Monday, 17 June 2013

African Flower Motif Hippo

I am starting to have more work-in-progresses than I have actual finished pieces!!

Today a friend and I decided to start a crochet-along to celebrate the end of our current courses.  So we have decided to have a go at the Happypotamus design by Heidi Bears.  I am using Stylecraft yarn: plum, meadow and fiesta; James Brett baby vanilla. I am using a 3mm hook.

It is a mixture of different shaped african is amazing what she has imaginative.

Today we managed to do 6 shapes...only another 38 to go; it should keep us out of mischief for awhile.  Although we live 100 miles apart, we can still have a good laugh via facebook messenger and send pics of how we're getting on, or showing how to do something if we're a little confused.  Unfortunately it does prove how difficult it is to count to 7 as we're not fully concentrating on what we're doing and so there has been a fair bit of frogging going on.  All part of the fun though.

Here are 2 of the shapes we did today:

Pentagon flower (top) and Hexagon flower

A friend has come up with a very good suggestion, so I shall be playing around with that soon and see how it looks before I say what it is.

It's a lovely pattern and I admired it some months ago but it was far too advanced for me and I was rather scared by it.  However, the only new stitch was a long treble crochet, which now I am more confident, didn't phase me at all!  It is really amazing how fast you progress with crochet.

Today we did some more pentagons; we need 26!!! I also did a heptagon:


Didn't get much done today :-(.   I did a lot of centre pieces ready for tomorrow and the nose square; something is better than nothing I suppose
Nose square

Seems a little bare without the long treble stitches.

Another terribly non-productive day......well when the weather is behaving, it is a good idea to do some gardening.  Today I did a couple more pentagons and an octagon.

I have hit the half way mark: 17 pentagons, 1 octagon, 2 heptagons, 1 hexagon and a nose patch.  I have got plenty of darning in of ends to do but it is very satisfying seeing the pile of motifs getting bigger.  Would you like a peek?  Oh all right then :-)

I can't wait to see this in its final form.  I'm thinking of turning it into a doorstop for the lounge....the colours will go perfectly there.

After so long all the motifs were made....they were overflowing out of my little tin.

Now came the tricky bit......assembly time.  It was a bit of a challenge.  I decided to sew mine together as I couldn't get to grips with Heidi's 'join as you go' method, however, I think it probably is worth persevering and mastering it (I shall do this next time).  Yes, even though I was starting to get bored with making all the motifs, there will be a next time.

I'm not going to say exactly how he was put together as you can see for yourself by clicking on the 'happypotamus' link above.

Ok I will show a little bit:  first came his legs, and what lovely little legs they were :-)

one leg

Once I got the hang of it, he grew quite quickly:

As I had decided to make him into a doorstop, before I filled the body with toy stuffing (and boy did he eat some stuffing - well I don't suppose they get to that size on nothing), I filled some sandwich bags with about 2 tablespoons of play sand and tied the tops securely.  I put a bit of stuffing in and then the sandbags and then more stuffing around them so that you couldn't feel the bags and then continued to fill his body.

Sewing the head on was quite a performance; he needed locking into legs came in handy here, whilst sewing and he needed to manipulated a lot but it was very exciting as he was nearly complete.  The last motif was in place and hurrah, only the ears to do - only to find that my last 2 shapes had to have the last round frogged and redone as it wasn't to be completed like the would have been useful to have mentioned this at the beginning as is was a little demoralising to have to pull work apart at this late stage.   Never mind, they were done and stitched in place.  But something was missing.......something was anatomically wrong with this lovely and splendid as he was........that's right, no tail.  Well I couldn't leave him like that so I fashioned him a lovely tail, after having looked at lots of images of hippo's tails on the internet. I made a teardrop shape and stitched the pointy end together and stuffed it as much as I could.  I left the fatter end open and put some stuffing in there and sewed it onto his bottom.  Oh and I added some hairs as some of them have a bit of a hairy tail :-)

Drum roll.............and now I would like to introduce you to CLAUDIUS!  

Friday, 14 June 2013

Yarn guide

I have huge troubles holding the yarn as described in books and youtubers.  So, today I have been experimenting with a little gadget I came across.

My inclination is to grip the yarn between my first two fingers on my left hand and wind it around the hook (see below)

So the only tension I get is from between these two fingers; which hasn't been a problem but I haven't got any faster and so think I am still quite slow.

So off I went hunting and found this clever little gadget; it is called a Clover Yarn Guide and can be got from Amazon for just over £2 and probably from local craft shops.

As you can see, it fits around the finger and has spacings for the yarn to go through.  The top just unclips and you put the yarn in and clip it back together again.   It is lightweight and quite comfortable.

I had a little practice with it:

To try and keep an even tension, I trapped the yarn lightly between my fourth and fifth finger.

My first impressions are favourable.  I think this may well be the answer to my problem.  Just a little concerned that I may get cramp in the fingers trapping the yarn.  The gadget is great though as the yarn was forever slipping off that finger which is why I developed my own method.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Daisy Coaster

A friend loves blue and is a keen gardener, so for her birthday I thought I would try and give her something that combined both.

I came across a pattern for a Daisy Coaster by Doni Speigle that can be found on Craftsy.  It was very quick and easy to do.  I have never worked with cotton before and to my delight, it was rather nice to work with.

I have made just the one so far but will be making another 3 for her.

I think these would also look rather nice made into bunting for a little girl's bedroom.  In fact, I think I may do it for one of my daughter's.

All four coasters are done and they're all the same size....perfect!  I think they look great and will look lovely on Jess' coffee table.  Just hope she agrees!

Sampler Throw

When I first started to learn to crochet I was getting myself in a right tangle.  I wasn't really sure what I was doing or how it should look.  In fact, getting beyond the first row was an achievement.  When I did manage to get past that, it wasn't a pretty sight.

It was clear that if I was going to succeed in this hooking business, I needed extra help.  So I subscribed to the Art of Crochet magazine and a whole new world opened up to me.  It really is very easy.  The pictures were clear and I could see what I had to produce.

The first square was a textured square and it looked very complicated, to me.  However, it was just alternating double and treble crochets.  I was very pleased that mine looked like the picture  (see below).

Textured Square

I quickly moved onto square number 2.  I'm sent 4 weeks at a time so I didn't have to wait to do the next one.  Eeeeek.....scallop  lace square.  How was I meant to do that.  Well it turned out to be very simple as well.  Although, my first attempt was huge as my tension was too loose but the second attempt was much better (see below)

Scallop Lace Square

So onto week 3 I went, feeling super confident and enthusiastic.  It was time for the granny square.....that's okay I thought but then saw that I had to change colours.  Argghhh, not done that before!  But it was easily explained and worked out fine.  Although you can just see where I joined in the new colour between the pink and the turquoise (see below)

Granny Square

Week 4 - this was a simple treble crochet with a cross-stitch diamond on the front.  I do cross-stitch so thought that would be simple enough but it took me forever to get it right....not sure why!!  (oops it's on it's side)

Treble crochet Square with diamond motif

Week 5 - another treble crochet square but this time with a cross-stitch X

Treble crochet with X

Week 6 - was starting to get a bit bored with treble crochet and cross-stitch.  Well this week certainly taxed my brain; it was a ribbed pattern. On one row you did a relief treble front stitch and on the next row, a relief treble back stitch.  Such a nice effect.  I suppose it would do well on cuffs of jumpers or mittens.

Ribbed pattern square

Week 7 - Another new stitch - half treble crochets with a  star motif  (another one on the wrong angle - just turn your head sideways lol )

Half treble square with star motif

Week 8 - This is a mixture of trebles and bobbles.  Took me a couple of goes to be happyish with it.  I still don't think the dimensions are right - it has come out much larger than the others and the top and bottom spaces are different.  I'm tempted to remove one of the rows below the red bobbles (or to the right in this pic as it has come out sideways again).

Coloured bobbles square

That's it for the moment.  I have been doing the cushions in between these and a blanket which I'm about to tell you about in another post :-)

I have got a bit behind this project so have decided to catch up on it.

Week 9 - I quite enjoyed doing this one, even though it had the dreaded cross-stitch in it.  The background was a simple half treble crochet and then quite a nice Aztec design on the front.  I think this one turned out much better than my other attempts.
Half treble crochet with Aztec design

I have only just realised that my pattern is not correct - it looks as though that top 'wing' is floating and should be attached to the 'box' like it is at the bottom - I shall have to correct that!!!!

Week 10 - A completely new stitch to learn - the open mesh pattern.  This turned out much smaller than the others.  However, it was a nice one to do.  May have to come back and make it larger.  All the squares are supposed to measure 13cm x 13cm.  I've always thought that I crocheted tightly but it appears that for some stitches I do (double and half treble, mesh) but others maybe not (treble, scallop) as I seem to have less rows than in the pictures.

At the moment I am just making the squares up and will go through them when I have done them all and see which ones are the correct size or close enough not to matter and then redo the ones which are way too small or big and then block them all before assembling.

Week 11 - This was another chance to try colour changing.  It was double crochet with 6 boxes with different colours.  The thing that bothered me most was that the 'boxes' looked  frayed as you can't get sharp lines with crochet but it was nice to do something different and certainly made me think about it. As you can see, some turned out better than others.
Double crochet with colour blocks

Week 12 - another granny square - I do like doing these though, so it wasn't a problem. This one was treble crochet in the centre and then the rest were half treble crochets.
Turquoise granny square

Week 13 - I am really not happy with the way this one has turned out and will have another go at some time.  It was a treble crochet background with a cross-stitch diamond on the front.  The diamond is awful and because I have an uneven number of rows it looks off-centre again.  Still, here is the first attempt......

Week 14 - oohhh a bicolour diagonal square - this was in treble crochet.  Looks rather good.
Bicolour diagonal trebles square

Week 15 - I was a bit worried by this one as it had more cross-stitch on it and so far they have been my downfall, so I had a big think about it before doing it.  The square is treble crochet again.  This time I think the cross-stitching looks okay......well, I'm happy with it anyway.
Trebles square with man motif

Week 16 - This was a square of half trebles with a star motif.  Nothing new but it was made faster by experimenting with my Clover yarn guide.....the downside is it strains a tendon in my wrist.  I'm hoping that it will get better with time.
Half treble square with star motif