'Tis the season #3: Button garland tutorial

I hope that those who celebrate it had a happy Thanksgiving. We had a lovely meal at someone else's house, which made me extra thankful, as our dining room is currently decorated with random test patches of colour. We've since picked the colour that we want, just still haven't found the motivation to actually start painting yet...
I have been knitting, though. Now, some of my friends and family know that I have a blog, but I'm pretty sure that none of them actually follow it, so hopefully these posts won't be ruining any surprises. This one is for a lass who I always associate with this colour green, so I couldn't pass up this soft and cosy yarn. I used my pattern found here, casting on 300 stitches for this one (Ravely page here).
My kids had the week off school, so it seemed like the perfect time for our annual forced child labour event: Christmas decoration making. We've got enough homemade decorations to fill the tree now. I liked their button wreaths so much that I had them churn out a few more for me:
It turns out that I have rather a lot of buttons around here, as I had enough left over to make this wee garland:
Not a very Christmas-y staged photo, but the Scrooge of the house hadn't let me put up the Christmas decorations at that point...
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If you're interested in making your own button garland, you'll need:
buttons
sequins (5mm or 8mm)
teeny rocaille (seed) 10/0 beads
fishing line or thread
26 gauge floral wire (optional) - I used the floral wire, so that I can shape the garland if needed.
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1. Cut 3 strands of the floral wire slightly longer than the desired length for the garland, then braid them together loosely, tying off the ends.
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2. Tie a length of the fishing line to the wire braid, then thread on each button / sequin combo tightly as follows: thread the fishing line through a space in the wire braid, then through a button hole, then through the sequin hole, then pass it through the bead and thread it back through the sequin, then thread it through the other button hole and down through the wire braid:
Hopefully this doodle is clear enough for you to work out what on earth I am talking about.
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3. Repeat step 2 until your garland reaches the desired length.
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The sequins really catch the light. nb. Those seed beads are very fiddly, so this probably isn't a project for young 'uns. I think that I'm going to be finding mislaid beads around the house for many months to come...
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Translations of the Day:
UK English: parky = cool, cold, chilly in US English
UK English: nippy = cool, cold, chilly in US English
UK English: Baltic = cold, chilly in US English
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I'm wearing my ski jacket indoors as Scrooge is also controlling the thermostat, so those are the first British words that came to mind...
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As in, although it's pretty mild outside, it's a wee bit parky in here. It's rather nippy first thing and bloomin' Baltic by night....
(sorry about all the gloomy pictures - the weather has been rather murky this week).

'Tis the season #2: Chocolate biscuit gateau

A few of you asked me for this recipe, so here goes: This one was taught to me by a friend when we were teenagers and most of our culinary efforts leaned towards the dessert end of the spectrum. I heard mention that someone successfully sued a company for making them overweight, so I had better add the disclaimer that large quantities of this gateau will most likely add to your waistline...
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Now, hopefully you're remembering that what the English call biscuits are called cookies by the Americans, or this recipe could take an unplanned turn...
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You will need:
8oz / 225g plain chocolate
8oz / 225g butter
1oz / 25g caster sugar
2 beaten eggs
8oz / 225g digestive biscuits
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For those of you saying, 'huh?', today's Translation of the Day:
UK English: Caster sugar = superfine sugar / baker's sugar in US English
UK English: Digestive biscuits, or sweetmeal biscuits are a semi-sweet biscuit. The internet suggests substituting graham crackers - I haven't tried that, but I imagine that would be ok in this recipe, even though they taste different. You can find digestives in the US at import stores like Cost Plus World Market and also at specialty British import stores, though.
Recipe:
Grease a 6" cake tin (with a detachable base).
Break up the digestive biscuits into small pieces and put to the side.
Break up the chocolate and put it in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water to melt.
Melt the butter gently in another pan.
Beat the eggs with the caster sugar, then add the melted butter, pouring it in a steady stream while beating continuously.
Now blend in the melted chocolate.
Folded the biscuit pieces into the chocolate mixture.
Turn the chocolate mixture into the cake tin and chill over night in the fridge.
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To serve, stand the cake tin on a smaller can and push the tin carefully down onto the table, leaving the base with the gateau on the can. Slide the gateau onto a serving plate.
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Done.
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Maya had a post about being brave, which made me feel a little guilty about hiding behind my sunglasses on my blog. So here's a slightly blurry picture from a few weeks back, when I was testing the camera's self-timer. Split ends, no make-up as usual and weird lighting making it look like my nose is uneven, but this is me...
I really should get my hair cut.
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Take care.

'Tis the season #1: Granny in a Flap Hat tutorial

50 days left until Christmas! Time to concentrate on giving, methinks. In the upcoming weeks I plan on sharing some of the things that I'll be giving as gifts this year and I also want to share a few gifts with you, such as a couple of tutorials etc. I won't get all ambitious, as I do have 3 and a half rooms to paint in the upcoming weeks, so keep your expectations low...

First up, do you remember this hat?
I've been meaning to write up the pattern for it since, um, last April. I was noting down the pattern as I was teaching a friend how to crochet it. We worked on it while we were at the park with our kids each week. Then her lad inconsiderately knocked his head badly and was barred from the park for a couple of months. He's fine, but my pattern writing ground to a halt.
With winter rapidly approaching, I thought that it might be time to finish it. So I made another hat. Meanwhile the temperature soared to 100 degrees. In November. Can it really be a coincidence that every time I make this hat we have a heat wave?Sunglasses indoors = cover for the awful dark circles under my eyes. These hats do look less daft when worn with winter clothes...I am a slow crocheter and I can make one of these in an evening, so they are quick work.
To make a child size hat, use smaller hooks as follows: I instead of J, J instead of K, K instead of L). Ravelry link here.
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YOU WILL NEED:
scraps of yarn: worsted or bulky
US size J 10 hook (6.00mm)
US size K 10.5 hook (6.50mm)

US size L 11 hook (8.00mm)
Yarn needle to weave in any loose ends
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ABBREVIATIONS USED (nb. I'm using the American stitch terms):
ch = chain
sc = single crochet
dc = double crochet
cl = cluster

sp = space
yo = yarn over
rep = repeat

join = join with slip stitch
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PATTERN STITCHES:
beg cl = first cluster stitch of a row: ch 2, then, keeping last loop of each dc on hook, 2 dc in sp, yo and draw through all loops on hook to make cluster
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cl = keeping last loop of each dc on hook, 3dc in sp, yo and draw through all loops on hook to make cluster

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THE PATTERN:
Using hook J
Ch 6, join to form ring (I use magic adjustable ring for this)
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Round 1. In ring: beg cl, *ch 3, cl, rep from *5 times, ch 3, join in top beg cl [6 clusters]
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Round 2. In ch 3 sp of previous round: beg cl, ch 3, cl, ch 3, *in next sp cl, ch 3, cl, ch 3, rep from * 5 times, join in top beg cl [12 clusters]
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Round 3. In ch 3 sp: beg cl, ch 3, cl, ch 3, *in next sp cl, ch3; in next sp cl, ch 3; in next sp cl, ch 3, cl, ch 3, rep from * until end of round and join in top beg cl =16 clusters
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Round 4. In ch 3 sp: ch 2, 2 dc, ch 1, *in next sp 3 dc, ch 1, rep from * 15 times
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Change to K hook
Round 5. In ch 1 sp: ch 2, 2 dc, 1 ch, * 3 dc, 1 ch, rep from * 15 times
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Rounds 6 - 8. rep round 5
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Change to L hook
Rounds 9 - 14. rep round 5
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EAR FLAP (worked back and forth in rows):
Row 1: ch 2, 2 dc in sp, ch 1, 3 dc in next sp, ch 1, 3 dc in next sp, turn
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Row 2: ch 3, 3 dc in sp, ch 1, 3 dc in next sp, ch 1, 1 dc in last dc of previous row, turn
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Row 3: ch 3, 3dc in middle sp, ch 1, 1 dc in last dc of previous row
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2nd EAR FLAP:
Join yarn 5 sp along brim from 1st ear flap and make in same way as 1st ear flap
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EDGING:
sc around edge of hat, including along the edges of the ear flaps. When reach tip of ear flaps: ch 2, 2 dc in sp, ch 1, 2 dc in next sp, ch 2 and rejoin edge, continue to sc around rest of hat
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BRAIDS:
Cut 6 1 yard strips of yarn, thread them through the base of the ear flaps and braid together, securing the ends with a knot.
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Repeat on other side. Done.
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Let me know if I've made any mistakes. I haven't been getting enough sleep and it's been a while since I've followed a crochet pattern, so I'm a little rusty on the abbreviations.
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No translation of the day today: it's past my bedtime...