Thursday, 29 June 2017

Yarn Review - Stylecraft Classique Cotton DK

Hello beautiful people and welcome to my Stylecraft classique cotton DK yarn review.
Now for a long time I've struggled to work with cotton yarn, I mean I have used it but always felt like it was so stiff, hard, the strands split, it was stiff to push my hook through etc. It just wasn't living up to the hype!
I've tried drops yarn, lily sugar and cream, and Rico creative cotton in the past, but I just, for want of a better phrase, can't get down with them.
When I first ventured into cotton yarn the promises from other patterns and websites were softness, natural cool fibres for summer, and many people said it was a joy to work with. So imagine my disappointment when these yarns just didn't live up to the hype. Don't get me wrong I'm not 'dissing' any of the yarns above, I love the colours sugar n cream offer, and the drops price tag is fab, but they jut aren't my cup of tea. 
So this year I made it my mission to find a cotton yarn I love.
Now in my posts you'll no doubt have heard me harp on about how much I love Stylecraft yarn. It's no lie, I do, most of the yarn I buy is Stylecraft, so it was only natural I tried a Stylecraft cotton yarn next. Would my faithful trusty yarn brand let me down? Well let's find out shall we.

Ok let's start with the obvious, it's a 100% cotton yarn, in a 50g ball. 92 meters or 100 yards of DK cottony goodness. The packaging leaves a bit to be desired (yes I'm fickle I want my yarn labels to be as pretty as the yarn!) but it's not the worst out there by any means, and it's simple, and let's face it fancy packaging means bigger cost so I'll let it slide! This yarn is as I've said double knit cotton, so requires a 4mm hook to work up. 
Look and feel

Looks wise (its like yarn dating!) the yarn has a bit of a sheen to it, not in a ghastly way, more in a polished, I'll make your project look radiant kind of way, and the colours of the strands is very consistent and vibrant. Once worked up the stitches are very vibrant, and clear, the work looks very neat and uniformed and each individual stitch shines. I can see this being great used in a pattern with more intricate detailing. The colour is bold and eye catching, even in the darker shade, and this is consistent both as a ball and once worked up. 
There's no doubt this yarn is soft. When the package arrived and I pulled the balls from the bag, I was expecting a hard feeling rough ball, you can imagine my surprise when I picked up this silky, soft ball instead. As a ball it's soft and super squidgy (like a yarn stress ball!) in a yarn store I would definitely buy it on feel alone. Once worked up the piece is still very soft and not at all stiff. It has a slight elasticity to it and I can imagine it would feel great against the skin made up into a garment.

Ease of use

Now I said before, my bad experiences of cotton partially come from the splitting yarn or stiffness when crocheting, but there was none of this with good old Stylecraft. Don't get me wrong, when pulling my stitches tight (I crochet tightly, I'm not sure why it's just my style) I could feel that familiar stiffness I'd found with other yarns, so I was apprehensive. However the my hook just slid through the stitches with ease, gliding in and out like they were a match made in heaven! No splitting yarn here either, I hooked up my whole piece (yes it's not ginormous but still!) without encountering one split in the yarn, and no snagging on splitting yarn when pulling through stitches, what a joy.
The yarn also didn't fluff to much with handling. This is particularly important for me as I'm using it to make teething products, and fluff is rough when you're chewing on it.
Another plus, no stretching strands. Again this is due to my style, I'm forever pulling the strands to keep my work tight, and occasionally you get the yarn that stretches so the strand is 5 times thinner than when you started. Not here though. Here it seems consistency is key.
Colour choice

As you can see the brightness of the colours is not a problem at all. There are however only 28 shades to choose from, which isn't many if you consider paintbox yarns 56 shades or DMC's 73. This as the case may be there is in my opinion one of every colour, and the colours are bright and consistent throughout the ball, you just don't get as much choice when it comes to shade.

Finally we come to the price. I bought my yarn here as at the time if you spent £30 on yarn you got 30% off! Which is a whopping great discount. The yarn is currently retailing on the site for £2.45 which when you shop around is the average price. It's not the cheapest on the market by all means, but equally it's not the most expensive either (some cottons retail at £4+!) and yes I'm stingy when it comes to spending! It's a good mid range price, and in my opinion well worth paying for. 

If you look below you'll find a handy pros and cons list.
As you can see I made up a super cute baby teether (bunny ears are adorable!) to test out the yarn. I was particularly drawn to cotton this year as I do want to expand to sell baby items in particular, so I thought what better tester to make than a mini bunny teether.
I have to say worked up id be happy to give this to my own child (if she wasn't 5 going on 15!) its very soft to touch, yet feels durable, and no doubt will soak up all that gorgeously gooey baby saliva!!!
Happy hooking from down the rabbit hole X

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Literary Yarns by Cindy Wang - Crochet Book Club

Hello my beauties, and welcome to the crochet book club!
Each month I will be reading and reviewing a crochet book, and inviting you to join along the way, (this also gives me an excuse to buy a new book 😉).
So this months book is (drum roll please)....................................Literary Yarns by Cindy Wang.
So as you all know I love Amigurumi, if you follow me on instagram you'll know I especially love little cuties, and this is what this book brings in abundance.
I got my copy from Amazon I love Amazon (no shameless plugs here as im not an affiliate), I just love their service, range of products, and that if you spend just £10 on books they will deliver for free! Yes you heard correct free!
So anyway about the author. Cindy Wang hosts a well known blog called the Geeky Hooker, and crochets amigurumi characters in abundance (I especially love her Harley Quinn character). I love the fact that this lady has stayed true to her crafter spirit. Her blog is simple yet packed to the brim with great pictures of her lovely characters. She's all about the 'using what you got', in fact on her blog FAQ in answer to the question what yarn do you use she states 'whatever's cheap and in the right colour' so proving you can crochet successfully on a budget.
Cindy also does a 'critter drop' where she leaves her crochet buddies around cities for people to find and give her a shout if they do. Not only a crafter but sharing her craft too.
So lets get onto the book.
I believe every good crochet book needs a good cover, as a crocheter im all about being drawn in by great images of things that I didn't know up until that point but im desperate to make (yes im fickle!), but I also believe a great image can draw you in, and once you're in the pages the content should allow you to inform your decision. The cover makes you pick the book up, for a writer that's half the battle, its the content that sells the book.
This cover shows off some of the great cute lil characters you will get to crochet if you buy this book, and a good range of them too, everything from Alice in wonderlands white rabbit, too Frankenstein.
There's a fabulous array of character patterns to crochet here. Dorothy, the tin man, the lion and the scarecrow from the wizard of Oz, the white rabbit from Alice in wonderland, and Quasimodo and Esmeralda from the hunchback of Notre Dame to name just a few.
The patterns each have a great photography full page set up to show of the characters and show you what you could potentially end up with. There's also a page dedicated to materials, and tips on how best to work up the piece.
The instructions in the book are well written, and easy to follow. Each character and body part is clearly sectioned, and labelled, and for the really tricky techniques not only has Cindy added a comprehensive picture tutorial at the front of the book, she also adds in a photo tutorial when patterns have tricky pieces.
I especially love the hair tutorials. When I first started making amigurumi dolls I struggled so much with different types of hair. The images here and step by step instructions are great, easy to follow and very informative, with a broad range of ideas.

As you can see from one of my images I've already made a character from the book, Moby Dick, from the book Moby Dick. I kinda took the easy route here, in the respect im so used to making amigurumi animals and not people. But I also didn't have any of the colours required for the people (needless to say I completed a nice order of yarn with shortly after ordering the book!).
Moby Dick was super easy to work up, and not just from my point of view as an experienced hooker, but from a beginners view, it came with ease and simplicity. Basic stitches that a beginner could use and practise whilst working up Moby Dick, or in fact any of the characters.
If you love amigurumi, books, and little plush characters this book is definitely for you. If you're just starting out and want to enhance your amigurumi skills this book is for you too! In fact its a great book for both the seasoned crocheter and dabbling crafter alike. It oozes cuteness, the patterns are well explained and easy to follow, and the images are a delight to look at. It gets a big thumbs up from me each time I turn the pages. Well done Cindy Wang!
Thank you all for reading, and join me for the next crochet book club next month.
Happy Hooking from down the rabbit hole x

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Crochet Tutorial - Paris Stitch

Hello happy hookers and welcome to my first tutorial >insert happy dance here!<.

At the weekend by lovely partner in crime (or the other half!) was meandering around town when he saw this super old book in one of our local charity shops (yes we frequent them I mean do you know how many old people donate yarn and hooks these days). 
He said he instantly thought of me and I can see why. It's a gorgeous old needlecraft book filled to the brim with vintage macrame, crochet, and embroidery to name just a few. I instantly flicked to the crochet section and was greeted with lots of black and white drawings of techniques and stitches. Uninspiring to some, but to me I knew they needed to be colour!
So I picked a stitch, the Paris stitch to be precise, and set to hooking.
This stitch is super easy, great for a beginner to add texture and pattern to a simple piece, and it's divisible by three (maths is not my strong point!), so mathematically relatively easy.

Without further ado, let's begin.

You will need;

Any yarn you desire - I have used Stylecraft Acrylic DK in both Cream and Fiesta (cool name right?).
A hook that is suitable for your yarn and project, I used a 4mm metal hook because that's the hook I prefer that matches my yarn, and because this is just a swatch.

Crochet terminology (written in UK terms)

Ch- Chain
DC- Double Crochet
Tr - Treble Crochet
That's it, 3 stitches (told you it was easy)
  1. Chain your desired length, the length of chains must be divisible by three plus one. I chained 22 (21 which is divisible by three sevens times, plus 1 makes 22). Once you have your number, ch an extra 3.
Now here I have a total of 25 chains (my number divisible by 3 which is 21, plus 1 equals 22, plus the ch 3 at the end, ta da 25 chains.
2. Turn, work the following in the 4th ch from the hook (1tr, ch2, 1dc). You should have something that looks like the below.
3. *Skip 2 ch spaces and crochet the following into the next ch (2tr, ch2, 1dc). Repeat from * to the end of the row (you will crochet the last set of stitches in the last chain space.
Now at this point I will forgive you for thinking, wow what a crumpled mess, but don't worry, the more rows you add in this stitch, the more the work straightens out, (it should look something like the below).
But if you uncurl it .....
4. Ch 3 and turn your work. The next part is a tad tricky in that you have to locate the correct space to work into, and all of the stitches are quite close together. You are going to work 1tr, ch2, 1dc into the ch2 space of the previous row. It's the space directly after the two trebles (larger stitches). Ive tried to demonstrate on the below picture.
5.*Into the next ch2 space from the previous row crochet the following (2tr, ch2, 1dc). Repeat along the row from * to the end, finishing up in the last ch2 space.
Quick note here, you will notice that all of the ch2 spaces are semi circles on the work, they produce what looks like an arc and this makes them easier to notice if you are struggling to se them.
Now hopefully your work should look like this. Repeat the last row until you have the desired length for your project. I Changed up my colour in the 5th row to cream (for an easy colour change technique this is the technique I use), and then back again a few rows later. I think the change and contrast in colour really makes the stitch pop.
Finally weave in your ends (like I did! Not!).
I love the simplicity of this stitch, and that ven though it is simple, it gives great texture and complexity in your crochet. I mean its 3 fricking stitches! How much more simple can you get?!
If you enjoyed this tutorial please check me out on social media.
 Happy Hooking from down the rabbit hole x

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Crochet Summer Patterns Roundup

Hello Lovelies I hope you're having a fabby day. Todays post is going to look at the season I think most of us look forward to, summer!
I think the majority of people will agree there's nothing better than waking up to the sun shining and the feel of the warmth on your skin. with this in mind I've curated a collection of crochet patterns (all free!) that I feel are the must haves for the summer season.
There's patterns for everyone here, kids clothing and accessories, hats, sandals, and what I believe is a beach essential, a gorgeous summer bag to carry everything in.
 Lets delve in and see what the season has in store, (click the link title above each pic for the patterns).

Aren't these delightful?! The pattern (if you're used to making granny squares) is super easy and they look effortlessly stunning (of course we all wish we had great legs for these!), and they can be made in whichever colour you please, and so customised to your tastes, or outfit. They are also easily and quickly worked up, you could make a pair to match every outfit, and they wont weigh an ounce in your luggage (now that's a win right?). You can also adapt these for the mini me's in your life and if the feeling takes you have matching outfits! The possibilities with these are almost endless, I love them!

Now this isn't really a pattern a beginner would want to take on. The construction although not to complex has to be precise, and may be complicated for a beginner. The diamond pattern in the dress is gorgeous, and perfect for those hot days, covered and cool, and great with or without shorts. The instructions are super detailed (as is the sizing guide), and I am a big fan of 1dogwoof (those jellyfish!), her tutorials are always very easy to follow and very detailed. This is a great wardrobe staple for the kiddos, and again can be made in any colour that takes your fancy.

Now im sure you'll all most certainly have heard of the gorgeous Miki at SFMGS (if not where have you been! check her out here). I am in love with her instagram feed, and love the patterns she produces. They are bright and instantly make you smile. So I could not curate a summer pattern roundup without including her in it.
These granny square shorts again if you're familiar with grannys are super easy to work up and quick. The construction is a little more complicated, however the detailed pictures will help you along, and the beauty about these is that you can adjust the size to you, bigger size bigger granny square, making it for the kiddos, smaller granny square, it is that simple!
Another great thing about this pattern is that its featured on the hobbycraft blog, so you can instantly add all of the required materials to your basket, click them to your door and voila you're ready to go.

Now we all need a stylish yet practical pair of sunglasses in summer. So why not have a stylish yet practical case to go with them. This pattern compromises of two elements, the case, and the daisy flap. The case is super easy and suitable for beginners, a beginner may struggle with the flap, however the instructions are great and detailed, and this is a photo tutorial (this always helps me so I know what the piece looks like at each stage) so I think as a beginner you would be fine. There are also links to techniques that you may struggle with which is great.
Isnt this case so cute?! I'll deffinatley be hooking up one of these.

So you're enjoying the sun in the garden on a hot day, you glance over to your gorgeously decorated garden, and the added accents that this jar cover brings. Yes, these jar covers make great indoor and outdoor décor for summer, add a tealight for the summer evenings to really make them shine.
This is a downloadable PDF pattern (free on Love Crochet but you will need to sign up to the website).
The tutorial is very detailed, and has lots of great images. Very easy to follow and all stitches and colour changes are explained effectively. It looks great too, I love how bright this is, and also how the designer explains how to change up or down the size to fit your desired jar.

I love! colour, as you probably already know. Fruits and kitsch décor like the above are so hot right now, that I couldn't not add this in. This crochet pillow will look great on any deck chair, hammock, bench, the list goes on, and is so bright and welcoming!
The pattern is made in the round, and compromises of a few simple sticthes. Construction is relatively easy, and the tutorial has some great images and instruction. The toggle buttons, as explained in the tutorial, can be replaced with sequins, embroidery etc, and its so cute!
The good thing about this pattern is that its made using bulky yarn and a large hook so works up quickly and your stitches are easier to see, not only that is once you have mastered crocheting in the round you could make all sorts of fruits, lemons, oranges, etc. and have a suer fruit array of cushions.

7. Crochet Sunhats - Girls - Watermelon Sunhat by Repeat Crafter Me
I know, I know, another watermelon, but isn't this adorable, im sure its forgiven if its adorable, right? Another Crochet Queen here, Sarah Zimmerman from Repeat Crafter Me. I love her site and her tutorials, and her work is stunning, so its no surprise that ive chosen one of her patterns as part of this roundup.
Sarah's hats are all amazing, and I especially love this one. As with all of he hat tutorials theres is abroad range of sizes and instructions to choose from, and all of the instructions are clear and detailed. Even adding the beads in to the brim should be a doddle with her guided instructions. Another fab project for summer.

Another cute pattern, I wanted to add a boys pattern as you see soooo many girls sunhats on Pinterest, it seems like the boys are always left out, right?
This pattern again is adorable, and the designer states that its very quick to work up, with no sewing involved! Yay! Skill level is for beginner/advanced here, the front post single crochet stitch is used (FPSC) and a half double crochet together (HDC2tog) so I would ensure you are familiar with these stitches before attempting this. This hat is only in newborn size im afraid, but would be easily adapted to fit a larger head.

These are cuties aren't they? I love baby sandals, they look incredibly sweet, but alas I have no recipient for such things so very rarely make them. Baby sandals aren't a favoured beginner project as they take a bit more skill (working in an oval, attaching complex bits, fiddly stitches etc) however don't let me put you off, i'm deffo a big believer in perseverance!
So onto the pattern, the instructions are well written and staged so that no detail is missed. The pattern uses cotton yarn (which is a given for summer sandals) and three hook sizes, so please do read carefully when you require a change in hook. Don't forget to make 2 also!

Is this not the most gorgeous bag?! I love the colours used (note the phrase 'taupe is dope' is used here!), the nautical rope detailing of the handle, the gold eyelets that the handle is fed through, the stitch used, its just amazing, and the fact its designed by one of my favourite bloggers of all time makes it an instant hit with me.
The bag itself starts with simple stitches to form the foundations, then progresses with griddle stitch, this stitch is super easy to learn and works up fast too., and handily theres a tutorial link to it in the pattern for those of you unfamiliar with the stitch (she's a superstar that sewrella!). Even adding the eyelets wouldn't put of a beginner as the instructions are so well written a great pattern for summer, and to stuff all those beachy essentials in.

I love crochet flowers, and I didn't think it would be right to do this roundup without including some.
Here we have them, a super cute, very festival-ish (that's not a word I know) daisy headband, exuding all things summer, and a great addition to any outfit.
Daisies are probably my fave flower, they're versatile and cute and this is great because it can be made for little and large heads alike.
Both headbands are suitable for a beginner, and what's great is you can adapt these quite easily to make them into necklaces, bracelets, anklets, you name it.
A bonus here too, you get two patterns when you download this, the patterns are free but you do have to create an account to access them, however its well worth it as there's loads of great free patterns on this site.

There we have it. A selection of great summer essentials, now go forth and buy yarn!

For a handy place to see all of the patterns together visit my pinterest board here.

Happy Hooking from down the rabbit hole x

Friday, 2 June 2017

Simply Crochet Issue 58 Review and Sneaky Peek


*Disclaimer - I am in no way affiliated or associated with Simply Crochet, all opinions are my own, and this is merely a review article, all photos taken of the magazine are my own, original publications belong to Simply Crochet Magazine*

Hello All And welcome to this sneaky peek (for those of you yet to get this issue) and review of Simply Crochet issue 58.
I loooove the Simply Crochet magazine and have been a subscriber now for round about 18 months. It has everything, chatter, free patterns (on everything too from amigurumi to tennis sweatbands!), book recommendations. Its like a blog in print format shoved through my letterbox every month (possibly the happiest mail I get :D)
For more information on where to subscribe (its so worth it and ive rooted out some great deals!) read on to the end of the post :)
So lets get stuck in to the nitty gritty.
Here is this months gorgeous and fresh front cover, and free gift! This month the magazine comes with 5 yes 5 free bamboo crochet hooks. This months mag is worth it for the freebie alone I mean where can you buy a set of 5 decent bamboo hooks ranging from 3mm to 8mm for under £5.99???
Before you all comment, I know im a hook missing in the picture. I just couldn't wait to start using them and neglected to return the hook for the picture as its currently working up a 50's headband (more on that later!)
This issue is so vibrant and summery with some gorgeous patterns (notice the amigurumi on the top left!) so lets have a nosy inside
This gorgeous boho style headband is part of the large pattern preview that is found at the front of most Simply Crochet magazines. Designed by Simone Francis,  i love the colour pops of the feathers, and the techniques are so easy that again a beginner could cpmplete this. The accessories here are also so on trent right now, and whats better than an on trend accessory? Why one that you've made yourself of course!
 Couldn't you just eat this!!?? This is a super cute doughnut tunic designed by the fabulous Frank and Olive. This pattern looks soooo adorable, I love the contrast of the colour against the grey and its marked as easy peasy on the pattern! So for all you beginners out there you've got your free hooks and pattern all you need is your yarn! Simply crochet have also added a nifty 'Save or Splurge' box to the pattern which tells you where you can buy a cheaper alternative yarn! Now that's my kind of pattern.

Next one of my favourite parts of the mag, the journal from a designer and maker. This month is Kats Journal. Kat Goldin makes her living out of crochet, and I love the insight she brings into everything she writes about. Here super gorgeous (no exaggeration here its simply divine!) website slugs on the refrigerator can be found here.
This month Kat comments on how her business and livelihood are based of a skill that she doesn't necessarily practice everyday and how its important to genuinely enjoy what you do.
The colours in Kats pictures are simply devine and remind me of the beazch or a deep sea lagoon.
she's a very skilled woman and an inspiration to me. I love her notions and insight and not only is she a very skilled crocheter but also a great writer too, I have to say she's a very inspiring woman.
A fairly new section to the mag next, the Hook to Hook section. In this section a yarn is selected each month, and two fabulous designers are asked to make something from the yarn. You the reader then get to vote for your favourite on Instagram, and this month its my favourite subject AMIGURUMI!!!
Just look at the cuteness we are dealing with here! Super cute penguin vs. super cute ice cream, I swear it made my eyes pop when I saw this!
This months designers are Erinna Lee, co-owner of Bubbles and Bongos on Etsy, with stunning dolls, and animals that will make you instantly fall in love her Etsy store is well worth checking out (you can find it here).
The second designer and another fantastically skilled crocheter is Jennifer Santos. Jennifer is the face behind super cute design, and the name does not disappoint, if you have a click over to her etsy shop you'll notice the gorgeous use of colour, and how she takes simple designs and makes them so adorable (I especially love the unicorn doughnuts!). Due to the detail in these patterns I'd not recommend them for the beginner, and do note they are worked in a small hook which can be fiddly but soooo worth it :).
Who doesn't love a good yarn review? Its coming up to summer time, and you're wondering, what is the best linen yarn to keep garments and accessories cool and comfortable. well this month Simply crochet have put together a guide of Linen yarns in their yarn review section.

 there's six yarns here to choose from in these beautiful neutral colours (I'm thinking neutral boho headband with a pop of flower power colour!), and a leaf motif pattern made in all natural fibres, from the yarns reviewed so you can see how they work up into a finished product.
The price range on these is also great, as you'll guess I'm a bit frugal when it comes to all aspects of life, so I love the fact I can buy a skein of yarn with natural fibres for as little as £1.65.
So I come to my last little tid bit for you to peruse, the mandala at the back section. Each month Simply Crochet publishes a mandala at the back of the magazine, and each month they delight with pops and splashes of colour and gorgeous intricate design. This month does not disappoint.
Designed by the lovely Lucy Croft who's a regular designer and featured often in the magazine (you can find her Ravelry page here). Hooked in delectable King Cole cotton yarn and is marked as easy peasy according to the mags rating system. You can also find more mandalas if you order back issues of the magazine, as they launched this selection in the new year to match their calendar for 2017.
So there you have it, your sneak peek of Simply Crochet issue 58. Now I did promise that I would root out the best subscription deals for you, so here we go.
*All deals and promotions correct at time of publication*
I currently subscribe via Immediate Media. They have a great deal at the moment, you can buy 3 issues for £5, that's 3 issues for the price of not even one (each issue is £5.99 in shops). They also have a fantastic offer on a 12 month subscription, 13 issues for £53.49, that's mega savings of £24.38!!! That's 13 issues for the price of 9 and only £4.11 per issue! You can find that deal here.
After a thorough look around this is the cheapest deal out there, and I can honestly say it is a bargain. Its well worth a subscription for those of you that love crochet, and equally those of you that want to begin, or learn a new skill, I urge you to go go go!
 Happy Hooking from down the rabbit hole
 Woollypops x