Thursday, 17 November 2016

A change is coming...

I don't blog often but some of you have noticed we have been very quiet for the past few months on Instagram and YouTube. We have been very busy, and time just flew by. So please let me explain why...

The good news is we're not going anywhere. But the bad news (for me at least) is...we're moving!

We have outgrown our current 4 bedroom home some time 10 years ago, but there's never been a good time to think about moving. With 5 growing kids (and our dolls collection) you can imagine just how squeezed we all  began to feel :) it was high time to bite the bullet and do it.

So this summer, I have taken a hard decision, after lots of heartache, crying and deliberation, to put our current house for sale. That involved lots of decluttering and packing everything up  & putting into storage, That meant that all the kids toys, dolls, doll houses and my vast collection of yarn and crafting supplies had to go, so the house can be made "presentable" to potential buyers. Believe it or not, this took about 3 months to prepare the house for sale, including total repaint, Finally, it was ready, but in the meantime we missed out on a couple of properties that I really loved. Generally, the end of the year is not a good time to move house, so I thought it will take ages for our house to sell, whilst we can keep looking for our dream house...

Well, we must have done a good job, because after just 2 viewings and 1 week on the market, we had an offer on our house, and accepted it. Yayy! But now we had to find a new house, fast. We were hoping for a modern detached house closer to our eldest girls' high school, with a larger garden and at least extra bedroom, so not all kids will have to share..

Sadly, the dream house could not be found on our tight budget, so we have to compromise. Heavily. Which I am not happy about. But there's nothing else. And I did not fancy renting out with 5 kids in tow. So with a heavy heart we've put an offer in for a semi detached in the middle of the city, with more or less same size garden as ours. And same number of bedrooms. So we're not gaining anything in terms of space, other than being closer to the girls' school. So at least they are happy as they're daily commute to school with be cut down from 1 hour to about 10 minutes.

Personally, I can't see myself living in a big city - we currently live in a small leafy town, with lots of country walks, so I am crying just thinking about it. The kids are quite excited though so I guess there's no chickening out now. However, I did warn them that I am not planning on staying in the city for more than 10 years, so we've be moving again, and it's not a "forever home".

On a plus side, the new house is a beautiful period / Victorian semi with tall ceilings, and some original features, including an old fashion kitchen & pantry. so I'm hoping we can improve our cooking & baking skills...The house is generally in a great condition, as the current owner has restored lots of features, but it still has potential for improvement (and crafting). It does feel darker and smaller than our current house though, (and colder, so I'm crocheting extra blankets for us, like mad). It will also need some structural work like adding a window - there's absolutely no views to the garden at all - I don't know why Victorian houses were build like that :( And it need a second bathroom, which our large family really needs. I will definitively need to brighten up & fix it asap as it won't help my depression living in a dark space...

So because of all this house moving "drama", I have been very very sad since all the dolls had to be put away into storage, and I miss them terribly. Moreover, I fear that it may spell the end of our big collection, as I am 99.9% our new house will not have enough space for all the current dolls. And I need to have space for the future dolls AG releases (still did not get a chance to add Leah and Melody to our collection...). So whilst this whole moving experience is a sad news for me, it may be good news for some, especially if you ever asked me if I was planning to sell some of our dolls - there is a very high chance that I will have to. But I reserve the final decision once we're actually in the new house, had a chance to unpack and settle down - then I have let you know if and when I will be putting some of our collection for sale...

In the mean time, please bear with us - since everything is packed away, it's hard to do any photos or videos, but I will keep you informed how the move is going. So please keep your fingers crossed for us that everything goes well...

x AC

Friday, 15 April 2016

My One Week "Spring Cupcakes" Attic24 inspired Cosy Striped Crochet Blanket in Scheepjes Stone washed XL

My One Week "Spring Cupcakes" Attic24 inspired Striped Crochet Blanket in Scheepjes Stone washed XL

For anyone who follows my crafting journey (mainly crochet) on my second Instagram account - @craftsadore you may have seen I've been working on a "Spring Cupcakes" Attic24-inspired cosy stripes crochet blanket for one of my daughters for the past week.

My one week Cosy Cupcakes Stripe Blanket from Lucy Attic24 blog free crochet pattern

Well, today it's I'm super excited to have finished it, and I can't even express how happy I am with it (I honestly couldn't stop smiling all the way through making it :D), for two main reasons:

Firstly, normally the multi coloured blankets are outside my comfort zone, but these Scheepjes Stone wash XL colours are soft and "my kind" of colours - most of my yarn for this blanket came from the Mandala Madness Crochet-Along official pack, but for some reason the colour choice for that project did not agree with me... so I decided to do Mandala Madness in my own colours....and since I had all this beautiful yarn left in my stash, I wasn't sure what to do with it...until I lined all the balls up in a semi-coordinated colour sequence (pink, brown and yellow go very well together)... and my daughter wholeheartedly approved...I was super excited too - they just go so beautifully together...

Secondly, if you EVER tried to crochet a full size single bed blanket (rather than a baby size one) you'll know it takes A LONG time, a lot of hours and sometimes it may take weeks, months or even a year to finish one. Since I've got 5 kids (and myself and my hubby) to make blankets for this year (UK weather is mainly grey and damp so blankets are essential to snuggle under whilst watching Netflix etc. :))...I don't really want to spend a year to finish one - I need a FAST blanket, because the minute I finish one, the next kid  in line is asking - "Mum, are you going to do mine next...." no time to waste :) 

Therefore imagine my excitement when this blanket have been finished in under a week!!. Disclaimer - I am a full time mum, and when I start a project, I usually stay up well past midnight to work on a more sane / normal crocheter may take a bit more time than a week ...but still, it's much faster than months or even years.

The reason why it's so fast is because I've used Scheepjes Stone washed XL yarn, which is "Aran" weight and works up much faster than a DK yarn that is normally recommended for this "Attic 24" striped blanket (free pattern on Lucy's blog). Having previously done a "granny stripes" blanket for my other daughter, also from Lucy's Attic24 blog, in Stylecraft Special DK, which took over a month of long hours to complete, I will now stick with Aran weight in the future... although if you're looking for a cost-effective blanket, Acylic is cheaper than cotton (Stonewash is mixture of cotton and acrylic) and you could also hold 2 strands of DK double...

Cosy crochet blanket in cosy colours and cosy yarn

For anyone who's interested in making one of those Lucy Attic24 cosy crochet blankets, I'd like to share the following top 3 tips / improvements to her otherwise super relaxing free crochet pattern:

1. Chainless Foundation Row

Start with a chainless foundation row instead of chaining individual chains. It is much faster and much better at producing a nice foundation row - there's lots of great YouTube videos if you don't know how to do it. For projects where more than 20 chains are required - I ALWAYS substitute it with chainless foundation row instead. It's a life and time saver skill. Also, since that way you're doing 2 rows in 1, you can tell straightaway how wide your project is going to be, instead of waiting to do the second row...

Chainless foundation row - much faster than chaining 200ch!

2. The Right Yarn & The Right Hook

DK yarn will work up slower than Aran, and Chunky is obviously even faster. For Scheepjes Stonewash DK the recommended hook is 5-5.5mm. I have recently learned that I am a tight crocheter, so in order to loosen my tension I have used 6mm hook for this project - the result is a super soft blanket I am super happy with. Check your tension - each colour stripe aka a 2-row DC (treble in UK) crochet stripe is about 1" in my blanket

My first Attic24 granny stripe blanket turned out too short (photo below) and I had to do extra week's work to add extra stripes to make it longer :( Now I know I should have used larger hook and "lifted" my golden loop a bit more...

My Granny Stripe blanked in Lucy Attic24 sunny pack DK Stylecraft yarn took ages

3. Chainless Row Start aka Starting Stitches and Standing Stitches

Since working on some crochet-along projects I've learned to use Standing and Starting Stitches - great technique if you don't want to have "thin" stitches that chaining 3 at the beginning of the row creates - best YouTube Tutorial imho is by moogly blog (she also does left-handed versions of her tutorials, which I appreciate very much) It took me a while to master it, but it's so much faster and neater so I do recommend you give it a go.

And every time you start a new row, start with a Standing Stitch instead of chaining. Great tutorial on here and again, on moogly blog YT channel.

My Cosy Stripe Blanket Ta-dah moment

So finally, for anyone who's interested on big my "Spring Cupcake" Attic-24 inspired blanket is, the colour sequence and the number of balls of Scheepjes Stonewash XL used (roughly, as I wasn't keeping a detailed yardage count), here is my "ta-dah" moment :)


Using chainless foundation row method, I did enough dc stitches to end up with 46 "granny clusters" of "doubles" (UK trebles) AND + 1 so a total of 139 dc stitches (you NEED that extra 1 stitch so the next row works out properly when you start your granny clusters as per Lucy's pattern notes). Using 6mm hook I ended up with a 112cm/44" wide blanket. You need to do as many stitches as you need to reach the required width (total number of stitches must be divisible by 3) but remember to add that extra 1 stitch.

Finished size 63" by 44" including border (160x112cm) unblocked (I don't bother blocking striped blankets) which is big enough for single sized UK bed (as modelled by a spare matters in the kids playroom :)). If you want it longer, you could add extra stripes, but I've run out of yarn :)
Single size bed cosy striped crochet blanket

Colour Sequence

My colour sequence was largely governed by the fact that I needed to use some yarn from the Mandala Madness 2016 Cal pack, and I also had some single balls of other Stonewash XL colours -  the break up the monotony of brown-yellow-pink and which my daughter calls "sprinkles" in our "Spring Cupcakes" blanket colour design :)

Cosy stripes colour sequence

(note: after the first 33 colour stripes, the colours repeat themselves, ending with brown, making a total of 67 colour stripes (each stripe is made up of 2 rows)

1 Brown Agate aka Brown
2 Rose Quartz aka Pink
3 Corundum Ruby aka Ruby
4 Coral
5 Citrine aka Yellow
6 Brown
8 Pink
9 Green Agate
10 Citrine
11 Ruby
12 Pink
13 Brown
14 Citrine
15 Green Agate
16 Amazonite
17 Ruby
18 Pink
19 Brown
20 Citrine
21 Green Agate
22 Amazonite
23 Yellow Jasper
24 Lemon Quartz
25 Pink
26 Ruby
27 Boulder Opal
28 Citrine
29 Pink
30 Garnet
31 New Jade
32 Canada Jade
33 Citrine

Start the sequence again from 1 Brown as no. 34, and finish with Brown as last stripe no. 67.

Yarn Used

Each colour stripe (i.e. 2 rows) takes about half a ball. So you will need:

1 x New Jade
1 x Canada Jade
1 x Boulder Opal
1 x Coral
1 x Yellow Jasper
1 x Lemon Quartz
1 x Carnelian (or Red Jasper)
6 x Brown Agate
6 x Citrine
7 x Rose Quartz (Pink)
4 x Corundum Ruby
3 x Green Agate
3 x Amazonite

total 36 balls, you will have a small amount left

Weaving in the Ends

I leave weaving all the ends in before I start the border. There's not as many to do as there would be if you were making it in DK yarn, and I don't like to stop crocheting in the middle of the project. It takes the same time, weather you do it after each row or at the end of the project, but imho it takes faster to do it at the end as you get "into the rhythm" rather than switching between a hook or a needle. In the end, it took me half a day to wave in the ends...

Whilst I love Scheepjest Stone wash XL yarn, the only criticism I have so far, is the huge number of knots in the actual balls, which I had to cut off, which meant extra tails to weave in randomly in the middle of the stripes of my blanket.

Border aka Cherry on the Cake

For my blanket border, I opted for the "Spot on Edging" aka linen stitch from Lucy's blog, with the modification of starting with a standing sc stich (dc UK terms) instead of chaining - so much easier!

Base Round - in pink - just over 1 ball used
Round 1 - in brown - half a ball used
Round 2 - in carnelian - half a ball used
Round 3 - in brown - half a ball used

Hope that helps if you're considering making one of Lucy's Atttic24 crochet cosy stripes blankets, but much faster, in Aran weight yarn :)

Attic24 cosy stripe blanket in Aran Scheepjes Stonewash XL yarn

Many thanks !
AC @ CraftsAdore (my crafting Instagram @craftsadore2)

All our Custom American Girl Dolls

All our Custom American Girl Dolls

For the very first time - all our custom American Girl dolls in one video! As one of my daughter briefly explains how each custom AG doll was made (subtitles are available!), I just wanted to thank all our subscribers and fans for continuing  love & support - I can't believe we've reached 5 K subscribers....I still can't wrap my head around it...

All our dolls are shared between myself (aka AC aka mum, an Adult Collector and doll customizer :)) and my 5 kids - yes, we do have a lot of AG dolls between us, but most have been rescued second hand off eBay, often in a poor state, restored, given a little makeover and now have a second chance to be loved by my kids and I :)

If you're interested in restoring and possibly customizing an American Girl doll, there's lots of 'how-to' tutorials on our YouTube channel in a "How-To" playlist, but adult involvement is highly recommended!

Many thanks for watching!
AC @ CraftsAdore

P.S. some of our current American Girl customs will get new wigs, or become boys :) - I haven't fully decided yet - so we will do either an updated video or individual makeover videos as and when that happens....

P.S.2 You may or may not have noticed that we've been a little bit quiet on our YT channel recently. Rest assured we'll be back very soon - it took us awhile to get all the dolls changed into Spring outfit, and we couldn't figure out how to put all our dolls together to have them all in one "family" shot - normally they live in our "American Girl Doll House", but putting them all together "in one shot" was a bit of a challenge. I think we finally figured it out...but then some kids got "Spring bugs" and couldn't film....but they're slowly getting better... and we're nearly make sure you're subscribed to our channel to get a notification once the 'All our American Girl dolls - Spring 2016' is finally published !!! AC xx

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Frozen Inspired Crochet Dress for American Girl Doll or other 18 inch dolls Free Crochet Pattern

Frozen Inspired Crochet Dress for American Girl Doll or other 18 inch dolls Free Crochet Pattern

I got inspired by our Frozen Custom American Girl Doll, Elsa, to make her a crochet dress. I know cold never bothered her anyway, but a little handmade crochet dress never hurt anyone :)

The dress is an improvised extension of a free pattern for a top for an American Girl doll or other 18" dolls, already available on Ravelry, so you need to refer to that pattern for the top part first - this free crochet pattern is amazing and so versatile and I totally recommend :).
Frozen-inspired crochet dress for our Custom American Girl Doll Elsa

I am happy to share my pattern notes to extend the free pattern for the 'SC top' to make it into this American Girl doll frozen-inspired crochet dress pattern for free, providing that you follow this copyright notice:

Copyright Notice
Feel free to share a link to this pattern by linking to my blog and giving copyright credit to the original pattern owner for the SC Top pattern, and the rest to © CraftsAdore, but do not copy the pattern and claim as your own. The pattern is as-is, and I cannot provide any individual support on it. This pattern may not be used to produce items for commercial purposes - you may crochet from this pattern for own personal use only or for charity. Please feel free to share your finished project by adding your comment to this post or tagging me on Instagram. ❤ Happy Crocheting ! 

Since my dress is totally improvised to fit my specific American Girl doll (originally Grace Thomas), you may need to adjust the pattern slightly to increase or decrease extra stitches, as not every American Girl doll is the same size (older dolls are more "chubby" and newer dolls are more skinny), and other 18" dolls may be slimmer/different shapes

I use US Crochet terms:
sc = single crochet (double in UK terms)
dc = double crochet (treble in UK terms)
ch = chain
hdc = half double (half treble in UK terms)
dec = decrease 2 stitches together to make 1 st
inc = increase in 1 stitch to make 2 st in one stitch

Yarn used: Paton Baby Aran in blue and Hook H / 5mm. Any other Aran / Worsted 10ply yarn can be used - you can check your tension by trying it on your doll. I used DK weight yarn for the "belt" and trimming which seemed to work well together.

Top – make as per SC top pattern, up to the Row 15 in blue, then change colours to White for the "belt" i.e. Row 16&17 (I used same white for belt and edging)
Frozen-inspired crochet dress for our Custom American Girl Doll Elsa

Row 16 SC in white, then continue in white:
Row 17 *(SC, CH1, DC) in next st, skip 1 st * repeat till last 1 st. 1 sc in last st. (basically the same as row 21 of original SC top pattern).   Switch colour to blue.

Row 18 - continue in blue: Ch4 for button loop, then SC every other st to end up with 45 st again at the end of the row. (note: if you want to use ribbon as "lace" closure for the dress, you need to do loops on either side of the top)

Row 19 - DC all round, but increase in the beginning (2 DC in first stitch) and every 10st or so till the end, to end up with 50st.
Row 20 - SC all st till end
Row 21 -  DC all st till end, join in the round at the end
From now on, you'll be trying the dress on from time to time every few rounds to check how long you want it and how much decreases to do to fit the doll (it fits legs first rather than through the head...)
Continue in pattern of 1 DC row followed by 1 SC row (it builds up in length quite quickly)
After 5 times of (1dc+1sc) rows in total as counted from white belt, check the fit, and dec evenly to 45 st in SC row by sc2tog (I use invisible decrease)
After total 9 (1dc+1sc) rows, dec to about 40st and continue in pattern of 2 rows consisting of 1dc+1sc rows till ankles are reached. Once happy with length, fasten off and do finishing touches as follows:

Finishing touches:

For Sleeve edges  I used 4.5mm / 7 hook and white sparkly DK yarn – SC all round, and then
*SC, CH1, DC, skip 1 st * all round

For Neck  edges – just SC all round in white DK / 4.5mm hook.

For white frilly bottom edge: white yarn and hook as for sleeve & neck edge:
Round1: SC all round,
Round2: HDC all Round,
Round 3: 2HDC in each st all round. 
Round 4-5 Then 2DC  in each st all round for 2 rounds

Weave in all ends.
Sew on the buttons on the back (alternatively you could have done "button loops" on both edges of the top and use a ribbon to tie it as "laces")

Due to the tight nature of this dress design, your doll won't be able to sit in it, but she'll look super cute standing :)
Frozen-inspired free crochet dress for our Custom American Girl Doll Elsa

If you make this free crochet dress for your American Girl doll or other 18" doll, don't forget to tag me on Instagram : @craftsadore so I can see your makes :)

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Our Huge" American Girl Doll House" Tour 2016

Our "Huge American Girl Doll House Tour" 2016

I call it an American Girl Doll House but it's more like a collection of IKEA Pax wardrobes, which house our AG Doll collection...Our AG "doll house" is nowhere near finished, as I want to take my time with it, and decide which "rooms" will house which dolls, and what AG furniture do we want to collect, but here it is anyway - our first ever American Girl doll house tour, yayy!! I hope it will inspire someone how to display their American Girl Dolls collection - Ikea PAX wardrobes are relatively inexpensive, the shelves can be adjusted to any height, which makes it perfect for some taller AG Furniture....You may be able to guess which part of the doll house is most enjoyed by the younger kids (hint - the spa and the kitchen...), and which rooms are strictly mine and off limits to the youngest ones (aka top rooms and especially white-bodied dollies :))

As we improve the rooms, we'll be doing updated room tours, but I don't expect to add any more rooms - after all, 21 big rooms (and 4 "box rooms") should be more than enough...

Thank you so much for watching! AC & the kids x

P.S, and if you'd like to see some rooms in more details, check out our American Girl Doll House Room Tour playlist on our CraftsAdore's American Girl Dolls Channel.

Monday, 18 January 2016

My New Year Resolution - Crocheting cute animals out of Edwards' Menagerie Patterns by Kerry Lord

My New Year Resolution - Crocheting cute animals out of Edwards' Menagerie Patterns by Kerry Lord

My New Year Resolution for 2016 is to increase my crafting productivity, as well as continue with my passion for American Girl dolls!

I decided to start the year by concentrating on just one project, and one type of craft, rather than spreading myself thin and doing lots of different ones. And when I say just one project, I mean all crochet animals from Edward's Menagerie book by Kerry Lord / TOFT UK. And when I mean all, I mean as much as I can - some are harder and some are easier (I've done the bunnies and elephants before) - but I am definitely planning to attempt all of them, in the bid to improve my amigurumi skills.

My first make, Bridget the Elephant is now completed:

You can join me on my second YouTube channel, CraftsAdore Crafts, as I vlog about my crafting journey this year, and show you the progress. I am also on Ravelry and on Instagram @craftsadore2

And so that our main YouTube channel is more clear as to what it's all about, it has been renamed to CraftsAdore's American Girl Dolls Channel :) where my kids and I plan lots of AG dolls videos so please make sure to subscribe! I predict a very busy & fun 2016 year!

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