Saturday, 31 January 2015

My top tips for beginners to crochet....

Following on from my Crochet Book review last week I thought I would share some of my tips I picked up when learning to crochet.  Having only been crocheting for a year I still have a lot to learn but I thought I would share the tips that helped me and some of the things I learnt the hard way! I have also given you some resources from more experienced crocheters to check out....

So what do you need?....
The great thing about crochet is all you need is a ball of yarn and a hook (plus a pair of scissors would be useful) which makes it a great portable craft.  

  • There are many types and brands of yarn from the traditional crochet yarn to Super chunky weights.  A good weight for a beginner is a Double Knit (DK).  
  • Be warned though, the cheapest isn't always best as it may split, be itchy to work with or will leave your project looking naff and will put you off crochet and I'd hate for that to happen.
  • Don't use dark yarn as it is really difficult to see the stitches.

If you are new to using yarn, a top tip is to keep the label and tie a piece of yarn to it.  Yarn is dyed in batches and if you run out in the middle of a project it is better to buy from the same dye lot so you know the colours will match perfectly.

Crochet Hooks....
  • There are different types of hooks made from wood, metal or plastic and come in different sizes.  The size of hook you use will depend on the type of yarn and the technique you are using.
  • To start off I would recommend buying a 4mm Crochet hook which is a typical size to use with a DK yarn. If you prefer you can use a larger hook, the stitches will be bigger but you will be able see them easily whilst you get used to the technique.  Don't start with a hook smaller than 4mm. 
  • My advice is start learning with a good quality metal hook. I started with Boye Aluminum Crochet Hooks which were a gift and I still use them now.  Once you have learnt the basics you can try out other hooks, one of my favourites for large projects are the Clover Amour Crochet Hooks, they are so comfortable because of the soft, ergonomic grip but they are more expensive than other brands.
Crochet is repetitive and if you have the wrong tools it can be uncomfortable or worse painful, I got a blister from a hook that wasn't for me! So buy one that works for you.


Note British crochet terms are different to the US.  Make sure you know what pattern you are using otherwise it won't look like the picture, yep I did that! 
Simply Crochet has a conversion chart on their website as well as a chart for abbreviations.

More Helpful Crochet Tips....
  • The best projects to start with are making swatches and granny squares. Simply Crochet have a free app where each week a free granny square pattern is available to download check it out here (only available for iPhone and iPad).
  • Stop for breaks.  Crochet is repetitive and it is good to stop and wiggle your fingers and it's a good excuse to make a cuppa/grab cake/open wine* (*delete as appropriate)
  • A pattern may require a specific number of stitches and it will have the number of stitches you should have at the end of a row in brackets (). Make sure you count at the end of each row, it saves unravelling it later! I've done that so many times!
  • When working in the round use a stitch marker on the last stitch of each round to keep track of where it begins and ends.  Move the stitch marker to the end of each round as you go.
I asked Twitter for some top tips and Zoe from Floral and Feather, shared her link to her first project and her three top tips for beginners which you can find here. It was reassuring to see it wasn't just me who mixed up the US and UK crochet terms! 

Left Handed Crochet....

I was asked on Twitter for advice for lefties. I'm a rightie so I don't have personal experience but I searched on Pinterest (of course, who needs Google?!)  and I particularly liked this video. It has some good tips regardless of whether you are left or right handed.  I found a useful tip from this video is to think of it as your dominant hand rather than left or right.

The Little Soap Kitchen highly recommended this YouTube Video to me on Twitter.  After years of trying to learn left handed she cracked it in only an hour after watching this!

If there are any lefties out there who can offer more advice please leave them in the comments.

My main top tip for you is ....

....Perseverance! It took me a while to get my head around it but after a few weeks of determination and some tantrums it finally clicked!

avengers pointing - You should be Crocheting

Before I sign off here are some great resources to check out....

  • The review of my favourite Crochet book
  • Simply Crochet magazine 
  • Pinterest is a great source and I have a board dedicated to my love of crochet
  • The Deramores Blog has just started a How to Crochet series, check it out here
  • Kate has a free Crochet for Beginners eCourse just launched over on her blog Beak Up Crafts
  • You Tube is great source and it's free! If you are learning with UK crochet terms make sure you are watching a video using UK terms.  This may sound obvious but it's easy to get confused if you don't realise.

I follow lots of crochet blogs to be inspired and learn more. There are a lot out there, here are some of my favourites....
  • I love Attic 24 for the use of bright colours, free easy to follow patterns and inspiration.
  • Lara's lifestyle and crafty blog, Messyla, has a Learn to Crochet Series over on her blog
  • Twinkie Chan is fun and quirky, proving crochet is not old fashioned!
  • One Sheepish girl has beautiful photography and she has just launched a book with fun patterns.
I hope you find this helpful, if you crochet and would like to add some tips please feel free to leave them in the comments.

fizzi~jayne x

Disclaimer: Amazon links are affiliated

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Crochet Book Review....

Are you thinking of trying a new craft this year? Do you fancy having a go at Crochet?

If you have been reading this blog for a while you will know 2014 was the year I taught myself to Crochet and I love it! So I thought I would share with you some tips to get you started that I picked up as a beginner. I will have more practical tips in my next post but first I want to share with you my favourite Crochet Book ~ Crochet: The Complete Step-By-Step Guide~ and this is great for beginners....

I got this for my birthday which was 11 months after I started to teach myself and I wish I had this sooner. It has clear instructions taking you through the techniques and stitches.  It's in easy to follow step by step guides with clear photography with projects along the way so you can practise the stitches you have just learnt.  It covers the basics through to more adventurous techniques so even if you know the basics this book can help you improve your skills.

If you have been crocheting for a while this book has lovely projects in them. There are a lot of great patterns, including bags, toys, stuff to wear, accessories, home and gifts, blankets and cushions.  I don't think there is one I won't make at some point.  There are some great gift ideas in this book but my first project I made was for myself and I made this lap blanket....

Each pattern has a level of difficulty, so you can pick a project based on your ability.

The only down side is it's a hardback and it is so jam packed with projects, techniques and beautiful photography that it is a heavy book so it's not easy to throw in your bag and carry around.  This is a minor thing and doesn't stop me from loving it and recommending it.

Do you crochet, have you got a crochet book you would recommend?

fizzi~jayne x

Disclaimer: The Amazon links in this post are affiliated.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Lets do this 2015!....

So the past week has been time to catch up on the dull but necessary admin but I distracted myself by deciding what my goals will be for fizzi~jayne in 2015.  

I use the word goal instead of resolution, as goals need a plan of attack to make them happen and I need a plan otherwise I will have the same list in 2016!

I won't bore you with the details of my plans but I find having a list of tasks/steps needed to achieve a goal helps you break down a big task into smaller chunks that you can cross off, so you feel you are achieving as you work towards it. Well, that's the theory.

Anyway, here are my 2015 goals....

Organise my admin ~ Having spent a week under a pile of paper to sort out my tax return I now have a process in place that I need to stick to and keep on top of so by next January it's not so stressful.

Less procrastination ~ I want to be more efficient with my time and be able to do everything I need to as well as have time to develop creatively and as a business. I should read my own post from last year about time management! I found a great article on procrastination and I need to practice what it suggests!

Online ~ 2014 was a huge and exciting learning curve and I had great success with craft fairs and bespoke orders. My focus this year is to relaunch my online shops and grow that side of my business.

Blog ~ The survey I ran last year has really helped my plan for this blog.  I have planned more tutorials and techniques and I hope to show you more of behind the scenes as well as continuing with the types of posts you enjoy.

I have some personal goals too....

Read more ~ I love getting comfy with a cuppa and a good book to get lost in or learn from but I don't make enough time to read.  So I plan to read for at least 30 minutes every day and I have signed up for the Good Reads reading challenge.

Crafting ~ I am not planning to learn any more new crafts, I don't think I have the time, money or space for them!  Instead I want to learn more techniques and develop creatively in the crafts I already love. 

Lose weight ~  I've gained a lot of pounds since working from home! Weight loss is a common goal for January but I don't fit most of my clothes which is a problem so I have to do it! I have a friend's wedding as a target date and a dress in my wardrobe to wear when I am a healthier weight.

I haven't got a crazy long list as that would just look scary and unachievable, instead I'm focused on the important things which will help with my time management!

What are your goals/plans/resolutions for 2015? I'd love to hear about them and we can encourage each another. If you have blogged about them leave me a link in the comments, I'd love to read them.

fizzi~jayne x

I'm a member of running club to help with my weight loss goal and weather is not an excuse! This was on New Year's Eve.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

My Handmade Christmas....

Following on from my #CraftBlogClub Secret Santa reveal I thought I would share other gifts I made for Christmas.  

Do you remember the blanket I made for a friend's new baby? Well, it was her first Christmas so I made her a Christmas tree decoration as a memento.  I personalised it with her name and the year of her birth.  She's too young for it now but hopefully in a few years she will enjoy seeing it on the tree and in the meantime her parents can appreciate it. 

I love to make jewellery for gifts as it is the only time I really get to do this craft.

I made these earrings for my Sister-in-Law....

They were fiddly to make but I'm really pleased with the outcome and she loved them too.  I might make a pair for myself!

For my hubby on our wedding anniversary I made scrabble tile cufflinks, so I made some for his Dad and Brother....

I made this cute bookmark for my Mum....

My Mum loves elephants but they have to have their trunks up, apparently it's good feng shui. So I knew who this little fella would be for when I found him.

My friends and I don't give each other Christmas gifts but we do for birthdays and one of my friends has a birthday a couple of days before Christmas.  I decided to put together a gift based around Baileys hot chocolate, mmmm! I crocheted the mug hug using this pattern. I also made her one of my popular coasters to go with the chocolate theme.  The chocolate stirrer with marshmallows in the photo was from one of my fellow stall holders at New Milton, Fiona Ann Chocolates . Fiona's makes her chocolates and they are so yummy!

I crocheted other gifts....

A teapot cosy for my Brother-in-Law and his family.  The colour scheme was chosen to co-ordinate with their new kitchen.

I also hooked up a hair band for my 2 year old Niece and she kept it on so I guess she liked it!

I made this cactus for my husband's desk as a jokey gift. He had a real one but it died and when I came across a pattern for one in Simply Crochet magazine I had to make it!

and here he is in his new environment....

he has a nice view!

Everyone seemed happy with their handmade gifts which is a relief! I really enjoy making gifts, it makes them so much more personal and unique. The run up to Christmas is a busy time of year and at one point I was worried I wouldn't get them done in time! This year I have promised myself I will start much earlier but I'm sure I said that last year!!

fizzi~jayne x

Saturday, 3 January 2015

#CraftBlogClub Secret Santa Reveal....

Happy New Year! 

I hope the year has started well for you.  Do you have any resolutions? I have goals I want to achieve this year and I'm thinking about what I am going to do to make them happen, but more of that another time.  I have Christmassy things I want to share with you, first off is the #CraftBlogClub Secret Santa....

In November last year, my co-host Katie launched #CraftBlogClub Secret Santa Challenge, obviously I signed up straight away!

I received my gift from Kay the week before Christmas but I couldn't wait to open these goodies....

They were beautifully wrapped

Kay sent me a lovely package, as well as a very pretty handmade card she also made a Christmas decoration for my tree....

The stocking suited my colour scheme perfectly and looked so pretty on my tree. I loved the bell on it too.  This will make an appearance every year on my tree alongside the Secret Santa I received last year

Kay is from Cornwall and also in my present was a Cornish Piskie....

I have put him in my purse with the hope he brings me wealth!

This is not all, Kay also sent me some yummy Cornish chocolate, Christmas pudding flavour Mmmmm! I did wait until after Christmas to eat it but it did go in one sitting!

Thank you Kay! I loved my Secret Santa!

You can check out Kay's crafty blog here, but before you do, check out the Secret Santa gift I made....

My Secret Santa was for Zoe...

After doing some research on her blog and agonising over what to do for a while I decided to make her one of my coasters.  Zoe loves baking as well as craft and I was inspired by her baking posts so I made this coaster....

I also made her this Christmas card and sent a couple of candy canes, because they are just so Christmassy

It is always a little nerve racking making a gift for someone you don't know but I was happy to read she was pleased with her gift, phew! You can find out what she thought of it over on her blog, here.

#CraftBlogClub chats are every Tuesday from 7pm (GMT). 2015 is going to be an exciting year for #CraftBlogClub, we have guest hosts and more super challenges planned, it's going to a lot of crafty fun!

fizzi~jayne x

Psst.... I can't wait to see what you have created, so what are you waiting for?! The linky is live below and ready for your Secret Santa posts.