Friday, 22 March 2019

Woohoo! The finished Hydrangea Stripe Blanket

Hi everyone!

Phew, it has been a long time since I wrote my last blog post. I thought about it a lot, but in the end, my day didn't have enough hours.

Recently, we went to Denmark for a week and I finally (!!) finished my Hydrangea Stripe Blanket! Phew. The project took far too long for my liking and some point it wasn't a lot of fun anymore. I guess, I am not cut out for projects which take very long.



Now that the blanket is finished, I love it. It is soft and lush. I really hope, the recipient will like it too. It is a gift for a dear friend of mine who turned 60 last December. I wanted to finish the blanket in time for her birthday, but eh, that didn't work out. It will be more of a Easter surprise now. I will pack and ship it soon!



The pattern is really easy to follow and after a couple of rows, i developed a nice rhythm. I had to crochet more rows (lots more) to reach the desired length. I assume that's because I used a 4mm hook and a slightly different yarn.

Belissma is a lovely yarn to work with. It was a great stitch definition and just flows from the hook.

As much as I love the blanket, I am glad I am able to crochet smaller projects again now. I am currently testing a pattern for Michelle. Stay turned - it looks great!

Take care,
Anne



Project details

Pattern: Hydrangea Stripe Blanket by Attic24

Yarn: Belissima DK by Stylecraft Yarns

Color order stripes: Toasted Almonds, Ash Rose, Raspberry Riot, Mellow Yellow, Sugar Snap, Overly Olive, Silver Lining, Smoked Pearl, Bashful Blue, Double Denim, Purple Passion, Rio Red, Crushed Plum

Border: Double Cream

Hook: 4mm

Time: 12/18 - 3/19


P.S. Stylecraft Yarns send the yarn I am using for the blanket mentioned above last summer, but I am not in any way obliged to say anything nice about the yarn. Thus, all sentiments expressed above a 100% mine! :)

Friday, 1 March 2019

BAWJ2019 - Weeks 7 and 8!

Hi everyone! 

It's March! How can it possibly be March already - 2019 is zipping by at a terrifying rate. We've survived two weeks of multiple night shifts here and Miss Allie has her first tooth! 


I have been working on my miniaturisation project over the last few weeks in between feeding the baby 7 times a day (hurgh I liked it better when she just had milk), persuading her to have naps and keeping up with work. So far I have 5 tiny monsters, and #6 is in progress but having a rest while I make a hippo for a lovely friend's upcoming tiny human! 

This week's post is a bit later than usual because Square 8 of the BAWJ2019 took me somewhat longer than previous weeks for reasons which I will describe below... 

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

WEEK 7 - JOYFUL by TAMARA KELLY

Pattern: https://www.mooglyblog.com/joyful-afghan-square-12/ 

Yarn colours: Krypton, Silver, Teal, Mint


This square was ok! I did alter the instructions slightly so I didn't have quite so many silver ends from the overlay rounds, just by starting in a different spot. 



It worked up fairly well, although it irritates my symmetrical mind that the mandala isn't straight on the square. 


I almost like the back better - the combination of colours and stitches (and the beautiful Batik yarn) gives it an impressionist look!


WEEK 8 - MOONLIGHT GARDEN SQUARE by ANNA PISKORZ

Pattern: https://aloopofsunshinecrochet.com/block-a-week-cal-2019-moonlight-garden-square/


Yarn colours: Phosphorus, Cream, Raspberry, Gold, Violet


Hoo boy, this was an interesting square. Pretty? Yes, I'll give it that. I liked the way the circular centre was squared up - very clever and much less awkward than other methods I have seen. 

I do not want to seem ungrateful because these lovely designers are offering squares for the BAWJ2019 for free, but... it makes me really disappointed when designers don't take pride in presenting a great, well-designed, well laid out pattern. And this one was a real challenge, not in a fun way. 

Julie noted as a "fun fact" in her introductory blog post that the designer has never made an afghan before! This became very obvious when there were two rows that had 16ch strings along the back. It's true, they aren't visible from the front. But as anyone who has ever made or used an afghan can tell you, having such long loose strings along the back can be very unpleasant for the toes as well as affecting the tension of the square! I ended up catching the chain strings into the following row to try and mitigate this a bit. But, you can see how the overlay crochet is sitting right up off the surface of the underlying stitches due to the tension of the chain strings behind. 


There were some issues with the pattern as well. In some places the colour change was not marked clearly, and the layout was not super easy to follow. 

The stitch counts and instructions for Rounds 18 and 19 didn't match. It was very confusing, caused a few bouts of ripping back and retrying before I could make it work. In case you're making this and are as perplexed as I was, I worked Rounds 18 and 19 as follows:

Round 18 - *working in BLO, hdc in first two st of one side including the first hidden st, 15 star stitches across, hdc in last two st, (hdc, ch2, hdc) in corner ch2sp*. repeat 4 times. (6hdc and 15 star st on each side) 

Round 19 - *hdc in first three st of one side including first hidden st (where Round 18 joined), hdc in top of Round 18 hdc to start first star st, 2hdc in eye of each star stitch, hdc in last 3 st, (hdc, ch2, hdc) in corner ch2sp* repeat 4 times (39 hdc on each side) 


More than one hdc round also twists a square quite badly because the top of the stitch is so far to the right of the post, as you can see in the back shot of this square:


Hopefully the power of peer pressure will pull it back into line once we join them all together.

Onwards and upwards! 

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

BAWJ2019 - Weeks 5 and 6!

Hi everyone! 

Me again! Have I blogged more than I did all of 2018 yet?? It feels a bit like it! 

This last two weeks has been a bit busier - we had a big day of youth exchange and funnily enough, having a tiny human really cuts down on the time and capacity available to recuperate properly. I'm doing ok with the day to day stuff, but an extra big event and poof, it's all over.

But, I did manage to keep up with the BAWJ2019 CAL so here are Weeks 5 and 6 for you :) 

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

WEEK 5 - CLARISSA by HELEN SHRIMPTON 

Pattern: https://crystalsandcrochet.com/crochet/clarissa/

Yarn colours: Phosphorus, Teal, Heather, Rose 


Boy, this square was a challenge. The actual stitches were fine, the pattern was well written, but I got to the end and the square was almost two inches bigger than the next biggest square! I used the same hook and yarn, and the same tension as far as I know.  So, I undid it all (threading the little balls on a knitting needle to keep them in order, I felt so clever), and redid it with a 3mm hook and it came out perfectly sized. I know I talk about peer pressure being a powerful force in a blanket, but this wasn't fudgeable. 


The textures are really lovely, and I liked how the colour changes worked! 




WEEK 6 - ONE LOVE II by RACHELE CARMONA 

Pattern: https://cypresstextiles.net/2019/02/09/free-12-inch-crochet-motif-for-valentines-day-2019-one-love-ii/ 

Yarn colours: Sulfur and Cream


In contrast to Week 5, this square was almost too small! It was within the margin of error though, so it'll all work into the final blanket.  


I love the little hearts :) They came out really well! 

Can't wait for next week! In between the BAWJ2019 squares I've been working on a new project - stay tuned ;) 

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

BAWJ2019 - Weeks 3 and 4!

Hi everyone!

I'm doing it! So far! The first time is happenstance, the second is coincidence, so managing to blog three weeks in a row makes it tradition, right?  

It's not too late, so if you want to join in on BAWJ2019, check out Julie's Facebook groupblog and Ravelry Board for more information.

This week I have three BAWJ blocks to show you, because there was a bonus square for Week 4! I chose to do both Week 4 blocks in the same set of colours. Without further ado...

WEEK 3 - FLAME SQUARE by JESSIE RAYOT

Pattern: https://jessieathome.com/flame-square/

Yarn colours: Mercury, Mint, Lupin, Heather


It ended up a bit wonky, I think because of the hdc rounds pushing the next stitches quite far to the right. But, peer pressure is a powerful force and it'll square up nicely when surrounded by friends! The pattern was easy to follow and quite rhythmic. 


The texture of this square is lovely - I do like what post stitches do for crochet, even though I don't overly enjoy actually doing them.


WEEK 4 - IRIS TWINS by MARGARET MACINNES 

Pattern: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/iris-twins-afghan-block-square

Yarn colours: Copper, Gold, Rose and Sage 


This one was marked as advanced level, challenging even for experienced crocheters but maybe I am more advanced than I thought because it wasn't that hard? It certainly was complicated but as long as I read each step carefully and worked the stitches as I read the pattern, it worked out fine. I only had one problem moment when I couldn't figure out where to join yarn for a row, but sorted it out fairly quickly with a lot of zooming on the pictures


This is another heavily textured square, but in a completely different style to the last one. It could possibly use blocking, but since it's already a bit bigger than the other squares I will leave it and assume that the weight of the finished blanket will sort it out. 


Using standing stitches to start each row was definitely easier and neater than chains! 

WEEK 4 BONUS - BUFFLEHEAD by MARGARET MACINNES

Pattern: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/bufflehead-12-texture-afghan-block-square

Yarn colours: Copper, Gold, Rose and Sage 


This block was kindly offered by Margaret as a bonus easier option for Week 4 in case the Iris Twins was just too unmanageable. I actually ended up having more puzzled moments with this block than the other one! But, it all worked out in the end!


It's nice to have a lacy block in the mix. Again, using the stacked standing stitches to start rows rather than chains or other kinds of standing stitches made the end product neater (in my opinion) - I much recommend this technique if you haven't tried it yet!  


Phew! 4/48 blocks completed plus a bonus already! I still have plenty of Batik in the box, ready for next week :D   

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

My First Crochet Afghan

Hi everyone! 

I hope you're keeping warm or cool as the weather demands - it's so so hot in Sydney at the moment, and Anne keeps sending me pictures of snow and ice! 

I am happy to report that I am still up to date with the BAWJ2019 but I'll save that for next week and tell you about something different today :D 

Allie and I are staying at my parents' house this week because my poor husband is working four night shifts in a row, and he needs to actually get some rest during the day. BA BA BA and some light shrieking at top volume is not the delightfully soothing serenade you might think it is... 

One job we've helped Grandma with is tidying up the old blanket box. There were quite a lot of crochet and knit blankets that we either never used or don't use any more. Most of them just need a wash and maybe some light mending of old seams, and can be donated, but we also found some treasures. One of the treasures was the very first crochet blanket I ever designed and made.


It's nothing fancy - just granny squares in 6 colours, about 2 metres square. Mum thinks I was 12 when I made it, and it was my project while we were on winter holidays on Hamilton Island or somewhere like that. No ends are sewn in, just crocheted over; the tension is highly variable; some of the centres have started unravelling (due to the lack of end stitching in...); and it has no border to secure the edges. It takes something like this to make me realise just how much I've learned about crochet in the last 21 years! 


I have many newer, prettier and better made blankets so we will unstitch this one into smaller pieces that can go keep some kittens or puppies warm at the vet or RSPCA, but I wanted to memorialise it here so I'll never forget the first blanket I ever crocheted!


What was the first crochet item you ever made? How old were you? 

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Happy New Year + a new CAL!

Hi everyone!

Fwoah, 2018 was an epic year - new baby, no more housemate, new boss at work... I feel like I hardly crocheted at all :'( But Allie is growing like a weed, now nearly 8 months old and commando crawling about the place at great speed and talking up a storm. She has ba ba ba and da da da down pat - dare I hope for some ma ma ma soon? 


We are having a heatwave in Australia this week, to the point where the meteorology service had to invent a new colour to designate hot temperatures - thank goodness for air conditioning! 

I know the traditional new years blog post is a resolution to blog more regularly, but that just feels like empty words without a plan for action. So in 2019, I am going to do JulieAnny's Block a Week Crochet-A-Long and try to keep up every week. Then I have no excuse - I should be able to blog once a week about the new square and anything else that is going on! Sound like a plan? 

I did start a little late because we were still on holidays when it started, but I'm all caught up now. 

Introduction

The idea behind the CAL is that a new free square pattern is released every week, late on Monday night Sydney time. There will be 48 squares between now and November, then in December we will join and border the afghans. It's being called BAWJ2019 on Instagram so that's what I'm going to call it from now on!

I have loved Julie's designs ever since I made the Stained Glass Afghan, and had lots of fun with her 2015 Mystery CAL. I can't wait to see what Julie and her team of designers come up with over the year :D  

I am using Stylecraft Batik and Batik Elements, of which I have a surprisingly large stash! I think I way overestimated how much yarn I would need for a new design and, well, you know how these things can get out of hand. It is lovely and soft, and all the colours go well together which makes it a great stash busting yarn! I'm picking colours pretty much at random and changing colours on each square where the pattern says to.

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



WEEK 1 - POPCORN HEARTS by JULIE YEAGER

Pattern: http://julieyeagerdesigns.com/week-1-bawj2019/ 

Yarn colours: Sage, Silver & Bismuth 


So. Many. Popcorns.


So many. But such a pretty square! I like how the hearts pop up around the middle. Plus I got to learn a new stitch - the berry stitch - which is worked from the wrong side and pops out the front. I think learning new stitches is my favourite part of CALs :) 

I did have a bit of trouble stitching into "the top of the popcorn" but I think that's me overthinking things rather than it being inherently confusing... 


It's even pretty from the back! 

WEEK 2 - LOLA BEAN SQUARE by SARAH SHEA

Pattern: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/lola-bean

Yarn colours: Gold, Plum, Heather and Iron


A dodecahedron to an octagon to a square? Love it!  


I got to learn TWO new stitches in this square - the bean stitch and the extended dc. The extended dc was the most interesting, as it could be a good substitute for trebles!   



This one is going to need much more blocking, but then again, peer pressure is a powerful force in afghans :P 

Phew, that's the first two weeks! Wish me luck in keeping up! 

What projects are you planning for 2019? 

Saturday, 5 January 2019

First 2019 Reflections


Happy 2019 everyone!

2018 was quite the adventure... Moving to the Netherlands, starting a new job, and so on. It was a pretty exhausting year - I felt like I was running the whole time without ever catching up or catching a breath.


Hopefully, 2019 will be better. So far, the first couple of days have been good. I knew I was sleep deprived, but man, until now, I didn't know how much... I feel like a whole new person after a couple of well-rested nights! Fingers crossed, the feeling will stay. 


I didn't finish the crochet projects I planned as Christmas presents. There were lots of tears involved when I realized I couldn't make it. There was too much going on, and I was plainly exhausted. Looking back, I feel sad how much I was beating myself up mentally for not being able to finish the projects. It did suck the joy out of crocheting, and I don't think that is something I want to happen again. 



At the moment, I have just one blanket on the hook, and I think it will take quite a few more days to finish it. I am using the Hydrangea Stripe Blanket pattern from Attic 24, and I really like the relaxing nature of the pattern flow. Oh, and I am even a good girl and am weaving in the ends after finishing each color! Woohoo! 



Don't the colors work well together? I am sure I mentioned this before, but I love the Belissima Yarn from Stylecraft. It has such a beautiful stitch definition, is so soft, and just flows from the hook. I hope they will add more colors in the future. For this blanket, I underestimated the yarn usage, so, I will need to get more yarn soonish.  I would love a stronger yellow for example. 



This blanket was supposed to be finished in December as a gift to a dear friend of mine. As mentioned, I didn't complete any of the intended projects last months, AND I am sure this blanket won't even be finished in January. I am still coming to terms with it, but in the end, I am sure it won't matter that the gift arrives late. My friend lives in Australia which means she couldn't use the blanket now anyway (too hot!)...

How is your 2019 going so far?

Take care, Anne

P.S. Stylecraft Yarns send the yarn I am using for the blanket mentioned above last summer, but I am not in any way obliged to say anything nice about the yarn. Thus, all sentiments expressed above a 100% mine! :)