Friday, 22 June 2012

Crochet bear baby gift

We spend more of our time in work than almost anywhere else, so when you have good people around you it really does make life easier.

Today, we said a temporary good bye to a very good person to have around you, as our friend (and colleague) Jen left to have her baby. It only seems about 5 minutes since she announced her pregnancy, but yet here we are, 6 months later and there's only two weeks before the little one arrives.

We did a collection, and really splashed out on some lovely things. But some of us also got our own little gifts, and I wanted to use my new found crochet skills to create something special.

Until now I had been crocheting from patterns I found on the Internet, but I recently bought a book of crochet - Cute & Easy Crochet by Nicki Trench. I got it from our work drop from The Book People for the absolute bargain price of £4, and had a flick through almost every day planning projects.

The bear pattern really stood out, and even though it was in the section with the highest level of difficulty, I had a good feeling about it, as the pattern looked fairly simple.

As Jen doesn't know the sex of her baby, I decided a neutral colour was the way to go, and really thought that a cream bear would be very lovely, so I got some nice soft double knit wool from Leeds Market, and off I went.

Bear was constructed in two main sections for body and head, stuffing each before the crochet is finished. Eyes are added before the head is stuffed, and I bought a bag of safety eyes from Hobbycraft rather than stitching eyes on. The ears were stitched as four individual pieces. Each ear was assembled by double crocheting two pieces together, and then stitching onto the head with more wool (I used the loose ends to do this rather than cut fresh wool). Here is the body and head, once the ears had been assembled:

You can see his little face starting to take shape here, but to complete his personality, he needed a nose and a mouth. My other hobbies helped here. I like to embroider, but also in the past have had a go at making teddy bears. This was during the phase my Mum went through of making jointed teddy bears, and I used one of her books to make a couple of very simple non-jointed mini-bears out of some offcuts of mohair she had left. Anyway, the point is that as part of this crafting I learnt how to embroider noses and mouths on bears. This came in very handy as I free styled this little guy's face. After embroidering the expression on, I drew the thread through his head to come out where the head will be stitched onto the body, so I could tie a knot, and hide it in the join. You can just see the thread hanging down under the head in this picture of his finished face:

Once his head was finished, all that was left was to stitch him together. I had already crocheted 4 arms and legs. This was actually quite tricky. The trouble was that after the bit of instruction for the paw, the leg/arm bit was just left to the crocheter to complete and keep going until the limb was 12cm long. So it was quite tricky to match them up. In the end I tried to match the arms and legs to be fairly even and as luck would have it ended up with two that were slightly thinner and longer (used for arms) than the other two (used for legs).

Then I just had to position the limbs on his body and stitch! I finished him off with a fetching green bow (baby neutral again!), and he was ready to meet Jen and her bump!

I was a little bit sad to see him go, but I know that Jen's little one will be the best parent for him in the future! (And I might make one of my own!)

Diamond Jubilations!

Sorry I'm late! Meant to post this earlier in the month, but hadn't got the pictures uploaded! Anyway...

I love the Royal Family. So I really enjoyed the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. However, somehow, I managed to not really do anything for it, despite organising a street party being the kind of thing that's right up my street. As it were!

My boyfriend, Andy, on the other hand, is not that fussed about anything like the jubilee or the royal wedding last year, or generally anything royal (other than the Duchess of Cambridge). So imagine how unfair I felt it was when he rang me one day to tell me he'd been invited to the jubilee lunch! He is currently doing an MSc Surface and Polymer Science and Technology, and is lucky enough to have secured a bursary from the Dyers Association. So, as the theme of the lunch was "youth" (and despite him being 30 years "young") he was invited as he is one of the students they sponsor. (The other invitees were also from University and 6th form classes).

So last Monday, we drove down to Reading to stay with some of my family so the train to London was at a reasonable hour. By reasonable, I mean 7am on a bank holiday tuesday. Joy! (More of that in a moment).

On Monday we spent the evening watching the Jubilee concert on TV, which was the point at which I suddenly decided that I needed to do something for the jubilee. As luck would have it, it turned out there was a beacon on a church about 10 minutes walk from where we were staying, so we had a quick walk down there at about 10.20pm.

Unfortunately I missed the moment of the lighting, but there were lots of people down there celebrating and they were projecting the concert onto the wall of the church tower, so we joined in singing along to Paul McCartney and watching the fireworks in London. (If you look closely on the picture above you can see Sir Paul on the screen!).

Then it was home to bed for the early start in the morning. The other half was pretending not to be excited, but as you can see from the picture, he really did enjoy himself very much.
The early start was 6am - so Andy could get beautified and dressed, and then I drove him to the station to get a train to meet the others at Dyers' Hall. There was a very nice moment for Andy on the train when some toffee nosed posh bloke informed him snootily that he was off to St Paul's for the service with the royal family - not something folk like Andy get to do apparently. Imagine the poor man's face as Andy politely told him that actually, he was off to lunch at Westminster Hall later! Priceless I would imagine.

This picture was sent to me in a text shortly after they arrived at Westminster Hall:

The lunch itself was some salmon to start, followed by lamb stuffed with mutton shoulder, and a trio of desserts (bread and butter pudding, chocolate delice and some berries). It turned out that Andy was sat at the table directly behind the Queen, so when the Royal Family left the building you could see him quite clearly on the TV as they walked past. Apparently Prince William accidentally brushed past one of the girls on the other half's table, and apologised ever so politely - sending her into semi-hysterics! Bless her.

At the end when they left, they were told they were free to take table decorations if they wished, so the other half grabbed the nearest one for his Gran. They just happened to be the ones from Her Majesty the Queen's table, which might explain just how chuffed Granny looks in this picture we took when we delivered them to her!

I am well known for my love of souvenirs, but I managed to resist most things I saw (although I'm regretting this in a couple of cases!). In the end I went for a lovely mug from Cath Kidston, as I thought it went perfectly with the Coronation mug I have inherited early from my Gran. I think they look fab together:

Here's to many more years your Majesty!