Boho Bag

As the last installment of my festival themed posts, I decided to make a bag.  A boho, festival worthy creation that will be both practical and stylish.  In my search for a pattern, I came across one from A Creative Being and I knew I had found my bag! http://www.acreativebeing.com/2013/10/02/free-pattern-squares-bag/.  If you search more on her blog, you can find one she made from Noro yarn, with subtle colour changes in the yarn and it is beautiful!!  I did not have the time to order Noro yarn (it’s frustrating living in a country where you have limited yarn selections in local stores!), but I remembered a beautiful yarn that I had had to purchase a few weeks before.  Yes, you read correctly, I HAD to purchase it – it called to me!  I was visiting my local Lincraft store and came across one of their ends bags.  The yarn was so beautiful, with rich, jewel tones and variegated to boot that I decided to buy it and was sure that one day the right project would come along for it.  That day came sooner than expected!  I started working on the squares and was so happy with the result – squares with slight colour changes!  Exactly what I was after!  The pattern is simple and so easy to follow.  Joining the squares was a little harder, just trying to get my head around where I wanted to place the colours etc., but it came together quickly enough.

The next task was to line the bag.  I chose to line mine in red.  I think the better colour choice would have been grey but I dislike handbags with dark linings – I find it hard to see things in your bag, so it’s hard to get out what you’re looking for.  So I bought red, and that was a learning curve in itself.  I sort of followed the instructions for lining the bag, although I left out the wadding.  In theory, it was quite simple – cut out the lining to fit with a bit extra for seams, sew down the sides and across the bottom, then fold over the top section and stitch it into the bag as you hem it (hopefully that makes sense!).  Because of the jagged v shaped top, I had trouble folding it over and pinning it into the bag at the same time, so I decided to hem the top and then stitch it into the bag.  This was where my learning curve kicked in.  Obviously, it needed to be attached to the bag using grey cotton as red would have stood out too much on the grey yarn.  However, that would have left a grey stitch line inside the red lining which also would not have looked too good!  In the end, I blind hemmed the lining in using grey thread.  it doesn’t show on the crochet and is barely noticeable inside on the red lining.  It’s actually quite a nice finish, very neat and one I will use in the future.  This is only the second bag that I have lined and the first one was quite difficult to sew the lining into the crochet – I broke a sewing machine needle and it wasn’t much fun.  I think hand sewing the linings in will be the way I go in the future!  Much easier!

Finally, with some handles sewn on (purchased on ebay) and some embellishments, it is done and I love it!  I can’t wait to begin using it and showing it off to everyone around!

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 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!

To block or not to block…..

bohobagblockclose

Blocking – I hate it!  And I love it!  It makes it take that much longer to finish a project I have been working on but the results are worth the time.  What is blocking you may ask?  It is the process of relaxing the yarn to correct any areas that may have come out of shape during the crocheting process.  I have been crocheting for many years but have only come across this concept in the last year or two and it is revolutionising how my finished pieces look!  There are a number of ways to block a crochet piece (googling it brings up many options) but the way I have settled on doing it is as follows.  I pin the item out in it’s correct shape on a foam camping mat (bought at Aldi but you can also get kids alphabet sets at Kmart that work just as well, they’re just smaller!) and then I spray, spray, spray it with a spray bottle of tap water.  I press down on it to make sure the water has penetrated the piece, then I leave it for a day or two depending on the weather and voila!  Remove the pins and you’re done.  If the piece is really wonky or very large, I would probably put it through the washing machine first and then pin it out to dry.  My husband has bought me a wonderful big blocking table (hang on, I can hear him saying something about it’s meant to be a pool table for him to use!), so I leave my blocked pieces on that to dry.  It’s an ideal surface for me to use because it is high and as I am a tall person, it is easier on my back bending over to pin everything precisely.  You can leave your mats on the floor for the piece to dry but with two children and two cats (who would think it was the perfect place to sleep!), I prefer to keep it up off the floor!

img_0333-1

Once your piece is dry, you WILL notice a difference.  It has a neater, more professional look with crisper edges and corners.  Much as I hate doing it, the end result makes me happy.  Last year, I entered a doily in a local show.  When I was collecting my pieces, a lady actually asked me if I had blocked the doily because she could tell there was a difference.  This was very encouraging because I had put a lot of work into blocking it and didn’t think anyone would appreciate the difference.  It has encouraged me to keep going with it!

 

I have just completed the main section of a bag (keep your eyes open, it will be appearing on the blog soon).  I had the usual talk to myself – “does it need blocking? It’s pretty much in shape, the squares are a little “bubbled out” but I suppose it doesn’t matter because it’s a bag, not clothing, etc”.  However, I decided to bite the bullet and block it and I am so much happier with how it looks now.  I don’t have a before picture, but here it is blocking away nicely!

bohobagblock

So, I thought, here I am rambling on about blocking and the benefits of it and so on, but you really need to be able to see a before and after shot to get a good idea of what blocking will actually do.  And, I have the perfect project to demonstrate it on for you!  I have been busily working on the Neave Collection Blanket https://www.facebook.com/groups/621056114767998/?ref=bookmarks.  The centre square begins with a series of front and back post stitches and then evens out into a lot of half double crochets and single crochets.  Due to the front and back posts, it tends to buckle.  Although it has flattened out a little as I’ve gone on, it is still pretty wavy.  I have been holding my breath because a lot of people have had the same problem, and it has been corrected with a block.  So, I am up to the part of the pattern where it is suggested that I block the piece, so block it I have and it has made a huge difference.It’s not perfect by any means but it sits flat now and gives me hope that as I continue to crochet around it, it will correct itself even more.  I am so excited to finish it and gift it to my friend!

neaveunblocked
Neave blanket centre square unblocked…..                                                         
neaveblocking
…blocking…..

 

neaveblocked
…all finished!

 

neavefolded
I can even fold it up nicely now!

So, now you have read about the benefits of blocking, go and give it a try.  You can buy all sorts of fancy wooden blocking boards (I’d love to get some one day!) and pins, you can make your own wooden ones, or you can use foam boards like me but I guarantee you, it will make a huge difference to the finished presentation of your crochet!

Festival Time!!

sylvan1

The end of February signals festival time in Adelaide.  We begin with the Fringe Festival, which transforms the city, and showcases many different forms of art.  There are musicians, comedians, singers, theatre – anything your heart desires.  I have had the pleasure of being involved in a small way in the last few years through my other passion – face painting.  It is certainly a time when our city is full of people and extra vibrant (Adelaide is awesome any time!).  Of course, if you’re out to see a show or savour the atmosphere in the Garden of Unearthly Delights, you’re going to need a snazzy, festival worthy necklace to finish off your outfit.  And what better accessory for a festival than a hand made one.  I came across this beautiful pattern for the Sylvan Necklace http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/sylvan-crocheted-necklace-headband on Ravelry and had to make it.  It was a bit fiddly putting it together but the actual crochet work was very quick and it looks fabulous!  The only problem is, now I’m going to have to make more in different colours!  The perfect accessory for a day (or night) out with friends!

sylvan3

sylvan2

Being raw…

heart2

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!

heart1

20 reasons I love you!

As I’m sure you’re aware, Valentine’s Day is fast approaching.  I personally believe that Valentine’s Day is a good reminder to us to say “I love you” to those we love – not just romantic partners.  We often give our children a card on Valentine’s Day to say we love them – even though we tell them every day!

I was shopping with my sister last week, when I came across a lovely idea –  a jar full of paper hearts to write 20 different reasons I love you on them.  Of course, my crafty, crochet brain immediately thought about how I could make something similar, that would also have a hand made touch and voila!, here it is, 20 reasons I love you.

valentines2

If you’d like to make one yourself, I’ve written down the pattern below.  Please remember, this pattern has not been tested at all, so please let me know if there are errors, but be kind – it’s my first go at designing and writing out a pattern!  If you have any questions, let me know and I’ll happily help you out.

20 reasons I love you

Materials

  • Dk yarn in cream, red and white (or any colours of your choosing)
  • 4mm/G  Crochet hook
  • Jar
  • Coloured paper for hearts
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Yarn needle

Abbreviations

ch – Chain

sl st – Slip Stitch

sc – Single Crochet

hdc – Half double crochet

dc – Double Crochet

tr – Treble

Instructions

Please note – I use US  crochet terms

Firstly, you need to choose a jar.  I have chosen a craft storage jar because it is a bit decorative with it’s metal closure and I’ve had it lying around for awhile, waiting for the perfect project to use it in!

Once you have chosen your jar, you need to make a plain circle piece that will sit nicely on the top.  I used Stylecraft Special dk yarn and my jar has a 9cm wide lid.  The number of rounds you will need to crochet will depend on the size of your lid and tension.  If your lid is smaller than mine, make less rounds.  If your lid is larger, make more!

Lid cover

Using cream, begin with a magic circle.

Round 1: Ch 3 (counts as first dc).  11 dc into ring.  Join to beg ch 3.  Close magic ring. (12dc)

Round 2:  Ch 3 (counts as first dc).  dc into same stitch.  2dc in each stitch around.  Join to beg ch 3. (24 dc)

Round 3:  Ch 3 (counts as first dc).  2dc in next stitch. *dc in next stitch, 2 dc in next stitch* repeat between * * around.  Join to beg ch 3. (36 dc)

Round 4:  Ch 3 (counts as first dc).  1 dc in next stitch *2dc in next stitch, dc in next 2 stitches* repeat between * * around.  Join to beginning ch 3 and fasten off.  Weave in ends.

If you need to make extra rounds to achieve the correct size for your jar, continue following the pattern, increasing the number of dc in between the increases by 1 each round.

Applique Heart

Using red, begin with a magic circle.

Round 1:  Ch 3.  15 dc into circle.  Join to beginning ch 3.  Close magic ring.

Round 2:  Ch 3, tr, tr, tr, dc, hdc, sc, sc, ch 1, tr, ch 1, sc, sc, hdc, dc, tr, tr, tr, ch 3, sl st into the same stitch as the last tr.  Fasten off, leaving a long tail for sewing.

Shape a little with fingers and sew onto the circle already crocheted.

valentines3Small Hearts (make 2)

Using red, begin with a magic circle.

Round 1:  Ch 1.  15sc into ring.  Join to beg ch and close ring.

Round 2:  Ch 2, tr, tr, dc hdc, sc, sc, hdc, ch 1, tr, ch 1, hdc, sc, sc, hdc, dc, tr, tr, ch 2, sl st in the same stitch as the last tr.  Fasten off and weave in ends.

Chain

Using white, join with a sl st into the top of one of the smaller hearts.  Ch to desired length (enough to tie around your jar and allow the hearts to hang a little).  Sl st into the top of the second small heart.  Fasten off and weave in ends.

Finishing off

  • Glue circle with applique heart onto the lid.
  • Tie chain around the top of the jar and fix in place with a little glue if needed.
  • Cut out hearts from paper.
  • Write your 20 reasons on the hearts.
  • Fill the jar with your hearts and gift it to your loved one!

valentines1

I hope you’ve enjoyed my first pattern!  It was fun to make, and I know my husband will love it (despite that fact that he’s already seen it!).  I’d love to see your version as well!  Please share it here in the comments or on my facebook page.

White Cosmos

My first piece of the Fridas’ Flowers CAL (http://www.stylecraft-yarns.co.uk/Frida%27s+Flowers/0_CAFA122_CAFA135_CAFA139.htm) is complete! The tension still isn’t perfect but I’m going to forge ahead and see how it goes.  I love the colours in this square. The background is Stylecraft Special dk – plum.  The photo doesn’t do the rich colour justice.  However, unblocked and all, I’m quite happy with how it turned out. Now, onto block number two…….!

Frida’s Flowers

So, I have a little obsession…Stylecraft Special dk yarn.  I discovered it a year or two ago and it’s become a small problem.  The problem is, it’s really hard to get in Australia! I have to order it online from the UK and then wait for delivery. Just recently, it was on special with great shipping prices so I just had to order some…..didn’t I?  I decided that I would order the yarn to make the Fridas’ Flowers CAL.  It’s something I have been wanting to try my hand at, and it seemed like the time to try it.  So, after the interminable 2 week wait, my yarn finally arrived! I could hardly wait to get my hands on this squishy goodness and begin this beautiful afghan!

However, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing.  I began with block 1 – white cosmos. It looks beautiful but my tension was way out. After changing hook size, it was much closer but still a little small.  So, I investigated the instructions for tension and came across a really handy link about lifting, riding and yanking https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=eAvvsbdNxWU. Although I believe I am a rider already and it hasn’t fixed my tension problems, it was really interesting to learn how different crochet actions can affect your tension.  It amazes me that I can have been crocheting for so many years but still be learning new things!