Monthly Archives: June 2013

A Granny Square Blanket for the living room

Lounge Blanket 2Back in May I had finished making a large granny square blanket for a friend, and decided that it was about time I made one for us!  I was about 20% through this blanket when my beloved started bringing in a heap of orders for Angry Bird Hats….BirdsPigs….and more Pigs….. So our blanket went into hibernation!

In the last 2 weeks I have refused to make any hats and so have finally managed to finish our blanket.  I’m very pleased with it, as the colors go perfectly with our colour scheme……reds, browns, creams….lovely warm colors for this wintery time of year.

Lounge Blanket 3Below is the pattern that I used.  It is highly modified from a pattern I found on the internet on the Garn Studio site here.  The reason I modified the pattern was that it seemed to have a few errors, but mainly because I don’t cope very well with things that are uneven.  I didn’t like going from stitches dividable by 4 to a pattern dividable by 3.  I also using a different method to join my squares, and came up with my own borders.

So, if you like the original, knock your sock off 🙂  If you’re like me and have to have it ‘mathematically’ even, you can follow as below or download a printable version here: Granny Square Blanket Pattern

Granny Square Blanket

MEASUREMENTS
Width: approx 90 cm / 35½”
Length: approx 110 cm / 43 3/8”

MATERIALS
Moda Vera 8ply DK Wool:
350 g No 08, Cream
200 g No 24, Brown
200 g No 09, Ruby
200 g No 68, Shitake

ABBREVIATIONS
Ch = Chain.
Dc = Double crochet.
Rep = Repeat.
Sc = Single crochet.
Sk = Skip
Sl st = Slip stitch.
Sp = Space.
St(s) = Stitch(es).

INSTRUCTIONS
Note: Ch 3 at beg of round counts as dc.
Use 5mm (H) Hook
US Stitches

COLOR COMBINATION
Square 1:
Round 1-2: Brown
Round 3: Cream
Round 4-5: Shitake
Round 6-8: Cream

Square 2:
Round 1-2: Ruby
Round 3: Shitake
Round 4-5: Brown
Round 6-8: Cream

Square 3:
Round 1-2: Brown
Round 3: Cream
Round 4-5: Ruby
Round 6-8: Cream

Square 4:
Round 1-2: Shitake
Round 3: Brown
Round 4-5: Ruby
Round 6-8: Cream

Square 5:
Round 1-2: Ruby
Round 3: Brown
Round 4-5: Shitake
Round 6-8: Cream

Square 6:
Round 1-2: Shitake
Round 3: Ruby
Round 4-5: Brown
Round 6-8: Cream

BLANKET
Crochet a total of 30 squares, 5 of each color combination – see above.

SQUARE
ROUND 1: Magic Ring, ch 4 (= 1 dc), * 1 dc in ring, ch 1 *, repeat from *-* a total of 5 times, finish with 1 sl st in 3rd ch from beg of round = 6 dc.

ROUND 2: ch 3 (= 1 dc), 1 dc in the first ch, *ch 1, dc2tog in next ch, ch 1, dc2tog in next dc *, rep from *-*, dc2tog in next ch, ch 1 and 1 sl st in 3rd ch from beg of round = 12 dc-groups. Cut the thread.

ROUND 3: Change color. Ch 3, 2 dc in next ch sp, ch 1, * 3 dc in next ch, ch 1 *, rep from *-*, and finish with 1 sl st in 3rd ch from beg of round. Cut the thread.

ROUND 4: Change color. ch 1, 1 sc in first ch, * ch 3, 1 sc in next ch, ch 3, 1 sc in the next ch, ch 3, 1 sc in next ch, ch 7, 1 sc in the same ch *, repeat from *-*, and finish with 1 sl st in first sc from beg of round.

ROUND 5: ch 1, 1 sc in the same ch, * skip the 3-ch-loop, in the next 3-ch-loop crochet as follows: 1 sc in sc from previous round, 4 dc, ch 1, 4 dc. Skip the next 3-ch-loop, in 7-ch-loop crochet as follows: 1 sc in sc from previous round, 6 dc, ch 2, 6 dc *, repeat from *-*, and finish with 1 sl st in first sc from beg of round. Cut the thread.

ROUND 6: Change color. *Dc in the next sc, ch 3, 1 sc in ch in the 8-dc-group, ch 3, 1 dc in next sc, ch 5, in corner (2 ch-loop) crochet as follows: 1 sc, ch 3, 1 sc, ch 5 *, repeat from *-*, and finish with 1 sl st in dc from beg of round.

ROUND 7: ch 3 (counts as first dc), *4 dc in 3-ch-loop, 4 dc in next 3-ch-loop, 5 dc in 5-ch-loop, in corner (3-ch-loop) crochet as follows: 3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc, 5 dc in next 5-ch-loop *, repeat from *-*, and finish with 1 sl st in 3rd ch from beg of round.

ROUND 8: ch 1, 1 sc in each of the next 16 dc, * in corner (2-ch-loop) crochet as follows: 1 sc, ch 1, 1 sc. Then 1 sc in the next 24 dc * repeat from *-*, and finish with 1 sc in each of the last 8 sc, 1 sl st in first ch from beg of round. Cut the thread. Fasten all thread ends.

ASSEMBLY
Place the squares as shown below with 5 squares horizontally and 6 squares vertically – see above.  Crochet squares together with Cream and hook size 5 mm / H/8 using SC.

BORDER
Round 1: Using Cream, SC around entire blanket
Round 2: Using Brown, DC around entire blanket
Round 3: Using Ruby, Join at 2nd st left of corner, Ch 3, 2 dc, *(sk 3, 3 dc in sp) to corner.  2 dc in corner sp, ch 2, 2 dc. Rep from *. Sl st to end.
Round 4: Using Shitake, DC around entire blanket.  Every 3rd st in sp between 3 dc groups of previous round.

Shopping for Crochet Hooks

Today’s post, I have to admit, was spurred on by an urge to go shopping.  Luckily (or maybe unfortunately if you are my husband, bank manager etc) I have no aversion to buying online.

So, what was I browsing for?  Crochet hooks.  Since I’m a woman, the fact that I have all the crochet hook sizes that I currently need is quite irrelevant!  And my ‘business case’, should I be challenged by those negative nannies previously mentioned, was that I felt I need to explore what options there are in regards to ergonomically designed crochet hooks.

Who knew that there was actually quite a bit to consider when it comes to crochet hooks so I Googled for a review and found this on a blog called Things Crafty 

In this post the following points are covered.

  1. Crochet hook anatomy
  2. Hook terminology
  3. Points
  4. Grooves
  5. Throats
  6. Shafts
  7. Thumb rests
  8. Handles
  9. Picking the hook that’s right for you
  10. Crochet hook reviews

There is more to this than I thought I would be, so might just have to live life on the ledge and buy what I think will work for me and fits within my budget (hahaha, yeah right!).  I have established that I don’t roll the hook, so can go with a thumb rest.  I’d also like hooks that will aid any hand aches, so that apparently narrows me down to the following brands:

  • Addi Swing – I look the look of this one.
  • Addi Comfort Grip – This looks ‘ordinary’ compared to the Swing version.
  • Etimo Comfort Grip – These look good…and you can get them in pink!
  • ChiaoGoo Comfort Grip – Not so sure about wood.
  • Susan Bates Bamboo Handle – same as above.
  • Kollage Square Hook – The idea of a square hook just doesn’t seem to grab me.

Ok, so narrowed down to the Addi Swing or the Etimo Comfort Grip brands.  Next to consider is availability and price….. half an hour later……I have made my decision!  I’m going to go for the Etimo Comfort Grip Set.  I will admit that I was swayed by the colour, and the cute case that they come in.  I especially liked that there was somewhere to store my scissors and needles and this has been an issue with other crochet hook cases I’ve had.

  • This fourteen piece set includes:
    10 crochet hooks- Sizes: B-1 2.25mm, C-2 2.75mm, D-3 3.25mm, E-4 3.50mm, F-5 3.75mm, G-6 4.00mm, 7 4.50mm, H-8 5.00mm, I-9 5.50mm, J-10 6.00mm
  • 1 pair of scissors
  • 2 yarn needles
  • 1 case with tassel

Etimo Comfort Grip Set

I found a set on Amazon for a good price, the only snag being that they don’t ship internationally.  Fortunately, having a Black Belt in shopping, that won’t stop me!  I’ll just get it shipped to a friend’s place and get her to forward it to me J

Woohoo!  Can’t wait!  It just goes to show that shopping online is just as satisfying as physically doing it!

Triple Chocolate Biscotti!

20130615_103404I needed to make more biscotti, and felt in the mood for a chocolate overload!  TRIPLE Chocolate seemed the most sensible way to go! hehe

I took my Double Chocolate Biscotti recipe and adjusted it slightly.  This also created a wonderful bi-colour look.  When you make this, remember to give some consideration to the placement of the two coloured mixtures to ensure that when cut, you get the look you like.  As you can see, I went for a slightly diagonal look.

Triple Chocolate Biscotti

Ingredients

3 C Flour
1 t Baking Powder
½ t Baking Soda
1 t Salt
¾ C Sugar
3 eggs
2 T Dutch Processed Cocoa
½ C White Chocolate Bits
½ C Milk Chocolate Bits
1 t Milk

Method

  1. Sift together the first 4 ingredients.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat eggs and sugar until light in colour.
  3. Slowly add sifted dry ingredients
  4. Remove half the mixture from the mixing bowl and put aside
  5. Add Cocoa to the remaining half of mixture and mix to combine
  6. Add Milk Chocolate bits and mix gently
  7. Add White Chocolate bits to the mixture you put aside by kneading them in
  8. Turn out and knead the dark mixture until smooth (about 2 minutes) on a lightly floured board
  9. Divide each half of mixture into two and shape into logs
  10. Using a pastry brush, brush milk onto the top/side of the dark coloured mixture
  11. Join the pale coloured mixture to the other two logs and roll each to form ‘flat’ logs (about 2.5cm high).
  12. Bake at 165oC for 25-30 minutes (a skewer should come out clean).
  13. Leave to cool completely, and then cut 1.5cm slices diagonally.
  14. Lie in single layer on 2 baking trays and toast in oven at 150oC for 20-30 minutes.

Get your skin glowing!

Besan FlourI seem to have too much time on my hands at the moment…why else would I be watching day time television, namely Dr Oz.  On the episode that I watched, he had asked some so-called big name places to advise on <$5 remedies for at home use.  One of them caught my eye…..it allegedly helps to brighten and exfoliate your skin!  Naturally I could help myself from giving it a go…what woman wouldn’t?

There were only 3 basic ingredients, Chickpea Flour, Turmeric, and Milk.  Apparently Turmeric has anti-inflammation qualities.  After finally working out that in New Zealand we call Chickpea Flour (a.k.a. Gram Flour) Besan Flour, I was set to go!

I have to say that my face definitely felt exfoliated afterwards.  Next time I would be more careful about applying a more even coating so that it dries evenly.  In places where it was very dry, it was quite difficult to remove.   Next time I think I’ll apply to the back of my hands too.

While I waited for my face to dry, I found quite a bit of evidence on the internet that this is indeed quite a widely used face pack, and there seemed to be a lot of general use for Besan Flour such as body scrubs.  This site here had a list of uses: The Times of India

Here’s the recipe:
2 T Chickpea (Gram / Besan) Flour
1/2 T Turmeric
2 T Milk

Mix to a smooth thick paste.  Smear over face, avoiding eye area.  Leave on for 20-30 minutes then rub off.

Turmeric is chronic for staining, so be VERY careful about what you are wearing!

Another Blue Scarf

Blue Scarf 2.2A couple of months ago I posted about a blue scarf that I had made.  Unfortunately I was never really happy with it….too wide, not long enough etc.  So, I “frogged” it.  I couldn’t help buy Google this term to see where it came from and Wiki had this to say:

Frog can be used as a verb. In this sense, “to frog” means “to rip out stitches.”

When used this way, the word is slang, and it is also a play on words. It pays tribute to our amphibious friends, the frogs, and their choruses of “ribbit, ribbit, ribbit”. When you discover a mistake in your crochet work, you rip it, rip it, rip it – hence, you frog it.

Blue Scarf 2.3Now that I’d made one scarf, I had more of an idea about what I wanted….you know, narrower, longer….  In the end, I mixed two patterns that I found on the internet.  The body of the scarf uses this wonderfully easy pattern.  I used 4 ply merino yarn, with a 4mm hook because my tension tends to be a little tight.  I also went for the narrower version of 44 stitches.  Maureen Scarf

The beautifully detailed ends use this pattern.  Since one of the ends of my scarf was scalloped, I first did a row of  ch 6, sc, ch 6, dc across.  Richelieu Scarf

I finished the sides off by single crocheting along both edges.  I looks more ‘finished’ this way.  And you definitely need to press the scarf, as mentioned in the Richelieu pattern.

And I can happily report that my new scarf had it’s first outing today, and performed wonderfully! 🙂

Angry Bird Pig Hat

Angry Bird Pig Hat - CarlI can’t believe how popular the Angry Bird Hats have been, and now I’ve received a request for a Angry Bird Pig version.  What I find very entertaining is that the majority of these hats are not for children, but for the men.  Maybe that means they really are for the children….just the grown up version!

Below is the pattern.  You can download a printable version here: Angry Bird Pig Hat

MATERIALS
80gm Pale Green 8ply (DK)
20gm Dark Green 8ply (DK)
20gm Black 8ply (DK)
10gm White 8ply (DK)
Hobby Fill to fill Snout and Ears

ABBREVIATIONS
Ch = Chain.
Dc = Double crochet.
Blo = Back Loop Only
Rep = Repeat.
Sc = Single crochet.
Sl st = Slip stitch.
St(s) = Stitch(es).

INSTRUCTIONS
Note: Ch 3 at beg of round counts as dc.
Use 5mm (H) Hook
US Stitches

*For child size complete Round 5, for adult size complete Round 5 & 6.

Hat:
With Pale Green,
Round 1: Magic Ring, 12 dc, sl st to first dc (12 dc)
Round 2: Ch 3, dc in same sp, 2 dc in each dc around, sl st to join (24 sts)
Round 3: Ch 3, *2 dc in st, 1 dc**. Rep *-** 11 times, 2 dc in last st, sl st to join (36 sts)
Round 4: Ch 3, dc in next st, *2 dc in 1 st, 2 dc**, rep *-** 11 times, 2 dc in last st, sl st to join (48 sts)
*Round 5: Ch 3, dc in next 2 sts, *2 dc in 1 st, 3 dc**, rep *-** 11 times, 2 dc in last st, sl st to join (60 sts)
*Round 6: Ch 3, dc in next 3 sts, *2 dc in 1 st, 4 dc**, rep *-** 11 times, 2 dc in last st, sl st to join (72 sts)
Round 7-14: Ch 3, dc in each dc around, sl st to join. Fasten off.

Ear Flaps:
With Pale Green,
With seam on top, centre as you flatten hat. From edge count 8 stitches to the right (Left for second flap).
Round 1: Ch 3. dc in next 13 st (14 dc)
Round 2: Ch 3, decrease, dc in next 10, dec, dc in last (12 sts)
Round 3: Ch 3, dec, dc in next 8 sts, dec, dc in last (10 sts)
Round 4: Ch 3, dec, dc in next 6 sts, dec, dc in last (8 sts)
Round 5: Ch 3, dec, dc in next 4 sts, dec, dc in last (6 sts).
Round 6: Ch 3, dec, dc in next 2 sts, dec, dc in last (4 sts). Fasten off

Edging:
With Black,
Round 1: Attach, ch 1, sc around, putting 2 sc in corners of ear flaps, join, fasten off.

Eyes (Make 2):
With White,
Round 1: Magic Ring, 6 sc, sl st to join
Round 2: Ch 1, 2 sc in each st, sl st to join (12 sts)
Round 3: Ch 1, *1 sc, 2 sc in next st **, rep *-**, sl st to join (18 sts)
Round 4: Ch 1, *2 sc, 2 sc in next st **, rep *-**, sl st to join (24 sts). Fasten off.
Round 5: Ch 1, 1 sc in each st around, sl st to join (24 sts). Fasten off with yarn length to stitch to hat.

Pupil (Make 2):
With Black,
Round 1: Magic Ring, 6 SC , slst to join. Fasten off with yarn length to stitch to white of eye.

Snout:
With Pale Green,
Round 1: Chain 5, Work in continual round, 1 sc in back loop of 5 ch, 2 SC in the same st, 1 sc in next 2 sts, 1 sc in the last chain. (10 sts)
Round 2: Ch 1, 2 sc in each st around, sl st to join (20 sts)
Round 3: Ch 1, 1 sc in each st around, sl st to join (20 sts)
Round 4: Ch 1, *1 sc, 2 sc in 1 st**, rep *-**, sl st to join (30 sts)
Round 6-12: Ch 1, 1 sc in each st around, sl st to join (30 sts)

Flap – Below Snout
With Pale Green,
Row 1:  Ch 7, sc in 2nd ch from hook and each st across (6 sts)
Row 2: 2 sc in each stitch across (12 sts)
Row 3: 1 sc in each stitch across (12 sts)
Sew to the bottom of the snout.

Nostril (Make 2):
With Dark Green,
Round 1: Magic Ring, 6 SC , slst to join. Fasten off with yarn length to stitch to snout.

Ears (Make 4):
With Dark Green
Round 1: Magic Ring, 6 sc , sl st to join (6 sts)
Round 2: Ch 1, 2 sc in each st around , sl st to join (12 sts)
With Pale Green
Round 3: Ch 1, 2 sc in each st around ( 24 single crochet total)
Round 4: Ch 1, 1 sc in each st around ( 24 single crochet total)
Round 5: Join two ears together, 2 sc in each st around, stuffing with fill before closing.

Sew Nostrils on to snout, and then sew Snout to hat, stuffing with fill before closing. Sew Pupils to Eyes, and then sew Eyes to hat. Sew Ears to top of hat.

Braided Tails (Make 2):
Cut three 60cm strands of Pale Green, Dark Green and Black (9 strands total).
Pass through last space in earflap. You should now have 18 strands to braid with.
Braid approx. 20cm long, knot, trim ends.

General Baking Tips

Here are just a couple of general tips that I’ve picked up over the years…..

Plain or self-raising flour…which one is which?
Mix 2 tablespoons of one of the flours with enough water to make a paste.  Drop it into a saucepan of boiling water.  If it becomes leaden and heavy, it’s normal flour.  It if doubles in size it’s self-raising.  This should happen within a minute or so.

How to make self-raising flour with normal flour?
For every 1 metric cup (150gm) add two level teaspoons of baking powder.  Sift the two together.

How can I tell if my baking powder is still active?
Stir ½ teaspoon of BP into ¼ cup of tap-hot water.  If it bubbles the water it’s still active.   Baking Powder should last about 1 year.

Can I make caster sugar from my ordinary sugar?
Yes, you can grind it further.

Does the size of eggs make a difference?
Usually a recipe will use a Size 6 egg.  This will weigh about 60gms, 60mls or ¼ cup.  If you use larger eggs you could end up putting too much egg into the batter making it rubbery in texture.  If you only have large eggs then you can weigh the eggs or measure them.

Do I need to grease my pan if I’m lining it?
Yes if using baking paper, no if using grease-proof paper.

In American recipes, what is a “Stick of Butter”?
A stick of butter is equivalent to 125 grams.

Can I make Buttermilk from ordinary milk?
Yes.  Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to 1 cup of milk and let it sit for 5 minutes.  If you have bought buttermilk and don’t want to waste leftovers, you can freeze it.