Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Geeky crochet

My husband is a gamer. If I had more time then I would probably be more of a gamer myself. Sadly free time isn't one something I have much of at the moment - but in the few short slots of quiet time I am managing to steal for myself I've been able to get a couple of little crochet projects done.

One of the good things about having a geeky husband is that there are always plenty of amigurumi projects that I can make for him - my Ravelry queue is always bursting with tons of possible projects. Amigurumi is fantastically suited to making cartoony toys and so perfect for so many of the creatures and items to be found in video games. My favourite of these would have to be the 'Mr Bubbles' that I made him last year - which though the hardest amigurumi project I've ever done it is also the one I am most proud of.

Recently I completed a 'weighted companion cube' for him (which is from another of the brilliant designs by nerdigurumi).  If you've not heard of the game Portal then it may seem a little strange to take the time to crochet a cube - but believe me it is a fantastic game and this little inanimate cube has a big fan following and so has quite a few free crochet patterns as well as some pretty amazing reproductions - just type 'weighted companion cube' into a google image search and prepare to be impressed.

Most recently I have just finished up a much quicker pattern for one of the birds from the 'angry birds' game which my husband plays on his iPhone. This game involves catapulting some kamikaze birds into some fortified pigs with hard hats - strange but oddly addictive. If I had more time then I would give making one of the green pigs a go so that Rich could have something to target his new angry bird at - perhaps I'll get round to it later in the year - along with all the other cool but geeky patterns that I want to try...

Slime from the Dragon quest games
Mario mushrooms

Friday, December 9, 2011

Quick ornaments

Even though I'd given myself a year off from Christmas crafting I couldn't resist making a few little ornaments as presents. These little trees are one of the projects in "Fa la la felt" a simply gorgeous book containing 45 different Christmas decorations you can make with felt.

These trees looked to be the simplest in the book - just a simple shape with some freehand back stitching for decoration and after whip stitching both pieces together you're done. So very quick and satisfying, I would have made more but I ran out of felt!

Now I should really go and wrap some presents... happy Christmas crafting everyone!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas cross stitching

Our little girl is now 2 months old and things are finally starting to get into more of a routine here at Tea Towers. For the past two months I have spent every evening trying to settle Emily by holding her in my arms which makes doing any craft particularly difficult. As we are starting to get better at settling her down in her basket I'm starting to have my hands free for half an hour every evening which has finally given me the time to finish off these pretty cross stitch decorations.

I tend not to do much cross stitch now I have kids as there is never enough time in the day to do long projects and if I tried to do a large piece it would take me years to complete. However, I was given a copy of a cross stitch magazine while in hospital before having Emily and it included a lovely kit to make these cute little Christmas houses. Surprisingly I found it didn't take me long at all to do the cross stitch element of these houses, what took the time was having to sew them all up, iron and stuff with fiberfill. I'm really pleased with how they came out though and will have to try and choose one to keep for us as the other two already have intended new homes.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Getting into the festive spirit

Every year I get myself into a pre Christmas panic, so when I start hearing Christmas carols or seeing the Christmas lights being put up round the shops I don't enjoy them at all. This year by some miracle I'm almost finished with the shopping for presents (so far I've done about 95% of it online - much easier!) and although there is still lots to do in the way of wrapping and card writing I'm feeling a lot more festive than I usually do at this time of year. Things have probably been helped by my not trying to get a huge amount of Christmas crafting done last minute which, though fun last year, does put me in a bit of a mad panic.

This year I'm going to be taking it a bit easier on myself, I'm not going to worry that I haven't bought all my friends and family the perfect present and just be happy that everyone will get something to say we are thinking of them. I have got a few small presents that I'm finishing off this week - but nothing too difficult so when the time comes to get all our Christmas decorations out of the loft tomorrow I should be very happy to see them all and relaxed enough to really enjoy putting them all out.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday book review

"Natural crochet: For babies and toddlers"
by Tina Barrett
ISBN: 978-1861086242

UK crochet terms

This book has been sitting on my computer desk for months now waiting for me to review it - and I've really wanted to do so, there just hasn't been the time. Seeing as the two little ones seem to be sleeping I'll try and write you a quick review now.

The book is beautiful.

The layout is simple with a photo gallery at the start with a few photos of each project model by some pretty adorable looking little ones which if you are at all like me you'll spend a good amount of time cooing at. This book is unusual in that I found most of the projects really appealing and would be very happy to have a go at making all of them. Sadly my own little boy is probably too old to make for now as he is past the largest size this book has patterns for.

The first half of the patterns are for babies and usually have instructions for more than one size, either 0-6 or 6-12, but there are some patterns with just the one size given. Some of my favourites from this section include the hooded cardigan which is particularly lovely and the little matinee jacket that is very similar to the Maisy baby cardigan I made up for my little niece last year

The second half contains the patterns for toddlers and has some really cute jumpers for little boys in which are so much nicer than the boxy crochet patterns you normally get for boys. However as I need to make a present for my soon to be one year old niece I went with the swing jacket pattern and made the version for a 1-2 year old. To achieve the gauge I had to use a 5.5mm hook instead of the 4mm hook that was recommended, however I did get the jacket to match what the finished dimensions were supposed to be. The jacket looked massive though, but as I didn't have a 1-2 year old about to try it on I crossed my fingers and sent it off. Well - it was far too big as I thought, in fact it was a much better fit on my other niece who is 5!

There is a brief techniques guide at the back of the book - but even so this is definitely more for the intermediate/advanced crocheter. I'm not too convinced with the sizing of these garments after the results I got from the coat I made, but I'm tempted to think it was a one off as a good number of other Ravelry users have had lovely results from the other patterns in this book. So I think I'll try another pattern from here next year and I'll let you know more then.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Kirstie's Handmade Britain

I've been a fan of the Kirstie's Homemade Home craft TV series (you can watch the old episodes through the 4oD player) since watching the first episode back in April 2009. The first two series covered quite an array of crafts and though they only touched briefly on each of them they did give you a taster and got a huge number of people in the UK crafting.

This new series is a little different (you can also watch Kirstie's Handmade Britain on 4oD) , instead of Kirstie just having a quick go at a few crafts each episode she is instead trying to enter what she makes in the various craft competitions being held in Farm shows across the UK. This does mean that Kirstie has to actually make the things she is entering (in the earlier series it was always a case of her doing an hour and then leaving her craft creations to be finished off for her) but I'm not too sure why the focus is on doing craft at a competitive level. The latest episode was about papercrafting and I found it quite disappointing. The items Kirstie made though interesting were not particularly taxing (I do love these paper roses though). The episode also focused on the other papercrafts entered and these were disappointingly old fashioned - the embriodered cards were especially so. So instead of being fired up to give entering what I make at a local fair I'm not even tempted to try.

Oh well - it's not like I have any time to do much craft at the moment anyway :-(

Monday, October 31, 2011

Three little ghosties

"Three little ghosties,
Sitting on posties,
Eating buttered toasties,
Greasing their fisties,
Up to their wristies.
Oh, what beastesses to make such feasties!"

Happy Halloween everyone!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

More handmade goodness

Life with baby Emily is pretty hectic so I've still not managed to complete any crafty projects. However, my list of projects to make is getting pretty long now - it isn't helped by seeing all the lovely things that other craft bloggers have been making.

I must find some time this weekend to give these extremely cute felt Halloween decorations a go. I also need to try and make a quick costume for my 3 year old - I'm tempted to try and dress him as a bat, any suggestions for how?

Until I do get something finished I have some more gifted craft goodness to share - my good friend Esther (etsy shop Bunting & Beads) recently sent me a bumper parcel full of crafted goodness. About 6 months ago I challenged her to make me 10 different things for when my little girl was born all using a different craft method. She took me up on the challenge and managed in that time to do just that! My parcel contained the following:

  • Two new baby cards, one made with paper craft and the other done with cross stitch
  • One little crochet handbag
  • One lovely knitted baby hat
  • A hand sewn felt elephant toy
  • A pair of pretty felt hair clips (made using a Cuttlebug)
  • One girly beaded necklace
  • One lovely little tapestry stitch needle case for when little Emily gets into crafting in a few years 
  • Some very beautiful bunting to decorate her room with
  • A gorgeous butterfly mosaic tile
All these lovely hand crafted items have started me thinking - how many different crafts can I do? I'm tempted to try and challenge myself into doing a different craft each week and see how many weeks I can keep it up for... though this may have to wait until I have our home situation more under control!

How many crafts can you do?


    Tuesday, October 4, 2011

    Our latest arrival

    Sorry for the lack of posting recently, I've only just come out of hospital after giving birth to my second little one - baby Emily. Life here at Tea Towers has for this reason been pretty hectic so normal blogging has had to stop while we get ourselves settled in to our new life.

    So far I'm loving having little Emily - she is such a sweet little one and seems to be quite a sleeper so hopefully I'll be able to find some time to craft and blog again soon. Until then I have been receiving some very lovely handmade presents from friends and family which I'll be able to share with you all while I get myself back on track.

    This beautiful blanket has come from my sister in Wales - look how lovely it is! Liz has only been crocheting for a year but seems to have really taken to it and has produced quite a number of lovely things already (you can check out her blog here).

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011

    My turn to win :-)

    I just wanted to do a very quick post about the lovely items I won in a recent blog giveaway. I don't usually win things so having these lovelies arrive from the other side of the world was so very exciting.

    The lovely Angelique from No Life Without Wife recently celebrated her 550th post with two fantastic giveaways, one for the cute Japanese craft supplies that I was lucky enough to win and another one which had a range of Blythe goodies in it.

    Thank you so much for this wonderful prize Angelique - I'll be thinking up ways to use some of these very soon!

    Saturday, September 10, 2011

    New supplies

    There has been lots of crochet going on recently here at Tea Towers - and there are also piles of lovely yarn scattered about that has been bought with what was left of my Birthday money. However, due to needing to be a little secretive about a new project I'm working on I can't show you too much of what I'm making, hopefully I'll be in a position to do so soon.

    This little stash of yarn (as well as a small supply of the lovely hand dyed buttons available through paper-and-string) is all part of my secret project - must get to work on that right now as the yarn is all so temptingly soft...
    I'm also trying to get a last minute Birthday present made up for one of my lovely nieces who is due to turn one in a couple of weeks. I'm having a few issues with gauge on this project, but hopefully will end up with something wearable in time if I crochet nonstop until it is done.

    The pattern is from the very lovely "Natural Crochet" book by Tina Barrett and is for the lovely looking 'swing coat' which looks simple and snuggly. Once I'm finished with this project I'll be able to do my next book review for you all - but until then let me just say that the patterns in here are all very adorable and hopefully I'll be able to find the time to make loads more from here.

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    Lovely sequins

    Things seem to be starting to come together here in the new Tea Towers, new furniture is steadily being added, new kitchen appliances being installed (still stuck with the scary old gas oven though... hopefully will have a new one of those some time soon). My crafting has also taken off again and I'm back up to my usual crafting capacity.

    Having all my craft things back out and nearby has been such a relief after 3 months of them being stowed away in storage. I've been sorting through what I have and during that time have come across a few exciting bits that I can't wait to find uses for. The sequins you see on this little bag were one of my discoveries and they match the little handbag I was making perfectly.

    So now with it's added glam and straps securely fastened it can be sent off as a slightly late Birthday present for a little girl I know - I hope she likes it!

    Friday, September 2, 2011

    We have a winner!

    Firstly - thank you to everyone who entered my little felty giveaway, it's always lovely to hear from you all!

    Secondly - hello to my 3 new followers! It's fantastic to have some extra people following and I hope you enjoy reading my little crafty blog.

    Now quickly on to the winner of the giveaway before monkey eats all the prizes (naughty monkey!)...

    The Random Number generator gave me the following result so the lucky winner this time is TheBigMango, congratulations! I'll be sending you an email shortly to let you know you've won and once you've gotten back to me with which doughnut/cupcake you want it will be in the post to you pronto!

    Sorry to all those who didn't win this time - hopefully I'll be up to 100 followers before too long and will be hosting another giveaway then.

    Friday, August 26, 2011

    Giveaway: Felt goodies

     Drum roll please!

    I'm very happy to announce that this blog has just recently gained it's 50th follower and to help celebrate I thought I would bake some cakes.

    However, as I am still trying to tame the old gas oven we have inherited in our new home I thought it would be better for us all if I used felt and a needle instead of real baking ingredients!

    For this give away all you have to do is leave a comment (no need to become a follower of this blog - but if you are new here then it would be lovely if you did!) on this post with some way for me to contact you. I'll use the random number generator to pick a winner on the 3rd September - so that will make the closing date for entries Friday 2nd September.

    The prize is simply one of those yummy looking cupcakes or one of these donut keyrings - you can choose which you would prefer and what colour you would like me to send.

    This giveaway is open to any of my readers worldwide - so feel free to enter where ever you are :-)

    If you don't manage to be the lucky winner then not to worry - these tasty looking treats have all been made with the lovely kits avaliable from the very talented paper-and-string. Some of you may remember my winning these kits back in November last year.

    Between moving home twice over the last month I've finally managed to make up all the items from these kits and I love how they have turned out. The kits are very clear and contain everything you need to make up the items apart from a needle and thread. The felt comes in beautiful vibrant colours and is good quality, so it's perfect for hand sewing. Seeing as my favourite item from the three kits I won was for this lovely owl ornament I am going to be keeping him out of my giveaway - but can you blame me as he is so cute?

    Good luck to all who enter and if I ever manage to get to 100 followers I'll do another giveaway then!

    Sunday, August 21, 2011

    Mini turtle - mini post

    Just finished this little guy up this morning using some of the yarn scraps I have kicking about. The pattern is from Brigitte Read's "Super-super cute crochet". He is really very tiny - only about 6cm across including his little legs.

    Not having my main amigurumi yarn stash about has been quite a problem... but I have good news - after a lot of searching I finally found the box it was hiding in so I can do lots more Amigurumi again!

    Because I'm now a very happy crafter and also because I have just gotten my 50th follower it's time to do another giveaway. I'll try to get that sorted in the next couple of days and let you all know soon what will be on offer for the winner :-)

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    Tea Towers mark III

    After 3 months of living up in Yorkshire with family we finally have a lovely new home in Manchester. Though it has been a very stressful journey to get us into our new home we are so happy to finally be here and able to start settling into what we hope will be our home for a good many years to come.

    You may remember me telling you about this little plaque I made on my Birthday - I've been meaning to make one for years so when it came back from the kiln last month I was so happy to see how it turned out as well as relieved that it survived. It's now hanging up proudly in our front porch to help welcome all our visitors to our new home.

    While our house sale was completing I also found some time to do a bit of paper stamping and made up a stack of these little notecards to send out as new address notices.

    The stamp set I used is one that my mum-in-law got free from her card making magazine (Quick cards, issue 90, August 2011) and I completely adore. Because I made such a fuss over her set she went out and bought me my own copy so hopefully I'll be making some cards using these lovely stamps soon.

    It's been just over a week since we moved in but we already have most of our belongings out of boxes and are working steadily through an impressively long list of 'to do' jobs as well as trying to buy new furniture to fit our new home. Once piece of furniture that we have just bought is already made up and stacked full of my precious tea things.

    Though moving in has gone brilliantly well there has been one disaster - my most used wool stash bag that contained most of the yarn I use for making up Amigurumi has gone missing. We've done a thorough search and it is starting to look like it is gone for good. I really hope it shows up as there are tons of things I want to start making and can't - however if it is definitely gone then I'll need to try to replace some of it, do any of you have recommendations for cheap online (UK based) yarn suppliers?

    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    Baby crochet

    While browsing through the freely available patterns listed on Ravelry I came across the pattern for this little beauty (Pink baby sweater by NĂ©lia Botelho).

    Seeing as I had a ball of 4 ply wool sitting in my mini craft stash I thought I would give the pattern a go, and I'm so very glad I did. The cardigan is made up in just one piece so no fiddly joining and only 2 ends to work in. The pattern works up in rows and once you get the hang of the increases for the chevrons you can quite happily crochet away anywhere.

    I managed to complete the whole cardigan in just 3 days and I'm very pleased with the result. It's a lovely light and lacy little cardigan and will look fantastic layered over whatever baby clothes I choose to put our new little girl in once she arrives.

    Does anyone have any other suggestions for crochet girl baby clothes - I have a little Amazon credit left over from my Birthday so would love to invest in a new book if anyone can recommend to me a good one?

    Saturday, July 30, 2011

    Basic sewing...

    While we've been living up in Yorkshire (not long until we move again now) I've been making good use of the local children's centres here. If you are a mum of under 3's then it is well worth you having a look at the services your local centre offers, as not only do they do plenty of activities and sessions for little ones, most also offer adult education courses.

    In the past I've done child first aid, card making and a small business course. Over the last month I've just completed another course - this time a basic sewing course which though very much targeted at beginners was still interesting and once we get all our belongs out of storage I'll be sure to dust off my own sewing machine and put some more time in on it.

    The course was just for a 2 hour session over 4 weeks and in that time we covered very briefly threading up machines, using basic patterns, cutting pieces, sewing seams and a little bit of hand embroidery.

    Unfortunately course materials were limited - we only had 4 machine between 10 mums so often there was quite a wait to do any sewing. The fabrics provided were also just scraps and nothing really exciting - even so we all managed to make use of what was available to add our own personal touch and when a course is free you can't really complain.

    First up we had a go at making a simple taggy - a tactile sensory toy blanket thing with ribbons sticking out around the edge. These were pretty simple and quick to make and we all managed to get one done within our 2 hour session.

    For the next 2 sessions we made up a little purse thing which involved doing some simple hand embriodery on the front - this is what took most of the time and now I've finished mine I'm not entirely sure what to use it for... it didn't quite work out as nicely as I had hoped.

    For our last session we optimistically tried to make up a little hand bag - however with the limited sewing machines we didn't all get to finish so I've still got a few things to do on my bag - hopefully I'll get round to it soon as it would make a cute little bag for a toddler.

    Friday, July 22, 2011

    Friday book review

    "Candy babies: Cute crochet for wee ones"
    by Candi Jensen
    ISBN: 978-1931543545

    US crochet terms

    It seems strange to be coming back to this book again - I gave away my original copy years ago (before I was writing this blog) over on Crochetville. This was one of my early online craft book purchases where I would just order based on the cover photo instead of trying to find out a bit about what the book contained first (Ravelry is a great place to check before you buy, you can search out the book on there and see what patterns it contains as well as have a peek at what other people have made and if they had any problems).

    Nothing in this book appealed to me back then and so I gave my copy away a few years later and forgot about it. Seeing as my lovely crochet book collection is currently in a storage container somewhere I had a rifle through my local library for any suitable baby crochet books and this is the only one that was half decent (can anyone please recommend some good titles for baby crochet?). On second inspection I did find one pattern that I thought would be worth a go - the Party Princess one, so after a quick trip to a local yarn store I started work.

    Seeing as I haven't been doing much in the way of crochet my brain seems to have stopped working correctly as it took me over 3 hours to figure out that my gauge was horribly wrong because I was using the wrong yarn weight - I had bought DK instead of the worsted weight that the pattern calls for. After realising this I had to rework the pattern to account for the finer yarn and thankfully this was possible with a bit of tweaking due to the pattern having the finished measurements marked up. The instructions were clear and it was a simple pattern to follow so I ended up enjoying making this item.

    So perhaps a book worth looking at - but I would strongly recommend you have a browse through it first to make sure you like the patterns it contains first, for me it still isn't one I would buy but I am glad that I gave it a second chance.

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011

    More Birthday goodies

    I'm really loving all the wonderful presents I've received this year, so many lovely crafty related things.

    I thought I would share quickly with you all a carefully cropped photo of me (so you can't tell just how huge I'm starting to look) featuring the beautiful necklace that my younger sister made me. We used to make these helter skelter friendship bracelets (more commonly known as Chinese staircase bracelets) as girls and she has cleverly used this method to make me this fantastic necklace which I really love.

    My sister Liz has also started up crochet this year (you may already be aware of my other sister Thea's blog) and seems to have caught a bit of a craft bug at the same time as she also made me a beautiful Flower Fairy card as well. Thanks so much Liz - what a wonderful present, I can't wait to see what you come up with next  :-)

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    Birthday treats

    I'm feeling pretty lucky again when I look down at my latest crafty haul for gaining another year.

    My crafty books are all from my Mum who very wisely visited my Amazon wishlist so this year no need to try and return anything as I've wanted all these books for ages.

    I was also delighted to receive a small crafty supply stash from my lovely sister containing pretty zips, some little deco tapes and a bag of pretty pastel buttons (all from the lovely paper-and-string). She must have read my mind as not only was I planning on ordering her next present from there but I've also been hankering after some of these hand dyed buttons...

    The large pile of pretty wool is part of my present from my Mother in law who took me out for a morning of porcelain painting and then let me loose in the attached wool shop to buy whatever I liked!

    So many lovely crafty things that it's hard to know just where to start :-)

    Sunday, July 3, 2011

    Crochet updates

    Life in our temporary home has been quite hectic recently but I have managed to find the time to do a little bit of craft while here. Before posting about those though I thought I would show off the two crochet pieces that I completed just before moving out of Tea Towers back in May.

    Firstly I came up with this crochet pot cover for a friend who was keen on learning crochet and thought she would start straight out on something like this herself. Because I find working with thread to be quite tricky even for me I discouraged her from having a go and instead got her to come along to my 6 week crochet course where she picked up all the basics really quickly - hopefully she'll be able to make me one some day :-)

    The star/flower in the centre is based on a cushion cover pattern in "Crochet gifts in a weekend" (read my review) which I then added some extra points to round the edge with glass beads crocheted in to add the necessary weights.

    Last up is yet another pair of crochet booties from my "Simple bootie pattern". On making these booties up I finally noticed the problem in the pattern that has caused so many of the crocheters who have gone on to make them such difficulties. I can't believe that it's taken me two years to notice the problem but when I get a free minute I'll try republishing the pattern here for you all.

    I'm also going to be slowly removing my free patterns from the CrochetMe website. The pattern pages get a huge amount of comment spam on them and as the support team have ignored my requests to do anything about it I'm going to take back control of them. So don't panic if patterns start disappearing, I'll be putting them all up here and will link each of their Ravelry pages to their new location.

    Sunday, June 5, 2011

    Flower brooch pattern

    As promised last week I'm posting up the pattern for my crochet flower brooches. They are very simple to make and depending on the yarn and buttons you choose can be made to suit any outfit. Feel free to make up these flowers as gifts for friends and family. If you do want to make some to sell then I would appreciate being credited as the author of the pattern. Please DO NOT publish this pattern elsewhere. 
    Materials list

    Scraps of DK yarn
    4mm crochet hook
    Darning needle (to work in loose ends)
    Pretty buttons
    Glue gun
    Brooch backs


    This pattern uses American crochet terms. The abbreviations used here are:
    Chain – ch
    Slip stitch – sl st
    Single crochet – sc
    Treble – tr
    * - shows where a pattern repeat takes place

    Row 1:  Make a magic circle, ch 1, work 8 sc into circle and pull tail to close (8 sc)

    Row 2:  Sl st into top of 1st sc from the previous row. Ch 1, work 2 sc in each sc around (16 sc)

    Row 3:  Sl st into top of 1st sc from the previous row. *Ch 3, sl st into next 2 sc* repeat around (8 3 ch loops)

    Row 4:  *Sc into 3 ch loop, ch 1, 3 tr, ch 1, sc* repeat around (8 inner flower petals worked) Sl st into first sc worked and finish off

    Row 5: Join second colour to back of flower (see photo) with a sl st *ch 4, st st between base of next two petals* repeat around finishing with a ch 4 and sl st into first sl st worked. (8 4 ch loops)

    Row 6: *Sc into 4 ch loop, ch 1, 5 tr, ch 1, sc* repeat around (8 outer flower petals worked) Sl st into first sc worked, finish off and work in loose ends
    Attach button and glue clasp to back – finished!

    Tuesday, May 31, 2011

    Glad to be back

    Hello and sorry to all my followers - I've missed keeping up with my craft blog and reading all your comments, hopefully now things are settling down here I'll be able to write more often.

    I don't usually put much about my personal life up on this blog but as I just disappeared for almost 4 months I feel like I owe you all a bit of an explanation. Thankfully it is all good news :-) I'm pregnant again with my second little one and everything seems to be going well though I'm finding that this time round I'm a lot more tired. As well as this we have recently sold our last house and are in the process of trying to buy a new Tea Towers. Until we do we are staying with family and I only have one box of craft things to be getting on with so I haven't got much to show for myself.

    I'll try to get a bit of craft done soon - to be honest I'm going a little crazy as I haven't crocheted anything for months now, but until then I can tell you a bit about a crochet course that I got the chance to teach just before moving out of our last home.

    I love getting people to start crochet - it's been my favourite hobby for many years and when someone gets the hang of it and starts to see the fantastic things you can do with crochet it makes me very happy. The craft group that I wrote about in my last post were kind enough to give me the chance to run a 6 week crochet course there and though very nervous to be teaching a group instead of just one person at a time I jumped at the chance. I covered the basics for the first two weeks and then went on to teach granny squares, flower brooches and for the week before Easter we even had a go at making little bunny egg cosies.

    For each week of the course I wrote a couple of pages of crochet notes as well as writing my own pattern for a flower brooch which I'll be sure to post here soon. I also wrote a 'recommended reading' list based on a good few of the books that I've reviewed here on this blog. I really hope that I get another chance to teach a class as it was a lot of fun and I love seeing all the photos of things that the ladies I taught are now having such fun making.

    Thanks to everyone on the course for all the support and enthusiasm, I had a great time and will miss you all. Oh and thanks also for the delicious cakes, now if I could bake as good as this then I may make crochet my second favourite hobby...

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    Craft group goodness

    For the last week I've been busy doing a lot of hand sewing, both at my usual Mum's craft group and also at a new craft group that I've just joined. Crafting in the evening with a group of other like minded women is really good fun - especially when there is tea and yummy cake to be had!

    Though I'm a little shy with starting out meeting new people I think I'm going to fit in well at this new group - we're starting the year with a 6 week hand sewing course and I've already made this very sweet little felt elephant (the free pattern is available from here) as well a very lovable little felt scotty dog (from another free pattern which is available here).

    Working with felt is always so soothing (at least once you've finished cutting out all the piece and can figure out how on earth you start blanket stitching) and I love how pretty a contrasting thread colour looks on felt.

    I'm so tempted after all this felt goodness to go and spend a large amount of money at paper and string for even more felt... Before I do that though I should probably make a bit of headway through a few of the lovely felt kits that I won late last year - hopefully I'll have something to show you from them soon!

    My other weekly craft group is also going well, with more hand sewing to show off from there. We've all been making sewing mice which double as a pin cushion and a thread reel holder. However, in my enthusiasm to finish my mouse I took him home and sewed his ears on flat, completely forgetting that I was supposed to sew the ears on with a kink that would make them stand up. So while I'm pretty happy with how he turned out I'm going to be doing some remedial ear surgery on him soon in an attempt to make him even cuter.

    We are now moving on making to felt fairy cakes in a variety of pastel colours, they are pretty quick to make, you need two circles of felt (one slightly larger for the cake case, the other will be the main cake piece) and a smaller piece to add on top for the icing. You sew the icing to the top of the cake with any extra beads that you want to add as sprinkles, then you sew the two circles together with a running stitch that you pull tight to get a puckered edge, remembering to add some stuffing before you close it off completely.

    Friday, January 28, 2011

    Friday book review

    "Yummi 'Gurumi: Over 60 gourmet crochet treats to make" by Christen Haden & Mariarosa Sala
    ISBN: 9780740792601

    US crochet terms

    Last week my copy of this tasty looking book arrived all the way from America and I sat up with it gazing at all the yummy looking treats inside. My favourites to look at were the pretty looking cakes in the last section, that was until I read that they were all made with crochet thread and so would probably take quite a bit of work (as well as a whole stash of crochet thread in a large number of colours) to recreate.

    Slightly disappointed I decided to give some of the fruit a try - starting with strawberries. Apart from there being a confusing error in the pattern I was very pleased with how mine turned out and before long I had four juicy looking strawberries so I started on some of the other tropical fruit on offer. I tried to keep to some of the more recognisable fruits as these were destined to be play food for little ones (there were also patterns for a persimmon slice, peach slice and pineapple slice) and after a few issues with a couple of the patterns I ended up with a lovely collection of tasty looking fruit.

    Because I wanted my fruits to be easily recognisable I had to alter some of the patterns a little, my orange segments have a white pith and an orange rind - which though a little more of a fuss does mean they look more like orange slices. I also made the white centre in my kiwi slices a little larger and I embroidered far more black seeds in mine to try and make them look more real.

    After all this healthy food I decided to give a sandwich a go, and because I loved the look of the tomato slices shown in the book I decided to make up a BLT. Again I found a problem with one of the patterns, the instructions for the lettuce were slightly wrong and were quite hard to figure out how to fix. After reworking it a couple of times I really loved how it looks and think that the design is lovely, but the instructions need rewriting. My bacon got real crochet streaks of fat as I felt that the running stitch shown in the book looked a little naff. And because I ran out of time I didn't make up the slices of bread and just used some of the bread I had made previously that was tucked in my son's play food box.

    This book was sadly not as good as I was hoping it would be. There are a number of errors in the patterns that would make it very confusing for a beginner to use - which is such a shame as more pattern testing would have highlighted all of these. The patterns all look lovely, though because this focuses more on adult food tastes like sushi and a fun looking cheese board, there is little that I would end up actually making. I just don't know anyone who could use a crochet bottle of wine or a crochet stir fry.

    Sunday, January 23, 2011

    Loving hearts

    After trying diligently to get through some of my more tricky UFOs I've succumbed to doing some fun crochet as I'm rubbish at working through projects when the going starts to get tough.

    What tempted me away was a free pattern by June Gilbank called 'Love Hearts' which gives you detailed instructions for how to make these very cute hearts.

    On the left are the three different sizes worked in crochet thread - they are so tiny and very cute... I used them on my husband's date-a-versary card and they look so good I may have a go at doing some more in thread.

    Seeing as the thread hearts only took an hour to hook up I thought I would try making some with my DK wool, and this time I went with making the puffy hearts. They look so cute and squishy with a little stuffing in and I got pretty carried away with using up scraps of DK wool that after a couple of evenings of crochet I found I had made this pretty garland!

    This is a lovely quick and easy pattern and makes some really lovely heart motifs. What would you use them for?