Thursday, 31 December 2015

A year in 4 blankets

For me 2015 will be "The Year of the Blankets" because I seemed to spend a lot of my spare time knitting and crocheting blankets! I have just put my hook down and taken photos of my last blanket of the year. I really wanted to finish it by the end of today and with 9 hours to spare I was happy to achieve my deadline!

the 4 blankets

The first blanket I completed this year was crocheted following the gorgeous pattern, "Sophie's Universe", by Dedri Uys. You can find the link to Dedri's pattern here

Sophie's Universe in progress

I loved following this pattern because it taught me so many different stitch techniques and combinations, every day was a school day!

At the very start of the year I began work on my Beekeepers Quilt. This was a knitted blanket, formed by making "hexipuffs" which were worked on 3 double pointed needles. I wrote a blog post about the start of this quilt adventure in January this year if you would like more information on this one.

finished Beekeepers Quilt

I was inspired by an Instagram friend, Anthea, @theforestflower ( link here) to make 1 hexipuff a day for the year, creating enough hexies by the end of the year for a blanket. I made mine using all my scraps of double knitting wool, instead of 4ply wool as the pattern stated, resulting in a very thick and heavy blanket! I decided to stop knitting in the autumn and started to join them together because I was worried about the weight causing damage to the blanket. The pattern for the hexipuffs is by Tiny Owl Knits and is available on Ravelry here

detail of hexipuffs

Throughout the year I worked on another blanket, on and off when I felt like a break between projects or when I had accumulated fresh supplies of scrap yarn. This was the largest of the 4 blankets, big enough to cover our king size bed! It was made up of very simple granny squares, designed by Jan Eaton, it's in her 200 Crochet Blocks book.

my husband, snuggled in the large blanket


This project kept me sane in the run up to Christmas because the squares were so easy to crochet and allowed me to chill out from all the extra goings on at that time.

cuppa and crochet

detail of the large squares

My fourth blanket of 2015 was completely different from the others, this one was self coloured which was a real change for me! I crocheted it following a pattern by Shelley Husband called GREG which was released fortnightly as a mystery CAL (crochet along). This meant that I had no idea how the finished blanket would look but I had been following Shelley on Instagram, as Spincushions  for long enough to have faith in her pattern writing abilities and I knew it would be an awesome blanket!

GREG in progress

I quickly found that working in one single colour meant that little faults and flaws in my crocheting stood out much more than in multi colour work. I learnt a few new techniques to help conceal the start and end of rounds with and I was soon much happier with the finished squares. You can find a link to Shelley's blog which has a link to her new eBook here

another GREG in progress

As the year drew to a close I realised that I had not really considered who the recipients of these blankets would be! I had a feeling that the Beekeepers Quilt would go to my youngest son because he had been sneaking off with as soon as it was big enough to huddle under! The large king size bed blanket was for our bed, I wanted a blanket that was big enough to keep one half of!! The other 2 blankets, what to do with them? I decided to give them to my other 2 boys to keep everyone happy and give everyone an heirloom blanket which I hope will be treasured for years to come.

my boys, posing with their blankets!

Now that they are all finished, what shall I make next? 

Marta xx

Monday, 5 October 2015

Introducing my Sasha doll; Belinda

I would like to introduce you to my Sasha doll called Belinda. I have had her since I was very small, making her one of the earlier versions of the design. If you are unfamiliar with Sasha dolls, have a look at this link



I made the pink and blue outfit above as my entry in the "dressed doll" category at my local flower show and she won first prize! This was before I had started up my craft business and this recognition gave me the confidence to make a go of it!


About a month ago I stumbled across a box of my child hood toys in the attic, and Belinda was inside! Then last week I was looking for a quick project and decided to make Belinda a new dress. I looked through my baby clothes patterns, found a newborn one and made it in 3ply yarn instead of double knitting (8ply) in order to achieve the correct fit. It was fiddly working in such fine wool, but it crocheted up really fast so it was rewarding!


I have a large selection of vintage pattern books which I love! These 2 are particularly inspiring at the moment. Toys to Knit and Crochet has several pages of patterns especially for Sasha dolls. It was kindly passed on to me from my friend Teresa - thanks Teresa!!

On Saturday I made a very speedy dress in vintage 4ply cotton. It worked up so quickly I got carried away, finished it, sewed in all the the ends, sewed the buttons on ... the inside! Today I went back and sorted them, and I'm happy with the vintage style on Belinda - what do you think?


Do you have a Sasha doll? If so, I would love to see photos, please share them!

Marta xx

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Free Crochet Pattern: Ear Warmers with optional bow

I designed this pattern about 18 months ago but for some reason am only just publishing the pattern now!


The ear warmers were designed using Jenny Watson pure merino DK wool. This wool felt lovely and soft, perfect for being next to the skin! The pattern is worked up using front post and back post trebles; easy enough for a beginner to do.



The large bow is an optional extra and there are clear instructions for making the ear warmers larger and smaller.

I would like to thank my pattern testers from the Instagram community; Karen (@jumpingthroughloops) and Claire (@flowerhead2). Neither of my testers encountered any problems so I am happy to go ahead and publish. 

The pattern is available below or if you would like a pdf copy head over to my Ravelry page: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/search#sort=best&craft=crochet&query=mrsdaftspaniel. Please do not copy this pattern in any form. Also please do not sell items made following this pattern, it is for personal use only. 


Stretchy ear warmers created using the cable rib technique. A larger or smaller headband could easily be created by adding multiples of 4 chains or decreasing by multiples of 4 chains. The ear warmers could also be made without the large bow.

Materials

2 x 50g balls of Jenny Watson pure merino DK (approx 124m per 50g ball), I used “heather”
4.5 mm crochet hook
stitch marker / contrasting piece of yarn
tapestry needle for sewing in ends

Tension

16 stitches and 14 rows per 10cm²

Abbreviations (UK terms)

ch chain
ss slip stitch
tr treble
fptr front post treble (see advice)
bptr back post treble (see advice)
yrh yarn round hook
beg beginning
prev previous

Advice

The ribbed pattern is created by crocheting into the front and back posts of treble stitches instead of into the top of the stitch. Detailed descriptions of these 2 stitches are given below.

fptr yrh, insert hook from front to back of work around back of indicated stitch and back through to the front, yrh, draw round back of post indicated, (yrh draw through 2 loops) twice

bptr yrh, insert hook from back to front of work around front of indicated stitch and back through to the back, yrh, draw round front of post indicated, (yrh draw through 2 loops) twice

It may help to have a stitch marker or contrasting length of wool to mark the beginning of each round.

Pattern

Main band

Ch 76, ss into first ch to form large ring (making sure it isn’t twisted)

Round 1  ch3 (counts as 1tr), tr into each ch, ss into 3rd ch at beg. of round 1 (76 stitches)

Round 2  ch2 (counts as 1bptr), *fptr into next tr (3 times), bptr into next tr* repeat to end of round, ending with ss into 2nd ch at beg. of round 1 (76 stitches)

Rounds 3 - 10  ch2 (counts as 1bptr), *fptr into next fptr (3 times), bptr into next bptr* repeat to end of round, ending with ss into 2nd ch at beg. of prev. round (76 stitches).

Finish off, sewing in ends on reverse.

Bow

Ch 44, ss into first ch to form ring (making sure it isn’t twisted)

Round 1  ch3 (counts as 1tr), *tr into each ch* repeat to end of round, ending with ss into 3rd ch at beg. of round 1 (44 stitches)

Round 2  ch2 (counts as 1bptr), *fptr into next tr (3 times), bptr into next tr* repeat to end of round, ending with ss into 2nd ch at beg. of round 2(44 stitches)

Rounds 3 - 10  ch2 (counts as 1bptr), *fptr into next fptr (3 times), bptr into next bptr* repeat to end of round, ending with ss into 2nd ch at beg. of prev. round (44 stitches).

Finish off, leaving 20 cm to secure to main band.

Knot

Ch 22, place chain through main band, ss into first ch to form large ring circling main band (making sure it isn’t twisted)

Round 1  ch3 (counts as 1tr), tr into each ch, ss into 3rd ch at beg. of round 1 (22 stitches)

Round 2  ch2 (counts as 1fptr), *fptr into next tr* repeat to end of round, ending with ss into 2nd ch at beg. of round 1  (22 stitches)

Rounds 3 - 10  ch2 (counts as 1fptr), *fptr into next fptr* repeat to end of round, ending with ss into 2nd ch at beg. of prev. round (22 stitches).

Finish off, leaving 20 cm to secure to main band and bow.

Finishing off

Line up the beginning rounds of both main band and bow. Sew bow securely onto main band in the centre, making sure the stitches will be concealed by the knot later. Cover all ends and joins with the knot. Sew securely to the bow and the main band with 6 strong stitches on reverse only. Sew in ends on reverse.

If you do make the ear warmers, please share a photo with me, I would love to see them!

Happy hooking!

Marta xx

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Children's Colourful Cowl

Hello! My Children's Colourful cowl pattern is the first crochet pattern that I have published for sale on Ravelry, a massive online knit and crochet community. 

my youngest boy, modelling the finished cowl

I began this pattern back in the spring of this year when I was bursting with fresh creative ideas! I had chosen the 4 colours, thinking they looked good together but hadn't decided exactly what to make with them. After a little playing around, I found that this zig zag pattern worked well.

work in progress

I like to post progress photos online, especially on Instagram, because I can usually tell from feedback whether my idea is going to be successful or not. There's a lovely community feel on Instagram, I like to support fellow designers too!

the cowl from the back

The yarn I used for this project is King Cole merino DK which is available in a superb variety of colours! Since making it, I have found a lovely colour combo for a more feminine cowl; swap "sky" for "fuchsia" and swap "cranberry" for "bilburry".

the crochet curls this way naturally, no need to block!

Up until now, my crochet patterns have all been free, so is this the end of free patterns? Not at all! I will continue to develop both free patterns and patterns for sale. At the moment I am at the pattern testing stage of 2 free patterns and 1 pattern which is more complex and will be available for sale.

my young model is rather attached to the cowl!

If you are interested in buying the pattern for this cowl, you can find it here. Please share if you follow my pattern, I'd love to see how you get on!

Marta xx

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Free crochet pattern; wave pattern beanie hat

This beanie hat pattern was first published in the "free patterns" section on the Lemonadeyarns shop website. Since then, due to the fabulous increased range in the online shop (seriously, go check it out!), there is no longer room for the free pattern section. I am now able to share the pattern with you here, I hope you like it! 



This textured hat is crocheted with super chunky wool and works up really fast. It is worked in the round from the brim to the crown.

Materials

1 hank Erika Knight maxi wool (I used shade no. 32, “steve”)
10 mm crochet hook
stitch marker / contrasting piece of yarn
large needle for sewing in ends

Tension

11 stitches x 4.5 rows per 10 cm²

Abbreviations (UK terms)

ch chain
ss slip stitch
dc double crochet
dc2tog double crochet 2 stitches together
tr treble
prev. previous
beg. beginning

Advice

The wave pattern is created by crocheting 4 stitches into the dc of the previous round. It may help to have a stitch marker or contrasting length of wool to mark the beginning of each round.



Pattern

Ch 40, ss into first ch to form large ring (making sure it isn’t twisted)

Round 1  ch1, dc into each ch, ss into ch1 at beg. of round 1 (40 stitches)

Round 2  ch1, *(1dc, 3tr into dc), miss 3dc* repeat 9 times, (1dc, 3tr into ss of round 1), ss into ch1 at beg. of round 2

Rounds 3 - 6  ss into dc, ss into 1st tr, ch1, *(1dc, 3tr into next dc)* repeat 9 times, (1dc, 3tr into ss of prev. round), ss into ch1 at beg. of round

Rounds 7 - 8  ss into dc, ss into 1st tr, ch1, *(1dc, 2tr into next dc)* repeat 9 times, (1dc, 2tr into ss of prev. round), ss into ch1 at beg. of round (31 stitches)

Round 9  ss into dc, ch1, *(1dc, 1tr into dc)* repeat 9 times, (1dc, 1tr into ss of round 8), ss into ch1 at beg. of round 9 (21 stitches)

Rounds 10 ch1, dc, dc2tog to end, ss into ch1 at beg. of round 10 (16 stitches)

Round 11 ch1, dc2tog to end, ss into ch1 at beg. of round 11 (9 stitches) Leaving a long tail, weave in and out of front loops of remaining stitches, pull closed, fasten off.

Finishing off
Secure ends and weave in on reverse side.


Beanniehat.jpg

I can assure you this pattern has been thoroughly tested. I am happy to share it with you for your personal use, but please respect my original design and do not reproduce this pattern or the hat made from it for your own financial gain. Please comment below if you make a beanie hat, I would love to see your projects. Happy hooking!

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Summer Projects

Oh dear, I seem to have neglected my blog over the summer! To help ease myself back into the habit I'll start with this easy post and share a few photos of some of the items I have made over that period.



At the start of the summer I made this 'Sunday Shawl' as a retirement present for my mum.



This is the first childen's garment that I have designed and crocheted.



I made 2 pairs of Happy scrappy Wrist Warmers. This pair is still available in my Folksy shop



I upcycled a handful of curtain pole hoops into cute little brooches, this is one of them.



Not a finished piece of work but a work in progress! This is my 'Sophie's Universe' blanket.



My first ever knitting design! A knitted washcloth with crochet border, in soft linen yarn.



Finally, my latest finished item; a Happy Scrappy Crocheted Scarf. I have just listed this in my Folksy shop 

That is a quick update of what I have been up to. I hope you have enjoyed my colourful photos because colour is such a key part in my creative work! You can keep up with my crafty adventures by 'liking' my Facebook page or following me on Instagram

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Adding Colour to the Playground, Part 2

I managed to dodge the heavy showers this week and install the yarnbombs at my boys' school! I did have to run in for cover half way through and there was an extremely heavy shower of rain and hail just after I finished, good timing!

 entrance to the fairy garden

I worked quickly, hoping that I wouldn't be spotted by the children because I wanted them to find the pieces for themselves at lunch time. I sewed the crocheted rectangles around fence posts and willow tunnel branches.

 another fence post piece


 several were sewn onto the willow branches

I had to twist and turn into all sorts of funny positions to fit in the child sized willow tunnel, it was good to stretch full height afterwards!

a much longer yarnbomb

 I love the shrinkies the children coloured!

In another area of the playground I installed 3 yarnbombs with amigurumi monsters attached to them! 

monster yarnbomb 

I crocheted the monsters for fun over 5 years ago without any real purpose in mind for them. Since then they have been moved around my studio space gathering dust. I thought this project would literally breath some fresh life into them!

a happy smile

I hope the children enjoy interacting with these small pockets of colour in their playground. I know they have plans to further transform the area and I look forward to seeing what they come up with!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Adding Colour to the Playground, Part 1

I was approached by staff at my younger boys' school to add some colour by creating yarnbombs for a small area of the school playground. This project was perfect for me! Primary 1 had made shrinkies with fairy, bug and alien designs on them for me to incorporate into the work. I hope it will be fun for them to go around and find their own mini piece of art combined with something much bigger.


 1st two pieces made, surrounded by shrinkies

I made sure I chose a mix of bright colours which would appeal to both boys and girls. I had plenty of acrylic wool in my stash and the school provided me with some more - I had fun picking out colours!

different textures

I crocheted rectangles of varying sizes and created stripy patterns as a backdrop for the shrinkies. I wanted the pieces to be really eye catching and colourful!

 finished crochet swatch

Once the ends were tied in I sewed on the shrinkies (they had a hole punched through them). Now I have a pile of 8 swatches, ready to be attached to rails, benches and trees in the playground. 

all finished and ready to attach

I plan to visit the playground later this week to sew the pieces in place, depending on the weather of course!! Part 2 of this series will show the finished work ...

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Badge Bombing!!

Last Friday I took a trip to Dundee to go badge bombing for the first time! I went around the centre of Dundee and attached small badges to places for other people to come along, find them and keep them!

the finished badges, day before my trip

For a while now I have been following the adventures of @dymagate and @whimsicallush on Instagram and they both inspired me to leave something small of my own in a public place for someone else to stumble upon. I chose to make little badges with big smiley faces to brighten up someone's day.

 badge left near Dundee train station

I kept the badges simple, just button eyes and an embroidered mouth, and I hand stitched the word "Daft" on the back (my Instagram name is @mrsdaftspaniel but that was too long to stitch!). 

this one made me smile!

There were plenty of places to leave the badges, for example attached to fencing or abandoned cord and I pinned one to a yarnbombed tree!

 I like this one, blending with background colours

I had also brought a sample of weaving with me to sew onto a lamp post or something and I found the bench in the photo below to be the perfect size for it! I sat on the bench and sewed it on during lunch hour, I wonder if anyone even saw me?

and of course I did a yarnbomb!

As soon as I could I uploaded photos of my badge bombing to my Instagram and Facebook pages and was surprised to see that the badges were quickly found by people! Of the 5 badges I placed I know that 3 were found and brought a smile to those who found them, which makes it all worthwhile!

Help me!!

I am already planning my next adventure when I will set another load of badges free! Follow me on Instagram if you would like to stay updated :)



Tuesday, 10 March 2015

A little bit of this and a little bit of that!


I've been jumping about from project to project recently and thought I would share a few photos of what I have been up to on here.

I'm still making hexipuffs!


hexipuff blanket so far


my youngest son made the raccoon, I made the fox


started something completely different
 with an embroidery hoop


close up of finished hoop art, it's a present, 
can't show any more just now!


finished deep pile crocheted rug


close up of the rug showing the textured finish

I hope to be back soon with a fresh update. Happy crafting in the meantime!