Proud Colours and Improvisations

My latest pieces are for organisations calling for things to be made in colours of Indigenous Australia.   I really enjoyed making these and feeling the strength coming from them. Symbolic colours have an amazing, wonderful power.

There were a few new exercises I set for myself with this project:  getting a straight treble-row square right (I’ve never quite managed to keep edges straight), trying a mitre square pattern, and making my first hat.

The hat was a nice easy pattern I found on Ravelry for a simple beret.  It was quite ok doing increases and decreases, the only thing I could say was that I found it a bit boring going round and round – I think I prefer centre starting squares because then at least you have the variety of corners!

Now one of the things I naughtily like to do in crochet is cheat.  Improvisation is part of my working style and it’s great when you invent a solution out of thin air, and crochet is great for that!  I reckon most probably unpick mistakes, which I do sometimes.  But most of the time I’m too reckless for that.  It means I have to then go back and try to salvage the work, like I did with my thrifty square.

So when I looked at my finished beret I thought it might look nice with an extra row of black.  I mucked in and made up a stitch weaving in and out of the already existing work.  This probably has a proper name and all, but in my inexperienced world, this is what I made up.

My first mitre turned out a bit wonky.  I didn’t really go back and check I’d followed the pattern right at the beginning corner, I just kept going.  Well the price I paid was an uneven square.

I managed to fix it by adding on and taking off a little here and there.   Against the rules but it worked!

And here is my square in straight treble rows.  Only I didn’t cast on (can that term be used for crochet??) enough so it turned out to be a rectangle.  Somehow I still didn’t master the edges that well.   

So I meddled with it some more, adding edges until it grew to the size specification.  

I actually like this one the best.  I find these pieces far more individual and quirky than others, more akin to a darn than a square sitting in a stack.  I hope it brings something lively to a blanket of standard squares.

One day if I take on amigurumi, I will get caught out badly.   But that’s ok because I’m never going to make anything that twee - yet. 

Mixing it up

With crochet going on in the background, there’s some other making to be had!

That darning pile gets bigger by the day, especially knowing that I can do it now.  But as it is more chore and less leisure, it doesn’t seem to get done so readily.  Anyway, my trusty backpack got done as a matter of urgency.

With summer coming, it’s time to move off the hot porridge.  And nothing’s better than muesli put together yourself.   A cooler day let me put my oven on to roast some hazelnuts and almonds.

After they are roasted and cooled, I gently knock them with the mortar and pestle to break them down into smaller pieces, without pulverizing them to let the good oil escape.

Then I like to throw in anything and everything from the pantry:  ground spices, (today cinnamon) sesame seeds, linseed, currants, goji berries.

For the base, I buy up any kinds of rolled grains I can get my hands on: oats, barley, rice, rye, kamut… whatever is available in the shop.  I might also get some special goodies just for the next melange.  This time I got some Iranian figs.   I added the dried kumquat for extra zest.

Mix it all together and there you can recognise what is known as muesli.  Only your home-pantry version so much more delicious and satisfying.  It’s the only way to know for sure there really is no added sugar!

Well speaking of those kumquats, here they are as a beautiful tangy - caramelly marmalade

      ...lovingly brewed up by my DS (who by the way, knits some gorgeous jumpers!)

So back to the topic of mixes.  I decided to have a go at making some furikake (savoury sprinkles to have with rice).  My first ingredient, once again courtesy of my mum’s waste-not drying trays, was some shiso (perilla frutescens) from last year’s harvest.

To this I simply added toasted sesame and sunflower seeds, and some sea salt.  Delicious!

I decided to get on this drying bandwagon and made some sun-dried grated carrot. 
This will add more colour and a little sweetness to the next serving.

It’s all so rewarding (and better tasting) when you stay with the basics and concoct your own.

More Stashes

I had a very busy morning recently getting things ready for the post office. 
At first I was frustrated by how time consuming it was becoming.   Finding the right sized brown paper from an old bag, and which box to use

and where was that other old packaging I stored away for re-use?

Then in a magic moment, I became calm.  The feel of the crisp brown paper as it folded, the sound of the blade slitting slowly and evenly, wrapping and creasing around the box to fit snug.  I tied the parcel with twine and wondered what tricks people had to put their finger on the half-knot, when there wasn’t someone there to do it.  Crossing the twine over itself, twist, neat even squares, round two directions of a box, dissected by the pattern of the string that is holding it secure.  I felt very satisfied making up a parcel the old fashioned way.  Something so lovely in the symmetry and basic materials.

There was, some time ago, an abundant harvest of kumquats

and so my mum gave me some that she had sliced up and sun-dried.

I liked the way they curled into the glass jars, preserved and pungent for a rainy day.

I do love my glass jars.

What rainy day?  How will it ever be consumed?  The act of non-waste, use at any cost – yes, I really did inherit it.  My parents are of that war-experienced generation and are great hoarders.  So this week I also inherited a stash of “woollens for felting”.

And silks.

 Some of it was beyond belief that anyone could hang on to something so broken.

 But those holes did have a certain intriguing pattern.

Well felting is a whole other technique I have to take on one day, so into a new stash it will go.  Stay tuned for the felting post!

Working without a Pattern

This month I’ve been trying out some different things, which is leading me up another new path.

I could not resist reaching for the crochet hook when one day, I was given a key to use.  Quite lonesome it was, this little key.  So I decided to crochet a keyring and then leave it as a gift for the key’s owner.  I got hold of some scraps and just wove round till I got a little something.  Then the thought occurred to me to add a bit of colour.  That small idea and seeing it come to life with a pleasing aesthetic sets off a tiny spark of energy.  This is creativity.

I also made a big black granny square.  I wondered about it being too ominous.  But since finishing, I like it for its refusal of colour, its rebel gothness, a dark black web.

And that lovely woollen htc solid square brought so much joy that I thought of making it all over again.  However this time I needed to make a larger size and speed up a bit.  So why not try doing the same thing using trebles instead?  I went for it and it’s turning out just fine.

Not using patterns, plucking ideas out of thin air.  Making things that I’ve never seen nor read about anywhere.  It’s lots of fun.