Mums are brilliant!

Well, mine is anyway.

I have just had a big bowl of apple crumble because my mum came up to see my sister and me just after her birthday and she brought us gifts!

Lots of yummy fruit and veg from the garden. Mmmm…

So I now have loads of tomatos, some little squashes which will be perfect for stuffing and baking. Although if I’m feeling lazy I’ll  just slice ’em and roast ’em in lots of oil. And apples… LOTS of apples.

My parents live in the countryside and have multiple apple trees and so this year we have a bumper crop. I see apple sauce in my future. And at least one more crumble. Another reason why my mum’s brilliant is that she is a fantastic cook . She taught me to make crumbles. Pretty much my favourite dessert.

I haven’t taken a picture of the crumble because, well,  you know what apple crumble looks like. You also know that I don’t have a good enough camera to make it look pretty. I really should invest at some point. If I’m going to write a food blog, having a reasonable camera is kind of a good idea.

The best thing about making apple crumble is that you can have it for breakfast. Coffee and apple crumble. If you haven’t done it, you really should. Especially if like me you use 50/50 flour and oats for the crumble, so you can kind of kid yourself it’s like having porridge (but better)!

Folded crocus scarf

Folded crocus scarf

Anyway, so it being Mama’s birthday El and I got together and spent an hour or so hunting through patterns on Ravelry and narrowing down our choices. El had a much clearer idea of our mother’s taste than I do and made suggestions of what I should look for, while I plugged ideas into the database and pondered yarn choices and yardages.

We decided on Laura Rintala’s Crocus Scarf but decided to do as many extra pattern repeats as we could get out fo the yarn because we wanted something a bit more luxurious looking than the photos.

Then we popped down to Loop in Islington and caused chaos pulling all the DK and sock yarn out of the shelves and failing to stack it back again properly. (I think everyone does this but it’s hard not to feel self-conscious as you take your hand away and it all comes cascading down on your head… again!) Eventually El came to a decision and we went with the classic: Malabrigo sock in Botticelli Red.

Now I don’t need to wax lyrical about Malabrigo sock yarn. If you’re reading this blog the chances are you know about Malabrigo sock yarn. Pure, soft, soft merino lusciousness and beeeeeyooooootiful colours. Sigh.

The whole scarf

The whole scarf

So I set to work and found that this was a really addictive and fun pattern. It’s simple to memorise but interesting enough to  give you that ‘just one more row’ feeling. The way the pattern works up is cool and it looks far better in real life than in any photo I’ve yet seen. Congratulations Laura for a job well done.

Having done a couple of extra pattern repeats I wasn’t in a position to  do the edging that the pattern recommends for each end so instead I just did a quick row of UK dc/US sc down the sides to neaten things up. A light blocking and we were done.

This was a very quick and satisfying project and thankfully, yes, she likes it. I want to make sure she gets at least another birthday present or two but for now I’m really happy to have got this done and that it really was a joint effort with El in design and me in manufacture. And if you’re thinking of making a quick lace scarf I definitely recommend the pattern. Fast, fun and a great result.

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Work in Progress Wednesday Take 1

Top of chevron lace cardigan

Top of chevron lace cardigan

Tami’s Amis started a Work in Progress Wednesdays Meme which I thought was a good idea.

I’m not sure I’m going to be able to make this is a regular feature as my work life is picking up at the moment but I thought I’d join in this time as it sounds fun.

At the moment I have all sorts of work mid-hook. I really need to get cracking and finish a few of them but I have been trying to learn patience from my knitting friends and make some more substantial and satisfying garments.

There are two cardigans. One is a navy blue chevron lace cardigan based on this pattern from Without Seams. It is a second attempt because although I like the first attempt I wanted to adapt the pattern a little. It’s a very simple adaptable top down pattern.

The second is a top down slip stitch crochet cardigan with a decorative yolk and a plain body. I am currently trying to decide whether it will have sleeves.

First attempt at slip stitching

First attempt at slip stitching

Both of the above are in horrid Robin acrylic DK. I don’t use this yarn except as an experimental yarn. I lack confidence when it comes to bigger garments with shaping and so on so I have shied away from using nice yarn until I feel I’ve got the hang of this a bit better. I had (along with so many others) a very expensive mistake in my past which I may tell you some time if you ask nicely.

That said the slip stitch cardy looks remarkably classy even so. Something in the texture is bringing out the best in the yarn. It’s creating a depth and variation of colour that doesn’t actually exist.

I’m somewhat thrilled to have discovered slip stitching because it’s a way of making crochet more solid and drapey. It has a subtlety that normal crochet lacks and can make things that look not dissimilar to knitting. So yay for more variety of styling in my craft! Also yay for knit look garments that take less time than knitting. (Although they are still slower than ordinary crochet.)

Sexy red lace

Sexy red lace

Then there is a lace thread shawlette. It’s pure deep red wool and is a straightforward lace shawlette. I have been a little bit uncertain about this from time to time as the lace was less delicate than I had originally hoped. Also I  haven’t been able to keep track of the stitch count very effectively so there’s been some ruffling and cupping to contend with.

Still it looks pretty good actually on and I’m feeling more confident that it’ll be pretty once it’s finished.  When I get to the outer edge I’m going to add some more lace to that too. I’m really hoping it’ll block out well.

Although the shawlette and the slip stitch cardy are all improvised I’m not going to be putting the patterns up. I don’t want to have to work out sizing for the cardy and to be honest I can’t remember how I did the shawlette. They are all just going to have to be one offs.

Hurry up and dry!

Hurry up and dry!

I have another project on the go which I can’t talk about because I think it’s going to be a gift. It just depends on how it turns out. I’m having lots of fun with another new technique but I don’t know whether it will be good enough to actually give to someone.

Finally I have unravelled a cashmere cardigan of mine that got moth holes and anyway never really suited me. The colour was way too bright. I’ve dyed the yarn with a navy dye and am currently waiting for it to dry. So this is a pre-work in progress.

If I really concentrated the chevron lace cardigan could be an FO in no time but I’m enjoying it less than the lace and the slip stitch so I’m being lazy with it. The gift has some complicated aspects that have held it back a little but I need to grit my teeth and give it another go. The slip stitch is just a mindless project great for sitting in front of the TV and the red shawlette fits in a bag and is good for when I’m out and about. Of cours what I suspect will happen is that I will finish none of them but will instead start on something with my newly dyed cashmere…


Picnic Bag

This is the notorious picnic bag which started me off crocheting with string. Look at it.

AKA the heavily adapted Mothers Day Bag

The finished picnic bag

It looks so innocent! Don’t be fooled. This blessed thing had me tearing my hair out before I got it right. You however get to learn from my mistakes and make a third of the time.

First though you should understand it’s in no way the fault of the original pattern designer. I take full responsiblity for my own stupidity. I wanted to make this but in string and slightly bigger than the original pattern. To work the string I had to use a 6mm hook. Each stitch came out roughly 1cm sq. I couldn’t understand how to check the gauge from the pattern properly. I am a newbie at crochet and had no idea just how much bigger my version would be.

Suffice to say I didn’t make a bag. I made a small hammock. I could have tied it to an overhanging tree and the little girl downstairs could have played in it merrily all summer.The slimmer of my friends could have curled up with a book in it. But I stubbornly persisted to the end. Then I held it up against myself, laughed myself silly and ripped it right out back down to the row 22.

If you look on the pattern you’ll see that row 22 is where the first vertical side section with no increase ends. I did another row without increasing and then started back on the pattern with one significant difference. Where the pattern gave three non-increase rows between each increase row I did four. ‘That’ll do it!’ I thought.

Wrong!

I got to about row 40 and realised I was still making something in which I could smuggle small children or large dogs if necessary. I have no children or large dogs. I have no intention of borrowing a small child or large dog and carrying it around in my bag. Time for a more radical re-think.

I made the handles in the meantime. That took a  good few goes to get right as well. Honestly gauge is a tricksy thing.

So, back to the body of the bag again.

This summer had better be sunny.

I ripped it back down to row 15 this time and started to make the sides with 5 straight rows between each increase row. This time it worked. I made the bag up to row 44 the fastened off and sewed on the handles.

I should probably mention that I had been into my local corner shop twice to buy string in three days. And that I had bought a total of fourteen balls of string in that time. And that my local shopkeeper was a little confused. And that I now have three enormous balls of string in my house from the unravelled hammock.

I will never need to buy string again.

OK so the adapted pattern I used goes like this. I am aware that I may get into copyright trouble and have to take this down. I will edit if I do.

Make a magic loop in ordinary parcel string with a 6mm hook.

Rnd 1 (RS): Work 6 sc in loop; join with sl st in first sc – 6 sc at the end of this rnd.
Rnd 2: Ch 1, 2 sc in each sc around; join with sl st in first sc – 12 sc at the end of this rnd.
Rnd 3: Ch 1, *sc in next sc, 2 sc in next sc; rep from * around; join with sl st in first sc – 18 sc at the end of this rnd.
Rnd 4: Ch 1, *2 sc in next sc, sc in next 2 sc; rep from * around; join with sl st in first sc – 24 sc at the end of this rnd.
Rnd 5: Ch 1, *sc in next 3 sc, 2 sc in next sc; rep from * around; join with sl st in first sc – 30 sc at the end of this rnd.
Rnd 6: Ch 1, sc in next sc, 2 sc in next sc, *sc in next 4 sc, 2 sc in next sc; rep from * around to last 3 sc, sc in last 3 sc; join with sl st in first sc – 36 sc at the end of this rnd.
Rnd 7: Ch 1, *sc in next 5 sc, 2 sc in next sc; rep from * around; join with sl st in first sc – 42 sc at the end of this rnd.
Rnd 8: Ch 1, sc in next 2 sc, 2 sc in next sc, *sc in next 6 sc, 2 sc in next sc; rep from * around to last 4 sc, sc in last 4 sc; join with sl st in first sc – 48 sc at the end of this rnd.
Rnd 9: Ch 1, *sc in next 7 sc, 2 sc in next sc; rep from * around; join with sl st in first sc – 54 sc at the end of this rnd.
Rnd 10: Ch 1, sc in next 3 sc, 2 sc in next sc, *sc in next 8 sc, 2 sc in next sc; rep from * around to last 5 sc, sc in last 5 sc; join with sl st in first sc – 60 sc at the end of this rnd.
Rnd 11: Ch 1, *sc in next 9 sc, 2 sc in next sc; rep from * around; join with sl st in first sc – 66 sc at the end of this rnd.
Rnd 12: Ch 1, sc in next 4 sc, 2 sc in next sc, *sc in next 10 sc, 2 sc in next sc; rep from * around to last 6 sc, sc in last 6 sc; join with sl st in first sc – 72 sc at the end of this rnd.
Rnd 13: Ch 1, *sc in next 11 sc, 2 sc in next sc; rep from * around; join with sl st in first sc – 78 sc at the end of this rnd.
Rnd 14: Ch 1, sc in next 5 sc, 2 sc in next sc, *sc in next 12 sc, 2 sc in next sc; rep from * around to last 7 sc, sc in last 7 sc; join with sl st in first sc – 84 sc at the end of this rnd.
Rnd 15: Ch 1, *sc in next 13 sc, 2 sc in next sc; rep from * around; join with sl st in first sc – 90 sc at the end of this rnd.
Rnds 16-20: Ch 1, sc in each sc around; join with sl st in first sc.
Rnd 21: Ch 1, sc in next 6 sc, 2 sc in next sc, *sc in next 14 sc, 2 sc in next sc; rep from * around to last 8 sc, sc in last 8 sc; join with sl st in first sc – 96 sc at the end of this rnd.
Rnds 22-26: Ch 1, sc in each sc around; join with sl st in first sc.
Rnd 27: Ch 1, *sc in next 15 sc, 2 sc in next sc; rep from * around; join with sl st in first sc – 102 sc at the end of this rnd.
Rnd 28-32: Ch 1, sc in each sc around; join with sl st in first sc.
Rnd 33: Ch 1, sc in next 7 sc, 2 sc in next sc, *sc in next 16 sc, 2 sc in next sc; rep from * around to last 9 sc, sc in last 9 sc; join with sl st in first sc – 108 sc at the end of this rnd.
Rnds 34-38: Ch 1, sc in each sc around; join with sl st in first sc.
Rnd 39: Ch 1, *sc in next 17 sc, 2 sc in next sc; rep from * around; join with sl st in first sc – 114 sc at the end of this rnd.
Rnd 40-44: Ch 1, sc in each sc around; join with sl st in first sc.

Fasten off and weave in ends. Make handles according to directions in original pattern. As I used the darker, softer, thinner string which I also used to make the band on my 1950s hat I had to double this string up to make the handles. I used a 6mm hook to make the handles too.

I sewed the handles with their ends at the top of row 33 and approximately one third of the way across each side. I tried to measure accurately but measuring accurately is not my forte. It looks alright and with the lovely hat I made earlier and a light cotton dress it will make for a pretty outfit for a sunny day.

The bag matches, the hat matches...