DIY Yarn Organizer

Have you ever finished a project and had a tiny bit of yarn leftover? It’s such a shame to just chuck it back into the stash and forget about it. That’s exactly what happened to me after I finished knitting the baby kimono. I really wanted to knit a pair of booties to match the kimono but the question is do I have enough yarn? Oh, the stress!

leftover yarn

I wanted to use every last bit of the yarn so I had two choices. I could weigh the yarn and knit precisely half the amount per bootie.

The second option was to cast on both booties at the same time using the two ends of the ball of yarn and knit both sides at the same time. This is what I chose to do. 

knit from both ends

But there was a small hitch. The yarn kept tangling up! Bugger. 

So my hero aka hubby came to the rescue. I asked him to make me a yarn organiser. Naturally he had no idea what I was talking about but he was more than happy to help.

1. Start with a plastic container. I used a round one with a screw on top.

2. Mark 2 holes on opposite sides of the lid. Drill holes. Tidy up any sharp edges with a file. You don’t want your yarn to get caught in the holes.

drill holes in plastic container

You can stop here if you haven’t cast on yet. Just pop the yarn into the container and thread the ends of the yarn through the holes. BUT if you’re like me and in the middle of a project, you will need the following steps.

3. Using a small serrated knife, cut through the lid towards the holes. Use the pictures below to guide you. Again use a file to make sure all the edges are smooth.

Cut lid

Lid with holes

Drop the ball of yarn into your new yarn organizer. Using the slits on the lid, thread the yarn into the holes. Screw the lid back on. Knit away!

knitting with yarn organiser

Pretty easy, huh? So I knitted until I ran out of one colour and then changed to the other colour. I ran out of yarn for the soles and just used a small amount of unlabelled pink yarn from my stash. Worked out perfectly actually! Who would have thought.

stay on baby booties

Free pattern: Stay-on baby booties 
Yarn: Treliske Organic Merino 4 ply from Ecoyarns and Kathy’s Fibres SW Sock
Needles: 2.5mm
Ravelry project page

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Ecoyarns Top Down Socks Part 2 Heel Turn

This part of the sock recipe is the one that makes beginners nervous. Never fear, give it a try and we have provided a wordy version of the heel turn with pictures to help.

Abbreviations

Sl: Slip 

k: knit 

p: purl 

k2tog: knit 2 together

p2tog: purl 2 together

ssk: slip 2 stitches knitwise, insert left needle into front of the 2 slipped stitches, knit through back loops.

Heel flap

Redistribute stitches for 32 stitches on one needle (Heel stitches) and 16 stitches each on 2 other needles. 

Sock_heel_setup_

Working back and forth only on the 32 heel stitches 

Row 1: (Slip 1, knit 1) repeat until end of needle.

Row 2: Sl 1 purl to end. 

Row 3: Sl 1, (sl 1, k1) repeat until 1 stitch is left, k1.

Row 4: Sl 1, purl to end.

Repeat these 4 rows until there are 31 rows in total, finish with Row 3.

Heel turn

Next row, start heel turn: purl 18, p2tog, p1, turn. 

(These are short rows and you only knit SOME of the stitches in each row)

Sl 1, k5, ssk, k1, turn.

Sl 1, p6, p2tog, p1, turn.

Sl 1, k7, ssk, k1, turn.

Sl 1, p8, p2tog, p1, turn. Continue in this way until all stitches are used.

The last ssk, will NOT have a matching k1, and the last p2tog also does not have a matching p1,but it requires a yarnover to start the next row. Please see picture.

How to Yarnover at the beginning of a row: bring yarn to the front, insert needle into first stitch as to knit, bring yarn over the needle to the back to knit this first stitch.

(Note: The yarnover is to reduce the chance of a hole forming at this spot. If the instructions are too confusing, just omit this yarnover for simplicity, it will not change the pattern. Optional instructions are in italics.)

Sock_heel_yo1Sock_heel_yo2

There should be 1 yarnover and 18 stitches on your needle.

Sock_heel_turn

Rearrange the 2 needles holding 16 stitches each for the top of the foot to 1 needle holding 32 stitches.

Pick up 16 stitches along the edge of the heel flap. I picked up 15 stitches along the edge, then the 16th stitch was from the stitch in the corner turn. This minimises a hole in that area. Place Marker. 

Sock_pick_upSock_pick_up_2Sock_corner

Knit in pattern across the 32 stitches for the top of the foot. Place Marker.

Pick up 1 stitch in the corner between the leg of the sock and the heel flap, then pick up 15 stitches along the side of the heel flap. 16 stitches picked up. 

Slip the yarnover from the previous row then knit across 9 heel stitches.

At this point, you should have 27 stitches on Needle 1, MARKER 1, 32 stitches on Needle 2, MARKER 2, 27 stitches plus 1 yo on Needle 3.

Decreasing heel stitches

Decrease round: K to 3 stitches before Marker 1, k2tog, k1, slip marker. Knit in pattern across top of foot. Slip Marker 2, k1, ssk, knit to stitch before the yarnover, slip yarnover as if to knit slip the next stitch, knit these 2 stitches through the back loop, then knit to base of heel.

This completes the first round of decreasing. 

All subsequent decrease rounds will not have the extra ssk for the yarnover.

Plain round: Knit all stitches to marker, slip marker, knit in pattern across top of foot, slip marker 2, knit all stitches.

Repeat these two rounds until each of the two heel needles have 16 stitches remaining on each.

Sock_heel_ndl1Sock_heel_ndl2

Additional Note: In case you did not notice from the photos, I do not actually use stitch markers, but use the space between two needles as the indicator for decreasing the heel stitches.

 

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Kawaii baby kimono

Hiya! Hope you’re happy and healthy where you are. It’s the cold and flu season around here and it’s been like walking acoss a minefield when I’m out and about, dodging the sneezing and coughing. Thankfully I haven’t caught anything serious. Phew!

So do you remember the baby kimono I showed you in my previous blog post? Well I used the nicely wound mini skein of handdyed yarn to neaten up the edges around that baby kimono. As you can see from the photo below, the bind off edge around the neckline has left a rather ugly stair step. Yuck. We can’t leave it like that, can we?

20120506 attached i-cord on baby kimono

To neaten this up, I knitted an attached i-cord right around the edges. I’m not very good at remembering technical stuff so I used this attached i-cord tutorial from Purl Bee to refresh my memory. The colourful i-cord also added a much needed zing to the kimono. It is after all for a baby.

And here is the finished jacket. Ta-da! A super kawaii (cute) baby kimono for my girl.

Baby Kimono

Interesting fact – Did you know that kimonos are worn left over right? It doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female. They only dress corpses right over left! So take note when knitting a kimono for yourself. You don’t want to wear it the wrong way. Might be bad luck or something.

Free pattern: Garter stitch baby kimono (Ravelry download)
Yarn: Treliske Organic Merino 4ply from Ecoyarns and Kathy’s Fibres SW Sock
Needles: 2.5 mm and 3.0 mm
Mods: Cast on for newborn but knit length longer (1-3 months length) to make it less boxy. Attached i-cord edging.  
Ravelry project page

baby kimono and stay-on booties

I had some leftover yarn from the jacket so I knitted booties to match. But there’s a bit of a story and a tutorial with those booties. So until next time, stay warm and keep on knitting!

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SOCK KNITTING Part 1

Happy Mothers Day!

I do hope you enjoyed your Mothers’ Day as much as I did. 

I would like to introduce the Newcastle Farmers’ Market. This fresh food market is fantastic for fresh produce direct from the producers and includes small artisan made items. The Umbrella Artisans carries some of our Ecoyarns, including some of Vivian’s handspun yarns and fibres and batts for spinning or felting.

The Ecoyarns Top Down Sock was previewed several weeks ago, if you missed the instructions, here they are again

For those who are really keen to cast on those Top-down socks, Using 2.25mm needles, cast on 64 stitches and join in the round. K2 p2 for 20 rows.

Use either double pointed needles (dpns) or 2 circular needles

The yarn I am using is ANNA, this yarn knits up at a light fingering to fingering guage for the Americans, or 3-4 ply for us Aussies.

It is perfect for baby items like booties and socks of course.

Materials:
2.25mm needles dpns
Sock yarn 100g for an average sized foot. Larger feet will need more yarn.

Cast on 65 stitches onto one needle, divide the stitches onto 3 needles ( usually 20, 20, 25 stitches). Carefully join into a round. The last stitch is passed over to the first needle and it and the first stitch cast on are then knitted together for a jogless join. See picture.
Mark beginning of round. 
I used the Twisted German Cast On as I find it strong yet stretchy. This LINK takes you to a YouTube Video to show how it is done.

Rounds 1-20 : K2 P2 repeat till end of round.
Option to K2 P2 for 10cm.

Round 21: Knit all stitches.
Round 22: (Knit 3, Purl 1) repeat till end of round.
Rounds 23-24 : Knit al stitches.

Repeat Rounds 21-24 until leg measures 12 cm (or until length preferred).

Sock_1Sock_2Sock_3Sock_4Sock_5
Sock_6_k2tog
Sock_7
Sock_8
Next week we will continue the pattern from the heel of the sock.

Photo competition

Fancy being a winner?
Send in your photos of items made with Ecoyarns or Fabrics, including laces and go in our draw for prizes.
Send photos to ecoyarnstore@ecoyarns.com.au by the 31st of May to enter the draw.
Winners will be drawn on the 3rd of June.

First prize $100 gift voucher
Second prize $50 gift voucher
Third prize $30 gift voucher

Please include your name, email address and postal address.

Legal bits: You own the right to the photograph, we only ask that we have your permission use the photo on the Ecoyarns website, emails or blog for 2012 only.

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Tutorial: Winding a (mini) skein of yarn using basic household items

Hello! How is everyone today? It’s starting to feel like winter is almost upon us here in Sydney. I’ve actually started wearing my handknitted sweaters again. Yay!

Today’s blog post is to complement Vivian’s tutorial a few weeks ago about skeining and balling hand-dyed yarn. I have an alternative method to show you where I use basic household items to wind skeins of yarn into balls. I find this way of winding especially good for winding mini sampler skeins of yarn. My pretty sampler skein is from Kathy’s Fibres and it was part of the Ewe Beaut Fibre Sampler. Pretty, isn’t it?

Did you know that Ecoyarns is a regular contributer to Ewe Beaut and other sampler boxes? Subscribe now to our blog (RSS) and newsletter (email) so you never miss out!

Tools you’ll need:
2 heavy containers – I use a coffee tumbler and coffee jar filled with water
Toilet paper roll 

20120506 Winding tools

1. Unwind your skein and untie the ends. A larger skein of yarn probably has shorter bits of yarn tied around the skein to hold it together. Remove these. 

2. Place the untwisted skein over the containers as shown below. For larger skeins, use the back of two chairs as Vivian explained in her tutorial.

20120506 Wind yarn around jars

3. Cut 2 slits on opposings sides (on one end) of your toilet paper roll. Slip one end of the yarn into the toilet paper roll. See pictures below.

4. Start winding the yarn around the toilet paper roll. Do this for a few rounds. Keep a loose, even tension.

20120506 Wind yarn around toilet paper roll

5. Wind the yarn at an angle and slowly move the toilet paper roll around. It should start looking like this. 

20120506 Keep winding around toilet paper roll

6. Ta-da! You have now wound a skein into a ball. I find that knitting directly from this toilet paper roll is easier when you don’t have much yarn. But if you started with a full size skein, then you can just squeeze the toilet paper roll and slide it out. It then becomes a neat centre-pull ball.

20120506 Wound mini skein

I’ve shown you a sneek peak of my current project. I used this pretty handpainted yarn to finish the baby kimono I knitted for my girl. But that’s for another week. I can’t wait to show you the finished product. To quote the hubby, “That’s the cutest thing you’ve made so far!” :))

Happy knitting!

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Cotton Jersey + Muslin Baby Set

It’s funny where we get inspiration. I was at Spotlight looking for fabric to sew a teddy bear and came across the cutest printed muslin fabric. Even my hubby got excited over it and actually told me to buy it. HE told ME to buy MORE fabric. Strange but true! 

I wasn’t actually sure what to make with the muslin. I didn’t even know how much I needed. I just bought a metre and thought I’ll make some washcloths or a small wrap for my baby. I’m 25 weeks pregnant now. How time flies! She’ll be here in no time. Yikes! So many things to do still.

Anyway, I digress. I was inspired by this blanket and this baby wrap tutorials. I thought I could combine them and make my own baby blanket out of the muslin fabric and the organic cotton jersey fabric from Ecoyarns, which has been in my fabric stash for yonks. The final result is beauuuttifulll and better than expected. I’m so proud to show you my first ever baby blanket.

Muslin blanket on crib rail

Yep. That’s the name we’ve picked for our baby girl. Baby Yasmin. Do you like it?

Muslin blanket folded

Muslin blanket both sides

I used the organic cotton jersey fabric for the back and the quirky printed muslin for the front. The jersey fabric gives a good weight and warmth to the blanket. I think it’ll be a great year round blanket for Sydney’s weather.

Muslin blanket pile

To be honest, I want one for myself! It’s just so soft and squishy. Hubby and I were fighting over it on the sofa. Hahaha…

Muslin blanket in cot

If you’re thinking that I was so clever to combine the red and brown for the binding, think again. It was a big fluke! I didn’t know how much bias tape I needed and I could not decide on the colour at Spotlight. So I bought one pack each (5 metres per pack) and it was a good thing I did! When I was doing the binding, I realised I needed both packs so that’s why it’s half brown and half red. A wonderful accident!

Here’s another excellent tutorial I would like to share. As this was my first time sewing on bias tape, I was rather clueless. YouTube video tutorial from Amy Karol to the rescue! It is truly a no-swear method.

Well, it won’t be a baby set if it was just a blanket, right? Of course not. I sewed matching hats too. Ta-da…

Cotton baby hats

Aren’t they just so sweet? The organic cotton jersey fabric was the star of the show this time. You can find the clear photo tutorial and template here to sew your own baby hats.

I’m as proud of these baby hats as I am with the blanket. I overcame my fear of sewing with jersey knit fabric and even learned to use the elastic overlock stitch on my sewing machine. Yay me!

Cotton blanket and hat set

Well I hope I’ve inspired you to get sewing. Something. Anything. Instant gratification is such a good therapy for busy people like you and me. To enable you even more, I would like to remind you that Ecoyarns FINAL FABRIC CLEARANCE is still on. All fabrics are 50% off! Yessereee. A big fat 5-0. I cannot emphasize to you more how cool an opporutunity this is to stock up on organic cotton fabric. And ladies, it’s a clearance. Once they’re gone, they’re gone forever.

Go on then. Go crazy. It’s your last chance! 

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Skeining and balling a hand-dyed yarn

Alright. So now you have a skein of yarn, dried on the line after getting really bright with jelly colours. What are you going to do with this? 

Option 1: Skein/Hank it up and store it because you already have several other projects on the needles so this has to wait. This form reduces stress on the yarn, so this is the preferred option for longer term storage. The yarn will not be overstretched when you knit your garment.

OR

Option 2: Wind it into a ball now and cast on immediately. There are many sock and shawl patterns that would work with this amount of yarn.

Over the next few weeks we will bring you a simple sock pattern step by step.

1) Skeining/Hanking

I stretch the yarn between my two hands with my finger through the loop at both ends, then rotate one hand to start twisting. At one point the yarn will start to twist on itself, at this point, hold your hands firmly at the same distance from each other and add another 2 twists to the yarn, then rapidly bring your hands together allowing the extra twist to move into the skein. Tuck one end into the loop at the other end and TA-DA! there is a skein/hank.

There should be a nice fluffy twist to the yarn. 

When I first tried this, it took me about 10 tries to get it right.

_skeining_1
Skeining_2Skeining_3Skeining_4Skeining_5

2) Winding into a Ball by hand

I asked my kids to demonstrate this. First one person holds the yarn taut with their hands/forearms.The other person gently finds the ties that hold the yarn together and very carefully unties the knots. Usually two ends are tied together for security, pick either one, but if one end clearly lies on the outside of the skein, then start winding with this. Sometimes there are 2 ends tied onto different parts of the skein, pick one that looks the least tangled.

Winding
Winding_2_butterflyWinding_6Winding_3Winding_9Winding_7

Start winding the yarn onto your hands, forming a figure 8 between your thumb and pinkie. When this little bundle gets slightly puffy, release your fingers, fold it in half and start winding the yarn around across the strands.

Continue winding this way until there is a sizable ball in your hands, rotating the growing ball of yarn every few times as yarn is wound onto the ball.

I know some very clever people that can make perfect spheres, egg shapes and can even leave the inside yarn tail in the middle as a center pull ball.

As you are winding, try not to pull the yarn too taut, because if the yarn is stored that way, it can lose some elasticity and give an incorrect gauge when knitting with overstretched yarn. The correct tension for your ball should feel like it gives a little when squeezed, like a juggling ball, not hard like a cricket ball.

Well, frankly handwinding is pretty tedious and boring, and there might not be a willing volunteer to hold the yarn for you. Thats ok, try the back of a chair, or flip the chair over and drape the yarn over the legs. Or invest in a swift and ball winder.

PREVIEW:

For those who are really keen to cast on those Top-down socks, Using 2.25mm needles, cast on 64 stitches and join in the round. K2 p2 for 20 rows.

Use either double pointed needles (dpns) or 2 circular needles

more pictures and instructions coming in 2 weeks as Salihan is our blogger next week!

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Jelly Dyeing Just for Fun

Salihan asked for some pretty green, pink and purple yarn to use for her expected baby and I thought: “Ah Ha!” perfect excuse to do some Jelly Dyeing.

So, I pulled out some simple kitchen items and found some jelly packets. Rummaged in the shop and pulled out the Undyed Sock yarns. This became a morning of fun for me and my kids in this Easter school holidays. Whilst the materials are safe and kids usually have lots of fun putting colours onto yarn, an adult supervisor is always recommended. 

Materials:

  • Yarn undyed 100% wool we used Tamara 100% Wool Tweed yarn 100g and Anna 100% Falkland Wool 100g
  • Bowls or dishes
  • Jars for mixing the jelly
  • Packets of Jelly: Purple (Port Wine) Pink (Bubblegum) Green (Lime) Blue (Berry Blue)
  • We used Aeroplane Jelly, any coloured jelly will work (Jelly made with natural colours will give colours that are muted)
  • Stirrer, tongs as required
  • Protective items: aprons, gloves
  • Kettle for boiling water
  • Microwave

Jelly_dye_1

Firstly, I tied the Tamara yarn in 3 places. Not too tight, or the colour will not penetrate the yarn.

I soaked the yarns in warm tap water so they are thoroughly wet. Anyone fancy a bit of yarn spaghetti? or “Pisghetti” as my 4 yo says it.

Jelly_dye_spaghetti

Empty the jelly packets into the jars and add about 100-200ml of boiling water, stir well. I tend not to be exact with water quantity as it does not affect the final result. The way you apply the colour will change the final result. More on this in a future post.

Jelly_dyeing_2

With my gloved hands, I separated the Tamara yarn into 3 bowls, then poured the 3 different colours (pink, purple and green) into the bowls and pushed the yarn into the colour mixture gently with a stirrer. Making sure the white parts of the yarn also receive some colour. 

Jelly_dye_x3

Place this 3 bowl extravaganza into the microwave. Turn microwave on High for 3 minutes.

Jelly_dye_microwave

If there are some white spots that you want coloured, used gloved hands or tongs to squeeze the white yarn through the colour solutions gently and repeat the 3 minutes the in the microwave. Remove yarn and bowls from microwave carefully. (Don’t scald yourself) Let them cool, then gently pick the yarn up without tangling, very gently squeeze out the excess jelly liquid then place it in plenty of warm water. The water should be bath water temperature.

Soak for 5 min or so. Gently remove, very gently wring dry (or roll in a towel) and hang to dry. Repeat the rinse process if there is remaining jelly smells or any stickiness.

Jelly_dye_tweed

See how the Tamara yarn creates a tweedy effect. This is one strand of superwash wool which take dye up faster and has a stronger intensity, and 2 strands of non superwash wool, which absorbs slightly less colour.

I then prepared the Anna yarn the same way then placed it in a bowl with some warm water. I wanted to achieve a slightly variegated effect, so I poured the colour solution into the middle of the yarn in the bowl, and did not mix it. Then placed in Microwave for 3 min. Allow to cool and rinse as for the other yarn. 

Jelly_dye_blue
Jelly_dye_blue1

Once the yarn is dry, wind into a ball and use for your favourite project. Happy Jelly Dyeing!

I will ask Salihan which yarn she prefers for her baby, and the other yarn is destined to be a new pair of socks. Stay in touch for step by step sock knitting instructions using the yarns you have dyed!

Jelly_dye_on_rack

General Notes:

Be careful not to scald yourself

Wear gloves for protection

Handle the yarn gently as agitation or rapid temperature changes can cause the yarn to felt.

The colour effects are dependent on amount of colour to amount of yarn and the method of application of the colour. Saturated colours require more colouring agent. More on this in a future post.

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Easter is just a hop away!

Crochet Easter Bunny

Look who’s popped over to say hello today. It’s Miss Bunny. *waves* She’s very excited because Easter is just a hop and a skip away. She was looking for chocolate Easter eggs and got stuck in the fruit bowl. Silly girl. I helped her out of course.

Crocher bunny and bear (sides)

She was looking high and low for the chocolate eggs when she felt someone following her. Who is behind you, Miss Bunny?

Crochet bear

Oh! It’s your beary good friend, Little Sleepy Bear. Hello cutie pie! Are you looking for chocolate Easter eggs too? *nods*

Crochet Bunny and bear

I hope both of you find those chocolate eggs. I’m sure there’s some around somewhere. 🙂

Crochet pattern: Crochet Spring Bunnies (It’s free!)
Yarn: EcoOrganic Cotton from Ecoyarns
Hook: 3.5mm (E)

 

Pssst…

I have pinned other great Easter craft ideas on my Easter Fun board.

Pinterest Easter Screen Shot

Don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest while you’re there! Have a good long weekend! 

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Lazy Weekend + Crocheting

Hi everyone! How was your weekend? It was a little cold and overcast around here. But I’m thankful for every drop of sunshine I can get on the weekends. I’m definitely not missing the rain.

Mt Ettalong

We had a quiet one and spent a little bit of time outdoors, just the hubby and I. We went bushwalking and strolled along the beach. The cool weather kept most families away but the die hard swimmers were not put off by the cold water and there were weekend fishermen along the rocks trying their luck. The café near the beach was, however, bustling with families having brunches and boy, the coffee aroma was so terribly tantalising! Although I do miss having a proper cup of coffee every weekend, I was good and stayed away. I already had my daily dose of caffeine that morning. 

Pearl Beach

Anyway, I had grand plans of showing you the Milo vest (pattern in Ravelry) I’ve been knitting on and off. I thought I would have it finished by now but I had a little problem with it and have lost interest in it. You see, I didn’t check my gauge. I intended the vest to be worn from newborn to 3 months but because of my lazines, the vest is too big! The chest size will suit a 6 month old and older. Argh!

Milo WIP

It isn’t the end of the world of course. It just means my baby girl will only get to wear it late Summer or Autumn next year. So as you can imagine, I’ve lost motivation to finish the vest right now. Instead I’ve been pottering around with other things. Pretty sweet things to be exact. 

What do you think? Are you in love with this granny bunting as much as I am? I’ve got a toothache just looking at it! It was so quick to crochet and I added the little flowers to make it even sweeter.

Granny Bunting with flowers

I have it hung over my TV in the living room at the moment. The colours really stand out against the dark blue wall. I think I’ll have to crochet another one to hang over the crib in the nursery. Yes, I think I might have to do just that.

Notice that I’ve got Letters and Numbers on the telly. I love that show! Do you? I am truly amazed by the skills displayed on the show. How do they work out the letters and numbers so fast? I hope watching it will let rub some of that cleverness onto me. 

Bunting banner

Can you work out what I’m trying to say here:

I <3 EcoOrganic Cotton

That’s right! I LOVE EcoOrganic Cotton yarn! 🙂

Crochet patterns used:

Happy crocheting!

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P.S. Ecoyarns have pledged to support Tree Henge with a percentage of its profits. All money raised from Tree Henge is put back to restore life to Australia’s natural environment. Thank you for helping Ecoyarns support this worthy cause!