30 March 2014


In between the Poncho and the Blanket, I have my hands full these days, but there have been other things happening in the meantime...

Spring being one of them! :) Oh, how lovely to spot the first buds and blooms here and there ! I have been taking a long walk in the park every morning for the past three weeks, and even though there have been foggy and frosty morns...

...the change of season has definitely been noticeable...

At home, spring has had an effect on my mood and my creativity. I have been decorating more with flowers...

...taking more pictures...

...and of course crocheting various little things...

...such as a gift for UK Mother's Day, which is today. Not for my own mum, who's French and therefore will have her own Mother's Day later this year, but for a special lady here in the UK, who is like a second mum to me. I bought a wicker heart from Paperchase, but thought it looked a bit bare as it was, so decided to adorn it with a simple crochet chain in variegated yarn spiralling all around it. I loved the result and so did the lady whom it was destined to. :)

I have also been tending to NFOs (Nearly Finished Objects), by weaving in ends (more on this one soon enough, I expect/hope)... 

...and have taught myself the basketweave crochet stitch.

I really love this stitch. It's deceptively simple to create and yet has such a dramatic effect. It's also perfect to create thick winter garments, and I can envision a pretty scarf for next winter. But for now, I intend to turn the two samples I have made into a little bag. So far, I have circled both rectangles with a row of double crochets (US single). I will block them and then assemble them, probably finishing the opening with a zip. Of course, I will have to line it as well. Oh dear, I am not looking forward to that. But we'll see. Perhaps by then, I will have purchased a sewing machine, making the whole process a little easier. Hopefully.

I hope you're enjoying the first few days of spring, wherever you are - well, in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway!

See you soon! xoxo

26 March 2014

Granny Square Wednesday!

Jijihook's weekly Granny Love Challenge is still going strong, so without further ado, let's see what we've been up to...

More Blanket love this week, although not as much as I would have liked. Five complete sunburst granny squares and five circles. This kind of brings me to 70. That's 112 to go.

A few fluffy close-ups? My pleasure!

And that's the lot! I am still having tremendous fun working on those, even though I haven't been as productive this week.

Oh, and there is another one I've made this week, completely unrelated to the Blanket. Petits Modèles posted a lovely pattern on her page, and I just had to have a go, so here it is:

Cute, isn't it? It's my first ever "intricate" crochet square. I'll have to make more, there are so many patterns available online. :)

See you next week for more granny square fun!

25 March 2014

The Pesky Poncho, part 1

Last year, I fell in love. Well, sort of. Let's just say I set eyes on a particular crocheted garment whose pattern was conveniently provided by my favourite crochet magazine. None other than... drum roll, please...

the Bergère de France summer poncho!

Just look at it, isn't it absolutely gorgeous? So elegantly bohemian, effortlessly chic. Yes, as soon as I saw it, I knew I would make my own. I could already picture myself wearing it while strolling on the sun-kissed beaches of my native South of France, my first very own handmade crochet garment.

Only little thing... I did not like the colour of the original. Nope, not one bit. You see, unlike the dreamy vision who wears it in the picture, I have a very pale complexion, so put anything remotely beige on me and it's like camouflage. I simply disappear. No, I needed colour, and plenty of it.

My first move was to make a bee-line for the Deramores website and look at what other colours were available in the Bergère de France coton mercérisé line. You can find them here. Pretty enough, but... not what I was looking for. The trouble was, I didn't really know what I was looking for. So I started looking around for a colourful lace weight yarn, without much luck.

A couple of weeks later, I went to Belgium for a music festival and stayed a few nights in the lovely town of Bruges. Well, just around the corner from our hotel, and from this adorable little fellow by the way...

...I found the most amazing yarn shop ever. Although I didn't know it yet, because it was shut. And at that point, as if by providential intervention, the owner, who was still inside, saw me look desperately through the window, took pity on me, and reopened her shop just for me to have a look around. Yes, reader, that she did. I could have kissed her on both cheeks. She was the most adorable little old lady I had ever seen (no, no, I am not biased) and went to great lengths to try and communicate in English with us, for which I am very grateful, since my Flemish is not all that great. 

I quickly started browsing. The shop was like a grotto, with a bit of everything everywhere, and yarn that I had never seen back in the UK. Soon enough, my eyes fell on a collection of vibrantly colored skeins.

Variegated cotton yarn! That was it, I was in heaven. I frantically started rummaging through the various colourways, squeaking in delight with each and every one. The shop owner - perhaps slightly concerned by my emotional display - came closer, and proceeded to show me a lacy scarf in progress she was crocheting in the blue colourway (top left). We then started a conversation about various crochet stitches, which was slightly surreal since I only knew their names in English and she only in Flemish. Meanwhile, my poor other half was patiently suffering by my side.

I think the idea of using that particular yarn for the poncho came to me almost immediately, but there were three problems, of varying degrees of significance:
1) I didn't know yet which colourway I wanted
2) I only had 5 euros in cash and there was no card payment facility at the shop 
3) I didn't even know if the yarn was the right weight for the poncho

#2 was easy to solve: I would come back the following day after visiting my friend the ATM. #3 was not so bad either: I would check the exact weight of the yarn online as soon as I was back at the hotel, which meant I totally had to buy one skein just to make sure, right? If it wasn't the right weight, well so be it, I could still crochet something out of it, right? And one skein was only 5 euros! How convenient was this? Right? Right?

Ok, so problems #2 and #3 were kind of solved, or at least postponed. Problem #1 proved far more, well, problematic. I agonised over the various colourways for a few minutes, fully aware that this lovely old lady had probably had a long day and was looking forward to going home. So, in the end, I went for...

Isn't it dazzling? A true psychedelic firework! Look at the gradual blending of colours, so subtle, yet with such a bold result. I was in love, again.

We went back to the hotel, and I feverishly checked the weight of Bergère de France Coton Mercérisé, made a few calculations... aaaaaaand... the yarn I had just bought was bang on perfect! Joy of joys!!! I was one step closer to having my poncho. I simply couldn't wait to go back to the UK and start working on it. The following morning, with fresh cash in hand, I went back to the sweet old lady's shop and bought seven more skeins in my chosen colourway (plus one from the middle of the top row, and one from the left of the middle row, oh and one ball of crochet thread, just because I could). Incidentally, I was quite lucky, because she had exactly eight skeins in that colourway. I bagged them all and left the shop with a very broad smile on my face, dreaming of flowy ponchos and balmy summer evenings.

I didn't know what I was getting myself into.

To be continued... ;)

19 March 2014

Granny Square Update!

It's Wednesday! It can only mean one thing... Another edition of Granny Love Challenge at Jijihook's!

This week, 13 more squares have joined the ever-increasing stacked piles for the Blanket. Well, at least I thought I had made 13 at first, only to realise there were only 12 when I lay them out for the pictures. I looked everywhere for the last one, thinking I was going slightly crazy. Turned out No.13 did actually exist. It was just hiding underneath my laptop, all flattened and toastified. Yes, the life of a crocheter is full of adventures.

But enough flaffing around, let's have a look at the newcomers.

And here's the lot, plus the other 47. Oh, and my feet (another blatant Attic24 hommage). :)

So there you have it. 60 squares down, 122 to go. Already a third of the way through! I am pleasantly surprised by how quick those little squares are building up, and especially how much I love making them. It's an absolute joy to play around with the colour and to create new combinations. Looking forward to making some more! See you next week for an update on those :) xoxo

18 March 2014

The Knitting and Stitching Show

Last week was the first edition of the Knitting and Stitching Show of 2014, in Olympia, London. It was my first ever visit to such an event, and I have to say I was not disappointed! For anyone who's into crafts, this is definitely the place to go. There was so much! Miles and miles of fabric, yarn, thread, ribbons, mountains of quilts, beads, buttons, and things I didn't even know the name of! Oh, the buzz, the textures, the colours! It was absolutely massive, with numerous stalls and workshops and so many people. I went with a good friend of mine who's into loom-knitting and jewellery-making, and we spent a good four hours wandering around the place, in total awe, just like kids in a candy shop.

I mean, look at all this!

So, did I buy anything?


Of course I did!

I bought a shawl pin... I had desperately been looking for one since buying a drapy cardigan in Poland last year.

How lovely is it? I love its retro style and the subtle changing colours. If the nice weather remains, I may have to wait until next winter to use it, but at least I have it now. I just have to remember where I put it until then. :D

And I bought...

Yarn, of course. There was no way I could have come back without yarn from a knitting show, right? Even though I've just come back from Iceland with a suitcase full of it. So let's have a closer look, shall we?

Introducing Sirdar Snuggly Snowflake Chunky in turquoise and bright pink, and Sirdar Snuggly Snowdrops Chunky in white. Aren't they gorgeously fluffy? I have a vision of brightly coloured amigurumi sheep like these by Tejiendo Peru.

Next, a yarn that I actually know, for having bought it in a different colourway:

It's an acrylic cheapy but I quite like the interlocking of the two chunky bits of yarn. Not sure what I will make with this one, but who ever said I bought yarn with a specific project in mind?

Moving on... Here's another purchase:

This colourful beauty is German, by the brand Austermann, and is made in Turkey. If you're a regular reader of the blog, you will surely have noticed by now that I have a strong penchant for variegated yarns. Of course, I love the way they look in the shop and they're always the first items I go to. Then, I love the random effect they produce when working with them. It's a surprise with every stitch. And finally, there's the end product, a clash of colours that I usually can't stop drinking the sight of. Anyway, back to this particular one. It reminds me of the - also German - Lang Mille Colori line, of which I bought six skeins in France over Christmas. But unlike Mille Colori, which is a blend of virgin wool and acrylic, this Austermann yarn is 100% virgin wool, and so is perfect for felting. This makes me want to try felting, actually, as I have yet to experiment with the technique.

Ok, moving on again... to the undeniable star of my shopping spree at the show...

Isn't this an amazing bit of yarny gorgeousness? Love, love, looooove the soothing shades and the subtle changing of colours. Oh yes, this is definitely a favourite of mine. It heads from Chile, is hand-dyed, and is made of 70% wool, 20% Mohair, and 10% silk. That would explain the hefty price tag, which I shall not reveal. ;)

Go on, have another peek.

Aaaaah, bliss! I can't wait to start working with it. Which doesn't mean I actually know what I'll be making, no surprise there, eh? We'll see :)

And that's the lot. Everything I bought at the Knitting and Stitching Show in London. Quite a lot, but not nearly as much as how much I brought back from Iceland, so it's not too bad, is it? Is it? Which reminds me, there is something I very nearly bought at the show, only to decide against it at the last minute:

A giant crochet hook! Imagine the size of a granny square made with this beast! Maybe next time... :)

Thanks for reading! xoxo

13 March 2014

A Project for my Project

Oooo, I was so ridiculously excited about this post when I first drafted it! I had just finished a project and I couldn't wait to show it to you. Now, the excitement has gone down, but the finished project remains a firm favourite of mine. And it was not just any old project, if I dare say so myself. It was a Project for a Project, and more specifically... a Basket for my Blanket!

See, ever since I had started the Blanket, the 12 balls of differently coloured yarn had been lying around in my living room, most often propped on top of each other between the back of the sofa, or strewn across the carpet, dangerously exposed to feline temptations. Plus, I found it made it difficult to properly take in all the colours, as some of the skeins invariably ended up on top of others. In one word, it was restricting.

So I needed some kind of container for all the yarn balls. A basket. But there was no way I was going to buy one. Coincidentally, there was a pattern in issue 14 of Simply Crochet magazine, but the design was a little too intricate for my liking. I wanted something that could work up quickly in simple rounds of (UK) double crochet stitches so I could start using it as soon as possible. After a quick visit to John Lewis haberdashery section, I came back with two 200g balls of Patons Fab Big in Cream and Poppy shades. The idea was to make a basket big enough to hold 12 balls of yarn, and with "gradual" stripes. I used this bag from http://www.momtastic.com/ as inspiration:

Absolutely love the dynamic effect it creates! So light and airy, so stylish! So I decided to make the base of the basket in solid red and without further ado, set to the task:

Predictably, I soon hit a snag. As I worked up the base, I quickly realised I was running out of yarn fast. I didn't really want to go buy some more, as I thought I had more than enough. What was needed was simply a smarter way of distributing the yarn across the whole basket. Plus, I uneartherd some cream and red chunky yarn from another project (the Rug, to be exact). The colours looked almost undistinguishable from the Fab Big yarn, so I thought I'd use those scraps for my base. So far, so good:

But another snag was promptly hit. In my eagerness to save yarn, I didn't even realise that the scrap yarn was noticeably thinner than the Fab Big yarn, resulting in a smaller, floppier base. Plus, the Fab Big yarn added to the base started to make it ruffle, so it was an absolute no-no.

OK, back to the frogging board then, and more than a little annoyed by my lack of success.

Soooo, I turned back to the Fab Big yarn, but this time decided to start the striping on the base itself. At the same time, I also decided to stagger my increases, so as to avoid the distinctively hexagonal shape created when you increase directly on top of an increase in the previous round (see pics above). Soon enough, I had worked up a few rounds, and not only did the base look definitely more circular, but also the yarn was not literally being eaten away before my very eyes. Success at last. :)

And so I carried on until I felt the base was big enough:

Night had fallen by then, hence the weird lighting in the above picture. It was now time to start the sides of the basket, which I did by working one round into the back loops of the last round of the base, and then carried on in rounds without increasing, which naturally created the sides.

With such chunky yarn, it was working up very quickly, making it very satsifying. It was almost as if the basket was growing out of nowhere. Almost. Very soon, it started to look very basket-ish indeed. Or basket-esque.

By then, it had become so basket-y that I couldn't resist already using it as a basket while I was still making it.

I was so extremely excited by the fact that it was keeping its shape. Granted, I don't need much :D But still, this was a project of my own design, born out of trial and error and perseverance. It is an incredible way to boost your self-confidence.

And finally, it was time to add handles. Weaving the ends in, which thankfully there wasn't much of, as I'd done most of it on the go, and that was it. The basket was finished! 

A little look? Come on, you know you want to. :)

Ooooo, so stripy and basket-y! I absolutely loooove how it turned out. And as a consequence, I took quite a lot of pictures. The top view...

The arty-farty view...

And many more, but I'll leave it at that. Except for one last little picture... The one with all the yarn inside it, of course! It's a basket after all ;)

So there you have it. The Basket for my Blanket. It is now a fixture of the living room, and I am pleased to say it is very good at fulfilling its basket duties!

I'll be back soon! xoxo :)