Saturday, 9 January 2016

FO: Conservatory Rose Cushion


Find this project on Ravelry: Conservatory Rose Cushion

Anyone who knows me knows that I love Christmas, so to say that I'm pleased it's over is a rare occurrence, but that's how I feel today: I'm pleased it's over so I can gush about how much I love this pattern.

I was inspired this year to make a gift for my mother-in-law. She has had a new conservatory added to her house this year, and last time we visited I had a wonderful tour of the garden it overlooks, full of juicy tomatoes and flourishing roses. Sitting on the sofa gives you the most beautiful view of roses in bloom.

So I knew that sofa needed a rosey cushion.

I went looking on trusty Ravelry for the perfect pattern, and found Apple Blossom Dreams' Granny Rose Pillow. The roses were wonderfully three-dimensional, the second round looked just like leaves, and squares would give me plenty of options to customise it to fit whatever size cushion pad I had on hand. Perfect!

The roses had to be yellow to match the conservatory, and of course the leaves had to be green. I went for a crisp, elegant white border, so that the cushion could go elsewhere in the house if she preferred.

For the back of the cushion, rather than make more roses that wouldn't see the light of day, I did one big, solid granny square. But shockingly, neither the front nor the back are what I love most about this cushion.

Nope.

I love the zip.

I followed the most fantastic zip tutorial for this one, and I can't recommend it enough. It gives the neatest looking zip I have ever seen, and it's so easy to do.

The page is in Swedish, but Google translates it well, and the pictures are pretty self-explanatory. Check it out!




Look how lovely and neat that is!

Saturday, 2 January 2016

PATTERN: V-Stitch Mitts



Find this pattern on Ravelry: V-Stitch Mitts

I've been wanting to make a pair of mitts for some time now, but I couldn't find something I really loved. So I decided that despite having never done mitts before, I'd go ahead and make up my own pattern.

I'd seen a lot of v-stitch blankets lately and loved the look and simplicity of it, so decided that would be my main design element. I wanted a traditional cabled cuff. I also had a lot of leftover aran weight yarn in multiple colours, so had a decent stash to choose from. A brand new skein of white, bought for another project but not needed and big enough to do at least mitts and a matching cowl, sealed the deal.

I love them so much. I just finished them this morning and I haven't taken them off yet. I'm still wearing them right now, as I'm sitting here typing this out, and thinking about making a pair in a wonderful purple heather with five soft grey stripes.

Pattern

To make a pair just like mine, you will need about 135 yards of aran / worsted weight yarn, a 5mm hook, and a 4.5mm hook. I used Cascade 220 in white and (from top to bottom) Tibetan rose, aqua, goldenrod, groseille, and highland green.

Stitches / abbreviations:

ch - chain
sc - single crochet
hdc - half double crochet
fphdc - front post half double crochet
bphdc - back post half double crochet
dc2tog - double crochet 2 together, leaving 1 stitch of the previous round between the first and second leg of the stitch

Start with white yarn.

Use the 5mm hook for row 1, then switch to the 4.5mm for the remainder of the pattern.

Row 1: ch 30 and join with a slip stitch
Row 2: hdc around (30)
Row 3: [fphdc, bphdc] x 15 (30)
Rows 4-6: as row 3
Join with a slip stitch, break yarn, and weave in ends. Change to highland green.

Row 7: [dc2tog, ch1] around. (The first leg of each dc2tog should go into the same stitch as the second leg of the previous dc2tog.) Join with a slip stitch. Change to white.
Row 8: As row 7. Change to groseille.
Row 9: As row 7. Change to white.
Row 10: As row 7. Change to goldenrod.
Row 11: As row 7. Change to white.
Row 12: As row 7. Change to aqua.
Row 13: As row 7, but when you get to the last dc2tog, ch3 and join with a slip stitch instead. Change to white.
Row 14: As row 7. When working over the ch3 from the previous row (the thumb hole), you should have 2 dc2tog stitches in this space. Change to Tibetan rose.
Row 15: As row 7. Change to white.
Row 16: As row 7.
Row 17: sc around.

Optional thumb hole:

Using white, sc around the opening. You want 12-15 stitches, depending on your thumb size and how tight you like this area to be. Do this for 4 rounds, or until you are happy with the length of the thumb section.


Saturday, 7 November 2015

FO: Anna's Mandala



Find this project on Ravelry: Anna's Mandala

I absolutely love mandalas. They're so quick to work up, fantastic for using up scraps, and the possibilities are endless. Personally I'm a fan of doing them in cotton - it gives great stitch definition. I love using them around the house as big coasters for jugs and vases of flowers.

One of my favourite mandala patterns is from the ever creative Lucy over at attic24. I first made it in Stylecraft Classique Cotton - my favourite cotton yarn so far, it's so wonderfully soft and smooth - and the bright, colourful result lives under a white jug of flowers on my hallway console table. Of course that jug needs a wash every now and again, and while I'm washing it, the mandala sits unrestrained. Anyone could walk along and, if it took their fancy, help themselves to it.

Which is just what Anna does. She grabs it, investigates it, and leaves it in a different, makes-sense-only-to-a-toddler place every time.

So I thought it was time she had her own. Sadly Classique Cotton doesn't come in the right shades for Anna's room, so I tried a new yarn - Drops Muskat. It's a little shinier than the Stylecraft, but it's equally lovely to work with.

The finished article sits under her table lamp in her bedroom. The whole room is starting to come together with all these FOs in there! Perhaps she needs a rug?

Monday, 19 October 2015

Yarn Rave: Rowan Alpaca Colour

A while ago now, I was in a town I don't often go to for a bra fitting. (Slight tangent: If you wear a bra and haven't had a fitting, I can't recommend it enough. Life. Changing.) Parking in this area is a nightmare - I wonder why I hardly ever go there? - so I left plenty of time and arrived early. Wandering around the shops, I found a homewares shop that looked interesting and went in. What did I spy out of the corner of my eye but a very decently sized yarn section! Over I ran to investigate, and soon I spotted a few things I'd never seen before that I decided to bring home and find something to do with.

One of these yarns was Rowan Alpaca Colour. I normally don't go for alpaca because of the smell when it's wet, but I was running my hand over skeins and this one was the softest thing I've ever touched. I can't adequately describe how luxurious this yarn feels. And the colours! They're really lovely, lots of jewel tones and a beautiful grey. All my favourites. I had such a hard time deciding which colour to get - in the end I went for Agate, a beautiful blue colour, simply because they only had 4 skeins of it left and that seemed like enough to do something with without breaking the bank.



I'm having a really hard time deciding what to do with it now. It's so soft, I think I should do something for my hands so I can feel it. I've got a short list of patterns that might work and I keep checking Ravelry for new ones - hopefully I'll make a decision with time to make them before the really cold weather gets here. I'd better get a move on, it's getting rainy!


Thursday, 8 October 2015

FO: Anna's Round Cushion



Find this project on Ravelry: Anna's Round Cushion

I love this cushion so much. It's not because I made it for my daughter and she carries it around with her. It's not because the button in the middle is so cute. It's not because the back has all the colours of her room that didn't get used on the front.

No. I love this cushion because of maths.

Stick with me; it'll make sense soon, I promise!

Maths is the glorious thing that allows a circular pattern to increase and get bigger and still be circular. There's a neatness to it, and a formula; you can work out what the next round should be based on the previous rounds. It's so neat and elegant.

This project in particular works beautifully well because it's an amalgamation of two patterns, both worked in the round with the same maths behind them, and a little extra from me to bring it all together.

The first pattern in this project is The NeverEnding Wildflower from Little Monkeys Crochet. Its mathematical beauty became apparent after the first couple of rounds and made me so happy as I worked on it. I won't go into detail here because it's not my pattern, but it is fantastic and it is free, so do go have a look.

The other is a Granny Mandala from Crochet with Raymond. Originally I'd intended to put a huge wildflower on one side and the granny work on the back, but when I started making the granny side, I realised that the stitch count was going to work beautifully with the wildflower.  I couldn't resist adding some granny as a "border" to the wildflower too, just because the maths lined up so neatly.

Here's what I did. I started off my making the wildflower, for 6 rounds - 1 in green, the next 5 in raspberry. Then I paused and made the granny back because the granny was easier to do while chatting at my knitting group.

Here's what the back of the wildflower looks like after the first 6 rounds.

Since I just did a row of petals into the base for round 6 in the front loops only, the back loops are exposed there waiting for the base of round 7.

But I didn't do that.

Instead, I did round 7 of the granny mandala pattern, putting one cluster into every third stitch. This works out perfectly - there's exactly the right number of stitches. It's just as if you'd done round 7 into round 6 of the granny.

With me?


After that, it's easy - I just did rounds 8-12 of the granny exactly as I'd done on the back, as per the pattern.

Once both sides were done, they looked like this:


Ooh. Getting close!

The cushion pad I had on hand had a bit of depth to it - instead of being two circles joined and stuffed, it looked like a slice of a cylinder. So I needed to over this area neatly. I also needed to add a zip.

This is an excellent time to mention that despite being British, I learnt to crochet with US instructions, so I use US terms. So to me, granny is clusters of 3dc, not 3tr.

I eyeballed the cushion and decided it was about as deep as 2 rows of double crochet. Perfect! I went around each side doing 1 row of double crochet, 1 stitch in the back loops only of each stitch in round 12. There's no technical need to go in BLO, but I like the way it gives you a little "border".

Next up: the zip. I used a 36cm zip from Hobbycraft, which goes about 1/3 of the way around the circumference of the cushion and leaves plenty of room to get the cushion in. I pinned this into place on both sides, then put a stitch marker through the stitches at the base of the zip, so I'd know where to start sewing.



Next I kept a close eye on those pins as I turned it inside out. I hand-sewed the two sides together (with a length of the cream yarn that was about 3 times the circumference of the cushion) going through the front and back loops of the last round of stitches with a quick whip stitch. When I came to the zip part, I did a running stitch up and down each side.

I prefer to work with the zip closed and then poke my fingers through to unzip it after. I find it gives me a much more even zip. That's not always possible, if your stitch pattern is very dense. Another tip: I'd avoid using the T-pins next time. The heads caught on one of the petals of my wildflower and split the yarn a little. I've massaged it back into place, but it could've done more damage if I didn't notice it quickly.

Finally, I worked in the last few ends, took out all the pins and stitch markers, and turned it right side out to put the cushion pad in.

Voila!


Two beautiful patterns happily playing together thanks to maths. I can't wait to do something like this again!


Sunday, 27 September 2015

FO: Granny Heart



Find this project on Ravelry: Granny Heart

This was such a beautiful and quick ornament to hook up! I love it and want to make more of them. If only someone would give me a reason to! I think they'd be fantastic in cotton as coasters, or lots strung up as bunting, or two sewn together to be a tiny lavender sachet, or made in extra bulky they'd be a lovely big cushion.

I made this one for my daughter's bedroom, mostly because I knew I had a little time before she woke up from her nap but not enough to get started on a bigger project.

The big bag of brand new yarn for her room's projects was sitting right there and I was itching to get something done. This fit the bill nicely.

The pattern is Granny Sweet Heart by Nancy L Drew. The colours are so, so pretty - I was almost sad to be limited with a colour scheme! I added a short chain to the back to act as a hanger. It's now sitting happily on my daughter's wardrobe door, bringing a bit of life to a plain white piece of furniture.

Oh, I'll definitely be making more of these.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

FO: Anna's Wreath


Find this project on Ravelry: Anna's Wreath

Here we are - my first finished object! I'm so pleased with this one. I've wanted to make a wreath ever since I saw them on Lucy's fantastic blog over at attic24, but it took me a while to settle on which idea to do first. (I have at least 8 distinct ideas for Christmas wreaths!) Then I saw this beautiful method for covering the wreath in Crochet Gifts magazine and oh, that border sold me. My first wreath would be a pretty, flowery, girlie one for my daughter's bedroom door.

Covering the wreath was easy enough, and I realised once I'd done it that it would be a really easy method to adapt and add any border you like. The hardest bit is keeping track of all the stitches. I have to admit that I gave up on that quite quickly, but as it turned out, I did the right multiple by accident. Happy coincidence!

The border was simple to add and I think it gives it a beautiful edge. I can't wait to make another and try out something different! I did deviate from the pattern just a little bit here - instead of securing and cutting the yarn when I was done, I chained a few extra stitches and secured them in a loop so I had a built-in hanger.

Once the base and border were done, I had a beautiful blank canvas just waiting to be adorned.

I knew I wanted the wreath to be floral, so I started off by flicking through my new copy of Crochet Bouquet, making whichever flowers looked pretty in Anna's bedroom colours. I made a few leaves from the book, too, before heading over to Ravelry to search out more patterns.


In the end I had a small pile of flora and fauna, as well as a tiny bumble bee!

I had originally thought about adding a butterfly but I couldn't quite get the colours to work, so I allowed some yellow and black to sneak into the colour scheme so that this little guy could add some whimsy to the wreath. I think without him the wreath would look a bit formal, which is lovely, but not what I'm going for here. It is for a toddler's room, after all!


It took a little while to arrange everything, and at this stage I was really thankful that I had a polystyrene wreath under there - it made it really easy to pin things down and move them around until I was happy with it.


I really love all of the flowers - it was so much fun making them. I'm already thinking of more ways to use them - garlands, curtain tie-backs, embellishments for blankets and cushions, brooches, hair ties... watch this space, I'm sure some of them will come to fruition.

Once I had the layout done, I had to decide whether to leave them pinned, or sew them down. I elected to leave them pinned - the wreath is currently out of her reach and the pins are in there really firmly, so I don't foresee any problems. I also really liked how the pretty pearl heads looked in the flowers. It's just a shame I couldn't get them all perfectly centered, but the middles didn't give much support as they're almost all worked in the round.

That's it - all done! Just one job left - putting it up.



Doesn't it look darling? I love how inviting her room looks now!