A dinosaur for my grandson

Over the last few weeks I have been working on a dinosaur for my grandson.

First of course I had to look for a pattern. I discovered that there are very few books for knitted or crochet dinosaurs; in fact I only found one of each and reviews on Amazon suggested issues. The dinosaurs pictured were also not quite good enough, not realistic enough. There were some on Ravelry that I was almost tempted by but they cost more per dinosaur than buying a book.

Then I found a FREE pattern that was just perfect.

Well almost: it was in Spanish.

However with a bit of help from Google Translate and a table of Spanish crochet terms for where Google faltered, I was off.

You can also find it here on Ravelry – https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/dinosaurio-t-rex

So meet the dinosaur. Dinosaur looking at you

I made his head, body and tail first then his limbs.

This was where it began to become more difficult. front limbsTo make his front legs you first make his toes then link them together to continue up the limb. They involve a magic loop then spiraling from just five dcs (US-scs). To work in a circle, especially such a small circle, it is easiest to work at the back of the circle however that means that the right side is inside and it wasn’t until I had finished the legs that I realised that they were inside out!!

So undoing down to toes, turning toes right way out and redoing limb.

At least this meant that I didn’t make this mistake with the back legs. back limbs

BUT

Theses toes were fatter underneath and the feet are quite shapely. I had not looked at the diagram that says how to join the toes before doing the feet, But when I shaped the feet I could tell they were not bulging in the right places so more undoing. I had a bit more difficulty when it came to understanding the method of creating the heel but eventually I got it right and then I just kept going following the instructions precisely. Do you like his knobbly knees? So clever.

The instructions for shaping the face were also amazingly detailed. Showing exactly where to insert the needle. head shapedThe dinosaur pictured in the pattern had plastic eyes with yellow irises but I only had all black safety eyes so I added a bit of yellow felt.

Then I had to make the teeth!

I made all the teeth in white acrylic yarn only to realise that they were much too big. acrylic dinosaur teeth

Recourse to the pattern showed that the pattern suggested making the body in an aran weight yarn (I had used DK) and then making the teeth in something that appeared to be about 4-ply. So I decided all that I could do was to try #10 crochet cotton.

Teeth were not easy. Only three stitches into a magic loop then increasing gradually. At first I was remaking each tooth maybe half-a-dozen times before I could get to the end!!!!! This was in acrylic, cotton was even harder, but I did get into a bit more of a rhythm eventually!

And twenty-one in all with three different sizes involved.

But when I had finally made all the teeth and then sewn them securely and evenly in his mouth, he looked suitably fierce. head with teeth

Now it was a matter of joining head to body then back limbs, then tail, which partially covered the back limbs, and finally the front limbs.front view of dinosaurA few ridges down his back and he was complete. (As you can see there were some bits in cream too! The foot claws were a bit like the teeth! and black for inside the mouth.)back view of dinosaurAnother view. another view of dinosaurAnd marching across the plain. dinosaur marchingI had to use him leaning against the chair to take these photographs but using a cardboard cylinder under his tail he can stand freely. dinosaur with tail supported

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Poppies

Not the real ones I am afraid!

When I was a child although we lived in suburbia there were hay fields (with hedges) and a copse at the back of our house. In the summer there were red poppies and all sorts of other flowers in among the waist high grass.

No, these poppies are for Remembrance Day. I have a friend who every year spends many hours selling poppies and for next year she is making knitted poppies to offer people, along with the many options offered by The British Legion. I said that if I could find a crochet pattern I liked I would make some crochet ones.

Now as you may be aware when I crochet real life objects I like them to be as realistic as possible, so it took a long time to find a poppy pattern I liked. But finally I found this one – https://picotpals.com/2018/04/18/iceland-poppy-pattern/ There is also an earlier pattern for red poppies but this one is better.

First I made a white one. as it would be easier to see the stitches. 

But then I got out the red yarn I showed you in a recent post and made a red one. I had intended to make the centre of the red poppy in dark green and cream, as I thought that was close to a real poppy, but my friend said “no!” for remembrance poppies the centre had to be all black. So that is what I did and so didn’t bother with the extra radial stitches.

Although this yarn is my usual Stylecraft yarn it seems a bit soft and fuzzy which I don’t like very much as it gives less definition to the stitches. Joining the two layers together so they didn’t swivel round was something I found a bit tricky; so I found a way to make the centre layer attached to the under layer but it did make doing the stamens a bit more tricky.

Here are all three together. 

Crosses and coaster

Been quite busy really the last few days.

On Thursday I decided to make some Hot Cross Buns.

[Now this third cycle of the chemo is not much fun and I am struggling a bit so don’t be surprised that things I have been making are not up to my usual standard that is rather far from perfection anyway!]

I decided to use the food processor to save time and effort and therefore to make my usual dozen in two lots. One all white flour, with sharing with my son in mind, and one lot my normal half and half.

I had a bit of a hiccup with the first (white) ones as I forgot all about the sugar until I had mixed in the fruit. So not wanting to leave it out I them added some and kneaded it in.

You can see the resulting buns have a slightly uneven look. crosses on first lot of buns

I have yet to master making the crosses perfectly and although I made a cross shaped dent in the buns before piping on the flour and water cross, which I think is an improvement, I decided the mixture was too runny!

Cooked first lot cooked and glazedThey look a bit odd but do taste okay.

The second time I remembered the sugar! crosses on second lot of bunsBut I added more flour to the piping mixture and this time it was too thick and didn’t want to let go of the piping nozzle!

Cooked buns cooked and glazedthey look a bit more respectable and also taste fine, though have a firmer texture than shop ones, that I like. Is this ambiguous? I mean I prefer the home made ones!

I bought lots of Easter Eggs for family members but one person doesn’t like chocolate, (I know how can you not like chocolate!),

so I made them a Celtic Coaster in colours I though they would like. first attempt at coasterPreviously I had made them some bunting. buntingLooking at it now (writing this post in advance on Friday!) I didn’t realise I had used red as well. When I made the coaster I thought the purple was the best colour to blend with the other three. So I pulled out the purple strip and replaced it with a red one. amended coasterPersonally, from an aesthetic point of view, I prefer the purple but this hopefully will co-ordinate with the bunting and so be much better!

Real Snowflakes

Well if I can’t crochet at least I can work on patterns!

This pattern has now been published on Ravelry – http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/real-snowflakes

I have to say that my attempt at enrolling pattern testers was not very successful. Even the internet let me down by losing two emails with attachments!

However nothing daunted I put on my ‘US terms’ head (shades of Worzel Gummidge*) and settled down to work through the US version of my snowflakes pattern. It wasn’t as hard as I imagined and I managed to make a few improvements in the process.

So following on from that I am now ready to publish the final copies of the pdfs for both UK and US versions.

My aim had always been the end of July or August so I am pretty much on track.

Here I include a photograph of a comparison between snowflakes made with a 3.5mm hook (central circle) and those made with a 4mm hook. I found the central snowflake came out a very similar size with both hooks. snowflake size comparisonFor anyone who has not seen these before: they are all based on photographs of real snowflakes. You can find them at http://snowcrystals.com/ Kenneth G. Libbrecht kindly gave me permission to use them on my blog and in this pattern. real snowflake photographsThe ones in the above photograph are made in Stylecraft Special DK but they can be made in a variety of other yarns as you can see in my angel wreath. snowflake wreathAnd a full set in a two tone crochet cotton. crochet thread snowflakes*[Worzel Gummidge is a living breathing scarecrow from the books of Barbara Euphan Todd. Although I never read the books as a child they were made into a TV series with Jon Pertwee which I watched with my children. He had several heads which he changed depending on the needs of the current situation.]

My bookmarks in use!

Having discovered that the latest book I got out from the library is a large hardback book I decided to move on from my pineapple bookmark that I have been using lately to one of my Celtic ones: Pineapple bookmark on bookthe most popular one with the purple edging and pointy corners. Celtic cross edged bookmarkWith the pineapple bookmark the pages don’t quite lie flat where it is. Pineapple bookmark in bookBut as I suspected with the Celtic one they gape rather more. Similarly with my latest version of the slip stitch one. Celtic edged bookmark in bookNow with pointed corners! Celtic slip stitched bookmark in bookEven my plain Celtic cross lifts the pages a little more. Original Celtic cross bookmarkNow with cord and tassel. Origianl Celtic cross bookmark in bookAnd of course my latest Celtic cross bookmark. Celtic cross bookmark(Not yet with added cord) operates more like the other embellished Celtic ones.Celtic cross bookmark in bookJust thought it was useful to give an idea of their relative thickness! Though when in use in the middle of the book they show slightly less!

Celtic Cross – definitive version

Definitive Celtic crossCeltic knots and plaitwork are always drawn with an edge so that you can see clearly how the ribbons cross over each other and I thought that this did not show clearly enough on my original cross. Original Celtic crosswhich is why I started experimenting with adding slip stitches. Celtic crosses with slip stitchesAt the time I did try adding the slip stitches to the back loop only so as to give an edge but found that this made the strip so much wider. I thought of using dcs (US-scs) for the central ribbon but knew this would be more fiddly so decided against it.

I was also finding slip stitching more difficult than dcs (US-scs) at this time so I tried adding a dc edge Celtic cross with edgingbut could see that the cross was then so much bigger. (I did increase the number of stitches as well and could have reduced them a bit but it would still have been bigger than I wanted.)

Recently however I decided to bite the bullet, as they say, and try making the main ribbon of the cross out of dcs (US-scs) instead of trs (US-dcs).

I knew this would make it harder to keep track of the stitches when checking to see I hadn’t made a mistake but I persisted and my first attempt turned out like this. New Celtic cross first attemptI could see that this was much smaller than the original and was not entirely surprised as crochet is very stretchy in a sideways direction (especially the upright of the cross) but had noticed that adding the slip stitches removed this, as with the cross with the purple slip stitches above.

So I decided to increase the number stitches and use a bigger hook.

Now I have lots of tiny steel hooks, inherited from my mother, but only a few, still small but larger, aluminium ones and the smallest of these is a number ‘3’. My smallest aluminium hook was a 2.5mm and larger so I decided I would use the no. 3.

(Looking at some crochet hook charts I now think that this might be a 1.9mm equivalent hook.)

With the increased stitches and the new hook my cross turned out like this. New Celtic cross second attemptYou can see here how these two attempts compared with the original. New Celtic cross first two attempts with originalSo I decided that as with my other slip-stitched crosses it wasn’t necessary to increase the stitch numbers except for the upright and the circle and tried again.

Here are all my three attempts next to each other together with the original. New Celtic cross all three attempts with originalThe slip stitch edged cross (bottom right) does not really need stiffening and had finally given me what I was after.

The original is of course easier to make and attractive in it’s own right but I like the new one best!

So here are the three different styles. Three different styles of Celtic cross

The one on the right with the inner slip stitches is the thickest and the top central (original one) is the thinnest.

I also experimented recently with making an equal armed cross with the added slip stitches but don’t really like it. Though I am not sure why!Celtic cross with equal arms

I have updated my pattern page with patterns for all four different types of Celtic Cross.

This has been really hard work and I have tried to double check everything but if you decided to use one of the patterns and find anything that seems wrong, or any typos, I would be really grateful if you would let me know so I can change it for others.

Easter Giveaway

Following on from my making lots of Celtic crosses I have decided to offer three of them as a Giveaway. Three Celtic crossesOne each to three people.

This is open to anyone anywhere.

All you have to do is comment at the bottom of this post saying which of the three you would prefer.

I think that all would be suitable as bookmarks though the plain red cross is the thinnest.

If you would like me to add a cord and tassel as I have done to this one that I made for myself Celtic cross with tasseljust say so in your comment.

The Giveaway is open till the Second Sunday of Easter (23rd April) when I will choose the winners.

Celtic Cross revisited

Having made variations of the Celtic plaitwork bookmarks I decided to revisit my pattern for a Celtic Cross and see if I could do the same.

I notice that in my original pattern I used my 1.25mm hook. This time I have also been using a 1mm hook and later tried what I believed to be one that was slightly smaller again, though not by much.

The first thing I did was to add slip stitches to the edges. Celtic crosses with added slip stitchesLike with the bookmarks this does make the cross rather thick, maybe even thicker. I made the one with the purple stitches first and thought that it would maybe be better if the upright was longer so I increased the number of stitches in that part and made the one with the red.

Then of course I had to try one with a coloured edge.

This time I pretty much doubled the stitches for each section and came up with this. Celtic cross with purple edgingAlthough the cross is about the same height as the bookmark one. Above cross compared to bookmarkIt feels too large to be used as a bookmark and I think I will hang it up on a wall somewhere in the house.

I decided to try using #20 thread instead of #10 but I made a mistake and used the #10 red for the edging (which is a shame as I have lots of #20 red!) Two edged crossesThis would be useable as a bookmark or for a wall and in fact using the thicker cotton for the edge made it firmer. I am not sure what size hook I used as it was one of the ones I inherited from my mother. In those days each hook maker seems to have had their own system of numbering and I couldn’t work out what would be the metric equivalent.

I then tried making one of the original plain ones, still in what I thought was #20 cotton, so it came out smaller and a little firmer than the original. Two plain crossesI actually think that the smaller size hook is an improvement. I was previously using the smaller of the size hooks recommended on the label.

I have stiffened all the crosses with spray starch.

The original does seem to be the best for a bookmark.

I also wanted to examine the pattern more closely and see if I was choosing the right numbers of stitches so I worked a trefoil knot.Trefoil knotThis seemed to fit together just right!

I then went on to consider where I was putting the join, as although it should have come behind the circle it seemed to have a tendency to slip towards the next over part and so become visible. I am therefore adjusting my original pattern slightly to improve it.

Using my slightly adjusted pattern and some multi-coloured thread I made another cross. Multi-coloured Celtic cross

I am not sure which I like best but I unfortunately I think the plain ones work best as bookmarks.

Celtic Bookmarks

Ever since someone put a photograph of one of my Celtic coasters on Pinterest I have had about three weeks of hundreds of people every day coming to look at the pattern. Even now it seems to be over one hundred.

I know that a thread bookmark will appeal to far fewer people but it did make me think that it might be worth revisiting my Celtic bookmarks.

My original bookmark was this.Original Celtic bookmark(I can’t find it at present so it is probably keeping a place in a book somewhere!)

I did find that it was a bit floppy even when sprayed with starch so this time I decided to move away from my original idea of choosing four stitches for a crossover point and used the three stitches that I used for the coasters to ensure there were no gaps.

This gave me. New Celtic bookmarkI found that this was naturally stiffer and was probably not worth starching.

If you look closer I think you can see that the white part shows you the ‘right’ side of the crochet whereas the red shows the ‘wrong’ side. I quite liked this as it means that the bookmark doesn’t itself have a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ side and the pattern for both parts is the same.

However I did sit down and work out a pattern for the second piece so that you could have both pieces showing the ‘right’ side.

When I created the original I liked the idea of choosing to make a configuration that needed two pieces.

[For Celtic plaits this width, there are only two main possibilities: that of two strands or one. More about the variations at the end for those who may be interested.]

However as the corners at the side come in pairs, the colours were not as separate as I might have liked so I decided to see what could be done with a version that came in one piece.

[It might be worth mentioning, even now, that if you count the right angled corners down the side and this is an even number you will get two separate strands and if it is an odd number you will always get one.]

I had chosen eight corners for the original bookmark as I thought that it gave the right proportions for a bookmark and so I decided to chose nine for my one piece bookmark.

This is what the strip looks like when it is finished.Crochet stripI thought that a totally plain bookmark would be boring and wouldn’t show off the plaitwork to best effect and so I decided to add a dc (US-sc) edging. I had increased the number of stiches per crossing back to four.

(This didn’t work with this strip as it still made it to wide to fold together easily so I took it off and tried adding slip stitches.)

This gave me the red and white bookmark in this photo.Two Celtic bookmarks with added slip stitchesI thought that this was reminiscent of this style of plaitwork in my book. Celtic plaitworkHowever I still wanted to try a dc edging so I increased the number of stitches for a crossing to five. (I made a slight adjustment to the ends too.)

This gave me the following. Celtic bookmark with purple edgingwhich is larger but I rather liked.

Here is a size comparison with some of the many bookmarks that I own. Bookmark comparisonThe leather bookmark on the left is rather large, more suitable for a large book like a bible, but I often use the two papyrus ones in my library books; so you can see that they are all useable.

Of course these bookmarks are twice as thick as my other crochet bookmarks (Find them HERE) because of the crossing over and in fact when you add the slip stitches that makes them slightly thicker again. Still useable I think.

Now before you leave off reading I would like to ask a couple of questions.

  • Which bookmark do you like best? (If you like any!)
  • Do you think it is worth publishing the pattern for any of them? If so which ones?

Thank you!

More about the different types of plaits

Really you can think of there being four different types of plait of this width which depend on the number of right-angled corners up the side.

The two odd ones of the four are really the same but with an even number they do show subtle differences, as you can see in this picture. Drawings of different plaits

There are two main differences.

One

If the even number is divisible by four there are same number of corners of each colour on both sides. If the number is not divisible by four there is an extra pair of each colour on opposite sides.

Two

From a crochet point of view it makes a difference to the 180 deg turn-around points.

The dark line represent your initial chain and as you can see for the number divisible by four the chain is on the inside of all the turn-around points.

Where the number is not divisible by four the chain is inside for one and outside for the other. It is worth noting that this also happens for the odd numbered ones where you get one of each, each end.

Also note

The extra picture at the bottom (compare with top left) is to highlight the fact that these plaits do have a handedness and although I have chosen one of them that the same piece of crochet could be used to make either. Though you would want to put the join in a different place!