Monday 24 November 2014

Granny Sleepover Bag

No, not a bag for Granny when she comes to stay, but a crochet bag with a circular base, and sides made from granny squares.

I started this a few months ago, and yes, as usual, it was another great start with a rather slower finish.

The inspiration came from a bag I'd seen on the internet, but I can't seem to remember where, probably Pinterest. I had saved the pattern as a PDF, but on closer inspection, the bag looked as though it would be quite teeny, so I scaled it up and changed the border quite a bit. The end result is a sweet little bag that would be perfect for a girls sleepover or perhaps to stuff a mini WIP into, or even your purse, phone and keys, you know, just the necessities (assuming you are not currently in possession of a pre-school child, obviously).

Well anyway, as usual I had a rummage (great word, "rummage", isn't it ?) in my stash and selected some quite wintery colours. Strange, seeing as it was June. Must've known I wouldn't finish it til December :) There's a lovely dark dark blue, a deep red, a dark grey, some white and an oatmeal (aaaaah oatmeal, I would be lost without you, my favouritest of stash yarn). All were double-knitting yarns of various brands, and I used a 5mm hook.

The base is a flat circle with 6 rounds, and the sides are 18 granny squares in total (6 as you go round, and 3 high). 

I made the base, then made all 18 granny squares, then joined the grannies all together to make a cylinder 6 squares round, 3 squares high.

Next I joined the granny-cylinder to the base.  I worked out how many base stitches needed to join to each granny square (ie. the total in the final round divided by 6) and marked them with stitch markers (Simply Crochet freebie anyone ????!). My first attempt had a very baggy base so I frogged a couple of rounds of the base to make it fit together better.

Then I worked a few rows of border around the top edge of the granny cylinder, and finally I made and attached a drawstring. 

Because of the traditional granny square (as opposed to solid granny), the bag is quite loose and holey, so I decided to line it as well. I found a pretty red and white flowery fabric and used almost exactly a fat quarter.

I didn't have to scour the house for a compass, my large embroidery hoop was just right to trace around for the outline of the base lining piece, with a 1/2" seam allowance.

I had a large rectangle left for the cylinder-sides part of the lining. I gave it a nice double turned over seam (do you like the technical term there) so the top edge would look neat. And I cut out the circle for the base.

After a little bit of fiddling and faffing (and maybe the odd swear word and minor fingertip injury) I managed to pin the circular base to the non-circular side piece. Is this akin to "easing in an arm" type thing that they always talk about on the Great British Sewing Bee ? 

I popped the lining, still wrong side out, inside the crocheted bag and hand-sewed around the top to join them together.

The finished bag was supposed to be a "For Sale item", however Little Tomboy had other ideas and asked if she could have it.

I'm not very good at this selling lark, am I ?! if I do actually manage to finish an item, one or more of the Little Peeps bat their best big puppy dog eyes at me until I give in and give up whatever masterpiece I've just finished. Which usually then gets dragged around the the floor in various guises (food receptacle, floor polisher, den-builder, costume of some sort, weapon, defensive article). 

I could easily say no, you can't have it, but instead I take a deep breath, smile, and say Oh Go On Then :) When I am older and greyer I won't look back and think "I wish I'd sold that bag", instead I will remember the time they built that den and had a teddies' dressing up tea-party. And so I let them have my makes if they want, this is the stuff that memories are made of, isn't it :)

Below is the pattern for the bag. I've tried really hard to make sure it's accurate, but if there are any mistakes, let me know :) Also I dud have an inspiration on the bag but as the sizing, border and lining etc are my own addition, I am posting this as my own pattern. Please feel free to share but if you could link back tone that would be lovely :)

Granny Sleepover Bag Pattern

For the Base: (nb beginning ch3 of every round counts at a tr)
Make a magic ring.**
Rnd 1: Ch3, 11tr into magic ring. Slip stitch to top of ch3 to join (12tr)
Rnd 2: Ch3, tr in st at base of ch3. 2tr in every tr to end (24sts)
Rnd 3: Ch3, 2tr in next tr, *tr in next tr, 2tr in next tr, repeat from * to end, join with slip-stitch to top of ch3 (36 sts)
Rnd 4: Ch3, tr in next tr, 2tr in next tr, *tr in each of next 2tr, 2tr in next tr, repeat from * to end, join with slip-stitch to top of ch3 (48 sts)
Rnd 5: Ch3, tr in next 2 tr, 2tr in next tr, *tr in each of next 3tr, 2tr in next tr, repeat from * to end, join with slip-stitch to top of ch3 (60 sts)
Rnd 6:,Ch3, tr in next 3 tr, 2tr in next tr, *tr in each of next 4tr, 2tr in next tr, repeat from * to end, join with slip-stitch to top of ch3 (72 sts)
Fasten off

For a Granny Square: (make 18)
Make a magic ring.
Rnd 1: Ch3, 2tr, 2ch, *3tr, 2ch . Repeat from * twice. Slip-stitch to top of ch3 to join. Fasten off.
Rnd 2: Attach new colour in a corner space.
Ch3, 2tr in corner-space, ch2, 3tr in corner-space, ch1 *3tr in corner-space, ch2, 3tr in corner-space, ch1, repeat from * twice. Slip-stitch to top of ch3 to join. Fasten off.
Rnd 3: attach new colour in a corner-space. 
Ch3, 2tr in corner-space, ch2, 3tr in corner-space, ch1, 3tr in next ch-space, ch 1, *3tr in corner-space, ch2, 3tr in corner-space, ch1, 3tr in next ch-space, ch 1, repeat from * twice. Slip-stitch to top of ch3 to join.

Assembling the Bag So Far
Join all granny squares in an array of six by three squares. There are lots of ways to do this, I used a slip-stitch through the back-loops only, on the wrong side, so the seam is hidden and the squares have nice definition.
Rightghtbsides together slip-stitch the sides to the base, you should have about 1 stitch from the base to 1 stitch of the squares around the bottom.

For the border:
Row 1: Work a granny stripe around the top of the squares (a granny stripe being 3tr worked into the chain space of the previous row, and in between do 1 ch. Also work 3 tr into the corner-spaces along the top of each granny.
Row 2: ch3, *1tr, 1ch, sk q st. Repeat from* to end.  Slip-stitch to join. (ch gaps leave space to thread the bag tie later).
Row 3: 3ch, tr in every tr or ch.
Row 4: 2tr in every tr to end. Slip stitch to join. Fasten off. (The 2trvin every set creates a slight ruffle).

For the drawstring.
fdc (foundation-double-crochet) enough stitches to go around the bag and down the side and up again, to allow it to have a carrying strap.
(If you don't know how to do and fdc then just do a normal row of chains and then work a dc row into that. If you can work through the pain barrier of learning fdc you won't be disappointed. 

Final assembly.
Thread drawstring through gaps in round 2 of the baorder. Secure the drawstring ends together in a knot, or affix the ends of the drawstring to the base of bag (this is what I did, and I just hand sewed them securely). 
Finally make up the lining if required, and hand sew in.

**nb if you don't know how to make a magic ring, don't panic! You can just make 4 chains then slip stitch into the first chain to join, so you have a little ring made of 4 chains. You then work into the centre of the ring.

Thursday 20 November 2014

Pink and Blue Cushion

Waaaaaaay back when I first started crocheting (well, ok, it was only about 18 months ago), after making a few teddy blankets and scarfy things, I decided to really go for it, live dangerously, throw caution to the wind, and make A Cushion Cover ! Whoop!

I got out my notebook and pencils and drew a little plan of the cushion cover I had in mind. 

My stash was fairly minimal back then, so I didn't have too many colours to choose from, yet funnily enough, this is one of my favourite colour combos so far. I love the dark blue and dark pink especially, and really wish I'd noted down the brand and shade, because I have absolutely no idea what I used (and bizarrely don't even seem to have any small bits left).

The little 3 round grannies mounted up pretty quickly ....

.... and my favourite oatmeal yarn (random stuff from Hobbycraft but I use it loads) was just right for the final round.

I played with the layout a bit (and gosh my pictures may not be that great now but they've definitely improved!) ....

I didn't use join-as-you-go, instead I joined the squares together using double-crochet - yes it's tedious, but I simply adore the beautiful straightness of the outlines of those squares.

Of course at first it all looks a bit wrinkly, but nothing that a bit of good old steam blocking won't sort out ....

And so the front of my cushion cover was complete. All I had to do was turn it into an actual proper cover with a front, a back, an opening and a filling. Easy, right ? Er so why did it take me over a year ???!! Finally, at the weekend just gone, I made a bold decision, and rescued the poor thing from one of my many to-do piles. Also in that pile were two little blue cardigans that my girls grew out of a couple of years ago. Age 3-4 and 5-6. Aaaaahhhhh sweet. 

The cardigans had been deliberately set aside to be upcycled, and they seemed like the perfect colour for the back of the cushion cover, complementing the blue accent on the front.

I fastened up the cardigans' buttons, then chopped off a chunk of the sleeves to square them up, sewed up where I'd cut, and then cut most of the back off, leaving a large rectangle with buttons down the front.

I overlapped the 2 rectangles (one from each cardigan), envelope style and made up a complete cover with an off-white front, and the upcycled cardigans as the back.

Finally, I hand-sewed the crocheted piece onto the front of my cover, and put in an old cushion pad that I'd set aside.

And there you have it, my pink and blue cushion :)

It's one of those projects which, when I finally got round to completing it, it didn't really take that long, and I am left wondering why on earth it took me so long ??? And now I need to work in applying that to all the other WIPs in all those little piles around the house :)

Monday 17 November 2014

Mini makes

This weekend was really damp and gloomy - great excuse to stay in and get crafty :) Little Miss was going to a birthday party on Saturday afternoon. Oh to be a 10 year old girl again - go to your friend's house, mess about with craft stuff, have your nails and makeup done, eat crisps and cake, and go home with a goody bag, sweets and more cake. We were just giving the birthday girl a gift voucher -  very unexciting but apparently would be very gratefully received - so I thought we should include some sweets just for something to unwrap - so naturally I had to make a little bag to put them in....

Once the fabric was out I decided to use a bit more to make a pincushion ....

My helper added the pins. All of them. In one colour per section. Ah she is like her mother, we do like an orderly pincushion.

I have loads of flowers left from the Rose Blanket (, annoyingly they have 8 petals, not 6, so can't be as easily arranged together without big spaces in between. But 3 in a row make a perfect hair band accessory.

I crocheted a hairband for them in the apple green that I'd used for the leaf detail of the blanket - which is making a sneaky appearance above, look.

The band was a row of foundation double crochet to fit round Little Miss head, and then two or three rows of half-trebles, then the two ends joined together, and some button embellishments added. 

I still have loads of flowers left, more headbands coming I think :)

However next crochet job is to wave my magic hook and turn this lot into a bag ....

... and then turn this lot into a scarf for my friend's birthday (which was last week ...... but I won't see her next week. Well that's my excuse ...)

I'm starting a new embroidered picture soon, just working out the colours and pattern. It's going to be a cross-stitch version of the name-plaque of the villa we've stayed in in Florida. It's my friend's villa and her birthday is on Christmas Eve, so it's a joint birthday-Christmas present. Really loving choosing the colours ....

I must be in a cross-stitch mood these days because I've also just started a kit that Little Tomboy chose in a sale a few months back. Can you guess what it is ?

No ? Well I'll show you more as it's done, so watch this space :)

Hope you all have a lovely week :)

Thursday 13 November 2014

Rose Blanket

Ah the Rose Blanket. Long-suffering, much-maligned, often cursed. Ridiculously fiddly motifs, annoyingly long stitches, not enough of one colour, and much smaller than planned. I can't tell you how much this flipping THING has irritated me. I didn't have a lot of love for this project during its production, can you tell ?? Don't worry though, there's a happy ending.

I first spotted the pattern for the Dog-Rose Blanket in a magazine called "Crochet Gifts" that I bought ages ago, probably in about May of this year (haven't seen it for sale since!). It's also the pattern featured on the front of the book "Granny Squares: Over 25 Creative Ways to Crochet the Classic Pattern" by Barbara Wilder.  (

After a rummage in my stash I found I had just the right colours.

However, there were some warning signs: I didn't like the name (I've re-christened it simply the Rose Blanket) and the baby for whom it was intended had already been born. As usual I thought "no, no, it will be fine, I'll whip up half a dozen squares a night, be done in less than two weeks, fab". JILL!!!!! Do you not know yourself AT ALL?????

Firstly, I don't whip up anything when crocheting in the evening, I fiddle, faddle, get distracted with my phone, my cup of tea, the internet, the telly. Secondly, I can't produce several squares a night because I work up all the round 1's, then all the round 2's, and so on. Working this way ought to be quite efficient - less rooting around in the basket for the right colour, and you sort of get into the groove of the pattern for that round. 

Of course in reality, working up 60-odd of the same fiddly round over and over is a bit t.e.d.i.o.u.s so the distraction sets in, and cancels out the efficiency. Thirdly, try try try as I might, I find it really hard to start a project and focus on it right through to completion without starting a few more projects, and perhaps even finishing another little thing or two, along the way.

I plodded along with the blanket through the summer. I crocheted in the house, in the garden, in the park, just a little at a time and my little flowers began to blossom.

We went away on holidays and when we got back there was my little tin of squares (well, flowers actually) waiting patiently for me to resume working on them. And so I continued working on the blanket as summer turned to autumn, and I moved from crocheting in the mild evenings outside to working inside in the warmth, and as the days grew shorter, I was by now reaching the final rounds.

The flowery and leafy bit of each motif - the light pink centre, dark pink ring around it, then the pale pink outer petals and the little green leafy touches, were all worked in the usual (UK) stitches - chains, doubles, half-trebles and trebles. But the final round, worked in white .... groan. Like big, major G.R.O.A.N. All the stitches in that last round were either double-treble or triple-treble. Triple treble ??!!! Whoever thought that one up needs a good talking to. Loopy, saggy, long stitches, and they take ages to do. Never Again. Ever.

I was tempted to rip out the white and redo it in a less loopy stitch, but I couldn't face redoing the ones I'd done, so I kept going, on and on and on ...... and now several months after its start, it's finally finished. Hurray hurray whoop whoop etc :D 

And I must say I totally love Love LOVE it :) The colours are divine, just like a big slice of yummy cake, and the fiddliness was totally worth the effort, I think the detail is gorgeous: so delicate and yet a bit chunky at the same.

The pattern has a scalloped-y edging but I decided to stop at the two rounds of double-trebles, they give it a nice ruffle without being overly fussy.

The squares were all joined using the join-as-you-go method, and I love the starry effect this gives at the point where 4 corners meet.

I made my blanket smaller than the pattern (ok so I did run out of the light pink) but it's the perfect size for snuggling, so my snuggle expert tells me.

The pattern called for 63 squares, for a 9x7 blanket, but mine is 30 squares, for a 5x6 blanket.

It's going to reside draped over the back of a dark grey wicker chair I have in my front room, and I love the contrast of the white over the dark grey. The edging is meant to lay flat, but I like the softness of the ruffled edge so I am not going to block it .... what a rebel, eh ?!

Now it gets a bit embarrassing really. Long story short - the blanket was meant for one baby - then it got too late really - and then for a second baby - but it's getting a bit late for that too now (and no I still haven't made anything else for them. I'm rubbish at deadlines). Plus I think the blanket is just a bit too holey for a baby, I know what little fingers and little fingernails are like for catching in things, and I already caught one of those stupid triple-trebles on a door handle, so it's not really that practical for a baby. Also my husband suggested that the parents really won't appreciate all the effort that went into it, as it was hours and hours and hours of work, and I think he's right. So I've decided to keep it :)

And the snuggle-tester is very happy about that - can you spot her underneath ?