Trapped Nerve and Other News

I’ve had a trapped nerve in my shoulder for the past three weeks causing great discomfort and grumpiness. Worst of all, I have been unable to knit or crochet as it’s been too uncomfortable, as well as needing to rest.  I’m four sessions into osteopathy treatment though and feeling the improvement slowly but surely.  I have so many craft projects on the go at the moment and plans for many more so it is really frustrating for me not to be able to get on.  I also find it difficult to sit still for long with nothing in my hands. I am a real fidget, always been a nail-biter, hair-twiddler etc., so if I don’t have my crafts to keep my hands busy, I start to feel agitated.

That is what prompted the blog posting last weekend, I couldn’t get on with my crochet projects so decided to update the blog, which was seriously overdue.  I do love blogging but I love doing lots of things and there simply isn’t enough time to do everything and the blog is usually the one that has to give.  However, I am going to make an effort to update a bit more often….again!!  Yes, I know, you’ve heard it all before.

Yesterday, I managed to do a bit of crochet but suffered for it later with a bit of pain in my forearm and fingers.  I have tonnes of stashed yarns and some of it has been in there for many years just waiting for some project to call out to it.  One such yarn is Stylecraft Ethical Twist which is long since discontinued. A lovely mix of wool and alpaca that I bought quite a bit of when it was on sale at Kemps, once upon a time the source of most of my yarn as they had such a great clearance section.  I have started many a project with this yarn only to abandon it as ‘it doesn’t look right’, ‘doesn’t suit it’ or even ‘it’s too nice a yarn to knit something like this with’.  Well, I finally made up my mind that as nice as it is, it will look even nicer made into something rather than stuck in a plastic bin under the bed! 

Cosy Wrap crochet

Enter the cosy wrap.  I found this pattern on Ravelry for a sampler blanket, that being a striped blanket made up of sections of different crochet stitch patterns.  It is essentially a stash busting multi-coloured blanket but a few crocheters have made single colour versions which is what caught my eye.  I thought it would make a lovely wrap/shawl/blanket whatever for chilly evenings or to enable me to sit out in the garden on summer evenings when the warmth of the sun has disappeared.  It’s coming along nicely and is what I was working

I also have big plans for a couple of multi-coloured striped blankets or perhaps granny squares. One based on the colours of the spices Patrick used for a curry a few weeks ago and one based on the beautiful colours of Havana, Cuba – a place firmly on my bucket list.

Havana, Cuba
Spice colour palette
Havana colour palette

More on those ideas if/when I am able to make a start but a taster of the potential colour palettes in these pictures, I’d include something paler in the spice palette as well though.

In the garden this week, the weather has been so hot and dry that the birds have been making great use of the water.  Junior blackbird had a bath that lasted about 3 minutes one evening. I videod him for 90 seconds and he had already been splashing about before I started and continued after I’d finished.  We also had Bob, the robin and Dennis, the dunnock politely taking turns to have a drink from the cascade.  On another occasion Tufty the daddy blackbird also enjoyed a good splash about and then a drink.  Drinking your bathwater eh?  Bleurgh!!

Bidens Taka Tuka

The flowers in our baskets are looking nice now and it won’t be long before they are all trailing prettily over the edges.

Vdrbena Deep Red Star

Until next time….

Going Green

Like most of us, I’m concerned about the environment and the way humankind has devasted our planet with our wasteful and lazy ways.  On a more personal level too, we are not doing ourselves any favours with our easy, throwaway lifestyle choices.  I’m more than a bit worried about the negative impact plastic has on our bodies for instance.  We ingest tiny particles of the stuff everyday through the food chain as well as bits that may break loose from our containers and packaging. It has also been suggested that toxins in plastic containers could leech into the food in those containers. See five reasons to avoid plastic containers. Even most teabags are made with plastic and I recently read about a scientific study that was conducted and it showed that tea made with plastic teabags had particles of plastic in it. Yes, you are drinking plastic! 

I’ve long been very mindful of what I use in the way of cosmetics, toiletries and some household cleaning products.  I always buy cruelty free products and try to avoid those containing parabens and SLS.  Some shower gels and shampoos have these and other harmful chemicals in them, all of which we are rubbing over our skin and then washing into our water system. I’ve toyed with various ideas to reduce plastic use, reduce general waste and be a bit more eco-aware over the years and am on a bit of a kick with it again. 

Luxury Bathroom Spa Gift Set by Hooked On Patterns

My first idea came from seeing some beautiful crochet projects on Ravelry, specifically the Spa bathroom set  from Hooked on Patterns.  Until a couple of weeks ago, my shower cubicle contained; a nylon shower scrubby and shower gel, shampoo and conditioner all in plastic bottles and I used disposable cotton wool pads to clean off my make up. I made up my mind that I would ditch the plastic from that area at least.

So, I spent a fair few hours crocheting the shower puff in white cotton yarn, King Cole Cottonsoft if you are interested, only to find that it didn’t work with shower gel, I didn’t have a bar of soap to try and having thought about it, that might have been ok.  However, it weighed a bloody ton when wet so once it had dried out, I pulled it out to re-use the yarn. That felt like a disappointing fail to be honest.

Next up was the face scrubbies, I used a different pattern, Resuable make-up scrubbies from Stitched Up Craft for these and also experimented with my own patterns.  These are ok to use, I use micellar water for cleaning off my make up and you need to be careful that it doesn’t just run off the pad!  I think they would be better with a cream/lotion type cleanser really.  They are not quite as soft as normal disposable cotton wool pads but you pop them into a mesh bag and in the washing machine rather than in the bin heading for landfill so that’s got to be worth the minor inconveniences surely. 

My favourite things from the spa set are the facecloth, which is crocheted in a nice textural stitch and is deliciously soft on my face and the soap scrub, which is a little mesh bag for a bar of soap, I got some handmade soap from Hatton Handmade Soap via a lovely eco webshop called Peace with the Wild.  So, the soap scrub or soap sack as they are often called works a bit like the old soap on a rope for those old enough to remember that! The bag has a hanging loop on it and you leave the soap in the bag and lather up and either use your soapy hands to wash yourself or rub the soapy bag over your body.  If you love the ease of one of those  nylon shower scrubbies with a dollop of shower gel, then you won’t like the extra effort needed to use the soap sack but I think it is worth it both for my well-being and that of the environment.

Also from Peace With the Wild, I bought a solid shampoo bar and a conditioner one too, pictured here.  Now these I’m still not sure about.  I have read about the transition period where your hair feels waxy and greasy and is difficult to style.  This is because for years, your hair has been producing it’s own natural oils to combat the chemicals in the shampoos and conditioners we’ve been using.  It takes anything from a few washes to a few months apparently for your hair to get used to the new chemical-free shampoo bar and to stop producing so much oil.  The first couple of washes, my hair felt truly dreadful and if we hadn’t been in lockdown so no one sees me anyway, I don’t think I’d have stuck it out. However, three weeks in now and there is a noticeable improvement from how it felt at first.  I’ll continue until I’ve used up the whole bar but if I’m stuggling to dry and style my hair, this might just be an eco idea that gets shelved. I hope my hair adapts to it though because like with the soap sack instead of shower gel, I like the knowledge that I’m not washing tons of chemicals into the water system.  All of the soap, shampoo and conditioner bars are made from natural ingredients, cruelty free, vegan and come wrapped in paper which is of course recyclable.

Next up, in light of my recent discover about the plastic in teabags we’re in the process of ditching teabags in favour of loose-leaf teas and herbal infusions.  I ordered lots of taster packs from The Tea People as well as a metal caddy with my favourite tea, liquorice root and some English breakfast tea for Patrick to try.   We use a ball shaped tea infuser for single cups rather than a teapot so it’s a little like a teabag I suppose.  Patrick enjoys the Sleep tea which is a blend of some of the common sleep inducing plants such as hops & valerian along with passion flowers and rose petals.  I really like the Relax tea which I’ve been drinking as my bedtime drink.  It’s made from a blend of tulsi, fennel, camomile, aniseed, linden and sunflower petals and is a lovely, sweet and soothing taste. I’ll definitely be ordering from them again, the tin caddy with my liquorice tea in is really pretty so I’ll probably get our favourite teas in caddies next time.

That’s about it from tree-huggers central for now.  Doing our best to make a difference!

  

Crochet Blankets

I’ve discovered a new crafty love! Crocheted stripey blankets (or throws, whichever term you prefer). I ended last year with the Granny Block Blanket for Michael as a Christmas gift and started this year with the V-Stitch blanket I had hoped to do as a Christmas gift for Mason.

The patterns from HanJan crochet are part of her yarn stash series, designed to use up stash. However, as I liked her colour schemes for both blankets, I bought the yarn packs from Deramores. I was a bit disappointed with both yarn packs actually as the colours didn’t match up to the pictures of the blankets and I ended up substituting some of the colours anyway. I think the designer, Hannah’s blankets were probably made from her own stash so the actual yarns she used may not be available but even so, some of the colours were way off course.

Both projects were enjoyable but I think I preferred making the granny block one, the cream linking row between each colour felt like an anchor of sorts and seemed to help me focus. Here it is in situ on Michael’s sofa. How perfectly does it match?

The V-Stitch, although nice to do, started to feel a bit endless about halfway through. I just chose 9 colours and picked a colour one row at a time, with no pattern or scheme in mind. I think that for my personality though, I need a bit more structure or plan to work to as I started to get fed up with trying to decide which colour should come next. However, it turned out well and Mason is happy with it.

For anyone interested, the exact colours and yarns I used are listed in my Ravelry projects here : V-Stitch Blanket and Granny Block Blanket.

One thing I do want to crochet this year is a striped blanket for us, inspired by the beautiful sunrises and sunsets we see at this time of year. I love the colour palette of the winter sky and this idea has been bouncing around for a while now but I’ll need to buy the right colours. I’d best get some stash used up first!

I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures of my inspiration, although these phone photos really don’t do these lovely colours justice. Watch this space for a future winter skies blanket.