Thursday, July 24, 2014

An Early Post: Netflix Crochet Sightings

A post on a Thursday?? Yes, I know it's off-schedule. Thing is, Alex and I are traveling across the country for a wedding this weekend from today to Monday night and I'm not keen on bringing my lovely laptop all over tarnation. So let's just pretend that Friday came early this week! Wouldn't that be nice... I'll be posting on Monday as usual, but at 8 in the evening rather than 8 in the morning :)

Welp, I've been saving up some sightings and it's time to share. It's amazing how many crochet items are shown in popular movies and television shows!

Here's a "dainty crochet doily" that was shown on Adventure Time. 

This baby was nestled into a chunky crochet blanket on Neil deGrasse Tyson's Cosmos.

Julianne Moore carried a crochet tote bag in several scenes of Don Jon.

Here's a granny hexagon blanket I found on Law and Order: SVU.

I spotted this crochet hat while watching The Natural.

Orange is the New Black has a million crocheted items and references in it, especially in its new season. There are multiple instances of crochet in every single episode. I recently found this one...

and this one...

and this one...

and this one, a triple whammy with the blanket, pillow, and eyeglass strap! There were a gillion more, but I got sick of pausing the show to take screenies.

Note: All screen captures were taken by me and I would like to reference the Fair Use Act regarding criticism and comment.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Inline and Non-Inline Crochet Hooks

I recently wrote a review for Knitter's Pride Waves Crochet Hooks where I mentioned the terms inline and non-inline. It occurs to me that not everyone knows the difference and how it applies to them, and so today I thought I'd elaborate a little. There are two main types of crochet hook. There are many different types of handles, shapes, grips, lengths, sizes, etc, but when it comes to the actual hook part of the crochet hook there are two main types: Inline and Non-Inline. Let's take a look at a crochet hook diagram with labelled parts.

So what makes a hook inline or not? A hook is inline when the hook tip is flush with the shaft. Here's another picture for reference.

Here are two 9mm hooks. On the left is an inline hook. You can see that the hook and shaft line up. On the right is a non-inline hook. The hook part protrudes out a little farther than the shaft. Susan Bates and Boye are the two major starter hook brands. Susan Bates hooks are generally inline and Boye hooks are generally non-inline.

So, what's the big deal? Does hook type really make a difference? In short, sometimes. You may hear folks claim that one type is "better" than the other, but that simply isn't true. It's all down to personal preference. Inline users may say that non-inline hooks drop their yarn strands and are harder to wiggle into stitches. However, non-inline users may say that inline hooks split the yarn more often and grab onto stitches when they don't want them to.

How can you find out which hook is best for you? To borrow from Bill Nye, consider the following! How you hold your hook influences how comfortable each hook type will be for you. Knife holders generally prefer inline while pencil holders often prefer non-inline. The type of yarn you're using may be easier to work with if you switch hooks. For example, a non-inline hook will catch less on fluffy yarns and an inline hook may be better for precision when working with thread. Don't be afraid to try a new hook brand or type.

The type of hook you use should be dictated by what's most comfortable for you. Do you know someone who said crochet was too hard and they gave up on it? Maybe all they needed was to try a different hook. When teaching a beginner I think it's ideal to buy both a Susan Bates 6mm hook and a Boye 6mm hook so that they can try both and find what they like. What type do you prefer? Do you use both? Let us know in the comments.

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Trip to San Juan Island and Island Wools

The San Juan Islands are located in northern Washington right next to the Canadian border. Last week I went on a fun getaway trip to San Juan Island with my Sunday fiber group. Such wonderful ladies! We had a blast, and of course we worked in a visit to a local yarn store on the island. Today I'm going to share some pictures from the trip with you, all taken by the lovely Toni McClory.

Being up on the deck of the ferry on the way to the island was so cold but so exhilarating!

The scenery was stunning. The Cascade Mountains kept us company all along our drive to the ferry and also during our ferry rides. Doesn't Toni take great pictures? 

After a nice lunch our first big stop was Pelindaba Lavender Farm. The bees buzzed happily as we browsed all of their lavender products. They had lavender mustard, chocolate, candles, wands... even ice cream!

Ah, delight of delights, the yarn store! Island Wools is tucked away in a quiet corner waiting for yarnies to pop in for a visit.

The store had a great selection of yarns including many of my favorites. If you're ever on San Juan Island, be sure to take a look!

Julie Packard runs the shop and has a gorgeous line of yarns, Whimsical Colors, that are dyed in store. Awesome work, Julie!

I absolutely could not resist taking home a few skeins for a special project. Stick around and you'll find out what it is! ;)

The whole day was so very wonderful. I'm so lucky to be surrounded by such caring, friendly, and talented crafters who I can geek out over fiber with.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Remix Friday: Moorfields Dinner Eyeball

Have you been creative this week? Have you been busy? I've been both! I've been zipping all over the place this week even though I have a broken toe. I broke it by stubbing it really hard while I wasn't watching where I was going. Maybe I need to get my glasses checked or pay a visit to the eye hospital that Tracy works at! Tracy's re-imagining of a simple ball pattern is really eye-catching. Let's take a look! *ba dum ch*

The Crocheter
My real name is Tracy Lamb, hence my Rav username MintSauce, but everyone calls me Minty.  I live with my husband Steve 15 miles from London.  I have 2 cats, Nikon and Wilson and one adopted cat from next door, Ziggy.

My favourite colour is orange, and I have a few favourite yarns depending on what I'm making.  If it's an amigurumi then it's acrylic, but for hats and fingerless gloves, it has to be Alpaca!!!

I've been knitting for 47 years and crocheting for probably 20, although I put crochet down for many years and only started doing it again properly about 2 years ago.  I love learning new stitches, I have just learned crochet loop stitch and foundation chain.  One of my favourites is crocodile stitch.

The Original Pattern
Tiny Crochet Ball by Julie Kundhi

The Story
I work at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London and they were holding a dinner/dance, and I just thought it would be fun to wear an eyeball round my neck!!  The original ball pattern looked perfect, so I used that and added my own adjustments.

The Remix
I changed the original pattern to make it look like an eyeball, using blue, black and white plus pink for the main ball.  I also added some red blood vessels to make the eyeball more authentic!!!

Crochet is... Addictive, relaxing, fun!!!

How cool! I really love the added blood vessels. Thank you for sharing your creation with us today, Tracy!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Review: Knitter's Pride Waves Crochet Hook Set

Today I'll be reviewing Knitter's Pride Waves Crochet Hook Set. Disclaimer: I received this complimentary hook set in exchange for a review. I am not being paid to write this review and everything shared here is my real opinion. Good, now that that's out of the way, let's get to the fun stuff!

The first thing I noticed about this set is how fun the case is. Mine is green, it also comes in pink. The case is nice and slender, perfect for tucking inside a bag when on the go. It also has that nice new case smell.

The next thing I noticed was that the hooks were *gulp* non-inline, meaning that the hook part and the rest of the metal handle don't quite line up, though in this case it does line up with the soft part of the handle. Up until now I thought I hated all non-inline hooks and could only use inline. Every other non-inline hook I've tried has been difficult for me to crochet with. I was worried that I wouldn't like these cute hooks (the colors even have names!) and that I was going to be sad. Never the less, I pulled out the sunny yellow 5mm hook and got to work on a simple hat with some Martha Stewart Crafts Extra Soft Wool Blend...

...and I LOVED working with the hook! I can't believe it! The hook is easy to crochet with. It moves in and out of the stitches very smoothly but doesn't let go of the yarn strand the way other non-inline hooks have. Yay! I barely even had to think about what I was doing.

I think these hooks must be superior because the little hook tip is just pointed enough to hold the yarn on the hook nicely but not pointy enough to cause splitting. My hat was done in no time! Now all it needs is some kind of embellishment. Perhaps a butterfly?

The "soft feel" feature of the hooks is great for folks with small hands like me. I'm a knife-holder and I crochet almost every day, so I sometimes get a bit of fatigue in my hand and wrist. These hooks fit so neatly in my hand that I don't need to hold them with a lot of pressure, saving me from discomfort. If you've got small hands and/or a bit of crochet pain, I'd definitely recommend these hooks. My hand wasn't tired at all after working up the whole hat in one go. Also, the grip has a pleasant smoothness to it, like a petal.

Could this set get any better? It turns out it could. It includes a 4.5mm hook! I feel like 4.5mm hooks are the unicorns of the crochet world. So many sets exclude them and yet they can be so useful. I have to say, I went into this review process intending to be generous and give the set away to a reader after I was through. But guess what? I love it so much and I'm so excited about the 4.5mm hook that I'm keeping the set! Muahaha! :p Sorry friends, this time you'll just have to get your own. Be on the look out for more reviews (and giveaways!) in the future.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Colorways to Live For

You may have visited my first Pinterest board dedicated to crochet, but have you seen my newer one?

My Colorways to Live For board is slowly filling up with beautiful colors and textures. You know how people often use the phrase "to die for"? Oh, this chocolate is to die for. That handsome gent has dark brown eyes that I could just die for. Well, these colorways are so pretty that you'll want to LIVE for them so you can work them all up! Plus, the colors make me feel alive.

See you over on Pinterest!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Remix Friday: Cockapoo Cozy

What day is it? Friday! What does that mean? It's time for Remix Friday! Join me as I celebrate another creative pattern adaptation. This one is particularly cute. Is your phone naked? Does it need a cute costume? Kate is here with us to share her awesome idea for clothing naked phones.

The Crocheter
My real name is Kate Wood, and my Ravelry username is tinypantswood (it's a college nickname). When I'm not crocheting, I'm creative director for a web startup, working mainly with small businesses to improve their websites and web presence. I do a bit of a bunch of things -- graphic design, writing, etc. Mostly though, I'm crocheting, and working on many DIY projects -- my husband and I just bought a house, and we're in full-on nesting mode.

The Original Pattern
Easy Sleeve by Neesha

The Story
So when my parents first got iPhones (and dropped their landline, making this the only way to get in touch with them), my dad was constantly losing his phone, just leaving it random places. Eventually it got lost lost, and since I had just upgraded to a new iPhone, I sent him my old one. To help him keep track of it though, I decided to make a case for it as well. I wanted to make something sort of funny/cheeky, and also that would make the phone harder to lose (so kind of big, easy to find). I decided to make a phone sleeve to look like my mom's Cockapoo (Cocker Spaniel/Poodle mix).

As soon as my dad got it, my mom wanted me to make her one. I wish I'd written down the changes I made either time I made it -- I've had people ask me for the "pattern," but I just winged it the first time, and the second time did the best I could with the photos I'd taken of the first one.

The Remix 
So basically, I was looking to make an iPhone cover that would be hard to lose. Working with eyelash yarn is a pain in the you-know-what, but I thought using a novelty yarn would help cushion the phone and make it more findable (my mom always says one of the main reasons she likes hers is because she can always find it by feel in whatever giant bag she's toting around). It also recreated Ruggles' (the dog's) fur pretty well.

I looked at a whole lot of different patterns for basic smartphone sleeves before I found one that worked for me (which is the pattern the Ravelry project links to) -- I also got a lot of guidance from another one too though, so it should get at least partial credit. I worked the pattern using the eyelash yarn held together with just a basic, easy-care acrylic (Vanna's Choice). Since both the yarns together were a bit bulky, I used an I hook -- even with that big a hook, the stitches still came out fairly tight.

To make it look like a dog, and hold the phone in place, I added a flap that continued off the back of the phone sleeve. Basically, after finishing the sleeve pattern (which was worked in the round), I switched to working in rows. I worked even for a few rows, then worked decreases at the ends of each row to taper it for the nose/muzzle. I also left a buttonhole where the "nose" would go -- I sewed a round black button to the sleeve which holds the head/flap closed, making it look like a dog face when the sleeve is buttoned closed. I also sewed little "eye" buttons to the flap -- this worked better than safety eyes, since the back side of the flap needed to be flat.

I don't remember if I made the ears as separate pieces and then sewed them on, or if I picked up stitches on the sides of the flap and went from there. They were just worked back and forth in rows, increasing a little at first, and then decreasing on the last rows to make a dog ear shape.

Crochet is... satisfying creative outlet (though the other 3 words I thought of were "stressful stress reliever"!)

I've gone from improvisation to pattern creation. I have some free patterns as well as some for sale on Ravelry, and I also have patterns and finished objects for sale on Etsy (which admittedly needs a major overhaul, but again, new house). My business name is Small and Great Crochet (since I mostly crochet creatures great and small).

Isn't that last pic so sweet? I realized after I contacted Kate about her adorable Cockapoo Cozy that I totally have one of her patterns in my Ravelry queue! How fun :) In addition to the links above you can also find her on Twitter. Thank you so much for sharing your creative cozy with us today, Kate!