Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Yet again Halloween has managed to surprise me... before I knew what was happening it was only a week away and I had some last minute crafting to get done. Thankfully there is a fantastic pattern freely available on the Planetjune blog for these cute little pumpkins so after a bit of frantic crocheting I had these 3 finished and ready to start the Halloween celebrations.

Photo thanks go to my lovely husband who has spent some time fiddling with his new SLR camera to capture these pumpkins in the middle of lighting candles.

Seeing as the pumpkins really took very little time to make at all I also had time to make some very quick Halloween cards to go with them... just a few sheets of black sugar paper, some plain white printer paper and a silver pen and Bob's your uncle I had made some cards.

Now I should just go and dust off the old witches hat, find my broomstick and maybe carve a real pumpkin or two... perhaps I'll even go and do a bit of trick-or-treating too :-)

Happy Halloween everybody!

Monday, October 26, 2009

New arrivals

Just a quick post to show off a couple of crochet bits that are on their way to yet another new baby (for some reason there seems to have been a baby explosion recently so keep an eye out in case it starts raining babies too).

Orinoco is here again to show off my handiwork, you can see him wearing a deep ribbed crochet hat and some cuffed booties both patterns from the "Crocheted gifts in a weekend" book by Nola Theiss.

The pattern for the hat was meant for an older child but after substituting the chunky yarn for a much finer yarn and using a smaller hook the hat should hopefully fit a newborn okay. The ribbing on this hat is lovely and adds a real thickness and warmth to the hat - this will definitely be a pattern that I try again in the future.

Sadly the bootie pattern wasn't nearly as good. The cuffs were supposed to be knitted so the whole pattern was designed around that and required lots of sewing up of separate pieces. They have also turned out to be a little bit flat looking - not nearly as cute as they did in the book.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday book review

"The Glass painting book" by Jane Dunsterville
ISBN: 978-0715304280


"Glass painting projects" by Jane & John Dunsterville
ISBN: 978-0715308332

Because of my crazy plans to try and craft most of the gifts that I will be giving away for Christmas this year I've gone and spent a lot of money on candles and new glass paint and now find myself slightly short on inspiration of what to paint... which is where Jane Dunsterville comes in with her lovely glass painting books.

Back in 1996 when "The glass painting book" was originally published I was lucky enough to meet Jane Dunsterville at a craft show where she had a stand selling her then new book as well as her own range of glass paints. After spending quite some time gazing at the stall wishfully my mum offered to buy me a copy of the book with a starter kit of paints and that purchase started my love of glass painting.

"The glass painting book" is aimed at beginners and starts out with advice about materials and then the first chapter contains some basic projects which introduce new techniques to help guide you gradually through starting off painting. There is a chapter with projects that focus on using colour, a chapter for more advanced projects which introduces 'special' techniques and a final project chapter about painting on plastic. All the way through the book there are 'design directory' pages which have outlines that you can use to make all the projects listed as well as some variations to try. If you are starting out in glass painting and need some guidance about how to start as well as plenty of inspiration for things to make then this would be a fantastic book for you.

"Glass painting projects: Decorative glass for beautiful interiors" is a more advanced glass painting book and geared towards doing large projects that will be on display in your home. There is much more detail about different techniques including guidance on using adhesive lead on glass panels, applying coloured adhesive (for projects that need to be more weather proof) and guidance on glass etching. The projects range from some lovely projects for painting panels on interior and exterior doors, lamps, some very beautiful painted mirrors and a whole host of other household glass surfaces that could do with making more glamorous. Most of the projects also seem to have a design style period and there are some lovely Art Deco and Rennie Mackintosh projects that I would love to try my hand at. This is a really beautiful book and the projects in here are awe inspiring, if you are thinking of taking your glass painting to the next level then this would be a great book for you to read.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday book review

"Crocheted gifts in a weekend" by Nola Theiss
ISBN: 978-0806909714
US crochet terms

When I first learnt to crochet I was given this book as a Birthday present and struggling through the sometimes erratic patterns has taught me a lot about crochet over the years. One of the first things that I made were two of the sweet little ducklings from the duck family pattern and these little guys with their wings that look like floats (as shown in the photo on the right) were so well received that I ended up sticking with crochet instead of doing more knitting. Frank the duck was made much later on, for my husband who for some reason fell in love with the idea of having a crocheted duck.

This book is aimed at both beginners and more experienced crocheters so it has a large range of projects with different levels of difficulty. There is the usual short glossary of stitches at the beginning of the book which also has some very clear black and white diagrams. The projects include patterns for scarves, hats, baby and young children clothes, some rather odd 'for the home items' as well as some lovely crochet toys. There are still projects in this book that I mean to get around to making one day, and even though this book is getting a little dated now (it was originally published in 1995) most of the patterns still seem appealing.

The booties that I always seem to be making are also from this book and are pretty quick and easy to do. After having made a large number of pairs I now find the pattern easy to follow, but some guidance about where to place stitch markers would have been useful first time round.

All in all this crochet book will always stay a firm favourite with me, but before you rush out to find a copy for yourself remember that this isn't necessarily the best written book out there and I have found a number of errors in some of the patterns that I have had a go at.

If anyone else has a copy of this I would love to know what you think and perhaps see some photos of what you've made - I seem to be the only person on Ravelry who has photos up of what I've made from it!

Thursday, October 8, 2009


I've recently returned from a lovely 5 day break at a nearby Center Parcs which is the first holiday I've had since becoming a mum. I'm now refreshed and ready to start knuckling down to my Christmas crafting, but before I got started on any of the things I have planned to make as presents I got side tracked by the frog hat pattern in issue 3 of Inside Crochet.

This is a lovely pattern by Jane Bibby with simple instructions that you can use to make a variety of sizes (I'm very tempted to make a large hat for my husband but I don't think he would wear it). My little boy has been out a couple of times today wearing this hat and lots of people have stopped to admire him in it. Now I've made him a hat I should probably do him some matching booties as well though I may have to come up with my own pattern for them as there do not seem to be any that I like online.

During my holiday I did try to get some crafting done in the one evening I had free so I had a go at silk painting, unfortunately it didn't work out quite how I had hoped... I found the outliner hard to apply and was unsure about how much was needed to stop the paint from leaking out of the outline. I also found that I can't draw butterflies freehand so next time I think I'll just stick to tracing someone else's artwork.

The red smear at the bottom is my attempts at ladybirds, also not my best work. I'm hopeful though that I will do better next time with a little more preparation and thought - I may even be able to make a few more Christmas presents from my labours.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday magazine review

"Inside Crochet" issue 4
October/November 2009

For the last few days I've almost attacked my poor postman when he delivered our mail but failed to bring the latest issue of this magazine. Some kindly spirit must have been watching over him though as it has now been delivered and he is free from the threat of an anxious crocheter armed with a 3.5mm hook, at least for another two months that is.

Why did I want this issue so badly? Well, at the back of the last issue was a photo of a 'Hooded stroll jacket' by Rebecca Velasquez which I have fallen in love with. I've never made myself a proper garment using crochet, (shawls and a poncho really don't count) and for the last year I've been thinking I need to stop worrying about messing it up and just have a go. This jacket would suit me so well, and I've gotten it into my head that I simply must have it, whatever the cost.

Ahem - perhaps not whatever the cost, after greedily reading through this fantastic issue I did a bit of yarn research and was shocked to discover that the recommended yarn for this project was not available from within the UK and would cost approximately £75 to order it from the American manufacturer. Thankfully there are 3 other alternative yarns listed, but to get the quantity of yarn I need for this jacket I would have to spend between £30 and £40 just to purchase the budget yarn recommended. This has been a bit of a wake up call for me so I need to do some more research into this before I go ahead and splurge that much on yarn when I may still make a mess of the jacket...

As for the other patterns in this issue there are a lot that I really like, including a lovely felted backpack (and an article all about felting/fulling to help get you started) some lovely tops a couple of scarves (just right for the upcoming autumn months) and a cute scull laptop pouch by Rockpool Candy. The only disappointment was that I was expecting more amigurumi in this issue and all that was included was a rather lumpy looking caterpillar which was so basic it really didn't deserve to be written up as a pattern and I can't imagine anyone bothering to make it.