Friday, 31 July 2009

Striped hot water bottle cover - crochet pattern

One of the good things about a cold winter's night is snuggling up in bed with a toasty warm hot water bottle. Of course, you need a good cover for your hottie so you can cuddle it without burning yourself. Here is an easy crochet pattern, worked in double crochet (US), which buttons at the bottom for ease of removal.

MATERIALS:
Slightly more than 2 50g balls of plain yarn (I had to join a 3rd ball just to do the last couple of rounds, annoyingly). I used a worsted weight, slightly lumpy chenille type yarn.
1 ball contrasting yarn for stripes (I used a variegated self striping yarn).
6 mm crochet hook
3 buttons, approx 1 inch across

ABBREVIATIONS:
ch = chain
dc = double crochet
dc 2 tog = double crochet 2 together (decrease).

PATTERN:
In colour A, ch 54, join to make ring.
Rnd 1: ch 3 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in each chain (54 dc)
Rnd 2: ch 3 (counts as 1 dc), *ch 1, skip next dc, 1 dc in next 9 dc* twice, ch 1, skip next dc, 1 dc in next 27 dc, join in 3rd ch.
Rnd 3: ch 3, 1 dc in each dc (1 dc in each ch 1 space) (54 dc)
Rnd 4: Join colour B.
You don't have to fasten off with colour A - just bring the yarn up the inside of the rows, to join on each time you change colour (see below).
Ch 3, 1 dc in each dc (54 dc)
Rnd 5: Join colour A. Ch 3, 1 d in each dc (54 dc)
Rounds 6 - 22: continue as for Round 5, alternating between 2 rounds of colour A and 1 round of colour B.
Rnd 23: Join colour A. ch 3, dc 2 tog in next 2 dc, dc in next 22 dc, dc 2 tog in next 2 dc twice, dc in next 23 dc, dc 2 tog in next 2 dc, join.
Rnd 24: ch 3, dc 2 tog, dc in next 20 dc, dc 2 tog twice, dc in next 21 dc, dc 2 tog, join.
Rnd 25: Join colour B. ch 3, dc 2 tog twice, dc in next 14 dc, dc 2 tog 4 times, dc in next 15 dc, dc 2 tog twice, join.
Rnd 26: Join colour A. ch 3, dc 2 tog twice, dc in next 10 dc, dc 2 tog 4 times, dc n next 11 dc, dc 2 tog twice, join.
Rnd 27: ch 3, dc 2 tog, dc in next 10 dc, dc 2 tog twice, dc in next 11 dc, dc 2 tog, join.
Rnd 28: Join colour B. ch 3, 1 dc in next 25 dc, join.
Rnd 29: Join colour A. ch 3, 2 dc in next dc, 1 dc in next 12 dc, 2 dc in next dc, 1 dc in next 11 dc, join.
Rnd 30: ch 3, 1 dc in next dc, 2 dc in next dc, 1 dc in next 13 dc, 2 dc in next dc, 1 dc in next 11 dc, join.
Rnd 31: Join colour B. ch 3, 1 dc in next 2 dc, 2 dc in next dc, 1 dc in next 14 dc, 2 d in next dc, 1 dc in next 11 dc, join.
Rnd 32: Join colour A. ch 3, 1 dc in next 3 dc, 2 dc in next dc, 1 dc in next 15 dc, 2 dc in next dc, 1 dc in next 11 dc, join. Fasten off.

Bringing the yarn up between each colour change.

FINISHING OFF:

Sew in all loose ends of yarn. Lay cover flat and align buttonholes so they are evenly placed along the bottom. With a fabric marker, make a mark through the buttonholes onto the back side. Stitch the buttons on securely - if neccessary, use a small dot of glue to hold the knot in place. You won't need to block this - but be aware that if you use a wool or wool blend yarn, the heat of the hot water bottle will probably felt it a bit.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Check out ma leeks!

I am officially stoked with my leeks. They aren't as fat as the supermarket ones, but check out those long white shanks! Beautiful, I say. I have about 40 growing, so even if you bought them on special at .99 cents, that's still $40 worth. Not bad... that will make me a few batches of leek and potato soup!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Weird Cat Behaviour #1

the first in an occasional series
Eating from the compost heap
Well, it's actually a pile of vege scraps ready to go on the compost heap. I kept coming out onto the porch to find them scattered everywhere, at first I blamed hedgehogs until I actually caught him in the act. I guess you have to sample everything - you never know where a little scrap of jellimeat might be hiding, after all!

Potato peelings - yum yum!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Finished embroidery

I finished another little embroidery square. This was a little doodle of Lui that I sketched on the linen with a wash-away marker. It was fun fillling it in and adding french knots here and there - I even improved upon my satin stitch!

I'm having visions of making a quilt - embroidered squares combined with plain squares of linen or cotton in matching hues. Hah - you know it will never happen! For one thing, I've never made a quilt before, and I'm quite turned off by the idea of having to measure and be precise and get everything exactly right. However, I'm enjoying playing on these little squares, so I'll continue with them. I'll just tell myself that I'm actually going to use them on something one day.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Peas in winter

I sowed some peas last month, just out of curiosity really to see what they would do. Well, they grew, and today I noticed some had actually outgrown their punnet. I put some into a pot and then, out of more curiosity, decided to plant some into the garden.

To protect from frost, I split some plastic bags and tied them over strings wound around stakes. This will hopefully give them some insulation and maybe even help them grow faster... if they don't just keel over like the arctic tomatoes in the glasshouse did (the ones inside are okay though).

I've got 2 kinds of peas - dwarf massey and carouby (sugar snap).

And look... a little head of purple cauliflower! Here's hoping it grows a bit bigger than my miniature brocoli did...

Friday, 10 July 2009

How to make embroidered jam jar covers

MATERIALS
Cotton or linen fabric - plain, and patterned
Stamp
Fabric ink pad
Embroidery floss
Hoop, needle and scissors
Fusible webbing
Wash-away marker
Round things to trace around (like bottles and dinner plates)

Trace around a small jar or bottle to make a circle on a piece of plain fabric. This is for the centre image, so you don't want it too big - mine were about 5 cm diameter. Either use a wash-away or fade-away marker, or use any marker and make sure you trim off the outline. Cut out the circle.

Cut a large circle from the patterned fabric (trace around a plate). Mine was about 18 cm diameter.

Stamp your design in the centre of the small circle, using a fabric ink pad. These usually require ironing to heat set. While you have the iron out, cut a piece of fusible webbing to fit the back of the circle and iron it on. Then iron the small circle in the centre of the large circle.

Put your fabric in a hoop and stitch around the edge of the small circle, using a matching or contrasting colour thread. I did one with running stitch and one with cross stitch, but you could use any embroidery stitch - even embroider tiny flowers and leaves.

Remove the fabric from the hoop. Trim the edges with pinking shears if desired, then put the cover on your jam jar. Hold in place with a rubber band and decorate with ribbons.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Embroidery floss epiphany

I need some embroidery thread for a project, so I go into my art room and grab the bag of floss. There is an exact shade of burgundy I am pretty sure is in there, and I need it quick, so I tip out the bag and reach out my hand -

- to be confronted with this.

A pretty selection of colours, to be sure, lovingly wrapped close about each other, twining and matting together. Some are still in their skeins, some are wound onto cardboard bobbins, some rolled into balls. Once I planned to wind them all onto bobbins and I cut multiple small pieces of cardboard. I got through about three skeins and realised: this is boring! And it will take forever. I shoved the leftover bobbins in the bag and resolved to do it while watching a really great dvd one day. Of course that day never came.

Back to the art room, and I am standing there, staring at my flossy mess and it suddenly occurs to me: I could put them in separate plastic bags! A little bird outside the window starts singing hallelujah, my heart lifts and I know my purpose in life. I grab a packet of small ziplock bags and start stuffing.

Skeins go in. Balls go in. Messy tangled bunches go in. If the skein wrapping has fallen off, it just goes in the bag too! If you have separated off four strands for embroidery and only used half, the rest just gets wound up and put in the bag too! No more little piles of half-used embroidery thread that you can't remember what skein it came off and they all gather up together and get tangled and eventually you just throw them out.

Then comes the fun part: colour theming! I put orange/yellow together, pink, red, brown, separate out all the different shades of green. All the colour groups go in their own larger ziplock bag. (but what would really be wonderful is an ornately carved wooden box, with lift out compartments, and each colour would have its own compartment...)

Done, with a sigh of satisfaction. (Seriously... it is winter here, long and cold, and I will take a little piece of happiness wherever I can find it!)

PS. I did eventually get on with my embroidery project - more on that in the next post.

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