Friday, 24 July 2009

Crochet Heart Rag Rug

Another day another dollar. Oh well folks it’s nearly the weekend or maybe it’s the weekend already. A I sit in the kitchen with the smell of shallots filling the air I decided to write this blog now. If my eyes don’t start smarting this may be coherent.

Well today has been one of those days where you spend too much time doing things that you hadn’t anticipated. For example spending way too much time cutting up fabrics and too little time working on the actual creative process itself.

As you may know I have been busy working on a beastie of a rag rug and as it approaches 6ft I’ve decided it would be better at 7 or 8ft. It’s getting incredibly heavy to have on my lap as I work my way around it. So as a little incentive I decided that I would attempt to create a small, quick, heart shaped rag rug. I think it would make the perfect bath mat or shower mat. Not really my normal type of colours but as I worked on it I decided it would do equally well in a Nursery.

I had no pattern and just started where I thought would be a good place with a 6 chain loop and went from there.

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When working with a crocheted rag rug my methodology is to literally feel your way. Not only are you trying to construct a shape but to feel and decipher the appropriate tension. A rug that lies flat is definitely the desired outcome. After all I don’t want anyone stumbling out of the shower to be tripped up by a rippled and wavy mat.

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Here again I have worked with a 10mm hook and cut the fabric to approx. 1cm or 1.5cm.

168-6881_IMG Here we go – colour change number one and the beginnings of an embryonic crocheted heart. The thing I love about crocheting fabric is how quickly you can achieve growth. The thing I hate most is the time required to go through the cutting process.

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This week, being the summer holidays, I have had my little people to help me with this. However the premise of their help has been negotiated on a financial reward basis and so my little rag rug must be worth more than an axminster carpet.

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This is me working on the rug and it is the reverse that you can see. It looks pretty against the poppy print of my skirt, well I thought so anyway.

168-6892_IMGAnd voila it’s all but done – well in fact it is now complete. It’s a naughty little heart as it has distracted me from the bigger picture, the mega rag rug.

168-6896_IMG Here is the little naughty heart photographed on some of the fabric used in the crocheted rug. The colours remind me a Kath Kidston creations and are outside my normal comfort zone. The rug measures approx. 60cm or 24” and will be a bonus to the shower room I hope.

Once dinner is cooked, spaghetti bolognaise, and the mini people are away to slumber the big beastie rug will be upon my lap again. Hopefully early next week I will be able to take the final photograph to show you all.

I now have the weekend in front of me to plan, imagine and muse over yet another ‘project’ – or I could finish one of the outstanding ones, I know. The next two weeks are going to be hectic with little people coming and growing (freudian slip but it’s appropriate). I have other visitors to come to and so my creativity will be hampered. I shall enjoy the calm before the storm.

Have a creative weekend.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Simple Abundance

Hello Everyone,

Last night we had thunder and lightening and lots of showers. Overnight it was difficult to sleep and I woke several times feeling cold. When I finally awoke and had my glass of milk, my thoughts turned to autumn and the coming cold weather and I allowed my mind to wander and began to create blankets in my mind. The fact that I have 3 blankets on the go at the moment doesn’t deter my mind from creating new creations.

I do hate to moan about the weather but it’s such a British preoccupation. I used to tell myself it was the territory of the elderly but now I know better.

‘If the first of July it be rainy weather, ‘twill rain more or less for four weeks together.’

So let’s be optimistic that August will bring summer again.

I wanted to share my thoughts on some delightful books that I’ve recently been reading. This seems a more productive way to us the day than grumbling about the weather. I will of course need to get back to my rag rug later it is almost 5ft in circumference now.

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Simple Stylish Crochet – Melody Griffiths.

This is a great book full of inspiration and exquisite colour rich photographs. I love the poncho off the cover, as seen above.

The book has 24 different patterns ranging from beginner through to more the more advanced crochet pattern. It has the practical items like hats, scarves and jackets. It also has some sensational glamorous evening wear like the sequinned vest top. I think this is a good book to invest in or at least take out of your local library.

I love vintage crochet patterns and books too. I have quite a collection of books in my growing library. I recently ordered, Crochet By Design by Wynne Broughton, for borrowing at my local library. Unfortunately my local library service had lost this book and so I received this book on loan from Orkney Islands Council.

The book is as it says on the cover a sound manual for learning about the various stages of the design process. The book, although over 30 years old, is still a solid foundation for anyone wanting to master the process of designing any type of crochet. It goods give details on mastering the various crochet stitches and techniques.

I also figured given the weather is so miserable at the moment it would be uplifting and encouraging to read some pages from Sarah Ban Breathnach. Her books are beautiful and nurturing. Reading just a few pages is to escape from everyday stresses and and like having a relaxing cup of tea at the same time.

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Two wonderful books by Sarah Ban Breathnach.

Romancing The Ordinary – A Year of Simple Splendour

Simple Abundance – A Daybook of Comfort & Joy

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In Something More – Excavating Your Authentic Self, she provides a plethora of musings and reflections which can be read as inspirational affirmations. Each page provides an enriching and soothing creative resource. Something to focus on, something to consider and some gem to ponder on throughout your day.

All of these books are bursting with apposite quotations from a multitude of characters. For example the chapter ‘Entertainment’ opens with the following quote -

“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play of instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.”

C. G. Jung

This I can relate very clearly to the actual creative process. So go forth and enjoy creating.

Happy creativity

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Recycling & Freecycle

Howdy Folks,

Hopefully you had a good productive weekend. Creating things, making things and sharing things. Well this weekend saw The Big Lunch happen on Sunday, 19th July, 2009. Did you take part in it ? We did, more by happy accident than good planning. I had looked at the Big Lunch’s website a couple of months ago but didn’t make any plans at that time. Hopefully this will become an annual event and more and more people will set up their own lunches.

So What is The Big Lunch ?

Basically, it's a party in your street, in everyone's street. On 19th July we're asking the people of Britain to stop what they're doing and sit down to lunch together. Why? Well for lots of reasons really but mainly to put a smile back on Britain's face.

You can find more details at www.thebiglunch.com

Anyway our Big Lunch ended up being served slightly later and so became the Big Dinner. We invited our neighbours and ate good seasonal food. Home grown potatoes with fresh broad beans, spring greens (strange time of year I know). Interesting fact did you know spring greens are the tops of turnips or swedes and extremely nutritional. We had a steak casserole with chanteray carrots and turnip bake, yum yum.

My youngest child made a coffee and pecan cake – fast becoming his signature dish. We had good conversation, good food & wine and most importantly a good time. Unfortunately I forgot to take any photographs.

Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook That Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats

Crochet Rag Rug - Progress Has Been Slow

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The biggest problem here has been trying to source more fabrics. I went to the charity shops at the weekend to try and find more bright fabrics to add to this rug. Whatever happened to jumble sales? also known as rummage sales in the USA. The prices in charity shops are so prohibitive and in essence defeat the object of the game, which is to recycle previously cherished fabrics.

This is one of the reasons I revisited www.freecycle.org I haven’t placed a ‘WANTED’ post yet but will do so in the next couple of days. So much of the fabrics and textiles we use and dispose of end up in landfill sites. Which is a crime in itself.

Did you Know?

The UK generates between 550,000 and 900,000
tonnes of textile waste every year. Most of this
waste comes from households, with textiles making
up about 4% of the contents of the average bin.

It is estimated that 400,000 to 700,000 tonnes of
textiles are landfilled every year, a waste of valuable
resources worth an estimated £400 million.

At least 50% of the textiles going to landfill could
be recycled, but in fact the amount of textile waste
reused or recycled annually in the UK is estimated
to be around 250,000 tonnes.

Certainly something worth thinking about.

Last night I measured my growing crocheted rug and it now measures 54”.

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Next week I will produce instructions for my pattern for a circular rug. If you are going to crochet along start cutting your strips of fabric now.

I believe that the technology of crocheting with recycled yarns has many application other than just rag rugs and I’m already mulling over the various ways this could be applied creatively. The postman has just delivered two new crochet hooks which makes the possibilities limitless.

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These crochet hooks are 15mm and 20mm. The above rug was created using 10mm hook which may explain why my hands are so stiff in the morning. I will let you know how I get on with the various sizes of hooks in due course.

Flip Flops and Fit Flops

Before I go I just wanted to mention my wonderful Fit Flops. Which have to be the most comfortable Flip Flops on the market.

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The product literature makes fairly amazing claims for what can be achieved by wearing Fit Flops. They are the shoe with the gym built in check them out here www.fitflop.com

I can’t make a full review of their capabilities just yet but they certainly have reduced any swelling or water retention on a hot day.

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Until the next time I hope that you are busily creative and happily hooking away.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Crochet Rag Rug - WIP

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Oh dear here I go again or do I mean here I am again ? I’m having an obsessive and infatuated love affair with my newest creation. Look at these beautiful colours and juicy textured stitches. I’m not quite sure where I got the idea or inspiration to begin making a rag rug but it has now thoroughly gripped me and I’m hooked. No pun intended.

Maybe it was thoughts about recycling colours and fabrics. Maybe it was the desire to hold onto fabrics and items that really should have gone to the charity shop by now. I bought a 10mm crochet hook a while ago to make a rug for The Sunroom. The floor in there is marble and fine in the summer but a tad cold in the winter. Anyway it must have been in the back of my mind and now I am romping through the first rag rug.

I am going to attempt to make it fairly large although I’m not sure how workable this is going to be when it gets to 6 ft. I have a, what is horrible to me, heavy traffic carpet area in one of our rooms that I just can’t bear. It really needs a new carpet or to be laminated but that isn’t feasible this week. So given that patience is NOT my virtue a rag rug is the perfect solution.

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I have just raided everybody’s wardrobes and drawers and selected items I thought were past there best and also fairly bright. I didn’t have a colour scheme in mind but one seems to have emerged all by itself.

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I haven’t made the rug too thickly a 10mm crochet hook dictates that. So far it has a wonderful flexibility to it – hence photographing it crunched up. What you see in the background is the problematic carpet.

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Oh the lovely mixture of colours and textures. So far my embryonic rug has gobbled up 1 sundress, 1 sarong, 1 man’s shirt, 1 adult T shirt and approx 6 children’s T shirts. Will life ever be the same again ? Will I be able to hang the laundry out without glancing at it blowing in the wind with less than an ulterior motive ?

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Here you can see more of the form – I am crocheting in the circular for fluidity.

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I will of course post photographs of the finished item in the not too distant future. I will also document the pattern I have made should you wish to make you own rug. My main advice at this point is have a very good pair of scissors and at least ten times the amount of fabric you may think you require.

Happy crocheting for now. I am dashing to the library to collect a new crochet book.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Crochet Flowers

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I’ve been digging around and looking for crochet patterns and inspiration to create some flowers. Flowers can be used for a variety of projects – embellishing hats, scarves, belts. Decorating cushions, blankets or afghans. They can be turned into jewellery or badges and corsages.
Here are a few that I tried out.
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A rose – I found the pattern for this via http://www.pompomemporium.com/ alternatively the pattern can be found on http://www.the-dark-knit.blogspot.com/
The overall effect is quite impressive but I felt it was a bit of a convoluted pattern to achieve this flower.
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A very easy but very happy sunshine crochet daisy.
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This flower is known as a layered flower – I got instruction from The Encyclopaedia of Crochet Techniques by Jan Eaton. I found this relatively easy to produce but it was time consuming and I’m not convinced it has too many applications.
The following pink flower is adapted from the same book – here I created 8 petals rather than 10.
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And again here completed using Noro Silk Garden Yarn.
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My final flower was just an experiment and worked out relatively well. I used a 6mm hook and standard DK wool. I began a base row of 12 chain and then turned and worked to DC into each chain and repeated 5 times. I then sewed it together through the first row – this way you can adjust how tight or loose you want the final flower. Easy peasy.
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Finally before I sign off I wanted to document the following knitting pattern for a easy lacy border.
Here is the border.
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Here is the pattern.
Cast on 4 St(s)
Row 1 - Knit
Row 2 - Knit 2, wyif, Knit 2
Row 3 - sl st, Knit
Row 4 - Knit 3, wyif, Inc 1 st
Row 5 - Knit 2, wyif, k2tog, wyif, Knit 2
Row 6 - sl 1, Knit to end
Row 7 – Knit 3, wyif, K2tog, wyif, Knit 2
Row 8 – Cast off 4, Knit to end.
Repeat these 8 rows until desired length is reached
Abbreviations:
wyif – with yarn in front
sl st – slip stitch
K2tog – Knit 2 together.
This may read as complicated but is exceptionally easy to complete.
Find my Handmade Silver Crochet or Knitting Stitch Markers here
Crochet http://goodtimesithinkso.blogspot.com/2009/09/crochet-stitch-markers.html Knitting http://goodtimesithinkso.blogspot.com/2009/09/knitting-stitch-markers.html

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Inspiration

I was thinking the other day – what is it that inspires us to crochet, knit or generally craft. Quite often we can get inspired by colour, by shape or by texture. Often inspiration is driven by the desire to master a new technique or simply to create something individual and unique. Necessity is the mother of all invention and so inspiration can be borne of practical needs, especially in this current climate.
We’ve spent the weekend in the garden again and I realise that inspiration can come from the most natural forms.
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This picture of of a begonia illustrates this perfectly. The pattern, colour and texture are so inspirational. The pinks, lilacs and purples are a sight to behold. This doesn’t look like just a plant but more like a painting.
Inspiration for me comes from all manner of places and we live in good times where we are able to access all manner of input via the current technologies. We can visit websites and blogs and see the most beautiful creations. We can get patterns and colour schemes at the flick of a button. In my opinion this doesn’t change what we are creating. Our creations are part of our everyday lives – a time stamp of a particular moment in time.
I was reminded of this recently when I decide upon a crochet project called the university blanket. As number one son gets ready to leave home and experience the academic life I thought it would be a good idea to make him a blanket. I began crocheting a blanket for him but have subsequently changed my mind on colour schemes. The said blanket, attempt number one, will find good use in our household after all we are in Scotland.
The blanket project is not a necessity but almost a rite of passage. It is symbolic of the cha,nges that will occur for both him and everyone in the household, he’s moving on. Last winter was sooooooo cold that I had numerous blankets on my bed. I was reminded of the timelessness of creativity when I remembered the crochet blanket I had on the bed last winter was in fact the blanket I crocheted in the weeks before he was born. 18 years on and still providing sterling service.
If you are looking for inspiration then why not visit http://www.ravelry.com/ or http://www.flickr.com/ There are so many beautiful creations to feed your imagination. On a more practical level if you are looking for basic patterns and instruction try http://www.knittingpatterncentral.com/ or http://www.crochetpatterncentral.com/
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Yesterday we discovered these new pine cones on our tree – these are so inspirational and unexpected.
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A rose in full bloom and such a beautiful colour.
Last week I was working on granny squares, octagons for my octagon blanket project and a jazzy beret – crocheted. I loved the colour of the wool that I used and the texture.
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I crocheted this on a 4mm hook using Sirdar Fresco. It only took a couple of hours and I think the end product is great. I had been thinking about summertime and festival going. We had T in the Park this weekend and so it seemed an appropriate item to make.
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The pattern was very easy and was my usual concoction or amalgamation of a variety of patterns viewed on the internet. If anyone is interested I can type up the pattern and put it on the blog.
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The yarn used is almost pom pom like and looks very textured and bubbly when complete. The beret is also completely reversible so that it can be worn either bubbly and pom pom or reversed for a flat texture.
The Noro Silk Garden Vest
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At Christmas I was lucky enough to be the recipient of the above yarn. It sat in it’s bag for quite a few months until I could find the right inspiration. I eventually found it at http://www.lionbrand.com/ they have an absolute plethora of free knitting and crochet patterns. As ever I took a basic pattern for a V neck vest and changed it to make it my own. The vest is both knitted and finished with crochet. I absolutely love the colour scheme and the yarn – Colour 236.
The vest as you can see is quite clingy and the yarn has no elasticity. It hangs well but isn’t as clingy as I would have liked.
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I hope you find the inspiration to feed your imagination and happy crafting until next time.

Monday, 6 July 2009

The Octagon Blanket Project

A couple of months ago i was inspired to knit an octagon throw, blanket or afghan. I had downloaded a vintage pattern many months before and naively believed this would be a ‘quick’ project.
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The original pattern was worked in 4 ply wool and was made up of about 122 octagons. I decided to use DK double knitting acrylic wools – for washability and durability.
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This was a quick layout to assess sizing and how many actual octagons would be needed. The colour theme is essentially greens, blues and purples.
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As you can see each octagon is bordered by four small squares and then there is a final border. I have decided to to knit all aspects of the throw in garter stitch. I still need to finalise sizing’s and numbers required. I have decided to crochet the final border so that it may actually be completed in 2009. Patience is NOT my virtue. When I began this project I estimated that i would take approximately one month, I was obviously deluded or very optimistic.
I began making at least 8-10 octagons a day but now I have to force myself to complete at least a couple a day. So many other projects and experiments beckon.
In the photographs some of the octagons appear to be black but they are in fact a forest green.
Totals to date are:
Octagons 48
Half Octagons 11
Filler Squares 23
Corner Octagons 0
In hindsight I wish I had crocheted the octagons but I’m promising myself that it will all be worth it once it’s complete.
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As ever in between knitting the octagons I went off and crocheted a massive granny square. I am obviously working in the same colour schemes here but more blues I think.
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I realise that I am too easily distracted but as long as my hands are busy I’m happy.
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The finished square measures approx 6ft square and was very quick to work.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Scarves, Shawls and Sunny Days

This week has been incredibly hot and sticky but not as sunny as the rest of the country. The heat has been unbearable at night making a good nights sleep somewhat elusive. The children finished school this week so hopefully we’re in for sunny days during the summer holidays.

I’ve been working on various items this week – the ongoing retro octagon blanket a spiral scarf and a quick crochet shawl.

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The beginnings of the scarf – knitted on a circular needle 6mm, purely for length 6mm. This was quite tricky for the first couple of rows – sat in the sunny with sweaty hands and using a yarn with no stretch properties.

The finished scarf – very quick and

166-6622_IMGeasy to make.

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I decided that I really needed to start working in some new colours. I seem to be stuck in blues, greens and purples at the moment. I searched my stash and came up with some Wendy Fusion – Cajun. This yarn is 50% wool and 50% acrylic, it’s quite soft and snuggly and so I crocheted a shawl with it. I used a 6mm hook and it worked up very quickly.

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A close up of the openwork chain pattern.

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Measures approx. 130cm wide 90cm length.

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So we’ve been out in the garden doing some trimming, pruning and sitting in the sun. A few pictures of plants in bloom below.

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How vibrant is that colour ?

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This was a huge tree that we had to cut down a couple of years ago. I planted it up with a fern which has successfully made it’s home there. It looks like a strange dwarf palm tree but it keeps me happy.

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Pinks in full bloom.

Well the rain has arrived and things are cooling down just in time for the summer holidays. I will continue to work away at my octagon’s and hopefully gain some new inspiration for items to make in the coming days.

I have just got a new 10mm crochet hook and may have a go at attempting a crochet rag rug.