Bennie Booties

My friend Jayne has gone on maternity leave and left me in charge of her print business – brave lady! It’s such an adjustment going back to work, even if I am working from home.

So I’ve spent a lot of time over the past two weeks learning the business, which doesn’t leave much time at all for crafting or reading (or staring blankly at the wall either). These booties however, I made last night watching 3 hours of Doctor Who I’d recorded. They don’t actually take that long, but it’s been so long since I’ve crocheted a flat piece that I kept forgetting to add the extra chains at the end of each row. So there was a bit of unravelling going on.

The pattern is really easy and is finished before you know it. Which is really handy when you’re off to visit in the hospital the very next day!

Pattern: Simple Crossover Bootie by Louise Mac
Hook: 4.00mm
Yarn: Lincraft Cosy Wool 8 ply – blue and pale grey
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Too hot to craft

Summer had been hiding for quite a while, and I’ve got to tell you that I liked it. Unfortunately, the past few days have been in the mid thirties, and so very very hot. In the grand tradition of Melbourne newspapers, the Brisbane Times ran an article on how it was the hottest day in 4 years. Hardly the “hottest day since 1912” headline we used to get in Melbourne, although their need for sensationalism led to the “hottest second tuesday in January for almost 100 years” type reporting on the weather. Obsessed, I say.

Anyway, weather reporting rant aside, there is no way I am going near anything wooly, unless I’m sitting in the passenger seat of an air conditioned car. Although now would be a very good opportunity to drag all my wool out into the sunshine and do an anti-mould booster treatment.

So I turned my thoughts to taking plant cuttings – it seems it’s the wrong season for that too. That hasn’t stopped me though, it’s very easy to roam the neighbourhood taking sneaky cuttings. I have my eye on a hot pink frangapani a few streets over, and am looking for some purple crepe myrtle. Our house is on a corner, and I think it would look fantastic with a border of purple crepe myrtle along the footpath!

This site has lots of good info for taking cuttings, and it cracks me up how crepe myrtle becomes crape myrtle across the pond!

Crocheting a Mini Hoot!

Like all mums of young children, I quite enjoy watching Jimmy Giggles sing and dance, and my son quite enjoys watching Hoot. So it’s a nice match really.

Of course the minute I saw mini hoot I knew I had to make one. I saw this pattern but wasn’t prepared to double crochet the whole lot – it would take so long! I’ve been on a bit of a treble crochet bent lately – it’s slightly more interesting and it feels faster as the height of the stitch makes you feel like you’re progressing further. Plus, mini hoot actually is treble crocheted so I felt justified in doing it my way.

Unlike the six mice pattern, I started from the top, and here’s what I did as a guide.

Body

Using magic circle, 6 stitches.
r1: 12 tc in ring (12)
r2: ch3, then 2tc in each stitch (24)
r3: ch3, then *2tc in first stitch, 1tc in the next stitch * repeat, until there’s 1 stitch left and 2tc in it
r4: ch3, then *2tc in first stitch, 1tc in the next 2 stitches * repeat, until there are 2 stitches left – 2tc in the first stitch, and 1tc in the next stitch
r5: ch3, then *2tc in first stitch, 1tc in the next 3 stitches * repeat, until there are 3 stitches left – 2tc in the first stitch, and 1tc in the next 2 stitches
r6: ch3, then *2tc in first stitch, 1tc in the next 4 stitches * repeat, until there are 4 stitches left – 2tc in the first stitch, and 1tc in the next 3 stitches (60)

next 8 rows: tc each stitch

then start reducing for his lower body
ch3, then *tc 1, tc2tog* repeat until the end
tc for 6 rows
ch3, then *tc into next 7 stitches, tc2tog * repeat until the end
ch3, then *tc into next 6 stitches, tc2tog * repeat until the end
ch3, then *tc into next 5 stitches, tc2tog * repeat until the end
ch3, then *tc into next 4 stitches, tc2tog * repeat until the end
ch3, then *tc into next 3 stitches, tc2tog * repeat until the end
ch3, then *tc into next 2 stitches, tc2tog * repeat until the end
ch3, then *tc into next 1 stitch, tc2tog * repeat until the end
ch3, then *tc2tog* repeat until end.
thread your tapestry needle and loop through remaining stitches, pulling tight. tie off.

The eyes I did as per the pattern and sewed on black felt circles for the pupils. The little heart I actually used this pattern.

Wings

I followed the pattern, but I found the eighth row didn’t really make any discerning curves for me, so here’s what I did instead:

ch 3, tc, htc, dc, sl st, dc, htc, tc, tc, htc

Feet

The feet I did flat rather than round, mainly because by this time I was just so over it and wanted to finish so I could get started on the next project. Story of my life really – no staying power and easily distracted by bright shiny things. So the feet are very very simple:

Chain 4, turn, dc into second loop, then 2 more dc (3).
Ch1, turn, dc into second loop, dc into next 2, x 4 rows
Ch 1, turn, into second loop, 2dc into each for row (6)

Now we’re splitting for the toes (which are 2 stitches each),
Ch1, turn, * dc into 2nd loop, dc into next loop, ch1, turn* repeat for 4 rows. Tie off.

Sew everything on, and breathe a sigh of relief that it’s over 🙂

Update:

After 2.5 months of loving from a small child, Hoot is a little worse for wear. While I preferred the treble crochet, it seems that a tighter stitch would keep his stuffing in. So unless you want to make a lining with muslin and the stuffing inside, then the double crochet stitch is probably the better one. Even though it takes so much longer!

NB: Something I learned at Spotlight the other day – what Australians call calico, Americans call muslin – I’m talking about the christmas pudding fabric. What Australians call muslin I’m not sure what the American name for it, but it’s the fabric used for baby wraps or for decorating weddings 🙂 The Spotlight lady had had a woman in who’d used an american pattern to make a rag doll from muslin.. it didn’t end well!

Pattern:
Hoot from Giggle and Hoot by Krystal Higgins
Hook:
5.0 mm
Yarn:
8 ply acrylic from Spotlight and Lincraft

My Hoot cake

I’ve made a lot of cakes, biscuits, slices and desserts in my time, but never have I made a kid’s birthday cake.

So for my son’s first birthday, I made a Hoot the owl cake, from the ABC2 kids tv show, Giggle and Hoot.

hoot the owl birthday cake

It’s just 2 butter cakes with 2 batches of lovely butter icing. Even with my sometimes dodgy oven, it turned out quite well. The cakes even baked pretty much flat, which was helpful. The template is made of 2 round cakes, with the head cake being a bit larger than the body cake. My larger cake tin is a springform tin, so I could use the base as a template to cut the body to fit around the head. The wings and feet were made from that leftover overlap.A good tip for cutting out cakes is to freeze (or at the very least, chill) the cake first as it won’t crumble as much.

To my surprise you can buy black food colouring at Woolworths – though it probably would have been a better idea to just use licorice. I mean, honestly, when am I going use black food colouring again?

Nana tea towels

My brother is turning 30. He’s a normal bloke – has a job in finance, rides his bike into town each day, a house in the ‘burbs, a kid, a dog, and yet, what did he ask for for his birthday?

A crocheted tea towel that attaches to the oven handle.

I shook my head and laughed.

But, I am a good sister and have made him one. I resisted the urge to go crazy colours and horrible tea towel, and instead have opted for something that looks a bit more modern and fashionable. Well, as fashionable as a tea towel can be without getting all Cath Kidston about it.

Turns out they’re exceptionally easy to make. The longest, and most boring part of this little project is sewing the embroidery stitch along the top so you have something to start crocheting into – otherwise it’s quite snappy.

Don’t you just love my tapestry needle? It’s so old and rusty that I had to get the steel wool out and give it a bit of a clean before using it!

So there you have it! I have a feeling that button is from one of my wool coats, so come winter time I may need to do a sneaky button exchange.

Pattern:
Hook: 4mm
Yarn: Cotton

My attempt at a succulent terrarium

Another thing I have been inspired to create – a terrarium full of succulent plants. Unfortunately I live in the subtropics, and don’t have access to beautiful Californian lava rocks, or equally beautiful outback Australian red desert dirt. I suppose I could have used the beautiful white sand from the Gold Coast, but that’s about an hour’s drive away and seems a bit excessive for a few cups of sand.

So the Californian reference. There’s a blog I follow called The Brick House. Some years ago Morgan and her partner bought a shambles of a house and set themselves the goal to furnish it with stuff bought for less than $100, plus doing a complete renovation. They now have a house full of awesome mid century furniture, and many lovely white walls. I identify with Morgan’s pain for many reasons – we both bought houses with garish, clashing paint colours throughout (though she often had them all in the one room – at least I just have a purple room, a forest green room, an orange room, a hot pink room…), we both live in suburbs surrounded by old people, and we’re both tight with cash 🙂

Anyway, after all that, at one stage she made a few succulent terrariums (below):

And I thought to myself, what a great way to use all those succulents you’ve been accumulating over the years. So, I finally tried it.

As I was using white pebbles, I decided to place my dirt inside a takeaway container inside the bowl. I’ve found that they grow so well in Brisbane that restricting their root space will probably keep them small and therefore they won’t outgrown the bowl.

This only ended in tears once, when the container slipped sideways spilling all the dirt on the white pebbles. A sawn off coke bottle (which had already been reincarnated into a glasshouse over winter) made cleaning the pebbles really simple.

After that it was a simple matter of arranging the succulents and covering over the whole lot with pebbles.

A side note on how my succulents travelled from Melbourne to Brisbane

About a year ago we moved interstate, to a city that is 18hrs away by car (2 by plane). We drove up, mainly because I was 7 months pregnant and refused to get on another plane, and also because we had to get the car up, and it was cheaper to drive and stay at hotels than to put it on a train and fly up. We did it over a four day drive (though if you’re really crazy and have a car full of drivers you can do it in a day). As most of our stuff would sit in storage for at least a month, I had to take all my plants with me. In the car.

I saw this as a challenge; Jules saw this as the world’s biggest pain in the bum, and thought it impossible. For my succulents I took lots of little cuttings and packed them into rectangular takeaway containers, then hid them under my seat. I bought 2 storage boxes, crammed them full of plants, and hid them in the boot under everything else. I did away with suitcases – instead everything got packed into those “green” freezer carry bags (the ones with zips) you get from the supermarket to cart all your stuff home. Some plants, such as the lemon tree, just stood in the back footwells. It was quite nice having a tree sitting up behind me in the car.

Also, we couldn’t put open bottles into the storage containers, so there were vodka and whiskey bottles crammed into every available space.

But we could still see out the rear window, so it wasn’t completely crammed full, in my view.

Ripple rug for the couch

Currently the walls in our family room are forest green with rust red trim, which I only recently figured out was meant to look like wood. One day, when we’ve put the new kitchen in we will paint the open plan area that encompasses the kitchen, dining and family area – hopefully in a nice pale grey.

In a bid to influence my husband on this upcoming paint decision, I have started hooking a ripple rug for the couch. I’ve decided on no set pattern of colours, but a mix of cream, pale grey, charcoal and black (and any more greys that I can find in the next few weeks), in random order. I’m also adding a few red ripples in for contrast – it sounds odd but I think it will work.

13 ripples down, 67 to go! I estimate I need about 80 ripples, based on Attic24’s ripple rug. I’ll see how I go.

Pattern:
Easy Ripple Afghan by SusanB  (CO 130)
Hook:
5.00mm
Yarn:
Assorted 8 ply acrylics