Sunday, 24 July 2011


A LONG, LOOONG time ago, about a year ago, actually, I was bitten by the inspiration bug when I saw this post by Lucy at Attic24. She was making all these lovely little squares using left-over yarn. She talked about how quick and fun it was to make these squares. And wow, didn't her blanket look great once it was all finished. So I gave it a go... and I thought it was quick and fun, too... for a while... then I got a little bored and so this project came and went over many months. They were a great thing to do while waiting in the car for the kids when they were at their many after-school activities - each square only took a few minutes.

But it does take a lot of time to make enough for a blanket. And to add to the seemingly never-ending-ness of it, I'd decided to use a smaller-than-recommended hook, a 3.5mm. And it was a spiky one at that, so it kept catching and splitting the yarn. Most annoying. And then there are all the ends to weave in - so many ends!

So after wandering away from this project and then returning to it many times, I finally had lots of lovely squares. Then came the problem of the half-squares. I couldn't for the life of me work out how they were done. After many internet searches and lots of enquiries, I finally found help on flickr, thanks to "hooked on yarn", who kindly told me how she had made hers. Here is the link to her beautiful blanket on flickr, and here is the picture where she explains how the half-squares were made.  (And you can find her lovely blog here, something that I have only recently found myself!)

So then, I worked on half squares.

And eventually I used up all my yarn. I am pleased to say I used up almost every scrap of this yarn that was in my house. It is Carnival Soft 8ply, left over from my Lucy Bag that I made in late 2009. There is a little bit of the beige colour left, the rest is all gone.

And then I had to sew it all up.

Now, my mum taught me to sew (both with a machine and by hand) when I was a little girl. But that doesn't mean I like it. In fact, I avoid it like the plague. And, although I thought it might be different when crochet was involved, I quickly realised that whip-stitching dozens of little squares together was nothing different - it was just .... sewing. Boring old sewing. I hated this part of the project and had to make myself do it. First I arranged my squares into my over-all pattern/design (very tricky as I can't be "random" and I get all OCD about the squares being "fairly distributed"!).
Then, after finally telling myself to stop fiddling with the arrangement, I sewed up the 8 individual rows.

By now I had realised that it was all too small. It was going to be the Smallest Blanket in the History of the World. I did contemplate making it into a pillow instead, but eventually decided that it would do as a security/comfort "blankie" for my youngest and that it would work as a lap blanket for her in the car. So I pressed on.

Once the rows were sewed, it was time to do the zig-zag crochet. After more online research, I got enough ideas to give this a go. I had a cheap variegated yarn in stash that was very similar to the Carnival Soft so I decided it could be part of the zig-zags.

Lucy did a very small row of zig-zag between each row of squares. Because I had the smallest blanket in the history of the world, I decided to try to making my zig-zag rows a lot more substantial.

First I thought I'd see how the zig-zags looked in dc (UK tr). I didn't like it.

So then I went back to Lucy's idea of sc (UK dc). Better. A little tedious to do, but better. In back loops only, to create a lovely ridged look. And lots of sc rows, to make the blanket as big as possible.
Once my rows had their crochet zig-zags, it was time to sew the rows together. I again did not enjoy the sewing, but must admit this time it was a little more fun because I could see the end in sight.

One advantage of a sew-it-together-at-the-end project is that you can correct variations in tension a little bit. You can see here that at one point I was making squares much looser than at another time over the months, but once it was all sewn together, they flattened and evened out fairly well.
You can see here how some of my squares are much bigger than others!
I then added more zig zags to the top and bottom, and a simple sc edge down the longer sides.
I had started this blanket so inspired and excited, and then had moved through phases of boredom, avoidance, annoyance, frustration, exasperation, and then resignation and determination to get the darn thing finished. I was so happy to get to the end - to have this project done and OVER. I didn't really even like it anymore.

Until I looked at it. All finished and ends woven in and sewn up.
And then I thought, wow! It looks really great! And then I loved it again. :-)

And my little girl loves it, too. So nice that she can have blanket of her own, even if it's the smallest blanket in the world. (By the way, it probably isn't the smallest blanket in the world, but it is small. It measures 73 cm x 57 cm.)
So there you are. The story of my zig-zag blanket, all the highs and lows. It took an awful lot of hours to make, and I'm not sure I will ever make another sew-it-all-together-at-the-end blanket, but now that it is done I do feel mighty pleased with it all. And I'm so glad that I did persevere to the end.
I hope you enjoyed reading about this project's journey, and that it leaves you feeling inspired to get on with your half-finished projects, too (or am I the only one who has them??).  ;)

Have a happy, hooky day,
Caz :)

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Chevron Cardigan - Finished!

Well, it's been a l-o-n-g time between posts, but I am here now, and very excited to share the news that my cardigan is finished and is a "wearable"!  And, therefore, a success!

My cardi getting blocked
The sleeves worked out in the end; I pulled out the one that was flared and tried again.  At first it all seemed to hard and I put the whole project aside for a while.  But it was while reading a discussion on Ravelry, (from a CAL back in 2009!) that my problem was revealed to me.  Someone wrote about their pattern repeats: Hmmm. I count 4 sets on one sleeve and 5 on the other…..  This simple comment, written way back in 2009, but stored in Ravelry (Ravelry is AWESOME!) showed me the light.  I had another look and saw that, indeed, this was the problem.  So I had to fudge the start of the sleeve, continually referring to the other one, until I had managed to create a round with 4 pattern repeats, and a joining stitch that matched the other side.  (I don't think where I joined the rounds was quite the way it was explained in the pattern, but it worked, and was the same on both sides, so I went with it!)

After that, it was plain sailing!  The bodice went very quickly.  I changed to a 6mm hook for the waist/below the bust area, and after that changed back to a 6.5mm hook so it fitted more easily over my hips.

And I think it looks great!  And it feels great on - I love wearing it!

So, do you want to see?  Okay, here goes...


The trim was another tricky point.  I read up on other people's projects (I'll say it again: Ravelry is AWESOME!) and I saw one that I really like (see it on Ravelry here) used slip-stitches instead of single crochet on her edge/trim.  Now, that might sound simple, but a quick Google search on slip-stitches revealed to me that there is a whole world out there of slip-stitch crochet, and really interesting stuff it is, too.  But that's for another post, another time, me thinks.  :-)  You see, there are all different ways to do slip-stitches, which left me unsure what to do on my cardi; what did this lady mean by "I just did several rows of slip-stitch"??  I finally decided, after trying a few things, to simply slip-stitch the "normal" way - through both loops - and after about 6 (?) rows, I was happy with my edge.

Then the buttons... I'm still not 100% sure about these... I'm thinking of changing them to a simple black... what do you all think?

But it is DONE, it fits, it is wearable, it doesn't look too granny-ish or hideous.  And I have even dared to wear it in public.  I am out and proud with my crochet!  :-)

I am so glad I have finally found some time to hop on here, type this, and share this with you.  I have missed my blogging very much, but paid-work and life-in-general crop up an awful lot at my place, and get in the way of my blog.  I hope you don't all mind too much that I've been away for so long.

As you might have noticed (!), I am a big fan of Ravelry, and I'm finding myself over there more and more.  It is a great way to share projects quickly and simply.  So if you're ever wondering what I'm up to, look for me over there as I am going to get all my projects updated on Ravelry very soon.  (My profile name is NeverKnew.)

But I still love my blog and I do want to keep it going (as well as being on Ravelry). I am going to try and not over-think my posts too much (I tend to do that) and try and keep them quick, brief, simple.  Hopefully I will be able to share with you more often, then.

Because I do have a lot more crochet to share.  Oh, boy, do I ever.  I haven't had time to blog lately (sometimes not even time to read other blogs I love! *sniff!*) but I always find time to crochet.  Even if it's just 10 minutes before bed, I try to crochet every day.  I need to crochet every day.  This is why my blog is called Never Knew.  I Never Knew that crochet would become such a huge part of my life, my daily zone-out wind-down, and also such a trigger for creativity.  I don't know (now) how I ever lived without it.

So I will see you all soon, with more crochet to share.  I would love to know what you think of my cardi; your comments are always welcome.  :-)
Till next time, have a happy, hooky day,
Caz :)

Friday, 29 April 2011

Ummm... that doesn't look right...

My crochet cardigan is coming along nicely... generally speaking... but I have hit a little hiccup.

Here it is with a little bit of the bodice... looking good (if I do say so myself!) and fitting quite well...

I then continued to work on the sleeves.  There was one tricky bit - where the sleeves meet at the end of each round.  I really didn't get it but I just sort-a fudged it and the stitches there look a little different (it's like there are 2 "valleys" (decrease stitches) side by side) but no matter as it's on the underside of the sleeve... no one should see it... and, anyway, this cardi is for me, and if I don't care, why would anyone else?

It started out okay...

But... something strange started to happen, and I suspect it's related to my "fudging".  The sleeve was slowly getting wider all the way along my arm.  I wondered if maybe this happens in the pattern to everyone.  I decided I would press on regardless ... maybe a flared sleeve would look nice anyway.

Right sleeve (flared)

BUT... when I worked on the second sleeve... hmmmm... this is MOST odd.  I think (I believe) that I am joining this sleeve exactly as I did the other one, in my strange, slightly-made-up method, but this time the sleeve is NOT growing.  Not getting wider.  In fact, it looks quite nice, all fitted and snug.

Left sleeve (fitted)


So, what now?

I guess I will have to rip out the first sleeve, and try again?  I will have a very, very close look.  Try and see where the sleeves look different to each other.

I hope I can work out where I went wrong - because if I can't... I'll have 2 very different sleeves!!  :-P

Will let you know how I get on.

Thanks so much, by the way, for all the wonderful comments I have been receiving of late.  So glad you like my crochet cardigans.  Some readers mentioned that they were thinking of looking up the pattern I am using for this cardigan.  I thoroughly recommend it!  (Pattern can be found - for free! - here, and info on Ravelry here.)  It is very easy to follow and very well explained and there are lots of pictures to help you along the way.

Also check out this link on Ravelry (if you are registered on Ravelry, if not, you should join - it's great!) - there was a CAL (crochet-a-long) for this cardigan back in 2009.  Although it was a while back, there is still heaps of info on that forum and you can search through the posts to find discussions on the areas in which you are confused/interested.  And a more recent CAL discussion can be found on Ravelry here.  Actually, now that I mention it, I might pop over there again now and see if anyone else had this problem with the sleeves!  :-)

Until next time,
Have a happy, hooky day,
Caz :)

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

For Wills and Kate

In my head I am a republican but in my heart I am a monarchist.  :-)  Especially when there is a royal wedding on the way.  I am a sucker for all things grand and royal, especially when they involve handsome princes and beautiful soon-to-be princesses.

I remember when Prince William was born - I was about 8 years old at the time - and there was (almost) as much fuss and excitement here in Oz as there was in the UK.  I remember thinking that I might be a little bit old for him, but, still, I could marry him one day.  It was possible.  :-)

Well, now, 29 years on, it turns out that it was not to be for me and Will.  But he did, indeed, choose a "common" girl*, and a lovely one at that.  And another Catherine, to boot!  (See, it really could have been me!)  I thoroughly approve, Will.  (I'm sure he's pleased to know that.)

And the fact that Kate is an ordinary girl, that it could have been you or me, makes the royal wedding seem all the more exciting to me.  A little bit of fairytale fantasy still (oddly!) exists in this very practical, modern world.

So my romantic, monarchist leanings got the better or me and I was even taken over by some granny goodness (Michelle must be having an influence on me!) and I have started creating this cushion cover.  The pattern was cleverly created by Michelle over at the Royal Sisters and can be purchased at her shop.  I actually won my copy of the pattern in one of Michelle's wonderful give-aways and now is the perfect time to pull it out and give it a go.

The pattern is created using tapestry crochet, where you work with multiple colours at once, crocheting over the colours you don't need (so they are hidden behind the work) and then changing over to the next colour that you want as you go.  This means there are very few ends to weave in, but the balls of wool can get a little twisted as you go along!

It is a great pattern and Michelle has explained everything clearly and in meticulous detail, so it is not at all difficult to follow.

I plan to finish my cushion cover while watching the live coverage of the wedding on Friday night (my local time).  I will be camped out in front of the telly with crochet, wine, and nibbles, and will be soaking up every grand, historic moment while hooking away.
So, do you think my finished cushion will look good on Wills and Kate's sofa?  Anyone know exactly what address I should send it to?  I want to make sure they get it.  I'm sure they would love it and I must be the only person who has thought to send them such a thing.  ;-)

Happy Royal Wedding, everyone!
Caz :)

*common girl - being a girl whose family could afford to send her to posh schools and universities.  But common, all the same.  :-)

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Crochet Clothing Projects Part 4 - A New Cardigan for ME! :-)

First of all, I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to all those who commented on my last post.  It was so great to read all your messages and I'm just thrilled that you love my daughter's cardigan!

Some of you liked it so much that you said you wished it came in adult sizes... well, some people have managed to do that... let me explain more...

It was only after finishing Rosie's cardigan that I realised the pattern was on Ravelry.  (Duh!  I should know to check there by now!)  I found out that a few other people had made the baby top kid-sized as well.  AND a few had even pushed it to adult-sized (like this one), simply by using bulky yarn and large hooks.  It looked really groovy, so that got me thinking...

Could I make one for ME?  I had enjoyed making Rosie's so much, and it looked so gorgeous on her... could the pattern be modified enough, easily?

Well, in the end, I found something even BETTER!
I had a browse on Ravelry at zig-zag/chevron cardigans and I found an AMAZING pattern that is FREE.  More than ONE THOUSAND projects using this pattern have been posted on Ravelry - and almost all of them RAVED about how easy and great this pattern is.  Pattern is found on this blog (check the side bar) and can be downloaded as a PDF.

So I got all excited and decided to give it a try.

I bought an enormous amount of yarn from a discount store (Crazy Clark's) at the end of winter last year.  The discount store yarn was discounted even more than usual!  In fact, I think I scooped up this collection because it was a ridiculous 70% off their normal discount price or something like that.  I think it worked out at less than $1 per 50g ball.  The yarn is 50% cotton, 50% acrylic and is lovely and soft - I am surprised by how nice it is considering the bargain price.

Anyway, amongst that stash I have about 10 balls of black.  I had no plans for this light-worsted weight, black yarn as yet, so I decided to try it with this pattern.  I hope I have enough!

So, as you can see, I have started!  Feeling very excited about this one!  The pattern works from the top down, and can be tried on as you go.  I LOVE working with this system - you can see if it's going to work out or not.  But I am still having trouble deciding when to create the arm holes.  How loose/tight they should be.  Thankfully, there is OODLES of advice out there on Ravelry (thanks, everyone!), so I'm going to take a deep breath, give it a go, and see how it pans out.

I ended up ripping out my work back a couple of rows to row 13 and attempting the join there.  Hope it's not too tight... but I also don't want it too loose... I guess it's a Goldilocks cardigan... :-)

So now I'm working my way down the body... will let you know how it goes!

(By the way, yes, I have noticed it has holes in it, so, yes, it may have similar problems to my "Shroat" in that it will be really warm but also cool (from the holes) but I am willing to take the risk based on the wonderful-ness of this pattern.  Anyway, the holes are less... hole-y... so I'm hoping it doesn't matter so much...)

Happy Easter, everyone!
Caz :)

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Carried away by inspiration... (Clothing Projects Part 3)

Here is a more recent clothing story, one that I am really excited about.

Since my shracket and shroat projects back in February and March 2010, I haven't dabbled in the clothing side of crochet at all (unless you count scarves and hats?). It all seemed a little too tricky, a bit daunting, really.

But a couple of weeks ago that changed - when I saw something that inspired me so much I just knew I had to give it a go.

I was following links on blogs and came across this beautiful clothing item - a sweet top for a little girl. Please follow the link and check out all the photos and details of this lovely top.

When I discovered that it was actually a pattern for a baby, I became most intrigued. The blog post provided a link to the original, free pattern (in English, which was great, because the blog is in French). It was first published in 1950 and is designed for ages newborn to 6 months. But, with a bigger hook and heavier yarn - no other alterations needed - this clever French blogger had managed to convert it to 6-year-old size!

I have been thinking about making my own daughter (also 6 years old) a poncho. But the whole arm-less thing about ponchos always bugged me. This pattern, I think, still has that lovely swing-look of a poncho, but with sleeves. Perfect!

So I decided to give it a go. I was so excited I couldn't wait. I put all other WIPs aside, and dug into stash that had been reserved for a blanket (not yet started), thinking that can be replaced eventually (if need be). My daughter, Rosie, is currently crazy about blue, so I chose blue shades and white. And I just got stuck into it. Followed the pattern exactly, but with the thicker yarn (Moda Vera Cupcake - I love it, it's so soft!) and a 5mm hook. It's basically a ripple, so it was all pretty easy to work out...

That was on a Saturday morning, a couple of weekends ago. By Sunday night, I had done everything except the sleeves. I couldn't believe it - a top in one weekend. I did crochet like a woman obsessed, almost all weekend, but (for me) this was still very speedy work.

So, as you can see, here is the top without sleeves. I love it like this, but in our climate it is just way too impractical. Maybe I will make another some time using cotton thread, and then I could go the sleeveless idea. But not in this thicker, warm yarn.

Over the week I added the sleeves. Then there was the endless end-weaving. (I hate that part!) And an edging - I just did sc (UK dc) around the neckline and fronts. And also the buttons. My daughter chose them herself (of course) and she does love everything "fancy" - glitz, sparkle, shine, frills, lace, ruffles. So, after much consideration, she chose these pretty purple crystals.
And then we were finished! From idea to complete in a week. I am feeling rather amazed, to be honest. And very chuffed indeed. :-)

I'm not sure that the stripes were a good idea. It makes the top look very, very retro, which isn't, personally, my thing - I'm not trying to deliberately create a retro look. Of course, it's hard not to with crochet, but a single colour may have reduced the granny-factor. Then, again, maybe the stripes are okay ... I do look at my work with a very critical eye. I also think wool would work better in this design (but wool is waaaay too hot for us up here in the north!) and I could have probably gotten away with a bigger hook - it might have ended up in a looser drape.

So, while I love my creation, I think the original inspiration is better and I am already thinking of making another in a single colour.

Miss Rosie wore it for the first time tonight - to a local restaurant and I found that I couldn't stop looking at her in it. Maybe I am being too critical about the stripes. The top looked so beautiful on her - and I kept thinking: I can't believe I made that. It doesn't look so retro to me now... Or maybe I'm losing perspective... but in a good way?

So, what do you think of it? - I would love to know! And if anyone wants to try it, please don't hesitate to give it a go. The pattern is dead easy, and can be found here. Please contact me (comments below or email) if you have any questions at all - I'm only too happy to help you out if I can.

Until next time,
Have a happy hooky day,
Caz :)

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Crochet Clothing Projects Part 2 - My "Shroat"

Okay, so as I mentioned in my last post, I took the plunge last year and attempted some crochet clothing. It was this pattern on Ravelry that made me decide to give it a go.

Making a "shroat" (shrug/coat) for me was going to be a bigger investment in time and money than the little one I had made for my daughter. I finally decided to get some Paton's Washed Haze Aran (since I was enjoying using it for Oliver’s Rainsong Blanket – which wasn’t finished at the time, by the way!) and, I'm not sure how, but I worked out that I’d need 10 x 50g balls. I got a great deal on ebay for $30. I finally settled on a 10mm hook. I tried with my 16mm one (the pattern calls for 15mm) but the stitches it produced were just ridiculous. Too loose, too hard for me to manage. (In hindsight, though, looser stitches may have been better in the end...)

Okay - so this is how you make it:

The idea is that you start with a shrug. That was really easy - just a rectangle that you fold in half, stitch up the sleeves, and slide in your arms.

Hard to take photos of myself wearing it!

Then you run stitches in a circle around the back-of-the-neck and around and down to the bottom at the back, and back again. This adds a collar and a ruffle on the bottom - a "shracket" - a shrug/jacket.

Okay, you with me so far?

THEN (if you still want to keep going!) you can add more to the back (and a little at the front - that was the confusing part for me!) and you end up with a "shroat" (a shrug/coat).

AND/OR you can add more length and add ties and make your "shracket" into a "shrap" (a shrug/wrap).

For mine I went with the shroat idea and decided to keep going until I'd used up every ball. I really like the length.

These next few photos were taken a couple of days ago - more than a year after the photos above!

I was having trouble taking photos of myself... ha ha... not my best photo...

So Miss Rosie took this one for me...

And this one...

I hope this gives you and idea of the finished item!

The pattern is okay but a little confusing in places. An ol’ crochet pro would probably have no problems following it, but not me. More than one time I wasn’t sure what they meant, and so I panicked and just... stopped making it for a while! I ended up sending messages to a couple of fellow Ravelers asking for help, and they kindly replied. (If they are reading this – thank you!)

In the end I just had a go, and it worked out. And the other Ravelry-ers were right - it IS very quick. And it is VERY easy.

Only problem is... Rosie was right! It doesn't keep you warm because of all the holes in it - unless I wear it with something long-sleeved underneath! And with the yarn I used it is actually quite a warm coat so it ends up all a bit hot-cold if you wear it just with a cami underneath.

I know, this is such a terrible problem! ;-) It is too WARM up here for me to wear it very much! Oh, how awful to live in a place where the average maximum temperature in winter is 25 degrees! :-) The evenings can be cool, but, like I said, not cool enough for the long-sleeve top and shroat combo, and too cool for the shroat on its own. :-P

So, a bit of a silly project then? Not necessarily. It was still a really great learning experience. I never, ever thought I'd make my own crochet clothing. And now I have. So, it's all good. :-)

Now about the pattern... Ravelry provided a link to the pattern, but the link no longer worked. I then googled and searched and googled some more and eventually found a link that sort-of worked. The website is a bit dodgy - sometimes it will load up for you, other times it says it can't access the webpage. If you want to try the website, follow this link here. Let me know if it doesn't work and I will try to track it down for you.

I have also just found out that the pattern can be purchased here.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this post today. My first two crochet clothing items have now been shared on this blog - only a year after I made them! :-P

Till next time, have a happy, hooky day,
Caz :)

Monday, 11 April 2011

Crochet Clothing Projects Part 1 - A "Shracket"

Okay, this is long overdue. I have wanted to write about my attempts at crocheting clothing for AGES. In fact, this post has been in draft for so long, it has been hard to put it all together today. (So my apologies if it's all a bit ... bitsy.)

But I really do want to document what I've done so far... and try and keep it into some sort of chronological order.

So here goes, with the very first crochet garment I ever tried - way back in February 2010 (yes, more than a year ago!).

So, this is a “shracket” – a shrug crossed with a jacket – that I made for my daughter. I found the pattern while browsing on Ravelry and was most intrigued – mainly because everyone kept saying they found it amazingly quick and easy. That’s my kind of clothing project – quick and easy. :-)

So I dabbled with it and modified the size and I came up with this one for my daughter. By using 8ply yarn and a 10mm hook, it worked out to be just the right size for her. I was particularly chuffed because I made it in just 2 days and with one ball (100g) of yarn, and the yarn was from a discount shop and cost only $2.50. A jacket for $2.50 – how cool is that. And my first ever crochet garment to boot.

My daughter liked it but her first comment was, "Mum, it won't keep me warm, there are holes all over it!" She is, in fact, correct, and it only really works with a long-sleeved top underneath. (And where we live it is rarely cold enough to need more than a long-sleeve t-shirt!) :-) I really liked the pattern and enjoyed making Rosie's, so I decided to take the plunge and make a grown-up one for myself.

I'll tell you more about that one next time - stay tuned for "part 2"!! :-)

Caz :)