A special commission

If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know that in August my friend and colleague Darren sadly passed away. When I first started making my little crochet creatures a few months before he died, he asked me to make some personalised toys for his niece and nephew so that he could give them as Christmas presents. He reminded me about it all the time – and made me write down the spellings of their names so I didn’t get them wrong.

Obviously, I wanted to still make them, even though Darren isn’t here to double check my spelling or remind me to do them before I make anything for anyone else!

I’ve just finished the first one and both will be going to his family when they’re finished.

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Once these are safely sent to their new home, I have a few commissions waiting for me – more characters from TV and books to follow on from Octonauts and Gruffalo. It’s a good job I like a challenge…

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Works in progress…

When I first got into crochet, I always did one project at a time, start to finish, before moving on to the next one. I used to wonder how people managed with two, three, four or more projects on the go at once. But now I’ve found out – because I do it myself. There are different types of crochet for different moods, and I’ve got into the habit of having three different makes on the go at once. Repetitive and large projects are good for when I’m tired or watching TV or even reading at the same time. Little amigurumi toys and creatures are good for when I’m concentrating more and feeling imaginative. And then there are in between things too.

I just finished a granny square blanket which has now gone to its new home, where it’s keeping a lovely little baby boy warm and snuggly. I missed having something relaxing and repetitive to work on straight away so have started a triangular scarf in Rowan Fine Lace yarn. I’m following a pattern for once – from Erica Knight’s Crochet Workshop book – and now I’m into it, it’s lovely to work on. It was fiddly at first but I’ve got the hang of it now:

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A few days ago I also picked up the top that I started making back in the spring and then took a long break from. I’ve now finished the front and back and have blocked them ready for joining and adding neckline and sleeves etc:

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I’m also well on the way to finishing my latest bunny person which will be one half of a special two-part set:

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The only trouble with having so many projects is having so little time after I go back to work tomorrow. Remind me to buy a lottery ticket this week…

Two finished projects… A double whammy

Just a quick post tonight ahead of a Sunday in the office tomorrow. There hasn’t been much time for making things this week as work has been super busy, so I’m pleased that I found time today to finish two creations.

Firstly, the granny square blanket I started when my friend Darren died in August is now finished. It’s been a comforting and relaxing thing to make, and once the ends are weaved in and it’s been blocked, it will be winging its way to his baby nephew Elliott.

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I also finished my chunky monkey in a jumper – which I’m really pleased with. He’s been fun to do – a bit complicated but fun. He now belongs to my other half (who has already had far too much fun bending him into all kinds of entertaining and inappropriate poses). Knitwear may feature in future amigurumi creations of mine – I enjoyed getting the needles out again.

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Monkey in a jumper

This week I have picked up my knitting needles for the first time in months. I decided the big monkey I’m making needed a woolly jumper (obviously). And he now has one. But before the jumper, I gave him a heart:

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All he needs now are some legs. Long floppy legs to match his long floppy arms:

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My other half likes this one so much he’s claimed him for his own.

Trying something new

I’m halfway through a good few days off work and lots of crochet has been helping me to unwind and relax.

The blanket I’m making for Darren’s little nephew is growing at a super fast rate now I’m really into it, and it’s not far off being complete:

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But I like a bit of variety so I wanted to get cracking on a few new bits and pieces as well. With my bunny person pattern now released into the wild (in this month’s Inside Crochet magazine), I wanted to do something slightly different. I have a full set of Clover Amour hooks but have never used the smallest ones in the set – so I fancied doing something with finer yarn. Same goes for the bigger ones in the set, which need chunkier yarn.

So one trip to John Lewis at Cribbs Causeway later, and I had a lovely bag full of beautiful colours of Rowan Siena 4 ply and Rowan Softknit Cotton. I know Rowan’s expensive, but it’s nice to treat yourself every once in a while:

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So this evening, with a 2.5mm hook, I’ve started making a little blue amigurumi monkey. You probably can’t tell from the picture but it’s quite a bit smaller than my usual characters… And I’ve enjoyed working with different yarn.

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Tomorrow I’m going to make a bigger, snugglier creature with the chunky cotton. Little and large.

My first published pattern – in Inside Crochet this month

When I first started crocheting back in November, I never thought I’d design anything myself. So I was super excited this week to see my first original pattern in print in the latest issue of the gorgeous Inside Crochet magazine. It landed on the doormat on Friday – something to make me smile on a real day of mixed emotions. Friday was a sad day because my lovely friend and colleague Darren was laid to rest. Such a surreal and difficult day, but one which ended with dancing into the night with good friends and brilliant workmates – a send-off Darren would have loved.

This week has been a busy one, with long days at work and a weekend in the office too, but I have managed to keep my hands and mind busy with plenty of crochet too. I finished the latest in my little collection of people dressed in animal suits, and have made lots of progress on the granny square blanket I’m making. Since I started it as something therapeutic to make when Darren passed away, it will be going to his little nephew Elliott, who was just 10 weeks old when Darren was taken ill. I’m so glad it’s going to a good home.

Here’s the week in pictures…

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A day of finishing things (and starting others)

This weekend I have three lovely days off work so I’ve been catching up with a couple of projects that needed finishing. I’ve been close to finishing my quilt for a week or so but sewing the binding with my mini sewing machine was proving tough. It’s for ‘light’ fabrics only so it didn’t like battling through one layer of binding, one of cotton, the wadding and a layer of flannel all in one go. I also took up a pair of jeans on Friday night and two layers of denim was almost impossible. So I bit the bullet and bought a new sewing machine yesterday. I’ve only upgraded from the red John Lewis Mini to the blue John Lewis full size model, but it’s a lot better. The mini was a great starter machine, but it was definitely time to upgrade.

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So with my shiny new sewing machine, I whizzed through the remaining binding (before hand sewing it on the other side to hide the machine stitching from the first side). I’m really happy with it – one of the most satisfying projects I’ve done. It’s taken a while but it was nice dipping in and out of it a bit at a time. I will almost miss working on it – but I’ll love curling up under it. Here it is modelled by my other half…

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…and by me:

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When the quilt was done, I started making some cushion covers (purely as an excuse to use my sewing machine some more:

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Today I also finished off this previously armless bunny:

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Making things is therapeutic

It’s been more than a week since I last blogged – and it’s been a week in which I’ve been hiding away and finding a little solace in quietly making things.

A week ago today, a very good friend and work colleague of mine passed away after suddenly being taken ill. I spent hours and hours with Darren, day after day, and I never met a more committed and passionate journalist who was so much a part of the fabric of the newspaper he worked for. His heart and soul flowed through every page he worked on. Aside from his unique talent for designing eye-catching and bold front pages, he had a wicked sense of humour and bucket loads of compassion for those around him. I always knew Darren had my back and I hope he knew I had his too. There is a huge Darren-shaped hole at the heart of our newsroom. But I work with a truly lovely bunch of people who have shown a huge amount of support, friendship and professionalism over the past week – and I know we’ll continue to pull each other through while times are tough.

So in the sadness of the past week, I have been taking comfort in making a quilt AND a blanket. I’m sure Darren would have laughed at my granny-like choice of projects, and he liked to wind me up by calling it ‘croquet’ instead of crochet, but it’s kept me busy. I’m finishing the last bit of binding on my quilt and am using up lots of unwanted baby cashmerino yarn to make a somewhat garish multicoloured granny square blanket…

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I am looking forward to curling up under them both.

Two down, a few to go…

Just a quick update tonight – I’m working this weekend so not much time to crochet, sadly. But I have managed to finish the little girl in a kitty cat outfit – complete with whiskers and curly tail.

I love the colour of this one – think I might find it hard to part with when the time comes.

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She makes a nice little friend for the blue bear…

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