Category Archives: crochet

WIP: Everything is Cool and Groovyghan

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I’m only a year and a half ‘late’ on doing this Crochet-along. It actually started in January 2016 and all the parts were published, done and dusted long ago. However it fitted my criteria for a summer blanket project. It’s modular which means I  can work on small pieces without being swamped in yarn on hot summer evenings. I can use multiple colours and get a scrappy look because, hey, it’s a Groovyghan and it’s supposed to be a bit wacky.

It’s coming along quite quickly. I’m using my stash of DK yarn, which is combination of Stylecraft Special, Deramores Studio and Mark & Kattens Carolina. I’ve had that Carolina for so long that it’s now discontinued and it was annoying me that it was still hanging around. I invested a lot of money in greens and browns, thinking I’d make this gorgeous cardigan, an adult version of a pattern I had with fiddlehead ferns embroidered on it. Nope, that stalled, as did the other projects I tried with it.

I see most people use a 4mm hook with DK, even a 3.5mm, but I’m using my Addi Swing 4.5mm because (a) it’s an awesomely comfortable hook, (b) I tend to crochet tightly, and (c) I don’t want my blanket coming out too small.

Here’s the pile of stash, sorted by colour:

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And here’s my progress:

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One strip of granny squares is finished (though I haven’t woven in all the ends yet). To control the colours somewhat, all the centres are yellow, and all the second and fifth rounds are shades of green (I have a lot of greens). That was part 1 of the CAL. Then part 2 is the popcorn blocks, where I chose to use the same purple for the background on both blocks and two of the greens for the popcorns to tie things in with the grannies.

The Ravelry link for the CAL is here. And the page on the Keep Calm and Crochet On UK website where it all comes together is here. Whilst I’m not crocheting along with other people, I have the benefit of working at my own pace, which means I’m not waiting around for the next part to be published, or rushing to finish a section and feeling pressured.

As you can see, this is not a portable project. I have three large bags/baskets of yarn and I’m choosing colours as I go. So I needed a small project which would fit into a project bag for taking to work and other places. This is one which I have worked on solely in my lunchbreaks the last three days:

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It’s a nice bit of comforting Tunisian crochet in simple stitch using a bulky yarn from Michaels and an 8mm hook. This will probably end up being another co-worker gift. No rush to finish this one either.

So that’s that! Summer has officially hit here, with temperatures into the 30s, though I think maybe it will be mid-20s for the next few days. The over-full lake has started to recede, and hopefully the beaches will all be open again soon (that’s if they are usable, considering the debris, dead grass etc all over the place). I have started an exercise routine as I need to firm things up for MAUI! Yes, we have booked a week in Maui for our 30th wedding anniversary in December. I’ve been wanting to go there for a long time and see for myself if all the rumours are true – that it’s an amazing place!

Tai Chi Man has sadly been given extra work around the house that he really didn’t need. He has the week off and already has a “honey-do” list as long as his arm, but we’re having trouble with the plumbing. The water pressure is triple what it should be which of course we discovered just before the weekend, the extra pressure is making the toilets and dishwasher quite unhappy, and he has had to phone around for parts and make numerous trips to the hardware store. I guess the pressure valve on the pipe coming into the house failed (no cold water tank like we used to have in the UK, just a direct line). What a nuisance! Old houses are always giving you little surprises. Nasty ones. Sometimes expensive ones.

I’d better go and get started on straightening up around here. The water is off so I can’t clean the bathrooms but I can certainly vacuum, and hem curtains, and get some things crossed off MY to-do list.

Happy crafting!

FO: VW Campervan bag

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This baby is DONE!

The pattern is my own design, though I relied heavily on cushion and bag pattern pictures on Ravelry and photos on Pinterest. The yarn is Loops & Threads Impeccable (except for the black) and I used a 5mm hook. It resulted in a fairly stiff fabric, which is fine for a bag, but if it was a wearable item I’d definitely use a 5.5mm.

The lining fabric is from the store where I work, and is a very appropriate peace sign print. I added a pocket in the lining, and a magnetic button for the top closure.

This was quite fun to design on the hook, and even the unravelling and redoing of the front windows (the stranded look was crappy so I changed it for intarsia) didn’t take long and wasn’t onerous. I’m glad I did it as I wouldn’t have been 100% happy with the finished object otherwise.

The project took about 16 days from start to finish and now the big question is, “What next?”

 

A day at the sewing machine

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These shots, taken by my son, are somewhat bleached out as the sun was bright in the background. However I think you can see the beach cover-up that I made. The pink lacy fabric was the last of a bolt of clearance fabric at work. I bought a string of pink pompoms to go along the bottom edges which adds a nice bit of weight to it.

I actually screwed up part of the construction. My plan was to cut a neck hole and bind it with satin bias binding. Well, it was late, I was tired, and I accidentally cut a hole that was twice as big as I wanted. Hmmm, measure twice, think three times, cut once!

After a lot of swearing that Tai Chi Man could hear upstairs, I ended up cutting right across and sewing up again, and rather than use the bias binding, which just didn’t look right, I hemmed the neck edge with two rows of stitches. Do you know how tricky it is to sew fabric that is more holes than anything!?

Once that project was out of the way, I started on the next project. Thanks to my friend cancelling our gym date yesterday, I ended up having a whole day at home. I did a bit of yoga in the morning and, apart from making and eating dinner, spent the rest of my time sewing or crocheting.

The results are these:

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An apron, oven gloves and towel hanging loops. I used an older apron that I made a few years ago as a template, with a modification. I narrowed the top part as the last one I made tends to gape because it’s a bit wide. This apron is just one thickness, not lined, but I did add a pocket. The oven gloves were a “wing-it” thing as I didn’t use a pattern. If I’d had some purchased wide bias binding I would have used that, but I didn’t. The method I used was to layer fabric with regular cotton batting and Insul-Brite (batting with a reflective metal component) for the main piece, and then make the hand pockets with two layers of fabric. All raw ends were enclosed before stitching the hand pockets to the main piece. Thank the sewing gods for a walking foot.

It’s a somewhat amateurish result but usable!!

The towel loops, designed for hanging tea towels on an oven door, are made with Stylecraft Special DK in Duck Egg, which just happens to match one of the colours in the fabric. Brown buttons completed the look.

I’m glad I took advantage of a couple of nice mornings last week to go kayaking, as I was working all weekend. You could say that Monday and Tuesday were my ‘weekend’ though Monday entailed going to the dentist (fillings where my gums have receded a bit and also some chipped teeth at the front, lots of numbing which took hours to wear off) and grocery shopping. We have a number of places we like to buy our food – there’s Superstore for the usual weekly shop, Costco for certain other items like avocados, tomatoes and big stuff, bulk food store for raisins, oats, flour etc. Then there are the smaller places like Mediterranean Market for olives, artichokes and sundried tomatoes, and the health food store for certain specialty items and supplements. Also I buy instant coffee at London Drugs these days as I am avoiding Nestle as much as possible and we like their own “Brazilian” brand. So all in all I spent five hours on Monday, visiting the dentist and six stores, spending oodles of money on stocking up the fridge, pantry and cold room.

The fact that Tuesday was an at-home day was a wonderful gift!

Well, today I have to work, though I don’t start until 11am. So I’d better sort myself out and think about what’s for dinner in case I need to prep anything.

Enjoy your day and talk to you again soon.

WIP: VW Camper Van bag

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I learned something new today. I can take reasonable photos with my phone (which is just an inexpensive Android) and upload them to my Windows laptop easily. Why has it taken me so long to actually use the phone for more than texting?

I was out with a girlfriend today, walking along the waterfront at a small town just south of my own, enjoying a London Fog and a large slice of vegan orange date walnut loaf, and sunbathing at the sheltered bay which is such a popular swimming spot in the summer. It was a comfortable temperature, mostly sunny, maybe around 25 Celsius. The lake is higher than it’s ever been in recorded history, thanks to a rainy spring and the melting of the snowpack at higher elevations, so flood barriers have been set up in many places to try to hold back the water from flooding backyards and basements.

Along one stretch of our walk, the road was closed to traffic and there were hoses stretched across the road where people were pumping excess water from their properties back into the lake. Or at least trying to. I’m not sure how successful that can be when it must surely cycle back in.

Ironically, the extra water has not resulted in more watery activities, as swimming and boating are not recommended because of the detritus in the water. Kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding seem to be the better options. The beaches have disappeared and the mosquitos are having a field day because of the increase in stagnant water.

This bag, which I probably shouldn’t claim to be a VW camper van for fear of trademark infractions, is for my niece. When I was on holiday visiting the family she nicely asked if I would make her one. There’s a couple of patterns on Ravelry that helped me come up my own plan for the bag, though I still don’t know what type of handles/strap it will have.

So far, I’ve made pretty good progress on the front. I’m not 100% happy with the edges of the colour blocks but I don’t think there’s a way to avoid the unevenness if you’re working back and forth. The edge stitches look different on the left and right of the V – the ones on the right are beautifully smooth. Also the two white stitches in between the windshield sections are a bit untidy. I used intarsia on the blue/white part and stranding on the grey/white, and I think it would have been better to have used intarsia throughout.

Ah well, it was a good day. Nice to be out in the sunshine instead of stuck inside, either at home cleaning or at work. Tai Chi Man has fixed the J brackets to my roof rack, so I am ready to load up a kayak or two at a moment’s notice. Hoping to actually get out on the lake for the first time in ages, sometime this week.

I hope your week is awesome!

 

 

Souvenir yarn

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Because a holiday isn’t complete without new yarn!

Colours in the above photo, in order from left to right, are clematis, duck egg, parma  violet, lobelia and sage.


I bought these from Country Wools here in the island of Jersey.  They have a good range of yarns including, you guessed it, Stylecraft. I made sure to buy colours that I don’t already have and that I can add to my bag of Special DK when I get home. 

It was a hot sunny day today and ds1 and I enjoyed some shady valley walking, a picnic in the park, and some exploring of an old fort. If we’d have had swimsuits with us, we’d have gone in the sea too. Actually he did, later in the day, after I’d dropped him off back at his granddad’s and I returned to my mum’s to cook dinner. Bet that sea was cold!

We’re nearing the end of our holiday now and it’s been great to spend time with family and see more of the island where I grew up. 

Happy crafting!

Crochet kits

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I don’t have a lot to show for this week. There were actually a couple of days when I didn’t pick up hook or needles until I realised that my mild anxiety over my upcoming holiday would be smoothed out by making something simple. I pulled out some Bernat Handicrafter last night and crocheted a dishcloth and felt better.

However I do want to show you these kits…

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I work at a fabric store which also stocks a small amount of yarn. Every now and then, some boxes arrive which must be part of some sort of buy-out. I once bought a dozen facecloths, really smooshy ones, for about 40 cents each. This time, it was these kits. My boss showed me the kits and I thought, well, those are going to be expensive, maybe $30 each, so I doubt I’ll get one. Then she looked up the retail price on them and it was……$3.40!!! OMG! Less my staff discount, I picked up these three kits for less than ten bucks. (Those kits were gone, mostly to staff, within 24 hours!)

They have yarn, pattern, crochet hook, darning needle, toy stuffing, safety eyes – basically everything you need.  I don’t know how great the acrylic yarn is, or how strong the plastic hook will be considering it’s a 3mm, but I have metal hooks so that’s not an issue.

The monkey and the rabbit came in larger boxes but the monster was in a smaller one, and I was amused to open the monster kit and find it all vacuum packed within an inch of its life.

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I cut those packets open to let everything puff up back to normal.

So yes, my holiday starts Monday and it involves three flights, one of which is about 9 hours long, across the Atlantic. DS1 is coming with me. Of course packing is easy, as we keep it light to avoid baggage check-in and waiting at the carousels, and the biggest decision is my travel knitting/crochet.

After a lot of Ravelry browsing, I was inspired by a colour change cowl and had a lightbulb moment. I am therefore taking eight colours of my Deramores Studio DK and my sets of interchangeable Knitpicks needles and Denise hooks. The plan is to start knitting a cowl or scarf in the round, casting on after going through airport security here, and change colour for each leg of the journey. There’s always so much waiting around at airports, knitting opportunities in planes and cabs and during one’s holiday, that I should be able to finish a project in the two weeks I’m away. And if I need more yarn, I can pick some up over there.

This weekend involves some last minute shopping, bread baking, laundry and cleaning. The Plant-Based Nutrition presentation that I was going to do tonight has been postponed so that’s freed up about five hours, if you count travelling time, so I am less pressured. Tomorrow we have a potluck lunch at someone else’s house.

We have had an abnormally wet spring here in the Central Okanagan (BC, Canada) and with the milder temperatures, the melting snowpack and the rain have caused the creeks to burst their banks in many places and the lake to rise quickly. It is managed at the south end by a dam, but it’s rising faster than it can be released. We’ve had flooding in a number of areas on both sides of the lake, and people evacuated or on alert. Thankfully we are high and dry here, away from the lake and any creeks, and the lawn is about a foot deep in new green growth, the trees have leafed out and the lilac has blossomed. Tai Chi Man says he’s going to mow the lawn this weekend, which is a shame in a way, but it does look tidier when it’s all one length, even if it IS a mixture of grass, yarrow, weeds, and bulbs.

Well this turned into a long spiel so I shall sign off. If things are quiet around here, you’ll know why. I’ll be having too much fun with my mum, my sister, her daughter-in-law and the new baby! This holiday is all about the women!

 

FO: Twiddle muff!

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Yup, really, it’s a twiddle muff!

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I’d better explain. Knitters and crocheters are making these twiddle muffs for people with Alzheimer’s. Apparently having something to fiddle with helps with anxiety. So once you have the basic shape, which is a tube of single or double thickness, you add various doodads to make it interesting. Different stitches for texture, buttons, flowers, D rings, beads, whatever you like.

Mine is crocheted in fuzzy Patons Diana, as I have a lot of it from another person’s destash, and I added flowers sewn on with buttons and a string of beads on the outside, and some D rings, plastic rings on a crocheted chain, and buttons on the inside.

This is for my boss’s mother, who’s in a home with dementia. Hopefully she will like it and it will get some use.

It’s been a beautiful sunny day today, around 20 degrees, and Tai Chi Man and I headed for a nearby  mountain and discovered a new trail. We also had to buy a new kettle (the old one just quit) and we were happy to find a Kitchen Aid one at London Drugs that can be set to heat to any temperature from 50 to 100 Celsius. We also picked up a couple of new Pyrex dishes because I did a very silly thing this morning. I was making oat bars, and had my nice blue 9 x 13″ dish full of mixture ready to go into the oven. I also had a pan of water on stove, behind the dish, that I wanted to heat to make tea (because the aforementioned kettle died). Well, I stupidly switched on the wrong hotplate, walked out of the room briefly to talk to Tai Chi Man, and was suddenly half deafened by an explosion as blue glass shattered in all directions. I’m very thankful no one was close by at the time. And what a waste of food.

I seem to be on a run of stupidity, or shall we call it lack of mindfulness, lately. Broke a glass last week when the jar of salt slipped out of my hand. Damaged BOTH our cars when I backed out of the carport, forgetting my dear husband’s car was halfway up the drive. We were talking at the time, I was distracted, and the resulting collision was sickening. Broke the Pyrex dish today. Snipped my finger as well as the yarn while making the muff. Good grief!

Time to make tea and get on with things….carefully!