Sunday, 27 September 2015

Crochet with The Spice Girls

When my lovely virtual pal Sandra from Cherry Heart asked if I’d like to take part in the Spice of Life Crochet-A-Long, I happily added one more WIP to my list!

Photo courtesy of Sandra at Cherry Heart

How could I refuse a gorgeous delivery of yarn from Black Sheep Wools and a fun pattern that guarantees a Christmas gift ticked off my list?

Any combination of DK yarn can be used for the project, and Black Sheep Wools has special Spice of Life yarn packs using Rico Classic Baby DK and Stylecraft Special DK. Left to my own devices, I’d use my typical, safe shades of taupes and soft blues, greens and pinks. So I decided to go for the Stylecraft version, as Sandra used the Rico pack, to get me out of my comfort zone and into some bright and unusual shades. (My rainbow-loving Little Flower already has a claim on the finished blanket...)

This CAL suits all levels of experience, so I shared the info with my Crochet Club a few weeks back. The response was fab – I have a merry band of 12 joining together to make the blanket! Of course, a group this size deserves a name, so introducing...

* * * The Spice Girls * * *

(cue rolling eyes and groans, but I just couldn’t resist!)

We are meeting this Tuesday for the first of a series of CAL evenings outside of our regular Crochet Club. I can’t wait to see all the different colour palettes, and what better motivation to keep hooking as the autumn evenings close in?

I’ll share The Spice Girls' progress on the Spice of Life Facebook page. Black Sheep Wools has a dedicated Spice of Life page on their web site, and of course I’ll keep snapping away for Instagram (chrissie_crafts)!

Are you joining in the fun? Tell me all about it!

Happy crafting!
Chrissie x (aka Crafty Spice)

Friday, 22 May 2015

Blog Hop: Beginner’s Guide to Crochet – My Crochet Fail

I’ve long been a fan of Annaboo’s House, admiring the super-cute amigurumi, hooking up my own makes from Sarah’s wonderful tutorials (especially the korknisse!). And just a few months ago we realised we actually live quite near each other, so we’ve been meeting up to chat and crochet and eat cake – what more could a gal want?

A book full of Sarah’s crochet creations, that’s what! She’s just released her first book, Beginner’s Guideto Crochet, and to celebrate I’m taking part in a fun blog hop all about our early crochet experiences.

My urge to crochet started when my eldest daughter was about two years old. I appreciated the crocheted baby blanket my mother had made when my Bunny was born, I loved the crocheted hangers that accompanied every new outfit that Mom and Grandma gave to her. But I never even entertained the idea of picking up a hook myself.

But motherhood changes you in so many ways, and along with the nesting instinct came a strong desire to make. Nurturing, baking, singing, loving... it all magnified by about a gazillion when I became a mom. So it seemed only natural that I asked my two female role models to teach me how to take a little hook and a string of yarn and create something beautiful.

I made a dishcloth.

Pretty, isn’t it? Well, hmmm. It’s been well used and washed over the years. It was made with great determination, perseverance and patience. And pretty pink variegated Lily Sugar n’ Cream yarn.

But it is wrong. All wrong. My first project was a Crochet Fail.

Can you guess? Have you made the same mistake? Row by row, stitch by stitch I crocheted in the front loops only, so the cloth is all ridges.

And the edges then buckled when I crocheted all round. Sad, worn little cloth.
When my mother pointed this out to me, I was disheartened. The whole thing was wrong, and it took me an age to make. But then the stubborn, feisty side of me piped up – hang on a minute, what’s so bad about this cloth? It is made up of neat little ridged rows, it is absorbent and practical, and it is pink! It is not a Crochet Fail, it is a Crochet Success because I did it!

As I tell my students who attend my beginner’s crochet course: “If it’s consistently wrong, it is right! You’ve created a new stitch!”

Ain’t no one gonna tell me I’m wrong!

The dishcloth was followed by a flurry of other little crochet creations, amigurumi, scarves, blankets, granny squares. You can see many of them in the archives of this blog! I shared my love of crochet with my craft group, taught a few friends as the years rolled by. Then through word of mouth, about two years ago I was asked to trial a beginner’s course. And now I seem to teach crochet here, there and everywhere, building my Crochet Army! What a great way to make new friends – the classes soon led to various Crochet Clubs held each month, where we hook all evening, chatting and inspiring and creating.

Speaking of creating, here’s something I’m working on for Little Flower’s new bedroom, which I will unveil for you all as soon as I can get that last coat of paint on the walls:

Given the grey clouds outside my window at the moment, I like looking at one with silver lining! The pattern is from Sarah’s new book, but I opted for a smaller version of the t-shirt yarn she used for hers:

I chose King Cole Smooth DK yarn in a soft grey, it has a pretty sheen that makes the cloud less dreary and goes well with the silver lining.

The silver lining is simply two strands of Anchor Metallic Thread hooked together around the edge. Easy peasy! I have further plans for this hopeful little cloud, you just wait and see...

The pattern is one of 20 beginner’s projects, available as a printed book as well as an eBook. And lucky Sarah is a craft ambassador at Stitch Craft Create – check out her curated page for lots of crochet goodies!

Now this blog hop must hop along...I would like to nominate one of my favourite crochet designers, the ever-inspiring Sandra of Cherry Heart, to share her beginner’s tale...

Happy crafting!
Chrissie x

Monday, 30 March 2015

Loaded Cookies

A few weeks ago I had some rice krispie cereal hanging about that the kids decided they didn’t like anymore, and I remembered eating a chocolate chip cookie with rice krispies at some point in my childhood. I searched and found similar recipes online, but nothing that ticked all the boxes –  so I conjured up my own version!

When I told my mom about them, she said, “Whoa, those sound like loaded cookies!” and thus I had the name.

I’ve written this in US terms/UK terms, but as always, please email me if you have any questions. Bon app├ętit!

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.

Mix together
1 c. /240g unsalted butter
1 c./200g sugar/caster sugar
1 c./200g light brown sugar
until light and fluffy.

2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
and mix well.

In a separate bowl, blend
2 c./340g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda/bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

Then, with the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients 
to the butter mixture.

Now for the magic:

Stir in
1 c./100g rolled oats/porridge oats
2 c./60g rice krispies cereal
1 c./80g flaked coconut/desiccated coconut (note: US-style flaked coconut works better in this recipe – try here for a UK source)
1 c./180g chocolate chips
being careful not to overmix or crush the cereal!

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto baking sheets lined with parchment. I use a small ice cream scoop for uniform size (and it looks proper professional!).

Bake cookies for 7-9 minutes or until golden brown, rotating the baking sheets halfway through cooking. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

I don’t know where that last one went...

Happy baking!
Chrissie x

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Long-awaited ta-dahs

One of the reasons I started my blog nearly two years ago is because I wanted some inspiration to finish my works-in-progress. I finally, finally finished one of my favourite WIPs:

Ta-dah, Ta-Dah, TA-DAH!!!! I could hardly believe it when I stitched the last stitch of this Dr. Seuss homage. Sam-I-Am shouldn’t have taken so long, really. It wasn’t the most impossible embroidery, it was just rather slow going at certain stages so I felt the need for a break. Sometimes for months. Ah well, we got there in the end!

Little Flower loves it, so it will go in her room, which we are currently redecorating. She actually was the impetus to finish Sam-I-Am; she loves Green Eggs and Ham so much and can read it by herself now. She saw the embroidery and asked if I could finish it specially for her – how could I say no? My five-year-old bookworm...caught here on my iPhone after her bedtime, she snuck out of bed to read more of the story!

Hey! Get to bed!
My New Year’s Resolution was to not buy any new yarn until I completed the mountain of crochet WIPs I accumulated last year. I need to tame my inner fickle magpie, flitting from one project to another when a pretty new yarn pops up in the shop!

So far so good (nearly, I did buy some Smooth DK on sale for £1 a ball, but that doesn’t count – who could pass up that kind of bargain?). My big finish this week was the gorgeous Textured Throw from Erika Knight’s Crochet Workshop:

A most inviting seat, no?
I started this throw months ago using King Cole Gypsy super-chunky yarn and a 10mm hook. It works up so quickly, but it took me ages because shortly after I started it, I began teaching more and more crochet workshops and leading the crochet clubs linked with each venue’s classes. 

I’ve had so much fun spreading the hooky love, but it has taken a big bite out of my own personal crochet time. I have to make sure I don’t get RSI by crocheting into the night when I’ve been teaching during the day. So projects are slow going, but very satisfying nonetheless.

This is the perfect winter blanket, soooo snuggly warm!
I also managed to finish a new shawl...

How much do I adore this shawl? I fell in love with Louisa Harding’s Amitola yarn, and opted for a colourway out of my comfort zone of pastels and neutrals. The vivid blues and rich browns were too tempting to pass up.

After drooling over images online for weeks, I broke down and ordered Puur Haken by the super-talented Maaike at creJJtionNo, I don’t speak the language, but yes, the photos are inspiration in themselves, and the diagram gave me all I needed to create the zomersjaal myself!

I love the shell pattern so much, I made creJJtion’s fingerless gloves, also using a shell pattern, with Louisa Harding Orielle yarn – a Christmas gift for myself, I couldn’t resist the subtle gold thread running through the yarn, giving it a little sparkle!

Onward and upward. I have a cushion to finish, then a pretty pink scarf, oh and a poncho-sweater-type-thing I forgot I even started about a year ago! Don’t mention the hexie blanket...I think there’s a ball of chunky scarlet yarn partway hooked into a snood...then I’ll attack those spring yarns in their juicy colours...

Happy crafting!
Chrissie x

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Blog Lang Syne

*sung to the tune of “Auld Lang Syne”

Should long blog pauses be forgot
and never brought to mind

I’m starting fresh, with new-found zeal
and making more blog time

There’s Instagram that’s kept me close
to you while life’s so full

But I miss sharing WIPS, long chats,
and writing to you all

This brand new year I’m striving to
weekly share a post

And finish the crochet and embroidery makes
that I love the most

Thank you for reading and following
I’m so grateful, for goodness’ sake

Here’s to a joyous 2015
Now let’s all go and *make*!

Happy New Year!

Chrissie x