Update – crochet

When I saw this photo by Emma of Lulu Loves blog (Hello E! – she reads my wafflings) on Instagram last Thursday I was intrigued: Did Emma crochet this? What is it that she’s making? What yarn is she using? Where’s the pattern, or did Emma design it herself? And so on and so on. I have at least three questions in every ten minute period most days, and Instagram can make my brain go into overdrive sometimes. It feels as if it’s whirling at top speed. Usually I just check the hashtags and make a mental note to check back and see what develops; other days I have to send a message. Emma is a sweetie and so instantly told me all I needed to know. Basically if you search Pinterest for ‘pineapple market bags’ you’ll find patterns she said. So I did, right away. Being a clever cookie I later found out that she made the circle for the base larger and will have a bigger bag. No matter; I don’t need a bag, but I do need to try new crochet.

I foraged in my yarn stash and came up with fairly cheapy craft cotton I bought when I was making dishcloth, and off I went. It’s basically string and so is pretty hard on your hands, but when you’re gripped trying something new, you’re gripped aren’t you?

I was buzzing because I’ve never used such a complicated Japanese symbol pattern before, with no other instructions. I have a Japanese friend in Tokyo so sent her a couple of screenshots to ask what the text said. Not a crocheter, she said ‘it is instructions.’ I left it at that, since my crochet was coming out ok.

It has to be said that I dislike that I cannot credit the designer, or recommend the book from which this pattern came. I always link to pattern sources or credit designers. If you do recognise this image, can you let me know so I can add them in please?

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The middle looks wooky, doesn’t it? I must try and ease the first chain around to the right a little. I know there are bloggers who have written about ways to avoid the gappy middle and wonky line upwards altogether, where you’ve slip stitched into the third chain. I did Google and found some, but by then had already crocheted many rounds. It’s a ‘must learn’ another time. Since this is the base of a market bag it doesn’t really matter because it won’t show. Even as I type this I feel myself I feel myself resisting the temptation to grit my teeth, as a perfectionist it goes right against the grain, but sometimes it’s best to carry on and not keep unravelling…

Being cheap craft cotton it is a little splitty, but ok for this type of make.

Just one more round to complete the top of the pineapple.

It’s starting to curl upwards as it should, turning into a bag.

But there is a but, or a however with this project. That was all crocheted on Thursday. I was in my element and forgot my usual ‘Do a bit, then stop’ rule. It was 3pm before I realised I still hadn’t eaten lunch and I was ravenous. I did a little more afterwards and then called it a day. Now, really here is the but and the however: I have not picked up a hook or pair of needles since, this string has killed my elbow. Oh. My. Goodness. It is sore. So sore that I dare not aggravate it anymore. Last night I gently massaged it as it’s feeling stiff, but apart from that I’m being very wary. I do not really want to go through the process of acupuncture again. It works like a dream, but I’m hoping I dodge it this time. Last time the physio was in stitches when she asked what had inflamed it, and I replied ‘Kneading bread.’ I really don’t want to have to say ‘Crocheting a string bag.’ Cross your fingers it settles down soon please!

 

Have you ever used a chart with no other instructions? I liked the challenge of it (actually it’s pretty easy once you’re familiar with crochet) and will do more, when my elbow settles down….

Easter weekend

 

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Beautiful apple blossom on the tree
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Strawberry flowers gradually opening
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Little Easter giftbags filled with chocolate goodies
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Embroidered birdy tea towels. They would look sweet in a country kitchen hanging from the rail of an Aga but will also do the job of drying crockery (sweet old fashioned word alert!) and covering food nicely. I look at them and remember how much I’ve enjoyed doing a bit of embroidery again (split stitch and feather stitch) but do wonder how they’d rate on a very naff to super cool scale. Tea towels are very handy at least, as opposed to putting decorative things in embroidery hoops and hanging them on the wall, which is not really my style at all. My gin loving bears are currently covering a bowl containing Herman the German friendship sourdough cake batter. I need to bake the cake tomorrow after I come home from my (weird) day out.

Do you know this traditional rhyme? I always sing it at Easter. Loudly in the car this morning to Someone’s joy (not.)

“Hot cross buns,

Hot cross buns,

One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns

If you have no daughters give them to your sons,

One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns.”

Have a super Easter whatever you plan to do.

 

 

Sewing Again

After a bit of a break I gathered all my kit together yesterday and set up the dining room as a sewing oasis. This morning I got the inevitable “Your craft is all over the house!” I’ve been lucky not to hear this before I guess. It’s untrue anyway; last time I looked there was no craft in the bathroom, kitchen or smallest room of the house.

I have my pre-sew rituals now; one, before I even choose the fabric is to find the latest radio show by Paul O’Grady, Graham Norton or Liza Tarbuck on the BBC iplayer and I’m set. If it’s Liza or Paul I know I’ve got 2 hours sewing time, 3 for Graham. That tends to be enough in one go before I need to walk around a bit more and stretch. (I might be running in a minute; I’ve got a line of washing out and the sky is looking greyer and greyer.)

I’ve been sewing Easter thingymbobs so am not showing those….yet. The other make I can flourish a bit. It’s a simple pattern for a drawstring bag, made from only one fat quarter. You can find the pattern on U Create blog. I sent the link to my crafty buddy who replied asking if I’ve seen the fat quarters skirt. I sense a social sewing bee session coming on.

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It took me a while to sew because I undid the side tiny seams twice because it was a little rucked up after turning the fabric to go across and back a stitch or so. If you make it you’ll see what I’m trying to describe; basically look at the third tutorial photo. I tacked it then, old school styley, and got it sorted in a third time lucky kind of way.

All the Spring showers and sunshine (19 degree high this weekend) have made the grass grow like crazy. It’s definitely time to dust off the lawnmower. This is not my job. In light of this morning’s comment perhaps I should yarn-bomb it????! *evil laugher*

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Then because it irritated me a bit that the ribbon twists a bit when you draw it up and shows the white underside, (a Mollie Makes giveaway with the mag one month) I changed it. I’ve got several brand new rolls of Jane Means ribbon I won in a giveaway a while back. This is double-sided, thicker too and looks better. I’ll save the pretty chevron ribbon for something else.

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It’s a longish bag: 10″ W by 15″ L (someone please tell me which measurement conventionally comes first, or is it always the shortest one or the width or…? I forget.) Mine’s a little longer because of the size of my fat quarter. It’s the perfect size for an adult’s shoe bag or keeping a current knitting project in, especially if you’re using long needles. I’ll probably pop my crochet into it when I take it out and about. You can obviously play about with the size and also adjust the gussets, which make it sit flat. I was tempted to make another but think I’ll play around with some other drawstring bag patterns, it’s all good experience. If you find any good ones please send them to me via pinterest. You can never have too many bags, right?

Oh lordy apparently it’s also the perfect sized gift bag for a bottle of whisky.

Homemade London: Mystery Workshop

A few weeks ago my friend and I had to cancel our long ago booked Mystery Workshop at Homemade London. The tube strike was in full force, the weather was stormy and traffic in Central London was grid-locked. We rescheduled and the evening came around again yesterday.

You book a place, paying £12, and basically have no idea what you’re going to be doing for the hour until you arrive. Apparently they’ve run Mystery Workshops since May and haven’t repeated one yet.

When we arrived I was slightly dismayed to see a table laid with jewellery making pliers and fixings. I’ve enjoyed the jewellery workshops we’ve done, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do for an hour last night. Then I popped downstairs to the loo and discovered my idea of heaven set up downstairs; a table lined with posh Janome sewing machines. ‘I guess they’re ready for tomorrow’s classes’ I sighed.

Wrong!

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A dainty glass of something vodka based with several raspberries (only wafted near a vodka bottle it has to be said, but that’s probably not a bad thing before handling jewellery pliers) before we started to make earrings. There were 10 in the workshop in all which was a good number. The girl running the workshop was lovely, bubbly, really helpful and fun.

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The atmosphere was good and great fun as we laughed, groaned and muttered all grappling with jewellery links, trying to open the chain links to make four separate chains (from a choice of silver, rose gold and gold) and affix shells (pearly or blue/black.) The girl opposite forgot to breathe as she concentrated hard, prompting concern from her friend as she turned slightly purple!
Half an hour on each activity of the workshop meant we had a little time to play with those super sewing machines; making little bags for our earrings.

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We shared the machines in pairs. It’s the same as G has, so she cranked up the speed and whizzed along.
My sewing’s definitely getting better. My little seams are pretty straight now.

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We’re getting a bit more cocky now that we’ve sewn a few things and think that the basic little bag design could be better, rather than having raw edges at the end of the ribbon seam. But I did enjoy having the chance to use a sewing machine. Before meeting in the afternoon I’d spent some time chatting to the sewing demonstrator in John Lewis, Oxford Street, discussing buttonholes (last week’s revisited skill along with another friend. I need some practice so I haven’t shown you!) The chat had whet my appetite to do some sewing. Good timing all round. We stayed to chat after the class for a few minutes talking about machine embroidery which I’d really like to try sometime. The book below was recommended…

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And that, was another good day.

A lot of measuring, pressing & pinning

This week I’ve got together with a friend who has a new sewing machine and needed a little jog to use it. It’s like anything; if you don’t use it you can lose your confidence and that fizzy feeling of motivation can fade away.
So, as I’d already started to make a large tote bag (working my way through Sew! Cath Kidson) I suggested she do the same. It’s really good making the same item alongside another. Fun, but also I’m sure I’d make mistakes without the discussion and thinking out loud you do together, especially at this early stage of my beginning to sew again.

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It’s not puckered, it’s just the way it’s hanging off the newel post. Maybe it needs another press too after being bundled up on my way home?

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Pockets inside and out! I’m very pleased with this cotton tote. It’ll make a lovely crochet or knitting bag for summer crafting. My friend’s bag is super too. She used upholstery weight fabric so it’s very strong. Next time I make this tote I’ll use thicker weight fabric so it can be used for carrying heavier items. It could be a posh bag for buying fruit and veg at the market.

What are you planning on doing crafty-wise this weekend? Have a good one!

(I’m blogging on the go, on my way into Central London, so apologies if this post is dodgy in any way!)

String Bag III

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This time I used Wendy Supreme cotton since I wanted to make a single colour bag. I chose it because of the competitive price to be honest, compared with other cottons in the shop it was very cheap. I like the DK thickness, the cottony soft feel and love this poppy red shade (1949.) It’s actually darker than it looks in the photos, it’s sunny and a lovely warm 26 deg here today. Ya hoo!

The bag pattern’s from Granny Chic by Tif Fussell and Rachelle Blondel (I’d say to borrow or look for a cheap secondhand copy, don’t pay full price….) and I adapted it slightly. Instead of 4 dcs into chain spaces I made 5 dcs and crocheted an extra round so I didn’t cut and reattach the cotton for the second set of handles. I reckon they’ll stand more of a chance of not loosening/falling off if I don’t have dodgy darns and joins. We’ll see! I repeated the main pattern for 32 rounds and it’s looks like a decent length, but no danger of dragging along the ground when full. Unless I’m carrying rocks. I must remember not to carry rocks.

Hope you are also having  a lovely weekend. What are you up to?

::: I meant to say that after all these string bags I now feel confident that I could make a fishing net someday!

Yarn Along

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along. I’m always making something and read at least a book a week (I also have two audio books on the go at the moment: Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris and Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan) and love to see what others are up to, so this is a perfect –along.

Spotting the Granny Chic book, written by bloggers Tif and Rachelle, at the library made me very happy. Even more so when I discovered they include a string bag pattern, that’s very good news for my current obsession.

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Kate Morton’s The Secret Keeper begins on a Summer’s day in rural England, in the 1960s, where a picnicking family are celebrating a birthday. One of the daughters has slunk away to the tree-house to daydream. The seemingly idyllic story is shattered by a horrific incident, the reasons for which are explored in later life by the witness. The book shifts from the 1960s, back to the 1930s and to the present time, so far it’s very good; one of those stories I find hard to put down.

 

Provence Summer String bag

While browsing through a collection of string bag photos on Pinterest I noticed one that kept turning up. The pattern’s by Kathy North and is available free from Ravelry, it’s called the Provence Summer String bag.

So, that’s how String Bag no. II came about. It’s easy and fast to crochet in trebles and double trebles. Again I used more of my Planet Penny cotton with a 4mm hook.

Yesterday I pinned and then steam blocked it to gently pull it into shape.

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After a visit to the library, and a really nice book find, I’ve seen another string bag pattern which I’m going to try. I hadn’t planned to crochet another so soon but they say good things always come in threes, don’t they?

To the person who Googled and somehow found this blog using the rather sad search phrase: “feeling so fed up and worried will doing knitting and crochet help me….” the answer is YES! I really hope you feel happier soon.

Weekend days

20130701-100431.jpgThe hunter-gather came home with a smaller haul than usual, but another good catch from a morning fishing session. Caught with a may-fly which is late for this time of year apparently.

20130701-100439.jpgSunny morning x stitch, starting a kit I bought last year from Liberty of London.

20130701-100451.jpgI fancied a spot of baking and had the ingredients to make an Olive, Onion and Basil scone. It was just baking when the fisherman arrived home with uncannily good timing.

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20130701-100520.jpgInstead of the usual (rather dreary) DJ one of my favourite comics stood-in, while the other was at Glastonbury, on Saturday afternoon. When we saw Rhod at a comedy gig last year I laughed so much I cried. I crocheted with cotton while I chuckled along to the radio.

20130701-100530.jpgAnother walk along the canal, but in a different direction this time, to look for some geocaches. We chatted to a local character who has noticed many people wandering up the nearby lane off the canal to peer into the underground, looking for caches. The we helped a woman with a swing bridge as her husband passed under on their hired narrow boat. In return for answering my quick-fire narrow boat related questions we heard all about her son’s recent graduation and future career plans. Funnily they were from the area of Yorkshire where we should have been for the weekend.

20130701-100537.jpgQuite stunning tree fungus. I imagine there’s a troupe of fairies who live around this ivy clad tree.

20130701-100546.jpgYou may coat the ground with concrete and with gravel, but we shall not be deterred from flowering.

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20130701-100602.jpgAll those heads ready to sprinkle their seed for more poppies next year. I must remember to walk here again.

20130701-100618.jpgIt’s unclear, but through a gap in the hedge next to the canal I spotted a white sofa and glass coffee table. It looks like an outside shoot for an interiors magazine.

20130701-100629.jpgThe lambs and sheep were going bananas in the field opposite. What a din!

20130701-100637.jpgAh, there are a shepherd and his lad shearing them.

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20130701-100703.jpg“Rachel, if you carry on stroking her too much she’ll follow us all the way home.” It’s so hard though, she’s a very young cat with friendly curious eyes, and a funny way of leaping in front of you for more love.

20130701-101350.jpgBack home to finish the last few rows of string bag II. It’s now ready for steam blocking.

Gentle fun, ended with some glasses of Pimms and a meal at a local pub with a friend. Happy days, after the disappointment of cancelled plans.

The mystery item revealed

20130625-065305.jpgI’ve fancied making a string bag for a long time for some reason, I’m not entirely sure why as I’ve never owned one. I noticed Bill’s were selling brightly coloured ones as I brunched with a friend a few weeks ago, and it kind of reassured me that they’re not seen as grannyish now, but rather green and eco-friendly.

20130625-065325.jpgThe pattern is from Simple Crochet by Erika Knight, though I adapted it slightly to increase the number of rounds before the decreasing began. Mine is crocheted in mercerised cotton bought from Planet Penny, using a 4mm hook. Erika Knight’s bag is made from polypropylene string, but she recommends trying all kinds of materials including leather thonging, cottons, linen knitting or crochet yarns and natural string.

20130625-065341.jpgI have to say that this is a pattern where I didn’t notice any mistakes at all – it was really refreshing! This is going to stay our new bag-bag.  I might try another pattern I have and maybe make one for my brunch friend.
Well done Athlyn for guessing correctly!

Prachi’s bag

Backdated crochet post for good reason, it was a surprise for Prachi:

In the first week of July, or so, I made this little crocheted bag using Planet Penny cotton because I have a contact, Prachi, who is a trainee lawyer. She had recently moved to a remote, tribal district in Gujarat, India as part of a new job. The place she moved to lacks basic facilities (apparently running water is a luxury) and it’s very different from the city life to which she is used. Prachi had found a small, cosy place in which to live but was feeling very lonely. She was trying to make her new accommodation a home and really likes handmade items; and so I offered to crochet something of her choice.

After having a look at some of my crochet here she asked for a bag with a few specific requests:

::Could it be ‘holey look’ crochet

::A bag about the size of a kindle would be perfect

::Something she could sling across her on walks

::A bag to carry her wallet, mobile phone and keys (so not too holey then, I thought!)

::A bright stripey bag

I looked around at patterns but none were quite what she described. I decided to make my own design. My first ever off-the-cuff crocheted item. It’s pretty basic and was easy as anything to make in a granny stripe of clusters of trebles (I’ve really come on with this crochet lark I realise, I’ve definitely got the basics now!) but it’s still my work.

Here it is:

I toyed with the idea of lining it, but frankly I’m so unconfident about that kind of sewing that I decided it would be ok without. It’s sturdy and doesn’t have that much ‘give’ being cotton and is a fairly dense material as I used a 3.5 hook, so should be ok and not saggy.

To make the (very pink!) strap I made a lengthy chain, then double crocheted back along the row – very, very fiddly stuff. For strength I crocheted one end of the strap to the bag, then double crocheted all along the strap again until it could be crocheted to the other end.I have some nice buttons in my collection but decided that it might spoil the look of the front and the flap’s heavy enough to stay flapped over. A button can always be added. I’m happy to post a little chain for the loop.

But here’s the thing: I posted this on 9th July. I’ve waited and waited to hear from Prachi and just know she’d be super fast in getting in touch to say she’s received it. There’s maybe still time for it to arrive I guess. I’ll be sooo disappointed if it never turns up in India and am beginning to feel it might not, so have written this blog post so at least Prachi can see her bag, know she was thought of and the promise was promptly kept.

Fingers crossed it arrives please! :-D