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2015 Review

I’m not usually one for looking back or making resolutions, but it seems to have become a tradition for my blog, so why the heck not…

The past year has been pretty big for me: I fulfilled one of my big dreams of opening an Etsy shop and I’ve even sold some patterns!

My blog has also had some lovely comments, I’ve posted 35 times, and I’ve uploaded over 200 photos. I also started another blog all about vegan food (littlegreenplate.wordpress.com) and I opened a shop on Ravelry dedicated to my crochet and knitting projects (and had a few sales on there as well!).

But looking back, without doubt, my most popular make continues to be this adorable doggy doorstop sewing project – even though he bounded into life in 2012, he’s still my most popular make and I think he’s my favourite, too!

Sewn doggy doorstop – sewing pattern available at www.etsy.com/uk/shop/MakeMeDo

But looking at my new projects for 2015,I think this has been a really productive year, where I’ve designed and made some really good projects that I’m proud to put my name on. So these are some of my most popular projects as well as my personal favourites:

Crochet alphabet – pattern available at www.ravelry.com/stores/becky-skuse-designs

Rainbow scarf

Rainbow scarf

Crochet rainbow scarf – pattern coming soon to Simply Crochet magazine.

Flowery tablet cosy

Flowery tablet cosy

Crochet flower tablet cosy – pattern coming soon to my Etsy and Ravelry shops.

Crochet pinwheels closer

Crochet pinwheels closer

Crochet pinwheels – pattern coming soon to my Etsy and Ravelry shops.

Finished crochet popcorn tree

Finished crochet popcorn tree

Crochet popcorn tree – pattern coming soon to my Etsy and Ravelry shops.

Sparkly clutch

Sparkly clutch

Crochet and sewing sparkly purse – pattern coming soon to my Etsy and Ravelry shops.

Little dragon

Little dragon

Crochet dragon – a gift for my sister-in-law.

Crochet All Sorts

Crochet All Sorts

Crochet All Sorts – my first project for Mollie Makes magazine, the pattern is available on my Etsy shop here. I also posted a step-by-step guide to sewing up one of the sweets:

Start sewing up

Start sewing up

At the beginning of 2015, I made some crafty resolutions and I’m glad to say that I’ve achieved some of them. I’d resolved to post more technical guides and while I only posted one (above), I’m considering that a mild success.

I also resolved to post more projects, for free or a fee and I have managed to post various patterns, either for free on this blog, or for sale on my Etsy and Ravelry shops. I’d like to add more though (I’ve got 20 patterns just waiting to be sorted out!) so getting through some of these will be a key crafty resolution for 2016.

I haven’t achieved my final resolution though: to make a crocheted baker boy hat. So I think I’ll make that a rollover resolution for 2016! Is that allowed? Well, if it’s good enough for the lottery…

My final aim for the year involves this little thing in April (my wedding!) that I’m busy making things for…

In the meantime, best wishes to all of you for the year ahead 🙂

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2016 in Crochet, Sewing

 

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Crochet purse

As a multi-craft lover, my favourite projects are ones that bring together different techniques to make something that would never be possible using just one craft. So I was excited to be able to combine crochet and sewing recently, to make this sparkly little purse for Simply Crochet magazine:

Sparkly clutch

Sparkly clutch

One of the most common questions that new crocheters ask me is about how to line their makes with fabric. It’s not hard, it just takes a bit of basic sewing knowledge and practice. So I helped to put together a feature to help explain how to do it for Simply Crochet issue 39, which is on sale now.

After reading the feature, it’s easy to tackle this little purse pattern, which I think would be great for parties over Christmas and New Year:

Party clutch

Party clutch

I used a sparkly black and silver yarn from Marriner (Sparkly DK in Black) and went for an open, lacy scallop effect, which I think is really pretty.

But the sneaky thing about this purse is that I double lined it, so that the red fabric is visible on the outside, but inside there’s a much lighter fabric – I find this is essential to finding the item you want out of your purse, especially in a darkened room:

Inside the purse

Inside the purse

The key to achieving the effect is the zip, which is the dividing line between the two sides of the fabric. I like to sew a zip in place by hand – I just find I get a cleaner finish than doing it on a machine, plus if you have a crochet layer as well then hand sewing is the only way to go.

Sewing a zip in place can be fiddly (especially with a double lining!), but it’s worth it for the professional-looking finish. I’m really pleased with how it turned out and I hope you like it too! 🙂

Attach the zip

Attach the zip

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2015 in Crochet, 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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Review of 2013

A lot of people find January quite depressing, but I love the New Year. It’s a chance to wipe the slate clean and start again. A time for reviewing the situation (in a slightly different way to Fagin!), making changes and improving everyday life.

As part of that, I’ve been looking back at my crafty 2013 and the resolutions I made at the start of 2013. I’m surprised how many of them I have achieved and also how much I’ve actually made!

I think crochet has been the biggest winner of 2013 – I’ve made a lot of crochet projects, although knitting and sewing have also played their part. I’ve even started blogging about baking! If this was an award ceremony for Make Me Do Crafts of 2013, my baking posts would win the award for Best Newcomer. Let’s see what other projects would win awards…

I think the project that would win the award for Surprise Success of 2013 is these sweet little dishcloths – the photo has been really rather popular on Pinterest, making me quite proud:

Crochet dishcloths

Crochet dishcloths

The award for Best Fashionable Make of 2013 would have to be my flower neckwarmer, which I still love wearing:

Flower scarf © Becky Skuse

Flower scarf © Becky Skuse

The Most Difficult Yet Rewarding Project award would go to this fiddly little bridal garter, which was totally worth the effort because it’s soo pretty and the recipient loved it:

Bridal garter

Bridal garter

Best Toy or Most Adorable Make of 2013 would be won by this cute orange cat, called Ffion Ffon. My 2-year-old niece just adores this little lady and still gets hugely excited that she can hold this knitted creature while watching her namesake on the TV at the same time:

Fiona cat – she's waving!

Fiona cat – she’s waving!

The judges may well fight over the winner for the award of Best New Skill Learnt in 2013. I loved crafting with wire and crocheting over it to make a pink heart. But for sheer practicality and creative potential, the winner would have to be super-size crochet – I loved creating my own massive yarn out of odd balls of yarn and making this basket:

Bowl

Super-size crochet basket

And finally… drum roll please… the top award for Best Post would go to… my granny square blanket. I’m afraid this is still a work in progress, but hopefully it’ll be finished in 2014:

Granny square ring © Becky Skuse

Granny square ring © Becky Skuse

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2014 in Baking, Crochet, Knitting, Sewing

 

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New Year’s resolutions

So the Christmas trimmings have been packed away for another year and as is the tradition at this time of year, I’ve been thinking about resolutions for 2013 – more specifically, crafty resolutions that I’d like to make…

1 I’d like to get my stash more organised. I always associate spring cleaning with the new year, and I dream of having a craft stash that’s perfectly tidy and ordered, so that everything is easy to find, uses space efficiently, keeps my tools well protected and my fabrics, yarns and threads safe from dirt, damage and dust. I’ve already got a few plastic boxes but I’m thinking of getting a few more – they don’t cost the earth, but aren’t very pretty. A nice workbox or workbasket would be lovely, but their shape is usually not a great use of space so it probably wouldn’t hold all that much. Perhaps an inventory would be helpful as well because I’m sure there are crafty goodies I’ve got that I’ve forgotten about.

2 I’d like to finish some of my unfinished projects. We’ve all got them – projects we’ve got planned to do or that are half-made, but we’ve never got round to finishing them. A couple of years ago, I put all mine together in one bag, in the hope that in between projects, I would delve into the bag and finish something. But it’s not happened yet…

3 I’d like to make some projects that use up all those little bits and bobs in my stash – odd balls of yarn and small amounts of fabric. So I’m thinking of making small accessories or little things for little ones, using striped or patchwork effects. Or something…

4 I’d like to try something different. The beauty of crafting is that there are always new designs, new techniques and new products to try! There are lots of things I’ve seen that I’ve thought “Oh, I’d love to try that some day”. Some of them are really basic, such as knitting or crocheting with beads and lacework – others will take more thought, such as making a quilt and using shrink-effect interfacing in a sewing project.

5 I’d like to teach someone to craft. There’s nothing more rewarding than sharing the craft you love with other people and watching their confidence, excitement and passion flourish – all because of you! So in 2013, I’d really like to spread the love of crafts a bit further by teaching other people how to knit or sew or crochet. I’ve also thought about joining a club, but struggled to find one close enough at the right time. Maybe I’ll start one at work… My nieces aren’t quite old enough to knit yet but they do like learning new things and there are plenty of other fun crafty things we could do.

6 I’d like to do some more designing. I think 2012 was a great year for my sewing designs and I’m really proud of the work I’ve done for Sewing World. It seems like there are loads of independent craft designers out there creating great designs, and they both inspire me (if they can do it, it must be possible for me to do it too) and terrify me (there are so many designs out there now, what if my stuff isn’t good or original). I recently joined Craftsy and it seems quite straightforward to list patterns for sale, so I think this will be my next move.

7 I’d like to set up a craft project for charity. Crafters are some of the most generous people I’ve met and there are always charity fund-raising projects on the go to get involved in. I regularly give money to charity and take part in other people’s charity craft projects, because it’s a great feeling to do something practical to help others. I’d like to take it one step further and set up my own craft for charity project. I like the idea of setting myself some kind of crafting challenge and getting sponsors.

Do you think seven resolutions is too many?! I think if I can achieve three or four, that will be pretty good going. Right, I better start getting on with it…

 

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