Friday, 13 September 2019

The Emergency Crochet Kit !

When Graham and I go to do our weekly grocery shopping, very often I wait in the car while Graham goes round the shops with a list.
     We have found that it is usually quicker and easier for him to do this alone, rather than having to manouver me and my wheelchair about at the same time. Graham says that I am doing remote control shopping - although he does sometimes go 'off piste', which may involve beer, and one time he came back with a pair of strappy sandals he thought I might like (they were the wrong size, and will be lovely if I do decide to take up the oldest profession, but I was touched that he had thought of buying me something - actually one of the other (male) shoppers did say to Graham 'You're brave, I wouldn't dare buy my missus something like that!'.).
     What used to happen while he was in the supermarket was that I would have a Sudoku book and do a few puzzles while I waited, get bored, get very bored, try to stop myself falling asleep - because I was BORED!
    But now...... I crochet!
    I have a special crochet kit I take with me and I can get little bits and bobs done while he is in the shops, and I really enjoy it.

As you can see, my kit is quite simple, a few balls of yarn, my book of crochet recipes, a pair of scissors a pen and a bone crochet hook (which has two different sized hooks, one carved at either end). The phial has a few blunt needles for sewing in ends.
      As I have been learning to crochet, I would scribble down instructions from the online video's on scraps of paper, I then decided to write them down properly in this book, so they are all together. The book has the basic stitches written down, as well as recipes in very detailed form - including the 'yarn over hook and push through, yarn over and pull back, yarn over and pull through two loops' etc.
     Actually the bone crochet hook is there because one Sunday when we were going to a Boot Sale, when we arrived I realised I had all my kit, but no crochet hook. Luckily the very first stall Graham visited had this crochet hook which he bought and carried back in triumph to me.
     So this has become part of our routine. Before we set off, I grab my bag of crochet kit, so I can amuse myself while Graham is shopping.
     But this morning there was a crocheting emergency!
     For some reason I had taken the grip seal bag containing scissors and crochet hook out of the bag (I needed some blunt needles to sew on some of the elements of The Bedspread!) and I'd forgotten to put it back in. I just assumed that it was in there and it wasn't until Graham had gone off to the shops, that I picked up my bag to start crocheting and realised ....... Oh No! No crochet hook!
     Ye gods how bored was I? No crochet hook, no crocheting. I hadn't even got a pen either so I couldn't write about how BORED I was!
     When Graham got back I told him the problem and we drove into Hessle so that he could go and visit the little haberdashery/craft shop. He bought an emergency crochet hook and scissors and put them in the glove box, so now if I do happen to forget my kit, I can still crochet! yay!

     I love crocheting .

Friday, 6 September 2019

Stage Two : Filling In

Stage One of the bedspread is just about complete now - I know I have ends to fasten in and bits of finishing off to do. But all the 'fields' and other elements are now together as you can see here:

Although I am leaving the edge of 'sea' to the last as this is plenty heavy enough to manouver while I am working on the flowers, trees etc to go in the fields.
     I have also already positioned a couple of my extra pieces, but there are lots more to go in or on.
I wanted the bedspread to not only have lots of interest when you look at it, but also lots of textures, so if you are laying in bed in the dark, or with your eyes closed, you can feel different things, maybe tell where you are in the landscape from its feel as well as the picture it makes. So I deliberately made the 'watery' parts lumpy or ridged, and also the edges of the 'fields' are mainly raised also.
     Also because of the weird and wonderful selection of yarns Graham accumulated for me, there are some very different textures there too. There is the ultra-soft 'Teddy Bear' corn field, and there is a pink strip which has sparkly but scratchy feeling lurex. And of course the different stitches I've used also give different textures.
     To be honest, this is turning out even better in reality than it was in my head.
     I had no real plan, just a rough idea about what I was hoping to achieve - and it is getting there!

     Incidentally there is already one hidden pocket in the bedspread. You see the little house in the corner of the green field, next to the corn field? Just by the poppies? That is a boat house, and inside it is a little yacht which you can take out and sail down the river to the sea, or up into the sky and visit the moon.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Fun With Crochet

As I mentioned in my post on Crocheter's Cramp, I have been having fun piecing together the various 'fields' and other large pieces which will form the background and basic structure of  my bedspread.
    This has not been easy as some of the pieces I've made are not in the least square or even triangular.
     For a start I couldn't help looking at some of the gorgeous pieces of freeform crochet on the internet and I found a lovely instructional video from Sheru Knitting on making a swirly element. It struck me that this would make a beautiful base for my pond and river so I copied down the instructions and had a go at it.

I did add a bit extra too it and made the 'tail' a bit longer - actually I have since made it even longer as I wanted the 'river' to reach to the edge of the bedspread and therefore reach the 'sea' edging.
      One of the things I really liked about this tutor was that she said things like 'I have done 'x' number of these stitches, but you can do as many as you like.'
     All through this project, I have been experimenting, making shapes or  little pieces which may be hidden in pockets, or fastened in place. Such as these:

All of these are bits I just had a go at - I think the little couple may end up living inside the pavilion building.
     One of the balls of wool Graham found was a soft golden-orange tinsel-like yarn called 'Teddy Bear' and I thought straight away what a beautiful field it would make, very like a ripe wheat field. I t also felt lovely and soft and cuddly.

     As you can see from the second picture, as it was called 'Teddy Bear' yarn, I just had to have a go at making a little bear. I know it isn't perfect, but I did not use a pattern, I just had a go.

     Amazing what you can do when you are having fun with crochet!

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Havering About

I don't think there was ever a time when my mum was 'just' a housewife.
     I remember being told when I started work (45 years ago) that men got higher wages than women doing the same work, because men supported the family. The attitude was that women only worked for 'pin' money, for money for luxuries to supplement the family income and not through necessity.
     And yet I knew that in my family, as in many others, there were times when the only money coming in was whatever my mother earned.
     My dad was a self-employed builder/decorator/plumber/handyman and also suffered several long periods of physical and mental illness as I was growing up.
     Both of my parents did whatever work they could find and living in a Lincolnshire village, the main work available to women was land work. This was usually as part of a 'gang', a group of women who went from farm to farm usually picking vegetables, or whatever was ready for harvesting, and very often potatoe picking. This was 'piece' work, so you were paid by how many sacks of potatoes you filled, so the quicker you could pick, the better.
     But there were some jobs which were solitary, such as collecting eggs from the battery hens, or havering.
     Havering was a job for high Summer, when the corn had turned golden and was almost ready for harvesting.
     When the grain was harvested, the farmer was paid by the quality of the grain, and one of the criteria was how many non-wheat/barley/oat seeds were counted in a sample. So the job of the haverer was to walk through the cornfield with a haver-sack pulling out weeds, by hand, that is: any plant growing in the field which is not wheat etc.
    It is not until you begin walking through a field of wheat that you really find out just how many other grasses and weeds are growing in there.
     This was not a job where you walked up and down the rows, you zig-zagged across the field, sweltering under the hot sun, wearing heavy gloves and thick clothes to fend off the prickly and stinging weeds and also the surprisingly sharp heads of grain. You pulled out the weeds wherever you found them, and stuffed them into your sack.
     So this rural work gives us two words which we use without thinking: the haversack, literally the sack you stuff the haver into and also the phrase 'havering about', which means dithering and acting uncertainly, and comes from the way the haverers would wander seemingly randomly across the fields instead of walking straight across.
      It can also refer to a rambling story which starts off in one place and finishes somewhere completely different.
     Rather like this article.

Friday, 23 August 2019

Crocheter's Cramp

Now, you know that I have only relatively recently taken up crocheting again - and I am REALLY enjoying it!
     Which does mean that I have been doing rather a lot of it.
     A month or so back I suddenly found myself in extreme pain if I took a deep breath, laughed, coughed, sneezed or got vaguely out of breath in any way.
     Relaxed, I was ok, but whenever I took a deep breath there would be a pain in my belly and side.
     I was a bit worried (to put it mildly) but between us, Graham and I worked out that I was suffering a sort of muscle cramp.
     The same sort of thing you get in the gym if you do too many stomach crunches.
     The way I'd been sitting, hunched over a low table while I put together pieces of crochet meant I had been unconsciously holding myself in a very still, set position for an hour or maybe (probably) more. And eventually the body decides it has had enough of that!
     So I had to take it easy. Make sure I sat up and back and didn't hold any position for too long. And after a few days the pain eased up and went away.
     Well, now I am getting to another fun part of the bedspread and am fastening together all the 'fields'. There are some interesting, odd shaped gaps to fill in and then I will get to add the decorations of flowers, trees etc.
     So I am getting quite excited about it.
     And also maybe doing a little tiny bit more of sitting hunched over the table than I ought to.
     Actually I noticed it last night. But, hey, I felt ok! (Well, maybe a little twinge) And I was being more careful, making sure I sat up and back whenever I could.
     Then this morning, things had seized up.
     Damn it!
     So I had to admit to Graham that I've got crocheter's cramp again.....

     Wonder if I could just do a few little pieces?
     I should be ok!

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Getting Creative

Ok, so once you have a few basic stitches and shapes you are ok with, you can start to make other things.
     For a start the Basic Five Petal Flower pattern lends itself to several variations. Put two together on top of one another and you have a more 3d, ten petalled flower, or make a bright red four petalled version, give it a black middle and you have a lovely field poppy.

     The same pattern in green gives a three lobed clover leaf, especially if you add a bit of chain stitching to make a stem. I liked this one a lot, and decided one of my 'fields' would be full of clover. So off I went, crocheting a batch of three lobed clover leaves, and just one four lobed clover leaf.

     I liked the leaves. So I decided to try and make some more different shaped ones.
     Back to the internet and the wide world of simple crocheting tutorial videos!
     I found a lovely simple leaf  Made one, liked it, made lots more in shades of green. Then suddenly realised that I could also make them in Autumnal shades which meant I could make even more in lots of bright colours.
     Also I realised that if I added a little chain stitched 'stem' to the leaf, I could keep crocheting and add another leaf at the end of the 'stem'. Then I could join more and more and make a long stem of leaves - I did get a bit carried away.

     Meanwhile I was also having a go at making some trees.
     These were all simply improvised, trying my hand at various shapes, and some were devised to make use of a particular ball of wool I happened to have.

     These stylised 'lolipop' trees were created because I have some beautiful rich green wool, but it is very thick. It reminds me of the rich green used in medieval clothes or Pre-Raphaelite paintings, so I had to find a way of incorporating some of it.
     Meanwhile I had come across 'scumble' crocheting which is another or alternate name for freeform crocheting. You make various decorative elements or motifs, then work these together into a larger piece.
     I had no idea what I was doing, but I fiddled about crochetting a bubbly green piece and realised it could be a bush, or the top of a tree. So the first piece became an oak tree (well that's what I think it looks like).

     I may make some longer thinner pieces for some of the wilder 'hedge rows' but I haven't decided yet.
     There is so much I want to try and so much I want to incorporate, you may need a crane to lift the finished bedspread!

Saturday, 17 August 2019


One thing you find with the Internet, is that if is discovers that you have an interest in something, whether that be model railways, porn or crocheting, whenever you are looking for stuff online, it will show you lots to do with your particular interest.
     So when I started looking for crochet flower tutorials, I got LOTS of them for me to choose from.
     I soon found that you have to use a tutorial that suits you.
     I also found that what people mean by a certain term can vary from person to person, let alone from country to country.
     For example in the UK, what we call a treble crochet, in the US is called a double crochet. So I would have to watch carefully and make intricate notes about individual stitches (yarn over, push through, yarn over, pull back, yarn over pull through two loops on the hook etc) to be sure I was using the exact same stitch as the tutor.
     I also know that although I need exact and precise instructions to follow, I am quickly going to get fed up if the same thing is continually repeated.
     So the best video's for me are where one or two petals are explained in detail, then the tutor says something like, 'Repeat that three more times and I'll meet you at the end.'
     Great! I can do that!.
     Some videos are designed for you to crochet along with the tutor, which sounds like a great idea. But I don't want to sit in front of my pc crocheting, I want to sit in front of the TV. So I need to be able to make detailed notes of instructions in a form I can understand, not just while watching the video, but while sitting on the sofa in a month or so from now.
     Something else you need on a video is a voice that you can get along with. No matter how good the instructions are, if they are given in a high pitched, squeaky voice that is more suitable for bat's hearing and makes your ears bleed, that is no good for me.
     Neither is a slow, ponderous monotone that will give you a row of 50 stitches, all exactly the same and delivered in the same words and voice. This is crocheting for insomniacs - it certainly puts me to sleep.
     I may be a beginner, and an elderly one at that, but just skip to the chase and say: 'Do the rest of the row in the same way and I'll meet you at the end.' These are videos after all! You can pause them, backtrack and go over the same piece as many times as you need to - and believe me, I did!

     OOOOOoooooh! Freeform Crochet! Now that makes my heart leap with joy!
     I had never heard of it, never seen any of it, but suddenly there it was, amongst these tutorial videos there appeared these beautiful, intricate concoctions of colour and pattern.
     This was crocheting off piste!
     This was Creative with a capital 'C'.
     This was definitely something I want to learn!