Hugo the Llama

I forgot how short February was. I mean, it just sort of sneaked up on me and then flew by, and before I knew it, I was reaching the deadline for my sister’s giant llama.

Hugo the Llama

I’m not going to lie: I was a bit cross when she opted for the llama. I’d given her a choice, you see, for her birthday in January. A matching evening shawl and clutch bag, for which I had found coincidentally matching patterns, or a giant llama, the pattern for which my husband had found while I was looking at yarns for the shawl and bag.

He’d initially coming running up with a road-kill fox rug (not really, but it had the flattened look of road-kill, in the way of such rugs), but I’d thankfully noticed that it was for knitting, and I don’t knit. He went away, disappointed, but came back not five minutes later with a llama pattern. So my sister had a choice.

And she went with the llama. I looked more closely at the llama pattern, and discovered it wanted 10 balls of super chunky yarn (at £5 a ball) and 8 bags of 250g toy stuffing (at £4 a bag). And the finished thing would be a metre tall. Gulp. The yarn wasn’t even on special offer!

I had a look around, and discovered a chunky yarn, on 3 for 2 at £4 a ball, which ought to do the trick just as well. Given that the llama had to get to London, I figured a slightly smaller one would probably be appreciated. Even if she had asked for it in the first place.







I was impressed by the pattern. Once I got going, it was quite easy – the sort of therapeutic pattern to sit of an evening and double-crochet round and round. It’s designed in a large-scale amigurumi style, so you start with four individual legs and then join them up.

The only tricky bit occurred once I got started on the main body and back. It was too large and unwieldy at that point to keep on my lap as I spiralled. I ended first on the floor, kneeling, and then on the sofa, leaning over the neck, the complete the head. His finished height, ears included, was about 65 cm. And he didn’t need 8 bags of stuffing. I think about 2 sufficed. And only 3 and a half balls of the chunky yarn. My husband commented that the llama looked a bit like a dinosaur, perhaps a diplodicus, without the ears and tail, so now I’m making a much smaller one in a green/blue cotton yarn I had in my stash. Maybe with a pink/purple Mrs Diplodicus to go with it.

For the interested, the pattern is a Knitcraft pattern from Hobbycraft, and I used the WI Soft & Chunky Merino/Acrylic in Cream, which I’ve just realised isn’t machine washable. Oops. Never mind.

And So Life Goes On

Can I still say ‘Happy New Year’ this late in January? I mean, it’s nearly February…

Thinking about it, I think this is the perfect time to start a New Year.  January is such a grey and depressing month, but February is the end of Winter and so nearly Spring and sunshine.

It’s been a while.  I regret I’ve had nothing to say and done so little in the way of crafting – mostly because of life, but also because of writerly distractions. And of course Christmas.

Since then, though, I’ve been planning my year and my goals for 2018, not really being one for resolutions.

My scrapbook of cross stitches from last year is still going.  This year, my goal is to complete the large collection of mini-kits. I’m also beginning a new scrapbook of mythological beasties and beings, which will entail creating patterns too…

I have a few crochet projects planned too. Well, one. A giant llama. No doubt other projects will suggest themselves as the year goes on.

And my last goal is to plan, almost completely, the story currently distracting me from most things and write the first part.

These goals, however, mean that I will probably not be writing here as often as I have done previously, although hopefully not as infrequently as in the last few months. At least once a month, I hope.

Learning to Love my Kindle

I would like to say that my absence during October was due to a flurry of crafting and creativity. I’d be lying, though. It was actually due to a lot of reading and the excitement attendant upon counting down the days to the end of a hated job. Yup, I got to leave debt-collecting for a much more me kind of job as a proof-reader.

In between times, though, I also dusted off my Kindle, went through the titles on it, removed a lot, and have begun to process of restocking my library.

I bought my Kindle many more years ago than I care to remember, back when they were relatively new and shiny and an internet connection was not as standard. In my excitement, I filled it full of classics I ought to read, and modern freebies which sounded interesting. I didn’t read very many. I discovered that I preferred a Proper Book. Especially for the classics. I was more easily distracted from my reading on my Kindle.

And so, pulling my Kindle out of storage, I reduced the titles on it from about 120 down to under 30. All of those worthy classics, gone. The freebies I never read, gone. I was left with those few which I had read, and enjoyed, and a plan to collect those books which I own in print, but which space dictates remain at my parents’. My Heyers, for instance. I find I can read eBooks, but only if I’ve already read and liked it in print. Or those few eBooks I collected, read, and enjoyed in the early days. In the main, though, I’m building my eBook library to reflect my print library, for travelling purposes, and perhaps getting copies of the library-books which I enjoy. The Judith Flanders’s Sam Clair mysteries, for example (most entertaining, by the way; makes editing seem a much more exciting and adventurous sort of career).

I’d forgotten how much I liked Horry, in Heyer’s Convenient Marriage.

Apples and Autumn

This time of year is Harvest-festival time; Friday was Michaelmas.

According to British folklore, Michaelmas is the end of the blackberry season. An old story about how, when St Michael threw Satan out of heaven, Satan landed in a blackberry bush. Satan cursed the blackberries; he stamped, spat and urinated on them, thus making them unfit for consumption.

I was going to write about my first chocolate trip since July, which was to Haiti, with an 80% bar from Waitrose, but I can’t now remember how it tasted. Well, certainly. It had the bitterness of cacao; it melted smoothly on the tongue, and snapped cleanly. I don’t recall the underlying flavours. I’ll have to return.


So, instead, it’s apples. Home-grown, windfallen Bramleys. We went home at the beginning of September, and returned with about 25lbs of apples. They filled two and a half carriers. A few went bad and were thrown, but I stewed the rest. Had a crumble and Belgian hot lightening pie out of the first lot, with two extra servings set aside for freezing; another crumble and three more servings from the second lot.

Last year, we basically lived on apple cake and crumble for a month. This year, I’ve frozen it.

I tried something different for the second stewing. I found a recipe for Swedish apple cake, in the ScandiKitchen recipe book, which calls for apples stewed with butter, sugar and cinnamon. Swedish apple cake is one of the best apple cakes I know, so I thought I’d try stewing the apples in this manner. I already had a couple of servings of normal stewed apples, anyway.

I’m glad I’ve got three lots of spare cinnamon apples. So delicious. I’m saving one lot for my Christmas cake this year.


Love, Giraffes, and Belated Gifts

My current list of projects includes not only those which I have yet to finish, but those which I have yet to start. For gifts whose occasions are long since past.

I have a friend waiting on a birthday gift from last year. And her Christmas gift. And her birthday for this year. It’s lucky we’re old friends and she understands about delays.

My projects, therefore, are listed by time-sensitivity, starting with Late Gifts, which are then listed by Who Can Wait, rather than by the length of time they are delayed. Some people understand, others may but are not as close so probably ought to get things quicker. Like a wedding gift, fortunately only delayed by less than a month at this time. I’m still making, so it might be delayed by longer, although I’m working on GiraffesinLovethis first.

The giraffes were supposed to adorn the wedding-card, but I didn’t finish in time, so I adjusted my plans. Instead, once I’ve sorted out the detailing on the love-birds, I’ve decided to make them into a cushion cover with two cross-stitched panels. Patchwork it a bit, although I still have yet to rummage through my fabric chest to choose the backing colours. Something plain, not too pink, I think.

But at least one of these panels is now finished. Mind you, I haven’t really got much excuse for the birds not being done. I started it ages ago, long before the wedding, and got it to this point sometime in July, I think. Maybe early August. Ho hum. Such is life.

I’m still deciding quite how these panels will work. Diagonally, obviously, but I’m not sure which way, or which will be top and which bottom. Probably giraffes on the bottom. Probably.

I have, however, decided that the fastest way to get the crochet projects finished, of which I have two time-sensitive projects, will be to start carrying around my crochet bag and completing them during my lunch-hour at work, since it is actually an entire hour. Not sure how this will work with remembering which round I’m on; will give it a go and report back…

The New School Year

Oh it is nice that pretty much anytime you want to make a change there’s a New Year of some variety just around the corner to justify New Beginnings or what-have-you.

Of course, most of my changes tend to be necessitated by, ahem, long breaks in writing or posting anything. Life has got in the way; I have more than one unfinished craft project lying by the wayside, several chocolate ‘trips’ planned, and writing projects galore.

That all said, I also have ideas to revive and remould my wordy sort of blog. Not as books: I find writing reviews a bit forced. I’m a Yay or Nay sort of person, sometimes with good reason, usually none. I’m going to be changing how I write about books here, by the way.

As previously discovered, though, I have not the time in my life to maintain two blogs with many weekly posts. I seem barely to have the time for one blog with a thrice-weekly schedule. Certainly haven’t the time for that plus all the crafting required for a weekly craft post.

Instead, I have decided on a once-weekly post, with a loose schedule involving crafting (crochet and sewing), chocolate, and books.

Crafting will be as it always has been, with projects. Chocolate will be recipes and my chocolate ‘trips’ for single-origin bars. Books will be a monthly round-up of my reads, accompanied by a Yay or Nay.

We’ll see how this goes…


Rabbits, Blankets and Camping

Well, that was a longer break than anticipated! In the meantime, I’ve also scrapped an awful lot of what I had planned…which isn’t all that helpful, when you think about it.

However. I have managed to return to both cross stitch and crochet, though to none of my current or other planned projects.

Instead, I have started small, ish, and simple. A rabbit kit from a magazine, and a granny square baby blanket. Both just right for helping my brain make sense of the mess it has made in planning a 5-book series…

Bunny and blanket.jpg