Thursday, February 25, 2010

Friday book review

"The Wonderful Weekend Book: Reclaiming life's simple pleasures" by Elspeth Thompson
ISBN: 978-1848540460

Because I really loved the book "Homemade" (by Elspeth Thompson & Ros Badger) I just had to get my hands on this book as well in the hopes that I would find another similar gem. However this book is very different to "Homemade", there are no gorgeous photos to gaze at and no 'project' ideas to get you thinking creatively. Instead it is a book that is jam packed with all sorts of ideas for doing something new so that you hopefully end up with a more enjoyable weekend.

There are simply heaps of suggestions in this book, some of which I've come across before but a lot that I would probably never have thought of. The chapters are helpfully sorted into things you can do year round, things to do in each season, having guests, cutting down on chores and making the most of Sundays. My advice for making the most of this book I would be to read it with a notebook next to you so you can jot down anything you want to look into in further detail later (I didn't do this so now I'm going to have to re-read the book soon). You may also want to skip to the chapter for the season you are currently in so that you don't miss out on doing anything that you will then have to wait another year to have a go at.

I found this book to be great for having next to the bed and reading a short section each night as otherwise I found myself getting a little drowned in too much information. There are hundreds of links to go with all the different ideas mentioned so there is plenty of opportunity for finding out more about anything that takes your fancy. This is a great book that I can see myself constantly refering to over the years as I'm always short on ideas for what to do at the weekend. However if you aren't a UK resident then this book won't be nearly as helpful as it does refer heavily to UK places and seasons.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Garment success!

To treat myself after all the Christmas crafting madness I thought I would make something for myself and I felt it was time to challenge my crochet skills by having a go at making my first crochet garment.

The pattern is called "Lucienne" (for fellow Ravelry users you can find the details here) designed by Annette Petavy and published in issue 3 of Inside Crochet. The design was surprisingly simple with the bodice part being worked in the front loop only to give a nice stretchy fabric and the bottom part flaring out slightly so that it flatters those of us with a bit of a tummy. My top has a higher neckline than shown in the original design as it was a little too low for me, but as doing the adjustment worked out quite well it has given me a bit of confidence to perhaps try adjusting my next project.

This lovely top took me only a month of slightly frantic crocheting and I really do love how it fits so well and feels so snug. Now back to making things for other people, but perhaps I'll get a chance to have a bit more crochet self-indulgence some time soon.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday magazine reviews

As I'm running a little behind in reviews at the moment I thought I would treat you to the last two issues of my favourite crochet magazine - enjoy!

"Inside Crochet" issue 5
December/January 2009/10
UK crochet terms

My first flick through this issue was a bit of a disappointment as there were no patterns this time that jumped out at me and demanded to be made. There are a couple of interesting tops that use some unusual crochet effects - but as they didn't appeal to me I skipped quickly past them. The strange (similar to one worn by Cheryl Cole when performing "Fight for this Love") red Waterloo jacket was also not my style. That with some other unappealing miscellaneous crochet bits n bobs it was all a bit disappointing.

There was however a cute little pattern for some white mice which is a real improvement on some of the previous issues attempts at crochet toy patterns. This one pattern and the interview for the latest Nicki Trench book (Super-cute crochet creations) were the best bits in a sadly lacking issue.

"Inside Crochet" issue 6
February/March 2010
UK crochet terms

For some reason I enjoyed reading through this latest issue much more than the previous one. The articles within it this time were all good and covered a range of topics that appealed to me. There was a great piece on using up your yarn stash with some really good ideas for small projects that were suited to odds and ends of yarn that most crocheters of any length of time will have plenty of. I also enjoyed the article about recycled yarn, which had all kinds of ideas of different materials you could have a try crocheting with.

The patterns seemed to be much better this week, I really loved the lion and bear kids hats by Jane Bibby, the pretty swing coat for a little girl by Tina Barrett and the lovely floating wrap by Robyn Chachula. There is also much more about Amigurumi in this week with an indepth look at designing your own as well as a rather strange pattern for 'Walter the walrus' which didn't appeal to me but is a hopeful sign that there will be further amigurumi patterns in up coming issues.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The crochet is strong in this one...

I'm one very proud mum. My gorgeous boy has already mastered some of the more advanced crochet techniques - at only 15 months old!

You can see him here at his most relaxed with some chunky yarn and one of my new funky coloured crochet hooks which he is chewing while contemplating what he wants to make. See that glint in his eye? Yup that's the excited glint we all get at the start of a project when the possibilities are endless.

My husband though had ideas for that yarn himself and was very specific about what he wanted - a nice snug pouch for his new laptop was the order of the day. So this little boy was ordered to get to work and after a day of working those tiny fingers hard he had produced a very attractive pouch which also featured a space invader on the front.

The buttons and button loops were then sewn on by me as Sam is still a little small to be dealing with sharp needles and hey presto - the pouch is finished.

A good few of my husband's work colleagues have admired this geek-tastic pouch but to no avail as Sam has decided that he needs a little break before taking on his next crochet challenge - but I for one can't wait to see what that might be!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday book review

Sorry for the delay in posting loyal readers - the technical issues experienced have now been fixed (after much tinkering with the old broken PC we now have a shiny new one) so soon I shall be posting about all my latest crafty work. Until then I have another book review for you all to enjoy!

"Complete guide to Knitting & Crochet" by Nicki Trench
ISBN: 978-1405486101
UK crochet terms

This unusual book came as a late surprise Christmas present (I love late presents!) a couple of days ago and I've quite enjoyed having a good read through it.

It's unusual because it reads more like a magazine than a book, the pages are very thin and the printing isn't of the best quality. The book is also more of a basic beginner guide to knitting and crochet and is in no way the complete reference that you might assume from the title.

The layout of the book is also unusual - it is divided into two separate books really with the first half being all about knitting and the second being all about crochet. Because of this it repeats some of the content about different wool types and different embellishments. There are also no projects that use both knitting and crochet which is a real shame and would have been a nice way to perhaps bring the book together a little better.

There is a nice 'history of' type section for both knitting and crochet which makes interesting reading though in both of these the author claims that the current popularity of both knitting and crochet is down to the new "super chunky yarns" that are available - not too sure where she heard that from... The 'how to' sections seem pretty basic when you see other better written guides, the illustrative photos are quite small and the accompanying written instructions are not very clear. The stitches covered are only the very basics with some reference to more advanced techniques.

There are some fun looking projects in here, all of which are aimed at the beginner but still manage to be interesting. While I would never knit at dog coat or my own bikini (yes - another pattern for a yarn bikini - why do so many books bother with them?) I may well have a go at the pretty crochet bolero or the sweet little ballet style slippers. The simple knitting patterns also look tempting to me - I may have to dust off my knitting needles and see if I can still knit to try a few of them out.

This isn't a book that I would recommend anyone to buy, though it is worth a look through if you can borrow a copy. It is not a great guide to either knitting or crochet and the book could have done with a really good editor to improve the writing, cut out a lot of the strange quizzes and illustrations as well as change the order around so that it doesn't read as if it is two separate books. That said I do like this book and even though it comes across as slightly amateurish that is part of it's charm.

After a quick look at Ravelry & Amazon it seems as if this book used to be two separate books "The Cool Girl's guide to Crochet" ISBN: 978-1405473194, and "The Cool Girl's guide to Knitting" 978-1405452328, at least all the patterns are the same, so be careful not to buy it twice!