Sunday, 25 May 2014

Love crochet zoo

In one respect its been quite a quiet week here. I haven't had any pressing crochet work on and have been able to have a relax and enjoy the calm before the storm.

That said I have a lot to share. You may know I have a day job at Duttons for Buttons a haberdashers in York. I don't talk about my crochet to customers much I'm trying to sell haberdashery after all but a week last friday a couple came in with the latest Craftseller magazine wanted toy eyes to make the mermaid on the cover. I was putting stock away and not really paying attention as the couple were being served by my colleague  she pointed at me and said "oh Liz over there designed that pattern". I'm not sure who was more shocked - me who hadn't seen the latest Craftseller yet and was trying to polity ask if I could have a look at her magazine or the lovely lady who was now face to face with the person who had designed the mermaid pattern for which she bought the magazine.

We had a lovely chat and I was able to get her the correct toy eyes as I myself had bought them from Duttons. She asked me to sign her magazine which was a first and I had no idea what to write but I hope I didn't let her down. I guess I met my first fan.

Craftseller asked for selfies of people with their copy of the mag and as me an Cal were settled in crochet corner I took this pic of us today to join in the fun.

Next up Love Crochet magazine came out at the back end of last week. I knew I had the cover project but I didn't get my copy till this monday.

This stripy elephant is the first of three project I designed for this magazine.

The original sketch I did had a more traditional sized elephant with a bigger body but I just couldn't get this to look right when I made the pieces. In the end I was getting close to deadline and just thought I would try it with a smaller body and see what happened. Well as you can see the results are above. I am so happy with this little elephant now. I've never tried colour-work like this before in amigurumi but it now firmly on my list to try again.

 I spotted this on a facebook crochet group I follow.

Jane Watson was very quick of the mark and has already made a little Eric the elephant herself. She say this was her first crocheted animal. I think she's done a wonderful job. Apparently she's onto the monkey yet and has told me I have to design a giraffe to go with them. I'll put it on my list Jane thanks x

More love crochet this is the monkey

Alfie is his name. This one came out as planned right down to his lovely little toes. Really you could put any motif or design on his little t-shirt but I had an A in my craft box and I liked the way it went with the other bright colours of the group.

Last up for this months love crochet is Blossom the panda.

Shes so pretty.

I'm just got the commission in for the next issue of Love crochet and while I can't say what it is, it going to be very, very cute :)

Finally I have a little group of pattern in this months inside crochet aswell.

More on that in my next post. now its time to head over to handmade Monday and catch up with my fellow craft bloggers x

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Mandala love

Well my copy of Love crochet magazine hasn't turned up yet so I can't do that review yet. I'm also having one of those strange weekends where I don't have any pressing work on so I've been able to play.

Lucy over at Attic 24 has been asking for mandalas for Yarndale. Yarndale is a festival of all things yarn, I heaven for knitters and crocheters held in Skipton north Yorkshire. I found out about it last year but couldn't go because I was working at Duttons. I was tormented by people who had been to yarndale coming in the shop to buy buttons to go with yarn they had bought, pulling out hanks and balls of  the most beautiful yarn out and making me drool. So as you can imagine I can't wait to attend this year.

So back to mandala. Lucy has asked for us crocheters to make a mandala and send it in to be displayed at yarndale. You can read more about it on her blog here

I have never made a mandala. There are a lot of patterns out there.

I started off trying the little spring mandala by Barbara smith

This is my result

I went slightly wrong on the third round and one of my bobbles has an extra stitch in it but other than that I really enjoyed making it. The pattern is really easy to understand and has some techniques I haven't tried before but were fun and gave a great result. If anything I think mine ended up being a bit small. Lucy wants mandalas that are about 8 inches across and this is only 6.

Next I attempted the spokes mandala

I went for really bright colours on this. I used the rico cotton aran and a 3.5mm hook so it was nice and tight and would hold its shape. The yarn worked well but it does split so doing the long spokes was pretty tricky. While the finished product looks great there really are only two rows in this that are not just basic treble crochet in the round so it wasn't as much fun to make as my first one.

Lucy wasn't wrong these really are addictive to make. Next up I had a go at Lucy's pattern that shes written exclusively for yarndale.

This one was really fun. Every row is different so its really entertaining to crochet. I made a slight change to the pattern after the slip stitch round I worked the next round in back loop only. I like the edge this gives as it defines the slip stitch round.. I'm going to make a few more of these in different colours.

Next up was a bit of a departure but I saw this on pinterest and couldn't resist. This pattern for a heart pop holder can be found here on Sandras blog cherry heart

I love this its so pretty. I did struggle a bit with the pattern but there is a chart which really helps. I had to fudge it in areas but I think it worked out ok.

With so many wonderful patterns out there I didn't know what to make next but I was already starting to think of my own ideas and ways I would make one of my own design. I had a play and came up with this.

Its a bit of a work in progress. I used some of the stitches I liked in the first mandala I made and added a drop stitch to create the colour work between the bobbles Its finished with a picot edge cause I really enjoyed doing the picot edge on the heart.

 I haven't written this pattern down yet but I will and it'll be available here free for Yarndale.

So here they are all together and now I just have to decide which one to send to Lucy.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Craftseller mermaid and crew

Where does the time go. I meant to write this post a few days after my last and all of a sudden its nearly two weeks later. Sorry guys I will get my act together soon and be updating more regularly.

First up I've had a bit of a digital spring clean and done a few long overdue blog updates. The pattern section is now completely up to date and I've added an "in the press page" which is just really a photo gallery of my published patterns or my little showing off space as I like to think of it. I've still a few more updates to do and I want to add some more tutorials, which are in the pipeline and hopefully the first one will be up this weekend.

Now to the reason of this post. Have you seen the latest Craftseller magazine?

 My mermaid, octopus and crabs pattern has made it onto the cover. This is my 4th Craftseller cover in a year. I'm more than a bit chuffed I can tell you. I love the way they have photographed the group. Its come out really well. The crabs look so cute and the octopus has that slightly sinister look that seems quite fitting.

The story of this commission started a few months ago. I was chatting with a friend at work about amigurumi and as usually happens they were suggesting things I should make next. I get this a lot but I love it, I get some great ideas but usually end up with more things I want to make than time to make them.
 So, anyway, Tanya suggests an octopus. I told her I had done an octopus before and its one of the most boring tasks having to make eight legs all the same, I wouldn't relish the task again. Then I said and I quote "I would never, ever make another octopus".
 Honestly just half an hour later I got an email for my commissioning editor at Craftseller asking for a group of amigurumi containing a mermaid, some crabs and an octopus. Thats what you get for making sweeping statements :)

When I'd got over the initial shock I was quite please with this commission. I'd been wanting to do a mermaid for ages. Mermaids are an amigurumi classic but there are a lot of pitfall with them. You have to be careful about clam bra size so she's not too rude, give her red hair and your instantly copying Ariel and I've seem some dodgy looking fins in my research, I can tell you. I was a bit weary about attempting mine so I went through a few sketches. This was the one the Craftseller guys liked best but they asked for slightly larger clams to cover her modesty a bit more and a bigger octopus that would sit behind her on a rock rather than be cuddled. (I think this is way the finished octopus looks slightly miffed)

My mum says she can hear the cogs going in my head when I start planning a pattern. I think out the whole pattern in my head and then type it out before I even get my hooks out and start making. Usually there are small adjustments to make as I start crocheting but I have found this way works best for me.

(I've just realized she doesn't have a name. I'll have to change that I can't just call her the mermaid. If you have any ideas let me know.)

She is worked in one piece from the top of her head to the start of the fin, The arms, tail decoration, fin and clam bra are worked separately and attached. Attaching bits of amigurumi together is one of the tutorials I'm working on as is how to do this hair. That hair took a full ball of yarn. Each strand is attached individually so they cover the whole scalp. It is a labor of love but shes so worth it. It also means they they are as safe as possible for children to play with. They can hairstyle her to their little hearts content. I put a few little plaits in myself as I couldn't stop myself playing.

The seashell crown is made of real seashells. As no one took my massive hints that it was a really good excuse to go to the seaside to collect some I had to get these from the Range.

I went a different way with the octopus as I really didn't want to make eight individual legs again. These legs work really quickly in the round so they aren't daunting at all. I think he's lovely and I've made my peace with octopuses/octopi??

As for the crabs. I based this pattern on my old bobble bunch patterns but all the magic happens on the last round. One minute you have a red ball- the next its the most perfectly cute little crab and there is hardly any sewing with this one just weaving in the loose ends and sewing a mouth on. I kinda knew what I hoped they would look like when I wrote the pattern but I wasn't prepared for just how cute they were going to be when I finished. This little finished crab sat in my hand and it was love at first site. I sat with it for ages, then it got to sit on my laptop while I typed and it had to come with me when I made a cup of tea.  Ok ok Craftseller didn't get that first one, I made them two more and my first crabby love still sits near me watching me work.

This was the first project I was really, really pleased with. I'm not saying I'm unhappy with other work I've done, its just I'm really self critical and can always see ways things can be done better. When I bundled this little group up to be parceled off I got a real sense of a job well done. Its the first time I've been quietly confident they would make the cover but it doesn't stop me being really pleased they did.

Lo and behold I got another lovely surprise last night when I saw the cover of the summer issue of Love crochet magazine (out Friday).

Thats my stripy elephant and in the corner you can just make out my monkey and panda. I'll tell you more about them in my next post which will be soon I promise x

Sunday, 4 May 2014


As usual its far too long between blog posts and I'm have far to much to write about so I may split this into a couple of post.

First big new my little sister had her second little boy on Easter Sunday. He is absolutely beautiful.

Me playing the role of Aunty Liz with little Hector at 5 days old.

This photo is from left to right my older sister Jen, my younger sister Kat, her sons Hector and Lucas, me (squinting) and my mum.

I missed out on going to harrogate flower show this spring but instead I went to the Good food show. It was great but very, very busy, there were crowds of people everywhere and getting anywhere near stalls took ages. The main reason it was so busy was that the headline celebrity chief for the day was Mary Berry.

 She did a half hour live cooking show which was interesting and very funny. She forgot to put the pesto in the salmon dish she was making but like the pro she is took it all in her stride and made a running joke of it.
She also did a signing and while I didn't get a book signed as the queue was so long but it was nice to she her a bit closer up.

I also managed to catch a glimpse of Dave from the Hairy bikers, Brian Turner and the guy who won last season great British break off. I got to try lots of different cheeses, meats and some wonderful artisan gins. I came home with a bottle of sole gin, a massive white chocolate - raspberry cupcake and very sore feet.

It was lovely to have a proper day off and spend time with my family.

In work news I have been working on my amigurumi hair tutorial and have two new patterns that are now available in my esty shop.

 Spring fairy and the bride.
 I'm quite pleased with this bride pattern there are some wonderful fun techniques in it. Curling the hair for this pretty up-do makes for a very different style of amigurumi hair but its really very simple to make. I've given her peach and apricot flowers which may not be everyone's favorite colour but I love it and I'm on a campaign to bring back peach :)

In magazine news I have two patterns in this months inside crochet magazine
 Lucy bunny
 and my bead earrings.
 Many thanks to Inside crochet for sending me these wonderful photos they are stunning as always.

They also sent me this badge for my blog which is just lovely and I will be putting it up very soon.

I love you to Inside crochet magazine. Even before I started working for them I was an avid reader and got some many good hints. They have so many beautiful original patterns very month its truly inspiring for any crocheter.

More magazines - my Scottie dog that I made for Craftseller magazine are in a brand new crochet magazine all about knitted and crocheted toys. More about that later as I can't find any photos from the mag just the one I tok before I posted them off.

 Finally I got a lovely surprise when Craftsellers facebook page released a photo of their newest magazine.
Thats my mermaid, octopus and crabs on the cover. I never know if the projects I do for this magazine will make the cover but I was so happy with this finished group that I was really hopeful they would make it to be cover stars and I'm really please they did.

I don't have my copy of the magazine yet its not in the shops till Friday so I'll tell you more about how this odd underwater family came together in my next post.

I'll leave it there for now as I want to relax with a glass of wine and catch up with all the other lovely craft blogs over at handmade Monday