Saturday, 1 March 2014

Granny Striped Hot Water Bottle Cosy - Free Pattern

I didn't quite believe how reminiscent it would make me feel having a hot water bottle back in my life! It's just not an object that I thought held any real memories, but it has evoked such recollections of when I was a child holidaying in Germany (where we lived at the time) and camping along the River Rhine or Mosel and my mum would pop a hot water bottle into our sleeping bags before me and my sister went to bed to warm it up.  Just the smell is enough to bring flashbacks of that time, they are very vivid!! Also of the time when I slept at my grandparents house. It was many many years ago and sadly they have both now passed, but at the time, they had no central heating except a 4 bar electric fire in the living room. Going to bed at night involved a mad dash up the stairs and into bed because it was so cold, but grandma had always remembered to add a hot water bottle, wrapped in a small towel at the bottom of the bed to keep my feet toastie. Such precious thoughts I had forgotten all about until now, so it has been a lovely experience making up these adorable, candy striped cosy's.

To start, it is basically made using a Granny Stripe, you can either follow my instructions or look for a pattern you already know and love. For my own Granny Striped Blanket I used the pattern from Attic24, but any pattern will do, it's up to you. 

Here is how I did it.

You will need:
UK size 4 hook
Yarn stash (I used DK, 4ply, chunky, acrylic, wool, in fact what ever I had left over from past projects) 
Darning needle
1 Hot Water Bottle (I used a 200ml rubber one, £3 from the local supermarket)

This is all in UK terms

Begin by chaining 66 chain stitches. This fitted the hot water bottle I was using but if yours is bigger or smaller, alter the number of stitches you begin with, just make sure your number is a multiple of 3.

Row 1: 

Into the 2nd chain from the hook, work 1dc, then 1dc into each stitch back to the start again (you should now have 64 stitches in total, or 2 less than when you started if your chain stitch is different to mine)

Row 2:

Turn work & chain 3. Then do 1tr into the first stitch. Miss out the next 2 stitches, then into the 3rd stitch  do a set of 3tr, skip the next 2 stitches, then again another 3tr into the 3rd & so on to the end, EXCEPT only do 2tr into the final stitch. The row should now starts & finish with a set of 2 trebles. (The photo above is showing the first row of chain stitches, row 2 and the start of 3)

Row 3: 

Turn work & chain 3, then work 3 trebles into the first chain space (that's the space between the sets of 3 trebles from the previous row)  then 3 trebles into every chain space till the end of row & finally, do 1 last treble into the final chain space. That row is now complete.

Row 4 (time to change colour):

Draw up your new colour & chain 3. Snip off the last colour BUT leave a long tail, you'll use that later when joining your seam with each of the different colours you use.  Knot your 2 colours together to keep everything in place.  Begin doing groups of 3 trebles into the spaces like in the last row all the way along till the last space & do just 2 trebles. 

Row 5: 

Chain 3 & turn. Then back to groups of 3 trebles into each space till the end & a final 1tr into the last space. 

Row 6: 

Return to instructions at Row 4 & off you go again.  

That's a few rows explained. It's the same from here on in till the desired length, just keep checking against your hot water bottle to make sure.  I did 15 lines of colours, or 30 rows in total to get the length I needed, the last 3 colours will be the shoulders of the cover.  Just remember when joining in a new colour & snipping off the last colour, to leave a decent length of wool for later.

When at the desired length, sew up the bottom or sew in a zip or hook & eyes if you want to get the hot water bottle in & out. 

Now using the long lengths of yarn you snipped off, get a darning needle & begin sewing together the 2 edges.  Using the different threads to sew up the seam it makes it almost impossible to see the join!

Now place the hot water bottle inside and get it so all the lines are straight and it looks even. From now on, the rest of the work will be done with the hot water bottle in the cosy, a bit fiddly I know, but it helps to achieve a snugger fit.

It needs a bit of shaping round the shoulders so tuck in the excess amount and sew into place, again, taking time to use the different colour threads as required. Make sure you sew it nice and as near to the neck of the hot water bottle, keep looking to make sure you keep everything even on each side so it looks symmetrical.

Now for the neck.  

Up until now, each colour has been made up of 2 rows but for the neck I did single rows of colour, I thought it had a better balance.

Row 1 of the neck.

So stating at the side of the neck, insert your hook into 1 of the chain spaces from the top row of your last line of colour & draw up your colour & chain 3. Add 2 more trebles into the same space.  Working round the neck, do 3 trebles into each space till you reach round to where you started. Put your hook through the top of your first ch3 & draw in your new colour.

Row 2 of the neck.

Chain 3 (snip off your old colour and remember to tie the old & new colour together at the back of your work to keep everything in place) work 2 more trebles into the chain space,  then 3tr into every space, all the way round to the start, inserting hook into top of the ch3.

Row 3-5 of the neck

Draw up the next colour and ch3 plus 2tr into the space and continue to work groups of 3tr into the spaces as in the previous rounds.  I did 5 rows round the neck, this covered it just to the brim, again, your neck might be longer or shorter, so amend as required. 

After you have reached your desired length, join with a slip stitch to the top of the ch3 and sew in the end. There, completed!!!

I threaded a ribbon through the central row on the neck, this makes it look decorative as well as keeping it all in place.

And ta-dah, one hot water bottle cosy!

I didn't bother making an opening to mine so that the bottle could be removed, I figured that if it ever needed cleaning, it was ok for the bottle to remain inside, it is water proof after all. 

In the interest of making sure my instructions worked, I followed the pattern to check for mistakes and in the process, made myself my very own cosy too!!

But if anyone does decide to make themselves one and uses my pattern and finds a mistake, please let me know, I will amend it accordingly.

Apart from that, I would be crazy pleased to see any that anyone does, I really would, or even drop me a comment if you can.

Many thanks for stopping by.


Thursday, 27 February 2014

Hot Water Bottle Cover

Isn't earache a stinker? Fortunately (as I tap wood reassuringly) I've not suffered with it for many a year, but during the last couple of days of the school holidays, eldest daughter began to complain of it!!!

Now, I remember as a child that when I got ear ache, I used to love to lay my head on a hot water bottle and hey presto, it used to take the worst of the pain away!  Alas, we didn't have a hot water bottle or anything else that might provide some warming assistance other than a warm flannel but that soon went cold. 

Anyway after a fretful night, I managed to get my daughter a doctors appointment early next morning and once we were sorted with a course of antibiotics for a now diagnosed ear infection, our next stop was the local supermarket and of course my reason was to try and find that all elusive hot water bottle.

Now, I haven't bought one in years, if ever, but if I have ever spied one for sale, they are usually quite a fancy affair, usually coming in it's own beautiful cozy with lovely designs etc and I did wonder if my local supermarket would cater for something so elaborate! Well, it did, only it only had on offer the bog standard rubber hot water bottle, no cute cosy accompaniment! So that meant one thing, I would just have to make one myself (or as my grandma used to do in the day when we visited and stopped over, wrap it in a hand towel - as if!!!!)

So, taking a brief break from rustling up triangles for my latest blanket, I took hold of my trusted bowl of left over balls of yarn and set about making a cosy. A cup of tea and a slice of date and walnut cake to set me up and off I set.

Now if you like the look of this cover, I'm going to make up a pattern on how I made it. But in the mean time, I am reliably informed my daughter, now very much on the mend, that the new hot water bottle is a resounding hit. Ear ache, now very much a thing of the past, the hot water bottle is now entrusted in keeping her tootsies warm at night, and there was me thinking that I might get my hands on it and warm my toes as I am reputed in having the coldest feet ever!!! 

So it looks like it's back to the shops for me to buy another hot water bottle for myself but in the meantime I'll set about editing all the photos I've taken of this one and piece together a pattern for it.

Will be back soon with that pattern!


Monday, 17 February 2014

Cheats Cheesecake

The school holidays are upon us here and I am utterly fed up with the weather, but I refuse to be all British about it and talk at lengths about how dreadful it is so will quickly skip over it!!

So in spite of the thing I'm not talking about and the very reason why I haven't been very far today, I have been trying to throw together meals that I already have the ingredients in for and at the request of daughter number 1, I was instructed to conjure up a dessert, a family favourite that I had to share, it's so simple it's ridiculous!

It's what I call my cheats cheesecake and goes as followed:

Serves 4 or a generous 2!

Bash 4 digestive biscuits (other biscuits such as Ginger Nuts or Nobnobs also work well) with a rolling pin to a crumb & throw in a handful of rolled oats.

Add to a pan 25g of butter & heat gently till it has melted and starts to froth ever so slightly, well that's the proper way but I never do and just add it all together and hope for the best - I have hungry bellies to fill, I can't hang around for frothing butter!! Add the crushed up biscuits & rolled oats and mix till all incorporated and forms a crumble.

Tip into individual serving bowls & leave to cool for a moment (save a small amount to one side)

Add Greek yogurt over the top of the crumb mix.

Add fruit of your choice or I like to heat fruits such as blueberries, raspberries or slices of apricot gently in a pan with a sprinkle of sugar to make a fruit syrup. Or if super lazy, use those yogurts that have the fruit served separately, just pour the serving of fruit over the yogurt, I do like to use Greek or natural yogurt, the regular stuff is just too sweet!

Top again with the put aside amount of digestive biscuit and add a drizzle of honey if you so prefer.

Voila! Empty bowls all round in this house!!!

Try it, it's real quick to put together, doesn't involve fancy ingredients or tricky techniques, ideal for a relatively fast dessert.

Enjoy the holidays and stay dry!!

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Colour Inspiration

I have never considered I had a 'favourite' colour. I sometimes play it safe when choosing clothes to wear and a quick look at the contents of my wardrobe hardly reveals a rainbow of colours. But as I look around my house and see the items I own, again and again I see that actually, I quite like colour, small pockets of it here and there. I'm not talking single tones of colour or a hint of a hue on a wall or two, I mean, a good old dollop of an assortment of patterns, styles, textures and fabrics.

It's thought that colour can convey feelings, cooling pastel colours to encourage feelings of calm, bold colours enhance feelings of being bold, bright confident! I think anyone interested in the meaning of colour would find my collection of trinkets and personnel belonging hard to read and that's because I don't stick to one colour group, rather I like what I see and collect what I like, it just has to contain colour, be it bright, cool, subtle, vibrant or pale.

I love natural materials, wood especially, but the urge to paint it is overwhelming. I never buy wooden furniture brand new, probably a good thing because as soon as I get it home, its usually taken off to be cleaned up, sanded down and a base paint applied. Then I can think about what colour I want to paint it. The choice is never made on whether it will match a room or if it will be in keeping with other items I have got, but more often then not, the furniture comes first and the decor of a room will follow.

My current dining table and chairs cost £11 from Ebay (the wonders of Ebay eh?) and in it's original state was pretty grotty and dark and I mean really dark. It took a lot of sanding and plenty of elbow grease but once the paint applied, Theresa Green by Farrow & Ball, it looked a treat!

I never stick to one palette, my home doesn't flow with the sense of a carefully thought out colour plan. I love to read lifestyle blog's or flick through a house magazine and instantly can recognise that a scheme has been used or a theme adhered to and I tell myself I should do that, plan each room of my house one at a time and decide what 'theme' I should use, but it never works. I might manage to match wallpaper to a piece of painted furniture but then get bowled over by a piece of material that I know would look great as a pair of curtains but throws the whole 'theme' of the room off but then think, who cares, I love it and that's all that matters!!

I suppose my lack of theme, is my theme! It's all in the detail, I am utterly unable to leave anything to lack a touch of colour, ordinary pots are given a spruce up with a bit of crochet. Anything to help brighten up a dreary day. Something to be a little different and not looking like what anyone else might have. I'm more than certain that many of the colours I put together don't even sit well together, but I don't think I really mind. I suppose that's the joy of making something yourself, doing just as you like. None of this shop bought stuff that a team of design experts have spent a life time developing just to make your home look tailored and on trend, nope, none of that for me!

I think I"m a bit of a copy cat, I see something I like and it gets stored in the brain for a later date and suddenly it pops out and screams MAKE ME!!! I remember a time when I wanted to make covers for mugs and I mean all my mugs, I even bought mugs I thought would suit a cosy. I made them for me, for friends, for using at the allotment, at work, everywhere. They were plain, or decorated, embellished with buttons, multicoloured. No mouthful of tea was drunk in my house for months without it being adorned by one of my creations.

I think this momentary obsession came from my husband remarking about seeing these cosies in a shop and the amount they were priced at. I couldn't believe how much and if anyone would pay that much but could understand why a person would want one. They're hardly a 'must have' item, people have got along just fine before without needing their mug of tea wrapped beautifully in a woolly jacket but they just look so darn lovely and I knew that I could make one.... or two or maybe more

So why the sudden interest in colour? Well, this blog reaches it's first birthday tomorrow, a whole year old - YAY!! And a year ago today I had expectations of what this blog might bring, a record of my life, a gallery of photos showing my creations, a sense of improvement and an opportunity to channel my area of expertise, to cut a grove into what was my style. 

I had thought that seeing it all written down in black and white and a collection of all the photos I have taken, that I would see a style, a sense of what I'm naturally attracted too, something that screams 'me!', but in all honesty, I see what I saw a year ago, a collection of 'things', an assortment of every colour, trinkets, nick-nacks, stuff that I just 'like' and want in my home to make it my home.

It doesn't match, it doesn't flow, it certainly wouldn't adorn the front covers of any style magazine, but then after all, this probably is my style, eclectic, different, mine!

I will continue to fill ridiculously small vases with flowers picked from the garden and make even more cushions out of old clothes because it reminds my of when my children wore them. I will stick colours that don't match together.  I will choose colours that sing to me, buy them simply because they feel snugly. My obsession with blankets will continue on forever, I will not rest till I have tried every type of stitch, sampled every conceivable yarn, practised all manner of hooks. 

I feel truly in admiration of some of the people who's blog's I read or photos I see on Instagram, Ravelry or Pinterest and aspire to try be as amazing as them. Their work blows me away and their dedication to complete some of their work is remarkable, I'm glad I'm a part of it in some tiny small way.

This year has seen many changes in my life, moving house and having my second daughter have been monumental and has taken me away from time dedicated to this blog (understandably) and changes are afoot again as I face the prospect of returning to work and that window of opportunity to sit and crochet ebbs ever further away, but it is something I treasure and love with a passion so time will be found. I will continue to throw love and attention this way and not let work get in the way 

So HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my blog, I hope it will continue to encourage me to stay creative, to make me think about the next project, to keep taking lots of lovely photo's and capture my life surrounded by lots of colourful woolly creations.

For those who have read my ramblings, left comments or gone away a little inspired then I thank you for stopping by. I know I haven't or probably never will make great shakes in this talented world of all things 'hooky', I'll leave that to those truly more amazing that I'll ever be, but I'll keep plodding away, spreading the love of all things homemade and crocheted.

I will pat myself on the back for all the things I have made, for the ways it has shaped and bent my life and made me sit and enjoy the most simplest of hobby. It has meant that I can make gifts for others, or pretty up the rooms of my house

So I will continue on, my life with crochet, looking for that elusive style of mine and gathering inspiration from everything around me. This for me will probably only ever be a hobby, something to past the time and an opportunity to make great things. It must be wonderful to make a living from it and those that do are lucky people indeed and worthy of their abilities. 

But for now, nothing is more perfect then a pot of tea, a homemade cake and an hour or two of uninterrupted crochet, but alas, in this house, hours of uninterrupted 'anything' is unlikely and for that I am thankful as my time at the moment is 100% family and I will relish in it till I am drag kicking and screaming back to work!

Thank you for stopping by, as I write, the sun is shining and the weather after last nights storms seems to have calmed down. While the baby is sleeping I might just see if I can get a little more of my blanket done.  

Here's to another year in blogland, thanks for having me and speak soon xx

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Triangular Crochet Blanket Update

It would seem that at the moment, all that is consuming me, crochet wise, is this latest blanket. I've really taken to it so thought I would do a quick up date on its development.

At first I was unsure of the yarn I was using, its Drops Cotton Light and is a 50% cotton, 50% polyester mix.  I've not used cottons a lot before and certainly never for anything so big, but with a little more concentration with the hook to make sure I gather up all of the thread and not stick the hook through the middle, I can get along with it just fine. 

One thing that has struck me is how vivid the colours are. As the blanket gets bigger and the triangles begin to build up, its lovely to see how they all work well together. I can imagine it will be an eye catcher once completed, I can't wait to see the end results.

I hope that I have used the yarn to the best of its advantage and choosing triangles was a worthy idea. I had originally played around with other thoughts such as different sized squares, but I've done all that before and wanted to try something new. These squares did look tempting though!!!

No matter where I am in the house or out and about,  I can gather up my bag and take it with me and if I get chance, quickly add a triangle or two. I really am in love with it at the moment. These cold wet dreary days certainly make me want to get finished sooner, it's great to be tucked under it as I work away on it but to be honest, I don't know what I will eventually use the blanket for. 

Hope to have a reveal for you soon.

Take care xx 

Thursday, 30 January 2014

January Blues

This week has plodded along nicely, the weather has been unsurprisingly cold and wet!  A few 'to do' jobs have been ticked off & we got new carpets in the bedrooms, staircases and hallway, oh I do love the smell of new carpets!

The triangle blanket is coming along brilliantly, as I suspected, once I had a few rows under my belt, I no longer had to concentrate intently on what I was doing to make sure I got it right, I can literally let my hands get on with the work while I watch tv or have a conversation!

One thing that I discovered, not so much to my surprise is that attempting to squeeze a spot of crocheting in while trying to entertain my wee girl, who this week has managed to catch a cold & is especially in need of extra cuddles & lots of comforting feeds from mummy is almost impossible! But when she takes a nap & I have managed to rush round the house tidying up like a mad woman, I can sit for a short time and enjoy a moment of crocheting.

This week, because of the awful weather, I took some time out to crochet up a few gifts for a friends daughters birthday. I thought I would first of all make a few hair accessories using butterflies and flowers which I could then attach to hair slides or toggles. 

Because they are so small it takes literally minutes to run up these flowers and butterflies and additionally they are an ideal project to use up all my odds and ends of wool I have left over.

The butterflies were especially easy to make, its simply a 4 petal flower with a length of yarn wrapped in the middle to make the body and voila, a butterfly.

I've been trying to sneak in a little crocheting when ever I can and set up camp on the living room floor

But, it's no easy feat when I have a budding assistant eager to get her hands on all my balls of wool. 

Anyway, I eventually managed to make a small handful of flowers and butterflies and glued them to some hair slides. 

I also managed to quickly make up this dollies blanket as well. It's just a granny square that I just continued on going round and round and round till it reached the desired sized. Should be just the right size for a dolly. 

In a bid to try to inject a spot of colour into life, I have brought some tulips and potted a few primulas. This time of year always feels so glum and bare. I'm longing for the evenings to stay lighter for longer and be able to take off a few layers and expose a bit of flesh!!!

Oh well, mustn't wish my life away. 

Be back soon xx

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Back in the Land of Yarn!!

Well I say back in the land, more a fleeting visit, a brief excursion, the smallest of stops back into a place I love and enjoy! Of course the reason for my short visit comes in the shape of daughter number 2, who, like her sister before her is apt at fighting this thing I once called sleep!! Now sleep is something I visit even less frequently than I do an afternoon with hook & yarn but, dare I say it, even whisper it, I think we've turned a corner, shhhhhh!!!

At the tender age of only 7 months, daughter number 2 has scaled down her nightly wake ups from a staggering 6+ to a more manageable 1!!!! This, after only these few short months feels like a mini miracle, I literally skip into her bedroom when she wakes for a feed sometime around 4am, telling myself I feel as fresh as a daisy for having the pleasure of sleeping a whole 5 hours uninterrupted and if I can get her fed & back to sleep in half an hour, I might even get another 2, that's 7 hours in total, like a normal person!

Now because I feel slightly more 'with it' and can manage a conversation with my husband past the hour of 8pm that doesn't include the words 'is it bedtime yet', I have started back enjoying a few hours of crocheting - YAY!!!

I've started a project that can be done a little at a time, a blanket made up of triangles! I got the idea from a blog called Get Hooked on Crochet and I intend to make a least one triangle a day. I am using the join as you go method and until I get a few rows under my belt, following how to do this involves a lot of concentration from me!! 

For a change, I'm using a cotton yarn.

 I like trying different types, my favourite to date has been using the Rooster wool I used for making my first baby blanket but a cheaper alternative that I find easy to use and comes in a great range of colours is Stylecraft DK which I used for my eldest daughter blanket.

Rooster Wool

Stylecraft DK

Fortunately, this cotton yarn was very reasonable, in fact, it was given to me by someone who just couldn't get on with it. It is made up of several strands and it has a tendency to split apart easily so very often the hook doesn't pick it all up and your work can develop loops of missed strands if you are not careful. 

Apart from that, I love the colours and fancied making up this blanket to see how it turns out.

I'm only a couple of rows in but still managing to make more than one triangle a night.  The intention is to make the blanket over the course of a year so I will report back regularly on its progress. 

The beauty of knowing that I can take my time with this project is that I can fit in doing other pieces as well. I've so many ideas in my head right now of things I want to get started on that I don't know where to begin!!! 

I shall be back soon with an update on my blanket & other stuff too.