Wednesday, 17 January 2018

My creative January so far ...

Hello and Happy New Year! My first blog post of the year is all about my creative adventure so far this month and a look ahead at the ideas I have for the rest of the year. Firstly, I have renewed my commitment to bullet journaling with a shiny new notebook from Paperchase. So far, it's going really well and I have had lots of hand lettering and layout practice. The size of this notebook is 26cm x 20cm which is almost twice the size of my previous one and I am finding the extra space brilliant for jotting down more ideas and giving more room for my weekly Bible quotes. Of course it hasn't all gone smoothly - I spent an hour on some lovely lettering for my "January 2018" title page only to discover as I stood back to admire it that I had stupidly titled it 2017!! However, I fixed it in a creative way, allowing this to be the start of many errors because if I sought 100% perfection I would never put pen to paper in the first place!

going with the flow!

Here's another photo showing my weekly spread at the end of Week 1. I have also been sharing lots of photos over on Instagram and adding the ideas which work best to my Pinterest board. If you want to find out more about the bullet journaling craze, check out this video.

bullet journal, Week 1

I have been doing lots of crocheting too of course! I began the year by finishing a pair of socks that I began on Boxing Day. They were a stash busting project, following Joanne Scrace's Mamble Socks pattern. I found it a really relaxing pattern to follow, perfect to crochet along whilst watching family movies! I finished them last week and they fit my youngest son's fast growing feet (he's currently a UK 11 and they're not stopping there so I have allowed for some growth room).

my stripy Mamble Socks

My next crochet project was a continuation with many of the 4ply colours from the socks. I decided to make a doll from Kerry Lord's Edward's Crochet Doll Emporium book - a book I have had on my shelf since October but not made anything from. My first doll is for my very best friend Gwen and I am trying to make it look like her!

crochet work in progress (WIP)

The third crochet project of the year is a new design - a filet crochet shawl, crocheted in Koigu Mori a 50% merino/ 50% mulberry silk 4ply yarn. This yarn is one of the smoothest, softest yarns I have ever squished and I can't wait to share more of this project in a future email. If you haven't come across Koigu yarn before check out their website for an absoloute feast for the eyes!

new shawl design underway

So, after a good start to the year, I have lots of plans to continue my creative journey - a new crochet pattern to be released once a month, more bullet journaling - possibly with printables for downloading, maybe even crochet workshops and plenty of blog updates!

Until next time,

Marta xx









Friday, 29 December 2017

Free Crochet Pattern: Cosy Icicles Beanie

Hello! As promised I am back with my 3rd pattern release in a row - this time my Cosy icicles Beanie! I designed this slouchie hat for Crate Crochet, an australian crochet subscription box company, for their May 2017 box (timed for the southern hemisphere's winter). As well as being available in my Ravelry Store to download as a FREE pdf, I am going to publish the pattern right here in this blog post ...


Cosy Icicles
Slouchy Beanie Hat Crochet Pattern

A two colour slouchy beanie hat, crocheted in the round using
a mix of double crochet stitches and spike stitches. I have
chosen Morris & Sons Empire for this design firstly because it
is soft and gentle against the skin and secondly because it
gives excellent stitch definition for the spike stitches. The hat
is worked from the brim to the crown and finished off elegantly
with a faux fur pompom.

This is an INTERMEDIATE level pattern, written in UK terms.

You will need ...
3 x 50g balls of Morris & Sons Empire, (a 10ply merino, 90m/ 50g) in the
following colours;
Kingfisher x2 (colour A) and Glass x1 (colour B)
faux fur pompom
thread for attaching pompom
5.5mm crochet hook
large needle for sewing in ends
sewing needle for attaching pompom
stitch marker or scrap yarn to keep track of rounds

You can buy Morris and Sons yarn here directly from their yarn store and it's
currently on sale!

Tension
17 stitches x 20 rows per 10cm  (main pattern, in rounds)

Finished Size
Brim circumference; 54cm
Length (excluding pompom); 27cm

Abbreviations (UK terms)
ch chain
ss slip stitch
dc double crochet
dcSp double crochet spike (see notes)
dcBrim double crochet into brim (see notes)
dc2tog double crochet 2 stitches together
dec decrease
inc increase
cont continue
st stitch
beg beginning
rep repeat

Notes
Spike stitches are like long double crochet stitches: in this pattern, instead of
working into the stitch in the row below work into the stitch 2 rows below. Here
is a link to an excellent photo tutorial if you are new to this technique
https://www.craftsy.com/blog/2013/10/crochet-spike-stitch-tutorial/

The spike stitches in Round 3 (dcBrim) is worked right around the brim of the
hat; bring hook from front to the back under the brim of the hat: yarn over, pull
yarn up a loop to the height of the new round (2 loops on hook), insert hook
into dc stitch, yarn over, pull up a loop (3 loops on hook), yarn over, pull
through all 3 stitches. 1dcBrim made. Top tip: It is important to keep a very
even tension throughout this round to create a smooth effect on the brim, do
not attempt this section if you are stressed out or distracted!

Invisible decreases are an excellent way to decrease in crochet. In the pattern
where I have indicated dc2tog: insert hook through front loop only (flo) of 1st
stitch to be decreased (2 loops on hook), do not yarn over, insert hook through
flo of 2nd stitch to be decreased (3 loops on hook), yo, pull through 2 loops
(2 loops left on hook) yo, pull through both loops. 1 invisible decrease made.
If you are new to crochet and want to keep things simple, dc2tog in the standard
way. Here is a link to a blog post with a photo tutorial - it uses the US term single
crochet to describe the UK double crochet stitch but the photos are so clear this
should not matter. http://www.allaboutami.com/invisibledecrease/

It may help to have a stitch marker or contrasting length of wool to mark the
beginning of each round.

Top tip: when changing yarn colours there is no need to cut the yarn, simply

carry it up on the inside for when it’s next required, ensuring that it is neither too
tight, or too slack to keep the tension even. I do however recommend cutting
yarn B at the end of Round 21 before the larger block of colour, it’s a bit too long
to carry up.


Pattern

Using A, ch 81, ss into first ch to form large ring (top tip: make sure it is not twisted!)

Round 1  ch1, 1dc into next ch, 1dc in each ch across, ss into ch1 at beg of round (80dc)

Round 2  ch1, 1dc into each dc around, then changing to B, ss into ch1 at beg of round

Round 3 (cont B) ch1, *1dc in next dc, 1dcBrim working over next st and round brim* rep from * to * until end of round, ss into ch1 at beg of round

Round 4 ch1, 1dc into each dc around, ss into ch1 at beg of round  
Round 5  ch1, 1dc into each dc around, then changing to A, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 6 (cont A) ch1, *1dc in next dc, 1dcSp in next dc in Round 4* rep from * to * until end of round, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 7 (inc) ch1, *1dc in each of next 3dc, 2dc in next dc* rep from * to * until end of round, ss into ch1 at beg of round  (100dc)
Round 8 - 9 ch1, 1dc into each dc around, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 10 ch1, 1dc into each dc around, then changing to B, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 11 (cont B) ch1, *1dcSp in next dc in Round 9, 1dc in next dc* rep from * to * until end of round, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 12  ch1, 1dc into each dc around, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 13  ch1, 1dc into each dc around, then changing to A, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 14 (cont A) ch1, *1dc in next dc, 1dcSp in next dc in Round 12* rep from * to * until end of round, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 15 - 17 ch1, 1dc into each dc around, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 18 ch1, 1dc into each dc around, then changing to B, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 19 (cont B) ch1, *1dcSp in next dc in Round 17, 1dc in next dc* rep from * to * until end of Round, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Rounds 20 ch1, 1dc into each dc around, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 21 ch1, 1dc into each dc around, then changing to A, ss into ch1 at beg of round. Cut yarn B
Round 22 (cont A) ch1, *1dc in next dc, 1dcSp in next dc in Round 20* rep from * to * until end of round, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Rounds 23 - 35 ch1, 1dc into each dc around, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 36  ch1, 1dc into each dc around, then changing to B, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 37 (cont B) ch1, *1dcSp in next dc in Round 35, 1dc in next dc* rep from * to * until end of round, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 38 (dec) ch1, (1dc in each of next 8dc, dc2tog) 10 times, ss into ch1 at beg of round (90dc)
Round 39 ch1, 1dc into each dc around, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 40 (dec) ch1, (1dc in each of next 7dc, dc2tog) 10 times, ss into ch1 at beg of round (80dc)
Round 41 ch1, 1dc into each dc around, then changing to A, ss into ch1 at beg of
round
Round 42 (cont A) ch1, *1dc in next dc, 1dcSp in next dc in Round 40* rep from * to * until end of round, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 43 (dec) ch1, (1dc in each of next 6dc, dc2tog) 10 times, ss into ch1 at beg of round (70dc)
Round 44 ch1, 1dc into each dc around, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 45 (dec) ch1, (1dc in next 5dc, dc2tog) 10 times, ss into ch1 at beg of round (60dc)
Round 46 ch1, 1dc into each dc around, ss into ch1 at beg of round
Round 47 (dec) ch1, (1dc in next 4dc, dc2tog) 10 times, ss into ch1 at beg of round (50dc)
Round 48 (dec) ch1, (1dc in next 3dc, dc2tog) 10 times, ss into ch1 at beg of round (40dc)
Round 49 (dec) ch1, (1dc in next 2dc, dc2tog) 10 times, ss into ch1 at beg of round (30dc)
Round 50 (dec) ch1, (1dc in next dc, dc2tog) 10 times, ss into ch1 at beg of round (20dc)
Round 51 (dec) ch1, dc2tog until end of Round, ss into ch1 at beg of round (10dc)
Cut yarn, leaving a 15cm tail. Thread yarn on tapestry needle, weave through each of the 10dc of last round, pull to close gap, finish off to secure on the inside of hat.

Finishing off
Weave ends in on reverse. Using sewing thread attach faux fur pompom securely.



I do hope you enjoy following this pattern. Please share your projects with me on Ravelry or on Instagram (add the hashtag #mrsdaftspaniel and I will be sure to see it).

Happy hooking,

Marta xx



Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Pattern Release: Lark's Knot Scarf

Hello! I have released another crocheted scarf pattern - my Lark's Knot Scarf! I designed this scarf using Queen of Purls Citadel DK which is a beautifully hand dyed, Blue Faced Leicester yarn. I fell in love with the colours when I visited the  Queen of Purls shop in Glasgow, which you can read all about in one of my july blog posts here.

detail of the tassles on the Lark's Knot Scarf

The name of my latest design is inspired by the lark’s head knot which I used in the tassels for the ends. I was a Girl Guide when I was younger and my dad was in the Royal Naval reserves, so I have always taken great pride in learning and knowing my knots!

the scarf together with its inspiration

This is an easy crochet pattern to follow, requiring only a few stitches and it works up quickly - an achievable project for the weekend! I have included an easy-to-follow chart too, which will really help anyone who prefers visual instructions. The pattern is available in US and UK terms, simply select the correct version for you at the time of purchase.

I chose 2 striking colours to show off the simplicity of the stitch pattern

So, this pattern is now available alongside my other patterns, in my Ravelry store - and hurry! - because it's on special offer at half price for 1 week only!!

I have one more pattern to release before the year is out and I have lots of ideas chugging away for the New Year which I can't wait to share with you!

Happy hooking,

Marta xx

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Pattern Release; Fields of Lavender Cardigan

Hello! I am super excited to be ready to release my Fields of Lavender Cardigan crochet pattern today!! This pattern is possibly my favourite of all the patterns I have designed so far and I am really pleased to be able to share it with you at last!

cover photo for my Fields of Lavender Cardigan

The pattern includes two sizes; 3-6 months and 6-12 months, it is suitable for intermediate crocheters and it's written in UK terms throughout. The intricate lavender stalks may look like a complex design but I can assure you, they are not as tricky as they look to create!

I chose King Cole merino blend DK for this design for two reasons, firstly it's a superwash wool (a must for baby garments) and secondly because the finished cardigan will be really warm and snuggly for the little one. You will need 3x 50g balls for the smaller size and 4x 50g balls for the larger size.


cuff and waistband detail

The garment is constructed from the waist up, splitting into 3 sections at the armpit and then the sleeves are crocheted seperately before being sewn up and sewn into position.


the lavender stalks

The pattern is currently available as a pdf download from my Ravelry store and for the first week it will be on special offer for only £1.80. If you would like to purchase and download a copy you can find it here.

back of the cardigan

Look out for more pattern releases coming very soon - I have another winter project for you in the next week or so ...

Until then,

happy hooking,

Marta xx

Friday, 10 November 2017

Back to School Sweater CAL - my cardigan


Hello! Following on from last week's Back to School Sweater CAL blog hop post by Fay (www.knitit-hookit-craftit.com) it's time for me to share my own cardigan journey. Like most of the CAL participants, I had carefully chosen my yarn, swatched to check tension and was eager to start on the morning of Saturday 16th of September - I crocheted at full speed for a big chunk of the day, everything was going well!

my swatch and colour choices

progress at the end of day 1

I had chosen to follow one of my own patterns - Summer Yoke Cardigan - and give it a winter twist. The first big change was to substitute the summery cotton for cosy alpaca yarn. I chose Eden Cottage Yarns in Whitfell DK - a 100% baby alpaca yarn - and I ordered it directly online (NB. this yarn is currently in the sale as it is going to be discontinued, go grab a bargain while you can!).

this photo © Inside Crochet Magazine
my original Summer Yoke Cardigan design

The pattern begins with a plain yoke and then the pop of colour begins! I deliberately chose a muted, neutral shade for the main colour to really give the other colours a chance to dance and shine!

I love this stage of the making process, when the yoke looks like a rainbow!

Everything was straight forward and went as I expected at this stage. Apart from the yarn, the only other real change I had made was to follow the instructions for small instead of medium because I wanted a much tighter fitting cardigan for the winter. I used a 3.25mm Knit Pro crochet hook to keep the stitches small and neat too.

progress photo

I added 3 more rows of yoke pattern to this version, simply because I felt like it! The next section, from the end of the patterned yoke to the sleeve split was tricky! I spent about a week crocheting, frogging*, crocheting, frogging! The brilliant thing about being part of a CAL was that I wasn't alone; lots of people were unravelling at this stage! 

*frogging: term used in knitting and crochet to describe rows of stitches being ripped out - rip it, rip it - like a frog!

starting the sleeves

The best thing about top-down crochet designs is the fact that you can try them on as you work. In this way I was able to get the fit exactly as I wanted it. Once I positioned the sleeve split exactly in the right place, I began to work 1 ball at a time on a rotation basis; sleeve, body, body, sleeve, body, body etc. In this way I could work evenly across the sections and the garment grew in a harmonious way.

finished sleeves and cuffs

Before I knew it I had reached my desired sleeve length and it was time to think about how to finish at the cuff (my original pattern had 3/4 length sleeves and simply a band of contrast colour to finish). This cardigan was for me and I like snug, draught excluding cuffs on a cosy cardigan so I began with a round of contrast stitches, then a round of half trebles before adding 4 rounds of ribbed crochet cables. 

choosing the perfect button!

Shortly after I finished the sleeves, the main body section was finished too (hoorah! no more plain stitches!). I wanted to make the most of the pretty yarn so I added 4 rows of pattern to the hem before commencing the button band. The button band - the home stretch! Almost finished! Or so I thought ...

... actually the button band itself was ok, it was when I made the decision to add a colar to finish the neckline that it all went a bit pear shaped!

1st collar attempt

The trouble was that the extra height from the button band with a collar worked into it sat too high around my neck and dragged the whole cardigan out of shape. It was not how I had pictured it in my ahead at all. It was at this point that I threw the cardigan on the naughty step and didn't even look at it for a few weeks! During this time I did think about how to solve the problem - often at unexpected moments new ideas would come and go until suddenly it all became clear, I had a new plan! Sadly, this plan involved more frogging, lots of frogging! The entire button band needed to come out, 75g worth of wool in tiny little seed stitch ...

final colar design

The new button band stopped at the neckline, allowing me to work directly into the original chain of stitches at the very beginning of the cardigan. I followed the same increase pattern as the yoke whilst decreasing at either end to create a softer, rounder effect. To finish off I used a row crab stitches (my current fave stitch!). I like the new colar design in the main colour of the cardigan because it focuses all the attention on the pretty yoke.

first photo shoot

my finished Back to School Sweater!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Helen (makingatnumber14.blogspot.co.uk) and Tamara (www.craftyescapism.com) for hosting this CAL - it's been such fun to take part in and to watch other people's sweaters grow and take shape online! Next week Helen and Tamara are going to be sharing a celebration of everyone's making - I can't wait to find out more about it!

Happy hooking,

Marta xx