Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday book review

"Bend-the-rules sewing" by Amy Karole
ISBN: 978-0307347213

Last year while I was seriously thinking about buying myself a new sewing machine I bought this book from the author of one of my favourite crafting blogs - angry chicken. This is a very approachable book for a complete sewing machine novice like myself and starts out with a great section on sewing basics (including a very useful shopping list of kit you will need when you start, some basic hand sewing advice and a little detail about buying fabric).

The second section is devoted to 30 projects all of which are simple, attractive and would be easy to make adjustments to if you want to produce a more unique item. There are some lovely patterns in here for simple bags which I will hopefully get around to trying out one of these days as they would make perfect gifts in this new anti-plastic world. There are also some very cute projects for kids, the little woodland elf hat pattern has been my favourite since first browsing through this book last year.

As Christmas is fast approaching I thought I would take a little time out from my various Christmas crafting projects and whip up this little hat for my own little elf. Instead of using pre-felted wool I bought some velvety green stuff from our limited local haberdashery and as this is a devil to sew normally I just stuck with hand sewing the whole thing instead of trying to fight the sewing machine into doing it for me. I'm very pleased with how it looks and I'm glad that it fits okay (it's a little loose but it'll do) as strangely this project didn't mention what age child the hat is aimed for. I also found that the line drawings included in the instructions were not too clear and so it took a bit of guess work to figure out what side of the pieces I was supposed to be sewing together.

Even though there are a few problems with this book it is still a great starting guide with lots of practical tips for those new to sewing. The projects are lovely and look so simple that they should encourage anybody who is just starting out sewing to have a go.

Sorry for the lateness of this Friday review - my little Imp (oops - Elf) apologises but as he has just figured out crawling and hoisting himself up on things he doesn't really like to sit still for too long.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A crochet filled weekend

This weekend seems to have gotten past me even faster than usual, but it may be my own fault this time as I did spend most of it crocheting. Another of my friends has had a baby and so instead of working away on my increasingly worrying pile of things that I need to make up as Christmas presents I decided to crochet baby things instead.

However, it was time well spent I think as over the last 3 days I have surprised myself by managing to make 3 lovely matching baby items that I think will be well received (even if they aren't exactly the right size for a newborn...). First up I used the "Baby it's cold outside" pattern by Julie Armstrong Holetz, a very popular choice among fellow Ravelry users and after making it I can see why, it is a really easy pattern that produces a lovely little cardigan. I did something strange with the sizing of mine and used a double knit wool with a smaller hook size than recommended (the pattern calls for a chunky wool) in the hopes that by following the pattern for 6-12 months it should be small enough for a newborn. I think it worked - it seems about the right size if very slightly on the large size.

To match the cardigan I had a go at making the ribbed baby hat from the Nola Theiss book "Crocheted gifts in a weekend" - but after getting halfway through changed my mind and frogged the whole thing as that pattern uses tons of wool and I just didn't have enough. So instead I just winged my own pattern and I'm pretty pleased with how it came out. It has a little cuff in the same contrasting colour as the cardigan that I added by crocheting around the back post of the stitches in the previous row. I'll try and write the pattern up soon in case anyone else fancies having a go so be sure to keep an eye out for it

To finish off the set I whipped up these little booties from "Crocheted gifts in a weekend" which after all the pairs of these I've made I almost know the pattern by heart. This time I added some little flowers to the ends of the ties for a little added cuteness.

Sorry for not managing to get my normal Friday book review up last week, it is written and almost ready to publish, but I've been trying to get a little elf to pose nicely for the photograph and I've had a little trouble with that - I think he would prefer to be a little imp :-)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Today is my lovely husband's Birthday - his 30th no less, so I wanted to make him something extra special, foxy special.

If you are a fan of the Simpsons then you too may have seen the episode with the lemon tree and remember Homer shouting at one point that he was "Cunning, like a fox!" Well for some reason everything is ..... like a fox! for my husband (he has been "sleepy, like a fox" and "hungry, like a fox" even "Ferocious, like a fox") so I've been toying with the idea of making him a fox for some time.

Then I came across the fantastic blog tiny owl knits by Anja who makes the most perfect Amigurumi that I've ever seen and I fell in love with her tiny fox. Unfortunately she was at that point no longer selling copies of the pattern for her fox and so in desperation I sent her a message asking if she minded my trying to make my own fox based on her photos. She then very kindly sent me a copy of her pattern for free and I was able to make up this fox from the great instructions in that.

If you too would like to make yourself one of these exceptionally cute foxes then you will be happy to know that she is now selling the pattern again as a Ravelry download so head over there now and buy yourself a copy of it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday book review

"Finishing techniques for crochet" by Betty Barnden
ISBN: 978-1844484348

This lovely new (published this year) crochet book has just arrived in our local Library and I was very lucky to be the first person to snatch it up. After being a crocheter for so many years it still surprises me that there is still so much left for me to learn about it, and this book has some fantastic tips and tricks to share that will be of help to new and experienced crocheters alike.

Even though this title is aimed at those who already crochet to help them achieve a more professional finish with their work there is a really good section at the back with all the crochet basics that you would need as a beginner which includes clear photos of the steps in the stitches and even close ups for showing where to insert the hook when working into the foundation chain.

Within this book there are answers to all the technical questions that other crochet books don't answer or gloss over like: Just how do you join your crochet item together? (there are tips on weaving in the loose ends, four different ways of sewing different types of seams as well as working different crochet seams), and how do you go about blocking your work at the end? How do I work a button hole? and how do I put in a zip?

This book touches on a large number of different crochet techniques from filet crochet, working with beads, doing surface crochet, changing colours to produce pictures, felting crochet and adding embroidery to crochet all of which should give you lots of ideas for taking your work further and producing more individual pieces. There is a section in the book with patterns for different crochet edgings, as well as another section which has trims and other motif patterns.

Then you come to the final section, a small set of simple patterns for some basic crochet items like bags, hats and jumpers which each include notes on how you can modify the patterns to create unique items to suit your own taste. There is a rather sweet little child's sweater in here that I'm keen to make for my own little one so I'll let you know how I get on with that if I get around to it.

This is a nicely presented and well thought out book and probably contains information that would be useful for crocheters of any level. I've added it to my wishlist and I look forward to having it on hand to refer to in the crafty years to come.