Hi folks! I hope you are all safe, well and happy. We are still in lockdown 3 here in the UK – but as I write this, the use of the first vaccines are being rolled out so we can feel that glimmer of hope and optimism. But in the meantime we can just hope to find some time to settle down with some crochet – and if you are looking for something new then you might want to check out the latest issue of Crochet Now magazine.
Issue 64 is out now with a range of ‘windswept’ themed projects including blankets, wall hangings and a new little amigurumi from me.
Meet Petrok the Puffin! He’s a short and stocky little fellow with a fondness for herring and playtime. His bright beak and pretty spearmint plumage always turn the heads of his other puffin pals.
The spearmint plumage was actually made with Paintbox Cotton DK, which is lovely yarn to work with, and a 3.25mm hook. I used six colours of Paintbox Cotton DK in total to create Petrok, but there was a fair bit left of the 50g balls so there would be enough to make a couple of puffins if you wished to.
I love the opportunity to create something new and a puffin was actually a creature that I had on my list that I wanted to make at some point. It’s also a bird I’ve always wanted to see in real life, they just have such a cute appearance.
The beautiful Isles of Scilly is one of only a handful of sites in the UK where you can go puffin spotting. Back in 2005 we had a holiday there which turned into rather a momentous trip as Mr KCACO.UK asked me to marry him.
Whilst we were there we went on a sea safari boat trip, from St Mary’s, to see if we could spot a glimpse of the elusive bird. Unfortunately we didn’t! We saw seals and gannets, but no puffins – so it’s still on the bucket list!
I think I say it every year that one of my favourite things to make are Christmas decorations, and it’s become somewhat of a tradition that I create a new free tree ornament pattern for you to enjoy too. This year I’ve gone a bit non-traditional but still fun – it’s a Christmas Mushroom!
Well actually it’s probably a Christmas toadstool but I’ve been singing Christmas mushroom to myself in my head so I’m afraid that title has stuck.
Apparently the red and white speckled fungi are known in German as gluckspilz which literally means ‘lucky mushroom’ which I really like and I think we can all do with a little luck to get past 2020 don’t you!
I’ve added a little twine to the top of my mushrooms so they can hang from the tree, but you could easily incorporate them into a wreath hanging on your door or even as part of a holiday table centrepiece.
They also don’t have to be just red, I experimented, because I got a little bit addicted to making mushrooms, with a few different colours – so you could match your fungi to your own decor.
Last year you may remember that I made a little Christmas bell tree decorations (FREE pattern here) with some Anchor CraftsCreativa Fino from my stash. I really like Creativa Fino to work with, it’s a nice firm mercerised cotton which I think works particularly well for amigurumi and ornaments like this one so that’s what I’ve used this year too.
The following Christmas Mushroom Tree Ornament pattern is free here on the blog but it’s also available in my Ravelry store, LoveCrafts or Etsy store, where there is a nominal fee for a downloadable PDF pattern if you’d prefer.
The pattern is available in both UK and US crochet terminology via the PDF download; the pattern below is written just in UK terms.
Pattern will work in other hooks and yarns though finished size will be different.
Hook: 3mm (US size D/3)
You will also need:
Small amount of toy stuffing
Length of twine for hanging loop
Gauge: 5dc = 2.5cm / 1 inch
Obtaining the correct gauge is not critical to this project but if your gauge does not match then your finished item will be a different size.
Finished Size: 9cm / 3.5 inches
ABBREVIATIONS: UK Terminology
st sl slip stitch
dc double crochet
dc2tog double crochet two together
htr half treble
Slip Stitch (sl st): Insert hook in st indicated, yarn over and draw through all loops.
Double Crochet (dc): Insert hook in st indicated and draw up a loop (two loops on hook), yarn over, draw through both loops on hook.
Double Crochet (dc2tog): Insert hook in st indicated and pull up a loop (two loops on hook), insert hook in next st, yarn over, pull up a loop, yarn over, pull through three loops on hook.
Half treble (htr): Yarn over, insert hook in indicated st and pull up a loop (three loops on hook), yarn over, pull through all three loops on hook.
Magic ring:is also known as a Drawstring Ring or Magic Loop and is often used as a start for working amigurumi. If you are not familiar with this technique you could substitute with a ch2 and then work in the second ch from the hook.
Working in the round: This pattern is worked in the amigurumi style (unless specified), in a spiral without slip stitching or turning chains
Working in the Back or Front Loop Only (BLO / FLO): If you hold your piece of crochet in front of you with the Vs of the stitch on top, the part of the V closest to you is the front loop. The part of the V farther away from you on the opposite side is the back loop. When a pattern asks you to crochet into the back loop or front loop only insert your hook into the relevant loop and crochet as instructed.
Top of Mushroom
Rnd 1: With YARN A; working into a magic ring, 6dc. 6sts
Note: Do not pull magic ring too tight as you will thread some twine through the centre.
Rnd 2: [2dc] around. 12sts
Rnd 3: [1dc, 2dc] around. 18 sts
Rnd 4: Dc around.
Rnd 5: [1dc in next 2sts, 2dc] around. 24sts
Rnds 6-9: Dc around.
Rnd 10: [1dc in next 3sts, 2dc] around. 30sts
Fasten off YARN A with a sl st to the next st and weave in ends.
With YARN C embroider some spots on to your mushroom top
Create a hanging loop from twine and thread the loop through the centre of your magic ring with a knot to secure.
Underside of Mushroom
Rnd 11: Attach YARN B to the BLO of any st; [1dc in next 3sts, dc2tog] around. 24sts
Start to stuff, continue to stuff as you go.
Rnd 12: [1dc in next 2sts, dc2tog] around. 18sts
Rnd 13: [1dc, dc2tog] around. 12sts
Rnd 14: [dc2tog] to end. 6sts
Fasten off and use yarn tail to sew up the last 6sts
Rnd 1: With YARN A; working into a magic ring, 8dc. 8sts
Rnd 2: [2dc] around. 16sts
Rnds 3-5: Dc around.
Rnd 6: [1dc in next 2sts, dc2tog] around. 12sts
Start to stuff the mushroom stalk; continue to stuff as you go
Rnds 7-9: Dc around.
Rnd 10: [1dc in next 2sts, dc2tog] around. 9sts
Rnd 11: Dc around.
Rnd 12: BLO; Dc around.
Rnds 13-14: Dc around.
Fasten off with a sl st to the next st but leave a long yarn tail.
Rnd 15: Attach YARN C to the FLO; of rnd 12; ch2, 2htr in same st, 3htr in each st around until end, sl st to the beginning ch2 to join. Fasten off and weave in ends.
Stitch the mushroom stalk onto the bottom centre of the mushroom top.
Winter is well and truly here now and it’s the perfect time to snuggle up with a crochet magazine or two! And if you are looking for a wonder-ful project, then I might just have some for you in the latest edition of Crochet Now magazine.
You have just been able to spy a couple of them on the bottom of the cover of Issue 63! Anyone here a fan of Alice in Wonderland? It was one of my favourite books as a child and I think I wore out our VHS of the Disney movie, so it was such a delight for me to have the opportunity to design The Wonderland Gang!
The Wonderland Gang are made up of four of the classic Alice in Wonderland characters. First we have Alice ready to meet all kinds of curious creatures! And what would Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland be without the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat!
Now you can tumble down the rabbit hole with this charming set of Lewis Carroll’s famous characters and create an all-new amigurumi adventure.
For Alice and friends I used some of my favourite Ricorumi DK yarn with a 3.25mm hook which comes in the cutest 25g balls which is perfect for making these little multicoloured amigurumi characters.
I couldn’t resist having a little Wonderland photo shoot of my own! And whilst I love all the characters, I have a special place in my heart for The White Rabbit, in fact my eldest daughter has said I need to make her one!
Alice in Wonderland is one of those books that have remained enduringly popular with readers old and young, and these much loved characters are perfect for Wonderland fans and book loving family and friends everywhere.
Issue 63 is packed full of 41 patterns for crocheters of all abilities and it’s all about snuggling up with some frosty-inspired crochet makes such as blankets and wall hangings.
Sometimes when you do work for magazines designs get shuffled round to fit a particular issue and that’s happened to me just recently and has meant I actually have THREE designs in the latest edition of Crochet Now magazine.
You might just be able to spy one of them on the bottom of the cover of Issue 62 – it’s Pusheen! If you aren’t familiar with Pusheen she’s a tubby little kitty that was created back in 2010 as a comic strip and has since taken the world by storm in sticker sets on social media platforms.
We are big fans of Pusheen in this house so I was delighted to be given the opportunity to create her in crochet. As it was for a festive issue of the magazine I even got to give her a teeny tiny Christmas hat!
For Pusheen I used some of my favourite Ricorumi DK yarn with a 3mm hook which, as it has lots of colours to choose from, had the perfect ‘Pusheen’ type shades I was looking for.
I have to say I’ve seen some of the Pusheen’s you have been making from the magazine, from tags on social media, and it’s been an absolute delight! They have all turned out so cute! I hope you have enjoyed making her as much as I enjoyed designing her.
Issue 62 is all about getting your crochet hook moving and working on those last-minutegifts for friends and loved ones. There’s lots of quick gifts including a chunky stocking from me.
As it’s made with really thick yarn you can whip up this fabulously chunky stocking in no time. I used King Cole Timeless Super Chunky with a both a 8mm hook and a 9mm hook. The finished stocking works up at about 50cm long x 21cm wide so plenty of room to fit in presents!
Last but not least I have a wreath pattern in Issue 62. Have you ever crocheted around wire? Well for the Frosted Flowers Wreath that’s what I did to create a delicate wreath which you could have to suit your own home decor this Christmas.
To create the flowers I used DMC Natura Just Cotton with a 3mm hook and some florist (or it’s also used with sugarcrafts) green wire. There are some guidance photos on how to incorporate the wire with your crochet in the magazine, it can be a bit fiddly but once you get into the rhythm of joining them together it get’s easier.
I think 2020 is definitely going to be the year of the shawl for me! Today I’ve got my third shawl release of this year to share with you – and it’s a design that was definitely born from the current pandemic situation we find ourselves facing together.
The Sweet Sighs Shawl, which is out now in Issue 60 of Crochet Now magazine, is a lovely easy shawl that includes elements of repetition and texture to help you exhale from the stresses of the day!
I think I mentioned before that lately I’ve really enjoyed working on patterns that I can easily memorise, where I can just get lost in the stitches, and I can just make. That’s totally what this shawl allows you to do, it’s perfect for a bit of mindful stitching, while watching TV or listening to music, podcasts or audiobooks – just simply hook away, relax and unwind!
To make things as easy as possible I’ve designed the Sweet Sighs Shawl to work with any of those beautiful yarn cakes that lots of different yarn companies produce. I do so love a yarn cake, there’s something so satisfying about them don’t you think, and this shawl, including the fun tassels, just takes up one 150g / 435m ball.
For my shawl I used one ball of King Cole Curiosity which was actually a new yarn for me. It’s 100% Premium Acrylic yarn that comes in a varied range of different shades. I used Ocean which, as you can probably imagine from the name, was a stripy cake of variegated marled blues and whites.
The days are definitely starting to get cooler now, and shawls are such a great thing to have as an autumn accessory as they are so versatile. I like to wear mine looped around my neck like a scarf, but depending on the vibe you are going for you could style it in a few different ways – and I love to see the blue of this shawl teamed up with jeans!
If you’ve not heard about Granny Square day before it’s an international online celebration on instagram which this year falls on Saturday 15 August 2020.
Granny Square Day was started 6 years ago by US crocheter Susan Regalia, who recognised that Instagram’s grid format could be used to replicate the block arrangement of a classic granny square blanket online.
Others soon joined in the fun and Granny Square Day was born! Simply Crochet magazine then took over the reins of Granny Square day in 2015.
This year, to coincide with the 100th edition of Simply Crochet magazine, the magazine put together a special supplement of 100 granny square designs which featured some fabulous patterns by some awesome designers – and I’m really excited to say that you can find three new granny square blocks by me.
For the granny square purists out there I tried to feature some of the customary granny square clusters in each of the designs. Though what I wanted to do was play on the traditional and come up with something fresh and new.
The blocks range in skill level too from the more simple to getting a bit more involved so there’s something for every skill level.
The first design is the closest to a traditional granny square, it’s called ‘Summer Lawn’ and features classic granny treble (double) crochet clusters with a bit of surface crochet for a fun summery square.
The next design is called ‘Heritage’ and my inspiration for this one was actually Minton tiles. Mintons was a major company in Staffordshire pottery who founded his factory in Stoke-upon-Trent back in 1793 – there’s lots of places still locally where you can see examples of his tiles.
I wanted to create a timeless looking block that would look good in a variety of different colours to complement all types of interiors – just as the tiles were designed to do.
And finally I designed the ‘Casablanca’ square which in my head is a romantic unisex type of block. I was really pleased with how this one came out – it could certainly have been inspired by an upscale club in a moroccan city don’t you think! Here’s looking at blue kid 😜
To me granny squares are nothing to do with ‘grandmas’ – they are just a super fun way to show how fun and versatile crochet can be! There’s something for everyone in the Simply Crochet squares and motifs supplement from more traditional looking squares to modern contemporary designs.
I used Rico Ricorumi for these blocks which is a DK (Light Worsted) weight 100% cotton yarn that I had in my stash, but the designs would work equally well in other fibres and yarn weights to make bigger or smaller blocks.
Simply Crochet issue 100 is available in most supermarkets and newsagents and digitally at www.pocketmags.com.
You can read more about it over on the Simply Crochet Magazine’s blog but it’s really easy to get involved (as long as you have an Instagram account). Just take a photo of your granny square and crop the photo so it fits the full square shape of an instagram post and use the hashtag #grannysquareday2020.
Your square will then be added to the virtual blanket! To see the blanket, search #grannysquareday2020– you will need to be viewing in Instagram’s standard three-wide format to get the full effect. Or use hashtag #grannysquaremakes2020 for any granny square general photos.
If you hook up any of the squares I hope you’ll share your photos with me on social media (facebook, twitter or instagram) or as a project on Ravelry – I love to see what you make!
Until next time folks! Happy hooking and keep calm and crochet on my friends xx
You may have noticed I’ve been on a bit of a shawl and wrap designing kick recently, they are one of my favourite things, aside amigurumi, to make! I just love how many different combinations you can come up with to make something new – the possibilities are endless!
So I really enjoyed creating a new wrap for Issue 58 of Crochet Now magazine which incorporates four different stitches – allow me to introduce Summer Wrapsody…
This shawl was designed with sunny days in mind! It’s perfect to wrap around your shoulders to shelter from a cool sea breeze or to see you through a summer wedding or garden party pinned up with a sparkly brooch (though sadly the latter option might have to wait for a while). I’m loving the combination of yellows teamed with the blue in the magazine styling – so summery!
Summer Wrapsody is a classically shaped rectangular wrap that combines lace panels with solid sections to create a shawl that is lightweight yet cosy when it needs to be. It’s the perfect project to be worked on in summer in gradient yarn for a fun ombre effect, and is a nice mindful project mingled with different stitches for interest.
I do so love a Scheepjes Whirl! And that’s what I used for Summer Wrapsody in the lovely yellow shades of Daffodil Dolally (Shade 551) combined with a Scheepjes Whirlette in Ice (Shade 860) – but there are so many different combinations you could make this wrap in.
And this would make a super holiday project as you only need to take 2 balls of yarn with you to get a complete wrap – perfect for a bit of crochet project packing!
I do so love this wrap and I hope you will like it too. I think it’s a super easy way to ‘wrap’ up a chic summer look!
Issue 56 of Crochet Now magazine is out now and nestled amongst lots of lovely designs is a new pattern from me which is quite possibly one of my favourite shawl designs I’ve ever made! Allow me to introduce the Pelagia Shawl!
My inspiration for the shawl pattern was a bloom of jellyfish moving through shimmering water. Last year our family went on holiday to Anglesey and there was a beach there where the sea was just filled with jellyfish – I’ve never seen so many!
It was a design that, in my opinion, truly came to life when taken from the page and was crocheted up in the gorgeous Scheepjes Stardust yarn.
I’m already a fan of Scheepjes Stardust yarn, you may remember I used it for the Shining Light Wedding Wrap (get the free pattern here). It’s a soft and gentle blended yarn of mohair, wool, acrylic and polyester metallic thread. The yarn does have a halo around it, but it’s not super fluffy, and it feels nice and luxurious without it being too costly.
You can’t really see it on the photos but the yarn contains fine sparkling fibers that add an elegant shimmer when they catch the light – my inner magpie is in love with them. Aside from the sparkle and the light airy feel of the yarn I love the fact that it’s also soft without being scratchy like some sparkle yarns can be. I don’t think it will be the last time I use Scheepjes Stardust yarn!
It’s classed as a DK weight (Light Worsted / Sport Weight) and I’d say it’s definitely on the finer side of that spectrum, but I’ve found a 3.5mm (US size E/4) hook works perfectly to create the stitches and drape I was looking for.
For this design I chose Virgo (Shade 664), which is a gradient yarn with ranges from darkish almost maroon colour, through to white, with all blended pink shades in between. I wouldn’t normally class myself as a ‘pink’ person but this is a really pretty colourway and was just spot on for what I had envisaged.
Everytime I look at this shawl I just fall in love with it again! I hope you all will like it too. It’s such a light and airy shawl, with that lovely subtle hint of sparkle, which I think would integrate perfectly with any modern wardrobe.
Issue 55 of Crochet Now magazine is out now and I’ve got a brand new pattern inside that I’m quite in love with! Allow me to introduce the Pomtastic Tassel Basket! It’s a fabulously large basket, complete with pompoms and tassels for a fun finish, that’s perfect for storing lots of yarn in!
One of my favourite things to make is a basket; as a person who just seems to accumulate a lot of ‘stuff’ I just find it so satisfactory to be able to make storage solutions! I wanted this design to be a nice large basket so it’s got a circumference of 107cm and a height of 29cm – which means there’s more than enough room to hold all of your yarn for a big project.
I used Stylecraft Classique Cotton DK in four different colours (Wheat, Shrimp, Apricot and Fuchsia) combined with Ecru Stylecraft Craft Cotton (DK) worked doubled with a 5.5mm hook. It may seem that a 5.5mm hook is quite small for working two lots of double knit, but I was aiming for a nice tight fabric.
It was my first time working with Stylecraft Classique Cotton DK but I really like it, I think there’s about 30 odd different shades, so lots of choices to come up with some fun and modern colour combinations.
The large pom poms and tassels on the sides worked really well in the cotton too – I think it was my first time making either tassels or pom poms in cotton rather than acrylic!
With this design I also tried to overcome the challenge of having the basket become too floppy – which can happen when you are trying to make a larger basket. The key to a good basket, I’ve found, is having a sturdy base. This foundation is then and it’s supported by working in double stranded cotton with a nice tight stitch pattern which helps the sides stand up on their own.
Crochet Now is available in supermarkets and online from CraftStash and you can also read Crochet Now digitally at www.pocketmags.com and it comes with a pom pom and tassel maker – perfect for if you want to get making the basket!
If you are reading this in real time then if you’ve received a parcel recently then you’ve probably had to put it in quarantine due to Covid-19. It’s a very strange (but needed) thing to do, and it actually led to exciting ‘opening’ anticipation – because I signed up for my very first fibre swap experience.
I’ve never tried a yarn swap before so thought I’d try one as an experiment; the one I chose to go with for my first time is called WoolSwap. I’d heard about WoolSwap through Dear Ewe (as we’d signed up to give a discount for woolswappers) and thought it looked really fun.
If you are unfamiliar with yarn-swapping programmes in a nutshell you pay a fee to be part of a swap, you are paired with someone, and then you swap your yarn. The fee part is there to help cover anyone that doesn’t end up getting a present for whatever reason, so I didn’t mind paying that, plus it’s all organised for you. Through the swap you get the opportunity to meet someone new, and get a fun yarny present in return.
As it was a trial run for me I signed up to the small package deal which was $8.00 / £6.45 with a minimum of 100g yarn to swap. Then you wait for your match with the person you are sending to being the person you will also receive from.
My match could have been anyone in the UK (though I chose to keep just to the UK this time rather than worldwide) and I had to laugh as I was paired with the lovely Jane who lives about 13 miles away from me.
I got a little bio about her from the Woolswap team, with her details, which gave me some details of the sorts of things she liked. She said that she was a crocheter (which was good for me!), that she liked greens and purples and she’d love some heavier weight yarns as she had a lot of sock yarns already in her stash.
Although the minimum was to send 100g you could decide on an amount to send each other, and we chatted a bit over Instagram before we made the initial swap. That was the only thing I found tricky, not the talking to Jane (who seems lovely), but I would have loved for things to have been a bit more specific, only because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone, and I was a bit unsure how things were supposed to be with it being my first swap.
What I sent
I totally forgot to take a photo of what I sent Jane, as I wanted to get things sent off, but I decided to go with ‘green’ as my theme (as I do so love a theme). I sent 500g in total in all DK and Aran weights including: 2 x West Yorkshire Spinners Aran – Aire Valley in Mojito and one of the same brand in a corresponding solid green called Emerald. I thought 300g would be enough to make a good shawl or small lap blanket.
I also sent a 100g skein of Cascade 220 Superwash DK called Heather’s just because it’s called ‘Heathers’! I chose a gorgeous green called Forest Heather (and I may have treated myself to some Heather yarn for myself too -ooopss!) and a 100g skein of hand dyed DK yarn by the fabulous indie dyer Siobhan Crafts which I want to say was called OOAK mermaid (but I could be wrong).
And as little gifts I sent her some Dear Ewe goodies including a WIP project bag, as I thought it would be a handy place to put her new yarn, some WIP project cards, for all her new projects with her new yarn, and some of the yarn lovers prop cards, for photo opportunities once she has made some lovely things from her new yarn.
What I received
When my box came out of quarantine I was super excited to finally open it, I even did an unboxing on IGTV filmed by my lovely 9 year old. Yarnwise I received 2 x 50g of Hobbycraft ‘Catch a Wave’ yarn which I’ve never tried before, I got 2 x little 10g yarn and colors mini’s to try (green & purple), which again I’ve never used before and a 25g ball of White Ricorumi which I use a lot so that will come in handy.
I was also gifted 2 hand dyed mini skeins which I think were both from Mothy and the Squid; one is a 20g which is variegated reds with black flecks called ‘Red Octopus’ and the other looks to be 10g mini that is orange with black flecks (this one I couldn’t see a label, though I might have thrown it away by accident in my opening frenzy). I’ve always wanted to make an amigurumi in hand dyed yarn and these might be fun to use for that with them just being little amounts – maybe I should take inspiration from the yarn name and make an octopus!
Then the pièce de résistance in terms of yarn was an absolutely gorgeous 100g skein of RiverKnits hand-dyed yarn called ‘Mermaid’ which is a Superwashed Blue Faced Leicester yarn. I recently purchased from Provence Crafts the Positivity Spiral Cowl as part of #OperationSJW and because it’s gorgeous. It uses 100g so I think I’ll use that to make the cowl, and it seems highly appropriate as if you’ve ever watched Faye’s Crochet Circle Podcast you will know she’s a big fan of RiverKnits yarn.
The rest of the parcel was filled with fun little knick knacks including; a little crochet cactus amigurumi, Clipper organic sleep easy tea bags, a grey faux fur pom, some Easter Caramel Shortcake bits, a little cactus print mini project bag, some mini Little Box of Crochet pattern books and goodies, some stitch markers, some crochet hooks, mini notebooks and pen and a thriller book.
All the gifts were beautifully wrapped, with little handmade messages on, so it felt like Christmas! Jane also sent a gorgeous handmade felted scene card which was beautiful.
Final thoughts on Woolswap
I really enjoyed the whole WoolSwap experience. I had great fun putting together a parcel for my swap partner, and have a little more ideas of things I could include in future swaps. It’s been a great way to get to know new people as Jane and I chatted about other things other than the swap including kids in lockdown. And aside from the fun of just receiving a gift / parcel just for me, it’s been really fun to receive yarn that I’ve never tried before.
All in all it’s been a very positive experience and a fibre swap is something I will definitely consider doing again in the future. Have you done fibre swaps before? How was your experience? Would you recommend any particular one you’ve tried? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Until next time folks! Happy hooking, keep calm and crochet on my friends xx