Crochet Life

Cozy Up with a Red Heart Heat Wave Giveaway

Moogly - Mon, 12/21/2020 - 16:00

Red Heart Heat Wave is a revolutionary yarn, activated by UV light to keep you 12 degrees warmer! Take another look at this yarn and enter to win 8 skeins of it in your choice of colors on Moogly! Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Yarnspirations and includes affiliate links; all opinions are my own....

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Categories: Crochet Life

Red Heart Alpine Pocket Scarf

Moogly - Fri, 12/18/2020 - 15:55

The Red Heart Alpine Pocket Scarf keeps your hands warm and looks great doing it! Easy to make and perfect for the colder months, it’s made with yarn that gets warmer when you are outdoors. Video tutorials are included! Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Yarnspirations, all opinions are my own.  A Personal Heat Wave...

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Categories: Crochet Life

Emergency Crochet Basket Tutorial

Moogly - Thu, 12/17/2020 - 16:02

The Emergency Crochet Basket Tutorial demonstrates how to crochet this free and fast container – in both right and left-handed videos! Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links; materials provided by Yarnspirations. Emergency Crochet BasketTutorial: How to Crochet the Emergency Crochet Basket – Right Handed How to Crochet the Emergency Crochet Basket – Left Handed As...

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Categories: Crochet Life

The Loop Scoop #4: A Yarny Link Party!

Moogly - Wed, 12/16/2020 - 02:00

Welcome to The Loop Scoop #4! The final collection from 2020 features 5 gorgeous free crochet patterns that are perfect for the holidays! Be sure to check out the new addition and links at the bottom as well, to determine what gets featured next round! What is The Loop Scoop? The Loop Scoop, formerly known...

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Categories: Crochet Life

Crochet Foundry Issue #3 – Interview and Giveaway

Moogly - Tue, 12/15/2020 - 17:55

Crochet Foundry Issue #3 drops today, and I was able to snag an interview with two of the amazing designers behind it – Pam and Briana! Catch our interview below, get a discount on your subscription, and enter to win a free issue below! Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links. All...

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Categories: Crochet Life

Clover Mini Weaving Loom Review and Giveaway

Moogly - Mon, 12/14/2020 - 16:00

Have you ever tried weaving on a loom before? The Clover Mini Weaving Loom is a great way to give this craft a try, and create cute useable projects! See how they work,  and enter to win your own Mini Weaving Loom on Moogly! Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links; giveaway sponsored by Clover USA....

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Categories: Crochet Life

Emergency Crochet Basket

Moogly - Fri, 12/11/2020 - 14:18

The Emergency Crochet Basket is a fast and handy pattern that might just save the day! You can whip one of these up in under two hours, and have a gift that stands on its own or that can be filled with all sorts of goodies. Or just clean up that mess before guests arrive…...

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Categories: Crochet Life

Batwing Lace Sweater Tutorial

Moogly - Thu, 12/10/2020 - 16:24

The Batwing Lace Sweater Tutorial demonstrates how to crochet this free and unique dolman sleeved crochet sweater – in both right and left-handed videos! Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links; materials provided by Yarnspirations. Batwing Lace Sweater Tutorial: How to Crochet the Batwing Lace Sweater – Right Handed How to Crochet the Batwing Lace Sweater...

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Categories: Crochet Life

Windows Border Tutorial – Moogly Live December 9, 2020

Moogly - Wed, 12/09/2020 - 16:04

As we approach the end of another year, we’re also at the end of another Moogly Crochet Along! This year I used one of my favorite two-round crochet edgings, the Windows Border. So on today’s Facebook Live, I’m sharing all the latest news, and the colors of Red Heart With Love I’ll be using in...

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Categories: Crochet Life

Furls for the Holidays Giveaway

Moogly - Mon, 12/07/2020 - 16:00

The Furls for the Holidays Giveaway is the perfect chance for you to find your new favorite thing – because we’re giving away a $100 Furls Gift Certificate on Moogly! Give yourself and your hands a happy holiday season with this worldwide giveaway! Disclaimer: Giveaway sponsored by Furls, all opinions are my own. This post...

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Categories: Crochet Life

Tortoise: a 10-month (or 10-year!) design study

Planet June - Mon, 10/26/2020 - 15:44

I’m so happy with the reception my Tortoise patterns have had already! Thank you so much to everyone who’s already bought them or shared them on social – I’m so glad you love them too!

It’s been a very long journey to get to this point, so I thought I’d put together a visual diary of creating my most complex, detailed and challenging pattern to date.

For anyone who looks at the pictures of my finished tortoises and thinks that doesn’t look so hard to design, this post should be an eye-opener! Although my style is to create designs that look smooth and simple, the process is anything but.

So here goes: a decade to get properly started, and then 10 months to get finished!

2011: Conception

I came up with the idea to make a tortoise along the same lines as my AquaAmi Sea Turtle, with a segmented shell and amigurumi-style head and limbs.

There were a couple of other cute tortoise patterns out there, but they all had circular shells and that’s just not right: tortoises have very oval-shaped shells. I sketched out a design for the shell segments that would make an oval shell using simple geometric shapes, and started crocheting.


The initial concept for the shell

Once I started to assemble my pieces, I quickly realised the problem with my design: it was going to produce a flattish shell top. That’s fine for a sea turtle, with its streamlined shape for swimming, but completely wrong for a land tortoise with its domed shell.

I was a fairly new designer back then, with only a few years of experience, and the challenge of creating a very specific asymmetrical 3D shape from simple geometric segments was beyond me – I just didn’t know where to go from there – so I set it aside, and the notes and prototypes were filed for later…


You can see a couple of the original shell segments (with some dinosaur parts!) in this work-in-progress photo from 2011 – before I realised my idea wasn’t going to work…

2012-2017: Research

Moving from Canada to South Africa in 2011 brought an unexpected benefit. Although I knew that tortoises must live wild somewhere in the world, I only specifically knew about giant Galapagos tortoises, until I made the delightful discovery that ‘normal’ tortoises are pretty common in conservation areas and empty wild spaces in the Cape!

Throughout my years in Africa, I had endless opportunities to meet and study tortoises, from spotting wild tortoises while I was out in nature…

… to hanging out with rescued tortoises at my local wildlife sanctuary, World of Birds (tortoises live for a very long time, and keep growing throughout their lives, so ‘cute’ pet tortoises are often abandoned when they get too large)…

… to braking for wild tortoises crossing the road in undeveloped areas (and ‘awwww’ing whenever I spotted an adorable baby tort!)…

… to getting to hold those baby torts and learn more about them at an education and conservation centre…

In all that time, I learnt to appreciate these fascinating reptiles more than ever, and study their shells and markings up close.

2020: Realization January

After my Christmas break, I was ready to jump into new designs for 2020! With an extra decade of design experience under my belt, I had a new idea for how to tackle that tortoise shell shape.

After all my research time, I knew exactly what I was aiming to create: a life-sized realistically-shaped tortoise with correct (if simplified) shell structure:

  • The carapace (upper shell) has 13 main scutes (segments) with 5 vertebral scutes down the middle, 4 costal scutes around each side, plus a rim of marginal scutes.
  • The plastron (lower shell) is shaped to give the legs room to emerge, and has a gular (throat) scute at the front.

You don’t need to know all those details, but when you look at the tortoise, it should just look right to you, from all angles.


An early prototype: the general idea is good, but it’s too boxy and the scute shapes are all just a bit wrong


Completely reworked in shape and size, this is almost the final shell design, minus the edging


It’s beginning to look like a tortoise!

February

The basic design was finished – and check, check, check, I’d included all the features I wanted in the shell, the shape was lifelike, the size was great, and the shell fit around the body beautifully.


You probably think great, I was 90% done and it’d all be smooth sailing from there? If only that were true – the fun designing part was now basically finished, but a lot of hard work was still to come…

March

To take my mind off the lockdown etc, I decided to test my prototype instructions by making a giant tortoise (using the techniques from my Complete Guide to Giant Amigurumi)…


My biggest (and certainly heaviest) giant amigurumi to date!

It was so much fun to make, but it highlighted a lot of things I’d need to explain in the pattern, and that I’d need to refine the design to simplify the assembly process. It turns out that coming up with the design, although it was a long time in the making, was just a small step in the process of producing this pattern – being able to clearly explain something that’s so unique was a whole new challenge.

May

I started prototyping expansion pack ideas while trying to figure out how on earth to make a useable and enjoyable pattern from my well over 150 step-by-step photos and 16 pages of handwritten notes…


Maggie looks a little perturbed by the shell-less tortoises!

July

I felt like the pattern was starting to get into shape, but I still had parts I hadn’t figured out how to explain clearly when I had my accident and temporarily broke my brain. Concussion meant no chance of making progress on such a high-level task – I couldn’t concentrate on anything, let alone something so demanding.

My giant tortoise was now part of the family and a fixture in my living room, but I wasn’t sure if he’d ever be able to have any crocheted relatives around the world…


Yes, my giant tortoise is bulkier than Maui and Maggie combined!

September

With the post-concussion symptoms finally fading, I could get back to whipping this pattern into shape. But – disaster – I couldn’t remember anything I’d been planning to include, or where I’d left off! I had to make another complete tortoise from my notes so I could re-learn the design well enough to explain it clearly.


My 16 pages of handwritten notes – there’s a pattern hidden in there somewhere…

I started to regret thinking this could even be possible – the shell was so complicated, and there were no precedents to consult for any of the techniques I’d come up with to make this design work with 18 pieces and no sewing at all (except the back legs).

I threw out pages and pages of explanation I’d put into the pattern that were either too technical or relied on too much expertise – I didn’t want to drown you in irrelevant info, or for this to be a pattern that only a few advanced amigurumists would be able to tackle!

I kept tweaking the techniques and the instructions to make things clearer and cleaner and easier to follow, but it felt like I’d never reach the end of this marathon.

October

Success! With 18 pages, over step-by-step 70 photos with lots of annotations to make things even clearer, and separate right- and left-handed versions, I finally had a pattern that I could be proud of. I’d tried to include solutions to everything that could possibly trip you up, so your questions are answered before you even think to ask them.

This pattern is unlike anything you’ve seen before. If you follow it carefully and add stitch markers at all the specified places to make sure everything will line up, it’ll guide you step-by-step through the whole process to make a fantastic tortoise!

It’s very fitting that this design is a tortoise: it took a lot of small slow steps to go from a vague concept to a great idea to a satisfying design to a solid finished pattern, but, as in the Tortoise and the Hare fable, slow and steady wins the race.

I always try to give every design the time it needs to become the best pattern it can be. (But I do hope that my ideas won’t all take 10 years to come to fruition from now on!)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this insight into my design and patterning process. And if you’d like to enjoy the results of all that work, you can pick up my Tortoise crochet patterns from my shop!

Categories: Crochet Life

baby sea turtle applique in thread!

Planet June - Fri, 09/18/2020 - 15:30

My first thought after seeing my Baby Sea Turtle Appliqué was to wonder how it would look in crochet thread, so I decided to find out!

I tried a few thread/hook combinations but my favourite ended up being size 10 thread and a size 7 US / 1.5mm steel hook. This size is not ridiculously small, so it’s not too difficult to crochet, but it’s still fine enough to give a satisfyingly petite and lovely baby turtle for an embellishment!

My thread sea turtle applique is only 2.25″ (5.5cm) long and it looks so good in crochet cotton! The pattern works really well scaled down like this, provided you have a fine enough needle (with a large enough eye) to weave in the thread ends. (The clever simple assembly technique from the pattern works perfectly too, in case you were wondering!)


It’s a perfect miniature!

Seeing how cute this tiny baby turtle turned out, I’m tempted to buy a denim jacket and have turtles ‘swimming’ up one side… A crochet thread appliqué would pair perfectly with denim, and it could go through the wash with no problems. What do you think? Should I do it?!

PlanetJune Appliqués

I’ve been developing my own style of appliqué, neither worked in rows (I don’t like that horizontal stripy look) or rounds (I dislike the look of that too, e.g. a leaf that has a big circle in the middle with the points of the leaf formed around it).

In my style, the design builds out from a base crocheted ‘skeleton’, which gives the finished pieces a more uniform look, without the visual distraction of rows or circles breaking up the shape.

I realised that I’ve accidentally built quite a library of appliqués already – especially if you include the flowers of some of my potted plants that could double as appliqués, like my pansy pins.

In case you’re specifically looking for crochet appliqué patterns, I’ve added an Appliqués category to the PlanetJune shop, so you can browse more easily.

And you can expect more flat designs like these in future! (Do let me know if you have any requests…)

Categories: Crochet Life

review: Contoured Face Mask sewing pattern

Planet June - Thu, 09/10/2020 - 14:46

I’ve been experimenting with various mask sewing patterns since April. With the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19 imminent as schools start up again, I decided to spend part of my Labour Day long weekend making a batch of masks I’ll really enjoy wearing, now I’ve settled on my favourite design.

This is the Contoured 3D Face Mask pattern from the Japanese Sewing Books blog and I love it because the structured shape keeps it away from your nose and mouth (so I find it much easier to breathe), while also fitting closely all around the edges (so it’s more effective) and going right up to my eyes (so it doesn’t steam up my glasses).

I also love it because of the clever design – it’s like fabric origami! There’s only one piece of each fabric (outer and lining), and the shape and structure is all formed from folding and seaming.


image courtesy of Japanese Sewing Books blog

The video instructions are incredibly clear and I’d encourage you to watch it even if you don’t plan to make one of these masks – it’s so satisfying watching it come together! I do wish there were also text instructions with diagrams, but once you’ve made a couple of masks you won’t need the instructions anyway; just the printable template.

Tip: This pattern comes in 6 sizes to cover all head sizes from children to men, which is great, but I think the sizes run a little small. I used the ‘ladies’ size (L), but I’m quite petite and this size is only just large enough for me, so you may well need to size up.

I’ve only made one change to the mask design, and it doesn’t change the sewing instructions at all: I like to use one long tie instead of elastic. I thread a 48″ length of cotton tape onto a yarn needle and pass it down through one side casing and then up through the other. The loop goes around your neck, then you pass the ends above your ears and tie them together at the back of your head to get a secure fit without the discomfort of elastic behind the ears.

My other innovation is in folding the mask so I can keep one in my bag or pocket. Instead of just folding it in half, I tuck the lower third up under the upper third and fold in the sides so it lies flat. Then I fold the resulting rectangle in half and wrap the ties around it to secure it in a compact square shape – it’s so small and convenient!

Until I find something like the gorgeous Japanese Hello Kitty fabric used in the tutorial video, I’m using my favourite sakura fabric to make all my masks. I bought it as a remnant many years ago and the need to make masks has finally given me a reason good enough to use it – and a way to make wearing masks at least somewhat enjoyable.

Isn’t this a great mask design? I highly recommend it. I hope you’ll try making one, or at least enjoy watching the video to see how it works!

Do you have a favourite mask pattern? Please share a link and why you like it in the comments – I’d love to see your recommendations too.

Categories: Crochet Life

update: back from sick leave

Planet June - Tue, 07/21/2020 - 19:59

Thank you all so much for your kind comments and well-wishes about my accident.

Because of the concussion, my head has been hurting too much until now to spend more than a few minutes at a time on my computer or phone, so I haven’t replied to anyone individually (either here or on social) to say thanks, but please know that it meant a lot to me to get your messages when I was feeling very sorry for myself!

A little health update

Most of my injuries are healing nicely. I have a dentist’s appointment this weekend for my broken tooth, and hopefully by then the concussion will have completely faded and it’ll be safe for me to drive myself there and back. I’m still feeling a little confused, but the killer headaches have faded and I’m coming back to myself.

It was a pretty scary experience, but reading some of the comments people have left me about their similar falls onto concrete that resulted in a broken arm or pelvis, or still having occasional head problems years later, I’m counting myself lucky that I have no lasting damage beyond a ruined pair of expensive glasses and a broken front tooth (and I’m hopeful that my dentist can restore my smile so you’d never know the difference – I know that’s just vanity, but please keep your fingers crossed for me on that front!)

And a little work update

As you’ll already know if you get my newsletter (and if you don’t, sign up now!), my next crochet pattern was due to be a Tortoise with a very detailed crocheted shell. Finishing the shell assembly instructions is still a little beyond my slightly-concussed brain, so I’m putting the pattern on hold for a couple more weeks, or until I’m completely recovered.

But I do have a different design I’ve been working on that needs none of that pesky careful thinking to find exactly the right phrase that most clearly describes an innovative process, so I should have a new pattern for you soon – it just won’t be the one I’d planned to release this month!

I’m still taking things slowly and needing plenty of naps and rest sessions, so please be patient with me as I try to catch up with everything I let slide last week without overdoing things and making my head hurt again…

Categories: Crochet Life

I’m on sick leave

Planet June - Mon, 07/13/2020 - 18:58

I had a bad fall the other day and smashed my head into a concrete sidewalk. I’ve fractured a front tooth and broken my glasses, and I have a concussion as well as cuts and bruises, a fat lip and a big lump on my head.

It hurts my head to use the computer or my phone and I think I need to go on ‘sick leave’ for a few days to recover.

Please be patient if you need anything from me – I will get back to you, but it may take some time!

Categories: Crochet Life

Sprouting seeds – easy, fun and tasty!

Planet June - Tue, 05/12/2020 - 13:21

I’ve been growing my own sprouts for about a year now, and I thought now would be the perfect time to share the process with you. Even if it’s not practical to get out to buy fresh fruit and vegetables, you can still have nutrient-packed fresh and crunchy sprouts every day.

(And it’d be a great project for kids – it’s so fun to watch the sprouts grow over a few days and then be ready to eat!)

This is my almost-daily lunch:

Mmm, yummy! The act of germinating the seed unlocks all the nutrients contained within it, and the resulting sprout gives you a boost of fresh plant goodness.

And look how much fun it is to watch the seeds sprout – from seed to food in just 5 days!

My Favourite Sprouts

There are lots of seeds you can sprout, depending on what you enjoy. I started out with broccoli sprouts, because they have loads of health benefits, but I found their flavour overpowering unless I paired it with a spicy condiment in my sandwich (mustard or horseradish are perfect choices).

After some experimentation, I decided on my favourite sprouts – these would both be a great starting point if you’d like to make your own, as they are easy to grow and have a mild flavour that you can easily add to your food without overwhelming it.

Clover

Clover sprouts have a mild, fresh flavour. They are perfect in a sandwich or wrap, added to salads, or anywhere else you might use lettuce. I also like to pile them on top of burgers.

(If you can’t find clover sprouting seeds, I hear that alfalfa is similar.)

Mung Beans (Bean Sprouts)

I’m sure you’re familiar with bean sprouts, most commonly used in Chinese cooking. Growing them at home in a jar means you don’t end up with the long straight sprouts you find in the supermarket, but they taste just as good and it’s incredibly easy to toss a handful into your stir fries and sauces when you’re about to serve them, and add a tasty crunch to your dish.

Supplies

To get started, you’ll need some seeds, a wide-mouthed jar and some sort of screen to cover the top of the jar with.

I started my sprouting adventures with the no-cost method: a well-cleaned pasta sauce jar with a doubled layer of cheesecloth across the top, held in place with a rubber band.

Once I knew I’d be keeping this hobby going, I invested in a set of wide-mouthed mason jars and screw-on sprouting lids (there are lots of options – if you buy some, just make sure the width of the top is the same as the mouth of your jars.)

And then, you’ll need some seeds! You can buy these from health food stores or online. Just make sure you search for sprouting seeds that are intended for consumption – regular seeds that are intended to be planted in the ground to grow into plants are usually treated with a fungicide, so the seeds are not edible.

Get Sprouting!

Here are my notes for sprouting clover. The process is the same for other sprouts; the only differences would be a) how much seed to use, b) how long to soak the seed for, and c) how many days until the sprouts are ready.

But these instructions will give you an idea of how easy it is to grow your own sprouts…

  1. Measure 2 tbsp of seed into the jar, then screw on the lid.
  2. Fill with water and soak for 8-12 hours.
  3. Tip out the soaking water.
  4. Without removing the lid, add water, swirl the seeds around and tip out the water.
  5. Repeat step 4, making sure to shake out all the water so the seeds won’t be sitting in water.
  6. Shake the seeds down away from the jar lid so air can circulate.
  7. Lay the jar on its side, out of direct sunlight.
  8. Every morning and evening, repeat steps 4-7.
  9. When the jar is fairly full (3-5 days) and the sprouts have leaves, leave the jar on a sunny windowsill for a day for the leaves to green up.
  10. Tip the sprouts into a large bowl and fill it with water.
  11. Swish the sprouts around so the hulls float to the top.
  12. Skim off the hulls or push them to the sides of the bowl, then grab a handful of sprouts and pull them out of the bowl.
  13. Place into a salad spinner or onto a kitchen towel-covered plate.
  14. Repeat to get all the rest of the sprouts out (leaving a few hulls with them is fine).
  15. Spin the sprouts to dry them, or leave them on the counter for a couple of hours to dry out.
  16. Put the sprouts in a plastic container and refrigerate for up to a week.
  17. Enjoy!

I hope this has inspired you to think about growing your own fresh sprouts!

And, if you’ve tried growing sprouting seeds before, which varieties are your favourites? I’d love to try some different seeds – do let me know your recommendations in the comments below…

Categories: Crochet Life

free crochet pattern: Happy Rainbows

Planet June - Wed, 04/29/2020 - 18:44

Rainbows are a symbol of hope and unity as well as being full of bright and cheerful colours. I think we could all do with some cheer right now, as well as encouraging hope and unity.

My hope is that my Happy Rainbows pattern will brighten your day while you crochet it, and then go on to brighten the day of everyone who sees it!

Use these cheerful rainbows to brighten anyone’s day with a splash of colour and a message of hope and unity! Tape them to your window, hang them on the wall, or stitch them to a crocheted blanket or cushion as a colourful applique.

As buying yarn may be difficult at this time, I’ve designed this pattern so both rainbow sizes use easily-available worsted weight yarn. The only difference between the large and small rainbows is the hook size and the number of strands of yarn, so grab your brightest yarns from your stash and crochet some cheer!

As I like to reward people who chose to donate for my donationware patterns, the PDF version of this pattern includes a bonus pattern for matching flat-bottomed rainbows (pictured below), and additional progress photos (including left-handed photos).

As always, the pattern is free for you to use, and you need only donate if you’d like to thank me for my time in creating it, or if you’d like the easy-to-print PDF version.

I hope you enjoy my Happy Rainbows pattern!

Go to the Happy Rainbows pattern >>

Categories: Crochet Life

first machine-knitted sweater!

Planet June - Thu, 02/06/2020 - 21:36

This is my first FO of the year, and I’m completely thrilled by it!

It’s a combination of machine and hand knitting, and to explain how that came about, let’s start with some backstory…

Despite having filled my wardrobe with handknits, I haven’t finished knitting a sweater for over a year now. With hindsight, I think the reason is that knitting kept me going through the worst of my PTSD. When I couldn’t do anything else, I could still move my needles, loop my yarn, and make one neat stitch after another to pass the time in a constructive way. Knitting became my therapy, and it did that job so well that it ruined knitting for me as a fun hobby.

I’d started on a simple project that should have been easy and fun – remaking my simplest sweater design in a different colour (the lovely periwinkle you see above). I got most of the way through the sleeves, and then… I stalled.

I put the project away and hadn’t been tempted to knit another sweater for ages, until I bought my knitting machine. I used the rag hems I told you about in my previous post as guides to try to match my gauge to the sleeves I’d already knitted by hand, and then got started trying to machine knit the missing parts (the front and back) of the sweater.

The back went so well that I got a little too enthusiastic (or too confident!) when I knitted the front – I got over-tired and didn’t notice I’d skipped the whole section from waist to underarms!

It’s hard to see what’s going on while you’re knitting, as the work is weighted down and completely stretched out of shape, so I didn’t notice my mistake until I’d finished and laid the sweater front out flat…

Bet you’ve never seen a sweater with this shape before! (Ignore the green rows at the bottom – those are my rag hem and won’t be part of the final sweater.)

Haha! Disaster! I fed a lifeline (the yellow yarn across the photo above) through the row below the point where I went wrong – there should be an extra 32 rows of knitting at that point!

But I wasn’t too discouraged by my mistake – it was good practice for following my at-the-same-time armhole decreases and neck decreases, and I was encouraged by how neat the stitches looked.

I frogged all the way back to the lifeline, hooked it all back onto the machine, and tried again (without making any stupid mistakes this time).

Once I’d finished, it was just a matter of seaming the front, back and sleeves together, then picking up stitches to knit the bottom band and neckband by hand. And it seems I’ve got my knitting mojo back! I really enjoyed hand-knitting the ribbing so I could see how the sweater would turn out.

There are some minor flaws in my knitting, where the yarn must have caught on something and so the tension of the whole row is too tight, but I’m delighted with this as my first attempt. The gauge is exactly what I was aiming for, and it’s a perfectly cosy sweater for this time of year!

I’m so impressed with how well the stitches match between my hand knit sleeves and the machine knit body – if you didn’t know, would you be even able to tell there was a difference?!

Concept proven, and now I’m back in the knitting game with lots of ideas for what to knit next with my combination of machine- and hand-knitting – I think it’s the best of both worlds. So exciting!

Categories: Crochet Life

Backyard Wildlife Photography: UK & France

Planet June - Tue, 08/13/2019 - 17:23

I’ve just got back from a holiday visiting family in England, Jersey and France. The weather and time of year meant everyone’s gardens were in full bloom and the bird feeders were busy, so I took the opportunity to practice some garden wildlife photography.

After the photography workshop I took a few months ago, I’ve been trying to pay more attention to composition, depth of field, etc, to improve my skill level. This is especially challenging when it comes to wildlife photography – wild creatures don’t tend to sit around and wait while you try to get the best angle and compose the perfect shot!

The galleries below showcase my favourite bird and butterfly sets from the 1200+ photos I took over the past couple of weeks, and I hope you’ll take a couple of minutes to relax and enjoy them…

Click into each gallery to see the full-size photos.

Butterflies Birds

I consider some of these photos to be among the best I’ve ever taken – do you agree? Even a humble house sparrow can be quite enchanting when posing for a photo.

Although the subject matter of these photos isn’t as exotic as my African photos, my safari experiences have changed me – these days, I’d much prefer to watch and photograph wild animals and birds in their natural habitats instead of caged animals in zoos.

I’ve really missed practicing this hobby – it’s so relaxing to get out into nature and watch and wait for something interesting to photograph! When I have my own garden again (we’re currently renting until our new house is built) I’m planning to make a native wildflower meadow so I can attract pollinators (birds, bees and butterflies) and other local wildlife to visit my back yard. Isn’t that a lovely idea?!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my photos, and that you’ll remember to take time to look out for your local wildlife too…

Categories: Crochet Life

free pattern: Eco-Friendly Cosmetic Rounds

Planet June - Thu, 07/11/2019 - 14:41

I recently started using a facial toner, and suddenly I was throwing out more cotton pads in a week than I usually use in a year! I try to minimise the amount of trash I generate, and, as the bathroom bin started to fill, I decided this had to stop. Enter my new free crochet pattern: washable, re-useable Eco-Friendly Cosmetic Rounds.

Use these washable rounds anywhere you’d use a disposable cotton round or facial wipe – for cleansing, toning, or removing makeup – and save money while helping the environment! They crochet up in minutes, take very little yarn, and make a pretty and practical gift.

Eco-Friendly Cosmetic Rounds are easy to clean – simply toss the used pads into a mesh laundry bag or a drawstring bag and run them through your washer and dryer with your laundry.

As I like to reward people who choose to donate for my donationware patterns, the PDF version of the Eco-Friendly Cosmetic Rounds pattern also includes the bonus pattern for the Mini size (pictured above; I find this size is perfect for applying my toner!) and additional instructional photos and tips, including left-handed photos. As always, the pattern for the Standard size is free for you to use, and you need only donate if you’d like to thank me for my time in creating it, or if you’d like the easy-to-print PDF version with the bonuses.

Go to the free Eco-Friendly Cosmetic Rounds pattern >>

Or jump straight to donate:

Order the Eco-Friendly Cosmetic Rounds pattern >>

Not ready to make them yet? Add this pattern to your Ravelry queue:

I hope you’ll find this pattern useful! And every step we can make towards helping the environment by reducing waste is a step in the right direction, no matter how small.

Categories: Crochet Life

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