Friday, 3 February 2017

A busy February!

Happy New year to you all!

As it is a new year I am was so pleased when I was able to pass on the crochet items that I had made for my friend in 2015 to someone who would love them! They are no longer sitting under my bed reminding me of a difficult time and the fact that I never got to give her them because I was in hospital and I have to say the relief that came with that was fantastic!

So in taking these things to work everyone got to love the wonderfulness of crochet and now I seem to have a lot of orders for crochet items rolling in!-so far though I am not too overwhelmed so that is good!
Ash's Bobble hat! 

My first order was for a bobble hat-the requirements were that it be white/black (now if you have looked at any of my other posts you will probably have seen that I love colour and white and black are not colours in my eyes so...that wasn't going to happen! I double checked though and so long as it matched a black jacket that had a cream furry inside I could use whatever colour...so here is the finished product! I love it!

The pattern for the Easy Crocheted Hat is one I found on ravelry and is so quick, simple and easy to adapt! I think you should all give it a go. I made a couple of minor changes-I chose to slip stitch down the seams as I hate sewing and did a couple of decrease rows around the top as it was quite wide!-but the pattern is so adaptable it allowed for these changes!

The hat is so loved by all my colleagues too that I have another order for one which I am working on now for Gabsta! Hopefully she will love it as much as Ash's! She wasn't as bothered about the colour so long as I use a beautiful self striping wool! What a dream for a colour lover like me!!!

My second request for the year then was for some baby things for Di, her sister is having a baby girl (how excellent! Baby girl things are adorable and can be nice and easy to make!) I will keep you up to date on the progress of this and no doubt a whole post will be dedicated to the adorable baby things that I make for her.


Elijah's teddy
My third one for the year was a request to make a jumper for this well loved adorable teddy of Elijah's. He is getting a bit worn and his mum thought a jumper would mean that teddy would survive that bit longer! Red was the order of the day and I have to say that there could really have been no other colour for a black and white panda! The jumper is teeny tiny n super cute I just hope that it fit!
The teeny tiny panda jumper

Now I have to say this request was one that I thought was pretty adorable and went straight to my heart. I have a favorite teddy (I know I am now 31 years old and this is uncool to admit but my teddy is about as old as me and I have loved her so much. She now sits on my shelf as she has almost been completely replaced with my adorable kittens...namely Oryx who always comes for a cuddle at bedtime!
Pretty standard morning in the Emily household!


So like I said February 2017 so far seems to have been pretty busy on the crochet front. I have to say pricing things up is pretty hard though-I literally never know how much to charge and end up going...erm this much? I think it's partly because I like making things and partly because I know its impossible to charge for the time it takes to make them. Otherwise the hat would have been...£41 approx! No one will pay that right?! How do you guys price up your things?

Until next time...

Thursday, 14 July 2016

The challenge!

Just a short one because it's been fairly hectic recently! Ma was writing some poetry yesterday as she has bern struggling to write! She challenged me and here is the result and I am pretty pleased with it! Do you all write poetry? I find it pretty theraputic sometimes and quite enjoy the process! :-) Do let me know what you think!

Astonishment

Foolish man, desguised as an authority,
Professes to once again enlighten
Us. The poor uninformed mass.
Think for ourselves, we cannot,
Clearly we picked the blue pill.
We are not to blame for our own stupidity.
I applaud your understanding and bow
To you Sir

I am a child, to be seen and not 
Out spoken but to speak out, to
Conform! The mass does scream
The slight I envisige, they cannot;
Your sentiment is known to be satire,
Maybe it was just an accident they consider.
I plan a coo and begin to overthrow the,
Rightful leader?

The authority, disguised as a foolish man,
Indignantly bit his thumb at me,
At us. Addicts to subservience
Wearing rose tinted specticles,
Living in stockholm. Lambs,
Leading the way to their slaughter
In disbelief I am forced to doff my hat,
To Mycroft

Monday, 25 April 2016

Chocolate cake and fudge sauce

Hi all! What have you all been up to? Ma has been helping me do some cleaning and sorting that has been long overdue this week! I am so happy as I now have all of my paperwork organised for the first time in...well in a long time and my livingroom looks and smells so much better now too! :-) In sorting through things I managed to get rid of lots of junk that I no longer wanted (to charity shop for anything decent and the bin for anything not decent!) and this has made me feel clearer! My shelves now have spaces and I feel like mentally I have space to think more now-like I'm not weighed down by loadsa stuff! Do any of you feel like that when you have cleaned and re-organised?

So with all the cleaning I haven't had much time to do any crochet and when I have had time I couldn't really be bothered! Weirdly! Maybe I have just done so much this year that I need a bit of a breather!-I am sure it won't last too long so don't worry! Lol

I decided to make a cake (dairy free obviously!) and fat free. I think this is just because we don't have any margarine in! It always happens-I hate baking until I have no margarine (or sugar ir flour etc) and then I think...challenge...lets bake! Do any of you do this too?
So I turned to google of truth as I always do when I fancy cooking or baking (even though I have loads of lovely recipe books) and I came across a lovely recipe for an (Almost) fat free chocolate cake. I ended up using self raising flour so I could omit the cornstarch and baking soda (because I didn't have any!) I also used brown sugar (as I didnt have much castor sugar!) It turned out pretty fabulous and tastey I have to say! Next time I may have to add cherries or rasberries to add a bit of sourness to the sweetness of the cake! (I could also pretend its healthier then too!)

My (almost) fat free cake I am pleased with how it rose!

I also decided to look for a chocolate sauce as I thought I could mimic the loveliness of Wetherspoons chocolate cake and so I found this Chocolate fudge sauce. It was really simple and easy to make and was pretty yummy. I made double the amount and used soya milk as this was the only milk in and coco powder! It was a lot richer than I thought it was going to be and a bit bitter (not in a bad way but it wasn't quite what I wanted) so as I had a bit of apple sauce left over (100g) I thought I would use this to sweeten it up and make it more like the chocolate sauce on the Wetherspoons chocolate cake! Success! :-)

Here is the cake and sauce together! Just needed a bit of dairy free ice cream to make it perfect
I hope you all give a vegan chocolate fudgy cake a go you can just follow the links for the recipes I used. Please let me know if you do and share your pictures, it will help to inspire my next baking creation! :-)

Also if anyone has any ideas of what to do with my left over chocolate sauce that would be great as other than using it as a chocolate spread on toast I have no ideas!

My very tastey chocolate sauce/spread
Until next time...

Friday, 8 April 2016

Keeping myself busy

Well hello strangers! Although it is only a month since I last posted it feels like a lifetime! March brought quite a lot for me I what did it bring for you guys?

First of all my Crohn's stricture got so bad that I was no longer able to drink my fortijuices never mind being able to eat. This was not good! I ended up being admitted to hospital on mothers day. Poor ma!

Coconut oil lipgloss

Coconut oil hair mask
Oooh! That reminds me I did use some coconut oil for making ma some pressies. I decided to make a hair mask, a conditioner and some lip gloss. The lip gloss was definitely the most successful thing I made and it tasted quite yummy. :) The hair mask though just kinda made my hair greasy (of course I tried them out too! lol) Was nice to have the chance to try making some toiletries as I have wanted to do this for an age and never really got the chance to do it! Have any of you made some of your own toiletries? I got the recipe for the lip gloss from Youtube here!


Well like I said mothers day after my bro went home I was sick and that was my cue to head back to A&E. It was quite a long wait and ma was distressed because I couldn't sit still (it was just so hot in there and I was so uncomfortable.) I really hate being sick and feeling sick! I am sure there is not many people who do like it to be fair!


I look surprisingly cheerful!-I wasn't
Luckily I was booked for a gastrojejunostomy (a bypass) on the 17th anyway (for the stricture that became completely blocked) so I didn't have to have an emergency operation which I really didn't want! I also had a bag packed and ready so that ma could just pick it up for me! This time it was quite a horrid experience and much more invasive than the other times I have been in recently. They had to put a nasal tube in to drain my stomach urgh! It was possibly the most horrid thing I have had done yet. (Being sick as it was going in didn't help to make it pleasurable!) I feel so sorry for anyone who has to have one put in because you cant help but want to pull it out as they are putting it in! I suppose it was good though as it drained three liters of fluid and certainly made me feel more comfortable. Having it in for 11 days was definitely 10 days longer than I wanted it in for though, that's for sure! Funnily enough when it fell out on the 15th I totally freaked out about them having to put it back in and had a good sob! The only time I have freaked out more is when my consultant wanted me to have a second endoscopy! I always manage to get through it though. Usually with a smile too! Have any of you experienced this?



On fluids, IV meds and nutrition!
I also had another ultrasound and a CT scan too. There is a funny story there too. The hospital I was at is a teaching hospital and so the doctors come round in a morning and it feels like there is millions of them. They surround your bed and then one of them (usually one of the junior doctors or the consultant responsible for them) asks you questions and tells the nurse in charge what they are going to be doing. I learnt over time that you don't find anything out unless you ask so that is what I did. The consultant (who was actually very nice as they seem to be) mentioned me going for a CT scan so I said "well I am a bit concerned about that because you have to drink the prep and obviously nothing is going down due to my stricture so how will that work?". Cheeky aren't I? One of the junior looked at me as if to say 'it will be fine' but the consultant did discuss it with my surgeon first so it was a good thing to mention! I did mention things like this a lot when they came round doing things and giving me drugs etc. I had to take tablets as well with my nasal tube in (bit painful, like swallowing a chip the wrong way or a crisp in fact felt more jabby!) and I did ask the nurse if that would work as obviously everything was coming back up the tube. She said it should be fine-but I saw it come back up within the hour so they put me on IV meds after that!



Image result for hickman line
They also decided that as the blockage was stopping me eating they needed to give me some nutrition so that I was fully prepared for my surgery. They recommended a Hickman line to make it easier. Wow! It was mighty painful when they fitted it and I felt so awful I cried. I don't usually cry in front of people but that was just a bit traumatic! At the time I was also a bit unsure what exactly they were doing which weird-ed me out but I am super pleased that I was feeling so pants that I wasn't my usual 'lets google of truth that'. I don't think I would have said yes so readily if I had looked it up! I also think I would have freaked out too! I only looked it up after I got it taken out on my discharge day. I was pretty amazed at how long the bit that had been in my body was so I was compelled to find out where it went as it turns out it went right into my heart. Impressive but totally creepy. What do you guys think?



My squares laid out to  ensure my colours coordinated!
Anyway they moved me to the hospital I was supposed to be going to for my surgery and it was a lot quieter (not least because I got my own room!)  and they started me on the nutrition. I started to feel a little better so I got ma to bring me my crochet. I had started with 30 granny squares (they only had 3 rounds on them from an old project) and I wanted to design a new cardigan. So I planned the sizes and laid out my squares...



Look at all the squares ready for some colour!
I did even do some doodles and measurements etc to make sure that it would work for me. Planning is not something I really do so I was quite impressed lol I then just had to add my beautiful orange around the granny squares! This was something that was easy to do as I can do it in my sleep I think and also I could just do one and then have a nap if I needed to! As I had a pretty poor signal in hospital and obviously the days are excessively long my crochet certainly kept me sane!

I wanted to join my squares in a new way for me so I spent a few hours when my signal was okay looking for something that would be pretty and go with the vague idea of what I wanted my cardigan to look like. I found this very good blog post which had some really nice ideas for joining granny squares so I tried the Flat braid. This is a really easy to follow tutorial and is such a pretty join. It looked lovely.
This was where I got to when I left hospital, I was joining


When I got home though I re-thought this join as for my cardigan I didn't think it would be durable enough and for some reason it just wasn't quite right. So I decided to just do my joins as slip stitches using the back loops only as it just makes a more dense join.

Slip stitch join using back loops only


Granny stripe sleeve when it was flat
I think they all missed me as much as I had them
Obviously when I got home I was feeling much better not least because I could eat again (even though I can only manage small portions and I am being very careful!), I got to have hugs and cuddles with my moogles who I missed so much, and got to sleep in my own bed and not be woken up at random times to check blood pressure etc. I had really missed my home. It seemed like a long time to be in! I came home on the 23rd and that was 17 days! Eeek! Anyway I got cracking on with my crochet as I wasn't allowed to lift anything and ma was looking after me! I decided that my sleeves should be granny stripes rather than granny squares! Just thought it would make it a bit different to the ones on Ravelry.


My sleeve joined and working on a cuff








Trying out hood shapes
It was at this point that I decided my cardigan needed a hood and that in actual fact it is going to be a hoodie! I started to completely formulate the image of what I wanted it to look like in my head. I feel it is very important at this stage to share a fantastic photo that had me and ma in stitches as we pondered the best shape and way to add my hood! I don't know if this will make you laugh as much as we did but I hope it does as it was very funny. I think mainly because ma wasn't expecting it and so when I stuck some paper on my head and said "what do you think" it took ma by surprise and really cracked us both up!


Finished back-Look at all those squares!

Weird face but just look at my sleeves! 
So here is the finished version! Completed exactly two weeks after I came out of hospital! It is very cosy and comfy and was surprisingly easy to make. I am going to be writing up the pattern and ma will proof read and test for me. 

You will have to let me know what you think peeps :) 

Until next time!

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Flowers


Daffodil bulbs sprouting throughout my ivy
Well today the sun is shining, my tree has leaves appearing on it again and the daffodil bulbs are sprouting. In no time at all spring will surprise us and will be here. It will spring up on us! It seemed pretty appropriate then with spring coming and valentines day this month that I have been spending my time thinking of flowers and making them.

Ma's flowery hat
When I first started doing crochet I must admit that the flowers were one of the things that I didn't like. One of the things that made crochet a bit old fashioned and uncool. However I think that I have either had a change of heart or that I now just love all crochet including the hideous flowers. It started with the cardi I made and then ma asked me to make her a hat. Not just any hat but one with a large flower on it. Well that sounds like a challenge for someone who doesn't like crochet flowers however I surprised myself by really enjoyed making it. It was really easy and it ended up looking pretty fantastic I think, it also matches ma's mittens and scarf that she had made for herself. If you want the pattern for the easy peasy womans winter hat by or the rose crochet flower embellishment you can visit Ravelry and download the free patterns through the links.

















Monday, 15 February 2016

My comfort cardi

This is the first project of 2016 that I have tackled and it is a stash buster. I had lots of pinks left over from making baby things for friends and mum had quite a lot of red so I thought 'why not'. I made my first adult cardigan at the end of last year and I was very surprised at how easy it was to make which just inspired me to design my own.

I started with working out what sizes I wanted my cardigan to be which basically meant that I measured myself and added a couple of inches for the width.

I then had to decide on what stitch I was going to use. To be honest I didn't think about this for very long as I was of the mindset that the stitch should be really simple because I was planning on doing decreases on the sleeves and thought either dc, tr or htr would be the best idea rather than doing anything too fancy. Also with all the colours I was planning on using I didn't think I should do anything to over the top or it could end up being marvelously hideous. I finalized on half trebles as they are pretty stitches and would make the cardigan thick and warm but still give it a nice drape. As I used all double crochet wool I used a 3.5m hook this gives me a good tension as I am quite a loose crocheter. As I went along I just made a note of how many stitches I used rather than doing this in advance. I don't know if this is the normal way to design something in crochet but it worked for me.



Back showing colour repeat.

Then I just got started and began crocheting. I decided to try to stick to a colour repeat as I thought that this would make my cardigan less random looking and more cohesive. this seemed to work and I have to say this is probably the thing that took me the longest to work out as I really wanted the bright read around where you would have cuffs (even though I didn't add these).

I worked:
7 Rows in bright red
3 Rows in lilac
5 Rows in pale pink
7 Rows in dark red
3 Rows in multi pinks
5 Rows in salmon pink

Once I had finished creating all of the pieces for my cardigan I then just needed to join it. I opted for a slip stitch as this just made it look nice and neat from the front. I had already decided finish off using crab stitch (reverse double crochet) all around the front as I really liked this on the other cardigan I did, as it was a simple way to finish it off and also looked really pretty. I used the bright red again as it just again helped it all come together.


pocket attached to the cardigan
Once that was done I tried it on and it fit! Whoop I was super impressed I have to say as I didn't think it would really (even though I had measured). I then decided it needed some pockets as what is a comfort cardigan without pockets? I went wild and used a large square from 200 crochet blocks for blankets, throws and afghans by Jan Eaton (Pg 51)  just using all of the colours I had used in my cardigan and I did a crab stitch around the outside edge.

I joined using a surface crochet stitch which just catches the wool from the inside as I wasn't sure how else to do it but I thought it worked really well and looked surprisingly neat from the inside. I like it when I can make things neat!

So here is my finished cardigan:




I am unsure whether I think it is beautiful or hideous or just an amalgamation of the two. What do you think? I am very impressed with the neckline as I think I did the decreases well. I have also only taken it off to wash it, so for me it is the perfect comfort cardi. I will write up the pattern when I have some time for those of you that want it.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Art for healing, food and crochet




Since being diagnosed with Crohn's disease I have found I have a lot more time on my hands (Mainly because I lost my job in October!) and I always feel it is important to keep myself busy. I absolutely hate being bored, it is almost a bit of a phobia. Normally under these circumstances I would read as I can normally wile away many an hour by reading however, I have been really struggling to concentrate on any book, including my go to classic trashy novels that I have read and re-read numerous times.  

So "how are you filling your time" I hear you ask? Well I have been spending my time profitably (which for some reason seems very important), by firstly joining the Creative everyday challenge. This is where I came up with the idea for the name of my blog post this time 'Art for healing' was January's theme and it got me thinking. Do I create art to help me heal?  I suppose it could depend on your idea of art. What do you think? Do you use art to heal you or others?
Image result for the encyclopedia of healing plants chrissie wildwood
Chrissie Wildwood

One thing I have done for years if I am ill is to look up healing herbs and spices as I am a believer of the idea that whatever ailment you have there is a cure and like with nettles the cause of the ailment and the cure are usually close together. Over the years I have turned to the book: The encyclopedia of healing plants by Chrissie Wildwood and I have found it fascinating how often it has helped me. Easy things like if you have a cold use ginger and turmeric in your cooking (I would usually do a curry or chilli for tea). It is the foundation for modern medicine really though so I guess it shouldn't be that surprising when it works. Do any of you do this too, do you have any of your own 'natural' remedies for when your ill? 


Which brings me to cooking and food.  For years I have struggled with Crohn's symptoms but not knowing what they were made it quite difficult and I just assumed I had a mild intolerance (and sometimes not so mild!) to some things. So over time I have restricted my diet to things that don't cause me problems (which is good as that is what they suggest that you do when you have Crohn's disease) and this has resulted in me having a bit of a love of cooking and I think cooking is a form of art too as it is the act of creating something beautiful. What do you think? Anyway, I thoroughly enjoy food and spend many an hour looking up new recipes to try (vegan of course), and amending them, so at the moment when I can't eat because of my stricture I am finding it a little difficult. However don't think that this has stopped me! Oh no! After all this is part of my ingrained response to illness "what can I eat to make me feel better?". Below are two simple and easy recipes for vegan soups that were suitable for me and did not cause me any problems on my new liquid only diet! Remember if you are a Crohn-ie that everyone is different and these may not work for you.


Carrot and Lentil soup (serves 2)

The lentils make the soup a little frothy
1/3 cup red lentils2 cups bullion stock made up
1 medium onion
2/3 cup carrot juice (I used Kabus juice drink which is very tasty)
1/2 tsb cumin
1/2 tsb turmeric
1/2 tsb ginger
1 tsb olive oil for frying


  1. Saute the onion in the oil then add all the other ingredients
  2. Simmer gently for 20-40 minutes until lentils are tender (the longer the better if making for a liquid only diet)
  3. Add to blender or using a stick blender ensure that there are no lumps, adding water if necessary (I use it straight from the kettle as keeps the soup warm)
  4. Serve with crusty bread (for me on liquid diet I had to strain and served it on its own)
I have made this when not on a liquid diet and I have to say it is very yummy and was just as nice even though it wasn't the right texture.

Vegetable stew soup (serves 2)

I made this as I really fancied my homemade vegan stew and obviously chunks of vegetables are definitely not liquid. As I don't know whether I am allowed to have potatoes I didn't add any to be on the safe side but I would normally. I used frozen veg which made it very quick and easy to do.

Stew-soup

2 cups bullion stock made up
1 cup tomato juice (could use chopped tomatoes)1 medium white onion1/3 cup of each; cabbage, peas, broccoli3 Brussel sprouts1/2 tsb Thyme1/2 tsb Sage1/2 tsb marmite
  1. Saute the onion in the oil then add all the other ingredients
  2. Simmer gently for 10-15 minutes until vegetables are cooked
  3. If making just as a vegetable soup you could serve here as a chunky soup otherwise add to blender or using a stick blender ensure that there are no lumps, adding water if necessary (I use it straight from the kettle as keeps the soup warm)
  4. Strain and serve

This leads me nicely on to the other thing that has been occupying much of my time recently and you probably already guessed that that is my crochet? The whole thing of crochet is a bit like cooking I guess. You need the right ingredients, there is special books on it, there is also specific sites just for other people like you. Excellent! Ravelry is the place to be and if you have never looked at it and are interested in crochet, knitting or sewing then this is the place you should head to! I love it, so many patterns and in the words of Willy Wonka "So much time so little to do, scratch that reverse it"


Multi-coloured, non-matching but still go

Blues and pinks
Easter gloves-they remind me of spring

I am a crocheter that likes to find a decent pattern and make it over and over again until I know it off by heart and can make it in my sleep, Why I hear you ask? I don't know but that is what seems to work for me. So when I found this fantastic Fingerless or not glove pattern on RavelryI was just super made up. It has everything I want in a glove pattern, it is simple and easy to follow and more importantly allows me to make each pair of gloves unique. I have made three pairs this year to use up my scrap yarn and I am sure that I will not be stopping there! I made them fingerless as it is starting to get a little warmer now! You will have to tell me which is your favorite of the three as I can't quite decide which colour way is best!