Thursday, 30 May 2013

Photography Fun

Many years ago, when I was at college and doing GCSE retakes (I wanted a higher grade in Maths but we won't digress into that subject :-)), I got the chance to take some new subjects that weren't on offer at Secondary School.

One of those subjects was Photography.  I remember those years with great fondness, it was such a great subject to take at that age, we spent many a happy hour 'on location' taking photos with our manual SLRs and then we got to spend time playing in the dark room processing and editing the images we had taken (whilst larking about and grabbing peoples ankles under the dark room tables - lots of fun lol).  OOhhh the excitement of seeing if what we had shot onto the film was the image we had in our minds eye.

Roll on a few years, a hubby and three children later and I had lost my creative flare.  It was sitting dormant inside me waiting to be rekindled.

Then about 3 years ago I set a New Years Resolution to get back my creative side.  I started with sewing and baking and then fell back into photography.  I bought myself an Olympus digital SLR with my Christmas, Birthday, Christmas money ......

I started taking snaps of family life .....

But was drawn to taking photos of nature and in particular flowers.  Probably something to do with the fact that they don't run away when you are trying to take a photo and tend to stay still when you ask them too (unless it is a windy day of course).

I can lose myself for hours, looking at flowers and playing with camera settings to get the photo I want.

I do miss the excitement of using a dark room but love the way I can take lots of images of one flower without worrying about running out of film.  There is then the excitement of uploading the images and editing them.

I do sometimes feel guilty that I am now spending time creating for my own enjoyment rather than creating things with the children and feel maybe I need to re-balance that slightly but I am so glad I have got the artistic me back :-)

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Crochet Ripple Blanket .... Ta Da !

Back in early 2012 I bought a whole load of wool in the hope that I would be able to make my family our very own ripple blanket.  Roll on several months to 17 December 2012 and I finally managed enough quiet time to sit, figure out the pattern and start it !

I printed off a fantastic photographic tutorial created by Attic 24 for her Neat Ripple pattern and set about starting a chain.  To do this I measured my daughters bed and was calculating it to fit her bed.  I did a test chain to see how many chains would fit 1 inch and then calculated how many chains I would need to fit her bed.  I started off with roughly 200 chains (or a few more I think).  I then moved on to the first ripple, here I hit a problem, the chain seemed to be pulling the ripple round rather than laying flat :-(  At this point I gate crashed the local toddler group knowing that my friend Kathryn aka 'The font of all Crochet Knowledge' would know how to mend it, she advised me to use a bigger hook for my chain and then move back down to my 4mm hook for the ripple - it worked fantastically!

So off I went again, happily rippling away.  I tried to do at least one ripple of each colour a day, so two lines a day.  This seemed to work well for me as it didn't set off my tendonitis (or whatever I have wrong with my arms at the moment) too much.  I love the way that not rushing it meant that as I was creating the blanket I was memorising what was going on in my life so it holds lots of memories.

I rippled away to keep calm on the run up to Christmas (Christmas always gets me in a bit of a tiz).  I rippled away wondering what a tick tick tick sound was on a very rainy day only to realise that tick tick tick sound was in fact a drip drip drip sound of our roof leaking !

I took my growing blanket to my parents on Christmas Day and rippled away whist chatting and laughing with family and friends.

As you can see above the blanket slowly grew to be a lot larger than I had meant it to be (excuse the escapee ball of wool hidden under the blanket in the above photo :-)). So I had to ripple for a lot longer than expected.

I took my blanket to work and added more ripples in my breaks whilst my lovely work mate Valentina sat beside me unravelling a large merino wool cardigan she bought from a charity shop and winding it into new balls of wool.

My other work mate Manny used to sit snuggled under the end of my blanket as I was creating new ripples on the other end.

The children spent many a happy hour sitting under the blanket whilst I was working on it, it feels so snuggly and can easily fit all three children under it.  Even Mr Sweetpea had it thrown over him whilst I worked on it in bed some evenings.

I then got to the end of the ripples which made me feel a little sad .... I really enjoyed the rhythm of creating them and the memories they hold.  I then set about finding a pattern on how to edge it.  I followed the pattern on Little Tin Bird's blog for this and it seemed to work really well.  So I filled in the ripples to make them straight and then went round again with a single crochet to add a bit of a border.  As you can see above Piggle (one of Little Sweetpea's fav soft toys kept an eye on progress).

I then decided I wanted to add a scallop edge to it so followed a tutorial on You Go Girl's blog for this. I did make a little mistake with this as the nicest side of the scallop is really facing the wrong side but I still love it.  Little Sweetpea was ill when I was completing this part of it so she snuggled under the now named Comfort Blanket to make her feel better - it worked as if by magic and made her feel a lot happier :-)

I still felt the Comfort Blanket needed a little extra so I added some roses and leaves to the corner.  The rose pattern is from the book Cute and Easy Crochet and the leaf pattern is from Attic 24s blog.

I rather like them as a finishing touch.

Here is a break down of what I used:

Stylecraft Special DK wool in colours -

Pale Rose

I bought 2 x 100g balls of each colour and used 1 1/4 ball of each colour on the blanket.

I started the blanket on 17 December 2012 and finished it on 20 April 2013.

Crochet hook used - I used a 4mm Tulip Etimo Rose cushion grip hook.

I wasn't too sure about the colours when I received them, I bought them online and it is hard to tell what the true colours look like on the screen.

Nevertheless I am rather in love with our Comfort Blanket now it is finished.  I love all the memories it holds for me and love how when the children snuggle under it and it brings a smile to their face.  Who would have thought a few balls of wool could mean so much and bring so much joy :-)