Cozy Autumn Sunday

About three years ago I made a pot holder by Cara Medus from Simply Crochet, issue 15. It’s been so well used it’s really looking tatty now. Tempted to photograph it as proof I talked myself out of this daft idea; you surely don’t need to see a faded and slightly grotty looking pot holder do you? 

As I had a Hobbycraft birthday giftcard to use I bought two balls of Lily Sugar ‘n Cream cotton the other day. I’ve never used this brand before. It must have earnt some air miles as it’s made from 100% USA cotton and was produced into yarn in Canada, then came here to England. It’s exciting to have USA cotton, this was definitely an incentive for me to buy. The label is really old fashioned: I reckon it hasn’t changed for years. I think I recognise it from other bloggers’ posts over the years. The cotton is worsted weight, which is somewhere between U.K. DK and aran weight yarn. It’s really soft and super to crochet. There were no splitty strands at all. It might be my new favourite cotton, in fact. It’s just right for pot holders and face cloths, although it hasn’t been through the wash yet so I can’t speak for the colour-fastness. (If in doubt, hyphenate!) I’m not writing this as an undercover review, sponsored by anyone by the way, it’s just me burbling on.I googled my own blog post to find the pot holder details. This always makes me grin a little. But it didn’t provide me with the actual pattern and I had taken my old issues to the charity shop before moving. Boo! I would have some time to kill the next day, while my car was serviced, and thought it would be a good little project, but without a pattern this was not going to happen. What to do? I put out a general request on IG before going to sleep last Thursday, as I’ve seen others do. In the morning I found that at 01:00 someone had messaged me. Sally, a lady who I’ve been in touch with over the years, had sent me a photo copy. People are so kind. I see little random acts of kindness all the time. If you look for them you’ll notice all sorts of things. I was the recipient of one yesterday: coming back from London I mentioned to a woman that I’d left my earbuds at home and so couldn’t start my new audio book. She promptly fished out a set of her own for me to borrow. They sit right in your ears, and so I thought this was a particularly kind thing to do for a stranger. I offered to share my bar of chocolate in thanks, but she’d just returned from Brussels and was still full from her late lunch of mussels and frites! Thank you again Chris, if you randomly happen to read crochet blogs. You never know, she might.

Today it’s one of those rainy Sundays. It wasn’t first thing (first thing on a Sunday here is often about 10:30…) and a walk was on the cards. Then it got greyer and greyer, so staying put to crochet and listen to music, and then an audio book, became the more appealing thing to do. It’s very cosy and feels like the first proper lazy Sunday of the new season. 

Walking along with my cousin in Oxford the other day we saw these dancing to a busker’s music.

Have you ever seen dancing ducks? 

What have you been doing today? Has it been a grey and rainy day for you too?

Pretty pink 


  
   Last night’s IG progress pic 

 Is it ever going to stop raining? Crocheting more pot holders in the garden in the sun, on Saturday, now feels like a long time ago. It rained on Sunday, on Monday and yesterday. Last night I woke up because of the wind and the rain. Today it’s still raining heavily and steadily.

One upside of all the rain is that I am finishing off bits of crochet; mainly so I can start some more. I really do prefer decorative but practical things but I’ve completely contradicted myself by making a doily… I’ve never made a mandala and always said that they are just 21st-century versions of a doily, then I made a doily! A crafty friend says she actually prefers doilies in modern yarns and colours, as she reckons the patterns tend to be a bit more complex. It was absorbing,  I really enjoyed following the pattern. It’s from Simply Crochet magazine, issue 33 and is by Anne Egan. Like others; well to be strictly honest one other I found in my Google (but I bet there’s lots) I omitted the final round. I tried the mini-clovers and it just wasn’t joyful or relaxing. That’s an understatement…  I just couldn’t work out which way to go round and they looked a mess, so I went in to the previous round with DCs instead.  Later I need to block it. Perhaps they might be easier with finer thread, rather than DC cotton and a 4 mm hook? They’re definitely a challenge I’m going to take up in the future. Rah!!!

All At Sea Shawl II: blocked, lacy & ready to wear

 For years I’ve read about people blocking their crochet and knitting. They rhapsodise about how lacy it becomes, because it really opens up the stitches. From the way people write you would think blocking almost transforms things into mystical items.
I have never felt the need to do anything, apart from perhaps a quick steam block.  Recently I felt quite adventurous leaving the Catherine Stitch Dolls’ blanket pinned out on the ironing board to thoroughly dry! But I could see that the thin mystery yarn of the All at Sea Shawl was going to need something a bit more professional to unscunch it into maybe a thing of lacy beauty.

 Foam mats from The Early Learning Centre are, I was told by my crochet blocking guru, a good alternative to overpriced craft blocking boards. On reflection those purpose made with lines and measurements on them might be preferable, but my plain mats did the job well enough. It is actually quite enjoyable pinning and stretching the crochet, I was quite surprised how much I liked it. My knees weren’t so happy, but that’s too bad! Look how much it has opened out the stitches? I’m so pleased. Oops! A huge gust of wind carried it off sideways. I didn’t realise I’d captured the moment on my camera until later. It’s been so windy here that I had to close the bedroom window because of the noise last night. I heard things in the garden being blown over and got up to peer out the window a few times, then decided enough was enough. Time to sleep and I’d right it all in the morning. It is a triangular shawl but this was the only way I could get it to stay in one place, even then it flapped up into my face several times. The severely pruned buddleia looks bare and deadwood-like, but it will come back and the flowers will be covered in butterflies again in the summer.

In summary: proper grown-up professional type blocking really does work, although it gets boring to read posts like this (!) and I did enjoy it. Also, the mystery yarn is wool, or partly at least, because it definitely had that wet sheep smell.

All at Sea Shawl II 

It’s so sunny today! A really beautiful morning.


Aren’t the colours in this yarn lovely? I reckon it’s sock or lace weight as it feels quite a bit finer than the 4 ply I used for my Raspberry scarf.

I decided to crochet another All at Sea shawl as the first one I made was with DK and I fancied another go with (probably) the correct weight yarn. The pattern by Elisabeth Davis de Herraiz is available here on Ravelry, or in Simply Crochet 22, if you have a shelf of past issues like me.

I’m going to have to go back to print versions of crochet magazines I reckon; I’m behind with the last two issues of Inside Crochet. I just don’t pick up my ipad and stick to reading them on there; I get distracted by other sites, usually social media. Digital versions are good on the space shaving front, but I do like to see curly page markers poking out of back issues. It’s so much faster and easier somehow to grab one and just think ‘I’ll make that today!’ than to scroll through digital versions. Wow isn’t life hard these days?! It’s all the choice.

This is turning into a ramble when it was meant to be one of those sharp and to the point posts, but I’m re-reading The Thorn Birds and life in outback Australia in the early 20th century was so hard. It’s strange re-reading something I haven’t read since my teens. What I really remember is scenes from the tv series: that white shirt, the ashes of roses dress, Mary the dragon, Fee with the careworn face, the run from him on the beach, Luke/Bryan the b****** who ended up marrying Meggie/Rachel in real life afterwards, though at the time I couldn’t understand why…. Skipping the descriptive passages then to get ‘to the good parts’ means that it’s quite a different read this time around, especially as I’ve spent lots of time in Australia. It’s a good book actually, much better than I expected.

It’s noticeable that when an author dies their books leap up the bestseller lists. I bought Judith Kerr’s When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (surprisingly humorous given the subject matter and the fact that it’s semi-autobiographical) and The Thorn Birds for this reason; seeing that they were suddenly in the eye-catching Kindle top ten sellers.

I’ve completely lost the flow of this crochet post now and am thinking about The Thorn Birds book, combined with mixed up memories of the tv series!
In summary: This is my new make and I’m re-reading a long-ago-read-book. I now need to decide what kind of pudding I’m making for family dinner at the weekend!

What are you making, reading, planning?

ETA: Apologies – Judith Kerr is still among us! See comments below. 

All at Sea Shawl ….finished

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I’ve really enjoyed crocheting this V stitch shawl, I haven’t felt this keen for a little while. You know that ‘I’ve got to do just one more row before bed’ thing?

The pattern’s by Elisabeth Davis de Herraiz and is in issue 22 of Simply Crochet.

I used Lang’s Tosca Light DK with a 4mm hook instead of the lace weight merino used in the mag. You could make a really chunky version too. That might be really snugly for freezing winter mornings, or maybe nights on the sofa when you feel a draft on your neck or shoulders?

My shawl is larger as I wanted it to be big enough to wear around your shoulders, granny/hippy style or like a scarf with the triangle part to the front and the long ends wrapped around the back of the neck. So for R50 I just repeated from R14 onwards until I ran out of yarn after R37 which was clusters. Boo! This was annoying with only 11 more to go to complete my repeat of R14 -49, but I quite like the frilled top edge so I fastened off, darned the few ends and it was over.

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Look at what I noticed as I was unhooking the shawl from a tree…..

And last night on a very old episode of Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads….

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It doesn’t look Grannyish or exactly Hippyish, but I won’t be going out in a maxi dress and big cream shawl anytime soon!

Nine Random Things

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I stopped my subscription to Simply Crochet a few months ago because I was a bit bored, I reckon it’s stuck in a bit of a rut. When they asked readers to complete a questionnaire some months ago I requested more garment patterns. I know I’m not alone in feeling fed up of patterns for small items you don’t want or need. However ( a little positivity coming up now!) I really fancied crocheting the scarf pattern I’d seen Heather of The Patchwork Heart posting pics of on IG. So I picked up a copy last week, there was the added temptation of pretty pins too…but oh! They are mostly rusty – albeit silver coloured rust, not rust coloured, but it’s rust all the same. I can’t use them at all. Boo!
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Ooh now this is a good magazine related bit of news – I’ve been given a year’s subscription to this beauty. I’ll turn into a green eyed monster at times (beautiful homes and expensive lovelies to buy) I know, but I am very pleased.
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This is my catch up reading pile. I asked for my birthday subscription not to be continued for a third year to Mollie Makes, again it’s feeling in a bit of a rut. I really can’t face yet more patterns for felt animals and the target audience feels like it’s for young twenty somethings. That’s fair play especially if it’s encouraging them to develop or learn some crafty skills; I just realised that I hadn’t used any of the mini packs, let alone made any items from the magazine for ages and ages.
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Just because I saw this in a gift shop in Broadway, in the Cotswolds, and it made me smile. It’s one of those things you’d love to say when someone’s being all one-sided me-me-me.
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While I was wondering around Broadway I kept hearing yelping and barking. I ducked down an alley to pop into the Sue Ryder charity shop and saw two pens of hounds. They must belong to the local hunt. I’m a baby where dogs en masse are concerned so this is as close I got.
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I’ve seen these chargers in airports etc before, but how handy to find one in John Lewis (High Wycombe) for free charging.
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My friend gave me a bumper lot of thoughtful presents including this lovely tin. It’s my new things crochet tin as the other was bulging at the seams, especially with a new bigger notebook. Isn’t it similar in design to the Cath Kidson tape measure and needle book? It’s such a good match and right up my street.
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Warning. Warning. Tomato talk incoming! I’m still cooking with my home-gown tomatoes, this time it’s a bacon and olive sauce. Yum. I usually halve the olives but this time left them whole. The house is full of bowlfuls in various stages of ripeness. I never imagined eight plants could produce so much fruit (or did QI state they are wrongly regarded as fruit, when in fact they are the vegetable we all grew up believing them to be? Or have I dreamt that?!)
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I’ve been wincing at sightings of the C word; usually in relation to crafting for ………… but look at what fell out of the new issue of Country Living. With the change of weather and the end of the summer holidays looming it doesn’t feel too early to contemplate booking tickets. Are you going?

What have you been up to lately?

Did you see the ice cream debacle on The Great British Bake Off last night?

In my next post I’ll show you the shawl I’ve been crocheting from the current Simply Crochet. It’s sweet, though I do have a shawl related question: there are so many patterns for them at the moment, they seem to be on trend but……have you actually seen anyone wearing one out? Anyone?

Cottoning on

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A few weeks ago Natasja of CrocheTime blog asked me if I would like to do a review of yarn she sells in her Etsy shop. I’m always happy to play with yarn, especially one I’ve never used before so was just happy for Natasja to send me a selection of whatever she wanted me to try. When she told me it was Vinnis Colours Nikkim cotton, and sent me a link,  I changed my mind quickly – the colours are so delicious! This is my selection.
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Cloud Blue

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Fern
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Plum
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Red Violet
This was one I took to my knitting group one week, it was admired and fondled rather a lot!

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Information on the ball band: “This yarn is hand dyed and balled by women from an economically depressed rural area of South Africa. The scale of this product has empowered them and brought economic benefits to their community. Hand dyed yarn gives your garment a unique marbelled effect. Colourfast. Made in South Africa.”
The knit group nodded and agreed that yes, it has been hand dyed as you can see the variation in colour. Finally I could carry on knitting, but wondered if the ball might be best put into a bag at my feet as I worked – just to avoid distraction!

It’s DK weight cotton, comes in 50g / 119m balls. The recommended needles are 3.25mm-4mm and hook size is 4mm.
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Natasja said she’d noticed that my blog has gone to the dark side lately (! *mhah haha ha!* !) and wondered if I would knit something to test how well the cotton works with needles.
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I really like making practical knits so decided to try out a few different stitches and knit some washcloths. I’ll include my patterns in case you fancy taking up the knitty sticks and practising the dark art of knitting too!
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Moss Stitch Washcloth

24cmx24cm / 9.5″ x 9.5″
I’m pretty sure I used 4.5mm needles for all three cloths as I was using my 4mm set for my lace knit scarf. Either is fine as tension is definitely not critical for a washcloth. It’s such thick cotton that you could even use a 5mm needle (or hook.)
:: Cast on an odd no. of stitches. I cast on 49
::R1-4 Knit
::R5 –: K4 at the beginning and end of row, K1, *P1, K1, repeat from *
Repeat this row until the washcloth is 23cm / 9″” then K4 rows. Cast off and darn ends.

I’ve always really liked moss stitch – it’s got such a cute nubbly look and makes a nice textured washcloth.

The cotton is beautifully soft to touch, the colours please and there was not a single knotted piece in any of the balls. There is one issue however, it can be very splitty. This was particularly frustrating with the first ball I tried (fern.) There is very light twist to the cotton which means that you sometimes have 7 little strands lying over your needle, rather than one. Undo a row and you’re really in trouble because you’ve loosened the twist even more.

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A smaller version of the above, I cast on 39 stitches for this one. This washcloth measures 20cm x 20cm / 8″ x 8″.

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OOoh my favourite stitch, but do not try this pattern when you’ve had a G&T as it’s a bit tricky and you have to concentrate on some rows. I realised I had knitted a row, then undone it a few times and couldn’t work out the problem until I realised I’d just had my Friday early evening drink!

Vinnis cotton gives good drape; the knitted material has lots of movement giving a good flow. Obviously this isn’t important for the items I’ve made but I reckon it could be a very good yarn for cotton garments. Just be sure to do a tension swatch and check your gauge before you begin.

Basketweave washcloth

23cm x 23cm / 9″ x9″

::Cast on a multiple of 8 stitches plus 5 extra. I cast on 48 + 5 = 53 stitches in total

::R1 (RS) Knit

::R2 *K5, P3, repeat from * to last 5 stitches, K5

::R3 P5 *K3, P5, repeat from * to end

::R4 As R2

::R5 Knit

::R6 K1, P3, K1 *K4, P3, K1, repeat from * to end

::R7 *P1, K3, P4, repeat from * to last 5 stitches, P1, K3, P1

::R8 As R6.

Repeat R1-8 until square or the desired length. I cast off all but the last stitch, whipped up a 3.5mm hook and double crocheted all around the cloth. By this time I was yippeeing after all the knitting!

This stitch would make a super scarf in a chunky yarn on big needles, I can just imagine it. I enjoyed looking through my stitch bible for something new and this was a good find. Just don’t tipple while you do the latter rows because you’ll probably come a cropper like me.
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I really wanted to try crocheting the cotton and wondered if the splittyness would be better. It is, but you still have to keep your eye on the yarn as the hook can get tangled up, or you miss strands, resulting in rogue loops. I used my thicker Clover Amour 4mm hook (rather than my slightly thinnner 4mm metal hook) and thought it produced a lovely chunky material. Cara Medus’s potholder pattern caught my eye in issue 15 of Simply Crochet so I gave it a whirl.
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Vinnis cotton is good for something like a potholder when a double layer of fabric produces a very good thickness. I’m pleased with this make and it’s going to be in use tonight when I toss pancakes! Happy Shrove Tuesday all.
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I was already feeling a bit guilty for straying from my knitting brief but an old proverb came to mind ‘might as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb.’ Excellent! In that case I was going ahead and making Hannah’s (Not Your Average Crochet blog) sweet Springtime hat pincushion from the lastest issue (16) of Simply Crochet. (Available in the UK this Thursday.)
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The flowers are in King Cole bamboo variegated cotton, I made my own leaf as I wanted a nice juicy looking one.
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I sewed on the leaf and flowers and darned all ends before filling the hat with stuffing.
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I just filled it with toy stuffing. I figured if my sewing’s going badly and I stab the pincushion violently I won’t be breaking the pins on coins or weights at the bottom!
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If you’re keen to try some Vinnis cotton you can buy some from Natasja’s  Etsy CrocheTime shop, she will give a 10% discount to the first ten people to order using the following code: LITTLEROOM.

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Helloooo to my new readers following Simply Crochet’s Edits magazine. It’s very nice to have you here. I’m loving seeing people’s curly twirly flower brooches appear, the first photo I was sent was from mrspip (the link should take you to her FB page.) It’s lovely.

My flower brooches in Simply Crochet!

I came home late last night from London frozen to the bone after a three hour Jack the Ripper tour in the East End, a long wait for the bus then a frozen car windscreen which I needed to de-ice. My feet felt like two big ice cubes! But there in a prominent place propped up on the stairs was my new issue (16) of Simply Crochet. All thoughts of feeling cold vanished!
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In January I was contacted by Tanya, the Commissioning Editor and asked if I would design a brooch for a Springtime feature in Simply Crochet. You can imagine my surprise and pleasure at being asked, especially as I’ve bought the magazine since it began. I was sent these lovely balls of cotton and given completely free rein to design whatever kind of brooch I fancied.
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I really enjoyed sitting here in The Little Room playing with different stitches and colour combinations, it was a great way to banish any post-Christmas January blues.
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I came up with a curly twirly flower brooch to pin on a bag, to add a bit of pretty.
20140302-145729.jpgThey work well if you pin the petals out (dry) for a little while, as you release them they ping up and curl delightfully around. Alternatively you can block them and leave them flatter as the magazine have done.

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As this would be my first ever published pattern (I’m beaming as I still can’t believe it, I’m sooo happy about this unexpected event) I was a bit nervous that it would be gobbledegook and asked Kate of Greedy for Colour to check it. The rush of having someone else, particularly such a crochet clever clogs, test your pattern and come back with a gorgeous version of their own (2 lots of delicate light pink petals on the top,  a white set at the bottom and a pale primrose middle) and 100% positive feedback was immense.

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I had thought I probably shouldn’t show what I designed until the magazine is in the shops or online but today see that others have shown photos and are talking on social media about the feature, so gave myself the go-ahead! It’s way too exciting not to!

20140302-145820.jpgOoh on the front cover of the supplement!!!!!!!!!

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Lovely styling. That’s MY crochet, crocheted here in this Little Room in my house! Wooooooo! Boom! (As Claudia says on GBSB.) The opposite page has the brooch pattern, a few other photos and bit about my crochet, thoughts on blogging and inspiration.

I was in stunningly good company as most of the other blogger designers are those I’ve followed for a few years. But you’ll have to buy the mag to see who they are, as I’m not spoiling any more surprises. Well, except one! I have to, I just do…

I met this blogger last Christmas, just over a year ago, as she was visiting England from the USA. We talked and talked, a coffee turned into a day of wandering, lunch and sight seeing. We discussed yarn, crochet, craft shops, blogging and our fave bloggers. I never expected us both to be featured in this top, top crochet maazine together! (I’m allowed to sprinkle !!!! liberally in this post. It’s my 15 seconds of crochet fame after all.)

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It’s the lovely Hannah from Not Your Average Crochet. I’m so making this Springtime hat pincushion.
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Happy weekend all.

Simply Crochet (16)

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Next week, if you get a copy of Simply Crochet, you’ll see what I was doing with these beautiful cottons in January. It’s been hard not to mention anything – it goes against my nature not to talk about exciting things!

Simply Crochet: Filet Crochet Hearts

Something new…

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I’ve fancied trying my hand (hook!) at filet crochet for ages, so when I spotted Anne Egan’s sweet hearts in Simply Crochet issue 11 I had to give it a whirl.

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Sweet don’t you think? Easy too!

I can see all kinds of possibilities for Valentine’s Day projects too…

Simply Crochet bobble mitts

We were heading off on holiday a few weekends ago when the postman arrived at the door with what looked like an armful of magazines, so of course I had to leap out of the car and take them with us…

One was the latest Simply Crochet, issue 10. I had packed my craft bag very carefully with things to carry on with, or complete. Not new projects to begin. These were the hot pink crochet scarf…20130912-102346.jpg and the sewing up that really needed to be done on the little red knitted jumper and that cat (I know, I’m bored of mentioning it – so am sure you’re bored of reading about it!)

The trouble was that the bobble mitts designed by Hannah Reed really caught my eye. I’ve never made fingerless mitts before, thinking that they looked a bit dull as most I’d seen are made with simple doubles or trebles, but Hannah’s lovely pair are in one of my favourite crochet stitches – bobbles. The only spare yarn I had was a ball of brown I’d packed for embroidering for the cat’s nose. I don’t wear brown, it’s just not my colour but I know a lot of people who do. So, before I knew it the Clover soft-touch hook was in my hand and I whipped up the mitts during spare moments in the apartment. It just had to be done.

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I wrote some notes in my little book after I crocheted these which I’ll share in case you fancy making a pair…

:: Make sure that the stitch count is 33 still after making the 5 chain thumb-hole, otherwise it throws out the following bobbles

:: I adapted the pattern to make a longer piece of crochet so did 11 rows of bobbles then 2 rows of double crochet at each end

:: I also double crocheted around the thumbhole to finish them off. Don’t do this! Unless your thumb-hole is big and a bit gapy. Mine were perfectly sized and now are a little bit snug. They’re wearable but the dc row and darning tightened them up rather. I’ll have to give them to a friend with slim thumbs

Simply Crochet issue 10 has some nice items this month, I recommend you have a little look at a copy.

Have a good weekend! Maybe I’ll bump into you at Yarndale? :-D

Cable crochet

Firstly thank you SO MUCH for all your lovely messages, here and elsewhere, about the Black Sheep Wools Blogger of the Month award. You’re all very kind, I definitely had warm fuzzy feelings last week!

After seeing a cable crochet notepad cover pattern in issue 8 of Simply Crochet I decided to have a go at some cables over the weekend during spare moments.

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It was different using a 4.5mm hook, any bigger than you’re used to initially feels like you’re wielding a hockey stick rather than the usual toothpick!

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My tension’s a bit bleugh at some points, but I reckon it isn’t bad for a first time.

Oh at first the pattern really gave me a headache, like they can do when you’re not sure why and how and where you’re going. I’ve never crocheted triple trebles (ttr) before and had to make sure they were front or back post (FP/BPttr) crochet. That’s not actually particularly tricky after the first row and you see the pattern developing; so can see where it’s all going and what to do next. The trickest thing for me would maybe be the simplest part for you, after skipping stitches and making the twisty ttr cables you have to treble behind these into the third skipped stitch. What a fiddle! But it’s fine after a few times.

My life’s not missing a crocheted notepad cover so I’m not completing the pattern but it’s been great trying a completely new stitch combination and techniques. Next time I’ll try a smaller hook and see the effect but the chunkier one was a nice change too.

I’m typing this on my recent surprise birthday present; a new retina display ipad (crystal clear photos bloggers! Your stitch definition is looking superb!) Lucky lucky me. Now please excuse me as I have to go and try some of the latest stock of Belgium chocolate.

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