I’m back! And these are some things I’ve done, and learnt from, in the meantime.

One of my housemates volunteers with a community theatre group. They needed help painting some of the set so I gave up a morning to help. I’d genuinely forgotten how calming I find it when I am absorbed my something creative for a few hours. I drew and painted this board of cogs, and felt so much happier because of it.

I went to Henley Regatta and got to wear a hat (I didn’t actually wear it with that checked shirt). I fitted in much more than I thought I would, which will teach me for being such a reverse snob.

At Cowley Road Carnival we chose mask making in the family craft area rather than daytime drinking in front of the stages. Had much more fun.

I moved rooms in my house. I now have a sofa! And room to spread out all the blankets I crochet.

My bike wheels were stolen. Bastards. But now that it’s my main method of transport, I was toying with the idea of using the money I made my selling my car to invest in a good bike. I guess that decision has now been made for me.

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Everything is beautiful

This year I made a resolution to use up my existing stash of wool before buying any more. I wasn’t holding out much hope of making anything spectacular. I was left with a lot of what I considered to be really dull colours, many of which had been passed down from my Grandma, remaining unused since they had been bought in the seventies. Beiges, browns, pale greens and yellow – I thought the only thing to do would be to pair them with brighter colours left over from my granny square blanket and hope for the best.

So I am surprised at how much I like the resulting blankets. Which goes to show that anything can be beautiful when presented in the right way.

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How not to crochet a rug

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I started this project so long ago I had look back through the blog archives to find out when it was. 10 July 2012, as it turns out.

Momentum inevitably slowed after I moved from the home I was creating it for and stopped speaking to the man I was creating the home with. I wondered if I would always associate the rug with a period in my life that merely turned out to be a classic example of trying to settle down too young with someone inappropriate.

But actually I’ve fallen in love with the rug again: it’s random colour combinations, untidy joins and decidedly un-straight edges. It’s a mess, but it’s my mess and is an appropriate enough symbol for my twenties as anything else.

Even so, there are things I would do differently next time. So I’ve created a how-to-not guide, based on everything I’ve done. If you want to crochet a nice looking rug, ignore every single one of these.

  1. Have a flash of inspiration and start working right away, without experimenting with thickness of fabric strips.
  2. Have a wholly unrealistic idea of how much fabric you will need.
  3. Accept any kind of scrap fabric from friends and family – pay no attention to colour or weight.
  4. Don’t stitch the fabric together – tie in large messy knots that are uncomfortable under foot.
  5. Go over your internet data allowance by 700% because you’ve decided you need to watch every series on Netflix while crocheting.
  6. Spend time cutting fabric strips before work, so you have bits of pink fabric all over your tights.
  7. Start and stop, often leaving for months at a time.
  8. Show everyone who comes to your house the rug you’ve started making. They will keep asking how it’s coming along and you’ll have to admit how lazy you are.
  9. Don’t count the number of stitches in each row, and keep forgetting which stitch to start in on a new row. The result, uneven edges as the rug get’s wider and narrower over time, means you have to hide the side under your bed and wardrobe (see image above).
  10. Keep going until you have cramp in your hands, an aching back, and a deep dread of the amount of work it will take to be as big as you wanted.

The summer in granny squares

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Back in April I decided to start a new crochet project. I didn’t know what I was doing, only that I was bored of cowls (and presumably so was everyone I keep making them for). I bought some obnoxiously bright wool and started making granny squares.

As anyone who has spent any time with me since then will tell you, I became a bit addicted. I have not been able to put it down. I’ve been crocheting at work, at friends houses, at other peoples houses, in the pub, on the train… you get the idea. I’ve basically spent the last five months with yarn around my fingers and cramp in both hands.

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But what I’ve learnt is that it’s amazingly therapeutic. As I got used to being a single person again, what started as as a something to do in the evenings that wasn’t sex or having an argument with someone about how to cook a risotto (what kind of deviant wants to put all the stock in at once?) soon became my way of unwinding after a stressful day and quieting all the thoughts buzzing through my brain.

This bloody blanket has defined my summer. When I look at it I remember what I was doing, what I was thinking about, who I was with or what rubbish TV I was watching when I was making each square. It’s taking so long to finish (almost there now…) a lot of things have happened.

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While I was crocheting:

I get over that breakup.

I revel in my independence and resolve to be single for a long time.

Andy Murray won Wimbledon. I even put the crochet down for long enough to watch it properly.

My Mum convinces me to do some gardening. I discover I quite like it.

I move to a new city.

I have my nose pierced. I get blood on the yarn.

I stop hiding under a duvet and make some new friends.

I realise that I’m never going to be a good cook, but that I’m fairly capable of feeding myself.

I turn 25. Despite insisting I don’t want a fuss, friends turn up with tea, chocolate, wine and body shop cosmetics (they know me well). I also treat myself to some new yarn.

I have a fringe cut. Mainly to hide to spots that have erupted as a result of my newly blossoming social life.

I meet somebody who makes me question my resolution to be single. Progress on the blanket slows as I have some text messages to reply to.

A friend asks me to be her bridesmaid. I put the blanket down for long enough to try a dress on.

I discover I like black pudding.

I realise I’m perfectly capable of finishing a bottle of wine by myself (while crocheting, and wailing along to Adele). I resolve to not have wine in the house again.

Family visit from Texas. I try and explain the difference between crochet and knitting to my male thirteen year old cousin by comparing them to baseball and hockey. “That’s just stupid,” he says.

I visit York and go drinking with old friends. I reacquaint myself with Evil Eye cocktails and cheesy chips on the way home.

I move house again.

I meet some people in Oxford who I don’t work with.

It starts to get dark earlier and I suspect summer might be over.

Which brings me to now, when I’m sat on the floor under a pile of crochet, still unable to put the wool down. 

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The week in photos

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The blanket I’ve been working on is looking more like a blanket now I’ve started to crochet the individual squares together. I spent a blissful Sunday morning listening to music and crocheting. As I found it so therapeutic, I’ve resolved to put aside time every week for just me, some good music and my latest creative project.

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I’ve also had time this week to hang out with my sister. It always amazes me how you can barely see someone for months on end and yet within five minutes of reuniting you’re laughing and chatting like no time has passed at all.

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Since I committed myself to run a half marathon in the Spring and felt under pressure to spend any free time running, I’d forgotten how much I enjoy a long walk.  Last week I felt really exhausted and just didn’t feel like a run. But instead of collapsing on the sofa and feeling like a failure, I dragged myself out of the house to explore a local meadow and take some photographs. After fifteen minutes of gentle exercise in the sunshine I felt so much better. I was reminded my body needs a variety of movement and I shouldn’t get fixated on having to go for an hour long run or nothing at all.

Bobble Cowl

There’s only one thing to do in this weather – make something cosy enough that you won’t mind the cold.

To make the bobbles use a treble crochet stitch in between two single crochets. I just kept going until I thought it was long enough (okay, I ran out of wool). It can wrap once or twice around my neck, depending on how I want to wear it.

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