Sunday, 27 April 2014

Crochet Cushion Covers

I'd like to take a moment to show you what I was working on last year at this time. Crocheting motifs to make crochet cushion covers for a wicker chair we bought for our daughter years ago. The chair got left behind when she moved to California six years ago so I decided we would take it to Boulder for her when we drove last August. The chair seat cushion had an unbleached cotton cover but it was stained and showing its age. I decided to cover the seat cushion and buy a square cushion to cover for the seat back. I bought a good sized clean cushion at Value Village for $5 which was less than buying new cushion forms at Fabricland.

I love African flower motifs and so does my daughter so decided to incorporate them into my design. I found a great tutorial for crochet and fleece cushion covers by blogger Bunny Mummy. I liked that her fleece cushion cover was hand-sewn as I am a bit intimidated by sewing machines especially when it comes to threading the needle and loading bobbins. I can do it but it's not my favourite thing.

My daughter told me she loves grey and teal colour combinations so I selected a pretty pale grey mix for the accent and background colour and a combination of sage, medium teal, aqua and purple for the motifs. This is the fleece cover from the back. I love purple and it contrasts nicely with the grey and teal. The yarn used for this project was a mixture of Bernat Satin and Canadiana 100% acrylic yarns. 
The crochet front incorporates an African flower motif with 8 petals in the centre with a border which turns it into a square. I added extra rows alternating all the colours used in the motif to make a granny square finishing with a grey outside border. I think granny squares are fun but adding an African flower to the centre changes the look entirely. Don't you just love the way it turned out? I'll bet it makes you want to try one too. You won't be sorry if you do.
For the seat cushion I made African flower motifs with 6 petals in a hexagon shape. I used 18 hexagons and 7 half hexagons incorporating 5 different colours for the petals. Again, I used purple for the centres and petal outlines.  Grey was used for joining and for the borders. The petals were done using sage, medium teal, aqua and grey. It took a bit of time to settle on a final arrangement for the motifs. You know how that goes. You lay them out and look at them for awhile. Then you walk away, come back and rearrange them all again. Perhaps you're better at making decisions with colour and layout but it honestly took me days or maybe even a couple weeks.

Anyway, I finally decided to start with a grey flower in the centre surrounded by a circle of sage flowers then a circle of alternating aqua and medium teal flowers with a mixture of sage and medium teal half flowers. Once all the flower motifs were joined, I crocheted a border to smooth out the edges and fit the shape of the seat cushion. The border was done using a mixture of half double crochet, double crochet and treble crochet to fill the gaps followed by a couple rows of single crochet. I must admit that I fussed over it a lot but was quite happy with it in the end. What do you think? Was it worth all the fussing?
I followed blogger Bunny Mummy's basic instructions for a removable envelope style fleece cushion cover but had to work out how to join the slightly odd shape of the seat cushion. Again, although I fussed over it plenty, it wasn't that difficult and went together nicely. The only difference being that I had to sew around the half circle edge instead of just folding it over as instructed for a square cushion. This photo shows the cushion covers from the back with the pretty contrasting crochet edge in grey. 
I think it looks great from the back and the front. The photo below shows the chair at its new home in Boulder. Our daughter was happy to get her chair back and loved the new cushion covers too. Remember I have provided links to the motifs and the cushion construction if you would like to try to make one too.
Using fleece and crochet makes these cushion covers soft and cuddly. Our grandson loves to rearrange cushions and get comfy. Chair cushions easily convert into play cushions.
I think he is adorable and love that he likes to cuddle on cushion covers made by me.
I had a few (six to be exact) African flower hexagons leftover after making the seat cushion cover for our daughter so I decided to make a few toys. I made two balls and a cat. The balls were for our grandson and his friend. The cat was for his friend's baby brother. I sewed the hexagons onto leftover fleece to cover the gaps. The balls were light and soft and suitable for tossing inside the house. To differentiate them, I did the side seam in grey for one and red for the other. For the cat I loosely followed a free pattern by blogger Little Woollie here. Isn't this a cute kitty? If a cushion cover seems like too much work then try this kitty instead. It's a nice easy project to finish.
I was so pleased with the way the cushion covers turned out for our daughter, I couldn't resist making a couple for myself as a fall project. To keep it interesting, I used a different motif. I really like the circle in a square pattern available for free on Red Heart's website. I selected some of my favourite bright colours and made two cushion fronts to fit two cushions we had on our sofa. I bought light sage fleece for the base. 

I quickly discovered that fleece comes in different weaves. I bet most of you crafters already know that about fleece but it was a surprise to me. The purple fleece was a relatively loose weave and easy to hand sew. The light sage fleece was a very tight weave and very difficult to get a needle through. The blanket stitch done with yarn for the crochet edge really was a challenge. In fact it was so tough on my fingers that I actually got out my old sewing machine when it was time to sew the edges. Even so I love the way they turned out and think it was worth the extra effort. 
Green edging on the back of one and blue on the other. The fleece is actually a very light sage, not white like it looks in the photos. 
The old cushion covers which are still underneath these new covers matched our curtains. They were nice but these covers provide a much appreciated splash of colour to our family room. Can you tell I love bright colours? 

This week I have been taking a bit of a break from crochet and started watching The Walking Dead series again as it seems to suit my mood. Last weekend, I developed a painful case of frozen shoulder (left side). It's a total nuisance requiring visits to the chiropractor, physio and massage. It always takes longer to fit in appointments after work but it's probably good to space out the various therapies to allow the inflammation to go down a bit.

So far I have only seen my chiropractor Dr. Carolyn Dalgity. If you're in London and looking for a chiropractor, I highly recommend her. She tells me I had a diagnostic ultrasound done on my shoulder 7 years ago which indicated calcified tendinitis of the left shoulder with abnormal lesions on the shoulder joint. Funny I have no memory of that. I must have been in denial all this time as it has been getting worse but has always been tolerable until now.

I'm especially frustrated because I can't ride my bike just as the weather is starting to improve. From what I've read on the internet, it can take months for frozen shoulder to heal. I certainly hope I recover more quickly than that.

Although I am taking a break from crochet, I have started one small project. It's a cute crochet mouse wearing a pretty dress. I will be sure to share a photo and pattern link once I'm done. In the mean time send healing energy my way and wish me luck for a speedy recovery.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Easter Crochet

This year I would like to share Easter crochet I made over the past two years.

In 2012 I wanted to send something special to our Grandson in California for Easter. I decided to make a bunny with a floppy yellow hat which could double as an Easter basket along with six eggs for hiding. He loved it and still enjoys hide and seek with the eggs. 
My daughter sent this photo of our Grandson hunting for eggs at Easter. Isn't he cute? I loved that he enjoyed the gift and had fun with it. 

For fellow crocheters who might be interested, the bunny pattern can be found here. I made the hat using the hat pattern from Paddington Bear by blogger Yellow, Pink and Sparkly here and the eggs were made using this pattern by blogger Greedy For Colour. All of these patterns are free and provide easy to follow instructions. 

In 2013, our daughter moved to Boulder, Colorado. I decided to send three little chicks in eggs as an Easter surprise for our Grandson. I used this pattern to make the eggs and shells but added wings and copied the face style found in this photo on Pinterest. I also joined the shells with a couple slip stitches so they would stay together as one piece. I took this photo before mailing them off to Boulder. 
I loved the way they turned out and was thrilled when my daughter sent me this video of our Grandson receiving his gift. It makes me smile when I watch it. He is so cute and I love to see how much he has changed in the past year.
This year I decided to keep the decorating simple and use what I already have on hand. Pom-poms were the only new addition. I know I've shared most of these photos over the past few posts but thought it might be nice to show them all in one place.
I love Easter and am looking forward to a delicious Easter dinner at my parents' house with our family. There will be 11 of us this year. We will miss our daughter and her family as they are too far away to join us. I did not send crochet Easter treats to Boulder this year but am busy gathering things to send with my parents when they drive to Boulder to visit in May. I'll have to take pictures of the pile before they leave. I'm sure it will fill their vehicle.

This year our Grandson will be playing with real live chicks at Easter. I don't think crochet creations can compete with that. You can read all about it on our daughter's website Sweet Maple Photography and blog here. I spent lots of time on my grandparents' farm as a kid so I'm glad our grandchildren get to experience a bit of farm fun too.

Happy Easter Everybody!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Pom-Poms and Party Time

We celebrate two family birthdays in April, my Mum-In-Law (April 8th) and my Dad (April 10th). A fun family dinner is our favourite way to celebrate birthdays. To make it special this year, I added a few pom-poms to the decor. I used a Clover pom-pom maker from London Yarns. I bought four different sizes and love how easy it is to make beautiful fluffy pom-poms. Blogger Meet Me At Mikes has a great tutorial explaining how to use the Clover pom-pom maker. My tools of the trade are pictured below: Clover pom-pom maker, sharp scissors, a crochet hook (to join the pom-poms in a garland) and cappuccino.
I liked the way the large pom-poms turned out using bulky Bernat Roving yarn in Rice Paper (off-white) so I decided to make a bunch for a garland. I had enough yarn to make ten altogether.
I used five fluffy pom-poms to make a garland. The pom-poms are joined using a chain stitch with about 45 chains in between each and at either end.  To join the pom-poms to the chain, I dropped the chain stitch from the hook and inserted the hook through the middle of the pom-pom to pick up the loop again.  Then I pulled a long loose chain around the pom-pom which I pulled tight and wiggled until it was in the middle of the pom-pom and hidden in the fluff. I think this method worked rather well. For now the pom-pom garland adorns our fire place but I think I will send it to Boulder for my daughter to use as a photo prop.
With the remaining five pom-poms I decided to fill a colourful basket. I think it adds a fun spring feel to the table along with some fresh narcissus and a bowl of chocolate Easter eggs.
The narcissus are beautiful and smell amazing. My hubby's SO's parents gave them to us to brighten our table for dinner. A perfect addition I think.
I made a few colourful tiny pom-poms to decorate our wreath in the dining room. I also added a pretty wind chime found in one of my recent clutter clearing sessions. I may add a few more pom-poms but I think it looks just fine for now.
How do you like the Elmo napkins? I had them left over from our grandson's 2nd birthday. I think they add a nice birthday ambiance to the table for our parents and the colours go perfectly with the crochet and yarn centrepiece.
Our birthday menu: Raging Turkey (chicken breasts wrapped around bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin from The Butchers Blend at the Western Fair Farmers' and Artisans' Market), small roasted potatoes drizzled in butter, broccoli and sauteed bacon with onion, oyster mushrooms and baby bok choy. For dessert, my super talented sister-in-law made a deliciously gorgeous layered banana cake. It was perfect. We all had a wonderful time together eating, drinking, chatting and laughing. Family birthdays are the best.
We missed our daughter and her family of course as they live too far away to join in. Thank goodness for social media and web messaging. It helps to bridge the gap. I have to show you a little something I bought for our granddaughter at the Market last weekend, a cute little green gingham dress and bonnet. It is hand made by Kinsalu and absolutely adorable. Kinsu Hand Made is located upstairs at the Western Fair Farmers' and Artisans' Market and worth checking out. She specializes in children's clothing. I had a hard time picking just one thing as all of her stuff is so cute.
I am also very excited to show you my Business/Blogger cards. I designed and ordered 100 cards through Vistaprint just for fun. They arrived on Friday and I love them. Not bad for $8.50 including shipping and taxes.
One more thing, I have to show you our fluffy poodle Sadie. As I rushed about taking photos this morning, she followed right behind me. Upstairs and downstairs we went. As I came back upstairs to work on this post, I couldn't resist snapping this shot of her waiting patiently at the top. Too bad you can't see the natural pom-pom on her tail. No wonder I love pom-poms!
Note: My daughter prefers I use "My Husband" or "My SO" (Significant Other) instead of "Hubby" in reference to her Dad so I've edited this post to honour her wishes. Of course I chose My SO. I like that the best.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

This Week

This week I have thoroughly enjoyed tulips in our bathroom. They are drooping but still very colourful and beautiful. I will keep them until they fall apart then add them to our compost bin.
This week the weather cooperated and I was able to ride my bike to work Monday through Thursday. I have missed my bike rides over the past few months. Biking to work is a perfect way to start and end the day. Once I start biking, I don't like to 'waste' a good weather day by driving. Luckily it rained on Friday as I had to drive to the gym after work. 

This week I decided to cancel my gym membership at The World Gym in London. My hubby and I have really good monthly rates but I just don't like going. I prefer spending time outside on weekends and I like to go home at the end of my work day. I thought I might use the pool which is really very nice but I only swam a couple times over the winter. In the end, I decided to cancel my membership which saves us $500 per year. I will continue to keep active with things I love; biking, hiking and walking the dog. Plus we have a really good 'home' gym if I want to exercise even more.  

At the start of this week, I put my crochet aside and focused more on my clutter clearing goals. I have been making regular runs to Goodwill but decided a few of our things might be worth selling. Since our 17 year old does not yet have a job, I told him he could keep any money he makes from the sales if he creates Kijiji postings and manages the sales. I gave him a Black and Decker Bread Maker (asking $25), a covered cat litter box (asking $5) and a large metal dog cage (asking $60). He sold the cage for $45 yesterday so now he has added his X-Box and games to the pile of items for sale. 
I also made a sale this week. I have three winter dog coats that don't fit our poodle but I thought they might be of value to somebody. Our son didn't think they would be worth his effort so I posted them and sold all three for $15. 

I added my Rollerblades (Women's size 7/8) and a Sunbeam Crock Pot plus Little Dipper Warmer set to the list of items for sale. I don't like to roller blade and I already have two other crock pots. 
I also spent some time this weekend clearing out drawers from a desk in the basement and sorting through memorabilia in an old trunk. The desk is empty and the trunk is lighter. I managed to clear out some of my childhood mementos but not my kids' stuff. I will go through it again another time. I really feel like I'm making progress.

After all these clutter clearing efforts, I finally settled down to crochet the dress for Sweetie Bear. I used a dress pattern by Yellow, Pink and Sparkly found here and made a few alterations so it would fit this larger bear. I increased the starting chain to 37 from 29 and added two more rows to the bodice plus two more rows to the skirt. It fits Sweetie Bear and looks really cute.

Sweetie primping in the mirror
Sweetie tip-toeing through the tulips.
This week has been fabulous and productive. I have enjoyed my cappuccino while working on this blog post and the weather has warmed up so it is time to get ready to ride ... a nice ride west of the city sounds perfect for today.
This week I plan to make pom poms in a variety of sizes and colours to decorate our wreath for spring. I'll be sure to post a photo when I'm done.