Saturday, 26 April 2014

My dear little friend...

a dear little friend has come to stay...

my dear little friend wonders where to settle...

so many nooks to explore and hide...

my dear little friend has travelled all the way from Etsy land to come and live here in betsy land...

I so glad you came here, my dear little friend!

Thursday, 24 April 2014

African Flower Bag

Hey you guys, thanks so much for your supportive comments on my Magic Hexagon Blanket posts, I very much want to share how I make my things and am always happy to link here, there, and everywhere so if you want more information it's easy to go to. Including a 'tutorial' of sorts is my  way of giving back to blogland as I have used many tutorials others have published. It does take time to write out patterns / instructions, and it probably would've been easier if I had made notes as I went along (instead of weeks after my blanket was finished!) but it's worth it, and I would love it if any of you end up making something similar. And of course if you do I'd love to see (email link in side bar!!!)

So, back to the blogging business of the day.
Do you ever crochet for the sake of it? I do I'm afraid.  Sometimes I just want to have a go at making a particular motif or pattern. With a particular yarn, using certain colours that appeal to me at that moment in time. I love the feel of the yarn around the hook and the satisfaction of making a pretty thing from gorgeous wool, or maybe cotton. I can't say it's the same for sewing - I don't sit at my machine just to feel the whir of the wheels and the up and down of the needle (although a perfect tension row of stitches is very satisfying :o), an end product is always the aim here.

But when it comes to crochet, the process of forming the stitches with loops and yarn-overs is enough to bring me happiness. ( I know I'm in good company here and can confess to such things :0)
And this is exactly how this project started:

Lovely, lovely, lovely african flower motifs. Classic pattern, if you type it into the search engine it's easy to get the written instructions and/or tutorials. Such a joy to make, who needs any more reason than that?

This gift box was my colour inspiration and most of the yarn was either stash or from the January sale bin in the yarn shop, reduced in price to a quid a ball. The main joining colour is Jarol Heritage classic dk in shade 152 and is probably my favourite yarn at the moment, both for colour and texture. One saturday evening, when no one was looking, I picked up the bits I needed and just started crocheting, like I say, simply for the sake of it. I made a few motifs over the next few days and played around with them a bit but I have to admit thoughts of what to do with them started to come to me. I didn't want to commit to a blanket as however much I love the idea I have enough others either on the go or waiting in the wings to be started and so a smaller, slightly quicker item was called for.

Being hexagons means things are not so straight forward as traditional granny squares are they? but I did remember seeing this tutorial for a bag some time ago and decided to have a go at it.

It has turned out really well and I do love it! I had to take my time to work my way through all of the instructions but it's a good tutorial and it all seems to come together in the end.

I attached the handles using embroidery floss.

I lined it with some gorgeous Tanya Welan fabric - I love this rosy print! I just had enough to make a little inside pocket :0)

I used this pretty ribbon trim to finish it off.  I love this little detail so much but it was more luck than judgement that it was included. When making my lining pattern I forget to allow for the small crochet border I had made around the top of the bag and so the lining came up slightly short. Adding the ribbon will help to stop the top edge from curling, well I hope so anyway!

My attempt at a selfie to show off my bag - dismal failure! Where are my girls when I need them????

As far as the handles go, I picked them up on my travels some time ago. The lining fabric and the ribbon (drool) are from The Homemakery ( I think I have a serious website crush here - is there such a thing?) 
Oh b*m, I have just been over to the site to get the link and Kate has some gorgeous new fabrics listed, now where did I leave my willpower?...

have a great day my friends,
'till next time...


Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Magic Hexagon Blanket - part 2

Hello to you all, I'm back with part 2 of my Magic Hexagon Blanket post. I thought I would share with you here how I joined the hexies and also how I made my border for this blanket. Part 1, where I show how I made my hexies can be found here.

I joined my hexies in long strips first and then joined them to each other row by row. I made a total of 105 full hexies and 10 half hexies. I made 6 strips of 10 full hexies and 5 strips of 9 full hexies with a half hexie at each end. The joining method is similar to the last round of each hexie and is done in the same colour, which for my blanket is white.

So firstly take 2 hexies and hold them right sides together:

Start with a slip knot on your hook and go through the corner 2 ch space of both hexies, ch 1 (doesn't count as stitch) and then 1dc, 2ch, into the chain space.

Continue along with 1dc and 2ch into all the chain spaces along one edge of your hexie, finishing off with 1dc in the corner space at the end and fasten off. (you can see why this is an 'endy' project can't you?) Joining like this gives a little ridge on the back but is quite flat on the front, I quite like this way  :0)

So when you have joined all your short sides like this and made at least 2 strips you will need to join the strips together, going up and down the hexagon sides, almost in a zig-zag fashion. As you can see from the photo below I am going to show you how I joined this half-hexie in but the method is the same for the full hexies too.

Again holding the hexies right sides together, start with a slip-knot on your hook in the corner 2ch space of both hexagons and ch1, 1dc 2ch into that 2ch space, and work along your edge as before ( 1dc, 2ch in each ch space). When you get to the next corner, put your hook into the 2ch corner space of both hexies and yarn over:

Pull through loop (2 loops on hook) and then put your hook through the 2ch corner space of the next hexie along, yarn over and pull up loop. Like this:

3 loops on hook.
Yarn over and pull through all 3 loops on hook:


Bring around the hexie so it's in place to start joining the next side of it to the next hexie along. 

and then you can continue along the side with 1dc, 2ch into each 2ch space.

I so hope that these instructions are understandable! It's quite difficult to explain, even though it's fairly simple. Hopefully, when you have your hook, yarn and hexies with you and you are working through it step by step it will become clear :o)

So the border. I didn't want anything too wide on my blanket but I do like to bring it all together with a simple border to finish it off nicely. As I used half hexies I had 2 straight sides, and 2 zig-zag sides to the blanket.

This shows the zig-zag side

 The first row of the border (using the white joining yarn) I went all around the edge of the blanket doing 2 trebles in each 2ch spaces, with 2tr, 2ch, 2tr in the outer, pointy corners (and the actual corners of the blanket) and just 1tr in each of the corner spaces that makes the 'valley' of the zig-zag edge:

Along your straight edges continue to do 2tr in each 2ch space but when you get to where the half hexies and full hexies meet do 1tr in each of the corner 2ch spaces so you don't end up with too many stitches.

The second and final row of the border is made up of 1dc in each stitch (2 in the corners) and picots spaced evenly along. I going to be honest here and confess to fudging it a little to make the picot fall evenly as the maths didn't quite work out. The zig-zag edge is easiest as at the points you do 1dc, 1picot, 1dc in the corner 2ch space. 1dc in each of the next 8 stitches, 1picot, 1dc in next 8 stitches - and then you are at an inner point and you can do another picot there. (my picot is ch3 and slip stitch into the first ch)

On the straight sides I did 1dc in each stitch and made 1picot on every eleventh stitch.

But you know guys sometimes there was an extra stitch in between the picots here and there. For me that's fine, I don't mind and I don't think it notices any. If you are more fussy about these things you'll need to count your stitches and work it out properly.

Well I hope I have been helpful to anyone who would like to make a magic hexagon blanket. I enjoyed making mine and I love using it to snuggle my little girl up at night time in her cot.
It seems to have taken me ages to get round to posting this and I think it's because I worry that my instructions aren't that good. Hopefully you can use this as more of a guide than a bona fide tutorial!!!!

Have Fun!!

'till next time...

Friday, 18 April 2014

Happy Easter!!

Hello there, just popping by to say hi and to wish you all a Happy Easter.

I have been working on the joining method and border instructions of my Magic Hexagon Blanket as promised in my last post so I hope to bring it to you soon. I feel it is a bit of a long time coming, it is taking me longer than I thought! But I'm nearly there with it and will be happy to get it done and dusted.

I finally got around to putting up my little Easter display this morning. Last year was the first time I decorated for Easter and, as I have pretty blossom trees in my garden I planned on using the branches to hang the eggs from. However best laid plans and all that, with the really cold weather the blossom didn't come out in time and I had to think of a plan B. So this year I bought some fake pink blossom to use (which I really like) which is a good job because the blossom has been and gone already on my garden trees - so I still can't use the real thing :0)

You can see our wall sticker behind the blossom. It is lyrics from one of my favourite songs - written by my husband! It says: I love this place, I love your familiar face. I love this life, with you it feels so right.
He's a romantic ol' soul don't you think? 

Above is the link to him performing the song (I have posted a link to this before so sorry to repeat). He'll be very happy that I've put this on here!

We will have to have hard boiled eggs on Sunday morning so we can use these cute egg bobble hats I made last year. They only take a few moments to make and here is the link to the pattern if you fancy having a go :0)

So bye for now from me and my little flower fairy,

'till next time...

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Magic Hexagon Blanket

Magic Hexagon Blanket. There were times when I wondered if I would ever get this finished and give it a title, so it could appear here, not just as a long time WIP but as a finished blanket. And not just so it can have a moment of glory with it's own post, but so it could actually start being used.

But yes, at last here it is, and it has been used a lot as it is in my little ones cot - which it always was intended for. And she gave it it's name, as I was covering her up at bedtime I told her that it was a magic blanket and that when she snuggled into it she would have sweet dreams. She patted her hands on it and said 'magic crochet' (pronounced 'magit crowshay' - she's 21months old). And so it was.

I have been trying to think when I actually started it, certainly a while ago. The yarn I used is Deramores Baby DK in shades apple green, denim blue, primrose yellow, deramores pink, blossom pink, sky blue and snow white. I really love these colours, the deramores pink is my favourite and I  love love love the green!! The other week I was over on the site and I noticed they were celebrating the first birthday of this yarn's launch. Now I know I ordered the yarn when it first came out and started pretty much straight away, so therefore I started this blanket a year ago. Shame on me for taking so long to finish it!! And it's so lovely too, it has come out really fine! So what was the reason for dragging my feet?? The usual. Temptation of other projects and THE DREADED ENDS!!! Yes I didn't deal with them as I went along and there were so many to do (it's a really endy project) and each time I weaved in one end, 3 more would grow! Truth is I found it quite off-putting and it sat folded up on the chair, looking at me and seeming not particularly magical at all.

But as you can see we have a happy ending (sorry about the pun) and I got my finger out and finished this off. As it had been hanging around for centuries I did give it a go in the machine, it washes up really well, coming out brighter, cleaner (obviously) and ready for the photo shoot.

Now as I got a really positive response when I posted a photo of this on a previous post I feel I want to share how I made it, in a 'pass it on' fashion. The design is originally by Liz Mouter featured in Inside Crochet issue 39, but for some reason I didn't get on too well with this pattern and had to take some of the stitches out to make my hexies lie flatter. Now I don't want to diss the original pattern at all, it probably was my dodgy tension maybe? But here is my chart of the stitches I ended up with:

I also joined my hexies in a different way than the original pattern, and created 'half hexies' too as I like to fill in the bigger gaps left when joining hexagons. My border is also different so the whole thing has evolved somewhat from where I started. 

It took me a while to work out how to do the 'half hexies', I like to have them there though. I'll walk you through what I did with a few photos if you like?

Above is the chart of stitches.

Start with a magic loop, ch 6 (counts as 1 dtr, 2ch). (1dtr, 2ch) 6 times into loop, 1dtr. Fasten off and pull magic loop up tight. Turn work.

With new colour join in the first 2ch space (the last one you made before fastening off) ch3 and 1tr in this first chain space. *2tr in next chain space, (2tr, 2ch, 2tr) in next chain space. Repeat from *once more. 2tr in each of the next 2ch spaces. Turn work.

Ch3, 1tr in first stitch (which is at the base of your ch3) 2tr in next stitch. 1tr in each of the next 4 stitches. (2tr, 2ch, 2tr) in next 2ch space (which is the corner) 1tr in each of the next 6 stitches. (2tr, 2ch, 2tr) in next 2ch space (which is the next corner) 1tr in each of the next 4 stitches, 2tr in each of the next 2 stitches (the last stitch is the starting 3ch which I always find tight to stitch into!) DO NOT TURN WORK FROM NOW ON. Fasten off.

With new colour join in first stitch at the start of last row (opposite end to where you fastened off last colour). Ch3 and 1tr into this first stitch. 1tr in each of next 9 stitches. 2tr in next 2ch space (corner) 1tr in each of the next 10 stitches, 2tr in next 2ch space (corner) 1tr in each of the next 9 stitches, 2tr in last stitch. Fasten off.

In joining colour (mine is white) start in first stitch at the start of last row. 1ch (does not count as stitch) 1dc, 2ch, 1dc, 2ch in this first stitch. * Skip 1 stitch, 1dc in next stitch, ch2. Repeat from * 4 more times. Skip 1 stitch, (1dc, 2ch, 1dc, 2ch) in next stitch. **Skip 1 stitch, 1dc in next stitch, 2ch. Repeat from ** 4 more times. Skip 1 stitch (1dc, 2ch, 1dc, 2ch) in next stitch. (Skip 1 stitch, 1dc in next stitch, 2ch) 5 times, and then in last stitch on this side 1dc, 2ch, 1dc, 2ch.

Continue working along the long side of your hexagon with 1dc, 2ch. You need one dc in the side of each treble that starts and finishes rows 2, 3 and 4. You also need 5dc in the side of row 1, so 2 in each of the dtr and 1 in the magic loop. I hope the above picture shows you what I mean!!! Slip stitch into first dc of round and fasten off.
Weave in ends.
Pin out on board and hold a warm steam iron over the hexagon - but not touching it. Hold there for a few seconds steaming your crochet. This helps your hexies lie flat. This blocking method is something I have learned through reading other crochet blogs, it's a great blogging world out there isn't it? :0)
Just a note to all you yarn geeks out there - I am one myself as you know. For the step-by-step instructions I didn't have enough of the original yarn so substituted it with the old faithful Stylecraft special DK in colours candy floss, spring green, denim, cloud blue, white, pomegranate and lemon. They are a great alternative and work really well.

This is turning into a rather long winded post so I think I will leave joining the hexies and doing the border to a 'part two'. Edit, part two can be found here

But I will leave you with a couple more photos to hopefully please your crochet loving eyes:   This blog entry is my submission to the Deramores Blog Awards 2014. Deramores is the UK’s number one online retailer of knitting and crochet supplies. 

'till next time...