Teaching ha!

March 23rd 

After trying to get together with the talented Helen from The Colour House for over a year we finally managed to pinpoint a date and despite potential illnesses afoot we did get it together.  Was the wait worth it, well yes and no!

We had decided to share our passions and talents, first up would be me, teaching Helen to crochet and later on, we hope that she will help me to continue my journey with felt.  In prepping for our meeting I stalked her Instagram ~  Helen on IG and decided that as she had informed me she was not interested in making blankets and cushions, that amigurumi would be the way forward. Seeing how cacti featured numerous times on her IG account, I decided that would be what she would learn to make first.  Ambitious, no of course not, she says in hindsight through gritted teeth and after several glasses of vodka to calm the nerves so to speak.  Are you beginning to realise where this post is going...

The below photos are pinched from Helen's IG to give you an idea why I chose cacti...

Helen is a whizz on the sewing machine, here she is
making a lampshade cover with applique cacti

Both glass and felted cacti made by Helen

They multiplied on her craft room window

Her goodies from a craft swap from the crochet guru Flo and Dot

So I set to not having much experience myself with amigurumi and came up with these little cacti and hot-footed it over to the local indie garden centre to purchase some mini terracotta pots...

A simple rectangle made into a cactus
and the obligatory single large flower

True amigurumi crochet works in the round

A trio of cacti

This saw me driving on a beautiful spring morning the hour and a half drive towards Helen and me in search of her purple door.  A great indication of the explosion of colour and treats on which to feast my eyes on within her home.

Having never met or even spoken on the phone before we had so much to chat about that crochet was put to one side for the first hour.  I do believe we could have chatted all day.  And my goodness I could have strolled around her house for much longer.  She has so much colour and beauty in her home, she knows how to put things together, but I should not have been surprised she is one of my favourites to follow on IG.

Not being able to put it off any longer and after several hot beverages it was time for me to teach Helen to crochet, something she has wanted to do for many years, her mother spins, weaves, knits and crochets.  Hang on, why did her mother not then teach her...

"Oh, did I not say, I am left handed.."

"Ah, no, you did not," I replied sweetly,  thinking frantically,  'oh my gosh how is this going to work out, I have absolutely no idea about teaching a leftie.'  As my helpful husband mentioned late that same night, "Rookie mistake Selma, you should always check..."  Yes thank you, John, I realise that, but I hadn't.  And there I was standing in Helen's kitchen thinking, 'how hard can this be?'  Turns out, pretty dam hard actually.

Taking a deep breath and not trying to think that I was ambitious already in the make I had chosen to undertake with Helen, I was teaching her the magic circle for goodness sake on her first foray into the world of crochet, so I tried hard not to worry that she was, as she called it, cack-handed and with trembling hands I began to show her and to explain.  It was totally hopeless, Helen now tells me my face was a picture and she read it as 'Selma wants to be anywhere but here right now,'  she wasn't far wrong I have to say.

We tried everything, mirroring each other, sitting opposite, sitting side by side, taking it slowly, me repeating it many times, it was just not that simple.  But somehow through Helen's sheer determination and a lot of sweat glow dripping down my back and under my arms, Helen grasped the magic circle and the beginning of some stitches.  It took a long time, due in most part to my inability to work out how a left handed person works, the next time I will really research it because believe me, it is not straightforward mirroring or exactly the opposite of how a right handed person works. If I could have backed out of Helen's kitchen without being missed I would have run for the hills.  I would have given up and said it was hopeless, but Helen was determined and she cracked it.

Not only did Helen crack it but she has been watching online videos finding more cacti patterns and reading patterns all on her own after only limited amount of teaching from me.   She really is one clever crafty cookie and someone I am delighted to now call a friend.  Here's to a long and fun filled crafty relationship, Helen.

Helen's first crochet cactus

A great first crochet project, well done Helen

In case you fancy crocheting some cacti, here are a few patterns I found online whilst researching...

Magic circle right handed

Magic circle left handed

Cacti page there is a translate button on the page!

I was totally out of my comfort zone 
and learnt a lot teaching Helen  


February 28th

Crocheted gift ribbon and embellishments
I am rubbish at wrapping gifts, years ago before children I spent ages making my gifts look beautiful but over the years that has fallen by the wayside until recently.  I am a yarn addict and am happy with either a crochet hook or knitting needles in my hand, so along came the idea to embellish my gift in yarn adorned mini makes.

It began with making the gift ribbon and then having fun with the little motives.  This can be personalised to the recipient, from bottles of wine to work tools, cars, diggers and more girlie items such as flowers and hearts.  Your imagination is your only limit when it comes to this. Below are some of mine that I have made recently.

Puff flower - crochet embellsiment

With Easter just around the corner, make some
cute bunnies to add to the crochet gift ribbon

This month's Little Box of Crochet, I could not
resist embellishing this rainbow addition too!

To make the gift ribbon I ensure I have the box or wrapped package to hand and then chain enough to cover once around with maybe 3 chains spare as the overlap and for connecting.  Depending on the size of the gift determines for me the stitch used, the smaller the gift the smaller the stitch, this is so it does not overpower.  I then crochet whichever stitch I have decided upon into each chain.  Once that is complete I take a contrasting colour and dc (UK) sc (US) on each side so that the ribbon effectively has 3 stripes.  Sometimes as with the Little Box of Crochet I actually slip stitched along either edge, just depends on the look you want.   To complete the ribbon itself I either sew the ends together or crochet them with slip stitches.  I tend to then place the ribbon on the package and then sew the motives onto the ribbon in situ making sure I have them placed on the gift exactly where I want.

Choosing the motives is fun and there are so many to be found on the internet, I will let you find your own.  Hope I have given you an idea or a spark, let me know if you give this a try.

 How do you gift wrap your presents?


February 24th

I was asked..."Can you make this, please?"
Amiigaarami, no amicurami, no that's not right it's ami something, ah amigurumi!  It took me months to get this word right, spell check had not heard of it and so my initial efforts back in 2014 of trying to find out what this form of crochet was all about was impeded by my lack of spelling ability.

I was asked by a large company if I could make a mascot for their environmental week to raise awareness of recycling and could I please make it so he looked like the orange and green drawing you see here on this blog post.  My first commission and I immediately screeched yes me, me, me replied calmly, of course, I could before they realised their mad fool mistake of asking a complete amigurumi novice.

So what is amigurumi?  It's a form of crochet believed to have originated in Japan and is hugely popular.  Think cute little-stuffed toys, often with large eyes and you get the picture.  Obviously, over the years it has developed and now is seen all over the internet, (on Instagram alone there are almost 1.5 million hashtags devoted to amigurami, you just cannot get away from it.  So what is it?  Amigurumi is a mash of two Japanese words ami meaning crocheted or knitted and gurimi meaning stuffed doll or toy.  This encompasses people and even inanimate objects now.

My first amigurumi, meet Eric the Hero

Amigurumi is mostly crocheted as knitted items can stretch whereas crochet tends to have a denser thicker consistency.  As long as you can do the basic crochet stitches and the all important magic circle, no it's not from Harry Potter, and can stuff things evenly, you laugh but a lumpy stuffed toy is no joke and it happens.  If you can sew in loose threads then you can crochet in the amigurumi style. Oh and it helps if you can master the invisible decrease too, really no, this is not something from the school of Hogwarts.

You cannot see it but Eric the
amigurimi also had a swishing cape
hidden behind his paunch of a belly
Most items in this style are crocheted in the round to allow the 3D shape to magically form in your hands,  It really is quite an exciting process seeing something take shape that is not flat.

An amigurumi doll from the Little Box of crochet, here a
beautifully completed one by the talented Kate of Just Pootling
and mine to the right, these boxes are great for travelling as
everything you need is to hand, here I am at an airport.

Amanda has also included several amigurumi's in her
monthly crochet box sets, including this Baby box

The reason for the post is that today I travel to the South West to teach a beginner crocheter how to construct yarn into a 3D shape. I am both nervous and excited at the same time. I have been teaching crochet for two years so that is nothing new, but I have never taught amigurumi. Eek!

Last minute preparations for teaching amigurumi 

Hoping you have enjoyed my 5 amigurumi photos and I leave you finally with the thought:   here's to continued learning for all of us, tomorrow it will be me in teaching something new and for the student learning something completely different.  

Wish us luck 

Joining in with Amy sharing my five with you.  Have a great week x

Teaching Classes

February 17th

Next week sees me teaching two different crochet classes.  Part of the enjoyment is working out what I'll teach, making a model to show and sometimes the half completed almost here's one I made earlier Blue Peter model.

On the Tuesday cake and crochet night, this course will focus on the ladies completing projects they have already begun as well as each week I will teach them how to make a 'small' item.

We will have the current CAL by Lucy over at Attic 24, the gorgeous Moorland blanket, mine is almost complete, just the border to go.  Look at those colours and the way they migrate from one colour scheme to another...

Moorland crochet blanket modelled by Pip

A couple of ladies are still crocheting the Scheepjes CAL from 2016 and are making an excellent blanket learning many new stitches along the way.  Unfortunately, I no longer have my model blanket to show them, but they have all seen it,  it's now been gifted to my sister.

Some of the crochet squares for the Scheepjes Cal of 2016

The small item for this week will be how to make crochet triangles and make a mini bunting, here is my show and tell piece at the blocking stage.

Mini bunting 

On Friday I travel towards the South West to teach crochet to a beginner who is keen to learn how to crochet in the amigurumi style.  I've prepared some cacti for us to make...

A trio of crocheted cacti

And also classic crocheting in the round, some easy to make balloons, these make great cake toppers by the way

Crochet mini balloons

I still have to decide which cake to bake for the Tuesday class any suggestions?

Joining in with Amy hoping you enjoyed my 5 teaching crochet projects and you all have a great week end ♥  

Galentine Day

February 13th   

supersize crochet
Happy Galentine's Day  Some of you will know to that which I am referring but if like me this is the first you've heard of it, let me explain.

The past few years the day before Valentine's day has become an increasingly popular day to celebrate girl's friendships.  I am ALL for that. For more information see here

Today unwittingly I made myself a deep red handbag, thinking I was gifting a little Valentine present to myself, him in doors and I don't really 'do' the commercial forced lovely dovey thing, I've now come to realise that I have actually on Galantine's day made myself a 'girl' bag.  I'm so in tune with the world, I didn't even know it!

The yarn which is of the t-shirt variety has a lot of 'give' or elastic you may call it and must not be crocheted too tightly, loose hooking is called for.  I was actually making something else this morning with it, but realised that it was becoming a spectacular fail.  Enjoying hooking with this Boodles yarn, I thought to try it out as a bag.  With no pattern and just my imagination an hour later and a rummage through my crafting cupboard to find the acrylic see through handles that I bought years ago but have never had the need for, I had my very own bag and I must say I'm a little bit in love with it.

I used hdc as it's quick to give height and fast to hook up

acrylic handles

Within 15 minutes of completion, it was put in use

Supersize crochet bag

Happy Galentine and Valentine Day wherever you are

PS  Anyone know what has happened to Boodles yarn?  Bought mine a few years ago and today when googling them the site was not available?

Hygge, so it begins

February 10th 

I have writer's block or more accurately blogger's block.

Today I have sat at the blank screen and looked at it on and off for hours.

Nada.  Nothing.  Zilch.

I blame a certain blogger amongst us she who shall not be named who told me earlier this week how she crafts, sculpts and moulds her often humorous posts on her brilliant blog.

No wonder her blog has such hits as she nurtures and loves the beast that is a blog.  It's left me in tatters and the words are not pouring out.

So instead I leave you with the test swatch made this week for the new CAL (crochet-a-long) in town that begins next Wednesday, further details can be found here:  Hygge  I am already excited and a teensy bit in love with it.  Hope this continues for the next 10 weeks or so that it carries on for.  Will keep you updated on its progress.

I had to down hook size from the recommend 4.5mm
hook to a 3.5mm to obtain the correct size, shows
how important a test swatch is.
The completed test piece measures 10cm x 10 cm and the heart was made in cross stitch, I'm loving the effect of the rainbow colours of cross stitch on the crochet background, great texture and visually pleasing to the eye I thin.  Great design.  apt shape for nest weeks' Valentine's day don't you think?

The completed swatch made in Scheepjes
stonewashed and accent colours in Scheepjes Catona

The below images are not mine but are from other hookers within the International Facebook group showing what they have done with their completed test piece.

A popular choice was to make it into a pincushion.

I thought this a great idea, a mug cosy and even more
 fun a utensil cosy adding in the wooden 'hygge'
button that came with the kit

Once the cal is complete we should have a fairly unique shawl, (I say unique I think there are over 20 000 being hooked all over the world, so maybe not quite a one-off.)  But with all the cross stitch that will adorn the crochet shawl, it will need to have a fabric backing.  Below are the samples that the designer has used, all 100% cotton.  I confess to being tempted to use one of these, except I do wonder about lining mine in a single vibrant colour that would suit the rainbow feel, or something even a bit plush with some give in, something like velveteen, how would you line it?

Fabric to line the shawl with

Hoping the creative words fall from my pen nib or more accurately the computer keyboard soon, in which case you'll be hearing from as soon as, in the mean time,

  hope life is treating you all well my friends

Selma xxx

Joining in with Amy today sharing with you five photographs from my week x

Oops... as a one off I'm sneaking in the below photographs, to show you what I have done with my test piece, it's framed and I shall gift it to John along with my Jar of hearts gift. 

Both on going CALs, the Attic 24 Moorland
blanket and the Hygge Shawl

A jar of hearts

February 3rd

A jar of  love from my daughter
Where do you get your inspiration from?

For me, it can be anywhere but my latest idea came from my daughter and the gift she gave to me. My last birthday, I received the most thoughtful present ever from her, it made me cry and it has become a present that just keeps on giving.

A jar of gifts from daughter to mother

From cleaning the house for me to sitting watching
a weepy movie with popcorn, such thoughtful ideas

Each 'gift' to be opened when I either: needed to talk,
wanted to share my knowledge or for when I want
to go on strike, just a few of her ideas.

In our household, we are not BIG on Valentine's day but I feel my husband has been working so hard and could do with some extra love and attention, bring in my daughter's idea for a gift and you have a classic valentine present, look...

A jar of hearts

Messages and gifts to my husband

I used a variety of different heart patterns and thought you might be interested.  Rather than redesign the wheel, there are so many patterns out on the www there that I used those instead of creating my own. Here are the five that I used and enjoyed.

Small 3D heart: 3D heart ~ 3 sizes

3D crocheted heart

2D flat hearts tiny: 2D mini heart

Mini 2D crochet heart

2D medium size heart: 2D heart

Medium sized 2D crochet heart

My favourite heart: Heart with magic circle

A crochet heart full of texture

Danish heart: Danish heart

Classic Scandinavian crochet hanging heart

My jar of hearts for my love

sharing 5 quick heart patterns for you this Valentines

 Joining in for the first time this year with the lovely Amy
do pop over and see what others are sharing.

And finally, I leave you with this beautiful quote from an inspirational woman...

Love recognises no barriers, it jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.

Maya Angelou