Scrub-a-dub-dub

Firstly, I think I need to let you know the results of my market entries.  Sadly, I had zero success.  I was trying to prepare myself for the fact that that could happen, but I think I was secretly hoping I’d sell at least one thing!  Anyway, I’ve tried it and have a better idea of what to do next time.  I was also told that not a lot of things sold – many people were looking but not buying, so it may have just been in the wrong market for the time.  But, failure teaches us things and I’ll be better equipped in the future!

Earlier this year, I wrote about my experiments with reusable dishcloths.  I’m still using them and still loving them.  My only problem was that I still needed to buy non-scratch scourers for cleaning my pots and pans.  I had been seeing “scrubby” yarn online for a while and this yarn seemed to be used to make just such a product, the only problem was it was very expensive – especially when you added in the shipping charge to Australia.  However, Lincraft finally started stocking their version of this yarn.  I bought some and made up a quick little flower dishcloth scrubby.  I haven’t photographed it, but it is probably the size of my palm.  It is not quite as effective as a store bought scourer, but it does do the job with just a little bit of elbow grease – and the benefit is that it is washable and reusable! So, when I’m scrubbing away and feeling a bit grumpy that I’m having to scrub so hard, I just remind myself of the environmental benefits of what I am using and my patience is restored!

I do also think that a bigger scrubby might be a little easier to handle.  I knitted up a Santa belly one for Christmas and will have to give it a go to see if the larger size is easier to use and if the knitted weave is better or worse that the crocheted one.

A lot of what we do as crafters and just in life is experimentation – trying different methods until we find the one that works just right for our own needs.  And when it involves crochet or knitting, I’m happy to experiment away as much as I can!!

 

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Fidget Blanket

I was recemtly commissioned to make a fidget blanket for a lovely gentleman who is suffering from Dementure.  I’ve attempted something similar before but in a much smaller format for a child with Autism to use as a calming/sensory tool while sitting on the mat with the class.  Basically, they have both involved having different textures to feel and things that can be played with to keep minds and fingers busy.  This particualr client went out and bought the “fidgety” things that would be added on, and kept in mind the likes and interests of the recipient when they were choosing what would be added.  They also wanted to keep a Port Adelaide Football Club theme to it, so I chose white, black and teal yarn to construct the blanket.  It’s made using basic granny squares single crocheted together and is big enough to fit comfortably cover the legs and lap of a tall adult.  This will have an added benefit for the recipient in that it will keep them warm in the cooler evenings of the year.  I placed the fidget squares where they would comfortably sit in my lap and be the easiest to reach and use.  It has metal flowers that are textured and raised, an Eiffel Tower, buttons in different shapes and textures, soft tassels, beads on a string that can be manipulated and a stretchy dinosaur (because honestly, who doesn’t love a stretchy dinosaur?).  My children were somewhat disturbed when I was sewing the dinosaur on as he was skewered by the needle to pass the yarn through!!

These are definitely an interesting concept.  From feedback I have received, I know the fidget muff was very helpful to the young child at school, allowing them to participate with the class and to concentrate better on what the teacher was saying.  I can only hope that the blanket will also be very helpful for my latest client and bring some calming when agitation begins.  They are certainly becoming more popular and are a great resource in nursing homes.  I had some discussion with a friend of mine who has worked in this field for many years when I was beginning this project and her suggestions were very helpful.

There are many ideas for these out there on the internet.  My favourite one is a cat, but it is not a crocheted piece.  Perhaps I can see some pattern designing coming up in my future!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

For those of you that don’t know me personally, you couldn’t yet know how much I love Christmas.  It is my absolute favourite time of the year.  I think it took even my husband by surprise – he’d seen my parent’s home decorated for Christmas, and my sister’s home but when we married and celebrated our first Christmas in our own home, I don’t think he was quite prepared for the onslaught of Christmas cheer!  And having children has only made it worse.  They are old enough now to love decorating and they egg me on to get more decorations each year (I’m proud to be passing this Christmas spirit down to the next generation!).

However, being a face painter means that this time of year is also my busiest time of year, and to survive it all, I have to be super organised and think ahead about everything.  This year, I decided to make a wreath for our home.  My plan was to put it on the front door, but it gets a lot of sun, and I’m worried that it will fade and render all my hard work useless, so it’s final display place is still up for debate.

I got the basic idea and instructions from this Attic 24 post http://attic24.typepad.com/weblog/2012/12/christmas-wreath-ta-dah.html, where she covers a foam wreath and decorates it with Christmas bits and bobs.   I decided to go a little more traditional with my colours, and used the Kringle Sparkle yarn from Spotlight.  I’ve doubled the strands because it is quite a thin yarn (I’ve had this in my cupboard for a year or more and have been told that this year’s batch is a little thicker!).  I’m loving it so far.  It is so beautiful and sparkly and Christmassy!  My plan is to add a Scandanavian Santa Gnome (https://www.1dogwoof.com/scandinavian-santa-gnome-amigurumi/) and some holly etc. once the wreath is finished.  It is getting hard working on just the one project – I’m so tempted to put it aside and start on another (or I should finish another wip!), but I’m determined to finish it THIS Christmas, so that is spurring me on (and putting it out here will also hold me accountable!).

I’m quite excited to see how it will turn out!  It may have to feature in one of our Barbie escapades (we don’t do elf on a shelf – our Barbie dolls come alive during December!).  Are you thinking ahead for Christmas?  I’d love to see some of your Christmas projects (and get more ideas!).  Please share them in the comments, or on my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thingsnicolemade/.

P.S.  I wasn’t expecting to finish this so quickly, but was so excited I had to add it to my post before it went live! I’ve finished covering the wreath and I’m stoked about how it’s turned out!

Mystery bunting

I was talking to a friend the other day and saying that I am having trouble finding projects for my blog at the moment!  It’s not that I’m not working on things – I am.  And it’s not that I’m not finishing things – I am.  The trouble is that I am busily working on my entries for the Gawler show, and don’t want to post completed photos until judging has been completed.  However, the show is in just two weeks time, and lots of other exciting things are happening yarn wise for me soon, so there will be plenty of content for my blog soon.

In the meantime, I am still working busily on things.  I started a few weeks ago a 5 day cal through Sewrella (http://www.sewrella.com/2017/07/5-day-mystery-cal-materials-list.html).  As you are aware, I have done a number of cals over the last few years.  Some are completed, some are finished and waiting for construction and some are still not finished.  I liked the idea of a quick, 5 day cal – seemed quite manageable.  I also love a good mystery cal (although find it so frustrating to not know what colours to choose!).  After the first couple of days, I knew we were making a bunting.  And this is where I get proud of myself.  I am not really a bunting kind of person.  I occasionally use it as a party decoration, but my house is not bedecked in it.  So, after finding out that I was definitely making bunting, I was tempted to stop the project.  But, I knew it was only a commitment of a couple of days to complete the project, so I stuck at it.  I love the design and the little roses in the centres and am quite happy with the finished product (even if I don’t know what to do with it!  My youngest daughter did just wander in the lounge room where is was hung to take the photos and say “Mum, I really like what you’ve done in here with this”, so maybe it can stay for a little while!).  I especially love the big, fat, tassels!

It was exciting also in that it called for Worsted Weight yarn.  Any Australians will know that that equates to about a 10ply here and that it is almost impossible to get your hands on 10ply yarn in Australia (8 or 12py are the usual options).  I had a friend who had recently been on a trip to Canada, and I asked her to pick up some Red Heart Super Saver yarn.  I hear about it all over the internet, but it is not something I can easily get my hands on here.  She managed to squeeze a few balls into her case for me, and it was with great excitement that I was able to use them on this project (the green and the purple)!

So, this is my first foray into the world of bunting.  It is a quick, easy project to do, and I love the fact that the 5 days included total completion.  It really still needs blocking, but I’ll leave it to hang a few days and see how it goes!

Scalloped Dishcloth

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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!!

Spaghetti yarn

I have wanted to try spaghetti yarn for a long time -I  just haven’t had the right project to try it on.  Finally, this year, my chance has come!  A girlfriend of mine has recently had a new baby and requested one made for her nursery.  I looked up patterns to find one that wasn’t too “holey”, so it was safe to be walking on and around with a baby and came across this pattern from Wink https://crafts.tutsplus.com/tutorials/crochet-a-gorgeous-mandala-floor-rug–craft-6032.  It was really fun to try a new kind of yarn!  I enlarged the pattern quite a lot in order to make it as big as she had asked, but I think it turned out well.  It took around 5 1kg balls of yarn, so it weighs a tonne!  It’s a little wrinkled at the moment, but when it’s on carpet, it sits flatter, and in time, I’m sure it will flatten out as it is used!  I’m very happy with the finished result and my friend was thirlled.  I did find it a bit difficult to crochet with because of it’s thickness – it tended to give me a fairly sore wrist, so I had to take frequent breaks but it hasn’t put me off of trying to make another one for my own children’s bedroom!

The luck of the Irish

Well, my luck this week was a nasty head cold, so my post is somewhat late and now out of date!  Anyways, I’m feeling better and that’s the main thing.  As I’m sure you are all aware, Friday just gone was St. Patrick’s Day.  This is not something that I particularly celebrate, but even over here in Australia, it’s a fairly big thing and you can’t help but notice it’s happening!  So, for St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to dip my hand back into my Tunisian CAL http://www.petalstopicots.com/2017/03/tunisian-crochet-monthly-dishcloth-crochet-along-march/.  *Please note: – I have made one more attempt at Tunisian Crochet since my Valentine’s Day post, so this one is actually my third try!  I am so much happier with how this turned out!  I didn’t worry about which way I wound my yarn around the hook and just did it like I have for the last twenty years and it is so much more even.  I’m still not thrilled with the finish on the right hand side but that is something to be worked on in the next one!  This has certainly helped to shore up my never be defeated attitude.  As I crochet left handed, I didn’t follow the authors instructions on how to do Tunisian crochet on the first cloth.  I did a google search and followed some more specific left handed tutorials.  Although I achieved the result I was after, it seemed a very awkward way to execute the stitches.   This time, as I had already had a go and had a fair idea of what it should look like etc., I was able to go back to the author’s instructions on how to do Tunisian crochet and they made a lot more sense and were a lot easier to follow and so much less awkward to execute!  I do believe I am progressing well on this journey and look forward to seeing what is improved upon in my next dishcloth!

This is a comparison shot of my first Tunisian dishcloth and the one I have just completed.  I did use a different sized hook, which is why there is a discrepancy between the actual finished sizes but the difference in the neatness of the stitches and even in the definition of the reverse stitches on the motifs is quite noticeable!

And, in an offside, I did manage to drag myself out over the weekend and visit the Garden of Unearthly Delights as part of the Adelaide Fringe Festival.  It was certainly amazing with all the colour and lights and so many different little shows that were on offer.  We dropped in to a magic show with our children, which we thoroughly enjoyed.  And, as is suitable, I wore my newly made festival worthy necklace!

Being raw…

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I’m baring my crochet soul a little today.  Normally, when sharing my projects, I want them to look beautiful, well finished and professional.  Today’s doesn’t.  I have been wanting to learn Tunisian Crochet for awhile.  It’s something that I’ve seen pop up from time to time and thought I should have a go at, but until now I haven’t.  Then, in January when I discovered the Petals to Picot Tunisian Dishcloth CAL http://www.petalstopicots.com/2016/12/tunisian-dishcloth-crochet-along/, I knew my decision had been made!  Not only are they going to be small, manageable projects, but I have a bunch of cotton I bought on special that would be perfect.  So, in January, I ordered some Tunisian Crochet hooks, which are the most interesting looking things – a knitting needle with a crochet hook on the end instead of a point!  I haven’t had a chance to try the January cloth yet (I’ve had a few custom orders that required my attention) but, seeing as how this week was Valentine’s, I thought I’d stick with the theme and skip to February’s cloth.  It was a bit harder than I was expecting really.  I can knit as well as crochet, so I thought that would put me in good stead.  It did help, there’s no doubt about that, but it did still take a number of tries before I felt that I really understood the process.  It was also complicated by discovering that I wrap my yarn around the hook “backwards” when I crochet, so I was trying to change my way of doing that and it actually makes a difference in how the stitches look!  I didn’t get along too well with the tunisian hook either. It’s going to take some time to get used to the length of it and how to balance it in my hand.  I usually use clover amour hooks, which slide through the yarn so smoothly and my new hooks aren’t quite as smooth.  I ended up using a normal metal hook with a hair tie wrapped around the end to stop the stitches falling off!  However, it was a great learning experience.  The cloth looks like it has a heart on it and, now that it’s blocked, it sits quite flat and nicely.  I am not giving up – I will conquer this new technique and get it looking nicer – it’s just going to take more practise.  And thankfully, this CAL has 12 different cloths to practise with!  So, the moral of the story it – don’t give up.  Try new things and keep trying until you get the concept.  It will be worth it in the end!

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