Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Memories of a Hot Water Bottle.

"My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue...

An everlasting vision of the ever changing view
A wondrous woven magic in bits of blue and gold
A tapestry to feel and see, impossible to hold."

I went to College in 1972 and listened to Carole King endlessly. I love Tapestry then and I still love it now.

I have " talked " before about my way of crafting. The way I am with crafting,the way crafting is with me.


I find it soothing,calming,enriching joyous and it makes me feel complete. I miss my hook, needles and yarn if I can not spend some time hooking or clicking every day.

But. I also find crafting makes me very reflective,meditative and thoughtful This,in general adds to the calm I feel. It is so easy to reflect on happy memories,people who are precious and the sunbeams and rainbows of life.

Sometimes, however, working on a project brings up darker clouds and thunderous rumbles. I rarely foresee these when I start a project. More likely I have been prompted by the eye candy available on Pinterest or on other peoples gorgeous blogs.

When this happens I find have to work through that feeling in all areas of my life not just when I am immersed in that particular project. I read somewhere that if you keep revisiting the same issues it is because you have not really dealt with them. You may have tucked them up but you have not put them to bed!

So, it goes like this,this post of mine. I saw a beautiful Hot Water Bottle Cover and thought the idea perfect for a present. Simple,quick and easy. I thought.

However, I have a vivid memory of my Dad sitting in a car exasperated by my sullen silence. He said wearily to me " one day you will I understand!"

I remember just as clearly thinking " maybe,but it will never make it better."

These feelings were in my heart as a child of warring parents. Of course I grew up and the intellectual part of my brain totally understands. But the pain in my heart from living such a life has never totally left me. I am thankful for so much my parents gave me but it should have been more. More,in a fundamental way. The fundamental desire to be brought up in a loving,united home.

Thankfully to this day the "Sporty One" and I have managed to iron out the creases of a 40 year relationship with a love that has seen us make a home for our children. Not perfect by any means, but one where they have known love all around them. Thank goodness for that,for them, but also for me. The best cure for that ache which tries to wriggle out of its bed at times.

So, where is all this leading. Where did it start ..... Ah,yes that hot water bottle cover.

Life for me as a child was like being on a see saw that had got stuck. One half rooted happily on the ground. My mother,my Maternal Grandmother and that side of the family. The other side felt like I was in the air kicking my feet to try and get down.I am sure nobody wanted it to feel like that it just did.

I once went to stay with my paternal Grandmother. I can not remember how old I was maybe six or seven. She lived on her own in a cottage in the wilds of Mid Devon. I can remember it, and that visit as if it was yesterday. I totally understand about it now but not then. The cottage had no electricity or running water. Not unusual in those days. The kitchen had a table and a flagstone floor and an Aga that spewed smoke from the coal shaken from the scuttle. There was a door to a back kitchen where there was a shiny black pump handle which looked to me as if it went into the bowels of the earth. And sounded like it too when it was cranked to bring up a bucket of the coldest water I have ever felt.

My Grandma's cottage was full of cosy things. Cushions,tapestries and hand worked samplers all about God. Messages of a very serious nature about how to live your life and the consequences if you did not follow such guidance. I certainly did not understand anything but the literal at that age. I loved the little stitches but the messages worried me greatly.

My Grandmother wore long black clothes and had white hair plaited in a long tail pinned over the top of her head. I can't really remember her face.

But,those few days were a nightmare to me. She killed the slugs in her garden with generous doses of salt and I can still remember seeing their gelatinous bodies curled up in what to me seemed agony. I was a dreamy child who really rather liked making friends with all creatures and had never grown a lettuce to have to endure the appetite of voracious snails and slugs.

We walked around the lanes near her cottage and she dug up clumps of bluebells when I had been taught to just pick a few wild flowers and leave the rest for others to enjoy.

We played board games together but for some reason we could not play Snakes and Ladders properly as she did not include the descent aspect of the game when you landed on a snakes head. So,as she landed on the longest one just before the end she would not go down. I still don't understand that!

But,all this reflection has come about because of the hot water bottle. I think she must have only had one bedroom because I had to share her bed.

Above it was a very serious sampler about the end of the day and God. I read it and took it's meaning literally. The end was nigh. I nervously said to my Grandma with her flowing,brushed white hair " see you in the morning!"

Instead of a cuddle or a kiss her response was " God willing!"

I was totally scared out of my wits. Maybe God would not be willing. The sampler said he was probably not. So I lay there, huddled and cuddled by the only warm thing in the house my hot water bottle, listening to her breathing and praying fervently to that same God that Grandma would be alive in the morning.

Needless to say she was, but how I hated the next ritual. As there was no running water,let alone hot water I had to empty my hot water bottle into a big bowl and wash my face with the barely tepid offering. The smell of the rubber was so horrible and not a lot of washing went on.

Of course there were no phones in those days,no mobiles or Internet so I had to wait until it was time to be picked up by my parents. I don't remember how long I stayed but I do remember standing by the gate waiting for their car to arrive and crying as they came. Poor Grandma. I never went again. Perhaps she was as relieved as I was. The saddest thing is I don't know her name.

So,if my Dad was still here I could give him a hug and tell him that I love him. I could tell him that I do totally understand.But,how I wish that he had had the joys of a happy marriage like me. Where all the family is united and surrounded by love,laughter and shared memories of days spent together. It would have been lovely for me too.

I am going to make a few more of these hot water bottle covers and let this tale fall asleep with them.

How very apt ... a "Tapestry" of Granny Squares!


Sunday, 27 October 2013

I know crafting is best when ......

I have an Auntie who is ninety next year. When my Mum and I were arguing when I was little she was always there to rescue me. When I had tangles in my hair and my Mum pulled so hard tears came to my eyes she was there with a Mason Pearson hairbrush and a kind word.i have a picture of us on her wedding day. Apparently I climbed under the top table and managed to squirm my way onto her lap!

Later she had two boys and I think I was the daughter she would have loved.

When I was in trouble she was the mum I would have loved. She used to make " crunch crunch" ( a digestive biscuit and cocoa concoction) which she kept in a purple tin in the larder. She never told on me,even though she knew my frequent need for the toilet in her house was circumnavigated by another visit to the larder and a delicious chunk of the delectable "crunch crunch"on the way.

Of course I grew up, but we still have a lovely relationship. I write letters, she replies. We send ( just each other ) Christmas and Birthday presents. She is just really special to me.

Imagine my horror when I found myself in Marks and Spencer's yesterday and thinking about her for Christmas. For one second I picked up,and considered a packet of scented drawer liners for £2.99. I put them straight back. A present for an old person. Yes,she is 90 next year. A present in a rush. I would never think of her like that.

So I came home and thought just about her. Still living independently . Still gardening. Still cooking. Still laughing. So I got out my trusty hook and thought about the last time I visited her. The windowsill was full of plants. Pans were on the cooker. So I put some love into every stitch and made her a plant/ pot holder.

By using the new stitch working into the front of the post gives you a thick ridged base to the holder which will help to protect window sills or work tops.


Then I chose some special cards that I have made.


And last of all I chose a little notebook I made using Mulberry Paper and a sweet heart and button. Perfect for the lists she makes to help her with the word games she plays every day. Or maybe to write the number 30 down in large numerals. As the camera captured her breaking the speed limit last year. She quickly paid the fine as she thought herself too old to go to the driving course which was offered as an alternative!

...... Aaaaaahhhh so much better. She will know I still love her and I do. Much more than standing in Marks and Spencer's with loose change and buying a present that "would do!"

Actually I know the part we both look forward to the most .Tucked inside the parcel under the tree will be a long hand written letter with all the latest news of our families .
We then have a long standing tradition to see who is the first to write the "thank You " letter.

I cherish these rituals and know that slowly as the Circle of a Life is turning these lovely traditions will end and the last remaining link to my Childhood will be gone. How I shall miss her.


Friday, 25 October 2013

How many squares to the gallon?

Well we have just returned from a nearly 5000 mile long journey. It was wonderful especially catching up with our daughter in Barcelona.

It is such a beautiful city and I love Parc Guell. A Little bit of Gaudi at a time seems just perfect. Enough to enjoy but not too much to overwhelm.She is there for a while thank goodness. So far I have loved the 2 Gaudi houses and Parc Guell. The cathedral is next on our agenda.

I had decided before we left Southern Spain to drive home to make a blanket for my God Daughters birthday. A change for me. Bright,zingy,lively colours just like her.

Now the "Sporty One " and I make good travelling companions. He loves to drive and I love to craft, but that was a long way. I could take the time to divide the miles by the number of stitches but no need for here is the evidence.
My goodness I can tell you there are zillions. There are mistakes too. A passenger seat and driving well does not provide the easiest place to work in. I hooked. I sewed in ends. I compiled,and really could not see what it looked like until I got home shook it out. I have been like a woman possessed ever since working the border.

It suits her to a tee. Lively and colourful and I know she will snuggle down under it on winter days with her favourite book and I shall be able to picture her in my mind.
I tucked a label on so that she will remember me too!

I did my very own little bit of yarn bombing all the way home.Every time we stopped I twirled the latest woolly ends on a twig or hedge. I wonder if anyone noticed as they travelled in our footsteps?
This last little pile is for our garden here in the Springtime. A bright little nest lining for some special bird.
I have really enjoyed working the African Flower Granny Square but I think my next project will involve working 1 a week instead of a blanket if 49 in one week.
Also a gentler palette with just a little zing.

Here is my take on the pattern if you want to try it
  1. Chain 3 and join to make a ring.
  2. Work 16 trebles in to the ring in sets of 2 with 1 chain in between each set of 2.
  3. In each chain space work 3 trebles.8 sets of 3 in total .
  4. In each chain space work as follows.2 trebles,3chain,2 trebles.
  5. Working in the space created by the 3 chain work 7 trebles.there is no need for a chain in between the sets.
  6. Now I worked a small defining round in double crochet.start at the base of 1 of the sets of seven trebles and work 1 double crochet in each treble.then work an elongated double crochet into the row can see this quite clearly if you look at the yellow row in the picture above. This definitely gives a nice petalised effect.
  7. Now we are going to start to change the circle into the square shape we need to make our blanket.
  8. I found it easiest to make it (fairly) even to start in the middle double crochet stitch in a set of 7.
  9. Work 2 double trebles.( the yarn goes twice around your hook before you start the stitch)2 chain 2 double trebles.this is in fact making your first corner. Continue in this way.2 trebles,2 half trebles,7 double crochet,2 half trebles,2 trebles. And you should be ready to start your next corner.continue around your work until slip stitching to complete the round. It's worth checking now that you have indeed 4 corners.
  10. To finish the square you work the whole round in trebles as follows. Corners have a pattern of 2 trebles 1 chain,2 trebles and the sides have 1 treble in every space from the previous row.
  11. Give it a tug and block and you will have a super square.
So,that is me back home for a few days. And whilst I am delighted to have completed such a big project little things are on the hook now!

My knees are going to miss that cuddly blanket so a hot water bottle cover in sleepy colours is next.
Thanks as always to all my lovely followers for taking the time to leave comments they really do brighten my days.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Bloggers like Baskets ... I think!

Blog hopping is so inspiring. How often I look at a blog and think "that's just how I would like it" or " I love the look of that" It's like meeting your best friend for coffee and cake.

I love baskets. Every type. To plant in,to go to market with,to make yummy hampers in, to store books and magazines in. I think you are getting the picture. I actually do not think anyone can have too many. There is always a use for one. A prettifying idea.

I picked up this beauty in a market in France for 5 Euros. I love it.


Immediately I popped my yarn in it and have been happily hooking with it by my side.

It actually fits in the footwell of the car so I have packed it ready for our long journey home. What a different colour palette for me. Bright and zingy.

I can never resist making a start just to see how it fits!

A new pattern Granny for me too .... The African Flower. I very rarely,if ever rip my work back but those two squares with yellow in placed next to each other are shouting at me just now. Quieter down yellow. Rest and cosy down.

It is a special blanket for a special little girl who is bright,zingy and full of life.

So it should be just right. No pale borders to calm it down .. Just zing,zing,zing.

I always like to have something else to turn to so I have been knitting some more squares for another blanket inspired by the lovely blog Ladybird Diaries. So if the miles get long it will be perfect . No room by my feet for another basket so this pretty bag will tuck in nicely.

And the miles will whizz by as we are travelling first of all to see our youngest daughter who is in Barcelona for the winter and we have not seen her since April. I can not wait for a very big cuddle and catch up.


Monday, 14 October 2013

The easiest Tutorial for a Crochet Hat.


Crochet is a bit like a ladder to me ... Always another step to climb and learning new techniques as I go.

I love the speed in which hooky projects grow. I totally love it's forgiving nature. Keep on hooking and generally it all works out well in the end. It's that " Be happy, Don't worry" appoach .

After hooking relentlessly around Momma Blankets. Cosy,useful,cuddly ........ And a humongous amount of stitches I wanted to add some other little items to my Greenfiels parcel.I knitted a few hats. Knitting takes ages!

So I started to crochet a hat. And after reading the inspirational story of an amazing lady on the Greenfields site who is 90 and still making hats I wanted to make some too. I noticed hers had a ribby effect on the rim.

I always end up losing the pattern page after flicking ontoFacebook to see if there any more gorgeous photos of the edible William. How he has grown in the Dubai sunshine!!


So with a rough idea how the pattern went I set forth with my hook and made up this pattern which is "fall off a step" easy.

It goes like this...

Round 1. Chain 5 and slip stitch to make a loop.

Round 2.working in to this loop chain 2 ( to represent your first treble) and then treble 9 more stitches into the loop. 10 trebles in total

Round 3. Work 2 trebles in every space from round 2. 20 trebles in total.

Round 4. Work 2 trebles in every space from the previous round. 40 trebles in total. This is the basis of your hat.just doubling up on the rounds like that makes for a very quick, easy and attractive crown for the hat.

Round 5. This is where we are going to work the first round with a hook in front of a post stitch. Start your round with 2 chain,work 3 more trebles in the next 3 spaces. This is making your first set of 4 before your first post stitch. This stitch is easy and yet gives a raised rib effect.

Yarn around hook and work your hook through the next post from your previous row instead of working in the space. And continue your treble stitch in the normal way.

Working in the very next space and around the circle work 4 trebles( your next set) and another front post treble. Continue in this way until you have completed the round and slip stitch to finish. I have popped some red yarn to show the front post stitches and arrows to show them all around this round.

Round 6 to 16 continue in this pattern and same number of stitches.

By working continuous rounds in this manner without any increases at all the circle slowly pulls in to make a hat shape. I worked rounds and rounds until it reached the size I wanted.

This pattern is so easy to just keep working because you can see so clearly if your sets are in line. If you do miss a stitch don't worry either add one or put 2 together. It never shows. I love crochet!!

So here we have it the hat partly finished and the finishing technique for the rim is what I have just learnt. You can actually make a ribby,stretchy rim for a hat. It is such a handy technique to have in your stitchery repertoire.

It goes like this.

Round 17. Work 1 treble in every space leaving the stitch in the front of post stitches out on this row.. This first row of trebles forms a good foundation to the ribby band. It actually pulls the hat part that you have worked in.

Round 18 to 22. Now work a front of post stitch in every post from the previous row. Work as many rows as you want like this. As you can see I have worked 4. The more you work the stretchier it becomes and the rib part of the hat becomes more and more defined. I found it important not to have too tight a tension on your last row as this is the part that pulls over the head and sits on the forehead.

I am still amazed after a lifetime of hooking I have got this ribbing sorted. I am sure it will be just as effective on the bottom of jumpers or cardigans.

Sew in the ends and finish off just as you please. A crochet flower. A button. A Pom Pom or even a Twirly Whirly.

Of course a little bit of an obsession has been going on but I am so pleased to be able to tuck some hats in with the blankets.



Friday, 11 October 2013

A lovely pile.



After a busy summer when all seemed totally family orientated with a close circle of thoughts about loved ones,the beginning of Autumn has led me to think a little bit further afield.

Every morning upon waking.... Usually late,I stir from sleep and make a positive affirmation. Simple but meaningful. Then I actually give a little mental note of thanks for the new day and all we have. So much,so much,so much.

The simple things that cost nothing like blue skies and sunshine. The things which cost little,like the choices we make each day. But also for the big,huge enormous things which we take for granted...... freedom,water,food,warmth,love and peace to name but a few.

So,with Autumn has come a feeling of nesting and collecting. Gathering and giving.

A lovely pile to tuck in the car for postage as soon as we arrive home.

Greenfields Africa seems such a wonderful site and I have made this little pile for them. And what a lot I have learnt along the way.

2 Momma Blankets for Mommas and babies.

Colourful and bright with little hidden "silky taggies" for the babies to snuggle up to.


What a way to bust your stash as they need to measure 1 metre square. For the second blanket I practised joining Granny Squares as you go. My first little foray into this technique. It's good.

Then I started little hats. Little hats,medium hats, big hats.

First knitting,then crochet.


I love the finish knitting gives but my goodness it's slooooowwww!

Then I tumbled upon crocheting round the front post. A new adventure for me.....I will blog about this very venture in my next post. But I got it after a little You Tube demonstration and some hooky practice.

Quicker hats,pretty hats,holey hats,crochet hats.

Woo Hoo ... That ribbed effect is made by hooking around the front of the post. I really like it.


Just add a little flower and a button and it's fit for a Princess.

A Granny cluster hat. My first attempt at this hat and using the very same crochet around the post stitch stitch resulted in a ribby finish for the base of the hat. It's stretchy yet fitting. I am so pleased I have learnt so much whilst giving a little bit too.

And finally a simple Beanie my daughter tucked in my charity box last time she was with me.


So a pile. A pile of fluffy goodness soon to make its way to far distant lands with lots of love tucked in.


Tuesday, 8 October 2013


O= open mindedness to face every new challenge.
W= Willingness to embrace change and willpower to shed old habits that are dragging you down.
L= love for yourself and all else in this world of ours.

Just a thought to share x

Friday, 4 October 2013


There is a simple pattern for a sweet little purse on my sidebar which I have had some lovely comments about. It is quick and simple and ideal for tucking a hanky or some hair toggles in and then popping it in a box destined for far away lands.

Operation Christmas Child is one of the charities I love to support and I have mentioned it many times here at Chalky's!

I am a total butterfly with my crafting pursuits. I start big projects,tire.

Start small projects, get bored.

This never worries me but I always have a basket beside me with an assortment of things on the go.

Simple hooking that I can do whilst pretending to concentrate on what is going on. Clicking at times because I love the finish of knitting. And then "Grand Designs!!!" The beginnings of great things. The evidence is there in the bag...tucked well down!

But these fledglings are never wasted. I start new patterns and then stuff them away as I know they will take an age to complete.

Then I make myself get the bag of doom out and make something .

I was thinking a big blanket made with these pretty hexagons a good idea. That lasted for one hexagon. Too much,too heavy, too bright. Anyway I think I started that a year ago and when I pulled it out yesterday a metamorphosis was underway. Let's get something done and ready to go to a good cause.

A purse is born!

I think a little girl will love this pretty shape and row of buttons. I loved tucking things away when I was little. Usually odd things. Call me quirky!

Anyway a quick and easy project.

Chain 3 and slip stitch to make a circle. Chain 3 ( this represents your first treble) and then work 11more trebles into your ring.Change colour.


Work 2 trebles in every space created on your first round. slip stitch to finish and change colour.

Work 3 trebles in each space from previous round. Slip stitch and change colour.

Now the pattern changes start the hexagon shape. Slip stitch in one space and chain 4. Slip stitch in next space between your Granny clusters and chain 4. Continue in this manner until you have made 12 not change colour this time.


Continue your next round as follows. Chain 3 ( that first treble again), 2 trebles, 1 chain,3 trebles in the first loop. In the next loop work 1 cluster of 3 next loop work 3 trebles,1chain,3 trebles to make your second corner and continue like this. Give it a pull and "Tah Dah" you have a hexagon. Slip stitch to finish and change colour.

I worked 2 more rounds to make my purse the size I wanted it but you can choose the size you like the best.

Just work an extra set of three trebles between the corner sets on each round.

Here is side 1 of my purse finished.

And like all the best Blue Peter shows... Here is another one I made earlier!!

So, the best part about writing tutorials is you end up with at least two items.

I placed the back and front pieces on top of each other and starting with slip stitch I joined them together. But because. I wanted the opening to be big enough for little hands I did not start the joining until after 1 corner cluster.

I have put my hook in the space so that you an see what I mean.

Making sure the 2 sides match work a slip stitch through both of the last stitches from your final round. As this is the point where the purse will be opened and closed work 4 more slip stitches to make it strong and firm. Ensure you go through both the front and back stitch( 4 loops) to make sure the join is secure and strong. Work around until you come to the last but one cluster on the fifth side of your hexagon.

Because this will be the opening point of the purse I have worked 5 single Crochets into the same space to strengthen it just like I did at the beginning of the joining process.

Lastly before you start the finishing touches work a single crochet around each of the opening edges.

The little closing flap is really easy. Crochet a little flap either using clusters of 3 trebles like this one.

Or rows of single trebles like this one.

Finish the purse by making 3 loops with single crochet and chains. A picot edging which is so useful for closing any crochet item you make.

Then add the buttons. I love finding them in my stash. And you could add a pretty tie if you want to.



If there is any problems with this tutorial please leave me a message or email me. I hope you like it and make some for someone special.