Thursday, 27 October 2016

Too much frogging going on

I seem to be hiccuping a bit, not much going on at the finishing front here!

Two are two biiig wips hidden in my closet, one of which really hurt my shoulder last year, so it's hibernating a bit.  And I tried all kinds of other things, that doesn't work like I want it to.

I saw a really beautiful shawl, the Dragon Wing/ Lizard Shawl  by Jasmin Räsänen...ooh, I wanted to start immediately, and did so...and couldn't find joy.

I think it might have been the ridges.

...I frogged it here. 

I started the Monsoon Shawl twice now (no, correction, the yarn changed twice...) - first in dark navy Vinnis Serina - which didn't show the stitch pattern.  The I added Ivory.  Then I frogged and added jewel colours.  Then I frogged,

And started again, in the new Moya Caresse.  The colours worked beautifully...but I didn't like the pattern.

(Love the shawl, not the pattern?  Yes, that can happen).

But - frogged

Then I had coffee with a hooky friend who made this most beautiful scarf/shawl - I might have been a bit overcome with admiration, because she gave it to me!  Her work is always so beautiful and I'm truly honoured to show this off:

Simply Crochet saved my crochet drought with this little amigurumi packet and I quickly could make a little bat for my batman-besotted youngest one :-D

Mouse ears...on a bat?

It was a simple, easy pattern, even when doing it late at night by a fire!

And now I started with Cherry Heart's Painted Roses Throw.  This was why I bough the Moya Caresse, after I've seen the colours.  I really wanted to try in old, faded, vintage colours.  There might be one or two brighter ones in my selection already,  but things look promising!

Here goes...hoping to be finished by Christmas!

Sunday, 25 September 2016

A tiles-inspired blanket

And finished is the Tiles Blanket!

Freshly off the block

This Tiles Blanket was started impulsively and grew quickly, until...April happened, which is always a huge, busy month for us, with my sis coming to visit, Ironman, 361 and all kinds of things happening, and bags with crochet projects in them are taken off the table, to a shelf, to a wardrobe, to the back of the wardrobe...until the day you clear up and Oh My Soul here's the Tiles Blanket!

Only to realise the clear-up also included two boxes of yarn that might have contained the yarn needed to finish this...and I didn't want to buy it ended up a bit smaller that planned, but exactly the right size for a wheelchair user, or a baby, so all ended well.

While joining (with wip stitch) I realised:

1) I should have used join-as-you-go, because the white row plus join was now a bit wide
2) The white row had 4 stitches per wide grey space, but that was one too many for the join and then it ruffled. 

But I had already joined two strip of 5 squares, so no unraveling was going to happen, and it really isn;t the end of the world.  

And then I love borders, so I couldn't wait to grab Around The Corner Crochet Borders to choose one, eventually deciding on nr 34 without the last row of SC.
(Ok, I actually lost yarn chicken ;-)
(And it's grey, because that was the only colour yarn left, and it worked out quite fine!)

I really love how the colours worked out.  I did play around with 2 or 3 more, but settled on the 4 used here (and now I'm wondering how this would in hand-dyed Vinnis Nikkim!).

Off the blocks (yes, the acrylic did block nicely) it travelled al over the house, draped here and folded there...

Outside on the stoep table

It nearly stayed in my house , but it was a promised blanket and I'm happy that it already arrived at Maak 'n Verskil, from where I hope it will make the recipient happy as well.  

Early-morning light is the best

A beautiful, easy pattern, nice yarn and pretty colours makes for an enjoyable project that I might even duplicate at some stage!

All the info on my Ravelry page.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Kry dié boek - Vrouekeur 50 Hekelpatrone

Ek is mal daaroor dat die oplewing in hekel ook beteken dat daar 'n oplewing in die hekelboekbedryf beteken!  Elke nou en dan val 'n nuwe hekelboek op my rak, waarvan Vrouekeur s'n die mees onlangse is. 

Vrouekeur 50 Hekelpatrone

Vrouekeur is bekend vir die hekel- en breipatrone wat gereeld in die tydskrif verskyn, asook die klein hekel- en breiboekies wat die afgelope paar jaar verskyn het.  Hierdie boek is 'n welkome byvoeging en het 'n lekker verskeidenheid om uit te kies.  

Baie hekelboeke het 'n afdeling voor of aan die einde met 'n verduideling van a) hoe om te hekel en b) 'n verskeidenheid steke.  Dit regverdig (myns insiens) eintlik 'n boek op sy eie omdat dit waardevolle patroonplek in beslag neem.   Hier het Vrouekeur reg gedoen en gebruik slegs een bladsy vir patroonafkortings met kort verduidelikings.  Die patrone het elk 'n duidelike, groot kleurfoto, met ekstra inligting of wenke waar nodig.   

Die boek is verdeel in vyf afdelings: Hoedjies, Skoentjies, Dogtertjies, Vrouetruie en Komberse - baie duidelik pienk en vroulik. En hoewel ek nou nie regtig in die skoentjie/dogtertjie-mark val nie, is daar wel mooi patrone in wat ek definitief sal maak!

...die volgende babatjie in my groter vriendekring kry dalk so hasiehoed. Of die padda op bl 11!

 Of die harlekyn...of die katjie...hei, wat van Pippelotta!

Die Skoentjie-afdeling begin met 'n nuttige gids tot verskillende groottes skoensole, wat dan gebruik kan word vir die verskillende patrone: plakkies, sandaaltjies, verskillende tipes sokkies en moccasins.

My belangstelling lê by die Kombersafdeling, waar daar regtig heelwat mooies is.  Ek het sommer vinnig blokkie B van die Nostalgie-kombers probeer :

Een proefblokkie - effens aangepas

Patroonlees kan moeilik raak: baie afkortings en baie rondtes raak besig op 'n bladsy, maar die patrone is eenvoudig en maklik beskryf.  Ek hou van diagramme, wat hierdie boek ongelukkig nie het nie, maar sommige patrone het wel 'n uitlegdiagram. 

Tussen die 55 patrone sal daar definitief genoeg wees om die gemiddelde hekelaar gelukkig te hou, veral iemand wat baba/kinderkleertjies maak.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

A dark-side cowl

This whole winter I longed for a cowl around my neck.

Polo-necked sweaters just don't work anymore, and although there's a neat basket full of various types of scarves, I. Wanted. A. Cowl. 

A twistie cowl, almost à la Crochet in Paternoster.

A double cowl to go around my neck twice.

A snug enough cowl that would not sag down to my breastbone, but actually cover my neck and throat.

Obviously there were many starts and stops and hiccups , but then I found the Kartopu Ketenli in the yarn shop...

20% wool, 10% linen, 70% acrylic

I totally love the look of this yarn, that is also available in a handful of other colours, but the black, oh, the black is mine, with the specks of whitish yarn, and it is soft enough to go near one's neck...

Clearly the Ninja likes it as well.  No knitting on the bed while the cat's also snuggling there.

Ah - make that "both cats".

Chloe is just too cool to pretend to want to play with yarn

Okay so, when knitting, I actually only like moss stitch. Stockinette is beautiful, especially with a variegated yarn, but the sides curl.  And garter is easy peasy (and would actually also have worked with this), but.  Moss is my favourite.  Totally love the texture. 

Here's my moss.

The knitting is straight forward. I cast on stitches until I thought it was wide enough, knitted until it was long enough to wrap double around my neck, twisted in and slipstitched the ends together.  Then I thought I'd like to try a lacy pattern around the edge, just to see what it would look like...a small one.

All done and edged

Here's the lacy border - #115 from  "Around the Corner - Crochet Borders" by Edie Eckman. I did make a slight change and used SC instead of DC in the first round.

The border is small enough not to be bothersome, but you can see it :-)


It looks quite snug, but it's not tight, and relaxes through the day.  Lessons learnt from cowls past ;-)

And it still is cold enough that I could wear it this week, and there's a promise of a cold weekend coming. 

Lacy twisty cowl

Thursday, 4 August 2016

At last, a Summer Throw Completed

At last, at last, a final post about the Summer Throw, that has actually been completed so long ago and is in use on the bed, even as a winter throw, but oh, the shame...because there was still more than a few ffffrafels* to work away...

But luckily I have a wonderful aunt, who came to visit, and she loves helping out with predicaments like these, and she Sat Down and Worked All The Ends Away.

I have shown most of the blanket before, but here's some more :-)

Sometimes it's folded on my trousseau kist, and Chloe Cat** wil curl himself up on the softness.

Most often it lies in a crumpled pile on the bed, after one or both of the boys came through our room

I've long stopped trying to straighten it.

It's just easier leaving it on a friendly, crumpled heap.

...because this lasts only a few second for the purpose of this photo.

...then I fold it back to start folding laundry, and the boys come in, and start jumping/playing...and off we go again :-)

Here's some of the history, since this throw has been coming a loooong time:

First, I did it the proper way and made a mock-up, a trial version, to get the colour patterns right. 

Then, over some months, I hooked furiously, then let it lie, then planned a house, then moved across the country, hooking in between, and at some stage when it was begin enough, started using it, with fffrafels all over the place and no edge.

Here I explained my colour placement.

And now it's done, with unedited photos (I forgot) at various light levels and what not, but at least it's on the bed.

The pattern was the Sorbet & Lace Square in the Ideas Crochet magazine available on Zinio.

The yarn was the lovely 10 ply Colours of Grace Magdalene, sadly discontinued, but soon to be followed with something new...

I think I used a 4.5 hook...but there might have been a 4 and 5 appearing sporadically...

 *fffrafels = those ends.  Or where you joined yarn.  Anything that needs to be worked away. "Frays", in Afrikaans it's "rafels",, but then one becomes a bit bit agitated and adjectives are added...

***Chloe Cat = Chloe is actually a male, but when he arrived at the mine where he worked as a Mouse Catcher, it was thought that he was a she.  Which he wasn't.  When the mine closed, all the cats had to be re-homed, and my resident geologist chose Chloe, whom then flew 1500 km to his new home, and might forever still be address as "she", even thought Chloe O'Reilly is "he".

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Catching up and taking stock

Time flies, eh, when...

a) you're having fun

b) but actually get busier with the boys at school

c) and really shut down most everything while the sisi is visiting here from Eire

d) and then it's crunch time when the man of the house does Ironman (2h20min improvement!) and a week later the 361 MTB Challenge (finished in 27h30min) so we all just crash for a while

e) but actually after 18 months you're still not totally in love with the Mac (So I don't work on it every day0

f) AND: Inflamed labrum. Tennis elbow. Pinched nerve. Trigger finger.  All On The Same Arm.

So everything is happening very slowly here. And the attention span is also prone to jumping all over the place, therefor some crossing to the Dark Side happened (that helped while nursing all the injuries).

Some WIP's, longer and shorter term...

The first ever meant-to-be-a-blanket!

When I first learnt to crochet,  way back in 2012 (2011?), I immediately wanted to make the Vintage Stripe Blanket. Having no idea of yarn type, thickness, quality, hook sizes, stitches, nothing.  The only Known here, is that I used some Elle Rustica, and started with a chain.  Whatever combination of stitches I thought was making, no one will know.  And then I realised the edge was so uneven that ragged did not really describe it :-D

SO - swiftly abandoned, but not destroyed.  I firmly believed that it could be saved in the form of a cushion cover, or wrap (for a while) or poncho (for a while) and it wil now be transformed into the final version of...a poncho!  And might get an extra edge. Can't get rid of it.

Tiles Blanket

This is a recent starter - blanket inspired by tiles...ooh, haven't done a thing since my previous post.

Baerenwolle Linus Scarf

This is actually my third Linus! My sis gave me this beautiful Baerenwolle red yarn and it's all rolled and ready, but I'm stopping and starting and stopping and starting while I should be doing this with my eyes closed.

A cycle beanie

Black yarn.  Black yarn should be banned.  One should have to apply in triplicate before starting anything in black yarn! This is for a cycling friend who needs something thin underneath her helmet for those cold days, hence Thin Black Sock Yarn.

I've been working on/avoiding this for Almost A Year.

A Japanese Scarf

Beautiful yarn (Nurturing Fibres in Driftwood), beautiful pattern...fussy pattern.

Malabrigo Linus Scarf

Oh, what a JOY it is to work with Malabrigo, even in sock yarn, and this colourway (Zarzamora) might just be one of the most beautiful I've set eyes on! This Linus Scarf took a long time, because of the thin yarn, but I love, love love it.  Just needs a small crochet border, and then I'm ready for the cold weather that just descended.

Sampler Shawl

It's upside down.  Nothing in this world will rotate the photo.   This is al beautiful, simple pattern, and in Vinnis Nikkim and some I Love Yarn, it will feel like a hug around my shoulders. it's also my current WIP, whilst ignoring the others :-D

There were/are others.

There's an Elise Shawl V3 (don't know where!).  But that's where the injuries started, with V1.  And there's been a cowl, and a bunny beanie that became a Yoda beanie (for that matter, some more beanies), another Linus Scarf, ah, a Graceful Shells Cowl that was finished (photos still downloading).

I'll catch up.  It's winter holidays soon.  Let's just get through the Gr 6 test cycle, eh?

Friday, 19 February 2016

Playing with my Tiles-WIP

Instead of completing my own Winter Blanket, or my boy's Summer Throw, or any of the 5/6/7 various shawls/cowls/tryouts currently on the hook elsewhere in the house, I have been playing around on Moldiv, mosaic'ing my new Tiles Blanket WIP...oh ja, another new one :-D

There's been quite a few posts by Ons Hekel members the last couple of weeks, of beautiful tile floors, and similar comes by on Instagram almost on a daily basis (oh my soul, Anneke alerted me to THIS: I Have This Thing With Floors)and even on my dusty, sadly neglected Pinterest board there were tiles, mosaics, floors, I snapped to attention and declared it Time To Crochet A Tile Floor and luckily there's enough stash, I didn't even have to buy more.

I looked at many, many photos - on Ons Hekel, on IG, on my Pinterest, on Pinterest in general, in magazines (it's a dark vortex, I tell ya) and then just printed these two to come up with a basis for colour choices. I didn't even try to come up with exact matches, but I thought something lacy-ish would work. Quickly it was a mad rush through through possible patterns, and goodness knows, there's enough books here and in the end I decided on Jan Eaton's Croydon Square, yeehaaa which is working fine!  (Although the well-known Rustic Lace Square should work beautifully, as well as the Sorbet & Lace Square).

Match this.  Colourwise.  And cross fingers it will work out. 

I started out with 6 or 7 colours in different sequences  and combinations - believe me, I hooked and frogged and hooked and frogged this square so many times, discarding and adding and simplifying until I ended up with four colours.

Here's my yarn (and an unblocked square):

Mist (light blue), Pepper (greenish grey), Ivory (white) and Ruby (red)

All four of these colours have been tried out in all possible positions, but this one looked best:

This be the tile

Blocking acrylic is at best not a real option, but I did block it on a frame and steamed it quite thoroughly, relaxing those strands and getting it more or less flat and square.

And then I wondered "but will it work???", hence the above mosaic, and since it prove to be a hit on Ons Hekel, I took that same mosaic'd photo and mosaic'd it further to see a possible blanket...

Aaaah...gotta love cellphone apps!

Does it look like a tiled floor?

So this will be my blankie, albeit it a bit smaller.  I'll be making a lapghan to donate again to the Maak 'n Verskil group (Make A Difference) who distributes blankets to the elderly, children, disabled or general people in need. 

Edge.  What edging should I use?

But first, at least 29 more squares.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Get this book - Hooked on Mandalas/Mandalas to Crochet

I was whining a bit today, and contemplating how to justify the purchase of yet another crochet book, when I already have a good twenty or so on the shelf and a WIP list of a mile.  So I went back to the bookstore, for a Proper Second Look, after yesterday's Quick First Browse ... and before I knew, I was already in the coffee shop (WIP to hand) and reading it like a novel.

Behold - Hooked on Mandalas by Haafner Linnsen:
(this is the South African title.  In the UK and US it was published as "Mandalas to Crochet"

I was testing another mandala - beautiful - and that's my Ilona Heritage Hook from Yarn in a Barn :-)
And my cappo got cold

Doilies and mandalas have had a tremendous increase in popularity over the last couple of years. it is being coloured in and crocheted and turned into rugs and is currently the topic of a large project #MandalasforMarinke, by Kathryn Vercillo in remembrance of crochet blogger Wink.  This book ties in perfectly with the current trend.

If you crochet and you are online, you know about Haafner, author of the blog By Haafner, she of the beautiful retro pastel colours, the popcorn blanket and the doilie installations on the wall.  Thirty of those doilies have now made it into this utterly beautiful book.

Haafner was trained in cultural history and art and this is evident in her introduction where she gives a short background to her crochet approach as well as the history and origin of mandalas.  

The books starts off with a very useful "Before you begin" section.  This includes doubles pages of 

* Yarns*
 Comparing the same pattern in different yarns and hook sizes with the photos in 50% of actual size and the hooks at full size. How useful is that?

*Colour me happy*
Some advice on colour schemes and combinations, again comparing different versions of the same pattern.

*Read this first*
DO.  Because that's what grabbed me. This section covers some tips on starting, joining and reading the charts, including that only a section of each chart is coloured - meaning that you don't have to keep your wits together as the Where You Are in this only need to focus on the coloured section that makes up the main motif, while against the context of the whole circle.  Clever!

*How to crochet the perfect mandala*
Starting seamlessly and joining invisibly. Increasing rows and how to keep your circles flat. Blocking.

*Crochet refresher course*
A couple of pages with very clear illustrations on the basics of crochet stitches, how to make those front and double posts, and, so useful: standing stitches, joining with a needle, and weaving in ends...clever tips to make starts, joins and ends invisible. 

By now I was sold, but then the colour photos started.  Beautiful, clear pictures of her work.
I want to make all the mandalas. Okay, I probably won't, but I could see placemats, hot pads, a rug or two, cushion covers ...(and that was before I got to the project pages).

I see a protea, or a pebble dropping in a pond

Each pattern stands alone with a large, clear photo and the diagram and instructions on a white page with no embellishments or distractions (very important, book authors and layout artists!). On the pattern page you'll find a sentence or two about the pattern, a recommended hook size and final size (I assume when done with DK according to the yarns used).  

After the pattern section, Haafner included five beautiful border patterns that could suit each of the mandalas in the book.

The Grace border which I'm immediately going to use on a beanie!

 And as a bonus - some projects to make with your mandala.  Choose from a boho bag, hotpad, tablemat, summer scarf, flowery lap blanket, rug and a hexagon blanket.

The book ends with a list of symbols and abbreviations, as well as a comparison between UK and US stitches.

This is Haafner's first book and I really hope for another.  It is pretty, well laid out, the patterns are written clearly and simply and the look is crisp and clean.  I love it, easily bought it and happily recommend it.

Also find Haafner on Instagram and Ravelry.

Hooked on Mandalas is a Quarto book, published by Struik Lifestyle  2016 with ISBN 978-1-43230-657-1

So how did I justify it?
I love books.  I have a lot of them.  I read and re-read them. 
 And one day, when the bookshelves really spill over, I'll clear out and again donate some to the library.  But first I want to make all the mandalas :-D

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

When Santa's helper left his hat

It is a very well known fact in my crochet group that I Absolutely Do Not Like any form of toilet crochet.

Not toilet seat covers, not lid covers, not matching sets covering each and every object in the bathroom, not those dolls with their Spanish dresses covering a toilet roll, nothing.  I do not promote it, when it appears I cower in a corner until it has moved down the Timeline, and otherwise I try to promote beautiful, modern crochet.
(Yes...I know, but - my group, my taste etc.)

But then I made this:

Seems there's an elf about...

I know!! Bless my soul, a toilet roll cover In My Own Guest Loo!!

Okay, so I saw similar somewhere on the web, browsed past, but obviously it stuck in the back of my mind although I never went back, and I was putting up Christmas decorations all over the house, inside and out, and I thought, what the heck, let me ride this idea and make Prettier Toilet Crochet. 

Start with...a starting chain

Didn't have the pattern link, so I had to wing it.  Starting out with a base chain that would ensure a semi-snug fit around my roll of toilet paper.  Single crochet from there. I hooked quite a wide band of white, as I want to fold it over resembling a furry edge to the hat.

Onwards with the hat

Once I though it would be wide enough to double over, I continued with red, until as least a few rows taller than the toilet roll.

Now I had to shape this thing, with no idea how.  Some decreasing of stitches had to be done, and the first attempt (reducing one stitch every second row) left me with a veeeeeeery long, pointy hat - no good.  A decrease in every row resulted in a hat too short.  So in the was every one-and-three-quarters of a row.  #exasperated

As I was going in the round as per amigurumi and not really counting, I marked the last spot with white, more or less went one and three quarters around before decreasing again...

White yarn marks the last spot

...until it was done and I folded over the white and then had to do something to the pointy bit, and I didn't want to make a pompom, when happily these appeared in a kitchen drawer of all places:

Jingle Bells :-)

And off the hat went, to spend Christmas in the guest loo, with all kinds of funny and quirky and pretty, Anneke's doily rug and my mom's potty (for used hand towels),  my poetry collection and cartoons, a 1994 voter's letter and some pretty pictures, my gran's frame repainted and a Moroccan wire shelf.

That's a beaded wire scorpion on the floor.

Toilet crochet, but prettier

Until the next project!  

Which might be green and orange...roll on Paddy Day?

Sunday, 17 January 2016

On the hook, at last, and randomising stripes

After nine long weeks of enforced hooky rest, the result of intense Elise Shawl-hooking, there are small signs of a recovering shoulder/elbow.  Let me not count my yarn balls too quickly, though!

So I'm slowly picking up work again, and first priority is my little one's Tommie-blanket, a summer throw for his bedroom.  Just a few rows at a time, so as not to overwork the fragile right arm ;-)

One row, and another...

Immediately I was asked about my random colours, and as usual, it is not random.  This Gemini mos wants randomised order (see the Project Bohemia summer throw).

First off, I'm using all my summery yarn stash: Vinnis Nikkim/Bambi/Serina, I Love yarn - Imagine, Sublime Egyptian Cotton, Rico Baby Cotton, Unlabeled Yarn That I Can't Identify etc...

The base colour is Vinnis Bambi "Blue-Gray", which you'll see in every third row.  Now...

I started with Base.


Warm - Neutral - Cool
Cool - Navy - Warm
Warm - Neutral - Cool
Cool - Navy - Warm infinitum until The End.

(I might have switched some around resulting in Warm - Navy - Cool, but it's not the end of the world)

But...Red is obvious, so it must be balanced and every 8th row is thus Red.

Navy is also semi-obvious and therefor every 8th row...balancing with the Neutral, you see :-)

And although Yellow is not strictly every 8th, it is more or less.

I'm not losing my mind, I'm keeping it together and furiously counting rows and colours!  And the randomness will be balanced and keep my colour-OCDness happy. 

Off I go, I hear a cocktail being mixed in the kitchen ;-)