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    Entries in crochet (28)


    Beginner Crochet Blog Hop #Crochetconfessions

    I've been tagged by Sarah from Craftsfromthecwtch blog to join in the beginner crochet blog hop.

    I've taught lots of people to crochet and have been lucky enough to see that moment where everything 'clicks' into place for lots of students. It doesn't click for everyone straight away though, and I definitely fell into the non-clicking category for ages. A really long time. About a year to be honest!

    I went on a crochet workshop back in 2010. I was a good knitter, but had never even picked up a hook before. I kind of got the hang of making the stitches on the day, but it didn't stick. I tried a few times over the next months to get to grips with it, but I couldn't tell where my hook should go or where I'd gone wrong. A friend sat down & showed me how to do a granny square and it started to make a little more sense. But I knew that I needed to get my teeth into a project to really get to grips with it. Then I saw the Groovyghan pattern & decided that I would make a blanket. And I did!  

    This was when crochet clicked. That was at the start of 2011, and I haven't stopped since. The blanket looks a little shabby now, but it has been used & used, machine washed & used again. It's still one of my favourite things. So while I started off as a #crochetfail, persistance and blind refusal to accept the facts led to a definite #crochetwin.

    As part of this blog hop I've been gifted an e-copy of Sarah Shrimpton's new book The Beginners Guide to Crochet. I struggled to learn crochet from a book, but this one is a pretty good bet. It has clear illustrations with simple explanations, and builds on skills in a very logical way. The projects are achievable, and I think it's a great introduction to crochet. It is available from Stitch Craft Create as a print book, and also as an eBook if you prefer! And if you need to stock up on anything, check out Sarah's curated crochet page

    I'd love to hear about your learning experiences - was yours a win? xx



    Free pattern - Christmas Snowflakes

    I designed this snowflake for a crochet class, and have really enjoyed making them for the christmas tree & to give to friends. So I thought I'd give my readers a little gift and share the pattern with you!

    They are quick to make and only use a little yarn so there's plenty of time for you to whip some up to gift. Make them teeny tiny in lace weight or as a window decoration in bulky yarn. The one pictured was made with Rico bamboo yarn - dk  - with a 3.25mm hook.

    6 point Granny snowflake:

    Rnd 1: Into magic loop, 3ch, 2tr, 2ch, (3tr,2ch) 5 more times, sl st to join (6 clusters)  

    Rnd 2: sl st along to ch sp, ch3, 2tr, 2ch, 3tr into 2 ch sp, (3tr,2ch,3tr) into next 2ch sp 5 times, sl st to join (12 clusters)

    Rnd 3: sl st along to ch sp, 3ch, 2tr, *picot, 3tr into 2ch sp, sl st into sp between clusters, (3tr,*picot,3tr into 2ch sp, sl st into sp between cluster)  5 times, sl st to join. 

    *Picot: Ch4, sl st into back of 4th st from loop, ch4, sl st into same st as before, ch3, sl st into same place. Yes, I know that looks wrong - but it makes the most even looking picot loop.

    Hanging chain: For one of the picots, extend the centre ch4 to around ch25 (you don't need to be exact, just long enough to be a practical loop) before working the sl st into the same st as before.

    To stiffen decorations

    Decorations are best made at a tight tension. Use a smaller hook than recommended for the yarn.

    For the star shown I used clear children's glue. I got a pack of glues from the pound shop & one of the clear glues had a small circular sponge applicator which makes it quick to apply the glue exactly where it's wanted with minimal mess! PVA glue works well - dilute slightly to make it easier to paint on. I sprinkled some fine silver glitter over the stars after glueing & pinning. Because - sparkle!!

    I used some dense foam chilled food packaging as my blocking board for this, not wanting to get glue on my good blocking mats. I also found that the foam discs from pizza packaging works well :)

    Other ideas:

    Spray starch. Quickest option. Spray starch onto surface of decoration and press with iron. Most suitable for natural fibres - it is easier to melt synthetic yarn! Several thin layers are easier and more effective than saturating then ironing. Remember to spray both sides.

    Sugar solution. Make a concentrated sugar solution by heating a small amount of water in a saucepan and adding sugar until no more will dissolve. Soak decoration in solution, pin & leave to dry.



    Book review: 'Hook, stitch & give' by Kat Goldin - part 1

    Have you seen Kat's new book? It's a book full or original projects designed to be ideal as gifts. Or, if you are me, to keep all for yourself!

    Back in the spring, Kat managed to end up moving house at shortish notice with her family while in the middle of writing this book with a tight deadline. She appealed to some fellow crocheters that she has met/worked with before to see if we could help her with some of the samples for the book. I made the utterly gorgeous knitterly cowl & the everyone (needs) socks. The patterns were both clear & easy to follow - although there were some issues with the sock sizing chart - which has now been changed! The yarns were lovely - especially the Malabrigo Twist, which I hadn't used before. The cowl nearly didn't get sent - it matched my winter coat so perfectly!

    Kat was also the photographer for the book so I got to see some of the images of the cowl early. And then I didn't mind so much as the (male) model was so pretty! Tough day at the office there, Kat!

    So when the book came out in September, Kat kindly sent me a copy. This was as a gift - she didn't ask me to do a review. And if I hadn't liked it - I wouldn't have done! Luckily I do like it and have already made the cover hat. As a gift - for me!

    The book is divided into sections, starting with the technical stuff with stitch illustrations - and tips on reading crochet patterns. I know from teaching workshops that lots of crocheters struggle with understanding patterns so it's nice to have a good clear explanation.

    ©Kat Goldin

    Chapter 1 is 'For the home'. Now I'm not really bothered about knit or crochet homewares. I like blankets, but don't really do cushions, or shelf decorations or the other things you tend to find in crochet books. Bizarrely the pot holders in this really appeal to me! Although I would be tempted to substitute cross stitch hazard symbols for the pretty folksy images here. You know, things like 'toxic' or 'biohazard'. But that's just me! I also thought the puff stitch chair pads were really pretty .

    Chapter 2 is 'For her'. The gorgeous blue shawl is a real showstopper & would (again) be an ideal gift for me. I've already made the slouch & bobble hat - I'll talk about that next time. It's very quick and gives endless opportunities for playing with colour. I would even consider making it as an actual present for somebody else *gasps*. There's also a couple of pretty capelets & a waterfall cardigan, which are pretty and wearable. I'm a sucker for a capelet!

    Chapter 3 'For him' is my favourite chapter. But I'm going to talk about the rest of the book in part 2 to stop this being an excessively long post. For now - enjoy the lovely hat & cowl. The model is incidental. Obviously.

    Back soon for part 2 xxx


    Bobby socks - from design submission to publication

    I thought you might be interested in how a pattern goes from an idea to being in a magazine. I'll use my latest pattern, Bobby socks, in Crochet Gifts 4 as an example.

    Photo ©Practical Publishing. Cute, no?

    It started off as an idea sent to Knit Now for a crochet supplement. As I have worked for them a lot, it's a very informal submission. Even so, it still includes a sketch and a swatch along with suggestions about how it would be worn, the type of yarn to use & general construction ideas. I am ridiculously pleased with the sketches, even though people who can actually draw might think they're pathetic. But they are ecognisable as what they are supposed to be! For sketching challenged people like me, that's a triumph :)

    As it turned out, the socks weren't selected for the Knit Now supplement, but Crochet Gifts is also published by Practical Publishing, and Hugh got in touch to to say he would like them for issue 4. That was fine by me! 

    As we both liked the idea of a cotton blend sock yarn, and the colour was fine, I used the Rico Superba stretch that I had swatched in. The sock went pretty much as planned, starting from the toe up, using linked trebles for the body of the sock (no more difficult than standard trebles, but a more continuous fabric). The sock is worked in a continuous spiral and has an afterthought heel. The stitches only really vary in the round after the heel space, so that I could add height at the sides of the foot to keep the top of the sock level. The only difference from the submission is that I didn't add a ribbed cuff - the lacey edging is worked over the linked double crochet. I did change the initial idea of a short row heel to an afterthought heel. The reason for that is that you can easily change the depth of an afterthought heel, which is especially important for people like me who have a very high instep/heel. I like trainer socks, but always find that they get pulled down under my heel when I wear them. Being able to make the heel as deep as I need means that these socks have stayed firmly in place when I have worn them after getting the samples back. The yarn stretched more than I expected in wear, so if you are making these it's worth making them shorter than you think is right! 

    I love that the magazine photographed the socks with wedge sandals. So many people (knitters especially!) assume that crochet socks are bulky and uncomfortable. But they really are very wearable, so I'm glad that they showed them worn in cute shoes :) 

    And since I have the samples back, and a reluctant 12 yr old photographer - here's how I'm likely to wear them most of the time. And they are really comfy!

     The next stage in this pattern's life will be self publishing in about 6 months time. I will probably add more sizes to the pattern & another 1 or 2 edging options, keeping the basic sock the same. I like the idea of using a contrast yarn for the edging so will try that out if I get the time too. I think these would be cute little girl socks, so I'll definitely add child sizes to the pattern. I'll need to re-photograph the samples and change the layout of the pattern to fit my pattern template. Self publishing adds quite a lot of work (I hate layouts!) so I don't do it for all my patterns. I think this is one that would be worth the extra work though.

    Let me know if you've made crochet socks before & if you have any favourite patterns :)


    Crochet gifts 3 - and a giveaway! (Now closed)

    Practical  Publishing have their 3rd crochet bookazine out - and it's full of cute!

    The lovely Hugh from Practical publishing, who has edited this issue has offered 2 copies for Happymaking readers - read on for how to win! You may remember that we did a giveaway for Issue 1 too.

    My pattern in this issue is a summery 'boho beach bag'  - it was first published in Knit Now 22. I have been using this a lot recently. (You may have seen it at Wonderwool)

    The base of the bag is crocheted with the yarn held double. This has meant that it's a more all round practical bag then some other market bags I have as you know that smaller things will sit in the bottom without falling through the fabric. It's also deceptively easy to make!

    This edition has more small quick makes than previously - there is only 1 adult garment. In fact, the patterns that are appealing to me have been a surprise. Not necessarily the sort of projects I would normally be drawn to - but I love them! Quick & cute, detailed & quirky:

    Clockwise from Top left. Snap Happy Coin purse by Hannah Cross, Gnarly Gnome purse from Beastly crochet by Brenda K Anderson, Alpacas & Cria by Lucy Collin, Waterlily Clutch by Kat Goldin)

    And feeding my ongoing obsession with yellow & grey:


    L-R: Belle bow slippers by Desislava Dimitrova, Painterly wrap from Hooked on Noro

    (I was given the Noro yarn for my birthday, but it's earmarked for a summer top)

    There are some great interviews & articles in this issue & clear 'how-to' articles with pictures. There are lots more patterns too - 43 in fact. Some lovely granny squares, baby clothes, more amigurumi, a lacy cowl, socks, a colourful mandala, little stashbuster makes. There are competitions & offers too. 

    If you would like to win a copy, leave a comment below & I'll do a random draw on Fri 16th May. Good luck! 

    The draw is now closed and the randomly picked winners are Alison & Bernadette  - I'll send you both an email to arrange for your copy to be posted out to you. Congratulations!!