Saturday, September 27, 2014

PATTERN: The Margaret Square

 This free pattern is for an afghan square that I named the Margaret square: Daisy was a popular nickname for girls called Margaret, but this square seemed a little bit more demure and less whimsical than the name Daisy merited, so it goes by the more formal Margaret instead. Using a 5 mm (H) hook, it creates a 15 cm / 6 inch square. Using a worsted weight yarn and a larger hook, this square would measure close to eight inches.

The pattern can be downloaded as a PDF from the Ravelry pattern store for free (you don't have to be a member of this site to download the PDF.) download now

Friday, September 26, 2014

Me and the Y Chromosome

I have a husband and two sons. This greatly influences my crafting endeavors, primarily because of all the (cough) "help":

"This is MY street!"
"No, this is MY crochet."
"NO, this is my STREET!"

Craft basket hemmed in by vehicles. I waded through a sea of Matchbox cars to take this photo.

Thanks, love.

Surrounded as I am by cars, tractors, diggers, front-loaders, trucks, trains, helicopters and planes, it's very nice to make things that are ... more feminine. I recently knit my niece a jumper - more about that in another post, but here's a picture for now, because we all need a bit of colour:

In my defence, she wanted "a jumper in rainbow colours" 

 ... and that blanket in the craft basket? It's a new, free pattern that will follow before the weekend is out!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tutorial: Lo-So Crochet Tote Bag

While rooting through one of the large bags of yarn that I keep hidden stored in the bedroom cupboard, I found a bag-within-the-bag that is - cringe - my Bag of Shame. Therein I found my little stash of started projects that had been abandoned in favour of something more exciting. Including a bunch of neat little cotton squares, bordered and stacked and ready to go:

They were supposed to be a cushion cover but upon looking at them again, I thought they might make a nice bag ... but the sewing! Bleurgh: sewing a lining for a cotton bag is just so much hassle.

Then I had a brainwave: instead of sewing a lining for a bag, why not sew a bag for the lining? And the Low Sew (Lo-So!) crochet tote bag was born. I wish it were a No-Sew (No-So :-) ) bag, but I haven't figured that one out yet.  

You need - 
- crochet squares in a pattern of your choice
- a linen shopping bag (even one that has a printed logo: the logo will be covered by your crochet work. I bought plain linen bags on Amazon for 99c.)
- a darning needle
- a sharp sewing needle
- strong sewing thread in a colour close to the colour of the bag

I simply sewed the squares together (but you can crochet them together or use the join-as-you-go method) and placed them on the bag to determine how much bigger the bag was: 

Toy car not necessary, but apparently helpful

You want your panel to be slightly bigger than the linen bag, so I crocheted two rows of double crochet at the top and bottom, and one row of half-double crochet on each side. I did this on the front (pic on the left) and back (right) panel.

I then turned them face to face and sewed them together on three sides, leaving the top open. I turned the crochet bag/cover right-side out, and slipped the linen bag inside.

Taking a sewing needle and strong sewing thread (I simply doubled mine), I sewed the top of the crocheted bag to the top  of the linen bag, so that the linen bag became the lining of the crochet bag! Sneaky, eh?

Please look closely at amazing sewing technique and do not look at unmanicured nails. Thank you.
To stop the linen bag from wrinkling up inside its crochet cover, I simply turned the entire thing inside-out again and stitched the crochet bag and the linen lining together at the corners - just a few strong stitches to anchor it, that's all.

The last thing I did was to crochet a small strap to close it at the top and add a button. That's it. Easy-peasy!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Weight Now

My true love.

I love cake.
I really do. A few years ago I met an old friend and over the course of our chat, he told me that his abiding memories of yours truly were of me asleep and eating cake. At this point, let me just say that I used to sleep a lot. I can't count the number of concerts, parties and films I slept through. I slept on epic bus rides across Europe and down Asia. I could sleep anywhere, at any time, in any position - a bit like a cat. And as I haven't had a good night's sleep in nearly three years, I do not regret a single snore. As for the cake eating ... well, let's just say that he astutely summed up the essence of my twenties.

Of course, all that sleeping and eating of cake eventually catches up with you and, meanly, it's often not in your twenties but in the decades thereafter. I've had two children in nineteen months and it's left me two clothing and one shoe size bigger. Now, I don't really believe that size matters. I think a person who feels comfortable in their skin exudes a certain kind of radiance: I've known very svelte women who wear their size like an itchy hairshirt; I've known large women - very large women - who manage to look jaw-droppingly fan.tas.tic in a way I can only envy because they wear their size like an expensive coat.

See, it took me a long time to align Outside Me with Inside Me, so finding Outside Me out of kilter with Inside Me again is a bit disconcerting. I don't carry too much extra weight well, I don't look like a curvy goddess, I tend to look like a strudel-scoffing Hausfrau (which, I suppose, I am.) More alarmingly, I never realised that childbirth can make your feet stretch - and they don't go back!!! - so I not only have a wardrobe full of clothes that don't fit, I also have half-a-dozen pairs of beloved pick-me-up shoes (hello high-heels! Toots to my suede boots!) that I can't even get my feet into. Sartorially, I feel like an ugly step-sister.

I caught sight of myself in a mirror three weeks ago and realised how ill-at-ease I look. Two days later (after a day of eating chocolate and banoffee pie - seriously, I'm not a martyr) I started a diet. I don't want to be skinny, I don't even want to be thin: I want to be comfortable. No, more than that: I want to be powerful. I want to be full of energy and dynamism ... preferably in that nice skirt I bought five winters ago.

I'd never dieted before, so some of the things I learned about myself were a little shocking, namely:

1. My idea of a portion size and a nutritionist's idea of a portion are entirely different. Fancy that! I, apparently, like to eat a Brontosaurus' portion of pasta, rather than a human's.
2. It takes about twenty minutes for my sated feeling to kick in. Until it does, I feel hungry and continue to eat, but I'm actually not. I think my stomach and my brain need counselling because they don't communicate very well.
3. I love sugar, but it hates me. It really does and I don't know why, because I have loved it dearly since early childhood. It makes me hyper, gives me headaches, encourages cravings and it has cost me at least one second-hand car in dentist's bills.

Three weeks later, I'm 4 kilograms / about 9 lbs lighter. I'd like to lose the same amount again. At which point, I'm going to put on my nice winter skirt, squeeze my feet into my high-heeled boots ... and eat half a banoffee pie.