Russian Ami Santas

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

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

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.

circles-comparison.jpg

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!

Method

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.

OR

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.

Pattern

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.

Step-by-step

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

 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

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!

Free Mollie Makes Crochet Kindle Cover

Waterstones Craft Project Download
Click on the image for a direct link to the project pdf

Waterstones have put a free project download from the Mollie Makes Crochet book on their website, and it just happens to be the monster Kindle cover I designed – yay! It turns out that Waterstones have a hidden treasure-trove of craft projects hidden away in the ‘Waterstones Card’ section of their website. For a direct link to the project pdf, click on the image above.

I love this little guy, he was such fun to make! He is one of a set of three monster gadget covers and some Russian dolls I made for the book – see my previous post, Mollie Makes Crochet Book.

Crochet edgings the easy way

Simply Crochet edgings

I love crochet edgings! They’re quick and easy to do and add a lovely hand-made touch to something a little bit ordinary. When I was designing these edgings for Issue 11 of Simply Crochet magazine, I was mindful of the fact that edgings are sometimes a bit of a faff to do. Very often you know how long the edging needs to be, but if you’re following an edging pattern that starts with a foundation chain, the chain itself isn’t a very reliable guide to how long the finished edging piece will turn out. Foundation chains are notoriously fickle, and once you’ve worked a few rows, the finished piece can turn out quite a different length from the original chain because the tension of the chain, and the tension of rows of stitches, varies quite a bit.

One of the solutions to this problem is to work a foundation chain quite a bit longer than you think you will need, because it’s a relatively easy job to unpick the extra chains that aren’t needed after you’ve worked a couple of rows. This was the instruction I gave for a couple of the edgings above, but the one on the outside of the image is worked using a different method. Instead of making a chain as long as the edging needs to be, the pattern is written to be worked back and forth in short rows, so you can adjust the length to fit as you work.

I thought I’d try and come up with some more patterns like this that are ‘back and forth’ edgings, worked in short rows. Here are three more designs, with the most straightforward one at the top.

Crochet Edgings

Edging Patterns

For all of these edgings I used DMC Petra #3, and a 2.5mm (US B/1 or C/2 hook). UK crochet terms are used throughout.

Edging One

This first one’s nice and simple to work. It would be an interesting way of starting off a piece of work too, because you could then rotate the edging and work into the row of chain spaces along the long edge:

Crochet edging1

Edging1chart
The grey highlighted area shows the pattern repeat

Ch6 and ss into the first ch to join into a ring.

Row 1 (RS) Ch4 (counts as first dtr), 3dtr into ring, ch4, 4dtr into ring, turn. [8 dtr, ch-4 sp]

Row 2 Ch3 (counts as first tr), (3tr, ch3, 3tr) into ch-4 sp, tr into top of beg ch-4, turn. [8 tr, ch-4 sp]

Row 3 Ch4 (counts as first dtr), (4dtr into ring, ch4, 4dtr) into ch-4 sp, turn. [9 dtr, ch-4 sp]

Repeat Rows 2 and 3 until your edging is the desired length, fasten off and weave in ends.

Edging Two

You could add more colours to this edging by threading lengths of chain through the spaces along the long straight edge, or do the same with narrow ribbon:

Crochet Edging2

Edging 2 chart
The grey highlighted area shows the pattern repeat

Ch5.

Row 1 (RS) 4dc beg in second ch from hook, turn. [4 dc]

Row 2 Ch1 (does not count as st), 4dc, turn.

Row 3 Ch4 (counts as tr, ch1), skip st at base of ch, tr in next st, ch1, skip next st, tr in next st, ch3, rotate 90 degrees to work in sp created by tr just worked, tr4tog with first 3 ‘legs’ in space created by tr, and last leg in end of last row of dc, turn. [3 tr, 2 ch-1 sp, ch3, tr4tog]

Row 4 Ch3, ss in top of tr4tog from previous row, ch4, skip ch-3 from previous row, (dc in next tr, dc in next ch-1 sp) twice, turn leaving top of turning ch unworked. [ch-3 picot, ch-4, 4 dc]

Row 5  Ch4 (counts as tr, ch1), skip st at base of ch, tr in next st, ch1, skip next st, tr in next st, turn. [5 sts]

Row 6 Ch1 (does not count as st), dc in each of next 4 sts, turn, leaving top of turning ch unworked. [4 sts]

Rows 7 and 8 As Rows 3 and 4.

Repeat Rows 5-8 until edging is the desired length, fasten off and weave in ends.

Edging Three

This is my favourite because it’s so well behaved! I like the way the trebles without any turning chain make a neat firm edge along the top, and of the three this one is most suited to working around curves like a neckline because there is a bit of ‘give’ in it. Incidentally, in the first image above I shot it from the wrong side, so I’ve flipped the image below to match the chart and the direction of working.

Crochet edging 3

Edging 3 chart
The grey highlighted area shows the pattern repeat

Ch5.

Row 1 (WS) 4dc beginning in second ch from hook, turn. [4 dc]

Row 2 (RS) Ch1 (does not count as st), 2dc, ch4, tr in next dc, ch4, tr around post of last tr worked, turn. [2 dc, 2 tr, 2 ch-4 sp]

Row 3 Ss into first ch-4 sp, ch4, ss into same ch-4 sp, ch4, dc in next ch-4 sp, ch1, tr in each of next 2 dc, turn. [2 ch-4 sp, dc, ch-1 sp, 2 tr]

Row 4 Ch1 (does not count as st), 2dc, ch4, tr in ch-1 sp, ch4, tr around post of last tr worked, turn. [2 dc, 2 tr, 2 ch-4 sp]

Row 5 Ss into first ch-4 sp, ch4, ss into same ch-4 sp, ch4, dc in next ch-4 sp, ch1, tr in each of next 2 dc, turn. [2 ch-4 sp, dc, ch-1 sp, 2 tr]

Repeat Rows 4 and 5 until edging is desired length, fasten off and weave in ends.