Monthly Archives: January 2017

Fancy Another Free Pattern?

Fancy another free pattern? Yes?

OK, but before I reveal all, may I just thank you from the very bottom left corner of my heart for the generous comments that you left regarding the chair. However, I am deeply aggrieved that you’ve all sided with Stoic Spouse about whether or not anyone should sit in the thing.

The twinnage certainly can’t be kept away. Here’s one young man and his car park:-

In all the excitement of the chair, I didn’t get a chance to tell you about another project – one that you might actually want to make. Take a look at this cowl:-

Falling Leaves cowl stranded knitting free pattern

The design came about after I was contacted by Hobbycraft (the major UK craft store chain) and asked to design something for their website. That was last autumn. And with my usual combination of optimism and stupidity, I set to work designing an autumnal project… which was ready shortly after Christmas.

Falling Leaves cowl stranded knitting free pattern

So allow me to introduce the Falling Leaves cowl. The FREE pattern is published on the Hobbycraft website, right HERE.

Falling Leaves cowl stranded knitting free pattern

It’s a stranded knit, but because there are some crazy-long floats, I’ve suggested an alternative way of trapping them.

Falling Leaves cowl stranded knitting free pattern oak

Talking of cowls, Rainbow Junkie (love the name) has made a beautiful jewel-coloured version of my All That Jazz cowl. Her rather gorgeous version is here on her blog. I love it!

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About A Chair

[whispers] It’s done.

Let me tell you a story.

crochet cottage garden ikea poang chair cover

Once upon a time (an embarrassingly long time ago), there was a young psychologist who lived alone in a flat in Oxford. She loved her home very much and was happy there, but she didn’t have much spare cash, so not being able to afford an antique overstuffed armchair on castors, she went instead to Ikea, where she bought a Poäng chair:-

The chair served her well over the years, and was sat in without obvious complaint by a long succession of friends, family, and a couple of boyfriends.

crochet ikea poang chair cover cottage

Eventually, she moved out of her lovely flat and got married. The chair came too. (Well, it didn’t come to the actual wedding: she didn’t love it that much.) Her husband grew fond of the chair, which was fortunate because for his bride, it was pretty much a case of ‘Love me, love my chair’. But the Stoic Spouse understood that, and all was well.

crochet ikea poang chair cover

The chair accompanied the not-quite-so-young-now couple through a succession of house moves, before coming to rest in their long-term home. And still, the faithful chair accommodated bottoms of all shapes and sizes, with almost no complaint apart from the occasional creak.

crochet embroidered yarn seagull ikea poang chair cover

By now, the definitely-left-their-youth-behind-some-time-ago couple had two small children, and the chair accepted its fate of being climbed on and used as part of a den.

crochet cottage garden ikea poang chair cover

Which brings us up to about a year ago. After so many years of loyal service, the chair was understandably looking the tiniest bit shabby around its edges. So like many things in the house – including the building itself – it fell victim to yarn-bombing. Frankly, anything in this house that’s not moving is vulnerable to being yarn-bombed. That’s why guests don’t tend to stay very long.

crochet cottage garden ikea poang chair cover cat pond

The let’s-face-it-middle-aged-now psychologist had once designed a crochet bag shaped like a cottage, and in a moment when reason abandoned her, she decided that it would be a good idea to make a larger-scale version to cover the chair. There was probably wine involved in this ridiculous impulse.

crochet cottage garden ikea poang chair cover

So she set about crocheting the cottage, and also a garden which would form the seat of the chair. (There were a few knitted bits too, such as the pond and the picnic blanket.) And when her hooks and knitting needles weren’t up to the job, she picked up her darning needle and embroidered flowers, and leaves, and little rows of vegetables, and a pigeon, and a door-knocker, and…

This work took some time. I have no idea how many hundreds (thousands?) of hours have gone into this chair cover. Then one day (yesterday, as it so happens), she was busy attaching a small embroidered seagull to the roof of the cottage. She fixed its feet in place, wove in the ends, and then she realized…

…It was done.

crochet cottage garden ikea poang chair cover

Not just the seagull (which had been fiddly enough – do you know how hard it is to capture the essence of seagull in yarn?) but the whole thing. Done. Finished. Complete.

crochet cottage garden ikea poang chair cover

She stood back to look at her work, and she thought, ‘That, my friends, is completely and utterly bonkers. I shall not be making another.’

crochet poang ikea chair cover

Just a chair… that I spent a year crocheting all over.

So shall we take a tour? The roof is crocodile stitch (see my tutorial), and walls are a brick stitch that I improvised, loosely based on equivalent stitches used by others. That rambling rose took flippin’ ages to embroider:-

crochet cottage garden ikea poang chair cover roses flowers

The garden was fun, and provided plenty of blog-fodder along the way.

crochet cottage garden ikea poang chair cover

The lavender came out quite well:-

crochet garden lavender embroidery

There was cake:-

crochet cottage garden ikea poang chair cover cake

And flower-beds and veg-beds that took an age to make.

crochet cottage garden ikea poang chair cover flowers

The rambling rose needed a sturdy trunk:-

And whoever was to sit on the picnic blanket needed a good book:-

And just to make it realistic, there’s a pigeon in the vegetable patch:-

pigeon

The pigeon is rather small, and was a tad fiddly to make:-

crochet pigeon

Want to see the back? It’s very plain:-

So, whilst I’m not about to rush off and make another one, I’ll grudgingly concede that this yarn journey has been rather a lot of fun.

crochet ikea poang chair coverMany of you have shown huge encouragement along the way. THANK YOU for your loyalty and kindness, you crazy enablers! I hope that the result has put a tiny smile on your face.

Meanwhile, I don’t know how much each tiny weeny little yarny stitch weighs, but the fact that the cover alone (minus cushion) weighs 2.5 kg (5lb, 6oz) should give you an idea of just how many stitches went into this beast. Quite possibly over a million.

All sorts of yarn was pulled into service, especially anything green. There’s hand-dyed merino and there’s mass-produced acrylic. But I do want to thank my friends at Stylecraft, because there’s a lot of Stylecraft Special in this thing, especially DK-weight amongst the flowers and pond, and their chunkier weights for the back of the cover.

crochet garden knitted

Anyway, to conclude this family saga, the psychologist showed the Stoic Spouse the finished chair, and encouraged him to sit in it. But although he admired it and said nice things, he refused to sit, claiming that the chair cover might get damaged if people used it. The psychologist pointed out that she’d made it practically bomb-proof, and it was designed to be used. Still, the Stoic Spouse refused. The psychologist, being a reasonable sort, offered him a choice between sitting in the chair, and divorce. The Stoic Spouse chose divorce.

But what he doesn’t yet know, is that in the divorce settlement, I shall make sure that the only piece of seating he ends up with is this chair, so he will have to sit in it!

The end. (We’re not really getting a divorce, by the way.)

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Finishing Touches

No, really: I’m practically done.

All that remains after a year or so of work on that completely crazy project is to sew/crochet the thing together in its final setting. I know that a fair few of you have generously walked this journey by my side, for which I can only thank you for your extreme patience. In a few days’ time, I’ll be able to photograph and show you the finished object in situ. I just hope that it’s been worth the wait. In the meantime, here are a few shots of the finishing touches that I’ve been adding over the past week or so. They’re all additions to the garden, because that’s where I’ve been able to go wild, so to speak.

I made some terracotta pots, and planted them with flowers that may or may not be tulips. For reasons that will be clear when you see the finished thing, everything in the garden has to be fairly flat, so they’re not particularly tall pots.

crochet flowers in pots

They were made by single-crocheting round and round, increasing by one in every stitch in the soil colour, then switching to the terracotta colour and adding a couple more rounds without increasing stitch count.

I used my Stylecraft Special shade-card to choose the colours. Just for the record and in case you’re crazy enough to want to replicate something like this, the soil is ‘Dark Brown’ and the pot edge is ‘Copper’.

And there are flowers in ‘Turquoise’, too.

Someone suggested a cat. So meet Gemma. (Stylecraft Special, ‘Black’, whilst we’re on the subject.) Don’t worry, she’s not going to catch that fish.

The real Gemma is a sweet animal whom the twinnage and I often pause to stroke on our walk to school.

I’ve replaced all the messy-embroidered lily pads with neater crocheted ones.

And I’m making some pebbles for the edge of the pond, just so that all the newts and frogs can climb out easily.

It feels quite meditative, working round and round to create these little stones.

So that’s about all. I ‘just’ need to do a bit of sewing to join this ol’ beast together. Y’know, I might almost miss it once it’s done. Almost.

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Rhubarb!

All right, all right, you lot. I can see how titling a post ‘Finished Object’ might have given the teeniest impression that I’d finally finished that project. Sorry. But your comments have also nudged me to get on with final push towards completion, so thank you. Though when I do weave in the last end, I’ll be posting under a considerably more hysterical title than ‘Finished Object’. Look out for a post titled OMG, OMG, IT’S DONE, IT’S DONE, IT’S DONE! SQUEEEEE!!!!!!!! Unless the finished job looks a bit rubbish, in which case you’ll find me sitting on the floor in the corner, nursing a bottle of gin.

crochet embroidered cottage house

A detail…

Anyway, thank you for stirring me back into yarny horticultural action. In case you’re new to this ludicrous thing, it’s… hard to explain. Far too long ago (I’m not even sure that Europeans had arrived in the Americas yet) I had one of those ridiculous ideas that really should have been taken out back and throttled immediately. But instead of thinking Nope, that’s a stupid idea, I decided to go ahead. You see, after designing/making this bag in the shape of a cottage, I started dreaming a little bigger. Because if you can make a small bag look like a cottage, why can’t you do the same to a large piece of furniture?

crochet embroidered cottage house

With a bit of manic effort, I got the cottage part done fairly speedily, but as many of you will know, I got a bit lost in the garden, for a while. No longer! Look, I’ve finished another flower bed!

crochet garden knitted

And just to add to the veg patch, I’m rather pleased with this rhubarb. (Stylecraft Batik ‘Raspberry’ is pleasingly perfect for the stems.)

crochet rhubarb

The problem is – and it’s a big problem – that as I finish each section, I look at previous sections and think Hmm, that could be better. So I started crocheting lily leaves for the pond, instead of the messy embroidered ones.

knitting crochet pond garden

And now I’m thinking, Hmm, I never really have been happy with the water. So I’m wondering about crocheting something in a colour that’s a little more murky. Meanwhile, I can’t leave this thing around without some small child parking their toy cars on it or moving diggers in to begin building work. Sigh.

But I have a target: it shall be done and shown here by the end of this month. There, I’ve said it out loud. I have a confession, though: there’s an even more ambitious idea swilling around in the fevered backwaters of my brain.

crochet garden knitted flowers

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Finished Object!

New year is a funny ol’ time, and I realize that folk have wildly different feelings about it.

If you’re one of those ultra-sorted people who takes their life to the existential gym five times a week for a thorough workout, and you’re ticking those life goals off the list faster than the ink will flow from your pen, then I’m sure you’re just fine-and-dandy on New Year’s Eve, and are up at midnight singing Auld Lang Syne with the best of ’em. (Maybe you even know all the words.)

Predictably, I’ve been knitting.

But if life isn’t yet quite in the Nobel-prize-winning position that you’d anticipated, then it’s all too easy to OD on cheap prosecco and get maudlin about how it’s “yet another year and I still haven’t won first prize for my onions in the village produce show,” which can lead to sitting in a dark corner at the party and despairing. I mean really, how does Mr W.M.M. Prendergast Esq. from Rose Cottage keep growing these award-winning monster scallions year after year? How?! They’re freaks of nature! I swear there must be some kind of doping irregularity going on. If I tried chopping one of those onions for dinner, I wouldn’t just get a bit tearful; I’d solve the whole Middle Eastern water shortage.

In fact, I’ve FINISHED the knitting.

But, hey, 1st January is just another day, as is the 2nd and the 3rd and the 4th. I sincerely hope that your 2017 will be filled with good things both large and small. And yarn. Lots and lots of squooshy yarn. Happy new year.

So did you stay up past midnight to see in the new year (just to check that it did actually arrive on time – like a really important Amazon delivery)? I headed to London with the Stoic Spouse and the twinnage, to a small party at the house of friends from undergrad days.

Naturally, I knitted on the way.

T’was fun. At five to midnight, we observed our many-years-old tradition and climbed the stairs to the very top of their house. From the attic room balcony, we waited for Big Ben’s midnight chime (via the radio), glasses of champagne ready in our shivering hands. As the new year arrived, we watched fireworks burst all across the London skyline. I know that a lot of people will be glad to see the back of 2016.

New Year's Eve fireworks over London

We attempted to sing Auld Lang Syne, but even though we’ve been doing this on and off for the best part of twenty years, none of us really knows the words, so we just hold hands with our arms crossed and sing, “Should auld acquaintance be forgot, la la la la la la laaaaaaaaa. La la la la, la la la la, for the sake of auld lang syne.” I do realize that Google is a thing, and we should probably be doing better by now.

So I hope that your 2017 has started well. What’s happened round here so far is that I’ve finished my heavily modified version of the ‘Glitter Glam’ jumper. It’s come out OK:-

The pattern is from a recent issue of Simply Knitting magazine, and is listed right here on Ravelry. (Speaking of Simply Knitting, my latest column is out in the current issue. Feel free to go pester your newsagent for a copy. Obviously it’s a marvel of wit and erudition, this time about how deeply yarn/knitting have infiltrated the English language.)

Thanks to your wisdom, I kept it simple and worked the whole thing in stockinette as the variegation in the yarn is plenty complex enough. I also converted it to in-the-round, and added a bit of shaping at the waist. Yarn: Adriafil Knitcol in shade 49: ‘Picasso Fancy’. It’s warm, but it’s a teeny tiny bit itchy, so I’m going to rinse it with hair conditioner to smooth those fibres.

Happy knitting/crocheting, folks. 🙂

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