The winter blues

It's not just me that's blue!

It’s not just me that’s blue!

I always feel rather glum at this time of year as the days get shorter and shorter and my general ‘bah-humbug’ attitude towards the festival of greed commonly referred to as Christmas grows. This year feels particularly miserable with Mr Snail being away during the week… in  fact he’s just driven off down the road and left me here at home until Friday. So, I’m trying to fill my evenings with creativity.

Gloom, however, is not conducive to starting new projects, so it’s lovely to have the sofa covers to work on, because the colours are already chosen (the sort of winter blues I can welcome) and I already know which designs I’m going to use. The latest cushion is 50% done and makes use of a shell pattern that’s like a half  Bavarian crochet; I’ve just started on the second side of it and am enjoying the look very much (it’s from the book I wrote about in this post). I can’t wait until the handmade buttons are ready so I can complete at least a few of the pieces.

The other project that is keeping me busy is a final blanket for the charity raffle we are running to keep our lovely nature reserve at Denmark Farm properly managed and maintained. Many thanks to those of you who have already bought or offered to buy raffle tickets… you never know, if you win the first prize of a stay in the sustainable lodge on the site, we may get to meet up! And if not, when it’s finished, you might be snuggling up under this (Nia and Ann, you might see something familiar here):

The third creative project to make me smile is also one for charity, but you’ll have to wait a while before I can reveal it… ooh – suspense!

One other thing that helps to brighten my days is knowing that all of you bloggers on the other side of the world are enjoying your growing season… so do keep posting pictures of your gardens and I will be able to dream of what’s round the corner. Which reminds me… time to order some seeds – one of my favorite winter jobs. Perhaps I’m not quite as blue as I thought!

Planning a cover-up

As you may know, I am currently working on a very large crochet project, namely a sofa cover. I won’t say that it’s progressing slowly, but it is such a big piece of work that it will inevitably take a long time. Originally I was simply intending to make covers for the five cushions that go along the back, but then I decided that it would be nice if I could actually cover the whole thing. I have, therefore, been considering what I need to do to create something that covers (at least most of) this large piece of furniture.

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Dull, no?

I realised that I don’t want to crochet the bit that will not be seen, i.e. the part that goes under the seat cushions. This part, however, is essential as it will anchor the main cover and, if all goes to plan, ensure that crochet hooks, yarn, needles and scissors can no longer fall into the ‘body’ of the sofa, requiring me to furtle around with a torch trying to retrieve them. So, what to use? Well, in keeping with the rest of the cover, I wanted wool, leading me to the conclusion that what I need is a blanket. A blue blanket.

I really want something second hand, and so, not wanting to embark on a tour of all the local charity shops, I decided to try ebay. I’m currently waiting to see if I win an auction for a pale blue, pure wool vintage blanket. A new version made by the same company as the one I’m bidding on would cost me over £80, but I’m hoping to get this one for less than £20 including postage. Once I have it, I’m afraid it’s going to be chopped up, but it will have a new and useful life, so that’s ok.

The other part of the sofa that I wanted to source ethically was the buttons for the cushions. I don’t want plastic ones for this project and I really didn’t feel that wood or leather would be appropriate – both because they wouldn’t look right and because they would be just too tempting for pups to chew. Oh and I didn’t want zips because Sam eats those too (hence the cushion inners you can see showing in the photo above). So, Joanna (who taught the course on paper porcelain) is going to make me 20 buttons… she has samples of the yarn and photos of some of the crochet and I have left the design up to her.

Bavarian cushion nearly finished

Bavarian cushion nearly finished

On the crochet front, I have nearly finished the second side of the Bavarian crochet cushion cover, and the ripple cushion cover just needs constructing (because of the way I’m going to do it, I need the buttons before I can progress) and I have more than half of the squares I need for the ‘granny square’ cushion. I’m not sure what design I will choose for the next cushion cover, but possibly something stripy and then one with circles, like Kerry’s squares.

All this has made me wonder what the finished sofa is going to look like. Since I now have some quite big pieces to play with, I put them together to give me an idea. This is only to provide an impression since the Bavarian crochet is for the back and front of a single cushion rather than two separate ones and the ripple piece is also for a square cushion rather than the seat, but at least it gives some idea of what the finished object might resemble… well, it’s going to be unique if nothing else!

Dark evenings

Over the weekend we changed from British Summer Time to Greenwich Mean Time, putting the clocks back by an hour so that the mornings are lighter (chickens up earlier) and the evenings darker (Max wants to be fed at 5pm). The implications for me are that I’m even more tempted to snuggle down in the evenings with tea, cake and a crochet hook or set of knitting needles.

Squares and Ripples

Squares and Ripples

I am trying very hard not to start any new projects, but this isn’t much of a problem because my crochet sofa covers allow me to work on different bits using different techniques. With this in mind, over the weekend I made a start on the third of the cushion covers. The first uses Attic24’s ripple pattern and is awaiting completion once I’ve sourced some suitable buttons. The second requires 32 granny squares, of which I have made about 20 – some from my new crochet book Connect the Shapes.

Bavarian square

Bavarian square

And so, having been itching to have a proper go at it, cushion number three is in Bavarian crochet. I made a small square using this technique and following Dani’s brilliant tutorial on Teddy and Tottie for the Masterpiece and I have been wanting to make something bigger ever since. Dani sent me a square that is also in the Masterpiece, so I had a beautiful example to follow… always a help when you are learning a new stitch. I made good progress and now I have got the pattern in my head it’s going rather well.

The sofa is currently plain dark blue… I think it’s going to be much more exciting when covered with all this lot (and more):

All destined to be part of the sofa covers

All destined to be part of the sofa covers

From Bavaria – via Australia

The Masterpiece blanket continues to grow, with another square arriving from Australia a couple of days ago. I have got such a lot out of the project, including (as I’ve mentioned before) learning new skills

Another parcel of joy from Australia

Another parcel of joy from Australia

Some time ago I commented on a post by Dani (who lives in Teddy and Tottie Land) about her beautiful Bavarian crochet and she promised to post a tutorial about how to do it (you can now find it here). But more than that, she offered a Bavarian crochet square for the Masterpiece. Her lovely square arrived a couple of days ago, along with a gift of a fabulous book (alcoholic afternoon tea anyone?).

Getting started on my square

Getting started on my square

And so, having a worked example in my hand, I decided to give the tutorial a go. The instructions include loads of photos and I found them very easy to follow, but it’s always much easier to understand how to make something if you can actually look at a real example made by an expert. With all this help, I had no trouble producing a Bavarian square of my own. It’s not up to Dani’s standard, but I think that I will include it in the Masterpiece as a demonstration of an unexpected yield from the project.

Dani's square on the left and mine on the right

Dani’s square on the left and mine on the right

So, thank you Dani… I can feel a Bavarian blanket coming on!

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