Bluebell Time

It’s bluebell time, come on grab your friends, we’re going to visit bluebell lands…etc

I don’t know a single person that isn’t impressed with a sea of these. Let’s face it, even a single bluebell sitting on its own is pretty good. Bees especially agree.

At the weekend we had an impromptu adventure to our nearest gathering of knock your socks off bluebells. Blackbury Camp is situated on the Ottery St Mary to Seaton road and it’s beautiful and interesting at any time of the year. I wrote about it last year when I was seemingly a bit mardy. Check out my grump here.

Photographing outside views is a lot different to product photography. I’ve had more practice at the latter but not much else.  This was one of the things that was upsetting me last year. I’ve improved since then but I still don’t fully understand how to get the best shot. It’s not just about clicking away and hoping that one will turn out OK. Every picture you take should have something going for it. That’s what I think. Believe me, I totally click away and hope for the best but I also try and plan stuff too.

I wasn’t thinking about it at the time (hence the non matchy matchy) but these two pics are the left and right of the same view. We’re in an oval bowl of an iron age fort. You can run around the top “walls” or amble through the centre. What is not seen to the left is the lane that brings you here. To the right; an exit, a series of trenches and stunning views of the valley beyond. The pic above this one shows the other side of the wall and one of the trenches.

Do have bluebell woods near you? Anyone in Devon know of other pretty woods? What follows can only be described as Bluebell spam. It’s worth it though!

Spam over. And by the way, I cheated. The bumblebee shots aren’t from Blackbury Camp at all, I took them in my garden a few days before our jaunty outing! Sorry about that. The fun will never end.

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The Crochet Elephant Ripple Blanket

Hello! Happy May! Love May, May makes me happy. Proper spring you see, it’s magic! Plus it’s my birthday in a couple of days and that always gets me giddy (I can’t believe I still get excited about my birthday). It’s been a while since I wrote a post about crochet. They’ve all been videos haven’t they?! I’m starting to see a divide between blogging and vlogging, that I had no idea about. It’s not a problem but I’d like to not neglect anyone.

Anyway… blanket. At the beginning of April a friend got in touch with me and asked very nicely if I would make a baby blanket for her friend. I liked the ideas she had and fancied having a go at something different. It was nice that I could do a brainless ripple but there was also going to be something interesting in the mix as well.

I know that the baby in question is having a safari themed nursery and because grey was to feature in the blanket’s colour palette, it was elephants that sprang to mind. I did a quick search online and came up with these cuties. The pattern is from Repeat Crafter Me and it’s exactly the sort of thing I wanted.

I like how the secret elephants are hidden inside when it’s folded up. You might think it’s a boring blanket. But tumble it open and the cuteness is revealed!

They had to go trunk to tail, that’s something I definitely wanted. I hadn’t thought much about how they’d be attached. I’m glad it dawned on me not to merrily stitch through to the other side. I paid lots of attention to making the stitches only on one side. I had to forgo safety eyes for the same reason (they’d poke right through to the other side). I forgot to take pics of the other side to prove that there’s nothing on show. Watch my latest vlog, the evidence is there!

I used Stylecraft Special dk as it’s perfect for baby blankets. I ordered the yarn at the same time as the release of the new shades so I knew Buttermilk had to be part of it. It’s like someone has added mayonnaise to the Mustard. They go very nicely together. Also in the mix are Teal, Sage and Grey. It looks quite nice on my fabulous(ly cheap) sofa too!

And let’s not forget the ubiquitous Neat Ripple! I have no idea how many times I’ve made Attic 24’s Neat Ripple! So many! I did 8 pattern repeats and 64 rows before adding the grey. At each end I added a ripply row of grey and then a straightening row. You can straighten it off by following this useful guide from Little Tin Bird. Then it was just a case of making a couple of rounds of UK trebles before going back to Attic24 for the edging, which was pilfered from Lucy’s original Granny Stripe. Phew! What do you think? I like it! Anything with grey and mustard floats my boat though. Grellow they call it.

Anyway, I’m late for an evening walk that I must do. I’ve been very lazy recently and done no proper exercise. And I need to go to the shop for bread and milk…

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Stuff from Episode 5!

Hey! Welcome to Episode 5 where I talk about crochet. It’s a crochet podcast or vlog, I still haven’t decided what to call it. Technically it’s a vlog but podcast is the word that has caught on… The pedant in me is finding the situation very hard to deal with.

Click on the pic above to take you to YouTube!

Here, you’ll find links to all the things I’ve talked about, along with some photos. So even if you don’t want to watch, you can at least see what I’ve been up to recently.

Links:

The Neat Ripple by Lucy of Attic24

A simple blanket edging (the one from Attic24’s original granny stripe).

Cute elephants from Repeat Craft Me.

Straighten out your ripples, here.

My little purse tutorial.

The Cleckheaton colour block jumper that I so desperately want to make!

What my garden looked like a fortnight ago (it’s much more bloomy now-will take pics).

Instagram RavelryPinterestFacebookEtsy

I think this blanket deserves its own blog post! I’ll get on to that next week.

All my sewing projects are in full use, I’ve got a couple of other things on the go and yep, that’s it really! Let me know what you think! Have a fab weekend. X

How to Crochet a Purse and add Zip and Lining

Hi guys! How is everyone?! I’ve finally made another tutorial for YouTube! Phew. This one is for a cute little crochet purse. I wanted to show how to sew in a zip and then at the last minute I decided to go all the way and whack in a demo for the fabric lining too! The response from the crochet Easter egg (my first tutorial) was amazing, absolutely amazing! Thank you so so much. It has definitely spurred me on to make more video tutorials.

Anyway, if you crochet but have always wondered how to attach a zip to your project or want to know how to go about lining it too, this is the tutorial for you.

Things you’ll need:

-Cotton aran yarn (or another yarn of your choice). I used Drops Paris.

-4.5mm hook.

-Zip in the length of the purse you want.

-Fabric for lining.

-Needle for darning in end.

-Needle and threads for sewing zip and lining.

-Scissors!

Here are a few pics of the starting process… Don’t forget, you can chain as many as you like. Make sure your foundation chain is a couple of stitches longer than the actual zip. The work shrinks down slightly smaller than the foundation chain. The piece is worked from the bottom up and in the round. To get the full how to, please hop over to YouTube. Cheers.

Please do let me know how you get on. If you make a purse I’d love to see, you can #zeensandroger and I’ll see it on Instagram or Ravelry it! Or just come and say hi!

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Busy Busy in the Garden.

I feel like this is the beginning. Doesn’t it feel like the beginning of the gardening season? Hardcore gardeners have probably been at it for weeks but cliche that I am, I did most of it over the Easter weekend. Even squeezed in an obligatory garden centre visit. Anyone else stereotype themselves this weekend?!

My outside space was neglected last year and I made a promise that I would be more attentive by the time spring came. So I chucked on old trainers and tatty jeans to spend a couple of days in the garden. (If my mistreated anemones can make the effort to flower, I can make the effort to green my fingers).

If I’m being honest, the bank holiday weekend wasn’t my first time out there, I’ve done rudimentary weeding and pruning, stuff like that, oh and planted some pea seeds. But it was the first weekend where I’ve spent a considerable amount of time doing organising, tidying and planting. Alchemilla mollis was growing in the gravel, so I scrabbled around and got those in pots,  I popped out to the front and gathered lots of baby foxgloves and put those in pots too.

Mum had given me a heuchera and a pulmonaria, so in the borders they went. I’m hoping the foxgloves and alchemilla will join them to fill up all the gaps I’ve got. Some cat mint died last year and left a hole. I didn’t split it when it was at its best a few years ago, I could see its demise coming and wasn’t proactive in saving it. Eh, I’ve never actually split any plants, even though the gardeners on the telly do it all the time. I get a lot of my plants from Mum cos she does what she’s told! Maybe I should chop apart the geraniums this year.

It doesn’t matter how weedy things are in the borders. As long as “weeds” bring colour, they’re welcome. Look at the delicate blue of the speedwell, I love that colour. My mum must too, it’s another one from her. Do you love forget me nots too? They make me extremely happy indeed. Those white anemones are the first plants I ever introduced to that patch. I’m amazed  that they come up every year.

At the end of the season last year, I collected some seeds from the aquilegia. I planted them in a tray this weekend (along with many other seeds in many other trays) and I hope to give the ones under the fig tree some friends (not that you can see the fig tree in the photo above – it’s that blurry trunk in the background).

I’m so excited to see all the buds on the clematis. We had to chop loads back last year as it was clogging everything up. Buds mean flowers! We didn’t kill it!

And you’ll be pleased to know that we’ve been eating purple sprouting with nearly every dinner. There’s flipping loads of it now. I needn’t  have worried about it at all. Just had some patience. But now it needs to get over itself, my runner beans will need to go in that space.

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Crochet Vlog Episode 4!

Hi everyone! It’s another crochet vlog/ podcast episode! Wahoo! Click on the image above to take you on a short journey to YouTube. Thank you again for lots of encouraging words and stuff like that. It has been wonderful reading all your lovely comments, cheers guys!  Hope everyone is well and enjoying any sunshine you’re having (it’s been an exceptional few days here)! I forgot to mention all the usual gubbins about where you can find me, eeh…  If you google Zeens and Roger,  I’m sure you’ll find all my bits! Just don’t click on that annoying “Did you mean Jeans and Roger?” No! I didn’t!

Below are some  links and pictures of all the things I’ve acquired, that I’ve been working on, or have finished! All of which, I chat about in the video.

Neat Ripple by Attic 24. This baby blanket version has 8 multiples of 14, I forgot to mention that!

Granny square bag pattern. Here is the link to my free pattern.

My trip to Amsterdam can be found here. Check out the gorgeous woolly stuff.

Want to know more about the Contemporary Craft Festival in Bovey Tracey? Click on the link!

A Weekend in Amsterdam.

Did I catch my cold in Amsterdam or did the kids give it to me when I got back?! Either way, it’s snotsville here at the minute and I’m not sure if I can coherently conjure up words. If you would like to see what happened this weekend then please come, come on a virtual tour of my one of my favourite cities (I’ve been to Amsterdam four times!!). I will bung up pictures and see what I can do! Beware, many pictures of wool skeins will appear at some point and then it’s back to the tour via some phone pics.

I love Amsterdam, it’s friendly, it’s easy and it’s fun. The architecture always blows me away, the canals too. The last time I went was ten years ago and what I didn’t realise then is that it is a city full of young and beautiful people. I didn’t quite feel old this time but if you’re not quick on your feet then tram/bicycle squashing seems pretty inevitable. I don’t recall feeling panicky before, but this time round my brain wasn’t quick enough to feel casual about crossing roads. I didn’t think to get a photo of the crazy crisscross of multiple lanes for cars, bikes and trams.

  The weather was mostly good. On our last day it was glorious sunshine. The day before was overcast and we didn’t mind a bit of rain. There was no need for a real coat or anything.

  Upon arrival the first thing I made everyone do was visit Stephen and Penelope’s. It’s the “home” of knitwear designer Stephen West and someone not called Penelope. I dragged seven other people on my mission for wool. I felt marginally guilty; not a single one of those people was remotely interested in this pilgrimage but it was alright cos we went for beer straight after. I had to take lots of photos because it would have been taking the Mick to spend too much time in situ. Oh, crikey I wanted to buy it all. I went in having already decided to at least come out with a tote bag. They didn’t have any left and that made me sad. So I spent 5 Euro on a teeny drawstring bag instead. And two skeins of souvenir dutch yarn to squish.

Undercover Otter is a yarn actually from Amsterdam, you can’t get more souveniry than that! I’ve got plans for this yarn but have no idea when I’ll get the time to make anything (certainly not for the next couple of weeks whilst the kids are off school).

Being a dweeb.

Look at what I missed here?! Right next door to Stephen and Penelope’s is a gorgeous looking fabric shop! I didn’t take this pic until the next day (when it was closed, boo). In all the yarny excitement I was blind to all else. Gutted. Anyone know where I can buy geo patterned fabric? What makes me cross is that it was all so bargainous, I missed out on bargains!

We spent half a day in the Rijksmuseum. Yes, it’s pretty impressive but my back ached far too much to give a stuff by the end of floor two. Look, I have a degree in Art History but even I thought it all looked the blinkin’ same (hyperbolic of me, I know). Floor three  should have been my favourite but I hardly saw any of it. By that time I’d given up.

Highlights of the museum included Petronella Oortman’s dollhouse. No one was looking at the painting of it (see above) but everyone was clamouring to get a look at the real deal. I was interested to see it because I’ve just read The Miniaturist (it was OK, not as amazing as I was lead to believe). The Miniaturist is set in 17th century Amsterdam and was inspired by this very dollhouse. Not sure how the real Petronella would have felt about someone making up a fanciful story about her though. Also, there was the other “must see” that is Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. We kept calling it The Night’s Watch and wondering where Jon Snow was. Hilarious, aren’t we?

We walked all over the city. People’s fitbits confirmed well over twenty thousands steps per day. Fitbits! We all loved the Albert Cuyp market. Loads of great stalls. Wool, fabric and food. I was very happy.

Amsterdam’s night life is notorious and you really shouldn’t miss out on it. It is a marvel to walk the streets and see with your own eyes. Sadly, pictures taken in the dark, on my phone after a few beers; I didn’t get anything to even come close to capturing the true nutjobness of the red light district. You have to see it for yourself. The city’s lights at night are stunning too. The canals are lit up, it’s magic!

A fab way of seeing the city is a trip on a barge. We did this on our last morning, with the sun out and jumpers off. I learned loads about the history of the place and it was a good accompaniment to The Miniaturist. We chugged down the Herengracht (where all the mega rich people used to live) and around the Golden Bend. There are certain sights you can only see here by boat and I think it’s essential if you’re after a touristy excursion. It was just the right thing to end the break on. Thoroughly enjoyed it!

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How to Make a Granny Square Bag. Free Crochet Pattern

I had no idea that I was going to make a bag last week, no idea at all! I was dashing off somewhere and felt I could do with taking a little crochet project with me. Hurriedly, random balls of yarn were grabbed and off out I went. Thus, a granny square bag was made! Yay!

I’ve had a few new friends come and join in the fun here recently, so I thought it’d be nice to share the pattern with you guys as a thank you. Thank you!

I didn’t have enough yarn to make a blanket, which made me wonder what else I could turn the squares into. I considered making a cushion, but what got me really excited was the idea of a bag! It’s a tricky thing to take a picture of, the bright colours were shouting loudly. I used leftover Paintbox aran and joined as I went (I’m fairly sure I used the Attic 24 method)

If you’d like to make a crochet granny bag you will need the following:

-Colourful yarn (I used aran weight but any yarn is fine)

-4.5mm hook

-Bag handles (search”bag handles” on ebay to find some, that’s what I did!)

-Lining fabric (something measuring a couple of inches bigger than your finished crochet piece)

-Sewing needle for yarn, pins, sewing needle and thread.

The main body of the bag is a bog standard gang of grannies; super quick and easy to do! Rounds of three, joined together in 8 rows of 5 (you’ll either need more rows or more rounds for each square if you’re using DK yarn). Every now and again all you need to do is check to see that the spread of colour is even! My piece measured 15.5×27″ (40x68cm)

Once the main body is complete,  the handles need to be shaped. It’s not as tricky as it looks and luckily, accuracy is not paramount. I don’t mind a project that needs a bit of bodging and crochet is usually very forgiving when it comes to bodging! Not that you need to bodge it, I’m just saying!!

UK terms are used (a treble is a US dc)

  1. At one end of the main body, (right side facing) make a strip of granny clusters starting with a ch3 and 1tr in the first st and ending with 2tr on the last stitch of the row. Straddle the square joins with 1tr, 2trtgr, 1tr.  You can see what I’ve done on the picture above.
  2. Turn the work. Ch2,  1htr in each st along to the end. Turn.
  3. Ch1, slip stitch along approximately 10 stitches (you want the narrow section to be the same width as the handle slot). Ch2, 1htr in each stitch along, missing the last (approx) 10st. Turn
  4. Ch2, 1htr in each st of last row. To widen the work again, ch13, Turn.
  5. 1htr in 3rd ch from hk. 1 htr in each st along to the end. Continue by adding 10 more stitches using a chainless foundation half double stitch. This is actually easy, I promise. I’ve found a good video that shows you how:  The half double chainless stitch. Skip the first minute of the video, the informative bit starts just after! Turn.
  6. Ch2, htr all the way along. Turn
  7. Repeat row 6. Fasten off. Repeat 1-7 on the other end of the bag.

Next, with right side facing, evenly stitch dc’s (sc’s) all the way down the edge of both lengths. Don’t fasten off yet…

Fold the bag in half and using the yarn still on the hook, slip stitch the sides together. Repeat on the other side.

Tuck the handle bits through the bag handles, fold down to the inside and pin ready for sewing closed.

The stitches don’t have to be neat, if you use matching yarn, you won’t see if you’re making a dog’s dinner of it! Try not to come through to the right side though, or if you do, make the stitches small so they’re not staring at you. Don’t forget the top bits at the ends.

Next you need to add the lining. It’s not 100% necessary but I think it looks better and you won’t have your stuff escaping through granny holes! Fold your length of fabric in half, right sides together. Place the bag on top and mark/draw where you need to sew. Also mark where you want the fold of your top hem to go. Sew down both sides to make the bag cavity. Next, iron the seams nice and flat, at the same time fold down the top hem and press. I went back to the sewing machine and top stitched the hem.

Tuck the lining into you bag, pin it in place and hand sew the top of the lining to the top of the crochet!

I think I need a course in how to photograph bright colours!!

I would absolutely love to hear if you make one of my designs, please do give me a shout. I’d love it if you said Hi! Don’t forget that I’m on Ravelry, so your makes can be added there. Oh, and I almost forgot Instagram! #zeensandroger

Thank you. X

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Episode 3 of a Crochet Podcast

Hello everyone! I hope you can come and watch Episode 3 of my crochet podcast (or is it a vlog?!). It would mean so much if you spent a little time with me, I’d love to hear what you think. The best thing is, is that you can judge me for bad hair and gurning (I seem very proficent in gurning and having bad hair…and fiddling/flipping said hair- apologies for that, it’s something I need to work on). And you can also get on with crafting at the same time as watching!!

Click on the image above to take you to YouTube!!

Stuff I went on about:

The Wool Kitchen

The Crochet Project -the Humbug Scarf (and I was calling it a shawl!)

Ravelry Group

And below are some pictures of pretty much everything I spoke of in the episode! I hope I haven’t left anytthing out. Does the Pink pop yarn remind you of sweeties?! I went out and bought sweeties especially!

Thank you so much! Now off to play with wool! XX

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A March Garden.

Huzzah! Spring is here! Hello Spring! Who doesn’t swoon over spring blossom?! I can’t get enough, it’s just so lovely. This example I found in a car park. Ok, a garden centre car park but a car park nevertheless. It was smothered in busy bees, who couldn’t get enough either. I watched them go about their business for a while, Youngest had to drag me away.

These pictures were taken on my phone this morning after dropping the boys off at school. Super happy flowers. Even weedy types like celandine and daisies are cheerful.

I might have crept into people’s gardens to take some of these (probably didn’t get spotted).

There have been two periwinkle fails in my garden so I make do with walking past this lot every day instead.

Anyway, this is the garden at the moment. I’ve had two “sessions” taking photographs in the garden this week. Both have been lacking. It might be the absence of Chelsea quality plants, the disorganised appearance or just an unskilled photographer behind the lens (I’m improving on product photography but outdoor snapping is a completely different ball game). In real life I love this view; a picture of it is never the same. Hmm.

Look at all the yellow! Who is a gobbler of daffs? Someone has eaten the flowers now. I bought some slug pellets yesterday but I don’t know if daffodils are a slug’s cup of tea.

I’m glad the anemones in the border come up every year. The ones I planted in pots in the autumn haven’t flowered. They might flower in the next couple of weeks or they might not get blooms at all. They could be punishing me for tugging  at them a while back (I’d forgotten what they where, which I mentioned last time I did a garden catch up).

I’ve had a quick look at what the garden was like around this time last year. Currently, it seems to be a weeny bit behind. I wrote a very similar blog post a year ago. I’d better have a different twist on a spring garden for next year.

I think the bluebells are multiplying! No other spring bulbs I’ve ever had have done this. I’d love it if the snow drops could bring it upon themselves to do a bit of breeding or whatever it is they do. I’m fed up of sporadic lone drops. I want big ol’ clumps! Luckily, the bluebells have got enough gumption about them to get their clump on.

The happiest garden happy happened this week. I found purple sprouting! The relief!! I’m looking forward to munching on this I tell you. My all time favourite vegetable. When I was pregnant (this time four years ago) there were trips green grocers nearly every day to buy it. The man there started giving me worrying looks after a few trips.

I often have a companion when hanging out in the garden. She will follow me all over the place. I’m feeling sorry for Marceline at the moment. We’ve had a few incidents of cat wee wees in the utility room.  I blamed it on hyacinths the last time I got a waft but then I caught a tom nicking her dinner. He scarpered when he saw me. Of course, now I realise he’s had a spray in my house! Cheeky arse. Thankfully, it’s just the utility room (no soft furnishings) but how dare he?! Poor Marcy. I thought she had it sorted and ruled her roost but maybe she’s being bullied by the swagger monster next door. I’ve doused the place in vinegar but not sure if that’s the correct remedy.

In the interests of full disclosure: The corner of shame.  This is actually a potion making zone. The boys have been brewing some weird concoctions that I’m not party to. It’s this or mud pies I suppose.

The next few weeks of the garden are possibly my favourite: The bright blue clouds of forget-me-nots, the planting of veg seeds, the montana clematis! It quite possibly means more blog posts about flowers too, for which I will not apologise!

And, veering off in a completely different direction, I’m desperate to talk about the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, desperate! But I’ll keep my gob shut until next week. I’ve found a few YouTube vlogs about it but I wasn’t organised enough to do that. See you next week. Have a fabulous weekend. X

 

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