Crochet Therapy

…And then there are days that don’t quite work. Do you know the feeling?

I think I’m still raw from intense hours with patients’ harrowing stories at work this week. And the Toddler Twinnage were a leeeeetle bit relentless in their Mummy-Mummy-Mummy-Mummy-Mummy all day today. And I possibly ate too many of the choc chip cookies that I baked this morning. And my first attempt at crocheting my bag strap in the round went all Mobius on me and had to be ripped out.

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Yes, yes, I’ve got these micro-problems all in proportion, more so since I lit the fire, poured some wine, and attached my posterior very firmly to the sofa. And crochet is soothing (when it’s not turning into a Mobius mess). The bag is progressing:-

the house bag

And I’m thinking hard about the details of the knitted version that will follow, and the patterns that I’ll write up for y’all.

Also, I’ve been operating outside my comfort zone by sewing. The house-bag needs reinforcement if it’s to hold anything more substantial than the Toddler Twinnage’s feather collection, so I’ve been wielding cotton fabric and interlacing and an over-enthusiastically steamy iron. This is the bag strap innards in progress:-

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And now I’m crocheting round the strap, and feeling the stress melt away:-

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Working the bricks is quite satisfying, probably as satisfying as building a wall for real.

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And whilst I’m busy trying to throw off weary gloom, at least spring is hovering and blossom is ripe, though as I write this a howling gale is roaring down the chimney and annoying the log fire.

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And look at these beauties, too!

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Time to put the crochet down and get some sleep. Anyway, tomorrow is another day….

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House!

T’was a beautiful clear night last night. The sort of night where you amble along in the peaceful blackness gazing up at the starry heavens… and then walk slap bang into a wall.

Who put that stupid wall there, anyway? It’s a ridiculous place for a wall. Only an idiot would build a wall right there.

Given the rate at which they’re building too many new houses in this village, you do have to watch out for sneaky new walls when you’re out and about. Anyway, back to last night. I was on my way out clutching several project bags, heading for the pub where we hold our new-and-growing knit/crochet/gin night.

Stop me if I’ve mentioned this before, but legend has it that there’s an ancient tunnel running from the cellar of our home to the pub, which would be kind of handy for popping to the bar in time for last orders with the baby monitor in my pocket. But since I’ve never found any sign of the tunnel entrance, I have to go outside in the cold night and walk into walls.

So we settled ourselves in a comfy corner, and worked happily but not very efficiently on our various projects. I was busy with the crochet house bag.

crochet house bag

Beside me, something wonderful was happening. One of our group, who was a complete beginner herself a few short weeks ago, was busy teaching a newcomer the basics of crochet. How cool is that? Two months ago, she’d scarcely worked her first foundation chain, and now she’s making hats and discussing cables and inspiring newcomers. Happy days.

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Plenty more pictures of the bag are coming. I just need to finish it. The pattern will be available here, and I’ve decided to work a knitted version, too.

Just watch out for those sneaky walls, OK?

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The House Of Crochet.

Hmm, it seems that the house-bag I’m crocheting and the real houses being too numerously built in our village are neck-and-neck in terms of progress. That said, I’m tempted to just whack a roof on what I’ve hooked so far and call it a bungalow. Would you like to see some progress? (Thank you for your lovely comments on my previous post about it, by the way. :-) )

crochet house bag

There’s a long way to go. Upstairs, for starters, and that door needs a handle. And those little balls of red/green Rowan Fine Tweed (leftover from this) are for embroidering roses and window boxes etc. And maybe we need a house number. (Any suggestions?) And being a bag, it needs a shoulder strap and some lining and some sides.

My fine furry friends, do you see that little white fanlight above the door? (Let’s ignore the fact that I’ve decided now it should be grey, not white.) It looks as though I’ve just worked it on top of the brick stitch (doesn’t it?) but no, it’s completely integrated into the pattern. You have no idea how very many hours I spent figuring that blighter out with randomly-coloured spare yarn.

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It’s fun, and at some point I’ll write the pattern up in a form that’s comprehensible to the outside world.

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But meanwhile, I’ll just continue building and building with yarn, and the chaps in the village will keep building and building with bricks. I seem to be working a sort of crochet intarsia, with far too many balls of yarn. Knitted intarsia never was my thing (I’m a stranded/fairisle lass), and all these tangling colours are a tad frustrating.

crochet intarsia

It got more complicated and the blobs of yarn became more numerous after this photo was taken, by the way, but by then I was a little too fraught to fetch the camera. Incidentally, if you’re crazy enough to be doing intarsia of any sort, whether knitted or crocheted, I recommend using hair bobbles or elastic bands to restrain the balls/bobbins/blobs of yarn that you’re currently not using. (Hair bobbles are kinder to the yarn, in the same way that they’re kinder to the hair than elastic bands are.) That way, there is at least a limit of sorts to the degree of yarny snarl-up you’re about to experience.

Now, you might have observed a certain gloomy ambience to the photos in this post. If you’re in the UK you might have guessed why, but given that most of you are from outside the UK, I really ought to show you this picture of the SUN:-

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…and also this:-

eclipse 1a

…Because whilst I was hooking away, the moon was sneaking in front of the sun and giving us a 90-something percent eclipse. Not as impressive as the 100% dark eclipse I witnessed on the south coast a few years ago, but fun nonetheless. People talk about the birds going quiet when an eclipse peaks, but really what happens is this: (i) the traffic goes quiet, and (ii) social media goes mental. So there you have it, people, characteristics of the eclipse for the modern age. You heard it here first on the ‘Yarn. :-)

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Brick By Brick

How long does it take to construct a house? Roughly the same amount of time regardless of whether the house is built of bricks and mortar or crocheted with yarn, it would appear. There are too many houses going up on the fringes of our village, and their progress pretty much matches that of the house I’m crocheting which is, by the way, going to be a bag.

crochet brick stitch

The front of the house will have all the fancy windows and climbing roses and details and neat roof-tiled shenanigans, whereas the back is plain brick, like this:-

crochet brick stitch for house

So now that I’ve nearly done the back, I get to play with windows. And a door. And a chimney. And rambling roses. I’ve swatched these elements again and again… and again, and I think I’m finally ready to work up the front of the house. It’s going to be proper fun, so it is. :-) My only worry is about the lack of architectural authenticity in my design, given that what works in brick doesn’t necessarily work in double-knit cotton, but maybe I’m taking the project a tiny bit too seriously. The architectural style I’m working towards could best be described as trying-too-hard-eclectic – pretty much like some of the new-builds round here. (Oops, did I type that out loud?)

Anyway, you’ll be the first to see the finished cottage in all its rose-smothered cheeriness, and the first to have the pattern, should you wish to make one too.

Meanwhile, the stranded skirt I’m designing grows steadily:-

designing a stranded skirt

And that project bag it’s living in? This morning’s easy make from some spare curtain material.

(Can you tell that I’ve been off work today? :-) )

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The Blog Post Of Many Things

That stranded skirt I’m designing? It’s progressing, y’know:-

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Yup, That Is A Grape-Derived Refreshment In The Background

No further progress has been made on the crocheted house, but the yarn for the windows has arrived, so I need to begin swatching some glasswork.

Is it obvious that this post will be a tad desultory? Well the past few days have been a bit like that. I have some exciting secrets to reveal soon, but not quite yet. Rest assured, I’ll be telling you as soon as I can…

But look! I’ve discovered a quirky new stitch! Nothing seriously fancy, but a combination of stockinette with yarnovers and SSK’s yields this wonky loveliness. I found it in an old book at the library on my day off, and I have no idea whether it has a name:-

Delightfully Wonky, Lacy Stitch

Delightfully Wonky, Lacy Stitch

Anyway, with time off from work on frenetic psychiatric wards, there have been peaceful walks along the Ridgeway:-

View From the Ridgeway

View From the Ridgeway

For anyone not family with this bit of south-central England, The Ridgeway is Britain’s oldest ‘road’, a 5000-year-old and 87-mile path along slightly elevated ground, walked for millennia by herdsmen, travellers, soldiers, and latterly by psychologists-cum-knitters.

ridgeway 2a

It passes close to our village and I’ve long loved this high(ish) wide path as a chance to escape the low-down life. There really is something about the Ridgeway that makes you feel the press of history. Maybe it’s because the path is so wide, and you can see so far from its (meagre) elevation that you sense its importance.

The stoic spouse and the twinnage on a The Ridgeway

The stoic spouse and the twinnage on The Ridgeway

Back downhill at village level, we (the Toddler Twinnage, the Stoic Spouse and I) have had our first work-out in a shamefully long time at the allotment, digging over the beds in preparation for the growing of potatoes and much other deliciousness. Having taken over the plot less than a year ago, we’re still discovering its surprises, such as these hellebores:-

Hellebore

Hellebore

So now we’re at home, recovering from the exertion and, in my case, knitting. There is so much colour to come in these pages over the next few weeks, as well as the revealing of some exciting surprises. Stay tuned, and keep knitting/crocheting.

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Patching Up The House (With Knitting)

A day’s leave from work is a chance for some full-on knitting. I’ve been working on the stranded skirt that I’m designing:-

Designing a stranded skirt

I also had a temporary craft-swerve into decoupage, but only because I found a way to do so that involved knitting. Allow me to explain. We have a pug-ugly mirror in our house that the Stoic Spouse bought when he was young. The frame is plasticky beech-effect laminate that’s so orange, it looks like it over-did the fake tan. It’s not even properly trying to look like real wood. I really dislike this mirror. In fact I dislike it so much that I may even have mentioned my dislike of it to the Stoic Spouse one or two thousand times. After all, I may have promised to love the man in sickness and in health, but I don’t recall anything in our marriage vows about loving that flippin’ mirror.

So we agreed some time ago that I would decoupage the frame with pretty, colourful paper. The only problem with this plan was that it didn’t involve knitting, and so the idea slipped slowly down my ‘to-do’ list until it dropped off the bottom and landed on the floor amongst the waste scraps of yarn.

Until today. Savouring the rare experience of no work or children, I wandered into a crafty shop called No Two Things in Didcot where they sell, amongst other temptations, decoupage equipment. Can you guess where this is heading, yet? Yup, they had papers with KNITTING on them! Look!

Knitted Decopatch paper

Suddenly, my motivation to spend an afternoon gluing bits of paper to a mirror frame got a lot stronger. The same principle would probably work quite well in other areas of my life, too. I’d be much more efficient at doing the laundry if the washing machine was adorned with a stockinette design, for example. And if my car was covered with fairisle motifs, I might even get round to washing it.

Anyway, I assembled some basic equipment…

Decopatch mirror

…and started patching:-

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…and patching…

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…until it was done!

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…and ready to be used by sundry household members:-

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Anyway, this isn’t a decoupage blog. Back to the knitting and crochet. :-)

Meanwhile, don’t forget that there’s still time to enter the Stylecraft competition to design a new shade of yarn. I’m getting excited about judging all your entries along with Lucy from Attic24. Good luck, people!

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Crochet In The Spring

And so I was wandering around our old village with the Toddler Twinnage, in the warm almost-spring sunshine. (There is a crochet point to this post, honest. I’m working up to it.) We noticed many things: the ancient thatched walls…

Stand still too long round here and you risk being THATCHED!

Stand still too long round here and you risk being THATCHED!

…and the early spring flowers, pretty much all of which are either yellow or purple, a combination that maintains my belief in nature as genius designer. I mean, look at the colour wheel: yellow is pretty much opposite purple, so we’re onto a winner in terms of complementary shades:- colour wheel

Mother Nature Gets It Right. Again.

Mother Nature Gets It Right. Again.

We chatted to our favourite horses and sheep. (I only talk to the sheep in the hope that they’ll give me some of their wool.) The Toddler Twinnage figured out 16 different ways to prod me with the muddy sticks that they found beside the path: clearly, they’re researching the definitive textbook on the matter. I suppose they should be commended for the thoroughness of their research.

We saw a gorgeous, sleepy, early-season bee, and some skeleton leaves. leaf and bee collage We admired the latest work of the village yarn-bomber (no it’s not me).

The Yarnbomber Strikes Again

The Yarnbomber Strikes Again

But mostly, I was thinking crochet. Remember the swatches I showed you the other day as I figured out the best ways to portray roof tiles and walls for my new project? Crochet bricks and roof tiles Well today, I’m pondering windows. So I was looking at the windows of every house we passed. We’re fortunate here in having a delightful mix of homes all jumbled up together, from ancient cruck-framed thatched cottages to smart Victorian bay-fronted homes, not to mention the wonky brewery in which I live. houses It seems to me that I should crochet the windows with grey for the glass and white frames. That would look convincing, don’t you think? Time to order more yarn. :-)

(Or maybe I should crochet a night-time house with all the lights on, its windows each giving a glimpse of the goldfish-bowl world inside, but that’s probably beyond my crochet ability right now.)

Anyway, the roof and the walls and the windows are planned. Now I’m off out to stare at everyone’s chimneys. :-) So if you’re in south Oxfordshire and you see an odd-looking woman staring at your house and frowning, afear-ye-not. She’s more likely to crochet your home than burgle it. Unless your home contains a really amazing yarn stash, of course. ;-)

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Monsieur Frog, We Meet Again (And Again)

Ah, Monsieur Frog, I see you’re here yet again. Do you have to visit us so very frequently? Yup, that’s – ribbit – the sound of – ribbit – another crocheted swatch being reduced to heaps of wiggly raw yarn. Sigh. Ribbit.

Actually, I don’t especially mind, because it’s fun creating summat from nowt, and I’m relishing the experience of shaping and refining this *new* idea for a crochet project. I want it to be right, more than I want it to be speedy, and assuming it works out, I’ll happily share the pattern with your goodly selves. The other day I showed you some bricks because there’s a lot of masonry involved in this idea, but now I have better bricks, and roof tiles.

Crochet bricks and roof tiles

The brick yarn is Scheepjes’ Soft Fun Denim, shade 510, just in case you too have a yearning for masonry, and its subtle brown ombré works rather well. The roof tiles are crocodile stitch, worked in Stylecraft Extra Special DK, shade Sandstone (but spoken as someone with qualifications in geology, that colour is NOTHING like any sandstone I’ve ever seen). But the croc stitch in the picture is a rubbishy mess because I followed a rather inadequate pattern I found online, so now I’ve found a better pattern:-

Crochet crocodile stitch(and yes, I do indeed have naked cherubs on my skirt. Doesn’t everyone?) But the latest incarnation of the roof is perhaps too wide, so I frog, frog, frog, and begin again. Wine generally assists with this process.

And when this creation is finished, you’ll be the very first to see it, I promise. Do you perchance detect a smidgen of excitement here chez Twisted Towers?

Speaking of Twisted Towers (our old, converted-brewery home), I found something rather curious whilst outside with the Toddler Twinnage. I’m continuing the brickwork theme of this post because looking closely, I noticed a pattern in some of our bricks:-

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And peering closer (because I’m odd enough to stand with my nose pressed up against interesting walls), I realized that the dark bricks had a rather fabulous dark green glaze, although it’s flaked off in many places over the course of a century or two. But look! Green glass!

Green glazed brick

Meanwhile, thank you most kindly for your comments about my happy mismatched knitted socks. Of course, your generous encouragement is entirely to blame for my purchase of more luscious clearance-bin sock yarn, this time a rather fetching llama-derived creation:-

Llama yarn

Here it is, in the afternoon sun. Heavens, I might even be at risk of developing a stash, at last.

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Bricks. And socks.

And look! Bricks!

All The Bricks. Oh Yes.

All The Bricks. Oh Yes.

Whaddayerthink? Moderately bricklike, no?

I’ve been muchly busy with my crochet hook, trying out different stitches in search of the perfect masonry. I think we’re getting reasonably bricklike, here. (Trust a lass, ya dinnae want ter see my earlier attempts.) I’m working on a new project. Two new projects, actually, one knitted skirt and one crocheted house-like-thing-I’ll-tell-you-about-soonish. It’s fun to stretch both of these crafting muscles at once.

I do love creating utterly new projects. A ball of wool can become anything with the aid of hook or needle – how cool is that? And right now, I’m feeling hopeful that the bonkers mis-wiring in my brain (trust me on that: I’m a clinical psychologist so I recognise a mis-wired brain when I inhabit one) has created a couple of ideas that will inspire you. Patterns will follow once I’ve ta-da’d the projects.

Obviously new ideas require yarn, lots of yarn, but that’s OK because all that frivolous cash we were frittering away on fripperies like food and water can easily be diverted to yarn, can it not?

More details and colourful yarn-porn is most definitely to follow. For now, all I will say is that the knitted project is a stranded skirt with a rather funky innovation, and the crochet is not clothing but most definitely involves brickwork. And grass. And roses. And potentially even a boot-scraper.

Anyway, back to right now. There are two socks! Hurrah! See my previous post about not photographing the blighters in a ballet-position-perfect light and pose, but I’ve been at work or commuting throughout daylight hours for the past couple of days. So you’ll have to make do with this:-

Look! Wine!

Look! Wine!

Now, you’re probably thinking, ‘Pah, she didn’t even bother to match the colour gradations!’ but actually, you’d be wrong. You see, it’s like this. I used to wear matching socks. Really, I did. But then a few years ago the Toddler Twinnage were born (and they’re identical twins, so much so that even I struggle to tell them apart). And I started to think, ‘Hmm, with matching twins, maybe matching socks is just a little bit of a match too far.’ So I started dressing the twins in mismatched socks, a habit that naturally then spread to my own hosiery, too. And that, my friends, is why I have made not the slightest attempt to align the yarn colour changes for my two socks.

Anyway forgive me, but I must get back to my brickwork.

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Yup, It’s A Sock

It was inevitable, really. Having tried pretty much everything else in my knitting career, I’ve finally succumbed to sock-knitting.

sock-knitting

And my fear of developing a sock-knitting addiction? Hmm, probably justified, judging by the fact that I’m tempted to phone HR at work to find out whether they’ve got a special-leave-for-sock-knitting policy. (Surely they must have? They’re reasonable people, yeah?)

All right I admit it, sock knitters of the world: you were right. There is something special about pulling on a woolly, hand-knit, perfectly shaped sock that you’ve made yourself. The problem is, I’m turning into the knitting equivalent of one of those new parents who talks as though they’re the first person ever to reproduce. ‘Wow, you turn the heel like this? How marvellous! And look at this ribbing! Isn’t it astounding what you can create?’

‘Yes,’ replies the person sitting next to me, before informing me that they’ve been knitting socks for nigh-on 40 years and yes, they do already realize how neat a well-turned heel can look.

Oh,’ I sigh, slightly deflated.

knitted sock

Not Just A Sock: It’s A Hug In 4-Ply. :-)

Now I realize that there’s a tradition amongst internet-savvy sock-knitters to display their completed hosiery in a lovely pose that looks like it’s out of a manual of ballet positions. But this is TheTwistedYarn, and (i) I haven’t quite completed the second sock yet, and (ii) I was being climbed by the Toddler Twinnage whilst photographing my socky progress, which pretty much prevented anything elegant from occurring, and (iii) well, however lovely, these are pretty much just plain vanilla socks.

Dimly-Lit Late-Night Sock Is Fuzzy But Happy

Dimly-Lit Late-Night Sock Is Fuzzy But Happy

Still, the second sock is well underway:-

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And as if this wasn’t addiction enough already, I found some Noro sock yarn languishing in a remaindered bin at the yarn shop. What was a girl to do? Can you even begin to imagine the wonderfulness of these future socks?

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Anyway, if you need me, you’ll find me in the gutter, neglecting my life/family/job/sanity, but knitting socks. Lots of socks. All the socks. Oh yes. :-)

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