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.

Spice of Life Blanket II



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are very Wintery low light levels at the moment, which means the photos are a little muted; so you need to imagine this blanket as even brighter!

It is finished! We’ve celebrated late-Christmas with my cousin and family this weekend and she loves the blanket. I’m so pleased.

So yes, the colours; you definitely won’t have seen this combination together here before, though I have used them all in other makes.

  
My cousin loves Emma Bridgewater china and these are the designs she wanted me to use as a basis for colour selection, but with the specific proviso that there be ‘Space Hopper’ orange because she loves it. Plus cream, lavender and a bright yellow. Eek! This was really out of my colour comfort zone, but actually as the blanket came together they seemed to work together more, the Mister says it’s quite Aztec-y. I’ll take his word for it.

Pattern links and details about how to make a Spice of Life blanket are here on the designer Sandra Paul’s Cherry Heart blog.

Hooks: I used 4mm, 4.5mm and 3mm again, see my first blanket post for information.

Starting chain: 195, stitch count 193

Yarn: Stylecraft Special DK

  1. Meadow 2. Emperor 3. Lavender 4. Saffron 5. Spice 6. Cream 7. Plum (used for the border too)

Weighs: 675g

Size: 3′ 6″ or 42″. This one’s smaller than my first blanket, it’s more of a lap blanket. 

I’m glad it’s done, the multi-stitch blankets are interesting to crochet and the variety of stitches make them really pretty, but oh all the ends!

And now I’m on to a little bit of knitting…more about that tomorrow.

 

2015

It’s that time again; the last day of another year. Are they flying past, or is it just me?

I can’t believe that today is my blog’s fourth birthday! I didn’t have a long-term plan when I started this; it was simply to record my makes as I learnt to crochet. I haven’t had to make myself carry on, or set up a blogging timetable, it’s just happened organically. Admittedly joining in more regularly with the weekly Yarn Along and Taking Stock posts, every month, has helped to keep to keep the ball rolling lately; as I’ve had little new to show, with bigger projects taking time to complete.

2015 really did turn into the Year of the Blankets, despite the fact I’m sure I’d resolved not to make many. I wanted to learn some new skills, make some small things and get my sewing machine out again. I can see a 16 for 2016 list happening…

Here are some of my favourite makes and highlights of the year:

I’ve just had a little look at my previous end of year galleries in 2012 2013 and 2014. 2012 was a busy year for the country with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics. Looking back has reminded me of my 200 Blocks CAL. I was still very much a novice crocheter and learnt much more through organising and taking part in the CAL. If you’re fairly new to crochet then I’d really recommend working through a book of crochet blocks. It gave lots of us a really good grounding in reading patterns, trying new stitches and experimenting with colour combinations.

Thank you for reading and for your comments over the last year. Have a very Happy New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, wherever you are in the world.

Spice of Life CAL blanket finished!

   

    Two finished items in a week feels good! One more to go…

I sat and crocheted the rest of the border yesterday, darned the two ends (hurrah for a single colour border!) and did a happy dance. It’s a simple little border which I think is perfect for such a busy blanket. 

It’s not completely ruler straight, but actually the sides are not half as wiggly as I feared; the border really seems to sort it out. I expected a serious blocking session, but there’s really no need.

I’ve just realised I didn’t post my Stylecraft Special Dk colour choices for part 5, so I’ll do that now and for my repeats as I choose to make a larger blanket. Here are the pattern posts by Sandra of Cherry Heart blog in case you now fancy crocheting a Spice of Life blanket too.

Part 5 – repeating some rows

Stacked Grannies: stone, clematis, raspberry, silver

Trebles: Storm blue

Big Zipper: parchment, denim 

Trebles: Parma violet

Stacked Shells: grape, grey x2, sage x2, lavender x2, stone, silver

Fill the Gap: clematis, grey,raspberry,silver,denim,sage x2

Tulips: (I accidentally missed row 1- trebles) grape, stone, parma violet

Trebles: parchment

Waves: storm blue, raspberry

Trebles: grey

Puffs: silver, lavender, clematis, stone

Trebles: (remember no row 8 for repeats in pattern) grape, denim x2

Grannies: sage, silver and repeat

Trebles: lavender, stone, raspberry, grey, storm blue

My choice of repeats

Stacked Grannies: silver, grape and repeat 

Trebles: Parma violet x2

Big Zipper: clematis x2, parchment x2

Trebles: grape x2

Border: (design as written in the pattern) silver 

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Yarn: One of each of Stylecraft Special DK: parchment, clematis, grey, denim, silver (2 as it’s also for the border), lime, storm blue, stone, grape, sage, parma violet, lavender, raspberry 

Hook sizes: I swapped to 4.5 mm for stacked shells and the DC rows. You’ll have to experiment and see how your tension is coming out for the tighter stitches. I always used a 4mm for treble rows. For the border set up row I used a 3mm as I just found it easier to use when crocheting into the middle of the stitches. I aimed to pick up 2 strands on my hook, leaving 1 behind. It looks fair less gappy than crocheting over the end stitch, though it is a fiddle.

Starting chain: 217 (a multiple of 12 + 1) I aimed for a square 4’x4′ blanket for snuggling in on cold evenings.

Size: 4′ X 4′ before border. Border is approx an inch.

Weight: 850g approx

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 And now onwards with another blanket which is half finished. It was requested by my cousin for Christmas. That’s one never-seen-here-before colour combination, just you wait…

Yarn Along 

IMG_1907

IMG_1904I was pretty pleased with myself for finally finishing darning all those ends yesterday!

The colours look pretty muted here, but it was a moment of celebration so I broke my ‘always take photos in natural light’ rule. The sides don’t look as wiggly as I expected. It’s not going to be perfect as I swapped about from a 4mm to 4.5mm hook, but as it’s just for me to snuggle in over the winter it’s all good.

I’ve just started listening to Chrissie Hynde’s memoir, read by Rosanna Arquette. I love her descriptions of growing up in Akron, Ohio. It’s going to be a cracking listen, I can tell.

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along again. Here are my previous Yarn Along posts. I actually thought my last was fairly recent, but look how long ago it was! I’m pretty staggered. One thought I wrote about blogging makes me smirk. That feeling obviously didn’t stick around for long.

 

Now – an Autumn snapshot 

        
    
    
   
 One of my nearest and dearest gave me a little verbal prod the other day saying: “I’ve had a look at your blog, but there’s been nothing for a while has there?” Noted and now rectified!

I’ve been carrying on crocheting my Spice of Life blanket (not far off the darning and border now) or knitting a few rows of my Hitchhiker scarf most days. I don’t think continually showing the same projects, just a few centimetres further on, would be interesting. Which is why I haven’t been around here much recently. There IS another project I’ve been working on too, but that’s hush hush as it’s a present. You’ll see it one day….

I really love Autumn: the crisp cool days, walking along kicking up piles of crunchy leaves, the beautiful colours of leaves and berries, the sunsets bringing brightness to often grey skies, soups and stews, casseroles and countless pots of tea. Do you love it too?

Spice of Life CAL part 4

   
    
 
This was my favourite week so far, in terms of the pattern, but I might have said that last week? If I did then it’s no bad thing; as it obviously means my enjoyment is increasing, not waning!

My colours:

Fill the gap: parchment, storm blue (love it!) denim, grape

Trebles: grey, silver 

Tulips: sage x2, clematis, stone

Trebles: raspberry x2

Waves: Parma violet, lavender, grey

Puffs: Storm blue, grape, denim, sage

Trebles: silver, grape x2, parchment  

There have been so many ‘I’m really glad the puffs are done’ and ‘I hated the puffs’ comments on the Facebook group page that even I was feeling a bit apprehensive about them. And I don’t usually get in a state about crochet. I haven’t done any puff stitches for ages, but actually they’re fine! As with lots of the stitches I thought might need to be looser, I used my 4.5mm hook. I ended up quite enjoying them, but have to say that they are definitely yarn eaters. 

I’m tempted to crop the second photo so you can’t see the ends that crept into the frame, but I’ll fess up here and now that I haven’t darned a single one yet. My excuse reason is that I’ll probably need to steam block again, when the blanket’s finished, and  don’t want my neatly darned threads popping out when it’s pinned out.

Phew now that’s off my chest I shall sleep easier. Ha! 

Spice of Life CAL part 3

   
    
 It took me a while to get around to part 3 of the pattern (actually part 2; as part 1 was initial info on the CAL. I do think it would have made it easier all round to call that week 0, but there we are) as I developed a stonking cold last week. I’m still coughing and rattling around, but at least my brain is working again. 

I really enjoyed doing this week’s pattern, there was a good variety of stitches.  The rows of V stitch are so preety!

I know there’s at least one person copying my colour choices so here are last week’s:

Stacked Grannies: storm blue, parchment and repeat once again

Trebles: grape x2

Big Zipper: parma violet x2, grey x2

Trebles: denim x2

Stacked Shells: silver, stone, sage, clematis

Trebles:parma violet, lavender    

2 minutes after publishing: Oh dear I don’t think my brain is working that well after all since I’ve forgotten to say that I’m in the process of steam blocking the ends! I’ve left it pinned on the ironing board to dry while I write. My tension must have been a little tighter than the rest after the shell rows. I know others in the Spice of Life  Facebook group (now with over 4K members!) have found the same, so it’s one of those things with this type of row. It’s harder than than you realise to crochet a lot looser than usual.  

6 hours after publishing: Working on the next part today I’ve gone up a hook size from 4mm to 4.5mm for some of the tighter rows. It’s sorted the tension issue and so there will be no more steam blocking each week …hurrah! Just trying to crochet looser would be hard to do. I think it might well result in inconsistent stitches overall. By changing hooks back and forth I think I’ve cracked it. 

Spice of Life CAL part 2

 So, the first part of the Spice of Life CAL was issued this week, on Tuesday. All the details can be found here (free of charge.) I think the popularity of the CAL has taken everyone at Black Sheep Wools by surprise; there are now over 3,000 members in the Facebook group alone and they’re from all over the world. Lots and lots of photos are popping up on Instagram all the time. Look for #spiceoflifecal. 

Many people have chosen to use yarn from their stash, so there are some wacky colour schemes as well as those that make you sigh ‘I wish I’d chosen those!’ I was lucky enough to be asked to take part, I’ve written about that here. 

 
I chose my own yarn colours. To recap: 

from the top, left to right

parchment, clematis, grey, denim, silver, (2 for the border) lime
storm blue, stone, grape, sage, parma violet, lavender, raspberry 

 I’m really enjoying being part of a CAL again, and not as the organiser. The pattern by Sandra of  Cherry Heart blog is lovely. 

The fact the first pattern release is called part 2 has thrown some people; as they’re worried they’ve missed part 1. In fact part 1 was just yarn details, hook size, and some information about helpful resources. Really the CAL, in terms of crochet, is actually only 7 weeks long. The first week’s pattern is dead easy, so even if you’re reading this in a week or two it’s not too late to catch up.
    
   
As usual I’m promising to myself to darn ends as I go and not doing it.

A few people have asked me to list my yarn colours as I go because they find it really hard to choose the order. I honestly don’t know about any of the colour wheel, hot and cold stuff. I put all in a basket, lean over and grab the next as I go. I might put the strip of crochet on top but I always go by my first instinct and I’ve never winced at my choices afterwards. Not so far, though you might have…

The lime is going to have to be used another time. The funny thing is I never ever used to like green, especially lime, but for the last four years have been strangely drawn to many shades. I was keen to include it here, but it’s just not right alongside the other colours.

 Trebles 

R1&2 Sage  3&4 Denim 5&6 Parma violet 7&8 Clematis 9&10 Grey

Grannies

1 Lavender 2 Grape 3 Lavender 4 Grape 5 Lavender 

Trebles 

6 Stone 7 Raspberry 8 Silver 

I know the numbers are a little anachronistic, but I’ve kept to the way of the pattern. The first 10 are listed as ‘set up rows’ so part 3 (2!) should continue consecutively.

Are you doing the Spice of Life CAL too?

Spice of Life CAL 

At the beginning of August Black Sheep Wools asked me if I’d like to take part in a crochet along (CAL) beginning in the middle of September, all yarn provided. How exciting! A CAL and a free bundle of yarn. I don’t find it easy to be all secret squirrel, but I’ve managed it. Phew.

The blanket is designed by Sandra Paul of Cherry Heart blog. I’ve been thinking about doing a multi-stitch blanket for ages and this looks a goodie.

All the information about the Spice of Life CAL is here on the Black Sheep Wools website. There’s also a Facebook group so everyone taking part can chat, ask questions and share their finished blankets. You can check out people’s pictures on Instagram too by using the tag #spiceoflifecal 

Everyone seems to love a CAL and this is Black Sheep Wool’s first. It’s looking very promising; today I’ve seen the Facebook group members go from 5 of us to over 300, and counting, and this is only the first day it’s been publicised. It feels fun to be part of something from the beginning.

I chose my own colour combination for the blanket 

 
In order from the top, left to right:

parchment, clematis, grey, denim, silver, (2 for the border) lime

storm blue, stone, grape, sage, parma violet, lavender, raspberry 

This seemed a good opportunity to try some of the new Stylecraft Special DK colours, pretty aren’t they? I think I’m going to use the lime and raspberry sparingly, just to add a little zing. 

Do you fancy joining the CAL too? You can order a choice of yarn packs from Black Sheep Wools, choose your own brand and colours, or use up yarn in your stash. This might be an ideal project to use up leftovers. The first part of the pattern will be available on 22nd September, so there’s plenty of time to organise what you want to do.