Posts tagged [crochet hook]


  • Blog 3: I had a dry January

    Like many of us, I completely overdid it in December – I went from famine to feast because I could. I had the time, I was relaxed, and I was in the zone to completely over doing it.

    But it wasn’t a food and drink feast!

    No! It was a crocheting feast.

    crochet blocks 1

    In the space of five days, I crocheted 3 octopuses, 12 squares for my blanket and taught myself to do the star stitch. I was an addict. I could truly say “Hi my name is Briony and I am a crochet addict”. Crocheting had gone from being a meditative and soothing experience to being a somewhat frantic affair.

    crochet star stitch

    My addiction was hurting me – my hands were aching, my fingers went tingly and numb, my left wrist stiffened up, my elbow hurt and we won’t even talk about my shoulders and neck that were pretty much locked.  At some point holding my crochet work became impossible. But worse than that, I was struggling to hold a knife, pick up anything heavier than a mug, or make a fist.

    Yup, you guessed it… repetitive strain injury (and a flare-up of arthritis). (I hate that word – I am too young to be using that word!!).

    So January has been a dry month for me. I packed away my crochet projects and for a month my hands have rested. Sadly they spent most of January picking up food because they weren’t busy all the time… so February is now the reverse of January. My crochet work is back in hand, and I am having a carb-free February!

    When I chatted with Helène and did a little research on repetitive strain injuries, it became clear to me that most crocheters go through this at some point.

    So here is some wise advice from Helène and other crocheters on the internet:

    • Concentrate on your grip.  Whether it’s a knife grip or a pencil grip make sure that you place little to no pressure on your thumb. 
    • Invest in a soft grip hook (I already have one). Helène recommends investing in an ergonomic hook like the Ilaja Hook handmade by LJ Craft Creations.
    • Change your grip. Helène says that a few years ago she forced herself from a pencil grip to a knife grip because of sore hands.  Find a way that suits you.
    • Rest, stretch and focus on posture. Regular intervals of hand, arm, and shoulder stretching are very important (definitely something that I neglect, but have started being a lot more conscientious about).  The Crochet Project goes as far as recommending stretching every 20 minutes and even doing light weight-bearing exercises to strengthen your “crochet” muscles!
    • Try massaging Hilda Steyn’s specially formulated sore hand's remedy on to your hands, arms, and sometimes you can buy directly from Yarn at ZelLé. (Check out Hilda's patterns as well – I think her Wacky Weave Squares CAL might just be a project in my future!!)
    • The opposite of repetition is variety. Try having a number of different projects on the go to introduce variety in hook sizes, yarn types, tension, and figure out for yourself what types of projects are least straining for you.
    • Stop! If all else fails just stop crocheting for a while. If crocheting is causing fear rather than fun, then it’s time to stop. Read Sally Strawberry's blog for another account on RSI.

    After a month of no crocheting, my hands are all better and I am back to doing a bit of crocheting here and there when I have a half hour or so. My blanket may take longer to complete than I had hoped but rather than, than hands that don’t function.

    Have you ever had a repetitive strain injury?

    crochet blocks 2

     Briony Parsons (Liber) is the owner and founder at Briony Liber Coaching (www.brionyliber.com).  She provides coaching to young professionals that want to explore and develop their behavioral competencies and broader personal and interpersonal business skills, to complement and support their technical capabilities.

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  • Blog 1: My first 30 days of crocheting

    Special note:  Briony started her crochet journey with our Hook Holder Starter Pack and Denim Marigold Zipper Pouch.  These products can be purchased from our online store.

    I have always wanted to learn to crochet. My gran taught me to knit and that was easy enough, but what my gran did with a crochet hook was just a complete mystery to me. That hooked moved like lightening, and the concept of making anything with one hook as opposed to two needles just made no sense to me.

    Earlier this year I was cleaning out the remnants of my late moms kist and found about 30 crochet hooks in all sizes and at least 40 pairs of knitting needles. I have a million unfinished projects and the look on my husband’s face was a gentle reminder to me that taking on another project might be ludicrous in a year when I was building my business. And so the majority of those hooks and needles made their way to charities and I am pretty sure are being used lovingly to create all manner of woolly goodies.

    Despite having given away all those hooks, I got sucked into the world of Amigurumi and crochet projects on Pinterest and have spent the year wanting to make tiny stuffed yarn creatures.

    So a couple weeks ago when Brilliantmommy held a beginner’s crochet workshop, I went along secretly hoping to master the granny square and hop straight on to making an amigurumi mouse within a week or two (I wonder if Crafter Granny would appreciate a mouse in her house?).

    Well I am a looooong way from making anything Amigurumi (so no need to worry Crafter Granny).

    In the workshop I learned to make something resembling a basic granny square. I also learned to unravel everything and remake it a few times before I finally got the hang of it. That morning was like learning a new language – ch3, sl st, sc, 2dc, hdc, tr, …… what??

    Nothing made sense to me. I must have unraveled my work at least three or four times that morning. But Helène patiently guided me through the stitches and under her wonderful guidance I got the hang of it.

    Helène teaching classHelène teaching class

    Everyone else walked away from the morning with what looked to me like perfectly tensioned granny squares – mine looked more like a wonky lacy doily.

    I might have given up there and then, but I have such fond memories of the granny blankets that my gran made for my brother and me. I wanted to make my own blanket.

    So every morning for three days after the workshop I sat for an hour or so practicing my crocheting, watching Youtube videos of beginner crocheting (I particularly am enjoying Melanie Ham’s https://youtu.be/w_B3YJHMgzM crochet channel) and slowly but surely getting to a point where I had what I considered to be the perfect granny square.

    Part of granny square

    full granny square

    While I was perfecting my granny square, I was bombarding Helène with photos of my progress which included the little heart I learned to make while following Crochet Lover’s Youtube  video https://youtu.be/cHqOBv5Wpos

    crochet heart

    After three days I ran out of wool. I also found myself bored with the colour I was using. But what was worse, were the appeals from my husband not to cover our house in crocheted doilies. (I am a bit tempted now to crochet one for the back of his chair just to freak him out LOL).

    But I agreed that if I was going to crochet then I better find some modern crochet patterns for my granny blanket. And the one I found is this one from Purl Soho  - how gorgeous is this!!! https://www.purlsoho.com/create/2012/11/15/whits-knits-bears-rainbow-blanket/

    I have decided to use a mix of colours from the Nurturing Fibres Eco-cotton range https://nurturingfibres.com/yarn/eco-cotton/. I am aiming to make a king size blanket…. (hopefully by winter next year). I suspect I have no idea what I am taking on but watch my journey with this and other projects over the next year and find out.

    I am now three squares in, despite having crocheted 7 squares (and that tale of unravelry (or frogging) will be the subject of my next blog).

    I am thrilled to be a “new hooker” ambassador for Brilliantmommy. My Brilliantmommy Soft Grip Hook Holder and Marigold Zipper Pouch are helping to keep my work organized and my tools at the ready.

    Brilliantmommy Hook Holder

    Brilliantmommy Marigold Zipper Pouch

     * Briony Parsons (Liber) is the owner and founder at Briony Liber Coaching (www.brionyliber.com).  She provides coaching to young professionals that want to explore and develop their behavioral competencies and broader personal and interpersonal business skills, to complement and support their technical capabilities.

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  • Christa van Wyk - crochet for a cause

    "Hier is my 314ste kombers vir liefdadigheid." 

    What was your first thought when you read that?  

    1.  That sounds familiar.  Where did I see that?

    2.  What the...!  314 blankets?  For charity?

    3.  Where's the translate button?

    Initially, when I started seeing these posts pop up in my Facebook feed I was definitely thinking the second thought.  I know how cumbersome a crochet blanket can be.  Then I started noticing this kind of post popping up in my feed round about every second week with the number of blankets increasing.

    This lady intrigued me immensely.  I wondered what her 'why' is.  And you'll be surprised.

    Christa van Wyk is a pensioner, like many.  But unlike many, she devotes her free time and own funds to crocheting blankets for 'Cause We Can' in the Western Cape.  Although she is not part of the charity she donates all her blankets to them.  She does it from the heart and, in a way, as a stress relieving activity.

    She was born in Namibia and went to school in Gogabis.  During 1976 she moved to Windhoek and stayed there for 20 years.  Thereafter she spent ten years in Walvis Bay and returned to Windhoek for the final nine years in Namibia.  During 2015 she moved to the Western Cape to be near her two daughters.  Her only granddaughter is now three years old.

    Christa says she has always been a very patient person.  This truly is evident from her responses to all the questions on these Facebook posts of her.  She patiently answers every question - sometimes the same question gets asked twice!  That, to me, already says a lot about this very generous lady.

    Here are some of the frequently asked questions (starting with the most frequent!) with answers:

    1.  Which crochet pattern do you use?  Mostly the Corner-to-corner stitch but also the Slanted Shell stitch.

    2.  Which yarn do you use?  Mostly Charity dk Pullskein or Chick dk from Checkers.

    3.  How big is a blanket? All of them are 120 x 130cm.

    4.  How much yarn is needed per blanket?  About 9 100g skeins.

    5.  Who gets the blankets?  It is donated to 'Cause We Can'.  Christa also sells the blankets and price is available on request.

    6.  Do you get yarn donations?  Sometimes, but mostly she pays for it herself.

    While typing this I suddenly wondered why number six is not number one?  Why are we more interested in the yarn type than whether this lady has enough yarn to carry on her charitable work?  We should rather ask 'Do you need more yarn? in stead of 'Which stitch pattern is that?'  

    As it turns out Christa can indeed do with yarn donations and will gladly accept any support.  If you would like to support Christa please get in touch with me so that I can give you her email address.

    Of course, my last question to Christa was how her ideal craft bag will look like.  Her answer can be expected:  it should hold up to 10 skeins of yarn with space for her hooks!   

    Until next time.  

    Cheers!

    x Helène

    Make sure to buy from me in the online store and follow me on Facebook and Instagram.  

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  • Go, go, go... frog

    My mom taught me most of what I know today about sewing.  But there is one thing that her mom taught me that still ring in my ears today:  "Nee, mens knoei nie.  Trek los."  No, don't fudge it.  Unpick it.  It would annoy me greatly!  Now, how many years later, I don't mind to unpick because I've learned the value of having a completed project that you can be proud of.  I also don't mind to frog a crochet project.  And boy, did I frog this project - multiple times!  Here's why.  (insert the Law and Order dun-dun sound here)

    Firstly, it's my first real garment-from-a-pattern on the hook.  I feel uncomfortable with taking my own measurements.  Don't laugh.  I do.  I'd rather go to a store and fit tops from the largest size downwards and see how low I can go until it gets stuck going over the twins or until I have to pull in the tube to a point where I can't breathe normally.  I've now forced myself to look at my measurements - albeit in a scientific manner - and figure out where I fit in.  Get it?  "Figure out" and "fit in"?

    Secondly, I up-sized the garment.  I took my measurements and immediately went to the larger sizing.  Why.  Don't answer me, it's intended as a rhetorical question because of, you know, point number one above.  Once I've crocheted a few rows on both panels I fitted it around my waist (which coincidentally is the exact same measurement as my chest...) and realised the top is way too big.  After much deliberation (a few tears might or might not have been involved) I frogged the project back to the second row and started on the smaller size.  The chainless foundation row will be frogged to the correct size when I feel up to it.  P.S. my standing double crochet stitches look like a perfect Pinterest pin!                          

    Thirdly, kids, kid-friendly activities, mealtimes, laundry, dog and husband (although not so much as the aforementioned).  Interruptions can wreak havoc on your newly started project.  Girlfriend (or boyfriend - this is a no-discrimination zone)!  I should have done a bloopers real.  And as luck would have it you'll only realise you made a silly mistake when you are one or two rows on.  So... you frog!

    Amidst all of the frogging I'm still cautiously optimistic with the outcome of this project.  The yarn is glorious, the pattern is comfortable and my craft bag makes me happy!

    Catch you on the flip side.

    x Helène

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • Ready, steady, gauge swatch!

    In all the 20 years that I have been crocheting I've never made a proper crochet garment for myself.  I've always been too scared that after I've put in so much effort the garment will not fit me.  Although I have a healthy body image I know that I am on the - let's call it - voluptuous side.  Thank goodness that I have large bust otherwise my large tummy would have been the focal point.  Now it's the large bust that are the focal point!  Then, I have a high waist.  So, in essence, I'm a typical apple shape and the apple gets juicier and juicier over time.  

    Clothes shopping is such a headache for me.  I never feel comfortable in form fitting clothes.  I want something that's loose over my muffin top but it mustn't make me look pregnant.  I want a blouse that can button over my bust but the shoulders should still fit like they're supposed to.  Aaaah, the joys.

    What drew my attention to the top design on the cover of the Your Family mag of February 2018 was the symmetry and simplicity of the design.  It's loose fitting in all the right places without looking like a flour bag.  And surely when I wear it I will look exactly like Reinette Potgieter who is the beautiful (and skinny) model wearing it.  Right?!  Right.

    Off I went to Surene at Yarn at ZelLé in Centurion to pick up my 6 balls of Nurturing Fibres Eco-Fusion in Seashell (like the pattern suggests).  The yarn looks absolutely magnificent.  The 50% Bamboo Viscose and 50% Cotton blend is silky soft.  The bamboo strand weaved with the cotton strand gives it such a luscious shine.

    At home I, of course, had to find a craft bag for my latest project!  The Dark Chocolate colourway of the Brilliantmommy Valentine's Collection matches perfectly with the soft pink yarn.  Ready, steady, gauge swatch!

    Brilliantmommy Craft Bag Valentine's Collection

    Because I'm so hesitant to crochet a garment I thought I'd be a good hooker and really, like in really, do a gauge swatch.  I was very relieved to have figured out in the end that I can continue my project with my brand new 4mm Clover Amour hook that I bought from Be Inspired.  It would have been a travesty if I had to use my aluminium hook which - to me - is so last year...

    When you hear from me again I would hopefully have started on my front panel!

    x Helène

     

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