Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Beginnings of a Crocheter

For the last while I've been thinking about crocheting.  I think it would be pretty accurate to describe my crochet ability as "free style".   I'm sure I made the crocheters in my knitting groups cringe when I said I was going to crochet a border onto a knitting project!  My crocheting would go something like this.  Grab the first hook I could find (size didn't really matter as long as it was close to my needle size) then I would do a yarn over the hook, pull it through a few loops, yarn over again and finish off the stitches in one manner or another.  If I was lucky I would do whatever I was doing for the entire edge but now that I've brushed up on my crochet stitches I'm sure I was randomly mixing in double and half double sts all along my edge.  Whatever I was doing it was good enough for me, until now.  Now I want to learn to crochet properly.

I went looking for my crochet hooks and found that for not being a crocheter I had a pretty good collection ranging in size from .75mm to 15mm and a good variety of makes of hooks.

 The majority were the old favourites Aero, Boye and Susan Bates but I also found Milward, Red Heart, Prims, H.A. Kidd, Unique and Esprit.  Most are plastic, some are metal and one was bamboo.  One would think this would get me off to a good start brushing up on my stitches; but no, instead I was on a quest to find "the best" hook on the market.  

Starting a snowflake in the round using Patons Classic Wool

This led Santa to leaving me 3 new hooks in my Christmas stocking.  The hook above is an Addi 4mm with an ergonomically designed handled.  The hook is nickel, the same as their knitting needles which was nice.  It took me a few tries to get the hang of how to hold onto this hook.  At first I found my hand sliding up onto the hook and I found it more comfortable not to hold onto the handle.  It got easier the more I practiced.

A finished snowflake using left over sock yarn
My second new hook was also an Addi 2mm comfort grip hook.  It seemed to work well and I found it easier to hold onto and if price is a consideration this hook is $9 compared to the first Addi hook at $18.

My last new hook was the Clover 4mm Soft Touch.  This ended up being my favourite of the three.  The hook picked up the stitches nicely, I liked the feel of the handle and it is reasonable priced at $8.  This is the hook that I used most often to make the snowflakes that I was practicing on.  In the end I didn't find "the best" hook.  They all did the job and I will use them all again.  It's just like knitting needles; wood, metal, dpns, circular, pointy, blunt, fixed or interchangeable it's all about personal preference.  

Beads next time??

 I had fun crocheting these snowflakes and it gave me lots of opportunity to work on my stitches which I apparently needed, lol!  The finished snowflake was to have 6 points.  The first one I made had 6 points, the next had 5 points and the one after that had 7 points and the one pictured below ended up with a lopsided point!  Ooops!  

Made with crochet cotton and a 2mm hook

I didn't pull any of them out.  They say no two snowflakes are the same right and mine are proof of that.  I'll get to look at them every Christmas and remember the year I made them during the week between Christmas and New Years.

I blocked them and hung them on the tree. I don't want to jinx myself by saying that I've perfected the pattern because it's totally possible a picot might be missing on one of the points but I'm doing much better.

Not to worry though, I'm not giving up my knitting for crocheting any time soon.  In between snowflakes I'd pick up a sock and knit a few rows.  It felt good to do something familiar!

I'm still working on snowflakes but Valentine's Day is around the corner so hearts seemed in order :)

If you want to read a review of crochet hooks and check out a great crochet and knitting blog take a look at Stacey's blog over at FreshStitches.  She's an amazing crocheter and knitter.  

This is the link to the video on how to crochet the snowflake.

And here is the link for the heart pattern.  Enjoy!

Happy Knitting (and crocheting)!

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Unsung Hero - The Darning Needle

Since one of my knitting goals today was to get back to blogging, here is a quick post to help me back on track!  

Yesterday my daughter brought down a sock that I had knit her for Christmas. She told me that she loved them, they were super warm and she would love me to knit more for her but would I mind sewing in the ends in this one sock.  I guess in my excitement of having both socks finished well before Christmas Eve I had forgotten to darn in some ends, oops!  

Of course this only took a couple of minutes but it got me to thinking.  I'm always on the lookout for "the best" knitting needles (and lately crochet hooks) so it got me to thinking  what about my darning needles. I have tons to choose from but I always bypass all of them looking for my one and only needle with a bent tip.

I have darning needles in every shape and size; plastic, metal, long, short, some with large eyes, some with small eyes, most with blunt tips but a few with pointy tips that I just use for the Rusian Join but only one with a bent tip.  In the past I haven't been all that particular about what needle I was using.  Since these needles always seem to go missing I would usually count myself lucky to just find one and not worry if it was plastic or metal.  These days though I'm all about having the right tools for the job.

For me its a nice sized metal darning needle with a large eye for easy threading, a blunt tip to keep the stitches from splitting and a bent tip for easily picking up those stitches.

Any thoughts on your favourites?