Saturday, 23 December 2017

Merry Christmas x

Hello again. I hope everyone is well and is managing to keep sane at this impossibly busy time of year. I feel surprisingly calm and unusually organised, which is a bit of a shock to me as I had a lot more organizing to do than I would have normally. This is because my little family is coming to me for Christmas day for the first time in a long time and I want to make it a special day for them like they have done for me over the last 6 years or so. So over the last few weeks I have bought and wrapped presents, food shopped and thoroughly deep cleaned the flat. I know that millions of people do this every year but this is a big achievement for me as I really struggle to cope with everyday tasks and often need help with things.

I have also spent a lot of time making decorations. I don’t usually decorate or put up a tree mainly because I’m not normally here, but this year I was determined to be a bit more festive. As I didn’t have a lot of spare cash to buy decorations and don't really go in for the glittery type of Christmas these days, I set to with the yarn and crochet hook instead.

I began by making some pom pom Christmas puddings. The pattern for the holly and berries comes from this book.

I still have the holly and berries to complete on these...

...mainly because I got distracted by making some new crochet paper chains to add on to my existing ones, using this pattern here.

I made an alarming amount of pom poms which I tied to some battery operated LED lights. At this stage I was formulating a plan for an alternative Christmas tree. My flat is very small and there is simply no room for a tree of any kind. I shared my idea with EC who just said 'right...' 

I lost a bit of confidence and nearly changed my mind but in the end I persisted with it. I looked on Pinterest for inspiration. As the plan grew, so did the pile of baubles I crocheted around.

I was then ready to create/ decorate my tree. I moved some things which I'd piled in front of my tall step ladders and placed them centrally against the wall. They live in this spot permanently as there is no cupboard to store them in and they are visible from my living room. I began by added the lights, working diagonally across the front of each step. It took a long time to secure them and to arrange the pom poms evenly. I then threaded the baubles onto bakers string and tied these horizontally across the bottom of each step so that the baubles lined up neatly. I added the few decorations I had, trying to space them evenly down the full length of the steps. I completed each section with a couple of colour-change light up Christmas parcels. The final job was to add the tree topper, a bright red light up star! So here it is, my alternative Christmas tree!

Do you like it? I think it is hilarious and cute at the same time. It also looks OK unlit which is good because the string lights, Christmas parcels and star are battery operated and I'm almost certain to run out of batteries at some point.

I feel like it's a bit silly and there is an element of irony with it too. Mainly because my ceilings are very tall and I need to use step ladders to switch on the lights on the star and the upper Christmas parcels! 

I'm sending my love to you all out there in blogland and wish you all a fun and festive Christmas. See you all in the New Year x

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Flower square baby blanket

Last year I started making these adorable little flower squares. My intention was to make two cushion covers out of them for my living room as the current ones were looking a bit shabby. At some point during the process I got bored of making them though and changed my mind. I then decided to revert back to the original baby blanket pattern which the squares came from but got a bit sidetracked and the whole thing just ended up being plonked in the drawer with all my other UFO’s. 

Making the baby hats a couple of weeks ago reminded me that this project was still sitting there, unfinished and unloved. So it then became a bit of a mission to finish it.

In the original pattern, the blanket is made from 221 squares which are joined to form a rectangle. It is then edged with a DC/picot border. As it is made from 4 ply yarn and a 2.5 mm hook each square is only a dainty 5 cm (2"). Really cute, but I wanted to use up some of my stash for this so I simply replaced the yarn with DK and the hook size to 4 mm. which gave a slightly less delicate square measuring 3". When I went back to the project, I realised that I had made a massive 61 squares!

I wanted my baby blanket to be roughly the same size as in the pattern but I didn’t want to make any more squares. In the end, I worked out that a width of 6 squares and a length of 9 squares would give me a similar sized blanket.This would also use 53 of the squares. I had already joined some of them so it wasn’t too much work to get to a reasonable sized rectangle. 

I felt like my blanket was really floppy at this point and was a bit worried that it wouldn't drape or even fold very well. I considered adding a very deep border to it to give it some stability but after adding three rows of DC in white around the edge it seemed a lot better. I didn't want to complete the blanket with a picot edging like in the pattern because I felt like it was a bit too delicate for the yarn I had used so I crocheted 4 rows of granny stripe in contrasting colours, followed by a row of DC. I then added a small shell edging. 

I think that it is very pretty and it has the advantage of making the blanket slightly larger as well. 

I'm particularly proud of my corners! They turned out to be very neat and the shell goes around the corner in the same way in all four. Go me!

The finished blanket measures approximately 59 x 84 cm (23 x 33"). 

It looks a bit wonky and I'm not sure that I did the best job of joining the squares but it's colourful and fun. 

It's a really lovely pattern and the squares are surprisingly easy to make, if a little fiddly. They also become a bit tedious to make after a while and I can't imagine ever having the patience to make 221 of them! But I do think the results are really lovely.

I also think it's an easy pattern to adapt if you don't want to make quite so many squares and you can really personalise it with your own edging. I bet it would work up really quickly and be unbelievably snugly in a chunky yarn too. 

The pattern for the flower square baby blanket is by Sue Whiting and it appears in her book Learn to crochetFunnily enough, this is the book that I learned to crochet from back in 2011 ❤  x

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Baby hats and scrap yarn ball 2017

Hello again, I hope you are all well? I haven’t been feeling too good at all over the last few weeks. I really don’t know if this is because I overdid it a bit when I repainted my bathroom last month or whether I just picked up a bug or something, but I’ve had a very unsettled stomach. Unfortunately this isn’t massively unusual for me. I had my gallbladder removed in 2010 and have had ongoing problems with bile acid malabsorption. I now take colestyramine every day (which has been something of a wonder drug for me) but I still get times where I end up with the same symptoms and I’m always left wondering why! Needless to say, I haven’t really been up to much and have spent most of my time at home trying to rest and recuperate. 

EC knew I was seriously fed up and suggested to me that I make some newborn baby hats for the labour and delivery ward at Hull Women and Children's Hospital, as they had just put out this request on Facebook for knitted newborn baby hats.

Newborn Baby Hats

I thought this was a lovely idea! It was also quite practical for me to do as well. Each row doesn't take very long when you make such tiny things so it meant that I could just lie on the sofa and do a row as and when I felt like it (inbetween the bouts of stomach ache and nausea).

I immediately set about finding a pattern I liked on Ravelry and came across this lovely blog Mamma That Makes. She has so many free crochet patterns, including lots of baby hats. I honestly don't know why I haven't seen this blog before but I suppose that I don't really look at a lot of crochet patterns for baby things because I don't actually crochet them a great deal. This is very different to EC who just loves making baby clothes and probably has most of the baby crochet patterns on Ravelry saved to her library! Anyway, I just fell in love with The Shelle Beanie as soon as I saw it and knew it was the right one for me to make! 

The Shelle Beanie

I decided to crochet the first one all in one colour to familiarise myself with the pattern. I've done a lot of mixed-stitch colourwork since I started crocheting and know that if you're struggling with a new pattern, a colour change as well as a stitch change on every row can really throw a spanner in the works. This pattern was really quite simple to make though and worked up quickly. I love how it has turned out to be so pretty and delicate-looking.

I then started on the second hat. For this one, I tried to stick closer to the actual colours from the pattern although I didn't have any blue so I substituted purple for it. I think that it worked out OK and has a slightly Christmassy feel to it. 

I made my third hat out of some scraps of yarn left over from another project. I really like how the colours work in this one, but I do wish I'd added in a contrasting colour for those two blue rows in the pattern. Despite that, I think it's incredibly pretty!

I am really pleased with how these turned out. I was hoping to make a few more this week but they do take a while to crochet and the ends took me forever to weave in. I think i spent nearly as long weaving the ends in as I did actually crocheting it.

I didn't take any photos of the hats before I had woven in the ends, but this is the amount of ends left over from the second hat! 

None of these go to waste though as I still methodically add each little snippet to my scrap yarn ball. 

For those of you who haven't read my post about this, my scrap yarn ball is a ball of yarn which is made from all of those tiny scraps of yarn which are left over when I've finished a project. Each little scrap is carefully knotted to the next and added to the ball. It's developed into being a habit and I have to admit that I don't really think about it much anymore, or normally notice how big that the ball has got. 

Until today when I pretty much had to wedge it on the windowsill to take a photo.

When I looked back at my old posts to see exactly how long ago it was that I had written about it, I was really surprised to see that this was in 2013. This means that I have been adding yarn to this ball over five years! It's not really any wonder that it is absolutely huge now. I got the scales out earlier just to see how much it weighs.

I wasn't really expecting it to weigh quite that much! Just in case you can't see that, it says 1.7 kg. I think that's quite a lot for something people would usually just throw away.

I am hoping to make something with this at some point but it's actually quite difficult to decide what. In my imagination I can see me swanning around in some sort of cloak made from it, but realistically I know that this will never happen. I think that's partly because I suspect that it will be fiddly to make something out of this anyway (I'm thinking novelty yarns and sighing) but mostly because I know that I am nowhere near as cool as I would need to be to pull off a cloak generally, never mind one made from lots of different weight scrap yarn!

I'd love to hear any ideas you might have for using my scrap yarn or if you have ever made anything which you haven't worn because you didn't think you were cool enough to get away with it! Until next time X

Sunday, 13 August 2017

My bathroom

This week, I had intended to give the flat a really good clean and tidy but I got a little bit distracted by my battered bathroom walls and ended up repainting the room as well. Predictably, it ended up taking me a lot longer than I thought it would to complete. I think I say this a lot, but I often feel quite surprised by the amount of time it takes me to physically do things. Even simple tasks seem to take me forever to do. I don’t know if this is because I am an unusually slow worker or because I seriously underestimate the amount of time I need to allow for each thing, but it is really frustrating. In spite of this, I have to admit that I am a fairly thorough person and truly believe that if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing properly. So time is not always a factor for me.

The walls were already cream, so I simply repainted them the same colour. 

I would have preferred to have painted the walls a stronger colour but my landlord is not really open to this. It isn't really a problem for me as I think it's fairly easy to add colour into a room with accessories anyway. It also keeps things from looking too cluttered, especially as my flat is very small.

I kept my ceiling white, but changed the gloss finish on the door and frame to satinwood as I think this is a bit softer and more modern. 

It seemed very bare without all the clutter which usually lives in here, but it was good to get everything out for a thorough clean. After I'd finished the painting, I decided that I needed some better storage for my towels, so I popped into Argos for this towel rail which also has a shelf.

It seemed a bit flimsy when I took it out of the box, but it screwed together quickly and it is super sturdy once it is fixed to the wall.

I've been storing my spare towels on a shelf in the bedroom so think that this will be a lot better, as all my towels will be handy for when I need them.

I think that it looks quite smart despite being inexpensive. I like that the shiny chrome matches with my taps and shower screen, too.

This wall mounted rail is a lot better than the floor standing rail I had been using and it holds a surprising amount. I feel like my towels will dry a bit better on it. 

I've nearly put everything back in the room but I've tried to avoid too much clutter. I've always loved my bathroom and it was a huge factor in my choosing to rent this flat 6 years ago, so I am really happy that it continues to be a very peaceful space. 

I still have a few jobs to do like putting my robe hanger on to the back of the door and picking up a new toilet roll holder etc. but it is pretty much finished. Apart from getting some nice new towels of course. I haven't quite decided on the colour I'd like for those yet but I am veering towards apple green or orange, which will give a nice splash of colour. 

I have to admit that I am very tired now and think that I need a holiday to recuperate! I also feel overwhelmed by the thought of cleaning the rest of the flat, which has become even more untidy and dirtier than it was this time last week. It looks like I have another busy week ahead! X

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Camper van tote bag and easy needle case pattern

A little while ago I started making a reversible tote bag. I never finished it because I ran out of red thread and kept forgetting to go and buy some more. It was eventually consigned to the drawer where my unfinished projects go to hibernate and sadly, sometimes to die. I suddenly remembered about it last week when I was looking at some fabric online, so it then became a bit of a mission to go and get the thread and to finish it.

I was thinking that there was a lot to do on it but there was actually very little to finish. It was just a case of sewing the two layers together and attaching the handles, which didn’t take very long at all. 

I’m a bit disappointed because there are a few marks where my (fairly new) pins had rusted in the fabric. Perhaps it has been sitting there longer than I thought. I also managed to get a twist in one of my handles, which is super annoying but not sufficiently so that I would unpick it and do it again. 

Sewing is not my first love and I’m always a bit relieved when things come out looking OK. I’m sure no one will notice that the handle is twisted and if they do and it bothers them, they are truly welcome to sort it out for me.

Anyway, when I’d finished, I turned my bag inside out (to admire how reversible it is) and some scraps of the camper van fabric fell out. 

As I had the sewing machine out already, I thought it’d be fun to make something out of it rather than just stuffing it back into the fabric drawer.There wasn’t much to work with though! 

I spontaneously decided that I would make a needle case for my shiny new yarn needles as I’ve managed to lose my yarn needle case (with all my best yarn needles in it) at some point over the last month. I didn’t bother looking online for a pattern and just used my everyday sewing needle case as guide. This one here ↓

It took me ages to figure out how to do it and I’m sure there are simpler ways and easier patterns. But I quite like how it turned out and it’s a good size for when I’m crocheting. 

I like a needle case to be small enough to rest on the arm of the sofa so that I don't use the actual arm as a pin cushion. Which I freely admit to doing sometimes. 

Mine is a bit wonky but it all adds to the charm.

I aren't sure that my sewing is particularly neat either but I'm happy with it. Sewing in a straight line is harder than it looks!

I wrote the pattern up so that I’ll be able to refer back to it if I want to make another one and also so that anyone who likes it can make one too. Happy sewing! x


The size of the finished needle case is approximately:

9.5 x 7 cm when closed and 9.5 x 14 cm when open.

Please note that all sizes are approximate and that my diagrams are (very definitely) not to scale. 


Cut three rectangles in main fabric:

I used a polyester/cotton blend but any light to medium weight fabric would work well. It is not suitable for heavy weight curtain or upholstery fabric.

  • 20 x 16 cm 
  • 16 x 7 cm
  • 8.5 x 7 cm 
One rectangle in coordinating fabric:

This can be anything you like as it is not visible when the needle case is finished. However it is best to use something which coordinates with your main fabric as it may show through if you are using a particularly thin or light coloured main fabric. 
  • 20 x 16 cm
One rectangle of felt:
  • 9 x 7 cm
Matching thread

Loop and Strap fastening.

1. Using the 8.5 x 7 cm piece of fabric, make the loop. 

Fold the fabric in half lengthwise (with wrong sides together) to find the middle. Press lightly. This creates a centre fold line.

Open the fabric back out and using the centre fold as a guide, fold the long sides (with wrong sides together) so that the raw edges meet in the middle. Press.

Fold the short ends over about 1/2 cm and press into place. Trim the corners.

Fold in half lengthwise and press into place. Sew around all four sides and place to one side.

2. Using the 16 x 7 cm piece of fabric, make the strap. 

Fold the fabric in half lengthwise to find the middle. Press lightly. This creates a centre fold line.

Open the fabric back out and using the centre fold as a guide, fold the long sides so that the raw edges meet in the middle. Press.

Fold ONE end over about 1/2 cm and press into place. Trim the corners.

Fold in half lengthwise and press into place. Sew around THREE sides and place to one side.

Assemble the needle case

Fold the 20 x 16 piece of the main fabric in half (with wrong sides together). Press lightly.

Fold in half again.Press lightly, and unfold the fabric.

There will be fold lines which divide the fabric into quarters and which make it easier to see where to sew the loop and strap on.

Sew the loop along it's short edges to attach it to the top left hand quarter of the fabric.

Pin the strap in the bottom right hand quarter of the fabric. The raw edge should overhang the main fabric a little and the rest of the strap should face inwards and across the section.

It should look something like this.

Lay the coordinating 20 x 16 cm piece of fabric over the main fabric and (with right sides together) sew the side seams.

Press the seams open and turn to the right side. 

Fold in half, making sure that the loop is on the inside, and sew the two raw edges together.

Turn to the right side and press.Top stitch around all four sides. 

Turn over and stitch the felt across the middle of the fabric. 

Give it a press and it's ready to use! x

*This is my own pattern and while I’d be thrilled to bits if you used it to make a needle case for yourself, as a gift, for charity or to sell, I’d appreciate it if you would acknowledge me as the author. Please don’t sell the pattern itself.

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