Thursday, 16 September 2021

Mid September scenes

 Hello, hello lovlies, 

long time no post. The main reason for my absence is the demise of my desktop computer,  which I always used for writing blog posts and viewing blogs on my reading list. It's never really occurred to me to try and publish a post using my phone and who knows if this will work but I'm giving it a try. 

I'd like to record my observations of the approaching Autumn, I hope you enjoy it.....

We had rain a couple of days ago and as I set off on my morning walk today a mist hung in the air. The sun was still low in the sky and shone haizily through the damp atmosphere, creating soft outlines and muted colours.

Autumn was just beginning her wonderful display, the hedgerows lit with glowing rosehips and hawthorn berries on this golden morning

Looking towards the horizon I noticed the layers of the low hills, each separated by a veil of mist,  vanishing into the distance 


Along the bridleway the large clump of rosebay willow herb, who's five foot stems had been graced with pretty cerise pink flowers a few weeks ago, was now all russet tones. 

It was an easy walk down this familiarly quiet lane and I felt myself relax as I noticed many small birds, dunnock, sparrows and robins, darting about in the freshly trimmed hedges 

The mist began to dissipate revealing a clear blue sky above the patchwork of fields. Some were brown and freshly ploughed others still golden with the remains of harvested grain crops

I decided to turn left at the bottom of the path and make my way to our small local nature reserve. There was barely a soul about and I focused on the birdsong, feeling grateful to be able to enjoy this beautiful morning. 

The fields are full of horses down here. They include quite a few small ponies suitable for the youngest of riders. The nearbly riding school seems to look after them very well and I'm sure they are much loved by their riders. 

The nature reserve is a meadow, a pond and a stream, all bordered by trees and hedgerows.  Today I noticed the the meadow had recently been cut and the stream was very low.

It's the end of a cool dry summer so recent rain has not made much impression on the flow.
As I left the reserve I began making my way over stiles and across fields towards home.

The footbridge over the ditch was strewn with leaves from the old, contorted willow tree.

Once across I smiled at the sight of more horses quietly grazing. Their coats beautifully backlit by the still low sunshine.  It created a bright halo of light as it landed on their sleek coats. 

At my feet the wet grass was strewn with a myriad small spider webs, suspended from the blades of grass like so many miniature hammocks. 

The pond I passed was almost empty but the open sided barn is full of hay. The well loved horses won't go hungry this winter.

I was  feeling a bit peckish by this point. Time to head home for some tea and cake. I was glad to make the most of the mild weather and enjoy my refreshments in my garden arbour. A picnic in the fresh air always tastes extra nice don't you think. 

I hope this uploads ok. It wasn't too tricky in the end and I'd like to think I'll be able to write another post soon as I do miss recording more of my thoughts and observations than you can on Instagram.  
Thank you for reading 
Jacquie x

Sunday, 7 February 2021

Welcome February

Hello Lovelies,
 February began with a beautifully sunny day, which tempted me to walk further than I have been doing lately.

I'm still in love with the bare trees, this Oak tree's skeletal mass of branches looked especially lovely with blue skies behind.

It was cold and this large frozen puddle illustrates just how much rain we have had lately and how saturated the ground is.

Here the long tree shadows made me smile.

It's so relaxing to wander along the footpaths which cross our local golf course at the moment. Our continued lockdown means there are no balls to dodge and it's generally peaceful.

 I was enjoying noticing the different trees. These small blueish needles looked very appealing.

 Once at the churchyard I left food on the fence under this large tree.

I love to stand back and watch the birds come down to enjoy the snack, which they do almost immediately. Here I managed to capture a Robin and Blue tit in the same photo. Just :0)

And here comes a Dunnock. Not as colourful but so endearing.

Eventually I set off again, across the little bridge.

Along the field edge.

Here the footpath goes along this lane.

And into this pretty valley.

Before climbing up the other side to where there is a far reaching view.

Zooming in towards this undulating road.

Time to head home.

Past the sleeping sheep.

And finally, past a lovely display of snowdrops. What a perfect start to February.

Since this walk the weather hasn't been so nice and my miles walked so far this year are rather behind schedule. Oh well, I'm hopeful I'll be able to catch up soon.

 It's great being retired but at the moment the continued high number of coronavirus cases doesn't make for the most relaxing walking when you are continually hoping not to meet other walkers on a narrow path. 

Just recently we have lost an elderly neighbour to this horrible virus. It's so sad.  I sincerely hope  the combination of lockdown and vaccination brings the the tragic loss of life right down very soon.

Jacquie x

Friday, 29 January 2021

Little Crochet House Pattern

Hello Lovelies, 
I'm so pleased to be able to bring you this pattern today. 

In the U.K. we are currently in our third national lockdown, due to the high number of covid 19 cases and the pressure that is putting on our health service. 
It's easy to sit and worry, or become obsessed with the news. At times like this creativity is such a gift. To put your brain and hands to use, making an idea you have had in the back of your mind become a reality.

And sometimes things go really well :0) 

 I'd love to spread the little house love by gifting you the pattern. If you can crochet I think you will find it an easy project, and I've got loads of step by step photos to help explain the stages.

I've always had a thing for cute cottages, collecting Lilliput Lane models in my twenties, and picking up any cute little houses I come across in charity shops lately.

Of course charity shops are closed at the moment, so the long pondered idea of a crochet version came back to me. 

But how to make a crochet house? Its' so soft and not really suitable for constructing straight walls. Then, when I was cleaning the bathroom last Monday, I had a eureka moment.

Of course, I needed a solid shape to cover, and a toothpase tube box looked an ideal size. I quickly had a go at creating the roof and seeing if I was happy with the result. It was easy, and I was :0)

Of course you can use any box you like, I just liked the rectangular shape and it was small enough to look cute without being too small to add fun details....which is the best bit, obviously :0)

My box was 4.4cm wide

by 3.8 cm deep

That's 1 1/2 inches by 1 6/8 inches.

What we need to do first is crochet the walls. They are all worked as 1 , with two pointed sections which make the gable ends. So your completed walls will look like this.

tricky to photograph as it's a bit curly.

and it will wrap around your box like this.

The whole house is made using U.S. single crochet (sc)  . That is U.K. double crochet, but I think in U.S. terms so that's how I'm writing this pattern :0)

I used stylecraft special yarn, which is acrylic and double knitting weight ( also known as Light worsted weight or 8 ply) . Cotton yarn of the same weight would also work well for this project. You only need small amounts so any odds and ends should be fine.

About hook size. I've gone down half a millimetre to the recommended size, to create a tighter weave.

Right, lets begin :0)

 If you are using the same size box as mine you can go straight to crocheting a  chain of 33 stitches.

If you box is a different size you will need to make a chain long enough to reach around all four sides of your box WITHOUT stretching the chain at all.

 Turn your work and work 1 sc in the second chain from the hook ( marked with my needle) 

Work 1 sc in each chain, being careful not to twist the chain as you work. I always count each stitch as I go so errors show up quickly.

When you reach the end you should have 32 single crochet made. Next chain 1 and turn your work again.

The first stitch of row 2 goes where I've marked.

Progress on row 2

keep working backwards and forwards, making sure you put your final stitch where I've marked in the picture below, and that you have still got 32 stitches.

 Check that the length is a good snug fit for your box at this stage.

Here's a progress shot after 6 rows

The height of your house is up to you really. This one is 9 rows. 

To make the gable ends we need to work decreases at the start and end of a shortened row.

So at the beginning of row 10 work  1  single crochet decrease  across the first 2 stitches , 1 sc in each of the next 4 stiches, single crochet decrease ( sc dec) across the next 2 stitches.

Carry on making the triangle in the same fashion, decreasing at the beginning and end of each row, you will quickly be down to one stitch, fasten off.

Skip 9 stitches and attach a new length of yarn then work the second triangle in the same way as the first.

You should now have a piece of work that looks like this.

Next use a darning needle and a length of the same coloured yarn to sew the two short sides together. Turn the other way out.

Right, now it's time to fashion the roof of your box. Cut your box down to a bit higher than needed and cover it with your work so far.

Mark the shape of your walls

You can see the highest point of this version is 6cm, but that's not really important, just that it's the correct height for your crochet cover. 

Cut down to the highest point of your roofline and down each sloped side, as I am showing here.

Don't cut along the wide sides, but carefully bend them backwards, lining them up with the sides of the box.

The crease you have created will now allow the cardboard to easily bend across the gable ends. Trim the flap so it is level with the point of the roof. Repeat for the other side.

Your roof should then look like this. 

Add some Sellotape to hold it in place.

Add your crochet cover.

Right, time for the roof. It's made in the same way as the walls....that's rows of sc stitches worked backwards and forwards. 

If your box is the same size as mine to begin chain 11 

Insert hook in the second chain from your hook and make 1 sc in each chain across.

You should now have 10 stitches.

Make 5 rows of sc or as many as you need to reach the ridgeline of your roof.

In the next row work your sc stitches in the back loop only.

Here's a progress shot, showing you where to insert your hook.

The finished row should look like have created a nice ridgeline :0)

Complete the rest of your roof my making 5 further rows of sc in the same way you made the first 5.

This is how your roof should look at the moment.

To neaten the edges and make the roof a little larger I added an edge of sc  around all 4 side of my roof my roof. This included a decrease stitch at the ridgeline to encourage the roof to bend in the middle.

Chain 1 and then work sc stitches down the side of your roof. Make sure the raised side of the roof ridge is towards you.

Here I'm just reaching the half way point on the first side.

Make that sc dec stitch either side of the ridge line.

This creates the bend.

Carry on around your square. At each corner  work 3 sc stitches and  make a sc dec at the other end of your  ridgeline in the same way you made the first. Leave a long tail of yarn when you fasten off.

Now use this tail to attach your roof to your house.

Hopefully your work now looks similar to this.

This is the point where I add the felt details, windows and door. The size, colours, shape are totally up to you. I find small looks best. These windows are 10mm tall and 8mm wide. The door is similar dimensions. I used embroidery thread to attach the windows. All 6 strands to create noticeable window frames.

It's kind of fiddly working with the box in situ but I find it helps with placement. If you find it easier to remove the box for this bit go for that. 

You can also see here this was my third attempt at a satisfactory door colour :0)

I have some teeny buttons I use for the door knob. I think you can get them online....but they are by no means essential.

In this version I've made two hinges with 3 strands of embroidery thread and added the button handle. 

I think these houses look cute just like this so you can stop adding details at this point if you like. 

If I want to add greenery I use a length of yarn.

Here I've added the stems of a climbing rose, using back stitch.

I then added some French knot roses. Awwww I think they turned out great. I started with the pale yellow and decided I wasn't keen, so changed to a brighter shade. Thankfully  the combination really works. A happy accident :0)

Right, now it's time to make the chimney. It's the sort which you can see on the side of some houses, so it's going to end up like this.

It's worked from the bottom up. To begin chain 4.

Once again we are making rows of sc stitches backwards and forwards, these are just very short rows. 

work 3 sc across for the first 4 rows. At the start of row  5 work 1 sc dec , 1 sc. Continue working 2 sc rows until your work is as high as the apex of your roof. At this point chain 4  

Turn your work and sc in second chain from hook. Make two further sc in your  chain and 2 in previous row ( giving you 5 sc in total) 

Make another row of 5 sc and a final row of  5 sc in back loops only ( optional) 

Fasten off with a long tail and form your work into a tube shape, right side out. Sew up chimney pot section.

Sew onto roof 

and sew the "stack" down the side of your house. 

Phew. Nearly there! To finish off and hide the toothpaste box former I made a base for my model. It's worked in the same way as the roof, minus the ridge. 

So chain 11 and work 10 rows of 10 stitches. Work around your base in sc, making 3sc in each corner stitch. Fasten off and sew in ends.

My personal preference is then to turn my work the opposite way up like this. It stops it curling up and creates a satisfying sloped edge. 

And sew it to the base of my house with yarn in the main house colour.

And you're done. Ta-dah! As you can see there are so many possibilities to vary the height, windows, rooflines etc. Oh, hang on a minute the new guy is missing a puff of smoke :0)

That's easy to remedy. Get a small amount of cotton wool and thread it through the eye of a darning needle. Make sure it's not too far through the eye. 

Insert the needle at the base of the chimney .

And pull through. The needle should slip off the cotton wool leaving a plume of smoke behind :0)

There, that's better.

As you can see I've made various heights and colours. This project looks cute alone, but a group is  really cheerful. A Mantle Street :0)

The round version was made using a toilet roll tube. So many possibilities. I really hope you have fun with this project lovelies. 

This pattern is for personal use only and all rights remain with me, as the creator. I'm happy for them to be made as gifts or for charity projects but not for commercial sale.

If you make one (or several ) I'd love it if you would share your creations with me on Instagram. Tag me @jacquie_bunnymummy and use the #mantlestreet hashtag :0)

I really hope these little bits of creative crochet decoration bring some joy to your days.

Stay Safe Lovelies

 Jacquie x

P.S. if you have any problems leave me a message here and I will try and help :0)