Friday, 15 November 2019

CBW Advent Meditation Crochet Along 2019 - Overview

Hi everyone,

Two years ago we ran an advent meditation crochet along through our blog. We got a lot of positive feedback, and several people asked us if we would do it again. 2018 was too busy for the two of us (Michelle welcomed her first child into the world, and Anne moved country); however, in 2019 we are game again.

We love Advent, the time before Christmas, but we do know that it can be a very hectic and stressful time. So why add something to do during this time, you might ask. Well, we had the idea that because life is so hectic during these days, it is all the more important to take some time to calm down and to focus. So, the idea of the Advent Meditation was born.

For us, crochet can be like a meditation, that is, a time where you live in the moment because you focus on the task at hand and don't let your mind wander. However, when one follows a written pattern, it is very easy to get distracted (hello phone, hello family, hello housework... you get the picture). It is also easy to skip ahead, to read ahead, and thus not focus on the task at hand (in this case, the row or round you are working on). While thinking about this dilemma, Michelle had the idea of a crochet meditation podcast, that is, a pattern that can only be heard but not read.

In the meditation podcast, each pattern is read out, and one has to crochet the rows/rounds as one listens to the instructions. No worries, it is not read at super speed but at a decent crochet time (we had it tested). 

We will post the links and extra information for each meditation here on the blog, so make sure to come back by the 1st of December!

This post is not the start of the CAL; it is designed to answer frequently asked questions and to offer an overview of the overall setup.

Two small personal notes beforehand

(1)   Please note that we are offering this crochet meditation CAL for free in our spare time. We will not be able to answer your questions at any time of the day. Living in two different time zones (Australia and Europe) means that we cover a decent chunk of the days; however, we also have a life and will definitely not always be online or available even if we are awake. Furthermore, there is a chance that technical difficulties might occur (they did last time). We ask you to notify us if they do, but we also ask you to be patient with us. To be honest, people complaining in pretty mean words is not a big motivation to set these kinds of things up for free (and it has happened in the past).

(2)   We are Stylecraft Blogstars, which means that Stylecraft sent us the yarn we used for this CAL for free. We are under no obligation to say anything nice about their yarns or use their yarns. If we do so (and we do), it is because it is our own opinion. Furthermore, we will be active in the Stylecraft Make-Along Group on Facebook. Feel free to join, but it is not an obligation to do so if you want to participate in this CAL.


What will we crochet?
We will crochet a set of 4 different Christmas tree decorations. So there is a nice side effect aside from taking some time for yourself to relax: you will crochet a Christmas tree decoration set which you could give away as a Christmas present!

Will there be a written pattern or a graph?

There will be no written pattern. There will be no graph. There will be nothing which you can see. Nada. You will have to listen to create the pattern. For anything other than the basic stitches (chain, slipstitch, single crochet, double crochet, treble crochet) we will have a stitch guide in the blog post too.

How do I participate?
Every week, we will post the YouTube link in a separate post on the CBW blog.

Once you get the link, you will have to find the time to listen and crochet as you listen to the meditation.

Where can I get the file?
We don’t own/rent file storage space for the file. Last time, we tried googledrive (which maxed out after too many downloads within the first 30 minutes) and a free file sharer (which had a lot of advertisement, not all of it on topics we were comfortable with “promoting”). So this time, we will upload the file to YouTube only.

We do know that YouTube is a mild inconvenience to some of you as you cannot download the file. However, you have to understand that we don’t have the funds to rent proper file storage space as we offer this CAL for free and in our spare time.

Do I have to pay something to participate?
No! However, you have probably read/heard about the devastating bushfires in Australia this year. If you have something to give, we ask you to donate for the bushfire victims of the bushfires east of Armidale in Australia (know as the Bees Nest Fires). The donations are managed by Rotary Australia World Community Service, an organisation we trust. Plus, if you're Australian, donations over $2 are tax deductible. 

What do I need?
About 50gr of DK/8 ply yarn.

We have crocheted the patterns with cotton yarn (using Stylecraft Classique Cotton DK) and acrylic yarn (Stylecraft Stardust). Both work, but the “end product” looks a bit different. Cotton results in a bit more texture, whereas acrylic was a bit prettier in regards to the colours.

If you are in a festive mood, you might want to choose Christmas-y colours. We used Stylecraft Classique Cotton DK in Poppy, Ivory and Leaf, and Stylecraft Stardust in Holly and Poppy. The Stardust yarn sparkles!

You will also need a 4.5mm crochet hook, scissors and a yarn needle. 

How many meditation podcasts will there be?
Four. One in each week of Advent.

How long is each podcast?
Each podcast is less than 30 minutes long - Michelle can make three or four of each decoration in that time, so we are confident you will be able to make one! 

When will the meditation podcasts be published?

Each Sunday of Advent: 1 December, 8 December, 15 December and 22 December

Will there be pictures of the decorations available beforehand?

No. We want you to focus on the process and not to think ahead what might come next. We fear that a picture might be a distraction. We will probably publish pictures one or two days after the podcast episode was released. 

Can I post pictures of my finished items?

Of course! In fact, please do - we looovvee to see what you made with our patterns. If you're on Instagram or Facebook, please use the hashtag #cbwadvent, so we can find your pictures easily.

Furthermore, we will be active in the Stylecraft Make-Along group. We do, however, ask you to post your pictures in the assigned post only (it will have SPOILER in the text), so that others are not “spoilered” by your pictures. 

Are the patterns hard to follow?

No, at least we don't think so. They are suitable for intermediate beginners, but not for total beginners. That is, you need to know how to crochet specific stitches and be able to crochet at a steady pace. Don't forget you can always pause the podcast to catch up, or rewind and listen again. We will also post a list of the stitches used beforehand and we will include links to tutorials, so you can check them out beforehand.

For those of you who participated in 2017, please note that the patterns are a bit more difficult than last time.

If you want to want to work on slightly easier patterns, you can also check out the 2017 meditation as well.

Which crochet terms will you use?

U.S. crochet terms. 

What if I find a mistake in the pattern?

Please contact us right away, so we can start an errata list. We try very, very hard not to have any mistakes in the pattern, but oh well, it might happen – we are only humans after all. 

Monday, 23 September 2019

A Prayer-ish Blanket

Hi everyone!

I've been working on super secret projects recently - terrible for blogging and instagram! But I can share one of them with you today :) 

What do you call the agnostic version of a prayer blanket? 

A friend of mine has recently been diagnosed with cancer. I know that cancer is never expected, but this one has been particularly aggressive and particularly fast-moving in someone too young and healthy. The news hit and I felt what I think everyone around feels in this situation - what on earth can I do? 

Anne sadly has some experience in this area so I asked her - what is the most helpful thing that I could do to make my friend feel supported and loved through the horribleness that is cancer treatment? She said, make him a blanket to keep warm during radiotherapy sessions. It needed to be soft and machine washable. 

I had less than a week before we were going on holidays for two weeks, so with a smoking hook I tore through my Special DK stash for the brightest colours, and used this Ocean Breeze pattern and a 5mm hook for speed and texture! 24 squares made the perfect sized blanket, and it will be useful once he's better as a throw for the couch, or a single bed blanket. Fortunately Allie spent a weekend with her grandmother which gave me some extra assistance-free hours to watch movies and crochet as fast as humanly possible. 

Inspired by fellow Stylecraft Blogstar Polly Plum's Arabella CAL  I used Stylecraft Wondersoft Merrygoround in Rainbow and a continuous sc join in the back loops to put the squares together! It saved so many ends - I can never go back to the old crosshatch style of joining square blankets again! A border in the same Rainbow yarn finished it off beautifully. 

To get the same number of stitches on each side, the "squares" ended up more rectangular which meant that when they came together it wasn't very square! I did decide that the wavy lines were more of a design feature than a flaw though - what do you think? 

My mum, amazing as she is, whipped up a super quick drawstring bag for the blanket to be kept in, for schlepping back and forth to the hospital every day. 

Good luck friend - may you be warm and cured <3 

Saturday, 3 August 2019

BAWJ 2019 - Weeks 21-25!

Hi everyone!

I'm back! Kiah has had the rosters from hell, work has been extremely busy with outbound interviews, negotiations with people overseas and finalising the inbound paperwork, and Allie has changed her naptimes so there's been yet another adjustment period. I've still been crocheting a bit, written up my new sweater/cardigan pattern (that'll come out a bit later in the year, when it's less hot in the Northern Hemisphere!) and, well, the BAWJ2019 fell a little behind. 

But! Now I am caught up with the BAWJ2019! As I have (gulp) 10 squares to report on, I'll do 5 today and 5 next week :) 

If you want to join in on BAWJ2019, check out Julie's Facebookgroupblog and Ravelry Board for more information.



Yarn colours: Iron, Cream, Rose 

The colour possibilities with this block were pretty much endless - I did like using the Batik Elements for the central flower. Plus, a square with the same name as my home town! 

The method for squaring up the circle looks very different and effective, but I can't for the life of me make it sit flat. Hopefully the peer pressure of being in a blanket will smooth things out. 

It's almost square, just bulging a bit at the sides from the central circle. 



Yarn colours: Mercury, Cream, Coral, Old Gold, Lupin

I loooove the centre circle of this square! It looks so cool, and is centred neatly on the rest of the square rather than being wonky! It did end up a bit looser than the outer rows though, so isn't quite flat.

However, something about the squaring up rows made the square twist a little bit, so it doesn't look very... square, by itself. That's ok though, being in a blanket will beat it into shape ;) 



Yarn colours: Teal, Lupin, Cream

The textures of this square were lovely - not overdone, but just enough to give it some more interest. The centre circle does look like a compass! 

The squaring up didn't come up quite straight, but not in a way that bothered me. At least the final square is relatively square! 



Yarn colours: Olive, Raspberry, Cream

Lacy and textured? Sign me up! The additional "ruffle" around the centre square was fun to work and looks very effective :) 

A well-written square (and doing a multi-designer CAL reeeeally emphasises how good well-written squares are!).



Yarn colours: Graphite, Pistachio, Cherry 

I'm not sold on the name for this one - 12 "berrieds" around the middle does not make berrylicious! The tensions were all off for this one, I had to force it into a square to be able to take a picture at all. I'm not sure if I needed to change hooks for the v-stitch section. 

The square also developed a noticeable twist as I went along, which as you will know by now is not my favourite. Overall, it was ok to work but not my favourite. 

PHEW. Coming next week: Squares 26-30! And I will try and keep up more regularly from now on for my sanity as well as yours! 

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Tutorial: Fold A Star Blanket

Hello hello!

A couple of weeks ago, I finished a star blanket for a newborn baby girl for good friends of ours and complained to my husband that I never know how to fold these blankets. They always look oddly shaped when folded, are impossible to gift wrap, and so on. Well, my husband took one look at the blanket and was like "uh, yes, of course, you could fold it", took the blanket andddd folded it perfectly. Right. I was baffled and posted a picture on Instagram. It looks like I am not the only one struggling with folding star blankets, and I was asked to ask my husband to show the world how he folds star blankets...

So, I present the "fold your star blanket tutorial" :). The pattern I used for the blanket is from Celeste Young and the yarn is Life DK and Life Changes DK from Stylecraft. 

I would love to see your folded blankets! Can you tag us on instagram or use the hashtag #crochetbetweenworlds? That would be awesome!!

If something is unclear, please let me know, and I will try to describe it in other words. 

Take care, 

Tutorial: Fold A Star Blanket

Step 1

Lay it out with the wrong side facing up.

Step 2

Fold in the first side. I use the corners (the dips) as guidelines. With larger blankets, you might to fold it over a bit further though. 

Step 3

Fold in the second side. If your blanket is bigger than mine, the sides will overlap more and you might need to fold the side in a bit further.

Step 4

Fold in the upper half. If your blanket is bigger, you might need to fold it in a bit further.

Step 5

Fold in the lower half. If your blanket is bigger, you might need to fold it in a bit further.

Step 6

Fold the lower half in again to the middle and turn it over! :)

The Video

It might sound more complicated than it actually is. In fact, it is super easy... So, we made a short video - it doesn't have the highest quality (we filmed it in the middle of our move and were rather short on time) but I hope you get the idea anyway. :)

Saturday, 25 May 2019

BAWJ2019 - Weeks 18, 19 and 20!

Hey everyone,

Aargh! Time is running away from me at an alarming rate - I feel like I'm barely keeping up. We had all the family in town for Allie's first  birthday (!!) last weekend and it's going to take me a bit longer to recover from all the excitement and cooking. 

Allie got her own little chocolate cake to munch and mash - as you can see, she had a LOT of fun (and needed a bath directly afterwards!).

I still haven't convinced the little flea to stand still long enough to model cardigans for me, plus we are having a weird resurgence of summer at the moment and everyone is back in tshirts! Climate change is so weird and annoying, I want winter and snuggly blankets and hot tea! 

I have managed to squeeze a bit of crochet in here and there, mostly getting up to date with the BAWJ. Without further ado, here's my take on Weeks 18, 19 and 20!

If you want to join in on BAWJ2019, check out Julie's Facebookgroupblog and Ravelry Board for more information.



Yarn colours: All of them (mini balls and scraps from the bottom of the box...)

Ugh I love Polly Plum designs. She makes art with yarn, and writes so clearly that making her afghan squares is almost effortless. Plus, she is an all round excellent person and one of our fellow Stylecraft Blogstars!

This one is another masterpiece, with a square that ends up both solid and lacy, somehow. It is almost identical front and back (which is great in an afghan) and all in all was a pleasure to crochet!  



Yarn colours: Coral, Silver, Krypton

Again, this square was a lot of fun to crochet. Working longer stitches into the row below, playing with back post stitches, and having the variety of a square design (most of these squares start as circles)... 

However, as you can see it came out quite wonky - it must need some hefty blocking. I'll ignore that for the moment and see if peer pressure will do the job for me in the finished blanket, but I remain slightly dubious for now. Plus, it is quite on the large size. Maybe I'll have one blanket for enormous squares and one for less enormous ones?



Yarn colours: Raspberry, Teal, Phosphorus 

Two new stitches to learn in this square - the bead stitch and the folding sc/hdc/dc. Bead stitch seems to be a neater and less tedious version of the bullion stitch. The folding sc/hdc/dc makes a really cool loopy texture! See the little tunnel of teal stitches? 

I have heard a lot about Ineke's patterns but hadn't had the chance to make one yet - this one is making me very curious to find out more :D 

Phew, that's another three weeks done! I have three new patterns off with testers at the moment, maybe one day I'll get around to writing them up properly and publishing... how soon does Allie start daycare? 

What are you working on at the moment? Link me to your blog or facebook or insta! 

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

BAWJ2019 - Weeks 15, 16 and 17!

Hi everyone!

It's been a rollercoaster couple of weeks here at Casa del Westlund - we had a week's holiday at Lake Macquarie over Easter, I've been crocheting up a storm of cardigans for Allie since it seems like we might actually have winter this year (yay!) and she has decided all of a sudden that three naps in a day is for chumps, and breastfeeding is super slow and irritating and could we please just already have bottles!? Argh! 

Before we get to the BAWJ squares from the last few weeks, here's a photo of Allie's favourite holiday activity: DUCKS.

Ducks go KAK KAK KAK, and you feed them and pat them and even crunch on a bit of their seed. Now all birds are greeted with KAK KAK KAK, duck or not 😂

I'll tell you all about the cardigan collection next week hopefully - it depends when Allie feels like stretching her modelling and cooperation muscles. Cross your fingers for me! She is a very determined and independent little miss. 

On to the BAWJ2019! All three of these squares were very well written patterns!

If you want to join in on BAWJ2019, check out Julie's Facebookgroupblog and Ravelry Board for more information.



Yarn colours: Pistachio, Coral, Silver, Graphite

It was interesting starting with a five pointed star in the middle - I'm not a huge fan of how wonky the circle is to get it back to a square, but the central flower is just so cute.

I also got to learn how to do a different kind of surface crochet! The wibbliness appeals to me :P 



Yarn colours: Pistachio, Heather, Raspberry, Sage and Bismuth 

So much texture! I learned a new stitch, and was very grateful that there were photos of each round as after a bit I found the pattern very wordy and somewhat challenging to keep track of where I was up to. 

So bumpy and petally and deliciously squishy. A cushion cover in this stitch would be so lovely. 

Even the back looks really cool, with the spiked trebles down behind the petals!



Yarn colours: Iron, Cream

You might recall - I've made this square before! It was Julie Yeager's Mystery CAL Afghan Square from 2015, which I made in rainbow colours of Special DK. It was fun to follow Julie's lead and make this version in only two colours - Iron Elements and Cream. 

Again, doesn't it have lovely texture? Those front post stitches... 

Phew, that brings me all up to date! Back soon with cardigan photos.. oh, here's a sneak peek ;) Don't forget to cross your fingers that we can get her to hold still for photos!