Sunday, 27 May 2012

'I can never find my phone in this huge bag!'


I've never been one to be over-precious about my phone and have never bought a posh phone case....  What's the point - I'll get a free upgrade in 18 months, right?  So why on earth did I make myself a phone sock?  Well, it just started as my first ever attempt at Tunisian crochet (I've always loved the woven look of the fabric and wanted to try it), and because I bought a double-ended hook I wanted to try working it in two colours in the round.  After a few rounds, and because I just happened to make my practice piece the correct circumference, I decided to make a phone sock. 

Now that I've made it, I simply can't understand why I didn't make one before!!  I added a button at the bottom for easy access and a button hole at the top for  attaching a lanyard.  I made two: one long enough to wear around my neck for when I don't want to carry a bag, and one for attaching to my bag handle or for sliding on to my belt.

I wish I'd made one when the kids were still in nappies and I was always carrying around an over-sized nappy bag.....  I'm not the only one am I?  I had the biggest change bag ever and always managed to fill it with all manner of junk, most of which I didn't need, and the things I did need (phone, wallet, keys) would always get lost somewhere in amongst the nappies, baby wipes, and the various mystery items the kids would end up throwing in.  Now, I can just attach my phone to my bag handle, pushchair handle or belt so I can quickly find it.  Now the kids are out of nappies, I often take them out for quick trips without a bag at all and I can just button my lanyard onto to phone sock, throw in a cash card and some cash and off I go =)

Thursday, 24 May 2012

A bit too blobby for your t-shirt? Hand it down to your mini-me!

Come on, admit it: you've got a tonne of clothes that you have stashed away for when you 'lose those few extra kilos'.  Ok, if you won't, then I'm coming out with it: I have loads of clothes that I put away when I became pregnant.  When it came to unpacking them again, it was clear that I would not be wearing them again.  With some of them, it's not even just because I've turned into a blob, but more because they're not really very 'me' anymore.  I love my Coco Monkey t-shirts, but they're quite short and I no longer want to flash my midriff.


The thing I love about t-shirt fabric is that it doesn't really fray.  This quality makes it really easy for modifications to be made with a few snips and no overlocking (and indeed for making tarn ).  I had some grey organza from a posh bunch of flowers that hubby bought me a while back that I've been saving to make a tutu for the girl.  I thought it would look perfect added to the bottom of the grey t-shirt.  As the t-shirts were already quite short (just over 55 cm from top to bottom), I didn't want to shorten them too much.  I cut of the sleeves, the necks, and after cutting off the bottom cut two 2.5 cm strips from the bottom of the grey one to be used as drawstrings for the necks of both dress.


For the pink one, I simply folded each side of the neck inwards and sewed a 1.5 cm channel through which the drawstring would be passed.  I then drew a strip of the grey t-shirt through the channels and tied a bow.  I used a flexible bodkin, but you could simply attach a safety pin to one end and use it to help you ease the drawstring through the channel (a trick my mum taught me).

I took a few extra steps with the grey t-shirt.  After cutting 15 cm strips from the organza, folded it in half lengthwise and stitched 7 mm from the folded edge with my shirring foot, I was lucky enough to end up with a ruffled strip roughly 2 cm longer than the width of the t-shirt (it went from 115 cm to 40 cm).  I made 4 of these strips and sewed them onto the bottom of the grey t-shirt, two staggered on each side.


Obviously, the end size of the sun dress will depend on the start size.  My t-shirt started out as a fitted UK size 8-10 and ended up fitting my rather small 3 year old.  Indeed, you could use the technique to turn hubby's old t-shirts into a top for yourself (go on, poke holes in the sleeves of his t-shirts).

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Of course mini-me wants a mini-Mummy sun hat!

Before I even finished making my wide-brimmed crochet sun hat I knew that my daughter would want one for herself so I asked her to pick out the yarn for it.  She chose Wendy Supreme cotton DK in 'seashell, 1946', a soft shade of pink (of course), of which I used approximately 110 g.  And here it is, a matching mini-me hat with slightly different shaping.  I have yet to make a flower (believe me, she won't let me forget that I haven't yet), but am going to sew it rather than crochet it.


She's a small three-and-a-half year old with a head circumference (measured diagonally from the back of her neck and round her forehead) of 47 cm.  I think it will fit quite a range of ages as the mother of a 9 month old just couldn't resist trying it on her little girl today, and there is still plenty of give in it for my daughter.  The cotton gives it a slight weight that is lacking in sewn cotton hats and it doesn't blow off, and the bpdc detail gives the hat a slight firmness that can handle the brim being left down or rolled.

As I emphasised with the pattern of my adult sized hat, this is not the simplest of patterns as bpdc takes a little while to master but you really must not omit it because it tightens the trebles and the size would be completely wrong without the bpdc rounds.  I write all my patterns in UK terminology so make sure to check out my post on terminology.

I have worked hard creating my original patterns and am happy for them to be used for free.  Please do not sell the patterns.  If you do sell the end products please state clearly that they were made using my design, and that the pattern came from www.craftymamasanchez.blogspot.com.  Thanks, and enjoy! 

What you'll need:
  • Yarn(s) of choice plus the crochet hook required to work to a tension of 22 dc to 10 cm
  • Yarn needle
  • Small safety pins or stitch markers

Techniques used (UK terminology):
  • ch: chain
  • slst: slip stitch 
  • dc: double crochet (US single crochet)
  • htc: half treble crochet
  • tc: treble crochet
  • dtc: double treble crochet
  • bpdc: back post double crochet
  • working rounds by joining
  • working in continuous rounds
  • magic circle  

Working bpdc (back post double crochet): 

Back-post double crochet is a special stitch that is worked around the posts of the stitches of the previous round in order to push the characteristic 'chain' at the top of the work to the front of the work.  It can be a little fiddly to master at first, but please do not try to omit the bpdc rounds from the pattern - double crochets work up a lot tighter than trebles and double trebles and the hat and the bpdc round will tighten the previous round slightly.


  1. A yellow and a pink arrow have been placed to show where the hook will be inserted from the back and from the front respectively in working the first bpdc after the slst
  2. Insert the hook at the back of the work in the next stitch such that it emerges at the front
  3. Reinsert the hook from front to back in the next stitch.  The hook will now be lying on top of a post
  4. Yarn over and draw a loop through, yarn over and draw hook through both loops on hook 
  5. At the end of the round, slst to the first bpdc of the round to join
  6. There will now be a circle of chains that has been pushed forward to form a ridge, and a new circle of chains at the top into which the next round will be worked

Hat:

This project is worked without turning.

From round 3 and every odd round thereafter, work bpdc for the entire round, slst to first bpdc to join round:

Round 1:  With main colour make a magic circle, ch2 (counts as first tc), work 13 tc into the circle, slst to the top of 2ch to join round [14]
Round 2:  Ch 2, tc into slst, work 2 tc into each of the next 13 st, slst to top of 2ch to join round [28]
Round 4:  Ch 3, dtc into slst, work 2 dtc into each of the next 27 st, slst to top of 3ch to join round [56]
Round 6:  Ch 3, 2 dtc into next st, (dtc, 2 dtc into next st) x 27, slst to top of 3ch to join round [84]
Round 8:  Ch 3, 4 dtc, 2 dtc into next st, (5 dtc, 2 dtc into next st) x 13, slst to top of 3ch to join round [98]
Round 10:  Ch 3, 5 dtc, 2 dtc into next st, (6 dtc, 2 dtc into next st) x 13, slst to top of 3ch to join round [112]
Round 12:  Ch 3, 6 dtc, 2 dtc into next st, (7 dtc, 2 dtc into next st) x 13, slst to top of 3ch to join round [126]
Round 14:  Ch 2, 20tc, 6htc, 72dc, 6htc, 21tc, slst to top of 2ch to join round [126]
Round 16:  Ch 2, 22tc, 6htc, 66dc, 6htc, 25tc, slst to top of 2ch to join round [126]
Round 18:  Ch 2, 24tc, 6htc, 60dc, 6htc, 29tc, slst to top of 2ch to join round [126]
Round 20:  Ch 2, 26tc, 6htc, 54dc, 6htc, 33tc, slst to top of 2ch to join round [126]
Round 22:  Ch 3, 7 dtc, 2 dtc into next st, (8 dtc, 2 dtc into next st) x 13, slst to top of 3ch to join round [140]
Round 24:  Ch 3, 8 dtc, 2 dtc into next st, (9 dtc, 2 dtc into next st) x 13, slst to top of 3ch to join round [154]
Round 26:  Ch 3, 9 dtc, 2 dtc into next st, (10 dtc, 2 dtc into next st) x 13, slst to top of 3ch to join round [168]
Round 28:  Ch 2, 10 tc, 2 tc into next st, (11 tc, 2 tc into next st) x 13, slst to top of 2ch to join round [182]
Round 30:  Ch 1, 11 htc, 2 htc into next st, (12 htc, 2 htc into next st) x 13, slst to 1ch to join round [196]
Round 32:  Ch 1, dc in each stitch round, slst to the 1ch to join round [196]
Round 34:  Slip stitch round

Weave in loose ends.






Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Old clothes, 'new cushion'


Ta da!!!  I've finally finished the quilted cushion cover I made from old clothes.  I started it back in January and it feels like I've been working on it forever.  In actual fact, it took me just over two hours to rotary cut the fabric and piece the quilt top.  I've been holding on to the quilted cushion cover top for ages because I've not had time to go to quilting group (poorly kids followed by a poorly me).  About a month ago I finally decided to buy myself a working foot and it finally arrived this morning.  No, I didn't have it sent from the slowest company ever, I didn't finalise my transaction properly......  Flipping heck!  PayPal requests so many blimming confirmations of transaction!  I was such a fool, it took me over three weeks to look into contacting the seller and in looking for the confirmations, I realised there wasn't one.  Duh!

As soon as I received my package this morning, my sewing machine was out with walking foot attached.  I used some bias tape I'd bought for the binding, and I have to say, I almost lost the will to live while hand-sewing the back of the binding in place, but it was definitely worth it.  I have to say, I'm feeling rather smug about how 'clever' I am for using the front of a shirt I spotted in my husband's pile of things to throw out as the cushion cover back.  How lazy am I?  No button-holing and no having to sew buttons in place!!! 


I opted for mitred binding, which I thought would be tricky but was surprisingly easy.  I didn't really think this quilt out beforehand as it was my practice piece....  Next time I'll do mitred borders as well as mitred binding for a neater finish.


Well, the girl loves it and used it in place of her pillow last night and then carried it downstairs with her today.  I'm pretty pleased with my first ever quilting project and am looking forward to making a whole load of things from the old clothes I've amassed since January =)

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Piñatas all filled and ready to..... destroy!


Our piñatas are ready to receive a good whacking on Saturday.  It seems such a shame because we've spent quite a while on them  No loss of effort though because we tend to do so much artwork that loads of it ends up in the bin!

Before filling it with a selection of surprise goodies and some cut up coloured tissue paper, I carefully poked two holes in the top of each one with knitting and threaded through some string that I tied ready to hang them for their climactic demise.

I don't know how hubby watched me make a mess of the floor with cut up tissue paper and hollow piñatas, but that we did!!


The kids had a fab time filling them with the tissue paper!


Unfortunately that's where their involvement ended because I had to stuff them with their goodies.  We're just having a family party so it's just going to be them so they've got one each with a few little toys, bubbles blowers and sweets in them.  My next job was to close them up.  Yeah, yeah, in hind sight I'd have stuffed them and sealed them BEFORE painting them, but I have to admit that this was not a very well-planned project and I hadn't bought the goodies and the kids wanted to crack on with painting them.  

I had already traced the openings onto thin card and cut them out with tabs which I used for masking taping the circles over the opening.  Another layer of papier-mâché and they were all sealed up.

A last lick of paint and then my sister and I started at the bottom and stuck tissue paper on them a some cartoon painted eyes and mouths as finishing touches.

We had a great time and will definitely be doing it again, but I'll be a bit more well-prepared next time.....  I was just using up stuff I had in the house.  Next time I'll buy a selection of big balloons and long balloons so I can make a big fat body and legs.  I'll seal them before decorating them.  I won't paint them next time either - the paint cracks.  Instead, I will go out and buy some crêpe paper that I'll cut into strips and cut little 'tabs' in them so the entire strip can be wrapped around the papier-mâché.  I think I'll even make a 'trap door' in them too so I can fill the after they're decorated - the crêpe paper should conceal the flap nicely.






Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Another doll gets a Mama Sanchez makeover because off-the-peg just doesn't cut it!



What on earth have I started?  I only started making dolls' clothes because the outfits that The Little Mermaid is sold with are woefully inadequate and always result in her being half naked.  Now, it seems I have set a precedent for knitted/crocheted outfits and as soon as the girl gets a new doll her clothes are taken off and I'm told 'Mummy, she doesn't like her dress - she would like a knit one'.   To be fair, they are so much more durable than the shop bought ones which fray so quickly!

  
So of course, Tinker Bell was no exception and I was told she wanted a ballerina dress.  Tinker Bell just wouldn't be right if she were not wearing leaves, so I set about designing a ballerina-style leaf dress.  I made three different iterations of knitted ones and threw them all away.  The girl loved them all so I had to sneak them into the bin when she wasn't looking!


This isn't an exact pattern as Tinker Bell is smaller than a 'standard' doll so if you're planning on making this for your Barbie, following what I did simply wouldn't work.  I will guide you through making it to measure for your doll.

I used approximately 25g of a random mystery yarn for the main body of the dress and worked the contrast vein and edging on the leaves in Twilley's goldfingering.  I used a 3.0mm hook but you can use whatever yarn and hook you like.  I work to quite a tight tension so you may want to drop down a few hook sizes because big stitches just won't look right on a such a small garment.  Just remember not to use a hook that is far too small for your yarn because the garment will end up too tight and without stretch - a good choice would be to use yarn that knits to a 2.5mm needle with a 2.5mm hook.

The dress body is worked in entirely in trebles and treble decreases, with joining and without turning.  I 'step up' to the next round with 2ch and work the first treble back into the slip stitch.  You will also need to work a few doubles for the shoulder strap section.  Familiarise yourself with and refer to crochet stitch summary and terminology because I write all my patterns using UK terminology.  



1.  Work a test length of trebles
Before you set about making your leaves, work a test swatch of a row of treble crochet.  Work a multiple of four stitches that will fit around your doll's hips comfortably.  Do not just work a length of chain and assume that is a good enough test - the trebles will loosen up the work!

2.  Make your leaves
Divide your number of chains by 4 and make that number of large leaves and that number again of small leaves from my lovely little leaves post (I worked 24 chain so made 6 each of large and small leaves) 

 3.   Start the body of your dress
Work a length of chain of the required length, making sure not to twist the chain, slip stitch to the first chain.  Ch2 (doesn't count as a stitch) then work a round of tc working the first round in the sl st.

4. Attach large leaves in round 2
The leaves are worked into the dress by inserting the hook into the round end of a leaf after the yarn over but before inserting it into the main body of the work.  Draw the hook through both layers of work and work a tc in the usual manner.

 
Attach large leaves in the second round in the following manner: ch 2, attach first leaf into the sl st, 3 tc, (attach leaf, 3 tc) until all leaves are attached, sl st to the first tc to join the round  

5.  Attach small leaves in round 3:
Attach small leaves in this round in the following manner: 2 tc, (attach leaf, 3 tc) until all leaves are attached, sl st to the first tc to join the round 

6.  Keep working straight until the skirt is the desired length
Remembering thr 2ch 'step up', hold your work up to the doll's waist and stop when you reach the desired length

7.  Decrease for the waist
Ch2, tc into the sl st, tc, tc2tog, (2 tc, tc2tog) to end, sl st to the first tc to join the round   

8.  Keep working straight until the bodice is the desired length
Remembering the 2ch 'step up', hold your work up to the doll's waist and stop when you reach the desired length

9.  Work the straps
I like to put aside a quarter of the stitches for the front middle.    After the last sl st, work a length of chain sufficient to pass over the shoulder from the centre-back, sl st to the stitch to the side of the middle quarter stitches.  Dc the middle stitches, sl st to the next stitch then work another shoulder strap.  Sl st to the beginning of the round and tie of securely and weave in loose ends.


The photo shows two 'looks'.  Working the contrast edge on the leaves gives them a convex/concave quality - you decide which look you like best by simply popping them in the desired direction.

Pretty painted piñatas :-)


We finished painting our piñatas with a layer of water based paint just before supper yesterday. I don't suppose it's essential but we did it simply because the old magazines were not that pretty and so that if the kids miss bits when we start sticking the tissue paper on, at least they will still look lovely. I think they've done a wonderful job! Of course I had to paint the Angry bird one (the girl is only three and a half and the boy two!), and the dinosaur spikes because the boy became restless and returned to charging about the house!

They're proud as punch with them and ran straight to Papa when he got home from work to drag him to their masterpieces! We probably won't get round to adding the tissue paper and eyes until tomorrow - there are far too many huge muddy puddles to be wasting time indoors! The girl was horrified when i explained that they're to be filled and then bashed to pieces, but by the time it was time for their bath she told me 'Mummy I'd like a big stick so I can poke my piggy!'. I reckon she's just had so much fun that she doesn't mind if she ends up having to make a new one! To be honest, I loved it too and am now thinking of any excuse to tear up more old magazines and get out the flour paste.... Is it obscenely early to start making Christmas bauble gift piñatas?

Monday, 14 May 2012

Plain piñatas? Pah!!!

Yesterday the kids and I started making piñatas.  I managed somehow to delude myself that I'd get away with letting the kids just stick a mish-mash of different coloured tissue paper on them then add some tissue paper tails and they'd be overjoyed with an octopus each.  Oh no, of course not.....  The girl wants a piggie and the boy a dinosaur.  I thought it would only be polite to make a red Angry Bird for my niece.

With nothing fancier than a piece of thin card, a pencil, a pair of scissors and some masking tape, I was determined to turn the drab papier-mâché balloons into a work of art


I sketched out some dinosaur spikes, a pair of piggie ears, a head and a tail feather for the Angry Bird and a semi-circle which I taped into a cone shape for its beak.  Rather than cutting the shapes out exactly, I cut an extra 1.5 cm on the edge that was to be attached to the balloon.  I then cut tabs and folded them in alternating directions (except for the beak, for which I folded all of the tabs outwards).  I also made a papier-mâché piggie snout which I shaped around a little freezer weaning pot covered with cling film (I was hoping to use a section of egg box but they don't seem as cup-shaped as they were when I was a lass).


I taped the adornments in place with the masking tape.  When taping things to the top of the balloon, I would highly recommend bending them so the contact point to the balloon is curved, otherwise (for example the head feather) they will be floppy and won't stand up.

I then tore up some more old magazines and  mixed up some more paste using 1 part flour and 2 parts cold water and covered the features and masking tape with more papier-mâché.



The kids are eagerly waiting for them to dry so they can paint them with water-based paint =)

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Lovely little leaves =)


I love the simplicity of crochet leaves but I've never really found a reason to make any.....  But then the girl became obsessed with Tinker Bell and wanted a Mama Sanchez dress for her.  I have to say, I made a three different iterations of knit ones and threw them all away because I just wasn't happy with any of them.  In the end I opted for a crochet dress, simply because I love the way sewing in yarn tails is so easy and tidy (in fact, I carry mine next to my work and bind them and sew in the bare minimum) and also because little loose bits are so easy to join in.  This is a pattern for the little leaves, not the dress, but that too will follow shortly.

It's probably not that clear from the photo, but there are two sizes of leaves.  The size of crochet leaves is so easy to adjust once you figure out what you're doing.  They are worked straight to build one side and then rotated, rather than turned, 180 degrees and worked along the unused third loop of the foundation chain.  I have added an optional contrast central vein and border in Twilley's goldfingering for the blingy effect I wanted for the dress but you could work them in a different shade of green or omit them altogether.


Large leaf:

You will need to know how to work the following stitches: chain, slip stitch, double crochet, treble crochet and double treble crochet.  Please see my crochet stitch summary and terminology as I write all my patterns in UK terminology.

 

  1. Ch 8, starting at the second ch, work the following stitches: dc, dc, htc, tc, dtc, dtc.  Work 4 tc into the last ch, rotating the work 180 degrees as you go.  Carry the yarn tail and bind it as you work dtc, dtc, tc, htc, dc, dc [16]
  2. You could stop at this point and weave in the yarn tail and have a plain teardrop shaped leaf with a central 'vein' of holes
  3. If you would like a contrast vein, insert the hook near the pointed tip (I didn't start right at the tip because I wanted a gap) and draw up a loop
  4. Insert the hook into the next stitch, pull up a loop and draw it through the loop on the hook thus working a slip stitch.  Slip stitch all the way to the end, working between stitches 8 and 9
  5. Work one last slip stitch off the end of the leaf
  6. Starting at the stitch directly next to the vein, work 7dc, 2dc into each of the next 2 stitches (each side of the pointed tip), 7dc ensuring to wrap the yarn tail as you go.  Break yarn and weave in loose ends

Small leaf:

Using the same principle as above, work the smaller leaf as follows:  ch 7, starting at the second ch, work the following stitches: dc, dc, htc, tc, tc.  Work 4 tc into the last ch, rotating the work 180 degrees as you go.  Carry the yarn tail and bind it as you work tc, tc, htc, dc, dc [14]

Piñata!!!

Kids love sticking don't they?  The girl would do sticking every single day if she could.  With the boy's birthday coming up, I decided to let them make their own piñatas.  I know everyone associates them with being donkey shaped, and sure, there are amazing ones in various Disney and Dreamworks characters for sale at Toys 'R' Us and Tesco, but we're just going to make some simple balloon-shaped ones - they are only two and three years old after all!  With a few little tissue paper tails, I guess we can pretend that they're octopuses, erm, octopii, erm.....  What is the correct plural of octopus anyway???!!!!

Armed with some balloons, old magazines, mugs and coloured tissue paper we were all set.  Of course we couldn't make the papier-mâché with wallpaper paste or watered down glue because they may contain edibles, so I mixed together a paste of 1 part flour and 2 parts water.  It doesn't matter if the paste is lumpy but I added the water a little at a time until it was smooth before throwing the rest in.  

The girl, being her usual tidy self spent ages covering her balloon and managed to do so without getting her hands dirty, but of course the boy got his hands in and dribbled quite a lot all over his clothes.... he is still covered in flour now!  We've done or first layer of magazines and they're sitting drying until after lunch when we'll add our next layer of magazines =)


What I did next: 


Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Cupcake cuties


Cupcakes are so cute aren't they?  Even cuter when they're mini-cupcakes.  It's rather strange that my kids never seem to be able to finish a full-size cupcake but will happily munch down two or three mini cupcakes!  I think it has something to do with the fact that the icing is in every bite =)  I just love the fact that they bake in less than 15 minutes and that it takes just one squeeze of a piping bag fitted with my biggest star nozzle to ice them.

I'm one of those that believes that home baking beats shop-bought any day.  I like to add as little sugar as I can get away with without spoiling the consistency of the bake because I think that too much sugar just takes away the taste.  I love baking with almonds and yoghurt because I like the moistness they lend to sponges.  I mix my cupcake mixes up in a huge jug which I then pour into a piping bag (a food bag will do just fine) so I can squeeze my mixture into the cases because I am far too lazy to use spoons to portion out the mix.  As for icing, I am not a fan of butter icing and much prefer a mascarpone icing not just because it's tastier but also because it doesn't go solid in the fridge.

These cupcakes are perfect for icing because they come out quite flat.  If you prefer your cupcakes not to rise above the paper cases, simply put less mixture into the cases.


Cupcake mix 
Makes approx 45 mini-cupcakes that will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container or, simply freeze them un-iced for up to a month

175 g unsalted butter
150 g natural yoghurt
3 medium eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
140 g self-raising flour, sifted
100 g ground almonds
150 g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
  • Pre-heat oven to gas mark 5 (190°C/170°C fan)
  • Melt butter and leave to cool before adding the yoghurt, eggs and vanilla extract and combining well
  • Stir together the dry ingredients, then pour in the wet ingredients and stir until just combined
  • Pour the mixture into mini cupcake cases until approximately 7mm from the top
  • Bake for 12 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean
  • Leave to cool for a few minutes before removing from tin, then leave to cool completely on a rack before icing

Mascarpone icing
This should be enough to ice 45 mini-cupcakes, but it's hard to tell because the kids 'test' so many cupcakes before they're iced and love licking the icing spoon.  Also, I don't like too much icing so you may want to make up a bit extra.  If you like a sweeter icing, simply add more sugar!  Unlike butter icing, it can be left in the fridge until you're ready to use it because it won't harden up very much.

40 g unsalted butter, very soft
125 g mascarpone
140 g icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract (or more if you like it to have a really ice creamy taste)
  • Beat all ingredients together until the mixture is thick and leaves a trail

The kids love various sprinkles on their cakes (don't all kids) but hubby doesn't like the texture so I just add a little dusting of edible glitter for glamour =)
 



Sunday, 6 May 2012

An uber-bling doll's mermaid dress for an uber-bling 30 year old girl =)

My 30 year old sister's friend recently bought her a retro Barbie (no, it's not a typo, my THIRTY year old sister has a Barbie doll!) and she fell in love with the knitted and crochet dresses I made for my daughter's doll.  Her favourite Disney cartoon growing up was 'The Little Mermaid' so when I found some  Freedom Gorgeous yarn at half price for £1.79 per 50g ball in my local Hobbycraft (I needed just over one ball), I decided to make an uber-bling version of my doll's demure mermaid dress for her complete with gold edging using Twilley's goldfingering on the scales.



I made a few modifications to improve the pattern.  In the original prototype, I made the scale section and continued up through the bodice.  I then made two tail fins that I stitched into place.  The new improvement is that I made two half tail fins, joined them by crocheting them together, then decreased gradually to 8 stitches into which the first eight skeleton pairs were worked. Please scroll right down to the bottom of my post on working double crochet in continuous rounds and refer to crochet stitch summary and terminology.

I have worked hard creating my original patterns and am happy for them to be used for free.  Please do not sell the patterns.  If you do sell the end products please state clearly that they were made using my design, and that the pattern came from www.craftymamasanchez.blogspot.com.  Thanks, and enjoy!  

Tail fins 
Made using continuous rounds.  Do not turn work.
Make two

Round 1:  Ch 2, 6 dc into 2nd chain on hook 
Round 2:  2 dc into each stitch round [12]
Rounds 3-5:  Work without shaping for 3 rounds
Round 6:  (1 dc, inc1) x 6 [18]
Rounds 7-9: Work without shaping for 3 rounds
Round 10:  (2 dc, inc1) x 6 [24]
Rounds 11-17: Work without shaping for 7 rounds

Join the tail fins in round 18 by working 24 stitches on the the first tail fin then 24 stitches from the second tail fin [48]

Round 19:  (4 dc, invDec) x 8 [40]
Round 20:  Work straight without shaping [40]
Round 21:  (3 dc, invDec) x 8 [32]
Round 22:  Work straight without shaping [32]
Round 23:  (2 dc, invDec) x 8 [24]
Round 24:  Work straight without shaping [24]

Round 25:  (1 dc, invDec) x 8 [16]
Round 26:  Work straight without shaping [16]
Round 27:  Dc2tog x 8 [8]


Tail:

Do not break yarn, instead continue straight into the tail by working the first 'skeleton round' as follows:

Slst to next stitch, 3 ch, tc into slst, ch 1, (2 tr, 1 ch) into each of the 7 remaining stitches round [8 skeletons formed.


Resume working from the doll's demure mermaid dress pattern.  If you would like to add a contrast trim as I did, join in the contrast colour after fleshing out the scales and work a round of dc.  Do not break either yarn - the yarn will not need to be trailed for long distances.  Work the second leg of tc on the first scale of each round such that you wrap the contrast yarn.

Of course my little girl has fallen in love with her Aunt's doll's blinged up mermaid dress and wants all of her dolls to have a mermaid makeover.  I've to make a tail for Prince Eric, Snow White and Tinker Bell.....  I'm going to be busy!!!!



Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Crochet stitch and terminology summary (UK)

As a Brit, I will always use the UK terminology for all stitches.  In order to avoid any confusion with regards to which stitch I am refering, I decided to create a summary of the stitches used in my patterns:

  • ch: chain
  • slst: slip stitch 
  • yo: yarn over
  • yrh: yarn round hook

Basic stitches:
  • dc: double crochet (US single crochet).  Insert hook, yo, draw hook through (2 loops on hook), yo, draw hook through both loops on hook (1 loop on hook)
  • htc: half treble crochet.  Yrh, Insert hook, yo, draw hook through (3 loops on hook), yo, draw hook through all 3 loops on hook (1 loop on hook)
  • tc: treble crochet.  Yrh, Insert hook, yo, draw hook through (3 loops on hook), yo, draw hook through 2 loops (2 loops on hook), yo, draw hook through both loops on hook (1 loop on hook)
  • dtc: double treble crochet.  Yrh x 2, Insert hook, yo, draw hook through (4 loops on hook), yo, draw hook through 2 loops (3 loops on hook), yo, draw hook through 2 loops (2 loops on hook), yo, draw hook through both loops on hook (1 loop on hook)
  • ttc: triple treble crochet.  Yrh x 3, Insert hook, yo, draw hook through (5 loops on hook), yo, draw hook through 2 loops (4 loops on hook), yo, draw hook through 2 loops (3 loops on hook), yo, draw hook through 2 loops (2 loops on hook) ,yo, draw hook through both loops on hook (1 loop on hook)

Increasing:

An increase of one stitch is achieved by working two stitches into one stitch from the previous row.  If increases are simply indicated by 'inc' I am assuming that the project is mainly constructed using one stitch type.


Decreasing:

A decrease of one stitch is achieved by working one stitch but stopping before the last yo.  The hook is then inserted into the next stitch and a second stitch worked until the last yo.  Yo and draw the hook throuh all remaining loops on hook.  If decreases are simply indicated by 'dec' I am assuming that the project is mainly constructed using one stitch type.  For clarity, I will always state the decrease type in the pattern.
  • dc2tog: double crochet 2 together.  Insert hook, yo, draw hook through (2 loops on hook), insert hook into next stitch, yo, draw hook through (3 loops on hook), yo, draw hook through all three loops on hook (1 loop on hook)
  • htc2tog: half treble crochet 2 together.  Yrh, Insert hook, yo, draw hook through (3 loops on hook), yo, yrh, insert hook, draw hook through (5 loops on hook), yo, draw hook through all 5 loops on hook (1 loop on hook)
  • tc2tog: treble crochet 2 together .  Yrh, Insert hook, yo, draw hook through (3 loops on hook), yo, draw hook through 2 loops (2 loops on hook), yrh, Insert hook, yo, draw hook through (4 loops on hook), yo, draw hook through 2 loops (3 loops on hook), yo, draw hook through all 3 loops on hook (1 loop on hook)

Front and back post stitches

Front and back post stitches are worked around the post of stitches of the previous row/round instead of into the 'chain' at the top of the work.  Doing so pushes the top chain of the previous row to the back (in front post stitches) or front (in back post stitches).  Working rows of front or back post stitches can be used to create horizontal ribs.  The stitches are much the same as the basic stitches, so I will only describe fpdc and bpdc.
  • fpdc: front post double crochet.  Insert hook into next stitch as per dc.  The hook will be at the back of the work. Insert the hook into the next stitch from the back of the work so that it emerges at the front of the work, yo, draw loop through (2 loops on hook), yo, draw hook through both loops on hook (1 loop on hook).
  • bpdc: back post double crochet.  Insert hook into next stitch from the back of the work so that it emerges at the front of the work. Insert the hook into the next stitch from the front of the work so that it emerges at the back of the work, yo, draw loop through (2 loops on hook), yo, draw hook through both loops on hook (1 loop on hook).

Wide-brimmed crochet sun hat

Every single year, a couple of days before I go on holiday, I end up feverishly running around every single shop in town looking for that perfect sun hat.  And every single year, I end up buying a sun hat that I hate and throw it away once it's done its job.  Now that I have well and truly got this crochet thing figured out, I decided to design my own hat.  I love the look of straw hats but hate the way they always blow off (has anyone else have loads of holiday photos in which they are holding their hat to their head to stop it from flying off?) and the way they can't be simply folded up and shoved into a suitcase.

Here's my solution: a hat that, I believe provides my head and eyes protection from the sun yet is trendy enough to wear in the evening, or to continue wearing through Autumn.  The great thing too, is that it has a snug fit that doesn't seem achieveable with straw hats so won't blow off quite so easily.

I won't kid you that it is the most straight forward of patterns - it uses quite a few stitches including bpdc (back post double crochet), to 'push' the top chain forward to create the characteristic ridges.  I used Wendy Supreme cotton DK, which, in my opinion is a great value 100% mercerised cotton.  I used just under 200g of navy and less than 25g of driftwood.  I chose cotton for its breatheability and washability.  I also wanted a yarn that would have enough rigidity for a brim that would not be reinforced with wire.  I used a 3.50mm hook, but I must warn you: I seem to work to quite a tight tension so you may find you will have to go down quite a few hook sizes in order to achieve the correct tension.  You really can't afford to skip the step of working a tension square with hats and clothes because it will really make a difference to the fit of the end product!

I have worked hard creating my original patterns and am happy for them to be used for free.  Please do not sell the patterns.  If you do sell the end products please state clearly that they were made using my design, and that the pattern came from www.craftymamasanchez.blogspot.com.  Thanks, and enjoy! 

What you'll need:

  • Yarn(s) of choice plus the crochet hook required to work to a tension of 22 dc to 10 cm
  • Yarn needle
  • Small safety pins or stitch markers

Techniques used (UK terminology):
  • ch: chain
  • slst: slip stitch 
  • dc: double crochet (US single crochet)
  • htc: half treble crochet
  • tc: treble crochet
  • dtc: double treble crochet
  • bpdc: back post double crochet
  • working rounds by joining
  • working in continuous rounds
  • magic circle  

Working bpdc (back post double crochet): 

Back-post double crochet is a special stitch that is worked around the posts of the stitches of the previous round in order to push the characteristic 'chain' at the top of the work to the front of the work.  It can be a little fiddly to master at first, but please do not try to omit the bpdc rounds from the pattern - double crochets work up a lot tighter than trebles and double trebles and the hat and the bpdc round will tighten the previous round slightly.


  1. A yellow and a pink arrow have been placed to show where the hook will be inserted from the back and from the front respectively in working the first bpdc after the slst
  2. Insert the hook at the back of the work in the next stitch such that it emerges at the front
  3. Reinsert the hook from front to back in the next stitch.  The hook will now be lying on top of a post
  4. Yarn over and draw a loop through, yarn over and draw hook through both loops on hook 
  5. At the end of the round, slst to the first bpdc of the round to join
  6. There will now be a circle of chains that has been pushed forward to form a ridge, and a new circle of chains at the top into which the next round will be worked

Hat:

This project is worked without turning.

From round 3 and every odd round thereafter, work bpdc for the entire round, slst to first bpdc to join round:

Round 1:  With main colour make a magic circle, ch2 (counts as first tc), work 13 tc into the circle, slst to the top of 2ch to join round [14]
Round 2:  Ch 2, tc into slst, work 2 tc into each of the next 13 st, slst to top of 2ch to join round [28]
Round 4:  Ch 3, dtc into slst, work 2 dtc into each of the next 27 st, slst to top of 3ch to join round [56]
Round 6:  Ch 3, 2 dtc into next st, (dtc, 2 dtc into next st) x 27, slst to top of 3ch to join round [84]
Round 8:  Ch 3, dtc, 2 dtc into next st, (2 dtc, 2 dtc into next st) x 27, slst to top of 3ch to join round [112]
Round 10:  Ch 3, dtc into each stitch round, slst to top of 3ch to join round [112]
Round 12:  Ch 3, 6 dtc, 2 dtc into next st, (7 dtc, 2 dtc into next st) x 13, slst to top of 3ch to join round [126]
Round 14:  Ch 3, 7 dtc, 2 dtc into next st, (8 dtc, 2 dtc into next st) x 13, slst to top of 3ch to join round [140]
Round 16:  Ch 3, dtc into each stitch round, slst to top of 3ch to join round [140]
Round 18:  Ch 2, 23tc, 6htc, 80dc, 6htc, 24tc, slst to top of 2ch to join round [140]
Round 20:  Ch 2, 25tc, 6htc, 74dc, 6htc, 28tc, slst to top of 2ch to join round [140]
Round 22:  Ch 2, 27tc, 6htc, 68dc, 6htc, 32tc, slst to top of 2ch to join round [140]
Round 24:  Ch 2, 5tc, 2 tc into next st, (9tc, 2 tc into next st) x 2, 3tc, 6htc, (2 dc into next st, 9dc) x6, 2 dc into next st, dc, 6htc, 2tc, (2 tc into next st, 9tc)x3, 2 tc into next st, 3tc, slst to top of 2ch to join round [154]
Round 26:  Ch 2, 9 tc, 2 tc into next st, (10 tc, 2 tc into next st) x 13, slst to top of 2ch to join round [168]
Round 28:  Ch 3, 10 dtc, 2 dtc into next st, (11 dtc, 2 dtc into next st) x 13, slst to top of 3ch to join round [182]
Round 30:  Ch 3, 11 dtc, 2 dtc into next st, (12 dtc, 2 dtc into next st) x 13, slst to top of 3ch to join round [196]
Round 32:  Ch 3, 12 dtc, 2 dtc into next st, (13 dtc, 2 dtc into next st) x 13, slst to top of 3ch to join round [210]

If you try the hat on now, you will find it is rather floppy.  If you would like a floppy-brimmed hat, continue working in dtc, if you prefer a more structured brim, work the remaining even rounds in tc, htc and dc as follows:
Round 34:  Ch 2, 13 tc, 2 tc into next st, (14 tc, 2 tc into next st) x 13, slst to top of 2ch to join round [224]
Round 36:  Ch 1, htc in each stitch round, slst to the 1ch to join round [224]
Round 38:  Ch 1, dc in each stitch round, slst to the 1ch to join round [224]
Round 39:  Slip stitch round with contrast yarn

Weave in loose ends.


Flowers:

My original intention was to make two flowers in the main yarn with constrast edging, but found I only had enough to make the small flower.  I made the larger flower in the contrast yarn as an after-thought, but I'm pretty pleased I did because it's turned out quite nicely!

Each flower is made by working a circle in continous rounds of dc.  In the fourth round, 5 loops are evenly spaced around the circle, then the fifth round fleshes out the loops into petals by working into the loops.


Small flower:

Round 1:  In main colour, ch 2 and work 5 dc into 2nd chain from hook (or work 5 dc into a magic circle)
Round 2:  2 dc into each st round [10]
Round 3:  (1 dc, inc) x 5 [15]
Round 4:  {dc, (slst into next st, ch 10, slst into the same stitch), dc} x 5
Round 5:  {slst into next dc, (work 2 htc, 14 tc, 2 htc into loop), slst into next dc} x 5
Round 6:  Slip stitch round with contrast yarn


Large flower:

Rounds 1-3:  In contrast colour, work first three rounds of small flower [15]
Round 4:  {dc, (slst into next st, ch 14, slst into the same stitch), dc} x 5
Round 5:  {slst into next dc, (work 3 htc, 22 tc, 3 htc into loop), slst into next dc} x 5
Round 6:  Slip stitch round with main yarn


Weave in loose ends and sew flowers in place.