Ravelry Admin

I’ve finally got around to adding a my motif patterns published in Simply Crochet to Ravelry. It’s taken a lovely message from deHaakBaak to push me into doing it.

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 12.49.46She’s hooked up a plethora of my Cool Clematis motifs from  Issue 7 of Simply Crochet and made a stunning shawl which you can see here. It’s lovely to see other people’s versions of your designs and Ravelry is such a great way of getting designs out there and seeing the end results.

So I’m planning to keep on top of things now – I have a couple of patterns coming out in the next issue (18) and I’m hoping to get more designs out there soon.

Testing hooks

I’ve always favoured the most basic of crochet hooks, you know the sort, straight metal ones with a little grip detailing the size of the hook. Most of mine are by Pony and for years and years I’ve got on with these like a house on fire. Until about 6 months ago, that is, when I got a very painful case of RSI in my wrist and had to put down my hooks completely for a while, I also had to stop almost all other things I do with my left hand, cleaning, stirring dinner on the hob, you name it, it hurt like mad.

I reckon a couple of months went by before the pain turned to more of an ache and it became more sporadic, only bothering me when I did something repetitive for a long time. So cooking and cleaning were back on the menu but crocheting was still causing me some issues. First of all I started working in shorter bursts, it meant I watched parts of films instead of crocheting all the way through and I saw views from the car window instead of only the yarn in my lap. I had hoped the problem might go away but another couple of months passed and I thought I’d better start looking for a way round the pain so I started experimenting with different hooks.

I doubt I’m unique, but rather than move the yarn round the hook as I’ve seen a lot of people do, I tend to keep the yarn very still and twirl the hook to pick up the yarn, this is one of the reasons why I love the Pony hooks, they’re perfectly cylindrical and the aluminium finish means they spin nicely in your palm. I also tend towards tighter tension than some and probably hold the hook a little too tightly, all of which I’m sure is contributing to the aches and pains. It has meant that my quest for the perfect hook has been a challenge, newer, ergonomic designs like the Addi Swing hooks are out of the question for me as they assume you move the yarn and not the hook. So I thought I’d give an old Clover Soft Touch hook go, I’d been given it as a gift and never used it as it doesn’t lend itself well to being turned in your hand. I actually got on with it surprisingly well and the elliptical shape worked out ok due to the smooth plastic finish. I couldn’t help noticing, however, how short these hooks are, a whole 2cm shorter than my beloved 15cm Pony hooks which meant it didn’t quite rest in my hand as I like but more poked a hole in my palm after a while.

DSCF9401From left to right: Clover Amour; Prym Soft; Pony with a Susan Bates Comfort Cushion; Clover Soft Touch

Then I chanced upon the discovery of Prym soft hooks on Janie Crow’s site and thought these would be the answer to my prayers, longer than the Clover Soft Touch at almost 14cm, and with a soft cylindrical grip, what more could I ask for? The euphoria subsided quickly as I found the shape of the head to be too bulbous, lacking in any definitive point it made for hard work. It’s not that I want it to be pointed but I found it didn’t naturally find it’s way through stitches and the result was a notable tightening in tension in the summer top I’m making and as I said earlier, my tension is already snug. So I ripped back the rows and put the hook to one side and set out to buy another Clover Soft Touch to continue my top.

A trip to my LYS who’d run out of Clover Soft Touch left me a bit lost, keen to work on a new scarf pattern for Simply Crochet while I was away this last week, I really wanted a new hook. Chatting to a member of staff, she suggested I try the Clover Amour, at double the price of the Soft Touch I was reluctant, but she passed me one to try and I was persuaded. It turns out this hook is my friend, 14cm, the same head style as the soft touch and with an almost triangular soft grip, it doesn’t spin quite like the aluminium hooks but it seems to be giving my wrists a rest and the soft rubbery handle doesn’t allow me to grip too hard. I will gradually be collecting the set I think.

So back from my trip I forgot all about the Amazon purchase I made a couple of weeks ago, clutching at straws I had tried out holding a hook inside a bendy hair roller, I’d removed the metal insert which gives it hold and replaced it with my hook, the idea had legs but the rollers were too fat and so with the power of the internet I found these Susan Bates Comfort Cushions.

DSCF9398

As far as I could tell these aren’t easy to get hold of in the UK so I purchased some from Amazon and they’ve taken a while to arrive. There are 2 sizes available and as I do most of my crochet on smaller hooks I went for the smaller size which fits up to a 4mm hook. They don’t go on easily, not onto a 4mm hook at least, a little liquid soap is recommended on the packaging but I’m not sure it’ll come off willingly now its in place. So far this feels like another good option for me, squidgier than all the other grips it means I can use my existing longer hooks but while the foam feels robust I’m not convinced it won’t degrade with use – only time will tell.

A busy week of crochet

So the latest issue of Simply Crochet landed at my door yesterday and like most months I flicked to the back pages to see how my motif is looking. This one is really special, I’m so pleased with how the design came out. It looks a lot more complicated than it is and I love how the coral flower shape jumps out at you. I think I might make it into a sweet blanket for a little girl as the cotton is so soft and pretty.

DSCF8589Also in this month’s issue is my Gypsy Shawl design with a big black filet crochet rose in the centre. This is made from beautiful Drops Baby Alpaca Silk which at around £3 a ball is a steal for such luxury. It’s wonderful to crochet with and the end result has superb drape.

DSCF8588This year I’ve set myself the task of stash busting and I’m trying really hard not to buy yarn without a project in mind. I’m forcing myself to finish some WIPs and now I’m well on the way to a complete hexagon lap blanket which has been over a year in the making. I took the granny hexagon design from Issue 5 of Simply Crochet from back when I started helping out with tech editing, and then got bored sometime last year. It’s now become my go-to project for when I have a few minutes to spare on journeys and the like. It’s going with me everywhere at the moment in a desperate quest to finish it. It might end up on the chair in our bedroom as it compliments the duvet cover so well but this wasn’t the original intention.

DSCF8579I’ve also finished another quick hat pattern, the Women’s Peaked Cap pattern by Patons, available here. Lot’s of people on Ravelry seemed to find it came out a little too small but I hooked it using Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend and a 5mm hook and the size is perfect. I make a hat for my friend Laura every birthday so this will be this year’s done and dusted several months ahead of time. The muted tones will look fabulous with her fiery red hair.

DSCF8584I’m juggling lots of crochet projects at the moment (and not a lot else it seems) in a bid to reduce my stash, occasionally I embark on a bit if knitting but it too often seems to fall by the wayside. I’m working on a vest pattern for summer and about to start a giant granny square blanket inspired by my friend Faye’s version in Erika Knight Vintage Wool. I’ll make in in Katia  Sherpa, of which I have lots that I bought a few years ago when living in Spain and it is oh so snuggly. Using the same Katia yarn I’m making a cute bear as this stuff is so smooth, it’s perfect for amigurumi. There are some other ideas in the pipeline too but this week has been all about crochet.

A recycling project

So my dear darling husband was in charge of the washing, and whilst I didn’t warn him and most of the things we wash go in happily at 40 degrees, he’s still getting the blame. My cosy red cardigan made of delicious warm Shetland wool, which I’ve had since my uni days when my housemate discarded it in my direction, is now nicely felted. It’s not shrunk a great deal, but it has a zip, which means it’s puckered and is totally unwearable.

DSCF8420It’s been in a pile of items which I intend to do something with someday, so today was that day, at least for this cardigan. Anyone living in the UK will know that winter isn’t over yet, despite today being a gorgeous sunny day it’s still pretty chilly outside… and any yarn fan will know you can’t have too many hats, scarves and gloves. Lots of people are making mittens from the body of sweaters but as the cardigan hasn’t shrunk too much and the pockets and zip would cause me issues I decided to go with the sleeves. This also means there is lots of cardigan left to make something else with – I have my eye on the cord but I’m not sure what for yet.

DSCF8422So first I thought about mittens, but I’m constantly pulling them off to use my fingers so I decided on fingerless mitts. I used a seam ripper from my sewing kit to make thumb holes in the existing seams and ta-dah!

DSCF8452Bland… in need of embellishment and I had the perfect thing – DMC Petra (Size 3), 100% cotton thread in a matching red. I did a blanket stitch edge round the raw edges and crocheted on wavy edging. Then I discovered a couple of little black hearts designed by Planet June that I made a few years back and that have been looking for a home. I had one of the medium hearts and one large one so I appliqued these onto the the mitts. Pleased with the final result. As I said you can never have too many woolly accessories.DSCF8481

Got to start somewhere…

Ok, so I’m making some tiny tentative steps into the world of blogging, I’m not sure if it’s for me but I’ve got to give it a try to know. I’m an avid crochet fan, dabbler in many crafts including polymer clay and a keen DIYer. I freelance technical edit for a crochet magazine and design a few bits and bobs here and there. I love cooking and destoying our house with my husband in my free time. Please bear with me as I find my way around this new and interesting blogging world.