The Great Christmas Market

Crochet coasters by Once Upon a Whim

This November was my third year participating in The Great Christmas Market at Founders Park in Nelson and it was just as fun as ever! I was a bit apprehensive when I applied for it this year as I knew I would have a six-month old baby which would definitely change a lot of things… But I decided to bite the bullet and I’m so glad I did! I actually felt like this year was the most organised I’ve ever been despite having less time to get ready in. I read an article today about how if you want to be more productive, you should have kids! Now I know that sounds like the biggest joke of the century but I think it had something to do with the idea that the less time you have, the more efficient you’ll be (ironically I just skimmed the article so don’t quote me on that!). Anyway, I definitely found that to be the case this year when preparing for the market as I knew that I would have a lot less time on my hands so whenever I got the chance, I would pick up my hook and crochet furiously. As a result, I ended up having more stock than previous years! On that same note, another thing that helped with getting my stock ready was deciding on some items that were practical and pretty but didn’t take hours and hours to make. Anyone who knits or crochets knows that a lot (and I mean a lot!) of hours can go into just one item so I needed something that I would be able to churn out as quickly as possible. These cute chunky storage bowls were perfect for meeting that brief and proved to be very popular on the day! I mean, who doesn’t love a bit of t-shirt yarn?

Crochet storage bowls by Once Upon a Whim
This year I really wanted my stall to have a crisp, clean and uncluttered look so I enlisted my husband’s help to make some plywood shelving for my market display. I was so happy with the outcome and loved the overall look of my display!

Crochet market display by Once Upon a Whim
The other major help was having an extra pair of hands the day before and day of the market thanks to my brother’s girlfriend (check out her beautiful blog here). Mackenzie was the biggest help with practically everything from visual display to pretty price tags to best-sidekick-ever on the day itself. She even tackled some extremely rough and precarious terrain on our forage for wildflowers the day before! 

Crochet market display by Once Upon a WhimAll in all, the market was a great success. So many other wonderful stalls to check out run by such talented and creative New Zealand makers – I really did feel so honoured to be a part of it!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Advertisements

Ten must-follow crochet Instagram accounts 

I don’t know about you but I’m kind of obsessed with Instagram. I go on it literally every day (I’m not even going to tell you how many times…). Now before you judge, let me first explain that this has a lot to do with only having one hand free while breastfeeding my little one (apparently some women can cook, clean and even do the grocery shopping while feeding their baby? Unfortunately, I haven’t had those magical powers bestowed on me) which results in a lot of time spent browsing through all the apps on my phone. But Instagram is in no way simply a pretty boredom buster! I joined Instagram a few years ago and have found it to be a place of inspiration, creativity and beauty. I have met some lovely people and made some beautiful friendships. Those little white-framed squares allow a glimpse into other people’s minds and there is no end to the creativity and imagination out there. So bearing that in mind, I have compiled a list of ten must-follow crochet Instagram accounts (in no particular order!):

1. @lehandmade


Emilie from @lehandmade has one of the most beautiful aesthetics in the crochet (and knitting) world. She is the creator of the Agapito bunny amigurumi pattern that I am so obsessed with, and many more equally gorgeous designs!

2. @darlingbebrave


Megan is not only my ultimate #crochetgoals (I’m obsessed with her crochet basket pattern!) but she has also become a dear friend. We first connected over a year ago after I read her blog post about struggling to become pregnant. It really struck a chord with me and perfectly articulated everything I was going through at the time so I decided to send her a quick message and we haven’t stopped talking since then! We ended up getting pregnant within a month of each other and now get to share the joys (and mysteries!) of motherhood at the same time.

3. @miskunn


Beautiful textures, lots of delicious yarn, soft colour palettes and intricate designs…what more could you want?

4. @thecottonpear


This Aussie gal has an incredible feel for style and texture. Made from 100% recycled fabric cotton, her range includes bowls, clutches, bags and tassels in stunning colour palettes!

5. @crochetgirlgang (bonus: @potterandbloom and @steelandstitch)

The ultimate crochet inspiration account! Emma and Emma from @potterandbloom and @steelandstitch have come together to create a wonderful community of crochet lovers.  All with the aim of sharing projects and cheering on each other!

6. @heartfromhazel


Aptly described as Couch Candy, these beautifully luxurious and chunky pieces are made here in NZ and look like they belong in the pages of Vogue – major crochet envy!

7. @thestoryofamulberry


The most intricate and beautiful tapestry crochet I have ever seen – @thestoryofamulberry definitely takes it to the next level! This is the sort of work that you just sit and stare at because it is so incredible. Seriously. Just look at it.

8. @allaboutami

Stephanie from @allaboutami seems to have a never ending creative flow. She is constantly bringing out new projects and designs – each one as fun as the last!

9. @crochetbyredagape


Fresh, colourful and oh so pretty! @crochetbyredagape never fails to brighten my feed – and my day!

10. @littlehappygorgeous


The cutest amigurumi you ever did see! Perfectly styled to show off every piece in all its character-filled glory.
That really only skims the surface of the amazing crochet creatives out there. Hopefully you found a few new accounts to follow from that list! What are some of your favourite crochet Instagram accounts? Or are you a crocheter with your own account on Instagram? Please let me know in a comment below as I am always on the look out for more crochet goodness!!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

The perfect beanie pattern


I’ve tried a few beanie patterns in my time, searching for the perfect one. In my opinion, it needs to have a little slouch but not so much that you have to stand in front of the mirror to style it. It also needs to be seamless; I used to always make my beanies on straight needles and then sew the seams together – and I would end up so frustrated at how ugly it looked! Then I learnt about circular needles and all my problems were solved. 


I recently purchased this pattern from Ozetta and I’m officially in love. This beanie pattern is everything I was searching for! The pattern itself is easy to follow and the result is a beautifully chunky, perfectly shaped hat with just the right amount of slouch. It also works up incredibly quickly, so I’ve been on a bit of a knitting spree over the past week!


I purchased the pattern combo which came with instructions for smaller sizes so I could make an adorable matching set – how stunning is my daughter?! I’m totally obsessed!


(By the way, this post isn’t sponsored in any way – I just love this pattern!)

Life update!

hello-little-one

Wowee – September (almost October!) already! This year has really flown by, and so much has happened since my last post! For those of you who follow me on Instagram/Facebook, you will already know that our darling Brooke Aria has entered the world and completely transformed our lives. This motherhood thing is the most wonderful experience in the world and I honestly feel like I have finally come into my own. It is definitely the hardest thing I have ever done but I am blessed with the best husband in the world and we are absolutely loving learning about and figuring out the parenthood journey together, supporting each other, and just having the best of times with our little darling. Brooke is already four months old and she is changing so much all the time! (Go look at my Instagram page if you want to see a good dose of cheeky grins – seriously do! You won’t regret it!).

crocheting-with-baby

Towards the end of my pregnancy, I feel like I lost a bit of my crochet mojo and wasn’t particularly inspired with what I was making. I was hoping that I would have some time when I went on maternity leave, before our little babe arrived, to rediscover that passion but I finished work at 38 weeks and then little B decided to make her appearance a week later so I didn’t end up having much downtime at all! But now that I am past the blurred newborn days (seriously though. I barely remember anything that happened in the first 3 weeks of Brooke’s life), I feel like I have so much creativity and inspiration just bursting from me and I don’t have enough hours in the day to play around with all my ideas! At the same time, it’s almost as if I am managing to get more crochet and knitting done then before B came along – which definitely sounds crazy because omgoodness #mumlife! Sometimes my husband gets home from work and I’m like “wow what have I actually been doing all day?”. Babies are definitely all consuming! Nappies and breastfeeding and playing and going for walks and stopping them from crying and entertaining them and washing clothes and dishes and planning dinner (on a good day)…somehow the day just disappears! But because there are all these other demands on my time, as soon as  I get a bit of downtime (naptime is like the Holy Grail) I end up crocheting or knitting furiously and therefore feel like I somehow accomplish more. And right on cue, Baby B is starting to wake up from her afternoon nap now so stay tuned for some more posts about what I’ve been making lately (aside from the cutest, most adorable baby ever. Seriously. I know every parent says that about their child but honestly. THE CUTEST!).

knitting-with-baby
 

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Crochet Baby Blanket

Crochet Baby Blanket by Once Upon a Whim 1

I am so excited to finally share this finished baby blanket! I wrote a little bit of background on it in an earlier post but just to quickly recap, I started this blanket a few years ago, decided it would make the perfect baby blanket, so put it away until the time came that I could finish it off when I had a baby on the way. And that time is now here!! (Just under four months away to be exact! As you can see in the photo below, there are still quite a few things we need to buy before baby arrives…a cot mattress being high on the list!)

Crochet Baby Blanket on cot by Once Upon a Whim 1

I actually completed this blanket just after Christmas but we have been quite busy over the last wee while and I didn’t have a chance to take any photos of the blanket that would do it justice. Speaking of photos, my progress shots are rather limited as I started on the blanket so long ago and I didn’t really take any photos when working on it – sorry!

Crochet square

Ok, onto a few project details!

Yarn: I used 100% cotton yarn for this blanket. The pastel yarn is Moda Vera Jalap from Spotlight (it has been discontinued now which is SUCH a shame because I loved the range of soft pastel colours). The white yarn is one of my favourite yarns to work with and is called Moda Vera Bamboo Cotton – it has such a soft, luxurious feel to it and always looks so delicious when worked up!

Pattern: I looked all over Pinterest for inspiration for this square and to be perfectly honest, I can’t even remember which combination of patterns I ended up using. I definitely based it on the Sunburst Square crochet pattern but comparing my squares to a few others on Pinterest, it looks like I may have modified the number of stitches – it was such a long time ago, whoops! I have written out a basic explanation of what I did below but there is also a really great step-by-step picture tutorial here from Eda’s Crochet Room (just bear in mind I only did 12 repeats of the stitches instead of the 15 stated in Eda’s Crochet Room tutorial).

US Terminology
Special Stitches:
puff stitch = *YO, insert hook into specified stitch, pull loop back through* (3 times), YO, pull yarn through all 7 loops on the hook, chain 1 to lock in place.
cluster stitch = *YO, insert hook into specified stitch, pull loop back through, YO and pull through 2 loops only* 4 times, YO and pull yarn through all 5 loops on the hook, chain 2 to lock in place.

Round 1: With Colour A, work 12dc into magic ring.

Round 2: Join Colour B to any dc. Chain 2, work puff stitch into same stitch and then into each dc around. Close round with a sl st into the second starting chain, fasten off.

Round 3: Join main colour to any ch1 space of previous round. Chain 2, work cluster stitch into same ch1 space and each ch1 space around. Close round with a sl st into the second starting chain.

Round 4: Slip stitch into 2ch space from previous round. Ch4 (this counts as first trc), 2 trc into same 2ch space, chain 2 (this creates the corner space) 3 trc into same space. 
*3dc into next 2ch space, 3dc into next 2ch space, (3trc, 2ch, 3trc) into next 2ch space.* Repeat from * to * 2 more times but on the last time, instead of working instructions in ( ), just join with sl st to fourth chain of starting chain 4 to complete the round. (You should have four corners of (3trc, 2ch, 3trc) with 2 sets of 3dc on each side.)

Round 5 (this round isn’t shown in the above photo but is just a round of a simple granny square): Sl st into 2ch corner space. Chain 3 (counts as first dc), 2dc into same 2ch corner space, ch2, 3dc into same 2ch corner space. 
3dc into next space between 3dc groups from previous rounds. Work (3dc, 2ch, 3dc) into each corner space from previous round. You should have four corners of (3dc, 2ch, 3dc) with three groups of 3dc on each side. Join with sl st to third chain of starting chain 3. Fasten off.

Crochet Baby Blanket project details by Once Upon a Whim

Colour combo: I knew that I wanted the main colour of the blanket to be white with pops of colour in the centre of each square. The pastel colours were the perfect shades for what I wanted so I ended up choosing three contrast colours (pink, purple and green) and then combined the colours into as many different combinations as I could (as shown in above photo). I also did squares of single colours. I then crocheted equal amounts of each different square. These are the colour combos I had:

  1. Green and pink
  2. Pink and green
  3. Green and purple
  4. Purple and green
  5. Pink and purple
  6. Purple and pink
  7. Solid green
  8. Solid pink
  9. Solid purple

Once I had made enough squares for the size I wanted, it was just a matter of laying them all out on the floor and piecing them together in a seemingly random layout…I’m pretty happy with the overall effect!

Crochet Baby Blanket by Once Upon a Whim 3

Border: I umm-ed and aaah-ed for a while over what sort of border to finish it off with and in the end decided to go with a simple sc border. I did five rounds of sc with about 3 chains on each corner to keep it nice and flat, and then on the fifth round, I did 3sc into the corner space to finish it off. I was so tempted to go with a more detailed, lacy border but in the end decided (with a lot of welcome input from my husband!) that it didn’t really need any extra embellishments – and I think the simplicity of the design really enhances the overall effect! Also, a little note on joining the squares: I used a hook half a size bigger than the recommended size for the yarn to join them (using this technique here from Attic24 which is my preferred way of joining squares). Using the slightly bigger hook helps the blanket stay nice and flat by avoiding crocheting the squares together too tightly, thus preventing them from bunching.

I really love this blanket – even more so knowing that our little GIRL is going to be wrapped up looking all cute and adorable in it!! Yay!

Crochet Baby Blanket by Once Upon a Whim 2

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Things I wish I had known when I started to crochet…

Hello 2016! With the New Year comes a lot of new resolutions, plans and goals. If one of your goals is to learn a new craft/hobby and you want to try your hand at crochet then this is the perfect post for you! I’ve been crocheting since early 2012 and am entirely self-taught (thanks YouTube!) so don’t be discouraged if you don’t know someone who can teach you. There are wonderful blogs, tutorials and videos out there on the internet which can give you all the help you need! This post isn’t designed to teach you any crochet stitches but rather to let you in on a few tips and bits of information that will hopefully save you a lot of time and/or frustration – all things that I learnt the hard way! All you experienced crocheters out there will already know this info but there might be something you would add to the list or remember learning the hard way when you started out?

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

1. US vs UK terms
Ok this is probably the single most important thing you need to know when starting out with crochet – especially if you’re learning off the internet! There are two different “languages” when it comes to crochet stitches and reading patterns. The confusing thing is that they actually use the same terms but they mean different things. What?! I know. My lightbulb moment came when I was making my first ever project – a blanket made up of lots of different square designs. I was learning how to do a stitch from a YouTube tutorial and couldn’t figure out why this one square was double the size of the other ones I had somehow managed to make. Before I go any further, check out the comparison between the two terminologies:

US                                                                         UK
ch = chain                                                          ch = chain
sl st = slip stitch                                              sl st = slip stitch
sc = single crochet                                          dc = double crochet
hdc = half double crochet                             htr = half treble
dc = double crochet                                        tr = treble
tr = treble                                                           dtr = double treble

SOO confusing right? Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it! So how do you know if a pattern uses US or UK terminology? If you’re lucky, it’ll tell you at the start! Most patterns should state at the beginning what terminology they are written in. If you have found the pattern on a website and it doesn’t tell you straightaway, have a look for the origin of the site but bear in mind that this isn’t foolproof as some countries don’t have a strict rule, e.g. Australian and New Zealand sites will vary in what they use, and you might even find that someone in the UK uses US terms for whatever reason, or vice versa! Another way to figure it out is to look over the whole pattern and see if you can spot any ‘sc’ stitches. If it has ‘sc’ in the pattern, it’s US terminology. But just to be confusing, don’t automatically assume that a pattern without ‘sc’ stitches is written in UK terms – it could just mean that the pattern doesn’t use that particular stitch. Have I totally confused you now? Hopefully not! If you’re just starting out with crochet, don’t freak out. Pick one of the two terminologies and stick with it until you are confident with your stitches. If you find a pattern that isn’t in the terminology you know, go through and write it out, “translating” the stitches using the table above (or any other that you find on the internet). You might be happy with sticking to that method but I would recommend eventually becoming familiar with both as it makes life a lot easier – and boosts your crochet confidence – knowing you can work off either version of a pattern!

Ok that first point was a lot longer than I anticipated! My next few points are just little tips which should help make your life a bit easier.

2. Check the dye lot on yarns/hang onto labels
This is something that once again I learned the hard way. I was working on one of my earlier projects and ran out of the yarn I was using. No biggie, I thought, I’ll just pop out to the shop and get some more. Except it wasn’t quite that straightforward…I found the yarn I needed and started filling my basket when I suddenly realised that it looked like I had two slightly different shades in my basket! I started pouring over the label, trying to see if it had the colour name written on it anywhere. The only thing I could find was something called “dye lot” followed by a few numbers. I checked it against a label from one of the other balls of yarn and sure enough, the numbers didn’t match. So I’d figured out that there could be a slight variation in batches of yarn but what I didn’t know was what version I was using at home. This meant I had to go home, find a stray piece of yarn, go back to the shop and try to match it against the ones on the shelf. How to avoid this big rigmarole? When you start a project, snip a couple of inches off the start of the yarn and tie it around the label. Keep it with your project so that if you ever need more yarn, you can take the label with you and check that you are buying the right dye lot! (The reason for tying the yarn to the label is so that it doesn’t get confused with any other labels/colours from the same brand that you may be using with the same project).

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

 

3. Stitch markers
These are incredibly useful for when you are starting to learn how to crochet as it will take a while to recognise the different stitches. Think of stitch markers as your new best friends. You can use them to mark the first chain of a round, mark various stitches throughout a round so you can remind yourself which one is which, or use them for keeping track of how many stitches/rows you have done so you don’t have to start counting from zero every time. Stitch markers aren’t just for beginners though! I use them all the time when working something in the round as they really help keep track of where you are in a pattern.

4. Magic ring/loop
One technique that you will undoubtedly come across in various patterns is the magic ring or magic loop. This technique replaces chaining a certain number of stitches and joining them with a slip stitch to create a circle when starting a project that is worked in the round such as crochet squares or any type of amigurami (crochet toys/shapes). This is by far my preferred technique for starting a project in the round, particularly amigurami, as it means that you don’t end up with an open hole in the centre of the crochet. I never use the chaining method anymore for starting a project in the round! The magic ring or magic loop can be a little tricky to get your head around at first but once you have mastered it, I promise you won’t go back! There are a couple of different ways to do it:

This is the technique I use.

But I have since taught a few people how to do the magic loop and found that this version is slightly easier for them to get the hang of!

Hopefully this has given you a few helpful tips for learning how to crochet! Is there anything else you would add to this list or have questions about?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Baby time!

Ok so it’s been a while (again) and lots has happened since my last blog post. Hopefully everyone had a wonderful Christmas with those nearest and dearest. Next up, New Years! I have to get another post in before the end of the year, right?

So, big news time. It’s not really “news” anymore because anyone who follows my Facebook, Instagram or knows me in real life already knows that my husband and I are expecting a precious little new life in May next year! I’m 18 weeks along and this is just the most exciting, happiest of times! I won’t go into lots of detail because otherwise this would turn into a ridiculously long, noone-can-be-bothered-to-read-till-the-end post but suffice it to say that I have wanted to be a mum for as long as is socially acceptable and my husband and I had been trying to get pregnant for almost two years (fertility medication, blood tests, other tests, and were even told it was time to start thinking about IVF!) before this little one decided to come along. So to say that we are overjoyed is a bit of an understatement!12362894_10208430363220312_5899158217743026477_o

One of the (many, many!) things I am excited about is the fact that I can finally get back to working on a pretty little blanket that I started a few years ago. I had completed all the squares and started piecing them together when I realised that it would make a beautiful baby blanket, so I had this idealistic notion to put it away until I was pregnant – fantasising about the day when I could work on it with a little life growing inside me. And that time has finally arrived!! I pulled it out the other day (after finishing lots of orders for little crochet bunnies after The Great Christmas Market in November!) and was pleasantly surprised to find that I had made a lot more progress on it than I remembered. There are only about five rows to finish joining together, lots of ends to sew in, and then the final touch of adding a border! I plan on having it finished in the next week or so and will put up a more detailed post about it when it’s all done. Here’s a little sneak peek in the meantime! xx12371098_407334909476350_5587226869901572345_o
Follow my blog with Bloglovin