Monday, 24 February 2014

♥ Hearty Blog-Lovin' ♥

image of gift box tied with ribbon and a crochet heart
  I was chuffed to bits by the fantastic response I received on my Moroccan Crochet Votive Pattern. It never ceases to amaze me just where in the world it has been viewed, so I'd like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to those of you who left such lovely words of encouragement and enthusiasm for my Cosy design, and a big Hello! to my new followers.

It's back to the normal routine here for me after a very enjoyable homely half term break spent with my two girlies. After a week of lazy pj mornings we did not enjoy the early morning rush at all! There was a lot of grouching and grumbling this morning - especially from my youngest, age 5, who declared she could not go back to school because she could only breathe through one nostril. Ha nice try my little cute grumpy-lump!
I'd like to share with you some of my recent Valentine's makes and bakes which were sourced in this wonderful Blog-Land of ours. It's always choc-a-block full of inspirational crafts and creativity and was especially full to the rafters of ideas for this special time of the year. I had a particularly hard time picking which ones to make!

The first obvious choice was crochet hearts  - there are so, so many free patterns out there, it was hard to choose which one. This one is my all time favourite...
image of a crochet heart
It's by Pinkfluffywarrior and the pattern can be found here. Very cute and simple to make...love it.
 Thank you Hayley!

So what's in the box for my husband's Valentine present?...
image of home-made whiskey truffles
...some yummy Home-made Whiskey Truffles. I couldn't get over how easy, inexpensive and enjoyable these were to make. I mean why haven't I thought about making these before now!? I think they are so much nicer than the shop bought ones - and very moreish too. My husband absolutely loved them...so did I ;-D 
The great thing is you can use different types of chocolate, with or without alcohol/liqueur, and coatings to suit your own taste. I made a few different batches of them using different ingredients...
image of milk choc truffles with sprinkles
One for the children...they didn't last long! And a nutty variety...

image of home-made truffles
I'd like to have a go at making rum truffles next. I'll definitely be making these for special occasions like family birthdays and for when that chocolate craving hits. You can find the how-to at Chrissiecrafts on this post.
Thanks so much for sharing this 'Easy Indulgence' Chrissie!

Each year I try and make a Valentine card, but this year I'd ran out of ideas (there are only so many crochet heart cards a man can take!). Then I saw paper heart bunting, and knew it was just what I was looking for. Here's what they looked like...
image of personalised Valentine paper heart bunting
Luckily my husband's name is very short so I only had to make three. I crocheted his name and hung the letters from each heart to personalise it. It didn't cost me a penny as I already had all the materials to hand... the lovely patterned paper came with a craft magazine I'd bought a year ago... string to hang it on...and crochet cotton (which I always have in my stash). The heart lights were a £2 bargain from Asda which I simply wrapped around the string to jazz it up.
They were so easy and quick to make and were such a great alternative to a card. He has put his bunting in the study now (he works from home most days), and the lights live on my eldest daughter's headboard -  they look lovely in her heart themed bedroom. I'll be making some more of these to hang around the house in the summer months.
Go to eclectichomelife blog to find out how to make these lovelies. Oh yes this lady does love her hearts!
 Thank you Selma for sharing this wonderfully simple and effective idea with us.

Here are some more heart themed projects which I absolutely love, and will hopefully make in the future...
 http://cosmosandcotton.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/valentines-treats-little-drawstring.html
This is a great post choc full of super ideas. 
Thanks for sharing this Hannapat.

and I would love to one day make a beautiful quilt like this one found over at Joyjinkscreations. It's so gorgeous. 
Thanks for sharing this with us Joy

The thing I love most of all about each one of these projects is that they can be made any time of the year - a heart is for life not just for Valentine's Day! 
I U Blog-Land XXXX

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Moroccan Inspired Crochet Votive Jar Cosy Pattern

Crochet votive jar cosy pattern and tutorial: image of Moroccan inspired crochet votive jar cosy by Amjaylou
Crochet votive jar cosy pattern and tutorial: image of Moroccan inspired votive design by Amjaylou
 The initial source of inspiration for my new design for a crochet votive/jar cosy all started with this...
A beautiful porcelain votive bought for me by my husband at a local garden centre. The pretty design is on one side while my name is on the other...
Crochet votive jar cosy pattern and tutorial: image of pretty porcelain votive
This design is so simple, and produces a lovely light reflected pattern.
It reminded me of the beautiful Moroccan lamps which I adore but sadly don't possess...yet! Their spectacular reflective light displays, colours and patterns are stunning. I absolutely love them.
Crochet votive jar cosy pattern and tutorial: image of lit Moroccan lamps
 I wanted to incorporate this inspirational element into my votive design.
 Islamic art uses symmetrical and geometric patterns, both monochrome and colourful to produce the most incredibly jaw dropping and very inspirational work ranging from mosaics to architecture. If you love quilting, making afghans, interior design, or are a surface pattern designer then take a look at the visual delights over on Google images. Search Islamic art then click on images and enjoy!! It's given me lots of ideas for new designs. Here are just a few of my favourite things... 
Crochet votive jar cosy pattern and tutorial: image of beautiful patterns in Islamic art and architecture
There is also the most wonderful site called Pattern in Islamic Art which is a treasure trove of images with additional historical and background information about the subject. If you're into pattern, colour and design then it's a must-see!
Crochet votive jar cosy pattern and tutorial: image of black crochet votive cosy by Amjaylou
Crochet votive jar cosy pattern and tutorial: image of votives showing different ways of making the base
Inspired by my porcelain votive I wanted to create a design to incorporate a Moroccan feel, so I used black Egyptian crochet cotton yarn (using a 1.5mm hook) to cover a coloured votive. At the rim of the votive I've added an arched border just like the ones found in Islamic architecture (see photos above). If this isn't to your taste I've produced a variety of  cosies, using the same pattern to give different results with varying yarns (the clear jar has thicker black cotton yarn), jars, colours, and borders.
You could add a variety of embellishments like ribbons and buttons to add that personal touch, and have them for different uses at home or to brighten up an office desk.
Crochet votive jar cosy pattern and tutorial: image of embellished jar cosy containing scissors
Crochet votive jar cosy pattern and tutorial: image of crochet cosy jars with crochet hooks and scissors inside
My preferred yarn for this project is fine crochet cotton...I just think they look better, especially if the jar or votive is quite small - but you can use any type of yarn depending on the look you're trying to achieve and the size of the jar or votive.
I would say this is an easy pattern for a beginner to follow, as there is no decreasing where the jar neck and base narrow, it's made in one flat rectangular piece which is then folded and slip stitched to join the two edges together to complete. As long as the initial chain fits snugly around the base of your votive or jar the pattern allows the work to stretch around the widest part.

I'll be showing you how to create the 'vintage' style votive with the cream yarn because the stitches are clearer to see than the black yarn...we've had lots of dull grey days here of late in the U.K which made it tricky to photograph the work in low light conditions.

Moroccan Inspired Crochet Votive/Jar Cosy Pattern 
(written in U.K. crochet terms).
Abbreviations:   
ch - chain.
st - stitch
sl st - slip stitch
dc - double crochet (U.S. terms sc - single crochet).
tr - treble crochet (U.S. terms dc - double crochet)
tr3tog - treble 3 together (U.S. terms dc3tog - double crochet 3 together)
(yarn over, insert hook into st, pull up a loop, yarn over pull through two loops on hook, *yarn over, insert hook into next st, pull up a loop, yarn over pull through two loops on hook*, repeat * to * one more time then yarn over and pull through all four remaining loops on hook).

Foundation Chain
The foundation chain should be made in multiples of  8 chains plus two extra chains (1 for turning, and 1 for an extra dc at the end). For this one I chained 66 (8 pattern sections of 8 sts = 64 + 2 extra). For the coloured votive with black yarn I made a foundation chain of 58 (7 pattern sections of 8 sts = 56 + 2 extra). Make sure it's a snug fit!

Row 1
This is where you could adapt the pattern to best suit your votive/jar. For my tall jar (turquoise yarn) I crocheted 4 rows of dc, and just 1 for all the rest. (Now I think I prefer 2 rows of dc as it gives the cosy more of a solid neater edge - see photo of purple and blue votive above). Do whichever you prefer.
Starting in 2nd ch from hook make a dc in each ch along. Ch 1 turn.
Crochet votive jar cosy pattern and tutorial: image of row 1 complete

Row 2 - pattern row (1)
Dc in 2nd ch from hook. *Ch 3, skip 3 sts, 3tr's in next st, ch 3, skip 3 sts, dc in next st.*
Repeat * to * another 7 times (or for however many pattern sections you have). Ch 1 turn.
Crochet votive jar cosy pattern and tutorial: image of row 2 - pattern row (1)
Crochet votive jar cosy pattern and tutorial: image of row 2 - pattern row (1) completed
Here you can see the 8 sections of Pattern row (1)
Row 3 - dc row
Dc into 1st st, *make 3 dc in next ch-3 space, 1 dc in the top of each tr, 3 dc in ch-3 space, ch 1*. Repeat * to * along the row ending with a dc in the last st omitting the ch 1. Ch 1 turn.
Crochet votive jar cosy pattern and tutorial: Row 3 - dc along the row
Crochet votive jar cosy pattern and tutorial: image of row 3 complete
Do not dc into the top of the dc from the previous row - instead ch 1 then work 3 dc's into the next ch space.

Row 4 - pattern row (2)
Dc in 1st st. * Ch 3, skip 3 sts, in next st start a tr3tog, ch 3, skip 3 sts, dc in next ch space* Repeat * to * to the end of row. Ch 1 turn.
Crochet votive jar cosy pattern and tutorial: image of working a tr3tog crochet stitch
Crochet votive jar cosy pattern and tutorial: image of tr3tog stitch completed
Crochet votive jar cosy pattern and tutorial: image of row 4 - pattern row (2) complete

Row 5 - dc row
Dc in 1st st, *3 dc in next ch-3 space, dc into the top of the tr3tog st (put hook under the two loops at the top of the st), 3 dc in ch-3 space, ch 1*. Repeat * to * to the end of row. Dc in last st - omitting the last ch 1. Ch 1 turn.
Crochet votive jar cosy pattern and tutorial: image of row 5 complete

Repeat rows 2 to 5 till you've reached the desired length and always end on a pattern row (2) followed by a dc row.
Crochet votive jar cosy pattern and tutorial: image of main section of crochet work complete

Next row
This row gives the work a nice straight edge. Dc in each st and ch 1 space along the row. Ch 1 turn.
Crochet votive jar cosy pattern and tutorial: image of crochet work with extra dc row

If you have a jar which has a narrower neck then crochet rows of dc until you reach the top of the jar. For my tall jar (turquoise yarn), and the clear jar with thicker black cotton yarn (see below) I crocheted an additional 2 rows of dc to form a solid band around the neck of the jar. You could finish the cosy here, or alternatively you could finish with the arched edging around the top, if so, then ch 1 turn.
Crochet votive jar cosy pattern and tutorial: image of crochet jar cosy

Arch Border
1st Row
Dc into the 1st st. *Ch 4, skip three sts, make a dc in the next st*. Repeat * to * till end of row. Ch 1 turn.
Crochet votive jar cosy pattern and tutorial: image of 1st row of arch border

2nd Row
Dc in the first st. *In the next ch-4 space work 3 dc's, ch 2, 3 dc's*. Repeat * to * along the row. Finish with a dc in the last st.

Crochet votive jar cosy pattern and tutorial: image of 2nd row of arch, the last worked row of pattern
Crochet votive jar cosy pattern and tutorial: arched border complete

Fold your crochet piece in half (with right side facing you) so that you can work a dc into the very first dc you made at the beginning of this row (see below).

Crochet votive jar cosy pattern and tutorial: image of folding and joining the work together
Now turn the work inside out so you can sl st the two sides together. Make your sl sts loose so that the work will stretch along the seam when placed on the votive or jar.
Ch 1, the sl st all the way along making sure you sl st into the corresponding rows of both sides. Make a dc in the last st. Fasten off and weave in ends.
Crochet votive jar cosy pattern and tutorial: image of two edges joined with sl sts

I'll be making and sharing with you some stripy cosies hopefully sometime in the not too distant future...I need to do some more yarn shopping first! Plus I have another cosy design in my head that I need to get cracking on with.
If you do decide to give these a whirl and would like to share with others then I would appreciate that you link back to me and credit me as the original designer. 

Crochet votive jar cosy pattern and tutorial: image of crochet cosy jars with hearts

Wishing you a very happy, and COSY Valentines Day!
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