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…
Before we begin, please let me be clear to my family & friends, this isn’t my personal wish list. Don’t literally get me this stuff! Chances are, I have caved and already bought these things for myself…
Right, anyway, this really is very simple. You have a lover of crochet in your life and you need/want to get them something for Christmas. Take a look at this list and I’m sure you will find something that they will LOVE.
You’d think this was a post containing those affiliate links, it’s not. I’m just making things up as I go!
Goes without saying. Make it good stuff though, yeah? Think along the lines of posh(ish), high end commercial yarn or a gorgeous skein (or two) of indie dyed. Take a look at the sort of thing your friend/family member likes to make and try to match up a bit. If they only like to make baby blankets, the likelihood is they won’t be into a hank of speckled 4ply. Get them quality DK instead. If they’re into making shawls or socks then the indie dyed hank/skein would be brilliant. Find a local yarn shop and chat to the owner to get some help if you need it, or if that’s not possible then you probably won’t go wrong in a John Lewis haberdashery department. Don’t forget that mini skeins make great stocking fillers!
2. Magazine Subscription
There are loads to choose from so this is hard. If I narrow it down to UK subs that makes it easier. Inside Crochet magazine would be my choice, it has contemporary, stylish designs and also embraces the traditional. I also enjoy Mollie Makes as an all round crafty mag. Then there’s Simply Crochet and Crochet Now, both have a good mix of content.
For high-end there’s Pompom Quarterly but I get cross with Pompom. It says there’s crochet on the front cover but there’s rarely any inside of its pages, just a lot of (amazing) knitting patterns. I got a subscription for Christmas a couple of years ago. For the entire year, there was only one crochet pattern. Still, the pictures were pretty…. Fingers crossed some amazing crochet designs get featured soon. Come on Pompom, crochet is awesome!
Toft and Scheepjes both feature crochet in their seasonal magazines too. For the US, I’ve been told that Interweave is a good choice.
I got myself an early present in the form of a sweatshirt from Stitchers Tees. You can choose from hoodies and t-shirts as well. I love mine!
4. Pins/Badges/Buttons etc
A fabulous stocking filler idea! Enamel pins are super popular right now. Try Joanne Hawkeror Lanaboufor craft related accessories. Crochet Luna has an impressive array of crochet buttons, many of which adorn my project bags. I also recently bought myself a pretty brooch from Shirley Rainbow. I know that it isn’t crochet but neither is the cross stitch bauble from Stitchsperation!! I don’t care, they’re still crafty and gorgeous!
5. Project bag.
Loads of makers on Etsy sell handmade bags you can store your crochet projects in. One that is most definitely on my Christmas list is a Floofhunta bag from the Yarnistry shop (navy medium or large with rose gold please!). Or, look at the beauty below from Handmade by Yael.
6. A pattern
You can buy patterns from an independent designer (like me!) all over the internet. These are mostly digital downloads, which you can choose to gift. You just need the email address of your crochet loving pal so it gets sent to them. Try Ravelry, Love Crochet or Etsy, and now there’s the Making Things app, which is a monthly subscription where a maker can get their hands on loooadds of crochet & knitting patterns. I’ll be finding out more about this soon; I’ll be sure to pass on the info.
7. A Fancy Hook
I always see people using Furls hooks, I’ve not tried one before but they’re supposed to be very good to use and ergonomic too, they’re like the designer hook, I guess. Or there are handmade hooks. I’ve seen beautiful hooks whittled from wood (want!). For example, drool over Knitbrooks twig hooks, and squee over Make.E’s hooks which are wrapped in funky Fimo designs.
8. Tickets to a Yarn Festival
There are yarn festivals all over the country and all over the world. Buy a pair of tickets. Day pass, weekend, whatever. Throw in a fancy hotel too! ;p
9. Stitch Markers/Progress Keepers
Another stocking filler. Lots of people make and sell these in online shops. You can quickly end up with a large collection!
10. Yarn Bowl
I’m not fussed about yarn bowls, I quite like my yarn bopping about all over the place as I work, but I know not everyone feels the same. Keep your woolly bits in check by keeping your balls in a bowl.
Workshops are wonderful things; fab community get-togethers for like minded makers where you learn a new skill. There will be a small business near you running crafty workshops. They’re great fun! Some will only be a couple of hours and cost just a few quid or you could splurge and book a weekend retreat for proper indulgent crochet time.
13. The Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater
Books!! A book can be tricky because there are so many to choose from. Too many, even. Not every book will please every crocheter. Unless you know their style then it might be best to avoid a pattern book and go for memoirs instead. A few months ago I got The Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater it’s a collection of essays about being a crafter. It’s mostly knitting orientated but crochet gets a look in too. Having just looked on Amazon I can see a whole load of yarn related memoirs! A Stash on One’s Own sounds good…. eh, I don’t know if I want to go down this rabbit hole. Ooh, I remember getting Dead Men Don’t Crochet a while back, a crime/murder mystery that’s also about crochet. I couldn’t finish it, it was too daft but you might think it’s great! 😀
I’ve got to stop there I’m afraid. I know there are loads more ideas out there but I’m going to rein it in before I get carried away. Have I missed out of any obvious ones? Let me know! x
I am in a good place for this time of year. I hope you are too. I feel like I’ve played catch up and won. This episode is about showing off the latest finished objects (note that I have not said anything about WIPS!). I also chat about old pals and how I feel about progression in my work. Don’t forget to click on the picture above which will take you to YouTube.
Oh, and something else I mention is this: Would you be interested in some kind of Granny-a-long? Embrace all things Granny? I am thinking of hosting a CAL (that’s Crochet-a-long) in the new year focusing on the humble granny square/stitch. Let me know what you think!
Here are the links for everything I have talked about in this crochet podcast. And please do scroll beyond for all the crafty things…
Oh, how I wish I’d thought of these designs a wee bit earlier. There is literally just one week to go before Christmas Day for goodness’ sake! Better late than never I suppose and now they’re here, they’re here forever!
It was this big boy that popped into my head first (a couple of days ago). I didn’t like my other crochet Christmas hat very much as I’d not made much of an effort in the design stakes (see me talk about that disaster Here). Instead of fiddly fine fluffy mohair (yeah, that’s the other hat) I decided to go for a rush job and choose the chunkiest yarn my LYS had. In the last two days I’ve made three versions to get the result I’m really happy with (the first two I was quite chilled about frogging; this hat takes no time to work up!). Yesterday we had a lovely Christmassy lunch at a pub with friends and I sat there and worked on the mini versions!
The big hat uses just over one ball of the red and left me with about half a ball of cream. I felt bad at abandoning all those leftovers and mild to moderate guilt resulted in this collection of mini jobs. They are pretty cute in my opinion and perhaps, deserving of being called “modern” (although, does that make me sound old and clueless? Hope not).
Regarding the biggun, one size fits all. We tested it on our after-lunch walk yesterday. It fits beautifully on all heads, in different kinds of ways. The boy has it so that it is slightly oversize-in-a-good-way, it fits me like a normal hat, and it perches snuggly on a giant nut, like the one my mate’s got (cheers Paul!).
The minis can be tree decs or a garland thingy. I love both (which surprises me as I’m not a bunting person), so versatile!! Today I’ve typed up the patterns for both hat sizes as a 2 for 1 thing. The pdf is available as a download from Ravelry. More technical talk is over there so do please pop over and whilst you’re there, maybe you’ll be tempted to buy a copy! There is still time, honest!
Anyway, I hope to see you here at least one more time before Christmas as I’m hoping to record a vlogcast on Thursday (see YouTube Here). I didn’t think I’d have anything to talk about but actually, it turns out that I do. Fancy that!
It’s December already!! How did that happen?! Fear not, there is still plenty of time to sort out a crochet Christmas if that’s what you want to do. In the past I’ve bust a gut trying to make something for everyone and to be perfectly honest, this year I just can’t be bothered! I’m still going to have a crochet Christmas though. ‘Course I am!!
First of all I’ve signed up to a couple of Secret Santa thingummies. One is for bloggy crafters (Stitching Santa) and the other is over on Instagram. Part of the deal for signing up is that you make handmade stuff. The great thing is, is that I know that the participants will be as enthusiastic as me about handmade (whereas, who knows what friends and family think when I’m palming off handmade stuff on them?!).
Sooo first up I thought I’d make some wrist warmers. Quick, easy and very wearable. This year I’ve made a pair for myself and I’m making a pair each for my secret Santa peeps (the pair in the above pic are destined to be sent out). I used my own design from the Vintage Autumn set that I’ve got on Ravelry. I made the larger size as I want them to fit and whilst the small size fits me, I do have wrists like twigs. [In my last vlogcast I might have mentioned that wearing two lots of crochet at the same time was a bit like doing double denim, ie don’t do it! Therefore, the above picture amuses me as I manage three items whilst sitting on a crochet blanket!].
If making crochet presents is too stressy then you can always dec your halls instead. I’ve talked about these crochet baubles on the blog already and they have a post of their own Here. A brilliant use of scraps!
Some of my other favourite crochet decorations are some gorgeous Xmas puds from Planet June (you must check out all the other free patterns, including some more festive makes). I also found a toadstool decoration, I can’t remember if this is the pattern I’ve used but it looks like a good one. Toadstools look lovely on my tree!
I’m also doing a swap. I’m swapping some of my old makes with someone else’s, which is a brilliant way of getting something new and exciting for Christmas. Er, what else?… Well, there’s shopping! Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday. Find someone/something on Etsy, Folksy or check out local craft fairs to find independent makes that other people have worked so hard to create. I’m endeavouring to do a bit more of this this year. So far I’ve only managed to buy things for myself though…
What are you doing for your crafty Christmas? Have you been super organised, or have you left it to the last minute like me?!
Christmas is pretty much just around the corner, honestly, it’ll be here before you know it. I’ve noticed this year that crochet baubles are all the rage, so I’ve had a go at my own simple pattern. I’ve made a tutorial for YouTube too, so if that’s more your thing then do jump across to my YouTube channel… Here is where you’ll find the crochet bauble video!
-6cm (diameter) baubles. Mine are from Sainsbury’s but I bought similar from Wilko’s last year.
-DK cotton in different colours. I’ve tried many brands and they’re all good: Paintbox, Drops, Dmc Natura, Stylecraft Classique etc
Fasten off (FO) after each round and join the new colour with a ss just to the right of where you fastened off.
If you want to avoid sewing in most ends, crochet over them as you go.
UK terms are used in the written pattern, I try to use both UK & US in the video.
Pattern – make 2
Begin with a Magic Circle (or ch4 and join with a slip stitch).
Ch1, 1tr,ch1, *tr2tog, ch1; rep from * 5 times, join with a ss to the top of the first petal. [6 “petals”]
(Ch2, 1tr, ch1, tr2tog, ch1) in same space, (tr2tog, ch1, tr2tog, ch1) in each 1ch sp, join with a ss to the top of the first petal. [12 “petals”]
Ch3, 2tr in first ch sp, 3tr in each ch sp around, join to top of the ch3. [12 clusters]
Ch2, 1htr in each st around. [36 st]
Ch1, 1dc in each st around, join with ss.
Make two halves. Sew in the first and last ends. Do not FO after round 5 on the second half. Place both halves together, right sides out and ss together, facing loops only. Just over half way, wriggle the bauble into its jacket and continue to ss together. This can be fiddly but it’s worth it! Sew in last end, using it to tidy around the hanging bit if you need to. Make several!!
Fancy giving it a go?! Please do give me a shout if you have found the pattern/tutorial useful. A thumbs up on YouTube helps too, I understand it gets more reach or some such thing. Thank you very much!
By the way, please do go ahead and share a link to this pattern. Sharing is truly marvellous! But I ask (really rather nicely, please, thank you, please) that you credit Zeens and Roger if you do. Just don’t rewrite it and pretend that it’s your own. I hate that. If that’s you, go and design your own bauble. Thank you ever so much.
Christmas feels like it was months ago. A lot has happened in the last couple of weeks to really make sure it has completely distanced itself. However, it wasn’t really that long ago and I think I’m still allowed to talk about it today (if only in a crochet/crafting capacity).
I do hope everyone had a good one and all that. I received so many lovely things and I’m going to share some of them now.
First off the bat is my wonderful gift from Bekki at The Dartmoor Yarn Company. I got an amazing array crafty of things. They were all indivdually wrapped and it was so much fun to open them all on Christmas morning. I managed to lose a couple to my littlest, who thinks that all presents are for him. I don’t think he was impressed with receiving yarn though. I was! Thank you Bekki, I love it all but my particular favourite is the Blacker Blends pistachio yarn (a project has already begun). And the teeny advent sack is so cute! This gift was all part of Stitching Santa, organised by Shelia from Sewchet. I sent a gift to another craft blogger and felt terrible because I hadn’t included half as many things. I hadn’t even thought to include chocs or sweeties. What kind of Christmas gift is that?! No chocs or sweeties, it would’ve been a sad day…
I also took part in another secret santa swap. This one was all arranged by Emily of Make.e over on Instagram. I got a gift from Emma of Moomaloom. The pencils are brilliant and now I really want to make a pencil case, just for them. In the initial sign up process we had to give a little bit of info about ourselves. I wrote that I didn’t do princess stuff and that I was a fan of GoT. The Khaleesi mirror fit the brief perfectly and it made me laugh. I’ll make the Christmas Robin next year, I can’t bring myself to do festive anymore. And I’m totally keeping the tissue paper, it’s gorgeous!
This one isn’t strictly a Christmas present but I’m including it anyway. My name was pulled out of a hat as part of a Giveaway from Eleanora at Coastal Crochet. It worked out quite nicely because we were both celebrating reaching 1000 followers on Instrgram. I’m a meany and didn’t think to do a Giveaway for my milestone. Maybe when I reach 2000! I’m not sure what I’ll do with the seaglass, maybe something for the garden? A mosaicy type thing… The bunting was put up immediately and looked wonderful as part of the Christmas decor. And Crikey, the Malabrigo yarn is beautiful. I think there’s enough for a dainty scarf of some sort. It’s lace weight, which means it’ll go quite far. I hope.
My last gift of internetty origins is the Humbug Scarf pattern by The Crochet Project. Jammy sod that I am, I was sent it as a gift because once again I named it! It was a few weeks back that I had the good fortune to name another two of their new patterns (the Kelpie hat and the Selkie shawl). I have promised not to keep doing it! If only I could come up with decent names for my own projects. Anyway, I’m using the Blacker yarn for this project and I started it last night.
In the real wordl, I got a massive load of threads from my mother-in-law. I need to sort them out. I got little plastic bobbins too so wish me luck in all the winding.
Look at this teeny bunny that my mum found at a craft market. He’s so cute. She mentioned coals and Newcastle but I don’t really knit so it’s not the same thing.
And I bought myself presents from a very smart wool shop in Bovey Tracey (I dragged the family there after going to visit Father Christmas at the House of Marbles). I want to make some mittens with the purple and a shawl with the mustardy stuff. Both have slight variegation which I (secretly) don’t normally like. But since working with some green Malabrigo recently, I’m on the turn.
Magic trees are an essential stocking filler, no?
There are a few more things that could be classed as crafty gifts, like books. Mostly crochet stitch dictionaries that I forgot to take a picture of (not that they’d necessarily make a good photo). And I’ve also purchased another skein of yarn that I’m waiting for posty to bring. Anyway, I’m off to make pizza dough for tea. I’ll sort out the pics of the things I made for presents and do something about it next week. That doesn’t have to be a Christmassy post. I don’t think any of it is actually festive themed so I can get away with that in mid Jan.