Monthly Archives: April 2015

Loving Life, Crochet and Yarn!


Three things that make me happy…

St Pauls Hammersmith st Pauls interiorLife – last Saturday I was at a worship conference, what’s that I hear you ask?  For those that don’t know me very well, I take my faith very seriously, no, that’s not quite right, my faith is not church on Sunday, but a daily walk, sometimes a struggle , sometimes a meander, with God.  So on Saturday I found myself at St Pauls, Hammersmith, with many other people, spending time with lots of sung worship, seminars, lots of coffee… started about 10am, and went on to 9pm.  My favourite moment was when, during one of the talks, we sung Come Holy Spirit, in Latin – Veni, Sancte Spiritus … completely different to the rest of the conference, sung very simply on two notes, but then with all of us singing on the pentatonic scale, in a beautiful church, was a truly happy, harmonious, holy moment…

Crochet Cutie from Womens Weekly  Womens Weekly Knitting and Crochet May  Womens weekly workshops

Crochet – this made me squeeee with delight when I saw it… My very first published design in Women’s weekly.  It combines fabric – a beautiful fine silk, with crochet.  I was really happy when they said that they loved it!  I have since designed another combo which they are also really pleased with – so that ‘O’ level in needlework is finally being put to use!  I also had a picture on the Workshop page, along with others that I respect hugely – Jane Crowfoot who opened the first Waltham Abbey Wool Show, Cara Ackermann with whom I have had some interesting crochet discussions with at trade shows, Natalee Warner who I met last year at Excel, and of course Freddie Patmore who organises the whole thing!  We were altogether on Friday for the first in a series of workshops, and had great fun teaching together, in the lovely headquarters of Women’s weekly near Tate Modern!

Sirdar Kasha yarn

Yarn – I have had some really lovely new yarn to play with, it is a new yarn from Sirdar – Kasha.  It is a big ball (300g) of fluff!  Mostly manmade fibres but with 10% mohair, it is interesting for it’s texture, soft, fluffy and slubby too.  I was going to make a Loren Jumper with it, but I loved it sooo much that I decided to design a companion to the Loren – The Sophia Cardigan!  Based on the Loren Jumper it’s not quite ready yet, I have made the whole thing, but it needs some tweaks, the collar needs to be longer, and I’m thinking of taking it apart to increase the length, so that I can wear it!


What makes you happy?  I have found that delighting in the little things every day, thanking God that we are so blessed, makes me very happy.

Learn to Crochet – slip knot and crochet chain

Here is the first in a series of posts that will take you through the process of learning how to crochet.

So why am I doing this?  since closing the physical shop and not really having a space where I can set up and do course, I thought that I would like to share the tutorials that I have made over the years of designing courses for my shop, I will say that while learning using the internet is great, and something that I do on a regular basis – there is always a new way of doing something, or a new technique to be learned – I have taught well over 100 people to crochet over the last 4 years, and many have struggled with the basics until they have someone beside them, so that they can ask for help as they are learning.  I hope that I can do this through my videos, but really the very best way to learn is with a patient teacher!

The other thing to mention before you start is that you will make mistakes.  If you are a knitter, you may be a bit frustrated that crochet doesn’t come easily.

You will loose stitches, make tight stitches, find difficulty counting, have wiggly edges, different size stitches, and many other problems, but just like when you start to learn any skill, you just need to keep practising, until it becomes automatic. Think of when you started to drive, at first there was soooo many things to think about, gears, mirrors, steering, brakes, accelerator, but if you have been driving for a while, you don’t think about any of these things, just where you have to go!

To start you will need a hook and some yarn. when I am teaching I generally use an Acrylic Double Knit yarn (DK) and a 5mm hook. This is larger than you might expect, but I have found that there are very few people when starting off that have loose tension, most have a very tight tension. so a bigger hook helps.

The parts of the hook are as follows,

So to start to crochet, you will need a slip knot. this has to slip in a certain way, so that the working end slips through the knot.  see the video below.


Insert your hook, into the slip knot.  There are two strands of yarn, one is short, the other attached to your ball of yarn – this is the working end.  the loop on your hook is the working loop.

You will then need to decide how to hold the hook and the yarn. It is worth trying a few different ways until you are comfortable.

There are two main ways to hold the hook, like a pencil, or like a knife, you can see pictures in this post and below with yarn

Right handed pencil hold

pencil hold left hand - RH  pencil hold both hands - RH

Right handed knife hold

knife hold left hand - RH  knife hold both hands - RH

Left handed pencil hold

pencil hold left hand - LH  pencil hold both hands - LH

Left handed knife hold

knife hold left hand - LH  knife hold both hands - LH

When holding the yarn the most important thing is to have a space where the hook can grab the yarn.  There are loads of different ways to do this.  The most important is that you hold your yarn in the opposite hand to your hook

The pictures above, show a few different ways, the video shows my most comfortable position, once you are ready, you have to bring the hook in front of the yarn, move it to the back (without rotating the hook) so that the so that the yarn ‘catches’ under the hook.  then pull this through the loop that is on the hook.  Well done! you have made your first chain!

You need to repeat this motion, bringing the hook in front of the yarn, round to the back, hook and through the working loop.  After you have made a two or three chains, move your grip up close to the working loop, this will help to keep all the chains the same size (we call this keeping tension even)

This is the very first thing to get right, so keep making chains until you are comfortable using the hook and the yarn.  You might want to put it down, and pick up again, so that you can be sure about the way that you are working.  once you have made about a metre length, stop and relax!   When you start you might be quite tense so sit back , rotate your shoulders and make a cup of coffee or tea!

To finish the chain pull up the working loop, and snip the loop – trust me this will work!  pull out the working end, then pull the other end, this will tighten the last loop and make sure that it won’t undo.

At this point it is good to repeat from the beginning, making more chains.  In the past we have used these as shoelaces, spectacle cords, necklaces even scarves!

I hope that you are now able to make lots of chains, starting with the slip knot, chaining for a bit then fastening off, I would looove to see piccys of your work!

If you do have any problems learning how to crochet a chain, and you are not sure what to do, please do feel free to leave a comment with a picture if you can, and I will do my very best to help.

Getting Started: From Zero to (Crochet) blogger

I have been procrastinating… I have not been as focused as I should be around my blog, so here is my challenge – blog every day for 30 days… I was going to start on May 1st, but since I had made the decision to do it why wait!

I have the feeling that this is not going to be easy, in fact I have been warned as much, but here we go.

One of the first things to get inspirations for posts is to think about what questions people ask most frequently,   If you have any crochet or knitted related questions then please do ask, if I don’t know the answer I can look around the web and find someone who can – which is exactly what I would do in the shop when I had it!

I know that one question often asked by beginners is:

Does it matter how I hold my hook and yarn?

My answer is simple – NO!

There are two main ways to hold a hook – top row of piccys are knife hold, bottom row pencil hold, left and right handed.

knife left knife right pencil left pencil right

and there are as many ways to hold yarn as there are crocheters.  I was teaching on Friday at a Women’s Weekly workshop and as long as the yarn is in one hand and hook in the other you can get started!

To help illustrate this I took some videos at a group that I go to, many of whom I have taught to crochet.  I have recorded in slow motion and as short clips.

As long as you can maintain an even tension ( and that only comes with practice, patience my newbies…) you can hold however you like, personally I discourage using a knitting type hold, with the yarn and hook in the same hand, but if you really can’t mange any other way, then try that way until you are confident with stitches, and then see if you can change.  If you are likely to be crocheting for long stretches at a time, it is also helpful to be able to change hold – even just slightly to reduce the chance of injury…

I will be publishing some learn to crochet posts soon, but I look forward to your crochet and yarn questions…till tomorrow!