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Friday, 23 August 2013

Twinkie Chan Cupcake Crazy

Hi all :-)

Have any of you heard of Twinkie Chan? You may have seen some crazy food-inspired crochet on the net, and the chances are it was designed by Twinkie Chan. She is a San Francisco based crochet designer who is the queen of fun, original crochet designs, mostly involving fast-food! I adore her designs and only wish I had thought of them myself! It is definitely worth checking out her website :-)

My youngest sister had asked me to make her some bunting a couple of months ago. She was part-way through her A-Level exams at the time so I thought that I would make her some as a 'well done' gift (I knew she would do fab!)......but what to make? I had just made some retro-inspired bunting for a friend which she had liked so though of doing some like that then.....POP, up comes a post from Deramores on Facebook saying that Twinkie Chan had made (and most importantly shared the pattern for) some cupcake bunting on 'Rock N Roll Bride's blog (a brilliant blog too if you are thinking of getting married ;-p). Too good an opportunity to miss and I couldn't wait to get started!

First cupcake finished! Really pleased with it :-)

By the time I got half way through I bought her book, which meant I could finish off outside rather than read the pattern off the computer screen.......

.....It also meant I could start another project......woooooo! 'Cos you can never have too many things on the go!

Can you guess what it is?

......a CUPCAKE HAT!!!!! You got it right?!

This time for my second to youngest sister who was heading off to New Zealand for a couple of months where it is winter at the moment.

Just needed a few embelishments (beads from ebay- lovely and sparkly!)

....and voilà!

Here are the products of the week when I went "Twinkie Chan Cupcake Crazy"

Remember a few weeks ago I mentioned that I had a secret project on the go, well these are it! I can share now that my sister has got her results (and of course did brilliantly :-)) and the other has taken off to NZ, with the cupcake hat firmly glued to her head!

Much love,

SS xx

Monday, 19 August 2013

Crafty Chaos........Calm (ish)

Good afternoon!

The time for a visit to the south is nigh........and I have just calmed down craft-wise (well for the time being anyway but more about that later!) from the chaos I posted about last weekend.....too much to do, no way near enough time! I got my head down (hook/needles down?!) and just got on with it. Yes, my arm now hurts and yes, the house is a total mess but YAY!!! I AM ALL DONE!

Project 1:

I will start by showing you the bunny I have been making for Masie. This is from a pattern that I found via the Deramores Facebook page but can be found here on Ravelry. It is a knitted design by Yvonne Boucher and I though it was so so cute and had to have a go!

Last Wednesday the bunny looked like this:

......essentially a large squidgy clothes peg with wings!

By last night it looked like this :-)

Honey Bunny by SallyStrawberry designed by Yvonne Boucher

......and it even has a fluffy tail!

Honey Bunny by SallyStrawberry designed by Yvonne Boucher

I love how it has turned out- even cuter than in the picture on the pattern! It even has joined arms! I embroidered the eyes rather than using buttons as it is for a baby and I would hate if she managed to get one off and swallowed it or something. It took me quite a bit longer than I expected due to all the extra components.....tail, dress, bow etc.

For anyone who is interested I used Bergere de France Barisiemme yarn (100% Acrylic so washable) in Melisse (the cream), Papeete (the turqouise) and Chataigne (the brown). It was a bit scratchy for my liking really but I bought it online (as it was the only brand on Deramores that sold all three colours I was after) and probably wouldn't use it again.

Project 2: 

The Crochet Camp 'Cold at Night' Handwarmers. On Wednesday I had a pair that needed finishing off. Now, ta-dah......wait for it...... I have 2 pairs and both totally finished. Wooooopeeeee!!!!!

Cold at Night Handwarmers by SallyStrawberry designed by Kat Goldin

And they fit like a 'glove'!

The pink button on the turquoise one is glittery! The red pair are for a friend and I am keeping the turquoise ones.

I used Artensano 100% Alpaca double knitting and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone! It is so lovely and soft and great to work with. They will definitely get some wear this weekend and I can't wait!

Project 3:

I introduced the 'Waxham Gnome Extravaganza' a couple of weeks ago in a WIP Wednesday post.....and this is happening THIS COMING WEEKEND! 

My previous description of the 'event'.......

 "but to cut a long story short we have to dress up as gnomes all bank-holiday weekend whilst camping/caravanning in a windy, rainy campsite- I'm not being pessimistic, the weather is usually rubbish! Despite the weather we have loads of, often alcohol fuelled, fun though! All my costume needs now are some crochet embellishments (of the creepy crawly kind!) which I will hopefully get round to soon"

........is in need of a bit of revision as we are due another heat-wave at the weekend (yipeeeeeeeee!!!!!!). However, we are still all dressing up and here is the making of my costume:

Item 1- a pinafore dress from Primark

Add a crochet belt trim....

This is a granny stripe (2 rows of granny bordered by double crochet in Stylecraft (100% Acrylic) Pomegranate and Meadow. Go here for Lucy's Granny Stripe Tutorial which I used as a basis.

Add toadstool appliqué.....

I designed this very quickly myself. When I have more time I will try and improve it and write up the pattern but if you would like the pattern now then let me know and I will right it up quick-fast!

And put it all together...a 'Gnome Dress'!

Gnome Dress by SallyStrawberry

I know these aren't the best photos but there has been next to no light today, indoors or out. I did manage a picture of the toadstool in the teeny bit of sun we got though.

Toadstool Appliqué by SallyStrawberry

As soon as I saw the sun I dashed outside- lucky I made it in time as it only lasted seconds!

The belt was actually a bit big but I used the remaining button from the red handwarmers to fasten it off. I think it worked really well- so well I probably should have done it deliberately!

When I said I was 'all done' I still have some more of these guys to make, but thank goodness for long train journeys!

Much love to all and have a great week!

SS xx

Sunday, 18 August 2013

The 'No Pattern Challenge'


I hope you have all had a lovely weekend. I have been working so not much time for making things. However, I did this very briefly this evening.......

This is a design on Annoo's Crochet World blog and posted on the El hogar de las lanas ('The Wool Home' in Spanish) Facebook page:

The challenge set by a member of Crochet Camp 2013 was to re-create just be using the picture. The pattern is available but we thought we would have a go. So here goes......

Step 1: The heart

.......pretty similar I would say......and at least it looks 'heart-shaped'

Step 2: The border

...simple double-crochet into each stitch....so far so good

Step 3: Squaring off

This was tricky....and the border sort of took the heart out of shape. I think it is fairly similar. The corners need some work though. The stitches were very large (double double trebles etc as far as I could tell) so harder to determine.

I love the design and think I made a reasonable go, but will be turning to the pattern as soon as I get the time!

Bye for now,

SS xx

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Work in Progress Wednesday

Hello everyone!

Firstly I would just like to say a massive welcome and thank you to my new followers. I was so happy to see you following my sometimes aimless ramblings and sharing in my new projects and ideas!

This week has been a continuation of the chaos I posted about on Sunday really......the same projects are still ongoing and as yet nothing has been finished! I have been taking it a bit easier this week as towards the end of last week I was either crocheting or knitting for about 6 hours before work and my wrist was getting a bit sore. I am a bit worried about getting RSI so have been having a teeny rest. Back to business today though so I will keep this post short to maximise crafty time  :-) 

Here is the bunny I posted about on Sunday. Then it was just a small rectangle of stocking stitch (which turned out to be a leg). Here is is so far.......

......a cross between Morph and a giant clothes peg I think! Will definitely start looking like a bunny once it has eyes and its ears sewn on :-)

In between sentences of this post I am also working on the Crochet Camp 'Cold at night Handwarmer's. I now have a pair! I just need to sew in the ends and go button shopping. I will post about these once they are totally finished as they are quite lovely.

I am pretty excited as this afternoon I am popping on the tram to the nearest wool shop with a couple of friends. I have been teaching a friend to crochet and she is doing marvellously on her first blanket- I'm so proud :-) I hope she will let me share a picture once she has finished it! She would like to learn more about different types of wool and maybe start a new project so what better place to start than by going shopping!

Take care and enjoy the sunshine :-)

SS xx

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Crafty chaos.....arghhhhhh!!!

Hi everyone,

Hope you are all having a lazy Sunday :-) I am working this evening but can have a crafty day beforehand. The only problem is I HAVE TOO MUCH TO DO!! And don't really know where to start!

I have a few things that I have to have finished by the end of next week when I go back down South to visit my family, and typically I have done bits of them all.

Firstly there is the shawl I posted about on Wednesday. It is coming on nicely (and I have been brave enough to transfer it onto circular needles). Sadly I will not get to see the recipient of this shawl now so it can go on the back-burner.

I have also started the Crochet Camp 'Warm at night Handwarmer's but so far only made one....so not much use yet! The Artesano Alpaca Yarn used to make them though is beautiful, I love the colour and the feel of it!

I then realised that I may get to meet the latest (and cutest!) addition to our family and had bought the wool in the Deramores sale a couple of weeks ago to make a toy......so of course I have just started that too!

And if that wasn't enough I have been making some toadstool mushrooms for the 'Waxham Gnome Extravaganza' which I also mentioned Wednesday. These are so fun and quick to make but may be giving me RSI as my wrist it getting a bit sore. This is partly why I have been switching between crochet and knitting. 

You may notice that most of the toadstool have gaps where you can see the stuffing. This is because the pattern dictates a few rows of dc2tog, leaving gaps. this is not due to over-stuffing as they are still very soft. The toadstool second to the right however has none of these gaps!!!This is because I saw a couple of brilliant blog posts on PlanetJune, a brilliant Craft Blog with loads of amigurumi patterns, ideas and crochet a-longs, about making invisible decreases and also finishing off amigurumi crochet projects. These are definitely worth a look for anyone into amigurumi and provided the perfect finish for the toadstools. I have plenty more to make so will carry on with this newly learned technique- the gaps of the others will be covered with white felt spots!

Finally, to top it all off I really want to write up the pattern for the Strawberry Granny Square I designed a couple of weeks ago before I totally forget how I made it!

Oh well, no rest for the wool addict ;-) 

Have a good day,

SS xx

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Work in Progress Wednesday


Thanks for all my responses to my previous post on copyright and pricing etc. Since writing it there are a few things I would like to research, such as copyright relating to crochet magazines as I have been informed that some stipulate that you cannot sell items made from their featured patterns. I haven't looked at a crochet magazine in a long while (probably since I last saw Mum and Helen) but am eagerly awaiting my first subscription addition of Simply Crochet, so will look more into this topic then. 

Today has been a bit of an odd one....... I forced myself to spend the morning writing job applications, but had a lovely lunch in Pam's Kitchen in Manchester city centre with Pete as a reward. They even gave us complimentary tiffin- it was chocolately, gooey, biscuitty and delicious (had to use spell check once again)! Definitely not good for my lactose-intolerant tummy though! We then had a browse of a craft fair. It was nice but no way near enough knitting and crochet (well there was no knitting at all!) for my liking.

I then bought my costume for our 'Waxham Gnome Extravaganza'. I will tell you all about this later.....perhaps even tomorrow........but to cut a long story short we have to dress up as gnomes all bank-holiday weekend whilst camping/caravanning in a windy, rainy campsite- I'm not being pessimistic, the weather is usually rubbish! Despite the weather we have loads of, often alcohol fuelled, fun though! All my costume needs now are some crochet embellishments (of the creepy crawly kind!) which I will hopefully get round to soon.

I have been spending the afternoon on my current WIP, a lovely lace shawl for a friend to thank her for all her help during my PhD. Its my first lace project, and also the first time I have knitted in a while (I forgot how to cast on for a moment when I first started it!). However, progress was slowed somewhat by someone coming to test our fire alarms. Good job he did really as none of them were actually working! It did mean a good hour trying to concentrate with all the alarms going off full volume constantly. This coupled with someone coming to fix our leaky bathroom roof has meant for a slow progress. Thankfully I have the day off tomorrow to catch up.

I am using Rico Designs superba poems and 4mm needles. the pattern is by Emma Fasio and can be found on Ravelry. I chose it due to its fairly simple yet very effective design (it is my first piece of lace work!) and the way it is not too bulky and drapes nicely. It took me a couple of attempts to get started as my markers kept falling off! All was ok though once Pete explained the benefits of the reef knot! So, here is is so far........

Close up......

It definitely will need blocking as there are lots of loops in the middle bit that can only be seen when it is stretched out but am liking how it looks so far. I love the way the wool changes colour! I am a bit worried that it is a little bit fluffy though- I hate it when you get fluff in your mouth from your scarf!

And a surprise little present- a bay tree to add to our herb garden :-)

Had better get back to the shawl......I seem to have more projects lined up in the next couple of weeks than I have time for! Oops!


SS xx

Monday, 5 August 2013

Some interesting blog posts and thoughts.......


How is everyone? Remember a couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I had read some really interesting blog posts that I thought were very thought provoking and interesting? I would like to put these all together and share them with you.

As a newbie to designing I have not put too much thought into selling my items and/or patterns but I would like to in the future, and these posts cleared up a lot of unanswered questions I had. 

The first post came from a discussion on the Crochet Camp 2013 Facebook Group as to what laws apply to copyrighting your patterns and work. Despite the endless possibilities with crochet, some basic items are generally put together in the same way. For example, take the granny square which is one of the most widely used crochet motifs. Who designed it? Are we not all just copying this unknown person whenever we make something using a granny square motif? Can we really call an item made from a granny square our own design? To be honest, I haven't the foggiest! However, this post by Jen of LPCrochet, 'Hey.... that's mine!' gives us an insight into the actually law regarding patterns. Its a great read so I would encourage you all to have a look. It actually seems that it is only the pattern that is subject to copyright. So you can make things from someone else's pattern and do what you like with them (including selling them!). The only legal 'no no' is copying the pattern and passing it off as your own....and come on......who would do that anyway. 

So it seems, us crafters are doing nothing wrong if we use other people's patterns (and why wouldn't we with the multitude of free ones available?!) and sell items made from them. This is legally though. Morally it is still a tough one I think. Personally, and I know most would agree with me, it is always a matter of politeness to give someone credit for their design (all though legally you have no obligation). Plus, if someone has made something of my design I would love to see it purely out of curiosity (plus its proof that the pattern is correct!). There are also issues with 'mass production'. If I had designed something and a company decided to mass produce it without even letting me know then I would be very annoyed to put it mildly. There is a brilliant discussion about this following Jen's post that is worth a look.

What do you all think? What about adapting patterns? I would be really interested to hear your opinions. I think that taking even parts of patterns and adapting them still breaches copyright laws. But then take the granny square again.....there are only so many variations, does this mean that using a pattern incorporating granny squares is plagiarised from someone else ? What if you have never looked at a crochet pattern before and then designed yourself something that ended up (purely by chance) being very similar to something someone else has done? This topic is endless with so many ins and outs.

This moves me on to the next controversial topic regarding crochet design and selling.....how much should you charge for your work? I know many of you don't sell your work as it is very hard to make any money on it.....yarn can be very expensive and the amount of time taken to complete a project can amount to days. If you price things to make a decent profit then it may prove hard to actually sell your work. I know I have been guilty of browsing craft fairs and making exclamations about the extortionate price tags on home-made items. However, since I have been making more myself I totally understand why crafters charge what they do. But, what should you charge??? 

Since joining crochet camp I have been following Kim of Girls Wear Green. On the same day of the posts about copyright Kim co-incidentally posted about pricing her work and has generated a fantastic formula for how to price your work. It encompasses working out how much yarn you have used, to how to calculate your time and what to take as profit. Perfect! It will definitely be a useful tool when I start selling my work :-) 

I have also been reading a business series of blog posts by Lorene Eppolite of 'Cre8tion Crochet' about setting up your own crochet business. This is a brilliant series of 'lessons' from deciding what to sell, to pricing your work and maintaining a good work-life balance! Fantastic stuff!

If any of you have any ideas or comments relating to any of the above, or if you have any experience with setting up your own business I would love to hear from you :-) It would be great if we could get a mini discussion going about the fun and crazy business of crochet!

After all this writing it is time for a picture......
......Its a super-hero teddy I made for my fab friend Hannah (initials 'HP') for her Birthday earlier in the year.

Superhero Teddy by SallyStrawberry (body of teddy designed by Nicki Trench)

Take care,

SS xx

Friday, 2 August 2013

Crochet Camp Week 3- the charted pattern challenge!


How are we all? 

This post will be a bit different to my previous posts. Usually I complete (or near complete!) a project before blogging about it, so generally I know how the post is going to go. However, today I am winging it. I haven't actually started this project so will be sharing both the highs and the lows with you whilst I tackle what I think may be one of my biggest crochet challenges......reading and making something from a charted pattern! 

Remember I have been taking part in 'Crochet Camp 2013'? So far I have made the Cherry Delicious Potholder (and no, I still can't spell 'delicious' without the help of spellchecker!) and have been doing some granny squares. This weeks pattern is a flower brooch which is worked in the round. It would be a fairly simple pattern for me if I followed the written pattern- but that would just be a cop out and what would I be learning yeah? There is no better way to learn something than by doing it,  and I thought that I should just bite the bullet and get on with it! I have always been terrified of charted patterns......they all look so complicated....what do the symbols mean.....and how can I possibly remember what they all are?! Thankfully, the amazing Kat Goldin at 'Slugs on the Refrigerator', the crochet genius and facilitator of Crochet Camp has generated a tutorial for us all on reading a charted pattern which can be found here. Her instructions are so clear and comprehensive......so where could I possibly go wrong? :-) 


Ok, so the first thing I have learned is that actually the symbols are not that complicated and actually resemble the way the stitches are made. Also, every stitch is shown by a symbol, so every stitch is accounted for and no need to guess etc....

Right, I think I understand the pattern, just need a quick peek at the picture of the finished item to re-assure myself! This is Kat's version.......

Beginner Flower by Kat Goldin

Uh-oh! I think there may be some crocheting into the back loop only to get the 3D-ness of the flower. Where is this in the charted pattern?!?! Arghhhh. Ok, stay calm.....I haven't even picked up a hook yet and I'm getting stressed! Going to have to have a quick peek at the written pattern (thats ok cos I'm learning!). I also need to have a look to see where to change colours. 

Ah, think I get it now. There is a round of chains after the first row of petals (which fit behind them) that the second round of petals are made into. I can now see where this fits into the charted pattern. Had better get dressed, otherwise will end up in PJs all day! Back soon.....


All ready to go!

I am using Rico Creative Cotton Aran in 64 (pink), 52 (grey) and 05 (green- the same green I used for the leaves in the Cherry Delicious Potholder)

First round completed smoothly! It was a magic circle with 1ch to secure followed by 6 dcs into the ring. This is joined into a circle by a slip-stitch. The chart indicates that the slip-stitch should be made into the 1ch that I made at the very begining. However, from my prior knowledge (?!) I thought it best to join with a slip-stitch into the first proper stitch.


And we have sunshine! On drawing the curtain back to get a bit of light in I couldn't help but take a picture of our chilli flowers :-)  Not sure of the variety but hope to get some chillies from them. We have been growing these from seed since April when I got the seeds from the  Mexican restaurant 'Wahaca' in London when visiting friends (fantastic food, great prices, definitely go if you get the opportunity). They give them out after your meal instead of mints. So excited by the prospect of having our own home-grown chillies!

Back to business: next round. Ok, my 'prior knowledge' failed me in this case. I needed to do the slip-stitch into the 1st chain I made into the magic ring to be able to complete the next round properly.  I think I have just uncovered one of the benefits of following chartered patterns- there is no ambiguity as to where to put your slip-stitch-just  place it where the pattern says. Written patterns are never as clear about these things. 


Second round complete! Woo! I now have 7 'loops' in which to crochet the petals. Time for a colour change :-) The chart doesn't indicate this which is where the written pattern/picture of finished item comes in handy. 

Round 3: Bit of a hold-up as I started the third round using the tail end of the yarn! Start again.....

From the last round we have some 2ch spaces. I am presuming (although not 100% sure) that the next stitches should be made into this space. So here goes.....


Third round complete! I think it may be a little bit loose as I can see quite a gap between the grey and pink that I can't see in Kat's picture. I also don't think I have to join this round with a slip-stitch as there is none shown but there is an arrow to indicate to go straight onto the next round. So on to the fourth! This is the 'chain' round into which the second row of petals are made.

Uh no (again!) I missed a couple of petals. Third round take 2......but double' uh no'! I actually only had '6 loops in which to make the petals from round 2. Massive backtrack....


Right. I now have round 2 complete and 'correct'. It appears that on my first go I missed the last stitch.

So now to round 3 (fingers crossed!)


Round 3 complete AND IT HAS 7 PETALS! Sing-a-long moment...'Goldfinger' by Ash on the radio :-) Ash were the first proper band I saw when I was 13 (I was massively in love with the singer Tim Wheeler) so still have a special place in my heart!

Now onto round 4 the 'chain' round I mentioned about 20 mins ago!.....

The chains are joined to the main body of the flower by a slip-stitch every 3ch. I'm not really sure where I am meant to make the slip stitch (and I am not going to cheat by looking at the pattern again!) so will make it into the last stitch of each petal which I think is what the pattern is indicating. 

Half-way it looks ok the way I am doing it so going to stick with it.


Round 4 completed. Am happy with the way it looks :-) Now onto the 5th and final round......


.....and OH MY GOSH I THINK I HAVE DONE IT!!!!! It is a lot bigger than I imagined (I do crochet quite loosely though- OK Mum, I have finally accepted it!). Am really pleased with myself! Just need to do the leaves now which are not charted so will have to go over to the written pattern (phew). I will also take a look to see if what I did was the same as the written pattern. And on checking....YES! I got it right :-)  


Leaves done. Just needs sewing up. 

.....and TAH-DAH......the finished flower :-)

Beginner Flower by SallyStrawberry designed by Kat Goldin

I am really pleased with the finished product, but most of all I feel ecstatic with myself that I had the concentration to keep going and persevere and I really think that I have taken a step in the right direction to being able to read charts. In the next few weeks I am going to have a go at more charted projects (probably with patterns that also give written instructions as not brave enough yet to go 'fully charted') but I believe that learning to read charts will open up a whole new world of patterns to me- a very exciting prospect!

So, here you have my random train of thoughts (complete with all the distractions) on the way to learning how to read crochet charts. It took me a total of 2 hours to both read the hints and tips on how to read charts and then to actually make the flower. Not too bad really, and if I were to do it again I would whizz through (hopefully!). 

No way am I an expert but here are my charted pattern-reading tips I can offer from this project:

  • Trust the pattern- it is most likely right!
  • Make sure you understand the pattern before starting (same goes for any pattern really)
  • Double-check what you are doing so that you don't make mistakes that will cost you later one (again, same goes for most patterns!)
  • Print the chart out- I found myself turning my head around to follow the pattern on my computer screen and gave myself a bit of a head-ache! Means you can also tick off sections one you have completed them so that you don't get lost. 
  • There is nothing to fear (I think) :-)

Now to reward myself with a cuppa and an episode of Celebrity Masterchef!

Much love and thanks for reading :-)

SS xx