Hello New Year!

So 2017 is now in full swing!

I didn’t realise it had been so long since my last post…oops! That November/December period is full on! Family, birthdays, school finishing, holidays…and no real time to sit and crochet!

So, some news from Neen’s Crochet Corner…

My Annie the Alpaca pattern appeared in Issue 52 of Simply Crochet! Who grabbed themselves a copy? Supper chuffed and honoured to be a part of such an amazing publication!

I’m looking forward to bringing some of my design sketches to life this year so stay tuned for new things!

To you and yours have an amazing New Year!

♥Neen

 

Tips and Tricks

Tips and Tricks

For Crochet Toys/Amigurumi

by Janine Tsakisiris

tips

Your hook:

Your choice of hook will affect your end result. Choose a larger or smaller hook then suggested and your crochet toy size will be altered.

Your hook size will depend on the yarn chosen. Whatever yarn you select, if it is different from the suggested yarn in the pattern, you will need to make sure that it results in stitches that are small enough so that no stuffing will show through.

Yarn choice:

Not all yarns are suitable for crochet toys. Acrylic is one of the best. It holds its shape well and is durable and usually very affordable. With crochet toys, one ball can go a long way.

Some wools, although lovely to work with, are not so good when it comes to stitching pieces together. They tend to fray or felt and break apart after pulling on it for a while. Some people may also have allergies to wool so you need to consider your recipient.

Cotton is another nice choice that also washes well. Keep in mind though that it can have a tendency to stretch, so after a few washes you may find the stitches being pulled and the stuffing showing.

Always read the label on your chosen yarn for its care instructions. Is it washable? An important thing to consider when making a toy that will be much loved.

Because you are creating tight stitches, you will need to find a yarn that doesn’t scratch and grate across your fingers. There are many available yarns and yarn blends. Experiment and find a yarn that suits you and take note to ensure the colour palette available is large enough for your requirements.

Yarn in a nutshell…
1. Any yarn can be used, simply adjust your hook size so that no holes appear in your stitches that might show the stuffing.
2. If you use a smaller or larger hook your toy size will vary.
3. Not all bulky yarns are equal! They vary from brand to brand. (This goes for all plies of yarn!)
4. To find out what ply yarn you have (as they don’t all say), simply go to Ravelry (link below) and type in your yarn. It will list all the properties but keep in mind point 3! lol
5. To find a similar yarn simply go to YarnSub (link below) and see if you can find an equivalent.
Your yarn choice will affect your end result…don’t forget to have some fun with it! Enjoy bringing them to life and making them unique! 😀

Some helpful places to look at:
Yarn Substitution: Yarnsub
Yarn Details/properties: Ravelry yarn database

Stitches:

Right side vs wrong side…yes, there is such a thing with crochet toys. End up with the wrong side facing and your whole project will not only look different, possibly be slightly larger and a little distorted, but some stitches simply won’t work to give the desired effect. As you crochet your work will start to curl slightly. It’s important to make sure you curl it so the right side, the side that is facing you from the beginning, stays on the outside of our work.

Stitches for crochet toys need to be tight so that the stuffing doesn’t show or become tempting for little fingers to pull out. You may find the tightness of your stitches changes from day to day. Trying to keep the stitches tight and consistent can take some practise. If you find your stitches are still too loose then try going down a hook size.

Stuffing:

Loosen the stuffing fibres slightly before using to prevent it from having a lumpy appearance.

Keep in mind the shape you have created, where the increases and decreases are is important. Don’t force so much stuffing in that it causes your toy to fight its own shape.

Ensure when working around safety eyes and/or noses, that you don’t push the inside stem of these causing the eye or nose to tilt at a funny angle.

If your toy has a neck, ensure there is adequate stuffing as, over time, this can become a weak spot.

Be careful with arms. If you overstuff the end it will become bulky and this will cause the arms to sit out straight from the body rather than aiming slightly down. Keep this in mind for any other appendage depending on the toy you are creating.

Add your largest piece of stuffing first and then work in smaller wads of stuffing to help give your toy its shape. Use the end of your hook, or even the tip of your scissors (carefully of course) to push the stuffing into the smaller sections.

If your pattern has two pieces with large open ends to be sewn together, always ensure you add extra stuffing before sewing the hole closed. Again, the end of your crochet hook is a handy tool for this.

Compact your stuffing slightly as you go without forcing your crochet toys shape to pull or stretch. Stuffing naturally compacts over time and with continued play so ensuring plenty of stuffing is essential.

Stuffing can have a huge impact on your end result. Too much and it’ll force the stitches apart and allow the stuffing to be seen. Too little and it will quickly compact and your crochet toy will have no shape. It’s important to find a balance.

Sewing:

Sewing requires a wool needle that has a large enough hole to thread your chosen yarn easily and a sharp enough point to be able to slide through your crochet toy without pulling the yarn fibres apart.

Deciding on the best way to sew on attachments can take a bit of practice. It will also depend on the desired look for the completed toy. Ensure the stitches are pulled tight and, if necessary, add in a little extra stuffing before sewing any holes closed. This is especially important for necks to avoid them becoming overly floppy as they are carted around.

Pinning any attachments before sewing is always recommended. Sew once you’re happy with the positioning.

Ensure the attachment is secure. If it’s too loose, it will simply be pulled off over time. Add extra stitches if necessary to ensure a tight bond.

To finish, run your yarn through a few stitches and then pull it through the body of your crochet toy. Pull slightly and cut your yarn close to your work and the end will slip back inside the body of your crochet toy.

Personalising and personality:

Make your crochet toy your own. Alter the colours to suit your tastes. Who says a teddy bear needs to be brown? Moving the positioning of facial details, limbs, etc., can completely alter the appearance of your new friend. Experiment with placement. Using pins to check positioning of appendages before sewing is always a good idea. Add buttons, a crochet flower and a ribbon around a neck, glasses perched on a nose or even some tufts of hair. Enjoy creating something truly unique.

 

Photo Light Box

My crochet critters deserve some better lighting for their photos! I might prefer the dark shadows when it comes to having my photo taken but these little ones need me to get stuck into seeing if I can create some better lit pics! My craft room isn’t the best for taking photos and I wanted something that produced (hopefully) consistent results.

So, to Google I went! I found a heap of easy tutorials and decided to give it a go.
Gathered up all my supplies. Now, as usual when I want to work on something RIGHT THIS MINUTE there was something I couldn’t get! A sheet of white cardboard. Instead I grabbed a light blue and a light pink thinking they would look nice. Tomorrow when the shop has a new supply arriving I’ll head back and grab white but, you know, I’m impatient so on we go…

Took my handy box cutter and cut out the side panels. Easy!

Time to tape on the transparent sheets. I used greaseproof paper as I had it handy and figured if this didn’t work it was no great loss! Turns out greaseproof paper doesn’t like my sticky tape but, after a bit of fiddling, I got it to stick enough. *Note to self: Buy some masking tape!

Cut the backing cardboard to size and, rather then sticky tape it in place (as I do want a white one to go in there), I used some sticky putty pieces to hold it in place. Easy in, easily removed. Awesome!

Well, less then 30minutes from beginning to end. I’m impressed! Now, why did I wait so long to make one?  And then the fun bit…set up!

photo box 6
I bought one new lamp and pulled out my sons study lamp to use too. (It’s ok, he won’t miss it! It wasn’t plugged in anyway! lol)

And testing time!
What do we think?

I now want a bigger box and I’m thinking a third lamp on top wouldn’t hurt either but for now I’m happy…

…and I discovered that a patterned sheet of scrapbook paper fits in this box nicely! We could get quite creative with this I think!

♥Neen

 

Tunisian Crochet

Bag2

So, I’ve had this set of Tunisian crochet hooks that I bought from a shop a couple of years ago! Yes! Years ago! I had seen Tunisian work and had thought I’d love to try it…one day!
Well one day finally came!
I decided to take a break from the normal. It was getting a little tedious and routine anyway. Time to give something new a try.
I started with practising some basic stitches.

Tunisiantry

YouTube and Google were my friend! After a few hours I though ‘I got this!’ and searched Ravelry for an actual project to sink my teeth into.
Now, just starting out I didn’t want to purchase a pattern so I was on the hunt for something relatively easy, useful and, of course, free. I’m a huge fan of free patterns! I appreciate any artist who offers up their time and knowledge to create a pattern and then generously provide it for free so that others can learn!
I found this pattern, Aspen Bag by Amy Depew and decided to give it a go! It was pretty easy to understand and, along with YouTube, I figured everything out. Considering I’d only been dabbling in Tunisian crochet for a day, I was pretty chuffed with my progress!

Progress

And besides, with basic rows like these, once you get the hang of it, it progresses with relative ease!
One thing I discovered about this kind of work is that it curls…a lot! Again…YouTube! I found this helpful video to flatten it and it worked a treat!

T1T2

And with a little bit of stitching at the end it was done! Now, it’s by no means perfect! There are a few boo boos in there but, honestly, I’m thrilled with how it came together.

My first Tunisian crochet project…yes, I’m taking a bow!

Bag3

Little Bo Peep

Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep for a little longer than I had planned…aka life popped up and it’s been busy, busy, busy! But she’s finally done and through testing!
The pattern includes how to make her little sheep and her crook!

Again, because I hate sewing, the arms and legs are crocheted first and worked in with her body! So much easier and a stronger join too! Bonus!
So here she is on Ravelry

Jack O’Lantern

The ‘tradition’ of Halloween has only really started to take off here in Australia over the last few years. I know it’s not every ones cup of tea but that’s life. 🙂 I love the idea of letting the children dress up more so than anything else. Also cooking up something different like Witches Fingers or eyeballs just to hear the kids squeal and squirm in delight as they gobble them down! Haha!

So here is my first Halloween pattern…Jack O’Lantern.

His arms are made first then he’s crocheted from the feet up. Arms are crocheted in with his body as you go. The only real sewing are the top stem on his head and the button on his vest. I think I’ve mentioned before how much I hate sewing pieces together! 😛 Haha!

I hope you enjoy him as much as I do!

Jack1

❤ Neen

How easy was Tat!

Yes, how easy was it to fall in love with tatting?

It’s been a little over a week since I started and I have finally placed an order for some proper tatting needles (insert excited squealy noises here!) I got a little tired of jabbing myself in the finger with the doll needle and I’m enjoying tatting enough to warrant acquiring the necessary tools to progress!

Here are some little pretties I’ve made whilst practicing, along with some ideas for their uses. Hoop arts, headbands, card making, appliques…I’m sure any crafty person could find somewhere to use these little lovelies!

tattingcollage

What a wonderful art tatting is. There are some absolutely stunning pieces out there! I truly hope more take it up so it doesn’t become a craft that is lost!

♥Neen