}); May 2017 - A Little Bit Of Lou

Month: May 2017

James C Brett Yarn – Where My Addiction Began.

Its Time For Another Confession…….

I have a very serious addiction to James C Brett Yarn.

Some of the creations featured in this post are available to buy in my shop.  Take a look.

Try as I might I just can’t resist it’s super squishy multicoloured loveliness .
James C Brett Yarn
James C Brett Marble Chunky Yarn.

 

When I first learnt to crochet I used super chunky yarn and a nice big hook so that the stitches were easy to see and the item I was making (scarves and blankets) were quick to make.  I followed step by step tutorials on YouTube which meant I was whizzing through simple blankets in no time.  I pottered along happily in my little world of video tutorials and a couple of ” how to”  books.

One sunny day, whilst sat at athletics with my friend and fellow track and field Mum Tracey, she turned to me, phone in hand and said “Have you tried Pinterest?”……… Mind blown!! So many crafts, patterns and possibilities.

This life changing discovery lead me on to stumble upon Revelry.  (Here’s a link to my Ravelry profile. I don’t update it very often but if you’d like to come and find me here I am.)  It was here that I found the pattern for my first ever shawl. The Simple Crochet Shawl by Teresa Chorzepa (her designs are brilliant and her patterns, really easy to follow.  I must add them to my long list of future projects).  I downloaded it to my phone and off I went in search of yarn.

For some strange reason I found myself in The Range (probably because I needed pet food).  Anyway I wound my way to the back of the store (which is where the wool has now been relegated now that they’ve expanded into selling everything and anything that you can possibly think of, including the kitchen sink 😉 ).

There, sitting in the corner, all nestled in amongst the other yarns sat the Jame C Brett Marble Chunky range.

What can I say?  It was love at first sight.

Super soft squishy, 200g of (just the right amount of) chunky, machine washable yarn in the most amazing range of variegated colours, for just £5 a ball!!

This was the start of a beautiful friendship.

Instantly drawn to the autumnal colours of their rather poorly named Orange/brown/green MC7 I grabbed a couple of balls and made for home.

Snuggled up on the sofa with a cup of tea and a cat I hooked my first ever shawl.  Which, rather aptly went on to be one of the first things I sold in my Etsy store.

Autumn crochet shawl

Here’s my finished shawl and here’s the cat! This is Oscar.  Isn’t he pretty? 🙂

Since then I’ve not looked back.  I’ve gone on to make countless items for friends and family and for my store.

Three years after my initial discovery James C Brett marble chunky is still my “go to” yarn. Be it a baby blanket, scarf, shawl, pom pom or twiddle muff a ball of James Brett yarn is never far away.  I now have so many balls of marble chunky in my yarn stash that they have their very own hiding spot and they’re starting to burst out of that!! 

Here are just a few of my James Brett creations.

If you have any questions about the items in the gallery just pop a comment down below and I will do my best to remember pattern details, yarn colours, hook sizes etc.

If you fall in love with any of the items, some of them can still be found for sale in my Etsy store. Follow this link and have a look.

I apologise for the quality of some of the photos.  They were snapped long before I’d considered sharing my crafty creations.  Now that I see them blown up no my Mac they’re more than a little fuzzy (or is that my ageing eyes).

As with all of my blog posts, all images and content are my own personal property. Please ask if you would like to feature them anywhere.

Any products links are affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase using them I get a small commission to help me to fund my crochet addiction. If you’d like to use my links, that would be great, I’d really appreciate it but if you don’t want to use them, thats fine, just google the product and enjoy my articles anyway.

Cheers for now

Lou 

Mandala Magic – How To Make A Crochet Dream Catcher.

A week or so ago a friend of mine sent me a link to some gorgeous mandala crochet dream catchers and suggested that I give them a go.  I decided to rise to the challenge with the final goal of creating my own pattern for my very own crochet mandala wall hanging.

I started off by taking to pinterest and doing a search for free mandala patterns.

To my great surprise the very first link that I discovered belonged to a fabulously bright and cheery blogger that I have followed on Instagram for several years, the lovely Miki at @sfmgs (which stands for Set Free My Gypsy Sole)!  If you don’t already follow her, go and check her out, her posts are so bright and cheery and her colour combinations are a real feast for the eyes.  Miki has a whole section on her blog full for lovely mandala patterns. Here is the link if you’d like to check them out.

The pattern that I used to create my first mandala (the one that is pictured below) is Miki’s Bright Colourful Rainbow Mae Mandala.

Embroidery hoop mandala

I finished it off 2 rounds before the end so that it would fit in my hoop.  As you can see, it fitted perfectly inside my 9 inch embroidery hoop.

I was so pleased with the result that I whizzed up the road to hobby craft in search of more embroidery hoops, only to be told that I’d purchased their last one the day before!  Undeterred I fired up my Amazon app, ordered a set of four embroidery hoops (with Amazon Prime next day delivery, of course 😉 ) and started thinking about my own pattern.

I decided that I wanted my design to be more open and “dream catcher” like than my first mandala wall hanging, I also thought it would be quite nice to include a flower in the centre.  This in itself presented a bit of a problem in that I wanted the flower to stand out in a 3D design, so I apologise now for the “front loop, back loop stuff” but I think it works well.

So here it is.  This is my first attempt at a pattern it’s quite tricky and I’m new to pattern writing so please bear with me and feel free to point out any mistakes in the comments below.   I’ve filled it with lots of photos to guide you through.  I’ll see you on the other side. 😀

 

 

Boho flower dream catching mandala.

You Will Need:

4mm crochet hook,

8 or 9 inch Embroidery hoop,

Scissors,

Wool needle.

For the mandala pictured to the left I used stylecraft classique yarn  in the colours; (working from the inside out) sunflower, hot pink, white, sky blue and shrimp.

Abbreviations.

Ch – Chain Stitch

Ss – Slip stitch

Dc – Double Crochet, US Single Crochet

Tr- Treble Crochet, US Double Crochet

Dtr – Double treble crochet, US Treble Crochet

DtrCl – Double treble crochet cluster (in this case the cluster includes 5 double treble stitches). US Treble cluster.

Sk – Skip/miss

St – Stitch

Ch Sp – Chain space

F.O – Fasten off

Foundation Ring.

Ch 4, ss into the first ch st to join loop.

Round 1.

Ch 2 (counts as Tr), Tr 10 into loop, ss into the top of the ch 2 to complete the round. F.O

Pics 1, 2 and 3

Round 2.

Join yarn in the front loop of one of the trebles from the previous round. Ch 1,in the front loop of the next stitch htr, tr, dtr, tr, htr, ch1. *Sk the next stitch htr, tr, dtr, tr, htr, ch1* repeat 5 times. Secure with a ss into the first front loop. F.O.

Pics 4, 5 and 6.

Round 3.

Join new yarn in the back loop of a round 1 tr that was skipped in the previous round. Ch 6 (counts as dc ch5), working in the back loops, *sk one st, dc in the next st ch5 * repeat from * to * 5 times. Finish round with a ss into the second ch of the starting ch.

Pics 7, 8 and 9

Round 4.

*Ss into the first 2 ch stitches, 2 dc into the ch sp, ch6* repeat form * to * 5 times. join the round with a ss into the first dc.

Pic 10

Round 5.

Ss into the dc, ss into the first 2 ch stitches, *3 dc into ch sp, ch 7* repeat from * to * 5 times. join with ss into the first dc. F.O.

Pic 10

Round 6.

Join new yarn in a ch sp. Ch 1 ( counts as dc ) htr, 2 tr, 3 dtr, 2tr, htr, dc in the same ch sp. dc in the next 3 dc’s. * dc, htr, 2 tr, 3 dtr, 2 tr, htr, dc in the next ch sp* repeat 5 times. join with a ss into the starting ch. F.O.

Pic 11

Round 7.

Join new yarn in the middle dc of the previous round. Ch 3 ( counts as dtr ) work a 5 dtrCl using the ch 3 as your 5th dtr. Ch 7, dc in the second dtr form the previous round, ch 7, *DtrCl in the second dc of the previous round, ch 7, dc in the second dc, ch 7* repeat from * to * 5 times. Join round with a ss into the top of the first DtrCl. F.O.

Pics 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16.

Round 8

Join yarn in the top of a DtrCl , ch1 (counts as dc), 2 hrt, 2 tr, 3 dtr, 2 tr, 2 hrt in the ch sp. dc in the dc from the previous round. *2 htr, 2 tr, 3 dtr, 2 tr, 2 htr in the ch sp. Dc in DtrCl. 2 htr, 2 tr, 3 dtr, 2 tr, 2 htr. Dc in next stitch* Repeat 5 times, ss into ch to finish round. F.O and weave in ends. 

Pic 17

Thats the mandala done, now all you need to do is wrap your hoop and attach your finished mandala.

 
Wrapping hoop for dream catcher
Wrapping dream catcher hoop
Attaching mandala to embroidery hoop
Making a dream catcher keep your knots hidden

Remove the inner ring from your embroidery hoop.  For the example above I used a 9 inch embroidery hoop.  This gives my final mandala a dream catcher effect with the blue yarn creating the webbing of a dream catcher.  The completed mandala fits perfectly inside a 8 inch hoop if you are looking for a more solid look.

Once you’ve removed your ring, pick a colour (and its hammer time 😀 ……. get it?? It’s time to get rapping 😀 ).

I’ve used the hot pink here but any combination will work.

 Securing the end of your yarn with one hand wrap it around your ring making sure that it doesn’t overlap and that you don’t have any gaps. Work you way around your ring until the whole hoop is covered.  Knot the end of your yarn together on the outside of your ring. The knot will be hidden when you replace the outer embroidery hoop. 

We’ve reached the final stage. Now its time to attach your mandala to your embroidery hoop.

Cut yourself a length of yarn about 60cm should do.  Using a crochet hook, pull your yarn through the middle dtr stitch on your mandala. Pass your yarn over the back of your hoop then pull it through the middle dtr on the next petal.  Continue wrapping your yarn through your mandala until you are back at the beginning.  

Holding your yarn ends in one hand spread the petals of your mandala out until you are happy that they are evenly spaced.  Knot the ends together keeping the knot on the outside of your embroidery ring.

Place your dream catcher mandala in to the outside ring or your embroidery hoop, ensuring that the knots and their ends are covered.  Tighten the screw on your embroider hoop and you’re done.  😀 😀

Mandala dream catchers
Three finished fabulous mandala wall hangings.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading and using my mandala pattern.  As with all of the contents on my blog, all images and patterns are my own personal property.  Please, by all means use my patterns to make your own fabulous creations and share share share this blog with your friends but please DO NOT recreate of duplicate this pattern, my photos or this blog post without my permission.  

Any product links are affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase using them I get a small commission to help me to fund my crochet addiction. If you’d like to use my links, that would be great, I’d really appreciate it but if you don’t want to use them, thats fine, just google the product and enjoy my articles anyway.

Amigurumi – The Bunny With No face.

Confessions of a crochet addict.

This is bunny, he has no face and no proper name, poor thing.  I made him a couple of years ago. Of all my WIPS (works in progress) he is the one that I’m the most assumed to admit to. I just can’t commit to giving him a face!  He has sat, without a face for so long now that I think he’ll look weird no matter what I do to him.

I love the idea of amigurumi (which is a posh, hard to pronounce, word for crochet stuffed toys) but am yet to spend enough time doing it to fall in love with the process.  I have saved countless patterns and blog posts on Pinterest knowing damned well that I’ll never get around to doing them but they look soooo cute, I just can’t resist.

I am a proud owner of the most amazing book Edward’s Menagerie which is a real “must have” If you’d like to make your own toys.  It takes you through a step by step process using a set pattern for bodies, arms and legs then adding little tweaks to the heads and ears to help you to create your very own menagerie.  I followed it step by step to create the lovely bunny above but, for some strange reason, when it came time to give him a face and personality of his very own I failed miserably, got distracted by lovely new yarn and moved on leaving my poor little bunny sitting on the side just waiting to be loved.

So, here he sits, waiting for a face, poor Mr Rabbit.

The cat seems to quite like him though.

Mr Bunny isn’t my first step into the world of amigurumi, I have successfully completed a couple of dinosaurs.  Here’s the first one I ever made.  I love him.  His name is Lemon Squishy (don’t ask).

Making amigurumi toys is so rewarding.  The final result is always super cute., a real labour of love.  If you haven’t tried it before, give it a go.  It’s easier than you would thing, using just one stitch type, the double crochet (US single) which is the simplest of all the stitches and working in the round.  The possibilities are endless.  I stumbled across this pattern site the other day. Check out all of the awesome things you can create with a little imagination and a crochet hook!!  

 

As with all of my blog posts, all images and content are my own personal property. Please ask if you would like to feature them anywhere.

Any products links are affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase using them I get a small commission to help me to fund my crochet addiction. If you’d like to use my links, that would be great, I’d really appreciate it but if you don’t want to use them, thats fine, just google the product and enjoy my articles anyway.

Twiddles Galore – Ideas for twiddle muffs.

 I can’t believe how well my twiddle muff post  has been received.  I’m so pleased that It is helping so many people to create twiddle muffs of their own for friends and family or to donate to local hospitals and nursing homes.   Thank you all so much for your comments, pins, likes and shares, both on here and on my various social media platforms.  It really means a lot to me, so thank you. 🙂

Since my last post I have been super busy working on custom twiddle muffs and adding to my sensory range.  I have ventured into the world of fidget blankets and twiddle cushions.  I have also created my vey own twiddle cuffs, which are mini twiddle muffs that can be worn on the wrist for people who are more mobile.

   IMG_3105

IMG_20170117_132011_160

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  Large or small, the one thing all twiddle/fidget items have in common is their twiddles.  As more custom orders have rolled in through my Etsy store I have needed to become more creative with my twiddles.  I thought I’d share some of them with you today.

Cloth and Pocket

I am very active on Instagram. I love to share what I have been up to and get instant feedback form my followers.  I was scratching my head one day as to what to do next when one of my lovely followers pointed out that her Mum likes to fold things.  She told me how her Mum and her friends will sit at a table in their care home and fold cloths with the staff.  This got me thinking.  How could I incorporate a cloth into my next design.  As I mentioned in my previous post.  I am no seamstress but every year when “Sewing Bee” come on the telly I manage to convince myself that I’m some kind of haberdashery goddess.  I have numerous fat quarters (that I simply had to have because they’re so pretty) stashed around the house so I whipped the sewing machine out and set to cutting and hemming a large square.

If i can get away with crocheting instead of sewing then (as a fully signed up member of crochet addicts anonymous 😉 ), thats what I’m going to do.  I quickly whipped up rectangle of double crochet (US single) material and attached it with a slip stitch to my pice of work (in this case, the cushion pictured above).  All that I needed to do then was find a way to attach the cloth to my cushion so that it wouldn’t get lost.  Once again, I reached for my trusty crochet hook, this time using a nice large hook and 3 different colours of yarn at the same time I formed a slip knot and fed it under one of the stitches in my cushion pocket and back up the other side.  I then inserted my hook and made a chain that was long enough to be able to comfortably fold the cloth without the cushion getting in the way.  I knotted the end of my chain and sewed my cloth to the knot.  I was so pleased with how it turned out that I have used little pockets and cloths again and again.

Tassels, Ribbons, Plats and Knots.

I love to make my twiddle muffs look pretty and inviting but I always have to keep in mind that their main function is to have inviting, functional, long lasting twiddles.  Tassels, ribbons, plats and knots can be both pretty and functional.

I get away without sewing by threading my yarns through the stitches of my base cloth (you can find my cloth pattern here).  I then knot them at the top and either plat them or leave them as a tassel.

I weave ribbons through my stitches too, either leaving the long with knots at the ends to add texture, weaving them in and out to make pull-able loops or feeding a button on to the ribbon that can be moved along it. In the pictures above you can see various uses of ribbons, yarn and string in order to create interesting twiddles.

Beads and Buttons are Brilliant!

What more can I say??  Beads and buttons are brilliant!!  I love using them, they come in such a wide variety of shapes, textures and colours.  They’re so bright and cheerful I can’t resist touching them so, on they go.  Either clumped together, threaded on ribbons or string, you’ll always find buttons and beads on my work.  I could spend hours sat on the floor puzzling out what to do next and (unfortunately for my other half) my bead addiction is developing very nicely along side my addiction to buying yarn (i’m going to sell it love…honest).

  As I mentioned earlier in my post I’ve been super busy making custom Twiddle Muffs.  I thought I’d share a few photos with you.  I always chat with my clients about their loved ones lives and loves.  Everything is made with them in mind I love being part of something so very personal.  

I hope you like the pictures and that they give you a few ideas for your own creations.

 If you would like to order one of my custom made twiddle muffs here is the link Custom Made Twiddle Muff.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  Please give me a like and share and if you have any questions or anything in particular that you’d like me to cover please pop a comment in the box below. 

 All pictures designs and patterns are my personal property. Please ask permission if you would like to feature them.

Many Thanks

Lou

My Twiddle Muff Journey – How To Make A Twiddle Muff.

A few months ago my wonderful sister in law asked us if we’d do her a favour.  She works as a for a Cornish care charity and was adding another string to her bow.

 She had become a dementia champion, she had volunteered to deliver  an information session for The Alzheimer’s Society and needed some practice before she stepped out into the big wide world delivering her information to the greater public.

Of course we said yes, so here is where my journey began.

Emma (my sister in law) popped round one evening and spoke to us about dementia, she helped us to better understand what a person with dementia is going through and how we can better support them within our community.  

People are so quick to judge, poke fun at and even film complete strangers in the street, making a snap decision that they are just weird and that putting a photo or video of them on social media is the way to deal with their unusual behaviour.  They don’t stop for one second to consider that the person they are laughing at might need help instead of ridicule.  

It makes me sad to think that this has become an acceptable way to behave.

Dementia-froends-logo-_200_1_

How To Become A Dementia Friend

The Dementia friends course that Em delivered is designed to give people an understanding of dementia and the small things that could make a difference to people living in their community.

Emma explained a little bit about what it’s like to live with dementia, we then agreed to turn our new found understanding into action by agreeing to become dementia friends and help raise awareness within our community.

At the end of the course we all made a pledge to do just one little thing to help raise awareness.  

We have little Dementia Friend pins to show our commitment to being more understanding and proactive.  

Anyone of any age can become a Dementia Friend, our youngest son does his bit by wearing his pin to school every day along side his school council badge, he has used his new knowledge to discuss dementia with his friends and school teachers.  

I decided that I would use my new found knowledge of dementia, the unrest and anxiety that it can cause to help me design twiddle muffs and blankets to keep restless hands warm and entertained.

I put my thinking cap on, grabbed my crochet hook and dived in to my yarn stash.  

This is what I came up with.

Garden Twiddle Muff

 

My first attempt was made with a garden loving lady in mind.  

I created grass and flowers and added raffia and string that could have been used to tie back saplings when pottering about in the garden on a warm spring afternoon.  I then added plats, a ruff and a button with its own loop to help keep restless hands busy.  

I finished my twiddle muff of with a fleece lining for extra comfort ad to cover up the ends and knots from where I attached the various twiddles.

Each prototype I make is donated to Cornwall Care who pass them on to their residents.  

I have photographed each muff and popped the pictures up in my Etsy store as a guide to anyone who would like to place an order for their loved ones.

Here is the basic twiddle muff pattern.

The main body of the twiddle muff is made using a James C Brett, marble chunky yarn and a UK 5mm US H hook.

I found that by using a UK double crochet the material produced was strong and durable and the gaps between stitches were perfect for treading ribbon and yarn through.

To make the main body all you need to do is;

Chain 52

Row 1

Double (US single) crochet into the second chain from your hook then double crochet along the rest of your chain to the end.

Row 2

Turn your work and chain 2, miss the first stitch then double crochet to the end.

Repeat row 2 until you have completed 50 rows.

Fasten off leaving a long tail. This tail will be used to sew the two edges together to complete your muff.

Twiddlemuff base cloth and ribbons

 

 That’s the main body done, now its time for the fun bit

There is no right of wrong way to make a twiddle muff.

Making a twiddle muff is a the perfect excuse to let yourself go wild and dive into that stash of yarn that is safely hidden away from your other half so that they don’t know about your addiction 😉

Here are a few of the twiddles that I’ve whipped up over the last few months.

 

Grass

To make the grass in the photo above take 2 different shades of green acrylic double knit yard and cut several strands of approximately 15cm in length.

Using a 4mm/G hook to help pull the yarn through the gaps between the stitches so that it is half way through.

Secure each strand with a knot then turn your work over.

Using your hook, pull the strands of yarn back through the material, leaving the knots on the other side. Make sure you pull the yarn through different holes so that it spreads into a nice clump of grass.

Keep going until you are happy with the effect then give your grass a trim.

 

Ribbons, Bows, Buttons, Beads and String.

 I don’t know about you but my craft related hoarding is not limited to yarn alone.

 Every time I buy something with a lovely tag, piece of ribbon or spare buttons they get squirrelled away for a rainy day craft project that never quite seems to happen.

As a result of this I have a substantial collection of bits and bobs that are perfect for twiddle muffs and twiddle blankets.  

Once I have finished the main body of my twiddle muff I raid my stash and see what I can rustle up. As long as they are securely attached anything goes.

 I find that it helps to have a theme in order to stay on track.

I love talking to the family members of the alzheimer’s patient and hearing all about their loved ones life and loves.  I use this precious information to help me create a bespoke item that is just for them.

 

A Simple Flower

I use acrylic double knit yarn for the majority of my twiddles.  It is bright, cheery, hard wearing and machine washable, which makes it perfect for twiddle muffs.

For this flower you will need a 4mm/G hook and a couple of different colours of yarn.

Chain 4 and join the ends with a slip stitch.

Round 1 

Chain 2 , 9 double (US single) crochets into the loop joining with a slip stitch into the second of the ch2. 10 stitches.

Round 2

Chain 2, double crochet into the same stitch, 2 double crochets into each stitch, join with a slip stitch. 20 stitches. Change colours.

Round 3

(Chain 3, dtr 2 tog (US tr2tog) over the next 2 stitches, ch 3, slips stitch into the next stitch, slipstitch into the next stitch) repeat 5 times ending with 1 slip stitch into the first stitch.

Fasten off. leaving a long tail so that you have plenty of yarn to attach it to the main body of your twiddle muff with.

I also make twiddle cuffs.  They are designed with more active people in mind. Here is a link to my twiddle cuff tutorial. 

Here are a few pictures to give you some ideas of other twiddles.  

I tend to place all of my twiddles in the middle third on my base material so that they are all on the one side when the edges are sewn together but lots of people place pockets ribbons and other twiddles on the back even inside their twiddle muffs.

If you’d like to know how to make any of the twiddles in the pictures pop a comment at the bottom of the page and I’ll add it to my next blog post.
 

Once I am happy with the over all appearance of the twiddle muff I secure the twiddles firmly, keeping all knots on the back of my fabric.  I then line the with fleece.

 I am no seamstress.  Each year I sit down and watch The Great British Sewing Bee and manage to convince myself that somewhere buried deep inside me is an awesome seamstress who is dying to break out but alas, she is yet to make an appearance.

So with massive apologies to my more accomplished friends, here’s how I fleece line my twiddle muffs.  

Step 1

Lay the fleece out with the main twiddle muff material on top.

Step 2

Cut around the muff material leaving an additional 1.5cm on each edge. You should now have a piece of fleece that is 3cm longer and wider than your twiddle muff base.

Step 3

Fold over the 1.5cm allowance on the top and bottom edges and pin into place.

Step 4

Using a straight stitch on your sewing machine stitch along the top and bottom hems.

Step 5

Place your 2 pieces of material back to back, lining up the top and bottom edges and pin them into place.

Step 6

Being careful not to catch any of your twiddles in your machine, stitch along the top and bottom edges starting 0.5cm in from the edge and finishing 0.5 cm from the end.

Step 7

Sew the last two edges of the fleece together

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Step 8

Using the long tail that you left when you made your base material sew the two sides together to complete your twiddle muff.

Work in any loose ends and you’re done. 🙂

The next time you’re stash busting give a twiddle muff a go they’re the perfect gifts for people with dementia.  If you don’t know a alzheimer’s patient yourself, make one anyway and donate it to your local hospital or nursing home and brighten someones day.

If you would like to become a dementia friend click the link below the Dementia friends badge and it will take you through to some more information.

All pictures designs and patterns are my personal property.  Please ask permission if you would like to feature them. 

Many Thanks

Lou