Saturday, 25 April 2020

Crochet, Crochet, Crochet!

One thing about the lockdown is that it has meant that we have had to find different ways to entertain ourselves other than going out.
      Apparently Netflix has had a huge upsurge in subscribers.
      As for me, I have been working on another large crochet project.
     Cherise, my daughter-in-law sent me a link to Cypress Textiles where they had a pattern for a blanket made up of plain and rose hexagons The Happy Little Tree Crochet Blanket - sorry I've forgotten how to copy the link and insert it, but if you type that into google you should be able to find it.
      The pattern is made into an oblong blanket, but I decided I was fed up with squares and oblongs and decided to make a more organic pattern made up of circles of hexagon shapes.
      I had a number of balls of variagated wool, not sure of the correct term, but it is wool that changes colour as you crochet or knit it up, and I'd been looking for a pattern that would suit it for some time. I decided that the 'Rose Hexagons' would be ideal, as flowers are often variagated.
    I had several different colour ways of wool, so decided for a start to make up a circle using just one variation on the colour way. I wanted quite a regular pattern, with a plain hexagon at the centre, surrounded by a ring of rose hexagons, which would be surrounded by an outer ring of plain hexagons again. To me this looked like a series of circular flower beds with walk ways in between.
Some of the wool was variagated blue, which to me represents water, so some of the flower beds are (to me) pools, with floating flowers in them.
     To be honest although I loved the rose hexagons, I found the pattern for the plain hexagon much more difficult to follow, for some reason. So I decided to make my own version which I found simpler and easier to do. I'll put it at the bottom so you can have a go if you like.
     This bedspread? turned out to be rather like a repeating fractal pattern: the centre is a pale blue (water) hexagon, surrounded by six Rose Hexagons, which are surrounded by twelve more plain hexagons. This group/pattern  of 19 hexagons was replicated a total of nineteen times. So that the central group was surrounded by a ring of six more groups, which were in turn surrounded by another ring of twelve more groups.
     I liked both the repetitions, and the variations within those repetitions. The central blue pool is echoed by three groups around the edge which are blue pools with floating flowers.
     When I had finally finished and got everything sewn together, I decided I needed some sort of edging to the whole thing. I first tried using the light blue which I had used to create the 'pool' groups, but it didn't look right. Then Graham suggested I use a dark colour instead, so I went for a deep navy blue.
     Unfortunately the fringing pattern I went for, takes quite a bit of wool, and I ran out. I wondered whether to pull the whole thing back and just try and find some wool I had lots of. Then I decided instead to make a feature of the changes of colour in the fringing and also to make the lengths of the different colours a bit random. I went for colours that echoed those used in the main body of the work, but were solid and often deeper shades and I am really chuffed with the result.

The bottom picture is Graham doing an imitation of a jellyfish while draped in the bedspread (?)

As promised here is my crochet pattern for the Plain Hexagon I used above
It is in US crochet terms as I find those easier to remember.
Chain 4 and slip stitch to make a ring.
Round 1: chain 3 then 11 dc into the ring, ss to close
Round 2: chain 4 (which = dc + ch), dc+ch 11 more times working into the tops of the stitches of Round 1 - go through both top loops of each stitch
Round 3: this turns the circle into a hexagon and you will work into the ch1 space of the previous row. ss into the next ch1 space, ch2 + 1sc in the same space, next space sc x 2, ch1, sc x 2 (this gives you a corner) so you will alternate between these two stitch patterns, next space will be 2 x sc, and the space after will be another corner, sc x 2, ch 1, sc x 2, continue around making 6 corners and ss to finish.
And that is a plain hexagon

And just in case you are interested, I had to make 114 rose hexagons and 247 plain to make the above bedspread (?). If I'd thought about that before hand, I would never have got it done, so I concentrated on working on a circle of 19 at a time.

Monday, 13 April 2020

How To Build a Temple

I decided to write an article on how to get creative, then (typically) I couldn't think of a single thing to write about!
     Creativity can be expressed in an infinite number of ways, you just have to think about how or what you would like to be creative with.
     If you have internet access, then you have an unending source of ideas, images, recipes etc.
     A pen and some paper is a very versatile start to creativity. You can keep a diary, write down your dreams, draw and paint on the paper, write stories, poems, prayers or rituals. You can download images and create a scrapbook of ideas which appeal to you.
    You could create a temple in a book, or on a piece of paper.
     The front page could be an image of the entrance to your temple. It could be an image of a classical Greek or Roman building, or the entrance to a castle or stately home, long barrow or even a door in a tree, or a gate through a hedge or into a garden.
     You could then imagine what it would be like to enter your temple.
     Would the entrance be dark and mysterious, would there be candles, wall lights or exotic lamps, or would it be bright and welcoming or even open to the sky? Would your pathway spiral down into the earth, are there steps leading upwards, or will you walk through trees or by beautiful flower beds?
     Are you alone or are there other creatures or beings there? Can you see them, or just hear them in the distance, is there the sound of bird song, voices chanting, music, the sound of trickling water, the chiming of bells? Is there a perfume of sweet flowers or of incense, or maybe the smell of cooking?
     You can create whichever kind of temple suits you. You can use images from books or magazines or from the internet to help you. Or you could build your temple in lego (other construction toys are also available) or bake it in gingerbread or shortbread or salt dough. You could make it a place in your garden, or create it in a box, a drawer, an old wardrobe, or just in your mind.
     You can adorn it in any way that pleases you: with gemstones and crystals, mirrors, seashells and sand, or leave it elegantly plain, or paint the walls like an Egyptian tomb or a Minoan palace, or with spirals, geometric shapes, flowers, birds or fantastical beasts.
     You might create a whole building or landscape, or just the entrance or the central place of worship.
     You might well find that your temple changes even as you create it, seeming to take on a life of its own.
     You could write a description of your temple and imagine yourself walking through it. You can sit in your sacred space and meditate, or you could lie down and sleep in your temple.
     You might wish to perform a special act of worship, or create a ritual or dance for the sheer joy of being, or for the pleasure of the spirits or gods.
     You might find this whole process ridiculous and have a darn good laugh about it.
     This is your temple, it doesn't have to be solemn and serious, it can be loving, funny, tasty even!
     It doesn't have to be perfect, or beautiful. It can be whatever it is and whatever you want or need it to be at this time.
     It may well be different the next time you visit.
     But whether you use it or not, it will always be waiting for you.
     Enter it or not, the choice is yours.

Sunday, 5 April 2020

Reasons To Be Cheerful (Part 1)

Yep that is a reference to the amazing Ian Dury and the Blockheads. Look him up on You Tube, now there was a man who knew how to make words work well.
     OK folks, I think it is time we stopped bewailing what we can't do and look at the positives.
     Today is the festival of Fortuna, the Goddess of luck and fortune, whose main symbol is the ever turning wheel.
     Fortuna's Wheel reminds us that change is inevitable and that also if we feel at our lowest ebb, that is when the Wheel will begin its journey upwards again.
     This time last year no-one had heard of Corona Virus or Covid 19 as they are now calling it. This time next year, Corona Virus will be a distant memory and we will be getting on with our lives again. So now is the time to make the most of what we have and what we can do.
     There are so many things we can do at home and I have a whole list of stuff to amuse Graham and myself including jigsaws, games, jobs around the house and garden. I haven't had a chance to look at my stamp collection for ages. There is also drawing, painting, writing and making things.
     This week Graham came out of Aldi with Treasure! There was some ombre wool reduced to clear, so he bought the lot, Four Balls! Ombre wool is yarn that goes from one colour or shade to another. And Oh! the Joy four new balls of wool gave me!
     Yes I am already working on quite a big project with my crocheting, but now I have some more lovely wool to prick my imagination and creativity with.

     There is lots to do in the garden. That is actually an unending source of busy-ness. At the moment Graham is creating a chicken wire fence to protect the new seedlings he has transplanted around the new archway.
      We have a bird bath in the front garden and that is a perennial source of entertainment, as the birds use it frequently. Sometimes you will see a relatively enormous pigeon, or even two, sitting in the water while sparrows periodically try to shoo it/them away.
     We recently unearthed a pair of binoculars and they are now to hand both for bird watching and also for star gazing - I popped outside at 3am this morning to have a look at the Moon as she was flooding the garden with light.
     We had a clear out of stuff in the living room, just before the isolation thing kicked in and found a load of pieces of fabric which I have been threatening to make into clothes for several years now.
     If you look around your home I am sure you too will have more stuff than you realised to occupy yourself with.
     If you have a pen and paper, you can draw.
     If you have a windowsill, you can garden (most supermarkets are still selling some kinds of plants in pots including culinary herbs). 
     You now have the time to practise your cooking skills - I had a go at baking for the first time for years.
     If you can see outside, or go outside into a garden, you can watch or listen to the birds, and of course tend to plants, cut the lawn etc.
     Oh and I haven't mentioned the positive effects on the planet the lock-down will be having.
     So few planes are flying, so few factories are working, so many fewer car journeys are being made that our atmosphere must be the cleanest it has been for centuries!
     Carbon emissions must be way down. In fact I bet some countries are now behaving as carbon sinks, drawing even more CO2 out of the atmosphere.
     Yes, we are not having a comfortable time, it is terrible not to be able to see friends and family and having to treat everyone we meet as if they or we are 'unclean' is very sad.
     But it seems to me that, whether we like it or not, by staying at home we are not only protecting ourselves and other people, but also (and perhaps more importantly) doing the Planet good.