Builders, Blankets and Bower Bird 2.

I love the fact that we live in a small and cosy open living space, more like a cabin than a house; it suits our lifestyle so well. The only problem is that when the house is full of busy builders, there is nowhere to hide! The weather has done one of its spectacular Asturian turnabouts this week and we have enjoyed brilliant blue skies, sunshine and temperatures up in the thirties so I’ve been quite happy to escape outside. I’ve been going for a run as early as possible while the air is still relatively cool, then working in the garden for as long as it has some amount of shade.

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Midday and there is just a little bit of shade left above the stone wall . . . almost time to move out of the garden.

Once the sun is up over the mountain, though, the heat builds quickly so in the afternoons I’ve set up a yarn workshop under the sunbrella and turned my attention to woolly things. (By the way, the sooty, dusty, rubbly situation is so bad in the house that I’ve been storing all my yarn projects – along with our bedding – in the car to keep them safe and clean!) I started by finishing the baby blankets, adding two more rounds of border to the Harmony Square blanket, giving it a depth of colour that finished it off beautifully.

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I love this blanket, it is such a pretty design. I’ve even found myself mulling over the possibility of making one as a double bed cover for our guest bedroom (now that’s a lovely thought – a guest bedroom . . . ). Mmm, it would be a huge project. I’ll let that one roll round my mind for a while.

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I worked 40 bands of colour in the ripple blanket; this made it the same size as the rainbow ripple blanket and also meant I only used the combinations of pink twice rather than three times. I’m trying to keep my projects gender neutral and although the pinks bring a lovely old-fashioned sweet pea feeling to the blankets, I don’t want to over-sugar them as Babi Tachwedd could well be a little boy. I did feel the border needed to be a little softer than on the rainbow blanket, so I worked a round of treble crochet in Turquoise, then a round each of double crochet in Lavender and Parma Violet. So here they are, all finished and ready to keep a precious November baby warm and snug.

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Time to  move on to a bower bird. Yippee! I had so much fun making the last one so it was pure pleasure to find Lucy’s wonderful pattern once again and get stuck in. Attic 24 Bower Bird Pattern The first decision to make was all about colour. I played around with ideas and decided all the greens and most of the blues would be perfect for the bower. (Note: the soft bluey effect of these photos is a result of everything being under the brolly, not me trying to get arty with the new camera!)

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Bearing in mind my thoughts on pink above, I felt that purples would be the best choice for the bird: the darker Violet shade for the main body teamed with Parma Violet for the wings and tail.

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This pattern is so clever: I love the way a spiral becomes a circle that becomes a hexagon.

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Actually, at this point I realised I had got so carried away in my excitement that I was using the wrong sized crochet hook, whizzing around on a 4mm hook when last time (following the pattern to the letter) I’d used 3.5mm. Never mind, let’s see how it goes; I felt far too hot to think about climbing up into the horreo to hunt out the smaller hook and starting all over again. With the final round worked in the contrasting colour, the basic body was soon done.

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Time to add a tail and beak. When I made my rainbow bower bird, the bright Citron yellow seemed the perfect compliment to the red and orange of the bird’s body but I felt it would be a bit harsh and something softer was needed with this new colour scheme. Cue a quick little foray into the back of the car and a rummage in my baskets: perhaps the Camel yarn in my Coast blanket pack would do the job?

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Underparts next, then the part I really love – adding little bits of embroidery which gives the finished bird such a lovely crafty homely feel. I stuck mostly with blues and greens, just adding a splash of Raspberry in the lazy daisy.

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Day 2 in Bird World. The weather had cooled a little, low misty clouds clung to the mountain tops and the valley echoed with the sound of the tiles coming off our roof. It was supposed to be the day when the ceiling panels (known as ‘sandwich’) went up in the house to make us snug and safe from the elements but there was a distinct lack of any sandwich delivery in sight and the roof appeared to be coming off instead. Having finished my duties as electrician’s mate (highly technical stuff on my part, turning switches on and off as required), I headed out after lunch for some more yarn therapy. Luckily, I had remembered to extricate my sewing basket from the general mayhem of piled-up-or-hidden-away stuff in the house before the builders had started so I would have the black embroidery thread I needed to make little beady French knot eyes. Unluckily, when I opened my basket it wasn’t there. Not a good time to remember it was tidied away with some woolly stuff – along with the toy stuffing I needed – in the horreo. No question of climbing up there, the path was blocked with piles of tile and slate and given the speed at which things were flying off the roof I decided maybe another activity elsewhere was a safer plan. I did manage to sneak in a couple of bonus ripples on my Coast blanket, though, while a lorry load of the long-awaited sandwich was being delivered.

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So to Day 3, which began with our two builders lowering themselves into the house through a hole in the roof like Spiderman and his sidekick. I sometimes wonder if my life can become any more surreal and it seems that it can.

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Who needs a front door?

As this was going to be Major Sandwich Day, outdoors was looking good and I enjoyed a very busy morning in the garden. The flowers are all looking so cottagey and pretty and I feel they need a lot of daily inspection! I’m really chuffed with this rather beautiful cleome.

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This is a flower I’ve admired from afar for years; they are very popular in public floral displays in France, but I’ve never grown them until now. They have gone so well from seed  I bought from Moreveg, I shall definitely be planting again next year. Anyway, back to the serious end of gardening and it was time to lift the potatoes. As Roger had cleared the path so we could store them in the horreo – which meant I could retrieve my bits and pieces – the way was clear for a bit more post-lunch bird business. First, some eyes followed by the sewing up and stuffing part: suddenly, there was my little bird!

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I love the cheerful sun that hangs above my rainbow bower bird but, as with the beak, I didn’t feel the colours would work with this project. A hanging heart seemed far more in keeping and if I used stronger shades – Violet and Raspberry – I could avoid it looking too mushy. A quick trip back to the horreo for my bag of haberdashery bits and I was delighted to find I still had some tiny lilac heart-shaped buttons I cut off an old pair of pyjamas years ago; these would make a perfect decoration in the centre of the heart and also add a bit of extra weight. At this point it occurred to me that a pair of bower birds in the right colours would make a lovely wedding gift and when I spotted a length of lace in my bits and bobs left over from making Vicky’s wedding dress, I couldn’t resist a silly moment with the camera.

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Bridal bird!

Oh go on, indulge me! It was our wedding anniversary, after all – or maybe all the dust I’ve been breathing in the last week has totally addled my brain.

It fascinates me the way projects based on the same pattern or ideas can evolve in such different ways. When it came to choosing colours for the bower (I’m going with my electric cable idea again) I found myself rapidly backtracking from all those blues and greens. Somehow this feels like a ‘less is more’ project so I’ve decided to stick to just three colours – Aster, Storm Blue and Petrol – worked in equal bands of double crochet.

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Apart from anything else, that will give me the option of using blue for flowers (and a butterfly?) and a wider choice of leaf colours when it comes to working the little enhancements.  At this point, rubble began to fly off the roof in an alarming fashion once again: time to take cover, little bird.

To be continued . . . 🙂

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