Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday book review

"Yummi 'Gurumi: Over 60 gourmet crochet treats to make" by Christen Haden & Mariarosa Sala
ISBN: 9780740792601

US crochet terms

Last week my copy of this tasty looking book arrived all the way from America and I sat up with it gazing at all the yummy looking treats inside. My favourites to look at were the pretty looking cakes in the last section, that was until I read that they were all made with crochet thread and so would probably take quite a bit of work (as well as a whole stash of crochet thread in a large number of colours) to recreate.

Slightly disappointed I decided to give some of the fruit a try - starting with strawberries. Apart from there being a confusing error in the pattern I was very pleased with how mine turned out and before long I had four juicy looking strawberries so I started on some of the other tropical fruit on offer. I tried to keep to some of the more recognisable fruits as these were destined to be play food for little ones (there were also patterns for a persimmon slice, peach slice and pineapple slice) and after a few issues with a couple of the patterns I ended up with a lovely collection of tasty looking fruit.

Because I wanted my fruits to be easily recognisable I had to alter some of the patterns a little, my orange segments have a white pith and an orange rind - which though a little more of a fuss does mean they look more like orange slices. I also made the white centre in my kiwi slices a little larger and I embroidered far more black seeds in mine to try and make them look more real.

After all this healthy food I decided to give a sandwich a go, and because I loved the look of the tomato slices shown in the book I decided to make up a BLT. Again I found a problem with one of the patterns, the instructions for the lettuce were slightly wrong and were quite hard to figure out how to fix. After reworking it a couple of times I really loved how it looks and think that the design is lovely, but the instructions need rewriting. My bacon got real crochet streaks of fat as I felt that the running stitch shown in the book looked a little naff. And because I ran out of time I didn't make up the slices of bread and just used some of the bread I had made previously that was tucked in my son's play food box.

This book was sadly not as good as I was hoping it would be. There are a number of errors in the patterns that would make it very confusing for a beginner to use - which is such a shame as more pattern testing would have highlighted all of these. The patterns all look lovely, though because this focuses more on adult food tastes like sushi and a fun looking cheese board, there is little that I would end up actually making. I just don't know anyone who could use a crochet bottle of wine or a crochet stir fry.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Loving hearts

After trying diligently to get through some of my more tricky UFOs I've succumbed to doing some fun crochet as I'm rubbish at working through projects when the going starts to get tough.

What tempted me away was a free pattern by June Gilbank called 'Love Hearts' which gives you detailed instructions for how to make these very cute hearts.

On the left are the three different sizes worked in crochet thread - they are so tiny and very cute... I used them on my husband's date-a-versary card and they look so good I may have a go at doing some more in thread.

Seeing as the thread hearts only took an hour to hook up I thought I would try making some with my DK wool, and this time I went with making the puffy hearts. They look so cute and squishy with a little stuffing in and I got pretty carried away with using up scraps of DK wool that after a couple of evenings of crochet I found I had made this pretty garland!

This is a lovely quick and easy pattern and makes some really lovely heart motifs. What would you use them for?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

More cards to show

My lovely card making course is now drawing to a close so I thought this would be a good time to show you a selection of the different cards that I've made.

From the top left in a clockwise direction we have:

1. Sunflower card - made using an embossing machine (a Cuttlebug)

2. Spirelli card - winding thread round pre-cut card

3. Cat card - stamp embossing

4. Thank you card - done with the Iris folding technique

5. Recycled paper card - made with paper punches

6. Black & white card - embossed and then lightly inked to show the image

7. Paper pricking card - hand paper pricked and spirelli added to the centre

8. Candle card - candles embossed on to card and cut out


9. Tulip card - made with a sticky outline which is then painted with watered down inks and mounted

I've really enjoyed doing some paper craft for a change, it's so nice to do something different from crochet and sewing occasionally and I'll definitely be giving some of the techniques another go in any future cards I make. The other half of the course is about how to run your own small business which is giving me lots of grand ideas - perhaps 2011 will be the year I give that a go?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Christmas goodies

Before we get too far into 2011 I wanted to share with you some of the beautiful craft related goodness that I was given for Christmas.

I'm really lucky to have some very talented craft people in my family, my sister (check out her beautiful blog here) who has only be crocheting for 4 years seems to be a pro already - check out this beautiful tea cosy with matching mat that she made me for Christmas. It is so beautiful that when I first got it I couldn't stop admiring it. So I've gone from no tea cosy to having 2, what a great start to the year!

Next up we got this fantastic door stop from my sister in law who is always coming up with cool sewing and crochet projects. I love the fabric she has used (I really should have included a back shot of him too as you can see more of the design... oh well) and with the addition of buttons to his felt eyes he has lots of personallity. I'm really going to have to make 2011 the year of the sewing machine so that I get a bit more confidence and perhaps even do a few fun projects like this.

My little boy has taken quite a shine to him and keeps removing him from the kitchen door (which Mr. Owl is responsible for keeping open) and taking him for rides on his wheely bug. In fact he is sitting on the computer desk with me right now as he has had his morning ride and has been brought over to me to keep me company.

Next up I was given this cool Christmas tree bunting from a local crafty friend of mine (she has an Etsy shop called Bunting and beads - but it seems to be sold out at the moment). I can't wait to get it on the tree next year and I'll try to remember to take a photo of it for you all to see in it's full glory then.

Lastly I was given another whole year subscription to Inside Crochet as well as this box which is choc full of fantastic card making supplies all from my very generous Mum in law :-) I just love the pretty snowflake stamps she's included and there are even some tea cup card decorations that suit me so well!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday magazine reviews

Just thought I would put up a couple of magazine reviews this Friday as I've been getting a bit behind with doing them and they aren't much use if you get them 3 or 4 months late!

"Inside Crochet" issue 13
January 2011
UK crochet terms

This issue of Inside Crochet starts the New Year on the right foot with a good collection of patterns including the beautiful 'Esmee cardigan' by Sarah Francis which I am definitely making for myself one day. There are also patterns for some cute kids stripy jumpers, a very pretty 'Lily shawl' and a lovely 'Henna rug' which would look so pretty on our wooden floor.

As well as having plenty of good patterns this month there are also some great articles covering topics like customising your clothes, doing freeform crochet (which has intrigued me for a while and I may well have a try myself soon...), and some interviews with a couple of London based ethical craft shops which look fantastic (Fabrications and  Prick your finger).

"Inside Crochet" issue 14
February 2011
UK crochet terms

I really enjoyed reading through this issue of Inside Crochet too. There are some lovely patterns in here with my favourite being the 'Bloom blanket' by Rebecca Velasquez which looks so very bright and cheerful that it would be perfect for bringing Spring into your home nice and early. I also really like the 'Valentine settings' place mats, the pretty bobbily 'Artichoke hat' and the cosy looking 'Cherry wrap', so lots to keep you busy this month.

The articles also make a good read with a feature about filet crochet, some impressive fashion crochet pieces and a fantastic interview with Emma Lamb who makes some very beautiful crochet banners, cushions and pot holders that are bursting with colour.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Finishing off - continued

So far I seem to be doing quite well with my resolution to finish off some of my long forgotten projects. I've finally gotten round to putting the last touches on my patchwork - all that was needed was a lining adding and then it was done.

Did any of you manage to guess what it is?

Top marks for anyone out there shouting "it's a tea cosy!" go and make yourself a cuppa right now as a reward for your good sense.

For a girl who loves her tea as much as I do it seems crazy that I've never had one of these, so when we were given the option to try making one at my local mum's craft group I jumped at the chance. Now I just need to invite some friends round for tea and cake and show it off to the world.

I've also finished off some more squares for the SIBOL project which got sent out a few days ago. Sue who runs the project has already written a blog post about them (she is so very organised!) which you can find here. So much granny square goodness over there, even though I've just finished up a pile of squares it gets me itching to make a few more.

So now I'm off to sort through some more of my neglected projects, but perhaps I'll have a cup of tea first to get me in the mood...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The crochet gang

Over the last 4 years I've been on a real crochet mission. Though I've been doing crocheting for roughly 18 years it's only been in the last 4 that it has taken over my life and with all the inspiration that there is to be found online I have always had tons of projects on my to do list.

My enthusiasm for crochet seems to increase by the day, and with all that enthusiasm flowing over I always seem to be telling friends, family, complete strangers, just how great crochet is. I've managed to 'turn' a good few of my family over to crochet as well as a few of my friends. Both my sisters now crochet - one has only just started and the other has been doing it for a few years now and can't stop. In fact she enjoys it so much she has also started writing her own blog: Mummycat gets organised which is a fantastic read - be sure to pop over if you have a minute as I know she would love to see you there.

Hopefully I'll be able to spread the crochet word even further soon as I should be doing some informal crochet teaching at my regular mum's craft group - any suggestions for teaching a group of beginners to crochet would be very well received!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Finishing off

Seeing as we are only just starting the beginning of 2011 I feel like I should be finishing up some of the unfinished projects that I've got on the go at the moment. There seem to be quite a few of them though - and I've so many lovely new projects that I want to get started on that it is very hard to concentrate.

I've still not finished my patchwork that I started all the way back in September, though I have progressed it a little and now it looks like the photo on the left. Hopefully I'll get it done soon - any guesses as to what it is going to be?

Then I've got a pile of craft books (the top three in fact were presents for my Birthday back in July!) which need reading through, crafting from and then doing reviews for.

I'm especially excited about the "Gifts from the Kitchen" book which is full of lovely tasty things that you can make and send as gifts. I love the idea of giving out baked treats as presents so hopefully I'll be organised enough to make a few things for some of my friends this year.

So far all I have on my finished list for 2011 are the two hyperbolic crochet pieces that I started back in October. I will soon be sending them off to the new exhibition of the UK reef in Salisbury  - a little bit too late for the opening but they'll still be added thankfully.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Year - new challenges

Happy New Year everyone!

Sorry for not posting over the last week, after all the work of Christmas I took a little time away from blogging and crafting to give me a chance to do something different for a short time, like spending far too many hours on my DS playing the latest Dragon Quest game. I'm back now though and I have lots of things to start posting about so be reassured that I won't have any problems in doing my regular blog posts again.

What new challenges are you all setting yourself this year? Right now I want to hold off making any proper resolutions as this is going to be a busy year for our family, we have a house move to start planning and all the work that will involve should keep us pretty occupied. That said, I would like to be able to contribute a bit more to other projects this year - especially the SIBOL project that takes 6" granny squares to make into lap blankets for the elderly.

These two squares are tests squares I made up from a block pattern that was being discussed as a potential blanket theme. I'm also going to try and make more blocks for their 'Jan Eaton' challenge, I've already contributed my first block to the first Jan Eaton blanket (you can see the finished blanket here - and I've put a note on the image to say which square I made) and I'm working on a second block to go into the second blanket now.

The SIBOL is a fantastic project to be a part of - why not make doing one square for it as one of your New Year resolutions?