I have been given a newly released book to review! How exciting is that?! The publisher, GMC Distribution sent me Crocheted Birds by Vanessa Mooncie. Have you seen her crochet taxidermy book too? It’s amazing and I knew this one would be just as good. It’s the sort of book where I mostly just enjoy looking at the pictures rather than actually make something from its pages. But do you know what? To write a proper review I felt that I had to make at least one thing from it. That seemed like the right thing to do.
I decided to make one of the smaller garden birds because I thought it’d be a bit quicker than the giant swan or magnificent barn owl. As it’s Christmas, it was the robin that had to get made. He was probably not the best choice for speed; lots of colour changes make it a fiddly project but I gave myself some quiet time to do nothing but crochet this birdy. If I’m going to do amigurumi, I need complete and utter silence. There is a lot of stitch counting!
I kind of messed up the tension; the head is tighter than the body because it’s worked in the round and not in rows (the body is worked in rows). The book has a whole page on tension and says it’s vital check gauge. I should have done was I was told. I didn’t. I never do.
I’m not certain that checking gauge would have made much of a difference anyway because I wasn’t necessarily looking to make a life size bird and definitely wasn’t looking to buy more yarn. Therefore I made it in some dk I had in stash; not the 4ply I was told to use (don’t worry, there are dk patterns in this book as well as 4ply projects).
A couple of times I was confused by what colour went where but this book has charts as well as the written patterns. Whenever I got in a flap I just consulted the chart and it sorted out any confusion. I am deffo a fan of using a written pattern and chart simultaneously.
What I will say is that you do need a lot of extras. You’ll be no good with just your hook and some wool. I seemed to be OK on that front as I’m a massive craft hoarder and thankfully had poly fibrefill to stuff a plump bird, wire for strong legs and black beads for inquisitive eyes. I didn’t reinforce his tail like I was supposed to as I’ve lost my fine wire. It’s somewhere, I’m just not entirely sure where that somewhere is.
One thing I’d quite like to know more about is how to display the birds once they’re done. They look beautiful in the photo set-ups but I wouldn’t be certain about how to recreate that at home. Perhaps a page on that would have been useful. I did spot glass dome wotsits in Ikea the other day though!
I can see that with practice, I could make really amazing ornithology following the patterns here. Vanessa’s birds look so beautiful and mine just looks a bit stressed/mildly anxious.
What do you reckon? Are you up for making a flock of birds? I’m gonna make the budgie next! I can tell you that I’m glad there isn’t a seagull here. I was walking through town yesterday, minding my own business and one of the cheeky sods swooped down and nabbed the croissant I’d been enjoying. I won’t tell you what I shouted at it…
Doesn’t it feel like Spring already?! That means Easter is just around the corner. You may recall that last year I came up with a cute little design for crochet Easter eggs. The surprisingly awesome thing is that it has been a really popular pattern (mostly thanks to Pinterest, not anything I’ve done). To accompany the written pattern I thought that it would be useful if I did a video tutorial.
And not just any old video tutorial… my first ever video tutorial! It’s apparent that I need to perfect my video making skills somewhat, but you’ve got to start somewhere! I hope you find it useful.
The written crochet pattern is super straightforward and quick to do. The How To video is probably best viewed as a companion to the written instructions. In the video I also demonstrate how to embroider the stitches, which the written pattern does not do. If you want to jump straight there, the time stamp for the decorative bit is 18.25.
Had I been more YouTube savvy I could have made two different videos. One for crocheting the Easter egg and one to demonstrate the embroidery. But I didn’t think about that until afterward!
If you fancy having a look (afterall, Easter is coming up pretty soon) then please click on this picture to take you to YouTube! Or go HERE. And then let me know if you’ve made some!! I would absolutely love to see. Cheers! X
I put my name down for a #colourpopcraftswap on Instagram a few weeks ago. The name says it all. It’s a craft swap. You make something for someone, someone else makes something for you. I have no idea if my recipient got my present (they haven’t posted any pictures of it) but I got my gift! It was very exciting to receive a surprise parcel in the post. Boo!
I made a garland with pumpkins, stars, bats and one of my spiders.
It was impossible to take a good picture of it. Maybe it was just a terrible garland. I hope that’s not why the person didn’t share a picture! I made it with pastels and some glittery yarn. It was supposed to be bright and colourful.
I love my spiders! The purple one made a home in the garland. I don’t know where the grey one is. Does anyone else fancy making one? I’d love to see. I posted the pattern a few weeks ago. It’s over on my free patterns page but you can also just jump straight to it.
I made this last year. It was a rush job. I remember hastily cobbling together some grainy photos of the process. My tiara post is here.
The tiara was made as part of my fancy dress costume for a Hallowe’en party. I’m still not sure what I was.. a witch, bad fairy? I think I wore green wings.
My little Ami Halloween Collection made their first appearance. You can read about those here and find the pattern on Ravelry.
And here’s a tenuous one. Owls can be Halloweeny. The pattern is a downloadable pdf. That could do with a redesign too (what was I thinking?!). The pattern itself is good but I went a bit over the top on the graphic design. I had help but it was me who wanted all the green!
Just sharing these old pictures tells me how much my photography has improved (the current ones for this post aren’t much better actually, so maybe I shouldn’t comment!). I know that some bloggers go back and change dodgy old blog posts but a lot of mine are dodgy; it’d take an eternity to rectify! Part of why I blog is to record my creative progress and I think it’s all part of the process. I’ll keep it all as it is.
I’m a little early but I couldn’t wait to get stuck into some Halloween crochet! Wahaha. This pattern is so speedy, it really only takes a few minutes. You could make an army of crochet spiders, it’d be brilliant! These guys are so much better than real spiders, which intefere with your telly watching (out of the corner of your eye, there they are stomping across your sofa, on their way to eat your face whilst you innocently watch Bake Off).
I’m a little disappointed that this spider pattern didn’t become part of last year’s amigurumi Halloween collection but I hadn’t thought of it when I designed that lot. This pattern is a great partner to all the other spooky creations from that collection though…
[Edit: New for the summer of 2017 is a YouTube tutorial!! If you’d rather watch me make a spider on film, then pop over and take a look! Thanks]
Anyway here’s what you’ll need:
3.5mm hook (you could go up or down a hook size if you want), DK acrylic yarn, darning needle.
For the eyes you’ll need some sewing thread, a fine needle and little beads.
Crochet House Spider
(I’ve written it in US terms, that’s what I’m used to with amigurumi).
6 into a magic ring 
Increase around 
Sc around 
Decrease around 
Fasten off leaving a tail of about 50cm. Stitch the hole closed with a darning needle, looping through the 6 front loops. Pull closed and secure. Do not cut yarn, you’ll need it for sewing on the legs.
Choose where you want your head to be. Get a slip knot on your hook and attach the yarn with a slip stitch to the body. I put my hook on/behind row 3. (The pictures above are two different angles of the same thing. It’s just demonstrating where I’ve put my hook and where I’ll be making the slip stitch).
Next, make a puff stitch. To get a nice plump head, yarn over and pull through 4 times (you’ll have 9 loops on your hook). Chain 1 and join back to the body with a slip stitch in the same place. Fasten off and sew in the head ends.
Make four chains for legs: 1. ch18, 2. ch20, 3. ch22, 4. ch24.
Before you snip them short, pull the legs really tight to make sure they won’t become undone. This is why it’s best to use acrylic yarn, it’s less likely to break off when you pull.
Using the tail from before, thread through the middles of all the legs and stitch to the underside of the body. Shortest legs nearest the head.
Stitching the legs on is really simple. When they’re secure, thread the yarn out through the spider’s bottom.
Pass the yarn through the ends of the two back legs.
There is now a spider… where there wasn’t one before!
Little beads make great eyes. I went in from underneath with the thread, going in and out a couple of times to make sure it wasn’t going to go anywhere.
This sparkly, purple job has too many eyes but I wasn’t really concentrating. Most spiders have eight eyes if you want to go for accuracy!
And it’s as easy as that! A happy Hallowe’en house spider!
This is a free pattern that has been designed by me (Zeens and Roger). Please don’t sell the pattern or finished product. They’re all mine! Tis personal use only. Thanks very much. X
One of the great things about crochet is that there are constantly new tips and tricks to learn. I’m always completely bowled over when I stumble upon a new crochet technique, pattern, or colour combination. Actually, I think what astonishes me most is that crochet, or more to the point, how we crochet, always has the ability to surprise!
As part of this, it’s important that, when upping our crochet game, we embrace new skills, news skills that can really elevate crochet and make yarny projects the best they can be.
Top Crochet Tips and Techniques
I learned to crochet six years ago (Nanna tried to teach me when I was little; I didn’t get on with it). After six years I still LOVE crochet and I still love it when it teaches me something new. A lot of it is probably my childish pride but I don’t care, it makes me super happy. It makes me squee when I accomplish something that’s new to me. I’ve found a hobby that continually delights.
And that’s the point here. Many of the crochet tips below are now part of my everyday hooking repetoire but they might be totally new to somebody else. We’re lucky enough that these crochet tricks and techniques get shared, for us all to discover and enjoy.
Anyway, I thought it would be a really good idea to collate some of my favourite crochet tips together in one place. Some are more common than others but I didn’t know them at one time, maybe you don’t either? There are probably loads more I have yet to try as well. Let me know what you think, and tell me if there are some awesome crochet secrets that I’ve missed.
1. The Standing Start – Alternative to “Chain 3”
Check out Moogly for how to replace the “3ch” and seamlessly start a crochet project. Wrap new yarn around your hook twice and then insert the hook into the first stitch before completing what is effectively the first US dc / UK tr stitch. It is just one method that’s an alternative to the 3 chain at the beginning of rows / rounds. I like this technique for starting rows when changing colour.
2. The Chainless Foundation. Or Foundationless Start
I love this crochet tip! Love LOVE love it!! Find my video tutorial for a foundationless start HERE. In the tutorial I demonstrate the technique for US sc, hdc and dc starts. Beginning crochet projects has never looked so neat and tidy. Plus, there’s more elasticity with this method and you don’t end up with a twisty tangle of a foundation chain.
3. Stop your Chains Twisting!
If you do still want to chain the old fashioned way, here’s how to stop the twist! It is perfect for a project like an infinity scarf. Sometimes the old method is a good method, especially if you’re all fingers and thumbs with the foundationless start. This is the one where you pop the end of the chain onto your hook whilst you whip up the rest of your chains, then slide it over at the end to create a big ol loop.
4. The Invisible Decrease
Planet June has great amigurumi tutorials for techniques that create wonderfully neat crochet creatures. The invisible decrease is ace; it’s one of my favourite amigurumi secrets. It does what it says on the tin, it’s a decrease that’s invisible! Other decrease methods can be seen in the tight stitches of amigurumi fabric, so this one is a doozy.
5. Finishing off your Amigurumi
This top crochet tip saved me from having lots of stuffed toys with ugly bottoms! Quite literally for this fawn (not that you can see his bottom in the picture below).
Have a look here for this easy method for closing the little whole left at the end of an amigurumi pattern. Even with the invisible decrease, I reckon you can only decrease so much with amigurumi before the stitches start looking a bit overstretched. This is normally near the final round or two. So rather than struggling to squeeze them, I like to finish by using a needle and thread.
6. A Smooth Crochet Circle
If you add uniform increases when working a crochet circle, the final item can actually look more hexagonal. It’s all aboutmixing up the stitches. Bascially, you don’t have to work every increase in a formulaic pattern. Be a bit more random with the placemnt of the increases and it smooths out the rounds.
7. Work under the Bumps
This one, I learned near the beginning of my crochet obsession and I still think it’s fab. Many patterns never seem to state whereabouts in a chain you should work and, when I was a learner, this confused the heck out of me! I used to go into just the one loop of each chain, never really knowing if this was the right thing to do. To be honest, it looks a bit of a mess doing it this way. What someone should have told me was to work in the back “bumps” of a foundation chain. Check out this beginner friendly method here: under the bumps tutorial. Unless, you know, Foundationless…!
8. Tidy Crochet Edges for your Border
I only found this one a few days ago so I haven’t tried it yet. It looks great! My edges tend to look messy even when I make an effort to be extra neat. Felted Button has a great tutorial to rid you of unsightly borders.
Another crochet tip I picked up for creating a neat and tidy border is to make sure you colour match where you can. If the first round of a border matches the main body of you project, you disguise any potential quirky stitch placements.
9. Lose the Granny Square Twist
Why are my Granny’s twisty?! Cherry Heart will tell you! Sandra’s post has lots of useful crochet tips relating to the ubiquitous granny square. So simple, yet I never thought of trying any of these at first. All hail experienced crochet experts!!
10. The Continuous Join as you go
Not to be confused with the Join As You Go method, which still results in lots of ends to sew in (but is useful when using different rounds of colour), The Continuous JAYG has only two ends to sew in and it’s really easy! Honestly, if you haven’t done this before, it’s life changing. I’ve tried a couple of different methods and the one over at Patchwork Heart is the best.
This is one that’s easy once you have seen a demonstration. I tried to make it up once and got in a right pickle!
11. The Fancy Continuous Join as you go
I really really want to do this. You can save time and be pretty! It’s the Continuous Flat Braid. Same as above, but fancy!!
12. The Neat Granny Border
If you’ve gone to the effort of stitching all your granny’s together, the least you can do is make sure they get a beautiful border too. Too many clusters around the edges can cause a bit of a ruffle. Pop over to Bunny Mummy’s guide for how to crochet a flat border.
And that’s it for now but I reckon I’ll have to do a sequel one day. Crochet tips like this really can help create beautiful work and I’m always on the look put for more ways I can improve my crochet skills.
Once again, please do let me know if you have your own favourite top crochet tips and tricks. I’d love to hear from you. Cheers!
I have a silly number of Works in Progress at the moment. Here is the cat, sleeping on one that I left on the sofa.
She’s sleeping on this; the never ending half circle I’m trying to work out. I think I’ve mentioned before about trying to work out patterns and how it’s done. My method is Trial and Error because I know no other way. So, with that in mind, I have, in fact frogged several rows this morning. Too many stitches were causing it to get ruffled. I don’t know how/where to increase the stitches in a nice, even way at the minute. Too many, not enough, blahhh. Whatever I try, it doesn’t want to mirror the initial semi circle of colour. I’m tempted to bin it. Bin the idea and move on. So. Much. Frustration!
Anyway, this is more like it. An actual finished item. Woot! I loved making this. It was so quick and easy. I didn’t follow a pattern, I made it up and was surprised at how speedy the process was. If I were to have another go, I’d make the fabric pieces wider. I think there’s room for expansion. I took a load of photographs as I made it; I’m tempted to write up a tutorial. I might also buy a new pair of handles and have a second attempt.
New skill alert! I’ve tried Tunisian Crochet this week. A little bit addictive actually. I’m slow and not sure what goes on if I drop stitches but I did order a set of bamboo Tunisian crochet hooks so I can get properly stuck in. This hook is one I got from my Nanna. I keep meaning to ask her if she ever used it. Anyway, it’s slightly too small. And the freebie I got from a magazine is slightly too big.
Yesterday I struggled with colour changes. I really want to make pictures in crochet. It isn’t as easy as I thought it’d be. It’s mucked up the tension, making it skewed. Poo. I think I’ll benefit from some practise but I also think that Tapesty crochet might the way to go instead. Any advice?
Whilst messing about with the Brightoween and Tunisian projects yesterday another idea popped into existence. I had to try it immediately.
I’ll try and get this finished for next week although I’m well aware that I say that sort of thing quite often. I’ve got a crochet pattern/tutorial in handwritten scribbles that I’d said I’d publish this week. That’s really not going to happen. Not yet anyway.
This idea is a lot more simple than the other not-yet-ready pattern. I think it’ll be a fun one so stick around for a future blog post.
Then there’s this, which is related to the c2c geometric square cushion I made recently. I really hope this one looks like my imagination tells me it will look.
And now I need to go and make dinner before collecting Eldest from Judo. I really hope that some of these WIPs will actually be finished at some point soon. Today is not the day.
Chocolate Easter Eggs are my favorite sort of chocolate. Mini eggs and creme eggs are both very good reasons to look forward to Easter but neither truly beat a large Cadbury’s Dairy Milk (or other Cadbury) egg that has been put in the fridge for at least two hours so that it cracks and crunches as you bite it.
When I was little I used to drink milk out of half a chocolate egg, I thought it was fancy. The other half used to get crumbed into a mug and ruined with hot water to make some kind of bad hot chocolate (not so fancy). I don’t waste it like that now, I shovel it in my face whilst hiding behind the fridge door. Mostly I hide because the chocolate doesn’t belong to me. When I’ve finished mine I’m then stealing from the children. Anyway, I shall move on…
Nearly as good as the chocolate thing are crocheted versions. I am here to celebrate Easter with a little bit of amigurumi style eggs. I came up with the pattern for these at Christmas. I was trying to design a Father Christmas head/hat combo but whatever shape I tried looked like an egg. I binned the FC idea but out of it came these so I can’t complain. That’s the thing about designing. Through mistakes and fails, come good things! I guess that’s the creative process, right?
I think they’re cute and I hope you like them too.
They did look quite nice sitting up by themselves. The children like throwing them around and I know the cat would too if she could get her paws on them.
It’s rather telling that I don’t have any egg cups and I had to use shot glasses.
Amigurumi Easter Egg Pattern
As with most amigurumi patterns, the pattern is written in US terms.
I used Stylecraft Special DK and a 3mm hook. I even found a use for the shade, Duck Egg!
Round 1: 6sc into a Magic Ring.
Round 2: 1 Inc in each stitch around. .
Round 3: 1 sc in next stitch, 1 inc in next. Repeat around .
Round 4: Sc around. 
Round 5: 1sc in next 2 st, 1 inc in next. Repeat around. .
Round 6-7: Sc around 
Round 8: 1 sc in next 3 st, 1 inc in next. Repeat around .
Round 9-15: Sc around. 
Round 16: 1 sc in next 3 st, 1 dec. Repeat around. .
Round 17: 1 sc in next 2 st, 1 dec. Repeat around. .
Round 18: 1sc in next st, 1 dec. Repeat around .
Fasten off leaving a long tail. Stuff firmly. Using a darning needle thread through the front loops only. Pull tight to close the hole. Stitch in and out a few times to fully secure and then snip the end neatly.
Decorating is relatively quick and easy. With a darning needle, I went in through the bottom of each egg and then made french knots for the flower centres and a few chain stitches for petals and leaves. With a poke and a prod from the darning needle, the snipped ends can be hidden inside. Hey presto!
Please don’t be frightened of the embroidery. I show you how I do it in the video tutorial (link just below). I have very little experience of needle work and just make it up as I go along. If I can do that then so can you, I promise!
EDIT: For 2017 I’ve added a video tutorial on YouTube, which also includes how to decorate with pretty embroidery. Please go here! Cheers.
This is an amigurumi Easter Egg pattern I’ve designed and belongs to me. It can be used to make decorations for yourself or for gifts for friends and family but please not for mass production. Thanks very much. Feel free to say hello and you can even follow my blog to get more patterns and, dare I say, inspiration. Cheers!
I originally planned to start working on my Halloween ideas in the summer. That didn’t really happen and I’ve left it until late. Not a surprise. I’ve been rush rushing to get my brain babies out and into the open for a few weeks. I was pretty keen to get some patterns up and running by October but have been somewhat disorganised. Having said that… I’ve only gone and done it!
A tray of mess is what I have had sat on my lap every nap time for about three weeks. I have made many variations of witches, bats, cats and pumpkins. I started pretty much from scratch but the idea is based on one I had about four years ago. I remember starting to write the witch pattern down (based on some Christmas angels that weren’t very good). I think it is probably a good thing that I lost what I’d written because I found the initial attempts…
Hidden in a bag under the stairs were some sorry looking heads and hats and unidentifiable things.
Poor, yucky old witch head. Ugh, it belongs to the cat now. It’s been clawed and beaten but it’s robust enough that the stuffing is still there inside her green head. Anyway, I shall move on to how she looks now…
She’s in need of a haircut but other than that, I am very pleased with what I’ve come up with. Begone manhands!
Here she is, off to a party. She’s got her fancy hat on and she’s carrying her fabulous pumpkin. She’s got some mates too…
She also thought she’d try growing pumpkins in her veg patch. She was quite pleased with the results.
Anyway, I took a deep breath and decided to be brave. I thought I would try something new, you know, just give it a go. So…. I have added these to a Ravelry shop. Me and Husband worked together to sort out how to actually open a Ravelry shop after Bake Off last night. For peeps that have never done this before, it was quite confusing but I think it’s worked. The pattern has had some ‘likes’ too! It has joined my Owl pattern on Ravelry but unlike the owl pattern I am charging a small fee for this Halloween Collection. A lot of work has gone into, not only designing the patterns themselves, but also making sure it all looks smart and lovely. This is partly down to the help I’ve had, so thank you to my friends who have all done their bit to support me and give me advice. X
I think it’ll take time to learn how to use these selling platforms, I have no clue what I’m doing. None at all! But I will get there eventually.
Wait! Hang on a minute! Just because I can, I’m sharing the pumpkin pattern here! Huzzah! If you like it, think about popping over to the shop to purchase the rest of the pattern for the full set. Thanks very much.
Mini Halloween Pumpkin (Measures about 2.5cm across):
Using orange yarn.
Round 1: 6 into a Magic Ring
Round 2: inc around. 
Round 3: (sc in next st, inc in next) around. 
Round 4-5: sc around. 
Round 6: (sc in next st, dec). 
Round 7: dec around .
Fo and leave an extra long tail (at least 50cm).
Stitch closed by threading needle through the front loops and pulling tight to close hole. Thread the tail through the top centre of the pumpkin keeping the yarn tight. Wrap the yarn over the outside the pumpkin and thread through the bottom centre of the pumpkin. Repeat this 4 or 5 more times for a good pumpkin effect. Keep the yarn nice and tight. Secure yarn and fo. Thread some green yarn through the centre of the pumpkin and then back through, leaving a loop (be careful not to pull it all back through). Knot the ends together tightly and snip tails short.
And there we have it. Now that it’s all done I feel a bit weird. I have lots more ideas for the future but my head is going a bit crazy and it’s working faster than my hands can. I wish someone would pay me to play.