Saturday, 21 December 2013

In which I start a snuggly blanket just for me

I have finished several blankets in recent weeks, all for other people. The weather so far has been stormy but mild, but as we head towards the coldest part of the winter, I thought it was time I made a blanket just for me.

I have several big fat balls of James C. Brett Marble Chunky. This is a yarn which comes in lovely variegated colours and works up into a nice soft fabric. I'm making another corner-to-corner using this pattern. I was really pleased with the one I made for my Dad and I've noticed from looking at blankets that other people have made that it shows off a variegated yarn really well.

This is the yarn that I'm using and though I only started today, I have already produced a satisfyingly large triangle. It's a really easy pattern and will be something soothing to work on over Christmas and won't take much concentration. Ideal for these dark days when I'm not at my best and sometimes feel that I'm functioning on only half a brain.

Yarn for my corner-to-corner blanket

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Ta da! Finished just in time!

This is the sixth blanket I've completed this year and the second rainbow ripple. Like the darker, rainbow coloured one, this is to be a Christmas present. I have to admit that I'm really not a big fan of pink, but our little granddaughter (almost 7 years old) is mad on it, so it should match her room.

Pink rainbow ripple blanket

I started this blanket back in July, but more urgent projects kept bumping it down the To Make List and then there was a hiatus when I ran out of the lilac and couldn't find more yarn of exactly the same colour. I never did find the absolutely perfect match, but I finally found one that was near enough and as it was only for the narrow lilac band at the point where the dark purple starts, I think it looks fine.

Anyway, the pink rainbow ripple finally reached the status of Most Urgent Project and I've been spending all my crocheting time on it. I finished it yesterday and just have the last few ends to weave in today, ready to wrap it and take it with me when I go to meet our son and daughter tomorrow.

This is all the purple yarn I had left! I was afraid I was going to run out, because though I do have plenty of purple, it's not quite the same purple, but I made it with just a metre or two to spare.

All that was left!

With all the urgent projects completed, I can take stock and see what to work on next. There are a couple more WIPs to finish and a few experimental things to either complete or abandon, but in the new year I want to start some new projects, in particular some sweaters and cardigans for me. Oh, and a couple of Happypotamuses and a Fatty Lumpkin. And what about... and there's always... (wanders off muttering and scheming what yarn to buy next)...

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Ta da! And now the rainbow ripple is completed

Because of unexpectedly getting a teaching job in September, after more or less deciding to consider myself retired, my crocheting time has been much more limited. In the summer, thinking that I had plenty of time to fill with useful activities, I optimistically started a number of projects, but though progress obviously slowed right down, it hasn't halted. In fact I'm finding that crocheting while listening to radio programmes is a great way of relaxing my brain after working on something intensely intellectual, like learning up new stuff for my courses or putting together teaching materials and lesson plans.

This is the latest project to reach completion. It's a rainbow ripple blanket and will be a Christmas present for our grandson. I hope he likes it. His sister already has her own blanket that I finished earlier this year. Rainbow ripple blanket

The other things that I had hoped to make for Christmas will have to be crocheted through next year and given as birthday and un-birthday presents, though I have another rainbow ripple in pink, purple and white that almost complete and which is intended for our granddaughter. It's not a colour scheme I would like for myself, but she is at the Everything Must Be Pink stage at the moment. :)

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Ta da! The mitred granny square blanket is complete

I finished the border and so I can now post a photo of the completed mitred granny square blanket. I'm really pleased with how it's come out and it's lovely and warm around my knees when I settle down in the evening to watch TV. :)

And now this is finished, I just have to crack on with the two rainbow ripples that are for Christmas presents and then I can take stock and decide what my next WIP will be. I still want to make a corner-to-corner blanket for myself, but I also want to try making a cardigan. Ooooh... Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Meanwhile, here is the completed blanket.

Mitred granny square blanket

Friday, 22 November 2013

Another blanket nearly finished

I intended this blanket as part of the decor for staging my Dad's bungalow for sale. It looks like it won't be needed for that after all, so it will be my blanket sooner than I thought.

Anyway, all the squares are joined together, most of the ends have been woven in and I'm busy crocheting the border.

I used a join as you go method of attaching the squares together which is similar to this one. I actually did it as part of the final granny cluster border, rather than as a separate joining round, but I think it makes a really firm join with no gaps. As the blanket is going to be an every day snuggling on the sofa blanket, I wanted something robust. It does create a slight ridge, but I decided that I liked the effect -- a feature rather than a bug. :) I would definitely use this method again as it's less tedious than sewing. The only downside is that you need to know the arrangement of the squares in advance. It won't work with the sort of project where you want to find the best arrangement for the squares once they're all complete.

Mitred granny square blanket

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Something I'll be making for me!

I have made several small blankets for other people recently, so I thought it was about time I made one for me. I've unravelled a couple of items that I made with a view to selling, but which no one bought. I also visited my lovely local wool shop to add a few more colours to the mix.

I plan to start crocheting a corner-to-corner blanket some time this week using this James C. Brett Marble Chunky. It's acrylic, so it will be very practical for an everyday snuggling blanket, but it's very soft too and comes in a variety of wonderful colours.

Yarn for my corner-to-corner blanket

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

I seem to have another WIP!

I am trying not to start new projects willy nilly and instead have a strict, 'one out, one in' policy, but I did finish the gloves and quite a few of my other big projects are at the 90% completion point, so I thought I could sneak in another smaller and quicker one.

I'm making this pattern up, based on an idea inspired by a photo posted to the Facebook crochet group I belong to. Basically, it will be a border of Japanese flower motifs around a rectangle of filet crochet. I've never done filet crochet before, so I hope it turns out easy to do.

So far I have just one completed flower (to make sure they looked OK) and six centres. The yarn is James C Brett's Cotton On, which is nice to work with and comes in many pretty colours.

Crochet table centre piece

This will be a table runner for Dad’s dining room table while the bungalow is being viewed by potential buyers. After that, I’ll find a home for it in our house, perhaps on the TV table?

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Ta da! Fingerless gloves are finished

Even with my limited crochet time, these simple fingerless gloves only took a few days. They made a nice little project that was both easy to do and quick to finish. It gave me a sense of achievement in the midst of several big projects. It used up some yarn left over from making a couple of blankets and they should keep my hands nice and warm too. A big win all round. :) Ta da! Attic24 wrist warmers And now I must toddle into town to the Spar to buy milk, a jar of curry sauce and some sort of cake or pie for desert. I didn't feel like doing a proper shop today and I had some beef in the freezer which will work nicely in a curry. Another working week starts tomorrow. I've still not quite got used to being constrained to a fixed schedule after 5 years of being able to work more or less as and when suited me, but it's beginning to feel more natural. After all, I've worked outside the home for long enough in the past.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

After finishing two blankets in fairly quick succession -- certainly quick for me! -- I have sneaked in a quick little project in the form of Attic24's Striped Wristlets.

The weather is getting colder, but normal gloves are awkward when it comes to using mobile phones and cameras. I do have a pair of fingerless gloves I bought a year or so ago, but they shrank when I threw them in the washing machine. I bought them in Accessorise and thought they were acrylic, but then ended up child-size!

So here is my latest WIP. I almost finished one glove yesterday, just crocheting in short breaks between brushing up my knowledge of CSS to teach to my students. Colour choice is due to me using up yarn from the blanket I made for my Dad.

Attic 24 simple wrist warmer in progress

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

As I think I've mentioned here before, until a few weeks ago, I thought I was more or less retired and had started lots of crochet projects to keep myself occupied. I then uttered the fateful words, (in relation to clearing and decorating Dad's bungalow so we can put it on the market), "I'm not working now. I don't have anything particular to do. I can take it on as my project." Unfortunately for all my free time, the universe was listening and totally out of the blue, found a teaching job for me. Though it's part-time, with just 10 hours of teaching a week, because I haven't taught any of the courses before, it's taking hours each week to get up to speed with the topics, prepare lesson plans and prepare presentations and handouts. I was determined not to abandon the crochet, however, because I find it very soothing, though obviously progress slowed right down and I've had to re-think all the things I wanted to make for Christmas presents. I will still make them, but I'll forget about deadlines and do them as random gifts throughout the year instead. Anyway, here is the latest completed project, which is a lap blanket for my Dad. Dad's corner-to-corner blanket Dad's corner-to-corner blanket

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Sudden changes

I have sadly neglected my crochet blog because life has suddenly taken off in an unexpected direction. I was doing so little online tutoring work that I had more or less decided to consider myself retired and I was focusing on the crochet to give me a new purpose in life.

Well... Completely out of the blue, I was offered 9 hours teaching at the local college. Fortunately it's less then 10 minutes walk away -- I don't think I could cope with a long commute these days! -- but even so, it's tiring to be teaching face-to-face again after so much tutoring at a distance. I'm loving it though. It's a challenge because I've never taught these particular courses before, so whilst the subject matter is fine, some of it is a bit rusty and I also need to get to grips with the exam rules and regulations, not to mention all the admin systems. But things are starting to calm down now I'm nearing the end of my second week. Some of the initial learning curve is behind me. I have students! I have a code to use the photocopiers, I know where my classrooms are, I have access to Moodle (the online place where you put course resources). From now on I can focus on planning and delivering lessons... and I finally have time to think about crochet again.

Here is the mitred granny square blanket that I started at the beginning of the month. All the coloured squares are done and I'm in the process of using the granny Join As You Go method to attach the squares together as I crochet the white border. As I have all the ends to weave in as well, it's slow going, but it's wonderfully relaxing to sit listening to a radio play and crochet after a day working in academia.

Joining the squares

Saturday, 10 August 2013

My WIPs are progressing

Well, three out of my four main Works In Progress are progressing nicely. One rainbow ripple blanket is stuck because I ran out of the lilac coloured yarn and have been having difficulty finding another ball of it. With luck it should soon be unstuck because finally, yesterday, I realised that the reason I couldn't find the right colour was because I had mis-remembered the brand. I thought it was Robin acrylic DK, but a sudden inspiration led me to check the King Cole DK colours. And there it was! At least I hope this is finally the right colour. I've ordered it from Abakhan, along with some handbag handles because I want to make a fat-bottomed granny square bag.

But not until I have finished some more of my ongoing projects.

Meanwhile, the rainbow coloured rainbow ripple is in the final stages, my Dad's lap blanket is trundling on and my Snowdrop Shawl (which I will be doing shawlette sized) is looking really beautiful. I absolutely love the way the colour changes are looking.

WIP Snowdrop shawl

Friday, 19 July 2013

Goodness! We seem to be having a proper summer.

The words "too" and "hot" don't often feature in a sentence describing Welsh weather -- not even in the summer. According to the radio news, it's been seven years since we had temperatures like this for more than the odd, isolated day. Anyway, I refuse to complain about it because a decent summer has been a long time coming and it might be another seven years before we get another one!

It should really boost our tourist trade and help the local hotels, restaurants and cafes.

Meanwhile the crocheting problem I've been having is that it's too hot to do much work on the main WIP, namely the rainbow ripple I'm making as one of the Christmas presents for family. (Yes, I know Christmas is a long way off, but I'm not a fast crocheter and I have quite a few things I want to make this year.)

It's coming along well, especially as I only started it just over a week ago.

Rainbow ripple blanket

The occasional round is just about manageable by resting the bulk of the blanket on the keyboard shelf of the computer desk, where I sit in front of the open window with a slightly cross-draft created by opening the window on the landing. But handling so much crocheted blanket eventually gets too much, so I have also been doing some work on another WIP.

Simple filet crochet starburst squares

This project can take as long as it likes because it's just a blanket for me to keep in the car. I intend to use on picnics or if I have to sit waiting for my husband on cold days. I've been popping all the remnants of yarn used for other projects into these storage jars and whenever I get a moment, I'm making these simple filet crochet starburst squares.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Crocheting alfresco

As my husband had to go to Llandudno on college business yesterday, I volunteered to drive him there and while he attended the students' graduation ceremony, I took the opportunity to sit on the sea front in glorious sunshine and did quite a bit of crocheting.

Llandudno promenade

I've never crocheted in public before, but most people took no notice. One woman passerby did comment. She admired the blanket I was making and said that she used to crochet when she was young, but had tried again recently and found she'd forgotten how. We chatted for a minute or two and then she went on her way. I was left pondering what she had said. For me that kind of skill doesn't disappear, at least not totally. It might get rusty and I might find that it takes a while me to get the fluency and ease back, but the basics never go. Perhaps it depends on how much you did when you first learned?

Anyway, I made good progress on the rainbow ripple blanket, which now looks like this...

Rainbow ripple in progress

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Rainbow ripple blanket

I was supposed to be starting the baby blanket with the Cotton On yarn I bought recently, but I was looking at people's projects on the Creative Crochet Facebook group and my eye fell on the lovely pointy rainbow ripple blankets. I investigated my stash of yarn and realised that I had some suitable double knitting that had been bought to make... well, I must have bought it with something in mind, but I haven't a clue as to what it was. Anyway, I think there will be enough to make a couple of these ripple blankets and they will do nicely as part of the Christmas presents I plan to give to the offspring.

The original pattern says they're baby blankets, but the beauty of them is that you can just keep on crocheting until it's the size you want, so I'll do them a bit larger so they can be used as picnic blankets.

Here is the start of the first one. It goes so quickly that I'm already well past this stage now and onto the second colour, but I'll post further progress next week.

Beginning the rainbow ripple blanket

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Finally finished the baby blanket!

I have finally finished the blanket I was crocheting for our youngest grandchild. It was supposed to be a gift for when the baby was born, but I didn't manage to finish it until last weekend. I handed it over on Tuesday and our granddaughter seemed to like it. As she is now 11 months old (oops!), you can see that it took a lot longer than I intended.

The problem was, not only did crocheting the squares create a lot of ends to weave in, but every stage after that created what felt like another 9 million ends. :( There was joining the squares together. There were the ears to put on, and the mouths to crochet and the eyes to embroider.

The other reason it took a long time was that it's the project that got me back into crocheting. My skills were rusty and I've probably speeded up now, more than twelve months on from when I started this.

In the photo below the completed blanket is on the left. Top right picture shows a close up of the funny faces after blocking. Bottom right shows the squares just after completing. You can see how much better the ears and faces look after being pulled into shape and gently steamed. However, I suspect that after the blanket has been thoroughly cuddled and sucked on, the ears are not going to stay flat for very long!

In case anyone is interested, here is the original pattern I used, which is a free download on Ravelry. As the blanket was going to be for a baby, I didn't add the bows shown on the Ravelry page. I also crocheted the ears directly onto the blanket, rather than making them separate and sewing them on. I don't trust my sewing not to come adrift. Also, I'm not as good at embroidering the features as the designer of the pattern, but I think they'll do. :)

Funny face crochet blanket

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

One project finished, yarn acquired for the next project

I have finally finished the blanket for my youngest grandchild. It took somewhat longer than intended. I had planned to give it as a gift to mark the birth, but I finally handed it over yesterday -- and our little granddaughter is now 11 months old! Oops! :)

Anyway, she seemed to like it and because I did it large cot sized, not newborn crib sized, she still has time to get lots of use out of it.

As it was the first serious project I tackled in my return to crochet after many years of not doing any kind of handicrafts, I wasn't sure how much yarn it would take. I therefore bought some, used it up and then bought more. This meant that when it was finished, I had used up just about all the coloured yarn, but still had a lot of white left. Enough for another project, in fact, but I didn't want to do something that was entirely white.

It just so happens that I'm down in South Wales for a few days while my husband attends a maths education conference. Today I went exploring Newport and found the wonderful Victorian indoor market. It still seems to be thriving today, with proper butchers' stalls and greengrocers' stalls -- and a wool stall! So I now have some more balls of coloured cotton/acrylic to add to the white.

Now I just have to decide what to make next...

More crochet yarn

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Showing off my first completed Tunisian crochet project

Here it is! The completed iPod case done in Tunisian crochet using acrylic double knitting.

The knitted case I've been using until today can go in the wash and from now on, I can rotate them so neither need get grubby.

I'm pleased to say that the set of proper Tunisian crochet hooks, complete with long plastic tails, arrived yesterday, so now I've mastered the basics, I can attempt my first large project.

As you can see, I use the iPod as an ereader and I'm currently reading Annabel Scheme by Robin Sloane.

New iPod case

Thursday, 27 June 2013

My first proper Tunisian crochet WIP

When I bought my iPod Touch a few years ago, I kntted a little case for it. That case desperately needs a wash, but I needed another case to keep the iPod safe from scratches while the original was laundered. I have finally got around to making a replacement as a way of practising the Tunisian crochet that I learned how to do yesterday.

The day has been wet and dreary, so it was very pleasant to sit in my study listening to Hercule Poirot on the BBC website while crocheting something useful.

First proper Tunisian crochet WIP

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Learning a new form of crochet

Until a few months ago, I didn't even know there was such a thing as Tunisian crochet, but I saw it mentioned on the Creative Crochet Crew Facebook group and I was intrigued. As I had an Amazon gift voucher still left over from Christmas, I decided to treat myself to a couple of books and a set of the special hooks that you need.

Of course everything arrived in the wrong order!

The first thing to arrive was Kim Guzman's Tunisian Crochet Stitch Guide, which of course made no sense to me whatsoever because Tunisian crochet is very different to ordinary crochet.

The second thing to arrive was Ultimate Beginner's Guide To Tunisian Crochet, also by Kim Guzman. I looked at it. I wanted to get started right away -- but I only had ordinary crochet hooks. So I improvised. :) A small rubber band wrapped tightly around the end of the hook prevented the stitches falling off and I could try my first piece of Tunisian crochet.

First attempt at Tunisian crochet

Here is my entire output of Tunisian crochet to date. As you can see, I kept losing and gaining stitches! The sides wend their way in and out. It's like being 7 all over again and learning to knit. :)

First attempt at Tunisian crochet

Anyway, after doing this practice piece, though I wouldn't say that I have mastered Tunisian crochet yet, I think I'm ready to try making something using this new (to me) technique.

Now I just need the proper hooks so I can do things that are more than 15-20 stitches wide...

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Labels are so useful

When I first had a freezer, as well as buying ready-frozen foods, I used to freeze leftovers to use another time. For some reason, I was always sure that I would remember what it was. Quite why it took me so long to work out that after a few weeks I couldn't remember whether the bag of brown stuff was curry or bolognese sauce, I don't know, but after eating too many meals of curry with spaghetti or (even worse because it's very bland!) bolognese with rice, I finally learned to label the packages. Well, I've just had the same revelation with regard to crochet. When I only had only one project on the go at a time, it was fine. Everything -- yarn, pattern, WIP and hook -- all lived together in some sort of bag. But I now I'm more serious about crochet, I have a few things in progress at once. As some are using the same type of yarn, they need the same size of hook, so the hook no longer always stays with the project. I did try writing on the pattern which yarn and hook size I was using, but after someone suggested it on the Creative Crochet Crew Facebook group, I've now started adding a little cardboard tag to the work itself. It's just a bit of left over card with a hole punched in it and a bit of yarn to attach it to the WIP. So simple! Now I won't end up agonising over which hook I should be using when I pick up a project again after leaving it for a few weeks in order to finish something else. Simple crochet tag

Sunday, 16 June 2013

My current WIP

Well, it's one of my current WIPs. :) I do have several things on the go, but this is the one that currently has top priority. As you can see, the striped ripple lap blanket for my Dad is coming along nicely. It grows quickly, which is very satisfying and it's tempting to do "just one more stripe", even when I really ought to be doing something else. Attic24 ripple blanket WIP

Friday, 14 June 2013

Yarn for my next crochet project

I've just finished crocheting another skull scarf (in green this time) which should shortly be going off to the person who asked me to make it. I'm now moving on to my next project, which is a ripple-striped lap blanket for my Dad. (I'm using the Attic24 smooth ripple pattern and I'm loving it!) It will be a combined birthday and father's day present. I'm using these colours. I'd prefer something brighter, but I think these will suit an elderly man better. He is 92 after all!

My next crochet project