Saturday, 29 August 2015

Tea cosy love

A while ago I was asked for some ideas for a giveaway craft mag that went with one of the ones I normally work with. I rattled off a long list of ideas for toys, home wares, decorations and clothing  and at the end I said "oh and a tea cosy might be pretty cool just cause I really want to make one"

Well they didn't go for the tea cosy idea and so it got put away in my book of the many ideas. Then a few months later, the same magazine asked me to design a Russian doll tea cosy and I was very, very happy.

My first problem was that I didn't actually have a tea pot. I know shock horror right. I did years ago and I loved it. I used to work at Whittards coffee and tea merchants and have great respect for tea and I've past tests about it.  Now I live alone and I make my morning tea in a mug, its a very pretty mug but I know in my heart its not the same.

I had a pretty good idea of the size of a tea pot so I didn't run out to buy one for this design.

This was the design I can up with. I knew I would have to make the main body of the tea cosy in two pieces and I'm not keen on the look if double crochet in straight rows so first I decided on stripes and then I decoded on cobble stitch.

 This was an experiment with eyes but it does show quite nicely the difference between the cobble stitch on the main body and the straight double crochet on the apron. I would work as much as possible in the round if I could as that lovely flat finish is my favorite but when I have to work straight I want it to be a bit more interesting where I can.

The embroidery on the apron is lazy daisy stitch its a classic embroidery stitch. I've explained how to do it in the pattern but there are lots of lovely tutorials on you tube if you get stuck.

This pattern was destined for Craftseller magazine and here it is in the published mag.

Finally on a tea pot and looking lovely.

The story doesn't end there. I had really enjoyed making this design and quite a few more ideas for tea cosys came from it. The book of the many ideas had a lot of tea cosy scribbles and many things underlined (my version of must make this soon). I could see the next one I wanted to make perfectly, pale green with an abundance of flowers all over the crown.

I also had in my mind that I must buy a tea pot, I just wanted a plain white one I could use for photos. This was one of the fist stumbling blocks because I couldn't find a nice tea pot. there were lots of stainless steal one around but all the white ones I found were way out of my price range. Then last week me and mum were on a mission the next tea cosy had been made and was waiting to be put together and photographed so I needed a teapot now.

I knew I could get a plain white one from the range but before we got there we when into BHS home for a spot of lunch and I spotted this baby :)

Isn't she pretty :)

The best thing is her handle and spout are white so she'll work with for my tea cosy photos but she's so pretty to look at too and that makes very happy.

That only leaves the reveal of my next tea cosy pattern. Ta da.....

I call her flora and I love her.

Again I've used the cobble stitch for the main part of the cosy and then covered the crown with tiny flowers and leaves. I love the combination of coral, cream and green together it just works and give it such a delightful retro feel. It also reminds me of a swimming cap and I like that :)

This tea cosy pattern will be available soon (later today if I type fast enough) and I'll be using it at my first Crafty afternoon on the 17th september.

This will be held at Duttons for buttons in York, UK and its a craft and chat so bring along your latest project if you want to join in. I'll be there to get you started if you want to try something new and I'm a Jack of all trades when it comes to crafts so I'll be able to advice in most things.

I've worked at Duttons for buttons for nearly 10 years and while I'm mainly a crochet designer now I still really love being there for the few shifts I do every week. Its always been a bit of a dream to do these Crafty afternoons so I'm really looking forward to it.

So its in Duttons, York 2pm - 4pm first one is the 17th of September but it'll be every third Thursday each month. Craft, chat, tea and cake what could be more lovely. I hope to see some of you there.

Also I've not stopped on the tea cosy patterns. I'm going to do a calendar - 12 patterns one for each month and its going to be amazing.
If you have any suggestions for what you would like to see and what month  it'd be lovely to here them so comment below.

Right I don't know about you but I need a cup of tea and this time I'm gonna make myself a pot.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Easy peasy amigurumi tutorial part 2

This is part two of the tutorial to make amigurumi and understand written crochet patterns. I'm using this beginners amigurumi pattern from this months love crochet magazine. (I will print the full pattern here when it becomes free of the magazines copywrite)

In part one we focused on the very basic on starting out you can find that here

For this part we are going to make the head and start on the body of the dogs

So last time we were increasing by 6 stitches each round which gave use a flat disc. Now we need to shape it into a sphere so we change to increasing by 3 stitches each round.

Rnd 3: (dc in the first two sts, 2dc in the next st) repeat to end. 24sts

Rnd 4: (dc in the first three Sts, 2dc in the next st) repeat to end. 30sts

Rnd 5: (dc in the first nine Sts, 2dc in the next st) repeat to end. 33sts
Rnd 6: (dc in the first ten Sts, 2dc in the next st) repeat to end. 36sts  

The written pattern still looks the same but if you look at the stitch count at the end of each line it goes from increasing by 6 to 3.

As you are working the pattern you'll notice the piece begin to curl up into a bowl shape. This is what we want to happen.

The pattern continues in this way until we get to the size head we want. 

When I first started writing patterns I played around a lot with how different shapes and sizes of shapes work best together to get the best finish results for the finish amigurumi. In my patterns I've done all the maths so you will get the best results every time.

The next few rounds are worked straight. There is no increasing you are just going round and round double crocheting in each st. When you get to these rows you can breathe a sigh of release because for the next few round you don't have to count.

On one of these rounds you'll be asked to place a stitch marker. I use a different colour piece of yarn to my row marker and I place it in the middle of the round so I don't confuse it with my row marker. As soon as you've placed this marker you can ignore it till you have to place the eyes in.

Next up is decreasing

Rnd 13: (dc2tog, dc in next six sts) repeat to end. 42sts
Rnd 14: (dc2tog, dc in next five sts) repeat to end. 36sts
Rnd 15: (dc2tog, dc in next four sts) repeat to end. 30sts

This is how decreasing looks in a written pattern. Again if you notice the stitch count at the end of each line of pattern we are decreasing by 6.

You might think that if you are forming a sphere you would decrease the same way as you increased but that doesn't give you the best shape or work for amigurumi designs.

So how to decrease - you are double crocheting two stitches together. There are a few ways to do this but this is how I do it-

hook through next stitch, drawer through yarn, hook through next stitch, yarn over, drawer through all three loops on hook.

To me this gives the tightest decrease and thats really important to get the best shape.

The shape of an amigurumi design should look perfect before its stuffed and no shaping should be required by stuffing.

Following the written pattern you will be asked to pause to insert the toy eyes. I'll talk more about toy eyes in a later tutorial but for now use safety eyes in the size given in the pattern. Placement will be given as stitches apart. Put one eye in, count across the stitches on that round then place the next toy eye in. Only put the washers on the back when you are happy they are both level.

For the last part of this tutorial I'll talk a little bit about stuffing.

As you are decreasing the hole at the base of your head will get smaller and smaller. For this pattern you will be working the head and body together so its best to stuff the head after you have worked a few rounds of the body.This means you will not be pulling out bits of stuffing with your hook as you work the first rounds of the body.

I tease out my stuffing before inserting it so it doesn't form strange clumps that show on the finished shape. Stuff well as under-stuffed amigurumi can look misshapen also. You will probably find your toy eyes go a bit wonky when your stuffing and you'll have to manhandle them back into position when you've finished stuffing.

Right thats it for part two. I will be posting a free pattern to practice soon but till then I'll point you in the direction of my Caterpillar pattern you can find it here 

Its the perfect pattern to practice increasing and decreasing so I hope you enjoy it.

In part three we'll be finishing the body and starting on the legs and muzzle