Balloon Bunny Wreath

My latest wreath is a first birthday gift for a very special someone.  As always the wreath started with lots and lots of stripes of single crochet, this time all in sky blue colours.  Having learnt my lesson from the number of ends generated by the uniformly narrow stripes on my Moorland Wreath I reverted back to random width stripes.  This did make the sewing together easier but this being my first 30cm wreath in while I had forgotten just quite how long the strip needed to be to go around alllllllllll that wreath base. I did need the bigger base though as I had big plans for what to dangle inside it!

This was who I had in mind!  A little floppy eared bunny hanging onto a bunch of brightly coloured balloons.  I am going to confess that I entirely made him up as I went along and so it is not possible to share a pattern.

Having made 5 of the balloons I do know how I did those so they may well crop up somewhere again but the bunny is likely to remain one of a kind.

As soon as I finished using waxed linen thread to sew the bunch of balloons to the bunny’s hand one Sunday morning I knew I wanted to try and get a photo of him drifting off into the blue sky.  Of course I was forgetting that I live in Yorkshire and it is February! But there was the odd break in the cloud and I think he looks pretty cool.  I love to see when people share behind the scenes shots of their photography so here’s mine.  You can just about spot the bun dangling between the swings.  You might also notice the step ladder has sunk into the grass because its February and a bit soggy.

 

I thought we might have been done at that point, with the bunny and the blue sky, but after looking at him hanging on the wall for a while I decided he needed clouds as well.  So I packed my crochet hook and a ball of white yarn as we set of to my lovely motherinlaw’s for our Sunday dinner and as everyone else tucked into their eve’s pudding and custard I started on a blobby white cloud.  By bedtime there were 4 of them stitched to the base and the wreath was ready for a final photograph this morning and to be gifted this afternoon. Talk about last minute!

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Yarn Along

On my kindle The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon. Off my hook and onto my sewing needle a new wreath cover.

I only started this book this morning and am heading in trepidatiously.  I did not enjoy Everything Everything at all, mainly due to seeing the “massive twist” coming from the first chapter.  But I did like Nicola Yoon’s writing style, The Sun is Also a Star is highly rated on Goodreads and I like the sound of the story as well as fitting into the Read Harder challenge so I am giving it a try.

This wreath cover is destined to be a first birthday present for a very special someone and I am excited to start work on the embellishments.  This is the first time I have worked on a 30cm base in a while and I forgot just quite how much longer the strip of stripy single crochet needed to be than the more reasonable amount required for a 23cm wreath. But I now have almost a metre of stripes and the sewing on can begin with the exciting creative bit just around the corner!

Linking up with Ginny and the other Yarn Alongers sharing what they are reading and working on.

Weekly Photo – Traffic

One of the things I would like to work on in 2017 is my photography. I am joining in for my fifth week with Nana Cathy and Wild Daffodil‘s weekly photo challenge.

This week’s one word prompt is Traffic.

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I have taken each of my other weekly photos so far without leaving the village but there is not much in the way of traffic around here and so I took a short trip into Tadcaster.

This solitary car and pair of pedestrians may not look like a lot of traffic but it is very exciting traffic.

Due to damage caused by flooding and high river levels in December 2015 the bridge in the foreground, across the River Wharfe, collapsed and has been closed for the last year.  The bridge reconstruction work is now complete and the bridge reopened to traffic just 2 weeks ago.

So on Saturday I drove to Tadcaster, and across the bridge, and set out to photograph the traffic, all the while thinking how lovely it is to see people able to drive from one side to the other of a town which has been divided by a river for over a year.

Swaledale Sheep Pattern

So things got a little crazy around here after Lucy shared my Moorland Wreath on her blog Attic24 as part of her Moorland CAL.  And a large proportion of the visitors here have been asking how to make their own sheep like the one sitting proudly in my wreath.  Here I will attempt to help you with this!

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This lovely Swaledale sheep is part of a a friend’s flock and posed beautifully for me when I asked if I could take her photo.

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This is what my sheep looks like.  She is roughly 10cm long and 8cm tall giving her plenty of room to sit inside a 23cm wreath but gauge isn’t hugely important when making a decorative item of this nature and I am sure that small size variations will have very little impact on her fabulousness!

To make my sheep I used four shades of DK weight yarn.  I used Stylecraft Special DK as it is affordable, comes in a huge range of colours and doesn’t squeak like some acrylic yarn does.  I used Cream for her main body, Black for her head, Granite for her horns and Walnut for the embroidered details on her face.  I didn’t calculate yardage but it is small.  Really small.  If you could use stash yarn for this project that would be perfect, if you buy especially to make this expect to have the majority of the ball left over.

I also used

  • A 4mm crochet hook
  • Double Pointed Needles – mine are 2.5mm but size isn’t vitally important here I think anywhere between a 2mm and 3.5mm would work well.
  • A needle to sew it together
  • Scissors
  • A stitch marker – this isn’t an essential item but the head is made in a continuous spiral and without a marker to show you the beginning of the round there will be a lot of precise counting. You could also use a piece of scrap yarn in a contrasting colour.
  • Something to stuff your sheep with. You could use toy stuffing, bits of an old pillow, ugly yarn, whatever you have to hand.  Mine used around a hand full.

These are the stitches you will need

  • chain (ch)
  • single crochet (sc) known as double crochet in UK terms.  Hook through stitch, yarn over, pull through stitch (2 loops on hook), yarn over, pull through both loops
  • 2sc – make 2 single crochet into the same stitch
  • invisible single crochet two together (invsc2tog). Insert hook in to front loop only of first stitch, insert into front loop only of next stitch (3 loops on hook), yarn over, pull through first 2 loops (2 loops on hook), yarn over, pull through both loops
  • half double crochet (hdc) – yarn over, hook through stitch, yarn over, pull through (3 loops on hook), yarn over, pull through all 3 loops

The pattern is made of 3 distinct parts.  The body, head and horns.

The Body

The pattern for the body is very heavily influenced by Attic24‘s sheep pattern.  It isn’t the same but the concept for this flat shape turning into a 3D body is most definitely borrowed and so rather than replicate Lucy’s work of step by step photos if you find yourself in need of clarification it would be well worth a trip over to her pattern here.

So to begin, using your cream coloured yarn, chain 36

Row 1. Starting in the second chain from the hook make one single crochet in each stitch. Chain 1. Turn. (35 stitches)

Rows 2. – 5. Single crochet in each stitch across. Chain 1. Turn (35 stitches)

Row 6. Single crochet in the first 30 stitches leaving the last 5 unworked. Chain 1. Turn (30 stitches)

Row 7. Single crochet in the next 25 stitches leaving the last 5 unworked. Chain 1. Turn (25 stitches)

Rows 8. – 19. Single crochet in each stitch.  Chain 1. Turn (25 stitches)

Row 20. Single crochet in each stitch across. Chain 6

Row 21. Starting in the second chain from the hook make 1 single crochet in each of the 5 chains and then single crochet in each stitch across. Chain 6

Row 22. Starting in the second chain from the hook make 1 single crochet in each of the 5 chains and then single crochet in each stitch across. Chain 1. Turn.

Rows 23. – 25. Single crochet in each stitch across.  Chain 1. Turn. (35 stitches)

Row 26. Single crochet in each stitch across.  Fasten off leaving a long tail for sewing up (35 stitches)

You should have this shape.  The large bit in the middle will be the body and the little sticking out bits will be the legs. At this point you don’t have a right side and a wrong side but you will once you start sewing the legs so lay it down flat and the side facing you will be the wrong side.

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Start on the leg with your most recent yarn tail and fold it up so that the two long edges come together. Sew these two edges together securely. Then repeat for the other three legs making sure that you are folding them each the same way so that once they are done you will have 4 seams facing you with the body laid flat.

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Fold the body in half with the right sides together, that is with your leg seams facing outwards.  Then sew the short edges together as shown in this photo

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It should now be starting to look a lot like a sheep with a body and 4 legs.  Turn it inside out so that the sewing you’ve just done is not visible and lightly stuff. It will now need one more row of stitches as you sew up along the belly. It is probably worth putting a couple of stitches in between the legs just to strengthen then close up the gap sealing the stuffing inside.  It won’t be especially stable but your sheep body should stand up on her legs if you arrange them to distribute the weight.

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The Head

The head of the sheep is made amigurumi style, that is in one continuous spiral.  I put a stitch marker in the first stitch of a round to show me when I have completed the circle without having to rely on keeping count.

In this section wherever there are instructions *enclosed by asterisks* repeat those stitches until you reach the end of the round.

In black yarn Start by making 6 single crochet (sc) in a magic loop. (I like this tutorial if this is new to you)

Round 1. Make 2 single crochet into each stitch (12 stitches)

Round 2. *Single crochet into the first stitch, 2 single crochet into the next stitch*  (18 stitches)

Rounds 3. – 6. Single crochet in each stitch (18 stitches)

Switch to cream yarn

Round 7. Single crochet in each stitch (18 stitches)

Round 8. *sc, invsc2tog* (12 stitches)

This is the point to put the stuffing in the head before you totally close up the hole.  Loosely stuff.  You are aiming for a squashy ovoid rather than a sphere so make sure not to fill it too full.

Round 9. invsc2tog all the way round (6 stitches)

Now break off your yarn leaving a long tail and thread onto a needle.  Use this to weave in and out of the 6 reminding stitches and then pull tight to drawstring the hole closed.  If it’s not as tidy as you would like make another stitch or so and then push the needle in through the base of the head where you have just finished off and out roughly in the middle of the back of the head.

The place where you changed colour will be noticeable as a step change, as shown in my photograph.  If you make this the back of the head not will not be visible when the sheep is sewn together.

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Next you need to make 2 little ears in cream yarn.

Chain 3.  In the second chain from your hook make a single crochet. In the last chain make a half double crochet (hdc), Fasten off leaving a long tail for sewing in.  Weave in your end from your starting chain and use the other tail to stitch the ears on to each side of the head just below the halfway point.

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The Horns

The horns are knitted as I find working tubes of crochet this small to be headache inducingly fiddly but they are very simple to make. This technique is known as I-cord and apparently the I stands for idiot because it is an idiot proof technique! You will need to make two of these and I made them in dark grey.

On your double pointed needle (dpn) cast on 3 stitches. Then knit these 3 stitches to the other needle. This is where things change from usual knitting. Do not turn your needle! You will have 3 stitches on your needle with the working yarn at the left hand side. Slide these stitches down towards the point on the right end of your needle

Now knit these stitches from right to left as normal pulling the working yarn behind your work to get it to the righthand side to use it. Your stitches will then be on your second needle, slide them down to the right and bringing the working yarn from the left behind the work to use knit again. Keep knitting these 3 stitches until you have an i-cord measuring 6cm long. Then cast off and make another one. If I haven’t explained this clearly enough then youtube has lots of good tutorials if you search “knit an i-cord”

These little tubes should have enough rigidity to stay where you want them when you curl them round. Your cast off end should be the pointier of the two so thread the end of your yarn onto a needle and push it down inside the tube to weave in the end. If it is long enough to bring out of the side of the i-cord then cut it close to your knitting and the end should spring inside and be hidden. You can use your tail end from cast on to sew the horn to the head above the ears.

The horns will need to you to tightly curl them into the distinctive shape of sheep horns and will spring back slightly when released but should stay curled.

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Once you have added the ears and horns your sheep needs a face embroidering. I used a brown coloured yarn for this.  Put the eyes in the black area of the head and a nose an mouse on the cream area.

Assembly

All you need to do now is sew the head on to one end of the body of your sheep and add in the long hair.  You may find the details on my Woolly Bully Pattern useful when it comes to making your sheep hairy.  There are photos of how I add hair there.

Then she will be ready to put in a wreath, gift to a sheep loving friend or display on a shelf!

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I only make creatures as decorative items to brighten my home. If you wanted to make this sheep as a toy for a child then you will need to take full responsibility for the safety of your creation as this pattern was not designed to be played with.

I will be happy to answer any questions about the pattern.

You are welcome to use this pattern to make items for your personal use but please do not reproduce it anywhere or claim it as your design. This applies to my photographs as well as the written pattern.

Copyright ©2017 I Am Branching Out.

Yarn Along

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On my kindle Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence.  On my hook lots of sheep parts!

This week’s Yarn Along is all about struggle. I am struggling with both this pattern and this book.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover is my book for challenge number 16 (Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country) of Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge and I’m finding it rather slow going and a bit of an uphill battle.  However it transpires that the UK is not as big on banning books as many other countries and so there wasn’t a huge range to chose from for this challenge.  And so I plod along refusing to be beaten!

I am also finding writing this sheep pattern to be tougher than I imagined.  When I made my first sheep to go in my Moorland Wreath I sailed along happily making it up as I went along and jotting a few notes down.  As I have gone to translate those notes to a pattern I am finding that there are rows missing, inconsistencies and the notes don’t make a sheep like the one I already have. It’s all very frustrating.

Stubborn as I am I will be continuing with both endeavours until I am able to tick the book from my challenge list and write up the pattern but I am not having as much fun this week as I like to with my reading and creating.  Fingers crossed next week works out better for me!

Linking up with Ginny and the other Yarn Alongers sharing what they are reading and working on.

Weekly Photo – Fence

One of the things I would like to work on in 2017 is my photography. I am joining in for my fourth week with Nana Cathy and Wild Daffodil‘s weekly photo challenge.

This week’s one word prompt is Fence.

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I live in the countryside surrounded by farmland and there are a lot of not especially effective fences around!  This one, at the edge of a garden in the village, is my favourite falling down fence.