Sunday, 31 July 2016

Frida's Flowers Blanket CAL

If you're pretty into crochet on Instagram, like me you've probably seen loads of posts for blanket CALs (crochet alongs). These usually involve bits of pattern for a blanket (or other things, but it seems to mostly be blankets) being released every week or so, and people from all over the world joining in to make their own version of the blanket, and usually sharing their progress on social media so we can all be nosey!

I've seen loads of them, mostly from Stylecraft or Attic 24, but I've never taken part in one myself. However, a little while ago I saw Wool Warehouse were stocking the colour packs for the most beautiful blanket I had ever seen, Frida's Flowers Blanket by Jane Crowfoot.

Look at it! How beautiful is it? A little while ago I finally took the plunge and bought the yarn for it. I had seen the colour packs on both Wool Warehouse and Deramores, but one day Deramores was having a huge sale, and while it didn't apply to colour packs, they did have all the colours of yarn avaliable singularly, so I bought it that way instead. Teamed with a £5 voucher I had too, it made it way cheaper, so I was super happy

Frida blanket wool

I also love the mix of colours. I tend to stick to the same sorts of colours, so it's nice to have some that I wouldn't usually pick myself, like the brown and the khaki green, and know they're going to look lovely when I use them.

The pattern is written for the Classique Cotton DK yarn, but I went with the Special DK instead, as it was cheaper! The colours are slightly different for the Special DK, and there are apparently two options (Fuchsia Purple or Plum) to use instead of the Plum supplied with the Classique Cotton DK colour pack. I picked the Fuchsia Purple for my blanket as this is what Deramores included in their colour pack, so that was the list I used when I was buying the balls of yarn myself.

I have to say though, what really attracted me to this project was the description of the pattern - "This project is aimed at those looking to improve their skills rather than complete beginners." When I first started wanting to crochet I could barely do a chain, and now I feel so confident when I look for a project, I feel I can tackle a lot things without worrying. I really love the idea of doing something a bit challenging, and hopefully having an amazing blanket to show off at the end of it all!

I wanted to get my creepy clown cushion cover out of the way before I started this, as I didn't want to be working on two quite heavy yarn projects at once, so now I can finally start!

I think the CAL has actually all be released now on the Stylecraft website (I clearly took too long mulling over whether to actually take the plunge and buy the yarn!), so I can just dive right in and not have to wait for any of the bits of the pattern to be relased.

I think I might do an update per piece of the CAL I complete, so I can document each stage and not just wait until the whole thing is finish to show it off!

Wish me luck!

Friday, 29 July 2016

Creepy Clown Cushion Cover

I don't know how long this cushion has been sitting in my WIP pile, but I know I was pregnant when I started it, so it's been a wee while at least.

I came across the pattern for this creepy clown cushion cover in a book called Evil Knits (or Knitmare on Elm Street, depending on the version you have) by Hannah Simpson. I thought it might be fun so I could practise my intarsia knitting. I have the wool for a jumper which has a diamond design on the front just waiting to be made, but I'm not overly confident in my intarsia knitting, so I thought a cushion cover would be perfect practise. Not everything needs to be totally perfect on a cushion cover like it does on something you're going to wear (especially tension), so it wouldn't matter too much if I made some mistakes along the way, it was all about learning.

I actually knitted the two back pieces of the cover up ages ago. They were just simple stripes and were quite easy to do, however when I came to the front panel I had about 10 failed attempts and then set it aside so I didn't begin to hate it. I've never done intarsia knitting before (well I have on this wee robin, but not successfully as I didn't twist at all and had to sew up the gap around his belly) but I have done Fair Isle knitting, so I knew roughly what I was doing, but I could not seem to twist the yarn properly and avoid the dreaded hole!

About a month ago I decided I wanted to finish the cover, as the only other things I have going on just now are a big cross stitch and adding to my embroidery duvet now and then, so I went at it again. After watching loads of You Tube videos, I finally found this super helpful blog post which I kept open on my computer for the first few rows. The technique is not hard at all, but for some reason this post was the only one that made it click in my head and I finally got it.

I think I managed to successfully knit the whole piece with no holes in one attempt! Yay!

Clown cushion

I did however make one mistake on the mouth! I'm still not sure what I did, I guess I picked up the wrong colour, or forgot to change to the black when I should have, but it's a bit squint and the pink goes right into the white! And I didn't realise it till I was about 15 rows past it, so no way was I ripping all that back. Like I said, this was about learning how to do the technique, not making something perfect. 

Clown cushion

Clown cushion

I also decided to crochet the pieces together with a slip stitch seam rather than sew it together, as I am rubbish at sewing my knitting together, so crocheting just makes it much neater!

Clown cushion

Clown cushion

I actually thought the cushion was going to be a lot bigger than it was, and didn't realise how small it was till I went to order the cushion pad for it and realised it was only a 10" pad. I think this might be due to this slightly deceptivly sized chair photo from the book!

Clown cushion

Either way it looks pretty cute in my cushion corner on the sofa.

Clown cushion

Yarn Used:

  • Hayfield Bonus DK:
    • Black.
    • White.
    • Fluoro.
    • Bluebell.
  • Robin DK:
    • Red.
Raverly project page.

This project is a step towards completing my New Year's List. You can check out my progress here.

  • Make all the things I've bought supplies for but am yet to make.
  • Make things from my huge collection of craft books. 

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Stag's Head Kit

Sometimes I cannot wait to get going on a new craft project, and other times something scares me a bit too much, and I keep putting it off for fear of failing.

This was very true with the lovely Stag's Head Craft Kit by The Makery which Donald gifted to me quite some time ago, and I have been avoiding for ages.

Me and my sewing machine don't have an amazing relationship, and it always puts me off sitting down and sewing something. However, I have been watching a lot of The Great British Sewing Bee lately, and that has been inspiring me to get on it.

This kit is just lovely, I mean look at the contents!

Stag head kit

Stag head kit

You get everything you could need to make the stag's head, including all the fabric, thread and stuffing. This the closest I've come to sewing something like clothing, as the paper pattern was very similar to clothing ones I have seen (though a lot easier obviously), and even had notches you had to line up when sewing, and other marks you had to transfer to the fabric to keep you right later on.

After about an hour of cutting out I was finally ready to go, but my sewing machine was not on my side. It has a habit of just deciding to make the underneath of my sewing look like guff. It all gets tangled and the thread comes out in huge lumps, and as the stitching on the antlers was going to be on show, it really needed to be pretty.

I must have stitched one antler about 10 times, and had to rip it all back every time. Eventually I got one go I was happy with, and stuck with that one, even though when I looked back at it later, the stiches were all weridly pulled and thin looking, but I was NOT doing it again. Plus this was on the back, so I figured it would be hidden against the wall.

After much cleaning, rejigging the tension and shouting at my sewing machine, many Google searches told me this is issue is 1) common with side/front loading bobbin machines and 2) just common with my make of machine in general (which I did find during a rage Google when I was trying to make Harry Potter flag a little while ago too). I think I've learned that I need a new sewing machine, which has already been added to my Christmas list.

Anyway, once I got past the antler issue, sewing the head up was actually pretty easy, as sewing goes. I even got my notches to line up and everything.

Stag head kit

Stag head kit

Stag head kit

Stag head kit

Stag head kit

After that it was just sewing in the little eye dents, attaching the antlers (which as is always the case with things like this, looked fine lying flat, and then looked a bit squint when I hung the stag's head on the wall) and the hanging loop at the back. Please excuse any hand sewing on show in this photos, as I'm really not the master of making that look neat (especially at the back of head, which again, at least is hidden against the wall!), and even when I follow the diagram of how to do a stitch (the mattress stitch in this case, I never seem to get it quite right/as hidden as it should be. Definitely something I need to work on as there's nothing worse that spoiling a project with the finishing touches!

Stag head kit 

We've always been planning on displaying the stag's head in our hallway, so that's exactly where it is hanging (which does not have the best lighting due to only having one tiny window).

Stag head kit

Stag head kit 

After having quite a lot of success with this proper paper pattern sewing project, I'm quite keen to get more and more practise at sewing. I've always wanted to be able to do things like make Ivy exactly the Halloween costume she wants, or helps her sew things for school. I may however need a new sewing machine to actually succeed at that one though!  

This project is a step towards completing my New Year's List. You can check out my progress here.
  • Clear as many free and purchased craft kits as possible.