Craftiness, baking and other lovely things.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Gluten free wraps - an easy win

It's taken three attempts and a lot of research, but I finally made a gluten free wrap that looks like a wrap, tastes like a wrap and stays soft like a wrap.  This is a big win for my family - our almost-Mexican-chicken-wraps are a favourite and (like the GF bread) the wraps in the supermarket have met with a definite thumbs down.

If you Google gluten free wrap recipes, you'll find variation after variation after variation, from the very simple (little more than a pancake in truth) to the fairly complex.  In the end, I turned to the dark side and played with a recipe for wheat flour wraps. I swapped out the water for milk, which seems to be key in GF breadmaking, and I increased the amount of liquid.

This recipe is also great for making sandwich squares.  Just roll the dough out a little thicker than you would for wraps and cook for a little longer.  I roll out as thinly as I can for wraps (not too thin though or it's just too fragile to move) and for sandwich squares not quite 0.5cm.  I should also add that I'm using the term 'squares' very loosely.  My squares have very rounded corners, I just made sure that I had pairs that would fit together to make a good sandwich.

As always, I recommend Doves Farm white bread flour and I always add extra xanthan gum.


250g gluten free white bread flour
1tsp xanthan gum
1tsp dried instant yeast
1tsp salt
1tbsp soft brown sugar (or caster sugar if that's what you have)
20g melted butter (veg or olive oil would probably work, but I haven't tried it yet)
200ml milk, warmed to just lukewarm (I used skimmed because that's what I have)
rice flour or bread flour for rolling out
olive oil for frying


Put all the dry ingredients in your mixing bowl and mix on low speed while you melt the butter and warm the milk.  Add the milk and butter and mix on low speed for a few seconds then on high until you have a completely smooth dough.  It will be sticky.  Cover the bowl with clingfilm (oiled if you are using a smaller bowl and think the dough might reach the top).  Leave for about 2 hours.  If you want to leave it for longer, once you've given it 2 hours at room temperature you can store it in the fridge for a few hours or overnight before cooking.

This quantity makes about 8 wraps - make them smaller or larger as you wish.

Take about an eight of the dough and quickly shape it into a ball.  You may want to dust it with flour first as it may still be sticky, especially if it hasn't been chilled.  Roll out thinly.  Heat a tsp of olive in a non stick pan.  Cook the wrap for about 2 minutes on each side, making sure it doesn't brown too much.  You want it lightly coloured.  Once cooked, put it into a folded tea towel to keep warm whilst you cook the rest of the dough.

For sandwich squares, roll out a little thicker and cook at a lower heat for about 4 minutes each side.

Serve the wraps warm.

I make a batch of wraps (double the recipe) and whilst they're still warm and pliable I fill them with sliced ham, roll them, wrap them individually and freeze them.  It makes filling three lunchboxes every morning much, much easier.  I also freeze the sandwich squares in pairs for the same reason.

Questions?  Comments?  Suggestions?  Leave me a comment.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Not so mindful

Oops, I really let life get in the way.  I honestly intended to work every day on my mindfulness blanket, using it as a form of meditation.  I missed a couple of days and then I completely forgot about it.

Actually I think part of the problem was the yarn I selected.  It wasn't as soothing as I thought it would be.  In fact I was finding it boring and it didn't appeal at all after the first few rounds.

Time for a change then.  I have a big bag full of leftover cotton dk in lovely colours and I've started over, just playing with granny squares as the mood takes me and it is perfect.  It's pleasing to look at, relaxing to make and will grow a little each day.

Yarn: Stylecraft Classique Cotton DK in Lavender, Fuschia, Shell Pink, Leaf, Soft Lime, Ivory
Hook size 4mm

Monday, 4 September 2017

Gluten free bread that you want to eat

When my older daughter was diagnosed with coeliac disease earlier this year, I mentioned to a few people who were following gluten free diets that I planned to do a lot of baking myself because I saw no reason to stop baking, I just needed to use different GF ingredients.  People shook their head and offered dire warnings of how difficult GF baking is, how it was impossible to bake GF bread and GF flours were rubbish for cakes.

J doesn't eat a lot of bread and although the sliced bread we could buy was awful, some of the rolls were okay and so I focused on baking the treats instead.  It was when my two younger children, both big bread eaters, were confirmed as coeliac as well that I started to work on bread.

I've tried a couple of recipes and some different flours and there are a few key things:

1. The flour mix is crucial - I get the best results, consistently good, with Dove Farm's flour.

2. Even if the flour mix has xanthan gum included, I always add a little more.  It acts like glue and really makes a difference when you're baking without gluten.

3. Enriching even basic bread dough with milk and eggs improves the texture and gives you bread with good texture and flavour.

Ready to get baking?

Basic gluten free bread 

450g white bread flour (Dove's Farm is the best I've used)
2 tsp dried quick yeast (the kind you just add to your mix without activating it)
1.5 tsp salt
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 tsp xanthan gum
2 eggs, lightly beaten
350g milk, warmed to luke warm

Using the flat beater of food mixer, mix all dries together.  To make sure the yeast and xanthan gum are evenly mixed, I leave the mixer running slowly while I warm the milk and beat the eggs.  Add milk and eggs to the dries and mix thoroughly.  Turn the speed up for a few seconds to beat out any lumps.

The dough will be quite wet and sticky.

If you're making a loaf of bread, line the tin with baking parchment, grease it lightly and spoon the dough in (allow room for the dough to rise, don't overfill).  Oil some cling film and cover the tin lightly.  Leave to rest for 2 hours, then bake for 50 mins to 1 hour at 190.  Test for doneness by tapping base of loaf - it will make a hollow sound when it's done.

If you're making rolls, oil cling film and cover the bowl of dough.  Leave to rest for 2 hours.  Heat a baking stone in the oven at 190 for the last 20 minutes of the resting time.  Dust a sheet of baking parchment with flour (rice flour works brilliantly for dusting).  Being careful not to knock the air out of the risen dough (it will only rise once as there is no gluten), break off roll sized pieces and gently shape on the parchment.  I use a spoon to break off the dough and dust the top of each roll before shaping.  For a soft crust, brush the tops with melted butter or oil.  Take the baking stone out of the oven and dust lightly with flour.  Transfer the rolls to the baking stone and bake for 25 minutes.  For soft rolls, wrap in a tea towel straight from the oven and leave to cool.

The recipe can be doubled or halved easily.

If you make the bread, let me know!  Leave a comment or share a photo on Instagram with @veraandbess.  Happy baking.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

The mindfulness blanket

In my last post here, I talked about mindfulness and my plan to use crochet to help me practice it.  Here is the pattern I will be using, and I use the word 'pattern' in the very loosest sense.  I don't want to be counting the stitches or worrying about getting it right, so I've got a very simple plan.

The blanket is worked from the centre out.  That way I can make it any size I like.  Working in rows from a starting chain (aside from the fact that working into the starting chain is my least favourite part of crochet, yes, I dislike it even more than darning in ends), the size is partially dictated already.  I want it to be totally flexible.

I have taken photos of the process for the first three rounds, just to illustrate the pattern, but from now I'll be working my 15 minutes every day (using an alarm on my phone so I don't worry about the time) and will just update my progress periodically.

Round 1: 5ch (counts as 1tr, 2ch), then working in last chain from hook, (3tr, 2ch) x 3, 2tr, ss to first 2ch space.  (3tr each side of the square, 2ch at corners)

Round 2: 5ch (counts as 1tr, 2ch), 1tr in same corner 2ch space, *(1ch, 1tr between next 2tr) x 3, (1ch, 1tr, 2ch, 1tr) in corner 2ch space; repeat from * twice, (1ch, 1tr between next 2tr) x 3, 1ch, 1tr in corner 2ch space, ss to first 2ch space.  (4tr each side)

Round 3: 5ch (counts as 1tr, 2ch), 1tr in same corner 2ch space, (1ch, 1tr between next 2tr) to the corner, (1ch, 1tr, 2tr, 1tr) in corner, continue around as set.  Repeat this row until your blanket is finished.

The yarn I'm using is Stylecraft Sundae DK in Coconut Ice and I will just keep going until I feel like it's finished.  This is about the process for me with this project, about working each stitch without thinking about the last stitch or the next stitch, without wondering when it will be done or how big it should be.

If you want to join in, hop over to my Facebook page here and let me know.  I'm going to try and share any insights and tips I pick up about mindfulness there.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Mental health, mindfulness and a crochet along

Perhaps for many reasons, or perhaps for no reason at all, I've been having a few challenges with my mental health recently.  I have become very anxious and a little depressed.

Life has been busy and I put myself under a lot of pressure with deadlines and schedules to design new patterns.

I realised that I needed to take a step back, slow things down and give myself some time.  As much as I love to design and make, trying to meet my own unreasonable goals is making me ill.

I know that I'm not the only person facing this sort of challenge.  I know that we all find ways to cope and manage.  Many people practice mindfulness and I've always struggled with it, but I thought what if I was to use crochet in my mindfulness practice?

So, for 15 minutes a day, I will be working on a very simple crochet project, focusing on being aware of making each stitch, the feel of the hook, the movement of my hands, the tension of the yarn, my breathing as I yarn over, draw through, yarn over, draw through.

I would love to have company on my journey.  Just hop on over to my Facebook page here and let me know that you're joining in.  We can share photos of our mindfulness project, ask for guidance (both crochet and mindfulness) and support each other.

I will be making a blanket using Stylecraft Sundae DK in Coconut Ice, because I love working with this particular yarn and I find this colourway soothing.  I have only bought one ball.  I know that I'll need more, but I'm not concerned about the dyelot being the same for this project (and this particular yarn is very forgiving with it's tonal variation anyway).  I want it to be about just this ball, this round, this stitch, without the weight of however many balls it might take sitting in a bag waiting to be worked.

I hope you'll join me.  Share your yarn choice and project with me.  I'll post the pattern I'll be using soon.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Coeliac baking: episode 1

It's been about two months now since my oldest daughter was diagnosed with coeliac disease and we've been on a very steep learning curve.  Regular meals and cooking at home haven't been too much of a problem.  We usually cook from, so we've just swapped out some of our usual ingredients - stock cubes, the flours used for sauces, using gluten free pasta etc.

Baking is a little different.

When you take away the gluten, you change the structure, rise and crumb of your baking.  You can't just swap normal self raising flour for gluten free flour.  You have to learn about ingredients like xanthan gum and potato flour.

To complicate things even further, my daughter can't eat oats for at least 6 months either.  Some coeliacs are sensitive to a chemical in oats and so she has to exclude them and then reintroduce them in a control test.  Oats are a big ingredient in one of her favourite cookies, so my first baking experiment was all about replacing the oats without losing all the lovely oaty texture.

They're not the prettiest cookies in the world, and they're very fragile when they first come out of the oven, but as they cool they firm up and all three children gave them the thumbs up.  Recipes below for both original and coeliac versions.  Apologies for the quantities being in ounces - it's what I've always used, except for the chocolate, which is 2 x 100g bars.

Coeliac cookies

9oz butter or margarine
5.5oz soft brown sugar/caster sugar
1tsp vanilla
8oz gluten free self raising flour
5oz gluten free rice crispies
1oz desiccated coconut (note: I will add less rice crispies and more coconut next time, but this is all the coconut I had)
200g milk chocolate, chopped into small chunks

Beat butter and sugar together.  Add vanilla and beat briefly to mix in.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Use lined baking trays, drop large tablespoons of mix, leaving a bit of space between cookies, flatten slightly and push mix together - it will bind in the oven.  Bake at 180 for about 12 minutes, until golden brown.  Allow to cool on tray as they fall apart when first out of the oven.

Original oaty chocolate chunk cookies

9oz butter or margarine
5.5oz soft brown sugar/caster sugar
1tsp vanilla
8oz wholemeal self raising flour
6oz oats (not instant)
200g milk chocolate, chopped into small chunks

Method is the same as for gluten free cookies.  You can replace up to 2oz of the oats with desiccated coconut.  Add cinnamon and replace chocolate with a couple of handfuls of raisins.  Swap milk chocolate for white chocolate and cranberries.

Happy baking!

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Vera and Bess has a new home

My blog has moved to a new home.  Come on over and join the crochet party at  I promise there will be yarny loveliness, tea and lots of cake.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Granny square of the week: mini squared circle

I love granny squares in all forms, simple squares, elaborate hexagons and any shape with a flower.  This is a very simple mini square, but sometimes that's exactly what you want to show off a yarn or colour combination or just to have something relaxing to work on in the car (if you're lucky enough not to be the driver) or in front of the TV in the evening.  Join 4 together with your favourite join to make a lovely bigger square or just use up your scraps, keep the minis in a bag and when you have enough, join them all together to make a unique scrappy blanket.

Here's the pattern, written in standard UK terms.  Stdc is a standing double crochet, just start off as if you were working a regular double crochet (it replaces join with ss and ch1).

R1: Ch4 (counts as first tr), in last ch from hook work 11tr, ss to top of first tr, fasten off.  (12 st)

R2: Join with stdc between 2 tr, ch1, and then work 1dc, 1ch between st all the way around, ss to first ch1 sp and fasten off.  (12st, 12 ch1 sp)

R3: Join with stdc in any ch1 sp, then ch1. * In next ch1 sp, work (1tr, ch2, 1tr, ch1), then 1dc, ch1 in each of next 2 ch1 sp. Repeat from * twice more.  In next ch1 sp work (1tr, ch1, 1tr, ch2), 1dc, ch1 in next ch1 sp, ss to first st and fasten off.  (16 st, 16 ch1 sp)

This is a great way to use up small scraps.  The yarn I used is Stylecraft Classique Cotton DK in mauve and shell pink.

This is the first of a series of granny squares which work beautifully together or can be used on their own.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Quick crochet episode 1: the Burst brooch

Having called it a brooch, it isn't just a brooch.  Burst works brilliantly on top of a beanie instead of a pompom as well, but as spring is finally here, let's celebrate its beauty as a sweet little brooch.

It's easy and quick to make and complete accuracy is definitely not essential.  Variegated yarn is perfect to give you lots of colours in one hit, or choose a really vibrant jewel coloured solid to make a bold statement.

Use any yarn weight with the appropriate hook.  DK gives a good size, not too chunky, not too tiny.  I used about 6g to 8g of DK for one Burst.  You will need yarn, crochet hook, darning needle and brooch pin/safety pin.

To begin, chain 50.  Starting with the 11th chain from the hook, work 1 double crochet (UK terms, if you're using US terminology that's a single crochet).

Working the 10ch, 1dc - it will get a bit twisty but don't worry.

Next chain 10 and then work 1 double crochet in the next st.  Do that again.  And again.  And again.  Keep repeating the 10 chain stitch and 1 double crochet all the way along your original starting chain.  When you've worked the last stitch, fasten off, leaving a good length of yarn for stitching up, about 30cm/12".

The reverse side after rolling up - take your time and make sure the
original chain doesn't twist and keep the base as flat as you can.

Starting from the last stitch where your long tail is, start to roll up the work, keeping the base flat and stitching through from one side to the other as you go with each turn.  Finish with a couple of stitches on the base to secure the yarn and then stitch on your brooch pin or safety pin.

Happy hooking!

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Lovely little beret for the Innocent Smoothie Big Knit

It takes a while to make a blanket, even longer if you are designing it and writing the pattern as you go along.  Sometimes I need a break from a big project but my fingers still itch for hook and yarn.

The Innocent Smoothie Big Knit (or little crochet in my case) is perfect for just such an occasion, but typically I have to make my own little pattern up.  I thought a beret would be sweet, a flower trimmed beret even sweeter.  See below for the pattern and if you make one yourself, please share it with me on Instagram with #veraandbessmaker before you send it off to do some good.

A very small amount of any DK yarn (I used some Sirdar Baby Crofter)
Coordinating button or bead
4mm crochet hook
Darning needle for those ends and stitching on the flower

Instructions are written in standard UK terms.

To make the beret:

R1: Chain 4 (counts as first stitch) and working in last chain from hook, work 11 treble crochet and join to top of chain 4 with a slip stitch (12 st)

R2: Chain 3 (counts as first stitch) and work 1 treble in same stitch, then 2 treble in each stitch around and join to top of chain 3 with a slip stitch (24 st)

R3: Chain 3 (counts as first stitch) and work 1 treble crochet in each st and join to top of chain 3 with a slip stitch (24 st)

R4: Chain 3 (counts as first stitch), work 2 treble together over next 2 stitches then work (1 treble in next stitch, 2 treble together over next 2 stitches) to the end of the round and join into top of chain 3 with a slip stitch (16 st)

R5: Chain 1 (does not count as first stitch) and work 1 double crochet in each stitch.

R6: Repeat R5 and fasten off.

To make the flower:

Chain 2 and in last chain from hook work 1 treble, chain 1, slip stitch then (chain 1, 1 treble, chain 1, slip stitch) 4 times.  Fasten off.

Sew flower to beret with button or bead, darn in ends and admire your creation.  Don't forget to show me #veraandbessmaker.

For more information about The Big Knit or to find more patterns, just click here.  Every bottle of Innocent Smoothie wearing a hat that is sold adds 25p to pot for Age UK.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

The Leftover Shawl

Ah, the Leftover Shawl, aka Granny Stripes Get Together or The Shawl I Shouldn't Be Working On Because I Haven't Finished The Boy's Blanket Yet.

The Boy's blanket, as I mentioned before in this post, is very grey.  And very square.  It's cool and interesting and a great adventure too, but I took a little break from it to make up the Hearts and Flowers bunting (free pattern!), but it turns out that it was a bit like a gateway drug, just one little hit and all of a sudden I'm reaching for the pretty colours and making a shawl.

The Leftover Shawl WIP, in white, pomegranate and duck egg so far.
In my defence, I am using yarn leftover from the Hearts and Flowers blanket, so it's not like I went out and bought more yarn for it.  I'm actually doing a good thing, using some stash yarn. But still, I should be working on The Boy's blanket and if he notices that I've started a shawl he won't be happy.  So I should have stopped.  But I haven't.

It's a really easy shawl to make, just a simple twist on granny stripes.  After 2 set up rows, there are 2 pattern rows, repeated until the yarn is used up or your shawl reaches the desired size.

A quick note, I use chain 1, treble at the beginning of each row.  It's not as perfectly neat as using a starting treble, but it leaves less ends for darning in and I like to have a proper stitch to work the next row in rather than fiddling with the top of a chain 3.  Use whatever works best for you - so when I say chain 1, treble in first stitch, you can substitute a starting treble or chain 3 if you prefer.

Set up row 1: Chain 4 and working in last chain from hook, work 2 treble, 2 chain, 3 treble.

Set up row 2: Chain 1, treble in first stitch, chain 2, work 3 treble together, in the first stitch already worked and the next 2 stitches, chain 2.  In the corner 2 chain space, work 3 treble, chain 2, 3 treble, chain 2  Work 3 treble together over the next 3 stitches, chain 2 and work 3 treble together over the next 3 stitches.  Chain 2 and work 1 treble in the first stitch (which was where you worked the last of your 3 treble together).

Now, on with the pattern.

Row 1: Chain 1, treble in first stitch.  Work 3 treble in each chain 2 space to the corner.  At the corner work 3 treble, 2 chain, 3 treble.  Work 3 treble in each chain 2 space to the corner.  Work 1 treble in last stitch.

Row 2: Chain 1, treble in first stitch.  * Chain 2, work 3 treble together over next 3 stitches.  Repeat from * to the corner and work 2 chain, 3 treble, 2 chain, 3 treble in the corner.  Repeat the chain 2, work 3 treble together over next 3 stitches up to the last stitch, work 1 treble in the last stitch.

These 2 rows are the pattern, lovely and easy to remember and perfect for Netflix crochet, or Car Share crochet as I was doing last night.  (Crochet and comedy, made for each other.)

I am using oddments of yarn and will keep going until I have a fairly large shawl, but I can't give you a precise yarn requirement.  I am working 1 repeat of the 2 rows in different colours, alternating with white and using duck egg for every other colour, just because that arrangement pleases me.  I have a feeling that I will add some sort of pretty border at the end too, and I'll add that here when I get to it.  I just wanted to share this now, because it's the perfect project for a long bank holiday weekend.  The stripes of colour make it interesting, I love seeing how the colour combination develops, but it's easy enough to work on while you're in the car, talking to someone or watching a movie.

My yarn is Stylecraft Special DK and I have white, duck egg, pistachio, fondant, pomegranate and lemon.

What are your making plans for the long weekend?

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Hearts and Flowers bunting, just in time for Easter

I took a little break from The Boy's very grey blanket (it is so grey and so square, not a flower or pink tone in sight) to make this little bunt.  That's a word, right, bunt?  And lots of bunts make bunting.

So, I have a pile of these lovely colours left over from making the Hearts and Flowers blanket, very easy to play with some yarn and the idea of hearts and flowers to come up with this.  I used Stylecraft Special DK in lipstick, pomegranate, fondant, white, lemon, pistachio and duck egg, but it's perfect for using up scraps in any colour combination that makes you smile.

The pattern is below and is the perfect introduction to the Hearts and Flowers blanket pattern (here on Ravelry or here on Etsy) as it uses some of the same stitches and techniques that I am fond of using.  If you make any bunts (or you are adventurous and decide to make the blanket) please share them with me on Instagram or other social media with #veraandbessmaker.

On to the pattern.  You will need your chosen yarn with appropriate hook (I used Stylecraft Special DK and a 4mm hook) plus a needle to darn all the ends in.  It is written in UK standard terms.

In lipstick, chain 4 and join with a slip stitch.  Do not fasten off.

R1: Work 1 double crochet into the ring chain 1, work (1 double crochet, chain 1) 5 times and slip stitch to the first double crochet.  Fasten off.

R2: In pomegranate, join with a double crochet in any space, chain 2, then work (1 double crochet, ch2) in each space, slip stitch to first double crochet and fasten off.

R3: Join with a slip stitch in any space.  Work 1 double crochet, 3 treble crochet, 1 double crochet and slip stitch in same space.  Work slip stitch, 1 double crochet, 3 treble crochet, 1 double crochet, slip stitch in each 2 chain space.  Do not join.  Fasten off.

R4: In fondant, work a front post double crochet around each of the 6 double crochet stitches from round 2.  Slip stitch to first stitch and fasten off.  You can just see these stitches in the photo below, at the base of each petal between the white spike stitches.

R5: In white, working into the centre ring and between each petal, work spike double crochet, chain 3 6 times.  Slip stitch to first stitch to join and fasten off.  Ease each petal through the chain 3 space and tweak as necessary to make them sit neatly.

R6: In pistachio, and starting with a starting treble (simply a treble stitch worked as the first stitch, rather than a chain 3, which you can of course use if you prefer), work 2 treble together, the first treble in one white 3 chain space and the second treble in the next space, so that the leaves appear between each petal.  Chain 3.  Work 2 treble together, the first treble in the same space as the last treble and the second in the next space.  Chain 3.  Continue around with 2 treble together, chain 3 and slip stitch to the first stitch of the round.  Fasten off.

R7: In white, working in the 3 chain spaces, work 3 double crochet, chain 1 in each space.  Slip stitch to second stitch of round (this creates a neater, almost invisible join as the slip stitch sits in front of the first stitch).  Fasten off.

R8: This round creates the heart shape.  Join with a double crochet in any chain 1 space.  Work 1 treble in the next stitch, 2 double trebles in the next stitch, 3 double trebles in the next stitch and 2 trebles in the chain space.  Work 1 double crochet in each of the next 3 stitches, 1 double crochet in the space and 1 double crochet in each of the next 3 stitches.  Work treble, chain 2, treble in the space (point of heart).  Work 1 double crochet in the each of the next 3 stitches, the space and the next 3 stitches.  Work 2 trebles in the next space, 3 double trebles in the next stitch, 2 double trebles in the next stitch, 1 treble in the next stitch.  Slip stitch to the first stitch and fasten off.

R9: In fondant, join with a double crochet worked under the double crochet from round 8, to exaggerate the centre top of the heart.  Work double crochet, chain 1 in each stitch to the point of the heart.  Work double crochet, chain 2, double crochet in the point.  Work chain 1, double crochet in each stitch to the beginning of the round.  Slip stitch to first stitch and fasten off.

R10: In pistachio, join with a double crochet in the stitch at the centre top.  Work (double crochet in ch1 space, ch2) in next 7 spaces.  Work (double crochet, chain 1) in next 9 spaces.  In point work double crochet, chain 2, double crochet.  Work (chain 1, double crochet) in 9 spaces then (chain 2, double crochet) in 7 spaces.  Double crochet next to the first double crochet of the round, in the same stitch.  Fasten off.

R11: This round shapes the bunt.  In white, join with a starting treble in the last stitch of round 10 and work 1 treble in the next stitch.  Then working in the chain spaces, work 2 double crochet in space, 1 double crochet and 1 half treble crochet in the next space, (2 treble, chain 2, 2 treble) in the next space, 1half treble and 1 double crochet in the next space, 2 double crochet in the next space and the 1 double in each of the next 9 spaces to the point.  Work 1 treble, chain 2, 1 treble in the point.  Work 1 double crochet in each of the next 9 spaces, 2 double crochet in the next space, 1 double and 1 half treble in the next space, (2 treble, chain 2, 2 treble) in the next space, 1 half treble and 1 double in the next space, 2 double in the next space.  Slip stitch to second stitch of round to join and fasten off.

R12: Starting in the last stitch of round 11, join with a starting treble and work 1 treble crochet in each stitch around with 1 treble, 2 chain, 1 treble in each corner.  Slip stitch to second stitch of round and fasten off.

R13: In duck egg, work 1 front post double crochet around each stitch, starting in the middle of the top section, with chain 2 at each corner.  Slip stitch to join.

R14: Working in the back loop only of the white trebles from round 12 and both loops of the stitches from round 13, work 1 double crochet in each stitch, with 1 treble, chain 2, 1 treble at each corner (encasing all chain stitches from previous rounds).  Slip stitch to second stitch of round and fasten off.

Make as many as you find pleasing and join with a simple chain, working double crochet stitches across the top of each bunt.

Don't forget to share photos if you make your own bunting.  Happy hooking and Happy Easter!

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

My design process

I should be starting on my next blanket later this week.  My first two designs were blankets that I wanted to make.  This third blanket is something that my 11 year old son has asked for.  He loves all things snuggly, squishy and comfortable (of my three children, he has the most cushions) but he also has an aversion to pretty and floral and has suggested that I make something more boy-friendly.

Why doesn't he love this as much as I do?

I've really been struggling with this and it's made me think about my design process.

Hearts and Flowers, well, I knew exactly what I wanted.  I wanted a beautiful floral theme, definitely working with hexagons, more realistic than stylised flowers and lots of white space to show them off.  Duck egg is one of my favourite colours, so that was a no brainer for the edging and I knew it would be the perfect balance to the bright shades in the flowers.

I started off with just four flowers and the heart, but when I started to put it together, I felt that it needed two more flowers to be perfect.  I didn't have a specific plan for the layout.  I started with a heart at the centre and worked outwards, trying not to repeat flowers in each circle of hexagons.  (I made one little mistake with that, but perfection is for gods and I am a mere mortal.)

Old Romance was a little different.  I started by choosing my colours - my local haberdashery has a a huge wall of Stylecraft Special DK in all the colours - and then came home to play with them.  My original colours included cream, which looked completely off when I started working on the design.  I also added plum at a later stage and changed how I used the raspberry, which was going to be little highlights, but ended up being a fully fledged member of my final colour cast.

Pattern should be published later this week

I was very much inspired by the colours and style of vintage tapestries, carpet bags and rugs and my colour palette really seemed to echo that vibe, so I knew that the design would end up being quite detailed and would probably include surface crochet, but it didn't really come to life for me until I added the simple embroidery.  I didn't have a specific plan for the size or shape of the motifs, but once I had the lime spokes embroidered in the flower centres, I knew where I was going.

This next blanket is a different animal.  I couldn't make the colours work, no matter how long I loitered in front of the yarn wall.  Nothing called out to me.  I couldn't settle on a design.  I had a vague idea about creating a tartan style with crochet, but it was all very vague and unexciting.  Since I started designing, I've begun to see pattern and colour palettes everywhere and it was seeing a woman carrying a white, grey and black bag with little pops of red on it that settled me on a colour theme.  The Boy seemed happy (or at least not unhappy) with the choice, so then it just came down to design.

I'm not much further along on that just now, although I have some ideas about angles and I definitely want to work this one from the centre out in one piece, rather than making up squares or hexies and joining them later.  I've spent a lot of time down a rabbit hole on Pinterest looking at patchwork quilts, which as an occasional patchworker and the daughter of a patchworker I love and I think it will help me take this blanket down a completely different path to my earlier, girlier blankets.

Watch this space.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Granny does gingham

Granny squares meet this spring's trend for gingham (Woman's Hour told me this is spring's hottest new look so it must be true).

Reduced to its simplest form, gingham is just squares of colour.  Take white (or ivory for a more vintage vibe) and two shades of a colour.  For the sample in the photograph, I used cotton dk in white, palest blush and a peachier blush.

I made up tiny little one round granny squares and then sewed them together.  You could definitely go larger with the squares, but I think it's better to sew than crochet the squares together for the gingham effect.

Quick pattern:
Ch5 and working in fourth ch from hook, work 3tr, ch2, 3tr, ch2, 3tr, ch2, 2tr and ss into 3rd ch to join.  Fasten off.  (In the sample I made up I only used 1ch at each corner and the squares are a little bit curvy and round.  2ch at the corners will give a sharper corner.)  Make up as many squares as you need for your project.

Yarn details:
The white and very pale blush are Rico Essentials cotton dk and the peachy blush is Sirdar cotton dk.  I raided my stash, but recommend that you use the same yarn for all three colours for the best results.  It's not obvious in the photo, but the Rico yarn has a slight sheen and the Sirdar is very matte.

For more gingham inspiration, have a browse through what Pinterest found me for crochet gingham.