13/12/2014

Flower Power

See Floral for links to the origins of the non crochet floral images

Hello!  Over the years, I have seen this pretty pattern appear in my Pinterest feed many times and always thought it would make a gorgeous blanket. In fact, it is pattern nr 19 that caught my eye more so than pattern nr 16, until one day when pattern nr 16 featured in my Instagram feed and I was completely hooked! I absolutely love making this square, it is fun to be working with so many different colours and to be mixing cotton and bamboo yarns to reach the desired effect. You definitely want to stroll over to Instagram and take a look at the gorgeous projects featuring this square by Cornel, Elsbeth and Liezl and also read Cornel's posting on the HelloHart blog. 

Hook size: 4mm. These stunning squares are about 25cm x 25cm unblocked in size each! 

It is a very busy time here in the Pigtails Palace and I am slightly overwhelmed by the volume of activities I am faced with on a daily basis (including working full time!) I will also be blogging about the progress in hunting down beautiful pieces for the Girl Teen's room soon, show some pictures of what the interesting Doha Downtown area looks like, finally blog about the African Inspired Blanket (hijacked by the Dude Teen) and so forth!

Have a great week, we are celebrating Qatar National day this week and from what I can see, it certainly is a massive event here every year. Until next time, cheers!







20/11/2014

Liebster Award!


Last week I was awarded a Liebster by the ebullient and vivacious Beatrix Snyman of Btrix Dsigns. Thank you so much Beatrix, I really miss connecting with you over a cup of coffee and a ball of yarn! I also miss seeing your sales skills in action, no-one I know can close a deal quite in the way you do! Somehow I always spent more money than intended with you around, but I ended up loving the yarn so much, it didn't matter you rascal! In fact, the Istanbul inspired blanket published in Simply Crochet is the result of one such dealing between Beatrix and I. To any South African readers - if you live near Beatrix in South Africa and you haven't met her yet (whether to buy yarn or to attend a workshop) you are losing out! 

1. Why did you start a blog and what do you mainly blog about?  Blogging to me is a hobby as much as crocheting is. I blog to stay connected with other bloggers and observe patterns and trends with regard to craft and social media alike. I blog about crocheting and living life as a global nomad.

2. Did you realize that crochet is becoming the new black? Why do you think it is becoming so popular? Li Edelkoort in Trend Tablet nailed it when she spoke about crocheting, knitting and other textiles "In reaction to our virtual existence, we will need more real emotions and unknown surprising scenarios: tactility and dimension to compensate the flat screens in our lives, to give pleasure to our fingers."

3. What is your biggest reason for crocheting/knitting? Connecting with people and hearing, seeing their stories as told through craft.

4. Do you prefer working from a pattern or do you make up your own pattern as you go? Why? I do one of three things - design my own simple pattern; adapt an existing pattern or use an existing pattern. I always learn new techniques and manipulate yarn in either one of these three scenarios.

5. Who is your favorite crochet/knitting designer. Why? I really prefer the work by all the unknown women of Africa and Asia - those who produce the visions of designers such as Sophie Digard and Anne Claire Petit. These women are hugely talented and almost no one is telling their stories!

6. What is your favorite fiber to work with? Why? Any natural plant fibers because it is most suitable to the climate in the Middle East and South East Asia. I have a great passion for raw, natural materials opposed to man made ones.

7. Which is your favorite yarn brand and why? I have a great love affair with Vinnis Nikkim, Bambi and Serina as well as Colours of Grace. These yarns define my style and everything I make in either of these stand head and shoulders above any other yarns I use.

8. In short, give an overview of your craft journey since it started. One word: hooked!

9. I assume you have a few WIP’s. Who doesn’t? So what inspired your current WIP’s? Yes, name all of them! Ah, never assume! I work on one project at a time and at this very moment I do not have a single WIP to my name since I am awaiting delivery of a special hand dyed yarn order to start a special project!

10. Where is the most unexpected place you ever crochet/knitted?  I have enjoyed hooking in many interesting places - from the overnight train between Penang and Bangkok to the beach in Teluk Bahang National Park overlooking a village build in the ocean. I also kept yarn and a hook in my lap whilst driving in the very slow moving Penang traffic, crocheting a few rows or rounds at red traffic lights or when stuck in traffic.

11. Which project/design/pattern was your biggest challenge up to now and why?  The Barcelona jacket/bolero because it is a poorly written pattern and I am also not an expert in making wearables, meaning I couldn't improvise!

The Questions for my nominees:
1. Animal fiber, plant fiber or other fiber? 
2. Variegated or solid?
3. Colours or textures?
4. Pattern or plain?
5. How do you organise your stash?
6. Favourite projects to make?
7. How many WIPs are you working on?
8. Where is your favourite hooky place?
9. What three words best describe you?
10. Which travelling destination is on top of your bucket list?

My nominees are:
Andree, About Crochet
Sylvia, Tama Pollo
Ingrid, Little Birdy
Chrissie, Chrissie Crafts

Congratulations, you have just been awarded a Liebster!



15/11/2014

Shawl Love


Hello!  I hooked this beautiful lacy shawl for The Teen over the past week using a yarn that I have been eager to try out for months since I bought a few balls prior to leaving South Africa earlier this year. African Expressions Soul is a 4 ply/sock weight yarn in merino wool, mulberry silk and kid mohair. According to their website - 

"African Expressions was born from the desire for Africa to share her natural beauty with the rest of the world. Through our unique range of yarns we express the essence of that which makes Africa magical. Our range of select colours is inspired by the landscapes of South Africa - from sunrise to sunset. Each colour represents one small element that makes Africa, Africa. Our heart and soul is knitted firmly into Africa and would like to invite you to join us in this “African Expressions” Experience."

Brenda Grobler designed the most beautiful pull over for African Expressions. It is a great pity that I only brought 6 balls along, but i have bookmarked her pattern and really want to try it out!

The Teen is in seven heavens and has already worn her shawl with an off-the shoulder velvet top and a maxi skirt in a sheer fabric with the "above the knee" part lined but the rest of the skirt left flowy and see through. The complete look is utterly stunning and I am so sorry for not posting a picture, but I you can help me catch a Teen for a photo op . . . . 

Images :RawRustic and Own

Pattern: Eva's Shawl by Milobo available for free from Ravelry
Hook Size: 5mm in  order to achieve this lacy effect with a sock weight yarn
Yarn: Soul from African Expressions in two colourways. Body is worked in a solid army green/grey colour code 7289 and I then edged in a stripey version where this army green/grey is combined with blue code 7042M  The effect of this yarn is quite mesmerizing! 
Hook Size: 5mm in  order to achieve this lacy effect with a sock weight yarn

Images: RawRustic and Own



03/11/2014

Problematic Painful Pedantic Patterns

"Melancholy". The gloomy state of mind here at the Pigtails Palace after I failed to decipher a pattern that is described as problematic on Ravelry.
Image created with the Intuos Pen and Touch and computer by The Teen who recently turned 15 years old. She reminds everybody that copyright belongs to her.



Pattern: The beautiful Barcelona Jacket
Bodice: King Cole Bamboo Cotton DK
Hook Size: 4mm
Problem: Pattern riddled with mistakes and perhaps also a project best suited to advanced crocheters rather than the intermediate level mentioned. Some Ravelry members either frogged or hibernated this project. Others commented that they heavily modified the pattern, found it frustrating or even undecipherable. I am thinking that the few who enjoyed the pattern are experienced hookers! To quote a member on Ravelry:
Nice yarn + completely undecipherable pattern instructions + approx. 4 months wasted on this bad boy = crappy, frustrating project ==> unhappy crocheter (me!) UGH!!!PS -- Dear Caron pattern editors: this is the second Caron crochet pattern that has driven me nuts and according to both designers it is because you apparently change/alter/edit their original instructions. PLEASE reconsider your editing strategy!!! Thank you.
Personally, I am stuck on row 3 of the sleeves and cannot proceed until I understand what needs to be done. My frustration levels hit red on the "frustratometer".  The Teen is most disappointed too. She needs something pretty to wear with a long sleeved velvet top that leaves her shoulders bare since the official dress code in Qatar demands shoulders be covered.



The pattern reads like an Escher staircase as I also mentioned on Instagram e.g. (not actual pattern) rows 118-129 (6 pattern repeats) repeat rows 58-69  (6 pattern repeats) and when I get to those rows, it says to repeat rows 8-19 (5 pattern repeats) except for row 10 (increase) and rows 8-19 is in fact a repeat of rows 2-5 which forms the base of the pattern . . .  

Last night I started hooking a pretty wrap instead and decided to use a sock yarn in silk, mohair and wool with hook size 5 to create a lacy effect. As soon as she saw it, The Teen demanded to know who that was for. I said whoever wants it. Turns out she wants it. The mood is a happy one once again!   

Have a great week and do let me know whether you have hibernated or frogged an item before due to poorly written patterns rather than personal preferences!


28/10/2014

Indian Cotton Mattresses (gaadi)

Hello!  Our furniture has at long last arrived last week and I have been crazy busy organizing the Pigtails Palace ever since. Ah hell, I am clearly not 20 or 30 or even 40 years old anymore. My muscles are aching, my knees buckling. Three story palaces are really most suitable to the young and restless, not the middle aged! As soon as I unpacked my beautiful Vinnis Colours yarn though, I was feeling young and dandy again! 

 Friday morning I took a respite from unpacking to enjoy breakfast at Souq Waqif and stumbled upon the most interesting little street in downtown Doha. In fact, Doha is packed with interesting streets and I just love being able to finally explore the city now that the weather has cooled down significantly. This street is home to a few Indian Cotton Mattress (also known as gaadi) makers and traders.
 

Such shops are common in the towns of cities of India and it was a surprise to also stumble upon the same in Doha. Production of cotton mattresses (pillows and quilts too) is a labour intensive activity since it is all hand stitched. This YouTube video demonstrates the beautiful process, it is well worth watching to see how they pack the cotton sleeves, hand stitch it closed  (referred to as knitting in this video), flatten and compact the cotton with a stick before finally adding the edging to both sides and sewing the quilt like stitches. Indians are masters with scissors, thread and needles! These mattresses are very comfortable and suitable to hot and humid climates, however, it also loses shape quickly and the cotton needs to be treated and re-packed after a few years.

Two men recount how changes in the bedding industry in India, is affecting their craft:
Anser Basha Mattress Maker from Chennai
Khurban, Mattress Maker from Bangalore

I fell in love with some of the fabrics used to create these mattresses, not to mention that the mattresses and pillows are gorgeous items in its own right. My mind is spinning, I am thinking that this offers the perfect solution with regard to seating, or rather lounging, here at the Pigtails Palace. We have two great outdoor spaces, the one an L-shaped courtyard which also features a build in plant bedding on ground level and the other an entire rooftop area with beautiful wooden lattice shutters dividing space between the water tank and the rest of the rooftop. The space is accessible from a door on the third floor. It is the perfect weather now to develop the full potential of these spaces with the help of  Indian cotton mattresses don't you think?!
 

Have a great week!