The problem with Rose

Have you ever felt excited about a crochet pattern, bought the perfect yarn, started crocheting and one week in you just feel kind of bleh about it?

I’m sure other people must loose interest in their crochet projects because something new comes along, but I’m not one to leave a project halfway for something else unless it’s something with a deadline (like a pattern for a magazine). That means that if I’m bored/frustrated/uninterested with a project it bugs me soooo much because I just can’t pack it up and get on with something else – I HAVE TO finish is, but at the same time, I can’t fully enjoy the new project, no matter how much more interesting it is, because the boring one haunts me.

The crochet project in question is the beautiful Rose top from Marie Wallin’s book Filigree.Rose crochet top Natasja King Instagram feed

I’m using a lovely blue King Cole Bamboo Cotton 4 ply yarn which is a joy to work with. I have the motif memorised and I know the Rose top will be very wearable. I really want to finish it so that I can wear it, but I just can’t “get stuck in”.  Do you know what I mean? I crochet a motif, I join it to the others and then I put it down and stare out the window. Or I make a cup of tea. I return to my spot on the couch and with a big sigh start the next motif. Two rounds in, I put it down and stare out the window. Or rearrange the flowers in the vase. Then I check my Instagram feed and think to myself “Should I take a photo of Rose? Nah. Can’t be bothered”. I pick up the half finished motif and do two more rounds, join it to the rest and…. stare out the window. This goes on for about 30 minutes and then I give it up until tomorrow. Or not. Sometimes I give it up until next week.

Can you see where I’m going with this? (At least something is going somewhere – unlike the progress on Rose!)

When I was making the CFK4 blanket (I gladly interrupted Rose for this very worthwhile cause) I was flying through the granny squares. Granny squares are a million times easier to make than the motif for Rose, so you would think I would have been bored. But I wasn’t. I was excited and driven. I had to decide which shade of blue to use and think really hard about it, because I was doing join-as-you-go, so if I didn’t like my colour choices, I was stuck with them. There was a lot to think about, but I loved making that blanket and finished it in three weeks!

Last week I bought a new Japanese crochet pattern book which arrived yesterday. Having paged through the book all I want to do now is figure out those diagrams and get started with a beautifully intricate crochet top. The challenges of reading a Japanese crochet diagram is super enjoyable for me. Even if I only use one colour (like I did for this one) I just can’t stop crocheting because the pattern is so interesting.

Now that I’ve written down my thoughts here I think I know now what the problem is with Rose: it’s not challenging enough. I need to play with colour, solve colour problems or figure out a tricky diagram to get me excited about crochet.

Knowing why I’m bored with Rose, still doesn’t solve my problem though. I desperately want to finish it so that I can wear it and get on to other Japanese-y crochet patterns, but I’m just not motivated.

I guess I’ll just have to suck it up, buckle down and get on with The Business Of Rose.

My blanket for Crochet For Kidneys Part 4

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We have one blanket for CFK4!

I just love granny squares! Just look at them!

I started the blanket on the weekend that I launched CFK4, and finished it yesterday. How super quick was that? Nothing beats a simple granny square for speedy blanket making or for a super fun time playing with colour combinations.

For the border, I used Border 138 from Around the Corner Crochet Borders book. It’s a striking border with a slightly raised ridge and very easy to do: just three rows of (UK) double trebles (US) trebles, but on the second and the third rounds you work around the posts of the stitches in the previous round from the back. If each round is done in a different colour – in my case turquoise, grey and finally navy – it gives an really interesting effect.

I don’t know about you about I always place my darkest shade at the very edge of my border. I think a dark colour on the outermost edge pulls everything together.

The nitty gritty of my Blue Crochet For Kidneys Part 4 blanket:

  • Pattern: Traditional 6-round granny square, the last round of which is a different colour, arranged as 9 rows of 7 squares per row.
  • Yarn: Various DK acrylic yarns in shades of blue and a silver grey
  • Hook: 4 mm
  • Joining method: My Rose Valley’s Join-as-you-go method.
  • Border: Border #138 from Around The Corner Crochet Borders
  • Finished size with border: 135 cm x 97 cm

I am relieved that I’ve done my blankety bit for CFK4. Even if no-one else sends me a blanket for the kidney dialysis patients I know there’ll be at least one that I can hand over to the nurses at the Royal London Hospital.

I’m going to make one more blanket like this, but in shades of pink. Wouldn’t that look nice?

Before I start the pink blanket though I think I want to finish my Marie Wallin Rose top first – especially as it looks like Summer has finally arrived in the UK. Warm sunny days are not the best time to work on a blanket!

If you’re working on a CFK4 blanket, thanks! If you haven’t started yet, maybe you could consider making a blanket – it’s a great way to use up your stash and you’re make a comforting blanket for someone going through very unpleasant kidney dialysis.

All the detail on Crochet For Kidneys Part 4 can be found in this blog post.

Crochet For Kidneys Part 4

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Today I’m launching Crochet For Kidneys Part 4!

Crochet For Kidneys has grown from seven blankets in Part 1 and 14 blankets in Part 2, to 17 blankets in Part 3.  We had purple squares with a white border in Part 1, hexagons with a white border in Part 2, and for Part 3 I asked you send me strips of six squares with white borders. The beautiful, lovingly made blankets were given to dialysis patients at the Royal London Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital.

This year I’d like you to send me BLANKETS please. By asking for blankets I lessen the work I have to do (no joining and crocheting borders), but I also give you the freedom to do whatever you like! No colour rules, no design rules – you are in charge of the look of your blanket for the dialysis patients! Squares, hexagons, stripes, chevrons – go wild!

CFK part 4 posterI only ask that the blankets be roughly 90 cm x 135 cm (35″ x 53″) – that’s about a lap afghan size. If you are making 15 cm squares like we did for Parts 1 and 3, that would be 54 squares arranged in 9 rows of 6 squares. If you are making 13 cm squares for instance, that would be 70 squares arranged in 10 rows of 7 squares. Use your judgement, but as long as the blanket comes out to roughly (but no smaller) than 90 cm x 135 cm (35″ x 53″) it will be perfect.

Just like before, please do not use wool as it may shrink or felt when the recipients wash their blankets on a too warm wash. Acrylics or cotton only please.

I would like to have all the blankets by Saturday 30 October 2015. I’m giving you five months to the deadline because I’m asking you to work a bit harder on your contributions, which will take up more of your time.

Please post photos of your blankets-in-the-making on the Facebook Group . If you’re not a member of the group, just ask to join and I’ll add you immediately.

Now that there are no rules for the colour or design of the blanket, I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with!

A modern take on a family heirloom

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My great-grandmother, Aggie Esterhuizen, was an amazing lady. I was 11 when she passed away at the age of 92.  She was a seamstress who made wedding dresses for all and sundry in Cape Town. My Mom told me she remembers Aggie laying out the huge pieces of white fabric on the floor and cutting the pieces for the wedding dresses without any pattern. I wish I could have seen that!

My few memories of her talent, is the tin of colourful buttons in her room and the white Anchor crochet thread me and my grandmother had to buy for her at OK Bazaars. My only memory of her actually crocheting is me sitting on the floor next to her chair while she crocheted a light yellow blanket with the blanket over her legs. It was  just so fascinating to me to see the blanket growing with a slight twist of her wrist and a crochet hook.

I’m absolutely convinced that Aggie influenced my love of crochet without me even knowing it. Just because I can only remember her crocheting one yellow blanket, doesn’t mean my tiny mind didn’t take in more than that, and I love her for that!

Just like she made wedding dresses without a pattern, she also crocheted without a pattern. When I was in Cape Town at the beginning of the year I spotted a beautifully made, intricate doily in the side board of my mom’s dining room. I just had to have it. Mom told me Aggie crocheted it without a pattern using the white Anchor crochet thread from OK Bazaars that I remember so well.  I’m not even sorry to say, but I just wouldn’t let that doily go – it just HAD to come back home to me. I wanted that little piece of Aggie as a reminder of her crochet talent that was passed down to me, to be in my home.

More than that, I want to give credit to my great-grandmother and her talents. She passed away before the internet, blogging or Instagram and here I am with access to all these things and a readership from all over the world – I decided I would write out Aggie’s doily pattern and make it available for free on my blog so that all can appreciate Aggie’s talents.

If you’ve been following the blog you would know that John and I recently moved into a new apartment. One of the big luxuries of this new apartment is that I have my very own bathroom. (Technically it’s the “family bathroom”, but we also have an en suite which John uses, so “family” became “Natasja”.) I can decorate my bathroom with as many girly things as I like, which is just fantastic! I love the t-shirt yarn doily style bathroom mats that I’ve been seeing on Pinterest, Ravelry and Facebook groups but I could never make one as it’s too girly for John.

Now that I have my own bathroom and a doilie from my great-grandmother, the obvious answer was to remake Aggie’s doily into a t-shirt yarn bathroom mat!

crochet bathroom mat

I love the huge loops around the edges of Aggie’s doily. They look just as good exaggerated with t-shirt yarn.

Aggie, I hope you like my version of your doilie. I didn’t do two rounds of the big loopy bits and I left out the beads. Two round of loops would have made the rug too big and the beads are impractical for a floor rug. From one hooker to another, I’m sure you’ll understand.

Aggie’s doily rug

Materials:

1 cone white Hoooked Zpagetti

1 cone blue mix Hoooked Zpagetti

12 mm crochet hook

Pattern:

With White chain 4 and join with sl st to first ch to form a ring.

Round 1: 1ch, 6sc in ring – 6 sts
Round 2: 1ch, 2sc in each st – 12 sts
Round 3: 1ch, *2sc, 1sc. Repeat from * to end – 18 sts
Round 4: 1ch, *2sc, 1sc, 1sc. Repeat from * to end – 24 sts. Fasten off White.
Round 5: Join Blue Mix to any sc. 3ch, 2dctog in same sc, skip 1sc, *3ch, 3dctog. Repeat from * to end. Ss to first ch. Fasten off Blue Mix.
Round 6: Join White. 4ch, 1sc in ch space. Repeat to second to last ch space. Ch2, 1dc in ch space.
Round 7: 5ch, 1sc in ch space. Sl st into dc.
Round 8: 5ch, 1hdc in ch space. Repeat to second to last ch space. Ch2, 1dc in ch space. Fasten off White.
Round 9: Join Blue Mix to any ch sp. 3ch (count as dc), 5dc in ch space, 1ch, *6dc in next ch sp, 1ch. Repeat from * to end. Sl st into top of 3ch – 84 dc. Fasten off Blue Mix.
Round 10: Join White. 7ch (count as hdc plus 5ch), *skip 2dc, hdc, 5ch. Repeat from * 25 times. Ch3, hdc into 2nd ch of starting chain.
Round 11: 5ch, hdc into ch space. Repeat 26 times. Ch3, hdc in hdc of previous round.
Round 12: 6ch, hdc in ch5 space. Repeat 26 times. Ch6, sl st into top of hdc. Fasten off White.
Round 13: Join Blue Mix to any ch6 space. 15ch, 1sc into ch space. Repeat 27 times. Sl st into first ch.
Round 14: 1ch, *7sc, 3ch, 7sc in ch space. Repeat from * to end. Fasten off Blue Mix.
Round 15: Join White to ch space. 1ch, *sc, 7ch, sc in ch space. Repeat from * to end. Sl st to first sc.
Round 16: 3ch (count as dc), 5dc in ch space, 1dc in sc, *6dc in ch space, 1dc in sc. Repeat from * to end. Sl st. to top of starting chain. Fasten off.

I don’t think Aggie could in her wildest dreams have imagined her dainty doily would be the inspiration behind a bathroom mat made with cut-offs from t-shirt fabric. “Goeie genugtig my kind!”

She also would never have dreamed of her doily pattern being made available to thousands of people from all around the globe though a thing called a blog 27 years after her death, by a great-granddaughter living in England. “Wat de dôner my kind!”

doilie and doily rug

But Aggie was up for anything and a very talented lady so I recon she would have been the first to grab a 12 mm crochet hook to design an even bigger and better rug. Then she would have started her own blog.

Old cushions get a bit of an edge

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When you’ve been crocheting as long as I have, you sometimes need to do a bit of maintenance on your crochet pieces. Luckily I haven’t had anything unravel or fall apart, but what I do suffer with is saggy cushions. They didn’t become saggy by themselves, no it’s mostly due to me grabbing the cushions at one corner, and thereby stretching them out of shape, when I take them off the bed. User error in other words. In my defence these cushions are about five years old and they are used daily…

The cushions in questions are my very first two crochet projects. It’s because of them that I made the Identity Crisis Blanket because who can have cushions without a matching throw?

Do you see the green square in the centre of the cushion below? That was the very first thing I ever crocheted, back in August 2009. That square is the result of an afternoon in front of YouTube with a library book at my side and lots of swearing (from me), comforting words (from John) and cups of tea. There is no way I will ever get rid of the cushion, so when it started to look exceedingly saggy (much like its owner’s bottom) I had to fix it.

All I needed was a plan, a ball of Parchment Stylecraft Special DK and a 4 mm crochet hook.

But first let me show you what I mean by a saggy cushion. Where my thumb is you can see the cushion inner if you look closely. That means there are about two rows of DC shells that don’t sit tight against the inner any more. Flabby and saggy indeed.

But my rescue plan worked! No more saggy cushions!

All it needed was a row of slip stitches around the posts of each DC in each shell, but going through to the corresponding DC post at the back at the same time. Between shells I worked a chain and on the corners I worked two chains.  It’s super easy but also super effective.

The light blue DC post you see below, is from the back of the cushion. So here you can see how I place my crochet hook to do a slip stitch over the post of the front and back DC stitch:

Three slip stitch made over the three DCs of the shell:

This is how it look at the back:
 

 Behold saggy cushions no more – in fact they now have A Bit Of An Edge.
 

The slip stitches on the front makes for a lovely detail which I like.

And in the back the stitches are almost hidden and all you see is the indentation.

So there you have it! If your cushions have stretched out of shape and are in need of restoration, give this method a go. I actually think the row of slip stitches finishes off the cushion so you may want do it on purpose for your next cushion – just make your cushion two rounds bigger than it needs to be, and add a round of slip stitches around the posts of the front and back DCs! The only down side is that you can’t have a cushion opening along a side, you would have to do an envelope style opening at the back.

Now if I can only sort out my saggy bottom, I’d be one happy lady.

Peppy Blossom Bunting in I Like Crochet magazine

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The latest issue of I Like Crochet electronic magazine is out now and it’s all about Summer. It’s difficult to imagine sunshine and warm weather when the temperature for the first official day of Spring in the UK was a mere 12 degrees, with heavy rain predicted for the Bank Holiday on Monday! Come rain, clouds or icy winds, the June issue with the bright colours and Summer themed designs, like the cute tote bag on the cover, is bound to get you in a Summer mood – or at least in the mood to bake a lemon meringue tart. A taste of Summer is just as good as the heat of Summer, right?

June issue

I’m also very happy to say that my Peppy Blossom Bunting is in this issue, helping you welcome in Summer.

The bunting is very colourful and not your average bunting – with the bright flower centre it just screams happiness.

Bunting is a great way to decorate any space, and this Peppy Blossom Bunting is the easiest way to add a vivid pop of color to your décor. Perfect for any summer party or gathering, you can easily add more or less flags to create just the size you’re after.

I love the styling of the bunting with the glass containers of colourful sweets.

Blossom bunting

Just like in the April issue when my clutch bags were used as the introductory page for the Springtime Accessories, the Preppy Blossom Bunting is the introductory photo for all the Household Trinkets in the table of contents! What a great compliment!

table of contents june i like crochet magazine

Do you see all the great patterns in this issue? It’s chock full! Two of my favourite patterns are the Deep Cut Moss Vest and the Vivid Coral Reef Top. The Deep Cut Moss Vest is for the advanced crocheter and uses Tunisian crochet and the Vivid Coral Reef Top is nice and easy, but so striking.

These patterns, and 29 others are available to subscribers only. A subscription to I Like Crochet include six issues annually, with each issue delivering at least 30 projects and 7 tutorials, for a total of 190 projects and 42 tutorials during the year. Subscription is available for website only, tablet only or for the greatest value and convenience, combine website access to with a tablet magazine subscription.

67 blankets for Nelson Mandela day

Natasja:

What an amazing achievement by the South African crocheters!

Originally posted on :

nelson mandela

67 blankets official logo

Well done South-Africa!

 67 blankets for Nelson Mandela Day has just set a new ‘Guinness book of world records’ for the world’s largest handmade blanket! The 3133 square meter blanket at the Union Buildings in Pretoria beats the old world record by more than 3 times.

aerial shot and quote

The BIG blanket is not only setting a new world record, but this winter 21000 underprivileged South Africans will be snug and warm under one of these handmade blankets, all in the name of Nelson Mandela.

peter morey collage

Cornel and Elsbeth went to see the BIG BLANKET and would love to share some of the blankets that caught their eyes.

They picked 67 blankets that they absolutely loved.

HERE THEY ARE:

67 blankets for Nelson Mandela67 blankets for Nelson Mandela67 blankets for Nelson Mandela67 blankets for Nelson Mandela67 blankets for Nelson Mandela67 blankets for Nelson Mandela67 blankets for Nelson Mandela

67 blankets for Nelson Mandela

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AND THIS IS THEIR TOP 3:

our favourites

May Nelson Mandela’s legacy of compassion, forgiveness, understanding and tolerance continue!

This is what South Africa is about.


NELSON IS PROUD by elsbeth eksteen at the union buildings 21 april

Please go here if you would like to know more about the 67 minutes concept…

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Feeling like myself again

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Today was such a good day. I took a day off work and spent it around my new apartment in Brentford.

The day started with a mini manicure and then a haircut at my new local salon, Hair and Beauty By The Lock. The salon is 5 minutes walk from the apartment (I can see it from my balcony – it’s on the ground floor of the building on the right. Next to it is an Italian pizzeria and opposite it a coffeeshop – both of which we still have to try out…). My stylist and manicurist were so good, and the experience so utterly relaxing, I soon forgot I was in TW8 – it felt more like SW8.

I was home again  in time to show our new cleaning lady around the flat. She may not speak English but there are few things you can’t explain with a point of the finger, “yes?”, “yes!” or a thumbs up. I’ve never seen bathroom taps as sparkling as mine is at the moment.

My biggest joy today was being able to crochet again. I lost my mojo a bit over the past few months but it’s all coming back.

Today I finished the front of a cushion for a British crochet magazine. It will be my first pattern to appear in a hold-in-your-hands-UK-magazine. I still have the back to do and the pattern to write up, but that’s easy and hopefully quick. It’s the front that was the most work, but oh so worth it!

Intrigued? Sorry readers, you’ll have to wait a few more months, but it’s going to be good! When the cushion is done I’ll be starting work on a New Year Party jewellery piece for I Like Crochet magazine. That one’s going to be a glittery affair. When that is done I want to make a doily rug for my bathroom, at least one project from Filigree and then the plan is to tackle my almost-lifelong ambition of crocheting a dress.

Yes, I think it’s safe to say I’ve got my crochet mojo back.

Six life changes

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You may have noticed that I haven’t been blogging as much recently. It’s not because I’ve fallen out of love with crochet or blogging (I could never do that!) it’s just that there have been many, many life changes that I had to focus on.

Around Christmas 2014 wheels were set in motion and it seems that those wheels are now spinning at Boy Racer speed.

Change 1: John was headhunted for a new (absolutely fantastic wildest-dreams-came-true job) just before Christmas and started that new job in February. The only drawback of this new job is that he has to drive to work for about a hour each way. Driving past two train stations and three schools every morning and evening is certainly not a fun commute for John! His old job was a mere 10 minute walk from home.

We decided that seeing as we can’t change where the new offices are, but we can change where we live in relation to those new offices, we will be moving. And anyway, the plan has always been that when we were able to afford a bigger property, we would move. Now, with John’s bigger salary and his new job right on the river and canals, why not just move to the area where he works?! As long as I’m close to a train station, I can get into London and I don’t mind the daily train journeys because I can read or crochet on the train.

John finding his dream job has lead to Change 2: selling our maisonette. Seeing as we will be moving to a new, unexplored area we thought it better to not to buy again, but rather rent – we want to get a feel for the new area first and when the London housing market have calmed down and prices have dropped, we will buy again.

We have very specific ideas of what we want from our new home: it has to be an apartment in a modern development, no garden to upkeep but with a balcony, underground parking, two bathrooms, two double bedrooms, lots of storage, a water view, quiet location, totally soundproof interior. These things are all exact opposites of what we had in Thames Ditton. Our biggest requirement is peace and quiet. I have no desire to know what the people upstairs are doing. We never again want to hear the people upstairs bathing the children, having rows, hear their washing machine on spin cycle, flushing of a loo, dad playing playstation or a 3-year old running around or banging toys. The good, no great, news is that we did find our dream apartment!

Change 3: We moved into a riverside development over Easter! The new apartment is just so fantastic and so perfect for us, I will dedicate a whole blog post to it once we are fully settled in.

The Island Brentford

John’s new job and us moving aren’t the only changes. Change 4: I’ve gone back to a 5-day week after having worked part-time for six months to cover a maternity leave role in the Banking department of the law firm where I work. It was my choice to return to a 5-day week earlier, after realising that the two days I was at home focussing on my crochet, was turning out to be more stressful than my legal PA job! I’m very grateful for having had the time at home to focus on my crochet because the end result of those six months is my electronic book Crochet Pretty.

Unfortunately (but what later turned out to be fortunately) when I decided that it was time to return to a 5-day week the HR department told me that I am signed into a fixed term year-long contract and had to stick it out for six more months. If I wanted to go back to a fulltime job I had to apply for a fulltime role internally or resign altogether. I was ready for a change so I did look into leaving the firm, but then a job opening appeared in the Wealth Management  department of the firm. The group sits on the same floor as I was sitting, but the work is different and the team much smaller. This was exactly what I was looking for! I wanted something new, but yet it was all very familiar.

Change 6: I applied, and got the job as Legal PA in Wealth. I just love saying “Wealth” when talking about my job! I’ve been working in Wealth since March.

Now that you know what’s been going on with the Kings since the start of the year, you’ll understand why crochet has been taking a back seat. For now that is…. my list of new things to crochet is growing by the day. Unsurprisingly, all the projects are focused around homeware. I want to make a doily style rug and two big baskets for our new home. At least. I also have to start and finish a cushion for a British crochet magazine before the end of April. Seeing as I had to pack up all my yarn and crochet things now, I won’t be starting those crochet projects until we’ve fully unpacked and settled in.

In the meantime I’ll try not to post too many “look how much stuff I have / where did I pack the crochet hook? / I’m so tired from carrying boxes” photos in Instagram, but you should be able get a good idea of what I’m up to over on Instagram. Living on the River Brent, there’s bound to be a surge of water views (get it?) in my Instagram feed. Expect “Here’s the view from the bedroom”, “Great view from the living room”, “Look! Swan!”.

After Easter I promise it will be blog business as usual on crocheTime.

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