Thursday, December 24, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Today was hot… and I don’t cope well with the heat.
By the time that the kids came home from school, I was ready to find a nice quiet corner and have a quick snooze before heading out to the school picnic.
Just as I was getting myself settled, I hear Master Ten calling out from his bedroom:
“MUUUUUUMMMMM… I think that LIZARDY has escaped!”
Usually Lizardy doesn’t stay in the bedroom. But today there was a crochet meet at my place, and I thought that he might be safer away from toddler fingers. So Master Ten had hidden the pet box away in his room.
Which seemed like a good idea at the time…
And I was really puzzled about how the lizard could have possibly escaped…
So the questions began:
mum – “Where did you leave his box?”
boy – “On my bed”
mum – “How do you think he got the lid off?”
boy – “I didn’t put it on”
mum – “Why not?”
boy – “I didn’t know that I had to”
Well, after much searching, we finally located the the little creature INSIDE my son’s pillowcase! Glad he was discovered BEFORE bedtime…
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
So, here are those DIVINE earrings that I was telling you about earlier. The ones I like to wear them ALL the time.
They are my first effort at making earrings, which was surprisingly easy once you see how it is done. I have used new wire and hooks, but the beads are all recycled from old pieces of jewellery.
Friday, December 11, 2009
I volunteered to be a Swap Angel for the Christmas Swap over at Crochet Lovers Victoria. A Swap Angel takes over when one of the participants isn't able to follow through on the committment of sending their gift. Otherwise, someone who had sent an item, would miss out on receiving one. And that's not nice!
Anyway, it meant making a few decorations on fairly short notice. So I decided to stick with a 'tried and trusted' pattern... something that I had made successfully before, and knew wouldn't take too long. It kind of defeats the purpose if I don't get it made until after Christmas!!!
These Christmas Stockings are a Jean Greenhowe pattern. They're from her Christmas pattern booklet. Jean also has this free online pattern for a slightly smaller version (you'll just need to scroll down the page a bit to get to it) I've raved enough about Jean in the past... so I'll keep this one short, and just go on the record as saying... SHE IS A LEGEND.
Instead of just making a generic stocking, I wanted to make them personal. Cristina is the founder of the Crochet Lovers Victoria group, so I wanted it to be special. If it were not for her efforts in setting up the group, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful crochet friends in real life.
So, I know that Cristina loves hand-dyed yarns. In fact, she has just set up her own online shop, selling yarn indulgence packs... click here to take a little peek. Anyway, I decided to hand-dye some reclaimed yarn to make her stockings.
The pink coloured one I dyed using some concentrated raspberry cordial, and the green one was made using leftovers from a food dye experiment I did a while back. I used most of it to make this dragon for my nephew, but there was a small ball left in my stash.
So I had the hand-dyed thing going on, but I wanted to add something else. Something special that would jump out and say I MADE THIS JUST FOR YOU.
At one of our recent crochet meets, Cristina brought along some beads and wire so that she could show us some of the basics of jewellery making. I made the most fabulous pair of earrings - I wear them ALL the time - they are divine with a capital D - recycled beads of course - but that's a post for another day!
But it gave me the idea of incorporating wire and beads into the stockings...
I wired the beads, shaping them into letters... with the initial of each family member, and then sewed them onto the front of the stocking with a small piece of fabric in between. Four stockings in total, green for the boys and pink for the girls. I had been aiming for red when I dyed them, but the yarn turned out suck a pretty shade of pink instead - that I had to use it anway.
Now I know that Cristina isn't planning on putting up her Christmas Tree this year, but I'm hoping that she can find somewhere else to hang these stockings - to help with the festive spirit.
Now before you all bombard me with comments about the fact that I KNITTED the gifts for a CROCHET swap... it's a crochet group, but we could use any craft for our decorations. And Cristina is such an avid NON-KNITTER (we don't even say the K word around her)... that I couldn't resist sending her something knitted!
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Okay... before you start thinking that we must have some weird Christmas traditions here in Australia... let me just say, that the Christmas Bat is not something you would commonly see here. In fact, I'm pretty sure he is a one-of-a-kind!
I made him for my swap partner. She received him yesterday, and got a wonderful surprise.
Usually when I am participating in a swap, I like to make the gift as personal as possible. Do you remember the crochet hook holder which I made for Daphne? Well... she adores (and I mean ADORES) all things peacock... so, it was very easy to choose a theme for that one. Click here if you haven't seen it before - I'm really proud of the way he turned out.
Unfortunately, I haven't ever met Wendy, so I was starting with nothing. I decided to do a bit of a rav-stalk (you know... where you check out someone's profile on Ravelry, in the hopes of finding some useful personal information). I discovered that she is MAD ABOUT BATS... which I already suspected, since her avatar is a bat, and her rav-name is batwing57.
So now all I had to do was combine the bat theme with the Christmas theme... easy enough to do, right???
Into the planning stages... I had visions of Holly Bats hanging on a Christmas Tree - that's HOLLY bats, not HOLY bats!
Can you imagine little bats, with their green holly leaf wings and red berry bodies?
Nah.. I was having trouble with that one, too! I couldn't see them coming together, without looking like mutant holly, assembled by a three-year-old child.
So I decided to make a regular bat, and give him a Santa hat for the Holiday Season. The hat is only pinned in place, so that he doesn't have to wear it all year 'round.
I remembered that bats can be a bit hairy, so I crocheted the body using a strand of dark grey yarn, and a strand of black eyelash yarn worked together. As you can see, he looks pretty boring at this stage...
Then I assembled some embellishments... I cut some wings and ear pieces from a couple of felted jumpers, and added a few buttons for the nose and eyes.
Everything was hand-stitched in place.
By this stage he was looking very much like a bat... but not very festive... so along came the Santa hat.
And here he is, ready for Wendy...
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
I’ve really enjoyed my time at Crochet Lovers Victoria (CLV). The group was started on Ravelry by Stramenda, so that local crocheters could meet both online AND in real life. It’s always fascinating to see what other crocheters are working on… admire their finished projects… and share books and magazines with one another. The other bonus of meeting regularly with others, is that when you get stuck with a particular pattern… someone can always help to nut it out! Crochet Lovers Victoria is open to everyone, so come on over to Ravelry and check us out.
But for the moment, let’s get back to the Christmas Swap.
I haven’t been able to share everything I’ve been working on lately, because some of them are swap items – and I don’t want to ruin the surprise before they are received in the mail.
I loved the card… can you read it? Daphne has used all recycled and second-hand materials for this gift AND packaging… everything except the STAMP! How fabulous is that?
And inside, there were five of these beautiful crocheted decorations…
Now I just need to find somewhere splendid to hang them…
There’s a plastic ring from the neck of a milk bottle inside each of these, isn’t Daphne clever???
Monday, December 7, 2009
Well, my first task was to find out what a JAPANESE WISHING POT is!
Actually... it pretty much exactly what it sounds like. The idea is that you write your wishes down, and pop them inside the pot. Generally the pot would be porcelain or ceramic, and be decorated with lucky symbols. Like this one here:
Off to assess the stash... and decide what to use for this project...
I'm very, very good at losing things...
Well - maybe not losing as such - but definitely MISPLACING!
I MISPLACED my cross stitch project. You might remember I was talking about it in this post here. I was determined to get it finished before Christmas, and was working on it at every opportunity... but then one day... without warning... it just DISAPPEARED!
It's not as though I didn't look for it. I kept getting these fabulous ideas about where it might be - like UNDER the passenger seat of the car - or in the ironing basket... but no matter where I searched, I couldn't find it.
Then, just the other day, I wanted to work on some card-making. So I grabbed the bag of goodies... opened it up... AND THERE WAS MY CROSS STITCH!!!
No idea how... or why... or when...
But so glad that I have found it!
Not sure that I have any chance of finishing it before Christmas. Although it would be nice to complete it over the summer holidays.
So, here is my progress so far:
and you can click here to see where I was at the last time I showed you
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Mind you, it's been a crazy six months or so.
All of our decorations are up, but somehow it all feels a bit fake... like a Christmas in July celebration. I feel as though I am going through the motions, but that my heart just isn't in it.
I guess there's lots of factors in play. It's only just over a year since Mum passed away, which has left a huge void in my life. And then a few months ago, my Father-in-Law passed away... so it's been a time of great emotional upheaval in the Goldfish household. To top it all off, my eldest child now knows the truth about Santa. And I know it sounds weird, but I feel like a part of me is grieving for the loss of the fantasy of Christmas. Or something like that, anyway.
I thought that working on a Christmas project might help me to boost my holiday enthusiasm...
And it did!
How can you look at this little guy and NOT smile???
Mind you... the pattern nearly did my head in. I couldn't work out what was going on. I was following the instructions exactly as written, but at the end my crochet piece looked like this, and I couldn't figure out how it would become a snowman:
The pattern is called Crochet Bird Seed Snowman. The theory is that you fill him with sunflower seeds, and then leave him outdoors on Christmas Day... for the birds to feast on. I've never heard of anything like this before. It seems such a bizarre concept to me. Is it just that we don't have that 'kind of thing' here in Australia??? Or does it seem unusual to all of you? Is this bird feeder like anything you have seen before?
I wanted a more permanent decoration (plus, I couldn't stand the idea of putting him outside to get pecked at by the birds) so I have filled him with a regular polyfill stuffing instead.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Here they are... the thirteen different yarns which I am using for this cushion cover. It felt like more than that when I was working with them!
In answer to your questions, I am using 4mm knitting needles, and have cast on 77 stitches - which measures approximately 30cm, making up the width of the cushion. I'm working in moss stitch (also known as seed stitch, depending on where in the world you are) and changing colours every row. There is no pattern to my colour changes. I just grab whichever ball takes my fancy.
My plan is to knit the cover in one piece, so I will be making a rectangle which is the same width as the cushion, but twice the height. Then I will fold the rectangle in half and tie the ends together along each side. Come on now... you KNEW that I wasn't going to be weaving in all those ends, didn't you! Click here to see my accidental hat, where I used this technique along the top edge.
The final touch will be to add a zip along the open end. Cushion covers at my place MUST be removable! My little goldfish can be absolute grubs at times... so the covers will definitely need regular laundering. I'm thinking that I will re-use the zipper from the current cushion cover, which will be just the right size.
UPDATED TO INCLUDE PHOTO OF FINISHED CUSHION
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
But it took me forever to get started!
I knew I wanted something casual and fun... nothing that would grubby up too easily... perhaps something colourful, but not necessarily bright... definitely nothing gaudy... you get the idea...
A bunch of comfy cushions which would sit nicely together, but not 'match'... no two will be the same.
And of course they would have to be made from recycled yarns.
So finally I have started...
Can you guess how many different colours of yarn I am using?
Saturday, November 21, 2009
I feel like all I seem to be working on at the moment is these squares... It's not that I'm not enjoying them, it's just that I'm no longer inspired by them. But the end is near, and I'm really excited to see the finished project.
Not only that, but I have signed up to do it all again next year!
The 2010 Block-A-Month Crochet-A-Long Group is already up and running over at Ravelry. I'm thinking that next year I might make the rug in more neutral colours... and include a combination of 6 inch and 12 inch squares. Then again... the new year is still a month-and-a-half away... that's plenty of time for me to change direction and decide to go with an entirely different plan.
Everyone is welcome to join in the 2010 BAM CAL. If you are already a member at Ravelry, click here to go directly to the group page. If you are not a member at Ravelry... maybe you should be! It's a very inspiring place.
Anyway... getting back to the details of this square. It's called the Hometown Square by Mary McKnight, and you can click here for the free online pattern. I've used a 4.5mm aluminium hook, and a variety of DK weight reclaimed yarns.
Didn't really enjoy this one much. The petal section really annoyed me. It wouldn't sit flat, and kept jumping up - which made it look ridiculous.
So I made a modification. After I completed the square, I went back to the petal section and worked an addition round to finish off the petals. If you look at the photo, you will see the lighter blue petals, which were part of the original pattern. I then added the navy trim around them. That weighted them down, and gave the flower a more finished look.
I love the idea of a curlique scarf...
Only problem is, that because you are generally increasing in every stitch... each row is longer and longer than the last. By the time you reach that final row... it seems to go on for an eternity!
I've made this one using a 4.0mm bamboo hook, and some reclaimed wool. The wool came from a top which had belonged to my mum... so the scarf now has sentimental value to me. I like to wrap it around my neck a couple of times, and it feels like a great big warm, reassuring hug.
This spiral scarf is a Lisa Gentry design, you can click here to buy the pattern. I did make a slight modification to the final round. I wanted a more 'picotty' edging, so instead of working 4sc, I worked (2sc, 3ch, 2sc) into each space.
I started this scarf in winter... but it's now almost summer here! In fact, we have had quite the heat wave - so I don't think I'll be wearing it any time soon...
Friday, November 13, 2009
Where did the time go???
It's been ages since my last post.
I could tell you that I've been spending every spare moment at the gym, and that's why you haven't heard much from me... I can't very well work out and blog and craft all at the same time now, can I? But that wouldn't be entirely true. In fact it wouldn't even be close to true.
You've all been so wonderfully supportive of me with the whole underpants issue! And I really appreciate it. Thanks so very much to those who sent messages, especially those who shared some of their own experiences with me.
Now I just need to be a bit more supportive of myself.
I love the gym... when I go, that is...
Once I'm in the door, I quite enjoy it... and of course I always feel wonderful (and exhausted) afterwards... but the really hard part is forcing myself to go in the first place. I seem to come up with a million excuses, and reasons not to go. Not entirely sure why I avoid going, but it's a negative habit which I'm trying to break.
But that's not what this blog is about...
I'm here to share my craft
Still plodding away at the 2009 Block-A-Month CAL. For the first half of the year, I was really disciplined. I worked both squares each month, and was well on track for completing the project. But I hit a bit of a stumbling block in August. Both of the August squares used a popcorn stitch pattern, which looked good worked in a single colour... but was just already too busy for me to go all multi-coloured with it. So I didn't make them.
Well, I did start them... but the results were really disappointing, so I frogged them. Then I couldn't get back into a rhythm again... until now!
So this is the November Ravelry Square. It is called Octagon Medallion and was deigned by Priscilla Hewitt. Click here to see the free online pattern.
Octagon Medallion was fun to make. It's visually interesting but the square itself is a fairly solid and stable piece, which meant that it took on a nice shape. This is one of the few squares which didn't actually appear to NEED blocking, it just came together beautifully.
That being said... I have spoken with a number of others who complained that their squares seemed to buckle and bend, and not sit nicely at all. Having further discussed it with them, they seem to have followed the pattern correctly, but it just hasn't worked up nicely. Frustrating, huh?
The only reason I can think for why this may have happened is TENSION. Now I can't remember what hook size I used for this pattern, but I do work with quite a loose tension. So if you find that your work curls in those first few rounds, start again with a larger hook and see if that helps. No point soldiering on with the starting hook. The bucking just gets worse with every round.
Monday, September 21, 2009
I have a confession to make...
one of the things that really, really, REALLY scares me...
is the size of my underpants!
I'm sorry if that's too much information for my more delicate readers out there... but it's true. Each year they've become a litte bigger... and a little bigger again... until they started to frighten me...
So I decided to face my fear of the ever-increasing undies, and do something about it.
My main problem is inactivity, and I don't think that I'm the only crafter out there who struggles with this problem. Quite frankly, I would much rather sit on my butt all afternoon and crochet, than go for a walk. Or if I was bored with crochet, I could always switch to knitting... or embroidery... or just surf the web for lots of creative ideas. It's not like I don't get any fresh air - if it's a nice day, I'll take my yarn outdoors to play.
Crafting is a very sedentary activity - and I do like to indulge in it whenever possible!
I certainly don't plan to give up on my craft. That would be insane... and far too painful. But I do need to balance it with some more demanding physical activity.
So I joined a gym!
Which I thought would be really scary, but wasn't...
The first one I checked out was perfect. Friendly and helpful staff. Clean, modern facilities. Fun atmosphere. Sensible, manageable workouts. Ongoing assessments and support.
And it is purple.
I know that seems like such a small thing compared to all those other points, but I decided to take it as a SIGN! The purple was perfect. It made me feel comfortable and at ease with the whole decision.
So today was my first workout. I overcame my reluctance to exercise in public, and I received a gold star on my name card! I love stars...
I'm so proud of myself for facing a fear, and dealing with it.
Friday, September 18, 2009
I know that lots of us are... and it's a really handy way of keeping in touch when I am away from Blogland. Not that I'm addicted or anything... well, not much!
Anyway, my username over there is laughingpurple (the character limit didn't allow for laughingpurplegoldfish) and if you click here it will take you to my profile. Add me as a friend, so that I can add you back... and stalk you!
I'm joking about the stalking part... but serious about the rest...
The other day I was out shopping.
On the path outside the shops was a gorgeous little sparrow, but as I approached him he didn't move away, which seemed kind of weird. I walked right past him, and still he didn't move. In fact, I had to walk around him to avoid stepping on him... but still he seemed unperterbed. He looked well, wasn't at all distressed... but just wouldn't move...
I watched for a little while to see what would happen. Hoping he would fly away, or at the very least to get out of the way of the pedestrian traffic. Or maybe someone would stop and gently move him across to the garden bed...
Actually, I really wanted to move him myself... but I'm not really a toucher of animals. I know that sounds ridiculous, I mean I'm quite capable of patting a cat or a dog, but that's as far as I go. If I had picked up that bird and he had struggled at all, I would have totally freaked out, screamed like a six year old girl and flung him away from me (probably onto the road, or into the shop window)
I know it sounds pathetic - I'm a thirty-eight year old grown woman, for Heaven's sake! I've been through childbirth three times, and touched countless icky kid messes... Why couldn't I help a harmless little bird?
I was still really annoyed with myself later that day, when I came across this fridge magnet...
Do one thing every day that scares you - Eleanor Roosevelt
I was so inspired by it, that I had to buy it and bring it home with me.
And it really got me thinking about the things that scare me. Silly little things. Irrational fears.
One thing for sure. Next time I will be the person who stops to help the bird.
What scares you?
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
It's one of my favourites... as it's so descriptive... and most of us can totally relate to it...
Does that sound familiar to you? Have you acquired more crafting materials than you could ever expect to use in your lifetime? Or perhaps you know someone who has?
I was looking through my embroidery case the other day, when I came to the frightening realisation... that even if I spent an hour embroidering every day, for the rest of my life... I CAN'T IMAGINE I WILL EVER MANAGE TO FINISH ALL THE EMBROIDERY PROJECTS I HAVE STARTED!
I'm not being melodramatic about this. Anyone who has ever dabbled in cross-stitch embroidery knows that it is painstakingly slow work. Sure, the results are fabulous... it just takes forever to get there.
I worked on this piece over a period of ten years!
Admittedly, it was an on again/off again project... but still... I don't need to tell you that ten years is a damn long time...
Reading through your comments from my last post, I had to agree with Misha. My style is usually simple and speedy. I love items which come together quickly, so that I don't get the chance to become bored with them. It's very surprising, especially to me, that I have gone back to my embroidery. Perhaps Stances & Stitches is on the right track when she suggests that with all the stress going on, I needed to find a place of calm... and the simple, slow rhythm of embroidery provided me with the 'centring' that I was craving.
Or maybe I'm just fickle, and I got bored with my yarns...
Anyway, here's a shot of some of those projects. It's a bit hard to see much detail because of the reflection from he plastic bags. I keep them in a vintage hat box which my father bought me for my birthday a few years back. Definitely one of my favourite gifts ever...
As for my current embroidery? My aim is to finish by the end of the year. Then I will probably have it professionally framed. The other option is to make it into a cushion cover, but I worry about how grubby it might get at my place... Might just be best to put it safely behind glass.
Monday, September 14, 2009
I'm not entirely sure what happened there... but man it's been a long, long time since my last post, hasn't it?
I've had so many wonderful messages from my readers - expressing both concern and encouragement - and I really, really, REALLY appreciate it. As a blogger... you sometimes wonder whether or not there is anyone out in cyberspace actually reading what you write. It totally cheered me up to hear that I was missed!
I didn't really plan to drop off the radar. It just kind of happened.
You know the way one thing snowballs into the next? And before you know it... it all turns into something huge. Well, that's pretty much what happened...
Lots of significant life changes - happening one after the next - and not leaving much time for crafting or blogging.
So, I guess it's been a good six weeks or more since we last spoke...
You would think that I would have accomplished so much craft in that time - but it's not the case. I've barely picked up my yarn at all.
Something which I have been working on, is cross stitch embroidery. Now, I have to confess that I have been working with NEW MATERIALS!!! I was given some birthday money a little while back, and I decided to purchase some embroidery kits.
I'm really loving this one: it's called ALL YOUR FRIENDS, and has been designed by DIANE ARTHURS... click here to see what the finished piece will look like.
And here is my progress so far:
Actually... I've just realised that I did do the TINIEST bit of recycling for this project! I recycled an old birthay card to use as my thread card. Just punched holes in it, sorted my threads into each hole, and then scribbled the symbol used in the graph chart for each colour.
So I wasn't completely evil!!!
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
This square is called Lovely in Green, by Dayna Audirsch. It is a free online pattern, click here for the link.
It actually worked up quite quickly and easily. I've used a 4.5mm hook and recycled 8ply/DK yarns. For the first two rounds I used the same colour, and after that the colour was changed at the end of each round.
- round 1 & 2 - cream
- round 3 - brown and white fleck
- round 4 - dark burgundy
- round 5 - cream
- round 6 - rivergum green
- round 7 - petrol
- round 8 - forest green
- round 9 - mid blue
- round 10 - natural fleck
- round 11 - camel fleck
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
One of my main reasons for chosing to work on the 'block-a-month' project, was because I wanted to learn to read patterns properly. I figured that if I was working on the same squares as the rest of the group, then there would be plenty of people ready to help when I needed it.
Well, it's working... and I'm now confident enough to try any pattern... well, almost any pattern!
Another interesting thing, is that I can now see FAULTS in patterns. Instead of assuming that I am the one at fault, I can see that there are times where the pattern just does not make sense.
This is one of those patterns. All was well up until about round 7, and then I got stuck. The instructions didn't fit with the previous round... so I ignored them, and just made it up based on the photograph of the finished square.
It is a free online pattern - Bright and Cheery Square, by Dayna Audirsch... click here for the link. I've used a 4.5mm hook, and recycled 8ply yarns.
- round 1 & 2 - mid blue
- round 3 - navy
- round 4 - beige
- round 5 - cream
- round 6 - rivergum green
- round 7 - mid blue
- round 8 - natural fleck
- round 9 - dark burgundy
- round 10 - peacock blue
- round 11 - rivergum green