Saturday, 22 January 2022

Happy New Year!

 Well I have had a busy time crocheting stuff for various friends and relatives for Christmas, and I must admit I have loved every minute!

    The only down side was that I couldn't share pictures of what I had been up to, in case the recipients saw something they would later get as a pressy.

    So for a start, I found a lovely pattern for a HUGE flower*, which I decided was ideal to make into a cushion cover. And I used the same colours to make a flat back to the cover. I loved making it so much that I made LOADS of different colour ways, and tried to pick ones I hoped the recipient would like. 

    For example I made one for our friend Angela, who breeds Wicani Collies and I picked colours which are all found in her lovely dogs. Including a sparkling white which reminded me of Bridie's beautiful shining mane/neck ruff.



These pictures show the fronts and backs of just some of the cushion covers I made. Of course they were all sent out with a nice plump cushion inside.


This is an octopus hat I made for Cherise, Mike's wife. It was very complicated as I had a picture from the internet and just a few hints and tips to go on. So I decided the only way to do it was to have a go.

    Happily Cherise is really pleased with it.

    Then a couple of weeks before christmas I asked our grandson if he would like me to make him a bedspread. He said yes and drew me a picture of what he wanted and told me the colours he wanted too. Then asked if it would be ready for christmas ... I had to tell him no it wouldn't.

    However I wanted him to have it as soon after christmas as possible, so my christmas 'holiday' was spent mainly crocheting squares. 


As you can see from the finished article, I used the circle to square pattern, as that is nice and easy, but can give a good variety of colour variations. I got the bedspread finished on New Year's Eve, so it was ready to give Eden as a New Year gift.


*HUGE Flower can be found at Bianca's Crochet Palace, Crochet Flower 3D Granny Square



Monday, 20 December 2021

Rosy Garland Necklace

 I fancied seeing if I could make a flowery crocheted necklace, and here is the result:


I started off making roses in various sizes. The original rose pattern I found at Rahooqa as part of a rose necklace.

These roses are really easy to make:

Chain 65 and into the 4th chain from the hook do a dc *ch1, miss 2 ch, (dc,ch2,dc,ch1) in next st. Repeat from * to end. In last ch do a dc. This makes a row of 'V' stitches.

Row 2: 6 x dc into 1st ch2 sp, sc in next ch1 sp. do this 6 times.

(7 x dc into next ch2 sp, sc in next ch1 sp) 12 times

(9 x dc in next ch2 sp, sc in next ch1 sp) to end.

Leave long tails at both ends, use this to sew/weave in and fasten the rose. Roll up the rose with the biggest petal on the outside, and sew it together with one of your long ends.


I made roses of different sizes simply by varying the number of stitches in the first chain. So there are a couple which are worked in a ch 45, and another couple in  a ch 25. And I used shades of red and pink for them, whatever I had to hand.


A leafy chain is used to fasten all the roses together into the garland shape and it is done in green. Start off with a simple chain of 17 stitches, then make a leaf. I did this by continuing with another 5 chains, then making this mini chain into a ring of 5 with a slip stitch. Ch1 then into the little ring you've just made do 2 x 1/2 dc, 2 x dc, 2 x tr, then a chain3 picot ss back into the top of the treble just made, then 2 x tr, 2 x dc, 2 x 1/2 dc and ss back into the starting ch. Do another 17 chain then make another leaf.

Then ch2 and ss into the back of a rose, I had to work across the back of the rose with slip stitches and made another leaf when I got to the other side, then a couple of chains and join in another rose. I just continued in this manner, making leaves between the flowers until I'd got all my roses added in. 

This ended up making quite a chunky necklace, which is fastened simply by knotting the ends of the start and end chains together.

You could simply use it as a decorative garland or even stitch it around the neck of a jumper.

I quite enjoyed making this and I have a few more ideas for making different necklaces.

I think the next one I try might be based on peacock feather 'eyes'.



Tuesday, 23 November 2021

When is the Festival of Samhain?

Every day I try to put up some interesting magical or occult info related to the date on my Facebook page. And I must admit that this post was inspired by a lady who was extremely critical that I had put the 16th of November as Hecate Night, as she told me that this festival is timed by the Moon and made it quite clear that I was wrong and as she put it 'facts are facts'.
    So I thought I would write about something every Witch and Pagan is aware of, the date of the festival of Samhain. The simple answer to this question is that the festival of Samhain is: the evening of the 31st of October, known today as Halloween.
    But Samhain is a Celtic festival, and the Celts used a lunar calendar, based on the New and Full Moons. this is one of the reasons the the Full Moons have been given names through the centuries, and these names vary depending on the beliefs and farming practises used by different cultures and at different times in history.
    The Full Moon nearest to the Autumn Equinox is still known as the Harvest Moon and the full moon which follows it is the Hunter's Moon. And the Hunter's Moon marks the feast of Samhain.
    Now this is all well and good but Full Moons fall on different dates each year by our current solar, Gregorian calendar. So the nearest Full Moon to the 31st of October could be up to a fortnight before or after this date. So that gives you a whole month (moonth) when you could choose to celebrate the festival of Samhain.
    There is also the added complication when we take into account the change of our calendar from the Old Style Julian Calendar to the New Style Gregorian Calendar.
    These two calendars were and are massively out of sync with each other. To move to the Gregorian calendar in 1752, was done in the UK by simply printing calendars with Wednesday the 2nd of September, being followed the next day as Thursday the 14th of September. This meant that it looked like 11 days had been excised from the calendar and did lead to rioting in the streets of London, with mobs demanding the return of their 'lost' days'.
    Now actually the UK was quite late in adopting this calendar and it had been in use on the Continent for some time. So if you were a merchant passing between Europe and Britain, you were used to swapping between calendars as they were being used in the different countries.
    So to return to our question: When do we celebrate Samhain? If we celebrate on the 31st of October, by the Old Style Julian Calendar the 31st of October would fall 11 days later on the 11th of November.
    So the answer to the question is: we can celebrate Samhain on a full Moon that falls between around the 15th of October and the 14th of November, or the 31st of October, or the 11th of November.
    But hang on a cotton picking moment! Many modern covens and magical groups have set days of the week when they hold their meetings and rituals, for example on a Friday or Saturday night, so they may well celebrate Samhain on a Friday or Saturday night nearest to the 31st of October, or the 11th of October, or the Full Moon nearest to one or other of those dates.
    In fact there are some Witches and covens who deliberately do not celebrate Samhain on the 31st of October. This is because they do not want their preparations and rituals interrupting by children out 'Trick or Treat'ing. Instead they may well hold a 'Trick or Treat' party on the 31st of October and pick a quieter night for their rituals.
    We have to also bear in mind that on the astral planes there is no 'time', there are no 'dates' and no 'calendar' so the spirits will come whenever they are invited to.
    Some time in the far distant past someone, or some group decided that this time of year was the right time to hold a celebration which became Samhain. This is how all celebrations, festivals and saints days were allocated - and are still being created and allocated.
    We can each decide when we will celebrate and there are many reasons why we might choose a specific date.
    There is nothing 'wrong' or 'incorrect' about any of the dates for Samhain, or for any other festival.
    The important thing is that we hold these celebrations.


    

Sunday, 31 October 2021

I've Got That Samhain Feeling!

 Ever since I was tiny wee, I have looked forward to Hallowe'en.

    The darker nights, the feeling of magic, the idea of Witches and Ghosts.

    These days Halloween (note the new spelling!) is a much more widely celebrated night than it was when I was a child. The best we could hope for as far as entertainment went, was to hope that one or two of the children's tv shows did a Hallowe'en special. 

    We did not trim up at home, there were no Halloween decorations in the shops. Trick or Treat was unknown.

    I remember one year asking my mum if I could make a swede lantern - pumpkins had not yet reached rural Lincolnshire, so I had to go the traditional rout.

    My word! Have you tried hollowing out an uncooked swede?! After a good half an hour of serious work, I had a tiny hollow in the top which would not even take a night light. My hands were aching and fingers were developing blisters.  So no Hallowe'en lantern that year.

    It wasn't until Graham and I got together that we were able to really celebrate the festival, and boy have we made the best of it ever since!

    

Samhain is the most important festival of the Witch's year. In Celtic times it was a day that belonged neither to the old year nor to the new, so it was literally a day that is not a day, a time that is not a time. Any time which is on the border between things happening, eg the twilight time between sunset and full dark, is known as a crack between the worlds. But Samhain has a full day between the worlds, which gives spirits of all kinds the chance to cross over from their world to ours, and also allows us to make spirit journeys to other worlds too.

    Many old stories and songs speak of strange meetings happening at this time of year. This is the time when the Faery Court, the Seelie Court, rides out. They are looking for people to carry back to elf land with them. They might be looking for lovers or servants, wet nurses for Faery babies, or musicians, or seers.

    This is also the night when those who have been carried off can make their way home, or be rescued by the brave ones.

    This is the night when the Devil rides out too. And when Witches have their special meetings.

    This is always a night to try some divination even if it something simple like peeling an apple and throwing the peel over you left shoulder. See if it forms the initial of your future lover. Or try the art of mirror gazing, when spirits will peep over your shoulder to show themselves in your mirror.

    You could cast the runes and see what the year ahead has in store for you. Or draw a Tarot card from the pack and see the theme of your next few months.

    This is always the time to welcome friends and relatives whether they are in this world or the next. Light a candle and raise a glass to 'absent friends', and give them a little nip of wine or alcohol too - the spirits enjoy those vapours.

    Whatever you do tonight, make it fun.





Friday, 29 October 2021

Dogs Don't Understand English

The days are getting shorter and the nights longer. And it is certainly a lot darker in the mornings when Graham takes Tallulah out for her morning walk.
    Graham does go out at 6.45 am, which is a bit early for most folks, but he gets back at around 7.30 and then we have breakfast.
    He has been having to take his torch with him recently though, as when they hit the woods, if it is cloudy then it can be pitch dark in there, and he needs the torch to follow the path. Tallulah seems to be fine though, she obviously has better night vision and is enjoying wandering about in the dark.
    A couple of mornings recently he has missed the turn off he usually takes to bring him back out of the woods and has found himself on unfamiliar ground. This is a combination of the darkness plus the fallen leaves which cover both the path and the surrounding areas so it is more difficult to tell which is path and which isn't.
    This morning he got properly lost. In a woodland which he has walked for years. But it is a time when all sorts of creatures are making their presence felt, including the Fairy Folk who like to lead travellers off their known routes.
    He shone the torch around, but there was nothing familiar about where he was. He could have wandered about for hours until it became light enough to actually see where he was. Nor was Tallulah anywhere to be seen.
    Graham called for Tallulah and she quickly appeared and ran to him. Graham spoke to her and said, 'I know you don't understand English, but daddy is lost, so if you know the way to the path can you show me?'
    Of course Tallulah does not understand English at all, she is just a dog.
    So she went about ten yards away, then stopped to see if Graham was following. When he reached her, she went another ten yards or so and waited again. They continued in this way for only a short time and they were back on familiar ground.
    So our very clever dog, who of course is just a dog, and knows no English, had shown Graham how to find his way out of the woods and home.


    

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Mandala Recipes

 On my last blog I had managed to find the photos of some Mandalas I have been crocheting, but as it was a spontaneous thing, I didn't have the info on the mandala recipes to hand so here we go:


Now, I have two choices about which recipe this one is. Both of the recipes are nice and easy for anyone to have a go at, but I am not sure which recipe I used here. It could be 'A Small Mandala' by Karin Ashammar from Virklust. 

Alternately it might be Crochet Mandala by Annie Design Crochet. I know I have tried both recipes and they are lovely little Mandalas, one only has 8 rows and the other 11.


This one is a recipe by Attic 24 and is simply called Mandala. This lady does a lot of interesting small projects and I find her recipes easy to follow. Rather than videos these tend to be photos accompanying the recipes, but she does explain nicely what she is doing.


Rats I put the wrong info down for this one! I know I should have put labels on them while I was doing them, but I got carried away. 




This is a really easy pattern which uses seven colours and a size 6 hook. The video is Mandala Stitch Along with Mikey, from The Crochet Crowd. It has 50 rows, but the stitches are really easy and you don't even need to worry about how to put the colours together as he gives a couple of different colour combinations you can try.

Of course, I rarely have the recommended colours, so I use whatever appeals to me.


This is the biggest of the Mandalas and is called Crochet Mandala Madness (which it really is!). The recipe was created by Helen Shrimpton, but I used a series of videos on You Tube by Esther Dijkstra from 'itsallinanutshell.com' I really would recommend looking at the videos to help you follow what is going on.

This is a series of 18 videos, and to be honest I only got to row 87 of 111. But I had started with a 4.5 hook when a 3mm was recommended and it had already got so HUGE that if I had carried on I think we could have carpeted the house with it!.

I really enjoyed doing it as it taught me all sorts, for example the white spiky star bits you have to carry the white yarn along the blue row, to the next spiky star, rather than cutting off and rejoining. Esther Dijkstra demonstrated and explained how to do this very carefully, so I was able to do it (and felt really chuffed that I managed it too!).

Hope some of this info is helpful

I am sure I am not the only person who appreciates all the free recipes, videos and instructions you can find on the internet. 

I love experimenting with the colour combinations and finding new stitches to try out, but I've also found that you can make some really interesting pieces using a few basic stitches, but combining them in different ways.

Friday, 8 October 2021

Back to the Blog !

 Sorry I haven't blogged for a while. There have been a couple of reasons for that.

One: Tallulah was mated back in August and we had been hoping for the patter of many tiny paws. But unfortunately it was not to be.

    I was a bit more disappointed than I'd expected, especially as Tallulah was showing all the signs of being pregnant. But when the due date passed and nothing happened I rang Angela, our breeder friend, to let her know and she told us that once they have been mated, their hormones make their bodies act as if they are pregnant, whether they are or not. So it is very difficult to tell whether they are or not.

    Another reason is that I have been doing lots of crocheting - but most of the stuff I have been doing is for christmas pressey's for various people. So even though I am really chuffed with the stuff I have been doing, I can't show it to anyone online, in case someone who will eventually get one for christmas sees it!

    And another reason is that we have a problem with photos, in that I have them on my brand spanking new phone thingy, but I don't know how to get them from the phone onto the computer or into my blog, or facebook etc.

    I think I shall have to ask Mike for another masterclass in this aspect of phone ownership.

    Now, I have managed to send all the photos on my phone ....... somewhere.

 



Ye Gods! I found one and inserted it!

Hang on let's try that again!


I have been doing mandalas, but I started small, and then got carried away








Of course the first two should have been the last two in this sequence, as that is the sequence I made them in. Sorry I am totally disorganised because I didn't know I could do that inserty thing!

    Right now I know what I am doing, watch this space, there will be MUCH MORE blogging going on very shortly!