A new bird: Swallow

This week hasn’t felt much like summer, a bit grey and rainy, but I decided now was the right time for something summery and so here is swallow.

Swallow

My birds don’t have tails and I think I like them this way, but I suppose it’s a bit of a shame for a bird like swallow who has such a wonderful one.

Matt Sewell garden birds swallowMatt Sewell garden birds swallow

It was my birthday a couple of weeks ago and one of my favourite presents was this beautiful book Our Garden Birds by Matt Sewell. I really love his birds. I learnt that he contributed to the Caught by the River blog with a bird a week. So great. I love his descriptions of the birds almost as much as his illustrations..

I have a little plan for my next bird and hope this week I can find some concentration to do a bit of pattern writing so you can join me in making birds to brighten up the day! Have a good week. Fingers crossed for blue skies.

Here we are: Jackdaw

So I left last time with plans to bring along some summer this week, but I got a little bit sidetracked (and also forgot it was actually summer for much of this dull skied week)

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I have a little soft spot for this one though as he features in one of Rose’s favourite stories. And it brightened up a long wait for a driver-over-time-ban-reduced-service train to realise that the funny hobbling birds on the platform at Lewes were jackdaws. And I then enjoyed passing some time working out how I would crochet one… I liked looking closely and seeing how some of their feathers shine blue.

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My jackdaw looks a bit gloomy, but he is friendly. I am pleased to have worked out a good pattern for a larger bird too. For a little while he looked a bit like a penguin but now I am pleased.

This one was a tricky one for dark room crocheting, I kept finding many extra stitches appearing. Hopefully Albert will start to enjoy some lone sleeping again very soon. He has started crawling this week so wish me luck keeping my wool and hooks away from tiny hands.

And next time – summer!

Bird this week: Nuthatch

Have you ever heard of this one? I never had but would love to spot one now – little gem. When I saw his picture in my book I thought he must be made. Such great colour combination! There are quite a few varieties of nuthatch too which made my job a little bit confusing, but this one is based on the one you’d be most likely to see in Britain… (I think)

Nuthatch crochet bird of the weekNuthatch crochet bird of the week

Albert is going through some sort of wonder week (month), developmental, clingy phase at the moment, so I am back to mostly crocheting in the dark. So this was a bit of a triumph. I think I probably made about five nuthatches with all the trial and error and unpicking and redoing – phewee.

Nuthatch crochet bird of the weekNuthatch crochet bird of the week

Nuthatch has a lovely peach tummy and white cheeks and an amazing black eye stripe.

Now I am scanning my book (and the trees and skies) for more colourful specimens…

This week: Goldfinch

After my little chaffinch bird make last week, we actually saw a pair of goldfinches outside playgroup and I was very excited because I recognised them from my book and because they were really beautiful.

So in tribute to those sweet ones who brightened up our morning I decided to make goldfinch next!

Goldfinch

Goldfinch has a funny little red face and gold wings – I love his colour combination even though I normally prefer pastels. I am really hoping to see some more birds on my travels now.

Goldfinch

Back here with bird

hello!

I’m here and  it’s nearly July and Albert is 7 months old and growing like a champ (chimp) and I now have my evenings free from holding the baby as he is quite happy to go into his bed. Well done small Albert. This is good progress.

It feels like such a faraway time when I blogged and sewed and crocheted. Ah lovely time. I had decided that being on maternity leave would include all my endeavours but the time feels right to start turning my mind back to other things a little bit (scarily I am technically back at work from next friday – but thankfully I don’t have to do anything until September!)

Before Albert arrived I had been enjoying creating some little woodland creatures and friendly faces. So to help me get back into creating in the evenings and hopefully a little bit of blogging too, I decided to pick up again with something small and here now is a little chaffinch!

Crocheted chaffinch

Unfortunately he doesn’t yet have a tail as I’m just not sure how that should go, but once he’s complete I’ll be sure to share his pattern for you.

Field guide to birds of BritainA page of finches

I really got into this project of turning a bird into crochet. I found a lovely field guide to the birds of Britain and Europe in Oxfam while I was making him which I couldn’t resist – it felt like a gift. It has so many birds in it and has sparked my imagination. I think next I will have a try of another one on the Finch page.

Crocheted chaffinch

heart to heart

Our lovely baby now is three months and although I don’t dare actually try putting him down in the evenings, he sleeps very well on my lap in the dark and I have become a little more confident to stay up a bit later. I recently invested in a headtorch and decided to pick up my crochet hook for these holding baby in the bedroom times. A nice quiet pastime.

In honour of the occasion of the last week I decided to make some little hearts and they are sweet. I missed my Valentine’s Day deadline mostly because I got confused about which day it was, and mainly also because crocheting by torchlight is not so speedy and the torch makes my forehead itch a bit after a little while. But look, I got there in the end and have even written the pattern. They have taken up residence on Rose’s wall and look very lovely there (even though i didn’t line them up with the mirror very well, bit keen with the hammer)

Here’s how to make your own if you like:

Heart to heart crochet garland

U S E F U L  T O  K N O W

Y o u  w i l l  n e e d

DK yarn in three colours. I have used sirdar snuggly DK in colours 419 choo choo train, 344 oatmeal and 456 pretty coral. You could really use anything for this project, try lighter yarn for delicate hearts or chunky for a bigger bolder garland.

A 3.5mm hook

A tapestry needle for sewing in your ends

A b b r e v i a t i o n s

dc        =      double crochet (US single crochet) insert hook into stitch, yarn over hook and draw through, yarn over hook and draw through both loops.

st         =      stitch

sts      =       stitches

slst      =      slip stitch – insert hook into stitch, yarn over hook, draw through stitch and loop

ch        =      chain

dc2tog  =    decrease by crocheting two stitches together – insert hook into first stitch, yarn over hook and draw through, insert hook into next stitch, yarn over hook and draw through,  yarn over hook and draw through all three loops.

(10) – numbers in brackets tell you how many stitches you should have at the end of each round

M e t h o d s  a n d  t e c h n i q u e s

Magic ring  –  to form a magic ring, wrap your yarn twice around your four fingers on your non-hook hand to create two loops. Using your hook, pull the second loop (the one attached to your ball of wool) under the first, grip where they cross and slip your fingers out, then yarn over hook and draw through and pull tight to secure. Continue working into the ring for your first round as per pattern. (YouTube has some good videos which might be easier to follow – this is very difficult to explain in words!.)

This pattern is worked in rounds rather than rows so at the beginning of your round simply continue into the next st.

Also I am left handed if some of my work in progress pictures look a bit backwards!

Heart to heart crochet garland

T H E  P A T T E R N

P o i n t  a n d  b o d y

To begin, 6dc into a magic ring, pull end tight to close the ring and continue working in continuous rounds as follows:

  1. 2 dc into next st, 1 dc into next st, 2 dc into next 2 sts, 1 dc into next st, 2 dc into last st (10)
  2. 1 dc into every st (10)
  3. 2 dc into next st, 1 dc into next 3 sts, 2 dc into next 2 sts, 1 dc into next 3 sts, 2 dc into final st  (14)
  4. 1 dc into every st  (14)
  5. 2 dc into next st, 1 dc into next 5 sts, 2 dc into next 2 sts, 1 dc into next 5 sts, 2 dc into final st  (18)
  6. 1 dc into every st (18)
  7. 2 dc into next st, 1 dc into next 7 sts, 2 dc into next 2 sts, 1 dc into next 7 sts, 2 dc into final st  (22)
  8. 1 dc into every st (22)
  9. 2 dc into next st, 1 dc into next 9 sts, 2 dc into next 2 sts, 1 dc into next 9 sts, 2 dc into final st  (26)
  10. 1 dc into every st (26)

B u m p s

(please note that these rounds blend together as the last stitch of the previous round and first stitch on the next round are crocheted together to shape the edge so although I have numbered the rounds they are not quite so separate)

Crochet heart in progressCrochet heart in progress

  1. 1 dc into next 7 sts, miss the following 13 sts, 1 dc into following 5 sts, dc2tog (12 in this small round)
  2. 1 dc into next 11 sts, dc2tog (11)
  3. dc2tog a further 5 times (6)

Slst to finish. Break yarn and sew in end to close the opening at the top.

Crochet heart in progressCrochet heart in progress

Rejoin yarn at the opposite outer edge, dc into next 11 sts, dc2tog (12)

Repeat rows 2 and 3 once more and finish in the same way.

Press heart flat with your fingers so that your shaping falls at the outer edges. Sew in your loose ends.

To create a garland like mine you will need 7 hearts and simply thread a length of wool through. You could also use some for a mobile or sew a pin on the back of one to make a brooch, or maybe just leave one on your boyfriend/girlfriend’s pillow, or through their letterbox if they are only your boyfriend/ girlfriend in your imagination.

Heart to heart crochet garland

If you make some hearts please let me know, I’d love to see them.

Albert

Hello and happy new year! A little bit of a long overdue greeting from me. I am pleased to announce my best creation of 2016- Albert. Six days late and born on Rose’s birthday!

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Here he is with his wonderful big sister just a few days old (he is almost three months now – slow down time). She has been a real gem, I never imagined how patient she can be. And she just loves her brother. One day this week I got a bit cross with her and she went and sat with to him to sulk and tell him all about how misunderstood she was. Little partners in crime. I have been trying very hard to photograph them together every week to record how they grow. I’ll be sure to share some of those as the months pass.

Sorry if I vanish again for a bit – it’s quite busy here, but very nice and we’re having fun (despite the frozen winter and pouring rain) my evenings are mostly spent in a dark room with a sleeping baby and iplayer, but I am hoping for a chance to pick up some crochet again soon. I’ll let you know!

 

 

 

 

Woollen friends

So here I am – getting very fat, but at last on maternity leave! I have had a bit of a tiring few weeks of work, doing a few more hours than I was used to, and really struggling to keep on top of my life – but am pleased to be at home again now, and although Rose and I are not really doing any blog-worthy activities (our favourite pastimes at the moment are making ‘just add an egg’ cakes and ‘shout singing’ to Frozen!) we are enjoying this new pace of life and the new routine the autumn brings (I am sure she agrees!)

After Rose has gone to sleep though, I have really re-discovered my crochet hook and it is proving to be the perfect activity to relax with. I am mostly making woodland creatures. It’s nice to make some things just for fun. And I like the faces and taking pictures of them for instagram and seeing the other gems posted there. I have been trying to write up the patterns too, but this is a little bit more brain work than I can really manage at the moment, but maybe a project for the future.

Here are some pictures of some foxes – Felix and Sylvia… little friends…

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Happy woolly faces!

Donkey Derby

Today was the donkey derby in our little town and we popped along – what a funny little thing!

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I didn’t actually know what a donkey derby was, but found out it is actual donkey races! They were a bit chaotic and quite funny. Rose really had no idea what was going on but enjoyed seeing the donkeys, and also some owls which were there.

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She also had her first taste of fairground rides and it was a bit traumatic to drag her away from the merry go round! Luckily we managed to get her off after she’d been round twice as it was a bit of a pricey ride.

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Despite the grey sky this was a nice afternoon. We finished the day at the park where all the rides are free and Rose went to bed extra early tonight so that was a good sign.

I hope you’re enjoying your bank holiday too.

Happy Birthday Nanny Jo

Yesterday it was my mum’s and Rose’s Nanny Jo’s birthday! We didn’t manage to see her on the day, but had a get together today. Rose likes birthdays a lot and we’ve had a lot recently, although she still has a little way to go before her own. But she enjoys the celebrations and knows what’s important for a birthday – especially a cake.

So we decided it would be nice to make Nanny Jo a cake to celebrate, especially as she would never let any of our birthdays pass without it.

I whisked up a simple jam sponge sandwich secretly in the kitchen while Rose was eating her lunch. She love loves to bake, but we did a bit of baking over the weekend (bit of a baking flop – although I might share the photos of the mess one day….) and I was feeling like I was a bit baked out to bear a re-run so soon. Instead I decided to approach this activity as a creative cake decorating event, and Rose really embraced the challenge.

all set up for cake decoratingbirthday cake in progressa delicate operation cake decorating like a pro

I set everything up in advance, putting different decorative sweets into bowls and pre icing the cake ready. Since starting my blog I have tried really hard to do more creative activities with her, but this has really highlighted to me that she is not that interested in them – which is hard for me because that’s really what I like – she is more of a whirlwind climber / thrower type (although she likes the look of knitting so I haven’t given up hope) I have mostly given up on anything which involves too much structure for success, but she does have fun when left to her own creative devices – which is really hard for me, because I just want to ‘help’ her to make ‘something’. I wasn’t sure how this cake was going to go, but I was pleasantly surprised at her focus (and how much of the decorations made it onto the cake and how little she actually tried to eat). I was proud of myself too for keeping my guidance purely to the hygiene issues (don’t put that on the cake after it’s been in your mouth/in your ear etc) EVEN when she started on the sprinkles.

finished toddler decorated cake

And it tasted nice too. Nanny Jo and Grandpop seemed to enjoy their slices and Grandpop even had seconds! That is good measure of cake success.

Happy Birthday Nanny Jo! xx