Do you ever see a design or pattern and instantly know who it is perfect for? Last year I came across the Meandering Paws patterns by Amy B Stitched. They are a series of crochet patterns with the key design of a set of paw prints. There are a number of patterns in the series now including scarves, beanie and mug cozy.
To learn the initial design I made a dishcloth which was one block repeat of the scarf pattern. These are always easy to practice on and an item that I can never have too many of. It was like doing a tension square when you are knitting. The pattern is easy to follow written in US terms with the only unusual element of the cross stitch in the centre of the paw, once you get the hang of it you will find it simple to do.
Thinking of my friends lifestyle I decide the blanket would be the best pattern to make her. The original blanket pattern is done in multicoloured stripes but the benefit of making gifts yourself is that you get to select which colours you want to make it in so I chose 2 shades of Stylecraft Special DK in purple tones Violet and Wisteria. I wanted a low fuss blanket that could easily be thrown into the wash without thinking so that is why I used this yarn, it is really soft too.
I crocheted mine a little different to the pattern. I chained 180 stitches (plus 2 extra) and used a 4mm hook. The original pattern has 3 paws to be a repeat of the pattern like I did in the dishcloth. The way I wanted to do even colour blocks this would have looked messy. By doing a repeat of the first 8 rows of the pattern I could line 2 paws up per colour block. I like the look of it, it doesn’t look cluttered if that makes sense. There is a bit of counting in this but really only in your set up row for each paw. Once you get that initial row in which has the gap in the base of the paw you then really don’t have to count because as you do the pattern you learn where you are meant to be in each section so for example if you are not one stitch off from where you need to do a chain 1 skip then you have made mistake somewhere. I did have to frog it back a few times the biggest was about half a colour block. Doing the 8 row repeat meant you learnt the pattern quickly.
For the border or edge I opted for something simple. I did one row of trebles half the blanket is light purple the other half in dark. It was a short edge and a long edge in one colour so at 2 opposite corners you can see the 2 shades. As I started my colour blocks in a light colour I ended in it a dark colour. On the border I did the opposite so the border frames it. I started this August 2017 and finished March 2018. A lot of tv crochet. It was very relaxing to do and once I finished it I missed it. I wasn’t sure how much yarn I needed so I purchased 6 in each colour. I used a 5 and a bit of each colour. The finished blanket measures 48″ x 72″ so it is a nice lounge blanket.
It is fitting that I write about this blanket today as it is the recipient’s birthday and she has received her gift.
In previous years for my gifts I have made a lot of individual items which were often very detailed a little on the complicated side to make. Unfortunately this year I don’t have as much time and energy to spend on my gifts (even though I enjoy making them) I have decided this year I am keeping my gift making simple and letting the fabrics be the star so the kids are still getting gifts they are going to love.
At Christmas one niece was particularly obsessed with LOL Surprise dolls so when I saw that Self Confessed Fabrics Addicts had some fabric available with the dolls printed on it I ordered 1m. I had no idea what I would make but I knew 1m of cotton fabric would be enough. I started seeing that the other girls I am make gifts for also like the dolls so I thought ok what is the maximum way I can stretch out my fabric to use in all the gifts.
The obvious choice was my tried and test zipper pouch pattern. I use the Boxed Corner version of the Essential Wristlet by Dog Under My Desk which I have enlarged to 150%. Kids love little bags they can put their treasures in, I use my zipper pouches all the time and I know they can hold a lot of things in them. This pattern is very easy to do (I still follow the instructions even though I have lost count of how many I have made) and it is a pattern you can sew in bulk which is perfect for gift making.
In total I have made 7 with the LOL fabric. 2 pouches have the fabric on both sides on the outside, the other 5 only have it on the front of the pouch. By doing it this way I could get the maximum pouches out of my fabric. The backing fabric I used on the 5 were a combination of some striped fabric I picked up at a recent fabric swap which matched in with the colours on the front and some purple fabric which I had already cut out for a zipper pouch but hadn’t made as I changed my mind. By having a combination it meant that if one family had 2 girls in it each one could have a different bag they knew was theirs which hopefully means no fighting.
Again on the inside of each one I used a combination of lining fabrics. Half the lining fabrics I had in my stash already the other half I picked up at the fabric swap. When I was at the swap I was “shopping” for fabrics I thought would go with the pouches and I think these do. All the zippers used came from my stash but I did stock up for zips at a recent sale with these pouches in mind. I need to restock my zipper pile now as I am running low on purple and pink zips.
I used sure sew medium weight sew in interfacing in the pouches. I brought a roll of it from McCalls last year. I placed a layer behind every piece so that is 4 pieces per bag. It give it some nice structure. In total I had to cut 56 pieces between the lining, outer and interfacing pieces. In the past I would’ve doubled over the fabric, pinned my pattern piece and then cut it out. This method is great if you are only doing one or two items but it does lead to waste and is time consuming. After watching others at the Cashmerette retreats trace out their pattern directly on to the fabric I decided to give it ago. The pattern piece is just a series of straight lines so I easily traced around it with my quilting ruler. For the LOL fabric it really meant I could squish my pieces together and get the maximum out of my fabric. On the interfacing I cut sections from the roll and doubled over the large piece so I could trace 2 pattern pieces at once. On straight lines this method was much quicker than my regular pinning method.
I am really pleased with these zipper pouches. I can remember being obsessed with different toys as a kid (and teenager) I think if I had gotten a gift like this I would be really happy. I now only have 4 more birthday gifts to make this year. I am hoping to get those done soon.
I mentioned in my previous post that I was inspired to make the masks after picking up some fabric that had the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on it.
The fabric was about 1m in length. I wanted a quick and easy project that would also be practical. I decided on a simple tote bag that could be used as a library bag or a toy storage bag or toss things in it and carry around the house bag. Boy or girl little kids like bags that they can put stuff in, parents love storage too!
Construction wise this bag is your basic run of the mill lined tote bag. The outer, lining and handles are all with same fabric. To put it in a nutshell make the 3 sections (outer, lining and handles) and assemble them all together. You can make these any size you like but this one is probably about 12″ x 15″, the finished handles are 1″ wide. The fabric is the star in this bag so I kept it simple.
A bag like this is quick to make. This is one project I can actually make it one hit (cut it, sew it, photograph it) With the eye masks inside this is now wrapped up ready to go to its new home.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Heroes in a half shell
Donatello, Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo to some these might be famous artists but if you were a child of the 80’s these will always be the Ninja Turtles in your heart. Can you believe that the original movie came out 28 years ago this week back in 1990.
I wanted to make a gift for Mr 4. I picked up some fabric in a swap day that was printed with Ninja Turtles thinking this is great boy fabric I can make a bag or something with it but I want something to go inside it. I remembered seeing on Ravelry a pattern for crocheted eye masks so I decided to give it ago.
This pattern is very easy to make. It is written in US terms and only consists of 4 rows. It does require a bit of counting particularly in the eye section but I’m not a big fan of counting and had no trouble with it. You could easily whip up a set of these in a day if you wanted a last minute gift.
One thing about this pattern is that you need to use 100% acrylic yarn. I used carnival acrylic 8ply, they have perfect Ninja Turtle colours! The reason it needs to be acrylic is because after you crochet these you need to “kill” your yarn. Moogly has a good tutorial on how to do this. Basically you melt the fibres together to make your stitches lie flat and it stiffens the piece. You do it between wet towels so not to ruin your iron. Don’t be scared to do this as it really does make a difference to the end result.
You can make these for kids or adults. Don’t just think Ninja Turtles change the colours around and you could have Zoro or any other super hero (sorry I have limited super hero knowledge) I am thinking of making these in pink for my nieces for Christmas just because well why not.
Back in January I made a pair of leg warmers that had increases in the leg section and were a complete failure. There was no way they would fit a child. I got some more yarn and attempted again.
The pattern is Ballerina Bloom which I found on Ravelry. This time I used the magic loop method and knit them in the round that way. I am a big magic loop fan, it was much easier to knit the leg warmers this way. For the first leg warmer I used a row counter to count how much ribbing I did on the bottom cuff, noted this down on a piece of paper and was aiming to do the same amount on the top cuff. When I came to actually doing the top cuff I was away for the weekend, I grabbed my project but forgot to check if this vital piece of paper was in it. I had to guesstimate by measuring how long to make the cuff. A cuff doesn’t take long so once I finished it and started on the second leg warmers I had to once again guess how many rows to do.
This time I only did 2 sets of increases per leg warmer. I increased on the 12th and 24th row. This gave you some extra room but it didn’t make them too baggy. With magic loop you don’t have a seam running up the side of them so they were smoother on the inside too, this also allowed them to stretch more as there wasn’t a tight seam. I would make this pattern again with the increases but once again I wouldn’t add as many increases as the pattern calls for, after a couple of increases I think you need to make a judgement call if they are big enough for your child or if you have to add another couple.
Last year a very clever person came up with the idea of making a crocheted water balloon and as soon as I saw the idea I thought these are brilliant one day I will make them for sure. Well I have decided this year I am going to make them as my Christmas gift to the majority of the kids that I make for.
Now I know you are thinking a crocheted water balloon what the heck??? How does that work? So with a traditional water balloon you fill it up with water, tie it up and then toss it at someone. With a crocheted water balloon or water bomb you don’t fill it up instead you soak it in water for a few minutes to plump up then you can toss it at someone, you can keep doing this until all the water is out then place it in some water to plump back up. They are made from a really thick yarn that will absorb all the water, similar concept to how a microfibre cloth absorbs water. The pattern calls for Bernat Baby Blanket. The ball is a big 300g ball which is like the size of a football. It is thick and squishy.
The pattern says to use a 9mm hook. I have made them using a mixture of both 9mm and 8mm and to be honest there isn’t much difference in the size once you are finished. I can’t tell the difference between the ones I have made with the different hooks. I’m using Clover Amour hooks. They are comfortable on my hands, I invested in all the larger size hooks just after Christmas once I decided I was making these.
I know at the start I was putting an extra row in them by accident so I do have a few taller ones but the majority of the ones I am now making are about 6″ tall. To be honest it doesn’t matter what size they turn out they are still going to be played with. The reality is you can make these any size you like.
In Australia it isn’t the easiest to get the particular yarn the pattern is calling for. During the post Christmas sales I noticed Spotlight sold it so I stocked up on the yarn to make these but I could only get 2 plain colours that I thought would look fun. I purchased online 4 balls of each colour and they arrived in a big box that luckily Mr StitchNSew was able to bring home from the post office for me as there was no way I could carry it. I underestimated how many I would get from each ball, I basically calculated 1 ball per child thinking I would get about 5 balloons each. It turns out I am getting between 13-14 out of each ball. I’m happy with that it just means that each child will get more making it a nice Christmas gift.
There are many great things I love about these water balloons
- Environmentally friendly – No rubber balloons you need collect all the tiny pieces and toss in the bin.
- Reusable – Toss them in the washing machine to wash again for next time again better for the environment
- Great for any age – Under supervision of course a child of any age can fill these up and toss them about (even adults)
- Can be used in the pool – Who doesn’t like a water fight in the pool
- Super quick to make – These don’t involve a lot of counting so super easy to make
- Perfect to make in bulk
To give myself a break I decided I would start making these in January and work on them slowly. For 2 maybe 3 families of kids I make for these are the only toy they will get this year for Christmas. It is a pretty fun gift and I know they will enjoy them. These are really simple to hook up. I can sit in front of the tv and whip up 2 -3 in no time. I’m just doing a ball of yarn at a time placing the finished ones in a box. By starting to make them so early I’m taking the pressure off myself to finish them by a set deadline. I don’t want my gift making to stress me out this year. This is the perfect Christmas gift project.
Introducing Poop Dude!
I wanted to make a Christmas present for an 8 year old boy who wasn’t into little kids things anymore. I knew he had seen the Emoji movie so I wanted to make something with an emoji theme. On Ravelry I found the pattern Emoji Dudes by Adonia Neona Emerson which was perfect. It is a crochet pattern written in US terms. I used Stylecraft Special DK yarn which I had in my stash.
This toy was fairly quick to make. At first I started using a crochet hook with a metal grip but found my hand was really aching. With amigurmui toys you pulls the stitches tight so not to leave gaps between the stitches and I was really gripping the hook and putting strain through my hand. After I finished the head I had to order a 3.75mm clover amour hook before I could finish the rest of the body and the limbs. Once I started with the new hook it was a breeze to finish as the hook was so comfortable.
For me amigurmui toys are not something I can do in front of the tv, they involve so much counting that I need to concentrate on that only. Poop Dude was fun to make. Did I ever think I would crochet sh#%^ no but now I have 🙂 This is a great little pattern for your stash, it has 3 toys in the set which are all easy to make up.