Tag Archives: Crochet

Crochet Winter Warmers

13 Feb

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Anyone residing in the UK for the past few months would be aware that it’s been, well, rather parky out. I won’t be the only one who should have spent much all of January and much of February, shrouded in blankets and refusing to leave the warm environs of my flat for any non-essential reason.

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However, the course of my life has never been sedentary. I was back in my seaside hometown of Southport during the cold snap, so I decided to hibernate at my Grandparents house – until cabin fever struck. I decided to take a stroll along the deserted beach, which gave me the perfect opportunity to play with the settings on my new camera.

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For those of you who know anything about the North West coast, you won’t be surprised to hear that the wind was whipping up in every direction which made the chilly temperatures feel even colder! Eventually, I retreated back into the town to seek retail therapy and hot chocolate. It was then that I discovered a gem of a place: the Yarn Fairy on Wesley Street.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA It was inevitable of course, that an addicted crafter such as myself would succumb to the lure of independent boutique yarn shops and the prospect of lovely new crochet projects. As I was wearing my deliciously warm new winter coat, I decided to try and pick out some colours to create some cozy accessories.

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Unwittingly, I selected some yarns which perfectly matched the shades of the seaside, where I had taken my stroll and where my mind must have still been wandering. The yarn was from Rico studio, and was 50% acrylic, 50% wool, so I thought that would be a good choice. Both the blue and the cream yarns were variegated, and contained all sorts of different shades from my coat. Perfect!
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I’m not really a fan of crochet patterns – I’m much happier just setting off and discovering where the stitches take me. However, I had recently seen a tutorial for making a hat from brim to top, rather than the other way round – I decided to give that a go.

I began by making a loop in the pretty, blue yarn, which fitted snugly around my head, and then hooking a row of double crochets to get the hat started. Onto row 2, I began a row of treble crochets, doing a hooked treble stitch every 4 stitches. A hooked treble is where you push your crochet hook crosswise, around the post of the stitch below, rather than putting it through the top of the stitch below. I hope that makes sense! It is the same technique used when doing the basketweave stitch.
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After a few lines, I switched colours to the cream, but continued doing 3 trebles, 1 hooked treble for the first few rows -then as I wanted to reduce the stitches, I began doing a hooked stitch for every three, then for every 2 and so on, so that the raised columns were preserved, and the hat began to form into the correct shape. For every two rows I completed, I probably unravelled another, as I worked out how the hat should fit me.

I wanted slouchy, beret style to the hat, so I tried it on after every row or so, checking that I was progressing how I wanted. As I reached the top  of the hat, I got to a stage where each stitch was a hooked treble, and then for the next row, I began hooking two raised ridges together, to close up the hat at the top. Finally, once the hat was completed, I used a spare strand of blue yarn to make a simple bow at the top.

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Next, it was time to get started on the hand warmers. I have a track record with handwarmers, and have made a whole series of them for myself and others over the years (a few examples are below). They are a quick and easy make, which doesn’ use up too much yarn, and can be embellished in countless ways.

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Again, the easiest way to get a good fit for your handwarmers is to begin with a chain of around 34 stitches (depending on the dimensions of your hands and wrists), and to try on the glove after completing every row, to check they are fitting well. This time, I began with the cream yarn, and instead of producing ridges around all of the handwarmer, I just created two ridges, 3 stitches apart, which would run along the top of the item.

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When I reached the bottom of the thumb, I began to alternate rows backwards and forwards, leaving a gap. Once the gap was sufficient, I added a chain of 3 and then began doing circular rows again – this technique gave my glove a thumb hole.

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To match the design of the hat, I switched to blue yarn when I reached my knuckles, to give a blue border to the tops of the handwarmers. Once I had completed the glove to a desirable height, I then began building the rows around the thumb joint, using a selection of slip stitches, double crochets and treble crochets, to mould the shape. This is a little fiddly in explanation, but is very quick in reality!

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The big task then was to make an identical twin for the gloves! This is always easier said than done, but it’s manageable as long as you continue to check and compare the work as you go along.

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I”m really happy with my new creations, and especially like the silver flecks in the yarn that makes the items sparkle. My new makes came in handy last month, when I spent the weekend in Cologne, Germany. My trip coincided with a giant snowstorm, and I was grateful for my warm accessories whilst sightseeing in a blizzard!

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Crocheted Baby Blankets 2

1 Jun

Spring is in the air, and there seems to be rather a lot of new arrivals being announced, all at once! This time, not one, but two of my friends at work are both going on maternity leave at the same time – I guess that gives me the perfect excuse to get my crochet hooks out!

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Firstly, I decided to make a coverlet for my friend and colleague, Hayley – she has just gone on leave to have her second child, a little boy. Using some white Sirdar Snuggly and a number 5 hook, I made up 3 rows of trebles, then did a row of puff stitches to give the coverlet some interest. For the edge, I used some lovely blue lambswool from Kingcraig Fabrics to make rows of alternating shells.  This was really quick to make, and I think the edging looks really effective!

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Secondly, a fellow member of my team at work, Sian, is also starting maternity leave for her first child this month. This blanket is larger than the coverlet, for no other reason than I carried on crocheting for ages before realising how large it had become!

Again, the main work of this crochet was simple rows of trebles, but every few rows I did a series of  *three trebles into a single stitch (to make a small fan), skipped a stitch, a single treble, skipped a stitch, all the way to the end of the row. On the next row, I would do a treble into each of the first three ‘fan’ stitches, but for each stitch, I would keep the last loop of the stitch on the hook. Once all three were looped on, I’d do a yarn over hook to close the stitches. Then I would do a single treble to complete the post in the middle of the motif, and begin on the next three trebles into the fan. I hope that made sense! This made the lovely flowers/windmills/crosses pattern you can see below.

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To finish this blanket off, I simply did a row of *treble crochet, single crochet, skip a stitch, followed by a row of a *treble crochet, single crochet, treble crochet, single crochet into each loop created on the previous row. This meant I could thread ribbon throught the first row and produce a gentle frill on the outside row. I’m really happy with how this blanket turned out!

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Once I had finished these two, I was in full swing and ready to make a third – I don’t know who is going to be the recipient of this one yet, but I’m sure it will find a home soon!

I wanted to try a more intricate stitch, and I had spotted this great tutorial on Sandra Cherryheart‘s blog – the clamshell stitch. In Sandra’s blanket, she uses a different colour for each row of clamshells, but I thought it would look interesting if only occasional shells were picked out in a colour. Again I used Sirdar Snuggly, will remnant balls of primrose yellow and dark blue lambswool from Kingcraig.

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What I love about this stitch is how the different rows catch the light – I didn’t notice this on the gorgeous, multi-coloured one on Sandra’s page, but I think the white really shows them off! I just wanted to keep on crocheting this one, it was a  struggle to stop! For some interest, I hooked some of the central rows of  stitches in blue, which means you can see the point where the clamshell spike stitches overlap it at even intervals.

For the edging, I was perilously close to running out of wool, so I simply did a row of V stitches, followed by a blue row of Vs, followed by a final row of white chain stitches, held onto the blue Vs with double crochets.

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Et voila, the finished blanket. I guess, as it contains blue, it really should be a boy’s blanket. However, the combination of blue, white and yellow seems quite nautical and fresh to me! Perhaps it could work for a boy or a girl. What do you think?

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Two of their blankets have already been delivered to my friends, in time for their own special deliveries. The third one awaits a recipient, but I’ll keep it to one side until one of my friends has wonderful news!

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Scarves are like buses…

22 Mar

You limp on without one for ages, and then two come along at once!

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I had so much fun making my new snood a few weeks ago, that within a few days I’d started on a second one. I had two more balls of my Kingcraig merino and cashmere left, so I decided to try making a smarter, more understated item which I could wear for work.  

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It’s another Erika Knight stitch, unsurprisingly – it’s called fantail stitch and it crocheted up really quickly. The whole item was completed in just two days!

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To give the snood a feature, I used some beautiful, pearlised cotton viscose by Drops Design every 16 lines. I’ve got quite a lot of this left over from the crochet snowflakes project, and I am totally in love with all of the colours. This was a simple, effective way of bringing out the detail of the stitch. Hopefully, the occasional shimmery row of shells gives the finished piece a bit of a ‘luxe’ look. 


So now I’ve got not one, but two snoods that I can wear. Lucky me – two lovely, warm and completely different crocheted accessories from one batch of wool!DSC_0026 (2)

Crocheted Baby Blankets

15 Mar

I have been a bit under the weather recently and so have been staying in, quietly crocheting, rather than being out, getting into trouble.

A colleague of mine at work is just about to leave to have her first child, which is the perfect excuse for me to hook up a little blanket! I got a little over-excited when I went to buy wool, so much so that I had enough to crochet two. Kate doesn’t know if she is having a boy or girl, so I needed to stay gender-neutral on colour.

Both blankets use Sirdar Snuggly DK yarn in a variety of shades.

 

The idea was to make one heavier-weight blanket, for colder weather, and one lighter-weight one for Spring and Summer. Using my new crochet skills, I used the sedge stitch I recently learned for the white centre on both. However, I used a slightly larger crochet hook for the Summer weight blanket (a 6) than for the Winter weight (a 5), so that the stitches were looser.

I couldn’t pick between all the lovely shades of Snuggly in the shop, so I ended up bringing 5 home, and making a brilliantly colourful rainbow blanket! For this one, on the border I did 2 rows in each colour of alternating clusters, which gave a lovely, thick, heavy border.

For the Spring and Summer one, I tried to use stitches which would give the effect of lovely bright flowers – I decided that the yellow and green, with a touch of purple, reminded me of glorious daffodils. I began with two rows of Ripple Shell stitch, from Erika Knight’s Crochet Workshop Book. I then stitched up a row of brackets for clusters, and ended with clusters made of 4 yellow double trebles, with a single chain space in the middle of each cluster.

I am really happy with how the blankets turned out! I have sent Kate the Summer weight blanket, as I am sure by the time her baby arrives, the sun will be shining and Spring will finally be here! I will just have to hope that my next friend to announce a new arrival does so once the weather is cooling down again!

 

Hopefully, once the little one is here, I will be able to update you with a picture of the blanket in use. In the meantime, here is Andrew, one of my bears, modelling his seasonal looks.

Crochet Part 3 – Yarns across Europe!

10 Mar

 

As mentioned in my last Crochet post, I have recently taken a little trip with some friends to Mayrhofen, in the beautiful Ziller Valley in the Tyrolean region of Austria. My friends are keen snowboarders, but I was there more for the ‘apres’, rather than the ‘ski’, if you see what I mean!

I took my crochet with me to occupy myself whilst they were drifting and sliding all over the place up the mountains in the daytime. I made some good progress, and also found some fabulous craft shops, both in Mayrhofen and in the nearest city, Innsbruck.

 

Honouring my resolution to only buy souvenirs that can be made into something, I thought it was only fair that I stocked up on some yarn :)

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Not a bad view from my crafting balcony…..

Two of my bessies were with me, Alex and Cat, and they were both curious at my crafting, and expressed an interest in learning! We trooped down to the local craft shop, armed ourselves with new hooks and a few balls of wool, and had a fantastic evening of girly laughs and crafting fun.

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Alex had knitted before but wanted to give crocheting a go. She picked it up really quickly, and started on a lovely square for a blanket.

Cat was a self-confessed novice with all things textile. Nevertheless, by the end of the evening, she had made her very own bracelet, and started on a matching headband!

Super impressed with my friends’ skills – definitely one of my happiest memories of the holiday :)

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Well, you can’t begrudge us a little drink to celebrate?!

Anyway, on with the crochet. I actually managed to get quite a few done whilst I was there! Firstly, I was too excited to use my new yarn, the first ball of which was half wool, half acrylic, and chosen purely because of its gorgeous appley colour, rather than the texture or diameter of the yarn. It was too big for me to do anything too intricate with! So I simply made a granny square, which, conveniently, is exactly 4 times the size of a regular square. New blanket centrepiece perhaps?

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The second yarn I bought was my first textured yarn. I’ve never used one before and thought it might be fun! This is a mix of alpaca and lambswool, and I was fascinated by how a chain of stitches of it expanded and narrowed before my eyes. Very pretty. Given this effect, I thought it would be best shown off in a big, loose stitch, so for the first square, I simply did double trebles, separated by a single chain stitch.

Anyway, onto the new stitches:

18. Hot Cross Bun Stitch. Topical on the run up to Easter! This is the first stitch that I’ve done where you cross the stitches – it was a little tricky but I eventually got the hang of it!

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19. Thistle Stitch. Apparently. To me, this looks like bunny ears! I saw it in another Erika Knight pattern for a clutch bag, and decided to make it into a square. I do think it’s very pretty though.

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20. Sedge Stitch. This is one of my new favourites –  it’s simply one double crochet, one half treble and one treble into the 3rd stitch along, repeated. It gives a lovely texture, was so easy and I think it looks beautiful. This is a stitch I can definitely see myself using for a scarf or bag in the future.

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21. Wedge Stitch. I found this really challenging! All the way through, I felt like I was going wrong, and that it was all misshapen. However, once I finished, I fell in love with it. It reminds me of leaves, so I think it would look great in a darker, yellowy green. I ended up making one in my new textured yarn too!

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22. My final stitch for the week was Connected Spiral. This one was pretty tough too, but I persevered. The picture doesn’t really do it justice, but the twists of yarn between each row look great in real life!

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If I count the big green one as 4 (as it’s MASSIVE) I guess this takes me up to 49. I think that warrants a “woop!”

Crochet Progret (An introduction to crochet Pt 2)

18 Feb

Thanks for all the comments and words of encouragement for my last crochet post! It’s really spurred me on to learn some more. My quest to master (well, manage) some more advanced stitches than the classic dc is progressing well.

I’m still continuing with Erika Knight’s book, but am also using these two, too!

Basic Crochet Stitches by Erika Knight Crochet Stitch Motifs by Erika Knight

Both procured from my fabulous local library.

Before starting on these two new books, I thought I would attempt the Catherine Wheel stitch, which was included in Crochet Workshop. After 3 attempts of it, I was almost ready to give up on it altogether!

9. Catherine Wheel Stitch

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I found this one really difficult and it’s come out looking a bit lumpy! I’m guessing I need more practice here!

As mentioned in the previous post, I’m trying to restrict myself to doing only one of each stitch, in each colour. I’m using up lots of old balls of wool that I had lying around, and making them into something pretty! However, I’ve reached a stumbling block: I’m nearly out of usable colours – the only others I have are either painfully clashy or weird, novelty yarns that I don’t want to use. I always go to the same shop for my wool – Knit and Stitch in Doncaster – so I took my remaining threads in there to match up extra supplies…..and came back empty handed! I couldn’t find any of the colours I was looking for, and obviously I’m scatterbrained enough to have lost the original labels, which puts me in rather a quandary. I don’t really want to add too many more colours to the blanket, for fear it will start to look a little messy, but that leaves me with the prospect of 40 more squares to do. In cream. Each of a different stitch. How will I cope!?

There are two glimmers of light at the end of this gloomy tunnel. Firstly, I still have a small amount of coloured yarn left, which I will have to use sparingly, only to complete squares that are fairly yarn-efficient (no bobbles or popcorns for me! This yarn’s on a diet!).

Secondly, I am going on holiday in a week’s time, so, as part of my promise to make souvenirs rather than buy them, I will allow myself to buy a new yarn over there, to add to the blanket. Which, I suppose, means I’ve only got 20 new stitches to solve….easy peasy!

So, for the time being, everything is looking a bit monochrome, but I suppose in many ways that is urging me to continue to try new stitches, which is the main reason I embarked on this project in the first place! Here goes….

10. Italian Square. I had really enjoyed making the French Square previously, so thought I would give this one a go. I love it even more! I can’t stop looking at it, it’s so pretty. Hopefully my yarn fortunes will improve so that I can make one or two more of this.

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11. Floral Lace Square. Again from the Crochet Motifs book. Again, I couldn’t believe that I had been able to make this, despite the fact it’s a little wobbly around the edges! I enjoy making the set square designs, as they seem to become so ornate in just a few stitches.

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An introduction to crochet

6 Feb

I like crochet, I really do…the problem is, my skills are rather limited! I only know one stitch really, so everything I’ve ever made has looked pretty much the same (see a few examples here, here, here and here).

I realised things would have to change after I finished my new hat, snood and gloves for a ski trip I’m going on in a few weeks – more double crochet!! In an attempt to make this set look different, I ended up decorating them with arrows made out of shrinky dinks (2 arrows pointing in the same direction means protection in native american symbolism, and I struggle not to fall over even when it’s not icy, so I think I’ll need it)

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So, in an effort to improve my crochetery (a real word?) I have decided to try to learn some new stitches. I’ve had a real mental block on following patterns for years, and had convinced myself that I’d never be able to do it. I couldn’t even manage a granny square until I read somewhere that the US ‘double crochet’ is the equivalent of the UK’s treble crochet – no wonder I was finding it so hard to follow online tutorials! However, I got a copy of Crochet Workshop by Erika Knight, and she has such a good way of explaining things that I think I’ve finally managed to get over my pattern phobia and have actually learned a few things! I would highly recommend this book.

Crochet Workshop by Erika KnightCarlymau's blog - granny square

My first granny square. Thanks Erika!

Given my track record with crochet (and with most crafts, if I’m honest), I thought it would be a good idea to limit the amount I was allowed to do of each stitch, before starting on another. It’s too easy to learn to do one thing and then to stick with it, rather than learn something else new. I didn’t want to look back in 5 years time and discover that everything I had made was now in 2 stitches, rather than one!  Therefore, I have decided to limit myself to a six inch square of each pattern, in each colour.

I’ve got a ton (figuratively) of half-finished and unused yarn in the house, which will do for this project.

So far, as well as the granny square, I’ve managed

1) Treble crochet – I thought I should probably start off easy!

Carlymau's blog - treble crochet

2) Basketweave – actually, I told a bit of a fib, I could do this one too. Only because it’s just double crochets, done either into the front of the stitch or back of the stitch, throughout. I think it looks really effective!

Carlymau's blog - Basketweave crochet

3. Alternating clusters – this wasn’t as hard as I expected and turned out quite well I think!

Carlymau's blog - alternating clusters crochet

 

4. Lacy puff – this is from Erika Knight’s book and on first reading, looked like something I would never be able to do in a million years. However, I took a deep breath, trusted Erika’s instructions, and managed it. I was so happy with it that I made it in a few more colours!

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5. Rope stitch – another from the Crochet Workshop book – easy, and lovely and soft

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6. French Square – I saw this in another Erika Knight book I picked up from the library, called Crochet Stitch Motifs. I think I’ll be perusing this book some more!

Carlymau's blog - Erika Knight's French Square

7. Fan and V Stitch – This was from Basic Crochet Stitches, another Erika Knight one from the library. I was getting a bit ahead of myself at this point and was a little over confident. I found this one a real struggle! I have managed a second square of it, just to prove to myself that I can do it, but I can’t say it was easy. However, it’s so pretty that I think I should persevere and try to master it.

Carlymau's blog - fan and v stitch crochet

8. Soft Bobble – This was fairly straightforward and feels lovely to the touch.

Carlymau's blog - soft bobble crochet

I’ve done a few of them in multiple colours, meaning I now have 25 squares! Now, I must try to stay motivated and learn some more, as well as get a bit better at the ones I’ve already learned. I will update the blog with my progress!

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