Sunday, 25 May 2014

Meet Charles


Hello there! This is Charles, a cheeky monkey. Actually, he's a prototype monkey for now. I have lots of ideas about how to improve the pattern, but he did insist on having his photo taken, even though his legs haven't been attached yet. He's a very impatient monkey, and the rather thin yarn I used to make him with is making me rather impatient too!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Fun with felt


My mobile phone, which I've had since 2008 (yes, that's six years ago) has been on the blink for a while. It couldn't find the phone network any more, and in order to send texts from my home, I had to hold it out of the window.

So I decided to treat myself to a new phone and I found a reasonably-priced phone that suits me fine. And once I had the phone, it needed a case, of course. In the end I made three. Mine is the one on the left with a rabbit on it. The idea for the design came from the drawings I'd made for my crochet rabbit pattern. The middle design is for my husband. And the one on the right I made for a friend at work.

Felt is such a wonderful material. It's easy to cut, it doesn't fray, it's thick and soft. I've even received some orders for custom phone cases for my friends and colleagues. 

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

It's been a while...

I've not written on this blog for a while, in fact I've been pretty quiet everywhere. But I've been busy too. Here's a little run-down of what I've been up to.


First of all, here's what I made with the yarn I talked about in my last post. These squares, vest and baby sleeping bags have already gone to South Africa where they'll keep AIDS orphans warm. If you want to know how to do the same thing, check out www.knit-a-square.com.



For many years now, I've been promising myself a Kenwood Chef and now I have one! I finally found a good bargain, which includes the meat mincer and the liquidiser, and compared to some other well-known more colourful models, this one was not expensive. You may notice a little creature up there...


Well he wasn't alone! I had rather an invasion of baby turtles! This is a free pattern on Ravelry. You need to be a member of Ravelry to obtain it, but that's something I highly recommend, and it's free!



And before I leave, here are some goodies I've made using my new Kenwood. Yummy yummy!

Next time I'll show you what else I've been making. Not crochet for a change... come back soon!


Sunday, 9 March 2014

Why I crochet for charity


I picked up a great bargain in our local Red Cross charity shop the other day. For the meagre sum of 5 euros, I came out with a big bag full of brand new yarn. Red, pink and white yarn, with labels still intact, 34 balls in all. My, was I happy! I smiled all the way back home, and then set to work.

As soon as I saw that yarn, I knew exactly what I was going to do with it. I'd be crocheting items for Knit-a-Square. KAS, as it's also known, is a charity based in South Africa that collects knitted and crochet squares and sews them into blankets for AIDS orphans throughout South Africa.

There are many associations and organisations around the world that accept crocheted goods. Many of them are based in the US, but I hail from Europe and hadn't seen the same level of interest from hospitals, care homes and charities over here.

But why did I choose Knit-a-Square? Well, like most things, it was a chain of events that led me there. It's almost as if Knit-a-Square chose me.

Early in 2012, a close friend of mine who knows how much I love to crochet sent me a link via Facebook. It was a short article about a group of women in Denmark who knit blankets, hats and clothes for babies and children in Tanzania. At the same time, at work we had started getting busy preparing a huge congress that would be held at the end of 2012 in Durban, South Africa.

I knew I would be leaving for South Africa a few months later. And I decided to have a look on the Internet if there were any charities there to which I could donate some crocheted goods. A quick search for "crochet charity South Africa" ensued, and the first link was, yes, Knit-a-Square.

To quote from their website: "It is estimated that there are 14.8 million orphans in sub-Saharan Africa. 1.9 million live in South Africa.
Many of these children are AIDS orphans or have been abandoned. Many live in great poverty in informal settlements. Some head up families of their siblings together with other children. Some live alone, without shelter, in hills and dumps around the cities.The knit-a-square project was started as a family project in 2008 and is now a world-wide community numbering an estimated 12,000 people in 54 countries round the world.
Together we work hard to help warm and comfort the children and we'd greatly value your contribution to this knitting project for the AIDS orphans of southern Africa. We ask the world's knitters and crocheters to send 8"/20 cm squares to South Africa, where we have them sewn into blankets for the children."

Local charities ensure the children are cared for, and Knit-a-Square works towards keeping them warm and happy. A group of KAS volunteers in South Africa collects the squares that are sent from all over the world and sews them into blankets for the children. KAS then deals with distribution. There are some beautiful photos on their website of the distributions, showing the children wrapped in their blankets. KAS also accepts donations of knitted and crochet vests, hats, pull-overs and baby sleeping bags, as well as toys, socks, gloves and stationery for the children. You can also make a financial donation via the website.

Why crochet for charity? After all, crochet can be a lucrative business. There is a market for patterns, and crocheted goods sell well. I make and design crochet toys, and even though my patterns are available for free, I do sell a few finished articles, mostly so that I can buy more yarn to make even more. Some people have made crochet their business and make their lives from it.

But I wanted to help. And I believe that's what drives people to crochet for charity. Here in the western world, we hardly ever see poverty. Of course there are people who are less well off than others, but a vision of real poverty is rare.

I knew how fortunate I was to live in relative ease. I was going to visit a country thousands of miles away. I would be staying in a comfortable hotel, and after the conference I would be going on a great safari. But away from the tourist routes and the posh hotels, there were 1.9 million orphans who needed my help.

So I started crocheting. And in the few weeks before I left for South Africa, I managed to crochet 15 squares and a hat. I also added six crocheted or sewn toys to my parcel. In December, I flew over to Durban and from there, I posted my parcel to Knit-a-Square. When I got back home, I carried on crocheting squares.

I continue to design, make and sell crochet toys. But I set aside some time and yarn to continue to crochet for charity. Making the squares is quick and easy and a great way to try out some new techniques and designs. And most of all, while I'm crocheting, I imagine the face of a child, far away, for whom my very small act of kindness may be making a huge difference.

www.knit-a-square.com

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Little jacket and other toy clothes


Sorry I've not posted for so long. A recent shoulder injury has meant I've been unable to crochet or type, and I'm just about getting on top of everything again.

It's rather overdue, but here at last is the pattern for the little jacket mentioned in my previous post (where you'll find a pattern for a toy dress).  I've also made some more, very simple clothes for a doll, teddy or rabbit. These are ideal stash-busters too. For some of the items I'm giving instructions rather than an actual pattern, so that you can easily adjust each item to the size required. The main stitch used is dc (tr in UK terms). This stitch isn't what I'd use for amigurumi, but for doll's clothes it is fine, and it makes them very quick to make.

The jacket pattern is based on the pattern I used for the baby cardigans I blogged about here, for which the pattern is available here. However, as this is for dolls, the whole thing is a lot smaller. I have included instructions for two sizes, and you can again alter them by using thicker or thinner yarns, larger or smaller hooks. Once you get the idea of how the jacket is constructed, you can make it in several sizes, and alter the length, the borders, and so on.

Here's the pattern. This little jacket is made from the top down.

Smaller size (underarm measurement 28 cm) -

Ch 27.
1 dc in 3rd ch from hook, 1 dc in next 2ch.  3 dc in next ch. 1 dc in next 4 ch.  3 dc in next ch.  1 dc in next 6 ch.  3 dc in next ch.  1 dc in next 4 ch.  3 dc in next ch. 1 dc in next 4 ch to end. Turn.

For the next 3 rows, you will gradually increase and shape the top of the jacket as follows:

ch3 (replaces 1st dc). 1 dc in each st, but work 3 dc in the centre stitch of each 3 dc group, to the end of the row. Turn.

Next row:

xh 3 (replaces 1st dc). 1 dc in each stitch until you reach the centre stitch of the 3 dc group. Skip to next 3dc group, work 1 dc in centre stitch of that group, then continue 1 dc in each stitch to the centre stitch of the following 3dc group. Skip to next 3dc group, work 1 dc in centre stitch of that group, then continue to end. Turn.

Continue working straight until the jacket is as long as you wish it to be. You may like to add an extra row at the bottom to make it flare out a bit. To do this, just work 1 dc in first st, 2 dc in next st, to end.

Now work a row of sc along the front borders and the neckline. Sew a button close to the neckline. You don't need to make a button hole, just use a gap between the stitches.

Larger size (underarm measurement 32 cm)

The larger size is made the same way, just starting with a longer starting chain and altering the first row as follows:

Ch 35.

1 dc in 3rd ch from hook, 1 dc in next 3 ch.  3 dc in next ch. 1 dc in next 5 ch.  3 dc in next ch.  1 dc in next 10 ch.  3 dc in next ch.  1 dc in next 5 ch.  3 dc in next ch. 1 dc in next 5 ch to end. Turn.

You should also increase for 4 rows before starting on the straight part.

Trousers

This pattern for doll's trousers is very simple. You just make two identical pieces and sew them together, adding a "waistband"  at the end. You can easily adjust the pattern to fit your doll or other toy.

Start by making a chain the approximate required length of the trousers.  Then work in rows of dc until you obtain a rectangle that is wide enough to fit around your doll's leg easily. Next work one row of dc, but stopping about half-way down the leg, then another row if dc (or more, or less, depending on the size of your doll), still finishing half-way down. This makes the gusset. Finish off.

Make a second identical piece.

Now fold your pieces with the gusset piece at the top, and place them so that one gusset piece is in front and the other at the back. They should look like a piar of trousers! Sew the two pieces together, making sure you obtain the trouser shape.

To make the waistband, attach the yarn to the top, and work 1 dc, 1 ch around the top. Weave a ribbon through the waistband and pull to fit.

Hat

The hat is newsboy style. You can easily adjust it to fit your doll by adding extra increase rows.

In a magic circle, ch 3 and 14 dc into the circle. Ss to top of first st. Turn

Ch 3, 2 dc in each st. Turn.

Ch 3, 1 dc in next st, 2 dc in next st, around. Turn.

Ch 3, 1 dc in each st around. Turn.

Work 2 more rows of dc, turning at the end of each row.

Work 2 rows of sc, without turning.

Work 1 row of sc, decreasing every 5 stitches or whatever is necessary to reach the size required.

Make the brim: ch 2, 1 dc in next 16 sts, 1 hdc in next st. Fasten off.


I hope you enjoy making these simple items. Feel free to embellish and alter them to your taste!








Monday, 30 December 2013

A dress for a bunny



I had a lot of fun making clothes for my bunnies. Here's Lalla wearing her lovely purple number, and here's the pattern so you can make one too. The dress would also be great for a doll.

The dress is worked in rows, and you will turn at the end of each row. It is worked from the top down.

You will join the two sides to make the skirt in row 6, but still turning at the end of each row to give the skirt its striped effect.

I used 4 ply (sportsweight) cotton yarn for the dress, and a 4 mm hook. My experiments with thicker yarn didn't come out as well.

Front

Back

Row 1 - ch 25, 1 dc in 3rd ch from hook, 1 dc in next st, 3 dc in next st, 1 dc in next 4 sts, 3 dc in next st, 1 dc in next 6 sts, 3 dc in next st, 1 dc in next 4 sts, 3 dc in next st, 1 dc in last 3 sts. Turn.

Row 2-5 - ch 2 (counts as first st), 1 dc in each dc, continuing the shaping with 3 dc in the centre st of each 3 dc group. Turn.

Row 6 - ch 2, 1 hdc in each st to centre st of 3 dc group, skip to centre st of next 3 dc group (this forms the sleeve). Continue hdc to centre st of next dc group, skip to centre st of next 3 dc group, hdc to end, sl st to first hdc. Turn.

Row 7 - ch 2, 1 dc in each st around, sl st to top of first st, turn.

Row 8 - ch 2, 1 hdc in top of dc, 1 hdc in between dcs, repeat to end, sl st to top of first st, turn. (effectively doubling the number of stitches. This leaves a gap between each dc, for the belt.)

Row 9 - ch 2, 1 dc in each st, sl st to top of first st, turn.

Row 10 - ch 2, 1 hdc in each st, sl st to top of first st, turn.

Rows 11-14 - repeat rows 9-10 twice. Fasten off, weave in ends.

Weave a ribbon between the dcs of row 7. Or you can make a belt with a crochet chain in a contrasting colour.

The pattern for the jacket will follow very soon. Actually, if you make the dress you'll know how to make the jacket. Here are some more photos. just because.












Sunday, 22 December 2013

Lalla and Lily - the pattern



Sorry for the delay, but here at last is the pattern for Lalla and Lily (and Yasmine, see below).

The first part of this pattern is for Lalla - the one-piece rabbit with lop ears on the right in the photo above. You can also make the body up to rnd 59, finish off and sew on the oval head like Lily's (she's standing on the left). The patterns for the oval head and pointed ears are at the very end of the pattern, just scroll down to find them.

Please note that the body pattern for the left-hand rabbit has not been written up, as I replaced it by the one-piece version. The left-hand version contains too much sewing for my taste!

Please do not sell this pattern. Do not post this pattern to any website, but link directly to my blog. No file sharing of this pattern. 

I used Pingouin Pingo 4, 60% cotton, 40% acrylic (which doesn't seem to be available any longer). It's quite a sturdy yarn, I'd say it's worsted weight, somewhere between DK and Aran. I used between two and three 50g balls, and a 4mm crochet hook. You'll also need stitch markers, a tapestry needle and some embroidery thread for the nose and mouth. You may also need safety eyes, though embroidering the eyes would be just fine too. I also lined all my pieces with an old pair of tights before stuffing, but if you crochet tight enough this may not be necessary. Anyone who reads my patterns regularly will know that I always line my toys, to avoid any fluffy surprises after washing.

There is a tiny bit of sewing involved, even though the pieces are crocheted together.

Are you ready? Here's the pattern:

Terms used: 

sc single crochet (dc in UK terms)

sc2tog single crochet two stitches together. I suggest you use the invisible decrease, very well explained here: http://www.planetjune.com/blog/amigurumi-help/invisible-decrease/

magic circle : see the video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHYVutk2iYY

The total number of stitches per round is indicated in brackets at the end of each round, like this (12 sts)

When there are several rounds without change, I've also indicated how many rounds need to be counted.

Start with the arms and the ears, so that these can be easily crocheted in when the time comes.

Arms (make 2)

Rnd 1 - 6sc in a magic circle (6 sts)
Rnd 2 - 2 sc in each st (12 sts)
Rnd 3-17 - sc around for 15 rnds (12 sts)

Stuff only to rnd 17

Rnd 18 - [sc in 4 sts, sc2tog] twice (10 sts)
Rnd 19-23 - sc around for five rnds (10 sts)
Rnd 24 - press two sides together, work 5 sc through both thicknesses. Fasten off and weave in end.

Lop ears (make 2) (for straight, sew-on ears, scroll down to end of pattern)

Rnd 1 - 6 sc in a magic circle (6 sts)
Rnd 2 - [1sc in next st, 2 sc in next st] three times (9 sts)
Rnd 3 - [1 sc in next 2 sts, 2 sc in next st] three times (12 sts)
Rnd 4 - [1 sc in next 3 sts, 2 sc in next st] three times (15 sts)
Rnd 5-9 - sc around for five rnds (15 sts)
Rnd 10 - [1sc in next 3 sts, sc2tog] three times (12 sts)
Rnd 11-15 - sc around for five rnds (12 sts)
Rnd 16 - [1 sc in next 2 sts, sc2tog] three times (9 sts)
Rnd 17-23 - sc around for seven rnds (9 sts)
Rnd 24 - press two sides together, work 4 sc through both thicknesses. Fasten off and weave in end.

Tail (optional)

Rnd 1 - 6 sc in a magic circle (6 sts)
Rnd 2 - 2 sc in each st (12 sts)
Rnd 3 - [1 sc in next 3 sts, 2 sc in next st] three times (15 sts)
Rnd 4 - sc around (15 sts)
Rnd 5 - [1 sc in next 3 sts, sc2tog] three times (12 sts)
Rnd 6 - [sc2tog] six times (6 sts). Fasten off, leaving a long tail for sewing.


Feet and legs (make 2)

Rnd 1 - 6sc in a magic circle
Rnd 2 - 2 sc in each stitch (12 sts)
Rnd 3-10 - sc around for eight rnds (12 sts)
Rnd 11 - ch 1 (counts as 1st sc), turn, 1sc in each of next 6 sts
Row 12-16 - as rnd 11, but do not turn at the end of row 16


Rnd 17 - 1sc in last st of previous row. Now work 4sc along the side of the rectangle to the corner, 1 sc in corner st, 5sc across the front of the foot, 1 sc in corner st, 5 sc along the remaining side of the rectangle (17 sts)



There will be a hole at the heel end. This will need sewing together at the end.


Rnd 18 - sk 6, 1 sc to join the two corners together (mark this stitch and first stitch of each row from now on). 1sc in next 3 sts, sc2tog, sc in next 5 sts, sc2tog, sc in 4 remaining sts (15 sts)
Rnd 19-28 - sc around for ten rnds (15 sts)
Rnd 29 - [1 sc in 4 sts, 2 sc in next st] three times (18 sts)
Rnd 30-33 - sc around (18 sts)

Gusset (continuing from top of first leg only) - ch1, turn, 6 sc, turn, ch 1, sc 5, turn, ch 1, sc 5. Fasten off, leaving a long tail for sewing.

Make a second leg and foot, finishing at the end of row 33 and DO NOT FASTEN OFF

Flatten the two legs, and join them in the middle, using the long tail to sew the edge of the gusset to the corresponding stitches on the other leg (see photo) Weave in the end. Now continue with the last loop worked on the first leg.



Continue to mark your first stitch for each row.

Stuff feet and legs.

Body

Rnd 34 - work 34 sc evenly around. Try 1 sc in next 9 sts, sc 3 across the edge of the gusset, 1 sc in next 14 sts, sc 3 across the edge of gusset, sc 5 to end or however it works best for you (34 sts)
Rnd 35 - sc around (34 sts)
Rnd 36 - [1 sc in next 3 sts, 2 sc in next st]  repeat around, finishing with 1 sc in last 2 sts (42 sts)
Rnd 37 - sc around (42 sts)
Rnd 38 - [2 sc in next st, 1 sc in each of next 6 sts] repeat around (48 sts)
Rnd 39-45 - sc around for seven rnds(48 sts)

Sew on tail at the centre back, between rows 38 and 42 (optional)

Rnd 46 - [1 sc in next 6 sts, sc2tog] six times (42 sts)
Rnd 47-48 - sc around for two rnds (42 sts)
Rnd 49 - [1 sc in next 5 sts, sc2tog] six times (36 sts)
Rnd 50-53 - sc around for four rnds (36 sts)
Rnd 54 - [1 sc in next 4 sts, sc2tog] six times (30 sts)
Rnd 55-56 - sc around for two rnds (30 sts)
Rnd 57 - sc in next 8 sts (or until you reach the stitches approximately on the side, level with the side of the leg), join in arms with 5 sc, sc in next 10 sts, join in second arm with 5 sc, sc in next 2 sts (30 sts)
Rnd 58 - [sc in next 3 sts, sc2tog] six times (24 sts)
Rnd 59 - [sc in next 2 sts, sc2tog] six times (18 sts) For Lalla, DO NOT FASTEN OFF. For Lily, fasten off, leaving a long tail for sewing head.

Stuff the body

Head

Rnd 60 - sc around (18 sts)
Rnd 61 - [sc in next st, 2 sc in next st] nine times (27 sts)
Rnd 62 - [sc in next 2 sts, 2 sc in next st] nine times (36 sts)
Rnd 63-64 - sc around for 2 rnds (36 sts)
Rnd 65 - [sc in next 5 sts, 2 sc in next st] six times (42 sts)
Rnd 66-67 - sc around for 2 rnds (46 sts)
Rnd 68 - [sc in next 6 sts, 2 sc in next st] six times (48 sts)
Rnd 69-74 - sc around for six rnds (48 sts)

Embroider insert safety eyes on rnd 70, embroider nose and mouth

Rnd 75 - [sc in next 6 sts, sc2tog] six times (42 sts)
Rnd 76 - [sc in next 5 sts, sc2tog] six times (36 sts)
Rnd 77 - sc around, joining in the ears with 4sc on each side of the head
Rnd 78 - [sc in next 4 sts, sc2tog] six times (30 sts)
Rnd 79 - [sc in next 3 sts, sc2tog] six times (24 sts)

Stuff the head

Rnd 80 - [sc in next 2 sts, sc2tog] six times (18 sts)
Rnd 81 - [sc in next st, sc2tog] six times (12 sts)
Rnd 82 - [sc2tog] six times (6 sts)
Rnd 83 - [sc2tog] three times

Fasten off, leave a long tail and weave in ends, making sure you close the hole completely.


Alternative ears pattern

Pointed ears (make 2)

Rnd 1 - 6 sc in a magic circle (6 sts)
Rnd 2 - sc around (6 sts)
Rnd 3 - [1 sc in next st, 2 sc in next st] three times (9 sts)
Rnd 4 - [1 sc in next 2 sts, 2 sc in next st] three times (12 sts)
Rnd 5 - sc around (12 sts)
Rnd 5 - [1 sc in next 3 sts, 2 sc in next st] three times (15 sts)
Rnd 6-11 - sc around for six rnds (15 sts)
Rnd 12 - [1 sc in next 2 sts, sc2tog] three times (12 sts)
Rnd 13-15 - sc around for three rnds (12 sts)
Rnd 16 - [1 sc in next st, sc2tog] three times (9 sts)

Fasten off, leaving a long tail for sewing

Here's the bunny with the alternative head. Her name is Yasmine.

Alternative head pattern

Rnd 1 - 6 sc in a magic circle (6 sts)
Rnd 2 - 2sc in each st (12 sts)
Rnd 3 - [1 sc in next st, 2 sc in next st] six times (18 sts)
Rnd 4 - [1 sc in next 2 sts, 2 sc in next st] six times (24 sts)
Rnd 5-7 - sc around for three rnds (24 sts)
Rnd 8 - [1 sc in next 3 sts, 2 sc in next st] six times (30 sts)
Rnd 9 - [1 sc in next 4 sts, 2 sc in next st] six times (36 sts)
Rnd 10 - sc around (36 sts)

Attach safety eyes on rnd 8.  Embroider nose and mouth.

Rnd 11 - [1 sc in next 5 sts, 2 sc in next st] six times (42 sts)
Rnd 12-17 - sc around for six rnds (42 sts)
Rnd 18 - [sc in next 5 sts, sc2tog] six times (36 sts)
Rnd 19 - sc around (36 sts)
Rnd 20 - [sc in next 4 sts, sc2tog] six times (30 sts)
Rnd 21 - sc around (30 sts)

Sew on ears between rnds 17 and 18 - Only leave three or four stitches between the ears or they will stick outwards instead of upwards!

Rnd 22 - [sc in next 3 sts, sc2tog] six times (24 sts)
Rnd 23 - sc around (24 sts)
Rnd 24 - [sc in next 2 sts, sc2tog] six times (18 sts)
Rnd 24 - [sc in next st, sc2tog] six times (12 sts)
Rnd 25 - [sc2tog] six times (6 sts)
Rnd 26 - [sc2tog] three times. Fasten off, leave a long tail and weave in ends, making sure you close the hole completely.

Sew head onto body after body rnd 59.

I've also created a little jacket and a dress for the rabbits, but you'll have to wait a little longer for the patterns.



Please don't hesitate to leave me any comments or questions about this pattern. Some adjustments may need to be made, but I need you to tell me :)