The Cromium blanket

I once read a short essay about knitters and crocheters and how most have a disproportionate view of the level of difficulty of the work they do. They make something, that the rest of the world looks at and thinks “wow that looks really difficult” and the knitter/crocheter is dismissive and says that it’s not that hard, it’s just stitch x, or a small baby thing etc. They’re not being smug or whatever, they just really don’t see it as something difficult. Generally I’d agree with that, and it relates to anything anyone does – whether it’s computer programming, painting walls, crocheting, lawyering. It’s not hard for the person who is in the field.

Except for this baby blanket. I look at it, it doesn’t look hard. I look at the pattern, it doesn’t look hard to follow.

I then proceed to spend days trying to figure out the first 3 rows.

Finally, with the aid of this helpful tutorial, I figured it out. Then it’s easy peasy lemon squeezy from there!

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Pattern: Chromium Star Blanket by Laura Lynn Hanks
Hook: 4 mm
Yarn: Panda cotton blend and Sullivan’s coton-a

Valentine’s cardswap

I signed up for the 2014 handmade valentine day cardswap thinking I would have heaps of time to make 4 cards over 3 weeks – hahaha I hear you laughing from here.

I started to get a little worried when I realised I needed to allow a bit more delivery time for international postage… but at least I’m not alone in my delusion. I’m in group #32, which means there’s at least 159 other people around the world frantically trying to finish 4 handmade valentines cards for complete strangers. That makes me feel a little better.

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Crocheting hearts for inside the cards. I originally followed the pattern thinking it was UK stitches (hence the little one on the left!) and realised on the second row that it was in US stitches – the fact that there are 2 naming conventions for the exact same stitches drives me mental!

I carved some shapes out of an enormous eraser that can be found at Kmart for $2. I attempted to make a chevron one, but my skills were lacking and I ended up with tiny hearts instead.20140204_150003

Stamping the hearts onto the calico was fun

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This is my in-progress shot when stamping the calico for the bunting. I didn’t realise I had this many scissors in the house, let alone all on one table!

I then sewed the bunting to the card and hung the crochet heart inside.

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Making a toy sushi set

Sushi toy play setMy 3 year old son loved playing in his toy kitchen and has recently become obsessed by sushi. So what better way to be an enabler by making him his own set!

I tried crocheting a sushi roll, and it kind of worked, but still managed to look misshapen (probably the kindest description I can think of).

So I had vague notions of cutting up a length of dowel and painting it, and so was on the lookout for this. Around the same time I found myself in the stationery section in Kmart and discovered you could buy washi tape there! Kmart goes fancy! Anyway, they had this little plastic container of coloured paperclips for $1, so into my trolley it went.

Then a few days ago, on that wonderful day I like to call daycare day, I dragged my youngest to Reverse Garbage in Woolloongabba and discovered little felt discs – like these discs, only smaller. From memory they were 20c or 25c, something like that.

Felt discs

The first time, I glued the discs together and then thought it would be pretty easy to just sew on the coloured pieces of felt by sewing through all 3 discs. Bah-baum. No. That didn’t work, and left me with a broken needle that required some nifty tweezering out by my husband. (using nail clippers, because he couldn’t find any pliers!)

Sushi with a broken needle

I came to the realisation that it wasn’t going to work, so prised them apart and sewed the felt pieces to the single discs and then glued them back together. With my pinking shears I cut some strips of black and glued them around the sides and held them all together with pins.

Play sushi

Then into the box, with a few soy fish filled with black wool – lovely!

Play sushi in a box

It was an instant hit, and here’s Miffy waiting patiently for her sushi with soy sauce!

Miffy waiting for her sushi

Mulberry jam

This all happened in November last year. I think my blog feels a little neglected!

My dad, who lives on the outskirts of Sydney, has 2 mulberry trees that are prolific fruiters. So each year he comes over with anywhere between 1 and 4 kilos of mulberries. That’s a lot of mulberries to use, and I don’t have that much space in the freezer to store it.

So this time, with my exactly 1.5kg of mulberries, I am making jam. Better yet, the recipe I found is easily multiplied by 3.

I read a fair bit about whether it would require jam setter or pectin  – some say yes, others say no. If you want to be completely crazy you have the option of storing little apple cores and skins in your freezer in order to make your own pectin (for setting), or you could just buy it from Coles.

Mulberry Jam

  • 2 cups of mulberries
  • 1.5 cups of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

The full recipe is over here.

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Stirring the mulberries, spoon standing upright in the mulberries – this all made about 5 jars. A few to give away and a few to eat over the next year and no-one gets thoroughly sick of it!

Growing bamboo

Dracenas

We’ve been in this house 2 years already and we really should have planted trees in the first week. We get the sun all day – which is lovely in winter as we barely need to turn on heaters during the day, but in summer it is HOT. I don’t go in the backyard for 6 months of the year as there is no shade at all.

Note to self: next time plant trees immediately. In fact, I’ve started growing trees from cuttings now in preparation, even though in reality it’s probably another 3-4 years away. Unless of course we’re insanely rich by then and can afford mature plants! In the meantime I have gone overboard on cuttings of crepe myrtle, smoke bush, and a few others, and have a million seedlings of lilli pilli and maraya due to seeds falling from existing plants.

Originally we had scrappy dracencas growing in 3 tall bunches which didn’t provide much shade or privacy. In true 60s style, the original owners had put in a brick fence breezeway, which I suppose lets the air flow through, but means the whole neigbourhood can see what you’re up to. We’re also on a bit of a slope, so if you’re standing across the road you can see over the 6 foot high fence.

So I decided to grow bamboo, but was put off by spending $60 per plant for 8-10 plants that were only 30cm high. Eventually I stumbled upon a woman selling bamboo plants on Ebay – $130 for 10 plants and pickup from Caboolture or Archefield (which is a nearby suburb for me). These plants are great and will get to about 6m, so not ridiculously high, but tall enough to solve the shade and exposure issues.

I had a fair bit of trouble getting an idea of how fast things grow, so here is my series of photos so others can benefit.

Planting in November 2012 – approx 30cm high (no photo)

bamboo at 4 months

March  2013 – 4 months later – some are almost 2m and others are still around chest height. Most plants are quite bushy with one main stalk going for gold.

June 2013 – 6 months later –  they’ve slowed down for the colder months, but are still growing. All plants have at least one stalk taller than me (172cm) and are bushing out quite nicely down the bottom, and sending up completely new stalks. Since March I have taken out some potted dracencas I had placed along the wall to try for some privacy, and I’ve also tied the bamboo in clumps to the wall.

That’s the snowflake in full bloom in the middle – also a plant that grows really well from cuttings.

bamboo after 6 months growth

bamboo after 6 months growth

new shoot

I also have 2 plants still in pots and they are  only about chest high.

A pink puppy rattle

If you ask my son what colour he wants of anything, the answer is always “pink!”. Pink milk, pink paint, pink socks. Which is why he thinks this latest little rattle is for him and not someone else!

Pink dog rattle

With the stripes I’m attempting a seamless join, which sort of works – at least it looks less obvious than usual.

The downside to the stripes of course is taking 3 balls of cotton with me and having to untangle them every 5 minutes because I am uncoordinated like that.

I have one more rattle on the horizon, and then there will be a break from them for  a while. Though really I should continue making them in reserve, as even though the actual rattle only takes a few days, I seem to take months on end getting to complete them.

Pattern: Dog rattle by Suzie Fry
Needles: 3.0 mm
Yarn: Yatsal 4 ply cotton in pinks and grey

teapot cosy!

I had a nana craft week – I made a teapot cosy!

I should have added more stitches in the beginning – maybe another 6 either side – so it fits around the wider part of the pot.

That said, it did stretch when I blocked it. If I make this again I might add a few increases (and then decreases) like darts on a skirt!

For those interested in the actual numbers, I started with 43 chains across the bottom, which became 21 chains on the side pieces, then up to 53 chains by the time I added extras across the spout and handle. To decrease around the pot rim – I did 8 hdc, 2toghdc starting from centre of handle.

Pattern: Leah’s Rose Tea Cosies by Leah Maxwell
Hook: 4.00mm
Yarn: Spotlight Marvel (grey), Yatsal (rose, green)