yarn

Rainbow Stripes

Greetings! Today I have the joy of sharing a completed project with you. It always feels like a victorious moment when I cut off that last, lingering yarn end and lay down the scissors. As a person terminally rubbish at finishing things it feels like I have fought a battle with my own inefficiency and won (usually resulting in me parading around the house with whatever i have finished being worn on my head).

However, on this occasion I merely laid the thing out on the floor and took some photos with something other than my phone (another tiny victory) and here one is for your delectation. SO STRIPY!

Blanket2

Yarn: Cascade ultra Pima in Paprika, Tangerine, Marigold, Blueberry, Chartreuse, Indigo Blue and Pansy

Stich: V-stitch, inspired by tutorial here

Hook: Aluminium, 4mm

Size:  35″ square, approx

Could this be any cheerier? I can’t wait to send it off to its new home.

In other news, I have turned 30, spent an unseemly amount of money on eye cream (no judging) and bought a new, indestructible pair of Doc Martens. It’s been an eventful few weeks.

Making Things for Babies

I am nowhere near understanding babies. I find them fascinating and terrifying in equal measure. How can I manage my torrent of mixed emotions while showing appreciation for a new little life? Oh wait…it’s crochet isn’t it. Lovely, soft, friendly crochet. That will compensate for any potential fear or alienation.

So, as a friendly first birthday present for a baby I hadn’t met before, I made an amigurumi Diplodocus, which turned out exceedingly cute, even though his legs were too short for his huge belly.

Diplodocus2

Yarn: Stylecraft Special DK in Lipstick (body) and Meadow (humps)

Hook: Clover Soft Touch Crochet Hook, 3mm (DK yarn + 3mm hook = ideal for amigurumi)

Pattern: From Dinosaur Trio by Linda Potts (Ravelry)

Diplodocus1

I knew the yarn would be a pleasure to work with, having made a number of other projects with it before now. The hook was a new acquisition as I had wanted to try something with a handle to see if it could save my wrists on crochet heavy days. I’m not entirely sure it made a huge difference, but the matte finish of the hook is nice to use and the handle is certainly comfortable in my hand.

Usually I look for free patterns online (or wing the design based on some images) but this time I thought I’d do things right and shell out for something really cute. In this PDF, Linda Potts shares three different designs, all of which are lovely. They are clear and easy to follow. My only minor criticism is the relative lack of assembly instructions. I see why they are minimal – presumably so you can give your creation a bit of character – but I generally struggle with getting limbs in the right places and could have done with some guidance in this area. Overall I recommend this pattern if you fancy making your own adorable Dino-babies. One year old or no, I will definitely be making the full set! The Triceratops is already on its way to completion. I’m just waiting for a new colour to make his little horns.

I have another baby project on the way too – it’s super stripy!

Crochet blanket update

Friends, I have not been prolific of late. It’s been one of those ‘have loads of ideas, achieve none of them’ kind of periods. There have been few evenings or free days and I have been spending even fewer with a craft project in my hands. Curse you Tomb Raider, you were too much fun…

Being busier than is perhaps pleasant meant that an easy, repetitive task was called for on the odd occasion when I did have a quiet moment. Enter this stripy blanket I started sometime before Christmas ( a mere 21 weeks ago – thanks Instagram). I found this tutorial on YouTube with a lovely Gillian Anderson impersonator talking about knitting vs. crochet:

The only change I have made to the pattern in along the edges of the rows, where instead of a ch3 I have worked a sc ch1, which i find gives a neater edge. Other than that, it is incredibly easy, quick and satisfying to make once you get into the swing. I have also found that it’s easy to compensate for a stitch lost here and there -you can add or subtract stitches in the next row without really compromising the look of the thing.

Blanketupdate3

The colours I’m using come from this yarn pack, selected by Lucy from the blog Attic 24. She is an aficionado of crochet blankets and seems to have churned out loads of really beautiful ones – well worth a look. She has a written tutorial for this blanket which I also referred to. I chose all the cool tones from the pack of 17 balls of DK acrylic, I know it’s a bit of an assault on the senses, but it brings me comfort.

Blanketupdate2

I think I’m only about half finished, so it will probably be next Christmas before I finally get to hunker down under this bad boy.

What are your long term works in progress?

Socks!

For some reason, crochet accessories are really floating my little boat at the moment (this must be a shock to you).  Casting around for the next thing to get my hook into, a few images of crochet socks caught my eye. As a step up from mitts or hats, socks appealed as they are a little more complicated and require careful measuring to make them fit an actual foot.

I started to look for some patterns (preferably free and online) and found this Redheart one. The stitches look lovely on this, and by having a go I also learned to do linked double crochets, which make an excellent reinforced sole. The heel on this pattern got the better of me, causing me to give up before the first sock was complete. The sock was not particularly stretchy either which made it difficult to pull on or off.

After a few more hours of sifting through/rejecting patterns on Ravelry, I bit the bullet and paid REAL MONEY for “Crochet Socks” by Janet Rehfeldt and Mary Jane Wood. This volume contains a number of patterns and a very useful introduction detailing the sock making process. I feel like working through this helped me to understand the fitting and construction of a sock more fully, although I couldn’t have known that for sure until I’d had a go myself.

The patterns in the book are hit and miss, there are a couple which seem very wearable whereas one or two seem a tad far out – individual toe socks I’m looking at you… but for the introduction and basic pattern alone, I am glad to have this book to refer to. I also enjoy having it in a digital format, which gives me an excuse to break up the binge-watching of pretty much anything on Netflix.

And so, using the most basic pattern in the book, I began with some bargain basement, self-striping sock yarn purchased from the “you didn’t know you needed it until now” aisle at Lidl. The perfect practice yarn, so it wouldn’t matter if the result was terribly unwearable.

Where the red heart pattern was a toe up design, this one was started from the cuff – I feel like on the whole it doesn’t matter which end you start from. The leg is easier as it is just an even tube, so maybe that gives one a sense of achievement before the heel is tackled (arguably the trickiest portion).

The majority of the socks are worked using an extended single crochet stitch, which adds a bit of stretch. The heel portion is thicker due to the use of a long split single crochet, which I couldn’t find a tutorial for. It’s basically a split single crochet, worked in the row below. I had problems keeping this consistent.

So these are the finished items, I can confirm that I have now worn and washed them and they still look great – they have kept their shape and are stretchy enough to put on and take off easily. I will be interested to see how they compare to my knitted socks and I can’t wait to make some different styles!

Have you made crochet socks? Do you wear them?

My Life in Hats

Since the age of approximately 14, I have had a passionate love affair with beanie hats. Its pretty cold in the north of england so I needed them in the winter – but I became so addicted that eventually I wore one during the summer too. Usually the same one. For months. Shudder.

Years later, I still love wearing them. they are so comfortable, they flatten/disguise my unruly hair, wearing a hat just makes me feel…safe. Stripes are good, acrylic washes well. My mum once ironed a nice pink one I had which stretched out to the size of a washing up dish. I’ve had a couple of fluffy wooly ones (one notably stolen from a friend with impeccable taste) an alpaca one (‘borrowed’ from Finn, now lost) and a bright red, goofy, cable knit one which was my most recent attachment. All fine, all readily available to purchase on the high street. Until now.

flat hat

Armed with a chunky yarn, the hue of which resembles the inside of an old sleeping bag and a confidence bolstered by the completion of many-a mitt, I used the same basic method to make a hat for myself. A silly, chunky, slouchy hat which would make me feel happy whenever I put it on. And it does!

I did a simple ribbed headband composed of front and back post double crochet stitches. A double crochet foundation row gives the band extra stretch (I love this technique – it’s the shit). Then I just used single crochet stitches followed by a chain 2. Easy peasy!

The decision then facing me was how to close the thing up. Previously I had seen the method where you fold the hat and stitch through the central point, giving a gathered, pointy finish. I sort of wanted mine to look less like an elf hat, and more like ears (+10 cute). So, I ended up cobbling it together like an envelope by reverse folding the edges on the inside and stitching through all the layers in a straight line. It REALLY isn’t perfect, but I find it charmingly flawed, like a puppy with one ear or a penguin.

Ok, so there is no way I could sell something like this, but this kind of one-off self adornment is why I started making stuff in the first place. You may not be surprised to learn that it has barely left my head since I wove in the last yarn end. It brings great joy!

Do you have an accessory you love more than most other things? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.