Crochet Life

Final Frost Beanie

Moogly - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 10:48

When spring is right around the corner but no one has told the thermostat, you need something new to cheer you up and keep you warm – introducing the Final Frost Beanie! Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links; material provided by Red Heart and Brittany Needles. The Final Frost Beanie features gorgeous Chic Sheep by [...]

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Categories: Crochet Life

Chetnanigans BlocksAll Premiere 812 Giveaway

Moogly - Thu, 03/15/2018 - 17:15

Crochet projects almost always look better after a bit of blocking – and for all your motifs and squares, the Chetnanigans BlocksAll makes it super easy! And I get to help give away one very special blocking board – the Chetnanigans BlocksAll Premiere 812! Disclaimer: Chetnanigans is sponsoring this giveaway. This post includes affiliate links. If you [...]

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Categories: Crochet Life

Moogly CAL 2018 – Afghan Block #5

Moogly - Thu, 03/15/2018 - 15:00

These blocks are officially a handful – because it’s time for block #5! This next square in the 2018 Moogly Crochet Along quick and easy, and very pretty – and courtesy of The Lindsey Life! Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links; yarn provided by Red Heart. Just getting started with the Crochet Along? CLICK HERE for the intro [...]

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Categories: Crochet Life

Houndstooth Squares Blanket Tutorial

Moogly - Wed, 03/14/2018 - 14:33

The Houndstooth Squares Blanket is made up of the same two stitches, and the same 2 rows, for the entire pattern. Sounds easy, but there are lots of color changes and a bit of assembly to finish it off – so here’s a new Moogly video tutorial to help! Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links; [...]

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Categories: Crochet Life

book review: Mandalas to Embroider

Planet June - Wed, 03/14/2018 - 13:30

Let’s get this out of the way first: I received a copy of this book to review. But I’m not being compensated for this review in any other way, and the following is based on my honest opinions!

Carina and I have been friends since we first met (online) in our early days of craft blogging, over a decade ago! She’s well-known for her distinctive cheerful and colourful embroidery designs and has authored 3 books as well as a shopful of self-published designs (you can find them all at Polka & Bloom).

Ever since Carina mentioned that she was designing a book of mandalas, I’ve been waiting to see what she came up with, and I wasn’t disappointed! Embroidery, like other slow crafts, can be a calm relaxing hobby, and combining that with repeating mandala patterns sounds like a perfect recipe for slowing down and enjoying some crafting time.

Read on for my review, and to see the gorgeous embroidery I’ve made from one of the book patterns…

Overview

Mandalas to Embroider: Kaleidoscope Stitching in a Hoop by Carina Envoldsen-Harris is a book of circular embroidery patterns. As Carina says in her introduction:

Mandala is the Sanskrit word for ‘circle’. These days, it is often used as a generic term for a particular motif, especially in arts and crafts, usually with a concentric design or one which radiates from the centre.

Mandalas to Embroider includes 12 large and 12 small delicate repeating patterns. Nature-based, geometric, or more abstract, the designs are all bold, happy, and – of course! – colourful. The circular nature of the patterns means they fit perfectly in an embroidery hoop, making the finished pieces easy to display.


Such pretty and colourful designs!

The book is split into two halves: the first half includes clearly-illustrated stitch tutorials, instructions for preparing and finishing your work, and all the patterns, with colour palettes and stitching suggestions.

The pages of the second half are actually iron-on transfers for each of the patterns. Each page is perforated so it can be removed neatly, and there’s a handy pocket inside the back cover to store any transfers you’ve already used. I thought this was a really nice touch, as each transfer can be used up to ten times, so you’ll be able to keep the transfer pages together with the book, so they’re ready for the next time you want to use them.


Left: stitch tutorials; Right: iron-on transfer

This book is beautifully styled and photographed, and I couldn’t stop paging through again and again to admire the variety of mandala-inspired patterns.


A couple of the lovely photos

My Experience

Although Mandalas to Embroider includes 12 mini designs, I decided to jump right into one of the 12 full-sized designs. Sakura Clusters was an obvious choice for me, as I love cherry blossoms (I even designed a cherry blossom garland for my first book, Paper Chains and Garlands!) and this design was the first that really caught my eye as I flipped through the book:

I decided to see how the design would look in a colour scheme inspired by real-life cherry blossom instead of Carina’s cheerful bright palette. That’s one of the advantages of embroidery (or crochet!) patterns – it’s so easy to make them your own by simply changing the colours. I shopped for floss colours using the pinks, reds and blue from this beautiful reference photo:


I was unable to find anyone to credit this stunning photo to – if you’re the photographer, let me know!

I raided my fabric stash and the only off-white fabric I could find looked a bit thin, so I used two layers to stop the threads on the back of the piece from showing through on the front. (I wasn’t sure if that was going to work, but my stitches didn’t show through the fabric, so I suppose it did!)

I wanted to make my embroidery a little smaller than the original, so I copied and reduced the pattern page, then traced the design onto my fabric with a pencil. If you use the iron-on transfers, you can skip all that and be ready to start embroidering right away!

I must admit to being a little nervous about starting stitching; although I’ve been cross-stitching for decades, and of course enjoy my punchneedle embroidery, I haven’t actually done any regular embroidery since I learnt the basic stitches in primary school.

I needn’t have worried – the patterns in this book all use fairly simple stitches, which are clearly explained at the start of the book. Although I started slowly, I quickly picked up speed. By the end of the project, I felt very confident with the stitches used in this pattern, and I’m ready to learn some of the other stitches for my next embroidery project!

Look, even the back of the embroidery is quite pretty…

And now for the big reveal:

Isn’t it lovely? In my colour palette, the pattern takes on a more serene look, but Carina’s pretty design still shines through. I’m thrilled with my embroidery, and I’ll be very happy to display this finished piece on the wall of my craft room.

Final Thoughts

Carina’s designs always have a hand-drawn quality to them, and I was impressed to see that she’s managed to maintain that even with the repeating patterns in Mandalas to Embroider. There’s still a free, natural quality to the designs. I noticed while I was stitching the flowers that the petals of each flower aren’t perfectly identical. This is a good thing – the relaxed nature of the design felt like permission to be relaxed in the execution – there’s no need to make every stitch exactly even and perfect to get a beautiful result.

If you’ve never tried embroidery, I’d definitely encourage you to give it a try – I found it very relaxing and satisfying to watch the design come together. And I think Mandalas to Embroider is a perfect introduction to embroidery, as you can build your confidence by practicing your stitching on the smaller patterns, or do as I did and jump right into a large one!

Categories: Crochet Life

Yarn Love: Red Heart Collage

Moogly - Tue, 03/13/2018 - 03:35

This month I’ve been enjoying Red Heart Collage yarn – so let’s take a closer look, in this month’s Yarn Love yarn review on Moogly! Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Red Heart Yarn, but all opinions are my own. The Red Heart Collage Yarn Facts: Content: 80% Acrylic, 20% Wool Weight: / Jumbo /  UK: 16+ [...]

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Categories: Crochet Life

Crochet Loom Blooms by Haafner Linssen – Giveaway!

Moogly - Mon, 03/12/2018 - 15:00

I’ve crocheted flowers before, and I’ve done loom knitting before, but I’ve never used a flower loom before – and Crochet Loom Blooms is a great introduction! Take a peek inside with me, and enter to win a copy for yourself in the giveaway below! Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book to [...]

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Categories: Crochet Life

Houndstooth Squares Blanket

Moogly - Fri, 03/09/2018 - 15:32

The Houndstooth Squares Blanket pattern has been living in my head for months, and I’m so excited to have finally turned it into a reality – and a free crochet afghan pattern on Moogly! Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links; materials provided by Red Heart Yarns and Furls Crochet. This blanket pattern is based on [...]

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Categories: Crochet Life

Spring Rain Lapghan Tutorial

Moogly - Wed, 03/07/2018 - 15:53

The Spring Rain Lapghan features an easy six-row repeat (really!), and features jumbo Red Heart Collage – and now you can make it with the written pattern (linked below), or this video tutorial and chart! Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links; material support provided by Red Heart Yarns and Furls Crochet Hooks. How to Crochet [...]

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Categories: Crochet Life

Simple-Shell Sea Turtle crochet pattern

Planet June - Wed, 03/07/2018 - 15:33

A few months ago, I had a very clever request from a customer, to design a large adult version of the turtle from my Baby Sea Turtle Collection pattern. It was such a good idea – my AquaAmi Sea Turtle pattern is an epic amigurumi showstopper, but all those shell pieces take forever to crochet – wouldn’t you like to make a simpler large sea turtle?

So here it is, a Simple-Shell Sea Turtle expansion pack (below, right) for my AquaAmi Sea Turtle (below, left):

Note about size: The turtles in the above photo are different sizes because the original Sea Turtle is crocheted with bulky yarn and a G7 hook; the expansion pack is crocheted with worsted weight yarn and an E hook. You can crochet either turtle in either size (details in the patterns); if you use the same yarn and hook for both, the finished turtles will be the same size!

As you can see, both turtles have the same realistic shaping and flippers, but the new pattern gives you a simple but cleverly-shaped shell instead of the beautifully-patterned but time-consuming original shell. With only two shell pieces to crochet instead of twenty, you’ll save a lot of time!

About the Pattern

This Expansion Pack gives a simplified shell for my large AquaAmi Sea Turtle. The result gives an ‘adult’ sized turtle (about 9.5″/24cm long when made in worsted weight yarn) that matches my Baby Sea Turtle pattern (sold separately).

It includes all the modifications required to crochet a Sea Turtle much more quickly than the original AquaAmi Sea Turtle, with simple but well-shaped one-piece top and bottom shells.

And, if you’re making a turtle blanket as a gift, now you can add a larger matching cuddly turtle toy to go with it!

What is an Expansion Pack?

  • An Expansion Pack is an add-on to an existing PlanetJune pattern.
  • The Expansion Pack lets you modify or add to the original pattern to create something else.
  • You cannot use the Expansion Pack alone – you must also purchase the original pattern in order to be able to complete the pictured items in the Expansion Pack pattern.

You can buy the Simple-Shell Sea Turtle Expansion Pack for only $3.50 individually from the shop, or, if you haven’t yet bought the original AquaAmi Sea Turtle pattern, you can buy the multipack of both turtles, and save 50c on the pair.

Launch Discount

If you’ve already bought the original turtle pattern, you won’t be able to save that 50c. But, for 7 days only, add the Simple-Shell Sea Turtle Expansion Pack pattern to your shopping cart, together with anything else (totalling $5 or more), then use the code MORETURTLES at checkout and you’ll still get your discount! (Valid until next Tuesday: 13th March 2018.)

Note: If you don’t need anything else right now, this also applies to Gift Certificate purchases, so you can pick up a $5 gift certificate now, get your discount, and have $5 in your PlanetJune account ready for your next purchase, or to send to a crocheting friend!

PlanetJune Sea Turtle Patterns

This new addition means I now have three different sea turtle patterns, letting you make all the different options above (and even more if you resize all the patterns) – but they all match nicely, so you can build a sea turtle family with as many of the different pattern options as you wish!

In case you’re confused about which pattern makes which turtle, here’s the rundown of all the PlanetJune sea turtle patterns – and yes, it’s turtles all the way down…

A note about sizes: The top two pictured turtles were both made with worsted weight yarn. If you use only worsted weight yarn, these are the two turtle sizes you’ll make with my patterns: approx 4.5-5″ long for the babies, and 9.5″ long for any of my adult turtle patterns.

But you can choose to make a variety of turtle sizes: the third turtle down is made with bulky weight yarn, increasing the adult turtle length to 11″, and the giant 18″ long turtle at the bottom was crocheted with the same pattern, but two strands of bulky weight. The difference in size between the green turtle and the giant turtle is caused solely by the yarn and hook choices!

Read more about how to resize amigurumi by changing the hook and yarn sizes here.

If you’re not ready to make – or add to – your Turtle family just yet, don’t forget to heart and queue them on Ravelry so you don’t forget about them:

AquaAmi Sea Turtle (original): 

Simple-Shell Sea Turtle (new):

Baby Sea Turtle Collection:

I’m so happy with this new addition to my sea turtle collection – I feel like I have a turtle for every occasion now! 

Categories: Crochet Life

Hookin On Hump Day #162: A Yarny Link Party!

Moogly - Wed, 03/07/2018 - 02:00

March winds have brought us 5 fantastic brand new crochet patterns! I think you’re going to love each of these – I know I do! Thank you for taking the time to share your projects with us again – and thank you for checking out these fantastic links! Now, here’s what your clicks picked for [...]

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Categories: Crochet Life

Red Heart Collage Giveaway!

Moogly - Mon, 03/05/2018 - 16:00

Recently I debuted a brand new pattern featuring Red Heart Collage – and now I get to give away 6 balls to one lucky winner! Disclaimer: This giveaway was sponsored by Red Heart Yarns. Red Heart Collage is 80% Acrylic, 20% Wool, and a   Jumbo weight yarn. It’s got a bit of a halo, and [...]

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Categories: Crochet Life

Spring Rain Lapghan

Moogly - Fri, 03/02/2018 - 15:15

Spring weather has its ups and downs, but there’s something about a warm Spring Rain, and the way the bright spots of color seem to shine. And that’s what inspired the Spring Rain Lapghan! Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links; materials provided by Red Heart Yarns and Furls. The Spring Rain Lapghan was designed with [...]

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Categories: Crochet Life

Moogly CAL 2018 – Afghan Block #4

Moogly - Thu, 03/01/2018 - 16:00

Welcome back once again! It’s time for Block #4 for the 2018 Moogly Crochet Along – and it’s gorgeous, with tons of texture and color opportunities! This week’s lovely square is courtesy of KatiDCreations! Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links; yarn provided by Red Heart. Just getting started with the Crochet Along? CLICK HERE for the [...]

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Categories: Crochet Life

Facebook Live & YouTube Live with Moogly!

Moogly - Wed, 02/28/2018 - 20:56

Whew – what an exciting day. I did a Facebook Live… and then my first YouTube Live! And since Facebook and YouTube aren’t always great at sharing, I thought I’d put them right here on the blog so you can see them if you missed them when they were live. I don’t believe I can “embed” [...]

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Categories: Crochet Life

Yarn Love: Red Heart Chic Sheep by Marly Bird

Moogly - Tue, 02/27/2018 - 16:00

Something new I want to introduce here on Moogly are yarn reviews! So for the first edition of Yarn Love, let’s take a look at Red Heart Chic Sheep by Marly Bird! Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Red Heart Yarn, but all opinions are my own. The Red Heart Chic Sheep by Marly Bird [...]

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Categories: Crochet Life

OttLite 13w Craft Carrying Case: Giveaway!

Moogly - Mon, 02/26/2018 - 16:00

Every year my eyes need a little more help to keep crafting – and OttLite usually has the solution! A bright clear light can make all the difference when you’re crocheting, knitting, or crafting, and the OttLite 13w Craft Carrying Case is the perfect solution when you need that light to come with you – so [...]

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Categories: Crochet Life

Quick Cricut Craft: DIY Shamrock Crochet T-Shirt

Moogly - Fri, 02/23/2018 - 16:00

No one knows exactly when or where crochet began – though there are plenty of theories! One thing is for sure: Irish crochet saved many lives in the mid-1800s – possibly including a few of my own ancestors. Additionally, St. Patrick’s Day has become quite an event for our family the last couple of years, [...]

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Categories: Crochet Life

Stitch Tension in Amigurumi: an investigation

Planet June - Mon, 01/29/2018 - 13:38
Link easily to this page in your patterns: www.planetjune.com/stitchtension

Today, I’d like to dispel a common amigurumi myth…

In amigurumi, as with all crochet, you should always be keeping tension on the yarn to keep your stitches compact and regular. But I often hear misinformation that you should be ‘crocheting tightly’ to make amigurumi, and that’s not true at all!

The tightness of amigurumi stitches refers to the tension of the small stiff stitches of the fabric you produce, not to the tension in your hands while you crochet.

Showing is better than telling, so allow me to demonstrate, via a new crochet investigation, how to make perfect amigurumi stitches without hurting your hands!

Experiment 1: Effect of Hook Size

I crocheted the same sample amigurumi cup shape 3 times with different sized hooks and the same worsted weight yarn each time. I crocheted the same way as I would when making a scarf or anything else – I kept my tension even, but didn’t try to pull my stitches tightly or pull back on the yarn after pulling up each loop.

I used my standard amigurumi E hook (3.5mm), and, to show the effects of changing hook sizes, I tried a larger H hook (5mm) and a smaller C hook (2.75mm).

You can see that the stitches are neat and even in all three samples and, as you may expect, using a larger hook results in a larger finished piece that’s both taller and wider than the same piece crocheted with a smaller hook.

See how the smaller hook samples can stack inside the larger ones? There’s quite a size difference!

What you can’t tell from a photo is how stiff the fabric of each sample is. With the H hook, the fabric is too floppy to hold its shape well. With the E hook, the fabric is much firmer and holds its shape much better. With the C hook, the piece is even firmer and feels very solid.

I simulated the effect of adding stuffing by gently stretching out each piece between my fingers, so you can see the gaps between the stitches:

As you can see, the H hook fabric is far too open for an amigurumi; the gaps between the stitches are very noticeable. With the E hook, the stitches have smaller holes between them, so the stuffing would be far less visible. And, with the C hook, the gaps between stitches are almost invisible.

So here’s the result of changing hook size: a smaller hook gives a smaller and firmer crocheted piece, with tighter stitches and smaller gaps between the stitches.

These are the properties we want for amigurumi fabric! A stiff, sturdy fabric that holds its shape and has tiny gaps between the stitches is exactly what we need for crocheting a 3-dimensional sculpture.

Choosing the Right Hook Size
The C hook was the smallest hook I could manage with this specific yarn (Caron Simply Soft, a light worsted weight yarn), and I had to stop and undo a stitch a few times, when my hook hadn’t grabbed all the plies of the yarn. I wouldn’t recommend using a hook quite this small, as it’s annoying to have to undo your work whenever you realise you have a snag in your stitches from splitting the yarn with the small hook.

My Recommendation: In practice, with a light worsted weight yarn like this, I might go down to a D hook for the best balance of small, tight stitches and not splitting the yarn as I crochet. For the heavier worsted weight yarns, I still recommend an E hook for most amigurumi.

(See my Worsted Weight Yarn Comparison for more about the differences between different yarns that are all labelled as worsted weight!) Experiment 2: Effect of ‘Crocheting Tightly’

Now, part two of this investigation. I returned to my standard E hook and tried crocheting the same sample piece yet again, but this time I followed the misunderstood advice of ‘crocheting tightly’. I held the yarn tightly and pulled back on it against my hook each time I formed a loop, so each loop was tight around the hook and as small as possible.

Both these samples were crocheted with the same hook. As you can see, the ‘tight’ piece is smaller and firmer than the normally-tensioned piece, but at what cost?

When you crochet with too-tight tension, your stitches are so small that it’s hard to work back into them, and that’s what happened in this case: it was an effort to force my hook into each stitch. My yarn-holding hand began to cramp from pulling the yarn so tightly, and I didn’t enjoy the process of crocheting at all. Even finishing this small piece was very hard work.

Yes, the tight piece is definitely smaller (and therefore ‘better’ for amigurumi) but crocheting it was a horrible experience!

The Tension Exception
In amigurumi, chains and slip stitches should not be crocheted with your usual tension. These stitches need to be crocheted with an extra-relaxed tension (or a larger hook), or they’ll be too small to work back into.

See my tutorial Chains and Slip Stitches in Amigurumi for more on this. Experiment 3: Comparing Smaller Hook and Tighter Tension

Now, let’s compare the small (C hook) sample from Experiment 1 with the extra tight tension sample (E hook) from Experiment 2:

Can this be right? They look almost identical!

Yes, comparing the two pieces, they look and feel almost exactly the same – the size and shape are the same, the stiffness of the fabric is the same, the gaps between stitches are the same.

The only difference? The sample on the left was crocheted comfortably with a small hook, and the sample on the right was crocheted extra-tightly, at great discomfort, with a larger hook.

Conclusions

As these experiments have shown, there’s absolutely no advantage to changing the way you crochet when you make amigurumi by working extra-tightly (and you may actually hurt your hands, wrists and arms by doing so!)

The goal with amigurumi is to maintain tension (down and backwards) on the yarn that’s balanced by your hook pulling up and forwards. This control allows you to form neat, consistent stitches.

You should never feel you have to force your hook into every stitch and/or pull your stitches as tightly as possible. This not only distorts your fabric but can also lead to hand and wrist fatigue and repetitive stress disorders.

The secret to making good-looking amigurumi without making your hands hurt is simple:

  • Select an appropriately small hook and crochet the same way as you usually do.
  • The perfect hook for your yarn is the smallest size you can manage without starting to have problems from splitting your yarn because the hook is too small to consistently grab all the plies.

The result: neat tight stitches, with no pain!

If you ever experience discomfort when making amigurumi, I encourage you to relax that death grip on your hook and yarn, and try crocheting with a slightly smaller hook instead. Your hands will love the difference and, I hope, you’ll enjoy the amigurumi-making process more.

Have you fallen for the amigurumi myth of ‘crocheting tightly’? Please leave a message in the comments and share your experiences…

Categories: Crochet Life

attempting advanced origami

Planet June - Tue, 01/23/2018 - 14:00

Last year didn’t leave me with much time for ‘fun’ crafts, so I’m trying to pick that up again this year, and make time to make things just for the fun of it!

I received a pack of origami papers for Christmas, so I thought I’d try to learn more origami skills by picking a far more challenging pattern than I’ve attempted before. I chose to try a Cape Dwarf Chameleon (now I won’t be able to see real chameleons in my garden any more!) using a pattern by Quentin Trollip that’s rated as 4 out of 6 (advanced intermediate) on the origami difficulty scale.

Advanced intermediate is far beyond how I’d rate my origami skills, but there’s only one way to improve, and that’s to try something that’s out of your comfort zone! Although I’ve made lots of origami before, I usually stick to basic models with folds that you can understand with only wordless diagrams, so I was really jumping in at the deep end here.

At almost every step, I had to stop and google what each fold and instruction meant. Swivel fold? Inside reverse fold? Rabbit ear?! All new to me.

I found it difficult to understand all the new folds and spent ages staring at diagrams to try to see how one step could possibly lead to the next. But, finally, I figured out all the folds and, after a few hours, I had a finished model. It’s far from perfect, but if you squint you can just about recognise it as a chameleon!

For comparison, here’s the perfect original from Quentin Origami:


Haha, my attempt doesn’t look much like this!

Still, this is not a failure. I’ve learnt a lot from this project – persevering through learning so many new folds, and ending up with something close to what I was trying to make (although clearly a beginner-level attempt, with many mistakes).

So I thought I’d share it with you as an example of how there’s a learning process with every craft, and your first attempts may not look anywhere near perfect, but they’re a necessary step on the road to mastery, and nothing to be ashamed of.

I’ve also discovered that I prefer to make modular origami – simple folded units that combine to form a more complex result – vs trying to achieve the entire shape with a single sheet of paper. There’s a lot of dexterity and artistry needed to make advanced origami look good, but I prefer to keep my paper folding at an easy relaxing level. You don’t need to aim for mastery in order to enjoy a craft!

If you’d like to try some origami or paper-folding too, I have a few designs you may enjoy, such as these:

See all my papercraft tutorials at PlanetJune Papercraft – I can promise they are far more beginner-friendly than an origami chameleon!

Categories: Crochet Life

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