Wednesday, 28 September 2016

New Project: Colour Planning Made Easy!

Hi everyone! 

The busy time is starting to finally tail off around here - I ended up leaving the Law Society job because it was too much for the fatigue monster to manage, then got a sizeable crochet order finished, and now the Carousel CAL has settled into a nice sedate rhythm (can't wait until we get to play with pentagons next week!). 

So, I've had a bit of a chance to pull out some long-considered ideas about how to make things easier for myself to plan out colours for crochet project. 

How many of us have done this before to work out a rainbow, or grades of colour for a project?



It's messy, takes up a lot of space, and gets yarn ends all tangled up (or at least it does for me). I've seen Lucy's gorgeous peg system, and a few other similar ideas (yarn wrapped on embroidery thread cards, paddlepop sticks, etc etc) but I don't think those would suit me. I need really secure, solid colour samples, that pack up really small and light, and to avoid using my terrible handwriting on anything! 

I do have the Stylecraft Special DK shade card (now somewhat out of date)...



...but it's not great for seeing how different colours look together. 

The solution? Two inch, two-row solid granny squares in each colour, with the colour name and number stapled on the back! I started with the new Stylecraft Batik range to see if it would work (only 16 colours at the moment).



Ta-dah! The staples are really secure, but barely show on the front of the square. I made a little chain string for them out of scrap yarn and a button, and now they are hanging on one of my drawer handles, ready to pick colours! 



Next stop: the Special DK, which currently has 74 colours (gulp).


In anticipation of getting around to doing this, I've been making a solid granny square out of each colour as I pick them up to work something. There's... 30 so far. A long way to go, but once it's done it should be far far easier to choose colours for a project! My husband is tracking down a large hinged plastic or metal ring that I can string the squares onto, so it's easier to just open the ring at the colour you want rather than having to pull them all off. 


Now, I am spoiled by mostly working in my fave Stylecraft yarns, but if you have a range of brands in your stash, you could mix up all the colours of the same weight (just add the brand and "model" to the paper tag) and put them all on one ring! 

Do you have a colour sample collection like this? Would it be useful to your project planning? 

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Carousel CAL - Part Two

The last week has gone so slowly, but Tuesday is finally here again!! 

Part Two of the Carousel Crochet-Along, designed by Sue Pinner and hosted by Stylecraft Yarns has just been posted, and is available to download NOW from the Stylecraft website, in English (US and UK), German and Dutch.


If you haven't set up a Ravelry project yet, the pattern page can be found here: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/carousel-cal  

We are working the CAL along with you all (Anne in the new Batik yarn, and Michelle in Special DK, and will post our tips and tricks for each part at the same time as the pattern is published over at the Stylecraft website. Anne is on holidays this week, so we will catch up with her Batik Part Two next time :) 

Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments or on our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/crochetbetweenworlds/) - we are here to help you. Anne is doing the German translations for the CAL again, so ask away in German too!

Part Two, the Red & Cream Banding:


Our top tips for the Red & Cream Banding are:

1. Use foundation stitches to start each panel instead of chains! It is then a bit more chunky down the bottom to join, but I find it so much easier to work.

Here's our picture tutorial for the foundation hdc: 
http://crochetbetweentwoworlds.blogspot.com.au/2014/09/tutorial-foundation-half-double-crochet.html 

The only difference for a foundation dc is rather than pulling through all three loops at the end of the stitch, you pull through the first two and then the second two (like a normal dc stitch).



2. Instead of chains at the start of each row, try the stacked standing dc! This also makes the panels easier to join at the end ;) 

Stacked Standing dc: sc into target stitch. Insert hook under two leftmost strands of sc, yarn over hook to do a second sc.



3. If you're like me and can't mentally deal with instructions like "evenly join" or "freeform", here's a cheat way to make sure all your panel joins are neat and even:

2sc in the side of each stacked standing dc (there are conveniently two top v's up the side of a stacked standing dc) + 1sc in the side of each normal dc, plus an extra sc at the bottom (for the straight sides) or top (for the increase sides) = 25sc! 


Plus, if you're using standing stitches to start, do NOT replace the chain join at the beginning of the join row with an sc - it looks wonky and messes up the stitch counts. Just slst join to the very bottom of the first panel and slst in the very bottom of the second panel to begin.

If you're totally cool with making it work free form every time, I take my hat off to you! 

4. When you're weaving your ends in, do it in and around the tops of the stitches on the front. Because the stitching is zig-zagging back and forth along the join, just catching the yarn ends in the same stitching on the back will be visible. See in the photo below, you can't even really see where the ends are stitched in on the front (well you sort of can, but it's less obvious than a gold thread running along between red and cream)! 



We hope these tips help you! 

Check back here in two weeks on Tuesday 4 October for Part Three - the Pentagons :) 

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Carousel CAL - Part One

It's CAL time again!!! 

Part One of the Carousel Crochet-Along, designed by Sue Pinner and hosted by Stylecraft Yarns has just been posted, and is available to download NOW from the Stylecraft website, in English (US and UK), German and Dutch.



If you haven't set up a Ravelry project yet, the pattern page can be found here: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/carousel-cal  

We are working the CAL along with you all (Anne in the new Batik yarn, and Michelle in Special DK, and will post our tips and tricks for each part at the same time as the pattern is published over at the Stylecraft website. 

Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments or on our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/crochetbetweenworlds/) - we are here to help you. Anne is doing the German translations for the CAL again, so ask away in German too!

Part One, the Centre Motif:

Batik (Anne)

Special DK (Michelle)
Our top tips for the Centre Motif are:

1. At the beginning, do your 10 finger wraps around your pinky finger! This will keep the hole in the middle not too big. It might take a little bit of practice! 


It's also quite difficult to shuffle your stitches around this chunky magic circle, so try and crochet the 16 stitches evenly around your circle. The effect is great though!

2. Try using standing stitches! They look much nicer than starting each round with chain stitches, and are easier to join into at the end of the round :)

Standing sc (US) or dc (UK) tutorial by Mrs Micawber


Standing dc (US) or tr (UK) tutorial by Moogly


Stacked Standing DC (US) / tr (UK) 
(this one is for when you're continuing with the same colour in the next Round - the others only work with new yarn)

sc into target stitch. Insert hook under two leftmost strands of sc, yarn over hook to do a second sc.



3. The neatest way I could find to close the Popcorns in Round 3 was to do the slip stitch into this loop of the first dc (picture is facing the back of the round):



This is what worked for me - you might have done it a different way :) There's no rules as long as it comes out looking nice!

4. Row 3 will look a bit wibbly when you finish it, and that's ok. The waviness will sort itself out in the next few rounds! 


5. If you're using standing stitches, you'll need to get your yarn across to the next ch5 space in Round 7. After finishing Round 6, I did (ch1, slst in next sp, ch1) and then proceeded to a stacked standing dc to replace the ch2 up to start Round 7. 


We hope these tips help you! 

Check back here next Tuesday 20 September for Part Two :) 

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Blocking Adventures

Hi all!

2016 seems to be the year of the baby blankets! So many pregnant friends :) None of the little ones have been born yet but I sure can't wait to meet them (so far its 1 girl, 2 boys and 1 surprise). 


I finished another blanket last week and for the first time I blocked a blanket. My, what an adventure! I finally bit the bullet and bought blocking mats or rather play puzzles mats. There was a decently priced offer on eBay and I got two sets as one would have been too small for blankets. 


Blocking the blanket turned out to be a bit more tricky than I thought it would be. Well, I learnt from this experience I guess. 


There was no wash beforehand, instead I damped the blanket with spray water. It might have been easier to get the blanket into the right position if it had been wet. As you can see, I didn't quite manage neat sides but i guess it looks alright.

I had no proper blocking pins and used tiny fixing pins instead. Quite a few made acquaintance with my fingers before meeting their desired place... Does any of you know a good place to buy blocking pins from?! My fingers would love you forever...


By now I know one should start from the middle... I didn't. Ooppss. It seemed so much easier to do one side first and than the others. Lesson learnt. 



Oh well, next time... :P

The blanket was crocheted with the blanket stitch, the border is a simply linen stitch. The yarn is Stylecraft Life DK in 6 different colors (I can look the names up if anyone is interested but I don't have them at hand at the moment).

Have you tried blocking blankets yet? If so, what were your experiences???

Take care
Anne 

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Ta-dah! The Lotus Moon Tiles Afghan

Hi everyone! 

Today is going to be mostly pictures... because I've finished the Lotus Moon Tiles Afghan by Polly Plum! Made using all Stylecraft Special DK (as a stashbuster), it has 24 lotus flowers, and finished up at 100 x 150cm. All the yarn colours are over on my Ravelry project page.


The pattern was so well written and introduced me to more new stitches and techniques. It's made up of octagons...


... squares...



... and triangles.


Kiah and I took it down to the riverside this afternoon to take some pretty pictures! And, well... I think the pictures speak for themselves <3 I love sunset for crochet photos!







Such a glorious bundle of rainbows! 


Monday, 22 August 2016

Catching Up on a Rainy Monday Afternoon

Hi everyone! 

It has been literally weeks (if not months) since I have blogged about something not CAL or Captain Poprocks related... everything jut got crazy busy all at once! 

I've started a new job at the Law Society, assisting with their Thought Leadership project. Plus, June to August is also the busiest time for youth exchange, as we are interviewing and finding overseas placements for our outbound students who will leave in January, as well as receiving and training the inbound students who arrive in July. 

Our Days for Girls project has also exploded (in a good way!) in the last few months - everyone wants to get involved! We have just sent 100 kits to Papua New Guinea with the Rotary Club of Umina, 100 kits will be going to East Timor in a few weeks time, and the next job is 200 kits for Cambodia in September (which is terrifyingly close...)


Our kits in PNG!
Our major fundraiser for Days for Girls is coming up on 24 September - we are putting on a High Tea, with delicious sandwiches, sumptuous hot morsels, and gloriously decadent sweet treats to enjoy, along with as many cups of tea and coffee as our guests can manage, AND an opera singer!! If you live somewhere around Sydney and would like to come along, here's the invitation! 



Just about everything is locked down now, so in the last week I've had a bit more time to do crochet... finally! (a bit like this post really) My crochet life is full of WIPs at the moment, and not nearly enough finished things.

I love this little cutie patootie - and just need to sew on her ears and weave the ends in on the blanket and she can go off to her new owner! The Heidi Bears animals are definitely among my favourite things to make. This pattern is Nellie the Elephant, and you can get it on Ravelry here.


I have an order for 5 (yes five!) mini kangaroos and joeys coming up! They are very cute, but a bit hard on the hands to make with 4 ply yarn and a 2.25mm hook. I've made all the parts for two more kangaroos and they just need stuffing and sewing. One set has been requested in "Tiffany Blue", so with any luck I'll be able to steal a bit of my mum's time in the next few weeks to do some yarn dyeing! 

While I finish off some other things, the joeys are having some well-supervised childcare at the Kangaroo Creche with my candy animals (and a rogue Yoshi). 


My Tie-Back Tunic is coming along! The back panel is done, the front is underway (although I am having a disagreement with the pattern) and one of the waist ties is complete. I absolutely adore the yarn - Cascade Heritage Solid in Wine, and Cascade Heritage Hand-Painted in Roses (75% Merino Wool, 25% Nylon). 


Plus the texture is just so nice (and the colour is more accurate in the photo below)...


Finally, because I don't have enough things to do already, I've started Polly Plum's Lotus Moon Tile CAL, using up my Stylecraft Special DK stash. The flowers are so beautiful, and the pattern so well written! 


And my trusty Zig Zag Project Tote has been called into service again! Lucky I didn't line it - the bag really needs to stretch a bit to squish all that yarn in it..


Phwoar, writing it all down makes me realise how much I'm doing. It's only 3 weeks until the Carousel CAL starts - do you think I'll get most of this done by then?? 

I better hop off the computer and get hooking!!!