Crochet an Octopus for a local neonatal unit

Beautiful Things has launched an octopus Crochet Along (CAL) following news of these little critters being used in neonatal units across Europe to aid the comfort and development of premature babies.

You can read all about it in this article in the Daily Mail http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-4167048/Hospitals-giving-premature-babies-cuddly-octopus-toys.html

Claire has launched he own campaign and has agreed to donate any octopi made and sent into BTHQ to the Neonatal unit at Broomfield hospital who are looking forward to receiving them.

If you would like to make an octopus please follow the instructions and pattern below and post to Beautiful Things, Unit 1 Ingrave Enterprise Centre, 8 Brentwood Road, Brentwood, Essex, CM13 3QH

The optimal size of the octopus is around 7-9 cm in length of the head and around 7-8 cm in head circumference. They shouldn’t be much bigger because of the limited space in the incubator. For the octopus to be the right size you should use a 3 or 3,5 mm hook and a cotton yarn the point is to make the octopus very tight so that the filling doesn’t come out when it is a bit stretched). They should be filled with polyester fibre that you can find in teddy bears or pillows and that can be washed at 60º C. The size of the head as well as the hardness of it is not as important as the length of the arms. For safety reasons the outstretched arm cannot exceed 22 cm.

If you can, please donate octopuses through your local “Octopus for a preemie” Facebook group –  so that the hospitals don’t have to deal with every person who wants to contribute, but most importantly, it guarantees that no octopus poses threat to the safety and health of vulnerable preemies as the groups check if every octopus meets all requirements. If you are making these for the Beautiful Things group then please send them to BTHQ and we will distribute them through the proper channels.

And this is the pattern for the octopus
Converted to UK terms

ch – chain
dc – double crochet
dc2tog – double crochet 2 stitches together (decrease)
sl st – slip stitch

inc – 2dc in one stitch (increase)

R1: 6 dc in a magic ring
R2: Inc (2 dc) in all st (12)
R3: Inc, dc – repeat x6 (18)
R4: Inc, dc, dc – repeat x6 (24)
R5: Inc, dc, dc, dc – repeat x6 (30)
R6: Inc, dc, dc, dc, dc – repeat x6 (36)
R7-14: 1 dc in all st (36)
R15: 4 dc, dc2tog – repeat x6 (30)
R16-17: 1 dc in all st (30)
R18: 3 dc, dc2tog – repeat x6 (24)
R19-20: 1 dc in all st (24)
R21: 2 dc, dc2 tog – repeat x6 (18)
R22: 1 dc in all st (18)
R23: 7 dc, dc2tog – repeat x2 (16)
R24: 1 dc in all st (16)
R25: Here you start the legs: *50 ch, turn and make 4 dc in each ch make a dc in 2 of the stitches around the base of the octopus head*.  Repeat 7 times so you get 8 arms. End with 1 sl st and cast off.

You may need to twizzle you legs round and round in an anti clockwise direction to get them to spiral properly. It is important that you keep the chain straight when you are doing your DC’s into it to stop the spiral twisting in the wrong direction.

If the outstretched arms are longer that 22 cm, make fewer chains to start.

The base of the octopus:

R1: 5 dc in a magic ring
R2: 2 dc in all st (10)
R3: inc, 1 dc – repeat x4 (15). Finish with a sl st and cast off. Weave in the ends.

Make eyes and embroider the face of your choosing.  (safety eyes and beads are not to be used, all faces must be made from cotton to comply with sterilisation requirements) Stuff and stitch the base to the bottom of the octopus and your lovely little creature is complete!

BTHQ Beautiful Pupils December 2016

I thought it would be nice to introduce you to a couple of our fabulous pupils.  During the month of December I have received 2 lovely emails from our clever crafters.

First up is Kim.  Kim has been to a few of our sewing classes during the year, but her last one was our lovely quilt as you go stocking.  As you can see she has gone on to make more.

kim sewing class testimonial

Hi Claire,
Following on from the Christmas stocking class, I thought you might like to see my efforts. I have made two more! I just wanted to say thank you for all your help and encouragement to get me sewing in 2016. I have definitely found a new hobby that I really enjoy. I look forward to learning some new skills in your classes during 2017!
Wishing you and your family a joyous Christmas  and a very happy, healthy new year.
Love Kim Gavan x

Next up is Karen who has taken our beginner and intermediate online crochet courses.  She has made these beautiful poncho sets

crochet classes left handed pupil essexcrochet poncho class essex

Hi Claire,
I just wanted to let you know and show you the results of me doing your online courses.  
I have really got the crocheting bug, having done sewing and knitting for years I have just picked up the crochet hook thanks to your courses.
Once I had finishes the courses I really wanted the poncho you were wearing but living in Colchester it was too far to come to your classes when I work so I found the pattern and you can see by the photos I went a bit mad…  making up gloves and wrist warmers to go with them.
Thanks again, Happy new year, Karen Hills
If you would like to feature on our new monthly posts then do get in touch, send us some pictures and a word or two and we will include you. You don’t have to have taken one of our classes necessarily but you could have been inspired by something we posted on social media.  We would love to welcome you into the BTHQ fold.
In the meantime, happy crafting!

On the Crochet Class Couch

As those of you who know me know I am extremely passionate about the way I teach crochet.  I have my thoughts on the best way to teach and why learning the theory is really really important.

Join me as I chat to Emma Dyos from JW3 PR about my passions, how and why I teach the way I do and why I try to discourage my pupils from ‘Running before they can walk’

This video will also help any of you who are maybe thinking about learning to crochet or need some help and support on an already existing journey to work out which of my learning opportunities is best for you.

So make yourself a cuppa, grab a biscuit and sit back for 20 minutes and enjoy a chat with me.

What is Kickstarter? & How can you help us?

You might have heard recently about our new Kickstarter campaign we are currently running to launch our Semi-Virtual crochet courses.
Semi virtual crochet course for beginners
I realise that a some of you are not necessarily familiar with what Kickstarter is so I’d like to talk about Kickstarter (and crowdfunding in general) to make it a little clearer for you to understand what we are doing and why we are doing it.
If you haven’t already, take a look at the Kickstarter website in general.  Perhaps open the link in a new tab or window so you can flick between it and this post as we talk you round the site— www.kickstarter.com
Opened it up? Good now………..When you hit the home page you’ll see a featured project in the middle, categories and types of projects on the right, and more recent projects further down.  “Projects” are the things that people are Kickstarting, or trying to raise money for.  (Our project is called Learn to Crochet the Easy Way) Kickstarter exists so that startups and even established businesses like us can raise funding from anybody who’s interested in their products and projects.  This is called “crowdfunding” – it’s open to anyone who wants to be involved.
So for an example of how it all works click the following link to see an example project we can talk to you about.
The campaign launchers want to raise $70,000, and as of when I wrote this post they’ve raised approximately $20,780
There are two twists with Kickstarter that make it different from normal money-raising and investing channels.  Check out the right-hand side of the Queen’s Bookshop page, and you’ll see a rewards area, which starts with “Pledge $10 or more.”
If you pledge to give them $10, you’ll receive in return the rewards listed underneath.  If you pledge $25, you’ll get the stuff in that box.  And so on, with the dollar amount going up for larger rewards.  So instead of just handing over money and hoping the product succeeds, you get something in return.  Your card is not charged until the project ends and hits its targets.
The other twist is that if a project doesn’t meet its funding goal, it doesn’t get any money.  So in this case, if the Queen’s Bookshop doesn’t get $70,000 in pledges, they don’t get anything. Even if they raise $69,999 the project will not fund.This protects you the pledger and helps ensure that the project is on the up-and-up.  You won’t get charged a penny but you also wont receive any goodies.
Kickstarter is owned by Amazon, which gives some reassurance.  And there has been some fantastic stories about how struggling businesses Kickstarted their project, got lots more money than they asked for, and got a whole new lease on (business) life.  A great example of this is the Kerfluffles marshmallow lady:
She asked for $2,023, and her backers gave her $104,667!  That’s a lot of marshmallows!
So for Beautiful Things and our Semi-Virtual Beginners Crochet kit, the idea is that a crowd (you!) will fund our project by pledging money and getting some great rewards in return, and also feel good that you’re helping to kickstart the kits into existence and make our awesome project a reality.  We hope you’ll participate in our Kickstarter campaign!
We only have 12 days to go and still need to raise pledges of just over £800 to fund our project.  Remember it’s an international project so we will post our kits and goodies WORLDWIDE.
If you do not need to learn to crochet there are still small pledges you can choose.  The smallest being only £1.  Just like facebook and other forms of social media, Kickstarter loves pledges.  The more we receive the higher we climb up their ranks to and they will share our project far and wide.  So go on, pledge to support us even if you only spare us £1 we will be super grateful.
Don’t want to pledge? That’s ok too, but please give our project a share amongst your friends and family and remember to show them this post too as not everyone ‘Gets’ Kickstarter.
Thank you in advance for all your pledges, likes, shares and general support, we really are very grateful.

Going on a roadtrip?

There’s a reason they call this little beauty the roadtrip scarf.  A few hours in a car/plane/bus (delete as appropriate) 1.5 balls of yarn and a crochet hook and Ta Da!!

roadtrip scarf crochet class essx
I love it.  The pattern is by Zooty Owl and can be found here.  There are loads of posts out there with tips for the edging  and close up videos of starting off, but it’s one of those patterns that once you’ve done the 1st few rows you are off.

Roadtrip scarf crochet stylecraft cascade

I used the new Cabaret yarn by Stylecraft.  My tension is quite loose so I did crack into a second ball but if you were tighter then I’m guessing you might get away with 1 if your lucky.

roadtrip scarf twinkly yarn

The colourway I chose was Rainbow but there are some beautiful colours available. I believe this yarn is quite hard to acquire now, I know when I was at Ally Pally back in October the Stylecraft stand was running low on most of them.

roadtrip scarf crochet flowers

The thing I loved most about this scarf was the lovely little flowers.  A simple pattern whipped up in minutes using a magic ring.   I’m adding them to almost everything I make at the moment!

claires roadtrip scaf

I’m thinking of running a crochet along at Crochet club next year for the roadtrip scarf.  Fancy joining us?

 

 

Rainbow Pom Pom blanket – ta da!

Don’t you just love it when you can finally reveal a blanket you have made as a gift?

This little beauty has been in the pipeline for some time.  I’ve been itching to make a baby blanket in rainbow and white but none of my friends would oblige me with said baby!  Finally my lovely friend Saz announced her pregnancy and my crochet hook stopped twitching.

crochet, rainbow, pom pom, stylecraft

I had already planned a rainbow blanket but when she said she could not decide between making a pink blanket or a rainbow blanket (she crochets, in fact I taught her) I did the kind thing and offered to make whatever she decided not to, so she could have both.

Thankfully she chose pink and so therefore the rainbow blanket could become a reality.

pom pom rainbow crochet blanket folded

I decided on a very simple join as you go with a spot of ribbing and then some scallops before adding teeny tiny pom poms all round the edge.  The colours are all from my stash, there is a little stylecraft in there a spot of pound stretcher purple and lime and a random king cole blue!  The white however is all stylecraft special DK as it’s a dream to join with.

pom pom edging

If you fancy adding teeny tiny pom poms to your blanket edges you can purchase the mini makers from our shop.

Hopefully in a few weeks I can pop back with a piccie of the wee jellybean all wrapped up in her blankie.

This post is my submission to the Deramores Craft Blog Competition 2015. Deramores is the UK’s number one online retailer of knitting and crochet supplies. Visit www.deramores.com for more details.