Thursday, 10 November 2016

Winter Projects

The two projects I am supposed to be working on, Angus's blanket and my cross stitch sampler (both pictured above), have been firmly pushed to one side and will no doubt languish in the basket by my chair for some weeks now. All kinds of other projects have elbowed their way to the front of the queue, some for gifts, some for me, some just because I fancied making them.

First the gifts. Bella and Angus have requested more animals from the excellent Edward's Menagerie and I am more than happy to oblige. Angus has requested the chimpanzee...

and Bella the koala.

So far all I've done is buy the yarn, but I need to get going on these to prevent a pre-Christmas panic. I am in that denial phase, where the thought of making two whole toys from scratch in six weeks seems overwhelmingly impossible. But I know that as soon as I pick up the hook and make an arm, and then another, and then a leg, they will be done in no time. 

I've been working on a second pair of socks, and swapped that super expensive yarn for something cheaper but still soft and a gorgeous colour. So far I have made two toes. 

No, I'm not exactly tearing through that gift  list, am I? It's becuase I've been distracted by more cross stitched napkins. I know, I made loads last summer, I don't need any more. But I really wanted to make some Christmas ones, something a bit special that would be pulled out once a year for Christmas lunch and maybe Christmas Eve and Boxing Day too at a push.

So far I've stitched a tree and a robin. The tree pattern is adapted from one I found in the book Embroidery Companion, while the pattern for the robin is one I made using an image from the computer and some graph paper. 

He's pretty cute, isn't he?

I also made myself a hat using this great pattern from Annaboo's House with a ball of super chunky yarn and a 9 mm hook. The pattern suggest Drops Andes but I used this brand as the website was out of stock of lots of Drops Andes shades when I ordered, although annoyingly they seem to have them back in now. The hat was made in a couple of hours and is as easy and fast a make as the pattern promises. Also - pompoms! I bought myself a pompom maker. How did I not know about these? Hours of fun.

You want to see the hat on, don't you?

So, crochet socks - I've been doing a lot of research! Crochet is has less elastic or stretch than knitted socks, I have learnt, but the ones I made are not hard to get on or off and they have a good amount of stretch in them. But as bed socks, they are slightly oversized and looser than normal, every day socks would be. It seems that crochet uses more yarn and makes a thicker fabric than knitting. This is great for items like blankets and scarves, but not so good for socks and clothes. In crocheted clothes, especially, the added chunkiness isn't what anyone wants around their midrift, so patterns for oversized tops and jumpers work well, or ones that show off an open, lace work style of crochet. I'm not sure where that leaves us crocheters with socks, but I suspect the secret to a good comfortable pair of crocheted socks is to use a very small hook and thinner yarn, to create a small and even stitch texture. Thank you very much for the patterns you recommended in your comments before. I looked at and bookmarked all of them. Through Instagram, I discovered Vicki Brown and her crochet sock collection. I think the "pop socks" look particularly promising as an everyday ankle sock kind of pattern. I will aim to make a pair this winter and then wear them a lot, and feed back to you all on how I get on. 

Thank you also for your words of encouragement regarding knitting. A lot of you said don't give up, it's not that hard. I know that really. It's not knitting, it's me.

Joining in with my friend Jennifer's Winter Project Link Party.


  1. What a lovely roundup of projects, I really enjoyed seeing them all. I love them all of course, particularly the robin and the chimpanzee. If knitting is not for you, don't knit. Better to enjoy the crafts you do than trying to master one that doesn't appeal to you. Have a lovely Friday and a fantastic weekend. x

  2. How nice to see everything you're working on, Gillian. I think your robin came out really good. I often do the same thing with pictures, translating them to stitch patterns. Actually, P recently showed me a program that can do it on the computer. I don't know where he found it, but it's free and it does a pretty good job. I should find out and blog about it sometime. He made me a decent hot-air balloon design from a photo and I stitched it as a gift for someone. Anyway, your projects are looking like a lot of fun and I'm so glad to hear that the socks are working well for you because they are just terrific. Thanks for joining in with my link party. :)

  3. Love those napkins. You have reminded me that I got some of that dissolvable stuff and I haven't got around to using it yet, shame on me. Love the koala. Drops Lima is a fantastic yarn, I made a blanket from it a while back and it's scrumptiously warm and lovely. I shall look forward to seeing them finished, it looks like a brilliant book. Love the idea of crochet animals rather than knitted, I always balk at the idea of tiny bodies on four needles, but crochet sounds like a much better plan. CJ xx

  4. I've had my eye on Winston the aardvark for some time - I think it's from the same book. I love your choice of animals - will we be allowed a pre-Christmas sneaky peek?! Your napkins are lovely and you look adorable in your new hat. So many gorgeous projects - you're in a very happy crafty place right now. xx

  5. You are beautiful, and the hat suits you very well! I would like to wear more hats in winter, but I always end up looking extremely daft and ugly in them, plus my already flat hair gets even flatter. Therefore, I only wear them when I know I'll be out for hours and can head home afterwards where nobody sees me :-)

    I am sure Bella and Angus will love their chimpanzee and koala. What I love most in this post is the cross-stiched robin - how sweet is that!

  6. Autumn just embraces new projects, doesn't it?! I find I always get a rush of yarn-related ideas as the evenings start so early. It all looks so good but time is ticking by...maybe you need to give up all housework to concentrate on crochet - hmm, now there's a thought... 🤔

  7. You're certainly busy. Hope you get those gorgeous crochet animals done on time for the kids & the napkins are cute. We used to have a TV add over here with a koala whose name was Gavin.(giggle). The hat is such a lovely shape & really suits you. Best of luck with all those craft projects & take care.

  8. Hello, I'm new to your blog and I think it's fab. I crochet a lot, blankets, scarves, shawls and I love making socks. I use the survivial sock pattern. I'm on my fifth pair at the moment. I specifically use sock yarn and a 3mm hook and the sizes come up just fine. xx

    1. I've just downloaded the survival socks pattern - thank you so much for the tip!

      Gillian x

  9. You have so many lovely projects! I've seen patterns for crochet socks in Kat Goldin's book but they're for kids. I'm sure the sizes can be adjusted. Do tell us how you get on with crocheting socks. Double pointed knitting needles scare me too and it would be good to have a crochet option for making them. x

  10. I love the knitted and sewed animals that you make for your children. I remember the rabbit that you sewed a couple years ago - so adorable!

  11. It's no good,I have resisted the Edwards Menagerie book for ages but no longer - perhaps it could go on my Christmas list?! Your napkins are beautiful and I shall be interested to follow your link to crocheted socks. I have finally mastered knitted socks but would like to try some crochet ones - once the multitude of Christmas projects are completed........

  12. Your hat looks adorable on you!! Yes...totally agree about the crochet socks. Mon Petit Violon has posted a few pretty ones I am tempted to try but knitting them is fab. I have no idea how you fit in the multitude of projects you have on the go. Wonder Woman!

  13. Pompom makers are the best thing. Ever. Until you rashly promise to make a pompom rug for your off spring and realise you need 90 pompoms!

    Love the hat!

  14. Such creativity, Gillian! I love your hat (and the photo of you). And I love that stitched robin. Socks and hat would be great for you know what :-) Thank you! Have a super weekend. Sam x

  15. Everything is gorgeous, but I think my favourite is the napkins. I remember the ones you made in the summer, they were perfect, as are the christmas versions. Cool hat too! Suits you. I have mever tried to crochet socks, though I have several sad, partially knitted socks stuffed into various cupboards. Perhaps one day I will actually finish one! Or even two, and have a pair! X

  16. Looks like you've got lots of busy days ahead of you! I love the koala pattern, Bella made a good choice :)

  17. You look super cosy in your new makes! I can see why the monkey and koala were chosen how cute are they?
    Lisa x

  18. I used to knit animals as a kid. Your post took me back to my childhood!

  19. That is one super speedy hat and it looks fab on you too!

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