The Great Yarn (Road) Trip

Last week, my family made the long trip from Adelaide to Melbourne.  When we first discussed going, I assumed we would fly over, however, my husband assumed we would drive.  I had reservations – 2 young kids in the car for 8 hours is a tough gig.  Then, I remembered that I had been wanting to visit the Bendigo Woollen Mills and driving over would give us the freedom to do that!  So, I agreed to drive on the condition that we would visit Bendigo on the way home.  A couple of ladies in my Crochet group told me about a few other yarns stores in Melbourne that I could check out, so I had my itinerary ready and off we went!  It was indeed a long way over, but the kids were magnificent – I think I was more impatient than they were!

Our first morning there, I walked past the building where Morris & Sons is housed.  Sadly, it hadn’t opened yet for the day (yay for excited kids sleeping in unfamiliar places and waking up early!), so it was a bit of a tease.  I was able to get there the next day with my oldest daughter (who kindly took a daggy photo of me out the front of the shop!).  If I’m going to review it, it wasn’t well signed inside the mall – the wool through the windows was what gave it away.  But what a treasure trove inside.  So….much…yarn.  So many different brands, colours and types.  It was exciting to see yarns I have only read about in person.  I had a budget to stick to for all of my yarn shopping, so I took a portion of it and chose lots of rainbow yarns in this store!  My aim with this trip was to try different fibres and yarns that I have not been able to easily access here in Adelaide.  From this store, I bought a skein of yarn that I loved the colours of and may turn into a pair of socks at some point (depending on if it will make big enough socks for my giant feet!).  I bought a couple of balls of Morris & Sons brand yarn to try (including that gorgous big hank of rainbow yarn!) and some sock yarn (definitely enough to make a pair of socks for my giant feet!).  Sock making is something I haven’t really tried before and I am keen to give it a go!

 

 

My next stop was Yarn + Co.  The children and I walked there.  It was a bit of a hike and turned a bit nasty in the end with tired, grumpy kids that refused to walk any further,  but was worth it to see some more new yarns!  I love how this store is set out.    If you look closely at this picture, you can see a sofa covered in crochet and knit cushions and there was completed projects all over the place.  I loved the welcoming feeling of it (and the couch was great to plonk my children on and know they would stay).  It was a smaller store, with not as many different yarns as the previous store I had visited but I was able to buy some clover bent tip yarn needles that I had been wanting to try and some Katia yarn purely because it was different and I haven’t tried it before.  So far, my yarn trip was a resounding success.  I had been careful enough with my budget that I still had some money to spend at Bendigo, but I had been able to buy some new and different things!

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, the end of the holiday came (We had a fabulous time with all the things we were able to do and see – it was great!),  the day I could visit the Bendigo Woollen Mills.  I was a bit worried that I would be disappointed after hearing from numerous people how fabulous it is.  But…..I wasn’t!  We were unable to get there before a Saturday, so the actual Mill wasn’t working.  I don’t know if you can do tours of the mill or not, but it would have been interesting to see how yarn is manufactured.  However, the factory sales were open, and that was what I had really come there for!  It was great, there was a lot of yarn to choose from at some really good prices.  And, here I could (and did!) spend the remainder of my yarn budget!  I bought numerous different fibres that I haven’t worked with before and some of their bargain bin yarns.  Up until now, most 100% wool yarn I have worked with has been scratchy and uncomfortable, but the wool here is so soft and squishy!  I also bought some yarn to make a new jumper for my husband and a cardigan for myself!  The thing I liked about this store was that it had just enough.  I felt that I was able to buy a really good selection of stuff without feeling like I was only trying a small drop in the bucket.  I wasn’t overwhelmed by the amount of products that were there, but there was so much yarn around that I felt I was in my happy place!  It was great!  I was excited and my husband thought it was all very amusing!  There is also a very cool yarn bombed tram in Bendigo (https://www.bendigotourism.com/whats-on/next-7-days/event/8018-the-yarn-bomb-tram).  Although I didn’t have a chance to ride the tram, we did see it trundling about!  My photo is not amazing as it was taken from the car as the tram drove past, but the link above has some much nicer photos!All in all, I am so happy I visited these shops.  I think my favourite would have to be the Bendigo Woollen Mills and I am hoping that one day I might get back there.  Of course, I can always order online.  Now, I just have to find a place to store all of this new yarn.  I think I’m going to have to buy a new storage box……

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A horse, of course!

A few years ago, I came across this pattern for a horse purse (http://kristieskids.weebly.com/welcome/horse-purse-pattern-at-long-last).  Sounds strange, but I fell in love with it and thought that my daughter would too.  It was only a few days until her birthday, so I whipped one up for her.  She loved it (I think most young girls love horses don’t they!).  She could fit a surprising amount in it for a small bag and it travelled around with us a bit.

One of her friends from school has a birthday just a few days later.  What to give her….a horse purse!  Another school Mum had also seen the horse purse and said that her daughter had loved it.  A few months later for her birthday and another one was made.  Her Mum was only telling me the other day that she still plays with the purse even now.  She also has a couple of younger sisters, so I’m sure that it will be passed down and played with for a long time.

As I mentioned last week, I love quick and easy things to make, and this was fabulous.  Just when you think that you’ve had enough and couldn’t possibly crochet another bit, it was finished and ready to be made up!  Who could ask for more?  Perhaps the only thing that could improve it – a unicorn horn!

Princess Lovelies

I love making quick, simple things.  Many people see me at work with my various projects and I will often get the comment “You must be so patient to do that!”.  Well, the answer is no.  I’m not at all patient, and my husband will attest to that (he is nodding his head as he reads this, aren’t you Gavin?).  I find online shopping a real connundrum.  I love shopping in my own home, in my pj’s if I want, and having choices of things that just aren’t normally produced or stocked in Australia.  But then, I have to wait for them to be delievered (I’m currently eagerly waiting the arrival of a pair of earrings that is taking longer than was stated!).  I guess this is probably why I have so many projects on the go at one time.  I work on one for a little while, but, if it’s too big or time consuming, I quickly find that I need to move on to something else.  Eventually, I’ll get back to the first one and most of my projects will get finished, weeks, months, years after they were started!

These little Princess Lovelies by Bowtykes (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/pretty-princess-lovey) are a perfect project for me to gift.  They are quick, they are manageable and they are so cute.  I have made several now and really enjoy the process and escpecially how by just adjusting the colours and the pattern ever so slightly, you get different characters.  Amy from Spicy Tuesday Crafts has published some more alterations to make even more variations of this pattern (http://spicytuesdaycrafts.blogspot.com.au/2014/08/my-notes-for-pretty-princess-lovey.html).

They are perfect for babies as they don’t have any buttons or things to pull off and choke on and they are the right size for little baby hands to grab on to!  I totally recommend this pattern – it’s clearly written and easy to understand, well worth the money I paid for it!

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!

Foxy ragdoll!

Naughty people on facebook are always sharing different patterns that they see.  Some I can scroll right past, but many catch my attention and require further investigation.  One of these was the Ragdoll Fox pattern by Spin A Yarn Crochet (https://spinayarncrochet.com/ragdoll-fox-free-crochet-pattern/).  This little fellow looks cute and easy to make, so I decided to give him a go.

He was fairly easy to make up – his parts were all fairly basic.  My only criticism is that my belly patch and eye patches did not turn out at the correct size (they are slightly smaller than they should be), but that may have been due to using a different brand yarn from the rest of the project.

Putting him together was fun!  Most of him was crocheted together, which is what I prefer – it seems to be quicker than sewing.  I also like the “flat” look it gave him on the edges, enhancing the ragdoll effect.  His head, however……oh wow, this was a bit fiddly (and in the designer’s defense, she did say it would be!).  Because I am a bit of a skim reader, I had to unpick a bunch of crocheting and start it again before it was completed, but in the end, it didn’t take too long.  I had visions of having to spend days constructing this critter, and, in reality, it only took a few hours.

And I can already attest to his popularity with kids – my daughters were fighting over who is going to claim him before he was even finished!

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!