The seed of a sprout

Not gardening, but the start of a Sprout blanket! I’m hoping to turn the below pile into one over the next few weeks. Cheers to Knittin’ in Britain for the idea!

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The original pattern calls for Spud & Chloe Sweater yarn in the Grass colourway. However, this being an American luxury(ish) yarn, trying to get enough here in the UK to make a blanket in would set me back £33. So I’m using Paton’s Cotton Twist in Lime instead, bought from Pack Lane Wool at a much more reasonable £10.92 for 6 balls (plus one extra they sent me by accident, yay! I did offer to return it but they declined).

I really shouldn’t start anything new given the number of WIPs I have sitting around, but I think I need something to kick start me back into knitting and crocheting again. That’s my excuse anyway and I’m sticking to it. ;) This WIP really wants me to finish it though, just look at its poor, forlorn eyes…

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Valentine’s Frivolities

Let the catch up posts begin! Things that happened in February no. 1: Valentine’s Day.

Rob and I decided that we’d do a “handmade” Valentine’s celebration this year. Neither of us approve of the commercial meat grinder that has all the shops pushing red love heart covered items of all shapes and sizes at you from mid-January, so we thought we’d just do a dinner & DVD night in.

I also had a WIP on the cards for the past few months that I thought would be an ideal Valentine’s gift. Originally I’d intended to make it for our 3rd anniversary (last weekend in October), then for Christmas, but those deadlines just flew by with it in a frogged state. Anyway, it still wasn’t finished by the time I got home on the 14th, but that was ok as it turned out Rob was also making me something that wasn’t ready either! Eventually, at 11:05pm, I handed over a little Valentine’s Monster, made to a free pattern by Emma Varnam with the love heart to a free pattern by PlanetJune:

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At the same time, Rob handed me a felt plushie Super Meat Boy! All his own design as well. :D

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He towers over the little Valentine’s monster! Anyway, as previously mentioned in the flower posts, the dinner was postponed until the following Thursday. I raided the BBC website for some recipes, and decided on pan-fried duck with roasted veg pilau rice and plum-berry sauce and sautéed potatoes with lemon and rosemary for a side dish.

Whilst cooking, I came up with a novel way of displaying the recipes to free up the worktop.

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I use clothes pegs for so many things, and hardly any of them involve hanging up clothes! Anyway, 2 hours or so later, ta-dah!

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See what I did with the sauce? It really didn’t work on the other plate though, need more practise. Ok, so dinner was a bit later than usual at 10:30pm, but we had a lovely time. Rob had tidied up the dining area (this was much more difficult than it sounds) so we weren’t eating off our knees as per usual, and laid the table with giant tea lights from his camping stash and a bottle of wine. Bloomin’ marvelous! :)

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The food was delicious, especially the rosemary and lemon new potatoes! And the pilau rice was amazing, well worth the extra effort involved massacre-ing a butternut squash. The recipe (supposedly for two) made enough rice to feed us for lunch the next day. I’m not complaining though. ;) I think I could have cooked the duck a little longer than I did as it was still on the rather bloody side. Still, neither of us died, wahey! Next year I’m buying the ingredients the day before though…

29 Flowers, 29 Days: The Conclusion

Hello! I’m sorry this post is 2 weeks late – it seems crochet-ing and blogging furiously for a month means I need a mental break from both activites. It took me a week to get around to darning ends, and then another week to take photos in decent light. There’s quite a few photos of various groups, I got a little excited. ;) Please do keep reading to the bottom to find out who won the competition though! So finally, here we have them, all 29 flowers together in one place:

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Here’s the first ten flowers I made:

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Middle 9 flowers:

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Last ten (sorry for the poor quality of this photo):

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Knitted flowers (I didn’t quite manage one a week):

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A pyramid of easy, filler crochet flowers:

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All the roses:

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All the poppies:

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Flowers that most resembled their namesake:

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A bit of a diversion, but I thought I’d make a group of the flowers that are great for wildlife, as our bees and butterflies sadly need all the help they can get (not that crocheted flowers will help them much). The ones in the group are apple blossom, hellebore, aster, scabious, cornflower, borage, buttercup, field poppy, daffodil, daisy, wild rose, scottish thistle and oriental poppy. Although dahlias can be good for wildlife, it’s only single varieties that are beneficial as the double flowers have so many petals the insects can’t get to the nectar (this goes for most flowers – single, good; double, bad) and my dahlia was definitely a double one.:

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Finally, my favourite flowers out of the 29:

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YAY! It makes me so happy to see all of them together, so many bright, colourful things. :D I can’t believe I finished all those. I really do have to thank my boyfriend Rob for all his support over February – he definitely did far more than his fair share of chores during the challenge, and I’m ever so grateful to him for doing all that. Thank you Rob!

So who won the competition then? Thanks very much to everyone for all the suggestions, but in the end there were two that it was very hard to choose between: Amanda’s blanket and Erin‘s wreath. However, my house is pretty cold at the best of times, and my walls are in absolutely no condition to hang anything on (there’s a lot of decorating to be done at some point!) so I went for the blanket. Congratulations Amanda! You have won five hand-made flowers[1]. As it was so hard to choose though, I’ve decided to give Erin a bonus runner up prize of three hand-made flowers[1]. Congratulations Erin! And thanks again to everyone that suggested, I’m sorry if yours wasn’t chosen (if I get time I might send a small bonus flower your way).

Right, now all that’s done I can write some posts that aren’t about flowers. Well, that aren’t about crocheted ones anyway…

[1]The “flowers” can be any of the patterns (not just flowers) from Jan Eaton’s 100 Flowers to Knit or Crochet, if you go to the Amazon link you can preview the book to see what they are. They don’t have to be different either – if you want three of the same, that’s fine. :) Although please play nice and don’t ask for 5 bunches of grapes or something! Please send me your choices and address through Ravelry-mail (sleeperwaking) and I’ll try make them by the end of March. If you have an opinion over whether you’d like them out of acrylic or cotton, and colour choices, please let me know that and I’ll see what I can do (this is stash reliant though).

29 Flowers, 29 Days: Day 28 & 29

The final two flowers! Sorry for the delay in posting these up. I finished the last one late Wednesday, then real life intervened for a few days (Rammstein concert and a hen party among other things). Also, keeping up with the challenge for the past few weeks has really tired me out, and I needed a few days off to sleep and catch up with housework.

So, day 28 was finally the turn of the dreaded pelargonium! These are more commonly known as geraniums, and I think this one definitely looks a lot more like a geranium than the one I did for day 10. Why dreaded? Well, there’s a fair bit to it, and I must say it took me more like a day and a half to complete. BTW, this is intermediate crochet pattern no. 68.

First you make 5 flowers:

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The flowers themselves were quite hard to work out how to finish. I’m sure I’ve not done them quite right, and I spent a little while forcing the petals into the right arrangement. The next step is to add green stems and centres to each one:

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Fortunately the process of adding stems improved the petal arrangement somewhat. Finally, you combine all the stems into one giant stem! The instructions said to leave one end 8″ long for each stem, and then use one stem (out of the five) to do 16 dcs over the rest. I had just enough yarn for 8 dcs. I think next time I’ll leave something closer to 16″… This photo shows how I laid out the flowers before knotting them together, trying to keep each the same distance from the knot:

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Making the uber-stem was incredibly fiddly. After doing the 168dcs, you had to pull the remaining stems one at a time through the middle, and do dcs at the top to draw the flowers together. I abandoned this method after 2 stems and instead of doing a dc I just wrapped the tail-end around the flower stalks in a basic knot and pulled tight, which was far easier and worked far better than the dcs. Ta-dah!

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 I’d say this flower definitely embodies the pelargonium successfully! I am surprised at how well it turned out considering the amount of frustration it caused – the making up was one of the worst to do out of the 29. I’m not sure I’ll attempt it again for a little while, I’m a bit pelargonium-ed out.

The final flower, day 29, is a viola for Rob’s Mum and Gran, advanced crocet pattern no. 99. When asked which flowers they liked, they came up with a wood violet, so I tried to make the closest thing I could given the patterns available. To that end, I made the flower out of one shade of purple, although this does make distinguishing between the petals quite hard.

First three petals completed:

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With final two petals in viola formation:

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With final two petals in wood violet formation:

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There! Finished. It’s not that impressive a flower to end on (I’m not sure why it’s an advanced pattern either, the pelargonium was far harder to do!), but I’m so, so, so happy to have done it! Tomorrow I’ll sort out all the ends that I haven’t darned and then take some photos for a round up post, when I’ll also announce who’s suggestion I’m going to use to display all the flowers. If you haven’t yet made a suggestion, feel free to put one forward on this post (I’m looking for a way to display all the flowers together). There’s a prize for the best one! :)

29 Flowers, 29 Days: Day 27

SW: Today we have an extra-special guest post by my friend unitled who had never picked up a crochet hook before making the 27th flower. I’ll let him carry on from here!

Today I have been mostly playing… Crochet a Flower Simulator!

Actually, I haven’t. I’ve taken the advice of my Dad to heart, and done some REAL crocheting instead (erm, that is, advice about doing things in the real word… as far as I know, my Dad is AT BEST indifferent towards crocheting).

My wonderful friend Gemma who runs this blog and I have done a cultural exchange; she has played a game neither of us has played before, and I’ve had a go at doing a crochet flower. I don’t think I’ve knitted or crocheted in my life; I remember making pom-poms in primary school (I think this involved making loops of cotton around two cardboard rings, then cutting through them… hardly a highly skilled task!), and I did make a rather nifty drawstring bag at secondary school, but I have absolutely zero experience with any other fabric-based craft.

Gemma had picked out a nice simple crochet pattern for me, a lazy daisy I believe (I don’t know how that is different to a normal daisy… maybe the normal daisy gets up earlier?). Well, she assured me it was simple; there were more arcane words and diagrams than in some of the nerdier dusty tomes I’ve got stashed in the loft! The basic patten was to make a yellow chain, join it back on itself to make the centre of the flower, follow that round with double crochets, then do a series of white chains around the outside for petals. I think I have all the technical terminology there! (SW: Top marks!)

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Gemma worked along with me, teaching me the different stitches as we went. I found it alternately annoying and relaxing; when I got the hang of a stitch, I could let myself go on. It was similar to the mental relaxation I used to get doing maths in lectures at Uni: when I had a fat, juicy equation to work on, I found I could not worry about anything else and simply concentrate on the task in hand. With the chains at the end, I found myself wishing they were longer so I could get more into the motion!

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(SW: (short) video evidence! Mwahahahahahaharrrr! Although that appears to be a yarn under instead of a yarn over… <.<)

However, I must admit there were a couple of times when I nearly let frustration get the better of me and give in. Sometimes it seemed like you’d need three hands to crochet effectively, and I couldn’t seem to see quite what I was supposed to be doing. The relatively simple flower I did here has given me a whole new-found respect for the amazing creations Gemma has produced over the past month on her blog!

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(SW: Left flower is a demo one, made out of 4ply cotton, Right flower is unitled’s, DK acrylic.)

I definitely think I would give this another go. Once I got the hang of a few of the simple stitches (as in, so I’m able to talk and stitch at the same time without the quality of one of the two suffering) I think I’d be able to do it while listening to music or radio, maybe half watching the TV. So, if Gemma will take me back as an apprentice, I’m eager to learn more!

SW: Congratulations to unitled on finishing the flower! I’m very impressed, especially as it’s the first crochet thing he’s ever made (and I’ve plenty of spare yarn and hooks now to lend out to any future padawans). Also, my thanks go to photographer Rob. :) Click here to read my review of Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth on unitled’s challenge blog. Tomorrow I’ll post up the final two flowers – they were definitely completed within the time scale, promise!

29 Flowers, 29 Days: Day 24 & 25

Apologies for the radio silence, I was down south for Rob’s Mum’s birthday. Flower making did continue though, promise!

Day 24: Camellia, advanced crochet pattern no. 92:

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The resemblance is fairly accurate to the single camellia, and certainly the resulting flower is quite attractive. I did mess up the placing of the inner petals but I didn’t have enough time to undo them and start again, so I’m calling it my slightly mutated camellia. With hindsight, I should have done an easier pattern on Friday as although this one wasn’t that hard to crochet, it took ages. Long story short, I finished it on Sunday afternoon. However, this late on in the month I’m running out of quick patterns so beggars and choosers etc. Also, the excuse this time is that I spent most of Friday evening packing and being driven down south with not much chance for crochet (now if we’d taken the train…).

Day 25: Scottish Thistle, intermediate crochet pattern no. 61.

Ever since I saw this pattern I knew I had to do it. I still found it a bit intimidating though, which is why it’s quite late on. It’s done in an almost amigurumi style which was a nice change from 2D flowers, and was actually fairly quick and easy to do (silly me for not trying it earlier!). So you make a head and stem:

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The head was constructed in a basic bowl shape and then stuffed with the purple yarn ends (ok, pink in this case, but I had no purple in the right shade). The book’s instruction for the purple bits was to cut a load of short lengths of yarn and tie them in a tassel. I decided that this would result in bits of yarn everywhere so instead I folded a long length of yarn into a concertina, tied it round the middle and cut through the loops at one end. I then wrapped it loosely with some spare red yarn (from a failed camellia petal) to add to the stuffing.

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Then all that’s left to do is sew the stem onto the head! I made my stitches radiating out from the stem in all directions so that it would stick out perpendicular to the head and I reckon it’s worked rather well.

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Looking good! Definitely one of my favourite patterns so far, with a great effect / effort score. Also, fortunately a lot less spiky than it’s natural inspiration. I think I’m going to have fun chasing people down to tickle them with the soft, brush-like petals over the next few days. Rob, beware!

Anyway, Day 26 will follow in its own post – it is made, but I reckoned 3 flowers in one post was pushing it ever so slightly.

29 Flowers, 29 Days: Day 23

Today we have a Narcissus (please note this is the flower that looks like a daffodil, not the Greek dude who loved his reflection). It’s an intermediate crochet pattern, no. 71 in the book, and constructed in one piece unlike the daffodil I did a while back. Anyway, it looks like this:

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If you turn it on its front, it looks like a six legged spider, or maybe a small crawling robot:

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*crawly crawly crawly* across the desk…

I don’t know if you can tell, but the photos are slightly better lit today. That’s because my Rob is an awesome Rob who bought me a bright halogen lightbulb for my little study. Yay for being able to see! :D

Also, pelargonium, what pelargonium? <.< (I decided that flower was best attempted on a non-work night).

I’m still wanting suggestions for what to do with the 29 flowers at the end of the month. I’ve decided the person with the best suggestion gets to choose up to 5 flowers out of the book, which I’ll then make and send over. So far, the winner is NOT my Dad with his suggestion of a hideous Easter bonnet (bringing back horrific memories of the Easter bonnet parades at school, just as he intended). Shudder. Mind you, I’ve no idea what he’d do with the flowers if he won. Maybe make them into soup… Anyway, the other suggestions so far include:

  • Pinning them all on to a cushion (James at work)
  • Putting them on straws and turning them into a bouquet (Rob’s Mum)
  • Making a blanket and putting one flower on each square (Amanda)
  • Putting them all on a hat (My Mum)

I’d definitely like to do SOMETHING with them, I just have no idea what!