campervan, crochet, doorstop, vwI have a little teaser for you – get ready for the weekend. For all those crochet fans who have loved and wanted my most popular pattern.

{ 0 comments }

barcelonablanket3

Finding inspiration for your crochet projects is easier than it seems. Why not use your holiday travels to spot colour combinations you might never have thought about. On our recent weekend trip to Barcelona I found inspiration amongst the fabulous mosaics of Parc Guell.

barcelonablanket2

I had a very specific commission in mind. My boy, my baby boy; Little B is growing up. He now stands next to me, eying me up – seeing how far it is, how long it will be before his gorgeous auburn head over takes mine. Not long I think, a year, maybe eighteen months. Since before he was born I have made him blankets. A knitted red heart blanket, a rather dreadful odds and end blanket for outdoor play and his most beloved ugly blanket. Recently he has diplomatically alerted to me that all of his blankets are: ‘how can I say it? Rather small…’ He has a point.

parcguell7

parcguell6

The time has come to create a blanket for a ‘big boy’. The size of a single bed. I asked him what colours he would prefer and without missing a beat he said blue. Well it was fortunate that we were visiting the utterly glorious Barcelona that weekend. To my shame I have never visited before, but oh, what a city. There is to much to see, so much inspiration around every corner, however you cannot be surprised to learn that we adored Parc Guell, the utterly beautiful Gaudi park creation.

parcguell5 parcguell4 parcguell3 parcguell2 parcguell1

The shapes of the architecture, the intricacies of the mosaic and the overall planting have been an inspiration to many. It seemed obvious to use the striking mosaic as a theme for Little B’s new blanket. So simple – so striking.

I have found using our holiday and high-days a brilliant discipline to stimulate new creativity. I am glad that we were able to visit this amazing city as a family. Hopefully B will treasure this blanket and even as a tall teenager remember this hot city adventure and the wonderful architecture he saw for the first time in the summer of 2016.

Where in the world have you been inspired by colour? Is there one colour that you associate with a special place? If so why not leave me a comment below. I would love to hear from you.

{ 4 comments }

Blencathra1

Have you ever glamped? – You know glamourous camping. No me neither. I have camped – as a family we are quite partial of a fair-weather camping trip. No, that is not correct. I insist that it must be nice weather for camping – my boys on the other hand are not fussed about the weather at all. I have also camped in a ‘hard-core’ sort of way, but do require some kind of award at the end of it. It should include words like ‘Duke of Edinburgh’ within the title.

Both of my boys, big and small like to be outdoors and not including camping in our holiday options is beginning to seem a bit cruel. I found an excellent compromise and made the suggestion of glamping. We didn’t want to go far and were happy to visit our beloved Lake District.

Blencathra2

We had a wonderful few days sleeping in our very own cosy shepherd’s hut. (I was living the Country Living dream). We had a beautiful kitchen/living area, which had the most amazing wood-burning fire. The bathroom also had a wood-burner for cosiness and worryingly the shower had better pressure than we enjoy at home. it was such a magical outdoor time. We were off-line, off-gadgets and on-adventure, on-reading. Bliss.

Of course one of the advantages of crochet is that you can make your own warmth as you work. I have been given a pack of beautiful Stylecraft Special Aran to test-drive. I chose some utterly romantic shades which chime beautifully with the subtle outdoor colours of the Lake District. The greens reminiscent of the hills and trees that surrounded our camp. Dusty blues remind me of our dear shepherd’s hut and a blush pink the tone of foxgloves and campion which decorate the hedgerow.

Blencathra3

I started my blanket using a favourite ‘V’ stitch design and I will be writing up this simple pattern for Stylecraft fans as part of a blogtour. Back at home the funniest thing is that the colours not only remind me of our glamping trip, but the pervading smell of evening woodsmoke wafts its way up to my nose. A delight for the senses and the memory; visual, tactile and fragrant. The perfect souvenir.

{ 5 comments }

zingfestivalshawl1

I am a lover of colour – bright joyful colour. I would love to be sophisticated about my colour choice, but my skin tone, my tastes, perhaps even my upbringing means that I am a primary tone girl. There are some colours I am constantly attracted to, pink, red, blue. Others like green, orange, purple I find more difficult to work with. But you know recently I have been challenged and inspired by the bright and cheerful tones of younger crochet designers. I love the joie de vivre of crocheters Frank and Olive and the pure sense of fun of Potter and Bloom. They are doing something fresh and innovative with our craft and I find the colour combinations inspiring.

zingfestivalshawl

Having set myself a mini-challenge of crocheting projects which were inspired by the colour of our holiday, I purposefully took some zingy colours with me to Mallorca. Being in sunnier climbs makes sense of brighter and clearer colours – turquoise and pink seem ‘just right’ in the sun. I wanted to make a fourth and final shawl for a good friend. She too is a woman of colour, she brings a party wherever she goes. She is bright, serious, hilarious, insightful and just too talented. I wanted to make her a shawl that reflected the zing she brings to the lives of the many people she knows.

When I finished the shawl, I knew that this garment needed an extra bit of zing-swing. So I added three colourful tassels, all trimmed with a contrasting wrap. I was giddy with how much I loved this gift. This shawl was designed to bring a smile, to be worn with the confidence of youth and put a little swing into the step. A-ring-a-ding-zing!

{ 1 comment }

pinkbunny

During our Mallorca holiday I was still very much in a shawl and toy making groove. I packed my first grey Lyme Bay shawl to wear in the early mornings and took a pink shawl I was mid-way plus some additional balls of yarn to potentially start and third.

mallorca16.8

I have to admit that a benefit of getting a bit older is that I don’t need as much sleep. How I love to wake before the rest of the family, sneak downstairs, make a cup of strong coffee and sit happily in the waking sun with my crochet and my thoughts. Blissful holiday times.

mallorca16.10

I am glad I chose to bring these soft pinks with me on holiday. They seemed to chime beautifully with the warm tones of the Mallorcan stone. The pink shawl used an aran weight yarn and is deeply snuggly. The chunkier texture required a plainer edging and I fell back upon my favourite shell for a pretty finish.

mallorca16.9

Once that project was finished I moved on to making a new little bunny toy. Still inspired by blush pink and cream I began making a new little version of the all-in-one pink bunny toy. Now I may take an unusually large amount of craft gear with me on holiday but I still manage to refrain from packing polyester stuffing. Once all the limbs were made, I had a floppy forlorn pelt which had to wait until we returned home before I could add the finishing touches. So there your are a pink cosy shawl and Little Cecily Bunny – rather pretty in pink.

{ 1 comment }

mallorca16.3As crochet is a relaxing hobby for me, then it is logical that I want to enjoy many crochet hours during our family holidays. In the next few weeks I want to share with you a range of projects that I have planned and completed in my downtime. If you have a favourite go-to vacation project then please do leave a comment and I might add it to my endless list of things I must make.

I take my holiday packing quite seriously. I like to prep well in advance. I like to pack the suitcase in a freakishly efficient manner, (that is the inner curator within me, with memories of packing objects in the stores). I have come to the conclusion far too late in life that holiday clothes are much easier if you base all your outfits around one main colour. All of this attention to detail has one purpose, finding more suitcase space for yarn. This year I took a huge bundle of yarn on holiday and it still was not enough.

Mallorca16.1

When I don’t have a commission to complete, I aim to reflect the colours and the vibe of where we are going on holiday. Our main family holiday has been a return trip to the beautiful island of Mallorca. I wanted to make something light and easy to make on the beach so I packed a ball of Manos Del Uruguay, Marina from Rooster Yarns. This shade is Denim, isn’t this the most beautiful colour? It was perfect for sitting on the sand, watching my boys in the sea and happily relaxing in the shade. I started making a number of swatches to see how this lace weight would work.

mallorca16.5mallorca16.4

One evening I was sat under a metallic sunshade above the patio, and thought – ‘Wow that pattern is just like the granny square grid I am crocheting!’. The great part of being away from home is that the colours, the light and the inspiration is very different to the things you in your normal life. The extremes of the sun in Mallorca make the contrast of light and shade so dramatic. A change really is as good as a rest when new inspiration is needed. If you are looking for a beautiful lace weight yarn and indeed a compact holiday yarn companion I would certainly suggest looking  at the Manos Del Uruguay range.

mallorca16.6mallorca16.7

Tomorrow I tell you about the next holiday project that came off the hook.

 

 

{ 0 comments }

cca1

I am just a little bit excited to reveal the front cover of my new book – Cute Crocheted Animals. I have been working on this project since last summer, and it is wonderful to share with you the result of my secret hooking. In the next few weeks I’ll post more images from the book to give you a taster.

cca2

 

{ 1 comment }

hooks8Following my last blog post on hooks ‘Notes to a Novice Knotter’, I thought it might be a good idea to do a quick peruse of available hooks. My friends at LoveCrochet provided me with a selection hooks to trial.

hooks2

You might have guessed my go-to hook is the Clover Soft Touch hook. It is a distinctive gold colour and has a plastic handle with a small soft indent section for my thumb. The hook and metal shaft has a smooth matt covering which really helps with speed and accuracy. The tapering of the shaft and the depth of the hook makes all the difference and now this make suits my style. However, I like to think I am open minded and always want to test ride new hooks on the market.

hooks5

Next up is the Addi Bamboo hook. Now when I knit I always like to use a bamboo knitting needles as they don’t agitate my hands. This bamboo hook is smooth and very high quality and it you would prefer to use wood or bamboo I would suggest this make.

hooks4

Next up, the fabulous looking Addi Swing Ergonomic Crochet Hook. The handle has been specially designed to fit your palm. Actually the handle felt a bit heavy for the way I hold the hook, which is the knife hold. However if you hold your hook like a pen then I think this hook would be be ideal. You can choose the colours you would want for the handle and I think if you are beginning to get hand or wrist pain from your crochet it would be worth giving this hook a whirl.

hooks3

Finally, if I was ever going to be disloyal to my golden hook it might be with the Clover Amour Aluminium Crochet Hook. The thumb indent is in the same place, but the soft rubber covers the whole handle. I am used to the feel of a flat handle in my palm, so this feel slightly different. The real issue that I think you need to assess is whether the yarn slides effortlessly off the hook. With all the these hooks, the action is far more sophisticated and indeed faster than a basic metal hook, it is just a point of preference.

hooks6

You can have a look at the selection available via the links, but thanks to LoveCrochet I have a set of four hooks to give away. Please leave a comment about your favourite hook below and I will randomly choose a winner on Friday 1st July – Hooks Away!

{ 19 comments }

hooksYou are eying me suspiciously. You have glanced across at my hands at least twice and now I know you are musing, ‘Shall I ask?’

I know what your are thinking. You are wondering, ‘Why is my crochet hook different to Emma’s?’ You have spotted it. You have spotted that I am using a superior instrument. Sorry, well no not sorry at all. You see, my new crochet friend, this is not just a crochet hook, this is my crochet hook and indeed no matter how generous and patient I might seem, you will not touch this hook, oh no – much like every Kung Fu or fantasy film, I am not sure you really appreciate the pure perfection of this hook, you are not ready for it’s superior action.

I have given you one of my many reserve hooks. It is probably a red 4mm metal hook. It is a fine and serviceable item. I will probably allow you to walk off with this hook and take it home with the yarn I have donated to you to start your crochet journey.

Looking at this hook you might feel a tad disappointed. Granted it is not boring or grey and is a jaunty colour. Perhaps you were hoping for a more organic experience. You had dreams of flying along crochet rows with a beautifully carved bamboo or ebony hook. If we had gone down this road, it might well have impeded your progress. Because unless you have a high quality wooden hook you will get much more frustrated by the yarn sticking or even that you cant get the tip of your hook through the stitches. This level of stop/starting can become so frustrating you might feel prompted to give up all together.

Looking at my hook you will see it has a handle. More than that it has a soft little section which allows my thumb to indent into the handle. When I have not slowed down my hands for demonstration purposes you will see how this hook appears to be an extension of my fingers. The gold tip flips backwards and forwards with the yarn and gradually something crocheted appears from nowhere.

The speed from your hook will come with time. But you know what, all hooks are not equal. All ‘professional’ crocheters have their favourite hook type. Don’t get hung up on that. It is a bit like musicians or an athletes. A certain set of strings, a certain plectrum will suit one guitarist and not others, it is down to the way they play. You know that some football or tennis players wear a one type of shoes as opposed to another, they just get used to the way those shoes feel and they become an extension of their own feet.

My choice of hook suits the way I hold the handle. Not only that, I like how the top of the hook is pointed. It is not blunt and is easy to poke through the yarn for the next stitch. The depth of the actual hook suits me. Just deep enough to hold the yarn but just shallow enough to ensure each stitch I make is smooth and happens quickly. You’ll see that there is a slightly indented section to the shaft which makes the wool move from one stitch to the next and even this metal section is covered with matt coating so there are never any snags or stuttering in my stitches. Sorry is this too much information?

I am weighing up in my mind that if I actually donated to a specialized ergonomic hook right at the start, your crochet journey would actually be much faster. It is not as if I am buying a Stradivarius violin – we are talking about the difference of about £2.00. My favourite hook is not even the most expensive on the market, currently it is sold at about £3.75. But then if you went straight to the ‘professional’ hook I would be denying you a ‘moment’ – your ‘moment’ of decision. Like any good relationship – you need to make a decision to commit, to say ‘I choose you crochet – you will be my new craft – we will spend quality time together – we will spend evenings and weekends in each others company’.

I think I should not deny you that moment. It is your right of passage. When you know the moment go online or pop into your local yarn store and buy your first ‘professional’ hook and feel the difference. In the mean time stop eying up my crochet hooks, the very thought of your walking off with one is making my eye twitch – mitts off baby – get your own!

‘Notes to a Novice Knotter’ is a series of short essays about beginning to crochet – they are intended to be a bit of fun and not crochet law – feel free to get involved in the conversation via the comments.

{ 3 comments }

bobcecilyandmatilde

cecily1

bobandthegirlsSometimes an idea just gets stuck in your head and you keep making. I love it when I have specific little people in mind when I am making toys.

{ 0 comments }