Sunday, 1 June 2014

Three steps forwards and two back

I have been very busy in the Day Job recently, so I've not had much time for crochet and none at all for updating this blog. However, the end of term is in sight, the huge pile of assignments to mark has been dealt with and so I can get on with my own projects at last.

Or not...

Things I have been UN-making

  • The snowdrop scarf I started using some gorgeous Jawoll Magic sock yarn
  • The filet net curtain

The snowdrop scarf had been hibernating while I finished all the blankets that were Christmas presents and the bunnies and baskets that were Easter presents. When I finally came to pick it up again, I realised that however beautifully the yarn was working up, the finished article wasn't going be something I would actually wear. So I have unravelled it and will find a different scarf pattern instead.

Similarly, having got almost half way with the curtain, I held it against the window and realised that it was going to block too much of the view. I initially intended it for the bathroom (frosted glass) but my husband said he liked the existing blind and didn't want it changed, so I had thought of putting the curtain on the landing window instead. But the current net allows you to see through to the grass and trees in the front garden; the filet net didn't. So I've frogged the filet part and I'll have to think about what to do with the Japanese flower motifs.

But it has not all been negative progress. Things I have been making:

  • a new phone case for my new phone
  • more of the simple filet crochet starburst squares for the picnic blanket.

I started the picnic blanket almost exactly a year ago, but it only gets worked on between other projects, so progress is slow. It is being made with all the random bits of acrylic double knitting yarn left over from all the blankets I made last year. It will be a cheerful blanket that can live in the car and be used for sitting on for picnics or for snuggling in if I have to wait in the car on a cold day.

The new phone case is for my new phone, my first proper smartphone! :) It's a Samsung Galaxy 4S in stylish red. The phone case I crocheted is in brightly coloured random stripes. I wanted to use up some of the ends of yarn left from making the rainbow ripple blanket I made as a Christmas present for one of my grandchildren.

The case has turned out cheap and cheerful, but I'm quite pleased with it. I even lined it with some red fabric that I've had lying around for years. A bright red button just finished it off. So from this...

Left over yarn

We get this! :)

My cheap and cheerful phone case

So now, having successfully transferred over my contacts and calendar, my phone is fully functional and has snug case to protect it.

Friday, 18 April 2014

African flower pot-holders

I'm not entirely sure how to spell "pot-holder". I've seen it as "pot holder", "pot-holder" and "potholder". Anyway, I've made some of those circular things you handle hot pots and pans with. :)

This project was partly to help with stash busting and partly because I genuinely need new potholders and crochet ones will be pretty and quick to make.

African flower potholders

I started to follow a pattern for an African flower granny mandala potholder but I thought it might come out too holey. I didn’t want to risk burns, so instead I did solid treble crochet (UK) circles to surround the African flower rather than treble clusters. I had to do a bit of frogging before I got it to lie flat, but I got there after a couple of tries.

I finished off the second pot-holder yesterday. I only did African flowers on the front, so the backs are just concentric circles of pink, white and blue. For some reason, one potholder fitted together perfectly, the other needed a bit of fudging because though I was sure I’d done the increasing the same, it seemed to have far more stitches. Anyway, they’re fine for my own use and worked great when removing the pizzas from the oven yesterday. :) I joined the two circles with double crochet (UK) and then did a final round of Crab Stitch to give a nice firm edge.

I may make this pattern again, but there are some other pretty ones I want to try first.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Ta da! Easter bunnies and pretty baskets

I can't resist showing off the Easter Bunnies and crochet baskets I've made for my grandchildren. The baskets I just improvised so there's no pattern. However, I talked about them here. If you want to make your own bunnies, the pattern is free and available from this website.

Easter bunnies in baskets

I could just have bought Easter eggs, but I wanted to do something a bit different. I also wanted to give the grandchildren something to play with once the chocolate had gone. The project has also been a very useful stash buster and I've managed to use up some colourful odds and ends of yarn left over from all the blankets I made last year.

Easter bunnyEaster bunny with basketEaster bunny with basket

I've bought chocolate and sweeties to add to the baskets and now they're all ready to be wrapped up and posted to the grandchildren.

Bunny tails Now I just have to find boxes and bubble wrap and they'll be on their way in good time for Easter.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

A table runner becomes a net curtain

My 92-year-old Dad moved into residential care last autumn and my brother and I had the job of selling his bungalow. I started to make a filet crochet runner for the lovely dark wood dining room table, thinking it would help to brighten up the place while the bungalow is being viewed by potential buyers. Once the bungalow was sold, I intended to find a home for the runner in our house. However, the bungalow sold more quickly than I expected so I didn't have time to get very far with the project. In fact all I had was a number of Japanese flower style motifs joined into a strip.

The table runner languished for some months. I was busy with Christmas projects and also wanted to finish a blanket for me to use while the weather was still cold. It didn't help matters that we don't really have a suitable place to display it as a table runner, so motivation wasn't high. And then, realising the Easter bunnies and baskets (see next post) were almost complete and wondering what to make next, I had a rummage through the bags of yarn and unfinished projects and found the pretty flower motifs I had made. My first though was to finish it as a table runner, but then I had a better idea. A net curtain!

I removed a couple of motifs and managed to improvise a way of joining the filet crochet onto the floral strip. Once I'd put some different sized stitches in to level up the row, the filet part became very straightforward.

I contemplated placing the another band of motifs part way up the curtain, but then rejected that idea and instead I'll place them randomly on the net. This is a venture into the unknown for someone who, until now, has always religiously followed patterns! :)

Floral net curtain WIP

As spring is here and sometimes -- like today! the sun streams through the window on the landing outside my study-cum-workroom, I think a new curtain should look good and it will kick start the next round of cleaning and decorating. I went round the whole house a few years ago, but the d├ęcor is looking a bit tired and grimy because it was quite a few years ago now.

Anyway, I'm delighted to have found a good use for the motifs. Progress has therefore resumed and crocheting the filet net is a nice mindless project to do for relaxation.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

A small project jumps the queue

I'm supposed to be finishing the Easter bunnies and baskets for the grandchildren and I really ought to finish the Fatty Lumpkin pony, which is currently stalled at the assembling stage. So what do I do? I end up making a quick pot-holder to use up the last of the James C. Brett Craft Cotton. I now know what sort of project it's good for and if I need more, I can buy it as and when required, so it seemed like a good idea to use up the ends of the balls on something useful rather than have them sitting around in my stash.

And my current pot-holders are getting very tatty. :)

It only took a few days.

Note: I don't usually get more than an hour each day -- two at the most -- to crochet and I'm not a fast crocheter, preferring to plod along in a meditative fashion. I'm sure that a speedy crocheter would be able to whip one of these up in an evening.

To use up the very last ends, I made a couple of little lid-lifters. The pot-holder is lovely and thick, but therefore would be too bulky for lifting the lids on my stainless steel saucepans or removing the lids from the glass casserole dishes.

Circular pot holder

Saturday, 22 March 2014

It will soon be Easter

For the past week I've been busy making Easter presents for the grandchildren. I didn't want to just buy chocolate eggs because the postage makes it a very expensive way to buy chocolate. In fact I think last year I sent money to our son and daughter and asked them to buy eggs on our behalf for the grandkids.

However, this year I intend to do better.

I had seen some cute and easy bunny patterns on Ravelry, so I started making those first.

Here's the first bunny almost ready to assemble.

Crochet Easter bunny WIP

I know a lot of you like to weave in your ends as you go, but the photo below shows why I prefer to wait until I've finished and I'm sure it's all correct. I making 3 bunnies and I had almost finished the sixth ear when I realised that I'd done something stupid whilst making the 5th ear and somehow added in an extra yellow stripe! If I'd woven the ends in as I went, I'd probably have had to throw the ear away as too fiddly to frog, but it didn't take long to correct and now I have all the bunny parts and I'm almost ready to start sewing them together.

Too many stripes!

I haven't actually started sewing them yet because:

a) A lot of the yarn was reclaimed from a failed project that had been sitting around for more than 12 months gathering dust so I thought I ought to wash the bunny pieces.

b) I started making three little baskets to put the chocolate and bunnies in.

I had some James C. Brett Craft Cotton sitting around that I'd bought by accident a couple of years ago. How can you buy yarn by accident, you may be wondering? Well, it was while I was making the Funny Faces blanket for the latest grandchild and I thought it would be soft, like the James C. Brett Cotton On I was using for the blanket. Unfortunately, it's a cotton intended for dishcloths and such like, so it's more like string!

However, it does make very nice little baskets. :)

Here's the two-handled version.

Easter Basket -- two handles

And here's the version with one handle.

Easter basket -- single handle

Anyway, everything is coming together. The bunnies can be assembled as soon as the pieces dry, I have bought a variety of chocolate and mini-eggs, the third basket is almost complete and I've been making some pretty little flowers for decoration. All being well, everything will be ready to post next week in good time for Easter.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Slow but steady progress

I am making a Fatty Lumpkin pony, one of Heidi Bears' delightful African flower animals. I finished all the motifs and I'm now busy joining them all together.

It's a slow process, but I'm getting there. Doing the join-as-you-go has involved quite a few mistakes and some muttered curses, but it does create a neat finish and it means that the joining is accomplished as you crochet the final round of the motifs. Ideally I would have liked to make a hippo first. Hippos are blobby in shape and they therefore look a bit easier than a Fatty Lumpkin, but due to starting a new part-time job I didn't have time to make the creatures for Christmas presents and the eldest grandchild (who is getting the pony) has her birthday first.

The only consolation is that the hippo should seem easy once I've mastered the pony!

So far I have put together Fatty's bottom and hind legs.

Fatty Lumpkin is progressing

The crochet is resting on some books I've been using for work teaching a GCSE English re-sit class and a couple of modules on a foundation degree.

Monday, 24 February 2014

In which I finish a hat just as the weather turns warm

I have finished another project. This time it's a slouchy hat. To be honest, I would never have attempted the pattern based on the photos posted with it, but someone on Ravelry had done it in a chunky tweed effect and added a flower. As I had some blue Marble Chunky to use up, I decided to copy what she did.

Blue crochet slouchy hat

I didn't do as many increases or as many rows as the pattern says because of using different yarn and hook size, but I'm very pleased with the results. It actually looks good on me! If I sound surprised, it's because it's not easy to find hats that suit me.

Blue crochet slouchy hat

The pattern is available free here. The flower was from Crochetgeek, also on Ravelry and available here on the Crochet Geek blog.

I was planning on wearing the new hat for our visit to London later this week, but the weather (which has never dropped below freezing all winter) has just turned even warmer, so my poor hat may not get an outing until next winter. Though having said that, March can be very cold and windy, so we will see. :)

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Giving cushions a makeover

Partly to brighten up our sitting room and partly to use up all the yarn I bought for projects that are not now going to happen, I've decided to revamp all the cushions. This is the first. I think it came out quite well, considering I just improvised the design.

I used the Redheart corner-to-corner pattern to make 2 squares which were sewn together round 3 sides and buttons added on the back of the cushion to close the top. The border is just a simple shell stitch, a simplified version of the border in the Redheart pattern. (I didn't like the picots, so left them out.) The yarn is James C. Brett Marble Chunky from my stash. Very simple and quick to do and it matches the snuggly corner-to-corner blanket I made for myself!

Front

Corner-to-corner cushion

Back

Button fastening

I plan to work my way around all the cushions now, trying out different designs. A cushion cover is an good size for experimenting with new stitches and there are only so many blankets a small house and two people can use! :)

Sunday, 9 February 2014

How to decrease when crocheting the corner-to-corner stitch

Someone on the Creative Crochet Crew -- The Group Facebook group was getting in a muddle over where exactly to place the slip stitches for the decrease when making a corner-to-corner blanket. In order to try to help, I did some photos which I thought I'd also post here, so I have the tutorial handy in case anyone else has a problem.

1. Here is what the piece looks like as you finish the last of the increase rows. Until now, each row has been getting longer, but from now on, we're going to decrease to stop the piece growing and instead get it to narrow down to a point.

The end of the last row of increases

2. Turn the work and slip stitch into the trebles (US double crochet). I find that crocheting into just the two nearest the 3 chain loop works best.

Slip stitch into the trebles

3. Now slip stitch into the 3 chain loop which is on the same block.

Slip stitch into the 3 chain loop

4. Chain 3. You can see where the next block will fit. The decrease has started to make a straight edge and from now on, the project begins to decrease in width.

Make 3 chains

5. Here the decrease is complete and we're working the rest of the row.

At the end of this row, you can either carry on increasing, in which case you will end up with a long rectangular strip, for example for a scarf. Or, after you have reached the end of the row and made the turn, you can start to decrease at this side as well.

Decrease complete

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Lots of African Flowers

After 2013 being the Year of Blankets, I intend to stick to smaller items this year, namely items for me to wear, bags and toys. As soon as I saw the cute Happypotamus and Fatty Lumpkin Pony designed by Heidi Bears, I knew I had to buy the pattern and make them.

And then 2013 turned into the Year of the Blankets. :)

However, finally all those projects are completed and I have therefore spent the past few days making African Flower motifs whenever I got a spare moment. So far I have 10 hexagons. Still quite a few motifs to go and then the real fun begins when I try to put them all together, but Heidi Bears pattern is very clear with lots of photos, so it should be OK.

Here is a motif in progress. I'm using acrylic double knitting and a 3.50 mm hook. I tend to crochet rather tightly, so I'm hoping these will keep the stuffing in OK.

IMG_8779 crochet edge copy

And here is a pile of colourful hexagons.

IMG_8787 African flowers copy

I'll post again when I have a finished pony.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

My big snuggly blanket is finished!

Once the Christmas presents were all finished, the next big project to work on was my big snuggly corner-to-corner blanket made out of James C. Brett Marble Chunky. I still have a few final ends to weave in, but as I've already started using this blanket, I think I can count it as finished. It's the biggest thing I've ever crocheted!

I made this partly to use up all the marble chunky in my stash. I'd bought it with the intention of making scarves and cowls to sell, but then I got a teaching job and had much less free time, so I abandoned the idea of selling items. As well as using up my stash, I did also buy a couple of extra balls to make sure it would be really big and snuggly for wrapping myself in while I watch TV. As you can see, it is as big as our bed!

Photographing so I could blog about it wasn't easy. It was raining hard, so taking it outside for better light and more space wasn't an option. The only place large enough to spread it out was our bed.

So... I had to stand on a chair and hold the camera above my head at arms length. Even increasing the ISO led to lots of blurred shots and these are far from perfect, but I think they do show off the beautiful way the colours vary. The big corner-to-corner blanket

Not all crochet patterns work well with variegated yarn, but the corner-to-corner pattern comes out really well and now I have a big snuggly blanket to wrap myself in while watching TV in the evening. :)

Here's a close up of the pattern. Closeup of the corner-to-corner pattern

And here's the border. I felt that the blanket needed a simple border, but I didn't want to just do rounds of double crochet (UK) that I'd used on the c2c lap blanket for my dad. Instead I did a modified version of the border from the original Red Heart Pattern. I simplified it and didn't do the picots, so this is just shells of 5 UK trebles. Blanket border