June 2021 – Blogalong!
Long term Little Box of Crochet aficionados, may remember our Woodland Wreath (designed by Kate Eastwood of Just Pootling) from wayyyyyyy back in 2016:
Three years later, Kate designed an Advent Wreath for us. This project evoked not just Christmas but all of winter with its abundance of wintery foliage and seasonal fruits:
And then, last summer, we had the utterly joyous Summer Seaside Wreath, resplendent with its buckets, spades, fishies, beach huts, seaweed and crabs:
It was, of course, another Kate Eastwood triumph.
All these wreath patterns are available as PDF downloads in the BOOKS section of our website:
Looking back at these past LBC/Just Pootling collabs, there was an obvious seasonal gap that we needed Kate to fill…. We’re so excited that this glorious June box is crammed full of springy coloured yarn and everything you’ll need to make a wreath that will plug that gap!
Spring is my favourite season even though we had a pretty damp squib of one here in the UK this year. Mark Twain once said: “Inside the spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.” … Well, Mark: I can top that. Here in Lamarsh, hidden away on the Essex/Suffolk border, I counted one-hundred-and-thirty-SEVEN different kinds of weather one strange spring day a couple of weeks back, when we had – amongst a smorgasbord of weather systems – hail.
At the end of MAY 🙄🙄🙄
So, whilst this June box is arriving with you at the same time as summer arrives in the Northern Hemisphere, it allows us the luxury of hanging onto spring a little while longer – even if it’s just spring of a crochet variety.
This gorgeous project, with its spring flowers and March hare, reminds us that nature is the very best artist of all. To quote the late, great Robin Williams: “Spring is nature’s way of saying, “let’s party!” And, in this instance, by ‘party’, I mean, of course, crochet.
BEFORE YOU START THE WREATH….
PLEASE make a tension square – as per the pattern book – using the hook and yarn from the box, before you start.
If your swatch comes out larger than 10x10cm, your tension may be too loose to achieve a nice aesthetic and you’ll use more yarn than you would with the correct tension. Frog the square and try with the next hook size down.
There’s plenty of yarn for the hare, daffodils, blossom, grass and leaves – you’ll be able to make more of these elements to personalise your wreath if you like. Or simply add the leftover yarn to the bulging yarn stash that I just know you have, for future projects. But even though there’s an abundance of the yarn for these elements, it’s still worth working to the recommended tension to get a crisp, neat finish – like Kate’s.
Your tension becomes even more important with the wreath cover. If your tension is too loose, the cover will look baggy and saggy (and no one wants that, eh?) and you could run out of the yarn used here. So please, please, PLEASE check before you get going.
Frog the square and reuse the yarn once you’ve checked your tension – especially if you’re using either IVY or PISTACHIO for the square as you’ll need almost a complete ball of this colour to complete the wreath cover.
*** Remember that Little Box of Crochet patterns are all worked in UK crochet terms ***
The wreath base is made from 2 cardboard bands and will be a very familiar process for those of you who made the Advent Wreath and/or the Summer Seaside wreath.
Use the outer cardboard packaging your June box arrived in. If you didn’t read our tracking email for this box and have already whisked away the packaging for recycling, any stiff cardboard will do.
You’ll need a tape measure; a pen or pencil; some good sharp scissors or a craft knife; and 2 circular objects with a diameter of 20cm and 13cm – hunt through your kitchen drawers or supply of plant pots. Do make sure that the objects you use have the recommended diameter – the cover won’t fit properly if you go too big or too small. I used a side plate for the larger circle and a bowl for the smaller circle.
Draw around the larger circular object and then use the smaller object to draw inside the first circle. Don’t forget to check that the difference between the big and small circle is the same all the way round – 3.5cm. Repeat to make a second band and then glue or tape them together.
Don’t worry too much if your bands look a little lumpy round the edges where you’ve cut them out, the wreath cover is forgiving and will hide this for you.
This is where we had to make one of two yarn substitutions in this box thanks to the supply issues we mention in our booklet Intro. Some of you will be using IVY (83) for the cover, while others will find they have PISTACHIO (86) in their box.
Our cover starts with a very long chain of 176 stitches. I’m easily distracted and long chains are my crochet nemesis so I usually add stitch markers (either in every 25th chain or every 50th chain depending how far I feel able to count up to!) along the chain to help me keep track.
Once the chain is complete, turn and, starting in the second chain from your hook, work a dc (remember that our patterns are all worked in UK crochet terms) into each chain:
The ch1 at the end of row 1 (and throughout) does NOT count as a stitch so the first dc of row 2 is worked here:
I like to pop a stitch marker into the first and last stitches of each row. Once you start with increases and decreases, it can sometimes be a little tricky to work out where these first and last row stitches are and the markers become super helpful.
DECREASE STITCHES / DC2TOG
Row 3 introduces decrease stitches (dc2tog) and its these that create the inward curve of the wreath cover. The decreases join 2 double crochet stitches together at the top to make one stitch:
1. Work the first part of a double crochet (insert your hook into the next stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop) but don’t complete this dc – instead, insert the crochet hook into the next stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop. You will now have 3 loops on your hook.
2. Now yarn over and pull through all three loops and they will be joined into one stitch. I pop a stitch marker in the top of that decrease stitch so I can easily spot it when I work back along the row.
I tick off each row as I complete them to keep my place in the pattern but you could use a sticky post-it note to mark your place or a row counter app if you’re fancy (I am not).
After 6 rows of simple double crochet, from row 16 we start curving our cover back outwards again with the introduction of increases – 2dcs into one stitch.
By the time you get to row 23, your piece will be an interesting ruffle shape, like so:
You might suspect this will never cover your cardboard base but fold it in half along the middle and – bingo! – the shape begins to emerge. Offering it up to the cardboard wreath base, I can see that it will easily cover it:
Remember you want a nice snug finish so a little pulling and shaping might be needed. You could add a repeat of row 23 if you really don’t think the cover will stretch but at this point, if you worked to tension and carefully measured your cardboard bands, it should.
Pin the two long sides of the crochet together, sandwiching the cardboard base inside:
Dc the two edges together all the way round:
You could sew around this long join if you find it too fiddly to crochet together but you won’t get this neat, sharp edge to your wreath by sewing it:
When you’ve crocheted all the way round, fasten off, leaving a long-ish yarn tail. Thread the bodkin with this yarn tail and stitch the two short ends of the crochet piece together:
If (like me) you’re not the neatest sewer in the world, don’t worry – you can make sure that this join is covered up by your grassy bank when you add all the elements.
Tada! Your dog halo is now neatly covered in delicious Rico cotton:
I’m lucky enough to live in a village where I often see hares but it still takes my breath away whenever I see these lovely animals. They’ve become associated with the start of spring because they change their behaviour at this time of year. Generally shy and reclusive for much of the year, in spring their ‘Mad March’ mating rituals are visible in fields that are still bare from winter. The leaping in the air that looks like a boxing match, is actually ovulating females landing blows on over-amorous male suitors!:
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that the strongest and most persistent male will win the female over.
Fossil records show that hare’s ancestors were around at the time of the dinosaurs, so their ability to run fast has always been a particularly useful survival strategy. Hares are actually Britain’s fastest land mammal, able to reach speeds of 45 miles an hour!
The Little Box of Crochet hare isn’t running away from dinosaurs or beating up hares that are weedier than himself, he’s holding a daffodil – just for you.
Some of you might like to have your hare shyly holding a surprise daffodil behind his back:
Others might prefer a more confident hare, boldly offering up his daffodil!
This part of the wreath is where we had to make the other of the two yarn substitutions in this box. Some of you will be using NUDE (52) for the hare tummy and chest, while others will find they have NATURE (51) in their box.
TIPS FOR WORKING SMALL AMIGURUMI PARTS
Our hare is made using amigurumi – the Japanese art of crocheting small stuffed 3d objects – and you’ll find he’ll look his best if you crochet tightly so that the stuffing doesn’t peep through.
Amigurumi is worked in continuous rounds (no slip stitch to finish the round) so to ensure I don’t lose my place (its hard to count rounds of double crochet), I mark the first stitch of each round with a stitch marker (you could mark the last stitch if you prefer) and I use a pencil to mark off each round as I complete it (or you could use a sticky post-it note to mark your place).
The hare isn’t difficult as such. It’s just continuous rounds of double crochet. But make sure you read the pattern carefully – there are occasional repeated rounds (eg rounds 4-6 on the hare body) that if you overlook, you’ll end up with a slightly misshapen hare! With these rounds, I’ll write each round number in pencil (so in this instance ‘4, 5, 6’) and cross them off when they’ve been worked. Just take your time, read each round CAREFULLY as you proceed and you’ll be grand, I promise.
All the hare parts start with a magic ring. If you’re not sure how to do this, please watch this fab tutorial from our Moo and all will become clear:
I don’t snip off the starting yarn tails, I just tuck them inside the piece and continue to work in rounds.
When you crochet these kinds of ‘tube’ amigurumi parts with small rounds, it can sometimes be a little difficult to see where to work the next stitch. I overcome this by pressing the piece flat with the next stitch to be worked facing me. I work that stitch (making sure not to go through the back loops too), turn and press the piece flat again and so on. Here’s a great little tutorial that shows this technique:
Using this technique will really help you see where the next stitch is worked. I’d also make sure you’re working in good light. Working in poor lighting will make your eyes tired as they struggle to focus, will make the stitches harder to spot and will increase frustration! There are all kinds of great fancy crafting lamps and even light-up crochet hooks, but if you don’t have those, please make sure you’re not working in low light. Use a contrast to the pale coloured yarn by working over a dark desk or draping a dark coloured cloth over your lap. It really helps. Especially if you have old lady eyesight like me.
Pop a stitch marker in the 1st of those 6 dcs of round 1. You’re working continuously so no need for a slip stitch to complete the round. Instead begin round 2 by working the first of those 2dc in the stitch with the marker.
Move the stitch marker up into the first stitch of this row (and do this at the beginning of each round) to mark your place and enable you to count your stitches in each round:
Kate mentions using a stitch marker to mark your place in round 6 but I’d already done this from the beginning. Out of habit I always place the stitch marker in the first stitch of each round but they can equally be placed in the last as Kate suggests, if you prefer.
The first decrease stitches (dc2tog) that will help shape the hare appear in round 7. We looked at how to work these in the cover section.
Also in round 7 you’ll begin working with 2 colours as we add in that second colour for our hare’s chest and tummy. You don’t need to fasten off with each yarn change (phew!), just work over the colour not in use until its needed again.
Don’t work the yarn over/pull through of the last of those 10dcs in round 7. Instead drop the LIGHT GREY yarn, pick up your NUDE (or NATURE) yarn and complete the yarn over/pull through with this new colour:
I tuck the NUDE/NATURE yarn tail inside the body of the hare and give the LIGHT GREY and NUDE/NATURE working yarns a little pull to tighten up that last dc.
Now continue the pattern with your NUDE/NATURE, making sure that you run the LIGHT GREY yarn along the top as you work each stitch to hide and carry it along until its needed again.
At the end of the 4dc worked in NUDE/NATURE, we’ll be picking the LIGHT GREY yarn back up again. I swap over the two balls of colour on my table to avoid them twisting, drop the NUDE/NATURE working yarn tail and pick up the LIGHT GREY to complete the yarn over:
Continue working the hare body with the two colours in this way: working your stitches over the colour not in use and completing the last yarn over before each colour change in the new colour. Each time I change colour, I take a moment to give both yarn tails a little pull to tighten up the stitch and check that the two working yarn tails aren’t twisted up.
Read each round carefully to see where your colour changes and the decreases occur.
At the end of round 20, work the last yarn over in LIGHT GREY and finish off the NUDE/NATURE. Work over the NUDE/NATURE yarn tail (and tuck the end inside the hare body = no sewing in of ends so far!) as you continue with round 21 in LIGHT GREY.
It will probably feel a bit fiddly at first – especially if you’re new to amigurumi – but you will get used to it.
Fasten off at the end of round 25 and leave a long yarn tail to close the neck.
Use small amounts of stuffing at a time (and the end of your crochet hook to poke it in) to stuff the body. Don’t overstuff – you don’t want a blobby hare!
Thread the bodkin with the yarn tail and weave in and out of each stitch from round 25, pull to gather. Leave the yarn tail to attach the head later.
The head is worked from the tip of your hare’s nose to the back of his neck. Like the body, its worked in continuous rounds of double crochet and after having worked the body with all those colour changes, this is going to be a breeze for you, with its use of just the one colour!
Read each round carefully to ensure you keep to the stitch count. By the end of round 6, your hare snout will resemble a little acorn cup – or a tiny hat for a Labrador:
At the end of the round, flatten your hare head with the stitch marker at the bottom. Your safety eye is added to the head between rounds 6 and 7, 2 stitches down:
Only when you’re 100% sure of your eye placement, secure it with the safety washer – that eye is going NOWHERE once the washer is on (its why they’re called SAFETY eyes!).
Thread a bodkin with the DARK PINK yarn to add your hare nose and mouth. Kate suggests a curved line for the nose as drawn here:
but I chose to add a triangular nose, filling it in with the pink yarn:
Add a small amount of stuffing. Poke it in with the end of your hook!
Use the yarn tail to close the opening by weaving your bodkin in and out of the stitches from round 11. Pull to gather and fasten off.
Add whisker freckles with a pen:
Next, we’re making two big old hare ears. Hares’ disproportionately large ears are their trick for staying cool – they release excess heat. This reduces the need for sweating and panting so those ears are an important water conservation technique. Who knew: big ears save water?!!!!
Working into magic rings with a small number of stitches such as this can be a little bit of a fiddle. Even once I’ve pulled my yarn tail tightly, it doesn’t look very ring like:
Also, I know from experience that with these tiny little magic rings, I sometimes struggle to see where the SECOND stitch of each round is as the stitches look rather stretched at this early stage. So, when I start round 2 and insert the hook into the 1st stitch, I bung a stitch marker into the next stitch along because I know this will be a useful reference for me in a moment:
Do you see what I mean?
It would be so easy to work the 2dc of round 2 back into that 1st stitch by mistake so I’m grateful for the stitch marker showing where I should actually crochet next. Once you’ve crocheted a couple more rounds and the piece has become more tube-like, it’s easier to spot the next stitch.
You don’t need to stuff the ears.
With the second arm, I get a bit cocky and don’t mark off my rounds. When I’m interrupted by Wilf wanting his dinner, I know that I’m on a round of 6 stitches but can’t remember if its round 12 or 13 so I count the ‘V’s of each round, not forgetting the magic ring at the bottom:
I’m on round 12!
The very last round is 4 decrease stitches which create the curve of the hand. You’ll be left with one stitch unworked in that round. Fasten off and thread up your bodkin. Run it in the unworked stitch and pull tightly to close. If there’s still a little gap, you can weave the yarn tail in and out a couple more of the stitches to close it up.
The arms also don’t need stuffing.
We’re only making one leg. In fact we’re only making half a leg – the bottom of the hare is going to be tucked behind the grassy bank we’ll be making.
The leg doesn’t need stuffing.
Once your leg – your *half* leg – is finished, place it flat and pinch up a small section from the middle:
Then using your yarn tail, stich up the shaped opening you’ve created from this pinching.
The last piece of our hare is his tail. Hare’s tails are actually called scuts, What a horrible sounding word 😬
After winding my NUDE yarn round a fork 30 or so times, I thread up a longish tail of yarn and poke it through the wound yarn so that it doesn’t unwind:
Tie as tightly as you can so that it doesn’t come undone. This video shows 2 good ways to tightly knot your pompom:
Snip the sides of the pompom:
Carefully fluff up the pompom so that the yarn fibres separate and then give it a little haircut to get rid of any straggly, longer ends.
ASSEMBLE YOUR HARE
I start by attaching the head to the body. I take a little time getting the head placement just as I want it. I love the hare’s upwards gaze, like a moon gazing hare. I use a large pin to hold the head in place:
I’m not a very neat stitcher, so I start at the back of the head where any bad stitching will be hidden when the hare is attached to the wreath.
At the front, I work carefully, using tiny stitches, working up into the base of the head and down into the neck.
I’ve got the glue gun out to attach the rest of the hare parts. I always avoid sewing if at all possible! The only downside to using a glue gun is that there’s no moving those bits once they’re on, so spend some time deciding how to place the ears. Pin them in place first to check that you’re happy. Make sure that the curved side and straight side of each ear is correctly placed:
As we’ve already mentioned you can have your hare with his arms behind his back or outstretched. Glue/sew your powerful half hind leg and finish off with your pompomtastic scut:
Next, I’m making the grassy bank in that delicious DARK GREEN yarn. It’s a nice easy chain 48, one row of dc and 7 rows of treble crochet – isn’t it exciting to be working some trebles after all those doubles in the cover and hare?!
Please note that the ch2 doesn’t count as a stitch; work the first treble into the stitch at the base of your turning chain:
Pop a stitch marker into the top of the first treble of each row so that you work the last treble of each row into the top of the stitch rather than into the turning chain.
Row 9 creates a wavy edge to the grass bank:
Continue to work along and create a further 2 waves as per the pattern.
The RIGHT side of your work will be the side with the yarn tails and your biggest ruffly wave at the left.
The hilltop grass is worked into the back loops only. If you look at the top of your crochet piece, you’ll see the top of your stitches are little Vs. Instead of inserting the hook through both as you would usually, insert the hook into the V itself and work the stitch around the back loop only.
Attach the GRASS GREEN with a slip stitch in the back loop of the 1st stitch: place a slipknot of GRASS GREEN on the hook, insert the hook in the back loop of the 1st stitch (topright) yarn over pull through and pull it through the loop on the hook.
Work the hilltop grass stems:
The pattern is worked 6 times in total. I popped a stitch marker into the top of the final slip stich of the repeat, and used a sticky post-it note to mark my place in this pattern as it required quite a bit of my concentration but the point of this row is to create grassy peaks and it honestly won’t matter to your overall look if you go a tad off-piste here, honest!
When you’ve finished those repeats, slip stitch to the end of the row.
STRIPS OF GRASS
The pointy blades of grass are formed by stitching into chains:
These grass strips are the first of our wreath elements that Kate recommends we block. Compare our unblocked strip to the blocked one and you’ll see why!
I use a big old piece of foam for blocking but you could use an exercise mat, kids play mat or folded-up towel. I like KnitPro T pins for blocking but any rustproof pins will do:
Spray with water or – better still in the case of this wreath – spray starch, which can be found in the laundry aisle of all supermarkets. It’ll give a crisper finish to those elements and ensure that they keep their shape for as long as poss. My seaside wreath from last summer gets a little spray starch blast periodically so that nothing goes curly….
TUFTS OF GRASS
As you’ve already worked the strips of grass, you’ll not have any bother with these! They use the same technique of working back down the chain to produce the individual tufts.
These will also need blocking.
Our pretty primroses start with the magic ring you’ll be very familiar with after working all those hare parts!
Join your petal colour into the back loop of any stitch. Working into the back loops will make the primrose centres pop.
Work a petal into each of the 5 magic ring stitches.
With each of the 3 trebles, omit the final yarn-over-pull-through so that you have 4 loops on your hook once all 3 are complete:
Yarn over and pull through all 4 loops. Finishing with a ch3 and sl st back into the same stitch creates the lovely curled edge petal shape.
Our pretty little DARK PINK blossom flowers are super easy and super cute. They start with – you’ve guessed it – a magic ring and if you weren’t an expert in these before you started this project, you will be now! Three little petals are then worked into that ring and – ta-da! – before you know it, you’ll have knocked out 18 of those bad boys.
The leaves are made by working stitches into both sides of a chain:
Finish off with a ch1 to create a slight point to your leaf and finish off.
I love daffodils. Huge swaying patches of them bring such joy with their promise of spring. Shakespeare called them the flower that “come before the swallow dares, and take the winds of March with beauty.” I like that.
Although not native to the Britain (they were brought here by the Romans), today, we produce 90% of the world’s daffodils. They symbolise new beginnings and friendship but they can also be used rather brilliantly in revenge. In 1999, a bank of daffodils in Rotherham had to be hastily dug up when it was realised they spelt out a rather rude word. A disgruntled council employee who had lost his job, decided on a bulb-based revenge plot: when the daffodils bloomed, they spelt out the word ‘b*llocks’!!!! 😂
The wreath daffodils are worked in 2 pieces, starting with the trumpet. This isn’t a difficult section of the pattern to follow but it IS a fiddly section of the pattern: those trumpets are small! I found it easier to work them if I broke one of the cardinal rules of amigurumi and worked very loose stitches. It made it much easier for me to see the stitches and where to work them.
My trumpets came out looking a bit bell-shaped:
which I wasn’t sure would sit very well on the petal base. So, I gave them a good blast with the spray starch, stuck my hook inside them to open up the shape:
and then shaped it with my fingers, flaring out the edge of the trumpet and flattening the bottom.
The 5 daffodil petals are formed by working into chains:
Block the petals:
DAFFODIL STALKS AND LEAVES
The daffodil stalks and leaves are just simple chains, and chains into which slip stiches are worked. I made a variety of lengths between 8 and 12 chains.
With the stalks, I worked the ends carefully into a couple of the loops at the back of the chain and snipped them off at the back. With the leaves, I tightly knotted the 2 lengths together and snipped them off closely.
For these beautiful little daisies, I finished off my magic ring with a slip stitch into the first stich and fastened off my ends. I place a slipknot of the NUDE yarn on my hook:
insert my hook in one of the magic ring stitches, yarn-over-pull-through and pull it through the loop on my hook. I then work a petal into that same stitch and to each of the next 5 stitches.
My daisies DEFINITELY need blocking!
And with the last daisy made, all the wreath elements are complete. Look how much of that gorgeous Rico cotton yarn is left over:
You could make extra flowers and leaves to personalise your wreath. Maybe even add another hare to be the recipient of the daffodil gift! If you used a new colour for the cover, you could make a whole other wreath.
PUTTING THE WREATH TOGETHER
Position your grassy bank section on the base, covering up the join:
Pin to the back.
I pop the hare into the very top of the bank. I decide to do this before gluing the grassy bank in place on the back of the wreath just to check that I’m happy with the placement. Because I’m using a glue gun to secure all the wreath elements, there won’t be any going back once they’re stuck down!
Yep – that works for me. The end of his half-leg is covered so he looks as though he’s sitting behind the bank and I like how the little blades of the hilltop grass are sitting around him. I pop the DARK GREEN grass strip behind him and tuck the GRASS GREEN strip behind the bank on the right hand side. I add small amount of stuffing below the hare and on the other side of the bank, to create slight undulations.
I secure all the pieces so far using my hot glue gun.
Wilf and Winnie are super excited about this next bit: we’re off to find sticks!
I collect a variety of small twiggy branches that I’m going to use to attach the blossom flowers and tree leaves to.
I hold up some of the different twigs to my wreath, trying to decide what sort of arrangement I’d like and I settle on 3 small pieces of cherry blossom:
I glue them to my wreath and glue one of the DARK GREEN tufts of grass over the end of the twig:
I glue the daffodil trumpets to the petal bases and the stalks and leaves to 4 of the daffodils before adding 5 daffs to the wreath. I add the remaining tufts of grass too:
And then I add those sweet primroses and daisies:
The finishing flourish is the daffodil in the hare’s hands. I add a small piece of twig leftover from my blossom stem making. Onto that twig I glue the final stalk and daffodil leaf and its all ready for my hare to present to his sweetheart – a much nicer way to woo and romance than getting into a Mad March hare boxing match, don’t you think?
I added a long piece of garden twine for my hanging hook and took my finished wreath out into the beautiful June sunshine:
I can’t wait to see all of your finished wreaths! Tag #littleboxofcrochet in your Instagram photos or add them to our Facebook Nicknackery group:
The group is also a great place to ask any questions you may have about making this wreath.
And with that, this little piece of spring to hang onto as we hurtle into summer, is all finished. But as, Anne of Green Gables author, L.M. Montgomery once said:
“That is one good thing about this world…
there are always sure to be more springs.”
Love, Nyree, Wilf and Winnie xxx