Sunday, 22 October 2017

Of this and that!

Good morning!
I am so glad to be with you today;  it's a most glorious morning here in sunny Randburg.  We had wonderful storms and heavy rain during the night, and our gardens are smiling.

I have been busy with a few  projects in the last few months. I have discovered the wondrous world of sock knitting!  I enjoy sitting down with a pair (or four) of needles now and again.  There's an easy rhythm to rows plain and purl, while sitting in the evening watching telly. Just by the way, isn't Line of Duty such a very good series? And Shetland, and of course Victoria. 

And in no particular or order, as they say, here are a few pics of the projects I have been busying myself with recently.

My sweet little owl, my contribution to Yarndale's Creative Hearts
 this year.
I used this pattern for the heart, 
and the owl was my own creation.  I could have sat and made
many more, such fun!

And I was so very relieved to see my little heart
amongst some other really cute hearts in 
a picture on Lucy's Attic 24 blog.  The postage is dodgy from 
South Africa, and I sent my parcel off with a prayer for it's
safe delivery! 

A very warm and cosy Magic Blanket
Pattern on Zooty Owl's amazing blog

I can see you!!!

A pretty Mandala, pattern by John Kelly and available, 
on Dedri's blog Look What I Made

My very first pair of knitted socks!
Pattern from the wonderful blog
and bible of sock making
This is her basic sock pattern

And my newest yarn, lovely hand dyed 
sock yarn, reminds me of whipped strawberries!
Can't wait to make a second pair.

 My biggest challenge to date,
the Ross Paldark blanket!  I have learnt so much
working with this pattern, new stitches and ways with colour.
Nearly completed, it is an order for a dear friend's hubby.
A blog post on this blanket when done and delivered.

I wish you all a wonderful Sunday, and week ahead.
Love Pat xxxxxxxxx

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 đŸ˜‚
Till next time, thank you for reading xxxxxxxxx Pat