Winter Crochet Report

Winter is ALMOST over, hurray! And it’s feeling pretty spring-like here: the crocuses are out even if it IS still a bit chilly.  But I have braved the March winds and emerged from my hibernation, and I thought I’d begin by sharing with you some of my finished crochet projects from the dark months…

So, first up, YES, I did finish the purple alpaca jumper!  And I have worn it to death ever since!  It’s very warm and snuggly without being too weighty, which is exactly what I wanted.  It did look pretty smart when first completed but it’s already begun to pile rather disappointingly (shall I name names, Drops Alpaca yarn??) as you can doubtless see from these pictures.   Hopefully this will be temporary!  I pretty much followed a freebie pattern from African Expressions (download HERE, code 6006) using my trusty size F hook.  However their tension square/size guide made no sense to me whatsoever so I just measured an existing jumper and worked it out for myself.  My main other changes were to leave the bottom 3″ of the side seams free (tunic-style) and add two rows of the shell edging from the bottom to the sleeve cuffs as well.  I am chuffed to bits that I can make wearable jumpers and am now working on No.2!Inspired by this success, I decided to have a go at something lacey and complicted!  Ages ago I was given a skein of beautiful hand-dyed Araucania Botany Lace yarn and I’ve been pondering what to make with it ever since.  This Whole New Concept of crocheting my own clothes, plus the revelation that lightweight things can keep you warm led me to alight on THIS PATTERN by Girlie’s Crochet for a sassy bolero-shrug-type thing. The pattern actually looks more complex than it is, and because you join-as-you-go the squares, it turned out to be quite a quick make.  It also turned out that a 100g/415m skein was about 5g short of what I needed!  So: VERY many thanks to my lovely friend M. who came up with something suitable from her stash for me for the edging!  I think the contrasting yarn works rather nicely don’t you? – And I’m especially chuffed with the little shamrock ends on the ties!Now I bet you’re wondering what became of that marathon project, my take on Attic 24’s Cosy Stripe, the Boho Blanket?Whoo-Hoo!!  Finished just after Xmas, so yay, I DID achieve my aim of getting it on my bed before the year was out!I do totally love the way this turned out, with it’s sumptuous mini-granny-square border, finished with a combi of Cosy Blanket edging and a dinky picot.  The colours feel so gloriously gorgeous and it brightens up my dingy bedroom so much!  For the record it took ONE HUNDRED AND SIX squares to go right around this blanket and no, I will NOT be making another one.  EVER…And while we’re on the subject of squares, I have also spent very many an evening hook in hand engrossed in some DVD or other, and turned out yet another bunch of these to send off to KAS-CareI’ve been experimenting with making super-chunky squares by crocheting a thinnish yarn in one colour together with lots of odds and ends of other colours and weights.  These were done with a size G (4.25mm) hook and are great stash-busters!  (I think of them as my ‘Blake’s 7 squares’ as they took me the whole of Season 1 do…)Not content with sending them my own squares, I also unearthed some my mum had made aeons ago and offloaded passed on to me, together with a big bag of yarn.  So I had fun adding extra borders to make them up to size and into the parcel they go!I hope you’ve all had a cosy winter and are ready to venture forth into Spring!  As usual I have more projects lined up for this year than I will ever finish in a lifetime, but hey at least I’ve got plenty to choose from!

Wishing you all a very cheery week 🙂

Winter crochet projects

Brr, I don’t know about you but it’s FREEZING here in the Marches at the moment!  This morning the water in the top of my rain barrel was frozen solid, and it didn’t thaw out all day.  Times like these, the best place to be is snuggled on the sofa with some cosy winter crochet projects.  And since it is properly cold now, my creative thoughts seem to be rather pre-occupied with making things to keep me warm!

Remember about a year ago, when I started an Attic 24 Cosy Stripe blanket project for myself?  And then I saw this lovely version with a granny square border and was inspired to do something similar?  Uh-huh…  Well, it took me about 2 months to crochet the blanket, and I am STILL working on the border!  In fact I Lost the Will with this project over the summer, but recently I’ve picked it up again and have now made what I HOPE is all the granny squares, so maybe it will even be finished and on my bed before the year is out, who knows…?!somanysquaresNow, another past project with which I Lost The Will was my first attempt at crocheted clothing – the granny square ENORMO-CARDIE, way back in Feb 2014.  It’s taken me quite a while to get over that particular disaster, but I thought I’d have another go, this time at a nice simple jumper.  And it’s coming along rather well, as you can see!  Watch this space for a WhooHoo any day now!purplealpaca1

Right, that’s it – the sofa is beckoning…

Wishing you all a very warm & cosy week 🙂

Free Crochet Workshops at the Kington Show!

crochetworkshopadHelllooo!  As mentioned a while ago, I have some EXCITING NEWS about an upcoming event.  The event is the annual Kington Show on 10 September, and the news is that Cosmic Crochet has teamed up with TradRad Crafts and we will be launching our new partner venture, Phoenix Crafts, with some FREE beginner’s crochet workshops at the show!

Not only that: we will have a fabulous stall full of lovely yarny and crafty goodies for sale, some of which you can see on display here in my front window (there has to be some advantage to living on a busy street, right??).  The stall will be open all afternoon in the main marquee, and the workshop sessions begin at 1.30pm and 3pm.

We will be making simple granny squares, and there will be lots of yarn, hooks, and handouts available so you don’t need to bring anything but yourself!  Any squares you don’t want to keep will be worked up into blanket squares and donated to the African charity KAS (see this post).

So if you live in the Herefordshire/Powys/Marches area (or feel like visiting), do come along and have a go at some crochet, or just pop by and say hello.  We should be fairly easy to spot, providing I can get this little project finished in time!phoenixinprogressWishing you all a flamin’ good week 🙂

Macaroons & Mini-drawstring bags

Well hellooooo!  Wow, these summer months are flying by and I don’t know about you but I seem to have been very BUSY the last few weeks!  Mostly with nice things, like going camping and visiting friends and family, but still, it all goes by so fast.

Crochet is one of my best forms of relaxing and unwinding, so whenever I’m dashing about I like to take my favourite hook and a small bag of scrap yarns with me and make some pleasing little things.  This summer I’ve been loving these gorgeous Macaroon pincusions by Lilla Björn crochet.  Named ‘cos they look like little cakeys, good enough to eat (but no calories)!  They’re made using overlay crochet, which I think gives them an intricate, almost tapestry-like appearance.  However this pattern & tutorial are brilliantly easy to follow – it’s actually much simpler than it looks!  In fact as soon as I’d gotten the hang of it, I adapted it to make a mini-drawstring bag using the same technique.  Yummy or what?!pinkcaramelsSo yummy that I made a bunch on a recent weekend with friends and then gave them all away, so I only have a couple left to show you…!minibagsI’m back home for a few weeks now, apart from a day-trip jolly to the Birmingham Festival of Quilts this weekend (and yes I am FIZZING with anticipation!) with a couple of my lovely craftsy pals.  I’ve got lots of making to do, and some exciting news to share with you about an upcoming  event: more on this VERY SOON….allmacsMeanwhile, wishing you all a delightfully sweet week 🙂

The Heart of the Matter

hearts2A friend of mine recently shared a funny, sweet poem with me that was written by a young Asylum Seeker, as a way of celebrating and thanking the ordinary folk who had helped her during difficult times.  She was basically saying, all you people who aren’t rich, or powerful, or well-connected and think you’re just ‘ordinary’: you’re the ones who made a difference.

I’ve written here before about KAS, the charity that makes & distributes blankets to AIDS orphans in Africa.  I try to use up odd bits of yarn and things I’ve been given to make granny squares for them.  I had some dullish, grey squares that began life as an ill-conceived project that I abandoned – warm they may be, but not exactly the thing to brighten up a child’s day!  But with some colourful yarn scraps and this heart motif tutorial by Meladora, they turned into these:hearts1We all know there are lots of folk in the world who are not so well off.  What can you do?wafflesGet a hook (or knitting needles) and some yarn: play with colours, experiment with different techniques, try out that new stitch, fish out those abandoned projects and make a square.  Better still, make several.  Get together with your craftsy friends and make a stack.  Then post them to Africa.  Or France.  Or Great Ormond Street.  Wherever you’d most like them to go.KASparcel1‘Cos ordinary folk have BIG HEARTS, my friends 🙂

Catherine Wheel bags

bothbagsI do love a nice colourful crochet bag, don’t you? So much fun to make, so useful to have!  I fell in love with this design from Cozy Things blog, and following her instructions I soon figured out how to make one for myself.  And then I made another!

The base is worked as a flat circle of treble crochet (double in US terms); Cozy Things recommends the very wonderful Attic 24 bag tutorial for this, which you can find HERE.bagbottomThe main part of the bag uses Catherine Wheel stitch, worked in rounds rather than rows.  This is a new stitch to me!  I get a real kick out of learning new crochet techniques and this stitch is actually very simple, although the finished result looks quite advanced, doesn’t it?!  I found this great tutorial by The Crochet Crowd, and had it nailed in no time.  springbagI did an out-and-out copy of Cozy Things’ version on my first bag, even down to finishing the top edge with Attic 24’s Bobble Shell Edging.  The handles are 6 rows of double crochet (US single) worked into a chain of 100 stitches.  I did do my own flower design though, with a cute little button in the middle!floweCUThis was a really super-quick make, and I had so much fun doing it that I immediately began another.  I went off camping for a few days last week, and since each bag takes less than 50g of DK in each colour to make, it was a perfect little project to take with me.  One of my favourite holiday pastimes is to lounge around my campsite crocheting in the sun, so my second bag was finished by the time I got back!purplebagoutsideThe sunshine has really distorted the colours here, the middle stripes are actually deep green.  I did a slightly different top edge this time round too, but don’t ask me what stitch I used ‘cos I made it up as I went along whilst sitting in my tent!   The flower went a bit wonky on the second bag but hey ho…overexposedshotI reckon they make quite a groovy pair!

Wishing you all a wheelly (haha!) great week 🙂

Quick Colourful hats

hatcircleI do so love a small, stash-busting project every now and then, in between a biggie, don’t you?

These fab hats are a doddle to do, perfect for using up those leftover bits of yarn and for hooking away whilst in front of the TV/DVD/Radio!hatsThe pattern, by Jenna Wingate, is really straightforward and is one of the easiest crocht-rib techniques I’ve come across.  I did the ribbed bands with a US size F (3.75mm) hook, and upped to a UK 4mm for the main body of the hat.  Also, brilliant Jenna has even worked out a range of sizes, from Very Tiny Person to adult – what a star!redhatsThe braids were much easier than I expected and only took about 20 minutes to cut, attach, and finish.  I went with the length suggested and was really pleased with how they turned out.  I reckon they look pretty smart!bluehatsYou can find the pattern either on Ravelry (search for ‘Scrap Busters Hats’, or on allfreecrochet, HERE. Perfect for winter hooking and wearing!hatparadeOh, and if by any chance you live in Herefordshire and fancy purchasing a ready-made version, I have news for you on our Christmas craft fair coming soon!

Wishing you all a cosy, colourful weekend 🙂

Whoo-Hoo! Late Summer Ripple Blanket!

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I did it!  The Late Summer ripple blanket was finished the weekend before last, with a couple of days to spare (and take some pictures this time!) before heading off to visit my folks.  75 stripes of Dad-Pleasing Gorgeousness – hurray!bedspread finishedI presented it to my dad the next day, and he was VERY chuffed!  As usual, he’d completely forgotten that he’d ever mentioned liking the Purple Waves blanket and asking for one in shades of orange, and my mum had kept it quiet, so it came as a real surprise to him when I handed it over.  He loved the colours and told me later it was one of the nicest presents anyone had ever given him.  Aaah…  I’m SO pleased!border2

So, for all you blanket-makers out there, I used the following eight shades of Stylecraft special DK: Citron; Saffron; Sunshine; Gold; Jaffa; Spice; Copper; Matador.  The finished blanket covers a double bed, although I actually made it to fit a single bed with lots of additional wrap-around, snuggle-room.  I began with a Ch 213, and worked 75 stripes of 2 rows each, beginning and ending with Jaffa.

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I wanted a nice colourful border, so I did the rows of trebles on the long sides of the blanket in Sunshine, then filled in the ripples top and bottom and continued along the sides with a row of sc in Jaffa.  Finally, I did two rows of sc all around the border in Copper to finish off.corners1

I really like the nice ‘crisp’ finish that the two rows in the darker colour gives – I did the same on the Blue Waves blanket as well.

This has been my quickest blanket make to date: I started it on 16 August and finished on 17 October!  It’s also been one of the most interesting, as this isn’t my usual colour palette and I wasn’t at all sure how they’d work together.  But I loved the way it turned out, and seeing my dad so happy was BRILLIANT!finished2

Thanks as always to Lucy at Attic24 for the patterns and tutorials, which you can find HERE and HERE.  If you’ve been thinking about having a go at blanket making, I urge you to have a go at the ripple blanket.  It’s very simple and satisfying to work, and such great fun to play around with different colour combinations.  You can’t go wrong!

Wishing you all a ripplin’ good weekend 🙂