Welcome to my 'other blog' the one that explores my crafty side. I have been a maker of 'things' since childhood. By nature I'm creative. I still love to write, and you can click on this link to visit my blog: Hanging On My Word, which is where I indulge in the thought and word side. Although a teacher by profession, I don't offer tutorials. This is my showcase of projects I like to share. So pull aside the curtains and let's begin (I'm a bit theatrical too!).

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Just Dandy!



Meet the new kid on the block. I’m honing my novice knitting skills by making these small projects from Let’s Get Crafting: Knitting and Crochet magazine. He’s designed by the talented Amanda Berry of Fluff and Fuzz.

In the magazine Amanda’s pattern is called Pipsqueak, but I’ve re-named mine Dandy. This partly because his yellow bow-tie makes him look so smart and ...dandy; but also his little red clown nose makes him look slightly comical. Dandy, the much-loved children’s comic, ceased publication after 75 years in 2012, so this is a kind of homage to that as well.

He took me a lot longer than any of the Bramble Bunny variations in my previous posts, and I’ve no idea why as the principle is pretty similar. I had some trouble with his mouse-ears and made several rather ragged looking ones until, eventually I gave in and got the crochet hook out - perfect.

Here he is with his new friends Wanda and Wendy. Yes I know, in real-life a mouse is so much tinier than a rabbit but we don’t talk about scale when it comes to making toys; after all, in real life rabbits and mice don’t wear clothes either!! These are designed to be cute and to make children want them as friends. Just Dandy!




Saturday, 28 June 2014

Baaarbara


Yes, my husband decided this one needed re-naming as well! Amanda Berry’s ‘Gruff the Sheep’ pattern in Let’s Get Crafting, Knitting and Crochet is so sweet that he thought Gruff sounded a bit harsh! I struggled with the loop stitch (I am a novice knitter after all) and the body section seemed far too large when I’d completed it. I laid it to one side and got one with other project for a while. When I resumed I just decided to work in the excess flesh as it were, as stuffing. The result is a small animal who sits in the palm of your hand.

There is nowhere for sheep to safely graze in Lanzarote so I looked for the nearest patch of green amongst the picon. It was only after I’d taken the photograph that I realised I had unwittingly placed Baaarbara in a bed of mint! As long as no-one mentions sauce it will be OK.

A safer haven

Monday, 16 June 2014

Flirty Fans




Finished at last! I saw this pattern in the very first Simply Crochet magazine, when it came out as a one-off Summer Special last year from the makers of Simply Knitting. It has taken me about a year to make as at one stage I got so fed-up with it I thrust it to the back of the cupboard until I could face it again. Checking on Ravelry it seems others have also had issues with the pattern. I found it quite difficult to follow. I have pulled back and re-done bits of it so many times that I really fell out of love with it. However, I was determined not to beaten, especially as I had lashed out on the (expensive) correct yarn.

Rowan Savannah is 94% cotton, 6% silk and not the smoothest yarn to work with due to the way that is made. I used a 4mm and 5mm crochet hook and my tension square made up OK so I wasn’t anticipating any problems - silly me. Once it was complete I decided the bow on the shoulder was too ‘fussy’ so I undid that too. The neckline didn’t lie smoothly and I ended up fudging it quite a bit. Other than that I still like the design and the colour (Arid - a sort of pinky brown).
The pattern is designed by Rowan’s Marie Wallin and also appears in a Rowan booklet as ‘Island’; the name Flirty Fans seems appropriate, although at times I substituted the word ‘flirty' for another!



Wednesday, 28 May 2014

The Last of the Lot



















Here’s the latest (and last) in the series about small stuffed bunnies, as promised in my last post. These two were made specifically for two small people - my twin grandchildren. They were finished off to resemble as closely as possible the original soft toys owned by their Dad and his sister; and you can read about those in the previous posts.


I had to wait until a trip to England to be able to hand them over in person. It was well worth it as they were very pleased with them. Here are the photos taken by my son shortly after our visit. Can you see how they’ve cheekily swapped over in the second shot? Yes, Grandma did notice!


As usual the pattern Amanda Berry’s from Let’s Get Crafting Knitting and Crochet, which is still producing a new outfit each month for the original model - Bramble Bunny.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Mini the Pink

In The Reincarnation of Pink Bunny I introduced the you to the soft toy I made for my grown-up daughter to replace the much loved original lost in a house fire. I said there would be another development in my next blogpost, but somehow Easter and the crocheted eggs jumped the queue.

Here at last, is Mini the Pink, or Tiny Pink Bunny, made as an Easter present for my daughter. Once again I used Amanda Berry's very popular Bramble Bunny pattern which I used to make Wanda and Wendy. This time, however, I had to ensure that Mini Pink Bunny looked as much like the original as possible, so no garments and some additions.

I’d ‘barely’ finished when my daughter surprised me with a birthday visit here in Lanzarote and spotted the creation sitting on the bookshelf, immediately recognising the similarity with Big Pink Bunny. She was delighted with her gift and I was happy that I didn’t have to send Mini through the post.



Mini PB was introduced to Wendy and Wanda, although they appeared a little over-dressed and Mini still needed ears and paws enhancing with brown felt at this stage.

Mini travelled comfortably in my daughter’s hand baggage and soon settled in back in England, getting to know Big Pink Bunny and eventually taking a full part in Easter celebrations, including the egg hunt.






I know I said that I wouldn’t be adding to the warren anymore but there is just one more chapter in the bunny story to come, and then I really must get on with all the all the other knitting, crochet and sewing projects that are lining up for my attention, especially knitting, now that I’ve learned this new craft. It’s quite addictive and this pattern was a great way to learn techniques. A reminder that the pattern can be downloaded for free from Let’s Get Crafting, Knitting and Crochet.  Subsequent issues of the magazine have included new clothes to add the wardrobe.

Since I first posted this story Mini appears to have been adopted by Mrs Bunny, who I also made for my daughter about 35 years ago, and has a ‘vacancy’ in her open arms.


Friday, 18 April 2014

They Don’t Grow on Trees!


Here is my Easter Tree decorated with crocheted eggs. I first saw the pattern in Simply Crochet Magazine issue three last year, but had trouble sourcing the styrofoam eggs here in Lanzarote. This year there were plenty to be had quite cheaply; a couple of euros for 4-6. The only problem was which size to get. In the original pattern, by talented Jane Crowfoot, it called for one “approx 8cm (3in) from centre top to centre bottom (from www.purplelindacrafts.co.uk)”.  If you order from that supplier the eggs are listed as either 4.5 cm for £0.26 or 8cm for £0.44. What you need are eggs that are about the same size as a hen’s egg, sold here in packs listed as 4.5.cm.





The yarn listed was Rico DK cotton; again not available here. I experimented with the larger egg size and some DK yarn scraps. It just didn’t look right, so the next step was to find some brightly coloured cotton yarns.


Here in Lanzarote we have a number of huge supermarket style shops which sell everything you never knew you needed, mostly  ‘Made in China'. You know the kind of thing, you go in looking for something specific, like a dustpan, and come out with a trolleyload of items you just know are going to come in handy.




These places stocked rows and rows of crochet threads, which I worked out needed to be No5, so I treated myself to a range of bright colours and one or two random dyes (the effect of which can be seen in the baby-pink and blue bottom left, and the russet and cream (right) of the first picture.



Of course I only needed a little for each egg, but the rest have gone into my stash for future projects.

Next year I’ll start hooking earlier and then I can have a bowlful on the dining table or in my  bunny eggcups.









Here’s the wonderful display that caught my eye in the magazine. If you go to Jane’s website you can buy the larger kits with all materials (except hook) for just £8.95.

We first became interested in the custom of decorated Easter trees when we lived in Germany in the 1980s with two small children. Some of the items on my other tree date from that time, and others have been added over the years.

In Germany whole trees are decorated with hundreds of hollow eggs, but often a branch is brought indoors to add to the decorations in the home. Not just eggs, but chicks, rabbits, indeed anything related to Spring. Below is this year’s arrangement.



For other Easter crafts related posts of mine click on Chirpy Chicks, and Easter Eggstra, or go to my other website and read about Easter Expectations.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The Reincarnation of Pink Bunny

This tale has a happy ending but there are some sad moments along the way. You need to know that when my daughter was small I made her a soft toy rabbit, which she grew to love and who even went with her when she left home. Whenever she moved house he went with her. He was made out of pink fur fabric because I’d been given a big heap of remnants and it made sense at the time to make hers in pink; when  her brother came along he had a blue one exactly the same. They were known simply as Pink Bunny and Blue Bunny and both were boys. Here they are enjoying a dolls’ tea party some thirty-three years ago.


I must have made a good job of putting them together because they were very robust and survived a lot of loving. Blue Bunny left home when my son did and now is the treasured companion of my six-year old grandson. You can read about the 'Makeover for Blue Bunny’ here, where you will see him rejuvenated. He is still going strong and still subject to some quite rough and tumble games.


But this post is about Pink Bunny and you may be wondering why he needed to be reincarnated if he was so well made. Well, here’s the sad bit - get the tissues ready.





Above is a photo of Pink Bunny in 2007 settling into his new bedroom. My daughter always made sure we knew what he was up to.  The following year my daughter suffered a devastating house fire in which she was lucky to escape with her life. Pink Bunny was sitting atop the wardrobe and when that went so did he. She lost an awful of of her possessions and the whole episode was very traumatic. I resolved to make a Pink Bunny Mark 2 as soon as I could track down the pattern.




A prolonged Internet search meant I was lucky enough to find the very book with the pattern in. I’d long ago given mine away but was able to have this very good second-hand copy shipped out to Lanzarote for a very small sum. I also sourced the pink fur fabric in the same way.

My daughter was delighted with Pink Bunny Mark Two, although he will never hold quite the same place in her heart as the original.                







Here Pink Bunny II poses with the original book from the 1970s Pamela Peake’s Creative Soft Toy Making, which is full of wonderful patterns for sot toys and rag dolls, although it is very much of the era.












And in the second picture with Susie Mark Two and that’s another story!


In my next blogpost there’s another exciting development; I bet you can hardly wait. Wendy and Wanda meet Minnie the Pink. Watch this space.