Super Cuddly Dog Bed

I wonder how many of you have similar problems to me with pets and knitting / crochet projects?

Problems like; your pet wants to be on your knee whilst you are trying to knit, making it incredibly hard to move your elbows, or when you put your project down briefly and your pet decides that gives them to perfect opportunity to sit on top of it, to stop you doing anymore knitting so you have to stroke them with at least one hand,, or when you lay something out on the floor to measure it the dog decides you have put it there as a blanket for them to lay on!

Well, she does always seem to want to lay on my projects.  I don’t know if it is the feel of them, or the fact that I have made them, or what, but it gave me an idea recently.

Red, my dog (see picture above), hasn’t really had a specific bed of her own for a while.  She used to have, but stopped using it some time ago, so we got rid of it. She generally sleeps wherever she fancies. The kitchen windowsill, the spare bed, the sofa, behind the door, the middle of the floor, on my knitting…    So, I thought that maybe if I made her a bed of her own, which was crocheted, then she might use it.  I have an old duvet, which to be fair, has seen better days and sometimes Red uses this for a bed.  When she had some surgery, she slept on it on our bedroom floor and if I put it on the living room floor then she often decides to use it. So, I thought I could crochet a cover for it and then it could become her bed permanently.  A perfect bit of upcycling if you ask me!

So I began.  I found a very large stash of super chunky yarn in various colours in my wardrobe and thought it would be ideal.  Nice and thick and soft, with a bit of wool in it, she is bound to like it and it would use it all up nicely.

I started making squares, to use up all of the colours and because it would be really quick and easy to do.  Red didn’t seem to want to wait for me to finish…


But I carried on and did finish it of course.  

I then realised that actually, it was a great project for beginners.  it is made in individual squares stitched together at the end, can be made to any size you need, Great Dane, Chihuahua, or cat, and it’s great for using up lots of oddments.  So, I have written it up into a pattern, aimed at beginners.  There are very detailed instructions in the pattern, with pictures to help, or just the plain straightforward pattern for those of you with enough experience to not need the pictures.  To be honest, you don’t even need to turn it into a dog bed if you don’t want, it could just be a blanket.  It’s very versatile.

Here it is stuffed and turned into a dog bed.


And, here is Red dog on her finished bed.  She loves it!


If you are interested in the pattern, it can be found on Etsy, by following the link below:

Happy crocheting folks!

Dragon Knitting and Crochet

Baby dragons with WoolMonkey

What happens when you ask eleven year olds what they think you should write a blog about?

In my case they don’t say a new jumper, or hats, or knitting kit, or socks, or anything like that,  nothing that would be relevant to a yarn related blog, nope, just dragons.  Dragons!

So, I thought about dragons.  And then I remembered that a few months ago I did actually crochet some dragons for my girls.  How could I have forgotten!   Then naturally I thought that maybe I could write about dragons.  Well, dragon patterns to be more precise.

My personal dragon making saga began back in the summer when my eldest asked me to make her a dragon.  I have to be totally honest with you, that crocheting small, fiddly creatures is not my favourite past time.  I prefer making large items, such as blankets or sweaters.  But, it is impossible to say no to your children, so I went on the hunt to find a pattern.  I have just had to re-hunt for the pattern that I used, as I couldn’t remember where I got it from and whilst I have probably saved it somewhere, could I find it?  Of course not.  It’s taken me hours to find it again.  It wouldn’t be right to show you the dragons I made without telling you where to find the pattern though would it!

Anyway, here is dragon number one…   (the blue one)

Of course, as soon as her sister saw it then she wanted one too.  Hence the orange one was made shortly after.  I believe they named them Watermelon and Squidge.   At this point I would like to mention that the naming of them has absolutely nothing to do with me.

They aren’t perfect, I know, but they were good enough to entertain my kids.  I find this kind of work very fiddly.  I have the beginnings of arthritis in my hands and they seem to cramp quite easily doing small pieces of work. Work which involves trying to hold very small things whilst crocheting said small thing at the same time.  It’s not good for my knuckles.

They were quite quick though, and fairly easy.  The pattern was pretty straightforward.  They are very cute too, so worth a little bit of pain.

Here is the link to the website where I got the pattern.  It is a free download.


You might think that was the end of it.  But no, my dragon saga continued.

The girls played with their baby dragon for a while and then decided to gang up on me and demand a new pair of dragons.   They insisted that they were twins this time and should be cousins of the ones they already had.   I have no idea why they needed to be cousins, but who am I to question the minds of my little people.   So, of course, off I went again in search of a different baby dragon pattern.

Here they are,  Purpleed and Pinupple.  (Don’t ask!)

These two ended up slightly larger than the others and took a little bit more work, but now we do have a whole host of dragons in the house.  I did stipulate however, that I wasn’t making any more after these two.  I know what my kids are like and they would have me making dragons forever if I let them. 

The pattern for this one is called ‘Philip the Dragon’ and the link for it is below.  This is another free pattern by the ‘Left Handed Crocheter’.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to be left handed to do the pattern.   There are lots of lovely patterns on her website though, so you should definitely take a look if you like this kind of thing.

Anyway, all that hunting around on the internet for the patterns that I used meant that I also found lots of other patterns too that I thought you might like. 


Here are a few links to some more crochet dragon patterns:


This first one is from Stringy Ding Ding.  It’s free and cute. I don’t remember seeing this one back in the summer when I was looking, otherwise I might have made this one instead.

Click on the image to take you to the free pattern…

This next one I love.  They are so very dragonly!  This pattern is a bit more complex and involved but looks to be well written.  There are also videos you can watch which explain how to do all the different aspects of the dragon if you need help.  They are called ‘Dragons in my Kitchen’, by Amigurumi to Go.

Click on the image to take you to the free pattern…

This next one is quite sweet and not too complicated.  The eyes are embroidered on, so I am pretty sure they would be terrible if I did them, but you might be better at it than me.  It is also free and called ‘Baby Dragon’ on Amigurumibb by Che Che.

Click on the image to take you to the free pattern…

This next one you can cheat with a bit.  There is a bit of felt and glue involved, so no where near as much fiddly crochet to do.  It is from All About Ami.

Click on the image to take you to the free pattern…

Then there is the very sad looking dragon, but cute anyway so I’ve included it.  I believe it has been modified by Lucia Lanukas from a Russian pattern. This is a free download available on Ravelry, so you do have to have a Ravelry login for this one. If you haven’t used Ravelry before it’s a bit like a giant database for knitting and crochet, with thousands of patterns on there. Some free, some paid.  You can sign up for free though and there is no spam or marketing attached to it. It is worth a visit!

Click on the image to take you to the free pattern…

This one is a bit bigger than some.  So, maybe not quite as fiddly to create. I think he is  a very serious looking chap.   This is by Lucy Kate Crochet. 

Click on the image to take you to the free pattern…

There are many, many more patterns out there.  Some of the more complex and involved than others and some are paid patterns.   I have included as many as I could in the gallery below.  I like flicking through the images and seeing how creative people can be.  If you are interested in any of them then click on the image and it will take you to the place where you can buy the pattern.  (These are all crochet patterns – the knitting patterns are further down the page).

Don’t think that I have forgotten about the knitters amongst you. There are an abundance of knitting patterns for dragons out there too.

This is one of my favourites, it’s the Soup Dragon from the Clangers – maybe some of you would remember him?  


The link to the pattern is in the gallery below – which is full of knitting patterns for dragons.  Some of them are truly fab!

I hope you have enjoyed this little fantasy journey with me.  I do love dragons still even though I am not exactly a little girl anymore.  What is more, most kids love them, boys and girls, so you should always be able to find a home for one if you fancy making one.

Maybe unicorns next…?

Andromeda Crochet Headband

Andromeda Crochet Headband

It’s just a quick blog today, I don’t seem to have had much time on my hands this last week or so.   Sometimes it’s hard to keep track as the days fly by…

If you have read any of my most recent blogs, you will know that both of the woolly winter ear warmers I made were greedily poached by my two daughters.  That wasn’t really a part of the plan.  My ears were still cold and getting colder.

My eldest seems to be getting more cunning as she gets older though and decided to bargain with me.  She told me, that what she would really like was a more decorative headband, something she could wear to look pretty, rather than a winter one and that if I made one just for her then I could have my woolly one back!  The cheek!

But of course, what did I do…?

Naturally I got to work straight away.  I found some nice dark pink cotton in my stash which I thought would suit her and had a bit of a play around.  Nothing too complicated, I was thinking maybe some sort of cross between medieval and Greek.  I am not sure that I hit the mark that well but she liked it.  A lot.

She was even willing to model it for me.

It’s not a difficult or long pattern, it only took me one evening to make it.  The two ends are held together with a piece of elastic round the back of the head, which means you can adjust the size to suit almost anybody too.

There’s not much more to say about it really, other than it is a nice little side project for if you fancy a change from whatever you are doing.  I think it would look lovely on most little girls, or ladies, or even gents if that’s your thing!

If you would  like the pattern for free then please subscribe to receive our email newsletter and blog and I will email you the pattern as a thank you.   The form is on the right hand side of the page, nearer the top.   I try not to send out junk that you wouldn’t want to read and will never share your email address with anybody!  You can always unsubscribe whenever you want if you get fed up of hearing from me.

I hope some of you will enjoy making it.

Thanks for reading x


Absolute Beginner crochet lesson – the chain stitch

Learn to crochet chain stitch

This is the first of some very brief Wool Monkey crochet lessons for absolute beginners.

This lesson covers the first thing you need to learn, which is how to do a basic chain stitch.

All you will need is a ball of yarn and a crochet hook.  We hope you enjoy the lesson and don’t forget to get in touch if you need any help.

Good luck!


Schlumbergera – Christmas or Thanksgiving Cactus?


I have to admit that I have never really thought about Thanksgiving very much.  Being British, not American, it doesn’t really enter into my calendar of events.  I do like the idea of celebrating the harvest and the previous year’s success,  with family or friends and a slap up dinner though.  Who doesn’t like a good family dinner?  

I can almost hear you thinking, ‘What has this got to do with cacti?’.

Well, one of my cacti is flowering prolifically at the moment.

This is my Schlumbergera. 

I have had it several years now.  It started life as a single leaf which was given to me by a dear old friend many moons ago, shortly before she passed away.  It had a great start, grew a few stems, settled into life nicely, then was eaten right down to the stump one night by my daughters escaped hamster!  (Hammy – was a very cheeky but loveable hamster).

Obviously I forgave him and luckily I rescued my cactus and started it growing again.  It had a couple more years of peaceful and uneventful growing time.  Hammy passed on sadly and was replaced by Snow White, hamster number two. 

One day, just as my cactus was about to flower I made the mistake of moving it to a different windowsill.   I thought we might be able to look at it better whilst it flowered.  To my dismay and disbelief, this coincided with another round of hamster escape episodes and my cactus was decimated yet again, this time by Snow White.    I have no idea what it about these cacti that hamsters like so much, but I can only assume that they must be very tasty to them.   This is Snow White – unlike Hammy, she was a bit of a lunatic.

Anyway, several years later my cactus has finally reached a big enough size to flower.  We no longer have any hamsters and there is no risk of being munched anymore.  The strange thing is I always thought it was a Christmas Cactus.    But, it’s flowering now and unless I’ve been asleep for a month, it’s not Christmas yet.     

I did a little bit of reading last night and realised that there are actually two main types of Schlumbergera.  Christmas ones, (Schlumbergera bridgesii),  and also Thanksgiving ones, (Schlumbergera truncata).   So, I guess mine is a Thanksgiving Cactus, not a Christmas Cactus.  Well I never!

They have very subtle differences but are both beautiful.   Here is one of my others, this one is definitely a Christmas cactus (it’s not flowering yet this year). 

These cacti come in a range of reds, pinks and white and originate from the coastal mountains of Brazil. They naturally grow on shady rocks or high up in trees, hence their habit of trailing ornately over the edge of their pots.

Just to confuse things even further, don’t forget about the Easter Cactus.  The modern name for this is Hatiora gaertneri, but has also been known as the Schlumbergera  gaertneri I believe (as well as other names).   They are incredibly similar, with just subtle differences between the leaves and flowers.  This is one of mine, see if you can spot the difference!

Just in case you have had enough of reading about cacti now, how about a little bit of knitting or crochet?   I haven’t had time to create a pattern of my own for you to make your own Schlumbergera cactus, but I have had a good rummage around on the internet for you to see what was already out there.

There aren’t many!

Here is a crochet pattern from Planet June, looks good but it isn’t free I’m afraid.  (You can click on it to go the pattern page).

Here is another crochet pattern, on Crazy,  this one is paid too, sorry.

This one is free, but unfortunately it’s in Italian, from Dony’s Creations Blog.  I don’t speak Italian so I have no idea how to translate it but maybe you do?   

That’s all I could find.   I could find no knitting patterns at all!  There is obviously a gap in the market, so I really should get creating..

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my Schlumbergera and it inspires you to get creative.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Grubby gardening hands

gardening hands

It’s been a while since I wrote a Wool Monkey blog, but winter is on it’s way again and the dark nights are looming, so I have recently found that I suddenly have the urge to create again!

Most of the last year or two have been spent moving house, landscaping my garden and generally working really hard.  Wool Monkey has sadly been neglected.

But, as the creative urge is blossoming again, I thought it was about time I finally finished creating the Wool Monkey learning zone.  Lot’s of people ask me for advice on learning to knit and crochet and it makes sense, to me at least, that there be a section on the website devoted to learning.  The grand plan, eventually, is to fill the ‘Learning Zone’,  with lots of useful info and videos and help for anybody out there who wants advice with their knitting or crochet adventures.  The possibilities are endless and so I guess the ‘Learning Zone’ will be too.

To make a start, I have been busy creating a few beginner videos.  (These will hopefully be on the website in a week or so).

OK.  So, that sounds fairly straight forward doesn’t it?  Well, everything was going fine until I realised, as I was using the zoom function on my video editor, that my hands are not so pretty anymore.  There are some rather close-up shots of my hands and really, they don’t exactly look sparkling. 

Lots of time spent gardening and years of rock climbing gives you very grubby hands.  Mine are gnarled and battered and scarred.  There is dirt permanently ground into my cracked skin. No amount of scrubbing or soap seems to shift it.  

Unfortunately they are the only pair of hands I have and so I have no choice but to use them for my Wool Monkey videos. How else am I going to teach people how to knit and crochet without showing off my hands?

So, this blog is an apology in advance for my scruffy looking hands, which no doubt be in every single video in the learning zone.  I hope you can tolerate them.

On the plus side though, they are very honest and hard-working hands and my garden is starting to look good too!



Pete’s Crocheted Big V Stitch Blanket

This is my big brother, Pete.

As you can see, he likes to relax on the sofa, with a whisky after a hard days work.  Snoozing seems to be a common occurrence too.

We don’t often give each other serious presents, just joke ones mostly.  But, for some strange reason, just for once last summer, I thought he might like a real present.  So, a couple of weeks before his birthday I asked him if there was anything he would like.


And his response….

“I’d like my own blanket please.  And I want you to make it for me”.

I was immediately delighted that my big brother wanted a blanket of my making, but then realised that there was no way I could make one in two weeks!  I’m good, but not that good.

So, I warned him that I would make it, but it might be a Christmas present rather than a birthday present.  I even let him choose his own colours from my stash.   (I was pretty surprised at the colours he choose, but they worked well together actually).


I insisted on choosing the design though and  decided upon a striped V-stitch style.  (Quick and easy)

Then started it off, as usual,  in the passenger seat of the car whilst my better half was  driving us away on holiday.    (It passes the journey time really quickly and gets loads done)



The work continued for months.  Often whilst eating cake and drinking coffee at the Wool Monkey knit and chat groups. 


(Also a common occurrence)



Until it became too big to take around with me and I was finally restricted to making it at home.  

The advantage of this was that it kept us both warm whilst I was making it. (Me and my better half that is).

Eventually it was done.  And just in time to be wrapped up for Christmas.



I think he liked it…

                   … I think he was even smiling.


He wore it all afternoon on Chirstmas day anyway.


The only awkward thing about the blanket was that I foolishly thought that my brother would share it with his other half, as she particularly liked the colours he chose.  But no,  he won’t let her near it.  So now I have to make another one!

Oh well.


Here’s the finished thing.


Very stripy.





And the V-Stitch?   





It’s really, really easy.  So easy that I think this is a beginner’s pattern.  (Or a really relaxing pattern for those of you with more experience).

It’s also a definite winner as a man blanket and a Christmas present!


If you are interested in the pattern, it’s available from:





Opuntia Cactus

As you may have realised by now, not only do I love crochet and knitting, but I also love cacti and succulents.

So, I thought I would start to create some patterns to go with my cacti, as well as giving you a bit more information about the plants themselves. Whilst I was thinking about doing this recently an old customer got in touch with me completely out of the blue, to see if I had created any cactus patterns yet.  What a pleasant surprise and  coincidence. 

She asked if I would create a pattern for an Opuntia.  So, that was my plan, but then as I started to look around, I realised that there were so many knitted and crocheted cacti patterns already out there for free that it would perhaps be a better idea to just have a look at some of those instead and see if any were worthy.

First thing is first though.  

I have to tell you a little bit about Opuntia.  (Sorry it’s the cactus geek in me)

So, the cactus genus Opuntia contains many different species, with many different common names, such as the prickly pear, bunny tails, beaver tails and the barbary fig.  You must have heard of some of them at least.  It’s really widespread, originating throughout the Americas, but with man’s help has now been spread worldwide.  In some places it is even considered to be a weed.  They do grow exceptionally easily.

This is a cutting I planted in January this year. It was just a couple of paddle shaped leaves then, but started to sprout new segments straight away. (Sorry about the sideways picture). This is how much it has grown up to now (June).








 It might not look like much to you, but it’s fast for a cactus.  


Opuntia are easily recognised by their usually flat, paddle, oval or round shaped stem segments.  The spines are often densely clustered on the areoles.  These are the areas on the cacti where you usually see the spines coming from  (the spotty bits on the pictures above) and trust me, you don’t want to touch them.  They often look like soft, fluffy little pads, but really, they’re not that soft, they are composed of hundreds of tiny spines which will almost definitely get into your skin and they are really, really, really irritating!   Some of them also have long, deadly looking spines in addition, as if they needed the extra protection!?

Like most cacti, they do have the redeeming feature of beautiful flowers and they come in an array of colours. Some of the species also have fleshy fruits, which can be harvested and turned into deserts,  jellies, drinks and delicacies.  (I think this is where the name prickly pear came from).  In many places, especially Mexico, the flesh of the cactus itself is also eaten like a vegetable.  I can’t say that I have ever tried it, but there’s a first time for everything…


(Images courtesy of Pinterest – please click links to original posts)

Here are a few of my old Opuntia cacti:


So, now you know what an Opuntia cactus looks like.  I have done some research for you so that you can make your very own. (Without the prickly bits)

Here are some of the best Opuntia crochet patterns I found. The first few are free too, which is always a plus!





I think this one is my favourite.  





This one is nice, but one you have to pay for.





This is a nice pattern, but I’m not sure what language it is in.




This is really nice pattern too,  but it’s in Spanish or Portugese (I think).



This is quite a chunky opuntia.





These patterns are super cute, but you have to pay for these.



It turns out that there aren’t that many knitted cactus patterns that are particularly Opuntia shaped, most of them are crochet patterns. Here are a couple that I did find and at least they are free.







If any of you are desperate for a knitted opuntia pattern which is better than these then let me know and I will write one.  In the meantime I hope you enjoyed the opuntia!   

(now, which cactus to do next…)




Nessie’s Crocheted Poncho

I love road trips.  Especially road trips round Scotland when the sun is shining.

The best bit about road trips is that they give you the time to do new projects whilst in interesting locations and my crochet goes eveywhere with me.

So, this time, I decided that I would create a new kids poncho.  


Off we go…




The best bit about journeys that take a while, especially if you have somebody else to do the driving, is that you have an excuse to sit and crochet (or knit) for hours at a time, just watching the scenery roll by. My new poncho grew quite a bit on the way to Scotland.  


The Wool Monkey crochet in the Caingorms

This is the life for me.

Wild camping in stunning locations.

The location was soooo good that the crochet slowed down a bit though, whilst we went to climb a few Cairngorms.  (They are the hills in the background in case you were wondering).

…Daydreaming of sunny days on the side of the Loch…

So, back to the crochet.  It has been one of those projects where I just set off with a hook and some yarn and see what comes out.  It’s simple shells this time. The yarn I decided to use was some Louisa Harding Amitola which has been in my stash for quite some time.  It’s self striping, so you get a lovely array of colours when you crochet with it.  It is a little bit on the thin side though, so I tend to use it double stranded, to make it more like DK yarn.  This has the bonus effect of giving a much wider range of colour blends too, where you get two strands of different shades blended together.

The Wool Monkey Nessie Poncho crocheted shells

Back to Scotland…

The Wool Monkey crochet with a pint


Crochet here, crochet there, crochet everywhere.  I love being on holiday and being able to crochet, it’s idyllic.  No holiday would be complete without a few pints of good ale too.




The Wool Monkey meets the Loch Ness Monster


Eventually we ended up camping on the shore of Loch Ness.   It wasn’t part of the plan, but was a good place to stay.  Nessie was in total approval of the crochet project too, which has to be a good omen.

The Wool Monkey on Loch Ness


And finally, time to head home and say goodbye to another road trip.  Scotland is beautiful, there is no disputing this.   I had only two balls of yarn left and the project would be finished too.   I’d say it was a successful trip all round.



Back to the real stuff.  The project!  

So, it has become a very square poncho,  with an opening for the neck and head to make it more versatile and easy to vary the size.  My 6 year old adores it.

I think it should be an easy enough pattern for most crocheters to tackle too.  very relaxing and grows quickly.  (That’s why I managed it within a week)

Do get in touch if you would like more information, or if you would like a copy of the pattern it is for sale on Etsy:

Happy crocheting!


If you are interested here are a couple of books with kids crocheting patterns, which I can recommend:



Spirals Everywhere Blanket

Wool Monkey Crochet Spirals Blanket

Sometimes it’s a great idea to ask your kids what they think you should make next and sometimes it backfires, big time.

I made the mistake of asking my girls if they would like it if I made them a blanket each. I told them that it could be their own choice, unique to them.  Of course they said yes and then promptly told me what sort of blankets they would like.  The youngest requested spirals.  Spirals!  Once my brain had recovered from the panic of wondering how I was going to do spirals I naturally said yes, of course you can have spirals.

Hmmmm.  Spirals.  How shall I do spirals. Hmmmmm.  Spirals.   (This is how I spent the next day or so, pondering spirals).Woolly Crochet Spiral Blanket

After several attempts, and lots of frogging, I finally had a spiral in a square and a set of colours chosen by my 5 year old that would hopefully work. All I had to do now was create 23 more spirals!

I must admit, it doesn’t look very good does it.

Since then, I have been spiralling everywhere.

Crocheting Spirals with coffee and cake



Spirals in the cafe, with coffee and cake.
(This is my favourite type of spiral)


Crochet Spiral Blanket



Spirals at the sports hall during my kids gymnastics lessons. (It makes the lessons go really quick)


Crochet Spiral Blanket



Spirals sat at my desk, when I am supposed to be working.  (ooops)

Crochet Spiral Blanket





Spirals in the pub.   (Why not?)



Crochet Spiral Blanket




Spirals sat on the sofa at home.  (This is where most of them get done. I don’t actually have that much of a social life)


Crochet Spiral Blanket




Spirals in a coffee shop.  Again.


I think you probably get the idea by now that I have been doing spirals everywhere I have been recently.

I have been trying to get one done everyday, so that it didn’t become a burden and I still had time for other projects.


My youngest was pretty pleased last week with how her spirals were looking.  Everytime I add to the pile she lays them all out on the floor.  She says she is planning how they are going to fit together.  Hmmm.

Woolly Crochet Spiral Blanket


Four weeks later and I have a large pile of square spirals.  Now begins the bit that I don’t really feel like doing – sewing them all together.   Grrrrrr.

Wool Monkey Crochet Spirals Blanket

 We laid them all out on the bed, trying to arrange them in such a way that meant all the colours were evenly spread out.  This is trickier than you might imagine.  Then, after a little deliberation I decided to use the slip stitch method to join all the squares together.  It gives a nice neat edge to all the squares and is fairly quick.  (Always a good thing).

Once they were all joined together, all that  remained was the edging. Several rounds of edging as it turned out, but nevermind, I thought it finished it off nicely and sometimes it’s worth putting a bit of extra effort into the edging on a large blanket.

Here it is, the finished blanket.  My daughter loves it and has used it on her bed every night.  I was worth the effort I reckon.



If you’re interested in creating your own spiral blanket, then the pattern is available on Etsy: