Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Crochet Road Play Mat CAL



It's been nearly a year since I launched my Crochet Road Play Mat CAL (crochet-a-long) and since then I have been amazed by some of the creations that have come alive from you guys!

Launched last year in April 2015, the initial Road Play Mat CAL made up of differently designed crocheted squares, consisted of a few basic patterns to get you started, including road pieces, railway pieces, farm squares including a vegetable patch as well as ponds and trees, even cars and animals! Since then though the Road Play Mat CAL has taken on a life of it's own, and has included additional designs, not only from myself such as a beach complete with boats and little beach huts to a huge roundabout with car parks, but also you wonderful crocheters have gotten your design mojo on and produced some amazing additional pieces such as houses, bridges, complete fairy-tale worlds to even an intricately detailed petrol/gas station!

You guys have inspired me! and you definitely have some amazing patience for detail (^-^)

But it's not over, more additional designs will be coming soon from myself. In the meantime why not check out some of the beautiful creations from the crochet-a-longers themselves, kindly shared from the dedicated HappyBerry Facebook CAL group, which you can find here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/HappyBerryCALs

This beautiful Play Mat was created by the very talented Michelle Eckert, which includes some wonderful additional designs of her own such as the awesome beach design, airport strip, bridge and some clever ideas for various landmarks and houses!

The sheer size is also so impressive. Much love and patience has gone into this mat and I am hugely impressed.





I love this mat by crocheter Marietjie Wagner, who has not only designed some clever house designs and landmarks too, but she has also added a beautiful personalised trim for someone special.

I love the detail and different areas a little ones imagination can lose themselves in, and I especially love her tractor addition! I must design one for you guys too.

Again such patience with a huge mat! There really are some lucky children out there. (^-^)

This mat was crocheted by Bettina Andersen and I love its super symmetrical design.

This mat includes a lot of the original pieces such as the roundabout and the farm fields, and I am so glad she has also added in some of  my loop stitch grass squares!

A beautiful mat with so much texture, and delightfully finished with a neat trim. I also love the different green tones around the roundabout! What a wonderful effect for added interest.
This beautiful mat to your right is the work of Judy Goodchild and I absolutely adore her scarecrow addition! What a lovely idea for her farmer's field, along with what I think is a traffic light too.

I'm glad to see she has also attempted my tricky vegetable patch design and done a great job too! But I have to say I adore the additional playground. Such a cute idea and it works so well.


Kelly Zuercher from KellzBellzCreations is the crocheter behind this next mat, and I love her focus on the railway line, which runs all the way around. A great way to finish a mat, and such patience with that loop stitch trim for long grass, a clever adaption of the loop grass square, which works so well.

Some awesome additional tree designs in this mat too such as her loop stitch tree and palm tree!


And these are just a few of the amazing creations that have been shared. If you would like to have a go yourself then you can check out my free crochet patterns here to get your inspiration flowing: http://www.happyberry.co.uk/free-crochet-patterns/Road-Play-Mat/126/1/

Emma Lennon
Here are a few more amazing mats that have been kindly shared with me for this blog article, crocheted by some amazingly talented crocheters in the group!

Cassondra Lynn Hill











Thank you to everyone who has shared and followed on with this CAL. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have enjoyed designing it. Happy crocheting!

Celeste Thrower
Alice Bryant
Chiara Gianangeli

Laura Milne-Young





Kathie Boatman
Gail Morrison Curley
Melissa Martineau


If you would like more crochet tutorials and patterns to enjoy then please do check out my channels here;

    

Visit my website at: www.happyberry.co.uk

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Lets Get Crafting Magazine - Short Story Winner 2015

Back in June last year I decided to enter a short story competition, mainly for two reasons.
Issue 73 - Lets Get Crafting

Firstly, as some of you may already know, I absolutely love writing stories, and have just released my first mystery novel on Amazon as a paperback and eBook; Revenge in Thailand. But secondly, the competition was for a knit and crochet magazine and I just knew the perfect story I was going to write.

Of course the short story had to be related to knitting or crochet, but I knew I wanted to add a different dimension to what we normally associate with such things. We all have our stereotypes when it comes to knitters and crocheters, and this made me think about how we also have many stereotypes in life in general, and none more so than people of a certain age.

So, in my short sketch I wanted to turn the tables on what we think about old age, crocheting and life in general, not only for fun with some added humour, but also to hopefully make readers look at life and people, that little bit more open-mindedly.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it;

If there was one thing to look forward to this weekend, it was visiting the local yarn store, myself!’ George thought as he finally slumped down in the musty armchair and whipped out the familiar bag of hooks and yarn. It had been yet another uninspiring day full of interruptions, but he still had a few minutes left before Mildred got back.
“Now where was I?” George pondered, examining the almost-finished crochet project in front of him. It had taken him a few months, but finally he was almost there. George snuggled the chunky wool against his cheek and sighed, “I do love a good yarn” he grinned, even more so at the irony.
“21 … 22 … 23 …” George muttered as he whiled away the rare few minutes of peace. He was careful to count his stitches as this project wasn't just any project.
“George! I’m back,” Mildred bellowed from the hallway in her usual brisk voice.
“Uh huh,” George mumbled in response, not wishing to look up. He couldn't let Mildred distract him today, not when he was so close to finishing.
“Have a good day dear?” Mildred chirped from the kitchen.
“Uh huh … 43 … 44 … 45 …”
“You know, it was so busy down at the … ugh! Are you at that darn project again George?” Mildred frowned as she marched into the dated living room. “You really should buy your own hooks as you crochet more than I do! And you know your arthritis isn't helped by all that knitting one pearling one.”
“51 … 52 … 53 … it’s crochet Mildred, not knitting, how many times do I have to tell you? And I've very nearly finished,” George grunted, avoiding Mildred’s scowls and pulling angrily on his ball of yarn.
“Well I know nothing about crochet and what those silly hooks do, you know I prefer my knitting dear.”
“Yes, my wardrobe is testament to that,” George whispered under his breath, “… 58 … 59 … 60.”
“What are you making anyway? You've been at that for months. I bet it’s something rather silly.”
“67 … 68 … 69 …”
“Well, whatever it is, you must have time for a nice cup of tea. I bought some delightful tea at the market, which I don’t believe we've tried before and you’ll never guess who I bumped into?”
“78 … 79 … 80 …”
“I was only thinking about Alfred and Joan as I was perusing some beautiful carnations, which I think will look lovely in that vase you never use, and there they were at the market.”
“95 … 96 … 97 …”
“I simply can’t wait until they come for afternoon tea with you this Sunday George. They said they are looking forward to seeing you as you hadn't been answering the phone lately? Why don’t you ever answer the phone George? You know, people will think you don’t like them.”
“102 … 103 … 104 … I’m a busy man Mildred, I don’t have time for …” George was interrupted by the cackle of Mildred’s laugh, “You busy? George, you haven’t been busy for years! You should enjoy the luxury of retirement and the peace it brings.”
“Peace you say?” George flinched, finally looking up to stare at Mildred’s middle-aged face. ‘What did she know about peace and quiet,’ he thought, but not wishing to get into yet another argument with the annoying woman, he went back to his crocheting.
“I say, you are a grumpy one George. How about a nice game of scrabble? Now, where did I put the scrabble board?” Mildred mused as she finally went to put the kettle on.
George picked up speed, ignoring the aching in his twisted fingers. ‘Not much yarn left, but I only have a few more rows to do and I’m done … come on yarn … come on yarn,’ George worried to himself, not wishing to have to persuade Mildred to go buy him yet more yarn.
“You know, I got you a few treats George from the market that I know you like, which should cheer you up. How about a nice slice of Madeira cake, how does that sound?” Mildred shouted in his ear, putting the wobbly tray of tea down in front of him and knocking his yarn under the chair.
“122 … 123 … 124,” George grunted, raising his voice to remind Mildred he was busy and not deaf.
“I spoke to the lovely Phyllis earlier in reception, you know she worries about you too George, hiding away in this room and not joining in with the social groups. Such a lovely lady is Phyllis, always there for a good old chat. She was telling me about her mother who is joining us soon. She’s a bit jittery on her old knees apparently but it will be nice to have some new company won’t it George?”
“134 … 135 … 136 …”
“Maybe she can persuade you to join the bingo class on Fridays; you know you’re quite the catch in this place George being the youngest here at 79.”
“142 … 143 … 144 …”
“Don’t forget your tea dear, it will get cold,” Mildred frowned as she sipped hers.
“148 … 149 …”
“What are you making George? It’s huge and doesn't look very practical,” Mildred frowned.
“150 … and done!” George exclaimed. “I think you’ll find Mildred, that this project is extremely practical.”
And knocking his tea aside, George flung himself into action, throwing the finally finished crocheted ladder out the window.
“Free at last,” George grinned, and not waiting for a response from the stunned Mildred, he scaled the few stories down to the lawn and sprinted away from the dreary old-folks home.
George knew that crocheting wasn't just for girls, ‘it was for adventurous old fogeys like me too,’ he giggled, and off he ran.

The End

"I loved this entry because I had no idea there would be such a great twist at the end. It really made me laugh out loud when George escapes. At the beginning we share Mildred's concern for George, who seems to be cutting himself off from people and becoming rather obsessed with a crochet project. The ultimate irony, when Mildred objects to it not being very practical, is a lovely twist - as George leaves the tedium and irritation of the old people's home behind and escapes down his ladder. Hurrah!" 
Mary Ellingham, Publicity Manager at Search Press Publishers

If you would like to know more about my writings and musings then please pop by my Facebook page dedicated to my novels and short stories here: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLauraEccleston

Or why not check out one of the brilliant runner up stories here by another Laura!
The Moody Teenager by Laura West