Monday, 29 February 2016

17 ... !!!

Yesterday our big boy Matteo was celebrating his birthday .... 17 .... !!!!

Leaving aside all the emotions and memories of your (once!) little boy, I was concerned for the right gift to give Matteo on his big day .... not easy, as in Maputo we cannot find what he really likes (have you ever heard of Gunpla ????), so I had to think hard for a simple, but effective idea, until we go back to Italy in June and send a order through Amazon..... ;oD

Luckily, I remembered that Matteo loves foxes and he would love to have one as a pet .... Why not to crochet one for his B-Day???

On Pinterest I found what I needed ....

First , a fox gift card holder ! Free pattern found HERE !!!

.... I liked it most with a pair of green eyes !!!!
My husband put inside a couple of vouchers with the pictures of the Gunplas asked from Matteo as gifts for his birthday!

Second, a fox jar cosy !!!  Free pattern found HERE !!!
Matteo loves to draw and he is always around with his sketch book and pencils, so I thought a jar to put all his stuff was mandatory!!!
A difference with the original pattern : I didn't like the felt eyes, so I preferred to crochet a fox applique on the jar !! Free pattern found HERE !!!

The fox (a brooch) on the right, instead, is fruit of my imagination, but I never wrote a pattern for it!!!

Third and last : a fox basket, to put in all the gifts and our cards !!! Free pattern HERE !!!

The good thing is that Matteo appreciated all our efforts : PHEW!!!

.... and in the evening he blew candles on his favourite cake (with apples and no yeast, so that's why is so flat!) .....

.... Buon Compleanno Matteo !!!!
xxxx mamma

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

My first pair of two (straight) needle socks !!!

For Christmas I asked for a couple of books about knitted socks .... and Santa was so kind to gift me what I was asking for : Knit Your Socks on Straight by Alice Curtis and Getting Started Knitting Socks by Ann Budd !!!

Honestly, I was NEVER interested in learning how to knit socks (especially on DPNS), even because in the last 11 years I've been living in hot countries like Egypt, Indonesia and Mozambique, where I never used to/ or wear socks !!!! I just use some soft comfy pairs in the evening, while relaxing on the couch or because my men want the AC on .... I hate ACs and my remedies against the enemy are my cosy blankets and those socks !

But one day, my youngest sister asked me to try, because she would love to sell my handmade socks in her shop in Milano (vintage clothing) .... I was not able to say "NO WAY!" to her and I thought that the challenge was really welcome to get myself out my comfort zone, you know ... The only thing I was aware was that I was not knitting socks on double pointed needles, as I really don't like them !!

I've tried some simple patterns that I found on Pinterest (like this one), but I was not happy with all the sewing involved ... so I decided to learn from good books as the ones I listed above !

After various attempts ( I got even furious!!!) I was able to achieve the main target : my first pair of knitted socks ...

They are not perfect, but I'm a very proud mama !!! ;oD

I started my initiation to knitted socks just following the basic pattern "Your First Socks" found on "Knit Your Socks on Straight" by Alice Curtis .... I thought that this pattern should be easy peasy even for a beginner like me in the world of knitted socks ... WRONG !!!
If you never had knitted socks before, well the guidelines given in this book are not sufficient to start : have you ever picked up stitches for the gusset??? Well, I never did before and the few words (and not really good pics, sorry to say) given by the author were not really helpful ...

So my first try (above pics) has to be unraveled .... even because the instructions for the foot were just a hint (..."work even in stockinette stitch until foot measures about 8 inches from the back of the heel, or 2 inches shorter than desired length " .... shorter, but WHY????) and there were some errors in the stitch counting for the toe ... anyway ....

Luckily, I had the other book ("Getting Started Knitting Socks" by Ann Budd), that is really good to learn how to knit socks in the round (circular needles or dpns), but is even helpful, because of the pictures and the schemes and good written instructions, for socks on straight needles!!!

So, one day, I started again ... I had even to use a different pair of needles (no more 4,5 mm, but 5mm) and a different yarn (Balmy Pluss by B.B.B. filati in light blue) ...

... and with more patience and knowledge of what I was embracing I went on ...

... and knowing how to pick up stitches helped a lot to complete the heel, heel turn and the gusset ...

.... and even the foot was an easy ride at the end ....

... and the sewing was very quick, as you just need to crochet some slip stitches (a ridge of chains is formed on one side of each sock) ....

.... I tried the first sock on with great satisfaction ....

Worth it !!!!

xxxx Alessandra

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Postcards from My Little Crowd© : LOVE, #6

It has been a while since my last postcard (here) , so thankfully to Valentine's Day, I have a good excuse to send you a new one ...

... and this sweet girl is really eager to spread the love, even her own hair has the shape (top part) of mini hearts ...

.... and the bunting or even the pink heart on her dress are really good to underline her love wish ...

I think that Albert Camus was right when saying " I know of one duty, and that is to love", but to love others you have first to love yourself ....

Love yourself and the rest will follow !! Happy Valentine's Day to you all !!!

xxxx Alessandra

Thursday, 11 February 2016

A scarf full of love (and mini hearts)!!!!

Two weeks ago (more or less) my nonna Miranda ( my grandma) went to the hospital because of ischemia .... Luckily, after a week there, she came back home with no consequences (she is allergic to a lot of drugs and sometimes she finds the one that really hurts her ....)....
I was in contact with my mum everyday just to check how nonna was (Maputo is not really close to Milano...) and to avoid panic or guilt feelings as I couldn't be there, I started to crochet a long scarf, full of hearts (and in the colours my nonna likes most), to express my love for her ....
I hope to find a colleague of my husband going to Italy now for work reasons, so I will give him the scarf for my nonna (office headquarters are in Milano, so ...) ....

The pattern is not mine : you can have a look HERE , where you'll find a photo tutorial and a precious graphic scheme. Thank you Charlotte !!!

I've been working with different hook sizes (4mm for fringes, 4,25mm for base and 3,75mm for the hearts) and, so, with different (slightly) yarn weights :
-SNUGGLY DK from SIRDAR (shade 0385, blue twist) as the main colour for the scarf (almost two balls). The foundation chain was of 400 chains, if I recall well....
-MERINO BLEND from KATIA (color 5, navy blue)
-ATOMO from SANDILANE (color 26, pearl grey)
-BALMY PLUSS from B.B.B. FILATI (color 287, green)
-OXFORD from KATIA, variegated yarn with flecks (color 206 and color 207) for the fringes

When the main body of the scarf was completed, I decided to finish the long edges with a row of slip stitches (same yarn used for the fringes), as you can see

For the fringes I've followed two different patterns (#127 and #131), taken from the book "Around the corner CROCHET BORDERS" by Edie Eckman, where you can find both written patterns and graphic schemes!

Then, blocking moment ...

the scarf is 230cm long ...

.... and once dried ....

and on my favourite model ....

Ti voglio bene nonna Miranda!!
xxxx Alessandra

Monday, 8 February 2016

Make it ! The Cheeky Monkey Heart !!!

I made a first try crocheting this funny heart one year ago, but I was not happy with my attempts, so I left it in a corner of a drawer, where I collect all my crochet ideas and patterns ... they are so many, that I could write more than one book with all them!!! ;oD

Last week, I told myself to try again and crochet a better heart and during the weekend I DID IT !!!
So now I'm going to share with you my new Valentine's Day pattern :

... named the "CHEEKY MONKEY HEART" as you can point out a monkey face in it (or not?)!!!

Before starting to crochet this decorative heart, you need to gather :
  • some yarn (minimum 2 different colours), any kind or weight
  • crochet hook, size according to the type of chosen yarn
  • a pair of scissors
  • yarn needle
  • stitch markers (optional)
Please remember that I follow the US crochet terminology, thank you !!!

To start this project, you have to choose first the colour for the inner part of the heart, as we will start crocheting the 3 circles : I've been working with a 5,5mm hook and some grey yarn (acrylic from Indonesia).

Make a slip knot on your hook and chain 4, then insert the tip of the hook in the first chain made to form a ring. Chain 2 and work 12 double crochet (=DC) into the ring. Close this first round with a slip stitch in the top of the first DC done :

The second round is done as follows : chain 2 + 2 DC in same stitch and then 2 DC in each following stitch, so that you will end with a total of 24 DC. Close this round with a slip stitch in the top of the first DC, cut yarn (leaving a long tail) and fasten off :

This first circle will find it's place in the top left part of your heart!

Now start the second circle and complete the first round, as before :

Starting the second round of the second circle you are even going to start the join between the two circles (five stitches are involved). In fact, just after the chain 2 you'll crochet the first DC in the same stitch, but stop when the first half is done : at this point, insert the tip of your hook under the first DC (see the above picture for the stitches notation!) :

and wrap once the yarn around your hook and pull it through the stitch of the first circle (you'll have a loop)

and pull this loop through the two loops of the second half of your first DC to be completed

First DC and join done !!!
Repeat the same process for the following 4 DC, remembering that you are working the second round of a DC circle : 2 DC in each stitch!!
you'll have something like the following :

The 6th stitch shown in the above picture is part of the same stitch as the 5th one, but it's not joined to the first circle!

You can complete the second circle as usual and after the closing slip stitch, cut yarn (leaving a long tail) and fasten off :

The second circle will overlap the first one and it is located on the top right of your heart!

Start the third (and last!) circle. After the first round is done, you will join it to both the previous circles, as done between the first and second. The first 6DC of the third circle will join 3 DC on the second circle (first) and then 3 DC on the first circle. These DC are the ones included between the two stitch markers in the below picture:

So, after you've joined these stitches

you can complete the third circle (slip stitch, cut yarn and fasten off), which will overlap the other two and turn upside down the motif created

At this point, you have to change the colour to crochet the edge of the heart. The third circle can be divided into two groups of nine stitches each and you'll start to crochet on the top of the left side of the circle. In This first stitch you will join the new yarn and chain 3, then you'll make your first treble (=Tr) in the same stitch :

and so you can follow this pattern for the next 8 stitches :

  • Tr
  • hTr (half treble)
  • DC
  • DC
  • DC
  • hTr
  • Tr
  • double treble (wrap yarn around hook 3 times)
and you'll see something like this along the side of the third circle

Continue to crochet, this time on the side of the second circle, the following pattern :
  • triple treble (wrap yarn around hook 4 times)
  • double treble
  • Tr
  • Tr
  • hTr
  • DC
  • hDC (half double crochet)
  • hDC
  • hDC
  • hDC
  • DC
  • DC
  • DC
  • hDC
  • hDC
  • SC (single crochet)
  • SC
.... and the right side of the heart is done ....

You have to repeat the same patterns (symmetry is required!) on the left side of your heart, reading both patterns from the bottom to the top, this time !!!

To close the edge, just make a slip stitch in the top of the first treble!
You can even decide if to keep or not a long tail : I've used it (after chaining 5 stitches) to attach a little tassel ! ;oD

If you knot together the tails left at the end of both circle 1 and 2 you can make a loop to hang your cheeky monkey heart ...

the mini tassel was made just wrapping some red yarn around my fingers (20 times) !!

Different yarns and  colours combo make a difference :

Have fun and make a lot of these hearts even for a lovely bunting !!!!


.... it seems it was a good idea to leave this pattern in a drawer for the right year and moment!!!!

xxxx Alessandra


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