Sunday 28 September 2014

Sneak Peek: New Corner to Corner Blanket

Hello and happy Sunday!

How is your Sunday so far? Mine has been pretty relaxing and (of course) involved crochet. Some posts ago I mentioned that I am working on a new blanket for my grandmother (christmas presents). I am getting along well and am only 14 rows away from decreasing. 

Some of you asked to have a sneak peek, so here it is! 

Pattern is the corner to corner throw from Red Heart. Not sure how big it will turn out in the end... But pretty big that's for sure. Enough to be used as a blanket when my granny falls asleep on her couch chair!

Yarn is Stylecraft Special DK in pomegranate and cream. Oh, how much I love the pomegranate! Makes me drool with happiness...

I hope I can finish the blanket within the next two weeks... What are you working on at the moment?

Saturday 27 September 2014

A Saturday in Oldenburg

Oldenburg ...

I lived in Oldenburg between 2004 and 2013 (with a year break in Sydney/Australia in 2008/2009). I got two of my uni degrees from the uni there and also undertook my teacher-training in the area. Over the years I lived in three different flats and saw the city grow from a sleepy students town to a rich (sometimes snobby), booming town. Altogether I loved Oldenburg even though it was a bit too small for me in the end. I longed to live in a bigger town again (return from Sydney to Oldenburg was a bit of a shock).

As you might know we moved to Dortmund last year (and love it here). Last weekend we drove up north to visit my parents, my grandparents and some friends. We ended up spending half a day in Oldenburg. The weather was lovely and thus we had a good stroll through the city. Some things changed, some things didn't. I thought I would become homesick but it didn't happen. I had a good time living in Oldenburg but now Dortmund is home! :-)

We had coffee and cakes in a lovely café and I even managed to do some crochet (testing Michelle's new pattern).

The weather was great, so we could walk through the town and marvel at the great old buildings.

We also visited my granny the next day and I finally got a picture of the wreath I made for her birthday! :-)

Thursday 25 September 2014

Round and round in circles - Mandala time!

I've been a little bit naughty today - supposed to be working on the order list, and hunting down kitchen equipment for the new house at the lake, testing a pattern for a friend... but instead all I wanted to do is play with my new cotton supplies that arrived yesterday! 

It's Red Heart Miami, 4 ply 100% cotton, from Such vibrant colours and reasonable prices! 

This colourful cotton is to make pretty and useful coasters and heat mats for the house my parents are building at Lake Macquarie. My mission sent me hunting for good coaster patterns that show off the lovely colours, while also being the right size and shape. It took me ages to find one that I actually liked, and when I tried the pattern, I just couldn't get it to look neat :( 

But then... hunting through Zooty Owl's blog for other things, I saw some of the amazing mandalas she has designed. I haven't really been interested in mandalas before - I like the things I make to be practical, useful or good to cuddle, and the contexts I had seen mandalas in before was as art or just being beautiful. Mandalas are round though - could they make good coasters and heat mats? 

Absolutely!! Above is Zooty Owl's Sunny Flower Mini Mandala in two sizes - 10.5cm for coasters, and 21cm for heat mats. The coasters are made with a 1.5mm hook and one strand of the cotton yarn, and the heat mats are made with a 3.5mm hook and two strands of the yarn. I also washed and blocked the heat mat to make it sit nice and even :) 

Sadly, as you can see in the photo above, the orange dye ran a little bit being washed and ironed. I am a bit reluctant to wash the pink yarn now. Any ideas on how to stop the colour running in the finished piece?

I'm really looking forward to making a whole stack of the little coasters and some more heat mats in this pattern. Plus, I discovered Zooty Owl has a table runner pattern using the same mandala! House decoration solved :D 

Have you ever tried making mandalas? What have you used them for? 

Sunday 21 September 2014

Captain Poprocks Helps Days for Girls

Recently my mother and sister came across the charity Days for Girls, an international organisation who provides women around the world with washable sanitary pad kits.  

From their website:
"What if not having sanitary supplies meant DAYS without school, DAYS without income, DAYS without leaving the house? Girls use leaves, mattress stuffing, newspaper, corn husks, rocks, anything they can find...but still miss up to 2 months of school every year. It turns out this issue is a surprising but instrumental key to social change for women all over the world. The poverty cycle can be broken when girls stay in school."
I can't even imagine not having access to safe, reliable sanitary supplies, for something that happens every month! 

Over the last few months, we have been working on sewing the components of the kits - shields (which look like normal panty liners with wings, and have a waterproof layer in them), liners (flannelette squares to be folded and inserted into the shields for absorption), and drawstring bags for the whole kit to go into. We have also been buying and collecting underpants, face washers and hotel soaps for the kits. Here is a pinboard showing what goes into each kit. 

Yesterday we had a working bee with 20 wonderful volunteers to make a mountain of liners for the sanitary kits. We finished over 600 liners start to finish, as well as completing 100 liners that were already partway through the pipeline, and have another 500 started. 

Of course, Captain Poprocks came to lend a hand, and had a very interesting afternoon... 

...hiding under piles of flannelette... 

...learning how to use the overlocker and the sewing machine...

...and crowing over the stacks of finished liners! 

It was an incredibly successful working bee, and we are so very grateful to the wonderful volunteers who came with donations of underpants and time :) 

If you are interested in finding out more about Days for Girls or making a donation of money or materials, visit their website or send me a message! 

There will be a special Global Sew-a-thon on 11 October 2014 to celebrate the International Day of the Girl.  We are still working out what we might be able to do to celebrate this occasion and help this wonderful charity even more! 

Wednesday 17 September 2014

I lovve Baby Blankets!

Hello all!

I love to crochet baby blankets. Why? Well, there are several reasons:

1. They are quicker to finish than a full adult sized blanket.
2. There are so many different patterns to use. Baby blankets are perfect for trying out new stitches.
 3. I adore giving these blankets to newborn babies. So much more personal than bought gifts!
4. They are small enough to take with you when you are traveling/on the road.
5. Did I mention they are a lot of fun to make?!

Over the last years I made several blankets and gave them to newborns. One blanket even went to the son of my friend Afifa in Australia. Glad it got through customs without problems. :-)

The last 12 months have been full of new babies! I didn't take pictures of all the blankets (oh no!) but the following two will go to new homes soon. One to a little girl and one to a little boy. Hope they like it! They both took a long time (so 1. doesn't really apply here) because the yarn was very thin. It is baby yarn and so cuddly! Unfortunately, thin yarn seems to hurt my elbow, so I wasn't as quick with these blankets as I intended to be. I wonder if I hold the yarn differently or if I use a different tension, because I don't seem to have problems with thicker yarn.

Both of the blankets use the corner to corner pattern. Both are very light and therefore good for a snuggle underneath. The peppermint coloured one has a white stripe too by the way.

Sometime late last year, I was really fond of this pattern from Modern Grace Design. I made some blankets with it but most went to new homes already. 

I also made some with a rather easy but fancy looking stitch pattern. Unfortunately I can't remember where I found it. If you recognize the pattern, please comment, so that I can add the name of the designer!

Right now, I am done with baby blankets... I am now working on a large one as a Christmas present for my granny. 

What are you working on at the moment?

Take care

Sunday 14 September 2014

Upcycled Yarn - Workbaskets

Today I finally got my paws on some larger size hooks to work with the tshirt yarn that I won :D 

They are just a tad bigger than what I'm used to working with... 

For scale, my 1.5mm hook that I use for animals is at the top; the 12mm hooks are the grey and blue ones in the middle...

Using the Chunky Crocheted Basket pattern from Crochet in Color, I made myself two work baskets - one big and one small - that I can keep things tidy around my chair, and also easily take with me if I need a project to go on the road (or visit others!). 

The blue one is about 11" diameter and 10" tall. It is the perfect size for my collection of candy yarn for animal making - it fits the 10 balls quite comfortably, with room for a little bag of pieces and the hook! 

The pink one is about 8" diameter and 6" tall :) It fits two balls of Fayette (enough to make a Road Trip Scarf). 

I did make a few little changes to the Crochet in Color pattern - I made the last row crab stitch (or reverse double crochet) instead of a plain double crochet row, and added a button under one handle so I can close the basket a bit for carrying :) 

I love them! And my workspace is already looking tidier :P 

One last shot with extra drama: I accidentally had a filter on and didn't notice...

Friday 12 September 2014

We're all about length here...

My Opa Slippers (pattern from Mamachee) have been a raging success recently - warm, comfy and snuggly, just like a second pair of socks :) 

However, we have been having some difficulty getting them sized correctly! The pattern sizes are based on the length of the foot, and measuring your foot length correctly is everything.

Here's a little infographic about how to get an accurate foot measurement:

Measuring your foot length this way means that the slippers can be accurately sized, and therefore fit you much better :) 

Tuesday 9 September 2014

Tutorial: Foundation Half Double Crochet Stitch

In the last week I have been dipping my toes in the exciting world of crochet pattern design! There will be more news about that in the future :) 

While creating this pattern, I wanted to start it with a foundation half double crochet stitch (half treble for UK readers). This way of starting a project is almost magic - no acre-long chains, no fiddly trying to crochet into chains... perfect for me!  

But I just couldn't do it! I watched videos on youtube, looked at photo tutorials, read descriptions... and it still took me about 2 hours to get a row of it done correctly! I can only assume that there are others in the same boat as me, so here is my first ever crochet stitch photo tutorial!



1. With your hook and yarn, start with a slip knot.

2. Do 3 chain stitch. 

3. Now, look carefully at your first chain stitch (3rd from your hook). There are three threads - the "chain loops" and the "third loop" - I've marked them on this photo for you. You need to yarn over hook, then insert your hook from front to back through the "chain loops".

4. Yarn over hook, and pull it back to the front - now you have three loops on your hook. 

5. Now the magic begins! Yarn over hook, and bring it through ONLY THE FIRST LOOP, like the photo below. This creates the chains to mimic a foundation chain starting row. 

6. The next step is to make the half double crochet stitch - yarn over hook again, and pull through ALL THREE LOOPS. Tada! You've made your first foundation hdc stitch! 

7. This is the part where I was coming undone in other tutorials - where do you put your hook through to start the next stitch? Well, here you go! If you turn the work over so you are looking at the underneath (the "chain" part), you'll see a group of loops. I've labelled with blue arrows which are the "chain loops" that you need to stick your hook through.

Yarn over hook, put your hook through those loops from front to back.

Now yarn over hook, and pull through the "chain loops". You'll have three loops on your hook again.  

8. Just like the first time, yarn over hook and pull through the FIRST LOOP only, to create the "chain" section of the stitch.   

9. Then, yarn over hook and pull through all three loops to create foundation hdc #2!

10. Turn you work over again to look at the "chain" side of things. See the next two chain loops that you need to put your hook through to start the next stitch? I've labelled them with blue arrows below :) They look a little twisted - that is ok, it's because I twisted the hook to get a better photo! In the second photo, you can see that the loops aren't actually twisted at all ;)

When you are looking for the next chain loops, make sure you don't pick up the "third loop" by accident! I've spread the threads out a bit and labelled them below. If you start using the "third loop", your chain side will look a bit strange!

Once you've got the hang of it, continue on in the same way: 


STEP 1:  Yarn over hook, insert hook front to back through chain loops of last stitch, yarn over hook, pull back through chain loops (3 loops on hook). 

STEP 2:  Yarn over hook, pull through 1 loop ("chain") (3 loops on hook). 

STEP 3: Yarn over hook, pull through 3 loops ("hdc"). 

Saturday 6 September 2014

Connected through Crochet


This post is long overdue... I wanted to make it perfect and put it to the next day all the time. Well, now you have to read my unperfect blog post about a perfect meeting!

As you know, I was on holidays in Canada for three weeks this summer. Just before I left, I posted about my house slippers which I was going to take to Canada with me (they were absolutely perfect for the hostels btw) and asked if anyone from the Vancouver area would like to meet for coffee/tea. And guess what! Darrah from the ButtonBuffalo does actually live close to Vancouver and agreed to meet with me!

Man, I was so nervous to meet her and her husband! After all... Would we like each other? Would we have something to talk about? And so on. I shouldn't have worried! It was as if we knew each other forever and time passed by in a second!

We met at Thierry, a chocolate café close to my hostel. They have amazing chocolate cakes - if you live anywhere around there, I recommend you give it a try! We talked for over two hours about everything and nothing really! Darrah is an amazing American who moved to Canada some years ago. To tell the truth - I envy her a lot for being able to live in the Vancouver area! My fingers are crossed that she will get her permanent visa soon! Did you hear anything new about that yet Darrah?

Darrah gave me this really beautiful little bird! It traveled with us for the rest of the journey and now lives in our flat in Germany! Isn't he cute (I reckon he is a boy... not sure about the name yet. Any ideas?)? What a thoughtful gift which will always remind me about our wonderful meeting! I can't wait to meet Darrah and her family again!

 When I started this blog almost a year ago, I didn't know how much it would help me to connect with people all over the world! I met so many great people through our and other blogs already whom I wouldn't want to miss! I adore reading their blogs and therefore becoming a part of their life, just as they become part of mine through the comments they leave for Michelle and me. THANK YOU!

I have noticed that we have some new followers on Bloglovin and here on blogger! Wow! I always squeal with excitement when there is a new follower! Thanks a lot for becoming part of our little world!

Take care