Leaving on a jet plane

… except I do know when I’ll be back!

We waved goodbye to this gorgeous duo before 6.30 this morning and headed to the airport. As I write this we are at 38000 feet heading south west and we’re off the coast of Canada, near somewhere called Goose Bay (when I say near, obviously I mean 38000 feet above it). We’ve travelled 2200 miles and we have 2833 miles to go. It’s -50 outside. Toasty in here though.

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Obviously I’m not going to be able to post this until I get to somewhere with WiFi, but I thought I’d help pass the time by documenting the day so far. We’re on a Boeing 787, otherwise known as a Dreamliner. This is Boeing’s newest addition to their range, and, if I’m not wrong, was recently the first plane to fly non-stop to Australia from the UK.

You can tell it’s new. It’s fancy pants! The windows have a button that adjusts the tint in the glass so it’s either completely transparent, completely opaque, or anywhere in between. None of the old window shutters that you normally get on a plane.

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When we got on, the windows were all normal transparent glass but after we took off the crew activated the ambient lighting which is supposed to replicate the conditions in the time zone that you’re flying to, which allegedly reduces jet lag, so now the windows are semi-opaque. I never really get jet lag when flying west, so we’ll see what effect it has on the return journey (not that I’m thinking about that yet!)

When they activated the ambient lighting, all the lights down the ceiling of the plane changed colour. I was too busy marvelling at it and forgot to take a photo, but hopefully they’ll do it again so I can show you (update – they didn’t!)

Seatback screens are nothing new for anyone who’s flown long haul on a decent airline, but I don’t recall them having USB slots before. Fab! No need to worry about how much candy crush I play then, I can just charge my phone if need be.

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So far we’ve done quite a bit of eating (which is fine because calories don’t count up here, right?) We had breakfast in Wetherspoons at Birmingham airport (once we’d found a seat that is! Very busy airport this morning).

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Apparently it was lunchtime a while ago (I have no idea, what with being up at the crack of dawn and all this ambient lighting business) so we were served a meal. I know lots of people don’t like aeroplane food, but I really like it.

We had chicken in tarragon sauce with roast potatoes, broccoli and carrots with a bread roll. Then we had cheese and crackers and a chocolate orange ganache dessert. Yum!

Apparently we’ve been flying for four hours and thirty four minutes, and in that time I’ve been luxuriously unproductive! Lots of procrastination, faffing and generally doing entirely what I want while not having to organise, remember or be reliable. That, while I’m here, is someone else’s job, and they are welcome to it!

I have started to crochet a gift for my new baby niece who is currently incubating in utero.

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I have candy crushed all my lives several times (including changing the time to trick it into giving me more!) Level 2518 completed! (Update: levels 2519, 2520 and 2521 also completed). I’ve played a million games of traffic rush. I’m sure my high score used to be 287, but it appears to have forgotten that, so I was determined to beat 200 before I stopped.

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What else to do now? I have Red magazine from ages ago that I hadn’t got round to reading. It has Keeley Hawes on the front and I’m interested to see what she has to say about the Bodyguard (update: nothing about the Bodyguard but she seems lovely).

I have Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine to read, which my best friend bought me for my birthday. I’m looking forward to this – I never read actual books anymore, unless they’re non-fiction with pictures that don’t translate well to my kindle, and this is an actual book, with pages and everything. I find the kindle easier normally because I do most of my reading before I go to sleep when I like to turn the light off to ease my eyes, so a book’s no good and also, there’s a very real risk of dropping an actual book on your face when reading lying down, and that hurts and you feel a bit silly if your husband sees! I’m going to have plenty of time and opportunity for actual book reading over the next week though. What bliss!

There’s always more eating to be done too. Apparently we get afternoon tea later! (Update: we did!)

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Think I’ll get on with some more completely unproductive things now.

We flew out over Ireland, under Iceland and down the east coast of the states. This, believe it or not, is Cape Canaveral. You can see the Assembly Building (largest single storey building in the world) if you look close enough.

It’s funny how you look on the map and think, how have we got another four hours to go, it’s only a couple of inches on the map. Then you realise those couple of inches actually constitute the entire east coast of America! America is BIG!

So as you can tell by the fact that this is published, we have now arrived. Completely exhausted but happy.

Our bags got randomly searched at the airport. The guy seemed to find my wool strangely amusing and was utterly bemused by the copious amounts of Fisherman’s Friends that hubby has (he uses them as an anti-smoking aid).

Haven’t seen much of the hotel yet but our room is lovely (and huge!)

And it has optics!!

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This could be dangerous!

And this is the view from the balcony.

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We’ve already seen a capybara in the grounds. No photo unfortunately but I have a week to remedy that. We can hear parrots outside and there are, allegedly, coatis roaming around.

Not sure if we’ll do much exploring tonight. It’s not 6pm yet here, but our bodies think it’s 11pm and we were up at 5.30am so I think bed may win over exploring.

September Little Box of Crochet

Good evening all!

I’m just quickly checking in because I’ve finally finished September’s Little Box of Crochet which I told you about here.

Oh my goodness I found this one hard, and it took a good deal of grit and determination not to have a hissy, stampy feet fit and give up!

As a quick reminder, September’s project was Gareth the Sleeping Fox.

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Gareth is crocheted entirely in waistcoat stitch which is how he got his name. Gareth Southgate, England Manager, became one of the most talked about men in the country when he dressed so snappily during every game that England played at the World Cup, always including a waistcoat.

I’d never heard of waistcoat stitch before I received my box, much less attempted it. Having googled it, I’ve discovered that it’s often called knit stitch, and it really does look like knitting rather than crochet.

The effect is achieved by inserting the hook in a different part of the stitch to normal crocheting. For any crocheters out there I’ve tried to illustrate the difference in the following photos.

The arrow on the first photo is pointing to where you insert the hook to create waistcoat stitch, right in the v of the knit like stitch. On the second photo the arrow points to the very top of the stitch and this is where the hook goes in regular crochet.

You wouldn’t think this would make much difference to the actual crocheting, but gosh it did! I almost had to resort to using a thimble because it’s so much harder to push the hook through.

Anyway. Enough of that. On to Gareth!

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Here are all his body parts before they were foxed up!

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Tail and body now attached.

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Slightly out of focus. Whoops! Foxy face stitched on.

…… and, drumroll!

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Rubbish lighting! Couldn’t decide whether he looked best with the flash, without the flash or just with the big light on! I had to go rootling around in the garden with the torch on my phone to find some nice leaves for staging purposes! Quite creepy I have to say with ghosts and ghouls still lurking around the corner from Halloween and fireworks banging around me! The things I do to try and get a good photo!

I can see a couple of little errors on the Fairisle parts (the bits with white and orange together) but on the whole I’m pleased with how he’s turned out and I’m glad I persevered.

I can’t say I’ll be rushing to do waistcoat stitch again, but I’m happy that I mastered it and have an extra string to my crocheting bow. I might find it easier using acrylic yarn since it’s not as rigid as cotton, but the downside to that is that the stitches wouldn’t look as defined.

So, onwards and upwards to October’s box and another new technique – Tunisian crochet. This one’s coming on holiday with me in four days, twelve hours, five minutes and forty two seconds. Forty one … forty … thirty nine … thirty eight …

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Fantastic Mr Fox

It struck me yesterday that there’s quite a lot of foxy business going on in our house at the moment, but a lot less going on in the garden.

I told you a while ago about our fox pooping problem in the garden. Well that seems to have stopped, which is good for our garden but potentially not good for the fox! I googled the life span of a wild fox, and it doesn’t make for happy reading. Although in captivity foxes have a similar life span to their domestic counterparts, in the wild foxes only live for two to five years. It’s a hard life out there, they have to contend with disease, parasites and predators (which in the UK is pretty much us with our cars and chemicals).

I’ll be quite happy if I see the fox again (even if it does mean picking up fox poo) but if, as I suspect, our fox is one of these cubs that were born in our garden a couple of years ago, then he will have reached the lower end of his life expectancy. I’ll think positive: he didn’t look diseased or parasitic and I never saw him roadside, so maybe he’s just gone to poo elsewhere!

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Inside our house it’s a different story. I have a crochet drumroll moment for you coming up.

I’ve been working on a Christmas gift for my mother-in-law for a few weeks. She has a fox that visits her garden that she feeds every day so when I bought this book by Sarah Zimmerman ….

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….. and saw the fox motif, I knew I had to make it for her. This was my first experience of corner to corner (c2c) crochet, and I have to say, while I love the finished project, I didn’t love the process. In order to get the different colours in the right place you end up having lots of different little balls of yarn attached to your work which get tangled up as you crochet and turn your piece.

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I do love the effect when it’s finished though. I think it makes all the detangling and rude words worth it!

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Here’s the motif finished. I decided to make it into a cushion with a stripy back. The stripy c2c was much less faffy than the fox because the colour changes were much less frequent.

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You can see my lovely new clover hook had arrived by this point. This hook practically glides through my work with no snagged yarn and very few dropped stitches. I’ve since ordered lots more sizes so I’m never without a clover hook.

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Anyway, back to the foxes.

Time for the drumroll moment …….

Whoop! Not even into November and I have one Christmas present sorted already!

Now you may think one fox is enough for one house, but not this one. My Little Box of Crochet for September arrived on my birthday (what impeccable timing). Obviously I opened it straight away to drool over the scrummy contents, but I was very disciplined and didn’t start it until after I’d finished the cushion. Look at the box.

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Gives you a good clue to what the project might be, and I’ve also given you an extra hint with our foxy tray behind. 

Here’s the fox himself on the cover of the pattern booklet.

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As ever, the box is crammed full of everything needed to make Gareth the Sleeping Fox as well as some super cute extra gifts.

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There’s a foxy stitch marker which is needed to keep track of your rounds with this project. This was designed by Beth from Koruclay. You can find Koruclay on Facebook, Etsy and Instagram if you’d like to have a quick peek at the goodies.

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And some gorgeous little chicken buttons by incomparable buttons, who are also on Etsy.

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This beautiful, and so so useful tape measure is in perfect keeping with the theme. I told you about the tape measure before here, but here it is again in all its wonderfulness.

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Little Box of Crochet always includes a postcard. This one is designed by Jennie Maizels.

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I’d love to know what other Little Box of Crochet subscribers do with their postcards. They’re far too lovely to actually send (or is that really selfish of me?) I feel I should display them somehow because they’re sooooo pretty.

This project uses waistcoat stitch which I’ve never done before. I started it last night and, oh my goodness, I found waistcoat stitch difficult. I just couldn’t see where my hook was supposed to go, but after frogging my work a hundred times, I think I cracked it, although it doesn’t look perfect!

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I really like it, it looks like knitting. In fact, one of the tutorials I found on YouTube called it knit stitch.

I should probably explain frogging for non-crochet people. It’s a fairly new word to me, and I have to admit I thought it sounded a tiny bit rude and had to google it to reassure myself that the crochet world hadn’t lost its collective marbles, but I get it now I know what it means. I’m sure it wasn’t around before I took my kitten enforced crochet hiatus. It comes from the frog sound ribbit, ribbit. It sounds like rip it, rip it which is essentially what you do when you undo your crocheting.

Well, I think that’s all I have to say about foxes for now. I’ll be sure to show you all my finished Gareth when I get there.

Hope everyone enjoys the rest of the weekend, rainy and blustery though it may be!