Stash-Busting Striped Ripple Crochet Baby Blanket

For a few month I've been working on a handmade blanket for a baby expected by a couple of my friends - and I've finally been to visit and deliver it so here's some details of the project. (OK so baby Ethan is about a month old and I only just made it round but, meh, life's been busy! On the plus side, he's big enough to be alert and kick about on his mat and look at us so that was really cute!!)

Its a basic ripple pattern, I have the 7 Day Afghans book and I reduced one of the patterns in there to baby-size with fewer repeats. It was a 6ml hook and the wool was taken entirely from my existing stash, basically it was a stripe or two of each of the DK weight wool I had lying around. So it's colourful, and it helped make space in my life for more wool, and it was very inexpensive (i.e. free!), so on the whole the perfect project. Here's the finished article:

Ethan's Blanket

And a close-up of those ripples:

Ethan's Blanket closeup

I've made a round ripple before but never a straight one, although I kept looking at patterns for them. When I heard about Deb's pregnancy, I knew this was exactly the blanket I wanted to make! So, welcome Ethan, and good health to all the family.

Creating a Banner Bag

Often at PHP Conferences, the organisers are good enough to give PHPWomen a table, and we have a banner we use on these occasions.

PHPWomen stand

Its kind of an annoying thing to lug around with me - its about a metre high and usually travels in a cardboard tube. I've been all over the place with it, had to shorten the tube to get it in my suitcase for going to London this year, and then when you get to a place you still have to carry it and its awkward. So, I made a bag for it, ready for this week's trip to DPC in Amsterdam.

One Banner Bag

Its along the same lines as the yoga mat bags that I keep seeing patterns for - just a tube with a circle at the bottom to make it a cylinder, some webbing sewn into the seam to make a strap and a cord to pull tight at the neck, I took some pictures as I went along.

Bag Template Cord Sleeve
Bag Tube with Handle Radial Pins

First I cut out a rectangle, longer than the tube by about 4 inches and wide enough to go round (very easily round). Then I made the little pocket at the top for the cord to go through (best to do this first as otherwise you'll probably sew it shut later - thanks mum!). Once you've made the pocket then you have a right side and a wrong side, this next bit is easy to get wrong so pay attention! Lay out the rectangle with the right side up. Lay the strap ends against an edge, then fold the other edge over to meet and make the seam - you should have the hem of the cord sleeve on the outside, and a tube with the strap hanging in the middle of it, now pin straps and seam and sew. I went back and forth a couple of times over where the straps were attached.

Time for some maths!

First measure across the tube with it flat. Double that number and you have the circumfrence of the shape you need for the bottom of the bag. So, divide that by 2 times pi (6.283 ish) to get the radius of the circle to cut out. Don't forget to add seam allowance to this. I had a compass to make my circle but a piece of thread and a pencil would do in a pinch. Once you have cut out the circle, put loads of pins in facing outwards, and then sew round the outside, over the pins. Turn bag the right way out, thread cord through sleeve, and you're done :)

I just hope it hangs together for a while, got a few conferences to get to this year!

Replacement Love-Knot Wrap

A few years ago, when my little sister turned 21, I made her a crochet love-knot wrap. She's used it (as a warm scarf) since then but recently lost it moving between multiple different places in the French Alps while working as a nanny for a hotel chain. So I made her a new one:
Caitlin Modelling her Scarf
Its the same design as before, using a "love knot" or "Solomon's knot" stitch to create an airy web of a wrap that can be worn either over the shoulders or bundled into a scarf as shown. I used a cotton tape yarn since she's just about to leave again to go and work in Portugal so woolly wouldn't be a good choice, this yarn used to be a cardigan I bought but it had daft sleeves so I unravelled them but never did anything better.

The scarf laid out and a closeup of the beads:
Scarf Scarf Closeup
Here's hoping she hangs onto this one at least as long as she managed for the last - safe travels, little one!

Curious Combination of Craft and Code

I'm a software developer, so I like to make things. The fact that some of these things involve yarn, fabric, or wood rather than code doesn't make any difference to how I feel about building things. For the most part my programmer friends think I'm strange for making woollen things, and my craft friends think I'm strange for working with computers!

Since spending more time online and getting to "meet" (in a virtual sense) more people, both crafters and coders, its becoming clear that I'm not alone on this one. First I saw a this thread about crafts on the phpwomen forum and then I also noticed that on ravelry (a social network for knitters. Yes, really) there's a group for PHP knitters.

Are you a geek who also makes non-code things? Let me know :)

Home Made Yarn Swift

Some time ago I started a project, using laceweight mohair, which I blogged about. Its take 6 months to finish the first skein, which was wound into a ball by friends, and now I'm ready for the next one. I've been chasing around trying to find a wool winder I can borrow and also considering using a nostepinne but at 400 yards of yarn in a skein, I'd be there for some time doing that.

To cut a long story short, my boyfriend ordered me a surprise wool winder so I was off to a flying start - but I don't have a swift (and I don't plan on winding wool often enough to justify buying one as they aren't cheap). So I googled and found this home-made swift on instructables - and decided I could make my own. Our lazy susan (5 quid from Ikea) is wooden so I didn't really want to tape onto it, so instead I found a spare piece of MDF and clamped it to the lazy susan. With two coat hangers cable-clipped to the MDF, I was all set.

Ball Winder Yarn Swift Assembled

Making a yarn ball

It actually worked really really well, I had the two remaining skeins wound into balls in no time at all and I can carry on with my project, which is growing, if slowly! Look, I think I'm half way there:

Cobweb Wrap

Granny's Christmas Blanket

It was a long time coming but I finally finished the blanket I was making for my granny - and in time for Christmas as well (well, almost. The border didn't get finished until Christmas Day but I didn't see my folks til Boxing Day anyway!). She was suitably surprised and impressed, here she is with the blanket:

Granny and Blanket

Actually Grandpa looks more impressed in this photo ... or maybe he was trying to hide until the blanket?

The pattern was rotationally symmetrical in terms of which pattern block went where, and the colours ran from purple in one corner to green diagonally opposite with pink and cream as accompaniments. I could have been braver with the colour placing, but, you live and learn. Here's a photo of the blanket (without its border, I couldn't photograph it with the border as there simply wasn't enough floor space once Christmas hit), and a little closeup:

Blanket - Almost Done

Blanket - Closeup

The squares are all from the "200 Crochet Blocks" book - granny square, corner granny, shell lace and willow.

Christmas Preparations

We're hosting Christmas for family this year (actually its Kevin's family, but that's a technicality), and between preparations for that and having a new camera in the house, I have some nice photos. After all that we've done on this house, suddenly it feels like its coming together into a real home.

Xmas Living Room

The garland on the mantlepiece (the mantlepiece that I dismantled, sanded down, and restained earlier in the year) is a bit of a craft project. I'll write a separate post at some point but suffice to say the baubles were in the discounted set that I wanted because it had snowflakes in it. They are attached to a plain garland with cable ties, and a set of lights my sister left behind added in too.

I also have a photo of the Christmas tree, I really like this photo (thanks Kevin!)

Xmas Front Room

Hanging Snowflakes Decoration

Last year in January I bought (actually my dad paid for them, thanks dad!) a whole box of Christmas decorations from IKEA, for about 2 GBP. In the box were some snowflake decorations, and yesterday I made a little hanging snowflake decoration to go over the stairs in the hall. I think it looks cute!


It was just a little crocheted string (to give the hanging snowflakes some texture to get tied onto so they didn't all slide around on the string), then snowflakes threaded onto the cotton, tied into a loop, and then looped onto the string. You can't really see in the photos but the snowflakes are all glittery and sparkly. Then we put a few nails into the wood over the stairs, and just hooked crochet stitches over them - here it is from the stairs side:


The whole thing took about 20 minutes ... so although the snowflakes have had a long wait, it was worth it!

Blanket for Christmas

I'm currently struggling a bit with my Christmas crochet, so I'm posting here to hopefully pressurise myself into actually finishing it in time. The plan is to make a blanket for my granny for Christmas (its a surprise, I'm banking on her not learning to work the 'net before then) and I've been working on this for 6 months already. It will have 36 squares and I'm currently at 24 squares and losing my way! Here it is so far:

Granny's Blanket (so far)

The spaces are the squares I haven't made yet ... I need to get a move on!

Man-fit T-shirt to Girl Top

I am sick beyond description of conference shirts, they are big and they are sack-like. I have lots of them, I'm expected to wear them a lot, and they are not particularly confidence-boosting. Dressing up for the crowd at technical events is not the way forward, but I am a tiny bit tired of shapeless - so I decided to learn how to refashion this pile of shirts that I now have, into something I might want to wear.

I began with this rather excellent tutorial, and an oversized shirt (my sister brought this back from scout camp last year).

tshirt before refashioning

I also took a favourite t-shirt that fits me nicely (not too tight, the finished article is still going to be a t-shirt) and used this as a template. Clothes that fit are pretty rare as I'm above average height, but I have a few favourites. In a nutshell, you draw around the main body of your template shirt (I used kiddy chalk, because it was handy), then make sleeves but by lining your template shirt up against the cuffs of your victim shirt.

outlines on shirt

I tacked (by hand) up the marked side seams, and tried the shirt on (inside out) to make sure it fit and I could get into it and so on (its easy to overestimate how stretchy something is and not be able to actually get into the finished article!). It was fine so I cut out along the chalk lines.

The only really tricky part came next ... fitting the sleeves. In fact I had to phone home for some help (thanks mum!) and it turns out what you do is: Put the shirt down inside out and the sleeve the right way out, but post the sleeve in through the armhole with the hand-end of the sleeve inward-most - like a top with the arm inside out. Then the pins go inside this inside-out sleeve, at right angles to how you are going to sew, and with the points pointing out at you. Then you sew round the armhole and just sew over the pins with the machine. I hope that makes sense - I'm hoping it'll remind me for next time anyway (/me points and laughs at future self reading these instructions)

Sew round the sleeves and down the sides, and take out the tacking. In theory you should also overstitch the hems but ... I didn't quite manage to wait that long before trying on my new shirt.

shirt after refashioning shirt after refashioning