A Beginners’ Crochet Notebook…

A Beginners’ Crochet Notebook… click here for the tutorial

I receive many, many emails from folk needing help with their crochet; not only from frustrated beginners, but also from those who have been crocheting for a while asking, what for some are, fairly basic questions… But there is no such thing as a silly, stupid or ‘I should know this’ type of query, even after many years of crocheting there are always new things to learn.

 

And so, I’ve put together this Beginners’ Crochet Notebook to help those of you who want to start crocheting but don’t know where to begin. And, even though I’ve written this notebook mainly with the novice in mind, that doesn’t mean the more experience crocheter won’t find a few helpful tips as well.

~What hooks to use with which yarn. 

~Which yarns are: animal, plant or synthetic. 

~How to read patterns. 

~What those scary, abbreviations & symbols mean…&  lots more.

 

I’ve done my best to gathered together answers to the most frequent questions I receive, but of course, it’s impossible to have an answer for everything. There is so much more information I could have included in this Notebook; so much more the reader might find useful; but it’s such a fine line between cramming in too much & overwhelming you.

Nevertheless, I trust this tutorial is a comprehensive journey through the crochet basics for the beginner & others, & that it encourages you to venture forth with a little more confidence & understanding of this wonderful craft.

3 Crochet Ponchos & a Circular vest – using up large amounts of left-over yarn…

yarn left oversI simply love yarn; the rush you get when you find a new one. How colour and/or texture floods the mind & inspirations just flows in.

As a rule, when I’m in the process of purchasing yarn, in the back of my mind I’m always afraid that I won’t have enough for a single project, either a project in mind or a potential one that hasn’t been thought of yet. And so, inevitably I, more often than not, purchase far more than I eventually use &, as most yarnies will agree, yarn stashes can grow at an alarming rate.

To gain some semblance of control, quick & easy projects can, to some extent, if not completely, reduce that overwhelming feeling of becoming a yarn hoarder…

These 4 projects are a great examples for using up those larger amounts of yarn sitting idle for far too long.

For the ponchos I used variations of my own pattern which can be found here

dscf2060For the hooded poncho I knotted together (leaving the knots as a feature) a combination of complimentary, natural & acrylic, green & brown yarns & using a large hook (UK:10mm / US: N), crocheted in trebles (US: dc) & worked in stripes, adding extra rows around the neck-line to produce the cowl / hood.

Check out the Hooded Poncho on Etsy

 

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The yarn for the red, purple & black poncho is a 12 ply acrylic that I never found again, but luckily I had just enough. Again, I used a largish hook (UK: 8mm / US: L) & crocheted in trebles (US: dc)

Check out the Red,Purple & black poncho on Etsy 

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The pink / purple poncho in made up of a beautiful 30% wool / 70% acrylic 8 ply yarn that, if your lucky, can still be purchased but I’ve never found it in this colour combo again… I used hook size (UK: 6mm / US: H) & also crocheted in trebles (US: dc)

Check out the pink & purple poncho on Etsy

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I didn’t have a pattern for the Circular vest. Working in trebles (US: dc) & a hook size (UK: 4.5 mm / US: G), I began in the centre as you would for any circle & spiralled around & around, always marking the first stitch of each round & increasing as you would for a circle. I used my mannequin to determine arm-holes & basically freestyled it to the end. This is a gorgeous 8 ply, 60% super wash wool / 40% polyamide, yarn & a delight to work with.         Check out the circular Vest on Etsy

So, to end this long post, I’d just like to say… don’t be daunted by your growing yarn stash… find patterns & projects that use limited amounts of yarn. Take a chance & use combinations of different yarns, knot them together or just join in new yarn as one runs out. Try out different size hooks… it’s fun, it’s creative, you’re never quite sure how it will turn out but, best of all, it’s a mighty, practical way of losing that hoarder reputation…

Loving those Rainbow Yarns…

rainbow yarnThose of you who are familiar with my work will know how much I love working with colour; experimenting with unusual colour palettes, taking risks with different combinations & always testing the boundaries of what’s considered the norm in regard to ‘what goes with what.’ All those old sayings like, ‘blue & green should never seen’ ‘contrasts must never sit side by side’ are just that, old sayings, & I take little notice of them… hence I’m always on the lookout for yarns that incorporate unusual & interesting colour combinations.

Recently there’s been a trend for gorgeous variegated yarns with striking & long colour changes, of which Noro & Mini Mochi, to name a couple, being particular favourites of mine. So, imagine my delight when I found ‘California’ by Cleackheaton  (100% wool) at my local yarn store… I purchased some balls right away but must admit, after initially making some headbands & a beanie a while back, a couple of which sold quickly, I allowed them to sit idle in my stash for some time until I remembered I still had some left over somewhere.

I had in mind to make a bag… & perhaps I was feeling a little lazy that day… Aussie summers have a habit of doing that… but instead of going through my stash looking for colour combos, I asked myself if working with just the ‘California’ would work & decided to give it a  try … the colours are rich & bright just like our Aussie summers… Oh, but the black is extra… here’s the result & there was enough to make another headband… not bad for working with just one yarn type eh?…

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‘Fern’ & ‘Bouvardia’ by Moda Vera (both wool, acrylic blends) are also great finds but I still need to think about those & what I’d like to do with them.

That’s a mighty giant crochet hook, but what to do with it?

giant hook2I’ve had this giant, wooden crochet hook for the longest time, I may have found it in an OP shop or perhaps someone gave it to me… I simply can’t remember… in any case, it’s been sitting idle in my hook collection for many years with no idea what size it could be (though compared to a 6.50 mm (US K), it’s mighty big), or what it could be used for…

I’m presuming that some clever person hand-carved it & lovingly sanded it down to feel as smooth as silk… nevertheless, I’ve always found it awkward to work with &, after a few of feeble attempts, just abandoned it…giant hook1

That is, until a couple of months ago when I wanted to crochet some really woolly, chunky scarves, you know the kind that you can wrap around & around yourself, thick & lush to keep out the frostiest cold winds… &, suddenly, that mighty giant hook might just be the ticket… I started with 2 strands of yarn… No, not chunky enough… 3 strands, then 4 but finally settled on 5 strands of what I hope are complimentary colours. It wasn’t nearly as awkward as I remembered & the scarves worked up really fast. I think I got a bit carried away too, hence their length… the yellow/brown one being approx 272 cm (107”) & the green one approx 317.50 cm (125”).

So that’s a couple of scarves… I’m sure there are many more items that could be created with this mighty hook… I just haven’t thought of any yet… Any ideas? Or perhaps you have your own giant hook story… we’d all love to hear them…

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Silk & Seacell – A beautiful yarn.

Some time ago I came across this gorgeous Hand Maiden Sea Silk yarn… 70% silk – 30% Seacell – I’d never heard of yarn being made from seaweed before… intrigued & excited I had to purchase some & when my parcel arrived I wasn’t disappointed.

This yarn is so lovely that all I want to do is hold & touch. It has the most glorious sheen & was sheer pleasure to work.

So what is Seacell? This website will help explain it &, this is what Hand Maiden says & I quote “So we’ve got this new yarn for spring that I’m pretty excited about. It’s called Sea Silk, made from 70% silk, 30% seacell. I knew that the seacell is made from seaweed and that the yarn has a particularly seductive feel. (So much so that I’ve been taken to walking around my studio stroking it like a slippery mink). But when I looked into the actual process of turning the seaweed into the fibre, my brain did a bit of a back flip. This yarn has vitamins!? There is even a version with silver in it. Silver! Wow. Apparently it makes the fibre antibacterial. Silver yarn…. oh – I wonder how I would dye that…..”

Long story short…I made this gorgeous scarf using one the patterns from my, soon to be released, new book ‘Textured Crochet Lace.’

Now, the question is… do I keep it for myself or list it in my Etsy Shop… hmmmm… I’m yet to decide…