I’m in a magazine!

You can read the whole article in the magazine – grab yourself a copy from most newsagents

If anyone here is a reader of My Weekly magazine, you might recognise someone in the latest edition – me!

That’s right, little ol’ me – I’m in the magazine as part of a feature about people who have kept their new year’s resolutions. My part of it is about my 52 Things in 52 Weeks challenge, which I’m doing again this year for the FIFTH year running!

If you’d like to see my challenges for 2017, you can find them HERE.

And as we head into the new year, I’ll be in another, similar feature in Best Magazine – the first issue of the new year, so keep your eyes peeled!

The Season of Good Will…

How did it get to be December already? Where has the time gone? We are now officially in the countdown to Christmas (or whatever winter festival you celebrate). It’s the time of year people try to be a little kinder and more charitable, and perhaps they start thinking of ways they can help others.

I watched a video yesterday that got me thinking. It wasn’t about the festive season, it was about menstruating. I know – that can be a bit of an icky subject, despite it being something that 50% of the world’s population do at some point in their lives – for a very large part of their lives, to be honest.

This is the video – please do watch it, because it’s quite interesting.

It really got me thinking, because although I donate to a local food bank on a semi-regular basis, and although it’s not always food products I donate, there is something I never thought about donating at all, and it’s something I have used every month of my life since before being a teenager. Why did it never occur to me? Well, probably for the same reason it doesn’t occur to other people too – it’s something we’re so used to, that we don’t consider it – it gets pushed to the background.

So, although we’re now half way through December, here’s a thought. How w0ould it be, if everyone who has the means to do so, made up a package to give to their local food bank this Xmas? You can backdate it and made a sort of reverse advent calendar, putting in 24 items to donate, or you can do it from today, whatever is easiest and within your means – just pop stuff in a bag or a box to hand over.

Here are some things you might like to include:

  • Food:
    Dried goods such as pasta, rice, and lentils are good, as they keep for ages without going off. Also tinned and jarred food of any kind – beans, vegetables, fruit, canned fish and meat, are all staples to consider, along with jams, chutneys and pickles. And don’t forget condiments – salt, pepper, sauces, herbs and spices, and stock cubes – they can zing up a meal and make it much taster and less boring.
  • Feminine hygiene products:
    Next time you’re picking up your tampons or pads for your own use, pop an extra pack in your trolley to donate.
  • Other hygiene products:
    Soap, shower gel, deoderant, toothbrushes and toothpaste – take advantage of three for two offers and pop the third “free” item in your giving box. Or if you get loads of smellies at Xmas, consider donating some of those. You might also consider popping a packet of condoms in there too
  • Cleaning products:
    Cleaning wipes, antibacterial spray, toilet cleaner and bleach, rim blocks and cistern blocks, washing up liquid, washing powder, and fabric conditioner. All essentials that might go by the wayside when people can barely afford to put food on the table.
  • Baby products:
    Nappies, wipes, nappy sacks – again, take advantage of multi-buy offers and pop the extra items in the box.

None of these need to be expensive brand name items – you can donate supermarket own brands, or even the bargain range items if that’s what your budget will stretch to. Even if you can’t donate an item for every day of the month, perhaps it could be a new year’s resolution to save one item every week of the year – imagine what you could accumulate in 52 weeks, at just the cost of a few pennies extra on your weekly shopping bill? Even if you donated like this quarterly with a dozen or so items each time, that can make a huge difference to someone who needs it.

Maybe this way we can ALL have a brighter festive season. And you never know, you might get bumped higher up on Santa’s “Nice” list!


Sky Blanket – Three Rows Joined!

Crikey, we’re already into February, and I now have three rows of my Sky Blanket joined.

I’m crocheting two yo-yos for each day – one for the morning, and one for the afternoon – and each row consists of 26 yo-yos (13 days, obviously), so tonight I was able to attach the third row.

I’ve managed to keep up to date daily, which isn’t hard, as each yo-yo only takes a couple of minutes to make, and each row is joined within about 20 minutes or so. I love how it’s looking so far! We’ve had several rainbows, a misty day, some spectacular sunrises and sunsets, rain, dark clouds, and blue skies, and we even had one day of snow, and a celestial event, so the array of colours looks rather striking.

The first yo-yo (fireworks for New Year) is noted with a stitch marker, to make sure I join subsequent rows at the right end. I’m looking forward to seeing this project develop, and as a new row is completed every thirteen days, I get to see quite a significant change fortnightly, which is rather lovely!


52 Things – Update

52 things in 52 weeksI’ll probably not do a monthly update on my 52 Things In 52 Weeks Challenge, but from time to time, I’ll post my progress on my list of challenges for the year.

Here we are at the end of January, and I have completed eight out of my 52 challenges:

2. Watch 5 films nominated for awards in the 88th Academy Awards
8. Apply to be a giver for World Book Night – waiting to hear if I’ve been selected this year – I hope I have!
9. Drink no alcohol for 4 weeks – easy, as I’m not a big drinker anyway
10. Eat no chocolate for 4 weeks  – difficult, as I’m a chocoholic!
18. Go to bed before midnight every night for a week – I’ve done this most nights in January!
22. Start a bullet journal – I don’t know how I managed before I started bullet journalling – it makes it so much easier to keep track of things!
34. Make a family photo book/album of last year’s (2015) pictures – and it’s gorgeous!
46. Donate a pint of blood – and I’m super proud about it – I’m even booked in to donate again in June!

I have quite a few ongoing ones doing well too:

1. Watch 52 films in 52 weeks (11 / 52)
5. Read 52 books in 52 weeks (4 / 52)
6. Do not buy any books for myself for a year, and read only books I already have, or have been given, or have borrowed from the library or others (4 / 52) – very proud of this, as it’s always tempting when I see books being sold cheaply!
7. Complete the Carole Matthews Challenge (1/30) – and in the middle of reading two more concurrently
17. Lose 14lbs (4 / 14) – on track for a steady rate of a pound per week
24. Save £1 for each day of the year (£39 / £366) – slightly ahead of the game here
25. Save £2 for each week of the year (£18 / £104) – and ahead of the game here to!
26. Save £5 for each month of the year (£5 / £60) – bang on track with this one
27. Split all my coppers between Tadpole’s and Choochie’s piggy banks each month (1/12)
28. Save all £2 coins into the Xmas fund each month (1/12)
29. Save all silver up to the value of 20p into the Xmas fund each month (1/12)
30. Put aside £1 for each challenge completed into Xmas fund (£8/£52)
35. Take the kids to the library once a month (1 / 12) – We’ve actually been twice in January!
38. Not shout at my kids for the whole year (31 / 366) – I’m REALLY proud of this one!
43. Share a photo of my kids and me each month (1 / 12)
47. Make a “Sky Blanket” – click to be taken to the page for this, which has links for all the updates
49. Make five gifts /Xmas decorations (3 / 5) – my best friend is having a baby soon, and I’ve been making things for her soon to be born son, as well as for craft exchanges
50. Release twelve new cross stitch charts (posted on Kincavel Krosses (2 / 12)

So, yeah, I’m happy with my progress, and hoping to complete all of them this year, although I haven’t yet managed to squeeze in an Analogue Day (#51), I may manage to have two in a subsequent month to make up for that.

Sky Blanket – joining subsequent rows

Last night I joined the second row of my Sky Blanket. I know a lot of people are waiting with bated breath for this post which will enable them to continue with their own yo-yo blankets, so here it is!

If you haven’t already started making a nice little pile of yo-yos, you’ll find how to make them HERE.

Once you have a bunch of yo-yos ready, you’ll want to join your first row, and you’ll find how to do that HERE.

You start off your second row the same way you did with your first:

1.) With your joining colour, join with a single crochet in any stitch on the first yo-yo. (chain 3, skip next stitch, single crochet in next stitch) three times. Chain 2, skip next stitch, half double crochet in next stitch.

12.) Pick up your second yo-yo. Half double crochet in any stitch. Chain 2, skip next stitch, single crochet in next stitch. (Chain 3, skip next stitch, single crochet in next stitch) twice, Chain 2, skip next stitch, half double crochet in next stitch. Attach the rest of the yo-yos in the row in the same way. When you get to the last yo-yo in the row, do the following:

3.) Attach the last yo-yo in the row with a half double crochet in any stitch. Chain 2, miss next stitch, single crochet in next stitch. (Chain 3, skip next stitch, single crochet in next stitch) four times to go round the edge of the last yo-yo. (Chain 1, hook through the adjacent chain 3 on the first yo-yo from the previous row, and join with a chain stitch, then chain 1, skip next stitch, and single crochet into next stitch) twice. Chain 2, half double crochet in the next stitch (the same stitch into which you did the half double crochet when joining the last yo-yo to the previous one in the row).

3AContinue along the row, connecting the yo-yos from the half double crochet join of the previous yo-yo.

All subsequent rows are connected in the same way.

As you can see, I now have two rows completed in my Sky Blanket:

2nd row joined


Blood and laughter

NHS-Blood-LogoEvery year, I put “Donate a pint of blood” on my list of 52 things in 52 weeks challenges, and every year, I don’t complete that challenge for one reason or another – either I’m pregnant, or breastfeeding, or I get a tattoo – but the main reason is this:

I’m terrified of needles.

It’s the truth – I’m incredibly squeamish about needles, and I can’t even watch an injection in a film, even though I know that it’s not even real on the screen – I have to turn away with my eyes screwed up tight-closed.

On Friday, I went to the library, and I saw a poster advertising a local blood drive today.

Last night, I went online and registered to donate blood, and then booked an appointment. I also told my Mam about it and begged her to come with me for moral support and hand-holding duties.

You see, both my parents got their gold awards giving blood, and my sister donates whenever she can (in between getting inked – you have to wait 4 months after getting a new tattoo), and I’ve always strongly believed it’s an important thing to do. I’ve been on the organ donor register since I was a teenager, and I’ve almost donated blood twice before, but bottled it at the last moment. That’s why I went public about my intentions this time – it makes it that much harder to back out! Plus, Mam promised to sit on me if I tried to escape.

I was more than a little nervous when I got there, but everyone was so nice to me, and they even managed to make me laugh and put me at my ease. Yes, the needle stung a little going in, but it wasn’t so bad, and just 4 minutes and 17 seconds later, I had donated my pint!

I’ll definitely do it again – in fact, I tried to book myself in for the next session right away, but I couldn’t because I wasn’t yet on the system. No bother – I’ll book online when it comes up – I already have the date in my diary!

And after all that blood, here’s a laugh for you all.

At lunchtime, we were telling jokes as we ate, and the kids had us both in fits of laughter. Bear in mind that Tadpole is seven years old, and Choochie is only 2 years old (this was his first ever attempt at joke telling!).

Tadpole: Knock, knock.
Us: Who’s there?
Tadpole: Banana.
Us: Banana who?
Tadpole: Banana.
Us: Banana who?
Tadpole: Banana.
Us: Banana who?
Tadpole: Orange you glad… Oh no! I gave away the ending!!!

Choochie: Knock, knock.
Us: Who’s there?
Choochie: Banana.
Us: Banana who?
Josh: Orange! Hahahahahaha!

If you’re in the UK and you’d like to donate blood and save a life, you can register at the website, and find out where and when your nearest donation venue is taking appointments HERE.



Sky blanket progress

I now have 22 yo-yos from eleven days, and I’m finally seeing a bit of colour creeping in.

Sky blanket yo-yos 2

  • 1st Jan: AM = fireworks / PM = rainy with thick light grey clouds
  • 2nd Jan: AM = rainy with thick, light grey clouds / PM = rainy with thick, light grey clouds
  • 3rd Jan: AM = heavy dark clouds and rain / PM = heavy dark clouds and rain
  • 4th Jan: AM = rainy with light grey clouds / PM = hint of blue sky
  • 5th Jan: AM = rainy with light grey clouds / PM heavy dark clouds and rain
  • 6th Jan: AM = dark grey clouds / PM = light grey clouds with heavy rain
  • 7th Jan: AM = dark grey clouds / PM = light grey clouds with heavy rain
  • 8th Jan: AM = light blue sky / PM = rainbow
  • 9th Jan: AM = dark grey clouds / PM = light grey clouds with heavy rain
  • 10th Jan: AM = light blue sky / PM = magnificent orange sunset
  • 11th Jan: AM = foggy / PM = bright blue sky followed by pale pink sunset

I’m particularly pleased with the blue-into-pink variegated yarn that I managed to work exactly into a half-and-half yo-yo. It’s nice to see something other than grey making an appearance!

In another two days, I will have enough yo-yos to start joining my first row of blanket, so look out for my how-to guide around then, if you’re using up all your little odds and ends of yarn to make a yo-yo blanket too!

The Sky Blanket Is Started!

I began making my Sky Blanket on Friday 1st January. I finally decided on making a yo-yo blanket with two yo-yos for each day one for morning and one for afternoon).

There are the first ten yo-yos:

Sky blanket yo-yos 1As you can see, we’ve had a lot of rain and cloudy skies. in fact, only two yo-yos so far have not been a shade of grey – one is the very first one, which represents the fireworks of new year, and one pale blue one, as we had a tiny bit of blue sky poking through the clouds yesterday afternoon.

As each row will have 26 yo-yos, I’ve decided to string them together to keep them in order till I have the right amount to join together in a row. The first one has a stitch marker hanging on it to remind me which is the start of the row, and I’ll keep doing this right the way through, so I don’t get muddled up.

In case anyone is wondering, each yo-yo is made like this:

  1. Chain 4, and join with a slip stitch to form a ring
  2. Chain 3 (first double crochet), and work 15 double crochets into the ring, then join with a slip stitch and fasten off (16 stitches)

When I get to joining them together, I’ll make a post detailing how to do that too.

Incidentally, this is a great way of using up little scraps of yarn left over from other projects. Whenever I have a little yarn left over from any project, I make as many yo-yos as I can from what’s left and pop them in a bag with all the others. When I have enough, I will start joining them to make a blanket, which I will then donate to Tadpole’s school as an item in their fundraising auction.

I made one once before, which I donated to a local cancer hospice charity that helped my Dad when he was undergoing treatment for prostate cancer a few years back. I loved how it looked and I’ve been itching to make another one since then, so now I’m actually making two at the same time. Each yo-yo only takes a minute or two to make, so it’s a great ongoing project for whenever I can grab a few minutes. I keep all my little yarn balls together in a bag with the 4mm hook I’m using for that project, and as it’s small, I can always grab it and pop it in my handbag if I think I’ll be waiting around for any reason while I’m out. And as I’m using all my yarn scraps, it’s almost like a recycling project – all those little bits of yarn that are way too small for any project on their own, or even for a row in a stripy scarf, are being put to good use.

The 52 Things Challenge starts again…!

52 things in 52 weeksWe’re almost at the end of the year, so it’s time to start thinking about my list of 52 Things in 52 Weeks!

I’ve posted my list already (you can see it HERE), but it will be subject to change until midnight (GMT) on 3st December, after which is will be fixed. A couple of items I’ve actually started early (i.e. I’ve already applied for World Book Night 2016, as applications have already opened, and I didn’t want to miss it!), but the majority of them will only be completed during the course of 2016.

I hope some of you will join me in this challenge, which I’ve now been doing annually since 2013 (yup, this is the fourth year running!). If you do, please go to the Challenge Page, and leave a link to your blog in the comments, because I’d love to see what you’re doing and how you get on with it!

And now, I’ll get back to the festive preparations…!

Sky Blanket – Preparation

sky blanket

You may have seen my information section, here on the blog, about the Sky Blanket I’m planning on making in 2016. If you’ve not seen it, please do click HERE and have a look – it will give you all the information.

Well, in order to start on 1st January, I’ve had to order my yarn in advance, so I can hit the ground running, as it were.

I’ve decided to make a yo-yo blanket (you can see a previous yoyo blanket I made HERE), with two yo-yos for each day – one for the morning, and one for the evening. That way I can incorporate such things as rainbows appearing, particularly stunning sunsets, or fireworks (for times like New Year and Bonfire Night). I may or may not also include some kind of charm or pretty beads for special occasions, such as birthdays and anniversaries, but I’ve not settled on that yet.

Anyway, with two yo-yos for each day, I will be making a whopping 728 of them (two days of the leap year won’t be included, as it will make for uneven rows), which will make up 28 rows of 26 yo-yos. It might seem like a tall order, but each yo-yo will only take a few minutes to create, making this a much quicker and easier project than it would be if I had to do an entire row or more ornate square for each day. It also means I’m more likely to be able to keep up to date!

The colours I have chosen to use are:

  • SKY BLANKETStylecraft Special DK – Aster (for clear, bright, sunshiny days)
  • Stylecraft Special DK – Cloud Blue (for blue sky peeking out between the clouds)
  • Stylecraft Special DK – Duck Egg (for misty, drizzy days)
  • Stylecraft Special DK – Gray (for heavy cloud and pouring rain)
  • Stylecraft Special DK -White (for snow, and also for joining all the yoyos together)
  • Rico Fashion Pixel (DK) – Neon Black (for fireworks)
  • Patons Fab Print DK 100g – Rio Colour (for rainbows)
  • King Cole Splash DK – Sunshine (for spectacular sunsets)

Obviously, I’ll not be starting until 1st January, but I can hardly wait to get stuck in! Fortunately, in the meantime, I have plenty of festive gift projects with which to occupy my time!

I’ll make occasional progress posts as I work on my Sky Blanket, so I hope you’ll pop back every now and then to see how it looks!