Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Christmas blanket

I finished my Christmas blanket at last - as a WIP, it was around for a long time. 


I used the sumptuous and squishy Debbie Bliss Rialto DK in white (001), claret (063), vintage pink (066) and willow (059) with a 4 mm hook.  


As for the pattern - easy, just traditional granny squares, five rounds, join-as-you-go.  I like to keep things fairly simple so, as you can see, it's the same colour sequence for each square. There are 108 squares in total and it measures approx. 110 x 148 cm. 


For the border I just did one row of treble clusters all the way round, followed by one row of double crochet and one row of picot (UK terms).  


As I always like to have a blanket WIP I have already started another.  I've gone for hexies this time.


Hope all is well out there ...

Jane xx

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Night and day cowl

Last year I made my stripey cowl and I've worn it alot, so I thought I would make another - same pattern, fewer colours.  For this one I used Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino (again) with a 3.5mm hook in the following colours:  mist (057), white (001), amber (066) and black (300).  I can wear this lovely yarn all day long and it doesn't itch!  


 The pattern is simple:  make 41 chain then 1 dc into the second chain from the hook and continue in dc to the end so there's 40 stitches in the row.  Turn, *make 1 chain then 1 dc into each dc to the end, turn* and continue from * to * until your scarf/cowl is long enough (mine measured 126 cm long before I joined the two short ends together and it's 22 cm wide).  There are four rows to each stripe and 16 stripes of each colour. 


The stripe sequence works as follows:  I started with mist and alternated it with white until I had 8 of each colour, then changed to amber still alternating with white until there were 16 white stripes, I then changed to black, alternating with the amber until there were 16 amber stripes, then changed to mist, alternating it with black.  Does that make sense?  Hopefully the photo helps!  


I had intended to make this for myself, but it could end up as a Christmas present - I can always make another - must remember to sew the ends in as I go along next time!   


Hope all is well out there ...

Jane x

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Bobble hearts and other shapes

I've had a bit of a thing lately with bobbly shapes.  They're really quite easy to do, all it takes is a little planning and some graph paper.  



To make this little bobble heart I drew my basic shape.  When working out your shape you need to remember that you need a double crochet (UK terms) after each bobble and a row of double crochet in between rows of bobbles, so on the diagram below each shaded square represents a bobble and each white square represents a double crochet.  



To make good sturdy bobbles, I always make them from the wrong side - sounds a bit odd, but this way they don't try to pop themselves inwards.  So to make a bobble start by making a treble crochet but don't finish it - leave two loops on the hook; make three more half-finished trebles into the same stitch and you should then have five loops on the hook, yarn over and draw all five loops through.  When you double crochet into the next stitch it will anchor the bobble.  

You can do all sorts of shapes, provided you keep them reasonably simple.  





 My hot water bottle cover was worked in the same way only with a bigger heart.  The colour change for the bobbles looks more ambitious than it really is. 


And that's it!  All you need to do is make sure you keep count, so probably best not to watch the scything episode of Poldark while you're working your shapes.  

Hope all is well out there ...

Jane xx



Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Experiments in bobbles and yarn

I really enjoy making bobbly crochet so, since the big bobble blanket and the baby bobble blanket were finished, I've been experimenting a bit with a couple of squares to make more but slightly different bobbly blankets.  I had a couple of ideas, the first being a flower square, and ended up with this - the Tulip Square:


I think they look vaguely like tulips and I want to do some detail in the corners which will form another pattern when the squares are joined together - something simple, which should be easy enough. I'm having more trouble in deciding what colour to go for (that happens to me alot), but I have managed to decide that it will be all one colour.  

The second is a snowflake.  No worries about colour here, just white I think. 


Unlike the Tulip Square this one is worked back and forth and I can't decide whether to make squares and join them or make one large piece with snowflakes dotted around. This one is going to take a bit more planning but I'm really pleased with it so far.  


The last make is an experiment in yarn using an old pattern.  I made my bobbly coasters like the one above a while ago now and wanted to make a much larger and more chunky tablemat, so the same pattern with two strands of dk yarn and one strand of lace altogether came out like this:



I'm pleased with the effect the three strands together produced.  Right, that's my brain exercised for the year!  

Hope all is well out there ...

Jane xx


Friday, 1 July 2016

Sluggish

All was not well in the Flowerhouse garden last week. The slimy slug army came, saw and conquered and my runner beans fell - spectacularly.  The borlottis also lost the battle.  I sowed more even though it was a bit late but, as my mum says, "you never know your luck until your braces break".  Another blow was dealt when I discovered that biological warfare had been declared in the greenhouse in the form of tomato blight.  But although the vegetables are looking sorry for themselves, the flowers have been holding their own.  



"Oh well, look on the bright side, it's my birthday this week", I thought - but I woke up on my birthday only to discover that we'd left the EU; it's not what I voted for so naturally I was disappointed, well gutted actually, but I told myself that we live in a democracy and we are fortunate to have the chance to choose the path we would like to take.  The TV interviews in which people were saying that they had regretted voting to leave, or that they didn't know that we would actually be leaving, or that they didn't know which way to vote so they voted leave were slightly worrying - are they feeling regrexit?  Then, after a game of football, we (or England at least) had managed to leave Europe twice in one week - that's got to be a one-off.  

It's not all bad, I've been garden visiting at Sissinghurst and Perch Hill with my dear friend Gill over the last week.  Standing in the beautiful white garden at Sissinghurst or in Sarah Raven's famous cutting garden at Perch Hill, I felt as though I had been given a great big floral hug - just the job.  


The cutting garden, Perch Hill

The white garden, Sissinghurst

And, it seems that my braces haven't broken just yet:  as I drove home last week I saw a sign outside someone's house that said "runner bean plants for sale".  



A second chance.  

Hope all is well out there ...

Jane xx


PS:  I've just realised how weedy and untidy my garden looks!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Celebration

May was a month of celebration for us.  The first was a new baby in the family, a little girl born on May 10th.  Mother and baby are doing well, baby is beautiful and my sister is over the moon at being a granny for the first time.  Obviously I set about making a baby blanket, simple white bobbles with a pink edge. 


It's a smaller version of the chunky bobble blanket I made a few weeks ago.  


This time I started with a chain of 94 and used Patons merino extrafine DK - 7 balls in white (101) and 1 ball in tea rose (136).  The pattern for the bobble sequence and edging can be found here.


The other reason to celebrate was our 25th wedding anniversary.  This came as a bit of a shock: (a) it doesn't seem like we've been married 25 years and (b) I always thought that celebrating silver wedding anniversaries was something that old people did.  We're going on a little holiday to mark the occasion, we just haven't decided where yet - Italy is the favourite as we spent our honeymoon in Venice.


Hope all is well out there ...

Jane x

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Hangin'

Since finishing the big bobble blanket I've been concentrating on smaller things and something I've been wanting to have a go at is to crochet covers for some of my clothes hangers - there's nothing like having hangers to match your clothes (yes, clearly I don't have enough things to fill my day!). 



They were easy enough to do, although the annoying thing about the hangers I have is that you can't unscrew the hook, so I had to crochet the long sides of the cover together once it was on the hanger; I had hoped to crochet the long sides together, slide the hanger in, stitch the short ends and screw the hook in after. 

Anyway, I used DK yarn and a 3.5mm hook and this is how I made my covered hangers (written in UK terms):
  • Make 13 ch in your main colour
  • Row 1: 1 dc into second ch from hook, then 1 dc into each st to end, 1 ch and turn
  • Row 2:  1 dc into each stitch to end, 1 ch and turn
  • Continue as for Row 2 until you have 86 rows
  • Work 1 row of dc all the way around to neaten the edges
  • Find the centre of your crochet and thread the hanger hook through
  • Dc the two long sides together and stitch the two short sides
  • For the white picot edge, join yarn to the first dc, ch 1 then dc into the same st 
  • Ch 4 and ss into the first of these four ch *1 dc into each of the next three sts, ch 4 and ss into the first of these four ch*
  • Repeat from * to * to the last picot
  • Work the last picot as you have all the others, anchoring it with a ss at the end.  Sew in ends. 

I'm pleased with how these turned out and they're a great way to use up odd bits of yarn.  I used Sublime extra fine merino dk in powderpuff (304), holiday (350) and salty (010) and for the white picot edge I used Debbie Bliss rialto dk in white (001).  The hangers I bought in Ikea.  


Hope all is well out there ...

Jane x



Saturday, 9 April 2016

Basket making

Well, not in the usual sense.  I'd love to be able to make rustic wicker baskets but that's another course for another time, if ever; I would imagine it takes heaps of practice.  Meanwhile, I thought I'd have a go at a crochet one.  Mine's worked with a 4mm hook in Rowan softknit cotton:  3 x flint (595), 1 x willow (587) and 1 x white (588) and here's how to do it:  

  • Start by making a magic circle with 6 dc before pulling tight
  • Round 1:  2 dc in each st (you should now have 12 sts).  You may find it useful to use a stitch marker at the beginning of each row from now on as the whole basket is worked in a spiral and it becomes harder to keep count as your base gets bigger
  • Round 2:  1 dc in the first st, 2 dc in next st, *1 dc in next st, 2 dc in next st, repeat from * to end (18 sts)
  • Round 3:  1 dc in first 2 sts, 2 dc in next st, *1 dc in next 2 sts, 2 dc in next st, repeat from * to end (24 sts)
  • Round 4:  1 dc in first 3 sts, 2 dc in next st, *1 dc in next 3 sts, 2 dc in next st, repeat from * to end (30 sts)
  • Round 5:  1 dc in first 4 sts, 2 dc in next st. *1 dc in next 4 sts, 2 dc in next st, repeat from * to end (36 sts)
  • Keep working in this way, increasing the size of your base by adding 1 more stitch between the increase stitches (the 2 dcs) in each round until you reach the size you want (1 did 18 rounds).




  • To build up the sides just continue without increasing until you reach the desired height.
  • There are all sorts of possibilities for edging but, plain Jane that I am, I just decided to finish with 2 rounds each of a different colour and that's it.



The Rowan softknit cotton is just that, soft, and I found that the higher the basket got the more floppy it became, hence the rolled down top in the photo below (I quite like it like that though), so if you want more stand-up you will need to work it in something with a little more oomph.  I thought string might be good but I'm not sure my fingers would be quite so keen - I might try and see how far I get.


Hope all is well out there ...
Jane x




Friday, 25 March 2016

Big bobble beast

Here it is, the big bobble beast.  My biggest and most tactile blanket to date.  It was fairly quick to make - I started it about 4 weeks' ago.  I wanted something thick and chunky and warm, although it probably won't get any immediate use now that we're well into spring!  



The finished blanket measures 164 x 160 cm and is just wide enough to cover our king size bed. For the main body of the blanket I used 24 balls of Stylecraft Special Chunky in Parchment with a 6mm hook.  



I'm not great at writing patterns but here's a rough guide on how to make it (it's written in UK terms and assumes you know how to make a bobble) 

(Edited 21/11/16) If you want to know more about making bobbles and bobble patterns click here
  • Make a foundation chain of 178 sts then work four rows of dc, working 1 ch before turning at the end of each row. 
  • For the first bobble row work 4 dc then make the first bobble, then work 5 dc before making the next bobble and so on, working 5 dc between each bobble to the end and finishing the row with 4 dc after the last bobble.  
  • Work 3 rows of dc.
  • For the second bobble row work 7 dc, make the first bobble, work 5 dc before making the next bobble and so on, working 5 dc between each bobble to the end and finishing the row with 7 dc after the last bobble.  
  • Repeat these two bobble rows (with the 3 rows of dc in between them) until your blanket is the size you want, working 4 rows of dc after the very last bobble row.


Because the blanket is quite busy with bobbles I opted for a simple crab stitch edging in a contrasting colour.  To neaten the sides I worked a row of dc all around the blanket in the Parchment, working 3dc into the corners to keep the square shape, then I went round in dc again in Stylecraft Special Chunky Graphite before working the final round in crab stitch in the same colour (1 ball was just about enough).  


I love these bobbles and I like the dimples they make on he wrong side almost as much!


Happy Easter!


Hope all is well out there ...
Jane x

Monday, 14 March 2016

Up and down

It's been a strange few weeks, mostly centred around our very poorly dog.  She's had major abdominal surgery due to a thing called bloat, which hits deep-chested dogs but nobody really knows why.  It's quite rare, but unfortunately for Flora not rare enough.  The surgery has made things better for her but she will still be on special diets and drugs for the rest of her life. The baby grow that she's wearing was to stop her nibbling her stitches and was so much better than one of those awful cones.



In amongst all the anxiety we hit a milestone - Alice's 21st birthday.  To celebrate she wanted to go and see the Lion King in London so that's what we did and it was fabulous.  We had seen it before in its first year, but back then Alice was only about 5 and slept through most of it.



Birthdays always have a cake and this one was quite fun to make, although my cake decorating skills are a little dodgy to say the least. 



I started a new blanket project because, well, you can never have too many blankets.  It's chunky, bobbly and big - intended for our king size bed - and has worked up fairly quickly; I'm only about 3 balls of Stylecraft special chunky from completion and am already thinking about the next one, taking a break from bobbles this time and going spotty, but more about that next time maybe. 



Meanwhile, hope all is well out there ...
Jane x

Thursday, 28 January 2016

A silver-dipped diamond and a bobble-heart hottie

Christmas seems to have gone in a flash and here we are nearly at February. Before Christmas and before I became distracted with making dinky santa socks and angel wings, I started two projects (to add to all the others) which, hooray, I've now finished.

For the silver-dipped diamond cushion I used Debbie Bliss mia (a 50/50 wool/cotton mix) in white (001) and silver (022). 



Pleased with the effect of the bobble diamond I decided to have a go at a bit of bobble tapestry on a hottie cover (little bit obsessed by bobbles at the moment). It's worked in Rowan softknit cotton in dark lime (579) and cream (570). It was easier to do than I first thought, I just used the water bottle as a pattern, increasing and decreasing where necessary to follow the shape.  



I loved both these yarns, I will definitely use the DB mia again and the Rowan softknit is just that - ideal for a cuddly water bottle. Both the cushion and hottie were worked in three pieces (the front and two back pieces), in order to make an envelope opening so they can be removed for washing.  

More bobble projects to come I think, especially the tapestry; now I've got the hang of it there's no stopping.

Hope all is well out there ...

Jane x