Friday, 16 January 2015

Hi...and a blanket

Thanks for your warm welcome back to blogland, I really appreciate all the comments and new visitors to my page, all thanks to the generous Vanessa over at Coco Rose Diaries, undoubtedly one of my favourite blogs. One of things I'm really enjoying this week is having my comment form back! I couldn't manage my comments with the Etsy template- so do bear that in mind if you're thinking of buying a pre-made template. I've been spending a lot of time on Pinterest lately, really gathering inspiration for the year ahead, and also connecting with hundreds of you over on Instagram. One thing I have been rather lazy about during my break from blogging has been properly visiting favourite blogs, however. It's so nice to connect with people like this! And I'm so grateful that you visit me and comment here, too. I've been using Bloglovin' lately, a great app version on my phone, in fact. It's good for reading blogs and discovering new ones, but you can only 'like' rather than comment. Do many of you use Bloglovin'? I really must gather all my blogs on there and add them to my sidebar list here. Also, I am loving my mustard background. I just love mustard, LOVE IT.

So anyway. Yesterday I gave this FINISHED OBJECT (yes! I know!) away to some friends who just had a baby...

Hi, baby Elliott. Welcome to the world. 

His mama and papa asked me to make this ages ago, inspired by a picture my friend had seen on Pinterest (where else?), so I duly ordered the yarn then completely avoided making it for about two months. Mainly due to deadlines, but also black yarn avoidance. 

Working with black yarn is a lot easier if it's chunky (like this), and in daylight. If you're thinking of embarking on a black project, make sure you're choosing a yarn that doesn't split easily, and perhaps invest in a hook that lights up! 

I kind of made the Hi baby blanket pattern up as I went along. 

BUT. I used chunky yarn and a 6mm hook. 
6 x 100g balls of black
2 x 100g balls of white
Foundation chain was worked until about 105cm long. Work in htr for about 16 rows. 
Then on row 17, 20htr in black, then change to white for 15 sts, change to black for 11sts, then back to white until you get to the last 20 sts, which are worked in black again. Turn. 
Row 18 is worked in reverse, then repeat the rows until you've worked 15 rows in total for your 'i'. Then switch back to black for 15 rows, then construct your 'h'. You basically work as for the i, matching the crown of the h with the long stroke of the i. it's all worked by eye really! the top of the h matches the top of the dot of the i, so it's nice and neat, and the posts of the h are the same width as the i. Then 16 more rows of black! It was 88cm in width for the edge- just 2 rows of simple dc around the edge to finish it off nicely. 

It's cot-size, as you can see here, modelled in George's cot bed, so in the end worked out about 90 x 107cm- an ideal lap blanket! Relatively quick and simple, too. 

See you soon hooky amigos

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

New year, New blog

Oh, hi. Is anyone there? I decided to have a spontaneous re-design today! Do you like it? I am IN LOVE. I was neglecting my blog. It had become a tired space, no room for growth or improvement. Just drab photos of sporadic makes. It wasn't a place that inspired me anymore, just an obligation that had no worth to me. I've not felt like picking up my hook for myself, and left several knitting projects abandoned. Unfinished books, dusty sewing machine and a busy life built around a growing school boy and difficult toddler have all left me and my blog in the doldrums. 

I once read that comparison is the thief of joy. Ain't that the truth! I don't need my blog to look Scandinavian- because I'm not. And I don't need it to have detailed tutorials and glossy, styled images. All I need is a personal space, cultivated to my tastes and loves; a place that I can escape from real life. Therefore I need somewhere tidy, clean and colourful, reflecting my loves, passions and memories. So I made it happen. I deleted the expensive Etsy-bought template; beautiful though it was it didn't feel like 'me'. 

And on this sunshine-filled winter morning I gathered my very bestest craft supplies: Liberty 'Betsy' tana lawn in my favourite-ever (discontinued) colour way, my very favourite knitting needles (bamboo, 4mm), this stunning Rowan Alpaca yarn (what shall I knit with it? I need it near my face, or my hands, it's the softest thing I've ever known), the best-ever mustard yarn (Rowan Handknit Cotton, FYI), this beautiful blue silk thread on a wooden spool- a relic from my grandparent's sewing box- and a couple of jaunty coloured hooks. I tend to use these plastic hooks for decoration, really I prefer the Clover Amour crochet hooks. I also added my favourite vintage brooch- I'd like to write a little about my favourite outfits too. 

All of this inspired me. Lately, crocheting for work and making things for others has turned me off. It's hard when you also have been recently diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome to get motivated! However, it only takes a look around Pinterest, a flick through some favourite magazines (see right) and a pile of books to get me on the right and proper hooky path. I'm finishing off a 'Hook a Stitch' feature for Simply Crochet at the moment, and a huge baby blanket for a friend that I put off for ages...the headache of working with black yarn was too much for me to contemplate! Then I have a list of things to make- including two of Kat Goldin's designs. 

I also have some knitting projects I want to try- a few hats (perhaps for next winter), perhaps a cardigan or two, and some socks of course. My sewing is improving a lot, I'll share a couple of recent makes soon I hope. I want to make dresses, dresses and lots more DRESSES! And blouses, I have recently discovered love of blouses. With pretty handmade skirts and clogs, what can go wrong? I hope this will inspire some style posts, too. 

I have recently got a new camera phone so I hope when the winter light gives way to Spring I'll take some better photos! And perhaps even finish off so projects that have been lying abandoned in my box for so long- remember that Wes Anderson-inspired blanket? Well that's half complete. And I'm having major second-sleeve syndrome with my Quince & Co. Annabel cardigan. I will finish it! So there we are, my creative intentions for 2015. And as you as my witnesses, I know I'll be motivated enough to finish them!

Thanks for staying me with me all these years. I think it's my fourth bloggiversary! See you soon for more stitchy chit chat. 

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

How to Crochet a Bobble Hat

Now, this is no means a definitive guide, but this is simply MY way of crocheting bobble beanies for my boys. (I cannot resist alliteration, sorry about that.) Lots of people have asked me how to make hats, and last year I published this pattern for ear flap bobble hats. I found that when I returned to it again this year, my sizing was WILDLY off kilter- I mean, HOW big do I think my kids' heads are, exactly? Either that or I actually wrote the wrong stitch on that pattern. My bad, I'm sorry if your toddler hats are enormous and actually fit your granddad instead. Of course, tension, hook and yarn has something to do with it, but if you want that pattern to work I'd suggest switching to htr.

 I wanted to give you a guide to creating your own crochet beanie hat pattern, with some helpful hints and ideas from me. This is all written in UK crochet terminology, with the bobble hat pattern in DK yarn. I'm assuming some crocheting ability, but this should help boost your skills if you're a total beginner. 

AAANNNNNND bobble hat make great gifts, yes? Certainly this time of year, anyway...

Crocheting flat circles
I begin my bobble hat pattern with a flat circle. I think, for hats, it's important to keep drafts out, so to avoid a hole in the epicentre of the hat, I begin with a magic ring. Like so:

 that's blurry, sorry. 

Here's a lovely video, made by lovely person I accidentally met on a train to London one day. She just so happened to be a knitting journalist. What a job! I'm so jealous. Actually she had left and was training to be a midwife but knitting THE most beautiful shawl when we met. 

To make an even, round circle, it's essential to have the right amount of stitches. I always start with 12 in round 1. You can use double crochet (dc)/single crochet, half trebles (htr)/half doubles, or treble crochet (tr)/double crochet. You could even vary the stitch each round for an interesting effect. 

If you're not happy making a magic/adjustable circle/loop/ring, then chain 3, join with a ss and work your first 12 stitches into the ring. 

Join your first round with a slip stitch (ss) to the first stitch in the round. We'll be working in rounds, dontcha know. 

Sizing your Hat
You can be very precise, if you wish, and measure the recipient's head for the circumference of their noggin. Then you need to work out the diameter- just divide the circumference by Pi (3.14 roughly) and you get diameter TADAH! Otherwise just wing it. Phew, that's better. Yes, winging it is the crocheter's friend. 

You'll need to work a certain amount of increase rounds to get a decent enough sized disc (diameter-sized!) that will be shaped into a hat. For each round, you'll need to increase by 12 stitches to get an even, neat circle. 

So here's a quick recipe/ hat pattern:-

To begin: With yarn A 4 ch, sl st to form a ring, or make a magic circle/loop/adjustable ring

Round 1: 3 ch (counts as 1 tr), 11 tr into ring. Join with sl st to 3 ch. [12 sts]

Round 2: 2 ch (counts a 1 tr), 1tr into first st , (2 tr into next st) 12 times, join with sl st into 2 ch. [24 sts]

Round 3: 2 ch (counts as 1 tr), 1 tr into first st, (1 tr into next st, 2 tr into next) 12 times. 1 tr into last st, join with sl st into 2 ch. [36 sts]

Round 4: 2 ch (counts as 1 tr), 1 tr into first st, (1 tr into each of the next 2 sts, 2 tr into next) 12 times, 1 tr into each of the last 2 sts, join with sl st into 2 ch. [48 sts]

Round 5: 2 ch (counts as 1 tr), 1 tr into first st, (1 tr into each of the next 3 sts, 2 tr into next) 12 times. 1 tr into each of the last 3 sts, join with sl st into 2 ch. [60 sts]

Round 6: 2 ch (counts as 1 tr), 1 tr into first st, (1 tr into each of the next 4 sts, 2 tr into next) 12 times, 1 tr into each of the last 4 sts, join with sl st into 2 ch. [72 sts]

And continue like that! I would say that 5 increase rounds is plenty for a newborn baby hat, 6 for a baby, 7 for a toddler and 8 for a child of around 4-8. Of course you can keep on increasing for an adult hat! 10 increase rounds would be about the right size, so round ten would look something like this:

Round 10: 2ch (counts as 1 tr), 1 tr into first st, (1 tr into each of the next 8 sts, 2tr into next) 12 times, 1 tr into each of the last 8 sts, join with ss to ch-2. [120 sts]

Shaping your Hat:

After this, you simply work as many rounds without increasing as you wish, in order to achieve the bowl-shape for your hat. I would say 8-10 rounds like the following will give you a cosy hat:

ch2 (counts as tr), 1tr into each st around, join with ss into ch-2. 

But repeat this round until you're happy with the length. 

To change colour at the end of the row, simply work the first part of your stitch in the old colour:

Then drop the old yarn, and prepare your new yarn. Complete the stitch in your new colour. This will make sure you have a neat join with no weird colour blocks where they shouldn't be:

Finishing your Hat

Ribbed cuff: 
A cosy ribbed cuff ensures a tight fit and looks marvellous. Here's an easy (cheat's) way to achieve it in crochet. First count the stitches in your hat. Turn the hat upside down and count the 'V's; if you have counted correctly, you should have stitches= 12 x (amount of increase rounds). Yes? Make a note of this. Good. Then let's proceed. 

ch 16, Beginning in 2nd chain from your hook, dc (sc) into each ch to end, turn. 

Round 2: ch1, 1dc into back loops ONLY (blo) of each st along. Turn. 

Repeat row 2 until you have as many rows as stitches in your hat round. Hurrah! Clever, eh? Now join the cuff by placing wrong sides together and slip stitch the cuff to hat, matching each row end of the cuff with a stitch of the bottom of the hat. Sew up the little cuff seam, and turn up!

If you want to make ear flaps, check out the tutorial on my ear flap hat pattern. 

Adding a bobble (pom pom) will increase your hat pleasure considerably, as Albie demonstrates here:

And George, well he refuses to wear his hat. End of. This is best I could do. Please don't judge my parenting on his dummy, if you knew the noise that kid makes you would pacify him too. (he is teething canines and it's the only thing that makes him happy). 

I have used Stylecraft DK Special (acrylic yarn) for these hats, and used a 3.5mm hook. 

Albie's hat is in the following colours:

George's Hat is in:

So there you have it. A simple, adaptable DK yarn crochet hat in treble crochet. 

Merry makings!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Cosy crochet slipper tutorial

I've been wanting to crochet a pair of slippers for absolutely YONKS. I tried and failed at making the beautiful slippers in my Japanese crochet book, and didn't fancy making thick, chunky boots. Just something simple to slip over bare feet or tights, in economical DK yarn. 

I spotted the ever-so-lovely Paula (@polly_pet) on Instagram had made her own pair inspired by some she had seen on Pinterest, and she kindly advised me on how she made hers. I just couldn't get them to work like that, either. Either too long, or too tight, or too wide. My feet are quite wide, you see. So after an evening or two of trial and error I finally came up with a workable design, and here it is. Hook them up to your heart's content! They'll make lovely (sorry) Christmas presents! 

They're ladies sizes, and crocheted in DK yarn so ideal if you have stash that needs using up. 

The pattern is worked in rounds until the piece measures the ideal length until you hit your ankle. I've written the pattern in three sizes- SMALL (size 36/37), MEDIUM (size 38/39) and LARGE (size 40/41). Size medium and large are in the brackets. If you need to adjust the length, just add extra rows or stop as you get to your ankle, basically. The the remaining piece is worked back and forth.

All terms are UK, if you're in the US please note this is all worked in hdc and sc :) 

You will need:

  • 100g DK Yarn (I used 2 x 50g balls of Drops Karisma bought at a bargain price from the shop where I teach), plus extra contrasting yarn for pom poms
  • 4mm hook
  • 2 stitch markers (free gift with issue 24 of Simply Crochet! more on that later...)
  • Some spare time (lucky you!)
  • A good film (I recommend I Capture the Castle, which is what I watched while I hooked these up)

To begin, Ch4, join with ss into ring.
  1. Ch2 (counts as htr), 11htr into ring, join with as into ch-2. [12 sts]
  2. Ch2 (counts as htr), 2htr into each st around, 1htr into last st. Join with ss into ch-2. [24 sts]
  3. Ch2 (counts as htr), *2htr into next st, 1htr into next, repeat from * to last st, 2htr into last st, join with ss into ch-2. [36 sts]
  4. Ch2 (counts as htr), 1htr into each st around, join with ss to ch-2. [36 sts]
  5. Repeat round 4 17 (19, 21 times more). Fasten off.                                                

Positioning the joining seam so that it sits at the sole of the slipper, place two stitch markers 7 sts apart at the top of the work, to indicate the 9 st space for the foot opening. Rejoin the yarn in the st next to the marker,

  1. Ch 2 (does not count as htr), 1htr into  same st as ch-2, work 1htr into each of the next 26 sts. Turn.
  2. Repeat as above 9 times. 
Assembly: With right sides facing place ends of slipper together and slip stitch to join together. Fasten off.

To finish: 
Rejoin yarn at seam and dc around edge, working 1dc into each row end and 1dc into each front st. Fasten off.

Make up 2 x 30mm Pom Poms in whichever manner your prefer (I use the clever Clover Pom Pom makers- so quick!) and attach. Weave in any remaining ends. Pop on feet and enjoy. 
Apologies for the rubbish pictures, I thought I ought to quickly snap what I was doing but the light was poor and my lens is still scratched. 

But I sure do love these slippers! And so will you. Happy feet all around. 


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Hooked on Simply Crochet!

I've been banging on for ages about being involved with Simply Crochet magazine. It's really exciting for me, as I'm delighted to be one of their regular designers! I think the mag is so fresh and fun, and although crochet tennis shorts aren't up everyone's street, I'm really honoured to share the pages of a magazine with some of my crochet heroes. Kat Goldin, Lara Messer and of course Lucy of Attic 24 are all regular contributors too. As well as affirmation for me as a designer and crochet lover, I'm really excited to be able to share my designs with such a big audience of crocheters. And working to different briefs often challenges me to go outside my usual comfort zone!

Here are some of my designs in the current issue 23...more from me in issue 24 out on Thursday! So get gettum while you can...

A nifty, quick ear warmer in my favouritest of favourite colours...

And a lovely geometric design including (you guessed it) MORE MUSTARD hurrahhhh! 

I absolutely LOVE the styling of this cushion, I would like to have it on an Ercol Windsor chair in my front room but I have neither the cushion nor the Ercol Windsor. Ha! 
I will share more from issue 24 next week. 

In the meantime, happy hooking!