Saturday, 19 May 2012

The dark art of Crochet...

I've been vowing to learn how to crochet for the last few years now. I found myself avoiding any of the cool knitting patterns on Ravelry which had the slightest hint of crochet in them. I tried YouTube videos, books, friends giving me pointers - nothing seemed to work.

In desperation I turned to a crochet class run by Calon Yarns in Cardiff. If anyone was going to teach me how to crack this crochet lark it was going to be Lynne. Her shop is a treasure trove of gorgeous yarn, friendly service and sofas to sit and chat with your yarn project of choice. My classes are for 2 hours on a Tuesday night for 5 weeks.

This is how it has gone so far:
First session: was a bit nervous - I didn't want to look foolish from not understanding anything. Luckily the other guys there were in the same position, so that put me at ease. With the course came a crochet needle, practice yarn for use in class and plenty of cups of tea. I couldn't hold the hook, tension the yarn or get the foundation row going as my chain was so tight.

Second session: worked on getting past the dreaded foundation chain and how to do some rows of double crochet (UK terminology) and then triple crochet stitches. It was at this point that it started to click - I could see where the hook needed to go to create the stitch which I couldn't see before, and once past the foundation chain my tension was much better.

Third session: worked on how to work in the round and my first attempt at a granny square. Working this way suits me better than straight lines I think - I really got into a rhythm making the granny squares. That weekend at home I made 9 of them whilst husband was out playing football. 

Fourth session: worked on stitching pieces together, increasing and decreasing, making a wave pattern and started on following a basic pattern for a crochet flower. I've decided I like crochet charts rather than written patterns - I hate knitting patterns so it goes that I'm not a fan of crochet ones either. I've decided I'm going to be a free-form crocheter and make it up as I go.

Session five will be taking place next week. I can't believe after 3 years of failed attempts after 4 two hour sessions on a Tuesday night I've got the hang of the basics. I'm no expert by far but I have managed to make this blanket over the last week:

It is basically a giant granny square, with a double crochet border in a lovely multicoloured green, blue and purple yarn. It's not perfect, but it's turned out way better than I thought.

I'd say that I'm still a knit-a-holic at heart, but now with a bit of crochet on the side world domination can't be too far away!


Monday, 7 May 2012

Solving little problems every day...

So - it's been a while!

A lot has been happening in 2012 so far. I've been pretty exhausted and burnt out at times - and that doesn't make for great blog reading. So now I'm back on my feet (literally) I can fill you in on what's been happening.

Most notable being that I have been into hospital to have keyhole surgery on my hip. It wasn't as bad as it sounds - and it's feeling a lot better already, but I've got to be on crutches for 4 more weeks (10 in all) and it is still pretty sore. I've got two little scars on my right hip. Lucky to have such a great team locally who operated on me so professionally.

As you may realise I'm not the kind of person who would want to spend 10 weeks on a pair of uncomfortable dull grey crutches, so I managed to buy some comfy ergonomic ones on-line that are shaped to your hand - much much more comfy. And they come in this great teal colour so much less boring!

One thing I figured out quite quickly was that carrying a shoulder bag doesn't work with crutches - it kept falling off my shoulder every time I took a few steps. A messenger style satchel was OK but got in the way as I was walking. I've got a little backpack for going out and about - but when you just want to take your purse, some lip balm and your phone it was too big.

So I came up with this little bag that hangs from the handle of the crutch. It's made from oilcloth so it is pretty water resistant (which is great in the wet spring weather we have been having) and fastens to the crutch with Velcro and to the handles via some cotton loops. The flap closes with a pop fastener. There is a little pocket inside for my phone so it doesn't get lost at the bottom of the bag.

Its first big test was when we went to Plymouth on the south west coast on holiday this Bank holiday weekend. It's our second wedding anniversary (seems like yesterday I was having my handmade wedding!) and we like to take a little holiday to celebrate. As you can see it was pretty chilly for May but the little crutch-bag held up really well. 

I love being by the seaside - the South West coast is stunning. Plymouth is right on the border between Devon and Cornwall. We went to see the Eden Project - it has an indoor Rainforest biome with lots of tropical plants (very hot though!), a land train, stunning plants and lots of info on climate and environment. 

We also enjoyed a trip to the River Cottage Restaurant, Plymouth Hoe and a boat trip around the docks. Very glad I brought my knitted hat - beautiful but pretty cold!

I'm counting down until I'm able to get off these crutches - 4(ish) more weeks to go then I am free!