Welcome to The Gingerbread Bunny! I'm Sarah, a textile artist specialising in crochet and felt based in Wigan in the North-West of England.

On my blog, you can find my day-to-day craft adventures and tutorials.

You can find details of my work for sale and workshops on my website - www.thegingerbreadbunny.co.uk

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Teaching Crochet - Perfect Patterns for Beginners

It's half term at the moment here in Wigan, so that means no crochet classes.  I've got a few interesting posts lined up over the next few weeks but today I'm going to share some of my favourite patterns for beginners.

I'm pretty sure that the main reason we learn to crochet is so we can make something. Yes, there are other benefits to crochet - it keeps my hands busy, helps me to relax and, quite frankly, is the most awesomist hobby in the whole wide World.  For me, I wanted to be able to make garments.  Quite a big ambition for a beginner but that's why I initially picked up my hook and yarn. 

I've found this to be true of almost every student I've ever taught.  Some of them are obsessed with scarves, others want to master amigurumi and then there are those with the big ambitions of making a blanket to cover a king size bed (I wonder if any of my students will recognise themselves here?)

Bearing this in mind, I plan my sessions to include links to patterns that I feel are suitable for beginners.  It's really important to test these out first to make sure that they work and are written in an easy to follow way and sometimes I've re-written them to make sure they are. 

Below you will find links to some of the patterns I recommend to my students - I hope you find these useful either to share with your own students or to use if you're a beginner.  You may also find my previous post on reading crochet patterns useful to which can be found here.

The Humble Granny Square

Everyone loves granny squares.  I teach granny squares as part of my 1 day beginners crochet workshop and as the third lesson on my 10 week course.   I wrote this pattern to make changing colour at the end of each round easy.  I give the students handouts with all of the photographs on so that when they go home, they have a little bit of help. I've seen some fabulous creations with granny squares - a few blankets in beautiful colours and a child's dress with granny squares as the top and fabric for the bottom. 

The Granny Shrug


I love this pattern! (Although I have re-written it to make it easier for my students to follow and one day I will post it to my blog)  It is a super easy way to make a garment.  It is made of 2 granny hexagons that when folded and stitched, makes a cardigan.  I love that students can make it to fit them really easily just by altering the number of rounds they work.  You can also make it in any weight of yarn - I've seen it successfully made in chunky yarn and in cotton DK.

Amigurumi Owls


These go down a storm on my course.  The pattern is well written and very easy to follow and, best of all, makes a really cute owl!  Each owl has it's own little personality. I use this pattern as an introduction to crocheting 3D objects and amigurumi.  As it is an American pattern, I use it as an opportunity to teach students about the differences in terminology and to allow them to find their own way to manage this.

The Granny Shawl


As part of my beginners course, I give the students 2 weeks where they can work on a project in class.  This way, they can make something a bit more challenging, have access to me for help and apply the skills they've learnt working more independently.  I offer the choice of 2 patterns, this or the Granny Shrug or students can work on something  of their own.  I love the granny shawl as it is just the right amount of challenging.  It also looks great in any yarn and can be made for winter or summer.  The pattern I use isn't on Ravelry but I have found this brilliant one, complete with video, by Lally Lou Lou (I think this may be the one I use in future!)

The Chevron Scarf

I have to admit that the chevron stitch has to be one of the most beautiful stitch patterns there is, but it is also one of the most difficult.  One mistake, and it just doesn't work.  It has been requested as a session on a number of occasions so I spent hours trying out chevron patterns until I found one that was easy to follow for beginners.  In this version of the stitch, the mountains and valleys line up on top of each other so, once a few rows have been worked, it's clear to see where they go.  This pattern requires perseverance and you must, must, must count your stitches carefully.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Journal 52 - Weeks 13 and 14

You may have noticed that I've fallen behind a little bit with my art journaling recently. The main reason for this was that I was finishing off my first sketchbook and samples for my textiles course.

Tonight I felt the urge to journal. I wasn't feeling the love for my crochet (mainly because I've run out of the yarn I need) and after a few rows knitting on my shrug, I'd had enough of that to. So I decided to journal.

Lots of paint and mess, and 2 hours later, I had completed 2 pages.

The first is based on the prompt 'how does your garden grow'. I've layered up acrylic paint applied with sponges, found objects and stencils. I even tried out bubble wrap taped to the outside of a cardboard tube to which gives a great effect. Once the paint was dry, I used coloured pencils to stencil big flowers on. I had to work through the messy to get to the effect I wanted.

The second page prompt was 'come rain or shine'. It just so happened that I had used up the paint left over from my garden page to make a stripey page just prefect for a rainbow (pure luck!) I kept the page simple, finding this fabulous quote on Pinterest and handwriting it onto paper before cutting it out and sticking it on. I tried writing it in both lower and upper case and was pleasantly surprised to find that I really like my handwriting in upper case.

Monday, 19 May 2014

5KCBWDAY7 - Looking Back, Looking Forward

As they say, better late than never.  I've been away this weekend on my felt course and didn't get back until late last night.  Anyway, the post for the final day of Knitting and Crochet blog week is to look back at this same post from last year and to look forward to what I hope to have achieved by next years.

Looking Back

Tunisian Crochet - Although I have continued to explore tunisian crochet, which I love, I have yet to make a large item with it.  I do however have a few clothing patterns that i hope to create one day!

Workshops - Well, I have definitely achieved this goal.  Since the last blog week, I have taught private workshops in crochet and am now teaching as part of the adult education programme. I can honestly say that I love it.

Design - Probably my biggest goal last year was to write up some of my crochet designs.  I have written up 2, my crochet Christmas wreath and my sock pattern.  It is a real challenge writing patterns as it is so important to keep it simple and easy to follow.  This is something I wish to continue with.

Looking Forward

By next years Knitting and Crochet Blog Week I hope to have:

1) Made that tunisian cardigan I love so much

2)  Learnt how to broomstick crochet

3)  Conquered the World with my range of upcycled skirts and clothing using crochet and felt

I wonder just how many of these I will have achieved by next years knitting and crochet blog week?

As ever, it's been so much fun joining in with #5KCBW and I want to send a great big thank you to the awesome Eskimimi Makes for planning it all and creating some wonderful topics.  If you want to read my other posts from this week, then follow the links below.

5KCBWDAY1 -  A Day in the Life
5KCBWDAY2 - Dating Profile
5KCBWDAY3 - Experimental Photography
5KCBWDAY4 - Conversations between Workers
5KCBWDAY5 - Something a Bit Different
5KCBWDAY6 - Views of Others, Views of Yourself

You can also read everyone elses posts by searching for the tags below (there are some brilliant posts out there).

Saturday, 17 May 2014

5KCBWDAY6 - Views of Others, Views of Yourself

Today's blog week post is probably the most challenging - to write about a knitter/crocheter you admire and how others view you.

Inspiration to Learn
I'm a self taught crocheter but I was inspired to learn by my Mum. She crocheted little covers for zills (finger cymbals) for dancing and I thought, "I want to be able to do that."

Inspiration to Continue Learning
Once I was hooked (sorry!) my inspiration came from books, magazines and of course Ravelry. The multitude of patterns out there, and other crocheters completed projects, inspired me to learn new techniques and to get better.

One particular designer inspired me to learn Tunisian crochet. Aoibhe Ni designs the most beautiful tunisian crochet shawls and it was these that drove me to learn this technique. I am still a massive fan of her work today and continue to buy just about every pattern she releases.

Inspiration from My Students
As a teacher I aim to inspire my students. However, I often feel that they are the ones who inspire me! Their perseverance and drive to keep learning new techniques, even when it may be hard, is never ending. The projects they create and patterns they find often have me dashing off to hook it.
They inspire me not only to crochet but also to keep on teaching crochet!

How I Think Others View Me
I'm now pretty sure that when my friends think of me they think crocheter and I'm ok with that. In fact, I'm better than ok, I think it's awesome. I'm often sent links to crochet patterns, websites and pins and, I'm happy to say, am often asked for advice on yarn and hook size as well as how to do something.
It is overwhelming, inspiring and just down right awesome that this is how my friends see me (although possibly a reflection of how much time I spend crocheting)

Friday, 16 May 2014

5KCBWDAY5 - Something a Bit Different

It's that time of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week again - time to produce a post a little bit differently to what I would normally do.  Last year I made a Vlog (Video Blog) which you can check out here.  This year I'm going for a post that is mainly photographs.

On Wednesday I took photographs of my day to share with you all.  I've included a short caption with each so that you know what it is of and how it relates to my day.

A Day in the Life of Me

Starting the day tutoring (and eating my breakfast!) 

A quick stop on the way home for supplies.
Beans on toast for dinner.
Time for a spot of fabric and yarn dyeing
Uneven dyeing some vegetable threads for my felt course
Drying on the line - you'll have to wait and see what they are for.
The Peace Silk really absorbed the colour.
Time for a bit of crochet - working on a mesh shopping bag in cotton .....
.....and a cup of green tea to go with it.
Stopping to see the cows on my way to tutoring in the afternoon.
Look at the pretty flowers.
Doing a bit of spelling.  Some interesting words with the 'ee' sound.
Time to relax with a spot of knitting.
Finally, time to make my list for tomorrow in my Bullet Journal before going to sleep.

5KCBWDAY4 - Conversations Between Workers

I store my hooks, darning needles, scissors and anything else I might need whilst crocheting in Birdy, my beautiful pencil case.  He is quite large (he needs to be) and is yellow with pictures of birds and bird cages on it.  He has a handy little extra pocket on one side where I keep a pen, pencil and highlighter - always useful to have to annotate patterns.

Considering how long I've had him, he is in really good shape.  He came from Tesco (other supermarkets and retailers of pencil cases are available) in the sale.  I can't recall his price then but to me he is priceless.  If I ever lost him, I would be devastated as all my favourite hooks, which I have collected during my crochet life, are in him waiting to be chosen for my next project!

Me:  Hello Birdy, how are you today?
Birdy:  I'm quite well thank you.  And you?
Me:  Not to bad, not to bad.
Birdy:  Are you ready to start a new project?
Me:  Yes I am.
Birdy:  Which hook will you be needing?
Me:  Well the pattern says a 4mm
Birdy:  Ahh.  I recommend a 4.5mm then for you Sarah.  As you know, your natural tension is on the tight side so generally you always need to go up .5mm hook size.
Me:  Very true - you're always so helpful! What would I do without you?
Birdy:  Always happy to help.  Now, you have two 4.5mm hooks in here.  Will you be needing the Clover hook with the ergonomic handle or the light up hook?
Me:  Good question Birdy.  The yarn is pretty dark for this project, I think the light up hook will be best.
Birdy:  Very good, very good.  
(Sound of clinking and rummaging as Birdy locates the hook)
Birdy:  Here you go.  Now be careful with it, last time you used it to play Star Wars and nearly broke it.  Remember - a light sabre it is not.
Me:  I will be careful Birdy.  Cross my heart.
Birdy:  Good luck with the project Sarah.  Be sure to show me when you're done.
Me:  Thanks Birdy.  I will.
Birdy:  Oh - one last thing.  Is there any chance you could give me a bit of a tidy up? I'm getting a bit full and there are things in here we never use.
Me:  Of course Birdy - I'd do anything for you!

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

5KCBWDAY2 - Dating Profile

5KCBW Day 2 - Dating Profile

            Write a dating profile for one of your past finished projects.

 Single sock seeks partner for friendship and fun.

Young, brunette sock with flashes of teal and a ribbed cuff looking for a partner to share in foot based activities.  I have a long, slender foot, perfectly formed heel and a petite leg - good things come in little packages they say ;-) 

Originally from across the pond in America, I now reside in the north-west of England.  Be warned, I do have expensive tastes - there are elements of cashmere in me.

I enjoy long walks on the beach, toe wiggling and snuggling up under a cosy blanket to watch science fiction movies.  

I hate moths (don't let them come and nibble holes in me), being in dark places (especially the sock drawer) and hot baths (I'm hot enough already)

If you think you are the perfect partner for me then get in touch - I look forward to hearing from you.

Monday, 12 May 2014

5KCBWDAY1 A Day in The Life

The 5th Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week begins today!  I can't believe I nearly missed it but luckily, I spotted a few posts on Twitter this morning.  It is a week of blogging from knitters and crocheters and a chance for bloggers to explore different ways of blogging.  I've read all the post themes and can promise that this years themes are as fantastic as ever!  If you want to join in the take a peek at the wonderful Eskimimi Makes blog or, if you just want to read the posts, search for the post tags below!

5KCBWDAY1 - A Day In The Life
Describe a day in the life of a project that you have made, or are in the process of making.

I am Sarah's current WIP (work in progress), the Big Shrug by Debbie Bliss (isn't she just the most awesome designer?).  I'm being knitted, yes you heard me correctly, in yarn the colour of boiled sweets; there's pink, blue, green, yellow, orange and purple in me and I am just the prettiest and funkiest shrug you have ever seen.  The fabulous guys at Sirdar made me - thanks boys ;-)  

Here I am when I was just a tiny knitling.  You can see what I'm going to be when I grow up!  

My knitting needles where a bit shocked when Sarah picked them up to cast me on.  They'd been sitting on top of the shelf for so long that they had nearly forgotten how to knit but luckily, there was just enough memory left in them to get started and now they know just what they're doing.

Aren't I pretty?  I'm just the most delicious colours.
Since being cast on a few weeks ago, I have been lovingly worked on nearly every day and now measure nearly 30cm (haven't I grown so quickly!)  
Hopefully, she will keep up the regular knitting with me and I won't just get cast to one side like some of her other projects (I've heard the PHD pile whispering - there's a very unhappy Lego blanket plotting terrible things in there).

Haven't I grown so much since I was cast on?
Whilst I have the chance, I'd just like to make a plea to Sarah - please, please, please can I have a pretty project bag to live in?  At the moment I'm just shoved in a basket and I'm concerned that my pretty stitches are going to get damaged.  Things are  always getting spilt around here and I do not want to go the same way as the white cotton notebook cover that got Iron Bru spilt on it - RIP little white cover.  Also, I've seen the way the black bunny hops around chewing paper and dragging things around.  I don't want that to happen to me, I'm so pretty.

Look at how she keeps me?  I deserve a project bag - maybe I'll start a petition?

I've loved talking to you all and, once I'm finished and off the needles, I'll pop back on to chat to you all again - I might even give you a twirl so you can admire my pretty colours and stitches!   

Speak soon!

Lots of love

The Boiled Sweet Shrug xxx

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Sarah's Simple Crochet Socks

I've crocheted a few pairs of socks, some of them have fit well and others not so well.  When my improvers crochet students asked to learn how to crochet socks, I felt it was time to write up my sock pattern.  It is one which I have developed myself which works for me - hopefully it will work for you to!

Please feel free to share the pattern (if you think it is good) and please leave a comment if you spot any mistakes or think I should make any changes to it.  I'd also love to see any pictures of socks you make from my pattern.

Sarah's Simple Crochet Socks 


100g of yarn and corresponding hooks
(This is a guide – adjust hook sizes as necessary to suit your own tension)

Sock/4ply yarn
3.5mm and 3mm
4mm and 3.5mm
4.5mm and 4mm
5mm and 4.5mm

Stitch Markers – At least 1 that is different to the others

dc – double crochet (insert hook into stitch, yarn round hook, pull through stitch, yarn round hook, pull through loops on hook)
Edc – extended double crochet (insert hook into stitch, yarn round hook, pull through stitch, yarn round hook, pull through 1 loop on hook, yarn round hook, pull through all loops on hook)
dc blo – double crochet  in the back loop of the stitch.
sl st – slip stitch

Making the Pattern Work for You
Although this pattern is written for sock yarn, it is easy to adapt for any weight of yarn. Follow the instructions carefully for working the toe and decreasing for the heel.  Everything else is just the same!
Keep a note of how many rounds you have completed, length of different parts of the sock and any changes you make – this will be useful when making your second sock!

Ch 9

(This should be approximately 4cm long and roughly the distance from your big toe to your middle toe.  If you are using a different weight of yarn, just make sure that your chain is approximately 4cm long and make a note of how many stitches you made and how many rounds worked in the toe section)

    1) Sk first ch, dc into the back bump of each ch (8dc) Place marker in last dc worked.  Rotate work 180° so that you are working into the top of the stitch.  Work 1dc in each stitch (8dc) Place unique marker in last st.  (16dc in total)

Mark the last st on each side with different markers

    2) 2dc in next st, work 1 dc in each st to the last st before the next marker.  Work 2dc in this st, 1 dc in marked st (move marker up), 2dc in next st.  1dc in each st to the last st before unique marker.  2dc in this st, 1 dc in marked st (move marker up).

Repeat the increase round 7 more times (48 stitches) 

The toe should fit snugly over the toes.  You don’t want this to be too big!
Too big – work less rounds                            Too small – work more rounds


The foot is worked in a spiral – do not join at the end of each round.  Remove the markers from the toe and use 1 to mark the first st of the round.  Move this up with each round.

       3) Work 1 Edc into each stitch of the round

Repeat row 3 until the foot of your sock is the desired length.

It should reach just past the middle of the arch of your fit when stretched a little. 
(Mine measured 16cm from the tip of the toe for a UK size 7 shoe size)

Fold the foot flat so that it looks like the bottom of the foot.  Place markers where the foot folds on the left and right of your work.  

    4) Edc in each st until you reach the 1st marker (work in the marked stitch).  Turn


5)  Ch1, dc in each st to the opposite marker (work the marked st), turn
     6) Ch1, dc in each st until the last st (this will be your marked st), skip this st, turn

    Repeat row 6 until you have 9 stitches left (or the same number of stitches that you chained at the start of the sock)


    Use markers to mark the unworked st of the previous row.  Move this down as you work each row – this will help you to see the stitch as it can often seem too far away and get lost!

    7)   Turning Row:  ch1, dc in each st across, word 1dc in the side of the previous row and 1 dc in the unworked dc of the previous row.  Turn

Stitches worked in the side and unworked stitch from previous row

Repeat row 7 until you reach the last round before heel shaping began.

     The leg is worked in spiral rounds. Mark the first st of each round.  Move the marker up as you work.

   8)   Ch1, turn, work 1 Edc in each st round

    Repeat row 8 until leg is desired length.


   We are going to work in rows at 90° to our sock.
   Switch to your smaller hook (0.5mm smaller) – this will give you a slightly tighter cuff.

    9)    Ch11 (If you want a longer cuff then chain more stitches)


    10)     dc in 2nd ch from hook, dc in each st until you reach the sock.  Sl st to the base st on the leg of your sock, sl st into the next st on the leg of your sock. (10dc) Turn

11)    dc blo in each st (10dc) , ch1, turn, dc blo (10 dc), sl st in the next st on the leg of your sock, sl st in next st on the leg of your sock.  

   Repeat row 11 round the top of your sock until you reach the start of your cuff.  Fasten off leaving a long tail. 

   Use long tail to join the start and finishing row of your cuff together with a whipstitch. Weave in all ends. 

    Make your second sock in the same way – wear and enjoy!