Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cafetiere Cosy and a spot of DIY decor

Yes, I really am living the dream. Not content with a black and gold tea cosy, I made myself a matching cosy for the cafetière, so now I have TWO tastefully crocheted items in my flat. Crazy, I know.

Seriously, who doesn't need one?
While I'm at at it, let's talk about the furnishings. You can just see the white bamboo table which I painted. It was given to us when we moved into our last flat and we had always assumed we would get rid of it when we finally moved into our own place. But in the spirit of trying to recycle and re-use, I decided to paint it.

Alex Milway at leisure
I made those cushions for the sofa as well. Previously, it was a very tired and old chesterfield, and a lot of the leather had begun flaking off. I bought some duck feather cushions and covered them with material that I bought on eBay. They're not only helping to increase the life of the sofa, they're also making it a lot comfier to sit on!

The room is actually tidy for usThe cream scatter cushion cover is made from the bags that our organic bed linen came in. I didn't want to waste them and they were exactly the right size for the cushions. Al thinks they're silly, but I like them! This is what they look like on the other side.

Waste not want not!

And finally, we have the lampshade. Al's been promising to paint bright flowers on the lampshade for ages, but after about 3 years of waiting, I finally just decided to sort it out myself. Here you can see what it looked like, and how it looks now.after

The paper is from an Arts & Crafts wrapping paper book - Victorian paper for a Victorian house!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New crochet blanket

Those squares I started making a while back are finally being put to good use. I've begun composing them into some semblance of order, adding some in to the mix and sewing them together into - almost - coherent patterns. It's almost as though I planned it that way!

Anyway, here's what we've got so far:

The latest square to be finished.

Here it is next to the first one I made (still my favourite so far).

And this is the new one I'm working on. Still not sure how it will all come together (I might swap the corner pieces for something else), but it's looking ok so far, I think!

International Crochet Day at Shiny Towers

It's amazing what I'll do to try to win one of Jimbo's beautiful handmade crochet hooks. Quite how I found myself trundling into work with a bag full of wool and an almighty hangover the other Friday is a mystery to me - but I'd made a promise to teach anyone in the office who wanted to learn how to crochet, and my word is my bond.

All this was in honour of World Crochet Day, something that I read about on Jimbo's Front Porch, and which inspired me to have a crafty day in the office, much like they do over at Fruit Towers in the Innocent offices.

But while I was having these romantic thoughts of a bonding, crafting session with my staff, at the back of my mind was the knowledge that not all Shiny people are given to folksy crafting experiences, and - as expected - many of them scoffed at the very notion of spending a lunch break learning to crochet.

Luckily, I know how to win them round, and once I'd bribed them all with pizzas (bit of free advice: carrying 10 boxes of steaming pizzas is not easy), six of them stayed seated (presumably, the carb coma kept them grounded) in order to learn crochet skills.

Susi, Gemma, (who is already a wonder-knitter), Abi, Kelly, Lucy and Duncan all sat and listened patiently while I tried to talk through the hangover. Gemma proved (unsurprisingly) to be teacher's pet, and was soon helping the others. Lucy and Kelly eventually got fed up after about half an hour of valiant persistence (they were just getting the hang of it as well!), Abi finally got the hang of it (she's tried to learn before), Duncan was a natural, and Susi surprised me (and possibly herself) by not only having the patience to sit there and learn, but also by quite enjoying herself.

In the end, my initial promise to teach them to make Innocent Smoothie hats proved a bit ambitious, but the rows of trebles (US DC) they produced were still pretty impressive! In fact, there was enough enthusiasm for people to get Gemma promising to do a knitting session, so maybe this is the start of something beautiful at Shiny Towers.

You can read Abi's piece about the day over on Crafty Crafty.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Teaching people to crochet in Crystal Palace

The lovely Noisy Pitta and I had a great day back in June teaching the good people of Crystal Palace how to crochet. Here's Noisy Pitta Alison herself sitting at our stall, surrounded by brightly crocheted objects after driving 2 hours just to come and sit next to a person she met on the internet. Surely she deserves some sort of medal or award?!

The day, aimed at promoting the local shops in the area, was organised by the It's A Green Thing people, who confused me recently when they decided to move their shop to the other side of the Triangle. Lots of people stopped by to learn, which was a pleasant surprise - I had visions of us spending a day sitting on our own while people gave us a wide berth.

Teaching is tiring business (as Vanessa will attest), so thank goodness for whoever brought over the Eton Mess for us to devour, and for fellow professional blog botherer and Crystal Palace dweller, Rob, who bought me a pork butty from the food market. Otherwise I may well have *died*.

All in all a good time was had by all, and hopefully a few people will have found the lessons helpful!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Return of the Granny Blanket.

My life's work has had another makeover, returning in a smaller, more manageable format, and with a whole lot more sturdiness.

You'll no doubt recall that I've been making this blanket since before I can remember (so - what - like, 10 years or something) and it's never really been finished off properly, despite the fact that it's been put to use on many occasions.

Since the weight of it meant it was starting to pull itself apart, I finally got my act together and rejoined the pieces (properly this time), taking out some squares to make it less heavy, and actually took the trouble to edge it as well.

However, as you'd expect, I'm still not entirely happy with it. I want to do something a bit more fancy with the edging and make it a little bit bigger. But it will do until I have my next little blanket break down.

PS. You'll note that I've left in the "bright orange monstrosity" that I so objected to last time. That's because it's grown on me and it's now my favourite one. Further proof that I just can't get enough of ugly crochet.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Black crochet tea cosy - surprisingly tasteful for me

Those of you who hold each and every update I write close to your bosom, remembering every word and every project as though they were your own children, will have no trouble in recalling this "trendy tea cosy" (as I dubbed it at the time), which went disastrously wrong thanks to an ill-judged bit of sizing guess work on my part.

Well, I finally got the unfinished project back out of my stash box and added the extension required to make it fit my tea pot. And now I have an *actual* bit of tasteful crochet in my house, as well as a very nice warm tea pot. It's like some kind of Christmas miracle. Except for without the Christmas.

The cosy didn't really suffer from the half-arsed bit of bodging I had to do to make it big enough. In fact, I rather like the sideways rows I've added to each edge of the cosy. And the fact that it's custom-made to fit my pot gives it that special edge that I know will drive all my friends crazy with tea cosy-envy. They'll try to hide it with looks of complete indifference or polite interest, but *I'll* know the truth.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Yet another baby tomato hat

I don't really see the point in having babies unless you dress them up in ridiculous clothes for your own amusement. Luckily, there have been plenty of powerless babes appearing in my life recently, and I've taken full advantage of their helplessness by plopping a tomato hat on their innocent noggins as soon as they hit the air.

My latest victim is my nephew, George, who's shown his gratitude to his favourite aunt by instantly growing too large for his. What he doesn't know, however, is that I can knock these things up at a hell of a rate of knots, and each time he outgrows a hat, another one will soon appear to replace it.

It's important that these youngsters know who's boss.

Here's a picture of him pretending he doesn't care that he looks ludicrous.

Whitting in the Wood - my first handmade wood crochet hook

We bought a woodland recently. You know, as you do. The story of how it happened is too long (and possibly not very interesting), but the short version is that we love camping, we love woods, and we found a woodland for sale that was near enough to Crystal Palace for us to be able to drive to our very own woodland campsite in an hour.

Most of our time spent there so far has been used for clearing some space for the undergrowth to start returning, making a few paths and taking down dead trees. But in between the hard work, there's plenty of time to sit and stare at the camp fire and pass the time with a spot of gentle whittling.

I thought I'd have a go at whittling a crochet hook. As you can see, I still have a long way to go before I'm anywhere near to making something that's usable. But since this photo was taken, we've got some proper wood working knives, which makes life easier. It's also a lot easier once you've got a bit of wire wool involved in the process to help keep it looking a bit more tidy. I've made better attempts since this one, but still nothing I'm entirely happy with.

My brother in law is an especially keen whittler, and he produced this finished hook (above), which he's sanded and gently waxed, making a hook that's surprisingly easy and comfortable to use - much better than those jumbo plastic ones I've got. (Click for bigger)

Maybe one day, we'll be as talented as the amazing Jimbo. Check out his blog for some truly beautiful handmade wooden crochet hooks.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Orange Crochet Baby Hat. Almost as good as tomato hats

I never got a photo of the two cute little tomato hats I made a while ago. They were both used, but neither set of proud parents managed to get a photo of his be-hatted sprog before it grew out of the tomato hat. "Useless" is the word that springs to mind.

The hats seemed to have gone down well, especially with Al's brother, who asked me to make a bigger hat for little Maya, but requested that I make it an orange instead.

Thanks to the lovely Craftster forum people, I came up with the bright idea of making the hat using the orange peel stitch that Jan Eaton uses in her 200 Crochet Blocks book.

I think it came out pretty well - though I ended up over-estimating the size and produced something that almost fits me (as you can see in the pic). However, Maya's growing like a fast-growing thing, so I wouldn't be surprised if it fits her soon. Though, no doubt, now she can speak she may have something to say about being made to wear a comedy hat.

I learned a useful lesson while making this hat, which I can't believe I hadn't learned earlier: never iron acrylic wool. It goes floppy and lifeless and there's no getting it back once you've killed it.

The hat's still wearable - it's just a bit limp.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Come visit me on Dollymix!

Just a quick note, I'm guest editing Dollymix, our fantastic women's magazine, for a couple of weeks while Cate is away. So please do come and visit me and leave me lots of nice comments.

In other news, I've got loads of crafty stuff to write about, but I never seem to have the right photos on whichever computer I'm using when I feel like blogging. But, just to whet your excitement buds, I've made a tea cosy, a hat, a new blanket and another hat. I know, I know - it's too much excitement for one day.

Anyway, forget that - visit me on Dollymix! You'll like it there!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Yet another free crochet pattern - Link from Zelda. Will this kindness never end?

Yes, I did it again. Far from being content at offering the world my free Jolly Roger pattern, I set to work to create yet another masterpiece, this time in the form of the wonderful Link from the Legend of Zelda. He's not exactly perfect, but I've tampered with the final pattern which means that your version should come out a lot better. Please do let me know if you make one of these - the validation makes me feel... well... validated (wrote myself into a bit of a vocabulary cul-de-sac there).

As before, the pattern can be obtained from the wonderful Crafty Crafty blog here, edited by the marvellous Abi Silvester, who also edits our green blog, Hippyshopper. She works very hard editing both those blogs for us, so do go and visit one of her sites and leave her some nice comments. It makes *her* feel validated.

I should probably also mention the fact that it's thanks to the wonderful artistic talents of my other half, Alex Milway (to give him his full name to help his Google rankings), who made the pattern for me from his childhood memories of Zelda and nothing more. He really is very clever. Annoyingly so, in fact. But don't tell him I said that.

By the way, if you would like to read the blog of the world famous children's author and illustrator, Alex Milway, you can do so here: You can also leave him some comments if you like - he's also a fan of validation.

Click here for free Zelda pattern from Crafty Crafty

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Free Jolly Roger Pattern from Crafty Crafty

Because I'm such a nice and lovely person, I made a pattern especially for all the readers of Crafty Crafty. If you suddenly realise, upon looking at this, that your life has been an empty and meaningless existence without a skull and crossbone patch, you can download the pattern and create your very own Jolly Roger forthwith. It's a good job I was here, that's all I can say.

Get the free pattern here! Fill your heart with joy.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Mousehunter by Alex Milway - available in a shop near you!

Al's book, The Mousehunter is finally out in book stores trying to earn its keep. It's been out for a few weeks now, but the official launch is this Thursday 17th January. So, if you happen to be anywhere near the fantastic Bookseller Crow book shop in Crystal Palace, you can meet the author, get a signed copy and join us in celebrating the launch of the first of many Alex Milway children's books!

The sequel will be out later this year, and he's got another deal to write a whole different series (about Yetis!), so it's going to be a busy old year. Plus, The Mousehunter will be coming out in America and Germany (and hopefully some more countries once he gets offered some more deals).

I don't hold out much hope for our vegetable patch this year!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Amigurumi Dude - my half-arsed attempt

Oops! Just discovered this on draft from ages ago. I actually made this *last* Christmas, which makes this quite a feat of forgetfulness.

Thing is, I love the idea of making cute amigurumi dolls, but when I actually start, I find the whole process a bit too boring to keep me going. Lots of fiddly little bits and not an awful lot of mindless crochet fun, which is why blanket and hat-making command so much of my loyalty.

Anyway, as you can see, this is a fairly half-arsed little Amigurumi Dude, which I didn't ever quite finish off. I'm not even entirely sure what became of the poor little fellow. He was supposed to be a Christmas king, and I was planning on giving him to my sister. But I probably fobbed him off on some innocent child who was visiting one day. One thing worth noting, though, is the fact that I took the trouble to *knit* him a scarf, which is a very rare occurrence and should probably be marked with some kind of national feast day.

My friend put the little tassles on. She'd popped in with her other half and before either of them knew what had hit them, both Al and I had got them assisting in each of our craft projects. We really are fun people to know...