Two Jumpers and an Octopus

Two Jumpers and an Octopus

Two Jumpers and an OctopusI have managed to get a few projects finished off over the last week or so. I have completed two jumpers and an octopus, as well as conducting a small experiment with pattern grids (see “A Comparison of Pattern Grids”).

The two jumpers, more specifically a jumper and a cardigan, were for the same little girl I did the “pink knitting” for (see “Baby Knitting”). She is growing fast, as babies tend to do, and I thought her Mum might appreciate some more jumpers as the winter closes in on us.

Two Jumpers and an Octopus Two Jumpers and an OctopusThe pink jumper (yes, pink again!) was made using a pattern that is a bit of a favourite of mine. I have used it several times before and have always been pleased with the finished garment. In contrast, the pattern I used for the white cardigan was a new one for me. It was a free pattern off the “LoveKnitting” site. Some of the terminology was a little unfamiliar to start off with but I quickly got the hang of it and was very satisfied with the outcome.

Two Jumpers and an OctopusThe octopus was a sample I decided to do to try out one of the patterns I found when writing my “Octopuses (Octopi?) For Premature Babies” post.  I discovered that the crochet patterns I had found on two different websites were actually pretty much the same. I chose to use the one that was written using terms I was the most familiar with and really enjoyed the project.

Two Jumpers and an OctopusI used some left over wool for this octopus as it was only a practice sample. I have noticed that all the patterns I have are very specific about using 100% cotton yarn to make them for babies. They also need to be stuffed with fibre filling which is washable at 60⁰C. I was very pleased with my little practice octopus though, and will go looking for some suitable cotton yarn to make some “real” ones.

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The Origin And Popularity Of Amigurumi Crochet

The Origin And Popularity Of Amigurumi Crochet

There has been a literal explosion of amigurumi crochet all over the Internet. This is an explosion of extreme cuteness because amigurumi are miniature animals or dolls that are made with yarn and stuffed. They were first made in Japan but now are made just about everywhere. Just check online craft stores and you will see all kinds of cute little animals crocheted from yarn. In Japanese ami means things made from yarn and nuigurumi is the name of a specific doll that has no arms and legs, just a large head and torso. The first amigurumi are patterned after these dolls. These are probably the easiest things to make and are appropriate for a beginner to try.

You may wonder how crochet animals came from Japan when the art of crocheting was not done prior to around the nineteen fifties. In fact, the only Japanese people that actually knew how to knit were the Samurai warriors who made their own socks with toes in order to be able to get a better range of movement. Because they did not have patterns that came from their ancestors they made up their own unique techniques. They would make charts to crochet instead of writing the method out and used symbols and calligraphy to explain what stitches to make. The charts are so beautiful they can almost be framed to hang on the wall.

Amigurumi were first made when it was culturally acceptable for things to be cute during the fifties. During this time Hello Kitty, the white large headed cat with pink bows, made its debut in Japan. In the sixties Hello Kitty was even more popular. She was mass produced along with other sweet little cartoonish animals. At this point in time the office revolution was happening in Japan. Many families were moving to the big cities and children did not see their parents often because they were dedicated to work rather than family. Kitty and other cartoon characters were a way to keep that element of cuteness in life. The crochet animals were made and used like greeting cards to lift the spirits.

To make some of these cute little animals you use a smaller crochet hook than you would normally use for the size of yarn. The whole pattern is made in a spiral that never connects which entails marking the first stitch of each row so you do not get lost in the pattern. The Japanese charts are very hard for some to read because of the characters. It should be noted that the charts are merely a suggestion of how to make the animals. It is expected that once you understand how they are made you deviate from the pattern to make your own creation.

Patterns can be found that are totally written out instead of using charts, which is what most Western countries use in order to make yarn arts. The method is simple because you generally only use single crochet stitches (US – this is double crochet in UK terminology) and chains. Rows decrease or increase in number of stitches in order to make the animal round and make the shape.

The best thing about making the crochet animals is that any yarn left over from a project can be used. They do not take much and certainly not an entire hank of yarn. Some put beads and sequins on their creations. They are usually stuffed with poly fiberfill but old torn stockings can also be used. Many times they are filled with pellets or dry beans to make them more of a bean bag consistency. Patterns for cupcakes, lions, kittens, birds, and human like dolls in different professions can be found on line with a simple search. If you can crochet you will have no trouble trying to make one. And if you do be careful, they get very addictive and you will not be able to stop.

Want to find out more about Amigurumi Crochet, then visit our site on how to choose the best crochet patterns for your needs.

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Toy Crochet Patterns For That Special Someone

Toy Crochet Patterns For That Special Someone
Image courtesy of Pixabay

Toy Crochet Patterns For That Special Someone

The joy of crocheting often compels us to make all kinds of useful garments, place mats and tablecloths, in all manner of styles and in various colours. This fantastic use of yarn is however not used so much in the making of toys. There are a great deal of crochet patterns out there for a huge range of soft, cuddly bears and other outlandish characters.

Toy Crochet Patterns For That Special Someone
Image courtesy of Pixabay

If you’re on the look out for some fun toy crochet patterns, the internet provides lots to choose from. (Check out “Ravelry“.) Little teddy bears are often the preferred choice – coming in a bewildering array of styles – with or with hats and clothing; girls bears, boy bears. You can also find bears with specific occupations, so if you know someone who’s recently graduated from University, for example, you could crochet them a teddy in a graduation uniform! Police and firemen also all have lots of great crochet patterns to choose from.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even adapt one of your favourite soft toy crochet patterns to make it look like a member of your family! You should make sure it’s flattering though. Making a good likeness of someone you know is not always easy, even in the versatile medium of crochet, so it might be a good idea to create a prop that that person is normally associated with.

For example, if you’re partner is a plumber, then why not create a small plunger or spanner? If you’re not sure how to make such a prop and there are no crochet patterns detailing how to create such an item, you could perhaps visit a toy shop – those specializing in dolls house accessories are particularly good for little trinkets and props. Remember – the whole toy doesn’t need to be crocheted – so you’re not cheating if you use another material!

Often, when creating props using crochet, you’ll need to have some kind of solid interior to support the wool. This might be cardboard or plastic, but it certainly helps to create the shape of an object, as crochet itself can lack structural integrity.

Using one of the many crochet patterns out there you will be able to create any character you can think of. And if you can’t find one, why not try and adapt an existing pattern to your needs? It sometimes only takes a few changes to the face and clothing to make a likeness (a rough likeness admittedly) of someone you know.

For those with a great deal of experience this should prove to be no problem. But equally, it is important not to try something too demanding – so it’s worth checking through a few crochet patterns thoroughly, before you start.

Wherever you source your toy crochet patterns, there is a great deal of fun to be had in creating one of these fun items. A brief search on the internet reveals an exciting range of toys, for both children and adults. In these days of mass produced factory gifts, it is special indeed to receive a hand-crocheted toy from someone special. The time, energy and thought that goes into such a gift really tells someone how special they are.

Anna Stenning is an expert on crochet patterns having crocheted many a woollen item.

Octopuses (Octopi?) For Premature Babies

Octopuses (Octopi?) For Premature Babies
Image courtesy of Google

Octopuses (Octopi?) For Premature Babies

I have recently become aware of a new strategy that is spreading throughout neonatal units in a number of countries. People have been crocheting and knitting octopuses (octopi?) for premature babies in these units. (See the “Octopus for a Preemie” Facebook page.)

According to a press release from Poole Hospital, Dorset, in the UK, the idea originates from a hospital in Denmark. Research has found that cuddling an octopus comforts and calms the babies. Babies often grab hold of their umbilical cords in the womb and it is thought the octopus tentacles remind them of this feeling. The babies have better breathing, more regular heart beats, and higher oxygen levels in their blood. They are also less likely to try to pull out their monitors and tubes.

The Poole Hospital press release contains this quote:

Daniel Lockyer, neonatal services matron, said: “When we heard about the difference a cuddly octopus can make to our tiny babies we were impressed and, after research, eager to introduce them to our little patients. It’s incredible that something so simple can comfort a baby and help them feel better. We’re very grateful for all donations of crochet octopi and we’re sure the families who use our service will be too.”

Octopuses (Octopi?) For Premature Babies
Image courtesy of mynomadhome.com

I first came across this amazing work when I visited a site called “My Nomad Home: Octopus for a Preemie”. This lady wrote about a Danish group called Spruttegruppen which encourages people to crochet octopuses for premature babies. She has a pattern available on her site in both a US version and a UK version.

Octopuses (Octopi?) For Premature Babies
Image courtesy of prawelewe.pl

 

I didn’t want knitters to feel left out of this wonderful cause so I have also found another site, Prawelewe Art Studio, which has downloadable patterns for knitted octopi as well as crocheted ones. These patterns are available in both English and Polish.

 

This is a really worthwhile initiative which seems to be gaining momentum worldwide. Let’s all get on board and do what we can to help these precious tiny babies to find comfort and thrive.

Crochet and Knitting Proven Stress Relievers

Crochet and Knitting Proven Stress Relievers

A knitted or crocheted tote is something a lot of people simply walk past in tourist shops or push to the back of their closet most of the year. This is not the case in my family. Knitting and crochet have always been a big part of my grandma’s life, and I never really knew why until last week.

For every holiday my grandma would give her grandkids a knitted or crocheted tote along with another little gift. I think she knew I didn’t really use them, even though I always hung one on the back of my door like I would need to use it at any time. Grandma said she made so many that she didn’t need them for herself. I think she always hoped I would start getting interested in crochet or knitting just like she did when she was my age.

I volunteered to drive my grandma to her knitting and crochet club last week, without realizing it was over half an hour away. She walked up to the car with her usual knitting and crochet tote and supplies in tow. We had time to kill, so we naturally started talking about her knitting club meeting that day. She told me how she first began knitting and crocheting and why she continued to keep the hobby for 62 years and counting. She said that with all the stress in her life from working and raising three kids, she needed something to keep her calm. She needed anything constant that could keep her mind off of everything else that was bothering her.

I didn’t believe her at first that each knitting and crochet tote she carried somehow acted as a stress reliever. After later research online, I found out that she was actually right! Activities like knitting and crochet have a calming effect that can help manage anxiety. As a result, these activities even help medical conditions like asthma or panic attacks. Because of the stress relieving properties, knitting and crochet can also strengthen the body’s immune system.

Yesterday when I drove Grandma to her last club meeting, I saw her knitting and crochet tote and had a feeling of admiration and interest. I decided to do something I usually vowed never to do. I went into the meeting. I did go in there very well prepared, though. I looked up a Complete Beginners Guide to Knitting and Free Easy Crochet Patterns. I was baffled on my own and getting stressed just trying to figure out what all of these new terms meant.

At this last meeting I began something of my own. I made a crochet tote bag that was so easy, and I finally had a tote bag of my own for all my supplies. I finally made a bag that I’m going to actually use! After the meeting I decided that I’m going to look into some other stress relieving techniques, like a Ripple Afghan Crochet Pattern for my new apartment. Who knew staying calm and healthy could be so easy?

For even more fun knitting and crochet projects, check out www.FaveCrafts.com! Marly Schuman is a food editor at FaveDiets.com, but has learned a lot about crafting through her experiences working for FaveCrafts too!

 

More Crochet Articles

 

Easter Eggs and Baskets

Easter Eggs and Baskets Easter Eggs and BasketsEaster Eggs and Baskets

It seems a bit strange to be talking about Easter eggs and baskets when it feels like we have not long had Christmas, but Easter is now only a few weeks away. I have come across a number of free patterns lately with an Easter theme and thought I would do something a bit different for my grandchildren this year.

I decided to get started a bit early, so over the last couple of weeks I have been busily crocheting multi-coloured mini Easter eggs and baskets. The first batch, pictured above, has been finished and sent away. Needless to say they were accompanied by some chocolate eggs as well. I also sent the two jerseys I had recently finished (see “Using Patterns as a Guide”) which I had decided to hold back so that everything could be posted together. Now I need to keep going with the rest of them.

I know I shouldn’t be, but I am constantly amazed by the variety of things which people are able to make with crochet and knitting. The patterns I have seen for Easter projects include baskets ranging from simple to very ornately decorated, all sorts of eggs and egg shaped items, and a large number of bunnies. One thing which comes to mind that I would never have thought of is Easter egg shaped dish cloths. I guess they add a bit of fun and colour to the rather mundane tasks of cleaning and washing up.

I have to admit that I struggle with the commercialism of Easter (and Christmas). The true meaning and significance of Easter has been pushed into the background. Sitting down and spending time hand making gifts provides an opportunity to also think about the reasons we celebrate Easter. This is something very important to me and I hope that you find time for some quiet contemplation whilst making a few special gifts for some of the special people in your lives.

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Handcrafting to Support Charities

Handcrafting to Support Charities

Handcrafting to Support Charities
Photo credit : knitworld.co.nz/charity-knitting

 

There are many ways you can use your handcrafting to support charities. In my recent article “Baby Knitting” I mentioned the Plunket Society in New Zealand, and the “Knit For Plunket” programme they run to help support babies in families who are struggling financially.

The neonatal units in our hospitals are also always very grateful for any hand knitted hats and bootees people can donate to be used for the premature babies. A number of sites provide free patterns which you can use for this, but I would recommend that you make “Ravelry” your first stop.

It is not just babies who can benefit from your handcrafting. My eldest son is currently doing something called “The Longest Walk New Zealand” to raise awareness of, and funds for, local animal welfare organisations. He has his two little dogs with him and on one of his first stops a kind lady gave him some hand knitted jumpers for the dogs. She knits them for dogs in her local (Dunedin, Otago) SPCA shelter. You can find plenty of free patterns online (knitted and crocheted) if you would like to start doing this for an animal shelter near you, and Ravelry can be a good start for these too.

Handcrafting to Support Charities
Image by Parakitamol’s Blog – WordPress.com
Handcrafting to Support Charities
Image courtesy of Pinterest

I would like to recommend, however, that you contact them first to find out what help they need. Animal shelters in particular have differing needs at different times. You may find that in winter time they would love to have small blankets and dog jumpers, while in summer knitted or crocheted toys to provide entertainment for cats and other animals may be more useful. It may even be that the best way to help some organisations is to sell some of your handcrafted items and donate the money.

Handcrafting to Support Charities
Image courtesy of Google
Handcrafting to Support Charities
Image courtesy of Google

I have recently come across another idea involving making caps and scarves for cancer patients. Here again you can use your own patterns or find free patterns online. If you would like a little more assistance you can visit the “Craftsy” website where they sell a kit called “Chemo Cap and Scarf Knitting Kit”. Another website, “Leisure Arts”, has a page labelled “Knitting Charities“, which has a number of patterns for sale that can be used for charity knitting.

I would love to hear from anyone with other ideas for using handcrafting to support charities, and plan to do some follow up posts on this theme.

 

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