September Little Box of Crochet

Good evening all!

I’m just quickly checking in because I’ve finally finished September’s Little Box of Crochet which I told you about here.

Oh my goodness I found this one hard, and it took a good deal of grit and determination not to have a hissy, stampy feet fit and give up!

As a quick reminder, September’s project was Gareth the Sleeping Fox.

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Gareth is crocheted entirely in waistcoat stitch which is how he got his name. Gareth Southgate, England Manager, became one of the most talked about men in the country when he dressed so snappily during every game that England played at the World Cup, always including a waistcoat.

I’d never heard of waistcoat stitch before I received my box, much less attempted it. Having googled it, I’ve discovered that it’s often called knit stitch, and it really does look like knitting rather than crochet.

The effect is achieved by inserting the hook in a different part of the stitch to normal crocheting. For any crocheters out there I’ve tried to illustrate the difference in the following photos.

The arrow on the first photo is pointing to where you insert the hook to create waistcoat stitch, right in the v of the knit like stitch. On the second photo the arrow points to the very top of the stitch and this is where the hook goes in regular crochet.

You wouldn’t think this would make much difference to the actual crocheting, but gosh it did! I almost had to resort to using a thimble because it’s so much harder to push the hook through.

Anyway. Enough of that. On to Gareth!

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Here are all his body parts before they were foxed up!

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Tail and body now attached.

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Slightly out of focus. Whoops! Foxy face stitched on.

…… and, drumroll!

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Rubbish lighting! Couldn’t decide whether he looked best with the flash, without the flash or just with the big light on! I had to go rootling around in the garden with the torch on my phone to find some nice leaves for staging purposes! Quite creepy I have to say with ghosts and ghouls still lurking around the corner from Halloween and fireworks banging around me! The things I do to try and get a good photo!

I can see a couple of little errors on the Fairisle parts (the bits with white and orange together) but on the whole I’m pleased with how he’s turned out and I’m glad I persevered.

I can’t say I’ll be rushing to do waistcoat stitch again, but I’m happy that I mastered it and have an extra string to my crocheting bow. I might find it easier using acrylic yarn since it’s not as rigid as cotton, but the downside to that is that the stitches wouldn’t look as defined.

So, onwards and upwards to October’s box and another new technique – Tunisian crochet. This one’s coming on holiday with me in four days, twelve hours, five minutes and forty two seconds. Forty one … forty … thirty nine … thirty eight …

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Fantastic Mr Fox

It struck me yesterday that there’s quite a lot of foxy business going on in our house at the moment, but a lot less going on in the garden.

I told you a while ago about our fox pooping problem in the garden. Well that seems to have stopped, which is good for our garden but potentially not good for the fox! I googled the life span of a wild fox, and it doesn’t make for happy reading. Although in captivity foxes have a similar life span to their domestic counterparts, in the wild foxes only live for two to five years. It’s a hard life out there, they have to contend with disease, parasites and predators (which in the UK is pretty much us with our cars and chemicals).

I’ll be quite happy if I see the fox again (even if it does mean picking up fox poo) but if, as I suspect, our fox is one of these cubs that were born in our garden a couple of years ago, then he will have reached the lower end of his life expectancy. I’ll think positive: he didn’t look diseased or parasitic and I never saw him roadside, so maybe he’s just gone to poo elsewhere!

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Inside our house it’s a different story. I have a crochet drumroll moment for you coming up.

I’ve been working on a Christmas gift for my mother-in-law for a few weeks. She has a fox that visits her garden that she feeds every day so when I bought this book by Sarah Zimmerman ….

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….. and saw the fox motif, I knew I had to make it for her. This was my first experience of corner to corner (c2c) crochet, and I have to say, while I love the finished project, I didn’t love the process. In order to get the different colours in the right place you end up having lots of different little balls of yarn attached to your work which get tangled up as you crochet and turn your piece.

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I do love the effect when it’s finished though. I think it makes all the detangling and rude words worth it!

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Here’s the motif finished. I decided to make it into a cushion with a stripy back. The stripy c2c was much less faffy than the fox because the colour changes were much less frequent.

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You can see my lovely new clover hook had arrived by this point. This hook practically glides through my work with no snagged yarn and very few dropped stitches. I’ve since ordered lots more sizes so I’m never without a clover hook.

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Anyway, back to the foxes.

Time for the drumroll moment …….

Whoop! Not even into November and I have one Christmas present sorted already!

Now you may think one fox is enough for one house, but not this one. My Little Box of Crochet for September arrived on my birthday (what impeccable timing). Obviously I opened it straight away to drool over the scrummy contents, but I was very disciplined and didn’t start it until after I’d finished the cushion. Look at the box.

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Gives you a good clue to what the project might be, and I’ve also given you an extra hint with our foxy tray behind. 

Here’s the fox himself on the cover of the pattern booklet.

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As ever, the box is crammed full of everything needed to make Gareth the Sleeping Fox as well as some super cute extra gifts.

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There’s a foxy stitch marker which is needed to keep track of your rounds with this project. This was designed by Beth from Koruclay. You can find Koruclay on Facebook, Etsy and Instagram if you’d like to have a quick peek at the goodies.

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And some gorgeous little chicken buttons by incomparable buttons, who are also on Etsy.

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This beautiful, and so so useful tape measure is in perfect keeping with the theme. I told you about the tape measure before here, but here it is again in all its wonderfulness.

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Little Box of Crochet always includes a postcard. This one is designed by Jennie Maizels.

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I’d love to know what other Little Box of Crochet subscribers do with their postcards. They’re far too lovely to actually send (or is that really selfish of me?) I feel I should display them somehow because they’re sooooo pretty.

This project uses waistcoat stitch which I’ve never done before. I started it last night and, oh my goodness, I found waistcoat stitch difficult. I just couldn’t see where my hook was supposed to go, but after frogging my work a hundred times, I think I cracked it, although it doesn’t look perfect!

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I really like it, it looks like knitting. In fact, one of the tutorials I found on YouTube called it knit stitch.

I should probably explain frogging for non-crochet people. It’s a fairly new word to me, and I have to admit I thought it sounded a tiny bit rude and had to google it to reassure myself that the crochet world hadn’t lost its collective marbles, but I get it now I know what it means. I’m sure it wasn’t around before I took my kitten enforced crochet hiatus. It comes from the frog sound ribbit, ribbit. It sounds like rip it, rip it which is essentially what you do when you undo your crocheting.

Well, I think that’s all I have to say about foxes for now. I’ll be sure to show you all my finished Gareth when I get there.

Hope everyone enjoys the rest of the weekend, rainy and blustery though it may be!

A crochet drumroll moment

I think it was inevitable that I was going to turn out to be a crocheter. My parents were given a crochet blanket for me before I was even born, I think by someone that they knew from church. It was single bed sized and made from many many gorgeous granny squares. They were all different colours and no one was the same as another. I think you could call it eclectic – it just went together.

This blanket became known as blankie once I began to speak, and I couldn’t sleep without it. Legend has it that my tiny baby fingers used to push in and out of the holes in the granny squares even in my sleep and I needed that lovely snuggly crocheting with me all the time. Being single bed sized, it wasn’t practical to take it out and about so my Mum crocheted individual squares for me which were apparently discovered in butchers and greengrocers weeks later around Birmingham after I’d dropped them, presumably temporarily distracted by a pork chop or a plum! I was told recently that when I spent weekends at my Dad and Step Mum’s (I should probably explain that situation at some point) they had no option but to bundle me and the entire bed sized blanket into my pushchair because they didn’t have any of the single squares.

Sadly, this blanket hasn’t survived for me to take photos, although I did still have it (ahem) when I got married, but I do have a replacement which is probably more than twenty years old. Here’s a photo of Olive when she was a kitten curled up on the ‘new’ blanket. Wasn’t she a cutie pie?

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You can really tell it’s a well loved blanket because the poor thing has seen better days, but it still has pride of place on my pillow where my not-so-tiny-anymore fingers may still find their way in and out of the holes whilst I’m reading, possibly!

As a brief aside, I was once told, many moons ago when I was still single, that I had no chance of getting a boyfriend when I had so many stuffed toys in my then flat, and sadly I took this to heart and got rid of many of my beloved childhood bears. I can tell you that this absolutely is not the case, and you should always remain true to yourself, and if stuffed toys (or shoes, or model trains or a life size model of Chewbacca) are in your heart then you should keep them and treasure them and when the right person comes along, even if they don’t love them like you do, they’ll accept them as important to you. I bitterly regret not keeping some of my bears because they had memories attached to them so, while the official line is that I have to keep my blanket because Olive likes to sleep on it, in actual fact, that blanket is in my heart and it’s not going anywhere.

Despite this early granny square start, I didn’t actually learn to crochet myself until I was in my early thirties when hubby bought me this kit by Cath Kidston for Christmas. It’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. It contained instructions on how to crochet and all the materials needed to make a granny square cushion (bar the innards). I loved it and finished the cushion before the new year.

I like to think I’ve improved somewhat since then, although I don’t think my first project was bad at all for a rookie. My love for crochet has certainly grown exponentially since that first time I put hook to yarn.

So, on to my drumroll moment. I talked to you a few days ago about the latest Little Box of Crochet that I received. You can catch up on that entry here if you like. The project this month was a notebook cover and bookmark designed by the wonderful Lucy at Attic24. See her fantastic blog here for oodles of crochet inspiration.

I absolutely loved this project, so much so that I got carried away with actually making it and neglected to check that it was working up big enough. It wasn’t (I think because my tension is on the tight side) so I had to improvise and my finished cover has some rows of treble crochet to make it fit, but I’m still super happy with it and can’t wait to start using the notebook to record my wips (work in progress) of which there are soon to be many because I have soooooo many creative ideas brewing in my head.

Drumroll ……

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I changed the colours of the edging to use more of the colours that I loved most. Lucy added a little flower to her bookmark, but I decided to make a tricolour circle instead to echo the shape of the beautiful little button. I hope Lucy and Amanda (of Little Box of Crochet) don’t mind my little improvisation!

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I just love all the colour in this post. How lovely to see my first ever project right next to my most recent project. I’ve really enjoyed meandering through my yarny crochet memories while writing this. I have absolutely no doubt that crochet is with me to stay now I’ve found it.

Well, I’ll let you go now because I need to go and start my next project. I think I’m going to try some corner to corner crochet which I’ve not done before. I’ll keep you posted on my progress. TTFN.