Squirrel Picnic

Handmade with Love and Stuff


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Make It! Challenge #10: Crochet Island Play Set

Island Play Set with Animals Crochet Pattern by Squirrel PicnicLast spring, Brittani from Wisconsin challenged me to make her son a play set. Specifically, he really wanted a farm play set. Through my research, I found a few barnyard play sets already in existence, including this free one from Lion Brand (you have to log in to view the free pattern). I really loved the play set idea, so Brittani and her son agreed to let me come up with a unique alternative.

I was surprised to find there are a lot of crochet play set patterns out there. In addition to the farm one, I found a safari play set, a teddy bear picnic, a flower pot play set, a racetrack, and lots and lots of toy food. No one had made an ocean play set though, and I instantly fell in love with the idea of crocheting an island surrounded by little ocean animals. Thankfully, Brittani and her son loved the idea too!

The detail I liked most from all the play sets I encountered was how some of them transformed into a bag or box to hold all the little pieces of the set. I included this feature by adding a drawstring to the play set base. Because the play set is rather large (three feet in diameter), the drawstring is a bit longer than I expected, but I think it’s still quite useful to be able to toss all your little ocean animals into the bag and cinch it up so they don’t get lost. Update: A friend of the blog, Ankhara, suggested to pull the drawstring out from two opposite sides of the play set to close it. This way the drawstring will not be too long. Thanks for the tip!

This pattern should be fun and enjoyable for crocheters of all skill levels. The animals are very quick to make because most of their limbs are crocheted in the final rounds. I thought it would be nice not to have too many pieces to sew on at the end.

In fact everything is nice and easy on this island. It’s paradise! At this beach, you don’t have to worry about sunburn or sand that works its way into everything. The sharks even play nice here! I hope you enjoy making an island play set of your very own. I’d love to see photos if you do! Send them to squirrelpicnic{at}gmail{dot}com.

Island Play Set Crochet Pattern

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Itty Bitty, Teeny Weeny Crochet

A recent invitation to participate in a charm exchange has brought me the opportunity to explore the wonderful world of miniature amigurumi. An exchange like this brings artists together to collaborate in the making of each other’s charm necklace or bracelet. Our group includes artists in a variety of mediums: ceramic, mixed media, felt, beads, metal, and found objects. And I get to contribute crochet to the mix! Each of us gets to pick a theme for our jewelry piece, and I chose coral reefs. Imagine all the colorful things we could do with that! But first I have to make a charm myself to get my bracelet started. What reef creature could I make?

crochet-picnic-basket1First things first, I’ve never crocheted anything this small. I think the smallest piece I’ve done is the picnic basket that is about 2” tall. Just to practice, I tried making an urchin, thinking it was a simple shape… but it was too simple and it just looked like a ball. After trying a few more sea creatures, I decided to make a starfish. First I attempted to convert a life-sized starfish pattern to this scale by using DMC floss and the smallest size hook I could find. But no matter what I tried I couldn’t get it small enough. It made me realize that miniature crochet has its own tricks and rules! I do have a lot to learn.

I needed extra-small materials and extra-small patterns. I went to my local craft store with all my crochet hooks in hand to try to complete my set of steel hooks. I love how inexpensive steel hooks are! For under $20 I was able to get all the hooks I needed, from size 00 to size 14. I was also able to find crochet thread and 100% Pearl Cotton Thread in Size 5. My friend Annie let me borrow her Size 8 thread to try. Now I feel sufficiently equipped for this challenge.

Itty Bitty Crocheted Critters by Erin ClarkMini Amigurumi  by Sara ScalesI also found some books about miniature crochet that are bound to help. Mini Amigurumi by Sara Scales includes patterns for a wide variety of cute little gems from birds to babies to fruits and vegetables. Some are as small as 1/2”! Itty Bitty Crocheted Critters by Erin Clark includes patterns for some really interesting creatures like a flamingo, gecko, and crocodile. I’ve seen works from fellow crocheters done from these patterns and I can’t wait to try them out too.

We’ll be making charms for this exchange and meeting every other month over the next year. It will be exciting to see if I can improve my skills over this time. And I can’t wait to see what everyone else makes too!

I’ll share with you more in the coming week about how the charm exchange works. Until then, here’s the crochet pattern for the starfish I made for my own bracelet. I’m wondering if any of you have tried miniature amigurumi. What’s the smallest thing you’ve ever crocheted?

Starfish Charm

Starfish Charm Crochet Pattern

(Inspired by the work of Julia Kolbaskina)

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