Tuesday, 17 September 2013

11 Days and Counting!

Until Yarndale! I am beside myself with excitement. I keep having dreams where I forget to pack important things - not the usual toothbrush etc, but my crochet hook and yarn! It has taken over my brain entirely. I'm lucky enough to be going up next Friday with my good friend Curly Girl Coop, and staying a couple of nights 'oop North' near Skipton. Just going away is exciting enough for me (I don't get out much these days, and this is my first 'break' since the Little P arrived 2 and a half years ago!) so going to a festival of yarn is something else! I am a little apprehensive about leaving my Little Lady for 2 whole days - it's the longest we've ever been apart (The other time was when I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show at the Ally Pally, so you can see how my priorities lie!) but she is in very capable hands, and will probably have a whale of a time, her own little holiday! And maybe we'll even appreciate each other more when we reunite, as she's been running me ragged this week!

Casting my excitement to one side for the moment, I'll show you a couple of things I've made recently. You'll have to forgive the lower standard of photography, but I left it too late in the day and the light had disappeared - leaving ghastly colour photos, not true to life at all! A little computer magic and they look a bit better, but still not as good as daylight - come back sunshine!

My recent makes have all been made from the wonderful Lily Sugar 'n Cream cotton. I know I rave about it, but I love it, and it is my favourite yarn. I think. It's just so bright and cheery and nice to work with. First up was a couple of coasters for the desk I'm sort of borrowing from my Brother (I was under strict instructions not to mark the surface of it, so better not put hot mugs of tea on there!) I just wanted a simple little pattern, free of course, but not a circle. After looking through Ravelry, I found this one by ChirpinBirdie. Perfect. And it was also made using Sugar 'n Cream, bonus!
I love the little coasters, so quick to make, endless colour combo's and they do the job well, and protect the desk. I hooked up 3 whilst watching some crime drama on the telly box!

I also whizzed up yet another Made in K-Town Mandala, just incase I needed a bigger coaster, and well, cos it looks nice!

That's before I blocked them, but there would have been even less light if I had waited any longer to take pictures!

A while back, I received a message on Ravelry from a member, asking if she could translate my Monty Moo pattern into Danish, so it could be used for her Facebook group's 'animal of the month CAL'. Of course I was only happy for Monty to go Danish! I had a snoop at the Facebook group the other day, and was pleased to see a fair few Danish Montys taking over the world, or at least a few homes in Denmark. Some people have also adapted him in various ways to turn him into a baby snuggler, how cute! I'm so proud of Monty for going global! I have no idea what is being said about him as it's all in Danish, but there are several smiley faces and hearts, so I think they like him, and this makes me very happy! Go Monty!

Due to high demand (well, 2) I've adapted the laptop cozy into an iPad cozy. The first I made exactly the same way as the laptop cozy. Only problem was the drifting seam. On the laptop one, which is thicker, it was disguised more easily, but the iPad one, with it's thin sides, was proving a problem. I'm not sure how many times I frogged it, and how many round-joining techniques I tried before I got it to a standard I was happy with. I wasn't obviously overly happy still, as I've gone on to improve it... with the moss stitch. What else? I loved using the stitch on my bolster cushion and was looking for an opportunity to use it again. It turned out much better too, the joins are pretty much invisible, it looks nicer, all round winner really. I WILL write up the tutorial soon and it will appear here in the near future. So here it is...

Of course it's made from Lily Sugar 'n Cream. Here's a close look at that moss-iness...

I received some exciting post last Friday too... I treated myself to a jewellery tree as I'm sick of my necklaces getting all tangled, and wanted to display them nicely. I've seen a few in shops but nothing stood out - they all looked like glorified mug trees. I had a bit of a look around the internet and came across this Baobab Jewellery Tree sold by Out of Africa Gifts - they have an Etsy and eBay site. I have to admit, it was bigger than I imagined, but it's perfect. It's different, a beautiful, functional item which is a centrepiece in it's own right. It's handmade in Kenya with wood bound tightly with banana leaf, and wired branches so you can bend them for your every need. It's also fairtrade, and a portion of the sale goes to a Christian aid charity in Nairobi. So not only do you have a beautiful jewellery tree, you feel good about buying it too!

Now I must go, Little P is tucked up in bed, the football is on, and I'm going to crochet whilst I watch it, so until next time...

Sunday, 8 September 2013


If there is such thing, we are back to it. It's been a nice Summer - some bits didn't work out as planned, but things got done, fun was had, and the weather for once played ball - we've had amazing long sunny spells since July (this is not usually the case here in the UK I can tell you!)

Now, September has set in and the weather has instantly become more autumnal. Schools are back and Christmas chocolates are already in the shops. Boo hoo! I love Summer - the sun, heat, nature - and not having to wear jumpers and coats, I hate those things! I really should move somewhere a bit warmer...

But, with all the change as we lose our Summer once again, a sense of relief also comes into play, as normality is restored. It's just me and the Little Lady pootling about our business through the week, doing jobs, shopping and plenty of things to keep her entertained! The Summer was lovely, but it's nice to be settled back into our familiar routine.

This means less crochet time however, but it's OK as that time is transferred to full-time Mummy, which is a job I love! I've managed to sneak in some most evenings through the week, which is just enough to keep me sane/happy. This week's project has been the FreshStitches Tiny-A-Long - a crochet-a-long where you can make any of her patterns, but the twist is they have to be tiny (or at least smaller than worsted weight yarn!) I consider FreshStitches animals to be large. If you make them out of the suggested worsted weight yarn, they can be a foot or more tall! Whilst I like the odd larger creation, storage is not practical! Previously I have made her patterns with DK weight yarn, meaning they came out smaller than intended, but for me they were still plenty big enough. For the tiny-a-long, I decided to go one smaller, into unchartered territory - 4ply yarn and a 2.5mm hook! Arghhh! I had none of this, so of course I had to shop. I wanted to use cotton, as usual, and remembered the DMC Natura Cotton my friend once used. It comes it loads of yummy bright colours, so I went and picked out a few I liked.
I still didn't know what I was actually making, so I browsed FreshStitches patterns and tried to figure out what would look good in the colours I had bought. I probably did this the wrong way round, as I usually know what I am making before I go colour hunting, but it actually worked out rather well!
So now I will introduce Jacques, le Hermit Crab!

Friendly little chap isn't he?! I added the smile as I thought he needed it - and Little P likes to pretend to feed these things, and we need a mouth for that!
Even with the 4ply yarn and 2.5mm hook, he still turned out about 9 inches long, imagine if you made him full size?! I striped the shell too, to make him a bit more interesting and bright, and I'm pleased with how that turned out, even if it was a bit of a faff changing colour every row!
My main gripe with the construction of Jacques, was the 5 rows in the middle of his 'body'. They comprised of single crochets, slip stitches and half-double crochets. I understand that this is a necessary technique in order to get his body shape, but working with such small yarn, it slowed the process right down!
In fact, the whole thing took a lot longer than I expected as the yarn was infuriating! It may look and feel lovely, but it was very, very splitty, and working with a small hook, you really noticed it. I was dead chuffed it I managed to complete a stitch without stray loops appeared from where the yarn had split. I won't be using this for amigurumi again in a hurry... or ever!

I was not looking forward to assembling him (I often find sewing on bits can be tricky!) but this was actually plain sailing compared to the rest of him! I don't blame the pattern at all, that's great - it's that yarn! And I won't write the yarn off entirely either - it's just not made for amigurumi! I think he was worth the blood, sweat and tears though, and I've rather fallen in love with him since his completion last night. Little P found him this morning and had to get her other toy crab so they could say 'hello' to each other. Ah sweet child!

I also had another one of those exciting yarn deliveries on Friday. All the way from the States. You guessed it - more Lily Sugar 'n Cream! I've had a few people ask where I get it from, so here is the link to the Bernat shop. It's relatively cheap, comes in great colours and variations (even smells?!) and works up lovely too. I love it. Not for everything - I'm not sure I'd ever use it for toys or blankets, but for decorative stuff it's top notch. Obviously, being as it's from over the pond, shipping is relatively large ($16 to the UK). But I figure, if you order enough (meaning loads) it balances out quite well! Also, I have only been charged shipping once out of 3 orders - I'm not sure how that works? But I was charged this last order, which ruined my idea that if I ordered enough they scrapped the shipping! However, it still works out a good price per skein (mine was about £2.20 per 71g, and works out about the same price per gram as Rico Creative Cotton), and I'm quite happy to pay for the luxury of this stuff!

I ordered a couple of super-size balls this time, and will do so in the future if they have the colours I want available. I also tried a super-sized striped ball of 'Creamsicle', yummy isn't it?

Which leads me nicely on to the other thing I've been getting on with this week - the Little Sunshine Hat pattern is written up, and ready to download as a PDF file (via Google Drive)!

Now the Summer is over, I've finally pulled my finger out and got it written up, good timing eh? Better late than never! I used the Lily Sugar 'n Cream yarn to make these hats, as it has enough strength to it to hold it's shape, but is soft and floppy enough to make a nice hat too. Go take a look! I hope to be writing up another pattern sometime soon, when time allows, but until next time...