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.....! ;-)

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Fit for a 'princess' !

I planned a number of projects for the New Year - then another one appeared out of the blue!

A new baby girl arrived on Jan 2nd for two of my sons friends; he'd tried to buy a few things for the new infant but couldn't find a 'newborn-size' hat.

So, out came the needles and a ball of appropriate yarn and I quickly set to creating something for a little 'princess' - complete with 'crown'! ;-p

Thursday, 2 January 2014

A New Year - and new beginnings!

I know the title of this blog refers to 'Knitting' but there are other 'crafty' things I'm interested in. So, I'm looking forward to embarking on new projects in patchwork and quilting (see previous blog-post) and I'm delighted with the tools 'Santa' delivered for me at Christmas! I now have a cutting mat, quilter's ruler and a rotary cutter! :-)

I'm hoping to pick the brains of some friends at our soon-to-be-formed crafting group at church, plus the 'quiltery people' whose blogs I follow here; hopefully I'll be able to get some pics posted to show progress.

Meanwhile, through this new crafting group, I'll be continuing to knit blankets to be sent out to various charities. Apparently, some of the other knitters haven't come across 'mitred-square' knitting, so I have to give them a demonstration - it's much easier than sitting sewing lots of sqaures together, in my opinion!

Other craft things I've been up to recently:

We had a new kitchen fitted shortly before Christmas (....I've only waited through 33 years of marriage to get to having my FIRST fitted kitchen to MY design rather than making-do with whatever we've inherited in our various house-moves!) 

This, of course meant that all our white-goods/appliances are hidden behind wooden doors - so what to do with our collection of fridge-magnets........?

Well, I got inventive with punching a couple of holes in the rim of a baking sheet and slotting some wire through by way of hanging up, and voila......

Another thing I managed to do before Christmas, was to make up a kit I bought at the 'Sewing For Pleasure' show at Birmingham's NEC last Autumn:

I'd often wondered how these 'pinecones' were made - and now I know! So, I made a few and strung them from a garland:
I expect we may be making these up for fundraising at our new church craft group.....!

And back to the kitchen - someone in the family presented us with a new clock for Christmas:

Rather apt, I say!

In the meantime - I have 4 more squares to complete on the current blanket, so it's time to get back to the needles!