2016

Here are my makes of last year, well most of them. There are quite a few other things that were started and unravelled, for various reasons. None of which I regret! Despite my intention to knit or crochet smaller makes (including socks) I seem to have hooked quite a few blankets again. Why does that keep happening?!

I’m not really sure what I want to concentrate on this year. I’m working on the Blackberry ripple and that’s not far off from being a good snuggly size. Then I’ve just got to do the darning and crochet a border.

Next I think (and don’t hold me to it) I might use a posh skein or two of wool and knit another sort of cowl. I think I’ve come round to them after wearing the Mira cowl a lot this year. I’ve always preferred wrapping scarves as tightly or as loosely as preferred, but this has been very cosy and you don’t have so much of it stuffed down the front of your coat! Hey-ho, hey-ho it’s off to Ravelry I go.

My friend has sort of lost her slouchy bobble hat (there’s obviously a story there) so I might be hooking one of those again, for her birthday in April. If only she knew someone with a fishing rod, who’s a dab hand at casting, I’m positive she could retrieve hers…

It’s Day 1 of the New Year, where normal non-festive life has resumed and no alcohol, mince pies, chocolate or twiglets have been consumed. I do fancy a hot chocolate though, that’s surely alright? It’s COLD out there.

Week 43: CAL Blocks #205 #209 – THE END!

IMG_2540#205 Hourglass

5 1/2″ W 5 1/2″ H But —- will fix that I hope! (Fill in the blank; y’know what I’m saying by now!)

IMG_2533#209 Marigold

5 1/2″ sq.

What a lovely one to end on!

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So, 43 consecutive weeks of crocheting blocks and we’ve reached the end. :-D Well done everyone, it’s been fun. I’ve enjoyed being introduced to new blogs and seeing all the photos on the Ravelry CAL group project pages.

Thanks for joining me. I’m glad I didn’t plough through the book alone. It’s been fun comparing colour combos and seeing if others have the same issues with patterns, or like the same designs. My pattern reading skills have really developed because of the CAL. I’ve also learnt some new stitches and discovered how much I love (bobbles) or hate them (popcorns, kind of!)

Now we’re on Summer hols (ya hoo!) until September when we can post about blocking, joining, what we’re planning to do with our 128 blocks (!!!!) and share any issues or concerns etc etc.

*Grin*

Week 42: CAL BLocks #193 #197 #201

Here are my unruly blocks in the penulitimate post of the CAL for the September starters. It feels good! It’s been great fun, and good for my crochet skills in lots of ways, but I’m really enjoying the freedom from the schedule of making 3 blocks every week.

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#193 Textured Stripes

5 1/2″ sq-ish. with a bit of tugging out at the sides. You already know that I’m going to say how much improved all three will be after blocking, right?

I like the texture of this stitch. It might be a a good one for a dishcloth.

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#197 Fretwork

5 1/2″ sq.

I like this, there’s a good contrast between solid and openwork crochet.

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#201 Zig-Zag Bobbles

5 1/4″ W

5 1/2″ H

R4&6 have a missing *. I just made a dc into 7 st then MB again.

I didn’t read the pattern in reverse so my bobbles are more Zag-Zig, but I don’t think it matters for the sake of avoiding the aggravation of reversing everything. I increasingly feel that designers should include pattern details for lefties too. Why not?

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I’m amused, and a bit pleased, to see that new joiners are still coming to the Ravelry CAL group, despite the threads being silent for a long time. Check out the projects page to see lots and lots of blocks, people have posted some beauties.

I must dash now and eat lunch, then go shopping this afternoon. It’s my MA Graduation Ceremony (feels like it needs to be in capitals!) tomorrow and I need to get a few things to look smart when I wear the cap and gown. Did I ever confess that starting the CAL was a complete distraction from the study, and writing, I should have been doing for my research dissertation? Probably not. But both have been completed. ;-)

Week 34: CAL Blocks #100 #101 #105

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#100 Pastel Delight / Block 100 delight!

5 1/2″ sq

I like this, it adds extra interest to the Granny Square middle

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#101 Into the Blue

5 1/2″ sq

Bit boring to crochet if you made a whole blanket from these blocks – according to my CAL notebook.IMG_2380

#105 Double Stripes

5 1/2″ sq (3/3 this week!)

These dc stripey blocks are a bit of a swizz – a filler for the book’s block count. I’ve photographed this upside down! If I rotate the pic the angle makes me feel vertigo-ish so I’ve left it.

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Confession: I’ve also crocheted next week’s blocks this week because I haven’t got anything else in progress at the moment. I fancy doing some hand sewing so will do a bit next week as I’m ahead with the blocklets. I won’t post them early though, I don’t want people to feel they’re behind when they’re not.

I’ve got a pack of felt, some threads and ribbons so will see what I can come up with. Oooh speaking of ribbons – guess what? I WON five rolls of three metre ribbons this week. :-D I’ll post a pic when they arrive.

I’m in declutter and scrape the dust off the surfaces mode at the moment. It must be bad because at one stage I stopped singing along to Louis Armstrong and found myself doing an “Oh myyyyyy god” at the billowing clouds of dust that were between some of my folders. Shameful.

Have a creative weekend, if you can, everyone!

Week 33: CAL Blocks #97 #98 #99

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#97 Eyelet Lace

5 1/2″

I ran out of apricot (I’m using every last scrap of my baby cashmerino) so there are 3 rows of sienna to finish at the top.

R4: ‘Break off yarn A’ ?!

R5: Repeat row 1 but note that you’re going to ch3 then 1 tr into the next 2 ch, not 2 tr.

R8: At the end of this row I was confused dot com, why did I only have 1 tr?  I looked at the book’s photo – it’s all back to front compared to mine! I guess if a leftie wanted to create something identical then you’d need to reverse the pattern, starting from R4 > 1. Are you wondering what I’m waffling about? Well, basically left handers crochet rows from left to right, rather than righties who go right to left. This is why my holes go up to the left and yours will go to up to the right as in the book.

I quite like being different to most, it suites my sometimes contrary character. At school once out of a huge group of sixty, during lacrosse training, there were only two of us left-handers who needed to learn a different technique. This resulted in one very grumpy teacher.

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#98 Old Vienna

5 3/4″  I turned R6 into a ‘tr into every tr of the previous round and  ch sp as my block was a measly 5″.

R3 & 4: Crochet 1 tr not 1 dc mid round! You’ll always use the book’s photos to check if you’re switched on and thinking about what you’re doing. I wasn’t, so ended up with a funny scrunched up triangle. Bah!

This reminds me of #10 Openwork Square, which is not a good thing.IMG_2371

#99 Baby Bow

5 1/2″

I  see I squashed some of the bobbles down a little  trying to stop the curling for this photo, but gave up for the group photo below and used pens to anchor the corners, though some bobbles still look rather subdued. They’ve perked up and are all nippley looking again now.

It was very apt crocheting this block today, as the baby for whom the Baby Jewel blanket was crocheted was born this morning! I can’t wait to see her in hospital and pass on the blanket tomorrow. IMG_2366

So, the next block is the big 100, wooooo! And, the beginning of the cheaty ones:  ‘Look you can make them in all kinds of colour combinations and this book can be legally called 200 Blocks, when it’s really far fewer.’

Happy weekend everyone! Have fun and stay safe wherever you are. ♥

Wool Money

There are those who are completely anti-gambling, others who’d never place a bet because they wouldn’t know the first way to go about it, and many who wouldn’t bother because they never win anything; even a church raffle. And then there are two who tend to place a small bet on the same sporting event once a year, namely The Grand National last Saturday.

One of these picks horses based purely on their names (food & drink themed this time.) The other chose their two horses partly for their name, but also checking details such as odds and track record.

One of the four lost its rider quite early on and the others came FIRST, SECOND & THIRD…..!

So now I’m able to resume the CAL with a lovely new supply of wool. :-D

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Afterwards

It’s finished. All over!

The feeling that I should always be doing something else and not really crocheting, or watching The Gilmore Girls, or wandering around shops or meeting up with the girls; drinking, eating and chatting or or… or… or… or….  is over! I can do it all at once if I choose to from now on.
I have handed in two bound copies of my research dissertation, and at some point this year I’ll (hopefully) once again be wearing a silly cap and gown. It’s odd but you’d think today I’d be out there looking for a hill so I can fling my arms around in the air singing loudly, a la The Sound of Music, but actually I’ve got that massive sense of anti-climax.

I’m in the Little Room typing this properly (two fingers and all) instead of on my iPhone which is how I’ve been posting lately during  this very, very busy last month. I actually missed the sitting here at my desk, in front of the window doing my daily surveillance of the neighbourhood. It’s only been a morning (!) but I’ve missed seeing my elderly neighbour go out to meet her friends. I haven’t seen the 3 year old opposite, who is the size of a pin-head,  come back from nursery on her teeny scooter wearing her teeny helmet with her Dad at lunchtime.  I haven’t spotted the lady who looks like Jilly Cooper either. Around this time she usually walks past wearing her welly boots with a little terrier at her heels. I also haven’t noted who’s got their Ocado/Sainsbury’s/Tesco food delivery today or how many courier parcel deliveries have arrived. But after such a non-stop 7 day a week routine writing this month it’s bound to take a bit of adjustment huh. It feels a bit like it’s the first week of January because really the whole month passed me by, apart from a few walks in the snow.

First things first:

1. Make some hot chocolate with as many marshmallows as I can fit on the top (it’s a pint mug)

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2. Finish the third CAL block of the week (new wool, new wool!!!)

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3. Go and find some flowers to celebrate The End

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(Liberty of London when we visited in December.)

PS: It should be noted that setting up the CAL was in no way to distract myself from all the work I should have been doing. In no way. At. All.

It should also be noted that when we enjoyed a bottle of Taittinger last night S did not toast The End saying ‘TF it’s over” :-D

Week 9: CAL Blocks #24 #25 #26 #27


#24 Italian Cross

Baby cashmerino (being slightly thinner than dk) is just a bit too thin to show off this stitch, like I thought for the popcorn stitch it needs a bulkier wool to show it off. I probably should have pulled the chain a bit tighter as the top of the stitches look a bit loose. But it’s my first ever go at the puff stitch. Darning the ends will make it a bit less saggy looking in places.

In my CAL notebook I’ve written that the Harmony Guide to Crochet says ” A puff stitch is a cluster of half treble stitches (usually 3-5) worked in the same place to make a soft lump.” Ha! I’ve created soft lumps.


#25 Tannenbaumn

I used the new colour to finish off the last stitch in the background colour when starting the tree stitches each time, and swapped to the background colour to finish off the last stitch of the tree design. It seems to work.

I’m kicking myself that I didn’t think of using two balls of background colour instead of carrying all that yarn, but I wanted to avoid darning and didn’t think of the third way. D’oh!

At 5 3/4 ” square this is turning out to be the average size of my blocks.


#26 Snowflake

This, of course, needs blocking to straighten it out but it’s ok. I’m not a fan of very holey blocks but it’s good to try new stitches.

One of the rare blocks that is 6″ square


#27 Snowy Stripes

I think there’s a mistake in the notes for spike stitch at the top of the pattern. I checked the notes at the back of the book, then went to my trusty Harmony Guide to check too. Basically don’t go into the top of the next stitch after going below the next stitch, yo and pulling through, just yo again and draw through the stitch as you would a normal dc. I tried it the way the note said and the spikes were almost diagonal.

6 1/4 ” wide 5 1/4″ high. Oh!

Lots of darning too, would it work to carry yarn up the sides? What did you do?

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I’m definitely learning new skills and picking up tips from other people doing this CAL, it’s good learning new techniques. It’s made me want to move my knitting on and try something new (harder!) sometime.

Did you see what a commenter wrote on my last CAL post?

”…….I met Jan Eaton a couple of weeks ago and she said every block in the book is blocked and steamed to within an inch of its life!” I think this is regarding the different sized blocks (which is why I reckon the book is not called 200 Crochet Squares, there would be too much hassle from crocheters!)

Week 4: CAL Blocks #10 #12

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#10 Openwork Square
It’s vital to check there are 33 dc at the end of your foundation row and I also found counting at the end of each row 2 a good check to make sure you aren’t missing/adding a stitch. Wibbly wobbly patterns like this are easy in lots of senses – they grow fast and aren’t tricky to do – but they can funnel out or in if you’re not careful.
I wasn’t sure about this after I’d crocheted it, S thought it “looks particularly 70’s crochet” and I reckoned it was a bit string bag. After a weekend away and looking at it with fresh eyes I think it might work well as a scarf design, if you turn it on its side and squint a bit.

#11 Baby Blocks
I stopped halfway and spotted a few places where I hadn’t crocheted the yarn in properly and so decided to unravel this block. I’ve just been away for a fab long weekend with a group of friends in the oldest recorded city in Britain (guess before you click?) and so I’ll do another version this week.

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#12 Fine Lines
I really like this! It’s also one of the few perfectly 6″ square blocks so far.

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We are now a month into the Crochet Along! It’s incredible how fast time has flown.

How are you getting on? Is 2-3 blocks a week feeling do-able?

Week 3: CAL Blocks #7 #8 #9

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#7 Corner Granny
I like this pattern so much I made two! It’s my favourite so far in fact. I might have to try blocking for the first time so these are at their future best.

#8 Popcorn Flower
Not my favourite so far. Fiddly stitch and not that impressive for the yarn that goes into making these popcorns. Is it just plain wrong to say that getting the popcorns ready for photographing felt like XXXXXXXXXXXXXX (completely inappropriate for a crochet blog so have censored myself, but it did.)
I dislike the mid row joins too. This is not going to be a pattern which is doubled, eh?

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#9 Arcadia
(Introducing my new colour – yellow.) Easily made but I’m not so keen on very holey patterns though the colours are pretty. It needs block-blockety-blocking of course.

Really looking forward to #12 Fine Lines next week, it’s pretty and has an easy rating in the book.

Come and join me on the CAL (crochet along) it’s not too late, and it’s fun but not too demanding crocheting 2-3 blocks a week :-)

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Week 2: CAL Blocks #4 #5 #6 #169(!)

#4 Bobble Diamond
I’m pleased that I found bobbles so easy after my concern that I’d struggle. They are a piece of cake! As I said before; I checked The Harmony Guide and did a chain after each bobble to secure them.

So easy in fact that I made another! (They curl a bit at the top right and bottom left corners so I pinned them to the carpet to photograph. Anyone else have curly bobble diamond blocks?!

#5 Twin Stripes
It’s crucial to get the very end stitches of the foundation row right otherwise row 1 is completely off-kilter!

#6 Textured Bluebells
I like this one a lot, I think the DBBC colour fits the name and pattern perfectly.

And uh-hum *cough cough*

#169 Interlocking Stripes
I just wanted to see how my Debbie Bliss colours, well 8/9 of them anyway, look together. I decided there’s something missing and bought number 10 yesterday. All will be revealed soon!

A word for the future – this is a ‘darn heavy’ block (whichever method you prefer, mine’s sewing at the end of the block.)

Have you noticed that I’ve stuck to my CAL Resolution? So far so good anyway…..

I’m going for a little wander round blogland now to see how others are getting on, there are also some fab pictures on Ravelry and more being being added to the group’s projects page all the time.

This is fun! Week 3 here we come. :-D

Week 1: CAL Blocks #1 #2 #3

I was really keen to start crocheting something new, so I crocheted the first 3 blocks last week. I was feeling a little apprehensive about how long they would take me to accomplish, since I am probably only at an intermediate crochet level at this stage. Will I understand the patterns? Will I master bobble stitch (block #4 uh-oh) spike stitches and the dreaded popcorn which always makes me nervous for some reason, although I’ve never actually tried making one. They’re probably a cinch? I’m also between projects because I’m meant to be darning in all those pesky ends of the Rhubarb Ripple and the Target Squares blankets, but my fingers get itchy if I don’t do any crochet for a day or so.

CAL Resolution: I’m going to darn in every single end when I’ve finished a block before I begin another. Darning is fine, but not 1000 ends at once which holds up the exciting final stage of joining or edging.

Have you made any CAL resolutions? Go on, spill if you have – I’m so nosy.

Here goes then….

#1 Triangle Stripes

#2 Tiny Textures

#3 Square Target

It was all going so well with #1 until the decreasing rows

If the paper can stay this is fine!

Redo – carefully! Counting is the answer.

Stylecraft special DK (SSDK) 6″ square-ish!

Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino (DBBC) Bliss indeed! My first posh wool, it’s so soft to work with and the stitch definition is amazing. Compare block #2 SSDK & DBBC
This is 6.5″ square using a 4mm hook

Oh fudge! I thought this was a perfect first attempt. The needle highlights where the error began

Second try. Ohhh! Spot what I’ve done? (Ignore the tape measure) I added an extra row for this block to try to square it up, then decided to stick with the written pattern for the next attempt (I swear there is one more row in the pictured block in the book…)

HURRAY! Third time lucky
SSDK 3.5mm hook 5.5″ square

Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino: 4mm hook 5.5″ high & 5.7″ wide
This is my patch of marigolds

SSDK 5.5″ square

The outer pink is darker than shown – photo taken under the apple tree so the sunlight was dappled

Pleased and a bit proud of myself, mistakes and all it’s been good fun

The plan so far:
>I’m going to carry on using the two hook sizes for the two yarns.
>I’m not going to stress about the differing sizes as there’s blocking, which I’ve never tried but is meant to work like magic, also some clever soul suggested using the larger blocks for one project, the smaller ones for another.
>I’m just going to enjoy the challenge of crocheting the blocks and decide what to make out of them later.

:-D

PS:: I’ve found out a mug of earl grey tea on a lap-top does not reach a happy conclusion. Just to let you know in case you’re breezily sitting with your drink right there…. DON’T!

Naughty wool shopping

Tuesday: I’m a terrible shopper, a classic browser who can spend hours in shops looking, touching and picking things up, even restacking and neatening displays, but I’m not actually any good at buying most of the time. Often when I go clothes shoppping I return home with multi-packs of socks. At least now they’re stripey or spotty colourful socks; not the terminal black packs I always, always bought during my non-craft decade.

This afternoon I deliberately left my yarn shopping at Mason’s till the last ten minutes before the shop closed so I would be forced to make a decision under serious time pressure. Well technically it was that, and leaving home late due to the fact that I wanted to finish last month’s Mollie Makes in the bath before moving on to the new issue. The first of my year’s birthday subscription plopped onto the doormat this morning. Ya-hoo! I know I’m very easily pleased: Mollie Makes, a hook and some socks and I’m happy.

There is a LOT more wool/yarn than this, plus fabrics and haberdashery (and two more shops in the town) but I still take very surreptitious photos in shops. It is a tad embarrassing but I thought some of you might want to see what the shop looks like since I know they send international orders.

So what I’m leading up to is that I’ve bought yarn. Better than that I’ve bought wool, proper grown up sophisticated posh wool, Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino. If it’s good enough for the Queen of Crochet Blogs (you know….) then it’s more than good enough for me. I’ve really only ever crocheted with 100% acrylic. I am a fan of the Stylecraft Special DK but seriously wanted to try something different.

It is pricey but it’s gorgeous. I adore the range of colours. I want to put it on my face and leave it there it’s so soft. I also think it’s going to produce a nice sized block for my CAL though unlike serious, sensible crocheters I haven’t been swatching. My approach is to crochet and accept whatever block appears. I’m definitely not working out yarn quantities ahead either, yikes that could end up being scary given I’ve spent lots of pennies. “Look after the pennies and the pounds look after themselves” I’m choosing to think about the pennies and not the pounds in this case.

I’ve chosen a starter range of colours for my initial blocks that are inspired by my memories of our cottage garden style flower beds which were in my childhood garden here in England. I remember red-hot pokers, lupins and delphiniams, plus marigolds, little flowers called pinks, moon-daisies and iris and….

I might add some light pink and maybe a splash of yellow, but I know that I want oranges, purples, some deep dark and bright colours. So that’s everything I suppose, but no neutrals.

I’ve started putting a Cottage Garden board together on Pinterest if you need any pretty pictures to look at for inspiration. It’s a work in progress as I’m still finding my way round the site.

Thursday: I could say I’ve done a swatch, deciding to make a sample and be a sensible crocheter, or I could say I couldn’t wait and I crocheted the first two blocks. (More about that later.) Either way I’ve made a decision about the yarn I’m going to use….

…Any ideas for what I can make with softer than clouds DB baby cashmerino?

DoNT sAy a BlaNKet!!!