Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Kya's Mermaid Tail

Hello dear friends and readers πŸ˜€

There's a new craze if you're a young girl, or if you're an old one too really - and that is mermaid tail blankets. I've seen pictures of them all over the place from pinterest to ravelry, and on many many shopping sites, they seem to pop up everywhere.  I'd toyed with the idea of making one for Little Miss but never quite got round to it. You know how it is, life is busy and these things just stay somewhere near the end of the ever-lasting never-ending to-do list. I then was asked by a friend to make one for her 11 year old daughter for her birthday, and the colour scheme requested was "very girly, pink and purple". 

When friends ask me to make things, I always confidently go "Yeah! Of course! Absolutely! I can make that! No worries!" .... and then I go off and have a mild panic-attack "Oh my gosh I've no idea what I'm doing or how to do it or where to start, er better look at some pics online" and end up scrabbling around the internet to find a pattern or something. And this time the Internet came up trumps with this great freebie pattern from yarnutopia

The pattern called for chunky wool, and I think I mentioned in a previous post that I rushed out to buy some, and got started straight away. The only problem was I really wasn't liking how the chunky yarn was working out to this pattern, the blanket was really stiff and un-drapey. I do tend to crochet quite tightly so maybe I should have tried a bigger hook. As it was I was using a 6mm hook, and I find if I go bigger I just get more cramp in my hands. So I decided to ditch the chunky and start over in double-knit. So yes I had to rip out the 20 or so rows I'd done - sob! There is nothing more un-gratifying than ripping out work. Especially work where you've changed colour every row so you don't even get a nice decent sized ball of yarn, instead you get multiple annoying little ones.....

Anyway back to the blanket, and the double-knit with a 5mm hook came out really well. I used a purple, a pink, and a purpley-pink (original, huh?!). They're were all from my stash (hurrah!!!) and were various brands. One King Cole, one a strange Sue Ryder label from their charity shops (though the yarn they sell is new) and the pink one was labelless so who knows what brand that was. The pattern is a really simple shell pattern with a 2-row repeat, and I changed colour at the end of every row. I love how this gives it the effect of scales. 

The blanket is worked from the top down, in rows back and forth, and as you get to the bottom you join the sides together and begin to work in the round. Then do a few clever decreases thereby sort of gathering the end together, and this creates a little closed in section that you can tuck your feet into, so it's lovely and snuggly. The fin part is made completely separately, and sewn onto the main body at the end. As the pattern had called for chunky and instead I had used DK, I had to increase the number of starting chains, and work more rows, so I was winging it a bit, but it seemed to work out fine. What I then didn't think about was that of course then the fin would also need scaling up. To do this I just worked a border all around it for a few rows.

The last thing to do, other than sew in the ends - yawn - was to add a border around the open part of the blanket. You could opt to sew the back all the way up making a really long thin tail, a bit like a sleeping bag, but I think it's more flexible if you only have the small part at the end joined up, it's easier to get in and out of for a start, although I will grant you that the dressing-up possibilities may be slightly hampered. So, to get back to the border, I added a row of half-trebles all the way around.

And here it is all laid out. I wish you could have a go in it, it's super cuddly, perfect for a bit of TV-watching, or lazing on the sofa reading a book. Not that I ever get the chance to do that these days...

I adore how it turned out. As a pressie for an 11 year old I love everything about it, I'm really pleased with the colour combination I chose - and believe me I faffed about for ages with goodness how many shades of purple and pink - choosing colours is something I always find tricky - but I think these work well together. And I love how soft and drapey it is, just lovely to cuddle into with your teddy.

I have it on good authority that the birthday girl loves it tooπŸ˜€ Soon I'm going to make one for Little Miss, it's her birthday in about 6 weeks, and one for my friend for Christmas, yes she is grown-up but grown-ups lounge on the sofa too, don't they.

Til next time,

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Jack's Baby Blanket

One of my favourite things about a new baby (aside from the fact that it was someone else who had to go through the whole pregnancy and birth thing, and the new born cuddles and the basic miracle of life) is the opportunity to crochet a blanket! Yay! This time the blanket is for my friend's new baby, Jack. My friend is a very close friend, she was one of my bridesmaids, and her husband (then fiancΓ©) was one of our Best Men (we had two!).

I've seen a lot of star blankets around, and I reckoned one of my million magazines must have a pattern for one, so I spent some time leafing through them (SUCH a chore lol) and found one in this magazine .....

It's really more of a book - perhaps a bookazine ? - but made by the same people who make Inside Crochet. They had this pattern for a 12 pointed star blanket, called the Celeste Nursery Blanket.

It was a fun make and easy make, the pattern is basically a ripple pattern but done in the round and increasing every row.

The original pattern had a large pompom on every point but I don't really agree with pompoms on baby things, so I decided to add a crochet trim that looks like mini pompoms. The pattern for the trim this one from Once Upon a Pink MoonOnce Upon A Pink Moon.

As you can see each mini-pompom is really just a popcorn/bobble style stitch, much safer for a baby.

The yarn was from my stash and was a mixture of random DK from different manufacturers, and I've chucked the labels away already so I can't tell you what they are, sorry.

I took some pictures outside today as the light inside is so poor.

But we had to come back in for a shot of the full thing, and that was an exercise in speed and efficiency as Pixie the puppy was desperately trying to keep the blanket for herself!

I'm looking forward to delivering the blanket to Jack and his Mummy this week, hope he likes it πŸ˜€

Til next time,

Friday, 23 September 2016

Five on Friday

Hello dear friends and readers πŸ˜€
Another Friday has rolled around and boy am I glad. A busy and very stressful week for me as you'll see when you read on. Today I am joining in with Five on Friday, hosted by Amy over at Love Made My Home . Here are 5 snippets of my week....

1. Major drama on Monday morning - I was out walking Pixie .... here she is on our walk ....

... and about 5 minutes later she bolted off, terrified by a (very nice, normal) lady, and managed to yank the lead out of my hand. She was then missing for the next 24 hours. It was horrendous. I couldn't find her at all, and after about an hour of searching I was in a real panic. I reported her missing to the vet, the dog warden, the pet shop, and posted on every facebook group you can imagine. My lovely friend made some posters and fliers with this picture of her, also taken that same morning .....

The help and support from the local community was amazing. I myself was looking in hedges and bushes until 10pm, in the day random people were letting me in their gardens and helping me look, loads of local dog walkers (most of whom I didn't know) came down to help, lots of friends, with their kids and husbands helped, and a dear friend brought me cups of tea. I searched and searched all around the local area for about 10 hours - my pedometer told me I'd walked 19km. Reluctantly I gave up at 10pm, it had been pouring for about 5 hours, I was drenched and couldn't see anything anyway. We left out a crate with blankets and water in case she tried to find her way back. As I was leaving another stranger approached me and said he was looking for her as he'd just seen one of the hundred or so leaflets I'd delivered. But I was so exhausted I had to go home. Of course our own children were dreadfully upset and none of us got much sleep.
Hubby got up about 5.30am and went to check the crate, but no sign of her. By 9am we'd got the children to school, hubby has gone off to work, and I'd just printed out a load more leaflets, and was getting ready to go up to where we lost her, with a disposable BBQ to cook some burgers (donated by another friend as I am veggie!) to see if the smell would lure her out, we were convinced she was hiding somewhere, terrified. I knew I'd look like a complete nutcase having a barbeque in the rain at 9am on a random pathway, but was going to give it a go anyway. Before I left the house my phone rang. It was a local dog walker - saying "I've got your dog" !!!!!  OH MY DAYS!! I have never been more relieved in my whole life. I raced out of the door to go and find them - and a few minutes later there she was !! We had a lovely, cuddly, licky reunion. Me and Pixie that is, not me and the man. Though I did give him a hug). And I'm trying to find out where he lives so I can buy him a bottle of whiskey or something.
She had been caught, tangled with her lead, deep in some bushes in a nearby field. The man's dog had found her and barked so madly that the man had gone to see what was wrong, and saw Pixie all caught up in the bushes. We think she had been out all night and had got herself so tangled she couldn't move. The man freed her and she soon perked up. She is absolutely fine now after her ordeal, although it might take me a bit longer. So stressful! Here she is having a snooze later that day....

So all's well that ends well!!

2. We've managed a few more walks this week and I've had the lead superglued to my hand. Everything is looking very autumnal - after all it was the equinox yesterday.

Lots of lovely berries around....

I love the colours in autumn, especially early autumn when the light is good.

3. More nature shots. This was the sky on our walk this morning, such a glorious blue sky, the sunshine is so good for the soul .....

 4. I've decided I really need to make more things from magazine patterns. As you all know I'm a magazine addict, and I do always have a tinge of guilt when I buy one. (Not enough of a twinge to not buy them though). So I spotted this little butterfly kit lying around, and found the magazine it came with - Simply Crochet issue 46.

About an hour later and I had 2 little butterflies, one fridge magnet, and one brooch ...

Aren't they cute ?

I'm thinking that making these would be a great way to use up yarn odds and ends. Little Miss has already requested some to decorate her bags. Oh and here is one of me wearing the brooch though the light and focus is terrible, sorry!

5. Finally here is a little sneak peek of Jack's baby blanket which I will be sharing in my next post.

That's it for now, hope you all have a fab weekend,
Til next time,

Friday, 16 September 2016

Five on Friday

Hello lovely friends and readers !
Today I am linking up with the very lovely Amy of Love Made My Home for Five on Friday . I haven't done a Five on Friday for a reeeeeaaallllly long time, but I'm hoping to write more regularly on my blog - got my blogging mojo back - hurray! So I'll be joining in every Friday :) Thankyou as always Amy for hosting πŸ’š

This week has been a scorcher, really hot and humid which of course is great if you are chilling by the pool with a gin and tonic but not nearly as much fun if you have to do school runs, supervise homework, carry endless baskets of laundry up and down stairs, and do the weekly grocery shopping. Which in my life is more like 3 or 4 times a week. But the weather broke yesterday with the most amazing storm. I got caught in the monsoon-like downpour whilst running between the shops and my car, there was a the most deafening boom of thunder at exactly the same time as a big flash of lightning, I thought for a moment I would get struck. Seriously. My daughter, who was waiting in the car, said she reckoned it was just in the field next to us. It continued most of the night but as it was still very hot, I had a fan on in the bedroom which must have dulled the noise of the storm, as I slept right through it. Luckily the children did too, and it appears that the puppy is not afraid of thunder or lightning. She's afraid of everything else though. Including anyone taller than a 10 year old (except hubby and I thankfully), all forms of vehicle, actually going in the car, plant pots (yes I know) and cats. We met a cat for the first time this week. Poor Pixie didn't know why on earth it was. The cat was in full-on stalker mode, fur all puffed up, tail straight up in the air, fixing its steely eyed stare on us. We walked away, well I walked, Pixie pulled frantically on her lead, but the flipping cat kept stalking us, about 10 paces behind. We lost it eventually, but seeing as it actually was bigger than Pixie I suppose to us it would feel like being stalked by a bear or something.

Anyway on with Five on Friday. Some random photos of my week.

πŸ’œ I started a new bullet journal.
If you haven't heard of Bullet Journalling , go check it out on Pinterest or Instagram. Lots of lovely pics of clever designs, writing styles and fancy doodles. Mine is very plain by comparison, it's basically a glorified to-do list, but a great excuse to break out the stickers and colouring pens. And yes that is the base of a glass of wine you can see.

πŸ’™ Pixie hiding under her blanket.
She loves to sleep with her face tucked into something, quite often it's my armpit as she is a really cuddly dog and will lie in your arms endlessly. Very therapeutic but not so helpful for getting anything, including crochet, done.

πŸ’š I found this in Little Miss' bedroom.
I was tidying up the hazardous waste zone that she calls a bedroom the other day. How can a girl who is so girly, so fussy about her appearance, and about the clothes she's wearing, bear to have such a pigsty of a room? But I better not get started on that. It's a whole new blog post of despair. When I ventured in last week I found this message on her chalkboard. Love it, she is spot on. (The wool in the background is mine, it was a nicer backdrop than scrunched up paper, crisp packets, dirty clothes and filthy PE kit which would have been the backdrop in her room. Humph. Maybe she's making the most of life by not wasting time tidying her room ?)

πŸ’› I'm working on a new commission - a mermaid tail blanket for a friend's daughter. 
I'm really, really enjoying this pattern, it's a very simple shell stitch, perfect for working on in the car, at the orthodontist's, in the garden or in front of the telly. So far it's just a big rectangle, but I'll be tapering soon as I reach the bottom, before joining the back up a bit and adding the fin thingy. I'm using this pattern from YARNutopia.

Whilst the pattern itself is easy, the project has not been that straightforward. I decided doing it in chunky yarn would be best so it would work up quickly. I probably had 20 or so rows done and at about row 5 I had lost half a shell. Blocking may have sorted that out but the perfectionist in me couldn't sell it with that obvious a mistake, plus I really wasn't liking the drape. Or lack thereof. I was using a 6mm hook but it was still very stiff, maybe a 7mm hook would have been better as I'm a tight crocheter. Anyway I made the decision to start again in DK weight yarn. That was such a good decision, the drape is gorgeous now - it is working up quite slowly, but I'm much happier with it. For the DK I was able to use yarn from my stash, which is good as I had gone and bought the chunky specially. I now have 6 100g balls of purple/pink chunky, if you have any ideas for what to make with them, I'm all ears!

❤️ Little Tomboy was 9 on Monday. 9!! I can't believe that. Where does the time go ? She got a BMX bike and a skateboard for her birthday. We live on the edge of a massive field (fab for dog walking) and at the opposite corner is a bmx track (great for tomboys). She had a go on the track on her new bike, and did quite well. She did fall off at one point and hurt her knee but she's a tough cookie that one, gets up with a "nothing to see here" look about her, straight back on the bike. I love how all my children are so different. She is such a tomboy but so cuddly and loving. Won't give you a kiss but will shout LOVE YOU as she runs past the kitchen, and does permit me to kiss the top of her head before school. Never stops talking, and is always either joyously happy - "it's the BEST day EVER Mummy!" or excessively angry, "This is the WORST. DAY. EVER.", there are no undercurrents with this one, what you see is what you get. I especially love that she knows her own mind and chooses what she wants to do and wear and does not follow the crowd. So proud of her.

Til next time peeps,

Friday, 26 August 2016

Bundle of fun

Hello dear friends and readers :)
We've been on our summer holidays from school for 5 weeks now, and gosh it's flown by. For the first 4, yes 4, weeks we were in our holiday house in Northern Ireland, which I'll get onto on another post, but for now I have to tell you about the latest reason for absence of posts here at emerald cottage. And this little lady is that reason .....

Cuuuuuuute or what ?!?!?!! We've called her Pixie and she has turned my life completely upside down! She is a dachshund or sausage dog, we got her at 8 weeks and she's now 13 weeks. The Maths whizzes amongst you will have worked out that we got her 5 weeks ago at the start of the school holidays - actually we picked her up on a Tuesday, school broke up on Thursday and we drove the 15 hour journey to Northern Ireland on the Friday. Not the best timing, but hey-ho, that's how it goes in our lives !

So our holidays in Norn Irn were a bit limited this time as we didn't want to leave her on her own for too long, but we couldn't take her out until she'd been fully vaccinated. 

Anyway, she is gorgeous. Sooo lovable and adoring and adorable and cute and snuggly and just perfect. The Little Peeps all love her and it's so gorgeous to see her gazing at them adoringly when they are tickling her. She's formed a really strong bond with all of them, and with me and Mr EC too, she is already firmly part of the family.

And actually I've been surprised at how the children have all stepped up to look after her, play with her and even clear up what we are calling "Pixie-dust" ....

There is of course total chaos - the afore-mentioned Pixie-dust, and chewing, biting, eating of shoes and anything else she can reach, eating the kitchen roll as you try to clean up the pixie dust, escaping the garden, digging up the carpet, shredding the sofa with her claws, not to mention shredding our hands and arms as she "plays", and the piece de resistance - eating her own poo! That's a thing for dogs apparently, who knew ???!!

She has already decided she is a big wool fan .....

.... so crochet is somewhat limited at the moment.

I did manage a bit on the beach (notice Pixie sleeping in the background) .....

.... and I crocheted up a little bag for Little Miss to use for her phone ....

(I forgot to take any pics of the finished article, sorry, but here we are plaiting the strap ...!

 .... and I also made some progress on my Lazy Hookers CAL blanket ....

Ive been trying really hard to get this finished cos I'm so fed up of having so many WIPs kicking about. I've only got 2 more large squares to go and then I can get on with joining. Which reminds me I must go and get some blocking of the squares done in preparing for that.

Til next time!

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Almost There and New Books

We are Almost There. It feels like the end of term, and the end of the school year, and, for Little Miss, the end of primary school, is tantalizingly close now. We've still got a Summer Fayre, an Awards Evening, a School Play, a Leavers Picnic, a Leavers Disco, and a Leavers-Actually-Leaving-Thing to get through before we can breathe a collective sigh of relief at having survived another school year.

Meanwhile we are also Almost There with the house decorating. The painter was here for over 4 weeks - groan - but finally - hurrah - finished today. We didn't have anything structural or particularly messy done - thank goodness - how do people live through kitchens being ripped out and extentions built, knocking through etc ?? We only had cosmetic stuff done and it was stressful enough for me. As nothing major was done and we are only Almost There I'm afraid my photos aren't very exciting yet.

In all 9 rooms were painted - kitchen, front room, downstairs loo, playroom, our bedroom, our en-suite, main bathroom, Little Tomboy's bedroom and the under-the-stairs-cupboard-come-cloakroom. Does that count as a room ? Well, I have to say that once emptied and cleaned out and re-painted it looked amazing, I wanted to shove a mattress in there and lock myself in with a lamp and a book. And maybe a cup of tea. Each of the rooms was painted ceiling to floor, skirting boards, doors, door frames, and radiators. Lots of little jobs got done - new loo seat fitted, shelves put up, and - rather expensively - we now have lovely new chrome door handles - our old ones were very tarnished brass, very fiddly and fancy with twiddly little ends on which and I was forever catching my arm as I rushed past. They drew blood lots of times, I have little to scars to show for it - yikes.

We even had our front door painted and some nice new numbers affixed. The reason we are only "Almost There" and not actually "There There" is that we still have loads of general cleaning to do, furniture to be put back, and Stuff to find homes for. Stuff. So much Stuff. Where does it all come from ??? I'm sure we don't need it all. Hoping to have a bit of a purge over the weekend.

Meanwhile, rather unusually, I have broken out the knitting needles - I've seen so many people doing the Hitchhiker Scarf - most recently Meredith (www.mereknits-mereknits.blogspot.com- and I really fancied doing one myself. For the first time I purchased a pattern on ravelry, rather than using only free ones. And I must say it was worth it, I'm really enjoying it.

I'm a slow knitter, and I can't be doing with the counting etc that knitting seems to entail more than crochet, but I have to say that this is a great pattern, really simple and easy to follow, but produces a piece that is interesting in its structure. 

I'm doing it in this Sirdar yarn, I bought it ages ago because I just liked it - well, why not ?! The effect it produces is really quite intriguing, and I love the colours.

My crocheted star blanket is growing nicely too ....

I really need to crack on with it, I'd like to give it my friend before we go on our summer hols.

On a whim (I was looking for something else which I can't even recall now) I made a couple of eBay purchases this week - crochet books - yet another crochet-related addiction. I do like a good crochet book - as much for flicking through, as for making things from. Each of these were about £3, bargain-tastic.

"crochet love" has the tag-line "27 Sweet and Simple Zakka-Inspired Projects". Ever heard of "Zakka" ? No, neither had I. According to the blurb inside "Zakka is a Japanese term for a design sensibility that is cute yet sophisticated, playful yet profound, contemporary yet nostalgic". Glad we cleared that up !!

I don't know about profound but the designs certainly are cute and playful, here are some pictures from the book ....

"i love crochet" has some great really simple projects, some with a nice little twist .... like this little beaded pencil-case,I'm love the envelope-style closure, and the beads make it so pretty ...

... And there's a section on edgings and how to use them .... for example on this denim skirt ....

There are also some really fun pages .... very silly :)

Ooooh yes and I nearly forgot, I bought this one - full-price from Amazon - on the recommendation of a friend, and oh boy it is a beauty.

I reeeeeeally want to make everything in it Right Now. just look at these gorgeous gorgeous projects ....

Just totally swoonsome and gorgeous. Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous. Did I mention they are all gorgeous ? Another book that's a joy to just sit and flick through with a nice cup of tea. Which is exactly what I'm going to do now :)

Til next time,