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Sunday Sevens #146

You may have noticed that I’ve had a break from Sunday Sevens, albeit entirely unintentional (Christmas, and all that), so here’s a heavily edited recap of things since the beginning of December.

1. We had another day trip on the Orient Express – a six hour journey through England and Wales during which we were served a seven course Christmas dinner. Wine pairings with every course was a nice extra that we hadn’t done before.

2. The friends that we went with.

3. The run up to Christmas was almost exhaustingly busy with something going on every day, including The Boy’s advent calendar in which they ‘do’ something Christmassy each day of advent. Here they are enjoying a car trip in their pyjamas to drive around looking at Christmas lights.

4. Together with one other resident, I cooked Christmas dinner for sixty villagers in the village hall.

5. No.3 Son sang a solo of my favourite carol “In The Bleak Mid Winter” before everyone sat down for dinner.

6. I managed to finish off this pair of socks for No.1 Son…..

7. ….and this cabled hat for his girlfriend’s mother.

8. After cooking lunch for my brother and his wife on Christmas Eve, we went to the carol service in our church. The Dogs drew loads of comments in their festive coats! Some friends joined us for supper afterwards and The Boys were excited to put their stockings out for Father Christmas for an early-ish night.

9. We went to church Christmas Day with The Boys and the service ended rather sombrely when the organist collapsed just before the last verse of the last carol. Being British, the congregation went on to sing unaccompanied and we all crept out silently as an ambulance was called.

A couple of family members short, Christmas dinner was a slightly quieter affair than usual – it seems I was lucky to get the ‘flu over and done with before Christmas. I didn’t feel lucky at the time, mind you!

10. Back up to full numbers on Boxing Day! Mr H-L is keeping the festive music going, in case you wondered what he was doing back there:)

11. We can ‘only’ seat 14 or 15 people comfortably around the dining table, so there was overspill into the kitchen end!

12. On the 27th, when we had a different set of guests, I invented a new solution to using up the leftovers – Christmas Dinner Pie! Literally all the remaining meat, stuffing and veg was made into a pie. It went down a treat with everyone.

13. Our last guests left on the 28th, which meant we had a couple of days to unwind before New Year’s Eve. ‘Unwinding’ in our house means PJs, games, festive films and Baileys:)

14. The Dogs were over the moon to have even more cuddle time than usual!

15. Unwinding for me also includes knitting/crochet – once I got the darning out of the way…..

16. I cast on and finished a single sock using the lovely yarn from my Stitching Santa parcel, which was immediately claimed by No.3 Son!

17. Before casting on the second sock, I cast on one for me using some Fyberspates yarn that I’ve had for a while and forgot about. After all that plain sock knitting, I was itching to do a pattern.

18. I even managed to nip up into the sewing room for a few hours and came down with this little project bag, perfect for small projects like socks. I may make some more for my online shop.

19. Just to make sure I don’t get bored (!), I started crocheting Granny squares in this Duck Egg DK. They’re going to be a blanket for a young couple that are getting married later this year.

20. Then the yarn orders started arriving…..I went on a bit of a spending spree with the money that had accumulated in my PayPal account.

21. All this sock yarn has a purpose – I want to make 2018 the year I wear only handknit socks. My New Year’s Resolution, I suppose.

Whilst I tend to knit playing socks using a self-striping yarn for other people, my own preference is for patterned socks using hand dyed yarn in luxury fibres. These are the three pairs I have knitted to date.

22. Progress on the pair currently on the needles, although I will have to knit No.2 Son’s other sock before the second one of this pair.

23. New Year’s Eve is spent with the same friends, only this was the first year we went to their house for the night, Just look at those incredible centrepieces!

24.

25. We took No.2 Son back to school the following Sunday, which was hard having had him at home for three weeks.

26. With both boys back at school, Mr H-L and I went out for lunch one day. Fifi was treated to a bit of pork belly at the end.

27. On Saturday, Fifi’s heart began to race and her breathing became shallow. She was fine in herself and carried on as normal for most of the day and well into the evening. We took her to bed with us as normal but, at 1.50am yesterday morning, she stopped breathing.

28. Farewell, my faithful little companion – my heart is in pieces. Whatever will I do without you.


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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?


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Crocheted Project Bag

Early on in the Stitching Santa, I had already decided that I was going to make a project bag for my ‘Yarny’ recipient as I knew I had lots of odd balls of yarn lying about. In effect, this was to be a ‘free’ handmade extra to add to the parcel as my £10 budget had been spent entirely on yarn.

Rooting through my leftovers to see what colours went well together, this is what I ended up with.

Quite nice and pastel-y, I thought, and the limited palette should be enough to make granny squares in a variety of colour combinations.

So, colours decided, I started on the squares and soon had a growing pile.

I used single crochet on the front to join the squares together, adding a bit of texture for interest.

I ended up with a rectangle of squares 10 wide by 3 high, and a base panel of 4 squares.

If you fancy making your own, you can use the photo below as a colour guide.

Obviously, the bag needed to be lined to prevent any knitting needles or crochet hooks slipping through. This was simply a process of cutting around the crocheted sections and adding a seam allowance.

Next, I crocheted the short edges of the bag together to form a tube.

Then the bottom panel was single-crocheted in place.

The lining was sewn by machine in the same way.

Two handles were crocheted as below with a starting chain of 75.

The handles were sewn in place by hand, before sewing in the lining.

The lining was just oversewn around the top edge only.

Here’s the finished bag: –

I added one of my labels, of course:)

It’s a good size for a jumper or something similar, so should prove quite useful to my secret recipient – let’s hope she agrees!


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Sunday Sevens #140

Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series showing seven(ish) photos of your week outside the blog. Anyone can join in at any time.

1. Half term started well, with lazy mornings allowing plenty of time for a leisurely cooked breakfast every day.

2. My mother and sister came to visit for a couple of days, one of which was spent doing art and craft type things. We visited Ilminster Arts Centre and enjoyed a couple of hours at the current exhibition, together with tea and cake in the café and some time browsing in the shop.


3. I gave in to temptation and bought some handmade ceramic buttons. I don’t have a plan for them as yet, but they’re sure to be the perfect finishing touch to a future make.


4. On the way back home we made a short detour so we could try this Railway Carriage Café, as recommended by a friend a while back.


5. It was lovely inside, full of original character and a great choice of gluten free options on the menu.

6. Later that evening, my mum and sister both got their sketching pencils and paints out and had fun with a squash.

7. Next day, The Boys had two brothers around to play for the day whilst their mother went to work. No technology allowed (my rules!) so they were all worn out by the end of the day with ‘real’ playing.

8. To wind down after their friends had gone, I let The Boys watch a film. They loved it and were totally engrossed, as you can see from this photo. The film?


9. Snow White, the original animation from 1937!


10. Christmas has taken over our local garden centre and the singing reindeer were back for a second year.


11. A family friend came to stay for the weekend and we went to Bath for the day, starting off with breakfast. You can just see the trio in the background who played some wonderful classical music whilst we ate.


12. A few hours later and we stopped to eat again, this time at Yo! Sushi, The Boy’s favourite treat.

13. Crafty things still happened over the course of the week. Progress is good on my Eastern Jewels blanket.


14. I’ve included my new labels on a couple of things I’ve made for this year’s Stitching Santa parcel.

15. Yes, yet more made from the leftover lilac faux sheepskin – it’s the fabric that just keeps giving! I will reveal all in a future blog post.

No.2 Son is at home for a second week of half term, but his little brother goes back to school tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to some time together before he goes back to boarding school. I hope your half term is going well, too!


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Sunday Sevens #132

Linking up with Natalie at Threads and Bobbins for this week’s Sunday Sevens – a weekly blog series in photos.

1. Progress on the ‘Scrappy’ blanket has been good.

Although I had to buy five more balls of yarn so it’s no longer strictly a scrappy blanket.


2. Managed a glass of red and a homemade pork pie at the pub whilst The Boys played in the playing field behind. We even sat in the garden as the rain held off. Still chilly enough for a jumper though. Well, this is 3pm in August!


3. Another day, another pub. Our local has been closed for a couple of months and is now under new management. The Boys took their light sabres to use as guns. As you do. Our walk takes us past this thatched cottage in the village.


4. A pint and a bag of crisps. It should be written into the Human Rights bill.


5. The blackberries are coming thick and fast – I’m picking over three pounds a day from our bush in the garden alone! Good job it’s thornless. The apples are from mum’s tree.


6. A rare Chinese takeaway – The Boy’s favourite treat.


7. I gave No.2 Son a ‘holiday haircut’.

8. I didn’t realise he had this much to lose!

9. Breakfast at Heathrow airport before heading off to France for the week. It took us an hour and a half to drive to the airport and just forty-five minutes to fly to Paris!


10. I love France’s café culture.


11. And food!


12. Pretty street corners of the district we stayed in – Croissy sur Seine.


13. We did the sights, after all, the last time I visited Paris was as a schoolgirl back in 1979!

L’Arc Du Triomphe


14. Tour Eiffel


15. Sacre Coeur


16. If you turn around 180 degrees, the view over Paris from the Sacre Coeur is breathtaking. Here are two of the Littlies taking a break – we walked eight miles that day!


17. The iconic Metro.


18. We walked the quick way up to the Montmartre district (for which read ‘steep’). Mr. H-L can be seen about half way up the steps struggling to keep up!


19. Montmartre is all about the artists – and they are everywhere.


20. It was fascinating to watch portraits come together before your very eyes.


21. Of course, we HAD to have chocolate and banana crepes while we were there!


22. Relaxing with the locals.


23. Lots of good food and drink (again) and good times spent with family (again).


24. Landing in London to – you guessed it – more rain!


25. Still, we’re grateful to have Fifi to come home to. I’ve vowed not to leave her again as she has needed an emergency trip to the Vet’s whilst we’ve been abroad the last two times. She has recurring mammary tumours and a heart murmur which flare up frequently. Whether she’ll survive this latest bout remains to be seen, but at least she is comfortable and happy – for now.


She’s lying on the bed beside me whilst I type this, snoring quite contentedly wrapped in bandages and her little rainbow coat.

Bless her.


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Sunday Sevens #125

A bit late with this week’s Sunday Sevens as we’ve just come back from a few days away. Linking up with Natalie at Threads & Bobbins who thought it up initially, Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series showing seven-ish photos of your week outside the blog.

1. The Bluebells are at their best everywhere now, covering shady wooded areas in a glorious carpet of colour.


2. May is the month for Wisteria in England and it is beginning to flower on many a house locally. These are just a few I snapped whilst walking the dogs earlier in the week.




3. Lighter and sunnier evenings mean that riding is more fun for The Boys.


4. Ali from Thimberlina put a pic on Instagram of a really pretty top she had made. I tracked the pattern and fabric down and ordered it straight away!


5. Our Ascot Ladies’ Day tickets arrived! Now I’ve got to start thinking about making a frock….


6. The only crafting I’ve managed this week is this crocheted lily for a young lady called Jenny who is terminally ill. She requested crocheted flowers for her coffin and the IG community rallied around immediately to make her final wish come true, pledging flowers with the hashtag #aflowerforjenny.


7. Mr. H-L took me out for breakfast to ‘At The Chapel‘ on Friday as the start of our weekend away. Then we picked The Boys up from school and dropped them at my brother’s before driving on to Ross-on-Wye – more about that in a separate post.


Hope you had a good week – in fact, I’m just going to sit down and catch up on some blog reading now to see what you’ve been up to in my absence. Ta-ta for now!


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Sunday Sevens #118

1. The wallpaper for the downstairs loo arrived and is even better than it looked online. Can’t wait for it to be finished!


2. The obligatory pancakes were served up to the family on Shrove Tuesday. 


3. This half-finished lampshade has been picked up and is well on the way to being completed at last – only a year after I first started it and it’s been sat on top of the piano ever since, reminding me!


4. Hubby took me out for lunch after the disappointment of having to watch him eat last week when I was recovering from a bug.


5. We also managed to pop out for breakfast one morning in between some marathon sewing sessions.


6. If you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen lots of posts recording my progress on our fancy dress outfits last week. My sister had a Glastonbury festival themed 50th birthday party, and I made all of our costumes.

The Boys were Shirley Bassey and Freddie Mercury.


7. We went as Dolly Parton and Tom Jones.


8. I tried to recreate Shirley’s and Dolly’s outfits as closely as possible to the ones that they wore when performing at Glastonbury. It was also 80’s fancy dress, so I decided to make Freddie’s most iconic look. Mr H-L grew his goatee like Tom’s and we even sprayed his hair to make it more evenly grey.


9. My dear sister snapped this pic of me the morning after, looking the worse for wear after a BRILLIANT night.


10. Cooked breakfast, roast dinner AND a Chinese takeaway in the evening was what it took to make me feel better!!


Linking up with Natalie at Threads & Bobbins, Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series showing what your life is like outside the blog.