Saturday, 12 January 2019

My dishwasher is having a laugh

Your dishwasher packed in ages ago, you've been handwashing the dishes for months. You finally get round to calling the repair shop and they ask "what's the problem?" It's been so long, you've forgotten. You run the machine ... and it works .... perfectly. 

Gah, pass the Nivea!

Monday, 17 December 2018

Not quite Doctor Who crocheted scarf

There are coincidences and then there is serendipity. This story falls under the latter descriptive noun because it's not just a random fluke, the universe has been purposefully whispering to me and the conjunction of two things has produced this scarf.

Firstly, over three or four visits to the Wool Zone in Oakham, I have been collecting one ball of each colour in Stylecraft Yarn's new Bellissima range. It's wonderfully soft; definitely wearable next to the skin,  I wanted to make something with it but I wasn't sure what.

Secondly, I have seen publicity online for the Special episode of Dr Who to be broadcast on New Year's Day.  Jodie Whittaker is wearing the most gorgeous scarf, it looks like it's made with some kind of fleece fabric, of course I prefer winter scarfs to be knitted or crocheted. The original was designed by Mark Smith in Nottingham, unsurprisingly, his on-line shop has sold out already!

You can see where I'm going with this ... 

In a perfect universe, there would be a teal in the Stylecraft Bellissima range but when I put my colour cards together, that's when I realised I was meant to crochet this scarf. Sugar Snap stands in magnificently and looks just great. All the same, if Cosmic Santa is reading, he could drop a hint to Stylecraft that the next colour in the Bellissima range should be teal. (And if  I'm not being too greedy, orange as well ...)

If Doctor Who discovers a ball of Bellissima Teal in the future, I hope she will use the Tardis to drop it off at my house about 5 nights ago, that would be much appreciated.

But anyway, here is my take on the scarf crocheted in the present. The list of the colours is noted below, in the order used, along with the number of rows of double crochet (treble crochet if you use US terms).

Bashful Blue - 12 rows (first row of which is a chainless foundation)
Double Denim - 3 rows
Bashful Blue - 3 rows
Sugar Snap (a replacement for the teal) - 3 rows
Overly Olive - 3 rows
Mellow Yellow - 6 rows
Rio Red - 3 rows
Raspberry Pink - 3
Crushed Plum - 3 rows
Rio Red- 3 rows

I used a 4mm hook which produced a gauge of 16.5 sts and 24 rows to 4 inches.

My scarf is 70 inches long (excluding fringe) which is 281 stitches to start with and 7.5 inches wide. 

On the first row after changing colours, every alternate stitch is worked into the row below to produce the spikes. 

To make the fringe, I wrapped yarn around the width of a paperback book 7 times, I then cut along one side only to give 7 strands about 13 inches long, folded in half I attached one for every three row using an overhand knot, forming a tassel and matching up the colour stripes.

The stray ends left over from your colour changes can be brought into the nearest individual tassel by inserting your hook through the bottom of the overhand knot, yarn over the hook and pull it through.

As you can see, the strands look slightly untidy, especially the Bashful Blue ones, they came from nearly the end of the ball and so are more kinked. To straighten the tassels, I steam ironed them on a cotton setting, using a dry tea towel between the tassel and the iron. I let the weight of the scarf dangle over the edge of the ironing board to hold the strands straight.

NB I do NOT recommend ironing the body of the scarf like this - only the tassels and then only if you're like me and prefer a straighter fringe.

After ironing the tassels, I cut off the bottom inch of the fringe to neaten the ends. The scarf does not require blocking.

It took me four evenings to make in all so if anyone else wants to make one, there's plenty if time to do it before the episode airs.

I used nearly all of the Bashful Blue, approximately 40g of Mellow Yellow and Rio Red and 20g of each of the rest of the colours. So the cost is just under £25 and I have all that spare yarn .... I reckon I can make a matching hat and fingerless mittens with the leftovers if I buy another ball of Bashful Blue. Watch this space for two more patterns in the New Year.

Any questions, don't hesitate to ask in the comments section.

If I'm not back before, I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. 


Sunday, 2 December 2018

Holey Suns crochet jar covers

I am pleased to publish another free crochet pattern, this one is for a lacy jar cover like the ones in the photograph above.

All instructions are written using U.K. crochet terms

Sizing Information

The basis of this jar cover is a the holey sun motif, full instructions and chart below. Each motif will come out at around 1.75 inches and needs to be slightly stretched to show itself to best advantage. Measure your jar around the circumference to see if it is appropriate for this design. In the photograph above, the motifs are stretched so they are a little under 2 inches wide. 

From left the circumferences and number of motifs used in the resoective jars illustrated are as follows:

Olive jar 300g (3 rings of six motifs), 297mm/11.75" circumference
Marmalade jar  (2 rings of 5 motifs), 227mm/9" circumference
Straight sided high ball glass (3 rings of 5 motifs) 225mm/9" circumference
Sharwoods Mango chutney jar 360g  (3 rings of 4 motifs), 200mm/7.75" circumference


2mm hook 

10-25g Lace weight cotton or linen thread, depending on the size of the jar. I used 3-ply linen on the example here in the tutorial but the ones in the photograph above were made with Scheepjes Sugar Rush or Scheepjes Bon Bon which is a cotton 2-ply. Rico's Creative Melange (Lace Weight) or Rico's Crochet Essentials would also work well.

Darning needle for weaving in ends

ch - chain
dc - double crochet
dtr - double treble
ttr - triple treble
dtr2tog - two dtr joined at the top, see special stitches section below
ttr3tog - two ttr joined at the top, see special stitches section below
st - stitch
ss - slip stitch
rs - right side
beg - beginning
sp - space
sps - spaces


Instructions on working dtr2tog 
yo twice, insert hook into previously worked st, yo, pull through st (4 loops on hook), (yo, pull through 2 loops) twice (2 loops on hook), yo twice, skip 1 st, insert hook in next st, yo, pull through st (5 loops on hook) yo, (pull through 2 loops) twice (3 loops on hook) yo, pull through 3 loops

Instructions on working ttr3tog 
yo 3 times, insert hook in top of dtr2tog, yo, pull loop through st, (5 loops on hook), (yo, pull loop through 2 loops) 3 times (2 loops on hook), yo 3 times, insert hook into ss, yo, pull loop through ss, (6 loops on hook), (yo, pull loop through 2 loops) 3 times (3 loops on hook), yo 3 times, insert hook into dtr2 tog, yo, pull loop through st, (7 loops on hook), (yo, pull loop through 2 loops)  3 times, (4 loops on hook), yo, pull loop through 4 loops


Round 1: Wrap yarn around index finger 5-6 times. Without removing the resultant ring, squeeze hook underneath the yarn wraps, yo, pull the loop down past the wraps, ch 1, pulling it as tight as you can to secure and remove from finger.  

24 dc into ring, ss into first dc (24 dcs)

Tip: it is easy to mistake the first ch as a dc, (the photograph below shows the correct place).

Do not turn (rs faces you throughout this project)

Round 2: ch 3, skip 1 st, dtr in next st (darning needle in the photo below indicates the place)

*5 ch, dtr2tog (instructions for working this stitch are in special stitches section above), repeat from * all round, working the final “leg” of the dtr2tog into the base of the ch 3 that this round started with, (photograph below indicates where this is)

5 ch, ss into top of dtr.

Cut yarn, leaving an end long enough to thread onto a needle to weave in later. Fasten off by pulling the end through the loop on your hook. You should have twelve "rays" (created by the dtr2togs) joined with twelve 5 ch spaces. Your motif should measure approximately one and three quarter inches (45mm).

SECOND MOTIF when working this motif, it is joined to the first motif during the second row

Work round 1 as per first motif

Work round 2 but stop after 4 “rays” have been created, ch 2,

holding yarn high out of the way, insert hook into any 5 ch string on first motif as indicated in above photograph, yo, pull through loop on hook (thereby working a ss), 2 ch, 

Turning your attention back to the second motif, dtr2tog, 2 ch 

ss into next 5 ch string on first motif as indicated in above photograph, 2 ch,  *dtr2tog, 5ch repeat from * completing the twelve rays by working the second "leg" of the final dtr2tog into the base of the 3 ch at the beg of the row (see photograph below) 

5ch, ss into top of dtr, cut yarn leaving a long enough tail to weave in later, fasten off, leaving a tail long enough to weave in later.


Join on more motifs until you have the total needed to go round the girth of the jar minus one (the final motif is joined in more places, see below for instructions). The motifs should be in a straight line, with four 5 ch spaces either side of the joins as below. 


Make and join another motif, stopping after this motif has ten rays. Fold the line of motifs in half and then identify the two 5ch spaces to join to using the picture below as a guide, there should be four 5ch spaces to the left and right of the two you need. Join in the manner established to the 5ch space on the right first and then the other. Fasten off. 

Try the ring of motifs out on your jar. It should be slightly stretched to give the best effect. Further rings of motifs will enhance the effect.

At this point, it’s a good idea to weave in the ends before starting on the next ring of motifs.


Make another motif in the now established manner stopping after you have 4 rays, ch2 and then join the motif in the manner established to four of the 5 ch spaces on the first ring in the order indicated below and then finish the motif. 


Make another motif in the method now established, stopping after four "rays", this time, join the motif to six of the 5 ch spaces on the first ring in the order indicated below.

When joining the last motif of the second round, you will need to join the motif to eight of the 5 ch spaces.

For medium sized jars, two rings of motifs may be enough but if you need another, repeat the instructions for the second ring. My 300g olive jar, required three rows.


Locate the uppermost two 5ch sps in any motif in the first ring (as indicated by the darning needles in the photograph below). 

Make a slipknot in your yarn, leaving a tail long enough to weave in later, insert hook in the 5ch sp on the right hand side, pull slipknot through, ch 1 (does not count as a stitch) pulling it quite tight, *dc in 5ch space, ch 3, dc in next 5 ch sp, ch 3, tr in the next 5ch sp, 3 ch, ttr3tog in the intersections indicated below (instructions for working ttr3tog are explained above in the special stitches section),

3 ch, tr in next 5 ch sp, 

3 ch, repeat from * all round, ss into top of first dc, do not fasten off.

The next three rows forms a rounded bottom for the jar so the jar cover won't slip off. 


For this row, we will be working into the top of stitches and ignoring all the 3 ch spaces, the darning needles in the photograph below indicates where to work

ch 3, skip 3 ch sp, dtr in st, * ch 2, dtr2tog, repeat from * all round. The row will look like a zig zag. 

Finish with 2 ch, ss into top of the dtr at the beginning of the row as indicated above.


Again working in sts and skipping the ch 2 sps as you did in the First Reducing Row, ch 3, skip 2 ch sp, dtr in st, * ch 1, dtr2tog, repeat all round. Finish with 1 ch, ss into top of dtr at beginning of row.


Working in sts and ignoring the 1 ch sps, ch 3, skip 1 ch sp, dtr in st, dtr2tog all round, finishing with ss into dtr at beginning of round. cut yarn and fasten off by pulling yarn through loop on the hook. weave in the end.

Try the jar cover onto your jar, it will now not slip off the botton of the jar.

To finish the jar off, we need to do the top now. Try the cover onto your jar again. As you can see from my photo above, the cover is about a centimeter below where the shoulder of the jar starts to curve in. This is exactly where I want it to be as it needs to be stretched a little to show the motifs off to their best. I am now ready to finish off the top. 

Once your cover is about a centimeter below the shoulder of the jar, repeat the Straightening Row.

NB If your cozy is still a little short from the shoulder, or your jar has straight sides work the First Reducing row but ch 3 (instead if 2) after each dtr2tog. This will give you a nice row of zig zags but without reducing the size of the round.

Repeat the First Reducing Row.

Try on the jar cover and assess whether the shoulder has been covered and you have reached the straight neck of the jar. The reducing row might make it slightly tricky to get on but once it is on, you can see it curves nicely around the shoulder pulling the rest of the cozy up and stretching the motifs.

From the photograph above, you can see my First Reducing row has only covered half of my jar's shoulders. I therefore repeated the First Reducing Row (NB not the Second Reducing Row) to reach the bottom of the neck of the jar. You may not need to do another row and can go straight to the finishing row(s) below.


ch 4, * dtr in 2 ch sp, 1 dtr in next st repeat from * all round finishing with dtr in final 2 ch sp, ss into top of beg 4 ch at the start of the round.


NB, If your jar has a small neck, you may not need to do this row and can jump straight to the next row. Try it on to check, mine needed a Second Finishing Row.
ch 4, dtr into every st all round, ending with ss into top of beg 4 ch at the start of the round.


ch 1, dc into same st, dc in next st, *ch 3, ss into first ch (forming a picot), dc in each of next 3 sts, repeat from * finishing with dc in final st(s), ss into first dc at beginning of round. Fasten off. Weave in all remaining ends. 

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Moving into the new craft room

My new craft room in the loft is nearly ready to move into. It’s been a busy few weeks trying to fit the decorating in amongst having a week’s holiday and keeping my bead shop stocked.

I hadn’t done any wallpapering for about twenty years but fortunately, I hadn’t forgotten.

There is a lot of work in the ceiling. It looked a bit like a sauna when the matchboarding was first fitted. I wanted a distressed look ... which takes more doing than you might realise. All the nail holes had to be filled and sanded (I had a power tool for that bit so it went quite quick).a A coat of antique pine wood dye got rid of the new timber colour, then a single coat of watered down emulsion. To make it look like it had naturally weathered off, those layers were then h.a.n.d. sanded.  I couldn't use the power tool for that bit as I had to go slow and steady and stop when it looked right. At this point, I was beginning to wish we'd just plastered the lot as it would've been much quicker to just put two coats of emulsion on it but finally it was sealed with two coats of clear satin varnish and I'm delighted with it. All the work removed my fingerprints, for a fortnight my iPad refused to recognise me unless I put my passcode in!

The bannister is being fitted today by the joiner as I type. We’re having floor to ceiling spindles rather than a short one with a handrail on top, as you can see, the staircase has an integral handrail so doesn’t need another. The tall spindles will be a bit of a design feature as well as stopping anyone falling down the side of the stairwell.

The electrician is coming on Monday to fit light fittings, socket and a small heater.


The contents of the craft room have been collected from storage and are in boxes in the spare bedroom.

Some self-assembly storage shelving thingees are also arriving next week but there seems to be far more boxes than I remember ... I’m hoping it will all fit!

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Happy halloween

Apologies to trick or treaters, a giant Pom Pom monster has eaten all the chocolate.

Happy Halloween anyway!