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Author Archives: Becky Skuse

Put your heart into it

Hearts are an eternally popular symbol, but sometimes I’m a bit tired of seeing them used as just a fun design shape. It’s easy to forget what they mean: love, and living your life with warmth and kindness in your heart. With this in mind, I try to be careful how I use hearts and reserve them only for really special projects.

One such project was this heart embroidery filled with flowers, worked on crochet fabric, which I made as a decoration for our wedding:

Heart embroidery on crochet fabric

It was surprisingly simple to make by gradually building up the picture, starting with the stem stitch heart outline. Then I made the big two-tone straight stitch flowers, the chunky bullion knot blooms and the dainty satin stitch petals. I filled in the remaining areas with stems made of straight and feather stitches, and then tiny satin stitch buds. I used one of my favourite yarns, DMC Natura Just Cotton, which has some lovely, natural colours.

I wanted this heart to symbolise my love for my now-husband, which is like a warm garden full of beautiful flowers in all sorts of colours, sizes and textures, with new blooms developing all the time. I love looking at it!

It’ll have a new home once our house renovations are finished, but for now it’s hanging up with some other treasured items (including the lovely Welsh spoons gift we had, with the date of our wedding on):

Heart embroidery home

The other heart-themed project I made for our wedding was this chiffon wrap, trimmed with crocheted hearts:
(Sorry this photo is a bit rubbish – did you know that photographing white chiffon is really tricky?!)

Heart-trimmed chiffon wrap

I wanted to make a wrap to use as a cover-up in case it was cold, or if I felt a little self-conscious of showing off too much flesh! It was easy to make – I just bought 1m of chiffon (1.5m wide), folded it in half and hemmed around the edges, leaving a turning gap. I turned it through to the right side and topstitched around the edge, before sewing on the crocheted hearts by hand.

It was very simple to make, although I have to admit that I… um… totally ruined the first piece of chiffon that I bought by using a really old needle in my sewing machine. It pulled on the threads like mad – whoops! As soon as I got off my lazy rear and inserted a new needle, the second piece of chiffon ran like a dream through the machine. It was ok though, I cut up the ruined piece and used it for some other projects, which I’ll tell you about another time…

Anyway, so on our wedding day, it sat quite nicely around my arms and was handy for putting around me when it started drizzling! You can see me wearing it in this photo:

Me wearing heart-trimmed wrap

Here’s a close-up of the wrap, which featured cream hearts along each side and a blue heart at each corner:

Heart trim close-up

I used a lovely yarn to hook the hearts, Cascade Ultra Pima Cotton, which feels really soft and has a slight sheen that adds a luxurious look.

I wanted the hearts on the wrap to symbolise my love for handmade. With each stitch that I hooked, I thought about how much I love creating unique items by hand and I tried to put my heart into making each shape special – partly as a special gift to myself, but I also thought about the hearts being viewed by all our loved ones at our wedding and hoping they’d smile as they realised that of course I’d made it myself! When I finally wore the wrap on our big day, I definitely felt some of that love keeping me warm.

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Posted by on April 10, 2018 in Crochet, Embroidery, Sewing

 

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March Meet The Maker

Sometimes things happen that are exactly what you need at exactly the right time. I guess they balance out the times when the worst things happen at the worst time!

Anyway, I’m taking part in an Instagram challenge for crafters called March Meet The Maker and it’s been absolutely the perfect timing for me. After tentatively taking my first steps at getting back to blogging last month, this challenge has helped me to reconnect with social media and the big scary world, after my extended hibernation. It’s easy to forget how important it is to meet other makers and offer each other encouragement and, essentially, love.

Today is International Women’s Day and although not every maker is a woman, many are – and I’m proud of our passion for creativity. At one time, women were only recognised for their ability to do things like create babies, cook meals and keep a clean home. But now, we’re able to use our many talents (such as creativity, an eye for beauty, hard work, organisation and a lot else) to do so much more. I’m very proud to be a woman and feel grateful to the generations of women before us whose suffering and sacrifice helped to give us some of the freedoms we now enjoy. There’s more to do, but that’s another story…

Taking part in March Meet The Maker has reminded me that offering encouragement feels just as good as receiving it. The challenge has a different theme for each day of March and some of the themes have prompted me think about my making from a different angle that I hadn’t considered before. Here’s a brief overview of my posting highlights so far, with links to read more on Instagram:

 

Day 1: You – introduced myself and admitted that we’d like to get a dog soon!

 

 

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Day 2: Where – much of the UK was covered in snow on this day so there were lots of lovely wintery photos, including mine!

 

Baker boy hat with peak

 

Day 3: How you started – shared my first hat design and how far I’ve come since then!

 

 

Denim hat © Becky Skuse

 

Day 4: Favourite to make – revealed my love of hats and animals, and how I’d like to combine the two somehow…

 

 

Day 5: Photography – focused on my husband (he’s a photographer) and how much he’s done for me.

 

 

 

Day 6: Workspace – as I type, we’re having an extension done so the sofa is my workspace. When it’s finished, I will have a craft room which is super exciting!

 

 

Day 7: Routine – this was the most interesting day for me because I really struggled with what to say. I don’t have much of a routine, so I wrote about how I often get distracted by projects that organise my crafty goodies!

 

 

Day 8: Flatlays – the variety of photos was a treat for the eyes, while I posted the photo that forms the background to this blog!

 

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2018 in Other Crafts

 

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Cat love and marble cake

At the risk of seeming like I’m obsessed with the deaths of loved ones (!), today I’m thinking about my beloved cat Audrey who we had to say goodbye to four years ago today.

Our lovely little beauty-cat was a fluffy miracle who brought us joy every day and we were so blessed to have her.

We still miss her but luckily we have lots of photos and videos of her, including this super-cute video that my wonderful husband Jonny made of her: http://youtu.be/EN1sRi344FU (the music is so sweet!)

Just look at her gorgeous her fur… so soft and silky and intricately textured!

In remembrance of her, we decided to make a vegan marble cake (vanilla and chocolate) because the texture looks a bit like her beautiful tabby fur! (It tastes much better than her fur though!)

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2018 in Baking

 

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Um.. Hello?

Hello…? Is there anyone there? It’s been almost two years since my last blog post so maybe you’ve all moved on…

A lot has happened in two years. For me anyway. My Dad died… unexpectedly. And with dreadful timing. That has changed everything. Like an emotional bombshell. The person I was then has gone. It’s taken a long time to accept and rebuild the new me. There’s been sadness, anger, frustration, panic, self-doubt and despair. But throughout, I’ve clung onto tiny moments of joy that have kept me going.

One of the most important joys for me has been making things. I don’t think I’ve created my best designs in that time (!) but each make has given me a point on the horizon to aim for when I felt adrift in life.

So slowly but surely (and with the help of a wonderful therapist), I’ve made my way back to the shore of optimism. With both feet firmly back on dry land, I finally feel ready to get on with life again. And much to my own surprise, I want to blog again. Hopefully someone will be listening!

I have a lot of makes to share from the last two years, so I need to be patient and not post them all at once!

For now, I’ll leave you with this treasured picture I have, which was (lightly) coloured in by me and my Dad when he was in the hospital. It’s so full of joy…

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Stopped clocks 

Apologies for the lack of blog posts lately. I was busy with wedding preparations, and then my dad got sick. He’d been managing a lung condition for 2 years, but picked up a really nasty infection that turned into pneumonia. He died at the age of 62, 3 days before our wedding, which we cancelled. Since then, a lot of things have stopped including blog posts but I hope to return in time.

Until then, I’m enjoying this old blog post of mine about my super Dad: https://makemedo.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/what-a-super-man/

My Superman dad

My Superman dad

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Zigzag broomstick 

When I first started crocheting, I read somewhere that there were two classic types of project you had to try: one with granny squares (been there, done that) and one with zigzags or chevrons. Never one to do as I’m told, I let my crochet journey take me where it naturally wanted to go. And years later, it’s finally led me to zigzags.

As you may remember from my last post, I’ve been experimenting with broomstick crochet for Simply Crochet magazine. For part two of the how-to guide, I needed to think of a project that involved changing colour, increasing and decreasing, all in broomstick crochet. Blam! That was the sound in my head as the idea hit me: stripy zigzags.

Making a blanket with the technique would’ve been nice, but I didn’t have that much time so I decided on a shawl/wrap instead. Simply Crochet gave me some beautiful Cascade Ultra Pima cotton yarn in purple, yellow and lavender, and here’s the result:

Broomstick wrap flat

Broomstick wrap flat

I actually crocheted this over Christmas and New Year, so evokes really joyful feelings for me. There were so many rows to work that I took it almost everywhere, trying to squeeze in more rows at every opportunity, even to family gatherings. A girl can crochet and mingle, you know – although having a broomstick involved as well makes it slightly more challenging!

In total, I worked a whopping 111 rows, changing colour at least every three rows, sometimes more. I made a plan of the colour changes about 25 rows in, and then ignored the plan when I felt like doing something different! My only regret was not weaving in my ends as I went. It took me about as long to weave them all in as it took to work 30 rows. Groan.

But when it was finished, it all seemed worth it. I love the zigzag shape and how the colour changes create a different geometric effect all the way along. The lacy broomstick rows give the fabric a gorgeous drape, while the double and treble rows make sure the stripes are solid and keep their zigzag shape. Looking at the whole wrap, the pattern reminds me a lot of sound waves and tree rings – it almost vibrates with positive energy! Even close up, the pretty colour combinations and gentle wavy shapes have a relaxing effect. It’s just divine.

Broomstick wrap close-up

Broomstick wrap close-up

If you’d like to make your own broomstick zigzag wrap, it’s in the new issue of Simply Crochet (issue 43). Feel free to formulate your own colour scheme using any colours you want, but if you like the look of my wrap and want to use the same colour scheme, here’s a list of which colour I used for each row:

Row 1 Yellow
Row 2 Yellow
Row 3 Yellow
Row 4 Purple
Row 5 Purple
Row 6 Lilac
Row 7 Yellow
Row 8 Lilac
Row 9 Purple
Row 10 Purple
Row 11 Lilac
Row 12 Yellow
Row 13 Yellow
Row 14 Lilac
Row 15 Purple
Row 16 Purple
Row 17 Lilac
Row 18 Yellow
Row 19 Purple
Row 20 Yellow
Row 21 Lilac
Row 22 Lilac
Row 23 Lilac
Row 24 Purple
Row 25 Yellow
Row 26 Purple
Row 27 Purple
Row 28 Lilac
Row 29 Lilac
Row 30 Purple
Row 31 Yellow
Row 32 Yellow
Row 33 Purple
Row 34 Yellow
Row 35 Lilac
Row 36 Lilac
Row 37 Yellow
Row 38 Lilac
Row 39 Purple
Row 40 Purple
Row 41 Purple
Row 42 Yellow
Row 43 Yellow
Row 44 Lilac
Row 45 Purple
Row 46 Lilac
Row 47 Yellow
Row 48 Yellow
Row 49 Lilac
Row 50 Purple
Row 51 Lilac
Row 52 Lilac
Row 53 Yellow
Row 54 Yellow
Row 55 Lilac
Row 56 Yellow
Row 57 Purple
Row 58 Purple
Row 59 Yellow
Row 60 Purple
Row 61 Lilac
Row 62 Purple
Row 63 Purple
Row 64 Yellow
Row 65 Yellow
Row 66 Purple
Row 67 Yellow
Row 68 Lilac
Row 69 Lilac
Row 70 Yellow
Row 71 Lilac
Row 72 Purple
Row 73 Yellow
Row 74 Lilac
Row 75 Lilac
Row 76 Lilac
Row 77 Purple
Row 78 Yellow
Row 79 Purple
Row 80 Lilac
Row 81 Lilac
Row 82 Lilac
Row 83 Purple
Row 84 Yellow
Row 85 Purple
Row 86 Purple
Row 87 Purple
Row 88 Lilac
Row 89 Yellow
Row 90 Purple
Row 91 Lilac
Row 92 Purple
Row 93 Purple
Row 94 Lilac
Row 95 Yellow
Row 96 Yellow
Row 97 Yellow
Row 98 Yellow
Row 99 Purple
Row 100 Purple
Row 101 Lilac
Row 102 Lilac
Row 103 Lilac
Row 104 Yellow
Row 105 Lilac
Row 106 Yellow
Row 107 Yellow
Row 108 Purple
Row 109 Yellow
Row 110 Purple
Row 111 Purple

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2016 in Crochet

 

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Broomstick crochet

Learning new techniques is one of the best aspects of crochet – and there are so many different techniques to learn!

Recently, I got my head (and hands) around broomstick crochet, which involves creating long loops of yarn (wrapped around a ‘broomstick’) which you can then work standard crochet stitches into – the finished fabric is beautifully lacy. You can use almost anything as your ‘broomstick’ – I’ve tried it with a large knitting needle (worked well), the handle of an actual broomstick (a bit too big for me) and for the project below, a marker pen! (That worked surprisingly well, too.)

Being new to the technique, I started off by practicing with some spare yarn. Broomstick crochet is actually really easy to do, so I quickly progressed to making this little bracelet. With only 12 stitches to worry about, there wasn’t much for me to get wrong!

Broomstick bracelet

Broomstick bracelet

I’m really pleased with how it turned out. It was the perfect opportunity to use a pretty yarn from Bergere de France called Reflet, which combines a soft strand of organic cotton with a sparkly strand. I chose the Ocean colourway, but I’ve got my eye on the other shades for forthcoming projects (watch this space).

I decided to use buttons to fasten my bracelet and chose three that were small enough to pass through the broomstick loops – I think it’s neat that the fabric formed its own little buttonholes.

Bracelet buttons

Bracelet buttons

After finishing it, I was a little worried that the buttons were rather fiddly to undo and do up with one hand, but it soon became clear that wouldn’t be a problem – the next day I showed it to my friend and work colleague Becca Parker (from Knit Happens). The buttons were already done up and before I could say anything, she tried it on by stretching it over her hand. “Nooo!” I exclaimed. Fortunately, it didn’t seem to harm the bracelet, so that’s become my new method of putting it on! Problem solved, thanks to Becca 🙂

A small project like this is ideal when you’re first getting to grips with a new technique, so if you’d like to try broomstick crochet and even make the bracelet, check out issue 42 of Simply Crochet magazine (on sale now), which includes the pattern for the bracelet and a step-by-step guide to the techniques involved.

Broomstick bracelet flat

Broomstick bracelet flat

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2016 in Crochet

 

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