Monday, 22 September 2014

#crochet

I'm finally able to tell you about a fantastic new crochet magazine that hit the shops last Friday.

#crochet magazine is a beauty. Its huge, its thick, the paper is lush and the patterns are fun and inspiring.

I was lucky enough to be invited to design some projects for this magazine. They asked me for a small desk toy amigurumi, some tiny charms and 10 mini pumpkins.

The brief was that they should be small quick projects that can be hooked up in a few hours.

I started with the desk toy. I knew I wanted to make a fox but I wanted it kawaii so I didn't want it to look to dog like. I tried a few things that didn't work and then I remembered the woodland critters I did for Craftseller magazine last year.

For this design I'd concentrated on the distinguishing features of the animal and put them on a simple body shape. I was pretty sure the approach would work again but I wanted to take it further and this time use crochet for the details not felt.

In the end this was the deign I came up with. The pattern came together quite simply from there. I used the Rowan cotton hand knit that I just used for the Love crochet magazine puppy  as the colour was perfect and soon this little guy was ready to be sent off.

I was so excited to see this new magazine and see my cute little fox design when I got my copy on friday. Here he is...

Isn't that a fab photo. Huge thanks to the guys and girls at #Crochet magazine xxx

Next up was the phone charms. The brief had given me a few ideas f what they wanted but they didn't really fit a theme so when I sent of my sketch I gave them loads of things to pick from.


In the end we when for the geisha girl, the acorn, the owl and the toadstool. They work together in a woodland theme, but I had so much fun making these though I am hoping to find time and get some more patterns worked out for the other designs.

I had planned on using DMC natura yarn which is 4ply to make them small but they were just coming out far too big. I was a bit stuck what to do, I didn't want to make the shapes smaller or they would lose their detail but I couldn't find a finer yarn in the colours I needed.

Luckly one of the girls I work with a Duttons  is also a crochet designer Steffie Glaves   and she makes stunning micro crochet jewellery like this

 For this she uses very fine quilting tread and a the tiniest hook. Check out her facebook page here. These bunting flags are a work of art and she gave me a great idea.

I've made some crochet jewellery before myself and then I used stranded embroidery thread. I wondered if that would solve my charm problem.

Not the best photo but this was the result of my attempt. You can see by the tape measure in this pic just how small they are. They make great phone or bag charms or you could group them together with beads to form a necklace or charm bracelet. The embroidery thread worked perfectly.

Here they are in the magazine...

I think they look really cute on the bark. Pretty much rocking that woodland theme :)

Now please don't be put having a go at making these of by how tiny these are. It is slightly more fiddly than normal amigurumi but you'll get you head round it quickly and you'll love it. I would recommend you use a hook with a soft grip so it doesn't hurt your hands. There are loads of diffret ones out there to buy or you can make your own like I did.

This is just some marbled fimo wrapped around the handle. I held it in my normal crocheting position before baking it so it would fit my hand perfectly. I made this hook over 2 years ago and its still going strong, although its likes to hide and I usually have to hunt it down before I can start any micro crochet work :)

Just a little break from crochet. As I type I'm being hemmed in on ether side by my cats and I really want to show you this lovely photo I took of them the other day when I was having a bit of a crochet marathon.


 I had them sat as they are how but as I was crocheting they were acting like a tag team to try and get the hook off me. My beautiful devils xxx

Back to #crochet magazine and my final project for this first issue was 10 pumpkins.

I didn't think a sketch was really needed here. I think we all know what pumpkins look like but I did send them this photo I found as inspiration.
I didn't really want to just do a lot of orange pumpkins and I thought as pumpkins and squashes come in lots of lovely colours that was the way to go.

I went for the Rico cotton aran yarns for these as they have the biggest range of yellows and orange shades. Orange is a shockingly neglected colour in yarn ranges I have found, maybe I should start some kind of orange support campaign?

It was a bit of a slog to make all 10 of these but I think the visual effect of them all together is really lovely. When they come home I'm going to keep them in a bowl as you can see in the photo above with the fox but I still like the way they have been photoed for the magazine.

I think these would make a great Halloween decoration without going down the spooky route. Or maybe you could make an Autumn wreath and use these to decorate it.

Well that's it for my projects in #crochet magazine but its full of lots and lots of other amazing projects too. I would think you'd be able to pick it up from and good newsagents like wh smiths but I'll add a link if you want to buy it online and I'm sure it'll be available as a digital download soon.

In none crochet news I have finally got around to doing a bit of decorating (I've only lived here a year and a half). I have a red wall in my house that I've never been fond of

Cal looking the red wall.

I have not really had the spare time to tackle it but also I was stuck on what colour I wanted to change it for but then I found this photo.

I love this combination of the teal with the yellows and grey. I was sold and as a plus I get to crochet lots of pillows, cushions and throws to go with the wall.

 Cal looking at the new fab teal wall.



Here it is my lovely new wall. Do you like my cherry blossom decal? Its super girly isn't it. I'm really happy with it and now just have to sofa to cover with throws and pillows and this is where I will be crocheting away the rest of the day.

Its been a while since I checked it on Handmade monday so I;m heading there now to catch up on my fellow crafty bloggers x




 






Thursday, 11 September 2014

August catch up

Already its the 2nd week of September and this is the first chance I've had to sit down and write a new blog post. I have a slice of cake (black forest yum), a piping hot cup of tea and my two kittys sitting either side of me like bookends to keep me warm so I'm all set to type away.

I'll start with work and its been a very, very busy month. I'm working on Christmas projects for various magazines at the mo. Crocheting up some lovely things that'll be able to share with you in a few months.

On to what I can tell you about...

This months see the release of the new Love crochet magazine and for the third time in a row I was asked to design their cover project. They wanted a puppy.

The last puppy we've had in the family was my sisters dog rusty

He a grown dog now but when he was younger he was a bundle of energy with massive paws, floppy ears, a big brown nose and an ever wagging tail. I knew I wanted to base my puppy pattern on Rusty and the main focus being the huge paws, big ears and nose. I wanted my puppy to have an eye patch - 'cause I think they are cute and I was going to give him a huge rubber bone because I thought he would like to play with it and I really wanted to have a go at writing a pattern for one.

Here the sketch I sent off. This one of the first drawings I've done that I liked, it felt like I was able to get what was in my head onto the paper for the first time.

Then it came to deciding on yarn. I had a pile of rich reddish Rowan yarn that I'd bought for a fox project that I'd hope to send to inside crochet magazine but till then just hadn't had the time to make.


It was the perfect colour for my puppy and because this cotton handknit yarn it quite thick and has no stretch to it at all it means that I would be able to make the ears stand up on their own so they would be positionable.

A bit of crochet and maths later and this was the result.

This was the picture I took before I sent him off to Love crochet magazine....


and here he is as the cover star of the magazine :)

I'm really happy with him. I think he looks lovely, I love his big paws and that nose xxx

I also had a cunning plan that when he came home from his little trip to the magazine I could give the puppy toy to my sister as her Christmas present. Clever right :) Well no, that was not to be because my editors loved him so much they decided to give him away to one lucky reader of the magazine. I think there is still time to enter too all you have to do is go over to their facebook page which is here and suggest a name for him (or her).

Talking about facebook pages if you don't follow me already the facebook page for amigurumi barmy is here. I've just done a give away myself that went really well and I now have over 4000 followers which is just wow. Thank you all who followed and I will be doing another giveaway very soon xxx

Up next is Craftseller magazine and can I have a mini fanfare for my second cover of the month

My patterned owls made it to the cover :) This is my 5th Craftseller cover in just over a year. I really can't believe it and I'm super chuffed.

This is how they started life in my sketch book (I forgot they wanted two with sleepy eyes when I did the sketch whoops).

This was a really simple design and didn't take long. I like that as it mean I know that its going to be super simple for everyone else to follow the pattern and sure enough within days of the magazine going on sale I'd seen loads that had been made and posted on Craftsellers facebook page and various crochet forums.

It really makes me happy when I see people using my patterns and making my amigurumis. If anyone ever whats to send me a pic of what you've made you can drop me an email at lizwardcrochet@mail.com if I get enough I'll set up a gallery on here and pinterest.

Craftseller wasn't done with me this month though they wanted another set of patterns and when I got the email I was so, so, so excited....

They wanted Red riding hood and the big bad wolf.

Now as a designer I have a list of things I really, really want to make some day and right at the top of that list in big shiny sparkly letters is my favorite nursery story red riding hood.
 I have wanted to make it for so long so that when Craftseller asked me to make it for them I was skipping with joy.

My not so great sketch. I had to design patterns for Red and the wolf, a picnic basket and flowers, toadstool and a tree. Yes a tree :)

I loved every second of this project, I was in a happy bubble from start to finish. I think this might be why my BIG BAD wolf actually looks very cheerful and friendly.

ok here it is finished ...

Don't you just love it. Look at my tree!!! and the cute little toadstools, wolfies big paws <3 and Red cape xxx


I can honestly say hand on heart this is the best pattern I have ever written. Go now and get a copy of Craftseller magazine while its still in the shops because if you love amigurumi and crochet you need to have a go at making these, you'll have so much fun xxx

Wait there's more... When I was making Reds cape I thought it would be pretty easy to scale it up to little people size for dressing up and general larking around in the woods :) So I've done it. Its nearly finished and it will be a free pattern on the craftseller website very, very soon.

Ok that's all for now. I'll tell you about my redecorating next time and there is some very exciting news coming up of a brand spanking  new crochet magazine that out on the 17th of September.







Sunday, 17 August 2014

Working weekend

Gosh I'm tired. I haven't moved much in the last 48 hours but I have that lovely feeling that my work is nearly done.

This might not look very interesting but this has been my weekends work. There are three different magazine projects in there just waiting to be sewn up. I used to start and finish a project before I started on the next but as the commissions are coming in thick and fast I've found this is the best and quickest way to get everything done on time.

I can't say much more about these projects till they are printed but see if yu can work out for yourself what that little lot is going to be.

The most challenging thing this weekend has been working with boucle yarn.

This is a textured yarn and so its really difficult to see your stitches and where to go next. Its been a right pig to work with and I've got quite grumpy with it at times. I've been asked to write a tutorial on how to crochet with textured yarn to go with this project so I'm going to try out some tricks to make it easier to explain how to work with it. I think this is a good enough excuse to use the left over yarn to create some more patterns for my etsy shop. I I really want to make a llama pattern :)

My cats Cassi and Cal have been watching over me as I work. I've had a lot of problems with them wanting to sit on or next to me while I'm doing my crochet work. I love them and would be happy for them to be there but they seem to think the yarn, my hook and whatever I'm making are all toys. Somehow I don't think my editors would be happy if  the yarn used to create one of my amigurumi designs has flossed a cat first.

Luckily my tower boxes of yarn have come to my rescue as they now take it in turns to sit on top and watch me.

Cal on Saturday
and Cassi today.

I have now built another pile of boxes so they both have a tower to sleep on so there is no fighting.

 I have another free pattern coming soon. This jam jar cosy will be available next week via Craftseller online (i'll add the link when it goes live).
There is going to be quite a lot of new patterns coming soon and a lot of them will be free. If you have any requests please leave me a comment. I'm always looking for new ideas. (Mum if your reading this I know you want your beaded lace milk jug cover, I've not forgotten, I'll be working on it soon xxx)

My other little pet project is this space invaders inspired cushion. Its made from little squares each about 3cm sq. I've a way to go as it takes lots of squares but they only take 4 mins each to make (I timed myself). Its gonna be a big floor cushion. I'd like to make a set of three but that might be pushing my spare time at the mo..

So that's it from me this week. Its time for a well earned glass of wine and a cuddle with my kittys, while I hop over to handmade monday and catch up on my fellow crafters blogs

Monday, 11 August 2014

Kitty Kats

Time for a little catch up.

Things are starting to settle into something more like a routine here at amigurumi HQ. For the first two weeks of the month my work load is quite light, I am able to catch up on things and make time for friends. The last two weeks however are full on work and crochet becomes not just a full time job but a 24/7 takeover of my life.

I was once again honored to be asked to design a projects for the cover of Love crochet magazine. They asked for two cute cats. With such a wide brief I send of two very different designs for them to choose from. I was quite shocked when they reply came back and they wanted both, one for the July mag and one for the September issue.

This was the first design

Two little cats playing dress up. I really wanted to go to town on the cute factor and couldn't resist having hearts for noses and feet pads.

Finished they looked like this...

They are a simple design but I've used some interesting techniques that make them really fun to make and give a great finish. I love how the ballerinas tutu looks so perfectly ruffled, and that's all done with the crochet, no sewing is needed to get that effect.

 Bow and Belle such sweet names. I'm really happy how the colours of the Rico baby cotton has turned out in the magazine, that jade green is one of my favorites at the mo and it works really well with yellow.
Here they are looking lovely on the cover of Love Crochet magazine. This is my 10th cover projects and each one just makes me happier and happier. Maybe I should get them framed?

Did I tell you Love Crochet magazine are now on Facebook if you follow this link you can find and like their page and even get sneaky peaks of whats coming up in the next issue

It was defiantly a cat themed month as Craftseller also wanted cats, but they wanted alley cats :)

I got a long list of strange and interesting things they would like me to crochet to go with a scene of three cats. Bins, fish bones, apple cores tin cans and more. This was gonna be great fun to create.

This was the sketch I sent off. There is the top cap on his veg crate and his silly friend in the bin. I thought it would be fun if the third cat was a house cat who was friends with the gang and brought them a fish from home when he came to play. It was decided to keep them all as street cats so I changed his shiny collar to a funky neckerchief.

I used the lovely DMC natura yarn as it's a 4ply so I could get all the detail in it with it.

Deconstructed there were I think 50 or so components that were individually crocheted to create this scene. That might seem a lot of work and yes some of them can be a little bit fiddly to make. Actually each piece only takes a few mins to make and you get a wonderful sense of achievement when you completed the set.


 Here they are before they when off to the magazine for their photo shoot. The brown one in the bin is still my favorite, he looks like he'll be a lot of fun.

I really like that Craftseller magazine push me as a designer to be more creative and come up with new and really interesting  designs. I had a ball making these guys, there was lots so problem solving and quick thinking to get the shapes and create all that trash but it was so much fun. I think this will always be one of my favorite patterns :)

Here they are in the magazine, don't they look great xx

That wasn't all Craftseller magazine had in store for me this month as they also wanted a pair of slippers.

This was a much more simple design. I'd made a few pairs of slippers before for myself and while I had a pattern scribbled in my note book it needed a bit of refinement before I could let it go to the magazine.

This pattern is created using the classic toe up method which means they can be easily adjusted to fit any foot size. I've kept the design simple with just a few flowers for decoration. I think the combination of teal and lilac works really but really you could go for any colour combo and get a great result.
I used another DMC yarn for these, their wooly range which is a 100% merino and is super soft against the skin.

Both Love Crochet and Craftseller are in the shops now so if you want to have a go at any of these patterns you can grab a copy at any good newsagents or supermarket.

In not crochet news I took a day off and when with my Mum, sister and nephews to the Railway museum in York. My nephew Lucas is train mad and a great time was had by all

This is me in front of the royal train.

Me and Lucas by the Mallard.

Well I'll leave it there for now and head over to Handmade monday to catch up with all the other lovely craft bloggers





Thursday, 31 July 2014

Better late than never



As the new issue of Craftseller magazine hits the shops today, I realized I'm behind in my blog posts and haven't written about my projects in the previous issue, better late than never here it goes.

My first project in this issue was a sun hat for a small child. I didn't send a sketch in for this one. My editors had asked for a big floppy hat with a big flower and I figured everyone would know what that was going to look like without my silly sketching skills.

 We went with a classic cream hat and a big trendy coral flower and doesn't it look smashing
.
 My biggest problem with this design was getting the size right, I didn't have a small child to hand who's head I could measure to hand. I sent a shout out on facebook and my lovely friends with children thankfully they answered my call. I them blew up a balloon to the average circumference size and used that as a basis to work from. Its all about finding creative solutions to silly problems, that's the life of a designer.

I think the great thing about this pattern is as you are making it you'll soon get the hang of how the increases work so you'll be able to add in a few more increase rows if you want to make it bigger.

I love how this pretty hat turned out, its not as quick to make as some of my smaller amigurumi projects but its a really nice, simple and relaxing make. Being an easy make I was able to leave my crochet cave and do a bit of crocheting on the bus on the way to my friends house and finished the main part of it while watching Wayne's world and trying to catch up with my friend (crochet and conversation isn't always compatible).

The next projects was a amigurumi picnic. I got a big long list of food to crochet, a cake, sandwich, macaroons, and a load of fruit.

This was the approved sketch and I think the finished foody items turned out really close to this sketch.

 There was a lot to get my head round in this design as there are a lot of different shapes to play . The biggest challenge was working out how to make a triangular shape while working in the round. This wasn't something I had ever attempted before so I had to start from scratch and work out the maths. In the end it turned out to be quite simple and I'm happy with how the pattern came out.

The other challenge with this pattern was just getting my head round the concept that I'm crocheting food. I know I can be a bit childish but I couldn't stop myself from sharing with the world on twitter that I was crocheting cheese :)

I do love this sandwich but gosh I was hungry all the time I was making it, I was even dreaming about food while making this set.

This was my reward for finishing this project a scrummy bacon sandwich with brown sauce and a lovely cup of Yorkshire tea, yum x

This project was so huge that they couldn't fit it all in the magazine so the macaroons when onto the Craftseller website as a free patterns available here

If you missed out on the magazine back copy's are available from Craftseller.com but this macaroon pattern will be available for free indefinably on the above link.

Right that's me relative caught up. I'll have my post about the newest Craftseller coming soon but if you take a look at the top photo you might get a sneaky peek at my alley cats xxx