Thursday, 24 December 2015

A Christmas Star

Well it's finally Christmas Eve, the presents are wrapped, the crafting is finished, the Christmas crafting that is and it's time to show you my final Christmas make of the year, Christmas stars.

I made a clutch of these stars a little while ago and finally got around to blocking them.

I'm not sure where I got the pattern from, it may have been from a magazine but as I have it jotted down in a notebook with no reference I can't trace it.

I wanted to make a garland but I don't really have anywhere to hang garlands or bunting. No fireplaces mean no mantels.So I crocheted a long braid, attached the stars and hung it at the small window looking out onto our back garden. Red stars against the background of white curtains, they look better in real life as the photo doesn't do them justice.

Wishing you all a happy and peaceful Christmas.


Friday, 18 December 2015

Christmas Stockings

Hello there, do you like to hang a stocking up for Christmas? We usually don't as there are no children in the house, however a couple of weeks ago N dropped a bit of a bombshell on me when he suggested we make each other something this year. I often make gifts for people but I don't usually make them for N as he has quite definite tastes so I had to put my thinking cap on and fast. He didn't want any of the usual crocheted garments so I felt stumped until I came up with one of these.

I've made crocheted stockings before for our niece and nephews which they loved, each one had their names either embroidered or appliqued with tatted lace letters and decorated with Christmas buttons. Why not make N a stocking and fill it with little (bought) gifts as a compromise? Yes, that might work but one lonely stocking hanging up? Wouldn't two look better? Perhaps more? Before I could change my mind (or have N find out) I was crocheting two stockings along with another decoration this week.

I chose this free Waiting For Santa Stocking pattern from Red Heart. I've used this pattern before and as it is a beginners level pattern it is very easy and quick if you have a couple of hours to spare. It uses a 5.5mm hook and I chose dark green DK acrylic yarn from my stash for N's stocking and purple DK for the second one.  The stocking doesn't need a lot of yarn, I had just under 100g each of the purple and green yarns and still have some left after finishing the stockings. I've only used the purple for photos as it shows up better than the very dark green.

The pattern is worked from the top down and is written in American terms but is easy to follow as it only uses double crochet throughout (written as sc on the pattern). It is a great pattern for a first attempt at a crocheted stocking or if you need to make something in a hurry. The pattern uses two colours of yarn for the stripes however I worked the stocking all in one colour instead of stripes, only using a contrast for the heel, toe and a band at the top. I chose cream as the contrast colour for both stockings and took photos as I worked the heel and toe in case it helps anyone new to crochet wanting to make a stocking.

The heel is worked by joining the contrast colour yarn in the stitch indicated on the pattern for the chosen size and double crocheted to the end.

The dc is then continued along the opposite edge to join the two sides.

The heel is shaped by decreasing,

and then increasing before moving on to the foot.

The main colour is joined to the heel in the relevant stitch and a row of dc is worked to the end of the heel where it then joins to the bottom of the leg.

The pattern continues in dc to the end of the row. The foot is worked by continuing in dc until the desired length is reached before joining the contrast colour to work the toe.

The toe is worked in one section at a time and shaped by decreasing, then the foot is folded and all the seams are sewn together to finish the stocking.

I tweaked the pattern by making the leg slightly shorter and finished it by joining the contrast yarn to the top of the leg, working in the round to create the cream band at the top. Before fastening off I made the loop by crocheting a 3 chain strap and attaching at the bottom of the contrast band. If you leave long yarn ends they can be used to sew the seams and reduce the amount of weaving in when you finish the stocking. All the stockings need now is to be decorated. Buttons, motifs, felt, whatever you fancy could be used for decoration.

I enjoy the whole of December leading up to Christmas but this weekend before Christmas is especially nice as I always decorate the house this week and finish with putting the tree up. I make mulled apple juice and mince pies and with some carols playing will enjoy decorating the tree with N. I've also been making a Christmas garland this week which has just been blocked, starched and is now drying, more on that soon.

Til next time,


Sunday, 6 December 2015

Let it Snow....

Hello folks,

for once, I am not talking about the weather but Christmas traditions. I love this time of year, keeping and making new traditions as we move through the short December days towards Christmas. I don't like to start too early so wait until December, starting with the lighting of the advent candle on the 1st. I love my Christmas traditions and am always interested in other peoples' traditions too so I thought I'd start my first Christmas themed post with a tradition I started a few years ago and that is popping a little crocheted or tatted surprise in some of my Christmas cards.

Snowflake cards anyone? Big or small, glittery or pure white, beaded or plain, I don't know anyone who doesn't like these little surprises in their cards. In the past I've made tatted icicles and stars, this year I decided to make snowflakes, the one above is a pattern by Caitlin Sainio from the book 75 Lace Crochet Motifs which I reviewed earlier this year.

While the wind howled round the house and the rain hammered down over the last few days I sat with my hook and cotton making a variety of snowflakes, from small to large, for various recipients. The one on the right I embellished using a Pinflair Pearl Wand after I added the red crocheted loop to turn it into a tree decoration. The small snowflakes could be used to decorate plain gift tags or napkin rings for the Christmas dinner table however I tend to use them all for tree decorations. It helps to know which friends like large trees and which have smaller ones so I can tailor each decoration to it's intended recipient.

Once all the snowflakes were made and blocked, I stiffened them with a can of spray starch. They could also have been stiffened by painting with a weak glue solution but as I wasn't using glitter I used the starch instead. Once dry they were almost ready to go.

The snowflakes can have a crocheted loop like the one in the picture, narrow ribbon threaded through the top picots or even a loop made from a length of pearl bead ribbon, anything you wish to use really.

Although I don't make my own cards the motifs could be used for card making, turning them into a card and small gift in one by attaching the ribbon loop to the inside of the front of a card so it can be removed after Christmas and kept to use as a decoration the following year.

Whilst the pattern for the large snowflake is not mine, I made up the simple smaller snowflakes myself and you are welcome to use the pattern if you like this idea or there are lots of snowflake patterns about on the internet. I used size 10 crochet cotton in white and red and a 2mm hook.

Small Snowflake 

Working in the round and using UK terms:

1. Make 4 ch, join in a ring with a sl st.

2. 1 ch, 5dc in ring, sl st to 1st ch.

3. 5 ch, sl st in next dc of ring, repeat 5 times ending with a sl st at base of 1st ch.

4. Sl st to 3rd ch of 5 ch loop on previous round, *3 ch,  1 picot (3ch, sl st in 3rd ch from hook),

3ch, sl st to 3rd ch of next loop* repeat from * to*

ending with last sl st at the start of the 1st loop.

For small snowflake fasten off here, block and starch, for medium continue as below.

Medium Snowflake

Follow pattern for small snowflake then work 5th row.

5. Sl st in each ch to and including picot, *4 ch, 1 picot, 4ch, sl st to picot at point of loop on previous round* repeat from * to * ending with sl st at the start of the 1st loop as in row 4.

Weave in ends and block. Stiffen with starch or paint with a solution of 2 teaspoons PVA glue and 1 teaspoon water and leave to dry on waxed paper. If you want to add glitter use the glue method and add the glitter before the motif drys.

I'm sorry the photos aren't very good, unfortunately the light has been very poor over the last few days making it difficult to get good pictures. I hope you like this and it may give you inspiration for a new tradition of your own. The end of the first week of advent also means baking the first batch of mince pies and making spiced hot chocolate for me and gingerbread latte for N. This year I also made a plum and marzipan tart. What traditions do you keep? I'd love to know if you would like to share them with me.

Til next time.


Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Winter WIPs

Hello, it's time for a quick catch up post before starting on Christmas makes. Winter is well and truly here now in this part of the world so it's time to enjoy making the house cosy and welcoming as the temperature drops and we move through the shorter days. Living in a modern house we don't have an open fire so for us this means turning up the heating and using the cosy glow of soft lamps and candles to create that warm, welcoming ambiance. Winter also heralds a return to casseroles and crumbles, home made soups and steamed puddings. Curling up on the sofa, sometimes with a book and a hot chocolate or mulled drink, more often with seasonal crochet projects which I can't bring myself to work on at other times of the year and so it is that I have returned to a project I didn't finish last winter.

This will be a cosy tunic to layer up with when it is finished. The pattern is one which was passed to me from a magazine a few years ago, friends and family often pull out and pass patterns to me from magazines if they think I will like them. The pattern used Sirdar Luxury Cotton 4-ply yarn however I had this sock yarn already in my stash so used it instead.

The bottom half of the tunic is worked in a mix of trebles and puff stitch with the top half worked in trebles only. I do need to concentrate when I am working on this top as whilst the body of the top fits if I work to the pattern the shoulders are too big so I have to adapt it which makes for difficult interesting progress.

Do you find yourself changing the types of projects you work on as the days draw in? I haven't started making anything for Christmas yet as I'm not making any gifts this year, I do plan to start making little bits and pieces this week though and will post them as I make them. Have you been making gifts for Christmas yet?

Til next time,