Tag Archives: handmade gift

Yarny Fun Times

Here are some of my latest hooky projects.

Bunnies on the Hill

Four crochet bunnies on a cafe table

Here are four bunnies.

bunnies sitting on green crocheted square (back of pouch)

Here is the hillside on which they play.

bunnies in a crocheted pouch

When they get tired, they go to sleep in their warren.

Crocheted pouch is buttoned up

Goodnight bunnies!

I made this for Annie’s fourth birthday.  The bunnies are based on Lucy Ravenscar’s quick and easy Easter Bunny design.  The hillside/warren/bag is my own creation.   This toy is great fun in cafes and Medicare waiting rooms.  And Annie likes to play with it too.

The Green Sheep

crocheted sheep

 

sheep with bookThis was a present to a small friend of mine who turned three recently.  I’ve always been a major fan of Mem Fox, so it was great to pay tribute/infringe copyright in this way.  Also, these sheep are lots of fun to make (although I still haven’t got the hang of embroidering closed eyes); it won’t be long before I’ve hooked up a whole flock.  You can find the (excellent) pattern here.

sheep

 

Lately, I’ve been toying with the idea of selling toys like these online.  What do you think?

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!

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…

The Joy of Giving

I just had to share:

teapots with cosies

I made these tea cosies for my two dear friends, Pippi and Lovely M.  You might remember Pippi as my friend who made the soap for my blog candy giveaway.  She gave it as a gift for the blog and wouldn’t accept any payment for it.  If your memory is really good, you might remember Lovely M from my socially awkward misadventures in Label Fail – the Sequel.  I wanted to give M a new name as everyone else in the blog seems to be named after some literary character (or Brady Bunch member).  In some ways, M is like Little Friend Susan to my Milly Molly Mandy.  But Little Friend Susan is sensible and hardly talks, and that doesn’t describe M at all.  Anyway, Lovely M is happy to be called Lovely M and I think it rather suits her.

In a world of self-contained school mothers with blow-waved bobs and glacial conversational skills, Pippi and Lovely M provide an oasis of genuine friendship and spray-coffee-through-your-nose laughter.  That, in itself, I think, is enough to warrant a present, but as it happens, both Pippi and Lovely M have recently moved house (from near by to even nearer by!), which means I get to make them housewarming presents (my favourite kind!).

When Pippi and Lovely M received their presents, they made all the right exclaiming noises to ensure plenty more handmade gifts come their way.  In a strange way, I love that something I made will live in their home.  Does that make sense or is it vaguely stalker-ish of me?

Anyway, here’s the most exciting part:

The pattern is my own design!

I’ve never designed my own crochet pattern before, unless you count my star snowflake, which is really more of a modification than an original design.  I think I will call it Pippi and Lovely M’s Granny Square Tea Cosy.   When I get organised, I will put a tutorial (with rather dodgy photos) in the “Hooky Business” section of the blog.  Just like a real grown-up craft blog!  And I can put it on Ravelry and everything!

I’ve also just finished a blanket for my brand-new nephew.  I struggled a little with this one, but we got there in the end (meanwhile my nephew is six weeks old):

blanket

I wanted to sew a cloud motif on in the corner, but with the variegated yarn it just looked weird, so I left it off.

And finally:

parcel

This parcel is bound for Tennessee, for Sandy from Craftsnotherstuff, the winner of my birthday blog candy giveaway.  I’m thinking of sneaking in some Tim Tams (choc biscuits) and other Aussie treats, but I’m still working out how to do it without getting chocolate over everything…

Oh!  It’s all so exciting!  Giving gifts is even more fun when I can boast about it all over the internet…

Happy.

Making me happy this week:

Gardenia

These gardenias from my mother-in-law’s garden.  Their perfume make me think of my beautiful grandmother.

DSCF4887

Ditto these pink roses.

DSCF4875

Some green flummery.  It looks gross, but it’s sweet and light and tastes just like my childhood.

bunting invite

I fell in love with this beautiful invitation to a twenty-first birthday party.  It’s not even mine – it’s for three of my siblings (she misspelt “Jan, Cindy and Bobby”), but that’s not the point.  Oh, those darling tiny squares of fabric!  The little line of machine stitching on the paper!  Bunting always makes me smile inside.

 

 

Four Friends

Four hand-made friends given to me my children by my very talented Aunty.

Welcome to the Family

They were very quickly welcomed into the family.

OK, I must come clean: the handmade gifts did not arrive last week – I took the last two photos months ago and have been meaning to post about them ever since.  But aren’t they lovely?  I still smile when I look at them.

What’s making you smile this week?

Hero in a Half Shot Skinny Mocha Latte

A couple of weeks ago, my older brother Greg had a birthday.  Greg lives in Japan and I miss him terribly.  Whilst my younger brother Peter organised a ‘care package’ from all of us (with plenty of Barbecue Shapes), I wanted to send Greg something hand made, just from me.  Well, that’s not entirely true – I wasn’t organised enough to get it ready in time for the care package, so I decided to send it separately in an envelope…

Living in Japan, Greg doesn’t have much space for stuff, and what’s more, he does well in his job, so any stuff he needs, he can buy anyway.  So I figure handmade gifts are something he can’t buy for himself and it’s like sending him a hug from home.  In the past, I’ve made Greg a lopsided amigurumi koala, a beanie with monkey ears (seemed like a good idea at the time…), and a tea cosy with a skull on it (the best to date).  I knew Greg was partial to Starbucks coffee, so I figured I’d make him one of those sleeves you can put on your takeaway cup.  So I went skipping over to Ravelry to go pattern-hunting (yes, a tough job, but someone’s got to do it). And then I found it.  Becky Ferris’s NINJA TURTLE coffee sleeve!  And I knew I had to make it.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Greg and I would rush home after school to watch these heroes-in-a-halfshell do battle with the evil Shredder (in the halcyon days before Mum and Dad outlawed TV-on-a-school-night) whilst little Jan and Peter lobbied for Playschool (they had no chance).  I would strain for glimpses of April O’Neill, the only female character in the show if you didn’t count dowdy Irma (and I never did count dowdy Irma).  April didn’t have any super powers or ninja skills, but she did have a walky-talky shaped like a make-up compact so she could call the ninja turtles to come rescue her whenever she needed it.  A true feminist icon.  One day, one blessed day, I would be as glamourous and rock a yellow jumpsuit with as much style as April.  And then the Ninja Turtles would be MY friends.

april

Our grandmother took Greg and me on a bus to Westfield Shoppingtown when we were small to see the first ever Ninja Turtle MOVIE.  Incidentally, Mama lived at home with our Brady Bunch family when we were growing up, so I guess that makes her ‘Alice’.  I remember sitting in the little food court after the film, sharing a tiddly oggie and talking nine-to-the-dozen with my otherwise taciturn older brother about live-action versus animated turtles and the limitations and benefits of each.

So while I knew what to make, and I had the green and white cotton yarn I needed, I still had to ascertain what size to make it in and what colour yarn to buy for the mask.  But if I asked Greg these questions, he would work out what I was up to for sure.  In the end, I sent him the following text:

“3 cryptic but important questions:
1.  What size coffee do you drink at Starbucks?
2.  If Jeff Daniels got into a chair-fight with Joan Cusack, who would win?
3.  Who is your favourite ninja turtle?”

My hope was that Joan Cusack would throw him off the scent.  He responded (unquestioning and within fifteen minutes) with the following:

“1. Double Short Soy Caramel Macchiato with no caramel (don’t ask…)
2. Jeff Daniels?
3. Raphael was really cool, but a bit of a dick.  I’ll have to go with Michelangelo.”

So.  Orange yarn.  But I had no idea what size coffee cup he was talking about and so, armed with the information he had given me, I headed off to the local Gloria Jeans (I live in Melbourne.  We don’t have that many Starbucks here as they’re seen as an evil threat to our café culture – but somehow GJ’s managed to sneak in unnoticed.  Go figure.).  I showed the girl at the counter the text message and asked what size cup would take a double short soy caramel macchiato without the caramel and if I could take an empty takeaway cup of that size to use as a model for the sleeve.

This was a trickier question than I had thought

“If it were here, it would probably be in a little cup, like an espresso, but Starbucks macchiatos are more like lattes, I think” said the nice girl at the counter to the barista, who had joined the conversation.

“Hmmm.  Yes, but then it says “short”.  Does that mean, like, a shot?” mused the barista.

In the end, they gave me every size cup they had and after some further investigation, I settled on a cup size and got to work (I left out the bit where I went off to buy cotton yarn and discovered it had doubled in price from the last time I bought it because it doesn’t really add interest, even though it did cause me much frustration!  Seven dollars fifty for a fifty gram ball!  OK, I’m over it, really I am)

Here’s how it turned out:

Turtle Power Cup

Hmmm.  Perhaps more a demented, goggle-eyed lizard than ninja turtle, but if you turn your head and squint…

So I posted it off along with some pictures and birthday cards from the kids.  And, a week later (too late for the actual birthday, alas!), Greg sent me these photos:

Fridge with pictures

The pictures have taken up residence on his fridge,

Ninja Turtle Soy Caramel Macchiato with no caramel

And the coffee sleeve fits!  Turtle power!

Happy Birthday, Cindy!

Time for me to do some more boasting about my hooky creations!

It was my youngest sister’s twenty-second birthday last month and I made her a hat.   This was my first attempt at making a hat for a grown up and I had a lot of fun with it.  I got the pattern off the Lincraft website, it’s called “Angora Beret” (see here).  My sister’s name isn’t ‘Cindy’ by the way, I had such fun creating pseudonyms for my children and husband (I named them after literary characters) that I thought I’d do the same for my siblings (named after our corresponding character in “The Brady Bunch”.  I would be Marcia.)

Cindy's hat

I spent a lot of time faffing about with the edging.  Everything I tried was either too over-the-top or too plain.  The final product is actually my original design!  It’s very simple (double, treble, picot, treble, repeat), but it came out of my own head!  I’m going to write it up as a proper pattern as I’m sure there’s a raging demand for patterns for lace edging.  Plus, this would seem like more of a legitimate blog if I had some bona fide patterns on it (instead of just boasting about projects and general natterings on)

Close up of lace

Cindy, being a very kind sister, promptly plonked the hat on her head and said it would give her true hipster cred.  I didn’t mean for that last sentence to rhyme, but I’m so glad it did.