Saturday, 28 April 2012

Hobo Bag

This is another Pintrest find, I loved this bag on sight and I knew I could make it when I read the pattern found here at a site called ShortyLam Crochet.

It's a simple v stitch made up of trebles and single crochet.  The author  made her own version but if you look closely it doesn't curve quite as much as the original for my liking.

I got around this by decreasing on the 6mm hook round of single crochet by one stitch every 6 stitches.

I'm really happy with the outcome.  This isn't an everyday bag, due to the colour but it's a good one for the odd outing.

I used 12ply cream Marvel from Spotlight for about $3 a ball and used less than one ball.

The handle is currently a belt from the local emporium for $3, the silver rings were .70c each from the same emporium and I used brown satin ribbon, less than two metres for less than $1 a metre, also from the emporium.

I lined the bag with a remnant from Spotlight, it's cream thermal drape material in a jacquard pattern and it looks great.

My entire bag cost less than $20 to produce.

As you can see I hand sewed some of the ribbon around the top of the bag, to hide the stitching of the lining.  That's my sewing machine in the background LOL.

I also relined my granny bag with more of the remnant and still have some left over.

The thermal drape material doesn't fray because of the thermal lining and it provides a level of stiffness to the bag that the crochet alone doesn't.

It's a lovely simple bag, the body was crocheted in one evening.  I put it all together and lined it this afternoon, including popping out to the emporium to find the hardware.

I'd like to remake it and see if an increase and decrease in the bottom makes a difference to the shape, just for the sake of curiosity.

Friday, 27 April 2012

What a week

I've been wrestling demons this week, trying to give up smoking and failing.  I had a bad reaction to Zyban 3 days into not smoking at all so it's off that stuff and trying another.  All in all I haven't felt like doing much of anything so it's a good thing that I planned this for my holiday.

A friend asked me to crochet her some hats for her baby girl.

This is my first effort, trouble is I have no idea how big a baby head is these days.  My kids had exceptionally large heads anyway but it's been a decade since I had a child under one year old full-time so I have lost my ability to estimate the right size.  I can guesstimate for a 10 year old though!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Saturday morning on the deck

The hubs and I woke up around 8am this morning, long before the smaller people.  It was a beautiful morning so we took our coffee out to the front deck.

Cass was warming herself on the backyard fence, for a 19 year old, she gets around.  One minute she was basking in the sun, the next she was approaching us from the other side of the deck.  That tree she is sitting beside is a favorite for the birds, this time of year it has little berries all over it that the birds eat.
My garden is wild, really it's overgrown and the birds love it.  In spring when the bottle brush is flowering, a pair of Tui come to drink nectar.

I enjoy watching the birds.  The Starlings and Mynahs generally frighten the smaller Sparrows and Wax eyes away.  There are swallows and finches too.  In the afternoon my white picket front fence looks like a scene from a Hitchcock movie, with birds sitting all along it catching the last of the afternoon sun.

Everywhere I go, the dogs go too.  Sparkie is our self appointed guard dog.  Trouble is, he barks at everything! Hedgehogs, pedestrians, passing cars.  Here he is guarding me as I sip my coffee.  From what I'm not sure.  Toby was laying in the sun at my feet like the loyal dog he is.  Now if HE barks I worry.

We fenced the deck with swimming pool fencing so that we can put the dogs out there safely, at night during summer, we lock the gate and leave the ranch slider open to keep air circulating through the living area.

Finally, here is Cass demonstrating her advanced camouflage technique.  It's easy to see why she is such a good hunter, her coloring makes her blend into the light and shadow quite well.

Cables and double trebles

First things first, my adventures in crochet the last few days.

I got inspired by this image in a magazine.  You see Aunty Mum has been doing cables on the socks she has been knitting.  Finding this pattern meant I could do some crochet cables which would give us a kind of common purpose? I really wanted to do something different and the cables look so well, clever!

Cables are not something I have ever tried, the pattern looked simple and I thought it would make a nice ear warmer for the wee girl when she's playing hockey this winter and a hat just isn't really possible.

I popped up to Spotlight and purchased some Moda Vera Beetle on sale for $2.80 for a 50gm ball.  It's 50% acrylic and 50% cotton, I thought it would give good stitch definition and therefore show off the cables to best advantage.

And here it is.  I think the mishmash of colours while pretty and certainly approved of by the WG, doesn't really lend itself to show off the cable.

The pattern looked fairly wide so I made a slight adjustment to the pattern and made it slightly narrower by eliminating a couple of stitches on each side.  It's still enormously wide on the WG.  Heck it's wide on me.  I'm not sure how given that I used a slightly smaller hook than recommended and the recommended weight yarn.

I might have to try it again with a baby yarn and see how it works out.

Here it is sitting on my laptop keyboard to give you an idea of the scale.

So now I am making one with a single cable, having learned the principle of making a twisted cable.  It basically consists of double trebles and to get the twist, you miss the first 2 and crochet into the second 2, then go back to the first two.  Does that make sense?

When I have finished this one I shall write up the pattern seeing as I worked it out by myself.

Sorry for the quality of the picture my phone camera doesn't really capture it as well as it might.

Double trebles, much easier than I thought they would be!  I am no longer afraid of them!

And in other news, it is now Friday, the last day of the Holidays.  I do like having the children/young adults around but I am very much looking forward to them going back to the mall so I can get on with things.

So far we have been to the mall I don't know how many times, they've seen a couple of movies and they've been a few places.  Trouble is, they want me to keep them entertained and that is tiring.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Later this morning

My friend Jessie has a little boy 17 months old.  She wanted me to take some pictures of him today so we went to Western Springs to the playground.

He had a ball and I got some really awesome shots of him with all sorts of different facial expressions.

He loved the slide best but chasing seagulls seemed to run a close second for this wee guy.

Best of all, I got to enjoy a day at the park without having to chase kids away from the water or protect them from scary biting geese and swans.

Sibling rivalry it would seem isn't just a human issue, this little chick was pushed off by his/her sibling for prime position next to Mum.

I was surprised at the number of baby animals still around, pukekos, chickens, ducks and swans all had babies following them.

One thing puzzles me though.  Where have all the white swans gone? When I was a child, white swans were everywhere and seeing a black swan was a rarity.  I was always told they flew from Perth to NZ and that's why there were so few.  Now you can't find a white swan at the Domain or Western Springs, I haven't seen a white swan in years.  There's something poetic about a white swan reflected in dark water, you just don't get that wonderful reflection with black swans.


One week down, one to go.

Today the hubs has gone to Wellington on an overnight business trip, leaving me alone with two teens and the WG.  His business trips this year have been mercifully few so far, and I have already been to Wellington myself on business, so I can't really complain.

Our weekend was busy!

We decided on Saturday to extend my bench space and kitchen storage.  This involved purchase of a laminate counter with a cupboard and 3 drawers and two overhead cupboards.  It's the same height as my stainless steel bench top and after 10 years here I finally have enough room to store my crockpot (it has been living on the bench) toasted sandwich press and the new pie maker (both of which previously lived on top of the fridge).  It is all so spacious and tidy now!  I can serve up meals without having to balance plates!  It's not exactly twee or vintage, but I have an early 80's home, nothing is exactly how I would like it.

I was so thrilled that while the hubs was banging and crashing around in the kitchen, cutting holes in the gib to rewire an unsightly power point (don't worry, he's an electrician by trade) that had been put in by the previous owners for the dishwasher (which has now been removed permanently to create room for the new counter) I whipped up this wee jar cover to decorate the new addition.

I then spent literally hours rearranging all my cupboards, washing everything and putting it away all nice and tidy like.  It's somewhat amazing to me that things put away in kitchen cupboards attract dust and grease even though they are not used.

I still have a drawer empty.  I think I will fill it with my recipe books, they currently living in the window sill.

See that walkie talkie sitting on top of my tray of eggs? I don't know why that's there, I do know there are a row of them sitting in chargers on my dining room sideboard and I rather suspect they arrived last night when the hubs got home from training.  I have plans in mind for my kitchen.  I suspect I will be fairly busy for the next few weeks.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Scarfs and other Winter things

I'm like a squirrel storing nuts for winter.  I finished the WG's hat, then a v stitch scarf in raspberry with pale pink fringe to match the hat.  Then I decided a ruffled brights scarf was in order, I mean everyone should have choices right?

The WG will be going to intermediate school next year and that means uniform.  This is the last year that I get to dress her, kind of.  Make no mistake, she chooses her own clothes every day but I still get input to the larger wardrobe.  The boho crochet beanies I made her last year are the envy of many a little girl at her school, as is her pencil case.  These are one of a kind things that nobody else has, that make her a little exclusive.  So she's keen for more.

Ruffled scarves are easy peasy, but look somewhat complicated and they use quite a bit of yarn.  It's simply a matter of crocheting a foundation stitch to your desired length, then adding 3 for the first treble.  Then you crochet two trebles into every stitch till it's spirally and ruffly as you want it to be.  I used the Moda Vera Willowy from Spotlight (it's on special for $3.99 a ball) and a 3.75mm hook. 5 balls though is a lot of yarn for a scarf.  Still it's exactly what I wanted it to be, it reminds me of a carnival and I'm sure it will brighten the greyest winter day.

I'm making another in black and silver.

Meantime I've had some adventures with the girls.  Western Springs was sadly missed, they (the girls) decided they just had to go to the movies.  I wanted to go so badly on the off chance I would meet up with Aunty Mum who was up visiting Auckland from Tauranga.  Unfortunately you have to learn to pick your battles with teens and tweens without letting them know there is a battle of wills.

I made the argument that it was a waste of a lovely day to spend it in the dark in a movie theatre, that rain was coming in the next few days but they held firm and pooh poohed my forecast of rain in coming days.  Deciding it wasn't a hill I wanted to die on, I dropped them at the mall and came home to do some housework in relative peace for a couple of hours.

The Man Child has no interest in being seen at the mall in the company of his 10 yr old sister (and up until her second year at school she was dead set she would marry him, cried her eyes out when he went off to intermediate and left her at school by herself and would love her friends to see her with him!) despite the enhancement being seen with a somewhat comely 16 yr old female cousin would afford, stayed home to help his dear old Mum.  He really can be very good.  He mowed the lawn and cleaned the deck while I vacuumed and dusted.

This afternoon (apparently sleeping until midday is de rigeur for school holiday teens although the tween is usually up by 9am) we are heading down to Save Mart to see what we can find amongst the racks.

Then I expect there will be a fashion show.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Fire and stuff

I happened to be out an about with the hubs yesterday about 1pm when the pager went off.

The hubs covers a vast area of West and North Auckland when on call, the rural fire district can also be quite isolated.  Which is how we ended up at Matakana.  Luckily (well not really we plan it this way) the kids were at home and are old enough to look after themselves.

All I had to do was keep out of the way and not bother anyone, luckily I carry my camera around with me at all times and a couple of lenses.  We arrived at the scene of what was described as a scrub fire on a hill side around 2pm and got home after 8pm.

I had my telephoto lens and I am used to keeping out of the way and quiet.  Learned it going to work with my Dad as a nipper.

I just wished I'd had my crochet with me as well as my camera.  Anyway, that was my Easter Sunday!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

The one with the versatile hat...

I finished the WG's hat today, made with spotlights DK (8 Ply) Shepherd very crafty pure wool, left over from the granny stripe I made her.  It takes less than a ball and only a few hours to make these berets, they are simple.

To make hers larger than the red one in the previous post, I changed the pattern considerably so I don't think I am infringing on the authors pattern because of the changes so here is how I did it.

The basics are as follows: To make a flat circle -

chain 4, join the last chain to the first chain to form a circle.

Row 1:  Chain 3, counts as first treble.  11 tr into the centre to create a circle of 12 tr.

Row 2:  Ch 3, 1 tr into the same stitch, 2 tr into every ch = 24 tr.

Row 3:  Ch 3, *1 tr into the next stitch, 2 tr into the next stitch rpt from * to end.

Row 4:  Ch 3, *1 tr into the next 2 stitches , 2 tr into the next stitch rpt from * to end.

Carry on increasing the number of single stitches between the 2 tr into 1 stitch until you have 7 single trs between 2 tr into 1 stitch. This should be row 8.

This is a standard flat circle pattern used for many different objects from bags, pot holders and hats to  mats and simple doilies.  Lucy from Attic 24 has a good step by step flat circle tutorial, you'll find her site in the sidebar to the right.

When you have 8 rows as above:

Row 9: Ch 3, tr into each stitch to the end.

Row 10 & 11 As per Row 9 .

so that is 3 rows of plain trebles no increases.

Row 12:  (This is where you start a standard decrease click to see how) Ch 3, 1 tr into each stitch 7 times. Then tr decrease into the next two stitches to turn two into one.  The result will be an upside down V

Row 13:  Ch 3, 1 tr into each stitch 6 times then tr decrease into next two stitches as above.

Rows 14-18:  SC into each stitch join at the beginning with a slip stitch OR if you prefer, keep going to crochet in a spiral and avoid a seam on the band which is what I did, that part is at your discretion.

Row 19:  Crab Stitch to end. Tie off and weave or sew in your ends.

Note crab stitch gives a pretty edge but it's kind of fiddly at first, it's almost backward sc.  Here is a video tutorial that will help.

The crab stitch also firms up the edge slightly.

If you prefer a small picot edging would look pretty too.

I did this in a solid colour but there is no reason why you can't do stripes or blocks of colour.  It's entirely up to you.  The hat can be worn in a variety of ways, as above the WG has it like a beret but you can pull the front forward to form a peak like a cheese cutter cap or wear it further back with hair tucked into it kind of like a snood.  The WG is well pleased with hers.

This hat fits me too.  For a larger head, I am guessing you should add another row of increase as required and the decrease rows should be adjusted accordingly e.g. 8 tr between incr then 8 tr between decr.  I haven't tried it out.  Or you could try a larger hook for a looser stitch.


For my next quick project, before I get back to my squares, I am making a V stitch scarf for P, my niece who arrived at lunch time from Tauranga to stay for the holidays.

Here is the wool although the colour is kind of off under the lights.  It's Shepherd 8 ply lambswool felted from spotlight. $7.99 a ball which is more than I usually pay but I wanted to see how it went.

In real life it's more a reddish purple, almost a raspberry colour and it will look fantastic on P with her dark hair and peaches and cream complexion.

The V stitch looks pretty good with this wool.   I wanted a stitch that would use the yarn to best advantage but still be warm and cosy.

I found the pattern on Ravelry it's the Rosey-Posey Scarf Pattern.

The yarn helps the stitches look nice and defined although it is a little uneven in thickness some bits being thicker and others thinner as you crochet through the ball.

I am using a 5mm hook.  Even though this is basically a DK wool, I felt that a smaller hook would make the felted wool quite thick and solid feeling, too stiff for a nice scarf.  I could of course be wrong.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Lazy Good Friday

I slept in till 9am this morning, when I got up leaving the hubs in bed to take advantage of the holiday, the Wee Girl was already well awake and watching TV.

We sat for a while watching the Disney channel in companionable silence while I had a cuppa and finished another rabbit.

When the boys got up I toasted up the hot cross buns and made more coffee.  Everyone munched happily.

I wish I could say that we went to church and did good things but we didn't.  We just blobbed out chatting and watching movies.  The hubs bbq'd bacon and eggs for lunch because we have a lot of bacon and eggs left over from last weekend.  The bacon will keep but I brought back a couple of trays of 30 eggs that I will have to use over the next couple of weeks.

This afternoon sick of making rabbits, I grabbed a ball of red wool and made a hat.  I found this pattern on Pintrest but a lot of the comments indicated it wasn't going to turn out as pictured.  So I played with it.

I used a 4.5mm hook and double knit.

I started off following the pattern as written until I got to the bit where you stop increasing.  I did 3 rows instead of 2.

Then I only did 2 rows of decrease.

The 5 rows of sc.

Finally for a pretty edge I crocheted a row of crab stitch.

It's turned out too small for the WG and too big for her dolly.  I will give it to a friend who has two little girls.  I'll try a bigger hook and make another for the WG.

Thursday, 5 April 2012


Happy Good Friday!

The fruits of yesterdays labours, an Easter bunny to go with my eggs.  The Wee Girl loves the egg cozy I made her and when she sees her new egg cup she's going to be in heaven.

I got the bunny from ravelry kind of.  When I say kind of, I adapted it.  The pattern does the bunny in two parts, but I was on a roll, so I carried on just like Kate does with the Easter eggs, I increased another row and then decreased to the bottom.

He's a cutie for sure and the WG is going to love him.  My first stuffed toy.

I'm dead chuffed with myself.

Hopefully the Wee Girl will be in a better mood in the morning.  She was fearfully grumpy with her father tonight, she's usually a total Daddy's Girl but tonight she and her Daddy were at odds and I became the somewhat unwilling recipient of her attentions.

She wouldn't talk to her Dad, she sat on the arm of my chair and gave all her attention to me.

Nice as it was to have all the cuddles and kisses, the foot massage was to die for and she was so into me that she actually considered learning to crochet for a nano second. Unfortunately it made me feel as if I was in the middle of her argument and I had to tell her it isn't nice to use people that way.  She denied it, but I saw the understanding and the flash of guilt so it's a lesson well learned for her.

So now I totally need to get my butt to bed so that I can get up and make hot cross buns and do all the family things.

If it's not Good Friday quite yet for you, have a wonderful day when it arrives.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Update to Easter Prep...

Buying Easter eggs was time consuming, look at the choices I am confronted with! And that is just the top of the aisle!

After much wandering I settled on a medium sized dark chocolate hollow egg with chocolate strawberries inside, a marshmallow egg and a small hollow milk chocolate egg for each child.  With the bag of marshmallow eggs they each got from my parents my two will have enough chocolate to last them until the school holidays are over.

Then down to the supermarket for hot cross buns. Now I was always taught that the reason we had hot cross buns on Good Friday was that in days gone by, when bread was baked in the home daily, it was a sin to bake on Good Friday and so these small buns were made the day before and were toasted (because they were baked a day prior) on Good Friday morning to feed the family.  I don't know that that is true, it's just what I was told when I took cooking at school and we made hot cross buns.

I had just over an hour before picking up the WG and her friend from school.  I was thinking about eggs and egg cozies and that is what I came up with.

I've got to play with it some more, I'm not over keen on the scalloped edge, I also need to make a boy version.  Considering I made it in an hour  I am relatively pleased with it.  I'll make a couple more, sort out the stitch count and put up a tutorial.  I wish I'd thought of it before the gala, they'd have been awesome on the home craft stall.

The only eggs I have at the moment are grade 6 so it's a little large for the egg on purpose.  It fits well otherwise and was a simple little project.

I'd really like to do one with the Wee Girls name on it.

Preparing for Easter

I've never been much of an Easter person.  As a child at Sunday school I learned all about the various religious festivals on the Anglican calendar, Easter being a major one of course.  Really though, truth be told, it's all about the chocolate and hot cross buns these days.

I have lots of Christmas decorations but nothing for other holidays.  So when I cam across this nice easy crochet Easter Egg pattern by Kate at Greedy for Colour I just had to have a go.

I have some very cheap acrylic that I picked up at a dollar store on a whim.  It's quite stiff and not very nice to crochet, it actually feels a bit like industrial carpet, stiff and scratchy.  But for a small project that needs some solidity, it's pretty awesome.

The past two hours have thus been spent making eggs.  I'd like to make a few more, but I have things to do outside the house, like buy Easter Eggs for the children and purchase hot cross buns for tomorrows breakfast.  So I have reluctantly put it down for now at a grand total of 4.

I'm going to be a busy girl tonight!

I'm also planning to make 3 egg cozies.  One for each of the children.  Wait...did I say 3? It's because by Sunday when the Easter Bunny makes his appearance, I shall have another teenager in the house.  Niece Paige is coming to visit for the school holidays.

So it's off to the shops now to get some real chocolate eggs.  I intend to try and get some in egg cups so the budding adults have a permanent reminder of Easter past.  I generally get the kids a mug or something to keep when all the chocolate is gone.  We have Barbie egg cups, Clowns and Thomas the tank engine in our collection.  Most prized by me is an egg cup made just for me by my Standard 3 teacher, Mr Chambers.  It has my name on it and I have cherished and used it, since it was presented to me on the last day of the 1977 school term.
Meanwhile my stack of alternative granny squares continues to grow.  There's over 40 in those two piles.

I shall have to put some thought into joining them soon...

Monday, 2 April 2012

The last (almost) week of peace

Can you believe it's April already? This is the last week of the first school term and on Thursday, children all over the country will pack away their pencil cases, shut their books and skip all the way home in happy anticipation of their two week holiday.

This shortened week is my last bit of peace.  The hubs was on holiday last week and yesterday.  I find it difficult to accomplish much of anything with him distracting me but we did get some cleaning done, I still have the bathroom walls and ceiling to wash down, the windows to wash and the bedrooms to set right.  Unexpectedly the WG has a half day today, a forgotten (by her) school notice from Friday was revealed yesterday, it's put a considerable damper on my plan for today. With the hubs going back to work I had intended to really knuckle down and get some cleaning done.  That will have to wait till tomorrow and just a vacuum and dusting for today.

As you can see the dogs and I are just having our morning coffee and the tidying up will begin imminently.

LB and his fiancĂ© have returned safely to their home and children in Australia.  The serious business of saving for his wedding will begin in earnest as we've now got official invitations and he has asked the hubs to be a groomsman...again!  I've been to many weddings since the hubs and I got together, very few of them with the hubs, he's a popular choice for a position in the wedding party and I usually get to be by myself at these things while he eats at the bridal table and gads about with bridesmaids.  At least this time the bridesmaids are 7 and 10 year old nieces!

I haven't crocheted in a few days and my fingers are beginning to itch to feel the wool slip through them.  I have over 30 squares of various colours sitting in my basket with more to come.  Alas my coffee cup is nearly empty and I have leftover lamb from the spit to turn into stew and stock as well as the cleaning.  Sad face because my crochet will have to wait a few hours yet.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Big Weekend up North!

We left Auckland around 4:30-5ish on Friday night.  6 adults, 4 children, 1 dog and 3 cars traveling in convoy.  Considering the sheer logistics and that we left in the middle of Auckland's notorious rush hour, we made good time and arrived in Kaitaia at 10pm having stopped for dinner in Kawakawa.
Because Little Brother didn't really remember how to get there, he insisted that he maintain middle position.  To facilitate communication we had walkie talkie radios.  The communications between cars was nothing short of hilarious!  We rolled out of Auckland blasting that old song "convoy" on the stereo and arrived at the parents home blasting it as we rolled through the gate.

Party day was Saturday, we were up at sparrow fart, bacon and eggs for 18 people cooked by the hubs on the bbq.  Oldest brother (that's him on the far right with the grey hair) lives up there across the road from the 'rents, he'd sacrificed a hogget (older than a lamb, smaller than full grown cutting it's 2nd set of teeth) for the spit.  First the fire was built on a couple of sheets of corrugated iron, while it burned down to coals, he and his other half C went into Pukepoto to retrieve the hogget from the chiller where it had been hanging.  

The Hubs (2nd from right), middle brother (on the far left) little brother (not shown) and the boys (the man child and my nephews) stoked the fire and rebuilt it until they got back.  We ladies watched and critiqued their technique.  That's the man child in bright blue, hanging with the men.

Just before lunch, the coals were deemed coaly enough, the beast was spitted and the spit moved over the hot coals.  It was laced with huge branches of rosemary, basted and seasoned.  The spit motor was plugged in and the turning began.

We had lunch, cold meats, salads and fresh bread.  Then we made preparations for ladies punch, oh what a punch we made! Lots of ice, fruit juices and a judicious amount of spirit.  The men had their beer, the stereo was on and we sat chatting while the menfolk kept an eye on the main course.  We ladies noted that had we roasted a leg of lamb in the oven, we wouldn't have sat around the oven window watching it cook, but the menfolk pooh poohed us.

Bored with watching the round and round action of our dinner, we decided it was time to give the Patriarch his gift.  Toasts made, speeches spoken and gift unwrapped, we made preparations to serve the dinner which had cooked to a turn!

Having primed ourselves with 3 very good meals, we settled in for a convivial evening of song, conversation and mirth.  A wonderful evening followed with lots of fun and we all went to bed at 1am having set our clocks back for daylight saving ending Sunday 3am, making it midnight again.