Monthly Archives: December 2014

Patching Jeans With Crochet

Hello, hello! Do come in. There’s still space on the sofa. Make y’self comfy – I’ve got something fun to show you today that will, I hope, make you smile.

Is everyone here now? OK.

I’m not afraid to admit, I do enjoy a good scrumble of an evening. It fair warms the cockles of my heart, I tell you. Never heard the word scrumble? Well definitions are divided into those that involve baking apples with blackberries (yum), and those more relevant to this post that involve creating small freeform crochet (or knitting) motifs, to be combined into a larger freeform design.

Tonight, I’ve been a-scrumbling with a purpose. A combination of ultra-cheap jeans and hours spent crawling on the floor playing farms with the Toddler Twinnage leads, inevitably and without deviation, to this dismal state of affairs:-


So I decided to crochet away the problem with a 2.5mm hook, a tapestry needle, and some DMC Natura cotton 4-ply yarn. Now feel free to learn from my mistake, because I unwisely started by using a tapestry needle to chain-stitch a border for my motif.

hole 1a

But I came to regret that, because it’s much easier to freeform outwards than it is to freeform inwards. Ah well, folks. I make the mistakes so you don’t have to.

Nevertheless, a semi-reasonable abstract design began to take shape, created by a combination of working bits of motifs separately to be inserted, and crocheting inwards from the border:-

hole 3a

Or at least it was supposed to be abstract, but it started looking overly like a bird, so I decided to doodle a little with some lilac thread and a tapestry needle:-

hole 7a

What do you think? Not too bad? And have you any idea how difficult it is to take a photo of one’s own knees?? Let’s have another go:-

hole 6a

I’m going to embroider a couple of lilac curls on the other knee too, because I think it will protect the underlying fabric from ripping.

Anyway, should you have jeans of your own that you wish to mend, here’s what I suggest:-

  • Use a thin yarn and a crochet hook. *whispers:* When things get difficult, you can abandon your crochet hook and embroider with a tapestry needle. But please don’t tell anyone I said that.
  • Place a block or small hard-backed book inside the jeans leg so that you don’t inadvertently sew through both sides. I found a small edition of The Very Hungry Caterpillar very useful.
  • As you would with any scrumbled freeform design, start by working two or three little motifs, then join them together to make a shape that more than covers the hole in your jeans. Sew the finished work into place. Of course you can follow my example and chain-stitch around the area first, but I’m really not sure I’d recommend that.
  • I then used a tapestry needle to chain-stitch across the design.

And that’s all there is to it, I’m happy to say.

hole 4a

Meanwhile, it’s cold here, but there’s not been even a hint of snow. 🙁 We’ve been on shivering walks and seen old man’s beard, which makes you feel as though you’re in a snowstorm if you screw up your eyes and squint at it:-

Old Man's Beard

Old Man’s Beard

…and some richly red bramble leaves…


…and an old hill fort dating from the Bronze Age and Iron Age. Look, you can see its

stepped sides on the right:-


But enough of that, my friends. I would like to leave you with two words, on which matter there will be more soon: arctic qiviut. 🙂


Filed under Crochet

More Crocheted Christmas Decorations

OK, here’s one for those of us who are – ahem – not yet quite fully sorted on the Christmas festivity front, despite the fact that guests are starting to arrive tomorrow and the house is a squalid tip. Also for those at the other end of the spectrum who are so blisteringly well-organised that you’re already getting busy with coordinating the table ornaments for Christmas 2017. If you’re a member of the latter group, please understand that I’m ever so slightly scared of you, so if I don’t quite make eye contact, it’s nothing personal, OK?

By the way, I do like your Christmas tree – so pretty! And those ornaments you’ve put up are delightful. But how about a few more room decorations? We could crochet some ‘paper’ chains and hang them across the windows – what do you think?

The method for crocheted paper chains is just as for the knitted paper chains I showed you recently, and it’s so simple that the most nervous beginner can make them without even breaking a sweat. Since Christmas is nearly upon us, I would encourage you to make these in reasonably sizeable yarn for speed: I used Vanna’s Choice in a variety of shades. (Yes, 2017-planners, you may indeed work an intricate fairisle design in 2-ply, just to show the rest of us up.) But assuming you’re using aran/worsted-weight with a 5mm hook, here’s the deal:-

***US crochet terms used throughout.***

1. Loosely chain 27.

2. Turn. Chain 1. Skip that chain and then sc into every chain. (27s)

3. Repeat row 2 until your work is 4cm wide. Cut your yarn and pull through.

Make a few more in different colours. Once you’ve accumulated a pile of crocheted strips, give yourself a friendly pat on the back and start joining them together to form a chain. ‘Tis up to you, my fine fearless friends, how you join the edges: you can slip stitch if you want to keep your crochet hook busy, or you can whip out a tapestry needle and sew the blighters.

xmas 1a

And that’s it. Yup, it really is that simple. Of course, you can decorate your chain with all manner of beads and sequins and glitter and fancy gubbins, but the basic chain is the simplest crochet imaginable. Enjoy.

Now, what’s next?

Oh yes. Little crochet wreaths.

xmas 6a

The knitted version is at the end of this post. So to crochet your wreath, grab some lovely rich DK/light-worsted-weight, preferably in a variegated green such as Fyberspates Vivacious Deep Forest.

***US crochet terms used.***

1. Chain 5.

2. Turn. Chain 1.

3. Skip one ch, then sc into 5ch. (5s)

4. Without turning, sc into the first stitch to join into a round. Continue to sc into each sc, working a 5-stich-round spiral upwards until you achieve the desired length (sufficient to make a 5cm-diameter wreath). Pull through and cut the yarn, leaving a 10cm tail.

5. Take a piece of wire, slightly longer than twice the length of your crochet. Fold in half, and pinch the fold tightly with pliers. Insert up through the centre of your crochet.


Bend the crochet-covered wire round to form a circle. Join the two ends of wire and conceal inside the crochet. Use one trailing end of yarn to sew the crochet together.

xmas 2a

Now to ornament your wreath. 🙂 Use whatever materials you wish, but I recommend twisting a narrow metallic red pipe-cleaner or two around the wreath like this:-

xmas 3a

…then sewing a little bow on to finish. And you’re done! Ta-da!

xmas 5a

If I don’t get a chance to say it on the day, MERRY CHRISTMAS!


Filed under Crochet

The Ivy-Covered Camera Knitted Camera Strap That Sneaked In Ahead Of The Post About Crocheted Christmas Decorations

I know, I know, I said the crochet paper chains were coming next, but this post sort of barged in front. How very rude! Apologies on its behalf – it was badly brought up and has no manners.

So, have a seat and tell me, are you ready for Christmas? You are? Ooh, you’re well ahead of me – I’m so disorganised. I’ve got a good present idea, though, that you could knit for the photographer in your life. Or maybe you’re keen on photography y’self, in which case you might be able to use one of these for your camera. Look! Pretty, no?

It's quite hard to take a photo of one's camera. What do you use to take it? Hmmm. I was almost reduced to drawing a quick sketch instead...

It’s quite hard to take a photo of one’s camera. What do you use to take it? Hmmm. I was almost reduced to drawing a quick sketch instead…

The thing is, the straps that come with digital SLR cameras these days are a bit uncomfortable, and they’re not exactly beautiful. Time to do summat about this, methinks. What I’ve designed is a stranded cover for the wide part of the strap. And having figured out the basics, I was staring out of the window, pencil in hand, wondering what sort of pattern should be on the strap, when my idle gaze fell on the blimmin’ ivy sprawling up our garden fence. Must do something about that wretched ivy, I thought. So I did. I put it on the camera strap. Ha! That’ll learn it – I bet it’s scared, now. And for the other side of the strap, I doodled a happy, abstract pattern. If you want to create your own design for this pattern, I’ve got some tips here. Being a stranded design, the resulting fabric feels quite thick, making for a nice comfortable strap.

photo 3

Would you like to make one? I’m happy to share the pattern, in exchange for a steaming mug of green tea, if you don’t mind popping the kettle on. Ooh, are those some biscuits? Don’t mind if I do….

First, some basics. The finished work in the photos measures 73×4.5cm, and should fit over the wide part of most standard straps (but the length can be adjusted for any model). It’s knitted in the round on double-pointed needles (DPNs).

Yarn: One ball of Rico Design Superba Poems, in ‘Tropic’. (Yarn ‘A’ in the pattern below.) One ball of Rico Design Bamboo Uni, in ‘Ecru’. (Yarn ‘B’.)

Needles: one set each of 3.0mm and 3.5mm DPNs.

Gauge: 30s, 42r to 10cm square in stockinette on 3mm needles. But really, I wouldn’t get too hung up on precise gauge for this project.

photo 2

Right, off we go!

Cast on 30s on 3mm needles in yarn A. Divide stitches between three DPNs as follows: 15s on first needle, 8s on second needle, and 7s on third needle. Join in round. Fetch tea, and some of your very very best biscuits. Settle y’self in your comfiest chair, and put your feet up on a footstool…. or the dog…. or one of your children. You’re going to be here for a wee while, my friend.

Round 1: *K1P1. Repeat from * until end of round.

Rounds 2-18: As row 1, to create a band of 1×1 rib.


Round 19: Drop yarn A. Introduce yarn B and knit all stitches around. As you remove each 3.0mm needle, replace it with a 3.5mm needle, until you are working exclusively with the larger size.

Round 20: Drop yarn B. Pick up yarn A, and knit all stitches.

Round 21 onwards: Begin working from the bottom right of the pattern chart (which I’ll come to in a minute…), using the coloured yarn A for the background, and cream yarn B for the leaves and pattern details (marked as ‘X’s on the chart). Work in the round from right to left on every row of the chart, with the 15 stitches on the first needle being used for the whole of the ivy design panel, and the abstract pattern on the reverse being split between the needle with 8 stitches and the needle with 7 stitches. OK? Yeah? When you get to the top of the pattern chart, pour yourself some more tea and start again from the bottom. Continue until you’ve worked the length of the wide part of the strap. In my case, I worked just over 1 ½ repeats of the chart, but your camera strap might be a different length from my Canon.

Next round: Drop yarn B. Work a round in knit stitch with yarn A.

Next round: Drop yarn A. Work a round in knit stitch with yarn B. As you remove each needle, replace it with one of the smaller 3.0mm needles until you are just working on the smaller needles.

Next 18 rounds: *K1P1. Repeat from * around to create the second cuff in 1×1 rib.

Cast off. Weave in ends. Have y’self another biscuit.

Wash and block. All manner of unevenness and dodgy stitches will magically sort themselves out.

photo 4

And you’re done! See, it wasn’t that hard. Anyway, you need the chart to actually knit this, don’t you? So here it is! Ivy Camera Strap Cover (You might need to right-click on it to get it to open or save.)

Now, are there any more of those biscuits?

cam1a The Ivy Camera Strap



Filed under Knitting

Easy Crochet Christmas Decorations, Part One

Right, people, it’s crochet time. Hooks to the ready, my fine fearless friends. Mince pie, anyone? That’s it – do pass the plate round.

We’re getting properly festive here at the ‘Yarn. The tree is up. The Toddler Twinnage is over-excited. The Stoic Spouse is…. stoic. And there are decorations, especially the little trees, Santa, paper chains, wreaths, and candles that I knitted the other week. But now we’ve got our hooks all ready, it’d be a shame not to use them, so shall we make some crochet versions of all of these? Please say yes.

OK, let’s take it from the top. Here’s a very easy little crocheted Christmas tree. The method is exactly the same as for the knitted version. Find some lovely green DK (aka light worsted) yarn. I’m using Fyberspates Vivacious in ‘Deep Forest’, which is just about perfect for a subtly variegated, leafy effect. Look!

Easy Crochet Christmas Tree

Easy Crochet Christmas Tree

You’ll need to work a square in double crochet (US terminology, so that’s treble crochet here in the UK). With a hook sized to match your yarn, loosely chain between 15 and 22 stitches, depending on whether you want a smaller or larger tree. (I recommend making a variety of sizes if you’re working a little plantation of these trees.) Turn your work, chain 3, then work back working double crochets (US terms) into every stitch. Repeat until you’ve worked a beautiful square. Woah, you’re ahead of me! Look, I’ve only got this far:-

a in progress w

When you’re done, enjoy a mug of lovely mulled wine. Aaahhhhhhhhhhhh. 🙂

Now for the making up. Follow the directions exactly as for the knitted version. In short, fold the square nearly-but-not-quite in half, as in this photo. It really won’t work well if you fold it completely in half, so it does need to be like this:-


Roll the tree up from one side across to the other, using the long tails to sew up the base and a curved seam up the back from bottom to top. You’ll need a smidgeon of toy stuffing to bulk out the top part of the tree.

a sewing up w

So far, so good, but isn’t it just begging for a few decorations? As before, I’m using tiny metallic pipe cleaners for tinsel and to shape the star on top, and metallic beads for baubles. But feel free to go for it with the sequins and the glitter, too. Express your inner bling, people. 🙂 Quick tip: if you stick the ends of the pipe cleaners into the crocheted fabric, they should stay pretty still without having to sew them. Easy, no? Hurrah! Here’s the finished tree, standing slightly aloof from its knitted colleagues:-

Knitted And Crochet Christmas Trees

Knitted And Crochet Christmas Trees

Now, one more easy-peasy crochet make for today, and then we’ll leave the crochet paper chains and wreaths for my next post, OK?

So, here’s a very quick and simple candle. It’s even easier than the Christmas tree. First, you need to crochet a rectangle in pale cream yarn. You can use any thickness of yarn and you can use either single crochet or double crochet stitches (US crochet terms). In the example below, I’ve worked double crochets in chunky yarn, which gives quite an uneven surface, but if you want a very smooth, realistic surface you could use quite thin yarn in single crochet stitches.

a candle w

Now, how big a rectangle to make? Well, the example in the photograph was made from a rectangle 24cm wide and 12cm high. So perhaps start with that, and then vary the size any way you like. (I wouldn’t recommend attempting a tall narrow candle, though, unless you want to reinforce it with wire.) I rolled up the rectangle loosely from the side, and sewed it down the back using the cast off tail of yarn. Making the wick is easy. Take a narrow metallic pipe cleaner. Leave a 2cm end to poke into the candle, then bend round to make a little circle for the centre of the flame, then twist round again to make a bigger loop that you can pinch at the top to form the tip of the flame. Cut the pipe cleaner so that both ends have 2cm spare. Twist the two ends together and poke them into the crocheted fabric. And you’re done!!

Would you like another mince pie? Oh…. they seem to have all gone. I don’t know how that happened… Um…


Filed under Uncategorized

Winter Knitting

A small quiet post for a cold, cold December evening. Come sit here beside the fire and tell me honestly what you think of these fat green olives. Oh, and do have a dribble of rioja, too.


We’ve been hunkering down for winter here at the brewery, a statement that I appreciate will sound faintly ludicrous to those of you blessed/cursed with proper winters. In my defence, all I can offer is this: ice-on-the-inside-of-the-windows. Not now, obviously, but sometimes. Time, I think, to head off to the welcoming warmth of the pub:-


Notice the Stoic Spouse’s iron grip on his pint, there. Ain’t nobody gonna steal his beer.

Anyway ( <– a word so vastly over-used on this site that it should be taxed at source), I’m properly cheery that so many people enjoyed the easy-to-knit Christmas decorations here, here, and here. Let’s not mention the penguin. Thank you to those kind people who emailed pictures of your creations, and do feel free to share them with a happy wider audience on the ‘Yarn’s Facebook page. Newsflash: crochet versions of the patterns will be revealed very shortly…

Meanwhile, Carole Beck has written an article for the Tesco website about easy-peasy Christmas crafts for children, and look whose work is described and pictured on page one (and page four)! It made me smile from ear to ear, I tell you.


Oh, and whilst I’m prancing round this post showing off like a post-bedtime five-year-old on a sugar rush, may I show you this little snippet from Let’s Knit magazine?

Excerpt from Let's Knit magazine

Excerpt from Let’s Knit magazine

That reminds me…. Look out for a shortly forthcoming article on the Let’s Knit blog, to be appearing just as soon as I’ve finished knitting this:-


Yup, I’m back to designing and knitting stranded patterns. Honestly, people, it’s like coming home.

Wishing you a week of peaceful, happy knitting and crochet.


Filed under Knitting