Amigurumi wrangling

I am an impatient person.  With myself, that is.  I like simple makes, that look impressive but work up quickly.  I like crochet for that reason but other than a swiftly made spider for my toddler’s Miss Muffet costume a few years back, I haven’t really been drawn to amigurumi.  It’s relatively slow, monotonous and fiddly and unless you like making toys etc it’s not really very satisfying.  Plus, I have real issues trying to pronounce it.

So there I was last week, going through crochet mags for quick makes suitable for the school fundraiser when Small pokes her finger at a novelty toy donkey and demands I start work.  He was massively cute, and there was enough colourwork to make it interesting.  I also have huge amounts of acrylic to work through, so I thought I would give ‘Pedro’ a stab.

The head and ears worked up quickly but then I had a 30 min + fight with the safety eyes.  How do they expect mere humans to get those washers on? What followed was much swearing, bashing the donkey’s face on a wooden table, some supplementary swearing, squeezing until I had the imprint of two tiny plastic eyes on my thumbs, and then defeat – which involved my strong-thumbed other half.  I then got to watch someone else swearing, bashing the donkey’s face on a wooden table, swearing some more, and threatening to get hammers and pliers.  Finally, after much gurning, the eyes were in.  I had asked an online crochet group what they do in this situation, and the responses involved multiple pairs of pliers and learning to become zen about extreme thumb pain.  I was starting to wonder if I had joined some sort of masochistic cult.


The body was fiddly but ok and surprisingly I didn’t mess up the stitch count. When I stuffed him, he stood up!  I lovingly inserted his mane one strand at a time, and even tried to do my best embroidery on his acccessories.  I confess I stopped doing his full fancy tack, but was pretty pleased.

So now I have the dilemma of do I extend my repetoire or run away quickly? There is no denying the smug factor when you finish one of these is off the chart.  And as a stash buster they are hard to beat:  that little donkey used up a good chunk of a new ball of stylecraft DK plus lots of little colour scraps that needed using up.  But goodness me I won’t weep if I never see another safety eye again, and fringing, tassels, and micro hair transplants are very tedious.

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British Summer Time…

This week has been switching between beautiful blue skies and sudden and torrential rain.  Usually within 10 minutes of each other.  This is challenging when you have a small who just want to go to the local park.  In fact, I have just resorted to buying her a waterproof onesie so that the rain can’t interrupt play anymore!  But you can tell she is starting to feel the cold when in the middle of August she starts to pick through my DK stash to identify the yarns she wants to go in her new blanket.  Lots of different shades of grey with the occasional flash of colour.  I think she has an eye for it, if I am honest.

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And I really, really haven’t forgotten that I need to do the last 2 parts of the Granny Blanket pattern.  I have the squares and I think I will pick those up and get cracking on those again next week so that I can finish the instructions for the complete blanket.

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I really love that pattern.  The first one was made in Ice yarn and its soft and cosy, but acrylic, and I noticed the other day that there is a honking great error (which you have to look closely to spot) in one place.  It has taken me a long time to notice it, and it won’t stop me using it, but its annoying me.  So I really want to finish my current incarnation of it, which is being worked up in hand-dyed merino yarn and which I intend to bury myself under as soon as its made.  Its a good hibernation blanket that one, and mercifully  it is quick to make.

Small person has asked for a square-based blanket but I am keen to try out a stripey blanket based on V stitch, as I saw one the other day made from scraps and it was just beautiful.  So I will have a little play with that and, of course, I will document it on here in case you fancy making something similar.

Blankets were the thing that got me into crochet in the first place.  It was my (still unrealised) desire to make a 1970’s style granny blanket that made me keep trying to fathom crochet out.  I have made one for my Mum  (shown below) and another for my daughter (pattern is the Attic 24 Cosy blanket, for those who fancy one of their own).

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I have been pleased by how much she seems to enjoy it – it is a night time ‘wave’ when I tuck her in, a play mat, and a poorly blanket.  It is something she can’t outgrow and will always have for as long as she wants it.  And when she doesn’t want it any more, it will be a cherished momento of her childhood for me, as I sit and dribble into my cocoa, and wonder where the time went…Probably still watching the rain run down the window!

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La Parisienne

I am so happy to finally be able to share this shawl with you.  In this month’s shawl club box, Sam wanted to have a Paris theme to the crochet set.  I had been playing around with some triangular-based stitch patterns and felt that they were a little bit reminiscent of the Eiffel Tower (tenuous, I know), so I started to work up something a little bit different.  This shawl has a central ‘lace’ section which is worked first and then wings are added to it to frame the lace part and add width.  It is worked here in a 120g red yak singles sock yarn from unbelievawool which was just beautiful to use and it has a wonderful drape to it.  The shawl is a big one!  As you may be able to tell, I was quite pleased with how it came out.  Red is one of my favourite colours and so this is going to be used quite a lot.

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The edging is the same one I used on the Escapism shawl, as I wanted neat triangles along the border and that method is the best one I have found for achieving that effect.  The shawl shown here was the sample I made, but I think that a plain border along the bottom edge looks neater, and so that is what I recommend in the pattern itself.

Sometimes something very simply looks the most striking!

Sundae Shawl

So I can finally show you the first shawl of Shawl Club Season 2 -the Sundae Shawl.

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As you know, I am pretty rubbish at coming up with names for my shawls.  This one is called the Sundae Shawl because it looks like one of those wafers that you stick in your ice cream when you are having a treat.  And it also looks great in ice-cream colours. The yarn I used here is by Fleabubs.

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It works really well with bamboo / merino mixes, although any yarn would work well with it.  Plus it is one of those patterns where it will keep on growing if you have the yarn and follow the pattern of the rows, but the examples shown are post blocking and used just 400m of yarn.

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It looks pretty great in grads too.  This one is by Hooking Marvelous and it reminds me of a sunrise or sunset.

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My next shawl will be revealed fairly soon as I did a special one-off pattern for one of the collaboration yarn boxes produced by Unbelievawool, Truly Hooked and Dye Candy.  It uses three different skeins of yarn and is a bit of a departure for me but I am quite pleased with how it has come out!

No turning back…

So, it is really, really happening.  I will have my very first stall at Wool@J13 in May!  It is booked, and I am in the throes of organising my stock.  I will, of course, be bringing my patterns, but I am putting together a sort of pick and mix feel to me stall: pick a pattern, pick a yarn, pick some extras and have them all beautifully wrapped for you, so you have a treat for when you get to open it all again later at home.  Having helped out Sam and Sue on their stands, it seems that a lot of people like to see what is in their kit boxes before they buy them.  So I decided the easiest thing would be to let people build their own kits, and make them as special as possible.

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I have commissioned some yarns from Unbelievawool and Dye Candy, all on a psychological theme, and the testers look pretty special (the ones shown above are from Dye Candy).  I am hoping to ask some of other dyers to contribute as well, but I don’t want to get too carried away for my first show.  But I hope to be able to support some of my other favourite dyers too.

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I have some hand made stitch markers already from Tinkaboo Crafts, and I have found some amazing fabric for project bags which also keeps with the psychological theme.  All brains and neurons! I know they won’t appeal to everyone but I think the fabric looks pretty amazing.  A friend is helping me by making them this time, but I plan to make some myself in future if I can find time (time is my enemy at the moment).

So my extras will be hooks, stitch markers (I hope to get some very special ones made to go with the ones I already have), and WIP bags.  I am trying to source some shawl pins too, and keep toying with the idea of a small amount of things which feature my logo.  What do you think?  Do people like the idea of my little frazzled brain as a badge or a pin?  Let me know!

My Girl Lollipop

I’m going to introduce a new feature, entitled ‘Stashdive Sunday’, and this week I wanted to kick it off by honouring the substantial contribution that Rox Driver has made to my stash, aka Lollipop Guild Yarns.  Based in Nottinghamshire, she has produced some of my most beloved yarn pets and even inspired the creation of the Moo-Ra dress (I still have to finish writing that pattern up!). But the reason I want to honour her today is because it is her birthday, and I wanted to really embarrass her.

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So I am going to restrict myself to some featured beauties from my DK and Aran stash, all dyed by her, and I apologise that my poor lighting really doesn’t do the colours full justice.

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This next one was a custom dye and everyone who has seen the brioche it got used on comments on how fabulous the blue is.  It is multi tonal, both dark and intense and yet bright and vivid all at the same time.  No, I don’t know how that it possible either..

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The next was from one of her yarn boxes, a nod to George’s Marvellous Medicine…

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I have so many more of her yarns in my stash, and I would encourage you to watch her Etsy shop like a hawk.  She also has a pretty good blog which I would recommend just so that you can drool over her yarn boxes as she reveals them.

Thank you Rox.  And Happy Birthday!  And you are still far too young…

Shawl Club – Season 2

So I am now in full on crafting mode again after a little bit of a sabbatical.  Shawl Club Season 2 (“the sequel, just when you thought it was safe to go back into your stash…) has just launched over on the Unbelieva-wool page.  As I type, Shawl 1 is on the floor and on my mannequin, and I am pleased with the pattern as it is one of those easy to do and relatively easy to remember patterns.

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Last season I tried to vary the style and shape of the patterns so that there was something for everyone (the patterns are all available on my Ravelry store if you want to review them). It is quite a challenge to come up with a one skein shawl, especially those that will work with shorter as well as longer length skeins.  The firm favourites last time were the Thank You Shawl and the Shieldmaiden Shawl, but I also have a soft spot for the beaded arches shawlette – more of a scarf than a shawl but there is something special about that beading and it seems to be a popular shawl for gifting.

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This time I have learned a lot from what I felt worked well last time and this time I also want to keep with some easy makes with the occasional challenging element from time to time (but not too often).  I am trying to vary the shapes again, but it seems that you like it when I play with textures and lacework as much as I do, so expect me to revisit those themes again.  I also have an idea for some colour work shawls, and as ever Sam and I are keen to use as many luxury bases as we can.

I hope you enjoy Season 2, and if you haven’t tried it before consider giving it a try.  As ever, I am always here to help if you need me!