Wednesday, 22 August 2018

I don't hate August anymore.

I normally ignore August.
It's still technically Winter. It has a grandiose sounding name (AUGUST!) but I spend so much time yearning for Spring which starts in September, that I don't really pay much attention to August. Poor August.
But the early blossoming trees are doing their funky thing.
So this year I stopped whinging about the sleety, cold rain and horrid winds that charge through our city and paid closer attention to August.
I realised August isn't really Winter. It's 'pre-Spring'.  It's just as fed up with Winter as us humans are, and is trying to shed the bad rap.
The days are trying to be a little bit longer at a rate of about 2 minutes per day. Sounds like a snails' pace but after losing sun at around 5-5.30pm, by the end of August, there will still be a lighter sky around 6.15-6.30! Reminding us that long Summer days aren't far away.
We have prepared the vegie garden for the summer crops. Turned in bags of horse poo and I set up a Snow Pea Teepee complete with fairy lights!

The Earlicheer Jonquil lives up to its' name with flower heads so fat, they keep falling over.
This rose had a nice sheltered spot through Winter, so kept flowering but needs a hard cutback as all its' flowers come out slightly fasciated.
After a couple of years of poor tulip performance, I kept this batch in the spare bar fridge for about 6 weeks before planting.
And they are looking beautiful!

I also planted Ranunculus in random spots throughout the garden and in some pots. It's been fun seeing where they have popped up because I usually forget where I plant bulbs.
I planted more shallots. We love them in salads and stir-fries!

I made a sweet Lalylala lady bird from a free pattern that was included in a magazine, I think it was Inside Crochet? All the good crochet and craft magazines come from the UK & the US but we get them 6 weeks after they are sold there. It feels very 1950s waiting such a long time for stuff like that when I can order something from the UK direct and get it in 7-10 days.
Like this!!!
I literally squealed at the courier when he arrived with these 2 big bundles. Like girlie/ psycho squealed. He looked kind of freaked out. A 40 something woman with her hair in a towel, no makeup (and not in one of those Instagram- worthy casual glam ways. But haggard, real life, 'where the f*** did my youth go' ways).
I was lucky enough to have a little tax refund after I lodged my return this year. I could have saved it. I could have put it towards bills. Sure! That would be the responsible, grown up thing to do. And because paying bills and saving are grown up, adulty things, I immediately spent it.
Deramores UK were having a nice sale of Stylecraft DK and Scheepjes cottons. With free postage on international orders over I think $75.
I thought to myself, "Hmm, it would be okay if I bought $75 worth of yarn!  That's a nice splurge."
I bloody blew that limit out of the water!
But here's the thing...
Our local craft stores have double knit acrylics but the colour range of Stylecraft is gorgeous. I prefer to use small local yarn shops but they tend to stock very expensive boutique yarns. Stylecraft yarns aren't sold in Australia and if someone does sell them here, they are horrifically expensive. So I bought a nice batch for super cheap from Deramores, but I could have bought 2 or 3 of every single colour and I think they have more than 80?
I also chose a pretty armful of cute little Scheepjes Catona. 
And these 7 skeins of Scheepjes Sweet Treats. Aren't they sooooo delicious!

Just before I received my lovely big bundles, the Mothership and the Fatherdom came to Melbourne for a visit and brought along a present for me.

This is a wooden suitcase which I made in woodwork class when I was 16. Nearly 30 years ago! For ages (probably nearly 30 years) the parentals have used it to store irrigation sprinklers in the back shed. They cleaned it up, painted it cream (it was plain pine) and vajazzled it.
Now it has a new job!

Holding all my old and new cottons!
The delicious colours of the Scheepjes Catona and Sweet Treat has inspired me to go back to making something that I used to love crocheting.
This little sweet bird above was the first of a new type I am making. He is a kind of plain green here as this was Prototype No.1!  He isn't wonky, I placed his beak and eyes so it looks like he is looking to the side. Kind of being coy!
He has some way to go before I'm happy with the end design but he was made with the Scheepjes Sweet Treat colours.

I'm in the middle of making this one below using the same design but with Scheepjes Catona!
It has colourful pins for eyes and a beak at the moment while I sew the wings on. Then I have to make certain facial decisions!
Phew! There were a lot of photos in this post. Thanks for visiting!

The Red Haired Amazona

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Granny Square Stubby Holder (Can Cooler)

Down here in Kangarooland, the only thing that breeds faster in kitchen drawers and Men Shed shelves than piles of bread bag tags or rubber band balls are neoprene Stubby Holders.

I've heard they're called 'can coolers' in certain parts of the world.

Here's the Bears collection. It has been culled many times. 

This collection speaks of multiple trips to car racing and Bali...
My work colleague Gilbert (name changed to protect the innocent) told me a couple of weeks ago about a friend whose wife crocheted a hot pink stubby holder for him. The friend was extremely proud of this Hot Pink Stubby holder. In fact he pulls it out at every drinking opportunity, adorns his bottle or can of craft beer with it and has somehow attained chief Hipsterdom with his craft beer swathed in a Hot Pink Crocheted Stubby Holder.
Geoffrey, I mean Gilbert was a tad jelly and wanted to take a stab at out-hipstering his friend.

So Geoff, I mean Gilbert asked if I would be interested in making an outlandish Hipster Stubby Holder for him.
Challenge accepted!

I asked him if he wanted a bottle style holder that goes all the way up to the neck or a shorter one for a can. He said can.
I asked him if he had a style or colour preference. He said I had complete artistic freedom. The more retro and colourful the better.

Would you like to make one? I knew you would!

You can follow this easy- peasy tutorial to make your own. It is constructed of 10 small granny squares and rounds on the outside, and a simple sleeve inside to insulate the can . It can also be used for bottles which are normally a little narrower.

I also used 8 ply cotton yarns so it can be thrown in the machine for a wash if necessary. I have a bunch of cotton placemats which I crocheted several years ago. They've been though countless machine washes and still look great!

What do you need?

Yarns & Notions

Your choice of colours of 8 ply cotton yarns.
3mm crochet hook
Darning needle

Abbreviations (US terms used)

ch:  chain
dc:  double crochet
mr:  magic ring 
sc:  single crochet
sl st: slip stitch
st:   stitch

Let's go!

Outer sleeve

The first step is to make 10 granny squares of just 2 rounds. Each granny is made of 2 different colours.

Round 1: Starting with a magic ring, ch 3 (counts as 1st dc), then continuing to work into the MR: 2 x dc, *(ch 3, 3dc) x 3. Ch 3. Join with a slip stitch to the top of beginning Ch3 then slip stitch over to the next 3ch space. You should now have 4 little 3dc clusters each separated by a 3ch space. Join your 2nd colour.
Round 1 finished.

Round 2: Ch3 (counts as 1st dc), in same 3ch space (2dc, ch3, 3dc), *(skip next 3 dc stitches and in next 3ch space: 3dc, 3ch, 3dc). Repeat from * three times. Skip next 3 dc stitches and join with a slip stitch to the top of the beginning ch3. 
The first chain 3 of round 2
Nearly finished round 2!

Slip stitch over to the next 3ch space and finish off. I usually finish off here because it looks a little tidier, but if you prefer to finish off at the join, it's up to you!
Tah-dah! Now make 9 more!

Make 10 little grannies in total of differing colours. They can be funky brights, retro browns, your favourite teams' sports colours. Whatever you like!

Sew in your ends if you haven't already.

10 bright little grannies!

Sew them together in a 2 x 5 grid. Then sew the 2 short ends together to form a tube.

Now we are going to work in SC for a few rounds at the top and bottom of the tube. You can choose whatever colours you like. You can use different colours for each round, or 1 colour.
 I have chosen to use 1 colour for the rounds, with my last joining round in a contrasting colour.

Round 1:  Starting at the bottom of your tube, join your colour and single crochet in each stitch, including 1 sc in the corner of each granny square and 1 stitch in the bit where the 2 grannies are sewn together.

Look at the photo below for detail. Essentially this will be 8 single crochet stitches along the edge of each granny and 1 between each granny. 

At the end of Round 1, join with a slip stitch to the beginning sc, Ch 1.
Round 2: 2sc in 1st st, sc x 22, 2sc in same stitch, sc in each st to the end. Join with a sl st to beginning Ch1. Ch 1.

Round 3: 2sc in 1st st. sc in each stitch to the end. Join with a sl st to beginning ch. Finish off.

Now turn your tube around and we'll crochet around top the of the tube!

Repeat Rounds 1 and 2 only. Finish off.

Inner Sleeve.

The inner sleeve is simply worked first as a flat circle in the amigurumi style. This means at the end of each round, you do not stop, join and chain up to the next round. You simply start the first stitch of the next round directly in the top of the first stitch of the last round. So you're crocheting in a spiral.

Round 1: Crochet 6sc in MR. [6]
Round 2:  2sc in each st. [12]
Round 3: (2sc, 1sc) 6 times. [18]
Round 4: (2sc, 1 Sc in each of the next 2 stitches) 6 times.[24]
Round 5: (2sc, 1 Sc in each of the next 3 stitches) 6 times.[30]
Round 6: (2sc, 1 Sc in each of the next 4 stitches) 6 times. [36] 
Round 7: (2sc, 1 Sc in each of the next 5 stitches) 6 times. [42]
Round 8: (2sc, 1 Sc in each of the next 6 stitches) 6 times. [48]

Now we are at the end of the flat circle part we will stop, join with a slip stitch to the 1st sc in round 8 and chain up for the 1 round, but afterwards continue to crochet in a spiral.
Work in front loops only for Round 9:
Round 9: Sc in each stitch around. Join with a sl st to beginning sc. Ch 1. Do not turn. [48]

It helps to keep track of the beginning of each round if you use a stitch marker! 

Round 10- 33: Sc in each stitch around in the amigurumi style as a continuous spiral. At the end of Round 33, slip stitch into the next stitch (1st sc of R33) and finish off. 
Sew in ends.
Here we're up to round 14.

Remember Round 9 where we worked in front loops only? That was to create this nice bottom ridge.
Now we're halfway! See how snuggly it fits!
Nearly there! (Psst! You can see my hands reflected in the aluminium...)
The inner sleeve is finished!

Assembling the Stubby Holder.
Now insert your inner sleeve into the outer sleeve and ensure the ends match up at the same level on each end. If not add or frog a row of single crochet.If it differs, this may because because your tension differed on each sleeve.
  Starting at the top opening of the stubby holder, add a contracting colour and working through both loops of both sleeves, chain1, then single crochet around the rim. Join with a slip stitch to beginning Ch1. Finish off.

Now turn the piece around and work on the bottom of the tube.

Starting at any stitch, join the contrasting colour, then chain 1 and single crochet in each stitch working through 2 loops on the outer tube, and back loops on the inner tube around to the end. Join with a slip stitch to the beginning st and finish off.
See photo below for close up.

Sew in ends and you're done!


What do you think? Now not everybody wants a bright, zany coloured stubby holder, believe it or not!
I also made one for my brother the Red Haired Raider in his team colours for the Canberra Raiders NRL team. 
For the colour purists, I apologise for the lack of yellow. The Raiders seem to change up their colours every season!

The Bear wants one in Blue and White for Ford as he is a V8 Supercar fan.

But for those moments I'm sipping on a can or bottle of pear cider, this is mine although Bear has been using it until I make his Ford one.

And the one I made for Geoffrey I mean Gilbert?


And the artistic hipster pic... (well not really. Just a photo of a bottle of Kirin in the stubby holder lying on Oregano.)

The Red Haired Amazona