Keep the Coffee Warm – Crochet Mug Warmers!

Here at Cat and the Wool there’s always a little crochet project on the go, and today it’s a crocheted mug warmer!

Mug warmers can be practical and beautiful – it keeps your coffee warmer for longer, and with a cute animal face or colour scheme can also liven up the ol’ white mug.

Many people on Etsy have created wonderful owl- and animal-themed mug cozies/warmers and I decide I might as well see if I can create my own simple mug warmer.

To start off with, I had some wonderful multi-coloured cotton hidden in my stash that needed to be used! It’s a green-blue-turquoise blend and it looks beautiful!

 

Wool start

 

I chained the required amount of stitches to match my mug’s circumference at the bottom and proceeded with single crochet stitch.

 

Wool in Mug

I continued until I had reached half-way of the desired length and created a little buttonhole. Here I just made 3 chain stitches instead of 3 single crochet stitches, and on the following round continue with single crochet – this created a nifty little buttonhole.

 

Start

I had to increase a small section on either end to make way for the button and to be able to close the piece around the mug. The problem with this type of mug however, is that the sides are not straight. This made it difficult to create a piece that would fit but also be the correct size at the top and the bottom of the mug. Important to keep in mind for the next mug warmer!

 

Button

Once I had the desired buttonhole and a few rows, I decreased and went back to the original circumference. I kept doing this until I was satisfied with the height and then fasted off.

I sewed the button on and then popped it on to the mug – et voila! A great first attempt at making a mug warmer! Complete within 3 hours!

 

Mug warmer Finished

I am so pleased, that my next one will be a little owl mug warmer! Yarnovations has an especially nice pattern for an owl mug warmer and this one is on my to-do list!

Happy crocheting!

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Crochet Inspiration Hits with Force!

A few days ago I was hit with such inspiration to crochet a fine white lace doilie! I’ve wanted to crochet this pattern for quite a while but never got round to it. I miss working with super fine cotton because it produces fine and delicate pieces that I love! I’ve been so busy crocheting items in thick DK wool and making big quick pieces, it’s really good to do something different.

I have an entire collection of crochet magazines and books that I generate inspiration from. Majority of them have been inherited from my mother – the Phildar books are at least 30 years old, if not more, and although the patterns are a little “old” for me there are quite a few gems. The little Anna Creatief and Diana Extra books are all from my travels overseas in Belgium and Italy. I love that Europe still produces monthly crochet magazines! And, I have one in Flemish/Dutch, one in French, and one in Italian! Luckily they all come with diagrams with universal symbols 🙂

 

Magazine Collection

I used a pattern from the Diana Extra book for a 6-pointed star and used white cotton #30 (super fine!) and a 0.75mm hook.

A doilie is traditionally a round piece of crochet created round by round using a variety of stitches. The finished size of the piece is dictated by the number of rounds and the pattern dependent on the placement of stitches in a particular area.

Some doilies look really frilly and over the top. I much rather prefer geometric patterns and no hearts or flowers or depictions of trees or whatever.

They can also be placemats and be any shape and in any material you want – very thick cotton or wool even!. They also do not need to be big – they can be as small as coasters or as big as tablecloths! The possibilities are endless, and you get to choose what you like most.

Magazine Cover

Magazine Pic of Doilie

I had bought thin cotton last year in Belgium in the Veritas store (www.veritas.be) which is part-haberdashery-part-accessories store. So of course I’m going to love it. I bought #20 and #30 cotton balls to try out, and I was in for a surprise!

 

Doilie Start

Since this cotton is so thin, the item made is much smaller than with #10 or #5 cotton, and decidedly more finicky to handle in the beginning. My fingers get quite sore try to hold and crochet the tiny stitches. But what’s so wonderful about it is that it produces very fine and delicate pieces that feel divine! Patterns also stand out wonderfully with the small stitches.

 

In progress 3 panel

The middle photo shows how far I’ve progressed, only 6 more rounds to go! Almost there!

At times it can get tedious doing round after round after round after round…it doesn’t seem to end! And the bigger the doilie, the longer each round takes.

But, after persevering this week I finished it!

 

Finished Doilie

It is beautiful to say the least! And the filet pattern inside the “star arms” makes me want to crochet more pieces with this #30 cotton, even if it’s a mission to work with at times.

It still needs to be washed and blocked – blocking refers to pinning it to a flat surface to even out the shape of the item and have it dry flat. While crocheting the stitches may not always lie exactly flat and washing helps with this. So my pins and the ironing board need to come out soon!

 Absolutely happy as a chappy with my crochet doilie!

 

 

Bobbled Pencil Case

For a while now I’ve been storing my crochet hooks and needle box and other small sewing goodies in a nondescript black pencil case. But it looks …so….drab…and boring 😦

Since I inherited my mother’s wool I thought it would be a great little project to use up some of the weird colours but to also try out a new stitch – the Bobble stitch.

Starting Chain

I started with chains and a row of single crochet stitches. It took a while to get the length right as I was creating a long rectangle piece that would fold along the upright left. Later I could sew the bottom closed and the side to create the pencil case. Luckily, the pencil case has a zip, so no need to buy a separate zip and attach it!

I’ve been interested in the bobble stitch ever since I saw the photos on a few blogs. The texture is just amazing and I had to try it! So, that involved spending many hours on youtube finding the best way to make them. In the end, picking up the hook and wool and trying it out for myself was the best method 🙂

Bobble pattern: make 4 trebles together and go immediately back to single crochet in the next stitch. For the next row of bobbles, put bobbles in between the other bobbles so that they layer. This is what gives the bobble a 3D look – you create stitches taller than your row and then you sort of squash them = bobble 😛

My pattern consists of staring with a row of single crochet, and then on the next row doing the bobble stitch, with the third row being another single crochet row. You can see this in the 2nd photo of this post, and it allows the bobble to line up and face the same way.

Technically speaking: Work bobbles on the right side of fabric and single crochet on the wrong side.

First two rows of bobble in green and pink, with the back shown.

First two rows of bobble in green and pink, with the back shown.

Now, the colours I used would normally not find their way into my basket. I’m quite fond of rainbow colours but not garish baby pink and light green. Well, the light green is alright. But still.

So this project was more of a test run for a stitch, and I said to myself “if it works out, then I have a good example to refer to for later projects”. And besides, what else was I going to do with the wool? I have previously used it to make test swatches of stitches and to work out patterns – good idea if you have wool that’s not the most appealing.

 

Pink and Green Wool

And as I went along the bobbles came together to form such a lovely textured pattern!!!

Bobble Spiral 1

Because it was such a small piece with lightweight wool, it tended to curl up as I worked (maybe my tension was too tight?). But I kind of liked this as it looked like a bobbled DNA strand 🙂

Bobble Spiral 2

I continued until I had reached the desired height and added an extra row of single crochet to provide slightly more support for when I attach the wool to the pencil case.

Half way Pink

Then I sewed up one of the sides and closed the bottom. I left the ends of the wool as is instead of sewing them in. Creates a cool fringe!

Outer Cover

I used a sharp sewing needle and a simple under-over-under-over stitch to attach it to the pencil case. Here you can see the pencil case was just very ordinary and boring. In dire need of some colour!

Uncovered Pencil Case

Once I had been all the way around, I checked that it felt secure and sewed off. And then it was finished!!!

Finished Pencil Case

So here’s a nifty little idea for you if you have scraps of wool, or really odd coloured wool that you have no idea what to do with!. I now have a funky pencil case to hold all my crochet goodies, and the texture is lovely to look at and lovely to hold!

Happy hooking!

 

ZigZag Purple Pillow Case

Ever since I crocheted my first pillowcase (see Blue Pillow Case) I’ve wanted to experiment with various stitches and colours and anything that will look great with crochet. This is one of the few ideas on my “to-do” list and I’m so glad it works well with my obsession with colour!

A Purple ZigZag Pillow Case!

Collage

I chose my favourite colour PURPLE and decided to use 3 shades creating a zigzag pattern. I used the colours in such a way so that from afar they blend in to each other. And they just look awesome 😛

Side note: If you’re interested in the pattern, do a google search and you’ll find hundreds of tutorials and images explaining how to create zigzags – it is really simple to learn and quick to master!

ZigZag 1

The zigzag stitch is creating peaks and troughs by increasing and decreasing stitches. You can lengthen and shorten your zigzags by adding or removing stitches in the middle straight sections of the zigzag.

The problem with the zigzag pattern is deciding how large/wide you need your item to be, and for my pillowcase I would create a tubular shape to fit around a pillow.

ZigZag Stitch

I must have pulled out my work at least 7 times (after having done many rounds) just to get the size right. The zigzags don’t translate into a similar size as you would have with a straight piece. Even worse, it’s not just a matter of decreasing slightly here or there to get the shape right – you have to change the zigzag pattern and change all of them.

Luckily after a few days of fretting about whether this project would materialize I managed to get the size just right and now it fits around my pillow. Steep learning curve that one!

ZigZag Pillow Case in progress 1

The colourful stitch markers were added to help me figure out where each zigzag needed to be and to count them.

So I’m slowly but surely adding rows of wonderful PURPLE colour and it’s turning out to be a very soft pillowcase :-). The rows also take quite a lot of wool (more than 10 meters per row! EEEK!) so I hope I have enough of all the colours to finish the project! I’ll update this post with the progress made and when it’s finished.

We shall have to crochet and see!

 

Update (14 March 2014)

After much ado, and figuring out that these zigzags are A LOT of work (almost drove me to tears!), the Purple ZigZag Pillow Case is also finished!

The zigzag take a lot of wool and it was frustrating to see how slowly each round went, which meant it took super long to get to the desired size! But I think next time I do a zigzag stitch I won’t use the same colour scheme – I used my medium purple much more than the light and dark purple. I went light/medium/dark/medium/light – the medium purple gets used twice as often. If I ever want to do another pillowcase or blanket like this I’ll have to stick to a straightforward light/medium/dark scheme so that I don’t run out of wool! I almost did!

 

ZigZag Pattern

 

To finish off the pillow case I had to crochet a straight edge, so I used a combination of stitches.

Start on the top part of the zigzag: slip stitch, single crochet, single crochet, half treble, treble, treble, half treble, single crochet, single crochet, slip stitch.

That creates your straight edge. Then do a last round of half trebles and fasten off.

Top

I then sewed a purple zip in et voila! Finito! And it looks great 🙂

 

Finished

Not only is it super soft the colour scheme with the zigzags are divine!

I’m definitely making more pillow cases in the near future with different designs and textures – such as this Ruffle pillow from Redheart or an Owl Pillow from Jo’s Crocheteria – such wonderful ideas! What do you think?!

 

Rainbow Pencil Case

All this rainbow coloured cotton is making me want to crochet the world full of colour! In my previous post Think bright colours!  I mentioned I might be busy with another RAINBOW themed crochet project.

Purse and Pencil Case

And indeed it was a rainbow pencil case! Rainbow item number 2!

Two Pencil Cases

I’ve crocheted this pencil case specifically for my art pencils and items as they’re always lying all over the place or in irritating plastic holders. I want to keep my things together, and with a pencil case this bright I won’t lose them!

So I started with a rectangle piece in single crochet and worked 10 rows. On the last row, instead of finishing off I continued around the corner with single crochet. Here I used 1 single crochet stitch per row, and immediately started to work upwards to create a box. So no increasing around the corneres to make a flat curve. The rectangular piece serves as a base for the pencil case.

Pencil Case Start 2

You can see that I started with the darkest colour first – PURPLE – and worked my way through the colours.

Even this 4-colour combo of PURPLEDARK BLUEAQUAMARINE BLUE looks amazing! I’m sure I’ll be crocheting a few items just in these 4 colours in the future.

Pencil Case Start

I kept on going with the colours, going from dark blue to light blue with 3 rows per colour (2 treble rows and 1 half treble row). As you can see from the photo, while my small rainbow pencil case is not in use, I lay it flat and it becomes quite a nice coaster for my coffee 🙂 Aha! Another idea in the making!

Pencil Case

I kept on going until I reached my desired height with the pencil case, although I must admit I did make the green, yellow and orange only 2 rows of trebles and didn’t do the third row of half trebles. Then with red instead of the half treble row I did a single crochet row so that I’d have enough security to sew in a zip and lining. I was happy with the size and decided to leave it at that.

And OH WOW did it turn out pretty!!!

Pencil Case 2

The colours are SO vibrant!!! When I finished crocheting this pencil case I couldn’t stop looking at it because it was so bright! Not to mention, Elle’s Premier Natural Cotton feels divine too :-). In the photo you can see how even my Alphons Mucha Moleskine journal can fit into the pencil case (I have a soft spot for Art Nouveau and couldn’t keep my hands off the journal the moment I saw it). So now all my pencils and pens for drawing have a colourful home, handmade just for them.

I must still find a zip and lining, but that will be at a later stage and I will update all my posts once all the items are complete in the sewing department.

I might end up making a zigzagged mug warmer as well as I’ve just found so many easy patterns and loads of inspiration! Watch this space!

For now, I’m over the moon with my RAINBOWinspired crochet!!!

Think Bright Colours and Rainbows!

I’ve been so busy lately with crochet projects that I don’t know when I’m going to be able to blog about all of them – and I haven’t even started on items that are already finished! Here’s one of my first super colourful items.

I initially saw this tiny but oh-so-colourful purse on the blog of Sparkle Petal. 

I fell in love with it! I knew I had to make one, just to have all that loveliness of colour. Since I had just visited the wool shop and found a colourful collection of cotton, it was time to get crocheting!

Wool Rainbow Cotton

I followed the instructions as in the tutorial, and started with a magic circle in purple and the first row of trebles.

Rainbow Purse start

I kept on going with the trebles, increasing appropriately to create a flat circle. It was exciting to watch as each row became vibrant! Here you can see how the circle progressed.

Rainbow Purse Strip

And after adding each row in a different colour, the circle was finished! Now to fold it in half to create a purse!

Rainbow Purse Finished

Rainbow Purse

It’s absolutley amazing! I can’t get over how awesome the colours look!

I’m making quite a lot of items requiring zips and lining, this little purse included. So the plan is to complete a few projects and then do the sewing and insertion of zips all in one go. Luckily the tutorial on Sparkle Petal‘s blog has a nifty method for doing the lining zip which will be very useful to me! I’m still deciding what colour lining to use for this rainbow purse!? Red with white polka dots? White and red stripes? What do you think?

Since I bought so much colourful cotton, there is no doubt that many other colourful projects will and have followed … the photo below might just be a little teaser as to what I was busy with next!

Stay tuned for my next blogpost to find out more!

Purse and Pencil Case

Blue Pillow Case

You start out with a project, finished idea in your head, and you crochet along thinking ofcourse I have enough wool and ofcourse it will work out. Well, there goes my judgement of wool requirement by eye flying out the door!

In my first post I had mentioned that I inherited my mother’s wool. I thought it was time to start finding crochet projects to use up the wool and let my creativity run free. It was a lot of wool! But oh so inviting!!!

Wool Basket

I keep all of my wool in this beautiful wicker basket – easy to move around when needed, and where else am I going to store this much wool?! You can see all the weird and wonderful colours, not all of them to my taste but I have found a way of making them work. As you can see the basket’s already full, so a plan shall have to be made when I next visit the haberdashery :-P. One can NEVER have too much wool 🙂

For this project I decided to use a fluffy dark blue wool. I have been inspired by many bloggers on the web with their wonderful creations and it was time I made my own! Instead of going to the store to buy new wool, why not try out a simple rectangle pillow case with the wool that I had? Perfect! And I was over the moon that my first pillow case would be really fluffy and textured.

Pillow and Wool

I started with a tail 2.5x the width of the pillow case, crocheted enough double crochet stitches onto the tail to create a ring and then used trebles to form a tube in continuous rounds. I don’t start with chains, I just chain 2 and then double crochet directly onto/in the tail piece that is premeasured. In the photo you can see I’ve already used up a ball of wool, and how textured it is!

Blue Pillow Case started

However, things are not always what they seem. After taking this photo I ended up pulling out all of my hard work and restarting 3 times!!! Oh hell! Apparently I made a few miscalculations with the number of stitches needed and took me a while to get it just right. The texture also made it difficult to see the stitches, so perhaps I skipped a few or increased without knowing it. Then, to my utter dismay – I ran out of dark blue wool half way!!! :-0

Blue Wool

Before imploding and wondering what to do with a half-finished pillow case, I remembered I had a ball of lighter blue and white wool, with similar fluffiness. Problem solved! Not only did I finish the light blue wool (!) but I barely had 1 meter of white wool left over when I was finished. It seems pillow cases take a lot more wool than I thought.

I closed the pillow case at the white end by using single crochet stitches, and have left the dark blue end open for a zip. I’ve decided to add a zip so that the pillow case can be removed and washed when needed without having the hassle of washing the pillow itself.

And it’s finished!

Finished Pillow Case

I absolutely love how my fluffy crocheted pillow case turned out! I’m so happy when I see it on the couch, handmade items are worth the effort to make!

Moral of the story: if it doesn’t work out how you originally planned, then just go with it and be creative in solving the issue!

I am definitely making more pillow cases, so watch this space for more projects! Who knows, maybe I went to the wool shop and came back with a purple assortment of wool and a new zigzag pattern to try 🙂 Watch this space!

 

Update (12 March 2014)

Well, FINALLY! It’s finished! It’s so strange when you have >4 crochet projects on the go how fast they become “to be continued…”

Luckily I had a long blue zip and some left over blue wool!

 

Zip items

 

I sewed the zip in and secured both ends very well at the corners to stop it unravelling. I made sure there was also enough allowance on each side of the zip so that my wool wouldn’t get caught each time I open or close the pillow case.

 

Zips finished

And here it is! Complete and all closed up! It’s a wonderfully soft and fluffy pillowcase. I’m definitely going to look for similar wool to make other lovely crochet items from. Perhaps circular pillows with ruffles?

 

Finished Pillowcase with Zips

Next up: the finished Purple Zig Zag pillowcase!