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Living Alpacaly Ever After

Now, of all the beautiful, natural fibres out there, I’ll let you into a secret: Alpaca is my favourite. So indulge me while I tell you a little story about a lovely lass, her beautiful alpacas and a plan for world domination through yarn…

Any yarn enthusiast will tell you, the process of getting from fleece to yarn you can actually knit with is a long and expensive process (that’s why decent wool and natural fibres cost more than cheap, factory produced acrylic). But, it’s so worth it to knit or crochet with beautiful yarn produced by lovely people. The plan is to process the alpaca fibre and sell kits with ingenious pattern so that you can make your own cuddly alpaca. They look so cute (click here for some images on the @alpacaly twitter feed)

I may be a little biased, these Alpacas live just up the road from my Mother in Law at Armathwaite Hall, I’ve often admired them. Their owner has kept me wildly entertained with her stories on facebook, her tales of life in what I would argue was one of the nicest tea rooms in Keswick, not forgetting her big adventure to the Manchester Christmas markets. How could I not support a plan to produce yarn?

So, here’s the thing. If you’re like me and you like to live simply, buy local and help nice people, take a look at their kickstarter page and consider making a small investment. Or maybe you just like the idea of knitting your own alpaca from British yarn to start a flock of your own (same thing, go invest).

If you do, me (and the alpacas) will be very happy.

 

 

Time to Celebrate

Issue 64 of Inside Crochet is now on sale, as always I cannot choose my favourite project from this issue, Claire Montgomerie’s Aster Wrap is beautiful (I’m loving the colour).

Aster Wrap, photo credit; Lucy Williams for Tailormade Publishing

Can’t you just imagine a summer evening, watching the sun go down with this elegant wrap covering your shoulders?

I’m also thrilled to say that I have a feature in this issue on the subject of crochet celebrations. The set has been beautifully photographed by Leanne Dixon and Claire (the editor) has styled it beautifully.  Along with the patterns for garland, bunting and little heart shaped “cake pops”, you’ll find lots of advice for hosting your own crochet party and tips for getting everyone involved in making a truly handmade celebration. Here’s a few images to get your creative juices going. Look out for Issue 64 in the shops now.

Photo credit: Leanne Dixon for Tailormade Publishing
Photo credit: Leanne Dixon for Tailormade Publishing
Photo credit: Leanne Dixon for Tailormade Publishing
Photo credit: Leanne Dixon for Tailormade Publishing
Photo Credit: Leanne Dixon for Tailormade Publishing
Photo Credit: Leanne Dixon for Tailormade Publishing

New Patterns for Sale

bobble wreathI have uploaded some new patterns to my Ravelry store. They are suitable for beginners. Most of the patterns are “bundles”, in other words, you get more than one pattern included (for example, the desk set has patterns for pencil pot, ipad cover, iphone cosy, flower garland and coasters). here are a few pics to show you what’s on offer this month: I know this brightly coloured bauble wreath will be popular as it’s so simple and makes a great portable project (the baubles are  made individually and then glued on).

This kitchen set has the pattern for chilli string, egg cosies and pot holders

The Rainbow Desk Set would make an ideal pattern for a teenager

A Vintage Style Bedroom Set

All the patterns will be for sale in my Etsy shop by the end of the week. Also for sale:

Crochet Doily Rug pattern

Pretty Flower Pin Cushion

This isn’t a new pattern, I’m slowly moving patterns over from Baking and Making and this has always been one of my favourites. The flower is the same one I used for  the  Crochet Baby Hat I designed for Craftseller magazine a few years back, it’s such a versatile little pattern it can be used for almost anything. To make the pin cushion, you’ll need to stuff a tea cup with  a small sachet filled with hollow fibre toy stuffing or a small shop bought pin cushion. You’ll have to use your judgement about how many flowers you’ll need to make to fill your tea cup. I use mine as a pin cushion, but it could equally be used as a centrepiece for afternoon tea (very vintage).

crochet flower

I also like to sew a small brooch bar onto the back of a flower and a couple of leaves to make a pretty spring corsage and I’ll be teaching a class at Nettle in June for anyone who would like to try crochet. For details, click on the Workshops tab above  (or click here).

Flower Pattern:

With 3.75mm hook and chosen yarn make 27 ch

Foundation Row: 1 dc into 2nd ch from hook, dc to end of row. (26 dc)

Row 1: 3 ch, 4 tr into 4th ch from hook, ss in next dc, [5 tr in next dc, ss in next dc] 4 times, [ 5 htr in next dc, ss in next dc] 5 times, [5 dc in next dc, ss in next dc] 4 times.

Fasten off yarn leaving a long tail for sewing up. Roll petals into a rose shape and stitch securely using long tail.

Leaf

With 3.75mm hook and chosen yarn make 8ch

Round 1: *1dc into 2nd ch from hook, 1htr in next ch, 1tr in next, 2dtr in next, 1tr in next st, 1 htr in next, 1dc in last st**, 1ch. Do not turn, work into under side of foundation ch from * to ** ss into next st.

Fasten off yarn and weave in all ends.

Pattern is written in UK crochet terms.

NB: This flower pattern started life as the “Tatton Corsage” designed for Fibre and Clay in 2011, it then appeared in Craftseller as a decoration on a hat, then as a wreath for Valentine’s day. It has so many uses and it’s appeared in several magazines in several different disguises. This pretty heart wreath is one of my favourites! Just bend a piece of wire into a heart shape. Thread on the flowers (made as above, I made about 18), fasten the ends of the wire and tie a bow at the centre .

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Free Patterns for Easter

2013-03-29 09.59.08My garden is full of spring bulbs, the dawn chorus has begun to wake us and Mr T has brought the wooden garden furniture out of hibernation. This can only mean one thing: Easter is almost upon us.  These tiny Easter eggs are made in just a few minutes and are ideal for using up your stash. They look fabulous strung with ribbon from tree branches, added to spring display or just for a bit of Easter whimsy! You can buy polystyrene eggs in most craft shops.

Pattern:

Each egg uses up a tiny amount of yarn. I used scraps of dk and 4 ply mercerised cotton and a 3mm hook.

Make 4ch, join to form a ring and work in spirals as follows:

Round 1: 6 dc into ring

Round 2: 2 dc in each dc (12dc)

Work in a spiral until the cover fits 2/3 of the way down the egg (working from pointy end downwards).

Round 3:  (1 dc, 2dc) to end of round. Work 2 rounds without increasing. Slip the cosy on the egg. Fasten off yarn and draw the tail through the last round of stitches. You can easily adapt this to any size egg.

I also discovered that if you use pure wool (not superwash), they felt quite successfully, giving all kinds of opportunities to embellish with a bit of needle felting or freehand embroidery.

If tiny eggs aren’t your thing, maybe this little fella is more your style?

bunny egg cosyThis pattern is amde in a spiral, do not turn and do nut join each round with a slip stitch.

Using dk cotton and a 3.5mm hook make an adjustable ring, make 6dc into the ring.

Round1: 2 dc in each dc. 12 dc

Round 2: [1 dc, 2 dc in next dc] 6 times. 18 dc

Round 3: [2 dc, 2 dc in next dc] 6 times. 24 dc

Continue in dc rounds until your cosy is your desired length. Fasten off yarn, weave in ends.

Make two ears by making 5 ch, 2 dc in 2nd ch from hook, dc to end of chain, Fasten off.

Sew the ears to the top of the cosy. Use tiny beads for eyes and a nose and small lengths of black thread for whiskers. With a few little tweak, he becomes a little Easter chick (just make in yellow, sew the ears to the sides as wings).

chick egg cosy 2

NB: Pattern written in UK crochet terms.

Fabulous Bright Cushions

20150322_145423My new chunky cushions have been very popular this week. I am just in love with these colours and on a 6mm hook they can be made in just a couple of hours.

The wool is from Herdy and is 100% British Wool (yes – “properly British” – from sheep  reared and sheared right here in the UK), Herdy are based in Cumbria and make the cutest collection of products in addition to their range of wool. I first met them at Woolfest and loved them! No, the wool base isn’t Herdwick, but the wool is sourced in the UK and dyed in a vibrant range of colours. Some of the cushions are trimmed in undyed Herdwick (donated from my Mother in Law’s stash). You could say these are  a truly Cumbrian product, made in Cockermouth, with wool from a Cumbrian company and trimmed with local  wool. That’s not a bad provenance eh?

20150322_145002I will be releasing the patterns for some of the cushions  shortly. But, the “Big Granny” is easy to make for yourself without a pattern and I’ve written the instructions below so you can make one for yourself.

20150322_144943 Just in case you need a reminder of granny square basics, I’ve linked to a new video I found recently on youtube which is easy to follow (and uses UK crochet terms)*. Most learn to crochet books include a tutorial, check out your local library for books such as Emma Varnam’s “Learn to Crochet”, or Dorling Kindersley “The Complete Guide to Crochet” (shameless plug – you’ll find a couple of granny square projects by me in there!)

To make your own cushion:

You’ll need a 6mm hook and Herdy Wool in your favourite colours (if you want to make a plain or two colour  square you’ll need two balls), a 35cm cushion pad and a couple of hours.

  1. Follow your favourite granny square pattern until the square is just smaller than your cushion pad (that took 10 rounds for me). Fasten off yarn and weave in all your ends.  For a larger cushion, just make more rounds.
  2. Join the two squares with a double crochet seam around three sides (worked with wrong sides together). Slip in the cushion pad and complete the seam around the last side.

And that’s it, a simple cushion which will give any home the “Wow” factor! I also made some larger cushions by adding an extra round.

If you can’t crochet, don’t despair, the full range of cushions is for sale in Gallery Artemis, Main St, Cockermouth and they will be available in my Etsy shop very soon.

 Links

*You can find Sarah Shrimpton’s video on how to make a granny square here. (A word of advice – despite the current trend to use a magic loop for all crochet in the round; for homewares and items which will get a lot of wear and tear (such as blankets and cushions) I still recommend the chain ring. It’s easy to make, secure and won’t work undone! If the worst does happen, Claire Montgomerie walks you through the perfect granny square repair here).

You can buy Herdy Wool online from Baa Baa Brighouse, the friendliest online retailer and delivery is super speedy!.

Circle in A Square Motif

This is one of the classic crochet motifs and one of my favourites. I wrote a simple version of the pattern for Craftseller magazine, way back in September 2012, and it’s one I use quite often.  You can easily join this motif to make blankets or even a small cushion like the one I designed for Craftseller.

I know that not everyone finds it easy to follow a written pattern (but persevere it’s a skill which opens a whole world of crochet patterns to you), so I was really happy to see fellow designer Vicki Brown had made a tutorial for this classic motif over on her blog. Even better is the fabulous little time lapse video she posted on her facebook page. Pop over and take a look I really admire Vicki’s designs and love reading her blog.

Don’t forget , if you’re looking for more crochet inspiration you can click on the free patterns tab here for more ideas and simple makes.

 

 

Granny Cool Loves…

House of Holland Granny Square Scarf

Granny squares – they never go out of style! A few years back House of Holland wowed the catwalk with their amazing granny inspired collection, including a granny square scarf  (the kind most of us crocheters have at least one of). Sarah London (another lover of the granny square wrote this piece about the collection and I’ve noticed several “instagrammers” recently sporting their own interpretation of this classic fashion accessory. Even the fabulous shop Tea and Crafting picked up the story this week!

My own favourite interpretation of the Granny Scarf is Claire Montgomerie’s Granny Square Cowl (which pre dates the House of Holland collection), but is ideal if you’re looking for a pattern to make your own. If you’ve never made a granny square, there are dozens of crochet tutorials online, check out Sarah London for a pattern and lots more inspiration.

Granny Cowl by Claire Montgomerie for Inside Crochet