Monday, October 30, 2006

Petrol Crochet Hat from Japan and Amigurumi heaven!

I went to Japan a few weeks ago. It was a long trip with a lot of work and very little free time. But on the final day we got 2 hours to do what we wanted to on the streets of Tokyo. What did I do? I ran to the Tokyu Hands department store (via Kiddieland to pick up some Totoro toys) to buy some crochet books of course!

As we all know, the Japanese make excellent crochet patterns and the books they have are just so much better than the ones I can get in the UK. They just seem so much more creative - and cute - which is why I was determined to get some books before I went back. I ended up having about 10 minutes to decide which books to get, but thanks to my pidgin Japanese ("Sumimasen, Amigurumi?") I managed to find what I was after.

I got this absolutely lovely amigurumi book from Ondori, which contains a lot of patterns that are already available online for free (courtesy of some helpful translators). But it was only 280 yen and it seemed only right to hand over that small sum for the such great patterns. Can't wait to make some of the kawaiiii toys.

I also got this book from the Let's Knit series from Tezukuritown (click on the second button down and you can check out some of the patterns it includes). And the first thing I did when I got home was to sit and make this hat. It was too big when I made it the first time so I did it again with a smaller hook. Then it was too small, so I split the difference and did it again. But it was too small again. So I decided to go back to the original size and just do it tighter. But it was still too small. Just what kind of dark forces were at play here?

It was only then that I went back to the original hat (thankfully, I hadn't unpicked it) and realised that I'd put in two extra rows by mistake. After taking those out I was left with a hat that was the right size. I try not to think about the 4 evenings I wasted doing all those retries... It's best not to dwell on the lost hours... :(

But the fact that I did keep trying it is testament to the simplicity of the pattern - super quick to crochet and drawn in that excellent Japanese stitch diagram. So much easier than a written pattern - why don't we use them?! I love this hat - and after last year's hat making debacles, I think I deserve to have one success at last!

The two books together came to around £6 I think! Unbelievably cheap - and so much nicer than most of the stuff we have.

Crochet Purse - The finished product

You may remember this purse, which I made while on holiday over the summer (summer! Remember that?! Damn you Greenwich Mean Time, I want British Summer Time back). I sewed this sari-type lining into it a few months ago, but deleted the shot I took of it by accident before I had a chance to post it up. So here it is. Nothing else worth mentioning about it I don't think.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Three quick things

Forgot to say! The hat went down a treat - both mother and baby were delighted. Or at least I think Mae was delighted, though it may just been a touch of wind (that's the baby I'm talking about, not the mother - no idea how her wind was).

And on another note, just wanted to say that the paltry number of updates on this blog is no reflection of how much I've been crocheting but has more to do with the amount of time I already spend on a computer. After 10 hours sat at my desk staring at the web and writing stuff, I quite often run out of steam when it comes to my personal blogs. But I've got some bits to stick up soon, so I will have to be a bit more committed to Good Hooking.

And finally, we're (Shiny Media) hoping to launch a crafts blog soon. If you want to write for it, or know anyone who might like to contribute, let me know! You can email me on editor[AT] . And if I take ages to respond, please don't take it personally - I'm all over the place these days and so is my brain.

Crochet Blanket - my life's work

I learnt to crochet a while back now and just like most learner hookers, I started with basic Granny squares made out of three trebles (US double double crochet). Actually, I think they may have been double trebles come to think of it... Anyway, I started with granny squares and made quite a few squares , returning to it over the years as my interest came and went. At some point - though I forget the exact timeline and details - I'm pretty sure I unpicked the whole lot of the them and started again from scratch. The history of this blanket - when I started it properly and how long it has taken me - has fallen out of my brain for some reason. But there are two things I do know: it's still very far from finished; I'll probably unpick it all fairly shortly and start again. Again.

The very idea that I'll unpick it yet again (as well as the initial unpick and re-start, I've unpicked countless squares as well as the white joining rows more times that I care to count) is sending my boyfriend into fits of sighs, but this time it's not about me being all anal and overly perfectionist - it's because it's so weighty that it's starting to pull itself apart. If I do end up unpicking, I'll feel very sad, but also a little pleased that I can get back some of my favourite wool colours - and have the opportunity to create something even better that will be more sturdy. Those big double trebles, with those large squares (incidentally, trying to find 4 colours that look good together without repeating designs is frankly impossible - hence that bright orange monstrosity you can see) are just a little too volatile to survive standard blanket-based activities (sofa lounging, bed warming etc etc).

But even if I don't unpick it and decide to carry on (maybe add a backing sheet that will help to hold it all together), I can't imagine when I'll ever finish it. It's a huge beast of a thing, and there are loads more squares to add on - not to mention all those tiny joining squares to make and sew into the gaps.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Crochet Baby Hat

So this is my latest Louisa Calder work of art. Looking at the ridiculous pixie hats, I thought to myself "just who in their right mind would be willing to step out sporting one of these ludicrous hats in public?" and then the answer came to me "a small child without the ability to protest". Since my friend is just about to pop out a new recruit for the sisterhood (ie, she's going to have a baby girl), I thought I'd make little Mae a hat that would be the cause of future embarrassment for her. Her head will hopefully be about the right size by the time the weather requires head attire (if my calculations are correct).

I haven't quite finished it off yet - I'm going to make it yet more foolish looking by adding some much needed ear flaps - but I'm pretty pleased with it so far, especially as the design was all created freestyle, based roughly on Louisa's basic hat design with a few modifications from me.

The amazing Louisa Calder

I can't keep away from Louisa Calder for long, no matter how much I may giggle at her indifference to professional finishings off and her cheerful habit of making things that any sane person would feel entirely humiliated to wear in public. On the one hand I'm bemused (and perhaps even a little exasperated) by her obsession with making everything in double crochet (US sc) no matter what, and her unfathomable need to finish everthing off in such a botched manner that it looks like she grew bored and gave it to a toddler to stitch together. On the other, I love the bright colours she uses, the way she creates neat little "bird in flight" effects and the fact that she really does go to town with the crazy designs without a care for taste. Check out these ties for starters. Can you imagine anyone actually wearing these things?! And what's with the random way they get larger and smaller? I mean I'm pretty lax at finishing things off, but if I were to publish a book of my creations I think I might start actually finding out what this "blocking" business is all about.

Still, if I had to pick a crochet spirit guide, I think it would have to be Mrs Calder. And now I'm looking at these ties, I'm suddenly seeing the next trendy ironic Hoxton boys fashion appearing before my eyes.

Previous Louisa Calder creations: Crochet Laptop Bag| Crochet Bag | Mobile Phone Case

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Crochet Cotten Purse (and Ikea box thing)

While I'm on a roll, might as well post up this cotten purse, which I made while on holiday in Cornwall. On the drive down we stopped off in a town called Okehampton. I'd been feeling a bit annoyed with my decision not to bring anything to crochet and so when I spotted a wool shop I popped in and bought some natural cotton, a size 3.5mm crochet hook and a small turquoise zip (since there wasn't a matching zip available). Then I knocked up this amazing bit of artistry, whose purpose in life I still haven't fully decided. I probably should have lined it, or made a little interior pocket, but as usual I can always be relied on to do the bare minimum when creating an item.

After the holiday, because I'm a masochist and wanted to ensure that all the goodness and relaxation I'd enjoyed over my break was well and truly wiped away, I took Al to Ikea to spend 5 hours walking around staring at poorly constructed flat pack items. How could I resist when I saw a selection of crochet storage box things? I purchased a four set of the knick-knack houses and now have them littered liberally about my abode. They're made from sterner stuff than the cotton purse, but I was nevertheless pleased with their matchyness. The only bad thing is that they bring to mind that string box I started making ages ago, which is still languishing unfinished in my workbox. Maybe some day I'll finish it off. In the meantime, you can buy a job lot from Ikea for £7...

Friday, August 11, 2006

Pink Crochet Shrug

The lack of blogging recently is truly shameful, especially since I finished this pink shrug thing ages ago and now have a small backlog of recently made items to blog about. Last night I started browsing some of my favourite crafty blogs (something else I've been remiss in lately) and the fire of blogging enthusiasm was rekindled within me. So here I am, ready and willing to discuss stitch issues and other gripping wool-related incidents.

I'm feeling pretty good about how this particular garmet turned out. Why's that, I hear you ask (those that have actually managed to make it to this second paragraph)? Why, it's because I made the pattern up all on my very own (actually, that's a *slight* fib - I used the excellent pink shrug schematics from Crochetville to explain the dark arts of making up your own patterns). Now it's not strictly the first garment I've mustered up using the power of my own mind, but the last one had to be abandoned once I realised the wool was just too stiff.

This one was made using an altogether floppier yarn, which worked out a treat. (Wool fact fans, it's called Polysew Whisper So Soft, colour 107, 100% acryllic. I bought it from a little market stall and I haven't been able to find mention of it online - apart from someone flogging it on eBay). The reason it's not actually a full size cardigan as planned is because I'm far too impatient and just couldn't be bothered to make it any bigger. Also, when I was coming back down the other side and reducing stitches, I made a point of reducing stiches in the same places I'd increased stitches on the other arm. Turns out, that doesn't really work - and so there's a twisting line going up one arm and a straight line down the other. I think that would be less obvious if I made a bit of effort to steam it, but as already mentioned, that would require effort on my part and I'm pacing myself.

Finally, it's plain to see that the most exciting thing in this picture is not actually the pink shrug but the amazing crocheted frock I'm wearing (with no small amount of self-satisfaction). The reason for the self-satisfaction is two-fold. First up, I was on holiday when that shot was taken and that's me in our lovely B&B room (which was more like a hotel than most hotels) and the second reason is that the dress only cost me £15! FIFTEEN POUNDS! Bloody amazing. I can't quite imagine ever being able to make such a gorgeous garment myself, and certainly not for that price. God knows what sweatshop it was knocked up in - although I like to believe that it was made using a crochet machine. I have no idea if crochet machines exist or not, but I hope to god they do - there's so much crocheted stuff on sale at the moment for ridiculously low prices that the idea that they're hand made is just too awful to imagine.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Alex Milway - Children's Author

Very excited - Al's webpage has gone up on his agent's site! Can't really believe that Al's actually going to be a published children's author this time next year. He's currently working really hard to get through the first edit and has added a loads more pages. I think he's a bit shattered by it all, but that's what happens when you have to continue working a normal job as well as writing and illustrating a book.

Once he's got that one finished, he'll have to start the next one straight away in order to get it written by next year. How quickly life can change!

(By the way, this isn't the actual cover, it's a just a quick mock up Al did for his agent. The name of the book will probably have changed by the time it comes out as well as Mousebeard only really makes sense once you know what it's about (a Pirate who has mice living in his beard) plus they think it makes the book sound too childish for its intended audience of 10yrs+ ).

Alex Milway's book!

Crochet Shrug Thing

Here's a proper pic of that crochet shrug I made. What the photo doesn't show you is that, although crocheted in black cotton, the cardigan is also part-Milo. Although Milo doesn't have much hair compared to normal cats, and doesn't usually leave hairs about the place, this black cotton just couldn't get enough of his grey fuzz and seemed to latch onto every last smokey strand in the vicinity.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

My Black Shrug

It's a crap picture, but I wanted to post something up (it's been too long). I'll post a better photo just as soon as I get my backside into gear. It was a bit of an undertaking making this thing really. Doubling up the stitches was more taxing on my tiny brain than I'd anticipated, and even doubled it wasn't coming out at the right stitch height. So I was sticking in rows of Half Trebles(or Half Double Crochets, if you prefer) and having to keep track of when and where so that I could duplicate it on both sides. Using a knitting row counter made life a lot easier - otherwise I'd never be able to watch House and crochet at the same time.

Still, the agony is over now, and I've moved on to something that's just as tricky. I'm beginning to regret this whole move away from granny square-based blanket making...

Monday, May 22, 2006


I've nearly finished my shrug - just one little teensy tie to do. Really, I don't know what's taking me so long. It's shameful. But I just seem to have lost the drive at the moment. Not that I don't still grab my crochet as soon as I sit down in front of the TV, but recently I seem to simply hold it whilst gawking at the goggle box. Progress is pathetically slow. I suppose I did go through a period of not watching TV at all and only crocheting, so maybe it's time to redress the balance with some proper square-eyed behaviour.

Anyway, enough of my excuses, this is just a short post to say that I'm planning on jumping on that Amigurumi band wagon very soon. Crochet Me has a special on the little blighters and I really just can't get enough of them. Just as with the whole crochet clothes business (and how I got sucked into it against my will) I've never had any desire at all to make crocheted toys - since they remind me of receiving crap presents at Christmas from my Grandmother (along with the thermal underwear, which funnily enough I'd probably rather like now). However, as with so much in life, the Japanese know how to make things that are a whole lot cuter than our western woolly ways.

Leigh, of Knit-Errant fame, did this lovely one from a pattern she got here; Amy from the Hook & I has hers well on the way and - OH MY HEAVENLY LORD - just look at what Google brings up: A whole blog of Amigurumis. I feel like everyone's been having a party without me. :(

More Amigurumi blog stuff:
Amigurumi Girl
Gourmet Amigurumi
Amigurumi Crochet

And look at these! It's Amigurumi The Dogs!

Dear me. I'm off for a lie down - this is all far too exciting.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I know, I know, it's been a while

But it's not because I've forgotten about blogging - it's just that I STILL haven't finished off the shrug I'm making. I only have to do one more tiny sleeve and the ties, but I just don't seem to be able to get it done. It's partly just a time thing and partly because I've fiddled with the pattern so I keep cocking it up. That's what happens when you try to count your stitches AND watch TV at the same time.

In the meantime, here's a picture of me looking a bit dumpy in the dress I had made for my friend's Hindu wedding. The tailor charged me £25 to make the dress (!), and it's a copy of a black Roland Mouret-style dress I took in for him to copy. The material is from a silk sari and I've still got about 4 metres left to play with. I couldn't really lift my arms or take very big steps in this frock, but it fitted in nicely with all the sari-fied ladies at the wedding. I just hope I didn't actually look this dumpy in real life.
Oh, and that's Al I'm cosying up to, in case you're wondering. Did I mention that he's going to have a children's book out in May 07?!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Do you speak American?

So then:

UK Past Participle: Got
US Past Participle: Gotten

UK Past Participle: Knitted
US Past Participle: Knit ("Name three places you've knit")

UK Past Participle: Spat
US Past Participle: Spit

I'm not about to launch off into some rant or start picking apart the different grammatical reasons why one nation does it one way and one does it another (after all, not only do I have lots of extremely attractive and intelligent US readers, I also know that we'll all be speaking American in 50 years so it doesn't really matter), it's merely something that I've wanted to note down for a while - ever since I started this blog, in fact, and kept reading blogs where someone has "knit" something. Not only does that sound entirely bizarre to me, it also leaves me puzzled as to why you American readers out there are happy to leave some past participles in the present tense (knit, spit, shit etc), but feel overwhelmed by the urge to make "got" look more past tensey. What's all that about?

Probably there's some logical explanation, something to do with the great vowel shift, or the state of the language when those religious extremists hopped on a boat to the new world, but really I just felt the urge to note it down.

I've also been known to sit down and list the entire weasel genus (ferret, stoat, pole cat, pine martin, otter, I could go on), the complete set of Greek gods along with their Roman equivalents, and all my best friends in order. It's only a matter of time before I start naming nuts.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Crochet Necklace

Just pottering about the internet looking for gadgets for girls stories when I came across this Crochet Necklace on Sensory Impact. I haven't really got anything to say about it, but for some reason I just can't help getting over-excited when I see something that's been crocheted. Not a great time for me when shopping right now, as you can probably imagine. Everything seems to be crocheted, so I spend my time flitting excitably about each shop, prattling like a fool about how I could probably make something similar given a year or so, while my friends slowly back away towards the door in the hope of making a run for it.

By the way, the reason I haven't been blogging lately is because I haven't made anything new for a while. But I've got a shrug on the go at the moment, so hopefully I'll get a chance to finish it off this weekend.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Making my own crochet pattern

Never let it be said that I don't try to run before I can walk. Fact is, I'm not much good at being a learner, which is why I tend to aim well above myself, often failing more often than I succeed. But, thankfully, this is only crochet, not some life or death situation, so failing really isn't a problem. It just means a few wasted hours of your life (all unpicked in seconds) and maybe a few soft, silent tears.

Since I was finding it impossible to match the free slouchy shrug pattern's gauge no matter which hook I used (turns out I'm not the only one - someone on Crafster said the same), I decided just to make a pattern up instead. I've got a baggy (knitted) shrug that I bought from Zara and, on inspection, it turned out to be a very simple rectangle-based shape stitched together. With that, and with the aid of the excellent Fluggy Pink Shrug Schematics on Crochetville, I dreamt up a pattern that I was convinced would work.

Only slight problem is, I think the lovely Rowan cotton I bought is just going to make it a bit too stiff. I got quite far up on arm before I decided that a softer, floppier yarn will work much better. It's a pain because buying online doesn't really give you an idea of what the wool will be like, but wool shops in London are very hard to come by - unless you want hand-dyed wool, spun by blind virgins in Wales, and then John Lewis can certainly help you. Lovely as that may be, if I buy enough of that to make a big slouchy jumper with, I'm going to be crocheting it out on the streets, with only a can of Gold Label and a dog on a bit of string for company.

PS. I like the little bit of sweater stitch I did at the cuffs end.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Crochet Pink Panta

First off, apologies for the pic - I seem to suffer from some sort of facial tic that causes me to stick my tongue out as soon as there's a camera pointing at me. I did take a load of tongue-free snaps, but they all made me look like I was about to sneeze, so this one was the best of a bad lot.

Second off, I don't actually know if this qualifies as a panta or not, but how could I resist the opportunity for that punnish post header? I decided to make this little headband thing the other night on a whim. I just chained till it was a little over-sized for my head (size 3mm crochet hook, I think), and did a row of double crochet (US sc) about 6 chains in (to make the fastening loop). Then I decided to do a row of half trebles (US hdc). For the bobble, I just made it up - slip stitched into the end of the headband and did a load of chains which I then kept knotting up until I had a nice big knot to act as a fastener.

I'm rather pleased with it - not least because it took about 5 seconds to create.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Tank Top Alert

In case you were wondering where I got such awful taste from, you need wonder no more. This is a tank top that my mother made for my dad back in the day. Apologies to anyone currently being blinded by the combination of 70s tank toppery and parental bedspread, but she took the pic not me.

I feel like I've been sucked into clothes making against my will. I always said I'd only make bits of crap to fill up the flat and to foist on other people - tea pot cosies, blankets, and the odd hat - but suddenly I find myself making clothes. And now, staring at this mesmerising tank top, I'm beginning to think "hmm, looks relatively straightforward, maybe I'll pick the pattern up next time I'm home.."

I think there may be chemicals in the wool.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Cosy tea for me

Yes! There's a good chance that soon my tea pot may no longer feel the chill of cold air touching its delicate metal underparts. Well, if I ever get round to finishing this thing anyway.

I thought after all that tasteful clothes making it was time to do something nice and ugly again. If it's ugly and garish you can guarantee I'll like it. It's why I was a crap goth.

Anyway, it's not based on any one pattern. The stitch design is from Jan Eaton's 200 Crochet Blocks and I've just made it big enough to fit my pot (I hope - past experience has taught me that I have brain damage where the successful measuring part of my brain should languish). I'll start reducing stitches somewhere near the top, and hopefully all will turn out well. If not, I'll just fob it off on an unsuspecting relative.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Crochet Shrug - Worked this time!

I've been wanting to post this since the weekend, which is when I actually finished the thing. But for various reasons to dull to go into, I haven't been able to until now.

I'm feeling rather pleased with myself over this one, and only wish that it was made from some spangly fancy thread rather than a basic acrylic. You could also level the complaint at it that it's on the small side - certainly it's not as big as the original pattern - but I actually really like it this size, and it's slightly larger than it looks in these shots (honest guv!). All in all, I'm pretty proud that I managed to make an item of clothing - and an item of clothing that I'm really happy to wear, no less!

This time it all came out even till I got to the end of the second arm and ran out of stitches at the end. I decided either I'd cocked up somewhere way back at the start, or the pattern was telling my to count forward too many stitches. After unravelling it a good way back to double check what I'd done, I decided that since it all looked right, and even with the other side, I would just change the number of stitches in the pattern to match up (sorry if this isn't making sense, but really you had to be there). That did the trick and it ended up being nice and even.

Despite that minor hiccup at the end, this was really quick and easy to make, and I'm thinking of knocking out a few more in different colours. I might tamper with the design a bit next time, since I never seem to be able to match the gauge, and I'll treat myself to some spangly wool as well.

All in all, a great learning process for me and a large feeling of self-satisfied smugness to enjoy at the end of it - and a neat little gold shrug of course.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Mmm, Wool

Getting hold of wool in London is a bit of a nightmare. Finding shops locally is almost impossible (I've been on 2 pilgrimages to local wool shops in recent months that turned out not to be there anymore) and so you're forced to trudge up into central London to John Lewis where the wool is of the strictly upper middle class variety and entirely unconcerned for budgets.

So I've been building up quite a selection of online wool shops recently, (which I will add to the sidebar in due course). They have the benefit of not obliging you to get off your backside for longer than it takes to answer the door to the postie, but the downside is that you can't actually feel the stuff - or see it properly in a lot of cases. Still, seeing this lovely Rowan yarn (which I'm already familiar with from previous John Lewis wool groping sessions) on sale for £20 for 10 balls, I couldn't help but click the Buy button.

I'm hoping this will work for the Slouchy Shrug pattern I've been staring at longingly for the past few weeks. Problem is, I can't find wool that will match the guage, since Moda Dea wool isn't available in the UK. I haven't tried this new Rowan stuff yet, but fingers crossed. If not, I'll have to fudge it using the excellent Shrug Schematics on the Crochetville forum. I'm sure I'll get there eventually!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Success at last!

Yes people, I finally did it - finally made a hat that 1) fits me 2) suits me (sort of). Actually, if I'm being really fussy, it makes me look a little bit egg-headed, but I'm glossing over that part and focusing on the "yay!" part.

It's just a basic Trebles (US dc) hat with a few rows of double crochet (US sc) with a simple little rosette attached at the side (which I put together on the wrong side to make it lie a little bit flatter). All nice and easy. The only thing that caused me trouble was the pink wool, which is some lovely old Jaegar wool that my very kind friend gave me from her departed Granny's stash. I thinkit must have been there for some time because it kept coming apart in my hands and eventually I had to double it up. There are a lot of knots hidden underneath, but it's the outside that counts!

And that's pretty much all I have to say about that.

Previous Hattage:
Failed hat for me #1
Failed hat for me #2

Thursday, March 23, 2006

String, string's a marvellous thing

Since my clothes making isn't going so well at the moment I thought I'd stick up a pic of this string thing I'm making from the Erika Knight's Simple Crochet book (obviously I haven't learned my lesson about attempting to make tasteful objects after the last debacle.) Well, I say "I'm making", actually I haven't done anything to it for weeks now.

Why? Because it's bloody hard work, that's why. Crocheting baskets with string may be all well and good in Ms Knight's household, but in mine it leads to nothing but callouses and misery. I'll finish it off eventually. Just need to wait till the welts have cleared up.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Failure is my middle name

After my first attempt at making a shrug went horribly awry, I decided to try the other pattern I'd purchased instead. Sadly, this one fared only a little better and it's turned out far too small. I had an inkling it wouldn't come out right - I couldn't get the guage to match up no matter which hook I used. It was either right widthways and wrong lengthways or vice versa, so in the end I just decided to take the plunge. I knew the back was too small, so I upped the number of trebles (US dc) in hope of fixing it, but the sleeves aren't quite right, and I can't get the thing over my nearly non-existent bosom. I'm not going to bother finishing it as I don't think the extra rows will help. I should have gone with a larger hook. Buggeration.

I'm just glad I used cheapo acrylic as I'm obviously destined to cock this up a few more times yet. I may try a different pattern first, as I'm itching to have a go with one of my new jumbo hooks, but I should probably stick with this one now that I've at least got a faint idea of what I'm supposed to do. Then I might treat myself to some decent wool.

Oh, and for some reason, even though I'm sure I read the pattern correctly, I had a larger space on left side than the right side. No idea how that happened, but maybe I'll suss it out on attempt number two.

PS. I have recently acquired a stinking cold, so now I'm feeling doubly sorry for myself. Maybe I branched out from granny squares a bit before I was ready...

You can see what it actually should look like here.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Crafster Pariah

I've noted that I have a knack for killing a topic stone dead when I respond to it on Craftster. I'm thinking that maybe I've committed some hideous faux pas somewhere along the line and now I'm being politely ignored in the hopes that I'll go away.

Ah, how little they know of my tenacious ability to hang around long after I'm welcome. I'm not going away - it's too good over there. They've got all kinds of clever people with nifty ideas and access to patterns I could never dream of. If I hang around long enough, maybe they'll get used to me - just like that person in your school gang who you didn't really like, but who could afford to buy all the CDs you wanted.

Check out these bad boys

My jumbo tampons crochet hooks arrived. Roll on the slouchy shrugs.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Dare To Wear Crochet

I know, I know, I'm only promoting my own websites, but I didn't write this piece and I didn't prompt the CQ girls to do it either, so I think linking to it's allowed. Charlotte's done a piece on Catwalk Queen about crochet clothes and how to wear them. It's a nice little piece, with lots of highlights from the high street.

I did a big crochet snapping session on a recent shopping voyage, so I will post up some pics as soon as I find an easier way to get the pics off my current phone than using Bluetooth to send them to another phone which can then send email. Yes, I have too many phones. And yes, I am a geek

Dare to Wear Crochet

Good Hooking in the Guardian

I appear to have been featured on the Guardian's Newsblog linklog, which is nice! I'm not sure if they know this blog is written by someone who sometimes writes for them or not. Perhaps I've got Jane to thank, who read's Al's blog (who mentioned me the other day) or maybe it's just pure fluke. Either way, I'm very happy to have been featured along with the fab Inky Circus girls who I met up with once in a coffee shop in Borders book shop.

The blogosphere's a small world! [Click on pic for biggie, or go here]

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Supersized Crochet Hooks

Yes, I really can get an entire post out of the subject of "crochet hooks". I am Boredom incarnate. The thing is, I've been checking out a lot of US patterns recently and for some reason those pesky yanks (no offence to any pesky yanks reading) feel the need to use gimungous crochet hooks. I mean, who ever heard of a size P crochet hook? There's no such thing. I looked it up on a conversion chart and metric doesn't even go that high. It must be thicker than a jumbo tampon for gawd's sake.

My mother, and more especially my grandmother, used to use teensy hooks to create intricate, detailed doilies and sandwich protectors and other bits of useless ephemera beloved of people in the 50s (don't ask me what sandwich protectors are - I just made that one up but it sounds like something they'd make). If I handed my grandmother a size P crochet hook she'd look at me like I'd gone loopy (whereas in fact it's the other way round). I'm not even entirely sure what size P means. I've looked at lots of different conversion charts and some say it's 16mm and some say 11.5mm and I've also seen it quoted at 10mm, 12.75 and 15mm.

The largest hook I've managed to get hold of so far is an 8mm, which strikes me as more than large enough for anything you'd like to achieve. Any larger than that and even I'd start to feel a little embarrassed to be seen crocheting on public transport.

But since it's currently the US's turn at running the show, it looks like I'm going to have to concede defeat and put in a special order.

[comedy jumbo crochet hook pic taken from Stitch Diva]

Crochet Panta

Two words I'd never even heard until recently: shrug and panta. The former because I'm not a fashionista type and it takes me a while to catch on; the latter because I don't snowboard. But while they may be fairly new additions to my (already extensive) vocabulary, they seem to be all I'm crocheting right now.

(Well, that's not strictly true, but let's just continue the pretence for the sake of this post. It's neater that way.)

After a string of recent failures (I really don't want to talk about the fact that I've just had to entirely unpick the shrug I've spent the past week crocheting, the bitterness lingers still) I was ready to build a big bonfire and throw all my wool and crochet hooks into the conflagration (see what I mean about that vocab). So, to perk myself up again, I popped over to Crafster and got this nifty little panta pattern. A couple of hours later I had a panta of my very own. Some might say it's a little on the small side, and so by rights is more of a "headband", but I pay no heed to quibbles over semantics.

It's the first time I've had a go at ribbed crochet, so I'm mighty pleased to have given that a whirl. An easy peasy panta that's fun and quick to make. My faith in crochet has been restored...
for now.

Find out how to make a Panta here.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Lia's Hat

This is the hat I made for my friend Lia for Christmas. I've got loads of bits of random wool given to me by various people and I'm not sure what sort of yarn this goldy stuff is, but it was absolutely lovely to crochet and felt very soft. From what I remember, the hat wasn't quite as nobbly as it looks in this photo. I like to think it was a bit more professionally done than that, but there's a good chance I'm merely deluding myself.

I'm modelling it for the pic, but since I failed to put any makeup on for the shot, I thought it best to hide my spectuarly spotty head from your tender eyeballs. It is not a pretty sight. The good news is (in case you care - and I just know you do) they've cleared right up now.

The pattern was from an old magazine Al's mum sent me.

Crochet Dress in Topshop

I'm not fully convinced that I actually like crocheted clothes - there's always a danger that you'll get carried away and end up wearing something like this. Nevertheless, having seen Gemma's knitted shrug, I thought I should at least give it a crack before dismissing it. I bought this pattern from Diane Langan and am already well on my way - although I'm not sure it's going to turn out right first time thanks to my (typical) decision to fiddle with the pattern (more of that on another post soon).

Anyway, I've spotted some crochet stuff in shops recently. It's amazing how obsessed you become with peering at knitwear when you can knit and crochet. So, I thought I should probably indulge my obsession by posting up a few of my finds. This dress from Topshop was on Catwalk Queen. Next time I'm in Topshop I'll see if I can find it to take some closer snaps.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Trendy Tea Cosy

Milway bought me Erika Knight's Simple Crochet book for Christmas. Until that point I'd been labouring under the illusion that the only way to crochet was with tongue firmly in cheek, but suddenly here was a design book with tasteful patterns in that wouldn't look out of place in a some City-type's po-faced loft apartment. Maybe I too could be tasteful!

Alas, the taste-gods have so far rejected me. This trendy tea cosy (or cozy to US citizens) was my verson of the cafetiere cosy (!). Possibly my first mistake was foolishly believing the I have it in me to work out my own designs. My second was ignoring the requests for posh black cotton yarn and using cheapo black acrylic, of which I have an abundant supply. My third was attempting to make something for myself (I've proved time and time again that I can't make something for myself with any hope of success) The gods were already displeased.

I was in a posh hotel making this (a birthday present from Al - I sure know how to make the most of a romantic weekend away, eh?!) so really the surroundings should have been perfect. However, the fatal flaw in all that was that I guessed how big it needed to be to fit my teapot. Sure enough, it turned out to be too small.

I was going to bodge a bit of extra crochet onto the side, but the very thought of giving up my aspirational tea cosy for a half-arsed black cover made me too depressed for words, and the miserable thing has been consigned to my wool box until the day I spot some hapless soul with a correctly proportioned unclothed pot.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Crochet Mobile Phone Cover

Time for another bit of Louisa Calder-inspired creativity. This time it was Al's mother who benefitted from my crochet skillz, with this mobile (cell) phone case. I finally twigged about using trebles for the row that the pull cord goes through, and this was probably the first time I actually made a bag that didn't have any mistakes in it.

Similar stuff:
Crochet laptop cover
Crochet Bag

Crochet Tea Cosy

I made this tea cosy for Al's Gran who wanted something bright and yellow to put on her pot. It was fun to make and easy, but was unlike anything I'd made before thanks to the almost semi-circular style. You start with an oblong and keep going back and forth round it, creating a nice ridged effect. The bottom was unusual as well, using a repeating triangle of double crochet, half treble, treble and double treble to create a band. It uses US names so you'll need to keep that in mind if you're a Brit. [Click for bigger pics]

Free Tea Cosy Crochet Pattern

Monday, February 27, 2006

Flower Hat: Failed Hat for me #2

This hat took me absolutely bloody ages to make. Since I'm very far from gaining my black belt in crochet, this advanced pattern took an age for me to understand. I think a lot of my trouble is, I try too hard to follow the pattern, rather than just being sensible and thinking "what is it actually supposed to look like at the end of this?" I always have this dumb-headed belief that if I stick with it it will magically turn out OK in the end.

However, once I'd understood the pattern (after unravelling it a good 400 times), it was actually pretty quick and easy to make. Just one problem.

It was teeny tiny. So I made it again with a bigger hook.

Still teeny tiny. Tried an extra flower.

No dice.

Photographed it and sent it to the big ball of wool in the sky. Cried a little.

Free Pattern from Crochet By The Hook
[The ever-helpful Dot has now added a detailed tutorial for the killer Row 6 so you shouldn't have to unravel it quite as many times as I did. I'm still not sure quite why mine ended up being so small though.]