Monday, 9 October 2017

Crochet Therapy and Recovering


Happy Monday everyone!

It's been quite a while since I've posted here. My last post was written the day before I went away for the weekend. It really was a good weekend, spent with family, but my health kinda crashed after and it's been hard to pick up again.

I've been thoroughly enjoying the changing seasons. Autumn is my favourite time of year and October is my favourite month. The leaves have been painted in the most beautiful colours. The seed pods of various plants and trees are such interesting shapes. I've been enjoying seeing and smelling autumn whenever I can get out. Do you like autumn too?

I want to share something I made while I was recovering my health. My head is still very foggy, though, so I apologise for any nonsensical writings!


I showed the beginnings of this shawl in my last post. It was just a little triangle then. It's another Victoria shawl by Sandra of Cherry Heart. You can see the first one I made here. This is such a lovely pattern and easy to memorise too, which is great for when you want to crochet something with a therapeutic repetitiveness to it. I only had the strength for 5 to 10 minutes of crochet at a time but the pattern is written so well and includes charts and stitch counts so that it is hard to lose your way even with all of the stopping and starting that I did.



Let me tell you about this yarn. I love this yarn. It is 100% alpaca 4ply, it has a slight halo and is sooo soft! It makes a beautifully drapey fabric that is warm and cosy when crocheted. It is yummy.

Making this was such good therapy. It is so nice to watch a crochet project grow and grow, isn't it? Then, holding it up and seeing the finished project... It is good for the soul. 😊


Last time I crocheted this Victoria shawl, I made it with just one colour so this time I decided to use two -lavender/light purple with a few rows of grey at the border to create a bit of interest. I really like how turned it out.

Sandra has designed the Victoria shawl to be just the perfect size. It will cover shoulders and arms when worn the traditional way, but it's not big enough to be cumbersome, so you can wear it draped asymmetrically across your shoulders or around your neck like an oversized scarf.

I can see me making many of these in my future. I made this one for my shop but I enjoyed wearing it for this photoshoot so much that I think I might just *need* to make one for myself too 😊. Not that I don't already have enough shawls and scarves to keep a small army warm.😁


It feels really good to be back, writing and showing pics. I have lots of things in the pipeline to share on the blog, including a new bag that I finally finished. My plan is to review the pattern, so if any of you like to make handbags look out for that appearing on my blog soon.

Do you like to crochet? Have you made the Victoria shawl pattern before, or do you have another favourite? Do share in the comments. I'd love to hear about what you've been making.

I hope you have a brilliant week

                                                                          *B*


Ps. I made a page for my shawl on Ravelry here
     The shawl has been listed in my Folksy shop, the link is up on the right if you fancy a look

I'm linking up with Jennifer's Winter Link Party at Thistlebear

Thursday, 3 August 2017

New WIPs For Summer

Summer? I can't see summer. Just rain and the howling wind. Ah, well.

I've started a few new projects to keep me occupied while we've been stuck indoors, dodging rain. They're mostly gifts for friends. I love giving handmade gifts. There is something about summer too; I love to give gifts in the summer. Do you feel the same way?


I've made a stack of these tissue holders for a few friends. Some have already gone to their new homes. I used this tutorial to make them if you fancy making some yourself. They are very quick to make and perfect for little gifts. I even made one out of manly fabric for a man friend who always has tissues and a sniffle due to allergies.

These are finished so not technically WIPs.


I've started on a Lalylala crochet doll pattern too. (Isn't that the best name for an amigurumi brand?) Getting two matching legs was pretty difficult but I think I've got something close to a pair here. I can see this is going to take a lot longer than I thought it would. I was hoping it would be finished by this weekend. No way.


I've also started another one of these Victoria shawls by Cherry Heart. This time I'm using a pale lavender. I might use a different colour for the edging this time... I'll see. This is a great pattern for evening crochet in front of the telly and I'm thoroughly enjoying making this one.

Have you got any WIPs you're working on this summer?

Have a lovely weekend guys.

                                                                             *B*


Friday, 28 July 2017

Banana Cake Recipe


I'm back with another easy recipe for you to try. This is one of the husbands favourites. Banana Cake! 

I make these in individual sized shapes then pop them in the freezer. One can be taken out in the morning, before work and it will be defrosted by lunch time (put them in the microwave for a few seconds if you like elevenses). They also serve as a cooler for your lunch box, which is handy.
I have a heart shaped cake tin with 6 individual hearts which is the perfect size for this mixture but an ordinary muffin tin would work too. If you prefer to make one big cake instead of lots of individual ones, use a loaf tin, just remember to bake it for a little bit longer.
This recipe has more of a pudding texture rather than being light like a sponge. It is delicious with a cup of tea in the afternoon and is AMAZING with custard!




2-3 bananas (2 medium sized or 3 small bananas)
55g Softened Butter
130g Self-Raising Flour
100g Caster Sugar
1 Egg
1tsp Baking powder
1tsp Vanilla Essence (optional)


Pre-heat oven to 160'C fan-forced/ 180'C with no fan/ 350'F/ Gas mark 4.
Grease your cake tin. You might find it helpful to very lightly dust the greased cake tin with flour too, as we wont be lining the tin. Make sure you shake any excess flour out.
Mash the bananas in a large bowl. 
Add all other ingredients and beat until well combined. I find an electric hand mixer indispensable here. 
You will see lumps in the batter. Those lumps are banana and are perfectly fine. If you see any other lumps of butter or flour, mix them in.
Spoon the batter into the prepared tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into a cake comes out clean.
Leave to cool on a wire rack before placing each into individual freezer bags and freeze until needed. Alternatively, enjoy them while still warm with generous lashings of custard. 😋mmm

This recipe is great for using up over-ripe bananas. If you only have one banana you might need to add a little milk to the batter to get a loose dropping consistency.

What you can't see in this pic is my husband waiting for me to finish photographing them, saying "Can I have one, yet?", "Can I have one, now?", "When?... Now?"

This is one of the easiest recipes, ever!! Try it and let me know how you get on.

                                                                                                 *B*



Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Sewing Around The Bend

How to deal with tight curves when sewing? Pin, pin, pin!

I don't often use pins when I sew. I usually use wonder clips or just hold the pieces together with my fingers as I sew. There are times though, when pins really are essential.

This week I had to sew a straight and long rectangle onto a curved shape.


Look at this tight and narrow curve. Thaaat's pretty tight 😨😬.
Fabric can easily slip and stretch as it moves under the presser foot on your machine or leave you with little puckers when sewing around curves like this. ~I've had plenty of experience with that! *sigh*
I really don't like having to use my seam ripper and re-sew things. Ain't no one got time for that, as they say. Better to take the time to ensure the pieces are measured and cut out accurately and held together in the right places before sewing, to save on all of the teeth grinding frustration of unpicking later.

Using plenty of pins will hold the fabric pieces in place at tricky curves and a bonus is that if the pins are horizontal to the seam they will go through the machine so you don't have to unpin as you sew, which allows for maximum stability as the fabric passes under the needle. Whoop.
Just sew carefully and make sure the needle will pass over the pins and not catch on them and break. ~I've done that too. 😄


The trick to sewing curves is to sew sloooow and stop to adjust the fabric and smooth out any bumps with your fingers regularly. Another tip is to manoeuvre the fabric in front of you so it is straight and parallel with the foot before it passes under it. Sew a few stitches at a time and stop, manoeuvre the fabric around so it will pass straight under the foot, repeat. That way you can keep your seam allowance accurate.


The down side to using pins is all of the pricked fingers you get as you wrangle the fabric pieces around the machine and focus on the seam and pins in front of you and get bitten by a pin sticking out from the back. Ouch. Or does that just happen to me?

Have you got any tips for sewing curves? Share in the comments if you have. I'd love to hear them!

                                                                        *B*



Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Lily Pond Blanket Ta-Da

So, I jumped on the lily pond band-wagon.

Forgive the pics, This blanket hasn't been out of use long enough to block yet 😊
Do you remember this crochet along from a couple of years ago? The lily pond blanket was designed by Jane Crowfoot and was released in segments over the course of a couple of months. I was still quite new to crochet when I saw the blanket pattern and read about the crochet along, having learnt to crochet about six months earlier. This pattern looked like it would be a huge challenge. I love a challenge.

I bought the yarn kit to make the blanket but ended up swapping a couple of the colours that came in the kit. The kit I bought came with a bright neon pink which clashed with every other colour. I couldn't even see where it was meant to sit within the other pinks so I swapped it for a soft rose colour. I think the pinks harmonise a lot better now. The other colour I swapped was teal. The teal, being a little bit green and a little bit blue, created a bridge between the two colours and as the blanket is dominated by the greens and blues, I thought the colours would blend together too much with the teal. It needed definition between the colours, so I bought a dark blue to replace the teal. I did add some teal here and there, just to add a bit of depth where I thought it suited it.

The blanket is made up of eight square or long rectangle blocks that are then joined together. Seven of the blocks are to be made four times and the eighth is made five times so 33 blocks altogether plus a pretty wavy border.


I am totally in love with those colours!

I thoroughly enjoyed making this blanket. When I started I only knew how to do doubles, trebles and chain stitches. Every block had something new for me to learn. I had to learn more stitches, creating wave patterns, pinwheel patterns, fans, multi-layered flowers that sit on a square block. I learnt to adjust tension by changing the hook size. There is even a bit of embroidery in the little blossom blocks. I learnt so much and every pattern block was a challenge so it never got boring. I did have to frog and re-do many a section though. Particularly the bobble stitches. They took me so long to master!

See the stray petal that has landed on the blanket?
The 3D flowers are so pretty and so tactile as they are made up of many layers of pinks, cream and a deliciously warm yellow, all shaped into dainty petals.

This is my favourite block.


I love to learn new things so I really relished in immersing myself in all of those stitches, completing each section one stitch at a time, absorbing all of the new stitches and tricks I was learning along the way. I was amazed to see how my skills in crochet developed over the time I was working on this project. When I first started I was still very new to crochet and I found the blocks very challenging and very difficult and each one took me a long time. As I was getting nearer to finishing the blanket I found the blocks and the stitches easier and easier.

I decided that whenever I got frustrated or fed up with working on it I would put it down and work on other things until I regained enthusiasm. I had no deadline and I wanted to enjoy every part.

Do you have any projects like that? Forever projects. Something that is just for you, just for fun. It doesn't matter how long it takes to complete. It is a project to work on for a while then put away while you work on other things and come back to later. Something to make just for the pure enjoyment of the making and not so much the finished object. This blanket was one of those projects for me. Completely indulgent, something to get lost in when I needed it.


It took me two years to complete. Two years just working on it bit by bit and I enjoyed every stitch! My crochet has come a long way since I first started this blanket. I've made many more things in between and even started to sell some crochet shawls and scarves alongside my jewellery both locally and online. My long term goal is to design a few crochet patterns of my own. I have some ideas floating around but nothing really solid yet.

I love my new blanket. The pattern is beautiful. I love the flowers, I love the patterns created by the different stitches and I love how varied it is. It feels so good to snuggle under knowing all of the time and effort that went in to making it.

I couldn't resist taking photos of the blanket amongst the pale pink blossom that had fallen from the trees. It seemed to be the perfect backdrop for such a pretty blanket and it totally matched the colour palette 😊.

I hope you are enjoying the spring as it transitions into summer and have had the chance to enjoy the blossom.


Thanks for stopping by. Have a lovely week!

                                                                      *B*


P.S My lily pond blanket Ravelry page is here, if you're interested 😊

Linking up with Annemarie's Link Your Stuff



Wednesday, 26 April 2017

A little Bag And A Bit Of Crochet

Hello lovely peeps. I hope you've been enjoying the spring and all of the blossoms and scents that float around this time of year. Or the beautiful autumn colours and scents if you're in the south 😉. Although it's been snowing and hailing here this week, it was lovely and sunny in my part of the English hills at the weekend. Perfect picnic-in-the-park weather. What better than to sit on a blanket in the sun with a sweet husband, some snacks and a crochet project on the go?


Bliss.

This is my first pair of crochet socks and my second attempt at making them. My first attempt came out a bit small. The toe section would only cover my big toe! I have quite a tight tension when I crochet and apparently a much tighter tension than the designer of these socks. 😊 I had to go up a hook size to get the right tension. Now that I have, they're hooking up a treat. It's growing quickly and fits perfectly. I've now reached the heel section of sock number one and I'm really looking forward to learning how the heel is made. It's always good to learn new tricks.

The yarn has quite a high wool content so the socks will be lovely and warm when they're finished. I just love the colour and the texture of the stitches. yum.


It just so happens that this project fits nicely into another project I finished recently. It is completely accidentally the perfect size.

Two balls of wool, one partially made sock and a hook all fit inside

Maybe I should have embroidered 'socks' onto the front instead of 'stuff'.


I have wanted to make a dorothy bag for ages so had a rummage around in my stash and found this rather nice cream and gold home dec fabric. I bought almost a metre of it for £1 on a market stall and it's been sitting, waiting to be sewn into a bag ever since. The good thing about this fabric is that it's reversible, with the reverse side being a negative of the pattern on the right side which made it an ideal lining too. The lining peeps over the top of the bag a little bit, so it has a lovely flash of gold at the top.


I used a scrap of liberty fabric over a small piece of the reverse (lining) side of the main fabric to embellish the front. My disappearing marker disappeared rather quickly on the liberty lawn so I had to plan out my lettering and visualise the size and spacing of the letters as I was embroidering them. I think it worked out ok. It's not perfect but I'm happy with it. I also used a gold embroidery thread to stitch over the sewing line on the larger rectangle to mirror the gold cording of the drawstring.


I'm really pleased with how my 'stuff' bag has turned out and my sock project definitely looks tidier in a bag than piled in a jumble on my work table 😊.


I used this pattern for the 'stuff' bag, if you're interested in having a go yourself. (The download link is towards the bottom of the post)

Thanks for dropping in. I hope you have a lovely week.

                                                                             *B*

Friday, 31 March 2017

What Do You Do With Your Scrap Yarn?



I've recently finished a blanket I've been working on and I'm so glad it's finally complete. Crocheted, joined up and ends sewn in. It's been the never ending project for 2 years! But now it's done and I am cosily snuggled underneath it as we speak. I haven't got any photos yet but I will take some for a Ta-Da post soon.

The thing is, there is a lot of yarn left over from this project which makes my acrylic stash overflow a bit. I decided to pull out all of my acrylic double knit scraps to take stock of what I have.

There's enough to make another lap blanket here
These are the scraps from three projects. two crochet blankets and one woven scarf. Yummy colours and many possibilities 😍

I took advantage of all this spare yarn to try a little pattern I've been meaning to try for aaaages. It is a free tutorial on My Giant Strawberry which is a hugely inspirational blog written by Anne who is a wonderful artist. Anne has been showcasing artists and their sketchbooks recently which has been really interesting. I love looking through other artists sketchbooks, don't you?


This rose weighs 49g so I'm thinking it would take a lot of those to use up all this yarn 😉

One idea I have to use it all up is to make a blanket of flowers. Lots of flowers in a jumble of colours all attached by the petals (as opposed to crocheting them into square blocks). It would look like you were sleeping under a flowerbed, which is a fun thought. 😊 Another idea is to learn to free form crochet and start at one end and free form shapes all the way to the other end. Have you ever tried free form crochet? If you have I'd love some advice. If you haven't come across it before, type it into google and look at the images. It's like painting with yarn! This appeals to me as when I was younger I painted everyday, and with the left over paint on my palette I would paint a page in my sketchbook, starting in one corner and adding paint whenever I had some left to use. I like the idea of doing that with yarn. It looks so fun, but it would be a big learning curve. Then there's the simplicity of stripes. Simple is tempting.


In the mean time, I'm thinking my rose needs a hat to live on so first I must make a hat.


I'd like to know, what do you do with all of your scrap yarn? Is there a favourite scrap busting pattern you always use, or do you save it all that *perfect* project that will come along?


*B*