Monthly Archives: November 2013

Rangoli patterns

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My topic at school this half term is Celebrations – perfect with Christmas coming up! But when I started looking I realised that this time of year is jam packed with festivals and celebrations of different kinds. So I then decided that I’d focus on a different festival/celebration each week!

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Last week we had Bonfire Night as our theme for the week. We had lots of fun discussing why we celebrate the death of Guy Fawkes by putting a replica of him on a bonfire. (My Australian friend finds this tradition pretty weird and slightly disturbing – and who can blame her?!) This week our theme was Diwali.

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I knew very little about this festival, so went straight to Google to do a little research. Something I came across a lot was the use of rangoli patterns. There are some really beautiful examples on google images. I knew I could link this to maths (repeating patterns/symmetry) and therefore planned a rangoli day!

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I gave the children dotty paper to have a go at making their own rangoli patterns (which turned out to be really difficult for some of them!) but the most successful were the ones they made with coloured rice.

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I printed colouring pictures as guidelines and the children had to use the rice to fill in the outlines – simple!

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I think my favourite part was making the coloured rice. It was super easy – put a load of rice in a Ziploc bag, add some food colouring and give the bag a good old shake! (Remembering to seal the top first, obviously!)

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The blue and purple were gel food colouring which didn’t work as well, but the liquid colouring gave a lovely vibrant colour. We even managed to collect up the rice we’d used, so I now have 2 big bags of multi-coloured rice. Any suggestions what we can use it for next?!

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Of course, not all of it managed to stay in the right place…

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I haven’t seen the cleaners yet, but hope they weren’t too cross!

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New toy

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(Disclaimer: The photos in this post are horrendous. I really don’t like them. However, apart from weekends, I am never at home during daylight hours, so there are very few opportunities to take photos in good light at the moment. Let’s blame winter for the horrible photos and agree that they’ll get better once spring shows her sunny face again.)

I got a new toy last week. It was something I’ve thought about getting for a while, and seen several people in blogland using one.

I got a wool winder!

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I was so excited when it arrived! I spent a fair bit of time that evening winding yarn into beautiful little balls. It was a little tricky getting it set up – the biggest problem was that the clamp didn’t open wide enough to attach to the edge of my desk, so I ended up with it on my laptop! Probably not the best idea, but it worked 🙂

When I told Mum about my new toy she was a little baffled. Pretty much all of the yarn I buy is in lovely, easy to crochet from balls. So why bother to wind them again? This is why…

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My stripy bag is simply bursting! Admittedly, this is particularly full, even by my standards, but I wanted all the different colours I’m using for my stripy blanket in one place. And sadly they didn’t quite all fit.

However, after some very happy winding time on Saturday, my stripy yarn bag now looks like this…

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I honestly haven’t taken any out to make it look less! Yes, it still bulges horribly at the sides, but at least now it’s not spilling out of the top as well. A lot of the yarn I wound was from nearly full balls. I ended up making 2 balls instead of 1 for these – for one thing it got tricky to wind and the yarn kept slipping off the bottom. For another thing, it’s more portable to take half the amount with me on my crochet travels! And because I rarely use a lot of one colour all in one go the fact that I had to cut the yarn really doesn’t bother me.

One tip if you’re going to wind wool – keep half an eye on it. I caught up with Downton Abbey whilst winding, and got a little too distracted…

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Oops! It required scissors to fix the mess. It wasn’t pretty.

Anyway, enough time talking about it – I’m going to wind some more wool 🙂

Start as you mean to go on

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I don’t know about you, but I just love starting new projects. There’s something exciting about the buzz of a new idea and making it happen. Or discovering a gorgeous pattern, finding the right type of yarn and getting started.

However, I often find that, unless it’s a super-quick-finish-in-an-hour pattern, I get distracted/bored/confused and end up not finishing. I put the project down and walk away, sometimes for an hour or two or sometimes for several months. Let me give you an example.

Back in March or April I found an amazing pattern for a cardigan that I knew would be brilliant for my friend’s daughter.

Ermeline hooded cardigan

I downloaded it, ordered the yarn and waited impatiently for it to be delivered. Almost as soon as the yarn dropped onto my doormat I got started.

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Because it was aran yarn, a big hook and a small pattern (I made the 3 year old size) it worked up really quickly. I adapted the pattern slightly to make stripy sleeves. I listened to a Lord of the Rings audiobook. And within about 3 days I had nearly finished! All I had left to do were the button holes. And this is where the problem struck.

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I didn’t like the buttonholes in the pattern.

I played around with a couple of ideas, but had no inspiration. “It’s ok,” I thought to myself. “It’s only April and her birthday isn’t until October. I’ll think about it for a while and come up with a solution.” I thought about it. I moved it from place to place. I put it in a bag and it ended up staying in that bag until the beginning of October. I then realised that I’d actually missed her birthday!

Because I had to get it done, I came up with super simple buttonholes and finished it in just a couple of hours, ready to hand over the present a week late. Oh dear!

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Thankfully her Mum saw the funny side (and I think she may do the same sort of thing at times too!) but how ridiculous that I’d nearly finished the present 6 months early and yet still managed to deliver it a week late.

I wish this was the only example I could give you. Sadly it is not.

Right at the beginning of August I offered to test a pattern for Jill who writes the wonderful Nice Piece of Work blog. I was so excited that I had the opportunity to test someone’s pattern! Again, almost as soon as the parcel from Jill dropped onto the doormat I got started. It was an easy pattern to follow and in no time at all I’d made all the separate parts of the bag. All that was left to do was assemble it.

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And again, it just sat there. For weeks on end. Jill was so very patient with me (thank you Jill!) but I was feeling really guilty for not finishing quicker. Eventually I put it all together a month later.

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And then there’s the Stripy Blanket CAL.

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I joined in right at the beginning and whizzed through the rows for the first 3 weeks. Then at week 4 I was a little busier than usual and somehow I’ve not quite managed to get back to it yet. I’m intending to one day as I’ve seen some beautiful completed works. But I suppose I really should finish a few other things first…

Cosy Cowls

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Even though my life for the last 8 weeks has primarily been dominated by school, I’ve still been able to squeeze some much needed crochet time into my daily routine. I normally manage to do 10 – 15 mins during my lunch break which helps me to relax in the middle of the day. I’ve used this time to make up 2 more cowls. I made another Calm Cowl, this time using stylecraft special dk for the middle (I think the shade was plum) and edging it with Adriafil Knitcol (shade Dali).

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I loved how it turned out, and gave it to a friend for her birthday.

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I was also inspired by Tamara to make a Granny-style cowl. Tamara really is the nicest lady – when I admired the cowl and asked what pattern she used she searched it out and emailed it to me. Thank you again Tamara! The pattern can be found here. I ended up adapting it and made it much more like a granny pattern, but with 4 stitches in each gap and no chains between each cluster.

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I love the colours in this yarn – they remind me of sweeties! This is yet another James C. Brett yarn, this time Passion Chunky, shade 3.

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I really love it, but now deciding what to do with it – there are only so many cowls I can use at one time!

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September and October

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Hello! I have managed to emerge from the life-sucking force that is school for one week only – the perfect chance to catch up on everything I’ve pretty much forgotten about over the last 8 weeks. I was actually hoping that I’d be able to write a post earlier in the week, but it seems that holiday times can be just as busy as work times!

I started the week by staying with my cousin and his wife in London.

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They are the most wonderful hosts, so very welcoming and lovely. I had a very relaxed stay with them and managed to do a lot of reading, a fair bit of crochet and a trip to Ikea! I deliberately didn’t take my laptop and it was wonderful to have a few days away from all the distractions of the internet. And I very much enjoyed looking at this picture on their wall…

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It’s so quirky, and I love the fact that the yarn is stitched on to the canvas.

I was also inspired by a blanket my aunt made – she knitted it, then backed it with fleece.

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It makes a really weighty, snuggly blanket. I think that if I ever get round to finishing my CAL stripy blanket (which I’d really like to do – at some point) I’ll back it with fleece. That might also help to disguise the wonky edges!!

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The crochet I’m working on at the moment can’t be revealed just yet as I’m busy making presents, but I can give you a sneak peek. This stripy item is a Christmas present…

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…and I’m using this beautiful yarn (James C. Brett Aria) to make a birthday present.

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The photo doesn’t do it justice – it’s really a deeper red, and has teeny tiny sequins attached every few inches. It’s really lovely, but a little tricky to work with. It’s really fluffy and if (when!) I make mistakes it’s quite hard to unravel.

There is a lot more I’d like to show you, but thought it would make too long a post to put it all in one! To be continued…