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In today’s post I will be reviewing; Crochet Step by step by Sally Harding

Crochet Step By Step by Sally Harding

Crochet Step By Step by Sally Harding

  • Title: Crochet Step by Step
  • Author: Sally Harding
  • Publisher: DK Dorling Kindersley
  • ISBN: 978_1_-4093_6418-4

My Reason for Buying

Dorling Kindersley is one of my favorite publishers, I have two excellent reference books by them called ‘The Knitting Book’ and another one called ‘The Sewing Book’. I’m quite bad at learning things in order ;) I tend to find a pattern I like, then go to look up how to do the required techniques for it,both these books have been great for that.

Earlier in the year, I decided that I’d like to give crochet a try, and bought a couple of magazines to help me learn. Now where magazines are great for motivating you; creating a square each week in a new stitch etc, it takes a long time and costs a fortune to learn basic techniques this way. I bought this Crochet Step by Step book, so that I had a reference point to look up techniques and find out more about basic crochet.

I tell you this as often a review is based on how well the book lived up to the expectations of its reader, for their own purpose ;)

Contents

  • Introduction
  • Tools and materials
  • Techniques: Basic Stitches, Stitch techniques, Openwork, Colourwork, Following a crochet pattern, Embellishments for crochet, Circular crochet, Unusual yarns
  • Finishing off: Covers how to deal with fastenings
  • Projects: Slouchy Hat, Beany Hat, Baby hat, Wrist warmers ( I SO want to make these), Lacy scarf, Cold weather scarf, Shawl, Waistcoat, Baby booties, Baby cardigan, Toy balls, Teddy bear, Book mark, String bag, Clutch bag, Project bag, Round cushion, Chevron cushion, Baby’s blanket, Patchwork blanket,
  • Glossary
  • Index
  • Acknowledgements

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Hard backed book. This is great, as it’s the kind of book you will refer to a lot and its helpful that it lays flat on the desk as you use it.
  • A smaller format 20 cm (height) x 24 cm width x 2 cm (deep) to the other DK books I have, make this more portable. (But too heavy for a project bag, without risking damage to your hooks/needles.)
  • Clear photos of stitches/techniques being demonstrated. Written notation as well as stitch symbol diagrams.
  • Lots of stitch patterns, so if you are adventurous and want to fly solo to create your own projects, you could do so.
  • Edging stitches, great if you have crochet a project and want a fancy edge, but also ideal to pretty up the edge of knitted projects too.
  • Granny squares, flowers and dimensional projects to help you develop your newly found skills
  • Wire crochet if you want to try your hand at jewellery projects
  • Projects: Something for all the family. A great book if you are looking for projects to create for gifts for friends and family as well as something special for yourself.
  • Projects at different levels so you can get on to more intricate projects as your skills improve.

Cons

  • The small format feels quite cramped. Not as spacious or easy to read as the larger formats.
  • Small typeface size, the print is both small and as other people on Amazon mention, pale for the body text.
  • Some duplication of information, if you already have ‘The Knitting Book’. Yarns, yarn weights and yarn labels will inevitably be the same for both subjects. The Choosing yarn colours is also the same in both books, as is; ‘Other equipment’. Since these are stand alone books and some of the information for knitting will be the same for crochet it’s not a criticism, just something to be aware of, if you have the other book.

Value for Money

Excellent, a good grounding in the subject, something for all abilities and a great quick and clear reference guide. Suitable for different ages and abilities. I’d think children of  ten years and over, with help, could follow some of these techniques.

Would I buy it Again?

Yes, I bought this blind from Amazon, but if I’d seen this in a store this is definitely the one I’d choose. I’ve seen others but this is an excellent way of finding the information you want, easily.

Summing up

Love this book, lots of projects I’d really like to make. The small size makes it easier to move around than the others I have by the same publisher, but I would have preferred the larger format. The print size is small and it all feels a bit squashed up. I’d rather have had the bigger format, for more room for each technique.

If you want to get started with crochet, or try some new stitch patterns, or add some decorative edging to knitted projects, this book is for you. A concise reference guide to get you going.  If you are the kind of person who wants the technical detail, so you can use the techniques in your own projects, this is ideal. You could learn the stitch patterns to begin with , then create your own projects as your abilities grow. Projects for all ages and tastes, stuff for the little un’s but not so much that if you aren’t knitting for kids you feel a bit cheated. The scarf, shawl and hats would suit all kinds of ages, from teenagers to the silver foxes.

This would also be a good book to have to hand if you were teaching a younger member of the family to crochet (or like me, trying to learn without anyone else to show you the way). The pictures make it easy to see what you are trying to achieve and there are some smaller projects, like the booties, flowers or granny squares that wouldn’t take too long. A small length of the edging stitches could be used to ‘alter’ clothes you already have, so would be an afternoon kinda project, not needing huge amounts of yarn.

Keep up the good work DK, these kinds of books are fantastic. Small is beautiful, but big is easier to follow new techniques you haven’t tried before. Thank you for not following the trend for ruining good reference books but putting patterns behind the text! Have seen many books I would have bought but can’t read over patterns.

Links

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

Today I’d like to share some pictures of a shawl that I recently finished.

Spring Summer Shawl

Spring Summer Shawl

I fell in love with this yarn, which is Wendy Luxury Cotton, when I first saw it. It looked a bit too slippery/shiny for slippers and at the time that was the only project I’d got in mind. Then I found this fab shawl pattern on Ravelry, its called Splendid Triangle shawl and is available free from Lion Brand in America. You need to join their mailing list to have access to the instructions but they have so many beautiful patterns on there, its well worth while doing so.

This is the largest knitting project I’ve tackled and wasn’t sure how I’d get on with it. Other than knit and purl, the only other techniques you need are yarn over (which I hadn’t tried before this project) and also knit two together. By the end of the project I’d got the hang of yarn overs and they now don’t scare me half as much as they did. There are great tutorials on You Tube to hand hold you through yarn overs if you’ve never done them before either.

Spring Summer Shawl

Spring Summer Shawl

The yarn is beautiful, the slight sheen really catches the light and makes the blue look like it has some white running through it. The cotton felt lovely but was harder work than acrylic as it didn’t slip quite so easily across my needles. It was worth all the effort though and I’m thrilled with the results. So far I haven’t blocked it, just spread it out a bit on the bed, which has opened the pattern out a bit.I have bought Tesco play mats to eventually block the shawl, when I’ve saved enough for blocking wires and pins, which will make a neater result still.

The hardest part of this project was the crochet edging, Id had a look round Ravelry and seen others had gone with different options for finishing the shawl. I bought a Surina Silky crochet hook, which is a beautiful wood and by getting the 10″/25cm long hook, it didn’t dig into my palm like other crochet hooks do. It still took me three days to cast off, but that’s only because of my poor dexterity and that I could only do a few loops a day. Since then I’ve seen the project finished with a ruffle edging, this looked really nice too, so if you can’t/don’t want to crochet its another option.

Spring/ Summer Shawl, crochet edging

Spring/ Summer Shawl, crochet edging

Having managed this shawl and thanks to a knitting friend tipping me off where to get the yarn, I’ve since got a few balls of Sirdar Connemara yarn in Wayfarer, a lovely heather like colour and have started another one of these shawls. This time I’m hoping to go for the ruffle edging as this yarn has a tweed like effect and I think that edging will suit it better. The crochet edging on the blue shawl works for spring and summer and on the nice cotton yarn.

Do check out Ravelry if you love knitting, its a fantastic place to find patterns, learn new techniques and ask for help. Their search functions make finding alternative yarns for patterns so much easier, you can also search for patterns by yarn type or needle size, so if you have small amount of yarn kicking round, you can find the perfect project. LOVE Ravelry, its good for eating days if you let it, but there’s so much to see and do on there its wonderful.

Hopefully now the days are getting longer and fingers crossed the warmer weather will join it, then I can knit more and also have enough light see to paint again. Have missed my paints this winter! More mixed media play coming as soon as I can get back to my stash.

Links

  • Ravelry Here is a walk round the main features of Ravelry So if you aren’t yet a member, here’s what its all about.
  • Lion Brand
  • Wendy Yarn
  • Splendid Triangle shawl To have access to the pattern istructions you need to join Lion Brand mailing list. Its worth it, they have some fantastic patterns.
  • Deramores, if you can’t find the Wendy Luxury cotton yarn on the high street, check out Deramores. They are a great knitting store with very fast delivery and excellent range of yarn and colours.

Best wishes and thanks for reading ,see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

Regular viewers will remember my new love of interchangeable knitting needles. Although I adore them, I have a tendency to frequently drop the little cable key you need to attach the needles to the cables. On Ravelry I saw someone use a beaded charm to help locate them, brilliant idea! So I’ve added my own twist to the project by adding a bell (so you notice when you drop it, and can find it in the depths of a knitting bag, and also adding a lobster clasp to make it easy to change the design of charm, if you wish to.

Completed charm for cable key.

Don’t loose you cable key, just make this simple charm so you can easily find it.

You Will Need

Items needed to create the key charm/ stitch marker.

Items needed to create the key charm/ stitch marker.

  • 1 cable key from interchangeable needles
  • 1 set of basic jewellery making tools as shown in picture: (1) Chain nose pliers, (2) Side cutter pliers, (3)Round nose pliers.
  • 1 small bell (optional but will help you find they key if its hiding) (no: 4 in picture)
  • a selection of beads of you choice. (no: 5 in picture)
  • 1 eye pin. (no: 6 in picture)
  • 1 lobster clasp (optional but this gives you a simple way to change your charms at will) (no: 7 in picture)
  • 2 small jump rings. (no: 8 in picture)
  • Bead mat (not essential but VERY helpful, unless you enjoy playing tag with your beads :) )

Method

The picture shows the order beads etc are added to the project:

Key charm tutorial

Key charm tutorial

  • Open one of the jump rings. Onto this ring; place the bell and the eye of the eye pin. Close the jump ring.
  • Thread a selection of beads on to your eye pin. Leave about 1cm of pin without any beads, or trim the eye pin back to leave 1cm of exposed wire, if you have used smaller beads.
  • Form a loop with the remaining eye pin wire. Do this by using round nose pliers to bend the remaining eye pin wire to 90 degrees to the line of beads. Place your round nose pliers at the very end of the wire and gradually curl the wire by rotating the pliers until you have formed a loop. Make sure you completely close the loop to prevent the piece coming apart.
  • Open the second jump ring. Drop the loop you just formed on the end of the eye pin onto the jump ring. Drop the loop on the lobster clasp onto the same jump ring. Close the jump ring, ensuring that it is completely closed so nothing will fall off.

You can now use the lobster clasp to attach the charm to the cable key. With the little bell you will now hear if you drop your key, or by shaking the bag, discover if its hiding at the bottom of your knitting bag :)

If you find it awkward to use the key with the charm in place, by having the lobster clap on there, its easy to remove while you attach needles to a cable. Remember to put the charm back on afterwards tho, or it will get you playing hide n seek again!

Options/Added Extras

Make a collection of these charms with different beads, and you can change them at will. The charms can also be attached to small key ring loops to create stitch markers, though I’d leave off the bell or it will probably drive you and those around you to go nuts every time you knit ;)

Links

New to beading? Here are a selection of videos from Beaders Companion, for how to achieve some of the techniques mentioned in the tutorial above.

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial and will give these charms a go. I’d love to see your results.

Best wishes and thanks for reading see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

Today I’d like to share a picture of the knitted hot water bottle cover I made for my mother in law for Mothers Day.

Hand knitted hot water bottle cover from 'The Little Knitting Company' kit.

Hand knitted hot water bottle cover from ‘The Little Knitting Company’ kit.

The project was from a kit I saw on C&C, lucky I bought it a while ago as it took ages to work out what I was doing. Luckily after getting in touch with the company, there was a revision in the pattern which helped it make more sence and they also linked to a tutorial for how to do the tie for the top,which I got a bit stuck on.

Sure hope she likes it, I seem to have an allergy to wool and sneezed like I had a cold throughout the project. No more wool for me! The yarn was called Geko and is 85% wool, 15% alpaca. It shed a lot of fibres as I knitted it, so maybe that’s what made me sneeze so much.

Have since found some more hot water bottle cover designs on Ravelry so I’d make MIL another one, but out of different yarn ;) MIL is never far from a hot water bottle cover and these covers look like a much more cozy option to cuddle up to.

My fave hot water bottle cover pattern (design-wise I haven’t tried it yet!) is; All you Need – a classic.

Make Mum smile, make her something special with time and love. You know she will treasure it, and prob show all her friends too :)

Thoughts and prayers for everyone (like me) whose Mothers are no longer with them.

Links

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Adventures in Crochet

Welcome Back

One of the things I promised myself I’d like to try this year, has been crochet. I kept seeing such nice projects made with it, that I wanted to try it. I’d seen Wendy Poole on C&C recently, with a DVD on how to crochet, then just after Christmas there was a series of collectable magazines; Knit & stitch, which included knitting & crochet, so I gave the first couple of issues a try.

The DVD that came with issue one of Knit & Stitch magazine was excellent and covered (albeit a little too quickly) the key stitches and about increases and decreases. Issue 2 came with a crochet hook so I gave bought that too and decided to give crochet a go.

My First attempt at crochet

My First attempt at crochet

As you can see, I managed the first square but due to RSI issues, I had a lot of trouble with using the metal hook. Now on the knitting front, the right needle made all the difference, so the search began for hooks suitable for people with dexterity issues. My short list of hooks to try was as follows;

  • Clover Soft Touch
  • Tulip Etimo
  • Cushion grips to use with normal hooks

In the past, I learned with knitting that plastic needles gave too much drag on yarn, so other than the one Tunisian hook that was in my late mother’s collection, I didn’t try any more plastic ones. Metal needles and hooks made my hands lock up because they are so cold. Because of the poor dexterity, I really needed something with a thicker handle, which led me to the options above. On to Ravelry, the font of knowledge on all such things and I had a good read of what others were saying about their experiences of those brands of hooks. A quick trawl through You Tube, for possible demos and the flat nature of the Clover soft touch, finally put me off. After trying a totally unsuitable pencil gripper (NOT suitable as it’s designed to put your fingers in a writing position, which was wrong angle for crochet). I ordered a Tulip Etimo hook from a seller on Ebay, who beat even Amazon prices!

The Tulip Etimo hook has a metal area where the hook is, but the handle is made of a special cushion grip, which is smooth and rubbery so not cold and not slippery. I’m posting a full review of it on a later date.

Tulip; Etimo Crochet Hook

Tulip; Etimo Crochet Hook

Results

To try to limit the amount of twisting I needed to do, I used the knife style of grip on my hook. Also to reduce the twisting and bending on the wrist, I tried rotating the hook just in my fingers, instead of using my whole hand. This worked on not having to twist my hand around but sadly it seems crochet is not for me. I feared it would come under the heading of self harm with the dexterity issues I have, and at least in the winter this turns out to be the case, it was always going to be a long-shot. Even with the soft and lovely handle of the Tulip Etimo, the way I was spinning the hook, made not just my hand lock up, there was a lot of pain across the back of my hand and up my forearm to my elbow, I learned the hard way in the past NOT to ignore this kind of pain and it took over a week to settle back down, so sadly it looks like crochet isn’t for me.

Learning Curve

I’m quite sad that I couldn’t crack this, as I’d love to have made some snowflakes and some granny squares but its not worth the pain it caused and after over ten years of recovery after two operations on my wrists, to get even some of my dexterity back, I’m certainly not going to risk further tendon damage, again.

What all this has taught me, is to be wary of people who say; ‘This is suitable for people with dexterity problems’. I am guilty of making that remark myself too. Everyone’s dexterity problems are unique to them, it could be that your hands don’t function well but that fact doesn’t cause you pain, so you just need a tool that you can get hold of easily. In my case my dexterity issues not only make gripping and fine motor skills difficult, but also very painful so different tools can help but not every time.

At the end of the day, I am glad I tried crochet. It might not have worked but I am still very lucky that, at least for short periods, with long breaks between sessions and with the right materials, at least I can still knit occasionally. In future, I will try to make sure I use comments like; ‘If you have dexterity issues, these are worth looking into’. Rather than, ‘Are great for people with dexterity issues’. I’ve still got a bundle of Knitting magazines that gave details for making a blanket. So maybe over a lot of time, we still will get our hand-made blanket. Ten years DH & I have been married and only recently when we were talking about crochet, did he say he’d always liked the idea of a blanket like that :) Who knew? :)

Links

For those who would like to find out more about the hooks from my shortlist, here are links to the manufacturers.

For those wanting more information on getting started with Crochet, check out these sites.

Amazon is a good place to look for feedback others have left about these brands and joining Ravelry is not only a great way to meet fellow yarn-a-hollics but also find out more about knitting & crochet, share patterns and discuss your questions too.

For others who find this article for research, have you found any hooks that work great for you? If so do leave a comment so others can find them too.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

Here we are already in February, the winter seems to be going on forever but still January has sped past. For this month’s challenge: Try Something New.

This month I’ll be sharing my recent adventure into crochet and be trying something totally different, but exactly what this is, is a secret for now.

How about you, what have you promised yourself you want to try this year? Now’s a good time to start :)

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing;

Knit Picks: Options; Sunstruck Wood. Interchangeable circular knitting needles

Knit Picks: Sunstruck; Options. Interchangeable Circular Knitting Needles

Knit Picks: Sunstruck; Options. Interchangeable Circular Knitting Needles

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Knit Picks: Options; Sunstruck wood
  • Item number: 90613
  • RRP at time of writing: $84.99

Contents

  • Needles: These are the sizes in US measurements and mm rather than the old UK sizing but there are lots of charts that will convert the numbers for you ;)
  • UK: 3.50, 3.75, 4.00, 5.00, 5.50, 6.00, 6.50, 8.00
  • US: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 10.5, 11
  • Cables: 2 each of the following sizes; 24″ (60 cm), 32″ (80 cm)
  • End Caps: 8.
  • Cable keys: 2

The case they come in can be used to store the needles and has a separate pocket style case, for the cables and end caps. This smaller case will easily fit inside the main one and there are plenty of extra pockets in the walls of the case, to add extra needles as you collect them over time.

Knit Picks: Sunstruck; Options. Interchangeable Circular Knitting Needles

Knit Picks: Sunstruck; Options. Interchangeable Circular Knitting Needles

Reason For Buying

I find metal needles too cold and because of RSI issues this makes my hands lock up. Plastic needles gave too much drag with the yarn, so the search began for wooden needles. I have enjoyed knitting with light coloured birch wood needles (straight ones) in the past  but REALLY wanted to get an interchangeable set of cirular needles.

Circulars were a good plan because the weight of the project is in your lap, rather than on the needles but all the ones available in the UK were bright swirling colours (Harmonies/Symfonies depending on the branding). These too were unsuitable because of vision issues, which makes bright colours strobe like optical illusions.

I continued my search and found these Options in Sunstruck wood, on the Knit Picks website and fell in love with them.

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Birch wood
  • Light coloured, no more optical illusions from multi-coloured laminates
  • Smooth finish to wood and metal joints
  • The metal connectors between needle and cable are super smooth and because they are in constant contact with your hand, warm up and have given me none of the chilling factor that I get from metal needles.
  • Versatility. Wide range of sizes to cover many yarn types. You can also get cable connectors seperatly that will join more than one cable to another, to add even more length options, if you need to.
  • End caps, so you can take the needles off when you travel or to store a project.
  • The needles are small in size which makes them easy to store.
  • Very light and comfortable to use

Cons

At the time of writing I have found no suppliers or importers are bringing them into the UK :(  Knit Picks only deliver to USA and Canada. It was only because someone I knew was going on a trip to the USA that I was able to get these. {You know who you are and that I am eternally grateful}.

Build Quality

Fantastic. The needles are superbly finished, totally smooth wood. They feel silky in the hand without having a high gloss finish that could be distracting. To describe the colouring, I’d call them standard birch colour with visible but not raised ginger in the grain.

Value for Money

Excellent. If you are lucky and live in the places they are delivered to, you have the option of buying individual needles so you can try them out to see if you like them before you get the whole set. That option also means that should you suffer any breakages you could get extra ones. I love the full set as all the sizes are so useful, now I can choose whatever yarn I fancy rather than having to remember which needles I have and only buy yarn that I could use with those.

Would I buy it Again?

YES YES YES. I desperately want to get another set as I’ve got on so well with these. I haven’t got the hang of magic loop and prefer to use the two circulars method for smaller projects.

Summing up

I know I was in love with my Brittany needles and if you want a comparison for coloring and smoothness these would be very similar. I ADORE these Options in the Sunstruck wood, because of the type of dyslexia that I have the highly coloured woods of Symfonies/Harmonies were never going to work for me. Also because there is such low light here in the winter or if you knit in the evening, the lighter coloured wood is so much easier to see to knit with.

Each needles is 4.5″ in length and the sizing listed on the cable is the final length with the needles attached to the cable.

These needles have been pure joy to knit with, so far I have used them with acrylic yarn and half acrylic / half wool both of which have been wonderful with no negatives. Fantastic with cotton which is another favorite  material.

An important point also, is that although they are intended for circular knitting because of the cable styles, there is no reason why you can’t do regular straight knitting on them. Instead of joining the work in the round, when you get to the end of the row, pass the needle to the other hand just as you would with straight pins and continue knitting. If you wanted to, because you have two of each of the cables you could attach one cable to the needle and add a cap to the other end of the cable if you still want to preserve totally separate needles for each hand.

Knit Picks: Options Sunstruck Wood.

Knit Picks: Options Sunstruck Wood. Needle attached to cable & end-cap

Links

Please, please Knit Picks send these to UK importers. UK importers of Knit Picks, please bring these to the UK – they are amazing. I ain’t too proud to beg ;)

Horray! Found a supplier that will ship to the UK. Check out Happy Knits from Portland OR

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

PS: Another option for lighter coloured needles that are available as fixed circulars are Knit Pro Basix. These are also pale in colour but so far they have only been available as fixed length circulars not interchangeable needles.

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