Saturday, 28 September 2013

Addicted to crocheting scarves!

I am not completely sure whether I should refer to more than one scarf as 'scarfs' or 'scarves'.  However, what I am sure of is the sweet addictiveness of crocheting them!  Apart from the fact that crocheting scarves has saved my sanity over the last few weeks, I am loving the fact that I can contemplate and make a variety of pretty stitches, borders and colours AND complete my project in just a few days.  Ah, the satisfaction!

Over the last couple of weeks I have completed this green lacy scarf (the subject of this post which contains a link to the lacy pattern) . . .


the blue lacy scarf below (same main pattern as the green, but with an interesting ruffly border) . . .


and this ruby-coloured scarf of my own invention below - voila!


I have posted basic instructions for this scarf on my Ravelry page, here.  Happy to provide more info if required.

All of the above scarves have been made using standard 8 ply (ie double-knit) merino from my stash.

I am enjoying my scarf-making adventures and plan to make a few more.

Now that 'summer is a-coming in' here and the days are getting delightfully warm, I am planning to make my next scarf  using 8 ply cotton.  As you know, cotton behaves quite differently from wool as it has minimal stretch, so I will be seeking out some patterns that work well with cotton yarn.  I will post links to any interesting scarf patterns that I find that work well in cotton at a later date.

[Slightly off-topic but just for fun, and because of the gorgeous Spring weather today, I feel inspired to provide this link to my favourite rendition of the ancient folk song 'Sumer is icumen in' for your edification - it comes from the opening ceremony of the 1974 Olympics and involved thousands of school children.  I always get goosebumps watching it.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.]

Cheers

Nandina


Monday, 23 September 2013

Upcycled wheelbarrow

After all the palaver and pre-wedding jitters last week, the wedding day was wonderful and everything went smoothly!  (I will post some photos of the day once received).

Now, post-wedding, I am having 'a bit of a breather' by way of a week's leave from work.  The weather is so beautiful today that I have decided to finish off a garden project I have had on the boil for a little while.

You may recall that I already have a wheelbarrow garden . . .


Here it is, taken last summer.

However, I have also had another old, forgotten wheelbarrow sitting forlornly behind the shed.  A year or two ago the cross piece rusted off, causing one of the legs to keep buckling, so I bought a nice new barrow.  It only recently dawned on me what a perfect planter the old barrow would make.

So, a couple of weeks ago I spruced up the old barrow with some outdoor paint (I used Dulux Weathershield low sheen paint, in 'Ecru').


And Today, I have decided, is Barrow Day.  Here is the barrow 'in situ' right before I begin to drill some drainage holes into the base.


Drainage holes ensure that the plants don't drown!

[Just as an aside, this was the first time I have ever used a drill.  I got some advice from the hardware store and ended up buying a $20 cheapie drill and one drill bit!  It worked a treat and was not as tricky as I had anticipated!]

I then filled the barrow with good potting mix and planted a mix of herbs and potted colour.



The fluffy, taller plant at the back is bronze fennel.  In the front is oregano, and the plants on each side are little stripy petunias.  All should spread and fill the space.

I will update this post in a few weeks, so you can see how it looks once the plants have taken off.

As I was in the mood for planting, I also planted up some seeds in seed trays.  A whole tray of heirloom tomatoes, and coriander, chives and Thai basil in the other. tray.


All the best

Nandina





Monday, 16 September 2013

Crochet therapy!

I am on leave from work this week as there are so many last minute things to do for my daughter's wedding.

I have found time, though, for crocheting.  And my goodness, it is so therapeutic to pick it up and slip back into the rhythm and comfort of it.  I genuinely think it is keeping me sane!

Today I finished this scarf.  I found that the simple two-row pattern is easy to memorise after a few rows, and that it progresses quite quickly into a rather nice textured fabric.

As I tend to do, I have tweaked the pattern a little to suit me.  In this case I used a smaller hook than the pattern called for, as I found that my results using the prescribed 9mm hook made the work messy and uneven.  Instead, I used an 8mm for the starting chain and a 6mm for the rest of the scarf.  I also changed the border from dc (sc) to chain loops and slip stitches.  I did contemplate doing another row of chain loops, but decided that I rather like the simplicity as it highlights the scarf's interesting texture and pattern.

So here's the finished product for your edification:


I will now, of course, have to find another project to maintain my sanity until the wedding!

Nandina


Saturday, 14 September 2013

Being calm and mindful . . .

There's one week to go before my daughter's wedding, and things are getting quite frazzled with last minute nerves.  There are issues related to bridesmaid's shoes and dress fittings.  And a particularly significant person, namely the bride's father (my ex), who lives interstate, has been trying to offload his last minute travel and accommodation difficulties onto the bride (which has made me very cross!).

Yesterday, my darling bride-to-be was in tears.  I spent quite some time yesterday calming her down, reassuring her, and working out solutions.  I have to admit that it was exhausting, and by the end of the day I was feeling quite overwhelmed by it all.  

So today, I have resolved to tackle the rest of the week by being Calm and Mindful.  I am not necessarily into meditation or such, but I do rather like the concept of mindfulness, in which one consciously dwells on the present.  This is extremely helpful when feeling overwhelmed.  I tend to forget all about it when all is fine and dandy, and recall it when everything starts to go pear-shaped.

So today, I have been Mindful whilst going about my day.  I Mindfully washed this woollen rug and  focused on lining up the squares while I was laying it out flat to dry . . .


Then I Mindfully focused on the comforting repetitions of this lacy scarf pattern (which I had found via Ravelry the other day.



Whilst crocheting, I was kept company by Rosie, our cat.  When she jumped down and found a patch of sun in which to peacefully groom herself, I stopped to watch her.



I found that watching her was quite a nice, peaceful, Mindful thing to focus on (though I admit that a number of other more intrusive thoughts fleetingly crossed my mind.  Like, she is looking a bit scruffy and it is time to run a comb over her yet again.  Still, that's the price you pay for having a fluffy cat - lots of grooming required.  You can probably see the bald patch on her right side where I had to groom off a big bobble of knotted fur only the other day).

I then got myself a cup of tea, and sipped it Mindfully whilst taking in the tranquil morning.


I do like a cuppa in a flowery cup.  It makes it special somehow.

There's no doubt about it, there's something in this Mindfulness.  I definitely feel more refreshed and calm.

I know there will be more 'issues' between now and the wedding.  But somehow I feel more confident about facing them without feeling that I am going to sink into a sea of to-do lists and general panic.  And if I do start to feel overwhelmed again, I will try and find some time out to be Mindful!

Nandina




Saturday, 7 September 2013

Crochet gifts - lavender sachets

I have been rather busy this week.  I don't think I have mentioned it before, but one of my daughters is getting married in a couple of weeks.

There is so much to do, not the least of which is my 'mother of the bride' outfit.  A dear friend of mine is making a gorgeous dress for me, and I am quite overwhelmed by her generosity in this regard, as she is quite the skilled seamstress (unlike moi).

I have of course paid my friend for all of the dress materials, but she won't hear of any reimbursement for her considerable time and effort in making and fitting the dress.  So I have been casting about for a special way of thanking her.  I have already bought her some lovely plants, and will also be getting her a box of dark chocolates (her favourite) . . . but how to give her something a little more, you know, personal?

Luckily, a trawl through Ravelry searching under the term 'gift' unearthed this pattern for these dear little crochet lavender/pot pourri sachets.


The pattern is a free Ravelry download by Agrarian Artisan Designs.  It uses 8ply (dk) cotton and has versions in both UK and US terminology.  And the pattern is delightfully easy.

A slight halt in proceedings occurred when I realised, after crocheting several of the sachets, that I - not the world's best sewer - was going to have to "Make pouch out of wadding or fabric" for filling with lavender and inserting into the crochet sachets.

After some serious thinking time, I came up with the easy method below:  

Pouch for lavender sachet

1. Trace a circle on some fabric, and cut out the circle.  (I used a soft lead pencil and traced around a side plate).


2. Using thick cotton thread and a sharp darning/tapestry needle, and with the 'right' side of the fabric facing you, tack around the circle about 1 cm from the raw edge, leaving a 10cm tail and WITHOUT securing yarn with a double stitch or knot.  Similarly, leave a long tail at the end of your tacking,  Both tails should be on the right side of the fabric.


3.  Now, get your dried lavender flowers (or pot pourri).  I used the organic lavender tea in the picture below, which I bought at the Old Bus Depot Markets this morning.  It smells lovely!  There are also quite a few lavender farms around, that sell dried lavender.


Place some dried lavender on the 'wrong' side of the circle (you need enough lavender to make a plump sachet, but not so large a quantity that you have difficulty securing the drawstring).


Now gently pull the thread tails to draw together.  Knot tightly to secure.


4.  Insert completed pouch into crochet sachet and continue per the pattern - ie, weave a decorative ribbon through the eyelets and tie into a pretty bow.


And Voila!!  I will put them into a pretty lidded box for presentation.  I hope my friend likes them.  And I hope you do too!

Nandina