Friday, December 31, 2010

One whole year of work

This photo was taken before all of these were wrapped and sent out to their new homes. Hopefully they have all been received by now so I won't be spoiling any surprises for my friends and family who visit here.

Setting it all out like this really brought home to me just how much I've achieved craftwise this year. I'm really proud of all these projects and hopeful that I've managed to make items that will appeal to their intended recipients.

Below is a mosaic of some of my particular favourites and I've also looked out all the links for the freely available projects that I made.

Simple booties with little flowers by Me!
Green bag lady bags
Manta ray by Brigitte Read
Bumble bee by kristieskids
Sheep by kristieskids (scroll down)
Kokeshi dolls by Suncatcher eyes
Crocheted owls by Brigitte Read
Tiny whale by Planet June
Mouse by kristieskids (scroll down)
Toddler handbag by Me!
Toad by Brigitte Read
Branching leaves scarf by Olenka
Mini Totoro by Natalie Aldhouse (Ravelry download)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Christmas!

Thanks to everyone who has visited me here this year, I hope you all have a lovely Christmas and get lots of crafty presents from Santa. Happy Christmas - ho ho ho!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Friday magazine reviews

"Sew Hip" issue 23
December 2010

This Christmasy issue of Sew Hip has quite a few projects that I like from some pretty dresses to a handful of lovely quick and fun Christmas projects. My favourite was the mini Christmas tree bunting which was simply little triangles of fabric quickly sewn together on a machine and joined together with line of stitches. After showing my issue to a friend she had a go at making some for my Christmas present so hopefully I'll be able to show you how that turned out soon.

I've also had a go at making something from this issue, the very pretty felt baubles that you can see on the cover. I added some sparkily sequins to my baubles so that they would reflect the lights on the tree and I'm very happy with how they have turned out. My only problem in making them was trying to cut the pattern sheet out of the magazine which was very tricky.

As well as some pretty patterns this magazine also had some good articles including one about a blogger who is trying to learn a new craft every week for a year. What a fantastic idea - if a little exhausting! Christine's blog is a very inspirational place to visit so why not have a look for yourself?

"Sew Hip" issue 24
January 2011

Strangely the contents of this issue didn't come as much of a surprise to me... remember that I won their Etsy competition last month? Well they reused a copy of their magazine layout as the address label for the parcel and I got a quick preview of what this issue would contain that way!

Not as much in this issue that I was keen on, I did love the little simple dress on the cover and the patchwork panda was very cute too. I also enjoyed reading the article about the work of Heidi Kenney who does such beautiful softies and has such a distinctive style to her work.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Card making

Since becoming a full time mum I've had the chance to join a few new crafty groups and meet some of the fantastic crafters who live in my local area.

Recently I started a card making course and though I'm not that keen on papercrafts I've really been enjoying myself each week learning a number of different card making techniques as well as getting some time to have a quiet cup of tea with some other like minded mums.

Due to the run up to Christmas a lot of the card designs we have been doing are Christmas themed (which means I've made plenty of cards to send out to family) happily though the course will be continuing into the new year so I'll be able to show you a number of other cards and perhaps even do a few posts here with brief notes on how to make them yourselves if you are interested.

Pictured above are cards that use embossing stamps and powder, Iris folding, decoupage as well as the very popular just sticking stuff down method.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Loving felt

What do you do when you suddenly realise you are missing an extra little something to go with a friend's present? Well I have a play with my scraps of felt and so far it has never let me down.

For this little elephant I had an idea of what I wanted to make and then for added inspiration I did a quick google image search for 'felt elephant' and I fell in love with this beautiful little elephant by Art Flow.

This elephant is the result of that inspiration and few hours quietly crafting - yup, I just love felt!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The light at the end of the tunnel

I've been buried under a large pile of UFOs over the last month which is why I've been posting less frequently. However with the time I've not been blogging here I have been getting most of my Christmas crafting finished, and just in time too!

These stripey mens hats are all finished and ready to be wrapped as presents for some of my lovely male friends. The pattern is similar to the ' Boy Beanie' pattern from the "Happy Hooker" however I had to adjust it somewhat to take into account that I was using DK yarn instead of the suggested worsted weight yarn. They turned out nicely though and hopefully they are stretchy enough to fit all the different heads they are destined for.

This mysterious pile of pretty leaf fabric has all been sewn up now into gifts - the sewing machine and I almost came to blows over making these, but after all the tears things came good and I'm quite happy with how they turned out. I'll post more details about them after Christmas as I don't want to ruin any surprises for a particular sister who follows this blog quite closely...

Lastly I did a bit of salt dough baking and came up with these little hearts and stars for tree decorations. Sadly the paint that I used seems to be chipping quite quickly so I'm going to have to do some repair work and add a few layers of varnish before I can send any of these out... it almost seems like too much work for something that was supposed to be a quick and relaxing project.

Now I had best get back to some final crochet projects and hopefully I'll be back soon without any of the Christmas panic hanging over me...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday book review

"Country crochet & Knitted lace" by Jan Eaton
ISBN: 1-85368-227-6

UK crochet terms

This book is where my love for crochet first started... back when I was 17 I found this book in my local library and I fell in love. I could already crochet as I had taught myself a few years before from some old issues of 'Golden hands magazine' but I hadn't really gotten past making up test squares of the different stitch patterns. Then I saw the photos in this book of some stunning crochet lace pieces and I wanted to make it all. Sadly the Library wanted the book back and even though I tried a few bookshops no one could get hold of this title any more (even though at that time it had only been published two years before) and that was the last I saw of it.

That is until I recently found an entry for it on Amazon, without a cover image and available only through marketplace sellers. So I ordered myself a copy in 'good condition' and I'm delighted with how good the condition is. The book is as beautifully presented as I remember it to be, in fact with all the different crochet books I've read through since I can now see just how good a book it is. The photography is beautiful, there are some very lovely photos throughout the introduction of a number of the projects featured next to some other old and new pieces of lace that the author has inherited from her own grandmother.

This book is really two separate titles in one (see the bottom of this review for links to the original two books) - as I don't really do much knitting I'll just be focusing on reviewing the first half of the book which is all about crochet lace. 

The introduction is lovely and includes a detailed section about the history of crochet especially focusing on how crochet has been used to imitate a number of different lace making techniques. There is a good section on selecting the right materials and hooks for your project (with some handy conversion charts for UK/US hook sizes, yarn types and stitch terms) as well as a short but nicely illustrated section for how to work the various stitches. Then the book goes into detailed instructions on a number of crochet techniques from how to do filet crochet to following a written and a charted pattern. There is also an illustrated finishing techniques section that is very useful and some detail on how to care for your finished crochet project.

The projects are almost all worked using crochet thread of varying thicknesses so none of them are what I would term 'beginner' projects as I find working with thread to be very tricky and not very forgiving of mistakes. That said the projects have all been given a difficulty rating by using a cute ball of wool with crochet hooks stuck through it to show how much work each would take, 1 hook = quick to 4 hooks =  a very, very long time indeed. The larger 4 hook projects are both for table cloths one a beautiful looking butterfly edged table cloth and two a very large and wide edging for a 'crystal and silver' table cloth. Both of these would take me about 3 years to finish so I thought it better that I focus on the 1 hook projects.
Some of you may remember the Christmas tree stars I made for friends and family last year - well these stars are one of the first things that I started making and the pattern for them came from this book. These stars are very simple to make up - if you can do a granny square then you can make these. After working the central granny hexagon you then work each of the triangular points directly on to the sides, you then sew in a good number of loose ends and starch the finished star to make it stiff for hanging.

These stars went down a treat last Christmas (though I did at the time promise never to crochet with thread again after getting blisters on my fingers trying to sew in all the loose ends on these) as I hope will the next project that I have to show - little lavender bags.

These lavender bags are made using a filet crochet motif worked in thread which is then backed with some felt and made into a little lavender bag. They are simple and very effective, especially if you use a dark coloured felt to highlight the detail in the pattern. Though I had some trouble working the hexagon windmill design it turned out that the pattern was fine, it was me that was reading it wrong.

So after over a decade since last seeing this book my enthusiasm for it hasn't declined, in fact in some ways I appreciate it more as I've read through a lot of crochet books over the years and know how rare it is to come across a book as well written as this one. I love all the patterns, though I may never have the time to make most of them, and the detailed introduction as well as the pattern library that you find at the back make it worth having for just those alone.

After a bit of digging I've discovered that this book is in fact a combination of two earlier titles published by New Holland Publishers Ltd. You may have more success in getting hold of these as separate titles "A creative guide to knitted lace" & "A creative guide to crochet".

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Beautiful banner

I have been one very lucky girl this year, not only did I receive all that fabric goodness from the Sew Hip competition recently I've also just had this beautiful banner arrive in the post.

Wendy from the corvidarium was giving away one of her banners on her blog a couple of weeks ago and I was lucky enough to win. It looks so lovely hanging above my mantel piece - almost as if it was made to go there... Thank you so much Wendy from all of us at Tea Towers, we will treasure it!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Winter hats

It has started snowing quite heavily in my little corner of the UK, the garden is a blanket of white and I've been snuggled up on the sofa refusing to go back outside. So I'm officially announcing that winter has arrived and it is only fitting to show off a couple of new hats that I've made recently.

The first is another little frog hat (designed by Jane Bibby) from an old issue of Inside crochet which is quite quick and easy to make up. I adjusted the pattern for the eyes to give this hat larger pupils as the eyes in the original pattern scare me a little. I found doing the embroidery on the face easier this time too - perhaps practice really does make perfect?

For Sam's winter hat this year I decided to keep it simple and just make him a bear hat. I used the frog hat pattern for the basic hat shape and then just added two little ears on top to finish it off. Sam does quite like it, but would much prefer to wear his mum's cheapy free gift hat that has a monkey on the front of it - typical.

Even though Sam isn't as delighted as I had hoped he would be he does get quite a few admiring glances when he is out and about in it so at least adults appreciate my work!

Now I'm off to try and find an easy pattern for a basic men's hat - any suggestions?

Monday, November 29, 2010

The UK Hyperbolic coral reef is back!

Back in March 2008 myself and my sister went along to a workshop in London to teach people about the Hyperbolic coral reef and how to do hyperbolic crochet. Back then it was the first I had heard about the project so I went along not really knowing what to expect.

I discovered that the project had been set up to heighten awareness of the damage being done to coral reefs around the world that were being 'bleached' by the rise in water temperatures due to global warming. People all over the world had been contributing something called 'hyperbolic crochet' which were then made up into reefs which tour their country of origin to help raise awareness of this issue.

Well the UK reef is back and will be available to see at the Salisbury Arts Centre from 6 January - 26 February 2001 or if you too are keen to learn how to make these intriguing hyperbolic crochet pieces then you should try to get along to the centre for the workshop on Tuesday 7 December at 6pm. Send an email to to find out more.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday magazine reviews

Sorry yet again for the delay in getting my Friday magazine reviews up - this time we have the latest two issues of Inside Crochet to have a read through...

"Inside Crochet" issue 11
November 2010
UK crochet terms

I'm not particularly taken with most of the patterns in this issue, especially the 'Nautical sweater' which is yet another shapeless looking pattern for men. I'm also not convinced about the baby leg warmers which go with a pattern in the previous issue for baby nappy soakers... and the Harlequin cardigan is also a bit too dated looking for my tastes.

The patterns that redeem the issue for me include the lovely looking chevron cushions which look like a lot of fun to make, I'm also quite taken with another hoodie pattern (which you can see on the cover image), but as I don't have the time for any large projects at the moment I'll just have to bookmark it for trying after Christmas.

The feature articles this week focus on colour theory and include a piece on choosing colours, working chevrons and also include an interview with Sarah London who does some of the most beautiful colourful crochet that I've ever seen.

"Inside Crochet" issue 12
December 2010
UK crochet terms

Lots of lovely patterns in this month's issue, the cover project 'Anastasia dress' is very pretty and the different stitch patterns used give a lovely individual touch. The 'Waterfall coat' for a little girl is also very lovely so I'll be bookmarking that for potentially making for one of my nieces, then there is the 'Winter mist jumper' that looks very cosy and with its rib effect it should be quite flattering when worn. As well as all this there are also a selection of smaller project designed to be quick makes for last minute Christmas presents - just what we need!

In the articles there was a piece about Pauline Turner (she has the impressive web address of who set up and runs the Distance Learning Crochet course as well as a feature on Irish crochet incleding a how to guide on how to work it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Slowly turning purple

As the weather steadily gets colder I've been piling on the layers but even so my hands are still getting that purple tinge. So it's quite fitting that I've been making a good few projects in purple recently.

Firstly I've finished up two more toddler handbags (from my free pattern) which has used up some of the stash of purple and silver yarn that I bought years ago and then couldn't think of what to make with them. I'm pretty pleased with how these turned out, I even managed to find some sparkily purple buttons to match them. Any other ideas of what to make with some pretty scratchy purple and silver acrylic yarn?

Next up are these little newborn baby booties for a new arrival on our road. These booties are one of my favourite things to make for a new baby (as you can see from this old blog post). The pattern is very quick to make and the simple strap should help these stay on the feet of the most active little one.

This time when making them I used the invisible decrease method that I recently learnt while making Mr. Bubbles, this has left the front of the bootie looking much neater and gives a lovely finish.

Next up we have a little purple butterfly that was needed to add a homemade touch to a baby jumper that I bought as a first Birthday present.

The pattern for this butterfly is very quick and easy and well worth having a play with to make embellishments for any of your own projects. It is made as one piece and if you then fasten it on to something you can just hide the ends at the back if you want to be extra lazy!

Be sure to also check out Nichole Romano's blog as there is lots of great crochet going on over there.

Last up I have another simple beaded bracelet from the free pattern on Futuregirl's blog. After struggling with crocheting wire I decided to have a go with some black crochet thread and see how it turned out. I love how even and consistent this bracelet was after the slightly crazy uneven look of the wire, and it feels so nice to wear.

Oh - and you can see how purple my hands are turning in this photo too!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Posting delays

I'm sorry - this post is supposed to be a double magazine review for Inside Crochet, but due to illness at Tea Towers I've not had enough time to sit down and write it.

So instead I'll leave you with a photo of my 'Simples' scarf modelled by my son's favourite meerkat. It really was 'simples' using a long foundation sc row to start and then just working stripes across the length of the scarf.

Lovely and snuggly!

Will be back soon, hopefully all better and with lots of things to share :-)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Halloween candy

Some friends of mine have just returned from a holiday in New York (lucky devils!) and as they where there for Halloween they thoughtfully brought me back some candy.

If you don't live in America you may also have wondered what their famous Candy Corn actually tastes like... well strangely enough it tastes a bit like fudge.

Not really what I was expecting but quite nice anyway, just thought you might like to know  :-)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Woooo woo woo!

I'm still working hard on getting all my Christmas presents made at Tea Towers, I've been going a bit into crochet overdrive recently so there are a good few completed projects that I have to show you.

Surely no one needs an explanation about what this blue crocheted Police box is? Well just in case there is someone out there who does then in brief this is a crocheted version of "The Tardis", an alien space ship used by "The Doctor" (a time lord) to travel through time and space. Go now and search through YouTube for "Dr. Who" if you really have no idea of what I'm talking about.

This Tardis is loosely based on the free pattern by Army of Owls (which I think is a fantastic blog name) though I've made a few changes of my own, namely mine is taller and has a different roof and light. I also went for broke on the embroidered detail, using a darker blue to work all the panels on the doors, using white felt for the windows and embroidering on the sign and writing of 'Police box' on the front. I'm really pleased with how good it looks and I'm very glad I went to the extra effort to get it looking that way.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mr. Bubbles!

Let me introduce you to Mr. Bubbles...

Though he looks pretty scary in his deep sea suit and with that strange gun type thing on his back (not to mention the ominous drill coming out of his right arm) he is in fact quite a pussy cat really and is definitely quite a cuddly monster.

For those of you who don't enjoy violent video games then you may be a little confused as to what Mr. Bubbles is - well he is the iconic baddy from the first BioShock game and then in BioShock 2 you actually get to play as him. My husband has played through the first 2 games and enjoyed them both immensely so after seeing that there was a free pattern for him I thought I would have a go at making one.

Well after about 60 hours of work I managed to make Mr. Bubbles just in time for my husband's Birthday and though he is the most challenging thing I've ever crocheted he is most definitely the most worth the effort. The detail in this pattern is incredible - there are at least 30 different crocheted parts that have been joined together and apart from the the button port holes he is all yarn and fibre fill. Even though this pattern is so challenging and involves so much assembly the end result is perfect. Especially considering my son managed to tip a cup of tea over him half way through his creation he survived being thoroughly rinsed out a few times to remove all the stains (though my son did have a very distressed mum there for a couple of hours...).

So a huge thank you goes out to Emjay Bailey who designed the Big Daddy pattern and was so generous to publish it on her blog for free. Thanks Emjay - your pattern is the greatest and I've loved every minute I've spent working on Mr. Bubbles (even doing the piping round the head).

Saturday, November 13, 2010


On a Saturday morning I have a lie in - for as long as possible, sometimes even until midday, I look forward to it all week. Not this morning though, the postman woke me at 10.20 with a parcel. Still in my dressing gown I trudge up to my bed and try to get back to sleep and then realise that I'm not expecting a parcel so I decide to find out what it is.

I won something!

Last month I entered in an Etsy competition featured in Sew Hip magazine and one lucky winner would receive some beautiful screen printed organic fabric from Showpony (blog), 2 lovely hand-printed fabric rolls in pretty containers from Summersville and 3 fantastic make your own felt kits from paperandstring (blog). I just can't believe that I was so very lucky to win all these beautiful things - I'm going to have to do some serious thinking about how I use these beautiful fabrics and I can't wait to get started on these beautiful felt kits.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Completed squares

Some of you may remember that back in June I did some work on some squares for the wonderful Sunshine International Blanket of Love project (SIBOL). Well shamefully I never got around to finishing those squares off as I had wanted to make a few more squares to go with them.

However, after reading that Sue needed one more square for her first Jan Eaton blanket I decided that this was what I needed inspire me to finish off those other squares and make me feel a little less guilty about not sending them sooner. Sue was very understanding about just how long it has taken me to send her the original squares that I had promised and said that she would be happy for me to have a go at block 21 "Blue shades".

So this weekend I tackled "Blue shades" and though it was a quick and easy block to make up I wouldn't recommend it as one to base a blanket on - it would be very tricky to join up with other squares and even after having a go at blocking it this weekend it still looks crocked to me.

I'm very happy to be done though and so very proud to be included in the first of the Jan Eaton blankets - I can't wait to see how Sue puts them all together.

Monday, November 8, 2010


When I noticed another Ros Badger & Elspeth Thompson book being released this month I got very, very excited as I had enjoyed their "Homemade: Gorgeous things to make with love" so much. This new title "Homemade: 101 beautiful and useful craft projects you can make at home" is in fact the same book. It has just been republished with a different cover and a slightly different title.

I'm really gutted.

Oh well, I'll just have to return it to Amazon and see what else I can get off my wishlist instead.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday book review

"Love.. Crochet: 25 simple projects to crochet" by Carol Meldrum
ISBN: 978-1-84773-595-9

UK crochet terms

My latest visit to the local library gave me the opportunity to borrow a copy of this new UK crochet title - it had only just come in before I snapped it up! Ah - I do so love libraries!

This book is aimed at beginners and so has a beautifully photographed how-to section which includes information on hooks, yarns and how to hold the hook as well as step by step photographs for the different stitches. Strangely though the photographs for working the stitches are taken from the opposite angle to how they usually are so you are looking at the stitches as if you are watching someone else crocheting which I would find a little confusing.

All the projects in this book are very simple and would be a good place to start for a new crocheter. Most of the patterns didn't appeal much to me, finding good clothing crochet patterns is tricky normally and I didn't think much of the look of the ones shown in here. Out of the other patterns there were a couple of things that I thought worth having a go at including the cute little cupcakes at the back of the book.

The pattern for these little cakes turned out to be wrong. If I had followed the instructions as written I would have ended up with some very tall and thin cakes. To remedy this with my cakes I added a couple of extra increase rows to both the base of the cakes and the icing. I did enjoy working the sides of the cake though as they used something called 'linked stitch' which I haven't come across before and produces a lovely dense looking fabric that I really like.

As I wasn't very impressed with the first pattern I tried I thought I would give this book one more chance and try a second pattern. For this I chose the very simple looking crochet hook case that seemed such a nice simple solution for all your hook carrying needs. The pattern was as basic as it gets, you just need to work a long strip of crochet with a few colour changes to create a piece of crochet fabric that you can fold in half for the outside of the case. To the inside of this you sew a felt pouch to contain the hooks and after you've added some buttons and bits of elastic you're done.

I'm really pleased with how my case turned out but again the pattern was a bit confusing - this time with the hook sizes. The materials list a 4mm hook and the gauge also says to use a 4mm hook, but when you turn over the page the pattern specifies a 3mm hook. I stuck with the 4mm hook and also had to make my case a bit longer to fit my hooks, but after that it was a very easy make.

In summary I wouldn't recommend anyone to go out and buy this book - it is well presented and has lovely photographs of the projects but the patterns don't seem to be very well tested and the project ideas are nothing really special.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Toddler handbag

As part of my quest to make all my friends and family handmade gifts this year I needed to come up with a suitable present for a few little toddlers that I know. One of the them loves bags and will unpack any bag she can get her hands on, especially her mum's handbag. So I thought it would be nice to try and make her a handbag that was toddler sized and this is what I came up with.

The idea is simple enough, I just made a front piece, back piece that was longer so that it would fold over to make the front flap and one long strip of crochet that became the sides and handles. Joining up the finished pieces was a bit tricker as trying to get it all to line up was not very easy so I strongly recommend that you pin the pieces together before you try joining them. I'm very pleased with how it has finished up and thought I would share my pattern with you here in case you also know some little toddlers that would like one.

Toddler handbag


50g DK yarn in any colour you choose

1 large button to match yarn
4.5 crochet hook

yarn needle for working in loose ends

Finished size:

This will vary depending on how tight you crochet, my finished bag measured 14cm wide by 12 cm high (excluding straps)


This pattern uses American crochet terms. The following abbreviations used are

ch - chain

st - stitch
dc - double crochet
sl st - slip stitch
dec - decrease (working 2 dc stitches together)


chain 20
Row 1: dc in 3rd ch from hook and dc in each ch across (18 dc)
Row 2: ch 2, 2 dc in first dc, dc in each st across until working 2 dc in last st (20 dc)
Row 3: ch 2, 2 dc in first dc, dc in each st across until working 2 dc in last st (22 dc)
Rows 4-13: ch 2, work dc in each stitch across (22 dc)

finish off


chain 20
Row 1: dc in 3rd ch from hook and dc in each ch across (18 dc)
Row 2: ch 2, 2 dc in first dc, dc in each st across until working 2 dc in last st (20 dc)
Row 3: ch 2, 2 dc in first dc, dc in each st across until working 2 dc in last st (22 dc)
Rows 4-18: ch 2, work dc in each stitch across (22 dc)
Row 19: ch 2 dec over first 2 sts, dc in each st across until working dec over last 2 sts (20 dc)
Row 20: ch 2 dec over first 2 sts, dc in each st across until working dec over last 2 sts (18 dc)
Row 21: ch 2 dec over first 2 sts, dc in each st across until working dec over last 2 sts (16 dc)
Row 22: ch 2 dec over first 2 sts, dc in each st across until working dec over last 2 sts (14 dc)

finish off

Sides and handles:

ch 9
Row 1: dc in 3rd chain and dc in each ch across (7 dc)
Row 2: ch 2, work dc in each stitch across (7 dc)

continue working rows of 7 dc until you have a strip that is 80cm long. Join ends of strip by sl st together.

finish off


Find the middle point of the bottom of the front piece (the end that you started working from) and with the join on the strap positioned to the bottom rejoin your yarn and sl st up round the side to join the two pieces together. Break the yarn off and rejoin again at the bottom this time sl st up the other side of the bag front. Do the same for the back of the bag but only sl st up as far as the front side goes so that you leave the top of the back loose as this becomes the flap. Sl st around the front of the flap and when you get to the middle point ch 10 (to make the button hole loop) and continue sl st across the rest of the flap. Weave in all loose ends and you're done!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ponyo amigurumi

My little niece became a Studio Ghibli fan two years ago when I gave her a DVD of My Neighbour Totoro (as well as a crocheted Totoro to go with it) - according to her mum she would wander round the house sing the theme song to herself and would keep asking to watch it again and again. So when the new Ghibli film Ponyo came out I knew I had to get it for her. I also wanted to have a go at making her a little crocheted Ponyo to go with it and this is what I've ended up with. 

I had hoped that my Ponyo would turn out a lot cuter than this but to try and do a better job would involve starting back from scratch again which I sadly don't have enough time to do at the moment. For any of you Ponyo fans out there I've included my pattern - beware though the bottom of the skirt is very fiddly to make.



DK yarn in pink, red, white, orange/brown, black

pair of safety eyes
3.5 crochet hook

yarn needle for working in loose ends

Finished size:

This will vary depending on how tight you crochet, my finished doll measured 10.5cm high.


This pattern uses American crochet terms. The following abbreviations used are

ch - chain
sc - single crochet
hdc - half double crochet
dc - double crochet
tr - treble crochet
sl st - slip stitch
inv dec - invisible decrease
rep - repeat

This pattern is worked in the round so use a stitch marker to show the first stitch of each row.

Eyes - make 2

- Using white yarn -

make a magic ring and ch 1
8 sc into ring, pull end to close (but not too tightly) sl st to first sc and finish off


- Using pink yarn -

make a magic ring and ch 1

Row 1:  6 sc into ring, pull end to close (6 sc)
Row 2: 2 sc into each sc (12 sc)
Row 3: *2 sc into next sc, sc* rep around (18 sc)
Row 4: *2 sc into next sc, 2 sc* rep around (24 sc)
Row 5: *2 sc into next sc, 3 sc* rep around (30 sc)
Rows 6-11: sc around (30 sc)
Row 12: *inv dec, 3 sc* rep around (24 sc)

Row 13: *inv dec, 2 sc* rep around (18 sc)

attach eyes roughly halfway down the face

Row 14: *inv dec, 1 sc* rep around (12 sc)

stuff head firmly


- Change to red yarn -

Row 15: work in front loops only *2 sc in sc, sc* rep around (18 sc)
Row 16: *2 sc into next sc, 2 sc* rep around (24 sc)
Row 17: *2 sc into next sc, 3 sc* rep around (30 sc)
Row 18: *2 sc into next sc, 4 sc* rep around (36 sc)
Rows 19-24: sc around (36 sc)
Row 25: *inv dec, 4 sc* rep around (30 sc)
Row 26: work into the front loops only *sl st in next sc, 2 hdc and 1 dc in next dc, 1 dc and 2 hdc in next dc* rep around

- Finish off red and change to white yarn -

Row 27: working into the back loops behind the red frill *inv dec, 3 sc* around (24 sc)
Row 28: work into the front loops only *sl st in next sc, 2 hdc and 1 dc in next dc, 1 dc and 2 hdc in next dc* rep around
Row 29: work into the back loops *inv dec, 2 sc* rep around (18 sc)
Row 30: *inv dec, sc* rep around (12 sc)

stuff body firmly

Row 31: inv dec around (6 sc) sl st to first sc and finish off with a long tail to sew close with

Flippers - make 2

- Using red yarn -

make a magic ring and ch 1

Row 1:  4 sc into ring, pull end to close (4 sc)
Row 2: *2 sc into next sc, sc* rep around (6 sc)
Row 3: *2 sc into next sc, 2 sc* rep around (8 sc) 
Rows 4-5: sc around (8 sc)
Row 6: *2 sc into next sc, 3 sc* rep around (10 sc)
Row 7: sc around (10 sc) finish off with a long tail


You may need to adjust where you put your hair spikes depending on where you've placed your eyes on Ponyo

- Using brown/orange yarn -

 make a magic ring and ch 1

Row 1:  6 sc into ring, pull end to close (6 sc)

Row 2: 2 sc into each sc (12 sc)
Row 3: *2 sc into next sc, sc* rep around (18 sc)
Row 4: *2 sc into next sc, 2 sc* rep around (24 sc)
Row 5: *2 sc into next sc, 3 sc* rep around (30 sc)

hair spikes: work 1 hdc, 1 dc, 1 tr, ch 2, sl st  all into one sc

Row 6: work 1 hair spike, sl st into next 2 scsl st into next 4 sc then work 1 hair spike, work sc in remaining stitches with a hdc in the last st before the first hair spike
Rows 7-10: ch 1, turn, 1 hadc then sc across working 1 hdc into last st
Row 11: work a few more hair spikes in this last row and finish off leaving a long tail for sewing hair to head.


- Using white yarn -

make a magic ring and ch 1

Row 1:  6 sc into ring, pull end to close (6 sc)
Row 2: 2 sc into each sc (12 sc)
Row 3: *2 sc into next sc, sc* rep around (18 sc)
Row 4: *2 sc into next sc, 2 sc* rep around (24 sc)
finish off with a long tail for sewing onto the front of the body.


Use the photo at the top to help and carefully position hair on head and sew it in place. Embroider a mouth - either a nice big smiley one or a little surprised red 'o'. Sew flippers on at the sides and sew the white tummy circle on to the front. Sew in any loose ends and your done.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Hope you are all getting into the Halloween spirit, I've got to go and decorate Tea Towers but I thought you might like to see the little pumpkins that I made to add to my decorations this year.

These little cuties are from the free pumpkin pattern available from PlanetJune and are so quick and easy to make that you'll have a stack of them in no time!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Crocheting with wire

One of the challenges that I set myself this year was to see if I could make some crochet jewellery by crocheting using fine wire.

While on a rare shopping trip to a pretty craft shop in Yorkshire back in July I came across some suitable looking wire (34 gauge) as well as some seed beads that were on offer and I've had them in my stash ever since, just waiting for me to take the plunge and have a go.

After a bit of playing around with the wire I decided that a 2.5mm hook would be best and threaded a load of beads ready to start making my bracelet. I used the lovely futuregirl's beaded bracelet pattern as a starting point and made a start.

My first attempt ended up being frogged as I hadn't threaded enough beads on to start with. Trying to pull out crochet that has been done using wire is very, very tricky but I did manage it in the end and I even managed to re-crochet the much kinked wire into one of my finished bracelets. After this I found the crochet to be quite easy going and enjoyed seeing the bracelets come together. Some of the beads in my bracelets have moved about a bit during crocheting due to the nature of the wire leaving a looser finish but even so I think they are very pretty and I'll definitely be trying more crochet wire jewellery soon!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Patchwork progress

Some of you may remember my post back in September about trying a bit of patchwork at my weekly craft group.

Well I thought it was time that I showed you how it was getting on. As you can see I've joined all the little hexagons together now (using something called the "English method") and I'm almost finished sewing it down to the backing fabric.

It looks a bit of a strange shape doesn't it - can any of you guess what it is going to be?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Finished at last!

Just thought I would show you quickly how my finished baby booties came out. After a suggestion from one of my followers (thanks Never Knew!) I added a crochet flower to the toe of each bootie in the contrasting colour from the other bootie and now they look much more like a pair

These flowers are very quick to make up and would be useful for so many different projects that need a little extra finishing touch. As I came up with the pattern for these flowers myself I've quickly written up the pattern so that some of you might have a go at making a few too:

Pretty little flowers


This pattern uses American crochet terms. The following abbreviations used are

ch - chain
sc - single crochet
hdc - half double crochet
sl st - slip stitch

Row 1: Make a magic ring, work 10 sc into the ring and then pull the loose end to close the ring.
Row 2: *3 sc into next sc, sl st into next sc* x 5
Row 3: *hdc in next sc, 3 dc in next sc, hdc into next sc, sl st into previous sl st* x 5

Finish off and weave in loose ends

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday magazine reviews

Sorry for the delay in my usual biweekly reviews - there has been a lot of crafting going on here at Tea Towers which has distracted me a little from writing up my usual blog posts. I'll try to drag myself away from all the crafting excitement to get my 'to blog about' pile under control.

"Sew Hip" issue 21
October 2010

 Not much in this month's issue of Sew Hip managed to hold my attention for very long. The smaller, quicker projects didn't really appeal to me as they were either too simple to really merit the instructions (like the coasters which were just wool beads threaded together) or far too advanced/time consuming for me to want to start. The duffle coat on the cover is very cute - but definitely beyond my beginner skills. I also liked the pretty patchwork throw but sadly I just don't have enough free time at the moment to start anything that large.

The articles were quite interesting but more aimed towards the experienced sewer as there was a focus on tailoring and adjusting patterns to fit. I enjoyed the interview with founder of Craftsville which is a new craft website based in the UK that has recently been started. Craftsville is definitely worth taking a look at especially if you are a UK based crafter as they have up to date details of upcoming events.

"Sew Hip" issue 22
November 2010

Ah - much better! This issue of Sew Hip had quite a lot more in it that I enjoyed including a good few projects that I would like to try my hand at making. For me my favourites were the very cute little egg cosies that look so fun and quick to make, the pretty ruffled shoe clips that I could see being used on a number of different projects, the lovely fabric hampery baskets that would look so good with a pile of yarn in. 

The articles in this month's issue were also more enjoyable. The interview was with the Felt Mistress who makes some truly fantastic softies which are so unusual and full of character that they really don't fit in with traditional softies. There was also a piece on the curator of the UK edition of the Etsy blog which highlighted a few fantastic UK crafters which made for lots of drooling over photos of beautiful crafty goodies.

Maybe I'll have had a go at one or two project from Sew Hip by the time I next do a magazine review...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Jayne Cobb hat - revisited

Two years ago I had a go at making up my own crochet version of the Jayne Cobb hat in response to a hat making request from Kim Werker at Crochet Me. For those of you who don't know who the heck Jayne Cobb is then I highly recommend that you go out and borrow a copy of the Firefly series or the film Serenity.

Now two years later on I've had a request to publish the pattern I wrote for this hat so I'm going back to my roughly scrawled notes to try and piece a basic pattern together for them and anyone else who is interested. However, there are a few other much better crochet patterns out there as well as a good number of knitted patterns too so be sure to do a Ravelry search to help you decide which pattern you want to use.

Now on to the pattern!

Jayne Cobb hat


DK yarn in 3 colours or more. For a true Jayne hat you need red, orange & yellow
3.5 crochet hook
yarn needle for working in loose ends

Finished size:

I forgot to measure my hat before I sent it off to my sister but as it fitted me it was probably a size small. You may need to adjust the number of increase rows you work in the crown to get a perfect fit.


This pattern uses American crochet terms. The following abbreviations used are

ch - chain
hdc - half double crochet
sl st - slip stitch
tog - together (decreasing)

At the end of each row sl st to the first hdc worked in the previous row

- Starting yellow yarn -

Row 1: ch 3, join with a sl st to form a circle, ch 2 then work 8 hdc into circle
Row 2: ch 2, *2 hdc in each stitch* rep around (16 hdc)
Row 3: ch 2, *hdc, 2 hdc in each stitch* rep around (24 hdc)
Row 4: ch 2, *2 hdc, 2 hdc in each stitch* rep around (32 hdc)
Row 5: ch 2, *3 hdc, 2 hdc in each stitch* rep around (40 hdc)
Row 6: ch 2  *4 hdc, 2 hdc in each stitch* rep around (48 hdc)
Row 7: ch 2  *5 hdc, 2 hdc in each stitch* rep around (56 hdc)
Row 8: ch 2  *6 hdc, 2 hdc in each stitch* rep around (64 hdc)
Row 9: ch 2  *7 hdc, 2 hdc in each stitch* rep around (72 hdc) 

- Change to orange yarn -

Row 10: ch 2  *8 hdc, 2 hdc in each stitch* rep around (80 hdc)
Row 11: ch 2  *9 hdc, 2 hdc in each stitch* rep around (88 hdc)
Row 12: ch 2  *10 hdc, 2 hdc in each stitch* rep around (96 hdc)
Row 13: ch 2  *11 hdc, 2 hdc in each stitch* rep around (104 hdc)

if you want a smaller or larger hat then either work a row or two less or do a row or two more of the increase rows.

Row 14- 21: ch 2, hdc around (104 hdc)

- Change to red yarn -

Row 22- 24: ch 2, hdc around
Row 25: ch 2, 65 hdc, turn
Row 26: ch 2, hdc across, 1 hdc in top of 2nd ch (66 hdc)
Row 27: ch 2, hdc across (66 hdc)
Row 28: ch 2, 21 hdc, hdc 2 tog, 20 hdc, hdc 2 tog, 21 hdc (64 hdc)

First ear flap

Row 29 - 35: ch 2, 18 hdc, turn
Row 36: ch 2, 2 hdc tog, 14 hdc, 2 hdc tog (16 hdc)
Row 37: ch 2, 2 hdc tog, 12 hdc, 2 hdc tog (14 hdc)
Row 38: ch 2, 3 hdc tog, 8 hdc, 3 hdc tog (10 hdc)
Row 39: ch 2, 3 hdc tog, 4 hdc, 3 hdc tog (6 hdc)

- Finish off and repeat ear flap on other side of the hat - 

Make up a nice big pompom for the top using all three of the yarn colours and stitch it on to the top of the hat. Sew in any loose ends and you're done!

Monday, October 11, 2010

First attempt at blocking

Before blocking
You may be surprised to learn that in 18 years of crocheting I have yet to give blocking a go. I've heard good things about the results you get from it so always thought that it may be worth a try. However until now I had always ended up avoiding doing it as it seemed to be far too much like hard work. Now I'm at the stage where I would like my crochet to look a little more professional so I've been doing a bit of background reading on the subject and have been looking for a suitable project to try it out on.

Well after deciding it was high time I gave it a go I started working on some "branching leaves" scarves which were turning out quite wrinkly and so I thought that these would really benefit from a good blocking out and steaming. I finished working up these scarves quite some time ago and then hid them in my crochet work bag while I put off spending the time to laboriously pin them both out on my bedroom floor.

Go steam iron!
After two months of feeling a little guilty about them I pulled them out and went at them with a pile of pins. After a good few pins and some very sore fingers I had them all arranged nicely and looking a lot flatter. As I wasn't too sure just how taunt I should pull the stitches on these scarves I just settled for trying to get them straight with the leaves lying mostly flat. Then I turned my steam iron on full and blasted away at them with the steam which turned my bedroom into a bit of a sauna but seemed to be doing the trick.

Then I closed the bedroom door and ignored them for a good few hours while I enjoyed a well earned cup of tea.

All pinned out
After roughly 7 hours I went back to release my scarves from all those pins. It was a little bit of a let down seeing that they looked just how I had left them (I'm not too sure what I was expecting to happen behind my closed bedroom door) but after taking all the pins out they did keep their flatter shape and looked much straighter and neater than they did before.

Though I'm happy with the result that I got with my first blocking experiment I'm still not convinced the end result was worth all that effort. Oh well - at least that's two more presents to add to the Christmas box.