Friday, 27 June 2014

Too busy 'yarning' to blog...

I realise it's a while since I last blogged here - life's events and excitements get in the way from time to time. However, there aren't many free moments when I HAVEN'T had some yarn in my hands, lately (even if that's just moving stash piles to other boxes.....)

Best of all, I decided to put in an order to The Wool Warehouse (yes, I know I already have SEVERAL large crates of the stuff up in my workroom.....but one can never have too much!) and it arrived this morning! (not bad, since I ordered it after-hours on Wednesday evening)  I'm SO impressed - quick service and VERY attractive prices, too! I don't normally like ordering yarn without seeing it, but I can happily say the Wool Warehouse is now my online shop of choice! :-)

Just looking at it all is making me lick my lips in anticipation :-)

I've also been experimenting a lot more with crochet, which is becoming ever more addictive.

I'd heard about the 'African Flower' motif and decided to have a go. (There's a great tutorial here )  Well, I was very soon hooked (excuse the pun!) and now I'm happily creating blocks (....a cushion cover?  .....a blanket? ....who knows!)

....and you all know how I HATE seaming things together, so I've taught myself to 'join-as-I-go' (I sort of made it up, don't think it's a 'proper' method, but it works for me) - on the final round, I hook the yarn through a trb on a finished side and then trb on the new square, like this:

Here's a finished seam:

I'm really loving using cotton and cotton-mix yarns, too. I recently made a loose cover for a footstool:
We've just inherited the footstool, which has an embroidered cover created by hubby's Grandmother many years ago:
It's beautiful, but to preserve the colours it had spent a lot of it's life with a cloth over it. Being re-housed in our conservatory we didn't want to risk the sun bleaching the colours, so a loose cover was the order of the day.

Now....back to the newly-arrived stash......where's that crochet hook......?  :-)

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Almost 'un'seamly......!

Any regular reader of this blog will know I try to avoid seams in knitting where possible - so I was intrigued when I was handed a pattern for a baby jacket that is knit all in one piece!

I quickly got to work and followed the pattern religiously, all the while secretly thinking it couldn't be that easy (could it...?) and wondering what I'd end up with.

Well, what I ended up with was this:


I sat and 'played' around with it, turning it first this way and then that  -  the pattern 'helpfully' just said fold it into shape....?! :-/


Then I turned it upside down:

Realising the button holes (can you see them on BOTH sides?) must need to run up the centre front, I folded one side to the middle:

....aha, I think I see where we're going with this....

...and the other side to match!

All that's left is to sew the top of the sleeves - just two small seams!
(even I can cope with that! ;-p)

The other nifty thing is working two sets of button holes - you can decide which gender you're knitting for at the last minute - and the 'unused' buttonholes are the ideal indicators of where to sew the buttons for a perfect match!

This is dangerously easy.....I could be making more! ;-)

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Busy, busy, busy.....

I used to laugh when I heard people say that after they retired they were were busier than ever before - now my hollow laughter has caught up with me, but in a good way!

I don't seem to get around to blogging much these days, partly due to a sudden flurry of family activity with folks moving house, and also the fact that I have got quite a lot of projects on the go all at once!

I've been tidying up my son's old bedroom (the one I've commandeered as my craft space!) and now he's at last moved into his new house I can start boxing up the last of his stuff to pass on. So this morning was partly about 'zoning' the place and deciding which crafty items to stack in boxes or display on shelves.
(still a few crates and boxes to move - but look! You can actually see the carpet!)

A good use for old coffee jars!

A couple of them house some of my small oddments of wool, balled up for one of my on-going projects:
Crocheting scraps of wool to create a new ball of 'yarn'!
Eventually I shall probably crochet this into some kind of fabric.

In fact, as I was wandering about the house trying to gather up all my arty-crafty bits to
relocate them into my new purposed location I realised there are little
baskets and bags of projects scattered about  all over the place!

A mitred-square blanket 'growing' in a basket in the corner of the lounge
(excellent accompaniment for watching TV!)

A jacket, sprawled over the arm of the couch in the conservatory  - I'm just finishing the collar - from a very old knitting pattern (the price on it is pre-decimal currency!)

Lovely muted shades of DK cotton, 'nesting' in a basket by the window - I've just started a 'Mini-mania scarf'. I bought it on a recent trip to Barrow-in-Furness (because hubby wanted to watch football and I went along for the ride and instead found a wool shop!) only to discover afterwards that the yarn is now being discontinued, but I think there'll be enough here anyway.

Another 'ripple' creation, spilling out of a bag - no idea what it will be!
(probably another blanket!)

A recent acquisition was this magnifying lamp - maybe it will encourage me
to get on with the cross-stitch pattern I bought in America last year.....I do keep myself rather busy!

Aside from all this crafty stuff my other passion is Genealogy - and look what I've
just been given to look through:
This is one of the boxes of old family photographs that my husband's elderly aunt has loaned me. Somehow I have to carve out some quality time to sort them out and scan them for posterity.

I've already digitised seven of her old albums - gorgeous old sepia-tinted pictures of  the family in India in the early days of the 1900's, right though to nostalgic black and white snaps from the 1930's. The fashions and glamour are right out of an episode of 'Poirot'!

So, if you don't see me blogging - this is what I'll be up to!

Friday, 14 March 2014

A good dose of rustic charm!

This morning, DD and I took ourselves off to the Garden Barn - a couple of miles down the road, but across the county border, to have a good look round at all their amazing wares.

There are lots of little nooks and crannies in which to consume coffee and cake (in this case - Marzipan and cherry cake, to be precise! Yum!) Replete from caffeine and calories, we ventured down from the loft into the wondrous emporium below..... meanders round the old farm buildings, leading outside to more garden furniture and 'objets d'art'!

It's about 18 months since our last visit so of course we had to take our time admiring all the displays - and getting a few ideas! (Picture quality is not as good as I'd have liked, but I managed to snap off a few images on my phone as we went round.)

(Can you believe it - this was once a milking parlour !)

An amazing bow made out of wood veneer adorned the doorway to the ladies' toilets!

So many quirky items, lots of wood and vintage stuff - we both just wanted to

However, I restrained myself to just one purchase - I love the tactile nature of carved wood, so I indulged in this intricate carving, to sit on my mantelpiece :

I'd better start saving my pennies for the next visit - I don't think we'll be waiting another 18 months! ;-)

Thursday, 27 February 2014

'Stained Glass Window' - in Yarn!

A few days ago I uploaded this picture to a crochet-themed page on a social media site. I didn't realise just how popular this would prove to be - up to the time of creating this blog post it's had 5,969 'likes', 1,049 'shares' and 287 'comments' - the latter often being "where can I get this pattern?" !

Well, this 'Stained Glass' crochet blanket was just something I'd cobbled together after coming across the concept of hexagonal crochet pieces (or I suppose with a stretch of the imagination you could refer to them as 'six-sided' Granny squares!) so there wasn't a pattern I could pass on or link to. I know there MUST be lots of similar patterns out there .....but here's how I did it:

First, I'm using English crochet terms - so anyone reading this from across the 'pond' will need to convert the instructions, but they are very easy anyway:
single crochet (sc)double crochet (dc)
double crochet (dc)treble (tr)
half double crochet (hdc)half treble (htr)
triple crochet (trc)double treble (dtr)
slip stitch (sl st)slip stitch (sl st)
Using a 5mm crochet hook (US H/8) and DK yarn (US worsted) make 4 chain and draw into a loop with a slipstitch. 
1st round: Work 3ch, followed by 11 tr into the ring and join with a slip stitch to the top of the 3ch at the start of the round:
2nd round: Join in a new colour, work 3ch then (2tr, 1 ch, 2tr) in between alternate trs on previous row, thus:
Continue until you have 6 groups of (2tr, 1 ch, 2tr) and join with a slip stitch into 3ch at start of the round:
You can see the hexagon sides and it's six angled 'corners'.
3rd round: Join in another new colour, work 3ch then 1 tr into the gap between treble cluster on previous round; then work (2tr, 1 ch, 2tr) into the 'corner'. Repeat this all around the edge of the hexagon (2tr on straight edges and the 2tr/1ch/2tr at 'corner' angles) and slip stitch to join the 3ch at start of the round:
Subsequent rounds: as before, use 2tr into each gap of previous round on the straight sides and 2tr/1ch/2tr at the 'corner' angles

You can use as many rounds as you like, to make the hexagon whatever size you want.

For the final round, I worked 1tr into each gap on the previous round on the straight edges and then at the 'corner' angles I used 1tr/1ch/1tr :

This gives a neat edge for joining the hexagons together. (I crocheted mine together, which gave a raised and textured edge, or you could piece them together by sewing)

You could do the hexagons in whatever colour pattern you choose (or solid blocks of one colour) but to get the 'stained glass window effect, I always started with white and then several shades of one colour working light to dark and finishing in black. Here's one in several shades of green:

I hope that explains things - really, you can let your imagination run riot with the colour combinations.
Let me know how you get on!

Sunday, 2 February 2014

The mighty 'mitred' square!

I first came across 'constructional' knitting in a magazine a couple of years ago; learning to make and join 'mitred' squares opened up a whole new world for me and I was quickly addicted! One of the chief bonuses is there are NO seams to sew up! :-)

I've included some of my square blankets in previous posts ( here and there for example ) but when I was asked by some members of our embryonic church crafting group to explain the technique I decided I needed to do something easy for people to follow! One of the activities we take part in is making blankets for charities worldwide; some of our more 'senior' knitters can only manage to knit the individual squares - these are then sewn up by those of us with more nimble fingers, as we'd like EVERYONE to be able to take part even if they're not able to cope with the growing weight of a blanket. Meanwhile, to save sewing-up, the more 'adventurous' amongst us asked me how to do the construction method.

So, without wishing to teach any of you experienced knitters out there how to 'suck eggs' (and I know there are other examples out there on the 'web) - here's my first attempt at a tutorial!


How to knit a mitred square

Mitred squares require an odd number of stitches. For this example I used 33 stitches.

Cast on 33 stitches.
1st row. K to last st; P1
2nd row. Sl 1, K to last st; P1
3rd row. Sl 1, K to middle 3 sts; (sl 1, K2tog, PSSO); K to last st; P1
4th row. Sl 1, K to last st; P1


Repeat 3rd and 4th rows until 3 sts remain; after final 4th row K remaining 3 sts tog.
Now you have completed the first square. Well done! Draw yarn through loop and cut end.

To start the 2nd square, pick up and knit 17 sts down one side of 1st square:

Then continue and cast on 16 more sts. You should now have 33 sts on needle:

Next row: K to last st.; P1
Now continue to rep 3rd and 4th rows as on previous square until completed:

Continue to add squares until desired width is achieved. You will see that the mid-row decreases create a diagonal ‘line’.

Now to create a new row of squares on top!
Cast on 16 sts, then pick up 17 sts along edge of block, like this:

Again, you’ll have 33 sts on needle.
Next row: K to last st.; P1
Continue 3rd and 4th row repeats as before and complete the square:

So, 1st square was  Blue; 2nd square was Pink; 3rd square was Green. To make the 4th square, this time you’ll be picking ALL your 33 sts, like this:
From the top left hand side of the green square, pick up 16 sts; pick up 1 st at the corner of the blue square:
then continue to pick up a further 16 sts along the adjacent side of the pink square.

You should now have 33 sts on needle. K to last st; P1. Continue as before, repeating the original 3rd and 4th row:

If you continue in this manner, always adding squares right to left, you will see that the diagonal ‘lines’ run all in the same direction. 

If you want to create a diagonal zig-zag with each new row of squares you just need to alter the direction you add the squares:

This time you’ll be placing your squares left to right. See pic. above. Start picking up stitches from the right hand side of the square below (purple) and pick up 17 sts, then cast on a further 16. Now you have your 33 sts in total, carry on and complete the square.
Repeat the process to add a new square – start from the top right of the green square and pick up 17 sts. Note: the 17th stitch will be picked up from the corner of the square below (purple, in this case), then continue to pick up a further 16, making 33 sts. in total.

Can you see the change of diagonal direction? Just alternate between these two methods for each row of squares and you’ll see the zigzag appear!


There - I hope this explains the technique easily! Picking up and knitting stitches for each new square saves the laborious procedure of sewing the squares together - and if you turn your work over you'll see it also gives a nice smooth finish!

The only dilemma with creating blankets in this way is - which colour shall I use next.....! ;-)