Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Mad as March Hares!

As the saying goes.  I can't believe it's March already and summer is on it's way out.  Mind you our summer this year has been dismal.  Rain, wind and rain, storms and the odd sunny day have been the hallmarks of this summer.  The only difference between summer and winter was the temperature.  Blue skies may have been few and far between, but the humidity and heat have been a constant.

I have two bags sitting here begging to be lined, but I won't be able to do it until my days off on Sunday!  Work is my focus meanwhile and it's crazy.  The heat and the occasional fine weekend seem to bring out the worst in some people.  I'm 3 days in with 3 left until my days off.  Late shifts consist of a 10.5 hour shift for me, so I am literally getting up, getting ready, going to work, coming home, going to bed, lather, rinse and repeat.  I get perhaps two hours to sit, one at the start of the day and one at the end before bed.

Still I am trying to be productive.  I am learning this stitch.  It consists of a single crochet and a treble into the same stitch.

It results in this rather pretty texture and a nice flat row.  I think it would make a nice warm blanket that reminds me a little of a knitted moss stitch.  It's very simple to do and would make good squares or a whole panel in a blanket between squares.

I've crocheted some roses to hide the handle bottoms on the granny stripe bag and putting some thought to some beading or trim along the top when I line it.

The roses are simple rolled scallops, sewn up to create the rose I found the pattern by googling crocheted roses.  There are a ton of variations.

Meanwhile I must get ready for work so enjoy....

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Basic Granny Bucket Bag Pattern

This is going to be a two or three part Tutorial.  I under estimated how much time it would take based upon the ease of the flat circle.  So far I am onto day two, yesterday was something of a washout with just a couple of rows made.

So without further ado, here is the body of the bag.

I used 4 balls of Moda Vera Gelato 50% cotton, 50% acrylic mix.  A 3.25 mm hook.  The bag is 30cm across and 22cm deep so it's quite large.  The cotton/acrylic blend will stretch a little so I didn't want to make it too large to begin with.

Create a flat circle:

Chain 4

Row 1: 3 sc into the circle to equal one treble (dc) 11 trebles and join with ss to create a circle with 12 tr.

Row 2:  3 sc to equal 1 tr.  1 tr into the same stitch.  2 tr into every stitch = 24 stitches, join with ss to 3rd stitch of first tr 

Row 3:  3 sc to equal 1 tr. 1 tr into the same stitch. *1 tr into next stitch, 2 trebles into the following st, repeat from * to end. join with ss to 3rd stitch of first tr = 35 stitches

Row 4,  3 sc to equal 1 tr. 1 tr into the same stitch. *1 tr into next 2 stitches, 2 trebles into the following st, repeat from * to end. join with ss to 3rd stitch of first tr

Row 5,  3 sc to equal 1 tr. 1 tr into the same stitch. *1 tr into next 3 stitches, 2 trebles into the following st, repeat from * to end. join with ss to 3rd stitch of first tr.

See the pattern? Every row you increase the number of single tr stitches between the 2 tr into 1 stitch to increase the size of your circle.

I finished on row 12 with 10 tr between each 2 tr into one stitch, with 149 tr.

Row 13:  single tr in each stitch.

Row 14:  3 sc to equal 1 tr, *skip 3 stitches, 3 tr into next space, skip 3 st, 3 tr into next space* repeat from* until the end, there should be 3 tr between the last granny treble (3 tr into 1 st) and the first post consisting of 3 sc.  2 tr into the same st and join with ss to 3rd sc of the post.  You should now how a row of 35 granny trebles.

Row 15, ss into the gap, 3 sc to create first tr, 2 more trs into the gap, 3 trs into each gap.  (at this point I changed colour to make it easier and more obvious to photograph but there is no requirement to do this.)

Keep doing this until you reach the desired height, for me it was 27 rows of granny trebles.  In the middle I did two rows of straight trebles then turned back to granny trebles by skipping 3 and doing 3 tr into the next space.  But you don't have to do that if you don't want to.

I did two rows of dc to provide the top edge of the bag.


Granny stich handles:

Chain 100

Row 1:  using the last chain of the foundation ch as your first stitch, crochet a row of dc

Row 2: ch 3 as first tr, two more trs into the first dc, *skip 3, 3 tr into the next dc, repeat from * to end.  1 tr into last dc turn.

Row 3: ch 3 as first tr, two more trs into the gap, 3 tr into the next gap repeat 3 tr into gap to end, 1 tr into last tr in row, turn.

Row 4: repeat as for row 3

Row 5: dc to end

Row 6 dc to end tie off.

Make two handles, it goes without saying but I said it anyway.

Sew them on securely! I used the white cotton I used in the last two rows of the bag to hide the majority of the stitches.  Don't worry though, we'll cover that up with our decorations!

So this is the finished bag:

Now I just need to work on the lining!

Sneak Peak

As I mentioned I am a little behind.  Today was full on and didn't give me the time I thought I would have.  I should have known.  First of all today was our wedding anniversary, second it was the day of the Karaoke/Come as your fav popstar party the WG was attending.

My morning was spent as hair, make up and wardrobe.  Last night I braided a layer of the WG's hair and created long pin curls while it was wet.  About lunch time I was removing braids and pins of varying degrees, which textured her hair with waves, ripples and straight bits to create the "funky" look she wanted.  The make up was way grown up and gave her father palpitations but it was still not as full on as I would wear for a night on the town, just some smokey eyes just like Brooke Fraser wears and a touch of lippy.  The wardrobe was jeans, a long tank top and a lacy rockstar jacket and books.

We added a pair of dangly earrings, a tambourine necklace on a leather thong and the WG's acoustic guitar as accessories.

She looks every inch the rockstar but in a wholesome kind of way in my opinion.  Natural hair, no skin in sight.  I wish there were more rock chicks like her!

I got some rows done while the party was going on, but after we picked up the WG, I was whisked out to an anniversary dinner and a drive about town.  Just like we used to back in the day!

We went down Queen St, around the bays and back again.  Stopped for a mocha and home about 10:30pm.  I think we broke curfew because the Man Child was baby sitting and didn't look impressed when we rolled in.  Oh well!

Anyway.... Moving right along!

Can you work out what I am making? It starts off with a flat circle.  But wait....

There's more!

Granny stitch?

Yes!  It's the Lucy inspired Granny bucket bag!

I'm just a few rows away from finishing the body, then I'll be making the handles and assembling it.

I'm seeing it lined with pretty fabric ultimately but I should have the basic pattern worked to show you very soon.  Providing everything falls into place and does as I want it to do in the household tomorrow.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Running behind

I'm running a little behind.  The Wg needs help getting dressed up as a pop star.  She's going as Brooke Fraser, a kiwi pop star.  I'm in charge of hair, make up and wardrobe.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Something exciting!

I was sitting last night crocheting the fine cotton attic 24 bag I have been working on when I had a bit of a revelation.  You see yesterday while at the mall to purchase some pasta to make dinner I had a wee accident.

My wet shoes (it was raining) slipped on the metal travelator (just like an escalator with no steps the steps are flat to allow for shopping carts) while going down one floor to the supermarket, I landed on my knee resulting in this

and many wrenched muscles in my arm shoulder, neck and back.  The good news is that it didn't put a hole in my trousers.  The bad news was a quite swollen bruised knee that bled every time I bent it.

As a result I was ordered to my chair with an ice pack.

As such I was crocheting much earlier in the evening than is normal and thus I had my revelation.

I excitedly told the husband my thoughts, he wasn't overly interested and patted me on the head indulgently while enquiring if perhaps I'd bumped it during my fall!  Cheeky sod!

None the less, I put away the bag and grabbed some leftover cotton/acrylic mix and started with my idea.  It's progressing very well and I can't wait to show you.  I've been keeping a careful track of all I have done, I'm taking photos as I go.  Hopefully I will finish it tonight, but it is very much dependent upon finding the WG's pop star outfit this afternoon.  With any luck I will have a result tomorrow and a tutorial to go along with it!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Sites that helped me

I thought I would put together a list of some of my favorite crochet resources.  Links from my favorites folder that I use to help decipher patterns and for inspiration.

Crochet Basics:

Here you will find a handy printable pdf download of basic crochet stitches.  
This is a chart of crochet hook comparisons.
A guide to sizes for basic crochet projects can be found here.
This is a UK/US stitch conversion chart.

I also have a wonderful book called the A-Z of crochet that my husband got me from Spotlight (a local craft store chain in Australia and NZ)

I've found all the above sites very useful, my memory can be quite shocking when it comes to working out what stitch I am meant to be doing so I keep them handy to refresh myself.  I also learn better with a combination of text and images rather than videos.

I'm also dreadful at keeping count, math was never a strong suit for me and it's got worse over the years.  You will often find me unpicking, restarting and using a few salty terms when my darling husband dares to inquire what's wrong.

Lucy from Attic24 is definitely one of my biggest inspirations.  Her stitch work is so pretty, neat and tidy as it is and she is so clever.

Kate from Greedy for colour is another.  Her crochet bike just makes me want to go for a ride in the country and have a picnic!  Best of all she's from NZ like me so her materials are locally sourced, I know I can easily find them.

Aunty Mum is another huge favorite.  I'm loving her square challenge and I will eventually get around to doing a similar project.  She is also a Kiwi, so again I know I can find the materials she writes about.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

This post comes to you

While I am sleeping! I'm trying out the magic of the schedule function.  I am actually on a nightshift or have just finished one, taken the Wee Girl to school and am sleeping.  So this post will be something of an introduction to me.

Here I am, that's me on the left having just got ready to go to work one night so I was looking quite respectable.  At the moment my hair is a little longer and the highlights that blend my white (yes white, I skipped grey went directly to white) hair into my naturally ash blonde hair have grown out somewhat.  It's going to be a while before I can throw away money on haircuts and colors because we are saving for a trip to Australia in September to attend my younger brother's wedding.

I'm 44, which seems awfully old in years, I only ever feel 44 when I wake up first thing in the morning.  I have been married for 16 years 362 days to my wonderful husband (our anniversary is coming up).  We have two pretty decent children.

The Man Child is 15 going on 16.  He's doing well at school and taking NCEA this year, he wants to become an electrical engineer.  He's very good really for a 15 yr old young man but terribly frustrating at times.  He and his father have begun to butt heads a little as the MC makes efforts to establish himself.  It's pretty normal, having had 3 brothers I'm not overly perturbed by the whole boy turns to man thing.  The husband on the other hand finds it incredibly stressful.

That's the only recent picture I currently have of the MC, taken accidentally while I was trying to take a proper picture of him on my iPhone and he was objecting.  I think it turned out rather well though and he doesn't know I got it.  I'm apparently banned from taking his pic.

The Wee Girl is 10, in her very last year at Primary school.  So far this year she's joined Ukelele, Mirimba and Recorder instrument clubs, she's in charge of the PE shed on Wednesdays and as such gets to climb onto the roof and fetch balls down for smaller children with the special ladder.  She is a mediator which means she helps other children sort out their playground issues, she's also a librarian. In short if there's a club, a movement or a cause, she'll join it.  Later in the year she'll be playing field hockey for her school as well.

That's the WG walking with her older cousin at a community emergency services day last year.  I'm banned from photographing her too unless she's feeling very indulgent.

The husband? what can I say? He's patient, indulgent, loving and sometimes the most frustrating person in my life.  I love him to bits.  That's us 16 years ago, before the white hair, before the MC and the WG, on a stinking hot February day, under the shade of a tree.  The Hubs isn't hugely tall, just under 6 feet in fact.  I am just small, just touching 5 feet in my heels that day. They were only small heels because I knew I'd be doing a lot of walking that day lol.

The hubs is in Emergency Management, which means he plans for disaster, he administers the local rural fire brigades and civil defense teams.  Which means if there's a disaster, he's out the door lights and sirens, to attend and to manage it.  He was deployed to Christchurch twice and actually went 3 times, once to retrieve a vehicle left down there for use of another team.

I work for the Police in a civilian role so we are quite the duo covering all sides of emergencies.  Chances are if there is a disaster (as with Christchurch) we are both involved in one way or another.

My home life is fairly placid.  Working shifts makes it difficult in some ways, child care in the days before the MC turned 14 and could legally care for his sister was a nightmare at times.  I can't come home at 10pm and vacuum, I'd wake everyone up so housework tends to get done in regular clumps instead of daily.  I don't have regular routines as such and I'm quite prone to procrastination.  Nobody is perfect though.  I love photography and own a canon dslr with a variety of lenses.  I crochet, knit and cross stitch.

We have 2 dogs and a geriatric cat.  Cass (the cat) was a birthday gift from the Hubs the year we first started going out, 1993 I think it was.

So that's me or rather us.  I hope you've enjoyed getting to know me better.

Monday, 20 February 2012

The past 3 Months

Looking back over the past 3 months (give or take) since I began this little blog, I've had some adventures!

Over 800 views: Which surprises me.  I don't count, but blogger does.  It's amazing, incredible to me that people have looked my little project over 800 times.  I'm currently searching for some free software for my macbook that will help me to  position photographs in a more aesthetically pleasing way.

I've travelled: Twice by air, once by boat and many times by car.  I've driven to Whangarei twice, took a boat trip to Waiheke.  Flown to Christchurch and Wellington.  Not bad really for such a short time period. I've seen the devastation of earthquakes, the seat of Government and basked in the Northland sun.

I've made: Bags, Blankets, headbands, bracelets, flowers, wallets, pencil cases and stepped well outside my comfort zone to make a work of art for the Wee Girl.

I organized: my kitchen cabinets and drawers!  In a fit of domesticity, I lined my cabinets with pretty blue and white spotty wallpaper, sorted, cleaned and put away in a coherent order.  So exhausted was I by this task that I have failed to do the same with my plastics cupboard yet.  I actually dread opening that cupboard full of containers and lids but I vow to complete this before I commence the annual Autumnal clutter bust.

I've photographed, devastation: beautiful scenery, animals, children and so much more.

And I thought I lived a fairly mundane existence!  Speaking of which, it's time to get the Wee Girl from School!

A busy week

It's been an awfully busy week this week.  Because of my trip to Wellington on what should have been my days off, I feel as if I haven't had a weekend.

Work itself has been hectic, it's our busiest time of year. I haven't had a great deal of time for myself.

The Wee Girl has a birthday party coming up, the theme is a come as your favorite pop star, karaoke party.  She wanted to go as Taylor Swift, easy right? Then she made enquiries amongst her gaggle of giggly girlfriends and Mum EVERYONE is going as Taylor! Now what?  Hannah Montana? Nooooo Mum she's so ugh! Katy Perry? No wait she's known for her skimpy outfits and hmm NO! (That's my veto) Ummm Brooke Fraser? We'll need to think on this!  Any ideas from people out in Blogland?

I've been working on a couple of Attic 24 bags because working with wool for the blanket makes me far too warm at the moment.

I've made one in the same cotton/acrylic mix I used for the wee girls headbands.  I plan to line it and that is holding me up on finishing.

I have been making a second bag using my leftover stash of Milford 2 ply crochet cotton.

Initially I had thought using the same stitch numbers would create a slightly smaller bag that would fit inside the other as a lining.  At this point though I think I misjudged slightly the size of the hook and this second bag is turning out a lot smaller than I had anticipated.  But we shall see.

The smaller bag is taking a lot longer, simply because  the hook side is very small and therefore it isn't growing very quickly.

I'm using a 2mm hook with the 2 ply cotton, I used a 3mm hook for the cotton/acrylic 4 ply mix.

I love these bags and Lucy's basic patten allows me to experiment with different wools and cottons.  The milford cotton is about the thickness of two strands of embroidery cotton and is used for making table clothes and doilies.  It has a lovely pearly sheen and it looks lovely all crocheted up.

The Wee Girl says her pencil case is the envy of all the little girls in her class, her headbands and bracelets are also much admired.  Which is flattering news.

I will have to get my a into g and make her a couple in school colors to go with her hockey uniform.  Next year she starts at intermediate and will be wearing school uniform for the first time so I intend to make her a selection of hair bands and pony tail clips in blue and gold to go with her uniform.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

An afternoon in Wellington

My trip to Wellington was something of a whirlwind.  I had an 8am flight, the shuttle picked me up at 6:30am, despite the notorious traffic of Auckland city, it took about 25 minutes to get to the airport.  The weather in Auckland was damp, grey and humid.  It was a good flight, 40 minutes in total and the Wellington weather was a balmy 20 degrees, and for once, no wind!

We got a cab to the building we were working in and jumped straight into testing the new software, stopped for lunch and carried on till 5pm.  Then we walked to our hotel and checked in.  With me was one of the Auckland staff I manage and one from Christchurch.

I had promised the Wee Girl I would take a pic of Parliament for her.  So I changed into my comfy clothes and walked up Lambton Quay.

It took about 20 minutes.  Lambton Quay was busy with people walking, Wellingtonians have wonderful public transport so they walk a lot, too and from buses and trains.

The bottom of the map is my starting point, the Hotel Ibis on Featherstone.

Lambton Quay is a pretty walk, full of sculpture and places to sit, places of historical interest and shops!  Some of the most exclusive designers have a store on Lambton Quay.  Trelise Cooper, Country Road and luxury stores like Kirkcaldie and Staines.

The Beehive (so named because of it's distinctive appearance) was opened in the 1970's by HRH Princess Ann.  It houses the executive wing of Parliament and the National Crisis Management Centre (known as the Bunker) in the basement.

This was my first view of the Beehive, I have to say it does look impressive.

Below is the old house, this is where the government sits when it's in session.  A tv news crew were filming on the steps.  The pinkish building to the right is the Parliamentary Library.  The Statue in front is Richard (King Dick) Seddon our longest serving PM to date and regarded as one of our finest leaders.

All in all it was a pleasant wander.  I had dinner in the hotel restaurant with Alesha the other Aucklander and we decided to wander the waterfront until dark to walk off the meal.  Then it was a shower and bed for another day of work.

I got home at 6:15pm last night, to the Wee Girl waiting for me at the gate, a valentines gift of a pair of earrings from the husband and the man child grunting a welcome home.

Some more images of Wellington:
The Albatross fountain, with bubbles for Valentines Day
Wellington Harbour
Westpac Stadium aka "The Cake Tin"

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Off on a quick trip

It's 5am and I'm getting ready to be picked up by the shuttle service.  I'm off to Wellington for work.  The Wee Girl is not very happy about the prospect of my being away, despite it only being for a night.

I'm packing my camera, Wellington has some wonderful kinetic sculptures and I've promised the WG that I will walk up Lampton Quay to get a picture of the Beehive if I can.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Pencil Case or pouch

African flowers have been put aside briefly.  I had issues sewing them together for some reason, maybe I was tired? Who knows, but I needed a confidence booster and to do something I had been mentally planning.  I mentioned making the wee girl a pencil case and she got her stationery on Friday.

I had an idea for baby granny squares in a frame.  I also knew a pencil case would need a lining, or all the pens and pencils would fall out.  Sewing is not my forte, well not on a machine at any rate.  I've also never put a zip in anything, I confess when I was at school, I took the projects home to finish and persuaded my stepmother to do the hard stuff.

So I made six teeny tiny granny squares out of two tones of purple (the wee girls fav colour) and crocheted them together.  Then I crocheted a row of single crochet and a row of treble crochets in black.

Another row all around in the light purple trebles and fasten off.

Then two rows of the dark purple above and below to make it longer but not wider.

A row all around of singles.

I crocheted a rectangle the same size in trebles for the back and crocheted the two together with single crochet.

Then I made the lining.  I used some spare purple material remnants I purchased about 6 months ago for the WG to learn to sew on.  I cut it about the same size as the crochet pouch with the right side as the inside.  I sewed seams to prevent fraying, turned it and pinned the zip into place then sewed it on.  I don't have a zipper foot for my very simple machine, so that was a little difficult.  Then I sewed up the side seams and trimmed it.  I hand stitched it into the pouch so that the stitching didn't show too much on the outside.  It looks a little uneven but I think that adds to the charm.

The Wee Girl is very happy with the result.