Monday, 31 July 2017

Cake Yarn Magic

Had a lot going on dear friends; thank goodness for the calmness and peace my crochet work brings me! In the turmoil and mayhem that has filled many of my days of late, and with my concentration levels at almost zero, I chose these two simple projects; easy patterns and beautiful yarn and my first tryout of the hugely on-trend cake yarns. The patterns I used are courtesy of two of my favourite creative ladies.  The Cosy Stripe Blanket is from Lucy @ Attic 24, and the Wrap Around Granny Square Cushion Cover is from Heather @ The Patchwork Heart.

The Cosy Stripe Blanket uses just Double Crochet Stitch (US) or Treble Crochet Stitch (UK), in a two row pattern sequence, simple to follow, not much concentration needed! The beauty of Cake Yarn is as the yarn is taken up in the crochet process, the colour runs blend one into the other, so no pesky colour change threads to take care of. I used Kismet Cupcake DK, and a 4,5mm hook. 

For the border I first did a row of Double Crochet US/Treble Crochet UK, as per Lucy's pattern. The second row is Single Crochet US/Double Crochet UK all round.  Then I did four rows of Linen stitch.

The Wrap Around Granny Square Cushion Cover is so quick and easy.  Just crochet a large Granny Square in Double Crochet US/Treble Crochet UK, place the cushion at a diagonal on your square, and close as per Heather's easy-to-follow instructions.

I love how the cushion cover in the changing colour runs, gives you completely different looks on each side.

My Cosy Stripe blanket is approximately 45 inches/115 cm wide and 50 inches/128 cm long; and weighs 600 gms ( 4 x 150 gm cakes)

It is still chilly in the evenings here in Jo'burg SA, and I am thinking we may yet have some really cold weather before winter is over, so my new Knee Rug fits the bill beautifully!

Keep well, find something good in every day,
much love Pat xxxxxx

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

My Bottom-up Crochet Heart

I have been feeling ridiculously happy these last few days!  We have had autumn rains, and warm days as we head towards the cooler weather.  I am done with the summer heat. Working with yarn has become more than a pleasure, makes me such a happy bunny.  I feel my enthusiasm heightening by the day .. such a good feeling;  and it's time to get the crochet blankets out to air, in readiness for the cool of the evenings ..YAY!
I have a love affair (pardon the pun) with hearts, crochet hearts, felt hearts, any hearts, any shape!

Before crocheting became my bliss, crafting with felt and a bit of decorative embroidery was a great pastime of mine.  My favourite go-to pattern for a crochet heart is The Rose Heart Hanger;  the link can be found here.  My pattern has slightly different starting rows, where you start with a chain, work back along the chain, then flip the work over and commence on the 'bottom' line of the starting chains .... hence the name Bottom-up!!

The pattern is worked in US Terms:  Single crochet (sc), except for 1 Double crochet (dc) in Row 1. The ch1 at the beginning of each row is not counted as a stitch.
Any yarn can be used with the appropriate size hook. The size of hook and thickness of yarn will determine the size of the heart.
For my heart here I have used a size 4mm hook and Katia DK Cotton 'Degrade' 
Make two hearts.  The 'Bottom Up' method of starting the heart, gives a nice even shape. Sometimes I find my heart point a little 'off centre' in patterns I have tried .. it's me! not the pattern! This way I find gives me a nice centre point.

Stitches used
ch:  chain
st:   stitch
sc:  single crochet US  or  dc:  double crochet UK
dc:  double crochet US  or  tr: treble crochet UK
2sctog:  a decrease stitch; 2 single crochet stitches worked together US or 
2 double crochet stitches worked together UK

Chain 4
Row 1:  Sc into 2nd Ch from hook, 1dc in next st, 1sc in last stitch. Ch 1

Row 2:  The crochet continues on the bottom loops of your starting chain, so turn your work clockwise and start next row in first loop of first chain:    2sc in 1st st, (sc in next st) x2, sc in last st .. that's the last loop you see in the photo below - 5 sc;  1ch and turn;

like so

Row 3:  2sc in 1st st, sc in each st to end;  you are adding one stitch each row.
Rpt Row 3 until you have 20 sc across (17 rows)
Next row:  sc across all sts. (18 rows)

First round part of the heart
Next row:  sc across first 10 sts. Ch 1, turn making sure you have 10 stitches remaining for the second round part of the heart 

Decrease rows:

Row 20:  2sctog, 2sc, 2sctog, 2sc, 2sctog (7sts) ch1, turn.
Row 21:  2sctog, 3sc, 2sctog (5sts) ch1, turn.
Row 22:  2sctog, 1sc, 2sctog (3sts).  Cut yarn and tie off.
first dome shape done.

To finish off a row, this is what I do.  I Cut the yarn about 6-7 cm from the crochet piece,  and pull the thread through the last loop on my hook.  Then I pull gently but tightly to make a little knot, which when sewn away neatly into the back of the work, becomes quite invisible.  Like so!

Join yarn to remaining stitches, starting in st 11 from Row 18 and sc to end. Ch1 and turn.   Rpt decrease rows. Cut yarn and tie off.

Sew the threads neatly into the back of your heart piece

This yarn has a lovely fade in the colour

Crochet the two hearts together using sc, leaving a 5+ cm gap to enable the wadding to be pushed in.  Complete working the two hearts together.

An alternative is to sew the hearts together ...
Use a large sewing needle and thread with yarn;  line up the hearts carefully wrong sides together and I pin here and there so that they don't move or slide. Sew together, tie off securely and stitch away ends into body of heart.

 Beautiful shades of purple fading to lilac

To finish your hearts, a simple rose and leaf, or embellishment of your choice is fun to add, crochet a chain loop on the top and you have a pretty addition to a birthday gift, a door hanger, a decoration to hang on your dressing table, or your favourite mirror.  Attach a silver ring and use as a handbag charm or key ring  I always have a stock of hearts on hand, to pop into little gauzy bags to take to a tea to give my friends as a keepsake. 
And Mother's Day celebrated in May is just around the corner;  decorate your Mother's Days gift with a beautiful crochet heart. 

I was trying a square in some mercerised cotton and a fine hook some time back, and found it was just right to fancy up the paler heart; I added a chain loop using the cotton together with the lilac yarn.

Couldn't help it! This beautiful bloom with rain drops from this morning's showers was just waiting for me to take a pic!

Hope you enjoy making up my heart pattern - I would love to see your photos on my Sunshine and a Sewing Basket FB page
Thank you for reading
Pat xxxxxxxxx

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Life is what happens ..........

So goes John Lennon's familiar quote,  "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans".  And so I found myself planning many new projects in the last few months, and instead life happened.   An unsettling time, a trip abroad, a wedding, a daughter in law joins the family, a spell of ill health, a heat wave or two, Christmas, a grandson goes off to boarding school, and a daughter returns home and leaves again!

Taking deep breaths right now, wishing for lovely cool rainy days ... it has been soo hot, not crochet or working with yarn ideal at all.

Ok First up .... my son's wedding.  He lives in Guildford, I love it there!

This is their engagement photo .. two beautiful special people. Sam is from Milano, my son is South African, but living in England now.

And after the ceremony ~ Mr and Mrs!

It was a lovely wedding, dancing and delicious food, happy people and warm feelings! I was so fortunate to share this wonderful day with my beloved friend Wendy, we have been friends for 54 years, it was a memorable occasion! I spent a week staying with her and the family, catching up on old times, the best of times!  Then I spent a week with the newlyweds, getting to know my new daughter-in-law Samantha, and sharing a wonderful few days with my son.  We spent a day in Dorset, trawling the many antique shops.  And to my delight I discovered Gilliangladrag Fluffatorium.  Oh my word what a delight that little shop is .. just a riot of colour, and the nicest ladies on hand to help. 

A day in London was fabulous, a walk along the South Bank, all the way to the super Borough Market.  A stop to take a photo of the South African flag fluttering above South Africa house, oh and by the weather was superb for almost the duration of my visit, the sunshine and mostly blue skies almost every day of the seventeen days I was there ...   So lucky was I!!

I was based in the Guildford/Woking area .. I loved how easy it was for me to catch a bus or the train, and how safe I felt.  Remember I live in Johannesburg South Africa, which is my home town and I love where I live .. but it is known to be a dangerous city as well. I loved Guildford's cobbled high street, with little alleys leading off it and super small shops offering everything from smart boutiques to veggies and pies, to M&S and the market which I adored.  Here is my son standing on the cobbled road with the clock in the distance. I also enjoyed the buskers, very good some of them are.  

We all travelled over to this old pub and met up with my husband's beautiful daughter Sarah, and the lunch we had was amazing with the biggest Yorkshire puds I have ever seen, virtually the size of my plate!

All too soon I had to board my flight for home.  A wonderful trip, but a husband and little doggie both of whom I missed so much waiting for me.

Through November and December we had such unbearably hot weather, it made working with yarn well nigh impossible.  And added to that I had a spell of ill health, so not much to report there.  Christmas was quiet spent with family.  I did manage to make a couple of small festive items, gifts for little people!

During the month I was away for the wedding, and through November and December, my daughter, my eldest, was in a relationship that was not good.  Suffice to say we were all worried as to her future, how safe she was, and how it would all pan out.  When your child is in her forties, divorced with two almost grown children, it is not the easiest thing to be supportive, at the same time be fearful, at the same time try to give sound advice, and also to not be seen to be interfering.  Eventually common sense prevailed and we persuaded her to move back home, to our great relief.  It was very difficult for her, she has the biggest heart and saw her role with the gentleman involved, as carer and saviour .. said gentleman has addiction issues ..  
I am happy to say that the relationship ended, did not end well, but she knew it was the best move. And I can also say I do believe in miracles!  She has met, purely in an accidental sort of fashion, a most wonderful man, kind, generous, decent, no issues, who adores her.  She is happier than I have seen her in a year .. and I am over the moon for her.  Here she is looking gorgeous in her best colour!

And within all this turmoil, my youngest grandson, my daughter's youngest son left home for boarding school.  This was a huge move for Riley, and a wrench for his mom and me and the family.  So far all is good, the school is in a beautiful part of the country, with an emphasis on outdoor activities like canoeing, river rafting, hiking, off road biking and the like, as well as the usual sports like rugby and cricket.  Here he is ... Action Man .. Cool!

 I have been making up the most gorgeous Fingerless Mitts .. a paid-for pattern by Elvira Jane Crochet Design. They make up superfast, a lovely textured pattern, I love them! 

And I tried a couple of Katniss Messy Bun Beanies ... also fun to make ... 

And so that sort of covers the months since I last posted .. really hoping for some calm now .. I need it 😂
Till next time, thank you for reading xxxxxxxxx Pat

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Hello again!

So long since I blogged, I really have missed you.   The long and short of it is I have been quite poorly for some weeks, firstly an infection in both eyes ... a real bummer since that meant no crochet work at all for what felt like ages! Then a throat infection set in for which I got an antibiotic .. yay I thought, a few days from now I should be feeling much better .. Ha! not.   I now find I am allergic to sulphur based meds, after all these years of not having a problem!  So I started over again with a penicillin based med, and and I am happy to say that I feel am beating the bug.

Some really exciting news now!  My son living in Guildford UK is getting married and I am flying from OR Tambo Johannesburg South Africa on Friday evening September 30th.  The nuptials take place on October 8th.   So I have been getting a capsule wardrobe together to take with me, and also an outfit for the wedding.  Since I am short and about 5kgs overweight, this has been no easy task.  I trolled Pinterest for hours, Mother of the Bride/Groom sites, the malls in my area, you name it, I trolled it!  During my cyber travelling, I came across some excellent fashion blogs aimed at the over 50's, the ladies all have varying but normal shapes, no stick insect thin bodies  ... here are some of my favourites ....

Fake Fabulous ... Samantha is short so that for me is a bonus.  She has a dash of the slightly quirky and fun!

Not Dressed as Lamb.. Catherine is an award winning fashion blogger and describes herself as 'eclectic, erring on the side of preppy-with-a-twist'!!
Style at a Certain Age ... Beth Djalali .. I love her chic style
Susan After 60 .... Susan Street .. a fabulous blog
50 is not old ... Tania has a great sense of colour and her accessories are OTT and fabulous.

I found these Dont's :  

Don't wear matchy-matchy jewellery .. now I am one to wear my little pearl bracelet with my pearl studs .. I feel that is not overdoing it .. maybe? perhaps?
Stop wearing boxy clothing
No head to toe pastels
No matching sets of anykind

Not sure I totally agree with all of them, but I am excited to know that if I wear my new black shoes and a turquoise clutch to the wedding, the look is OK.  Since exploring these blogs I must admit to looking at my 'too big' denims and thinking 'this is where I am going wrong to start with'.  So I have bought two new pairs, a black and a dark blue, slim leg but nice and stretchy, length to just on my ankles, I am amazed how I look by just changing the style of my denims .. I love them!

During the past weeks I completed an order for a poncho for my one grand-niece Tyla. There are a few similar styled patterns on the net, this is my adaptation, in Elle DK Duck Egg, quite pleased with the finished garment.  A simple concept, but a lot of puzzling out stitch counts and such.  I will be posting a complete pattern after I return from the UK in October.

Other little projects I have enjoyed are some pairs of gorgeous little baby shoes, many thanks to Hopeful Honey and One Dog Woof, and Pinterest for ideas.  These are the first shoes I have made that the soles match left and right .. many a shoe has been abandoned due to one sole bigger than the other, I just couldn't master it, until, with huge determination and concentration, I made these cute pairs.

I have been doing quite a bit of sewing too, and the one item I have been promising myself is a big pincushion that I could not loose, or not find quickly.  So I made up these two, the pink one for me and the bright colour one for my daughter.  Pattern idea comes from this lovely blog, not in English but with good pictures.

I will be away until mid October.  I am staying with very old and dear friends whom I can't wait to see and catch up with, you know the kind of friends I mean where you live far apart and when you get to reconnecting, it's as if you saw them last week, and nothing has changed, you almost pick up the conversation and carry on, those kind of old and dear friends.  We have been friends for going on 53 years!  So that part of my visit is also going to be wonderful, as is the main event. My son is marrying his dear Samantha, whom I have not yet met, and so looking forward to doing so.  She is Italian and beautiful and very kind and generous and good, what more could I want for my eldest!  So an exciting few weeks coming up, getting to know my soon to be new daughter in law, spending time with her and of course reconnecting with my beloved son, who I miss so much.  Also hoping to spend a day in London, and exploring the Surrey countryside as time and the weather allows!
Till mid October, I send much love and hugs and happiness to you all
Pat xxxxx

ps:  I would appreciate any comments and suggestions re crochet hooks in carry-on luggage .. I really do not like wooden or bamboo hooks, and am hoping I can use my KnitPro hook.



Sunday, 29 May 2016

The Juliette Mandala

Hidyhi dear lovely ladies!
I have a new mandala pattern for you ~
Ta-dahh!  presenting the Juliette Mandala!

Pattern terms:  US.  
Here is a little chart to use for conversion if necessary.

Materials:  Stylecraft Special DK and US F .. 4mm hook for the Mandala below and the diameter is 35cm ...  and Raeesah DK 100% Cotton and US G ..  4.5mm hook for the Mandala in yellow and green with a diameter of 40cm. 

Start with either a magic circle or 3ch and slip stitch into first chain.

Row 1:  14 sc into circle, sl st to close (14 sc)

Row 2:  5ch (counts as 1 tr and 1ch), 1 tr into next stitch, 2ch, 1tr into next st, 1 ch, 1 tr into next stitch, 2ch.  Continue all round ending with 2ch and sl st into 4th chain of starting 5 chain.
(14 x trs, 7 x 2ch gaps and 7 x 1ch gaps) 

Row 3:  Join new colour (pink for reference) into any 1ch space.  1sc into same space, 5 dc into 2ch space, sc into 1ch space. Continue all round, finishing with 5dc into last 2ch space and sl st into first sc.
(7 x 5dc groups and 7 x sc)

Row 4:  In same colour, and in same st as sl st,  work 1hdc, 3ch, 1hdc into 3rd dc of 5dc group, 3ch, 1hdc into next sc.  Continue all round,  ending with 3ch and sl st into first hdc.
(14 x 3ch and 14 x hdc) 

Row 5:  Join in new colour (lilac) into any 3ch space.  3ch (counts as first dc) and a further 3dc into space (4dc group).  Continue working 4 dc into each 3ch space. Sl st into 3rd chain of starting 3ch. (14 x 4 dc groups)

Row 6:  Join new colour (blue).  We will work the next three rows in the same colour. Join yarn into first dc in any 4dc group.  2sc into same stitch, 1sc into next 3 sts, 2sc into next st, 1sc into next 3 sts.  Continue to end, finishing with sl st into 1st of 2sc at start.

Row 7:  5ch (counts as first dc + 2ch), miss 1 sc, 1 dc into next st. 2ch, miss 1st, 1dc into next st, 2ch, miss 1st, 1dc into next st, 2ch.  Continue to end, as per photo, and after last 2ch, sl st into 3rd of 5ch at beginning. (35 spaces and 35 x dc 'legs')

Row 8:  Sl st into first 2ch space. 2sc, 1ch, 2sc into next 2ch space, 1ch.  Continue all round, finishing with 1ch and sl st into first sc. 

Row 6

Row 7

Row 8
Row 9:  Join new colour into any 1ch space (red).  4 ch (counts for 1dc + 1ch).  1dc into same st. Miss 2 sts.  Work 1dc-1ch-1dc (forming a V) into next 1ch space.  Miss 2 sts and work a V into next 1ch space.  Continue all round with the row of V's.  End with sl st into 3rd ch of 4ch at start of work. (35 x V's)

Row 10:  Join new colour (lilac) into top of any V .. see photo.  3ch and 2dc (counts as 3dc group) into space.  Continue all round finishing with sl st into top of 3ch at start of work. The picture also shows where to start the surface chain if you should wish to add it now. A short description for this is at the end of the pattern.

Rows 6, 7, 8 in blue; row 9 in red; row 10 in lilac

Row 11:  Join new colour (purple) to any space between 3dc groups.  1sc into same space. 2ch, 1sc into next space between groups, 2ch.  Continue to end, finishing with 2ch and sl st into starting sc.

Row 11
Row 12:  Join new colour (blue) to any 2ch space.  3ch (counts for 1dc), 3dc into same space (4dc group).  Continue working a 4dc group into each 2ch space, finishing with sl st into top of starting 3ch.

Row 12

Rows 13, 14 and 15
Rows 13, 14, and 15 work in the same colour(purple).

Row 13:  Join new colour to any st.  1sc in same st, 1sc into each st all round, sl st to first sc to close round.

Row 14:  Repeat Row 7.

Row 15:  Repeat Row 8.

Row 16:  Join new colour (pink) into any 1ch space and repeat Row 9,  the V's row.

Row 17:  Join new colour (lilac) to any 1ch space (in the centre of V).  3ch, 1dc into same space (2dc group), 3dc into next 1ch space (3dc group), 2dc into next 1ch space. Continue working one 2dc group alternating with one 3dc group into each 1ch space to end, finishing with sl st into top of starting 3ch.

Row 17

Row: 18: Join new colour (blue) to any stitch.  1sc into same st, 1sc into next 3 sts. Now we will work a picot as follows:

1 ~ 1sc into next st, 1ch
2 ~ Sl st into loop behind sc, as I have pointed to with my needle
3 ~ yarn over hook and pull loop through 
4 ~ sl st through 1ch

Then sc into same st.  And so there is the little picot finished.

Surface chain pattern:
Here is a group of photos showing how to do the simple surface chain pattern.  You can see where I have positioned the chains.

I have crocheted a surface chain between rows 9 and 10, and again between rows 16 and 17. Your loops must be loose as you pull the yarn through from the back to the front of the mandala, so as not to pucker up your work. Once you have completed the surface chain row and sewn the yarn to the back of your work (photo 8) securely stitch the ends in neatly.

Love the colours of the yellow and green Juliette mandala too.

Hope you enjoy making the Juliette mandala .. 
this being my first pattern in simply ages. I had forgotten how much time (and pleasure!) go into the creative process .. I really enjoyed challenging the brain cells again!

  Please feel free to post your beautiful creations, and I think no mandala can possible not be beautiful .. to my Facebook page!

With much love to all
Pat xxxx