Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Happy New Year to you all!!! (plus a Fairisle 'Hottie', an Alpaca Cape, some stripy knitting and Chunky South Bay Shawlette

Hello my friends,

Hope you had an enjoyable Holiday period!!!

This is just a short little post to wish you all a wonderful New Year!!!!
Hope it will be filled with inspiration and great makes!

A Fairisle Knitted Hot Water Bottle Cover

Here is what I have been making since my last post just before Christmas:

This was my last minute Christmas present - a Fairisle Knitted 'Hottie' (Hotwater Bottle Cover).

You can see my sketched chart, together with a knitted sample and the actual cover in progress all in these pictures. It is all my own design. I knitted it in the round, using Veritas Laura yarn which contains wool.

Knitting my Fairisle 'Hottie'
Heart pattern
View of the 'wrong' side (the inside of the cover)
Finished with knitting - inside out
Envelope closure
Ta-Dah for a finished Fairisle Waterbottle cover
The envelope closure

A Visit to Maastricht

Last sunday we went for a drive. In Belgium it snowed a lot during Saturday and the next morning there was a lot of snow outside. However, once we were driving towards Holland, the snow disappeared. When we arrived in Maastricht, there was no snow! Some cherry trees even had blossoms!!! After a nice coffee break in one of the 'Coffee lovers' cafes we went to have a look around the town centre. It looked very festive with the decorations. Unfortunately it was getting dark early so I did not take many photos.

Walking across the bridge into the old town centre of Maastricht
Maastricht! Pleased to meet you!!!

My Alpaca Cape

I showed you the beginnings of this project which I began as soon as I had completed my black Alpaca Triangle Shawl (see my previous post here!)

I made up my own design, starting off with 100 stitches and 7mm needles, later switching to 6mm, and finally decreasing to 80 stitches and using 5mm needles. The yarn is Drops Alpaca Boucle in Old Rose.

Ta-Dah for my supersoft Alpaca Cape/Cowl

My new Alpaca Cape with a nod to 'Outlander'

This is my current mystery WIP using Scheepjeswol Invicta in 2 different and contrasting colourways. I bought this during the summer and I knew then that I wanted to try knitting, alternating the 2 shades.

Enjoying knitting with Scheepjeswol Invicta
Colour effect with two different variegated yarns
And a final finished project: I made a Shawl with very chunky yarn, using a 9mm hook. I picked it up today and finished it off, there was only one row to go!

Ta-Dah!!! A chunky South Bay Shawlette

Here one last little look at my Harlequin Crochet Blanket, it has now reached about 1.80m long. It will need a number of TV sessions so I can catch up on my crochet here. (Unfortunately it is not feasible to take it with me on the buses!)

And finally....

Thanks to you all, my dear friends and readers! You are a great inspiration and I hope in turn, I will provide you all with new inspiration, too! It's still amazing that I can now call myself a 'blogger'!!!
I am truly grateful for all your support!

I want to wish you all a very Happy 2015!!!!

I love reading your reactions and comments, please leave me one after reading this!!!


Saturday, 20 December 2014

Merry Christmas to you all! (A crochet wreath tutorial, an Alpaca Shawl and another hat or two!)

Hello my friends,

Finally I get a chance for another post! Enjoy the photos, there are plenty! I've been rather busy lately! But then I'm sure, all of you have as well. Isn't there just so much to do, no matter how you much you plan ahead?

How to make a Christmas Mini Wreath Decoration - Quick Tutorial

You will need a small wooden craft ring, I used one about 7cm and one of 5cm. But any kind of ring could be used (think curtain or shower curtain rings, rings from broken jewellery etc) The ring needs to be big enough so that you are able to crochet around it!

I used Scheepjeswol Stone Washed for the first example, but you could use any yarn you like, plus a matching crochet hook.

You start with leaving a long enough tail (10-15 cm), this will be used for a hanging loop later. Crochet once all around the ring, making sure you cover it tightly and completely, keep pushing the stitches so they are very close next to each other, but not overlapping. (In my case there were about 95 stitches for the larger ring).

Close the ring with a slip stitch, chain 3 (counts as first stitch) and begin the second round: *crochet (always) a total of 5 trebles into the first stitch, then a double crochet into the next stitch, then skip 3 stitches*. (Repeat from *to*)

You might find it a bit tight to crochet 5 stitches, you could also make this less, and depending on the size of your circle and number of total stitches, you could leave more stitches inbetween the trebles.

This is what it will look like:

Once you have crocheted this ruffly shell stitch all around the ring, close with a slip stitch. Cut your yarn, but leave a long enough tail. Knot the two yarn tails with each other a couple of times to secure.

Now you will need the contrasting yarn (if using) and a large wool needle to make large stitches around the outer row of shell stitch. See below:

Now we are adding a small bow. I crocheted a small number of chain stitches (here in red yarn) that would be enough to form a bow, then cut the end and pulled the yarn through the last stitch to secure.I had some nice bright Neon thread with which I sewed the shaped bow to the wreath at the bottom (opposite the 2 tail ends which are used as a hanging loop).

This is the second wreath I made. Here I used a different yarn (Veritas Laura which contains wool) and a smaller wooden ring. I needed to use a larger hook for the yarn, therefore the stitches looked much bigger in relation to the size of ring! I also needed less stitches in total. The number of stitches is not that important, obviously it helps if you can divide it by the number of stitches in a repeat (in my case above it was that the pattern repeats every 5 stitches).

Here I wanted to add some tiny crochet balls which I made by chaining 5, then closing into a ring with a slip stitch, cut the yarn and leave long ends, see photo. I used 3 different colours for the 'balls' and red for the bow.

Here you can see what it looks like at the back. All I did was to thread the 2 yarn ends through the shell stitch row in regular intervals, then knotting the yarn ends twice and then cutting them off (taking care not to cut into the knots obviously!) I also attached the bow with a small length of yarn, which I threaded through to the back and then knotted and cut.

Last step: Knot the 2 (green) yarn ends together and trim, this will be your hanging loop so you can hang the ornament

This is what the finished wreath looks like from the front.

And here you can see both wreaths together. Using different sizes, different yarns or colours can give different results. You can vary it according to your own taste. I thought it might also look nice if you got some pretty beads which you could sew on or even incorporate into your crocheting.
Use your own imagination! I would be very interested to see your own version if you try this out, just leave a link in the comments below!

Here are the finished Mini Wreaths

Cleo and my Maybelle Flower Bunting

Maurice Knits in Antwerpen

Recently I made a visit to a new Knit Cafe in Antwerp called Maurice Knits. It's in a temporary location in a bank building. They even got the caravan parked outside!

To find out more about Maurice knits, visit their website:

The cafe inside is quite large and roomy with plenty of seats. When I went there there were lots of students working with their laptops! The coffee is tasty and the tart I sampled was yummy! Some of the furniture there is vintage and also for sale! There were quite a number of knitted items for sale, such as chunky winter jumpers and woolly hats! They also had a small amount of wool for sale! (Hooray for some nice Rowan yarns!) I had a nice time sitting there and crocheting some of my Christmas stars!

11.12.14 Maurice Knits, Antwerpen

A Christmas Market in Germany

Last Saturday we went to Hanau, Germany for a quick day trip to visit my family. After a meal, we went for a stroll across the Christmas market. In the first photo you can see some people dressed up in animal costumes which probably had something to do with the Brothers Grimm. (Hanau is the birth town of the Brothers Grimm, you can see their statue just behind the booth on the left side).

13.12.14 Christmas Market in Hanau, Germany

Little houses and tree ornaments
Lots of Red and White Christmas ornaments!
From the bottom of my heart I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!!!!
Colourful wooden toys

New and finished projects

Here a quick mention of some other crochet and knitted makes....

I made this crochet sample after a pattern I found here:

I used Fenna yarn again and I like the effect of the pattern. The idea is to transform this rectangular sample into a bag later.

13.12.14 Crochet Stitch Sample
Stitch Close up
The following is my absolute favourite make of recent times! I made a large, soft Alpaca Shawl, knitted from Drops Alpaca Boucle which can be a bit tricky to knit with thanks to the Boucle loops, but it is oh, so soft!!! It measures around 1.50m wide by about 60cm high. It is my own pattern. The effect is that the stitches create a sort of double layered pattern, thus trapping the warmth inbetween. This shawl is absolutely wonderful to wear, either with the triangle tip at the front or at the back.
I can highly recommend this yarn!!!

(I first mentioned this shawl here: )

12.12.14 Finished Black Alpaca Shawl
Alpaca Shawl Stitch Detail close up
And I also knitted another hat with the great Rico Tasai yarn, this one is a Birthday gift and has already been posted! Again, I love the range of colours!!!

17.12.14 Knitted Hat (5)
Here is my current WIP that I am concentrating on and that soon will be finished: I'm knitting a cape, again from Drops Alpaca Boucle, this time in a mauve pink. I've just binge watched the Outlander series which plays in Scotland in 1743 (more about the series here!!!)

I'm totally in love with the costumes in the series, especially all the shawls, capes, neckscarves etc that the main character Claire is wearing. Oh, and also you can find these original costume designs here on etsy! I already got my mind on the fabulous Sassenach Capelet! I mean, how difficult can it be???

However, my cape here is more inspired by this.  But the pattern is different, it is my own. I'm using different sized needles, starting with 8mm and currently I am down to a size 5mm.

Below you can see a new crochet hat that I also started at the same time!

15.12.14 Crochet Hat
19.12.14 Crochet Hat
I close with these cute little Christmas ornaments/garland that I made for last year's Christmas. Each decoration was completely handsewn. It took me quite a long time, I recall, but I loved making them!

My handsewn Xmas Garland from 2013

Well, that's all for now! I do hope you enjoyed reading this. Maybe you got a tiny bit of inspiration out of one or another picture, I do hope so! I want to thank you all for your kind support and loyalty, thank you for following my blog and visiting from time to time! I warmly welcome all new followers! Thanks again for all your great comments, which I enjoy reading, so please leave a little note below!

Last, not least: Here is wishing you all a wonderful Christmas!!!!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Happiness (Het Grote Geluksonderzoek) and the Theory of Flow (or why crocheting/knitting/creative activity can make you happy!)

Hello, my friends!

I'm happy that you are here and reading this! :)

Why? Because I want to talk about Happiness today! I recently had to give a talk in front of the whole class in Dutch (which I am currently learning since I moved to Belgium).

You can imagine that the prospect alone of doing something like this did not make me feel happy. For a start, I had absolutely no idea about which subject I wanted to talk about. Other speakers had talked about their work situation, unemployment, pensions, the obesity crisis and other serious subjects.

I couldn't come up with the right idea. I first thought I might talk about the libraries in Antwerp - but then I thought, how relevant is this really for the people in my class? A lot of them are working full time, they go to night classes once or twice a week as well, how much time would they actually be interested in spending on reading books from the library? (I still don't know the answer to that!)

Antwerpen China Light

By a happy accident I finally found my subject, about a week before I had to speak. I was sitting in a cafe reading the paper! It was DE MORGEN (dated 18.11.14) and the article was titled: "Voordurend gelukkig proberen zijn, maakt ons vooral ongelukkig" which I would translate roughly as 'The continuous pursuit of Happiness makes us mostly unhappy' (my own translation).

After reading the article I began my research.

Het Grote Geluksonderzoek

The article mentioned that there had been a large enquiry/research about Happiness (Het Grote Geluksonderzoek) here in Belgium at the University of Leuven. 7700 people took part!

Some of the questions were:

Why do happiness interventions not work for everybody in the same way?
What role does your own personality play?
Why are some people afraid to be happy?
Why should you do something for the happiness of another person?
Why do perfectionists always seem to be a bit unhappier than others?
Which of the huge amount of advice should you follow?

People were divided into 3 groups.

The first group was emailed on a daily basis and received a number of tips or motivational advice.
The second group was emailed on a weekly basis and received more detailed advice.
The third group had to wait 4 weeks before they received their first advice email.

This happened over a period of 4 weeks and the same people were contacted again after a longer period of time to see in which way these tips had any (lasting) influence/effect over their happiness

Apparently the people who received ongoing tips reported even after a longer time that they were still feeling happier.


Happiness is achievable, but not for everbody in the same measure!

Personal happiness is 50% due to Genetics (Temperament and Personality), 10% due to Circumstances and 40% achievable by your own Actions!

You can find the news article here (in Dutch). (You could use a translation site for your language)

There is also a radio report here (also in Dutch)

The newspaper article that I mentioned above, also went on to say... (Summary in my own words):

An American psychologist (Todd Kashdan) warned against the idea that we should all strive to be continuously happy. We need to be aware that it is perfectly normal to experience negative feelings as well. If we try to hide these emotions, than this would only lead to unhappiness instead. These negative emotions have an important purpose - they can help us to resolve problems by making us think about them.

Professor Patrick Luyten who lead the above research, warned that especially people with perfectionistic tendencies had trouble to accept that they could not always be happy. Good was never good enough for them. These people would benefit from professional help.

However, for the rest of us, receiving small tips or motivational sayings, could contribute to our own happiness, in small measures because it makes us reflect on life. It helps us appreciate the things we got and realizing that good is enough!

My talk also included material from numerous websites, for example: PBS Org which also confirmed the above percentage findings which personally I found interesting!

There Happiness was defined as: (direct quote from PBS.Org)
  • Happiness is made up of pleasure, engagement, and meaning
  • It involves both daily positive emotions and a global sense that life is worthwhile
  • People can accurately report their own levels of happines

Another interesting thing is that people are very good at adapting to new situations. This is why, for example, we do not actually get happier (in the long term), if something happens (once), because after a while we have gotten used to this one time occurrence. Also our expectations can change!

For anybody more interested in this vast subject, there are lots of sources of information, such as the internet, magazines or motivational books.

If you like doing quizzes, here is one for you: Oxford Happiness Questionnaire
It is best to do it once, and then again after a period of time, to see if anything has changed. It is not an absolute measure of Happiness, merely a tool!

In connection with this, there is another informative website: -

which, in turn by reading further lead me to something very interesting, the theory of FLOW!

About Flow and what it means to us creative people...

Even if you feel you do not have enough time to read all the links, I think you should read this one here!!!!!

Why? Because the theory of Flow came about through the famous psychologist Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi who investigated what happens when we give in to creativity and become totally engrossed in an activity.

Read it and see why crocheting/knitting/crafting/any creative activity can make you feel happy!

Wow! I didn't know about this, but I could totally understand how it related to me:

Do you loose track of time whilst you are engrossed in knitting?
Are you concentrated and aware of what you are doing?
Do you know how well you are working?
Are you not paying attention to outside distractions?
Are you not worried about anything going wrong?
Are you not feeling self conscious?
Is your perception of time altered?
Are you enjoying your knitting/crocheting for the sake of the activity itself?

See, I wasn't going to talk in front of the whole class about my obsession hobby of crochet and knitting... but I had to tell them about FLOW, and how creative pursuits could contribute to your own feeling of wellbeing, so yes, I did mention about how much I enjoy making things and that flow does exist, because I myself experiences it time after time again!

Do you know the result of my talk? The class (and my teacher) loved it, and told me afterwards what an interesting subject I had chosen and that they really enjoyed it.

This is why I chose to write about it here (and despite the fact that it felt a little bit of doing my research and homework all over again, going through articles and my own notes). I hope you managed to get something useful (for you) out of this!

It has given me pleasure writing about this (that is despite the fact that I got a most horrid cold that is making me feel ill, but I have to battle against it, because I need to get through my Dutch exams this week!)  :)

I just want to reassure you, I will soon write more about my current projects, today I made something very cute that is very seasonal that I want to share next... so check back again soon!

I look forward to your reactions, please leave your comments below, I love reading them!

Monday, 1 December 2014

Some Crochet Gifts and Knitted Hats and a quick trip to England!

Welcome back, my dear Friends,

December Greetings to you all! Hasn't time gone quickly!!! Thanks for your kind responses to my last post!

Finally time for a quick update!

We went for a quick trip this weekend to England, leaving in the very early hours of Saturday, arriving there mid morning and arriving back here in Belgium last night! A very short trip indeed!

Knitted Hats

First of all, I want to share my latest little knits with you:

Here are 2 more knitted hats I made during the last 2 weeks, using 2 different stitch patterns. I knit all my hats in the round, casting on with 4mm needles for the rib and then 5.5mm needles for the body of the hat. For these two hats I used shaping to create a rounder shape, the previous 2 hats were knit in a cylindrical shape and then sewn together.

(I already gave the Grey-Green Hat to my best friend as an early Christmas gift when I visited her on Sunday morning. She put it on and loved it straight away!)

2 Cloche Style knitted hats
All 4 knitted hats that I made in the last month (Rico Tasai yarn)

Making Crochet Mini Baskets

Before leaving for England, I wanted to make some little crochet baskets for gifts. Here you can see what was going on Friday, 28.11.14:

Crochet Squares for making a Mini Basket
The finished Crochet Mini Basket (but without lining)!
Work in progress!

I found the pattern for these pretty baskets here: weblink - please check it out!

I had actually saved the link for a while, and it seemed a great opportunity to make some for Christmas! But of course, they would make great gifts all year round. They are pretty easy to make, and you could adapt the pattern in different ways.

For example, I made some versions where the side panels are different from each other, using 2 contrasting colours. Likewise, you could make them larger or smaller!

Apart from crochet, you will need some very basic sewing skills, and a sewing machine would come in very handy, especially if you want to make a whole batch of these! The lining was added to the basket and then handsewn inside. (Of course it would be possible to make the Mini Basket without lining!)

Inner Cotton lining made especially for the Crochet Baskets
29.11.14 Breakfast at Costa's in England! ;)
01.12.14  Here are 3 of the completed Mini Baskets together with the new Phone Cosy

A festive little Star Garland

On Saturday we went to visit one of my daughters. I made her a Star Garland in her favourite colours to match her colour scheme! She was very happy with it.

Purple White Star Garland I made for my Daughter
Stars in the Window

My Ombre Crochet Phone Cosy

I got a new mobile phone whilst in England (I had the previous one for a few years). So on the car journey back to Belgium I set about making a custom Phone Cosy for it, to protect the phone. I had never made one before, and I didn't have a pattern either, but this was a great occasion to use my own designing skills!

I decided I wanted a sort of colourful Ombre effect and I used some of the Scheepjeswol Stone Washed yarn that I had taken along to make the Crochet Baskets and also the Star Garland.

I crocheted this in the round in one go, then adding the envelope flap which I sewed to the sides. It fits quite snug without being too tight and is easy to slide in/out of the cosy, even using one hand only. The flap prevents the phone from falling out accidentally. I find it both functional and pretty!


My new Crochet Ombre Phone Cosy - easy to retrieve the Phone

My Harlequin Blanket

A quick glimpse on the current progress - the blanket is getting bigger and quite heavy by now:

29.11.14 Harlequin Blanket - latest progress!

And here is something that made me smile (I mentioned it in my last post) - this time I managed to grab the camera and take a quick photo of Jasper settling himself onto my Harlequin Blanket when I started to work on it! This seems to be his way of saying, thanks for making me such a squishy blanket!!! ;)

Jasper stakes his claim on the blanket!!!

About using Tags

For my latest followers here is a little tip: I add tags to each post. This means you will be able to search for a specific tag (there is a search box on the right hand side, together with a 'cloud' of tags (each tag name is 'clickable' and will come up with posts that mention that specific tag name). So for example, you can find more about the Star Garland in a previous post which includes a link to the pattern. Give it a try!

...and a question to you fellow bloggers:

I do want to learn more things all the time, so I'm currently wondering how I can add a widget that lets me add a 'Pin button' to each photo of mine here on my blog (so anybody could add it to their PINTEREST boards) and also a sort of general 'add this to Pinterest' button (i.e. a blog post). I am completely self taught when it comes to blogging and I am still learning as I go along! This is one feature that I would like to be able to use, but so far I have not quite figured it out how to do this!

I recently joined Pinterest just so I can save some visual ideas. I just thought it would be nice for my followers to add any of my images to their collection, if they wanted to.

I am using Blogger. If you have successfully managed to do this to your own blog, then please would you contact me by email (and do not fill up the comment box with complicated instructions below), that way I would be able to email you back if I got a further question, if that is ok with you?
Please kindly contact me here: scutagal (at) yahoo <dot> co <dot> uk

Well, I do hope you enjoyed reading this latest post! Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to add your comments below, I love hearing from you all. Let me know what you liked best!

Happy December!!!!