Archive for September, 2009

My niece’s teacher’s sister

September 25, 2009

Every few days my brother telephones me to say, “Did you hear what Tinkerbelle [our niece] said?”

Today he told me that the other day when my sister picked my niece up from school, Tinkerbelle said, “Mummy, Mummy, Mummy!  Miss Quinn’s sister was in our class today!  And guess what her name is?”

“Helen?”

“Nope!”

“Sarah?”

“Nope!”

“Emma?”

“Nope!”

“Jane? Calypso? Tinkerbelle?”

“Nope! Nope! Nope!”

“I give up, what is it?”

“It’s Miss Quinn!  Miss Quinn and her sister have got the same name!  Isn’t that funny?”

Books I’ve read this year #38 – #39

September 24, 2009

# 38 “Sunday morning at the centre of the world” by Louis de Bernières.

Funny little book – it’s a radio play, really.  Quite enjoyable, though, and so short you can read it in about half an hour.  (By the way, if you have ever had a dog, wish you had a dog, or just like stories about dogs, you must read “Red dog” by Louis de Bernières – it’s the loveliest little book.)

#39 “Saint Maybe” by Anne Tyler

My sister said I’d like this, and I did, but… I was a bit disappointed with the ending.

Books I’ve read this year #37

September 16, 2009

“Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier.

Aaah, this is one of my favourite books.  I first read it when I was fourteen, but haven’t read it for years.  I decided to re-read it now because I needed to read something very English after the Nazi-fest of Fatherland, but mainly I re-read it because I remembered that the narrator had a black cocker spaniel called Jasper, and I wanted to see if he was as naughty as my little cocker spaniel.  (He’s not.)

What a great book – it’s still one of my favourites.  And I’m quite jealous of anyone who hasn’t read it yet as they get to read it for the first time.

Books I’ve read this year #36

September 16, 2009

“Fatherland” by Robert Harris.

Imagine a world where Kind Edward VIII didn’t abdicate and Wallis Simpson became queen, Joe Kennedy wasn’t forced to resign because of the public outcry about his view that “Democracy is finished in England” and “[Britain isn’t] fighting for democracy. That’s the bunk. She’s fighting for self-preservation.” and went on to become president of the United States, and the Germans won the war… that’s Fatherland for you.  Fascinating – I really enjoyed it.

The difference between cats and dogs

September 15, 2009

I was woken up this morning by both my cats climbing over my face and mewling piteously.  I say “mewling piteously” as if that is unusual for my cats, but actually neither of them seems to have a normal meow, instead they have this sort of broken chirruppy squeak which always sounds piteous.  There are three versions of their chirruppy squeak, the “Hello, why aren’t you stroking me? Hellooo?  HELLLLOOO?” version, the “OMG what the f*ck is that dog doing in this house?” version (which is usually followed by the “Why don’t you f*ck off and die?” hiss), and the “OMG, I am going to DIE of hunger” version. (I apologise for my cats’ bad language, but they were born on the mean streets of Peckham in inner London so don’t know any better.)

Anyway, this was the third kind of squeak, so I dragged myself out of my lovely warm bed to fill up their food bowl, and found- disaster of disasters! – that we had run out of cat food.

Now, I know their food bowl was full when I went to bed last night, so they were hardly on the brink of death, and I thought they could wait a couple of hours until I had done my morning’s work and gone to the supermarket before being fed again.  But the cats had other ideas.  Squeak, squeak, squeak.  I carried on typing.  SQUEAK SQUEAK SQUEAK. Still typing…. THUMP – a cat landed on my laptop, rolled onto his back (fainted with hunger, he claims), and somehow managed to delete four pages of my report.

“I’m starrrrrrrvvvving,” he mewed.

I gave in, and drove to the shop to get some food for them.

When I got home, both cats ran up to me, crying, “Thank GOD.  We thought we were going to DIE.”  I poured the food into their bowl, they sauntered over to it, sniffed at the bowl, ate two bites each, then BOTH of them walked off, jumped on the bed, and started washing themselves, stopping only to give me baleful looks at having been kept waiting for so long

*  *  *  *  *

Then, when I sat down to start working again, I realised OHMYGODIFORGOTTOFEEDTHEDOGS.  Now, before you write to my neighbour who sent me the notes saying I neglected my dogs, I’d better add that their breakfast was only half an hour late.  But, of course, they were starving, because, well, because they’re dogs.  Have you ever known a dog who isn’t hungry?  My husband had a dog once who was so greedy that when my husband did a spit roast, the dog lay underneath the drainy thing at the end, swallowing all the fat as it dripped off.  And when he was so full that he couldn’t possibly swallow any more pig fat, he just lay there, letting it drip all over his face.  That same dog also used to push the calves out of the way so he could get to the calf-feeder, until he was banned from the fields at feeding time because he had chewed all the teats off the feeder, and then he started following the calves after feeding time so he could lick the milk off their faces.

Anyway, my dogs…

I ran into the living room to feed them, apologised profusely for not feeding them sooner, and poured their food into their bowls.  They ran over to the food, wagging their tails so hard that their whole bodies were moving, and started gobbling it up.  While eating, Little Dog looked up at me, wagged his tail even harder, then ran over to me and gave me a big lick, even though he hadn’t finished his breakfast. And Big Dog said, “Oh yes, I forgot to kiss you,” and ran over and licked me too.  When they finished eating, they both came and sat with me, and Big Dog said, “Mmmm, mmmm – that was delicious.  I’ve never tasted anything so good in my whole life!”  Then they turned to each other, and said in unison, “You are the best human in the whole, wide world, and this is the best day in my life EVER!”

And that’s the difference between cats and dogs.

Things that have made me happy today

September 11, 2009

Miss Smith asks, “What are you feeling happy about today?”

Well, today I am happy that:

  • the cat pooed on my husband’s clothes, not mine;
  • by pooing on my husband’s clothes the cat has demonstrated that I am right when I say the best place for dirty clothes is in the laundry basket, not on the floor;
  • my friend loves the slippers I made her;
  • her daughter also loves the slippers and keeps trying to steal them, so I am making her a pair, too, which makes me happy because it’s so nice to have such grateful recipients of the stuff I make;
  • spring has sprung, and I’m looking forward to the longer evenings;
  • the lady who wrote me two horrible passive-aggressive notes accusing me of neglecting my dogs because I left them alone for 12 hours in the garden with food, water, shelter and bones apologised profusely, and now thinks I am a sweetheart (though if I had said out loud the things I was thinking in my head she may have revised her opinion!);
  • my dogs hate said old bag;
  • my husband will be home soon, and we are having nachos tonight.

Books I’ve read this year #35

September 4, 2009

“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood.

Oooh, what a good book.  Why have I never read it before?  Too busy reading mindless chick-lit, I expect.  If you haven’t read this, then do.

Free pattern for crocheted Mary-Jane slippers

September 3, 2009

Mary-Jane slippers

Crocheted Mary Jane slippers

Mary-Jane slippers

Mary-Jane slippers

Mary-Jane slippers

Fancy making some slippers?  Here’s the pattern I devised for the Mary-Jane slippers I made for my friend.  Each slipper is made in one piece, so there are no seams, and they are made in double crochet (single crochet if you’re American).

Please note: this free pattern is not for resale. All rights reserved. No part of the pattern may be reproduced in any form. The written instructions, photographs, design, and pattern are intended for personal, non-commercial use only i.e. you are not permitted to sell any items made using this pattern.

I have checked and re-checked the pattern, but if you use it and find any mistakes, or if anything is unclear, please do not hesitate to email me at thelittlehousebythesea at hotmail dot com.  Oh, and if you make these, please add a pic of them to the Flickr group.

Materials

  • Debbie Bliss Pure Cotton or any other Aran weight yarn – 50g/ 82m of main colour and a few metres (about 8.5 m) in contrasting colour
  • Hook size 5 mm
  • Four pieces of contrasting yarn to use as markers
  • 2 buttons – the ones I used have a diameter of 1.5 cm.
  • Large blunt ended needle

Stitches used

  • ch – chain
  • dc – double crochet (single crochet if you’re American)
  • dc2tog – double crochet two stitches together (decrease)

Gauge

12 stitches and 18 rows to 10 cm or 4 inches measured over double crochet using a 5 mm hook.

Sizing

At the gauge stated above, the slippers will fit UK size 4 – 6.5 (EU size 37 – 39.5, US size 6.5 – 9).  They might fit a UK size 7 (EU 40, US 9.5) but I haven’t been able to get someone with this size feet to try them on to check.

It doesn’t matter too much if your gauge is not exact because the slippers are designed to stretch to fit, but you don’t want your gauge to be too different as then your slippers might not fit.  If your feet at are at the smaller end of the range and you are getting a couple more than 12 stitches to 10cm/ 4 inches, then the slippers will probably still fit, especially if you are using wool rather than cotton.  If not, try a larger hook size.  If your feet are at the larger end of the range and you are getting fewer stitches to 10 cm/ 4 inches, then, again, the slippers will probably still fit, but if not, try a smaller hook size.

METHOD

Toe-cap

The toe-cap is worked in one continuous round, or spiral as follows:

Foundation chain: using 5 mm hook, chain 6.

Round 1: dc into second chain from hook, dc into next 3 chains, 3 dc into last chain, then continue double-crocheting up the other side of chain as follows: dc into next three chains, 2dc in last chain (12 stitches).

Picture 1: the first round

Blog - picture 1

Round 2: dc into each of next 5 stitches, 3 dc into next stitch, dc into each of next 5 stitches, 3 dc into next stitch (16 stitches)

Round 3: dc into each of next 6 stitches, 3 dc into next stitch, dc into each of next 7 stitches, 3 dc into next stitch, dc into next stitch (20 stitches)

Round 4: dc into each of next 7 stitches, 3 dc into next stitch, dc into each of next 9 stitches, 3 dc into next stitch, dc into next 2 stitches (24 stitches)

Round 5: dc into each stitch (24 stitches)

Round 6: dc into each stitch (24 stitches)

Sole

The sole continues on from the toe-cap, and is worked in rows as follows:

Row 1: dc into first 8 stitches of round 6.  Mark first and last stitch in the row, and also the two stitches of the toe-cap on either side of the row, as shown in picture 2.  1 chain. Turn. (8 stitches)

Picture 2: stitches marked with contrasting yarn

Blog - picture 2

Row 2: dc into each stitch. 1 chain. Turn. (8 stitches)

Rows 3 – 13: as row 2.

Row 14: 2 dc into first stitch, dc into next 6 stitches, 2 dc into last stitch. (10 stitches). 1 chain.  Turn.

Row 15: dc into each stitch. 1 chain.  Turn.  (10 stitches)

Rows 16 – 19: as row 15.

Row 20: 2 dc into first stitch, dc into next 8 stitches, 2 dc into last stitch.  1 chain. Turn. (12 stitches)

Row 21: dc into each stitch.  1 chain. Turn. (12 stitches).

Rows 22-23: as row 21.

Row 24: dc into first 2 stitches, dc2tog, dc into next 4 stitches, dc2tog, dc into last 2 stitches. 1 chain.  Turn. (10 stitches)

Row 25: dc into first 2 stitches, dc2tog, dc into next 2 stitches, dc2tog, dc into last 2 stitches. 1 chain.  Turn. (8 stitches)

Row 26: dc into first 2 stitches, dc2tog. dc2tog, dc into last 2 stitches. 1 chain.  Turn.  (6 stitches)

Row 27: dc into first stitch. dc2tog, dc2tog, dc into last stitch. (4 stitches).  DO NOT TURN.  With contrasting thread mark first and last stitches in rows 26 and 27.

Picture 3: toe-cap and sole, showing marked stitches

Blog - picture 3

Upper

You will now work the rest of the slipper in rounds.

Round 1: with bottom of sole facing you, dc into each row end (26 stitches) dc into each stitch on toe-cap (17 stitches) dc up the row ends on the other side (26 stitches) and dc into the 4 stitches on the back. (73 stitches).  Move the markers as you crochet so that the ends of the each side, toe-cap and back are marked.

Round 2: repeat round 1

In rounds 3 – 6 you will decrease at both ends of each side, and at each side of the toe-cap by double-crocheting together the first two and last two stitches of both sides and the toe-cap as follows:

Round 3: dc2tog, dc into next 22 stitches, dc2tog, dc2tog, dc into next 13 stitches, dc2tog, dc2tog, dc into next 22 stitches, dc2 tog, dc into last 4 stitches (67 stitches)

Round 4: dc2tog, dc into next 20 stitches, dc2tog, dc2tog, dc into next 11 stitches, dc2tog, dc2tog, dc into next 20 stitches, dc2 tog, dc into last 4 stitches (61 stitches)

Round 5: dc2tog, dc into next 18 stitches, dc2tog, dc2tog, dc into next 9 stitches, dc2tog, dc2tog, dc into next 18 stitches, dc2 tog, dc into last 4 stitches (55 stitches)

Round 6: dc2tog, dc into next 16 stitches, dc2tog, dc2tog, dc into next 7 stitches, dc2tog, dc2tog, dc into next 16 stitches, dc2tog, dc into last 3 stitches, and slip stitch into last stitch. Cut yarn leaving a loose end to weave in. (49 stitches)

The final two rounds are worked in a contrasting yarn. First of all you make a chain and button hole for the strap, and then you join the yarn to the slippers and continue shaping the upper as follows:

Strap: With colour for trim, chain 5. Slip stitch into chain furthest from hook to form a loop (this will be the buttonhole: if your buttons have a diameter greater than 1.5 cm, then you may need to increase the size of this loop).  Then chain 16.

Picture 4: strap

Blog - picture 4

 

Left slipper

Round 7: Join chain to left slipper on the right side in the 8th stitch from the front right corner (see picture 5 ). You will then continue crocheting around the upper, decreasing at the corners and heel as in rounds 3 – 6 as follows: dc into next 7 stitches, dc2tog, dc into 4 stitches along back of slipper, dc2tog, dc into next 14 stitches, dc2tog, dc2tog, dc into next 5 stitches (across toe-cap) dc2tog, dc2tog, dc into next 7 stitches (the last dc goes into the same stitch that you joined the chain to the slipper).  Then dc up one side of the chain you made (16 stitches), dc into each chain in the loop (5 stitches), and dc back down the other side of the chain (16 stitches).

Picture 5: joining the strap to the left slipper

Blog - picture 5b

Picture 6:round 7, just before crocheting up the strap

Blog - picture 6

Right slipper

Round 7: Join chain to right slipper on the left side in the 8th stitch from the front left corner. You will then continue crocheting around the upper, decreasing at the corners and heel as in rounds 3 – 6 as follows: dc into next 6 stitches, dc2tog, dc2tog, dc into next five stitches (across toe-cap), dc2tog, dc2tog, dc into next 14 stitches, dc2tog, dc into 4 stitches, dc2tog, dc into next 8 stitches (the last dc goes into the same stitch that you joined the chain to the slipper).  Then dc up one side of the chain you made (16 stitches), dc into each chain in the loop (5 stitches), and dc back down the other side of the chain (16 stitches).

Both slippers

Round 8: dc into each dc along top of slipper until you come back to the strap, then cast off.

To finish: Weave in ends, and sew on buttons.

Crocheted Mary-Jane slippers

September 3, 2009

I can finally tick something off my to do list:

Crocheted Mary Jane slippers

I made this pair of slippers for a friend of mine. Originally, she asked me to make her a hat, but it had to be cotton, not wool, though cashmere would probably be okay, but wouldn’t it shed? And it had to be tight. And have ear flaps. And be flattering. Oh, and she hates hats. She only wears them out of necessity, because she thinks all hats make her look ugly and stupid. Hmmm. What about a pair of slippers instead? I asked. “Oh yes. I love slippers.” she said.

So slippers it was.

I thought Mary-Jane slippers would be the sort of thing that there are loads of free patterns for, but I searched and searched on Ravelry and Google, but none of the patterns were like the ones I had in my head. Mainly, I didn’t want any seams, and I wanted the upper to be in double crochet all round, and the heel to be rounded… so I designed my own. And I wrote the pattern down so I could make sure the second slipper matched the first, and as soon as I have transcribed my scribbles, I’ll post the pattern here. UPDATE: here it is!

I took a photo of these last night to send to my friend to show her what they look like, and she emailed back saying “TAKE THEM OFF NOW – THEY’RE MINE”. I think she likes them.