Thursday, 31 July 2014

Corsica Cardi

So yeah, I finished my crochet cardi, and it's turned out alright! Yes I am a bit surprised after my knitted Roxy cardigan that seemed to want to do it's own thing. But, not one to be defeated I took up my hook to attempt this Rowan pattern.

Things started fairly well. The plain, lower section is worked in half treble crochets made 'in between' the stitches of the row below, rather than into the top of the stitch - I thought that was strange at first but it works really well and now I love this method!

Working the decreases in the lace pattern to make the sloping fronts was where I struggled. Maybe it's just my lack of experience but this section seemed difficult to follow. I decided to work both fronts, from the where the lace pattern starts, simultaneously so that I could keep track of where I was and make sure the fronts matched each other - at least any 'wrongness' on one side would be mirrored on the other!

The pattern is worked over a 4 row repeat, quite easy as long as you keep track which row you're at. As you can see I sketched out the pattern roughly to make it easier for me to follow (I do love crochet charts very much and can work better with this visual method as opposed to written instructions). Mug of tea essential to aid concentration.

Once I had conquered those sloping fronts it was all fun and games to finish, with a cute mini border and this lovely hand-made button sent to me by my friend Stephanie all the way from the states. Thanks Steph - your button finishes off my cardi so perfectly!!

I love the sloping shoulders that make little cap sleeves...

and the contrast of the lacy top and the plainer lower section.

I love it. I'm so pleased it's worked out, and rather relieved! It's a heavy garment making it feel worth all the effort somehow, but also making it very warm and maybe not the best to wear in this glorious weather we are enjoying right now!

I can't help being secretly really chuffed with myself for making this and am keen to work on more garments - either crocheted or knitted! 

Find the pattern on ravelry here.
The yarn I used is King Cole Giza, which is an Egyptian mercerised cotton, and a size 3mm hook. It is a substitute as the pattern is shown in Sienna 4 ply, in the book Summer Crochet by Rowan.

I've got a little pressie for all you lovelies in my next post so stayed tuned!

'till next time...

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Answers from the Attic

As part of my Deramores prize I was given the chance to have a question and answer session with lovely Lucy from Attic 24. What a fantastic opportunity!
It was very exciting to get the first email from her, inviting me to email her back and start our 'hooky chat'. How wonderful to have a connection with this very generous and talented person, Lucy is warm and welcoming and I have enjoyed very much thinking of my questions for her - and of course reading her answers! I thought you would enjoy reading this too, so without further ado, here's the Answers from the Attic!

BTW - all the photos are mine, of things I have made from Lucy's patterns and tutorials.

1.Your work is very original and you certainly have a distinct style. Is it hard to come up with original ideas, especially when there is so much out there already on the internet?
Crochet itself is quite a limited craft in terms of actual stitches, so when the whole world wide web is involved there are bound to be many overlaps in design. I think the "style" bit of crochet design is often down to colour rather than pattern, and yes I do seem to have my own unique colour palette which I have become well known for and which has remained intact and unaltered since I was a child. I have always been drawn to the same sort of vivid colours, the same balance of hot and cold colours, with an even balance of tone (light/dark) and contrast.
The design ideas I have are often a little quirky and often ping into my brain as if from nowhere, but I think it's almost impossible to be truly original in crochet design. The way I work, I am fortunate to be operating on my own time schedule, so I don't often have to "come up" with new designs on the spot. I just wait for them to come into my brain in their own time and take it from there, and that means that the ideas are mostly fresh and pretty unique to me and my way of working. 

2.You certainly are an inspiration to a lot of people, obviously including me. But what or who is your inspiration?
Aww, I still get a little bit giddy at the idea of being labelled An Inspiration, such a terrific compliment! My own inspiration comes from so many sources, mainly from the combined forces of the world wide creativity that we can tap into on the internet. Blogs, Facebook, Pinterest and Flickr deliver so much Good Visual Stuff that can spark all sorts of ideas and creative journeys. I absolutey love being a part of the online creative community with it's generous spirit and huge amount of talent.
I find I am also inspired by my surroundings, especially the colours of flowers and landscape, and by the desire to create a cosy, creative, colourful home for my children to grow up in.

3.I imagine you are very busy and have a lot of demands in your life from looking after your family, the daily chores and your own time as well as your successful blog and magazine work. Are you organised with your time, and if so how; or do you just amble through?
I am learning to be more organised as my workload has increased substantially in recent years and I now have a lot of different balls to juggle. I am not naturally organised, the opposite in fact and my natural way is to simply go with the flow and muddle through. Since I began working in my studio, this has given me the means to be more organsied as I have certain times when I can go to the studio and these become my "crochet work" times. I do all my writing from my little desk at home, and this happens in the evenings now since I had my third child as my days are just too full to write. I've learnt to adjust to an evening writing schedule, but really my brain works much better in the morning. Things are constantly shifting and changing though, and when my youngest starts school in September I'll be able to adjust my routine again to fit around the 9-3 school day. I think it's important to have a loose routine/structure to the days, or at least to have something to aim for! Ideally I would like to return to my daily blogging routine where I concentrate on writing my blog every week day Monday-Friday (writing in the mornings as I did when i first started Attic24), then switch over to my paid work in the afternoons (yarndale, designing, magazine/other writing commitments). That's what I'm aiming for, we shall see how it works out in reality!

4.I have been blogging for about a year and a half or so and I have found it has enhanced my life in a lot of ways. Has your blogging journey changed you at all, perhaps in the way you see and do things?
Oh yes, completely. I often say that blogging has helped me really open my eyes to the daily pleasures of everyday life, to appreciate the little things that bring happiness, and to connect more with the seasons, weather, landscape and general rhythms of family life. It has helped me record this time in my life in a way that has become soooo precious, like the best sort of diary. Recently my daughter (age 10) has started reading my blog, we look back over past archives and re-read accounts of our family holidays and day trips together, she says it is just like reading a story book. I tell her it is the story if our family life, and that it's a pretty good story! I also love that it has made me more aware of seasonal rhythms, of little family traditions that we are building over the years.
Blogging has given me such a sense of purpose and a connection to an amazing world wide creative community too. I love the feeling of "belonging" that blogging gives me.

5.Granny square or ripple?
Both! I love both for different reasons. I love ripples for the soothing, calming feelings they give me as I work those rows of colour. And i love granny squares for the part they have played in teaching me to crochet and starting me out on this amazing journey. My very first crochet project was a granny square blanket and it holds a special place in my heart. That blanket changed my life!

6.I want my blog to be more than a show and tell “look what I’ve made” read. What is your advice on blogging with more depth as yours is?
For me, I never set out for my blog to be a crochet blog, it was always intended to be a general life/family blog. I guess the common thread throughout all my posts is "happiness"...recording the things in life that are making me happy at that particular time, and of course that often involves crochet, such a great Provider of Happy Times! I've also come to love the sharing process, the whole journey of creative thinking if you like, so that the finished object is almost an additional extra. It is the process of designing and making that I am most interested in recording and sharing I think. But as my blog is primarily a "Creative Lifestyle" blog, I like to makes sure that my posts are varied and capture the whole of my life as I jaunt through the days, weeks, months and years. Creativity underlines everything that I do, the way I mother, garden, cook, bake, read, work, play. Always in full colour!!

7.Apart from crochet is there another craft you do or would like to get into?
I studied embroidery and textiles at Manchester in the late 1980's and have a degree in the subject. I came to crochet late on (in my thirties), my life before crochet and kids was always about fabric and stitch and for four years I ran my own business making and selling handmade embroidered pictures and greetings cards. I would love to do more sewing (specifically patchwork and quilting) and also have a hankering for trying mossaic.

8.Since you started blogging has there been a change in the blogging scene?
Oh yes, there has been a huge increase in the volume! So many more creative and lifestyle blogs out there now, and the fact that being a Blogger is now seen as a valid way to work/earn money/become famous! I still much prefer the down to earth, unpretentious kind of blogs to the professional looking commercial/design led blogs though, there has been a big increase in the latter.

9.I find crochet very therapeutic - both doing it a thinking about it. To get off to sleep at night I mentally count up my WIP’s - I don’t know how many I have as I fall asleep before I get to the end! 
Do you have craft related habits like this?
Gosh, that's a tough question, I don't think I do? I feel like I should have, but can't think of any! I do love to crochet outdoors and make it a habit to always take some hooky with me whenever we go on an outing or on holiday. I love the way that memories of time and place can attach themselves to crochet work, and when I look at my projects I can recall snippets of memories with each one.

10.So it’s your last ever crochet project…. (Yikes!)  What would you make and what would be your yarn of choice?
Without doubt it would have to be a huge blanket, a colourful creation made up from blocks/squares of some sort. A big, colourful patchwork of happy times and good memories. I often fantasize about working up  a blanket in Cascade 220, using as many colours as I could possibly get away with (there are over 200 colours to choose from!) I would fill a huge basket with loads of colourful balls and make the project last at least a year. And then I would cry...hope I am a hooker right till the very very end, I cannot contemplate not having crochet in my life. I think I will make my own crochet-lined coffin!!

Thank you Lucy for your amazing answers! It's been a lot of fun - and I quite fancy the Cascade 220 yarn too!!

PS Let's not talk about crochet-lined coffins though....

'till next time...

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Muted Cushion Collection

Happy Sunday to you, I do hope you are feeling good today? We are enjoying / tolerating some very hot weather here in betsyville - children are loving the water play with the paddling pool and sprinkler in the garden, and I'm very relieved to have got through officiating at seven marriages yesterday! I do have school uniform washing to do today ( term ends Wednesday here) and there are a few cleaning chores to see to but other than that I will take it easy as to be honest with you, the hard day at the office yesterday and this heat has completely tired me out!

It has occurred to me though that I have not shown you my 'muted cushion collection' yet. I think with all of the excitement of my Deramores win and then the give-away I held it kinda got forgotten. No matter, it's here now :o)

My little basket of yarny goodness had been sitting around for some time. I cannot remember where I found my colour inspiration from except to say I wanted the cushions to go well in my front room. It's mainly green in there, with a gold coloured rug and grey as well as green in the pattern on the sofa. I added the pinks in to lighten and brighten and the white sneaked in there too. I have no idea about the science behind colour choice, although it is something I would like to learn about. It was just a case of picking out the colours using my heart rather than my head. And for this I am happy with the results, they work for me.

I wanted 3 or 4 cushions to have scattered about and knew that I wanted to have them different patterns. This first one is made using the Catherine Wheel stitch and I found the inspiration and pattern here. I absolutely adore the colours used in Lindsi's blanket, and I know her image has been pinned many times! This pattern is worked over 4 rows and although not really that complicated I found that if I didn't note down which row I was on I got lost easily!

Then I had a go at this Diamond Windowpane Square. This is quite a lovely alternative to the traditional granny and I love the stitch formation. By this time I'm very happy with my grey background / joining colour, and use it again on this next cushion.

Now this pattern square is my own 'made up stitch combination'. My version of a sort of flower granny square. I love how it worked out and I've included the crochet chart below. I can't think of a good name for my square, any ideas my friends? 
Ages ago, I bought a programme for my computer to make these crochet charts. I found it very complicated and it baffled me for ages but then the very lovely and generous Sandra came over to help me. She hadn't used the programme before but is a whiz at technical do-dahs so was able to work it out quickly and help me get started! It took me a while to create this chart but I have a major feeling of satisfaction about it, and glad the programme wasn't a waste of money! 
*BTW Sandra, you know I thought I had bought this crochet chart programme through the app store, and couldn't find it in my purchase history so was convinced I was going mad? Well it turns out I got it through iTunes as I have found it in the purchase history there (and even taken a screen shot in case I ever need to prove my mental stability because it's not in iTunes anymore!) I can forgive myself for getting mixed up with the app store and iTunes, as there are sort of similar. But it bugged me for ages, boy it really did :o)

Okay so just a note about the chart. Where you start doing the popcorn stitch on round 3 you need to do ch 3 and a 4 treble popcorn stitch (all others are made up of 5 trebles). I wasn't able to show that as there wasn't an icon for a 4treble popcorn, just one for the 5 tr version.

Below is the written pattern that you can generate from the programme once you have created the chart. Seems quite basic and confusing to me and I certainly don't think it is usable by itself, but may be of use as a side order to the chart.

Row 1: Ch 5, sl st 1.

Row 2: Ch 1, dc 12, sl st 1.

Row 3: T-ch2 1, tr 1, ch 1, 2 tr cluster 7, [t-ch2 1, tr 1] 4 times, ch 1, sl st 1.

Row 4: T-ch3 1, 5 tr popcorn 1, ch 1, [t-ch3 1, 5 tr popcorn 1, ch 1] 11 times, ch 1, sl st 1.

Row 5: T-ch3 1, tr 3, 4tr in st 11, sl st 1.

Row 6: Ch 1, dc 1, [ch 1, dc 1] 11 times, t-ch4 1, sl st 1.

Row 7: Sl st 1, t-ch3 1, tr 7, tr 3, ch 2, tr 3, tr 8, tr 3, ch 2, tr 3, tr 7, tr 3, ch 2, tr 3, tr 8, tr 3, ch 2, tr 3.

And can I just add a little 'disclaimer' here. I have been playing with the chart programme to get used to it and am not that comfortable with it yet so if there are mistakes (and I think there probably are) I do apologise!!!

Back to my cushions. More confident on that level:

I backed all the cushions with this fab print I picked up from Hobbycraft. I love the grey background and pretty floral print with colours that match well with my yarn choice. 

So as I said these cushions are for my living room, but for some reason I decided to photograph them outside - on a very sunny day!

The fourth cushion of my set is still in it's infancy, and been forgotten about completely until I started writing this post. 

This is Rose hip's crochet flower square pattern and I have made only a few more of these cute squares. I guess this last cushion has fallen into the long list of WIP's I have. Maybe I will dig it out to finish it off some day, but it feels like the moment has passed right now. Oh dear :o(

The other three cushions take pride of place in our living room and I do love to see them there and plump them up as I tidy. They blend well with the decor so I'm very happy with that - so mission accomplished!
Best get off now to tackle my jobs for the day, so I can then put my feet up later!

Thanks for your company today, take care

'till next time...

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Catch up & a small bit of crochet

Well, I think I have not paid enough attention to my blog lately. Or my blog reading list I'm afraid. I've had a cold / flu virus thing that knocked me for six few a good week and my enthusiasm for everything was lost whilst my body was busy fighting those nasty germs. Then on from that I have been a bit disorganised and airy-fairy with most things, just dealing with the essentials so as to keep my head above water. But I have missed checking in with all my friends here in blogland, and so here is a quick catch-up so to speak!

My little ones party seems a while ago now but we did have a wonderful time!

It started off gloriously sunny that morning and the new tee-pee...

and new water / sand table were big hits with the birthday girl. (Mummy says sand on one side, water on other side. Don't be silly Mummy, two year olds know it's sludge both sides!!)

The bunting and paper pom-poms prettied up the place a bit...

But by the time the bouncy castle (with slide - v.important) arrived the black clouds had appeared and were very threatening :o(
It was a case of dodging the rain showers and dashing in and out of the house. The children still managed to get lots of bouncing done and we still had a really good time, despite the less favourable weather!

and of course we still were able to enjoy the yummy food...

including some of Nigella's brownies. I haven't made these for a while and my children were giddy with excitement that they were included on the menu as they love them so much (too much!)

I can't take credit for making the birthday cake however. My lovely work friend made this for us, isn't it brilliant!
So the day was a success and fun was had by all :o)

A week or so later was my eldests school prom. She likes to be different and stand out from the crowd, and she decided she would have a 'steam punk' style outfit. 

I made her blouse using the same pattern I used for the blouse I showed you here, but I made the sleeve longer. This pattern has been very useful indeed! The rest of her clothing was brought at Camden market on a couple of recent visits, and although she was dressed very different from most of her peers I thought she looked gorgeous and am very proud of her individual style. Well those Clockwork Orange style goggles on the hat I don't get but then as 'mother' I guess I'm not supposed to!

While I wasn't very well I wasn't feeling in the mood for much crafting, however a couple of evenings ago I knew I was on the mend as I spent a few hours sewing my latest quilt...

and this morning, still in my PJ's I finished the top off. I'm really pleased with how it's coming along and have ordered some fabric for the backing that had been reduced in the sale. I will of course show you all when it's done.

Crochet wise, this Corsica cardigan by Rowan is giving me a headache!

I cannot lie, the shaping of the front neckline while still making the lacy pattern is a challenge for me, but you know I won't give up on it so I will keep you posted...

A long post today, congrates if you're still with me! There are still some other things I want to share with you so hopefully I will be back quite soon, and not leave it too long to pop my head in to say hello.

Happy forthcoming week to you all,
'till next time...

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Give-away Winner!

104 entries!

One picked at random,

The winner of my give-away is Gabriela!!!

Well done! I have sent you an email, please reply with your postal address so I can get your prize on it's way to you :o)

'till next time...