Sunday, 28 March 2010

Bruges Easter

Doing final packing now for an Easter trip to Bruges. Will be back in a couple of weeks, hopefully with some nice pictures.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Wool Tightly Wound into Little Balls

When I'm going on holiday I worry about the wierdest things. Not "Will the hotel be ok", nor "Have the children packed enough warm clothes". I worry about whether I will have enough wool with me. Yes, holidays have seen me frantically roaming a number of European cities now, searching for a wool shop. "STOP! A WOOLSHOP!" I shriek, while the family cower in the back of the car. Getting out of the car in 90 degree heat to go running into a wool shop. Even if you haven't been there, I am sure you are with me in sentiment.

With this in mind, I've wound my granny blanket wool into little balls. It is amazing how small a 50g ball of wool becomes when wound up like this. Ready to fit into a little corner of my suitcase.

Preview of New Blanket in Progress

I love the look of granny square blankets, but have (almost) no patience for the sewing in of the thread ends. I am forcing myself to sew in the ends before I sew each block on to its neighbour. Total progress so far - about 30 blocks made, and only 6 sewn together. Shall I sew in a few ends? I ask myself, or shall I crochet another block. "Crochet another block" wins most of the time. Here are the six sewn together sofar.

And, here are some of the blocks waiting patiently in the queue to be sewn up. Here, let me present to you "ThePurples".

and their cousins "The Greens":

Sunday, 21 March 2010

More Spring Inspiration

Spikes of Monkey Puzzle tree beginning to cheer up again after being shrouded in snow.

A re-found object - shells and stones on a string, next to the monkey puzzle. No real purpose other than to look pretty and remind us of the beach.

And finally: beautifully white snowdrops.

A Little Bit of Sunshine

At last, a little bit of sunshine. We went up to Perthshire today, 70 or so miles north of our home in Edinburgh. In my parents' garden, a few spring flowers are starting to bloom and a little bit of green pokes up here and there.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

WIP Big Squares

Just need to sew more ends in on this single bed size.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Pink Grannie Vintage Stripe

Pink because of the predominance of pink. Grannie because that is who it is for, rather than it being a Granny. Vintage Stripe because that is the pattern. This is a MAMMOTH blanket - about 7 feet across, designed to fit a big double with lots of overhang. It is a pet hate of mine about blankets, that they are not wide enough for the bed and they leave you cold at the edges.

This is made in a similar wool to the Teenage Vintage Stripe and the Teenage Ripple, but it is from a different manufacturer. It is mostly pinks, lilacs, purples, blues, with a little bit of green, and a lot of white. I find that the key to most crochet blankets is to add a lot of white, since it highlights all of the colour nicely.

Not so Vintage Vintage Stripe

This is the first copy of the vintage blanket I have. It is done in a mixture of wool, cotton, wool/nylon, which you're not supposed to do, but if seems to wash ok.

In many ways this is my favourite blanket, except for it being small. I guess it is a lapghan, which always makes me think "What kind of a dog is that?". It is about 3 feet square.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Vintage Vintage Stripe

This is the original Vintage Stripe, which I have duplicated. It belonged to my grandmother and was made for her, about 20 or 30 years ago, my mum thinks, by someone unknown, maybe her home help. It was at my mum's house under a cat, but I rescued it, and as possession is 9/10ths of the law, it is mine now, (at least for a while).

It is made in what appears to be 3 ply wool in a nylon/acrylic. Most of the wool is self-coloured but some is variagated.

The pattern is easy. It is basically treble/treble into the spaces of the row before, with a scallop trim border around the finished blanket. The tricky part was the right number of trebles at either end of a row to get exactly the same number as the row before. There were a few pyramid shapes before I mastered it.

Teenage Vintage Stripe

This is a single bed size companion to the Teenage Ripple. It is not perhaps captured here, but it is shockingly bright, especially when twinned with the ripple. Made in the same wool, but slightly different colour scheme. It took about 2000g of wool to make this, and a lot of time. I don't mind too much the zipping back and forth, but absolutely hate the sewing in of ends.

Teenage Ripple

Daughter number one, the teenager, has 2 large single bed size blankets. This one, a ripple, in 100% acrylic was not made by me, but by my mum. It resides in the teenager's room where at least one cat can be found magnetised on to it at all times. Despite this, and a year of use, it washes and tumble dries up nicely. It matches well with the black and red colour scheme of the teenage room.

Little Baby Ripple

This was the first blanket I made: a pram size ripple blanket. It is made in superwash 100% wool, the same as the wool for the Big Granny. It does indeed wash superbly - this little blanket has easily been washed, and tumble dried 10 times in the last 2 years, yet it still retains its lovely bright colours.

Big Granny Crochet Blanket

I've been waiting for a bit of sunshine to take pictures of my blankets. My house is very dark - it would really benefit from a lot of white paint, but unfortunately it is a rental so I'm not allowed to paint. It makes taking photographs indoors very challenging in the winter especially. So, this Saturday, with the appearance of a bit of blue sky, I dragged my blankets out into the garden to photograph them. I started out with a white sheet on the ground which you can see though some of the photos, but it proved too small for many of the blankets.

Here is the first one, the Big Granny I made last summer. It is an extremely easy crochet pattern. All you need to know how to do is to chain, and treble crochet. You make a little granny and keep going, until she is the size you want. This is a great blanket for a beginner. Some people change colour mid-round if they run out, but I'm strict about going all the way round in one colour. The last round took about 75g of wool and I reckon that this large 6' across version took about 40 balls of 50g superwash 100% wool at around £3.50 each. That's a lot of money for me, and I wouldn't have bought it all at once, but buying a couple of balls here and there doesn't seem as expensive.

I see this pattern in a lot of vintage blankets, so it must have been pretty popular in the 70s.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Curtains for a Zebra Lover

Daughter number one, the teenager, hates flowery, vintage "old stuff" with a passion. Visits to my favourite junk shops, result in the normally good natured teenager turning into an arms-folded, eyes rolling, "how long are you going to be" person. Not for her a lovely Cath Kidston duvet, and painted vintage furniture. Black - Red - IKEA just about sums it up. That's ok. That's her style and I have to admit it looks rather good, but just not my style. So after she swapped bedrooms so that daughter number two, the toddler, could have her old room, she was left with my lovely green toile curtains. When can I get rid of those green things - she shouted, pointing a finger at them. What colour would you like my darling - I said - or something like that. BLACK! Here's the compromise: zebra print. And best of all they cost only the price of a few sewing supplies. I made them from a king sized duvet cut in half, and attached on to the existing curtain linings. And I think, that for black, they look rather nice. Only problem is that as you can see from the edge, my sewing machine has gone a bit wonky - something to do with the stitch tension. I will have to study the manual and see what I can find out.

New Flower Blanket

This blanket is everywhere. I first saw it in one of my housey books - Bazaar Style - or something like it. Easy, I thought. I can easily make that. Not so fast! Much pulling out of hair later. I tried out the pattern at Yvestown. Nice try but it didn't work - fitting the circular flower shape into the square - the pattern was not quite right. I see a lot made like this though, and the edges are slightly rounded, but like Jane at Posy, it just did not quite look right. It was a bit bunched up. Eventually, after much searching, I found the perfect pattern at The key to it is to hdc, dc, triple crochet from the centre to edge of the round after the flower. This makes the square quite square, and not at all out of shape, like the tr, tr, tr pattern I see elsewhere.

I experimented with a puff stitch centre, then with a normal treble cluster (that is what is in the picture above ), and then I tried various sizes of hook. I started to make it up, in a 100% acrylic wool - very nice colours, but somehow, it didn't look right. It was a bit too shiny.

So after much bleating on my part, daughter number one and her dad go out to John Lewis and get me a present - some wool: 100% wool. Ah bliss. I'm so easily pleased. No designer clothes for me. No expensive perfume. Just a few balls of wool, and I'm happy, oh, all week. Here are the first few squares:

I'm going on holiday in a couple of weeks and know from experience that I will squish too few clothes into a tiny bag, so that I have space in my case for 20 balls of wool. I know that I am a lost cause.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Is it Spring Yet?

I normally find January and February to be boring months. Not this year. Nothing boring about the entire family having two stomach bugs, and then two colds. Throw in a toddler starting nursery, a teenager choosing their exam subjects, a husband working away from home, and a full-time job. Not a chance I could have been bored this year. Far too busy. I knew it was a bit too much to try to blog every day as well!

Our house is very dark even in the summer. It's not a "light and bright" house. It is surrounded by big walls and trees, and the windows are small. The hall carpets are dark red and the walls are in need of some paint. There's not much we can do about it because it is not our house and we are not allowed to decorate.

But I'm now on a mission, to try to lighten it up. I've taken down the heavy curtains to let what light there is in. This weekend I washed down all the walls in the hall, with carpet shampoo. "With carpet shampoo?" I hear myself ask. It was all I had in the way of detergent and it was surprisingly effective at brightening up the walls.

I've also got quite a lot of painted furniture, that I've painted various colours: lime green, turquoise, Cath Kidston red, cream. It looked good at the time, but now it's just a mish-mash, so I'm on a mission to paint it all in a lovely vintage white/cream. Started with a mirror frame at the weekend, and it is looking pretty nice. More next weekend since I have to wait until my husband comes back. It is practically impossible to paint with a little toddler around, who likes to test if the paint is dry.