Tag Archives: handmade

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…

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!

Manic

When we last left our hero, she was valiantly struggling with a colossal problem:  how to make this Christmas bell look less odd and forlorn?  And in only two days?

blue bell on tree

The answer?  Fight crochet with crochet!

Somehow, I got it into my head that the best way to lessen the impact of one wonky bell was to whip up SEVERAL wonky ornaments to put all over the tree.  At least then they’d be co-ordinated…

It was at this point that things got a little manic…

First of all, I hooked up a bunch of snowflakes whilst watching a very old and incredibly sexist James Bond movie with Mr Knightley (“Oh, James, it might seem like I am resisting your advances, it might sound like I’m saying ‘no’ emphatically, but just slap me round a bit and I’ll suddenly find you irresistible!”)

I love making these snowflakes.  There is an excellent tutorial for them here, at my beloved Attic 24 (incidentally, it was this very tutorial that first introduced me to the many wonders of this delightful blog)

Snowflakes with Harry's hand

I pinned them out for blocking. I usually spray them with laundry spray, but I couldn’t find any so I painted them with watered down PVA glue instead (when I found it.  The real life version of what went on here was much more manic).  Here you can see Harry going after one of the “lollypop” pins (not for the last time!).

After I made up this batch, I happened to read an awesome post by The Stitch Sharer on crochet snowflakes (by complete co-incidence, it was so weird!), which gave me the idea for this snowflake:

Star Snowflake

It’s basically Lucy’s “small” snowflake, but with treble stitches throughout instead of doubles and 5-chain loops in the last round.  I drew up a really-truly pattern for it here

Ah what fun!

So, things were looking a little better – but! – I thought, in renewed manic frenzy – what about the TOP?  It needs something on the TOP!  The whole thing is rubbish without something on the TOP!!

After much complicated deliberation (a-star-would-be-simpler-but-looks-too-much-like-a-snowflake) which I won’t bore you with here, I came up with this:

Tree Angel

I had already been playing around with 6ichthusfish’s pattern for a nativity set (as you do) which I first saw here.  So I took my Mary head and body and put wings and a halo on her.  And I left the bottom open, so it’s kinda like a finger puppet.  Then I stuffed the Christmas tree up the skirt…

And what is the result?

ta-da!

Not too bad, I guess.

And my beautiful mother-in-law, of course, made all the appropriate exclaiming noises (of happiness, I mean, not of disgust).  So I guess things aren’t so bad after all.

Panic

So, I guess it all started when I got a hankering to make a crochet bell.  One of my favourite decorations on my mum’s Christmas tree is a little red crochet lace bell and I wanted to see if I could make one too.  So I started trawling the Internet and found this pattern and then I dug through my shamefully oversized yarn stash and came across just the right amount of cotton yarn in a lovely turquoise colour.  So what if turquoise isn’t the most christmassy colour?  I’ll dress it up with silver – ooooh, and little clear buttons – and it will look a treat.

Nan's Stash

The yarn was in my nan’s old stash (well, actually, she was Mr Knightley’s nan, but she was such a warm and loving person that I like to think of her as my nan too.  The smell of the inside of the yarn bag when I first opened it made me cry and cry).  So THEN I got an idea:  what if I made the Christmas bell with Nan’s yarn and then gave it to my mother-in-law as part of her Christmas present?  Oh!  Yes!  Where’s my hooook??

So I got stuck into it on our drive to South Australia.  I was in Robe and up to the second-last round when I dropped my 3.5mm hook under the car seat.  Ack!  It never surfaced despite much grunting and scrabbling.

At Victor Harbour, I bought a new hook in a smaller size (it needed it – the first attempt was too big and flopsy) and started from the start again.

In Glenelg, I got to the last round and ran out of yarn!  Ack!

In Adelaide, I frogged a few rounds

As we drove through Keith, Nihill, Bordertown and Horsham, I had another go with tighter stitches (and then frogged a few more rounds and tried it again)

By the time i got back to Melbourne, I had a little blue bell, ready for blocking.

In retrospect, this probably would have ben a good time to check the instructions – but I’d only printed off one page and anyway, it was all too exciting to stop and do something as sobering as looking up the pattern.  As a result, the bell turned out a little misshapen and wonky.  And lame.  And I couldn’t find a silver bell anywhere, so I had to use a gold one (pilfered off one of Christopher Robin’s kinder Christmas cards), which wasn’t as good.

Wonky Blue Bell

Which would have been fine, I would just be giving it as an add-on to the main present, a quiet aside, hardly worth mentioning really, just a small bonus gift.

Except then Mr Knightley bought a miniature Christmas tree as the main present.  “And you can hang the ornament on it.” he added, cheerfully.

Nooooooooooooooooooooooo!

If I hang the wonky bell on the Christmas tree and give the present just like that, then the wonky bell becomes the FEATURE.  It says “Look at me!  Aren’t I clever?  I made you a lopsided Christmas decoration!  With its own tree: it’s that special!”

And it’s FAR too big for the tree!  It looks ridiculous!

blue bell on tree

Oh panic: the more I look at it, the more it seems like the creation of some kinder kid looking for a gold star.  The kinder kid who’s not allowed to play with scissors…

What am I going to do??

Stay tuned for the sequel…

Yellow Gumdrop Hat

hat and cream yarn

hat and coloured yarn

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you remember this dilemma?  I was not sure if I should go all understated and grown-up with the cream yarn, when really all I wanted to do was get my hands on that rainbow wool and play.  Can you guess which one won?Finished Hat

Of course!  It had to be the rainbow wool!  And it was just so delicious!  Usually I try to use block colours and avoid too much variegated busy-ness, but in this case I just couldn’t resist.  I even put some on the top of the hat, look:

top of hatHmmm.  It’s upside-down.  But that’s OK.  I just did a little experimental hooky and came up with this.  It’s just one round and put together with double crochet (US single) and picot stitches.  Happy to share if anyone’s interested (ooooh! my first original pattern online!)

baby with hat

And here’s my friend’s son, looking decidedly unimpressed with his trendy new acquisition.

I should have made it bigger!  It was a little on the snug side, but my friend loyally protested that it was the perfect size.  At any rate, he makes a very cute little gumnut baby!