Monkeys, threads and crochet flowers

‘Sit there nicely for a sec’, I said. ‘You know, as a size comparison! So people can see the difference between thin crochet cotton I’ve used before and this nice new Rowan Sienna cotton’.

At any point, did I say ‘Stick the flower I just made so lovingly, on yer head! Make like it’s a hat!’ No. I did not.

It’s not a monkey hat, it’s a brooch-without-a-back. I’m actually going to use to make a gift look pretty. (The shop was out of brooch backs. Tsk!).

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m still kind of new to yarns and the different shapes and sizes you get. This Rowan cotton is really nice to crochet with – there’s something about it that feels really smooth and rounded – and the colours are lovely. I’ve been wanting to make one of these flowers from Attic 24 for ages, but the yarn I had already was a bit wooly. This is perfect. I managed to find the one spare button in the house that isn’t black, too, and it does the job nicely. I’m almost finished making a monkey out of the same stuff – but actually, as often happens with projects before they’re finished, I’m not 100% sure about him. We shall see.

Co-incidentally, after all my searching for garlands and bunting, Lucy at Attic 24 made a great garland out of these flowers. I might try something similar, as they’re so nice to make. I’ve got no idea what I’ll do with it when it’s done, but I have a feeling there’s a monkey who could find a use for it.

Nice links

(Also known as ‘Look what I found while I was procrastinating).

A Christmas wreath, made of crocheted balls!
It must’ve taken forever, but is really lovely.

And from the same blog – these lovely chunky doilies. These are great – even I, with my love of making doilies but my ‘not quite sure what I’ll do with them after’ issues could probably find something to do with these.

I think everyone’s seen these by now – but if not, look at these cute gingerbread houses! They sit on the side of your mug.

That’s all for now, as I’ve forgotten the rest and I have so much to do…

Things I meant to make: bunting

I really meant to make some bunting to give as a gift for Christmas. As it happened I was pipped to the post (in the nick of time) as someone else let on that they’d made some for the exact same person I was going to make some for. So I stopped before I’d even started. I’d still like to make some though – maybe just for me, we shall see.

I was thinking of crocheting it, mainly as that’s the thing I find the easiest, but there’s a stack of different types of garlands, flags and bunting out there. These are a few of my favourite pictures from Flickr:

Fabric Flags:
Classic and colourful fabric flags, by Crafty Intentions

And a pretty scalloped garland, by sweetjessie

Cute crochet ‘granny triangles’ by Loving The Vintage

Crocheted stars, also by Loving The Vintage

More of a mini banner, than bunting, but I love the colours in this photo, by jek in the box, and the size of disks…

…and I love these playing card garlands by Emma Lamb (that link has a great little tutorial if you like these too):


(And if you like these but don’t want to make them, Wren Handmade often sell them too from lovely recycled papers.)

Oh, and there’s also a nice pattern here for crocheted hearts, which I’ve been thinking of making too. All I really need is to become fantastically rich and give up work, to give me the time to get started!

Things to learn in the new year

I’m still working out what it is I like doing best, or what I’m actually best at (which might end up being two different things).

So far I’ve done

• a bit of counted threadwork: a tapestry cushion, which turned out really nicely actually, although being sewing machine phobic, my mother did have to help me turn it into a cushion, and ‘tsk tsk’ed at the messy back. (You wouldn’t believe I’m a grown up, would you…) The only problem with needlework like this is that I feel I should design it too – and that holds me up – and before you know it, I’ve procrastinated the year away.

• amigurumi crochet: which I’ve really enjoyed, although I seem to be a lot better at my own patterns than other peoples, hence all the monkeys!

• lace crochet: which I’ve only done a bit of, but enjoyed so far

• tatting: which I’ve done a fair bit of this year and also enjoyed.

After textiledreamer‘s comment pointing me in the direction of her fantastic needlepoint lace tutorial, I think I’d like to try that… And I’d also like to figure out felting. I’ve seen a lot of felted stuff about, and while I find felted bags a bit of a weird texture (for me), I *love* these bears, by Em, on Etsy:

Felted bear

This is actually a brooch, so he’s really tiny – could he be any cuter? I’m not sure how the bear was made before it was felted, but as I say, I’d like to take a look at felting in the new year too.
Maybe at some point I should also conquer my sewing machine fear. I’ve seen classes for beginners around… so you never know.

Needle lace… What’s that?

To continue my slightly odd obsession with lace making for another post, recently I looked up lace making courses in my area. I’m not sure why, as I’ve mentioned previously, lace making with bobbins isn’t something I think I have the time (or space) to do. Really I think I was just wondering what kind of things were available locally. I’m often quite mean about the town I live in – and to be honest, it’s no where near as bad as all that. We have wide open green spaces, and that’s one of the things I like about it most.

snowy spaces

Anyway. To my surprise I found a lace making course near me. You could learn three types of lace, needle lace, bobbin lace and knitted lace. I can’t knit and it’s not something I’m looking to learn at the moment – but I was curious about needle lace. What is it? Is it tatted lace, but with a needle?

On further investigation, (also known as asking my mother) I found a book on needle lace. It looked like a 1970s horror. A cross between embroidery, and… I’m not even sure what else, odd miniature weaving or something. Which confirmed it. It wasn’t something I wanted to do.

But I’m very nosey at times, and further investigation online lead me to this page: Antique needlepoint lace, from the collection of Marla Mallett.

That’s more what I was expecting! That’s not a 1970s nightmare, it’s intricate and beautiful. There’s also a lot of different types of needle lace it seems.

Incase you’re interested, this is my favourite.

Reticello Needle Lace Border

It’s called Reticello. (Or Reticella – is one plural? My Italian is non existent). It is, I think, a cross between cut and drawn threadwork. Initial investigations haven’t got me very far (but then I’ve not had a huge amount of time to look).

The odd thing is, I came across a blog the other day, quite by accident where someone is teaching herself. It looks great! Mica, I am most impressed. I’ve put further investigations on hold at the moment as I’ve got a lot of other stuff I should be doing, but I’ll see what else I can find out in the new year.

UPDATE: Incase anyone doesn’t read the comments, there’s a needlelace tutorial here!

Christmas tatting

After making lots of odds and ends of tatting this year, while I practised things like split rings and mock rings, xmas has given me the excuse to finally make a few things from start to finish. Tatting is easy to slip in an envelope with a card, and snowflake patterns exist in abundance. They can be used as ornaments for the tree, or to hang up with the xmas cards (or something… I hope).

Anyway. I did have plans to make a few different styles, but sadly work has been too busy to remember to print out any other patterns. At the end of each day I keep realising I’ve worked though lunch and completely forgotten. On the plus side, as I tatt on the train, making the same pattern each time means you remember it easily and don’t need to keep digging in your bag for what to do next. I’ve been making this pattern, ‘Quantiesque‘ by Jon, a prolific tatter based in Malaysia.

The first one I made was in dark red. I got the threads from the Stiching/Knitting show at Alexandra Palace (London), but they only had a limited range of colours. Originally I’d planned to make the inner rings in dark red and the outer in lighter red, but the more I tatted, the more I decided that would actually look crap with the colours I had available. This is the dark red one unblocked:

unblocked tatted snowflake

and this is it’s companion, the light red one, blocked:

Red tatted snowflake

After this, I ended up with too much thread left on my shuttle – which tatters will appreciate is *really* annoying,  so I tried to pay attention to how much thread I was using a bit more closely. Too closely in fact. I wound on too little and so made a 5 point version of the snowflake instead 🙂

The colour of this is really odd. If you get it in exactly the right light, it’s really pretty. A lovely, icey, delicate blue. If you look at it in the wrong light it looks like it’s meant to be white and has got really dirty. Aside from that, the lighter colour makes the centre stand out more, making it look more 3d. I’m now in the middle of making one in an ecru thread, which is looking like it should be nice. The thread for all of these is a DMC perlé, size 12.

While at the same show I also picked up a DMC size 80. I like the thickness (or thinness), but it does have a habit of twisting back on itself:

This is a first go at a Mary Konior pattern, and the smaller rings were often tricky to close, as the thread kept twisting. Got there in the end – it’s not the neatest tatting, (and it’s not been blocked), but it’s ok. I’ll remake it another time, when my commuting time isn’t full of snowflakes.