Tuesday, 30 September 2014

A Walk in the Woods, a good day for customers and some knitting

Hi! Good to see you back here! I hope you had a nice weekend!

This Sunday we went for a nice walk in the woods! Only this time I remembered to bring the camera, so you can all come along (on this virtual tour)! We went to one of the National Parks in Kempen (a lovely area in Belgium) - near a place called Donderslag (Thunderclap!).

This is my favourite photo of the walk!
The walk went through woodland, along fields, through wetland, heather, along a pretty lake. We chose to do the 8.5km trail (which was marked in blue on the map and also along the paths).

Start of our walk
I soon stopped to take more photos, there were toadstools, spiders and lots of acorns to admire.
Cute Toadstool
This is my wood - from a spider's view
After we came to the edge of the forest (see first photo) we walked along some corn fields.  I soon spotted a dash of colour in the grass along the side!
Dainty harebell flowers

A field of corn - very tall!
The corn stood over 2m tall! A bit further we walked along a huge ant hill and I spotted another colourful flower!

Purple Cornflower
We walked through the woods again and the ground became wetter. It was really funny, every time we approached a big and deep puddle, there were a dozen or more little frogs jumping into the water for cover! I tried to take a photo but failed! They were too fast! Finally we had this vista in front of us!
The Lake
View through the trees
A few more flowers...
Wild Camomile
Until we came towards a field of green beans! Belgians love their fine green beans!
A Field with Green Beens
Before the last stretch of the walk...
What a mighty tree!
Along Birch trees
...back to the car park with the map where we started! We were lucky with the weather!
The map with our walk marked in Blue (8.5km)
Afterwards, we drove to the nearest small town (called Meeuwen) and sat outside a roadside Ice Salon to enjoy some very special ice cream as refreshment.
Special Ice Cream and Coffee
I hope you enjoyed this little journey! Believe me, I limited the photos, I took quite a lot. The scenery was quite varied and it was very enjoyable. There was so much to see and experience.

Knitting WIP and Harlequin Blanket

This post wouldn't be complete without any mention of making things!

On Saturday I went back to the Lana Wool Shop that I mentioned before. I had received an invitation for the Day of the customer (Dag van de klant).

Here are some additional photos of the window displays. You can see a customer version of this blanket (A recent mystery Knit Along Afghan Blanket by Martin Storey for Rowan):
Rowan weblink
Ravelry link

Rowan Blanket in the Window display at Lana
Lana Shop, Antwerpen
Inside the shop the owner, Lea was holding a knitting cafe (Breicafe) for the customers. We sat around a table and enjoyed refreshments, there was coffee and Cava, Cake and Belgian chocolates. It was lovely to be with so many like minded people who were making some awe inspiring knitting projects from Rowan, having bought the wool here at Lana. Many of the people present had also followed classes with Lea. Maybe I should enrol, too?

I had decided on Friday evening that I wanted to make a sort of Loop scarf, so I cast on! (Below you can see my Autumn Loop Scarf and the Granny Stitch Crochet Scarf of Many Colours (made with 7 different colours of variegated yarn from Lang) that I both made about 9 months ago. I used them for inspiration and size guide.) I used RICO Melange Chunky yarn (size 6-7mm needles - I used 9mm!). I took this with me to the shop to continue knitting there.

The idea: Knitting a Loop Scarf
On Saturday and Sunday I did quite a lot of knitting (and hardly any crochet!), and this resulted in the scarf on the left below, shown here knitted up with 2.5 balls of yarn.

Laying it on the floor to photograph I played about with it and changed my mind about WHAT I was making! I thought I might as well go for it and use the 6 balls of yarn I had (instead of the 3 that might have been enough for the Loop Scarf). I decided that I would make a Shrug instead! I love the yarn so much, the colours are fantastic and I know I would love to wear it this season, so no time to waste!

So I cast on anew (with double the stitches) and began again.... (see right side, approx 2+ balls of yarn used)
Here's one I made earlier...
The reason I kept the first version was that I could do a sort of try out in front of the mirror to get an idea how large it might be when finished. Obviously it had to be unravelled so I can use the yarn for further knitting!

Oh, and look at that! No chance of photographing the knitting, Cleo my cat got in on the act!

Cleo inspects my knitting!
What do you mean - selfie?
 (We all know that cats own the internet!!!)

Here's a quick peek at the Harlequin Blanket today before I went to the knitting cafe this afternoon!

Harlequin Blanket 30.09.14
Adding green yarn...

Well done! You arrived at the end of this post. Thank you for reading this, I hope you found it worth your while. Hopefully you might feel refreshed and inspired (a little bit) and take this feeling with you whatever you will be doing next!

And if you want to comment, then please do so! I love reading your comments, it's like getting postcards from all over the world! :)

Thursday, 25 September 2014

From triangles to hexagons, plus a little blanket update

Hello again!

For all of you who managed to plough through my last blog post, you deserve a warm thanks for taking the time to read it! I know it was a bit much to digest in one go! It's just that so much happend in such a short time, I didn't get a chance to blog inbetween! So, here is a quick new post!

You may remember that on Saturday I started crocheting triangles with Scheepjeswol Stone Washed Yarn using a 3.5mm hook as usual. Well, after making 12 triangles which I had finished by late Tuesday night, I had the task of crocheting them together, which I did yesterday. No, these triangles were not for some bunting (great idea!), but for something else entirely! I had decided that I wanted to make a Hexagon (shaped) cushion!

This morning I had only the following steps left to do:  Sewing the (used) cushion pad into a hexagon shape (done quickly by hand), then pinning the 2 sides together to check if it is possible to insert the cushion pad inside - this worked best by using the entire 25cm length of my zip, then handsewing the zip into the 2 halves of the cover, then crocheting the 2 cover sides to each other (this worked like a treat using the little stitch holes of the bottom rows of the triangles and looked so neat when finished) and as a finishing touch, I made a quick tassel because I had long ends left over after sewing and did not want to waste them. And because tassels rock!!! :)

This is what the finished Hexagon cushion looks like - it has a light side and a dark side (a bit like all of us, haha). I used 12 of the available 16 yarn colours for the triangles , plus light grey and black for crocheting them together (because initially I wanted the raised seems to show on the outside, later I preferred them hidden on the inside - I always try to leave my design options open!).

Ta-daah! My Hexagon Cushion (with Tassel)
... come to the Dark side! (The reverse of my cushion)
Due to the fact that I converted an old square cushion pad from 45 cm into a new hexagon shape, measuring 20cm on the sides (or 40cm across the middle axis), this cushion has achieved a lovely plumpness! (The new cushion pad I had bought for this purpose went instead into an existing cushion which also looks plumper now, thus solving 2 problems in one go!

Guess what? In another life we want to be bunting!
Playing with Triangles
Experimenting with layouts
This morning: finished front and back covers, drawing a Hexagon shape onto cushion pad
Can we become the outside?
Pssst! Nobody will know we got a fancy trim on the inside...
Finished cover from inside
Here is where my original inspiration came from - Ingrid from ingthings had made a crochet cushion composed out of triangles and half triangles (she has included a basic pattern which was to crochet 41 stitches and at the beginning of each row to skip the first stitch, with each row resulting in one stitch less than the previous row. So simple!

I adapted my pattern as follows: I made 45 stitches because I wanted the bottom of the triangle to measure 20 cm (thinking of my cushion pad of 40-45cm). The beauty of this pattern is that you can adapt it to any size you want, just make sure to swatch your chosen yarn to work out the (uneven) number of stitches required! You could make a Triangle cushion, even a Star cushion! The Triangle cushion could be a green Xmas Tree (you could go mad with decoration it with simple crochet appliques...) You see, there are lots of possibilities!

I leave with with a short glimpse at my Harlequin Blanket, I'm feeling very happy with the current colours I am adding (the Raspberry Red (at the top row) is from the Hobbybeurs!), of course I did less on it during the last few days because I concentrated on making triangles! Now I can get back to my blanket!

What are you busy making? I think there are a number of you making blankets, it seems like now is a good time to do this. The weather has returned to a more normal temperature, with rain yesterday, but luckily there is a bit of sunshine coming through my windows here, hooray!

If you managed to read this far, thanks for reading, lovely to have you here! Maybe you would like to leave a comment? If any of you want a further explanation, please feel free to ask! (I'm not always the best person to document all my design processes, ironical, since this is exactly one of the reasons I write this blog - I do want to make a note so other people could benefit from it!)

I love hearing from you all and enjoy reading your comments!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Hobbybeurs Hasselt, a quick Flower Doily, a festival and my love of triangles

Hello my crochet friends!

It is time for another post! I got so much to show and tell you about, so please grab a cup of tea or coffee and make yourselves comfortable! I hope you all had a nice week including last weekend! Last week it was very hot here in Belgium, back to summer weather (27-30 degrees)!

Here is the Flower Power Dishcloth, a very quick make that I saw on Helda's Blog on Sunday morning (after a  great night out on Saturday, read more about that further down!) and just had to crochet for myself! I love these kind of challenges! You can find the original pattern on Ravelry. I recommend it to you, give it a go! Like Helda, I used Rico Cotton.

My very own Flower Power Dishcloth (or Doily)
After this happy make, it was time to go out, so Sunday afternoon we went to the Hobbybeurs in Hasselt (Belgium) which is more than an hours drive away. Unfortunately I missed going the year before (when it was held in Mechelen which is closer by to where I live). I was lucky that my partner agreed to take me there and his mother accompanied me, which was fun, as she also does a lot of different needle crafts! Whilst the men went for a nice long walk, we walked around the Hobbybeurs. We spent 3 hours there and the time went really quickly. There was such a lot to see!

Here is the catalogue and the back of the flyer which shows a variety of crafts.

At the entrance we were give a goodie bag containing an Embroidery magazine, a Papercraft Punch and some pretty wooden beads (all worth Euro 12, but the entrance fee was almost as high: Euro 11 (but we saved Euro 1.50 with a special voucher)

Goodie Bag containing 3 gifts: Magazine, Beads and a Punch
This is the very first thing that really got my interest - a beautiful floral quilt. My first reaction was to guess Amy Butler, but when I asked the ladies at the stand, they told me it was Kaffe Fassett! (He has got his very own website (of course!) here!) I've been a fan of his since the Eighties! He is such an inspiration, I love his celebration of colour!

A Kaffe Fassett Quilt Design
A little bit further I was mesmerized by these pretty things here!

Some hanging Crochet Mandala Ornaments
These ornaments below were smaller and featured yarn being wrapped around a wooden ring. They were sold in kit form.

Some smaller Crochet Ornaments
Later on we came across this amazing stall with handcrafted Teddy Bears - the husband made the bears and his wife crocheted (and sewed) some tiny clothes to fit them. I admired the clothes and she told me she used a 0.6mm hook! I was in awe! I can only imagine how difficult it must be to even see the stitches, never mind crocheting into them!
Handsewn Teddy Bears...
... and tiny crocheted clothes to fit them!
I am sorry that I did not take photos of more stalls, but in the end I put the camera into my bag and forgot about it more or less. There was so much to see and things were constantly tempting, so I needed my hands free to explore! I simply got carried away! There were not as many stalls with wool/yarn as I had anticipated, but then again, that might have been a good thing! We tried to look at everything, but it was nearly impossible. There were papercrafts, fabric, sewing machines, beads, felting, mosaics, decorating of wood and cardboard, together with tools, books and so much more. Many stalls also gave demonstrations or tiny taster sessions for people to have a go themselves! Luckily there was also a good cafe to enjoy a nice cup of coffee and sit down for 20 minutes!

Here is my 'loot' from the exhibition: 9 x balls of Stylecraft DK in additional colours for my Harlequin Blanket, and one very large Ball of Scheepjeswol Chunky yarn (probably to make a warm cowl). Isn't it funny how I ended up choosing more Autumn colours this time? (To clarify, I had ordered the previous selection online in the Spring!). I loved seeing all the different shades in person, so much better than looking at a computer screen. So now I can play with 30 colours for my blanket! :)
My yarn loot from the exhibition!
I discovered some fantastic fabric in amazing prints by Tim Holtz which is his new Ecletic Elements line. (Read more here!) I also noticed a lot of papercrafts in the same line, it really caught my eye! I only bought a tiny swatch as a souvenir, plus some cute ribbons I liked. I really like fabric with printed designs such as measuring tapes, clocks, etc.
My tiny sewing loot!
At the exit, a quick pose and photo opportunity in front of a most colourful quilt!

I love colour!!!!
Do we have a minute? Oh, go on, just one more!

Star Quilt
You may ask, what has been happening with my Harlequin Blanket? Well, here is a quick visual update, it is growing steadily. Though, due to the very hot temperatures last week I suddenly had a 3 day bout of suffering from terrible headaches which really impacted on my amount of crocheting, something that had not happened before. Luckily now the weather is cooler again, things are back to normal and I'm feeling ok.

Harlequin Blanket 22.09.14
Come a bit closer...

now measuring a good 30cm high

Going back to Friday, I made another trip into Antwerp, on a glorious day of sunshine, and went to another wool shop, Lena & Zasa. Unfortunately for us customers, this shop was open for the last day, because the owner is following a new career. There were some good reductions and I managed to scoop up some exotic finds, a number of Mohair yarns from British company Colinette and Japanese ITO and HABU. The colour combination of the 2 skeins from Colinette made me think of Rhubarb and Custard, yumm! Good enough to eat, haha!

Links for ITO Sensai, a silk mohair yarn - find out more here
HABU: more info. Plus of course, Colinette - click here!

As you might know, I am trying to follow so many blogs and I love reading all of them! (Yes, that includes yours!) However, since we went to England I have gotten behind, still trying to catch up as best as I can. Often I have to remind myself to keep crocheting, because I get so distracted (in a lovely way) by what I am reading! Does this ever happen to you, too?

I have got a lovely namesake in Holland who blogged about this: Triangles and mosquitos! (It's also one of my very first blogs I loved reading and it has helped with my Dutch, too! Thanks, Ingrid!) This was on Friday night, when I read it.

By Saturday it was decided, I was also going to crochet some nice triangles of my own! I grabbed my trusted Scheepjeswol Stone Washed and started.

In the afternoon I had to take it with me in the car, as my partner had told me about an exciting and free Open Air Festival called BAROEG happening in Rotterdam (NL), featuring Heavy Metal and Electronic music. We went there for the latter and had a fantastic time, a whole afternoon/evening of dancing to some of our favourite artists who played live there. The setting was great, it was in a large park, with tents for the events, plus plenty of stalls for food and drink, and other things such as clothing etc. I just read here that it was a great success with 7,500 people visiting and 170 voluntary workers!

Well, at least I had time to crochet on the journey! :)

Latest WIP - Crochet Triangles
So there you have it: Friday to the closing down sale in Antwerp, Saturday to Rotterdam Open Air Festival with crochet in the car, and Sunday a visit to the Hobbybeurs in Hasselt! Yesterday=Monday was spent doing  Spring Autumn cleaning in the kitchen and catching up on a lot of washing, as well as having a major yarn moment - spending a long time organizing my yarn into clear bags and boxes to be stored away, as we seem to have reached a peak limit in the living room! This was both tricky and rewarding in the end. Plus there was my Dutch class until late (coming home at 11pm). So, you can see why there haven't been any blog posts inbetween. At least you got a bumper edition for your kind patience! :)

I tried to do a bit of research for you and have included some links in the text if you want to do some further reading!

I hope you enjoyed reading this! Please leave me some comments, I love to hear from you all and find out what you think! And feel free to start following me via Bloglovin or Google+, that way you don't miss a post! (And thanks to all the people who already do, you're fantastic!!!)

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Quick South Bay Shawlette finished, Harlequin Blanket and Postcards from Antwerp


It seems that summer has returned! Yesterday it was around 27 degrees as I went out in the afternoon to go to my knitting/crochet cafe! The weather was absolutely gorgeous!

Here a quick glimpse at my latest finished project - a quick version of the South Bay Shawlette using only one 100g skein of Fenna yarn (a true One Skein Project!).

South Bay Shawlette Neckwarmer quick version (front view)
Thanks for all your lovely comments last time! We had a great visit to England, the weather was fine, just right, maybe a bit cloudy at times, but we also had plenty of sunshine on Saturday. We managed to go out and visit Manchester with the second oldest daughter and my son, who was celebrating his birthday that day!
(He was very pleased with his new scarf and hat set that I gave him as a present - see my previous post! Now my daughter has also requested a scarf for her upcoming birthday!!! Looks like I will be keeping busy!)

I took the camera with me, and quickly snapped this old building in Manchester before we disappeared into the Arndale Shopping Centre. Then I forgot to take many more pictures as we were pretty busy! I noticed later on the way back how many new buildings have sprung up in Manchester, so old buildings like this will soon be gone!

Old Building behind the Arndale Shopping Centre in Manchester, UK
Back to the South Bay Shawlette which I just started on Friday evening, before our England trip. I managed to work quite a bit on it during our long travels and by Monday morning I only had to put on the last fninishing touches to make it complete. First of all, I only used one of the 2 skeins that I had. I knew that for a full size shawl I would have needed more yarn. However, I wanted to see all the lovely colours! What better way than to wear it as a neck scarf with the triangle facing frontwards! Also I wanted this to be different from my previous versions. The shawlette was large enough to fasten with a knot, but I remembered that I had some pretty buttons (that remind me of traffic lights!). I made a test by attaching some buttons with yarn scraps to see how best to fasten them. When I was happy with this, I sewed on 5 buttons along one side, see below.

Adding my 'Traffic Light' Buttons
Checking where to add Tassels
I had slightly more than 11m of yarn left, which I used to make some tassels, trying to mix the colours for each tassel.

The finished Shawlette viewed fastened at the back
This is the Shawlette, to be worn as a neckwarmer. The buttons can be fastened through the pattern loops in a multitude of ways, so quite adaptable! Finished size: approx 76cm wide x 38cm long (43cm including tassels).

I already wore this to my Dutch class on Monday evening and was very happy with it. It looks colourful and pretty! It also kept me warm on my way home late that night when it got a bit chilly!

Below you can see my progress with the Harlequin Blanket, adding new colours with my own 'Rule of 3' - meaning that ideally the last 3 colours should go well together! We'll see how that works out! ;)

Harlequin Blanket 15.09.14
Harlequin Blanket 16.09.14
Close up of the Blanket
Harlequin Blanket 17.09.14

I leave you with a few photos I took yesterday between 5.30 and 7pm.
I will call them Postcards from Antwerp! I am thinking of showing you more of the places around me and I'm hoping that you might be interested? (I just have to remember to pack the camera together with the crochet project before I go out!!!)

Antwerp yesterday around 6pm!
(old) Justitiepalais, Antwerp
Wool Shop Lana, Anselmostraat, Antwerp
Flowers at a square (Ridderveld) in Wilrijk, Antwerp
Route: getting off the tram near the old Justitiepaleis in Britselei (There is a new building now in another location, which looks very modern, you can find a multitude of images here! They couldn't be more different from each other!), walking along the side of it into Anselmostraat, to visit Lana, one of my favourite haunts (such a brilliant Wool and Craft shop, stocking many of my favourite quality yarns, such as Rowan and Noro!), later getting off a bus at Ridderveld, Wilrijk where I saw these pretty flowers! Then walked until I reached my next connecting bus stop and caught the bus home, and continued on my blanket a bit more!

How was your week so far? I feel that I still have many things to catch up on, from washing to catching up on my blog reading, not to mention 3 month's worth of craft/crochet magazines which I brought back with me from England!!!

Please leave me a comment! I love reading each and every one of them (and the magazines can wait after all!). I'm happy to see that more people started to follow my blog which is really kind of you, thanks for taking the time to read it! And don't be shy - write a quick hello! :)