Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Crochet Bee for sale but how much should I charge?

One of our best selling items is this little bee. I thought it would be interesting to work out exactly what it costs to make. So I have carefully weighed and costed all of the materials.

Yarn used = Rico essentials cotton dk.             55 pence
Pair of yellow eyes from Cello Express           32 pence
Toy stuffing from Habbyboy                            4.6 pence

Total for materials                                            91.6 pence

Time to make a whole bee = 41 minutes so let us assume that we should earn at least £6 per hour and the thing took 40 minutes, just to make the sums easier. Then the time costs are about £4.

So it would seem we should sell these little bees for about £5 ( or if you want to be picky about £4.91)

There are some things I should add:
1. We CE test our toys and so we always choose materials that are safe and have the relevant certificates
( for those in the know all the materials above have an EN71-3 certificate ).So there are cheaper materials available but who would want to sell toys for babies and children that are not safe? The time taken for testing and the fact that the tested toy is not saleable have not been included in this calculation. Neither have the compulsory CE labels at 16p each.

2. The minimum wage is higher than I have used but we can put in a lot more hours since we work from home and so bring our pay up to the living wage standard, and we really enjoy what we are doing (most of the time)

3. It is also true that both of us are highly skilled ( and modest ) and so would expect a better wage.

4. I have not included the cost of a pitch at a craft fair or the petrol to get there or even a wage for working all day selling the work..

5. When it comes to selling your handmade items you can try to sell them for what they are really worth but will probably not make many/any sales.

What do we sell the little bee for? Answer £3.50
Lynn and Victoria

Friday, 29 April 2016

How to make a bag to keep your yarn tidy. Free instructions

I keep most of my wool upstairs but I keep my current yarn like this. As I am making rainbow granny squares at the moment I need lots of colours but when you rummage about the balls unwind and you get a mess.

Here is a quick idea for making life easier. It is based on our free adjustable bag pattern. ( look in the free patterns section above) I used t-shirt yarn and a 12mm hook for the base with a 10mm hook for the sides (to give them stiffness).

Throughout this pattern use dc instead of the tr  recommended in the bag pattern.
Make the base of the bag pattern using the 12mm hook, just keep going until the base is about 30cm in diameter. TIP if the base starts to go frilly do a row with no increases. If the edges start to curl up put a few more increases in the next row.

When you are happy with the diameter of the base change to the smaller hook and work a row in the back loops only for one row. During this row decrease 4 times - once at the start, once a quarter of the way round, once half way round and once three quarters of the way round. You decrease by dc 2tog  and it really isn't critical exactly where .

 Work rows of dc until the wall of the bag is about 15cm tall. Count your stitches and divide this number by 2 eg stitch count 60 divide by 2 answer is 30. Take away 10 answer is 20 ( this is the number of dc between handles). The numbers here are only examples yours will probably be different because they depend on how big you decide to make your bag.

Handle row : using the example numbers 20dc chain 30  miss 10 stitches, 20dc, ch30 miss 10 stitches. dc in first dc of this round. The red numbers will change according to the number of stitches you have.

I can hear people saying but I've got an odd number of stitches. So here is an example of what to do; number of stitches 61, take away 1 = 60, divide by 2 = 30, take away 10=20. Now you work the handle row as above but in one of the miss 10 stitches you miss 11 stitches and nobody will ever notice.
Last row. work 1dc in each dc and approximately 35 dc around the chain handles.

It seems an odd thing to tell you approximately in a pattern, but T-shirt yarn is never a nice uniform thickness and sometimes you will need a few more or a few less stitches to fill the handles nicely. You can see this in the handles of the blue bag, I didn't do enough dc and so you can see the underlying chain.

Tidy up any ends and then fill your bags with delicious yarn ( this is stylecraft special dk)

You can see the colours easily, the tension caused by the slight stretch of the bag prevents any unwinding and the longer handles mean you can hang the bag out of the way - I am going to make more - different heights for different size balls.

The green bag is made from shop bought tarn whereas the blue one is made from our worn out t-shirts. It is funny that the blue bag is made from recycled materials and so is green whereas the green bag isn't.
Lynn and Victoria.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Crochet wraps the World

After researching mandalas last time I came across this lovely free pattern for a queen mandala CAL.

Already 13 weeks of instructions have been published and I think the plan is to end at week 17. I am on week 8 and my mandala is 90cm across. I am using Stylecraft special DK but you can buy packs of really beautiful cotton on the site.

The pattern is published in at least three languages that I know of and one of the best things about doing this is feeling that you are crocheting with the rest of the world. You can look at the lovely mandalas made by cocheters all over the world by following the link above.
I have never done one of these global projects before but I am really enjoying it and still learning new techniques and ideas after nearly 60 years as a crocheter. I don't think Vicky would be too pleased if I gave the impression that she has been crocheting for 60 years but it did occur to me that we will soon have 100 years of crocheting experience between us. I think we should have a party .
Lynn and Victoria.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Doily or Mandala a Crochet Dilemna

When reading this, bear in mind that I am not in the first flush of youth which may account for my confusion.
My Grandma and my Mum crocheted doilies for all sorts of reasons but I remember them under plates holding lovely homemade cakes and scones. As I look around the internet I notice the trend is to crochet mandalas - my question what is the difference?

Look at the next 7 pictures which are mandalas and which are doilies?


Seems easy but look this is a lovely free pattern for a doily. I remember my mum making pineapple type doilies but
look at it here  where there are more  free doily  patterns. The colour change makes all the difference. has it become a mandala?

If you want to make your own mandala Helen is publishing a CAL that you can join in. This is done in weekly parts and I can't wait to join in.There is also an interesting explanation of what a mandala is.

 The Dandelion Mandala by LillaBjorn Crochet design, The pattern is not free but it is clearly illustrated with lots of pictures.

Having tried the Dandelion I was inspired to branch out on my own.

So I think doilies are nearly always white, mandalas are any colour you like.
Doilies are often lacy, mandalas are usually solid.
Doilies are used horizontally to support dainty edibles, mandalas are used vertically to decorate walls.
Doilies are domestic decorations that have been made throughout history, mandalas have a cosmic link but they have been made from very ancient times too.
I think doilies are always crochet or paper but mandalas have been made from lots of different materials including stone, enamel, glass and paint.

No these are rugs.
Lynn and Victoria.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

My Crochet Holiday Snaps

On the way to Portugal, classic scalloped shawl but ran out of yarn, So this is not finished. Close up below using Drops delight yarn.

 Lost my phone cosy somewhere on the journey so I made these one evening. Lovely Stylecraft Cabaret double knitting.

Started a lovely lacy scarf in the
 bar while the rugby was on. But this is not 
finished either.

 Because we visited a town and the yarn, buttons beads etc were very cheap so I had to start another project.

The little buttons are roses and chrysanthemums - wish I had bought more.

love the fish buttons.
flowery scarf mostly made on the way home.

I suppose you were expecting this sort of photograph.

Man tries to hold back the sea.

and fails!

thirsty man looks for bar

And finds one!

the sea

the sand
I love crochet and Portugal.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Summer Stock! I've been making giant floral rings ... lots of them.

The Spring and Summer craft fair season is nearly upon us - eeeek!  This year I have designed a really cute flowery finger ring to compliment mum's head garlands (free pattern for those here if you'd like it).  They are so quick and so pretty I thought I'd share in case anyone else would like to make a few too.  
Usual request: feel free to use, gift or sell what you make from the pattern but please don't share or copy the pattern or pictures without permission.  Please do share links to the blog, though.  The more the merrier :-)
 You will need:

Two colours of 4ply cotton or embroidery floss.
A crochet hook (I've used 2.5mm)
A pair of scissors or snippers
A ring blank
A needle for sewing in ends
(glue if you're not able to sew to your ring blank)

I've used these opened backed filigree ring blanks in different colours.  I like them because they fit anyone and I can either glue the flower to the pad or sew it on through the open-work.

They are not expensive and available from various Ebay sellers.

Pattern (UK notation):

  1. Using your centre colour make a magic ring/magic loop/adjustable ring.  Leave a long starting yarn-end if you want to sew your flower to the ring.
  2. Make an even number of dc into the ring (10dc will give you 5 petals, 12dc will give you 6 petals ...)
  3. Join with a ss and change colour
  4. First petal made over first two dc: [2ch, tr, dtr] in first dc, [dtr,tr,ch, slst] in next dc.
  5. All other petals each made over two dc: [ss, ch, tr, dtr] in next dc, [dtr, tr, ch, ss] in next dc.
  6. Join with a slst, cut yarn and hide ends.
  7. For some of mine I've added a 3rd colour accent.  I sew these stripes on before I attach the flower to the ring blank.

Diagram for first petal (read right to left)
Diagram for all other petals 

 Using long end sew around edge of centre of the flower through the ring blank or glue with a clear drying glue to the pad.

Wear with pride :-)

Can't ....

... stop ...

 ... making!

Victoria x