Friday, 10 September 2021

Crochet Wind Spinner's and some Bits and Bobs

How do the days go so fast? I can't believe that it's three weeks since I posted, the days seem to be flying by in a flurry of u3a activities and catching up with friends that I haven't seen since before the pandemic.

I have also got my crocheting mojo back big time to the extent that I can't seem to decide what to turn to first I have three crochet projects on the go at the moment and this is one of them...

 It appears that wind spinners seem to be trending all over social media at the moment, I just happened upon one as I was browsing   I was immediately intrigued because just days before, my metal wind spinner had broken and I had thought I need a replacement I never thought of making a crochet one.

Another thought that sprung to mind was what a pity I hadn't thought of this at the start of Summer because the weather is changing, Autumn is definitely in the air and I'm not sure how these will fare in bad weather.

But for now I am smitten and can't seem to stop making them, they are great stash busters and I'm sure all my family and friends would love one of these, even if they have to put them away until next Spring.

This is just a small sample of what I've made some have already found new homes and I forgot to take photos before they were given away. 

I though of having these as a mystery project for the ladies in my crochet class, some of them are worried in case they have forgotten the basic stitches and any new comers will get lots of practice making a long chain and then working the other stitches into it.

There are lots of free patterns and YouTube tutorials I'll put links to them right at the end of the post, you can make them your own by adding beads, tassels or pompoms.

I am using up my chunky yarn stash for these at the moment because it makes a firmer fabric and the discs aren't as floppy.  If there isn't enough yarn to complete all the rounds I make a smaller one like this one here..

35 grams of chunky yarn    (UK TERMS)

4mm crochet hook

Make a 70 chain, break and tie off yarn

Beginning at the first chain, dc in each chain to end, break and tie off yarn.

Beginning  at the first dc of last row, 3tr in each dc, break and tie off yarn.

Beginning at the first tr of previous row 1 dc in each tr to the end break and tie off yarn.

make a tassel, pompoms add beads or anything that takes your fancy for the end of your spinner and attach it to the bottom.

Weave in all loose ends leaving two at the top to hang up your spinner. 

For the one above I used Aran weight cotton yarn and started with a 100 chain it took 55 grams. 


Suzy's Wind Spinner - Easy And Quick Crochet Wind Spinner

Bits and Bobs

Wind spinners aside I'm also making baby hats and as always I quickly get bored using one pattern and will play about until I have another pattern that works, sometimes I forget to write it down but this time I have remembered, when I can find the time to convert it from scribble and write it on here I will do so. 
I'm also crocheting poppies because the knitting group have another display project in mind but more about that another time. 

Summer is waning and it's sad to see the lovely flowers in my garden slowly fading however although the stems are getting shorter my sweet peas have flowered their socks off this year, I'm getting two little bunches every three days or so which are filling the room with their lovely perfume and they cheer me up no end.

Another plant that is giving me lots of pleasure is this buddleia, it was a cutting which my brother gave me last year and was very small at the beginning of Spring, it is now about 8 feet tall and for months has just been a lot of floppy stems and leaves, I really thought it wasn't going to flower but then the first tiny flowers appeared and over just a few days those small flowers grew into large beautiful purple blooms. For the first few days I saw a few bees, then they increased in number but no butterflies, I was quite disappointed until a butterfly flew into my conservatory, I guided it back outside thinking you should be on the buddleia not here then I looked over and the whole bush was covered in beautiful butterflies, they love it and I love watching them.

I will be popping round and catching up with you all just as soon as I have washed the car and given my garden some attention, I should really do some housework too but for now the sunshine beckons. 

Have a great week.

Friday, 20 August 2021

Bunco and Zentangle Flower Mania

 Have you heard of Bunco? Well I certainly hadn't until quite recently. You see that's the beauty of the u3a you meet people that have tried all sorts of things that you have probably never even thought or heard of before. 

For those of you who haven't heard of it it's a game where you throw 3 dice. You need three tables and twelve people and that's the fun bit bringing twelve people together to play a very easy once you get the hang of it dice game. 

It takes a while to get it because you have to move tables depending on whether you are a winner or a loser. And remembering which table you should be moving to can get quite confusing until the penny drops the problem is everyone's penny drops at different times so there can be a bit of hilarious confusion.

My friend Paula organised it as a way of raising funds for Macmillan. We all pay a small fee to join in and there are lots of small prizes, like chocolate or maybe a bottle of wine.

 There are many talented crafty people in the u3a and many of them contributed by making knitted or sewn items for Paula to sell before we started playing the game and then again a week later at a Macmillan coffee morning.

I did some decoupage both on a bottle which Paula had kindly supplied and on some stones.

Painted Stones

Now we come to the zentangle flower bit, I was inspired by Linda from crafty gardener and this post.

Since then I have been zentangling flowers none stop, it's the easiest and most relaxing way to get into the zone as it were. I can do this for hours and I always love the results.

There are zentangle flower bugs all over my garden and they have found their way into friends and families homes and gardens too.

I am actually having a break right now because my neck is hurting a lot and looking down all the time can't be helping, that's the problem when you craft a lot it requires you to look down onto your work and I've been doing it for years, all my life really. I'm trying to lift things up closer to eye level which doesn't work for stone painting but I can manage to some extent for crochet. 

My brother's burns are healing very slowly but are now extremely painful we have had to get him stronger pain relief especially for when they change the dressings. 

He actually asked me to call into a warden controlled facility near to where I live to get a brochure so it appears he is beginning to accept that he does need more help.  I know that it will be difficult for him to find a place at Harbour Lodge  which is very close to me as there's always a long waiting list but it doesn't do any harm to try.

Have a great weekend. 😊

Friday, 13 August 2021

A Big Thank You! some Good News and a Bit of Crochet.

 A Big Thank You!

Thank you for all your lovely kind thoughts and comments about my brother in my last post, you have no idea how much they mean to me.  I'm sorry to hear about those of you who are suffering with long term illnesses and have experienced the same sort of difficulties we have.

We have spent a difficult couple of weeks, the accident has taken it out of him both mentally and physically, he's now unable to drive which is hard for him to bear. 

My brother is a nature lover and a brilliant photographer, his photos are amazing he took the one at the top of my blog and his wildlife photos are beautiful. It's getting increasingly difficult for him to hold the camera and alter the settings but he still loves to drive out into the countryside and do the best he can.

I'm hoping that once his burns have healed be might regain the little strength he had before and get out and about again..

On the bright side he seems to be healing I know it will take time because the burns were deep in places but thankfully so far so good.

The Good News... 

After several weeks of emails and phone calls I have finally got my refund for the treadmill I returned in this post.  I was beginning to wonder if I was ever going to get my money back especially having read some of the one * reviews for the company, if only I had read those before I ordered anything from them.  There are several people still waiting for items which they have paid for and others waiting for refunds like I was. 

I am speaking about Studio Catalogue I would never name and shame unless I had good reason to do so.  They are very polite and say all the right things when you contact them by phone or email but then nothing seems to happen. In the end I threatened to take it further if it wasn't dealt with immediately, even then I got no response until I emailed them again to ask what was happening and they told me they had sent a cheque. It took 10 days to reach me and I'm hoping it won't bounce when I pay it into my bank.🙏  

A Bit Of Crochet

As I mentioned previously I am working through the patterns I have accumulated to see if they are worth keeping and this one is the Easy Peasy Cardigan.

I adapted the pattern a little to include an extra row all around the edging and added buttons right down the front. It's another keeper as it's easy to follow and of course very easy to make.  The chest size has turned out at 18" which is a large new born size.

The hat is my pom pom baby hat without the pom pom but with the addition of  a heart which I made one stitch size up to what is written in the pattern.

Pattern Links

Magic ring
3ch, 2tr, 1htr, 1dc, 1ch, 1tr, 1ch, 1dc, 1htr, 2tr, 3ch, ss to centre, pull up tight.
To make the heart bigger just go up a stitch size or use a larger hook.

I'm now off to have a bit of retail therapy with my daughter, I had better get moving she will be here in half an hour and I'm not ready yet!

Keep safe everyone and I'll see you next week. xx

Friday, 6 August 2021

A Difficult Week

 It just takes one thing to knock you way off balance and bring home to you just how helpless we really are. My brother called last week to tell me that he had badly scalded himself, he had called 111 and was still waiting for them to reply after nearly an hour.  He sounded desperate and in considerable pain.

My brother has MS and is confined to a wheelchair he stubbornly manages his day to day care and refuses help even though his hands are now affected and he can barely stand.  I called 999 and made it clear that he was in need of urgent help gave them his history.  They said they would send an emergency Ambulance but there could be a bit of a wait and they would phone and speak to him.

 I live a good distance away so I jumped into my car and picking my daughter up on the way made my way to his home, he called me while I was driving and said the ambulance had phoned him and when he knew I was on the way sounded much calmer.

The sight that met my eyes when we arrived was heart breaking.  He had made himself a large cup of coffee and placed it into his lap, it had tipped over and scalded him, he had managed to remove his trousers and shoes and had gone into the garden to douse the burn with the hosepipe, so he now sat in a very sodden wheelchair every item of clothing was wet. 

I'm sure you can imagine what followed trying to help him is difficult because he feels embarrassed even more so in front of his niece but we got him as comfortable as we could.  The burns were quite extensive on both legs he had lost most of the skin and what was left was blistering.  I applied cling film to protect it and gave him some pain killers and fluids the nurse side of me automatically kicking in. I could see they needed dressing quickly to minimise the chance of infection.

To top it all my back had gone off earlier in the day and I could hardly move myself. I had called the ambulance at 1pm and they didn't arrive until 7 pm! In the meantime we had tried unsuccessfully to try and get him into the car to take him to A&E ourselves but he's a tall guy and his legs wouldn't fold he can barely stand, I had no strength because of my back and it was impossible for my poor daughter to do it alone.  

To cut a long story short he wasn't seen until 10 pm and he didn't get home until 4 30 am when my daughter and son in law went to collect him because the ambulances were too busy.  It took four people to get him into the car!

We have had a very difficult week as you can imagine firstly because of the burns and the pain he's in but also because of his attitude.  I love my brother dearly but he's very hard work, because I have been with him a lot this week I have seen first hand the difficulties he must experience every day because of his MS, the burns of course have exacerbated the situation.  

Everything I have suggested he has dismissed, from getting his pills dispensed in a weekly pill box  (he can't open lids on bottles and finds blister packs difficult) to bringing in social services to assess his care needs. I will of course do my best to help him in anyway I can but although I hate to admit it am an old lady and don't have the strength both mentally or physically to give him the help he needs. Thankfully I think the burns are healing, they are getting dressed often but it's early days yet and I hope that they don't become infected.

I worry about the way our health care system has deteriorated, when the 'emergency' ambulance eventually arrived they told me that they had dealt with 105 calls and that's why it had taken them so long to get to my brother. I pity those who may have had a heart attack or a stroke! When the nurses were dressing my brothers burns they said we will give you some dressing so you can dress them yourself!! It had taken three of them to do his dressings how did they expect him to do them himself? Only when he said he wouldn't be able to manage did they reluctantly agree to get him a district nurse and when she came the following day had great difficulty because of the extent of them and the position they were in.

I could go on and on because what I have experienced this passed week beggars belief. Thinking back from when I did my nursing training in the early seventies and the care people received then compared to now I can only wonder how did it all go so horribly wrong.

If you have managed to get this far, thank you all for listening and hopefully normal service will be resumed next week. Sending love to you all and I'm hoping and praying that every single one of us stay fit and healthy because if you need health care it appears that here in the UK you will be very lucky if you get it. xx 

Friday, 23 July 2021

Back in My Comfort Zone

After having a whole month of doing nothing crochet wise I started getting the urge to pick up my hook again. I had no definite plan about what to make so I started looking through these.

 My daughter's friend passed these on to me a few years ago and I do enjoy looking through them although to date I've only made one thing out of them a shawl.

I've never used it but I did enjoy making it and I'm sure I will use it one day, shawls don't seem to be that popular here in the UK.

I came upon a very simple looking baby jacket and because the challenge for NHAP this month is for new-born baby jacket and hat sets I decided to give it a try. 

It was easy to make and the pattern was straight forward enough but what a lot of holes treble crochet (UK) seems to make. I didn't like the holes at the beginning of rows and found myself doing a lot of weaving to fill in the gaps once I'd sewn it together.  

(I have since remembered how to rid oneself of those pesky holes at the beginning of rows and for those of you who don't know how, I'll share it with you next time.)

I much prefer a closer texture for a small baby jackets and like to use either dc or htr stitches (UK) I won't be using this pattern again.

The hat pattern was my own and you can find it here

So on to the next one, this time it's one I've used many times and it's quick and easy to make

Baby Girl Shell Sweater and Hat

I have adapted the pattern a little by adding a button band and I have altered the sleeves and worked them flat rather than in the round as stated in the pattern also using less stitches so that they aren't so wide.  

You can find the free pattern here.

I have just started another baby jacket using a free pattern I found online many years ago, I seem to have accumulated an awful lot of patterns over the years, nowadays it's not necessary to have a printed copy as it's easy enough to view the pattern online but I like to have a paper copy too, my plan is to try those that I have and either keep them or throw them away. The shell one above is a keeper because I'm sure I will use it again. 

Another great CAL is starting soon it's the Leticia Flower Garden CAL 

Isn't it beautiful, it's made in both overlay and mosaic crochet. I love the pattern and I will be buying it as it's cheaper for the duration of the CAL but I won't be making the blanket just yet it's another one for the to do list.

Other things...

I had a lovely time babysitting little Mikey yesterday, It's like being a kid again, we had a wonderful time drawing and colouring, dancing to nursery rhymes and here he is playing with his colour lab I have to say an awful lot of mess was made, my fingers are still blue, no amount of washing will rid them of the food colour dye and Mikey's is even worse.😂

I wish I was quite a few years younger, looking after little ones certainly takes it out of you I was shattered by the end of the day but it was fun.

Sweet tasting tomatoes from my garden yum!

This last one is for Amanda ...

This is taken from my bedroom window, it's a wall feature in my neighbours garden I think it looks very pretty and I may just copy the idea next year.  Amanda is looking for a shelving idea for her balcony you can read her post here.

Well I'm off to get ready for Canasta, it's one of the few u3a groups that are meeting up again, we meet at the Golf Club every Friday afternoon.  Today we are going to have a buffet lunch before we start playing cards so it should be a very pleasant afternoon. 😊

Have a great week.

Friday, 16 July 2021

A Bit Of Garden Chat and Other News

 I'm quite restricted about what I can grow in my garden because the soil quality is so poor.  I have heavy clay soil and very little of it, when I dig down I'm lucky if I find a spades depth of top soil before I hit hard clay, bricks and rocks underneath. I have also got trees on the rear outside boundary of my property and the roots have spread a good distance into my garden so they make digging any sort of substantial  flower bed impossible.

I had great plans for this corner, I intended to dig a corner bed, I had it measured out and had even bought the edging for it.  When I tried to dig however I was met with hard thick roots far too difficult for me to deal with and so I had to compromise.  I have found that unless you have unlimited cash or a strong man at your disposal compromise is key.

All of these plants are in containers, the conifer at the back is in a planter and I'm hoping that the roots will be able to penetrate down through the mangle of tree roots underneath. The fatsia is planted in a trug, after reading Linda's post about open bottomed pots it gave me the idea of cutting out the base of the trug which was cracked anyway and planting the fatsia in that and hopefully the roots will find a way. One advantage of having pots is that they can be changed around to give each plant a spot in the limelight.

As you can see I am letting my lawn grow and I love the clover, I used to cut the grass every week to ten days or so and now I'm leaving it for three weeks, it's lovely to see the bees flitting from flower to flower. Can you see the flower spikes on the cordyline? They are very pretty when they first open and the scent fills the garden it's quite powerful and the bees love it. I remove the spike as soon as it has stopped flowering as the plant looks very tired and looses lots of it's leaves, unfortunately I can't reach those at the back so I have only managed to remove one this year.

It's amazing how quickly the garden changes even from day to day at this time of year. This is my garden today, the pictures above were taken a week ago. Can you see the purple clover next to the little apple tree? I left it to grow and cut around it when I did cut the grass, I'm going to see if I can add clusters of wild flowers into the lawn for next year.  The apple tree has only a few apples this year it's usually laden but it means that the apples will be bigger and they usually taste lovely.

The three stone tortoises have had a make over this year as they were looking very tired, I painted them with acrylic paint and then varnished them to protect them from the elements, and waiting in the wings....

The rabbit family, I'm trying to decide which colours to paint them, all suggestions welcomed. 

This is the third year that little pot of yellow pansies has flowered, I think they look lovely with the hosta as a backdrop.
This morning finds the sweet peas crying out to be picked, the orange lilies shining in the background  and my tumberlina tomatoes ripening quite nicely I should have a harvest very soon.

A little posy of flowers from my garden

In other news
  • I lost a hearing aid! it's so easy to loose them when wearing a mask, every time you take your mask off the hearing aid comes out too so you have to be so careful, obviously I wasn't careful enough this time, but luckily I didn't have long to wait for a replacement and it was free but next time I'll have to pay £75 I hope that there won't be a next time!
  • I still haven't got my refund for the treadmill! it wasn't on my credit card statement again this month, I have been in touch with them and they have asked for statement evidence which I have given them. I await a reply.
  • I have been to Manchester with my daughter to visit my nephew and his family, it was lovely to see them and we stayed in a nice hotel overnight it had an amazing view if the city, it looks quite drab in the photo as it was a dull cloudy day. It's amazing how going away even for a short break does you the world of good especially if you can connect with loved ones.

  • For yesterdays walk, Baz and I took the train to Seaton Carew which is about a 25 minute ride away and walked along the promenade back to Hartlepool, we stopped half way for coffee in a lovely café right on the sea front and then continued on to Hartlepool where we had lunch of fish n chips, not exactly healthy when the whole purpose of the walk was supposed to help us keep fit! we had a walk around Hartlepool Marina and then took the train back home clocking 18,450 steps not bad at all I think. 

The weather has been lovely of late cloudy but nice and warm long may it continue! I hope that you all have a lovely weekend. 

Friday, 2 July 2021

This And That

This week has gone so fast I have to think back to try and remember what I have done each day, nothing of great interest it has to be said. 

The u3a website was down for a few days and it was literally a nightmare to try and get it up and running again, it involved trying to get in touch with the person who had set the website up in the beginning in order to get access to the account area so that I could update a payment card, I needed the card details from the treasurer a simple thing you would think but no, the people involved were on holiday, there were a lot of emails going back and forth before it was sorted.

 The weather wasn't that great on Wednesday which is my long walk day, the solution was to go and visit the MetroCentre, my friend Baz has never been there before which I find amazing really the place was opened in 1986 and it's not that far away. 

I wasn't going to shop I'm not really a great shopper if I need something then I will go search for it but I won't shop just for the sake of it, dare I say it bores me! I went there purely for the exercise because that place is huge, I lie because I was also going for coffee and lunch any excursion is only worth embarking upon if there is coffee and maybe food in the offing. 

All objectives were achieved, coffee was drank, lunch was eaten AND we walked over 10,000 steps without getting wet, Baz saw the place for the first time I asked him what he thought his's huge!! I don't think he will be bothered about going again. Having to wear a mask all day wasn't great either but we were indoors and they are the rules.

Last weeks walk was in Herrington Country Park which is just a 10 minute drive away from me and The Penshaw Monument is just over the road.

It's hard to believe this park sits on what was previously Herrington coal mine which closed in 1985, work on the park began in 1996.

The park itself is lovely to walk around and is skirted by plentiful wooded area's to get lost in should the mood take. 

We came upon this beautiful cemetery, some of the gravestones date back to 1854.

We eventually crossed over the road but not to walk up to the monument, I have done so in the past and it's a very steep climb I'm not sure this much older body would manage it now but I will try it sometime maybe at the start of the walk when I have more energy.

It was to sit in the café garden and have that much deserved coffee, you can just see the monument in the background as you sit there


I can't believe it's July already my favourite month of the year is June and it's gone,  I'm always sad when June has ended because it's the start of fresh new summer growth and the promise of  warm summer days, all things seem possible, by the time July arrives half of the year is over already.

Last month for the first time in too many years to count I didn't pick up a hook or a knitting needle, it felt so strange not to have some project to work on but I'm not in the mood, my mojo has gone right out of the window nothing seems to be inspiring me. We will see what July will bring.

I have however kept up with my personal challenge of completing a month of my cross-stitch 12 days of Christmas each month, only three more months to go!

Have a great week.