Easy Crochet Cowl

Monday, November 28, 2016

This project kind of took me by surprise. I went to Spotlight, even though I have some Paintbox cotton yarn in the post from Love Crochet. When will that arrive I wonder? I thought it would be here by now! Is it coming from England? So there I was in Spotlight, looking for something else, stickers I think, and fabric, and some Lion brand kitchen cotton, none of which I bought. In fact I only found some nice fabric at the end, once the boys had become truly shop crazed and we had to go. And this big soft chunky cotton acrylic stuff was looking at me, and it was so nice and squishy, and I was thinking of those big knitting needles I have now. Except then a project popped into my head, the Mr needs a cowl! He likes to sleep in them when it's chilly or if he is sick. So I grabbed three balls, having no idea if that was enough or too much or how to crochet a cowl.



Something I'd like to do is learn how to read a crochet pattern, but I suspect I'll need help. Maybe it's a lack of concentration so far, but they just seem like gobbledegook at the moment. I started googling for a pattern, and realised I didn't even know what most stitches look like or how to do them, so I took the first part "make 45 chain stitches" and decided I'd figure the rest out.

I made 45 chain stitches, then looked up how to do a double crochet stitch (UK) on Shelley Husband's Youtube channel, very handy for a crochet beginner like me. When it came time to do the second round of stitches I thought about the way you do chain stitches for the first part of a cluster when you are starting a new round on a granny square, and decided to go up two chain stitches. Something the more clever pants crocheters out there may notice is that I managed to increase stitches in my first few rounds. I also ran out of yarn a bit too early, I would have liked 12 rows and didn't quite make it. Below are the front and back shots when I'd completed 8 rows. Oh and I'm hooking only into the back of the stitch, so on one side of the fabric I get a definite line pattern. See? So much to learn. I decided I liked that so when I frogged the whole thing and started again, I kept doing it that way.


The second attempt I used only 40 stitches, but made them a little looser, my first attempt had a very stiff edge. I managed to not increase stitches this time, and got 12 rows out of the one ball. And so much quicker the second time. I didn't think I'd get this done before Christmas, and I made it twice in less than 24 hours. So darn happy with that!


Those pics show the 'join', even though it's not really a join, as it was continuous, from both sides of the fabric. MUCH neater the second time! The line definitely jigs up though doesn't it? Ends weaved in and it is nice and snug on Mr, and if I didn't mind things close around my neck pretty cosy on me too! I do have two balls left, so I'm thinking of upscaling it for me. Looser and wider. Or I could just make the Mr two more so he doesn't complain about not being able to find one? Maybe do one in all cotton for me?


And speaking of Christmas, I'm thoroughly over school lunch boxes. Only 3 weeks to go.



M's Blanket

Wednesday, November 23, 2016
After 18 months of love ( (c) Amanda Prior Photography) 

While I was at Amanda's House the other day photographing my Log Cabin Blanket she decided that she would also like to take a photo of the blanket I had knit and gifted to her on the birth of her son. As you can see he has grown a bit.

The blanket is made up of a series of square, some were from this pattern.

( (c) Amanda Prior Photography) 

Others were adapted dishcloths.

The yarn was luxury 10ply by Bendigo Woollen Mills which is probably one of my favourite yarns soft, squishy, reasonably priced and machine washable. Actually that last one is probably the most important when gifting an item for a baby and I remember having to prove to Amanda (by photographing the yarn tag) that it was ok to throw in the washing machine.

The blanket has held up well from 18 months of daily use, it is very well loved.



before 18 months of love

 (These last three photo were by me - did you guess?)

Sunshine Granny Blanket

Thursday, November 17, 2016

He's not the only one who is happy this blanket is finished! My next project will be a lot smaller that's for sure. This is the little brother to the Big Granny I completed earlier, early August if this blog is anything to go by. I'm pretty darn happy I managed to complete both blankets this year! I am VERY slow at crochet, and knitting, perhaps because I don't do enough, but I suspect also technique? After a few nights of trying to get this one finished my right arm and wrist were a bit sore.


This one didn't end up as big as the first one, the yellow yarn ran out quicker than I expected and I decided to let it go at that and not buy anymore yarn for it. When I reached the last ball of yellow - which was primarily reserved for pompoms - I finished it off. And please don't say 'you could have made white pompoms' or anything like that. You know me. I scaled the pompoms down a little too, and I think they came out just right for the size of the blanket and the size of the owner of the blanket!

I'm still in love with pompoms, I think they'll feature in an upcoming project again...

Log cabin blanket

Thursday, November 10, 2016
 
( (c) Amanda Prior Photography) 

I was recently rummaging around in my craft cupboard (this is a rather grand name for the reality of the cramped little space which houses all my crafty crap) when I found a stash of knitting blocks from a project I started in 2012.

I actually think that this project was the start of my fearless knitting phase. In case you don't know, most people start off as fearful knitters,  scared of new techniques and frequently proclaiming that certain things are beyond their skill set. Then, all in our time, we become fearless knitters; projects are chosen based on an unknown skill or because they employ new way of doing a previously learnt techniques. Armed with YouTube, or more experienced friends, we set off to conquer this knitting thing. Sometimes we are delighted and use a skill over and over again. Other times, we chalk it up to experience and decide it's not necessary to do that ever again (entrelac, I'm looking at you!).

This project was my introduction to picking up stitches. You only pick up a few at a time but you do it so frequently you can declare yourself a grand master after 3 blocks. 

Based on the classic log cabin quilt this project is really quite stunning and a great stash buster. 

So why did it get thrown into the craft cupboard and told not to come out until it was ready to apologize for its transgressions? Well, it wasn't the blankets fault, it was mine. 

 
( (c) Amanda Prior Photography) 

 I somehow misunderstood the pattern. You see that grey border around the edge? Well that is supposed to be another row of brightly coloured block. I had got excited and introduced the grey too soon. 

So, I put it away for its first rest. Then I had this idea that I would create a giant F out of the stuffed up squares and knit brightly coloured blocks as per the pattern. 
 

 (Crap photo by me no (c) needed)

Sadly, when I started up again I discovered that my gauge had changed or I was using different needles (you may remember in a previous blog I mentioned the importance of throwing the needles into timeout with the project; this is why.) 

So back into pergatory it went. 

And there is stayed until recently when I was procrastinating and avoiding some essential task, probably housework.  I laid them on the floor, realized they would look good as a baby blanket. At Michelle's insistence the black borders came off and then the sewing began. 

 


I got to this point and hoped I was done, another picture message to Michelle was responded to with a phone call telling me it needed a border (I already knew, I was just being lazy)

 
( (c) Amanda Prior Photography) 

And tada, here it is, ready for steam blocking and  gifting.


 

Regular readers may be surprised by the recent improvements in some of my photos...I didn't take them. My amazing friend Amanda Prior (you can find her on Instagram as Amandaprior or go to her website at www.amandaprior.com) took them for me. I'm very lucky to have such a talented, supportive, generous friend. 

 The professional at work! 

Inherited craft stash

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Mum visited recently, and in the way folks seem to do, Mum brought up bits and bobs to pass on to me. My grandparents passed away in the last few years so there are still a few things Mum has been waiting to bring up. I love having some bits and pieces to remember them by. My grandfather's plane, actually a fancy bit of kit, and appears in pretty good condition. Hopefully David and I will put it to use.


My grandma's newest sewing machine. I think she used this twice, and from then on would wait for me to visit and I would fix things using it for her.


The 'sewing kit', actually a fairly random collection of sewing and craft stuff! Bit exciting!




Hello big boys! One step closer to doing a big chunky knit, I'm thrilled to find these, and did you spot the slightly smaller pair in there too?




What even is this stuff? Sock darning yarn? And there was a little tool in the box, was that a sock darning tool? I haven't looked through the button jar yet, but I love an old jar of buttons.


Ooh I wondered where this had got to. I leant it to Mum ages ago. Nice stuff in this book.



A bag of sequins and tiny pins! This stuff was actually mine from when I was about 10 years old. I used to make these sequin covered Christmas baubles, using a styrofoam ball and those tiny little pins.



Last but definitely not least. I used this machine with my grandma. That little hole in the front of the timber base, top the right, is for a knee lever. No foot pedal! It's a large bent and formed pice of metal bar that comes out and bends down over the edge of the table, and you wobble your knee back and forth to make the machine go. But here's the bad news, I haven't found the power cable for it anywhere amongst this stuff. I'm a little devastated about that. Here is a shot showing the place you plug in the cord...


The whole machine is hinged to the base, I've flipped it up but no luck, no cord hidden in there. There is that last metal plate, to the right, I haven't unscrewed that yet, but as it is screwed down, probably it isn't cord storage, and probably shouldn't be messed with. So that's a real shame, if it worked I have an excellent reason to hang on to it, even though it weighs a tonne. As a non-working memento, well I hope I can hang on to it through the next move! I wonder if an electrician can sort this sort of thing out?

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