Puzzle Balls

Last year, I came across these Puzzle Balls by Dedri Uys from Look At What I Made (http://www.lookatwhatimade.net/crafts/yarn/crochet/free-crochet-patterns/star-ball-crochet-amish-puzzle-ball-pattern/).  I love the idea of a segmented ball that can be pulled apart and put back together as a puzzle and also be played with as a ball.  It would suit a baby and then grow with them as they become more inquisitive about how the world around them works.  I especially love the bright colours of this Star Puzzle ball!  It was joyful to make, but there were so many segments to put together – I wasn’t sure if it would ever end!  The best part about constructing it was that it is all crocheted together – no sewing involved!

I also constructed the Amish Puzzle Ball (http://www.lookatwhatimade.net/crafts/yarn/crochet/free-crochet-patterns/crochet-amish-puzzle-ball/).  This one runs along the same lines as the star ball, but is not made up of quite so many segments!  This one worked up a little quicker than the star ball, and I love the “flower” type effect that you get on the front when it is all put together.

Dedri has also compiled a book of puzzle balls that are animal shapes (https://www.anniescatalog.com/detail.html?code=871428&utm_medium=affiliate&utm_source=cj&source=CJAAFF).  Yes, I have bought the book and yes, I have made one of them.  I gave him as a gift to a friend’s baby and they love him!  Another one has been made but that will remain hush hush as he is to be entered into the Gawler show later this year.  I’ll let you know how I go!

 

Raindrops Cowl

Here, we are in the middle of Winter.  It has been cold and a bit wet and everything that Winter should be!  Thankfully, Winter has been put on hold a little this week – just in time to coincide with the school holidays.  Although it has still been cold, the rain has taken a back seat and the sun has come popping out through the clouds enough to allow my girls, who are on school holidays, to go outside and to remind me that Spring is on the way!

In the midst of this cold weather, I decided to try my hand at designing a textured cowl that is thick and warm and cozy to wear!  I am happy with the result.  It didn’t photograph as well as I would have liked (yesterday was NOT one of those lovely sunny, dry days we have been having!), but I trust that you are able to get the picture of how the design works.

The added bonus of designing this cowl is that it forced me to master the Chainless Starting Double Crochet.  This is an easy stitch once you get the hang of it, it was just one of those stitches that had me stymied for awhile.  If you are unsure about how to do a Chainless Starting Double Crochet, Moogly has a great tutorial on her blog http://www.mooglyblog.com/chainless-starting-double-crochet/.  It’s a great alternative to the very obvious ch 3 at the beginning of a row.

For those of you wanting to give this a try, the pattern is as follows:

Raindrops Cowl – US terms

K/6.5mm Crochet hook

“Shiver” yarn by Moda Vera – I used two balls

Abbreviations

ch – Chain

sc – Single Crochet

dc – Double Crochet

sl st – Slip Stitch

4dc puff stitch – 4 double crochet puff stitch

csdc – Chainless Starting Double Crochet

 

Chain 177.  Join to make a loop, being careful not to twist.

R1:  Ch 1, sc in back loop only in each stitch around.  Join to beg sc with a sl st.

R2: Ch1, sc in each stitch around.  Join to beg sc with a sl st.

R3: Repeat round 2.

R4: Csdc, dc in next 9 stitches, 4dc puff stitch *dc in next 10 stitches, 4 dc puff stitch in next stitch* repeat in between ** 14 times.  Join to csdc with a sl st.

R5: Csdc, 4dc puff stitch in next stitch *dc in nest 10 stitches, 4dc puff stitch* repeat in between ** 14 times, dc in the next 9 stitches.  Join to csdc with a sl st.

R6: Csdc, dc in next 2 stitches, 4dc puff stitch *dc in next 10 stitches, 4dc puff stitch in next stitch* repeat between ** 14 times, dc in next 7 stitches.  Join to csdc with a sl st.

R7: Csdc, dc in next 4 stitches, 4dc puff stitch *dc in next 10 stitches, 4dc puff stitch* repeat between ** 14 times, dc in next 5 stitches.  Join to csdc with a sl st.

R8: Csdc, dc in next 6 stitches, 4dc puff stitch *dc in next 10 stitches, 4dc puff stitch* repeat between ** 14 times, dc in next 3 stitches.  Join to csdc with a sl st.

R9: Csdc, dc in next 8 stitches, 4dc puff stitch *dc in next 10 stitches, 4dc puff stitch* repeat between ** 14 times, dc in next stitch.  Join to csdc with a sl st.

R10: Csdc, 4dc puff stitch *dc in next 10 stitches, 4dc puff stitch* repeat between ** 14 times, dc in next 9 stitches.  Join to csdc with a sl st.

R11: Ch 1.  Sc around.  Join to beg ch 1 with a sl st.

R12: Ch 1.  Sc around.  Join to beg ch 1 with a sl st.

R13: Ch 1.  Sc around.  Join to beg ch 1 with a sl st.  Finish off and weave in ends.

As normal, I’d love to see your cowl – share a picture on the thingsnicolemade facebook page!

Enjoy!

 

Donut forget to read this post :)

There’s nothing more exciting than a last minute present rush!  Not!  We found out that it was our youngest daughter’s teacher’s birthday and I decided to make her a little gift because she has been very good to our girl.

So, with a last minute google search, I came up with the idea of a donut pin cushion (https://forum.crochetville.com/topic/32761-donut-pincushion-pattern/#comment-452246).  I loved it!  It was quick, it was fun and it also gave me a chance to use some of the red heart “gumdrops” yarn that I had purchased on clearance at big W for a rainy day!  I love how the yarn itself gives the effect of “sprinkles” even if there are no pins in it.

And the best part is – she actually uses it!  I see it on her desk at school full of thumb tacks for hanging up the children’s artwork.  I love it when I see my creations used and appreciated!

Technical hitch…

Wow!  What a couple of weeks!  We have had no internet due to some workmen damaging a line further down our street.  It has actually shown us just how dependent we are on the internet.  It has been very frustrating not being able to keep up with our normal contacts and activities.  Thankfully, it is all fixed now and we are back online.  I am glad that crochet is not powered by electricity or needs to be connected to the internet (although most of my patterns are sourced from there….), so I have been able to continue busily crocheting away while we have had our outage.

As I said in one of my recent posts, I am not really a scarf wearer in the Winter, but I am a hat wearer.  I love hats – they not only keep your head warm, but they can change your style so much!  My latest hat make is from Petals to Picots and is the O’Hara hat (https://www.petalstopicots.com/2016/05/ohara-hat-crochet-pattern/).  I love the design of this hat and how it uses what is traditionally a stitch used in doily making to make a feminine and interesting hat.

My first attempt was done in Moda Vera Starlight dk weight yarn (8ply) and with the hook recommended in the pattern.  I will admit that it was a dk yarn that is slightly thinner than normal.  The hat worked out fine, but is a little small for me to wear (I think I have a fairly average sized head).  It fits my daughter nicely!  So, I decided to have a second try.  I bought a thicker dk weight yarn (Divine from Lincraft, I think!) and used a hook size larger than recommended and it fits much better (I also added a couple more rows to the band).  I love the colour and the design – very happy with how it turned out.

It also opened up to me a new way to block.  I don’t normally block hats – I figure that they will be going on a head and that will shape them over a couple of wears.  This one, however, was a bit more misshapen than usual and I felt they could do with a blocking.  The method recommended – wetting the hat, inflating a balloon a small amount, inserting it into the hat and then continuing to inflate the balloon until it has gently stretched the hat into shape.  So strange, but it worked!

And, despite the hat being full of holes – it keeps your head nice and warm!  I wore it to the playground with our children this afternoon and it was great!

 

 

The bearded man

I am not afraid to admit I am not a fan of beards! I’m thankful that my husband doesn’t have one! My good friends’ husband has been growing a beard. For a few years. It was long and bushy and I’m sure the envy of beard loving men everywhere. However, he decided that he would shave it off as a part of “The worlds greatest shave” – raising money for research into blood cancers and cures for them.  He shaved his head and his beard and right when the nasty cold weather hit us here. So, I offered to make him a warm hat and replacement beard! I love the hat! The colours are great and the pattern was fab and easy to follow (http://ashleemarie.com/crochet-striped-beanie-pattern-multiple-sizes/), once I figured out sizing. I also love the beard – it made up in one night while at their place playing a card game (http://ashleemarie.com/crochet-bobble-beard-pattern-multiple-sizes/). I’m not thrilled with the fit – I used dk yarn which was slightly thinner than recommended so I adjusted it as I went. I think I would have been better off sticking to the pattern but the end result is still pretty awesome. And part of this journey of life is constant learning as we try new things! I hope it keeps him very warm as his hair grows back!

Brrrrr!

The weather in Adelaide has made a significant jump towards Winter this week.  Gone are the lovely sunny days, instead it’s cold, rainy and overcast.  So, we are having to quickly get out our Winter Woolies to combat the cold.  Now, I am not really a shawl or even scarf wearer.  I may whinge about the cold here, but compared to many climates, our cold is really nothing, so I don’t often find a need for a scarf (or the need is for such a brief time it’s not worth the effort of getting them out!).  However, I came across this pattern from Moogly (http://www.mooglyblog.com/tidal-wave-shawl/) and decided it looked like a good project to try for my first shawl.  I changed the colours a little and introduced this beautiful coral (the yarn is Stylecraft Special dk in grey and shrimp – yes, I know, no surprise about the Stylecraft, if only it was more easily available in Australia, sigh!) and I love how it has turned out.  Although the grey is not too different from our leaden skies at the moment, the shrimp is so bright and a pretty pop of colour to brighten up a miserable day.  I so look forward to it having it’s debut on one of the cold Winter mornings we have coming up!  What do you prefer wearing on cold days, a shawl, scarf or cowl?

You can really see the gradient in the stripes and the lovely shape as it is laid flat for blocking.

The Neave Collection Blanket

A good friend of mine has recently had a baby!  Such exciting times!  I decided I would love to make a blanket for her new little princess.  Around the time she was due, a new CAL came along called the Neave Collection blanket (https://www.facebook.com/groups/621056114767998/).  It looked to be a beautiful blanket and the timing was perfect, so I set about starting it.  I used Stylecraft Special DK (my favourite acrylic yarn!) in the suggested coloursof white, silver, fondant and sherbert.  I love the colours together – it is so pretty! It did, however, take me a lot longer than anticipated to finish it (luckily she was a Summer baby and blankets are only just becoming a necessity now with the weather cooling).

It was a lot fiddlier than expected but it was well worth it.  I love the different textures and patterns and the way the colours play together throughout.  I also liked that some of it was made in small squares, which takes some of the tedium out of just going around and around the large square.

I gifted it to my friend today and she loves it just as much as I do!  I hope that she gets a lot of use out of it and enjoys it as a special item for many years to come!

Scalloped Dishcloth

bluedishcloth

In our disposable world, where nothing is made to last and our rubbish is becoming an environmental problem, people are slowly trying to head in the other direction again, looking for products that can be used again and again to stop increasing the landfill.  I am by no means a bare bones, no rubbish person, but I do believe that our world is our responsibility and we need to take care of it as much as we can, so I am always looking out for ways to be more recyclable.  I have heard a lot of hype regarding crocheted dishcloths.  As we go through a number of sponges a year in the daily washing up duties, I decided to make a dishcloth that can be used and washed in the washing machine and used again.  I found a lovely pattern on The Crochet Crowd’s page http://thecrochetcrowd.com/crochet-scalloped-dishcloth-tutorial/.  I like this pattern because it has some texture, and, let’s be honest, sometimes those dished need some extra scrubbing to remove baked on food.  To start with, I was loathe to use something so pretty for such a dirty job, but I love it!  It cleans my dishes really well and, when needed, a quick wash in the machine and it is good to go again!  As many people have said, once you start using these cloths, you won’t ever use anything else again, and they are right!!

Where has the Summer gone?

Following a computer glitch last week, I am happy to report I am back on line with a more streamlined and organised computer!  Add that to a crazy week and a guilty confession from one of my children that a crocheted dragon was pushed down on to the only crochet hook I have to work on my newest pattern and has swallowed it up inside the stuffing and I am one tired crocheter!  However, todays blog post will go ahead!

The weather here has suddenly changed.  One week we had Summer, and then we quickly passed into almost Winter, and there is a definite chill on the breeze.  I feel it is time to start talking about cowls.  It’s not quite cold enough for jumpers yet but you certainly need something to snuggle into on those cold mornings and evenings.  This post is about the Zola Cowl (http://cre8tioncrochet.com/2013/07/bulky-stacked-shell-cowl-and-shrug).  I made this little lovely as a Christmas present last year.  For once, I actually expanded my yarn horizons and bought some yarn from Ice Yarns.  I love how cheap their yarn is, and, despite it coming all the way from Turkey, the delivery time is really quite reasonable (or you can pay a higher price and it gets to Australia in 2 or 3 days!  Amazeballs!).  This cowl worked up quite quickly (which was useful considering it was a last minute idea and I had to wait for the yarn to arrive – amazingly, I had it ready on time!) and I love the versatility of it.  It can be worn down to keep the shoulders warm, as a traditional cowl or many other ways I’m sure (I experimented with an off the shoulder version in my photos).  I quite enjoy working with patterns from Cre8tion Crochet.  Every time I’ve used one, they have been clear to read and easy to follow!  So, for those of you in the beginnings of Autumn, rug up and brace yourselves for the cold weather that’s coming!