Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Rainbow Granny Scarf

I have to admit to being a major Pinterest addict.. I may need to join a support group, if there is one. Most of my pins will never get used as anything other than a picture of something that I think is pretty, but some have actually proved amazingly useful and inspired my sewing, hatting and crocheting.  One of my favorite finds on Pinterest is Sarah London, a crochet designer from Australia.  She has loads of fantastic crochet patterns, some are even free, including a designed for a Granny stitch based scarf called The Arctic Scarf  which incorporates all the bold colours that she is most known for.   Although I really liked this pattern it was not quite what I wanted, but it is gorgeous nonetheless. So I decided to create my own pattern-eek!

The Granny Square is a classic and super easy crochet technique which I love making, as you don't have the fiddly first step of most crochet patterns of crocheting a long chain and then trying to crochet into that.  What I wanted tho was not a square but a long, thin rectangle- ie scarf shaped! This did mean that I needed to start with a long chain-sigh... However,  I found a fantastic tutorial (Pinterest again!) on how to make a granny rectangle as the basis for a blanket at the marvelous Crochet Again website.  It even has a stitch diagram, which I find much easier to follow than written instructions. So all I needed now was some yarn.  Fortunately for me The Sheep Shop in Cambridge stocks all the colours of Rico's Creative Cotton, an aran weight, 100% cotton yarn, so I could pop in and choose my rainbow. In my opinion it is more of a heavy DK than a proper aran weight, as it feels a lot lighter than any other DK yarn I've used.  It comes in so many gorgeous, rich colours, and being 100% cotton it doesn't make my hands itch and go pink when I use it.

Anyway, as we all learnt in school the seven colours of the rainbow are Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet (or Richard Of York Gave Battle in Vain!).  For my scarf you'll need a ball of each colour, plus an extra ball of violet- as the scarf is finished with an extra row of this colour and fringe.  So here is my first crochet pattern!

Rainbow Granny Scarf

You will need seven colours of Arran weight yarn.  If used Rico Creative Cotton in, Red-05, Orange-74, Yellow-63, Green-49, Sky Blue-37, Royal Blue-39, Cardinal-11.  The closest I could get to a rainbow. You need one ball of each colour and two of the last colour.
Finished dimensions
Length-3m 20cm  excluding fringe

Foundation Row

  • Using a 5mm hook and red yarn- Chain 360!!!  Yes I know that is ridiculously long, but that's what I wanted. 
  • If you want your scarf to be slightly less mad, then chain 300; you will also not need to worry about the yarn running out in the later rounds as it got pretty close with mine! (or you can make it any length of chain you like as long as its a multiple of 3)

Row 1

  • In the 6th chain from the hook 3 Treble crochet (from here on I will call this a Treble group or TrGp).  
  • Skip two chain, then TrGp in next chain.
  • Continue this pattern (skip two chains then Tr Gr in the next) all the way along the chain until there are only 3 chain left
  • Treble crochet in the last chain.
  • Fasten off red yarn and weave in ends.
This results in a long, thin ribbon of crochet that looks like this-

Row 2, Orange yarn
  • Begin in a skipped chain space, or between two treble groups, either attach your yarn and chain three (equals one treble) or use the amazing technique called the Standing treble crochet that I learnt at Moogly.com which produces a totally invisible start!  (It is called a standing double crochet in American terms).
  • One treble in the chain space
  • Chain one, then TrGp in next chain space.
  • Repeat (Chain one, TrGp) in each chain space until you reach the end of the red row.
  • To work around the end of the row work a TrGp, 3 chain, TrGp, 3 chain, TrGp.  (The chains from the corners that you will work into in the next row- you can see this in the picture below)  
  • Continue making chain one, TrGp repetitions all way along the other side of the red foundation row.
  • When you reach the other end of the scarf work the end in the same was as the first. (TrGp, 3 chain, x 3).  Then work along the first side until you reach the starting point.
  • Chain one and work one treble in to the first chain space where you started.
  • Join to the top of the first treble with a slipstitch, cut the yarn and weave in the end, or-
  • Cut the yarn, leaving a 6 inch tail, and pull the tail out from the last stitch.  Then using a wool needle, pass the tail under the top loop of the first treble crochet of the row then back through the top of the last treble to create a loop that joins the two trebles. Weave this end in.  This produces a seamless join- there are two joins in the picture below-Can see you see them?!
First three rows.
Rows 3 (yellow), 4 (Green), 5 (Blue), 6 (indigo), and 7 (Violet), are made exactly the same way as Row 2, they are just slightly bigger.  If you'd like a diagram do check out Crochet Again's post mentioned above.

Once you've finished all 7 rows, you can block the scarf by pinning it to an ironing board and gently pressing it with a steam iron and a press cloth, or if you prefer you can wet block it- cotton yarn will take either.  I then finished mine with a fringe.

Making the Fringe

Fringe is dead easy to make and add to a scarf. I used a postcard to make my fringe, but any piece of card or a cd case or anything that is the twice the length of fringe you want is fine as a template.  My postcard is 16cm long, so the finished fringe will be 8cm long.  To make the fringe pieces, wrap your yarn around your template a few times- don't do too many wraps or it get more fiddly to hang on to it all.  Cut the yarn at the bottom of the template, keeping hold of the yarn on the template, then cut it again at the top of the template. This will leave you with several individual lengths of 16cm.

Then taking one length, fold it in half.  Using your crochet hook, pull the folded end through the top of a corner stitch at the bottom of the scarf to create a loop-
Use the hook to catch the two ends of the strand and pull them all the way through the loop you have just made-
Pull the ends gently to tighten the knot against the scarf.  Repeat this process all the way along the end of the scarf.
You may need to trim the ends of the fringe a little to get them completely level.  Now, take your scarf wrap it several times around your neck and feel smug!  I hope the pattern is clear and easy to follow, any problems do drop me a line or a comment and I will try and help.

Pattern  Rainbow Granny Scarf, Copyright Rosalind Evans.  You are welcome to reproduce this pattern for personal use, but please do not use it for commercial gain. Please do not reproduce my photos or the text of this pattern without contacting me first. If you would like to link to this pattern please do, but I would ask that you let me know.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Grey Feathered Everyday Hat

I got a new block for my birthday, and what with one thing (my crappy health) and another (work stuff) I still had not used it nearly six months later!  It's  a block I commissioned from the always fabulous Guy Morse Brown.  It's a mixture of some of the designs they offer in their catalogue, and it will work with all the other blocks I have previously bought from them.  I really like crowns with valley details round the top, like the classic pork pie hat.  Unlike the pork pie, I also wanted the valley to have a small 'v'cut out at the centre front and gently sloping sides rather than straight sides-  

You can see the brim block that I used in the background.
So, now I'm finally feeling a bit better and have some time, it was at last time to try my new block out.  It has also been ages since I have done any feather work, so I decided that I would do a feather hat band on my new shape, as it would not distract too much from the nice shape of the crown.  I've learnt a lot about using feathers in millinery from one of the first millinery books I ever bought- Classic Millinery Techniques by Ann Albruzio.

I don't think that this is still available in print, but you can certainly get it second hand on Amazon. The designs in it are perhaps a little dated, there are a lot of 1980's style pill boxes, but the techniques it teaches are very useful, and well illustrated, especially the feather work.  So the first thing was to block the basic shape in the grey felt cone I had chosen-

The detail in the crown top is held in place by a piece of blocking reed and pins, the bottom of the brim is created with a finger groove and string.  I really like having a finger grove at the bottom of a brim shape as it makes it so easy to get a really smooth clean brim line.   Once the felt had dried, I used size to stiffen the crown and hold in the shape and trimmed the excess felt off the bottom of the brim.  I replaced the hat on the block to make gluing the feathers to it easier, as having the block to press against gives you a stronger bond.  To keep the hat band straight and level I marked the line I wanted with chalk and my hem marker. 
The first thing to do when adding feathers to a hat is create a 'lift'.  This is basically a long, thin piece of paper folded in half and pinned to the hat at the centre back, as you can see above.  You can then glue the first feather to the hat over lapping the lift.   Before attaching the feathers its best to hold it in place first to check how it will look (see below), and then trim some of the fluff from the bottom of the feather.  Don't remove it all as it will give the next feather a bit more volume, but you can trim the fluff down so it won't show through the next feather, or poke out from the top or bottom of the band.   You should also remove about a cm of the fluff from the quill of the bottom of the feather, so you can glue the quill really securely to the hat..  You can cut it off with scissors but the easiest way is just to grip the fluff in one hand close to the quill and hold the quill with the other, then just pull the fluff away with a quick downward movement. The lift is then left pinned in place as you work around the hat, feather by feather.
Because feathers are not man made they will all be a bit different, so don't expect every single one to line up perfectly or the hat band to be the exact same width all the way round. What you are aiming for is as smooth an overlap as possible and trying to keep the band the same width as much as possible.  Once you've worked your way around the hat towards the CB you can use the lift to raise the first feathers up, which allows you to then glue the last feathers underneath them and create an invisible join.
The lift holding the first feathers out of the way.
Can you see the join!?
As you can see, feather work gets very messy! It doesn't matter how careful you are, the stray fluff will get everywhere and stick to everything...  The best way I have found of tidying it away is to use a piece of sticky tape to catch it on, then fold it up and throw it away, I've even been known to put the tape in a bag and then throw it away. However, I guarantee you'll still find bits of fluff for the next few days, especially on your socks!  Another good tool to have on hand when using feathers is a toothbrush.  Its very useful for brushing small areas of the felt and also giving the feathers a light comb once they are glued on.  I'm hoping to get a lot of wear out of this design as it should go with everything, the next hat will be a bit more flamboyant!

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Blue cloche - Historical sew monthly

So last year I totally failed to take part in the Historical Sew Fortnightly which is organised by the marvelous Dreamstress. This is a great idea, whereby sewing challenges are set fortnightly, and participants complete them by recreating historical garments, in 2015 the challenges will be monthly. I really wanted to take part last year but things like getting married, or being ill, or making other peoples wedding dresses took up all my time and all my good intentions went phut.  However, this year things are going to be different. As mentioned in a previous post, I have decided that dead lines are no longer my friend so I'm changing my work patterns to suit my crappy health.  This does leave me some more time to do some me sewing, and so here is my first effort for the Historical Sew Monthly. 

The February challenge is Blue, to make an item that features blue, in any shade from azure to zaffre. I've been wanting to do some more free form blocking so a 1920's pleated cloche is my first challenge. I began by blocking the hood over my domed hatblock as I wanted the top of the hat to have a classic, rounded bell shape.  When it was dry I marked the head fitting line (where the hat will sit on the head) using my hem marker.  I'm quite pleased with this way of marking the headline as it lets you decide the depth of crown you want really easily and you don't have to take it off the block first.
Once the hood had dried I removed it from the dome block and started to shape it on my malleable wig head which I covered in cling film to protect it from any dye leaching from the hood when I steamed it.  I took inspiration from some extant examples of felt cloches that I found online. The first is a blue fur felt cloche with lovely pleats at the back, it was for sale a while ago on Vintage Martini. The second is a 1928 hat by Miss Fox that is in the V and A Museum, this time the pleats form part of the brim at the front.
I decided to focus my pleats at the back to create an asymmetric sweep around the base of the head and then hand form a turned up brim at the front.  I used blocking reed to secure the front head fitting so it would not stretch it out of shape whilst forming the brim.
And finished-really must tidy up my workroom!  I'm very pleased with how it turned out. Now I just need an occasion to wear it to....

The Challenge: February:Blue 

Fabric: Wool felt
Pattern: No pattern, based on extant examples.
Year: 1920's
Notions: Millinery petersham
How historically accurate is it? The wool felt hood is period accurate and the cloche is entirely hand sewn.  I used modern water based hat sizing, as the chemical version that is technically accurate is seriously toxic! So 95% accurate.
Hours to complete: about 10 hours, not including drying time.
First worn: not worn yet 
Total cost: I have had the felt hood for ages so not exactly sure! They cost about £5 and maybe £2 for the petersham and thread.  So approx £7.  

Monday, January 05, 2015

2014 Round-up and 2015 Plans

Well its a New Year, an obvious time to take stock of things and plan for the future.  2014 was a very mixed bag of a year.  ON the positive side I had some fabulous times with friends and family and totally the best day of my life so far, when I married my beloved Mr EB in June. I couldn't have asked for a better day, the weather was perfect, food was amazing and we are so lucky to have so many lovely people in our lives who came to share it all with us.  Sadly, the year also contained way, way too much crap!  I spent two weeks in Papworth in March/April plus a further three weeks at home on ivs being treated for Micobacterium Chelonae, I can honestly say that the treatment was utterly horrible-I have never been so sick in my life!  So that was hilarious fun,  then in October my health was the worse its ever been, i ended up back in Papworth and oxygen dependent for the first time in my life.  I don't think I really appreciated just how ill I was at the time, probably because going into denial was the only way I could cope with it.  I had another round of the micobacterium treatment (yay more ridiculous nausea!) and spent three weeks in Papworth and another two weeks on ivs at home.  It really was a horrible experience, I had one evening when I simply could not catch my breath, my O2 saturation plummeted and the nurses bunged me straight on oxygen.  In retrospect I was really scared, and it still scares me just how bad I got and how quickly, but at the time I was surprisingly calm, as I wasn't totally aware of what was going on.  The next ten days or so were spent pretty much on oxygen 24/7 which whilst it definitely made me feel better, meant I was also stuck in bed for pretty much the whole time-very dull!  I became very weak and lost a spectacular amount of weight during October and the only reason I didn't end up have to NG feed was that I had a total freak out about it and managed to persuade the dietitians I would start drinking the dreadful milkshake supplements (which I have and thank God the weight is slowly getting back to an acceptable level).

This health crash has forced me into having to reassess my life, yet again-bloody CF!  Trying to stick to my motto of 'adopt, adapt and improve', I'm attempting to view this as a positive thing, but mostly I'm just a bit confused as to what I am going to do.  Working to a deadline is just way too stressful when you can't tell if you may suddenly end up stuck in hospital unable to do anything for three weeks...So work is going to have change a lot, I'm just not quite sure how yet! More hats and embroidery seem one way to go, but I don't know how I'm going to sell anything-suggestions gratefully received...

We are also considering moving to a new house that will make my life a bit easier on the domestic front.  Stairs are definitely no longer my friend.  It's not that I can't do them, I can, but when I'm not feeling great (which is increasingly often), when I get to the top I either feel terribly faint or have a massive coughing fit-not ideal! Our house only has an upstairs bathroom which is a bit problematic; so we are on the look out for a bungalow- I feel so old!  I love George Street and really don't want to have to go through the stress of moving, but equally I am increasingly conscious that I cant keep up with the domestic side of life, not to mention the garden-I really do feel utterly useless at times! So, we are considering moving now before I get much worse and it becomes harder.  So it looks like there will be some big changes ahead in 2015.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Wedding Pictures!

Yes, I know its been ages since we tied the knot, but I have at last sorted myself out (a bit) and uploaded a few of our photos.  I will do a post about my dress in a bit more depth once I've finished it- I started it ages ago but have been procrastinating ever since! Our photos were taken by the fabulous Paul White, who I cannot recommend highly enough. As well as being such an amazing photographer he is a really lovely chap who made us feel so relaxed that even Mr EB didn't mind being snapped!.

Our amazing 'Lego' cake made by my genus of a sister in law.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Pictures, pictures, pictures!

Oh dear another long blog silence! But in my defence at least I can say 'Reader, I married him!'  Always wanted to do that:-) We had a glorious day for our wedding without a drop of rain, the day after we had a huge thunder storm! I will do a post about my dress when I get time to actually write it and have sorted out the pictures.  In the meantime, you can see a slideshow of our wonderful photos as taken be the incredibly talented Paul White, on his Facebook page

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Oh dear, I've been a bad blogger again... Its mostly been down to my health being a total disaster area.  The doc's finally decided that I'd had enough positive cultures of a micro bacterium called Chelonae to actually warrant treating it. Given that they've been trying to decide this for about two years, you can see how few positive results I've had and also how serious the treatment is as they don't give it to you until they really think you need it.  The treatment is seriously, seriously crap- for me it was two weeks in Papworth on three IV drugs, two of which are very, very strong along with two nebbed antibiotics and four pill antibiotics!  This was followed by a slightly reduced IV regime of the two massively strong ones, as well as all the nebs and pills for another two weeks which, thank God, was at home and I am now on the maintenance regime of the two nebs and two pill antibiotics...its still a lot of drugs, but it is much more bearable than the IVs. They actually wanted me to do the IVs for longer but I'd lost so much weight (5kgs in about 10days) and was so knackered and weak that they let me stop at four.  They were really nasty drugs too; tigicycline (I think that's how you spell it!) makes you seriously sick-I spent the first 48 hours unable to eat anything and not even water was staying put. The docs eventually got a good anti-sickness regime going which at least let me keep food down, but one of the anti emetics I started with, was so strong it basically knocks you out; so whilst you aren't being sick anymore you are also mostly comatose-great! To give you an idea of quite how sick I was, they gave me the same drugs that they give cancer patients when they are on chemo-really no fun at all. So, that was pretty much all of April out of the window on massive loads of drugs, so I didn't have a chance to do anything interesting to blog about.

At least now I've had a bit of time to recover and even go on holiday with Mr EB and the massed Evans clan, I'm getting back to work on my wedding dress and doing some embroidery too. Hopefully, I'll be able to do some more interesting blogging soon when I will finally be able to blog all the pics I've been taking  of my dress and have some other work to post as well.  Life will finally get back to being sewing and fun based, rather than drug based!