Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Holy Cow(l) Batman! (Making a Cowl: The Basics)



So these are appearing a lot now that Autumn is on us (and Spring if you're the other side of the world and it's chilly too)... With kids they make that 'wear a scarf' thing so much easier -to loose ends, harder to get lost, no knotting thing that's uncomfortable.

I know there are a few starter crocheters out there, and this is really a quick and easy project to start with.

YARN:
It's pretty inexpensive too -100g ball of yarn, double knit weight or heavier will just about do a single loop adult cowl (where it just pops around your head). Two balls of 100g chunky could do a super long one (see my profile pic) that can loop twice.


HOOKS:
Anything from 4mm upwards depending on the weight of your yarn. Nothing fiddly here, promise.


HOW TO:
Grab your yarn and hook. Make a foundation chain (the one you start off with) that is long enough to go around the widest part of your head. Then add a couple of loops more. If your yarn is very stretchy, then don't add a few more. If it's very chunky add about five. You want it to get over your swede at the end of the day!

Without twisting the foundation chain, join the chain by slip stitching through the first loop you made. Now you have a circle. (If at this point this has been exhausting, fasten off, add a charm, congratulate yourself on making a necklace and have a lie down).

If you are working in treble stitches (which is quickest and easiest), chain up 3 then work around the whole circle in trebles. Once you get back to the start, slip stitch into the top of you chain of 3, and repeat. (Say to yourself "up, around, join, repeat" and you will not only look like a mad woman or chap, but you will indeed get it right).

Keep going until you are happy with the depth -try ten rows if chunky and fifteen if dk, because you want some snuggly squooshiness about the whole thing.

When you're good and ready, fasten off, work in those loose ends and pop on. Nice work.





APPROX SIZES FOR SMARTY-PANTSES:
Ok, you're not a bodger. That's fine.

For a toddler: Make a foundation chain of 73, (where 3 = your 'up' chain) and work 15 rows in double knit. For chunky, make a foundation chain of 63, and work 10.

For an adult: Make a foundation chain of 88, (includes 3 for 'up'), and work 15 rows in double knit. For chunky, make a foundation chain of 78 and work 12.




Saturday, 5 July 2014

Hooking up on Le Tour de Essex!

We can't avoid it...It's looming and the best we can all do is batten down the hatches, grab some wool and wait for bicycles to zoom past and the roads to open again. Aside from those poor unfortunate souls that gets stuck in an almighty pot hole.

Here's the best of what a couple of crafty types have been up to in the UK leg:


This fabulous lady decided to seriously hook up her bike -possibly better than the spokey-dokies we used to get in cereal packets?


Cambridge University Engineers had to get involved when there were fears that the knitted bunting may weigh down local lamp posts. We are all mightily relieved to know that after they applied some scientific methods (getting a mini jumper soggy, weighing in and then applying some light maths), we should be fine....I was concerned for a while...

Either way, if you can't avoid the traffic you might be able to pack your hook, a ball of yarn and sit tight for the day!


Monday, 30 June 2014

50 Shades of Disarray (or, why you shouldn't take 'lifestyle' magazines seriously)

I have an Instagram habit. I like searching other people's calm shots of perfectly tidy houses, mostly painted in chalky whites, with vintage approved accessories. The kids playrooms are immaculate with  a large curated selection mostly wooden toys of a Scandinavian origin that you know are wholesome and will raise their offspring's IQ by at least 50 points just by pushing them along the floor. The bathrooms never have hair caught behind the door, or blue toothpaste smears on the bath side, or a crappy plastic bin with a flip-top lid because the toddler will eat the contents out of the ethically produced raffia ensemble that you'd otherwise have.

Olivia Palermo in Elledecor.com
In the living rooms the plants aren't dead or infested (as mine were, I'm grim I admit it) with diddy flies, and more to the point they are 'on trend'. Yep, certain houseplants are 'trending', adding an additional life form to maintain aside from the kids and the cat. These houses don't have cats because the 'worn to perfection' supple brown leather sofas have no scratch marks (or felt tip, or mushed biscuit, or husband's spag bol because, who are we kidding, we can't sit up the table unless it's Christmas?).

And so to bed. We crawl under mismatched duvet covers and pillow sets, chucking out Duplo, last week's T-shirts and various copies of the Farmer's Weekly as we go. The beds in these interiors shots are made for princesses that float 6 inches above the heirloom patchwork personally gifted after a summer spent writing the histories of Amish folk in Pennsylvania.

Look at me with my trending flower pot and succulent thingy...

The point is, they aren't real. I can take the occasional good shot (usually close up) of a little corner of my house that I've grouped stuff in that makes me smile. And it can look pretty cool. But it doesn't show what surrounds me. That's real life. Just saying.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

A Very French Affair...


So we spent the week in a giant tent (it was all very Crimson Field) in France opposite a cow field -which cheered up the children and husband no end and provided me with amusement.






The point was to soak up the atmosphere, history and sense of commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. We out-field tripped ourselves, and by the end of it I was struck by several things:

1. The French way of managing events is great. Why have a roadblock when you can just leave people to sort themselves out? This (in our experience the other week) works. So you want to have a picnic and watch a parachute drop from the slip road of a motorway? Sure.


2. D-Day is Northern France. I've tried over the years to get husband to understand that there must be more to France's history than WW2 (and of course, there is), but for that week, in that place, there really wasn't. I guess the feeling of being liberated from occupation is one that they can understand all too well, but I certainly can't and that makes the experience unique.

3. Re-enactment is for winners. They throw themselves into Jeep and truck ownership in a big way, kitting themselves out in period (and not so period) costume and setting up camp. I want to join in. I've started saving up.


4. There is a fine line between commemoration and a big, slightly inaccurately dressed excuse for a party. This was the only unsettling feeling I had about the whole week really. Everyone seemed to be in the party spirit, those that liked dressing up in camp gear had a great opportunity to do so, and the drinks were in abundance. But. Then you catch sight of a veteran, French, American, English, and you realise that their day was very different 70 years ago. It's at that point that the warm glass of cider in your hand is a bit too sickly sweet and perhaps you've misjudged the sense of occasion.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Rainbow Patch Pattern


If you've had a go at some of my patterns you know they fall into the 'bodge it and see' category...Never letting precision stand in the way of some hooky happiness here's a pattern for the rainbow patch on the baby blanket currently for sale in my Etsy shop. 

This one is all about getting a feel for the yarn you're using and adjusting the increases as you go to make sure it lies flat. Also, make sure you give it a light press with a damp tea-towel over the top with a steamy iron at the end. If you want to then appliqué it to fabric, I'd suggest using bondaweb to secure before a discreet running stitch for permanence...Happy Patching!!

You will need:
7 Rainbow colours in dk or light crochet cotton (small bits will do, there's only 2 rows of each);
Size 3.00mm hook
Tapestry needle for the ends

Note: To keep a flat edge at the bottoms, you need to have a turning chain of 2, and then start the next row in the 3rd chain from the hook. At the other end, make sure you get the last loop (it can get pulled tight) before you chain 2 again and turn. This is also written in UK stitches.


  1. Violet: Chain 17, starting in the 3rd ch from the hook, dc across. In the last movement of the final dc, switch in the next colour. Ch2 and turn;
  2. Indigo: (dc, 2dc in same stitch) across. Ch2, turn;
  3. Indigo: dc across. In the last movement of the final dc, switch in the next colour. Ch2 and turn;
  4. Blue: (dc, 2dc in same stitch) across. Ch2, turn;
  5. Blue: dc across. In the last movement of the final dc, switch in the next colour. Ch2 and turn;
  6. Green: (2dc, 2dc in same stitch) across. Ch2, turn;
  7. Green: dc across. In the last movement of the final dc, switch in the next colour. Ch2 and turn;
  8. Yellow: (4dc, 2dc in same stitch). Ch2, turn;
  9. Yellow: dc across. In the last movement of the final dc, switch in the next colour. Ch2 and turn;
  10. Orange: (4dc, 2dc in same stitch). Ch2, turn;
  11. Orange: dc across. In the last movement of the final dc, switch in the next colour. Ch2 and turn;
  12. Red: (4dc, 2dc in same stitch). Ch2, turn; 
  13. Red: dc across. After last stitch, fasten off and work in all of the loose ends.