Surprise Hamper

 

 

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Well, I’ve managed to successfully move without losing any of my hooks, books, or yarn. Those are the important things, right?

I promised a good post this week, and it looks quite mysterious. I wonder what’s in the box…

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Why, it’s a load of presents for a friend and soon-to-be mother! I started off meaning to make a cardigan and maybe a blanket, and it all got a bit out of hand. First off, the cardigan and hat which are a King Cole pattern I bought way back at the beginning of spring when I first heard the news. It’s got a simple bodice and then a pretty shell pattern skirt which is repeated on the hat trim. I made it in acrylic for ease of washing, and chose a light grey colour because the blue/pink divide is tedious. My friends wanted a woodland theme for the baby’s room and little rabbits would fit in nicely. I therefore looked all over for nice buttons for the cardigan and eventually found some on eBay. They are printed with Peter Rabbit, and  there was even a second larger one I could use to trim the hat. Happy days!

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While I was making up that set, Miss Neriss posted pictures of an adorable rabbit squishy she’d made and I had to look it up. It’d go perfectly with my intended theme! It’s by A Morning Cup of Jo, and the link is on Miss Neriss’s page. Also in the photo are some bits designed by Kat Goldin, of Crochet Camp fame. In fact, you may remember the hand warmers

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The crown is from Kat’s book Crochet at Play which is currently available in UK terms, but will be out soon in US terms as well as translations in Dutch, German and Finnish. If I sound like I’m trying to sell it to you, well, I am! It’s got some amazing and creative things in it, and I only wish more of my friends would get on with having children so I have an excuse to make them all! One of the best things is probably the mermaid tail snuggy. Anything which helps keep babies where you put them is good, but with this they can be adorable little kings and queens of the ocean too. My friend really loves it.

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The point at which I knew this present was getting out of hand was when I was helping my Mum find knitting patterns to go with it. Despite not actually having met my friends, she contributed some clothes for the box as shown below. The little rabbits on the jumper are particularly cute, as she used a soft fluffy yarn for them.

Has anyone else ever got carried away with crocheting (or knitting) for their friends?

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Left Hands and Fancy Wine

 

 

 

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I said a while ago that I was learning to crochet left handed to teach a friend.  Whether you are a left handed learner or helping to teach one I thought I’d offer some tips based on my experience. It went ok after I got my head round doing everything backwards, to the extent that I broke my brain and tried to set up to do a different project left handed. Of course, I don’t really expect many other right handers to also take up this challenge!

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I found the guest post on Crochet Camp to be a really good starting point. After reading it through and paying attention to what my hands did when crocheting ‘normally’ I was able to produce a small sample piece of the basic stitches. The foundation chain is quite long, because I did it right handed and was a bit over ambitious on how many dc/sc I could be bothered to make. Since it was recognisably crochet, I celebrated!

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My friend wanted to learn how to make granny squares, so that was my next aim. Demonstrating by working through the process with someone is a good way of teaching, but I wanted to practice making the pattern first. Then I would (hopefully) not make any mistakes. Thus, my first left handed granny square. Text included so you can tell I’m not just cheating and flipping a normal photo!

I also looked up videos on Youtube for extra support. This one I found to correspond most with the patterns I have, although it does seem to be in UK terms.

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Now for something non-crochet – shocking, I know.  For Christmas we received a particularly fancy wine stopper shaped like a top hat. It’s excellent, but the bottles did seem to be missing a certain something. Something a bit more formal than their usual wear. Something black tie.

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Making the little sleeve was quick and easy. I used a sheet of paper to work out the shape needed to wrap round the bottle neck, then cut it out of white felt. A row of beads was added, along with a bow tie made from a bit of ribbon. Then I used the template again with some black felt to make the tuxedo and attached it over the top. Super sophisticated wine now ready to go.

If you want your own top hat stopper, you can buy them here or try Amazon etc.

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Sadly there won’t be anything next weekend as I’m moving house. Normal service should resume on the 7th September with a particularly exciting post.

Cottoning On

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Now that Camp’s over I have to think of what to make all on my own, but luckily that’s not been too difficult. If you ordered the crochet camp kit, you may now find yourself with a load of left-over cotton yarn and no idea what to do with it. That was definitely the situation I found myself in, so I thought I’d find useful ways to use it up.

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Useful, hmm…  Well, some of the things which get most use are in the bathroom and cotton is great for that as it’s easily washable. The simplest option is to make a flannel or washcloth. These can be flat or bag shaped, and I made both. Personally I prefer the bag-shaped ones after discovering them in France. Apparently I can’t buy them elsewhere, so realising I can make my own was a fantastic revelation! There are loads of patterns out there with all kinds of fancy stitches, but I kept it fairly simple at first. The flat cloth is a basic solid granny square with each row in different colours, and it looks quite jolly. There are plenty of patterns out there using fancier stitches if you’re feeling more adventurous.

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The first wash mitt I did in dc/sc. I didn’t follow any particular pattern, just built it in a spiral working out of both sides of the foundation chain. The second is made up of rounds in a fancy stitch called Mama Mia Star Stitch, which I found online. It took a bit of getting used to because once it got wet the stitches opened up. If you prefer a denser fabric, it’s best to stick to dc/sc or htr/hdc. Although I did them mostly in solid colours it would be easy to make them in stripes instead.

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I also made a few cotton pads for cosmetics. Having a reusable version of something so common seems like a good way to save on money and help the environment. The first few were plain dc/sc, but then I thought I’d try puff stitches. I can’t deny that those ones look much more inviting. Of course, they’ll need to go into a laundry bag to be washed or they’ll simply disappear into the machine. If you don’t already have one lying around you can crochet it instead! This pattern calls for crochet thread, but you could split the individual strands from the aran cotton instead.

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Of course, you might use shower scrubbies, and there are patterns for them too. Personally I think I prefer the flatter one, but both look pretty cool.

(C) Bridgit E. Burns (C) Tracie Barrett

 

Finally, a bit silly and fun:

(C) Carey Huffman

 

Crochet Camp week four

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Oh no, it can’t be over already! Crochet Camp has really flown past. It’s been great fun meeting new people and looking at their projects. The best part has definitely been watching the learners develop and gain confidence. Since the Facebook group is remaining open the little community can continue to support each other and encourage each other’s yarn addictions…

This week the pattern was for some cute hand warmers in a puff stitch. In the kit, we were provided with some absolutely delicious alpaca to make them. It’s so soft! I’m going to have to get more, I can tell. On the other hand, it did come in a skein. I’ve worked with them before when doing the tweed set, and I have to confess I’m a little naughty. You’re supposed to wind the skein into balls before you start working but, well, I’m quite lazy. I’ve found a cheat method that works, and I’m sticking with it until I can invest in a ball winder and swift! After all, it’s not as though pillows are hard to come by…

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Lovely though the alpaca is, its hairiness  combined with the new-to-me technique of puff stitches to make the first glove a bit of a nightmare. I despaired of getting them done in time, at one point. This led to my deciding to take a break, and then of course I got distracted. You see, the pattern is available in more than just adult size.

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As it turns out, the baby size is just perfect for using up those small balls you get free with magazines sometimes. The acrylic is much easier to work with and of course to wash because babies do seem to make an awful lot of mess. The tiny hand warmers are perfect for keeping them warm but still free to grab things, though you may not see this as a good thing!

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Having got hang of the puff stitches, the second adult glove worked up pretty quickly. I do love them – a simple but effective pattern in a gorgeous yarn. Everyone should own a pair!

PS. There’s a new conference for creative bloggers being set up in London next year, and it looks like it’ll be worth a look. Head over and have a skeet.

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Crochet Camp week Three

 

 

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This week has somehow gone past without my noticing. Somehow all the time has disappeared and I don’t have very much crochet to show for it. It’s a tragedy!

The camp project this week was a flower clip or brooch. My tension is definitely a bit off so don’t look at it too closely, and the less said about the pin attachment the better…. I think I’ll try the pattern again with a different yarn. The cotton has a mind of its own sometimes, and likes to show off all the errors.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the nicest things about living here: dolphins just offshore, hunting for fish where the river flows into the bay. Wonderful to watch, and they come very close to the beach too. Of course, they’re very tricksy to photograph!

Crochet Camp week two

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This week in Crochet Camp we were focussing on granny squares. There were also posts with links to different types, such as hexagons and triangles. I’ve decided I need to make something in African flowers at some point, and have my eye on another hexagon pattern with certain ambitious intentions. I’ll let you know how that one works out… I have to admit that I hadn’t actually done a single granny square before camp. I had every intention of doing so, but kept getting sidetracked. However, armed with Kat’s basic pattern, I got to work.

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I decided to do a trial square before embarking on making some bunting. Once I got into the rhythm of it, it worked up quickly. This method is definitely the best way to make squares. Working in rows back and forth is very slow and very dull.

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For the bunting, I wanted to do rounds of different colours. I decided to make it so there would be two of each colour combination, with twelve total. Having made two coloured rounds, I finished them off with a final white round. I don’t think we were expected to do that, as I ran out and had to order more in!

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Before I could join them all together, I decided to block the squares. It was an experiment, as I’d read about blocking online but didn’t remember all the details. You had to wet them, then pin them to dry…Right? Not having anything else, I used a folded towel as the base and pinned them with brass pins. All the photos I’ve seen have used the bobble-headed pins and it makes me twitch. Those are usually made from cheap steel and so could rust and stick to or stain the work. Of course, you’re not meant to make the crochet too wet, or leave it too long, but still… As a lacemaker I had a load of brass pins easily to hand, but I suppose not everyone will!

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The experiment seemed to work out, despite my hazy memory. Stringing them together was easy. Double/single crochet across the tops of the squares, with chain between them. I was unsure what to do with it once completed, but the bunting has now found a home on our banisters.

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Next week we’re making a crochet flower as a clip or pin. Sadly, the weather’s turning so there might not be any more pictures from the beach.