Saturday 29 November 2014

The one with the crochet balls

So I found a couple of polystyrene balls which I've had in a box for yeeeears and I decided to do something festive with them.

I was thinking along the lines of homemade Christmas baubles for the kids' teachers, but actually, these would look great displayed in a big bowl too. 

The first ball is made using good old double crochet in continuous rounds. A few increases and decreases help create the shaping- you'll need to use a stitch marker so you know where the beginning of each round is. 

The second uses joined rounds and a few different stitches and techniques, but is just as simple to make.

Fancy making one, or two? 
Then here's what to do...

(Oh and BTW if you're quick, you can still use the fab 10% discount code, ABXMAS off RICO Creative Cotton from Black Sheep Wools. It's valid until 2nd December 2014...)

I used:
2 x 70mm polystyrene balls (if you haven't got these, then you could try stuffing them firmly with toy filling instead),
Odds and ends of Rico Creative Cotton Aran from my stash: Red (05), Orange (74), Light Green (40), Light Yellow (63), Turquoise (36), Candy Pink (64), Fuschia (13)
4mm hook,
Stitch marker
Ribbon for hanging loop.

[This pattern is written in UK terms. US equivalents are given below]

UK double crochet = US single crochet
UK treble crochet = US double crochet

ch = chain
sl st = slip stitch 
dc = double crochet
dc2tog = double crochet two together*
sts = stitches
* how to make the dc2tog stitch using the invisible decrease method:
Insert hook into the front loop of the first stitch.
Insert hook into the front loop of the second stitch (3 loops on hook).
Yarn over and pull yarn through the first two loops (2 loops on hook).
Yarn over and pull through both loops.

Striped Ball
Worked in continuous rounds.

I changed colour every round. You'll find that this isn't at the beginning of the round where stated in the pattern, so use a stitch marker and you won't lose your place.
To make the colour change, work the last dc until you have 2 loops on your hook. Yarn over in the new colour and complete the stitch. Make the next stitch a slip stitch (not too tight as you'll need to work into it on the next round) and continue for a few more stitches. Knot the ends of your old and new yarn together and you're done! (And there's no need to weave in your ends- they'll be on the inside, so won't show.)

Work in the following colours: Orange, Candy Pink (from Rnd 2), Fushcia, Yellow, Fuschia, Turquoise, Green, Yellow, Red, Turquoise, Orange, Fuschia, Green, Turquoise, Yellow, Candy Pink, Red, Yellow, Fuschia, Green, Orange.

6dc in magic ring, OR ch2, 6dc in 2nd ch from hook.
Rnd 1: 2dc in each st (12 sts)
Rnd 22dc in each st (24)
Rnd 3: (dc 2, 2dc in next st) repeat around (32)
Rnd 4: dc 32
Rnd 5: (dc 3, 2dc in next st) repeat around (40)
Rnds 6-15: dc 40
Rnd 16: (dc 3, dc2tog) repeat around (32)
Insert polystyrene ball and continue to crochet around it

Rnds 17-18: dc32
Rnd 19(dc 2, dc2tog) repeat around (24)
Rnd 20(dc 1, dc2tog) repeat around (16)
Rnd 21: dc 16
Rnd 22: dc2tog around (8)

Sew closed. Add hanging loop.

Star Ball
Worked in joined rounds

Change colour every round in the following order:
Turquoise, Fushcia, Yellow, Green, Red, Yellow, Turquoise, Candy Pink, Fuschia, Green, Orange, Yellow.

You'll need to know a few extra stitches here, in addition to the ones above:
tr = treble crochet
sk st = skip stitch
beg tr cl = beginning treble cluster*
tr cl = cluster**

* to make the beginning treble cluster stitch:
Chain 2, then make 2 trebles, leaving the last part of each tr unworked (3 loops on hook). Yarn over hook and draw through all 3 loops.

** to make the treble cluster stitch:
Make 3 trebles, leaving the last part of each tr unworked (4 loops on hook). Yarn over hook and draw through all 4 loops.

Begin with a magic ring OR, chain 4 and join with a sl st to make a ring.
Rnd 1: beg tr cl, ch 3, (tr cl, ch 3 repeat x 4) into ring [you should have a 5-pointed star shape] join with a sl st to top of ch 2. (25 sts)
Rnd 2: ch 1, (dc 3, ch 2 in each ch-3 space around) join with a sl st to first dc. (25)
Rnd 3: ch 1 (dc 3 then dc 2 in each ch-2 space around), join with a sl st to first dc. (25)
Rnd 4: ch 3 (counts as tr), 2tr in next st, (tr 1 in next st, 2tr in next st around), 2tr in last st, join with a sl st to top of ch 3. (38)
Rnd 5: ch 3 (counts as tr), tr 1 in same st, sk st, (2tr in next st, sk st around) join with a sl st to top of ch 3. (38)
Rnds 6-7ch 3 (counts as tr), tr 1 in space between 2tr sts, (2tr in each space between 2tr sts around) join with a sl st to top of ch 3. (38) 
Insert polystyrene ball and continue to crochet around it.

Rnds 8-9: ch 1, (dc 1, ch 1 in space between 2tr sts around) join with a sl st to the first dc (38)
Rnds 10-11: ch 3 (counts as tr), tr 1 in each ch-1 space around, join with a sl st to the top of ch 3. (19)
Rnd 12: ch 1, dc2tog around, dc 1 in last st (10)

Sew closed.

And that's about it.

Enjoy making and have a fab week,

Sarah x

Wednesday 12 November 2014

A BIG Crocheted Christmas tree (Free pattern)

'Could you design us a large, free-standing, crocheted Christmas tree?' the lovely Lesley from Black Sheep Wools asked me.

Sure can.

I used one of my favourite yarns, Rico Creative Cotton Aran, as the colours are bright and it's sturdy stuff.

If you'd like to make yourself a large, free-standing, crocheted Christmas tree, then head on over to Black Sheep Wools, where you'll find the FREE pattern (yes, free- it IS Christmas, after all) AND there's a jolly super 10% discount code to use on Rico Creative Cotton Aran if you use the code 'ABXMAS'. It's valid until the 2nd December, too.

Have fun making and do show me if you make one- I love to see what you've been up to!

Happy Wednesday, everyone.

Sarah xx

Saturday 1 November 2014

Beginner's Guide to Crochet

So here it is.

It's been a long time in the planning and making and now my book is available to pre-order worldwide (from here and lots of other wonderful retailers) and is due for release in April.
Perfect for complete beginners and experienced crocheters alike, it includes twenty new projects to keep your hook busy. 
(And might I add, it's a rather big book, being some 120- odd pages long, so good value for money, too.)

Here's a reminder of some of the projects in progress:

Oooo, something using Moss stitch.

Bertie Bear. What a cutie.

Granny stripes and pompom trim? Could it get any better?

Yes it could. Humungous pompoms.

And a humungous project using mahooooosive yarn.
Traditional Grannies too.

And sweet little hearts.

Here's the official blurb:

You want to learn crochet, but have no idea where to start? You would love to set to work on some gorgeous yarny creations, but find patterns and charts confusing and scary? Then let author Sarah Shrimpton guide you through the basics, with this book you'll learn to crochet and complete your first project in just one day! 

To top this, did you know there are actually only a handful of stitches you need to learn to be competent at this super-yarny craft? It’s what you do with them that can create something as simple as a dishcloth or as complicated as a teddy bear. 

Beginner’s Guide to Crochet comprehensively teaches all the basic crochet techniques, skills and stitches to get you started. Each new technique is explained with accompanying photographs and diagrams and is followed directly with a project utilizing those skills. Later projects combine several techniques and stitches helping you to develop your skill set and tackle more complicated projects.

There are 20 modern projects, plus a section dedicated to 'extreme crochet', using t-shirt yarn to create larger-than-life crocheted creations. The author's chatty, informal style will take you on on your journey from newbie to fully-fledged crocheter in no time. 

Before you know it you'll be crocheting everything from scarves and hats to the obligatory granny blanket with ease, and making fantastic homemade presents for friends and family.

With crochet becoming incredibly popular, newbie crocheters are increasingly looking for entry-level content that contains all the basic stitches alongside attractive, accessible projects.  

The 20 projects include a cafetiere cosy, trellis scarf, teddy bear, a tablet cosy and of course, no crochet book would be complete without the staple granny blanket. Plus a section dedicated to 'extreme crochet', using t-shirt yarn to create larger-than-life crocheted creations. There is a distinctly modern feel to the projects and the author's chatty, informal style takes readers' on their journey from newbie to fully-fledged crocheter with ease. 

It's all rather exciting, really!
I hope you like it.

Happy weekend to you all,
Sarah x

Friday 17 October 2014

Sneaky peeky

*whispers* would you like to have a quick look at a couple of shots from my upcoming book?

Don't tell ANYONE. 
This is just a little secret shared between you and I ...

Have a fab weekend, everyone

Sarah xxx

Friday 26 September 2014

Granny stripe cowl

So here's what I was making with that lovely yarn from Black Sheep Wools - a cosy cowl.

Recently, much of what I have made has been posted off in brown boxes, ready for the book, or a magazine commission. 
But not this.
This one's for me.

It can be worn short, or long, too.
Ideal for these chilly mornings we've been having.

Fancy making one?

[This pattern is written in UK terms. US equivalents are given below]

UK double crochet = US single crochet
UK treble crochet = US double crochet

ch = chain
sl st = slip stitch
dc = double crochet
tr = treble crochet
sts = stitches
sk sts = skip stitches

Granny Stripe Cowl

Finished size: 68cm (26 3/4 in) x 25cm (9 3/4 in) approx

You will need:
4 mm (US 6/G) hook
1 x 50g ball each of Rico Baby Classic dk in Smokey Rose (39) [A], Smoke Blue (42) [B], Dusky Pink (40) [C], Steel Grey (44) [D]
Tapestry needle


Foundation chain: using colour A, ch 288. Sl st into first ch to join round.

Round 1: ch 1, dc 288 (beginning in same st as the ch). Sl st to first dc to join round.

Round 2: (ch 3 (counts as tr), 2tr) in same st, ch 1, *sk 3 sts, 3tr in next st, ch 1* repeat around. Sl st into top of ch-3 to join round, sl st to first ch-1 space. Fasten off yarn and attach new colour.

Round 3: using colour C, (ch 3 (counts as tr), 2tr) in first ch-1 space, *ch 1, 3tr in next ch-1 space* repeat around. Sl st into top of ch-3 to join round, sl st to first ch-1 space. Fasten off yarn and attach new colour.

Rounds 4-30: repeat round 3.

I used the colours in the following order: D, C, D, B, D, C, B, A, C, A, C, B, A, B, D, B, C, A, C, D, A, B, D, A, C, B, D

Round 31: ch 1, dc around. Sl st to join round.
Fasten off.
Weave in ends

And that, as they say, is that.
A nice easy project, too.

Enjoy making!

Sarah x

Saturday 20 September 2014

The one with a yarn review

When the lovely peeps at Black Sheep Wools asked me if I would like to review some yarn for them, I just couldn't say no, especially when this lovely lot was posted though my door:

From top left: Smokey Rose (39), Smoke Blue (42), Dusky Pink (40), Steel Grey (44)

(said like one of those aliens in Toy Story)
Isn't it lush?

Squishy and squeezy and soft. So soft. 
And those colours are dreamy. Pink grey and blue are timeless.

So....what is it? I hear you ask.

These are some of the new shades of Rico Baby Classic DK

But what to make with it?
It would be perfect for so many things- blankets, shrugs, gloves, hats, jumpers, cushions... but I decided on something just for me.

And it involves a bit of granny striping.
The perfect pick-up-and-put-down-kinda-project for when you're as busy as a bee.

I like crocheting with this yarn; I'm using a 4mm (US G/6) hook, which is working out perfectly. I reckon you could use a slightly smaller hook, too. The yarn is smooth and clean to work with and doesn't split (hooray!).
And being a mix of acrylic fibres, it will wear and wash well, too.

It's not finished yet, but as soon as it is, I'll show you.
And you'll get the pattern too.

If you'd like some of this gorgeous yarn for yourself, then pop along to Black Sheep Wools and say hi. They've got loads in stock, along with just about everything else you could ever need for your crochet and knitty projects.

Have a great weekend,
Sarah x

Friday 29 August 2014

The one with the little purses


So, on a recent mooch around t'internet, I found some little sew-in purse frames and a few ideas were formulated.
(All of which involved crochet, you'll be pleased to know).

So I drew a few sketches and mucked around with some yarn and a hook, and I'm pleased to say, both designs worked first time (a rare, but welcome event, as any designer knows).

If you also fancy mucking around with some yarn and a hook, then the pattern to make both is available just over there in my Etsy shop. You'll need a 65mm frame (find these in craft shops or online) and some dk yarn.

These would make gorgeous presents for ...dare I say the C-word ??

Happy crocheting
Sarah xx

Tuesday 12 August 2014

The one with the knitting needles and the bracelets

It's a well known fact that the Mister thinks I'm bonkers.
So it's just as well he didn't see me boiling my knitting needles at lunchtime today.

Yep, you read it right. Boiling my needles.

See? Here's the proof.

No, I'm not THAT hungry. I just fancied trying something crafty.

I'd found the green and red plastic needles in a charity shop (10p per pair, I kid you not) and knew just what to do with them. 
And for once, it didn't involve yarn.

Here's what I made:


If you'd like to follow suit and confound your family and friends with your culinary madness, then here's what to do:

1. Find some plastic knitting needles (raid your stash for lonely ones, or keep your eyes peeled in the charity shops for cheapo ones).

2. Boil them for 20 mins or so -they need to be really soft for them to take shape. My first attempt didn't work as they weren't pliable enough.
Do be aware of nasty fumes which can be released- ventilate your kitchen and you'll be fine.

3. Remove them carefully from the water. Within a couple of seconds they'll be cool enough to handle.

4. Bend them quickly into shape and use something to hold them in position. (See my imaginative use of the elastic bands the postman insists on dropping along the street)

5. Allow to cool completely.

If you're not happy with your bracelet, then just pop the needle back in the boiling water to soften and start again.

Now adorn your wrists with your awesome creations and wait for the comments to come flooding in...

NB: not all plastic needles will bend. The grey one refused to comply and has been returned, sulking to my stash.

Enjoy your week!

Sarah x

Monday 21 July 2014

The big stuff

I loves a bit of mahooooosive yarn.

It has to be a favourite of mine.
It's so exciting- seeing that huge skein, rolled up in a cone or ball. So many possibilities ...

I've made quite a few things now, with the big stuff:

And I've got a few projects in mind for the book, too.

If you fancy giving it a go, then there are plenty of commercially produced yarns available. And you can always make your own t-shirt yarn - there's lots of tutorials online to guide you - try this one for size.

My stash (and there's more)

It goes without saying that you'll need a big hook-anything from 10-20mm (US 15/N/P - S) depending on the pattern and then you're good to go. Hold it in exactly the same way as you would a smaller hook and yarn- it takes a little getting used to, but you'll soon adapt.

The great thing about this yarn is that it works up really quickly.
In no time at all you can have a bag or basket or slippers! 

Enjoy your mahosssive  yarn adventures,
Sarah xx