Here’s to a crafty (and blogging) 2014!

It’s been a busy 2013, but one thing I haven’t been busy doing is blogging. This is my first post in 11 months. I know. I can hear you tutting from here. Blogging more was even one my 2013 new year resolutions. I could reel off a list of all very valid excuses, but instead I’m going to move on and look forward to start blogging again in 2014.

But what have I been doing over the last year? Well… a LOT of crafting, if you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen some of my creations, and below are just some of the beauties I’ve crafted in 2013. I’ve crocheted lots of presents, giving embroidery a try, had my first sewing machine class, and dipped my nails in a bit of nail art. I’d love to go back and blog my craftyness over the last year, and I might do on some of these projects over the next year, but I’m just going to start anew and start blogging from the now. I’ve got some more things to share in the next few weeks, so bring on a blogging 2014!

2013 in craft

Tri-colour Crochet Striped Scraps Snood

Tri-colour striped Snood

Some of you might have noticed that I’ve been modelling some new homemade knitwear on my twitter profile. What do you do with all of those colorful yarns ends that need using up? Those bits of scraps will forever be at the bottom of your wool bag, but here’s how to make a warm woolly accessory and crochet up all those loose ends.

Using up scraps by bad bad magpie on Flickr

This hat by bad bad magpie caught my eye on Flickr – as do most of my crochet projects, like the Manta Hueco Zig Zag Cushion cover. I really liked the colorful randomness of the pattern, which is made up of different coloured yarns, but each round has the constant dark green or sage strand running through it. It inspired me for my next project, a thick woolly snood.

Tri-colour striped Snood

I started making this snood while I was between projects, and had lots of yarn ends and scraps that needed using up. I use three colours in one yarn, my main constant colour was going to be purple (my favourite colour), and I decided to keep the colour scheme graduating from one colour to another, with each . For example;

Round 1 was green, black, purple,

Round 2 was red, black, purple,

Round 3 was dark red, red, purple…. and so on.

The wool used was mostly Stylecraft DK and I used a 8mm crochet hook. The pattern was also very simple:

Ch to the desired length of the snood – this one was at least Ch 120 and slip stitch the foundation chain without twisting it so you have a continuous loop. Round 1 is a continuous round of  double crochet stitches, and then round 2 is a continuous round of triple crochets in the same colour. Round 3 is a colour change, and then a repeat of the round of DC stitches and then DTR stitched. Easy peasy, but look tri-brilliant!

Tri-colour striped Snood

 

Manta Hueco Zig Zag Cushion Cover

rosie2 (13 of 18)

I’m quite chuffed with this pair. They don’t match, but this stripey wool twosome were the perfect crochet cushion covers for some Ikea cushions that we have had for yonks. It’s a really easy pattern, as long as you have already nailed the mighty Granny Square, and I’m going to show you how to make.

I had been eyeing up a Manta Hueco Zig Zag design on a photo on Flickr, and asked the maker who I could make my own amazing creation, and the reply was, just google it! The pattern is  traditionally made of small granny squares and the corners are stitched together, but then zig-zag stripes are made either side of the squares. A tutorial on this Spanish blog ‘buscando comienzos’ provided all the information that I needed to start this pattern off.

Manta Hueco Zig Zag cushion cover

Manta Hueco Zig Zag cushion cover

How To Make

To make the cover you need to make 3/4 granny squares that are the length of your cushion when arranged diagonally in a straight line. You make the stripes like making normal rounds on a granny square (3TC Ch1 or Ch2 if on a corner) , but when you go to attach the squares on the decent, you need to do this unusual stitch.

stitcheshowto

1) Begin a triple crochet stitch as normal – yarn over the hook, insert into the stitch, yarn over again, pull through two loops

2) Rather than finishing the stitch, you want to start making the next triple crochet. Do this twice more, so you have four loops on your hook, and three unfinished stitches.

2 ) Continue into the next square, by repeating the above process again, so there are three more unfinished stitches and 7 loops on your hook.

3) Yarn over and pull through all 7 of the stitches. Ch 1.

Once you have nailed that stitch (anyone have any ideas of it’s name?) then this pattern is your oyster! Continue with the rounds until the work wraps around the cushion and the points of the zig zags touch, and connect the work by doing reverse granny squares with the above stitch. Stitch one side together with a DC seam, and the other side sew 5 buttons.

Manta Hueco Zig Zag cushion cover

Manta Hueco Zig Zag cushion cover

Ta Ta! Now you have a super stylish stripy cushion cover. Who said granny squares are boring? Not when they are stripetastic! Have you made something with Manta Hueco pattern? Feel free to share your stripey wares in the comments below!

Reading The Web And The Magic F

A few pals of mine have just set up an IT and web strategy business – Bongo IT – back in my hometown of Oxford. They asked me to write a post for their blog and here it is, but you can read the post in full on their blog.

How you read the web – and 5 ways to improve your copywriting

I’ve got some bad news for you. Of all the brilliant, titillating and engaging online content that you are writing for your website, only 28% of those words are read by your audience. Web users don’t gorge over every word when they read the web, they scan for the information that they need. To optimize your copy, you need to understand how people read the web.

The F Word

Our eyes tend to read web pages with this dominant F pattern, rather than left to right, according to research by Neilson Norman. And what does that F mean? Fast, as we scan over pages in seconds, looking for the information we need. We read only two words, before we decide to commit to reading the entire page.

The dominant F

Link: nngroup f shaped reading pattern article

It’s not the same every time, but there is a trend of reading full length of the top bar, a second horizontal movement further down, and little scans dotted in the main copy. This shows how important titles & subheadings are in your content.

The first two paragraphs

If you have made it down this far – hurrah! You are probably one of the 16% of people who read websites word for word! The first two paragraphs are the most read parts of the article, people rarely tend to read beyond this. Make sure that your opening paragraph contains your article summary or conclusion and your first paragraph is a keeper. Keep it to a point per paragraph, and try to be as clear and concise as possible. If you are inserting dictionary hunting terms or words, you are doing it wrong.

The Left/Right divide

The web is the best place to lean-to the left, as 70% of words are read on the left hand side of the page, compared to 30% of words on the right. Take advantage of this trend with bullet point lists, and subheadings.

Slow scanning

The internet is no Jane Austin – we read the web very differently to books, novels or other documents. When we finally get down to it, we actually read 25% slower when we are online, and this is to do with how we scan for the information we are looking for, picking out individual words and sentences, often re-reading when we having found the information we need the first time around. Highlighting or bolding the important words, tips and keywords. will help your readers find the info they need.

A picture tells a thousand words

A phrase that have never been more true on the internet. How often have you clicked on an article because the image was so inviting? The more relevant images you can use to sell your content the better, as these are better for conveying information than any paragraphs. And if you want people to like it, put a gif on it.

beyonce superbowl

For more tips and info on writing better copy for your webpages, read more of Neilson’s research.

Crochet flower pattern

flowerblog

Is it a Violet? Is it a Pansy? Or is it a Waterflower? I came across this beautiful flower crochet pattern and was a little perplexed, not only about what kind of flower it was, but also about the instructions, which were half in Spanish. But after falling in love with the pattern, I decided to take it on, and when I found the spanglish a little confusing, so I’ve decided to re-write the pattern with alterations. Now you can learn the best way that I learn… with lots and lots of pictures. flowerblog (2 of 48)

1) Make an adjustable ring – make a loop with the end of the yarn over the main wool. flowerblog (3 of 48) Insert the hook into the loop, pull the main wool line and twist under the loop.

Round 1 – Yellow

flowerblog (4 of 48)

2) Chain 3, and then 15 Triple Crochet stitches (TC), so that you have 16 stitches in total on your first round.

flowerblog (7 of 48)

3) Pull the loose end on the adjustable ring and join the rounds with a slip stitch.

flowerblog (9 of 48)

Round 2 – Purple

flowerblog (10 of 48) flowerblog (12 of 48)

4) In the first stitch, Chain 3 then in the make 3TC in the same stitch. 

flowerblog (13 of 48)

flowerblog (14 of 48)

5) Skip the next stitch, and 4TC in the next one.

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6) Repeat 6 more times. Join with a slip stitch. This will then be the beginning of your petals.

Round 3 – Blue

flowerblog (17 of 48)

flowerblog (18 of 48)

7) Make a loop in the first stitch, and then insert into the adjacent remaining stitch on round 1, and pull the yarn through the top. Pull the yarn through both loops (kind of like a single crochet stitch)

flowerblog (21 of 48)

flowerblog (22 of 48)

8) In the next stitch make a Double Crochet (DC). In the next stitch 2 TC 2 chains(C) and 2TC, all in the same stitch! In the next stitch, a Single crochet (SC). This will make a scallop for your petal..

flowerblog (25 of 48)

9) Make a SC by inserting the yarn into the spare stich on the first round – like in step 7.

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10) Repeat steps 7/8 on the rest of the round so that you have 8 petals. Finish with a slip stitch.

Now you could stop there if you wanted to. But if you want to go the whole hog and add petals… l

Round 4 – Leaf stem

flowerblog (30 of 48)

11) Holding the front of the work towards you, insert the hook into the larger loop on the back of your work you created between the 1st and 3rd rounds. 6C.

flowerblog (31 of 48)

12) Turn around and do 5 Slip stitches back along your chains, and then 1 more on the loop between your 1/3rd round to secure the stem.

flowerblog (33 of 48)

13) Chain 4 to the next 1/3 round loop.

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14) Repeat steps 11 to 13 until you have 8 leaf stems.

flowerblog (35 of 48)

Round 5 – The Leaves

flowerblog (38 of 48)

15) With a lighter green and holding the front of the flower towards you, works from right to left at the base of the leaf stems, 3 TC, 1DC, 1SC, and then a 2 chain picot stitch at the tip.

flowerblog (42 of 48)

16) Work back along the leaf with a 1SC, 1 DC, 3TC to the leaf base and do a slip stitch at the base.

flowerblog (44 of 48)

17) Moving to the next stem, do a slip stitch halfway round the connecting stem and repeat steps 15/16 on the rest of the 7 leaves.

flowerblog (47 of 48)

And that’s it! Ta-da! You have a very pretty finished flower, complete with leaves. You can experiment with the colours with these flowers – I’ve gone for a multicoloured vibe with these.

Check back soon for a great way to connect these flowers and make something very useful…