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 🙂

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 🙂

Stirring from Hibernation

helleboresWell Helloooo!!  What’s that you say, winter’s nearly over??  Time to wake up?!  Hang on let me just rub the sleep out of my eyes…

Ah yes, it has been a while, hasn’t it?  But I wasn’t asleep for the entire winter, I promise.  I may have spent most of my evenings cosying up on the sofa during Nov/Dec/Jan, but I was crocheting like a Demon while I was there!  The Boho Blaket is my take on the Attic 24 Cosy Stripe.  I started it back in November and it’s now actually finished, stripe-wise.  But I was inspired by Kathryn of Crafternoon Treat’s version and decided I want to add a granny square border, so there’s still some way to go before I do a full ‘WhooHoo’ post on that one!blanket&squaresI had a day out back in January, visiting the lovely town of Bishop’s Castle in Shropshire.  The main highlight was the Aladdin’s cave of yarny goodness that is Sheepish, where I splashed out on some very funky sock yarn.  sockyarnNow, I haven’t knitted socks for over 20 years, when me and my fellow hippies used to knit with multiple strands of DK on chunky needles to keept our feet from freezing in our trucks and busses in the winter!  But having read Lucy’s blog post on the subject, I decided to have a go with this modern new sock yarn and Winwick Mum’s pattern.  And yay, look!  Socks!  Well, OK: Sock.  And a bit.  I guess this is just a Whoo, for now.  Yes I know it looks a bit stumpy, ‘cos I have very small feet – I made the right length but it’s a bit baggy around the foot to be honest.  But not bad for a first go, I reckon.onesockAnd then suddenly it was February, and the rain stopped, and I felt the urge to be sewing again.  A while back, Béa’s Sewing Adventures posted about 2015 being her year of ‘Total Sewing Fail’ and I commented that it had been pretty much the same for me.  I could write a whole other post about why, but one reason was that I’ve not sorted out a proper sewing space since moving to this house.  So the first thing I needed was a decent table.  And then my lovely friend Jas (she of the amazing Vintage Pattern collection) gave me the most brilliant table, that was sitting up in her loft!  It’s sturdy and HUGE (in this pic only one of the extensions is pulled out!), so I’ve basically just cleared the front of my living room for it and decided that this is now my sewing space.  I’ve got some shelves to go up on the wall to the right, and I think you’ll agree that with maximum light from the bay window it’s a pretty good set up.sewingspaceFeb16bAnd yes, I HAVE been sewing!  Cutting out is SO easy!  In fact I’ve almost finished making something, more soon, but here’s a sneak peek.  Oh wow, just LOOK at that retro-tastic fabric…skirtcuttingSo it looks like hibernation is over, and various winter projects are nearly finished.  Good thing too ‘cos the garden is going to need some serious work very soon!

Wishing you all a bright happy week 🙂

I’m Back!

flowergardenHELLOOOO Blogosphere!!!  I’m back!  I have emerged from The Summer of Broken Technology at last!  First, my 3-days-out-of-warranty Canon Powershot (yes, I am Naming Names) camera broke; then my laptop died; then my strimmer collapsed as well.  As you can see from the length of the lawn in the above pic, taken with my trusty 9 year old Sony Cybershot (again Naming Names!).  What a ride!

Anyway thanks to our local Hero of a computer Wizard, my laptop at least has happily been restored & I’m back in business.  Oh, I have MISSED my little blog-world, and reading all my fave people’s blogs, too.  But don’t think I’ve been sat here pining away for Pinterest and iPlayer though, there’s been lots of crochet, gardenening, and out-and-abouting going on.  How about a quick picture round-up? – Go on, you know you want to!

Early in July, I went off for a long weekend retreat at Tir Heddwch led by Val Young.  Val is an incredibly talented artist, healer, and meditation leader, you can find out more about her work here.  A truly amazing, inspiring weekend…

TirHeddwchTeepee…I also finished the Blue Waves Blanket in time for a visit to my folks’ mid-July, so I was able to present it to my mum.  She was delighted with it and loved the colours, even the little bit of purple I sneaked in!  I didn’t get to take many pics due to the camera fiasco, but this is the finished article, just before it got packed up for the journey…bluewavesfinishedthe garden has really come into its own over July & August, and despite the slow start, the flower border has been looking pretty spectacular…gardenborders…while the veg garden has been feeding me extremely well!……veggarden…after finishing a crochet project, I always find there are lots of oddments of yarn left over.  What to do with them?  Well, these little solid granny squares from Attic 24 have used up my Purple Waves blanket leftovers, and were really nice to sit and do in the garden on sunny days…purplesquares…but I have my aunt to thank for another stash-busting inspiration.  In fact, my aunt is an inspiration in herself!  In her late 70s, with arthritis in both hands, she still knits squares for the wonderful orphan charity, KAS (Knit-A-Square).  If you haven’t come across these lovely folk before, do take a look at their website.  It’s not just knitters they want!  You can crochet squares for them too, like these in super-chunky yarn that work up in no time …KASchunkysquares…or why not try making something from one of their free patterns?  See if you recognise some of the yarn I’ve used here to make the pieces for a funky kids’ pullover…bluewavesfront…these are great little ‘portable’ projects to take out & about with you.  I’ve been off on a few dog-sitting weekends for some close friends this summer, and it’s been lovely to sit with a cup of tea, a basket of yarn, a soppy dog and THIS view (even though it’s mostly been raining whenever I’ve been there!)…BrynTeganview…of course small projects are great, but I can’t resist the lure of another blanket!  I’ll save the details for a separate post, but this might possibly be my BRIGHTEST blanket yet…

test&chain.jpgI hope you’ve all had a wonderful summer, and are looking forward to the bank holiday here in the UK, and a glorious autumn.  Thanks to all for bearing with me during my hiatus, it’s very good to be back!

Wishing you all a bright sunshiney week 🙂

Crochet Bunting

crochetbunting1Well it looks like summer is on it’s way, wouldn’t you say? – And just like last summer, I’ve had the urge to snazz up my space with a string of colourful bunting!

These little crochet triangles are based on the Attic24 Summer Bunting, which I saw on Lucy’s blog last year (one day soon, I WILL crochet something that isn’t Attic24 inspired, I promise!).  I prefer this design to the larger, ‘granny triangles’ that were used for the Yarndale bunting, and did my best to work out the pattern from the pictures.crochetbunting3

Not quite as neat as Lucy’s, but not bad!

I wanted this bunting to liven up my kitchen window, which is quite overshadowed.  My original idea was to use fresh greens and yellows with splashes of bright orange for some ‘zing’, to go with my kitchen colours.  However my first attempts had a somewhat ‘Cheesey-Irish-Tourist- Board-Ad’ look, so I introduced a few more colours to the mix… before I knew it, out came the purple, the turquoise, the day-glo pink… I just can’t help myself, can I??crochetbunting2

I steam-blocked the whole ‘string’ when it was finished to stop the triangle points and the top band from curling under, then raided my button stash for a bit of ‘bling’.  Because, y’know, I didn’t want it to look dull…
crochetbunting5

So, this didn’t quite turn out the way I saw it in my head, but I think you’ll agree, it does cheer up the window and make it look rather summery.  And you can definitely tell whose house this is now!crochetbunting4

Have a bright and colourful week, everyone! 🙂

February Farewells

NewHome

Well Hello and happy St David’s Day!  Now I know it’s a short month, but how quickly did February flash by?!  Even so, it was a full-on February for me (sorry I can’t seem to stop with the crazy alliterations), mainly taken up by my house move…

…I spent a bit of time at the beginning of the month saying ‘farewell’ to some of my most treasured Dyfi Valley places, like my favourite walk at Glaspwll…GlaspwllTrees

…and beautiful Tir Heddwch, where I got to have a go at helping weave a new willow screen…Willow Weaving…but then it was time to pack everything into the van, with much help from friends and family…VanMan&Woman…and say farewell to my Coach House flat, that has been my home for the last 3 years…Farewell CoachHouse…and head on down to The Marches, to my new house.  Which is in total chaos still, so I’ve got no pics to show you til next month!   But in amongst all the unpacking and sorting out and general exhaustion that comes with moving, I taught my brother to crochet!!  How cool is his first ‘happy-enough-not-to-unravel-it’ granny square??  Come on, how many of us did this well in our first week? – Not me, for sure! Robs1stGrannySquare… I don’t know about you, but for me, doing something creative is like going to a calm place when everything else gets too much.  Since all my sewing stuff was packed, I had a go at crocheting this snoodie-neck-warmer pattern with a lovely, unusual yarn that my friends Helen & Alison brought me back from Yarndale last year.  It’s made from corn fibre – yay, no allergies! – so I thought it would be nice to make this as I could wear it close to my face, unlike a lot of fibres.  It feels a bit like a cotton-acrylic mix and works up really nicely.  But it took me ages to get the hang of the pattern and although I like the effect, I’m not too happy with the size and shape it turned out.  I may well unravel it and just make a nice headwrap in this stitch instead…Popcorn Yarn Headwrap…so that was February, and here I am with a houseful of boxes, completely frazzled, and with so much still to be sorted out!  But it feels great to have done it, at last, and I love this area so much and am very pleased to be here…Hergest AfternoonI hope you all had a fabulous February: now here’s to clocks changing, daffodils opening, and all kinds of Springy Goodness in March!

🙂

Cosmic Tea Cosy shop now open

pink_orange_purple1They’re here!  I’m very pleased to anounce that the cosmic cosies have landed and are available for sale NOW!  Head on over to the Cosmic Tea Cosy shop to feast your eyes on the dazzling display.

allcosies2Cosies are just £5.50 including FREE UK P&P!  Yes that’s 1st class post, so you can order right up to Wednesday 17 December if you want your cosy in time for Christmas.

Right, let’s put the kettle on…

🙂

The story of Crochet Turtle

One summer afternoon last year, me, my brother, and his partner were all lounging in my lounge when my bro remarked on how much he liked my round cushion.  It was a gift from my old housemate, made by her friend Svetlana and has Indian-style embroidery on one side, soft green velvet on the other.front&back

We all agreed that we liked round cushions, and I said I’d like to try doing a crochet one. He said he liked the green velvet though, because it made him think of a turtle.  So I said, what about crochet on one side, velvet on the other?  And as one voice we cried, it could be CROCHET TURTLE!  Those of you old enough to remember Touché Turtle and his battle-cry can no doubt imagine the silliness that ensued…

And so the idea was born, and I declared that I would make them a pair of Crochet Turtles as a slightly-belated housewarming gift, and then spoke those words FATAL TO ANY PROJECT, “How hard can it be?”.

I searched the Blogsphere, Ravelery and beyond for my perfect turtle pattern…. who remembers this cute critter (pattern here by Little Muggles) from last Xmas?shelley profile

And I experimented with some lovely different turtle shell designs, by Kathrin Bardeleben and this one by Sonea Delvonprototype shell

But none of them were quite what I was after.  I had this idea in my head you see, of EXACTLY how these turtles would look.  I wanted a crochet ‘shell’ of granny hexagons on top in shades of green/teal/orange, crochet head and flippers, and a soft velvet ‘belly’ underneath.

So, chanting ‘How hard can it be?’, I went and made up my own hexagon pattern, which I’m pretty pleased with.  Once I’d figured it out I went ahead and ordered my yarn.  I wanted something really soft and smooshy but also machine washable, so I went for Cascade 220 Superwash.  It’s 100% wool but – I guess because of the superwash process – I can handle it without too much allergic reaction.  Plus it comes in a wide range of bright, vivid colours!turtleyarn

I finally started crocheting my granny hexies in April this year, still without any real overall pattern in mind!  I didn’t get far before I realised I would also need a half-hexagon to make my design work.  That took me quite a few goes to figure out, and it wasn’t until I’d actually made all the pieces and started stitching them together that I realised they still weren’t righthexagonslaidout

Can you spot my mistake? – There’s no single crochet border on the long edge of the half-hexies!  So I had to unpick and re-do them all…

Next came the head and flipper challenge!  I wanted the heads to be crocheted and stuffed, so I adapted the Little Muggles pattern for these. But again, I couldn’t find any flippers that really fitted my turtle vision of crochet on top, velvet underneath, so I had to make up my own.  I’d bought some lovely soft velvet from Minerva Crafts in the sale, but didn’t realise until it arrived that it was stretch knit!  So I had to use fusible interfacing on all my flipper pieces to keep them stable enough to stitch the crochet to them.  BUT, it worked!  And I’m quite chuffed with how they turned out!flipperb&f2

OK! – I now had my shells, heads, and flippers, all I needed was a cushion pattern.  I didn’t fancy trying to sew a zip into stretch velvet circles, and poppers or buttons always come undone I find, so I decided on the ‘envelope’ option.  Could I find a pattern??  It was beginning to look like these turtles would still be on my ‘In Progress’ shelf by the time their intended recipients had saved up and emigrated…

So yes, I had to make up my own cushion pattern as well.  “How hard can it be?” – well, VERY, with stretch velvet, I discovered!  Note to self: stabilise your top circle with some fusible interfacing first before trying to stitch your crochet and bottom cushion-flaps to it!

BUT, I prevailed!  Heads and flippers were sewn on by hand last of all, and FINALLY, one year, two months, and three weeks after the idea was born, WHOOHOO!!  I give you – CROCHET TURTLES!bothpadded1How cute are they?!?!swimmingturtlebothpadded2

Here’s a (slightly blurry!) ‘belly’ shot so you can see how the cushion cover bit works:turtlebelly1And a nice turtle-in-action shot!swimmingturtletop

So there you go: it was a big designer-maker adventure for me and the finished cushions did turn out pretty much the way I had imagined them in my head.  Plus they are VERY silly and make me smile a LOT!

The turtles have now swum to their new home in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, where they’ve been so warmly received that it’s given me a great big happy in my heart!bothunpadded1CROCHET AWAY! 🙂