New Year Makes

Thursday 9 February 2017

Just like I did last year. the first thing I made in 2017 was a gift for my little niece's birthday. She turned 2 in the second week of January and I had planned what I was going to make her for her birthday since I had seen it in back in September. Although I hadn't started making it back then! 

Crochet Now magazine - the newest monthly crochet magazine on the UK market, and my current favourite one too - had a little series running, where the pattern for this little doll was released one month and then for the next few months there was a different outfit for the doll published.

I thought it was such a cute idea that I knew I had to make it for my niece. Actually, even if I hadn't had my niece to make it for, I may well have made it just for myself!

Just before Christmas when I was in Hobbycraft, I found a little red, spotty suitcase which I knew would be perfect for putting the doll and her little outfits in.

I started working on the doll on Hogmanay, and she was reasonably quick to make up. The most time consuming part were these cute ringlets. 

The dress below was in the October issue of the magazine and so had a pumpkin motif on it. Since I didn't think pumpkins were seasonal any more in January, I added a little heart motif instead.

I was ridiculously pleased with the fact that the pattern even included some little bloomers!

I'm pleased to say that my little niece loved the dolly as much as I did!

Once I had finished the doll I spent a week or two working on my Storytime Cross Stitch sampler - a much slower project than a crochet one, but such a cute one.

Alice in Wonderland and The Secret Garden are complete, and I'm now onto Sherlock. Those beautiful, fancy frames alone, without the picture in them, take between 3-4 hours of stitching time, and there are another 9 of them to do!

Now I've put that aside for a bit, though, to start on a new crochet blanket.

In November Lucy from Attic 24 shared a new colour combination that she had made up for a Crochet Along blanket she was planning to start in January. The colours are inspired by the moors, starting with the browns and greens at the bottom, onto the purples of the heather and then finishing with the blues of the sky. You can see Lucy's pictures of her inspiration here.

My husband's sister now traditionally buys me a yarn pack for Christmas each year, so I tagged her in a comment on Lucy's Facebook post and suggested these colours as this year's pack. She replied that not only was she happy to have my Christmas present sorted out so early on, but that she would love to have a blanket made in those colours if I ever had the time to do so.

So I thought, why not make this blanket and try and finish it in time to give her for her birthday, which is on Easter weekend. The last couple of blankets I've made have taken around 4 months, so the timing seems about right.

I started this at the weekend, and then had to restart it again after a couple of rows as I wasn't happy with how the 'wave' pattern was working, The starting chain was too tight and it didn't let the wave work properly. When I restarted it I used a foundation double crochet stitch rather than a starting chain. I almost always use a foundation stitch rather than a chain, especially for blankets that need a very long starting chain, for the very reason that I find the starting chains to be too tight, and also that a foundation double or treble stitch means that you get a good start on the project more quickly.

Second time around the wave is showing up quite nicely, and now that I have done a few rows of it and I can see where the stitches go to make the waves, it's all flowing very nicely.

And as a little bonus, it was lovely to receive a like on my Instagram photo of the start of my blanket from the queen of crochet!

Dazzle Ships and Haggis

Thursday 2 February 2017

Ally (7) has been learning about the Dazzle Ships at school recently and has really loved sharing everything he learned about them with us. As well as learning what the Dazzle Ships were, his class had a few visits from an artist who helped them work on an art project connected to the Dazzle Ships.

For the last few months Edinburgh has had an example of a Dazzle Ship docked down in Leith, and we found out recently that it was only going to be there until the end of January. So I promised Ally that we would go down to see it after school last Friday - school finishes at lunchtime every Friday.

The docks are only a 5 minute bus journey from the boys' primary school and Friday was a rare bright afternoon - as opposed to the usual grey and dull ones in January.  Perfect for something that involved being outdoors.

Dazzle Ships were an idea that came about during the First World War, when the Admiralty were trying to think of a way to protect their ships from enemy torpedoes. Since they couldn't hide the ships, they tried to confuse the enemy instead, and painted the ships with bright, angular shapes and patterns. The aim was to confuse the enemy so that they couldn't tell which direction the ship was travelling in, and so it would be harder for them to take a good aim with their torpedoes. There was no set pattern for different types of ships, so as not to give away what type they were.

Ally was delighted to see the Dazzle Ship for real.

Once we were finished looking at the Dazzle Ship we took a walk back along the Leith Shore, which looked rather lovely in the winter sunshine. What a difference it made to have the sun shining, even though it was still cold. Everything just seems lovelier and more cheerful in the sunshine! 

Now onto the haggis, which has no connection whatsoever with the Dazzle Ship, other than being part of the same weekend.

On Saturday night my husband's sister hosted her annual Burns Supper, an event that she has done every January for as long as I can remember!

She only ever serves the king of haggis' - haggai?, what is the plural of haggis? - at her suppers, the locally made Macsweens.

Before it can be eaten, the haggis needs to be addressed by someone reading out Burns' Ode to a Haggis. This year James (17) was again the only one brave enough to try it given the honour of addressing the haggis, despite his protestation that as he's dyslexic it's hard enough for him to read English and Gaelic, never mind something written in Scots!

Anyway, he did a great, and suitably dramatic reading, and was particularly enthusiastic about the part where the haggis is stabbed and sliced open! 

Everyone in our house loves haggis, neeps and tatties, and we eat it much more often than just Burns and St Andrew's Nights.

See that kilt Calum (14) is wearing? It's his dad's! It was just a tiny bit big for him.

This may have been the first time that Rocket Raccoon had attended a Burns Supper.

I didn't have time to dig out the kilts for the younger boys, but they did all wear their Scotland tops instead - or a cute little tartan shirt for Fraser.

After dinner we always sing some traditional Scottish songs, but before we started on the singing we had a little bit of music from some of the boys. 

David (11) played An Ataireachd Ard on the guitar...

...and Calum played us the first section of Kate Martin's Waltz on the accordion. He only started learning it that week, which is why he only played the beginning! Calum also accompanied a lot of the songs on accordion too.

 Ally just wishes Auntie Anna had a piano so that he could have performed something too. He still loves playing the piano as much as when he started just a few months ago, and still can't walk past it without sitting down to play for a while. I tell him that he's like our little Mozart as he can't stop playing a tune half way through. He needs to get to the end of it, no matter what he gets called away to do! Mozart was apparently the same, and his children used to tease him by playing unfinished cadences on the piano, which would result in him rushing over to play the end of it!

History lesson over, here's a little clip of David and Calum's two musical solos to finish off with.