Egg-gate

I ended my last post with the words “even I can manage an egg”. And really, how challenging can it be to produce a faceless vaguely oval shaped crochet object? As it turns out, for me, quite challenging.

The first challenge to overcome was pattern selection. This necessitated a good deal of time scouring Ravelry (for my non knitting crocheting readers, it’s a website containing hundreds of thousands of patterns for everything you’d ever want to knit or hook). The trouble with Ravelry is that it’s very easy to get distracted. You start with the best of intentions, type in the word “egg” and press the search button and before you realise what has happened, an hour has passed, you are perusing shawl patterns and are nowhere near having an egg pattern selected. So, I buckled down and eventually picked a pattern

Pattern selected, the next decision was yarn. Clearly, I don’t want to buy any more yarn just to crochet a couple of Easter eggs (although as excuses go, I’ve used some which have been much more feeble than this) so I looked in my stash. Some time later, I realised I’d been horribly distracted again, by squeezing and squishing all my beautiful colourful hand dyed yarn, and so eventually settled on 2 shades of Stylecraft Special DK, an acrylic which I don’t especially love but I have loads left over from a previous Attic 24 blanket obsession, and a hand-dyed yellow from Cuddlebums, which I’d been saving for some daffodil brooches but thought I could probably spare an egg’s worth.

So, on to the pattern. It assured me an egg would take about an hour to make, and it is true to say, the second and third ones were much quicker than that. The first one however took me the better part of an evening. It turns out that one of the reasons I’m not very good at amigurumi is that I can’t count. At least, not reliably, when there is good TV to watch.  

And counting, it turns out is the key to producing an object that looks at least a little bit like the pattern. About the first 10 attempts were frogged (translation for the benefit of non crafting folk: to unravel your work, or “rip it, rip it” back) or simply abandoned, when I decided that reusing yarn that had been previously crocheted wasn’t helping my cause.    

Eventually, and after a good deal of sighing, I did manage three egg shaped objects and I do have to say, I think they look really sweet. Now I’ve mastered (ahem!) the pattern, I may make some more but I think the Easter bunnies will need to wait until next year. However, I am now thinking surely all eggs need a nest? So, I’m off to have a scroll through Ravelry…. 

Have a happy Easter everyone xxx

Postie Stalking

It’s always the way isn’t it? You decide to do something, make a big announcement, get everyone enthused, then have to wait what feels like a small eternity for the things you need to get started, to arrive in the mail. This is the story of the dye I need for my blanket. I’ve spent hours of fidgety torture each day waiting for the postie to arrive only to be disappointed as he zooms past our house and up the lane in his van without giving my letterbox a second glance. So, in an effort to distract myself, I’ve been doing other things…

 come on postie 

It was a surprise to me when I realised it was Easter this weekend. This means two things 1. I will need to occupy my children for a month before they return to school again, and 2. I have, yet again, not produced any Easter related craft items. This happens to me every year with almost every event in the calendar. If I actually start something, the event usually overtakes me and well, it just feels weird making Easter bunnies after the event, even though they can be safely stored for decorations next year.

My children are five years old (I have twins) and I appreciate, in a few years (who am I kidding? Next year), the only thing they will be interested in will be the chocolate, but for the moment they are really keen on painted eggs and little birds to hang  up so I’ve focused  this week and found some contorted hazel sticks and have the very best of intentions to crochet some little eggs, which along with some hasty purchases in our local John Lewis and some other bits and pieces, should make us nicely festive. 

  
I am not, it should be pointed out, very accomplished at amigurumi (weird word so, for non crafters reading this, see here for an explanation). Most of the animals I make end up with slightly demented expressions. At Christmas, I crocheted the Toft robin and I had to make 5 separate legs in order to end up with two that could reasonably be called a pair. Needless to say, he is not finished (beak, eyes and assembly still outstanding). 

 It takes real skill which, like anything, can only be mastered with many hours patient practice. But not having many hours and Easter being only a couple of days away, it really will be best crochet hook forward and, surely, even I can manage a crochet egg?

Right. Let’s. Get. Started.

Right. Let’s. Get. Started.

I’ve been saying these words for months with the idea of writing about my crafting life, without actually doing it, so, here goes.

Deep breath.
<<<sounds of toes being dipped into water>>>

It seems only fair that I should start my crafting blog life with a new craft. Well, if not actually completely new, then almost new. About a year ago, on a spur of the moment whim type thingy that I’m prone to, I signed up to and went on a yarn dyeing retreat run by Daisy at Devon Sun Yarns. I mostly did it so I could escape my children for the weekend and it was with some nervousness that I knocked on the door of the Arched House in Lyme Regis on a Friday evening and said hello to a group of women who have forever changed my life.

preparing to dye

It’s fair to say I’ve always been a crafter. I loved art at school and my mum taught me to knit when I was very small. But I’d mostly always done it in what felt like a crafting desert. A 20 year corporate career followed by a move to a commuter village and then twin babies, didn’t leave a huge amount of space for social crafting, so, apart from a brief foray into a quilting group, at which I always arrived late, in a suit and with my mind still on work, I’d never spent any real time with crafting folk.

So, the ladies I met on the retreat were, in every sense, a revelation. Their creativity astounded me (and still does) but what struck me most was their generosity of spirit and willingness to share their time and themselves. And I realised then how wonderful it is to share your crafting experiences with others. There is as much pleasure to be taken from sharing your love of a craft as actually undertaking the making.

crochet hooks made with Kuritumi

I came away from the retreat with lovely new friends, in a state of complete serenity (this might not have been entirely a good thing however, as the morning after the retreat ended, I managed to lose my mobile phone and lock myself out of my house!) and with a good understanding of the basics of yarn dying. I enjoyed it so much that I’ve been back to one of Daisy’s yarn dyeing workshops at the fabulous destination yarn store, A Yarn Story, in Bath (if you are ever in the area, you must visit), and on a crochet retreat with Daisy and Dedri Uys the lady behind the lovely blog Look At What I Made. My last trip to Lyme was on an Inspire a Retreat, again with Daisy, one of the results of which is this blog.

Given how much I enjoyed it, it is surprising that the one thing I haven’t done at home since that first retreat, is dye any yarn. Over the Christmas holidays I was really enthused with the idea of a temperature blanket where you record the maximum and minimum temperature in a row or square of a blanket, so the colour of your eventual blanket is driven by the weather. But I just don’t have the time for a daily row or square (besides which, I calculated this would make my blanket about 15 feet long) so I came up with the idea of doing a row for the maximum and minimum temperatures each week, with an extra row for the rare events of snow and thunderstorms. This would make the blanket a much more reasonable length. But my house really doesn’t need another crochet blanket. But I really wanted to do this. Then I hit upon an idea. I could dye my own colours for the blanket, then it would be really special to me. And this made the idea of yet another blanket, completely acceptable.

 

image

So, here I sit, with coffee, fear and trepidation, looking at 10 skeins of un-dyed super wash merino bamboo mix supplied by Daisy and wondering which colours I need to dye for my temperature ranges. I’m telling you this so I don’t wimp out and pop the skeins back in my stash. You are my conscience. I will now have to keep you posted.