Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Stripy Crochet Baby Blanket

Sorry for the silence - I have been away on a lovely holiday in Costa Rica for two weeks, amongst other, less interesting, things!

My friend's baby was born whilst I was on holiday, so since being back I've been frantically trying to get the baby blanket finished.  She's had a little girl, so I hope that this will be suitable - a take on cheery primary colours!


I made it using Stylecraft Special DK in:

Sunshine
Turquoise
Lipstick
White


It was all made with half-double (half-treble UK) crochet stitches.  The sunshine and turquoise stripes were 14 rows each, the lipstick stripes were 7 rows each, and the white between them were 2 rows each.


I bordered it with 3 rounds of half-double (half-treble UK) crochet in white, then 2 rows of single (double US) crochet in lipstick.


Quite a simple design, but hopefully quite effective!


I'm hoping my friend likes it.  I will be seeing her, and meeting the new little one, tomorrow - can't wait!




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Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Crochet Baby Blanket - Colour Change

I thought it was about time I showed you the progress on the baby blanket I'm working on, as I had a change of heart on one of the colours!

My original colours were shown here and, as I mentioned in this post, I wasn't sure about the grey.  I carried on for a bit longer with it - but then decided 'no!' and ripped it back... changing it for a cheery red.


The red I chose is Stylecraft Special DK in Lipstick, and I am loving it!  So bright and cheerful.  With the Turquoise, Sunshine and Lipstick colours, it gives a twist on the classic primary colours vibe - a timeless choice for babies if you ask me!  And gender neutral too, if there is such a thing...

I'd better get on with finishing it, as my friend's baby is due in a few weeks... and I really should be sewing those ends in as I go!

What do you think?  Do you prefer the red to the grey, or should I have stuck with my original plan?!




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Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Quick Free Cloakroom Refresh

I haven't shown any home transformations for a while.  You can see my previous posts in my Home Improvements tab.

This weekend, however, I completed a very quick refresh of my downstairs toilet or cloakroom, if you will!  The emphasis on this project was that it be quick and cost me as little as possible.  Well, I achieved that.



If I'd wanted to spend more time and money on it, I would have made quite a few more changes... but speed and economy were of the essence here!

Let's see what I started with...



Pretty grim!!  What we have here is mainly magnolia walls, a half-hearted coat of white paint on part of one wall, started during another DIY project at some point, and some haphazard bluey paint using up the end of a roller, for no apparent reason.  And it all needed a good clean too as it had been used for DIY activities or storage at times.  I don't even use this toilet - I don't go in there if I can avoid it!  Any guests get sent upstairs too, as it's too shameful.

In an ideal world I'd have liked to get all those ugly pipes boxed in and possibly even changed the sink and toilet for something a bit more modern.  I don't like the colour of the tile floor either, so I'd have liked to have changed that too.  I'd have picked a cheery wall colour, and some funkier accessories... but this would all have cost time and money!

So, instead I did this:



My boyfriend, Rob, and I painted it all in a bright white paint that I already had.  At one point we were both in there - me cutting in and him rollering.  DIYing in a confined space - that's a test for any relationship!  (Luckily we passed!)  Even though I'd rather the pipes were boxed in, they do look better in white I think.  It all looks fresher and cleaner.  (Well, I cleaned it too, so it is cleaner!)

Then I added some bright accessories that I already had - the lovely colourful hand towel, an empty pink vase and flowerpot (just unceremoniously plonked there to add some colour - probably would be better if they weren't empty and a bit of thought had gone into some semblance of styling!), and an old picture frame with picture cards from Ikea.  I've had this since I rented a little flat 12 years ago.  It's just been floating around with no home since I moved into this house and I've been thinking of getting rid of it.  However, it brightens up the white and makes the room a bit cheery.

Again, I'd have put a lot more effort into this if I'd wanted to spend time and money on it - but I'm pretty pleased with the quick free makeover.  I won't be ashamed to let people use that toilet now!!







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Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Baby Blanket Progress

I've been making a bit of progress with the baby blanket mentioned in my last post...


I love the turquoise and sunshine colour - but am not convinced on the grey.  I like the combination and think it's quite modern and trendy - but after the bright turquoise and sunshine, I'm thinking a bright red might actually look great for a cheery baby blanket!


I've only done a couple of grey rows, so I'll do a little more to see what I think.  But it might end up being ripped back - watch this space!!

In other news, I've actually managed to get some amaryllis to flower...


I'm definitely not green-fingered, so this feels like some kind of miracle to me!



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Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Baby Blanket Plans


One of my oldest friends is having a baby at the end of April, so - of course - I had to make her a baby blanket!

They haven't found out the gender of the baby - so I had the challenge of picking gender-neutral colours.  Whether any colour should be gender specific is a whole other topic of conversation.  Whether is should be blue for a boy, pink for a girl... that's opening a can of worms I don't feel like opening right now!

Regardless of this, my friend isn't really a pastels and pink kind of girl, so even if she is having a girl and had found that out, I wouldn't have gone for pinks anyway.

Therefore I have picked what I hope to be modern bold colours that would work for a boy or a girl, and that I think would fit my friend's preferences.


I've bought Stylecraft Special DK in Turquoise, Grey, Sunshine and White and am planning a stripy blanket with a border I am yet to decide on.

I generally take forever to finish anything, and I've started this fairly late... so I'd better get a move on!  I will be sure to show you my progress...



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Sunday, 7 February 2016

V-Stitch and Those Pesky Ends!

I've started work on a colourful new crochet project in a stitch I've never tried before... v-stitch.

Dinki Dots - V-Stitch Crochet

I love it - so easy but so effective!

But changing colour EVERY row causes the inevitable plethora of ends to sew in...

Dinki Dots - V-Stitch Crochet

Two ends for each row... argh.  I have decided to make a start on sewing them in and will not continue crocheting until they're all done.  Then I'll force myself to deal with them after each row.  It's got to be better that way - as hard as it is to resist the urge to add just another row, and another, and another... and leave the ends till later.  Future Maria will thank me for this discipline!

What's it going to be...?  Well, you'll have to wait and see!



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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Crochet Gloves - with Fingers!

I mentioned in a previous post that I was trying to make gloves for a guy at work who struggles to buy gloves that fit as he has short wide hands.

It was a tricky project as everywhere there are patterns for fingerless gloves, wristwarmers, etc - but there are a lot less for 'proper' fingered-gloves (so to speak!).  In the end I found this one and used it as a very vague guide in so much as I crocheted from the top down - the fingers first.  But I used dc (tr UK) stitch and after looking at it for the initial idea, I mostly just made it up as I went along to try to fit it to his hands - made to measure!


Well, I finished them on Sunday night and handed them over yesterday at work - just in the nick of time as the temperature has plummeted!  He seems very pleased, reporting today that they are nice and warm.


If the baby finger on one glove looks smaller than the other - it is.  He damaged one of them playing rugby, so it's a bit crooked and didn't need as long a glove-finger on that hand.  See?  Bespoke!  (And during this process I discovered I seem to be the only person who calls it a 'baby' finger - but hey, I'm calling it that anyway!)

As I finished them in the evening and handed them over at work the next day, I didn't have much time to get any decent photos in daylight.  The above picture was in the morning before work, whilst it was still pretty dark and dingy.  The rest were in the office in artificial light, so excuse the quality...


These were worn by a female friend at work, who was helping me try to get an ok picture.  They don't fit her properly - you can see they're too big - but this gives you an idea.

As grateful as the recipient was, he is a bloke and they do not enjoy women fussing around them, trying to get them to hand-pose for pictures!!  (Especially when they're at work trying to do their job, which I should also have been doing - this is a place of work, not a craft club!)  This is the best I could get...ha!...


They do fit him very well (like... well, a glove - hilarious!)  I really am quite pleased.  When I spotted him putting them on to leave the office at the end of the day yesterday, I admit I felt a little proud!

So, there you have it - my first completed make of 2016.  I hope for lots more!


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Tuesday, 12 January 2016

To Make or To Buy?

If you are a bit of a crafter and a maker, you might find yourself seeing things in the shops and thinking 'I could make that myself'.  This happens to me all the time - so much so that I often don't buy the item, or actually feel a bit guilty if I do.  



For ages I'd been thinking of making myself a lovely soft grey cowl.  Then I spotted the above cowl in the Cologne Christmas markets, on a trip with my family at the end of November.  It is made from such soft snuggly alpaca yarn that I really couldn't resist it, despite thinking I should instead find some wool of equal scrumptiousness and make one myself.  It's not like it would be difficult, it's just a long strip sewn into a circle...



But, there would be the challenge of finding the ideal yarn and then the hours I would need to spend making it, and would I ever actually get round to it?  (So many craft ideas, so little time!)  Sometimes, when the perfect item presents itself to you, ready made and just waiting to be used and enjoyed... it's hard to say no.

I have made cowls in the past - a knitted one and a crocheted one - but they were small ones designed to go once around my neck.  I can choose to have this new one wrapped once, twice or three times around and it is so warm and cosy!





What do you think?  Do you ever have this dilemma and the guilt of buying something you know you could make yourself?  Surely, just because we CAN make it, doesn't mean we HAVE to..?  I say we should cut ourselves a little slack!




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Thursday, 7 January 2016

Crochet Glove WIP

A guy at work has asked me to crochet him some gloves.  This is because he struggles to find gloves in the shops that fit him due to the fact, as he puts it, he has "short wide-ass hands".

I'll be honest, I didn't really want to make them as I had no idea what I was doing and didn't find the idea particularly inspiring.  But... I felt bad for him and his poor cold hands, so I got guilted into starting!  I made no promises it would work out, but I thought I'd give it a go...



This has been ongoing since around October - I started a finger, ripped it back, started again, and had some to-ing and fro-ing bringing them into work to check they fit ok.  (Of course there was the big gap when I was working on the advent calendar and couldn't possibly focus on anything else!)

Before Christmas I got to the point above where I think for the first time the poor guy thought he may just end up with a pair of gloves after all!

I think it's time I got back to the hook to see if I can actually do this and produce gloves that fit him.  I guess he's just lucky it's been a mild winter!  But it would still be helpful if I manage to finish them before summer...








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Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Creation Consolidation - 2015!

Happy New Year!

(And I have FINALLY responded to the comments on my last few posts - so if you have been waiting for a reply - there was a question on colours used in some crochet back in October - it should now be there!)

I wasn't actually going to bother with a round-up of last year's creations, as it was a bit of a strange year for me.  I started the year in a long-term relationship, which ended in June.  He moved out and since then I've nabbed myself another victim boyfriend.  All the life changes meant I haven't really been very creative at all during the year.  To be honest, I wasn't feeling very positive about this new year either.  During the last few days of 2015 and the first few days of 2016, I felt less than optimistic about the year ahead.  I guess 2015 really didn't go how I thought it would, and it left me wondering what unhappy things might await me this year - how's that for cheery?!

However... I perked up yesterday!  Oddly enough coinciding with going back to work after the Christmas break - who'd have thunk it?  So, time to be more positive and upbeat and have a little look at what I did manage to make... click on the titles to go to the original posts...




(Not a make, but some tips and motivation for actually printing some of those digital pictures hidden away on our computers)


(Actually made end of 2014 but blogged in 2015)

















And there you have it.  Not a lot at all, and some very quick makes amongst them.  There were a few decent items, though, that it's good to look back on.  I think it does help to see them all in one place on these round-up posts, as I made more than I thought.  I hope that 2016 will be far more creative and productive, though!


In case you're interested, here are my yearly round-up posts for:


I didn't do a round-up for previous years, but you can see all my finished projects at the below links:



Fingers crossed for a good year in 2016 for us all!


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Monday, 28 December 2015

Book Reviews - August

Yes, you read that right... August!  I've finally got round to writing this post on the one book I finished in August, which also happens to be the last book I finished.  My reading has really slowed down - time has really passed in a blur these last few months!

I wanted to get this in quickly before the end of the year, so that my reviews are complete for 2015.  I've decided not to continue with book reviews on the blog, as I don't really enjoy writing them and I'm not sure they're that interesting as I don't want to risk giving any spoilers!  But it was worth a go.




Gone Girl
- Gillian Flynn

This book was really good!  I've mentioned previously that I watched the film for this first, which was excellent.  It then inspired me to read all the books by Gillian Flynn, and I've reviewed her other two here already.  (Sharp Objects and Dark Places.)

This is her third book and it was so good.  I think it would have been better if I'd not already seen the film, as I knew what was going to happen.  I still enjoyed it, though, and would most definitely recommend it.  It is dark, intense and very intriguing, keeping you wondering and questioning (well, it would have done if I hadn't seen the film!)  A great book, which leaves you thinking about it after you've finished reading.  Read it!



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* Links to the books I've read are Amazon affiliate links

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Fabric Advent Calendar

I mentioned earlier this year that I broke up with my ex back in June.  Since then I've started going out with someone new (ooh, exciting!) and decided to make him an advent calendar.  (No, he's not 7 years old - I just thought it would be fun and thoughtful... and he is a bit of a big kid at heart!)


What I didn't anticipate was quite how difficult it was going to be.  There are so many easier ideas for advent calendars - if you feel like doing one, I recommend the easy route!  But I got this vision in my head, and just had to try to make it.  It took a long time as I was trying to figure out how to do it as I went along.  (Check out my Advent Calendar Pinterest board for other ideas.)


I can't even begin to work out how many hours I put into it, and how often I cursed myself and my stupid ideas... but when it was done I was glad I'd made the effort!

It's a big old thing too - about 55cm x 111cm.  And when it's full of gifts it's pretty heavy!!


It's quite difficult to photograph, due to its size and the terrible light this time of year - the colours in the first picture are the most accurate.  It's just laid on the carpet at the moment, for these pictures, but I will be hanging it on the wall with command hooks.  (I hear good things about them, and hope they'll do the trick without ruining my paintwork!)

A bonus of the project was that it cost me nothing to make (not including the presents of course) - I used red upholstery fabric I'd been given as someone no longer needed it.  For the pocket borders I used fabric I already had which had been awaiting a Christmassy project since last year.  I already had the white felt which I used for the numbers.  Each of those was cut out by hand and hand-sewn on!  I found the hand sewing the only relaxing part of the project actually - whereas I thought it would drive me mad having to stitch on so many numbers!


I think I'm going to be more excited than him when it comes to the present openings...

What do you think - was it worth the effort, or should I have just bought a standard chocolate one from the shops and saved myself all that time?!





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Monday, 5 October 2015

Happy Scrappy Progress Report

In my last post, I showed you the start of my happy scrappy scarf (organised by Pink Milk here).  I thought it was time I showed you the progress so far!


Oh, I am loving it!


Those colours!


So glad I decided to join in with this... can't wait to have it wrapped around my neck - a nice bit of pretty colour to combat any gloomy grey days!



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Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Happy Scrappy Scarf

Have you heard of Pink Milk's Happy Scrappy Scarf-Along?

Well, I'd been watching on quietly... until I gazed upon this basket of pretty pastel cotton yarn...


I'd taken the bold bright colours out to make my Japanese Flower coasters - so just the pastels were left.  I thought they really would make a pretty happy scrappy scarf!

As I have a deep-rooted fear of random, I knew I had to have a plan.  Fortunately, I'd created an excel colour plan for the stripy blanket I've been making (for the past two years, eek) which also has five colours and looks random, but has a convoluted method behind it!  So I replaced each blanket colour with one of the scarf colours, to get the plan below...


And very excited that made me too!  Time to get to work... I decided to use half-double crochet (half-treble UK)...


I got this far and realised that I wanted to double up the rows I'd decided to do.  I was going to do bands of 1, 2 and 3 rows, but I wasn't happy with how it looked.  I decided to rip it back and start again, with bands of 2, 4 and 6 rows.

I'm much happier with it now, it looks less flimsy if that makes sense (and half the amount of ends to sew in is no bad thing!)...


Loving those colours.  It's pretty addictive, because I keep wanting to finish each colour to see how the next one looks!

Thanks to Heather for organising this, and the great inspiration!  I will be back with progress!


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