Mandala Designing and the Return of the Square Obsession

One evening I sat hook in hand and realised I had no projects on the go. What?!!

As July came to an end and with it an entire blanket of crochet squares and the publishing of my own square pattern, I found myself repulsed by squares and drawn to circles πŸ˜‚ I completed ‘Pebbles in the Pond’ by Haafner Linssen (pictured above) from her lovely book ‘Mandalas to Crochet’, and then found myself at a loose end after I finished my very first piece of knitwear, the asymmetrical scarf I shared with you last week.

One evening I sat hook in hand and realised I had no projects on the go. What?!! It was a very strange feeling after a few months of completing a great many wips, including four crochet blankets. I looked at my books but it was late in the evening, and nothing caught my eye. I felt lost, I don’t mind telling you. So I decided to just play around… and two hours later, well past my bedtime, the ‘Frank Mandala’ was born!

Within 24 hours the pattern was written and out with testers. The feedback has been great, and I’m happy to share that it will be released as a free Ravelry pattern at the end of next week. I had such fun creating it: a blur of joyful concentration. It would make a great first mandala project for a beginner who’s ready to go a little further, with back loop stitches and bobbles (link to photo tutorial included in the pattern). I’ll make the download available here too, so look out for it and do let me know what you think if you decide to make it.

In the midst of all that activity, my last pattern, the ‘Maya Square’, was tagged in the BAMCAL2018 Ravelry group in a member’s choice poll. After thanking them for considering my square – so very exciting for a new designer such as myself! – and looking at all the discussion and pictures in this ‘block a month’ project group, I decided to join in too. I didn’t think I’d be up for another blanket so soon, let alone one of squares, but I found myself powerless to resist! I’ve already finished one block and am almost done with a second. Below is ‘Maybelline’ by Polly Plumb, in progress. What is it with crochet squares that makes them so addictive?!!

I plan to make the group block plus the members’ choice block each month, then choose my favourites and do them solid or in different colourways, plus perhaps a couple of my own squares to bring the count up to 30 blocks. Of course it will be the height of summer by then, but never mind: I can join in the aircon! And I truly do believe that you can never have too many crochet blankets πŸ˜€

(As an aside, may I namedrop? Edie Eckman was a guest in that group, and I spoke to her, and she replied! I was a bit starstruck :D)

What’s your take on crochet blankets? Do you always have one on the go? Do you prefer huge intricate designs, or blocks, or rows?

Crochet Mum

It’s the second week of the school holidays and I’m writing my roundup of the past seven days of this crochet life on my phone. Because I know if I open the laptop at the table, little people will be upon me in seconds – what is it with that?! (And how the heck do people homeschool?! I always find myself asking this question at some point toward end of the school hols πŸ˜‚). Of course, there are many pluses to having no routine and spending lots of chilled-out time with my girls. However, they also bicker incessantly and I do struggle with having such little time alone (cheerful introvert talking). However, such is motherhood, and I have maybe ten minutes right now, for which I am grateful 🧑 So, here goes!

True to the spirit of the yarn-obsessed mother, I attempted to introduce some yarncraft to our holiday activites. It was traumatic πŸ˜‚. To cut a long story short, my youngest (5) was not interested, and my eldest (7) was too frustrated by the antics of her disinterested sibling to focus for long. I myself, however, can now french knit and finger knit (thank you. YouTube!). Heart above is shaped from my fingerknitted thneed 😁 Eldest daughter and I have decided to try again when youngest daughter is not present. And I am of course more than happy to sow the seed of yarn addiction πŸ™‚

In grownup yarn news, this week I impulsively purchased some Caron Cotton Cakes and made a Desert Winds Scarf. It’s a nice easy pattern for a good-sized triangle scarf; I’ve made one before in lovely Bendigo Woollen Mills Cotton 4ply. This yarn though…not so lovely: talk to me about Caron Cotton, fellow hookers? Was I just unlucky to get knots in both balls, including right on the colour change, plus hideous yarn vomits?! It was supposed to be relaxing quick make, and thus perfect for school hols. It turned into a lot of unravelling and rewinding, and I have a bunch of ends to sew in – not what you’re looking for in a variegated yarn, right?! Also, the colour changes are too abrupt for my liking. I’ve read such good reviews, so I was disappointed. Your thoughts?

In happier yarny news, I am 99% done with my three and a half year old blanket wip!! Am on the fourth and final round of the border (Edie Eckman #107 – will share deets next post, my time is nearly up – Muuuuuuum??) Yahoo!! Here are some progress pics. The colours make me oh so hApPy 😊😊 I hope to share the completed blanket with you next week. Until then, I wish you happy hooking πŸ’Ÿ

Squeezing in the Yarn Time

It doesn’t feel like a Tuesday because we’re now in school holidays, so we have no routine, only chaos πŸ™‚ The German (my husband) has the first week off so we’re enjoying some good family time, which is great. They’ve all gone down to the river in the village this morning though, while I get through the laundry backlog. So I’ve quickly bunged in a load, and here I am, pretending there is no ironing to do πŸ™‚ I have to catch my yarny moments while I can in school hols; I’m sure all crochet mums (and dads?) relate.

So, first up! An update on my longest running wip ever: a thirty block crochet blanket (pictured above) using patterns from the Look At What I Made 2014 Block A Week CAL, that I’ve been working on for three and a half years! I’ve finally joined all the squares and completed the base round. Now I’m choosing the border. I absolutely LOVE ‘Around the Corner Crochet Borders’ by Edie Eckman. It’s a book I return to over and over, not just when I need border inspo, but well, just to flip through and now then – so much pretty! Incredibly inspiring, too; I’m starting to feel the urge to design my own border one day, something which Edie absolutely encourages. The book not only contains 150 different border designs – including charts for each one as well as written instructions – it also contains lots of technical notes such as explaining stitch count maths – finally, I get it!! – and even tips on design concepts and troubleshooting problems. Five star review from me.

In learning to knit news, well…I can say I have persevered. I managed to finish a dishcloth, after a great deal of ripping and re-catching of stitches. I have since been assured that ripping and re-catching of stitches are very necessary knitting skills, so I suppose I am making progress? I bought ‘More Than A Dozen Dishcloths’ by Lisa Carnahan with the idea of learning new techniques and stitches in small, manageable projects. I have started and abandoned a few already truth be told, and I feel that this is not a book for beginners. Or at least not this beginner! While the patterns are pretty, and I will keep at them for sure, if you require any illumination at all regarding stitches or techniques, it is not to be found within these pages, you must go elsewhere.

So, in knit conclusion for this week, I remind myself that it took me many frustrating attempts to learn to crochet, and the key is to remain calm and persevere. So I shall continue to intersperse my obsessive crocheting with a little knitting, and we shall see!

Finally, as we all know, you can never have too much yarn, and I have been on a self-imposed ban since my pilgrimage in February all the way from here on the Mid North Coast, New South Wales, to Bendigo in Victoria, for the express purpose of visiting Bendigo Woollen Mills (1,376km by road; thankfully we flew!). It is therefore high time I added to my stash, no? πŸ˜€ I have been hearing great things about Paintbox Yarns, so I’ve now got some on order. Yah! I decided to give the dk cotton a try, cotton being my fave fibre here in the subtropics. I will report back. Have you used any Paintbox yarns?

I also couldn’t resist a wee browse on the Knitpicks site. They always have great yarn-related bits and bobs that The German for some reason deems absolutely unnecessary, but which add an extra ray of sunshine to my life, such as amusing tote bags and mugs. I also ordered a storage case for my new Knitpro Zing circular needles, as I don’t like the case they come in, and this one has extra pockets too. But I will share more about that when my happy mail arrives and I get a proper look at it all. I cannot wait!!

Final news for this week is that I have at long last designed a new 8 inch (20cm) afghan square. I loved putting it together and I’m super excited to say that it is being tested right now as I type, in several different countries, and in both UK and US terms. I hope to publish it via Ravelry very soon. Meantime you can download my other square pattern for free here. It is lonely there, I feel, my one little square to date. But, there will be more!

I think this has got quite long, so I shall stop now. I’ll be back next Tuesday with more happy hooking vibes. Remember you can subscribe via email (there’s a button at the top of the sidebar) should you so wish. Only one email per week, on a Tuesday, containing that week’s blog post.

What’s your longest running ever wip?

Do you knit as well as crochet? Which do you prefer?

Bye for now, and I wish you happy hooking! ❀

P.S. I have created a Facebook page for Hooks and Hills, if you are of the Facebook persuasion and would like to pop over and say hi. I am very active on Instagram too. Much more so than Facebook, but perhaps it’s easier to get a multiway convo going on a Facebook page? I don’t know. We’ll see πŸ™‚

~This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a very small commision if you choose to purchase a linked product~

LoveCrochet

Novice Knitting & Crochet Plotting

I feel rather like a ten year old in Home Economics (showing my age there, I guess!), but the truth is I’m rather proud of my knitted hot water bottle cover, completed this week πŸ™‚ I’ve learned to cable cast on with needles, which was no small feat as I have only been able to cast on the regular way and with a crochet hook to date! I also managed to get to grips with increasing using the M1 method, both purl and knit, and the shaping also involved decreasing (a lot easier to master). I used oddments of lovely bright Nundle Chaffey. It’s a 100% Australian wool produced by Nundle Woollen Mills in New England, NSW; a lovely little working mill which I have visited several times and which is one of only three remaining mills in Australia. The pattern is from“Handmade Style: Knit” by Janine Flew.

Back in my crochet comfort zone this week I have been reflecting on June’s efforts, and planning for July. I finished no less than three crochet blankets last month (!!): a granny square blanket using a design by Margaret Hubert called ‘Blooming Granny” (from “The Granny Square Book”) in Stylecraft Special DK; the Hydrangea Stripe Blanket by Attic 24 n Stylecraft Special DK; and Sophie’s Universe by Dedri Uys in Patons Cotton Blend. Needless to say I did not begin all these in June! They were all started in 2018 though, unlike the block blanket wip which I began in 2015 and which I am finally finishing this week (maybe, haha).

While tweaking and joining blocks in the past day or two my thoughts have been turning to design once more. Searching back through my Instagram feed this very early morning (thank you, cat!) I found a square I finished designing but never got around to writing up last winter. It’s called ‘Winter in the Glen’ and I’m going to go through my notebooks and see if I can find my scribbles; failing that I’ll have a go at redoing it from the picture. Then I’ll be hunting out my pattern tester spreadsheet to find those lovely hookers who tested ‘Winter Sun‘ for me last year and said they’d love to test for me again, to see if they are still willing. And thus I hope to publish my second Ravelry pattern in the not too distant. I’m a bit excited πŸ˜€

Are you a crochet designer? What’s your favourite part of the design process?

Winter Crochet

I’ve had a break from blogging these past six months, but not from crochet! If anything I am hooking more than ever. Happy days! Both my young daughters are now at school and here toward the end of the second term, we are nicely settled into our routines of sports, play and learning. Having school-aged children is a brand new and exciting chapter for me, having been a stay at home mum to little ones for almost eight years. I am increasingly involved in the running of our family business, but otherwise I continue to be a happy and grateful stay at home mum with a HUGE yarn obsession πŸ˜€

I won’t harp on with a six months update but will instead begin where I am. June has been a month of seriously getting stuck into finishing wips, especially crochet blankets, here in the Australian mid-winter. One of my blankets is running at over three years now! And there were many more! I’ve finished two crochet blankets this month, and I also thought I’d come to the end of Sophie’s Universe (pictured above) but I’ve decided I might grow her into a rectangle, so there may be a way to go on that one yet. I’m also working to complete another earlier CAL from the Look at What I Made blog, the block a week blanket (or on average Block a Month if you’re me). I’ve made 30 blocks, decided on placement, and am now ready to get into joining them. You can see progress on both these wips on Instagram if you do so desire πŸ˜€

One completely new development is the beginning of my journey as a fledgling knitter. This is a whole new direction for me and I am starting from the basics I learned as a child (knit and purl) and turning to YouTube for all the rest! So there will some needles as well as hooks from here on in πŸ˜€ I’m drawn by the possibilities of knitted wearables. I keep seeing beautiful knit patterns and wishing I could…time to stop wishing!

I also plan to start designing again. I have published one (free) crochet pattern, the Winter Sun Square, details of which are here. There will be more πŸ™‚

I think that’s it from me for now. I’ve got some ‘no knead’ bread on the kitchen counter that needs a tiny bit of bashing, and I want to make some hummus, and bliss balls. Then on to my daily chores after a bit of business paperwork, and it will be YARN TIME until the school bell goes. Woot!

Sophie’s Universe Refriended

Is ‘to refriend’ actually a verb? I fear not. Well not to my generation anyway! However, that’s what’s happened in recent weeks 😊 After three months in a box, I managed to get my Sophie back on. Hurrah! I don’t think it’s unusual to suffer some kind of a mental block with this one. She truly is a labour of love! Here she is, grown from Part 6 to Part 7. I am now well in to Part 8. Will share update again soon…

I’ve had a bit of writer’s block going on too recently – just not feeling a posting urge – yet my crojo remains happily ON so there’s quite a lot to report! But I’ll make this one short and sweet, so I can hook just a lil bit more before my daughters return from school and preschool. And do a bit of secret Christmas stuff too – I love Christmas, I didn’t until I became a mum, but now I enjoy it more with each year they grow. My youngest just turned five and my eldest is seven. Here is a rare sharing of a picture of my life outside crochet ☺

Would you love to start a Sophie but feel a bit daunted by the prospect? Don’t be – the pattern instructions are amazing in their detail and Dedri writes in such a friendly and encouraging style! I have purchased the gorgeous book, but you can also find the entire pattern for free (wow!) here.

I started working on Sophie’s Universe in June of this year. Have you completed Sophie? How long did it take? 

Until next time,

Happy hooking! Pam x

Colour Me Happy Crochet

Another wonderful week of crochet has gone by, and the destash has continued most successfully! I’ve completed another few colourful kitchen cloths in cotton:

And over three metres of rainbow bunting in fun acrylic:


I love working with a big variety of colours, especially brights! Colourful projects are always especially feel-good for me. Are you the same, or are you drawn more to neutrals?

My Stylecraft Special DK stashbusting project continues apace and I’m getting a lot of joy out of it – doubtless I’ll be distracted by another project or two along the way to completion but the past few days I’ve been happy just making more Blooming Grannies (pattern by Margaret Hubert in The Granny Square Book). It’s a join-as-you-go blanket, my first and I’m sure it’ll not be my last. Love this join method – how about you?

Until next time, happy hooking!

Pam