Friday 15 November 2013

In Print at Last!

Hi Everyone

Just a very quick, and belated, catch up. I have been working hard, behind the scenes, on new and old patterns and my plan is to renew, and rebrand, this blog shortly with the aim that I will blog weekly (snort!) and seriously follow my dream to turn my hobby into a business. 

I didn't mean to be absent for quite this long, and I must thank all of you who have sent me concerned messages of support.  I'm afraid that my beloved Dad died recently; it happened very suddenly and came completely out of the blue.  Because of this my rebranding plans have been set back a bit longer, but in this sad time I do have some exciting news to share - I have finally had a pattern published in a magazine!

I was asked ages ago to design an 'experienced make' granny square inspired by a flamingo.  Yes..  you read correctly...  a FLAMINGO!  The pattern was to accompany the free gift given away on the cover.  I must admit to not overflowing with flamingo inspired ideas at first, but after studying masses of flamingo images you would be amazed (and possibly appalled!) at the ideas that popped into my head.  The inspiration that shone through for me came from the way the flamingos curl their heads around their bodies to sleep and I knew the square needed to be based around a spiral, along with a round of shells to suggest some plumage.  I'm very pleased with it, and while it works as a square, I particularly like to not work the final row and instead of a granny square you have a fun flamingo inspired coaster - as in the picture above.

If you would like the pattern it is in issue 8 of Crafty Magazine (the current issue) and it comes along with the gorgeous cotton pink and grey yarn my sample was made from and a crochet hook.  Along with my pattern another 2 designers have also designed flamingo inspired squares, one is a beginner square and the other is an intermediate make.  Also the magazine is full of lots of other lovely makes and inspiration!

Another light in my life recently has been an addition to my family...

Sophie came home with me after a recent visit to an animal rescue shelter and she has been acquainting herself with most of my stash ever since!  I'll introduce her properly another time.

In the meantime, happy crafting!


Sunday 21 April 2013

A hunka hunka instant satisfaction!

Happy Sunday

Forgive the title but I'm channelling Elvis this morning; can't get burning love out of my head!

Just dropped by because Sunday is the day that I often hunker (see!!  he's still there...) after something crafty that's easy, and simple, but most of all quick, and while it hasn't been the sunniest start to the day here in South West Scotland I thought I'd quickly put together a tutorial for a coaster should you also fancy a quick fix.

I came up with this pattern a while ago when looking for a simple square crocheted coaster, nothing too fancy, or floral, or pretty, but with great texture. 


Remember I bought some gorgeous squares of fabric with the intention of making a quilt.  I thought they were too green so vowed to buy some more fabric to bring some more blue to the mix.

This is what my shopping spree produced.

I think I've got a better mix now, so I've got a date this afternoon with a cutting mat and rotary cutter.

 I guess it's now or never.  (oh shove off Elvis...)

Happy crafting!


Saturday 23 March 2013

Colour in the Winter Blues


Brrrrrrrrrrrrrr...........  It's freezing here!  I've always lived near the west coast, whether that be in England or Scotland, and being near the sea the showers usually fall on us as rain, turning to snow as they get a bit more inland.  But yesterday was blizzard like!  Strong gusts of wind blew the snow sideways all day, and to make it worse we had a power cut that lasted from 1pm lunchtime to 11pm at night.

Thankfully it is a bit calmer today.  Honestly, I look at the picture above and think that it doesn't really look too bad, but everything grinds to a halt here when snow falls.  All of the surrounding roads have been closed, and drifts have made it difficult getting around.  Having a prolonged power cut really makes you appreciate being able to just switch that light on or turn the kettle on!  Everything is electric in my flat, so I had no light, heating or way to cook anything.  Thankfully I had a fully charged kindle, which enabled me to snuggle under my duvet with some cheese and crackers (crumbly...  duh....) by candlelight and read until the light finally came on at 11pm (hurrahhhhhh!)  

The clocks go forward by an hour next weekend, and it can't come soon enough for me.  Another hour of light in the evening will be so welcome.  I find sunlight so energising; it makes me want to do things or create things, while I find dark evenings a bit of a slump.

Bags have continued to dominate my crocheting exploits lately.  I've already shown you my samples of a new basic bag pattern, and I'm sorry to say that I have yet to find the time, or brightness, to take the photographs to accompany a pattern tutorial.  But what is holding me back slightly is that I keep thinking of new motifs and incorporating these into the basic bag pattern.  These will be separate, stand alone patterns, but I want to be able to offer the opportunity to buy 2 or more different bag patterns at a discounted price, and so I need all of the patterns finished before I publish any.

Works in progress include an adapted puffed daisy bag -

I've also come up with a completely new flower motif, and it can be done in two ways -

They are both  made basically the same with just a slight adjustment, and each gives quite a different look.  Subtler and all out in-your-face!  The bottom one reminds me of a particularly garish swimming/shower cap!  They will both be included in one pattern.

I'm also thinking of making a porthole one...

But there has to be a bit of variety doesn't there?  Working on too many bags makes Karen very bored!  So here is another new motif I'm going to call an English Rose, as it reminds me of the old emblems of the white rose of York, and the red rose of Lancaster.  I'm making them into a scarf -

I really wish I had the strength of mind and will power to actually finish one thing before I start another...  I have tried to make myself, but it's no use.  I'll actually sit and do nothing rather than make myself finish something if there is another idea hammering at my brain...  Shameful.  Of course I usually get around to finishing the other item eventually...  ahem....

Before I go I thought I would share some of my wisdom (lol, ok!).  I recently had the following comment -

Judith van de Voorde has left a new comment on your post "Lily Pad Hexagons...":

This is absolutley gorgeous!!
I tried making one of the flowers but keep doing something wrong. I have just 11?? bobbles in the first round and then 7?? in the second :S
May I ask how many stiches are used to make on bobble? I believe I keep misreading but I can't seem to find where .
Thank you so much for sharing this great piece!

Ok Judith this is for you, but I thought others would benefit too, so... the problem here is identifying the correct loops to work the stitches in so that you end up with the correct number of stitches on the next round.  I've been crocheting for many years now and I started with granny squares - easy because you always work in the spaces - big spaces that you can't get confused about.  Eventually I moved onto working single/double crochet in rows and I remember struggling with knowing where the end stitch was to keep a straight edge, and working in rounds which brings its own difficulties.  The difficulty in rounds is that when you join a round you are usually working a slip stitch into the starting chain, and the result is not as neat and compact as your other stitches.

The picture above shows a round of 12 dcs.  The red arrows point to the 11 true dcs; familiarise yourself with the double crochet stitch (or any other stitch you are working on).  Look at where the top loops lie in relation to the stitch post below.  When you are working in rounds the top loops are always above and slightly to the right (when crocheting right handed) of the post of the stitch.  Straightforward...

The green arrow shows the slip stitch that has been worked into the starting Chain 3.  It looks just like the other loops, but the problem lies with the extra loops left behind from the beginning chain 3 and the fastening off shown by the blue arrows.  These can be confusing when you are looking for the correct loops to work the next round in as these, along with the slip stitch, make it look as though  there are 2 stitches to work in and not just one.

Now personally I am not too precious if you don't work into the correct loops, in this difficult area, as long as you work the correct number of stitches for the round.  I don't usually start a new colour where the old colour finished - I don't like a line of chain 3s up my work, so I stagger them.  This means that I will come across the green & blue arrowed loops mid round.  Don't worry about the top loops so much, you need to be more aware of the stitch posts below, because they show you where the stitches are - look at the next stitch pasts the pesky chain 3 and identify it's top loops and then it becomes clear that while it may look like there are 2 stitches above the chain 3, you just need to pick one and work in it.  If you miss the slip stitch and work in the other space the chances are it won't show as long as you keep to the correct numbers of stitches.  And this also goes for when you are working in the front or the backs of the stitches - IDENTIFY THE POST OF THE STITCH, AND WORK IN A LOOP ABOVE IT, IGNORING ANY EXTRA LOOPS.

I hope that's understandable.  I certainly know that at some point on my crocheting exploits I realised that I was aware of the anatomy of the stitches I was working on (ooooerr!) and had stopped looking at just the top loops and focused on the actual stitches below and suddenly I didn't have a problem knowing where to put my hook.  Ok, wisdom over for one year!

I hope you have electricity where you are and Happy Crocheting!


Sunday 3 February 2013

New Year, New Ideas

Well hello there!

It's been quite a while hasn't it...  Sorry about that!  I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas and New Year; I spent the holidays with my family back in Cumbria and it was wonderful.  It just whizzed past so quickly and before I knew it I'm back to short, dark, work-filled January days with occasional snow, but mostly rain. 

However, it hasn't all been darkness and drudgery!  The gorgeous flowers above brightened my day and I also met up with a lovely local lady called Rachel about setting up a knitting/crochet group.  There is nothing like it in the area, and it was lovely to find that Rachel was a kindred crafting spirit!  We will hold our first meeting soon, but in the meantime I have promised to make a poster to advertise the group locally and drum up some more like-minded crafters.  But I've hit a bit of a block, because I don't know what to call it.  I don't like 'knit and natter' as it makes it sound exclusive to knitters, and while 'stitch and bitch' is certainly apt I think it may put some people off...  I want the group to mainly embrace yarn crafts, any yarn crafts, but it wouldn't bother me if other crafts were sampled now and then as well.  So, I'm asking you, my wonderful readers, if you can please give me any ideas as to what to call the group?  I'd be very grateful!  We meet for the first time in a week - if by any chance any of you live locally, you are most welcome to attend!

I've been working hard on a new pattern over January, and I had hoped to have it ready by now, but unfortunately my time off has not coincided with enough bright hours to take good enough photographs to accompany the pattern.  I've taken some pictures to show you today, but I'm afraid they haven't captured the colours and are a bit dull...  I'm thinking of calling this pattern the 'Puffed Patchwork Purse' - what do you think?

It's been quite a marathon designing this, which is why it has taken me all of January.  This is the fifth version and I'm finally happy with it.  My flat is a study in evolution with neanderthal bags littering every surface - it wouldn't have surprised me to glance around and find Darwin perched at my dining table writing a paper on the origin of the puffed patchwork purse!

I think that it almost looks like cells under a microscope!  It is the perfect shape for a bag - in my opinion! - fatter at the bottom than the top, but what I particularly like about it is the size; it's much bigger than the other bags I have designed.  This is the latest colourway I am making...

Hopefully I will get the pattern written and photographed soon.

I also need to catch up with all of my favourite blogs - there just aren't enough hours in the day!

Keep well and happy crocheting!