It’s always sunny in Brussels

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I have met Otilia many years ago. Back then, we were both living in a place where everybody knows each other. But I really met her when she moved to Brussels to study documentary filmmaking. She came like a ray of sunshine, bringing along warmth and a certain delicacy in her manner of speaking, looking, living the life. We spent many evenings, talking late into the night, enjoying red wine and my culinary experiments, discovering artists… I almost became a subject of one of her documentary films, which was a very exciting experience that also proved that I am terrible in front of the camera 🙂

Otilia was part of a first workshop I organized for my lovely friends to enjoy our creativity, yarns and needles. I am very happy that she restarted then to crochet and she does a wonderful job at it ;).

For Christmas or rather a couple of weeks later :), I knitted a headband to keep her warm when she rushes on her bike through rainy and windy (very windy!) Brussels. She accepted it with so much joy, which probably can not be compared to my joy, when I see people liking what I crochet or knit for them.

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Thanks to Otilia for so beautifully wearing the head band, which can be also worn as a collar, and to Miguel for the sunny pictures ❤

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The headband was made of Rosarios 4 Bulky Light yarn following the DROPS Design Braidy pattern.

 

The black sheep of yarn stores – Ovelha Negra in Porto

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A couple of months ago I made a recovery trip to Porto. Needless to say how wonderful this Portuguese city is, how is easy and enchanting… And how warm the people are over there!

It was one of those trips where I haven’t planned much ahead. I really wanted to have a coffee looking at the ocean, experience Casa da Musica, visit Serralves, and otherwise just live in the moment, no plans, no organization…

While in Porto, I heard about the famous Portuguese wool, which, as you would imagine, made me enter every yarn store I saw while walking around the city.

And then I discovered Ovelha Negra! It is the cosiest yarn store ever, tastefully decorated, offering a nice selection of high-quality yarns, tools, workshops and just good vibes.

The very nice owner of the store Joana answered my endless questions and let me take my time in enjoying her little yarn paradise.

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I spent lots of time touching the wonderful yarns and imagining how they could be crocheted and knitted and what they could become. It just made me so happy…

Certainly, I couldn’t leave the store empty handed! I bought mostly Portuguese wool, despite the fact that I was there in May 🙂

My favorite is this handspun wool…

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… and this fine Portuguese wool that comes in many colors and is produced by Ovelha Negra.

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Back home, my lovely cat has performed a very serious quality control. And he loved it!

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I can’t wait to stat playing with these yarns, now that winter is coming 😉

Crochet – connecting people

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Tapestry crochet was long on the list of my crochet projects. I have never tried it before, but I was certainly attracted by the mathematics behind it, since most things I have seen were quite geometrical 🙂

For years one of my friends wanted to have a bag crocheted by me. I think by now she has several baskets, a scarf, but she wanted a bag – because we know (and this blog is a proof) we can’t have enough of them 🙂 This summer, it was finally time for it. And I’ve decided to make it in tapestry crochet. Long story short, I found a pattern on Etsy that I thought was very dreamy and summery.

While the pattern was very well written, it took some time in making the bag. I had to do other things in the meantime, my yarn has finished too soon, so I had to reorder… But finally, I made it 🙂

I was very happy with how it came out, so I decided to send a picture to the Etsy shop. What happened after was one of the nicest conversation I had with a stranger 🙂 I will not go into details, but I will say that Maria Isabel is one of the sweetest girls, far away in Mexico, who was quite generous with compliments 😉 Thank you, Maria Isabel, for making my day!

Going back to the title of this post, to prove that crochet connects people, here it is: a girl in Mexico writes a crochet pattern, another girl in Belgium uses it, and yet another girl in Moldova will enjoy the bag:)

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You can find this and other beautiful patterns at Chabe GS crochet patterns on Etsy.

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meditation for fingers is also on Facebook and Instagram

Color block crochet tote

crochet summer toteLiving in Belgium, you can never know how much real summer you would actually have 🙂 When you crochet something summery, you really want to finish it as early as possible, so that you manage to use it. Lucky us, we are having quite a lot of sun these days and the forecast still looks good! This two color tote is perfect for going to the beach or to the market or, as its new owner said, for bringing lunch to the office 😉

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It is made of some 300gr of quite sturdy synthetic yarn, and crocheted with a size 3 hook. The pattern is free and can be downloaded at mica makes. I used the same yarn to make a few other bags. Check them out here, here, here and here 🙂

Little crochet purse & my first tutorial

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I made this little purse for a lovely friend, a very strong and wise woman for her birthday. I know she has been waiting for it for a long time 🙂

This is also my first attempt to write down how I made it. I really hope it is clear and easy to follow. I would appreciate any comments and advice on how to improve it.

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Tutorial 

Materials You need a purse frame, yarn and a crochet hook. For this purse, I used a frame of approximately 15cm, about 150 grams of synthetic yarn, and a matching crochet hook, No. 3.

The purse is crocheted in a round, without joining rows, starting from a magic loop. It is then sewn to the purse frame. The handles are crocheted separately and attached to the frame.

Used stitches (US)

SC – single crochet

HDC – half double crochet

DC – double crochet

PC – popcorn stitch – 5 DC together in one stitch

Base

1 Six SC in the magic loop = 6 stitches

2 Two SC in each stitch = 12 stitches

3 SC in the next stitch, two SC in the next stitch – repeat five more times = 18 stitches

4 SC in the next two stitches, two SC in the next stitch – repeat five more times = 24 stitches

5 SC in the next three stitches, two SC in the next stitch – repeat five more times = 30 stitches

6 SC in the next four stitches, two SC in the next stitch – repeat five more times = 36 stitches

7 SC in the next five stitches, two SC in the next stitch – repeat five more times = 42 stitches

8 SC in the next six stitches, two SC in the next stitch – repeat five more times = 48 stitches

9 SC in the next seven stitches, two SC in the next stitch – repeat five more times = 54 stitches

10 SC in the next eight stitches, two SC in the next stitch – repeat five more times = 60 stitches

11 SC in the next nine stitches, two SC in the next stitch – repeat five more times = 66 stitches

12 SC in the next ten stitches, two SC in the next stitch – repeat five more times = 72 stitches

13 SC in the next eleven stitches, two SC in the next stitch – repeat five more times = 78 stitches

14 SC in the next twelve stitches, two SC in the next stitch – repeat five more times = 84 stitches

15 SC in the next thirteen stitches, two SC in the next stitch – repeat five more times = 90 stitches

16 SC in the next fourteen stitches, two SC in the next stitch – repeat five more times = 96 stitches

17 SC in the next fifteen stitches, two SC in the next stitch – repeat five more times = 102 stitches

The size of the base can be adjusted depending on the size of the frame. For this purse, the size of the base circle was slightly larger than the metal frame. This way the purse will have some volume.

Once you have reached the desired size, you can proceed to the next stage.

18 HDC in the next five stitches, 1 PC – repeat sixteen times more = 102 stitches

19 HDC in each stitch = 102 stitches

20-21 Repeat row 19

22-29 Repeat rows 18-21

30 SC in each stitch = 102 stitches

31-33 Repeat row 30

Finish off. Next, the purse is sewn to the frame.

Handles Crochet a cord of desired length. You may also want to have a longer cord, so that the purse can be worn on the shoulder. You can use the so-called Romanian (point) lace cord stitch. Attach it to the frame and sew the ends together. Cut off the yarn and weave in the ends.

Have fun crocheting 😉

Twice cozy hot water bottles

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It seems to me that crocheting hot water bottle coats might be a solution to long and rainy nights. First, you get very cozy finding the perfect wool, picking a pattern and finally crocheting the coat. Then, you get cozy every time again and again when they are softly keeping you warm.

These two have been made for two lovely friends 🙂

Have cozy and warm winter nights! 🙂

Timeless inspiration

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I can say with much certainty now – it is much easier to crochet than to write! It is particularly hard to write about things that are important, things that carry feelings and warmth… In the fear that the words chosen would be too dry, too simple…

While this post was sitting in drafts for several weeks, things happened around me that brought me closer and closer to it. I’ve been asked recently how and when did I learn to crochet, which brought me back to my childhood… On Alo BEBE (in Romanian) there is a beautiful new series of stories dedicated to mothers and grandmothers… The Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded this year for “the art of memory”… In light of the latter, I reread what Aharon Appelfeld wrote about memory in The Story of a Life – “elusive and selective, it holds on to what it chooses to hold on to” bringing “pleasure and tranquility”…

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Like many in my generation, we used to spend most of our summers in the countryside at our grandparents. I was no exception. And oh, was I spoiled! I never had to work. The only times I would be doing something in the garden, I would be eating fruits and berries directly from the plants. I could play the whole day long! There were however some “forced” activities – meals and midday naps – if I only knew back then how precious they would be years later 🙂

I was the first and, until the age of 5, the only grandchild. Given how busy life in the village is in summer, I was often left by myself. Even later, when my brother and my cousins came into the picture, I would still have plenty of time for my own activities. Now I understand how important it was that my grandparents didn’t ask me to help around the house and that I was left to my dreamy world, where I learned to “entertain” myself and discover my passions.

One of them was books. I guess I was lucky that both my grandparents were school teachers: there were plenty of books in the house that I could choose from. Though, now it feels that I kept rereading some of them over and over again – who knows? 🙂

And then I discovered crochet! In school, we used to have a class where girls would learn everything they need to be proper Soviet housewives 🙂 And one of the skills was crochet. The summer after that school year was really magical. I took some cotton yarn and my hook to my grandparents. Suddenly, their house looked different. I started to pay attention to all embroideries on the walls, the hand-woven towels, the crocheted lace of table clothes and bed sheets… So many… And everything was done by my grandmother!

My grandmother Dina was a teacher of Russian language and literature. She was not born in the village, like most of its inhabitants. When she was in teacher training, she met my grandfather, a primary school teacher, fell in love, and followed him. She was one of the most respected persons in the community – many would knock on her door for advise or consolation. And many women would come to borrow her handmade works, so they can replicate the pattern. Those were the times…

I am not sure whether the image I have of my grandmother working on her embroidery is memory or imagination, or the image of her sitting next to me showing me how to do a certain stitch, or many other images of her for that matter… But I am sure that spending all those summers surrounded by all her works, and receiving so much love and care, had let my passion for handicraft and my appreciation of handmade things become a part of me.

Years later, I moved to another country. Last time I was home, I asked my grandfather if I could look through my grandmother’s things and take something with me. He was so happy to open old cupboards and chests, accompanying this with our family stories, some of which I’ve heard so many times, but are so important to be told. So that we don’t forget, so that these stories stay with us, for long…

I took back with me these two embroideries for pillow cases. Pillow cases that remained unfinished. I framed them and hung them in my bedroom. So that they stay with me, for long…

Less is more zpagetti bag

simple zpagetti bagSometimes you don’t need a very elaborated pattern to crochet something cute. It was a present for a friend, and, yes, I’ve seen her wearing it 😀

This bag is crocheted around only with the single crochet stitch. It is a great project for beginners – it will get you hooked! 😉

I used my favorite Zpagetti yarn in light jeans and wooden handles. All from Hoooked. Other projects made from the same yarn can be found here and here.

Tiny raffia basket

small raffia basketWith this post, I will start a separate series on this blog Baskets. I have made a lot of them, using different materials, shapes and colors. Baskets are great to decorate your home, store small things, and try to be organized 🙂 They also make nice presents.

This one is made from raffia, which I also used to make the mini Christmas decorations last year. The material is quite sturdy, which makes it slightly harder to work with, but then it is quite suitable for objects that need to keep their shape.

 

Because a girl can’t have enough of them…

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Bags, of course!

This one is made of one my favorite yarns zpagetti, the same one I used for my rug. I guess one of the reasons is that it comes in a million of great colors and it works really really fast 🙂 It probably took me about an hour to crochet this bag. I have also reused a very cute flower decoration I had kept from an older bag.

For this bag I used the Zpagetti yarn in taupe, and the basis is of the pattern is the very simple single crochet stitch. Try it out!