I taught myself to crochet in 2010, starting with a bag, then moving on to a whole range of different projects including amigurumi. I already knew how to knit, having been taught when I was young by my nana. But crochet, I found, was so much easier. And, furthermore, it was so much more flexible.
I started designing my own patterns with amigurumi. As a book and Harry Potter tragic, it was no surprise that my first creatures were Harry Potter dolls (with no arms or legs. It was a thing). Before long, I’d branched out to Firefly and Glee and on one memorable occasion, a Rafael Nadal doll.
So, when I found out I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to design something to make, along with the hats, cardigans and blankets that I made following patterns. Designing appliques seemed the perfect solution – cotton yarn was easy to work with and washed well, and it looked great on the range of plain sleepers that were readily available and cheap this year.
While I designed a number of appliques – including a Spitfire plane – most of them came from different books. To be honest, several came from Harry Potter, including a Platform Nine and Three Quarters inspired set and a Golden Snitch inspired outfit. I also did several picture books, including Don”t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, The Cat in the Hat (both pictured) and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Crocheting like this was certainly a challenge to begin with. Before I could do anything, I needed to work out what images I could crochet. That was pretty easy with something like The Pigeon. I’d been drawing him in the classroom all last year, and knew that he was a pretty simple collection of shapes (I think the beak was the hardest part). The Cat in the Hat, on the other hand, was much harder, as the Cat himself, is made up of lots of lines going in different directions. I got around that by choosing to crochet his hat and neck tie instead – letting the imagination fill in the missing pieces.
Once I worked out the images, then I crocheted them, pretty much freestyle. ((I always tell myself off later, but I’m notoriously bad at remembering to write my patterns down, so if I wanted more than one of each image, I’d have to reconstruct it the hard way) I get my yarns from the local discount shop and from the nearby big craft shop and I’ve been pretty lucky with colour choice, but sometimes I’d had to adjust around that – it definitely shaped which Hungry Caterpillar foods I could feature. Once I’d finished crocheting, I sprayed the appliques with some water and ironed them flat, which gave them a really nice unified look. I then sewed them onto prewashed sleepers.
Unfortunately, I developed carpel tunnel syndrome about halfway into my pregnancy which halted the crochet pretty quickly. That went away when Squirm was born, but alas he takes up a lot of the time I used to spend crocheting! I have begun one new set of appliques – but you’ll have to wait and see which classic kids book I have been inspired by.
As the weather heats up here, I’m moving away from the sleepers towards short sleeve cotton onesies. I’m also intending to sew some of my own baby boy clothes, and add my appliques to those. I might even manage entire outfits inspired by books 🙂 I also intend to get my act together and write down some of my applique patterns, so other people can create their own crocheted attachments for their children’s (or their own) attire!