Sunday, 30 August 2015

My Crochet Diary - Two

So I am still working at learning to crochet, and here is my first completed crochet project. Isn't he cute. I saw an appeal on Linda's Crafty corner for knitted/crochet bear puppets for a charity record attempt. Linda has also really helpfully published a Bear Crochet Pattern. What was reassuring was having read through it I thought I could understand the pattern. The only thing I slightly altered was making him a little circle for a muzzle. He also has a little bit of wadding in his head and muzzle. I must find out where to send him to for the record attempt in September.

I am still making a few mistakes, but I am learning as I go. The first major mistake with teddy, is that once again I have put my crochet hook under one strand, not two. (Thank you CreativeJewishMom for explaining this to me.) The book I am working from only illustrates the first row, and doesn't explain that further on you insert the needles under both strands. 

Thank you everyone who gave me tips and advice and encouragement after my last Crochet Diary post. I have found that Youtube videos are really helpful, although the UK/USA difference in stitch names is a bit annoying. The main thing you can really learn from a video is how to hold the thread and hook (another thing I have been getting wrong and doing much more like a knitter).

The other things I am finding hard is how to count how many rows I have done, and how many stitches I have. How many extra chains to make at the end of each row, and how many stitches in to start.  I can see if you get this wrong your work could start shrinking or expanding. So turning at the end of the row is always a bit scary.

My target is to eventually make a granny square blanket, or perhaps even a single granny square would be a good start. But for now I am looking at little crochet projects to learn a few more skills. More advice would be very welcome!

Friday, 28 August 2015

Sea Urchin

I only occasionally knit to order, but someone contacted me through Etsy to ask if my sea urchin pattern would knit up smaller. They wanted a sea urchin that would be 3 inches across to go on a mobile. I was not sure, the only way to find out seemed to be to try to make one. So this is my sea urchin knitted on smaller needles, with a rather strange, but I thought sea urchiny wool that I found in my stash. 

The size turned out exactly right, and I also found one tiny typo in my pattern. How does that happen? I test knit again and again, but I think sometimes the eye just sees what it wants. But anyway, I was also pleased that I could put that right as well. And the sea urchin is already with its new owner in the States.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

My Crochet Diary

I usually see my summer holiday as a great opportunity for, yes you've guessed it, knitting. But this year the special holiday request from hubby was "no knitting". I guess a vacation is meant to be a break from the norm, so was I cheating when I agreed to the no knitting, but decided to use this time to try my long talked about ambition to teach myself to crochet.

So I rather proudly present my first ever piece of crochet. Now I think I may be feeling a bit like the kids in my knitting club when they have completed their first bit of knitting. I am going to try and do a series of posts on my attempts to learn to crochet, so you might want to follow my progress.

I would really appreciate any advice from experienced crochetters (is that even a word). Easy patterns, or books that I can understand would be useful. These are the only books I have. The two books are both fairly old - I think my mum gave them to me. I look at the amazing variety of stitches, but I think I need a much more basic book with some practical projects, as these are just a bit overwhelming.

So I started by borrowing my daughter's Cath Kidson's kit. It's aimed at kids, so surely it can't be too hard, I thought, but soon realised that the instructions to make a granny square cushion were way beyond me. So thinking of how I teach knitters, I decided to just make a square, and think I have learned the doublechain and treblechain. Although even that is a bit confusing, as there seems to be a half treble chain, double treble and treble treble!!! After a bit I did find it quite relaxing, and got into a bit of a rhythm. There are a few mistakes, and the things I found difficult is to judge where to put the hook in, and also turning at the edge of each row. (In knitting it is really obvious if you have gone wrong as you can just do a stitch count.) I got a bit fancy at the end and had a go at a scallop edge, which I think would have worked if I had had a longer edge and could have kept going. 

What I think I am doing wrong is that I am thinking like a knitter, so I felt fairly happy to crochet with rows going back and forth. But I want to make some of those cute amigurumi that I see, and for that I think I need to go in a circle. The other thing I find confusing are the patterns I have seen that are diagrams. Beautiful series of squiggles and shapes, but no idea at all how I would follow one.

This was my only attempt at a little circle. I was just going in each stitch twice. Seemed to work, and I think I have made a little hat.

I just can't decide who it looks best on ....

That is all for now ... but there will be another crochet post soon. As I said I would really welcome any pointers to easy patterns or books that have some very easy projects to try.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Friends Forever

What should you do when your really good friend over the last year is going back home to California? 

The answer is to get your Mum to make you and her as little dolls, so you can go with her.  

My daughter stitched the little bag, where both the dolls can live together. By now the little dolls are in California. 

I tried to be fairly accurate with their school uniforms and hair styles, as girls can wear either skirts or trousers at their school. Both girls are much prettier than they turned out. I don't know what it is with my dolls and fairies, but they always end of a little frumpy. I do love little one-off projects like this. The basic dolls are my fairy/mermaid pattern, with a few adaptions. It was so nice to knit the dolls and clothes and not worry about writing down what I have done.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Australian Animals

I can now release my mini Australian animals pattern. The pattern has been published in Australia in Homespun, which you can read about here. After a bit of negotiating Homespun have kindly let the copyright return to me. I have been waiting for my little animals to return, mainly because I needed to take my own photos for the pattern. Kind of chuffed that my little creatures have actually done the journey to Australia and back. (Because of some trouble with customs charges they have actually been there and back three times, which is why hubby refers to them as the jet set.)

These animals are really tiny. So I recommend the pattern only for those that are fans of the fiddly and little. There is quite a bit of sewing up in the attachment of legs, ears and beaks. 

The pattern contains instructions for all four mini creatures. Homespun presented them as mini pendants, though I think they are also cute as little toys.  

This Blue Kookaburra was my first try. He is native to Northern Australia and New Guinea. Homespun decided to go with the traditional brown Laughing Kookaburra, which is the one most people have heard of, though I think visually I prefer my distinctive blue one.

The wombat was the design that I worried about most. I was not sure than I could make him distinctively wombatty enough. I even toyed with the idea of replacing him with a crocodile. But in the end he turned out just fine.

Kangaroo and Koala just flew off my needles. It would have been nice to have given Kangaroo a pouch and a joey, but given the size this just wasn't possible. So I have just googled "Do male kangaroos have pouches?" and found out they do not. So I guess I can say that he is a boy.
I enjoyed the challenge of making these little creatures so much that I am currently working on another set from a completely different part of the world.

The pattern, which contains instructions for all four, is available on ravelry, Craftsy, Love Knitting and Etsy.  

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Baby Shower Card

I found the idea for this baby shower card on Pinterest. It was a lovely way for all the staff at school to contribute to a baby shower card. We all decorated a garment, and wrote a personal message on the back. Aren't the miniature pegs cute?

The clothes that I couldn't fit on the washing line, went in a laundry basket inside the card.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Wrap Over Felt Shoe

Using varicolour wool gives an interesting look

 I have been sewing some felt baby shoes. 

I love this thick felt, although 3mm thick was just about on the limit of what my sewing machine can handle.

I made the first pair as part of the process of designing my wrap over baby shoe knitting pattern. This is not the way I normally work when knitting. Usually I have an idea in my head, and just sort of go for it, adapting and altering as I go along. But for the wrap around on the knitted shoes to work, I knew the shape had to be precise. The best way to get this right was to make a pair, first out of paper and then out of felt.

This green pair was my first go, and they are completely stitched by hand. The button is just sewn on through all the felt layers without a buttonhole, as I was just checking the shape. But they turned out so cute, I thought I would have a go at making a few more. 

To make these a bit more hardwearing and practical I have machine sewn the seam, and just oversewn around the edges by hand with wool. The buttons are functional, and really useful when putting them on a baby's feet. On some I have handsewn around the buttonholes, though explain on the pattern how you could machine sew them if you have this available on your sewing machine.
The pattern for these shoes is available to download on Craftsy and Etsy. It comes in two sizes - 0-3 months and 3-6 months. It is very good value (that is to say cheap). The little shoes are very easy to make, and I think the wrap around makes them quite different to other felt shoes I have seen. It would be really fun to customise them with a bit of embroidery, but for the photos I wanted the shape of the wrap around to stand out. I suggest you use the best quality felt you can find. 

If you don't have a baby to make some for, I think with a ribbon attached they could make a really nice Christmas decoration, perhaps with some sweets popped inside. I know I shouldn't even be talking about Christmas at this time of year, but I may have a go at giving some of them the Christmas makeover.

I am sure than there must be software that is useful for creating sewing patterns (I would really welcome any advice with this), but the only way that I know is to very carefully draw the pattern pieces by hand, and then scan them on my printer. So this pattern has the same rustic charm as these little shoes. 

As you can see, I just can't stop making them.

If buttonholes are really not your thing you could us a little velcro.