Sunday, 11 September 2016

Snapshots - August 2016

 Hello again! I'm late with this month's edition of snapshots, but you were expecting that, weren't you? August again was a very mild month. We really got off lightly this winter. There have been plenty of beautiful blooms in the garden, including the camellia Fairy Blush which lines my driveway, and looks absolutely stunning when the low sunlight illuminates the petals. The hellebores are in full swing as well and I have several different varieties now. In the picture above you can see most of my different ones. The only named varieties are the two in the middle - the white double is Mrs Betty Ranicar, and the purple anemone is Tutu. The camellias and hellebores have been great for picking, and all have featured heavily in my Instagram photos this month.

Here is a couple of flat lays I did with some hellebores (and also a lovely print by my Instagram friend @atelier_cocon_m). And also, a pair of crochet cuffs I designed and made. I'm really happy with the way they turned out! I'd had the design in my head for quite a while, and to have them actually work out the same way is quite a feat! I do intend to write up the pattern and publish it here eventually, but it will probably be a while... you know me!

 My other exciting crafting achievement this month is this - I knitted my first pair of socks! I'd been wanting to do this for ages, but always felt too intimidated to try. I'd seen a few people recommend the Sockalong tutorial by Winwick Mum, so eventually I decided to give it a go. Well, it worked a treat, and I discovered that actually, knitting socks is not that difficult! The Winwick Mum tutorial has lots of photos and clear instructions for different needles (I used long circular, also known as Magic Loop).
Now, I'm not saying these socks are perfect or even very good at all. They are in fact quite bad. The second sock I knit turned out baggier than the first, and I realised (I hadn't even noticed as I was knitting) that my tension had gotten really loose. Tension in knitting seems to be a lot more difficult to control than in crochet. I had this trouble with my Linus shawl too - some rows are really loose, and with others I was struggling to get the yarn off the needle!
So there are plenty of areas to work on before I can be a good knitter. I have cast on another sock though, so hopefully there will be a bit of an improvement with my next pair!

 Another project this month was my In The Yarn Garden cushion. I started making the back piece, but didn't get much further than this.

Podrick (red) and Ini (blue) have been as cute as ever this month! We got them a climbing tower (thanks Kmart!) which they love to play on. It wobbles quite a lot, but that doesn't deter Podrick from climbing right to the top platform and curling up on it to sleep. Sometimes he'll have a lovely big stretch and roll right off. (He always manages to grab onto the pole on his way down!) Ini gets into the box to sleep. And they both love chasing each other right up to the top, clambering up the pole like little monkeys.

All right, that's it from us this month! Spring has now arrived... and I'll tell you all about it at the end of September.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Snapshots - July 2016

 Hello again and welcome to my July recap told through snapshots from my phone! At the start of the month I was busy with my Jack and Lydia project basket. I'd made all the squares for the sides and finished up with a large multicoloured granny for the bottom of the bag. Possibly a waste of time since it won't be seen, but enjoyable all the same! Then one cold and drizzly morning, I sat inside with the sewing machine and whizzed up lining squares, of interfacing covered with a pretty floral print cotton. I even made pockets. And after that I carefully hand sewed each lining inside the square (not as tedious as it sounds, since I watched lots of awesome crafty podcasts while I did it). The sewing was the hardest part of the whole project - crocheting the squares was fun and easy, and joining them will be a breeze. Oh, yes I did say "will be"... I have a really terrible habit of getting a project finished to at least 90%, so close that I can almost see the finish line, and then losing interest and moving on to something else. So here at the end of the month, these pretty squares are still sitting in a stack, just waiting for me to join them all together and make the handles. It will be so quick and easy, and yet I am not remotely interested in doing it right now. Oh well.

I wanted to practice my knitting some more, so I knitted a very basic square in stockinette. This was going to be sewn up in the shape of a toy bunny, according to something I saw on Pinterest. The knitting itself went well even though the yarn (a chenille from my stash) turned out not  to be the easiest to work with (there's absolutely no give in chenille!) but I didn't really measure, and when I came to sew the bunny it turned out to be a lot bigger than I had thought. And just like that I didn't like it any more! So that's two project fails in one month... not a great start!

Weatherwise it's been cold and frosty, but aside from that pretty settled. A lot of the country has been having rain and/or storms, but it all seems to have been going around us here in Christchurch. Most weekends I've been able to get outside and work for a few hours doing a bit of cutting back and tidying, and I got my garlic planted.

I also finished planting and weed matting the front garden. I'll do a proper photographic tour in spring when it's all filled in a bit. But to sum it up, there is a climbing rose planted next to the arch (it's one I took as a cutting, and I may or may not keep it depending on the colour.) I also have some star jasmine cuttings to plant on the other side, but they are very slow growing, hence the rose. The maple tree in the terracotta pot is probably temporary until I find a better small tree. There are three rose bushes, a snowberry bush, a small rhododendron and some peonies in the bed. A penstemon in the middle and a camellia that I transplanted from the back garden.

I'm looking forward to seeing it all filled in a bit! I'm also pleased to call it finished for now, so I can move around to the back garden and the new bed that's been dug there... hopefully I'll have more of an update for you on that next month.

Early in the month I became aware of a crochet along being hosted by Charlotta of In The Yarn Garden. I've always admired Charlotta's work so I ordered some yarn from Wool Warehouse. It's a mixture of Drops cotton Love You 6, Love You 7 and Safran. I'm using a 3.25 mm hook.

The project turned out to be a cushion cover, and a new part was released each week. I worked fast to keep up so I could share my progress on Instagram, and here is my progress over the month.

Here are Podrick and Ini looking all sweet. In fact they had tired themselves out after being complete monsters! They woke me up early by jumping all over the bed and ultimately knocking over a lamp. Then all morning they chased and fought and jumped on each other, clawed furniture, knocked the things I was working on off the table. I tried shutting them outside and they sat outside the screen door and scratched it. Then I heard odd bangs at the door and when I looked outside, one of them was climbing the screen door! Honestly... children! I got ready to go out and that was when they decided it was nap time.

I also had another lovely yarn club delivery from Little Woollie. This is Cascade 220 Superwash, a DK wool. Another great stash enhancement!

July flowers are some of my favourites. Pretty pretty camellias and hellebores.

It's always magical to see a butterfly on a warm winter's day.

I contributed some squares for #Jennysblanketofhugs - a project being organised by Kate at Just Pootling. This is a blanket to show love and support for Jenny, daughter of Amanda (Little Box of Crochet) while she undergoes radiotherapy treatment.

I also made myself a hat as the one I have is too itchy! This is just a cheap acrylic but it doesn't make me itch so it's a win. The pattern is Hyde Park Hat.

That's it from me this month! See you at the end of August with the next edition.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Snapshots: June 2016

 All right, I know I'm late with June's update! To be honest I don't even know where the month disappeared to... July was here before I knew it. I'm not struggling with winter this year and I think the reason is that I feel so busy! I have multiple projects on the go including craft and garden plus all sorts of things I want to get started on, and the days just aren't long enough! Luckily most of my craft projects are good for working on at night. Let me show you what I've been up to...

 At the start of the month it was all about knitting! I finished the Linus shawl, my first ever knitted garment.  It certainly isn't perfect but by the end of it I felt quite comfortable holding the needles in the Continental style, and my stitches were a lot neater (and I wasn't dropping them nearly as much!) I'm still not keeping a very even tension, but hopefully that will improve a lot with practice. The lovely self striping yarn (King Cole Riot in Funky) does help detract from the mistakes, and I finished it off with a crochet picot edging. I'm very happy with the shawl, and it's been lovely to wrap around my neck when I'm gardening on a cold winter's day.

 I got some wonderful happy mail this month - a beautiful pair of hand knitted socks! These are from Sue in Wellington. How lucky am I - thank you so much Sue! When I come to try and knit socks myself, I'll be able to tell if I'm on the right track :)

Well, there were some days this month where warm woollen socks were a must, but other days were warm, as evidenced by the sweet peas and roses still flowering in the garden.

 Another of my projects is reclaiming my craft room, from the piles of junk and clutter that have overtaken it. Slowly, as the budget allows, I'm planning to put better storage in there. I started with some tall white bookshelves, since my books are overflowing the one bookcase in there already. After I moved some books, I also had room for the crochet blocking board and my wips  - so it's made a difference already! The next plan is for a chest of drawers to put my yarn stash in.

 When I visited Mum this month we (of course) hit the secondhand stores and I found some sweet little shabby chic treasures! I'm always adding to my vase collection and can't resist pretty salt and pepper shakers (which can also be vases with the tops removed). And I had some more happy mail with a yarn club box I subscribed to from Little Woollie. It contained four balls of lovely wool yarn as well as some other little goodies like buttons and special tea bags. I'm looking forward to finishing off some projects, so I can make something with this gorgeous wool!

 Here are my Jack and Lydia squares! As I mentioned last month, these will be sewn together into a cube to make a project bag. They have been such fun to make, just playing with pretty colours and different combinations of stitches.

 One thing I love about Instagram is the opportunity to put a group of pretty things together and take a photo. Here are a couple of my favourite pretty photos from this month. Camellias and hellebores make such good photo props... I hate to say it but I think they might be better than roses!

 There was a particular morning this month where the early sunlight was golden and it illuminated everything so vibrantly... trees, houses, birds flying overhead. Magical light like that makes me want to spend all day in the garden, but it's mostly too cold... 3-4 hours between 11-3 is usually enough! I am still working in the front garden (as you can see in the photo bottom right) getting the ground dug over and the bed shaped the way I want it. Then it will be weed matting and planting. I aim to have it all finished and tidy for spring!

Oh, and how's this for a winter harvest? Apples, lemons, leeks, silver beet, and even a couple of tomatoes and strawberries from the glasshouse! Also herbs, daisies and roses. 

July is rocketing by, and I'll be back before you know it with my next update! Hope you are all having a good winter/summer!


Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Snapshots - May 2016

Hi again, here we are at the end of May to go through the month in snapshots. The weather this month was unusually mild and even summery, and it was lovely and often quite hot to be outside. We took plenty of strolls around the garden looking at things. I thought about the work ahead, to do when the weather is a bit cooler and the growing season has stopped, and the cats chased things and climbed trees.

It's really been a beautiful end to the season. There are autumn leaves and colour everywhere, and the last of the roses to be picked and admired.

There's also been plenty of crochet this month. I got some Circlepuff Squares completed! (Still plenty to go.)

Some more gorgeous autumn scenery... left, the fernery at the Timaru Botanic Gardens, right, Queen Elizabeth rose in my front garden.

Kitten pics! The boys continue to grow and be adorable.

It's time for bringing in leaves and seedheads and making autumn arrangements.

Some more of the month's crochet. I painted my blocking board and used it to block Circlepuff Squares. I also made and blocked more Jan Eaton squares.

I guess I didn't have enough projects on the go, so I started a new one. These squares are Jack and Lydia from the Sophie's Universe blanket pattern. I'm absolutely dying to make a Sophie one day, but in the meantime these squares were perfect for this project, which will be a project bag. A simple cube with a square for each side and some handles on top, and each square will be different aside from the central motifs. So they have been a lot of fun to work on, mixing and matching colours and stitches for each round.

Also in this collage is some autumn garden beauty - camellia Elfin Rose, and brilliant blue viburnum Davidii berries.

The cosmos has finished in the front garden, and its seed heads have been picked clean by finches. It's time to clear out this new bed in the front, so I can plant it up properly. I really did enjoy the sense of enclosure created by the bushy cosmos, so I'll definitely try to create a screen with shrubs, but I hope to keep it from getting too dense like it has along the fence line. We've just chopped out some shrubs and trees that were past their expiry date, so I have room for quite a bit of new planting and I'm excited! But more about that next month :)

For a few years now I've had it in the back of my mind that I would like to learn to knit socks. Hopefully, this will be the year that it happens! I've been following the YouTube podcast Crafternoon Treats, and the host Kathryn is in the similar position of being a crocheter wanting to learn to knit. She recommended the Linus shawl pattern as being a good one to start with. So I found the pattern and ordered some yarn and needles, and I've been knitting away, very clumsily at first! I'll go into my knitting more in another post. This yarn is from Wool Warehouse in the UK, and I really hope I like sock knitting as I have a good stash here! Even with postage and the exchange rate, it was cheaper and a much better selection than we can get here in NZ, so I'll be ordering from there again.

I had another piece of happy mail at the end of the month - a beautiful ATC from my talented friend Mayumi in Japan. It's been handpainted and stencilled with the lovely pansy design. I love the vintage style of it and had great fun laying out this wreath to photograph!

It's been a pretty good month really - good weather, plenty of craft and pretty things. Let's hope June is filled with more of the same.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Circlepuff Square Crochet Pattern

Circlepuff Square crochet pattern - US terms

Round 1: make 16 tr in magic ring.
Round 2: join next colour between 2 tr. Ch 2, make puff stitch in same sp (*yarn over, insert hook* 4 times - 5 loops on hook. Yarn over and pull yarn through all 5 loops - puff stitch made.) Ch 2, puff stitch between next 2 tr. Continue around - 16 puff stitches.
Round 3: join next colour in a ch 2 space. Ch 2 and make 16 puff stitches as in round 2 - but yarn over 5 times for each stitch, and ch 3 between puffs.
Round 4: join next colour in a ch 2 space. Ch 4, 2 tr in same sp. 3 dc in next sp. 3 hdc in next sp. 3 dc in next sp. 3 tr, ch  2, 3 tr n next sp (corner made). Continue around, finishing with 3 tr, ch 2 in same sp you started in.

Tips for puff stitch: pull your hook up a little each time you yarn over to keep the yarn fairly loose, so it is easier to pull through on the last yarn over. Try not to wiggle the hook too much as you pull through so it doesn't catch the loops.
When sewing in the ends, give a good tug on the end from the beginning of the round as this makes the ch2 at the start as small as possible.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Snapshots from April 2016

Hi all, here is the update from the month of April! Weather wise it was a perfect late summer month. If daylight savings didn't end right at the start of the month and the dark evenings start creeping in, you wouldn't realise it was autumn! Ok, well looking around the garden might give you a clue. All the late summer favourites are there... dahlias, cosmos, hollyhocks... but berries and seed heads are also starting to appear, marking the seasonal transition.

I bought three packs of tulips from The Warehouse - they had a great selection this year. I planted up a couple of pots to go outside the front door, and I'll put a few amongst my spring bulb selection lining the driveway.

The beautiful weather lent itself to sitting on the deck relaxing at wine o'clock. Even when it rained (which only happened a couple of times) it was beautiful. The downside of course is that everything is very dry, and I find it hard to keep the garden well watered when I don't have that extra time in the evening to do it.

Kitten pics! Podrick often appears out of nowhere and flops himself down on me for a cuddle. In the above left picture, he is reclining on my left hand which was holding a book open. And in the above right pic, he flopped on top of my crochet. Luckily we all agree that kitten cuddles are much more important than anything else you could possibly be doing!

Inigo (left) and Podrick (right).

This month I crocheted a sock! I lost track of how many attempts it took... four? Five? But at last I made one that I could get on my foot. The really funny thing is, when I made Sock #2 to match I somehow miscounted the stitches even though I thought I had them right, and when I tried to put it on, it was significantly smaller than Sock #1. Hilarious! I may try again at some stage, as I really want to be able to make wearable socks. Apparently the type of yarn affects the stretch factor though... so practising with cheap acrylic may not have been the best idea.

In other crochet news, I worked on the last colourway for my Circlepuff Squares blanket. The next step is to add the grey to make them square.

Here is a square being formed! And a shot of a particularly pretty moonrise one evening.

Oh, I also made a new pair of fingerless gloves. But they are currently stalled because I'm trying to come up with some embroidery designs for them. And I made this little poppy for Anzac day.

At the end of the month, the garden is looking full and floriferous! The first camellias are blooming, accompanied by the last roses, and even a late flush of clematis. I need to soak it in because winter is coming... but surely it's still very far away?

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Snapshots from March 2016

 Hi friends, here is my little update from March in phone photos. These first photos were actually taken earlier in the year in January, when I had an ATC swap with a lovely lady in Japan who I met on Instagram. I hadn't made ATCs in a few years and it was fun to sit down and play a bit with papers and pencils. Styling them for photos was just as much fun. I didn't want to share them until she received them, and then of course I forgot about the photos for a while! So, here they are.

 We had beautiful warm weather throughout most of March. The garden thrived with the warmth and a few evening showers from the sprinkler. Cosmos, roses and dahlias are rampant.

 And of course, Podrick and Inigo arrived this month. They are settling in most beautifully and entertaining themselves and me with lots of things around the house. (They were very enthusiastic helpers when I had some beans to shell.)

 I made a few more Jan Eaton squares. The idea is that each square is different, so I feel free to play with different colours and patterns. It's fun and I'm enjoying working the colours together. The squares are really big too so it should have a nice patchwork feel.

 I've also done some more of the centres of my Circle Puff Squares. I'm really enjoying this project as something I can just pick up to work on any time without having to think too hard... I love the colours and the pattern so it's always enjoyable. I have one more colourway to do and then I'll add the last round in grey to turn the circles into squares.

 Easter fell at the end of the month. I got my Easter branch out and hung my decorated eggs. I then felt the need for more decorated eggs, so I got some more plastic eggs and applied some gold Peelcraft stickers. I coloured them in with Copic markers and finally varnished them with Glossy Accents, to give a faux enamel look. Seam binding ribbon gave the finishing touch.

I haven't spent a lot of time at my computer this month, hence the lack of posts. I've been busy with plenty of other things like reading, crochet, drinking coffee, gardening and playing with my kittens. It's been a great month though - hope yours was too.


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