Saturday, 30 April 2016

Slowly,slowly ...

The baby blanket is progressing a little slower than I'd like. It's my own fault though. Last Sunday I foolishly timed how many squares I could make in an hour. Five. Just five. I already knew how long it took to make each one,so why didn't I just leave it at that?! But no - then I started working out how many hours it would take to make the 108 squares I'm aiming for. Over 21 hours. That's 3 days in the office. Then I've got to join them. Then work the border...ah well.

I lay them out on the floor again today.

Still looking good, although some of my squares looks smaller than the others. I keep wondering whether to block them before joining, so decided to have a go.
I popped them in a bowl with some fabric softener for a few minutes, then gave them a good spin in the spin dryer. No not really  - I used the salad spinner. Do you ever use your salad spinner for small items?  It works a treat. In fact, we've never actually used it for salad.

Then I fashioned a little frame from cardboard and knitting needles - saw this idea on Pinterest. 

Then I threaded all the damp squares onto it and it's now sat on the radiator to dry. They only just fit - I should have done two batches really. Little Miss Impatient...

A lot of people say you can't block acrylic but it's worth a go. I could have waited until the whole blanket was done, then washed and blocked it and I'm sure the result would be the same. I'm up to 76 squares now - 32 to go. That's 6 1/2 hours...

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Is it a blanket, is it a bag?...

No - it's a cushion cover! If you've read about my Rippling Clusters Blanket, especially on Ravelry,  you'll know my original attempt went wrong. Recently,  I got it out again and began to turn it into a bag. That went wrong too! So I'm now thinking about a cushion/pillow cover.

Many years ago, I made this patchwork cover for a small feather pillow. It lives on the bed and supports the small of my back when reading. Then I grab it and fling it out the floor!
After years of grabbing and flinging the corners are threadbare and there's a rip on the back.
I keep meaning to repair it but then I thought maybe a crochet cover?  Would my blanket/bag piece be the right size??
No...its too wide but with a bit of work I can adjust it and it might look quite effective.
A few more straight rows. Maybe a line of simple grannies, or even the Circle of Friends block I saw last week.

Will it work do you think? I quite like it. I mustn't spend too much time on it at the moment though - I need to get cracking with the baby blanket.  I've taken to making batches of one colourway of squares at a time. I've made 67 so far and I'm hoping 108 (12 x 9 squares) will be enough for a reasonable size pram blanket. I'll make a few more later today. 

On a completely different subject, I went for a really good country walk with a couple of friends yesterday. It was across farmers fields, footpaths, and quiet country lanes. It was so quiet with no traffic sounds! And views were stunning.  We came across a lovely patch of bluebells - real English bluebells in a really deep blue. When I looked at my photos later,I realised I hadn't taken many pics of them - only 4 or 5, and no close-ups.

Tina's Allsorts, Bluebells

Tina's Allsorts, Bluebells

It was very steep in places - this road had a sign that said 1:5, although you can't tell how steep it is from the photo below. The banks both sides are covered in wild garlic that was only just coming into flower - imagine what it will look like carpeted in white once in full bloom.

Going downhill was VERY hard on the knees and we knew we'd eventually have an uphill climb to match. When it came, I'm sure it was even steeper and was just a muddy path. Again, you can't see the gradient in the photo below but believe me, it was steep!

My knees really hurt afterwards - still do today. But it was worth it though as the scenery really was quite something. We were surprised at the lack of wildlife - apart from hearing a bit of bird song, all we were saw were a few farm animals, including some sheep with fabulous curly horns!

Look at this gorgeous fresh green leave (beech?), nestled next to last year's much bigger brother!

Tina's Allsorts

This last one is my favourite shot though. I could have stood there for hours, watching the shadows play across the landscape. Breathtaking.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Baby Blanket update

Before I talk about the baby blanket, let me show you some more photos of the Cedar of Lebanon tree - or rather, where the tree was...

Firstly, all the staff and residents were allowed to help themselves to whatever logs they were able to pick up, to take home for firewood and the like. Then the tree surgeons returned and took away the really big bulky branches and sawed up the main trunk into planks so that they can be put to good use. They had a nifty machine to saw the planks too - it took them no time at all!

The base of the trunk was ground right down to grass level, so if you didn't know there had been a tree there, you almost wouldn't notice.

If you look out the window at the other end of the building you can now see Wolvsey Palace, where the Bishop lives.

Tina's Allsorts, Springtime Baby Blanket
But on to the Baby Blanket. It's coming along quite nicely and I've managed to make 50 squares so far. I'll make another 50 and lay them out to see what the size looks like - that might be just enough, with a border.
This is what they look like when laid out so far. They look quite effective - you just need to imagine a thin white line bordering every square when they're joined.

The squares that are edged with dark blue or mauve are very similar in colour, so I think I'll only use half as many of each as I will the other colours.

Also on the crochet front, I came across a nice blog a couple of weeks ago (via Pinterest) by a lady called Heather (although she seems to post lots on facebook, rather than her blog now) and she's currently working on a Circle of Friends blanket that looks amazing. (I'm sure I've seen at least 2 other bloggers who have made/are making this blanket too, although I can't quite think who at the moment.)
It has so much lovely texture!! She gives a link to the free pattern by Priscilla Hewitt, so I had a quick look and just had to have a go!! (Although I didn't read it properly, I only scanned it so my attempt is somewhat different - as ever...)

Tina's Allsorts, Circle of Friends

Those bobbles are just so easy - I'll have to remember how to do them. Maybe I could find a way to work them into a ripple blanket? Now there's a thought...
But no!! There's a baby blanket to be finished first! Now, where's my hook?...

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Cedar of Lebanon

We had to say goodbye to an old friend at work this week. The Cedar of Lebanon that grows just outside the school across from the office had become diseased and the decision had been made to cut it down before bits started falling off.
We have a birds eye view of it from the office and by chance I had taken a photo of it last month -

You can see it just to the right of the building in the foreground. It looks particularly good in the winter as the sun rises behind it. As I'm an early starter in the office, I have photographed it many times.

But over the course of the week we watched the branches come down and then the trunk. The trunk came crashing down in 3 big sections. I've never seen a tree come down before and now understand how they can cause so much damage when they come down in a storm.

I should have taken another photo once the trunk was cut down. I'll do that next week. It's such a shame to see it go as it was a beautiful tree but I'm sure something else will be planted in it's place. And we now have a view of the hills behind it.

On the crafting front, I've been busy working on the crochet baby blanket this week and have made about three dozen squares so far. I still haven't decided on the finished size, so don't know how many I'll need to make. I'm using 14 colours, plus white - a pale and mid shade of the seven colours of the rainbow. But the mid blue and violet are very similar, as you can see in this picture - they're next to each other on the bottom row -

Tina's Allsorts, Springtime Baby Blanket

I'm pleased with how it's going so far though and it should look quite effective when joined together with white seams.

I also had another crack at the teenage sized peasant dress yesterday.
I decided to invest in a dress makers curve ruler to help me shape the armhole and neck edges. I had bought some dress makers pattern sheets a couple of weeks ago, so got down to transferring the newspaper pattern I had made onto the plastic sheet, adjusting the armhole curves slightly and adding a couple of inches to the length at the neck edge.
The first dress I'd made sat quite low on the shoulders and I felt it needed to be higher and more "modest".
So having reshaped all the pattern pieces, I got the fabric out and laid it out. And guess what?...there's not enough! If I'm very careful how I cut it out, I should be able to get the front and back from the green fabric but because I've made everything 2" longer, there's nothing left for the sleeves...
However, I do still have enough of the same fabric but in the pale pink colourway that I could use for the sleeves and it should look fine. But by that point my "sewing juices" had gone off the boil. So I folded everything up and put it away for another day. Once I've made it though - assuming it comes out ok - I'll try and made some sort of downloadable PDF pattern.

And last but not least for today, look at this gorgeous little bag I treated myself to this week -

Isn't it FAB?!! I saw it on the market on Friday. It's made of faux suede and was (supposedly) hand stitched in Thailand. It has 3 pockets on the front, plus one on the back and they are all lined with different scarps of silk. The colours were so striking I couldn't resist it. Mind you, I won't actually get much in it. As soon as you've put something in the main compartment you won't get anything in the pockets! But it will be fine for summer days out when I don't need to take much more than a wallet, camera and phone.

That's all for today - enjoy your week!

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Here's one I made earlier

I keep meaning to take some photos of my first little crochet blanket to show you. I made it back in 2012, inspired by Solveig's Flowers in the Snow blanket. At the time I didn't have a big enough supply of assorted colours to recreate hers, and started making plain blue circles bordered with white. Having made a few and laying them next to each other, I decided they looked rather effective and I would stick to just blue and white. I also changed the way they were joined together, so my version actually ended up looking quite different from Solveig's.

Originally I was planning on making a bed sized blanket which would need around 400 squares but had to "downsize" my ideas. The gorgeous blue variegated wool I was using turned out to be "end of line". I had bought a couple of balls towards the end of my tea cosies making days and when I went back to buy some more, there wasn't any... I'd already made quite a few squares by then though, so opted to just make it smaller. I kept going until I simply ran out of blue wool and this produced just enough to make a blanket 9 squares by 11. I had just one square left over!! It's 31" X 41", including the border, and currently sits at the end of the bed as an extra layer to keep my feet warm at night. 
I added it to Ravelry yesterday and called it my Olympic Foot Blanket. Why Olympic?? Because I clearly remember watching the London Olympics while working on it. The men's gymnastics to be precise!
Want to see it?? (Please excuse the washing on the line...)

Tina's Allsorts, Olympic Foot Blanket, Crochet

Tina's Allsorts, Olympic Foot Blanket, Crochet

Tina's Allsorts, Olympic Foot Blanket, Crochet

Tina's Allsorts, Olympic Foot Blanket, Crochet

I visited a friend the other day and she's knitting a beautiful white lacy baby blanket for someone she knows. My niece is also expecting her first baby in a few weeks and I keep thinking I ought to make her something.
Hand knitted baby clothes are no longer "on trend" but my niece loves vintage and retro and had mentioned she's a member of a Vintage Baby facebook page and had seen a picture of a flared cardigan that only had 2 buttons and no-one knew what it was but it looked nice. I told her it was a matinee jacket and you were only allowed to wear it in the afternoon!! (She works in the theatre so is very familiar with the concept of an afternoon matinee!)
So I asked my lovely friend Diana make me a matinee jacket for her (and she made 2 bonnets as well) . She loves knitting and isn't afraid to use 4 ply - or in this case 3 ply. Aren't they gorgeous?!

Anyway, these two creative ladies have spurred me on to start a baby blanket myself.

I had seen a photo of Nicki Trench's Springtime Throw on-line somewhere long ago, which incidentally, is where I got the idea on my joining method for the Olympic Foot Blanket. (Where would I be without the internet and Pinterest?...) Nicki's blanket is made with small squares which would be perfect for a baby blanket - I'll still need at least a hundred squares though! (Kirsty on Ravelry has also made a beautiful baby version with a lovely border too.)
I have some wool in a rainbow of colours left over from another (as yet uncompleted) project and dug them out yesterday and worked up a few sample squares.

I don't think it will be finished before the baby arrives - I remember just how much work there was in joining the squares in my blue/white blanket. It took far longer than I expected.
They only take about 10 - 15 minutes each to make though and it's a small enough project I can take it to work to work on at lunch time maybe.

I need to get back to my dress a girl teenage size pattern hack too. I haven't done any for a month now. That will have to wait until next weekend though...
Hope you're enjoying the weekend sunshine and see you again soon with a blankety update!