Singleton Buttons – Free Tutorial!

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I have written this tutorial for the WI Website and am posting it here as a freebie in case anyone fancies a go at Singleton Buttons! I love them and make a lot of them to match different projects – slightly more work than a manufactured covered button but a lot more fun and cheaper too. This is one of the historic thrift crafts of my home county, Dorset.

I will be teaching this method at a handmade button dayschool at Denman College on 16 September 2013, alongside traditional woven Dorsets and embroidered buttons.

Just click the link into the pdf below to get started with the tutorial, and please do let me know how you get on with it, and send any photos of your buttons – I would love to see them!

Singleton Tutorial

Festive Fun at the WI’s Denman College

What a busy time I’ve had! No sooner had I partly settled into our new home, I was on my way up to Oxfordshire to teach papercrafts at the WI’s Denman College. This was a ‘New Wave Weekend’, a chance for the girls to get together, have some fun and entertainment in the beautiful surroundings, and try out some specially selected ‘on-trend’ workshops – a great blend from crafts and singing to cookery to image & wardrobe to blogging. I also met up with a celebrity in the making, the awesome WI sewing tutor, watch this space… and did some great networking with some truly ‘inspiring women’. 

At home, I’ve also been decorating rooms, altering curtains and appliquéing  planning patchwork, crocheting and am about to do up some old furniture with chalk paint and decopatch. How did I ever find the time to work full hours…

Here are a selection of wonderful paper wreaths made by students on my workshops this weekend. I really hope that they all like them as I was very pleased with the results! Well done, all! 

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Little bowl or bucket bag – free tutorial!

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Here’s a bit of a freebie – I have taught this method on Beginner’s Crochet classes as well – they are a great beginners project and the first things I ever made when my friend Boann taught me to crochet round the camp fire a number of years ago. I have written this pattern for complete beginners, so it might seem a bit Janet & John to some! 

This design uses three basic crochet stitches – chain, double and slip stitch which are the basis of many crochet patterns. Once you have mastered the little bowl or bag basics, you can make large versions in many different yarns, and add handles and embellishments if you wish. I have made them in coloured jute string to form a storage basket with a fold over top – you could make pen holders, plant pot covers, children’s play bags, handbags and even large shopping bags using this method – see the Liquorice Allsorts bag I made using this method at the end of this post. 

Essentially you are working ‘in the round’ which some beginners find easier to master than making a straight, flat piece. It demonstrates the versatility of crochet in making flexible, interesting shapes. 

You will need: 

  • a range of yarns in contrasting colours, or a tonal mix, or even just in one colour – you don’t need a lot and this is an ideal way of using up ball ends
  • crochet hooks to suit the weight of the yarn you are using (if in doubt, check the ball band!)
  • a knitters needle for darning in ends
  • a sewing needle for applying any embellishments

The Stitches:

Chain (ch in British patterns) – Bring the yarn over the hook from the back, wrap it round the hook so you have two loops on the hook – the original loop and the new loop. Slide the loops down to the hook end and use the hook to secure the new loop whilst you pull it through the old loop, leaving one loop on the hook. If you keep going you will end up with a series of little chains.  

Slip Stitch (sl st in British patterns) – Insert your hook into the place on the pattern where it tells you to make a slip stitch. Bring the yarn over the hook from the back, then use the hook to pull the new loop on the hook through the stitch you are slip stitching into and at the same time through the original loop on the hook. This is a smooth, single action and is a way of securing work which does not ‘make’ any more textile. 

Double Crochet (dc on British patterns) – insert your hook into the stitch or space as directed by the pattern. Bring the yarn over the hook from the back, wrap it round the hook and use the hook to bring it through the stitch below where you inserted your hook. There will now be two loops on the hook. Then bring the yarn over the hook from the back again and wrap it round so you have three loops on the hook – the original two and the one you have just made. Slide the loops down to the hook end and use the hook to secure the new loop whilst you pull it through the first of the old loops, leaving two loops on the hook. Then bring the yarn over the hook from the back again and wrap it round so you have three loops on the hook – the original two and the one you have just made. Slide the loops down to the hook end and use the hook to secure the new loop whilst you pull it through the both of the remaining loops, leaving the new loop you have just made on the hook! 

 Sounds complicated but it will become second nature as you work it over the over and see the piece growing! 

  1. Plan your colour scheme – first decide which colours and textures you would like in your piece, maybe also what trim and buttons or beads you would like on it too!

    Then get the hooks you need selected and your trims and other equipment ready. 

  1. Crochet your bowl

Round 1 – take the yarn you have chosen for the bowl or bag base then chain 4. Join with a slip stitch to form a ring. Then chain 2 which is your first ‘spoke’ in the wheel you are now going to make. Then double crochet into the ring 11 times. You will end up with a mini wheel with 12 ‘spokes’. 

Round 2 – work two double crochets into each of the stitches from the previous round until you get to the chain two on round 1. Join with a slip stitch. You can change colour if you want to now. To do this, cut off your yarn, leaving a long enough length to darn in afterwards, and pull it through the loop on the hook to secure. The join on your new colour, knotting it in as close as you can to the work. 

Round 3 – pull the new colour in by hooking it through from the back then start any new colours by working a chain 2, work two double crochets into the first stitch on round 3, then work 1 double crochet into the next stitch, continue in this way, alternating two double crochets and 1 double crochets all the way round. If you want to join in a new colour, follow the steps above. 

Round 4 – If you are working a new colour, start off with a chain two, then work two double crochets into the next stitch then one double crochet into the next four stitches, continue alternating in this way until you reach the end of the round. 

If you want to make a larger flat bottom, keep working like this, increasing the number of stitches after the two double crochets into the one stitch. You will get a feel for whether your increasing is correct by having a nice flat piece. If it starts to look wavy, you are putting too many stitches in the round. You can pull it back and work a few less in to get it right!

Round 5 – start to make the sides of the bowl by starting the next round with a chain two then working one double crochet into each stitch on the next round – you will see it start to curl up as go round – this is what you want!

Continue working like this up the straight sides for as tall as you want it to be – taller bowls look good with turned down tops. 

If you want to make a bag you can choose two methods – either join on some straps by working a set of new stitches into the top row of your straight sides then use the same stitch, double crochet, to make two pairs of handles – you just work the stitches back and forth to get long straight pieces – the textile will look slightly different to the bowl shape with more texture to it. Or you can do this:

Decide where to put your handle ‘holes’ along the walls of the bag, then make a chain, as long as you want the handle to be, count the chains then count the same number of stitches from your last row and join the chain back into the top row with a double crochet. Flatten the walls of your bag to work out where the next handle ‘hole’ will be – on the other side of the bag to correspond with the one you have already made. Mark the point you need to get to round the other side of the bag with a pin or marker, then double crochet as before until you get to the pin or marker. Chain the same number you made on the opposite side and join it in in the same way. Then carry on working double crochets along the row, working into the chains, as before until the bag is the height you want it to be. 

Use a knitters needle to darn in all your loose ends and snip off. You can decorate you bag or bowl if you want to, using beads, buttons or even a crochet flower if you know how to make them. 

Happy hooking!

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A new take on Embroidery!

I really enjoyed teaching granny squares this week – every one did really well and it was also good to get one very able student going on making straight sides on straight pieces of crochet by ending rows with chain turns. This weekend is all about sugarcraft as I decorate a very unusual order for a 40th birthday – results coming up tomorrow! This month I am teaching Creative Contemporary Embroidery at the WI’s Denman College and I am really looking forward to it! I am just putting an array of materials together now – will include free applique, beads, buttons, mixed threads, anything goes! People seem to be loving the updated style offered by sites like Sublime Stitching which gives an ancient craft such a fresh, modern look, so I am looking forward to seeing the different things everyone will make – limited only by their imagination! It’s like painting with threads! Here’s one of my little pieces for a bit of inspiration!

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