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crochet

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Dumpling Cats – A Crochet Book for Cat Lovers {review & giveaway}

Do you remember how I taught myself to crochet last year? With a little (lot of) help from YouTube, of course. Well, I’m still at it, still learning, and enjoying it as much as ever. I’m drawn to it for the creativity as well as just having something to do with my hands while I’m sitting watching a movie or chatting with a friend. It is truly fulfilling to see a creation come to life!

My most recent challenge – crocheting these little cuties. Dumpling Cats is a collection of crochet patterns you can use to create your own little menagerie of furry friends. There are 25 cats in all, and each comes with a little write-up on their name and personality. I found it fun to read through and decide which dumpling cat to hook first. The collection is inspired by the game Neko Atsume: Cat Collector, which immediately appealed to me, as I’ve been playing that on my phone for about a year now. (The game is simply about placing food and toys to entice adorable cats, each with a different personality and preferences, to come visit. You can take pictures of the cats for an album, or watch them play. It’s purely about the cuteness.)

The cats in Dumpling Cats are adorable. I brought the book with me on a recent cottage trip, so I could work on the Finneus pattern. According to his bio, Finneus really likes to eat, and his favourite spot to hang out is the cardboard box near the kitchen – so he can always be first in line for lunch. My fellow crafters, and the teen and tween girls who were there were all excited for the book. I now have my work cut out for me as each of the girls pointed out cats they need me to make for them.

So, first thumbs-up for this volume – the creations are really cute, interesting, and something any cat lover would be happy to make. The next question of course is how accurate and easy to follow are the patterns. So far I’ve only done one cat, but can confirm that even this newbie was able to follow the pattern and create something pretty close to looking like it was supposed to. I had some difficulty with the legs and ears, and I put that down to my newness with crochet terms. Looking at the legs I first made, I knew they had to be wrong, so I went back and re-read the instructions. I quickly picked out where I had misinterpreted, and fixed the problem on my second try.

Important to note – the excellent illustrations accompanying the different steps of each pattern were the clue to tell me I’d made a mistake. They are a great help, especially to a more novice crochet fan. At the same time, the patterns are varied enough to keep a more advanced crafter interested. The directions explain every stage, from ears to tail, and some of the patterns include accessories and costume items. Plus, there are bonus patterns for a cat bed, food bowls, and more!

Here is my little guy. I used a larger crochet hook than indicated in the pattern, so he’s a bit out of scale, but still adorable, IMO.

For More Information

Dumpling Cats is written by Sarah Sloyer, and published by Dover Publications. You can connect with Dover on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Buy It

You can purchase this volume from Amazon.ca. This is my affiliate link, and if you make a purchase after clicking here, I will receive a small commission from Amazon.

Win It

Dover Publications has generously offered a copy of Dumpling Cats as a giveaway to a lucky RMB reader. Entries are via the widget below and will be accepted until 11:59pm EDT, September 10. Giveaway is open to Canadian residents only. Best of luck!!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book. No financial compensation was received. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.

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Addicted. To Crochet.

When I was maybe Boo’s age, 9 or 10, my grandmother taught me the basics of crochet. She always had a project underway, stitching doilies, runners, edging on pillowcases, and more. Always with that thin crochet cotton. I wanted to learn. So she taught me. And I think I finished part of one granny square and chained a bunch of long chains for practice. And that was that. I went back to knitting, which I’d already been doing for years.

I think part of it was likely that I could read a knitting pattern and follow it, but my grandmother didn’t use crochet patterns, so there was nothing for me to read and follow. Her telling me “and then you do this” just wasn’t concrete enough for me. So I gave up.

Fast forward 30+ years. I still love knitting, but the arthritis in my right hand makes it difficult to keep at a project for any length of time. I’ve watched a friend crochet, and it seems to come together so quickly, plus it’s a totally different hand/finger movement. Why not give it another try? So off to YouTube I went.

hand crocheting blanket



I’m hooked! (No pun intended.)

There are tons of crochet tutorials and crochet-dedicated channels on YouTube.  I have found I really like Bella Coco. She gives clear instructions, with great, close-up video. She is British, but she translates her UK crochet terms into the US terms to make things easier for her international audience. She actually has an Easter Egg Tutorial up on her channel now, which I may try this weekend, if I can tear myself away from my blanket. Simply Daisy also provides great beginner tutorials on her channel. Her How to Crochet for Absolute Beginners Part I is the first video I watched.

I decided I would start with a Granny Square, as it is supposed to be simple. But I was getting confused as I reached the corners and had to start a new round. So, after tearing out a dozen of these squares I decided to practice on a straight lines project until I gained more confidence, and now I am stitching like a crazy woman. I can’t put my crochet down! It’s all I want to do.  I have a blanket project happening, as well as a stash of yarn I’m now crocheting into granny squares to combine later into an afghan.

For the record, it’s been less than 3 weeks since I started learning, and although I have a long way to go, including learning more stitches and how to read a pattern, I am loving the process and think I’m doing pretty well.  I am enjoying the creative aspect and watching my blanket grow, plus this gives me something to do with my hands while I’m watching TV or a movie, and it’s getting me away from the computer screen for a while. I find crochet quite calming and meditative once I get into the rhythm. And, maybe most importantly, it doesn’t aggravate my arthritis!

For my blanket, I’m using Attic 24’s Cosy Stripe Blanket as the basic pattern, but I’m not doing the multiple narrow stripes. I’m using three colours and each stripe is a full skein of yarn. That’s making the project a lot easier for me.

crochet blanket project with yarn
The rust colour will be an accent stripe.
I’ve been told the project looks really impressive, but it’s 99% the one stitch, spaced at different intervals. Super easy.

When I need to switch things up, I move over to the pile of yarn I inherited from my friends’ mom and start doing the granny squares. I’ll just keep at those until I have either exhausted the yarn or my patience, and then stitch them together. This particular yarn lot is all the same brand in coordinating colours that I chose with the idea of making an afghan at some point. I guess the time has come!

basket of assorted yarns
What do you think? Do you like my colours? This will one day be a granny square afghan.

So, when I’m not online these days, you will find me with my yarn and crochet hook, working away. My projects come with me to doctor’s offices, karate practice, swim lessons, and friends’ houses. And I am so happy to have this new hobby to keep my hands and mind busy in my “down time.”

What about you? What hobbies do you enjoy? Do you crochet or knit? If you have any crochet pointers, or favourite pattern/tutorial sources I’d love to hear about them!