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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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All Sorts sewing guide

If you saw my last post, you’ll know that I made these cute crocheted liquorice all sorts recently:

Crochet All Sorts

Crochet All Sorts

If you’re interested in making them, you can get the pattern at my Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/MakeMeDo

While designing these, I found that the shapes were all pretty simple – except for the round slices for the Coconut Chips and Button sweets (the Coconut Chips are the ones that look like eyes in the picture above and the Buttons are the ones covered in seed beads).

As (bad) luck would have it, the Coconut Chip was the one that I decided to make first, so this one took me considerably more time than the others and included a lot of huffing and puffing about why I couldn’t get it to look how I wanted!!

Eventually, I came up with a design that works, but it does involve an unusual technique for sewing up. So I decided to put together this step-by-step guide to demonstrate how the method works – plus I’ve got a few extra top tips along the way to help generally with sewing up projects, which will be especially useful when you’re making toys or other stuffed items.

Ready? Here we go…

Step 1: The round slice shape of the Coconut Chip and Button sweets are made up of two crocheted halves, so you need to hook these two halves first and fasten off, leaving a really long tail (approx 20cm) on one of the halves:

Fasten off, leaving a long tail

Step 1: Fasten off, leaving a long tail

Step 2: Now make sure the right side of each crochet half is on the outside:

Check it's right side out

Step 2: Check it’s right side out

Step 3: Push each starting tail end of yarn inside each half – this neatly hides the end and acts as light stuffing for the sweet. You can use your finger or the blunt end of a tapestry needle:

Stuff with starting tail

Step 3: Stuff with starting tail

Step 4: Now you need to flatten each half, squeezing it between your thumb and finger to press the piece into a flatter circle:

Flatten each half

Step 5: Flatten each half

Step 6: Thread the really long tail end of one crocheted half onto a tapestry needle – I like to use one with a needle with a large eye and a tapered (but not sharp) point:

Thread long tail onto tapestry needle

Step 6: Thread long tail onto tapestry needle

Step 7: Now you can bring together your two halves, with wrong sides together. The shape works best if you position the fasten off points of each half so they’re opposite each other. You can leave the tail end of the other half running to the outside for now:

Put the two halves together

Step 7: Put the two halves together

Step 8: Press the two halves together and roughly line up the stitches. Now you can start sewing them together. Start by taking the tapestry needle from the wrong side fasten off point to the right side of the fasten off point, to the right of one double crochet (US single crochet) stitch from the last round of crocheting:

Start sewing up

Step 8: Start sewing up

Step 9: Identify the dc (sc) stitch that lies to the left of the tapestry needle and insert the needle behind the front two strands of yarn that form this stitch:

Insert needle behind first dc (sc) stitch

Step 9: Insert needle behind first dc (sc) stitch

Step 10: Pull the needle and yarn through, but not too tight. Now identify the dc (sc) stitch that lies directly below this stitch, on the other crocheted half. Insert the needle behind the front two strands of yarn that form this stitch:

Insert needle behind dc (sc) below

Step 10: Insert needle behind dc (sc) below

Step 11: Pull the needle and yarn through, but not too tight – you’re aiming to join the two halves together, but without forming a dip in the side wall of the sweet. Now identify the next dc (sc) stitch on the other crocheted half above – it will lie slightly to the left of this stitch. Insert the needle behind the front two strands of yarn that form this stitch:

Insert needle behind dc (sc) above

Step 11: Insert needle behind dc (sc) above left

Step 12: Pull the needle and yarn through, but not too tight. Now identify the next dc (sc) stitch on the other crocheted half below – it will lie slightly to the left of this stitch. Insert the needle behind the two strands of yarn that form this stitch:

Insert needle behind dc (sc) below left

Step 12: Insert needle behind dc (sc) below left

Step 13: Repeat the action in Steps 11 and 12 to join each stitch to a parallel stitch on the other crocheted half. Keep going until you get back to where you started – work into the stitch where you started to secure your join:

Work around to the first stitch

Step 13: Repeat around to the first stitch

Step 14: Now take the needle through to the opposite side of the sweet, without pulling too tight:

Step 14: Insert needle to other side

Step 14: Take needle to other side

Step 15: Carefully knot this tail end to the other tail end on the other side, being careful not to pull too tight – you don’t want to form a dreaded dip in the side wall. Now use the needle to take both tail ends through to the other side, again, without pulling tight:

Step 15: Take needle to other side

Step 15: Take needle to other side

Step 16: You should now have a small tail end of yarn inside the sweet, so it’s safe to cut off the excess yarn, leaving approx 1cm:

Step 16: Cut yarn

Step 16: Cut yarn

Step 17: Use the tapestry needle to push the excess 1cm of yarn inside the sweet – you might find it easier to use the blunt end of the needle:

Step 17: Push tail end inside

Step 17: Push tail end inside

Step 18: Your sweet should now be finished:

Step 18: Finished sweet

Step 18: Finished sweet

Step 19: The key aim with this joining method is to get a smooth side to your sweet so don’t pull too tight and don’t worry if you can see your stitches – there are so many strands of yarn that no one will know that some of the strands are joining stitches:

Step 19: Check the side wall

Step 19: Aim for a smooth side

Hope you get on ok with this and let me know if you have any problems or questions 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2015 in Crochet, Sewing

 

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Make: Doggy doorstop

You may have noticed that I’m something of an animal lover. I think many people are, and this might explain why one of my most popular makes has been a doggy doorstop that I made back in 2012.

Doggy doorstop

Doggy doorstop

Well, I’ve finally got round to putting together the pattern, and he’s the main attraction of my new Etsy shop!

The new shop is at www.etsy.com/uk/shop/MakeMeDo

He’s a fairly straightforward make, so I’m surprised that the pattern runs to 21 pages! That includes loads of diagrams and photos though, and the template pieces, and I’ve given all the instructions plenty of space (I hate when patterns are cramped).

This little guy is such a cutie, he’s been holding our kitchen door open for almost three years now and he makes me smile every day…

Dog doorstop in situ

Dog doorstop in situ

 

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2015 in Sewing

 

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Stylish neckerchief

Yes, my obsession with hairpin crochet has been continuing into September… this time, I’ve been making something that’s a first for me – a neckerchief.

I don’t remember ever wearing a neckerchief, but I’m told that I have a long neck so I can carry it off – I’m taking that as a compliment! For now though, I’ve enlisted the help of my bust, Betsy, who seemed to enjoy wearing it…

Neckerchief side

Neckerchief side

I made this for Simply Crochet magazine and they gave me an alpaca yarn for it, which I wouldn’t usually choose, but it was incredibly light and soft – perfect for something being worn right next to the skin.

I really like the autumnal shades of lilac and damson, and how the darker shade joins the lighter hairpin strips to form lacy stripes. You could use any spare yarn though – the whole thing only used 12g of the UK Alpaca Superfine DK yarn.

Since I’m such a neckerchief novice, I’m not sure whether I prefer it tied on the side (above) or at the front (below)…

Neckerchief front

Neckerchief front

Which one do you prefer the look of? As part of my research, I looked at a lot of videos on how to tie a neckerchief and I think I prefer it tied at one side…

Anyway, if you’re interested in the pattern, it’s in issue 36 of Simply Crochet, and coming soon to my Etsy shop.

I had so much spare yarn – as well as spare enthusiasm for the technique – that I also made a long, wavy hairpin scarf. That’s for a later issue of Simply Crochet, coming soon…

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2015 in Crochet

 

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Hairpin hairband

I’ve become somewhat addicted to hairpin crochet recently. Partly because it’s so easy that I can switch off the old brain box and just let my hands do the work. Partly because it creates a really pretty strip. And partly because I was asked to put together a few features and patterns on hairpin crochet for Simply Crochet magazine…

You might remember that I posted a step-by-step guide to hairpin crochet, here, which looked a bit like this…

Hairpin Step 11

Hairpin Crochet step-by-step guide

The technique is so quick and easy, I like how you can get results really fast. So it didn’t take me long to make this little hairband…

Hairpin hairband

Hairpin hairband

You might be able to see in this photo that I used a sparkly Wendy yarn (Wendy Supreme Luxury Cotton Sparkle DK), but you could use any yarn you’ve got handy – you’ll only need around 10g so it’s perfect for using up a spare length of some special yarn.

I’m not sure whether you’ve noticed, but the world of yarn seems to be full of sparkle at the moment. I love a bit of bling so I’m not complaining!

Hairpin hairband on me

Hairpin hairband on me

I hate tight hairbands, so I made this one fairly loose and it’s very comfy. Although, it was only when it came to shooting it on me that I remembered how hairbands really don’t suit me! It took a real pro (my other half) to capture this photo where I look almost half-decent in it.

Anyway, if you’re interested in the pattern, it’s in issue 35 of Simply Crochet magazine and the free pattern will be coming soon!

I’ve also been making some other hairpin projects, so look out for them…

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2015 in Crochet

 

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Crochet pinwheels

I love the seaside. I’d happily go every weekend. Or just live by the sea.

So I’m a sucker for anything seaside-themed: blue and white stripes, twine, sand, and most recently, pinwheels. Crocheted pinwheels, to be exact, which I’ve crocheted in four different sizes:

Crochet pinwheels closer

Crochet pinwheels

I love the unique light by the sea. It’s so pure and clean, making colours look brighter and more saturated. I think that’s part of the joy of the seaside: everything looks like it’s been turned up to 11.

In an effort to try to reflect a little bit of this effect, I wanted to use some DK yarns that looked like in-between colours: bluey green, orangey brown, purpley pink and sandy grey.

Each pinwheel is made up of four ‘petals’, which are really easy to crochet and join together. But the most fun part was finishing each pinwheel with a gorgeous button. You’ll know how much I love buttons, if you’ve read this post or this post so I spent a lot of time choosing just the right button to suit the yarn. Buttons are the best.

Then I attached each pinwheel to a barbecue skewer so they’d stand up in sand or grass, or just arranged in a vase. The pack of skewers I bought includes 100, so there’s plenty of scope to make more…

In July, we took them with us to the seaside to take these photos, specifically Sidmouth, after a trip to The Donkey Sanctuary. Part of me wanted to leave them in the sand, for random strangers to take home. But then I realised how nice it would be to have a touch of the seaside at home with me all the time.

Crochet pinwheels

Crochet pinwheels at the seaside

If you’d like to make these pinwheels, the pattern is in the latest issue of Simply Crochet magazine, on sale now.

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2015 in Crochet

 

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Little Green Plate

I’m really excited to tell you that I’ve started another blog! It’s called Little Green Plate and it’s a space dedicated to sharing my passion for plant-based food and a gentler, vegan way of life.

If you saw my previous post, Lime Tart, you’ll know that I’m vegan. I’ve been vegetarian since the age of 13 and vegan since I was 27 (about 9 years). I don’t have an allergy or digestive condition. I’ve chosen a plant-based diet because I believe in it as a gentle way of life, reducing harm to our own bodies and to other living creatures, as well as the planet we share with them.

My gentle attitude towards life means that I’m something of an apologetic vegan. I never want to cause a fuss or be a bother to anyone – my choices should only inconvenience me (although it’s always a lovely surprise when my loved ones go to the effort of making food that’s safe for me to eat). I’ve also felt shy and self-conscious talking about being vegan to other people – I took all the derisory comments or confused looks to heart and felt embarrassed.

So I’ve been storing up all my plant-based passion, knowledge, ideas, recipes, experiments and beliefs. They only dared to venture out when I was safely in my own home. And very occasionally here (you have no idea how long I wrestled with that decision!).

Anyway, a few things have happened recently to change that. First, I’ve discovered that more and more restaurants and eateries are offering vegan options. I’ve even dared to try some, and they’ve been alright… some have been great! Being vegan has no longer felt like having the plague; it’s becoming more accepted! Second, healthy diets have never been more popular and I’ve enjoyed many of the blogs and books dedicated to them. But none of them have quite matched my gentle philosophy. Finally, I’ve been asked to do some work for a new magazine called ‘Eating & Living Free From’, which has been a lot of fun and shown me just how much I know.

I’m really excited to have a dedicated space for some plant-based fun and simple ideas for vegan food, as I journal about some of my creations, share my experiences (and mistakes!) and hopefully help in your journey towards a gentler way of life, if that’s what you choose. I can’t wait to start posting some of my recipes and meal ideas, celebrating the variety and abundance of delicious plant-based foods. I’ll still be continuing with Make Me Do, but I really hope you’ll join me in my new journey as well, over at littlegreenplate.wordpress.com

Just grab your favourite plate and get ready to fill it with some plant-based yumminess…

Little Green Plate screengrab

Little Green Plate screengrab

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2015 in Baking

 

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