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baby blanket business

Which-way filet, in (mostly) 8-ply cotton yarn.

I helped friends celebrate their wedding, back when it was possible to do those things with a degree of carefree abandon that we might not see again for a long while. They now have a baby daughter, and I have made her a pram rug using the which-way filet pattern. What with one thing and another – loss of enthusiasm, making mistakes and having to unpick, and all the usual business of life – it has taken me a little while to finish it and I am still not sure when I’ll be able to deliver it.

I used a 4.00 mm crochet hook and a mix of yarns: mostly BWM 8-ply cotton yarn in shade 807 Peach, and some white Lincraft cotton yarn left over from the rainbow blanket. That was also 8-ply. Because I didn’t have enough of anything to keep one colour scheme I worked the last rounds of the border with white BWM 10-ply cotton yarn. I can’t tell the difference, even when I look closely, so I’m sure the baby in question won’t be upset about the mix-and-match nature of the article in question.

Simple border, to provide a tidy finish

The border was a very simple one, whose detail now escapes my memory! Inspection suggests it was a row of UK DC into every stitch of the final pattern round, so that I would have a tidy edge from which to do a narrow finishing round. That finishing round was a two-stitch half-treble cluster all the way around. I kept the corners plain, so that I didn’t get too tangled up. Finished size is about 72 cm / 28 ins square.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2021 in Crochet

 

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quiet days

Home-pickled olives, the neighbourhood’s finest

Whatever you celebrate, or don’t celebrate, I do hope that you’ve managed to find some joy at the end of this very strange year. We’ve been unusually quiet, but fine with that. The Bs were out on their motorcycles today. YoungB has a farewell party to attend later, so they weren’t away for very long. Of course there was a load of laundry magically doing its thing in their absence.

Youngest Aunt hosted the usual Boxing Day lunch, and we enjoyed the fruits of her labours and her garden. In a nice symbiosis, the olives in the photo are from a neighbour’s tree, which hangs over the fence. The neighbour is happy that the olives don’t go to waste. DrB has been raving about the excellence of this year’s batch. Youngest Aunt and Uncle had foraged locally for porcini during the season. The dried, stored and later reconstituted mushrooms were showcased in lasagne, whose sheets were homemade by Youngest Aunt. Youngest Uncle helped with turning the handle, he said, so that they were able to achieve a good rhythm that led to consistent output thickness: teamwork for the win.

Youngest Aunt has always been a good cook, but – like most of us, and particularly when she was in full-time paid employment – time poor. Now that she is retired, and with the added incentive of having to stay home during lockdown, she has been able to refine some hitherto unused, or rarely used, skills. She acknowledged that gadgets such as a dehydrating oven are now an essential part of her kitchen. We were all extremely grateful for her expertise, dedication and hard work.

Did homemade feature from our end? Yes, there were handmade face scrubbies and a shower puff. Oddly enough I didn’t take any photos of the shower puff; and that might or might not have been the precise pattern I ended up using. There are many good video tutorials on YouTube. The one I made was blue with a white crab-stitched edging, somewhat like the face scrubbies. It took me almost a week to make, I think, but felt longer because it was one of those rapidly multiplying stitch totals that never seem to end. I used Bendigo Woollen Mills 10-ply cotton, but can’t remember what size hook.

That’s about all I seem to have done. I wrote no cards this year, except for one or two to accompany gifts. I didn’t post anything, and with the convenience of e-gifts and e-vouchers there was no necessity to do so. Perhaps next Christmas – yes, there’s likely to be a next one and it will be here before we’re ready for it, same as every year – we’ll be able to present things in person. In the meantime, we’re safe and not as isolated as many. We have much to be grateful for.

Year’s end is astonishingly close. May it be one where we can raise a glass to the fact that we survived this extraordinary year as we toast what must surely be a better coming year.


 
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Posted by on December 27, 2020 in Crochet, Food, Musing

 

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day of decision

Bright colour to cheer the grey days

Most of the world awaits the 3 November election outcome of a foreign power with bated breath. At least, that’s how it seems.

Here? My return to the office has been officially confirmed for 2 November. The fallout from that is of far more immediate concern in this little corner of the globe. By way of practising with noise and crowds and stress, we do the occasional jaunt into the CBD for small gatherings. I acknowledge that we are extremely fortunate to be able to have those. If push came to shove, I’d rather stroll in my garden and pull out a few weeds!

As with many things in life, options are limited in spite of generalisations that might be made about there always being a choice. Over-simplification is rarely a helpful thing. Life is complex. I suppose if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that simple things hold greater value than we often allocate to them but that they are underpinned by complex systems. As a public servant, I’m part of a large underpinning system that helps a lot of people.

However, I am making a concerted effort to get back to things other than paid work. I’m crocheting a rug for a friend’s granddaughter, who arrived a little earlier than scheduled. In spite of our relaxing restrictions, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to deliver that. So you might not be surprised to hear that, although I’m using the wondrously rapid which-way filet pattern, I’ve come to a grinding halt. The 8-ply cotton yarn is from my favourite supplier, in a soft peach tone. I’m using a 4mm hook. It looks lovely.

By way of immediate needs, YoungB has needed a few rescue jobs: hole-patching on his long-sleeved cycling jersey and short bib-knicks after a recent fall (already done by hand and the clobber back in action); adjusting shoulder straps on another pair of bib-knicks so that they don’t sag quite so much (in the waiting pile); and taking up hems on his suit pants, which are now too long because he’s slimmed down. Fine. I can do that (they’re in progress but well on the way to completion).

I can also make a little scarf for him to wear with the suit for a Very Important forthcoming function, and I will. On Saturday, he and I shopped for fabric so he could choose the colour. It’s not going to be a particularly fancy scarf, but as he’ll be one of the MCs for the evening, he wants to make an extra effort. I’m happy to oblige. Somewhat surprisingly, Dr B approved of both our fabric and colour choices.

The test now will be whether I can pull off the actual sewing. I’ve found some suitable thread. It’s all straight seams, and the difficulty level of the fabrics involved isn’t high. But it’s a while since I did any sewing. We’ll see.

Whatever you’re doing with your time, may it include the satisfaction of small accomplishments to counterbalance global upheaval 🙂

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2020 in Crochet, Cycling, Health, Musing, Sewing

 

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blanket business

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A messy, inside shot of the rainbow blanket, so not the brightest outcome

And now, are you ready for the details? Here we go.

For the rainbow blanket:

The sunburst granny pattern worked on a 5mm hook, to make the puff stitches puffier and so I could wiggle my hook through them, using the following colours of Lincraft 8-ply cotton. In rainbow order – you  might recall, I cycled through a four-round ROYGBIV for each square and a white joining round in a five by seven layout:

Colour in rainbow Yarn colour and amount used
Red Red, 50g, dye lot 37706
Orange Orange, 50g, dye lot 37004
Yellow Yellow, 50g, dye lot 37705
Green Bottle green, 50g, dye lot 48612
Blue Aqua, 50g, dye lot 43807
Indigo Denim, 50g, dye lot 48610
Violet Lavender, 50g, dye lot 37708
White light (all colours combined) White, 150g, dye lots 46603 and 48403

 

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My actual matrix. Unscientific, but effective 😀

It’s true that I broached a second ball of yarn for most of the colours, but that was generally around considerations of potentially running out mid-round. Only one or two colours really required that second ball. Most of them were factually a little under the full 50g. As you know, I did run out of white but Dr B saved the day.

For the neutral palette blanket:

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Eight petal colours cycled six down then two at the top of the next row, and so on, so that no rows or columns were identical.

African Flower or paperweight pattern, and I used the first one I found on YouTube. I later checked several other tutorials, but preferred Parineko’s “octagon to square” method.

Another benefit of multiplication being commutative, and 24 being a multiple of three, four, six and eight, is that there are more layout options. Happily, I was able to keep tonally similar squares near each other. I checked that with Dr B, mind you, before I committed to the final layout, because his colour vision is a great deal more reliable than mine.

Worked on a 3.5mm hook to ensure a firm fabric. I used a variety of yarns, all 100% cotton. The colours I wanted weren’t available when I first looked and I hadn’t decided on a pattern. I wanted to make a start on the blanket because I was less able to join rainbow squares once the cooler weather hit. So, like anyone with an aged, well-curated stash, I tried to make do with what I had.

Lockdown then further dictated either what I was able to buy when I needed another outlining colour for the petals and/or where I was able to buy it. I’d originally thought about grey for the joining colour but was unable to purchase a sufficient quantity for that task. OK, then, not grey. I discarded the idea of cream/parchment because I thought it might make for a tonally flat result. But, as you know, I found a different joining colour: a mustard shade whose actual descriptor is coriander, which makes more sense if you think dried seeds.

  • Round 1 all squares (centre): butter (Lincraft)
  • Rounds 2 and 3 all squares: cream (Lincraft) or parchment (Bendigo Woollen Mills (BWM)) when the cream ran out and I was unable to source more
  • Round 4: three squares of each of these eight different colours
    • French rose (BWM yarn)
    • natural (Lincraft) – which I considered for joining
    • bright mustard/gold (Abbey Road kung fu cotton yarn, made in Italy for Spotlight; Lot 10)
    • dark olive green (Abbey Road kung fu cotton yarn, made in Italy for Spotlight; Lot 09)
    • hedge green (Lincraft)
    • Nile blue (Lincraft) – which I thought was dark jade, but was probably blue
    • periwinkle (Lincraft) – which I thought was a soft lilac, but was probably blue
    • clearwater (Lincraft) – which I thought was light jade, but was probably blue
  • Round 5 all squares: silver – which I read as grey and had originally intended to use for joining but didn’t have enough and couldn’t source more
  • Round 6 all squares: cream (Lincraft) or parchment (BWM), and another alternative for joining but I wanted greater contrast
  • Round 7 all squares, joining round: coriander (ficio Organic cotton yarn, made in India, purchased at Lincraft; Lot SC36-1 – which I read as a dark mustard and hadn’t considered for joining until it was all I could find in sufficient quantity and, as a matter of fact, fell in love with)
  • Border
    • Round 1: parchment (BWM)
    • Rounds 2 and 3: dark olive green (Abbey Road kung fu cotton yarn, made in Italy, purchased at Spotlight; Lot 09)
    • Round 4: bright mustard/gold (Abbey Road kung fu cotton yarn, made in Italy, purchased at Spotlight; Lot 10)

For the joining round on both blankets, I used Hooked by Robin‘s Solid TIGHT Continuous Join As You Go (CJAYG) PLT Method. I probably made more than a few errors but it worked and I liked the way it turned out. It may now be my preferred JAYG method.

Finally, I note that both blankets were made with much love for two new little cousins, and able to be discussed and displayed openly now that they’ve been presented to their intended recipients and their mums.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2020 in Crochet

 

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scrub-a-dub

So now what? More than one day’s effort, really, but a good little wind-down exercise.

Because I’d had a weekend day in front of the computer doing something far too much like work – not complaining, because I was helping a friend, but admitting that it was a little too much screen time – and because I had the yarn Right There where I was sitting, I made some giant face scrubbies. YoungB thought they were coasters, but they’re not quite large enough (in my opinion). They’re pure cotton, so eco-friendly. Because they’re cotton they’re washable, meaning reusable many times. Eco-friendly again. Could they get any better?!

The question now is, do I make an accompanying laundry bag? Or should I simply enclose them in some heavy paper with the laundering instructions? Given how cold it is in my sewing room – much too cold to work there – the paper sounds like an appealing option. The purists would argue that paper isn’t quite as eco-friendly as a reusable fabric bag, but if I’m providing laundering instructions, they have to be written on something.

Made with 10-ply Bendigo Woollen Mills cotton held with 8-ply Lincraft cotton using a size G / 5.0 mm crochet hook and a mixed and matched pattern from several www sources. They’re nothing very extraordinary, but the crab-stitched final round is nice.

Please forgive the very poor photos and believe me when I say that they’re the pick of the bunch!

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2020 in Crochet

 

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the idea of blue

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It’s amazing how little you can have to show at the end of a day without even one long meeting 😀

Restrictions on our movements are relaxing, and we are slowly returning to our offices. I am not relaxing at all with regard to my crochet. Having completed the rainbow blanket, I am now re-energised in terms of the neutrals. It really is mostly neutrals, and they are lovely. I thought that a round of colour in each square would help to define each petal without overwhelming the generally soft palette. Initially, I aimed for things not associated with current gender norms, but my dodgy colour vision has probably let me down.

You can imagine how it goes: what I think is lilac will probably turn out to be someone else’s idea of blue. What I think is pale jade will probably turn out to be someone else’s idea of blue. What I think is dark jade is probably going to be someone else’s idea of blue. So, in case all of that is true, I’m adding in a couple of colours that are unquestionably whatever they are. One is a yarn whose name is French rose, so when I say it’s pink, I’m not relying solely on my judgment of its appearance. It works beautifully with the cream and grey that are the dominant colours in each square. I’m trying to source some mustard yellow – which Dr B was unable to find – and wondering if I could possibly wind off another 50g of sage green and some berry, to make sure that at least some of the outline colours won’t be anyone’s idea of blue.

Does that sound ideal?

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2020 in Crochet

 

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enabling or providential

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Sing me a rainbow! I hope you can read the colours, in case you want to order some, too 🙂

My mother was a great enabler. I well recall the day she came to me and mentioned, oh so casually, something along the lines of, “I’ve just been to the local second-hand shop and there’s a set of hardback Dickens novels there for $10.” She didn’t suggest I should buy them. But, as a uni literature student, it was pretty much a given that I would do so. And I did! I have them still, and they don’t look at all out of place with the variety of other books in my library shelves including a good selection of other Dickens titles.

How could I forget the time she encouraged me to buy a piano, accompanying duet stool and assorted sheet music, at auction? We had a piano at home, but I was about to head out into the world on a permanent basis and would need my own so, you know, it was not a silly suggestion and the instrument was in fair condition. We decided on my upper bidding limit, which was obviously dictated by my then financial resources. My limit turned out to be higher than that of my chief rival bidder, because the piano came home with me. Once tuned, it moved with me to various suburban locales and enabled me to put in a lot of hard work over many years before I sold it to a fellow student and bought a more serious instrument. Every now and then, I dust off some of the sheet music that formed part of that original auction item.

When it comes to yarn, however, I must say that Bendigo Woollen Mills (BWM) do it every time! I receive one of their new shade cards and oh, the colours! Or, oh, the softness. Often, it’s oh, the colour and the softness. I’ve been looking around for cotton to crochet little blankets for a couple of new cousins. I generally trawl my LYS in the hope of finding something appropriate because I like to shop locally. The dilemma then is that, if I do find anything, although I’m keeping my spending local and can start straightaway, I’m generally buying overseas product. BWM takes a little more time, but it’s local enough to be a better environmental option at least with regard to its travel-related carbon footprint.

Luckily, time is on my side for these blankets, as they’re not required until next year. I will use up some stash yarn, but wanted a splash of brightness and my stash is largely on the sombre side. I haven’t seen anything in the LYS that could hope to rival the colours in the latest shade card from BWM. The two new colours are particularly appealing. So, you know, I might have to bend the plastic and crochet a few extra blankets while I’m at it, just in case there are to be any other new cousins.

May all your enablers have such providentially helpful timing 😀

 

 

 

 

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Tom’s tote

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String bag by any other name

I finally finished the market tote, and immediately gifted it as a birthday present.

What should I do next?!

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2019 in Crochet

 

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still on the go

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Probably larger again by now, but this will give you an idea of how it’s going.

The green string bag/shopping tote/market bag is still going. It’s much larger now, but I’m back at work. Hence, exhaustion is already creeping in and although I well understand the value of retaining craft work as some sort of therapy, I cannot summon sufficient energy by day’s end to do much more than sit with Dr B as he watches TV. Often enough, we both pump a lot of Zzzz’s and decide to call it quits without much TV-watching and certainly no crochet.

Work will continue to be busy for most of the year. There will be some easing of pressure in a few weeks, but the sector is in such upheaval that it’s unrealistic to anticipate a huge improvement. I’ll keep going on the crochet when I can. it all helps a bit. Right?

So, as I say, we’re still on the go: I and my crochet. Hope you are, too 🙂

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2019 in Crochet

 

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rulers of our kingdom

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I couldn’t get my head around the bag I was trying to make. So I started another of the market tote/string bags.

I’m not sure if the requisite rest is being factored in, although I’ve had a couple of days where I’ve simply collapsed after lunch because I could not manage to stay upright. Once or twice, the Bs have done the same thing 🙂 YoungB has been so tired and out of synch – a drawback of shift work, as I’m sure you’d agree – that he hasn’t yet managed a day at the beach. He’s occasionally been lucky enough to visit friends with a pool.

Every now and then, Dr B and I sit under the apricot tree in the backyard and survey our little world. The lawn is looking summery – ie, dry, brown, and crunchy underfoot – but it’s still a lawn, and not mud (or, given the time of year, dust). Our fences are mostly high enough that neighbourly intrusion is kept to a minimum, so we sit and survey our realm, as it were! Sometimes I take my crochet with me.

This is the same cotton yarn I used to make Youngest Aunt’s Christmas present. I’d intended to something more akin to Dr B’s cherry bag, but was not having any luck at all. Oh, well, there’s no harm making yet another of the old favourites. They’re always useful; and this is at least easy to do while semi-watching TV with Dr B. I won’t make this one with a long enough handle for it to be used cross-body, but have yet to decide precisely what I will do in that regard.

I hope your 2019 is rolling along smoothly and that you’re making good progress on your projects.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2019 in Crochet

 

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