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Crochet cables

Nowadays, I seem to spend much more time crocheting than I do knitting. In fact, I think it might be more than a year since I last picked up the needles! I’m quite happy for the hooks to dominate my creative time instead – crochet is a wonderful, flexible craft and there’s always something new to learn. But there is one aspect of knitting that I miss: cables.

I remember when my granny first showed me how to make a knitted cable, using an extra little needle with a quirky little kink in it. Crossing over the stitches wasn’t easy and I found it very fiddly with my child’s hands, but the finished effect was like magic. Ribbons of twisty, turny, flowing stitches were so elegant – I loved them. I spent hours knitting more rows of that swatch, just repeating the one twist she’d had time to show me.

So you can imagine my delight when I heard that you could create cables in crochet. However, a quick glance at the patterns totally scared me off – they seemed so complicated and I had no idea what a Post Stitch was. It was a good year before I had enough crocheting confidence to tackle Post Stitches (which are ridiculously easy) and then another few months before I tackled my first crochet cable for this cowl.

I learned a lot from that project and so when Simply Crochet asked me to put together a guide on cables and a simple cable project, it was a pleasure. In fact, the biggest pleasure was working up a variety of crochet cable swatches – it showed me just how many different effects you can create with the technique and it reminded me of that first knitted cable swatch that my granny showed me.

Eventually, I decided on a simple 2-stitch twist and made this cabled headband:

Cable headband

Cable headband

Cosy headbands seem to be a growing trend for winter headwear (apparently they’re good for avoiding ‘hat hair’) and my fashionista friend had been wearing one last winter, so I knew I was onto a winner. I made this one way back in October, and by December they seemed to be in all the shops!

While making the headband, I learned that forming a crochet cable is actually quite straightforward – it’s trying to write it down in pattern form that makes it seem complicated! It’s so hard trying to explain that you work this post stitch into that post stitch at the front, then skip some stitches, then work some more post stitches into post stitches at the back, then go back to the skipped stitches… for me, it’s highlighted just what a physical skill crochet is and exposed the inadequacy of the human language (or at least written crochet patterns!) to explain how to do that physical skill.

Anyway, the important thing is that the finished headband looks great, with all the flowing elegance of the knitted cables I love – plus, the Drops Air Mix yarn is super-soft on your head. Actually, it took a while to find a cable pattern that looked right with the yarn – it’s so soft and fluffy, many of the cables I tried lacked definition. In the end, I went with a 2-stitch twist with a 2-stitch gap at the centre to help define the two interlocking lines. The fuzzy yarn has actually worked amazingly well in making the stitches merge into each other so the lines flow beautifully along the band.

Cable close-up

Cable close-up

I’m really pleased with this make and feel much more confident with crocheted cables now. I’ve worn the headband quite a few times now and no one can believe it when I tell them I made it and that it’s crocheted. Even my crochet friends! That makes me smile 🙂

If you’re interested in getting the pattern, it’s in issue 40 of Simply Crochet, which is on sale now.

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2016 in Crochet

 

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Festive gifts 

Now that the festivities of the big day are over, I think it’s safe to share some of the gifts I made for Christmas…

First off, my mum asked for a bobble hat, so I showed her various yarns and drew different designs, but eventually this is what I crocheted for her:

Crochet hat for mum

Crochet hat for mum

I used an aran-weight alpaca yarn, working in treble stitches in the round. I started off in blue and then worked the increases in red, creating an interlocking spiked effect. There was a lot of colour changing and counting involved, but it was worth it because mum really likes the finished hat. I think it has a subtle crown-like element to it. It’s certainly unusual anyway.

The weather is unseasonably mild at the moment so my mum won’t need to wear it for a while, but she says it’s lovely and cosy. She wanted the big bobble pompom on the top, which used a lot of yarn and took a while to make. And it really does ‘bobble’ about on your head when you wear it, which is fun!

Next up, I also used my crochet hooks to make this adorable owl for my aunty:

Crochet owl

Crochet owl

Owls are my aunty’s favourite and it just so happened that Simply Crochet features an owl pattern in issue 40 (on sale soon) – as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to make it for her. The pattern actually comes from a book, Sweet Crochet by Sandrine Deveze, and it was really easy to make. I used a cream linen yarn with variegated lengths of sparkly gold, which gives the owl a lovely texture. And of course, I had to make a little gif of him in his natural woodland habitat!

I also made a few foodie treats, as is customary at Christmas. The most effort fun was making jars of pancake mix for two of my cousins. My cousin Adam is coeliac so I had the idea of making him a gluten-free pancake mix, to which he could just add milk (dairy or dairy-free). I like to keep a good stock of empty jars for such occasions, although of course, I had to do a bit of dressing up to make the jar look festive:

Pancake mix

Pancake mix

So I glued a circle of red fabric over the lid, then added a circle of glittery gold netting over the top and worked some gathering stitches to keep the two fabric layers in place. Then I added another piece of festive ribbon to the body of the jar (my mum had just given me this ribbon so that was perfect timing!). The only thing missing was a label, so I designed that on the computer, printed out the front and back, glued the two sides together and attached it to the jar with a small piece of ribbon. Here’s a close-up view of the label:

Gluten-free pancake mix label

Gluten-free pancake mix label

This jar turned out so good that I decided to make a second jar (not gluten free) for another cousin – I figured, who doesn’t like pancakes? They’re such a treat, which is what Christmas is all about.

If you’re interested in the recipe for the pancake mix, please head to my foodie blog, littlegreenplate.wordpress.com where you’ll also find some of the other foodie treats I made for a happy vegan Christmas! Hope you had a good one 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2015 in Baking, Crochet, Other Crafts, Sewing

 

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Review & resolutions

All in all, it’s been a pretty good year for Make Me Do. Some posts have been surprisingly popular while others have flown under the radar somewhat. I didn’t quite manage my posting once-a-week aim, but 37 posts out of 52 is pretty good.

Since I posted a review of 2013 at the start of last year, I felt like I should stick with tradition and review 2014. From a strictly numbers-based perspective, my most popular posts have been for my peaked baker boy hat patterns, whether that’s sewn like this one

Denim hat © Becky Skuse

Denim hat © Becky Skuse

Or knitted, like this one

Baker boy hat

Baker boy hat

I love the shape and style of these hats and I like the idea that there could be people walking around wearing a hat made from one of my patterns! You can buy both patterns here. I’d really like to make a crochet version of the hat so I think I’ll make that my first crafty resolution of 2015.

One of my favourite makes, personally, in 2014 was this laundry bag, which makes me smile every morning when I wake up…

Laundry bag

Laundry bag

I have the pattern for this bag on my ‘to post’ list so I think I’ll make that my next resolution for 2015, alongwith plenty of other patterns I’ve got ready to post.

Another popular post has been my Doggy doorstop and you can now buy the pattern here

Doggy doorstop

Doggy doorstop

Talking of cute crafty makes, I loved making this crochet amigirumi bear, which I called ‘Cookie’…

Cookie bear waving

Cookie bear waving

Cookie happily sits on a shelf next to me when I’m sat on the sofa in the evenings – he’s no trouble and always has a smile on his face.

Back to the numbers and apparently, the most popular day on my blog in 2014 was in May, when I posted the step-by-step on hairpin crochet

Hairpin Step 11

Hairpin crochet

So in 2015, I’ll try to do a few more technical guides. Any requests?

I think three resolutions is a good start, so here goes for 2015…

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2015 in Crochet, Knitting, Sewing

 

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Open or closed

When you’re at home, do you like your doors to be open or closed? It sounds so trivial, but I’ve thought about it quite a few times recently. Having lived with a cat for 10 years, we got used to having the interior doors open a few inches – ie, a cat’s width! And that’s what we still do.

Except for the other half’s office door, which naturally swings open. He said he’d like a doorstop to keep the door open the usual cat’s width, so more warmth stays in the room but he can still hear the doorbell. As luck would have it, I recently made a doorstop for Simply Crochet magazine, to demonstrate a couple of different seaming techniques. Here it is in action holding open said office door…

Crochet doorstop

Crochet doorstop

I tried to keep it simple and modern, using two tones of masculine grey (his favourite colour!) and a bright pink yarn for the visible seams, to add a touch of femininity. We both like it.

Our cat’s-width open-door policy was something I hadn’t even given a second thought to until recently when my dad visited – he came into the front room and shut the door. Me and the other half instantly looked at each other and smiled at our simultaneous discomfort. Dad noticed and said: “Oh sorry, was that wrong? Shall I open it?” We left the door closed, but it’s sparked a lot of thought in my brain.

Closing the door was not universally wrong, it was just different to what we normally do. That small, sudden impulse of discomfort we felt was a bit like when you wake up from a deep sleep – you’re thrust into sudden consciousness. And it got me thinking… there must be hundreds of things we do automatically, because that’s what we normally do, whether it’s around the house or in our everyday lives. What’s ‘normal’ to one person might feel totally alien to another person.

Most of us don’t have time to give all these little things a second thought. But maybe we should? Especially with the new year arriving, perhaps it’s time to think a bit more consciously about the way we live our lives.

So I’ve been wondering: where do our ‘normal’ behaviours come from? How do we create them and how long does it take to make them stick? How would it feel to change some of these little things? Would it cause a ripple-effect of change or make no noticeable difference?

I don’t have any answers, but I like the idea that the simple action of closing a door has opened up a door in my thoughts. Thanks dad 🙂

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2015 in Crochet

 

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Crochet tension

One of the biggest problems that new knitters and crocheters encounter is in understanding tension. It’s taken me a while (and some very patient crafty friends) to get to grips with it.

But now that I do understand, it’s great fun to play around with the tension of a pattern, by changing the yarn (from DK to chunky, for example) or the hook/needle size.

So I was happy to help when Simply Crochet magazine asked me to put together a feature on tension and come up with a pattern for people to practise on, to help them understand tension too.

Here’s the cute flower brooch I made as the pattern:

Crochet layered flower

Crochet layered flower

The brooch uses the same yarn (in different colours) and the same pattern, but each layer uses a different hook size so each flower is a slightly different size. Put them together and you get a multi-dimensional brooch that’s pretty and clever. Bonus!

The feature and the pattern are in issue 23 of Simply Crochet, which is out now – see more at www.simplycrochetmag.co.uk

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Busy, backpack and bunting

Apologies for the lack of posts recently, I’ve been too busy crafting and working to write about what I’ve been doing. More about what I’ve been working on soon – in the meantime, here’s a run-down of my recent crafting projects…

I learned Tunisian crochet recently and made this stripy sunglasses case for Simply Crochet magazine. I love the woven look of the fabric, which is thick and sturdy, and also how you can create two-tone rows. I wanted a button fastening (well I am in button club) and managed to find the perfect one – a little sunglasses button! It’s really cute and looks a bit like a little pair of eyes…

Tunisian crochet sunglasses case

Tunisian crochet sunglasses case

In sewing news, the backpack I made a while ago (see here) is appearing in Sewing World magazine this month. The original idea was to make it a children’s backpack, hence the super-cute fabric (it’s Critter Community Frames Cool, Suzy Ultman for Robert Kaufman, from Fancy Moon), but I think it’s great storage for any age. The backpack itself is just a simple rectangle shape so it’s quite straightforward to make – but in designing it, the construction was a real challenge because I wanted it to be lined and all the seams enclosed! To do that, I had to make a fair few buttonholes, which wasn’t as scary as I thought, so now I’m wondering what else can be buttonholed…

Sewn backpack

Sewn backpack

If you saw my post about pompoms here, you’ll know that I’d made a lot of them! Well, this is the project that I used them for – a long string of totally touchable bunting, for Simply Crochet magazine, using tassels, pompoms and fringing. The colours are so cheerful, they make me smile. It’s now hanging in our hallway, brightening up the space…

Tassel bunting

Tassel bunting

More makes and exciting crafty things to tell you about soon…

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2014 in Crochet, Knitting, Sewing

 

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Hairpin crochet

I love learning new craft techniques, unfortunately I don’t always have time. But at the moment, I’m getting paid to write about some advanced crochet techniques, which means I have to learn them!

The latest one I’ve learned is hairpin crochet, which looks very intricate but is sooo easy to do. This gorgeous top from Tesco in the UK combines delicate hairpin crochet with standard crochet.

Anyway, if you want to try the hairpin technique, all you need is some yarn (try DK), a crochet hook (try 4mm) and a hairpin loom (widely available in yarn stores or online).

Set the loom prongs to 4cm apart (this is a good width to start with). Make a slipknot and place it on your hook. Hold the hook in the centre of the loom, between the two prongs. Take the working yarn over the front of the right prong and around the back so it lies across the back of the loom, on the left-hand side (if you’re right-handed). Hold the working yarn in your left hand (if you’re right-handed), so it lies under the left prong. It should look a bit like this:

Hairpin Step 1

Hairpin Step 1

Now hook the strand of yarn that lies across the back of the loom, like this:

Hairpin Step 2

Hairpin Step 2

And pull a loop of yarn through the slipknot (you will have made a slip stitch):

Hairpin Step 3

Hairpin Step 3

Tighten up the slipknot and make sure your hook and stitch are in the centre of the two prongs.

**Now move the hook to the back of the work, by lifting it up and over the right prong, like this:

Hairpin Step 4

Hairpin Step 4

Turn the loom over, anti-clockwise, lifting up the right prong and bringing it to the left so that this becomes the left prong (as long as you keep hold of the working yarn, you can let go of the hook while you do this). The yarn will have been wrapped around what was the left prong, which is now the right prong, and it will lie across the back of the loom again, like this:

Hairpin Step 5

Hairpin Step 5

The hook will now be at the front, ready for the next steps. The left prong will have a loop of yarn around it – insert the hook under the front strand of this loop, ready to work a double crochet stitch (US single crochet) into it:

Hairpin Step 6

Hairpin Step 6

Now hook the working yarn, as it lies across the back of the loom:

Hairpin Step 7

Hairpin Step 7

Pull the strand of working yarn through the loop on the left prong, like this:

Hairpin Step 8

Hairpin Step 8

Now hook the working yarn again:

Hairpin Step 9

Hairpin Step 9

And pull this loop through all the loops on the hook, to finish your double crochet stitch (US single crochet):

Hairpin Step 10

Hairpin Step 10

That’s it! Repeat from ** to work more and more stitches in the same way to create a lacy strip.

Hairpin Step 11

Hairpin Step 11

You can make hairpin strips as long or short, narrow or thin, as you like. Just be careful to keep the stitch in the centre of the loom. Have fun experimenting!

I’m thinking it might be nice to use the technique to make a scarf – perhaps a chunky yarn made into a wide strip and edged with more double crochet stitches…

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2014 in Crochet

 

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