Easter time is here again!

This year is speeding past – so fast that I’m not quite keeping up! We’ve had several events in our house that require some forethought and planning and each one has caught me by surprise and required some fast planning and tail chasing. Easter has been no different. I have been a little more organised by buying the chocolate eggs early but there are growing numbers of friends and family that can’t/want to cut down on or should just not eat so much chocolate, so I’ve been thinking of alternatives for those gifts. Of course, my immediate thought is crochet. I googled Easter gifts but didn’t really come up with anything suitable (and useful) for adults. I finally settled on dish cloths.

I originally went with an Easter themed, knitted cloth (https://lifeofmommab.com/2014/07/28/easter-dishcloth-updated/) but it took awhile and I have a number to make, so I went searching for something else.

I found this pattern that I love (http://whiskersandwool.blogspot.com/2012/03/easter-egg-coaster-free-pattern.html) but it’s really for a coaster and didn’t turn out big enough for a dish cloth. I did expand on it and made it in to a square but, once again, it was going to take too long to make enough.

So, in the interest of stopping my messing around and actually getting these finished in time, I decided to go back to my old favourite, The Scalloped Dishcloth (https://www.yarnspirations.com/row-en/lily-sugarn-cream-scalloped-crochet-dishcloth–version-1/SCC0512-001758V.html). I have made a bunch in Lion brand Kitchen Cotton that I have been stock piling. They’re lovely and bright and cheerful!

To make them more “Easter egg” like, I’ve popped them in to some plastic eggs that I picked up at a local discount store.

I’m quite happy with the result and am hoping that on Easter morning, the recipients will like them too! Now, I’m off to finish the last one off so I’m all ready for next weekend!

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How to line a clutch purse

As you are probably aware, I like to try new things and keep improving my crochet skills. Brianna K from Brianna K Designs has developed the Infinity Crochet style (https://brianakdesigns.com/infinity-crochet/). I have been watching as this has been posted on line and different projects have been designed and uploaded. When the Aisling Infinity Clutch (https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/aisling-infinity-clutch) came up, I knew I had found a project I wanted to make.

So earlier this year, I decided it was time. I pulled some Scheepjes stonewash out of my stash and off I went. As for the pattern, that was easy. It was easy to understand and follow, especially considering that I hadn’t tried this style before. I wasn’t 100 per cent happy with how the “infinity cables” sat – one side seemed to sit evenly and look seamless and the other side was a bit bumpy, but I suspect that that is an issue that practise could fix.

Once finished, I blocked the piece to get it into shape. As you can see, the crochet part is quite simple – it’s just a rectangle, with the infinity cable at one end.

The pattern doesn’t call for the clutch to be lined, but I felt that it needed a lining to give it strength and just finish it off a bit.

My first task was to assemble the supplies I needed to finish the clutch off. These were fabric, tassels, leather pieces and magnetic clasps. I went to Spotlight to get the leather and fabric but went to eBay to get the tassels and clasps. As is usual with eBay, you take the risk of things not being what you expect. The tassels were not what I expected. They were way too small and didn’t come in the colours I was hoping for. When I went to Spotlight, I found some larger grey tassels, so I added them to my collection!

My first step was to put one half of the clasp on to the piece. This was covered up in the end by the lining. Next, I pinned the lining in place.

I decided to hand stitch the lining on and eventually settled on grey cotton. This obviously showed on the red lining but blended in well on the crochet side. I will admit, this took forever! It was a painstaking process. Next time, I think I might try using my sewing machine – I was just a bit nervous as to whether it would give a nice, neat finish or muck it up and I suspect it would be difficult to unpick (my skills lay in crochet, not sewing!).

The next part was to sew up the two sides – easy!

Next, I added the second half of the clasp and the little leather detail, which hides the fixings on the clasp.

Finally, I attached the small tassels to the big ones and sewed them on! It’s done!

I have to admit, I love this! It’s a great size and looks really cool (and I love crochet items that don’t look Nanna-ish!).

I would change a few things. I’d perhaps make the lining a bit smaller – it protrudes a little. I’m also not happy with the stitching on the leather detail – I did it by hand and it’s messy on the back, which is still visible on the inside but that’s a challenge to face on my next one!

Overall though, it’s a great pattern. A good size to be quick and easy to make up for those of us with shorter concentration spans!

I took this little number out to a party with me last night and LOVED it! It holds a surprising amount – certainly everything that I might need on a night out with 2 kids,such as my phone, bandaids, tissues, pen, lip gloss and more!

Adding to my organisation

I love watching social media and the crochet “fads” that come up there.  Last year, this “Crafter Granny” by Zhaya Designs (https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/crafter-granny) went around.  To begin with, I decided that I wasn’t going to get on the bandwagon with this one.  Not because I don’t like the deisgn – she is really cute, but just because I didn’t need another thing sitting on the table next to where I work that is already crowded with other crochet related paraphenalia!  However, the idea stayed in my head and I finally decided to give her a try.

She turned out really nicely.  The pattern was easy to follow and I like the colour choices I made.  She turned out a lot taller than I expected – possibly my tension, possibly because I don’t have any 5ply yarn to use, and I wanted to get this one out of my stash so I used 8 ply.  Whatever the case, she has been very handy.  She holds my large hooks that don’t fit in my case and pens – I use those a lot.  She also holds a variety of other little bits and bobs that I need close to hand and easy to get to but not sitting loosely on my desk.

I think for a crafting person, she is the perfect thing to hold the tools of my trade as she is made from my trade and perfectly suits it!

Little markers

If you aren’t in to writing down what you are working on to keep track of details, here is another way of keeping track of things I have come across that is very handy (by the way, I find myself reaching for my project book often to check what hook I have used on a particular project – it’s awesome!).  These are little stitch markers.  However, they don’t keep a track of what stitch you are on.  If you look closely, they are actually marked with a hook size.  These can be easily hooked on to a project and voila!, you know easily what sized hook you used for this project.

These little markers are super easy to make.  I am a craft hoarder, so I had some Shrinky Dink plastic lying around.  I simply found a picture of a ball of yarn I liked on the internet, and then, using a sharpie, I traced this ball of yarn onto the plastic.  I coloured each one in (trying to match the colours as closely as I could to the colour of the handles on my Clover Amour crochet hooks) and then punched a hole in the top. I cut them out and placed them in the oven as per the instructions on the packaging.

The lobster clasps and jump rings I purchased on ebay and, when they arrived, it was just a matter of fitting them all together and they are just about ready to go.  I have found through the fitting process that some of  the colour does rub off on to my fingers, so I do plan to put a coat of clear nail polish on the back of them just to seal that colour in so it doesn’t rub off on to my projects (which would be a disaster!).

They are a very cute little addition to my collection of crochet tools!

Learn from your mistakes

Last year, I started the Dutch Rose CAL (https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/dutch-rose).  I love the look of this blanket.  It combines the old fashioned look of granny squares in a new, more modern way and also incorporates the rose pattern.  I loved the colours that the designer, Rachele Carmona, used for her blanket, but, at the same time, I wanted this to be a stash buster for me (I need to bust my stash just a little!).  I managed to find equivalent colours in my stash for all but one colour, a dusky lavender.  I set out to find this colour, and found the perfect one in Spotlight.  Sadly, it was 100% wool, compared to acrylic for the rest but it was the only colour I could find like it.  “What’s the harm in combining the two fibres?”  I asked myself and started crocheting.

Once I had made all of the hexagon motifs, I whip stitched them together (a new technique to learn that I love the finished look of but it takes oh so long!) and decided to give it all a bit of a wash and block.  I’m so glad I did!  I am the mother of two small children.  I learned long ago that if it can’t go in the washing machine, it’s not worth having.  Of course, when I wash my crochet items, I use the wool cycle with the appropriate detergent and I have never had a problem until now.  When I pulled it out of the machine and laid it out, most of the squares looked beautiful, with great stitch definition etc.  But my poor lavender squares were somewhat felted!

I hoped that once they had dried, they would lose their fuzziness, but, alas that was not to be.  Sitting next to the beautifully defined ones, these looked awful (to me anyway!).

So, being the perfectionist I am, I decided that I wanted to pull these hexagons out and replace them.  It also meant pulling apart a bunch of the granny square hexagons as well to remove the offending rows.  I thought doing it now before it is all finished would be less painful than waiting to see if I could get away with it and finding out I couldn’t!  The granny squares have been redone, but I have yet to replace the offending rose hexagons.  I need a moment where I can sit down and look at what is there and what colours I should replace them with so it all still looks harmonious.

So, my lesson has been learned.  There are legitimate reasons for not mixing different fibres in the same project (of course unless there is a reason to want them to look different).  I learned it the hard way, but if I can help someone learn it the easy way by not having something go wrong in the first place then it has been worth my time.  I will continue to work on this blanket and hope to post a finished version later this year!

Becoming organised

 

As a person who begins a new project every other week, I have some trouble keeping all of my projects straight.  I might work on a project for a few weeks, then put it down.  But I can’t leave the hook in the project because I’m sure to take it out and use it on a different project before I pick the first one back up.  I’m also not good at keeping the yarn ball wrappers, so if I need more, I can also have difficulty remembering what yarn I am using.  Hence, when I finally do go back to the original project, it can be disheartening trying to figure out where I was up to and what hook I was using.  I also like to look back on what I have accomplished in a year.  The days fly by so fast that I forget I have made something and all my projects begin to blend together!

So this year, I decided to try to find a way to conquer that problem.  I know a lot of people use ravelry or other computer based trackers to keep a count of their work but I’m not that technologically minded.  Also, I don’t crochet near the computer, so I needed something that I could keep at hand and  pick up and put down easily.  I also love to write  – anything, so having a hand written book was important to me.

I chose this cool composition book that I found at a local department store.  It’s cover is stronger than an ordinary exercise book and I just liked the way it looked.  I have decided to start with a new page for each project, and I am recording:

  • What the pattern is called
  • The date (or month) the project was started
  • The date (or month) the project was completed
  • Hook sized used
  • Yarn used
  • Notes on things I may have changed etc.
  • The pattern source
  • The ball band for dye lot info etc.

So far, it is going well.  It’s filling up nicely, and has been useful when I have needed to check something I have done to a project I haven’t worked on in a while!  Much as I’m not the world’s most organised person, I do like to feel that I have things organised and under control!

I’d love to hear your ideas for keeping track of your crafting projects too!

 

Share the Dignity

dignitycowl

A couple of years ago, I came across the charity Share the Dignity and their “It’s in the bag” campaign (https://www.sharethedignity.com.au/christmas-charity/).  The idea is that you get either a brand new or very good condition second hand bag and fill it with things most of us take for granted – like toothpaste, deodorant, soap.  Daily personal hygeine items that a woman would use.  You can then add in things like jewellry, a book, scarf etc. that are there to help a woman feel special and cared for.  These bags are then donated and handed out to women in domestic violence shelters, homeless women etc.  I loved the idea of helping a fellow woman and set about purchasing some of the neccessary items.  Unfortunately, that first year, the donation locations were hard to find and in the busyness of the pre-Christmas season, I did not get my bag completed.  Last year, however, the donation boxes were located at all Bunnings stores and that was a much more accessible and easy option for me to find!  So, I determined to finish up my bag and get it donated.

Being a craft minded person, I really wanted to put something in that I had made personally, just for whoever it is that was going to get my bag.  I had some lovely mill end yarn that I had picked up from spotlight that I thought would make some lovely patterns with the colours.  I must apologise because I can’t for the life of me remember what pattern I used but it worked up fast enough amongst making my other Christmas gifts and I was able to drop my bag off just in time!

dignitycowl2

I love the way it has turned out and the colours – I thought that they were neutralish enough to suit most women.  Sadly, when I was photographing it in a rush one morning before school drop off (after which I needed to drop the bag off), there was obviously something red on the floor reflecting on my photos so you don’t get a true picture of the colours but it did turn out lovely.

If you are interested in donating to the “It’s in a bag” campaign, it happens around Christmas time.  I would recommend starting to get things together during the year so it’s not a big crazy rush at the busiest time of the year for most people.  It’s lovely to be able to bless someone and I hope that each donation gives the woman who receives it comfort and  hope.

dignitycowl3

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!

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!