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