Sunday, April 24, 2011

Lots of crochet and my first pattern!

I made one of these lovely wee jar covers for my very first crochet project last year. I haven't made any since, but today I had a bit of free time while the rest of the family were at the local pool. I decided to make another one with some lovely wool I have been using recently. It is quite a firm wool so feels more like a cotton in some ways, and it is perfect for this little cover. When my little ones got home, they both agreed that these stripes would be really nice as a hat. So they have put in their requests for what colours and styles they want!

Lovely rainbow-y stripes!

Just a quick cushion update .... I started joining them yesterday but forgot to take a pic of it all joined. So here is one after joining the horizontal rows. I have joined these squares with a raised join as I wanted a bit more texture to this one. I love the result! I'm sure there is a perfectly good crochet term for this but I don't have a clue what the stitch would be called!!! I am still on the hunt for either some merino fabric or a jersey to use on the back. Fingers crossed I find something this week as I'm bursting to get it finished. Tomorrow my small folk are going to help choose the buttons from our big button jar. These woolly cushions are so warm to snuggle up against! I adore them.

I am loving this long Easter weekend! I have been able to grab a bit of extra time to crochet which has been fab. The weather hasn't been so great so it's a good excuse to stay inside with my hooks, oh and lots of chocolate too! I think next week I will have to have a bit of vege fest to feel healthy again.

As we head into winter, it's so lovely to find monarch butterflies still in the garden. This gorgeous butterfly sat and posed quite happily for me. They really are the most stunning creatures aren't they?

And now, here's my first pattern! It's not exactly a tricky one, but something that gets lots of compliments whenever I wear mine.

I have been meaning to pop this on my blog for a while but kept forgetting to take pictures while I was making one. So this weekend I finally did it. It's a little pattern I have done to make a fab necklace. It's a fairly simple thing to make but to people who don't crochet, it looks difficult. I have given quite a few of these to friends to 'road test' and they all really like them. They look great over a plain t-shirt. You can make it any length you like, so you can wear it doubled or tripled around your neck. The possibilities are endless - colour, length, yarn etc. I have gone for just a single strand here to show you.

I have never written a pattern before so fingers crossed this makes sense!!! I have tried to take pics of each step. I'd love to hear what you think of it. So here goes ...

I have used thin crochet cotton and a 1.3mm hook for this example - and I am using US terms.

Firstly, chain 25. Try and keep your chain fairly tight.

Insert hook into the 5th chain from hook and sl st to form a small ring.

The ring will be fairly tiny so you might need to give it a wiggle to gently find the centre.

Make 8dc into ring. At this point your original chain length will be coming out of the bottom of your work (see below).

You now need to move your chain in a clockwise direction so it is now at the top of your work (see pic below). This will ensure that you have a nice even entry/exit chain coming out of the circle/round that you have created.Make another 8dc into ring. Join with a sl st into the top of your first dc. You have now completed your first 'circle'!

Now you chain 25 again ...... and repeat the above instructions until you have reached your desired length. Join your last 'circle' to your initial chain and fasten off.And there you go, a cute wee necklace! You can go as crazy as you like with colour, or even add some small beads or buttons to the centre of the circles perhaps? And if you want the circles to be smaller, just use a smaller stitch, an hdc works well too.

I hope that all made sense!

Have a fab week.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Seeing double?

My tea cosy has a lookalike! I enjoyed making the first tea cosy so much that I decided to make another one as a birthday gift for a lovely friend of mine (Happy Birthday Jayne!). The new one is the one at the front and it has a different mix of flowers to the original. I really loved making the roses - so the next cosy I make is going to have loads of roses on it I think! I am still pretty hopeless at knitting but the process was very therapeutic.

Here's the view from the top. I want a cup of tea just looking at it!

I also made another one, for myself this time, for a cute green teapot I already had. This is another of Alice's gorgeous patterns. It was so very quick to make! I absolutely love it.

I love that the knob on the teapot lid pops through so nicely!

The shape of my teapot meant the cosy could fit over it perfectly without needing a button fastening. I also decided to leave the handle and spout openings plain on this cosy (without the scalloped edge) as the edges looked so nice in their stripey gorgeousness.

Something about these colours reminds me of lollies (sweets to you lovely UK folk!). My small folk helped choose the colour combo - which meant we had an awful lot of balls of wool on the floor while their decision making process took place - very cute!

I'm not sure if it's because the weather has changed and it's getting pretty cold here, but we've been motivated to make the house feel a bit cosier recently. So the first part of the house to see some changes is the dining area. The chairs that were around my table were driving us nuts as they were really big and heavy. So I've been on the look out at my local op shops and I have had some recent success. I really wanted to have a collection of lovely old mis-matched chairs and that is exactly what I have got! I found the chair above for only $10 and another very similar one for a steal at only $5. Both were in pretty rough condition, covered in paint splatters and stains. The picture above doesn't quite show how bad they looked in reality. So a few hours spent with some steel wool and furniture oil and the wood has come up beautifully. I love bringing old wooden furniture back to life with a bit of TLC - it's so very rewarding. The seats were a bit beyond salvation in the cleaning department, so I bought some fabulous bright cotton fabric and had a go at covering both of them.

For my first attempt I am absolutely thrilled with the result! I am a bit obsessed with the orange/red/pink combinations at the moment aren't I? The fabric has a lovely texture to it and the colours make me cheerful.

Turning the table around so that it is up against the window has made a huge difference. There is something about sitting next to a window on a rainy day, while you're cosy inside that I absolutely love. I am sitting there right now and I'm pretty sure this is now my favourite spot in the house. I think my creative juices will flow better when I'm perched here! I didn't get a pic of it, but on the other side of the table is the most fantastic bench seat that my great grandfather made. It was in my bedroom as a child but has been in storage recently until I realised it fit perfectly under my table. It's so wonderful to be putting it to good use again. The top is hinged so it has a heap of storage too - what a very clever great grandad!

And speaking of being cosy inside .... I think this is someone elses favourite spot in the house. This is my other wee girl, Bella. She is very, very spoilt and has such a lovely cushy life! It was so bitterly cold here yesterday that she didn't even drag herself away from the fire to sit on my knee when I got my hooks out! Mind you, I could have sat beside the fire all day too given half the chance ...

Have a fab week.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Crochet - New and Old!

Do you remember these little squares? I had these on an old post and was all set to make a fairly plain cushion out of them. I spent ages joining them together and then I just stopped. I really didn't like the way they looked so they went into the 'wait for another day' pile. So this week, I dug them out and undid all the joinings. I've now edged them in black and will re-join them to make another cushion. I've never used black along with my colours before and I have to say I love it! So now I'm on the hunt for a lovely black merino jersey that I can use to back the cushion. Fingers crossed I find one soon because I'm bursting to get this cushion completed!

Lovely little piles of grannies.

I had to buy these this week ... discovered at my local op shop for 50 cents each. Both issues are from 1974 and are in pristine condition. The fashions are hilarious and I had a really good giggle flicking through the pages. Amongst all the retro fashions are actually some lovely patterns for motifs and afghan squares which I'd love to try. In the mosaic below there is a really sweet pattern that has been used for a potholder. I thought it would make a fab cushion. The red flower motif is great too - a retro version of the Japanese Flower?

I laughed myself silly when I saw this pattern though ...

I feel sorry for any poor child in the 70's who was forced to wear this outfit! Not only were they made to wear knitted flares, but they had to wear them in bright orange! Too funny.

Here are a few shots of other pics in the magazines. As much as I adore crochet, I don't think I'll be in a hurry to whip up a full length granny square skirt!!

1. Patchwork wraparound skirt 2. Flower motif 3. String shopping bag

4. How to 'flick' your fringe perfectly 5. Granny square full length skirt!

6. 'Jewel' blanket 7. Potholder 8. Cushions 9. Mustard coloured mat

Another little bargain - again only 50 cents each - these lovely vintage Vogue patterns. I would love, love, love to make the dress on the right. I truly adore this era. Boy it takes a lot of fabric though, and my sewing skills are probably not up to it!

I promised the lovely Pixie that I would show a close up shot of the gorgeous antique crochet rug I saw at the Museum of City and Sea recently. It has a few holes here and there but it has stood the test of time pretty well really!

Here's the wee blurb that went with the exhibition display.

It was the last day of term today so for the next two weeks I will have both little people home. I must admit, I'm quite looking forward to not having to get up and make lunchboxes every morning. We have the Easter break right in the middle of the holidays too which will be nice. Lots of good family time together. However I think my opportunities to whip out my crochet hook will be few and far between. I might have to set my alarm for early in the morning so I can get up and do some while it's quiet!

Have a lovely week.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Happy Birthday Dad!

I have been so nervous about making the birthday cake for my Dad's 70th party. Dad was a cricketer most of his life so I knew in my head exactly what I wanted it to look like. But because I'd never used fondant before, I didn't have a clue what to do. By chance I spotted a TV show during the week that showed you how to ice a cake with fondant. Phew - it gave me a bit of confidence. It was a bit of a long winded exercise but I'm so very pleased with the result, especially for a first timer. And my Dad absolutely loved it which made it all worthwhile!! 'Fondant Dad' has been sitting in a container, in bits for two weeks trying to dry a wee bit so it would be strong enough to stand up. It is very weird seeing him in pieces. I had to improvise when it came to shaping things so his cricket cap is being moulded over the back of a measuring spoon and his gloves are over some drinking straws. Miss 3 and Mr 6 kept asking if they could see Poppy - they thought it was hilarious that the little model was in bits, tucked away in a container!!

I have never posted pics of my family but this photo means so much to me. There is something pretty special about dads and daughters.

Just putting the finishing touches on once we got to the venue. I don't think it's something I'll find myself saying again in a hurry ... but I had just told my son, "I'll be with you in a sec hon, I'm just sticking Poppy's head on"!!!

So what does a very cool 70 year old get himself for his birthday? Well my cool Dad got this amazing Maori design tattoo! Each Koru* (the spirals) represents a member of our family - Dad, Mum, me and my brother. I think it's absolutely beautiful. Dad said my jaw almost hit the ground when he showed me - I was so surprised!!

* The Koru has several meanings but in this instance it is associated with nurturing so when interlocked with others, it is frequently used to represent the strength and purity of a loving relationship within a family.

Have a fab week!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Crochet and some vintage loveliness

The books I treated myself to for my birthday earlier in the year have been used a lot this week! I have been making lots of little leaves and flowers for another tea cosy I am working on. This one is for a friend and I can't wait to get it finished! I absolutely love having a little pile of flowers slowly growing each evening when I get a chance to crochet. I've always admired the crochet roses I've seen on other blogs but I've never tried to make them before. By my second attempt I thought they were starting to look like they should!! I'm going to make a few more tonight and then get cracking stitching them onto the cosy.

My scarf is coming along nicely. All the squares are finished now but I still can't decide how to join them. I've had a few practice runs at it but nothing has appealed. So I think I will just sit it to one side while I stew a bit longer! Today's temperature is quite inspiring that's for sure - I could do with a cute woolly scarf right about now!!!

Mr 6 asked if I could please make him a hat "like the skateboarders wear Mum". I made this one last night and surprised him this morning. He loves it because it has a bit of a camouflage feel about it. It seems so strange to make a hat that doesn't have a big old flower plonked on the front though!

I spotted this gorgeous wee booklet as I was walking out of an op shop earlier this week. It was only 50 cents and is full of beautiful vintage crochet work. I love that the booklet itself was printed in 1967 so it's even more vintage than me!!!

And on the subject of vintage ... I visited the Museum of City and Sea yesterday with Miss 3, here in Wellington. It was so amazing, I can't wait to go back and see all the things I'm sure I missed first time around. I spotted this piece on the wall and couldn't wait to get up close to have a good look. It is a knee rug that is approximately 80-100 years old from memory. It was cobbled together with all sorts of different yarn and was quite remarkable to look at. It had been framed so beautifully and then framed again by a packing box making it look quite stunning. It has really made me stop and think how lucky I am that I can make things because I like them, whereas the maker of this knee rug made it for function.

Seeing that artwork reminded me of something, so when I got home I had to get these pretty gloves out of storage. I have had these for years and years, I think they belonged to my great grandmother, but up until now I hadn't really appreciated them. Now that I am doing crochet, I can totally understand the work that has gone in to making them. They are tiny! I thought I had little hands but there is no way I can get my hand in them. Very dainty and lovely to have tucked away as a part of my history.

Hope you're all having a lovely week!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Where did the week go?

Wow this week has gone too quickly! I can't believe it's April already. The little granny squares are piling up and I should hopefully have enough made in the next few days to be able to start joining them into a scarf. I have lots of little scribbles in my notebook trying to work out how I want to join these ones. I want something different! I'm thinking maybe some sort of criss-cross stitch up the middle seam? Mmm, not sure. Do you like my old 'knitting' bag? I found this on Trade Me for an absolute bargain price and it is sooooo perfect for taking my crochet with me when I am out. I adore these vintage bags so much, I was a bit naughty and bought a blue one too. One for crochet, one for knitting. The knitting bag doesn't get used nearly as much as the crochet bag but in saying that, I have just knitted another tea cosy. It's not quite finished yet, but should be done very soon so pictures to follow. I still have too many projects on the go but I think I'd rather have it that way, than have no projects at all! Yesterday was a bit of a kitchen-y day. Lots of baking for the weekend, some homemade bread rising slowly on the bench ready to eat with dinner and some very eager tummies. Before I had a chance to grab a quick pic of this sponge cake, a pretty decent sized slice disappeared! I should be flattered that they couldn't wait. I was also having a go at making fondant decorations. I've never ever used fondant before, but it is my dear Dad's 70th birthday party next weekend and I am making his birthday cake. I am so anxious about it, I am actually waking during the night thinking about how to stabilise the decorations for the journey to the party!! Fingers crossed it will all go smoothly. I will have pictures in next week's post.

Mmmm, delicious milk and white chocolate cookies - a family fave from the Edmonds Cookbook - a kiwi classic. I make these so often that I don't need to look at the recipe anymore!

And speaking of chocolate ... my children made me laugh this week when I showed them my new bracelet. They thought it was made of white chocolate! Too cute.

While browsing around one of my local op shops recently I stumbled across this dress that turned out to be hand crocheted. I don't think it's necessarily something I would wear (even though it fits like a glove) but I was drawn to it for the workmanship in its creation. The washing instructions on it are hilarious, I should have taken a pic of the label. It is almost bossy in its tone on how careful you have to be in looking after it. I can imagine the words coming directly from the mouth of the poor person/people who made the dress! I'm sure I'd be bossy too after all those hours whipping up roses and leaves! The weight of it is incredible, the thread is really heavy. I just couldn't leave it in the shop.

It's the last day of Daylight Saving here in New Zealand. I always get a little grumpy when our clocks go back an hour and the evenings are darker too soon. Especially after the gorgeous summery day we have had today. The four of us went for a walk along the waterfront just down the road from our house. We took bikes, scooters and lots of bread for the ducks. It was fabulous. I have been wanting to stop and get some pics of these lovely boatsheds which I drive by nearly every day - and today was a perfect opportunity to do it. They are quirky, colourful and very individual and I love them. I keep thinking how lovely it would be to own one and be able to sit in the sunshine, right on top of the water and crochet the afternoon away .....

Have a fabulous week!