Monday, 28 January 2013

Review: Simply Crochet

So I picked up a copy of the latest Crochet Magazine on the UK market, Simply Crochet. Surprisingly Easons had it in stock, they're legendary for not getting in crochet magazines.  Very sparse Ravelry Page.

I have to preface this by saying that I actually do like their website.  It's quite cool.  Food for creative thought.

The magazine itself is along the same lines as Molly Makes, more matt than most magazines in this sector, it looks very slick.

It opens with a few pages of inspiration and trends, the first section is about Bedroom ideas.   After some atmospheric pictures there are the patterns for that set.  First A Bright Blanket; then pillowcase edgings;  then cool cushions in a granny square stripes; some bunting; a hanger cover, frames, Granny Square Lampshade, all multi-coloured and probably great stashbusters.

Some Amigurumi lovebirds are next, an extract from teeny tiny crochet

Lecchi Blanket is next, a mellow blend of colours

Magical Circles is a scarf with links, interesting construction.

You're Collared a cute collar with buttons to decorate by Jane Crowfoot

Jane Crowfoot talks about inspiraton.

Pearly Queen is in a silk and mohair yarn and over 1,000 beads to add to this soft piece, something like an old-fashioned bed jacket. Designed by Nicki Trench

A discussion of Amigurmi is followed by a cute dragon and then by an interview with Stephanie Lau

Carol Meldrum offers a mock cable cowl

Sounds Like love is a heart headphones cover by Brenda K B Anderson

Nicki Trench's Comfort Blanket is largely plain with some border detail.

Then because it's February there are hearts, a plain heart pattern; set of hearts; heart corsage, cards and gift tie; mirror hanging; heart sachets; cute bookmark.

There are some yarn reviews followed by a how to get started section. Which includes how to work left-handed

Some Bracelets are followed by an interesting hat using granny squares; Hip to be Square by Lisa Gentry

A small baby cardigan by Sirdar is pretty simple and open.

Flower Power is a motif pattern

Heart & Home is a backing for a hook board, a different piece, from the book Granny Squares by Barbara Wilder, Melanie Sturm and Stephanie Gohr

There are some reviews of Craftsy and Etsy, followed by a quick interview with four women who have make crafting their living.

Strangely there's another Crochet essentials set of pages with no left-handed information.  This feels like duplication.

It's an interesting magazine that I'll be keeping an eye on; most of the patterns in this issue weren't really my aesthetic but there were a few that caught my attention, it shows potential and I wish it well in the future.

I bought a copy for myself from Easons.


Seriously my stash has reached too-large proportions.  I have to use some of it up, so I'm going to try hard not to buy any unnecessary balls in the next year. Unnecessary? Well if a project needs a ball or two to be finished, that's allowed, otherwise stash must be used.
Over the weekend I knit myself a hat. It's an orange version of The Elusive Blue Rose Hat and it's 123m used up.

I also finished a swallowtail that used 361m of yarn, so so far this month I've used 484m so far.

I'm kinda planning to do some colourwork to use up some of the odd balls.  This year is going to require a lot of semi-designing.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Evil Knits - Review

Book Depository Link, Ravelry Link, Dublin City Public Libraries Catalogue Record

It gets bonus points for the mad cracked nail illustrations in the primer.

The book starts with an introduction to knitting and some techniques to work with, including soft circuits!  This is a pretty comprehensive introduction.

The Projects
Monkey with Miniature Cymbals - a knitted version of the clockwork toy.

Ferdy Hand Puppet - looks a lot like Freddy from Fridy the 13th...

Voodoo Doll Cat Toy - yeah, reverse stocking stitch voodoo style doll as a cat toy.

Necronomicon iPad Cosy, oh yeah, a plain bag with appliqued felt shapes and I-cord outlining.  Kinda cool, but also kinda creepy, has advice on resizing it for other electronic devices.

Shrunken Head in a jar, yeah, exactly what it says.

Zombie Egg Cosy - an egg cosy designed to stay on so it looks like you're eating it's brains...

Freak Show Finger Puppets - Bearded lady, elephant man and Lion-faced people, as finger puppets.

Creepy Clown cushion cover - yeah, creepy intarsia clown.

Monster Merry-go-round - potential for using luminous yarn...  A canopy with some dangling monsters.

Light-up ghost is a classic ghost shape with a simple LED to light it up

Abominable Snowman - a good way to learn fur stitch!  It's a pretty classic shape and style.

Kracken Tentacle - as suggested could be a Draft Excluder, throw pillow or as a cat bed.  Quite a funny piece

Nosferatu - inspired by one of the oldest adaptations of Dracula, this is pretty creepy with glowing LED eyes.

A Grue Wallet - a monster inspired wallet with a lot of detail and optional LED circuitry.

Zombie Marionette - a zombie puppet

Creature from the Black Lagoon Sleep Mask - a sleep mask knit in green with felt eyes, an icord frown and lined with felt.

Haunted House Diorama - knitted playhouse stiffened with Plastic Canvas, a pile of skulls, and some gravestones.

Little Witches are some small project.  weighted with a small beanbag they are a cute small project

Haunted Tree - a tree shape which uses PVA glue for some stiffening.

Entertaining projects but none of them really called on me to do them, the ones that involve electronics would be ideal first projects to try this as there isn't much involved in it.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Knit your own zombie - review

Book Depository Link, Ravelry Link, Dublin City Public Libraries Record

By Fiona Goble

The cover of the book talks about over 1000 combinations and it's probably true.  There are 9 basic patterns, 4 mash-up ideas and that would probably give you ideas for many more.
You basically knit a head, upper body and lower body and using Velcro attach them to each other, the arms attach using press-studs.  The pieces are knit flat, seamed and stuffed individually.  The author opens each pattern with some media examples of each type. 

The first pattern is for a classic zombie.  Only one eye, removable entrails and his ribs showing this one is pretty classic. There's also a jacket trousers and a rat pattern as accessories.

Frankenstein's monster is up next.  The pattern even includes a 40mm nut and bolt. He has slightly different trousers and jacket pattern included

Then we have a zombie cop with a thigh-bone truncheon, shirt, trousers, hat, boot and simple cuffs.

The village idiot mash-up shows how you can use a variety of the patterns to create a new monster and maybe spark some ideas

Zombie fatale is the first female character we encounter.  Her heart is removable and she has shiny bead nails.  A beehive hairdo  topped with a hat and a dress completes this ensemble.  She also has a shoe and bandage

Dracula makes an appearance too, looking quite like Sesame street's count. He has a cane, waistcoat, cape and a bat as accessories

Next we have another mash-up, the mother of the bride, another opportunity to mix and match

The zombie chef is quite scary with full chef gear including two knives.

Next up is the biker chic zombie mash-up.

Zombie gravedigger owes a lot to Baron Samedi described as female because of the purple hat, this animated skeleton screams voodoo to me.  Hat, spade and rope accessories.

Zombie rock star has removable brains and long hair, along with a jacket and trousers.

Last mash-up is of yoga zombie mostly using the zombie gravedigger parts.

Final pattern is for the bandages to make any of the zombies into a mummy.

In common with a lot of her books you have to be prepared to do some sewing with this and there's a fair bit of both sewing and detail embroidery to keep a lot of people busy.  Would be a great gift for a zombie lover or for something to make for one.  You could get several birthdays out of making parts on a regular basis.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Bergere de France Knit & Stitch Volume 1 review

Yes, I have poor impulse control when it comes to buying this sort of thing.  I usually buy at least issue 1.  This is the latest offering from Eaglemoss as a part-work.  Now I hope Eaglemoss have improved their deliveries because the last few times I subscribed to something from them it resulted in blood-pressure heightening phone calls to try to sort out issues about missing shipments.

The bumpf does mention free shipping in the UK but doesn't mention what the cost would be to Ireland (or Eire as they style it).  This issue is 1.99 (UK 99p) the second will be 3.99 (UK £2.50) and subsequent issues will be 6.99 (UK 4.50), this price works out pretty well to Eason's current 7.49 for a £4.99 magazine.  You might think about using something like Parcel Motel to ship to Belfast if that would work out cheaper, you get the magazines in lots of 4. So you will be waiting anyway.

yarn from new magIssue 1 comes with two balls of acrylic yarn, Bergere de France's Barisienne, issue 2 will be offering the same, issue 3 will be Eclair yarn.  Now somehow I don't think you'll be getting some of the Alpaca yarn mentioned in the guide to yarns used in this collection but I could be proven wrong.

It also comes with some 3.5mm needles, the recommended size for the yarn, a how-to-knit DVD and the magazine, along with the guide to the yarns, which I would carefully store for substitution purposes, as well as a lot of bumpf on the series.

knit & stitch coverThis part-work promises to cover not only knitting and crochet but also tapestry, crewelwork and felting.  They say that there will be needles and crochet hooks with the series and binders along the way.
Part 1 starts off with how to cast-on, using the thumb or long-tail cast-on.
A plain garter stitch is the first square, using one of the balls, the squares are 20cm each and while tension isn't terribly important, it is a good thing to practice how to achieve tension on.  Cleverly they suggest labelling the square with an ID number.
There's also a fringed shawl knit project, using a slightly fuzzy yarn, an increase on the rs row until x number of stitches are achieved and then decrease back down to the original number of stitches, unhelpfully it's not diagrammed.

The next project is a cuddly teddy, crocheted using the other ball of yarn, this does have a schematic.

A Classic V-necked jumper for kids from 4-16 is next, schematic included, this is knit in pieces and has a simple rolled neck edge.  A good plain jumper.

A squared cushion is a tapestry piece inset into a cushion.  

Next up is a know-how piece on reading a pattern card and what their measurments are for each size etc.  Seeing as they use the French and European number sizing this is going to be useful if you're going to use this series at all.  They also include a list of reference abbreviations, I'd be inclined to get this laminated, or buy a second copy to do up a laminated version of this one and have it at the front of the collection.

Crochet basics are done as well, right-handed of course.  To round out the magazine there's a basic guide on Tapestry basic half-cross stitch and tent stitch. Both of which look the same on the front but there's a bit of a difference on the back.

So will I be buying it? The jury is still out, I'll probably buy the first three to see what happens, and to have the binder in case I impulse buy some more.  I do like the idea of one ball for the throw and one for another project.  This could be an interesting series to watch.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Beginner's Guide to Needlecrafts - review

Beginner's Guide to Needlecrafts - Charlotte Gerlings

Book DepositoryDublin City Public Libraries

This book covers Knitting, Crochet, Cross Stitch, Patchwork and sewing.

The First Section is on sewing and more specifically sewing with a sewing machine. There's a good piece on fabric and how it works and also on the basics of how a sewing machine works, and about how to choose one for you.

There are some projects and it's not a bad introduction to sewing, there's also a bit on how to read sewing patterns.

The next Section is on patchwork, again with ideas and advice with some projects and some patterns.

Cross stitch is next, again with some patterns and ideas and details some of the trick and tips of the trade.

Last section is Knitting & Crochet, starting with tools, then yarn, then reading knitting and crochet patterns, gauge or tension squares, a how to calculate quantity, a quick how-to (English style with no mention of continental style)

First project is a Toddler's Ribbed hat with turn-up and pompom (knit flat and seamed)
The emphasis in this section is in the basics but doesn't mention where you can go for patterns (well not that I noticed in a slightly quick flick through the book)

The crochet is the same, basics followed by two projects, a diagonal shell pattern and a granny square cushion.

Each section starts with tools of the trade and the fabric needed

This book would be good for someone looking to explore the basics of these different disciplines and would probably serve as a good quick reference book.  A new knitter or crocheter would probably outgrow it pretty quickly, if you want to investigate sewing though, the guide on using a machine is pretty good.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Knitted Toys review

 Knitted Toys by Zoe Mellor

  Book Depository; Ravelry; Dublin City Public Libraries
The book opens with some basics and then it has 3 sections, Knitting Pretty; Fun Favourites and Cute Creations.  Charts and templates are at the back of the book.

Knitting Pretty opens with Dress-up dolly which is a basic doll with plaits and a separate sleeveless dress.  Pieced individually and then sewn together (to be honest I'd do a chunk of it in the round to avoid all that seaming but that's me)

Airy Fairy is a doll with a sewn on skirt and wings.  There is a little too much emphasis on pretty in this one for me.

The Cat Pyjama Case is done in Pink, I would be inclined towards more natural colouring but that's me.  Colours are an easy fix, this could also be a pillow. Many seams and buttoned at the back.

Cow Cushion is another made in parts and sewn together piece, could also be a Pyjama case with some minor adaptation.

Cot Hanger Chick has felt eyes, beak and wings and is pretty predictable.

Boy Doll "Isn't it great to see a boy doll for a change?" yeah, but a lot of dolls are unisex and the gender is often because of clothing and hair, neither of which are the best gender markers.  He has a knitted in crop jumper and hat and removable trousers. One of the pictures has him with boxers which aren't detailed, again made in pieces, i.e. legs, arms, body. Making it a bit fiddly.

Squeaky Pig looks like he's ready for a swim in his shorts.

Finger Puppets are of Goldilocks and the Three bears but could be easily adapted for any story, very fiddly these ones as they're again made in pieces and seamed.  What is the allergy to knitting in the round for these?

Fun Favourites

Shiny Robot, ah lurex for a squishy toy, yeah, that would be a bit scratchy.  Boxy robot with some colour detail

Flat Ted "make a blue one for a boy or a soft pink for a girl, or just knit a plain brown one for a traditional look" save me from really early gendered markers  In this one the legs and body are made in one piece, only the arms are made separately.

Gingerbread man - felted and cut square of knitting.

Big-foot bunny - what it says, seams galore

Cheeky Monkey - long-armed and long-legged monkey

Floppy Dog, probably a good colourwork practice piece.  Not a bad looking toy, still too many seams.

Roaring Dinosaur - pretty basic shape, but with a lot of seams.

Cute Creations

Slithery Snake - this would be a perfect practice piece for Jogless stripes in the round, author likes seams.

Butterfly, wings lined with felt, this is another piece for Intarsia practice.

Jumbo Elephant - felt ears button eyes and knit in multiple pieces

Colourful Mice - this one could be knit for a pet, multiple seams.

Owl cushion relies on a lot of felt for wings and feathers.

Patchwork tortoise.  This one is for those who like seaming (and to be honest I wasn't all that impressed with the finishing on this one) I'd knit it modularly or in stripes to avoid as many of the seams as possible.

Dotty Dog is another intarsia project, again many seams.

Stripy Ball is a set of 6 sections seamed together.

Fish on the Line are a set of seamed small fish strung together as a decoration.

Lastly we have Snappy Crocodile who is as usual seamed and with a red knitted mouth and felt teeth.

The designer makes pieces and doesn't believe in knitting in the round, expect a lot of seaming or adaptation for this one.  I prefer my toymaking to have less fiddly seams and some of this could have been avoided with circular knitting, your mileage may vary, some of the patterns are quite cute.

Not a bad set of designs but it feels a bit unimaginative.