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…)

 

 

 

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:

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/557964737/

Spice Blanket Free Pattern

A little while ago one of my close friends decided to use up all her oddments and leftovers to make a blanket.  She didn’t make the usual granny blanket though, she just made a really simple blanket in rows, it turned out to be a really lovely blanket. She decided not to keep it though and sent it to the refugees in Syria.  I thought it was a lovely gesture and very generous.

It got me thinking, (as most things seem to).

It was a really quick blanket, really easy and a great way to either use up loads of leftover yarn, or to create a blanket with a multitude of different textures.  So I created a pattern, similar to what I thought my friend had created.  The beauty of it being that it is a great pattern for a beginner, fast to finish (for a blanket) and also really, really relaxing to make. Plus, you don’t get bored as you change yarn and colour every row!

Wool Monkey Crochet Spice Blanket Free Pattern

So, if you fancy giving it a try, then go and find yourself a whole heap of random yarns.  You can colour co-ordinate them or just use a complete mixture of colours, it’s up to you.  You will need at least 1500g OF YARN.  The more wool and natural fibres you include, the more warm and heavy your blanket will be, but also the more yarn you will need.  Try and stick to a mixture of DK, aran and chunky weight if you can, but with a mixture of different textures, fluffy, shiny, cotton, smooth, wool etc. etc.  The DK is worked using 2 strands together to create the thickness required to work with the other yarns.  You can always use 2 different strands together to create different effects if you wish.

You’re also gonna NEED a 5.5mm crochet hook.

Your TENSION should be approximately 9 or 10 treble stitches per 10cm using a 5.5mm hook. The tension is not crucial for this blanket, it will still work fine if you are a bit loose or a bit tight, but it will end up a slightly different size to what is stated.

The FINISHED SIZE of the blanket should be approximately 120cm wide and 150cm long, but it’s not an exact science.  It will vary according to your tension and the type of yarns your use. The width can very easily be changed by increasing or decreasing the number of starting chains.  To create the length you want simply keep working the rows until you reach the size you want.

Let’s have a look at the pattern.

FOUNDATION ROW    Using a 5.5mm hook, make 142 chains. spice-chains1

It is absolutely essential that you do not make your chains too tight or the edge of the blanket will be tighter than the rest and look pulled.  Your chains should look nice and loose. Don’t worry if you don’t have the exact number it will not affect the pattern, just the size of the blanket.

 

SET UP ROW   spice-trebles2

Working back along your foundation row, miss the first 2 chains, then do a treble crochet into the third chain. Follow this with 1 treble stitch into each chain to the end of the row.

 

 

ROW 1   spice-row-end3

Change to a different yarn. I picked my yarns blindly from my bag to make sure my blanket had a certain amount of randomness to it, but you can choose your yarns however you like. Bear in mind that because your yarns are all different some will go further than others and you may run out of some well before others too.

Using your new yarn, work 2 chain stitches, then turn your work.  These will count as a treble stitch at the beginning of the row.

spice-line-up-5

Work 1 treble stitch between the posts of the first and second stitches on the row below.

If you are worried that you are going to have lots and lots of yarn ends to sew in after you have finished your blanket then you can work the ends in as you go.  Hold the end of the yarns you need to work in above the row of stitches that you are about to work.  As you crochet a stitch make sure that you work around these strands and that they are incorporated inside the stitch.

spice6

Continue along the row, working 1 treble stitch between the posts of each stitch on the row below, to the end of the row.

The ends of the yarn you are working in will disappear into the centre of your stitches as you go.

 

Repeat Row 1 for every row of your blanket, changing to a different yarn for each row and preferably working the ends in as you go.

spice-7

When you have finished your blanket it is up to you whether you put an edge on your blanket or not.  If you do want to edge your blanket I think the easiest way is to do a round of double crochet stitches all the way around.

Choose a yarn, join your yarn to one corner of your blanket, do 2 double crochet stitches into the corner then double crochet stitches evenly all along the edge.  When you get to the next corner do 2 double crochet stitches again and then double crochets down the next side. Continue in this way until you have worked all the way around the blanket then slip stitch to join the end of the round and fasten off your yarn.  You’ll have to sew the end in this time though.

Wool Monkey Crochet Spice Blanket Free Pattern

 

So, then the only remaining question is what to do with your finished blanket?

Did you make it with a purpose, for a friend or relative? Or just to use up your oddments?

I wrote the pattern and have made it freely available in the hope that people might decide to use up their oddments for a good cause, but if you make it for yourself that is perfectly ok by me.

If you don’t really have a use for it and just made it for the sake of making it,  then why not donate it to a worthy cause?  Refugees, homeless, elderly, orphans – there are lots of people out there in need of warm blankets and it’s a little bit like giving a complete stranger  a massive hug.  It’ll make you feel all warm and cosy inside too knowing you’ve done something nice.  Either way, get in touch and show us your finished blankets, it’s always nice to see what folks have created.

Happy crocheting and thank you Sarah!

 

 

Mitts Galore

It turns out that the fingerless mitts from our recent workshop at Cafe Creme’s Crafty Cafe session were quite popular, so, I have left a basket of completed mitts in the Cafe for you all to purchase if you wish.

I figure that not everybody will want to make their own and that ready made is sometimes preferable. Christmas is coming after all and who doesn’t want some lovely warm, soft mitts as a pressie?  They are all made with blends of alpaca, silk and merino wool and they come in a range of lovely shades.

So, get yourself down to the cafe, on the High Street in Penistone and try a pair on.  Or, if North Sheffield is just a bit too far for you, get in touch and I will happily send you a pair.

If you would still prefer to make your own, the pattern is available on Etsy for the aran weight version and I will write up the pattern for the chunky version as soon as I get a minute.

Easy Peasy Crochet Mitts Pattern

 

When you’ve had a go and think you might like to make gloves and mittens for all your family for Christmas here are a couple of other books which have loads of patterns in them for you to try, so you don’t get bored.

(click on the images to go look inside the books)