Winnie’s Wave Blanket

And it’s done! I finished the little border on Saturday and feel really pleased with this wave blanket for a friend’s baby, Winnie. I wanted to make a big enough blanket for her to use when she’s a bit older; to be able to snuggle with her Mum on the sofa and so on.

The edging is perfect I think. It’s just the right size to frame the rest, without taking over in a ‘Look at me! Look at me!’ style.

The ‘wrong side’ above just to show you the back of the edging. The ‘right side’ is below. I do love the lines that you get when you crochet into the back loop of a stitch. I don’t think it matters which way up it is, as both look fine. This is a good thing as when Sophie’s only had a few hours sleep, I don’t think correctly placing a baby blanket is going to be a priority!


When I began this blanket in June (see this post) it was just to use up some leftover yarn and I didn’t have a specific plan in mind. I’m very glad it’s turned into Winnie’s Wave Blanket and going to someone I know, who is really grateful and looking forward to receiving it. And how considerate of Sophie to name her baby so well, so we can all enjoy a bit of alliteration! I’m really looking forward my visit on Thursday.

The details:

Stylecraft Special DK: 1. plum 2. grape 3. parchment 4. lavender 5. silver 6. stone 7. denim 8. sage 9. storm blue

L: 89cm / 35″ (inc border) W: 75cm / 29.5″ B: 2cm / 3/4″ W: 427g

Sorry, I didn’t ever count my chains but your tension will vary to mine anyway, just chain multiples of 10 (+1 for the turning chain) and see how you feel.

Pattern: Attic 24 Neat Wave  and my border was also inspired by Lucy’s Moorland blanket edging I preferred my 4th round to be the same BL dcs, rather than the slip stitch that Lucy used.

My timer has just gone off, so I must away and put my oven on to bake a couple of loaves of bread. I will back with some wintery pictures tomorrow, as we’re between ankle and knee* deep in snow at the mo!

 

Very slight exaggeration

Nearly there

  My William Morris inspired motif blanket has been keeping me occupied during the evenings this week. I’ve crocheted a jaygo row each sitting and when I realised I’d done the last row I felt jubilant. This has not been a swift make with all those ends to darn, plus the fact that I designed my own motifs after making a quarter of the original blanket.   Next I need to darn in two ends of yarn for every block then steam block it in sections to get it to relax and motifs to line up. Lastly it needs a border.  I’ve planned the overall size to be roughly 6′ by 4′ so it can be a good sized blanket to snuggle in, but also for the intended use of going at the end of a double bed. It coordinates with a pair of William Morris design curtains; which explains the colour scheme and its name. 

I look forward to wrapping it up in Christmas paper (“Think of it as delayed gratification” I shall say) and presenting it to the person who asked me to make a replacement blanket for the now slightly moth eaten one her Grandmother (my Great-Grandmother) crocheted for her when she was a teen, who chose the colours and who has (mostly) waited patiently for its completion. 

 I might get an Easter egg after all. 

Make it, Wear it

See, no look of an egg cosy here, I thought it would look gorgeous on my friend. The slouchy beanie with pom pom is a success. It’s a Birthday present and definitely lives up to the book’s name: Hook, Stitch and Give. It’s all come out of the marvellous brain of Kat Goldin. No, I’m not being paid to promote. I’m simply a happy reader / maker.

We’ve just had a day out at Excel, London at the Stitching, Sewing & HobbyCraft show.

It was too hot during the morning, before the air con was turned on, crowded and overall we felt it was crammed into too small a space. I don’t think the Knitting & Stitch show at Olympia has any serious competition, but we had free tickets, so didn’t feel we lost anything. We probably won’t be going back though.

I took a few photos….

               Menai Bridge by Liesbeth Williams 

Horizons

Layers of the Anglesey landscape, the colours, lines, details and the ever present skyline inspired this quilt. Liesbeth overlaid sections of strips, highlighted by deliberately messy black stitching. The fabrics were hand-dyed, mono and screen printed, then painted. 

I love the colours of this quilt – as you can imagine, they look even better with the naked eye than in these photos. It’s also given me hope. Perhaps I could also overlay sections of strips and do ‘deliberately messy stitching’ with my sewing skills, that definitely seems doable!

Slouch & Bobble Hat: hooked, stitched & ready to give 

The great thing about crocheting this Kat Goldin pattern, from Hook, Stitch and Give, is that it gave me a chance to practice foundation treble crochet (FTC). I admit I looked around for a few online tutorials just to check I was doing it right. Once I was reassured that I needed to have two loops on my hook after going into the chain, it was plain sailing. Sometimes it’s the basics which I find myself double checking.

FTC is basically a way of making a chainless foundation row, you start out with only three chains on the hook but end up with a length of bouncy springy trebles. It’s magic I tell you! FTC is perfect for when you need a stretchy edge. I’m keeping my eyes open for something else which uses this method as it’s cool to try something new.

Because I was making this for a friend I wanted to make sure my tension was a-ok; easier said than done I discovered. The recommended 5mm hook gave me a swatch of 8cm across and 4 cm high…NOT 10cm square. Ok, so change to a 6mm. This swatch was close to 10cm across but still only 4cm high. I chatted to one of my hooky IG friends who has made a couple of these beanies and had exactly the same height issue. I’d love to know if you have the same should you make the same, in the interests of curiosity. I’m not sure how you can correct the height thing unless you change to DTR? In the end I decided to use a 5.5mm hook which gave exactly the right circumference for the starting rib for the brim. I decided to wing it height-wise as I had plenty of yarn.  I used Stylecraft Life Aran which is a wool blend (25% wool, 75% acrylic) in grey and fern. The wool content and texture of the yarn makes it pleasurable to use, aran weight works up so fast compared to DK.  Oh, well would you look at that! I’m tilting again! Hannah of Not Your Average Crochet blog said she liked the pattern so much she was using it for a cushion cover, but hers also tilted quite badly. I don’t think it matters at all for a hat, it just amuses me. It happens because you’re crocheting around and around in one direction.

(ETA:) I missed out the chain between the trebles; as a hooky friend said they made her hat too slouchy/wide. I tried the pattern as written and found the same, so also missed them out.

  I showed it to you pre-sewing up on my last post. Afterwards I decided to measure the height of the beanie. What a plonker….! To be anywhere near slouchy it needs to be much taller. I worked out I’d need to do 13 sets of the repeat rows, rather than the stated 8, then the crown decreases. Undoing really careful darning is painful. I just don’t quite know what happened as I had tried it on lots a few times and run off to check (tea cosy) in the mirror upstairs, but failed to spot it was normal beanie sized, not slouchy.  It’s nicely slouchy and a perfect 27cm now. “Do you think it’s ok? Will she like it?”

“Well if it doesn’t suit her, she can always stick a strap on it and use it as a bag.”

On the bright side

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I really fancied doing some more embroidery but thought I’d only do a little Thursday evening so as not to aggravate my elbow. I really enjoyed semi watching, mostly listening, to an episode of Lewis (the psychology student/psychics/elephant tranquilliser one) using stem stitch to sew the letters of my personalised tea towel which is to be a gift.

The arm was indeed a bit iffy Friday but hey ho, it was still a great day. A great week in fact, and generally all is going swimmingly. That is until 11:14 pm when the most ginormous spider hurried across the lounge from under a sofa to behind the TV. There was some wine or beer fuelled discussion along the lines of: “But he’s happy, let him be.” “He’s not leaving cobwebs all over my house.” “Don’t kill him.” “Don’t be ridiculous, you know I never kill them…” All this while I’m tipping a nightlight out of a holder and grabbing a postcard (flower fairies – such a pretty card that I carry it downstairs to recycle then end up propping it on the mantelpiece.) This spider is big and aggressive, he’s sassy and won’t be caught in a tea light holder and trapped by a flower fairy postcard. But we both know who’s going to win…

…in the end after a skirmish behind the TV stand it’s actually neither of us. He gets half trapped under the holder after I execute a niffy half turn when he tries to fox me, and head back to sofa-land, and I feel a muscle at the back of my knee go POP!

OMG THE PAIN.

Actually the spider was ok, no broken legs and I’m sure he enjoyed his flight out of the window to the garden.

Today instead of a super day out nerding with one of my favourite friends I’ve been sat on the bed with an ice pack and haven’t gone downstairs once; as I had to semi crawl upstairs last night and can’t bear the awfulness of needing the littlest room and the slow hurry. It’s best to rest it as much as possible too.

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This app is great! Although after quietly downloading it and trying it out with a few good dings, then testing the ring-a-ding-ding function with a good shake Someone marched into the bedroom with a grin and said, “You can get rid of that app for a start.” “But it was my nerdy friend who suggested I get it, to help you know when I need something!”

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The bright side is I’ve listened to a little more of The Goldfinch audio book, watched the first ever few episodes of The IT Crowd, the inflating boobies episode of Mrs Brown’s Boys (thank you free catch up TV and ipad magic) and downloaded some interesting looking free Kindle novels. There have also been a few homegrown strawberries, YUM, some cheer up surprises: mini Reeces, ice cold 7Up and as requested; a yummy Greek salad with pitta for lunch. The service is pretty good, the bedside chat could be improved but it’s tricky to provide uplifting banter when an important rugby match is on in the other room.

So, it’s after 5pm and I’m feeling a bit restless. Can you tell me something interesting, a story, a fact about yourself, a snippet from your weekend, whatever? A good link? Please. Chances are I’ll still be up here tomorrow so anything will be gratefully received.

Because it made me smile the other day when I noticed how tidy the Rhubarb Ripple looks amongst the other unruly blankets in The Little Room…

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The End

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A hot water bottle cover for Vikki, as requested.

Saturday morning: Bake 2 Devil’s Food cakes

Saturday afternoon: Darn the ends in (lots of them!) and crochet the two HWBC pieces together. Find buttons. Arghh! I have mainly white, black and navy from old shirts etc. Nothing funky or bright. Use little transparent flower shaped Mollie Makes giveaway buttons. Write ‘buttons’ on my Christmas wishlist.

Saturday evening: Drop off the cover (plus the hot water bottle I’d borrowed from Vikki last weekend, so it fit perfectly) at the stage door of a West End Theatre in London making my best ‘It’s a VERY cool thing in a jiffy bag actually’ face. Three minutes later get a call from V saying thank you, she loves it. Phew! Very bright stripes may not be for everyone so I’m relieved.

Run to the tube with S. to meet friends and go to the Hammersmith Apollo for a charity comedy gig for tigers with ZSL .

That was a very good day. :-D


Posted on Facebook this morning with the caption “So, Rachel crocheted me this yummy water bottle cover, and it was immediately stolen by the cat. Predictable.”


If you want to check out V’s blog I recommend it. It’s a mix of writing and craft. Not the usual ‘everyone’s making X and so I am too’ stuff, most are unique creations. It’s cool. Very cool. Well, what do you expect from someone who works on one of the hottest London shows doing pyrotechnics and stuff?

The owl & the pussycat

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Owl #3 for Emily. Here are #1 #2 and they all look unique in their own way I see! I must crochet more owls as they can be made into really sweet magnets as well as sewn onto bags etc.

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And a cross-stitched tortoiseshell cat for Gill which I put into a keyring case. It’s teeny really, only about 1″ x 2″. This little pressie is for a cat-obsessed friend who generously gives up her Saturdays to raise money for a cat charity. She has about a dozen of her own who share her and her Mr’s bed! She also talks about them as her ‘babies.’ You get the picture. At least I’ll never be stuck for a theme for presents!
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Have you created any handmade gifts lately?

Truly Vintage Crochet Patterns

I’ve just had a surprise parcel delivered, it’s incredible and I wanted to share my haul with you.
A friend who sent me sewing magazines, patterns and books recently has now sent me a whole bundle of crochet patterns. She’s having a major clear-out before decorating and has been giving piles of these away, I think they belonged to her Mother.

The term vintage is currently used so often that it’s becoming an almost meaningless term. Dictionary.com offers these definitions:

vin·tage

[vin-tij] Show noun, adjective, verb, vin·taged, vin·tag·ing.

noun

1.the wine from a particular harvest or crop

2.the annual produce of the grape harvest, especially with reference to the wine obtained

3.an exceptionally fine wine from the crop of a good year

4.the time of gathering grapes, or of winemaking

5.the act or process of producing wine; winemaking

adjective

6.the class of a dated object with reference to era of production or use: a hat of last year’s vintage

7.of or pertaining to wines or winemaking

8.being of a specified vintage: Vintage wines are usually more expensive than nonvintage wines

9.representing the high quality of a past time: vintage cars; vintage movies

10.old-fashioned or obsolete: vintage jokes

11.being the best of its kind: They praised the play as vintage O’Neill.

Origin:

1400–50; late Middle English  (noun) < Anglo-French,  equivalent to vint ( er ) vintner  + -age -age;  replacing Middle English vindage, vendage  < Anglo-French; Old French vendange  < Latin vīndēmia  grape-gathering, equivalent to vīn ( um ) grape, wine  + -dēmia  a taking away ( dēm ( ere ) to take from ( see redeem) + -ia -y3 )

Related forms

non·vin·tage, adjective, noun

un·vin·taged, adjective

In my surprise haul I believe I truly have a collection of vintage crochet patterns, but you can see a few of them and judge for yourself. This only a selection, including a few adverts I thought might make you smile:

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Safron’s flowers

My friend Safron’s favourite colour is green, and when I offered to crochet her something she asked for flowers in different shades of green that she could play with; to make into brooches etc.

I turned to my crochet magazine archive for pattern inspiration, and also made up another few simple flowers…

I’m looking forward to seeing what Safron makes with her flowers.

(Did you spot the one that looks like a cauliflower?!)

In other news: Guess what?

Prachi’s bag has arrived and she was delighted with it!

“Let me start with a big big HUG and THANK YOU for the lovely, lovely bag you made for me…it’s so beautiful, and already the envy of my colleagues! My apologies that you had to wait for so long and get worried about it not turning up…I guess it did take a while to reach, but due to some last-moment work plans I too have been out of the area for about 10 days now……Been very swamped with work lately, so this present has not only made my day but my week and month! It’ll hold my everyday items nicely and will be ideal for walks around town…love that I can knot up the strap and adjust it according to my need, very funky touch that is…and the colours are gorgeous…Rachel, you’re one talented lady, and prompt and super-thoughtful on top of that :) :) :).”

*Blush*

SOoOo glad it finally got to Prachi and most importantly that she liked it. :-D

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

A bit of crochet, a bit of baking

We’ve been having lovely weather here in the south of England after what was weeks and weeks and weeks of rain. There’s a bit of a festive looking forward to the Olympic opening ceremony vibe in the air at the moment too.

I had a request to crochet another dishcloth since the one I made in January has now come to the end of its useful life. So, I sat in the garden and whipped up a new one with my stash of dishcloth string. This time it’s rows of alternating doubles and trebles for extra strength and scrubability (new word invented?)

I’ve been making banana bread too….

….Nearly ate the first slice before remembering to take a piccy! Ooops.

Banana bread

300g ripe bananas, 15ml lemon juice, 125g shelled chopped walnuts, 75g unsalted butter, 175g dark soft brown sugar, 50ml walnut oil (I don’t have any so used olive oil) 1tsp mixed spice, 3 medium eggs (I used 2 large since it’s what I had) 325g wholemeal bread flour, 1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda, demerara sugar

Line a 2lb loaf tin with non-stick paper, heat oven to 180 oc (160 fan assisted) 350 of / Gas mark 4.

Peel the bananas and mash with the lemon juice until smooth. Stir in the walnuts and leave to one side.

Gently melt the butter in a pan, tip into a mixing bowl with the sugar, oil and spice. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, until everything is evenly combined.

Sift the flour and bicarb into a bowl, adding the bran caught in the sieve to the flour in the bowl. Beat half the flour into the egg mixture, fold in the banana and walnut mixture, then fold in the remaining flour gently.

Spoon into the loaf tin and smooth the top. Sprinkle some demerara over the top and bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Dan Lepard recipe: taken from The Guardian…oh ages ago.

This is substancial but surprisingly light in texture.