Friday, November 30, 2012

The start of advent

Tomorrow is the first of December and for all of us who are just big kids at heart that means it is the start of advent calendars! This year I am lucky enough to have received two lovely advent calendars from friends in Germany.

One is a chocolate one. I’ve had a chocolate calendar virtually every year since I was little and they never get old for me! The other one is an advent card which is new for me.


I’ve never seen an advent card before and much less had the chance to open one. I can’t wait to open the first windows tomorrow!


Tonight I did a bit of craft shopping too and got a selection pack of different coloured felt:

  
Recently I am using quite a bit of felt to make backs for the brooches I make. This week I made another flower brooch:



I followed a free pattern for an Irish rose that I found on crochet geek. You can find it here. It is a really simple pattern to follow and I really like the finished flower. What do you think? :)

And the final photo for today is of the shawl I am making for my mum’s birthday in January.


I’m going to try and spend quite a bit of time working on that this weekend. I'm making it with sock yarn so it's not a fast project but I am enjoying working on it and seeing the different colours in the yarn :)

What are your crafty plans for this weekend?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sunshine on a cold day

Last night we had the first frost of this autumn, not too bad considering it's nearly December already. It's a cold day here today but the sky is a beautiful blue with not a single cloud in sight - a perfect day to enjoy a big mug of hot tea in my new Christmas mug ...


...yum! And some crochet sunflowers ...


I made the sunflowers with a chunky 100% wool yarn for the middle and a DK 100% cotton yarn for the petals.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Autumn leaves as inspiration

For me autumn is the most beautiful season. Trees and plants everywhere turn some really amazing colours and I find it so inspirational. I saw these leaves this weekend:


I love the colour red and seeing all these beautiful leaves made me want to dig out some red yarn and get creative. I had  a little bit of DK baby alpaca yarn and I started making flowers. I made some 6 petal and some 5 petal flowers. I added in some earring hooks, jump rings and a bracelet clasp and made a little bracelet and earring set:








Friday, November 23, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.....

...everywhere I go...


I love this time of year! Christmas decorations are starting to appear everywhere and make things look beautiful. They have put the Christmas tree and decorations up in a shopping centre where I live and that inspired me to get some christmassy yarn out.


That is Aunt Lydia's Crochet Thread Classic 10 and is called Shaded Christmas. I love the yarn and being so thin I've had to dig out my 1.5 mm hook which I don't tend to use very often. Now I've been working with it I remember why I don't use small hooks so often ... my hands ache now! I love thread though and I've been looking through snowflake patterns. I've made 2 so far:



They are hot off the hook so I haven't had a chance to block and starch them yet - that's going to be one of my weekend tasks :) I'll post some photos next week when they are finished.

My other yarn related task for this weekend in winding these skeins into balls:



What crafty plans have you got for the weekend?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Anesha lace scarf

I've made a new scarf that I just can't wait to share with you! I had some Red Heart Unforgettable yarn in a beautiful pink / purple mix:


A great partial motif pattern:


So I started making motifs....


Until I made this cute scarf!




The pattern is really pretty but easy to follow at the same time . . . the perfect combination for patterns! I ended up making 16 motifs in the end. The yarn a medium weight and should be used with a 6mm hook but I used a big old 9mm hook so that the pattern would be even more open and lacy :) I love the brightness of the yarn, the pinks and purples really mix together well. I'm hoping this will be the perfect accessory to brighten up a dark day!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Destash earrings

When I make socks I always have a tiny amount of yarn left over. It's not enough to do much with but I can never bring myself to throw it away so I have a mini stash of sock yarn :)


This weekend I decided to use up some Regia yarn left over from some socks I made last year.


With a few grams of yarn, a 3.5mm hook and a pair of earring wires I made these flower earrings:



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Slubby flower brooch

I had 26g of Colinette Point 5 yarn in a gorgeous deep purple. This yarn is beautiful, it’s 100% wool and is slubby.

This kind of yarn makes for really interesting work because the different thicknesses throughout mean that no two stitches will be identical. I love using it to make accessories. When you make a simple single crochet or half double crochet pattern it creates an almost woven effect and in more complex patterns the thick/thin contrast causes a really unique effect.

This time I had a little amount that I though would be just enough to make a brooch ….




…. and I was right! I made a five petal flower with a 9mm hook and to finish it off I embellished the center with a cute painted wooden button.

 
 


The clasp is attached to the brooch with a purple felt back.



Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Yarn card

Look at this cute, handmade card:



It's such a great idea to use yarn to make the card 3D and the play on words is great :-)

I love handmade cards so much. When you send them you know the receiver isn't going to have seen it before and when they get sent to you they are always such a nice surprise.

This reminds me that I really need to get started making my Christmas cards for this year .....

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Crochet hooks

This post is about the different types of hooks that are available and to explain a little bit about them:

 


When I first started crocheting I didn’t know what differences there were between different hooks or how to choose which hook I needed for a project. My first hook was a 5mm aluminium hook that came free with a magazine. I don’t use it very often but it’s still special because it was my first one :-)

You can get all kind of crochet hooks: steel, aluminium, acrylic (which usually come in an amazing range of colours sometimes with glitter inside them), plastic, wooden, bamboo. Most crocheters seem to have a favourite material they like their hooks to be made out of. It all depends on what is most comfortable and fastest for you.  

For me, bamboo and wooden hooks are wonderful are my favourite because they are so warm and gentle on my hands but when I travel I love my aluminium or plastic hooks that can be easily cleaned.
  

Despite all of the different materials used to make hooks there are just two main types of crochet hooks: inline and tapered. The head of an inline hook lines up perfectly with the main shaft of the hook whereas a tapered hook gradually slopes to be thinner at the head of the hook and the head stands out a little at the end and does not line up with the main shaft.
Often, inline and tapered hooks are referred to by the brand names: Bates and Boye. Bates hooks are inline and Boye hooks are tapered (the red hook in the photo above is a Boye).

A good investment if you’re just starting out with crochet is a set of hooks. The first set of hooks I bought were bamboo.

 
There are lots of websites where you can buy bamboo hooks ranging from small to really big, jumbo hooks for a good price. In general I like bamboo hooks but you have to be careful to choose well made hooks because some bamboo hooks have the tendency to snag a little on yarn which can really annoying after a while. If this happens to you, my trick is to use a nail buffer to gently smooth out any ridges.

My other set of hooks are KnitPro symphonie:


These are my favorite hooks because they are so smooth and work well with any kind of yarn. Another great thing about these hooks is that they are adaptable so that they can be used for Tunisian crochet – the silver bit at the bottom of the hooks is where you can attach the cable needed for Tunisian patterns.
Steel hooks are the tiny hooks which are sometimes nearly as thin as a needle (some are sharp like a needle too!) and they are used for delicate projects with very fine yarns. 


There are guidelines for which hook to use depending on the type of yarn you want to use:
Yarn Weight              Metric Hook Size                   US Hook Size
0 – Lace                     Steel                                      Steel
1 – Super fine             2 to 3.5mm                           B -1 to E-4
2 – Fine                     3.5mm to 4.5 mm                  E4 to 7
3 – Light                    4.5 to 5.5 mm                       7 to I -9
4 – Medium                5.5 to 6.5 mm                       I-9 to K-10
5 – Bulky                   6.5mm to 9mm                      K-10 1/2 to M-13
6 – Super Bulky         9mm upwards                      M-13 upwards

However, these are only guidelines and you can create really great effects using different combinations of yarn and hooks. For example, I love using 4 ply sock yarn (classed as yarn weight 1 Super Fine) with a much bigger hook (5 – 5.5mm) to create and open work, lacy piece.
One other important thing to point out is that there are two main sizing systems used with hooks. Nowadays most hooks come with both the metric and US sizes embossed on the side but if you find one with just one number/letter written on it, you can use this chart to convert the size:
 
Metric Size
US Size
    0.75
       14 steel
    0.85   
       13 steel
    1.00
       12 steel
    1.1
       11 steel
    1.3
       10 steel
    1.4
       9 steel
    1.5
       8 steel
    1.65
       7 steel
    1.75
       6 steel
    1.9
       5 steel
    2.0
       4 steel
    2.1 
       3 steel
    2.25
       2 steel B/1
    2.5
       C/2
    3.0 
       D/3
    3.5
       E/4
    3.75
       F/5
    4.0
       F/5 G/6
    4.5
       7
    5
       H/8
    5.5
       I/9
    6.0
       J/10
    6.5
       K/10.5
    7.0
       K/10.5
    8.0
       L/11
    9.0
       M,N/13
    10.0
       N,P/15

I hope this post has inspired you to pick up your hooks! Happy crocheting :-)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Artists

For the first post on my blog I want to share this quote with you:

He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.
St Francis of Assisi

In handmade craft work we really are artists because each project we make uses our hands, head and heart!


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