Category Archives: Life in General

Writing and Testing a Crochet Pattern

One of the aspects of writing a crochet pattern is the constant niggle in the background of accuracy.

I don’t know about you, but I rely heavily on my spell checker when I’m using a keyboard, my spelling is much worse when I’m typing (and it can be a bit erratic when I’m using a pen, I must confess!)  However, that’s no help at all for typing crochet abbreviations so it’s quite a slow process.  And that’s after dreaming up the idea to begin with and then making it a second time so the pattern can be recorded.

By the time you get to the point where you make the item again from what you have written down it’s hard to judge whether you have explained yourself properly. By then you know the pattern inside out!

My latest make is a granny square cushion cover using the Planet Penny Cotton Colours with Snowdrop yarn which I backed with one of the PP fat quarters - jolly red and white spottiness.

Granny Square cushion - Planet Penny Cotton Colours

Granny square cushion - crochet pattern

cushion back for crochet pattern

I’m very happy with it, but now there is the question of the crochet pattern, and the making up instructions, and making sure it all makes sense.

What I need are some testers, and I’m trying to work out the best way to make it work.


…if you are a Planet Penny customer with a Rainbow pack of yarn who would like to make a cushion, I’ll provide the pattern, the fat quarter and a ball of Snowdrop yarn in return for trying out the pattern, giving constructive criticism, and sending photos of the finished article.  How does that sound?

If you could help test the Granny Square Cushion crochet pattern I’d love to hear from you. You would need to have some crochet experience, be used to working from a pattern, have basic sewing machine skills, and be able to produce a clear photo of the finished article.

You can leave a comment, or get in touch via the contacts form with some details which will help me choose.  I need 2 or 3 people to get a good cross section.

I’m really looking forward to hearing from you and hearing about your crochet pattern skills!


Art Therapy Colouring Books – Review and Giveaway

When I was approached the other day to review a couple of Art Therapy books I wondered if someone had been peeking in my office, because I have this picture pinned on the wall beside the monitor…

If anyone needs me I will be in my blanket fort - colouring in…and I have had a wonderful excuse to do just that with the two books which arrived a week or so back from Jacqui Small Publishing, Art Therapy Stained Glass and Art Therapy Mandalas.

Stained glass colouring book, art therapy

Art Therapy Mandala Colouring BookThere is something very relaxing about letting someone else worry about the lines and the shapes: when all you’ve got to do is think about what colour crayon to pick up next, or washing your paint brush ready to mix another shade.  And now it’s official, we’re not wasting time, we are relaxing, it’s therapy!Art Therapy Press ReleaseI’ve been scribbling away happily over the past few days and after all the worries about my mum it’s been lovely to switch off that part of my brain.  This was my favourite from the Stained Glass book…

Art Therapy Stained Glass Colouring bookI’d rather like this next design as wallpaper, wouldn’t you?…

Art Therapy book MandalasWith this one I went to town with the paints.  I may get round to finishing them but I actually rather like the colours set against the black and white.Mandala Flowers Art TherapyHaving shared my adventures on Facebook and Instagram I was not surprised to have lots of positive comments about the whole idea of colouring in.  Such positive comments in fact from both my daughter and daughter-in-law that I shall restrain myself from further scribbling so I can pass the books over to them.  As my daughter is soon to embark on Teacher Training and my D-in-L is a new mum I think they need all the relaxation they can get!

And I’m pleased to say if you feel in a need of a little Art Therapy and relaxation there is a Giveaway!  I have two more copies of these lovely books lined up to give away to the even lovelier Planet Penny readers!

All you have to do is to leave a comment telling us about your favourite place to relax and get away from it all, and which of the two books you would like to take with you.

The winners will be picked on Friday 8th August, I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

(Thank you to all who took part.  The Giveaway now closed, winners to be announced very soon)

Blog Hop – Pending…

2014-07-05 16.42.46

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Claire of Mrs Brown Makes who asked me if I’d like to join in with a Blog Hop.  This sounded like a lovely idea with plenty of time to get to grips with it.

But you know what it’s like, life got in the way.  You may know I’m my mum’s carer, and I got the dreaded summons one morning, could I come, she couldn’t get out of bed.  She’s very frail anyway after a catalogue of illnesses, and this latest thing, a combination of Labyrinthitis and a urinary infection meant I had to decamp to her house to be in full time charge.

Although medication has improved things for her a lot, she’s lost confidence with walking and so needs help on hand a lot of the time, and that’s been me.  And although a lot of the time she has been contentedly reading a book and I’ve had time on my hands, my mum has no Broadband so I’m most terribly behind with everything.

So if you’ve arrived expecting a more interesting post than this, I’m so sorry.  I will post as soon as I can, I hope it will be worth the wait!

From the Heart

hearts - Planet Penny Cotton

Here I am, at last.  This is the longest gap in posting for years, and it’s been playing on my mind.

When I started writing this blog it was just for me, and I had no real expectations that anyone else would even notice I was I was here, let alone actually read it.  And then come back and read some more.

What writing regularly did for me was to make me do stuff, and this fed my creativity and became a creative spiral.  The fact that you out there dropped in to encourage me was a lovely bonus, thank you!

But it’s all so much easier when you can trundle along in blissful ignorance just doing your thing. The rot set in when I started thinking there’s more to all this world wide web stuff than I first realise, maybe I’d better find out about it.  And then I started a business and suddenly there was all this big stuff which people were telling me I have to use, like SEO,…keywords …categories… And the little thing which was fun and interesting and created interaction with nice people suddenly became fraught with rules and regulations.

I worry about getting things right.  And so rather than get things wrong I’ve ended up sacrificing the spontaneity with which I first started the blog, feeling overwhelmed by what I should be doing, rather than what I want to do.  And I’m guilty of letting that happen in life at the moment too.

This is a busy time of year, next weekend Open Studios starts and there’s lots to do.  It would be so easy to put off writing until it’s all over.  But it’s like when you owe a letter to a friend, and for various reasons you don’t get round to replying and then time goes on and it gets harder and harder to justify why you’re such a bad friend that you can’t even put pen to paper to say hi.  And you end up sending Christmas cards every year saying, ‘Will be in touch in the New Year’.  And you don’t.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you will know I am a great believer in serendipity, the happy accident.  It’s stood me in good stead over the years.  By happy accident this morning I came across an amazing post this morning which really made me think about what I am doing. This is a quote …

10350535_10152148071065745_5232667406941192688_n…but if you want to be inspired as I was, click on the quote and read the whole post.  It really makes you think.

So let spontaneity rule all round!  I might just arrive here with a photo, or a short post, or I might write lots and fling in a tutorial, who knows!  But I won’t let WordPress or All in One SEO bully me by pointing out I’ve only written 250 words and the recommended length is at least 400 words or whatever.  It’s my blog and I’m not writing a dissertation!

This isn’t my usual kind of post, so thanks for bearing with me and I hope you’ll stick around, I wouldn’t be here without you …x

Hooray for the Little Red Hen!

Little Red Hen Ladybird Book

click for the story

This is the version of the Little Red Hen story I remember from way back in primary school, how we loved our Ladybird books!

We got to talking about it the other day because my friend Kit was reminiscing about her mum, sadly long gone, who used to quote the Little Red Hen when she had failed to get anyone else to do the necessary thing, whatever it was.

‘ “Then I’ll do it myself,” said the Little Red Hen. And so she did.’

I have been chuntering for ages about the overgrown state of my vegetable patch.  It always needs the most attention when I’m tied up with the run up to Open Studios and it’s got more and more overgrown, weedy and wild every season.  However, over the past two weeks I have channelled my inner Little Red Hen and I DID IT MYSELF!

It looks great….I’m exhausted!  I’ve filled a skip bag with rubbish, the beds are topped up with fresh compost and my little mini cold frame cum green house is crammed full of seed trays and seedlings.

Higgins has tried very hard to help.

Miniature Dachshund

Taking the little fences away from the raised beds has meant he could do lots in the way of turning over the soil, and then firming it down afterwards.dachshund in raised bed

He’s carried the trowel about helpfully (and put it away tidily where it couldn’t be lost)veg patch

More little fences have turned into a priority if any of the seedlings are going to make it to maturity once they have been planted out.  Higgins has history, remember the Mixed Greens?

Did you spot the laburnum tree?  This year it’s being completely wonderful – it alternates – and it’s very special as it was a seedling from the one in my parents’ garden.laburnum

And the bees LOVE it! For the last week or so, ever since the very first buds opened the air around the tree has been throbbing with the sound of very happy little bees…listen to this…

So this is why it’s been a little quiet here over the past week, and now there’s a lot of catching up to do.

While all this was going on the Green Man went off to the Forum in Norwich for the Open Studios Taster Exhibition – you can just see him dangling next to the patchwork…

Forum, Norwich NNOS taster exhibition

Taster Exhibition – setting up

Now it’s all systems go for the main event, which starts on May 24th.

You might like to see a glimpse of the other exhibition which was running at the same time, the most amazing knitted and crochet pergola which was made to raise funds for a local charity…

knitted pergola - John Grooms Court

knitted pergola detail

Just amazing, isn’t it?  There’s an interesting post on The Mercerie blog which will tell you more about it.

My next challenge is turning the studio into an exhibition space…eek!  I’ve just got so much STUFF.

And I haven’t forgotten about those extra little Boxes of Delight.…  2014-04-28 21.37.50

The challenge now is seeing just what I can squeeze inside, so watch this space, I’ll be back soon…x

Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew….

Cuthbert, Dibble, Grub…the Trumpton Firemen.  I’ve got very fond memories of watching Trumpton year after year as my children were growing up and this was my favourite moment.  There was never a fire in Trumpton, just cats up trees and things floating down the river.

Anyway, Pugh, Pugh et al came round to my house last night, and this time there was a fire!

Just after 9 last night I became aware of a roaring noise, which wasn’t the wind, and couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the wooden beam over the fireplace was ablaze.

And how silly was the thought, ‘Oh, I can’t call 999, that’s for emergencies’ ?!  Well if having your house on fire isn’t an emergency…

Anyway I did call, and by the time I’d finished talking they assured me a team was on the way and to get out of the room.  Higgins and I stood out in the back garden listening for the approaching siren and soon the lane was filled with a big appliance and blue flashing lights.

Six burly firefighters strode in and quickly and efficiently emptied the stove, hauled out the burning debris from above and squirted water up the chimney.  And hung around to make sure that everything was cooling off and not going to start up again.

2014-03-19 21.32.28It was really not how I envisaged spending the evening!

(And for all my female friends who got terribly excited about the whole hunky firefighter thing, in a situation like this hunkiness pales into insignificance alongside handiness with a stirrup pump and a bucket of water….Thank goodness they didn’t bring the hose in!)

Higgins thought that having an influx of nice people who like dogs was a great idea however…

2014-03-19 21.51.15By eleven o’clock they had left, satisfied all was safe, leaving a wet sooty mess which I decided I would tackle in the morning.

2014-03-19 22.44.03You can see the knothole in the beam where the fire started to come through from the back, and it’s only today, after not a lot of sleep and so feeling very tired, that I started on the ‘what ifs’.  I know that’s not a good idea but so hard not to think that it could have happened after I’d gone to bed.  And in the normal way of things I would have been at a meeting last night, at just the time I spotted the blaze…

I’m NOT going to think about it…

Higgins rarely sleeps in our bed as he likes to get under the covers and lick knees (yuck) but last night after his pre-bedtime visit to the garden he rushed straight to the bottom of the stairs to be carried up.  Obviously determined not to be left downstairs in the soot and chaos.  And this is how I was greeted this morning…IMG_20140320_070402

Maybe worth having wet knees after all!

Hopefully the next post will be cheerier, with prettier pictures. Don’t forget this weekend someone will win the Box of Delights!

See you soon…x