Sewchet

Sewing, crochet, crafts, accessories, baking, tutorials,


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Crochet Woodland Animals

Having had a number of knitting projects lately (remember all those bobble hats?), I recently had the urge to pick up a crochet hook again.

It would have to be a quick make as I have too many things on the go to commit to another lengthy project, so I decided on a little crocheted animal from this gift box given to The Boys at Christmas – their little fingers are just not yet nimble enough to cope with something quite this fiddly.

The “Woodland Crochet” box by Kristen Rask, includes a book, hook and all the yarn needed to complete two of the animals, one of which is a sweet little fox that worked up in a couple of leisurely evenings.

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I was happy because it looked exactly like it does in the book!

woodland animals crochet book

I snapped the eyes on to the white bit instead of the orange bit so they stand out more.

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The whole thing only stands about four inches high and currently languishes on top of the pianola.

crochet foxcrochet fox front

The tail acts as a stand, enabling the fox to stay balanced upright with ease.

crochet fox back

The cute little upturned mouth appears to be a smile and gives him a happy expression – always essential on a soft toy, in my opinion:)

crochet fox head

I might attempt the owl next – there’s something about owls which makes them quite endearing.

crochet owl

Of course, it’s Easter on Sunday – I wonder if I’ve got time to make the bluebird and her tiny chick?

crochet bird


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Sunday Sevens Special – Crochet for Calais Update

This week I thought I’d do a Sunday Sevens Special updating you on the progress of the Crochet for Calais appeal, which is ongoing for those of you who would like to contribute a knitted or crocheted square or two.

Lee Godwin is the nurse who travels to Calais and Lesbos delivering the finished crocheted and knitted items directly into the hands of the refugees. 

Here is what she had to say, together with some photographs that she took of the refugees with some of the handmade blankets and hats: –

“Dear friends, I am so sorry it has taken me so long to get my Lesbos photos of your hat and blanket distribution uploaded. These children were so delighted with their hats, even more so because they were able to pick which one they really wanted. The children laughed at the funny faces and dangly ears! Fabulous trauma therapy! The weather was beginning to turn and the blankets were very much appreciated – the mothers held them and admired the beautiful stitching – 2 mums cried silently in gratitude after I explained how they were made ‘especially for them by a wonderful group of ladies in England’. I will be going back to Greece in late spring to support the now orphaned children, old, infirm and disabled. A special blanket may just contribute to mending broken hearted individuals. I will happily take more. All my love and sincere gratitude darling friends xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx”  

  
  

The organiser, Jane Wheelen, says: –

“I really, really cannot express my gratitude to every single person who was able to give up their time to help make so many squares that were transformed into beautiful blankets, including wonderful anonymous people who read Sheila Harvey-Larmar’s blog (Sewchet) and generously sent squares by the post bag full. When the idea popped into my head in the middle of the night I didn’t realise what a wonderful thing it would become. I have a big bag of squares here that will be transformed into further blankets. If you have the time, please, please, keep knitting and crocheting and forwarding them to me. Lee Godwin’s photos show what a difference they make to the desperate lives of such innocent but traumatised children. In a world where they have nothing, it’s important to let them know someone really cares for them and to give them something of their own.”

    

  
From Lee Godwin:-

“I would just like to offer my deepest gratitude to friends and folks who have generously donated items for Calais. I am excited to say on last count we had 200 blankets, food, warm waterproof clothes and hard wearing rain shoes. Not to mention donated money to buy food so that the children and I can make up food parcels for distribution. Your generosity is valued and appreciated more than I can ever say…..I hid food all over the car in every nook and cranny! Hee hee! We have arrived and children are fascinated about the increased police presence which I find as intimidating if not worse than ever before….but we continue! Love you all xxxxxxxxxxxxxx”

  

To read the original article, please click on the link Crochet for Calais where you will also find the address to which your squares can be sent.

A previous update can also be read here, Crochet for Calais Update in which you can see some of the blankets that readers of this blog contributed to.

As you can see, the hats and blankets that we make actually do get to the refugees quickly and are so much appreciated by both adults and children alike. If you can spare the time to knit or crochet a 12″ square (or a few), then please do as it is an ongoing effort for as long as there is a crisis.

I’m off to cast on my next square right now….!


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#stitchingsanta Reveals!

It has been totally brilliant, not to mention ridiculously exciting, to watch all your #stitchingsanta parcels coming together over the last couple of months.

I’ve loved seeing how thoughtful and creative everyone has been, really getting to know their recipient through their blog and sending the most appropriate gifts possible.

For those of you new to this concept, and for anyone considering joining in next year (yes, I’m going to organise another one!), here’s the link to show you what it’s all about – #stitchingsanta 2015.

I took part in both the knitting/crochet swap and the sewing swap but, before I show you all the amazing things I received, I thought I’d show you the final handmade gift that I included in my sewing swap parcel.

A hexagonal French ‘Cartonnage’ sewing box (pattern by Tialys on Etsy) which nearly didn’t get sent as I only finished it an hour before the deadline for Christmas post!

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It took quite a few hours of construction over a week or so to complete, the glued parts needing overnight to dry before moving on to the next bit.

Cartonnage sewing box 1

It’s a lovely pattern though, and I thoroughly enjoyed making it – I first saw it on Lucie’s blog as she was a tester for the pattern before its release and it is designed by the talented Lynn who blogs over at Tialys.

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The box made it into the parcel along with the other things which I blogged about here and was posted to the loopy-but-lovely Ali, better known by many of you as THIMBERLINA.

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Below is the bundle of presents (blogged about here) that went off to my knitting swap recipient, Pippa, from Beads & Barnacles.

The first I knew of Pippa was when she signed up for the swap, so I spent some time looking through her blog to see what kind of things she might like before deciding on a few. There are fewer handmade items obviously, as knitting takes so much longer than sewing.

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I took a chance by not adding sender’s details on either parcel so they would be a surprise until the last moment, as I had blogged in detail about all the handmade elements in the run up to Christmas.

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Ali, bless her, hadn’t even received my parcel but had already sent me these lush quilted coasters as a ‘thank you’ for organising the swap!

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The fabric she used was ace and had funny, and perfectly apt, little quotes in speech bubbles all over it. Thanks Ali – I love them!!!

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Now, onto the myriad of gorgeous things that I was gifted.

As the organiser, two people had to draw the short straw and have me as their swap partner, so neither were able to blog about their parcels.

I chose Joey, from Littleblackdogsa, to be my knitting partner as she lives in South Africa and the post can be notoriously unpredictable. It wouldn’t matter if her parcel didn’t reach me for a few months but, in fact, it arrived in plenty of time!

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The outer bag was quite badly damaged when it arrived, but the contents were intact so I put everything in the bright red bag that she sent with it and it stayed under the tree until yesterday.

Yes, you read that correctly, yesterday – Boxing night to be exact. Why? Well, it certainly wasn’t because I have masses of will power or patience (quite the opposite, in fact) but because we host Christmas for the family and I spend two days cooking, tidying and making sure everyone is having a good time. I wanted to wait until lunch was over and they were all watching a festive film in the lounge so I could open and photograph my parcels at leisure.

Boxing Day lunch

And this is what Joey sent me!

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Would you like to see them in more detail?

Firstly, there are two Indian cotton tea towels onto both of which Joey had crocheted a beautiful border. Far too nice to use, really, but I will.

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A pretty pin cushion in the shape of a pear. Can you believe I only have one pin cushion which I keep in my sewing room? This one will be used on a daily basis by the children in my sewing classes – I think they’re going to love it.

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Four fab cakes of organic cotton yarn, local to South Africa, which I am thrilled with and can’t wait to use – crochet hooks included!

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A length of festive cotton tape featuring the music of “Jingle Bells”, some hand sewing needles and an atmospheric South African sunset disguised as a fridge magnet.

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I love the little rustic angel that she included, too – I am guessing it is handmade from recycled materials?

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Finally, there were some sweets, a project bag and a card with a lovely message inside. Thank you so much Joey – I am thrilled with all the thoughtful gifts that you obviously spent a lot of time putting together for me!

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By the time I had finished opening and photographing Joey’s parcel, I was dying to open the one from my sewing swap gifter and almost forgot to take a picture of the parcels themselves!

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Teresa, the smiley one who blogs over at Navybluethreads, sent her gifts in two separate packages which arrived a day apart – I only knew there was going to be another parcel when the first one arrived labelled ‘Part 2’!

Look at all this!

There were Christmas cards and a letter – Teresa, you should be a doctor with writing like that, beautiful but illegible!!! No.1 Son and I worked it out in the end though!

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With the help of the newly-translated letter, this is what Teresa sent: –

Loads of amethyst-coloured knit fabric which WILL be made into the dress on the pattern that she included. She knows that I like strong colours and, being a lady of ample bosom herself, obviously knows that the wrap dress is perfect for that. I will make the long sleeved version and wear it with long boots during the Winter.

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I simply cannot resist any pretty vintage lace, fabric or doilies that I come across in charity shops, so when I opened these I was beside myself with excitement! I believe most of these came from Teresa’s stash so I am doubly grateful – I wouldn’t be able to part with any of mine!

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With my new sewing school, The Stitch Academy, in mind, she kindly sent me a publication that would be ideal for the children to use as their skills improve. The stocking pattern is brilliant, too, but I already have it so I hope she won’t mind if I pass it forward to somebody else to enjoy?

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Teresa even thought of The Boys – they will absolutely LOVE making these fox brooches and fishy keyrings!!

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So many generous and thoughtful gifts but my favourite from Teresa has to be this one – a beautifully soft infinity scarf, handknitted by the lovely lady herself, in a self-striping yarn of various jewel shades which looks exactly like it does in the photo. I just love it!

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What more can I say, except a huge ‘Thank You’ to Joey and Teresa for all the fabulous gifts, and a massive pat on the back to all the #stitchingsantas that signed up for this swap and made it so successful and enjoyable.

I hope you all had as much fun as I did – judging by the blog posts I have seen so far, you did and I wasn’t the only one who was more excited about this present under my tree than any of the others!

Look out for the swap again next year when I get the feeling we’ll have an even longer list of participants than the thirty-five that took part this time.

Happy New Year to you all!

 


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Crochet For Calais Update

This is the first pile of fabulous blankets made by all you wonderful people that are going out to Calais and Lesbos this week!

From Sarah, who helped stitch the squares together: –

“Jane popped round earlier, so I now have all of the amazing blankets, hats and other yarny goodies to give to Lee Godwin tomorrow. Just “Wow” everyone, so proud of what we have achieved in such a short space of time. Thank you, thank you.”

pile of crochet blankets

Jane, the organiser of this refugee effort, posted a lovely comment on my blog – here it is for anyone that missed it: –

“Hi everyone, I am Jane, the person behind the squares. I just wanted to thank each and every one of you who has so kindly sent me squares. The current batch are being feverishly stitched together and are going to refugee children in Lesbos this Friday. This is an ongoing crisis and I intend to make this an ongoing project and will always welcome your squares. The nurse who is taking the blankets out with her says that the hand made blankets mean everything to the refugees as it sends a message of hope to them that someone really cares. I will forward photographs to Sheila so she can show you how amazing you all are. Please keep sending them 😊

Here follows some of the photographs Jane has since sent of the finished blankets. Can you spot your square in there?

I think I can see Ali’s from Thimberlina in there!

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I can see four of mine in this one!

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These two cheery blankets are on their way to Justine Corrie for her refuge for traumatised women and children in The Calais Jungle: –

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Message from Lee Godwin who is travelling to Lesbos tomorrow: –
“Jane you and your wonderful knitter friends are doing something truly amazing! There is something very special about knitted blankets because not only are they massively warm but they are also made with so much love and the refugees appreciate this more than you could believe. Anyone can go and buy a blanket but it takes a lot of commitment, motivation and skill to knit them. Thank you to all of you for your time, love and dedication. All my love Lee. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx”

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Knitted squares mix quite happily alongside crocheted ones.

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Simple garter stitch squares from lots of different people make a lovely blanket when joined together, proving that anybody can contribute – the squares don’t have to be fancy!

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A touch of bright red lifts these gorgeous shades-of-blue squares to make it even more cheerful for those poor refugees.

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Some ladies have had the time to make an entire blanket, but don’t let that put you off – every single square is so important!

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Jane says: –

“Your skill level does NOT matter one bit, any knitted square will keep a child warm and they will care not about colour, pattern, or the odd slipped stitch, they care that they have something of their own and something to keep them warm in the cold. Please no one worry about their skill level, every single square is very valuable and very gratefully received xx”

Look at these lovingly knitted squares sent in from a beginner who was desperate to help – they will all be used in the next round of blankets.

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Donations of hand made items such as hats are also gratefully accepted, especially so at this time of year. These have been received and are already on their way to the refugees: –

hats

Finally, an important message from Lee: –

“I am collecting blankets for least the next 5 years. The refugee crisis is not going to end anytime soon. I go to Calais every 3 weeks and plan on going to Greece every 3 months so your blankets / squares will be very well received. All my love xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx”

The Facebook group can be found here if you would like to follow the progress.

My original post, including details of where to send your squares, can be found here – Crochet for Calais.

 


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Van’s Style Crocheted Slippers

Just in case you hadn’t noticed, Christmas is fast approaching which, in my case, means any handmade gifts I have planned need to be either made by now or, at the very least, be quick and easy projects to be squeezed in on the odd evening.

This is a quick and easy project.

And cheap – which is a bonus at this time of year!

May I present to you the Van’s Style Crocheted Slippers by Shush Lander for Craftsy.

Shush LanderI reckon these are as cool as it gets for the inherently un-cool footwear that is a slipper, so I thought I’d make a couple of pairs for The Boys for Christmas.

The digital pattern can be bought on Craftsy for the extremely reasonable price of £2.97 but it gets better – the three balls of yarn I bought from Minerva makes two pairs of slippers (with loads left over) at a cost of £1.79 per ball. Add it all together and divide by two (c’mon, keep up!) and it works out at a VERY cheap £4.08 per pair, a bargain by anyone’s standards, I would say!

This is the bundle that arrived from Minerva Crafts – three balls of Stylecraft acrylic yarn and a packet of round hat elastic.

IMG_2606So, how did they work up?

Well, the pattern is extensive and pretty easy to follow, so no problems there, and the Stylecraft Special DK promises to wash like a dream as it’s good, hardwearing yarn, perfect for slippers.

There are instructions for eight different sizes from toddler through to adult. Hmmm, I wonder if all the difficult-to-buy-for males in the family would like a pair? Except my sixteen year old nephew – he asked his mother to tell me never to crochet anything for him again after the Bob Marley Rasta hat I made for him last Christmas!

The soles are worked with two strands of yarn at a time to make a sturdy, cushioned base for the slipper.

Vans style crocheted slippers2The body of the slipper is crocheted with just one strand of yarn into the back of each stitch which results in a rather lovely ribbed pattern.

Vans style crocheted slippers1You crochet over a circle of hat elastic at the ankle edge to give a more snug and secure fit.

Vans style crocheted slippersYou can just see the elastic if I stretch the top edge open wide.

Vans style crocheted slippers3Bottom edge before: –

Vans style crocheted slippers4 Bottom edge after: –

Vans style crocheted slippers5 A row of slip stitches cleverly cover up the change of yarn colour as demonstrated in this photo: –

Vans style crocheted slippers6Next are the laces which are just for show – two very long rows of simple chain stitches.Vans style crocheted slippers8I made 150 chains instead of the stated 110 as I didn’t feel they were long enough.

lacesThe ‘laces’ are just threaded through with a darning needle and tied in a bow to give the trainer look.

Vans style crocheted slippers9And there you are – a pair of Van’s style slippers whipped up in an evening!

Red vans crocheted slippersThe following evening I made a second pair in blue.

They look a bit like babies’ booties lined up like this!

Vans slippersSize wise, I found that they crocheted up small so would suggest going up a size, but they are stretchy so will still be fine for The Boys.

Blue vans crocheted slippers

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Blue vans crocheted slippers1I ended up giving these to The Boys after they were finished because the photos look better while they are being worn and a little bit odd without a foot inside.

Blue vans crocheted slippers3No.3 Son in particular is chuffed with them, but No.2 Son says they’re a bit tight…..guess what I’ll be making out of the leftover yarn tonight?


43 Comments

Crochet For Calais

A friend of mine has put out a request to all knitters and crocheters who would like to help the refugees at Calais. She needs 12″ squares made IN A HURRY and sent to her which she will then sew together to make blankets for the refugees. The weather is starting to get cold and blankets will make a huge difference to them.

She is hoping to send the first parcel out with a contact who is going on 28th November and would ideally like the squares by 20th in order to sew them together in time.

If you have a couple of hours to whip up a square, please help.

The squares all need to be 12″ in size, made from acrylic yarn and in any colour or pattern you wish – use up some scraps and help a great cause at the same time.

Here’s one I crocheted last night in just two hours. 
I used Robin acrylic DK which is hardwearing and will wash and dry easily…..

…..and a 5mm hook.


The address to send your squares to is:-

Jane Wheelen

5 Donnes Terrace

Castle Cary

Somerset

BA7 7HS

It would be even better if you could share this post on your own blog to see just how many squares we can make between us – bloggers are, in my experience, a caring and generous lot:)

Thank you.


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Crochet Camping In Miniature!

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I happened across this fabulous little book by Kate Bruning called ‘Let’s Go Camping’.

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Well, despite the proper thing to do being to put it on my Christmas wish list at this time of year, it somehow found its way into my Amazon shopping cart and, lo and behold, dropped through the letterbox a day or two later.

Of course, the sensible move would be to pop it on the relevant section on the book shelf, wait until I finished my really long gifts-to-make-for-Christmas list and then think about crocheting miniature camping paraphernalia. But I thought I’d just have ‘a quick flick through’, whilst grabbing five minutes with a cup of coffee.

To quote Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman – “Big mistake. HUGE!”

Faced with delightful images like this of a crocheted caravan complete with crocheted bunk beds and kitchen sink, how could I possibly resist the crochet itch which was insisting on being scratched?

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Well obviously I couldn’t, but I did have a moment of clarity which told me that making anything in the book would soothe the itch, so rather sensibly decided to ignore the time-eating caravan and hook up a quick little picnic scene instead.

And here it is!

let's go camping kate bruning teepee

Just look at that sweet little teepee!

let's go camping kate bruning teepee and cushions

Kate suggests covering wooden skewers or similar with washi tape to use as tent poles, but I improvised with some twigs from the garden which work just as well.

let's go camping kate bruning bunting

Miniature bunting was made in no time at all.

lets go camping kate bruning bunting

A circular rug provides a more comfortable sleeping area for the playmobil characters.

lets go camping kate bruning rug

I made three tiny cushions both round and square, a chequerboard picnic blanket (my own design) and what picnic is complete without a hamper full of food?

lets go camping kate bruning picnic hamper

The lego baseplate will have to suffice until I get around to making the crocheted camping backdrop complete with all manner of trees, bushes and even snow-capped mountains!

lets go camping playmat mountains

The Boys have already declared ownership and spend many a happy minute playing camping with their “mens”.

lets go camping kate bruning

At only £7.49 I think it’s a great affordable Christmas present idea. Are you putting it on your list?

(This is not a formal review – just my own opinion)

On another note – swap partners have now been allocated for the #stitchingsanta. If you haven’t received your email, please check your spam folder first before getting in touch.


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#stitchingsanta Deadline – Secret Santa for Sewers And Yarn Lovers!

Just a reminder that the deadline for joining in with the Stitching Santa is midnight tomorrow (GMT), 31st October – if you haven’t yet signed up – DO IT NOW!

Feel free to share on your own blog – here’s the link: – #stitchingsanta

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Crochet Dolls – TADAH!

This reveal has to be one of the most fun projects I have EVER undertaken, certainly the most enjoyable crochet project I have ever had the pleasure to immerse myself in – even more than a blanket!

Anyone who crochets will know how deeply satisfying the process of blanket-making is, especially during the Winter months.  Long, dark nights curled up on the sofa watching TV, all the while plodding steadfastly through the labour of love that is a crocheted blanket. Whilst always ecstatic to finally finish such an epic task, there’s invariably a sense of “What do I do now?”.

Summer is different. Less time spent indoors, more holidays, car journeys, time in the garden, means a large, cumbersome WIP is out of the question. A small, portable piece is what’s needed, something you can pop in your handbag and get on with anytime, anywhere.

When I came across the book “Crochet Your Own Dolls And Accessories” published by Annie’s Attic, I let out a silent squeal of delight. Here was such a project and, not only that, it could double up as being both my Minerva Crafts Blogger Network post for October and the perfect Christmas present for a little girl!

book cover

I don’t know about you, but my idea of crochet dolls has always been, well….

aargh!

Link omitted so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings:)

With images like this deeply ingrained in my subconscious, I was surprised and thrilled to find a thoroughly modern version which any twenty-first century youngster would find hard to resist falling in love with.

back cover

This huge sack of double knitting yarn arrived from Minerva Crafts way back in July with a tight, three-month deadline of October in mind.

Oh, I forget to tell you – my plan was to make every single thing in the entire book!

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With such a lot to do, I got cracking immediately, starting on page one with “Bella Ann”.

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The bodies of all four dolls are constructed the same way – in one piece from the feet up to the head, then attaching the separately crocheted arms at the end.

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The hair is created using a darning needle and 135 strands of yarn, each one individually knotted onto a single stitch on the head!

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The facial features are basic – two French knots for the eyes and a dab of blusher for the cheeks.

Simple, but effective, just enough to resemble a face.

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“Bella Ann” is an outdoorsy type who loves to get dressed up in a macintosh with matching hat.

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She even has wellies and her own umbrella!

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So here’s my “Bella Ann” – TADAH!

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Next up was “Ginger Blue”, a college girl wearing trendy tights and a denim mini-skirt.

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Remember I said you could chuck them in your handbag and crochet almost anywhere? This is Ginger’s skirt in process whilst sat in the car in a field for five hours while The Boys played in a football tournament on the way to Cornwall…..

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My favourite part of the whole process was definitely making the hair. Each doll had a different method which were all very imaginative and extremely effective.

Ginger’s seemed to be based on an Afro and was worked in five curly layers plus a crown.

hair

The finished layers were sewn horizontally upwards from the base of the head.

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The whole was topped off with a cute little flower headband.

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The cardigan pattern called for tiny buttons to be used for the flower heads, but I embroidered a series of chain stitches instead to form a Lazy Daisy.

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Two tiny blue shirt buttons reclaimed from the Child’s Play Tent are a brightly coloured addition.

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Being a college girl, the obligatory accompanying rucksack even has tiny crocheted textbooks that fit inside!

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Mary-Jane shoes are adorned with more reclaimed shirt buttons, this time in Cherry Red.

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And now for the “Ginger Blue” – TADAH!

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And so, on to “Dani Rae”, a sun-worshipper who loves nothing more than a day at the seaside and whose outfit of choice is a one-piece swimsuit.

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Dani Rae’s hair was the most fun to make and was crocheted in wig format before being stitched on to the head in its entirety.  I love the way the hair curls out at the ends – such great design detail.

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Just look at those flip-flops and flippers!

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Of course, every girl needs a sun hat to prevent sun stroke and, if it has a flower on it, so much the better.

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A ‘rubber’ ring is the essential remaining accessory for fun in the waves.

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Here is “Dani Rae” in all her finery ready for her “TADAH!” moment.

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Finally, we move on to “Nurse Deb”, a midwife of the highest distinction, dressed in theatre scrubs.

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She wears the typical clogs/’Crocs’ that appear to be the footwear favoured by so many hospital staff nowadays.

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Nurse Deb’s hair was made in the same way as Bella Ann – each of 135 strands knotted on individually to single stitches on the head in rows…..

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……and then trimmed into a neat graduated bob shape to ring the changes.

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A stethoscope was made from thin wire and seed beads, adding pearls for the eartips and a button for the chestpiece.  Quite fiddly to put together, but it looks ace!

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She cradles a newborn baby in her arms…..

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…..and a medical chart in her other hand.

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The instructions were to sew both of these permanently in place but, as half the fun is undressing the doll and putting baby in a crib, this would have been impossible, so I used hook and loop fastener instead to make them removable.

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This is “Nurse Deb” posing for her “TADAH”!

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Would you like to see them all together?

T A D A H ! ! !

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Well, that’s it, all done and dusted and I have to admit that I’m a little bit sad.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the process and seeing all the elements emerge successfully from the unfamiliar-to-me instructions. I can only imagine the fun that this little girl is going to have when she opens these on Christmas morning, and all the adventures the dolls are going to be involved in coming from the imagination of a child.

If you know a little girl who would love these dolls, or you just want the fun of making them yourself, head on over to Minerva Crafts where you can buy the book and all the yarn needed to make all four dolls.


55 Comments

New Hens And A Look At Needlework

We lost a hen recently, one of my favourites, a Bovan Nera named ‘Marley’ – her sister, ‘Bob’ died a few weeks ago as well. Such a lovely, sweet nature, she was the only hen that stood by Amber while she was recovering from a broken leg and didn’t pick on her. When broody, she would hop up onto the sofa and settle down on The Boys’ laps waiting to be stroked.

I miss her calming presence and gentle ‘clucking’ as she wandered in and out of the house.

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As you may have noticed, The Girls play a big part in our lives so I thought you might like to know a bit more about them.

If not, just scroll down the page to the sewing and crochet:)

There are only two hens remaining from the original flock of six, ‘Ginger’, a Columbian Blacktail, and the characterful ‘Amber’, an Amber Star, whose image has graced many a blog post and who is now fully recovered and integrated back into the flock.

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We raised Cock, Buzz and Woody from eggs that our hens hatched, but we lost Buzz to the fox after she ventured into his domain. Generally we don’t have a problem with foxes because, although they are just yards away in the fields most days, they are happy to feast on the never ending supply of rabbits rather than risk getting shot by trying to steal one of The Girls!

Spot, Bluebell, Bob and Marley were all found dead in the nest box at different times with no obvious signs of injury. However, Cock is twice the size of The Girls and he has these lethal weapons.

Three inch long spurs.

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Being an amorous youngster, he is not very delicate with his ladies and we suspect that it was one of these daggers that broke Amber’s leg back in the Summer. He may also have accidentally crushed the others in the nest box overnight too, which would account for the sudden nature of their demise.

Having said all that, he keeps the flock from squabbling most of the time and is a brilliant guard ‘dog’, crowing at any poor unsuspecting delivery person who dares to open the five bar gate at the end of the driveway.

Being a country girl born and bred, his thunderous “Cock-a-doodle-do!” at five am every morning is reassuring rather than annoying. I’ll never forget the look on my husband’s face when Cock let out his his first strangled half-crow at six months old as he was feeding them corn, the first time we were certain he was a cockerel and not a hen. The tell-tale huge wattle and comb take up to a year to develop fully and at that point he looked just like the others.

There’s no mistaking him for a hen now though!

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Here’s ‘Woody’, hatched with Cock and Buzz.

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A quiet hen who loves blackberries and will jump quite high to reach the juiciest ones!

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Anyway, with a reduced flock of just four we decided it was the right time to replenish the numbers. After a failed attempt to hatch three eggs under a broody hen (they kept getting broken) we returned to the farm where we purchased the original six and bought four more point-of-lay hens.

You need to introduce new girls to the flock with care and in at least pairs as they will automatically get hen-pecked by the senior birds in a bid to teach them the pecking order. And yes, that’s where those phrases come from!

Do you want to meet them?

No, we haven’t got any less obvious with our name choices!

Here’s ‘Star’, a Sussex Star, looking a little grubbier than usual.

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‘Bluebell’, a, erm, Blue Belle.

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‘Chestnut’, a Chalk Hill, Chestnut Ranger.

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Finally, meet ‘Snow White’, a White Leghorn.

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The newbies are still settling in and they haven’t quite got the hang of roosting in the coop at night yet. We usually find them on top of the run at dusk but, several times, have found Blue Belle asleep on top of the rotary washing line!  Luckily, when they’re dozy they’re really easy just to scoop up and safely relocate on the perch with the older hens.

We still find the odd egg laid randomly around the garden and under the trampoline, but most days they’re in the nest box now.

Chestnut lays dark brown eggs – don’t they look pretty with all the others in the bucket?

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It’s nice to see a decent sized flock free ranging again!  Even the newbies regularly come into the house for a ‘chat’ and a few crumbs of whatever I can find to give them. We have four sets of French windows downstairs most of which are permanently open from April to September so The Girls are used to popping in and out at leisure. Now the air has chilled somewhat, the doors are closed and they don’t come in as often, but opportunist Amber will squeeze through the tiniest gap in a door left ajar and plonk herself down firmly with the dogs in front of a roaring fire!

Hens – if you haven’t got any yet, GET SOME!

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Talking of a roaring fire, you may remember that a while ago I found this lovely old fire screen in a charity shop for a few pounds and it has been prettily screening the empty grate all Summer. I shall miss seeing it over the Winter, but logs crackling are a fair substitute!

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An English cottage garden scene hand embroidered onto linen – isn’t it beautiful?

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I used to do a lot of embroidery and cross stitch and still dabble now and again. Years ago, circa 1987-88, I spent weeks labouring over these two ladies as a Christmas gift to my mother.  She has since downsized and they were packed away for over fifteen years before she offered them back to me.

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Each lady is about ten inches in height so they’re pretty sizeable. I just need to repair the back of the frames and then I think I might hang them in our bedroom. What do you think? The colours are still as vibrant as the day they were finished nearly thirty years ago – testament to being kept behind glass out of direct sunlight, I suppose.

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I’m almost three quarters of the way through my Minerva Crafts project for October – good job I started back in July, but I knew I’d need three months to complete the WHOLE book!

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I’ve already got my sights set on another glorious book to work through cover to cover – “Let’s Go Camping” by Kate Bruning.

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You have to check out the caravan – it’s even got crocheted bunk beds!

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In fact, I may have to go right to Amazon now and order myself a copy because my heart is fluttering just looking at it again.

What’s on your needles right now?