December Days

The last month of the year has come & gone already!  Don’t know about all of you, but the holidays always seem to be upon me before I’ve really gotten into my December groove, sitting by the fire working on my Purple Waves blanket… then, just when I’m really beginning to get the hang of this whole Visiting/Doing Nothing/Eating a Lot business, it’s all over!  But it’s been a lovely month, full of friends and family and lots of crafty goodness…

…kicking off with manic making in time for the Machynlleth Craft Fair on the first weekend.  Just look at all that funky stuff!  Our stall may not have been the most profitable, but it was definitely one of the most colourful…craftstallside.…I also got to play with my printing block again this month, making a hand-printed lining for my best ever yet crochet bag, which – hurray! – I did finally manage to photograph as I went along, so that much-promised tutorial is underway at last…blockprinting…then things got a bit frantic as I tried to finish making gifts in time for the last Xmas posting date!  These are mini versions of the cute owls I made last year, using Bunny Mummy’s brilliant tutorial (which you can find HERE).  I put little muslin bags of incense inside these and they smell gorgeous…Xmasowls

…and so, finally, the food and pressies were loaded into the car and my friend Ursula (of One Woman Walks Wales fame) and I shared the drive across Wales and on into England to visit our respective folks.  We waved goodbye at the motorway services and normal life ended for a couple of weeks as the holidays began…ursulawaving

...I hope you all had a wonderful end to 2014 and are feeling relaxed and ready for a colourful New Year!   🙂

 

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…

🙂

WhooHoo! Summer Sunshine Bag

sunnybag1As mentioned in the November round-up last week, I finally finished the Summer Sunshine bag!  I started crocheting this waaaay back during my June glamping trip to the Usk Valley, and it languished on the ‘Project: Stalled‘ shelf for quite some time.  Conversations with other crafters (stand up, P. and Mum!) tell me that sewing everything together at the end is often the HARDEST part of any project so at least I know I’m not alone! 🙂sunnybag3

This is my second bag based on Lucy’s original Attic24 bag pattern, and I love the way it’s turned out.  These bags are easy to crochet, good and sturdy and they hold MASSES of stuff!  As before I made a lining for both the bag and the handles, and I’m particularly proud of my improved handle-attaching technique.  Here’s the first one I ever did:sewstraptobag

and here are my latest ones:sunnybaginnerquite a difference, I think you’ll agree!  Also very chuffed with my double-petalled flowers, making these is just so much fun.  I resisted the urge to smother the entire bag with them:sunnybagflowers1

I have one more of these bags to finish, and I really really will try to take some photos of how to make the linings so I can share a tutorial on that with you sometime soon.

And if you’re thinking that this bag is NEON bright, all I can say is that IT’S EVEN BRIGHTER in real life!!  See, I knew when I picked up that piece of pumpkin-orange fabric in the charity shop years ago that I’d find the perfect use for it one day…sunnybag2

Wishing you all a very bright and colourful weekend!

Notes from November

NovemberfromthebarnIt’s been a month of farewell to autumn and settling in for winter here in Magical Mid-Wales!  As the month’s worn on it’s turned cold enough to need a fire every night.  We’ve had some lovely frosty mornings and bright clear days – great for walking! – and there’s a feeling of everything slowing down and getting ready for the holiday season…

…my Christmas Cactus, that I’ve had for around 10 years, decided to flower early and is looking spectacular on my bedroom windowsill…xmascactus

…catching up with my friend Ursula on a break from her epic OneWomanWalksWales hike for Target Ovarian Cancer/Penny Brohn (go HERE to find out more & make a donation), and helping to take down the Tir Heddwch yurt for winter (and eat lunch!) in between rain showers…UrsulaAfterTheRain…FINALLY putting the finishing touches on the summer beach bag I started waaaay back in June!  A full ‘WhooHoo’ post on this one shortly…bagfinishing…late afternoon sunshine on the walk down from Llyn Barfog as I stop to rest halfway…halfwayhawthorns…lots more crochet for the craft stall!  I’ve been happily hooking these colourful mandala-like circles and stitching them together into little purses, inspired by Vendula Maderska’s colourful designs on Flickr…pursecircles2…and crossing the little footbridge on my favourite walk, noticing that all the leaves are pretty much gone off the trees and it’s proper winter now…Llyfnantbridge

…here’s to a magical December, with just the right amount of snow (ie the ‘wow-it-looks-like-a-Christmas-card’ kind, not the dangerous-to-drive-home-in kind) and lots of festive happenings to look forward to!

Wishing you all a very lovely week and month ahead! 🙂

Machynlleth Christmas Craft Fair

Saturday, 6th December 10.30am – 2.30pm

Machnylleth bowling club, SY20 8AU

craftfairAttention all mid-Wales dwellers and visitors!  My friend Annie & I will once again be doing a stall at the Xmas Craft fair next Saturday, if you are in the area (or know someone who is!), why not drop by and feast your eyes on all the lovely goodies for sale?  Entry is free and there will be lots of local crafts on offer.allcosies1Our stall promises to be even bigger and brighter this year!  I’ll be selling a selection of my bags, purses and Cosmic Cosies and there will be hats, hot water bottle covers, cushions and organic jams and chutneys from Annie.

If you can’t get to Machynlleth but would like to buy a colourful cosmic cosy for your loved one’s teapot (or your own), I will be selling some here on the website next month so look out for the Cosmic Cosy ‘shop’ page coming soon.

Hope to see some of you next weekend!

 

Purple Waves Pt 1: Hot Water Bottle Cover

It’s WINTER!!  Remember I said at the end of last month that I was looking forward to a new winter crochet project?  Well, this isn’t it!  But THIS, my friends, is my test-run for a full double-bed-sized winter blanket!  Oh YEAH!!HWBC1

I’ve been inspired by all the lovely Ripple Blankets appearing on Lucy’s Attic24 blog (here and here) recently, and decided I’d like to make one for myself using lots of warm purples and pinks.  As it’s such a big project, I thought I’d better actually check my tension for once (because we know what happens when I don’t, right??).  And then I got the idea that it would be SO COSY to have a hot-water bottle cover to match my blanket!HWBC2

Doing a ‘try-out’ like this was also a great way to see how the colours worked together. Originally, I thought I’d repeat the same sequence of colours through the whole blanket, but once I started making the hottie cover I soon saw it would look much better (and be more fun to make!) if I varied them.

If you fancy making yourself a snuggly hot water bottle cover like this, all you need is the Attic24 Neat Ripple pattern.  I used a size G (UK 4mm) hook and StyleCraft special DK.  It’s basically one long piece (42 stitches x 36 rows) joined at the top & bottom to make a tube then sewn up at one end to hold the water bottle; then a rectangle (28 stitches x 16 rows) attatched to the back to make the top flap.  Obviously the size may vary depending on your tension and your hot water bottle!HWBCflap

I ‘filled in’ the top and bottom of the ripples on the rectangle-flap to make them straight (as per Lucy’s tutorial), then crocheted a border along each side as well.  I also did a border along the top edge of the main piece, then crocheted the flap to the back of this (not particularly centrally, as you can see!) and sewed a button on the front.

hwbcback

Simple and very snuggly!  I’ve now started on the blanket for real, and there is something SO very relaxing about the rhythm of hooking these lovely purple waves in the evenings, I just love sitting by the fire, wrapping myself up in these gorgeous colours…  Expect to see a ‘WhooHoo’ post on this sometime…er, next summer??

Wishing you all a very cosy weekend! 🙂

 

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! 🙂

My Mexican Sunset mandala in Simply Crochet magazine!

mexicansunset2Something very exciting (for me, anyway!) happened recently! – Remember the Mexican Sunset mandala I made back in June for Yarndale?  Well as you know, I am a worshipper at the Temple of Attic 24, so I put a link to my tutorial in the Mandala page comments on Lucy’s website.

I only just got my mandala in the post before the deadline, and it took a while before it appeared on the Pinterest board.  But in the meantime, I opened my inbox and found…Lucysemail2OOOOOHWOW!!!  Can I even say how BEYOND THRILLED I was!?!  An email from Lucy! Wanting to use MY mandala in Simply Crochet??  How emphatically can one say YES in an email??

So that was three months ago, and behold, I am reliably informed that the September issue does indeed feature the Mexican sunset mandala (along with others, obviously!).

Thank you so much, Lucy!  I’m chuffed to bits 🙂

xx