Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday magazine review

"Inside Crochet" issue 3
August/September 2009

After reading two fantastic issues from this new magazine I decided that I didn't want to risk missing any issues and so was very happy to find that one of my Birthday presents was a one year subscription to it.

Unfortunately the 3rd issue has not lived up to my expectations as most of the patterns it contains are for items that I would never make. The cover project is a good example of this - these odd fingerless crochet gloves are meant to be worn with your wedding dress, and even if women do want to wear gloves on their wedding day there isn't much chance of these matching their outfit, even the model wearing them hasn't managed to make them look appealing.

Out of the 14 different patterns within this magazine I only really like 3, one is a pretty top called 'Lucienne' by designer Annette Petavy which I am very tempted to have a go at. There are some fun and slightly crazy looking frog hats (by Jane Bibby) shown on the front cover of the magazine which I will be making up to keep my little boy's head warm this winter. And lastly there is an unusual pattern for a pebble rug by Rockpool Candy which is made in natural shades and the individual pebbles are then felted before sewing together into an arrangement that suits you.

There are a few more interesting crochet articles in this issue including an article about the properties of yarn made from different plant fibres which I found very interesting. The next issue looks much more promising though and as I received it last weekend I'll be able to feature it in next week's Friday review.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Back in the crochet mood

Thankfully my craft block seems to be clearing and to help get back into the swing gently I decided that crochet was what my hands were wanting to do.

I really love making baby bits, they are so quick and satisfying, just a couple of hours of work and you end up with a gift ready to send to a mum who usually is just as excited about it as you are. The hat shown here is from another "Happy Hooker" pattern, this time part of the Sejia set by Bev Ireland. I had to add an extra increase row in this hat though as my hook size was too small (I really must get round to buying a size 4mm hook one day...) and thus the hat would have turned out tiny. I also just worked the hat in two shades of purple as that's what I had to hand, and I'm glad I did too as it matches the little two tone booties that I also made.

The booties are from "Crochet gifts in a weekend" by Nola Thesis and though I've made up the basic bootie a number of times this is the first time that I've had a go at making the ballet style version. Orinoco the octopus also loves the hat and booties and wanted me to show here how good he looks in them. Sadly I haven't got the energy to make another 6 booties for Orinoco so his other feet have had to go cold.

As well as doing crochet I've also been folding these pretty little stars from some cheap Ikea gift ribbon that I picked up last week. They are fiddly and time consuming but strangely addictive.

These stars are called Frobel stars and I first came across them years ago in an old girls activity book that my mum owns. You are supposed to make them from strips of paper and depending on what thickness you make the strips you end up with a large star or a tiny one. These are smaller than a British 10p piece and now I've made them all I'm not too sure what to do with them... too small really to use on the top of presents. Any suggestions?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday book review

"The Happy Hooker" by Debbie Stoller
ISBN: 978-0-7611-3985-0
US crochet terms

This book has quickly become a classic and is possibly one of the most popular crochet titles out there at the moment. The very well known author of "Stitch 'n' Bitch handbook" & "Stitch 'n' Bitch nation" has taken her popular format and used to it show off crochet as stylish, fun and versatile.

The instructions are one of the best things in this book, you get over 90 pages of detailed and illustrated instructions which give you clear and precise directions for first starting out and then goes on to working in rounds, different stitch types, reading patterns and finishing off your work. For years I only worked in the back loop of stitches giving my flat pieces a lovely corrugated appearance that, while nice for somethings, was not quite right... Then I read all the way through the instructions in this book (which set me straight on a number of simple mistakes that I had unknowingly been making) and I would recommend to any crocheter of any level of experience to do the same.

With 40 projects ranging from tops, hats, bags, toys and for some reason a bikini (why do some many crochet books think that a crochet bikini is a good idea?!) there are plenty of things that will get you desperate to grab your hook and have a go. For myself I would love to make at least 30 of the projects in this book and one day I will (it will be a beautiful time just me with some chocolate buttons and a pile of lovely soft yarn...), but until then I'll just get out this book every now and again and gaze at the photos, wishing.

So far the only project I've worked from this book is the Sweet pea shawl (if you are a Ravelry user then you can find details and finished projects here) which I made up to match my wedding dress. I used a lovely soft bamboo yarn which was silky and light and the end result is just beautiful. If you do sensibly go out and buy this book then be sure to also download a copy of the errata before you start on any of the patterns.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday book review

"The gentle art of domesticity" by Jane Brocket
ISBN: 978-0340950982

This lovely volume has been in my craft library ever since it was first published a couple of years ago. Because I've been an irregular reader of Jane Brocket's beautiful blog Yarnstorm I was aware at the time of the book being written and as the blog is so lovely I was desperate to get my hands on a copy as soon as possible.

Once it arrived it certainly didn't disappoint as I read it from cover to cover within days and enjoyed every single page immensely. The book just so lovely to look at, each two page spread has been beautifully laid out with just the right amount of text and photos artfully arranged that before you know it you've read through a whole chapter and your tea has gone cold.

The domestic topics covered in this book are varied and many but all seem to flow together well by being arranged into the following chapters: Inspiration, Colour, Texture, Patterns, Practical, Style, Comfort, Luxury, Sharing, Nature and Travel. Before you know it you will be looking at the world around you in a different way and noticing different colour combinations as well as perhaps having a go at a couple of the simple recipes (I can vouch for the flapjack recipe - delicious!) or reading a couple of the books that are recommended.

Out of all of my craft books this one has to be the most inspiring. There are no set projects in this book but there are hundreds of photographs of beautiful things from knitted socks, well loved books, delicious looking cakes, vibrant cushions and quilts that you would love to curl up in on a winters evening. The idea of embracing home and making it a place of comfort and refuge really resonates with me and each time I sit down with this book I get the urge to do some baking or pick up some sewing and curl up on the sofa.

This has become one of my few books that I regularly go back to when I need a little inspiration and a reminder that day to day life is vibrant and beautiful.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Blogging block

Hello everyone, sorry for being so remiss in posting lately. I haven't even got a very good excuse, I've just been a bit uninspired and because of that I haven't been doing much crafting recently. However, I'm going to have to knuckle down and get some Christmas crafting started as otherwise I won't have any presents to give to friends and family this year!

There has been a bit of crochet happening at Tea Towers over the last month though and both items I'm pretty pleased with.

First off are a pair of simple crochet slippers that I've been meaning to make for myself for quite some time. My original pair were a present from my Mother-in-law and I've loved wearing them so much that they are now in tatters with a number of holes in the soles of them. To replace them I used the closest colour match of yarn that I had in my stash and followed the very clear pattern by Lisa Gutierrez. These will probably get worn out in a couple of years too, but as I can now make a pair up in a couple of evenings they hopefully won't get too holey before I whip up a replacement.

Next up is a simple crochet crown which I made up for a friend's daughter who is at the age where her favourite things are princesses, pink and loves to 'dress up'. This crown was inspired by some of the lovely sewn crowns that I've seen on a few blogs and also in one of my sewing books somewhere... I would have preferred to make this up with fabric instead of going to the trouble of crocheting a crown shape and then making that up into the crown you see on the right, but as I didn't have enough suitable fabric for the front of the crown I pulled a hook and a ball of yarn out of my stash and did it that way.

The crochet part of the crown was perhaps the easiest part of the construction, sewing on the hundreds of sequins and then making a basic pipe cleaner framework to hold the crown straight and allow it to be bent into shape was fiddly. After I finished with that I had to add some pink felt to the back to hide all the mess as well as adding some lengths of ribbons so that the crown could be tied on. I've heard from the Mum that the crown was very well received so all well worth the effort :-)

Because I've been a bit slow in getting my posts up recently I have come up with the idea to do a regular Friday book/magazine review which will mean I've got regular content appearing here and will hopefully ease the guilt I feel at not posting my crafty progress more regularly. This plan should work fine until I run out of craft books... but looking at my craft shelf I should have enough material for a good long while yet :-) Keep an eye out for my first Friday review tomorrow and let me know what you think!