A quick and easy make for all crochet lovers these little crochet beads can be used in all sorts of crochet projects.Read More
Brighten up any window with this colourful decorative pom pom curtain. Easy to make and suitable for all ages (children over 5) this is the perfect afternoon project for all the family. You can buy your kit here for just £20 and I do my absolute best to post orders out on the day I receive them.
Each kit contains contains enough wool to make lots of colourful pom poms and the pom pom maker pack has 4 sizes to choose from.
Making Pom Poms
Here's how to make a pom pom using one of the 4 Rico pom pom makers included in the kit
Place the two halves of the pom pom maker together. Notice how the 3 round 'bolbs' fit into the 3 holes.
You need to hold both parts together until you start to wrap wool around it.
As you begin to wrap wool around the pom pom maker it will hold it all together making it very easy to use.
Wrap wool around both halves until there's no room left in the middle.
When both halves are completely wound with wool, push the pom pom maker together and use the white clips on the sides to secure both parts.
Using your scissors cut all the way around the pom pom. Young children will need an adult to help with this bit.
Once you have cut the wool all the way around you will reveal your pom pom still attached to the maker. Notice the gap between the two halves of the pom pom maker.
Cut a length of wool (I double it to make it extra strong). Wrap the wool around the gap in-between the two halves and pull it really tight. Secure it with a knot and repeat this again to make sure the pom pom is securely held together. Young children may need a little help with this bit too.
Unclip the pom pom maker and gently open it up to reveal your pom pom.
Using your scissors you may wish to trim the edges of your pom pom to make a perfect circle. Personally I do this regardless of whether it really needs it simply because it's such fun!
Now all you need to do is repeat this until you have at least 25 pom poms. This will give you enough to make a 5 strings to hang in your window as the picture at the beginning illustrates. Obviously if you make the largest pom poms in the pack you won't get as many from the wool supplied so I advise you make a selection of the various sizes. I find the green pom pom maker is the best size for this project.
Making felt balls
In your kit you will find a colourful selection of felt ready to make your little felt balls. For this you are going to need some soap and water. Normal hand soap is perfect.
Pull a piece of felt from the main roll. The larger the piece the bigger the felt ball will be. Start small because you can always add more.
The easiest method is to tie a simple knot in the middle
Wrap the ends of the felt around the knot to form a ball.
Dip the felt into the water to get it wet and rub a little soap into your hands.
Gently roll the felt ball between the palms of your hands. The combination of the soap, water and friction of hands rubbing will fuse the felt fibres together making it smaller and hander.
Eventually you will have a small felted ball. Rinse well and set aside to dry.
Here's a little video to show you how it works in real time.
Once you have a lovely stash of pom poms and felt balls (they need to be dry!) you are ready to thread them and the beads onto the twine
Cut a length of bakers twine that is just slightly longer than you need to fit the length of your window. Tie a knot in one end thread your fist felt ball.
The needle in the kit is nice and long making it easy to push through the felt balls and pom poms.
Here's a simple pattern to follow when threading.
1 felt ball, 2 beads, 1 pom pom, 2 beads 1 felt ball.
For an extra little twist try making some tassels to add to your curtain. You can learn how to make them here.....they are very easy!
The safety bit.
This kit contains small parts which are a choking hazard to young children. There is also a sharp needle so please use caution and do not leave young children unattended when making your pom pom curtain
The Owl Paper Pets are by far the most challenging to make but are also the most popular! This tutorial is here to encourage and guide you through the fiddly process of assembling them ....it's worth it in the end I promise!
Having made the body and attached the feet in exactly the same way as for the penguin we next need to cut out and attach the eyes.
Notice how 'eye 2 is face down. This is because I made a dreadful error when printing the templates. A thousand apologies to everyone out there who may have been confused. The pointy bits need to be facing each other as shown ....think of them as the eyebrows as this will help you when positioning them onto the body.
Make the eye socket concave by cutting and joining to the fold line as indicated on the templates. Gently bend and mould the templates as shown above.
Whether it be to highlight a cause, create a buzz or simply to brighten up an urban area, yarn bombing can be the perfect means to attract attention. When done with care and consideration it's guaranteed to raise a smile and prompt a selfie!
As with traditional graffiti this yarn art is accessible to all, making the audience wide and varied.
It reclaims and personalises sterile public spaces drawing our attention to everyday street furniture that usually goes un noticed.
Yarn bombing can also be a means of delivering a peaceful protest with a growing number of people actively taking part in challenging the establishment and creating positive change. The Knitting Nannas (what a great name!) epitomise this movement of non violent political activism that yarn was made for.
Our familiarity with the tactile, non threatening qualities of yarn invites us to become active participants with the installation as we step towards it to take a closer look.
I've had the immense good fortune of being asked to create many 'yarn installations' which has led a growing number of people to ask me how they can go about creating one of their own. Here are some of the key points I have learnt along the way, from one enthusiast to another!
Where is it going?
Tree, statue, park bench, phone box, fencing, railings the possibilities are endless but you do need to consider access and the logistics of placing your work once completed.
How will it be fixed in position?
When fixing to lamp posts I recommend the use of cable ties at the top to prevent your work from falling down. Cables ties are also your first line of defence in keeping your yarn bomb safe from being pulled off. Trim the ends to keep the aesthetics ....done well and you hardly know they are there.
My advice is get permission. Yarn bombing takes time and planning and without permission it can all be for nothing.
I've always worked with permission from the relevant authorities who have actively supported and helped with the installation. They also carry the relevant health and safety, public liability cover that we tend to need these days. It's easy (and relatively inexpensive) to get public liability insurance.
My tip is it's well worth having as it's nearly always required before being given permission to install your yarn bomb.
In certain areas it is still considered to be graffiti and therefor illegal and the artist could face punishment for littering or vandalism.
Keep in everyones good books by being considerate when choosing a place for the installation.
Do not obstruct signage, especially parking and traffic signs. Think safety.
Of course you don't have to get permission you could just risk it but it's very likely that your work will be removed almost as soon as it goes up.
When discreetly placing small items in public spaces without permission always be respectful. Not everyone will appreciate it so be prepared for any response and offer to remove it.
Is there a theme?
Yarn bombs are usually there to spread the word, provoke thought or raise a smile and it can help to have a theme.
A colour, a logo or perhaps a simple idea like roses wrapped around colonnades!
My latest yarn bomb was for Bath in Fashion 2016 and is based upon the events guest speaker, Dame Zandra Rhodes and her spring summer collection for 2016.
Raise money for charity
Creating a yarn-bomb is an ideal way of raising money for charity. Never underestimate the power of crochet (and knitting!) to generate awareness and money for a good cause. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year I felt driven to create value from the situation. Through the use of social media and with the help of Bath in Fashion I was able to create this pink ribbon and decorate it with lots of pretty flowers donated by many wonderful people from all across the UK. The ribbon is now on display at the Bath RUH for patients. relatives and staff to enjoy and this grand floral display on Milsom Street raised over £2000 for the Bath RUH cancer care centre.
Once you have established what is being yarn bombed it's a good idea to measure it. As a rule you need to make things slightly smaller that the object you are covering to ensure a snug fit. As an example if the post you are covering measures 24cm in diameter then knit or crochet to measure 21cm. You can then pull the scarf nice and tight for a snug fit. This helps prevent it from slipping down.
Trees obviously vary in width so you need to take the time to measure the widest and narrowest parts of the trunk and branch and plan accordingly.
Do a fitting
I have been known to visit sites or statues countless times to measure and re measure and on occasion have even done a fitting before the day just to be sure!
Large or small?
It can be helpful to familiarise yourself with the basics by starting small. Think about covering a piece of home furniture yarn bomb style as it's a great way to explore the possibilities of this wonderful art without the pressure of it going public. Also it looks great in your home and becomes the talking point with guests!
Modular or Complete
Is the yarn bomb one complete piece or will it be made up of many smaller elements?
Modular pieces like granny squares makes it easier for lots of people to take part as each person can make one piece to add to the stash. This is partly why we love crochet right? Small creations to make one large piece.
The advantage of modular parts is that it leaves you with the option to make easy last minute alterations on the day. The lions coat is made up of individual parts making it simpler to fit. Some of the lamp post covers we had turned out to be much longer than was needed and it was great to be able to unpick the join between two sections to shorten it to fit.
When making one complete piece you must ensure you have measured correctly allowing for the stretch in the yarn once completed. Lamp post covers can be one long scarf with embellishments added prior to being installed.
Acrylic all the way! That's my advice. It's cheap, colourful and lightweight with a large variety of acrylic novelty yarns too.
Yarn installations look fantastic in the sunshine but can become tragic in the rain. Keep it simple and go for acrylic.
Avoid wool as it gets very heavy when wet and will sag horribly. The same applies to cotton and both take an age to dry.
Be it in a large group or on your own allow plenty of time. Imagine how much time you think it will take and then double it!
Putting the finishing touches to a piece and preparing it for installation can take longer than you imagine so it's a good idea to plan for this.
When we did the Roses yarn bomb the roses were sewn onto crochet lengths of about two meters and, oh my goodness, the tangled mess when we threw them all in together in a big box! It took hours to untangle and made the installation day more stressful than it needed to be. Lesson learnt!
My friend and fellow yarn bomber Rosie and I meet up regularly when collaborating on a project. We share ideas and find solutions to anticipated installation problems and this planning really does pay off.
Doing a yarn bomb on your own is perfectly possible - I've done it and it takes a lot of commitment to make something special. Start small with the option to go big later on. See my tips on installation.
A group of people with a collective purpose working together is a mighty and wonderful thing and it is the heart and soul of yarn bombing.
It can involve entire communities resulting in lifelong friendships. The group I work with came about as a result of the first Yarn bomb I did for Bath In Fashion in 2014. We ran an article in the local press calling for any keen knitters and crocheters wanting to be involved in the project and 3 years later we are an army of 40.
The benefit to our lives has been immeasurable and we meet once a month every month throughout the year. When we are not making for a big installation we make poppies for Remembrance Day, blankets for refugees and scarves for the homeless.
If your project is BIG then tap into your local knitting and crochet groups. I guarantee there will be one in your area. I know of at least 4 in Bath, all meeting on different days in various cafes. Seek out their whereabouts and get them involved. Start with your local wool shop they are the font of all woolly knowledge!
6. Social Media
Engaging people on social media can be incredibly rewarding. The making community is wonderfully generous both of their time and yarn. My postman always knows when I am working on a yarn bomb project by the increase in the number of soft stuffed envelopes being delivered. It makes the post a really enjoyable part of the day!
Look what was achieved thanks in part to the readers of Simply Crochet Magazine!
We asked people to send in small crochet flowers to be used to create a giant pink ribbon to be displayed at the local hospital for patients, relatives and staff to enjoy.
Patterns and tutorials
Working as a group requires organisation and planning. You need to accommodate mixed abilities and exploit (in the nicest possible way) peoples strengths. Plan the design and offer a range of simple patterns for people to work from. I post my patterns up on my website and email the link to the group so that we are all working to the same pattern.
7. Sponsorship and funding
Most yarn bombs are funded by the makers who are happy and willing to raid their stash but it is possible to get a little help from time to time. Often if the project is for a cause especially a charity you may be able to negotiate a discount with your local yarn store but do remember they are a business and need to make a living too.
I was lucky enough this year to get sponsorship from Rico Design Yarns who wanted to support the Bath In Fashion yarn bomb. This meant my home was, at times, snowed under with packs of wool....oh no....how terrible!!!!
This is when all your planning comes into play! I've never installed on my own and I can't imagine that it's much fun but I can thoroughly recommend this as a group activity.
Enlist the help of friends and fellow yarn bombers! I have a friend who can't knit or crochet but absolutely loves helping to instal (Tina in the orange!) It's so much fun to do together.
Each yarn bomber on the day needs a toolkit containing the following:
- Hook (would we ever leave home without one?!)
- Cable ties
- Wire - this always comes in handy for twisting and holding things together.
Mine is all in a bag that never leaves my person. It's so easy to put scissors down on the pavement and then spend the next 10 minutes looking for them!
Stay safe especially when working at height. Get the right help for the job. The local council are very strict about this and the projects I've worked on in Bath have all had the benefit of the help of the relevant authorities.
Do not leave valuables un attended (see tip 9)
Plan for the weather - If there's rain then try to organise having someone to hold an umbrella whilst the other person fixes the yarn bomb in place. This avoids rain running up your sleeve!
Day or night?
I've only ever installed during daylight hours. Party because I have always sought and be given permission but also it's just so much easier to see what you are doing! You are however more exposed to the public and it can become a fascinating spectacle for passers by to watch so this is not for the shy and retiring folk unless you are feeling particularly courageous!
The public....your audience!
The public will stop and ask questions so be prepared........and be polite! Not everyone is a fan and we just need to accept this and respect peoples opinion.
It helps to have relevant leaflets, collection points (if it is aid of a charity) and banners or posters explaining what it is for (if anything) and why you are doing it (perhaps it's a protest or to raise awareness.)
Engage local media to spread the word. Installation day can be a big event with lots going on which in itself creates a bit of buzz.
9. Tagging and photos
Always tag your work. Let people know who made it and why..
A simple tag can be a luggage label that has been laminated to protect it from the rain.
Place the tag at eye level to encourage people to take a look.
Have someone there to take photos of you installing your work and remember to get the group photo at the end when it's all done!
I invariably have my mum (she's the one with the roses in her mouth!) taking photos and I am so grateful! She also guards the valuables on the pavement, holds the step ladder and generally does anything and everything!
Post your photos on social media.
We all want to be inspired and to see what you've been up to.
10. Take it down and let it go.
The hardest lesson for (me at least) is it to let it go. Once your yarn bomb is up and out there anything can and often does happen. It may be removed, stolen, vandalised but it will almost certainly be photographed and shared so whatever happens just let it go. Do not take it personally.....unless it's wonderful feedback in which case lap it up!
Leave no trace.
Please always remember to remove the yarn bomb. Over time it will become bedraggled and weathered, covered in dirt and start to look terribly sad.
Nobody wants to see this so plan when it goes up and when it comes down.
Wear gloves when removing your work. Think dogs cocking their legs....there, enough said!
Bag it, wash it and save it for another day. My loft is heaving under the weight of previous yarn bombs and I am happy to report that nearly every yarn bomb has gone on to be displayed at other events. Street parties, school fetes, birthday parties and festivals. Once your friends and colleagues know you are a yarn bomber your work will be forever out there somewhere!
Happy yarn bombing!
Help raise money for cancer care by making a flower to be included in this years spectacular yarn bomb for Bath in Fashion 2016Read More
Bring a bit of summer sunshine into your life with this gloriously colourful crochet bunting....the antidote to those grey winter skies!
If I had a pound for every time I was asked for this pattern whilst in my hut at the Bath Christmas Market (2015) I would be posting this crochet tutorial from Barbados! As it is I am snugged up in front of the wood burner happy to be fulfilling my promise to post this pattern first thing in 2016!
A big thank you by the way to everyone who came to see me in my hut...it was amazing to see so many lovely faces and I hope to do it all again!
The secret to successful bunting is to use a good quality sturdy cotton. Cotton yarn gives the bunting a solid weight and shape with no sagging. My preferred yarn is Rico's creative Cotton aran that comes in a range of 37 shades giving you an incredible choice of colours to play with. The affordability of this yarn makes it perfect for a project like this as it really depends upon lots of glorious colour! I have put together a pack of 12 of my favourite colours to get you started and is available from my shop here.
(Note to all....I am not paid to say this by the way....I genuinely love Rico Cotton!)
To make this pattern you are going to need at least 4 different colours of yarn but please don't worry if you don't have any cotton as this crochet bunting is the perfect choice for using up all those bits of scrap yarn that we have stashed away. Try mixing it all up and playing with different weight yarn too. I've had some great results when I've not been too rigid about following the correct rules of a pattern. If you would like to make the bunting as I have then you can buy your cotton pack from me here.
For this tutorial (UK crochet terms) I am using Rico Creative Cotton Candy Pink, Light Pistachio, Tangerine and Fuchsia together with a 4mm hook.
Now all you need to do is repeat repeat repeat until you have a neat pile of triangles.
Joining it all together
Using any colour chain 5.
Taking your first triangle and starting in a ch 2 corner space work 1 double crochet, continue with 1 dc into each stitch along one side starting and ending with the chain 2 corner space.
ch 2 ( creates a neat space between the next triangle) and repeat with your second triangle. continue until you have a string of bunting triangles to suit the length you require.
Finish with a ch 5 after the last triangle.
Turn and work 1 dc into each stitch (I like to work row 2 in a different colour but it's up to you!)
Cast off and display your bunting!
Now all that is left is to add the all important tassels!
Welcome to your Paper Pet. This tutorial is designed to take you through the process step by step.
In addition to the contents of your kit you will need a glass to hold your inflated balloon in position, a small bowl to mix some of the paste and a pair of scissors to cut the templates.
Placing the inflated ballon in the glass makes it much easier to handle once you start to apply the paper mache. If you have some vaseline you can use this to cover the rim of the glass which helps stop the paper balloon sticking to the glass. Don't worry if you don't have it as I didn't have any for this tutorial and everything was fine!
Cut out your templates and put them to one side for later.
Tear some old newspaper into small pieces.
Mix a little of the paste with some water (about a teaspoon to 100ml water) and dip the news paper into the paste and cover the balloon.
It's a good idea to build up at least 5 layers of paper all over your balloon so that it is nice and solid once it's dried. The thicker the layers the longer it will take to dry BUT the easier it will be to apply the templates!
Now you need to let all of this dry. This can take several days depending upon where it is placed and how many layers there are.
Stage 2 - Fixing the templates to the body
Once your balloon is completely dry the next step is to apply the templates to the body by fixing them in place using the self adhesive tabs.
Cut your self adhesive tabs into strips.
Begin with the feet and tail template by folding along the dotted line.
Using a self adhesive tab stick the tail together as shown
Notice how the paper can appear a bit wrinkly once it's dried. this is completely normal and will disappear once you have applied more layers of paper mache to the model.
Position the body onto the feet and tail template making sure the tail rests against the base of the balloon body.
Notice the fat end of the balloon forms the base of the body.
Gently.....GENTLY (!) press the body onto the feet and tail template so that the balloon very slightly flattens. This helps the penguin stand up straight (although there is nothing wrong with a wonky penguin!)
Fix the tail and feet template into position using long strips of the adhesive tabs.
Next you need to take the beak template and join A to B. Try to avoid folding it with a crease.
Secure A to B using the adhesive tabs.
See how the two edges are joined creating a curved beak template.
Using the adhesive tabs, fix the beak to the ballon to create the head.
Poor Penguin....he looks like he's all bandaged up!
Dip strips of news paper into the paste and paper over the templates.
If the body part gets too wet from the freshly applied paste you may find it goes soft and collapses slightly under your fingers. If this happens stop what you are doing and allow the model to dry before continuing.
Use long strips of newspaper dipped into paste to secure the templates to the body.
Apply the long strips of pasted paper across the feet and up onto the body.
Careful lift the wings and apply pasted paper to the underside fixing the wing template to the body. You can use a wire rack to sit the paper pet on whilst it dries.
Keep layering the paper mache over the model building it up bit by bit and then allow it to completely dry before continuing onto the final stage. This may take several days.
Step 3 - Applying the finishing paper
The final part of the papier mache process is to apply the white finishing paper. Tear small pieces and, as before, dip them into the paste and apply to your paper pet. Using your fingers, gently smooth each piece of finishing paper to ensure an even finish. This helps make the final coat neat and tidy ready for painting.
Once an even coat of finishing paper had been applied to you paper pet and you are happy that all the news paper has been covered, set it aside to dry. This will take at least 24 hours.
Once dry your Paper Pet is ready to decorate! You can use the paints provided as well as experiment with other paints, glitters, feathers, paper etc.....have fun and get creative!
Crochet just got BIG!Read More
Brighten up your christmas with these easy to make colourful needle felted christmas tree decorations. Fun to do and they make the perfect gift! Last year I gave these to friends instead of cards and they loved it.
To begin you will need the following:
A Polystyrene ball - any size
A felting needle
A selection of colourful felting wool.
Begin by choosing your your base colour and pull off a length that is long enough to wrap around your polystyrene ball.
Place the felt around the ball and hold it in position whilst you gently push the felting needle into the ball.
With each 'jab' of the needle you are pushing the wool fibres into the ball and after only two or three 'jabs' you can turn the ball upside down and see the felt held in place.
Continue to work around the ball gently jabbing the needle into the polystyrene ball until all the felt is securely held in place.
Cover the remaining areas with felt and work it in using the felting needle.
Keep adding felt to any bald patches and securing it in place with the needle jabbing until the ball is completely covered in an even layer of felt.
Once you have covered the ball all over in the base colour and secured it in place by jabbing it all over for several minutes you are ready to add the swirl. The more you needle ('jab!) it the smoother the surface so take your time.
The next step is to decorate the ball with a needle felted swirl. I've chosen two colours that are my favourite colour combination, hot pink and deep orange....very 'Bollywood'!
I am going to show you how to blend from one colour to another....it's very simple and in doing so you will begin to see how versatile needle felting can be. It's like painting with wool. So, to begin, you need to pull a little piece of felt from the main bulk because as you can see, we don't need an awful lot.
Anchor the felt into the ball by 'jabbing' it a few times with the felting needle.
Continue to felt the swirl in the direction you want it to go in. Don't worry at this point about it being too neat as we will return once it's positioned and go over it all again with the felting needle until it's neat and tidy. For now we are simply getting it all in place. A rough sketch if you will!
Try to avoid gripping the felt too tightly as this prevents the fibres from being introduced into the ball when you jab it with the felting needle.
When you are ready to change colours (about mid way around the ball) pull the remaining felt away leaving some wispy bits as in the picture.
Take your second colour (In my case deep orange) and lay a thin layer of it over the first colour (pink) and needle it into position.
Continue to work the second colour just as you did with the first until you reach the other end of the ball.
Pull any reming felt away and secure the end in place by needling it in.
Work back round the swirl needling the edges some more to neaten it all up.
Cut a piece of bakers twine roughly 10 cm and tie a knot.
Push a pin through the knot and secure it into the ball.
Your needle felted christmas tree decoration is now ready to hang on your tree!
If ever there was a crochet pattern to build the beginners confidence and raise a smile then this is it!
This is quite possibly the easiest crochet 'pattern' ever in the world EVER! And for this reason they make the perfect yarn bomb contribution and are the central focus for the next Bath In Fashion 2016 yarn installation.
To make a spiral you will need any yarn and any hook!
Here I am using Rico Basic Acrylic and I am going to start the first spiral with a 4mm hook which will make quite a compact spiral. Further along we will see what a spiral looks like when worked with a 5mm hook in the same yarn. Play and experiment because this is when the magic happens!
Now let's see what happens when we do the same thing but this time using a 5mm hook and instead of working double crochet let's us half treble crochet throughout.
I think I prefer the one on the right because it's more 'open' but the beauty of this very simple pattern which is based on maths you can experiment and play with all sorts of yarns and hook sizes and get some fabulous results. Have fun!