Christmas traditions and amigurumi

9781452103600OK, so as I write this I’m munching away on Easter chocolate, and Christmas is so last year already, but I’ve been wanting to tell you about one of my family’s Christmas traditions. Every year, I make each of the kids a handmade gift. I didn’t even know that they’d noticed, or cared particularly until two Christmases ago when I said to Miss Missy that I didn’t think I’d be able to make her anything because I was running out of time.

But Mum, you ALWAYS make me something for Christmas! It just wouldn’t be right if you didn’t!

Wow, OK kid! I just couldn’t say no after that, could I? So at the last minute (and I mean seriously – I was stitching at like 5 minutes to midnight Christmas Eve) I whipped up a patchwork and applique cushion for her bed.

This Christmas (or is that last Christmas already now?) my problem wasn’t time, it was coming up with what to make. Miss Missy is a newly minted teenager – the smocked dresses, applique T-shirts, or cutesy hair accessories of years past just weren’t going to cut it. What to make was on the back of my mind for months, when I found the perfect thing: a crocheted amigurumi unicorn.

Now I had a new problem: I don’t crochet.

I don’t mean that I CAN’T crochet. I can; I learnt how years ago when I was in school (Steiner education, you know). I just never got good at it. My first attempt was supposed to be a hat for myself. But I gave up in disgust when the other kids in my class were wearing their beanies already, and all I had was a misshapen things that looked like a floppy sunhat – not for my head though, all it would fit was my Sindy doll (if you don’t remember Sindy, she’s about Barbie’s size!). It suited Sindy but I wouldn’t call the hat a success!

d2364bbd-d097-4ee7-80c4-9e70d8bce6f7A few years – and many successful non-crochet craft projects later – I tried again. This time, I decided to make some snowflake Christmas tree decorations.  They looked so pretty in the pattern book I thought it was worth giving crochet another try. Well. I stuck at it, and made three snowflakes for myself, as well as a few for friends. But sticking with it didn’t make it any easier. I was constantly making mistakes and having to undo everything. I had to concentrate so darn hard I couldn’t enjoy it.

No. I decided I liked crochet about as much as going to the dentist.

9781784940645But, for Miss Missy, I put all that aside, and set to with her gift. Turns out, I still don’t like to crochet, but I really do like amigurumi! They are so cute, it makes the frustration worth it! In fact, I decided to make another amigurumi as a gift for a friend. And when I saw a copy of  Boho Crochet I decided that the Christmas tree really could use some more crochet decorations too. Maybe crochet isn’t quite as bad as the dentist…(though I don’t love it enough to crochet myself a trophy head for the living room wall).

After beating crochet into submission, I’ve felt drawn to books on crafts I’ve never tried. I’m sure I’m not the only one out there who’s keen to learn new crafts, so I’ve put together a list of some craft and hobby books that struck my fancy. Some I’m an old hand at, some I’ve never tried, but all gorgeous!

Related Resources

WWKIP Day = Better living through stitching together

My knitting pattern usually has the following phrase: “Knit to end of row”.

In Central Library Peterborough, people will really be doing that. Do you have a UFO (Unfinished Object)  or a WIP (Work In Progress)? Then grab it and come on down to the library on Saturday June 14 from 10 am-12 noon and join in as Central Library Peterborough and Knit World join hundreds of knitters around the world for World Wide Knit In Public Day.

There is also a session at Lyttelton Library.

It will be great. Sitting and knitting or doing crochet with like-minded crafters, sharing ideas, discussing patterns and quietly counting stitches. If you find knitting to be thirsty work, then hot drinks and food will be available.

Cover of Stashbuster KnitsCover of Knitting for PeaceCover of 30-Minute Knits

As for me, I’m going to be at work on Saturday.  However I will bring along my knitting bag containing my latest WIP  and, at lunchtime, between sips of coffee and bites of sandwiches, I’ll k2 *p2 k2* rep to end, turn.

If you need some inspiration, check out the following:

And, in the spirit of crowdsourcing, why not share your favourite resources, or tales and photos of your WIPs and UFOs (or even completed projects)?

Confessions of a serial UFO collector

Search the catalogueThis is not a post about flying saucers. I wish it was.

Instead it is a shame-faced, but public, confession that I am a serial unfinisher. My house is full of UnFinished Objects, and my desk drawers are overflowing with photocopied instructions for papier mache owls, bracelets made from bottletops, fairy houses for the garden, artisan cheesemaking pamphlets, pallet bookcases …

I have rubbish bags full of rusty metal things, at least half a dozen broken umbrella frames, hundreds of fat quarters, and an overflowing box of mismatched and unusable jewellery bits. I have plastic Easter eggs, sheets of stickers, seven types of glue and a heat gun.

On my couch this very minute is a knitted picture frame, still to be sewn together, blocked and hung on the wall; one-and-a-third knitted socks; and four books on beaded embroidery, Scandinavian quilting, found object crafting, and paper art.

I’m telling you this because July’s theme here at the library is Creating. I was thinking about this the other day, and making big plans to create something cool and crafty (for “create”, substitute “go shopping, buy lots of stuff to take home and leave on the table for 7 weeks, then put in a bag in the cupboard”). Then I thought, NO. This madness must end. July must not be the month of adding yet more UFOs to my house, but instead must be the Month Where Bronnypop Finishes All The Things She Hasn’t Yet Finished And In The Process Makes Mr Bronnypop A Happy Man – MWBFATTSHYFAITPMMRAHM. Catchy title, right?

And I can even make this into a work-related thing:  remember we often talk about the Five Book Challenge?  How about the Five UFO Challenge?  This month, why not join me in finding FIVE UFOs in your house, and committing to actually finishing them? I’ll post my progress if you also comment below …

If you need inspiration, check out some of the library’s books on arty-crafty recycling, but remember: the aim is to FINISH what you’ve started, NOT to start something new.

Unless of course it’s utterly amazing, and clearly needs to be begun tonight, and you PROMISE you’ll finish it.

Get crafty in your local library

Knitting is making a resurgence as a hobby, and nowhere is this more evident than at your local library.

Six of our libraries hold knitting and craft sessions, where you can bring your latest craft project – something you can fit in a bag may be the only restriction – no potters’ wheels or full size looms!

Knitters at Fendalton LibraryJust turn up and join a friendly bunch of like-minded people who like to indulge in their knitting, crochet, embroidery,  or other crafts, while chatting and sharing their skills with others.

You can also browse the library shelves while you’re there for inspiration for your next knitting, crochet or other craft project; the 746 section of the Non-Fiction area is a good place to start.

A few of our libraries are also celebrating World Wide Knit in Public Day . Peterborough Library is having a knitting event on Saturday June 8th, Lyttelton library will be gathering to knit on Saturday June 8th, from 11am -12.00pm and Akaroa will be getting the needles working on Friday, June 7th from 2-4pm and Saturday,  June 8th from 10am-1pm.

So come and join one of the groups listed below, meet new people and get that project finished.

Parklands Library: Craft Group –  alternate Mondays, 10.30 – 11.30am

Upper Riccarton Library: Knit ‘n’ Stitch – Tuesdays, 1 – 2 pm

Shirley Library: Knit, Crochet & Yarn Club – Tuesdays,  2 – 4 pm

Central Peterborough Library : Knit ‘n’ Yarn – Wednesdays, 12 – 2 pm

Hornby Library: Knit ‘n’ Yarn – Thursdays, 10 – 11am

Fendalton Library: Knit ‘n’ Yarn – Thursdays, 2 – 3.30pm

Craft and magical thinking

book coverEvery month I read through the list of new books emailed to me and I usually find a crochet or knitting book that I need to reserve: something like AUSTENtatious crochet or Crochet master class .  It will be full of beautiful pictures of gorgeous clothes or accessories and I immediately imagine these items draped on me or the furniture. In fact, I can imagine it so well that in four weeks time, when I have to return the book, I am surprised to find that no craft item has magically appeared.

It all comes unstuck at the making stage.  Looking at the pictures and reading the pattern does not magically convey the ability to make whatever I’m looking at, no matter how hard I wish. Even buying more yarn won’t do it; that just adds to the stash. Only actually making it counts. That’s about time, motivation and work, not magic and wishful thinking.

So now I still borrow the books but I’m inclined to just look at the pictures a little wistfully then return the book. I’ll concentrate on finishing some of my many half-finished projects.

Unless, of course, a book comes along with a picture that I just can’t resist!

Tell me that I’m not the only one to suffer from crafty magical thinking! What craft books have moved you from fantasy to reality?

Errors in Craft books

Aidez-moi! Corrections to my pattern please!

You have just knitted the back of a  jersey when you realise that something has gone horribly wrong.  You panic, read the pattern over and over, and realise that it has to be UNPICKED!  Perhaps you start again and find that it’s  still not right.  You believe that you are a hopeless knitter, that you can’t follow instructions, and angrily biff the unfinished object into the back of your wardrobe.

Hope for all of these unfinished masterpieces could be at hand however, as it may not be your fault.

A number of craft book and magazine publishers now have websites that include corrections to pattern errors.  If you find that the pattern is not working, it could well be worth looking up the publisher, or the title of the book or magazine on the Internet to see if they have published corrections.

Here are a few that I have found:

Tempting crafty books

Being of a crafty bent I feel that I am very lucky to be the Librarian who gets to buy the art and craft books for the library.  With  Christmas looming on the horizon, publishers are turning out some wonderful looking books to tempt us into a creative frenzy.  I thought I would share with you some of the titles that we have recently ordered for the library that look particularly tempting.

The complete book of retro crafts :Collecting, displaying and making crafts of the past  by Suzie Millions.

Forty retro-inspired projects run the gamut from glitter frames and matchbox purses to bottlecap men and teacup ladies, plus lovable plastic flower pixies; and the sparkling sputnik and its desk-top compadre, the beauty orb, amongst exciting others.

How could you possibly resist such a wonderful trip down memory lane?

 Yarn bombing :The art of crochet and knit graffiti  by Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain was another title that caught my eye.

Yarn bombing ” n. The surreptitious or unauthorized placement of knitted objects on statues, posts, and other public structures’, sounds great fun, and as the Arts Festival here in Christchurch had great examples of crochet flowers in Cathedral square, we can perhaps look forward to seeing  more of these colourful additions to our bland city scape? Check out this blog to see what they got up to.  Also check ou the Yarnbombing blog to see what is happening in other parts of the world.

 Patchwork style :34 simple projects for a cozy and colorful life  by Suzuko Koseki, is definately on my list.  I am about to embark on a quilting course at Primrose’s and I think I will need all the help I can get; the book description has me imagining all types of creative and beautifully made items coming out of my craft room.

The projects’ minimalist style, attention to detail, and simple aesthetic speak to our desire to create a warm and authentic life at home. Each project is presented through stunning photographs that exemplify the creative, calming, and enriching qualities of the craft.

Unfortunately my sewing prowess doesn’t usually engender calmness, more like rage and frustration, so I definitely need this book!


Lastly I wanted to mention Felting for baby : 25 warm and woolly projects for the little ones in your life by Saori Yamazaki.    Who could resist these gorgeous little shoes or the blankets toys and clothes that are highlighted in this book.  It is also International day of Felt on October 3, so all the more reason to have a go at this fun craft.

Super Kyuuto!

Is the odd sock phenomenom endemic to my house, or does everybody have a drawer of single socks?  Happily, I came across Sock and glove : creating charming soft friends from cast off socks and gloves.  Now I can piece together a whole zoo from easy to follow instructions.  This is just one in a whole crop of new craft books around that draw heavily on the Japanese cute/weird aesthetic.  Others that have caught my eye lately include – Continue reading