Saturday, 28 February 2015

Monday, 23 February 2015

Embellished :: Oscar frocks

Back in January I posted a roundup of my favourite frocks from the Golden Globes because I LOVE a good red carpet. And as it was Oscar night last night I thought I'd share my favourites, but much like the films nominated this year I wasn't wowed by the selection on show...

Even so I've found 7 of my favourite embellished frocks and a couple of statement necklaces.

1. Julianne Moore in Chanel
In my opinion this would have been a much better frock without the floral motif repeated at the hips and at the bottom of the gown.
2. Cate Blanchett in a Tiffany & Co necklace
Cate can do no wrong in the style stakes and wore my all time favourite Oscar dress, this time it was her statement necklace that stole the show.
3. Felicity Jones in Alexander McQueen
One of the few very embellished gowns on show, this mixes different panels of beading.
4. Rosamund Pike in Givenchy
This gown is embroidered rather than beaded but still looks amazing - check out the full length view for the cut out effect on show as well.
5. Jennifer Lopez in Elie Saab
Although there is beading on the top of the skirt too, most of it was on the bodice.
6. Scarlett Johansson in Versace dress (necklace not credited)
I've seen this outfit on a couple of worst dressed lists, while the dress is quite plain I love the statement necklace and the colour. 
7. Lupita Nyong'o in Calvin Klein
The most embellished frock on the red carpet, the pearl beaded detail was amazing but all I can think about is how heavy all that beading must have been!
8. Emma Stone in Elie Saab
So different to the other dresses on show last night the pattern of embellishment is quite simple but very effective.
9. Jennifer Aniston in Versace
Also spotted on a couple of worst dressed lists - I really can't understand why - I love the beaded detail, especially that the effect is created without using solid beading across the whole gown.

Well done to Julianne and Emma for making both of Embellished Elephant's favourite frocks round ups!

Which red carpet frocks that caught your eye?

All photos are from Just Jared and links to the originals can be found on my Embellished board on Pinterest.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

New technique :: Tunisian crochet

I've been wondering about Tunisian crochet for a while, but the fact it needed a whole different type of hook put me off a bit. And then I was having a bit of a shopping spree and thought I'd have a look a Tunisian crochet hooks* and ended up ordering some!

So what to make? After seeing this post - I thought I'd try a scarf, I've been promising my other half I'd make him a scarf to replace one he lost. I bought the yarn from John Lewis in the order, but the scarf got put on the back burner whilst I finished off other projects for Christmas presents.

I headed over to Pinterest and found this tutorial. As with any other crochet stitch I'd quickly worked up quite a few rows, even managing to successfully change colour.

I loved the texture.

But when I showed it to my other half he declared it 'too bumpy' - the reverse is quite bumpy so I get his point so I'll have to find another project for my new found Tunisian crochet skills - but at least I've given it a go an learnt something new.

*there are some affiliate links in this blog post. If you click on the link and buy the product I get a small amount of commission. 

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Inspiration :: Crochet heart collection

I'm not really a big one for Valentines Day, maybe because my other half isn't really the romantic type (I have to buy myself flowers). But we've always managed to exchange Valentines cards.

The very first Valentines card I gave him was handmade with lots of different coloured little crochet hearts. He still has that on display in his study amongst the CDs and football books. 

So I thought I'd round up some of my favourite free crochet heart patterns because ... well when else would you need crochet hearts?

1. I love this granny heart by Zooty Owl - she has some great projects. 
2. These hollow centre hearts are something a bit different and the button gives it a cute finish. 
3. This is a straightforward pattern for a little heart. Perfect for making into a scattered heart Valentines card.
5. When one heart ain't enough make a string of them!
6. For the jammy dodger lover in your life. This is going to feature on the Valentine's Day card I make this year. 
7. I've been looking for a rosy heart tutorial for ages - all the pins I found were just photos. 
9. The texture on these double sided hearts is great and they are made in a way that means you could stuff them too. 

All links are to the original blog post. Because the Internet is the internet I can't guarantee that the blog will still be active if you click on the link in a few years. 
If you want to repin any of these projects just head over to my Crochet board on Pinterest where you'll find these and many other crochet delights. 

Finished make :: Colourful crochet circles placemat

So this is the first project I've completed to help me improve my crochet. The technique and stitches are fairly simple if you've been crocheting for a while like I have. However, for me the new skill is designing, writing up and sharing a pattern of my own creation.

We sit and eat our dinner on our sofa and often I will bring the pan of food into the living room and dish up in situ. In those instances I've been using a folded up tea towel to prevent the hot pan damaging the coffee table. This had lead to tea towels building up in the living room looking rather unsightly. 

I wanted to change this and create a placemat/table runner in bright colours to match the decor in the living room.

Here's how I made it ...

4mm crochet hook 
DK yarn - 8 warm colours (reds, oranges, pinks and yellows)
DK yarn - 8 cool colours (blues, turquoises and greens).
DK yarn - cream
large eyed needle

(US terms first, UK in brackets)
Single crochet - sc (double crochet - dc)
Half double crochet - hdc (half treble crochet - htc)
Double crochet - dc (treble crochet - tc)
Treble crochet - tc (double treble crochet - dtc)
Slip stitch - ss
Chain - ch

The three circles of this pattern (rounds 1-3) should alternate between 'warm' colours and 'cool' colours how you combine them is up to you. I'll give a chart at the end showing the colour combinations I used if you want to replicate my colour combinations, but as a lot of the yarn I used was of unrecorded origin you won't be able to reproduce something identical!

Round 1: Using the magic loop technique, make 8dcs (scs) into the loop and pull tight. Slip stitch and fasten off. You don't need to leave a long end especially if you use this technique.  

Round 2: Join the next colour and make 2dcs (scs) in each stitch. Slip stitch and fasten off (16 stitches)

Round 3: Join the next colour and work dc, 2dc all the way around. Slip stitch and fasten off (24 stitches)

Round 4: Join the next colour and make 1dc(sc) in the stitch where you joined the yarn. Work as follows in each stitch around *htc, 2tc in same stitch, ch 2, 2tc in same stitch, htc, 3dc* completing 3 corners, for the 4th corner work as indicated but only complete 2dc. Slip stitch and fasten off.

Round 5: Join the outer colour
Create 28 blocks with cool colours in the centre and 28 blocks with warm colours in the centres. 

Lay out the blocks and arrange them so you have blocks alternating warm and cool centres. Try to avoid concentrations of particular colours. 

Once you are happy with the arrangement stitch the blocks together. I used whip stitch but have a look here for different joining techniques.

The final step was to crochet a border of scs (dcs) all the way round.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Finished make :: Crochet covered jars

I'm only a relatively recent Mollie Makes subscriber (although I did take advantage of the digital sale over Christmas and treated myself to quite a few digital back issues when they were just 99p each).

This month's Mollie Makes was all about organisation and the minute I saw the cover stars I knew I had to make them.

The added bonus was it meant I got to try a new crochet technique - tapestry crochet. Seeing the reason I've got a 'craft of the month' is to get me to try new techniques it ticked some more boxes.

I'm forever hunting for the right crochet hook and my knitting needles are scattered everywhere, so I picked two empty jam jars suitable for storing my hooks and needles and got crocheting.

The first jar I covered was the bigger, fatter one. For this jar I went with an ombre look round the middle. I just love this combination of colours and may well be covering another jar very soon with just the stripes and no cream yarn.

I love those colours so much ...

Anyway for the second jar I tried the tapestry technique, using my own design (the rounds on my jar were a multiple of 6 so the pattern was 4 stitches in the colour then 2 in cream for 4 rows, followed by 1 row of cream and then switching to the new colour etc etc).

I found that using the tapestry technique did show through the blue yarn behind the cream, but hey I don't think it's a problem - it's just part of the design now! Still love those colours ... so here is another close up!

Here are my pair of jars together.

This is a great project to try if you've never custom shaped crochet to another object such as a jar or if you've never tried a technique like tapestry crochet.

Have you tried this project? What are you using your jars for?

Friday, 6 February 2015

Out and about :: Malta

If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen a couple of pictures I posted from a recent trip I took to Malta (the trip was for my day job).

Although I spent most of my time there in a conference room I did get a bit of time to go out and explore Valletta yesterday here are a few of my pics ...

Weathered and repaired wall
Colours and textures of doorways and windows
Who would have thought a keyhole could look so beautiful 

Balconies, balconies, balconies
If you want to see a few more head over to my Flickr page.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

My bookshelf :: Crochet books

I have a bookshelf of craft books that I've acquired over the years (like all crafters I'm sure!). Even with the advent of the Internet, and Pinterest in particular, I still buy the odd book and magazine to add to my collection. Here's a look at my crochet books ...

As I wrote about in my post about my love affair with crochet, this was the first crochet book I acquired. It covers the basics including granny squares and gave me enough information to make my first big project - a granny square blanket. It had a good range of projects but some of these are items of clothing like skirts and jackets which seem a bit advanced for a beginner, but I guess the book is not just aimed at beginners.

This book has a great range of stitches including edging, floral motifs, granny squares, lace, cables. Basically every type of stitch you could ever want to try. I've used this book mostly for floral motifs but it's a great book if you just want to crochet and try something new.

I bought this book after seeing Lucy at Attic24 mention a project she had made from it. It does have some cute projects but I've only ever made one, the coffee pot cover as some of the projects aren't really my style.

I only got this a few months ago at The Handmade Fair and it has quickly become a firm favourite. Even though I would call myself and experienced crocheter I love the simplicity of these projects and the great outcomes. All the animals follow the same basic structure and there are so many to choose from and they all have their own little story. So far I've made the elephant (of course), the rabbit and the koala (which now lives with my niece Charlotte).

This is my latest acquisition, a Christmas pressie. I'm yet to try any of the techniques or projects in this book but I'm planning on having a go with crocheting with wire and I've ordered myself some Tunisian crochet hooks*, so watch this space ...

*there are some affiliate links in this blog post. If you click on the link and buy the product I get a small amount of commission. All pictures are taken from Amazon.