Crochet Book Review | 9 Months to Crochet by Maaike van Koert


Disclaimer: This book / pattern is one I have purchased (or used) for my own benefit.  I have not been financially compensated by the book company or the designer to write this review. All opinions expressed are my own and based on my own experiences of using the book / pattern.


As you know the KCACOUK household celebrated a new addition to our household last year and as a result I became a little obsessed for awhile with  crochet for babies.  The book I’m reviewing today, 9 months to Crochet by Maaike Van Koert, came out a little late for me to use whilst actually pregnant (as first published in 2017) but it’s many gorgeous designs really appealed to me. 

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What a great concept for a book! I actually got back into crochet when I was pregnant with Little G in 2010 as I was overcome with the urge to make something for her – I wish this book had been around then as it would have been perfect.  

Before I get onto the crochet patterns inside I just want to talk a little about the design of the actual book.  I just love the arrangement of these patterns! The corners of the front cover and all the pages have been creatively rounded which suggests a softness to the book before you even open it. Then once inside beautiful little nursery animal illustrations accompany the text and photos throughout which is a nice touch.

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The book is split into each trimester with twenty-five projects in total. And the projects are grouped into three levels; beginner, intermediate and experienced – but all of the patterns are very doable!

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From baskets, shawls, blankets, toys and lovely cushions the book is filled with charming nursery designs for boys or girls and new mums to be.

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The patterns are written in UK crochet terminology but the book also includes some excellent instructions (in the back of the book) with accompanying photos for basic stitches and techniques used.

I decided I wanted to make the cute ball rattle in bright rainbow hues for Little Miss.  I used Drops Cotton Paris which is one of my favourite cottons. It’s a 10 ply / aran / worsted 100% Cotton which is machine washable (so perfect for baby) and comes in a varied range of colours including some great brights for rainbow making! 

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The pentagon motif, that makes up the ball, is quick and straightforward to hook up and nicely repetitive so easy to remember – great for hooking whilst watching your favourite TV show.  

I was really pleased with how my final ball turned out; just perfect for little hands…

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and Little Miss has certainly enjoyed playing with her new rattly ball.

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My verdict is that this is a wonderful little book for expectant  mums, new mothers or anyone that wants to hook something up for a newborn babe.

Well until next time; keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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Crochet Short Story Competition | The Woolly Writer


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Are you an avid writer and reader and perhaps have an aspiring dream to see yourself in print? Fancied writing fiction but never had the confidence to give it a go? Love crochet and/or knitting? Well now you can combine both passions by entering Let’s Get Crafting Magazine’s annual short story competition – The Woolly Writer.

Entering is easy! You just have to pick a starting sentence from those below:

  • A) She slowly turned the ball of bright red yarn over in her hands, imagining all the wonderful things she could make, but before she could pop it into her basket, she felt a tapping on her shoulder…
  • B) The noise of the circus faded as he entered the mystic’s tent, and the only audible sounds were his laboured breathing and the click-clacking of the strange woman’s knitting needles…
  • C) No ordinary couple would admit to meeting at a knitting club, but Shaun and Carolyn were no ordinary couple…

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They open up a world of possibilities right! From the starting sentence you then have to write a 1000 word story (which is roughly around two sheets of A4 paper). For inspiration you can read last year’s two runner-up entries here and here.

First prize is a yarn bundle from Cygnet, a £100 Search Press voucher, and a one year subscription to Let’s Get Crafting. The two runners-up prizes are a £50 Search Press voucher for each winner.  The winning story will also be published in Issue 95 of the magazine, on sale 28th September 2017, as well as on the topcrochetpatterns.com website!

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Deadline for entries is 14th August 2017. Click here for more details and the entry form.

Until next time; keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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Amigurumi Tin Can | FREE Crochet Pattern


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Last Friday my husband and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary (Yay us!). Ten years in my book is a bit of a big achievement so as a gift I splashed out and bought us both a pampering spa day with afternoon tea to look forward to later in the year (and I’m soooo looking forward to that already!) However usually on our anniversary I like to try and find something based on the traditional wedding anniversary gift list. 

Ten years is ‘tin’ and I looked around but I couldn’t find anything I thought was right. Then I had an idea! And so the following pattern was thus designed as a quirky and unique little gift to play on the ‘tin’ theme. 

My husband has a good sense of humour so he thought it was funny and I thought some of you might enjoy it too so I’ve written it up as a free pattern.

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As well as well as having the potential to become a tin full of love this amigurumi would make fun play food item for little ones – I can’t wait to see what variations you come up with!

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Add the Amigurumi Tin Can Pattern to your 💗 Favourites and Ravelry Queue  or your LoveCrochet.com projects where you can also get an no-ad PDF version of just the pattern for only £1.00 / $1.25 or for a print friendly version of this page please scroll to the bottom of this post and click on the Print & PDF button. 

Amigurumi Tin Can:

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Yarn: Small amounts of the following Drops Cotton Light used in photos:

  • YARN A – Pearl Grey (Shade 31)
  • YARN B – Turquoise (Shade 14)
  • YARN C – Black (Shade 20)
  • YARN D – Yellow (28)
  • YARN E – White (Shade 02)

Hook: 3 mm (or 3.25mm)  / US size D

Materials:

Stitch markers, yarn needle, polyester toy stuffing, 2 x circles of cardboard or polythene (7cm diameter), embroidery thread (optional), heart button (optional)

Size: 12cm high / 4.7 inches

Gauge: 4dc/sc = 2.5cm / 1inch

Establishing the correct gauge is not critical to this pattern. Pattern will work in other yarns though gauge/size will be different.

Abbreviations: 

  • st(s) = stitch(es)
  • sp = space
  • sl st = slip stitch
  • ch(s) = chain  
  • dc/sc= UK double / US single crochet
  • FLO – Front Loop Only
  • BLO – Back Loop Only

Stitch Guidance:

  • Slip Stitch (sl st): Insert hook in st indicated, yarn over and pull through all loops.
  • Double Crochet/Single Crochet (dc/sc): Insert hook in st indicated and pull up a loop (two loops on hook), yarn over, pull through both loops on hook.
  • Front Loop Only (FLO): Insert your hook underneath the front loop of the stitch only and make the stitch as indicated.
  • Back Loop Only (BLO): Insert your hook underneath the back loop of the stitch only and make the stitch as indicated.

Pattern:

Tin Lid (Make 2):

One will make the top of the tin, one will form the bottom;

Rnd 1: With YARN A make a magic ring, work 6dc/sc into ring. 6sts

Rnd 2: (2dc/sc) to last st. 12sts

Rnd 3: (1dc/sc, 2dc/sc) to last st. 18sts

Rnd 4: (1dc/sc in next 2sts, 2dc/sc) to last st. 24sts

Rnd 5: (1dc/sc in next 3sts, 2dc/sc) to last st. 30sts

Rnd 6: (1dc/sc in next 4sts, 2dc/sc) to last st. 36sts

Rnd 7: (1dc/sc in next 5sts, 2dc/sc) to last st. 42sts

On the first lid fasten off and weave in ends, on the second lid DO NOT fasten off, continue to Tin Body.

Cut out two circles of cardboard/polythene the same size as the tin lid ready for the tin body.

Tin Body:

Working from the bottom of the tin upwards;

Rnd 8: FLO; 1dc/sc to last st. 42sts

Fasten off and weave in ends.

Rnd 9: Attach YARN B to any st, 1dc/sc to last st

Rnd 10-29: 1dc/sc to last st

Fasten off and weave in ends.

Rnd 30: Attach YARN A to any st, 1dc/sc to last st. 42sts

Fasten off and weave in ends.

Place one of your circles (either cardboard or  polythene) in the bottom of the can to help keep the can lid flat / level.

Tin Label:

Note: The 1ch at the start of each row does not count as a st

Row 1: With YARN C; 9ch, 1dc/sc in second ch from hook, turn. 8sts

Row 2: 1ch, 2dc/sc in the same ch as the 1ch,

1dc/sc in the next 6sts, 2dc/sc in the last st. turn, 10sts

Row 3 – 4: 1ch, 1dc/sc to last st

Row 5: 1ch, 2dc/sc in the same ch as the 1ch, 1dc/sc in the next 8sts, 2dc/sc in the last st. turn, 12sts

Row 6 – 7: 1ch, 1dc/sc to last st

Row 8: 1ch, 2dc/sc in the same ch as the 1ch, 1dc/sc in the next 10sts, 2dc/sc in the last st. turn, 14sts

Row 9 – 10: 1ch, 1dc/sc to last st

Row 11: 1ch, 2dc/sc in the same ch as the 1ch, 1dc/sc in the next 12sts, 2dc/sc in the last st. turn, 16sts

Row 9 – 10: 1ch, 1dc/sc to last st

Fasten off and weave in ends

Rnd 15: Miss the first 4sts; re-attach YARN C in the next st, 1ch, 1dc/sc in the same st as beginning 1ch and in the next 5sts, turn. 6sts

Rnd 16: 1ch, 2dc/sc in the same ch as the 1ch, 1dc/sc in the next 5sts, 2dc/sc in the last st. turn, 9sts

Row 17 – 18: 1ch, 1dc/sc to last st

Fasten off and weave in ends

Label Edging:

Rnd 1: Attach YARN D in any st, loosely sl st around the whole of the label, work 2 extra ch’s to help turn around corners. Sl st to first st to join.

Fasten off and weave in ends.

Rnd 2: Attach YARN E in the BLO of any st, then loosely sl st around the whole of the label, work 2 extra ch’s to help turn around corners. Sl st to first st to join.

Fasten off and weave in ends.

Making up:

  • Embroider the front of the can with a message or food details and add button           detailing (optional)
  • Using the BLO of Rnd 2 Label Edging attach the label to the tin body
  • Stuff the tin body with toy filler
  • Add your other (cardboard / polythene) circle onto the top of the toy filler
  • Sew the top of the tin to the top of the tin body; using the BLO of the tin lid and the FLO of the tin body. Fasten off and weave in any ends

And that’s it!

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Make sure you link me your finished projects on your favourite social media sites: Ravelry, LoveCrochet.comFacebook page or Facebook groupTwitter,  Pinterest and Instagram and if you are featured in my newsletter you could win a pattern of your choice!

Until next time; keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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I Like Crochet Magazine | August 2017 Edition


Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, when you make a purchase through these links I do receive a small commission – thank you so much for supporting my blog! 💗

The new issue August 2017 edition of I Like Crochet Magazine is out now! And the summer issue is jam-packed full with fabulous warm-weather patterns (and even patterns so you can get a jump start on autumn).  

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If you haven’t heard of I Like Crochet magazine before it’s a US bi-monthly digital magazine which is published by the creators of AllFreeCrochet.com

I was given the opportunity to view the August issue of the magazine and there are soooo many fresh and colourful designs that are bold, lightweight and perfect for the season. 

Some of my favourites include the Boogie Woogie Pillow & Daisy Bloom Pillow by 

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Daisy Bloom Pillow

the Sydney Harbors Scarf & Tahiti Blanket by 

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Tahiti Blanket

and the Venice Vest by 

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Venice Vest

I keep coming back to the Venice Vest, it’s just gorgeous isn’t it! I think I need to add it to my (long) list of things to make for sure!

There are over 29 beautiful patterns in the August edition but if you enjoy crochet magazines you might want to consider a subscription.  1 year membership starts at as little as $19.97 / £15.87 – so if you subscribe you do save! 

Until next time folks! Happy hooking and keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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Designer Interview | Irene Strange


It’s time for my first Designer Showcase of 2017! Even before I started creating my own patterns I was curious about the process of designing crochet patterns and in previous posts I’ve really enjoyed getting to know some other fabulous fibre artists!

Today I’m excited to be speaking to Irina aka Irene Strange.

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Irina is a bit of a amigurumi expert whose fabulous designs have featured in the popular Zoomigurumi books (1, 4, 5 and 6!) and in popular publications like Let’s Get Crafting: Knitting and Crochet, Inside Crochet and Crochet Now magazines.

Irina has a wonderful eye for amigurumi and creates wonderfully cute characters – I recently completed her little ‘Blossom Bunny’  for Little Miss and I’m seriously in love with her Clara The Unicorn pattern and her free Gracey the hippo ballerina

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It was great to get to speak to her and here’s what we chatted about…

Why are you called Irene Strange?

I used this name when signing up for my first email address all the way back in 2000,
my step-dad’s family name is Strange (what a cool name, right?) and Irene is an English version of Irina – we just moved to England and at the time it felt like a fresh start in a new millennium and a new land. I guess it just stuck! 

How did you first discover crocheting and amigurumi?

My grandmother taught me to knit and crochet when I was little, I picked it up again
when studying for my degree. I was writing a paper on how brands use mascots and characters and came across some crochet toys on Flickr. People kept referring to them as ‘amigurumi’ so naturally I had to find out more about that! I tried making my own, a funny little mouse, and discovered I really enjoyed crocheting toys – from then on I was hooked.

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How did you become a crocheting designer? Is it your real job?

To start with I released a few patterns on Etsy just to see what happens, then an editor from a crochet magazine approached me and asked to feature some of my work. Then another editor asked if I’d be interested in writing some patterns to which I said yes, of course! At the time there wasn’t as many amigurumi designers in UK, at least not on-line, so one commission followed another quite fast. For a good few years I was writing as a hobby alongside a day job. After having kids I wanted to focus on crochet more, so now I write patterns in between playing with Lego and watching cartoons.

Where do you get your inspiration from? 

It’s quite hard to pinpoint what inspires me most; I collect all sorts of objects, prints and photographs of animals or dolls – anything curious. I have to say seeing what other designers and artists share on Instagram across different crafts is also very inspiring, it is amazing how many creative people are out there.

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Tell us a bit about your design process…

When designing something for my pattern shop I might get an idea seemingly out of nowhere, which I will then sketch and mull over for days or even months. I will sketch the design many times, thinking about best way to make it. Then I make prototypes and sometimes get it right on first or second try.

Often a particular project will stay in my head for weeks, almost like an obsession – where I’ll keep coming back to it in-between different makes, trying something out and abandoning it, until I get it right.

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Many of your creations are animal themed amigurumis – are they your favourite things to make?

Oh yes, I adore all animals! Growing up in a big city not many people we knew had pets, so encounters with animals became very special. I love watching documentaries about the Earth, it’s simply amazing how many different creatures call it home!

Do you have a favourite creation that you’ve designed?

I’m still exploring different styles and ways to make an amigurumi, looking for a balance of an object that’s interesting to look at but not too complicated for others to make. I think Hopscotch Bunny is the closest to what I like making.   

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Do you have go to hooks and yarn?

I have a strong preference for natural fibres, especially alpaca and cotton. Cotton is so durable and versatile, but alpaca gives the make a much more natural and soft look. As for hooks, I always use Clover Soft Touch.

Who gets your creations; you, your family, your friends?

At the moment my daughter is very quick to claim anything I make, often even before it’s finished. The rest gets given away to friends and family. If a visitor likes a particular toy most of the time they take it home with them.

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Where do you work? Do you have a studio space or do you work from your living room chair?

I’m a bit of a messy creative (just ask my husband!) so things end up scattered all over the house. We share a room as a studio where I have a wall of yarn to inspire me, and a desk for pattern writing and research. Curling up on a sofa with a cup of tea, a sketchbook and a film in the background is my favourite way to work.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

I’m planning to make many more cute and unusual animals, but also some home accessories and decorations – there’s a book full of ideas just waiting to be made into new patterns.

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Tell us a bit about yourself – what do you do when you’re not crocheting?

When I’m not crocheting… I love going riding my bicycle, foraging around local woods for berries, visiting museums and fairs or just spending the day holed up out of the way somewhere reading a good book.

Finally finish the sentence … I love crochet because…

I can make anything that comes into my head with just a thread and hook – it’s a bit like magic!

I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank Irina again for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer these questions. I’ve really enjoyed getting a better understanding of what’s involved with in her designing process and hope you have too. I hope you will pop along to her website and ravelry page to see all of her great designs!

 

LGC Knitting & Crochet Magazine | Retro Milkshakes


Issue 92 of LGC Knitting & Crochet Magazine is out now just full to bursting with bright summery yarn and super fun crochet and knitting patterns. 

If you are not familiar with LGC Knitting & Crochet Magazine it’s readily available in major supermarkets and stores across the UK.  The magazine is complete with six balls of yarn, a pair of needles and a hook so that you can get started straight away! 

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And I’m really excited to tell you that I’ve got a new pattern in this month’s edition! Why not head on down to the diner to make my retro strawberry and banana milkshakes!

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This summer you can whip up your own milkshakes with my easy recipe! All you need to do is blend yarn with a pinch of hooking and add a dollop of crochet!

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I hope you enjoy my new designs – I know I had great fun designing these little milkshakes!

Well until next time, happy hooking and keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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Pattern Release | Pembroke Seascape Shawl


For 2017 year’s edition of Indie June LoveCrochet.com wanted to do something special so they invited a group of designers to create a collection of knitted and crocheted garments featuring The Yarn Collective yarn (which I blogged about here). The result is the Coastal Adventures Anthology – featuring eight beautiful patterns with inspiration from Scandinavian summers on the coast.

I’m really excited to now reveal what I designed with The Yarn Collective’s Pembroke Worsted Yarn.  May I introduce to you my new Pembroke Seascape Shawl!

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The rectangular Pembroke Seascape Shawl, made from the softest hand dyed merino wool, is as light as a sea breeze!

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It’s just perfect for covering up on a chilly summer evening or on an adventurous stroll around a coastal path.

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I always think shawls are fun to crochet when I’m making them (I really should make more!).  I’ve had such fun with this one adding different stitch patterns which beginner and advanced crocheters should enjoy.  The shawl’s sinuous ripples and texture, combined with the cool grey and blue variegated colours, are inspired by marbled ocean waves lapping at a pebbly beach.

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Although the pattern may look complex it is very straightforward and will be readily picked up by beginners.

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Click on the following link to purchase the pattern and add to your 💗 Favourites on lovecrochet.com or Ravelry.

Exclusive Giveaway 🎉

For your chance to win a copy of my new design simply head on over to Ravelry or LoveCrochet and add it to your favourites or show it some love by commenting below this post with your Ravelry username / or email address. 

Bonus Entry: Re-pin any of the pins above, copy & paste the URL of your re-pin in the comments below. 

Winners will be randomly chosen on Friday 23 June 2017 around 7pm GMT

And…

Enter any coastal inspired projects in the LoveCrochet Community and enter the #IndieJune2017 competition for a chance to win £100 to spend at LoveCrochet!!! So exciting!!! Can’t wait to see your finished projects.

Until next time; keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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