Thursday, 27 November 2014

Christmas Decorations Blog Hop (FREE Gingerbread Man Crochet Pattern)

I was asked by the lovely folks at Stitch Craft Create to make a Christmas decoration for their Christmas Blog Hop.  There have been 25 posts so far in the run up to the festive season. Yesterday we had an insightful book interview by Nicole of Follow the White Bunny with the author of Handmade Scandinavian Christmas, Hege Barnholt. She even made some paper decorations from the book.

I think as usual that I got the wrong end of the stick about the theme of the blog hop, judging by all the posts so far. Everyone else seems to have picked a project from a book to make or written a review. There are projects from Handmade Scandinavian Christmas, Washi Tape Christmas and Crochet Christmas Baubles to name a few. It is highly like that I was supposed to follow suit but instead I went off on a tangent and made something new!

Whilst pondering the subject for my blog hop I had a day out with a friend and her little girl who spotted a stall with beautifully decorated gingerbread shapes. We took a while to choose our victims from amongst the ranks of gingerbread people and it was almost a shame to devour them, they were so pretty. I got over the feeling soon enough as the gingerbread was delicious! I decided that my decoration would be my own take on this delicacy.

Made as he is of crochet, there is little danger of this little guy being eaten by the cat while he hangs on my Christmas tree, which is just as well because he can’t run like his ancestor in the fairytale could! I intend to make him some friends too, decorating them in different ways to create a variety of personalities.

Gingerbread Man Pattern

You will need:
DK yarn in biscuit / brown
4mm crochet hook
yarn needle
buttons and yarn / thread to decorate
stuffing (only if you are making a cuddly toy version, mine is flat with no stuffing)

MR – Magic Ring
dc – Double Crochet
dc2tog – dc 2 together
ch – chain
FO – fasten off
chsp – chain space
sk – skip
st – stitch

Note: All parts are worked amigurumi style in a continuous spiral. Use a stitch marker to keep track of the end of each round to avoid pickles, swearing and unravelling!

Rnd 1: 6dc into MR
Rnd 2: 2dc in each dc around (12dc)
Rnd 3: (dc in next dc, 2dc in next dc) around (18dc)
Rnd 4-7: dc in each dc around
Rnd 8: (dc in next dc, dc2tog) around (12dc)
Rnd 9: dc2tog around (6dc) FO.

Arms (make 2)
Rnd 1: 8dc into MR
Rnd 2-6: dc in each dc around
Rnd 7: dc in next 6 dc, dc2tog (7dc)
Rnd 8: dc in next 5 dc, dc2tog (6dc) FO.

Legs (make 2)
Rnd 1: 6dc into MR
Rnd 2: 2dc in each dc around (12dc)
Rnd 3-4: dc in each dc around
Rnd 5: dc2tog over next 8dc, dc in next dc around (8dc)
Rnd 6-8: dc in each dc around
Note: FO 1st arm but leave 2nd unfinished. You will continue the body from the top of this leg.

Continuing on from 2nd leg. Rnd 1 will join the two legs together. You will dc around the top of each leg, joining together with a ch1 space between them.
Rnd 1: Dc in next 7dc, 1ch, place hook in the top of 1st leg, just after where you fastened off, dc in next 8dc, 1ch, dc in last st of 2nd leg. (16dc / 2 chsp)
Rnd 2: (sk 1ch, dc in next 8dc) around (16dc)
Rnd 3-6: dc in each dc around
Rnd 7: (dc in next 2 dc, dc2tog) around (12 dc)
Rnd 8: dc in each dc around
Rnd 9: dc in next 4 dc, (moving across to top of 1st arm) dc in next 6 dc, (moving back to body) dc in next 7dc, (moving across to top of 2nd arm) dc in next 6 dc, (moving back to body) dc in last dc. (24dc)
Rnd 10: (dc in next 2 dc, dc2tog) around (18dc)
Rnd 11: dc in next dc, dc2tog around (12dc)
Rnd 12: dc2tog around (6dc) FO leaving long tail.

You could stuff the gingerbread man if preferred and you could add safety eyes to the head before finishing off if you want it as a toy. I wanted mine to look more like a biscuit so I left it unstuffed and added stitching around the edges to keep it flat.

Sew in all loose ends not hidden during the stitching of the body. Sew head and body together at neck with long tail on body.

Decorate your gingerbread with contrast yarn for ‘icing’ and buttons or beads for ‘jelly sweet buttons’. I gave my gingerbread a heart as well as buttons and used a blanket stitch around the edges as well as some couched stitches to create piping for cuffs and hems of his outfit. You could use any kind of embroidery technique you prefer for this. I would love to see how your gingerbread men turn out. 

Use this basic recipe to create all sorts of styles, you might even want to add hair or other decorations to create different characters.

Hanging loop
Sew a loop of ribbon or cord into the top of your gingerbread man, tie the ends and then poke the knot inside the crochet fabric to hide. You could do this before sewing up the head and body but if you forget that’s fine. (I did and mine worked out ok!)

Have fun making your decoration and enjoy the rest of the blog hop. The list of people taking part is here. Next up is the exceedingly talented Lauren of Guthrie andGhani. I can’t wait to read her post!

Friday, 7 November 2014

Christmas Makery

I made these for the Crochet Christmas Baubles book but had to send them away so it's back to the drawing board!

OMG! How did this happen?!!! I was going to be so prepared for Christmas this year, handmade gifts well under way and decorations done. That turned out to be an unrealistic dream and I have NOTHING done!

So the time has come to get things under control. I don't have too many things on my list but I certainly need to make sure that everything I make from here on in is a Christmas item. I plan on sticking to small things - nobody will be getting a blanket this year put it that way! I think some things like wrist warmers, mug cosies and that kind of thing would be good as gifts, and a few simple decorations to liven up the tree.

One thing which will help kick-start my Christmas creativity will be the blog hop I have been asked to join by Stitch Craft Create. I am to make a Christmas decoration and write about it. I have not decided what I will make yet but I imagine it could very well be crochet related! Whatever I make I will post some instructions in case you want to have a go at it yourselves. If all goes to plan my Christmas Blog Hop post should be live on 27th November and I will try to remember to link back from here.

Oh no! I just realised I need to make my Christmas cake too! Got my work cut out for me I think!

Last year's Christmas cake was lovely but all that decoration was hard work so I may scale back this time...

Hopefully you are all a little more organised with your gifts and decorations than me but if not, take comfort in the fact that I am in as much of a pickle as you are!

Happy last-minute-Christmas-crafting everyone!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Crochet Amigurumi Pumpkin Pattern

Great for Halloween, these cute, little, ghoulish gourds are quick and easy to make for seasonal gifts, toys or decorations. Stitch a different expression on each one to give them a personality! They can guard your trick or treat candy or hang in the window to scare passers by although you may hear more 'Awww' than 'Aghh' when people see them.

You will need

Stylecraft Special DK yarn
Stitch Marker
Yarn needle

Stitches & Techniques

Magic Ring
ch - chain
dc - double crochet
dc2tog - dc two together
sl st - slip stitch
tr - treble crochet
htr - half treble crochet
picot - ch2, sl st in 2nd ch from hook


With Spice
RND 1: 6dc into Magic Ring
RND 2: 2dc in each dc (12)
RND 3: dc in next dc, 2dc in next dc. (18)
RND 4: dc in next 2 dc, 2dc in next dc. (24)
RND 5: dc in next 3 dc, 2dc in next dc. (30)
RND 6: dc in next 4 dc, 2dc in next dc. (36)
RND 7-12: dc in each dc.
RND 13: dc in next 4 dc, dc2tog. (30)
RND 14: dc in each dc.
RND 15: dc in next 3 dc, dc2tog (24)
RND 16: dc in next 2 dc, dc2tog. (18)
RND 17: dc in next dc, dc2tog (12)
Add safety eyes about halfway down and 6 sc apart. Snap on washers and stuff firmly.
RND 18: dc2tog (6)
Fasten off leaving long tail. 


With Meadow
RND 1: 4dc into Magic Ring
RNDS 2-5: dc in each dc.
RND 6: 2dc in each dc. (8)
RND 7: 2dc in each dc. (16)
RND 8: *slst in next dc, (htr, tr, picot) in next dc, (tr, htr) in next dc, slst in next dc,* Repeat around to make 4 leaves.
Fasten off leaving a long tail.


With Copper
Cut a long strand and use a running stitch or back stitch to create 6 lines down the pumpkin from the top opening to the centre of the bottom.

Stitch the mouth. using black embroidery thread or yarn. I used a tiny couching stitch to hold down the curve of the mouth.

Hide all the ends of your detailing yarn and thread inside the opening of the pumpkin with the stuffing, then using the long Spice tail, neatly sew the opening closed.

Position the stalk over the top of the pumpkin and using the long Meadow tail make a few firm stitches through the base of the stalk and the top of the pumkin and back. Repeat around to secure the stalk but still allow the leaves a little movement  to create  character. After you have tied off the last stitch, bring the thread through the body of the pumpkin and pull it a little tighter, then cut the yarn and it will be hidden inside.

You could place these little characters all over your home for halloween. Try different expressions for a bit more fun. If you have a collection of tiny pumpkins you could turn them into seasonal bunting using some ribbon or twine.

Please Note: As with all my free patterns, you can sell items you make using the pattern and you can share the pattern on your own blog or elsewhere as long as you link back to me. Please do not resell the pattern as your own work. That's when I get cross!

Monday, 1 September 2014

Cactus Amigurumi Pattern

I have been meaning to make a little crochet cactus for ages now and looking online I saw lots which people had made to look like the realistic plants. These are brilliant but I already have a healthy collection of cacti which look as realistic as they come! So I thought, what is better than a cactus? The answer came to me; 'A cactus with a face!' And so my pattern came to be.

This little amigurumi cactus will never need to be watered. No matter how much you neglect her she will continue to smile at you from her place on the shelf. She will never spike you (even if you sit on her!) and she will stay in flower all year round. As I am not known for my green fingers (hence the cacti collection) this is my ideal plant!

The pattern only calls for a few odds and ends of Double Knit (light worsted) yarn so it is great for using up your stash. It uses simple stitches and typical amigurumi techniques such as the magic ring and working in a spiral. You could use any colour combinations you like for the pot and the flower and will just need two shades of green for the cactus itself and a brown or neutral for the sand/soil at the top of the pot. The rest is up to you!

My cactus has safety eyes but you could use beads or buttons, or you could embroider the eyes with black thread. I used plastic toy pellets in the base of my pot for weight but you could use sand, small pebbles or dry rice instead.

I need to make some friends now for this one. She tried to make friends with the other cacti but they are just too spiky!

If you buy my pattern and have any questions please comment here or email me. I would be glad to help. If you make a cactus and want to send me a photo I would love to see it! I am on instagram so you could tag me there or just drop me an email. I hope you have as much fun as I did making her!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Pumpkin Crochet Competition!

Hello everybody! I worked up this cute little pumpkin amigurumi crochet pattern for the guys at Stitch Craft Create to go out in their Autumn catalogue and I will pop all the instructions up here for those of you who don't receive their mailing, in time for you to hook up your own spooky cutie's for Halloween!

There's just this one thing...

... I would really like to get to 2000 followers on Instagram and I am a couple of hundred off so I thought it would be a nice way to pick up more followers if I ran this as a giveaway. I will therefore release the pattern when I reach my magic number. In addition to this I will send the three pumpkins shown in this photo to a lucky winner (drawn at random from all entries when I get to 2K followers). I hope you don't all think I'm being too mean making you wait!

So, to enter the competition you will need to:
Have an Instagram account (if you don't, get one! It is my fave ever social app - just wow!)
Be following @dottydoily
Be following @stitchcraftcreate
Re-gram the photo tagging @dottydoily and #ddpumpkinwin
When I get to 2k followers I will do the draw for the winner and launch the free pattern. Good luck everyone!

(A little note to private instagrammers. You will need to either comment on my original post so that I can follow you to see your entry, or send me a Direct message to take part.)

Thursday, 12 June 2014

How to tie a slip knot

"Let's start at the very beginning..." Maria was a sensible girl if you ask me. I thoroughly agree that it is a very good place to start! But rather than Do, Re, Mi, in Crochet we generally begin with a slip knot. There are other ways to start when you are working special kinds of crochet but for your granny squares, doilies and blankets, a slip knot is what you will need to get started.

Some of you will have no problem mastering this while others (like myself once upon a time) will have a bit more difficulty and end up with a knot that doesn't slip, or a slip that won't knot! I have photographed every stage I go through when creating a slip knot and hopefully it should give you a fool proof guide to that most important crochet fundamental! This is my first Crochet School instruction so if anyone reads this and finds it is not helping I am looking for feedback please!

STEP 1: Use the right hook for your yarn
Before you start to crochet make sure you have the right yarn for your project and the right hook for that yarn. Don't do as I did and pick up any old yarn and hook combo, then wonder why your granny square looks like a holey lettuce leaf! All yarns have a label which gives needle size information. Just switch this for your crochet hook.

Hook Size Charts
Yarn Weight Charts

STEP 2: Make a loop at the end
Now you are ready to start crocheting. Have your hook ready but for now just make a loop in the end of the yarn like I have here.

If it helps to start with, place it down like I have so you can compare with the photo. Sometimes it all looks a bit different when you hold it up in the air. That comes with practice and you will soon be wondering what all the fuss was about!

STEP 3: Pull up through the loop
Next, take the top strand (connected to the ball) and pull a loop up from under your first loop.

STEP 4: Insert the hook in the centre loop
Pop your hook under the new loop and over the old loop as shown.

STEP 5: Pull short end to tighten knot
Pull the short end of the yarn to tighten the base of the knot. Keep hold of the hook as you do so and the main loop (it is referred to as the working loop in patterns) will stay quite loose.
STEP 6: Pull long end to tighten onto hook
Pull the long end (connected to the ball) of the yarn whilst continuing to hold the hook and it will tighten the working loop onto the hook. You are all set and ready to begin crocheting!

Practice this several times to get used to it. If you have done it right you should be able to slip the knot off the hook, pull the short end and the whole thing will come undone so you can do it again.

I hope that you have found this post useful. If you are a beginner crocheter and want to ask my advice about anything hooky related please comment or email me and I will do my best to help. Think of my as your crochet Agony-Aunt - The one with the blue rinse and the Werthers Originals in her handbag!

Please feel free to use my tutorials to help in any way with your crochet projects. I am happy for you to share them, just make sure to link back to my site by way of acknowledgement.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Blog Hop

It's time for a blog hop! "And what might a blog hop be?" I hear you ask. It is a sort of digital trail of discovery - a great way for bloggers, and in this case creatives and makers, to expand their reading lists, find new inspirations and like minds, and generally have a great round of mutual back patting! 

This particular blog hop concerns makers, crafters, artists and creatives and these are just the sort of people who's blogs I love to discover. The idea is that each participant tags three more people so that the cycle continues endlessly one would hope, although that magic number has somewhat eluded me this week!

I was asked to take part in the hop by lovely lady Alice who wrote her blog hop post last week. Take a look back at hers and you can follow the trail back and forward from there too. I was so pleased to be asked and looking forward to writing my post. However, the last week has been a frantic flurry of emails and messaging to recruit my three other bloggers. And now, on the eve of my scheduled post I have had to admit defeat with just two bloggers at the end of my post. I hope this doesn't upset the equilibrium of the blogosphere! I will introduce you to them at the end of my post.

And now to the post itself. I was asked four questions which I will answer as best I can below and they should give you a bit of an insight into my process, such as it is!

1. What am I working on? 

While I am interested in all craft and am in awe of sewers and printers and knitters, it always comes back to crochet for me. Maybe one day I will pick up a needle and thread or try my hand at papercrafting but there is always something else to try - a new thickness of yarn, a new stitch, a different approach to working with colour or texture - so that crochet still holds me in thrall.

At present I am working on a mass of squares of all colours of the rainbow to cover an armchair I adopted and named 'Dorothy' and in whom I am sitting in whilst writing this post. The scale of the project is somewhat daunting so it is something I come back to every now and again in between other things. Maybe one day you will see a Ta-dah post with the culmination of my efforts showing Dorothy in her dazzling new coat of many colours!

By contrast I was asked this week to write a pattern for a little Pumpkin Amigurumi to be featured in a catalogue in September for Stitch Craft Create. I will also be posting it on my blog as it has been a while since I featured a free pattern. I worked it up yesterday afternoon and am thinking about making him some friends with different expressions on their faces now. Short and sweet!

A couple of months back I was asked to write a pattern for a great book about making accessories and decorations for your bike. The book is called Craft Bomb your Bike and is out in August but available to preorder now. Another of my patterns featured in 101 Ways to Stitch Craft Create Vintage earlier this year and I am pleased to say that both patterns were the featured projects on the front covers of their respective books!

My brain is always ticking away with new things to try and that small selection does not cover all my WIP's and UFO's such as a tapestry crochet cushion cover, a handbag and more, all hidden away in my drawer of doom! All will be resurrected at some point but I am a little excitable about new things and less so about finishing off old things!

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

I would say that whilst individual aspects of my work fit in with other examples of their genre, the fact that I am never content with just one kind of crochet, one application, one colour palette or one source of inspiration keeps my work fresh. 

You wouldn't be able to visit my blog knowing exactly the sort of thing you are going there to see, apart from it being crochet related! In general I prefer bright colours but I have even been known to use more subdued colour palettes so there really is no tying me down! Whilst I am in awe of the makers who are able to churn out beautiful blanket or bootie sets one after another, I don't think that is something I will be able or willing to do anytime soon! 

3. Why do I write/create what I do? 

I have always enjoyed the creative process - I used to love drawing and making and creative writing as a child and apart from a short break while I was busy being a teenager and early twenty-something, I have continued this obsession into adulthood. Paintings and stories have become graphic design and blogging, clay modelling and straw dollies have become crochet and so on. I think it is safe to say that I will always want to make something and then tell the world about it!

4. How does your writing/creating process work?

Inspiration strikes from so many directions that it is hard to keep up with it! For example, I could start researching something for work then spot a reference to a new method or find an unusual colour palette on pinterest or instagram and then suddenly I am away, trying something out, writing it all down, photographing it and sharing it on instagram, and then when I have finished the item and am ready to proudly show it to the world, I will either write it up as a pattern or tutorial or just as a final reveal if I am feeling precious about it, and up it pops on the blog!

Time is a huge constraint for me however, I wish I could make and write full time but I work full time as an Art Editor for a craft publisher and online craft store (which is brilliant BTW!) and when I am home, even without children in my life I find that there is a lot of boring stuff taking up my time. I love that I stay busy - I would be bored without every minute spoken for in some way but it would be great to have a few hours a week I could devote to dottydoily. Maybe one day...

I will finish off by introducing my fellow blog hoppers:

Jijihook is a French blogger who designs crochet amigurumis. She shares free crochet patterns and all her creative ideas on her blog. Since she is also fond of granny squares and artjournal, she has launched two linky parties that anyone can join at any time: the Granny Love Challenge (the idea is to crochet at least one granny per week) and the "Artjournal et Gribouillages" Challenge (the idea is to make one page of artjournal on a different theme every week). She also has an Etsy shop with English crochet patterns and I love her instagram feed @loisirspassion_jijihook

Jennifer is a full time teacher and part time mum, wife, gardener and crochet geek (not necessarily in that order). She took up crochet two years ago when her youngest child left home for art school and has not been able to put her hook down since! She blogs refularly and can be followed on Twitter as @JennyHSkye

I hope you enjoy reading their posts which will be out next Monday 16th June.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Beginner Crochet

This area is strictly for newbie crocheters looking to pick up a hook for the first time or those who know the basics and want to add some new stitches to their repertoire. I aim to build a library of photo tutorials and possibly video instructions (if I work out how to set up the tech), working through from that first slip knot and endless string of chains (which you will not be able to stop making once it clicks!) to all the usual stitch suspects and the different ways of working crochet. I will add in some information about yarn weights and hook sizes along with anything else I can think of that I had to go and hunt down somewhere on the internet when I was a beginner crocheter.

There is a TON of information available to anyone learning to crochet these days, with youtube videos and blog tutorials aplenty, there is hardly cause for me to reinvent the wheel here! And yet I feel the urge to give something back.

Here are some of the great blogs and resources I found inspiration and instructions from when I started out crocheting...

Attic24 - My first project was Lucy's Summer Garden Granny Square

Crochet Geek - All kinds of crochet tutorials with clear instructions

the Purl Bee - Great patterns and tutorials for crochet and more

Annaboos House - Cute, quirky and original patterns with clear photos and instructions

I started my crochet journey with a video here and a tutorial there, all available for free thanks to the hours of time given up by crochet guru's the world over who have blogged and recorded all their tips and tricks to help me and many others get to grips with a new craft. However, I Googled and Pinterested my way around the web to find each piece of relevant information I needed in a way which suited my style of learning so my hope is to create a cohesive source for beginners, free of charge and easily accessible right here on my blog, to save all that searching. I will include links to other brilliant bloggers and free patterns which I benefitted from in my early days as well as my own content, because part of the fun of learning is reading about different methods and tips which will vary between people.

Your comments are always invaluable to me - if I start putting stuff out here and it isn't helping at all - let me know! Or if you are just confused by one step or your work isn't turning out the same as the picture I show, get in touch! I will try to answer your questions as quickly as possible. It will take a while for me to build up this collection of information so bear with me and please ask if you are looking for a tutorial I haven't written yet - I will point you in the right direction if I can.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Hello Dolly!

I did it! I have just finished my live webchat about the My Crochet Doll book by Isabelle Kessedjian and I seem to have survived the experience! I was a bit nervous as I am sure you will be able to hear, and I can't believe how Northern my accent still sounds even after all these years of living in Devon!

If you have bought or are thinking of buying the book, this series of slides with commentary from myself and Ame at Stitch Craft Create may help answer a few questions you would have about the usability of the patterns. You may want to just watch it if you know me online for a giggle!

Here are some useful links  to help you with making your crochet doll or amigurumi:

My Instagram feed with some photos of my doll project as well as all sorts of bits and bobs.

#mycrochetdoll - loads of great photos with this tag on Instagram. If you tweet me with this hashtag and ask any questions you may have about making the doll I will see what I can do to help you!

Isabelle Kessedjian's Instagram feed is adorable and she has shared lots of images of the dolls.

Planet June has an amazing blog on which reside a great selection of really clear amigurumi tutorials and videos. She is a clever lady!

Stitch Craft Create is a great place for hooky supplies along with an ideas blog where there are lots of free tutorials and patterns for download.

Of course, if you want to message me here with any questions I will keep an eye out and try to help. I would stress that the book is really easy to follow and that you can make what looks like a really impressive project, using only one stitch and some careful counting. I really loved making mine!

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Dotty Doily's Dolly

Now here is a project I really enjoyed working on the whole way through. I work at the publisher of this great title by Isabelle Kessedjian called My Crochet Doll. I worked to drop in the translated text and prepare the book for printing as well as redesigning the cover for UK and US sales. Because of the hours I spent poring over the beautiful images of this gorgeous doll pattern and the amazing wardrobe of clothing options, I could not resist having a go and making one for myself.

Here she is! I really enjoyed making all the parts and sewing them together. The instructions were really simple and clear and there are lots of pictures in the front part of the book which show how the doll fits together. I had a slight calamity with the hair because I got so carried away giving her a thick mop of golden locks that I added too much yarn and the weight of it made her head sag down! I spent a lot of time unhooking random strands of hair to shed the ballast!

There are loads of outfit options in the book including various scenarios such as bedtime, outdoor wear, holiday wear and so on, dressing up clothes and accessories, and even some little companions for the doll. This video shows some of the cute little photos from the book to give you an idea.

I chose to use the basic wardrobe patterns to create my doll's clothes so that I could customise an outfit in the colours I liked. I may make some more later on but for now she has Trousers, boots, a jumper and even some knickers! I also made a few bits of my own design to accessorise her. There is no limit to using just the items from the book as long as you make things to fit the doll so I made a tiny beanie hat and then just because I could I made a weanie little cowl using this marvellous pattern from the lovely Annaboo's House blog.

I used Stylecraft Special DK yarn for the doll all the items and a 3mm hook rather than the standard size for that yarn which made the stitches a little tighter. The book suggests Bergere de France yarn but I love the feel and the range of colours in the Stylecraft range. Almost all of the patterns use just one stitch (double crochet UK / single crochet US) worked in an increase and a decrease to shape the pieces. It is a true masterpiece of amigurumi!

My crochet doll was finished around Christmas and yet she remains, chilling out in my craft room and generally looking cool and coordinating with things (over Easter she found a little friend to keep her company!) I have a lot of very tiny girl relatives who are a little too young for me to bear handing her over to just yet so I am keeping her although I am finding it a bit weird keeping dolls at my age! Maybe when one of the small girls gets a bit bigger and less hamfisted I will part with her, or if I have a little girl of my own I would make an heirloom of her.

If you are thinking of buying the book or have it but want to find out more before getting started on your doll, I will be taking part in a live Google Hangout session next Weds (30th April). You will be able to view the video on this page during and after the event but if you subscribe to the session here you will be able to ask questions during the discussion and I will do my best along with the help of my colleague Ame from Stitch Craft Create to answer them!

Saturday, 15 March 2014

My first Embroidery Project

I had so much fun making this cute little picture! For ages I have been wanting to have a go at embroidery. 

I acquired this brilliant little leaflet from a neighbour of my Mother last year on a visit up North (look at the price!) and it seemed to tie in with my existing wish to make a start with some stitchery! Ever since on the design of Kirsty Neale's first book 'Hoop-la!' and seen just how versatile an embroidery hoop can be, I have been fired with a need to make and frame an item within that simple circle of wood.

I began with a rather scribbly sketch on a piece of paper which I roughly transferred to a piece of neutral linen I had bought on an Abakahn spree on my trip up North. I only had a 2b pencil but a washable marker would have been much better. I was just suddenly so excited to begin I was winging it quite a bit! Then I started stitching.

I stitched the fox first. I like to throw myself in at the deep end so to speak! Using a simple backstitch to outline the shape, I then filled in with satin and scatter stitches, working to create the shape of the nose and make the tail look suitably bushy! I love his little black forelegs! His nose got a bit large but I'm not complaining for a first effort.

After stitching the lines on the tree trunk using stem stitch, I outlined the grass and filled it with different coloured running stitches. I used seed stitch to fill the leaves in on the tree and created the curved shape of the sun using shades of yellow and orange in different stitches to give it a sampler style. One of my favourite elements of this piece literally grew as I went along. These cute little agaric toadstools just seemed the right thing to add. Peering out from behind the tree trunk and flower stems, you have to look for them but its an 'aww' moment when you see them!

The flowers were created from an explosion of different stitches I wanted to try. lazy daisy being one, bullion knots were another (these are what make up the bush which my chirpy and exotic bird perches on. Not all the stitches have names as far as I am aware. The further I went, the more confident I became with how to create the shapes and colours I wanted.

Like I said at the start of this post, I really had fun with this and enjoyed every last stitch. Embroidery is for me a wonderfully creative medium in which to express some of my more artistic ideas. Whilst I have never been the world's best sketch artist, the slow speed of embroidery and option to pull back and reposition a stitch when it doesn't sit quite right, give me the confidence to embellish and decorate with a true sense of freedom.

This first piece will be hanging on my craft room wall but I think that next I would like to make an embroidered item for a particular purpose. Maybe a cushion cover or cloth of some kind. I like the idea of making some new heirlooms...

Saturday, 8 February 2014

A nice catch up!

I was shocked to see it is almost two months since I last blogged anything. When I think about everything that has been going on I am not really surprised but this does little to relieve the guilt!

So to catch you all up with a quick overview - Since my last post I have:

Made Christmas presents for some of my smaller relatives...

...and one for Darren of course!

Made this gorgeous little doll from a book published by my work. More on this soon - I shall do a review!

Lost over a stone with Weight Watchers - still a long way to go but making good progress!

Made and Decorated my Christmas cake - which I have been very good and only had a couple of slices of!

Got engaged to my darling fiancee Darren...

We visited my Mum in Preston just after Christmas, then went to the Lake District for the day on New Year's Eve for a walk. Part way around we stopped for a brew and a sandwich and he read me a poem he had written all about us, and asked me to marry him. I said yes (of course!) After our walk we drove to a little farm cottage he had booked for us and celebrated New Year in a lovely lazy, laid back style. We tucked in and watched the Godfather in our cozy little room together. He bought this beautiful ring for me - just perfect - and I am desperate to get it back from being resized but I must be patient! Wedding plans abound but we are aiming for next year to give ourselves some breathing (and saving) space.

Wrote a crochet project for a book - so much fun to make as it is in my usual crazy rainbow colours. The book will be published next year I think so I will post more on this soon.

Here's a sneak preview of the finished item. I just love the crazy rainbow colours!

Completed my tax return and filed online with about three days spare! Oh the agony!

Became a master of procrastination and learned to embroider when I should have been completing my tax return! Here is my progress on a little sampler I have been experimenting with. I just sketched out a few elements and started stitching, working out the colours as I went and changing a few things along the way. I am really pleased with how this is looking and aim to frame it within the hoop and maybe use an edging method from hoop-la!

Begun creating crocheted rainbow squares to cover my little old lady chair 'Dorothy' up in the craft room...

It is quite a big project to take on but I know that if I just do a little bit at a time I will eventually have enough to cover her. Then the challenge will be getting all the pieces fixed together and stitched to the chair. I am researching upholstery and looking any images I can find to see how this would be done. So far I have come up with a curved needle and that is about it! I think I need a Pinterest board for this so I will post more when I have more to share.

So...What next then?

Well, I will focus in on completing a few things so you should see a few posts which are concentrated on a particular project. I think I should make sure I detail the chair project and give any advice I can as I have not found much on the subject online and think this would be valuable info for yarny upholsterers!

I desperately want to restock my shop and will try to make things for this at the weekend. I started experimenting with marbles in the week so these might appear soon if I can bear to part with any of them!

The stitchery was something I found really enjoyable so there may be more of this to come too. This year was supposed to be the year I got to grips with my sewing machine and I have not begun that journey yet... I'm scared!

I think that's enough to be getting on with for now isn't it!

I hope you are all having fun so far this year with all of your projects, hooky or otherwise!