Thursday 24 May 2012

The Sharp Crochet Hook and a Rubbish Cake!

I was lucky enough to be sent a sharp crochet hook to try out by Jessica from The Sharp Crochet Hook. That was some time ago now, I procrastinated for ages about what I was going to do with it. Ideas were rampaging through my head. In the end I decided to just get on with it and give it a test drive.

What I was expecting was a hook with a sharp bit on the poking in end so that you can get on with crocheting straight away and not have to either run a blanket stitch along the edge or make holes with a bradawl (have I just made up that word or merely spelt it wrong?). A sharp ended hook is exactly what I got and it certainly did do the job it promised.

Here I have speared the fabric and literally double crocheted all the way along making a foundation for more decorative stitches. I found the hook tended to drag a few of the fibres of the cloth through with it which puckered up the fabric. This was remedied my going much slower and pushing the crochet hook further through to make the hole larger. I read other reviews (here and here) and this wasn't mentioned. They used different weight/type fabric so maybe that was why. Lynne and I found we encountered similar issues and we used similar type of fabric. See her review here.

With this one I followed a tutorial I found on Pinterest. I wouldn't recommend using the sharp crochet hook for this actual border pattern as the hook wasn't very smooth to do the treble clusters with. By this time I had got used to poking it through the fabric and very carefully drawing the thread back through without  snagging fibres of the fabric, but I couldn't pick up a decent rhythm with the clusters as the sharp bit of the hook kept catching. I should have stuck with one of the free patterns that comes with the hook which recommend you use the sharp hook to crochet a foundation chain on the fabric and then switch to a regular hook. I didn't finish my experimental piece of crochet as the part of the hook where you would normally have the size of the hook embossed has been filed away and it was a bit rough, it made my fingers a little sore, but I am rather pathetic, a less wussy lass probably wouldn't even notice!

I think this hook is great, it serves a purpose, fills a gap in the market and I think every keen crocheter should have one. However I think there are some manufacturing considerations to address. The sharp end of the hook needs to be smoother as does the grip area. Also the pointy bit of the 'beak' of the hook needs to be thicker and totally smooth so that it doesn't drag at the fabric as you pull the thread back through.  

On my last post I mentioned it had been my Mum's birthday. That reminded me that I took photo's of the most rubbish cake I have ever made. It did taste nice thankfully but I wanted it to look gorgeous. At least the Bunting I won from Sew Sweet Violet made up for the fact that it was a terribly pants looking cake.

Ha ha haaaaa! Look at that crap icing. It was dripping through the holes of the cake stand.

We had ourselves a mini tea party. 

Sorry Mum, I couldn't talk about your birthday and not show a pic of the birthday girl herself! Mum hates having her photo taken.


Monday 21 May 2012

Knitting my little cashmerino socks off!

It's another Ta Dah!!!! Can you believe it? I have two sets of wrist warmers waiting in the wings for their photo's to be taken. And I have a crochet blanket that wants to say hello (not finished yet). Anyway, back to the Ta Dahhhhhhh.

I'll start at the beginning. A long time ago I saw Rachel knitting socks and thought to myself, "When I can knit, I will make socks". They looked like total alchemy to me and I didn't really think I'd master it. But at that point I hadn't met Suzie. When I discovered Suzie held Sock Making Workshops I signed up in a jiffy. Not least because it meant I could spend a whole day surrounded by all her beautiful yarns.

On the 5th of February I trotted off with my Belle Mere to learn the Art of the Sock. My Mum was supposed to come along but they'd had snow then rain and then well below freezing temperatures and so she couldn't get her car out and didn't fancy the hour journey to get to me. Rightly so. Luckily for me Mr C's parents were visiting so Granny took my Mum's place. I took my Mum along to see Suzie and buy wool at a later date instead.

Look at the frost on the roof of the car! It was beautiful but it took a
while to clear the windows and my door was stuck!

When we arrived Suzie was wearing her Victorian night gown over a pair of jeans which I was relieved about as I'd said to My Belle Mere, Granny, that she would be and I didn't want to look like a fibber.

I felt bad that we were fifteen minutes late as it was emphasised on the booking info that because a lot of techniques have to be covered we would need to start on time. However one lady arrived over an hour late! She refused to do a shortened version of a sock so that she could learn the skills, she went wrong and needed Suzie to rectify her mistakes every half an hour and when she left she said she didn't feel she could knit a sock. The cheek! She said it like it was Suzie's fault when the rest of us felt very confident about knitting socks and we have all done so since the workshop with no problems at all. Well, apart from Granny but that's because she likes a glass of wine! (Ha, I know you're reading this, Granny!) Suzie is so sweet she said she would go and meet this lady after work to help her if she got stuck and that she would travel to her. What? No! I've told Suzie she mustn't. The lady was LATE. She didn't do a short sock. She was a child hater too and visibly rolled her eye's when we spoke of our children....and not only that, you will not believe this, she told us about her pet cat which she loves with all her heart, a cat that isn't hers to love since she STOLE IT!!!! Oh Em Geeeee! 

Mrs D who has a blog and made a scrummy lunch for us all

That's Granny knitting her sock and Elaine from knit club in the back ground

That's my truncated sock, I've knitted the heel flap and am turning the heel in this photograph. It was like magic. A heel appears from no where! Seriously clever. Honestly sock knitting is so amazing and yet it's not hard to do at all. I was shocked by that. Knowing a few basics is all you need to be able to knit socks.

Granny kept thinking she had gone wrong but she hadn't, Suzie sat over her to give encouragement but I think she sat there because Granny smelt so nice. Jo Malone grapefruit.

It was such a lovely day. I really enjoyed myself. It was a big disappointment that my Mum couldn't come as I know she would have had a lovely time. She would also have been brave enough to give That Lady what for. My Mum used to work in a prison teaching prisoners. Since that's clearly where the cat thief will end up, I think my Mum would have spoken to her in the most perfect manner, the rest of us just bristled and gave each other supportive looks.

When we left, Suzie packed us up with left over cakes and bunches of daffs which she had bought the night before as they were 12p a bunch and she felt sorry for them. Whoever heard of leaving a workshop laden with cake and flowers? Honestly, The Wool Sanctuary is an excellent place and well worth a visit. It's not just knitting either. Those of you who follow Suziebeans on Instagram will see she has fallen into an addiction for crochet. (This post isn't a sponsored post, promise, though it does sound like it!)

When I got home I immediately took my half knitted mini sock off the needles and popped it onto stitch keepers and I started my real sock while it was all still fresh in my head. Amazingly I didn't need to refer to my mini sock. I should have had more faith in Suzie's instructions.


Ta Dahhhhhhhh!

Why didn't I ruffle these up a bit? The look so daft pulled up like that.

Mastering four needles was a bit tricky for me and you can see above that I hadn't got the placement of the needles right so there's a visible 'ladder' also my colour changes aren't very neat.

Does it really matter that these socks aren't perfection when I am so proud of them and so in love with them. They feel like fairy duvets to wear.

I'm most pleased with the heart which I added by adapting another of Suzie's patterns. My intarsia leaves a lot to be desired but where's the fun if there's no room for improvement?

My first sock was pretty good really and after several attempts at kitchenering (I feel quite big headed even knowing what that is let alone being able to do it) I managed to finish my sock off with an almost perfect toe. Ummmmmm, the second sock wasn't quite as good. I got impatient and lazy (and it was half term so the boys and I were at Granny's and she doesn't like to drink alone, so I joined her).

So there we go. Socks. An ambition fulfilled. I do think it is good to have small achievable ambitions as well as the biggies.

I'm all topsy turvy with my blog posts, I'm way behind and but I'm not keen on doing things out of order so I'll have to just ploddle along and hope you will all ploddle with me.

By the way, I had a comment on my last post, a really sweet comment from Anonymous, that she saw me shopping with Kmmms in Liberty. I've been spotted! It's like blog fame! So, Dear Anonymous, if ever you see me again, please holler "Coo Wee Cuckoo!" and that way I'll stop my argybargy over excited jostling to get at the haberdashery. No seriously, I'd have loved to have met you. To have had the opportunity to say "Thank you for reading my waffle and making my blogging experience as wonderful as it is."

 I'd blog anyway, with out having readers, but it's so nice to not be talking to myself. It's been a surprise and a delight that I have made true and lasting friends through blogging too.

Right, I must go, I have been quite ill for a few days and I'm so tired. I'm laying in my bed with so little energy but feeling like I Must Achieve Something. I have no phone signal nor phone wifi at the moment but luckily the laptop does so I have just popped the finishing touches to this post which I wrote at the beginning of last week. Hurrah for lap tops for I have Achieved Something! (But lets gloss over the fact that I'm behind with all other blogs, commenting......etc.....) Also I hear a baby, pre toddler really, stirring so I must get up up and get the dizzy spell over with before trying to get him out of his cot.


Sunday 6 May 2012

The best day of the year! My birthday ☀

Yes! It's my birthday. I'm 36 and very happy about it too. It is great to be here. I appreciate being here so much having lost two very special people when they were just 20 and 25. I don't want to be maudlin though, I just wanted to emphasise that I am so happy to be seeing my birthday come round each year.

Today I had a lie in, breakfast in bed, a huge swag of wonderful gifts, plenty of messages of well wishes and a pile of cards.

I have just flung a leg of lamb in the Aga and after another cuppa in bed I will get dressed in a new frock (if it fits) that was a gift from Mr C and then I'll bake some bits and bats for Sunday Birthday Tea. Ooooh lovely!

Yesterday I saw My Girls (minus one. Boo) and on Friday I saw Bee. So I will have plenty to record here over the next few posts.

Have a great day one and all, so nice to have you along for the ride, this life is a good one, it's lovely to be able to share it and write it all down here.