A place for everything

Aside from crochet, I also like to pass the time cross stitching.  And, with a family of four, there is always something or other that needs mending.  As a result, I have a lot of needles of varying sizes and for varying purposes.  I also drop and lose a lot of needles because I don’t really have an appropriate way of storing them.  Thankfully, most of my dropped ones are my yarn needles, and they are large and easy to see and also not sharp if you happen to find one with your foot!

So, I decided to crochet a little needle case.  I found this cute little pattern on moogly (https://www.mooglyblog.com/nifty-needle-case/).  I had also seen a lovely striped needle case, so I decided to adapt the pattern a little to make this one stripey. I used the required #4 weight yarn (10ply to my Australian friends!) and the recommended crochet hook size.  As you can see from the photo is has turned out quite big (although these are small needles) and it is quite stiff.  I think that in hindsight, I would have made it using #3 weight (8 ply) yarn just to take the scale of it down and also give it a bit more give and movement.

Despite all of that, it is a lovely little needle case and it certainly does what it was intended for – holds needles.  And now, my needles have a place to live that keeps them safe, contained and not lost!

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For a special teacher

My youngest daughter had the most amazing teacher last year!  She really seemed to get her and everything about being at school improved. So at the end of the year when it came time to buy her a gift, I didn’t want to just go out and buy her something.  I wanted something special and meaningful to really thank her for the time and effort she put in to my girl during the year.  But what to make.  That is always the question.  It’s hard to find something that someone will actually use and also to judge if they are someone who would appreciate a hand made gift or not.  This teacher was going off on an adventure during the holidays to Finland, where I knew it would be cold and snowing!  So I decided to make her a cowl.  I looked for a pattern I liked and found this one by Little Monkeys Crochet (http://littlemonkeyscrochet.com/herringbone-buttoned-cowl/).  I liked the tailored look of it and that it wasn’t too bulky.  It also had a bit of a design element with the buttons.

So I started to make it.  It was a great pattern in that she had finished measurements on it so it didn’t matter that my tension was a little different – I just kept crocheting until it reached the correct measurement.  This way, I knew that the button placement would be correct (doing it up is a little complicated until you get used to it so I couldn’t really just eyeball where to put the buttons)

I was fortunate enough at the time to be face painting in a Christmas market.  I had another lady working with me and during a break, I found a lady selling these beautiful printed wooden buttons at a crazy low price (more than just these slipped in to my cart!).  I love the little pop of colour that they bring without being too showy and overpowering.

The overall finished product is beautiful.  I used “Marvel soft” yarn, so it has a lovely drape and sheen to it.  It will also be lovely and warm as there aren’t a lot of holes in it but it’s still thin, so won’t be too bulky up around the face.

The teacher loved it and was especially chuffed when she realised that I had made it for her.  I hope it kept her warm during her special adventures!

A “Cool” little fellow

It is hot here at the moment. Record breaking hot. You don’t even want to go to your letterbox hot! So, I thought I’d share my little Arctic penguin in the hopes cool thoughts cool me down!

At the last minute, we decided to invite one of my daughter’s friends to celebrate Christmas with our family.  Her family don’t celebrate Christmas like us, and the girls were keen to spend the day together.  So this also meant last minute gifting!  She doesn’t have a lot of teddies and said that one thing she would like is another teddy.  I googled a little and found this cute penguin kawaii by 3amgracedesigns (https://3amgracedesigns.com/penguin-kawaii-cuddler-free-crochet-pattern/).  My daughter approved the gift and I started crocheting madly to get it finished in time for Christmas day.  I have to admit, I quite like 3amgracedesigns – they have so many patterns for different kawaii cuddlers, from sharks to unicorns to food to rainbows – anything you can imagine!  And they’re so cute!

I have previously made a fox kawaii cuddler (see the post here https://thingsnicolemade.wordpress.com/2017/07/30/foxy-ragdoll/).  I like this method of construction of toys as there is only 2 dimensional shaping involved when crocheting, instead of creating a 3 dimensional product.  The patterns are simple and easy to follow.  They can be a little fiddly in that you have to make a number of parts (in the case of the penguin, the feet, cheeks and wings) but they sew together easily and quickly and are such an effective looking product once completed.

I did run a little short on time, so this penguin is missing the decorative stitching on his hat, but I think he still looks fine without it.  However, he was wrapped and under the Christmas tree in time to be opened by his new owner!  And the girls had a wonderful time celebrating together!

Christmas bauble earrings

Last year, I cleverly left all of my Christmas present crocheting to the last minute.  Well, not really, I just didn’t have the ideas for them until the last minute, which meant I was making everything in a hurry!

Once a month, I meet with a group of other like minded people for our crochet group.  I really enjoy these meetings.  I know none of these people outside of crochet and we rarely meet outside this group (as most of the others live a LONG way from me!).  We connect regularly thorough Facebook and these ladies have become wonderful friends over the last couple of years.

At the end of the year, we have a special Christmas celebration meeting and enjoy a High Tea at the cafe we meet in.  Due to the added cost of this, we haven’t done Secret Santa gifts or anything like that.

One night when browsing different crochet sites, I came across a lady who had made dangly crochet earrings and put them on these little crochet baubles (like in the picture above).  I LOVED the idea and knew that out of all of my friends, my crochet ladies would appreciate these the most.  The only problem was, my meeting was not too many days away!

I looked for and found a number of dangly earring patterns.  I tried a few, but they all ended up rather large and didn’t seem to suit what I had seen these ladies wearing.  With my deadline looming ever closer, I decided to just make these little round earrings – an adjustable ring with (I think) 12 single crochet in them.  Quick, easy and effective!  I made up the little baubles and off I went to celebrate Christmas with my friends!

The ladies were surprised as we weren’t doing gifts but they were delighted by them and I hope they get good use out of them.  Something unique and a little bit different!

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again

celticweave2Last week, I challenged you to finish up something that has had you stuck for awhile.  This got me to thinking.  I have many unfinished projects, but most of them have been put down just because I’m bored with them or wanting to start something else.  But there is one project that has had me baffled for a couple of years.  I feel that I am a very experienced crocheter now, so I hate it when I can’t master a crochet technique.  It really irks me.  That is why I had put down this project.  To explain my predicament, I need to start at the beginning.

We don’t have a great variety of yarn here.  I get a little bit envious seeing all the different yarns that are available in America.  Every now and then, one of them hits our shores.  The Caron cakes are one of those.  We had been seeing these balls of colour changing yarn for awhile before Lincraft brought out their own brand of them.  I bought one because I was dying to try this new yarn (I probably shouldn’t say that that ball is still intact in my yarn cupboard!).  Not long afterwards, Caron cakes came to Spotlight.  Being the good fibre artist that I am, I had to buy one of those as well to compare the two.  In my opinion, I much prefer the Caron cake.  It is soft and plush whereas the Lincraft brand is a little stiffer and pricklier.

But what to make from these balls?  I have three of them in three completely different colours.  I googled what I could make from them and came up with a few different options.  I ended up choosing the Lucky Celtic Infinity Scarf by Left in Knots (https://www.leftinknots.com/home/2017/2/24/lucky-celtic-infinity-scarf) partly because it wasn’t a shawl and partly because it was made in one of the colours I have, so I could really see how the finished product would look.  I also loved the fact that the author is left handed, so I knew the pattern would suit my own left handed crocheting!

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So I began.  The first few rows are just hdc, so that was easy.  Then you go on to the “Celtic weave” part.  In theory, it is just triple crochet, so nothing too difficult, you just need to place them in the right way to get the criss crossing effect.  No problem.  I’m an experienced crocheter, this will be easy for me to handle.  First row, done, fantastic.  Next row, yup, looks right.  Third row – nope, something’s gone wrong.  Frog the row, start again.  Nope, still wrong, frog again.  Start again, nope, still wrong – where am I going wrong?  On the pattern website there is a video tutorial for how to do this stitch.  I hate watching videos on the internet.  I much rather just read a written pattern.  But the written pattern just wasn’t working for me, so I knew the only alternative was to watch the video.  At the time, it wasn’t practical, so the project got shelved until I had the time to watch.

That day just never came.  Last year when we went away I decided to take this project again – who knows, maybe just by having had a year or more experience wise might be enough to just pick it up and get it.  Sadly, this was not the case.  I did the next row and frogged it again several times and finally decided I would have to watch the video.  Unfortunately the internet where we were staying was not strong enough to watch the video so the project came home again and went back in the drawer.

Forward to this week.  I made up my mind that this project was no longer going to defeat me.  I watched the video.  It didn’t help me!  So, I just went with how I thought it should work and how it looked in the picture and I finished it (and I think it looks right!).  I love how it has turned out and I’m looking forward to wearing it when it isn’t a furnace here anymore!  The bright, rainbow colours will be sure to brighten up a dreary Winter Day.  It has curled up a lot in the making, but with a good blocking, it has flattened back out and will be awesome to wear!

So now I feel good.  Not only have I finished a WIP that has been sitting for a couple of years, but I have finished one that had me completely stumped!  That’s a win for January!

New Beginnings

Some of my yarn stash!

As I sit here, it is the beginning of a new year.  The last 6 months have been an uphill struggle for me personally, and a lot of people around me and I wonder what this year will hold.  Sitting before me is a year full of days that have not yet been written, days of sunshine and fun and rain and tears but each one a new day to make my mark on.

I also wonder what this year will hold crochet-wise for me.  Of course, there are the uncountable projects that I have begun and not yet finished.  Which of those will draw my attention back and be completed this year?  Which ones that have been thrown in the naughty corner because I just can’t master a step will I be brave enough to push myself to learn to complete?  Which of the balls of yarn in my stash will be used up (and what new ones will be added!)?  So many things to make, so little time.

Of course, I have a few things on my radar to make.  I’m still wanting to make a pair of socks for myself from some lovely yarn I found on our Melbourne trip in 2016.  I’m going to tackle the Marguerite blanket from Mobuisgirl Design (https://mobiusgirldesign.com/2018/10/25/margueritemotif/) as she tells us how to turn this motif into a blanket.  I’m going to finish another jumper for my husband.  Finally, I’m going to participate in a stitch-a-long by Desert Blossom Crafts (http://desertblossomcrafts.com/2018/12/20/desert-blossom-stitch-along-48-free-crochet-stitches/?fbclid=IwAR1HcIFUPIfsM6iuJAjGUrKnffdzMz9HlYsxAiOru_tFjj4sRlcVUsCutso) and learn a new stitch or two, as you can never stop learning!

And then there are the countless fabulous projects that will pop up in my Facebook feed that I just HAVE to make!  With this age of digital technology, there is never a lack of interesting new things to try.

So what are you going to challenge yourself to do this year?  Are you going to finish something that has been waiting a long time?  Or learn that new skill to complete another project?  I look forward to seeing what you accomplish (please share on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thingsnicolemade/) as I share with you what I accomplish!  Happy New Year!

Unfinished objects!
Unfinished objects!

The great sock experiment part 2

Life has been so busy this year!  The weeks just fly by and before I have a chance to blink, we’re on to the next one.  So I apologise for being so slack in my posts.  I have a new job this year and it is very on and off and last minute and it’s taking some adjustment!  However, in amongst the busyness of life, I am still creating and things are ticking away in the background.

I have continued with my sock experiments.  With my first pair of socks, it was hard to judge the length of the foot for adding the toe, so I have ended up with one sock that is a tiny bit short (I’m sure it will stretch once I start wearing them – it’s been warm here and socks and flip flops are generally not a look I go for!).  So, I decided that my next pair of socks would be toe up and knitted two at a time.  I’ve taken both of my girls to the yarn store and they have chosen the yarn for their socks and have been told not to hold their breath for a quick finish!

I started with my older daughter’s socks.  To make toe up, I needed to learn a new technique – Judy’s magic cast on http://knitty.com/ISSUEspring06/FEATmagiccaston.html.  To be honest, I’m on my third sock doing this technique and I still don’t quite get it right unless I have the instructions close by, but I am getting there.  I followed the instructions for two at a time socks but I just couldn’t get it to work – my tension was off and it was going to leave big holes in the toes.  So, I decided to take it easy on myself and just do one at a time.  That seems to have worked well, although I wasn’t able to avoid all of the counting of rows to have them the same, which was my aim.  However, I have produced a lovely pair of socks that my daughter can’t wait to wear (she’s been told I have to photograph them before she can wear them!).

The yarn was another learning experience.  I’m using Jawoll Mille “Luxe Sparkle” sock yarn.  It doesn’t have a repeat of colours – anywhere!  So, despite the fact that the socks come from the same ball of yarn, they are completely different!  The colours are similar but they by no means match (for those that are conscious of wearing matching socks!).  I like it, it’s quirky!  And, I have lived for a long time with a man who refuses to wear matching socks!  Yup, if he pulls matching socks out of the drawer, one goes back so he has an odd pair!

Toe up socks definitely worked well for getting the length of the foot part of the sock right, but it still hasn’t solved my problem of knowing how much I can knit of the leg before I need to switch to the cuff so I run out of yarn at the end of the sock and not before.  If you have any clues on how to do this, please share!  But for the moment my experiment continues.  I’m now on my other daughter’s socks and she has decided she wants ones without heels at all, so another knitting experience is being added to my life!

The Tooth Fairy

With young children in our home, we have had many visits from the tooth fairy! She comes in and spreads her sparkle and cheer after the trauma of a tooth coming out (I really think the tooth fairy should bring a treat to the parents too!). Anyway, I’m planning on trying to sell some products again at a market and have had this pattern for a little tooth fairy pillow stashed away for awhile (http://www.mooglyblog.com/crochet-tooth-pillow/). I really love the patterns found on Moogly. I have yet to find one that is too hard and they are often cute, quirky little things!

The market is going to be for parents with children and I thought that this product might be popular with a tooth losing crowd! I made a few up and love it! They’re easy to make, very colourful and customisable and quick! I’m looking forward to taking them and seeing if they sell or not! If they don’t, I know two little girls who will be claiming them!

Peacock Bag

peacockcalcloseup

As I’m sure you are aware by now, I love to challenge myself with my crochet and knit projects.  I like to always be learning new things, trying different things and pushing myself to try harder things so I can grow and learn as a fibre artist.  A while ago, I came across LillaBjorn’s Crochet.  She has explored the world of overlay crochet – a term that was then unfamiliar to me.  As you can see from the picture above, her designs have a lot of crochet that works back over what you have already done, creating a textured, 3d look with intricate detail.  I loved it and have tried a small square that she has designed but when I saw this CAL for a bag (http://www.lillabjorncrochet.com/2016/08/peacock-tail-bag-cal-general-information.html), I knew I was going to make it!  As I explained in a previous post the colours didn’t catch my eye, so I sat back and waited for awhile to see what colour combinations other people would come up with.  When I saw these colours, I was sold!

It is an intricate and tricky design to follow and quite fiddly as you basically have to finish off each row and start again at the beginning for the next one.  This, of course, means lots of ends to weave in.  But, as I’ve learned over time, I try and weave them in as I go and then it is not an insurmountable task when I am finished!  It was totally worth it though – I love the end result!  It’s colourful and clever and interesting to look at.

peacockcalback

I actually also went to the trouble of lining this bag.  The instructions for the CAL include this part of the project.  I’m not a huge sewer.  I can do it if I put my mind to it but I’m certainly no seamstress but I was so happy with how this turned out!  I even added a zip and it works!  The final part was getting a strap for it.  To be honest, we can buy handbag straps here, but they are very expensive and there is not a lot of choice in either style or colour.  So, I went to my friend the internet and ordered a red strap to pick up on one of the colours in the bag.  It was an anxious wait – as you know, colours can appear very different on screen to what they are in real life and red can be a tricky colour to match – it’s easy to get it a different shade and then it looks all wrong.  But this time, I got it right.  I was thrilled with the colour match when it arrived and it just finishes off the bag!  I love how this bag looks and writing this post has reminded me that I need to use it!  I think I spend all this time making things and then I don’t want to use them and get them dirty or ruined!  However, then what would I be making them for??

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