Monday, August 19, 2013

Christmas Bell Pattern

It's here! These festive bells work up quickly, so making a set is a breeze. You can hang them from your Christmas tree. You can string them up and display them between bookshelves or in front of a window. They'd look adorable on a wreath or as an 'extra' on a gift. The possibilities are endless!

You can easily change the colour to fit your décor or a non-Christmas theme.

The finished bell, crocheted according to the pattern, is approximately 2½” (6.35cm) tall and 2” (5cm) wide.

The pattern includes detailed instructions for the basic pattern plus 5 variations, as well as over 70 step-by-step photos.

$2.00 CAD gets you the full pattern in a PDF file, including the following:
  • full pattern for 'Christmas Bell', including 5 variations
  • complete supply list
  • British and North American terms chart (pattern is written in North American terms)
  • instructional photos
  • my email address (in case you have any comments or questions)

To purchase, head on over to my Etsy shop.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Toadstool Amigurumi Pattern

I'm a fan of toadstools and hedgehogs, so I wanted to create my own amigurumi patterns for them. The hedgehog's still a twinkle in my eye, but here is the completed toadstool pattern! It makes a sweet toy (for children who have moved beyond eating everything inedible in sight), a Christmas tree decoration, or a décor item.

Although the photos are (I think) helpful, I do have to apologize for the poor quality. They were all taken with my phone, which was handier than hauling out the camera. Hopefully they're clear enough to make some of the instructions more clear.

Please leave me a message if you find any errors or have any questions. I'd love your feedback!

Without further ado, here it is:

Approx. 4” high and 3.5” wide.
I used a 3.5mm hook and a worsted-weight cotton. Use whatever hook and yarn you want, as long as the combination produces a single crochet stitch that is tight.
This project is crocheted in the round. You might want to use a stitch marker to remind you where each round begins.
The numbers in brackets indicate the total number of stitches in that round.
·         Worsted weight yarn in red, off-white, and white
·         3.5mm hook
·         Fiberfill
BLO = back loop only
dec = decrease single crochet (hook through stitch, pull through yarn, hook through next stitch, pull through yarn, yarn over, pull yarn through all three loops)
FLO = front loop only
FO = finish off
inc = increase single crochet (stitch 2 single crochet in 1 single crochet)
sc = single crochet
sl = slip stitch

Toadstool Cap
With red yarn, form a magic ring. 6sc in ring, and pull to tighten. OR ch2, and 6sc in 2nd chain from hook.
Round 1: inc in each sc around (12)
Round 2: (inc, 1sc) around (18)
Round 3: (inc, 2sc) around (24)
Round 4: (inc, 3sc) around (30)
Round 5: (inc, 4sc) around (36)
Round 6: sc in each sc around (36)
Round 7: (inc, 5sc) around (42)
Round 8: sc in each sc around (42)
Round 9: (inc, 6sc) around (48)
Round 10: sc in each sc around (48)
Round 11: FLO sc in each sc around (48) FO
Attach off-white yarn.
Round 12: in BLO (left over from round 11) (dec, 6sc) around (42)

Round 13: (dec, 5sc) around (36) 
White Spots

Place a stitch marker to keep the off-white yarn from unraveling. Using white yarn, make the white spots for the red cap of the toadstool.
For smaller spots: form a magic ring and crochet 6sc in ring. Pull string to close loop. FO
For larger spots: form a magic ring and crochet 6sc in ring. Pull string to close loop. Inc in each sc around (12). FO
Make sure you leave long tails for attaching!
I made 3 of each size. If you like more or less, go for it. You could make larger spots by adding a round (inc, 1sc around). Smaller spots could be made using French knots.
To attach, choose placement. Thread the yarn tail coming from the back centre of the spot onto a tapestry needle. Poke through the red cap and unthread needle. Thread the other yarn tail onto the needle. Sew the spot to the toadstool cap. When you’re done, poke the needle through to the back. Using both tails, tie 3-4 knots to secure.

Back to Toadstool Cap
Round 14: (dec, 4sc) around (30)
Round 15: (dec, 3sc) around (24)
Round 16: (dec, 2sc) around (18)
Round 17: (dec, 1sc) around (12)
Round 18: dec around (6)
Don’t fasten off.

Sl out 3 rows, then sl 22 stitches in a circle. (If it’s a few more or less, adjust with inc or dec in the first row.) When you’re done slip stitching, turn your work so that the right side of the sc will show on the outside of the trunk.

Round 1: ch 1. sc in each slip stitch around (22)
Round 2: sc in each sc around (22)
Round 3: (inc, 10sc) around (24)
Round 4: (inc, 3sc) around (30)
Round 5: (inc, 4sc) around (36)
Round 6-9: sc in each sc around (36)
Round 10: (dec, 4sc) around (30)\
Round 11: (dec, 3sc) around (24)
Round 12: BLO (dec, 2sc) around (18)
Round 13: (dec, 1sc) around (12)
Round 14: dec around (6) FO
And you're done!


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cosy Scarf

It's done! It took a few days, but the pattern is absolutely straightforward (more of a repeated stitch than a pattern), so it whipped up in no time at all.

What I love about it is the yarn. It's Rowan's Kidsilk Haze Stripe, a 70/30 mix of mohair and silk. Looks like it would be itchy, but it's actually wonderfully soft. And even though it's light and not bulky at all, it's quite warm.

I had to google how long a scarf should be, and came up with 5 feet, so that's how long it is. The colour variation, in beautiful blue/violet tones and some warm greys as well, is stunning. It is a bit wide for a scarf, but because of the yarn, it doesn't feel bulky at all. It took about 1-1/2 balls of yarn, using a 4.5mm hook.
I have to say, it feels wonderful to finish a project!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Potholders, Cross-stitch, and a Piano Bench Pillow

There've been plenty of things going on, but not a lot of photo-taking or blog-writing. What follows is a partial remedy.

The potholders were an attempt to use up some fabric that was quilted to make a tea cozy. It made a wonderful practice-free-handing project.

This cross-stitch will be a birth-announcement for a boy (my nephew) who is heading into Grade One. Somewhat late, I confess, but it's really for his parents, so he won't mind. It's a perfect break from more complex designs, since there are a lot of large, solidly-coloured areas.

And finally, this piano bench pillow. I've never sewn anything with piping before (this is hand-made piping, by the way), or anything that had to fit so precisely. It also has a zipper so that it can be washed. I wouldn't claim it's perfect, but I love the fabric, the pillow turned out well enough to be of use (did you know that foam is frightfully expensive?), and despite the lack of straps, it doesn't move around too much when you're sitting on it.

No pictures yet, but I've got a hexie wall-hanging from the May/June 2013 issue of Quiltmaker in the works!

And there you have it: a sampling of recent projects. There are a lot of imperfections, mistakes even, but even though pictures of perfectly executed projects are a beautiful thing, this is also a record for my own sake. Some quick notes for my future reference:
  • if you think you're sewing close enough to the cord when making piping, think again. Get closer!
  • wrestling with foam inserts is a work-out in and of itself.
  • tracing a design on fabric with a water-soluble marker makes 'free-hand quilting' so much easier!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Everywhere Blue!

This poor cake. It went from being a two-tier cake with an adorable family of owls to this:

I kept the outside purple so that the reveal would be a surprise. And I really want to take a course to learn how to cover cakes neatly! But in the end, this humble cake served its purpose:

A cuter couple you never did see. He was beaming from ear to ear, and she was hopping up and down with excitement. The really adorable thing was, they both knew already, but their families did not. He chopped into the cake, cameras flashed, silly string's a boy!

A few quick notes:
I used this cake recipe from Sweetapolita. Instead of dividing the cake into 6 pans, I coloured all of the batter light blue, scooped out a third of it into a 9" pan, coloured the rest a bit darker, filled another pan with half of what was left, and then tinted the rest even darker for the last layer. Americolor Gel food coloring in Royal Blue gave me a good blue colour that wasn't too light or too dark.
The Swiss Meringue recipe that accompanies Sweetapolita's cake recipe uses a crazy amount of egg white (I'll buy pasturized egg whites next time), but the mellow flavour and ultra-smooth texture are worth it! I made the recipe twice but didn't use all of the second batch. The first batch was enough to fill and crumb coat it all perfectly.
I used this fondant recipe from Bake at 350. It's quick and long as you don't forget the 3 tbsp of water. Oops. I wrestled with that lump of goo for far too long before realizing what the problem was. Luckily, adding the water after the fact works. It's just a lot more work.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Wise Little Owl

I get to make a gender reveal cake for a colleague, and I'm pretty sure the only people who are more excited than I am are the parents! So I broke out the gum paste and gave modelling a try today.

(I used the whisk's handle as a rolling pin. Time to buy a wee fondant/gum paste rolling pin.)
So after a bit of colouring and re-colouring, shaping and re-shaping (what's the secret to rolling spheres that don't crack?), I came up with this wee one:

I'm having to be very very careful about my pronouns here. This little owl's wings are purple, so as not to give anything away. It's just a prototype (I'm still toying with the idea of making the baby and the parents flat, like cookies) but it wasn't awful for a first try. It's a good thing the local Wallymart carries Wilton supplies, because I have a feeling there will be a few more prototypes before I'm happy enough with the result to use it on a cake.
Get ready to say hello to Baby Falk!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Wee Catch-All

I'm starting to run out of my Rowan yarns and the next yarn run isn't on the schedule for another week or two. So I grabbed some old dark red yarn, found a straight-forward crochet basket pattern on Ravelry, and started hooking.

I got to the top and decided to try a fun border. The following is a brief tutorial. You'll need some basic familiarity with crochet terms. If you know what sc, dc, and front loops and back loops are, you'll be good.

First, crochet the basket according to the original tutorial from Barb's Patterns but do not complete the last round with the slip stitches. Instead...

  • Add 2 or 3 extra rows of sc. If you'd like a taller vessel, add even more rows.
  • Ch 1. Up to now you've been crocheting in the round. Now turn your work and sc all the way around, in the back loops. (Each round of sc's will be 48 stitches long.) ((You will not need to turn your work again.))
  • Continue once more around, keeping your sc stitches in the back loops. Finish by slip stitching into the first sc of the round.
  • Now it's time to scallop. Dc into the 2nd sc (no more back loops. Now your crocheting the regular way.) Dc 4 more times into the same hole. Skip 1 sc, slip stitch into the next. *Skip 1 sc, 5 dc, skip 1 sc, slip stitch.* Repeat the stuff between the *s until there's no more room to continue.
  • Ok, if you're a perfectionist, this will bother you. There will be a bit of space between your first and last scallops. This doesn't bother me, so I finished off the yarn, sewed in the ends, and lived happily ever after.
  • If you must even things out or be forever traumatized, you have a couple of options:
    • Chain a bit of a string and form it into a hanging loop. This basket is the perfect size for a thread catcher.
    • Crochet a flower or other small embellishment and hide the gap. 
    • Turn the gap towards the wall. (Ok, that one's not so brilliant.)
    • Do the math and figure out how to crochet the scallops evenly. Math is not my forte, which is why I didn't go this route.
Kinda cute, eh?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

WIP: Purple Ripples

I have a finished blanket to show you once I've hidden the ends. For now,  here's some purply ripply goodness for you.

I'm using Attic 24's ripple tutorial (you can find it on Ravelry). It's a treat, and this isn't the first - or the last - time I've used it.
Naturally, the yarn is a Rowan Pure Wool DK. What else? On a 4mm hook.

It's heading towards becoming a rather large baby blanket. I'll probably finish it next month once I've bought more of the light purple yarn. (I bought 4 at the end of January. No more till next payday!) The debate raging in my head: what kind of border?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

WIP: Baby Blanket

It's always a tricky thing, choosing colours when you don't know if the wee one's a boy or a girl. Originally, I was going to go with cream, much like the original. (Check out the pattern, by One Little Rayndrop; it's simple, and beautiful in its simplicity.) But my yarn store only had 3 more balls of cream, so I bought those...and then 8 balls of Pier, a sea-foamy light blue.

My dimensions are bit off from those in the pattern since I don't have the patience to test for gauge. I used Rowan Pure Wool DK in Pier and a 6mm hook. (I don't have this size in my favourite brand with the comfy handle...I miss that handle!) I also decided to increase the number of rows from 53 to 55. Ok, I didn't decide anything. I miscounted, and then didn't want to rip out the last two rows. It took about 5 balls to finish, so I have 3 left over to play with.

One note on the pattern: It's not terribly specific on how to stitch the border once you get to the sides (i.e. the long part of the double crochets). I made each scallop (ch 3, 2 dc) into the post of each dc, and then slip stitched into the very next post and made the next scallop around that same post. Refer to the picture below; you'll see what I mean.

This blankie came together in 2 days or so. I started as soon as I got home from the shop and finished it off the next day. So today I'm showing you a work that is not in progress any more, but has rather progressed to the finish!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

I promised myself I would not buy fabric or yarn until after January's pay day. Well, yesterday was pay day. Got my budget all straightened out, and off to Wolsely I went. The store was packed, but I knew exactly what I wanted! Between pulling money from my gift budget (gotta make a gender-neutral baby blanket for an upcoming arrival), my hobby budget (all mine! all for me!), and a generous gift, I ended up with this:

The light blue in the bottom corner is destined to become the baby blanket, using this pattern. I love it for its texture and the ease with which it whips up. (Now there's some alliteration for your weekend.) The dark and light purples are going into a ripple blanket, as are the red and grey. And the heathered blue will finish off a lacy lap/baby blanket that I decided to make because all my projects were so dense, and I wanted a change. Oh, and the cream-coloured yarn is for another baby blanket. It would've been the gift, except that they only had 3 balls, and I needed 8.
So yes, I'm a wee bit giddy with delight. It's a good thing I had cash to spend, because I'm sure that with a card, I would've cleared them out of Rowan yarns. 'Tis a delight, that stuff is!
Now back I go to furiously crocheting up that light blue (technically known as 'Pier'). 14.5 rows done, only 38.5 (plus a border) to go!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Work in Progress

 Better late than never, right?

Yesterday, I was stuck out in the country (the other part of the country, not the part I live in) due to the weather. And today I'm stuck at home due to a stubborn cold. Which means crocheting time!

Payday has not yet arrived, so I had to begin a new blanket before finishing the other 2. (The rule is: no more yarn or fabric purchases till payday and budget are complete!) I decided 2 ripple blankets on-the-go are more than enough, and wanted to try something lacy, so this Bernat pattern fit the bill perfectly. And because it's so lacy, I might actually have sufficient yarn to finish it! (By the way, if you want to try the pattern, you'll have to register with the site to access it. It's free though.)

Because it's absolutely frigid outside (CBC says it's currently -25°C, and -37 °C with the windchill), the sun is shining beautifully. Time for a picture!

(And yes, this is another Rowan yarn. This time it's their felted tweed, 50% Merino, 25% Alpaca, and 25% viscose. Shade 165. I believe the name is 'Scree'.)

I often imagine what my projects could be used for, and I think this one would make a lovely photographer's prop. The neutral colour and the lovely neutral-colours-and-varied-textures-loving-soul swoons!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Work In Progress

I'm considering making Work In Progress posts a regular weekend feature. If this shows up again next weekend, you'll know how that idea panned out!

I just can't stay away from that Rowan yarn. It's gorgeous stuff. (And no, they don't pay me. They don't even know I exist.)

It's gonna be a baby blanket. The colours are a bit off in the picture; the red should be redder and the grey should be a bit deeper. I learned my lesson from the last ripple blanket I made and kept it a bit on the small side. I can always add borders if need be.

There's an excellent tutorial for rippling over on Ravelry by Attic 24. You can find it here.

I'll need to buy more yarn before this blankie gets finished, which means it won't be done before February. January is Frugal Month around here! (No, I'm not down to KD and soup cans. But a little figurative belt-tightening is a good thing now and then.)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Otava Baby Sprite Hat Pattern

I promised you the baby version, and here it is! Ain't she sweet? The wee point to the hat stands up quite well. I don't have any models handy, so you'll have to whip one up and see for yourself.

Otava Baby Sprite Hat Pattern

This pattern was developed for a baby using a 4mm (G/6) hook and 2 colours of Rowan pure wool dk 50g/125m. I used less than 1 ball of each colour for this hat.

Special stitch instructions:
A long sc happens when you insert your hook into the space below the one you would normally use when beginning a stitch. Here's a good YouTube tutorial.

With colour 1 (I like to start and end with the darkest colour):

Rnd 1: Chain 2. 6 sc in second loop from hook. Join to first sc with a slip stitch.
Rnd 2: Ch 2. (This does not count as an hdc.) 1 hdc in each sc around. Join to first hdc. Always join at the end of each round. (6 hdc)
Rnd 3: Ch 2. 1 hdc, 2 hdc in each hdc around. (9 hdc)

At this point, you can either continue with colour 1 (for a solid hat) or switch to colour 2 (for a striped hat). Because my stripes are narrow, I’m not cutting my yarn. I’m just pulling in a loop of colour 2. Later I’ll drop that yarn and pick up the hanging colour 1 yarn. Make sure that as you continue to crochet with your new colour, you leave the old colour hanging to the back (or inside) of your work. If you prefer another method of switching colours, that should work fine too.

Rnd 4: (with colour 2) Ch 2. 1 hdc in each hdc around. (9hdc)
Rnd 5: Ch 2. I hdc in each hdc around. (9 hdc)
Rnd 6: Ch 2. 1 hdc, 2 hdc in each hdc around. (You will end with 1 hdc.) (13 hdc)

Rnd 7: (pick up colour 1) Ch 2. 1 hdc in each hdc around. (13 hdc)
Rnd 8: repeat rnd 7.
Rnd 9: Ch 2. 1 hdc, 2 hdc in each hdc around. (You will end with 1 hdc.) (19 hdc)

Rnd 10: (pick up colour 2) Ch 2. 1 hdc in each hdc around. (19 hdc)
Rnd 11: repeat rnd 10.
Rnd 12: Ch 2. 1 hdc, 2 hdc in each hdc around. (You will end with 1 hdc.) (28 hdc)

Rnd 13: (pick up colour 1) Ch 2. 1 hdc in each hdc around. (28 hdc)
Rnd 14: repeat rnd 13.
Rnd 15: Ch 2. 1 hdc, 2 hdc in each hdc around. (You will end with 2 hdc.) (42 hdc)

Rnd 16: (pick up colour 2) Ch 2. 1 hdc in each hdc around. (42 hdc)
Rnd 17: Ch 2. 1 hdc in each hdc around. (42 hdc)
Rnd 18: repeat rnd 17.

Rnd 19: (pick up colour 1) Ch 2. 1 hdc in each hdc around. (42 hdc)
Rnd 20: repeat rnd 19.
Rnd 21: Ch 2. 1 hdc, 1 hdc, 2 hdc in each hdc around. (56 hdc)

Rnd 22: (pick up colour 2) Ch 2. 1 hdc in each hdc around. (56 hdc)
Rnd 23: repeat rnd 22.
Rnd 24: Ch 2. 1 hdc, 1 hdc, 1 hdc, 2 hdc in each hdc around. (70 hdc)

Rnd 25: (pick up colour 2) Ch 2. 1 hdc in each hdc around. (70 hdc)
Rnds 26-30: repeat rnd 25. Continue to change colours every 3 rounds.

Rnd 31: (pick up colour 1) Ch 1. 1 hdc in each hdc. (70 hdc)
Rnd 32: (pick up colour 2) Ch 1. 1 sc in each hdc. (70 sc)
Rnd 33: repeat rnd 32.

Rnd 34: (pick up colour 1) Ch 1. 1 sc in each sc. Alternate 1 regular sc and 1 long sc around. (70 sc)
Rnd 35: Ch 1. 1 sc in each sc. (70 sc)

Weave in and trim all loose ends.
This pattern is for personal use only. Please do not sell the pattern or anything you make with this pattern. Thank you.

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Year's Project

To ring in the new year, I decided to sew. I was going to be sensible and finish off a project...but as I dug through fabric and batting, I came across a jelly roll that I'd forgotten about.

And I wanted to do something fiddly with it, so I chopped the entire thing into 2-1/2" squares and started pinwheeling. And pinwheeling. And pinwheeling. Nothing like going all out!

It wasn't entirely random. I organized the fabrics by colour and by pattern. Then I came up with a handy-dandy chart to make sure I got as many different combinations going as possible. I figured I'd use the extra bits in a border of some kind.

There will be enough pinwheels to arrange them in a 12 x 12 square, with a few left over. Which is good, because there are one or two in there that don't deserve to see the light of day. Let's just call them learning experiences and leave it at that.

And the learning continues. It's easier to sew into a fat seam than to start on it. Clunking noises mean stop the presses. The start/stop button is faaabulous for chain piecing. The machine likes to pull a bit to the left when it starts up.

I'm thinking this one will need sashing (is that the term?) between the pinwheels. I want it to be fun , and maybe even busy, but not crazy/overwhelming. Whaddaya think?