Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Stress, Crochet and Graffiti

I can't believe that it's been over eight weeks since I've posted and that it's April already, but I've been so stressed and busy that (sadly) the last thing I was thinking about was my blog. 

Over the last year or so EC has been quite unwell and was finally diagnosed with Crohns Disease just before Christmas. Unfortunately (and really horribly) she developed serious complications and ended up having major surgery in March. She has written about her experience on her blog Cats, Crochet, Cooking and Crohns if you'd like to know more about it and if you'd like to see pictures of The Best Crochet Hoodie in The World!

As I'm sure you can imagine, much of my time was spent worrying about her, visiting her in hospital and looking after her three cats. Or it would have been if I hadn't had to spend so much time travelling from one place to another! I feel I like I wasted so-ooooo much time on buses when I could have been actually doing something productive to help. It was super-frustrating and at times the boredom was almost overwhelming. I felt like I was going slowly mad.

But then I started noticing things on my journeys. Some things made me smile, like seeing these crocuses peeking through the grass in the park... 

...and the forsythias brightening up the the gardens and hedgerows with their distinctive yellow flowers.

I saw some interesting graffiti which made me stop and think - like this presumably Rousseau-Anarchist inspired slogan which appeared overnight on a local wall...(the photo is slightly edited just in case you're easily offended).

...and this one which made me wonder if I do know whatever it is I'm supposed to be knowing(!)

I also saw this carefully- crafted masterpiece on a tenfoot wall.

Despite looking rather random, it's actually a very well-thought out piece of artwork with subtle layers of meaning. It includes quotes by Descartes, an anarchist movement and references to the Dutch Revolt lead by William of Orange. There is also an image of revolutionary Che Guevara as well as a icon from Vendetta, a classic graphic novel. In some ways the local references to Dead Bod and Settee of Culture make it feel like a bit of an 'in-joke' too - you can read about Dead Bod here and Settee of Culture here.

I think that seeing all of these things stopped me from going completely bonkers by giving me something else to focus on, especially as I haven't had much time to devote to crochet (which is my usual go-to if I'm stressed or anxious). Do you use creative things to chill like I do?

I have managed to do a little bit of work on my crochet scarfI finished the remaining two of the four granny flower squares which means I finally finished part 1 (Yay!)

I then moved onto part 2 and managed to complete two big flowers

Two scalloped flower circles

Four solid squares

and two long petal flowers

which means that I have also finished part 2!

It also means that I have finished all of the motifs for the scarf and can move onto constructing the scarf in part 3.

I'm really happy with the colours for this and hope it ends up being as lovely as Joanita's did. Hopefully next time I'll be showing you the finished scarf! x

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Scarf Project and Freeform Crochet Heart

The last couple of weeks have involved a lot of sitting about in waiting rooms again. As this is likely to be the case for a while, I decided to start a new crochet project to stop me from getting too anxious while I’m waiting around and also to counteract the boredom which I’m inevitably going to experience.

After what seemed like five minutes spent browsing through the patterns on Ravelry (but which was in reality many happy hours) I eventually settled on this scarf pattern from Joanita at Creative Crochet Workshop. Her blog is really lovely, full of modern, bright and colourful crochet patterns along with lots of inventive ideas.The scarf was specifically designed for using up those scrappy oddments of yarn which are left over from other projects and was offered as a short crochet- a-long between 20th January 2016- 10th February 2016. It is still available on her blog and she even has a PDF of the pattern if you'd like to buy one.The pattern itself appeals to me on a number of different levels but there were three main reasons why I chose it:

  1. I wanted a super-portable project which wasn’t too big or heavy and which could quickly and easily be swept out of the way into my bag.
  2. It’s a fairly straightforward pattern which I don’t have to concentrate on too much.
  3. I wanted to do something creative based on the idea of ‘Love’ as it is this month’s theme for the ‘Creative Every Day Challenge’ and this pattern incorporates many of the elements of crochet which I am totally passionate about.
I've got on reasonably quickly with it so far and have completed:

Eight crochet rings

Four flower wheels

Six small solid flowers

Two of the four granny flower squares

This means that I've almost finished Part 1

I'm really happy with my colour choice for these as they remind me a bit of Easter and look very Spring-like. I don't know about you but I am definitely ready for Spring to arrive now!

One of the things I adore about crochet is that even the simplest motifs can be given a whole new look just by by changing your yarn, so I know that this scarf would look equally as good in a variety of different colour schemes and textures. In fact, one of the things which I liked about this pattern is that it is pretty much freeform crochet. And I really love freeform crochet!

Freeform Scumble 1.

I haven't done as much freeform as I would have liked to, mainly because I got sidetracked for a long time (also known as obsessed) with making blankets. But the few things which I have made are rather fun. I'm particularly proud of this Freeform Crochet Heart.

.Front of Freeform Crochet Heart

Back of Freeform Crochet Heart

Detail of Freeform Crochet Heart

It's made from a variety of different yarns including DK, Aran and Chunky. Some of the yarn also came from a beautiful scarf from Accessorize which I'd worn until it was falling apart but which I couldn't bear to part with. I carefully frogged it so that I could reuse the yarn for this project. 

It's funny what you fall in love with isn't it? X

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Watercolour Pencils

This week, I managed to find some time to practice with my new watercolour pencils. I began by doodling with them over a watercolour background (more as a mark making exercise than anything else) as I hoped it would help me to get a feel for the pencils and what I could achieve with them. I'm heavily influenced by textiles so I not only wanted the marks I made to reflect this but I also wanted them to mimic the random effect created by the stitched mark in crazy patchwork. Sadly, the results weren’t quite as successful as I’d hoped they would be. I suspect this was more to do with my lack of technique than anything else as I really couldn’t get to grips with them at all. Now I’m left wondering if I will ever use them again!  I tried to fix it by overworking some of the marks with sharpies to highlight certain areas and to blend others together, as I was at EC's and didn't have my acrylics with me. 

I think that this worked quite well and I'm a lot happier with the finished piece. 

I also started with a watercolour page as the background for my next attempt

I got seriously carried away on this one though and really overworked it. It's not what I wanted at all. 

Half of the problem is that once I crack open the sharpies my love of graffiti spills out and I feel the need to cover every available surface with doodles and scribbles. The other day, EC suggested out that sharpies are 'just glorified felt-tip pens' (shock horror) but I keep trying to explain that no, they are so, so, so much more than that. They do vaguely remind me of my childhood though, so perhaps my love of sharpies and doodles are just me hankering for the past, as if I'm trying to recreate the youth I misspent scrawling my name on school desks. Who knows? X

Wednesday, 3 February 2016


Hot-Butter Popcorn Block

I crocheted the main body of these blocks in a very bright  variegated pink yarn and worked the popcorns in the same dark red  as I used  in Part 1 for the final round of the granny squares. Personally, I would have preferred to work a multiple of 3 rows of popcorns as I think odd numbers tend to work better visually, but that’s probably just the latent gardener in me coming out.

They look OK with the squares from Part 1 as the red of the popcorns gives a bit of continuity between them.  I think this will be important later in the project when I’m picking from evermore random balls of yarn!

I didn’t follow the pattern entirely as written and  reversed the order of the rows to so that it made more sense to me. I also noticed that (despite the stitch count being correct) the original pattern actually increases one stitch at the beginning of the row and decreases one stitch at the end of the row. This gives a bit of a messy edge and actually makes it harder to get the popcorns in a straight line.

 I use a different method of working the beginning and ends of rows which gives the right  height to the stitches, avoids the ‘holes ’which are sometimes created by long stitches at the beginning of rows and  which also helps line up the popcorns in a straight line while giving a completely straight edge. I’ve written up how I do this in case anyone would find this helpful.

Yarn over,
Insert hook into the same stitch as the beginning ch 3 and pull up a loop (3 loops on hook)
Yarn over; pull through 2 loops on hook
Yarn over,
Insert hook into the next stitch and pull up a loop (4 loops on hook)
Yarn over; pull through 2 loops on hook
Yarn over,
 Pull through remaining 3 loops
Work pattern until the end of the row -
Make sure to work into the very last stitch (which is created by the beginning chain 3 stitches from the previous row) otherwise your stitch count will be wrong and your edge will be wonky. 

I hope this helps! X

Thursday, 28 January 2016

A Busy Week

I’ve had an unusually busy time this week. Firstly, I went out for a meal with EC, PDMC and JA at handmade burger co. on Friday evening. A huge disadvantage of being vegan is that it can be virtually impossible to eat out with family and friends, but I like eating here as the staff are friendly and welcoming and it’s also one of the few places locally where I can easily get a vegan meal. They recently altered their vegetarian menu so they now have four vegan burgers on offer -Cajun Vegetable and Bean, Spinach and Lentil, Sweet Potato and Bean and Chickpea and Quinoa, all of which are pretty yummy and well worth a try even if you aren’t vegan.

Afterwards we went to the cinema to see ‘Creed’. I don’t generally rate Sylvester Stallone as an actor but he impressed me in this - despite Michael B. Jordan's solid performance, he pretty much stole the show.

There are a few corny bits (it is a Rocky film after all) but there’s some genuinely touching moments, too. The sparring scenes were incredible and I felt like they set the pace of the film as it led up to the final, graphic fight scene.

It gets a big thumbs-up from me!

I popped round to see my sister the following afternoon as it was her 40th birthday. My mum made her this cake. It's really lovely isn't it?

Then at the beginning of the week I picked up some more yarn so that I can finish the jumper that I started for EC just before Christmas. 

The jumper is a pretty simple pattern and it’s done in aran yarn so it shouldn’t take me long to finish it off, which will be good because she gets particularly cold at the moment.

It's annoying because I always seem to run out of yarn right in the middle of a project. Some might say that this is bad planning on my behalf (!) but in my defense I think that it's usually because I try to use the leftovers in my stash first and I just seriously overestimate how much I have.

I also got some new watercolour pencils the other day. I've never used watercolour pencils before and have no real idea how to use them, so i just did a bit of experimental doodling with them last night. 

I’m going to have a look online and see if there's any tutorials on how to use them and hope to spend a bit of time this weekend practicing. 

Hopefully I'll be able to create something with them which is a bit less hideous than this!

I think another one of the reasons that I’ve seemed so busy this week is the huge amount of waiting around that I’ve done. There just seems to have been massive queues in shops and delays for buses, on the ‘phone, in traffic, everywhere!  I suspect the reason for this will turn out to be that an important planet in my sign is retrograde or that the planets are temporarily aligned at some sort of a disadvantageous position for me. It looks like until this changes I’m just going to have to cope with feeling super-frustrated that I’ve not made as much progress in certain areas as I wanted to this week. X

Friday, 22 January 2016

Crochet Mittens

I was hunting around for something the other day and found these almost-finished chunky mittens stuffed in the bottom of a drawer.

I started these way back in April last year whilst I was doing Jury Service, as I wanted a quick and simple project to do during the (inevitable) waiting around. As it turned out I was discharged after the third day and for one reason or another I never got round to finishing them.

At first I was thinking that there was still lots to complete on them, but when I looked properly there was only a thumb to crochet and a side seam to sew up. It makes me feel marginally ashamed for leaving them for so long!

They are made from James C. Brett Marble Chunky in shade 42, which is 100% acrylic and the pattern is available Here.

I think they'll be really useful as it's particularly cold and wintry here at the moment. x

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Creative Every Day Challenge and KCACO-Groovyghan CAL 2016

Hello again! I hope you are all well and looking forward to another creative year. I know I am. I haven't managed to show you any of my crafty stuff over the last couple of years so I've signed up for Leah's Creative Every Day Challenge again this year- hopefully this will also remind me to post here a bit more often.

I've also joined in with Heather's Crochet-A-Long which has started over at Keep Calm and Crochet on-UK. I didn't really want to buy any new yarn for this project as the plan is to use up leftover yarn from old projects, but I really don't think I will have enough yarn to finish it. We're still on the first part of the CAL though, so I have plenty of time to obsess over my dwindling stash and to raid the wool shop when I run out.

Like many people, I had Part 1 (a series of 10 granny squares) crocheted up within a couple of days. My colour choice was heavily influenced by the stripy cardigan EC is making and because I'd been thinking about things to crochet for Valentine's Day. Can you tell?!

I decided to do each of the five rounds in a different colour and each square alike as I had a lot of very small balls of yarn to use. I ran out of purple before I finished all ten of the squares so made a four-square granny using the remaining four colours, which looks OK.