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Saturday, 30 August 2014

Rainbow Christmas Tree Bunting !

Had a bit of a panic yesterday, I woke up with a very swollen and very painful left index finger, my yarn finger! No idea why it was like that but I was very worried I wouldn't be able to crochet.
I thought I would try it out with something very simple and I've had this idea for a while, it's all in DC so nice and gentle on my poorly finger. Big relief, it didn't hurt!

So I started making these, little Christmas trees!

I know, I know, it's still August (just) but like I've said before, you have to start early or you run out of time!

It is a very simple pattern and I have already written it up should anyone else like a try - so efficient of me! I have taken some pictures as I went so that it should be nice and easy to follow for beginners.

Of course these Christmas trees don't have to be in rainbow colours, they could all be done in whatever your Christmas colour scheme is, or with sparkly yarn. You could sew beads or buttons or ribbons on to jazz them up a bit too. Personally I love all the bright colours I've used here, my decorations get brighter and more colourful every year. It's great to have the house filled with a riot of colour at Christmas! They might not be the most traditional of colours but they are so cheerful, juicy and bright that they never fail to make me smile :)


Thursday, 28 August 2014

Top Tip - Joining Trebles

A quick Top Tip for you today on joining trebles. The example here shows joining trebles when making a flat circle but I can't see any reason why it wouldn't work with squares too.

I'm sure every crocheter has at some point made a flat circle. The very basic pattern being Chain four, join to form a ring, Chain three (counts as one treble) crochet five trebles into the ring, join with a slip stitch to the top of the chain three. The next row would be two trebles in each stitch, the row after would be two trebles in the first stitch, one treble in the next stitch... you get the idea. 
The problem with this is that at the end of each round you join with a slip stitch into the chains at the beginning of the round. You then chain three and make another treble into that same chain, it can end up looking gappy and the bigger the circle gets the more obvious this line of gaps is.

To help avoid this, instead of starting your next round out of the top of the chain three from the previous round, slip stitch to the next stitch and start from there! That is what I have done on the circle below, and Ok you can still see where the join is if you look closely, but it is much less obvious and much neater.
You then do your last stitch of the round out of the slip stitch at the beginning of the round.

Hope that has helped!


Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Pretty but not quite right

I am very undecided about what I have been making over the last few days, sometimes I love it, other times I look at it and I'm disappointed. It was going to be a present for a friend but as I am so unsure about it I think I will call it a trial run and make her another one, with a few changes.
So what were these African Flower hexagons going to be? A bag of course! This bag to be precise.
I have loved this bag for years and it has been on my list to make for a very long time. A friend of mine has recently made herself one and it looked so good that I wanted to give it a bash.
So I hooked up all those lovely hexagons over the weekend and started on the rest of the bag this week. There are parts of it that I love; the top and bottom of the bag and the fabric with little strawberries on that I got to line it with. 

 What I am most unsure of is the stitching around the hexagons. 
The pattern clearly said to do this stitching in a contrasting colour so that it is visible. I spent ages sewing them all together and wasn't sure I was entirely happy with the result at that point. On the original pattern the colours are grey and lilac, much more muted and very effective, I think mine being in such strong contrasting colours just looks a bit odd.

I persevered and hoped that it might look OK when I had added all the other bits to it but I am still not sure I like that stitching, it just looks untidy and I was so careful as I did it, I don't think I could have done any better.

I am going to finish it, line it and sew the strap on, it is still a pretty bag just not perhaps exactly as I would like it.

Time for Plan B, I will let you know when I work out what that is :)


Sunday, 24 August 2014

Happy Sundays

Excuse me for being extremely happy today, I am having a great Bank holiday weekend :)

On Friday I got all the boring wifey houseworky stuff done (it's only fair what with me still being jobless) so that freed up Saturday for some quality crochet time, Formula one qualifying and brand new Doctor Who! I know, I know I am a super geek, that's fine with me!
Some little Doctor Who things I have made previously, an Ood and a Weeping Angel, I have made a Doctor before but don't really have any good pictures to share and he lives with a friend now.

I spent most of yesterday trying to refine some Christmas ideas, this involved lots and lots of double crocheting in brown. yuck. 
After a few hours of that and it not turning out how I wanted, I was craving colour so put it away and decided to get cracking on some Christmas presents. Please don't judge me too harshly for mentioning the C word in August but I find it really does help to start as early as possible or the run up to December is spent making things with a tight deadline and crocheting can feel more like a chore than a nice relaxing hobby.
I popped to a local haberdashery on Thursday to stock up on some Rico Creative cotton which I was running desperately low on and started putting together a present for one of my best friends.
These are the only pictures I think I will be able to share until after Christmas, I'm not sure how I am going to wait that long to post a picture, I absolutely love this 'thing' and want to show you it so much!
Today has carried on much the same as yesterday, some great racing on the TV while I took care of some sewing of ends and a delicious smelling roast in the oven for dinner. I'm not sure what tomorrow holds but it is bound to involve crocheting at some point, I might even have another bash at the brown thing if inspiration hits me.

I do hope you are having a cracking Sunday too xxx

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Top Tip Wednesday - Foundation chains

You get a pattern for a gorgeous blanket/cushion/bag and can't wait to get started. You've got your yarn all nicely chosen in wonderful colours and know that it is going to be a fabulous hooky journey for a few days/weeks/months while you merrily crochet your lovely new item.

Hook at the ready, eager with anticipation, you read the first line of your pattern; 'Chain 368, DC in each Chain across', or 'Foundation chain must be in multiples of 12 plus 6'. Your face falls as you just know you will lose count while you make them and counting up chains is not easy after you have made them. So you hook up what you think it the right number of chains (while getting distracted by the TV/ the cat/Facebook) fingers crossed it's right but it won't be until you come to the next row that you will know for certain if you have done enough chains in the foundation row.
You are getting close to the end of the second row now, you still have another five stitches to make and it doesn't look like there is enough chains left, did you miss count? Has the last half an hour/hour/two hours been for nothing? Yes.

Sound familiar? Annoying isn't it. I have found an easy (and so obvious, I don't know why it took me so long to think of it) way around this foundation chain problem - do your best to count the chains as you go and then add a few more! You will be left with a few chains left over at the end of the second row but this is far better than not having enough. 
My tip for dealing with these left over chains is to make the initial slip stitch loose, it can then be unpicked and you can carefully unpick each of these extra chains. Because you are unpicking them from the 'wrong' end of the chain row they won't just unravel either, so you can do this without the worry of the whole thing falling apart!
When you get to the last chain that you worked out of, give the tail end a little tug and it will tighten up nicely. You won't have this problem ever again! :)


Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Odds and ends (lots of ends!)

It's been a few days since I have done any blogging and sitting down this morning to tell you about what I have been crocheting is a bit of a challenge, I don't feel like I have done much at all. but that can't be right, I have pretty much always got a hook in my hand so what have I been doing?

Well my husband had a rare long weekend off work so we spent much of Friday pottering around the house, catching up on some odd jobs that needed doing and recharging the batteries. Still on a high from nearly having my flower shawl made I cracked on with that, until I got to the part when I can ignore the sewing in of the ends no longer.
Luckily I was very good and made a start on these a while back so there is only about half left to do, a job for a rainy day I think. I have almost decided to stop at this point and not make it any bigger, I think I will get more use out of it like this than carrying on to make it into a throw and it means that I can use what yarn I have left to make something else.

I found the ripple segment that is meant for a big sampler blanket I want to make and got a few more lovely bright ripples hooked up too, such a restful, rhythmic pattern to do, 1234, 1234, 1234...
I've also been sorting out some of my yarn stash, seeing what I am running out of so I can order some more. I have mentioned a few times how my supply of Rico Creative cotton has dwindled so I really tried to get my bag of the stuff tidy and see what was what. As usually happens though I got distracted by the pretty colours and quickly made a stuffed heart. I have made lots and lots of these before, some with roses on and some with felt letters and flowers for christenings. They are usually in one main colour with details in a contrast:
This one is a slight departure from the usual theme:
 I did have vague ideas of sticking some lavender in it from the garden to make it into a smelly hanging thing but I still can't bring myself to cut any of the lavender as the bees are swarming all over it and I don't want to take away their fun! It's pretty as it is, even without the lavender. Nearly every door knob in my house has got something hanging from it, nearly all of them are some type of heart too so I'm not sure what to do with this one, if anyone would like it, please let me know!


Thursday, 14 August 2014

Nearly a windmill but not quite

I've had this idea now for ages, I really want to make a windmill. I don't know why, but I've looked and can't find a pattern I like so thought I would have a go myself. I had an idea of how I wanted it to look, bright and colourful (of course) and squishy. I wanted it to look simple and not fussy either, so no embroidery or flowers or anything. My idea is very simple, a dome/conical shaped main building part with four sails. So a while ago I made a small dome shape and then got side tracked.

This morning I fancied a change from what I was making so picked up some scraps of stylecraft special dk and worked out a way to make the sails for the windmill.

I made eight so I could make them double sided. Stuffing them would add too much weight to them and might make them floppy, but doubled up and quickly crochet together they are quite stiff and hold their shape nicely.
In my plan the sails aren't just sewn onto the windmill, they actually rotate! So I made a spindle thing to attach to the windmill and crocheted the sails together . This middle bit attaching the sails is being slightly problematic, it is just too floppy. I've doubled it up, crocheted extra rows, folded it back on itself and sewn it together tightly and it is still too floppy.
Not only that but the main dome part of the windmill is way to small for these sails. 
So still some way to go before my squishy windmill is a reality but I absolutely love doing things like this, making things up from ideas that I've had. I have got a bag full of half made bits and pieces that are trial runs of things, where I have been trying to work out how to make stuff. Not sure why I am keeping hold of these bits of tat, they serve no purpose!
Meanwhile I will leave my ideas to percolate in my brain and carry on with my flower shawl! With very limited yarn supplies recently I have picked it up again and have totally fallen back in love with it. 
If I stick to my original shawl idea it is nearly finished, I just need to make the left hand side the same shape as the right and maybe add a few more flowers to the pointy bit in the middle. It has been suggested by a few friends that I should make it into a throw and I am very tempted! it would be easy enough to do, just the same shape again to make an oblong rather than a triangle. Will I have enough yarn? I am really not sure.
If I have to buy more it won't be the end of the world, I have many, many ideas of things to make with this Drops cotton merino, it is delicious!


Monday, 11 August 2014

Cluck Cluck!

I've had a lovely weekend catching up with friends and generally being quite lazy. We had terrible storms on and off with nearby streets being flooded. Luckily we stayed nice and dry and I spent much of Friday afternoon sat in my favourite corner crocheting.
I really must do something with that lamp shade, it is hideous!

The Knit and Natter group that I go to are a lovely bunch, it is nice to be able to talk to people who are as mad about all things wooly as I am! One of these lovely ladies had a wonderful hen-do tea party on Saturday, the weather had cleared up nicely so we all sat out in the sunshine eating cake, chatting and laughing.
 The hen-do was also the perfect opportunity for me to make another chicken, which seems to be my signature hen party gift. This one I made for a friend who got married last year..

So last week I started making another one with what yarn I could find and here she is!
It is a great pattern to follow, nice and straightforward and not too fiddly. I was getting on really well with it until I had to make the legs. I always struggle with making legs; I make the first one and the second one always seems so tiresome, this is probably why I don't make more stuffed animals and toys. The legs really don't take long so I'm not sure why I have so much trouble making them.
With the first hen I crocheted little flowers and then sewed them on, for this second hen I just embroidered the flowers directly on to it. Now my sewing can be a bit haphazard, I have problems seeing to do fiddly things sometimes but I am very pleased with how these flowers turned out and would probably do the same if I make another one. If you would like to make your own hen the pattern can be found over at The Very Savvy Snail. The original pattern is for a set of egg cosys (which are all beautiful), using 4ply yarn I believe. Mine come out considerably larger as I use an aran weight yarn and make a flat circle base to sew on so that they can be stuffed.

I now desperately need to buy more Rico cotton, my big bag is now down to a few scraps and I want my own chicken! :)


Thursday, 7 August 2014

Basket Weave Tote Ta-Dah!

My new Basket Weave Tote Bag is finished, and oh how efficient of me, it is already written up and available here for your hooky pleasure!

You might remember it started off as one big rectangle of (what I am calling) larger basket weave. I had that all finished on Tuesday and was going to sew it up when I noticed that both the left and right hand sides of the bag had the same direction 'weave'. So annoying but these things happen when you start making something with no plan beforehand.

I considered making the join at the back of the bag so no one would really see this clear mistake, but that seemed like a real cop out. I also considered just doing a strip of the larger basket weave and trying to sew it in very neatly so the join wasn't visible. I don't have that much confidence in my sewing skills so that left me pondering what else I could put in as a panel, to maybe add a bit of interest to this otherwise fairly plain bag. 

I started messing around and this is what I came up with; in keeping with the overall weave effect, simple neat and quick!
 Yes, very pleased with that.

I decided to make the straps of the bag in the same small weave and sewed it all together yesterday morning.
I was really aching to add some colour to it, the cream on it's own was just too dull. Lining! simple, easy, practical and pretty!
I settled on using the pale green fabric with little flowers and cherries on, I absolutely love this fabric and it comes in all sorts of colours, I must replenish my supplies soon.
I dragged the sewing machine out from under the dust covers in the spare room and ran up a very simple lining for the bag and sewed it in place. 


I am very pleased with it. Considering I made it in yarn that was convenient, not what I necessarily wanted to be using and that I made it up off the top of my head, I think it has turned out very nicely.

So on to the next thing! We have been lucky to have some sunny spells in between the rain and at every available opportunity I have been decamping to the picnic bench with a cuppa and my hook to get started on a gift I am making for a friend. 
Again I have limited colour choice but that is mainly because I am running very low in this Rico creative cotton, something else I need to replenish very soon. But at last, crocheting with colours! It makes me so happy, I love this lime green. This will also give me the chance to make some little flowers and things. I do like making big repetitive patterns but I so enjoy making pretty little things too - which could be why I always have so many things on the go. This has a deadline of Saturday so I can't take too long with it :)


Monday, 4 August 2014

Making do

I have had a lovely peaceful weekend, the weather hasn't been too great which is fine by me. I really do love it when it's raining outside and I am cosy indoors, feet up with a cuppa and some crochet.

Hhhm the crochet. I'm not doing too well with it at the moment. With the decorating of the spare room (my yarn dump) in full swing, all my yarn has been unceremoniously crammed into bin liners. This has left me with very limited choices with the only yarn that I can get at being what I was already using. A small amount of stylecraft special DK which has been earmarked for other things, the hand dyed 4 ply I am making my scarf/shawl in and the massive ball of aran I bought to finish my hearts cushion, that ended up being surplous to requirements.

With any creativity seriously hampered by my lack of choice I tried to get on with extending my scarf to make it into something more usable.
I started by adding a row of chains to one side of the scarf and then another row to get the chain loops the right width for adding a few more rows of broomstick. I hadn't realised quite how long I had made the scarf part and those chains seemed to take forever! I did eventually get them finished and cracked on with adding the first row of broomstick. That took even longer! Two, three hours maybe and seriously depleted what little yarn I had left. 
One row and perhaps enough left on the ball for one more row, not enough to make a shawl by any stretch of the imagination. I think it is time to scrap that idea and unpick this addition. It is very annoying to have spent so long on this bit only to have to unpick it all and I haven't quite mustered up the resolve to rip it back yet.
So I needed something else to get on with and my only other yarn option was the massive ball of cream flecky aran.
I wasn't relishing the thought of making something in this and only this! It is hard to be inspired when you know that the finishing result, however well made and intricate the pattern might be, is going to be all in one, fairly dull colour.

It is very arany aran - not just the yarn weight but the look and feel of it. It really lends itself to some cabling or to make a thick chunky fabric. I considered making another tote bag like the one I made last year:
I did enjoy the challenge of making that bag, it was a complete departure for me - concentrating on stitch patterns rather than colours - but I have made one of them and don't need another. It also took quite a lot of concentration and that wasn't what I was looking for, I wanted something I could hook up fairly quickly so that I didn't get too bored with crocheting in just cream.

I played around with a few ideas and settled on a simple basket weave pattern and it is coming along nicely.
I wasn't exactly sure what it would be when I started, I don't need another cushion! Now that I have got quite a lot of it done I am 99% sure it will be a bag. A medium sized project bag for small WIPs and scraps. I want to line it too to make it nice and sturdy and maybe add some vintagey flowers and buttons to it, if I can find my button tin in one of the bin liners. 
It is quite frustrating having so little choice when I am craving pretty colours. I confess to getting very annoyed by this cream aran at times, but it has done the job, it gave me something easy that needed very little concentration to get on with while the rain came down outside. It has also spurred me on to get the spare room finished so that I can unload the bin liners and have my shelves once again filled with bright, inspiring, colourful yarn!