Saturday, 31 August 2013

Gifts for myself

I love receiving post.  Ok, not bills and mundane day to day normal letters, but parcels and packages are always exciting, even if I've bought it for myself.

This week I waited for 2 deliveries.  Firstly, I had treated myself to some new yarn.  Back at Christmas time, I asked for John Lewis vouchers so that I could treat myself to some 'posh wool'.  My friends and family were very generous, and so I bought a huge amount of Rowan's Amy Butler Organic Aran.  In my very limited experience, it is the best yarn I've come across.  A huge variety of modern bright colours, doesn't split and is nice on your fingers and as a finished item.  Ahh, I love it.  But the reason it was in the christmas sales was because it was being discontinued.  Hmmmph!  Well, I've mostly worked my way through my huge Christmas supply and have yet to find something that feels as soft, at a good price with a variety of colours.  I was thinking of hanging on until Yarndale, where I'm hoping there will be many yarn companies for me to chose from, but I gave in.  

Being discontinued, I have had to search hard to find a range of colours, and eventually bought my supply for several different companies.  But how happy I am!  4 different packages brought me my new supply with lots of lovely bright colours and I was inspired straight away.

My favourite colours in the batch; I love love love grey!

My little cupboard is now full up!
The other package I was even more excited about I've had to wait for, for around 4 weeks.  As I may have mentioned (just once or twice ha!) I'm off to Yarndale soon - 4 weeks today in fact.  I want to take my new DSLR camera with me as I'm sure there'll be lots of things to photograph, but the camera bag we have is huge, as it is large enough to carry all the accessories, extra lens and other things.  I didn't want to lug that around with me (it might limit how many new purchases I can carry!) so I found a beautiful handmade case on Etsy,  It was made specifically to suit my camera and lens so took a while to get here, but oh it was worth the wait!

The inside is made of a soft antistatic material

What was  really nice was the kind touches included in the package.  Not only had my camera case been beautifully wrapped to make sure it got to me safely, but the seller had included a postcard of her home town and a little thank you card which was very sweet. 

This weekend, there is plenty of crochet planned.  I am in the middle of making a small gift for a friend and am keen to find some fingering weight yarn so that I can take part in the Fresh Stitches Tiny CAL. I am also making plans for the Sheepish Yarn Bomb which I hope to take part in next weekend.  What are your plans for this weekend?  Will you be crafting in the sunshine?

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Crochet chatter in unlikely places

I'm not a fan of granny squares.  Well, not not a fan, I suppose I don't really get what all the fuss is about.  Yeah they're cute, easy to make (if you don't mind all that joining, oy!) and a good pass the time project, but really granny squares, you need to try a bit harder if you're gonna get my attention.  

That being said, there's no way I could just ignore the cute baby blue and white squares that caught my eye today.  I was bustling through a quiet waiting room at work when I spotted a fellow crocheter hooking away.  Delicate, intricate cotton granny squares had built up in a neat little pile next to her.  I hesitated for a second, wondering if I'd seem like a crazy person if I were to strike up a conversation.  Would I think it was odd if a complete stranger complimented me?  But this was no stranger I told myself; she was a crocheter, a fellow yarn lover, this would be ok...

And it was.  I told her I loved her granny squares; she told me they were going to be a baby blanket of 63 squares but that she hadn't decided on the edging yet.  I spoke about how I crochet in a funny left handed/right handed combo mix, she mentioned she holds the hook unusually too (I'd noticed, but who's judging).  I shared my love of cotton, she admitted she'd never worked with it before.  She recommended Simply Crochet magazine, I suggested Inside Crochet and pretended I hadn't read Simply Crochet (she was so pleased with the find, I couldn't tell her I've bought every issue).  She showed me a picture of her first attempt at amigurumi, I gave her the web address for Ravelry to find more free patterns.  

Ahhh I was buzzing for the rest of the afternoon.  This brief interaction had made me so happy; an injection of crochet love when I least expected it was a welcome break from the mundanity of work, and to have this in depth conversation with someone I don't even know simply because of this one common bond - crochet - was just so nice.  

So I guess this is a warning, today gave me the green light that talking to random crocheters is an acceptable practice so if I see you and your hook out and about, there's a good chance I'llstop and talk to you as well!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

The best laid plans...

Well, isn't it just the way.  It's the last bank holiday of the summer in the UK before people start to use the 'C' word (yep, Christmas people, it's 121 days away, just saying), I've booked an extra day off work for a 5 day weekend bonanza, new yarn is on order, I've got a weekend of crochet stretched out in front of me and on the first day of my holiday I got sick.  I tried to shake off the hot/cold thing I had going on the day before, telling myself I was fine, it had just been a long week, but by Friday, I was hunched up in the bathroom feeling very sorry for myself.

Coop is not one for sympathy (well unless it's directed his way of course) and insisted that I would be fine if I just got back out of bed.  Only two things made him realise I really was poorly; 1) me being sick, 2) declining his offer to bring me some yarn and hooks to my new makeshift bed on the sofa.  Luckily for me, my besty, Fergface responded to my needy call and brought some lemonade, lucozade, rich tea biscuits, digestives and bread to my doorstep so that I had something plain to sooth my stomach after Coop went to work and I could imagine eating something again.  And throughout, my ever faithful Squitchy laid by my feet and didn't even try to ask for a walk.  He's a good boy.

Well today, things are looking a better.  Not 100%, but moving in the right direction, and I am determined that I will have at least 2 days of this holiday doing what I'd planned.  So this afternoon  after Coop headed off to work, I thought my arms might once again be up to a little crochet action.  What better way to take your mind off things than with a bit of crafty goodness.  This is my effort so far:

Can you guess what I'm working on?  I'm hoping it will be finished in the next couple of days depending on how I'm feeling and of course will be posted up on here once it's done.

The other thing that is keeping me chipper is Yarndale.  Did you notice the 'I'm going to Yarndale' badge on the side of my beautiful new blog?  It's a fantastic new yarn festival being held in Skipton, Yorkshire arranged by some fantastic crocheters/bloggers including Lucy from Attic 24.  It runs 28th - 29th September and I cannot tell you how excited I am!  I'm heading 'up North' with my buddy from A Bunch of Buttons and we are spending not one but two nights away for a complete crochet fest of a weekend!  We've got a cute little B&B booked nearby, and I'm going to make sure the car is clean and empty to fit as much yarn and goodies in it as we can possibly afford (and I've been saving up people.  This is going to be epic).  Only 32 days to go and I can't wait.  

Have you managed to squeeze in some crochet over the holiday?  Are you up to anything exciting in between that will take your mind off the long winter nights rolling towards christmas?

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Pom-pom-tastic tutorial!

Pom-poms appear to be making a comeback and I'm right up there in the middle of it.  My Pinterest is full of crafty things to do with pom-poms, but the thing that I instantly knew I had to make was pom-pom flowers.  To give some context, I have a very lovely newish craft room, my christmas present from Coop last year.  The furniture is fantastic, I love my huge glossy red desk, but the room is very white and needs some brightening up.  What better way than different coloured pom-poms in brightly coloured vases?!?!

Here's how I made the flowers:

Step 1: I bought me some Clover pom-pom makers.  Now you can make them just as well using a cardboard ring but I'm a gadget kind of girl, and once I saw these online, I really wanted to get some pom-pom makers so that they are consistently sized, plus I couldn't work out from the photo how they worked and was genuinely quite curious!  There are several sizes available if you are interested and they are widely available online.The pom-pom makers come in two halves, and you simply start by wrapping the yarn around the semi-circle until you can't fit anymore yarn on.  Then you do the other half.

Step 2: Then you cut through the middle of the yarn along the gully, making sure you keep the arms shut so the cut yarn can't escape.  Tie it really tightly with some fine cotton along the gully (I made the rookie mistake of not tying them quite tightly enough and the pom-pom fell apart as soon as I picked it up!)

Then it will look something like this as you take the two halves apart:
But you just need to give it a little scruffle and it will puff right up.

Step 3: with lots of glue, attach the pom-pom to the end of a short garden cane.  This pack of 50 12inch  canes cost around 50p from my local garden centre.  The cane should easily poke through into the centre of the pom-pom.

I can't tell you how pleased I am with the results; these turned out so much better than I anticipated.  I bought these three cute vases from a local home shop as they fit in perfectly with the colourful theme of my room.  And with the multicoloured pom-poms... even better!  I'm so pleased, that I thought it was necessary to take lots of pictures from lots of angles just so you can truly appreciate their awesomeness :)

These three little vases of multi-coloured pom-pom flowers are perfect to sit on top of my white glossy Ikea cupboard where I keep all my crafty supplies.  And I can see them from the doorway too for a little splash of colour on the way to the bathroom.  *sigh* I love it when a little inspiration turns into something so cheery.  Is there anything you've made which gives you a smile whenever you see it? x

Sunday, 18 August 2013

A husky in wolf's clothing

I guess you would have all noticed by now that there are two  three things that make me happy everyday; crochet and Sasuke, aka Squitchy to his friends. (Coop just saw what I’d written so I’ve guiltily upped it to three!)  However the two are a little mutually exclusive, Sas hates it when I pick up my crochet and settle into my favourite round cuddle chair, perfectly positioned by the window for good light in the day, and under the wall lights for nighttime hooky with plenty of room for my Ipad (for patterns and magazines), balls of yarn and bags of stuffing without it even feeling like a squash.  He knows that this means ‘do not disturb’ , and that I won’t give in no matter how many toys he brings or how much he patters his little furry feet for me.   (That being said, if he tilts his head in that way he does... well no one could resist THAT look - doesn’t he just know it too :D).  The second he sees the crochet case come out he slinks off to the kitchen with a suitably huffy sigh.  Crochet, in the same way, is not a massive fan of his exceptionally furry little body either.  No matter where I crochet, how well I store the yarn or how disciplined I am in closing my craft room door (oooh my craft room, I’ll have to give you a tour soon) everything ends up with bits of Squitchy hair in it.  My bestest friends now even just crochet through it rather than trying to  pick it out.  I gave up this never ending task a long ago.  

I’ve wanted to find something that would combine my two loves for a while now, but I couldn’t find a pattern that was cute enough, or realistic enough until I stumbled across this pattern by Adriana Aguirre.  Ok, strictly speaking it’s a pattern for a wolf, but wolves and husky are similar enough for me to snap up this pattern and commence work immediately after waiting to find something good enough for so long.  

I set to work on it using Chunky Special by Stylecraft.  It’s a pretty cheap yarn, around £2 for a 100g skein, and is a little squeaky as you work it along the hook, but it was available from my local yarn shop in the right colours, I’ve used it before so know it’s not splitty (which I absolutely cannot stand!), and  I got to pull out my 5mm hook which I haven’t used for quite some time.  

This is Squitchy's happy face.  He loves his new wolfy friend!

Photobombed again

I am pretty pleased with how he came out.  I particularly like the pointy shape to his head which is exactly how Sas looks.  I modified the tail a little so that it flares out and comes in just like Sas’ tail does more than what was suggested, but apart from that followed the pattern to the letter.  It makes me happy to have finally found and made something that I’ve been hoping to do for so long.  Are there any items that you’ve always wanted to make but haven’t quite found ‘the right one’ yet?

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Changes ahead... exciting stuff!

So, I'm new to this whole blogging thing and a bit of a technophobe when it comes to anything more complex than word documents, presentations and spreadsheets.  That's why the blog looks a bit "simple" (you can read this as rubbish if you like!)

Fear not, I am in the process of redesigning the blog and it should be ready to launch in the next few days!  I'm very excited about having a sleek, clean design that reflects my personality a bit more.  I can't wait!  Check back in soon to see the new layout...x

Update: My new blog is officially released and I am sooooo happy with how it turned out.  It looks a million times better than it used to, and Jessa from CakedDesigns truly was amazing at helping me get set up and sorted and I couldn't be more pleased.  What do you think of the new design?

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Busy busy busy!

Wow, this last couple of weeks have been so busy, I haven’t had a minute to myself.  My very good friend Harry visited last weekend from Essex.  She’s one of my most favouritest people in the whole world.  One of those friends that even though you haven’t seen them for a while, you pick up exactly from when you last spoke and carry on as if it were only last week.  She did however distract me from what I hoped to do, which was write a new post.  That and buying a fancy pants coffee machine (not me, Coop, but it took a whole day of sipping samples to decide, which was actually rather more exhausting than you would imagine).  Now we can have posh frothy coffees at home whenever we like, it’s quite a treat.  

I’ve still found time for a little crochet however (funny how that’s high on the priority list hey?!) Firstly, I’ve tried out my new goodies.  I spent some time trying out tunisian crochet.  I’m kicking myself because I found a fantastic blogger in Australia who has some great starter posts if you’ve never tried tunisian before and it seems that when I was tidying my blog list only the other day, I’ve deleted the link to her site.   I’m so annoyed with myself, partly (and selfishly) for me, I wanted to do some of her other stitches and also as I really wanted to share it with you.  I guess I’m a victim of technology, I have so many bookmarks saved across so many devices that I can’t remember where I’ve saved the things I like.  Ahh well, if it comes back to me I’ll make sure to add it in as the blog is really worth a visit.  Anyway, my tunisian tries were of the basic stitch (yep, it’s not just the blog that’s slipped my mind but the name of the stitch too) and the star stitch.

I really like the dense texture of the tunisian swatch I created.  It has a nice wooly jumper kind of feel to it.  It did curl up a lot though, it would probably take a fair amount of blocking to straighten it out (which is why it’s pinned to a board in my photos!)  The process was a bit faffy to begin with, but I soon got the hang of the long hook.  I had to be quite careful to crochet more loosely than I usually would, to allow the stitches to move along the ‘needle’ of the hook but overall I was very happy with the two stitches.  

I also turned my hand to broomstick lace.  I love love love how this looks; it’s so lacy and delicate.  The technique was a little trickier than for tunisian.  I’m still not sure I’ve worked out a comfortable way to hold the huge broomstick needle but I’m really pleased with how it turned out.  I think the poor technique is probably due to my squiffy style of crochet; I am left-handed but feel more comfortable crocheting with my right.  However, my crochet buddy A Bunch of Buttons always gets into fits of laughter when she watches me, as I have some strange hybrid left/right style where I might be holding the hook in my right hand, but my left is still doing all the work.  Ok it looks kind of funny but if it aint broke etc.  

What I would love some help on is what to do with the lovely broomstick lace.  Do you have an ideas?  I’ve stumbled over only a very limited variety of stitches and it seems to be mostly used for scarves.  Any suggestions would be gratefully received as it’s so pretty I want to do something with it.

I’m hoping to keep in better contact from now on and have a few posts already mulling over in my mind.  So until then...x

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Everything’s coming together...

I’m sorry it’s been a little while since my last post.  Things have been a bit hectic but finally, things are coming together; and there is much to be happy about in the Cooper household.

Firstly, in the typical British way, the weather.  The beautiful, hot, sunny sunny sunny weather we’ve been having.  I was lucky enough to make the long trip to Singapore and Bali a couple of months ago and was so grateful to finally remember what it felt like to have sunshine on my face after the grey, cold weather dragged on and on.  But what a summer we’re having now!  Lots of early morning beach walks with Sas and his Beagle friends, Hugo and Dexter.
This is them on their best behaviour; it doesn't happen very often!

To be honest though, I have hardly had a chance to enjoy the lovely sunshine.  I’ve been locked away indoors, tapping away on my laptop to get my university work finished.   I have been studying for a new degree at the very beautiful local university and for the past couple of months especially it has just consumed my entire life.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to learn.  I love the first scratchy ink marks in a clean, fresh notebook.  I love new stationary, long afternoons amongst the library stacks and sitting in a classroom with people as keen to learn as me.  Coop thinks its really funny to see how excited I get poring over a textbook, frantically taking notes, my head popping up occasionally with a new bit of knowledge to share.  I know he only humors me with a nod or “mmm, that is interesting” but I’ve always been a book worm so he’s used to it by now.  

Finally, the last assignment is over.  It’s been a real slog I won’t lie; the last time I went to university I was a full time student, young and ambitious, whereas now I have a career, a husband, a house, a pup and a life to keep ticking over.  I’ve loved the course, I’ve learnt loads, but I think me and education are done for a while.  I’ve told all of my friends to kick me if I even mention the possibility of another course to them anytime soon.  And the biggest reason that I grew weary of studying?  It ate into my crochet time!  It’s been  torturous to go up to my little craft room and see my multicoloured yarns and hooks waiting for me, but having to tear myself away to sit at the dining room table, staring at a white screen.  Really, it’s made me realise what a huge part of my life crochet has become.

So I celebrated in the best way I knew how.  I treated myself to some crafty treasures!  

Is it a crochet hook, is it a knitting needle?  Perhaps a bit of both

I’ve been itching to try tunisian crochet for a while.  I like how it looks like a combination of crochet and knitting, both in the tools used and the cloth made.  I’m not exactly sure what I am going to use the technique for, but for now I am content spending my first free weekend making a few swatches to test it out.  I’ve found a couple of blogs with some tips for tunisian, and I’ve signed up to a Craftsy class by Jennifer Hanson.  Have you heard of Craftsy classes?  Craftsy offer a whole selection of online classes in needlework, photography, cake decorating and all kinds of other things.  I’ve taken the Fresh Stitches Design Your Own Monster course before, and it was fantastic, so I have high hopes for the new tunisian crochet class.

Broomstick crochet (or broomstick lace) looks so pretty, I just had to get a ‘broomstick’ and give it a go.  I bought mine from PurpleLinda Crafts, but anything cylindrical would suffice.  Although I haven’t quite figured out how to hold everything all at the same time, it’s definitely on my ‘to do’ list this weekend.  

My new and improved cotton collection

Finally, I bought a whole heap of cotton to crochet with.  It’s been a while since I replenished my supplies, so I went to town and bought myself a selection as I have my eye on a cute little toy for a friend who’s baby is due next month.  If course, you’ll be the first to see it once it’s finished!  

So, I feel like I've got a lot to be happy about.  Summers finally here, and I'm free to enjoy it!  And best of all, I can get back to what I love best, my crochet.  Until then... x

© Curly Girl Coop. Powered by