28 February 2013

Seat of the Problem

Look at those crochet beauties, don't they look a glorious sight?

They came about because I had a problem.  

Quite some time ago, I managed to get hold of some lovely Laura Ashley seat cushions.  They were in the sales too, so that was a bonus.  The only trouble is, they attach to my dining room chairs by some little strings which you tie around the chairs, no doubt you know the sort.  Now that is fine if you are very careful when sitting down and on said cushions.  If you are prepared to be a group of perfectly still and pristinely sat diners.   Not so good for bum wigglers, seat shufflers and 'kneeler uppers'.  Guess which group my family belongs to?

Exactly so, which is why my cushions are no longer on their respective chairs and the corners where strings used to be look like this.

Not exactly ideal.  Not what I wish to see in the 'Pretty Crafty Home' that I'm still trying so hard to create.  So I needed a plan to rectify the situation!

My plan (although my sister says she played a large part in the origins of this one), was to crochet new covers for the cushions and hope some fabulous idea for tackling the 'ties' problem would come to me as I went along.

I'm been having  thoughts of circles in squares for a while now, so I started making spotty dotty squares at once, using the rest of the Patons Smoothie DK that I used for my Riot scarf.  I definitely hadn't had enough of those pretty colours and it was such lovely yarn to knit with I hoped it would be just a lovely to crochet with too.  

I kept them nice and simple, just 16 squares stitched together with a granny square for the back.  It took me ages to get this project done though, for some reason I kept procrastinating and diverting my attention to other, quicker and more instantly satisfying things.  Finally, I forced myself to knuckle down and plough on with them and I'm so glad I did, because I love the results.

'And what was your fabulous and inspirational idea to solve the tie problem?'
'Yeah, well.... (shuffle feet)... umm....'

The answer is, nothing came to me.  Nothing at all.

In the end I decided just to go with the same simple ties as the original cushions had used.  I'm hoping, very hard indeed, that the fact they are crocheted into the actual cushion and the fact that the crochet will naturally be a bit more flexible, will be enough to make them last longer and stay in place.  Hoping really hard.  We'll see, I'll keep you posted.

Oh, and one more thing.

The circle in squares pattern is my own little creation.  (Although I'm sure there must be a hundred variations on this theme available out there.)
Still, I'll be posting a tutorial for these particular ones of mine very soon, in case you fancied making some.

S x

26 February 2013

Stripy Mitts

Hurrah, the day has finally arrived!

The Stripy Mitts are now here and apparently no more imaginative name than that comes with them.  Still, it does what it says on the tin I suppose.  They are mitts and they are stripy, you simply can't dispute it.

I've rather excelled myself if I do say so.  I have the pattern ready and waiting for you to download and get stuck straight into.  But, in case you're not so confident with your crochet, or following written patterns easily then you might be interested to know that there's a tutorial as well.  I know, amazing!

But, before that joyous moment arrives I thought I would share a little bit about these mitts as they haven't had their moment of blog time up to now.

I kind of made them to go with my Riot scarf.  Why I took it into my head to make them with a totally different yarn and crochet them instead of knit them, I can't explain.  I did know I wanted them to be buttony though.  In my head, I had an image of a Victorian ladies boot, with buttons all up the side.  You know the ones that needed a special button hook to do all teeny buttons up with?

The best bit was playing with the buttons at the end though.  As you may imagine, it took me a little while to arrange and rearrange them into a pleasingly effortless random configuration.  While smiling at the irony of the amount of work it takes to achieve the 'effortless' effect.

I'm very happy with these little beauties and I've been wearing them a lot.  Even in the colder weather, I wear them over the top of a pair of normal gloves to jazz them up and that pleases me a great deal.

But, it'd be cruel to deny you any longer, so I won't dilly dally further.

I thought I'd give you a few options to choose from....

I want to download the written pattern (PDF file) right now 
(You can download it at any time from the Cherry Heart Boutique.)

Take me to the photo tutorial please
(The link can be found on the TUTORIALS page.)

Show me the pattern on Ravelry so I can queue it for later
(You'll find links for the pattern and the tutorial there.)


S x

Stripy Mitts Tutorial

 - Tricky

For a written version of the pattern,

What you'll need:

  • 170 (approx) yards of sport or light DK yarn in various colours - I used Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino (See the Stripy Mitts pattern page for colour information)
  • 3.5mm (USA E) hook - or whichever size you need to use to get the correct fit
  • 14 buttons approx 1cm ( 3/8") diameter - you can use 14 the same or a mismatched collection, like I did
  • Yarn needle
  • Needle and thread for sewing on buttons

  • Crochet Terms:

    This pattern is written in UK terms. 
    American terms are given below in green.

    British (American)
    ss - Slip Stitch (Slip Stitch)
    ch - Chain (Chain)
    dc - Double (Single)
    htr - Half Treble (Half Double)
    tr - Treble (Double)
    dtr - Double Treble (Treble)

    Start with a chain of 38 (That's 36 for the stitches and 2 for the turning chain)

    Then in the 3rd chain from the hook, make a half-treble.

    Carry on along the row, making a half-treble stitch in each chain until you get to the end.  You should have 36 stitches.

    A word on getting the fit right:
    You may need to experiment a little bit with the number of stitches to get the fit just right for you.  This worked out just fine for me, and I'd say my hands are about medium.  However, we're all different so if you want to vary the size, you need to change the starting chain by 3 each time.  So, if you want a tighter fit, start with 3 less chains, 35, or 32 even.  If you want to make a larger mitt, start with 41, or 44 chains, etc.  The pattern will still work out perfectly as written if you stick to this 'rule of 3'.

    Once you've completed your first row, attach a new colour and chain 3 then turn your work.

    This time we're going to do a row of trebles.  So, go along the row, making one treble stitch in each stitch.

    Once you get the the end, attach a new colour, chain 3, turn the work and work another row of trebles.

    Carry on like this, attaching a new colour at the end of each row and making rows of trebles.

    Checking the fit:

    Once you've done about 4 or 5 rows, try wrapping your crochet around your arm and see what sort of fit you're getting.  You want it to wrap around but leave a bit of a gap because we've got to add the button band yet and it'll probably stretch a little with wear too.  If you're not happy with the size, better to change it now before you get even more done.  But if you're happy with the fit then carry on.

    Once you've got 15 stripes all done (like the picture on the left) we're ready to join the mitt into the round.

    Start a new colour and chain 3, but this time, don't turn the work.

    Instead you need to bring the other end of your crochet round as shown in the picture, and our first treble will be made into the other end of the row below. (Where my crochet hook is.)

    This is how it looks once the treble has been made.

    Carry on making trebles all the way along the row as you normally would.

    This picture (above right) shows what it'll lok like when you get back around to the start again.  To finish the round, you just need to make a slip stitch into the top of the chain of 3 that we made at the beginning of the round.  (Where my crochet hook is.)

    That's what it should look like when you're done.

    Now just attach a new colour yarn, chain 3 and make trebles right along the row until you get back to the beginning again.

    Like this, then make a slip stitch into the top of the chain of 3 again to finish the round.

    Make one more round in the same way.  Then make another round, this time, chaining 2 to start and going round in the half-treble stitch.

    Now to begin the edging at the top.  Attach a new yarn colour and chain 1, make a double crochet into the same stitch and then work 1 dc into each stitch along the row until you are back at the beginning again.  Slip stitch into the first dc to finish.  (But don't break the yarn yet.)

    For this next round we're going to work into the back loops of the crochet stitch only.  (See the pink arrow on the right hand photo above.)

    Chain 3, and then make a slip stitch into the same stitch, using the back loop only (this makes a little picot).  See how I only have one loop instead of the normal two.

    Then make a ss into each of the next three stitches.  Then make another picot by chaining 3 and making a ss into the same stitch.  

    Carry on right around in the same way, ss into 3 stitches, then chain 3 and ss into the same stitch.  It should look like this when you're all done.

    Button bands

    IMPORTANT: From now on the instructions will change depending on which handed glove you're making.  So, I'm going to include the instructions for the second glove in pink.  Just ignore those for now though, and carry on following the instructions in black.  We'll come back to the pink bits in a while.

    So, now we're ready to add button bands, so lay the glove down as show in the picture.  We're going to start work on the bottom right corner, on the corner nearest to us.  (Shown by my hook in the picture)

    Second Glove Part 1 - Here's where things need to be done a little different.  So far, everything should look as they do in the picture above, on the right hand side.  We're going to start work in the same place too, where the hook is in that picture.  But, instead of making a row of trebles, like we did last time, we need to  make the button hole band. (Scroll down for 'Second Glove Part 2')

    Start by making a chain of 3, into the end of the htr stripe.  Then you'll need to make 2 treble stitches into the end of each tr stripe.  Use the picture as a guide.  It can be little tricky to wiggle your hook into those side stitches, but do your best.

    Carry on making 2 tr's into each end strip until you have worked you way up to stripe 12.  That should be 23 stitches (including the starting chain as 1 stitch)  Then fasten off the yarn.

    Second Glove Part 2 - So, instead of working a row of trebles into the bands as shown above, you need to work a row of dc's.  You should still have 23 stitches when you are all done.  Then you need to go down and follow steps one to six (as marked below in pink) to complete the button hole band.  Then come back to this point.

    Are you back and all done?  Okay, let's move on to 'Second Glove Part 3'.

    Next, turn the glove over and we want to join the yarn at the top of stripe 12 (as shown by my hook in the picture)

    Chain 1 and make a dc into the same stitch, then work you way back down the stripes, making 2 dc's into the end of each tr stripe and just 1 dc into the last htr stripe.  (Again, you should have 23 stitches in total.)

    Second Glove Part 3 - This time, instead of working the button holes as described above, you'll need to work your row of trebles to make the button band.  So start with your hook in the same place as shown in the picture above on the left and chain 3, then make a row of trebles, 2 in the end of each row, until you get to the last row, which will only have 1 treble.  Again, you should have 23 stitches.  Once this is done, you can scroll down until you get to Second Glove Part 4.

    Chain 1 and turn the work over.  Now we're going to make the button holes. 
    (Step One)

    Make 1 dc into the same stitch, then another dc into the next stitch, then chain 2.
    (Step Two)

    Skipping one stitch from the row below, make a dc into the next stitch.  Then make another dc into the next stitch.  This gives us a little hole for the button to go through.
    (Step Three)

    Carry on up the row, chaining 2, skipping a stitch on the row below and then making 2 dc's.  You should end with 2 dc's and have made 7 little holes.
    (Step Four)

    Turn the work again and make a slip stitch into the 2nd dc, then make 3 dcs into the little hole (chain space), then a slip stitch into each of the two dc's after the space.
    (Step Five)

    Repeat this along the row, making 3dc's into each chain space and a slip stitch into the dc stitches.  When you get to the end, make one last slip stitch into the last dc and fasten off.
    (Step Six) - Now go back up to Second Glove Part 2

    Now it's time to work the thumbhole.  Join the yarn just above the top of the first button band, chain 1 and then make a dc into the same space.

    Work your way up the rest of the opening, make 2 dc's into each strip end.

    Second Glove Part 4 - Now we need to work the thumbhole in almost the same way as we did before.  So start in the same place and follow the instructions as above.

    When you get to the top of one side, simply keep going and work down the other side of the opening (like in the picture above).

    Keep going until you reach the button band on the other side.  We're going to ignore this part of the button band (the part with holes for the buttons to go through), and not crochet into this part at all.

    Second Glove Part 5 - Keep following the instructions until you reach the button band on the other side of the glove, as shown in the picture above on the right.  This time though, we have the band of trebles facing us, and not the band with holes as you see in the picture.  So, we are going to crochet into the end of the button band of trebles.  So make 2 dc's into the end of the band.  Now move onto to Part 6.

    Instead, we're going to jump over to the other button band (made up of treble stitches) and make a dc into that band (see where the hook is in the picture above?).  Pull this one nice and tight, then make another dc into the end of this band and then a slip stitch into your first dc at the beginning of the round.  I got a total of 18 double crochet stitches.

    To complete the thumbhole, we just need to make another round of dc's.  So, chain 1 and make a dc into the same stitch.  Then carry on around, making 1 dc into each stitch, then make a slip stitch into the beginning of the round to finish.

    Second Glove Part 6 - Now that you've made 2 stitches into the end of the button band, you need to ignore the band with the button holes, so leaving this out, you now need to go right back to the beginning of the round and make a slip stitch into the first dc.  Pull this up nice and tight.

    You then need to make the second row of dc's and you can do that by following the instructions as above (in black) 'To complete the thumb hole...', then you're all done.

    Okay, so one glove is complete.  I think you deserve a pat on the back for that but your work isn't over yet I'm afraid, because you need one for the other hand too.

    This is where the pink instructions come in.  Scroll back up to the top and follow the same instructions from the beginning for your second glove, right up to the where I start talking about 'Button bands'.  This is the point at which you need to do things slightly different to make a mirror image of the first glove, so you need to follow the pink instructions this time.  Hopefully now you've made one, it'll all make sense to you!

    Meet me back here with glove number two...

    Did you make it?  Have you got two gloves now?  I hope so!

    If you have, let's add some finishing touches...

    First of all, if you didn't do it as you went along, you've need to weave those pesky ends in.  Once that's all done, you can have some fun picking out buttons.  You can use your favourite ones or mix and match like I did, whatever takes your fancy.

    I lined mine up first until I was happy with the arrangement and then just sewed them into place on the button band.

    Now you are ready to brave the cold or parade around the house as you choose, looking fabulous and colourful while you do it!

    I really hope you enjoyed this little tutorial of mine and that you could follow all the steps ok.  It was a pretty tricky one this time, so I hope I got it clear enough.  Any problems, do let me know.

    Why not come and share your creations with us in Cherry Heart's Cozy Corner, my Ravelry group.  It's a great place to go if you've got any questions too!

    S x

    22 February 2013

    A Busy Break

    This is what my half-term looked like.

    It also looked like this....

    We seemed to be busy this week.  Lots of visiting, lots of swimming and lots of jigsaws.  There was even some time to fit some crochet in.  There's always time to fit some crochet in.

    The soft pink stuff in the basket is my current hooky pleasure.  Just a peak for now though as it's going to be a new pattern and it's all still in the 'working out' stages.  I'm exciting with how it's progressing so far though.

    That exciting box of pretty squares, which I know you'll want to hear about, isn't actually mine.  They all belong to my talented little sister, (@tinylittlesquares) and she has grand plans for a fabulous blanket made with those teeny beauties.  We've been having great fun trying out different arrangements.

    Just a short and sweet one today but I have some good news, the Stripy Mitts are nearly ready to unleash on you.  Hopefully next week...

    Oh, and spam comments are driving me crazy again, I'm getting millions of the blighters which Blogger doesn't seem to realise are spam any more.  I have a hatred of the 'word verifier thingy', so I am experimenting with other options.

    If you fancy testing out my fancy new 'Disqus' comments box to see if it works ok for you, then that'd be grand.  Any problems, use the email link in the sidebar (top left) and let me know.  It's on probation for now so we'll see how it goes, for me and for you!

    S x

    PS:  I've already been advised that there could be a problem commenting if you are using Internet Explorer.  If that's the case for you then please do drop me a line by email or on the Facebook page.

    19 February 2013

    Keeping Cozy

    As much as we all wish spring would get sprung, it's not here yet.  But I'm not too sad about that because it's given me reason to make a little something I've been coveting for some time now.  A new cozy cover for my hot water bottle.

    As always the inspirations of blogland, and nowadays of Pinterest and Instagram too, have been more than enough to get my appetite for a cute cover well whetted.

     Largely, I hold lovely Vanessa of Coco Rose responsible for these particular desires, as she often seems to have a beautiful hottie or two about the place and each one is as pretty as a picture.

    I've also been seeing a lot of cross stitching on crochet floating around and about on the ether so I thought I'd give that a whirl too.

     This was one of those projects that was an absolute joy to make.  Nice chunky yarn (details will follow...) meant it worked up quick as quick and of course, playing with fun additions is always the best bit.

    In fact, the hardest part about this was knowing when to stop adding the Fun Additions.  Would another row of cross stitch be ok?  Should there be two roses as well as the cross stitched one?  Pleasantly diverting conundrums though, not a taxing ones.

    The only pause I had was when I ran out of yarn about 10 yards away from completion.  I wasn't keen on buying a whole new skien for a matter of meters so I dug out some of the cream aran yarn I used here and doubled that up to finish.  I used it for the shell edging around the top of the opening, I don't think you can really tell do you?  

    Yes, I can wait a few more weeks (just a few) for spring to come bouncing forth, just to I can get lots of use out of my new cozy rosie hottie!

    Don't worry, I didn't forget.
    Here's all the information you might need or want...

    Hot Water Bottle:  One I already had, standard size
    Hottie Pattern: Coco Roses' Hot Water Bottle Tutorial
    Hottie Yarn: 2 x Sirdar Denim Ultra - Ivory Cream (508)
    (plus a little Amy Butler Organic Aran)
    Hook: 6mm (USA J) So it was nice and tight
    Cross Stitch Pattern: Based on a Cath Kidston rose design
    Rose and Leaves Pattern: Attic 24's May Roses (inc leaves pattern)
    Cross Stitch and Roses/Leaves Yarn: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino

    S x

    14 February 2013

    Wanton Destruction

    ...but it's for the best, I hope!

    Yes, there's been some very destructive goings on around here.  Willing and wanton destruction of beautiful objects no less.  It sounds horribly wrong doesn't it?  Hopefully, I'll be able to change your mind about that though.

    Take Exhibit A above.  A severed thumb.
    Which looks, I grant you, like a piece of horrendous vandalism on the face of it.  But , it was all part of a well considered plan.

    You might remember my Mulberry Mitts, I made them late last year and although I do love them, they were a pattern prototype and therefore a bit of a work in progress.  The thumb hole has never fitted right, the top part is far too long and to be honest I really have barely worn the things.

    That's all fine, just part of the pattern tweaking process and I fully intend to keep tinkering away at them until I get them right.  In the meantime though, as I haven't enough yarn to re-knit them and I didn't think frogging this very wooly and 'sticky' yarn would be very successful, I needed a plan B.

    Plan B, as it happened took the shape of a little knitty surgery.  I pondered on the idea a good deal but it seemed to me, that if you could cut knitting to make a fair isle jumper, why could you not cut the thumb off of some mitts?

    So, figuring that nothing ventured would mean nothing gained, I attacked the poor unsuspecting mitts.  First I seamed up the hole, either side of the tumb gusset.  Not a perfect job, as you can see from above, due to the nature of the increases, but as we are talking salvage operation here, I decided not to be too picky.  After that, I turned them inside out and ran the seam through the sewing machine.  Just to make sure it would all hold.  

    Then, I held my breath and cut.

    And there you have it, one pair of extremely useful and eminently wearable wristies.  Much better.

    I've just been turning the imperfect seams to the inside so they are less obvious and I am very happily wearing them inside and out now.  Wanton destruction has, for me at least, been very much justified.

    But.... it doesn't end there.

    No, because there is another exhibit to discuss.  For the sake of continuity, we shall call it Exhibit B.  

     There it is, that lovely old desk.  Brand new to me from a local antique shop, but nicely old, worn and marked from it's long life so far.  Exactly the size, shape and height I wanted and have been searching for for a number of years.

    It looks lovely up there doesn't it?  Nice clean lines, no wires everywhere.  Let's have a closer look underneath...

    See, barely a wire in sight.  There is one, because computers and their assorted paraphernalia do need electricity after all, but it is at the barest minimum I could manage.  I can't tell you how happy it makes me to have it like that.  SO happy.  So happy, that I had to use capital letters!

    'This is all very well and nice' I hear you say, 'but what of the destruction?   I see no damage here.'

    Let me show you...

    You see, in order to get this pared down look, more devastation had to take place.  All the wires have been hidden, cunningly in one of the drawers.  This one on the left to be exact.  Which required some rather basic carpentry work on my part to make a reality.

    That middle picture is at the very back of the desk, behind the draw.  I had to cut a hole big enough for all the plugs, cables and what not to go through.  The smaller hole is in the back of the draw to allow the cables to poke out through.

    Fairly destructive, I think you'll agree.  But hidden, very hidden and ultimately fixable... if ever it was necessary to restore to it's former glory.

    Here is the comparison for you.

    The hideous sight that was the computer table before: Ugly, messy and an offensive eyesore to all who had the misfortune to see it.

    Then the joy of the computer table after:  A beautiful piece of old furniture given a new lease of life and a sleek  tidy, delightful sight to one and all.

    Was this piece of wanton destruction justified too?  I think so, but do you?

    S x

    12 February 2013

    Bursting My Bubble

    You know I posted about 'Sewing Highs' the other day?  Well, this is the second part of the post and it covers the Sewing Not So Highs.  Not quite the sewing lows maybe, but definitely the sewing 'I can do better than that surely, can't I?'

    I'd been getting a lot more confident with my sewing lately.  Over the past year or so I've done loads more than I ever thought I would and well, I guess I was starting to get a little too cocky about my abilities.

    I wanted to replace this old crochet hook case of mine.  As you can see, I've rather outgrown it.  I have hooks wedged in far too tightly and some which don't even fit.  Time for a nice new one and having a pretty little image in my head to follow, I was all geared up for a  a pleasurable time bringing it into reality.

    The idea seemed fabulous in my head.  Glorious in fact, I was so excited by it and, at first, things went well.  I had some lovely little squares of fabric which pleased me greatly and I was having fun, playing with this ribbon and those trims.  Testing different colours to get the right look.  Happy pottering in the craft room.

    And then, somehow things all started to go a little bit awry.  It think it all stemed from the fact that I changed my plan for constructing it half way through.  I decided that my original plan wasn't quite going to work how I wanted and so I came up with a new one and then one thing led to another, and before I knew where I was, it had all started to go horribly wrong.

     Some of the seams got horribly bulky and wouldn't sew nicely or lay flat afterwards.  Then I ended up having to cut through some of my pretty patchwork, which wasn't ideal.  That pretty pink trim on the top flap, which should have been the icing on the cake was a hideous sewing disaster.  You might not be able to tell how bad from the pictures, but honestly it's awful and I can't bear to show you up close.

    To cap it all off, I couldn't even sew the hook pockets as I wanted to because the whole awful concoction had ended up too stiff and the poor sewing machine just didn't want to know by that stage.  So it doesn't even really hold the hooks in nicely.

    Quite frankly, the whole thing has left me feeling rather deflated.  I think mostly because I was so excited about the idea originally and then it ended up being such and unenjoyable experience by the end.  My bubble was thoroughly burst by it all.  In fact, in a piece of massive (although unplanned) melodrama, I haven't sewn anything since.  (Oh the woe, the tragedy!)

    I know that you'll probably wonder what I'm talking about.  And even I think (in the photos at least) it really does look quite presentable.  Cute even.  But remember, Dear Reader, I have shielded you from the true horrors.  The puckered seams, the unsightly sewing lines, the saggy baggy pockets.  If you saw it in the flesh, I assure you... but no (shudder), let's not think of that.

    The only thing I truly love and which has not been marred by the whole tawdry ordeal, is those felt cherries. They came out just right, every bit as lovely as I had hoped and imagined they would.  

    I have been living with this little case for a couple of weeks now.  Hoping that time would work some magic and heal the wounds, but alas, I do not forget.  My deepest desire, still, is to rip the thing apart and start again.  In fact, I don't think I shall really be happy until I have.

    S x

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