Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Free pattern: On the Record

I made a batch of these crocheted record coasters as a house-warming present for Chloe and Celena, who have recently moved into a new flat:

 

They're quick and easy, require only small amounts of yarn, and they're reversible too! I used the half-double crochet stitch for most of the rounds, because I like the ridges it creates (perfect for a record). Each coaster is about 4.5" wide, which is big enough for a large mug. If you want smaller coasters, omit Round 5 in the instructions.
 
If you're new to crochet or would like a refresher, there are some good tutorials out there. I like the detailed photo-tutorials at the Attic24 blog (e.g. Flat Circle), the clear diagrams at
How to Read a Crochet Pattern, and the beginners' series Crochet School. As for actual books (gasp), my favourite is Debbie Stoller's The Happy Hooker.

Photos of each stage in this pattern can be found on my Ravelry project page: House-warming coasters.

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On the Record 
by Amy van de Laar

This pattern uses US crochet terms for slip-stitch, dc, hdc, and sc.
A simple conversion chart for UK terms: Crochet Stitch Comparison Chart
 

Materials: 
  • DK or worsted-weight yarn in black plus one or more contrasting colours. I used Morris Norway 8ply in 'Black', and Bendigo Classic 8ply in 'Silver', 'Cherry Red', and 'Tasman Blue'. You will need about 16 yards of black for each coaster, and smaller amounts of the contrast colour(s).
  • a 4mm crochet hook,
  • a needle for weaving in ends.

Pattern: 

Round 1 (Colour A): Make a slip-knot, chain 4, and join with a slip-stitch to start of chain. Ch2, and work 11 dc (double crochet) into the centre of the ring. Join to the top of the initial ch2 with a slip-stitch, and fasten off Colour A.

Round 2 (Colour B): Join Colour B, ch2, and work 1hdc (half-double crochet) into same place. Work 2hdc into each stitch of the previous round. Join to top of initial ch2 with a slip-stitch, and fasten off Colour B.

Round 3 (Black): Turn to other side of coaster, and join Black. Ch2, 1 hdc into same place. *1hdc in next stitch, then 2hdc in next stitch,* repeat from * to * until 1 stitch remains, 1hdc in final stitch. Join to top of initial ch2 with a slip-stitch.

Round 4: Ch2, 1hdc into same place. *1hdc, 1hdc, 2hdc,* repeat until 1 stitch remains, hdc in final stitch. Note: the 2hdc will fall between the 2hdc of the previous round. Join to top of initial ch2 with a slip-stitch.

Round 5: Ch2, 1hdc into same place. *1hdc, 1hdc, 1hdc, 2hdc,* repeat until 1 stitch remains, 1hdc. Join to top of initial ch2 with a slip-stitch.

Round 6: Ch1, 1sc (single crochet) into same place. Sc into each stitch of the previous round. Join to first sc with a slip-stitch.

Fasten off yarn, weave in ends, and block to help them lie flat.

A side
B side













© Amy van de Laar 2014.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Socks!

I'm in the midst of a sock-knitting phase, brought on partly by the cold weather (we're getting frosts in the mornings!) and partly by the urge to knit up some of my sizeable stash of sock yarn.

I'm a relative beginner at knitting socks, so I've been reading up on how to get a good fit on blogs and the Ravelry forums. I found the Kiwiyarns Knits series of blog posts 'Secrets of the Socks' especially useful (and inspiring, with all the pretty yarn photos). Part 1 is about super-twist sock yarn, Part 2 is about sock structure and fit, and Part 3 is about different kinds of sock yarn, and how hard-wearing they are.

So far I've been using merino/nylon blend yarn from Vintage Purls, double-pointed needles, and simple patterns. The pair I'm currently working on is the most decorative - the stitch pattern isn't just simple stocking stitch - and I think it's a great pattern for variegated yarn: the toe-up version of Scott Base from Sezza Knits.



Today I'm wearing a pair of DK-weight socks, which are lovely and thick and warm. They're Basic Adult Toe-Up Socks, in Vintage Purls Max. The colour is called 'Mauveine', a bright glowing purple! This is my second pair using this pattern/yarn combo - I made my first pair last winter.


Yesterday Dad took some cute photos of me playing with Hazel and showing off my blue stripy socks. These are Super Simple Socks (a free top-down pattern by Tash of HRYC), again in Vintage Purls Sock. I want to make more in higher-contrast stripes - maybe black and yellow bee-stripes. :)






Saturday, July 26, 2014

Winter flowers

It's lovely being somewhere with a proper garden again - there's always something interesting to have a nosy at, and there are always at least a few birds going about their business. It's especially nice to see fantails again, and it's fun to watch the sparrows hopping in and out of their birdhouse. :)

This afternoon I went flower-hunting around the garden, and I found lots of pretty wintery ones, some showy, some shy. Daphne is definitely one of my favourite flowers (the scent is amazing)!

Click the photos to enlarge...

A hyacinth ready to go

Hellebores

Pink daphne

White daphne

Chaenomeles or flowering quince

Violets where the titoki tree used to be

Primroses

And snowdrops :)

On holiday

I'm in Whakatane for a couple of weeks, taking a break and visiting the family. Today was a lovely sunny winter's day, so we went for a drive over the Ohope hill to get fish & chips at our favourite spot, the Ohiwa Oyster Farm.

There were fewer humans there at this time of year, but just as many birds! The usual scrum of seagulls, plus a few kingfishers and even a weka nosing about in the mud.

Low tide at Ohiwa

On the way back we spied a couple of lambs eating grass and wiggling their little tails. So cute!

From afar...

...And close up, courtesy of Dad :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

New pattern: Beeswax mitts

The final pattern in my Beeswax set is now available - a pair of fingerless gloves covered in honeycomb, called the Beeswax mitts. :)

 

Features:
  • a double-layered honeycomb texture made up of mini-cables
  • thumb-shaping which blends into the surrounding honeycomb
  • instructions for knitting mini-cables without a cable needle
    (see also: the links in my post on the Beeswax hat)
  • stretchy stitch patterns which help ensure a snug fit
  • knit at a tighter gauge for durability
  • one size, can be re-sized by altering gauge
  • both charted and written instructions 
  • requires less than one 100g skein of DK-weight yarn 

The Beeswax mitts pattern is available as a pdf download from Ravelry.
The set of hat, cowl, and mitts is also available as an ebook: The Beeswax Set.

I had fun drawing some more little bees to include in my photos - these ones are in charcoal and yellow pastel:




The lovely golden yarn is Vintage Purls Max once again - I used some of the second skein of 'Toffee Deluxe' leftover from my cowl.

I was pleased (and relieved) to discover that Max holds up well when subjected to repeated 'frogging'/unravelling. It took a few tries to come up with a really good way of doing the thumb increases! I wanted them to really blend into the pattern seamlessly, and happily, I found a solution after a bit of trial-and-error:

The 'gusset' at the base of the thumb looks like one more honeycomb. :)

Hat, cowl, and mitts!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Mending

One benefit of being a crafter is that when something made of yarn or fabric needs mending, chances are you'll know at least one way to tackle it.
For example, because I have basic hand-sewing skills, I'm able to replace buttons, sew a hem, patch jeans, and fix small holes in knitwear. I do all this by trial-and-error, and not terribly tidily! My hand-sewing skills are still a bit rough. ;)

I would, however, like to learn a proper darning technique for when my precious hand-knitted things need repairs. I've been into knitting socks lately, so holes are only a matter of time...

Last year I repaired a second-hand jersey which had a hole in one sleeve cuff, and a couple of ragged bits at the edge of the other cuff and the bottom of the hem. I used laceweight yarn from my leftovers stash, and a small crochet hook to do the repairs. I crocheted around the hole on the cuff with grey yarn, and then filled in the hole (crochet is great for free-styling). I dealt with the 'bites' on the edges by crocheting over them with a contrasting golden yarn. I went right round the cuffs and hem to make it look more deliberate:

Sleeve 1

Sleeve 2

The hem

This afternoon I decided to finally repair my old pair of possum/merino gloves, which had a couple of tiny holes from wear and tear. They're good basic gloves, and I'd stopped wearing them to prevent the damage getting worse, so I'm glad to have them back. :)

Again, I crocheted around the holes first, and then decreased in a spiral. I managed to do a much tidier job this time, partly because the holes were small. I then decorated the repaired-bits with duplicate stitch.

Glove 1, with repair to palm

(and decorated)

Glove 2, with repair at base of thumb.

The decorations were inspired by the 'visible mending' aesthetic of knitter and darning-teacher Tom of Holland. He uses a multitude of patterns and contrasting colours to repair knitwear, which I think is really neat. You can see some of his work on his blog.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

New pattern: Beeswax cowl

And here it is, as promised! The Beeswax cowl is a slouchy, comfy neckwarmer with the same mini-cabled honeycomb texture as my Beeswax hat.



It requires 280 yards of Vintage Purls Max (a little more than one skein), or another plump, bouncy DK or worsted-weight yarn.

I used a different shade of VP Max for the cowl (this one's called 'Toffee Deluxe'), because I like the way the colours complement each other without matching precisely. If you do fancy a matching set, two skeins of Max will be enough to knit both the hat and cowl.

I love this close-up of the texture!

Features:
  • a double-layered honeycomb texture, which flows into and out of the ribbing
  • instructions for knitting mini-cables without a cable needle 
  • one size, with simple instructions for re-sizing both height and circumference
  • both charted and written instructions 

For tips on knitting mini-cables/twisted stitches without a cable needle, check out the links in my post on the Beeswax hat.