This week 

This week I’ve pottered about making-wise and haven’t really done much. It’s been brilliant to feel 100% well again after a rough few weeks. I was concerned there might be something quite wrong. When the GP pronounced my results, and therefore me, ‘normal’, I breathed a big sigh of relief. I’ve steadily gone back to being my usual active self, with a quite a bit of extra grinning. It’s just so good to get your bounce back after feeling awful, isn’t it?

On Wednesday I was out, wondering if I should try to rush home in daylight to take photos for my weekly Yarning post, but decided that was plain silly. It was far more fun to carry on with the five mile walk home I’d planned, in bouncy Tigger fashion as I felt full of beans again. Then I made the decision to have a break from it as I’ve posted YA updates non-stop since April without a week off, even on holidays. It’s time to pause. I let the regulars know there and then, and that happily was that. I’ll still show you what I’m reading regularly; as I like the return comments and links to your posts sharing what you’re making and reading. Do carry on adding yours whenever you feel like it. 

So, this week I’ve made my friend that pot-holder for her new narrow boat, so she won’t burn her hand picking up the kettle. Its a nice pop of pink to go with her scarf curtains too. (Thinking ‘eh?!’ See here.) If you want to make one too click on the My Designs tab at the top of the page for the free pattern. If you do can you let me know, or better still show me your make please? I get regular messages from people saying they’re copying my colour combinations, checking details of patterns or asking for crochet advice etc but frequently I never have an acknowledgement of my reply, or get to see their version. If that’s you: Go on! Show me please! I’m on all the usual social media and Ravelry, so it’s dead easy. 

I finished my bag at Sewing Club on Monday. I guess I don’t need to spell out that I’m not a fan of all the pressing when sewing, especially as the tutor doesn’t use water in her irons. I imagine it’s because she doesn’t want leaky irons in her car but it makes pressing tricky. Sometimes I have sprinkled water from my drinking bottle to steam out particularly irksome creases but this week I lost the will to live iron again, by the bag’s end! That crease line will drop out with use, won’t it? Perhaps if I go out in the rain it will definitely go. That’s maybe an extreme anti-iron solution.

I’m reading Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Laurence Durrell and I can’t believe how good it is (this to raised eyebrows from Someone who bought it for me in 2014.) It’s funny and written in such an engaging style. I laughed out loud at Frangos and his cattle coming home in the evening, though felt a bit sorry for the one whose tail was being corkscrewed as he ran home.

When adding a few more rows I realised I can’t really decide if the Garter Stitch Blanket is ugly. It’s a stash buster and probably destined to keep someone in need warm, but I don’t want to send a truly hideous offering.

Last night I cooked this Chicken and Orzo one-pot dish but subverted the recipe using a little rapeseed oil, as I refuse to use yucky Fry Light.  It was very tasty, but next time I’ll substitute the suggested spices for smoked paprika, fresh oregano and thyme.

What’s your week been like? Whatcha making, reading and cooking at the mo?

Holey cowl

….Just in time for our current lovely Springtime temperatures! Oh well blink and the weather changes here in England.  I’ll take it away with me to wear during chilly evenings, or for wearing by the sea if the wind blows. 

The yarn looks a different colour in every photo, it’s more red not raspberry. 

The apple blossom should flower soon. It’s so pretty. 

Details – as you might want to knit a holey cowl too? 

I used Louisa Harding Orielle – Ruby (colour no. 12) 

This is a gorgeous wool blend; with 97% baby alpaca and 3% metallic polyamide (can you see the little sparkles?) It’s as soft as a cloud and drapes beautifully. 

I used 4mm needles and sewed the seam at the end. Can you spot it in the second pic? I’m not sure how I managed such a neat job of it, but I did enjoy the sewing. It would knit well on circular needles too if you prefer seamless makes. 

I used 3 x 50g skeins but if you want a longer cowl or a narrower one, the amount would obviously differ. 

Height: 41cm/16″ (I wear mine doubled over, I don’t have the neck of a giraffe!)

Circumference: 61cm/24″ 

Cast on 72 stitches 

1-5 rows: Knit  

6th row: K1, *yo, k2tog and repeat to the penultimate stitch, k1

And repeat until it’s the right height for you. 

Easy! Good pub or cafe knitting if you have a crafty meet up ahead. 

It’s not Mira’s Cowl, it’s mine!

I bought the yarn for my Mira’s Cowl at the end of September when I visited Yarndale. The other two skeins have yet to be used. But I think I have a plan for the blue 4 ply…

My wandering concentration issue was solved by buying stitch markers and from then on, magically, there were no missing sets of 2 stitches. So, they’re not simply for making knitting look pretty?!
I did decide against the ‘aggressive’ blocking advised at the end of the pattern. Although I chose to make the wider size cowl and it could be really long and loopy (see the pattern photo) I like the up, up chin warming properties of it when unstretched.

Because I knit and knit until I just had enough yarn left to cast off, it’s long enough for a giraffe. I put it on inside out and then double it over so the right side shows.

I found a stretchy decrease cast-off described here. It’s very easy and does exactly what it promises.

I just sat in the sun and single crocheted the seams together with a  3.5mm hook. As I’ve said before; if I can combine a bit of knitting with a bit of hooky then I’m very happy. Sewing up gets put off, funnily crocheting doesn’t! I’m typing this and still wearing my cowl. It’s so warm and snuggly as the yarn is 75% merino.

Next I’ve got to make myself do some more baby hexagons. It really is a bit like that, but I quite like doing them when I get going, especially if my audio book is on. I’m really into The Kashmir Shawl, I’m exactly halfway through now. I walked over 7 miles listening to it yesterday. I was so engrossed in the story that I didn’t even really mind when the ground turned into a quagmire. I ended up squelching home with completely brown trainers and socks. That must be the sign of a very good book…

 

Yarn Along 

  I’m crocheting a second V Stitch scarf. I only started a few days ago and it’s now nearly half done; it grows so quickly.  This is a very good thing as it’s a Christmas present.  Here’s the link to my pattern. I had to find it myself to jog my memory for the initial chain and hook size! That green scarf is my favourite and I wear it more than anything else I own, or have made. 
 I loved the film ‘Brooklyn’ last week. It’s the story of a young girl from a rural area of Ireland in the 1950s, who is emigrating to America. The first thing Mum and I said as we left the cinema was “Oh, the clothes!” Although I have a few audio books ready to listen to I just knew the novel, by Colm Toibin, would be fuller than could fit into a film. It’s going to be so interesting to see what the screenwriter, author Nick Hornby, chose to include and what to leave out.  Dissecting novels (auto correct wants this to be bowels!) into screenplays must be a challenging, but fascinating process. 

I’m joining in with Ginny and co once again. Now around 100 others link to Ginny’s weekly Yarn Along posts. This is many more than when I added a few of mine several  years ago. You can find some pearls of crochet and knitting inspiration there if you want to dip into new blogs. 

Star ripple II


  

This second 12 pointed star ripple baby blanket (or lap blanket as it kept my legs nicely warm, while I sewed) took me just a few days to crochet. Then at least a week to darn! There were more exciting things to go onto; with a new Hitchhiker scarf in progress and the Spice of Life CAL last week. But I made myself finish as I loathehaving unfinished tasks hanging over my head. All the pattern details etc can be found in the blog post I wrote after finishing the first.

The yarn colours in this one are Stylecraft Special DK: lime, raspberry, pale rose and parchment.

Oh my goodness I feel poorly today! I’ve come down with a stinking cold. They knock you for six, don’t they? It’s so long since I had one this bad. I’ve really appreciated mugs of peppermint tea, easy knitting and this week’s Downton to cheer me up this afternoon.

12 Pointed Star Ripple Blanket…finished!

IMG_1261 IMG_1262This blanket was such a pleasure to make, as it’s so different from anything I’ve made before. I have to admit to frequently putting it down; just to look at it to see the pattern emerging. The free pattern by Celeste Young is available here on Ravelry and although it’s designed to be made with aran yarn, I decided to try using DK. It’s come out a good size and would be a snuggly lap blanket for an adult, as well as a baby blanket (which is what it’s designed to be, of course.) I guess you could keep adding extra rounds and see how a larger size would look too.

The Stylecraft Special DK colours I’ve used are:

Lime, Parchment, Petrol, Grey and Claret

The blanket measures nearly 30″ in diameter from point to point and weighs only 238g. So, if you wanted to make a two colour version it would only use 2 balls of Stylecraft Special DK, as they weigh 200g each! I would probably prefer a more colourful version, but the option’s there. If you have lots of small leftover balls you could also make a really stripy version too. The colour combination is your oyster….

After crocheting now for 4 years I’ve really reached a saturation point where friends and family all have lots of my crochet makes, plus I’ve got as many blankets as I can use, and so I’ve decided to begin selling some makes to spread my yarny goodies a bit further afield. I’ve finally set up an Etsy Little Room of Rachell shop, after much dithering about various ways to perhaps sell items I make. (Dithering seems to get worse the older I get, is this only me?) and I’ve listed this blanket as my first item. I’m going to make a pinker version to list next. Due to a limit on characters I had to drop the The, but I think that’s ok in the scheme of things!

Homemade compliments

I’ve just read Sarah of Crafts from the Cwtch blog post about how her new knitted Colourblock Shawl has prompted compliments from strangers on the street. This reminded that when I wore my crocheted ribbed scarf to evening class on Tuesday I was complimented on the colours. It’s so gratifying to make something handmade and have it noticed. (For the right reasons!) Shop bought rarely gathers compliments; I guess the colours and designs can be too generic to stand out.
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If you want to crochet a ribbed scarf the pattern’s here. Or, you could dig out your knitting sticks and make Sarah’s cosy shawl.
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Currently I’m rippling away still, full speed ahead. The end is in sight, bar the darning and border. I have about 19 more stripes to crochet and I’m whizzing along to (don’t judge me) Glee: season 4. I gave up on Glee at the beginning of series 3 which was shown years ago here. It was so samey and they looked far, far too old to still be hanging around a High School music room! Series 4 was apparently broadcast two years ago, most of the originals have moved onwards and upwards which makes it fun seeing their next steps. It keeps me singing along as I fiercely hook, hook, hook on the sofa. To be honest I am absolutely dying to make some small fun makes, but I know I have to get the zesty raspberry ripple finished and then go back to the motif blanket. Both WILL be completed in time for Christmas.

What are you up to?

Brian – V Stitch Scarf / Cowl

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A couple of people have asked me what I’m crocheting at the moment. I should be concentrating on my motif blanket, and ripple, but I’m really enjoying simple crochet. I woke yesterday feeling really unwell and today don’t feel much better, and this is perfect. I watched my first Disney film, Tangled, in years yesterday afternoon. Maybe the first since the Little Mermaid? I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it, that’s a definite sign of my custard brain. The animation seems more like 3D than before, perhaps Disney have had to adapt their technology to keep up with Pixar type films? The characters, especially Rapunzel, looked just like Blythe dolls, all huge eyes and small faces.

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I had some good news – Lang have NOT stopped making Tosca Light it’s just that for some reason I couldn’t find it on their website. I’m so pleased. If you look under Autumn / Winter on their website you’ll see the range of colours. (I know…they should make me a Tosca Light ambassador.) Lang is a Swiss company in case you’re wondering, TL is made in Italy.

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I’ve been looking out for other types of v stitches in my Harmony Guide to Crochet Stitches. I was lucky enough to find it in a charity shop for a song a few years ago. They call this one Three-and-Two Stitch, it’s descriptive but a bit dull…

I’ve run out of yarn as I had only one 100g ball left and my scarves tend to need 150-200g as I like them lonnnng. Time to find some more. If I won the lottery I’d just fill a room with it. Oh, why not a house actually?

I was really pleased to hear that Kate’s (Greedy for Colour) Mum; Mrs A in Australia (Rambling with me) is crocheting a V Stitch Scarf, using my last pattern which you can find HERE. The power of the internet eh – sharing what we’re making with others all over the world. I really love it. I should put pattern links on Ravelry. One day.

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I asked what I could call this scarf and had “Brian” as the answer. Well, why not? I did ask!

Brian v stitch scarf / cowl

5mm hook – if you’d like a lazy, looser type of fabric, but try a swatch and see what you feel. I tried with a 4mm hook and it was nice too, although quite a firm fabric with far less drape.

150-200g DK yarn depending on the length of scarf or cowl you prefer
Lang Tosca Light is 100g/400m a ball 55% new wool, 45% acrylic.

Width: 22cm / 8 5/8ths ”
I’m aiming for – Length: 80″ / 203cm
Will probably be – Weight: 150g -200g

V stitch = 1 tr, 1ch, 1tr (UK)V stitch: 1 treble, 1 chain, 1 treble into same space (UK terms)
ch = chain
tr = treble
v st = v stitch
ss = slip stitch
st = stitch
tch = turning chain
sp = space

Foundation Row: Ch 50
Or a multiple of 6 st + 2 to get the width you want
R1: (Right side) Work a v st into 5th ch from hook. *Miss 2ch, 3tr into next ch, miss 2ch, work a v st into next ch; rep from * to last 5ch, miss 2ch, 3tr into next ch, miss 1ch, 1tr into last ch, turn
R2: 3 ch, *miss 2sts, work 3tr into centre tr of next 3tr, work a v st into ch sp at centre of next v st; rep from * ending 1tr into top of tch, turn
R3: 3ch, *v st into sp of next v st, 3tr into centre tr of next 3tr; rep from * ending 1tr into top of tch, turn

Rep R2 and R3 until desired length. I’m aiming for about 80″/203cm.

If making a cowl join short ends together using ss; bearing in mind before you join the ends that there is a right and wrong side to the fabric. Finish off and darn ends.

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I’ve been meaning to say this for a few years(!) when I get to the turning chain of the previous row I always find it easier to use a 3mm hook to go into and make the last stitch, aiming for the same tension as the rest which I’ve made with a 4-5mm hook. That might be a useful tip if you’re new to crochet and have trouble seeing or feel like you’re forcing the hook through the top of the chain, it depends on your tension and eyesight probably!

Also, when crocheting in rows after I turn I’ve always taken the hook out of the stitch, rather than twisted the stitch. Do you? I’ve always wondered if that’s correct, me being pernickety or just silly?

Happy v stitching your Brian scarf / cowl!

V Stitch Scarf / Cowl

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I finished this last night, while watching Birdsong. It was such a fast make and if you’re thinking of crocheting a C———- gift for someone this would be perfect, particularly if you’re a last minute crafter.
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I prefer scarves because you can wear them lots of different ways, with a cowl it seems there’s really only tight or loose. You can easily crochet, or sew, the two short ends together before fastening off if you prefer a cowl.

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V Stitch Scarf / Cowl

Yarn: Lang Tosca Light DK
55% new wool
45% acrylic
1.5 x 100g ball, 400 m

Hook: 5mm (You want to crochet a fairly loose and lacy fabric)

Length: 80″ / 203cm
Width: 9″ / 23cm
Weight: 150g

V stitch: 1 treble, 1 chain, 1 treble into same space (UK terms)
ch = chain
tr = treble
v st = v stitch
ss = slip stitch
st = stitch

Foundation row: Chain 48
Scarf / cowl can be made narrower or wider by adjusting starting chain by 3 stitch multiples
R1: Tr into 4th ch, tr into each ch to the end, turn
R2: Ch 3, (counts as a tr at beginning of every every row) tr into each tr to end of row, turn
R3: Ch 3, v st into 3rd tr (skip 2 tr, v st into next tr) to last tr, 1 tr into 3 ch of the previous row
R4: Ch 3, (v st into each space of v st of previous row) across row, 1 tr into 3 ch of the previous row
R5: Ch 3, (1 tr into first st of v st, 1 tr into space of v stitch, 1 tr into 2nd tr of v st) across row, 1 tr into 3 ch of previous row
R6: Ch3, (1 tr into 2nd tr and every tr) across row, 1 tr into 3 ch of previous row

Repeat R3-6 until scarf / cowl is desired length. (If making a cowl join short ends together using ss; bearing in mind before you join the ends that there is a right and wrong side to the fabric.) Finish off and darn ends.

Try on and flounce about in front of mirror/your significant other.

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If you make one of these I’d love to see yours, please leave a link below or tag me on IG.

Knitted cactus pin cushion

Inspired by a cactus pin cushion I spied in a craft shop in the Summer I decided to have a try at making my own version after my table got a bit scratched by my new pins the other week. They’re too long for my 20131111-102229.jpgpin cushion which I reckon would be termed ‘vintage’ now as the material dates from the 1970s. I’m wondering if these are really millinery pins?

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I glued a circle of felt to the bottom of the flowerpot so it wouldn’t scratch the table. I bought a new terracotta pot although you’d never know with all the glue marks I’ve left. At least I didn’t superglue my fingers together, though I did ruin the trousers I was wearing due to glue blobbage as it set firm in a plastic disc. Oops.

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There’s a lump of polystyrene at the bottom of the flowerpot, then some toy stuffing so the cactus sits at the right height. Next time I might try using rice or similar just because of the huge mess the polystyrene made (see photo on my Facebook page…) when I tried to saw a chunk from a piece I’ve been hoarding.

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How to knit a cactus

I used Stylecraft Special DK Meadow Green, with 4 mm needles.

Cast on 30 stitches for the main body of the cactus
Rows 1 & 2: Knit 2 rows of stocking stitch (that’s 1 row in knit stitch, the next row in purl stitch)
Row 3: Knit a row of garter stitch (that’s all knit stitch)
Repeat these 3 rows until you have a nice tube – check this by keeping the knitting on your needle and folding the rectangle in half until it’s the diameter you’re happy with.
Don’t cast off, just cut the thread leaving a length to thread a needle and gather up all 30 stitches tightly, fasten off securely and darn in the ends. That’s the top of your cactus.

Cast on 15 stitches for the ‘arm’ of the cactus (I probably need to look up cactus terminology?!)
Repeat the 3 row pattern, as for the body, until you’re happy with the tube you’ve made. As above, gather up the stitches and secure.

Crochet some earth!

FR: Chain 6, slip stitch into a circle.
R1: Treble 6-8 into the circle (depending on your tension)
R2: Chain 2, then DC into each treble of the previous round
R3: Chain 2, then DC into each DC of the previous round, increasing into every other stitch
R4: Chain 2, then DC into each DC of the previous round, increasing into every third stitch

Continue rows in the same way increasing into every fourth, then fifth, sixth stitch etc until the circle fits nicely into your pot.

Sew the arm onto the body of the cactus and then sew the cactus onto the earth circle (sounds New Age?!) Use superglue with care, sticking the sides of the earth circle to the pot.

Stab the cactus with an assortment of pins and darning needles until it’s suitably spiky.

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Here it is in use last night as I began preparing to sew a Cath Kidson pattern – a large tote bag.
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It’s an anniversary today – 2 years of The Little Room of Rachell. How time flies! When I look back I’m amazed at how much I’ve made, with lots of learning curves. I really didn’t think I’d still be blogging beyond learning to crochet, which was my goal for the New Year of 2012, but it’s been fun making crafty connections with others and sharing what I’m up to online diary style. So I carried on day by day, week by week without a plan. I just looked at my stats and this is my 305th post! Admittedly I’m rarely short of something to say, both here and in real life! Thank you for reading, especially if you’re part of the little band of followers who’ve been here since the beginning. And thank you for leaving so many great comments (2,374!) I always really appreciate it when you stop to type your thoughts, or respond positively to a post. As many of you know I often reply with an email, it’s been fab batting chatty messages back and forth.

The blog’s definitely evolved and is not solely crochet focused anymore. This year I’ve been dabbling in all sorts of crafts, although crochet is still a big part of how I spend my spare time. I joined a knitting group in the Autumn and find it far easier to crochet while I chat and get to know the group. I don’t have to look at what I’m doing all the time, and I always take something simple like the huge Granny Squares so there’s no counting or complicated pattern to follow. Several of the group are also both crocheters and knitters which is cool.  I have to say that it’s nice to watch someone else also wave a hook and a glass of wine around!

Have a fun New Year’s Eve! Enjoy reflecting on the past year and looking ahead with crafty resolutions, learning goals or just anticipating lots of creative fun to come in 2014. :-D xxxx

Grandma’s knitted washcloth/dishcloth pattern

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There are lots of patterns for this type of cloth but after testing a few I decided they come out too small. I’m lazy so when I wash my face I want to soak the cloth, hold it in both hands have a quick scrub and done!

I’ve edged it in crochet in other versions I’ve made, but this is just cast off at the end with no frills.

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Here’s my take on the basic pattern with the initial stitch count increased:

Grandmother’s washcloth/dishcloth pattern

Yarn over: easy as easy can be although it sounds tricky. All you do is bring the yarn to the front as if you’re going to purl the next stitch – but don’t – knit the next stitch. You’ll see you have an extra loop over the needle, you will knit it on the next row.

Cast on 6 stitches
R1: knit 6
R2: knit 2, yarn over (yo) knit the rest of the row
Repeat R2 until 66 stitches on the needle
R3: knit 1, knit 2 tog, yo, knit 2 tog, knit to the end of the row
Repeat R3 until 6 stitches on the needle
Cast off or first double crochet (USA single) around the edge, you can make a chain loop in one corner if you want to hang it up.

20131102-091307.jpg It’s squarish at 25x26cm but it’s probably pointless blocking a washcloth.

I knit the cloth with 4mm needles. The yarn I used is lovely, being soft and not at all splitty, it’s the inexpensive King Cole Bamboo Cotton, shade 693. It can be washed at 30 deg, don’t tumble dry.

You can thread a pretty ribbon through all the holes, place a small bar of scented soap in the middle of the cloth, draw up and tie the ribbon in a bow. This could be a sweet little gift (I think I’d like chocolate in mine!)

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I did play around with this pattern and carried on R2 until I had a triangular scarf (see it in progress here) but ended up unravelling it to 66 stitches as I knew it was probably something I wouldn’t wear. If you think you would this is a dead simple way to knit a triangular scarf.

I’m slowly crocheting a few rows of the hot pink scarf each day, and have just started to crochet a cabled yoke cardigan for a friend’s baby. What are you making at the moment?

Thank you for all your good wishes on my Inside Crochet adventure :-) Happy weekend everyone!