Tag Archives: Knitting and Crochet

Handmade Gifts of Crochet Love

Over the past few months I seem to have given myself the challenge of creating any gifts that are given by me or my family.  There has been a run of birthdays including those of Miss L’s preschool classmates, family and friends.  Plus a new baby here and there.  So I’ve been busy.  Here’s the list thus far:

softie teddy

lavender eye pillow

lavender hand balm

two super hero costumes (plus an extra set for Miss L …the prototype actually)

two softie bunny-type creatures

half a dozen crochet hens’ eggs, and

two sets of crochet headband, wristband and brooch.

This is the one I just finished for my daughter’s little friend who’s turning five tomorrow.

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I’ve certainly been doing my share of crochet lately.  As I have said before I find it therapeutic…relaxing…satisfying.  I had already made a few of the little flower headbands for Miss L, but with 8 ply acrylic yarn.  I love the natural, crisp look and feel of cotton though.

The handy thing about small creations like these is that yarn leftovers can be utilised.  In this case it was someone else’s leftovers purchased by me on ebay.

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To make the bands for the headband and wristband I used a very simple crochet pattern called ‘up and down stitch’, which features treble crochet (US double) and double crochet (US single) in alternating stitches.  My recent discovery of this, and plenty more patterns in my vintage copy of Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Needlecraft was a delightful moment.  I felt rather ashamed that I hadn’t looked at it sooner, especially because my mum had lovingly given it to me a couple of years ago.  To think that I’d been scanning the pages of Pinterest rather than handling the leaves of a humble book that was at my fingertips all along!  My grandmother would shake her head.  Anyway, here is the pattern:

Chain a multiple of 2 ch plus 2 (I couldn’t work out why this isn’t just a multiple of two…perhaps it’s acknowledging that the length is the multiple of 2 ch, not the plus 2 bit as well?)

Row 1

skip 2 ch, 1 dc (US sc) in next chain, *1tr (US dc), 1 dc *, 1tr, ch 2, turn

Row 2

skip 1st tr stitch, *1 tr in dc of previous row, 1 dc in tr of previous row*, 1 tr in ch 2 of previous row, ch 2, turn

Rep from Row 2

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I used a 4 ply cotton and 3.5mm hook for both the headband (100 chains long) and wristband (34 chains long).  Obviously your chain length will vary depending on the size of the recipient (in this case, a five-year-old girl).  Both the wristband and the headband are about 8 rows wide (I forgot to write this down so I’m not certain…but just make it to your desired width)! To join the ends of the headband strip I overlapped them slightly and hand sewed together using the same cotton.  I found that the up and down stitch of this width produced a pattern with two tiny holes at the ends of the band – perfect button holes, which I utilised for fastening the wristband!  (Alternatively you could create button holes by skipping a few stitches where you want your button hole and just chaining for this tiny section instead; or making a little chain loop at the end of the band.) Then two little buttons were stitched to the other end.

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The sweet but simple flower pattern was courtesy of the very generous Scrapbooking and Cards Today Mag blog.  (Note that this pattern is written in US terminology.  ‘Double crochet’ (dc) equals ‘treble crochet’ (tr) in Australia and the UK, and ‘single crochet’ (sc) equals ‘double crochet’ (dc) in UK and Australian terms.)  By varying the size of the hook and yarn, you can make different sized flowers.  The largest hook I used was 4.0mm the smallest was 3.0mm and the yarns were 3-4ply cotton.  For the other headband set I also used a 2 ply cotton with 1.75 and 2.0 mm hook and these flowers turned out very sweet (great for the smaller flowers on the brooch). The little purple flower was created by mistake.  Instead of six trebles (US dc) for each petal I did six double crochet (US sc).  But it turned out just right for the upper flower part of the brooch.

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You can combine the flowers in whatever way you choose.  For example, you might like two of different size and colour for the headband or three for the brooch.  And you could put button centres on the headband and wristband too.  All flowers were hand-sewn on to the bands or to each other using the same cottons (I actually used the tails in most cases).  The little button was secured to the crochet flower beneath it using cotton thread.  To finish off the brooch I sewed a small gold safety pin to the back with cotton yarn.

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And as a final touch I added a little card  with Miss L’s two striped cats drawing.  (I couldn’t resist having it converted into a stamp…to Miss L’s amazement.)

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Together with some good old-fashioned type-print from my old-fashioned friend.

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We shall find out tomorrow if Miss Turning-Five likes her gift!

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Becoming a Green Crochet Queen

Are you a crochet queen or a knittaholic? I’ll admit to being neither although I’m aspiring to be the former lately. I was taught the basics of crochet and knitting as a youngster. My mum is a champion of both crafts but she’s particularly talented with a crochet hook. So was her mum and grandma and aunty. Here is a photo of Miss L in the christening gown my mum crocheted for me when I was a baby.

Miss L donning Mum's crochet christening gown

I witnessed a lot of crocheting when I was growing up. After making a scarf for my teddy (did you start with a scarf too?) I resigned. But soon after my crochet queen greaty aunty passed away last year, I found myself taking up the hook once more. I purchased a bulk lot of preloved crochet hooks and some yarn leftovers on ebay and got started with some granny square fun (and frustration) via the amazing and inspirational Pip Lincolne and her book ‘Meet Me at Mikes‘ together with Pip’s excellent granny square video tutorials. The online crafting world is incredibly generous with sharing knowledge and ideas. So even though I don’t have the luxury of having my mum or my grandma or great aunty sitting next to me guiding me through the process I’ve been able to tackle this new skill with some confidence.

Crochet hooks in fabric roll holder

I love all kinds of crafting, but what I particularly love about crochet is the peace and quiet (not even a click-clack). Being able to create something lovely and useful without making a sound is quite rare. It’s a wonderful way to relax and unwind after a challenging day. And if you like a bit of telly or film, you can watch that at the same time. (I’d avoid any distraction whatsoever whilst learning though!) Another awesome thing about crochet is that it’s so portable. Just one small hook and a ball of yarn and you’re good to go. I keep my latest project in a little cotton bag ready to take with me. And there is no shame in crocheting in public. I’m quite happy to be judged by onlookers as being a bit old-fashioned. I reckon people waiting in doctor’s surgeries would be a whole lot happier too, if they could while away the time with crochet.

Crochet cushion cover in the making

Crochet also happens to be a very green craft. It requires minimal equipment which is easily obtained second hand and is made to last. It doesn’t require any electricity. And it lends itself to re-using all sorts of materials, as well as sustainable natural fibres.

Crochet iPad cover using yarn remnants

Crocheting with plastic bags is nothing new to me. Anyone who grew up in Australia in the 70’s or 80’s must have seen some kind of bread bag crochet creation before. But do an online search for ‘plarn’ (plastic yarn) and you’ll be astounded at what some clever crafters have come up with. Here’s a cool clip showing how to make yarn from plastic bags. Then there’s t-yarn (made by cutting up an old t-shirt), VCR tape yarn, old sheets (and other fabrics) yarn and reclaimed yarn (from unravelling old knitwear). As well as making your own yarn, there are commercially available recycled yarns, including 100% cotton made from recycled denim, and acrylic yarn containing a percentage of recycled plastic. Amazing. There are also many smaller online businesses (including on ebay and Etsy) that sell reclaimed yarn produced by unravelling garments, T-yarn, and silk from saris. Incase you don’t have the time or patience to do it yourself.

The Red Thread: How to Make Fabric Baskets The Etsy Blog: How to Make Plarn and Crochet an Eco-friendly Tote Bag

Enter the world of eco-friendly yarns and you’ll also find organically produced natural fibres, including cotton and wool as well as the lesser known flax, hemp and nettle. All of which are made with minimal environmental impact. Do a bit of googling and you’ll be pointed in the appropriate direction. Remember your local charity store and ebay for all kinds of yarn leftover goodies, too.

I’m pretty pleased that I’ve taken up this craft again. Whenever I reach for my hook and yarn…or plarn…or t-yarn…I imagine my great aunty J is watching down on me with a huge grin. Yes, no doubt she’s proud that her beloved craft is being carried on to another generation. And she must be delighted that the art of thrift is making a resurgence. But largely her joy would have to come from the comedy that is seeing me fumbling away at the pace of a snail but the determination of a bulldog. I’m still learning. But I’m getting there.

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