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!

 

www.paperandlandscapes.com/crochet-cactus-free-pattern/

 

 

 

 

I think this one is my favourite.

https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/opuntia-cactus  

 

 

 

 

 

www.coolcreativity.com/crochet/10-desert-cactus-amiguru

mi-crochet-patterns/3

 

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

https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/cactus-03

 

 

 

 

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

https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/cactus-fico-dindia

 

 

 

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

https://www.tejiendoperu.com/amigurumi/cactus-nopal/

 

 

This is quite a chunky opuntia.

https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/cactus-18

 

 

 

 

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

https://www.amigurumipatterns.net/shop/Super-Cute-Design/Cactus-Friends/

 

 

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. 

 

http://sewingbarefoot.blogspot.com/2012/11/knit-cactus.html

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/woolly-cacti-one-pattern-three-looks

 

 

 

 

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…)

 

 

 

Trinity Infinity Scarf

Trinity Knitted Scarf

Talk about lace knitting and many knitters will squeak quietly, retreat into a corner and hope nobody asks them about it.

It can be a very daunting challenge for the novice knitter. All those complicated stitches, in complicated patterns, with yarn that is so thin you can barely see it.

Lace doesn’t have to be like that though.  You don’t need many lace stitches to give a beautiful lace effect and is doesn’t have to be done with lace weight yarn.  After all, lace knitting is simply a matter of creating strategically placed holes in your work and holes are holes regardless of the thickness of the yarn.

Personally I love lace, but then I love complicated stuff in any form, I can’t help it. More satisfying than creating my own complicated stuff though, is helping others to gain a bit more confidence with the complicated stuff too.

So, back to the project in question.  The Trinity Scarf.  It’s a lace infinity scarf, made a bit thicker than normal and with an easy pattern repeat.  Don’t panic about the infinity bit, all that means is that the ends are joined together to give you one complete loop, which doesn’t need to be complicated at all.

I believe I actually made this scarf well over a year ago with the intention of using it in a beginner workshop and it has been sat on my desk ever since, waiting for me to write the pattern up.  I don’t know why it has taken me so long, I guess I have quite a large pile of work on my desk and this one kept escaping back to the bottom.  That’ssuch a lame excuse, but no longer, it’s finished now.

The pattern is only four rows and the main stitch repeat is only eleven stitches. That’s right, just four rows and a handful of stitches, so no getting lost in massive lace charts or having to write down every single row.  The rows don’t even take that long to do.  There are lace patterns I have done in the past with 500+ stitches on a row which have taken me up to half an hour to do one row.  It’s a bit demoralising when you go to bed after an hour of knitting and you’ve only done two rows.  Not with this pattern.

Trinity Knitted Lace Scarf by Wool Monkey

Here’s a brief look at what the stitches look like.

The other thing I love about this pattern is that it is very versatile.  You can easily make it as long or as wide as you like.  The instructions are all there and easy to do.  Plus, it’s worked in DK yarn, giving you a whole World of choice about what yarn to use.  I used Rowan Alpaca Colour for mine, mainly because I had it to hand, but also because of the lovely and very gradual changes in colour that is gives.   Of course, it’s also lovely and soft because it’s alpaca!

It’s totally your choice what you use and it doesn’t use a lot of yarn, so you can afford to be extravagant if you wish.  I think  something with a little bit of weight to it is nice, as it gives  a good drape, but then again, you could go for the light and airy feel…

If you do want to complicate things then there is of course one way to make the pattern tricky.  When you knit your scarf you have the option to either sew your ends together to make the infinity, or GRAFT your ends together.  I can picture some of you shuddering at the thought, or looking at me slightly bewildered.Trinity Knitted Lace Scarf by Wool Monkey

Grafting is a form of sewing up, but in such a way that you try to create a row of extra stitches between the two pieces which completely hide the join.  If you’ve never had a go before try it, with two pieces of stocking stitch first, so that you have an idea of what it is all about.  There are plenty of instructions out there on the web that should help you get started.  Eventually I will post some notes in the tutorials section, but I haven’t written them yet, sorry about that. Be warned though, that when it comes to grafting lace stitches things can get a bit gritty.  Be prepared for a lot of concentration and most likely a little bit of creative language to go with it.

So, if you would like to have a go, the pattern is available from my Etsy shop

Trinity Lace Scarf Knitting Pattern

Or, if you have any questions, do get in touch, it’s always good to hear from you.

Happy knitting!

Trinity Knitted Lace Scarf by Wool Monkey
Trinity Knitted Lace Scarf by Wool Monkey

 

If you would like to try a little more lace knitting then I know several people who found this book really useful…   (click on the link below for more info)