Friday, November 13, 2009

Are You Tired of Crochet Yet?

Hope not because here’s some more! Or, if you’re bored, just skip this one. My feelings won’t be hurt. Anywho, I bought myself a couple of birthday presents – since my birthday was spent in quarantine due to the flu and I didn’t get to celebrate at all. First up, I got the new Denise crochet hook set. This is similar to the knitting needle set but with 12 crochet hook heads: US sizes F/5-19 (3.75-15mm). 7 cords: two each of 3" and 5" and one each of 9", 12" and 16. There are two extenders and 4 end buttons. Luckily the case fits neatly along with the original one in my felted Denise bag that I made from a pattern by Cat Bordhi. (PDF here.)

Please note that these are not your regular crochet hooks! Though they apparently can be used that way, they’re not particularly well-suited. They are actually for Tunisian/afghan crochet or double-ended crochet. (There’s lots of links to this latter type of crochet in an old post of mine here. And no, you don’t really have to buy more matching hooks, just switch the hook from one end to the other.) Plus they also have lots of uses for knitting in picking up stitches, casting on and binding off. You can combine any of the parts with the needle set so the possibilities are endless. The manufacturers include a beginner Tunisian crochet insert and challenge people to come up with some innovative combinations of knit and crochet using their sets. At least this new set might be an incentive for more people to learn how to do Tunisian crochet. One can never master too many techniques! I’m sure I’ll be playing with it in future to see what I can come up with.

I also got two new books. Quelle suprise! The first was one I mentioned recently: 

CinColor Crochet in Color by Kathy Merrick is really a nice book with patterns that include charts and diagrams where needed. Of course whether you agree with me depends on your personal taste! As I mentioned before, I covet the yellow sweater, though maybe in a more subdued colour. And perhaps in handspun? I love the several scarves and wraps that are in here too, most making use of motifs in a fresh and (of course) colourful way. I don’t know about using the recommended yarns however unless you are very rich or own a yarn store. For instance a couple of items use Koigu at the rate of 9 to 11 different-coloured skeins. Or 5 skeins of Noro Silk Garden. And there are more in this vein. A little rich for my blood, though the results are lovely indeed. But then I have dyes and I know how to use them! Nobody said you had to use the same yarns that Kathy did.

The other book I got – because of course I needed to make the minimum for free delivery:

CstMotifsThis one from the Harmony Guides series has lots of shapes and sizes of motifs, some of them quite different, including both written directions and symbols. However it’s really hard to find what you’re looking for because they are in no discernable order! I would have liked some categorising, say small fill motifs vs large elaborate ones or squares vs circles, stars etc. Even numbering them might have helped. But they are all mixed up and given rather arbitrary names. This means that to find anything you have to page through the book repeatedly which of course means getting seriously sidetracked every time. Also the motifs are photographed so they look relatively the same size so it’s hard to tell what size each one might turn out when worked up. Especially if you wanted to combine them in the same piece. Swatching, as always, is mandatory. This book is a good addition to my expanding crochet dictionary collection and now I’m seriously going to consider the other 2 crochet Harmony Guides: Basic Crochet Stitches and Crochet Edgings & Trims. But since I’ve been a wee bit greedy in the book department lately, they will have to wait.

But there’s more! I also got the 4th issue of the British crochet magazine “Inside Crochet”. I bought the 3rd one awhile back and, if I want them, the first 2 issues which are out of print are available in electronic form for a discount. They are pricey little darlings though! Nearly twice the price of North American mags. And 6 times per year. Yikes. What got me this time was a couple of the articles: one on dyeing with mushrooms and another by Shannon Okey on crocheting with handspun energised singles. And some cute crochet patterns to boot. This is a very excellent magazine that feels like a cross between Interweave Crochet and Spin-Off.

At first I was put off by the instructions which are, as you might expect, in British crochet terms. It’s a nice reversal of the frustration they must feel reading North American publications, doncha think? Also there are no schematics which I’ve come to rely on for a truer representation of the sizing and fit as well as the construction. However they do have the garment photographed flat as well as on the model which is helpful and the sidebar includes garment and body measurements, expected fit and what size the model is wearing. There are charts and diagrams where appropriate and adequate space is given for instructions, tips and special stitches. The ads are not jarring and the photography is clear and styling is attractive and reasonably uncluttered. I’d give it 4 out of 5 crochet hooks up, only quibbling on the price and frequency of publication which makes it a difficult choice to decide purchase on a regular basis. I might not be able to help myself though.

Hey, I also actually got a real birthday present that I didn’t buy for myself! It’s a lovely ball of recycled sari silk yarn, purchased for me by my mother-in-law (aka Nana) when she was on a trip to Cannon Beach, OR. Isn’t it pretty?

SariSilkNo idea what I will make but I just love that it’s all hand-wound into a ball and it’s so colourful and hairy – and heavy! Oh and Nana included a couple of bars of yummy dark chocolate too which I suppose I will have to share with her darling son, T-Man. He gave me soulful eyes when I unwrapped it. Cute. Speaking of T, the Movember moustache is growing, along with the accompanying beard. He says his Mo doesn’t know what it wants to be when it grows up so he’s not going to prune it until it decides. My vote is for “shaved off” but I can wait until December 1st. It’s nearly past the worst of the prickly stage now. Nearly.

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