Big Garden Bird Watch 2016

Did you know that more than half a million people are taking part in the ‘Big Garden Bird Watch’ this weekend?

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The RSBP website has all the details of how to take part, just click on the link at the bottom if the post.

This annual event in the UK run by the RSPB tracks what bird species are seen in your garden over the weekend.

Statistics show that Starlings and Song Thrushes in particular have declined by around 70% or 80% since the event started in 1979.

December 2015 was both the warmest and wettest month in the UK for more than 100 years. This means you are unlikely to see many birds in your garden as they become less reliant on bird feeders, because milder weather means more food available out in the countryside.

We have feeders in our garden, and I must say we see many many birds using them including finches, robins, blue tits, starlings, black birds, doves, wood pigeons and plenty a magpie and crow. We even have a sneaky squirrel who is pretty fond of the nuts and suet balls!!

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Our sneaky squirrel caught on camera!

You can still get involved. Just visit the RSPB website and register here

Friday FO: Tryghed Hat

I love hats. I mean I really LOVE hats! They make the best projects when you are looking for something portable that will knit up relatively quickly.  I have knit a lot of hats too. Some for gifts and some for myself. In the winter time I think its essential to always have a hat to hand. If your head is warm then your heart is warm!

Once of my favourite hats at the moment is my Tryghed.

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Designed by Karie Westermann this hat is stunning! The word Tryghed is Danish for “feeling safe, secure and comfortable”, and this hat certainly makes you feel comfortable. The hat is made with one skein so its a great project for stash busting.

Karie’s pattern version was made using a rustic worsted weight yarn and after a stash dive I opted to use Malabrigo Rios in ‘Ivy’.  I made mine into a beanie style with a brown pompom on top but Karie says you can choose to block it out as a semi-beret too (as shown in the pattern image). To finish mine off I added a pompom to top.

I absolutely love the simplicity of the design using a rib pattern that converges at the crown, making it a pretty cosy fit and definitely great for this time of year with all the cold and wet winter days.

If you’d like to make your own Tryghed you can buy on ravelry here

What handmade knits are you wearing this winter?

Confessions of a Knitter

Okay so I have a confession to make.  I have become seriously addicted to crochet and I never thought I’d say that either!

I’ve been a knitter for many many years.  But I have always had a desire to learn to crochet. However, I have never been able to pick up this skill…until now that is.

Like some knitters I was very anti-crochet for a long time – but secretly this is really because we just can’t get the hang of it (our brains don’t compute the one hook versus ther two needles), and we don’t want to admit that out loud.

I attended a class once with a very experienced crocheter who I must admit I did not take to at all. Her teaching technique included wacking me on the head. Seriously!! …and I’m not talking 1900 times either this was only in 2014. It was done once and I was not impressed at all. You don’t expect to pay to get whacked on the head during a class. Even if it was meant as a joke it was highly inappropriate.  So I’m sure you won’t be surprised to know that I didn’t go back.

But even after this bad experience I still had a desire to learn. So I started to look online (thank goodness for the Internet!!) and watch YouTube videos and practice my heart out.

The biggest challenge I found was the terminology – British terms versus American terms. But with lots of practice…and I do mean lots and lots of practice, I slowly started to grasp the basic stitches.

I started granny stripes. Then I moved to granny squares. Then I decided to jump into making a blanket. Yes a blanket, though just a very simple granny stripe blanket.

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An oportunity to stashdown was too good to miss so I dug out all the leftover DK yarns and started, randomly picking colours. Round and round I went, each granny square stripe made the blanket grow and grow. To the point where I was using almost a full 50g ball of yarn a stripe.

So on my fourth blanket now and I’ve decided to jump the next step on my crochet adventure and make some small granny squares in different colours and add these around the edge of this one.

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Okay so this doesn’t sound like such a great leap, but to a beginner crocheter this is huge. Mega in fact!! Making a small granny square X 42 was grand but figuring out how to attach them to the main blanket was not. Thank goodness for the Internet. I used YouTube videos to help me get the hang of it – I’m a visual learner so this is perfect for my learning style.

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Initially I decided to add a pale pink border around all the stripes joining them as I went, with the plan to add them once I had a long stripe side joined. But after a few were joined I decided didn’t like the pink colour against the main blanket. So I ripped. And actually that’s not that bad. Very quick to rip and crochet is very quick to make again once you know how…much faster than knitting!

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So I decided to add each square on individually as I went. But the next issue I had was millions of ends – what I didn’t know now at the time was you could hide them as you go – that’s for the next blanket!!

So for now I have made a blanket about a metre square. Crochet rocks! I’m planning to keep going, in fact I’m considering another mini square border. What do you think? Do you crochet? Have you any tips to share? What you working on?

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