Free cat toy crochet pattern… upcycle and entertain your kitty at the same time.

Happy New Year!
I was hoping to make this post before Christmas, just to offer you all the chance to create a simple and fast crochet cat toy for your own kitty, but as usual life happens and I didn’t manage to do so.

I hope you will enjoy the pattern anyway and hopefully your furballs will enjoy it even more.

This is the final look of the cat toy:

To make your own you will need:

  • 4 mm crochet hook
  • scraps of DK yarn in 2 shades (A & B)
  • 1 toilet paper tube
  • 1 small organza bag (or small piece of light fabric tied up)
  • catnip
  • 1 small jingle bell (optional)
  • tapestry needle to weave the ends in

The toy is worked from the bottom up, in spiral rounds, so there is not join slip stitch at the end of each round.

Round 1: With colour A work 6 sc in the magic ring (6 scs)

Round 2: work 2 sc in each sc (12 scs)

Round 3: work *2 sc in the next sc, 1 sc* – repeat till the end of the round (18 scs)

Round 4: work *2 sc in the next sc, 2 sc* – repeat till the end of the round (24 scs)

Round 5: work *2 sc in the next sc, 3 sc* – repeat till the end of the round (30scs)

Round 6: work 1 sc in each sc in the back loop only (30 scs)

Round 7 & 8: work 1 sc in each sc (30 scs)

Round 9: Change to colour B ch 2, 1 hdc in each sc, (30 hdcs)

Round 10: Change to colour A, work 1 hdc in each hdc (30 hdcs)

Round 11 – 18 Repeat rounds 9 and 10 (total 10 rounds of hdcs)

Round 19 & 20: work 1 sc in each hdc (30 scs)

Round 21: work 1 sc in each sc in the back loop only

Round 22: work *2 sc tog in the next sc, 3 sc* repeat till the end of the round (24 scs)

Round 23: *2 sc tog in the next sc, 2sc* repeat till the end of the round (18 scs)

Fill the bag or the fabric with catnip and place it inside the paper tube

Round 24: *2 sc tog in the next sc, 1 sc* repeat till the end of the round (12 scs)

Round 25: 2 sc tog till the end of the round ( 6 scs)

Round 26: ch 30, cut the yarn leaving more or less 35 cm long tail (or enough for you to work a slip stitch into each chain) with the aid of the tapestry needle thread the yarn through the jingle bell, slip stitch in each ch stitch.

Secure the yarn tightening the center of the last round. weave the ends in.

This toy has been tested on all of our 5 cats… in particular Nimue and Romeo have really appreciated the tail of the toy with the jingle bell.

More wedding stuff!

So as I anticipated in my last post, this year I have been invited to four weddings!
It surely is exciting that so many people are in love and decided to get married, a little less thrilling is the fact that three of these wedding are concentrated within three weeks and are divided between two countries.

I am also maid of honour for two of the three, so I had my work cut out for myself. I already attended a wedding in April, in Rome and it was simply a delight; now I am preparing for a three week intense wedding attendance (first in line is tomorrow).

Two of the brides asked me to make them a personalised wedding ring pillows, and I gladly accepted.

Lisa’s wedding colour scheme is going to be lilac, Tiffany blue and silver. In my head it was something looking like this:

I considered my options and I decided that for her wedding ring pillow the best choice would be Lilac with a silver brooch. She will add a Tiffany blue ribbon when I give it to her. As Lisa likes simple, but pretty things I decided to use my most classic design. This is the result:

Once I finished it I was really pleased with it (and so far she is too, at least from the picture I sent her through Whatsapp). I can only hope that next week, when she will have to use it for the cerimony, she will still be.

Lisa has been a very close friend of mine since I was 7 years old, we really went through a lot together and since now I live in England and she is back in Italy, I didn’t have the chance to be there to help her through the preparations for her big day.

Moved by the desire to make something special and unexpected for her, I decided to also make her a bridal bag. Lisa does crochet and knitting as well, so I am pretty sure she will appreciate this kind of gift 🙂
I wanted something small enough not to bother her during the wedding, but at the same time big enough to store her phone and some other small objects.

There were many options of patterns out there, both on Ravelry and on other blogs, but nothing really spoke to me. After trying and failing, I decided to create something new and inspired by her.

This is what I called Lisa’s wedding bag. I used some Italian cotton I had in shade white and lavender, but Rico Design Crochet Essential Cotton DK white and violet would do just fine.

The bag is about 13.5 cm tall and 13 cm wide at the base. As you can see I also applied a little rose on the side which I found on the Lion Brand website as an embellishment for another bridal bag. If you want to make it you can find it here, just sign up for the Lion Bran website to access their stunning patterns.

I also had some beads, small little pearls that I thought could really add some extra spark to the bag. I used them at the end of the cord.

As I carried the two colour yarns along the inside really looked tidy, without many loose ends to weave in, but something was missing. A beautiful satin lining!

I am not seamstress, I can sew my crochet or knitting together, but sewing (by hand or with a sewing machine) is definitely not my trade.

[*Begin of a little digression on my private life. I was recently gifted a sewing machine by a wonderful lady who knew I wanted to learn, but at the moment I am still reading the manual and this project was definitely not one I wanted to sacrifice to the Gods of learning.*End of digression on my own private dreams and missing achievements*]

Luckily for me I am surrounded by very talented and skillful people, and this time it was Eve who came to the rescue. She not only lined the bag for me, but she also showed me how to do it (with the hope I could replicate it on my own on a different project).

The lining was the perfect final touch, it also gave the bag the support it needed. Thank you Eve!

The othe bride of mine *giggles* is Italian but now lives near me here in England. Having her close meant that I could be more involved in her wedding preparations.

She went for a more traditional colour scheme, Ivory and Red. A classic and fancy choice. Since I knew a little bit more about her choices for the venue and the wedding I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone and try to add some beading to my crochet. I took one of my wedding ring pillow design and I modified it a little so that I could place some pearls on the front. This is how it turned out.

I honestly cannot say who was the most excited, if the bride or me when I finished it. She has it already (hers is the first wedding of the September season) so I am positive she really liked it. [*Phew*]

As she saw the bag I made for Lisa’s big day she pulled out her best puppy eyes to me and asked me if I could make her another one in the colours of her wedding. One week more or less to her wedding and I took my crochet hook out and whipped out her own version of the bag.

This time I used thicker yarns (Sirdar Soukie gold dust, Patons Smoothie red, and some doubled Anchor Artiste Metallic silver) as she wanted those specific hues in her bag. I had to modify the pattern but I believe the result is beautiful nonetheless.

So today here I am, ironing the last bits of our dress and suit to start this wedding season. We start tomorrow and it will be a long and exciting September month.

If you liked my bag, keep an eye on my Ravelry shop page, the pattern for Lisa’s wedding bag will be published there soon 🙂 Simply Yarn on Ravelry.

*** UPDATE ***

The pattern to make your own Bridal bag  is available for digital download on Ravelry, click here.

Wedding time! .. No, not for me, do not panic!

We are in May and wedding season has officially started.

Both here in the Uk and back home in Italy from now till September will be the busiest period of the year for weddings.

I am not getting married (God knows I tried, but the boyfriend doesn’t hear from that ear) but on the other hand I was invited not to one, but to four weddings! I already attended first one in April. We were in the beautiful Rome and it was organised in a medieval village. Needless to say it was lovely.

The next three ones will all be in September, one will be here in the UK and the last two will be in Italy.

All this love and marriage fancy in the air was inspirational.

I decided to create something that would be traditional in the use, but a little unconventional in the look.

I chose to create a ring bearer pillow (or cushion, there seems not to be an international agreement on how to call it) with a crochet cover.

My first attempt was definitely close to a classic design:

I really loved the design, and it fitted perfectly the small satin pillow I had prepared. Thrilled by it I felt adventurous and I experimented with unusual colours. I tried a dark purple

and, yes, a little extreme, but I also tried black!

I am aware that those are bold colour choices, but I think they represent quite a good balance between classic and modern. I know there are few people out there who might choose to have a goth themed wedding that would go for something like this.

NOW… It was time to experiment with some different designs!
My little experience with my Christmas items helped a lot when I put down the pattern with this lacy one in Cadbury purple.

And my past experience at crochet doilies, allowed me to come up with this summer- inspired orange (maybe too full?) one:

I started feeling a little like a wedding crochet fairy ! Nothing could stop my creativity ! Another colour, another design! Why not try and combine two different sides together? To avoid making it look too weird, I decided to stick with a traditional rose pink.

I really enjoyed making these, and I am also considering publishing the patterns, but for now I will just see if anyone likes them as much as I do. So far I got two commissioned for friends and family, not too bad as a beginning!

They are available at my Etsy shop if you want one 🙂

Now … time to take out the hook and come up with matching wedding favours!

All the pillows, but the white one have been created with Rico Essentials Crochet.

Reminiscing of the past holidays.

Hello everyone. It has been some time since the last time I update the blog, I feel quite ashamed for it. Apologies.

Since I now live in the UK, Christmas has become the occasion when I push myself a little harder,travel back to my home country (Italy) and spend time with my family and the friends I left there, But despite how much you wish to do everything and see everyone, it seems you never have enough time in a day.
In addition this year I had a little additional problem to deal with… victim of the British icy cold mornings I fell at the beginning of December and I ended up like this.

and yes in case you are wondering I am left handed… I have to admit that having a splint didn’t prevent me from crochet, but knitting was out of the question.

The Christmas hanging decorations I was preparing took a backseat as I had to rush into making the last presents for my family. I am not going to lie, this year I thought I would end up not making them in time, but unexplicably I managed.

My first project was a set of two placemats for my cousing and her fiance. Since they always joke around being supporters of two different Italian football teams (Juventus and Milan A.C.) , I thought it would be nice to play on their playful rivalry. I hooked some Lily Sugar’n’Cream cotton in red, black and white and I set to work.

I love how they turned out and the button in the middle of the placemat, in the shape of a soccer ball really fit in nicely.

My other project was a special present for my brother. We share many passions, from computer games to music and comics. I decided that he deserved a mammoth project, like a blanket!

I scouted the internet for a suitable chart, I knew the present was going to be Super Mario (Nintendo) inspired, but I didn’t have a clear design in mind yet. I came across this pattern and chart on Ravelry and I knew it was the one Super Mario Mushroom Rug. I have nothing against granny squares, but I knew I wanted a more solid look for my squares. I eventually settled for this square pattern (only doing 3 rounds). And the crochet square marathon began..

As I landed in Italy (14th December) I was so far behind that I wanted to cry… I only had 20 white squares ready. For the next days there was no place I went that I didn’t bring my crochet with me. Eventually, the squares started to multiply.

For many many nights I didn’t hit the sack before 3 a.m. but I was determined, especially because as the squares took over, the blanket really started to take shape. It was exhilarating… for all the 180 squares I made.

A naughty little pink square tried to escape the pre-assembly picture, but it was put back into place soon after.

If preparing the squares took time, sewing them together was a task I seriously underestimated… yards and yards of whips stitches later… at 11 .a.m. of Christmas morning… the Mushroom blanket was ready.

Ok, after I finished I noticed I eventually had placed a pink square instead of a black one, but I thought it looked great anyway.

My brother was also very happy receiving it, and the little spark in his eyes (he will probably deny it was a tear) made all this huge effort worth it.

Pretty and big. If I had had more time I would have probably filled the edges with more black squares to make it more blanket like, and I also offered my brother to do so, but he said he loved it “just the way it was”.

This closes my (belated) Christmas posts. I know it sounds absurd, we are in February and we are already all immersed into Easter projects… but I really felt this projects and their stories deserved to be shared.

New exciting news (for me) coming up this year, so as soon as eveything is set up and running I will write about it.

I would love to see any of your family and friends projects, please share them below in the comments!

Christmas .. there is no better time to get hooked !

Hello everyone! First of all let me say I am sorry for the long silence.

Many things have happened since September that prevented me from posting in here; namely I lost my little gallbladder (not that I am sad it is gone, because lately it misbehaved creating me great discomfort to say the least).

I was away from the blog but I was not on rest from my crochet projects and my knitting needles.

This year Christmas has really creeped on me, and I am not proud to say I am falling behind making all the handmade presents I promised to family and friends.

In addition I will also be attending my first proper Christmas Craft Fair (exciting isn’t it?) this weekend and since my adventure as a crafter has just begun, I had to work hard to have something to display on the day.

I have now a few projects that I am happy to share wih you with the hope to inspire those of you who are still looking for ideas for gifts for family and friends.

I have to admit I fell in love with the idea of decorating Christmas baubles (side note: from a foreigner point of view I voted the word bauble as the most difficult to pronounce for year 2014).

I found many excellent ideas and pattern out there, these are a few:

I loved the pattern at first sight, and I was delighted to see the pattern creator made a VIDEO tutorial or us to follow.

As you can see I used unconventional colours (that’s my style) but I am sure any more tamed colour would work just as well. My version protrays Rico Essential Crochet in shades Purple, Light Green and Turquoise on a 2 mm hook.

As I know people might also want some sparkly Christmas ornament I scouted Ravelry and I went for this design:

For this one I was inspired by this Christmas Ornament by Susan M Allen that is on sale on Ravelry. I modified the pattern to fit my bauble which was made with Anchor Glitter in Silver shade and 2 mm hook. If you are in this sparkly traditional style I would seriously advise to browse her Ravelry Shop page as she really have many different designs available (click here to see her store page).

One more Christmas ornament decoration:

This also comes from a video tutorial made by the Crochet Crowd

I modified their pattern as I didn’t like the idea of cutting the yarn and restarting at the top of the loop (I am for more practical designs) especially since I used Grundl in Bronze shade with a 2 mm hook and metallic thread is a bit resistant to manipulations.

My last Christmas project for the day is a present for the daughter of friends (teenagers who love hand made yarn presents are the best). Her parents told me she was really into  Baby Groot for the movie Guardians of the Galaxy and asked me if I could make one for her. I also am in love with that little dancing twig,  have a look at it and I dare you not to find it cute.

I scouted the internet for help (it is not a immediate shape and construction) and I found this fantastic blog entry from Krawka crochet blog. Unfortunately I didn’t have any white pot and I had to improvise due to the limited time frame  I had before Christmas, but overall I am happy about my own version of Baby Groot.

Now I just need to polish the pot and send it over to a hopefully happy girl.

Next blog entry will be about crochet hanging decorations, I am still experimenting a bit with them so be patient, they will make an appearance as soon.

If you have any project to share I will be more than happy to see what you have been up to!

Crochet baby trainers, too cute not to make.

By now I think you all know that I love making baby inspired projects. The problem is I have no baby myself or around me. Since I relocated to the UK all my friends who are spawning little people are now in Italy.

Despite this, I still enjoy making little tiny things in the hope I will be able to gift them or sell them at some local craft event.

Recently I was smitten by this crochet pattern I found on Ravelry Crochet Baby Converse created by the talented Suzanne Resaul (she is also distributing the pattern for free, I love her!!).

I had some leftover cotton yarn (some Lily Sugar’n’ Cream and some Stylecraft Classique Cotton) so I decided to test the pattern. Since the two yarns have different weight, the shoes came out in two different sizes. I was left wondering which one would be the best fit for the tiny feet of a baby.

One day I was talking with my neighbour and she mentioned she had two very young (below 1 year old) great-granddaughters. I honestly jumped on the occasion and asked her if she was willing to check the size of a new project of mine on them. Bless her, she not only did that for me, but also loved these little shoes so much that she asked me to make two pairs for her great-granddaughters.

Weeeee another commissioned work for me!!

She asked for some yellow and pink shoes, so we chose the colours together and after the fantastic Wool Warehouse delivered me the new shade of Lily Sugar’n’Cream yarn I set to work.

These are my little crochet baby converse style shoes.

4 shoes

 I have to admit I am beyond happy about the outcome.

4 shoes 2

As I said before I used Lily Sugar’n’Cream cotton yarn in shades Ecru for the soles, Sunshine and Hot Pink.

yellow

pink

I have also prepared a kit for the items that I sell; it includes care labels (required by the Trading Standards) and some other information about the item.

Since the shoes are so small I really couldn’t saw the care label on them (they might irritate the baby’s feet), so I came up with an alternative positioning.

tags

I thought my neighbour would appreciate some wannabe professional packaging, so I also placed them in the cellophane bag I use to display my clothes on  sale.

Here they are, tagged and ready to be handed over.

packageI really hope many of you crochet lovers will try to make these as well, the pattern may be a little fiddly in a couple of points, but the result is too cute not to give it a go.

Purses, purses, and more purses (crochet and knitting).

My mom recently asked me to make her a small purse for her house keys that she could keep in her handbag. She requested something small, flat enough not to be bulky in the handbag and resistant enough so that it would not get ruined by the keys.

I decided I was going to make a small purse measuring 13 cm  x 8 cm, but I didn’t want to settle for a plain single crochet pattern. I love to learn new techniques and try my hand with new stitches. So I went online trying to find inspiration, and I discovered the Crochet Stitchionary and the Knitting Stitchionary.

I started scrolling through the website and I selected the one that I considered perfect for my project: a ribbed pattern using  the front post double crochet stitch. I used a 4 mm hook and Stylecraft Cotton Classique in red (the button comes from a recycle stash), the base is a 20 chain long foundation worked on both sides, and with one increase at each corner (44 sts). I worked 3 rounds in sc, then 1 round in dc and then I started the ribbed pattern.

This is how the purse looks like.

purse red

If you don’t know how to crochet a front post double crochet there is a fantastic video tutorial here. I also sewn the two side ribs together (1 st at the 2nd row from the bottom and 1 st after another 2 rows) to keep it flatter (and please my mom).

After finishing this project I realised I was really intrigued by all the other stitches I had seen on the Stitchionary… so I went back to it. The purse frenzy had begun.

Using again Stylecraft Cotton Classique in beige and a 4 mm hook I made this:

beige purse

This stitch is called Modified Sedge Stitch (tutorial here) and it usually requires to turn the work. I modified it, as I worked it in round (same number of stitches as the red purse), and I love how it turned out.

The third purse caused me a little headache… I chose to use the Uneven Berry Stitch because it is simply lovely. I made the purse in Stylecraft Cotton Classique in ivory and I tried to modify it in order to work it in round. My purse turned out to be wobbly and bumpy. See below, and judge yourself.

white purse

Unsatisfied with the result (I think I have a mild case of OCD) I hooked on another one in yellow (sunflower), this time following diligently the instructions (Uneven Berry Stitch tutorial here). It paid off, since after making the two panel and sewing them together, I got this:

yellow

After all these successful attempts I felt confident enough to attempt even a bigger project…. I wanted to turn a granny spiral potholder into a satchel purse!

I selected my shades for the spiral (green, seville, beige) and set to work. After the spiral was completed I had to improvise a little .. I mixed rounds of sc, hdc, sc in the lower row… I honestly tried to write down some instructions (after I had finished it) but it was confusing also to me. Maybe this is meant to be a unique item… or maybe on my next try, I will write down some notes as I work it.

green1

green2

After all these crocheted purses,  I felt the need to knit something.

I had done a fully knitted Satchel Mini Purse (see my previous post here) that I loved, but I was eager to try and mix a crochet base with a knitted bag. I am not even trying to hide the fact that at the moment I am obsessed with this plum color…

So for this bag I made a simple base of 6 sc in magic ring increasing until I got 60 sts. Then I picked up 60 sts with my 4 needles and I worked the Simple Grill pattern alternating plum and white. Again, since I like working in round, I had to modify the instructions to fit with my technique. You can find the basic tutorial for the Simple Grill pattern here.

ribbed

I was so happy with the result that I hooked/casted on another one. I had so many different shades of Stylecraft Cotton Classique that I just had to experiment and enjoy the ride.

This purse is really simple, but I love the way it turned out. It is an Autumn color scheme, really warm and soothing. Again I made a crochet base (6 sc in magic ring, then increase each round until I got 60 sts), I picked up the stitches on my 4 knitting needles and I knitted it in round alternating the colors. I made a ribbed edge to hide the cord, but this time I turned it outwards so that the opening for the cord is in the front.

beige1

beige2

 Ta-dah! This is what kept me occupied in the last weeks… if you have any question about some of the purses or if you want to share some of your creations I will be delighted to see what you came up with.

Happy knitting /crochet!