Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Putting my professional hat on! Reading.

I have been retired from teaching for a few years now but my daughter in law asked me to write a few words about helping a child to learn to read. Oh my goodness I had forgotten how passionately I felt about it. She asked for a paragraph and it turned out like this.

My thoughts about children and reading.


I taught in The Foundation stage all my teaching career. I think my favourite time of day was "Story time!" And my most rewarding moments were listening to children read and see that "lightbulb " moment when a child chose to spend their time in the Book Corner or ask if they could read to me, or see them read to a friend,a teddy or anybody else that would listen.


To know that they had started on a Literacy journey that would enrich the rest of their lives.

The children who came into class with a love of books,poetry,nursery rhymes,in fact any aspect of the written word stood out like shining beacons. They could not " read" per sae but knew that books and stories were special. They knew that story time was a time for quiet enjoyment. They understood that they had to listen to get the magic.


Instilling a love of the written word in its many forms can be the best gift you could give your child. I honestly believe it is the key to every area of development and learning.


Albert Einstein said" if you want your child to be intelligent read them Fairy Stories. If you want your child to be more intelligent read them more Fairy Stories!"

Just change the words Fairy Stories to the wider spectrum. Fiction,non fiction,poetry,nonsense rhymes, comics,newspapers anything that takes their attention.


Show your child that the world can be explored in the most exciting way by books and the written word. Show your child that the questions " how", "why", "when" can be answered by the written word.


Do not worry about teaching your child to read. Read to your new born baby, read to your toddler, read to your school age child, read to your older child. As long as it's pleasurable for you both keep reading to your loved ones for as long as you can.


In this modern technological age there are so many ways of entertaining and educating your children. I am in no way saying these things do not have a place in young children's lives. They obviously do. But, nothing replaces close cuddles, either on the settee or in bed when a little one know he has 100% of your attention. Wrap yourself in a cuddly blanket, read with expression, read with silly voices, read with love. Make it fun, a time of bonding, make it something to look forward to. Make it a part of every day.

Let your child make a little place in your house where he or she can keep their books. A place where they can go and find peace and happiness. In the early stages this might just be looking at pictures. Soon they will be pretending to read. Making up the stories as they see print. Go there sometimes and join in. But always find a time when your child is in a receptive mood. Children love routines and most of all,be prepared to read favourite books a zillion times.


Your child will come to love books and will soon learn the mechanics of reading. He will understand how books work. How to turn pages, how to follow the print from left to right . How a story generally has a beginning a middle and an end. How the unexpected, ridiculous,funny, extraordinary can happen.


My saddest days when teaching was when I looked in a book bag or in a Reading Record Book and realised that no one had spent time with their child and their books for days. The saddest reason given was " But, I don't have time" I wanted to scream... " Make time!!!!" It's the most important thing you can do. Children learn by example. A house with books,and where reading is seen as an essential part of life by all in the family is paramount. Be that model. Read yourself. Visit the library. Write stories with your child about their life so that the written word is seen as something personal,relevant and important.


Don't make reading a test. Don't make it stressful. Never make it a competition with other children. I honestly believe that when a child starts to read independently they should not be expected to read unknown text. When he or she has started school and a book comes home from their teachers read it to your child first. Maybe many times. Make reading a safe thing. A wonderful journey. Never let a child feel it is hard,difficult or something they can fail with. Remember all those times when you read to your child. Those times cuddled on the settee together . Make the school book feel as safe as that. To try, for example to cover the pictures to make sure they can actually read is like sending you on a journey without a map. Every clue should be given, every step supported, every effort praised.


Your child will soon be a reader in every true sense of the word.




Friday, 23 January 2015

Edward and his blanket.

There is nothing more wonderful than a hand crafted gift being received with love and appreciation! Just before Christmas a new little baby came into our family. Our Great Nephew, Edward.

This blanket has become very special to him. It keeps him cosy,swaddles him and comforts him whilst he slumbers. Imagine my delight when their sweet " Thank You " cards actually featured the blanket I had lovingly crocheted for him.

I love to think that it will be there during his childhood days.

I started a tradition for all the little ones arriving. Making them a knitted name banner. I saw this idea many moons ago in Covent Garden and they have been very well received. Simple knitted squares with letters appliquéd and decorated with buttons. Perfect!

And here is the one I have just finished for Edward. An auspicious name methinks!

Here's to a life full of joy,good health and happiness to this special little boy.

And according to a Devonshire tradition I did cross his palm with silver the first time we met . Let's hope that works too!

Before I go I just want to say " Thank You " to all the lovely people who left encouraging comments about Andy's knee. It's going to be a bit of a long haul I think but every day brings a little more movement but not necessarily less lain. But, it's early days yet.

Also a great big welcome to my new followers and a special "thank you" to my lovely followers who take the time to leave such lovely comments about life here at Chalky's x x x


Saturday, 17 January 2015

Donning my Nurses Uniform!

Andy had a knee operation this week so I have donned my Nurses uniform and am acting as chief Gopher,cook and bottle washer.
Lots of sitting down and resting going on with the patient . So I am keeping him company or otherwise he will not be following instructions and being inactive until we see the Physio on Tuesday.
Lots of word games,crosswords and code breakers going on.
But,as always my first love ... Some " Happy Hooking!"
Inspired by Lucy at Attic 24 Valentines garland I decided to make one totally out of hearts.
A quick and easy whimsical project which I will take into Hannah's for their Vslentine inspired window display.
I also bought this wool from Hobbycraft. It's Women's Institute Soft and Silky yarn.
10p from every ball sold goes to swell the WI funds.
Lovely,lovely zingy colours to actually make a flower wreath.

Lucy's creations always hit the mark and I love this combination of flowers and hearts.

I wonder if you are planning to make anything for Valentines Day.

There are lots of love and cuddles needed here at Chalky's just now .



Saturday, 10 January 2015

Part Two.. A tutorial for edging a Chevron Blanket.

Imagine my delight when someone left me a comment to say that my tutorial for making a Chevron blanket seemed to be so easy that she was going to make one. Crochet rocks! Blogging rocks! Sharing inspirational ideas rock. And not having to join lots and lots of squares by whatever method you choose makes a lovely change.


When I first started making Ripple and Chevron blankets I was unsure how to finish them off with edging stitches. I wanted them to look finished but I find I have to try lots of different patterns before I am happy!

I made this Chevron blankie for a great niece and I think it was one of the first ones I was totally happy with. Not only with the main part of the blanket but with the edge too.

Although the main part of the blanket is worked entirely using trebles I love the edging if it is worked in double crochet or half treble stitches. It seems to set the pattern area off in a frame. This blanket was edged echoing the colours in the blanket.

I finished the edge of the blanket below with 5 rows of soft blue worked in half trebles . And as a finishing touch 1 row of single crochet and then a picot edging worked like this. 4 single crochet. In the next space work 5 chain and a slip stitch in the same stitch. 4 single crochet. Pretty little loops to add the final touch


I tried a different edging with this blanket for my great nephew. I echoed the colours with rows of double crochet and then added a more substantial edging which emulated the jiggedy, jaggedy chevrons.


After working rounds of double crochet again echoing the colours I worked a row of double crochet and then worked the final row like this.

Starting in a corner work 4 trebles,1 chain 4 trebles in one space miss 3 chain and work 1 slip stitch into the next stitch. Miss 3 chain and work the treble cluster in the next stitch. Continue in this manner around the complete side. Don't worry if the pattern does not work out completely mathematically at all the corners. No one would ever notice.


So, I think edging is a personal taste. You might have noticed that I do not bother to straighten the wavy rows at the end of the main part of the Chevron blanket. Some tutorials advocate this but I have found if you work firm double crochet stitches in your edging there is no need. I wonder what kind of edging you like best?



Friday, 9 January 2015

A tutorial unravelling the mystery of Crocheting a Chevron Blanket.

I am always so grateful to all my lovely followers who leave encouraging and supportive comments on my blog.

Among them I have noticed that some people think working a Chevron pattern is too difficult,complicated or beyond their expertise. Well I wanted to write this post to change the thinking on that. If it was tricky,difficult or complicated the Chevron blankets I have made would be in the cupboard of doom under the stairs!!!!

I have been thinking about this post all week and don't want it to be too wordy but for it to act like a key. So that you can simply just get going.

Chevron Crochet for blankets.

NB I always work in the top of the stitches from the previous rows not the gaps between them.

My advice may not follow the normal patterns, but by relaxing a little .... And adapting a " don't worry,be happy hooking" approach maybe things will seem easy and clear.

Firstly you need to decide how wide you want your blanket to be. Then work a chain that long and add on a few chains for good measure.

I have worked a chain as evenly as I can of 152 chains and I work a few more just to make sure it works out at the end of the foundation row. If this proves to be too narrow for you an extra few rounds on the border soon sorts that. I have found it perfect for a baby's blanket for use in the car seat,pushchair or tummy time and hopefully in time to be dragged around the place as a perfect comforter.


Decide how wide you want the arrow parts of your chevron blanket to be apart . To give you an idea in this blanket they are 8 trebles apart.


In this one they are 12 Trebles apart.



And finally in this one they are 7 Trebles apart . I think it's good to choose which appeals to you most.



The Chevron pattern is basically made up of points at the top of the pattern and points at the bottom. It almost makes the blankets have a 3D effect.

Once you have decided upon the width you desire start your foundation row. This sets the pattern for the whole blanket so counting is essential. I actually count all the time. It becomes a rhythmic,relaxing mantra and pays massive dividends to the end look of your blanket. It keeps it even and removes any chance of it getting wider or narrower at any point .Essential for the final result.
So,for this blanket I am going to choose 10 trebles between the chevron points.
Count the first two chains as your first treble and then starting in the 3rd treble from your hook work 10 trebles in the next 10 chains.
Starting in the next treble we are going to work the first Chevron point. Try to put your hook through two threads of the chain you are working as it keeps the chevron point firmer.
( Ignore the finished blanket on my lap it's keeping me warm on this cold January day. We are concentrating on the Jade Green chain!)
Work 2 trebles, 1 chain, 2 trebles in this chain and then work 10 trebles in the next 10 chains.
Miss 2 chains and work 10 more trebles. This little bit of magic sets the pattern for your chevrons.

Work these two patterns to the end of the row. It is so easy to see you have it correct because of the way you have the top of the chevron and the bottom. Ignore the little tail of chains you have left over as these can be sewn in later.
Careful counting during these early rows really does set you up for a perfect result!
Chain 2 for the turn. Work 10 trebles. You are at the first Chevron point of this row. Miss 2 chains. Work 10 trebles.

Work 2 trebles,1 chain,2 trebles. And continue in this way to the end of the second row.
This setting of the pattern in sets of 10 trebles between the Chevrons is the key. You might find that at the end of the row there is a spare stitch ( don't worry)
Crochet the two remaining stitches together.
Resulting in a lovely neat edge. You might find that conversely it seems that you do not gave enough chains left at the end of the row to complete your 10 trebles. In that case just work 2 trebles in the last space. As long as you have sets of 10 at all times all will be well and there will be NO frogging back.
Then chain 2 and turn. It is so easy to see how you are progressing . The pattern of chevrons should sit exactly above each other.
This is true when you look at a completed blanket the little holes make a straight line from the top to the bottom of your blanket.


I like to work 3 rows of one colour and then change but it's entirely a matter of taste. Working odd numbers of rows of colour allows the joins to be on both sides.

I will post about borders in my next post and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to email me .

I hope you will soon be hooking happily away and making a lovely blanket . " Dartmoor Dreaming" is so easy yet so effective.



















Friday, 2 January 2015

My first " Tah Dah" of 2015.

Happy New Year to everyone who pops in to my little bit of Blogland. Perhaps you stop for just for a moment,browse for a while or leave kind and supportive comments. I appreciate each and every one of you.

A New Year has come into our lives gently and with little angst.We had a lovely family meal with Andy's sister, her husband and my sister in law. It was full of delicious food,not too much wine and good conversation.

Since then I have been finishing my "Dartmoor dreaming" blanket for the dear little baby due in a few weeks time.

I love it. And I love my husband who looks at each blanket and says something very encouraging .

This time "I think that's my favourite yet! "

I think he has probably forgotten many of the others !

It's a perfect size for swaddling or tucking around little legs on cold January days.

The hues are warming and will brighten grey clouds and moorland mist.
My favourite Picot edging adds a little full stop to the edging but takes nothing away from the gentle rippling chevrons.

So "Tah Dah" and " phew" it's all ready and will soon be tucked in a bag with some other home made baby bits.

My first completed project of 2015.

Talking of 2015 I have been mulling New Year words in my head. And rather than a resolution the word EMBRACE keeps resonating in my mind. I have whispered it in my waking hours and dreamt of it in my sleeping.

I want to embrace every moment. I want to embrace my life and all it's aspects. I want to embrace other people's opinions. I want to embrace change. Most of all I want my family,friends and loved ones to know I embrace them with every breath I take.

I am mulling over a complete de cluttering of my blog..... We shall see.

I am so seriously useless at the technical aspects of it all I shall probably delete it rather than make it spruce and spick and span for 2015.