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.

My crochet clutch bags in I Like Crochet magazine

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It’s March, which means Spring for us in the Northern Hemisphere. Yeah! Everywhere I’m seeing daffodils, the sky is blue and the days are noticeably longer. Triple Yeah! The Spring issue of the electronic magazine, I Like Crochet  is also available for download today.  Don’t you just love the very Spring-y cover of the April 2015 issue? I Like Crochet April 2015 coverThere are more than 30 patterns in this issue. Check out the Table of Contents here. I’m especially excited to tell you about this month’s I Like Crochet e-magazine because my Vintage Granny clutch bags appear in this issue! The bags were also chosen to be the introductory photo for all the Spring Accessories! I’m so happy!!! Springtime accessories cover Two of the other projects in this issue that I really like are the Retro Flower Cushion by Jo Bodley and Easy Homemade Organizers by Pauline Fitzpatrick. The organizers are definitely on my to do list! I especially love the grey one. Jo’s cushion is truly something different. It’s lovely to see a crochet cushion this artsy and unique.

These patterns, and 27 more, are available to subscribers only. A subscription to I Like Crochet include six issues annually, with each issue delivering 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.

I’m very grateful to I Like Crochet for publishing my clutch bag patterns. It’s a great electronic magazine with beautiful photography, which I’m proud to be associated with. If you have bought this issue, and especially if you make one of my Vintage Granny clutches, I’d love to hear from you!

The problem with buying yarn online

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Like most of you, I do love my online yarn shopping. It’s convenient, the websites are very user-friendly, delivery is usually fast, online yarn shops regular send out great voucher codes and best of all you can do it from the comfort of our home.

This morning I decided to buy the yarn for one of the beautiful crochet and knitting tops in Marie Wallin’s latest book Filigree. She used Rowan 4-ply Summerlite so I thought I’d do the same. No substituting, no worry about getting the gauge right – all I had to do was decide what colour I want to use for Anemone.

I have two favourite online yarn shops: Deramores and Loveknitting, so that’s where I pointed my mouse, expecting to only have to compare the prices of their Rowan Summerlite.

Oh dear.  This was not going to be as easy as I thought. The shades of Rowan Summerlite on these two sites might as well have been two different brands, they were so different. The Pinched Pink shade immediately stood out for me, but for the wrong reasons.

On the Deramores site, this is what I saw. Pinched Pink is the colour in the big square. It looks like a muted orange-pink:

Rowan Pinched Pink Deramores

Here is Loveknitting‘s version of Rowan Summerlites shades with Pinched Pink as the main colour.  It looks fuchsia pink. Can this be the same yarn? Can it be the same shade? Apparently it is.  After reading this blogpost, Loveknitting have corrected the photographs they had on their website.

Rowan Pinched Pink Loveknitting

The correct shades are now showing on Loveknitting.com and they left a comment on this blogpost.

Loveknitting Rowan summerlite

On Rowan’s own website this is what Pinched Pink looks like. This is much more of what I would have expected from a Rowan shade: muted and soft. Not even close to how Deramores or Loveknitting has photographed the shade:

Rowan Pinched Pink Rowan website

I know we have to take into consideration computer resolution when looking at colours on a website, but I’m looking at these three website on my one laptop, so the differences are not in my screen resolution, it’s in the way the websites photographed the yarn.

I’m hesitant to make any colour decisions now that I’ve seen this. I was leaning towards Periwinkle or High Tide, but how can I be sure of what I’ll be getting? Go look for yourself the differences in High Tide on these three website. It’s quite shocking.

What would you do in this situation? It’s probably safest to use the Rowan colour chart to make my decision on what shade to buy. Or do it the old-fashioned way and just go to a bricks and mortar yarn shop.

Have you ever bought yarn online expecting one shade, only to find it looking totally different when it arrived?

Serina crochet top ta-daaah

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Long time no bloggy! Sorry I’ve been so quiet dear readers, but I was on holiday with my family in Cape Town. I met up with dear friends, met Instagram friends in person (that’s you @redheadmom23 and @Liezelvs) and made amazingly creative and lovely new friends (that’s you Ella and Ananda). Huge shout-out to the girls of the Hekel Innie Kaap Facebook group. (“Hekel Innie Kaap” means “Crochet In Cape Town”). Have a peek at their January meet-up photo album to see what I experienced – 50 crocheting Afrikaans-speaking ladies all in one restaurant! Cape Town is filled with extremely creative crocheters who love sharing their inspiration and knowledge, and enjoying coming together to crochet. People after my own heart. (I say “come together to crochet” but I only managed to crochet one row of DC in the four hours I was at the meet-up. Talking about crochet is just as good as crocheting right?)

While I was in Cape Town I of course did a bit of crochet. I worked on the Convergence top (it’s half way done!) and finished one sleeve of this crochet top. I ran out of Vinnis Serina Bamboo yarn just before I left for Cape Town. I left the front piece, back piece and one sleeve in the UK, bought the extra yarn and finished the second sleeve while I was there. Yesterday I sewed all the pieces together and today I wore my top. I was positively glowing with pride. I just love it!

Drops Design crochet top

I am over the moon with this pattern and the Vinnis Serina yarn!

Drops Design crochet top

As I mentioned in this blog post, Drops Design Collection 136 contains the most beautiful collection of crochet pieces for me. I already made Whispers and Country Dreams, and now pattern 136-23 “Blues” Jumper is my third and I have to say, it’s my favourite. The pattern was easy to follow and it works up really quickly. The square motifs are done quickly “join as you go” and they make up almost half of the top. For me it went even quicker because I didn’t have any colour changes. Not that I needed colour changes to make my top interesting – look at the subtle marbling from the hand dyed yarn. Isn’t it amazing?!

Drops Design crochet top

As for the Vinnis Serina bamboo yarn – oh my word. So super soft! I am aware though that the yarn has a tendency to sag a bit after a few hours of wear. There is no cotton in this yarn that will help it keep its shape; it’s just 100% bamboo. That makes for a super lustre and lovely drape, but it can become “floppy”. To compensate for this, I made my top in Size M, even though my measurements are for a size L. It worked like a charm. The top fits beautifully and even if it does stretch a bit during the day, I’m not going to look like a bag lady by the end of the day.

Drops Design crochet top

Drops Design crochet top

The nitty gritty of my Serina Top:

  • Pattern: Drops Design pattern 136-23 “Blues” Jumper
  • YarnVinnis Serina 4-ply bamboo in shade 631 Turquoise Green
  • Amount of yarn used: 12 x 50g balls
  • Size made: M
  • Crochet hook: 3.5 mm for the sleeves & squares and 3 mm for the body
  • Modifications: An extra row of SC around the neck before doing the edging. Also using a larger size crochet hook for the sleeves as I know from previous experience that Drops Design sleeves tend to be a bit tight for me.

Drops Design crochet top

I have a few crochet wearables that I don’t really want to wear outside the house, but this one is definitely not one of those. If you’ve never tried crocheting a wearable piece, give this pattern a try. It’s a winner!

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