19 Mar 2014

Just a little bit addicted......

To spinning at the moment! Yes you did read that correctly! It would seem that finally me and Mabel are making friends...

If you remember, Mabel was a fabulous Christmas gift from a lovely lovely friend. She's a refurbished Louet S10....and clearly has a lot of history!
Now I'm being perfectly honest here....Mabel and I have fallen out of love of numerous occasions since Christmas. Lots and lots of REALLY bad words have been uttered in sheer frustration. I think it's fair to say I'm not a natural when it comes to this spinning malarkey! For a kick off....I have no co-ordination whatsoever!!! I still struggle to catch a ball. Seriously. 
But....I was totally determined to master spinning. 

I started with some very coarse and scratchy mountain sheep fibres. Easy to control so I could concentrate on drafting and treadling at the same time. Not so worried about the finished result at this stage. Getting the co-ordination going and controlling the wheel was my main goal.

This is my first go at plying yarn. Not exactly the most consistent of specimens....but hey! I made it!!! Plenty time to work on technique and finish later.

Next came some merino. Wow! This isn't so easy to spin. There were plenty bad words uttered and I admit to a couple of MAJOR tantrums. Its pretty thick and thin but definitely getting better.

*almost* useable!!! Maybe I'm finally getting hang of it????

Erm.....maybe not! More merino, but this time squished into a tantrum fuelled ball. Damn you merino and Mabel!!!!
And breathe....deep breaths....and a glass of wine ;-)
Step away from the spinning wheel and leave it for a bit....

Another go....with some beautifully blended fibres sent in the post from a lovely lovely friend :-)
What's this??? Is that a bobbin full of tantrum free singles I see?
Yup...me and Mabel are finally bonding. I'm actually relaxing when I spin rather than being a mass of tension and hand cramps. 

Check this out!!! Still a little thick and thin but much much better.

Sooooooo while waiting for more fibres in the post, I was doing a little blog hopping and stumbled across this blog. What's this??? A spin a long??? Oooooo now that sounds perfect! So I popped over to Ravelry and joined up :-) Obviously I would need some fibres for this (hehehe) so off shopping I went and purchased 300g of this...

A BFL, Shetland, Merino and Baby Alpaca blend. And boy is it soft and snuggly!!!! I got it from Spin City. It's beautifully prepared and just check out those colours!

This is where I'm up to. 2 bobbins ready to ply. I've ran out of bobbins. I've ordered 2 more. So the plying will have to wait a bit. How frustrating!!! But how weird! I'm now frustrated because I WANT to spin. I'm finding it wonderfully relaxing. I find myself going into a trancelike state when I'm treadling. Is this normal? Hopefully I'll have some plyed yarn to show you soon. 

Til next time

16 Mar 2014

Retro Flowers Blanket Tutorial!

As promised, this post is a tutorial for my Retro Flowers blanket.

I'd just like to add, at this point, that in no way am I claiming to have invented this pattern! I'm posting links to pattern sources and an alternative tutorial also. I've adapted the pattern ever so slightly to make it work for me.

Ok, that said, let's get on with making a blanket!!!

You will need:

Yarn (I've used the gorgeous Softfun by Scheepjeswol)
Crochet hook - I've used a 4mm hook as recommended
Needle for sewing in ends

The colours I've used for my blanket are:

Quantities needed to make a blanket (finished blocked size: 135cm x 105cm including border):

2412: 9 x 50g
2401: 2 x 50g
2512: 2 x 50g
2423: 3 x 50g
2515: 2 x 50g
2463: 2 x 50g
2519: 3 x 50g

These quantities should be ample with a little left over.

The Retro Flower Pattern

I have used a starburst granny square pattern. It's a simple but effective pattern. If you google starburst granny square you'll end up with a heap of links to patterns and tutorials such as this one here.

Pattern is written in English Terms.

To start: with your centre colour, chain 5 and join in the 5th stitch from hook with a slip stitch. Alternatively you can start with a magic circle.

Round 1: Chain 3 (counts as treble crochet) and treble crochet into the centre space 15 times (16 trebles in total). Join with a slip stitch into the 3rd chain of the first stitch. Fasten off this colour.

Round 2: Join your next colour into any treble (Note: you're working in the top of the treble rather than the space in between the stitches).

Next we're going to make a puff stitch! (don't panic!! it's pretty easy if not a little fiddly!) Chain 1 (counts as start of the puff stitch), wrap your yarn round the hook, insert into same stitch that you joined the new yarn to and pull through (3 loops on hook) repeat this 2 more times until you have 7 loops on your hook.

Next, wrap your yarn around the hook once more and and pull through all 7 loops on the hook (this can be the fiddly bit!) Secure the stitch with a chain stitch and there you go! You've made a puff stitch! For the next puff stitch you don't ned to chain 1 to start. Simply wrap the yarn around the hook and insert into the next stitch to start the puff. Just remember that you always finish with 7 loops on the hook. 

Repeat until you have 16 puff stitches in total and join into the first puff stitch. Fasten off this colour.

You should end up with something like this (only not out of focus like mine is!!! sorry!)

Round 3: Join your next colour into a space between 2 puff stitches. Now for a cluster stitch! Again, the first cluster stitch is slightly different to the rest. Chain 2, yarn around hook, insert into the space where you have just joined in the new colour and pull through (3 loops on hook), pull through the first 2 loops on your hook (2 loops left on hook). Now repeat this twice more (4 loops on hook), yarn around hook once more and pull through all 4 loops. Chain 2. To make the next and following cluster stitches, yarn over hook and insert into the next space, pull through (3 loops on hook), yarn around hook and pull through the first 2 loops, repeat this 3 more times. You should have 5 loops on your hook. Yarn around hook and pull through all 5 loops. Chain 2. 

Repeat this until you have 16 cluster stitches and join with a slip stitch in the first cluster stitch. Fasten off.

Round 4: Join in your next colour into a 2 chain space.

Now we are going to make the circle into a square! In the 2 chain space work 3 double crochets. In the next space work 3 half treble crochets. To make the corner in the next space work 3 trebles, chain 2 and a further 3 trebles

Continue around the circle working into each space as follows: 3 half trebles, next space 3 doubles, next space 3 half trebles, next space corner as before. You should end up with something like this...

And that's the completed square. At this point I will normally block the squares.

Joining the squares: For the purpose of this tutorial I have used a coloured yarn to join the squares. This is simply to show the join more clearly. You will join in the same colour as your last round. There a lots different joining techniques but to give an almost invisible join I really like this technique. It's quick and very effective.

With right sides together, join your yarn into a corner space. Chain 3, double crochet into the next space, chain 3, double crochet...and so on and so on...

When opened out it will look something like this.

Squares joined with white yarn. Wrong side facing.

Right side facing.
Continue joining all your squares in this method. 

Blanket Border: For my border I added a simple row of 3 trebles in each space. For the bits where the corners of each square are joined I did a treble in the corner space, treble in the join and a treble in the next corner space.  The corners were created by making 3 trebles, chain 2, 3 trebles into each corner space. This ensures that the blanket lies flat and doesn't become too ruffled. 

The actual border I used is a shawl border. It's designed by Doris Chan and can be found as free download here. (You'll need a Ravelry account to download the pattern). I simply added the border part of the shawl adjusting as needed to fit the stitches in the blanket border.

Once the border was finished I blocked the blanket again. This really showed off the finished border nicely.

Finished blanket!

I hope you have understood my instructions! I've tried to make them as simple as possible so that beginners can have a go at the blanket. If you get stuck, don't understand....or spot a mistake!!!...please let me know and I'll try to help.

Til next time!

9 Mar 2014

Retro Flowers Banket Ta Dah!!!!!

Well it seems a long long time since I received a parcel full of yarny goodness from the lovely people at Scheepjes. I instantly fell in love with the beautiful Softfun yarn. Well to be honest, it wasn't exactly difficult. This yarn is utterly gorgeous. It's soft and snuggly, comes in the most delicious array of colours and is a total joy to hook with.

If you remember, last time I blogged (I know...it's been a couple of weeks!) I was joining the squares in preparation for adding the border. Ah I love the joining process. It's the point when all those squares come together and a blanket is born! I'll talk more about the joining process next week as I'll post a tutorial.

I deliberated long and hard about the border. Do I want it simple? Showy? Lacy? How deep? Ah...I spent hours and hours trawling Pinterest searching for the perfect border! Obviously a glass of wine really helps in that process ;-) As you can see....I finally opted for a pretty lacy deep border. Actually it's a shawl border....but more about that next week!

I wanted a border that was slightly ruffled to offset and soften the very bold square design.

This image makes my heart skip a little! Bold versus lacy ruffles....

The perfect combination!

Are you ready to see the finished blanket?????

Oh go on then.....

I think this has got to be the nicest blanket I have ever made!
It totally fulfils my retro colour addiction...

It makes me smile when I look at it....

So there you have it.... my Retro Flowers blanket. 

In total it weighs 870g. It's not a huge blanket. I'll include the finished measurements in the tutorial and also the yarn amounts used.

But for those interested...here are the colours I have used:

Next week I shall be posting a step by step tutorial for the blanket!

Hope to see you then!