March 4, 2014 § 2 Comments

screenshot of the Isometric ipad app My Mum tells me that when I was a baby I used to stare at the patterns on ladies’ dresses (well, it was the 70’s, so they were probably way out there, and either orange or brown!) So when I discovered the isometric ipad app just before Christmas, I was in my element. Isometric paper is that grid paper that’s ruled into equilateral triangles. All the lines are at 60 degrees from one another (I think…), and you can draw pictures on it that look like they are in perspective. The isometric app lets you draw with diamond shapes that snap to one another to align perfectly, and they automatically change colour depending on the orientation of the diamond. The image above is made with diamonds in one orientation only, but you can see some other examples of the 3D effects possible on their ‘Made with Isometric’ Tumblr feed.

While I was playing around and creating my own patterns, it occurred to me that the app would be a great resource for designing quilting patterns, and would also work with crochet motifs. I’ve recently finished a project made from equilateral triangle motifs in different colours, and I was really pleased with the result. The next step was to try working with diamonds in the same way. First I had to find a regular diamond motif, that was as near as possible to two equilateral triangles joined together. There’s probably a correct mathematical name for this – the Isometric app page mentions ‘rhombus’?? After a bit of diligent Pinterest-ing I came up with the following motif from a Red Heart Yarn pattern called ‘Prairie Star’. I have tweaked it a bit from the original, as I’m not using the same number of rounds in each motif, and I’ve changed the points slightly to make them more ‘pointy’. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to cope with making anything very large from separate motifs, so I chose to make each motif smaller so that they were in proportion to the finished piece. Here is one of the motifs worked in DMC Petra 3:

diamond crochet motifI chose the colours from a selection I already had in my stash, although I have ordered a couple of greys that I am hoping to add to the mix when they arrive. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to add to my colour palette of DMC Petra – I love working with this yarn for the colours available! Initially I thought I would arrange them like the ‘3D cube effect’ that I had seen on the Isometric app, but when I laid them out, I preferred them all aligned in one direction, as in the image below. group of diamond crochet motifs I’m not sure what it’s going to be yet, although probably an accessory of some kind, because I know I will get bored with making too many motifs! I’ll let you know how it goes….


Chair Back Covers

February 5, 2014 § 2 Comments

Crochet chair back covers Gosh, it’s been a while! πŸ™‚ Won’t bore you with the details, but despite my best intentions it has been very difficult to find any time for blogging of late. Without further ado, here is a little project that I completed a while ago, which is nice and easy, with practical results. I made these for my dining room chairs after repairing the wall in the hope that it might save me having to do it again too soon. It has. πŸ™‚ The photo above was taken recently, and they have had a little wear, and perhaps look a bit saggy round the edges. So try and ignore that and look at the crisp clean ones in the images below, ok? Squares As you will have no doubt realised, the good old granny square is the basis for this design. It doesn’t matter which method you use. I haven’t included a granny square pattern because most people won’t need one and they’re readily available on the internet. Cotton would be better than wool for this because it needs to be hardwearing and less stretchy. I used Wendy Luxury Supreme Cotton DK Β and a 3.5mm hook. My first complete granny square is below. You can vary the size according to the depth that you want the chair back to be, but it probably needs to be at least 8cm square in order to have enough staying power when you fit it to the back of the chair. granny square image - part of crochet chair back cover walkthrough Once you’ve made one, you will be able to judge how many squares you will need to fit across the back of the chair. I made four to fit across one side of the chair, and slip stitched each square to the next as I worked, slip stitching into each of the spaces along the side of the square. Ideally your squares should fit across the front of the chair and overlap the sides slightly, so that you can make the same number of squares for the back and join the two together to fit all the way round the chair top. You want it to be quite a snug fit, so make sure that it is pulled taut when you are measuring. My four squares weren’t quite long enough, so once I had joined them I worked another couple of rows of granny square trebles (US double crochet) on each end so that the strip went half way round the chair top. You can then make an identical piece for the back of the chair and join it to the first to form a tube that will fit around the chair: squares joined for chairback cover Edging When the squares are joined, work an edging along the bottom with a row of granny trebles and ch-3 picots in between as per the illustration below. Double crochet (US single crochet) evenly around the top edge, which will form the base for the piece that fits over the top of the chair. diagram for chair back covers Top Flap At this point, make sure the tube is placed symmetrically on the chair and mark the two double crochet stitches which fall at the two front corners of the chair. You can see in the third image above that I’ve marked these stitches with safety pins. These stitches will be the beginning and end stitches of the rows forming a flap to fit over the top of the chair. Rejoin your yarn in the marked stitch on the right hand side (left if you’re left-handed), and work a row of double crochet until you have worked in the second marked stitch and turn. Continue working rows of double crochet until the flap created meets the top edge of the squares running along the back of the chair. It may help to mark the two corner stitches at the back, in the same way as before, to help you see how long the flap needs to extend, and to ensure that the ‘back’ is the same width as the ‘front’. You can see one corner marked with a safety pin in the image below. top flap on chair back cover When the flap is the right size, fasten off and pin the edge of the flap to meet the back edge of the squares where it will be joined. Rejoin the yarn at the front corner and work a double crochet seam through both layers around the two short edges and the long back edge. Remember to increase at the corners – I worked 2dc stitches in 2 stitches at each of the back corners. Don’t fasten off when you’ve finished this seam. pin and join top flap on chair back cover I wanted to create a cushioned ridge along the back edge of the chair to give some extra protection to the back corners. To do this, I carried on crocheting another two rows worked onto the double crochet seam, and then rolled this extra piece in and sewed the last row to the base of the double crochet seam. top ridge around chair back cover Ties I used two pieces of cotton tape to tie the cover to the chair, but in hindsight I think it might be better with an extra one in the middle as well to keep the cover from sagging. Each piece of tape measured approx 40cm with a little extra allowed for finishing the raw ends. This was long enough to tie around the bar running along the top of the chair frame, but not so long that the tapes hung down beneath the bottom of the cover. You may need to adjust the length according to your own chair. Measure in from each side of the chair to see where these will be placed, making them far enough in from the edge to avoid the frame of the chair back. measure width from end of chair for tapes on chair back cover Mark the same distance in from each end of the cover. Find the midpoint of each piece of tape and sew the tapes to the cover on the inside, so there is an equal amount front and back to tie. sew tapes to inside of chair back cover Tie in position and the chair covers are ready. tie tapes onto chair for chair back cover


December 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

It is no secret that I love the colour red. My friends will tell you that it is my favourite colour to wear. I have owned a succession of pairs of red shoes or boots (although I don’t have any at the moment, tut, tut!) and I have a stash of lace weight yarn with a definite bias towards red. I saw some of Hilda Grahnat’s work on Flipboard a couple of weeks ago, and her wonderful vintage collections by colour inspired me to do a post on a colour theme. Here’s her red collection: Vintage collection from Hilda Grahnat Without her flair or photography equipment, I have put together a ‘red’ collage of some of my crafty bits and pieces. collage of red crochet and other red craft items From left to right, top to bottom: 1. A doll I made from Simplicity pattern 1900, with red polka dot dress. It was Miss Maggie rabbit that set me off on the doll sewing track. I enjoyed making her so much that I decided to do a bit more sewing. I don’t know what it is about making dolls that I find so appealing! If you had said to me that I would like making dolls I don’t think I would relate to it at all. I think the word ‘doll’ conjures up images of scary plastic things with clothes knitted in acrylic. It must be partly because the clothes that you make for them are small, and I am hopeless at finishing larger garments. πŸ™‚ 2. The Russian Ami Santas I posted about recently. I found out last week that you can now get the pattern for the large Santa from Simply Crochet for free. Download the Simply Knitting app on Apple Newsstand and you can find it under the ‘free content’ link. As it is packaged with some other Christmas patterns, it probably won’t be around for ever, so go and get it now! 3. DMC Petra 3, in shade 5666. I love using this yarn for crochet. I usually use a 3mm hook, although a 2.5mm works well too. There are so many fantastic colours, and 1 ball always seems to go quite a long way. 4. My crochet lampshade from the first issue of Simply Crochet. I give the link to the options for digital editions here because I don’t think the print edition of Issue 1 is still available. I’ve got the lampshade at home again now, but the paper lantern got a bit battered so it needs sorting out. What I want to do is to stiffen the crochet so that it holds it’s shape without the lantern, but I’m not sure how to go about it at the minute. Yet another job on my to-do list. 5. A necklace I made a while ago from coloured felt beads with seed beads. Still one of my favourites. 6. A WIP shawl from the recuerdos de infancia pattern on Ravelry. The main stitch pattern is nice and easy, but I wanted to add a different border. Once I had worked the main body of the shawl, it was a more ‘pointy’ shape than I wanted, so I decided to try adding further staggered rows on either side to make the angle more shallow. This worked ok one one side, but not the other, and I still haven’t worked it out. Another project consigned to the pile!

Russian Ami Santas

November 19, 2013 § 1 Comment

Russian doll amigurumi SantasHo, ho, ho! Christmas is coming, whether you like it or not! I’m still in denial, even though it was a couple of months ago that we were ‘doing’ Christmas on Simply Crochet. I think that’s part of the problem. I am lulled into a false sense of security because we are forced to think about it early, but this makes me feel as though I am doing something about it, when actually, I am not.

Simply Crochet Issue 12 coverI present to you my amigurumi Santa, from Issue 12 of Simply Crochet. He does get a cheeky look-in on the cover, but you will find him on p.85. When I made him I had the idea of doing three of them in different sizes like Russian dolls, but there wasn’t the time or the space really for the pattern. Now I have managed to accomplish the task here they are, Little, Large, and er, Middle Sized. The full pattern for the Large version is in the magazine, and there are guidelines below for making the other two, although you may need to refer to the original pattern for some of the details. Yes, this is deliberate, because a) I will be in trouble if I reveal too much of the pattern from the mag ;-), and b) I would love you to be acquainted personally with the awesome mag that is Simply Crochet.

The diagram and table below (click on the image for a full-sized version) show the general shaping instructions you will need, and also how many rounds to work in each colour. You start at the top of the Hat and work down. There is also a stitch diagram for the moustache, as this differs slightly from the one for the Large size. Use the same pattern for the moustache of the Middle and Small, but use a 2.5mm hook for the Small.

Russian doll amigurumi Santa diagram

Click on the image for a full-sized version

Further instructions for the details are as follows (with a gentle reminder that I am using UK crochet terms): Hat Bobble Make a slightly smaller bobble for both these two, using only 3 rounds. Make the first round 6dc, the second 12dc, and the third 6dc. You might like to use a smaller hook for the Small sized one.

Hat Brim Follow the same principle as for the Large Santa, by working a plain round of dc, followed by a round where you increase evenly around, and then another plain round of dc. For the Middle Santa increase by 6sts evenly on the increase round, and for the Small Santa increase by 5sts evenly.

Beard and Face For the Middle Santa start with 10dc and follow the pattern as for the Large Santa. For the Small Santa start with 8dc. For the Face, follow the same principle as for the Large Santa, working 4 rows for the Middle, and 3 rows for the Small.

Russian doll amigurumi SantasIf you do have a go at multi-sized Santas I would love to see a photo. Meanwhile, I had better do something about Christmas!

Renegade Craft Fair London

November 12, 2013 § 2 Comments

Renegade craft fair stand Mollie Makes crochet book

The Russian dolls I designed that feature in the Mollie Makes crochet book

I was working at the Renegade Craft Fair in London on Saturday, on the Anova books/Mollie Makes stand. There was such a buzz there, and great to see so many quality designer/makers selling their work. I had a scout round at lunchtime with the intention of buying some Christmas presents, but I think I ended up with more ideas for my own Christmas wish list than anyone else’s! I really liked these Manolo earrings and Kayleigh O’Mara‘s work also caught my eye, although there were so many others worthy of attention.

Renegade Craft fair 2013 workshop

Lots of concentration!

I was there to run a couple of crochet workshops for Anova, to promote the Mollie Makes books. The workshop project was to make my little reindeer from the Christmas book. We had fun!

Crochet Reindeer from Mollie Makes Christmas Book

There’s a great roundup of Renegade London at Claireabellmakes, and to finish, another lovely little reindeer I found on my internet travels at TwistedFibers.

On a separate note, I have had a huge response to my last post on an alternative to the crochet circle. I will write a follow-up post shortly to explain a few more points about this. TTFN!

Top Tech Tips – the perfect crochet circle

November 4, 2013 § 23 Comments

Top tech tips - perfect crochet circles

You know the score. You’ve been making crochet circles the same way since I Don’t Know When, but they are never quite right – the seam, having to smooth out the corners… I’ve been trying to find a way of improving on the basic crochet circle where you close off each round with a slip stitch. This is easy to work and easy to count, but the slip stitch at the end of the round creates a visible seam, and you also need to stagger the increases to stop the ‘corners’ becoming obvious.

The second way of doing it is the spiral. This has the advantage of losing the seam, but it is more tricky to keep track of the stitch count (stitch markers may be needed!), and when you have finished there is a visible ‘step’ at the end which needs smoothing out. It also doesn’t work if you want to work a different colour for each round.


What I’ve come up with combines the advantages of working in closed off rounds with those of the spiral:

  • It is easier to count
  • It has a less visible seam,
  • It can be worked in coloured stripes
  • It is a much smoother circle than the traditional ‘closed off’ method.

It has probably been done before at some point, and although I couldn’t find anything like it when I searched, it may be lurking somewhere!


When you work a circle, you will usually have 6 evenly spaced increases in each round, either by putting the increase first and then the required number of plain stitches, or the plain stitches followed by the increase, for example:

Round 4 Ch1 (does not count as stitch), (2dc in next st, 4dc) repeat to end of round.


Round 4 Ch1 (does not count as stitch), (4dc, 2dc in next st) repeat to end of round.

There will be an increase stitch either at the beginning or the end of the round unless you are staggering the increases.

This ‘perfect circle’ method requires the increase stitch to always be the first stitch of the round, but instead of working both of those increase stitches in the first stitch at the same time, you will work one of those stitches at the beginning of the round, complete the round, and then work the second of those increase stitches in the same stitch as the first stitch to close off the round.

I’ve written out the pattern below, and then the walkthrough photographs explain each step in detail.


UK terms used throughout.

Make a magic loop or other foundation ring.

Round 1 Ch1, 6dc into the loop, do not close off with a slip stitch.

Round 2 Ch1, 1dc into first st, 2dc into each of next 5 sts, 1dc into same st as first st of round. [12 sts]

Round 3 Ch1, skip first st of last round, (1dc into next st) twice, (2dc in next st, 1dc) 5 times, working the last dc in the beginning ch-1 sp, 1dc into same st as first st of round. [18 sts]

Round 4 Ch1, skip first st of last round, 3dc, (2dc in next st, 2dc) 5 times, working the last dc in the beginning ch-1 sp, 1dc into same st as first st of round. [24 sts]

Round 5 Ch1, skip first st of last round, 4dc, (2dc in next st, 3dc) 5 times, working the last dc in the beginning ch-1 sp, 1dc into same st as first st of round. [30 sts]

Continue in the same fashion, increasing 6 sts evenly every round, splitting the first increase over the beginning and end of the round, and working in the beginning ch-1 sp.

Before fastening off, slip stitch in the next stitch.


Perfect circle 1

Step 1

Work 6dc into a magic loop as you would do usually for a circle.

Perfect circle 2

Step 2

Ch1, 1dc into first st, 2dc into each of next 5 sts.

Perfect circle 3

Β Step 3

You will now have worked 11 stitches out of 12, so work the last dc of the round in the same stitch as the first st of the round to complete it. You will see that what would have been 2dc in the first stitch of a conventional circle has been ‘split’, so that 1 of those 2 dc has been worked at the beginning of the round, and 1 at the end of the round.

Step 4

At this point you will have 12dc worked for the second round, but you may notice that the first stitch of the round is more or less covered up by the last stitch. You will skip this covered first stitch at the beginning of the next round, which will mean that there are only 11 stitches numbered on the photo for the next round. When you ch1 at the start of the next round, it will provide an extra stitch in which to work.

Perfect circle 4

Step 5

This image shows the ch1 and first st of the next round. You will see that there are now 12sts in which to work the next round. The first stitch of this round counts as the first increase stitch, which will be completed at the end of the round. The pattern for this round in a conventional circle is (2dc in next st, 1dc), and as we have already worked what counts as the increase st, work 1dc in the next st, before 2dc in the following stitch. Continue around until the last 4 stitches of the round, and the following image will show where to work the last 4 stitches of the round.

Perfect circle 6

Step 6

The last 4 stitches of the round (marked in red and yet to be worked on the image) will be an increase, a dc worked in the ch1 at the beginning of the round, and a dc in the same stitch as the first dc of the round to complete the increase stitch.

Perfect circle 7

Step 7

This round is now complete.

Things to remember…

If you try and count the stitches once you have finished the round by counting the top ‘bumps’ of the stitches you will always appear to have one less stitch than you should have, but it’s ok – it’s just because the beginning and end stitches aren’t joined that it appears this way. This confused me no end when I was working this out!

If you are fastening off, you can slip stitch in the next stitch. Otherwise continue to work the following rounds as for the pattern of a conventional circle, remembering the following points:

  • Ch1 at the start of the round
  • Split the first increase stitch at the beginning and end of the round
  • The last 2 stitches of each round are 1dc in the beginning ch1 and 1dc in the same stitch as the first stitch of the round

Crochet Nativity pattern on Newsstand

October 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

Crochet Nativity Set

Crochet Nativity Set

My crochet nativity set is now available for download on Apple Newsstand! There are 12 patterns included, for Mary and Joseph, the crib with Baby Jesus, 2 shepherds, 3 wise men, an angel, a sheep, camel and donkey. There are more images over on the Simply Crochet blog, and if you’d like a free taster, the angel pattern is posted there too.

Crochet Nativity Collage

To download the pattern from Newsstand, search for and download the Simply Crochet app, and it is available from within the app. It’s also available within the Simply Knitting, The Knitter and Mollie Makes apps.

Crochet Nativity Apple Newsstand

Download the Crochet Nativity pattern from Apple Newsstand

If you make it, please do let me know, and send me some pics – I’d love to see them!

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