Lovely Lola’s Bouquet

IMG_3639I wrote sometime ago about the bespoke wedding bouquet that I really enjoyed making for Caris. I also made one for her beautiful daughter Lola who has an equally flamboyant taste in clothes. She was persuaded out of the orange racoon option and ended up with an amazing flamingo dress with personalised turquoise baseball boots.

The bouquet was constructed in the same way at Caris’s around a polystyrene ball with a bit of wooden dowel and a long decking screw to hold it all together. I made simple crochet flowers from memory and added buttons in contrasting pink, turquoise, lime and yellow.

 

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Like the original bouquet, this is actually more of embroidery and sewing project than a crochet project, but I like the mix of different techniques and the varied textures.

12 year old Lola walked her mum down the aisle and read a passage from the Velveteen Rabbit at the ceremony. There was hardly a dry eye in the house. She has also inherited her mother’s photogenic gene and I think you will agree that they make a very handsome pair. Much love to both of you xx

 

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Rainbow Rattle Snake Amigurumi

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Meet my new friend the rattle snake. For those of you who may be easily confused this is snake that rattles, not an anatomically correct rattlesnake! He was a quick make for little Poppy’s first birthday and was inspired by the left over rainbow cotton yarn that I used for my #MandalasForMarinke contribution. When I first started writing this blog I imagined that I would only post very tasteful, scandi inspired creations in grown up colours. However, it would seem that I am often making funny little toys and really enjoying myself.

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My favourite thing about making amigurumi is that I can make it up as I go along. This was actually the thing that first appealed to me about crochet: the ability to make improvised three dimensional objects without a pattern. I rarely use patterns and, if I do, I tend to fiddle with them and change them as I go along. They are just guidelines, right? I also enjoy the process of seeing a character emerge as I construct a toy. This one is pretty simple and designed for being grasped in a little hand and waved around, and perhaps being vigorously chewed.
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I think he is a jolly, if simple, little chap and he has proved particularly useful for whacking sisters over the head, as my two year old discovered to her joy. I put a rattly bell in his head that has been in my sewing basket for at least 20 years and makes a nice but subtle jingle.

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I hope you enjoy your new home with Poppy!

Day of the Dead Skulls Shawl in ethically sourced Merino

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This shawl was another commission from the delectable Ms Caris Jackson. It was a very specific brief. A skulls shawl, in turquoise Merino to match the wedding bouquet and bridal petticoat. She wanted something to throw around her shoulders in the evening if it got a little chilly. Caris has a particular thing for the Mexican day of the dead and the skulls motif. Funnily enough, I had already downloaded this pattern from Ravelry with Caris in mind, so obviously it was fate!

Caris and her partner Steve are also passionate about animal rights but had asked for Merino, which doesn’t have a very good animal rights record. Australian merino, which dominates the yarn market, is often from sheep who are subject to to the brutal practice of ‘mulesing’ in which the tails of the sheep are cut off to prevent fly strike. I did quite a lot of research and found that Drops merino is from South American and South African free-range merino and is Oeko-Tex® certified, which ensures that the yarn has been produced to a high environmental standard without the use of harmful substances. I found it difficult to find out information about ethical sourcing of Merino but I think that this is pretty good whilst also being affordable. I love Drops yarn by the way. I think it is brilliant that they take the time to let you know where their products are sourced and how they are made, whilst also keeping prices really very affordable.

Caris with her wedding bouquet, photo by Emma Playstead

So, the skull shawl pattern is available free from Ravelry by Kungen Och Majkis. It is from a blog post originally in Swedish with some English translation. There is also a pdf chart you can download but this has Japanese annotations! All in was a tricky little b3^%$d of a pattern to get my head around! It is a 16 row pattern and all of them are different!! I didn’t enjoy it very much, if I am honest, because I had to frog it so many times. However,  I was very pleased with myself when I finished it, and though I probably wouldn’t choose to wear skulls myself, it is so Caris and I knew she would love it.

2015-05-21 15.01.56IMG_3430She didn’t actually wear it at the wedding, we were far too busy dancing and enjoying the ever flowing prosecco to worry about chilly shoulders. Never mind, she has worn it since and tells me that she will definitely wear it many times into the future.

I have discovered that I really do love giving gifts and sharing my work with my friends. It gives me great pleasure to see people wearing and enjoying the things that I have made. Hopefully they like it too, well they are at least very polite about it xx

#MandalasForMarinke: Crochet Project in Memory of Wink from A Creative Being

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I didn’t know Wink personally but I have come across her during my blog wanderings and was touched to read her story on the lovely blog by Kathryn of Crochet Concupiscence. Kathryn has started this #MandalasForMarinke project as a tribute to Wink’s life and as a way of raising awareness of the debilitating illness that is depression. Wink used crochet as a way of managing her depression but tragically took her own life a few weeks ago, which is just so desperately sad. The aim of the project is to gather mandalas and stories from the crochet community across the world and bring them together in what I imagine will be a glorious explosion of colour and collective crochet love.

I made my mandala to one of Wink’s patterns. I chose her basic mandala pattern because, although she designed a range of much more intricate mandala patterns, this one sings out to me in its simplicity. There is something in the simplicity of crochet that really appeals to me and I love the fact that, with a couple of simple stitches under your belt, you can make so many things. I also wanted to make it colourful, which it is. I don’t make colourful things very often (when I do they are usually children’s toys) but I have to say that I really enjoyed putting these vibrant colours together. I also learned that it pays to think about the colour order in advance! My first attempt used the same colours but just in the order that I pulled them out of the bag, and I have to say that it looked fairly horrible. I am not even going to show you, it was that rubbish.I like this version because it looks like it has a warm, glowy sunburst at its centre. IMG_3716

There are many stories out there in blogland of people who find crochet a therapeutic activity and one that is vital to maintaining their mental health. I would put myself in this group and, having tried very many crafts from spoon carving to sewing to writing, crochet is the one that has stayed with me and calms my noisy thoughts. I have always known that I need to make stuff in order to stay sane and there is something about the hook and yarn that I find both relaxing and exciting because the possibilities actually are endless. I know that I will never be physically able to make all the crocheted items that are on my wish list and range from woolly taxidermy and spectacular yarn bombs, to clothing and home furnishings. 

I haven’t had a serious bout of depression for some years now although I am always aware that it lingers somewhere behind me and from time to time it sneaks to the front. Suicide and the devastating effect it has on families is also something that is painfully real in my life, having lost my youngest cousin in this way seven years ago. And so, if making a pretty thing  out of yarn and sharing it with the world can raise even the tiniest bit of awareness of how important it is to recognise and treat depression properly, then I think it is well worth it.

So this mandala will now be making its way across the ocean to San Francisco to join its friends….Bon Voyage.

Goodbye Wink and thanks for your colourful and lasting contribution to the wonderful world of crochet x

Rock & Roll Crochet Wedding Bouquet

I think this deserves a Ta Dah!! I LOVED making this wedding bouquet for my dear friends Caris and Steve.

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Caris and the yurt, photo by Emma Playstead

This has been a special commission for me and it seems like an age ago that Caris and I first discussed her wedding bouquet. I am SO excited that I finally get to write about it and share pictures of a very special day. This was never going to be a conventional wedding: think Mexican Day of the Dead, tattoos, circus, red and turquoise vintage net frock, giant yurt and flamingos. It was a lot of fun.

Henry and I contributed in various ways including providing the giant yurt (this is what I do in my day job) as part of our family business Yurtmaker. I also made crochet bouquets for the bride and the bridesmaid, and a crochet shawl for the bride. I warn you all, there a number of wedding related posts coming up….

So, I started with the theme of red and turquoise, a pile of broken jewellery, buttons and bits.

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I made a number of crochet flowers from memory and made other bits up as I went along. Not all of these made the final cut as, at the last minute, we realised that I had had leaned more towards the teal and away from the turquoise. Nothing short of perfection would do for this one.

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The bouquet is constructed mainly from felt around a polstyrene ball and a bit of wooden dowel. I appliquéd the leaves with felt designs that are personal to the bride and groom including the date of wedding (which is another thing I got wrong the first time, must pay more attention). The bits of jewellery, beads and buttons are all things that are personal to Caris. I spent a lot of time pinning and repinning all the various bits in different positions to make sure that it was exactly right for her.

This is actually more of an embroidery/sewing project than a crochet project, but I think the crochet roses look really effective. It also really appeals to me that she will be able to keep the bouquet for ever. She did declare that she was throwing it nowhere!

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It was such a fun thing to make and it is great to see something I have made playing a small part in a big day.

Celestine Star with funny knobbly Noro

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Hello little sad, neglected blog! Life has been a bit busy of late but I have been crocheting away on a number of secret projects, all of which will be revealed in due course. I have started my post today with the handsome Mr Tom who lives in Tel Aviv and is the proud owner of the first celestine crochet star I ever made. I have made four of these now which are owned by various small children: Tom, Arlo, Iris and Greta. I put a rattle inside made from the plastic capsule inside a Kinder egg and some lentils.

The pattern is available as a free pdf download from Berroco.

I made my most recent one for my gorgeous new niece Greta. We have just spent the weekend together so I have had a lot of blissful newborn cuddles. I have made the previous ones from self patterning merino which made for a lovely result. For this one I thought that I had found the perfect project for the Noro yarn that I bought some months ago and has proved a tricky customer with other projects. Firstly, it does this….twisty, twisty.

2015-04-12 13.24.09It is also really slubby and varies widely in thickness so the results are fairly knobbly and uneven. The colours are lovely though, so I persisted with the knobblyness. The star is made from 12 points that are joined as you go, it looks complicated but it really isn’t.

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urrrm, already looking quite knobbly

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The finished article is a rather strangely shaped sea creature but the colours work well and I don’t think that Greta minds a few uneven bits. I will probably go back to my trusty merino next time but maybe I have made enough of these stars now.

Bye for now, Mary x

Treating myself to a new scarf

As I was rushing to a meeting in Cirencester last week I passed a really lovely looking wool shop in the aptly named Woolmarket shopping arcade. I managed to resist the temptation until after the meeting but I was just forced into a quick visit. It was Three Sheep Wools and if you happen to be passing it is well worth a look.

The woman in the shop was so helpful and excited about what I was planning to make that I was even more compelled to buy something and as a chilly wind was blowing a spring shawl/scarf was on my mind.

A warm welcome at Three Sheep Wools

I bought this stunning peacock blue silk merino blend produced by a women’s cooperative in Uruguay. The label even has the name of the woman that made it and where she lives but unfortunately I can’t read the handwriting. I am very committed to ethical sourcing, fair-trade and initiatives that promote and support women in enterprise, so this ticks a lot of boxes for me. It is also gorgeous and absolutely my colour. Have a look at the Manos Del Uruguay website to see how the yarns are produced, I think it is really interesting to know where my yarn is from.

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Merino Silk blend from a women’s cooperative in Uruguay which aims to bring economic and social opportunities to rural women.

Anyway, provenance aside, this is what I made:

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It is the South Bay Shawlette which is a free pattern on Ravelry. I have made these before and I like the pattern which looks quite intricate but is actually very easy. I did a simple border because I am a simple girl and I added a small bit of embellishment in the form of two circles on each corner.

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Hope you like it. I do.