Wednesday, 12 June 2013

{Crochet Tutorial} Ripple Blanket


I recently posted this photo on my Zoey Makes facebook page. (in case you didn’t know, Zoey Makes is my little handmade business, where I sell some of the handmade goodies that I make.) Anyway, I had a lot of positive feedback about this lovely textured blanket, and a lot of interest in a tutorial. So here I am, about to embark on my first attempt at a crochet tutorial. Including a video. Eek!! Wish me luck!

The ripple blanket is not a new thing, and it’s not an original thing. Your grandma probably has a pattern for one floating around, and there are a bazillion of them online, too. I had done a lot of reading of various freebies, tried out a few… they all work with basically the same idea, just different lengths and numbers of stitches. After experimenting I came up with this particular variation, which I think creates a good length ripple and a nice texture.

For this project you’re going to need a 5mm crochet hook. I’m using the Carnival Soft Acrylic 8ply from Big W. It’s lovely and soft, and a good price. I live in a town with very few options for yarn, but if you can access a nicer yarn than this, go for it! I’m using five colours, and with one ball of each colour, I’m probably about a third of a way through my blanket. I would guestimate that 3 balls of yarn for each colour is about what you’ll need.

If you are crocheter who knows what they’re doing, I’m gonna give you the pattern straight. I know that I sometimes get frustrated when I find a website with a great pattern and have to sift through pages of explanations and photos to find the actual guts of it. If you just want to see the pattern, without the step-by-step how-to, scroll to the bottom now!

This pattern requires for you to really only know one stitch: the double crochet. The internet is a wonderful place to learn how to crochet; in it’s mainly how I learned! Once you find a pattern you like, jump on to youtube and look up the stitches you need.. there are loads of fantastic tutorials. I am going to recommend that you watch this video if you don’t know how to do a double crochet. Have a practice while you watch until you get the hang of it. That video is exactly how we’re going to start off this project.

In the above video, she chained 15 stitches to begin with. For our ripple blanket, you’re going to need to chain 146. This will make your blanket around 90cm wide. Then you need to miss two of your chains, and double crochet (dc) into the third chain, just like she did in the video. You need to do this six more times, so all up you’ll have 7dc, and the 2 chains you skipped will form an 8th. Into the next chain, you need to work 3dc, all into the same stitch. This is how you increase, and it will create the peak of your ripple. Then, you double crochet into each of the next 6 chains.

The next step is a little tricky, which is why I’m making a video. So if this doesn’t make sense in written form, hopefully the video will help you! You are going to double crochet three stitches together (of which the fabulous abbreviation is dc3tog), which means that you will have 3 dc but with only one top! Confused? Sorry! What you need to do is the first part of a double crochet: put your yarn over the hook, hook through the next chain, and pull up a new loop. Pull your new loop through the first two loops on your hook (just like usual). Then, instead of pulling it through your remaining two loops, leave them there. You’re going to repeat this first step of a double crochet again. Put your yarn over the hook, hook through the next chain, and pull up a new loop. Pull your new loop through the first two loops on your hook. Now you should have 3 loops remaining on your hook. Do this one more time, into the next chain, and you will have 4 loops left on your hook. Now, pull your yarn through all four of the loops on your hook to finish the stitch off. Phew!  You’ve just made your first valley! 

Now you need to double crochet into the next six chains, then work 3dc into the next chain. Keep repeating this pattern (6dc, dc3 in next chain, 6dc, dc3tog). Do this all the way to the end. You’ll have two stitches left over after your last 6dc. You need to double crochet those two stitches together. This is worked in exactly the same way as a dc3tog, except you only need to do it two times: put your yarn over the hook, hook through the next chain, and pull up a new loop. Pull your new loop through the first two loops on your hook (just like usual). Then, instead of pulling it through your remaining two loops, leave them there. You’re going to repeat this first step of a double crochet again. Put your yarn over the hook, hook through the next chain, and pull up a new loop. Pull your new loop through the first two loops on your hook. Now you should have 3 loops remaining on your hook. Pull your yarn through all three of those loops to finish the stitch off. Finally, chain 2 to finish the row off, and turn, ready to start your new row!

It might look a bit wonky at the moment, but doing your next row will help to neaten things up. To start the new row, skip the stitch that your ch2 is coming out of, and work a double crochet into the next stitch. **Now work dc into the next 6 stitches, then work your 3dc peak into the next. If you look at your previous row, you will notice that you are working these 3dc into the middle stitch of your previous 3dc peak. Work a dc into each of the next 6 stitches, and then work your dc3tog over the next three stitches. Repeat this sequence from the **. Again, you will have two stitches left at the end for you to work a dc2tog. Chain two to finish the row off, and turn ready to start your next row.

That’s it! You just keep repeating that second row over and over until your blanket is at your desired length.

I like to do two rows in each colour, then change. When I change colours, I work my stitches into the back loops of the previous row (I explain this in the video). This gives it a really cool layered texture, and makes the ripple look really effective. I also explain how I change colours in the video.

And…. here it is: my first ever video tutorial (eeek!!). Near the end we had a massive roll of thunder, and Mayana comes out a bit scared… I don’t have the skills/time to edit, so sorry about that!

My video tutorial!

I really hope that you find that helpful, please comment if you need clarification on anything! When I’m finished my blanket and decide if/how I’m going to edge this thing I will post an update with a tutorial for that too.

Now for people who were just after the pattern: here it is!

The Pattern!

5.00mm crochet hook, 5 colours, three balls of each. I am using US crochet terms.

This pattern yields a blanket of just under 90cm in width, and you can repeat the pattern until it is your required length. Basically your initial chain needs to be a multiple of 16, plus two stitches extra. If you want your blanket smaller or longer, adjust your initial chain accordingly.

Special Stitches:
Double crochet three together dc3tog: Yarn over, hook through stitch, pull up a loop, pull through two loops (2 remain on hook). Yarn over, hook through next stitch, pull up a loop, pull through two loops (3 remain on hook). Yarn over, hook through third stitch, pull up a loop, pull through two loops, then through 4 remaining loops.

Double crochet two together dc2tog: yarn over, hook through stitch, pull up a loop, pull through two loops (2 remain on hook). Yarn over, hook through next stitch, pull up a loop, pull through two loops, then through 3 remaining loops.

Row One:
ch 146. Skip first 2 chains, dc into 3rd chain. *Dc into next 6 chains. Work 3dc in next ch. Dc in next 6 chains. Dc3tog over next 3 chains. Repeat from * to end, working dc2tog in final two chains. Ch2, turn.

Row Two:
Skip first stitch (where the 2ch comes from), dc in next 7 stitches. Work 3dc in next stitch (this will be the middle of your dc cluster from the previous row, and will form the peak of your ripple). *Dc in next 6 stitches. Dc3tog over the next three stitches (the second of these three stitches will be the top of your dc3tog from the previous row, and forms the concave of your ripple). Dc in next 6 stitches, work 3dc in next stitch. Repeat from * to end, working dc2tog in final two stitches. Ch 2, turn.

Repeat row two until your blanket is at desired length! I do two rows in each colour, then change. In the rows where I introduce a new colour, I work into the back loops only. This gives a layered texture, and is definitely my preferred ripple style. The second row of each colour I work into both loops.

Now, I’m not finished my blanket yet so I haven’t gotten to the part where I edge it.. in fact I haven’t even decided how I want to do it yet! I have found this great tutorial on pinterest through, and it is probably something I’d like to try.. I will be back to update this post once my blanket is done!

I would really appreciate any feedback on this pattern/tutorial. It’s my first attempt at anything like it, and if I’ve made any mistakes or caused any confusion, please let me know! And if it’s brilliant and you learn something from it I’d like to hear that too… ha!

Thank you!

Thursday, 6 June 2013

How do you do meals?


eat together

In our home, mealtimes are a really important part of our family time. For breakfast and dinner, the four of us sit down together every single day, and eat as a family. We say grace, (even Reuben holds hands with us, bangs our hands up and down as we say the familiar words, and pronounces ‘A-men!’ at the end), and interact together as we eat our meals. The children eat what we eat and when we eat. At lunch, I sit down to share a meal with the kids too. It’s just what we do.

Growing up, my family did the same. I maybe didn’t value it in the same way when I was in highschool, being woken up at 5.30am so that we would have time to get ready for school, have family breakfast at 6.30am and be out the door and off to the bus at around 7am. We would hold hands and say grace, and have a family devotion when we finished eating. Family dinners always happened around the table, with the TV off. They still do, at my family’s house. Dinner around the Buma Table is a Thing now, and so many of our friends love to be a part of it. My family eats great food, and has great conversation that almost always ends up littered with raucous laughter and borderline inappropriate jokes. But it’s so much fun.

When Pete and I first got married (and both moved out of home for the first time), we did get into a habit of eating our breakfast and dinner on the couch together, while watching TV. When I became pregnant with Mayana, we talked about it and made the decision that this was a habit we had to break when she arrived. And it was such a natural thing to do once she was born. Even when she was a tiny baby we would have her in her lay-back highchair up at the table with us, and as soon as she was eating proper foods she would join us properly at meal times. We have very rarely had the television on during mealtimes since, and we never watch TV in the mornings anymore.

I remember being on a teaching practicum once and talking to the kids about healthy eating habits. We talked about where we eat dinner, and I was genuinely shocked at the number of kids who proclaimed to never eat dinner at the table. Literally more than half the kids (who were around 8-9 years old) always ate dinner from their laps or the floor in front of the TV. Admittedly, we do that on occasion, as a special treat if we are having a family movie night or something, but I know it will never, ever be a normal thing in our household. On one level this could just be out of pure selfishness, because I really do value the concentrated quality time our family gets to experience when we sit down together to share a meal. There are no distractions (other than our food I suppose) and we get to talk, catch up or plan our days, share stories, and enjoy each other’s company. But on another level I really do think that it promotes lots of positive habits and healthier choices to our kids.


I can reflect on this as a person who experienced family mealtimes throughout my growing up years, and also as a mother who also provides the same experience to her own children. Eating together as a family provides an opportunity every day (for us twice a day) for concentrated conversation, where attention is divided only between the people who are at the table together. It’s bonding-time at its best, and most definitely promotes family unity.

There are simple things, too, like table manners. Something that I think is disappearing a little from general society. And if my prac class’s mealtime habits are any kind of indication, it kind of makes sense for people to not have table manners when they’re not eating at a table! Dinner around the table is where we learned the little things like to not chew with your mouth open, and not to have your elbows on the table (I still don’t really get that one, although I have been known to say it to Mayana!!), not to interrupt people mid-conversation (although my family is a terrible example of this… we talk over the top of each other all. the. time, it’s just how we roll!). Mayana has learned already how to properly set the table, with the knife to the right of the plate and the fork to the left, and she also helps to clear the table and tidy up after the meal.

When I was searching for the image at the top of this post, I keyed into Google “families that eat together stay together” and dozens of articles appeared, full of research and quotes and statistics attesting to the truth of the statement. Plus, eating together, talking together, laughing together… it’s FUN!

A few weeks ago, my family celebrated the 50th birthday of my dad and the 21st birthday of my sister. Many of their individual friends and our family friends who jumped up to the microphone to honour them with speeches spoke about our family, our togetherness and hospitality, the way we welcome anyone in not just as a guest but to become part of our family. And pretty much everyone who spoke of these things referenced the way we have dinner together, because most of them have at some point (or maaaaannny times) shared a crazy meal around our table. I LOVED that. It made me so proud, and so much more determined to embed that tradition into our children, and make it a key element of the way that my own little family works, too. I have some great role models in my parents on how to make a family great, and I know that this is one simple thing that can have a huge impact on my family, and our togetherness.

Are mealtimes important in your family? Do you eat around the table often or just for special occasions? Maybe you could challenge yourself to make a point of eating together every night for a week, and see what effect it has on your family dynamic.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

The Ballet {a mama-daughter date}

As you may know, I might be struggling a little with the fact that my little 5lbs2oz bundle of joy is suddenly big enough to be off to ‘big school’ next year…. Blows my mind every time I think about it.

But anyway. I think about this a lot. And think about how short the time of having the opportunity for my kids to be at home with me really is. I am making a much more deliberate effort to enjoy my time with them; making a point of having quality time, playing, laughing, singing, taking them places. Especially my Maysi, because this season is escaping from us so quickly, and I intend to invest a lot of time and loving into her over the next 8 months.

Last night we had our very first Mama-daughter date night. Peter had found out that QPAC (the Qld Performing Arts Centre) had partnered up with a number of regional councils (including ours) for initiative where they live-simulcast certain events to the public for FREE! This year’s even was to be the Bolshoi Ballet and I jumped at the opportunity to take Mayana to something so wonderful.

So after our zumba classes yesterday evening, Mayana and I shoveled down some dinner, dressed ourselves in some warm clothes and gathered an armful of blankets and a chair, and headed off to our simulcast location.


Generally these are held in theatres, but our local theatre had a sold-out concert on last night, so they had to choose a different space, and it ended up being held outdoors, on a large oval by the sea. It was wonderful.


We snuggled into our blankets and kept each other warm, and thoroughly enjoyed the  music and the dancing and the whole experience. Mayana was enthralled, and kept asking me questions about the storyline. Thankfully they had given us a program on arrival and I was able to describe in detail what was going on. She would whisper to me, “Mama! Look how fast they are spinning!” or “look how the can jump and spin at the same time…. do you think I could do that? Can I try real quick?”


We didn’t quite make it to the end of the show… it goes for over 3 hours, and I had to pull the pin on the fun at about 9.45pm… I didn’t know how I would go on the 30minute drive home if we stayed right until the 11pm ending!

On the way home I told her the end of the story and we talked about how these ballerinas were full time dancers, and how they probably started dancing when they were little kids and danced and practiced every single day! Mayana concluded that she only would like to dance for fun, and not be a proper ballerina, but that she sure loved watching them!

I felt like this was such a great initiative, and a fabulous opportunity to give my girl a bit of culture that was light on the hip-pocket, and not something that she can often be exposed to in our little regional town. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for the next event like this.. and one day, hopefully, I will be able to take her to the real theatre and we’ll see it all in real life!

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Let them eat {sugar free} cake!

The Friend family has a new favourite cake recipe.

Last weekend we had a few nights away with a group of friends, up in the mountains where we did not much more than watch kids play, eat food, chat, enjoy the scenery, eat food, and did I mention eat food? Our group of friends are certified foodies, and the best kinds of people to go away with.


One of these said friends is the (very proud) owner of a thermomix, and the rest of us were quite enthralled and curious about this amazing machine. I think what sold us all was when she made this absolutely AMAZING chocolate cake in it, and then told us that the main ingredient was KIDNEY BEANS!! Say what??!

Okay, so a kidney bean cake sounds pretty gross, right? The thing is, you would never guess that this cake contained such a thing. It is light, moist, rich… it tastes like a seriously decadent chocolate cake, and the kids never knew that each slice was another serve of veggies!

Of course, I had to figure out how to make this at home – sans thermomix. It’s a great, versatile cake: gluten free, grain free, and the way I make it.. sugar free! You could easily make it dairy free too, but personally I’m a big fan of butter so it’s staying. I found the thermomix recipe here, and set about adapting it to my food processor. We’ve made it twice this week, and it was a huge hit with both lots of people we shared it with. Here’s how I make this amazing chocolate cake:


  • 420 g kidney beans, canned drained
  • 1 tablespoon water or coffee (so far I’ve just used water, but can imagine that using coffee would give it an even greater richness)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 70 g unsweetened cocoa powder (or you could use cacao if you were so inclined)
  • 1 teaspoon GF baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 125 g butter, softened (if you wanted dairy free you could try with coconut oil or nutalex)
  • 5 eggs
  • 120g dextrose (or your preferred sweetener. The original recipe says 180g sugar. I found that much dextrose was too sweet for me personally)


  • Preheat the oven to 180d. Grease a cake tin. I’ve made this both in a rectangular slice tin, and in a round cake tin.. worked great both times. Also, I’ve been greasing my cake tins with coconut oil and it’s brilliant… haven’t had any problems with things sticking since I’ve been using it.
  • put the kidney beans, water/coffee, vanilla and one of the eggs into the food processor, and blitz on high until it is smooth.
  • Transfer the kidney bean mixture into another bowl and set aside. (I do the rest of the steps in my food processor too since I already have it dirty. I’m lazy like that. You could do it in a mixmaster though if you preferred. And if you don’t have a food processor, you could use a stick-blender to do the first step, and do the rest with electric beaters/mixmaster/by hand.)
  • Cream the butter and dextrose, then add the remaining four eggs one at a time, beating until smooth.
  • Add the vanilla extract, cocoa powder, baking powder, bi-carb and salt, and mix until well blended.
  • Reintroduce the kidney beans, and blend until it is all incorporated, and smooth.
  • Taste this delicious chocolate cake mix. Seriously. I’m not usually one who enjoys eating cake batter but man this is yum!!
  • Pour into a tin, pop in the oven and bake! I’d start with 30 minutes. This was the perfect amount of time when I made the cake in the slice tin. I had to give it an extra 5 minutes in the round tin. You know the drill, a skewer will come out clean, and the the outside has started to pull away from the tin when it’s done.

How great does it smell!!? Okay. Now when we were away last weekend we ate the cake just like that. Actually some of us smothered it in cream. Some of us were a bit cream obsessed. It is a moist cake and doesn’t need something on top of it. It is really nice though if you have it warm with cream… very puddingy.

However, both times I made this cake this week, it was for a birthday. And as far as I’m concerned, birthday cakes need frou frou. Sugar-free icing is an interesting adventure, that’s for sure!

The first cake was for my sister’s dog’s birthday. Oh Lordy, I am SO not the kind of person to make a birthday cake for a dog, but my daughter LOVES this dog, and was insistent on making a big deal of his birthday, so we did it. This is was Dusty’s birthday cake: (which I let Mayana go to town on with cake decorating pens)


For Reuben’s birthday cake I made the icing with cream cheese, butter, lemon juice, and dextrose as the substitute for icing sugar. It worked quite well, so I decided to give dextrose a go as an icing sugar substitute for chocolate icing. I beat together butter, dextrose and cocoa, and then added boiling water until it was a good consistency. This icing was super-dooper rich, especially in conjunction with this very rich cake. Pete and I found it very sweet, and even Mayana couldn’t eat her whole piece of cake. It was yummy, and it worked, but it was just too much for those of us who have given up sugar. Back to the drawing board.

I remembered ages ago (well before quitting sugar) coming across this recipe and bookmarking it on my iPhone. This recipe isn’t sugar free, but again, easily adapted. The icing that it makes is light, fluffy and understated in sweetness. It’s the perfect fluffy topping to just add that lovely bit of moisture to the cake without taking away (or adding too much to) the delightful richness of the cake. Here was cake number two, a birthday cake for one of Mayana’s little friends:


Ugh. Please excuse the terrible low-light iPhone photography on both of those photos. Both cakes looked far more appetising in real life!

The only downside to this icing is that it is not gluten free. This really isn’t an issue to us, but it might be to you. It would definitely be worth trying with gluten-free flour, but just a disclaimer that I haven’t tried it that way, so can’t guarantee that it will work the same!
Okay, so here is the magical, sugar free version of this fluffy, yummy icing:


  • 3 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup real butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup dextrose (the original recipe uses sugar, of course, and I just want to highlight that if you are using sugar, use normal, granulated sugar NOT icing sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or other flavour if you wish. I would definitely like to try a chocolate version of this icing.


  • Whisk together the flour and milk in a saucepan and cook over low-medium heat. This icing starts off as a kind of white sauce. Weird, I know. Keep stirring until it turns into a thick, gluey consistency. You’re cooking it off a bit to help get rid of that floury taste once it become icing. When it becomes almost playdoughy, it’s ready to come off the heat.
  • Put your playdough mixture in a container in the fridge or freezer. You want it to go completely cold… no heat left in it at all. I recommend to do step one of the recipe as soon as your cake comes out of the oven.. by the time your cake is cooled enough to ice, your goop should be cool enough to use.
  • In a mixmaster (or with electric beaters – I wouldn’t personally like to do this by hand, but like I said, I’m a bit lazy like that), cream the butter and dextrose until light and fluffy. Add your vanilla or alternative flavouring, and a colour if you’re so inclined (our birthday girl wanted purple)
  • Plop in your cooled playdough mixture, and continue beating. I did this on quite a high speed on my mixmaster, and with the whisk attachment. I don’t think it would work quite so well with the paddle attachment.
  • Just keep beating. It goes really weird and gross at first and you’ll be wondering what on earth I’m going on about. But just keep going, and eventually it will all incorporate and all of a sudden turn into a glorious, fluffy icing, which looks a bit like whipped cream.

That’s it! Spread it on your cake, or piping with it works quite well too.

So far, this is the best luck I’ve had with sugar-free icing. Even if you were eating sugar, this is a great low-sugar alternative to normal icing. It obviously doesn’t set to any kind of hardness, so just be aware of that if you’re transporting your cake somewhere.

So there you have it: An absolutely delicious, fibre and protein packed chocolate cake, topped with a delicious sugar free icing! Pretty much a guilt-free cake! What’s not to love about that??

If you make this cake, I’d love to have your feedback. Have you tried adapting any of your favourite recipes to suit your dietary needs?


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