The Owl and the Pussycat teacosies

I remember finding a magnificent book in the library a while ago – Really Wild Tea Cosies by Loani Prior. Before then, I hadn’t thought much of tea cosies except that they were either the functional ugly sort or the twee lacy things that were not my sort of thing at all. And anyway, who still uses teapots? One quick flick-through in the musty hush of the library however changed my  outlook. Tea cosies are so much fun that I instantly dug out my mother’s tea pot(s) to start designing tea cosies!

As ever, the design process was not easy as for some undefinable reason, I wanted a theme. Inexplicable really as you never see more than one teapot or tea cosy on the table at once. Nevertheless, that’s what I wanted to do. Inspiration struck during speech and drama homework time one night, and these characters were born. I have always loved Edward Lear’s The Owl and the Pussycat and now just need to work out how to incorporate a pea-green boat…

The Owl and the Pussycat TeaCosies.It is super easy to make standard tea cosies. Just sit down with your favourite teapot, some measuring tape, variety of yarn, knitting needles and embroidery needle. Knit a swatch so you know what your gauge is. Measure the widest part of your teapot. Knit a rectangle to reach half way around your pot and to its fullest part. To give you an idea, I used standard DK and a four person teapot. I cast on 40 stitches and knitted 26 rows. Reduce by 4-6 stitches every other row for two rows to get a nice shape. Knit until you reach the top of your lid. Cast off. Repeat but add in another colour/yarn type to add interest in the front. Sew the bottom corners together. Sew the top and corners together, emphasising the corners to create the ears. Embroider the face. Brew your tea and enjoy.

The Pussycat teacosy
The Owl Teacosy

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Happy Easter to you All!

It’s a holiday weekend so I will keep this short – I made this daffodil to share with you for Easter. I adore yellow and I have an aran weight speckled cotton mix yarn that I think is perfect to bring the daffodil to life. Daffodils are one of the first spring flowers and I don’t know one person who doesn’t like them.

daffodil 1

I used this pattern by the clever Rachel Borello and made the following alterations – rather than sewing the petals together and then sewing the trumpet to the petals, I crochet the trumpet directly to the stitches of each petal. This makes the trumpet stand proud and firm, just like on a real daffodil.
easter daffodil

And for my boys, I made this – an Easter Bunny surprise with really chunky craft yarn  and size 8mm crochet hook. Easter Bunny Surprise

And the nice surprise for me is that the basket turns into a Thingymejig tidy that I know every child needs!
Thingymejig Tidy

I hope you and your family enjoy the Easter weekend. Thank  you to all my followers for coming back to read my yarny musings.

 

It’s a rewarding crochet pattern hello and welcome to my new Followers.

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Spring Inspiration – a collection of patterns

Now that Spring is officially here,  I’ve been looking around for inspiration for lightweight spring-like patterns. I’d like to share them with you.

My current favourite is called Spring Cloud - the shawl neck and the combination of mohair and merino make this top warm and floaty, just like a spring cloud. And the simpleness of the pattern will just make it fly off the needles.
spring cloudSpring also means lace – the wide stitches trap air and keep you warmer than you think. Here are three patterns that have gone on to my ever-growing “To Do” list.

1. The Dahlia Cardigan – a perfect mix of floral but modern lace, flowing lines (it has a waterfall front) and ease of use.
dahlia cardigan back

2. Feminine Spring top – great to take you from office to party seamlessly.
spring top

3. I love this one as I like layered looks and this top would look fantastic over a polo neck or bikini – Stonecutter sweater
stonecutter sweaterTo ward off those chilly Spring winds here are two wraps that caught my eye.

1. The Clementine shawl with a clever narrowed tie at each end to keep the shawl in place when it’s windy without having to hold on.
clementine shawl2. The dramatic Shipwreck shawl. This shawl has so many wonderful textures linked to the sea that I just had to get this into my list although it has nothing to do with Spring.
shipwreckAnd then of course there are the children. If mine were younger, I could just see the two of them in brightly coloured useful vests like these:
spring vestFinally, I just had to share this with you. You would never have thought that a mere six months ago I thought door wreaths were a little too twee for me. I now love them! They’re individual, fun and decorative without breaking the bank. You can make one to celebrate any occasion. And this Spring wreath has the added advantage, if any more were needed, that you could upcycle a scarf to make it. Love it!
spring wreathAs ever, my problem is lack of time. Hope you like some of these patterns.

 

 

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Super-Easy Soft Toy Pattern to make BaaBaas, Thumpers, Teddies and More!

There are so many wonderful patterns to make soft toys of all shapes and sizes but many of them tend to be quite complex and/or fiddly. I wanted to create one pattern which could be used to make almost all types of soft toy animal quickly and by beginners too! And since this is so easy, you have plenty of time to make several before Easter.

You may have already seen sneak previews of Thumper and BaaBaa and now here is the pattern. The secret here is not the complexity of the pattern or the close to likeness of the finished toy, but the character. Choose yarn to help bring your chosen animal to life – bobbly for sheep, fluffy for rabbit, boucle for bear, self-striping for cat etc. Play around and have fun with the placing of the facial features – depending on where you put the nose and the size, your BaaBaa may very well turn into a Piglet or even a chunky version of Angelina Ballerina!

BaaBaa

You will need total of 100g in total any weight yarn – just don’t mix weight if you are using more than one colour. I used bulky weight yarn needing 6mm needles and the soft toys are around 30cms long.
Appropriate sized knitting needles for your yarn.
A little patience.

To make the arms and legs:
Cast on 8 stitches leaving a long tail.
Knit front and back in each stitch along (16 stitches).
In stocking stitch knit until 8cms long.
Cast off.
With long tail, sew into a long tube. Stuff lightly and sew together the ends.
Repeat 3 more times.

To make the Body
Cast on 38 stitches leaving a long tail.
In stocking stitch knit until 10 cms long ending with a WS row.
Next row: k2, *k2tog, k4*, repeat from * to * 6 more times, k2 (32 stitches)
Next row: P all stitches.

Back of Head
Next row: Put 16 stitches on scrap yarn or stitch holders. In stocking stitch knit 5cms ending with a WS row.
Next row: slip 1 stitch, k8, k2tog, k1, turn.
Next row: slip 1, p3, p2tog, p1, turn.
Next row: slip 1, k4, k2tog, k1, turn.
Next row: slip 1, p5, p2tog, p1, turn.
Next row: slip 1, k6, k2tog, k1, turn.
Next row: slip 1, p7, p2tog, p1, turn. (10 stitches).

Put these 10 stitches on a holder and the previous 16 stitches on to the needles.

Face
Row 1: k6, ssk, k2tog, k6 (14 stitches)
Row 2: P all stitches
Row 3: k5, ssk, k2tog, k5 (12 stitches)
Row 4: P all stitches
Row 5: k4, ssk, k2tog, k4 (10 stitches)
Row 6: P all stitches
Row 7: k3, ssk, k2tog, k3 (8 stitches)
Row 8: P all stitches
Row 9: k2, ssk, k2tog, k2 (6 stitches)
Row 10: P all stitches
Row 11: k1, ssk, k2tog, k1 (4 stitches)
Row 12: P all stitches
Row 13: ssk, k2tog (2 stitches)
Row 14: P all stitches
Cut yarn leaving a long tail and pull through remaining 2 stitches.

You will now use the 10 stitches from the back of the head to add the sides of the face.
Set up row: With RS facing, pick up and knit 10 stitches along side of back of head, along 10 stitches from scrap yarn/stitch holder and pick up and knit 10 stitches along other side of back of head. (30 stitches)
Row 1: Purl all stitches
Row 2: k3, ssk, k13, k2tog, ssk, k3, k2tog, k3 (26 stitches)
Row 3: Purl all stitches
Row 4: k3, ssk, k11, k2tog, ssk, k1, k2tog, k3 (22 stitches)
Row 5: Purl all stitches
Row 6: k3, ssk, k9, k2tog, ssk, k1, k2tog, k1 (18 stitches)
Row 7: Purl all stitches
Row 8: k2, ssk, k5, k2tog, ssk, k2tog, k3 (14 stitches)
Row 9: Purl all stitches
Row 10: Knit all stitches
Row 11: Purl all stitches
Row 12: k2, ssk, k3, k2tog, ssk, k2tog, k2 (11 stitches)
Row 13: Purl all stitches
Cut yarn with a long tail and thread through remaining stitches.
Pull tight.

Sew Body together and Face to Head. Before closing, stuff lightly. Sew legs and arms on. With contrast yarn, sew nose and eyes. Add ears.

Rabbit/Dog ears – as for Legs.
Sheep/Cat ears - Cast on 2 stitches leaving long tail. Knit front and back in all stitches. Purl all stitches. Knit 1, kfb, kfb, k1. Purl all stitches. K1, kfb, k1, kfb, k1. Knit for 3 cms.
Teddy/Lion ears – as for Legs except only knit for 3 cms.
For all ears, it works better if you sew the ears together length ways for a few stitches at the base before attaching them to the head.
thumper
You are welcome to make tails. I didn’t.

Do let me know how you get on and which animal you make!

 

 

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14 ways to Join your Crochet

I’ve recently seen a lot of crochet blankets being worked on. I have also finished one a few days ago. As a result, I’ve been thinking of the best ways of joining crochet work.

After a little research, I was amazed to see how many different ways there are to do this. Choosing a method depends on the colour, design and effect you want to create. So here are 14 ways to join your work. Let me know if you can think of other methods. Click on the titles for a link to a tutorial.

Whipstitch - sew them together. Nice, flat and involves a needle.
whipstitch

“Zipper” Method – amazing flat crochet join which makes a feature out of your join.
zipper methodInvisible Seam join – the opposite of the Zipper Method.
invisible seam joinUnusual “Dude” Join – I’m not sure how to describe this but it is very pretty
dude joiningSlip-stitch join – easy and neat
slip stitch joinChain join – simple, decorative and lacy.
chain joinSingle crochet join - the one I tend to use.
single crochet joinInvisible join – magic!
invisible joinScallop join – a classic and elegant join.
scallop joinFlat Braid join – provides a lovely frame for your crochet.
flat braid joinSimulated Braid join – for when you want to go all out.
simulated braidGranny square join – the old faithful.
granny square joinJoin as you go - for those who just have no patience (like me)join as you go

 

Tunisian Crochet join – I MUST learn this technique!
tunisian crochet join

Do you know of others?

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Dog Coat – a Quick Pattern

Last week I asked whether I should knit my spoilt pooch a coat and the response was an overwhelming “Yes”. So I got on with it and for the time being, I left the work-intensive angel wings intarsia for another time and stuck with safe stripes instead. So what do you think? Of the coat of course! I already know the dog is cute.

dog coat 2

My husband thinks that she looks like a colourful armadillo. And the pooch herself doesn’t much care for the extra layer of wool  on her back. I’m hoping that when it is truly windy and cold, she’ll be happy for the insulation.

It took me a while to come up with something I was happy with. There are many designs out there – v-necks, polo necks, leggings, lace, spots, shark fins and the works. I did want something plain-ish with as few fussy buttons or fastenings as possible. My dog doesn’t sit still long enough to fuss around with buttons too much. And whilst charging around, the buttons are likely to get pulled off so I wanted a pull on, pull of design but nothing round the legs as she wouldn’t walk with leggings on.

If you’re interested in the pattern, here it is:
You will need standard DK in two colours. I chose a self-striping orange/yellow/green which I have been in love with for a while, and was just waiting for the right project and a bottle green to really make the stripes “pop” and 3.5mm and 4mm knitting needles.
Tension is 22 stitches to 29 rows – 10 cms on 4mm.

It’s important to measure your dog, obviously, but I’ve got a medium sized pooch and this fits her well. If you know your tension, you can increase/decrease the size as required.

Using 3.5mm needles cast on 70 stitches and knit in seed stitch for 6 rows.
Using 4mm needles and in stockinette, knit two rows of each colour and at the same time increase one stitch each end of every alternate row twice. You don’t need to cut the yarn for each colour change, you can carry it on the side but make sure you don’t pull it too tight.

Carry on in pattern until the fabric covers your dog’s back – about 50 cms in the case of my pooch. End with a RS row.

Next WS row – continue in pattern for 35 stitches. Put the rest of the stitches on a holder. Continuing in pattern, decrease 1 stitch at neck edge of next 3 rows, then decrease 1 stitch at neck edge every alternate row four times, then decrease 1 stitch at neck edge on the fourth row. 27 stitches.

Continue in pattern for the next eight rows then whilst knitting in pattern, increase 1 stitch at neck edge on the fourth row, increase 1 stitch at neck edge every alternate row four times, increase one stitch at neck edge for the next 3 rows.

Join with live stitches from holder to form the neckhole. With 3.5mm circular  needles pick up and knit six rows of seed stitch to stop the material from curling – but this is not necessary. Similarly using 3.5mm needles, pick up and knit six rows of seed stitch around the edge of the coat.

For the strap – using 3.5mm needles cast on 12 stitches and knit in seed stitch until it is long enough to hold the edges of the coat snug on your dog – for mine it was around 15 cms.

Sew strap to edge of coat, button to the middle of the strap and create a loop for the button to go into on the opposite end of the dog coat. If necessary, block lightly avoiding seed stitch edges.dog coat 1

If you use this pattern, please send me a photo of the finished item!

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Knitting Funnies

Because it’s already been one Hell of a week. Because I’m sure you need a laugh too. Because all my projects are almost done and I’m lacking in motivation to make myself finish them. Here are some knitting funnies to brighten your day.

Enjoy!

funnies1 funnies2 funnies3 funnies4 funnies5 funnies6 funnies7

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Spring is for Flat Caps – a Pattern

Flat caps are known by many names: longshoreman’s cap, scally cap, Wigens cap, ivy cap, golf cap, driving cap, Jeff cap, in Scotland, bunnet, in New Zealand, cheese-cutter. The main thing is that they are for Spring! They give just the right coverage to protect against that North-Eastern cutting wind but don’t have the winter bulkiness – or pompoms. Plus, they seem to be really cool at the moment.

Flat Cap

You will need yarn which is quite firm and scrunchy feeling to make sure that the cap has good body and doesn’t flop. Use aran weight yarn – this pattern looks good in self-patterning yarn. The cap knits up easily – being made out of seven triangles sewn together to create, with a visor.

flat cap

Gauge 18 sts and 24 rows = 10 cms with 4.5 mm needles.

Triangles – make eight:
With 3.75mm needles cast on 13 stitches
In stocking stitch knit six rows.
Change to 4.5 mm needles.
Increase rows: k2, m1, (k3, m1) 3 times, k2. (17 stitches).
In stocking stitch knit 19 rows.
Next row: k1, k2tog, k11, ssk, k1. (15 stitches).
In stocking stitch knit 3 rows.
Next row: k1, k2tog, k9, ssk, k1. (13 stitches).
In stocking stitch knit 3 rows.
Next row: k1, k2tog, k7, ssk, k1. (11 stitches).
In stocking stitch knit 3 rows.
Next row: k1, k2tog, k5, ssk, k1. (9 stitches).
In stocking stitch knit 3 rows.
Next row: k1, k2tog, k3, ssk, k1. (7 stitches).
Purl 1 row.
Next row: k1, k2tog, k1, ssk, k1. (5 stitches).
Purl 1 row.
Next row: k1, slip 2, k1, pass slipped stitches over, k1. (3 stitches).
Next row: p3tog.

Cut yarn and draw through stitch.

When you have all seven triangles, sew together to form a circle. I sewed mine with the seams on the outside to create distinct ridges.

Upper Brim

Starting at seam and with 4.5mm needles, pick up and knit 33 stitches covering three sections.
Purl 1 row.
Next row: k2, kfb, (k1, kfb) 4 times, k11, kfb, (k1, kfb) 4 times, k2. (43 stitches)
Purl 1 row.
Next row: k1, ssk, k to last 3 stitches, k2tog, k1. (41 stitches)
Next row: p1, p2tog, p to last 3 stitches, ssp, p1. (39 stitches)
Next rows: decrease 2 stitches as set in the previous two rows until you have 25 stitches.

Bind off.

Make the bottom brim by casting on 33 stitches and working as above.

Sew second brim to the bottom of the top brim with knit stitches facing outside.

Work in all ends.

If the cap is too loose on your head, pick up and knit 33 stitches on three sections opposite from the brim. K2tog along the stitches. Try on to check the fit. Cast off when you have a good snug fit.

Flat cap

 

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Dog Coats – Wrong or with Angel Wings?

Picture this: a small dog with characterful facial hair wearing a dog-coat which leans slightly towards the loud. What sort of owner would you associate with this sort of canine? I have to be honest, but I always scoffed at dogs in coats and secretly at their owners. I mean, you never see a serious dog wearing a coat do you? Why anthropomorphise animals?

And this is where my dilemma starts. I am the owner of a mid-sized (on the small side of middle) dog. She appears in a few of my photos and even in my video. I am embarrassingly “in love” with her as she is my first dog ever and I’ve wanted a dog ever since I was a little girl. Two weeks ago she had a healthy trim – read shorn. And since then, she is cold. And shivers. A lot. And we’re off to colder climes soon for a long weekend. I’m sure you’ve picked up where this is leading to.

Should I do it? Should I knit my pooch a coat to stop her shivers? I’m thinking tasteful stripes or perhaps a little colour work showing a snazzy pair of wings.

angel wings

My family have been uncharacteristically unsupportive. In fact, laughing at the idea is closer to the truth. I’ve been accused of earning yet another stripe towards my “batty-old-woman” monicker.

Should I add a coat?

purdey2

 

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Choosing Colours – the technical way

I love knitting with self-striping yarn as it automatically gives the end project colour and depth. I’ve noticed that when I want to work with one-coloured yarn, but with a contrasting colour, I tend to become a little unsure. And perhaps stick with well-known favourites. This puzzled me a bit as usually people comment on my use of colour.  So I decided to do a little research on this. And it all became rather complicated. Perhaps this is why patterns requiring stripes or alternate use of colour so very rarely tell you what colour to use. Either you play safe and copy the colours from the photo of the pattern or you’re out on your own!

I was a little startled to discover that colours are not just light/dark, pastel or strong. They actually have three dimensions (!), hue, value and saturation.

Colour Wheel

So, hue. That’s the colour. Say, blue. Looking at the colour wheel above, you can see blue is next to violet and blue/green and opposite orange. Using the colour wheel tells you that hues opposite each other will provide a nice contrast, or compliment, whereas colours next to or near each other are more likely to blend into each other, or be analogous. So far so good.

Then there’s value. This refers to whether the colours are dark or light i.e. whether they are closer to black (low value) or white (high value).

And finally there is saturation. This is the hardest to pinpoint as it is perhaps the most subjective. Saturation is the measure of intensity of colours. The highest saturations are the pure, primary colours. The lower the saturation, the closer the colour is to grey. Very interesting to experiment with this using paints.

The idea of understanding colours in a slightly technical way is that you can make conscious decisions about  your colour choices which is no bad thing. After all, if you’re hoping to create a calming blanket but you have chosen colours which jump around the colour wheel, you will know that you will have a jazzy creation instead.

I wasn’t allowed to play with my son’s paints but I did a little experimenting with yarn instead.

Monochrome

monochromeCheerful
cheerfulNeutral
neutral

Cool
cool colour schemeAutumnal
brown and yellow

Warm
warmNautical
nauticalContrast
greens1Fruity
berry colour schemeSome colours make each other “pop” – watch the brown next to the orange in the Warm photo and contrast it in the Neutral photo. Same yarn, same light.

Have fun and experiment!

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