Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny

Warning: This post contains super cute images. People who coo easily should proceed with caution.

Last week I spent my evenings crocheting and sewing some teeny tiny little baby things. A relative has just had a baby girl so there was no way I could resist the chance to make tiny little pink things. I am very much a believer that girls and boys can do whatever they like – when my support staff at work get the cars out for “the boys” I always tell them that everyone can play cars – and dislike the way everything and anything these days has to come in pink and blue, but look how cute and pretty these booties are… The booties were made from a Purl Bee pattern that Tania had made recently and was so quick and easy to make – it took a bit longer for me because I didn’t use felt and had to sew some fleece and fabric together and turn before I could get hand-sewing. I also made the little baby a pink and purple crochet hat which only used a tiny bit of my blanket yarns. I love how quick it is to make tiny things for babies 🙂

Another creation is for an old friend who is due in the next few weeks. When I knew she was having a baby I wanted to make a crazy hat for baby and spent ages on ravelry searching for the best one – everyone has hats with bear ears nowadays so I wanted something a bit more special.

This is probably the cutest thing I have ever made and I kept squealing excitedly to myself as I put it together and could see what it would look like. Are you ready to see something cute?It is a baby giraffe hat!!! The only thing I can think of that would be cuter, would be a baby giraffe hat being worn by a teeny tiny baby.


Post 100!

This is somehow my 100th blog post! Wow, who would have thought I’d have so much to say that people would want to read.

Sadly I don’t have a finished creation to share (my black cord skirt is still in need of 20cm of hand sewing), I haven’t got much visible progress on my cardigan, and I am falling behind with my crochet-along. Yup, after only seven days of actual teaching I have caught an awful cold and headache. If it were a school day, I wouldn’t feel too guilty about taking a day off as my brain has felt too foggy to crochet – you know you are ill when you can’t curl up on the sofa with yarn!

Since I have nothing exciting to show you all, I suppose I’ll have to celebrate my 100th post with a giveaway! The prize will include a spare copy of Threads issue 162 (with articles about exposed zippers, topstitching and tailored trousers), some buttons and ribbons (of course!), and a little handmade mystery surprise!

If you want to enter just leave a comment below (with contact details if I can’t find them on your blog) and I will pick a winner at random on 1st October. If you want to share my blog with your readers, send me a link and I will put your name in the hat twice.

Good luck! I’m off to make some hot Ribena and see if I can concentrate on my crochet along blocks.

Good News, Bad News

A few days with nothing to do but lounge on the sofa in pjs, watching tv/dvds, crocheting and eating ice-cream. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

Duvet + tv + crochet = perfect lazy day?

Not when it is enforced due to a horrible throat infection/tonsilitis/etc 😦 According to my GP in December, the only way to prevent getting so many bugs is to stop teaching four-year-olds! I am preferring the nhs direct advice of “go back to being a child and eat ice-creams and ice-lollies” since Mini-Milks seem to be the only thing I can consume pain-free.

I had a bad temperature and spent yesterday at home dozing on and off all morning, but by the afternoon I started feeling well enough to sit up and do some crocheting (and had seen the same episodes of The Big Bang Theory on e4 too many times!) and managed to finish a few squares I have been working on.

Scottie Dog square

My favourite! A little scottie dog wearing a bow 🙂 So cute, I’m wondering what else I can apply the design to… around the bottom edge of a cardigan?

Log Cabin square

Bow square

The bow square didn’t come out as planned. Maybe it was the choice of yarns or hook sizes, but the bow doesn’t sit properly. It is made by crocheting a strip (with some shaping around the loops), tying it into a bow, and crocheting around it and in the gaps to create a square. The picture in the book looks lovely and neat, so I’m not sure what went wrong.

All these sqaures were made from 201 crochet motifs, blocks, projects and ideas by Melody Griffiths – stay tuned for my thoughts on it soon and another project inspired by it.

p.s. apologies for camera phone pictures, too much effort to get the real camera out

Crafty Resolution 2012 update

It feels like years ago, but in January I set my self a project for the year – to crochet two squares a week so by New Year’s Eve I have a full sized blanket to snuggle under. Well, due to bad time management (and too much couture sewing) I got a bit behind schedule, but I am pleased to say I am back on track.

January, February, March, April… first 40 squares.

Looking at all the squares together I think I need to make some more back-and-forth squares since most of them are crocheted in the round (although it is much easier to get the correct size when going round in circles*). I also think I have enough regular granny sqaures for now.

The square above was plain until I added a small flower motif. I definitely need to so more of these now I have two books to teach me how to make a range of flowers and butterflies.

After filling a bag with squares I thought it was probably time to start putting things together so I don’t go crazy in December. I started in the centre with some carefully chosen squares, and am now adding the rest in rounds semi-randomly. I am hoping that any future squares will look right, or if not then I can plan future crocheting accordingly.

Sewing the blanket together

I’ve just read my original post and it mentioned “using up yarn in my stash” – oops, that is one major FAIL already! Popping into a shop and buying just a couple of balls of yarn seems so much easier to justify than buying fabric on a whim. (see above picture and the bag of yarn that is bigger than when I started the project, although lots were sale bargains, honestly!)

Anyway, I am off to get some bias-binding to finish something I am super excited about 😀 Fingers crossed it will be finished to show you tonight… And fingers-crossed I wont get tempted by any yarn on my way!

*technical information – each square measures exactly “the size of my red and white polka dot box lid.” I had to throw a couple of squares into a hot washing machine to felt them down to size, but the texture is great.

Review – The Granny Square Book

With so much sewing for my Peacock Dress, I must confess that I have fallen behind with my Crafty Crochet Resolution 😦 So during the school holidays I dusted off my hooks, unwound my yarn and started to catch up on my crochet. To help me along I may have done just a little bit of craft shopping, and since one of my parcels arrived I have been carrying a particular crochet book around everywhere I go.

The Granny Square Book: Timeless Techniques and Fresh Ideas for Crocheting Square by Square by Margaret Hubert, Creative Publishing International, US; Spiral bound edition (1 Nov 2011) ISBN: 978-1589236387 (find it on amazon here)

The Granny Square Book is divided into three sections – Crochet Basics, Granny Square Patterns, and Designing with Granny Squares.

The first section is a great introduction to crochet that would be perfect for a beginner. It starts by introducing the equipment a crocheter will need and how to start with chains and single crochet. All these instructions are really clearly illustrated with detailed photos. As someone who has been crocheting for a few years, the pictures were very useful and taught me how to do more complex stitches such as front post double crochet, popcorn and bullion stitches.

This section gives instructions for starting and finishing granny squares, and a range of techniques for joining the finished squares. The most useful part of this section for me was the list of abbreviations and conversions between US and UK terms (I never know exactly what I am doing) and a key of diagram symbols. Since reading this book I have actually been able to follow the diagrams – who knew that the dashes on the pattern correspond to how many times to wrap the yarn round the hook?!

Once you have mastered the basic stitches, section two has 75 different patterns (plus a couple of half-square patterns thrown in for luck). Unlike some books I have seen, all the patterns are different (not just different colour combinations of the same square) and there is a good variety between the solid and lacy designs. All the patterns are rated – easy, beginner, intermediate or experienced – and there appears to be a good mix of difficulties so there should be enough to challenge beginners and more experienced crocheters.

One of the best features about this book is that each design is neatly laid out on one page, with photos, text and diagrams all together, so there is no need to keep turning the page to check you are following the instructions correctly. On the rare occasion that the instructions go onto two pages, they are sensible placed on double-paged spreads. The book is spirally bound so it stays open on your lap for easy reference.

The final section of the book gives lots of ideas and instructions for what you can do with your finished granny squares, including bags, cardigans, accessories and a few traditional throws. Not all of these designs are to my taste (too obviously made from multicoloured granny squares for me to wear) but there are some lovely one-colour lace scarves and shawls that look easier and less stressful than knitting lace.

The book has diagrams and instructions to help you design your own blankets and garments, and this is where those half-square designs look really useful. There is a lovely shawl with arm holes so it can be worn as a scarf or a wrap/waterfall-waistcoat, made up in a lovely shade of raspberry. I would never have thought of making a scarf from lots of granny squares, but it would make the process more portable and less stressful – there is nothing as bad as doing a long piece of knitting and dropping some stitches!

One of the projects Margaret mentions in her introduction is a blanket that grew as she did – starting off as a small blanket, she added more rows and more squares until it eventually fitted her king-sized bed. This would be a great project to make for a little baby, as I can imagine adding more rows as the child grows up, until you finish it when they turn 21 perhaps.

Overall I really liked this book and have already recommended it to lots of people – it would be a great introduction for a beginner, but there are enough challenges to keep a more expert crocheter busy (I can’t wait to make the swirling spiral pictured above), and the layout and instructions are really clear. The one thing that I don’t like about this book is the weight – It is hardback and weighs 752g according to my kitchen scales. I like to have a project in my bag for a bit of lunch hour de-stressing or in the event of tube delays, but after carrying this around for a few days I had sorer shoulders than usual. I wish I could take a couple of pages out to carry around with me – I would love to have each of these patterns on a separate card, so if anyone knows of something similar, please let do me know.

p.s. Thank you so much to all the people who have commented and subscribed to my posts. I hope you are enjoying them as much as I enjoy getting the emails from wordpress telling me somebody “likes” something! 🙂


Miscellaneous musings

I had a couple of posts planned to write this weekend, but I still haven’t learned the lesson of leaving all my school work until the last day of the holidays. So instead of taking photos of my new self-drafted jeans, I spent most of the day sorting out my plans for next term. However there are a few little random musings I have time to share..

Baking – its as easy as 1, 2, 3

It was my cousin’s 30th surprise party on Saturday and I had promised to bring some “manly” biscuits. I always make gingerbread and wanted a change so I googled “biscuit recipe that keeps its shape” (hoorah for the internet!). There were lots of variations of a shortbread-type recipe using 1 part sugar, 2 parts butter and 3 parts flour – I added vanilla to one batch and replaced some flour with cocoa powder in batch two, but the possibilities seem endless. Mix all the ingredients, chill in the fridge, roll and cut out shapes, then cook for about 15 minutes until golden. Easy peasy!
They all got eaten, so no photos, but there will definitely be another batch of dino-fossil biscuits soon.

It’s a small world.

At my cousin’s party I was showing off my new jeans and talking about sewing, when someone on the other side of the kitchen overheard the crafty conversation. I was introduced to Vixie who blogs at Matin Lapin and had been selling super glittery creations at a craft fair earlier that day. We spent hours discussing how to store button collections (in real life and in a fantasy world), strangers talking to us about knitting in public, the blogs we both read, and other cool house-party topics. I started looking at her blog but had to stop because there were so many great links – I had to have a mini internet break so I could get on with work – but it is definitely on the top of my Google Reader reading list.

Inspiring the public.

One of the things Vixie and I were chatting about, was crafting in public and starting up conversations on public transport. So it was a bit eerie when I sat down on the bus this morning (on my way home from an early morning outdoor swim *polishes halo*), got out my crochet and immediately caught the attention of two small girls (approx 4 and 6)

4 year old: I can do knitting (mimes knitting) I’m knitting a dress for my dog
6 year old: Yeah, well I’m gonna knit a jumper.
4 year old: Well I’m gonna knit a rainbow.

A rainbow? Of course I had to do a bit of browsing for inspiration on ravelry…

Pattern by Helen Free

Rainbow Scarf With Clouds by Pam Gabriel

Sunshine and Rainbows by Melissa Mall

I’ve got a few posts lined up, when I have some sunshine to take pictures, so keep your eyes peeled for an update on my crafty crochet revolution, sewing my jeans, and a review of my new favourite book.

Another little crafty resolution 2012

So it is new year and everyone is reflecting on their crafty year and making resolutions for the next twelve months. Last year I have done a lot of crafting, I started this blog and learned lots of new techniques (cable and lace knitting, invisible zips, trousers) but there is still a lot that I can still learn to do (fit the perfect skirt, sew formal fancy clothes, maybe knit a cardigan…).

Pjs in the making...

However that wont be my crafty new year’s resolution. Instead of planning to do something I would be doing anyway (a few weddings this year need dress(es) made) or something I will never do, I thought I would set myself a project to last the year. Yup, something to last a whole year! Considering the past few months have been filled with weekly projects (knitting a new present every week) or even daily sewing (simple classic patterns) I am going to try and slow down some of my crafting to, hopefully, create a long-lasting memento of the year.

I really love some of the speedy tops I have rustled up this year but I know they wont last forever, and I am also really proud of the first pair of trousers I spent weeks making but cashmere isn’t practical for primary school. What is the balance between the two? Something with lots of quick to make components, that together make something amazing – each little bit will give me a bit of instant gratification and be quick and stress-free to make, but the whole will create something a bit more special and long-lasting.

So here it is – my little crafty resolution for 2012 is to make a blanket! I was thinking about knitting or crocheting a square a day (too much pressure) or making a square a week (not enough for a big blanket) so after some maths I have decided to make 10 squares a month (for a 10×12 blanket) or 2.5 squares a week. Hopefully this will be enough of a challenge, but also managable.

I am planning to make some traditional crocheted granny squares, knit some different textures and patterns, learn some new stitches and techniques, and maybe sew or patchwork some pieces too. As much as possible all the yarn will come from my growing stash and be a reminder of other knitting I have done, starting with left overs from Christmas, and will probably feature a few buttons from my collection. I hope that there is a bit of a story behind each square, and I shall document their stories and my progress (when I can work out how to make a special button on here!)