Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Stash



That isn't quite all of it - the cream aran to make the other blanket is in the wardrobe upon which those boxes rest. And the yarn I'm currently knitting a cardigan out of is downstairs, where I do my knitting. But that is, essentially, it. There's also some fabric and sewing bits and pieces in that wardrobe.

The reason it's all looking so tidy is that I got a great big bag of yarn from a lovely lady on Freecycle, and it prompted a big sorting-out session. In the end I kept only a few balls of the new-to-me yarn, and got rid of about the same amount of my yarn that I didn't want to keep. Also some that Mum gave me when I was learning to crochet that I'm going to give back. I told my friend Sarah she could have the big bag of yarn I'm now getting rid of, then I accidentally mentioned it to my mother, so now I'm going to have to split it into two.

It's lovely having everything so tidy, though, and knowing that I only have things that I've decided to keep. Some of it I have plans for, some of it not. If only there were a few more hours in the day so I could actually make all the things I'm dreaming of.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Just a quick one

I missed my self-imposed Tuesday-and-Thursday update schedule this week, but I have an excuse - I had the lurgy. It seems to be on the wane now so I'm back at the computer once more.

Here's what I've been working on:



Please pretend I put the hat on the baby's head with the seam at the back. Or maybe you wouldn't have noticed the seam if I hadn't said anything. Oh well.

It's just a very simple crochet sun hat. I didn't use a pattern. I was in Tesco looking at the baby clothes, and they had several crochet sun hats, so naturally my thought was 'I can do that! Easy-peasy!'. I used a 4mm hook and two strands of 4-ply cotton held together (one pink, one green). It's treble-crochets all the way round. First I thought it was too big so I pulled it out and did one fewer increase rows, then it was too small so I had to rip it back again and re-insert the increase row I had previously removed. And then I actually tried it on the baby and it was just right.

It doesn't have a fastening of any sort because it seems to stay on OK.



I suppose we'll see once the weather actually turns sunny and she has to wear it for more than three minutes at a time.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Bits and bobs

Everyone loves the new throw!

(Which now has a Ravelry page)





I'm glad it's finished, as the weather has turned quite warm this week! A very welcome change. I did tons of gardening at the weekend and made the whole garden look quite neat and tidy. Now I just need to decide what I want to add for this year, if anything - probably just a few bedding plants. Not sure if I'll try growing any veg this year, although I've heard that growing sweet peppers from plants, rather than seed, is a lot easier. And the sweetcorn last year was lovely. Hmm.

Do you know what I should do? Make some sections on that sidebar --> for patterns, recipes etc. That would be good. Remembering to tag new posts would be good as well.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Pattern: Big Blue Throw

I finished it!



I'm very, very pleased with how this turned out. It's much better than I was expecting and really improves the room. Since I like it so much, I've decided to share how I made it. I've titled this post 'pattern' but it isn't really, it's more of a tutorial. I hope it makes sense, let me know if it doesn't. Please note I've used British crochet terms throughout, and this throw was designed for a single bed. If you want one for a double bed, you'll need to make more squares and arrange them differently. Obviously.


What I used:

About two and a half (I think) balls of Robin Aran With Wool, in an off-white
One ball of Cygnet DK, light blue
One ball of Cygnet DK, dark blue
A 4mm crochet hook


What I did:

The throw uses forty crochet squares, each 15cm/6 inches square. Mine were all chosen from 200 Crochet Blocks by Jan Eaton but you could use any that take your fancy. Crochet Pattern Central is a good place to start. They could be all different, or you could find two you like and alternate them, or whatever you want really. I made all mine in the off-white.

Once you have your squares, join twelve of them into a block of two squares by six. I joined the blocks by holding two together, wrong sides facing, and double-crocheting them together. I joined them all with light blue, then double-crocheted all the way round the edge, again in the light blue, to make it look neat.

After that I started what I call the granny-ing. I call it that because it's the same as the way you make a traditional granny square. If you've never made a granny square, it might be a good idea to practise a couple before you try the throw. Or you could jump straight in, making it up as you go along is how I made this throw after all!

Essentially, you want to treble crochet three times into the double-crochet foundation row, then chain two, skipping two double-crochets. Like so:



Continue round the edge of your central block in that fashion. Make sure that the chain-gap falls on each corner, and chain three instead of two at that point. You might need to fudge it a little to get the chain to fall in the right place.

I'm coming across as a terribly professional designer, aren't I? Excellent.

On the next go round, treble three times into each chain gap, and chain two across the top of the previous row's trebles, as you can see in the previous picture. At the corners, treble three, chain three, treble three into the corner space.

Then you'll need to check your gauge (I know, sorry). If your squares are six inches square, you'll need to do six inches of granny-ing before you attach the second lot of squares. I found that four rows of off-white granny-ing, then three rows of blue (light/dark/light), then four more rows of off-white, was pretty much spot-on six inches. Always worth checking, though.

After all that, time for more squares. Join them in a rectangle shape, so that you have ten down each of the long sides, and six down each of the short sides. Then join that to the centre of the throw that you've already made. That sounds easy-peasy, but it took me a couple of evenings, and when I realised I'd joined the second set of squares on upside-down I said some bad words and decided it could stay as it is. And that is why the square-joining looks different on each set of squares on my throw; because I'm a) unobservant and b) lazy. If the squares you've made have a definite right side then this may be more important to you than it was to me.

One other thing to be careful of is that you join the squares reasonably evenly. Make sure the edges of the squares matches from one set to the next, so that the throw will lie flat. Also if you have somewhere where you can lay it all out flat, that helps.

After joining on your squares, double-crochet round the edge again to neaten it, then time for more granny-ing! I did the same amount of granny-ing as before, so that is would match, and because me and my graph paper had worked out that that would make it the right size. Hoorah!

Only one more step! The edging. The granny-ing alone didn't make it look 'finished' so I made up a quick edging. Simply put, I went round one more time, doing treble three/chain two/treble three into each chain gap, followed by a single crochet into the top of the middle treble in the group on the previous row. Like so:



And then you are finished! And can make up the spare bed, and cover it over, so that the cat may sleep where he pleases.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Poetry Corner



She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour:
"Winter is dead."

Daffodowndilly by AA Milne.

I'm not a winter person. I love the first signs of spring because they mean that warmth and sunshine are on their way - goodbye to chilly mornings, and bundling up in thick coats and scarves and gloves, and coming home in the dark. Yesterday I went out for a walk wearing my summer jacket instead of my winter coat, and it wasn't quite warm enough, but nearly. And the daffodils in the front garden make me smile.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

WIP....Tuesday

I think I'm caught up on the projects I've been doing while I've been on my (unscheduled) blogging break, so here's what I'm working on at the moment.

Those of you who read my old blog may remember that when I started teaching myself to crochet, back in summer 2006, I was making squares for a throw for the double bed in the spare room. Once I got better at the crochet I wanted to make other things, and the squares and spare wool got put away in the back of a cupboard. A month or two ago I dragged them out and reorganised the squares so that I could actually finish the throw. This was also made easier by the fact that we now have a single bed in the spare room instead of the double.

This is what it looked like back in 2006:




And this is how far I'd got a week or two ago (with extra squares in reserve):




Since then I've added another row of squares all the way round the edge, and more granny-ing. Still 3 1/2 rows of cream granny-ing to go, then it should be the right size for the bed (hooray). I might put a pretty edging on, I'm not sure. If I remember/have time before this posts, I'll take a new photo.

Working on this has actually not been too bad. I thought it would get really boring, and I'm getting a little fed up of it now, but working round and round is so mindless that I can do it with my mind completely elsewhere. In a month or two I might start another blanket using the rest of the wool (I bought enough for a double bed throw), to keep on the sofa in the winter - working on this one, my legs have been toasty warm! I'll take a break and work on something completely different first though, I think. And that one will be cream with dark red because those are my living room colours.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Sampler!

As promised, Laura's finished sampler! Or at least, the embroidery is finished - clearly it still needs framing. I hope to get it framed and on her wall at some point before she leaves home.



I really love it, although I wish it was a more normal shape. I'm worried it's going to be a huge pain finding a frame for it. I expect it would help if I actually started looking, though.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Blankety-blank

I got a sock blank for my birthday. And what one of those is, is, a long rectangle knitted out of lovely sock wool, held double. It came with some Kool-aid, which is an American drink, but you can use it to dye wool and other animal fibres. Knowing this, I have made a mental note to never actually drink any.

Dying with it is good fun, though. I bought some fruit drinks in little sports bottles (like Fruit Shoot but the Tesco brand), drank the drink, and filled three of the bottles with concentrated Kool-aid in the three colours I had - red, pink and blue. Then I laid the blank out on a plastic bag on top of newspaper, and drew stripes all over it with the Kool-aid. Then I microwaved it (to set the dye, I didn't just feel like making it hot), and dried it out. And it looked like this:



I like stripes.

Then I wound the wool off into two balls. Because the blank is knit double, the stripe pattern matches on each of the balls, so the stripes will match on the socks you knit therefrom. Clever. You can knit both socks straight from the blank, undoing it as you go, but I know if I tried that I'd end up in a big knot, probably multiple times, so ball-winding it was.

Imagine a picture of two balls of wool here because I forgot to take one.

And then I knit my socks!



Aren't they great? I love the way the colours blend into each other. I think next time I would either use colours that are all fairly similar, or colours that are all completely different. I think I have enough wool left from this blank for another pair of socks, but instead of that I think I will knit some socks for the baby using this wool. And then I'll probably be all socked out for a few more months.

And, while looking through my camera for the photos for this post, I realised that I never showed y'all Laura's finished sampler! Next time.