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Crochet Family Finished Handmade Handmade for Kitty Kitty Quilting

Pink rainbow ripple {handmade for Kitty}

07/05/2015

When Kitty came home from nursery on Wednesday I asked her oh so casually if she could just pop upstairs and put a couple of cardigans on her bed.  She headed up and the rest of the family tried to creep subtly after her because there right in the middle of her bed, wrapped in a big pink ribbon with a bow, was her new pillow cushion.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

So much for saying that I was shelving this project until January; I’ve finished it instead.  And I’m so pleased that I have because I absolutely love it.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

But then once Kitty decided that it was going to be hers (about thirty seconds after I finished darning in the final ends of the crochet front and she scooped it off for a hug), I had a certain amount of encouragement, persuasion and insistence to carry me along the way. So on Monday morning Elma and I dived into the fabric stash and pulled anything I thought could even possible work and then we all sat on Pip’s bedroom floor and narrowed our choices down to a generous handful of colours that seemed to go well with the colours in the crochet.

The original plan was to use an orphan star block that I made as a sample for a baby quilt I made for a friend as the starting point for the back.  It’s very cute because it has a baby Kitty handprint in the middle and someday I’m going to do something amazing with it but the more I played with it the more I realised that the colours were just a bit too strong and it was competing with the ripples, not complementing them.

With that put to one side Kitty and I just started playing around with the fabrics and I watched to see what she pulled to the front.  If I’d thought about it I probably could have guessed; it was the very tail end of a fabric covered with cake and chocolates and jelly and ice cream and she loved it.  So we fussy cut six little squares and then I sliced up the rest of our fabric selection and set to making six very scrappy little log cabin squares for the back.  It’s a real mix of fabric.  Some are from a few fat quarters that were companion pieces to the cake squares, some you will have seen crop up in other projects over the years and one is a fat quarter that I must have bought just because it was a great green and finally broke into for a couple of strips.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

I know I sometimes feel that my house is a little over run and that perhaps I should pare down the craft supplies, but I really love that I made this from start to finish from things found around my house that were spare and entirely without any plan.  That’s as near as you get to making something out of nothing isn’t it.

But as for the details, the cake centres are 3″ and the strips cut to 1 1/2″.  There wasn’t any particular rhyme or reason to the piecing, the strips sat on the corner of my desk and Kitty sat in my lap and picked up whichever one she fancied next, our only rules that we tried to use each pattern at least once, and none of the patterns could touch each other.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

I piece log cabins using whole strips and cutting them to size afterwards rather than trying to cut everything beforehand which is great for some impromptu piecing and makes my sewing look so much more accurate.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

After three rounds of logs the squares were wide enough but not quite tall enough so I joined them vertically in pairs and then added an extra strip top and bottom to finish it all off.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

With the back completed I joined all of the leftover strips and ‘lasagned’ them to make the little inner pillowcase flap, with a little extra strip on the end to get the length right, and then finished off the inner edge with some pretty bias binding that was poking out of a bag on my desk.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

 

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

 

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

And then came the challenge.  I sat and trip to work out just how I was going to put it all together.  It’s a pillowcase, and frankly it’s embarrassing how long it took me to figure it out and how long it took me to go and get a pillowcase off the bed to help.

For the record, to make a pillowcase with an inner flap,  you first sew the inner flap to the ‘front’, right sides together.  Then to make the case itself, layer the ‘front’ right side up, the ‘back’ on top of it, right side down (so right sides together) and then fold the flap up and over the ‘back’ to make a sandwich with the ‘back’ as the filling.  Then sew around three sides and when you turn it the right way around again you will have a beautiful pillow case with all the seams tucked away where you can’t see them.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

 

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

My ‘back’ was actually the crochet front but it works just the same.

Initially I intended to sew it together so that none of the edges of the crochet were hidden in the seams so that it made the most of those lovely ripples but while I think I’ve just about worked out in my head how you would do that, I couldn’t make it work with the inner flap and the other bits and bobs that were already in motion so I sewed to square off the points, lining up the edge of the fabric with the low point in each ripple row.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

The sewing itself was really very easy; I put the walking foot on my machine, used my ordinary straight stitch and always sewed with the cotton fabric on the bottom.  It came together like a dream, apparently crochet sews easily.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

And for the final touch, Kitty had been asking for buttons, longing for buttons and pleading for buttons.  When I put the pillow into the case it looked good, but not quite perfect, the crochet is so very drapy and flexible that it was trying to pull away and it just needed a little something to anchor it in place.  Ten minutes with my button jar and a sewing needle and three small buttons were attached, perfect to hold the crochet in place.  I didn’t make buttonholes or button loops or anything complicated, I just choose buttons that are small enough to push through the existing trebles.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

Kitty was away at nursery when I finished, with Elma drawing on the etch-a-sketch and Pip planning stealth manoeuvres to get his high chair and himself nearer to my desk and those oh so yummy looking pins, which was why it was wrapped up and on her bed.  Her reaction was everything we could have wanted; a scream of excitement, a dive onto the bed to give it a huge cuddle, and, perhaps most tellingly, she went to bed with her cheek on the crochet side. According to her is is her pink rainbow and it’s hers. Definitely hers.

I’d love to tell you that it fulfilled my ultimate purpose of having a nice cushion to lean against while reading Paddington but alas, Kitty was not going to part with it for all the world and I was duly provided with her usually pink spotty pillow instead.  And if that doesn’t say true love and adoration, nothing else could.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

Crochet Finished Handmade Handmade for Kitty

The scrappy mini ripple

01/05/2015

When I wrote this post, trying to decide my plans for my scrappy mini ripple, in the face of my defection to its big sister of the full blanket variety,  the one thing that I was certain of was that when I had a plan it was all going back in the bag until next spring at the earliest when I would decide whether I could bear any more rippling after finishing my magnum opus.

Well I made a plan, I tucked it all back in the bag and I popped it on the sofa next to my usual spot.  And as I sat down of an evening to watch telly or catch up with H, I found that I picket it up, crocheted a few stitches and then tucked it away again. And then a few more and then a few more and then I got out the measuring tape and realised that I actually wasn’t that far away from finishing it, and as I’ve now got quite competent at trebles and increases and decreases and counting to four, it really wouldn’t take too much longer to finish.

The plan had come about after lots of consideration of all of your excellent suggestions.  I was nearly swayed by the hot water bottle cover but in the end I looked and looked and looked some more and realised that width wise I had roughly the size of a pillow, an that if I did a few more rows to make a good sized rectangle I could make it into the front of a pillowcase with a scrappy patchwork back to go on one of the girls’ beds.  It’s the right colours for their room, it’s pretty and soft and most of all, when I sit on Kitty’s bed to read their bedtime story it would give me something other than small stuffed animals to lean against.  That may or may not have been the subliminal influence that made me get a move on and finish it.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

And finished it is. Against all expectations and inclinations. For the last few days I’ve been measuring it against one of Kitty’s pillows and then the pillowcase itself (I want it more closely fitting than a pillowcase but obviously a pillow needs to actually fit in) and finally I checked, the girls checked and Pip drooled on it and we declared it done.Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

As I was darning in the ends I had one of those moments where you wonder whether you like it at all or whether it’s actually completely out of whack and you should rip it out and start all over again.  I think I get that when I’ve got too close to a project, when I need to stand back and see it objectively from a distance.  I so often work from a pattern and I think that gives you confidence that the colours are all going to come together and it will work out and the only element of pattern in the whole thing is that I followed Lucy’s neat ripple pattern using 14 different colours, 23 rows and 122 stitches..  The width was a guess (a lucky one as it turns out) and at most I was planning four colours ahead. I certainly didn’t plan when I started and put in all that lovely pink at the beginning that I would then use the rest of those two colours to make Christmas hats for the girls and they’d never make an appearance again.  The hats were worth it though.

When I started I had a bag full of baby cashermino leftovers and it has ended up being mostly baby cash, but as time went on (and as I sorted out and reorganised my stash a bit) I added a few more bits and bobs, some Rowan Wool Cotton, a smidge of Sublime Silk Merino DK, and towards the end a bit of Rooster Almerino DK for another pop of pink.  I’ve lost track of precisely which colours they all are (though careful examination of my Ravelry page would probably tell you – they are all my leftovers after all) and I’ve marked up which yarn is which here:

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

And when I took it outside to photograph under the dappled shade of our neighbour’s beautiful magnolia tree and I could truly see it as a whole I knew that the balance I thought I’d missed was still there, and I love it.  I did momentarily wonder whether I should keep going to make a full blanket but while I still have some yarn leftover, it would be a very greeny blue blanket and I think it’s perfect stopped where it is.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

As do the intended recipients, who keep trying to run off with it for their tent.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

The next step is to consult the fabric stash for some leftovers to make a scrappy back of either a log cabin or two or just pretty squares, all depending on the size and shape of the available fabrics; the girls have promised to help, by which they mean “help” and goodness only knows what the stash will look like when we’re finished but I’m really looking forward to it.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

And as for the half bag of yarn leftover (you can see it’s gone down so much since I started here), I have a plan. Because there are two little girls and that means two pillows to be as fair as possible.  I’m not doing another ripple, I think that might be overkill, at least not without something to cleanse my crochet palate in between, so I’m thinking something modular, possibly triangles or hexagons – anyone got any ideas?

Crochet Handmade Work in Progress

Ripple and Mini Ripple

09/04/2015

Sat under the Christmas tree was a giant soft squishy looking parcel with my name on it.  I knew what it was, sort of. I’d mentioned to H that I’d really really like a ripple blanket crochet kit for Christmas, and pointed him at the website, and shown him exactly which pattern it was that I wanted, but I left it up to the family to choose the colour.  And as I pulled off the paper and the Cottage colours came into view I knew they’d got it spot on. Actually I don’t think they could have got it wrong if they’d tried, I love every colour variation of Lucy’s Ripple Blanket and I have a horribly wonderful feeling I’m going to end up wanting to make all of them, but I’m so pleased to be starting with Cottage.

And so on Christmas night I picked up my crochet hook and cast on. Is it cast on for crochet? I’m not sure? Anyway, whatever it is for starting in crochet I duly started, working the huge long foundation chain and painstakingly counting my repeats as I worked the first real row along it.Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Since Christmas I’ve picked it up in spare moments, while watching the children finish their lunch, while they play in the back garden on a rare sunny day, or while watching films or tv shows that I don’t need to actually watch and can just listen to.  I highly recommend it, Game of Thrones is much more watchable if you don’t actually watch and I made huge progress while we watched the whole four series in a Christmassy marathon.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And then it was a stitch here and there and thanks to some sterling work over the weekend I am currently finishing off the 16th colour. Just 68 colours to go then. And the border.  Based on 16 colours over a three month period I should finish sometime in the summer of 2016, but as I think we’d all like to snuggle up under it a little bit sooner I might up the ante and try to make some more progress.  After all, Game of Thrones is starting again soon and I have also finished knitting a pair of socks (more on which another day) which has been taking up a lot of my free hands time.  But as we’re currently hooked on Banished and Poldark both of which need to be watched for the scenery alone, I find myself knitting to stop my hands from fidgiting.  Perhaps I need to learn how to crochet without looking – is that even possible? Is it something that just comes with lots of practice like knitting did, or do you always wonder whether you’ve decided to randomly crochet into the middle of the blanket?Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

But even if I manage to speed crochet my way to victory and my rough deadline of Christmas that leaves me with one small quandary.  Do you remember this?

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life        

This was my ripple before the real ripple, my sort of practice, sort of not quite sure what it’s going to be but I want to use up this nice yarn from the stash anyway sort of a project.  I thought about finishing it before I started the big ripple, I did, I promise, but I am fickle and the colours were lovely and 16 rows tells of my inconstancy towards this mini ripple.

When I was merrily trebling back along that top line of Cocoa and wondering what should become of its smaller predecessor I was set in my mind that I was just going to call it a swatch, frog it back and make Kitty or Elma an amazingly stripy cardigan from all the different lengths of yarn.  But then when I went to take pictures of it and unearthed the bag from underneath the swift, half a hat that was cast on and discarded in December and several of Pip’s squeakiest toys I remembered that although it’s very different in tone, a delicate sweet pea perhaps, compared to a riot of pompom dahlias in the cottage ripple, I do actually rather love it.

I know that if I just shove it back in the bag I might never get any further with it.  There is after all a good chance that after 168 rows of ripple I may have had enough ripple to last a lifetime, or I might forget where the bag is, or forget what size hook I’m using, or just generally neglect it, so even if I don’t do anything with it right here and now, I’m trying to come up with a plan for the future.  

I don’t think it’s going to be a full blanket, I think I’d need to made the same again twice over and I don’t think I’ve got enough yarn for that.  I could fold it in half right now and make a very tiny cushion, but very tiny cushions are usually only good for throwing on the floor and getting in the way.  I think if I did do a few more rows I could make it the front of a pillow sized cushion and sew a fabric back to it, or possibly make up a scrappy patchwork back which could be fun, or I could push myself and keep trying for a giant square floor cushion.  

Or we could simply go with Pip’s idea and have it as a chew toy.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

So what haven’t I thought of, what would you do with it?

Crafty Ideas Crochet Designed by me Handmade Inspiration Knitting Work in Progress

Socks, and the knitwear formerly known as socks

29/01/2015

Once upon a time, long long ago, before I had stretch marks, bags under my eyes and three adorable children, I used to knit rather a lot.  Sort of obsessively. Rather as if I had oodles of free time in which to play with sticks and string.  And about five to six years ago my obsession dedication to that fibre art got quite specific.  I knit socks. A lot of them.  I knit socks for family birthdays, for H, and lots and lots of socks for me.  There were socks in beautiful multicoloured skeins of yarn that coiled and wrapped themselves around my feet in rich velvety swirls of colour, there were the plainer yarns used to knit up the most intricate patterns I could find, cables, lace, knots and leaves, the first pair of socks knitted from my own handspun, and a very memorable pair of pirate argyles, (that alas appear to have gone unphotographed).

And gradually my sock drawer got fuller and fuller and fuller to the point at which I phased out anything that wasn’t either hand knit or for sport.  Similarly H has work socks, sports socks and a beloved collection of fluffy socks that explode out of his drawer at the slightest opportunity.

But the problem with knitting all your socks is that they wear out.  And the problem with knitting all your socks within a 24 ish month period is that they all wear out more or less at once.

And so the casualties have begun.  Worn patches under the ball of the foot, stitches escaping from a hole in the toe and unravelling half way up the foot, odd stitches that you didn’t think were in any danger suddenly giving way mid way through the wash leaving you with a hole big enough to make thumbless mittens by the time you pull it out the machine.

I’ve darned more than a few but it doesn’t seem to extend their life expectancy by more than a couple more wearings before the bit next to the bit I’ve darned all falls apart too.  Clearly I would have failed darning if they’d taught it at school.  I think about throwing them away, and sometimes I even take them out of the drawer and put them on the top with a vague sort of intention to actually move them gently towards the bin, but they never get that far.   I think there’s just too much work in each pair for me to be happy just chucking them away.  I’ve thought about unravelling them and using the yarn for something else, probably a smaller pair of socks, or maybe some stripes, but as much as I like the idea, I also know myself, and I know that that plan is only going to end with a pile of socks insulating a corner of the studio while I cast longing glances at the untouched stash upstairs.

So this year I have a plan.  Well a plan of sorts.  Some of it is a little experimental (but aren’t the best plans always like that) and it starts with a little ruthless attention to the sock drawer.  Everything with a hole in it has come out.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

If it’s a toe up pair then they are no longer candidates for being a pair of socks.  The sock has to go on to pastures new, no plea bargaining allowed.

If I knit them cuff down and the hole is in the toe and there aren’t any other noticeable weaknesses then they’re candidates for re-knitting.  Which is this lot:

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Five pairs, most of them just need a new toe and I’m tempted to say that I’ve got until Easter to get them back into circulation, but don’t quote me on that one.  I have however put the green pair back on the needles for a new toe.  They’re special socks, the colour is called Lucky, I was wearing them for my first ultrasound with Kitty and during a lot of my labour and they’re on the save list for sentimental reasons alone.

And as for the rest of them. Well these are no longer classified as socks.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Which is where the experiment comes in.  I still really don’t want to throw them away. I love those socks, there are hours of my time knit into them, they’re made of yarn that I think is soft and warm and they’ve kept me cosy and warm for so many years.  And they’re beautiful.  Just rather well ventilated.  So the plan is to upcycle them. They’re going to be a blanket.  Or some of them is anyway.

My plan is to slice across the bottom of the cuff just before it expands into the heel.  The foot can’t be saved but the cuff could then be sliced open vertically to give me a square ish sort of shape which could then be crocheted to lots of other former socks to make a knitted patchwork blanket.  Not all the colours will work together and I’m sure some will fall apart somewhere along the line, but what about something that looks a little bit like this:

20150128-DSC_0268

I haven’t cut anything open or tried to crochet around all the raw edges so I have absolutely no idea how this is going to work out.  It could be brilliant, it could be utter madness, but having made the momentous admission that these are no longer functioning socks I don’t think I’ve got anything to loose.  It’s time to get the scissors out.

 

Crochet Handmade Work in Progress

A ripple update

29/11/2014

 

 

At Kitty’s first Christmas I seem to remember that not only did we take her with us when we went Christmas shopping for her present, and showed it to her to gauge her reaction, but I wrapped up each and every little trinket, teether and soft toy while she lay on the floor beside me kicking her legs and giggling at the Christmas tree – and then I suspect unwrapped it myself a few days later.  Oh how the times have changed.

Now all parcels have to be brought into the house under the false pretences of just being from H’s work, or just laundry liquid or something really boring.  The bits and bobs that have arrived so far have all been stored up in our tiny little office/garret/general dumping ground/spare room (all of which descriptions give it more credit than it deserves), awaiting the onslaught of wrapping paper and wash tape.

And it’s requiring a new degree of subterfuge on the festive knitting.  I can’t make their presents entirely during the brief periods of time in which they’re all asleep but I am trying to be a little bit subtle; I embroidered the blocks for Elma’s quilt while the girls built Duplo castles but when it came to turning them into something actually resembling a quilt that became an evenings only job, and it’s been the same with their hats; until they actually looked like hats I’d knit in front of them – although Kitty is far too clever by half and has definitely sussed out that they might be hats; hopefully she’ll not think about it too much until the day itself – I’ve finished both and added giant pompoms but as they really need models to look good you’ll have to wait until after Christmas for a big reveal.

And so in the gaps, in the brief moments of quiet when Pip is contentedly sitting in my lap and the girls are climbing on H, or when they’ve all got deeply into whatever craft project we’re planning, I’ve pulled out my ripple blanket/cushion/whatever it turns out to be big enough to be/just keep crocheting until you run out of yarn.

Last time this rather ill-defined magnum opus made an appearance here I think I was on the third row, and I’m happy to report that it’s been growing gently one ripple at a time.  I know I’ll probably be excommunicated from the knitting community for saying so but I do love the way that crochet looks in ripples; it’s got such a tactile appeal.  I find I can’t really pass it buy without wanting to lay it out and run my fingers over it, and usually add a couple of stitches along the way.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Up to now I’ve simply been pulling another colour out of my little bag of Baby Cashmerino leftovers and going with it, or even better, asking the girls to choose one for me; which might just  account for the number of times pink has cropped up, but looking at the content of the bag and the various amounts of yarn I’ve got in each colour I think I need to do a little planning ahead.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

The big decision has been that I’m not going to use any of the white/off white/cream.  I gave it a little audition row but it just looked all wrong, there was too much contrast in both colour and tone to the rest of the ripply colours.  I know I’ve got some colours in here that are stronger than others but I’m finding that I’ve either got a strong colour that’s balanced by a lighter version of the same colour, or if the colour itself is quite a jump, it’s actually tonally very similar.

And once I’d ruled out the white (and friends) I started playing with everything that was left, testing out the colour combinations and trying to line up at least the next six or so ripples.

Lucy at Attic24 (whose pattern this is) has a great technique of wrapping project yarn around clothes pegs and writing the name on the peg and then using the pegs to set out her next few colours which (a) looks gorgeous in photos (b) would mean that you don’t have to remember what colour you’d decided to do next and (c) most importantly, rather reduces the chances of becoming utterly entangled in the loose ends of a gazillion and one squishy half balls of yarn which, despite being neatly wound and packed away tidily the last time they came out to play have by some sort of impish magic all escaped and wrapped around each other in a way that defies unravelling.

I’m not sure I’ve got enough yarn to justify it, and for some reason in this family clothes pegs are constantly in short supply (maybe there’s a connection to the yarn tangling? – wool gnomes that like clothes pegs??) so I’m still lining things up and then taking pictures to help me remember.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

This is, in some sort of order, definitely intended to be the next seven rows.  I think I can still remember in which order.  Maybe.

But it doesn’t really matter.  This project has always been intended to have a fluidity about it, I didn’t want it to look overly planned out, largely because there’s going to come a point at which I have to change colour half way through a ripple, or when one colour makes an early appearance and then is never seen again (that would be the dark pink, now completely used up by one bobble hat plus giant pompom).

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Right now I still have no idea just how big this is going to turn out to be.  Despite all this rippling, despite taking the white out of the equation and despite new bobble hats for both girls it still feels like my little stash bag is pretty full.  I doubt I’ll get a full sized baby blanket out of what’s left, but I’ll be really pleased if I can get it to a square-ish sort of shape and turn it into a snuggly giant cushion for the girls when we put their rooms together.

And it’ll be even better if the last few ripples aren’t all mid green.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

But there is one thing that I’m suddenly becoming aware of.  Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family lifeVery aware of.Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

The ends are nye!