Monday, 17 June 2019

Summertime Mandala Cushion

Summertime ...

Strawberries and cream, Wimbledon on the telly, ice-creams, suncream, picnics and ...

... tempestuous rain, floods and turning on the heating.

Yes, if you live in the UK then you'll know that we're not really experiencing the summer of dreams, but a rather cold, wet version, which no-one is very keen on. So in an attempt to banish all miserable thoughts of our dreadful summer so far, here's a rather lovely (if I say so myself) colour palette using Stylecraft cotton (I've blogged about before here) which will give you ALL the summery feels.

Now, if truth be told I love a Mandala, but I'm never exactly sure what to do with it once I've made it - I've seen some lovely versions attached to hoops and hung on the wall, but I fancied something a bit different. And as I have practically NO cushions in my house (same goes for blankets and shawls, in case you're wondering) I thought I'd make a new one, and combine the two. Especially as I found a plain cushion cover in Hobbycraft for a total steal at £2 (find it here). 

Summertime Mandala (UK Terms)

Pattern Notes: 

Most rounds begins with a treble stitch, so make the first stitch of yours a chain of 2 or 3, depending on which you prefer. Some rounds begin with a tr2tog or tr3tog cluster. For the treble two together (tr2tog), make a chain of 2 and a treble stitch, for the treble three together (tr3tog), make a chain of 2 and then a standard tr2tog.
For rounds beginning with a double crochet stitch, make a standing double crochet, or chain 1, (doesn't count as stitch) and make 1dc in the same space.
At the end of each round, slip stitch to the first st of the round to join.

You'll need: 

40cm x 40cm plain cushion cover
Stylecraft Classique Cotton DK in Ivory (3665), Shrimp (3674), Peppermint (3691) and Apricot (3962)
4mm hook
Needle and thread in matching colour.

Rnd 1: In Ivory, 10tr in magic ring or ch4 (counts as 1ch + 1tr), 9tr in 4th ch from hook. (10 tr)
Rnd 2: In Apricot, 2tr in each st around. (20 tr)
Rnd 3: In Peppermint, 4tr between each 2tr cluster around. (40 tr)
Rnd 4: In Shrimp, *2tr between 4tr cluster, sk 2 sts, 2tr between stitches; rep from * around.
Rnd 5: In Apricot, 3tr between each 2tr cluster around. (60 tr)

Rnds 1 - 9

Rnd 6: In Ivory, 1dc, 3ch between each 3tr cluster around. (20 dc, 60 ch)
Rnd 7: 4tr in each 3ch-sp around. (80 tr)
Rnd 8: In Peppermint, *2tr between 4tr cluster, sk 2 sts, 2tr between stitches; rep from * around.
Rnd 9: In Apricot, 2tr between each 2tr cluster around.
Rnd 10: In Shrimp, 1dc, 2ch between each 3tr cluster around. (40 dc, 80 ch)
Rnd 11: 3tr in each 2ch-sp around. (120 tr)
Rnd 12: In Ivory, *1tr between 3tr cluster, sk 1 st, (1tr, 1ch, 1tr) in next st, sk 1 st; rep from * around. (120 tr, 40 ch)
Rnd 13: In Apricot, (tr2tog, 2ch, tr2tog) in each 1ch-sp around. (80 tr2tog, 80 ch)
Rnd 14: In Peppermint, (tr3tog, 2ch, tr3tog) in each 2ch-sp around. (80 tr3tog, 80 ch)
Rnd 15: In Ivory, *1dc in 2ch-sp, (4tr, picot, 4tr) in next 2ch-sp. (160 tr, 20 picot, 20 dc)

Rnds 8 - 15

Fasten off and weave in ends. Stitch to middle of cushion and enjoy!!

That's it - it couldn't be easier! And you don't have to make a cushion - you could use your mandala to decorate a plain tote bag, t-shirt, the back of a denim jacket... or it could just lie on a table, looking pretty.

Look what happens when I say 'Biscuits' ..

[Do note the sun was actually shining for the photos today - but we all know it's going to pee down tomorrow ...]

Sarah x

Monday, 25 March 2019

Mindful Crochet - A book Review

Mindfulness: a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and body sensations, used as a therapeutic technique*.

Mindfulness is extremely contemporary at the moment, and appropriately so; with increasingly hectic and busy lifestyles it's important that we take some time to focus inwardly and find a space and time to be calm and peaceful. 

Clinical studies show that mindfulness can help reduce anxiety, exhaustion and insomnia and can enhance the body's natural healing rhythms. It's no secret that crafts like knitting and crochet also have similar effects and can even slow the onset of dementia. So what better way to improve our physical and mental health than by combing the two?

Prayer Flag Garland

I was privileged to be asked to review a copy of Emma Leith's new book, 'Mindful Crochet'. On reading the introduction, Emma explains how crochet has changed her life and that it is '... the doorway to my happy place where pain and anxiety are softened and a state of peaceful acceptance resides ... it doesn't make the bad stuff go away, but can help transform it.'

Mindfulness Cowl

I couldn't agree more with Emma's thinking - I find crochet extremely relaxing (except when trying to wrestle with a particularly difficult pattern, or yarn that just won't do what I ask) and it's my favourite way to wind down after a long day. 

Prayer Beads Purse

Emma's book is split into four sections: Colour Therapy, Touch and Texture, Mindful Meditation and Caring and Sharing and has 35 beautiful projects with everything from small motifs and quick makes to larger ones which will take a little longer to complete. There are projects for the home, including bunting and flags, a table runner, a cushion and even a chandelier; and accessories – bag and purse, a desk tidy, shawls and scarves. Each project has a star rating which denotes the skill level required and the instructions are written in UK terms with clear descriptions of how to make the stitches in each round or row and detailed explanations of how to make up and finish each piece.

Boho Baskets

Dotted throughout the book are mindfulness reminders – helpful little tips and hints to put you on the right path as you work through the projects. These include practicing breathing techniques, helping you to focus on achievement and fulfilment and enjoying the rhythm of the stitches.

One thing that strikes me as I flick through the book is the wonderful range of colours popping out from every page – every project is photographed beautifully and looks very inviting. The yarn choices throughout range from cottons and acrylics to sock yarn and mohair. What I particularly like is that you could happily use whatever yarn you please, busting your stash or substituting for your favourite brands.

Kaleidoscope Mandala Mat

I'm thrilled to be able to give away a copy of Emma's lovely book to one lucky blog reader. All you have to do is enter below. The giveaway will end on the 2nd April 2019 and the winner will be notified by email. Entries welcome worldwide.


I'm waiting for a quiet moment in my schedule to have my own moments of mindfulness, but I cannot decide between the Kaleidoscope Mandala Mat or the Summer Sun Coasters ....

Enjoy your week,
Sarah xx

*From online dictionary
I was given a copy of the book in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Just a heart

Whether or not you celebrate Valentine's Day, there's something infinitely enduring about a heart.

So when my insta pal sweet_sharna announced she was running her #leavealittleheart campaign again this year, I decided I wanted in.

The premise is simple: make a little heart (knit, crochet, sew, origami etc.) and leave it for someone to find on February 14th. You could tie it to a park bench or hang it on a branch - the only advice I would give as a responsible yarn-bomber is that you don't want to be accused of littering, so why not attach a 'please take me' note your heart, so there's no confusion.

There's a story behind my heart pattern, too - or rather the yarn I used. You see, being one of the Stylecraft Blogstars, I've tried most of their yarns, except the Classique Cotton DK. It was when I travelled to Breidagen (the Dutch knitting festival) with the Stylecraft Team that I took part in Emma Varnham's workshop to make Billy Bear using, you've guessed it, Classique DK.

Well it quite literally blew me away! Now, I use a lot and I mean A LOT of cotton yarns in my design work - it's particularly brilliant for toys and motifs and has such a lovely finish, but it does have the tendency to be a bit splitty. But not this stuff - it's got just enough of a twist to keep the yarn from coming apart as you crochet with it, which is a revelation!! This means speedier work for me as I don't have to keep faffing around with my stitches. And being Stylecraft, it's affordable, good quality and in a great range of colours. And as it's my new favourite, I'm using it for everything at the moment. 

Now, there are approximately eleventy-billion free heart patterns out there, so here's another to add to them. You could leave yours for someone to find, or make a garland, or use as an appliqué. I've bought some little linen bags which I might add mine too - they'd make the perfect gift.

Obviously, I've used Stylecraft Classique Cotton DK ('cos I'm obsessed), but you could use whatever you fancy.


I used:
3.5 mm hook
Stylecraft Classique Cotton DK in Dove, Peppermint, Poppy, Hot Pink, Fuchsia

UK terms:
Rnd 1: 3ch, in the 3rd ch from your hook make the following: 2tr, 1dc, 3tr, 2htr, 1tr, 2htr. Join to 3rd ch with sl st. (12 sts)
Rnd 2: 3ch, 1tr in same st, 2tr in next st, (2tr, 1htr) in next st, 1 spike dc into centre hole, (1htr, 2tr) in next st, (2tr in next st) four times, (1tr, 1dtr, 1tr) in next st, 2tr in next st twice. Join to 3rd ch with sl st. (26 sts)

Fasten off and weave in ends.

US terms:
Rnd 1: 3ch, in the 3rd ch from your hook make the following: 2dc, 1sc, 3dc, 2hdc, 1dc, 2hdc. Join to 3rd ch with sl st. (12 sts)
Rnd 2: 3ch, 1dc in same st, 2dc in next st, (2dc 1hdc) in next st, 1 spike sc into centre hole, (1hdc, 2dc) in next st, (2dc in next st) four times, (1dc, 1tr, 1dc) in next st, 2dc in next st twice. Join to 3rd ch with sl st. (26 sts)

Fasten off and weave in ends.

Enjoy making your little hearts and have fun spreading the love.

Sarah xx