Thursday, 10 September 2009

Crocheted rabbit

It was my eldest daughter's birthday yesterday, and I wanted to make something special for her. I decided to have a go at the Japanese art of amigurumi, which involves making small crocheted animals. However, all the patterns I could get on the internet seemed a bit fussy, and I wanted something really simple.

So I picked up the crochet needle and some brown yarn and decided to improvise. I figured out that once you have created the number of stitches you want, you just keep double crocheting into them in a spiral until you get the desired size.

I started them all off with a slip ring and about 4-5 doubles into the ring. I then either increased or decreased to get the shapes I was after. I created the arms, legs, body and head of the rabbit, and used a pattern for leaves to make the ears.

I left long yarn ends, so that I could use them for sewing the pieces together. I stuffed each piece with toy stuffing and a bit of dried lavender (you can see from the photos that I overstuffed some, especially the arm). Then I took the slip ring of each piece, pulled it tight, then through the part until it came out the other side. I knotted this to the other yarn end to secure them in place, which also leaves a nice flat and secure end.

The next step was to add a tail, which I formed from white cotton yarn and in a similar way to the other pieces, leaving a long end to sew it on.

Then the fun bit was decorating it. I made a couple of eyes and a nose - this took a few attempts to get something that looked ok-ish, and in the end I ran out of time before her birthday, so had to settle for this:

The next step was to give it some clothes. I had some iron-on flowers from a previous project, so I decided to use these on the feet instead of shoes (time constraints!), and sewed some buttons on to the tummy.

It just needed something else, so I took some patchwork pieces of Liberty Lawn that were waiting for inspiration, and sewed them onto a piece of ribbon to make an apron-type skirt. I then ironed on a longer piece of velvet ribbon to tie it on. I know how much children love to dress and undress their dolls, and this means I can make more clothes for it at a later date.

Finally, I made a little headband using the same ribbon and an iron-on flower. Ta da!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Handbags and gladrags

One of the joys of making your own things is that you can make stuff that can't be bought in the shops. It is very rarely cheaper to buy the materials to make your own than to buy something mass produced, but the satisfaction of creating something unique usually overrides the additional cost.

However, there are exceptions to this. Handbags are my case in point. You can spend almost unlimited amounts of money on a handbag, and it won't even last that long. I am always trying to reassure myself that the money spent on a good bag is worthwhile, because it will last a longer time, but in my experience it just isn't true.

SoI decided that it was worth the investment in some yarn to make a good bag. My first attempt - 'Tasha' from took forever to make:

I think this was mainly because of the cable detailing on the strap, which I had to unpick and re-knit many, many times.
I think I also made it too long, which can be attributed to the pride I felt when I actually got the hang of the cable design. There was no way this strap was going to come up short!

My second attempt was inspired by a bargain lot of' Rowan Country' from Kemps Wool shop.

I didn't have a pattern to make a bag out of it, so decided to go freestyle. The pattern came completely out of my head, as I pictured the shape I wanted it to felt into, knitted it, felted it on 60 in the washing machine and, to my amazement, out came this:

I got stuck for a while, but the problem of what to use as a handle came from my odds and ends bag as I corded together lots of strands to make a handle, and crocheted some lazy daisies to sew on.

And I think the finished article looks OK?

My only problem now is whether to use this as a work bag? I don't want my colleagues to think I am any more flaky than they probably already do. Turning up to work as an accountant looking more suited to a camping festival is something I already specialise in - is this going to be a step too far?

How it all began...

I have always enjoyed making stuff, perhaps inspired by older generations who would always have a creative project on the go. Maybe it was Brownies and Guides, where I learnt to cook and mend, or school, where needlework lessons yielded a completely unwearable pair of shorts?

Having spent my childhood in full time education, relishing the artistic and creative side of life in art lessons and so on, it was a horrible shock to go to university where there was no creative outlet to life. It only got worse when I started my career in accountancy, a profession exceptionally ill-suited to anyone with a wayward mind. The very words 'creative accountancy' sum up how dangerous and potentially illegal it is to innovate in my job.

Having struggled through many barren years of boring careerdom, making cards and small projects in my spare time, the latent creative side positively flourished when I had my two wonderful little daughters. Seeing their constant stream of ideas and desire to make things led me to start making things for and with them. If there was any way I could make ends meet this way, I would dearly love to 'give up the day job', but until that day, I spend my spare time knitting, crocheting, sewing and thinking up new ways to use our own produce and that of other small makers.

The internet is such an inspiring place to be these days. There are so many talented people out there making and sharing ideas. If my blog can form a tiny part of that world, then it makes it all worthwhile.