Tag Archives: crochet

collection of gifts

Busy Fingers #2

This year, I had the idea of beefing up our Christmas presents to our nephews and nieces with some handmade gifts. You see, Mr Knightley’s brothers and sister always give such thoughtful and generous presents to my children that the presents I buy for their children look rather plain in comparison. I am certain that I am the only one who notices this, but I wanted to find a way to value-add, just the same. Unfortunately, I was only hit with the inspiration to do this ONE WEEK before our Christmas lunch.  But the genius of Lucy Ravenscar and the sheer wonder of my hot-glue gun came together and I somehow managed to pull it off.

It was a Christmas miracle.

I made:

Little crochet turtle

1. A turtle keyring for my ten-year-old niece (from Lucy Ravenscar’s most excellent pattern);

flower hair clips with button centres

2. These hair clips for my two-year-old niece (flower motif pattern here);

little crochet pig

3. A ‘lucky pig’ for my baby niece (another of Lucy Ravenscar’s remarkable patterns); and

banana finger puppets

4. These Bananas-in-Pyjamas finger puppets for my one-year-old nephew.  These were my own pattern and a lot trickier than they look.  The pyjama stripes are worked in rows and joined to make a cylinder, then the head is worked in decreasing rounds on one of the ends.  If you try to work the whole thing in rounds, the stripes go diagonal.  Or so I’m told.

My other two nephews (aged seven and nine) missed out on a handmade addition to their presents.  What on earth do you crochet for a nine-year-old boy?

collection of gifts

These were all very well received and I was feeling remarkably smug about the whole situation … until I saw the truly beautiful, thoughtful presents my children received in return. I’m gonna have to start a lot earlier next year!

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Busy Fingers #1

Note – I wrote this one a month ago and am only just getting around to posting it now.  Hence all the references to “Advent” and “December”.  I tried to fix it, but it was getting too complicated.  I hope you can cope with this blast from the past…

crochet angel

My fingers have been very busy this Advent season. Here’s why:

 

1. Something about Christmas fills me with the urge to create things with my hands.

2. I prefer to spend my time with a bag of yarn and a box set of Little Dorrit than doing battle with a shopping centre car park.

3. I get to tell myself I’m being all anti-consumerist and sticking it to the man.

4.  I’ve been invited to two weddings this December, and as a result have NO MONEY for expensive presents.  All my money fell down the wishing well…

Here’s what I made for Harry’s and Christopher Robin’s teachers:

group of crocheted angels

These angels are TOTALLY MY OWN PATTERN.  I’m so excited!  OK, so maybe I got lacy wings idea from a book I got from the library and I did steal Lucy Ravenscar’s method of joining the head to the body without fastening off, but the rest of it is ALL ME.  If you look closely, you can see that some of the angels have different body-types – it took me a while to refine the pattern…

Back of angel

I might just put a tutorial up for these sometime next year…

Decorated gingerbread

We also gave them gingerbread in jars, using The Green Dragonfly’s excellent recipe.  All of the kids helped to make these.  Annie ate all her dough, and Christopher Robin got rather creative in his choice of biscuit shapes, but I bit back the strong urge to fix the wonky ones and let them roll and cut to their hearts content.  We decorated with white fudge writing icing, but I wouldn’t recommend it (it doesn’t set properly).

gingerbread in jars

All of the teachers were very happy with their Christmas presents, and I was glad of the opportunity to thank them for taking care of my boys this year.

Stay tuned for more – I’m afraid you don’t have a choice!

Barking

Sometimes I think I might be a crazy person. Especially when it comes to crochet.
An idea will drop into my head, perfect and fully formed, that will send me into a frenzy of wool and stitches. I won’t be able to rest until I’ve snipped and woven in the last end of yarn. And I won’t know until the moment the handmade gift is opened whether I’ve created something special and wonderful and right-on-the-mark; or lame, attention-seeking and deserving of pity.

I wanted to share with you my latest piece of insanity.

Mr Knightley’s sister, whom I’m going to call Audrey (if he were called Mr Darcy, I could call her Georgiana, I suppose, but I digress…), lives in a different city to us with her husband and two daughters: two-year-old Holly and newborn Eliza.  They also have three big and very loveable dogs.  Now, when Eliza was born, I put my head to thinking what I could make for her.  Unfortunately, my brain had other ideas, and thought instead of a great present for Holly.  I figured Holly might need a present more than her baby sister, babies get enough fuss!

Holly is devoted to her three big dogs, which is what gave me the idea.  What if I made her three toy puppies, modelled on her favourite playmates?  And the idea wouldn’t leave.  So I had to make them.

Crocheted Dog - Fudge

Here is Fudge, a brown Labrador, and the eldest of the three;

crocheted dog - jet

This is Jet, a black Labrador who is very excitable;

Crocheted Dog - Trumpet

And here is Trumpet, a black poodle, who is more shy and sensible than his friends.

Trumpet's Tail

And he has a curly tail.

Each dog has his own collar, bed and blanket in a matching colour.  I like to think this makes them all very Montessori.  I don’t like to think that pointing this out makes me all very pretentious sounding…

I didn’t want to forget Baby Eliza entirely, so I made Miss Doolittle a soft ball which makes a crunchy sound when you squeeze it. I spent many of my days testing various plastic wrappers for sound quality before putting the best ones in with the stuffing.  People think I’m odd.

Crocheted Ball

It’s not as round as I would like it, but thankfully Eliza does not yet understand the basics of geometry, so I think I’ll get away with it…

The pattern I used for the dogs is the very clear and well written “Puppy Love” by Beth Ann Weber on the By Hook By Hand blog.   The dogs’ collars, beds and blankets are my own design, as is the ball (which explains the wonkiness).

presents

And here are the presents all together.  My parents-in-law were travelling to visit Audrey and her family, so I packed it all in a shoe box (I resisted the temptation to use a “Hush Puppies” box), wrapped it nicely and gave it to them to deliver.

Now I was stuck.  I wouldn’t know until the gift was opened if the present was good or not.  And I wouldn’t be there to see them open it.  While the box remained closed, the present was simultaneously lovely and lame.  This is a paradox known as Schrödinger’s Dogs.

Thankfully, my sister-in-law called to thank me soon after they received the present.  Holly had fallen in love with the little dogs and had been playing with them all day.  Huzzah!

As for me, my fingers are starting to itch again!

Ghost Post

Or “The Post Who Walks”

I’ve been doing a lot of crochet of late.  I don’t know why it is.

I can go for ages without picking up a hook and I think I’ve given it up, but then, for no reason, I get haunted by ideas for woolen items and my fingers itch for my crochet hooks and my over-abundant stash of yarn.

Here’s one of the latest creations my itchy fingers made.  It’s more than a little daft, which I think is why I like it so much.

Phantom Tea Cosy

I made it for my cousin Joey Ramone. (actually, he’s Mr Knightley’s cousin, but, along with all his good ballpoint pens, I like to claim my husband’s extended family as my own).  If you are Facebook friends with my blog, you might know Joey as a regular and supportive commenter (only he calls himself ‘Adam’) for both my and Matilda’s posts.  In fact, Joey has been very supportive of our homeschooling efforts all year, and it was his birthday and I wanted to say thank you.

Joey Ramone is a big fan of The Phantom.  I’m pretty sure he has a tattoo of Lee Falk’s most famous character on his arm (or leg?  I can’t remember…).  Plus he loves a cup of tea, so a Ghost Who Walks tea cosy seemed the obvious choice.  But, strangely enough, I couldn’t find a pattern for such a creation.

Phantom Tea Cosy

When I searched for “The Phantom”, I got a lot of hits for “The Phantom of the Opera”, so I searched for “The Phantom the Ghost Who Walks Crochet”.  Google asked, “Did you mean “The Phantom The Ghost Who Walks crotch?“, which I thought was highly disturbing.  No, Google.  No I didn’t.  You are sick, Google.

In the end, I designed my own pattern (oh, yes, I totally did).  It took me a while to understand that Kit Walker’s head is more of a rounded rectangle than an oval or a circle, and then everything else fell into place.  I had a go at drawing my design onto graph paper, and then hooked it in rows following my little pattern.  I made a basic cover for the teapot, finishing it with a button from Nan’s stash and then sewed the motif on.  I wanted to stitch “The Ghost Who Walks” on the reverse side, but it looked lame, so I left it blank.

Graph paper pattern

Joey Ramone was really happy with his birthday present and I was really happy with his reaction (I might have hopped around and clapped my hands a bit.)

If anybody would like a go at making a Phantom motif (I can assure you, it exists nowhere else on the internet!), drop me a line in the comments.  If enough people are interested, I’ll draw up a tutorial and post it in my “Hooky Business” section.

It would be really cool if The Phantom had a famous catchphrase that I could sign off with here, but I don’t think he does.  “See you in the Skull Cave!”? “Old jungle saying: tea cosy keep tea hot!”?  Nope.

Bye, then.

Wedding Boast

I just wanted to show off.

A couple of weeks ago I went to a beautiful wedding.  I got to spend the day feasting with friends and celebrating a very exciting event.  I was aware that the happy couple would be living in a small apartment that was already fixed up with toasters and cutlery and wine glasses and towels and that the present they would most like would be money, but I couldn’t help feeling like it was a little impersonal. Cold hard cash.  How could I turn it into soft, friendly currency?

The first idea I had was to buy them a tea-pot and make a cosy for it and put the money inside, but then I remembered that the wedding was going to have a bit of a Star Wars theme, as it was being held on May the forth (be with you).  Also, they might never open the tea-pot.  They might spend the rest of their days drinking only coffee and thinking bad thoughts about their tight-fisted friends…

So, after talking it over with a few friends, I came up with this:

Crocheted Yoda

I got the pattern from Lucy Ravenscar on Ravelry.  I don’t usually buy patterns, but I bought this one as it was exactly what I wanted and there wasn’t anything as good for free online.  It was worth the money – a clever pattern, beautifully written with plenty of pictures.

Loaded Yoda

And here’s how I included the (warm and fuzzy) monetary element.

Naked Yoda

And here’s how he looks without his robe.

Yoda from above

And here’s an aerial view (OK, now it’s getting ridiculous)

Having done such a great job on this one I decided I was a creative genius and went on to do a handmade card as well.  I’ve received cards before that involve simple motifs sewn onto card with a basic machine stitch.  I had an idea of doing something clever with lace.  Cute and personal.   Fresh, clean lines.

Sewing isn’t really my strong suit.  I aspire to be a clever sewing lady, but I’m not there yet.

So I got up a design and I pinned everything in place and I tried to sew it and it got a bit wonky so I tried to fix it but it was definitely asymmetrical and you couldn’t tell what it was supposed to be, so I drew all over it and it was no longer chic or minimalist and it looked a bit of a strange mess, but I’d spent so much time and energy on it that I decided to go ahead with it anyway and in the end it looked like this:

The Card

Hmmm.  I need to learn to quit while I’m ahead…

 

Boast Post

I have a backlog of finished projects I want to share with you, and I figured the best way would be in one big, long, self-indulgent post. Don’t feel too impressed, though: it might look like I turned out a whole lot of of projects at once, but some of these are months old. I just never got around to telling you about them.

Here are some presents I gave to my friend at her baby shower:

Monkey Hat

This is a monkey hat, from Mamachee’s most excellent pattern.  Just because.

Flora Rabbit

And this is Flora Rabbit, made using Greedy For Colour’s fabulous pattern. You may remember this is the pattern I used as a base for my Peter Rabbit George the Public Domain Bunny creation last Christmas.  I put a little bell inside so that it made a nice noise when you shook it.  Do you know how hard it is to make a bell ring from within a stuffed toy?  Of course, you can’t put it directly into the stuffing – it won’t ring.  But I discovered my usual trick of putting it within a Kinder Surprise plastic egg (I usually put beans or rice in to make a shaker, I haven’t tried a bell before) also didn’t work, because it sealed and there was no way for the sound to escape (or something.  What am I?  A physicist?)  In the end, I made a contraption from half an egg constructed in such a way that the stuffing didn’t enter it and the sound could still get out.  When my friend opened it and politely thanked me, I proclaimed “SHAKE IT!  SHAKE IT!  IT RINGS!  IT RINGS!” with a manic look in my eye.  She shook it.  It rang.  She was impressed.  But I suspect she was more concerned for my general wellbeing as I wrung my hands together and muttered to myself “itrings…itRINGS..itrings…ohappyday…happydaaay…”

Anyway,

tea tray

Here’s a present I gave to a lovely young couple I know who got married recently.  They were kind enough to invite me to the Mass and put on a lovely afternoon tea in the parish hall afterwards.

teapot with cosy

I made this tea-cosy from an alpaca/lambswool blend which I’d originally bought to make a jacket for my niece, before deciding that it was too hairy for a newborn.  I’ve since been using up this stash in various ways, including the rabbit-who-shall-not-be-named.  The pattern is one of my own devising, but it’s based on Rheatheylia’s Divine Hat,  which is another lovely pattern that’s fun to work with.  I had another go at this pattern for my mother-in-law, using yarn from her mother’s stash.  But, as this yarn was a cotton blend, it wasn’t nearly as stretchy and took a lot of muscle to put onto the pot!  So it works fine, so long as you don’t ever want to drink tea or anything…

cup cosies

I used the same shell-stitch to make little sleeves for the mugs.  They look straightforward, but it took a surprising amount of jiggery-pokery to straighten out the edges (so they weren’t diagonal, don’t you know).

construction of cup sleeve

I used some gorgeous vintage buttons from Mr Knightley’s Nan’s stash.  It gives me such satisfaction to use such lovely buttons, but I also get a bit of a pang to part with them!

vintage buttons

The bride has a two-year-old son, and it’s important he wasn’t left out, so I had fun making this:

child's cup with cosy

I still have a whole heap of this rainbow yarn left over and any suggestions of what I can make with it would be greatly appreciated!

bunting

I’m a little embarrassed about this one.  If you go back far enough, somewhere at the start of my blog, I mentioned I was working on some bunting for Matilda’s room.  I was so excited by the little granny flags that I took pictures of my work in progress and even made them into my blog’s banner photo.

Then I kind of lost interest in the project and forgot about it for, like, a year.

I finally managed to get it finished in time for Matilda’s birthday party.  Here it is:

bunting

The light’s a little dodgy, but you get the idea:

bunting2

Matilda’s birthday party had a ‘night at the movies’ theme.  Here’s what we did for popcorn:

popcorn bar

And here’s the cake:

clapboard cake

While I’m at it, here’s the cake from Mr Knightley’s birthday party.  The theme was Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (he turned 42):

hitchhikers guide to the galaxy cake

I think that has exhausted everything I have to skite about at the moment.  When you read enough of my ‘fail’ posts, you will understand that sometimes I need winning moments like these to boast about to balance it all out.  If you have read all the way to the end of this post, you are a good and patient friend and I thank you ❤ ❤ ❤

 

Christmas Boast

Please excuse my very long absence.  I’m on summer holidays at the moment and it’s been a little difficult to blog amongst the anarchy.  I have a few longer posts on the way, including a Fail post, a God post, a Holiday post and a Newsy post, but in the meantime, here is a completely self-indulgent one.

Here are some handmade gifts I wanted to brag about:

blue star garland

This is a crochet star garland I slipped in with my sister-in-law’s KK present.  It doesn’t really do anything and it kinda looked better in my head than in real life.  The stars are a mix of Lucy from Attic24’s very addictive Little Lacy Stars and my own Star Snowflake.  You can’t see it very clearly in the picture, but the ribbon is a sweet blue-and-white check pattern.

IMG_2138

I made some more Lacy Stars (I told you they were addictive) for my mother-in-law (“Mrs Knightley”?).  Do you remember this tree from last year?  I don’t know why I didn’t choose red the first time around.  It looks so much better.

brown packages

These presents don’t really deserve to be included, as I didn’t make them myself, but I couldn’t resist.  These were Christmas presents for the ladies at Harry’s occasional care.  I gave them Pippi’s handmade soaps (like what I gave away on my blogiversary) and wrapped them in lunch bags with nice ribbon.

jars of gingerbread

Here are the presents I gave Harry and Matilda’s teachers (Matilda had two teachers this year).  This photo is a bit dodgy.  I made the lid covers in purple yarn, but in this picture, they look blue.  The gingerbread is baked from a recipe I found on The Green Dragonfly, which is awesome and I will use always and forever until the end of time.  And I drizzled melted white chocolate on top.  Can you tell from the shape that they’re supposed to be stylised Christmas trees?  Maybe if you squint a little and turn your head to the side?  I get a little tired of rolling out all the waste dough again and again when cutting biscuits, so I chose a shape that tessellates to save me time.  Efficiency plus!  I tried to explain this method to several people over the course of Christmas, but their eyes all tended to glaze over, or dart about desperately for someone who could save them from the conversation.  I think it’s interesting…

Peter Rabbit

And at last, the pièce de résistance.  I made this bunny – who might bear a remarkable resemblance to Peter Rabbit, but for any lawyers from Beatrix Potter’s estate who may be reading, I will refer to only as George – for Lovely M’s son, who is Christopher Robin’s best friend, and who actually happens to love Peter Rabbit, when he’s not trying to act all grown up.  This was one of those situations where the idea for it flew into my head and then I just couldn’t rest until I had created it.  I followed Greedy For Colour’s Flora Rabbit pattern (one of my favourites) and then invented limbs and a cardigan to transform Flora into Peter (I mean George!).  Lovely M’s son was suitably impressed with this gift (although he tried hard not to look too much so in front of Christopher Robin, until Christopher cheerfully mentioned his own favourite toy dog who still sleeps with him) and I’ve been assured that Peter/George has been fed carrots at the table every night and goes to sleep in his owner’s bed.

And that’s it!  I should probably mention, before you start feeling too impressed, that I failed to send any Christmas cards at all this year and I’m pretty sure there are some people I’ve lost touch with who think they’re no longer on my list.  Maybe next year I’ll be better organised…