Monday, 22 August 2016

Catching Up on a Rainy Monday Afternoon

Hi everyone! 

It has been literally weeks (if not months) since I have blogged about something not CAL or Captain Poprocks related... everything jut got crazy busy all at once! 

I've started a new job at the Law Society, assisting with their Thought Leadership project. Plus, June to August is also the busiest time for youth exchange, as we are interviewing and finding overseas placements for our outbound students who will leave in January, as well as receiving and training the inbound students who arrive in July. 

Our Days for Girls project has also exploded (in a good way!) in the last few months - everyone wants to get involved! We have just sent 100 kits to Papua New Guinea with the Rotary Club of Umina, 100 kits will be going to East Timor in a few weeks time, and the next job is 200 kits for Cambodia in September (which is terrifyingly close...)


Our kits in PNG!
Our major fundraiser for Days for Girls is coming up on 24 September - we are putting on a High Tea, with delicious sandwiches, sumptuous hot morsels, and gloriously decadent sweet treats to enjoy, along with as many cups of tea and coffee as our guests can manage, AND an opera singer!! If you live somewhere around Sydney and would like to come along, here's the invitation! 



Just about everything is locked down now, so in the last week I've had a bit more time to do crochet... finally! (a bit like this post really) My crochet life is full of WIPs at the moment, and not nearly enough finished things.

I love this little cutie patootie - and just need to sew on her ears and weave the ends in on the blanket and she can go off to her new owner! The Heidi Bears animals are definitely among my favourite things to make. This pattern is Nellie the Elephant, and you can get it on Ravelry here.


I have an order for 5 (yes five!) mini kangaroos and joeys coming up! They are very cute, but a bit hard on the hands to make with 4 ply yarn and a 2.25mm hook. I've made all the parts for two more kangaroos and they just need stuffing and sewing. One set has been requested in "Tiffany Blue", so with any luck I'll be able to steal a bit of my mum's time in the next few weeks to do some yarn dyeing! 

While I finish off some other things, the joeys are having some well-supervised childcare at the Kangaroo Creche with my candy animals (and a rogue Yoshi). 


My Tie-Back Tunic is coming along! The back panel is done, the front is underway (although I am having a disagreement with the pattern) and one of the waist ties is complete. I absolutely adore the yarn - Cascade Heritage Solid in Wine, and Cascade Heritage Hand-Painted in Roses (75% Merino Wool, 25% Nylon). 


Plus the texture is just so nice (and the colour is more accurate in the photo below)...


Finally, because I don't have enough things to do already, I've started Polly Plum's Lotus Moon Tile CAL, using up my Stylecraft Special DK stash. The flowers are so beautiful, and the pattern so well written! 


And my trusty Zig Zag Project Tote has been called into service again! Lucky I didn't line it - the bag really needs to stretch a bit to squish all that yarn in it..


Phwoar, writing it all down makes me realise how much I'm doing. It's only 3 weeks until the Carousel CAL starts - do you think I'll get most of this done by then?? 

I better hop off the computer and get hooking!!! 

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Hex - Hex - Hexagon Blanket

Hi ya!

I (finally) finished the Hexagon Blanket! 

Man, I realized far too late that hexagon motifs meant far more sides to sew together than a normal square. Stupid me... ;-) I used the mattress stitch for sewing the pieces together and quite like it! It shows less than most other stitches and the blanket lies flat. It still has to be blocked but here come some pre-blocking pics!


There are 4 different colors of Stylecraft's Life DK in this blanket plus an extra color for the border. The border is a simple sc border as I didn't want to take the light from the hexagons.

At some point I thought about making half hexagons to fill in the side but decided against it. For one think I really like this edgy look and second I ran out of yarn. Oops. 


The blanket will be a gift to a little boy who will be born around christmas. Perhaps he will even share my birthday? I mean, how cool would that be?? The mom quite likes the idea as the due date is the 24th and she would like to have her soon before or after christmas (in Germany the main day of the celebrations is the 24th).

The blanket stats:

Yarn - Stylecraft Life DK
Colors - Denim, Teal, Copper and Cranberry (Grey for the border)
No of Hexagons - 64 (16 of each color)




What is on your hook at the moment?

Take care
Anne

P.S. In case that you are wondering about the odd blog title, here comes the explanation:
In Germany there is a children's audiobook series called Bibi Blocksberg. It is about a young witch and whenever she casts a spell it ends with "Hex Hex". The sound of it popped into my mind when I wrote Hexagon and therefore it just HAD to become part of the title.  


Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Announcement and Giveaway: Carousel CAL!

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNER, CLARE BRADSHAW

And thanks to everyone for entering!! 

Hi everyone! 

You've probably already seen the news on Facebook but... 

We are so excited to be working with Stylecraft again on the new CAL designed by Sue Pinner, the Carousel CAL!!!!! 




Anne will be doing the German translation, and Michelle will be checking and testing the US translation. The CAL will start on 13 September 2016. It has been designed in both Special DK and Stylecraft's new yarn range, Batik. 



We will also be posting our tips and tricks for each part of the pattern, so check back here if you are stuck or need help. 





To thank us for helping them out with the CAL, Stylecraft are offering a Special DK kit as a giveaway to our readers! The kit contains the following yarns:


 

Entries will close at 11:59pm on Tuesday, 16 August 2016 (European Summer Time). The winner will be drawn by Rafflecopter, and we will announce the winner here as well as contacting them directly!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Captain Poprocks goes to Canberra!

It's been quite a while since Captain Poprocks has been on an adventure! 

We were so lucky to have a wonderful family from Switzerland come to visit us in Sydney over the last two weeks. Our new Norwegian exchange student also arrived, and so it was a great opportunity for a road trip - to Australia's national capital, Canberra! 


If you follow us on Instagram, you might have already seen a few of these photos already! 

My mum had the great idea of hiring a 12 seater bus so we didn't have to worry about keeping two cars together. It also meant the 8 of us had plenty of space, with our luggage and the wheelchair as well :) 


I always forget that we are just not set up for winter here in Australia. We paused briefly at a rest area on the way down the Hume Highway, and the Captain was very relieved that he had remembered to pack his Drops Cotton Merino poncho. 

We stopped in Goulburn for a delicious bakery lunch, and visited the Big Merino on the way out of town! Goulburn was Australia's first inland town and became very rich off the farming of Australian merino wool. 



On our way into Canberra we went up to the Telstra Tower on Black Mountain. It was bloody freezing! But, a great view over the city and a good introduction to the capital.



Thursday's first stop was the National Capital Exhibition. This is a small museum, just one room, about the history and founding of the city of Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory.


As well as the interactive exhibits, there were also busts of the two designers of Canberra, Walter Burley Griffin and his wife Marion Lucy Mahony. The Captain, being a hopeless selfie-taker, had to get some photos with these two great architects.


Next was Australian Parliament House. Fortunately the politicians were all away on their winter holidays, so it was nice and quiet, and Kiah didn't have to throw any tomatoes. 

The Tapestry in the Great Hall amazes me every time I see it - it looks like a painting! There is such incredible skill in the fibre arts on display.


The Captain had some fun in the House of Representatives Chamber imagining he was in the visitor's gallery during a boisterous Question Time.


Boy did Canberra put on some great weather for us! Despite the chill, the skies were that incredible Australian blue. The sun's meagre warmth was much appreciated when we went up to the roof of the parliament to look at the view and spot the landmarks and features we learned about at the National Capital Exhibition.


One place was definitely on my list to visit - the cafe at the National Museum of Australia. Such good food, and very reasonable prices! The Captain made a pig of himself as usual.


I was flagging a bit at this point, so Mum and I sent our visitors, Kiah and the Captain off into the museum and we had a peaceful cup of tea in the cafe. When Kiah came back with the Captain after a bit, he made some new friends and I got to give out some business cares. He certainly is a great conversation starter despite being quite... well seasoned (dirty) by now.

Kiah found these terrifying looking sheep shears - apparently Captain Poprocks thought he'd be quite good at that job, if only we could get some shears in his size! Personally, I don't think he has the back strength to manage. Do lambs get shorn as well?


After a busy day, we had a relaxing burger dinner at the Canberra Centre with some of our local friends - it's always nice to catch up with people as well as tourist around :) 

Friday started early: at Questacon! The boys' eyes lit up at the idea of exploring this amazing, hands on science and technology centre. Plus, one of our friends (Victor) works there, and came in on his day off to show us around and introduce us to one of the more interesting residents - an Australian green leaf insect! It looked just exactly like a bunch of leaves... 



We also met another resident of the Spiders exhibition...


And the Captain had his photo taken with one of the Excited Particles who put on a great show about collisions! 


Friday afternoon we had a rest and shopping break, before heading out to Yass in the evening to have dinner with our wonderful friends Samantha and Andrew. After a great Aussie BBQ (the first one for our Swiss visitors, despite having been in the country for 3 weeks!), we played a hilarious game called Camel Cup. If you've never heard of the game, I can thoroughly recommend it - lots of fun!


After packing up on a grey and dismal Saturday morning, we stopped in at the Australian War Memorial. There were some new memorials since we visited last, for Australian soldiers who have served and are serving in Afghanistan.


There is a beautifully made statue of Simpson and his donkey (read more about his story here) in the sculpture garden leading up to the entrance of the memorial, and it was covered in red poppies. The 100th anniversary remembrances of the First World War are going on at the moment.


There were even more poppies wedged into the memorial plaques inside the building, which list all the Australian soldiers lost in wars. It is always a very sobering feeling, seeing so many names out of such a small country. 


If you've been to Canberra, you'll know that the city is designed around a triangle. There is a direct line of sight from Parliament to the War Memorial, so that politicians always remember the cost of entering into wars in the future. 


After a long drive, we finally arrived back home. It was a very interesting and informative trip (although, more places could have had information in German available!), and we were blessed with stunning clear weather! 


I wonder where the Captain will travel to next?

Sunday, 31 July 2016

The Good Things

Hi ladies and gents!

I hope you are having a brilliant Sunday! I get to pick my husband up after a weeklong conference in two hours, so my Sunday is pretty good. Plus there is talk of Sushi for dinner this evening... Yum!

When I decided to write this post, I was going to talk about things that annoy me - the the headache, my poor health at the moment, the cleaning and so on. Then I stopped and realized that I don't have to talk about bad stuff: I have the choice to talk about the good stuff and therefore... here is a Sunday post about the Good Things! On thing I learnt over the last years is that we can't choose what happens to us, but we can choose how we cope with it and how we act on it. So basically reframing seemly bad things into good experiences! I try to do that as much as possible and focus on the good things: It brings so much joy and makes my life better in general!


So with much further ado, here come the good things of the last couple of days!

- We have a new washing machine! The old one broke and our savings aren't too fond of the new machine BUT my, I am! One, it now stands in our flat and not in the basement (we live on the fifth floor). So washing became so much easier! Second, it cleans better than the old machine and the washing smells a lot better now! Hurray! Oh and third, it was a wool program, so I see machine washes for my crochet works!


- The hexagon baby blanket is 60 % sewn together! I hate the sewing BUT I love that I can give the blanket to a little baby boy who will be born in December! The blanket will be well loved and this makes me happy - even if I curse all the sides which need to be sewn together!


- I can't help in the refugee home as I wish I could BUT I could donate a whole bag of yarn and several Cross your Heart and Heart Teddies! They have a weekly crochet and sewing date for the women in the home and they always need yarn! I am very happy I could do something at last and also happy that my spare yarn found a good new home!



- My health is not as good as it should be and I cannot do as much sport as I would like too BUT we got a juicer a week ago and so I can make myself yummy and fresh fruit and veggie juices which are good for my health too. I rediscovered my childhood love for carrot juice... my mum told me she had to buy carrot juice in palettes when I was a baby/toddler because I loved it so much! I certainly remembered why the last week. Yum, yum, yum!



- My life doesn't allow we much crochet time BUT it allows me some time and that is good! I got new yarn (with the pound being so weak, who could resist some new Special DK from Stylecraft Yarns? Certainly not me). I don't know exactly what I will make with the new yarn but I have several pregnant friends and of course I want to give all the coming babies a blanket! 



So you see: Life is good!! :D

Hope your life is good as well and you have many wonderful moments!

Take care and enjoy life
Anne



Sunday, 17 July 2016

Winter Set

Hi you!

Now that the Stylecraft CAL is over, I finally have time for more crochet. Translating ate lots of my free time and thus I didn't hook as much over the last weeks as I hoped I would! Plus I really need to catch up with all your blog posts!


I went for a quick project this week: Anca brought home yarn from Iceland and asked me to make something with it. There were 4 balls of Lettlopi Yarn. 100 % wool (and found little bits of hay inside the yarn!) and aran weight. 


There were two balls of blue, one green and one yellow. It made finding a pattern a bit difficult because most pattern I had in mind asked for either more yarn or more than one ball of a color. I found two patterns in the end though!




This is the Little Wings Shawlette from Crochet Uncut. It worked up nicely and I think it had a decent size. In the end I realized I could have made it bigger (as I had no idea how the yarn worked up, I went for the safe option) but on the other hand, this sizes is pretty perfect, of you ask me. 


The other pattern I used was the Everly Head Wrap from Mamachee. I added 10 extra ch to the starting row as it looked too small before (and I was right!) plus I only did 9 rows because while it would have been very tight if I had gone for the original stitch count, the head band would have been far too big in height if I had stuck with the original 12 rows.  I am happy with how it turned out, but I hope the yarn won't be too scratchy to wear!

What is on your hook today?

Take care
Anne

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Frida's Flowers CAL - Edging and TA-DAH!

Congratulations on reaching the end of the Frida's Flowers CAL! The edging instructions have just been uploaded to the Stylecraft website in English (UK and US), Dutch and German - head over there to download now: http://www.stylecraft-yarns.co.uk/Crochet.htm. Thank you all so much for coming on this adventure with us! We have had a great time, learned a lot, and can't wait for the next Stylecraft CAL :D



I didn't record yarn usage for the edging, as there was no need to see how much was left! I came very close to using up all the black, but did not run out of anything. 

Here's a closeup of the finished edging:



Our top tips for the finishing off are:

1. Don't be afraid to join the pieces in a different colour to black! 

I joined my central flower in Greek Blue, and totally love the effect. I would have had enough black to do it, but as usual totally overestimated how much yarn I would need.


2. In Round 1 of the edging, where you do 3sc together in the dip of the zigzag edge, don't work into the joined stitches, just in the join. 

Hopefully the picture below will make this clearer :P If you are just more confused, ignore me!


3. There's a bit of fudging required in Round 2. My counts up to this point matched Jane's perfectly, and I still had to do some stitch-skipping to get the scs to land in the right places! Don't worry about the exact stitch count - after Round 2 everything will work fine.

4. Blocking. You don't necessarily need to block your Frida, but it does help the flower petals sit neater if you're working in the cotton or life dk (for 100% acrylic yarns, I find blocking is less effective). I just washed mine in the washing machine on a very gentle cycle with woolwash, pinned it out on my foam blocking boards and let it dry over a few days out of the sun. A bit of a wash helps the cotton soften up as well!


For our tips from previous weeks, visit:




Inspired by some of Frida Kahlo's artwork with lavish jungle/forest scenes in the background, I tracked down some urban jungle of my own to take some more photos! 



- Michelle & Anne xx