Rug in progress

Happy Thursday everyone! Things have been pretty chaotic in the construction of yarntangler heights (our extension) and I have been driven to hiding in a quiet corner while the toddler sleeps. Despite all the busyness and plumbers taking the house to bits I have made a bit of progress in rug making, and mighty satisfying it is too, if a little hard on the wrists.

I am using Tek Tek t-shirt yarn made from ‘couture’ factory waste apparently. It is pretty good although it is much chunkier than I was expecting meaning that I have had to considerably adapt what I was planning in order to fit it in the bathroom. It also varies considerably in weight throughout each ball so the results are somewhat ‘rustic’. For what I am doing that is fine but I think my obsession with neatness and nice stitch definition may drive me to another yarn choice for future rug projects.

Anyway this is how it is shaping up… pics taken whilst the small people were captive in the bath.

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It will look a lot better when the border is added. It is working up very quickly but my evening crochet time is mostly being swallowed up in choosing radiators, thinking about lights and trying to spend a few quality moments with my resident yurt maker. Since the photos were taken the bathroom has been mostly dismantled in order to install a proper heated towel rail heated by our new super-efficient wood burner. Warm dry towels, I can’t wait!

In other news Nana the toddler whisper has been making some splatter pictures with the little ‘un. They are so jolly I just have to share.

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Rugs to warm toes

What a Februaryish kind of week it has been!  We have been treated to some stunning glimpses of those good-to-be-alive days in amongst the dismal chill winds that drive me to the fireside. I have lots of crochet things to do, including some paid commissions, which is exciting.  I also have a lot of office work to do….mmmm, later.

I think it must the chilly weather and warming my toes that has led me to thinking about rugs..

If you didn’t already know, we are in the throes of building an extension to the house so I am, obviously, planning all the lovely crocheted items that I can fill it with. One of first things that attracted me to crochet was the ability to make large, structural items and I have been meaning to have a go at making crochet storage baskets, rugs and other household bits for ages.  It is modern space full of light and wood so the whole vintage vibe doesn’t really work.

Time for a bit of research…

 

This is fabulous, but I am not sure where I would get cotton rope like that. Nice shoes.

by Dziergalnia on Etsy

 

I like this one, and it is in my favourite grey, but I want this for the bathroom and a round rug definitely won’t work.

I then got to thinking that I could do something colourful in moss stitch that looks a bit like an indian dhurry.

By Henna at handycrafter.blogspot.co.uk

 

And then I found this one. This is the one. It is made in that t-shirt sort of yarn and apparently the pattern is in Finnish. Never mind, I think I can figure it out from the picture. Wish me luck!

Those storage baskets in the background will have to wait until another day.

Scandi Loving

We tend towards a very low-key Valentine’s day in our family and, as with all of our  celebrations, handmade gifts or cards are prized above the expensive and commercial. For us, a small gesture of love is worth ten times more than some mass-produced junk or air-freighted roses, however tempting.

I love the simplicity of scandinavian design and I spent some time looking for a simple, stylish crochet heart design for my little family.  Teresa’s Heart Ornament with its lattice work appealed to me and are a bit more unusual than the average without being too fussy.

This is how mine turned out…

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Unlike many pdf patterns, the instructions are visual and really easy to follow. After making a couple I was able to rattle them off without even looking at the pictures. I used a red cotton yarn (although I will confess that I have no idea which brand of as the label has long disappeared into the bottom of my crochet basket) and a 3mm hook.

I had fun making handmade hearts for my valentine and I hope you do too. They would also look great on the Xmas tree, if you can wait that long!

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Hunger Games Huntress Cowl Thingy

2015-01-26 15.26.08Have you come across the Katniss Cowl? I was perplexed until I Googled it and came across Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games. I must admit that I am totally ignorant of this particular film craze but I gather that it involves some kind of teenage dystopian vision incorporating curious, asymmetrical knitwear and battles to the death. My lovely friend Helen asked me to make one for her 40th Birthday fancy dress party and I love a new challenge. The original is in a flecky, suitably post-apolcalyptic oatmeal but Helen wanted to be able to wear it again with her normal clothes so she chose Drops Andes in Blue-Purple. There are a number of patterns online but I chose to buy the Huntress Vest by Two of Wands because it looked the most Hunger Gamesish and was the most stylish I could find.

Huntress vest by Two of Wands

The original pattern is a mixture of crochet and knitting (I don’t knit) but fortunately she has adapted the pattern to be totally crochet meaning that you don’t quite get the herringbone effect in the front triangle pattern. It is a well written and nicely presented pattern, however, and I would definitely go back to her again in the future. My only glitch was that I found it a bit tricky to attach the herringbone crochet section to the cowl piece and had to cobble it together a bit to make it sit nicely.

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Helen practicing her kick-ass archery moves, be afraid!
Katniss Everdeen

My version turned out smaller, which was (mostly) intentional because Helen is petite and I thought it would be easier to wear if it was a slimmer fit and closer to to the neck. I also crochet tight so unless I size up my hook things always turn out small. I don’t have a hook bigger than 10mm though and I was too impatient to wait for the next size up to arrive in the post. I have been doing loads of fiddly things recently with lace-weight yarn and tiny hooks so it was great to make something chunky that works up fast. 2015-01-26 15.26.57 All we need now is a excuse to dress up and celebrate with a cocktail or three!

The morning after….

I can report that a lot of fun was had by all and Helen looked fab in her costume. I don’t have a good party picture but I suspect that the Mockingjay is a little less chirpy this morning 😉 I also appear to have order for 3 more cowls, happy days.

Happy Birthday Helen, with lots of love from all of us at Yarntangler Heights xx

Lutter Idyl Inspired Afghan

2015-01-09 13.12.00I will admit that I am partial to a little bit of Scandinavian design and Lutter Idyl is a Danish crochet blog that I go back to time after time. I love the quality and simplicity of her work and the clean, contemporary designs. I will also admit that find that I often have to search through a lot of crochet designs that are really not my taste (too frilly, too fussy, too much everything) in order to find things that I like. In comparison Lutter Idyl is a like breath of fresh, crisp Nordic air. 

My Danish has become a little a little rusty (ahem) recently, so I use Google translate with reasonable success. It can be amusing (‘pattern’ translates as ‘recipe’ for example) but you get the gist of it. 

This is the afghan that I was inspired by…

And this is my version, minus the stylish, moody riverside location… and I fear that my photography falls short somewhat.

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I am very pleased with it. It is a shameless copy and I can take no credit for the design but I am delighted with the finish and the seaming technique (detailed on her blog) which gives a totally flat and neat join between squares. It is made in 100% aran wool of various brands. I tried hard to find the turquoise in the original design but I just couldn’t find it at the right price. The sky blue that replaces it works well with the cream, grey and navy. I very rarely use pink but I love the bright pops of colour.

A big thanks to Jeanette Bogelund Bentzen for the inspiration and a brilliant eye for design.

Ahhh, I was just looking at her blog again to find the links and came across this beauty! Another one to add to the list. This shawl is also reminiscent of some designs by Stephen West at westknits. I will save that one for another time….

TipTørklæde Shawl, Jeanette Bogelund Bentzen

My Grandmother’s Crochet

2015-01-22 16.29.36It’s a story for another day but we are currently building an extension to my parents house for our little family to live in. In the process we had to move the Welsh linen press which is one of the only antiques that we inherited from my grandmother (Mamgu to me) and which came originally from the family farm in the stunning Preseli Hills. Carefully stashed inside and rarely disturbed are boxes of wonderful photos of severe, black-clad welsh baptists in their sunday best and other precious things from a forgotten time including a hand-stitched baptismal gown, fine lawn handkerchiefs and…her box of unfinished crochet. 2015-01-22 16.27.34   2015-01-22 16.28.31 Mamgu was a fine knitter and crocheter and made classic crochet lace table cloths, doilies and edged her best cotton pillow cases. I remember the table cloth vividly, it was always placed over the polished oak dining table and removed at meal times.

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My grandparents on their wedding day
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Mamgu (Phoebe Eluned Gibby) with her family, she is in the middle with the ribbons in her hair

There is something very poignant about a craft item left unfinished. I don’t know what she was making but it looks like the centre of a doily or motif for a table runner or table cloth. It is also incredibly fine work in very fine mercerised cotton thread. I can’t imagine having the patience for anything so delicate. I often find similar doilies and antimacassars in charity shops in unloved fusty piles; the amount of skill and love that went into them long forgotten. She did try to teach me crochet once, I was probably about nine and I got as far as making a chain. I think that, although I was a keen sewer and cross-stitcher at that age, I didn’t really understand the point of crochet. After all, who wants to make old ladies doilies, and what is a doily for anyway? It took me more than 20 years to pick up a hook again and I like to think that she would have been proud of me. I don’t think I will ever make a doily though, I still don’t really know what they are for. Perhaps they have been reincarnated in the recent fashion for crochet mandalas, surely these are colourful, decorative doilies for our post-colonial times.

Mandalas for yarndale
Mandala by Karin aan de haak

Interlocking Crochet Squares

 

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It’s January and the gloomy, blustery British weather is doing its very best to induce hibernation. It is definitely a time of year for sitting by the fire with a new challenge to stimulate the mind. As part of my blogging journey I am really hoping to challenge myself to learn some new skills. A page in the back of my one of my crochet books gave some basic instructions for interlocking crochet and I just had to give it a try.

I am a fan of wintery colours. I love the subtlety of silvery greys and soft, murky greens. I may well surprise you with some warm, bright colours one day but for now I will stick with the winter palette.

Contorted hazel
Contorted hazel

 

Lichen on our garden bench
Lichen on our garden bench

A quick google search informed me that Tanis Galik is the authority on the subject and has developed a formidable range of interlocking crochet stitches. A combination of the written instructions in The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet by Margaret Hubert (my first crochet book and one I go back to again and again) and the YouTube tutorial on Tanis’s website Interlocking Crochet , and with only a small amount of frogging and an occasional sprinkling of bad language, I managed a sample square.

This is the basic stitch pattern and my first attempt shown here in Sublime Tweed Wild at Heart (limey green) and Down to Earth (dark purplish grey).

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It is a bit tricky to get your head around but essentially you are crocheting two independent squares of filet that are woven together as you go along. It does become clear as the pattern emerges and it is hugely satisfying when the penny drops. There is fine line, however, with this stitch between pleasingly retro and something your grandma would have worn as a waistcoat or made into a tea cosy. I really like the lime green/grey colours but I also tried it in green and pink cashmerino and it looked really quite horrible. I am not even going to show you a picture!

The fabric created is quite dense making it suitable for things like bags and afghans (and tea cosies). I have been meaning to make a bag for myself for some time so this may well be the excuse I have been looking for. It is also reversible which makes it great for blankets. Clever isn’t it?

Tanis Galik’s book arrived just as I was getting comfortable with the basic squares pattern. It is a comprehensive book with very many interesting patterns but I just found it impossible to follow the instructions. I am famously rubbish at following written patterns, I much prefer using diagrams and/or making it up from looking at the pictures, so it may just be me. The projects in the book are also not really my cup of tea although they appear to be very well executed and technically challenging. I will be using it as a reference, however, and I might even figure out how to do read of the patterns.

My next challenge…the starry sky interlocking crochet stitch pattern. 

Starry Sky by the Wind Rose Fiber Studio

 

Bunny hops

Two scampery rabbits, Betty and Bugsy, have recently joined our household and all things bunny related are suddenly very popular.

Bunny Slippers

These slippers were a quick make and have proved to be extremely popular with a younger member of the family. She also loves purple so I made these using a double strand of Debbie Bliss Blue Faced Leicester DK in Lilac and Heather. I also used a bit of pink that was in my basket, not sure what that was. I based them on the LoopyKidz Super Simple Slippers pattern, which was easy to follow and really is super simple. These are not a technical make but if you want a quick, cosy crowd pleaser they are perfect.

I have also recently discovered pom pom makers thanks to my crafting friend and blogger Jo at Three Stories High. You can just see one pom pom tail peeking out from the back. Mine are made by Clover and are about £5 for 2 which is well worth it for the time saved in wrapping wool around bits of fiddly cardboard.

My top tip for these slippers is to make them a bit smaller than you think because they are quite stretchy and won’t stay on the feet if they are baggy.

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Meet Bugsy and Betty…

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Starting as I mean to go on

It has been a dampish and oddly warm January day and I am starting on my new blogging adventure. Be gentle with me, I am new to this. I have always been a crafter and I have experimented with a great many things from basketry to spoon carving but the one that has stuck with me has been crochet. Crochet is a calm port in a storm and, so far, still astonishes me with the amount of possibilities and projects that are possible from garments and the traditional doily to yarn bombing, political craftivism and the downright bonkers.

I can’t think of any better way to start a crochet and woolly things blog than a small shopping spree to my local yarn shop, we all need a little inspiration from time to time, well that’s my excuse anyway. I actually very rarely spend money on expensive wool but it feels like a special occasion.

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Ippikin in Much Wenlock is always a delight to the eyes and a danger to the purse! Whilst it can seem expensive at first (real wool always does), the quality of the products speak for themselves and who can resist this riot of colour and texture. I love good yarn and natural fibres and, whilst you can probably source similar cheaper online, there is no real substitute for squishing the balls and holding the colours next to each other.

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This is my little haul from my shopping trip, a slightly guilty treat! They may not look like a very coordinated combination but there is method in my madness, which I hope will become clear over the next couple of weeks. I have been wanting to try out some Noro yarn for ages so I really hope that it lives up my expectations. I am not usually that keen on colour change yarn but the colours in this are stunning.

I hope that you come back again to have a look at the things that I have made. Bye for now.