Saturday, 31 December 2011

A free pattern for 2012

Another year is coming to an end, and I want to thank all of you for following me and encouraging me to keep up my blog. When I started it almost two years ago, I never imagined I would still be crocheting and writing new patterns today. I wish you all a very happy and successful 2012.

I know there are already lots of owl amigurumi patterns available, but I like to think that this one is a little different. Its oval bottom gives it a nice cushiony shape, great for cuddling. And the crocheted eyes cannot be pulled off. It's made from the bottom up and the wings are crocheted in as you go. I tried several yarns for this pattern, but the best result by far comes by using a 4mm hook and aran yarn (the owl on the right). I particularly love the Debbie Bliss eco aran yarn and will be buying some more of it to make lots more owls that I hope to sell at our local organic market

Organic yarn and the fact that this pattern does not use any buttons or beads makes this a suitable toy for babies and young children. I always line my amigurmis to stop any stuffing from escaping, and the organic owls have a lining made from a recycled cotton sheet.

-- Note added on 10th July when I found someone had copied this pattern and said she had written it herself:

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.

Are you ready? Here's the pattern:

Stitches used:

sc single crochet
ss slip stitch
dc double crochet

I recommend Debbie Bliss 100% organic cotton eco aran fair trade yarn and I used a 4 mm crochet hook for the main body. For the eyes and beak I used Debbie Bliss ecobaby 100% cotton fairtrade yarn and a 3mm hook.

You can can use one, two, three or several colours for your owl. Just remember to make the wings before starting on the rows in the body of the owl using the same colour so that you don't need to cut off and start over again! I'd even suggest you make the wings first, so that's what I'll begin this pattern with.

Wings (make 2) (using aran yarn)

Rnd 1 - ch 14, join to first ch with a ss to make a ring.

Rnd 2 - 2ch, 1 dc in each chain to end , join to the top of 2 ch (14 dc)

Rnd 3 - 1 sc in each st (14 sc)

Rnd 4 - [sc2tog, 1 sc in next 5 st] twice (12 sc)

Rnd 5 - [sc2tog, 1 sc in next 4 st] twice (10 sc)

Rnd 6 - sc around

Rnd 7 - sc2tog 5 times.

Finish off leaving a tail of yarn, weave the yarn through the last 5 sts, pull tight to close.  Weave in ends.

Eyes (make 2) (using baby yarn)

Rnd 1 - With dark colour, sc 6 into a magic circle, don't join with a slipstitch

Rnd 2 - Join light colour and slst into first sc of the magic circle, then work 2 sc into each st  (12 sc)

Rnd 3 - *2 sc in next st, 1 sc in next st, rep from * to end. Fasten off, leaving a long tail of yarn to sew the eyes on to the owl's face.

Pull the ends tight so that the "pupil" looks OK.

Beak (using baby yarn)

Rnd 1 - make a magic circle,  ch 3 and then work 5 dc into the magic circle, join with a slst to the top of the 3 ch

Rnd 2 - * 1 dc in next st, 2 dc in next st, rep from * to end  (9 sts)

Rnd 3 -  1 sc in each st around  (9 sc)

Fasten off, leaving a long tail of yarn to sew the beak on to the owl's face.

Body (worked from the bottom up)

Rnd 1 - ch 10. 1 sc in 3rd chain from hook (and mark this st), 1 sc in each of next 6 ch. 3sc in next ch, then work down the other side of the length of ch, with 1sc in each of the next 7 ch and 3 sc in the space made by the 2 missed ch you started with. (20 sts)

Rnd 2 - * 1 sc in each of next 7 sts, 2sc in each of next 3 sts, rep from * once again (26 sts)

Rnd 3 - * 1 sc in each of next 7 sts, [2sc in next st, 1 sc in next st] 3 times, rep from * once again (32 sts)

Rnd 4 - * 1 sc in each of next 7 sts, [1 sc in each of next 2sts, 2sc in next st] 3 times, rep from * once again (38 sts)

Rnd 5-16 - sc around, changing colours at rnd 14 and 16 (optional)

Rnd 17 - sc 14, join the first wing with 7sc, working through the two layers of the wing and the layer of the body, sc 12, join the second wing with 7sc (the 5th , 6th and 7th sc are the first three sts of the next rnd). Make sure the 1st st of the rnd is still marked.

Flatten the body to make sure that the wings are symmetrical (there are more stitches at the front, for the owl's tummy, than at the back, this is normal).  If it's not symmetrical you might have to add or remove a sc before of after starting the 2nd wing.

Rnd 18-22 - sc around

Rnd 23 - * 1 sc in each of next 5 sts, sc2tog, continue from * to end

Rnd 24 - sc around

Sew on the eyes and the beak now.

Flatten your owl to make sure that when you join it at the top it will look right. If necessary, sc 1 or 2 extra stitches.

Line (optional) and stuff your owl.

Rnd 25 - (working through both layers of the top of the owl) ch 2, 1 dc in next 2 sts, sc to last 3 sts, 1 dc in each of last 3 sts, fasten off and weave in ends.

Please let me know if you have any questions or if I have made any mistakes. I always read all comments so don't hesitate!

And I would very much like to see photos of your owls!

Here are some more of mine:

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Robins and an award and a new pattern preview

Now that the little robins have been received by their new owners, I can at last blog about them :)

I made them using this easy pattern from ravelry: 

Except that I made the wings differently. But then I found the wings were a bit too big and bulky, so you might be better sticking to the designer's original wing pattern too. I sewed on the beak instead of gluing it, and also sewed on some lovely goggly eyes.

If you want to get to the pattern, you'll need to have an account on Ravelry. And I oh so much advise anyone who is a crochet fiend like me to do so!  There are zillions of patterns, including more than 24,000 free crochet patterns.  Yes, over TWENTY-FOUR THOUSAND. That's a lot of free patterns. Go on over there and join! It's free and really well worth the time it takes to create your account.

I also want to say a huge thank you to Barbina at Little Things Made with Love who has awarded me the Liebster Blog award! Thank you so much Barbina, it's my first ever award and I am so happy to receive it!

The award goes to lovely blogs with less than 200 followers, the rules are:
1Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.
2Reveal your top 5 picks for the award and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3Post the award on your blog.
4Bask in the love from the most supportive people in the blogsphere - other bloggers.
5And, best of all – have fun and spread the Karma.

I would therefore like to pass the award on to the following bloggers:

Madison from Madison Makes
Joy from The Craft Frog
Christelle from A voir, etc.
Kathmeymac from Petites créations aux fils des temps
Kristin from Brysselpyssel

Wishing you all great fun in your future blogging! 

One last thing before I go... I've been very busy the last few days preparing a new pattern to share with you all. I'm not quite ready to post it yet, but here's a little preview.  

Be back soon!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Thoughts about starting and finishing

Hmmm... I just realised I had another photo of my beloved pouffes and armrest cover that I hadn't shown to you, and as I didn't really know how to illustrate this post, here they are.

Other than that, I've been having a thoughtful day today. 

My favourite thing is starting wonderful new crochet projects.  I love doing it so much that I start many, many, many new crochet projects. I get all excited about some new crochet pattern that I find, or an idea that I have.

Just today a friend talked about name labels to put on her childen's Christmas stockings, and as I walked home I was having lots of ideas about the different ways of making such labels, the best material to use, whether embroidering the letters would be best, or if it would be better to make them from felt. It did make the walk home enjoyable and quick, but I did decided I should give myself a talking to.

Much as I love to start things, my friend didn't even ask me to make any labels! We were just chatting about it. Luckily I didn't offer to make them either. But before I got home I did realise that I must, must, must try to finish things off before I start on something new!

This is easier said than done. Since we moved house I've started... at least four new projects. They are all sitting half-done in my Work in Progress bag. In that WIP bag there are:
  • One pair of gloves
  • One granny ripple blanket
  • One decorative curtain thingy
  • and two robin decorations
The robin decorations are nearly finished. They'll be going to a new home very soon. But the other things are moving  v e r y   s l o w l y .

To get some inspiration, I looked back again at this page where I wrote my last list of WIPs, and here it is again with some notes
  • the second pouffe cover (finished!)
  • lip balm holders (finished!)
  • a yet-to-be-named amigurumi (half-made and wherever did I put it?)
  • a snake finger puppet (not started)
  • a pastel drawstring bag (finished!)
  • a felt house door-stop (not started)
  • a felt bag keyring (three-quarters made and wherever did I put it?)
So I suppose there is progress. I did manage to finish three out of seven projects. 

Please tell me I'm not the only one with such a list of unfinished projects.  What do you have in your WIP bag?

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Moving, moving... moved!

Well hello there! Would you like some tea from my lovely new teapot?

It's been a long time, hasn't it? Almost three months since I wrote my last blog entry. Since then, lots of things have happened.

First of all, we've finally finished moving. Gosh was it hard work! Despite our early start, despite the large-scale decluttering, it was still hard work. But we managed! We managed to move everything ourselves in our car (with most of the seats removed). I even managed to loosen the strong emotional ties that tied me to my old bed and give it away. We managed to move all our belongings from a big flat to a smaller one (and a spare garage for storage, thank goodness).

Then about a week after moving, I had to go on a work trip to Tunisia, but I'll tell you more about that another day.

For now, I'm just going to tell you what hooky business I've been up to!

First news - I finished the second pouffe! So now I have a matching pair, except that I didn't want them to match exactly so they're not twins, just sisters.

And... I don't know if you noticed it on that first picture, but I've also made a matching armrest cover for our rather beige sofa. The sofa is getting a bit old and the armrests are a bit grubby, despite cleaning them with upholstery shampoo. So these armrest covers have the double role of hiding the dirt and making everything look a little bit brighter.

And lastly (for now) I've made a new little swirling bag, a bigger and more pastel version of this one. Cute, eh?

And I did want to all a HUGE WELCOME to my new followers, who followed despite me absence (Thank you!). I promise I'll be back sooner next time.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Carrots are good for your lips

Sorry I've not been blogging for a while. The Move is taking up an awful lot of my time and energy. We've started to move our stuff over to the new flat, so there's lots of Dismantling Furniture and Putting Things in Boxes going on.

Our old flat is gradually getting emptier. I'm going to miss it.

On a brighter note, look at these!

While I was in England my sister asked me if I could make her two lip balm holders that were nice and bright so she wouldn't lose them easily, and with something to attach them to her bags.

I'm gradually making my way through the remains of my Catania yarn stash, and I had just enough orange left to make a bea-u-ti-ful carrot lipbalm holder.  I reckoned that was already silly enough, so I made the other one a bit more conservative. I hope she'll like them.

You may have noticed a new little link up there on the top of the blog, to the right. I have given up on my online shop, to which there was no reaction, and instead I've started a blog in French, the language of the country I've lived in for more than half my life. It's still just in its early stages, with only two posts, but it's opening up a whole new world of French crafts and crochet. If any of you know any French speakers who may be interested, please do tell them about it. And if you know of any cool French crochet patterns, please let me know and I'll put a link up on the Crochetons! blog.

Friday, 2 September 2011

What a week!

Well I've got quite a mixed bag of things to talk about as this week at last draws to an end!

We are still working hard on The Move, and yesterday we got the keys to the new flat. Yippee! I didn't think we would get them so soon. We're not yet ready to move in, but we're going to move our stuff over gradually. We also need to have a kitchen fitted and put shelves in the built-in wardrobes so it's a good job we have a few weeks to get it all done. There is an amazing number of administrative things to deal with too.

They do say moving is one of the most stressful things we do, coming just after death of a loved on and divorce in the list of stress-inducing situations. My problem now is what to do about the kitchen. Even though it is very small, my research on kitchen furniture leads to me to conclude that it's going to be quite an expensive investment.

On a more thrifty note, while continuing to tidy up today I came across a very soft, very big pillow that we don't use any more. It had been washed and kept in a plastic storage bag, but had a few stains so I decided to get rid. Just as I was packing it into a bag, I saw that the stuffing was 100% polyester, so a little voice inside my head said "maybe you should cut it open and see what state the polyester is, maybe you could use it". So off I went to get my scissors and snip, snip, cut it open and Oh Joy! The polyester filling was beautiful, in perfect condition and so soft! Just like the stuff I buy at three euros for a 250g bag. And there must have been at least 750g in that pillow. So now I have plenty of polyester stuffing, enough to keep me going for a while. And it didn't cost me a single centime.

To finish off, I just wanted to talk again about Ravelry. You know I really love it. But some things about it annoy me just a little bit. The way people charge ridiculous amounts of money for very simple patterns, for example. And then today I went to have a look at the patterns and there was one for amigurumi coloured crayons. Like little coloured pencils, in several different colours. My gut reaction was "what's the use of those?" I don't know about you, but a coloured pencil that you can't actually colour in with seems a bit silly to me. Am I being unfair or does anyone agree with me?

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Tiny and bright bag

Tiny swirling bag
Originally uploaded by aishakenza
Hi there to everyone who's reading this! I hope you're having a lovely day.

One thing I am determined to do before The Move is to finish off the zillions of small unfinished projects I have scattered around the place. These include (but the list is probably not exhaustive):

  • the second pouffe cover
  • lip balm holders
  • a yet-to-be-named amigurumi
  • a snake finger puppet
  • a pastel drawstring bag
  • a felt house door-stop
  • a felt bag keyring
  • ...

Yesterday I did manage to finish this cute little drawstring bag/pouch/purse. It's a birthday present for a little friend of mine who is now seven years old. I hope she'll like it!

I found the pattern on Ravelry (yes!) but I adjusted it quite a lot. You can also get the pattern here. The bag in the pattern is really quite big, so I just reduced all the proportions and this is what it came out like - this one's just 8 cm or 3 inches from top to bottom. I also attached two of my doodle flowers to the ends of the drawstring. I think it's cute.

Now, what shall I do next?

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Pincushion jar

Pincushion jar
Originally uploaded by aishakenza
Hello there!

I wonder how many of you are members of Ravelry. It is my most-visited site, I think. I love to browse the patterns - every day there's something new and inspiring.

The other day I came across a pattern for a crocheted pincushion on the top of a jar. Of course I had to make one. I'm always losing my box of pins and so a big jar to keep them in sounded like a good idea.

I got the pattern from The Green Dragonfly. Like the best patterns, it's very simple. The only problem I had was sticking the crochet and stuffing onto the jar lid. As suggested, I used superglue but of course it stuck fast before I could get it straight all the way around, so it looked rather wonky. I searched my ribbon stash and found the perfect solution - a gorgeous fuschia pink ribbon that hides my clumsiness rather well, don't you think?

Now I just have to find my box of pins in order to put them in the jar. Has anybody seen them anywhere?

Actually I didn't tell you yet that we are moving! We'll still be in the same small French town, just a short walk from where we live now. We've been in the present flat for 17 years (yes, seventeen!) so The Move is going to be quite an event. We're going to be very busy over the next month or so and have already started decluttering and collecting cardboard boxes. I'm actually looking forward to it, there's nothing like The Move to put some order into our lives! And maybe I'll come across that box of pins.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Crochet doodle flowers free pattern

It's interesting the way new patterns take form. For amigurumis, I usually start with an idea, that becomes a sketch, that becomes an amigurumi. But sometimes I just doodle with some yarn and a hook, and interesting things can happen.
Yesterday I was doodling with some Catania yarn and a 2.5 mm crochet hook, and I decided to have a go at designing a little flower. I wanted something quick and easy, and after just one unravelling I got it!
You can use any yarn and matching hook for this project, but I prefer to use a small hook and fine yarn. The flowers in the photo are just 4cm across and would be ideal for decorating a bag, or a hat, or an amigurumi... just use your imagination! I purposefully left long tails of yarn on the flowers so that they can sewn on easily.

Here's the pattern:

You need a very small amount of yarn, and a crochet hook that's suitable for the weight of the yarn.

Make a magic ring, leaving a long tail of yarn. (if you need to know how to make the magic ring, see this video:

Rnd 1 - Make 11 sc into the magic ring, pulling it closed enough for the scs to join, but not too tight that it would deform the circular centre of your flower. Join the last sc to the first sc with a slip stitch.

Rnd 2 - Turn, and make 4 ch. *Ss in next 2 sts, then 4 ch, repeat from * to the last st, ss. You should have six 4ch loops separated by ss.

Rnd 3 - Do not turn, but make 5 dc in the loop formed by the 4 ch, followed by a ss in the same loop. Repeat for the remaining loops until the end. Finish with a ss in the first dc of the first petal. Fasten off.

Wasn't that easy? If ever my explanations are not clear enough or if you need any more info, just leave a comment below :-)

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Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Once upon a time there was a pouffe...

A few years ago I bought two orange pouffes to brighten up my living room. They were a perfect size for my children to sit on and very comfy. But years passed, and the poor little pouffes became faded and stained, though they were still just as comfy. Here's one of them, you'll notice that it's seen better days:

So, what did I do? I made it a new cover, of course!

Now I just have to make a cover for the remaining pouffe and then I'm sure we'll need some matching cushion covers too...

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Treasures for free (almost)

Hi everyone, hope you're doing well and enjoying this lovely month of August. I've at last got around to taking a pic of the second-hand goodies I found while I was on holiday in England:

I picked up this lovely vintage teapot from a very small car boot sale we went to on the first day of our holiday. Given the small number of sellers, we didn't think we'd find much, but then I spotted this and at pound I thought it was a good bargain. These days only my OH and I drink tea, and this is just right for two mugs. It is an unusual oval shape and made of delightful bone china. I wasn't so keen on the rose pattern at first, but it's grown on me.

Then the backdrop you can see in the photo is the BEAUTIFUL silk dress I bought from a charity shop for four pounds. It is really gorgeous, isn't it? It looks lovely in the photo, but it's even better in real life, wonderfully shiny and silky, and the colours are amazing.

So the items in the photo above cost the grand total of five quid! Quite a bargain, methinks.

That's the end of this quickie post. I'm very busy working on a new project that's taking me longer than I thought it would so my blog's a bit quiet at the mo. But as soon as I can I'll come back to show you what I've been up to.

Have a good week!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

My late holiday post

Hello there!

I've already been back home for a while after spending a very enjoyable two weeks in the UK. We travelled around a bit and did lots of things, caught up with family and friends and made some exciting purchases.

We went for a couple of days to the seaside because we hadn't seen the sea for ages and ages. It was wonderful. The school holidays hadn't yet begun, so the beach was empty and even though it was too cold to swim we did enjoy spending time on the beach.

The pebbles on the top part of the beach looked good enough to eat.

We also took a rather wonky-looking cable car to the top of the hill. It was a bit windy up there but in that part of the world they call it "bracing".

There were some spectacular views on the way up.

We were lucky with the weather and had blue sky during most of our seaside trip.

We went to another nearby town where there is a lovely castle and also the smallest house in Great Britain, together with a charming lady in the traditional Welsh costume.

From the castle itself we had a lovely view of the harbour.

We visited Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare's birthplace, and saw the house he was born in. We ate a delicious cream tea - two huge scones each with a pot of jam and clotted cream, and a teapot of tea which contained three cups of tea. All for £4.95 each. Not bad, especially in a tourist town.

We also visited the butterfly centre in Stratford-upon-Avon where butterflies fly around in semi-liberty - there is a roof so they can't escape!

Over the following days we visited Alton Towers and Cadbury's chocolate world too, but I think I've said enough about our travels for now.

To be honest, with all that travelling and eating fish and chips, I didn't really have much time for a lot of hooky business, but I did do a bit:

Lime and beige flower coasters for M, made with this pattern:

Multi-coloured flower coasters for L, using the same pattern.

Pretty bunting to decorate P's bedroom.

And a little monster toy for A.

I also bought a crochet magazine and a couple of very good finds in the charity shop, but I'll save those for a future post.

It's nice to be back! I look forward to hearing about what you've been doing during the summer.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

See you soon!

Well, holiday time is here, and I'm off for a couple of weeks to the land of my birth: England!

We're expecting rain (of course!) so I'm going prepared with lots of unfinished projects in tow, and hoping to buy some lovely new yarn too. It's funny that just before leaving I found a supplier in France who stocks Debbie Bliss organic fairtrade cotton yarn, so I've ordered some of that and it will be delivered here while I'm away. It will be something to look forward to. They don't stock the aran weight yarn, so I'll be on the lookout for that in the UK.

Anyway this is a very quick post because I really MUST go and finish my packing, but before I leave here's a sneak preview of the work in progress that will be in my suitcase:

Bye for now, and hoping any of you that are also holidaying will have a wonderful time!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

My new blog shop

Remember a few posts ago when I talked about the lady in the shop who offered to sell my baby shoes?

Well I went to see her yesterday, and she said two things: firstly she would only take them in September when she gets the autumn stock in. Secondly she would charge the double of the price I'm asking for them!

So I'm not sure it would work... and I've decided, after encouragement from my family and friends, to set up a little shop here in blogland and see how that works out. I haven't yet set up anything exotic like a paypal account, but if I get enough sales I will do so. In the meantime I can accept payment by cheque in UK pounds or Euros.

For now I've only posted a couple of things, but please take a look at Is it a toy shop.

If you've seen things on this blog that you would like to buy, or if you would like me to make something from one of my patterns in a particular yarn or colour, contact me by email and I'll see what I can do.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Teddy doudou free pattern

In France, every small child has its doudou. I've seen all sorts of doudou - anything from an old piece of blanket or pillowcase, to an elaborate multi-coloured velours soft-toy masterpiece.

A doudou is simply an easy French name for a comfort blanket. I had an idea to make a teddy comfort blanket, using my chubby teddy pattern for the head, and adding some little arms for baby to grab too. I made it out of lovely soft organic cotton, so safe for baby to suck and easy to wash by hand or machine. For extra safety, I lined the head before stuffing it, and embroidered the face with contrasting organic cotton yarn. 

Here's the pattern:

I used one ball of organic cotton in pink and less than half a ball in cream. Of course you can choose the colour you wish, but in the pattern I mention pink and cream so you can follow it more easily.

I used a 3mm hook for the head and the arms, and a 4mm hook for the blanket part.

Head (the same as my chubby teddy pattern, but I'm repeating it here to make things easier for you)

Start with pink yarn and a magic ring

rnd 1 - 6 sc into magic ring
rnd 2 - 2 sc in each st around (12 sts)
rnd 3 - [2 sc in next st, 1 sc] rep around (18 sts)
rnd 4 - [2 sc in next st, 2 sc] rep around (24 sts)
rnd 5 - [2 sc in next st, 3 sc] rep around (30 sts)
rnd 6-8 - sc around (30 sts)
rnd 9 - [2 sc in next st] three times, sc in next 12 sts, [2 sc in next st] 3 times, sc in next 12 sts (36 sts)
rnd 10 - sc around (36 sts)
rnd 11 - sc in each of next 3 sts, [2 sc in next st] three times, sc in next 3 sts, sc2tog, sc in next 3 sts, sc2tog, sc in next 3 sts, sc2tog, [2 sc in next st] three times, sc in next 3 sts, sc2tog, sc in next 3 sts, [sc2tog] twice (36 sts)
rnd 12 - sc around (36 sts)
Change to cream yarn
rnd 13-15 - sc around (36 sts)
rnd 16 - [1sc in next 4 sts, sc2tog] rep around (30 sts)
rnd 17 - sc around (30 sts)
Now is a good time to embroider the eyes, nose and mouth with contrasting yarn or embroidery thread.
rnd 18 - [1sc in next 3 sts, sc2tog] rep around (24 sts)
rnd 19 - sc around (24 sts)
rnd 20 - [1 sc in next 2 sts, sc2tog] rep around (18 sts)
rnd 21 - [sc2tog, 1 sc in next 2 sts] rep around (13 sts)
rnd 22 - [1 sc in next st, sc2tog] rep around (9 sts)
rnd 23 - [sc2tog] 4 times
Fasten off, leaving a long tail to sew the head to the blanket

Ears (make 2)

Start with pink yarn and a magic ring

rnd 1 - 6 sc into magic ring
rnd 2 - 2 sc in each st around (12 sts)
rnd 3 - sc around (12 sts)
rnd 4 - [sc2tog], rep to end (6 sts)
rnd 5 - [sc2 tog] twice

Fasten off, leaving a long tail to sew the ears to the head.

Arms (make 2)

Start with cream yarn and a magic ring

rnd 1 - 6 sc into magic ring
rnd 2 - 2 sc in each st around (12 sts)
rnd 3 - [1 sc in next 2sts, 2 sc in next st] rep around (16 sts)
rnd 4-5 - sc around (16 sts)
now join in the pink yarn and work 6 more rows of sc.
rnd 12 - 1 sc in each of next 7sts, then squeeze the arm flat and working through both thicknesses, sc into the next 7 sts until the end: Fasten off.


For the blanket itself you can use any square pattern you like. It would be nice with a granny square or a simple trebles square. I had some problems with the joining of each round, but I'm sure you'll do better. The square should measure around 26 cm. You can find nice square patterns here:

Sewing together

Sew the ears to either side of the head, then sew the head to the middle of the blanket. Sew the arms on to the blanket, below and at either side of the head. Please follow the example of the top photo above for how to place the head and arms.

Have a lovely week!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Lemon and almond tart

This recipe is very scrumptious and quite quick and easy too. It has a shortcrust pastry base and a nice tangy lemony topping. I usually add flaked almonds too, but I didn't have any in my cupboard this time and it was still just as delicious. I use only organic ingredients and local mineral water in my pastries.

For the pastry:

200g plain white flour
80g butter
a pinch of salt
very cold water

Pre-heat the oven to 190°C.

Sieve the flour into a mixing bowl and add the salt/
Cut the butter into small pieces and rub it into the flour/salt mix, until it's all rubbed in and you have a crumbly texture.
Add very cold water a small amount at a time, until you can roll the pastry into a ball and it leaves the sides of the mixing bowl clean.
Wrap the ball of pastry and leave it in the fridge for about 15 minutes, then roll it out and cook it "blind" for about 15 minutes, until it's a bit hard but not yet browned.

For the filling:

2 eggs
125g sugar
80g melted butter
zest and juice of 2 lemons
100g ground almonds
a few flaked almonds for decoration (optional)

Whisk together the eggs and sugar until you obtain a pale, creamy mixture.
Add the melted butter, lemon zest and juice and ground almonds.
Pour the mixture into the pre-cooked pastry case.
Sprinkle with flaked almonds.
Transfer carefully to the oven (it will be quite full and the lemon mixture is rather liquid at this stage).
Let it cook for about 20 minutes, until the top is risen and golden.

You can eat it warm or cold.

Squares and stripes

As usual, I've got lots of projects on the go. Sometimes, however, I just feel like doing something new and actually finish it! That's what happened with this pink/purple square in granny stripes. I was looking through my stash and thought "hmm, these colours look nice together", and started a granny stripes square without really knowing where it was going to lead. I still don't really know what to do with it, but it's finished! It's 21 cms square and I just love it. Don't ask me why, maybe it's the colours or the texture, probably both. At the moment it's on my table being admired.

The other week I bought some lovely grey bobbly yarn in a sale, thinking I could make a cute amigurmi mouse out of it. But the sheer bobbliness of it made that impossible. It was very diffcult to use with a small hook, and any increasing or decreasing was practically invisible. So I got out my 4.5 mm hook and started to make simple sc squares. The texture of them makes a very effective washing up cloth, and with the ball of yarn I managed to make four. Yes, I know it sounds extremely boring, but this means we will spend less money on the expensive washing up sponges we've used until now. My little cloths are very kind to the  crockery but they have enough friction in them to actually remove the dirt, and they're machine washable too.

That's the wonderful thing about crochet, you can very easily just rustle something up without any special material, and even without a pattern. Bye for now!  

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Free flower pattern!

Hello there!
I've not been posting much recently, but I have been crocheting. As you can see above, I've made yet another pair of baby shoes, this time in a lovely yellow cotton/bamboo mix yarn that has been sitting in my stash box for a while, waiting for me to do something with it. You can't tell from the photo, but it is quite lovely and silky and soft. When I finished the shoes I had plenty left, so I decided to make a matching hat. A quick look through the many free patterns available on Ravelry, and I found the Josie Posy pattern and crocheted it in no time! Then I needed to make a flower to decorate it with, and I remembered a flower pattern I'd used for a pram blanket when my children were babies. That meant another search, this time through my own written-up patterns, and I found it! My mother had taken the time to type up the pattern on her old Remington typewriter, it must be around 25 years ago. She typed it on very thin "typing paper" (does anyone remember that?) so I'm amazed it was still in one piece. Anyway, I decided to reproduce the pattern here, so at least if the original does get ripped or lost, I'll be able to find it here on my computer. 

You can use any size of yarn and hook as long as they correspond to each other. I mean if you use a thick yarn you'll need a big hook, and if you use a finer yarn you'll use a smaller hook, of course. It uses two colours of the same weight yarn.

This pattern uses the following stitches:

Ch = chain
ss = slip stitch
dc = double crochet (US terms) treble (UK terms)
trc = triple crochet (US)  double treble (UK)
qrc = quadruple crochet (US) triple treble (UK)

With Colour A, make 7 ch and join in a ring with a ss.

Rnd 1: 3 ch, 19 dc into the ring, join with ss in top of 3 ch.
Rnd 2: * Miss next st (1 dc, 1 trc, 3 qrc, 1 trc, 1 dc) in back loop of next st and mark this st, miss next st, ss in back loop of next st, rep. from * to end but do not mark sts. Fasten off.

With Colour B, join yarn to front loop of marked st, and work as follows:

Rnd 3: * Miss next st, 7 dc in front loop of next st, miss next st, ss in front loop of next st, rep from * to end. Fasten off.

Monday, 13 June 2011

And the winner is...

Thanks to the people who took part in my first giveaway. There were only five of you, so the chance of winning was actually rather high, but there can only be one winner:

Well done Jen! Please let me know which felt owl brooch you would like and send me your mailing address so I can send the goodies to you.

I was initially a bit disappointed at the lack of interest in the giveaway, but there again I write the blog mostly for myself and for lovely people like you! I will continue to write the blog regardless, albeit not very regularly, and will post my creations and patterns and some thoughts and recipes too for my faithful folllowers.

Anyway, this weekend I made some red baby shoes:

and I bought a lovely Longchamp bag at a car boot sale for 2 euros:

Have a lovely week.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Giveaway reminder

This is the owl keychain that's up for grabs in my first blog anniversary giveaway. It comes with your choice of owl brooch and a few other goodies. See this post for details. There's only a week left so if you want to take part, please leave a comment before 12th June!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

A walk around the château

Today I went for a very pleasant walk around the Château de Voltaire. It's a lovely historic building where the philosopher Voltaire lived from 1758 until his death, and it's very close to where I live. This weekend the gardens were open to the public all day (there are usually quite restrictive opening times) and I went for a wander.

The garden isn't one of these fancy French gardens, full of sculpted bushes and fountains. It's still fairly "sauvage" and is partly surrounded by woods. The sculpted hedges I did see look rather overgrown...

and the fountain was full of weeds and looked as if it hadn't seen water for decades (centuries?). I rather liked the little statue standing in the once-was fountain.

but it was obvious that no water had been through that sprinkler for quite some time.

There were some very nice secluded parts,

and I loved this seat.

A wander down this path

Brought me to a surprise... bee hives and bee keepers!

They were busy finding the new queen in a hive in which the previous queen had left, or died, and I had a very interesting conversation with the bee-keeper.  Once they had caught the new queen, they painted a white dot on her back so that she could be easily recognised. Here she is!

We are very lucky that there is not too much pollution, and the bees have easy access to the great variety of trees in the park, all of which grow naturally and with no pesticides or other chemicals.

While we're talking about plants and insects, I wanted to share a recent photo of my strawberries... since this picture was taken they've all been eaten, but we're usually lucky enough to get a second lot later in the summer. For now, admire these beauties:

Bye bye for now, and remember to take part in my giveaway!