Category Archives: Crochet

A Beginner’s Crochet Adventures: Upcycled Yarn Bowl

Yarn bowls are undoubtedly things of beauty. Wooden bowls to hold a ball of yarn, with a cut-out channel to feed the yarn. Like this one…

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And this one too…image

I’d love one. But I have to stay within a budget. Maybe I can drop hints in time for Christmas!

In the meantime I could do with a way to keep to tame my yarn.  In the best efforts up-cycling, decide to make my own and chop the bottom off a soft drinks bottle.

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Not nearly as pretty, but cheap and comes without any guilt over felling trees. Question is….does it work?

No and yes. The top edge is rough and catches the yarn occasionally.  I’ll resolve this, either sandpaper or a strip of electrical tape folded over the top should do the trick.

The bowl is unstable, it’s too lightweight and falls off the table.  I wonder how I could add weight to the base, but find a much easier resolution.  Grip it gently between my feet.

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I’ve no trouble at all now with the bowl tipping over, I hook away to my hearts content!
But, there will be days when I want to curl up on the sofa and can’t grip it with my feet…maybe there’s still a place for a special Christmas present yet eh?

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A Beginner’s Crochet Adventures: A delightful stress!

My office friends have cottoned on to my crocheting.   I’m getting requests from them, and I’m more than happy to oblige!  I love the sense of sharing and the interest they show. And I’m flattered, if the truth be known! Perhaps I can start an office crochet revolution?

Despite the stunning late warm summer in Wales, autumn will be with us soon and thoughts turn to autumn events.  November has many I’m sure, but here are the two that I’m crocheting for – Movember and Remembrance Sunday.

I work in a college, and although my office is entirely girls, there are an increasing number of men who take part in Movember.  The campaign is aimed at men and women, but other than a cash donation its quite difficult for us girls to show our support. Moustaches are fashionable again (at least pictures of them are all over jumpers, bags etc) and the girls in the office would love a moustache of their own..and here’s where my crochet requests come in.  Could I crochet a moustache for all of us?  I’ve no idea, I’ve never tried but I’m definitely up for it!  

Ravelry has given me plenty of inspiration.  

This chunky 3D moustache from Joyce Overheul.  You can find it here

 http://bit.ly/1AlSMFU

 

Or this super curly one from a serious looking Sheena Wong.  You can find this one here: 

http://bit.ly/1qrJ045

My second November event is Remembrance Sunday. And I’m afraid I rather bought this one on myself.

This proper paper poppy is by Crafty Mama Sanchez, pattern here: 

http://bit.ly/1pDoSXs

I spent one lunchtime crocheting this pattern.  Naturally, everybody loves it and now I’ll make one for all my office girls.

Mama Sanchez also has a blog which is worth checking out.

http://bit.ly/WyR0UY

Happy crocheting times are ahead for me, as well as ploughing on with Ripple Blanket!

A Beginner’s Crochet Adventures:The Ripple Blanket Grows

After nearly two weeks,  I’ve reached another crochet milestone. My work now includes every one of the fifteen colours.

I’m surprised how different colours of the same yarn can feel so different,  some are thin and have a slight sheen, others are thick and fluffy, others split easily, others slide smoothly under my hook and yet others seem to grip my little finger like a baby chimpanzee!

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A Beginner’s Crochet Adventures: The Ripple Blanket Progresses

I never have thought that crochet could take over my life, but suddenly I’ve had to get a big storage box to keep everything in!

It was Bank holiday Monday, I set the whole day aside to start my ripple blanket, carefully re-read the pattern, check my hook size and get started.

Some kind friends on google plus have given me tons of support (thanks girls!) and plenty of advice.  One piece of advice in particular, turned out to be spookily spot on, the type of advice that only comes from having been in the same situation yourself.  “Don’t worry about ripping out the first row several times, to get it right”.

I am amazed about the length of the initial chain, but began to hook away at the foundation row.  Four trebles, two increases; four trebles, two decreases. Repeat. It’s a simple enough pattern, what can possibly go wrong?  Quite a lot as it turns out, but nothing completely disastrous.

Two hours after picking up my hook, I came to the end of the first row…finishing on a decrease?  That’s not right! I don’t feel too bad, to be honest, I never expected to get it right first try.  The only way to track down the error is to count carefully from the beginning, but I am pretty disappointed to find I’ve gone wrong about 8 inches only from the start.  “Ho Hum, I have the whole day to work on this, so just relax and enjoy it” 

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So I rip out virtually the whole of the foundation row and try again.  Another two hours later, the inevitable happen – one stitch out!!! Aargh!  And the peaks and troughs of the ripples don’t line up 😦 See stitch markers below)

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I’m physically and emotionally shattered.  Hours of work with nothing to show for it.  Sweat isn’t exactly dripping off me, but I feel like I’ve been physically working hard and I’m tiring fast.

I re-evaluate what I want to achieve.  Although if I’m really honest, I can’t face starting from scratch again and needed to justify that to myself.

  • Do I need a perfect blanket? No, it won’t go on sale on etsy, it’s just for me and my family to snuggle under while we watch TV
  • Do I need that sense of having progressed and achieved something? Yes, I would be heartbroken to spend an entire day crocheting and only have a long chain to show for it. As a beginner I need to keep my confidence high
  • Can I work out a fix around my errors – yes, and that is a genuinely valuable part of learning to crochet

I decide what’s important for my blanket

  • keep the peaks and troughs in line with the row below.  The up-hills and down-hills will be different lengths but its not a problem.
  • keep the side edges tidy
  • keep to the plan for the colours

Now I’m about 6 colours in (12 rows) or so, and I realise I’ve missed out a vital step. I won’t say my blood runs cold, but it is certainly one of those ‘uh-oh’ moments. I’m sure some eagle-eyed and experienced crocheters will have already spotted it from my last post.  I’ve failed to check the gauge/tension of either my test piece or my actual work. According to the pattern, the blanket is suitable for a single bed and should be 48 inches wide.  I measure my work…its 66 inches wide.  Oh my stars!  (time for a coffee and several biscuits to calm down).  Clearly my finished blanket will be nearer double bed sized.  This could take a lot of time to complete. It takes me another two days of hooking to realise that this isn’t so big a deal. By now I’m thoroughly addicted to crochet, I hook before work, at work and can’t wait to finish my evening meal so I can hook some more.  A double blanket sounds fabulous.  And I have another option – turn the width into the length and make a blanket with vertical stripes!

So there’s no stopping me now – crack on with row after row after row.  Change of colours every two rows as per the plan, and just deal with the errors as I find them.  I’m still bemused at finding three trebles in an increase instead of two, or three decreases after each other, but I’m blaming inexperience, and tiredness.  Did I really hook a three trebles in a row?  Did I really forget to decrease there? It must have been me, no-one else dared touch my work.

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I can now hook two rows in about an hour and a half, so my pace has increased dramatically.  Maybe it’ll be finished in time for Christmas?  Fingers crossed!

A Beginner’s Crochet Adventures: The Ripple Blanket begins

I think I’ve finally worn Gareth down. He’s found a lovely crochet blog for me to follow! It’s by Lucy at Attic24 and you can find it here:
http://www.attic24.typepad.com/

The particular piece he showed me is a ripple blanket in coastal colours: sky blues, sea greens and greys and golden yellow sands.

Of course, I’d read about the ripple stitch but I hadn’t given it a try. This is the perfect excuse to bump it to the top of my expanding list of crochet projects. If Gareth is encouraging me,  how could I refuse?

As beautiful as the coast blanket colours are, they aren’t really me. And if I am going to tackle a huge piece like a blanket I don’t want any reason to get fed up of it half way through. 
I’ve analysed Lucy’s coastal colours and categorised them into light, dark and neutral. Then I’ve matched my preferred colours in the same ratio. I hope this will ensure my blanket has the same overall balance.

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I have my yarn, Lucy’s pattern, my hook, stitch markers. Ready to make a start? Very nearly.  I want to practice the ripple stitch first. I’ll be doing an awful lot of it, so I better get it nailed down first.  Indeed, Lucy, the pattern writer strongly suggests it, and how right she is to do so.

The sample piece is based on a chain of 31 stiches: two repeats of 14 stitches wide plus three chain. And four rows deep, two of each colour.
My first attempt is a disaster. Finding the correct place to insert my hook into a foundation chain is very difficult. 

The first ‘leg’ has six stitches instead of four. How did I manage that! This means that my final leg is short. I managed the turn, but didn’t bother to complete the second row, as it was obvious to me that I really needed to start again. Good job I’m practicing beforehand. Can you imagine how wonky the finished blanket would have been if I’d just gone straight into it!

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I set my hook aside and gave crochet a rest for a couple of hours, before making my second attempt at conquering the ripple stitch. 
Success! The initial row is still a nightmare.  So fiddly,  nothing to grip on to and little strength or rigidity.  But at least my work looks like Lucy’s own photos of her practice sample.

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I must give full credit to Lucy and Attic24. Her tutorial is invaluable, her work is beautiful and without her I wouldn’t be able to tackle the blanket at all. The pattern is entirely her work, I simply swapped the colours.

So there are no longer any barriers in the way, other than my own confidence.  I’m actually quite nervous about starting a blanket.
The foundation chain will be 213 stitches (15 repeats of 14 stitches plus three chain), compared to 31 in the sample. And I can’t remember exactly how many rows but at least 150, compared to four in the sample. This is crochet on a scale I’ve never attempted before.

But there’s no sense in doing all the preparation and then not carrying it through.  It’s a wet bank holiday, so I’ve nothing else on except possibly watch the obligatory James Bond film.

No. Today is the day the ripple blanket gets started. Deep breath, coffee and biscuits to hand…..let’s go crochet!

A Beginner’s Crochet Adventures: my first scarf and hat

I learnt to do basic crochet as a child, but only recently picked up my hooks again after a break of easily 35 years. I’d been looking for something to do, a hobby, for a while, and the thought of actually producing something appealed, as opposed to staring at a screen which I do all day at work (computer) and every evening (TV).

I purchased some hooks, chosen entirely because they are pretty, a pattern and a few balls of multicoloured wool.  Except it’s not wool, its ‘yarn’.  Oddly, ‘yarn’ feels more difficult to say and doesn’t trip off my tongue as easily as wool, but it’s more accurate, as the yarn I purchased was acrylic and had never seen a sheep.  I chose Lion Brand’s Jiffy Multi Salem.

knit_pro_symfonie_d_ended_hooksLion Brand multi jiffy salem

My plans were to crochet a cowl scarf.  I guess a scarf is where most beginners begin.

I selected my pattern (marked as ‘Beginner Easy’) and spent a good while checking that I was ordering sufficient yarn of the correct weight.  I got stuck in, and managed to work out a lot of the pattern’s shorthand ‘code’.  My first attempt didn’t turn out well, I could tell that a cowl was supposed to be tubular, but my work was increasing each round, like a sun.  I was barely halfway though the pattern and had already used three quarters of the yarn,  I certainly wasn’t going to have enough for a matching hat at this rate!

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Nothing for it, but to take a photo for the record, unpick and start again.  This time I spotted my pattern reading error, and although the final cowl looks nothing like the pattern cover, I’m really pleased with it.  I can wear it looped double, dangling like a long cowl, and, as in the picture, on chilly days in the office I can snuggle my shoulders inside as a wrap.

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All that was left to now, was to make a hat to match.  I seriously doubted that I had bought enough yarn to make the hat that was included in the pattern, so I spent ages searching around for a hat that I liked the look of, whose texture matched the texture of the scarf, and one which wouldn’t need too much yarn.

After toying with the idea of an ear warmer, I eventually settled on a beanie.  By now my confidence had grown, patterns became easier to understand, and even the confusion between USA and UK terminology didn’t phase me.  But still the hat was a disaster!

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It was all crown and no sides.  More like an enormous beret than a beanie!  It was time to unpick again. I decided to retain part of the crown, and to invent a pattern as I went along.  Nothing to lose by trying.  Success!, the work was developing into a beanie shape, and I had plenty of yarn in the end.  I even managed to make a flower for the front.

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So, a few mishaps along the way.  And a lot of learning in a short time, but I’ve got a scarf and hat ready for the autumn!