Project Wish List: Mario Blanket – Granny Square Style

11 Mar

Now that I’m a Yellow Belt Crochet Ninja and can make the basic Granny Square – I was thrilled to come across this Mario blanket that I think that even I can make.


Granny Square Mario Blanket

Let’s see if I can tick this one off the list by 2012. 


She’s Crafty: Easy Shell Edging for Your Granny Square

9 Mar

As part of my Yellow Belt crochet training – I’ve been working to learn and perfect the Granny Square. With a few not so great squares, but some other beauties – I felt that it was time to finish what I had done. Not entirely happy with my joining technique (it’s all about the colour!) – I decided that a simple edging would help save this half blanket / half center piece.

The best (and easiest) option I could find was this Shell Border – which just involves more Double Crochet – but scrunched up to create the shell effect.

Overall – I was quite pleased with the finished product:



The Double Crochet Shell Border

The Double Crochet Shell Border



The only issue was that once completed it made the blanket curl up at the edges a bit too much. Perhaps next time I’ll try 4 stitches in each space rather than 5.


But overall I’m pretty chuffed with my first completed Granny Square project – and it now sits proudly on our bookshelf:


Completed Granny Square

My First Completed Granny Square Project

Robot Rating: 7.5 / 10 (Would have been an 8 if it wasn’t for the curling)

Read a Book: One Day by David Nicholls

8 Mar

I’m not usually one for ‘Rom-Com’ type books. Along with ‘Chik-Lit’ and anything to do with Harry Potter – I’m in high level avoidance.


One Day by David Nicholls

One Day by David Nicholls


However – as the person who lent me this one has never been wrong with her recommendations, and with a cover drenched in plaudits from the likes of Nick Hornby

Big, Absorbing, Smart, fantastically readable… brilliant on the details of the last decades of British cultural and political life” and  Marian Keyes

“Incredibly Moving”

I thought I’d give it a go.

Set up to tell the story of Dexter and Emma – starting with a drunken night together at the end of University on July 15 1988 – each chapter is one year later. Throughout the next twenty years we follow Dex and Em as they find love, loose it, struggle with jobs, life and more.

With such a simple formula, this When Harry Met Sally type story could have easily fallen in a heap of clichés, or recalled any movie with Sandra Bullock. Instead Nicholls skirts around the predictable, peppering only when necessary, the bulk of the book an often funny, sometimes painful but always enjoyable exploration of friendship set against the backdrop of British life. 

Robot Rating: 7.5/10

Book #12#50bookchallenge


Amazon Link

Book Depository Link

Heard about the #50bookchallenge? (Books 1-10)

5 Mar

Neither had I until I started getting tweeted to about joining in. A popular hashtag for those out there who are avid reader – the aim is to read 50 books over 12 months and tweet the book number and details once you’ve finished another tome.

Some recent examples include:

@FelixFelicisXX books #3finished… #50bookchallenge … so far this has been a fail

@loveisalwaysnew Now #reading @ashwinsanghi ‘Chankya Chant’, published by Westland publications #Book13 #50bookchallenge

and my own first post:
@chloerobot Finished The Lacuna No. 10 in the #50bookchallenge – contender for Top Read of 2011 – review here: #books…


Unlike the Project365 communities (where people take a photo a day over a year and blog their snaps) the 50BookChallenge seems to have far fewer involved.

Nonetheless – as a big reader and even bigger list maker – this appeals to me on so many levels.

So to start the list off – here are Books #1 – #10 I’ve read so far in 2011.

#1 After America – John Birmingham (Robot Rating 6.5/10)

#2 The Finkler Question – Howard Jacobson (Robot Rating 7/10)

#3 Life – Keith Richards (Robot Rating 7.5/10)

#4 Skippy Dies – Paul Murray (Robot Rating 8/10)

#5 No Time To Think – Howard Rosenburg & Charles S Feldman (Robot Rating 6.5/10)

#6 How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe – Charles Yu (Robot Rating 7/10)

#7 Chocolate Wars – Deborah Cadbury (Robot Rating 7/10)

#8 The Gone Away World – Nick Harkaway (Robot Rating 8.5/10)

#9 The Imperfectionists – Tom Rachman (Robot Rating 8/10)

#10 The Lancuna -Barbara Kingsolver (Robot Rating 9/10)


Now I’m addicted – so hoping that I can keep up the average of 4.16666 books a month needed to complete the #50bookchallenge.





Like Scrabble.. and Helvetica?

5 Mar

Scrabble isn’t the coolest game around (well not as cool as Angry Birds at the moment), but everyone will admit there’s a level of satisfaction when you finally get out a great world full of W’s, X’s and Q’s on a triple.

A New Scrabble Idea

A New Scrabble Design

So imagine then that a designer got his hands on Scrabble – revived the old style and allowed us to choose the typography of the letters used in the set.

A-1 Scrabble Set

The A-1 Scrabble Prototype

Designer Andrew Clifford Capener has done just this with his A-1 Scrabble Designer Edition Prototype. With a beautifully crafted wooden board and the potential to order additional font packs, even those with the most basic of Scrabble skills will enjoy playing the game.

A-1 Scrabble Designer Edition Letters

A-1 Scrabble Designer Edition Letters

At this stage – the board isn’t available to purchase – but if you email Andrew via his site, you can help to greatly help to increase the chances of the Board going into production.   (Thanks to Flavor Wire for the link)

She’s Crafty: How to Join All of those Granny Squares

4 Mar

So I managed to master the art of the basic Granny Square – so my next Crochet Ninja challenge was to work out how to make something from these squares of (mostly) knotted yarn.

Fearful that I’d have to swap my crochet hook for a needle and thread – I was happy to find that the most preferred option of joining your squares together involved – more crocheting – using just the Single Crochet (the stitch I used for the Baby Beanie).

My friend YouTube had a few different videos – but I found this  one from the slightly off-putting ‘Mikey’ to be the easiest to follow.

Despite struggling to work out how to hold all of the flapping squares as I worked to join them together, the end result wasn’t too bad. My only regret was the use of white yarn – which I though would go nicely with my white centre, but really just looked like a badly hidden hemline of shoelace looking stitches. Tip for next time – make sure the edges of all my Squares are the same colour as what I’ll use to join them together.



The Joined Granny Square

The Final Product - Joined Granny Squares


Lucky – the reverse side of my giant square – the white created something more ‘interesting’ so we’ll use that as the showing side. Kind of like some retro tic tac toe board.

Robot Rating: 5/10 – points awarded for actually managing to work out how to join the Squares and to create something looking something like a blanket. Lots of room to improve!

Read a Book: A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

3 Mar

“Time’s a goon right? Isn’t that the expression?” Jules had drifted over from across the room. “I’ve never heard that… time is a goon?”

A Visit from the Goon Squad

A Visit from the Goon Squad

Apparently so. Which makes Time and the passing of it the very loose theme that loosely weaves this quirky, rock n roll laden book into coherency. Listed time and time again on numerous reviewers’ and authors Top Reads for 2010 (many of them found on the very necessary Book Site The Millions – like here and here ), usually incorporating the words; punk rock, drugs and rock and roll, 1970s music and washed up punk rockers – and the attraction was instant.

Unlike many books that try to set themselves against a backdrop of a nostalgic musical era, The Goon Squad was a compelling, quirky, sometimes uncomfortable read. Structured as a series of short stories, the central characters each have the voice of protagonist, as the story zig zags through time, the speaker’s identity not always immediately clear, clues as to the existence or age of children, state of marriage or mind the indicative clues.

At the centre of this time shifted story is Bennie Salazar, once a 1970s Punk Rocker, in the present, a washed up producer struggling on both the musical and matrimonial front. From there the stories spiral outwards, taking in Sasha – his kleptomaniac assistant, Scotty – the once musically talented, now virtually homeless trash collector, Dolly the tortured publicist, Kitty the B grade celebrity… and the list goes on.

As time lurches backwards and forwards, from the early hay days of playing punk rock and slam dancing, through turbulent twenties and thirties of broken love and friendships, drug and mental abuse through to the misery and acceptance of middle age, we follow and slowly warm to these broken characters as they fight off the tyranny of the inevitable Goon Squad that is time.

With an ending that will please any true music fan, this should get a look in for your top reads of 2011. And if you’re accused of being late to the party – just blame it on the Goon Squad.

“Time’s a Goon right? You gonna let that Goon push you around?” Scotty shook his head “The Goon won”

Robot Rating: 9/10 (and yet another contender for Top 5 Books of the Year)