Thursday, May 14, 2020

Crochet JiaoZhi or Gyoza (basically a dumpling) - with link to pattern

Hubby has been working really hard this week and he's seen some grim scenes at the hospital which has worn him down.  I know there's a real sense of the curve flattening in most countries but the situation in hospitals are still very serious.  There's not much I can do to help with the crisis on the front lines but I have hook and can crochet!  So will continue my "leave crochet food in hospital pantry to see if anyone notices" campaign. 

I managed to find a bamboo steamer and put my Xiao Long Baos in it.  Thing is, the steamer had two levels, so I decided to make some Jiao Zhis too.  Also pork filled deliciousness but pan fried or steamed and these often have a bit of veg in them.  Both very popular dim sum dishes and hopefully another fun surprise for hubby's colleauges.  


If you fancy making some I got the pattern from genuinemudpie, she also has a pattern for soy sauce so definitely go check them out! I made mine smaller so I did a magic ring and 6 sts start and reduced the edging to 2hdc rather than 3.  

I also gave them silly looking faces so they're either grimacing or smiling in a serial-killer-at-the-weekends kinda way.  
For the final touch I put a bit of makeup on their cheeks (I literally used a bit of foundation) so they look pan-kissed and slightly sizzled. 

For the ones I did in cream yarn I gave them pink cheeks. 


Same as the Xiao Long Baos I used: 
  • Crown 4-ply acrylic yarn in white/cream;
  • Pink and Brown embroidery thread;
  • Polyester filling;
  • 3mm eyes and 
  • brooch pin.
Here's my son again (after bribing him with screen-time) modelling the Gyoza pin. 

Will put a few on my Etsy shop too if anyone fancies some for brunch x 

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Crochet Xiao Long Bao (pork dumplings) - Beginner Friendly Pattern and tutorial

Xiao Long Bao = Meat Dumplings

If you've never tried, these dumplings (the real ones) are killer comfort food.  They're made with bits of jellied broth that melt when steamed so when you bite into them you get the yummy filling and a mouthful of meaty gravy.  It does mean though you need to bite into them really carefully else you'll squirt a dose of boiling hot gravy onto your face.  Not cool. 

Crochet Snacks for Front-line Staff

I've been looking for small projects to make for my husband's colleagues (they're frontline medical staff).  Hub leaves them in the pantry with a 'take me home' note as a mini surprise for anyone looking for a cup of tea.  I can't make PPE but hoping something silly like these will put a smile on their faces.  

Beginner Friendly Pattern 

So my inspiration came from an old Taiwanese book called 'Fun Fun Zoo' (rough translation) where there was a small dumpling with a pained expression.  It looked so cute I decided to make lots of them with different expressions that are kinda cute and weird at the same time.  
My version is adapted from the book.  It is more tapered at the top so they look more bao like - and there's no need to sew the top closed because the last round are all decreases and makes a cute well like the real baos.  

It's a good pattern for beginners since the bao is basically a ball.  You'll need to know how to do a magic ring, single crochet and increase and decrease. 

  • Crown 4-ply acrylic yarn in white/cream;
  • Pink and Brown embroidery thread and large tapestry needles;
  • Polyester filling;
  • 5mm eyes;
  • Brooch pin;
  • Blusher and 
  • Scissors and glue.
Tip: You can use any type of yarn so long as it's not too soft so the bao will hold its shape.  I used an acrylic 4-ply yarn because I had some lying around.  The only difference may be the size.  I would avoid very thick (chunky) yarn if you don't want the bao to be too big. 


The bao is made using joined rounds. Don't forget to slip stitch to close and chain 1 before beginning the next round. 

R1: Using white or cream yarn, do a magic ring and do 8 single crochets (sc) into the ring, tighten and join to form a closed circle. (8 sts total)

R2: Work 8 single crochet increases (sc inc) x 8 (16 sts) 

R3: (1 sc then 1 sc inc) x 8 (24)

R4 to R 7 (i.e. the next 4 rows): 24 sc (24)

R8: (4 sc then 1 single crochet decrease (sc dec)) x 4 (20)

R9: (3 sc then sc dec) x 4 (16) 

R10: (2 sc then sc dec) x 4 (12)

You should stuff the bao now before closing the top. 

R11: Work 6 sc dec. (6) Either weave in yarntail or use it to sew on brooch pin. 

Here are the steps with pictures if you need some visuals: 

R1: Using white or cream yarn, do a magic ring and do 8 single crochets (sc) into the ring, tighten and join to form a closed circle. (8 sts total)

R2: Work 8 single crochet increases (sc inc), you should now have 16 stitches. 
Tip: Single crochet increase is where you work 2 stitches into one stitch from the previous row. 

R3: (1 sc then 1 sc inc) x 8, you should now have 24 stitches in total. 

R4 to R 7 (i.e. the next 4 rows): 24 sc.  Because there are no increases, you'll see the sides beginning to curl up. 

R8: (4 sc then 1 single crochet decrease (sc dec)) x 4 (20)
Tip: single crochet decrease is where you begin one single crochet, but before you finished by pulling yarn through two loops, you start another stitch, yarn over, then pass through three loops. It stitches two previous stitches into one. 

R9: (3 sc then sc dec) x 4 (16) 

R10: (2 sc then sc dec) x 4 (12)

You should stuff the bao now before closing the top. 

R11: Work 6 sc dec. (6)  

Cut off yarn and thread yarntail either along some stitches for security or straight into the bao, or if you want to make the bao into a pin: 

Use the yarntail to stitch on the brooch pin. 

Using a tapestry needle sew on expression or glue on plastic eyes then you'll just need to sew on mouth.  For the side-eye I used a straight stitch and a french knot. 

Hope you have fun making these!  They're pretty quick to whip up and make great gifts.  


I made some as pins and some as key rings.  I've had a few requests so will put a few on my Etsy shop.  Here's the son modelling his fave bao. 

Next week - another dim sum: Jaiozhi

Friday, May 8, 2020

Staying home is helpful, but I'd rather punch Coronavirus in the face. (free pattern)

Dear Coronavirus,

You suck.  Because of you I've been stuck at home with both kids and have to do HBL (hell based learning).  It's not like I don't have anything else to do... oh wait - I actually don't because you're the reason my day job has ground to a halt too.  At least that's given me a bit more time once the kids are in bed to crochet.  So I've crocheted a physical version of you with a dumb smile so I can punch you. In the face. Repeatedly.

Edited to add.  Some of you have asked for the pattern so here it is.  It's basically a ball with red bits.  I've written it out for ease: 

Virus spore [in grey yarn]

R1 Magic ring, 6sc into ring 
R2 sc inc x 6 (12)
R3 1sc, sc inc x 6 (18)
R4 2sc, sc inc x 6 (24)
R5 3sc, sc inc x 6 (30) 
R6 4sc, sc inc x 6 (36)
R7 5sc, sc inc x 6 (42) 
R8 6sc, sc inc x 6 (48)

R9 to R13 sc 48 (48) 

R14 6sc, sc dec x 6 (42)
R15 5sc, sc dec x 6 (36)
R16 4sc, sc dec x 6 (30)
R17 3sc, sc dec x 6 (24)
R18 2sc, sc dec x 6 (18)
R19 1sc, sc dec x 6 (12)

Stuff the ball with polyester filling. 

R20 sc dec x 6 (6)

Sew the 6 stitches closed. 

Red spikes [apparently they're proteins]
Make about 18. 

ch 6, sl st into 2nd ch from hook (this forms the first triangular spike), ch 3 then sl st into 2nd ch from hook (2nd spike), ch 3 then sl st into 2nd ch from hook (final spike),  sl st 3 to form the stalk. Leave a long yarn tail to sew onto the grey ball.

Probably easiest in chart form: 

The yellow/orange/white bits.  Sew randomly, spread out on grey ball. 

Then with orange embroidery thread (using the whole 6 strands), sew on 2 french knots close to each other onto virus spore. 

With white fluffy yarn, sew on one loose french knot. 

With pale yellow embroidery thread, sew on a bigger french knot (I wound the thread around the needle about 6 times) onto virus spore. 

Finally, sew on with black yarn or thread, eyebrows and a stupid smile. 

Add on safety eyes.  I placed them between rows 9 and 10, 5 stitches apart. 

Have fun punching! 

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

How To Sew Little Felt Animals - by Sue Quinn

  • 5 animal patterns (Rabbit, Squirrel, Bear, Mole, Mouse) 
  • 2-3 clothes pattern for each animal 
  • Animals made using wool felt
  • Intermediate difficulty
  • Took me 8-9 hours to make the rabbit and a dress
  • Rabbit turned out super cute. Especially with the moving joints.

You can buy the book here
The author Sue Quinn is a pro.  You can tell she's been making teddies all her life (plus it says so on the book jacket...) because the patterns are really cleverly constructed. It does use cotter pins to make movable joints, which looked daunting at first as I've never used them before, but I'm soooo glad I tried because it actually makes doll construction easier.

There are 5 animal patterns (Rabbit, Squirrel, Bear, Mole, Mouse) and 7 clothes patterns that can fit all the animals in the book.  Which means you can make a whole wardrobe for each of these animals which was one of the main reasons why I love it.  There is NOTHING cuter than little animals in clothes. Especially these classic looking outfits.

My finished rabbit was 7 inches/ 18 cm tall and fits beautifully in the palm of my hands :)
I used 100% wool felt because it gives the best results.  I used to think using felt to make anything is a waste of time because it'll just rip or tear or fluff up at the surface.  And I was right - if you use cheap quality felt.  Good quality wool felt or wool blend felt is a gorgeous material and easy to work with.  However I must stress, because there's quite a bit of pulling and stuffing with these animals, if you use anything less than 30% wool blend felt the seams might tear and rip.  If you're lucky and are in the US, try the National Non-Wovens wool blend. They're very good.

I do prefer books with patterns that are already at 100% because that means less phaffing getting it to the right size.  I didn't mind these patterns though because the book did the math for me and told me to magnify at 133%. I get super annoyed with patterns that make you do the math and just tells you how much they've shrunk. Not at all helpful.

If like me you've only ever made felt animals that have arms and legs sewn to the body (like the equally cute and beautifully dressed Maggie Rabbit Softie by Alicia Paulson - which happens to be free right now so go grab it!) the sight of cotter joint pins might scare you but it's actually easier than you think.  Plus there are plenty of pictures to show you how to do it. 

You'll need cotter pins (or split pins) in the right size.  I didn't. So had to get the husband to bend some strong wire into shape.

Husband-made cotter pin and cardboard disc

The pin head and discs are put into the rabbit head before sewing the rabbit neck closed, with the pin ends poking out.
They're then poked into the rabbit body between the shoulders.   
From the inside of the rabbit body, discs are put onto the pin ends before the pin ends are curled, to keep the discs in place.
The finished head will stay on nicely and will be able to turn.

The arms and legs are first sewn shut then a slit is cut into the inside to insert stuffing and the cotter pin.  This is genius because it means no turning (the only parts that need turning are the rabbits ears) meaning the felt is kept nice and unwrinkled. 
I found this method much easier than turning, stuffing and hand sewing closed.  Thanks Sue Quinn for the best tip ever.

Another pro tip from Sue Quinn for the rabbit is to needle felt on a tail.  This is not necessary and I'm guessing unless you have, through craft obsession, hoarded a craft shop in your bedroom, you wouldn't want to get a felting kit just for the tail.  A wool yarn pom pom may have done as well.  Plus side with needle felting the tail means you don't have to sew the tail on and can stab it directly to the rabbit butt.  The result is also quite cool.  Super fluffy. 

The animals are really cute, the patterns are well designed to give pro results without pro skills. 
AND THE CLOTHES are fab so you can dress them in little Victorian outfits. 

This book is for BRAVE BEGINNERS only.  Also requires a bit of kit if you're not already a teddy bear addict.  Some of the less common tools you'll need:
- Awl
- Cotter pins
- Felting needle
- Wool roving
- Glass eyes (I ended up embroidering mine)
-Tiny buttons

Fab. Buy it. And some cotter pins.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Mini Minion Keyring Crochet Pattern

I say minion though he really is just an elongated yellow and blue pill plus eye!

This is a relatively simple pattern as I've cheated and used felt for the fiddly bits.  The only difficulty is with the legs since they're formed from a tight 4 stitches into a magic ring.  Other than that this is a quick pattern to stitch up as presents if you've minion crazy friends (or kids in my case!).

For the prototype I used Patons Regal 4 ply cotton and a 2.2mm hook but I've used embroidery thread before when I've nothing else to hand.  The pattern will still work so long as you adjust the size of the felt eye and the google. 

You'll need: 
Small amounts of crochet cotton in yellow, blue, black and grey;
Felt in black and white;
Tapestry and sewing needles;
Black sewing thread;
Polyester stuffing; and
A key ring (optional).

Start first with the body:
It's worked from the bum up ;) and is worked in joined rounds (i.e. each round begins with a chain stitch and ends with a slip stitch joining the last and first stitches together). 

R1: [In blue] Magic ring, 6sc into ring (6)
R2: inc x 6 (12)
R3: *(sc, inc)* x 6 (18)
R4: *(2sc, inc)* x 6 (24)
R6: 24sc (24)

R7: [Change to yellow] (see vid if you need help with changing colours) 24sc (24)
R15: 24sc (24)
R16: *(2sc, dec)* x 6 (18)
R17: *(sc, dec)* x 6 (12)
Stuff body with filling before closing up in next row.
R18: 6dec (6), leave a long yarn tail, thread through front loops to close up. (See vid if you need help with closing up).

For the arms, you can work out where you want them to be on the body, then sticking pins in to mark the positions. For my minion I decided to work the arms between rows 11 and 12, 11 sts apart.


R1: [In yellow] 8ch (8)
Hook onto body using sl st (as shown in vid)

R2: sl st into second ch from hook, then work another 7sl sts along the ch back to starting st, cut off yarn tail.

For the hands we switch to felt. Cut 2 thin strip of black felt to wrap over the end of the arm as gloves.  For me, my arm measures around 4mm wide so my black strip was around 7mm wide and 1cm long.  Measure your arms to make sure the strip fits your minion.

Fold strip in half and sew onto arm as shown.

The legs can be a bit fiddly but they give the best effect. You have to make sure you're crocheting up vertically from a magic ring of 4 stitches. It gets cramped in there but so long as you make sure you're going upwards properly you're fine!

Magic ring, 4sc in ring.
R1: magic ring, 4sc in ring (4)
R4: 4sc (4), end leaving a long yarn tail to sew legs onto body.
The feet are also made with felt.  Cut a long piece of black felt 7mm wide.  Use strip to wrap around the foot. Sew the strip closed around leg and onto leg by passing the needle through the leg a couple of times too then cut off excess as shown.

Wrap black strip around leg, then sew closed.

Pass the needle through the leg too to secure the strip onto leg.

Now you're ready for the eye.  Once you're stuffed your body you should have a fair idea how big the eye should be. These measurements worked for me but yours will depend on your minion's finished size.

Cut a circle 1.5cm in diameter in white felt and a circle 5mm in diameter in black felt.

For the eye goggle strap, cut another strip of black felt 7mm wide and 12cm long.

The goggle itself will again depend on the size of your eye. Work the first row of ch sts first, then measure it around the eye to make sure it wraps exactly the circumference of your white eye piece. For my minion I needed 14 scs.

R1: 15ch (15)
R2: starting from second ch from hook, 14sc (14). Eng leaving long yarn tail.

Measure the goggle piece to make sure it goes around the eye.  Sew the end to the beginning of the row to make it into a circle.

Make sure your goggle row 1 goes around the white of the eye just so.
You'll need 2 bibs with straps: 

You'll need 2 of these, bibs with one strap each.

R1: [In blue] ch7 (7)
R2: starting from second ch from hook, 6sc (6)
R3: ch 1, turn, 6sc (6), then 10ch leaving a long yarn tail for sewing onto body. 


Sew legs to body.  For my minion I positioned them between rows 3 and 4, 3 sts apart.

Wrap eye goggle strap around the head above the arms. Sew closed (you can also glue it on if you liked).

Sew or glue black felt eye piece onto white eye piece, then glue or sew white eye piece onto eye strap on body.  Sew the goggle piece (now circular) onto the eye.

Sew bib onto body between rows 6 and 7.
Sew first bib piece onto front of body between rows 6 and 7, fasten off.  Then sew second bib piece onto back of body also between rows 6 and 7, fasten off too.  Then using the yarn tail from the line of ch sts from the front bib piece, sew the strap to the back piece at the corner, then take your needle through the body and sew the strap securely to the minion's shoulder, just above the arm.  Do the same for the strap from the back piece.

Sewing strap from back piece to corner of front bib.

Passing needle through the body, to secure strap onto shoulder.

See stitch on shoulder securing strap.

Using black cotton yarn (or embroidery thread), sew on mouth.

And you're done!

Crochet JiaoZhi or Gyoza (basically a dumpling) - with link to pattern

Hubby has been working really hard this week and he's seen some grim scenes at the hospital which has worn him down.  I know there's...