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*

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Little Painted Teapot

Well, my goal to write a blog post every week isn't turning out very well.

Things are quite slow here at the moment. I have lots of projects in the pipeline but little energy to do them. I do have something to show you today though. A few weeks ago a group of us ladies visited a pottery painting studio and had a go at decorating some ceramics. It was quite fun to sit and natter and do a bit of painting.


There were quite a few different ceramic pieces to choose from. Mugs and cups of different sizes, plates and bowls, decorations and ornaments. I wanted to make something practical that I could use. I didn't fancy making something to sit on a shelf and gather dust, so I chose to paint a teapot.

I love the shape of this teapot.


My plan, before seeing this, was to paint a mug in a grid with wildflowers filling each grid. That idea flew out the window when I found the teapot. 😊

As you can see, I stuck with the wildflowers. At least, I hope you can see I stuck with the wildflowers. It's a bit abstract. The purple thingies are lavender and the blue is cornflower. I don't know if you can see, but if you look carefully, there are little yellow dots too. They were going to be flowers but I decided to leave them floating. I made a mistake when painting the centre flowers. There were supposed to be 3 lavender heads, but I ran out of space. Too much nattering I think.


I've just realised while I'm typing this, that the lavender-cornflower-yellow flower combo mirrors a little patch in my mum's garden. It's a little spot I love to investigate in the summer. Each of the plants is visited by a different type of bee which are fascinating to watch. Bee-watching along with the heady scent of lavender makes for a very enjoyable and sleepy summers afternoon. Painting my mum's garden was totally Freudian though, I was thinking 'meadow' at the time.

My husband brought me some tea in bed one morning, bringing the tea in this funky teapot. (I married a sweetie) It was the first time we used it and I'm really glad I had the forethought to get up and take the tea into the living room because the pot dribbled the tea all over the tray, the coffee table (tea table?) and the floor! I'm so glad I didn't pour it in bed! So it turns out I have a lovely new teapot that is really unusable that will look pretty sitting on a shelf, gathering dust after all. Oh well. I love the colours so it will look nice on that shelf 😉

The pottery painting day was meant for the ladies and children but my husband decided he would stick around after seeing this:

This mug holds more tea than my teapot! He says he's going to put a cactus in it

Not a bad paint job, eh? He's a sweetie and a big kid!

                                                                  *B*

Friday, 10 February 2017

Rhino Winter Project WIP


Hello lovely peeps. Today is a good day. It is Friday, it's sunny, I have a vase full of flowers my husband surprised me with and I have made progress on my Rhino. Whoop!


Here he is.


Do you make softies or soft sculptures? I really enjoy the slow process of sewing something by hand. Just focusing on making each individual stitch, going slow and enjoying every moment.


The most magical part of sewing a softie is making the face. That's when they come alive. They change from a few pieces of fabric and thread into a little animal with a personality. This rhino 'came alive' when his ears were sewn on above his eyes. Then he really looked like a rhino.


He isn't quite finished yet, as you can see in this rather undignified photo. He still needs feet, which are just little circles of felt sewn to close up his legs.

I've stuffed and re-stuffed this rhino a few times. His legs are particularly troublesome. He's a rhino which, of course, are natures tanks. So I want him to look strong but not too bulky. The nice thing about the wool felt I'm using is that it stretches and forms ever so slightly with the stuffing, which means I can make him look like he's got strong muscles under his 'skin'. I don't think I'm quite there yet. I'll un-stuff and re-stuff a bit more until I get it the way I like.


To finish I'd like to embellish him to make him a bit whimsical. I'm thinking embroidery or adding some 3D elements out of polymer clay to make him all the more sculptural. Maybe something that makes him look like a mountain? Or just some nice swirly or floral patterns? I'll wait until he's all sewn up to decide.

I'm linking up with Jennifer's Winter Projects link party at Thistlebear. There are always lots of fun and inspiring projects that people share over there so I encourage you to go have a look at what people are up to.

Have a lovely weekend

                                                                     *B*

Friday, 3 February 2017

Simple Pleasures

There's something about the grey days of winter that makes colours seem so much more vivid. I suppose it's the same thing that makes chocolate taste so much better when you're really hungry (Have you noticed that?).


I decided to bring some colour and a bit of spring into the home with a potted hyacinth. I meant to do this at the start of winter but didn't get round to it until now. It sits, growing slowly on a colourful crochet doily. I can't wait to see the little flowers come out. Hyacinths smell so good when they bloom.

I love the burst of colour it's added to our living room already. The freshness of the green leaves and moss and the lavender coloured glass jar has cheered up it's shelf beautifully.


The sun was shining on the hyacinth this morning and, playing with the colours, made it look even prettier. I've tried to capture it in the photos but they don't do it justice.

My craving for colour today lead me to my sketchbooks. I used to paint and draw a lot but have got out of the habit. I cleared my desk to make space and got a few supplies out. Before I show you my colour play let me show you another simple pleasure.


This is my hedgehog. He is a clothes brush that I have owned since primary school. I love him. Of course a clothes brush doesn't need to have a face to be functional but does it make me smile? Yep. Every time.

I needed him today to brush my table down after sewing with some purple fluffy fabric. My table was covered in it! Here's what hedgey picked up. So much purple fluff.


When I paint I have a very free and expressive style. I love to see the interplay of colour. Here's what I did today. A quick sketch brought out with some brusho, which is a type of powdered paint/dye. My favourite way to use brusho is to wet the paper and sprinkle a tiny amount on and watch how the colours mingle with each other. The sketch is pretty bad but I love the colour.


Look at the effect it's made. It's little things like this that I love. 😊


My plan was to ink the sketch and then add a layer of colour over that, maybe in paint then pastel, but I love the colour and pattern in the brusho so much I don't want to take away from it. The problem with working in layers is having to be patient and wait for each layer to dry before adding the next one. I have another page waiting to dry so I can add the next layer. I love painting and really miss it. The drawing below, I did some time ago, has five layers but mostly dry layers so, no waiting around.

Another simple pleasure is looking through old sketchbooks.

This photo looks really cluttered because this sketchbook is made of lots of off cuts of paper
Another simple pleasure I indulged in today was a pot of delicious mango oolong tea. This one is made with roses and chrysanthemum. I love this little Japanese teapot and cup. It is impossible to feel any stress or anxiety at all when drinking a lovely tea freshly poured from this teapot.

I'm sorry the tea is out of focus, I was relying auto focus which is a bit rubbish
So they are the 5 simple pleasures I have indulged in today. I hope you have a nice weekend ahead filled with lots of simple pleasures too.  I have made some progress on a hand sewn rhino softie and I hope to have that to show you soon. Take care.

                                                                      *B*

Monday, 30 January 2017

Crochet-Block

I've suffered artist's block many times. You know, when everything you want to draw, paint or design is just a bit 'meh'. Normally I would work in a sketchbook and work through the block. I even bought a new sketchbook specifically for one particular artist's block that was so bad I didn't want to ruin my other sketchbooks by working in them.

What I currently have is crocheter's block. I didn't know there was such a thing until the end of last week. After the triumph of winning a game of yarn chicken with a scarf, as I blogged about in my last post, I've had a few stalled starts.

The crochet items in my shop have been getting a fair bit of interest which is really exciting as I only moved my shop online in September after selling in shops locally for a few years. So, full of enthusiasm and a head full of ideas I bought a bundle of woolly goodness for projects for my shop and some for me.

The rainbow yarn is going to be a pair of socks. Squee, rainbow socks!

You know how it is when you have a bag full of delicious new goodies. You want to start using all of it all at once. I had three potential shawls, two pairs of socks, a scarf and two neck warmers in there. Which to start first?

I know what the yarn will become already as I always buy yarn and fabric with specific projects in mind to make sure I don't over spend or end up having beautiful materials languishing in cupboards and boxes. I had to learn to have this willpower when I realised I was buying lovely but unusable things.

Found a fabric that would be perfect for a little tote bag? Then buy a lining fabric to match at the same time. Want that yarn in your favourite colour? Work out what you would like it to be and buy enough for that project and no more. It can be so frustrating to be itching to make something and realise you don't have quite enough of one thing or nothing to co-ordinate with another.

So far I've made a scarf and a neck warmer, and they turned out well... Then I started on a gentlemen's scarf. That's where my crocheter's block started. It's based on a scarf I made for my husband two years ago (wow, is it that long ago already?). I designed it specifically for him and the way he likes to wear his scarves and he loved it. Way more than I thought he would. He's been telling me to make more to sell ever since as he's sure other men would love it too. So, I finally listened and bought some wool in 'manly' colours. The problem is, two years is a long time ago and I didn't think I would make another one so I didn't write any notes on how I made the original.


Long story short, some experimentation was required. I used my husbands scarf as a guide and made a start. After a few rows I realised I must have used a bigger hook the first time around. The fabric was very dense and I'd like it to have more drape. I tried to frog but the wool in the yarn had fused together a little bit so it tore away instead of unravelling normally. Arrrrgh! I can't go back so have to go forward. Only now of course, it is using a lot more wool and I will need another ball to finish it. I haven't got another ball because of my 'only buy as much as you need' rule. Sigh.

See how dense it is? At least it will be scrummy warm

Lesson learned: write notes on new designs so I can repeat it and buy wool that can be easily frogged for prototypes.

My husband's solution is to just buy more wool and finish this scarf for him. He really loves the colour and pattern. I think that's what he secretly wanted all along. 😊 He'll have to wait though, I threw it back into the stash for now.

After that I decided to start a project I've been looking forward to for ages. My first pair of socks! I found a great pattern and some nice yarn that I really love. This is going to be a luxurious treat for me. It will cost way more than I would normally spend on a pair of socks. Of course the pattern recommended doing a tension square first, but as the pattern fits a range of sizes and I'm very impatient, I skipped that. Sigh, again. 


This is the toe piece with a few rows to go. It fits my big toe. 

Shamefully, that little piece of yellow plastic? That's my stitch marker. It broke. I'm good at breaking plastic stitch markers. Now I'm using the piece that broke off. 😔 Fortunately it's easy to see where your up to with this pattern.

Here it is squished out so you can see how little it is. 



Looks like I'll be doing a tension square after all. Not now though, I've thrown this back into stash too. I'm taking a break from crochet to do some embroidery and secret sewing until my crochet mojo comes back.

I absolutely love this yarn. It is Drops Fabel and is so soft and squidgy. I've never really liked yarn that has a speckled pattern before but I decided to give it a go as it is the yarn Elin, the designer used in her pair and I really like the look. 



I love the way the colour is coming out, it's so subtle and delicate. I'm still really excited about making my first pair of socks. Watch this space.


Before I sign off, I have to share this photo of the aftermath of cutting out some fabric pieces. This is top secret, so I can't show what it will be yet. Just look at the mess this fabric has made. It leaves a trail of purple fluff everywhere it goes. 


Do you ever suffer artist's/crocheter's block? What do you do about it when it strikes? Please share in the comments if you have any tips.

                                                                             *B*

Friday, 13 January 2017

Yarn Chicken

Do you play yarn chicken?

Yarn chicken is a game of nerves and determination. It is played when you are reaching the end of your yarn and the end of a project or row and you don't know which one will end first.

When I began the final row of this scarf my chances of finishing it looked bleak but I went ahead anyway. I was amazed to reach the half way point. I crocheted on.



                                                         The yarn ball looks so small.




                                                     The end of the row looks so distant.




                                                                              Eek...


                                 

                                                                          Wait...




                                                                   This looks good...




                                                                  Ha ha ha! Woo hoo!




                                                              Eat that, yarn chicken!
                                          (eat that yarn chicken? What does that taste like?)



Bekki 1 - Yarn 0

                                                           
                                                                       *B*