Monday, 27 August 2012

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Do you believe that at my age I'd never read Rebecca? A couple of people I mentioned it to were surprised, but I reckoned it's never too late to put things right - so I read it. And what a delight! This book is just wonderful. I was worried that it was going to be a bit stuffy and old fashioned, with it having been written in the 1930s. I thought it wouldn't have the 19th century charm of Jane Eyre or Little Women, nor the excitement of more modern literature. But I hadn't expected the way it totally took me into the narrator's thoughts, willing her to do or not to do things, or feeling such pain, or relief, on her behalf.

The story is told in the first person by the narrator, whose name we never learn, a young woman whose parents have both died and has no other family, and is employed as a "companion" to an American woman, Mrs Van Hopper, who is travelling in Europe. The narrator is naive and a bit clumsy, she hates her job. At 21 years old, she can't stand having to entertain Mrs Van Hopper's boring friends.  But the two women meet Max de Winter, an English widower, who happens to be staying at the same hotel in Monte Carlo. When Mrs Van Hopper is taken ill, the narrator has more time on her hands, and accepts Mr. de Winter's offer to go for a drive. Their relationship quickly blossoms, and when it is time for Mrs Van Hopper and the narrator to move back to the States, Max de Winter proposes to the young woman who is half his age, they marry and travel in the Mediterranean before going back to Manderley, his huge English mansion that has so many reminders of his dead wife, Rebecca. The housekeeper, Mrs Danvers, will not let anyone forget what a wonderful woman Rebecca was. But maybe things are not quite what they seem...

Daphne du Maurier tells a gripping story. Her characters are fascinating, and the final twist takes you totally by surprise. A pearl of a book.

This is the first book review on my blog. One of my birthday resolutions was to keep track of the books I read, and this is the first book I've finished since then. By writing them on my blog I'll be able to keep track, and you'll be able to read the reviews, and maybe enjoy reading some of the books too.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Sammy snake finger puppet free pattern

I've made this little finger puppet several times, so decided to (at last!) write up the pattern and share it here.

For this, and all of my patterns, please respect my designer rights and do not claim this pattern as your own. You are free to use the pattern to make, give and sell toys but please credit me as the designer. If you want to share this pattern, please do not reproduce it on your site, but link back to Thank you!

This is the IDEAL last-minute little gift for the small children in your life. It is really quick and easy to make with a tiny amount of yarn, and kids love it! I've offered it to all ages from three to seven, and they all had great fun with their little snake. It works best with worsted/aran yarn, though I've also used DK with success.  The DK yarn makes a smaller snake, but it still fits tiny fingers. The eyes are embroidered, and for the tongue you can either choose the easy option, as I did, just by pulling through the tail of yarn, from the wrong side, or you can use felt, and if you're feeling adventurous, you can crochet a tongue  using embroidery thread. The pattern for the tongue is down below, at the botton of this post. Have fun, ssssssssssss.

You will need:

A small amount of yarn
A crochet hook that corresponds to your yarn (I used a 4mm hook with aran, or a 3.5mm hook with DK)
Embroidery thread for the eyes
(optional) Red or pink felt or embroidery thread for the tongue

The pattern for the crochet tongue can be found below the main pattern.

Row 1 - make a magic circle with 5sc
Row 2 - 2sc in each st (10)
Row 3 - sc around (10)
Row 4 - [1sc in next st, 2sc in next st], continue around (15)
Row 5 - [1sc in next st, 2sctog], continue around (10)
Row 6 - sc around (10)
Row 7- [1sc in next 3 sts, sc2tog] twice (8)
Row 8-10 - turn. sc in same st, sc in next 5sts (6)
Row 10 - turn, sc in 6 sts, 2ch
Now you continute to work in rounds again.

Row 11 - 1sc in 6sts, 2sc in 2 ch sp
Row 12-13 - 1 sc around (8)
Row 14 - sc2tog, sc to end (7)
Row 14-15 - sc around (7)
Row 16 - 1sc in 5 sts, sc2tog (6)
Row 17-19 - sc around (6)
Row 20 - sc2tog x 3
Fasten off and pull end to the inside of the snake, trim ends.

Embroider the eyes, then make the tongue by pulling the beginning thread through to the right side and trimming it to tongue size. Or by cutting out a piece of felt, pulling the end through the middle of the magic ring, and sewing securely in place. Otherwise, you can make a tongue from embroidery thread, as follows:

Snake tongue

You will need:

Red or pink embroidery thread (or another colour if you feel like it)
a small crochet hook (I used a 1.75mm hook)

ch 9
1 ss in 2nd ch from hook, 1 ss in next 2 ch
ch 4
1 ss in 2nd ch from hook, ss to end. Fasten off and knot the ends. Pull the end through the middle of the magic ring, and sewing securly in place.

Please let me know if you find any mistakes in the pattern, or if anything is not clear and I will make corrections. If you make any cute snakes, feel free to share them on our flickr group.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Teddy rattles sneak preview

I recently ordered some rattle inserts to add to my toys, and I decided to make some proper baby rattles with a handle for baby to grab and shake. Being a fan of teddies, of course, I've made a teddy rattle, based on the chubby teddy and teddy doudou patterns. I'm still busy testing the pattern, but I wanted to give you a sneak preview of this quick, easy project. I love making them I hope you will too! Keep your eye out for the pattern, hopefully in the next day or two.

I must apologise for being a bit quiet on the blogging side, but don't think I've been here sitting around doing nothing. I've been very busy thinking up new patterns, testing and trying out some new ideas. You might also have noticed that the blog has changed a bit. I've added links to my new facebook page and the flickr group (please join in!). I'm also busy grouping the free patterns and recipes on new pages (not quite finished that yet).  I'm removing some links that weren't really very successful, and have altered the layout of the blog. All of this is work in progress and I would love to get your feedback. If you have any more ideas about how I can improve the blog, please let me know.

Bye for now!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Happy Birthday to me!

Hello there! So, so sorry I've not been around for... almost two weeks. I'm back at last, and while I was away from my blog, lots of things have happened.

First of all I had a Very Important Birthday. I cannot believe I'm 50 years old. Eeek! How did that happen? Watch out, girls, those years seem to sneak up without us even noticing. Yes I do have a painful knee, the odd wrinkle and my body shape isn't quite what it used to be. But inside, I still feel exactly the same as I did when I was 25. And look what I got for my birthday. A new order of Debbie Bliss yarn from Alba Yarns, and, in the middle of it, what can you see? Yay, a brand new shiny camera! I love it! I've had my old camera since 2004 (yes, that's a pretty old camera). The old one, a Sony DSC-P100 is a great camera. All the photos on my blog (including the photo above) were taken with that old 2004 Sony. But somehow a little piece of lint or thread (or yarn?) managed to get inside the lense, so some of my photos were spoilt with a grey blur. I knew that technology has improved a lot since 2004 so I was ever so pleased to receive this little beauty. It's a Panasonic GF3, part of the Lumix range. Of course I had to try it out, so I went to our local market where there are lots of colours:

Our market is very expensive!

Mmmm, fresh fish

Photogenic radishes

Summer soft fruit

Lovely summer colours
I took the photos early in the morning, and before I left home I also took these two:

The view from our balcony - hay making :)

New strawberry flowers
I'm so pleased that my strawberry plants are in flower again. The first harvest was rather disappointing because they were so waterlogged! We'd had loads and loads of rain and hardly any sunshine. But this time around, the sun has been shining and my strawberry plants are happy.

I've also been putting that new yarn to good use, but more of that next time :)

Bye for now, hoping you are healthy and happy :)