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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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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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Peg bag fun

As crafters, we often get special requests. I find these are often some of the most fun projects, because I know that the item I’m spending time and effort to make is going to be treasured.

I recently had a request for a new peg bag from my aunty, and it was a pleasure making it for her. Her old peg bag was falling apart and a little weather-worn:

Old peg bag © Becky Skuse

Old peg bag © Becky Skuse

The first thing you need to make a peg bag is a hanger. So I cut the hanger out of her old peg bag.

Hanger for peg bag © Becky Skuse

Hanger for peg bag © Becky Skuse

I was surprised at just how charming this little wooden hanger is, and I tried to figure out a way to make a peg bag that didn’t cover it up completely. That proved to be impossible for my little brain, so instead, I chose a fabric from my stash that would really complement the hanger. It’s called Aqua Blossom Clusters from the Revive Collection by Pat Bravo, for Art Gallery Fabrics. Here’s the finished bag:

New peg bag © Becky Skuse

New peg bag © Becky Skuse

I topstitched around the edges with a pretty yellow cotton, which would also help make the seams stronger. And I left a small gap on the right-hand side so that the hanger can come out and the whole thing can be put in the washing machine.

I gave it to my aunty as a birthday present and she loved it!

Peg bag close-up © Becky Skuse

Peg bag close-up © Becky Skuse

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2013 in Sewing

 

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Teddy bear

Given the royal baby news that’s been everywhere this week, I thought it was time to share some teddy bear news with you.

You might remember my previous post about Hug Me Bear, my beloved childhood teddy. Here he is:

Hug Me

Hug Me

Well, I’ve been working on sewing my own version. It’s been quite difficult, given that original Hug Me was obviously made from printed fabric, so all his features are detailed and quite life-like.

So I decided that my new teddy bear would be more of an homage to Hug Me rather than a replica – a cute bear that would be soft and hug-able for a little one. Here he is:

Teddy bear © Becky Skuse

Teddy bear © Becky Skuse

For various reasons, he’s turned out a little wonky in places! (But I’m hoping that just adds character?)

For his body, I used a lovely, soft fleecey fabric in chocolate brown (it was actually the last bits remaining after I made this pet bed for my cat).

For the appliqué patches, I used some small fabric scraps left over from cutting up an old pashmina for another project. Note to self for next time though: this fabric was gorgeously soft for small children, but totally wrong for appliqué! It started fraying away the instant I finished zig-zagging around the edges. I had to do some pretty delicate and emotional emergency surgery to rescue his eyes and mouth. (I think this is when the wonkiness occurred.)

I chose a cheerful yellow fabric for his little T-shirt, rather than trying to sew the words ‘Hug Me’ onto his chest. (The trauma of the appliqué patches had made me a nervous wreck by then!)

I backstitched his features with a chocolate brown thread to match the fleece fabric, and I really like his happy smile. His face didn’t quite feel complete at that point though, so I looked back at original Hug Me and, inspired by the heart on his chest, I decided to give my bear a heart for a nose. That’s actually become my favourite part!

Now that he’s finished, I’m in a bit of a pickle about who to give him to. My nieces are very young, at 2 and almost 4 years old, and I’m afraid they might be a bit too rough with him – his mended appliqué patches are still very delicate and might not survive much of their play. So I think he needs to go to an older child, while I make another one with some sturdier fabric!

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2013 in Sewing

 

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Flower neckwarmer

Oh I’m so excited! One of my favourite makes ever is in this month’s issue of Sewing World (February).

It’s this flower neckwarmer…

Flower scarf © Becky Skuse

Flower scarf © Becky Skuse

As you can see from the lovely pics of me modelling it (!), it can be worn as a scarf (it’s surprisingly warm) under a coat and/or as a necklace over a plain top.

I’m very happy that it’s ‘out there’ in the world, for other people to make, but what I’m most excited about is the fact that I’ve got it back and can wear it!

It was a labour of love to make because each flower takes a while to sew up, and then stitching them together took even longer (mostly because I kept changing my mind about the arrangement!). I wish I’d had my new bust model when I was trying to come up with a pleasing layout…

Anyway, I’m glad I put in so much time and effort though, because I’m really pleased with it and couldn’t wait to get it back so I could start wearing it, which I’ve been doing a lot (probably too much!).

I find the combination of colours really cheering, and the ruffly flowers feel so feminine – it’s the perfect thing for brightening up a grey (or snowy!) day.

For a tutorial on how to make the flowers, head here, or you can buy the pattern here.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2013 in Sewing

 

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