crochet

‘Easy’ little crochet made me a little crochety

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On a mission to use up some of my yarn stash and recently inspired by a successful completed crochet project I decided to go for a new project/new stitch. In a magazine I found a lovely selection of ‘new’ square crochet samples and chose some that were labelled as ‘easy’, thinking once I’ve done those I could move onto ‘intermediate’. I wasn’t kidding myself that I’d be on the ‘advanced’ ones for a while though I did get carried away looking at crocheted lamp shades and toilet seat covers much to the horror of my non-crafting hubby (which look fun but will never actually be my style). However, I was stumped again. Reading a crochet pattern does just not come naturally to me. Maybe learning more crochet will just take time – is what I said to myself after Version #1. Versions #2 and #3 made me crochety, stick and cotton yarn being cast aside for a few days …

But Version #4 I stuck with and eventually I had 9 samples of #Version 4. I have no idea what am I going to do with my new piece. Perhaps it’s a mat for under a plant pot or fruit bowl? It’s not perfect, need to work on tension but the stash of my cotton yarn is now less at least! It’s a learning curve this crochet lark. I admire the skill of all the crocheters out there.

I’m a hooker

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I’ve dabbled with granny squares and decorative flowers. I’ve made a heavy weight simple blanket which I was quite proud of. But I’d never crocheted anything for myself to wear – until now. I looked back briefly and realised I’d mentioned the start of this coral top early in June, a project just started. Since then I’ve unhooked (do you say ripped as you do with knitting or unhooked?) twice totally, patient this time rather than frustrated and hot tempered. I loved the way the bamboo/cotton yarn handled, the rhythm of a hook and the way it grew quickly. However, the construction of four squares onto shoulder straps didn’t make sense on paper, probably my fault not the pattern designers. Obviously reading a crochet pattern is a challenge to be overcome, especially US vs UK terms.

So, I decided to ‘design’ a loose t-shirt style top instead . Two squares joined at the shoulder and side seams with a border around the bottom. I’m very happy with how it turned out. I wear it with a strappy top underneath for modesty and hope not to be caught out in too much sunshine without sunscreen therefore avoiding an all over dappled sun tan!

Now back to a previous and a new knitting project. Never have just one craft on the go!

What are my crafty friends out there up to?

Stashbusting and Flowers

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A couple of weeks ago I blogged about finding a mini stash of textured squares and making a little doll’s blanket. As I offered to send it to a grandma for the grand-daughters’ dolls pram it was hinted that as there was more than one grand-daughter they might fight over one new thing – I hadn’t thought of that! So, I raided the stash again and came up with doll’s blanket No 2. Now there’s one each but they may squabble over who has what colour. Am not going to make any more and I am feeling pleased there’s a little (a smidgeon, very little) less in my stash.

On the same post I had started crocheting a new cotton/bamboo top. Since then it’s been ripped back twice and redesigned. It was supposed to just be 4 big squares joined at angles and with shoulder straps, like a floaty vest. Sometimes things aren’t simple, are they? I chose the wrong pattern as I don’t think I would actually have worn it finished, plus I struggled to understand the initial stitches (that’s just my mistake UK terms vs US terms). I am happy now with the current progress and have been sitting in the shade today (so hot out there, 30degrees+) hooking and planning to add a border. Will share more than this next time hopefully. This is just my ‘design area’ .

As I sit I can see a few geraniums. It’s not a pretty spot in my garden but they brighten up that space and I can’t get a good panoramic one of the rest of the garden, lawns, trees, etc today.

And talking of flowers I felt very lucky as yesterday a neighbour’s daughter gave me a lovely bouquet as a thank you for putting her in touch with someone who has offered her a job. She felt lucky but so did I, so nice to be thanked for doing a good turn. So amongst the stresses of Covid 19 there are nice things happening. I think it’s going to be a good week.

Whilst waiting for the world to end, another yarn

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At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic it helped to be actually doing something rather than just waiting for the world to expire. The immediate shut down of the country and the curtailment of life as we knew it was a shock and amidst feeling scared and nervous creating things became urgent and necessary. I churned out one craft project after another. I finished knits, made new ones, crocheted, cut and stitched fabrics, made presents and created things to use myself right then. I indulged in my love of making things but it was also a lot about tidying up in the home, validating items, it even crossed my mind about what loved ones might have to sort out if I didn’t make it through Covid 19. I wanted to enjoy what I had whilst I was able to. I wanted others not to have to sort through half done projects and wonder what on earth I had ever planned with the bags and boxes of (in their eyes) ‘stuff’. I am not sure I even voiced this, except to myself. Days merged into one another.

As the weeks have gone by my craft progress has declined. Not gone away totally, just slowed. Making things seems less pressing. I was talking (online) to some crafting friends and most of us agreed we are all in less of a crafting frenzy. For some, trying to get back to anything resembling ‘normality’ is now more urgent. We have mostly settled into some kind of rhythm. We are all still creating – even if something is in a planning stage rather than physical. In my own house I look around the areas where I usually craft and there again are the carefree signs, half used balls of yarn, snippets of fabric, piles of things not being used and not put back in any order (yet).

One little project just finished. A baby blanket for perhaps a crib or travel seat. This became my knit to hand when I watched tv. I am still working on last week’s crochet top which is being redesigned as it progresses. More next time about that.

Please know, I am not undermining the care we all have to continue with in our daily lives, be it in the home or outside, be it no change at all for now. Stay safe.

A handful of squares

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Many years ago, possibly more than six and less than ten, I remember playing around with textures and knitting a few odd squares. I never did anything more with them and they were lost into the ether of WIPs (Works in Progress) and UFOs (Unfinished Objects) – long lost, until recently. So rediscovering a few that complimented each other, I turned them into a small blanket for a doll’s pram. There are three little girls in my extended family who weren’t even twinkles until 4 years ago and I hope one of them has a dolly who needs to keep warm on chilly days! It wasn’t an exciting new project, the squares aren’t perfect but it means one less guilt trip when I dive into the mystery cupboard of yarn and sewing projects.

Having had more time at home recently I’ve had the inclination to sort out cupboards. In the kitchen those chipped pots have been chucked, the plastic tubs now have matching lids and I have stock of store cupboard herbs and essentials. I’ve found a few things to cook that I didn’t even remember buying! I know I am amongst the many who have taken the opportunity of lockdown to take stock of many things in their lives, sorting cupboards is just a very little of it.

My enthusiasm has slowed a little, I guess the ‘novelty’ has worn off, but I am still trying to go through my craft projects and use my stash as much as possible. As I am making decisions about what to finish or abandon it has been beautifully warm here in the south east of the UK, like summer come early. I was tempted to start a new summer project and thought perhaps it was a little deserved after my sorting and stacking. If I learned something new along the way then it counted as ‘improving my mind’ and not ‘wasting my time’ and I reckon that’s ok as a little reward.

Thus, a crochet top has become a new WIP. I have patiently learned The Magic Loop. There’s been trial and error with pattern reading (US vs UK crochet terms) and keeping tension. Crochet is still quite a new hobby. This is the beginning of what I hope will become a droopy top to be worn over a summer vest.

During the coronavirus lockdown I try to think of positive things to keep busy. I value my family more, I value what we have and I think about the future, being kinder to each other. I hope others are finding similar solace.

Goody a hoodie and somewhere new to sit down

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Just showing and telling today. I am so happy to have finished this latest project. I’d almost forgotten how much extra knitting there is when you are making a hood, it felt like it went on forever! Then, there’s the button band. I have to say I love the result (complete with 5 perfect buttons sent down to me by a good friend, Tintin, love to mention you here if you are reading this!) but I was glad to be done with this one. It’s a gift for a new baby to be in the family in August – for once I am ahead of the game and am finished on time, even early! I can’t believe there’ll be two new babies this year.

I’m not certain I ‘showed and told’ about what I did with the rest of the fabric I rediscovered and made a peg bag with either. This was two weeks ago. I recovered 5 dining chair seat pads (two in this pic) and then with another complimentary fabric made another pad to complete the dining room set of chairs. I had been putting up with horrible old and stained seat cushions for years! It’s only in lockdown I actually got on with this job!

I am not sure if my mind is just going into overdrive during lockdown or it’s just I can’t settle to one thing days. I seem to be more prolific, churning out things I’ve made, but sporadically – if that makes sense. I work hard on one or two things for a few days then sit and vegetate and watch rubbish tv for a few days. Bizarre times! I am discovering half finished projects, some make it to the ‘to be finished’ pile, others are resigned to the ‘not sure’ pile and some even make it to the ‘ripped back or thrown out’ pile. I am talking knitting, sewing and crochet here. On Thursday I found another bag with two half knitted girls’ cardigans. These were only from last autumn. They’ve been ripped back and will turn into something different. When I looked at them I know why I’d stopped – just didn’t like the colour combo nor the drape of the yarn. Why do I give up so often?

Anyway, hopefully more newly created items over the next few weeks. Please come back and take a peek.

Yarn and Fabric Stash Shrinking

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I am still using goodies I have at home to make useful (and not so useful but fun) things whilst in lockdown.

I was making a knitted mermaid for a little girl in my extended family but it beat me! The original tail and the reknit of the tail were a disaster. I now have something resembling the beginnings of a 1960’s toilet roll cover (think of a dolly with a skirt, this could be the ‘dolly’ as you don’t need to see legs or tail!).

With the little girl’s birthday now looming, emergency hooking took place. I knocked up a retro crochet cushion in 2 days. Then I made a round fabric cushion pad, crocheted some flowers, appliqued the first letter of her name on a bag and ‘hey presto’ – a pretty gift without leaving the house. Though now I do have to leave the house to go and post it!

The front in more detail
And here’s the back

This week I’ve also made several face masks. Mine are the pretty ones, the men in my house requested ‘plain’. Should we all be called to wear them whilst out in public we are prepared.

My last blog post mentioned a baby hoodie on the knitting needles. I am three quarters the way along. I shall return to that tonight once I’ve had a break.

So I’ll be off for now. Things to do. More stash to attack after a P O trip and a sit in the sunshine. Byee!

Crafting an NHS rainbow, and more

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Saying ‘THANK YOU’ to the NHS

Still crafting during the lockdown? I hope you are. Here’s my something to show a little gratitude to the NHS. For those readers who know nothing about this, perhaps those not in the UK, many households are encouraging children/others to design a rainbow and hang it in their window, be it a painting, a banner, a collection of stickers, something handmade, anything bright and memorable. Mine is a wobbly attempt at crochet – I am not very proficient – but I thought there was no better time to try to improve on something. Thanks to https://www.kerryjaynedesigns.com for the free pattern.

Across the country every Thursday night at 8pm the nation stands in its streets and clap in appreciation of the NHS. I felt very proud as our family members and neighbours were out there too last night. I live very near to a major hospital, I hope they could hear us. I also know there are several healthcare workers living in the vicinity, you are all very appreciated.

Trying to not think about Covid 19 all the time, I have managed to finish one other project too. This was a stash buster of aran weight yarn (one of my promises to myself – stash bust – perfect opportunity to make inroads right now). I love the way this is constructed, from the start with a square in one corner. I hope you enjoyed seeing progress as I’ve blogged. Finally – ta dah!

That’s all for now. Looking forward to seeing what others make during this bizarre period. A little normality keeps us all sane, hopefully.

A rainbow of hope hangs in my window as the sun shines in

Are you more proactive whilst we wait this out? Is being creative part of that?

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None of us could have imagined being told, as a nation, to stay home, to stay put, to remain at a social distance, to not see our friends and families. If you think back to January, the promises of a new year, can you remember what you hoped 2020 would bring? For me it certainly wasn’t curtailment. I live with family so I have company. Some of my friends and relatives live alone and they are already feeling low without company, despite social media, despite the telephone calls, despite interaction from a distance.

Today some members of my weekly craft group took part in an online video meeting. It perked many of us up and the opportunity to say hello and to do ‘show and tell’ of latest makes made it feel a little like a ‘normal’ Thursday morning get-together over coffee.

I recently read an article from someone who’d been in lockdown elsewhere for a few weeks. He explained how for the first 2 weeks the situation was choppy to deal with, he couldn’t really settle at much, watched way too many news reports, worried an awful lot. Then he said week 3 kicked in and he began to enjoy being slowed down, became more proactive and productive, albeit inside his home, he even thought positively about days and weeks ahead.

I think in a way, I am entering my ‘week 3 zone’, if I include the week before lockdown in the UK when I was at home supporting my husband getting over an operation. I really thought I’d relax more, sit around sewing or knitting whilst he slept or rested. However, I couldn’t settle to much and crafting took a bit of a back bench, just a few knit rows here and there.

So my ‘week 3’ – there’s progress on the mermaid and the blanket. I am jumping between projects because I need good daylight for the mermaid and have to count more, whereas the blanket needs less concentration and has become my go-to for tv time.

133 rows so far and still not looking like a mermaid yet!
On the home stretch, soon to be cast off and bordered.

I have even sewn a very little – part of an ongoing hexi patchwork project – a very little, mind you! Sometimes I wish the sofa throw I am working on had remained just a cushion project…

So there’s my show and tell. Where’s yours?

Another knitting project. Too much admiration and inspiration?

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I am not ignoring what is going on, just trying to think about something else and not drive myself to an early grave through worry. In the current climate we are all very concerned about what the future holds, what is going on where we live, in our town, in our own country, where our loved ones are. We watch the news and we read online about the scale of Covid-19 and wonder what the future holds. We want to feel safe, we want others to be safe too.

There are positives to being told to stay home and for that I am thankful. Many of us are spending more quality time family time together, mine included. Although my husband was at home anyway recuperating from a planned operation my son is now at home too and we have had longer, chattier meal times, remembered past fun times, made new memories and as well have had serious mature discussions.

We’ve also had more free time, for me that usually means crafting and I consider myself very lucky. I have, of course, knitting and sewing projects already in progress. I am still enjoying them, mostly. My chevron blanket, above, is already past it’s longest row (thank goodness, that middle section grew so slowly). But, being online more in general leads me to meander to craft sites (think Ravelry.com, Pinterest, etc) and to discover more things I want/need to make! I know I am not alone with this. My usual weekly craft group is now only socially online and we are all sharing the inspirations we find and doing ‘show and tell’ on our social media platforms too.

It may look like it’s the start of a watermelon-y thing, but this is actually going to be a knitted mermaid! Pattern downloaded online from Lovecrafts.com

And then there’s the Crochet-Along I just heard about, starts next month … that could be a self-challenge as I am a very basic crocheter but given that there may be more time available maybe I should make myself learn something new? ..

And then there’s a new baby due in the family in two months, I haven’t finished the quilted baby gift yet. Top is pieced but that’s about all so far …

And then there’s another family baby due in the summer. I just saw the cutest pattern to knit a newborn hoodie and I know I have enough yarn in my stash … and another blanket pattern just took my eye …

What’s everyone else making during these troubled times to take their mind temporarily off what’s going on out there?