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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing; Learn to Crochet with Wendy Poole; The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Crochet.

Learn To Crochet with Wendy Poole DVD

Learn To Crochet with Wendy Poole DVD

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Wendy Poole
  • RRP at time of writing: £15 directly from Wendy Poole including P&P
  • Run Time: 1 hr 47 minutes
  • Picture 16:9
  • Format: DVD – 5
  • Standard PAL
  • Region: All

Reason For Buying

This year I set myself the crafty new Years resolution to learn to crochet. I bought a book, and I couldn’t follow it. Being dyslexic I am a visual learner and although there are lots of tutorials on You Tube everyone has different styles and you get confused. Heard about Wendy’s DVD on Create and Craft back in January but didn’t buy it at the time as I had just got a DVD with Knit and Stitch magazine and didn’t think I needed it. After months of still not progressing I bought the DVD and here’s how I got on.

Contains

Quote from the back of the DVD

‘Learn to Crochet with Wendy Poole’ will take you step by step through everything you need to know from the very beginning.

We start with basic introduction to the art of Crochet. You then follow the 3 basic lessons based on Wendy’s own classes.

Thee is also a BAsic Stitch directory, with UK stitch terms and USA equivilents.

The Tips and Techniques section teaches you everything you need to make your projects, including increasing and decreasing, crocheting pieces together and joining colours.

Finally there are 5 different project ideas to follow that can be made without using a pattern.

Pros/Cons

  • Well described techniques
  • Learn by making things
  • Stitch directory in UK and USA terms
  • Lots of techniques for finishing and joining up crochet pieces
  • Selection of nice projects

Cons

Just one

  • Choosing a hook. I was hoping for more info in this section. This was little more than; here are the types of hook available, rather than which was better for which type of yarn etc. Also at this point the camera was looking more at Wendy than the hooks, so you didn’t get the best view of the hooks either.

It was the only downside, the rest of the DVD more than made up for this.

Build Quality

Excellent. A few places editing cut off words, a little over bright in places but well focused and good sound levels. Although there is some music in the background which I usually hate, it was VERY low and not obtrusive.

Excellent menu system to quickly get to the section you are after.

Value for Money

Excellent.

Would I buy it Again?

Totally and recommend it to anyone who wants to crochet but is a visual learner.

Summing up

This is a fantastic DVD. I have been skeptical of books and DVD’s claiming to be ‘The Ultimate.’ anything, as they often disappoint. NOT the case with this DVD, it truly does what it sets out to do. Takes you by the hand and shows you with demos how to create flowers, granny squares, stitches and so on.

When Wendy was on Create and Craft she said of this DVD that after watching it she wanted to leave people not just able to create the one project but have the skills to make whatever they wanted to in crochet. After watching it, I have a lot of practice to do to perfect my new skills but now I can go and find projects I want to make and refer back to this for key elements of the design.

I love the way that rather than starting out with stitch after stitch as other books and so on do (which is a good plan but boring), with this you start by making a little flower, so straight away you have created something lovely. This is a real confidence builder and after watching it through a few times you can crochet along with Wendy and create along with her. This is a great way to bed in new skills as you link them to an actual project, which really helps.

This is an excellent DVD, if you have always wanted to crochet, I highly recommend it. If you have been looking at all the lovely crochet projects in magazines and around the internet thinking ‘I want to do that’, then this is the DVD for you. Now I’ve seen this, I’ve gone back to the ‘how too’ book I bought and can better understand what it means.

Especially delighted as since I was little, I’ve always wanted to make a granny square. I was given a dolly blanket by someone in the family and always wanted to make one for myself. Didn’t have the patience then, not sure I’ve got the dexterity now, but if I only do a little at a time and with plenty of rest in between, perhaps I’ll be able to make a little mat for my laptop to sit on, or a cover for my Kindle.

I am looking at making  little flowers and snowflakes, just hope my RSI will settle and let me do this at least occasionally, in good weather.

Thank you Wendy for an excellent DVD. Here is my Granny square.

Granny Square created after watching Wendy Poole's DVD

Granny Square created after watching Wendy Poole’s DVD

Links

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing; Tulip Etimo Crochet hook

Tulip; Etimo Crochet Hook

Tulip; Etimo Crochet Hook

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Tulip; Etimo
  • Item number:
  • RRP at time of writing: Price varies depending where you get them I paid £7.95 on Ebay

Reason For Buying

I have dexterity problems caused by RSI, wanted to try crochet and needed something with a thicker handle as my grip isn’t very good.

Pros/Cons

Tulip; Etimo Crochet Hook in my hand

Tulip; Etimo Crochet Hook

Pros

  • Soft Handle
  • Thicker handle which is great for smaller diameter hooks
  • Warm in the hand
  • The rubberised surface gives you better control of the hook
  • Metal hook means it glides effortlessly through yarns
  • Handle dimensions seem to be the same across the size ranges, although the very fine lace hooks have blue handles and look a little different in size.

Cons

  • The handles are a little on the short side for me, as I use the knife style grip. Shouldn’t be a problem if you use the pencil grip.
Tulip; Etimo Crochet Hook showing the flatter section on the handle

Tulip; Etimo Crochet Hook, showing the flatter section of the handle

Build Quality

Excellent, the material used on the hook are and handle are fantastic. Both are comfortable to use and work well with a variety of yarns.

Value for Money

My hook came from a seller on Ebay, at just under £8 it was expensive but the build quality makes them very good. I also saw these on Amazon at just under £13, even if they had been perfect for me, unless I only wanted one or two hooks that would have been more than I’d have wanted to spend. That said the quality is fantastic and if this is your main hobby its worth the investment in top quality.

Would I buy it Again?

At this stage no. But that is only because it didn’t solve the dexterity issue I had. If this had been the right shape for me then I would have gone for these in a heartbeat.

Side view of Tulip; Etimo Crochet Hook. Close up

Side view of Tulip; Etimo Crochet Hook. Close up

Summing up

These hooks are fantastic and well worth all the positive hype they get. If my hands had worked or managed crochet then these would have been the hooks for me. The are available singly or in sets, the sets I have seen even include storage bags for the hooks and if you have a loved one who is into crochet they would make a wonderful gift.

If you are a fan of very fine crochet but find the hooks hard to hold there are also some blue handled hooks in the range that go down to much smaller sizes.

The reason I’m not buying more of these is because my RSI kicked off and complained loudly when I tried crochet, so I think it will be something I may not be able to do. Also the length of this hook, when I was holding it with the knife style grip I use hit just between the knuckles on the inside of my palm between my little and next finger. This caused me a problem as last year I managed to almost dislocate these bones so they are quite tender to pressure. I have Hyper-flexion, which means my tendons flex further than they should, this leaves me prone to RSI type injuries like this, so for me this hook was a bit short.

If gripping itself doesn’t cause you pain and your issue is more about having enough handle to get hold of then give these a try. The grippy material on the handle makes a big difference to this and makes them easy to hold. The material is also warm in the hand, so if you find metal makes your hands lock up because it’s so cold, but bamboo or plastic hooks create too much drag on yarn, then again give these a try. These are the best of both worlds with the warm handles but metal hook for better glide through a variety of yarns.

Links

Here is a link to the maker’s website, so you can find out more about these hooks, their size ranges and other options in the range.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing;

'Sheena's brushes' aka Royal Langnickel: Crafters's Choice.

‘Sheena’s brushes’ aka Royal Langnickel: Crafters’s Choice.

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Royal Langnickel; Crafters Choice. Otherwise know as Sheena’s Paint Fusion brushes
  • Item number:
  • RRP at time of writing: £10
  • Set contains: 5 x White Nylon Brushes:
  • Crafters Choice White Nylon Wash – 3/4″
  • Crafters Choice White Nylon Wash – 1/2″
  • Crafters Choice White Nylon Shader Size 8
  • Crafters Choice White Nylon Round Size 6
  • Crafters Choice White Nylon Round Size 3

Reason For Buying

These were demo’ed by Sheena Douglass on Create & Craft, for use with Sheena’s Paint Fusion (one stroke) painting stamps. My best friend gave me a set of these last birthday, I had bought several of Sheena’s stamp sheets and just started with acrylic paint for the first time. I have limited dexterity and these appealed to me for the cushion grip area on the handle.

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Superb quality
  • Grippy sections on the handles. Great if you hands don’t work so well
  • Easy to clean
  • Great set of sizes
  • Perfect for acrylic paints
  • Springy without being scratchy, soft without being too delicate
  • Very comfortable to use
  • Match with Sheena’s one stroke stamp sheets if you are getting into that.

Cons

  • Haven’t got any. It would be nice to see a long-handled version of these too.

Build Quality

Excellent

Value for Money

Excellent

Would I buy it Again?

Yes, I use these a lot and they work really well

Summing up

At first glance and with the name ‘Crafter’s Choice’ I can see some artists walking past these as being cheap and cheerful brushes. It would be their loss. These brushes are superb quality for all round crafting and painting and have performed really well. The balance outperforms Daler Rowney System 3 brushes by a mile!

The sizes in the set are ideal for most projects, don’t be an art snob and miss out. Check these out, if you are bewildered by what brushes to buy and get these. Add any extras you need to AFTER you try them, unless you are painting REALLY big, these cover most projects.

Links

Available from

A great set of brushes, try them, you won’t regret it, they are fab.

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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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing;

Issue 1 of Knit & Sitch magazine by Bergere De France.

Bergere De France: Knit & Stich, Issue 1

Bergere De France: Knit & Stich, Issue 1

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Bergere De France
  • Item number; ISBN: 2049-8004
  • RRP at time of writing: 99p

Reason For Buying

Having seen lots of crochet projects online and on TV I really wanted to learn to crochet. I spent so long looking into hooks that might help with my limited dexterity that the Wendy Poole DVD that I was going to buy from C&C sold out. When I saw this magazine on TV with a DVD I jumped at the chance to learn and have some patterns too.

Bergere De France: Knit & Stich, Issue 1

Bergere De France: Knit & Stich, Issue 1

Contents

This first issue is an amazing price and if you want to get started in knitting & crochet GET it quick as it was out last week.

  • Issue 1 of Knit & Stitch magazine
  • 1 pr 3.5mm metal knitting needles 25cm long
  • 2 25g balls of Bergere De France yarn
  • Leaflet telling you yarn that will be used in the series
  • Details of freebies offered to subscribers
  • DVD

DVD run time 26 minutes, this covers the following

  • Knitting:

The slip loop, cast on, knit and purl stitches, Basic stitches: Garter Stitch, Stocking Stitch, Reverse Stocking stitch, Moss stitch, Casting off. Tips section covers; Changing ball of yarn/change colour, Pick up dropped stitch, Unravel to correct a mistake.

  • Crochet:

Slip knot, chain stitch, Basic Stitches; Single Crochet, Double Crochet, Half Treble, Treble, Double Treble. Increases and Decreases, Finishing.

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • The needles are metal so they feel a better quality than usual cheap plastic ones often offered in such kits
  • The magazine lists a website that gives lots of information about the series such as number of issues and a preview of the first issue.
  • Knit & stitch guide gives details of yarns that will be used across the series and a preview of some of the patterns too
  • Different sections for all levels including; Patchwork collection (knitted & crocheted squares to create the throw), Fashion makes, Easy Does it, For the Family, Home Comforts and Know How

DVD

  • Run time 26 minutes
  • Excellent DVD, showing lots of stitches and get you started techniques
  • Clearly explained and filmed from over the shoulder of the demonstrator so easier to learn
  • Narrator has a reassuring but not annoying patronising voice as on some DVDs
  • No background music to distract you
  • Good contrast between demo yarn and surroundings so easy to see how stitches are formed

Cons

  • On the DVD  everything is very well explained but from a total novice point of view, had the stitches been shown for the entire row rather than just a couple of times, it would have helped the new skill sink in better. That said, being a DVD I can just replay a particular section over and over again till I get it.

Build Quality

Excellent. The metal needles make for a more quality thought about product than the usual cheap n sometimes nasty plastic ones often found on such magazines. The yarns are sealed in boxes, which keeps them clean and protected.

Value for Money

Excellent

Would I buy it Again?

Yes

Summing up

If you have promised yourself this is the year you want to learn to knit or crochet, get to the shops QUICK, this issue was out last week and issue two is already in store. You don’t want to miss this one as it has the instructional DVD in it. I like these kind of things for the fact that you get practice yarn, some patterns for all levels which inspires you to keep learning so you can make the harder stuff.

This particular magazine covers a range of crafts; Knitting, Crochet, Tapestry, Crewelwork, felting. Over the series it will give you the chance to try out a selection of yarn types and also collect a number of tools for your new hobby.

Will I buy them all, in real honesty, no. This is a weekly publication and although it offers a lot, the regular price will be £4.50 which I just don’t have spare on a weekly basis. Had it been fortnightly, I would have bought more of them. That said it is a wonderful quality product and if you want to try these hobbies grab it while you can, its superb.

Links

Check out the dedicated website to the Knit & Stitch magazine, it has a lot of useful info and a preview of this weeks issue.

I’m very impressed by this publication, they seem to have given a lot of thought to the presentation and the things people want to know upfront. Check out the links for more information from their website.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing; Light Weight Drawing Board from SAA.

SAA Lightweight Drawing Board

SAA Lightweight Drawing Board

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; SAA
  • Item number: DBS Quarter Imperial Light Wieght Drawing Board 431 x 330 mm / 17″ x 13″
  • RRP at time of writing: £11.99  or £10.75 for SAA members

Reason For Buying

I wanted a light weight drawing board to make it more portable and to use with my table easel.

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Superbly light
  • Great size as I tend to work A4/A5 size paper
  • Board has a little flex and give to the surface
  • Smooth surface – great for pencil drawings
  • Good price for good quality board

Cons

  • Bit worried about damaging it because it’s so light. So far storing it in the card sleeve it came in. Time will tell how robust it is and I’ll update the review after more use with it.

Build Quality

Great, the drawing surface and edging are super smooth

Value for Money

Excellent

Would I buy it Again?

Yes

Summing up

This board is excellent, much easier to move around being lighter weight. This means it will be used more often than other boards I have. I was initially worried about the flex to the surface but since using it the effect on my pencil drawing is that it evens out my pressure. Sometimes I press harder than intended but the finished sketch using this board came out with much more even pencil coverage and blending than I usually achieve.

Links

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing; Hobby Gift Knitting Frame. This is a folding Knitting bag on feet that holds your yarn as you knit. It folds shut to store away when not in use.

Knitting Frame; Stand up storage for knitting projects

Knitting Frame; Stand up storage for knitting projects

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Groves: Hobby Gift Knitting Frame
  • Item number: CB334
  • RRP at time of writing: £23.99

Reason For Buying

I have had cloth totes to hold my knitting projects but get annoyed when the sides fall in and you have to haul hard to get your working yarn free. Liked this as it will store project and yarn and folds flat.

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Superb quality fabric. It is Clarke and Clarke Bird Trail fabric but the curtain weight fabric not the very light cotton fabric that other bags of this kind often are.
  • Nicely finished wooden frame. The wood sections are all round section and varnished which gives a very beautiful finish.
  • Comfortable to carry with the round section handle.
  • Looks beautiful really makes you want to create
  • Folding flat means it takes up little room next to your chair when not in use
  • Having the top open wide and the sides stay out-of-the-way means it is a joy to use.

Cons

  • No pockets inside or outside the bag. Some other knitting frame have external pockets which are handy for putting little notions into. I am using a zip up make up style bag inside for all the little odds n ends, but a pocket would have kept them from tangling in the yarn as they can do in use.
  • I hadn’t realised it was the price it was till after I got it home, I had seen a £12.99 label on one and loving this fabric I jumped at it. Only on further investigation of the tag when we got home revealed the higher price. BUT It is beautiful, I still love the fabric and it is much much better quality than others priced between £10-£20 so it still is good value for money.

Build Quality

Excellent. Upholstery weight fabric should make it last longer. The wooden areas are nicely finished and varnished. Seams are nicely finished too and any raw edges still visible are over-locked.

Value for Money

Good. Given the high quality of the fabric and the good level of finishing it is a fair price for a quality product.

Would I buy it Again?

Yes, I still love the fabric and its pattern and it does a great job.

Summing up

If you have a knitting friend this is an excellent gift. Great for keeping your knitting projects to hand but out of harms way, stops the yarn running all over the floor and much easier to use than soft sided bags which make knitting life a pain when their sides fall in on your yarn or the yarn escapes.

If you go to knitting groups this is ideal. A beautiful bag and an excellent gift idea. Worth its price tag, the only way they could improve it is with a pocket or two either on the outside or the inside but that is just a little niggle. It’s a thing of beauty that does what it’s designed for, I’m very happy with it and I’m sure any knitter who also loves the fabric pattern would also be delighted with it.

Links

So, how about you, where do you keep your knitting?

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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