Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Bill's new life

For those of you who have been wondering what's happened to Bill I can now reveal that he's being thoroughly product tested.

Last week he was put in a box together with his matching big boy cardigan. He arrived safely in Peckham and has been awaiting the arrival of his new best buddy Edward. He's enjoyed spending time in south east London but is now off to a new home.

Doesn't Edward's new big boy cardigan looks great. He likes its yummy organic softness and its matching vintage buttons.

Edward's first review

I like Bill's hat but can we have more ribbon please?

Edward then fell asleep.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Summer sales

I love a good bargain and this week I've had some real bargains. I also love shopping in Cardiff. It's always has been good but with the new extension to St David's we've also got a John Lewis. I like to wonder around and go Ooooh Ahhhh but rarely buy. I'm still a Howells fan but I miss David Morgan's so much.

Enough of that. I want to show you my best buys.

Half price! Yes. half price in John Lewis. Actually more than half price.

I've still got to decide what I'm going to do with all this yummy yarness. I was so happy I made a bow.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Crochet terms

We're into the purple again today,
"England and America are two countries separated by a common language."

George Bernard Shaw

Irish dramatist, socialist (1856 - 1950)

Oh, yes? GBS was obviously given to a spot of crochet now and then. To the bafflement of many a person new to crochet not only do they have to untangle hook from yarn but learn two new languages at the same time.

Crochet terms are confusing. Before you start any pattern you need to work out what language it's written in. American, English or Japanese. Some of the best Japanese patterns are shown in crochet symbols. It's all a bit bewildering if you're just starting off.

Some of the best advice I've read was from Edie Eckman. It's important to realise;

Crochet is made up of just three movements.
  1. Put your hook somewhere
  2. Wrap your yarn around the hook
  3. Pull the hook through something
She makes it sound so easy. Experts always do. With experience you can use these movements in an endless variety of ways. Using different materials, colours, hooks and stitches you can come up with original work every time.

Before you get that experience you need to know the basics.

Put your hook somewhere first. Start with a knot. No need for a hook you can tie this with your hand.

Poke your hook through it.

Wrap the wool around the hook once and pull it through the knot.

This is called a chain stitch (ch).

Your pattern will tell you how many you need to make.

To make a ring you poke your hook through the first stitch you made,

Wrap your wool around the hook and pull the hook through both the stitches to close the ring

In patterns you'll see that as slip stitch (sl st) into the first chain (ch) to form a circle.

Those two terms are common in English and American

The most common stitches you'll find are double crochet and treble crochet and this is where it all gets complicated. I'll show you in a chart.

English/ American

chain stitch  (ch)  chain stitch   (ch)
slip stitch   (sl st)  slip stitch    (sl st)
double crochet (dc) single crochet (sc)
treble crochet   (tr)  double crochet (dc)
half treble crochet (htr)  half double crochet (hdc)
double treble crochet (dtr)  treble crochet  (tr)
triple treble crochet (tritr)  double treble  (dtrc) 

As you see it all goes weird with the English double crochet and American single crochet. There is no single crochet in English terms.

I always think it's easiest to think of the stitches as the number of loops you have on your hook. This is why I use English terms.

double crochet -
poke your hook in, wrap the wool over, pull through - 2 loops on the hook, wool over the hook and pull through the 2 loops.

treble crochet - 
wool over hook, poke the hook in, wrap the wool over, pull through - 3 loops on the hook, wool over hook, pull through two loops, yarn over again, pull through last two loops.

Good patterns will tell you what terms they are using. Free pattern sites often don't. Great free patterns can be found at Garn Studio which is great for knitting and crochet. It gives a choice of terms too.

Lion Brand is also a good site for patterns and for tutorials. It also has a stitch section. This uses American terms only.

Have fun with it and let me know how you get on.

Hopefully a bit better than me and Blogger today. it's decided to reformat everything I've done! Plus it hasn't let me preview. So if you've come to me and the page has been a mess you know why!



Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Nesting bowls

Working on the premise that you can never have enough storage I've been trying to get myself organised. With so many things on the go at the same time I need lots of small containers. I've seen some great patterns for stash baskets but didn't want to spend my time battling with patterns. They needed to be sturdy, not too deep that I lost things in them and easy to store when not in use. So I came up with the answer - a set of nesting bowls.

I spent most of the morning trawling through endless variations, none of which I wanted. By lunchtime I decided that I should think of it as simple Maths. Ha! I'm useless at Maths but I do like repetition and seeing patterns in things. Thinking of it logically, it's a circular base and sides.

I'd made plenty of coasters but had joined each round with a slip stitch and I'd once had a go at an amigurumi whatsit.

Using my practice acrylic and the largest hook I own (5.5mm) I set forth into the unknown.

I used the two colours that I had plenty of. You see? I am learning!

Blue and green, so this is a two thread double knit job.You also need a stitch marker. I move it to the start of each repeat.

To make a circle you need to have a steady increase.

Make a magic loop and chain 5. Slip stitch to form a ring. Close the magic ring here.
You don't join the rounds with a slip stitch. It will be a spiral.

1) 8dc in ring. Remembering to mark your first stitch. (8)
2) 2dc in every dc of the first round. (16)
3) 1dc then 2dc in next stitch. Repeat to end (24)
4) 1 dc in every stitch (24)
5) 1dc in next 2dc of previous row, 2dc in next stitch. Repeat to end (32)
6) 1dc in every stitch (32)
7) 1 dc in next 3 dc of previous row, 2dc in next stitch (40)
8) 1 dc in every stitch (40)
9) 1 dc in next 4 dc, 2dc in next stitch.

Can you see the pattern? Took me ages. Your last 2dc in the increase row should always come in the stitch before the marker for the start of the next row.

Carry on with one increase row followed by a normal row until you have a base of your desired size.
Mine are 20 cm, 14 cm and 10cm.

Now you've come this far you need a row that will mark the beginning of the sides. It will be too confusing, for me, to number it so I'll call it ...

1) ch1, miss next stitch 1dc in next stitch, ch1 miss next stitch 1dc in next stitch.
It can be difficult to see the stitch but running up the side of the dc in the previous row there should be a side thread. Push your hook through this. So you carry on chain 1, skipping next stitch, 1 dc until you come to the end of the round.

Now you just dc in every stitch until your sides are as deep as you want them and fasten off.

Depending on the firmness of the texture of your work you can either have a straight side or you can fold the sides over to make it stronger. Which is what I've done with mine.

I hope I've been clear. Get back to me if you have any problems. Send me your pictures too if you end up making any bowls. Suggestions and comments are always welcomed - provided they're polite ones of course!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Seed heads

What to do when it's sunny? Do you take advantage of the fine weather or do you sort out what needs to be done first and then enjoy it? Unusually for me - being the procrastinator that I am - I decided to get the mundane over with and then  relax. So I did the shopping and noticed that my blinking, 'IT'S TIME FOR A SERVICE' light came on in the car. I hate intelligent cars!

Shopping done, I stored it in the boot and thought, 'That tyre doesn't look right.' Down to the pips.

Service and new rear tyre!

Shopping packed away and the weather turning cloudy, I decided to go out into the garden. I took some pictures for my next project.

This is my lawn. Or this is the lawn you deserve if it's not cut! A crop full of plantain. The seed heads are great. When we were children we used to fold the long stems over and shot the seed heads at each other. Did they sting!

Up close they are beautiful.

It's also time to pick my allium seed heads.

Cut them and bring them in to dry out. The seeds can be collected and sown next year. If you don't want to do that you can just enjoy them as the are.

So now it's raining. They did say it would be changeable. I'm going to load these and then print them off on a grid. Let's see what they look like embroidered.

Friday, 3 June 2011


I'd like you to meet Bill, so called because he's been compared to a burglar. When was the last time you saw a burglar wearing blue and cream stripes?

Bill, the totally organic doll. He's hand knitted and has a little crochet collar. Made from organic cotton and stuffed with organic wadding, he's the most environmentally friendly doll you can find.

He's been on my to finish list for a while. I didn't want to stuff him with polyester. He's had to wait for me to open up my lovely package from Organic Cotton Biz.

If you want to see some really inspiring knitting check out Little Cotton Rabbits and Mary Jane's Tearoom

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Front page!

What a day!

As if two blogs in one day wasn't enough I've also made it to the front page of Etsy with my cushion cover. Yeah!

Also newly listed today;

Working on this blanket I discovered joining rounds with a half treble. It bring you smack in the right place for the start of your next row. Only a little thing but I had fun making it and now it has to go.

hay, Hay

or subtitled

A day of chance meetings and encounters in the borderlands.

that's what you call purple prose!

This week marks the beginning of the summer festival in Wales.

The Urdd Eisteddfod (pronounced -  irr th   eye steth vod  - or there abouts. As my Welsh teacher used to say, 'Roll your rrrs'.) is on in Swansea.

It's one of Europe's largest cultural youth festivals but not like Reading, Leeds or Glasto. It's a showcase of talent but all in the Wales language. It's a junior version of the National Eisteddfod which takes place in August. Children of all ages compete against one another in poetry, dance, song, writing, and art. They would have been practising their items for months.

This week also sees the annual Hay Festival in full swing. Set just outside the town and in the Brecon Beacons this festival attracts people from all over the world. The trick is to book talks well in advance and to plan your day like a military manoeuvre.

For the last three years I had worked at Hay. At Hay Fever to be precise. It's a section of the festival that provides children's activities. The last time I worked there, I came home covered in Modroc after spending the day making baby puffins. Oh, I feel a tutorial coming on!

Some of my memories of Hay are not good!

I returned on a whim after a chance conversation with a friend. We hadn't booked in for any talks - to be honest I hadn't heard of some of the speakers. We hadn't planned it like a military manoeuvre - no picnic basket full of goodies.

I'm not saying that the well trained soldiers from Sennybridge would ever carry a picnic basket!

We did prepare for the weather, taking several layers of clothes. Most of which we wore all day. Brrrr!

I saw lots of people I used to work with. Ha, ha!

The highlights?

Well, certainly this lady.

It's Judith Kerr! She wrote the Mog books. I loved those books and so did my children.

How I wish now I'd bought a book and joined the signing crowd.

We met up with old friends just before we were due to leave. Their little ones had a long list of autographs and had been celeb spotting for most of the day. As we were talking a gentleman rushed down the walkway.

'Wow!' we all said.

'He'll be coming back,' we said.

As we are all cowards we sent the bravest of us all to ask him to add to the list.

Yes, it's Dara O Briain with our darling, brave Anna. Thank you, Dara, for taking the time when you were obviously in a rush . He was a real gentle man.