Friday, 31 May 2013

My Dottie Angel inspired crochet blanket is finally done, hooray!!

Its been the perfect day to put my Dottie Angel inspired blanket, a.k.a our new Picnic Blanket to very good use.

It has been several months WIP and it feels so good to finally have finished it. I finished the main blanket a couple of weeks ago and then really enjoyed doing this 'block edging' border, which I got from the Handbook of Crochet Stitches. This is a great book that illustrates over 200 stitches and comes in really handy. Despite my little dilemma of running out of yarn for the border, I am really pleased with the final result and love the grey, but then I have to confess I am quite partial to a bit of grey everywhere (around the house that is, for now anyway!) I felt the expression every cloud has a silver (grey) lining in this case to be quite apt.


In retrospect there are definitely quite a few design flaws here but that's a product of winging it rather than planning it, something I am getting rather good at as life matures. The good news is that it kinda works for a picnic rug as it will only be catering for bums, messy hands and toes, but there is a lesson and note to self to be slightly more strategic about the next blanket project, rather than applying the grab-and-go philosophy.
Once I did the border, which actually took little time, it was time for some doilies. This was the absolute selling point of Dottie Angel's ordinarily extraordinary blanket for me, and although I have changed the colours and the size of the blanket, I simply had to copy the idea of the lovely doilies. I ended up doing 35 squares (5 rows of 7) and I used left over scraps of Aran yarn and the odd bit of DK here and there. My aim was to use up some of my left over yarn rather than buying anything new, and as it was only for a picnic rug, I didn't care too much that some of the squares weren't perfect. I quite liked the idea of using up yarn and I have to say it felt rather satisfying in the end. I am such a yarn hoarder that sometimes it calls for a little 'spring clean' and this Picnic Blanket was just the ticket.


Now that all the doilies are on, I might have to remove the middle one and dye it blue to give it a little more impact as the middle doilie is currently just being swallowed up against the cream backdrop. Definitely a job for a later date, in the meantime it was put to very good use today on our trip to Tittesworth Reservoir. My doh (darling other half) took the day off and with a promise for sunshine, we felt a trip to this beautiful part of Staffordshire couldn't be missed, so we packed a picnic, our new Picnic Blanket and off we went.

Tittesworth is the perfect day out for a family as there is a wonderful park with everything a child could want, including a great big sandpit. Our kids just loved it, they had such a fab day and I could happily join them for once thanks to super easy access.


Normally my doh does the park trips and outing with the kids, so it was soo lovely to join in some of their fun

I also made the very most of soaking up the sun and not only did I improve my vitamin D and happy hormone count, my crochet hormones were ELATED. Yes, I had time to do some much needed hooky and it was fun to be bursting with sun doing these little Sunburst Granny Squares. I am really enjoying working these at the moment and will shortly share the result with you.

Hope you have all enjoyed a lovely Friday and wishing you all a very lovely and creative weekend.
Hannapat xoxo

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

May Treacle Market and some lovely little finds

It is fair to say that the weather has been DELICIOUS over the weekend and we certainly made the very most of it. On Sunday we did our usual visit to the Treacle Market and it was pure vintage bliss!


I love this little market and all the lovely stall holders, they are all such lovely people with amazing talent and an eye for vintage beauty. It always amazes me what you can find at this lovely market and on Sunday I was far from disappointed. I just needed quite an extra few pennies in my wallet and I would have been a very happy camper!

So here are my little finds and I love each one of them, but my fave has to be the lovely flour tin, I just love the colour and character.

This picture is so sweet and the ladies whom I bought this from are so lovely. One of them is learning how to crochet as we speak. She is left handed and I believe this can prove quite the challenge for crocheting. If any of you have any tips on books, etc pass it on so I can share this with her. I also bought another Bronnley wooden soap tray to go under Es's bed as the one we have works a charm for toy storage. I lucked in with getting a lovely blue Pyrex bowl and also a lovely old enamel bowl. The lovely little table is now standing full of plants in my living room and I love.
What I love about the market is that it caters for everyone. This month I even managed to join the kids for the monthly burger treat as they were making gluten and dairy free burgers, yip the whole kit and kaboodle was free from and it was delish! To top it there is the lovely plant man with his garden stall, which I am completely incapable of bypassing without a purchase. During the winter it is largely for houseplants, but at this time of the year, oh my there is an abundance of wonderful plants and they are so reasonably priced compared to garden centres, so it is so easy to spend a fortune. My little garden is my love and passion and although I don't have bags of energy to do what I use to do, I still make time to do a little pottering. It is good for the soul and good for the health (grounding), especially if you're bare feet, which I make a point of doing having read the book Earthing, which offers a very insightful read into the benefits of being bare foot amongst other things.

There are certain plants that enrich my soul, possibly a blog post for another day, but Geraniums and Sweet Peas are definitely amongst my faves. I love everything about these plants, character, colour, ease of growth, the cottage vintage qualities and so many more. What I discovered is just how very easy it is to make your own new plants using cuttings from your existing Geranium plants. Unfortunately all of my Geraniums died having spent the winter outside instead of in my little potting shed, which we knocked down at the end of last year due to replace it with a conservatory, which I have to confess I absolutely love, even though I do miss my little potting shed. I think it is unusual for Geraniums to survive the winters up north outside, they much prefer being brought in during these cold months, that's my experience anyway, whats yours? The plus side is that my little purchase from the market has enabled me to start the lovely process again, so we will see how it goes. I simply use an organic routing compound gel, but you can also use honey if you want to be a little more organic, and dip the cuttings into that before planting it into a good potting soil. This link shows you how to take a cutting. This link also shows you how to take cuttings and also how to propagate with honey, which I have used in the past successfully.

Apart from all this there was definitely a bit of crocheting going on whilst soaking up the sun and trying to finish the kids little playhouse, which I will share with you very soon, well when the rain goes away and I can take a photo. In the meantime, I am enjoying working with the Drops Paris cotton and I am so excited about this little creation. I am yet to figure out how I am going to do it, but that is all part of the excitement right?! So what have you all been up to? What creations are you working on?

It has been so wonderful to see the affects of the sunshine on everyone around us over the weekend and we often forget just how powerful the presence of the sun is to our daily lives. Well, it has been raining again for the last two days (yuck), but even so I want to leave you with this lovely thought...

“What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life's pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.” Joseph Addison
Let's all smile! Wishing you all a very happy and creative week.
Hannapat xo

Saturday, 25 May 2013

M.E. Awareness Week 2013

This week’s objective is to raise awareness of M.E. – a chronic, fluctuating illness, which affects 250,000 people in the UK. Symptoms can include persistent exhaustion, muscle and/or joint pain, sleep disturbance, feeling ’flu-like and having problems with memory and concentration. For information on how you can help raise awareness, please click here.

So with it being M.E. awareness week I simply feel I want to add a little piece of awareness through my blog. I appreciate that this is not everyones cup of tea, but until I started experiencing just what this debilitating condition can do to your life, family, and mind, I had no idea what M.E really was, so hopefully by increasing awareness we can all make a difference in how people perceive this condition, as its historical label of 'yuppie flue' has been cemented in for far too long!!

Three and a half years my life was very suddenly brought to a halt when we body collapsed on me. I remember it like yesterday, I was sat in a meeting and I just knew I had to get out of there as something really bad was about to happen. I got in my car and all of a sudden I was stuck on the M60 completely unable to function. My brain and body just stopped working, all I could do was pull over and call my husband in a shear moment of shock/panic. From this day onwards, everything I once was stopped being.

There was no more getting on my mountain bike to blast some single tracks, or heading off to do either a Merida, Trailquest or Polaris mountain bike challenge. There was no more packing my climbing rucksack  to visit some beautiful crags around the peak district. My daily walks with the kids was suddenly stopped and has still not resumed. More importantly, my brain stopped functioning, I couldn't string a sentence together at times, I had permanent brain fog, which became so overwhelming at times I thought I was loosing my mind. I have many a memory of being unable to read to my then two year old as the sentences were just too complicated for my brain to process. I was forced to bed with dizziness, blurred vision, inability to regulate my body temperature, and the most intense muscle pain all around my body, and many many more symptoms.This was unlike anything I had ever experienced, even after a days of racing for 6 hours on a mountain bike in the Brecon mountains with 10kg on my back. This was a very unfamiliar experience for me. As it continued the doctors kept telling me that I had a sever case of anxiety and depression, yet only days earlier I was in one of the best phases of my life and thriving with two beautiful kids I loved being Mummy to and a degree only 4 months away from finishing.

I remember going for a walks as I was determined to beat this so called 'depression and anxiety' and then feeling so ill for weeks after that I could hardly get out of bed to look after my kids. The doctors response to this was that I was anxious about walking, complete nonsense, but this is what people with M.E. and Fybromyalgia face everyday, its a disgrace!!! Despite me creating a food and activity diary/log for the doctors which clearly signalled that I had a severe case of burn-out and any small level of exertion created increased symptoms, the doctors still kept putting me on beta blockers (for heart palpitations that was actually a result if adrenal exhaustion and not anxiety) and anti-depressants to combat this 'so called mental problem'. Although I was referred for a MRI scan to see whether it was MS, as the symptoms of M.E can be very similar to MS at times, It took them ten months, standard procedure, before they felt they could send me off for a formal diagnoses, which in the end meant a label of Fybromyalgia/M.E.

This youtube link is worth watching.

So today, three and a half years down the line I am so grateful that my health has improved significantly. Although I am a very far way from being 100% better, I feel that my physical capacity has increased from around 15% to around 55%, which is such a massive improvement and I am so grateful for this. For the first two and a half year I was completely unable to use computers, read or do anything for that matter. I was housebound and unable to drive or do anything. I was unable to sew or do anything that required concentration as my brain simply couldn't function normally and any additional pressure created worsened symptoms. This is how my journey with crochet started, I needed something I could do but only for a couple of minute a day (every cloud has a silver lining!).

In the beginning of this year my health really felt like it was seriously improving, but as we speak I am still learning that these moments do fluctuate regularly, but at least they are there to give me hope that I will return to good health one day, something I have to and do believe. Throughout my journey with M.E I really wanted to start a blog about my journey and in February I finally felt that I could cope with stringing some sentences together and using the computer again and here we are today, maybe not so much M.E related as the initial plan was but then I much prefer the brighter things in life. I spend enough time living with this condition and I really don't feel like blogging about it every day.

I hope that by doing this post today that it has given you some insight into this debilitating condition (please watch the video) and that it will help you understand it better and therefore enable you to support those around you who suffer from this condition. I also want to thank all the bloggers out there for putting a little piece of themselves out there daily to share with others as it has offered some inspiration in my most darkest moments, its enabled me to continue to dream that one day I will be able to go through a day without having to go to bed for several hours and when I can finally ditch my wheels and start walking distances. I believe that day will come soon!

Thanks also to all my friends and family for all your support over the years, without you I wouldn't have coped. The biggest thanks go out to my best friend and husband whom has been my rock. I can only but thank God every day for letting our paths cross, because even in my darkest moments I felt so happy to be here with him. He has been my constant, my strength my rock!!! Without him I honestly don't know what I would have done during the last couple of years. He has stepped up to the task of Mum and gotten up in the middle of the night to feed and look after kids, he has shopped, cooked, cleaned,  you name it he has done it because I could hardly move and I just want him to know that I am so  very grateful for him being so very very strong and for being such a wonderful friend, husband and partner. I love him with all my heart and am so excited that we have so many more years to share in this life!!

Here are some useful links that might support you and anyone you know with M.E (thanks to Ray, my health has improved) (Niki is one the leading nutritionist to support people with M.E) (Roy does the most amazing earthing sheets, which will improve your sleep and also do mats for use of computers) (amazing supplements that has really helped me!)

For more information on which books to read please see my 'Mindfulness and M.E' post.

Here are some other youtube links that might be worth watching.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post, I really appreciate your time!! Sending you warm wishes on a Sunday afternoon xoxo

Last Bank Holiday May weekend 2013

Hooray, we finally have some sun!!

It is the last bank holiday weekend in May and also the start of the school holiday here, which for us started yesterday. I love the fact that for a week there will be no morning frenzies and chaos, but just calm and pj's for as long as we like (yes that's me included). The kids were eager beavers to do some baking yesterday, so we chose a Rachel Allen's Chocolate and Vanilla Marble cake, but with some slight alterations.

All the usual plain flour was substituted by Doves Self raising flour (only because I think it works better than the Doves plain flour) and then some Pure sunflower spread and Almond milk. We also added some blueberries just for fun. So basically you divide the mixture into two batches, one vanilla & blueberry (as in our case) and the other chocolate

and then you swirl it all together with a skewer or something similar

then your trusty little helpers do a little more helping


and voila you have a rather delicious cake for all to enjoy and some very messy children offcourse!

The eagerness to help didn't stop here as Es had a bee in her bonnet about being a little bee. A friend of mine has just had a baby and I have been making some little bibs for her lovely baby girl, which has inspired Es to want to make one too. So yesterday we set out to teach Es the basics of sewing, which I have to say involved a great deal of praying as Es wanted to control every little step of the process, the scissors (oh my she did well with these humongous scissors), the pins and offcourse controlling all of the sewing machine including the foot pedal!!! I have stopped counting the many uses for these little bathroom steps, and again they came in super handy to balance the machine foot on. Although we didn't quite finish it, here are some of the steps along the way


She thoroughly enjoyed the process and I love her enthusiasm, long may it last!

These are the little gifts I have made for my friends baby girl

With the bibs I just played around and used a bib we had to get the template as for the booties I followed a pattern from Niki Trench's 'Cute and Easty Crochet'.

So what's in stall for this weekend, hopefully doing a little more work on my blanket and also starting a new little project with some cotton. I have only used Rico cotton in the past, but for this project I will be trying Drops Paris Cotton for a change. I have to confess that it doesn't feel half as nice as Rico. Isn't it funny how we find the little things we like in life and shifting over to something else can feel a little weird sometimes. I am really looking forward to the next project as it feels like I have spent far too long on this blanket.

There will be lots of time spent outside in the garden as the weather is supposed to be sunny for most of the weekend and I think it is fair to say that we all need a very good dose of vitamin D, well almost as badly as our garden needs a little TLC!! Tomorrow is Treacle Market and I can't wait, I just love this little market and I can't wait to go and soak up the ambiance! On this note I am off to the sun and wishing you all a very lovely weekend.

Warm wishes
Hannapat xo