Wednesday, 25 January 2017

The Story of Des

This is a short story, about a creature who is very special to me. 

In the last week we were talking with our future exchange students about embracing the things that go wrong, the mistakes, and the embarrassments, as these are the moments that provide not only the best learning experiences, but the best and most memorable stories. I've been thinking about this story for months, and now I think I have the right words :) 

Meet Des.

Des came into this world with some misfortune. My nan and aunt were doing a lot of ceramics work at the time of his creation, and after being slipcast, Des's pieces went into the kiln for firing. Something went wrong in that violent heat, and he fell over, sustaining terrible, project-ending injuries. 

My aunt assumed he would be heading into the broken pottery bin, which is fair enough - he wasn't as perfect as their work usually was. But my nan saved him. He was still perfect to her, even with his imperfections.

So she repaired Des's broken foot with a cast. 

She painted him beautifully (as always), picking out his cuts and scrapes with red paint, and even made some miniature bandaids to cover his wounds. 

She sewed him some tiny warm stripey flannelette pyjamas. My Pa, a talented woodworker, made Des this special stand, with a built-in crutch since he had a broken foot. 

And then Nan named him Des. Why Des? Because he had a Des-aster Day. 

My nan and pa have now both passed away. We still all have things that they created in their busy, crafty lives - a stamped copper coffee table; a snoozing cow on the door lintel; miniature dresses for dolls the same as we children wore; beautifully turned spare toilet roll holders; crochet blankets ... 

But I think the most precious thing I have of theirs is Des. He sits up on my piano, maybe getting a little dusty, but always smiling. 

He is always here to remind me that no matter what: 

everyone, everything, every moment, 

has a place, a value, a use, and a beauty, 

even if it's a bit broken.

- Michelle xx

Friday, 20 January 2017

Ta-dah! Winter Solstice blanket

Hello Hello!

I hope you are all doing well and you enjoy crafty times during this winter days (or summer days depending on which side of the world you are on). 

In December I finished another star blanket and man, I am so much in love with it! It will be a gift for my cousin's baby which will be born in April. 

The colors just happed - I saw them in my stash and it just clicked. I have to confess I asked my husband if they actually really fitted together before I started though... I don't always have the best eye for colors which fit together (as long as they are a great mix of colors, I don't mind so much if they fit in a aesthetic color point of view). Someone on instagram suggestes that the blanket looks like the Winter Solstice so I used that as the blanket name. Seemed really fitting considering the colors and the time of the year.

The blanket was a true yarn eater! I started to crochet on it in November and had to take a longish break because I had to order the last two colors again. That said, I won't order with Deramores again. The price for the yarn was good but first it took ages for the yarn to arrive in Germany - no wonder when one considers that it was sent to Sweden first and then to Germany. Oh my. Second, the yarn arrived damanged. They send the yarn in simple plastic bags and one was cut during the delivery - the cut of the bag also cut one skein into pieces. They offered to replace the skein but so far nothing has arrived. I had a read through the comments on their facebook page and it seems I am not the only one with problems. Such a pity as they used to be such a good company to order yarn from!

I used Stylecraft Special DK for the blanket and the Rainbow Ripple pattern from Celeste Young. I have make this blanket a couple of times before but this time I didn't use a single color to divide the other colors. I wasn't sure it would work at first, but it really did in the end.

Obviously the blanket will need blocking soon. I am not sure about it's size but it's at least 120 cm from one side to the other...

What are you busy making at the moment?

Take care

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Work in Progress: Winter on Spiekeroog Blanket


Happy new year! I hope you all have an amazing 2017 ahead of you!

If you are following us on instagram, you know that I currently working on the Summer in Swanage blanket from LookatwhatImade! I started while we were on holidays on Spiekeroog over new years - Spiekeroog is an island in the North Sea (where we got married in 2015). That is why I call this blanket Winter on Spiekeroog instead of Summer in Swanage. :)

It is a joy to see the blanket grow as it changes its look with each new color. On the same hand, it makes me doubt my abilites... 

I hate sewing crochet pieces together - granny squares are alright but different forms... oh my. I am never happy with the way it looks like in the end. I have to confess I had a couple of angry fits while sewing the beach houses together. It's probably just me who sees that the sewing isn't too pretty but still. A test of my patience and my love for perfection...

Last night I realized that I forgot a color altogether. There was a greenish-blue in the middle of the waves and I simply didn't see it in the pattern. As you can imagine, I wasn't happy when I discovered it... It is very hard to undo parts of the blanket as there are always two strands of yarn used at the same time and every six rows these strands are of different colors. If I undid it, it would result in yarn vomit with heaps of yarn loose. I asked the collective brain of instagram crocheters and there were so many good ideas! Many called for undoing it, but as I said, I don't think it would work. Other suggested a longer sky part but I don't have any sky blue left. As Special DK isn't sold in the shops here, it would have ages for the new yarn to arrive from the UK (plus postage for just one or two skeins would be soo expensive compared to the price of the yarn itself). So I went for the third suggestion and crocheted a sunset on top! 

The sunset is made of four different reds and looks pretty cool. I am still getting used to the look of the blanket (the sunset changed the look of the blanket completely - it is a really different blanket than the one the original pattern would have made). 

At the moment I am busy sewing in ends before I will move onto the border. When it is done, I will take the blanket outside to take better pictures. It is really hard to take good pictures at the moment as the weather here in Dortmund results in overcast and darkish days. Thus the pictures don't really to the colors justice!

What are you working on atm?

Take care

P.S. In case you are wondering: I am not using the intended yarn but Stylecraft Special DK instead.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Wrap With Love - Caring for "Cold Humanity"

Welcome back! We've had a lovely restful Christmas break, refreshed and rejuvenated, and ready for another great year of blogging. I have so much to tell you about! But, I'll have to break it up over a few weeks :P To start with, here's one of the projects we worked on over the holidays!

For years my Mum has supported an Australian charity called Wrap with Love, which makes blankets for cold people around the world. She has a team of knitters who make squares and drop them off, and then Mum sews them up into blankets and sends them on :)

I... can't knit. Well, I can knit simple garter stitch very badly, but I don't enjoy it - attempts at knitting usually end with sweaty, red, cranky me in a great tangle of yarn. Maybe one day I'll get the hang of knitting!

Image (c)
But I can crochet! I tried quite a lot of different patterns to make 25cm/10" squares out of my fave Stylecraft Special DK, and finally settled on the Blanket Stitch (also called Sedge Stitch - thanks to Jodie from Lupey Loops!!). By doing them all the same, and adding a simple sc edging row to each square, they were super quick to make and even easier to put together. My mum has now decided she's not knitting anymore because the crochet version works up faster!! Together we made a whole blanket (crocheting in front of the tennis, when we felt like it) over the last two weeks, which I joined with slip stitch in the back loops to frame each of the squares.

The texture of the blanket stitch is beautiful - it is solid (no holes!) and the gentle bobbliness makes for a very cosy feeling blanket. It is also a very rhythmic pattern - after making 76 squares, I can also read the subtitles while watching Turkish soap operas on Netflix while crocheting!

I used a 4mm hook for mine, but Mum found that she needed a 3.5mm hook to get the same tension; so I suggest make one with a 4mm and measure it - it should be about 25cm/10". If it needs to be more than 1.5cm/0.5" smaller go down a hook size, or go up a hook size if it's too small. Don't worry about variations between the square sizes smaller than that; peer pressure is a powerful force in a blanket ;) 

Making these blankets are a great stashbuster, or way of clearing out your yarn box at the end of a project. Just join your next yarn on with a Russian join or magic knot, and keep on going! I made 21 squares out of the leftovers from my Carousel kit! You can see in the blanket photos in this post the colour changes. 

If you would like to make squares or blankets for Wrap With Love, or a charity closer to your home, here is my pattern. You can also find, favourite or queue it on Ravelry here:


4mm hook (or hook size to achieve desired square size)
~50g DK Yarn
Yarn Needle

All stitches are in US terminology
sl st = slip stitchch = chain stitchsc = single crochetdc = double crochet


Row 1: 
Ch 48. In 3rd ch from hook, 2dc. *skip 2 ch, (1sc, 2dc) in next ch*. Repeat * to * to the last chain; in the last ch, 1sc. Ch2, turn.

Row 2:
2dc in first sc (that is, the last sc you made in the previous row). *skip 2 stitches, (1sc, 2dc) in next st (which will be the sc from the previous row)*. Repeat * to * to the end of the row; 1sc into space between 2ch and 2dc on the previous row (not into a stitch or into the chains). Ch2, turn. 

Rows 3-30:
Repeat Row 2. Do not fasten off. 

Tip: The easy way to count rows is to count the "bobbles" that poke out the wrong side of each row - you'll have 15 across, and 15 up on each side once you have 30 rows! You also finish in the opposite corner to the starting tail.


Note: I've worked the edging in a different colour so you can see the stitches more easily. It's easier (and fewer ends) to just keep working with the same colour!

Ch1 and turn your work 90 degrees clockwise (not over! you're still working in the same direction as you were when you finished row 30). 

sc into the side of the last sc you made in Row 3. *2sc into 2ch sp, 1sc into side of next sc*. Repeat to end of row. In the last ch2 space, 3sc.

Turn 90 degrees again so you're now working along the other side of your Row 1 chains, and sc into the first ch (the same one you did the first two dc into). *2sc into 2ch sp, 1sc into next ch*. Repeat to end of row. In the last ch2 space, 3sc.

Turn 90 degrees again, and sc into the side of the first sc. *2sc into 2ch sp, 1sc into side of next sc*. Repeat to end of row. In the last ch2 space, 3sc.

Turn 90 degrees again - we're back to the top! sc in each stitch, and 2sc in the last stitch. slst to the first sc, cut your yarn and weave in the ends.


You need 28 squares to make a blanket - 4 wide and 7 long. Join however you like! Whip stitch, mattress stitch, sc, sc or slst in the back look - the choice is yours. 

Once joined and your ends are all woven in, work a simple sc border around the edge of the blanket to support the seams and stop the squares stretching too much. You can do a more elaborate border if you wish, but that's yarn that could be making another whole square!