Crochet Reusable Water Balloons – Summer Fun with No Mess!

Have summer water battles without having to pick up bits of broken latex with these awesome homemade crochet reusable water balloons! Fun to use in the yard or at a pool or lake, and perfect at a summer birthday party as a game, gift or party favor!
Have summer water battles without having to pick up bits of broken latex with these awesome homemade crochet reusable water balloons! Fun to use in the yard or at a pool or lake, and perfect at a summer birthday party as a game, gift or party favor!

Earlier this year, I saw the coolest thing on Pinterest. I wanted so badly to try it out. I was so curious and I knew my kids would love it. Because who in the world wouldn’t want to try their hand at DIY crochet reusable water balloons?!

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Only thing was, it was the very beginning of January, and was probably the coldest day of the year. We were doing everything possible to stay warm.

Have summer water battles without having to pick up bits of broken latex with these awesome homemade crochet reusable water balloons! Fun to use in the yard or at a pool or lake, and perfect at a summer birthday party as a game, gift or party favor!

Flash forward six or seven months to the summer. One of the absolute worst Italy has seen in a long time. Months straight of heat and humidity with virtually no rain. So, we were doing the exact opposite, doing everything possible to stay cool.

At this point, crochet water balloons were sounding even more amazing.

Have summer water battles without having to pick up bits of broken latex with these awesome homemade crochet reusable water balloons! Fun to use in the yard or at a pool or lake, and perfect at a summer birthday party as a game, gift or party favor!

Because everyone loves a good water balloon fight, right? But nobody likes having to go around picking up all the bits of rubber from the broken balloons. And think of all that non-recyclable waste! It drives me nuts!

Have summer water battles without having to pick up bits of broken latex with these awesome homemade crochet reusable water balloons! Fun to use in the yard or at a pool or lake, and perfect at a summer birthday party as a game, gift or party favor!

That’s the genius in this crochet water balloon design by Left in Knots! They avoid all that! You don’t actually fill them up as you would with a classic balloon. You just put them all in a bucket of water and the yarn fibers soak up the water. Throw them at your opponents, then pop them back in the water when they need another soak, and throw them again!

You use the same balloons over and over again, so no waste and no broken pieces of latex to clean up!

Have summer water battles without having to pick up bits of broken latex with these awesome homemade crochet reusable water balloons! Fun to use in the yard or at a pool or lake, and perfect at a summer birthday party as a game, gift or party favor!

When you’re done, just give the balloons a rinse off and air dry them. You can also machine wash and dry them! They flatten out nicely so they don’t take up too much storage space, either.

Let me tell you a little more about my experience making these crochet reusable water balloons.

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Gemini free knit tee pattern review (reversible top)

ADORO questo schema gratis per una maglietta estiva ai ferri! La Gemini ha una scollatura con motivo traforato che si può indossare davanti o dietro! Bellissima e versatile!
LOVE this free knit tee pattern! Gemini top with a lace neck edge that can be worn facing front or back! Lovely and versatile!

I am a sewing addict, but I always have at least one knitting or crochet project in the works. I find it a fantastic way to relax and also to bring along with me to work on when I’m not home.

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Last summer’s project was Gemini, a free knit tee pattern by Jane Richmond.

LOVE this free knit tee pattern! Gemini top with a lace neck edge that can be worn facing front or back! Lovely and versatile!

This gorgeous summer top is worked top down in one piece (as much as I love sewing, I hate sewing together knit pieces!). It features lovely lace work on three sides of the neckline. The top can be worn with the lace facing front or back, giving it two very different looks, hence then name “Gemini.” (Which is incidentally also my sign!)

This is a deceptively easy project and, as it is worked in the round and the whole body is just a simple stockinette stitch, it was pretty fast to work up. It’s super comfortable and, even though it is a free pattern, the instructions were perfect and very clear.

Let me tell you a little more about this free knit tee pattern!

Read moreGemini free knit tee pattern review (reversible top)

Lessons from a hat: 5 reasons why making mistakes is ok

What knitting the Exeter hat taught me: making mistakes is ok, not only to learn to do things better, but also to learn to embrace imperfection and the act of learning itself.

Imagine this: you’re poking around Pinterest, Ravely or an online forum somewhere and you find a DIY project that you fall in love with immediately. You procure the materials and get to work. Except at some point you realize that something somewhere along the way has gone horribly wrong because your creation looks nothing like the perfect work of art in the pictures you’d seen.

You probably don’t need to stretch your imagination too much to imagine this situation, because it happens pretty often with creative work. We’ve all seen those Pinterest “Nailed It” pictures, like this one (a Pinterest fail that I’ve committed myself), and chances are it’s happened to you at least once, too.

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Sure, it’s frustrating to spent lots of time, energy and money on something that comes out awful. But, as our mothers always told us when we were little, there’s always something to learn from our mistakes. In the case of DIYing, it’s generally of a technical nature, in the sense that you get a better understanding of how to do a specific technique so that next time it’ll come out better. In this sort of situation, it’s understandable how making mistakes is ok. But what about when you cannot for the life of you figure out why the mistake happened? What is there to learn then?

What knitting the Exeter hat taught me: making mistakes is ok, not only to learn to do things better, but also to learn to embrace imperfection and the act of learning itself.

Which brings me to a recent project of mine, the knit ribbed hat Exeter. At first glance, the hat and the accompanying scarf I knit look just fine. At second glance, especially after seeing what the hat should’ve looked like, they definitely look wrong. But the worst part of it was that I couldn’t understand why it came out wrong. But after a little thought, I realized that there are many reasons why making mistakes is ok.

Read moreLessons from a hat: 5 reasons why making mistakes is ok

Just Peachy summer mesh crochet top pattern

Just Peachy, a free mesh crochet top pattern for summer by Drops Design with some tweaks by www.cucicucicoo.com
Just Peachy, a free mesh crochet top pattern for summer by Drops Design with some tweaks by www.cucicucicoo.com

I really love all those feminine lace summer tops that are so in style these days. The problems is that a lot of the crochet patterns I see for them are for crop tops and/or tops with little stringies holding them on. And nobody wants to see me wearing something like that.

So I looked around Ravelry for a very simple mesh crochet top pattern that I could wear with a support camisole underneath and I got started on this one by Drops Design.

Just Peachy, a free mesh crochet top pattern for summer by Drops Design with some tweaks by www.cucicucicoo.com

“Just Peachy” (aka Drops 82-2) is a pretty basic mesh tank top with wider holes below the breast. The front and back are virtually the same, with the neckline just being slightly higher in the back. They are worked separately and then the two pieces are sewn together at the shoulders and sides.

In the end I’m pleased with how my top came out and, once I got going, it worked up very quickly, however it was definitely not as easy to create as I’d expected due to problems with the pattern itself. Let me tell you a little about how I tweaked the pattern to make it work for me.

Read moreJust Peachy summer mesh crochet top pattern

Evening Breath: free summer shawl crochet pattern

Evening Breath: a summer shawl crochet pattern by DROPS, made by www.cucicucicoo.com
Need a wrap to cover your shoulders with on summer evenings? Try Evening Breath, this summer shawl crochet pattern by DROPS. It can also be used as a scarf in cooler weather. This grey-scale version was created by www.cucicucicoo.com

I’ve always loved to make things by hand, ever since I was a little girl. And as the years go by, I’ve added new techniques to my repertoire. One of the handmade techniques that I’ve learned most recently is crochet, and I’ve  fallen in love with its versatility. I love how you can work all sorts of materials and also work off of other totally different materials (such as my crochet carry bags from upcycled fruit nets). But it’s also fun to make more traditional items.

Last June, one of the knit cafès that I participate in, Tricò al Bistrò, decided to do a CAL (crochet along) together for a summer shawl and we decided upon this lovely summer wrap pattern by Drops called Evening Breath.

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(I finished this last October, which is why my hair is still short-ish in these pictures. I didn’t publish this review until now because it didn’t seen very seasonal-appropriate to write about summer accessories in autumn!)

Need a wrap to cover your shoulders with on summer evenings? Try Evening Breath, this summer shawl crochet pattern by DROPS. It can also be used as a scarf in cooler weather. This grey-scale version was created by www.cucicucicoo.com

All Drops patterns are designed for a specific Drops yarn, in this case a lovely self-striping wool/nylon blend. I can’t even imagine wearing anything in wool OR nylon in the summer, never mind both together. So instead I decided to make my own stripes with a more summery yarn.

I decided on an ombre effect with various shades of the same color. My local yarn shop had the most color variety of DMC’s Natura Just Cotton yarn, but not enough shades of any one color. So in the end I decided to go for a gray-scale effect with black, dark gray, light gray and white.

Need a wrap to cover your shoulders with on summer evenings? Try Evening Breath, this summer shawl crochet pattern by DROPS. It can also be used as a scarf in cooler weather. This grey-scale version was created by www.cucicucicoo.com

The shawl is a classic triangle shape with a fan motif that is repeated ad nauseam. In order to create different colored stripes, I worked four rows in each color until reaching the final size.

Need a wrap to cover your shoulders with on summer evenings? Try Evening Breath, this summer shawl crochet pattern by DROPS. It can also be used as a scarf in cooler weather. This grey-scale version was created by www.cucicucicoo.com

The stripes really accentuate the triangle effect, especially in the back.

This was actually my very first “big” crochet project, even before my Saturn Sweater, which I already posted about a few months ago. It actually ended up being a good beginner’s project for me because, once I figured out the motif, it was pretty easy to work up. Also, it was a great project to take on the go with my because I didn’t have to count rows or stitches, so I could just pick it up and put it down as necessary. I worked on it in planes and trains, in waiting rooms and on the beach, and pretty much any and everywhere in between!

Let me tell you more now about this summer shawl crochet pattern!

Read moreEvening Breath: free summer shawl crochet pattern

Basico: a knitting pattern for summer sweater

Basico: a knitting pattern for summer sweater. An easily personalizable knitting recipe for a pullover sweater with saddle shoulders. Full review on www.cucicucicoo.com
Have you ever heard of a knitting recipe? It’s different from a pattern! The Basico is a recipe for a summer pullover sweater with saddle shoulders, easily personalizable to your shape and tastes!

Last summer I knit my very first sweater.

I know that summer is generally not the preferred season for knitting, but I had the opportunity to take a course last June by my friend Maria, a designer and expert knitter (the designer of this bandana scarf and these wrist warmers that I’ve made), so I made myself a cotton short-sleeved summer sweater.

Have you ever heard of a knitting recipe? It’s different from a pattern! The Basico is a recipe for a summer pullover sweater with saddle shoulders, easily personalizable to your shape and tastes!

I’ll be honest: I’d never quite understood the sense of a summer sweater. When I think “summer,” I think of hot, sticky, sweaty. When I think “sweater,” I think full coverage, wool, warm. They were two totally opposite concepts in my mind.

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But now I’m discovering that a summer sweater is actually quite comfortable, at least in the spring. (I’ve yet to wear it in the summer.) It’s a perfect garment to wear on warm, sunny days spent at the beach.

Have you ever heard of a knitting recipe? It’s different from a pattern! The Basico is a recipe for a summer pullover sweater with saddle shoulders, easily personalizable to your shape and tastes!

I created this sweater with Maria’s pattern Basico, with numerous personalizations that Maria helped me figure out. It is a top-down cardigan with saddle shoulders that requires no sewing, and is ideal to work on with circular needles. One of the optional details is the lace work on the sleeves that you can see here.

Technically, Basico isn’t really a pattern, but a knitting recipe. A recipe is a more general indication of how to create a knitted base object based on your exact measurements, and you can personalize it in many ways. It’s a wonderful way for accomplished knitters to be creative and use different techniques to create myriad effects. Let me tell you more about what I mean.

Read moreBasico: a knitting pattern for summer sweater

Saturn Sweater: crochet sweater pattern review

The Saturn Sweater: a crochet sweater with colorful embroidered rings. A pattern review by www.cucicucicoo.com
The Saturn Sweater: a crochet sweater with colorful embroidered rings. A pattern review by www.cucicucicoo.com

It was love at first sight.

I love bright colors, but sometimes I don’t want to be dressed too brightly. That’s why the Saturn Sweater, a pattern by Linda Permann, with its charcoal grey body with colorful accents, immediately caught my eye when I was searching for a crochet sweater pattern on Ravelry.

The Saturn Sweater: a crochet sweater with colorful embroidered rings. A pattern review by www.cucicucicoo.com

One day when I was about eight or nine, I was helping my best friend to choose her accessories. She was wearing all black and white, so I chose black and white earrings. Her mother, on the other hand, chose some huge fluorescent ones. (This was in the 80s. Everyone wore huge fluorescent things.) She explained to me the idea of using bright accessories to break up neutral colors. And ever since then, I’ve loved dark clothing (or anything else) with a few bright pops of color.

The Saturn Sweater is not only very cool-looking, but also really easy and relatively quick to work up. Let me tell you all about it.

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Repairing holes in sweaters: darning and crochet

Two methods for repairing holes in sweaters: swiss darning and crochet. www.cucicucicoo.com
Two methods for repairing holes in sweaters: swiss darning and crochet. www.cucicucicoo.com

Have you ever noticed that, when you’re a crafty person, people seem to think that you’re capable of doing and fixing anything with your hands? A couple of months ago a friend of mine gave me a bag with a couple of sweaters that she’d just gotten at the thrift shop and hadn’t had the chance to wear before her cats ruined them. She begged me to fix them somehow, in any way that I could.

When I got home and finally took the sweaters out of the bag, boy was I surprised to see numerous big gaping holes! Ouch! I’d been expecting to see some badly pulled threads, but not whole chunks of sweater completely missing.

But seeing as my friend had given me full creative liberty to use any technique I wanted to fix the holes, I decided to finally try my hand at some mending techniques that I’d been wanting to try for quite a few months with yarn that I already had in my stash.

Two methods for repairing holes in sweaters: swiss darning and crochet. www.cucicucicoo.com

I was inspired by the book Mend It Better* and by an article on textile repair on Sew Mama Sew written by my friend Allison from Sweater Doll (the designer of the “Perfectly Imperfect” doll pattern I recently reviewed). I’ve read both of these sources multiple times and have frequently longingly sighed at the gorgeous mending that not only repaired garments, but added beauty to them.

This was my first experience repairing holes in sweaters, and it took me a little while to get the hang of it. I know that it is not perfect, but it serves the purpose and, in my opinion, adds a lot of extra visual interest to otherwise dull garments. So let me show you some of my colorful and whimsical mending!

Read moreRepairing holes in sweaters: darning and crochet

Tepore knit wrist warmers

Tepore knit wrist warmers: a simple pattern with simple thumb openings, worked in the round on double pointed needles. A review by www.cucicucicoo.com
Tepore knit wrist warmers: a simple pattern with simple thumb openings, worked in the round on double pointed needles. A review by www.cucicucicoo.com

My friend Maria of Maria Modeo Handmade in Italy is an amazing knitter, designer and teacher. She’s helped me numerous times with my knitting issues and is incredibly knowledgeable about all things yarn-related. I already posted last year about her bandana-style neckwarmer pattern, and will post in the springtime about a summer sweater I sewed from a course of hers. The first course of hers I took, however, was for the Tepore wrist warmer pattern. (update: which is now available also in English!)

Tepore knit wrist warmers: a simple pattern with simple thumb openings, worked in the round on double pointed needles. A review by www.cucicucicoo.com

While most wrist warmers feature a little tube for the thumb, the Tepore pattern has a simple thumb opening, which is really easy and therefore ideal for beginner knitters like myself.

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Three DIY flower brooches – no sew!

Three no-sew DIY flower brooches from rolled felt and crocheted yarn | www.cucicucicoo.com
Three no-sew DIY flower brooches from rolled felt and crocheted yarn | www.cucicucicoo.com

Have you gotten stung by the homemade flower brooch bug? I certainly have! I love making fabric flowers because a) they’re easy and usually fast to make, and b) they’re so versatile! You can sew them directly to clothing as an embellishment, make hair accessories from them, attach them to gift packages, or stick a pin on the back for a brooch that you can decorate your bag or clothes with! So much fun!

I’ve made fabric flowers quite a few times in the past, such as these gathered strips of my old undies (yes! my underwear!) that became rosettes to cover stains on a t-shirt, these folded circles that got sewn together into a flower shape, and strips of wool fabric or strips of felted sweaters that got rolled up into rosettes.

Every year at Christmas I get slightly obsessive about some crafted or sewn item or another and make loads of them for everyone as gifts. And last year was the year of flower brooches! I made a few crocheted brooches, then some really fast felt brooches. Read on to find out more about them!

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Tutorial: Crochet Carry Bags from Fruit Nets

DIY Tutorial: Crochet carry bags for kids from upcycled fruit nets. A quick gift in under an hour, perfect for collecting treasures at the beach or in the woods! www.cucicucicoo.com
Inspiration for crocheted carry bags from upcycled fruit nets. www.cucicucicoo.com

It all started with this. My son found some fruit nets in my collection of recycling-for-crafting and decided to use one to hang up his toys. Total genius right? And so, I came up with these:

DIY Tutorial: Crochet carry bags for kids from upcycled fruit nets. A quick gift in under an hour, perfect for collecting treasures at the beach or in the woods! www.cucicucicoo.com

Oh yes! I took those fruit and onion nets and crocheted around their edges, creating a comfy shoulder strap and… voilà: kid’s carry bags!

These are seriously so awesome. They take about one hour to make, are cost free to make (unless you count random yarn you already have hanging around) and are a perfect gift for kids. Over the past six months or so I’ve given away loads of them, usually with some candy or other goody inside (because you can’t give a kid an empty bag, right?!). They fit comfortably over a child’s shoulder and are wonderful for collecting treasures at the beach, in the woods or in the yard because sand and dirt just fall right through the netting, leaving just the things that count most! And you don’t have to be a crochet expert to make them. All you need to know is single crochet, double crochet, chain and slip stitch. Want to find out how to make these sweet crochet carry bags? Then read on!

Read moreTutorial: Crochet Carry Bags from Fruit Nets

DIY Chain necklaces for spring

DIY Chain necklaces for spring. Two different techniques make two totally different-looking chain accessories, one with crochet and the other with embroidery floss, but both perfect for gift giving! #diynecklace #crochetnecklace

There are a lot of really cool ideas floating around the web for jewelry made with chains. Last year I made two  necklaces with nice bright spring colors both made of chains, but in completely different ways. With Mother’s Day coming up, these would make …

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Ball & Chain: a free crochet necklace pattern

Ball & Chain: a crochet necklace pattern by www.cucicucicoo.com
Ball & Chain: a crochet necklace pattern by www.cucicucicoo.com

Last fall I posted this picture on Instagram. What was it? My very first crochet pattern, which I’m now ready to share with you!

Ball & Chain: a crochet necklace pattern by www.cucicucicoo.com

Here it is: the Ball & Chain crochet necklace pattern!

(Suggested musical accompaniment: They Might Be Giants’ song “Lucky Ball and Chain”)

Ball & Chain: a crochet necklace pattern by www.cucicucicoo.com

I’m a beginner crocheter and knitter, so it’s a pretty simple pattern, made up of linked modules of one stuffed ball and a chain of variable length. You can choose how long the chains should be, and also how many modules to make, making all sorts of possible lengths and looks. Above you can see the three necklaces I’ve made with this pattern.  Being made with cotton yarn, it’s a nice and light spring or summer accessory!

Ball & Chain: a crochet necklace pattern by www.cucicucicoo.com

The balls are all the same size, but the chain length between balls varies from necklace to necklace.

Ball & Chain: a crochet necklace pattern by www.cucicucicoo.com

The first chain ends in a loop, which gets hooked over the last ball for a super easy closure.

Click here to download the printable pattern (and like it on Ravelry) then read on to find out more about this necklace.

Read moreBall & Chain: a free crochet necklace pattern

Crochet T Shirt Yarn Baskets: Four Styles

Crochet T Shirt Yarn Baskets: Four variations on containers crocheted from strips of old, stained or otherwise ruined t-shirts! www.cucicucicoo.com

So, what do you do when you’ve accumulated way too many old, ugly, worn-out, stained or otherwise ruined t-shirts and other jersey clothing items?

Crochet T Shirt Yarn Baskets: Four variations on containers crocheted from strips of old, stained or otherwise ruined t-shirts! www.cucicucicoo.com

Easy! You cut them up into strips and wind up your lovely new balls of t shirt yarn! (Read how in this post from nearly five years ago!)

There are all sorts of fun ways to knit or crochet with this upcycled yarn, such as a squishy knitted bathroom rug (and I will add that the rug in that post is still in near-perfect condition despite the fact that it gets used a lot and doesn’t get treated delicately).

Crochet T Shirt Yarn Baskets: Four variations on containers crocheted from strips of old, stained or otherwise ruined t-shirts! www.cucicucicoo.com

This past summer I decided to turn that pile of unwanted clothing into upcycled yarn, and crochet T shirt yarn baskets for my loved ones in the United States. But I couldn’t just stick with one type of basket, oh no! That would’ve been much too boring for my over-active mind and fingers. So I ended up making four different styles. Earlier this week I wrote about a couple of knit projects, so now let me tell you about these crochet projects!

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Knit capelet and bandana neckwarmer

Knit capelet (with short rows) and knit bandana scarf "Mani in Alto" | www.cucicucicoo.com
Knit capelet (with short rows) and knit bandana scarf "Mani in Alto" | www.cucicucicoo.com

Well, another edition of the biggest Italian handmade arts fair, Abilmente, has come and gone. Alas, I was unable to make it to Vicenza, in northern Italy, for this edition but I figured that perhaps it was about time to show you my project from Abilmente in Rome last November.

Knit capelet (with short rows) and knit bandana scarf "Mani in Alto" | www.cucicucicoo.com

I’d signed up for a workshop in the knitting/crochet atelier on how to knit short rows, taught by Miriam of All You Knit is Love. We used this technique to make a sweet little knit capelet (which you can find here on Ravelry). I used Rainbow yarn by Morefil, which I bought there at the fair.

Knit capelet (with short rows) and knit bandana scarf "Mani in Alto" | www.cucicucicoo.com

Basically, with short rows, you stop knitting partway down the needle and turn before finishing that row. In doing so, you can shape a garment without increases, decreases or sewing pieces together. In the picture above, you can see how one end of the work is considerably wider than the other. (If you want to learn this technique, why not check out this FREE short rows knitting class on Craftsy*?)

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Ayer’s Rock and other crochet hats

Crochet hats: the Ayer's Rock pattern and a slouchy beret | www.cucicucicoo.com
Crochet hats: the Ayer's Rock pattern and a slouchy beret | www.cucicucicoo.com

How is your holiday season going? I, myself, am feeling pretty burnt out with all the Christmas and other craziness that for some reason always seems to get piled up at Christmas, even if it has nothing to do with the holidays. So I’m going to hold off on tutorials for a week or so and show you some of the projects I’ve been working on lately. And much of that work has been not sewing, but knitting and crocheting.

Crochet hats: the Ayer's Rock pattern and a slouchy beret | www.cucicucicoo.com

When it started getting chilly this fall, we realized that somehow my husband no longer had any winter hats. Who knows what happened to them. So I got to work with Sesia Echos, a gorgeous organic wool and alpaca yarn. I love that this yarn is available in various tones of the same colors, so I decided on stripes of medium brown, light brown and mix of the two. Originally my idea had been to recreate the Voyages Beanie, which my husband liked a lot, but this yarn was too bulky for the project. After a bit of searching on Ravelry, I found the super easy Ayer’s Rock pattern.

Read moreAyer’s Rock and other crochet hats