Friday, 1 June 2012

Friday FO: Beachy Ripple & Garterrific

Well I am very relieved to be posting this!  As I type, the Beachy Ripple is in the washing machine, just in time for a little bit of blocking before the baptism on Sunday.  Unfortunately, as I was forcing myself to finish it in the very hot weather (I wanted to be doing anything other than a blanket whilst the sun was shining!), I realised that I hadn't made anything for my son's 9th birthday which is the day after the baptism.  I shall just have to make it up to him in some other way, I have an idea for a Star Wars embroidery I might try out.

I have actually done a couple of small projects as well, as I'm trying to figure out what to do for both my boys' teachers at the end of the year, which is woefully close.

I've also finally gotten around to putting tassles on my Garterrific mini shawl and taken photos of it being modelled by my small fella.

So there we go, some FOs!  I do finish things off eventually ;)

This weekend is set to be manic!  My eldest brother is visiting, it's Harley's birthday, we're going to a couple of Jubilee celebrations, and of course the baptism where I get to hand over my ripple blanket.  Hopefully I won't forget to take my camera along to any of it though.  Hope you all have a fantastic weekend, are you celebrating the Jubilee at all?

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Wednesday WIP: Beachy Ripple

I've just got back from stroking lots of lovely yarn, Woodbine Wools, a local based company had an open evening with discounted yarn.  I was restrained, and am thus very proud of myself, but I have bought a little something ;)

Anyway, hayfever is driving me mad and giving me a pounding head and blurry irritated eyes, so I'm off to bed but first I want to share my current WIP.

My man was watching me work on my granny stripe blanket in bed and requested that I make a blanket as a gift for his friend's baby who has a Baptism coming up.  Now this is the guy who rarely cares what I am making, so of course I went out and got some suitable yarn to start crocheting up a storm.  I chose another of Attic24's patterns - her neat ripple, and this is it so far.

The colours I ended up selecting remind me of a beach, the little boy's parents didn't find out what gender he was before he was born so I went with the fact that a lot of his bedding etc is (hopefully) neutral colours, and then added some blues into the mix.  It's very restful I think.  I just hope his parents like it.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

W for weekend catch up - in photos!

[this is a scheduled post, as I figured I might as well do one whilst I am actually on the PC fixing the blogger app's mistakes ;)]

My weekend was fairly emotional, my Gramps got rushed into hospital again, and so I spent a lot of the time worrying.  I did take the boys for a walk, and tried to relax with some mindless crochet, I took plenty of pics (blame instagram!) and I even edited them using PhotoShop Express for Android, so here are just a few.  I'm still learning how to get the best out of my phone camera.

My next update will hopefully be soon, but with Gramps being ill (hopefully discharged Thursday), my friend's birthday and a hospital appointment of my own, worrying about a pregnant friend too, I just can't guarantee it.  Here's hoping everything works out...

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Vintage Rose FO

photo edited in later due to app photo being teeny

This is my first time blogging on my phone using the blogger app - hope it works!  I've been working on a handbag for one of my good friends who is a year older tomorrow, I'm skint so I pulled up ravelry, searched for something doable from stash I already had within 2 days and voila!

I used some crofter dk fairaisle effect yarn for the front and back, and a dusty pink Debbie Bliss Rialto for the rose petals.

I'm trying to stash bust and so pleased I managed to do so while making something just right for my friend.  She loves roses, and the whole vintage apparel thing.

Hopefully this post is successful as it'd be much easier to post from my phone because I don't seem to use the pc much at all. [edited to add... formatting was awful and pic was tiny, might be useful if I need to post on the go but it is no substitute for proper blogging, poor effort blogger!]

Monday, 7 May 2012

Tools for Crochet: Hooks

(my hooks: grey ones from LYS, Brittany birch turned handle, the darker wood is my Surina turned handle, and the gold coloured ones are my Clover Soft Touch hooks, with some more boring grey ones and finally two bamboo hooks)

The title for this post has given me a headache, tools for hooking, hooking tools, tools of the trade etc... but I couldn't help but wonder what my humble blog would come up as on google! Oh well, onwards we go...

Crochet wouldn't happen without either yarn, or a hook.  I always say to my bloke, you cannot screw a screw with the wrong type of screwdriver, when he rolls his eyes at me searching for a certain sized hook, the same goes for inferior screwdrivers/hooks, if they bend or don't insert properly it can drive a person mad! (He works in the car and engineering trades, he understands screwdriver analogies better than me moaning about hooks).  There's a variety of hooks available out there, well online mainly, local shops around here are kinda limited.  So here's a quicky review of the hooks I've tried since I first began to crochet, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Metal, these are the most common, the ones my local LYS sell are aluminium coated in boring grey paint.  They do the job just fine to be fair, they just don't look like they can whip up a delightful colourful piece of crochet that will be treasured for years to come.  The smaller sizes are steel, those are mainly for thread crochet - something I have yet to play with.  The only issue, that isn't a problem for some, is that a while into using one of these they can cause hand cramp as they're so thin in the hand.  The brands I have are mainly Prym.

Acrylic - I'm going to sound like a bit of a snob now, but I will never work with plastic if I can avoid it.  Yes it is light, but it feels horrendous.  I've had to capitulate with knitting needles in large sizes (10mm etc), but I hope never to need a crochet hook that is plastic.

Bamboo - I absolutely cannot stand working with these.  I'm not quite sure why I bought them to be honest as I don't like bamboo for knitting with either.  Bamboo is lighter, warmer to the touch and some people genuinely prefer it.  I find it cumbersome to use, the hooks aren't pointy enough, and the grabby part isn't deep enough to grip my yarn to my satisfaction.  I become the clumsiest, slowest hooker with one of these in my hands.  Maybe there are better bamboo ones out there (I think my brand was Elle), but I don't care to try.

Wooden hooks, you can get a variety of different types of wood hooks, I have only two of them, a Brittany Birch hook, and a Surina hook.  The Brittany has similar issues to the bamboo, except that I like the feel of it in my hand (nothing to do with the pretty handle, honest), it is an 'in-line' hook which means the hook only has a little depth before it is the same width as the rest of the hook - I find this makes larger crochet stitches such as treble (DC in US) a nightmare.  The Surina on the other hand, has more depth behind the hook, is pointier at the err, point, and much nicer to use, it's just a shame I ordered an 8mm hook as I don't use that size very often.  Surina is smooth, shiny, beautiful to look at and nice to work with.

Hooks with handles - there are actually quite a few available online, even Prym hooks with handles, hand decorated polymer clay handled hooks, etc.  The ones I own are Clover Soft Touch hooks.  They're actually ugly, and I think the finish on the actual hook could be smoother as the paint is satin and just not as smooth as glossier paints.  However I still find the comfort the handle offers me to make them well worth using.  I haven't found my perfect hook yet, but these are the closest I have.

(beautiful hook sold on Etsy)

Now that I am crocheting more, I find myself wanting to try out other hooks, in particular Susan Bates Silverlume hooks.  I do kinda own two of them, I have two Tunisian hooks ordered from the US, I can't really judge them as they are so much longer (35cm) but the hooks themselves are perfect.  If I buy more hooks, they will be these, either plain or with polymer handles (off Etsy, if I have the spare cash).

My conclusion is this, if I were to buy a gift for a hooker, I'd happily buy them a Surina, or handcrafted polymer handled Bates hook off Etsy, if getting hold of either was an issue then I'd go for a Clover Soft Touch.  If I was given any of them, I'd be a very happy girl so I wouldn't be embarrassed to hand them over - in fact, I have recently taught two friends to crochet ;) I also taught three of them to knit (including the two happy hookers), so it opens up a whole world of possible gift ideas lol.

Right, well I am off back to pattern writing - I'm attempting my own pattern for some of those flip top mittens for the whole family.  I must be nuts.  The whole sofa is a mess of notepads, pens, yarns, needles, and measuring tapes.  Oops.  If it turns out to be any good, I may be brave and share it here on the blog with you.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Wednesday WIP: Bloomin' Lovely!

Forever inspired by all of the awesome blogs around me, I thought I'd share this WIP (work in progress) with you as the beautiful Evelyn does regularly on her blog.

This is my bloomin' lovely cushion, using Attic24's Blooming Flower cushion pattern and my giant bag of Stylecraft yarn.  I am absolutely in love with it already, I cannot help but fondle the colourful petals, I'm not done yet, got a couple more rounds to do and then I start working the back side of the cushion up... I can't crochet fast enough, and I have my round cushion pad all ready and waiting.  I shall be taking it with me to knitting group tonight to carry on with it.

 Isn't it glorious?  I fully intend to make another (I bought 4 different sized and shaped pads, might as well if I was paying postage right?) but a bit bigger, I think next time I'll use a hook slightly smaller as I can see the holes and it's bugging me somewhat.

I actually misplaced the hook I was using for bloomin' lovely earlier, so quickly worked up this little jar hugger to keep my hooks safe and looking pretty, and then I'd found my 4mm by the time I had finished it.  I've lost so many hooks it's not funny, I used to have 3x 4mm hooks at one point, a beautiful Surina hook, a couple more Clovers etc.  I think my yarn must eat them...

Not looking forward to weaving in all of these ends...

Monday, 30 April 2012

On the Bookshelf: A Dance With Dragons

It's an accepted fact by everyone that knows me that I love to read.  I've never really reviewed books and there's no real answer as to why, and so here I am, although I am cheating, this particular book can't be reviewed properly without giving away many spoilers for the series, and so it's just going to be a general review on the series itself.  (I know people like spoilers, and there are sites out there specifically for that, but I don't like them so I can't see them appearing on here).

George R.R.Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series has recently hit the big time as far as fantasy books go, with the first book being turned into a TV show (Sky only, I have yet to watch it) named after the first title, A Game of Thrones, the second series (based on the second novel) is currently being aired.  I'm half hoping this means that we'll get the next books faster as Martin is well known for taking his time with this series.

I can't recommend the books enough, in fact I had an immense surge of happiness recently when a friend succumbed to my nagging and purchased A Game of Thrones for her Kindle, only to find she then purchased each book as she finished the last until she overtook me.  Although I have to tut and say that the reason she finally read it after downloading it a month before, was due to watching the TV show.

Westeros, where the book begins, is a country torn apart by greed for the throne, with the death of King Robert Baretheon, a fight for the crown begins, there's the Queen and her family, the Lannisters, and the Starks of Winterfell, throw in the late King's brothers and... boom!  There are some terrible bad guys and women that nightmares are made of, and some awe inspiring heroes of both sexes, but I think the best part is that I can never seem to decided which side I am actually on.  I'd like the goodies to win, of course, but each character is so well written, and strong that I actually rather love some of them, flaws and all.  I also despise some of them, but they are multi-faceted which is exciting to read.

I never thought I would say that I find myself unable to chose whether a small tomboyish girl, a lonely bastard-born boy, or a dwarf is my favourite.  However Tyrion, Jon Snow, and Arya are all right up there.  I love that there are strong female characters, I kinda wish there were some more though.  Daenerys Targaryen is in a class of her own, an inspiring, determined girl who bloomed into womanhood before my very eyes as I've read each book.

If I had to compare Martin to another fantasy author, of course it would be Tolkien, however in my opinion Martin's writing style is obviously more modern, and thus less flowery and easier to read but still as detailed and beautiful.  They both absolutely have their places, but people who found Tolkien hard going, should find this easier.  These are not quick reads, the books get bigger, and two of them are two-parters, nor is the series complete, the waits for the next book can be horrifically long, and yet I will still be patient once I've finished these two books that make up A Dance of Dragons.

Martin was my favourite author I discovered last year, and I read a lot by new to me authors last year!  If you like fantasy, aren't scared by huge books, then buy A Game of Thrones now... you can thank me when you resurface.