HiyaHiya Crochet Hooks – Review

The lovely team from HiyaHiya Europe recently got in touch with me and asked if I would like to review some of their hooks – I’d seen them popping up on various websites but hadn’t actually tried them myself so this sounded perfect!

I regularly use all size hooks so they kindly sent me a 1.5mm, a 5mm and a 12mm – and I was immediately drawn to the 12mm – it’s sparkly! And purple! Truly gorgeous to look at, and as it turns out, really nice to work with. It’s acrylic so it’s lightweight, really smooth to use and glides easily through your work. I tested it out on some t-shirt yarn and whipped up this little hook pot, and I can honestly say it was a delight to work with – and did I mention it’s sparkly!😉✨💜

Next up I thought I’d give the 1.5mm a go….a bit daunting as it’s so teeny, but using 2 strands of embroidery thread I worked up this tiny granny square! I thought it would be quite tricky but the hook was really smooth to use. This would be perfect for adding a delicate lacy edge to a project like a tea towel or child’s clothing. (That’s a 10p coin there for scale)


Last but not least I gave the aluminium 5mm hook a go. Because it’s aluminium it’s very lightweight – I used it with some denim tape which isn’t always easy to work with but the hook made it simple (and now I want to make a whole bunch of these little denim stars!)


I should point out that I’ve not been paid to advertise these – HiyaHiya just sent me some hooks and asked for an honest review which I’m always happy to give. These hooks were really nice to work with and I’ll definitely consider them should I need more hooks in future – and the sparkly one would make a brilliant stocking filler (yes I’m already starting to think about Christmas!🙈🎄)

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African Flower Blanket 🌸

I love crocheting African Flowers – they’re such a pretty design, and I’ve made a whole host of Heidi Bears designs using them – they’re also quick and easy to make in batches. 

My latest blanket is destined for a new baby girl, and they wanted something in pale grey, pink and white – we added in a pale yellow too as I find this design works best with four colours.

I used Paintbox Yarns Simply Aran yarn in Stormy Grey (4 balls), Blush Pink, Banana Cream, and Paper White (1.5 balls of each).

As the blanket is 6×6 squares I made them in batches of 6 at a time, with each group having a different colour combo in the middle/petals. By doing them in batches I managed to get this whole blanket completed in 2 weeks – a good job too as the baby has arrived!


If you’re looking for a good pattern to square off your African Flowers I can recommend this Made in K-Town blog post.

I didn’t get time to measure it before it was collected but it came out roughly 1 metre square and was lovely and cosy due to the Aran thickness.


For the joining I used a flat slip stitch join which have a nice neat finish. I went down a hook size to do the border (I used 5mm for the squares and then a 4.5mm for the border) which was made up of a row of double crochet (sc if you’re using US terms) but making htr’s (hdc) into the point where the squares join. I then followed this with a round of htr in the back loops only, of white, then yellow, then pink.

Anyway here’s hoping it is very loved in its new home, and keeps baby V all warm and snuggly….

‘Colourful Crochet’ Blog Tour

Welcome to the Colourful Crochet blog tour!

Last month the lovely Marianne (aka @marretjroos on Instagram and the lady behind the maRRose blog) asked me if I’d possibly like to review her brand new book – how could I refuse?!


Marianne’s new book ‘Colourful Crochet’ is an absolute delight. It has more than 20 new crochet projects, ranging from lovely cushions for the home, snuggly baby blankets and also fun items of clothing. Unlike some other books, these are all projects I would actually make and have in my home – there’s no ‘filler’ projects in there making up page numbers.

As the title suggests the projects are bright, colourful and cheery, interspersed with photos of the super smiley Marianne modelling her creations – it can’t fail but a bring a smile to your face!

The project that particularly caught my eye was Marianne’s ‘Inez’ Hexagon Blanket. Her colour choices are superb (you can see it on the front cover of her book) but what I really like is that she’s used a join-as-you-go puff stitch to join the hexagons together.  I’ve used join-as-you-go before but never with puff stitch and I think the effect it gives is brilliant. I’ve given it a go with a palette of purples but this pattern is so versatile it could be used with any colours and any size yarn.


The pattern instructions in the book are very clear and concise, and are all marked with a skill level of Easy/Intermediate/Challenging, so there really is something for everyone.


Some other favourites from the book (which have been added to my extremely long list of projects I want to make) are the chunky circular Boho cushion, the beautifully textured cobblestone blanket, and the stunning geometric triangle blanket.

Colourful Crochet is now available to buy on Amazon here – but Marianne has given me an extra copy to give away to one of you lovely lot! So to be in with a chance of winning pop over to my Instagram page to enter!

Wishing you all a colourful week!

Xxx

A pastel Sunburst blanket for my new baby niece!

Making blankets for babies is probably my favourite thing to crochet – in fact it was the first thing I ever crocheted, a giant granny square blanket for my future baby before I was even pregnant! There’s just something lovely about making a blanket to keep them warm and cosy after their arrival into the world, and I love giving them as presents to friends and family.  So when I found out I was going to be an Aunty again I think one of the first questions I had for my sister was ‘Have you got a colour scheme in mind? What kind of blanket would you like?’


Soft pastels of cream, yellow, pink and blue were decided on, and I had been itching to make a blanket in Scheepjes Stonewashed yarn so this was the perfect opportunity! The yarn is 70% cotton, 30% acrylic – it’s lovely and soft whilst also being durable and perfect for babies.  I opted for the XL weight (Aran I believe) – thicker yarn equals larger squares and that means you don’t have to make quite as many 😉 The colours I chose were Moonstone for the main background colour, then Citrine (yellow), Rose Quartz (pink) and Amazonite (blue). The stonewashed effect of this yarn is lovely and gives it a soft, almost vintage look.  I used a 5mm hook and the quantities I used were:

Moonstone: 11 balls

Citrine, Rose Quarts and Amazonite: 2 balls of each


The three colours meant as I was using 2 colours per Sunburst (the inner circle and adjacent round) that I could make six colour combinations e.g. Pink middle with yellow, yellow middle with blue, blue middle with pink etc. I then made 8 of each of these colourways giving me 48 squares, making a blanket 6×8 squares.


I also tried out my new blocking board for the first time with great success- it just makes them a bit more pointed and gives a slightly neater finish.


To join them I used SC (or DC in U.K. terms) with the right sides together, it gives a nearly invisible join on the front, with a ridge on the back which I quite like. I joined them all in strips horizontally and then vertically as well.  I wanted a fairly simple border, so first of all I did a round of SC in Moonstone, and where the squares met I made a hdc instead as I find there’s sometimes a bit of a dip and this bring it into line for a nice straight edge. I followed this with a hdc round in Rose Quartz before adding a shell border in yellow.



The measurements of my finished product blanket were 75cm x 98cm (including the border) with each square being approx 11 x 11cm.


And I couldn’t resist making a little toy to go with it…unicorn pattern by Kornflake Stew, made in Stylecraft Special DK, with Debbie Bliss Odin for the hair!✨🦄


I hope you like them little Kovah Willow, love Aunty Holly xxx

Christmas Crochet Wishlist 2016

Christmas is fast approaching – I can’t wait, it’s my favourite time of year and so much fun now with the children, and it’ll be Milo’s first Christmas so even more reason to celebrate!

I get asked a lot by friends and family for Christmas present ideas, most don’t have a clue about crochet. So I thought I’d do a blog post with some crochet christmas present ideas that might interest people, not just my friends and family but maybe yours too (send them the link!)  I did a similar post a couple of years ago and it was really popular so I thought I’d do an update for 2016. I want to point out none of this is sponsored at all – it’s my own genuine opinion on some great crafty gift ideas.

Let’s start with the basics….you can’t beat some good crochet hooks.  My personal favourites are the Clover Amour ones (I’d be lost without my trusty purple 4mm!).  They cost about £6 each and would be perfect popped into a stocking or as a set.

 

Another crochet staple is yarn….where do I begin! There are some great yarn colour packs or CAL (crochet along) kits available on sites such as Wool Warehouse, Love Crochet, Deramores etc.  These are great as they contain all the yarn and usually a pattern to make a project like a blanket.  Alternatively, and this is my current guilty pleasure….hand dyed yarn! This comes in skeins and is so beautiful and unique. It’s usually produced on a small scale by individuals, some of my current favourites are by Kate Selene and Norah George Yarns – check out this gorgeous example below! (Yarn and photo by Kate Selene)

   

Another idea is a subscription box.  There’s haberdashery ones out there, and sock yarn subscription boxes, but my absolute favourite (and which I have subscribed to for the past year) is Little Box of Crochet.  There is a different project each month created by a guest designer and in your pretty box you get everything you need to make it – yarn, hook, stitch marker and usually some little extras.  Here’s a pic of November’s box, a perfectly autumnal wreath designed by Just Pootling. One-off boxes are available in their shop or why not get a subscription and have a box of loveliness pop through your door each month!IMG_5221.JPG

If there’s a particular aspect of crochet you want to learn, if you want to brush up on your skills or if you’re a total beginner, crochet workshops make great presents.  I’ve both been gifted and also run crochet workshops and there’s usually someone nearby that runs them.  I can’t not mention my fabulous friend Jane at Tea & Crafting in London for any of you living in the capital (they run a whole variety of craft classes) and I’m currently putting some together in Sherborne at The Slipped Stitch for any of you who might live down here in Dorset. But wherever you live, ask at your local yarn shop or look out for knit & natter groups – many of whom crochet as well as knit, there’s plenty of people running lessons out there.  Not crochet related but there’s a fantastic local quilting course I’ve been dropping big hints about to my hubby 😉

Crochet books are another great idea – it’s worth checking if there’s a particular one your recipient is after but here are a few of my well-loved favourites as well as some I’m putting on my Christmas list (I’ve linked to Amazon for ease but obviously they are available elsewhere too)

Crochet classics:

Around the Corner – Crochet Borders (by Edie Eckman)

200 Crochet Blocks for Blankets, Throws and Afghans (by Jan Eaton)

For Amigurumi fans:

Edwards Menagerie

Edwards Menagerie Birds

Let’s Go Camping (by Kate Bruning)

Zoomigurumi

New this year:

Star Wars Crochet Pack

Corner to Corner Lap Throws (by Repeat Crafter Me)

Crochetterie: Cool Contemporary Crochet for the Creatively-Minded (by Molla Mills)

Alternatively how about a crochet magazine subscription- I currently subscribe to Simply Crochet which has a good range of projects and interesting articles with designers I admire and I love it arriving each month and sitting down with a cup of tea to read it.

Lastly how about a new crochet tool….there’s not as many crochet gadgets around as I’d like but here a few tools which are useful.

A yarn swift or winder – for any skeins you buy which need to be wound into cakes first, this little gadget is quick and easy to use.

 

Some people prefer the more traditional swift design:

 

Another handy item for your craft corner is a blocking board.  These seem to have become a lot more popular this year with various independent makers out there producing them.  These beautiful wooden boards come with pre-measured holes drilled into them, enabling you to block your crochet squares to the right size and make them perfectly uniform.  DaisyBoo are a popular supplier (from what I see on Instagram), and I’ve recently ordered one for myself from an independent maker on Facebook – R Hills Wood Turner, which I’m very excited about and I can’t wait for it to arrive (mainly because I have a WIP that’s been in a project bag for a year which desperately needs blocking!)

 

Another great item is a yarn bowl.  I have a lovely one made in Cherry wood, and there are gorgeous ceramic ones out there as well.  The idea being that you put your yarn into it while you’re working and it feeds out through the hole in the side, without rolling around all over the floor while you work.  Again Etsy is a great place to shop, and one shop I can’t help swoon over is Earth Wool Fire – each bowl is a true work of art – just look at this one below! (pic by Earth Wool Fire)

 

 And finally, I couldn’t not suggest some stocking fillers…

As well as hooks, another pocket size addition could be some cute stitch markers.  Instagram favourites Korutumi Crochet and Pedros Plaques make adorable ones (and also really unique polymer clay handled hooks)

 

And how about some pompom makers! I love the Clover ones but there’s loads of brands out there and they are really affordable, cute and useful item to have (no more cutting out cardboard circles like we did at school!).

 

I hope this has given you a few ideas – I’ll be sending the link to my hubby (just in case he hasn’t noticed those huge hints).  What would you add to the list? What’s on your crochet wish list this year – I’d love to hear!

Happy shopping!

Holly x

Last Dance on the Beach Crochet-along

I’ve seen some beautiful Crochet-along’s in the last few years but when I saw the first photos of the CAL by Scheepjes in memory of Marinke (A Creative Being) I knew I had to join in.  This isn’t the first one I’ve done (let’s not mention the Lilypond blanket I STILL haven’t finished from last year) – I think its the camaraderie and collective experience which make these special – it’s fascinating to see how different people approach the same project, especially those that have come up with their own colour ways.

The talented group of Marinke’s friends who designed the patterns put together three fabulous colour options – I was instantly drawn to the Dance in the Sea pack, a vibrant mix of green and blues, very me! But after pausing to consider it, I opted for the Dance in the Rain kit – the more neutral palette of greys, blues and browns suits our home colour scheme and there’s only so many blankets in my usual colour choices that I can have lying around the house. NThe Dance under the Stars kit was very bright and colourful and fun, and I’ve seen some gorgeous finished blankets on the Facebook group but I have to say I am definitely more in love with the cooler colours of the spectrum as opposed to the oranges and reds (maybe its because I don’t wear these colours as they clash with my red hair!)

Anyway I am so glad I ordered my kit early, this CAL proved amazingly popular and kits sold out all over the place!  I used the Colour Crafter kit which was lovely and squishy, but the merino looked gorgeous and I definitely want to work with it in the future (maybe when I don’t have small children with grubby hands! ).  The pace of this project was perfect – 4 (of the same pattern) squares each week, for 12 weeks, followed by a week for joining and a week for the border.  Producing 4 squares a week made it possible to work on other projects at the same time – I always have a multitude of projects on the go at any one time otherwise I tend to lose interest.  And thankfully that didn’t happen with this blanket! The textures and variety of patterns kept it interesting and exciting, and I couldn’t wait for the pattern release each Wednesday. So here are some pics of the squares – I ended up swapping the rib stitch square for Tinca’s square which was an alternative from the Facebook group and very pretty.

  

I chose to single crochet my squares together rather than use the flat slip stitch join…I loved the texture of the blanket and wanted a bit more of a defined divide between the squares, but I went with the border recommended – a lovely, simple linen stitch solid border – totally perfect to finish off this blanket!


And so the big reveal!….I totally love this blanket and I’m so pleased I kept up with the CAL, this is definitely a blanket to treasure. A big thank you to all the designers who were involved in this project. xx

Crochet Watermelon Cushion – pattern

IMG_3003

Watermelons seem to be everywhere this summer, and my lovely friend Jane from Tea & Crafting is watermelon-mad! Since last summer I know she’s been intending to make some watermelon bunting, but with two small children and her own business she (understandably) hasn’t had the time! So when a special birthday for her was coming up this year I couldn’t resist crocheting her something watermelon-related.

Here’s a really simple crochet pattern I’ve written down in case you want to make your own watermelon cushion.

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Materials:

Round 16″ cushion insert

King Cole Big Value Chunky – 1x ball each of Bright Pink, Moss and Green

6mm hook

Black toggle buttons (I used 19mm buttons)\

Black embroidery thread (to sew on buttons)

Green buttons (if you want an opening for your cushion insert so it’s removable – this is optional)

Needle for sewing in ends

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Pattern: (US terms)

Front of watermelon:

[This is worked in rounds, not a continuous spiral, so we slip stitch join at the end of each round to where we began the round]

  • Round 1: Using your pink yarn, ch3 (counts as a stitch) and then HDC into the 3rd chain from your hook.  Do this 6 more times (into the same chain) which will give you 8 stitches in total. Join with a slip stitch to the chain at the start of the round (Do this at the end of each round).
  • Round 2: Ch2, HDC into same stitch.  2HDC into each stitch, and join with a slip stitch to the 2ch at the start. (16 stitches)
  • Round 3: Ch2 (counts as HDC), HDC in same stitch. 1 HDC in next stitch, *2HDC, 1 HDC* until end (24 stitches)
  • Round 4: Ch2, HDC in next stitch, 2HDC in next stitch, *HDC in the next 2 stitches, 2xHDC in the next stitch* until end (32 stitches)
  • Round 5: Ch2, HDC in same stitch, HDC in next 3 stitches, *2xHDC, HDC in next 3 stitches* until end (40 stitches)
  • Round 6: Ch2 (counts as a HDC), HDC in next 3 stitches, 2HDC, *HDC in next 4 stitches, 2HDC* until end (48 stitches)
  • Round 7: Ch2, HDC in same stitch, HDC in next 5 stitches, *2HDC, HDC in next 5 stitches* until end (56 stitches)
  • Round 8: Ch2, HDC in next 2 stitches, *2HDC, HDC in next 6 stitches*, (until last 4 stitches) 2HDC, HDC in last 3 stitches (64 stitches)
  • Round 9: Ch2, HDC in same stitch, HDC in next 7 stitches, *2HDC, HDC in next 7 stitches* until end (72 stitches)
  • Round 10: Ch2, HDC in next 3 stitches, *2HDC, HDC in next 8 stitches* until last 5 stitches, 2HDC, HDC in last 4 stitches (80 stitches)
  • Round 11: Ch2, HDC in same stitch, HDC in next 9 stitches, *2HDC, HDC in next 9 stitches* until end (88 stitches)
  • Round 12: Ch2, HDC in next 4 stitches, *2HDC, HDC in next 10 stitches* (until last 6 stitches), 2HDC, HDC in last 5 stitches (96 stitches)
  • Round 13: Ch2, HDC in same stitch, HDC in next 11 stitches, *2HDC, HDC in next 11 stitches* until end (104 stitches)
  • Round 14: Ch2, HDC in next 5 stitches, *2HDC, HDC in next 12 stitches*, (until last 7 stitches), 2HDC, HDC in the last 6 stitches (112) Change to light green (moss) yarn
  • Round 15: Ch2, HDC in same stitch, HDC in next 13 stitches, *2HDC, HDC in next 13 stitches* until end (120 stitches)
  • Round 16: Ch2, HDC in next 6 stitches, *2HDC, HDC in next 14 stitches* HDC in last 7 stitches (128 stitches)   Change to dark green (Green) yarn
  • Round 17: Ch2, HDC in same stitch, HDC in next 15 stitches, *2HDC, HDC in next 15 stitches*

Reverse/Back of watermelon:

Using the same pattern above, use light green yarn for Round 1, then change to dark green for rounds 2-17.

IMG_2618

You will have two circles of the same size (check that they reach the seams of your cushion insert when you lay them over it – they should reach if you stretch them a bit.  If they are too small, add another round of dark green)

To add the pattern to the back of the watermelon (light green lines, as in picture above) insert your hook into the hole at the centre of the circle and pull up a loop of light green yarn.  You are then going to chain stitch to the edge, so insert your hook again a couple of rounds up and pull up a loop and go through the loop on your hook.  Keep the yarn under cushion while you work and finish off when you get to the end, but don’t pull too tight as it will pinch the edge of the circle in.  Leave an end to weave in.  I did this 6 times to make the lines radiating out from the centre as above.

At this point stitch your black toggles onto the front of the cushion using black embroidery thread.  I’ve used 5 but you can add as many as you like, alternatively large black sequins would look good.

IMG_2622
Weave in ends.

 

Joining the sides together:

The sides of your cushion are joined by single crocheting them together (or DC in UK terms).  You can either join all the way round, or if you want the cushion pad to be removable, join 3/4 of the way round and then create buttonholes on one side only (see pic below).  Space these according to how many buttons you want to use.

IMG_2621

I wanted a neat finish so joined all the way round mine.  With the wrong sides together, join your dark green yarn, ch1 and then SC through both loops of both the front and back pieces of your cushion (going under 4 loops in total – see picture below), continue to SC all the way round, join with a slip stitch, finish off and weave in ends.

IMG_2619

IMG_3005

And voila! One very cute, bright and tropical watermelon cushion!

Happy Birthday Jane and I hope you like your cushion!xxx

Crochet Easter Basket

I love Easter – I’m not religious, but for our family it’s an opportunity to do lots of craft activities with Pip, and means that Spring is on it’s way and the weather will soon be a bit warmer – fingers crossed….no sign of it yet!

This year we don’t have any major plans but we will be joining some of our friends for a walk around Greenwich Park.  Pip loves the idea of the Easter Bunny so this year she’s going to don some bunny ears and give out some eggs to our friends…giving me the perfect excuse to make her a little Easter basket! 

I’ve developed a bit of an addiction to t-shirt yarn, it’s fantastic for bowls and baskets, I’ve even used it to make a rug. Zpaghetti is one of my favourite brands but I couldn’t resist buying some Scheepjes Noodle Print yarn recently.  They have some great designs but their floral ones are perfect for spring and Easter.  

So here’s a picture of the Easter basket I’ve created, I wanted it to have a rounded bottom (all the better for storing more eggs) and not be too large as Pip is only little, so it has to be manageable to carry.

  

Here is my free pattern in case anyone wants to make a similar one 🙂 

Crochet Easter Basket Pattern:

Yarn:

Colour 1: I used a blue shade of Hoooked Zpaghetti

Colour 2: Scheepjes Noodle Print (floral)

I used a 10mm hook.
(US terms, if you are using UK terms do a double crochet instead of what I’ve called single crochet here)

Make a magic ring using colour 1, 6 single crochet into the ring and tighten (6 stitches)

  1. 2sc into each stitch – make sure you place a stitch marker in your first stitch (12)
  2. Sc in first stitch, then 2sc in the next. Repeat *sc, 2sc* around. (18)
  3. Sc in each stitch (18)
  4. Sc in each of the first two stitches, then do 2sc in the next. Repeat around (24)
  5. Sc in each of the next three stitches, then 2sc in the next stitch – repeat around (30)
  6. Sc in each stitch around (30)
  7. Sc in first four stitches then 2sc in the next, repeat around. (36)
  8. Sc in first five stitches then 2sc in the next, repeat around (42)
  9. Sc in each stitch around (42)
  10. Sc in each stitch around – do not complete final stitch, instead after pulling up a loop, finish the stitch using your other colour yarn (this is the point of colour change)
  11. Sc in first five stitches, then sc two together (sc2tog) – repeat around (36)
  12. Sc in first four stitches, then sc2tog, repeat around (30)
  13. Sc in each stitch (30)

To make the handle:

From where you are on the round, Ch 20 (if you want a longer or shorter handle then just adjust the chain length), slip stitch to join in the 15th stitch around from where you currently are (it will be opposite where the chain started).

Once joined, continue to sc around the basket until you get to where the chain started. Then 20sc around the chain you previously made (this thickens and strengthens the handle). Once done, continue around the other side of the bowl with sc.

Finish off and weave in your ends.
I hope this is straight forward to follow but any questions please do leave me a comment below, and if you do make one using this pattern I would love to see it, so do send me a picture or tag me on Instagram (@holly_pips)

Xx

Crochet Christmas Stockings

A few weeks ago my lovely sister-in-law gave me a bag of various yarn that her neighbour had passed onto her.  In return I wanted to make something for her using some of the yarn, and after I remarked that some of it was very Christmassy in colour I suggested I make her two boys a Christmas stocking each.

There’s a lot of crochet stocking patterns out there, many of them free (just take a look on Pinterest!) but once I saw this Granny Square Christmas Stocking Pattern by Maggie Wheldon on http://www.bestfreecrochet.com I knew I wanted to try it!

  
I wanted the stockings to be fairly big so I made 6-round squares (as opposed to the 3-rounds in Maggie’s pattern), doing 2x rounds in each colour (I used just less than 100g of red and green yarn, and less than half a ball of white).  It was also easier to sew the squares together than crochet them. It’s a very straight-forward pattern and the only slightly more complicated bit is fitting the heel – you’re essentially sewing the last square into a hole with three sides.  I sewed the top of the square flat with the rest of the stocking and that then meant 1.5 sides to sew on each of the down side of the squares (if that makes sense!).  This seemed strange to me initially but it gives a bit of bagginess to the heel of the stocking which looks really nice, and a bit more ‘sock-like’ than if the stocking was totally flat.

The white cuff at the top is very simple as well – as I was making a much larger version I did 12 rounds for the cuff to keep it in proportion.

  
The finishing touch for me was adding a couple of pom-poms dangling from the cuff – one medium and one small.  If you’ve not used them before I can really recommend Clover Pompom makers- they make the whole process a lot easier!

  
And tada! Two finished stockings in alternate colour-ways for my two nephews! Pip has been dropping (not at all subtle) hints that she’d like one too, so these might not be the last of these I make!

  
X