yarn dyeing…

I don’t know where it came from, my urge to dye yarn.  It is not something I have ever thought of doing until about eight weeks ago; when the thought entered my head and I literally became obsessed with wanting to dye yarn.  Before I knew where I was, I had become the clueless owner of 2 beautiful hanks of bare merino/nylon sock yarn.

yarn dyeingOf course I couldn’t wait for dyes or my preferred mordant of citric acid to be delivered, so I watched a few youtube tutorials which dyed yarn with food colourings and used white vinegar as a mordant and off I went to raid my kitchen cupboards.   I was very disappointed with the resulting consequence, the colours did set, but they were insipid and uninspiring and the white vinegar made everything smell just horrid…for ages!

So, I had to wait for my order of acid dye and citric acid to be delivered.  Oh the excitement when the delivery guy knocked that door!  I tore open the parcel and oohed and aahed at my little bottle of brilliant blue Jacquard acid dye and then went to watch a lot more tutorials, which got me quite confused.  Each tutorial recommended different amounts of mordant and they contradict each other greatly.  I summarised there was no one way to dye yarn and so I decided to just go for it!   I wore a safety mask as you must when dealing with acid dyes…that youtube did agree on! and I carefully noted down everything that I did, to include times and measurements and then I began to dip dye my yarn.  I chose  to dip dye as I wanted to play with the colour a little and because this seemed the simplest technique aside from just dumping the hank into the pot to get a solid colour.

dip dyeing yarn

I enjoyed the whole process immensely, (apologies for the lack of photo’s but it is quite hard to take photo’s when you are dealing with dyes and heat sources, whilst wearing gloves, trying to write the process down and not quite knowing what you are actually doing!) I just love that you  don’t quite know how the dye is going to take to the yarn and how the yarn will look when it’s finished.  There is a definite amount of science to it, but there is a whole lot of artistry and magic involved too!

I was thrilled with the end result too, a beautiful gradient skein of lovliness, in pastel blues.  Some of the bare yarn just peeped through on the paler end, which I really liked…that was the magic bit!  What I was not prepared for was the sheer joy of twisting it into a skein…oh my word, that twist is a beautiful thing!

hand dyed yarn

I added a label and printed some sock patterns out and gifted it to my Mama for  her birthday.

hand dyed yarn

Now I can’t wait to dye some more yarn and try some different techniques.  I have certainly found a new yarn addiction!  It’s really great to try something new isn’t it?

If you have any yarn dyeing tricks and tips please let me know in the comments thread below…I would love to hear them and jot them down in my yarn dyeing journal.

xxxxx

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How to sew on crochet ears…the easy way!

Crochet has had to take a back seat for a little while.  July was and always is a crazy, busy month with end of school stuff!  This year though was particularly busy as my littlest robin left primary school and began getting ready for new adventures in high school.  I won’t regale you with the number of tears I cried…they will always be my babies I know…but I no longer have any babies in the nest.  I now have three secondary schoolers; that are at times  like teenage toddlers and at other times, shaping up to be lovely young men.  What has this got to do with sewing on ears I hear you ask…it hasn’t a thing to do with it, so I will stop waffling and get to the point of this post.  panda baby hats

Sewing on Ears has proved for me to be incredibly time consuming in the past.  Whether I am sewing ears onto a lovely squashy amigurumi or sewing bear ears onto baby hats, my ears…well not my actual ears, but the crochet ears, have ended up being wonky, not in the right position or have ended up looking unequal.  I have found this to be incredibly frustrating; as what I thought would take me 5 minutes has taken me much longer and has caused a number of expletives to fall from my mouth!  That was until I developed a method which has proved to be both accurate and speedy every time and since I don’t have much crochet to show you,  I thought now would be a good time to write this post.

crochet ears

My method is very simple…you just need a balloon, a glass and pins.  With these three items sewing ears onto hats and garments and amigurumi becomes much easier…every time!  Yes, I sew ears onto amigurumi before stuffing and sewing up, using this method and it seems to work really well.  The beauty of using a balloon is that you can blow it up to the exact size required.  You do need to be careful that you don’t prick the balloon with the pin though!

I told you it was simple.

how to sew crochet ears on...the easy way

So there you have it, I hope you find this post useful…do let me know.

xxxxx

My Charming Harbour Blanket is finally finished!

Wow…I have a finished blanket to show you!  You may want to take a seat at this point as it has probably come as quite a shock to you.  It may be even more shocking when I reveal that it has taken me over  18 months to get this stunner finished.

crochet blanket

You can read the original post I wrote way back, when I initially put it on my hook just here.  It has been neglected and unloved for much of that time, which is crazy because I have thoroughly enjoyed hooking every last stitch.   The new owner of this handsome blanket now has it in his possession and I am so thrilled as he always was the intended heritor of this creation.  I am also thrilled that I finished hooking the main body and border of this blanket in and around Brixham Harbour which seemed so fitting as I had named it the Charming Harbour Blanket.

crochet blanket

crochet blanketcrochet blanket

I couldn’t resist adding four enormous pom poms to each corner.  Mr R did not approve…but inside I squealed with delight at those fat poms!

crochet blanket

I love this blanket and I love that it is certain to have more seaside adventures in a happy little camper van…because every camper van needs a little (lot) of crochet!

crochet blanket

Now I’m pretty certain that a finished item equals buying more yarn…right?

xxxxx

Bright and Bold Summer Flowers…pattern news

Do you remember not so long ago I said I had some exciting news to share with you?  Well, I can share that news now…crochet flowers free pattern

 

These are my bright and bold summer flowers and they were featured in Crochetzine, a fabulous online crochet magazine, last month!

  I felt so proud and excited to see my work shared.  Of course I want to share it with you also.  These are great flowers to make from left over snippets, but I think they work best in a cotton yarn, as they hold their shape better.

crochet flowers

 

The pattern is based on hyperbolic crochet, but don’t let that put you off…it is really simple!  I have had so many lovely comments about the bunch I have on my table.  Here’s the  link to Crochetzine, where you will find my pattern.

Do let me know what you think if you make any won’t you?

 

xxxxx

Panda beanies…

One of my lovely crafty friends is having twins…very, very  soon.

I knew I wanted to make her something handmade for the little ones and I knew I wanted to make something panda…ery!

panda hats

I searched lots of sites for panda hats but, I just couldn’t find what I was looking for…surprise, surprise!  There was nothing else I could do but come up with my own version of a panda hat…

and now I am so pleased I did because this is what I came up with

panda baby hats

Just look at those panda eyes…

panda baby hats

I’m not sure if I should write the pattern up or not.  I would need to make a small charge as it would take me some time to work out all the sizes…What do you think?

Should I write up the pattern or not?

Let me know by casting your vote below.

xxxxx

pompom saga…

After counting the votes over on Instagram and reaching a tie breaker…can you believe it!  I decided to pom my hat in neither black nor white.  Instead I found this gorgeous faux fur yarn by James C Brett called Chinchilla.  It is beautifully soft and has the necessary fluffiness you would want and expect.

crochet hat

What do you think? I am really thrilled.

crochet baby hat

It sits on top of this little cotton baby hat with grandeur and the whole hat feels divine.

I have been making a whole host of hats and have swapped cotton (just for a little while) for a beautiful alpaca blend yarn called ‘Leader of the Pac’ it is an aran weight yarn and a dream to hook with.

crochet baby hat

I have hooked quite a pile…

pile of baby hats

I have also discovered another amazing yarn…’Wendy Botanics chunky’.  It is an acrylic yarn and the colourway is simply beautiful.  I have made some more baby hats in this and I couldn’t resist making a ‘Papa and baby’ matching set…just look…

Papa and baby matching hat set

So, you can see I have been busy making and adding to the shelves of my little Etsy shop in preparation for the winter time…although it is Summer here in the UK, I haven’t felt out of place hooking these hats as it has been really very cold and wet here!

What have you been up to?

xxxxx

 

A little crafty…

Hello lovelies, I thought you may like to see what I have been up to lately.  I have been busy crafting and hooking and I have also been busy ignoring my PHD projects in the hope I can convince myself it is ok to start more projects!

I have had this beautiful mustard coloured yarn for a little while and I knew I wanted to make a sweet little beanie for a little head.  I still need to pop on a pom pom to finish it off, I just cant decide whether it should be black or white!

Any thoughts?

crochet beanie

I even had enough left over to make a sweet little headband too…

baby crochet headband

I also made a large beanie for Papa’s birthday,  Mr R made him some domino’s; so his birthday present was a real homemade affair this year.

crochet beanie

The pattern for both the mustard beanie and Papa’s is my own, I just haven’t written it up yet.  I have also done some more embroidery hoop art…this is my favourite one so far…

embroidery hoop art

I also have some very exciting crochet news…but I can’t share that with you just yet, I promise I will do as soon as I am allowed.  So you see I have been quite crafty.  This afternoon though I am just deciding whether I really need this gorgeous shawl in my life and if so what colour yarns I should choose!

sunday relaxing

It’s a long weekend here in the UK, so I can spend some time crafting later and tomorrow too…Have a great week whatever you have planned.

xxxxx

 

 

 

Off Piste…

I said I would pop in and write about some recent makes…so here I am, I hope you are well.  My makes of late have been a little off piste, in that they are not yarny at all!  

Over Easter I had a little time away from work which was just delightful.  The weather was sunny and spring was most definitely flourishing.  The boys were off school too, so our days were lazy and quite carefree.  Amongst the laid back ways, I still had chores and it was whilst ironing of all things that I was overwhelmed with an urge to embroider. 

The urge just fell so heavy upon me whilst ironing an old but beloved blouse of mine.   The material had become thinned in areas and I sadly decided the blouse could no longer be worn.  I loved that blouse and some of the material was still good and this is what sparked my embroidery urge. 

Having never done any embroidery before I happily abandoned the ironing pile and exchanged it for a pinterest exploration and I was gone for several hours.  I gathered supplies and with a fabric sewing pen I sketched out my design.  Between consulting youtube clips and pinterest I ventured on my maiden embroidery voyage.  I loved it, it scratched that creative itch so well, I felt so deeply satisfied. 

I can only show you a little of this make as it is a gift and is still to be gifted. 

I embroidered at every opportunity, I just couldn’t put it down.

I made a second hoop which I can show you, as this has already been gifted.

Oh, how I adore French knots and satin stitching. What do you think?

xxxxx

Amigurumi and CE testing…

Amigurumi and CE testing…that is what I am trying to figure out right now and it’s a sizeable pain in the butt!

  Since hooking up my zebra last summer, I have had people ask me to make their children one…but, I have been hesitant; as in the UK and within Europe toys must by law carry the CE mark.

crochet zebraSo, for a long while I was completely put off the idea of making anymore amigurumi…but, my little zebra is just so delightful that every time I look at him I want to hook another, in a different colour of course.  I also want to hook a giraffe and a bear and all manner of other cute stuffies. 

amigurumi unicorn

So, I have done some research and my brain hurts…it really does.  But, I have found that I can  do my own CE testing…yes, that’s a whole lot cheaper than sending toys of to the lab to be CE tested! 

CE testing also involves science experiments! 

So, I am enlisting the help of my Dad as he is a retired primary school teacher, and hence very thorough and I know he will help make sure my testing is rigorous, which is just what I need.  

crochet zebra

The testing requires two prototypes of each toy, one to test prewash, one to test post washing.  I am finding the thought of making two a bit galling to be honest, as it will use my precious stash…but, I am just going to have to get over that!

The testing is even more vexing to me as I have to set fire to it…let me rephrase that…I have to set fire to my zebra!  If that still doesn’t register with you

I HAVE TO SET FIRE TO MY YARN!!!! TWICE!!!

Yes, I thought that might get your attention…I feel anxious about just typing that, let alone striking the match.  If my prototype survives that, I then have to suspend various weights from it amongst some other things, like checking the materials used are all EN71 compliant.  Of course all this has to be documented properly too.

If anyone knows any better than this or has experience of CE testing or can point me in the right direction, especially on what is required by law to sell toys outside of Europe, I would  really love to chat with you; as I have decided to bite the bullet and will commence testing soon.

But, first I am going to have to make some more amigurumi for the slaughter, as I just can’t bring myself to burn my zebra!

xxxxx

Spring Sale…

baby accessories

Just popping by to let you know that this sale ends tomorrow, so be quick if you fancy a truly special baby blanket.  You can visit my shop by clicking on the photo!

I will pop by again soon to let you know about the other craftiness I have been getting up to that is non shop related…promise.

xxxxx