Sunday, 30 November 2014

I'm joining in Blogmas....

You may remember I was complaining that I never record Christmas, I'm too busy living rather than listing. It's a good way to be, but it does rather mean that I have no records to look back on and nod at wisely while I say to myself, "I would never do that again."
I have signed up to a Christmas Card swap organised by Amy at Love Made My Home as part of which I have been twinned with Red Setter at Gone Beading and a new friend, I hope, Sandra at Diary of a Stay At Home Mom. Because I'd never visited her before, I was scrolling through her blog to get an idea of what she likes when I came across her post about Blogmas. Sandra has a lovely picture, with a list of 25 topics to write about every day in the lead up to Christmas.

Writing the answers to these questions should give me a good record of what makes Christmas in my house. I can't promise to post everyday unless I get completely organised with scheduled posts and pictures uploaded before, but I will try hard to, and do a weekly digest if I don't get the chance. I'm looking forward to it, and to sending my card off to Sandra in the USA as soon as I get the chance.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

It's coming..... No, not Winter.....


And it will be fun.

Can you tell what it's going to be yet? By next week (or the week after) I should be ready for a Ta Dah!!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Crochet Christmas Tree Crap instructions. With mega apologies.

This is my first attempt, and possibly my last, at writing a pattern. Surprisingly (or not) I actually found myself wishing I could do this as a chart. Perhaps I really do think better in chart form sometimes. Do your best.


Terms used are English crochet;Ch= chainTr= treble crochet (yarn round hook, hook in, wrap yarn round, pull through, yarn round, pull through first two loops, yarn round, pull through next two loops. One loop on needle.)Sl=slip stitch (hook through, yarn round pull through work and loop on needle at the same time)Dc= double crochet (hook through top stitches, yarn round, pull through, yarn round and pull through two loops on needle. One loop left on needle) Materials required for each tree;

DK wool. It doesn’t take 100g, so use your stash up.
Appropriate sized needle. Tension doesn’t matter here, so do what suits
30cm length of dowelling. I used 1cm diameter and 2.5 cm diameter
Buttons. It’s a great way to use up a button surplus
Ricrac. I used 1cm wide, but whatever is good. Or use braid, or thin ribbon. Be creative! Actually even using a single length of chain stitch is pretty.
Small amount of toy stuffing

A stand. I used grouting in a tuna tin, but a crafty person could drill a hole in a circle of wood cut to a good size, or a teacup, a glass, or push the end into clay or playdough. Whatever suits.

 1. Chain 4 (last 3 form 1st tr) 

2.Tr into the first chain. 2 stitches.


4. Ch 3. Tr into base of chain stitch. Tr twice into 2nd stitch. 4 stitches in total.


5. (and 6) Increasing at each end of the row and straight treble stitches across, crochet the next row. 6 stitches.

7. Continue increasing at each end and straight treble stitches across for a total of 10 rows. You will have 20 stitches running across.

8. Sl 5 across to form tree shaping edge


9. Ch 3. Tr into base of chain, tr 8, 2 tr into next stitch. Turn, Ch 3, treble to last stitch, 2 treble into last stitch.

10. (and 11) You can see the pattern starts again. Crochet another 9 rows to make the second tier of the tree. (the photo in 11 shows what you’re looking to achieve)

12. sl 5, ch 3, tr into base of chain, tr across to 6 stitches from the end. Tr twice into the next stitch.

13. Keep increasing at either end of the rows. Crochet another 10 rows until you have a Christmas tree shape. Repeat to make two identical shapes.

14. Using double crochet, join the two pieces together with either the same or a contrasting shade of wool. Start this at the base, obviously. I tried to start on one side of the opening and finish by crocheting on the back side of the tree.

15. At the outer points, dc 3  to make a turn.  Leave a 2 to 3 cm gap in the base.

16. Stuff, place a dowel in the middle, decorate. 

Yes, I know these are crap instructions. I trust you to not be thick and to do what works for you. Hey, I don’t use many patterns and those I do get fiddled with. I’m never going to make mega bucks showing you how to do something. Be brave, it’s a tree not rocket science. Has it worked? Well done, go put it on your table and smile. Has it gone wrong? Pick it to pieces and begin again. Try again. Think it through. And if you’re still reading, thank you for your patience. To alter the size, basically cut off rows in your head. I made my cream tree using 8 as my base. In other words, crochet 8 rows, slip stitch in 4 stitches, crochet 8, slip stitch in 4, crochet 8. I’m guessing that you could do a 6-4 tree or a 4-2 tree, but that would be so dinky. I might try that during Strictly tonight. 

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Trees, trees, trees

How peculiar that trees have become such a predominant symbol of Christmas. What did we do before the humble Christmas tree? Imagine a pre-1841 household, bereft of a great big enormous space filler that means I have to start thinking a couple of weeks before it goes up just what is stuffed behind my favourite corner chair, will it be on view, do I have to take it elsewhere in my stuffed like a turkey house, or can I just plonk the base there and fill in any visible gaps at the base with a ready-wrapped present pile that works as a disguise from December 1st until the 25th, when who gives a flying squirrel what lies behind anyway, because the whole house is heaving after a month spent rampaging to carol concerts, last minute shopping, making sure that the obligatory family visits have been done and panicking that if Aunty Carol turns up with serious presents you won't have anything more than a tin of Walker's Shortbread to pass over.
It must have been bliss.

But the Christmas tree dates from pagan times (or Martin Luther, depending on who got to Wikipedia last) and we're stuck with it.

This year I have really enjoyed crocheting little bits and bobs for the house so inspiration struck one September day and I set to work. It sounds crazy, but it took me two months to finish them I hooked the bodies and joined them in less than a day.
They sat around for a couple of weeks while I waited for the wooden dowelling to form the stand to be delivered.

Then another couple of weeks to think hard whether there was any stuffing in the house or was it hidden well in the Craft Attic and then sitting it by the chair (stuffed behind so that it was slightly hidden from view) until I felt soft enough to stuff a tree while DH looked on in amazement muttering "Who has time to stuff a tree? You don't even stuff mushrooms!"

Another week for the ricrac from Ebay to pop through my door and a few (ahem) a lot of buttons to fall casually out of little envelopes (that made DH's day; another rattling envelope to explain!). I think it was the night I sewed them on that he finally stopped asking why and just sat with a fazed look on his face. He finally knew he had entered Bedlam. And I was the only patient.

But they are finally done, stood in empty tuna tins filled with grouting because that pot of Polyfilla I know I have somewhere is... somewhere else and not here.  And ready for the end of my mantelpiece. Elves one end, trees the other. Can't wait.

What did you say? You want to make one? Seriously, they are mega easy. They use only treble stitch and slip stitch for the bodies, joined together with a row of double crochet (English terms) I have written a  small pattern, which I will share later this week.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Christmas Elving...

I got bitten by a make it bug. I had nothing better to do (except the house work, but, hey, that will still be there when Christmas is over, won't it?) so I fell to work Christmas Elving. Literally.
A few years ago I made Nisse or Tomte (depending on your Scandipreference) and gave them to the lads in the family but I Never Made Any For Me. It was on my to do list, but there is always a shed load of stuff on the to do list.
Anyway, I don't know whether it was half term (how I love the creativity of holidays) or the week after when the juices were still flowing, but this year I have made them.

Look. Two of the cutest little elves ever. They are made following Alan Dart's pattern for the Jultomtar or Tomte but without the beard. I wanted little elves, not old gnomes. And they coordinate beautifully in cream, red and grey Stylecraft. I used Stylecraft Special DK Parchment for their faces and was a little worried at first about whether it was a flesh-enough shade, but I like it. They were quick enough to make, a couple of days or evenings of sitting knitting and sewing together. With the bag of plastic pellets in their bases they sit very nicely on my mantelpiece. If the children were smaller (or still gullible) I'd use them for an Elf on  a Shelf instead of the creepy one I've seen for sale, but mine have lost that loving feeling.
Note; I haven't quite put them on my mantelpiece for Christmas yet; they are sat very nicely next to my knitting cave where they're watching over the next part of my crafting challenge (this year my Christmas Craft challenge is to actually bl***y finish some of the things off my list!) And, yes, of course, I'll share any further crafting I do on the blog.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Hallowe'en... good or bad?

For years when mine were little, we studiously avoided Hallowe'en. We went to the Church's Light Party (if fancy dress was in order, it was superheroes, or princesses not witches or skeletons) and made little or no adjustment to the daily order, so no bobbing for apples, peeling skins for divination or any thing that smacked of magicality at all. It worked for us; we didn't go Trick or treating, and those who visited us were politely told, "We don't celebrate Hallowe'en here" The children grew up sensible and well-adjusted, they don't do gross horror films and I'm proud of them.
This year they are all old enough to make up their own mind. The lads are easy; if it involves effort, then they're not bothered. But the Princess is a great joiner, and wants to be part of her group. So when a friend invited her to a Hallowe'en party I gave her the option; of course the answer was yes.
"I'm not celebrating Hallowe'en," she said, "I don't do evil, and I don't want to scare people, but I do need to dress up and I love being with my friends."
"What would you like to dress up as?"
"Well, I'd like to be a zombie Princess. You know, with a crown and a pretty dress." (she is 13, nearly, but sometimes seems just like her 7 year old self) "Oh, and you can paint me white. And do some blood splatters. But I don't want to be gruesome. There are some really horrible zombies on the internet and they're just gross. I want to be scary, but not terrifying."

So, here she is. My daughter, zombified. And, yes, she had fun. They played board games, went trick or treating (her first time ever) around the close and came back high on sugar and tired as heck.
My friend who lived in the USA for a while explained her attitude to Hallowe'en; back there, the costumes are important; they're clever, not gruesome, they're family friendly. And the decorations are really autumnal; piles of Pumpkins and cobwebs on the front porch. It's just another family night; the dark side isn't the most important part. I hope this is how the Princess saw the evening; I think so.

And today over breakfast we will talk about All the Saints, and remember that the early European Christians in their wisdom took over the feast of Samhain from the Pagans and put their emphasis on the Light. That we can feel the heat and love of daylight as a wonder only because we have known the dark and cold of night. That knowing that some people feel only the power of the 'dark side' (in terms of greed, selfishness and self-absorption) means we as Children of the Light have a responsibility to shine brighter; to help more, to give more (time, money and of ourselves) to balance the world.