Sunday, 26 April 2015

Starting a Rainbow Hoodie for a Little Mermaid in Banana Land

It's a miserable autumn day. 
What a wonderful excuse to stay inside and crochet!

Before my backside finds its favourite groove in the couch I did need to attend to some important little creatures.

Jerry (Hall) & Violet the guinea pigs needed a nice clean hutch with some extra straw for warmth.

So they came inside for cuddles with Sonofagun No.2 whilst I braved the chill and drizzle to muck out their house.



Guinea pigs are funny little creatures. Especially these two. One gets jealous when you're patting the other! They make that freaked out squealy piggie sound until you start patting her, which then changes to contented guinea pig purring and chattering. Then the other starts protesting because she's not getting pats! You have to find a way to pat both grumpy buggers at the same time!



With fresh sawdust and lots of hay stuffed in their castle and around the back for warmth and tunnelling, I popped the girls back in to Casa Guinea. They then ran around exploring and chattering to each other in their happy piggie way. Now I could get on with some crochet! 

A friend in Banana Land (Queensland) asked me via Facey if I could try making a cute Hoodie for her gorgeous little girl.  It's available as a free pattern on Ravelry by Marken of The Hat & I.


 It is absolutely adorable. It calls for worsted weight wool. The Google told me in the US this is like an Aussie 10 ply. We normally use DK or 8 plys here. And Banana Land is kind of hot. And when it's not hot, it's not cold either. In winter they shiver at a measley 19 degrees.  That's celcius. 

Soooo I've been faffing around with this one a bit. 
At first I used DK and a 3.5mm hook even though the pattern required a 5.5mm. 
It was obviously way too small.  You can't tell from the picture below, but this is the size for a 3 year old.  And Banana Land friends little girl aka The Little Mermaid (because she's an absolute swimming legend) is about 9 or 10?



I then have switched to 2 strands of DK and a 5mm hook.  This is giving the right measurements or gauge but will be way too thick for Banana Land.
I'll finish this one, then I think I'll do another in single strands, smaller hook but work out the extra chains etc required.

That pink, it's so bright!  My eyes! My eyes are burning!!!!

Last night was our usual Saturday night Hooked on Crochet. But instead of cosying up on the couch with our men and crochet in front of a movie in the comfort of the loungeroom,  we made it a family affair and took the Sonofaguns to the cinema to watch the latest Avengers Age of Ultron movie. 

And we took our crochet.
Yes, seriously.

We did have a few peeps look at us oddly when we pulled out wool etc.
A few curious souls even asked "how do you see what you're doing?"

The Blonde Bombshell is making a beautiful baby blanket for a soon to be new arrival in her family which just requires rows and rows of bobble stitch.
I started another placemat which is rows and rows of DC so we didnt really need to see what we were doing. Every now and then I used the light of the movie screen to check I was going alright but that's about it. 
Here's the Blonde Bombshell just before the lights dimmed and the movie started.  Many apologies for the blurry pictures!




And here's the start of my piece!


Do you have a Crochet Buddy? Or even a regular movie night?

It's often hard to find time for these things especially when you've got little grommits who zap your energy. But finding time to incorporate this kind of thing once a week or a fortnight can be so beneficial. Give it a go!

If you haven't already, pop on over to my Facey page and say hello.  I love new friends and sometimes post random mostly crochet related stuff which doesn't end up in Blogland.

Also pop on over to Handmade Monday and check out some other crafty blogs!




xox
Louise
The Red Haired Amazona 

Friday, 24 April 2015

Confessions of a Yarnoholic

My name is Red Haired Amazona. And I'm a yarnoholic.

It's 15 years since I bought my first ball.

At first, it was only a few. I had just learnt how to crochet from Auntie MarthaStewart.

I just wanted to make a little blanket for my first baby, little Sonofagun No.1.  It was in blues, lilac and yellow.  But when it was finished, I decided to make another. I thought it would be ok.  I was naive to the inherent dangers of yarn addiction.

"I'll just do one at a time." I told myself.  "Just buy enough wool to make this one. Then I'll stop!"

But I didn't. I was soon out of control.





I hid my stash from my family, so they couldn't see the true extent of my addiction.

I'd wait till late at night when everyone was asleep, sneak stuff out and start hooking.

Oh God, I love hooking! The steady even rhythm of easing the yarn over the hook, the building up of the rows. Or squares, circles, oh God! The need is overtaking me again!



Today I was tidying up a little and every time I found a bag or basket with some forgotten WIP, yarn or other haberdashery thingo, I'd pop in on the bed. Soon the bed was almost covered in my finds!
I didn't realise HOW MUCH there was!

I found a box of fabrics and toy filler from bag inserts, crocheted teddies and blanket backings...



I didn't quite realise how much yarn I had stashed in various hidey holes...



Kazillions of granny squares, circles, hexagons and stars...



I don't often knit. So how did I get so many of these? The super fat needles were for an attempt at Broomstick lace crochet.



 Grannies look so pretty when you stack them up!


Here's a real treasure. A bag of Patons Azalea, a very small ply merino yarn which my great grandmother bought maybe in the 70s? A whole bag with all their little labels on!


I did throw away some stuff. But mainly rubbishy leftover labels and WIPs that never progressed past 5 rows.
I've still got 6 WIPs!

Everything was stacked and sorted.



I know what you're thinking.

I haven't tackled my addiction. Truth is, I dont think I want to!
There may even be some of you thinking, "Pfft! Is that all she's got?"



So I've told myself that I don't need anymore yarn until I finish those 5 WIPs.
I'm going to stick to it this time...



xox
Louise

The Red Haired Amazona

Sunday, 19 April 2015

The Red Haired Amazona indulges in an Ikea shopping frenzy!

For some people this sign fills people with joy and inspiration:




For others, it fills them with a sense of dread.  The sort of dread you feel when you know you have to go to a shopping mall.  You think of the trillions of people. The screaming kids and babies. The shopping trolley with the dodgy wheel that sets off your sciatica. Couch after couch after couch. 

Keeping the kids from jumping on every single bed they see and hiding in the cupboards of the fake rooms, running for the little Swedish fox and deer toys and pulling them out, "Mum, can I have this one Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeassssse?  I promise I'll be good!" And then they're little monsters.

Stopping for coffee or Salmon in the cafe, then dragging the kids out of the play area screaming which they then insist on doing for the rest of the trip while you wish Smaland wasn't booked up with other peoples screaming, snotty little darlings so you could chuck yours in and run like a frenzied monkey through the store grabbing everything in sight in the 1 hour time limit.

Dread? I don't feel it.  Whilst shopping malls are my worst nightmare, I love Ikea. I am mildly overwhelmed by it, but love it. I may be the only person to ever move cities for Ikea. Well, that may be a slight exaggeration. 4 years ago Ikea was not on the horizon for the Imperial City of Canberra, my hometown. I wished so badly for there to be one though.  It was a horrendous 4 hour drive to Sydney to the nearest store in Homebush if you wanted to indulge in Kottbullar.
So when I had made the decision to move to Melbourne, one of the big yes ticks was there was not one, but two Ikea stores!
I received an offer for a job with another employer in Melbourne, then wrote my resignation letter to my government employer.
It actually said:

"To (whoever at the HR section),

I wish to submit my resignation.  I will cease employment at (insert government department here) on the 29th of May 2011 in order to pursue my dream to live in a city with an Ikea. 

Kind regards,

The Red Haired Amazona."


The response I got back was:

"To Ms Red Haired Amazona,

On behalf of (insert government department here), I accept your resignation and wish you many happy shopping hours with Ikea. Enjoy!

Sincerely,

HR person signing the letter"


I definitely can't claim to visit Ikea often. Possibly 2-3 times a year. But I've never looked back.
In the next few months Canberra's first Ikea will open and whilst the thought of moving back for their Ikea is tempting (being a much smaller city it would be so much easier to get to), sadly their icy, frozen wasteland of a winter is a turn off.



Last Sunday we visited Ikea.  We only intended to 'drop in'.  I knew in my lady brain a 'drop in' meant breakfast, then 2-3 hours around the store, then home for lunch.  But did we blow way over budget.  On everything!

We arrived at 9.30am when the restaurant opens and in typical Swedish Ikea style had a huge breakfast spending around $20 for 4 of us. Including extra cinnamon scrolls for sustenance through the 2 levels of Swedish brilliance.  

For people not yet exposed to the ritual of Ikea, the cafe is the essential first stop.  Grab a free coffee with your Ikea family card, a cinnamon scroll or even grab a full breakfast, a brochure book and take time to go over your definite WANTS.

You're ready.  Ok, you're not really ready. Because you are about to tackle one of the greatest marketing genius businesses ever.  Prepare yourself for THE MAZE!


Courtesy of http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1349831/Ikea-design-stores-mazes-stop-shoppers-leaving-end-buying-more.html



They overwhelm you with amazeballs stuff!  The kids go nuts.  They want all the toys, they want that cool rope ladder you wouldn't ever even conceive of hanging from the ceiling in your house but looks cool anyway, they want the swivel egg chair which you think is cool since you saw the little kids sitting in them in that scene in Sleepless in Seattle.  And then once you break free of the kids section, you are already in the big, windy Ikea warehouse maze. You see awesome room set ups, and every few minutes when you have had enough of room set ups there's pallets of cheesegraters, cushions or candles and you think "Oooo, candles!" and grab a 30 pack.  and then again "Oooo those glasses are only 99cents!" and grab 10! Hey honey, here's the Brimnes Queen I was telling you about, ooooh storage!  So much storage!

And then you see the fabrics!  And you grab a metre of every fabric with foxes or deer because they're so cool and Nordic, and marvel at how they weigh the fabric like fruit at the grocer to price it, then mildly flinch when they slap a $44 sticker on what you thought was just a little something-something to make a cushion out of.


A fabric purchase from a past Ikea visit on display at home. Stapled to a canvas frame & on the wall!

Then your price pain is eased because wow! Doona covers for $14.99!  And dang are there soooo many!  And matching cushions!

Somehow your trolley is full!

How did this happen you wonder....   Well, you did see the bathmats, those super soft absorbent, easy dry Toftbo bathmats.  You grabbed 2 of those!


Believe me, you REALLY don't need to see the rest of my bathroom. 



Annnnd you did think an extra dinner set would probably help. You may have a party at some stage in the next... time somewhere in the future and it's only $24!

And the fake flowers.  But they were only 99c each in so many pretty colours and when they're all together like that they look funky! So you grabbed 20.


My dislike of fake flowers put on hold for pretty pretty colours!

And the box of tealights in berry scents and mango, and spa, and cranberry.  Mmmmmm I love cranberries.  And you remembered you don't have any tealight holders so you grabbed 5. One in each colour! Only $1.99 each!
And you also have your list of furniture to pick up in the warehouse section before the checkouts, and then Gee Willickers: Living plants!  And plant pots! And fresh palms!  Hang on honey, I just decided I need 2 palms for the front lounge, and these pots would go with that moose cushion I found up stairs....
Get the picture?  Been there before haven't you?

If you haven't, forewarned is forearmed.

We may have gone through the check out maybe a couple or few hundred dollars missing in our bank accounts.  Then Sonofagun No. 1 exclaimed in his squeaky teenage voice, "Are we leaving?  I only came for the salmon lunch! We haven't had any yet!"  

I looked at his sad, yet mildly outraged and slightly zitty face.  That poor boy actually volunteered to come.  He was so helpful and kept Sonofagun No.2 from launching Tarzan style off the top of the Nordall bunkbeds onto the Svava swing. 

And it was now 2pm.  So we loaded everything in the car and trekked BACK INSIDE for lunch. I felt like I was doing the Ikea walk of shame.  Breakfast, THEN lunch!


Sonofagun No.2 gets his salmon.

Then a friend who saw my FB status mentioning I was at Ikea, sent a text, "Could u pls pick me up 2 Kottbullar, 2 gravy, lingonberry jam and frozen mashed potato from the Ikea grocery".






We got home after 4pm. Lunch didn't exactly take that long.  Neither did the extra run for groceries. 
But we did remember we wanted a dish rack. And then maybe almost bought a couple of framed prints. Almost.

Weary, car jammed with Sweden, discussing why getting the 2 Trysil chest of drawers was better than the Malm, and reeking of the combined odours of 90 Sinnlig tealights in 3 different scents plus a 3 pack of Lugga block candles AND a Halvlek because it looks pretty with the autumn leaves.


It's also so pretty!


We have enough candles to light us through the Game of Thrones Winter.



So my beautiful Canberra people, that is a typical Ikea visit.  Don't forget to stop by the Clearance section on your way out!




xox
Louise

The Red Haired Amazona

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Super Easy Peasy Placemats


She's conquering the world one stitch at a time! Laying waste to yarn everywhere. 

(In a wee baby wool ball voice) "No, not the Red Haired Amazona?!?" 
(In a deeper daddy wool ball voice) "Yes my wee baby wool ball, run, hide in the cellar! She's got a hook and she's not afraid to use it to make stuff she could just as easily buy at the shops!"
"Will she ever stop Papa?"
"I don't know son, but God help us if she doesn't. God help us all!!!!"

'Rock My Boat Placemat '


It's a crazy claim. 
But I'm making it. These placemats are Super Easy Peasy.  Totes beginner level!

So easy I took them along with me to crochet when I took Sonofagun No.2 to what could easily have been the most horrendous thing I've ever seen.  The new SpongeBob Squarepants movie.  Antonio Banderas you should hang your head in shame!



Hook and yarn poised and posed in our local retro Cinema waiting for what is so far my least favourite movie of 2015. And that is taking into account that I saw Zombeavers two weeks ago.

The best part is you can make them to colour coordinate with your decor.
Or do what I did. I found colour inspiration around me.



I've made 6 placemats in different colourways using both Patons and Panda 8 ply Cotton Blend.

Each placemat measures 41cm x 30.5cm.


Would you like some time stats?  Each row took just under 5 minutes. At 45 rows, each placemat takes approximately 4 hours including time to tie in the ends, add new colours etc. Isn't the interwebs full of fascinatingly, useless information?  I'm so proud to contribute!  

Want to give them a go?

Alrighty lovers, let's get your crochet on!

The tools:
2.5mm hook
A yarn needle.

Easy Peasy Banded Placemat 

A selection of 8ply cotton blend yarns in your favourite colours.
Each band of colour uses just over half a 50gm ball.
5 colour bands for each placemat.

Terms:
Chain: Ch
Double crochet: DC ( otherwise known as trebles for The Poms and Aussies)

Row 1: Ch 66
Row 2: DC in the 4th Ch from the hook. DC in each chain to the end. Ch2, turn.
Row 3- 9: DC in each DC of the previous row across. Ch2, turn.
At the end of Row 9 before you chain 2, finish off your 1st colour and tie on your next chosen colour.  Then Ch 2 and turn.

Continue in pattern as above and change to a new colour every 9 rows.

Continue until you have 45 rows in total.

After your 45 rows of DCs, finish off, weave in the ends and you're finished!

This one was inspired by my favourite scarf...



Mixed Berry Jam Placemat

Patons Cotton Blend 8 ply in the following colours:
Colour A: Cream
Colour B: Flamingo
Colour C: Orchid
Colour D: Denim
Colour E: Coral
Colour F: Natural
Colour G: Cloud
Colour H: Aqua

Start with Colour A.  Ch 66

Row 1 in Colour A: DC in the 4th Ch from the hook. DC in each chain across the the end. 

Row 2-3 in Colour B: Ch 2, DC in each DC of the previous row to the end.

All the remaining rows are crocheted in DC. Just repeat Row 3.



Row 4 in Colour C

Row 5-6 in Colour D

Row 7 in Colour E

Row 8-9 in Colour F

Row 10 in Colour G

Row 11 in Colour H.

Repeat the above sequence until you have finished 45 Rows, then finish off, sew in your ends and voila!

These are just two of the designs. As you can see from the photos below, the colour combinations are only limited by your imagination.  It would be so easy to make up a jumbled set like mine, or a set to go with your decor.  

What about an Easter or Xmas themed set? Or Spring, Autumn or Winter? 

This one is called 'Nachos anyone?'





http://blog.mydiab.com/in-details-5-steps-
to-bring-spring-indoors/
"Nachos anyone?' was freestyled all in DC as shown in the pattern above. The initial inspiration came from this lovely picture I found on my favourite waste of time Pinterest.  
But as you can see, the effect I was looking for didn't quite come out as expected. Funky nonetheless....

This one is called 'Louise's Favourite Scarf Placemat ' 
And this one is called 'Running Out of Dark Blue Placemat '
 I hope you did enjoy my tutorial or any others you've found on my little blog.  Many of my tutorials are free for everyone, however if you'd like to make a little donation, it would be gratefully received and contribute towards future free tutorials!


Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Rainy Autumn days

Did you have a nice Easter break?

We had a lovely time at home. Sonofagun No. 2's bedroom had a massive cleanout and new shelves.  His room had previously looked like a moshpit of toddlers vomitted a toy factory all over it. We gave away some of his toys and old clothes to goodwill and threw away so much junk.  What a difference it made! 

Saturday Night Hooked on Crochet saw the Blonde Bombshell and I indulge in a 1948 classic called Mr Blandings Builds his Dream House starring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy.

The garden also had a much needed tidy up and I was able to plant some daffodil and jonquil bulbs.


As the evenings have cooled and daylight savings ended, we have started lighting our little outdoor stove to toast marshmallows and celebrate our inner pyromania by tossing in so many pieces of wood that the metal glowed hot enough to toast our marshmallows from the outside!

Gardeny autumness. Even Violet the Guinea Pig is cosying up!


Now it's raining and miserable outside.  What a wonderful excuse to curl up together on the couch with popcorn and crochet and have a Hobbit trilogy marathon!

Placemat No.3 in the background, PM No. 4 on the hook...


I'm working on my 4th placemat. I'm not sure about the colours of this one.  I had found colour inspiration from a picture on Pinterest of beautiful orange and coral ranunculus and some thing that looks like either white Crepe Myrtle or Stock.


Sourced from http://blog.mydiab.com/in-details-5-steps-to-bring-spring-indoors/


  But its starting to look more like a crochet celebration of a plate of nachos with guacamole! 



Last night the Blonde Bombshell and I took off to our local cinema to watch a movie she had already seen and loved so much she wanted to watch it twice!  

It's called A Little Chaos with Kate Winslet, the delectable Alan Rickman and some scrummy Belgian dude called Matthias Schoennaerts. 


Kate Winslet can't see the forest for the glass thingos hanging in the trees.....

Do you love a bit of romance, 17th century French stuff and gardening?  Then this may be the movie for you!  
For the Blonde Bombshells movie review check out her blog here. 
She's also got a link to the trailer to watch.

Apart from the beautiful scenery, and gardens and Alan Rickman as King Louis the many numbered, my favourite thing about this movie is that Kate Winslet is a REAL woman with a case of the mild crow's feet and looks like she eats regular meals. And beautifully so. It's incredibly refreshing not to spend 2 hours staring at the flawless skin of an 18 year old stick figure.  I kept thinking, " oh. my. god. She's like, 40 something! Like me! So I can totally relate to waking up looking as haggard as that and therefore totally get into the idea of hooking up with that handsome slightly younger sexy Belgian Landscape architect!"

How did you spend your Easter?


xox
Louise

The Red Haired Amazona


Friday, 3 April 2015

How to Crochet at the Cinema.....

Yesterday I saw what is possibly the worst movie of 2015.  The Sonofagun No.2 insisted on going to see the new Spongebob Squarepants movie.  I know I'm probably saying something controversial. Apologies to Spongebob lovers everywhere. But I enjoyed Zombeavers infinitely more than this waste of celluloid.  

But I survived.  

And I owe it all to crochet.  

I've never really been a Spongebob fan. And neither have the Sonofaguns.  I don't know what possessed him to choose this movie over the new Disney Pixar film Home.  Everytime he saw the trailer for Home on TV he laughs.  But he chose Spongebob. Maybe it's because he's mercurial little wildchild who's moods and whims are as changeable as the smells wafting in from Port Phillip Bay.

I popped my latest project in my bag. It involves straight back and forth rows of double crochet. The dim light was no impediment. The rows flowed like water from my pudgy, green tipped fingers.

Here's a photo just before the lights dimmed and the gorgeous old curtains parted at our local Art Deco cinema...


We all love the mags. You know the ones. The craft mags, the home decor mags. Their colours and rooms lift us up and waft us into them.  My favourite for the last 2-3 years is Home Beautiful.  This is definitely NOT a sponsored post folks (although if the wonderful people at this esteemed piece of wonderment on paper chose to throw a subscription my way, I wouldn't say no..... hint hint).  I love reading these.  And used the colours as inspiration for what's on the hook right now.  


Even more exciting is this issue has crochet in it! In 2 places that I've found so far.

Check out this beautiful green throw...


And this gorgeous flower granny square blanket.  The mag says this was a gift.  Amazeballs.  This type of eclectic bright room is my kind of thing.  


Also this page.  I could definitely fall in love with this. However I wonder how many of us plebs would REALLY put an expensive leather couch out in the garden?



So what am I working on?  Did I mention placemats before? I can't remember. But I'm now up to my third in the set. All in different colours.

If you could tell from my first photo up top, with it's gratuitously placed yarns next to the mag, the one on the hook right now is inspired by the colours on the front page of the magazine.  Peacocky type colours.  Delicious!








Hope you're all enjoying your Easter weekend!

xox
Louise

The Red Haired Amazona