My youngest daughter had the most amazing teacher last year! She really seemed to get her and everything about being at school improved. So at the end of the year when it came time to buy her a gift, I didn’t want to just go out and buy her something. I wanted something special and meaningful to really thank her for the time and effort she put in to my girl during the year. But what to make. That is always the question. It’s hard to find something that someone will actually use and also to judge if they are someone who would appreciate a hand made gift or not. This teacher was going off on an adventure during the holidays to Finland, where I knew it would be cold and snowing! So I decided to make her a cowl. I looked for a pattern I liked and found this one by Little Monkeys Crochet (http://littlemonkeyscrochet.com/herringbone-buttoned-cowl/). I liked the tailored look of it and that it wasn’t too bulky. It also had a bit of a design element with the buttons.
So I started to make it. It was a great pattern in that she had finished measurements on it so it didn’t matter that my tension was a little different – I just kept crocheting until it reached the correct measurement. This way, I knew that the button placement would be correct (doing it up is a little complicated until you get used to it so I couldn’t really just eyeball where to put the buttons)
I was fortunate enough at the time to be face painting in a Christmas market. I had another lady working with me and during a break, I found a lady selling these beautiful printed wooden buttons at a crazy low price (more than just these slipped in to my cart!). I love the little pop of colour that they bring without being too showy and overpowering.
The overall finished product is beautiful. I used “Marvel soft” yarn, so it has a lovely drape and sheen to it. It will also be lovely and warm as there aren’t a lot of holes in it but it’s still thin, so won’t be too bulky up around the face.
The teacher loved it and was especially chuffed when she realised that I had made it for her. I hope it kept her warm during her special adventures!
It is hot here at the moment. Record breaking hot. You don’t even want to go to your letterbox hot! So, I thought I’d share my little Arctic penguin in the hopes cool thoughts cool me down!
At the last minute, we decided to invite one of my daughter’s friends to celebrate Christmas with our family. Her family don’t celebrate Christmas like us, and the girls were keen to spend the day together. So this also meant last minute gifting! She doesn’t have a lot of teddies and said that one thing she would like is another teddy. I googled a little and found this cute penguin kawaii by 3amgracedesigns (https://3amgracedesigns.com/penguin-kawaii-cuddler-free-crochet-pattern/). My daughter approved the gift and I started crocheting madly to get it finished in time for Christmas day. I have to admit, I quite like 3amgracedesigns – they have so many patterns for different kawaii cuddlers, from sharks to unicorns to food to rainbows – anything you can imagine! And they’re so cute!
I have previously made a fox kawaii cuddler (see the post here https://thingsnicolemade.wordpress.com/2017/07/30/foxy-ragdoll/). I like this method of construction of toys as there is only 2 dimensional shaping involved when crocheting, instead of creating a 3 dimensional product. The patterns are simple and easy to follow. They can be a little fiddly in that you have to make a number of parts (in the case of the penguin, the feet, cheeks and wings) but they sew together easily and quickly and are such an effective looking product once completed.
I did run a little short on time, so this penguin is missing the decorative stitching on his hat, but I think he still looks fine without it. However, he was wrapped and under the Christmas tree in time to be opened by his new owner! And the girls had a wonderful time celebrating together!
I’m excited to share with you the first of my Christmas presents! My sister is a fan of Belle from Beauty and the Beast (this made things easier as I was a Little Mermaid fan, so there was no fighting!). I came across these Princess Dress Blankets (https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/princess-dress-blanket-yellow) and I wanted to make one for her for Christmas. As the yarn used is #4 weight, which is virtually impossible to get here, it took awhile to gather my supplies, but, finally, with the help of one of my American friends, I was able to get a contrasting gold that actually looked nice with the lemon and I was ready to begin. It still took a little while before I could bring myself to start it – it seemed like a fairly big project, thus time-consuming and I just didn’t have the heart for it. It eventually got to the point that if I didn’t get it started, I wasn’t going to get it finished for Christmas, so it was begun. I started it numerous times, trying to get the sizing right and the colour placement. I decided that I wanted to switch the colours up a bit from the original pattern so it was a more accurate match to the film. Once I had all that figured out, the bodice worked up really quickly and I was encouraged that this project may not be as time-consuming as I had feared. Then, I started the bodice. Although the pattern repeats to a certain degree, it was not one that was a smooth repeat that got stuck in my head and I could power on with. It was a fairly slow and laborious design that required a lot of concentration (a lot of frogging was involved!). There is a mistake in there somewhere. I can see it and, although it bothers me, I didn’t have the heart to frog back to it and fix it. My sister is not a crocheter, so I know it isn’t going to bother her! I read once in a book that mistakes make a piece unique – slightly different from all the others that people have made. I’m going with that, and mine is unique! Anyway, I finally finished it (the weather was warming up and I was glad to have it finished so I could concentrate on smaller things that were cooler to work on!) and I’m quite happy with the end result. My sister was pleased with her present – she’s just going to have to wait awhile before she can use it (the weather here has been in the high 30 – 40 degrees Celsius for the last week and there’s not much relief in sight!). P.S. the lady in the photo is not my sister! She is a friend who was gracious enough to be a model for me!
Firstly, I think I need to let you know the results of my market entries. Sadly, I had zero success. I was trying to prepare myself for the fact that that could happen, but I think I was secretly hoping I’d sell at least one thing! Anyway, I’ve tried it and have a better idea of what to do next time. I was also told that not a lot of things sold – many people were looking but not buying, so it may have just been in the wrong market for the time. But, failure teaches us things and I’ll be better equipped in the future!
Earlier this year, I wrote about my experiments with reusable dishcloths. I’m still using them and still loving them. My only problem was that I still needed to buy non-scratch scourers for cleaning my pots and pans. I had been seeing “scrubby” yarn online for a while and this yarn seemed to be used to make just such a product, the only problem was it was very expensive – especially when you added in the shipping charge to Australia. However, Lincraft finally started stocking their version of this yarn. I bought some and made up a quick little flower dishcloth scrubby. I haven’t photographed it, but it is probably the size of my palm. It is not quite as effective as a store bought scourer, but it does do the job with just a little bit of elbow grease – and the benefit is that it is washable and reusable! So, when I’m scrubbing away and feeling a bit grumpy that I’m having to scrub so hard, I just remind myself of the environmental benefits of what I am using and my patience is restored!
I do also think that a bigger scrubby might be a little easier to handle. I knitted up a Santa belly one for Christmas and will have to give it a go to see if the larger size is easier to use and if the knitted weave is better or worse that the crocheted one.
A lot of what we do as crafters and just in life is experimentation – trying different methods until we find the one that works just right for our own needs. And when it involves crochet or knitting, I’m happy to experiment away as much as I can!!
I’m discovering that it is difficult to run a blog about my crochet exploits around this time of year! I’m busy working on teacher gifts and gifts for my family but none of them are completely finished and ready to be shared. Life is also ramping up in it’s busyness. I’m face painting more, leaving less free time in my week and there are even days when *gasp* I barely get to pick up my crochet hook at all (thankfully not too many of those – phew!). However, I am plodding away on things – and lots of these gifts I won’t be able to share with you until after Christmas has passed as those recipients read this blog!
Today though, I thought I might share with you my Scandanavian Santa Gnome (https://www.1dogwoof.com/scandinavian-santa-gnome-amigurumi/). He’s finished and I love him! He is the perfect size to sit in my wreath, but he is weighted down with poly pellets and the jury is still out as to whether he will be too heavy and put too much pressure on the delicate foam and crochet wreath.
Once again, ChiWei has written a fabulous pattern, that was easy to follow and made making all the little bits a pleasure – until I got to the beard. Oh my, how I hated that beard. I thought it wouldn’t take too long, but splitting all of those pieces of yarn took F O R E V E R! However, I am thrilled with the finished product and wouldn’t change a thing!
Christmas is fast approaching, and we are well on the way to being in the swing of things. We’ve started listening to Christmas music, and our plans are to put the Christmas decorations up next weekend, so we are looking forward to that (especially my girls – it’s gonna be fun!) and our Santa Gnome will finally find his place in our home for the yule season!
For those of you that don’t know me personally, you couldn’t yet know how much I love Christmas. It is my absolute favourite time of the year. I think it took even my husband by surprise – he’d seen my parent’s home decorated for Christmas, and my sister’s home but when we married and celebrated our first Christmas in our own home, I don’t think he was quite prepared for the onslaught of Christmas cheer! And having children has only made it worse. They are old enough now to love decorating and they egg me on to get more decorations each year (I’m proud to be passing this Christmas spirit down to the next generation!).
However, being a face painter means that this time of year is also my busiest time of year, and to survive it all, I have to be super organised and think ahead about everything. This year, I decided to make a wreath for our home. My plan was to put it on the front door, but it gets a lot of sun, and I’m worried that it will fade and render all my hard work useless, so it’s final display place is still up for debate.
I got the basic idea and instructions from this Attic 24 post http://attic24.typepad.com/weblog/2012/12/christmas-wreath-ta-dah.html, where she covers a foam wreath and decorates it with Christmas bits and bobs. I decided to go a little more traditional with my colours, and used the Kringle Sparkle yarn from Spotlight. I’ve doubled the strands because it is quite a thin yarn (I’ve had this in my cupboard for a year or more and have been told that this year’s batch is a little thicker!). I’m loving it so far. It is so beautiful and sparkly and Christmassy! My plan is to add a Scandanavian Santa Gnome (https://www.1dogwoof.com/scandinavian-santa-gnome-amigurumi/) and some holly etc. once the wreath is finished. It is getting hard working on just the one project – I’m so tempted to put it aside and start on another (or I should finish another wip!), but I’m determined to finish it THIS Christmas, so that is spurring me on (and putting it out here will also hold me accountable!).
I’m quite excited to see how it will turn out! It may have to feature in one of our Barbie escapades (we don’t do elf on a shelf – our Barbie dolls come alive during December!). Are you thinking ahead for Christmas? I’d love to see some of your Christmas projects (and get more ideas!). Please share them in the comments, or on my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thingsnicolemade/.
P.S. I wasn’t expecting to finish this so quickly, but was so excited I had to add it to my post before it went live! I’ve finished covering the wreath and I’m stoked about how it’s turned out!