Batty McBatface ~ Crochet Pattern

IMG_2162For this project you will require:

Wool: approximately 75 yards (I used Cascade 220 Superwash) (worsted weight), and a small amount of an alternative colour for the bat’s nose.

A crochet hook suitable to your yarn weight. (When making amigurumi I recommend using a smaller hook than your yarn weight suggests. This keeps stitches tight, creating a solid fabric.) I used a 4mm hook when making these bats.

darning needle

7mm safety eyes 

soft fibre fill

stitch marker


Stitches and Abbreviations (North American terms):

magic circle (magic ring, magic loop):
Make a loop a few inches from the end of your yarn. Grasp the join of the loop (where the 2 strands of yarn overlap) between your left thumb and forefinger. Insert hook into the loop from front to back. Draw up a loop (also known as a chain [ch 1]). Insert hook into the loop, so you are crocheting over the loop and the yarn tail. Draw up a loop to begin your first sc of Round 1.

yo = yarn over:
Yarning over (abbreviated yo) in crochet is the most basic step when making a stitch. Yarning over means wrapping the yarn over your crochet hook. Yarn overs are used before or after you insert the hook into the next stitch, and depending on the stitch you are working, you may yarn over two or more times.

sc = single crochet stitch
Insert the hook through stitch space, yarn over and pull through from back to front.

sc inc = single crochet increase stitch
Two single crochet stitches into one stitch of the previous round.

sc dec = single crochet decrease stitch combines two stitches from the previous round into one stitch. (I use the invisible decrease stitch: hook through the front loops of the next two stitches to decrease (three loops on the hook), yarn over and pull through the first two loops, yarn over again and pull through the two loops on the hook.)

fasten off = pull the working yarn through the stitch to close the loop to finish the project

Let’s Begin!

Body & Head

Worked from the bottom up in one piece:

Magic circle with eight single crochet stitches, join (do not slip stitch) and begin:

Round 1 – 2 sc in each (16)

Round 2 – sc, sc inc, repeat (24)

Round 3 – 2sc, sc inc, repeat (32)

Round 4 – sc in each (32)

Round 5 – sc in each (32)

Round 6- sc, sc dec, repeat (24)

Round 7 – sc in each (24)

Round 8 – 2 sc, sc dec, repeat (18)

Round 9 – sc in each (18) 

Round 10 – 3 sc, sc dec, repeat (16) (stuff the body with some fibre fill)

Round 12 – sc in each (16)

Round 13 – sc dec, repeat (8)

Round 14 – 2 sc in each (16)

Round 15 – sc, sc inc, repeat (24)

Round 16 – 2 sc, sc inc, repeat (32 (continue stuffing the body with a little more fibre fill, using the back end of your hook to stuff it through and into the neck.)

Round 17 – sc in each (32)

Round 18 – sc in each (32)

Round 19 – sc in each (32)

Round 20 – sc in each (32)

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Round 21 – 2 sc, sc dec, repeat (24)

Round 23 – 1 sc, sc dec, repeat (16) (Place eyes into the face between rounds 18-19 eight stitches apart.) (This is a good time to stitch the nose in place.)

Round 24 – sc dec, repeat (8) (fishing adding fibre fill)

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Fasten off leaving a long tail, sew through the last six stitches to close them, then sew the tail through the body (to hide) and snip off the remaining end.

For the Ears:

Begin with a magic circle with three single crochet stitches.

Round 1 – 2 sc in each (6)

Round 2 – 2 sc in first stitch, sc in each of the rest in the round (7)

Round 3 – 2 sc, sc inc, repeat (9)

Round 4 – 3 sc, sc inc, repeat (11)

Round 5 – 4 sc, sc inc, repeat (13)

Round 6 – 5 sc, sc inc, repeat (15)IMG_2084

Round 7 – sc in each (15)

Round 8 – sc in each (15)

Fasten off. Fold the ear in half and (using the daring needle) sew the two sides together with a single stitch. Attach to the top of the head on either side above the eyes.

For the Legs:

Chain 8.

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Stitching into the back bar of the chain: sc in the second chain from the hook, sc in the next back bar of the chain (2),

Chain 3, stitching into the back bar of the chain: sc in the second chain from the hook, sc in the next back bar of the chain (2),

Chain 3, stitching into the back bar of the chain, 

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sc in the second chain from the hook, sc in the next back bar of the chain (2),

Pick up the two loops of the previous two chains (three loops on the hook), yarn over, pull through all three loops, yo and single crochet into each of the back bar of the remaining chain (5).

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Repeat for second leg.

Attach to the bottom of the bat body using the darning needle.

Wings/Arms

Note: To keep stitches facing the same way for both wings: when working on the bat’s right wing chain one and turn on the first row of the wing. For the bat’s left wing chain one but don’t turn, instead fold the chain stitch around the arm and begin working stitches into the chain.  

Chain 18IMG_2101

Stitching into the back bar of the chain: sc in the second chain from the hook, sc in the next back bar of the chain (2),

Chain 3, stitching into the back bar of the chain: sc in the second chain from the hook, sc in the next back bar of the chain (2),

Chain 3, stitching into the back bar of the chain, sc in the second chain from the hook, sc in the next back bar of the chain (2),

Pick up the two loops of the previous two chains (three loops on the hook), yarn over, pull through all three loops, yo and single crochet into each of the back bar of the remaining chain (15).

Chain 1, turn, sc in each of the next 15 stitches, chain 1, turn, sc in each of the nest 15 stitches, chain 1, turn,

sc in each of the next 14 stitches, chain 1, turn, sc in each of the next 14 stitches, chain 1, turn,

sc in each of the next 13 stitches, chain 1, turn, sc in each of the next 13 stitches, chain 1, turn,

sc in each of the next 12 stitches, chain 1, turn, sc in each of the next 12 stitches, chain 1, turn,

sc in each of the next 11 stitches, chain 1, turn, sc in each of the next 11 stitches, chain 1, turn,

sc in each of the next 10 stitches, chain 1, turn, sc in each of the next 10 stitches, fasten off leaving a long tail for sewing.

Repeat for second arm/wing, noting the differences stated above.

IMG_1993I suggest blocking the wings. “Blocking” in knitting and crochet is a term used to describe the process of gently cold water washing a finished project to relax and soften the fibres. Once bathed in cold water, the item is layed down and pinned to shape to a breathable surface. Blocked garments hang better, move more naturally, and look neater.

In the case of amigurumi parts, there’s no rocket science involved. I used a washcloth from the shop that I use when wet felting, pinned the wings spanned out and let them dry. IMG_2160

Sew the wings to the bat body using the darning needle. Sew the arm to the neck and the base of the wing to just above the leg on either side. Tack the arm to the neck with a single stitch, then tack the base just above the leg. The wing will find a natural curve around the body: stitch from the leg to the neck then secure with a knot to the neck stitch. Hide the ends of the yarn by stitching through the body and clipping the ends.

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Enjoy your bat!IMG_2162

Crochet Easter Egg Pattern

For these simple Easter eggs I used various yarn scraps. Any yarn will do, you can even mix and match scraps into stripes or colour work patterns. Obviously, a sock weight yarn will create a small egg, and an aran weight will create a larger egg. Most of my eggs were made with my go-to worsted weight yarn.

You will need:

  • 4 yards (or so) of yarn scraps
  • A crochet hook appropriate to your yarn (I often use a hook smaller than recommended to ensure a tight stitch, resulting in a solid fabric.)
  • Stitch marker (use your stitch marker to mark stitch number 1 of each round.)
  • A small amount of fibre fill
  • Darning needle

Abbreviations:

magic loop (magic ring, magic circle): Make a loop a few inches from the end of your yarn. Grasp the join of the loop (where the 2 strands of yarn overlap) between your left thumb and forefinger. Insert hook into the loop from front to back. Draw up a loop (also known as a chain [ch 1]). Insert hook into the loop, so you are crocheting over the loop and the yarn tail. Draw up a loop to begin your first sc of Round 1.

yo = yarn over: Yarning over (abbreviated yo) in crochet is the most basic step when making a stitch. Yarning over means wrapping the yarn over your crochet hook. Yarn overs are used before or after you insert the hook into the next stitch, and depending on the stitch you are working, you may yarn over two or more times.

sc = single crochet stitch Insert the hook through stitch space, yarn over and pull through from back to front.

sc inc = single crochet increase stitch Two single crochet stitches into one stitch of the previous round.

sc dec = single crochet decrease stitch Combining two stitches from the previous round into one stitch. Hook through the front loops of the following two stitches, yarn over and pull through both loops of the stitches, yarn over again and pull through the two loops on the hook, continue on to the next stitch.

fasten off = pull the working yarn through the stitch to close the loop to finish the project

Let’s begin!

Begin with a magic circle of 6 sc crochet stitches.

Round 1: sc in each (12)

Round 2: sc, sc inc – repeat (18)

Round 3: 2 sc, sc inc – repeat (24)

Round 4-10: sc in each (24)

Round 11: sc, sc dec – repeat: (18)

Round 12: sc in each (18)

Round 13: sc, sc dec – repeat: (12)

Stuff your egg with a small amount of fibre fill.

Round 14: sc in each (12)

Round 15: sc dec repeat: (6)

Fasten off.

Use a darning needle to stitch the remaining six stitches closed, then thread the yarn end though the egg to hide it, and snip off any remaining yarn end.

Decorative tip: Consider using other yarn scraps to decorate your egg using embroidery techniques.

If you’re interested in an Easter egg pattern that opens up allowing you to hide a small treasure or treat inside, check out my pattern for opening eggs:
https://olivesandbananas.blog/2017/04/17/easter-eggs-crochet-pattern/

Designer’s choice: not all my eggs are the same size – some have an extra round of stitches, others have a row less. The size is often dictated by the amount of yarn I have, and remembering that this is not an exact science, and some variation makes the end result a lot more interesting.

Spring Onion Crochet Pattern

Spring OnionIMG_3403 (2)
Crochet Pattern

For this project you will need:

9 yards of worsted weight yarn in white
(I used Cascade 220 superwash.)

1 yard of worsted weight in light/lime green yarn

48 yards of a soft dk weight yarn in forest green
(I used Diamond Luxury Collection
100% Super Baby Alpaca.)

a pair of 6 or 7 mm safety eyes

a small amount of fibre fill

3.75mm crochet hook

a darning needle

a stitch marker

Optional: some rustic jute twine to tie around your onion in a bow for decoration
– or to tie a bunch together.

Let’s Begin!IMG_3409 (1)

For the white part of the onion:
Begin with a magic circle of 6 single crochet stitches

Round 1: 2 sc in each (12)

Round 2: 1 sc, sc inc (repeat) (18)

Round 3: 2 sc, sc inc (repeat) (24)

Rounds 4-6: sc in each (24)

Round 7: sc, sc dec (repeat) (18)

Round 8: sc in each (18)

Place the safety eyes between rows 5 and 6
approximately 6 or seven stitches apart.

Round 9: sc, sc dec (12)

Round 10: sc in each (12)

SWITCH COLOUR TO LIGHT/LIME GREEN

Round 11: sc in each (12)

Round 12: sc in each (12)

Fasten off leaving an end long enough to sew to the green stalks.

Stuff your onion with a small amount of fibre fill.

To make the white roots for your onion:
Use your leftover white yarn, and with your darning
needle thread through the bottom where the magic
circle comes together. Stitch six or eight times leaving
two inch long loops. Snip the ends of the loops, then
untwine the ply of the yarn to create the squiggles.

Green StalksIMG_9499

To make the stalks stitch approximately 70 rounds in total slowly increasing from six stitches to ten.
There is no exact process of increasing, in fact by using a different count for each stalk, your onion will look more realistic. Your green onion stalks should measure between 8.5 and 10 inches when finished.

Fasten off two of the stalks, leaving a longer end on the third for sewing together.

Make three:

Magic circle of 3 sc crochet stitches

Round 1: 2 sc in each (6)

Rounds 2-9: sc in each (6)

Round 10: add one sc to this round anywhere (7)

Rounds 11-25: sc in each (7)

Round 26: add one sc anywhere (8)

Rounds 27-40: sc in each (8)

Round 41: add one sc anywhere (9)

Rounds 42-58: sc in each (9)

Round 59: add one sc anywhere (10)

Rounds: 60-70: sc in each (10)

To attach the green stalks to the white onion:

First, fasten off two of the green stalks, leaving the third with aIMG_3407 (1)long end for sewing.

Sewing just in the centre of the three stalks,
stitch the stalks together either using a slip stitch with your crochet hook or by using the darning needle.

Continue to stitch them together in the centre until you have approximately 12 stitches
around outside of the three stalks.

Use the light/lime green to sew the white onion to the green stalks, placing two stitches into each stitch.

Decorate your onion with a small piece of jute twine wrapped around a few times
then tied into a bow.

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ENJOY YOUR ONION!

Download the FREE PDF here:

Spring Onion Crochet Pattern

Shop Update

If you were lucky enough to be in my shop a few Saturdays ago when my pipes froze and my bathroom exploded, you might have been even luckier to be one of the ones running to the back to offer help… at which point you would have learned that shop walls hide some horrific messes. For months the space outside the bathroom has served as my recycling pile area (imagine lots of boxes), furniture waiting to be painted area, tool storage area, photography area, boxes of bags area, my family’s kitchen, and my closet.

On my list of a million things to do this week, tidying this area was important.

There were three pieces of furniture to paint and add to the shop: my mother’s table, a clock which was donated to the store, and the base of one of the hutches – the top of which is in use housing the needles, it is on top of a dresser rather than its base because the dresser offers better storage for …more needles.

The base is now beside the checkout counter to gives me some extra storage for bags (Adrienne😂) and shop operations stuff. Now called my little blue sideboard, it is my favourite piece in the shop. (Still needs to be hinged, clearly..)

<<<<<<
ck was donated by some new friends, and I'm not sure how much if its story they would want to share. I think it's safe to say the clock was deeply appreciated by its original owner, but for complicated reasons it hasn't seen love (or the light of day) for years. It is the hope that the clock will find a new life in the shop. I think it already has.

My mother’s table has been in my sunroom for a few years serving as my workshop table. With its leaf it seats six, but Not comfortably. Without the leaf it transforms into an adorable pedestal table, and that is how I’ll use it. It was going to be painted white, and the first coat went on white – in fact the base already had its second coat when I decided to go at it with the blue paint, and I love it. Blue round table it is. We’ll use the round table near the entrance to the shop for a few purposes. I’ve noticed people need more space to put wool down and look at colours, compare, or match. This will be our table for that.

There has been some organisation accomplished this week, but still a lot to go. I’ll be moving on to plan B for the main shelving unit, so please be patient while I make the arrangements. There is no one more eager to see the shelves in place than me.

As for wool…

I’ve been busy coordinating the workshop schedule, and hope to post an updated list to the blog later this weekend. Upcoming classes include: beginner knitting, knit lace making, sock knitting, (hopefully knit fiddlehead mittens), crochet amigurumi cacti, crochet amigurumi mice, needle felt sculpture: chickadees, needle felt sculpture: valentine heart garland, needle felt sculpture: Easter eggs with simple embroidery embellishment.

< img src=”https://olivesandbananas.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/img_4403-1.jpg&#8221; class=”size-full wp-image-1750″ height=”3024″ width=”3024″>< img src=”https://olivesandbananas.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/img_5018.jpg&#8221; class=”wp-image-1754 size-full” height=”750″ width=”750″>< img src=”https://olivesandbananas.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/img_5015.jpg&#8221; class=”wp-image-1752 size-full” height=”750″ width=”750″><<<<<<
orkshops in planning include yoga for stitchers and knitting with an energy healer. (I'm really intrigued by these two!)

Thank you, everyone, for your patience as everything falls into place.

Easter Eggs Crochet Pattern

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These cute little Easter eggs are simple to make and fun for little ones’ fingers to fill and hide. This pattern makes an egg a little larger than a real chicken egg (size depends on your wool and hook size), and could be filled with anything your imagination can come up with. Little needle felted characters are an adorable addition – and someday I may find time to write an addendum to this pattern with instructions for those, but for now this egg pattern is an easy addition to Easter craft ideas, so I’m jotting it down to share with you all (even if Easter is over). 🙂

I used Bernat Satin 3.5 oz worsted in ‘Star Dust’ and an F hook (3.75mm). Your yarn and hook size will determine you finished product size. You’ll need a darning needle, stitch marker, and a pair of scissors.IMG_4009

Crochet Egg Pattern:

Begin with a magic circle of six.

Round 1: 2 sc in each = 12

IMG_3995 (1)

Round 2: sc, 2sctog inc, rep = 18

Round 3: 2 sc, 2sctog inc, rep = 24

Round 4: 3 sc, 2sctog inc, rep = 30

Rounds 5 – 8: sc in each = 30

Round 9: 3 sc, 2 sttog dec, rep = 24IMG_3997 (1)

Round 10: sc in each = 24

Round 11: sc in first six stitches, chain 19, connect with stitch 1 of 24 with a single crochet stich (beginning round 12.

Round 12: sc in each = 24 (when stitching into the 18 stitches of the chain, use the front loop only -flo- )

Round 13: 3 sc, 2 sttog dec, rep = 18

Round 14: sc in in each = 18

Round 15: 2 sc, 2 sttog dec, rep = 12

Round 16: sc in each = 12

Round 17: sc, 2 sttog dec, rep until youève got six stitches left in the round

Close using your darning needle to close the last six stitched, gently pulling it closed with each stitch. Bring the yarn through to the inside of your egg and secure with a hidden knot (or use a felting needle to secure the end).

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My Hannah Bunny

img_4560This little bunny was built by eye, there are no stitch counts just rough numbers and rows. I know people really rely on patterns and stitch numbers, but I believe that in amigurumi being a stitch or two off doesn’t make that much of a difference. When shaping bodies you should feel free to make your shape as plump or thin as you want. If you understand increasing and decreasing in the round this should be easy.

I wasn’t thinking of writing this pattern while I was making it, so my notes are rough, and I didn’t take photos along the way, so please bear with this “pattern.”

My finished bunny is about 11 inches tall. This yarn is a sport/light weight and I used a D hook to help give you reference.

The head and body are made starting with a magic circle of eight.(I find starting with eight gives the shape a flat-round appearance, while when starting with six make a more true round shape.)

The body:

Magic circle 8

row1: 2sctog in each stitch 16img_4790

row2: sc, 2sctog

row2: 2 sc, 2sctog

row3: 3 sc, 2sctog

row4: 4 sc, 2sctog

row5: sc in each

row6: 5 sc, 2sctog

rows 7-18: sc in each

rows 19: 5 sc, 2st decerease

rows 20-23: sc in each

rows 23-34: slowly decrease every other row (starting every two rows, maybe three) to form the body -I didn’t count my stitches or follow the same decrease pattern – some decrease rows I only decreased every five or six stitches, and I wasn’t really following rows anymore – just stitch along to shape a body. My neck ends with about 14 stitches.

I find I work a lot faster without a stitch marker or worrying too much about rows. I concentrate more on shaping the body the way I like for each individual project rather than trying too hard to be exact.
The head:img_4794

Magic circle 8

row1: 2sctog in each stitch 16
row2: sc, 2sctog

row2: 2 sc, 2sctog

row3: 3 sc, 2sctog

rows 4-10: sc in each

row11: 3 sc, 2st decrease

Now is a good time to place your safety eyes. Position them somewhere around row 7 eight stitches apart (the placement really is entirely up to your judgement.) I stitched the nose in after the head was finished using pink yarn and a darning needle criss crossed over six stitches between the eyes. I thread the ends into the form then gently felt the yarn in place to keep it secure.

row12: 2 sc, 2st decrease

row 13: 1 sc, 2st decrease

Stuff your head.

Close the rest using either a darning needle or slip stitches.

The ears, arms, and legs all begin with a magic circle of six.

Ears:

Magic circle 6

row1: sc in each 12img_4789

row2: sc, 2sctog 18

row3: 2 sc, 2sctog

row4: 3 sc, 2sctog

rows 5-7: sc in each

row8: 3 sc, 2st decrease

rows 9-34: sc in each

(I think I decreased somewhere along the way to make them about 20 stitches around in the end.)

To finish the ears I cut a piece of pale pink felt to size and used a 42 gauge felting needle to gently felt it into place. This works beautifully with natural fibres. (Acrylic yarn might need some stitches.)

I didn’t take photos of the head before I attached the hat, so I can’t show you the attachment of the ears (but I should note that I stitched the hat on using a light thread, so the hat can be removed without damaging the bunny.

The ears are attached by using the leftover end to sew it together then in place. Pinch the ear to give it a fold, sew the fold together – then sew the ear to the head at the back side along row 2.

Arms:img_4788

Magic circle 6

row1: sc in each 12

row2: sc, 2sctog 18

row3: 2 sc, 2sctog

row4: 3 sc, 2sctog

rows 5-8: sc in each

(somewhere around now, stuff the hand using a small amount of batting.)

rows 9-13: decrease using one st decrease stitch

rows 13-20: sc in each
Legs:img_4792

Magic circle 6

row1: sc in each 12

row2: sc, 2sctog 18

row3: 2 sc, 2sctog

row4: 3 sc, 2sctog

row5: hdc in each (this gives your foot a bit of a flat appearance.)

row6: sc in each to two loops of row 5

rows 7-9 sc in each

row 10: 2 sc, 2 st decrease

rows 11-20: sc in each

Stuff the foot using a small amount of batting.

When decreasing the foot you can put all your decrease stitches one right after another then continue with sc for the rest of the row – this will define a toe and heel of the foot. OR you can distribute the decrease stitches evenly (3 sc, 2st decrease) for the row to create a round foot. Either works.. in the case of this Hannah bunny I distributed them evenly.

Tail:

I used a bright white chunkier yarn and made a small ball:img_4787

Magic circle 6

row1: sc in each 12

row2: sc, 2sctog 18

row3: 2 sc, 2sctog

row4: sc in each

row5: 2 sc, 2st decrease

row6: 1 sc, 2st decrease

row7: 2st decrease until closed, leave a long end for sewing it to the body.

TIP: when attaching, I always felt the area lightly with a super fine gauge felting needle. This secures the fibres and holds everything in place.

To make her Pussy Hat simply start with a chain big enough to fit your bunny’s head. Close it with a slip stitch careful not to twist it. Rows of HDC follow, each being closed with a slip stitch until you’ve reached your desired size. Close it with slip stitches across the top. Done. Attach it to your bunny’s head using thread and straight stitches to easily remove it if you want later on.

Dragonfly Tales

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The book pictured is A Dazzle of Dragonflies by Forrest Lee Mitchell and James L. Lasswell. It’s an enchanting view into the world of dragonflies from an imaginative perspective.

There’s a dragonfly commision coming up that means a lot to me. Each custom order has had it’s poignant effect, and I feel privileged with the confidence and whole heartedness people share their stories. The upcoming dragonfly will in part bring some healing to breast cancer patients, and I can’t help but feel my mother strongly, imagining her holding my little Finn wherever they are, as I bring this project together.

On September 30th 2012 my husband and I travelled the north western shore of Lake Superior visiting artist’s studios as part of the Crossing Borders Art Tour. While at Betsy Bowen’s studio in my favourite escape Grand Marais, I bought this little print of dragonflies which were an illustration for the book Hawk’s Ridge. At the time I didn’t know what I would do with the green darner dragonflies, but the drawing captured a piece of my heart so I knew immediately this would be special.

One year later was the first day of my life without Finn. When I started decorating his nursery earlier that year, these dragonflies were the first thing I put in the room.

The drawing has always made me smile. It’s musical, playful, and elegant just as dragonflies are. Just think about the number of people who associate dragonflies with something magical or profound in their life, to me that says these widely adored insects do possess a connection to something mysterious and lovely.

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Betsy Bowen’s green darner dragonflies

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Also coming up is another infant elf hat using Dauntless Dragonfly from Expression Fibre Arts. Not only is this yarn stunning and soft, it’s named so appropriately, and is also the shades of my favourite Oliver baby blanket from Aunty Helen, Uncle Patric, and cousins Alex and Phoebe. It will be decorated in needlefelted dragonflies in a colour and number chosen by the buyer. I believe strongly in the ways we relate to symbols.

Some time ago I edited a photo I took of a dragonfly that Hannah rescued at Little Dog Lake one day when we were swimming with the dogs. It rested on her hand long enough for me to take a number of photos of it and it was beautiful. I won’t link the quote because I’m not sure the full text is really in context, at the time (when I was reading random leads to all things dragonfly) this particular quote sunk in deeply and still resonates.

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‘Hannah’s dragonfly’ 2010

Why Pigs?

img_7476I’m not sure how to explain this without making my mother sound like a crazy person, so I hope I tell this story in a way she would approve. She was always my best editor; an art history professor by day, she was also an effective, eloquent writer, widely published, an architectural historian, and respected researcher. She was my best teacher.

I miss her. She died in May of 2013 when breast cancer became more than her body could fight.

I think she would really love what I’m doing here; not just the fibre art creations but the process and how I’m combining my skills and interests in literature, horticulture, writing, photography, and fibre to make it happen. Her influence is everywhere – art and art history, her eye for perspective, her books, her prints, her pigs…

Her pigs, you say? Yes, her pigs.

This isn’t a story about a collection of pigs or a hidden closet of pig paraphernalia, it’s really a story about just one pig and a few others. It began one Christmas when I was old enough to know that Santa was really my mom; that year my father gave my mother some money and said, “go buy yourself a sweater.” as her Christmas gift. (Which makes him sound sort of terrible, but to all of our surprise every year he came out of nowhere with some extravagant gift for her – img_3063usually a hard to get editon of some art book she really wanted. He did the same every birthday and mother’s day too.) That year she took the sweater money and came home with this pig.

I’m not sure where she got it, and it has no inscription but she was thrilled with her pig and my father was completely confused. I don’t believe he was truly mad, but he was certainly unimpressed. A sweater was a practical gift and he saw no practical use for this pig. I don’t think he ever really understood that her pleasure came not just from the pig, but his reaction to the pig. When she knew she was dying she brought my sister and I together to divide her belongings. The process went smoother than in a lot of families I know, I think because my sister and I are such completely opposite people that we were drawn to completely different things. This pig was one of the first things my mother gave me.

Also in her funny collection of folk art were some quirky flying creatures – a frog and a cow  who hung in her kitchen for many years. (I’ll come back to cows soon – with a felting project, my mother, and Joe Fafard.) A flying pig would seem like an appropriate fit, but she didn’t have one of those. I know that my felted flying pigs would make her smile.

I suppose, for me, the flying pig represents an impossibility (an adorable impossibility). Everything about my life feels like an impossibility now, but I’m still living it; I just can’t believe I breathe without my son. It’s sad living without my mother, but losing your parents is meant to be an inevitability in life; it’s supposed to happen in that order. Life without Finn is blanketed in a different kind of grief. Something feels wrong every minute of every day, something is missing – that panic feeling you feel when you wonder where your child is, a little pit in my gut that never goes away. I can wish that my parents were here to meet Oliver and to admire Hannah, and imagine it happily, but when I wish and imagine Finn here it hurts and I see ghosts in places he should be.

When I was first learning to felt a flying pig was one of the first things I thought of, though I didn’t actually create one until last year. My first self written crochet amigurumi pattern however was a flying pig (someday I’ll translate that to a readable pattern, but for now even I don’t understand what I wrote). I do believe a part of my imagination lives in an impossible place now – thankfully it comes out in the form of ridiculously cute felted sculptures and tiny crocheted creatures.

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Hi, my name is Joe. (and the teeny tiny pig)

As I write the instructions for the flying pig needle felting kits I was joined by a few more of my mother’s pigs. Well, these guys were my find and first love, which I brought home from Australia one summer to live with my mother. I sent her a text from Australia the day I found Joe with his photo and that lovey eyed emoji to which she responded the same. I can still hear her silly giggle in my memory. Joe and the teeny tiny pig were found at a garden centre in Wentworth Falls, NSW (a little west of Sydney in the mountains) and carried home with care. (Which, by the way, Australian garden centres aren’t much different than Canadian garden centres except the seasons are backward and perennials and annuals are all mixed up. It’s pretty fun actually – like being in Wonderland… or  uh, Oz..)  My late mother-in-law did not understand the attraction to the pigs, but I do recall the faintest glimmer of a smile when she looked at Joe. Pigs, who doesn’t love them?flyingpigpng

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes-and ships-and sealing-wax-
Of cabbages-and kings-
And why the sea is boiling hot-
And whether pigs have wings.”
Through the Looking Glass
Lewis Carroll

garden blogger to wool blogger

For years I kept a garden blog. It was something I worked hard on but never took too seriously, purposely. The point was to document my gardens and horticultural interests, and somehow keep a record of my adventures in gardening. I did, and it’s wonderful, and I hope to someday get back to writing it all down. It would be a shame to not have a record of how my garden has developed at our new house.., which we’ve now been in three and a half years, long enough for a lot of gardening to have happened. It’s just that so much else has happened that I don’t know where to begin, or catch my breath sometimes, so writing it just hasn’t happened.

I purposely left my garden blog stopped where it is. I like that photo of Adam holding the bees a lot. We were in the Roots to Harvest backyard beekeeper course, and those downtown bees were fueling up around the Cornwall garden site, and charming us all. I was pregnant with Oliver at the time, and it was the last time I felt truly consumed by gardening. (Well, other than the autumn of 2015 when I planted over 600 bulbs in my garden.) I’ve worked on our beds since, but it’s going to be a while before they’ll make sense to anyone but me. In the meantime I’m using my #amysgardentbay hashtag on Instagram photos to track the little garden moments.img_2667

My horticultural adventures understandably appear in my fibre art work, whether needle felting or crochet I’m always inspired by my garden. The colours of the wool look like a garden to me, and throughout the seasons I felt and hook what I’m growing (or eating).

As with photographing my garden, I find immense enjoyment and forever changing challenges in the photography of crafting. It intrigues me not just personally but also technologically, and from a marketing perspective. My photography browsing is now often spent admiring how creators capture their work.

I love the combination of my garden and my wool. The textures of nature matched with the colours makes for endless hours of creative heartwork. When my friend Sheri was teaching me to crochet she described how her addiction isn’t just to the making of things but to the feeling of the yarn in her hands – the “buttery softness” as she says. This is so true – to many from my understanding, the healing in #craftastherapy is found most in the texture, the softness, and comfort of wool. It’s not that different than the power of garden therapy, the texture of the soil, plants, and scents. I have to say my house never smelled better than the day I unpacked a shipment of merino wool in my sunny dining room – in a way is smelled like there was a herd of sheep in the house, ..but nicely washed sheep.

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even my winter garden inspires

My hope is that this blog will become as personally valuable a record of the evolution of Olives and Bananas, as my garden blog is to the evolution of “amy’s garden” and when I compare to the records I’ve blogged, drawn, and scribbled about my garden over the years, I see so much of the process is the same. Keeping a journal of the journey.

New Blog, First Post

img_1570This is it, the beginning of a new adventure. About a year ago, when Olives and Bananas first came to my mind I didn’t really know where it would go or what it would be, I just wanted to find a way to share needle felting and fibre art with others. After making gifts for friends for a couple years I began entertaining requests for custom orders, from there the development of needle felting kits came about as more and more people requested supplies and instruction, and together it grew into this little made by me business that I’m really enjoying.

I realize communication is an area I need to improve, thus the creation of this blog. One of my many goals for 2017 is to maintain this with weekly updates, a newsletter perhaps, so that those following know where I am on projects – especially the creation of needle felting kits, what is available, and what is coming up. I also want to relay better information about workshops, which I plan to host regularly on Sundays in my sweet little detached sunroom (which is an inspiring room to create in!).

I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions, but this year the turn of the calendar is feeling like turning a corner. It’s been a difficult few years for my family. Loss and grief weighed on us after losing my mother then our son Finn in 2013. Then the emotional highs and lows of bringing a rainbow baby into this world – followed by my husband’s job loss, and the changes that made to our lives. We struggled for a while, but it’s turning around. Finally some better employment options are arising for R, and I’ve found both healing and challenging work in this business venture. I feel like we’re finally headed toward some better days.

Olives and Bananas is more than felting, more than crochet, fibre art, and creating from wool. It’s also challenges me in photography, marketing, and business planning. The math is done in collaboration with by my husband, my accountant and calculator, as all the supplies, duties, exchange rates, and prices whether wholesale or retail is quite complicated. Completing and posting my price lists are a high priority on my to do list right now. My hope is that 2017 is the beginning of a solid business plan in action, even if it takes a few years to get there.

My main priority now is still my sweet Oliver, my wild little rainbow toddler. He’ll grow up too fast, just like his big sister Hannah has, so I’m savouring my time with him while he’s little. Wool will always be waiting, but he’s happening right now. So, please bare with me as I sneak in small moments each day to work on Olives and Bananas, while enjoying him.

I’m excited about what’s ahead. Posts I’m drafting include more information about needle felting kits, what goes in them, how I account for supplies and costs, future kits and where I stand in their development, as well as information about “just wool” kits, downloadable instructions, felting supplies, and retail wool.  Stay tuned!

Thanks for all the support this past year. Now let’s see what happens next….