Mainly bees……….

Not a lot to show you this week. I was going to work on my seahorses but I seem to have mislaid one! I know I saw it somewhere recently but can’t remember where.

So I finished a floor cloth 0550-floor-clothsince I thought it would last longer than the shop sort and I believe on getting down on my hands and knees with a cloth to clean the floor.

I also made a couple of crochet orchids. 0550-crochet-orchids(I devised the pattern about eighteen months ago  ago – https://rainbowjunkiecorner.wordpress.com/2014/06/19/orchid-obsession/) and had so many helpful comments I became lost in indecision. There was also the question of size since some sprays of orchids have flowers of different sizes and also how to create the stems.

However I have now seen sprays of four equal sized flowers in shops so I am making one of them! There were suggestions for making multi-coloured orchids that I would like to try but I decided to just start with white. I am using my original pattern which I think is the best I am going to get.

However as that is not very exciting I thought I would share some photographs of bees that I took in Chichester last Autumn plus one of a different sort of bee I took in my garden. 0550-bee-1The others are all square. 0550-bee-2-squareI love the veining on their wings. 0550-bee-3-squareThey are so delicate 0550-bee-4-squarewith frilly edges.0550-bee-5-squareAnd such fluffy bodies!0550-bee-6-squareI think these are what are called white tailed bees. 0550-bee-7And one (I think it is a honey bee) from my garden.0550-bee-one-square Except the first, that is on a buddleia plant, they are all taken while feeding on sedum plants.

Shower puffs – Final report

After my last post I was fully intending to go away and try my cotton puffs for a few weeks and see if they went black and mouldy but I soon thought better of it because just because mine didn’t get mouldy (they had shown no sign of it so far) didn’t mean that someone else in a damper environment mightn’t have problems. And even more importantly I had to squeeze them so hard to get them to foam up a bit that it hurt my wrists.  (I have arthritic wrists these days.)

However I did experiment with a few alternatives.

I made this 0537-bobble-sideBobbles one side (for a massage effect if wanted) and plain the other 0537-flat-sideas something that was cotton and actually foamed up as much as the cotton puffs but more easily

0512-blue-and-pink-puff
Picture here for anyone who didn’t see the earlier post

and dried in only a couple of days unlike the round puffs that took  up to six days to dry fully so would be constantly wet in frequent use. (If I had decided to use such a thing permanently I would make it a bit longer so it covered down to the wrist instead of just over the fingers and palm, with a hole for the thumb of course.)

But then I remembered years ago, how I had been given a small piece of natural sponge as part of a gift set and how pleasant that had felt against my skin so I decided to treat myself. 0537-natural-spongeA natural sponge costs a lot more than a nylon puff but will last for much, much longer. It is also soft on the skin in use though it feels rough when dry. It doesn’t foam up as much as a nylon puff but more easily than I found the cotton ones.

However becoming content with a less bubbly wash and now having a shelf in my shower at shoulder height, 0537-shower-shelfI decided that a bar of soap does quite a good job as well.

However the cotton puffs are very pretty!0512-pink-puffbut it is up to you which you prefer.

A more symmetrical Granny Ripple

The new chart. 0525-symmetrical-granny-ripple-chartI find it very hard to make a chart for a ripple but I think this is better than the chart for the original ripple.

When I devised my original Granny Ripple pattern, I chose between three samples that I made.

Three samples

At the time I chose the middle one.

This was my favourite at the time for two main reasons I think.

  1. I knew that a Granny ripple could never be as symmetrical as this simple ripple 0220-cushionback)but I was looking for something that was as symmetrical as possible and chose to seek this on the increasing and decreasing row. 0525-symmetry-in-original
  2. The very slight assymetry of the result made the ripple seem further away from the Granny zig-zag that I didn’t want.

However

Months of looking at my spectrum blanket and musing on fact that the peaks were sharper than the troughs 0197-onbedcloserled me eventually to realise that removing the extra three treble group between the decreases could actually lead to a symmetry of the two row pair. 0525-symmetry-in-new-version(This is the top sample.) Made into a blanket it is rippley enough I now feel!

I wanted to try this out and, having really enjoyed putting together the colours for the sea-and-sand blanket I made for my daughter, Ripple blanket on setteedecided to try a not too large lap/shoulder blanket using the same colours which I could drape on my bedroom chair where the colours would really go.

There is nothing I  enjoy so much as having a blanket on the go, especially my granny ripple that is so easy to do!

I calculated that this blanket would only need about half a ball of each colour and so I collected together any balls where I had at least 50g left and supplemented this by buying these from a shop 0525-shop-yarnand these on-line where the shop didn’t have the necesary colours.0525-on-line-yarn I also indulged myself, as you can see, by buying the three sizes of hook I use most often with DK yarn of the Clover Armour hooks that I have come to really love. (Well it did mean I didn’t have to pay postage!)

Here are all the colours ready to start the blanket. 0525-all-the-yarn

And here is how far I have got. 0525-blanket-up-to-dateAnd a comparison of both ripples. 0525-both-ripples

Here is the modified pattern (UK & US versions)

PATTERN (UK version)

I am using a 5mm hook (but some people may get the same result with a 4.5mm hook) and DK yarn. I like using a 5mm hook for granny square type blankets because it produces a soft fluid result.

I also find that introducing a chain between each group of three trebles as happens in granny squares makes granny stripe type blankets too loose so I have omitted them.

My ripples come out about 6” (15 cm) between adjacent troughs (or peaks).

You need to decide how many ripples wide you want to make it.

To start you make a chain [(39 x number of ripples) + 3] long.

[However my tip is to actually make the chain about 5 chains longer than you need and then when you have finished the first row you can actually undo any excess at the start of the chain, link by link, and it all remains quite secure. This way if you make a small miscalculation you don’t have to undo the whole row.]

I don’t think that this pattern is as bad as some as you only have to work into every third chain on the foundation row!

Row 1: work 2tr into the 6th chain from the hook (I don’t count the loop on the hook itself).
Then repeat (miss 2ch 3tr into next chain) until you have [(13 x number of ripples) –1] three treble groups. Then miss 2ch and 1tr into last chain.

Row 2: 3ch = 1tr then 2tr, 1ch, 3tr, into first space. 3tr into each of next 4 spaces. Miss a space. 3tr into next space. Miss a space. 3tr into each of next 4 spaces. 3tr, 1ch 3tr into next space.

Then repeat for each ripple:-

3tr, 1ch, 3tr, into first space. 3tr into each of next 4 spaces. Miss a space. 3tr into next space. Miss a space. 3tr into each of next 4 spaces. 3tr, 1ch 3tr into next space.

Until the last ripple where the very last treble should be worked into the chain 5 chains from the first worked treble group instead of into the space. This will give a firm edge.

Row 3: 3ch = 1tr then work 3tr into each space between ‘three treble’ groups and finish with 1tr into the 3rd ch at start of the row below.

Row 4: 3ch = 1tr then 2tr, 1ch, 3tr, into first space. 3tr into each of next 4 spaces. Miss a space. 3tr into next space. Miss a space. 3tr into each of next 4 spaces. 3tr, 1ch 3tr into next space.

Then repeat for each ripple:-

3tr, 1ch, 3tr, into first space. 3tr into each of next 4 spaces. Miss a space. 3tr into next space. Miss a space. 3tr into each of next 4 spaces. 3tr, 1ch 3tr into next space.

Until the last ripple where the very last treble should be worked into the 3rd of the chains in the row below instead of into the space. This will give a firm edge.

Repeat rows 3 & 4 as many times as you like.

Another plus point about this pattern is that all the odd rows after the first one are just a matter of working 3tr into each gap except at the start and finish.

PATTERN (US version)

I am using a 8/H hook (but some people may get the same result with a 7 hook) and worsted weight yarn. I like using an H hook for granny square type blankets because it produces a soft fluid result.

I also find that introducing a chain between each group of three double crochets as happens in granny squares makes granny stripe type blankets too loose so I have omitted them.

My ripples come out about 7” (18 cm) between adjacent troughs (or peaks).

To start you need to decide how many ripples wide you want to make it.

To start you make a chain [(39 x number of ripples) + 3] long.

[However my tip is to actually make the chain about 5 chains longer than you need and then when you have finished the first row you can actually undo any excess at the start of the chain, link by link, and it all remains quite secure. This way if you make a small miscalculation you don’t have to undo the whole row.]

I think that this pattern is not as bad as some as you only have to work into every third chain on the foundation row!

Row 1: work 2dc into the 6th chain from the hook (I don’t count the loop on the hook itself).
Then repeat (miss 2ch 3dc into next chain) until you have [(13 x number of ripples) -1] three double crochet groups. Then miss 2ch and 1dc into last chain.

Row 2: 3ch = 1dc then 2dc, 1ch, 3dc, into first space. 3dc into each of next 4 spaces. Miss a space. 3dc into the next space. Miss a space. 3dc into each of next 4 spaces. 3dc, 1ch 3dc into next space.

Then repeat for each ripple:-

3dc, 1ch, 3dc, into first space. 3dc into each of next 4 spaces. Miss a space. 3dc into next space. Miss a space. 3dc into each of next 4 spaces. 3dc, 1ch 3dc into next space.

Until the last ripple where the very last double crochet should be worked into the chain 5 chains from the first worked double crochet group instead of into the space. This will give a firm edge.

Row 3: 3ch = 1dc then work 3dc into each space between ‘three double crochet’ groups and finish with 1dc into the 3rd ch at start of the row below.

Row 4: 3ch = 1dc then 2dc, 1ch, 3dc, into first space. 3dc into each of next 4 spaces. Miss a space. 3dc into next space. Miss a space. 3dc into each of next 4 spaces. 3dc, 1ch 3dc into next space.

Then repeat for each ripple:-

3dc, 1ch, 3dc, into first space. 3dc into each of next 4 spaces. Miss a space. 3dc into next space. Miss a space. 3dc into each of next 4 spaces. 3dc, 1ch 3dc into next space.

Until the last ripple where the very last double crochet should be worked into the 3rd of the chains in the row below instead of into the space. This will give a firm edge.

Repeat rows 3 & 4 as many times as you like.

Another plus point about this pattern is that all the odd rows after the first one are just a matter of working 3dc into each gap except at the start and finish.

Shower Puffs – follow up

I have discovered where I was going wrong using the puffs. I was not getting them wet enough. When I made sure they were full of water then the shower gel would froth up. Not as much as with the netting puffs but with one of my shower gels, that frothed far too much in the past, this was a very good thing!

However the small one Three puff size comparisonin this picture, that I was using, does feel a bit too small in use so I decided to buy some more cotton yarn. (100g balls so I would not need to have a join.) Cotton yarnAnd made one according to the original pattern (except for the start! This time I worked 10dcs (US scs) and then 4 into each instead of 40 trs (US dcs).)

And I produced this. Pink puffMaybe I was wrong to concentrate on making something that would dry more quickly.

The small puff I have been using took three days to dry when just hung up in the shower.

The small puff I was using weighed a little under 25g. This one weighs 65g.

I also made a puff in the blue cotton but this time I decided to start with my 40trs (US dcs) equivalent start and then try the alternate chain and trebles instead of all trebles for the other rows.

The resulting puff was a little smaller and squidgier and weigh between 40 and 45g. (This is good in that you could make one out of a 50g ball or two out of 100g). This means they would cost about £2.50 each if you made two. Just a bit more than the netting one.)

Blue and pink puffThis is taken in the shower as I had used the pink puff and it was still damp.

I didn’t find that the blue puff lathered up any better than the pink one and they actually work as well, if not better, with soap than shower gel in my opinion. (I stopped using soap in the shower, as if I dropped the soap it would often break, and went on to shower gel. The cotton puffs might be a way to go back to soap though I don’t know if that would be cheaper!)

As to how long the different ones take to dry. That requires more time. The greeny grey tiny one took three days to dry. I don’t know with the pink or blue ones as at present they are both still damp!

General Conclusion

The original pattern (https://fibersofgreen.com/2016/09/13/crochett-bathshower-puff/)  is as good or better than my alternatives, though may well take longer to get dry, but maybe if it is in constant use that doesn’t matter too much. Cotton shower puffs are soft on the skin but much harder to get to lather up so you know which bits you’ve washed! From my experience with dish cloths they should last a lot longer than the netting ones so although the original cost is greater, it would work out cheaper in the long run.

A Crochet Shower Puff

I expect any of you who use a shower puff find that they pass from being like the one on the left Old and new puff comparisonto being like the one on the right all too quickly. And eventually fall apart all together. My attempts at re-folding and tying them only last for a short time.

So I was intrigued when browsing through ‘crochet’ posts in the reader to come across someone who had made a crochet one. She also gave a link to the place where she had found the pattern.

The post was https://addsomestitches.wordpress.com/2010/12/28/tuesday-tutorial-crochet-bath-puff/ and the pattern was at https://fibersofgreen.com/2016/09/13/crochett-bathshower-puff/

So I decided I had to try.

(In respose to my comment, I was told that the puffs do take a while to dry and so -)

A brief digression here regarding my attempts at making dishcloths.

My first attempt at a dishcloth had been with what was sold as ‘dishcloth cotton’ and was ostensibly double knitting weight but which was actually closer to aran. First dishclothAs I thought this was a bit stiff and took a long time to dry, I tried again, this time with something called ‘craft cotton’ that was much more what I would have called double knitting weight. Dishcloth from craft cottonThese two dishcloths had been made using one of the textures from the book we used for the CAL, Square no. 52 from CALbecause I thought it’s slightly raised surface would be good for cleaning.

My son-in-law had asked for a similar dishcloth but in making one for him I decided to try a looser structure in the hope that it would dry more quickly. (Again with the craft cotton.) Dishcloth made for son-in-lawFinally I found some intriguing, though of course more expensive, cotton yarn that was so pretty that I decided to use it for a dishcloth. Dishcloth from Sirdar Beachcomber yarn

I am still using all three of my dishcloths but my favourite is the last one and though it is now white through being soaked in bleach from time to time, it is the quickest to dry and the most comfortable to use.

Because of the above, and because I had quite a bit, I decided to try to make a shower (or bath) puff using what was left of the craft cotton.

In the end I did not follow the pattern exactly.

The first row involved working 40 trs (US dcs) into a 4ch circle. There must be a way of doing this but it was not obvious to me. (It wasn’t a problem of getting stitches into the hole but of having reached the end of the circle after about 20.) So, to save time, I decided to start again and try an alternative method of getting to 40 by working 10dcs (US scs) into the circle, then 2dcs into each stitch on the next two rounds.

Having already strayed from the pattern, I decided (remembering my dishcloths) that instead of continuous lots of 3trs (US dcs) into each stitch, for the next three rows, I would alternate trebles and chains. working (tr,ch,tr,ch) into the first stitch (or gap on the following two rows) and then (tr, ch) into the next.

This gave a very solid ball, so I decided to try again using my pretty cotton.

I worked out that I probably didn’t have enough of this to make a whole one, so I worked one up based on a starting ring of only 30 stitches.

Here you can see the two shower puffs compared to a shop one. Three puff size comparisonI decided that although it was smaller, the pretty one felt the most comfortable in my average female (glove size 7) hands and so this would be the one that I would try using, maybe reusing the craft cotton for a floorcloth.

(I have to admit that when new the shop puff was about as firm as the cotton one.)

I also decided to try making one based on a starting point of 30 stitches out of some bamboo yarn I had. This was softer than the craft cotton and less jarring on my wrists as I made the stitches. Like with the chains between the trebles, I felt that a looser structure and so more air would mean quicker drying and maybe even more bubbles.

Unfortunately when I came to use the small pretty one I found that it produced very little bubbles.

I have two sorts of shower gel at present one of which I don’t like because it produces so much foam that the tray is full of it at the end of the shower. Using the cotton puff, the gel I like didn’t foam at all and the with the other one the foam was barely visible. I suppose the puff was no better than a flannel.

I am now not sure whether to try using one of the others or to do a rethink. Would one made exactly like the original pattern be any better I wonder?

I expect many of you know that I can get a bit obsessive about things and like to find the perfect way so there may be more about shower puffs when I have experimented a bit.

I have several others projects to work on but I was pleased to find a new crochet project to play around with.

Cushion cover revealed

First a bit about the side made out of thirty six one-colour squares.

I started by making some squares out of yarn I had left over from my blanket. Blanket on the setteeLipstick, Pomegranate,Shrimp, Saffron, Citron, Meadow, Sage, Aster, Violet, Plum.

As I mentioned in a previous post the idea was to use these round the outer part and have bi-colour ones in the centre but I couldn’t get that to work so I chose two more colours: Aspen and one colour I had not used in the blanket but had bought as an impulse purchase: one of Stylecraft’s new colours, a dark blue called Lobelia. I thought it was prettier than Royal.

This gave me three each of twelve colours, a total of thirty-six.

I had worked out that a 7×7 square would be too big and a 6×6 square a little too small for a side of the cushion, so I chose to make a 6×6 square with a border. Finished side
This time I decided to crochet the squares together using slip stitches on the wrong side. Slip stitchingThis was much quicker and easier than sewing. Not that I regret sewing the other side of the cushion cover as that would have been tricky to crochet because of the different sizes.

Some information about the other side. Cushion cover - first side that was madeThere I had used only seven ‘rainbow’ colours: leftovers from the blanket again – Lipstick, Pomegranate, Shrimp, Spice, Saffron, Citron, Meadow, Sage, Aster, Violet, Plum. Again I had added the Lobelia as an ‘indigo’ colour.

And here is the finished cushion. Final cushion first sideand the other side. Final cushion second sideIt was hard to decide how to close the cushion so I decided to crochet all the way round leaving the ends easy to get at so if I needed to wash the cover at some future time I could pull out the crochet round the last side and re crochet afterwards.

And here a couple of picture of my old and new cushions.Two cushions first sidesandTwo cushions second sidesThese are two cushions not four! I can just mix and match which side is showing.

Three choices – my choice

It was interesting to see that your preferences seemed to be evenly spread between the three possible choices.

Number two was actually the first arrangement I tried out. First arrangementBut I had wanted something where the colours flowed into each other and with the bright red diagonal in particular I felt that this was breaking up into triangles.

So I tried again. Chosen arrangementThis I felt gave that sense of flow I wanted and I think that was what Nanacathy saw.

Having realised that there were only three totally different arrangements if I kept the basic pattern and colour order, I laid out the last arrangement which was given as the first of the three. Third arrangementThis, to my mind, very much dived the shape into squares. A red-orange square, a yellow-green square, a greeny-blue square and a dark blue-purple square.

This made me certain that I would use the pattern shown as three in my arrangement. All three choicesThe squares, the triangles and my chosen one.

All attractive in their own way.

I have joined the squares and will show you them next week and maybe the finished cushion if I have got that far. It seemed too much to add to this post.

Three choices

I have finished all the squares for the other side of my cushion cover and been arranging them and rearranging them to decide how to join them together.

My first idea had been to do a few in solid colours then a few in two colours and blend them together but after using up a lot of the yarn left over from my blanket making about thirty squares, I couldn’t work out how to fit them together with some bicolour ones so I chose two other colours and made just one-colour ones.

There are just three possible ways to arrange them if I want them in a sort of rainbow order round the centre.

All three choices

Now I must admit I have decided which I am going to use but I thought it would be interesting to ask you which arrangement you would find most pleasing for a cushion cover as I feel each has a distinct character.

Here are the three choices in a logical order. Choice oneand Choice twoand Choice threeand all together again. All three choicesSo which would be your choice?

A Crochet cushion cover

Do you remember when I showed you this teaser. TeaserWell the squares on the left were for one side of a cushion cover. So are the ones on the right but I haven’t made the full set yet.

Now I haven’t done much crochet since I made these and it seems to have been all knitting. I started sewing them together – yes! sewing though it isn’t my joining method of choice as any other method seemed too tricky – some few weeks ago but I started by using some left over ‘camel’ coloured yarn and I decided that showed up too much and that black would be better. I didn’t have any black yarn.

Now having finally got around to buying some black yarn and spending the time on sewing them together I can show you the finished side for a cushion. Cushion cover I have worked a couple of rows of dcs (US scs) round the edge but will have to leave that now till I make the other side.

I have been planning to make this for a long, long time.

I was first inspired seeing THIS BLANKET. I knew I didn’t want to make a whole blanket but I thought I could consider making a cushion cover.

So I drew this sketch to see how I might arrange the squares to give the right effect. Initial sketchMore recently, after I had finished my recent snuggle blanket, I sat down drew a larger version and coloured it in with an eye to using some of the yarn left over from the blanket. Coloured planIt may not be obvious but I mainly chose shades that were different to those I would normally use for a rainbow inspired selection. Spice instead of jaffa for instance.Cushion coverWhen it is finished I think it will make a colourful companion to this one. Previous cushion

I’ve been a bit distracted!

So this is just a bit of a teaser. TeaserThe pile on the left is complete the other one not so. (I’ve moved over more to knitting!)

What you can see at the back on the left is a pile of winter jasmine that I have pulled down and pulled up!

I haven’t had much time lately for reading blogs or thinking of things to write about because I have been out in the garden digging out anything that is hard to look after.

I am planning to make my garden much more easy care with a preference for fragrant plants and bee friendly ones. Bulbs are good too.

Over the years I haven’t taken many long views of my garden as it is easier to photograph the individual flowers and it never looks wonderful all at once.

Here are a couple though taken at different times. Left-hand side of gardenThis is the left side of the garden with my apple tree. This is the shadiest side and I have decided it makes more sense to have the rotary washing line this side and the apple tree on the other.

This is a view of the paving on the right hand size. It was taken when I was experimenting with drawing a maze but I couldn’t find a way to make it permanent. This was drawn in chalk. Paving on right sideThe pots to the left are on the step up to this higher level. I am getting rid of all pots in the back garden, (except my chives and the blue ones just to look pretty), not so much because of the watering but because it is hard to weed them and replant them.

These two together show pretty much all the garden and I want to rearrange things and have new paving with no gaps so I don’t spend much of my ‘gardening’ time weeding between them.

I have resolved not to grow any plants that are too big for a tiny garden either as they tend to get out of hand in the end!

And here is a better view of what I showed you at the beginning! Other angle