Gingerbread Man Pattern

I used to love making gingerbread dough when my daughter was little, Rolling it out, cutting the shapes and then best of all we would go to town with sparkly sugar balls, sugar strands and icing. These crochet versions might be a “healthy” option, but they still give you lots of opportunities to decorate and embellish. Raid your button tin, use up all those oddments of ric rac and ribbon. Go wild and fill your house with happy smiling gingerbread families! This is another free pattern, as usual a pdf is available on Love Crochet and Ravelry and I would be thrilled if you share photos of your makes using the hashtag #grannycoolchristmas.

Happy making my crochet friends x

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A Granny Cool Christmas

20151013_120321Well, it’s the 1st of December and with no apologies I’m launching into a full month of festive crochet! I love this time of year. I Welcome the dark afternoons as an opportunity to light the fire, wrap up in snug blankets and crochet.  While others will tell you this time of year makes them glum and tempted to hunker down and wish for spring I am full of excitement. Early morning walks in the forest are filled with birdsong and in the garden we welcome the return of winter birds and the beautiful colours of tree stems and berries.

I fill my house with nature finds. Fir cones, feathers and seed heads. And, with the 1st December, out comes the advent calendar and a growing collection of festive decorations. This year I wanted to share some of my favourites with you. They are all quick and most are very simple, so that even a beginner can manage them. I will try to post a few step photos along the way too. Most are free and a few are sold on Love Crochet or Ravelry. Anyway, you can find the crochet star pattern on Love Crafts or on Payhip.

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Today’s pattern is a very simple star.  You don’t need to stop at one or two – a lovely garland can be made by stitching your finished stars to a length of ribbon. Or you can stitch a hanging loop to the top point and hang them on your tree. If you’re feeling a little bit nervous, I hope the collage of step photos below will make the steps clearer – you’ll be seeing the stars again in a few days time, along with the holly in another new pattern.

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Use sparkly yarn, festive shades or plain white. Have fun and experiment. Don’t forget to share your makes on my Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #grannycoolchristmas.

Welcome Back Pookie Pals

Pookies in Crochet Now.jpgI have always had a secret (or not so secret) obsession with crocheting cute, tiny things. It’s often a way of destressing after a difficult or complicated design project. Sometimes I just get the urge to crochet something that is quick and allows for some creativity.

That’s how the Pookie Pals were born. The original template patterns (for pig, bear and bunny) appeared way back in issue 9 of Crochet Now magazine and the plan was to add to the collection with embellishments and new animals. I submitted drawings for foxes, bears, rabbits and even a festive Rudolph.  But, as is often the way with publishing, a new editor, new book commissions and life in general meant that they never appeared.

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Now the book is done and dusted, I find myself returning to those cute crochet Pookies (names for the book character). Last week I tried out an updated Pookie Bear, which even Mr T agreed was a “cutie”, even though he thought it looked like he was wearing a cyclist’s bib shorts (the man is obsessed with all things bike!)

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In my mind, there are at least a dozen of these Pookie Pals and as a little project for the coming year I will be making and sharing a new one every month.

Do you enjoy crocheting cute, tiny things? Would you be interested in the patterns for these as they appear? I’ll pop the original Pookie Pals pattern online shortly, if anyone reading this would like an advance copy to before it goes on sale, send me a message and I’ll pick a few of you at random to get a free copy before it goes on sale. The pattern is written in UK crochet terms, suitable for anyone who has mastered double crochet, increasing, decreasing,  working in rounds and feels confident to follow a written pattern without a photo tutorial. Look out for Pookie FOx next month – he’s already on my hook!

Happy hooking xxx

New Free Pattern

UPDATE JANUARY 2020

This pattern is being updated and will be available again in the Spring.

I can never resist a baby in a cute hat – and this is certainly a cutie – and so easy!

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The Parker baby hat was published in Craftseller in 2013 and proved very popular because it was so quick to make! The original design used Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, which I know lots of knitters and crocheters love because it’s so soft and can be machine washed. I’ve also made versions in 4 ply yarns and you can swap in your own favourite with few problems (just remember to swatch or check your tension). The version below shows the second size (6 – 12 months) and  was made using Debbie Bliss Eco Baby, which is a great alternative if you prefer a non animal fibre. It’s 100% organic cotton and has Fairtrade accreditation, so it is suitable for vegans and ethical makers. Eco Baby has the same meterage and tension as Baby Cashmerino, so it can be substituted for any Baby Cashmerino pattern.

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I love Debbie Bliss, not just her beautiful designs and her gorgeous yarns , but her commitment to promoting knitwear and crochet as wearable and desirable. I have several of her books on my shelf and one of my most exciting yarny memories is meeting her in person. She has a long standing relationship  with Knit For Peace and is involved in several local community projects near her home. She always comes across as a genuinely warm and friendly person, the kind of knitter you would be happy to find yourself sitting next to at knit night!

So, I was very pleased when Love Craft announced that Debbie Bliss yarns would be available on its LoveKnitting and LoveCrochet online stores. Yes, of course I would prefer it to be available in my local yarn store and other outlets. But, when Designer Yarns went into liquidation last year, many of us thought it might mean the end of the Debbie Bliss brand and that would have been a real shame.

Over the years, I have designed several projects using Debbie Bliss yarns and for the next few months they will be made available as free pdf patterns online. The first of these is the Parker Crochet Baby Hat. You can download it from Ravelry or LoveCrochet today.

In other news, 200 More Crochet Stitches is now available for pre – order. Sadly it won’t be available in time for gifting at Christmas, but I do have a special thank you planned for those of you who pre order. Watch out for more details soon.

 

Free Pattern Friday: All Buttoned Up Mittens

UPDATE JANUARY 2020

This pattern is no longer free. It can be purchased via the link from Ravelry. It will make an appearance at some point during 2020 as my “Friday Free Pattern” – look out for that on my Instagram stories, Twitter or my Facebook Page.

This week I wanted to put the spotlight on an old favourite. As we move into Autumn, these simple wrist warmers can be very useful. They can easily be stuffed in a bag or a pocket. Let’s be honest, the buttons are the real heroes of this project. It may take a bit of time to sew them on, but they do add a stunning finishing touch to a project designed for beginners. You can use any 4 ply or fingering yarn (please take the time to check your tension as it can be so disappointing to find your wrist warmers are too tight or too baggy). Each mitten uses about 100m of yarn and you’ll need 14 buttons.

Last autumn, I made myself a new pair using the Fibre Co.’s gorgeous Cumbria Fingering. It’s no secret, the Fibre Co. continue to produce some of my favourite yarns. I love the quality and the continuing commitment to natural fibres. This yarn is a blend of wool and mohair and is very robust, while still soft and comfortable next to the skin.

You can download the pattern from  Ravelry

 

Free Pattern: Crochet Flowers

mavric flowers 6Today I’m off to teach a crochet flower class at the Ditzy Rose Makery in Tattenhall, Cheshire. I’m sharing the pattern we’re going to use here, so even if you can’t be there in person you can join in the crochet flower fun!

This pattern first appeared in Inside Crochet magazine (issue 89), this simple motif has so many uses, stitch them to brooch backs or hair clips. Sew lots together to make bangles or embellish a favourite sweater.

Have fun and happy crocheting!

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Crochet Flowers (UK crochet terms)

For small flowers use 4 ply yarn and 3mm hook. For larger flowers choose thicker yarn and a  larger hook).

Make 6ch, join with a sl st to make a ring.

Rnd 1: 10dc into ring, sl st into first dc.

Rnd 2: 5tr into next dc, (sl st in next dc, 5tr in next dc) four times, finish with a sl st in same place as sl st on rnd 1.

Fasten off yarn. Weave in ends.

Leaf

Make 8ch.

Rnd 1: *1dc in second ch from hk, 1 htr, 1 tr, 2tr in next ch, 1tr, 1htr, 1dc in last ch **, 1ch. Do not turn, work into the underside of foundation ch from * to **, sl st into next st. Fasten off yarn. Weave in ends.

If desired, small running stitches can be added to each leaf to imitate veins (see photos as a guide).

Finishing:

Sew buttons or beads to the centre of your flowers and arrange on your chosen brooch back or hairclip (use photos for inspiration). Stitch in place using a needle and cotton thread.

Photo credit: Mavric Photography for Tailormade Publishing

 

Granny Squares Rock!

The Rambler’s Granny Square Scarf

Yesterday was “International Granny Square Day”, you didn’t know granny squares had their own “day”? Well everything has it’s own day in the spot light  these days and so it’s no surprise someone decided to celebrate the humble granny. (Check Suregal27 ‘s Instagram feed for more background and pictures). Even though I learned to crochet as a young child, I didn’t make my first granny square until well into my 40’s. I always thought they were garish, just for blankets and not really my thing at all. Now I love my grannies and wear this tank top “all” the time!

I could easily fill a book (several books) with some of my favourite granny square projects. Luckily I don’t need to write a book, because Sarah London, Susan Pinner and Laura Strutt (among others) have beaten me to it, revealing the multitude of projects you can make using this basic technique. Over the years I’ve been asked to design lots of projects for books and magazine using the granny motif and it’s still the most popular of my workshops. There have been cushions, blankets and stool covers. I’ve tried to show that granny squares can be more than just a way to use up all those garish, clashing scraps in your stash!

Granny square pot holders for Homemaker magazine

Yesterday reminded me that it’s time we celebrated the granny again (after all, grannies are cool!) and so I want to start sharing some ideas that go beyond the usual blankets, cushions, hot water bottle covers and tea cosies that you can find online.

I’m going to give you permission to get playful and creative. Think about your favourite colour schemes and design aesthetic (are you boho, Scandi, vintage or just a magpie like me). We’re going to free our  scraps and make lovely things for ourselves and our homes. The gorgeous baby blanket (pictured left) was made using a palette of pale grey, blue and cream. The result is a modern, stylish and practical baby gift.

You can already find some of my designs online and in my books (shameless plug: “Crochet: Learn it, Love It” * has a whole section of step by step photos and instructions for making granny squares, hexagons and triangles). There are some fabulous tutorials and videos showing you how to make a granny square online, or find a local class. I’ll be running a few granny square classes in the autumn, here in Cheshire.

Find the instructions for this super bright cushion here on Granny Cool

Right, let’s get started. Dive into your stash, find some pretty colours. The next few weeks are going to be all about the grannies! To get you started, I’ve put together a Pinterest board, called Granny Squares Rock. It’s full of photos and links to some amazing granny square projects, and you can also find some of my patterns on Ravelry and Love Knitting.

let’s start with the  instructions for making a basic granny square cushion . You’ll need to be able to crochet a granny square, so if you don’t know how to make one and don’t have access to a book or magazine with instructions, you might want to look at this step by step guide to crocheting a granny square on Helen Free’s blog. The instructions are for a cushion made using chunky wool. You can use any weight of yarn and an appropriate size hook – you’ll just need to work more rounds to fit your cushion pad. Once you’ve made a cushion, you can make a blanket, just by working more rounds. Next week I’ll show you how to make smaller motifs and join them as you work to make a snuggly scarf, a wrap or a blanket.

Happy crafting x

 

  • Also published in the UK with the title “The Woman’s Weekly Guide to Crochet”).

 

 

All the Secret Projects

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Since December I’ve been working hard on new commissions for a publication due out later this year. It’s really frustrating as I’ve sat at my desk every day making some rather beautiful samples and writing patterns, but because of my contract I’ve not been able to share a single photo (not even sneaky yarn teasers). I do have a few designs coming up in issue 89 of Inside Crochet, but in the mean time here’s a reminder of a great free pattern I wrote a few years back. It’s the perfect gift bag for all those Mothers day treats you have planned and it’s easy to customise if you need to make it larger. I like to make these for friends and fill them with goodies such as bubble baths, chocolates or yarny treats. It’s so much nicer to make the packaging part of the gift. You can download the pattern from Love Crochet, or if you hop over to Ravelry you can get more inspiration from some of the lovely projects makers have shared.

20140220_102902Also perfect for Mothers Day, or just to hang on the door and welcome spring is this gorgeous heart wreath. You can also use the flower to make pretty corsages or a cute pin cushion. You can find all the details here.

 

 

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How to Crochet Mistletoe

Crochet Mistletoe free pattern
Photo Credit: Andrea Ellison

It’s five years since I first published this pattern and still I haven’t been able to improve on it. I thought it was too early to start thinking about festive or “Holiday” crochet patterns, but this week “how to crochet mistletoe” is my most popular pin on Pinterest! So, here it is again, complete with the original photos! For those of you who keep asking why I write patterns when you find photo tutorials so much easier, this will make you happy (I hope!!)

How to crochet mistletoe
Photo Credit: Andrea Ellison

If  you have 5 minutes to spare, some green yarn and a crochet hook, you can make this – really – even if you only have the most basic crochet skills. Last year I used these to adorn my home made Christmas cards, this year it has been transformed into a rustic  style garland which will soon be hanging in my kitchen window.

Here’s how: (note – I write in UK crochet terms)

With any weight yarn and a suitable crochet hook to make a firm piece of fabric (I used Rowan Pure Wool  Double Knitting and a 3.5 mm crochet hook for these photos, but it works equally well with an aran weight or chunky yarn you could even try holding your yarn double and see if you prefer the result).

Chain 9, making sure you leave a long tail when you make your slip knot.

Turn, skip the first chain and work a treble into the second chain from the hook. Work a treble into each of the next 5 chains.

Work 1 slip stitch into the last 3 chains.

Using the long tail from the slip knot and yarn, chain 3, fasten off and tie a knot. Cut yarn.

Now make a second in exactly the same way. Sew the two leaves together and stitch 3 small beads in place as berries. Now sit back admire your festive endeavours! I can’t wait to see what you all do with them …

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The Chevron Scarf (again)

new zig zag scarf imageOver on Instagram this week, crocheters have been sharing their favourite scarf patterns. As always I “had” to post a picture of my Chevron Scarf. I know, you’ve all seen this plenty of times, but I love the simplicity. I often pick up skeins of self patterning yarn, intending to knit socks or try out a new crochet idea. Invariably, I end up making a scarf (or I sew the ends together to make a cowl. Self patterning, colour pooling and variegated yarns can be “problematic” for crocheters. Often they are factory made with knitters in mind, and few indie dyers consider crocheters when coming up with their gorgeous colours and patterns. The nature of crochet stitch construction makes it hard to replicate the repeating patterns that look so great on a pair of knitted socks. But, there are a few “tricks” you can try to get the best out of these yarns.

Try crocheting in the round. Space half treble and woven (sometimes called linen) stitch can be quite effective too. Try alternating two balls of yarn (this is particularly effective with multi coloured yarns such as the ones Noro is famous for) or try striping with two rows on patterned yarn followed by two rows of plain coloured yarn. The best advice I can give you, is try lots of yarns, experiment with different patterns or  techniques and don’t be afraid to rip out your work and try again. Use oddments and left over yarn to test out ideas.

If the worst happens and nothing seems to work, you can always try motifs. Not only can multi coloured motifs look amazing, but you can also cut the yarn to achieve a different colour on each round. This is not “cheating”, it’s simply a great way to get the best out of your yarn and it’s an easy way to produce many coloured motif projects where all the colours “work” together.

So there you are, a few ideas to try. Remember, if all else fails, there’s always the chevron scarf to come back to!

Sorry, the chevron scarf pattern is currently unavailable.

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Free Pattern for Wool Week

 

ear-warmers-2This week I’m celebrating British Wool with a free pattern. These cute ear muffs first appeared in Inside Crochet and I just fell in love with Britt Spring’s beautiful photography and Claire Montgomerie’s styling. They captured the fun but practical design perfectly.

ear-muffsI chose Erika Knight’s British Blue Wool for these. Not just because it’s grown, spun and processed in Yorkshire, but because it’s so soft and colour palette available is beautiful. The pattern is suitable for beginners and uses just 2 balls of wool.

You can find the pattern for free on Ravelry, and hopefully also on Love Crochet, although I make no promises there – after a dozen or so error messages I am really not sure if the price has been changed to free or not – anyone who has a problem getting the pattern for free on Love Crochet, just message me. I really am trying to get to grips with the Love Crochet and Love Knitting platforms, especially as they have kindly featured my designs on their social media several times recently- but boy it’s not as easy as Ravelry, if anyone has any user tips I’d love to hear them.

I hope you enjoy making these – don’t forget to check out your local “pound shop” or dollar store for ear muffs – although the pattern does give hints for making your own.

Happy UK Wool Week x

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From the Archive: Wallace Washcloths

Wallace Washcloths 1.jpgThis one is a real blast from the past! One of my very first published designs, these appeared in Issue 34 of Inside Crochet magazine. I had completely forgotten about them, until I unearthed the original samples in a box under the bed (never be surprised by what lurks under the bed)! I’ve decided to share the original patterns with you here for free. They are very simple,  and please don’t stress about little things like matching correct yarn,  tension or exact  hook size. Of course these things matter, but in the great scheme of things, a slight difference in tension won’t make a great deal of difference, it might affect the amount of yarn you use or the drape, but as you’ll most likely be diving into your stash and then soaking these in hot soapy water, don’t worry too much.

These are ideal for swatching new projects, trying out new stitch patterns and they make perfect gifts. I like to use an organic 100% cotton for babies or facial use, but for the kitchen I’ll use any 100% cotton. In fact, you can even buy “dishcloth” cotton, sold just for this purpose. The yarn used for these cloths might seem a little over luxurious for a humble washcloth (85% cotton, 10% silk and 5% cashmere), but they have washed and worn so well I’ve been very pleased with them and would use it again. I had the yarn in my stash, left over from a baby blanket and this was the perfect way to use it up.

Today, my pattern writing is a little more sophisticated, but it’s still good enough to reproduce here. I was so proud when it first appeared in print and so excited to see the photos in Inside Crochet. They were taken by my talented friend and “tame photographer” Andrea Ellison.

I often make these as gifts. But, over the years I’ve learned to add a little note, reassuring the recipient they can (and are meant to be used). They do make perfect photo props, draped over the side of a Butlers sink or arranged on a scrubbed pine table, but there’s no fun in things that can’t be used or enjoyed is there!

If you do make a washcloth, perhaps you’d be kind enough to share a photo on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Or, if you’re on Ravelry, clicking the heart button or adding the project to your queue is much appreciated.

Happy hooking x

Wallace Washcloth Pattern by Tracey Todhunter

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Pattern is written in UK crochet terms.

Approximate finished size: 18cm/7in x 18cm/7in  square

Original yarn used: Debbie Bliss Bella●50g/95m/105yd ●Colours: Pink, shade number 09, Blue, shade number 13, Ecru, shade number 21 (one ball of each)

Tension: Tension is not critical to this project, your work should drape slightly and row count can be adjusted to make a square. Work 30st and 30 rows in  single loop pattern to measure 18x18cm or 7x7in using 4mm hook, or size required to obtain tension. Each washcloth needs approximately 50m of DK cotton, a full ball of recommended yarn will make one washcloth plus trim for a second. Left over yarn can be used to make striped washcloths.

Hooks and notions:  4mm crochet hook. Tapestry needle to weave in ends

Abbreviations:

dc: double crochet

dtr: double treble crochet

dcblo: double crochet into back loop only

dcflo: double crochet into front loop only

rs: right side

ws: wrong side

Special stitches:

Single loop:

Row 1: (rs) 1ch, dc into second ch from hook, 1dcflo into each st to last st, 1dc, turn

Row 2: (ws) 1ch, 1dc, 1dcblo into each stitch to last st, 1dc, turn

Row 3: 1ch, 1dc, 1dcflo into each stitch to last st, 1dc, turn.

Repeat Rows 2 and 3 for pattern.

 Mock Bobble:

Row 1 (ws) 1ch, dc into second ch from hook, *dtr into next st, dc into next, repeat from * to end. Turn

Row 2 (rs): 1ch,  dc to end, turn

Rows 3 and 4: Repeat Row 2

Row 5: 1ch, dc in first dc * 1 dtr in next dc, 1 dc, repeat from * to end. Turn.

Repeat Rows 2 – 5 for pattern.

Single Loop Washcloth (photographed in Pink and Ecru)

With 4mm hook  make 31 ch.

Set up Row: 1dc into second ch from hook, 1dc into each ch to end, turn (30dc)

Work single loop pattern until work is roughly square (about 28 rows), finish with Row 2.

Edging: Work one row of double crochet, at the end of the row, do not turn.  1ch and turn to work 30dc evenly along side of washcloth,1ch at corner, work 30dc evenly across bottom (working into underside of foundation chain), 1ch and work 30dc evenly along second side,. Fasten off.

Weave in all ends

Mock Bobble Washcloth (photographed in blue)

With 4mm hook and Blue, make 32 ch, turn.

Set up row: 1dc into second ch from hook, 1dc into each ch to end, turn (31dc)

Work Mock Bobble pattern until work is roughly square (about 28 rows), finish with Row 4.

Edging: As for Single Loop Washcloth

Weave in all ends.

Refer to ball band for washing and pressing instructions.

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