Friday, 31 January 2014

Dolly Ripple Blanket

Morning all, I've just been looking and sorting my photos out into folders on the computer. I'm very much on a mission to be organised this year and although I still have a long way to go I can note improvement on the work and housework side. I guess it's a new year thing. Finishing off the ol' WIP's is another way I want to be more on top of things and this little dolly blanket, made for the new pram Father Christmas left is one of the first things I got done.

It started life as a cushion but I didn't make it wide enough, and anyway it goes with nothing in the house. I think it was meant to be a dolly blanket right from the beginning!

I was having a play with stylecraft special DK colours I have collected.

Just enjoying crocheting a sweet little thing.

Dolly sleeps well with her new blanket,

It keeps the chill out on our walks.

Styecraft special colours: Sherbet, Pomegranate, Saffron, Meadow, Walnut and Candyfloss

'till next time...

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Four Star Quilt

I'm finally getting around to posting about my four star quilt, which was finished last year but with Christmas / illness / work / life in general I never seem to get on with it!! Anyway this quilt is something of a 'major make' for me in terms of admiring for ages the picture I have of the original design by Pam and Nicky Lintott (called starlight express), and because I found it difficult to make and it was certainly a challenge! The photo appears in a couple of quilting books I have but with no instructions on how to make it. I have spent quite a bit of time staring at the picture, trying to figure out whether it was english paper piecing or machine made. I think it probably can be made both ways but I had a hunch that it could be done on the machine so with some research on the net I found this fab video that explains the process very well.

I have made an eight point star with strips cut at 5cm width, whereas the video is a six point star and a jelly-roll strip width of 2.5" - but the theory is the same.

I had been collecting fat quarters from various places for some time, the colours in my mind were peach, coral, teal and navy. Every time I saw something that caught my fancy I would pick it up, soon enough I had a decent stash to choose from.

Cutting, piecing, slicing and arranging was good fun (once I'd worked out the angle I needed - that made my brain hurt - 45 degrees). When I came to sew the strips together and match the seams I struggled with accuracy, I did stress a bit as I really wanted this quilt to be perfect. I ripped out many seams that weren't good enough and did them again allowing myself only a bit of tolerance.  I kind of came to a stage where I would let my seams be 2 or 3mm out just so I could move on, but I can't tell you how much I wanted them to be spot on!! The angle the seams meet at makes matching quite tricky, well for me it was tricky.

can see a few mis-matched seams in this photo. Deep breath Sam .

It did take a while to get all 4 blocks done but I was super chuffed with the result.

Quilting stage - always a little anxious as it's not my favourite part. I chose to do free-form quilting and even though I know how to do it, making it happen was challenging. My shoulders tense and I hold my head at a bizarre angle while I try and move the quilt under the needle - not too fast, not too slow. Some areas of quilting are better than others, once again not perfect but I'm learning to live with it :0)

So I'm nearing the end and decide to make a label, which of course delays the finish but I think is well worth it. I'm not too experienced in stitchy writing but love the effect, do you think it's ok for my first attempt?

So ta-dah!! My finished quilt on my bed. I do love it even with all it's un-perfectness. We have been living with the finished quilt on the bed for a good few weeks now and I love it more and more. I have washed it too and I find it gets better and softer with each wash.

Lots of photos with this one, but a long project over times means many photo opportunities!! 

Looking back, remembering how I felt before I started this makes me feel good that I made the effort and took the time to have a go. I admired the picture of the quilt in my book for so long, and now can admire my own one. Even though I gave myself headaches trying to get this as good as I could - and not making it perfect, it doesn't matter anymore that some of the seams are off and the quilting stitching is spaced out more in some areas than others. I've pushed myself and my sewing skills and am very happy with the result. I hope you like it too :0)

'till next time...


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Sunday, 12 January 2014

Hilo Shawl

I notice whilst reading through my blog list that quite a few people are mourning the end of the Christmas holiday period, when family return to work and school and everything goes back to normal. Well, I have to say I'm enjoying now more than the Christmas fortnight when we all were laid out with sickness, apart from my husband who was working so much 1. he wasn't around enough to catch the bug and 2. he wasn't around to help me look after sick children / or look after me while I was ill. Now, now I know I shouldn't be moaning or feeling sorry for myself, we did have a nice Christmas with some good times. I'm just saying as it's my husbands most busy time of the year (he's a musician and does 2 or 3 gigs everyday around this time for parties and in old peoples homes etc) it's not really that much of a family time for us.
However, things have quietened down a bit and quite unusually hubby was around today (the first Sunday he has had off for at least a year) so we made the most of it and went out for a family walk together to the Harrold and Odell country park. The weather was okay, but to be honest I was so determined for us to get out that it would have had to have been torrential rain to have made me stay indoors.

We walked around the lake and then had a play in the park. This slide has become the new favourite of my little one as she whizzed down like a bullet (don't worry, he did catch her) and repeated the word 'slide' four million times on the way home in the car.
We enjoyed a 'full english' for our late lunch when we got home and I felt so happy to have spent a good family day together. Hubby and me vowed to make an effort to have more days like these...

The one time over the Christmas period we were together was when we attended the wedding of my husbands friend at Slepe Hall in St Ives, Cambridgeshire. Our present to them was for my husband to provide the disco and live music for the evening, so even though it was like he was working of sorts, we still enjoyed the day together and had a laugh over the record decks choosing which tracks to play.  

Anyway, to make this into a crochet post and not a waffle one here is the shawl I made to wear to said wedding:

It a pattern called the Hilo shawl and is printed in issue 39 of Inside Crochet magazine. The yarn I used was Rowan all seasons cotton (shade 00237) which is a lot thicker than the suggested weight in the pattern. However it made up nice and I like the chunkiness of it. If I remember rightly the colour is called mother of pearl, it's a great description of the pinky peach shade.

I stumbled a few times over the pattern at first but after a while got into the rhythm of it and really started to enjoy the making of this.

The pattern of the stitches reminds me a bit of peacock feathers somehow...

You can see how long it's turned out! Wrapped round me though, a very much bigger subject than my svelte mannequin here, it stretches out more so doesn't drape quite so low.

The day of the wedding was quite cold and it did keep me warm as we posed for the photos in the hotel gardens. My father in law said I looked like a Scottish dancer (!) although I think maybe he meant more of a welsh traditional outfit. Not sure really...

I got the shawl pin free in a magazine some time ago, I can't remember which mag it was, but it really did a good job of keeping the shawl in place, as well as looking rather pretty don't you think?

Did you spot my four star quilt in some of these photos? I'm so out of sync with my makes and sharing them here on my blog, I really must make amends and catch up!! 

'till next time (when I will post about the quilt)...


Sunday, 5 January 2014

Peachy Scarf

There are yarn shops, and then there is Loop. Situated in Islington, London. It's a small shop with an upstairs and the most beautiful selection of yarn imaginable! It made me wish I could knit socks and lacy shawls.
Me and hubby were up that way last September as we were going to see my Justin Currie at The Union Chapel for a solo gig (great venue by the way) Of course, as one must do, I googled "yarn shops in Islington" before we headed that way and Loop came up top of the list.
Now I do like to shop, too much I'm afraid. And I cannot resist having a spend, so while hubby was happy in the antique / curiosity shop opposite I had plenty of time to mooch about the treasures inside. Very expensive it is, but beautiful. I treated myself to a skein of Juno Alice, a 4ply hand dyed yarn made of 70% baby alpaca, 20% silk and 10% cashmere - I know, talk about a treat!!! I chose colour way 'golden peach' and left the shop slightly intimidated, totally besotted.

I held on to the yarn for a bit as I had other things, as usual, on the go but always had in mind a skinny scarf to make from it. Then last weekend we had a wedding to go to and had booked a hotel room for the night. We had the little ones with us and as I would be retiring early with baby to bed I wanted a transportable project to take to keep me occupied between baby girl going to sleep and me nodding off. So my scarf it was.

I am so delighted with how it's worked out, pretty much what I had in my minds' eye. I worked out the square pattern myself and joined them together with the JAYG method to keep the lacy, loose effect.

In total I made 50 squares in 2 rows and finished off with 2 rounds of dc all around the edge. And that was pretty much all of the yarn used up - 400m of it.

It was the blocking that simply made this work. I emerged it all in some warm water and after gently squeezing the excess liquid out by rolling in a towel I pinned it out flat on the floor and left to dry for about a day. It does stink a bit when wet - I blame the baby alpacas, but it was so worth it as the blocking process really helps it to lie flat, brings out the stitch pattern and gives it a lovely drape.

I was afraid I wouldn't do this fabulous yarn justice but I am so happy with the way it has turned out - all credit due to the yarn itself - it really is worth the money!

I've included a badly drawn chart *edit 7/9/15: as there was a mistake in the original badly drawn chart I have created a new one which I hope is ok!  of the square if you fancy making one. I used a 2.20mm hook, and as far as gauge is concerned the blocked square measures 6.5 cm. Here is the pattern written out:

ch 6 and join with a slip stitch to form a ring.

Rnd 1: 1ch, 12 dc into the ring. Slip stitch to first dc to close round.

Rnd 2: ch 6 (this counts as 1 dtr and 2ch) 1 dtr, 2 ch 11 times, slip stitch to 4th ch to close round.

Rnd 3: slip stitch into chain space, ch 5 (this counts as 1 tr and 2 ch) 3 tr into same chain space. * ch 2 1 tr into next ch sp twice, 2ch, 3tr 2ch 3tr into next ch sp. repeat from * 2 more times.  2ch 1 tr into next ch sp twice, 2 ch 2 tr into starting ch sp, slip stitch to 3rd ch to close round.

Rnd 4: slip stitch into ch sp and ch 3, 2tr 2ch 3tr into this ch sp. * 2ch 1tr into next ch sp 3 times, 2ch 3tr 2ch 3tr into next ch space (the corner) repeat from * 2 more times. 2ch 1tr into next ch sp 3 times, 2 ch and slip stitch to 3rd ch to close round.

Make a total of 50 squares joining them as you go into 2 rows of 25. I've indicated on the chart above which chain stitch I used for the joining one. There is an excellent tutorial here for this joining method. Of course you can either sew or crochet them together if you want but this will use up more of the yarn so one skein may not be enough.

Once all squares are made and joined in 2 rows of 25 make the simple border by dc into each stitch all around, making 1dc, 1ch, 1dc into the 4 corner spaces. Do 2 rounds like this.

Block your scarf (the smell isn't that bad) and enjoy the luxury you have created!!!

As usual I have slightly rushed this while baby naps as I can't concentrate while she's up (bless her) so if you do spot any mistakes please let me know so I can amend.

'till next time

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Handmade Gifts

Hi ho, I cleared the Christmas tree down today. It was the worse tree I have ever had for needle drop (apart from 1997 when I didn't know better and literally had a pine needle carpet - this was before babies came along thank goodness) The tree this year was a potted one so I thought it would stay lush and fresh the whole time it was in the house - noooooo, oh no. It died right there in our front room and quite honestly depressed me and it just had to go - sorry.

On exit it made one last protest at being imprisoned in an alien environment and let go of pretty much every one of it's needles before it was out the door - I was like a demented dustpan and brush lady to clear what seemed like an infestation of those pesky little needles.

I have ordered an artificial tree that was in the sale at christmastreeworlddotcodotuk - it's taking ages to come, but I guess there's no rush.

Now that the festive season is over and all the pressies have been opened I can show you the gifts I'd made. This is relatively a new thing for me - I have always struggled with confidence and thought no-one would really want anything I'd made. However these things seemed to have been well received so  I feel quite happy about that.

I made some "betsy hares" to give to my nieces and great-nieces (hey, that makes me sound ancient!!) The pattern for the hare is originally from Pretty Patches magazine, designed by Helen Philipps, however I made them bigger than suggested, and then made the dress pattern myself. The shawls are half granny-squares and choosing the fabrics and yarn for their outfits was most definitely my favourite part of their 'coming to life' process.

This little sweetie has gone to live in Wales with a very lovely lady.

This is the trusty fireside capelet that I have made twice before - one for me and one for the giveaway I hosted a while back. I love this pattern, really so quick and easy. I thought it would make a great present for my friend Saffron. I saw her Mum in the supermarket today and she complimented me on it - thanks Marion!!  The yarn I used is Drops love you 4, a mix of alpaca, linen and wool - yummy.

and then these little crochet coasters ( I love this pattern so much) a bit of a last minute present for a lady I know through work who has had a bit of a rough year. Sorry about the light in these pics, I wanted to get a photo before I wrapped them and it was early, before work and it was still dark outside.

So I feel good that I made the effort this past Christmas and made some gifts, I will be doing it again next year I think.

'till next time...