Boris Pecker

There’s been some raised eyebrows in the last couple of weeks when I’ve been asked what I’m doing. ‘Knitting a pigeon’, is evidently not a standard response. Sometimes I like to do something pointless for no better reason than to make myself smile, and when I saw the pattern for Boris on the front of the latest issue (July 2015) of Knit Today, I just couldn’t resist and ordered the yarn from the Wool Warehouse.

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When I twigged I’d only be using using a small amount from each 100g ball and that this Stylecraft Special DK yarn is the same yarn that Lucy from Attic 24 (great crochet blog, especially for beginners) often uses, I ordered some more shades.  Since I mastered basic crochet, I’ve wanted to have a go at one of Lucy’s ripple blanket patterns. I needed something soft and washable to take on picnics, also inexpensive, so if it all goes wrong I won’t be living with financial guilt!

Wool Warehouse delivered the beautifully packaged yarn the very next day, along with accessories – eyeballs for Boris and a couple of crochet hooks with flat handles that I’ve realised suit me better than the rounded type. I was pleased to find the yarn wasn’t scratchy or prone to splitting and got to work.

Fiddly, I think is the word to describe the making of Boris. For toy making the needles tend to be a size smaller than recommended for the yarn, so that the fabric will be dense enough for construction and stuffing.  This makes the tension tighter than normal knitting and it’s hard work. Then there is the making up of all the separate pieces, right down to individual toes.

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My target was to have Boris finished for the start of Wimbledon and here he is, enjoying the coverage from the BBC (I changed the colours slightly so he is acceptable at the All England Club).

The ripple blanket is now in progress after a frustrating start.  As recommended I made a small sample to get the hang of the pattern before starting the real thing.  Turned out to be excellent advice from Lucy, as I went wrong four times and almost gave up before I finally cracked it. Fortunately the first row is by far the trickiest bit and now I’m into a rhythm I think I can just about watch the tennis as I hook away.

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Soggy Sundays

Anyone else secretly pleased when it rains at the weekend? Before children it was in the hope my husband’s cricket match might be called off and we could spend quality time together. These days it means if the house is in a passable state, I’m not obliged to go out and do useful stuff, like weeding.

The girls were sleeping over at Grandma’s so the house was blissfully quiet on Sunday. I put on a film (The Help) and rummaged in my box of ‘Ready to Go’ projects. Every time I have a stash sort, I put bags together complete with instructions and all the materials I need to complete something.  This is especially useful if I’m going away as I can just grab a ‘kit’. Or, if I want to start making something straight away, it prevents the wane of enthusiasm when I can’t find the particular thing I’m looking for.

In this particular bag I’d put two balls of Hooked Zpaghetti yarn, a 12mm crochet hook, a bag handle and three patterns for inspiration.  After a bit of pondering, I decided to combine elements from the bag and basket patterns as I went along to create a basket of my own. Double crochet stitches (US single) make my basket pretty dense and strong, though being fairly new to crochet and this unfamiliar yarn, I did find the first few rounds tricky. The dark shade made the stitches more difficult to see and count and I found it hard to pull the hook through more than one loop at a time.

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I increased at regular intervals, spiralling the base until it was the diameter I wanted.  (A stitch marker was really helpful to mark the beginning of the round.) Then to create the angle, I crocheted into the back loop for one round. From then on it was plain sailing and doubles all the way until it looked like the yarn was running out.  Finally a round of simple slip stitches gave a neat edge and I attached the handles by picking up the yarn through the ring before making the stitch.

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I was pretty chuffed with the finished basket which grew satisfyingly quickly and was easily finished in a day.  It was good to take a break from my ongoing knitting project and the basket is ideal for storing my beautiful Scheepjeswol Sunkissed yarn. IMG_0031

If you’d like to make a basket with Zpaghetti or a similar T-shirt yarn and work from an exact pattern, the base of mine is very similar to the ‘large basket’ pattern found in Crochet published by DK. The hanging basket pattern is by Ilaria Chiaretti and found in Issue 45 of Mollie Makes magazine and there are plenty of free patterns and kits for Zpaghetti yarn on the DMC Creative website.

It’s A Small World

Every so often the Chair at our branch of Embroiderer’s Guild presents us with a challenge. For the latest one we were each given a petri dish and a theme, ‘It’s a Small World’. The only rules were to incorporate it in something textile related. Our creations would be judged by the visiting artist at the June meeting.

Now that I’ve been a member for a couple of years, I thought I might give this one a bash. For inspiration, I browsed through my recent photos.  I’m no photographer but I’ve always carried a simple camera (these days just a phone) to record something that catches my eye.

I found these from last time the fair was in town.  The fairground evokes fond memories for me of the times my Grandma took me on summer day trips to Southport.  We’d play the 2p machines, hook-a-duck and ride the caterpillar and carousel. I still love the blaring waltzer music, garish colours and the vinegary smell of a chip van.

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It was the spiralling wave on the helter skelter that I noticed first as it made me think of ric-rac, and then looking at the other rides, I could imagine my petri dish forming the base and top of a carousel. Last week I’d brought some self-adhesive red gingham ribbon that happened to be the perfect width for the edge of the dish and I also had some turquoise ribbon with red spots that reminded me of the lights on fairground rides. I used these as the basis for my colour scheme. Where and how could I get tiny horses though? Eventually I sourced these lovely buttons from Laura Matthews Etsy shop.

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Constructing the tented top was trickier than I’d imagined and required some long forgotten maths, strengthening iron-on vilene and a couple of paper models before I got it right.

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The central pole was made from a little cardboard pencil tube that I painted with acrylics before gluing on spiralling ric-rac and braid. I painted the horses and stitched them onto bamboo skewers that I’d covered in narrow ribbon. The kids’ cheap plastic beads had just the right sized holes to insert the skewers in to give a bit more surface area to attach to the dish, before the very fiddly process of gluing them in place.  My girls very kindly also donated their Lego flag!

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Here’s the finished carousel – not a prizewinner, but still a little tribute to my Grandma and happy memories of our trips to the fair.

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There were over twenty entries and the standard and variety was just fantastic. Below are just a few of my favourites (zoom in on those incredible tiny knots!). The winning creations and all the wonderful entries can be found on the branch blog and are well worth a look

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