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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New Year’s Intentions

Ok, so I don’t really have the resolve for resolutions, but I do have lots of honest intentions.

  1.  Once the January Sales are done, no more yarn buying for the rest of the year.
  2. Reduce the stash by at least 50%.

Yes, that is right, I am going on complete stash lockdown at the end of this month and the plan is to see if I can truly stashbust.  I have a plan to knit lots of socks, both for me and for presents, and I have recently discovered the joy of knitting hats with Aran wool (so fast, and I can get two hats out of a single skein which is a bonus).  Exhibit A – the hat I knitted in a few hours one evening, using Dye Candy yarn and a pattern from the Toft Quarterly Magazine.

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I also need to help to raise funds for my daughter’s school, so lots of making is required there.  That will give me the chance to clear out all my acrylic yarn too, so that will be satisfying to see that go down.

3.  Blog more frequently and more regularly.

This year work has got in the way. I have been too tired to think in the evening, let alone type.  This is going to change.  My working pattern has to change in pretty fundamental ways because how I am working right now is not sustainable.  And I feel that I keep losing momentum every time work pulls me away from this part of what I do.  To achieve this I have to start taking better care of myself.  That one is easier said than done, but tonight I am going with an early bath, blog and then some knitting to motivate myself a bit.  If I can get two or three blogs out during the week, with a longer one at the weekend I think that might be good.  Perhaps introduce some features.  One of my friends has voted for ‘Squish of the Week’ – a random delve into my stash to show off different yarn types and dyers.

4.  Write more patterns.

Ok, so Shawl Club is going into Season 2 in March, but I feel the need to do a wider range of patterns than just shawls.  A mixture of quick makes and more extended projects.  I might even venture into one or two knitting patterns if I am feeling very brave, but that might be a step too far for me.

5. Do a yarn show.

Ok, so this one terrifies me.  Sue talked me into this one.  At the moment I don’t know which show, and it will probably only be one day, and I need to do my sums properly re how to make it work for me.  I love the idea of it, I am just worried that it might be a bit too soon for me, and there would be a huge amount of work required to get my stall elements ready in time. So I am not sure if I can pull this one off, but I am certainly going to look seriously at it.  I just need to sit here and feel a bit sick at the thought of it for a while.

6. Do a book.

Now, I write for a living, so the idea of writing a book doesn’t daunt me, but I haven’t self- produced the whole thing before, so that would be the challenge.  I have two book concepts in my head – one requires more work than the other – but I think I could get the book thing to work with a bit of peer support and some planned leave from work.

So there you go – six of the best.  Let’s see how many I can tick off.  Can I do it?  Should I do it?  Hmm. Let’s see…

Granny Blanket: Part 2

Blog followers will know that recently I started to post the instructions for constructing this granny blanket (the ‘knackered granny blanket’!).

Part 1 covered the instructions for making the five granny squares you need to start off with.  Hopefully by now you have your granny squares made and ready for joining.   To join them together, you will need your turquoise blue yarn (if you are following the colour scheme pictured here).

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Reminder: UK Crochet terms are used throughout. TB refers to a Treble Crochet in UK terminology (DC in US terminology).

Special Stitch: TB3tog.  Yarn over hook (YOH), insert hook in space, YOH and pull up a loop, YOH and pull through first two stitches on hook only (2 loops on hook); yarn over hook (YOH), insert hook in space, YOH and pull up a loop, YOH and pull through first two stitches on hook only (3 loops on hook); yarn over hook (YOH), insert hook in space, YOH and pull up a loop, YOH and pull through first two stitches on hook only (4 loops on hook). Finally, YOH and pull yarn through all stitches on hook.

Instructions:

You are going to work along just two sides of your squares only initially, as shown in the picture at the top of this post.

Row 1:

Take your first square, join your turquoise yarn to a corner space, and chain 4.  Next (chain 1 and 3TB) into each of the next seven chain spaces along, which should take you into the next corner space.  Chain 2 and 3TB into that same corner space so that you are turning the corner.  Then (chain 1 and 3TB) into the next SIX chain spaces.  Chain 1.

Into the next space (which should be your next corner space), work a TB3tog, pick up your next square, select a corner to join into, and then also work a TB3tog into that space.

Next (chain 1 and 3TB) into each of the next seven chain spaces along, which should take you into the next corner space.  Chain 2 and 3TB into that same corner space so that you are turning the corner.  Then (chain 1 and 3TB) into the next SIX chain spaces.  Chain 1. Into the next space (which should be your next corner space), work a TB3tog, pick up your next square, select a corner to join into, and then also work a TB3tog into that space.

Next (chain 1 and 3TB) into each of the next seven chain spaces along, which should take you into the next corner space.  Chain 2 and 3TB into that same corner space so that you are turning the corner.  Then (chain 1 and 3TB) into the next SIX chain spaces. Chain 1. Into the next space (which should be your next corner space), work a TB3tog, pick up your next square, select a corner to join into, and then also work a TB3tog into that space.

Next (chain 1 and 3TB) into each of the next seven chain spaces along, which should take you into the next corner space.  Chain 2 and 3TB into that same corner space so that you are turning the corner.  Then (chain 1 and 3TB) into the next SIX chain spaces.  Chain 1. Into the next space (which should be your next corner space), work a TB3tog, pick up your next square, select a corner to join into, and then also work a TB3tog into that space.

Finally, (chain 1 and 3TB) into each of the next seven chain spaces along, which should take you into the next corner space.  Chain 2 and 3TB into that same corner space so that you are turning the corner.  Then (chain 1 and 3TB) into the next SEVEN chain spaces. Turn.

Row 2:

Chain 4. (3TB and chain 1) into the chain spaces in the row just completed until you reach the first corner, where you will need to work (3TB, chain 2, 3TB) to turn that corner. Chain 1, and (3TB and chain 1) SIX times, and then TB3tog twice into the next two chain spaces where the squares meet each other. Chain 1, and (3TB and chain 1) SIX times until you reach the first corner, where you will need to work (3TB, chain 2, 3TB) to turn that corner. Chain 1, and (3TB and chain 1) SIX times, and then TB3tog twice into the next two chain spaces where the squares meet each other. Chain 1, and (3TB and chain 1) SIX times until you reach the first corner, where you will need to work (3TB, chain 2, 3TB) to turn that corner. Chain 1, and (3TB and chain 1) SIX times, and then TB3tog twice into the next two chain spaces where the squares meet each other. Chain 1, and (3TB and chain 1) SIX times until you reach the first corner, where you will need to work (3TB, chain 2, 3TB) to turn that corner. Chain 1, and (3TB and chain 1) SIX times, and then TB3tog twice into the next two chain spaces where the squares meet each other. Chain 1, and (3TB and chain 1) SIX times until you reach the first corner, where you will need to work (3TB, chain 2, 3TB) to turn that corner. Chain 1, and (3TB and chain 1) SEVEN times. Chain 1 and TB into the Chain 3 at the start of the previous blue row.  Turn.

Row 3:

Chain 4. (3TB and chain 1) into the chain spaces in the row just completed until you reach the first corner, where you will need to work (3TB, chain 2, 3TB) to turn that corner. Chain 1, and (3TB and chain 1) SIX times, and then TB3tog twice into the next two chain spaces where the squares meet each other. Chain 1, and (3TB and chain 1) SIX times until you reach the first corner, where you will need to work (3TB, chain 2, 3TB) to turn that corner. Chain 1, and (3TB and chain 1) SIX times, and then TB3tog twice into the next two chain spaces where the squares meet each other. Chain 1, and (3TB and chain 1) SIX times until you reach the first corner, where you will need to work (3TB, chain 2, 3TB) to turn that corner. Chain 1, and (3TB and chain 1) SIX times, and then TB3tog twice into the next two chain spaces where the squares meet each other. Chain 1, and (3TB and chain 1) SIX times until you reach the first corner, where you will need to work (3TB, chain 2, 3TB) to turn that corner. Chain 1, and (3TB and chain 1) SIX times, and then TB3tog twice into the next two chain spaces where the squares meet each other. Chain 1, and (3TB and chain 1) SIX times until you reach the first corner, where you will need to work (3TB, chain 2, 3TB) to turn that corner. Chain 1, and (3TB and chain 1) SEVEN times. Chain 1 and TB into the 3rd chain in the Chain 4 at the start of the previous row.  Turn.

Row 4:

Chain 4. (3TB and chain 1) into the chain spaces in the row just completed until you reach the first corner, where you will need to work (3TB, chain 2, 3TB) to turn that corner. Chain 1, and (3TB and chain 1) SIX times, and then TB3tog twice into the next two chain spaces where the squares meet each other. Chain 1, and (3TB and chain 1) SIX times until you reach the first corner, where you will need to work (3TB, chain 2, 3TB) to turn that corner. Chain 1, and (3TB and chain 1) SIX times, and then TB3tog twice into the next two chain spaces where the squares meet each other. Chain 1, and (3TB and chain 1) SIX times until you reach the first corner, where you will need to work (3TB, chain 2, 3TB) to turn that corner. Chain 1, and (3TB and chain 1) SIX times, and then TB3tog twice into the next two chain spaces where the squares meet each other. Chain 1, and (3TB and chain 1) SIX times until you reach the first corner, where you will need to work (3TB, chain 2, 3TB) to turn that corner. Chain 1, and (3TB and chain 1) SIX times, and then TB3tog twice into the next two chain spaces where the squares meet each other. Chain 1, and (3TB and chain 1) SIX times until you reach the first corner, where you will need to work (3TB, chain 2, 3TB) to turn that corner. Chain 1, and (3TB and chain 1) SEVEN times. Chain 1 and TB into the 3rd chain in the Chain 4 at the start of the previous row.  Break yarn. Change to next colour of yarn in sequence.

You can now continue the blocks of four stripes until you have a series of stripes as illustrated below:

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You can see in this picture I have already started to complete the stripes on the other side of the blanket, but you will only have one turquoise stripe in yours at this stage. Once you have got to this point, I will post the instructions on how to complete the other side of the blanket in Part 3.

If you get stuck, leave me a comment and I will be happy to help.