didn’t have to wait much more than twenty-four hours before the postman came a-knockin’ with a delivery.

The nice folk at Black Sheep Wool also included a handy project bag in which to lug the entire kit around.

The blanket breaks down into 16 octagons, 9 squares, 12 triangles and 4 corners.

I decided to go row-by-row, crocheting everything together as soon as I had the components of one row finished and blocked.

I can honestly say that I never once got bored with this blanket, as every single element was different. Whilst each of each shape consisted of the same pattern, the colourway to each one was unique.

The centre “wheel” part of the octagons: –

The “fans”: –

The best thing about this particular blanket is that it is very portable as you can take the working piece with you and leave the rest at home. Mine came to a few of The Boys’ football matches.

Here’s a row’s worth of components; I was very disciplined and weaved in all the ends as soon as I finished each piece. When I had crocheted all the bits for one row, I blocked them and crocheted them together as I went.

Initially it was because I was impatient to see results, but it also meant that the dreaded ‘finishing off’ was never a Thing.

Having started on October 6th, I had finished all the actual components by November 5th, just a month later…..but hadn’t managed to assemble the final row.

Then Christmas happened and all the associated last minute making and preparations, so I didn’t pick it up again until the weekend. Determined to finish it, I crocheted it all together and added the border, swapping out the final row of “mustard” for “fuchsia” which, I feel, frames the blanket better.

For those who would like to see the detail zoomed in, here’s a close up of the octagons…..

…..the squares…..

…..the larger triangles…..

…..and the corner triangles and border.

The whole is connected by double crochet (US single) on the reverse.

This is the back of the blanket, which doesn’t look too shabby either.

I initially photographed the blanket on the bed in one of the spare bedrooms as it provided a neutral backdrop.

Not like our lounge, which is a riot of colour and where the blanket will actually live and fits in perfectly – keeping my knees warm whilst sat on this sofa, feet up, working on one of my many WIPs.

Has anyone else been tempted by this blanket, or is it too “in your face” for the lasting trend for neutral interiors?


Knitted Mermaid Blanket

This month’s blog post for Minerva Crafts is a brilliant pattern for a Mermaid’s Tail blanket. With instructions for babies, children and adult sizes, it is a quick knit using super chunky yarn.

Click on the link for the full blog post: Mermaid’s Tail Blanket


Sunday Sevens #111

As with all of you, I’m sure, these last few weeks have been hectic and I’ve been offline for a large portion of that time. I hope to find time this evening to catch up on some blog reading and see what you’ve all been up to but, in the meantime, here’s my Sunday Sevens.

1. I found this great book in TKMaxx and bought it based on the cover photo!


2. I’m still at the stage where I want to keep my car spotless. Not sure how long that will last.


3. Managed to squeeze in lunch and a bit of shopping with my sister. Tambourine Village in Street again – lush!


4. Our new sofa arrived from Laura Ashley! It’s cranberry crushed velvet and so much cosier than the old leather ones.


5. It sits opposite the one we got off eBay a few weeks ago. I know, I know – I don’t do minimalism:)


6. Our village Christmas supper went down very well as usual. Even though I came off the committee in March, I still seem to get roped in to organise things as before as I just can’t say no to people!


7. We took a ‘plane to Scotland……

8. …..and went to see a pantomime in King’s Theatre in Glasgow.

9. We stayed in a hotel overnight before getting up at 4am to catch another ‘plane to Lapland to meet the real Father Christmas! A separate blog post will follow – eventually:)

10. Back in Blighty a few days later, they opened their new pyjamas. New PJs are a bit of a tradition now at Christmas.

11. For some reason a selfie is a mirror image on my ‘phone, hence the text being back to front, but it’s a pattern review I did for Sewing World magazine.

12. Another Christmas present finished, to be blogged about on Wednesday for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network.

13. More yarn – I have to make another one for her little sister for Christmas. I foresee a VERY late night or two….

14. Friends joined us for an impromptu evening playing Christmas ‘Hangman’. Cheese and drinks aplenty were consumed.

15. Both of my Stitching Santa parcels arrived! Mine are both posted now, too, so I can relax a tiny bit as another deadline has been reached by the skin of my teeth.

I’m loving seeing all your Stitching Santa updates on blogs and Instagram – keep them coming!


Knitted Lace Baby Shawl

Way back in June I was contacted by a childhood friend whom I haven’t seen for thirty years and asked if I would consider knitting a shawl for her upcoming first grandchild. 

I don’t normally take commissions for something like this, but she asked so nicely and was so obviously a fan of my work that I decided to make an exception and agreed on the basis that this would be my evening project. You know, the kind that you pick up for a couple of hours every evening so your fingers have something to do whilst watching TV.

The baby was due in early October, which meant I would have to get cracking as three months is not very long in shawl-knitting terms, and I estimated that about 60 hours of handknitting would be required. I had no problem choosing the perfect yarn – the softness of Alpaca combined with the smooth quality of silk made this the obvious choice.

A laceweight yarn, the silk adds a subtle sheen and would make an incredibly light and delicate shawl.

I ordered 4 skeins in “Wedding White” as the gender of the baby was to remain a surprise, and off white would be ideal. Each 50g skein contains 439 yards of yarn so, although I hadn’t yet decided on a pattern, figured that 1700 yards should be plenty.

Look how fine the yarn is!

It all got off to a bit of a false start because I wasn’t happy with the first pattern I chose and had to unravel it and start again from scratch.

A bit more research resulted in the purchase of this lovely pattern by Sirdar – the circular design, rather than the square one.

And so the lengthy process began!

It soon became apparent that I had VASTLY underestimated the time and quantity of yarn that this beast would consume!

After 60 hours over 2 months, I was about two-thirds of the way through the main body of the shawl, and it took both boys to hold it up for me to take a photograph.

I just love how gossamer-fine it is and how you can see right through.

I also had to order another 2 skeins of yarn which took another 2 weeks to arrive before I could continue.

With the body of the shawl finished, I moved on to the pretty bit – the show-stopping lacy border, which was an absolute joy to knit after all those rounds of stockinette.

You can see the pattern beginning to develop here.

Despite being over a week overdue, the baby had now arrived…..but I still hadn’t finished the border. 

It was a baby girl!

Eventually, all the actual knitting was complete and ‘all’ I had to do was to join these two piles of knitting together.

It ended up being several evenings worth of work, starting with pegging the border evenly to the centre section and then sewing ithem together.

Wet blocking was the next step in the process, whereby all 120 points had to be pinned out to their final shape.

I commandeered The Boy’s bedroom and banished them for two days while it dried, pinned to a combination of three towels and the carpet!

When it was completely dry, I took it downstairs to try and photograph it as the contrast against the oak floor showed up the pattern more clearly.

There wasn’t enough spare floor space!

Here’s a close up of the edging after blocking – such lovely lacy detail.

By screwing it up in the middle, I managed to take a photo of the whole shawl – it really is massive!

It looks lovely here, draped over the arm of the sofa.

Off it went in the post and I waited a nerve-wracking few days before hearing that it had reached its destination safely – what a relief!

Very soon, some photos were sent to me of the shawl in use, and I have permission to share them with you on the blog.

Do you want to have the final stats of this mammoth project?

Here goes…….

– 2760 yards of yarn

– 137 hours of knitting

– 161,852 stitches

Would I do it again?

In a heartbeat – only next time it will have to be for MY grandchild because it was so hard to part with after all that effort!


Crochet Baby Blanket

We’ve been invited to a Baby Shower.

No, the expectant parents are not American, they are as English as can be and yet they are having this oddly-titled premature celebration in advance of the birth.

I’m not sure what I think about this transatlantic tradition which has wheedled its way onto British soil. Is it an alternative to a Christening, or in addition to?

My initial instincts were to consider the concept rather grasping and a rather diluted (and very un-British!) attempt to ask for presents for the not-yet born. However, knowing the family well, we know this is not the case and it appears to be a great excuse for a gathering of family and friends all of whom are eager to wish them well.

What are your thoughts about ‘showers’ in general, as I have recently heard of Bridal Showers over here as well? Are any of our friends in the USA able to enlighten us on the point of them?

Anyway, this is what I had already decided to make for the baby, Baby Shower or not; a simple,hard-wearing, easy-to-wash, granny square blanket in 20% wool.


It’s pram-blanket sized, so only took a few evenings to whip up. About a third of the way in, I thought it needed something to break up the pink, so added in some grey-beige matching yarn.

granny square baby blanket

A pom pom border livens it up a bit and makes the granny clusters a little less utilitarian-looking.

crochet pom pom border

crochet blanket pom pom border

When finished, it was crying out for a flower in the centre, but I didn’t want anything raised so searched for a flat version.

I came across this flower coaster pattern in a language I didn’t recognise but, as luck would have it, a chart was included and I was able to work solely from this.

crochet flower chart

Perfect – just what I was looking for!

crochet flower coaster

The crochet flower was simply stitched into the centre with matching yarn.

crochet flower

And that’s it – simple!

crochet granny square baby blanket

I hope she likes it and, yes – she is having a girl:)


Sunday Sevens #92

Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series whereby you share seven photos of your week outside the blog. Invented by Nat at Threads & Bobbins, follow the link to find out more.

1. A member of the family was hosting an Open Garden at her farm. Typically, it poured down all day but didn’t spoil anyone’s enjoyment – over £1200 was raised for a local hospice!

2. A farmyard twist on planting!

3. This old GWR sign has found a new home on the door to the outside toilet.

4. I was given a posy of flowers to take home which are still brightening my mantelpiece a week later.

5. Spurred on by fellow Instagrammers, I had a clear out of my wardrobe. I decided to donate a recent make (the keyhole top from Love Sewing) due to its immodest cleavage reveal!

6. A crochet blanket was started. Just a simple granny square one this time.

7. No.3 Son was part of a team that won the Gold medal at an inter schools championship mid-week.

8. The following day, they went on to win Silver in the area finals. District finals at Millfield School are next!

9. The owners of this field very kindly mowed a wide path through the middle of the field for dog walkers. It would appear that, instead of cattle grazing, they are encouraging a wildflower meadow to grow.

10. After a midnight emergency trip to the vet, Fifi had a tumour removed and is NOT happy that she has to wear the Cone Of Shame for ten days.

11. More crochet, this time a flat flower to embellish the centre of the aforementioned blanket.

12. After being quoted £5,200 to fit out the other end of our kitchen, I sought a cheaper alternative. This solid oak dresser cost just £96 on eBay and will be painted later in the week. Sacrilege, some might say, but there is more than enough wood in our kitchen, so Bleu Clair by Autentico has been ordered to add a splash of colour.

A quieter week than last, I had chance to catch my breath and relax a bit before family came for the weekend. They’ve just begun the journey home – right in the middle of the Glastonbury traffic, so it’s anyone’s guess as to how long it will take them!


Crochet For Calais

A friend of mine has put out a request to all knitters and crocheters who would like to help the refugees at Calais. She needs 12″ squares made IN A HURRY and sent to her which she will then sew together to make blankets for the refugees. The weather is starting to get cold and blankets will make a huge difference to them.

She is hoping to send the first parcel out with a contact who is going on 28th November and would ideally like the squares by 20th in order to sew them together in time.

If you have a couple of hours to whip up a square, please help.

The squares all need to be 12″ in size, made from acrylic yarn and in any colour or pattern you wish – use up some scraps and help a great cause at the same time.

Here’s one I crocheted last night in just two hours. 
I used Robin acrylic DK which is hardwearing and will wash and dry easily…..

…..and a 5mm hook.

The address to send your squares to is:-

Jane Wheelen

5 Donnes Terrace

Castle Cary



It would be even better if you could share this post on your own blog to see just how many squares we can make between us – bloggers are, in my experience, a caring and generous lot:)

Thank you.


How To Make A Waterproof Patchwork Picnic Blanket And Carry Pack

Ah, the English Summer! What does it mean to you?

For me, it’s day trips to the coast, balmy evenings sat outdoors until after sundown, weekend breakfasts in the garden, outdoor concerts in the grounds of old ruins……in short – being outside.

And being outside is made all the more perfect if you take that most quintessentially English thing with you – a picnic. Dressed down with sandwiches and a flask of tea at the seaside, or glammed up with champagne and a candelabra for a classical concert, everyone loves a picnic, with a soft, warm, waterproof picnic blanket to relax on in comfort…….

……except we haven’t got one.

Well, we didn’t have until recently when I decided to take advantage of being part of the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network and make one.

I didn’t want to make just any old picnic blanket, oh no, I wanted the ‘deluxe’ version, something a bit special, so decided to make a patchwork blanket with a waterproof backing and a carry handle. As there are four boys in the house (if you include Mr H-L), anything too pink and girly was out of the question, but I thought I could get away with a small floral print if the main colour was blue.

After much deliberation, this is what I finally ordered: – 1.5m each of plastic coated red ginghamfloral patchwork print polycotton, and denim blue polycotton. This makes a blanket approximately 1.25m x 1.25m.


My Olfa Quiltmaking Kit came with this mat, rotary cutter and 6.5″ square ruler, so I kept things simple by cutting the patchwork squares the same size as the ruler.


Cutting through folded fabric made short work of all those squares as I could cut through four layers at a time – using a rotary cutter and the quilting ruler ensured that they were accurately cut, which is essential in patchwork.


In no time at all I had two piles of neatly stacked patchwork squares, 36 of the floral and 45 of the plain making 81 in total.


The easiest way to keep accurate seam allowances is to line up the edge of the fabric with the edge of the machine foot, the needle in the central position. On my machine, that means a seam allowance of 1cm throughout.


Whilst it may sound obvious, there is a quick way to whizz through all those squares.

Start by sewing them in pairs, each floral with a plain, right sides together. You will need to make 36 pairs which should leave you with 9 spare squares – 5 plain and 4 floral.

Don’t bother reversing your stitching at the beginning and end of each set, cutting the thread and repeating with the next pair – just keep feeding the pairs through the machine one after the other as shown below.


When all the pairs of squares are sewn, snip the joining stitches to separate them.



Repeat this process with the pairs of squares…


….until you have rows of 4….


….then sew the rows of 4 together to make rows of 8. Now add one of your left over squares to the end of each row.

You should now have 9 rows of 9 squares.

Press all the seam allowances to one side.


To minimise any bulk at the seams, you may wish to alternate the direction in which you press them flat.


Join these rows along the long edges, matching and pinning the seams as you go.



Continue until all your strips of patchwork are sewn together into one large square.



As I reached this stage, I made the spontaneous decision to add a layer of wadding between this top layer and the bottom layer. (I had plenty in my stash, but you can buy it here.)

I cut a square of wadding slightly larger all the way around than the patchwork piece, laid it on top of the wrong side of the patchwork and pinned it around the entire edge.



Stitch close to the raw edges all around the outside and trim the excess wadding as shown.


Now the wadding is secured, you can use large tacking stitches through both layers to stop them shifting whilst quilting.

Stitch in the ‘ditch’ using a long stitch length until the whole blanket has been quilted along the seam lines.


Place the quilted layer onto the vinyl backing, wrong sides together, and trim the backing so that it is 1.5cm bigger than the top all the way around.


Using clips, fold the excess vinyl over to the right side of the blanket and secure in place.


A teflon foot makes the vinyl move smoothly through the machine, and a leather needle with its wedged shape will stop any skipped stitches (discovered through trial and error!)


A simple long straight stitch close to the raw edge of the vinyl is all that is needed.


Mitre the corners as you go for a neat finish.


I was left with a few scraps of fabric and vinyl, so I also designed a fabric roll to act as a carry pack for the blanket.

For the carry pack, cut 3 floral and 2 plain squares the same size as before and sew them all together in a single row. Press.

Cut a piece of spare vinyl 1.5cm smaller than the patchwork strip and place in the centre of the strip, wrong sides together.


Turn a narrow hem…..



….and stitch in place close to the inner folded edge around all 4 sides, mitring the corners as you go.

Cut two pieces of vinyl for the handles, each measuring 20cm x 5cm.

Fold the long upper edge in to the wrong side by 1cm, and bring the lower edge up to meet it, overlapping a little to encase the raw edge as shown below.


Stitch close to the raw edge.

Repeat with the second handle.


Position the two ends of the handle in the corner of the carry pack using the photograph as a guide.


Stitch in place with a 1cm seam.


Fold the handle to the outside and turn over, vinyl side down.

Cut a 12cm strip of velcro hook and loop fastener and sew the hook side to the fabric side of the carry pack, being sure to catch the handle in the ‘up’ position, securing it in place at the same time.

Repeat with the loop side at the other end of the carrier.


When the blanket is rolled up, wrap the carry pack around it and press the velcro strips together.



For a picnic in the garden (or anywhere), just add bunting, a squishy cushion and a hamper full of goodies.


Sun is a bonus for a picnic, but not when taking photographs (too much contrast)…


The perfect fusion of girl/boy styling that anyone would be happy to sit on.


No more damp bums!


A lovely layer of wadding for added comfort.


The carry pack with handles means that it’s compact and easy to transport.


Marley was interested to see what was going on – sometimes our hens are just a little bit too friendly!



Now all we need is for Summer to return so we can actually use our lovely new picnic blanket!!


Finished! Greengate Style Crochet Blanket (With FREE pattern!)

Yippee! Picture me dancing a jig around the room with a smile of glee painted on my very smug face. Why? I have finally finished my Greengate style blanket that I started way back in July……and I LOVE it!

Greengate style crochet blanket3

Row after row of Drops Paris Cotton loveliness that feels so substantial and luxurious it was well worth the effort and time.

It is HUGE.

Pictured above on the bed in one of our spare bedrooms which is 5’6″ wide, it makes a decent throw but it completely covers a single bed!

The original article and pattern (found here) are in Swedish and the Google translation was a little confusing but, with some crochet experience, I managed to come up with a workable version of the pattern in English which I can now share with you –  just click on the link at the bottom of the page to download it!

I particularly love the lettuce-leaf edging – time-consuming but it adds a beautiful texture to it, I think.

Greengate style crochet blanket6

Would you like to see some more photos?

Greengate style crochet blanket7

Greengate style crochet blanket5

Whilst it may look complicated and rather daunting, the main body of the blanket actually consists of nothing other than treble crochet (US double) in plain rows and granny stripe. It’s the winning combination of colours that make it so successful.

Greengate style crochet blanket4 Greengate style crochet blanket Greengate style crochet blanket edge

Greengate style crochet blanket2

If you would like to make your own blanket, I have included a pattern for you to download and print off. It is my own interpretation of the google translation (in the Swedish edition of Homes & Gardens) and may not be perfect but worked well for me!

Click on the link below to download: –

Greengate Style Crochet Blanket Pattern PDF

Now, onto my next blanket…..