12 July 2015

Triangle crochet blanket

It has been a while since I have blogged about anything crochet-related but I can finally share a blanket I started over 18 months ago. I am not usually one to leave things unfinished for so long! Inspired by all the fabric triangle quilts I was seeing on the internet at the time, I started to make a child's blanket out of crochet triangles. It measures about 87cm x 114cm and is a mixture of acrylic and wool.If you are looking for a relatively quick project, this is not it. When I discovered that it takes me around 40 minutes to single crochet just one triangle, the enormity of the blanket project I was about to embark on hit me and I had to push through a few moments of ennui - and also downscale the size of the project to a baby blanket. It is now the second winter since starting this blanket and the cold nights we've been experiencing over the past few weeks have really been the motivator I needed to forge ahead and complete it.What I find with crochet is that I can never be sure exactly how much yarn I will need for any particular project. I used up some of the yarn in my stash and needed to buy more pale pink and grey only to discover that not just those particular colours, but all of the yarn I was using in this blanket has now been discontinued. Sad face. There is something to be said for not leaving unfinished projects languishing in a bag for over a year. It meant that I had to use the remaining yarn in my stash and resulted in enforced placement of some of the triangles where I would have otherwise chosen a different colour for greater balance. Similarly, the very simple double crochet border and pink single crochet edging was a result of not having enough yarn to work the border I really wanted to use. I had got almost two thirds of the way through the border before I realised I would not have enough yarn and had to unravel it all. In the end though, I am happy with the simpler edging so maybe this was just how it was meant to be.
Aside from how slow the triangles were to work up and running out of yarn, the other issue that I faced was finding the best way to stitch them all together. If I was more certain on colour placement from the beginning, a join-as-you-go method would have been ideal and I should have left long tails on each of the triangles to make the process even more simple. Since I had woven the tail of each triangle as I completed it, I put the right sides of the triangles together and slipstitched them. It results in a standard ridge-like join on the back of the blanket.In part because of all of the issues I encountered, I do feel such a great sense of satisfaction to have finally completed it. What are you working on at the moment? I'd love to hear from you.

09 July 2015

The Bakehouse

A wonderfully evocative work of historical fiction, The Bakehouse by Joy Cowley is told from the point of view of Bert, a man in his 80s carrying a wartime secret. In the company of his great-grandson, he reflects on the events in Wellington leading up to one critical moment that changed the lives of several people forever.

The year is 1943 and while New Zealand lies far from the front-lines, there are signs everywhere of the threat of war. American servicemen are prominent in the city and with news reports updating the steady march of the Japanese in the Pacific, 11 year old Bert, with the help of his sisters Betty and Meg, decides to convert the disused and largely forgotten bakery hidden in the hills near their house into a bomb shelter. There, they encounter a young Kiwi soldier who has deserted the NZ Army and so begins a game of subterfuge with very real and devastating consequences for them all.

The story itself is compelling, with the threads of loyalty and betrayal running through the heart of it yet if the book is dissected further, there are so many linguistic features and themes that would generate great discussion in a classroom setting including the effects of war on ordinary people, the role women played during this time, the relationships between family members and the issue of morality when confronted with a complex, adult problem.

Given this is the centennial year of the landing of our troops at Gallipoli in WWI and classroom learning this year has focussed on conflicts and life in New Zealand during wartime, I knew my eldest daughter would have an interest in this book. It does not disappoint.

Reading level: 9-13 (note: adult themes relating to sex, while not expressly stated, are contained in the book)
RRP: $19.99
Released: August 2015

Thank you to Gecko Press for sending us a copy of this greatly anticipated novel for us to review. For your chance to WIN yourself a copy, head to Gecko Press's Facebook page. They are having a month of giveaways to celebrate their 10th year in publishing. The timing could not be more perfect!