Bullet Journalling and Crochet

Hi everyone.  Today I want to talk about another hobby of mine:  bullet journalling.  I use my bullet journal to keep track of all sorts of things, from how much water I drink daily to my crochet projects.

2018-03-19 14.07.17

I currently use a Moleskin journal with dotted pages and have an embarrassingly large collection of pens, washi tape and other decorative things.  I’ve also just ordered a Leuchturm journal from the USA.  Things are getting serious!

Since this blog is about crochet let me share with you my crochet pages.  First up my list of WIPs.  I have this habit of starting WIPs at a near constant rate, so putting them in a list brings home just how many there are, and makes me feel accountable to myself to get them finished.  I even have a knitting WIP.  I also have a list of techniques I’d like to try so that they are not just wishful thinking.

2018-03-19 13.28.25

Next up is my list of crochet projects I have managed to not begin, but do want to list so I don’t forget about them.  I buy so many patterns I find the number I have too obscene to share, but largely I forget about them unless I actually scroll through them when looking for something new.  This list keeps the projects I want to do first front and centre.2018-03-19 14.05.28

There are so many ways to bullet journal, and the beauty of it is that it can be as creative (or not) as you like.  You can keep track of whatever you like, put in your favourite quotes, pictures, whatever really.  I find I don’t really use planners all that much, but this has proven a very useful tool.  I even keep track of medical issues so that when I see my specialist I am able to share with him exactly how things have been that month.

There is an immense body of inspiration out there. Pinterest, YouTube, and SkillShare all have excellent ideas and tutorials.  All you need is a dotted or grid journal, some pens, a little imagination and you’re good to go.

Go on.  You know you want to give it a try.

 

 

Hello! It’s been a while…

Good morning to you all from a sunny Free State in South Africa.  I haven’t been around for a very long while.  It’s been quite the roller coaster.  I started my shop The Funky Sheep Shop and am loving the interaction with customers.  It’s hard work, but really worthwhile.

What I haven’t had so much is a chance to chat to you as regularly as before, which really needs to be righted.  I’ve got so many gorgeous products in my shop, but the one that really has my eye at the moment is the Stylecraft Batik Swirl.  It is a divine cake made up of colours from the Stylecraft Batik collection, and I can’t wait to make something gorgeous.  Not too long ago I used the Batik yarn to create a Willow Blanket, which came out wonderfully.

2017-10-16 19.32.16.jpg

Now I need ideas for something a little different.  The Batik Swirl is 200g / 550m of 20% wool and 80% premium acrylic in DK weight.  It is lovely and soft, and I love how the colours are muted.  They come in six colourways at present.

They are Blue Ocean, Foxglove, Poppy Field, Purple Mist, Rainbow and Stargazer.  I hardly know which to choose first.  I’m mostly drawn to the Blue Ocean and am thinking a scarf.  The 200g ball should make a rather nice scarf and the wool content will ensure it is gorgeous and warm for winter.  It’s the dog days of summer at the moment, and we are having some pretty warm days, but the mornings and evenings are just cool enough to suggest that winter is not too far away.  Here in the Eastern Free State it can get to -16, so lovely woolly accessories are never a waste.

What have you made with this gorgeous yarn?  Please share your makes.

That’s it for today folks.  Wishing you all a super day.

G

 

 

Playing Hooky

Today I’d like to chat about crochet hooks.  In many of the crochet groups I belong to on Facebook people regularly post asking what people’s favourite crochet hooks are.  There is so much variety out there it can certainly be very difficult to find the perfect hook for you.

I’d like to share with you my thoughts on some of the hooks I’ve tried and narrow it down to my favourites.  I’m not going to get terribly technical about the hooks themselves though, let’s keep it casual.  (If you’d like a very technical post about hooks, please let me know.)

The first, and very important, thing to know about hooks is the two basic head types.

2017-11-08 09.19.16

The image above depicts the two basic head types, namely tapered (top) and inline.  You can see that the tapered hook has a much much gentler curve into the throat and a more softly pointed head.  The inline hook has a sharply cut out throat and pointier head.

What makes them different to work with?  Well, for starters they tend to grip stitches differently, with the inline hook grabbing stitches easily and holding them better.  It can however, with its pointy head, tend to split yarns such as cotton, which can be infuriating.  I also find that unless you’re prepared to pay quite a lot of money, it can be hard to find ergonomic hooks in the inline format (in South Africa).  I also find that my tension varies when using inline hooks, and my stitches come out a little bigger.  This is a very important factor to bear in mind if you are using an inline hook for items where gauge is important, such as clothing.  I will admit that I do have a soft spot for inline hooks and like using them, but with my arthritic hands and limited budget I can’t find good ones here in South Africa without being prepared to shell out a fortune, with our weak Rand and hefty customs.  I would love a set of Furls Odyssey hooks…but for now that’s just a dream.

Then we get to the tapered hooks.  I wasn’t terribly enamored with them to begin with but I soon grew to like this format when I started buying better hooks.  The pointiness of the head can vary, and this must be born in mind for yarns that split easily, so if you find that your yarn is splitting try changing to a hook with a rounder head.  If you crochet quite tightly you may find that a pointier head works better for you, and that you struggle to push the hook into your stitches if you have a hook with a rounder head.

Needless to say I’ve tried a lot of hooks.  I must add that I work with a knife grip, and not a pencil grip, so I can’t really evaluate how hooks fare with the latter. Below is a selection of the hooks I’ve used:

2017-11-08 09.24.36

Let’s look at them individually, starting from the left.

First up is the Clover Soft Touch.  There is simply no way to say this nicely, so I’m just going to say it:  this is a terribly ugly hook.  I don’t like anything about the way it looks.  My hands are medium size and yet I find this hook too short, and am irritated by the fact that it digs into my palm a little.  As for performance, however, it is a very good hook.  It has a tapered head and slides easily through your work, and has a nice long shaft.  I purchased this hook from Arthur Bales in Linden, Johannesburg.

Next up the Susan Bates hook with a bamboo handle.  I love the inline head on this hook, and find the way it grips stitches pleasing.  I did find, however, that the handle is quite hard, and if used for a few hours I would definitely start to feel signs of hand fatigue.  The shaft, while long enough for doing stitches that are loaded on the hook, such as large decreases, it is too long for me to work very comfortably.  This hook can be purchased from Amazon if you are in South Africa.

Then we have the Addi Colours hook.  I liked this hook, and found that even though the handle was hard plastic, it wasn’t at all uncomfortable and I was able to crochet for a number of hours without hand fatigue.  The aluminium part of the hook is lovely and smooth, and the shaft is the perfect length if you need to load stitches for a decrease, or are doing entrelac crochet.  Conveniently the hooks are colour coded for quick identification, and the size is stamped into the hook.  The Addi Colours hook is tapered. In South Africa you can buy Addi hooks from Skapie.

The next hook is also an Addi hook, the Addi Swing.  This is quite a big hook, with a long handle.  At first it feels a little odd to hold, and you may find it takes a few rows or rounds of crochet to get used to it, but once you find it easier to work with it is a comfortable hook with little to no hand fatigue after a few hours.  My only criticism of this hook is the short shaft.  I find that inconvenient for big decreases.  The Addi Swing is a tapered hook.  Like the Addi Colours, the Swing hooks are also colour coded.  The Addi Swing is also available from Skapie.

The Crochet Lite hook is an interesting one. It has a small LED in the shaft that lights up the hook and is perfect for crocheting at night, or when you are working with hard to see colours, such as black or navy.  It certainly has the gimmick factor, and I wouldn’t really use it as my everyday hook, but for those hard to see colours it works nicely.  It was surprisingly smooth, and has a well proportioned shaft and handle.  It is a tapered hook. They are fairly readily available in South Africa at your local yarn store.

Next is the KnitPro bamboo hook.  As a general rule wooden hooks, like plastic, are not my favourite.  There are times, however, when they are very useful.  Firstly they are light, which makes them perfect for larger size hooks, where even aluminium would be too heavy.  They are smooth, but not quite as smooth as aluminium, which means that when crocheting yarns such as silk or other very slippery materials they hold the yarn better.  This is a tapered hook with a deep throat.  KnitPro hooks are available from Arthur Bales or KnitPro stockists.

The last hook above is the KnitPro Waves hook.  This is the hook I learned to crochet on, and it was a good one to start with.  It is a comfortable tapered hook, and gives nice even stitches.  The shaft is long enough, although the handle could be just slightly longer.  It prices extremely competitively against other ergonomic hooks, and stacks up well in terms of quality too.

Which brings me, at last, to my two favourite hooks:  The Tulip Etimo Rose and Clover Amour hooks.

2017-11-08 09.26.53

Both of the above are extremely well made Japanese hooks.  Both are tapered hooks, with incredibly smooth shafts of a good length.  The handles are silicone and tremendously comfortable to use for lengthy periods, so you can really undertake a crochet marathon with these.  These hooks are both at the expensive end of the spectrum, especially the Tulip, but they are worth every single penny.  I use the Tulip hook as my everyday hook, and the Clover Amour is my fallback hook.  The handles, being quite matte, are prone to getting a little grubby, but good old soap and water has them in pristine condition again with no effort.  The Clover Amour hooks are colour coded and as a bonus have the size stamped into the hook, so no worried about them coming off.  The Tulip hooks are various shades of pink and have the size stuck on, which is a bit of a worry, although in the year I’ve been using them every day, I have had no scruffing of the sticker at all.  You won’t be sorry if you try these hooks.  They are without doubt the gold standard of crochet hooks.  You can buy the Tulip Etimo Rose hooks from Amazon if you’re  in South Africa (look out for specials, they are often discounted).  The Clover Amour hooks can be bought locally from Be Inspired.

Thank you for reading.  I hope this post has helped you in the decision of which hooks to make your go-to hook.

It’s a busy time of year 🎄

I haven’t been around for a bit as I was in hospital for a week receiving treatment for my lupus, which is in rather a vicious mood.  The benefit of being stuck in a hospital bed was it gave me a lot of time to plan and crochet a bit.

2017-10-24-19-01-45.jpg

I’m working on Christmas decorations, and just love the Christmas angel that I have designed freehand.  She’s still a work in progress and needs wings, arms and a halo.  I’m also going to crochet Christmas baubles and make little beaded trees.  It’s all terribly Christmasy.  I’ve crocheted the angel in the amigurumi style. which gives a nice tight fabric for holding stuffing without any peeking through.  Amigurumi is so much fun!  It’s lovely to see the characters appear beneath your fingers.

There is also some very exciting news.  I will be opening an online shop, that will showcase my work and that of other local crochet artists, as well as other handmade crafts.  I can’t wait to tell you more!

And that’s it for today.  Please share your makes and plans for a crochet Christmas.  🎄