Das Gierige Krokodil entdeckt Dresden

Today the greedy crocodile decided to explore Dresden a little bit, while helping out on a photoshoot with some of his felted pals.

Croc and baby croc enjoying the sunshine in the Neustadt

The croc getting in the picture

First he went down to the banks of the Elbe to check out the view of Dresden and the Augustbrücke, a la Bellotto.

The croc admiring the view to the west

Next he wandered over the Augustusbrücke towards the Altstadt, stopping on the way to admire the view to the west, in the direction of Meissen. I love the light coming off the river here.

Don’t jump!

He leaned over the edge to look into the river…

Face on the Augustusbrücke

and noticed this face on the bridge – visible to boats going under the bridge, but not really to people on top.!

Mini Scott monument

He passed by this blackened gothic thingy (I’m sorry, I don’t know what it is! I will look next time I go past). It reminds me of a miniature Scott Monument.

We are in Germany after all!

Then he headed for some shade and some refreshment!

The Arctic Tern

I am very gradually (very, very gradually) working my way through the fauna of Shetland in needle felted form. I am officially addicted to Shetland ponies, almost completely because of Frances Taylor’s blog ShetlandPonyEverything (as I seem to remember saying before!). I will continue to make these fantastic little beasts – next up is a rolling Shetland pony, showing off a nice round tum.

 

But as well as stabbing wool I also enjoy spinning it. Having finally knitted this yarn into a beret, I wanted something to jazz it up.

Lupin and Haar, Shetland wool tops from Jamiesons, spun on my drop spindle. Suitable for 5mm needles, my perfect yarn for berets.

The name of the blue yarn is haar, which is a sea mist, and this colour is a lovely bright sky blue with trails of misty lights threading through it. So I thought, why not a bird pin? The Arctic Tern is a very distinctive and beautiful bird, suitable for making in miniature. Apparently it is called a Tirrick in the Shetland dialect (anyone care to correct me/elaborate?)I don’t have any of my own photos of Arctic Terns (I’ve never seen any here in Dresden, funnily enough), so you’ll have to google them. They are stunning! Their wings and tails are the most amazing shape, so elegant.

And here it is

It is the first bird I have made, and I am very pleased with the result (though as usual my photos are rubbish, for which I apologise). Although it is small it has come out very well – it’s very firm, and has quite a lot of detail, and plenty of shape. Unfortunately I don’t think it works very well as a hat embellishment. I have attached a brooch back, though I quite like the idea of it hovering over my desk.. I am at work experimenting with a clay base and wire.

I am also making a larger version… but it might take a while. I’m not even doing the feathers individually – only some of them, and I am BORED NOW!! I already had a huge amount of respect for Mel of FeltMeUpDesigns – how she gets the patience to do all these lovely little feathers I don’t know! It’s definitely worth the effort (please go to her Flickr page and take a look at her amazing owls). But the smaller bird was very satisfying to make, and more will be coming!

And, by the way, I recently found this fascinating website

http://www.shetlanddialect.org.uk/

well worth a browse! I myself will be rummaging rather than browsing.

 

 

 

New Wool!!! From ColouritGreen in Devon

Today the postman brought me a present – some wool from ColouritGreen in Devon.

Look at the green envelope!!

I love CiG’s wool* because:

-it is lovely wool – little bit coarse, little bit soft, lovely for needle felting, good for spinning – everything you could wish for in your wool;

– CiG dyes it fantastic colours – some are commercial dyes, and some are natural. My mediaevalist’s imagination will never ceast to be captured by the idea of woad, and the fact that there are still people living on Dartmoor growing and using their own woad – well, it’s just quite exciting;

– the wool comes from CiG’s own few Devon Closewool sheep on her smallholding, so it fulfils any kindness to animals issues you might think of (and their are some in wool production), and ticks all sustainability and environmental boxes;

for some reason these curls make me think Morgana… after all, everyone knows the Arthurian legends are based in the South West of England (no matter what the Scottish may claim…)

– CiG and her sheep live on Dartmoor, in Devon, very close to the place I myself come from. And although I have left England and would not choose to live on Dartmoor myself, that doesn’t mean I don’t value it greatly for its clean winds, beautiful landscapes, soft water, stone age villages, amazing plants, very old twisted trees, extreme weather conditions, interesting geology, myths, monsters, lovely ponies, the sea – the list is endless (in fact, if you haven’t been there, you should. Though you should also take a look at Exmoor, which is smaller but in many ways superior…).

Dartmoor: image from Wikipedia

CiG can be found on her own website (well worth a browse)

on Etsy

and on Folksy

And a while ago I wrote about ColouritGreen on this blog as part of a series about wool (a series which I haven’t finished… it’s having a ‘break’…!)

*CiG does have a real name, I believe – but I always think of her as CiG. That’s the power of good branding…

Wonders of Wool 3 – featuring FeltByGina – never Felt so good….

Hand felted pink rose brooch by FeltbyGina

… alright, that was a bad pun. But I am excited, because this week I am plunging myself heart and soul into the excitement and soapy water of making felt!

I suppose I have to say something about ‘felting’ versus ‘fulling’ – some people will get very aerated about the precise difference between the two. I am happy to be sloppy about meanings: people often say they they’ve ‘felted their favourite jumper in the washing machine by accident’, when (some would say) they really mean they’ve fulled it. But their meaning is clear – they’ve shrunk it and slightly mishapen it. So if you feel the need to understand the difference, here is a good place to begin! And I reserve the right to use the two terms interchangeably at will 🙂

I have experimented extensively with the art of felting knitted wool*. First it was just a case of shrinking my husband’s favourite and expensive jumpers in the washing machine, then it became a way of creating a whole new fabric, stronger and denser. I knit a beret, for example (using slightly larger needles than I would if it wasn’t going to be shrunk in hot water), then abuse it for ten or twenty minutes in water as hot as my little hands can bear it, and soap. And voila – a lovely thick, draught-free hat, with the delicate patterning of the knit stitch. This fulled wool also makes a really good base for needle felting a decoration 🙂

My new hat
My own beret – made for me, by me, out of lovely Shetland wool

I have never, however, tried making felt out of unspun wool. It has always been a little bit of a mystery to me. I understand how felting works (locking together the little platelets on the surface of the hairs with heat and friction, like a pantene advert gone horribly wrong), but the actual mechanics of how people do it in their kitchens has remained hidden to me. And as time goes on I have gradually become more and more interested in this ancient and arcane (to me) art….

But now the scales have been removed from my eyes! Thanks to Gina of Felt by Gina, I now have all the knowledge I need to create wonderful and elaborate pieces of art, clothing, tents….

  (fulling for you pedants)*

So here is Gina’s tutorial on how to make a Ruffle Scarf:

                                                                                                                                          

Before I begin, a disclaimer.  I am about as far removed from an expert felter as it gets, so this is how I make my scarves… not necessarily the correct way that a hand felted ruffle scarf should be made but a way that works for me and looks very pretty.

Firstly, gather together your felting equipment, and your fibre.

Here is my very important towel, my bamboo mat, net curtain, mild washing up liquid, and extra water bottle. Put a small amount of liquid in the empty water bottle and then top it up with hot water from the tap.

Here is my fibre.  Today I’m working with black merino fibre and a multi-coloured merino/tencel mix.

I lay out my working space as follows:

Towel  (because I always use too much water and don’t plan to wash my floor as well.)

Bamboo mat  (in my case, a roller blind without the hardware)

Netting (net curtain cut to size)

Then I start laying out my fibre.  First the centre of the scarf.  

Notice that the fibre tufts run in the same direction, all the length of the mat and net, all face the same way and overlap slightly.

Repeat this for the whole of the length of the scarf.  Try to make your scarf longer than you anticipate your finished scarf being because felt shrinks as you make it.  How much it shrinks will depend very much on the type of fibre that you use (merino or bluefaced leicester is best for next to skin as it is soft) and also what colour it has been dyed.

This little picture is my black fibre all laid out.  It’s possible to make edges neater, although cutting the fibre isn’t recommended because wispy bits felt together better than blunt ones.  I go for a more organic look, though.  Don’t worry about where my fibre bumps over the blind – there won’t be a lump in the finished scarf.

Next to lay out the edge, which will hopefully finish with a ruffled effect once it has been felted. To achieve the ruffled look, you want the centre of your scarf to felt more quickly than the edges so that there is excess fibre at the edges to crinkle into the ruffled look.  This is why you lay out the centre in the direction that you will eventually roll the scarf – because the fibre shrinks fastest in the direction that it is rolled.  It is also true that when fibre is laid more densely it will shrink faster but if you lay a very dense scarf then it won’t drape and wrap appropriately.

Lay the edge fibre at right angles to your centre piece.

Because I like my ruffles to be thinner and have a more ‘cobweb felt’ effect, I lay fine wisps of fibre and build up the layers.

Move along the scarf, laying your fibre in the same way all along the edge.

I’ve decided on a two tone edge. But you could do it the same colour as your centre piece if you wanted to.

The edges are a bit tricker because you still want them to ruffle if possible.  I haven’t played with effects, so far,  regarding the way that the fibre faces, but I usually stick to laying it at an angle as I go around the corners and then lay more fibre at an angle to cover the middle gap where the fibres could run the same way as the centre piece.

Laying my fibre out for this scarf took about 40 – 60 minutes because pulling the fine wisps to build up the coloured edge can be quite time consuming.  But it is worth it.  Anyway, now it’s time to felt.  The fun part.

Take another piece of net, the same size as the piece that you scarf is laid out on and cover your fibres with it.  You might be happier asking another person to help you to do this because you want to avoid disturbing your fibres but you can do it very gently on your own if you are careful and don’t try to rush.

The next stage is to take your bottle of warm soapy water and, placing your hand on your fibre to hold it down, pour the water over your hand so that it trickles onto the fibre without displacing it.  You need to repeat this all over your scarf and then it should look like this.

There is quite a lot of discussion in felting circles about not getting the fibre too wet – you want it to have some friction and latch together (think tangled, knotty hair after you’ve washed it – it’s the same process) but not enough water that the fibres float straight past each other.  This is why I lay a towel down first – excess water is soaked up and leaves me one less thing to worry about getting right.  Too much soap is also not great so that’s why you only need a dash, maybe 2 or 3ml in the bottom.  Imagine that you are washing up, not that you are filling the bottle.  Smooth out any wrinkles that have developed as best as you can, but go gently.  The fibre is harder to disturb now that it is wet, but the felting process hasn’t yet started so they aren’t stuck together.

If this were to be a flat felted piece, I would rub the felt to start the felted and get the fibres to mesh, but when I am making a scarf I go straight to the more gentle rolling. Because I have a piece of my scarf stuck out over the edge of my mat, I have to fold it in so that it is included in each roll.

This shows it folded in and the whole piece was wetted down first  to allow me to lift it and fold without the fibre moving around too much.

Now to gently roll the fibre sandwich up in the mat.  Think overgrown swiss roll.

Okay.  The rolling is one of the more controversial aspects of felt making, if such an inclusive and enabling world could ever be controversial.  Many people say that at this stage, you should tie your roll in a bundle and ensure that it undergoes a complete revolution so that each area of the felt is rolled on evenly.  There are also discussions on the best method to roll – wrapped in bubble wrap?  Round a pool noodle?  I just use what I have to hand, and the blind and net are it.  I also have limited space where I felt as it is my kitchen work surface so I probably on do partial revolutions – I roll backwards and forwards, allowing the roll to open at the end slightly each time – so, as I pull the roll backwards towards myself, I leave the first layer of mat open on the surface, and rolling away from myself closes it back up.

There is no magic amount of rolls.  Probably for a beginner, or if you don’t know how fast your fibre wil felt, do a maximum of 100 rolls in the first stretch.  Then unroll your mat, unfold your net is you’ve had to fold it up like I did, and check your fibre.  It might have started to stick to your net a little, especially if you’ve used quite an open weave, but gently peel off your net and separate the fibre as you go.  It should all felt in fine.

 Once you’ve checked it all, cover it back up and get to work rolling again.  You might want to do batches of 100 rolls and checks in between up to about 500 or 600 rolls.  Yes, this is a work out for your upper arms.  Bingo wings be gone. :o)  For your own comfort, try to roll with your palms flat on the mat and don’t make the motion with your fingers, wrists or elbows – try to do it from your shoulders.  Also, stand as comfortably as you can.

After 500 or 600 rolls, try the pinch test.  This is where you pinch the fibres and lift them slightly.  If the whole piece lifts, then you’re nearly there, but if little fibres lift on their own, then you aren’t.

Here you can just about see that individual fibres lifted.  Pat them back down and cover back over with your net.

You need to flip your scarf so that both sides get rolled.  If you haven’t got help for this, then pull one else to the other and concertina fold it until you can reach the underneath end – I take the right side of my net covered scarf to fold over the left and then pull the left side to the right to do my flipping.  If this is done fairly gently, it won’t shift.

Roll some more – aim for an even number of rolls each side, checking frequently in between, still. 

Another pinch test will be called for.


You can just about see here that one pinch is now able to lift the entire piece.  This is just what you want to happen.  It means that your loose wool fibres have become an enmeshed piece of felt.  If you have concerns that your scarf isn’t holding together as you would like, cover it back up, make sure it is still quite damp and either continue rolling it or soap up your hands and give it a good rub all over for 10 minutes or so.

Once you are happy, gather your scarf together.  It is time to shock the fibres so that they do their final tightening.

Your piece should gather this easily.

Shocking can be done several ways.  Throwing the piece will shock it and induce the final shrinkage, or a rinse in hot water, followed by cold water will do the same.  Many people don’t throw their scarves because they like them to remain delicate.  I like to do a few gentle throws, though.  If you are experimenting with a piece of flat felt, try throwing it quite hard to full it – the amount of shrinkage that this can cause can be amazing.

I follow up with a hot rinse, cold rinse, sometimes a second hot rinse and finally a luke warm rinse.  Then I part fill a bowl with tepid water, add a glug of lemon juice and leave my piece to have a 20 minute soak or so.  The acid in the lemon juice just counteracts any soap left the fibre that could contribute to any damage to the fibre in the coming years.  Some people use white vinegar, but lemon juice is a much less smelly option.  Some felt makers also leave out this step.  If you choose to do a lemon juice or vinegar soak, rinse your piece out for a final time and lay it out to look at your ruffles.

I lay mine out a clean towel.  You can also play with the appearance of the felt at this stage while it is still damp – so you could gently tease your ruffles apart if any have stuck a little bit together during the final stages.  Now find somewhere for it to dry.

Once dry, it should look something like this.

And, at the end of everything, I just want to reassure you that mistakes in felt aren’t mistakes.  They are either experience, or design features.  If your scarf hasn’t turned out the way you thought, or expected, or wanted, that’s okay.  There’s more fibre in the world, make another one – it should be easier now you’ve had a play.  And the scarf that you thought went wrong… what’s wrong with it?  Too thick?  Well… you were always making a table runner, right? Too holey?  Look up ‘cobweb felt’, you’ll be surprised in the massive variations in style.  If it’s beyond repair, cut it up and use it for something else.  Or send it to me.  I can’t bear to see good felt go to waste!

                                                                                                                                                  

And if you like the finished article, here it is in Gina’s Etsy shop. Her blog is worth a visit too – she’s got a nice turn of phrase 🙂

Easter Chicks – Tutorial

My urge to knit small furry animals has continued… as has my urge to share it!

Here is a pattern for these cute little baby chicks. They can be used either as babies in a nest with chocolate eggs, or as hanging decorations for some easter branches.

Tools
Yarn: yellow and thin (4ply, dk); small amount of orange yarn for feet and beak; small amount of black or brown yarn for eyes; 3.25mm needles; darning needle; stuffing.

Skills
cast on, cast off, moss stitch, seam sewing

Abbreviations 
k – knit; p – purl; st – stitch; inc.1 – increase 1(knit into front and back of same stitch); dec – decrease; k2tog – knit 2 stitches together; psso – slip 1 stitch, knit 1 stitch, pass slipped stitch over the knitted stitch

Explanations
Moss stitch – *k1, p1* repeat from * to * across row. Next row, *p1, k1* repeat from * to * across row.


Cast on 3
K 2 rows
Next row: inc. 1, k1, inc. 1 (5 sts)
K 4 rows
Next row: k2tog, k1, k2tog (3 sts)
k6 rows
Next row: inc.1, k1, inc.1 (5 sts) 
K 4 rows
Next row: k2tog, k1, k2tog (3 sts)
K2 rows
Cast off


Sew side seams, and turn inside out. Stuffing this small tube is quite fiddly! But at least it’s small. When it is stuffed, sew the bottom seam.
Then, to make the head, tie a piece of yellow yarn around the middle of the chick where the decreases are, and pull it tight. Tie into a double knot, and thread the ends through the middle of the body to hide them before cutting.


Wings (make 2)
Cast on 3
K 1 rows
Next row: k1, k2tog
K 1 row
Cast off


The wing tips will be pointing slightly in one direction. Position the wing onto the body so that the cast on edge is lined up with the neck of the chick, and the wing tip is pointing backwards (you have to decide which is the front of your chick first). Sew the wing firmly onto the body across the cast on edge, and thread the cast off yarn through the wing up to the neck. Then pull the ends through the body and cut.


Face and Feet
Stitch the feet using a long piece of orange yarn. It only takes a couple of vertical stitches at the bottom of the bird. Then thread the yarn through the body to where the beak will be. A couple of horizontal stitches will make a beak. Then thread the yarn through the body again, and cut it.
Use black or brown thread for the eyes, and make just one stitch, pulled tight. Thread the ends through the body and cut.


To use as a hanging decoration, simply thread some cotton or embroidery silk through the top of the chick’s head (it’s ok, it doesn’t hurt!)

Tutorial – Knitting a mini Easter Bunny

Here is the pattern for my mini Easter bunnies. I find them very easy, but of course I would, as it came out of my head. As they contain short rows, however, I expect they are at an intermediate – advanced level of knitting ability (which of course means knitting-pattern-reading-ability!).

I’ve tried to explain short rows here, and I’d love feedback on how well I’ve done it! If it’s just too complicated, then ignore the insertion of short rows for the bottom, and knit a straight standing bunny 🙂

I haven’t put any demonstration photos into this pattern, but it is very similar to this teddy pattern, and you can see some photos there.

Tools
Yarn: 4 ply, double knit, sport weight, sock – anything fairly thin!; small amount of contrast yarn for features; small amount of pink yarn for a flower; small amount of white yarn for tail; 3.25mm needles; darning needle; stuffing.

Skills
cast on, cast off, knit, purl, stocking stitch,moss stitch, seam sewing, short rows

Abbreviations 
k – knit; p – purl; st – stitch; inc.1 – increase 1(knit into front and back of same stitch); dec – decrease; k2tog – knit 2 stitches together; psso – slip 1 stitch, knit 1 stitch, pass slipped stitch over the knitted stitch

Explanations
stocking stitch – *knit 1 row, purl 1 row* repeat. All of the body of this bunny is in stocking stitch, so “k x rows” means “k x rows in stocking stitch”

Moss stitch – *k1, p1* repeat from * to * across row. Next row, *p1, k1* repeat from * to * across row.

Short rows – a short row is formed of two rows inserted into a row of knitting without knitting to the end of the row. Turning before the row is finished leaves a hole, so to avoid this you wrap the stitch: on a knit row, bring yarn forward, slip next st onto right hand needle, turn work, slip the st you just slipped back onto the right hand needle, bring yarn forward again, continue the purl row. On a purl row, take yarn back, slip next st onto right hand needle, turn work, slip the st you just slipped back onto the right hand needle, take yarn back again, continue the knit row.

Knitting the Body of the Bunny

The bunny is knitted in one piece in stocking stitch, then folded in half and sewn together.

Legs

Cast on 5 sts

K 5 rows. Cut the yarn and leave the leg on one needle.

on the other needle, cast on 5 sts

K 5 rows: the two legs will now be on the same needle

Bottom and Back

K across 10 leg sts (use cut end as well as working yarn for two sts at join)

Next row: (increase for bottom and insert short rows) k3, inc. 1 in each of next 4 sts (14 sts), k1, wrap next st and turn, k to 2nd st from end, wrap and turn.This makes 1 short row: repeat procedure, inserting short rows up to 3rd stitch from end, 4th stitch from end etc, until you have reached 6th stitch from end. Once you have inserted a short row at the 6th st from the end, k to the end of the row.

Next row: k3, k2tog across next 4 sts, k3 (10sts)

k 1 row

Arms

Turn, cast on 3 sts.

K 1 row, turn, cast on 3 sts (16 sts)

K 1 more row

Turn, cast off 3 sts.

K to the end of the row, turn, cast off 3 sts (10 sts)

Head

K 16 rows (8 for the back of the head, 8 for the face)

Arms

Turn, cast on 3 sts.

K 1 row, turn, cast on 3 sts (16 sts)

K 1 more row

Turn, cast off 3 sts.

K to the end of the row, turn, cast off 3 sts (10 sts)

Tummy

Next row: k 4, inc.1 in next st, k to end of row

K 2 rows

Next row: k4, k2tog, k to end of row

Legs

K 5 rows on first 5 sts, leaving remaining 5 sts on needle. Cast off.

K 5 rows on remaining 5 sts. Cast off.

Making up the Bunny

Fold the bunny in half lengthways.

Sew the side seams from the corners of the foot around the arm and to the ear. Then sew the inside leg edges together, leaving a hole to stuff the bunny through his crotch.

Turn the bunny inside out, making sure that the ends of the yarn at the inside leg are on the outside – so that you can sew the hole up when the bunny is stuffed. First fill the head with enough stuffing so that the head is round. Thread a piece of yarn through a middle stitch on the the same level as the shoulders.

Thread the yarn all the way around the neck and pull tight, until the head is round and the arms lift up slightly.Tie a double knot. Next stuff the arms, then the tummy and finally the legs. When the bunny is nice and fat (especially his nice round bottom), sew up the hole and tie a double knot. Hide the ends by threading them through the body.

Moss Stitch Ears

Knitted completely in moss stitch. Make two.

Cast on 5 sts,K 14 rows

Next row: psso, k 1, k2tog (3 sts)K 1 rowK1, k2tog

Cast off

Sew the ears together at the bottom, then sew them onto the head. Hide the ends by threading them through the body. The ears will slant slightly in one direction at the top, due to the decreases. This is intentional, make sure they are slanting outwards when you sew them to the head.

Tail

Cast on 2 sts

Next row: inc. 1 in each st (4 sts)

Next row: inc. 1 in each st (8 sts)K1 row

Next row: k2tog across row (4 sts)Next row: k2tof across row (2 sts)

Next row: cast offSew the four sides of this little piece of knitting together, and it will form a little ball. Sew it firmly to the bunny’s bottom. Hide the ends by threading them through the body.

Face

Using the contrast yarn, sew a nose and some eyes. The nose should be halfway across the face widthways, and a little lower than halfway down lengthways.

Flower

Using pink yarn, sew several stitches beside one ear, leaving a short loop each time you pull the yarn through. These loops form the petals. When you have sewn enough, hide the ends by threading them through the body.


Tutorial – How to knit a teeny teddy

These little bears are very easy to make, and can be made using any yarn and needles. Just make sure you choose needles that are slightly smaller than recommended for the yarn. The bears in these photos were made using 3.25mm needles, and are about 5cm tall. Thicker yarn will make a larger bear!


Terms and Abbreviations
k – knit
st – stitch 
garter stitch – knit every row





Knitting the Bear
The bear is knitted in one piece in garter stitch, then folded in half and sewn together.
Legs
Cast on 4 sts 
k 6 rows. Cut the yarn and leave the leg on one needle.
On the same needle, cast on 4 sts
k 6 rows: the two legs will now be on the same needle


Tummy
K across 8 leg sts (use cut end as well as working yarn for two sts at join) 
k 4 rows 
Arms
Turn, cast on 4 sts. 
K 1 row, turn, cast on 4 sts (16 sts)
K 3 more rows 
Turn, cast off 4 sts.
K to the end of the row, turn, cast off 4 sts (8 sts)


Head
K 16 rows (8 for his face, 8 for the back of his head)
Arms
Turn, cast on 4 sts. 
K 1 row, turn, cast on 4 sts (16 sts) 
K 3 more rows
Turn, cast off 4 sts. 
K to the end of the row, turn, cast off 4 sts (8 sts)
Tummy
K 4 rows
Legs
K 6 rows on 4 sts, leaving remaining 4 sts on needle. Cast off.
K 6 rows on remaining 4 sts. Cast off.


Making up the Bear
Fold the bear in half lengthways.


Sew the side seams from the corners of the foot around the arm and to the ear. Then sew the inside leg edges together, leaving a hole to stuff the teddy through his crotch.


Turn the bear inside out, making sure that the ends of the yarn at the inside leg are on the outside – so that you can sew the hole up when the bear is stuffed. First fill the head with enough stuffing so that the head is round. Thread a piece of yarn through a middle stitch on the the same level as the shoulders. 


Thread the yarn all the way around the neck and pull tight, until the head is round and the arms lift up slightly.
Tie a double knot.

Next stuff the arms, then the tummy and finally the legs. When the teddy is nice and fat, sew up the hole and tie a double knot.

The Bear’s Face
The next stage is the most difficult, and also the stage allowing you most artistic licence. This is where the magic will happen that makes your teddy bear an individual.
Make the teddy’s ears by pulling the corners of the head out a little and sewing a piece of yarn firmly through a few times, leaving a little dimple. 



Now choose which side of the head will be the front – and use a darker piece of yarn to make a face. Here are some instructions – but you will doubtless find your own way of stitching a face.

Select a stitch which is in the middle of the bear’s face widthways, and slightly lower than the middle lengthways. Leaving a long tail, thread from right to left through the stitch several times, until you have a nose.

Thread the yarn underneath the nose stitches in the middle of the nose, and down through the head to come out at a stitch that will be the bottom of the mouth. Then take the thread back down through the same place in the nose. Then take it through the head to the come out at the side of the mouth.


Put the needle back in at the mouth-bottom, and then repeat for the other side of the mouth. Now you have a nose, and a nice little smile. Thread the yarn from the bottom of the mouth through the teddy to where you would like the eye to be.


Usually a teddy’s eyes are fairly close to the nose and fairly small. Make a couple of stitches, until the eye is the right size, then take the yarn through the head to the other eye. It is a good idea to count the stitches between the nose and the first eye and make sure the second eye the same distance away. Make sure the stitches are not too loose, and also not too tight or the stitches will disappear.


When you have finished all the stitching, hide the ends by threading them through the bear, pulling them tight, and cutting the end off – so that a long end will remain hidden inside the bear.


And now you have a perfect little bear! 


Ready knitted teeny weeny bears are available in my shopThis pattern will be available in a kit forms soon, with handspun yarn, stuffing and needles 🙂


My thanks to the test knitters!:




Chocolate Beetroot Cake

This cake is delicious, easy, keeps well, and best of all, you can eat loads without feeling like you’ve just gorged on chocolate.

Chocolate Beetroot Cake

75g cocoa powder or powdered drinking chocolate
180g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
250g caster sugar
250g cooked beetroot
3 large eggs
200ml sunflower oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
icing sugar, for dusting (walnuts  go quite nicely in or on top of the cake too)

Heat the oven to 180c/gas mark 4 and lightly butter a 20cm/8″ cake tin. Sift the coca powder, flour and baking powder into a bowl then mix in the sugar. Set these dry ingredients aside. Puree the beetroot in a food processor. Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla and oil, and whizz until smooth.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, then add the beetroot mixture and mix lightly. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin.
Bake for 50-60 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean (cover with a loose sheet of foil if it starts to brown by about 30 mins). This cake will not rise a great deal, and the top will crack. (In a muffin tray they take 15-30 mins).

It goes very well with fondant icing. It is moist, but also pretty crumbly, so watch out for squashed cake on the floor 🙂

No photos, as I haven’t got a cake on me at the moment! Imagine something rich, and brown.

Recipe courtesy of a newspaper several years ago… I’m sorry I have no idea which one, but if this is your recipe please tell me!