Closed Granny Square Crofter Blanket Part 2 June – December 2013

All ends sewn in and the first ten squares edged with only a few minor issues! The first was a counting error, after doing a side of trebles and counting and checking and rechecking and rechecking again, I finally discovered that I’d missed a treble in the second round so every round since then was short. I unpicked and reworked the square only to find I was five trebles of yarn short at the end – the difference between newbie nervous tension and nearing the end / not another bloody square tension. Since there was no more of the yarn in question, a quick patch with a grey and white marl from the end of another ball achieved an almost seamless fix – thank you variegated yarn! The second is the edging yarn itself. I don’t know why I always start knitting from the centre of the ball. My Mum must’ve told me to do it when I first learnt to knit but for some reason with this ball (a big 100g acrylic number) the ends are completely intertwined to the point where I’ve been unravelling and untangling just enough yarn at a time to complete each square. I think I’ve finally sorted it though, mainly by stuffing the worst of the bird nest tangle back into the centre of the ball and working with the outside end instead. I’ve even had to take off the ball band! Again a strange foible in that I usually don’t remove it until the ball gets too small to hold it in place and it just falls off. I was crafting with a friend recently and I lent her a ball of yarn and the first thing she did was rip the band off – I actually had to conceal my shock and bite my tongue! Will have to ask my Mum for the reasons behind my yarn etiquette quirks!

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It seems that the sums may be neverending on this project! My finished squares are 10cm squared while the pattern asks for 14cm squared so I’m thinking of doing a 9 square by 12 square blanket. I actually can’t crochet any looser – I may have to look at joining with trebles rather than doubles to perhaps increase the spcae between each square. Meanwhile – 30 squares edged – 10 of these are completely ends-sewn-in finished and my task for craft club is to catch up. Oh and I ended up unravelling the whole ball of yarn into what can only be the stuff of cat dreams – an almost perfectly shaped ball, prone to jump of my knee and roll provocatively across the floor at the drop of a hat (or should that be stitch – arf arf!)
DSC_0871After some careful consideration I’ve realised that my tension isn’t the cause of the size issue, it’s all down to the fact that I didn’t really know what I was doing in the first place with regards to the technique required and consequently did every square wrong. I’m pretty sure the slight difference between starting a treble from the gap below or from the top of the stitch below probably accounts for the size difference which no amount of stretching and blocking can fix.
I’m really beginning to feel that I can see the end. So far I’ve edged and sewn in 70 DSC_0872squares. I’ve been very disciplined this time and done my sewing in every 10 squares – usually on my lunchbreak at work. I’ve edged 6 more this evening catching up on trash telly in between playing with a manic cat.
I posted a few of my most recent pictures on Facebook this evening and have had an unexpected but positive and craft affirming response which has made me feel really good about the whole thing. I’ve got 20 ends to sew in, then I’m on to the edging of the final 18 squares – I’m almost feeling like how the hell did that happen.

All squares completed! The last three have been particularly painful since I’ve had to pick them back to correct earlier mistakes but they’re all done. 18 ends to sew in then on to the joining – eek!

Slow progress but progress none the less. All squares joined one way (using a treble join) and 2 joins out of 8 joined the other way.

So, final join begun. I have to then sew in all the ends and then it’s just edging to go. I have one ball left of the edging yarn left plus a few ends so I’m hoping to be able to get round twice and then do a final shell edge to finish the whole thing.

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The blanket is finally finished! I abandoned plans for the shell edge as I couldn’t face it! I finished it not long after Christmas but since it has been such an all-consuming project, I had a little break from crafts for a while.

Pattern: Mollie Makes Issue 24

Yarn: Sirdar Crofter DK in shades Skye (047), Bracken (050), Shetland (051),  Hound Dog (053), Fairisle (054), Plaid (055), Wild Thyme (064) and Hayfield Bonus DK shade Alpine (842)

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Closed Granny Square Crofter Blanket Part 1 June – December 2013

As soon as I saw this blanket in Mollie Makes Issue 24 I wanted to make it! I’d never attempted crochet before hence the practise blanket – it took such a long time to make but I think it’s one of my greatest crafting achievements!
3 squares down, 77 to go! I think I like Crofter yarn even more than the baby version. currently using Bracken, all heathery purples and sage green, very pretty.DSC_0581

Now on to Fairisle which is the colour of the sea and sky from the Californian coustline along the Big Sur. 15 squares done now. Once I get back to the UK I must start sewing in the ends. I think I’ll have to aim to tidy up after every ball so it won’t be such a monumentally tedious job at the end!

I did sew in the ends of the first two balls as I’d promised myself so I was feeling pretty virtuous until I found an informative, clearly illustrated, well thought out How to Crochet book filled with tempting patterns and projects that was very cheap and took only a minimal amount of convincing to buy it despite making a promise to myself not to spend money on frivolous or DSC_0870Cnon-essential items to get my finances back on track after the holiday. So I’m feeling a but guilty. Project wise I’m almost through the third ball (Skye) which was a short one since I’d already used it to make a mouse. I think I’ll be two squares short so will have to do 14 in the next four yarns. Oh and my interpretation of how to do the closed granny square hasn’t been quite right so I’ll continue the blanket using my version and will have to learn to correct way once I’m done.

Finished the Skye yarn and am now 12 squares into the Hound Dog yarn. Not so keen on the colours of this one but I think it will tie everything together. The pink is pretty but the sludgy green less so and there are large sections of white and grey marl-y bits. Nearly there though! I think I’m kidding myself that the hard work ends when the squares are done though – edging and blocking seem like such a chore but since I’ve essentially done every square a little bit wrong, I feel that I should keep the finishing by the book if nothing else!

Just had the second of two lovely craft evenings with my two closest friends. So far I’ve taught one to crochet basic cluster granny squares and this evening we muddled through intarsia. My (penance) task for this evening was sewing in ends and in between tutoring, decifering patterns, ice-cream eating and chatting, I mDSC_0868Banaged about 14 squares! After laying everything out I reckon it would be better to do a 10 by 10 square rather than 8 x 10 so I need a few extra squares.

The end is slowly starting to creep into the outer fringes of periferal vision! Just completed the 93rd square – 7 left to go. I have quite a lot of sewing in ends to do, this will be my Sunday afternoon task. And then the edges and the final sewing up… Sounds like such a small task! My head is buzzing with so many other crochet projects that I want to try. I’m very intrigued about the plarn thing although will have to improve on my flat crochet plus there’s the slippers and a really pretty Christmas garland that I think would work well for Christmas…

January Cliff 2016 – From start to finish

So the plan for the January Cliff was a pen pot. The idea was to cut out parts of the calendar, laminate them and then use them as the structural supports for a crocheted cylinder. I cutDSC_0249 out a circular base (containing Cliff’s belt buckle), pierced holes and then did a chain stitch all the way round which essentially formed the foundation chain for the first crochet section. I did two double crochets into each chain stitch then did 4 rows of double crochet before adding the first calendar strip. I sewed the base of each calendar strip into place and used a blanket stitch at the top to form the next foundation chain that I needed. Three blocks of crochet and two pieces of calendar later, I had my basic pot.

Onto the decoration – since I want all of myDSC_0254 Cliff based projects to be useful and beautiful! Using another laminated circle (this time containing Cliff’s beaming face) as the starting point I created a large flower – blanket stitch all round for the foundation, double crochet for the next round and then loops for the petals. Two smaller flowers complete the look. The plan for February Cliff is decoupage – keep checking back for updates!

Yarn: King Cole Bamboo Cotton DK in Shades 525 Cobalt, 518 Ice Blue and 609 Glacier and DMC Natura Just Cotton in Shade 31 Malva

The Cliff Richard 2016 Craft Challenge

A few years ago my brother in law thought it would be funny to buy me a Cliff Richard calendar for Christmas. Although some people may desire to see a man in his 70s prancing around in ludicrous poses and questionable outfits, it’s not really my cup of tea but we put up with it for a year, laughing off the odd looks from visitors. The next Christmas came around, another Cliff calendar. In 2013 there were rumours that Cliff would only be producing one more calendar so my mother in law got in on the act and bought me the 2014 one thinking it would be the last. 2015 was blissfully Cliff-free until Boxing Day rolls round and who would’ve thought it, a late Christmas present from my brother in law – Cliff’s decided to release another calendar for his 75th year.

I’ve decided to put the 2016 calendar to an alternative use and use a different craft technique to transform each month’s image into something useful or beautiful. January’s project is a crochet pen pot. I’m planning on laminating the calendar pieces and incorporating them with yarn and hopefully fashioning some sort of floral decoration with Cliff’s beaming face at the centre. Photos and progress reports to follow.

Crochet Granny Squares – May-June 2013

Thanks to an incredibly helpful series of Youtube videos, I’ve managed to achieve a basic cluster granny square. They are, as promised, very simple and very quick to make so I’m currently making a dolly’s blanket as practice before attempting the reaDSC_0020l thing (Mollie Makes Crofter blanket – more details to come). I’ve done four squares so far, just doing 3 rounds in each one and aim to do 8 more for a 3 x 4 blanket. The actual blanket pattern is slightly different (closed granny squares) to what I’ve learned so a little more experimentation is needed to get it right. Maybe I’ll do an additional round around what I’ve already done in a plain colour. I dont quite get the pattern – it seems like you do an uneven number in each corner which seems odd but I’ll have a go. You also seem to go into the spaces between all the treble crochets as well as the big holes – at least I think I know what I mean!

DSC_0023First test closed granny square completed. I’ve done each treble into the space below the stitch as it’s the only way I can see to make them the same size as the cluster squares. Don’t know why I was so worried about crochet (ha ha – since I still can’t equate what I’ve done to what’s written in the pattern!)

I have such symmetry issues that I have to make an alternate blanket pattern with 6 squares of each pattern despite the fact that it’s only a test and is only for a dolly! At least it’s a sunny day for crochet in the garden…

I feel that I should take a moment to comment on the yarns used in this project. So, I started off using the leftover yarn from the ballerina cardi. From it I made 6 cluster squares. Not wanting to spend much money (and forgetting all about the massive ball of flecked green yarn in my craft dresser) I decided to go on a charity shop trawl for supplies. The first shop was unsuccessful, some very pretty 4ply and some interesting bobbly stuff but I just need a small ball of DK. Onwards to the next shop where there was a big mixed bag of maybe 12 or 15 balls for £3.50. Through a double layer of polythene I spy two small balls of pink yarn that may fit the bill. The lady kindly agrees to split the bag and I pay 50p for my chosen yarn – “Looks like cotton” the lady remarks as she takes my money. Cotton? Cotton?! It is actually the most hideously synthetic yarn I’ve ever seen or felt/ Half way between string and garden twine – so much so that I’ve used it to tie together a cane wigwam for the sweet peas in my garden! So that’s the pink stuff used for the 6 closed granny squares. The plan had been to edge all the squares in pink but thankfully I found the big green ball (purchased a few years ago to knit some bootees for a friend’s baby) and the squares shown took shape. All the ends have been tidied away so I need to watch my final tutorial on joining squares together.
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Once again crafting down to the wire, I finished the little test blanket (for Cat Cat) the night before the Californian adventure ready to be packed into my daughter’s hand luggage as part of an array of toys and surprises designed to keep her entertained on the transatlantic flight. It did its job and Cat Cat had a very comfortable journey!

Youtube Videos – Bethintx1 – How to Crochet series

Yarn Used – Sirdar Snuggly Baby Crofter in Florrie (shade 158)

King Cole Big Value DK in Shade 191