Doing the Impossible

I believe I have said once or twice that I am not a patient person.  Most things I make are small and easily finished in a fairly short period of time.  I have made some clothes for small people, but was NEVER going to attempt to make a piece of clothing for an adult.  That would take way too much time, making it take years before I finished it.  That was until I married my husband…..and started buying his clothes…..and learned how fussy he is about jumpers.  I will agree with him that unless you want to pay serious money for a jumper, the ones readily available in store are not particularly thick or warm, and as someone who has to do a substantial amount of walking to get to work, he needs something warm for those cold Winter morning and evenings.  So, I set about making him a jumper.  I bought some thick yarn, so it would make up as quickly as possible and I started knitting (yes, I knit too!).  I am forever grateful that he is a slim man, so I usually have to make one of the smaller sizes on the patterns and that helps a bunch!  The result was this jumper (I didn’t get a photo when it was first made, so it’s a little loved here!).  He was thrilled, and (more importantly) warm.  He got lots of comments on this jumper, and it gave me the confidence to make another one.  Once again, thick yarn, but this time, I chose a more complicated pattern, and attempted to knit cables for the first time.  I love this jumper.  It would have to be one of my favourites that I have made him.  It didn’t go without a hitch.  I made up the whole of the front and back and tried it on him and it was WAY TOO BIG.  With tears in my eyes, I went through every way in my head that I could possibly make it smaller.  The answer in the end was to rip it all out and start again.  It was hard, but I’m so glad I did it!  The end result is much, much better than it would have been if I had altered it somehow!  This one is actually starting to come apart on the neck and cuffs, so I am going to have to learn how to recuff it! (I’m actually excited to learn a new skill!).  After knitting two jumpers, I had the thought that crocheting one would be a lot quicker, so I set about doing that.  The pattern called for a thicker yarn than I could get my hands on, so I bought dk yarn and just made it with a double strand.  This jumper is VERY warm.  A little too warm.  It’s not my favourite in that it is just so big and bulky but he still wears it with pride (he’s a rare gem!).  This year, jumper 1 and 3 were out of the picture for wearing to work (too worn and too warm), which left him with one jumper.  So, I decided it was time to make another.  I found a pattern I loved for a crochet jumper, I ordered the yarn from Ice Yarns in Turkey.  The yarn was super cheap, the postage was super expensive but it all equalled out to a normal cost in the end and was here in 4 days, which still has me staggered when things coming to me from another state in Australia can take longer than two weeks!  Anyway, I made the front and back without too much trouble but when it came to the sleeves, I could see that they were going to be really baggy and awful (I can never get my tension quite right!).  So it went in the naughty corner for awhile.  My biggest problem was that my husband was always wearing the jumper that I needed to use to compare it to!  I finally took an outline of the sleeves so I could work on it without the jumper and decided to just try and fudge it so it was the same size!  A couple of weeks ago, I told him that I would need his blue jumper on a weekday to take to the knitting and crochet group that I go to so I could get some assistance with the repairs.  His reply was that it was the only jumper he had to wear, it’s cold and I couldn’t have it!  I felt that now was a good time to finish the other jumper.  I figured out the sleeves and was happy with them, sewed it all together and tried it on him.  Unfortunately, the neckline was going to be way too low.  I looked at it and had the thought “I wonder if this stitch is forgiving enough that I could just join the yarn in and fill the hole in a little?”.  I figured it was better to try that than to start all over again, so I did.  I’m thrilled at how it has worked out and (to be honest) that I was clever enough to do it.  If I point it out, you can see a slight difference, but on the whole it is not noticeable and it means the jumper is finished now and not back at the start again!  So, my next challenge is to find a nice pattern for the yarn I bought to make another jumper for him at the Bendigo Woollen Mills.  And then to really challenge myself – I want to design a cardigan for myself from the ground up!  I’ll let you know how that goes!

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Showing your work

Have you ever thought about entering any of your work into a show?  It can be a scary thing, allowing others to look at and judge your work that you have put countless hours into, frogging and redoing until it is perfect.  Up until a few years ago, I hadn’t ever entered anything into a show.  I had thought about it but had never been brave enough to investigate how to go about it.  And then I made my Sophie’s Universe and I felt that that was a piece that just had to be seen.  Not because of my work but because the design is just so beautiful.  So, I found out how to enter the Royal Adelaide Show (our big state fair) and entered her.  She didn’t win, but I got some ribbons for some other pieces and my addiction to entering shows began.  I love it!  I love thinking about what to enter and looking for new, amazing designs to crochet.  I love delivering my pieces before the show has begun and seeing everything getting ready.  I love going to the show and looking at my work on display.  And, I love the expectation of waiting to see what the results are and if I earned a ribbon!

Last year, I entered both the Royal Adelaide Show and the Gawler Show (a smaller, country show).  The experience is very different with both shows.  The entry fees are higher for the Adelaide show, and so far, I haven’t won a first prize, which is the only real way of recovering your costs.  The Gawler show is smaller, but the entry fees are lower and so far, I have covered my costs of entering with my winnings, which makes it feel a bit more successful!

This year, due to me not paying close enough attention to the Adelaide show book, I only entered pieces in the Gawler show.  The staff at the show were absolutely fabulous as I realised I was going to be in Melbourne when I needed to drop things off and they were great about me dropping them off early.  As we literally swung past the show to collect my pieces on our way home from Melbourne, I had to wait until then to find out my results (one of my friends sent me pics of a couple of my results while we were away, but not all!).  It was exciting to collect them and find out that I had done really well this year!  Out of the six pieces entered, I earned 4 firsts, one second and a best exhibit for crochet (that I was totally not expecting!).  The prize from the best exhibit has allowed me to order some blocking wires that I have been eyeing off for awhile!  (Another review will be coming soon!).  I even won a trophy this year, as my Persian Tiles blanket came tied for first with another Persian Tiles blanket that the judges just couldn’t choose between!

If you have ever thought about it, but not had the confidence, I would suggest just going for it!  The worst that can happen is that you won’t win anything, and, although it is disappointing (I put hours into the baby pram cover and it didn’t place at all 😦 ), it is still a growing and learning experience, challenging you to find more unique and detailled pieces for next years’ show and to improve the quality and finish of your work.  I’d love to hear about your experiences entering shows!

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!

 

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.

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!

Being flexible!

This blog post was supposed to be about something completely different than what it has turned out to be.  But sometimes, you just have to be flexible and go with what you have.  This week, life has just gotten in the way and I didn’t get my scheduled project finished (so close, but so far).  Instead, I ended up working on a birthday present for my daughter to take to a birthday party.  It’s a pattern that I have had on my “to do” list for awhile and this was the perfect opportunity (and weather) to complete it!  The pattern is the Cuddly Cat Crochet Scoodie by Moogly http://www.mooglyblog.com/cuddly-cat-crochet-scoodie/.  When I showed my daughter, she thought it was perfect for her little friend!  It was a little challenging in that I (as usual) didn’t quite get the gauge exact, so had to adjust a little as I went.  I’m not thrilled with the fit but with the nature of the garment, it doesn’t really matter, it’s just me being a perfectionist.  Other than that, it was quite easy to make up, easily done in a weekend, and the nicest part was….my daughter is learning to follow in my crochet footsteps and she made one of the ear insides herself, which makes it an even more personal present for her friend!  It was also a great weekend for modelling it as the weather has gone from being roasting hot to cold enough to need a jumper, and she was quite happy to wear the scoodie to keep herself warm during the shoot!