You could say I've well and truly caught the crochet blanket bug as I'm back with a second blanket pattern less than a month after my first. However, this is such a quick and easy make I just couldn't resist. Also don't worry, I have remembered that I don't actually have a cat (yet), inspired by Leanne from This Little Space of Mine, this little blanket will be headed to my local Cat's Protection Centre.
The pattern is a super simple eight round granny square joined with a slip stitch. This was one of those patterns that just evolved as I crocheted, if I'd planned things a bit more I think I'd have done a seven round square and then used the join as you go method for the eighth round, as it would make the pattern even quicker. I'll try that for the next one! As it is the cat blanket took just a few evenings to make and used up some stylecraft special DK in Lavender, which I seem to have a particular excess of. The border is Parma Violet also stylecraft special DK.
Ch - Chain
Tr - Treble crochet
Sl st - slip stitch
Round 1 - Ch 4, sl st to form a magic loop
Round 2 - Ch 3, then tr 2 into the centre of the magic loop ch 2, *tr 3, ch 2 three more times. Until you have four sets of trebles. Sl st into top of the chain 3.
Round 3 - Sl st along to the corner, then ch 3, tr 2, ch 2, tr 3 into same space. *tr 3 into next space, ch 2, tr 3 into same space. Repeat three more times until you have eight sets of treble 3. Sl st into top of ch 3 to join, then break yarn.
Continue in pattern until you have eight rounds on your granny square.
Make six granny squares.
Join together with a slip stitch through the back loop only of each square.
The finishing touch is the gorgeous scallop border, I used this pattern by Kimberly Pye.
Insert cat below!
I'd love to know if you've made a blanket for your pet, or donated one to a animal shelter before. Happy crocheting!
These mini egg Easter cupakes are so good (I won't lie to you, I'm eating one as I type up this post), they're basically mini eggs and buttercream on top of a mini egg filled sponge with a hint of orange citrus - to stop them being too sickly. So, if you're in need of a Easter bake to share with family and friends, or let's face it, just need an excuse to buy another pack of mini eggs then look no further. Also it's totally fine, encouraged even, to sample a few of the mini eggs just to make sure they're okay before adding to the mixture. ;)
Makes about 14 cakes
You will need
Piping bag and nozzle
Family sized pack of mini eggs
100g caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
175g self raising flower
250g icing sugar
Line your muffin tin with the paper cases and pre-heat the oven to 200C.
Mix the caster sugar, egg, milk, butter, baking powder and self raising flower together into a bowl.
Grate the zest of the clementine into the bowl. Then cut in half and juice. Add the juice to the mixture.
Pour in most of your mini eggs, keeping some back to decorate with later.
Spoon the mixture into the muffin tins and bake for about 15 minutes, until a knife comes out clean.
While they cool. Mix the margarine and icing sugar together to make the icing. Leave the mixture in the fridge until the cupcakes are completely cool.
Ice a 'nest' onto the top of each cupcake and decorate with the remaining mini eggs.
Plus pattern + how to stop your giant granny square twisting
If you've been reading this blog for a while you may have noticed that I tend to favour quick crochet projects, being the impatient sort of person I am. But a girl can only look at so many beautiful crochet blanket patterns on pinterest and instagram without feeling the need to make her own...
I chose the classic giant granny square as my first blanket and used the luscious Attic 24 colour pack in original by Wool Warehouse - you can read more about how I chose the design in this post.
I surprised myself by really loving having a big project on the go. I had to pick it up and put it down a couple of times while I made other things, but always enjoyed having it as a back up. In fact, I'm starting to get itchy fingers again now, thinking about how I could start another one.
The thing that really kept me going (especially as the rounds got bigger and bigger) was the desire to get to the next colour and watch how each one transformed the look of the blanket. I wanted something happy and bright to cheer up my craft room sofa and it's definitely that! Plus as you can see from some of the pictures, I love it so much that it keeps sneaking down to the rocking chair in our living room too.
Read on for the super easy pattern and some top tips to stop the square tilting...
Granny square blanket pattern
Yes, you probably know how to make a granny square so a giant granny square blanket might seem like a no-brainer. However, as someone who'd only done two or three round granny squares before, as I added more rounds the square started to twist and turn out of shape. You'll see I asked for tips on this in my post in June last year and once I'd started using them it made a huge difference. So here's the tips I received written into pattern form.
Ch - Chain
Tr - Treble crochet
Sl st - slip stitch
Ch 4, sl st to form a magic loop
Ch 3, then tr 2 into the centre of the magic loop ch 2, *tr 3, ch 2 three more times. Until you have four sets of trebles. Sl st into top of the chain 3.
Sl st along to the corner, then ch 3, tr 2, ch 2, tr 3 into same space. *tr 3 into next space, ch 2, tr 3 into same space. Repeat three more times until you have eight sets of treble 3. Sl st into top of ch 3 to join, then break yarn.
Flip the work over and join new colour in the middle of one of your sides, not at a corner.
Then continue to work tr 3 into each gap with a tr 3, ch 2, tr 3 on the corners and change colour every two rounds.
How to avoid your granny square twisting
So the parts of the above pattern that help avoid twisting as your granny square grows are:
Only make 2 chain stitches at each corner (some traditional patterns chain 3)
Don't chain 1 in between your clusters of trebles
Flip your work over after each colour change so you work into both the front and the back (thanks to Paula from Pollyandherwildings for this tip!)
Join each new round at the middle of one of your sides, not at a corner.
Easy, but effective. I'm off to go stare at my new blanket some more.
Alicia Keys was so right "These streets will make you feel brand new, big lights will inspire you, hear it for New York..." I mean, I knew I'd love New York, but I LOVED New York. From the mesmerising views to the constant city sounds, not to mention the food, it's the most amazing, inspiring city. My Mum and I were there for just four days in February and knew we wanted to make the most if every minute. We planned out a list of our 'must do's' in advance, and came up with a rough idea of how we could fit these into each day. Obviously we went with the flow and the weather once we got there, but it worked out really well - we ticked off all of our 'must do's' and had a fab time!
There's still so much more to see (clearly, we need to go back asap), but for a couple of New York first-timers the below itinerary was perfect, so I thought I'd share it here, just in case you're planning your own trip soon. We stayed near Time Square and found this a great base for explore from.
Top of the Rock, Central Park and The Metropolitan Museum of Art
I'd read in advance that the Top of the Rock (Rockerfeller Centre) was cheaper and quieter than going up the Empire State and while I can't compare the two, from the Top of the Rock you also get the magnificent Empire State building in the view, so it seems a winner to me. We got the sunrise and sunset ticket, which means you can go in the day and back again at night to watch the sunset or just see the lights - so worth it!
After our morning trip to the Top of the Rock, we made our way to Central Park, stopped at the boathouse for lunch and then headed to The Met. We didn't have that long inside, so you may want to stay for longer as it's huge. After a walk back through Central Park (and a bit of watching the ice skaters) we headed for our sunset tour of the Top of the Rock.
The Highline, Chelsea Market, the Flatiron Building and Grand Central Station
After a lot of walking on day one we didn't give ourselves any breaks on day two, although did start the day with breakfast at Westway Diner and the most amazing pancakes with strawberries and maple syrup. And it turns out is the where Jerry Seinfield wrote the sitcom, Seinfield.
The Highline is a really lovely walk with lots of view points and interesting sculpture, it goes right past Chelsea Market so we popped down and had a look around all the amazing food stalls. Sadly we were too full from our pancake breakfast to stop for anything, so in hindsight do the diner on a different day! We then turned the day into our own little walking tour and walked to the Flatiron Building, past the Empire State, popped into the New York public library, then walked down to the Chrystler Building and Grand Central Station. Also there's a Bath & Body works just around the corner from Grand Central, you know, just in case you're in need of some candles.
We finished the day with a trip to Ellen's Stardust Diner, where Broadway hopeful waiters take turns to preform as you eat - they're all incredibly talented singers, the decor and food is a bit tacky, but it's still great fun.
The Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and Macy's
By this point our feet were starting to complain after all the walking so we braved the subway down to Whitehall for the Staten Island Ferry. It was a bit trickier to figure out than the tube is, using a system of letters and numbers as well as colours, but the kind man in the ticket booth helped us figure it out. We caught the free Staten Island ferry for a view of the Statue of Liberty, rather than paying to go to Liberty Island itself, which suited us fine.
Back on dry land we walked along the river up to Brooklyn Bridge, stopping at South Street Seaport for some lunch. We walked about halfway across the bridge, amongst the impressive supports and those iconic arches. When we go back I'd definitely walk across the whole bridge and explore some of Brooklyn. Just before our feet gave up, we headed to Macy's for a bit of window shopping.
Dinner on day three was amazing, totally by chance we walked past and decided to stop at John's Pizzeria on West 44th Street, we'd seen a queue outside the night before so figured it must be good. The pizza was delicious and as an unexpected delight the restaurant turned out to be in a beautiful old church that has been enclosed and hidden by the buildings around it, but still had a mezzanine and gorgeous circular stained glass ceiling, that looks just like a pizza!
Bloomingdale's and MoMA
Luckily our flight wasn't until in the evening so we had time fit in some more sightseeing on our final day. First up we headed to Bloomingdale's (via H&M, because heads up, Bloomingdale's doesn't open until 10am) for a good swoon at all the designer dresses and shoes. On the way out we stopped at the Magnolia Bakery for two of their famous cupcakes. There's not much seating in the shop so we walked our sweet treats down to Central Park and enjoyed them overlooking the beautiful Plaza hotel.
Our last stop was the Museum of Modern Art, to see Monet's Water Lillies and Vincent Van Gogh's The Starry Night, both were so impressive when viewed up close and personal, a perfect end to the trip.
That's it! Our jam-packed four days in New York City, I hope you find it useful. Have you been to New York? What should we do on our next visit?
Make these simple embroidery hoop table decorations in no time - a stylish addition to your wedding or party
If you read my thoughts for 2017 post back in January you'll have seen that I'm getting married this year; so when it came to picking my first Sew Crafty Design Team project of 2017, it had to be a wedding make! Right at the beginning of planning I fell in love with this image of an embroidery hoop table centerpiece on pinterest (the photo simply links to a photographers website), but luckily I knew I could make my own to add a fun, handmade vibe to our village hall reception.
These are so simple to make and only took about an evening per number, plus the relaxing nature of hand sewing helps calm the pre-wedding nerves. They're inexpensive and won't break the bank either. Plus you could totally hang one on your wall after as a keep sake and then reuse the other hoops - win, win!
1. Cut your fabric into a square a few centimeters larger than your embroidery hoop.
2. Draw or trace your number onto your fabric and insert into the hoop.
3. Using simple backstitch embroider your number with the embroidery floss. I used the floss at full thickness to speed up the process. Keep the back as neat as possible by weaving in your ends as this will also be on display.
4. Remove any trace of pencil of the erasable pen and iron if needed.
5. Wrap a section of the outer hoop with your lace or ribbon then re-inset the fabric with the number in the centre.
6. Make sure you're completely happy with the placement of the number and lace (as you won't be able to move it after the next bit..) then cut the excess fabric from the back of the hoop, keeping as close to the wooden edge as possible.
Voila! Stand them against flower filled jam-jars for a pretty table decoration. You could use any left over ribbon and lace to tie around flower vases and candle holders to tie the whole thing together. If you wanted to go even further you could spray paint the hoops first, use patterned fabric, sparkly threads or even beads, the opportunities to make them your own are endless.
*some of the materials for this project were supplied by Sew Crafty, but all opinions are my own
Easy and free crochet patterns - perfect for airplane, train or car
I don't know about you, but I'm always looking to fit in more crochet time so ahead of my long-haul flight I thought I'd roundup some of the best travel-friendly free patterns. For me, travel crochet needs to be simple in pattern and colour - as you'll see in the patterns below!
Most airports and airlines allow crochet hooks in your hand luggage, but it's always worth checking individually with your carrier. Plus a good tip is to take a cheap hook and yarn, just in case they do confiscate it at security on the day.