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Loving handmade

Apologies for the lack of posts in February – making, doing and organising for the wedding has entirely taken over my life and blogging has somewhat fallen by the wayside… fear not though, I’ll be making up for it in May by telling you about everything I’ve been making for the wedding, including a sewn bridal bag, a personalised guest book, paper table confetti, a sewn bridal wrap decorated with crocheted hearts, a decorated card box and more.

Alongwith wedding crafting, I’ve also been working on (paid!) commissions for Simply Crochet and The Sewing Directory. I’m not quite sure how I’ve squeezed it all in really…anyway, my latest make for The Sewing Directory has been this canvas messenger bag:

Sewn canvas messenger bag

Sewn canvas messenger bag

I really love messenger bags – I feel secure with it worn across the body, I like the way it sits on the hip, and it’s easy to get stuff in and out. They’re the perfect bag for me!

I’ve wanted to try my hand at making one for ages, and then my current messenger bag (the one in this post, here) started fraying so I knew it was time. I pitched it to The Sewing Directory and they said yes, so I got to work and I’m really pleased with the outcome.

It wasn’t easy and took me about a week to make it, while working out the pattern at the same time, and then another week to write out the pattern in detail from my scribbled notes and draw step-by-step diagrams that someone else could follow. But it’s a pattern I’m really proud of. The bag itself has also been getting a lot of attention – people can’t believe it when I say I made it (I always love that).

If you’re interested in making your own messenger bag, pop over to The Sewing Directory for the free instructions. What I don’t mention in the instructions, though, is the extra pocket that I added to make the bag perfect for me! When I travel on the bus, I always worry about losing my bus ticket and try to keep it in the same place every time – but that place is usually inside a pocket that’s inside my zipped-up purse that’s inside my zipped-up bag. It’s a Russian doll effect that makes it tricky to get the ticket out in a hurry if I’m late and the bus is arriving just as I am (yes, that happens more times than I’d like to admit). So I gave my bag a hidden outside pocket along the side – you can see it in this photo if you look for the extra stitching near the orange flower:

Hidden outer pocket

Hidden outer pocket

It was fun trying to line up the pattern on the two pieces of fabric to get that ‘hidden’ effect and I think I did a pretty decent job. I love having a special hidden bus ticket pocket – it’s perfect for me. I also added another little pocket inside for my house key (which I can never find when I need it!). It’s these sorts of little life-improving details that makes me love handmade!

And so onto another made-to-measure treat that I crocheted for Simply Crochet – these men’s colourwork mittens:

Crochet colourwork mittens

Crochet colourwork mittens

These fine mittens are modelled above by my other half (soon to be husband!) who happily got to keep them afterwards. He really did deserve them as well because I made them to fit his hands while we were on holiday in November – he tried them on so many times for me that I think he worked almost as hard as I did to help bring them to life!

I used a simple spike stitch wave pattern to create a manly argyle look (if you squint, you can see it much better!). He loves these mittens (I just checked with him and he does) because they’re soft and warm, they have a subtle pattern and obviously the fit is perfect. He’s worn them much more than the previous rainbow-coloured mitts that I knitted for him about 10 years ago, so I think that’s a success.

If you’re interested in the pattern, it’s in issue 41 of Simply Crochet magazine, which also features the pattern for my rainbow scarf:

Rainbow scarf

Rainbow scarf

I made this one a while back and blogged about it here. It’s one of my favourite ever scarves and I wear it all the time, so it’ll be great to see what creative effects other crocheters can achieve with the pattern.

Right, I’m off back to sewing crocheted flowers onto a crocheted ribbon to decorate the front of my bridal car…

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Posted by on February 29, 2016 in Crochet, Sewing

 

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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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Rainbow scarf

I seem to have made quite a few scarves and cowls recently, but I think this one is my favourite – I haven’t been able to stop wearing it since I finished it (and I may even have worn it for a while before it was fully finished!):

Rainbow scarf

Rainbow scarf

You may recognise those colours from my granny square blanket here. When I was finished with the blanket, I had about 10g of each yarn left and I wanted to make something wearable so that I could carry a little piece of the blanket magic out and about with me.

I wanted to have a ridge in between each colour stripe, so I made each stripe separately using the treble (US dc) foundation row technique, and then joined them together using a double crochet seam and cream yarn. To finish, I added a cream border and buttons to hold the wrap shape in place. The great thing about the buttons I chose was that they fit in between the treble stitches so I can use any gap as a buttonhole!

Rainbow scarf detail

Rainbow scarf detail

It’s nice and cosy without being too hot, and I’ve had lots of nice compliments about it since I started wearing it, which is always flattering. Hope you like it, too!

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2015 in Crochet

 

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Button club

Button club

If you read my previous post, Buttoned Up, you’ll know that everything’s gone ‘buttons’ recently. So on Tuesday this week (17th June 2014), me and some crafty friends at work held the first meeting of ‘button club’!

(Btw it also happened to be the same day that my cousin gave birth to a gorgeous son, Mitch Mcmillan, who I made this blanket for recently.)

Anyway, so, we all brought some buttons along and enjoyed looking at each other’s stashes. Here are Becca and Lizzie, who were so busy looking at buttons, they didn’t notice me get my camera out!

Becca & Lizzie looking at buttons

Becca & Lizzie looking at buttons

Not only were there some fab buttons to look at, but also some interesting ways of storing buttons. Becca had an old tin (once used for tobacco), I’ve got a really little drawer unit, and Lizzie had this nifty tin in the shape of a book (by Cath Kidston):

Button tin in the shape of a book!

Button tin in the shape of a book!

There were plenty of interesting buttons in our stashes – different materials, colours, shapes and engraved patterns. But we were all in agreement by the end that there was just one button that was the most impressive – it came from Lizzie’s stash and here she is looking proud of it:

Lizzie's amazing button

Lizzie’s beautiful button

We’ve nicknamed this the ‘naked lady’ button, for obvious reasons. I particularly like the stylish cape (if that is a cape?), even though she’s not bothered with any other clothes…

The intricacy of the design is what we all loved, especially considering that this button is only 1.5cm (½in) wide! We’ve no idea where this button has come from, so there’s no chance of getting any more, but that’s the beauty of unique buttons like this.

Do you have any ideas for what project this button would be good for? I’m thinking a cape or scarf, in honour of the lady on the button. Do you have any interesting buttons?

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2014 in Beading, Crochet, Knitting, Papercrafts, 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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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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Rainbow strip

I’ve been making colourful crochet granny squares for what seems like ages now! See my previous post here.

I haven’t finished making all the squares yet, but I wanted to start joining them together, to encourage me to keep making the squares.

I decided to use a soft, matt white yarn, as a cool modern background to all that colour, and as a contrast to the shiny yarn I’m using for the squares.

Here’s the first strip of rainbow colours put together:

Rainbow strip

Rainbow strip

I didn’t want the white border to be too wide, so after a bit of experimenting with the first and second squares, I decided to go for clusters of half treble stitches.

I’m really pleased with how it looks and I can just imagine more strips put together with it to make a small lap blanket.

Although I am slightly tempted to just stop here and wear this as a scarf! Perhaps if I have any spare squares left over…

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2013 in Crochet

 

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