Crochet Asymmetrical Poncho

The asymmetrical poncho is finished at last - not without a bit of trauma as I noticed 3/4 of the way up that I had missed off the last motif in the row after a couple of pattern repeeats and then continued upwards with short rows. Damn and blast. Three evenings of undoing later and I started again at the short row and did it properly. When I finished I was panicking a bit because it looked sort of short and fat and I thought it would never fit, but after a bit of easing (for 'easing' think of me standing on one end and pulling the other to stretch it all out to the correct dimensions), and now I'm really pleased with it. I love the colours and it sits comfortably on my shoulders without slipping down or flapping about, although it wouldn't be so good at a football match, or anywhere you need to throw your arms in the air as it ends up around your neck like a scarf. Not that I would do anything so unladylike as flinging my arms around. ahem. 

Having finished the poncho, I moved quickly onto a standby baby present of another crochet octopus. They are so satisfyingly quick to make and my two previous octopi (?) octopuses (?) are really well loved by their new family that I think they will be my goto quick baby gift, although I do have a nice baby bootee pattern that I will have to whip out every now and then.........

Chunky cushion cover

Chunky cushion cover

I am feeling quite prolific on the crochet front because I've started yet another item. This time it is a quick cushion cover for a house warming/retirement present. It's already late as the recipients have both moved and retired, but we are planning to visit on the way to our holibobs so have a tight deadline. Leastways, I'm really hoping it's going to be a quick present! I'm using super chunky wool and a 9mm crochet hook, but I am trying out a pattern I've not done before, so could be fraught with frustration. The pattern is called Chunky Crochet Pillow so is an american pattern, but is easy enough if you remember to do a treble whenever a double crochet is mentioned. It is actually a really well described and pictured pattern so I'm hopeful that I can finish it quickly. It's an interesting pattern because it's made diagonally with increases and the squared off with decreases and looks like herringbone. I've never made anything this way before so I'm quite intrigued. 

The FINAL poncho push

At last it's the end of the poncho story. We have a poncho Ta da! to end all ta da's. I'm not sure I'll ever let myself be talked into making a poncho again, but they are statement items of style and beauty (even though I say this myself) and the quality of the wool really shines out. I really am quite determined that I will use good quality yarn for as many projects as possible (funds not withstanding) because it just makes the most enormous difference to the finished item. And I have two happy daughters, which is never a bad thing to say. I'm only wondering now what the other two children will request for me to make. Please, oh please, not more poncho's.

I have another tick on the things to complete list; this time it's the hat started only last week. Oh the speed I can drum up when there is a bank holiday, a lovely sunny day, a warm spot shaded from the the chilly wind and a complete disinclination to do anything other than sit and crochet in the sun. Such decadent idleness :)

A break in the torrential rain of Easter Monday tempted us out to our most local National Trust house - Hardwick Hall (more glass than wall). It's a lovely hall built in the time of Queen Elizabeth I. We had a stroll around the gardens which are just coming to life with spring flowers. It has beautiful gardens which are not enormous but are cleverly planted. I love the herb garden with it's wavy box hedges.

The homemade flour cook book

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images News / Getty Images

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images News / Getty Images

Blog posts seem to be a bit like buses; you don't see one for weeks and then there are half a dozen. Well, it's not quite that bad, but I've had a bit of a lull in imagination and inclination due I suspect from a rather hectic time on the barn conversion front than from any other palpable reason. Anyway, I have my baking and making mojo back, in part thanks to a new book 'The Homemade Flour Cookbook' by Erin Alderson of 'Naturally Ella' blog fame. I found a recipe for sweet potato and red lentil gnocchi on the internet which led me to this book and this evening we entertained family for tea and they were unwitting guinea pigs to a new culinary experiment of gnocchi in pesto sauce. The gnocchi are made with baked and mashed sweet potato, egg yolks, seasoning and red lentil flour. I used a mixture of red and green lentils due to a failure on the shopping front, and it made no difference except to the colour of gnocchi which should have been a bright orange colour and instead were speckled with green. The gnocchi were really quick to assemble even though I quadrupled the recipe in order to have plenty of spares to freeze for another day. I cheated with the pesto sauce and used a bought jar of pesto, although making pesto is really easy if you a) have the ingredients and b) have a food processor/blender. I really miss my  herb garden (along with a proper kitchen, most of my kitchen gadgets, a decent oven....the list goes on). Anyway, to cut a warbling story shorter, the gnocchi were very tasty and enjoyed by all. For dessert I announced that we were having 'Floating Islands'  which I made up to sound a lot more impressive than it actually was; it comprised some unsweetened lightly cooked (frozen) mixed berries with a coconut macaroon 'floating' on the top in each dish and liberally swirled with cream. The sweetness of the macaroons nicely counteracted the tartness of the berries, topped with the decadent loveliness of the thick cream. The coconut macaroons were an impromptu bake because when friend leave you home grown eggs you really don't want to waste any of it and I used 4 egg yolks for the gnocchi so a meringue type dessert was essential.  

coconut macaroon

The weekly family Sunday tea usually provides an impetus to do some baking. I don't always feel like baking and it would be really easy to buy something for tea, especially since we have a Co-op next door. However, the thought of eating (and feeding the family) on bought baked goods full of processed sugar and flour and lots of additives usually galvanises me into action.  This weekend I'm trying a sourdough fruit loaf recipe from Vanessa Kimbell  at Bakerybits. This really is a long slow fermentation as it begins with a starter levain (a small amount of sourdough, flour and water) at lunchtime on the day before you bake it and then continues with the addition of the rest of the ingredients in the evening to make the dough, and is then not baked until the following morning. I can attest to the deliciousness of the fruit loaf, toasted and buttered......mmmmm.

sourdough fruit bread

Well that's the 'baking' taken care of, now for some 'making'. A couple of weeks ago I was suffering from extreme poncho fatigue. The poncho was getting bigger and the rows were getting longer. Basically I was bored with it, but it needed to be finished so that I could move on to something else so I had a weeks worth of 'push' to get it done. The final flourish was a fringe for the bottom, for which I had some help. It worked so much better as a two man team, one separating the strands into bunches of 5 and the other crocheting them onto the bottom of the poncho. In no time it was done, and since it was a very late birthday present I despatched it the following day so no photo as yet. The fringe was such a success that I've now had a request to put a fringe onto the first poncho. Will they ever go away? (poncho's, not children). Of course I now have something else under way. I decided to revisit a pattern for a crocheted beret which I'd used one year for the family home made Christmas presents - girls only of course. I need a couple of quick gifts and these beret's usually turn out quite nice. The wool is a lovely Drops yarn called 'Big Delight'. It is 100% wool yet feels really soft.

Drops Big Delight