Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The first crochet project I completed - ever.

This tiny little crochet bag was completed about one week after my Mum first showed me how to crochet. It took me ages and I found I couldn't stop myself from working on it whenever I had a spare moment. It was mean to be a grocery shopping bag, so I expected it to be much bigger... you may have guessed that. :-)

I really didn't want to make frilly little doilies or anything like that - I really wanted my crochet to be
useful. You see, I don't particularly like ornaments or decorations (or 'dust-gatherers' as I sometimes call them!). I much prefer to think that the thing that I'm making will have a function; there seems to be a point in doing the work, then.

And I thought a string shopping bag was just the thing - practical, easily transportable, enviro-friendly, a quick project, a potential gift for basically everyone I know (for who wouldn't want or need a string bag at some point?).

So with this thought in mind, I googled "crochet bag patterns" and was stunned to find thousands out there (again, Never Knew). The one I finally settled on - I think - was this one. It looks quite large in the picture. :-)

Well, it was a learning experience, anyway. My daughter enjoys adding accessories to her outfits and has been seen on more than one occasion walking around the house using this as a head scarf. :-)

(She likes to get creative with her headbands and clips!)

So, here are the details:

Project: Crochet String Bag - attempt number one
Pattern: can be found online at Melinama's blog "Pratie Place" and also online here.
Yarn: okay, this is probably one of the reasons it's small: crochet cotton, 4 ply
Hook: can't remember, probably 4mm as I think it was all I owned at the time!
Dimensions: approx. 17 cm wide (at the widest point), 16 cm high (not including handles)
But in the photo below, you can see it stretches a
bit... but not to any real practical purposes.

Date completed: early October, 2009
Reflections: not bad for a first project. Would like to try other pattens, other yarns, and larger hooks in future! I have my eye on these two patterns: one from The Purl Bee and the other from Laughing Purple Goldfish Designs.

Perhaps I'll find more success with those.

Til next time,
Caz :-)

Saturday, 17 April 2010

More Things I Never Knew

Can I just begin by reiterating again: I LOVE crochet and everything about it - NOW. But before I had this revelation, I - and I'm sorry if this upsets anyone - I really thought it was, well, umm... UGLY. And very, very, daggy. (For over-seas readers, that means totally uncool in Australian.) And very, very, granny-ish.

And (dare I say it?) I always loathed granny squares! I think because whenever I saw them, they were made in horrid, scratchy yarns, and were in garish, 70s colours. And they had a distinctly old-person connotation - and were therefore not my thing! In fact, that was the only crochet I can ever recall seeing in my childhood - granny squares and doilies. Both so not my thing.

BUT, what I'm saying is: that's changed now, so, before you all turn away in disgust, let me quickly defend myself and explain some of the things I never knew, and how these discoveries turned my mind around.


Never Knew crochet was FUN:
Once I got the hang of it (and that was within an hour), it felt soooo good to do! It's hard to explain, but it just felt like great fun!

Never Knew crochet was rhythmic, and therapeutic: almost meditative! It soothes my stressed out mind and helps me wind down after a hectic day. The repetitive, rhythmic stitches bring out a wonderful meditative feeling that I think is very healthy to feel once in a while, and - until then - I wasn't feeling it! I'm sure it's been good for my health!

Never Knew crochet would help my diet: It's true: I've been snacking less. I used to spend some evenings each week, on the couch, watching telly... and inevitably, I'd get the munchies, and start snacking. Now, it feels strange to sit in front of the TV without crochet in my hands. And to stop to have a snack - well, that'd interrupt my crochet! :-) So, there you are: crochet can be good for your health! :-)

Never Knew crochet was colourful: until I found Attic24. Wow, that blog was a revelation! Lucy's blog showed me that crochet doesn't have to be bogged down with daggy, clashing browns and oranges from the 70s, and that it doesn't have to be exclusively granny squares! Rainbows rule in Lucy's world, and that's why she is able to bring such an optimistic blog to her readers, and brighten their day as she shares hers. Her colourful creations and her clear, step-by-step, free patterns allowed me to try out so very many things that I would never have even dreamed of attempting. Her blog has really carried me along on my journey, and I am forever grateful for her generous, sharing nature. :-)

Never Knew crochet could be more than just blankets and doilies: Thanks to Blogland and my local library, I've discovered that you can make all sorts of useful things like bags of every shape and size, jumpers, hats, scarves, boxes, slippers, hair-ties, jewellery, and the list goes on and on! And they don't have to have granny squares in them! :-) I Never Knew that you could make crochet that was not granny-square-ish, and not lacy/doily-like. I like the idea that you can make "crochet that doesn't look like crochet", if you know what I mean!

Never Knew yarn was so, so, so, wonderful: I used to think yarn (or "wool" as I used to call all yarns) was, just, wool - boring. Now I love to visit the yarn/knitting isle just to admire the colours, enjoy the textures, even when I'm not planning to buy any. I Never Knew that yarns could be so pretty, so colourful, so soft, so varied. I Never Knew that you can (that you're allowed!) to crochet with THICK yarns, and how different that can look. And I Never Knew that you could use other textiles - I found a wonderful book that showed how you can use string, plastic, leather thonging, rag strips - and this is an idea that really appeals to me.

Never Knew crochet could be beautiful: I think this was because I'd never taken the time to really look at any. And because I didn't understand or appreciate the effort and skill that goes into a piece of work. Now when I see an item that has been created with care, with a good sense of colours and tones, with neat, regular stitching, I am always filled with admiration and awe. (I also feel that way because these beautiful works are actually finished, something that I am yet to accomplish with many of my projects, so I am full of admiration of the creator's perseverance!) :-)

And now that I have found the wonderful collections of crochet on Flickr and on the internet in general, I am continue to see creations that amaze, inspire, and motivate me and I am so grateful to everyone who takes the time and effort to upload their pics and share them with the world through cyberspace.

and now, I'm going to admit it. To. The. World.


Never, Ever, Ever, Ever, Knew that I would START TO LIKE GRANNY SQUARES!: Yes, I have "turned to the dark side" LOL and have found that granny squares really are kinda groovy. No wonder they are popular - they are so quick and easy. And there are so many ways you can vary them! And they don't have to be multi-coloured, and they don't have to be just for blankets, and they can even become circles and flowers and hexagons, and ... well, as you can see, I really am on a journey of discovery! :-)

Never Knew crochet could also be done by people aged under 50: Again, this is a revelation that the internet has provided me! I don't think I know anyone in my face-to-face social circles (ie non-internet contacts) that is my age (I'm 35) and likes to crochet.

So I certainly felt very much the weirdo to have this new hobby, until I found that there are others like me, spread across the globe, kindred spirits who are in their 20s or 30s or 40s who also get excited about yarn, or the prospect of a new project, who look forward to quiet moments so they can get on with their crochet. People who, like me, also have jobs and little children and busy lives, but somehow fit the crochet in as well. It really has been wonderful "finding" many of you out there in blogland, and it is so very nice to "meet" you all. :-)

(As for the over 50s, I'm very happy to meet you all, too! I'm just trying to say that - while I did know that you older crochet-ers existed - I Never Knew about the younger ones, and that was a lovely surprise. So, no offence to you, I hope!)

And this leads me to my final point:

I Never Knew there was a whole world of blogs and websites that could inspire and support me:

The internet truly is such a wonderful and amazing thing and I think it's great for crafts like crochet. Instead of the old traditions dying out, I think the internet is helping to preserve them, allowing skilled, knowledgeable people to share their craft with the whole world. I learned how to do front-post and back-post stitches by watching tutorial videos on YouTube. That was fantastic! The videos were done so well, it was all clearly explained, and, of course, I could watch it over and over again until I got it right. A stranger in America showed me how to do that, and now over here in North Queensland, I can teach my kids one day.

And then, of course, there's the advice, support, encouragement I have found through what many refer to as "Blogland". :-) As I mentioned above, it has been so great to find others with this interest, and to discover the multitude of free patterns and tutorials out there. And everyone seems so helpful, so happy to give advice and share ideas. It's truly wonderful and it makes the world go 'round, I'm sure.

To all those bloggers that I've met so far, to those Flickr users who have shared photos, if any of you are reading this, I would like to say a
HUGE Thank You to you all for sharing your work and your lives with me. You truly are a comfort and an inspiration and I love discovering and reading your blogs and finding out more and more about your creations.

It makes me feel like we're on this journey together. :-)

So, there you are. I really Never Knew.

But now I do.

And now I would like to start sharing what I've discovered. Maybe someone else out there Never Knew, either.

Thanks, everyone, for "listening".


Sunday, 11 April 2010

All Joined Up!

TA-DAH! Check this out!

Look what I've done: I've managed to join up all my African flower-hexagons - using join-as-you-go! I'm very pleased about this as I'd never tried it before. It was quite fiddly, but I can see why it's such a great method as by the time all the white rounds are finished, the cushion is also all done, done, done!

I am quite amazed at myself about this: it is only the third crochet project that I have ever actually completed (I still haven't found a chance to blog about the other two yet!); and I have managed to go from start to almost-finished in less than two weeks! For me, that's amazingly quick!

I kept going back to Flickr looking for guidance from others and
Elizabeth Cat in particular was a GREAT help to me (thanks so much, Elizabeth!). The pattern and join-as-you-go advice are all there on the Crocheting Afrcian Flowers Pool (scroll down on the pool's home-page).

But I misunderstood the directions on how to do the final round of white and I left out an all-important chain stitch along each side. (You can read my confused ramblings
here!) By the time I realised my error I was more than half-way through, and decided to carry on regardless. This extra stitch would have helped my work to lay flat, and without it, the edges of each hexagon are buckling up a little bit. I am hoping that blocking will help reduce this - I'll just have to wait and see.

Once they were all joined I added a final round of double-crochet (that's treble crochet in the UK - I prefer the US terminology) all the way around the whole thing. I think it looks "finished" now:

Now to the challenge of turning this into a pillow! And a HUGE pillow it will be - I don't know what other African Flower-lovers are using, but with my cheap acylic yarn and 4mm hook, this arrangement has ended up HUMONGOUS! I was thinking it might be better as a very small rug, or maybe a cushion for the floor as it really is so BIG! I am going to attempt to make a cover using an old jumper following Lucy's wonderful
cushion-cover tutorial over at Attic24 (a most wonderful and inspiring blog - if you haven't visited her, please do!, I'm sure you'll love it).

This really has been a great learning experience for me in so many ways: colour arrangement and placement (I get a bit OCD about this and need to learn to let it be a bit more random - i.e. there is no "right" or "perfect" colour arrangement!); using join-as-you-go; finding out that sometimes things you make just end up HUGE; and making the hexagons themselves - all firsts for me. And it's been great. :-)

Anyway, this is meant to be a blog about patterns I've tried, yarns I've used, and how it all turned out, in the hope of advising anyone else contemplating the same projects. So here are the details for you all:

Pattern: African Flower Pattern
Pattern source:
Crocheting African Flowers Pool on Flickr (just scroll down the the bottom of the screen to find it), also on Ravelry as "African Flower Hexagon"
Panda Magnum 8ply - this is 100% acrylic and I think 8ply is about equivalent to DK weight?
Hook: 4mm
Dimensions: 53.5cm across (!)
Date commenced: 30 March, 2010
Date completed: 10 April, 2010
My reflection: A great pattern and the info and support on Flickr are fantastic. No idea why it ended up so huge! And now I also know why so many crochet-lovers complain about weaving in ends. Overall, I'm very happy with it and with myself. :-)

I was originally going to give this to a good friend of mine, for her beautiful 5-year-old daughter. I was thinking about my friend when I started this and all the way along as I worked on it - but I'm not sure crochet is her thing? I'm hesitant to offer it as I hate to think of her graciously accepting something that she doesn't actually like! My own daughter loves it, though, so she will be most happy to have it on her bed (or bedroom floor!) instead. :-)
She's also 5 and is a very girly-girl and so loves this very flowery design!

If you have ANY questions at all about this - please feel free to ask/comment below. I would love to hear from you, and I'm more than happy to help. :-)

Til next time,

Caz :-)

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Why "Never Knew"?

As I mentioned above, this blog is called "Never Knew" because I never knew how much I'd enjoy crochet. I had no idea. And it really has been the most wonderful surprise.

I had learned to knit when I was much younger, but I found it terribly fiddly and frustrating, and I always needed my mother or Oma (grandmother) around to "rescue" my knitting when I lost a stitch, or two, or three... I had never learned to crochet, and I suppose after my knitting attempts I had decided none of it was worth the time and effort.

Anyway, my mum was crocheting one night (she rarely crochets, just sometimes when on holidays) and I leaned over her work and asked "how do you DO that?". I really wanted to try, I'm not sure why at that exact moment, having never bothered to try before. After some insistence, she showed me the basic stitches.

I was fascinated, and seemed to get the hang of it rather quickly. I had no idea that it was so easy! How the wonderful HOOK - as opposed to knitting NEEDLE - helped to keep the stitch on. And the fact that there was one stitch - just one - on the hook at a time! No need to worry about the rest of them sliding off when you put it down for a minute. And a few weeks later I discovered that when you change colours you can actually tie off that single stitch and your work was safe and wouldn't unravel! How simple! How amazing! Why would anyone ever KNIT!!?? :-D

Over the next week, while my mum was still visiting our place, I became like a woman obsessed. I crocheted every moment I could. I googled patterns and found out there is a whole world of crochet blogs, web-sites, and free patterns, all out there waiting for me to discover them. I decided I wanted to crochet little string bags - I was very keen to make crochet useful - and I had even decided I was going to give everyone one for Christmas. I crocheted and crocheted and crocheted. My mother thought it was most amusing.

As did I! I never, ever, expected to find it so satisfying! It's hard to explain the pleasure and satisfaction it brings me, because it's unlike anything I've experienced before. I have dabbled in many other hobbies over the years: cooking and baking, home and furniture re-decorating, aromatherapy and making my own skin creams, photography, scrapbooking... but none of them really gave me the "buzz" that this does.

And it hasn't gone away - that buzz, I mean. Six months on, and with about six WIP (I now know that stands for "Work in Progress") on the go at once (!) I find myself thinking about colour combinations as I drive to work, and rushing home at the end of each day, planning how I can get everything else done quickly, so that there'll still be time for crochet before the day is through.

Like I said, I never knew. :-)

More on my crochet journey soon.

Caz :-)

Sunday, 4 April 2010

My African Flowers now have borders!

African Flowers now with borders, ready to make into a cushion, originally uploaded by Never Knew.

I find arranging these so difficult - making sure the colours are balanced and
well-mixed. Even now I can see one spot that I'd like to change. It will be interesting to see how they look once surrounded and joined in white.

I am going to try and make this arrangement into a round cushion, using Elizabeth Cat's "fan" pattern to fill in the gaps around the edge of the circle. I wanted to try making a smaller cushion, using only 14 flowers (as above).

Elizabeth always uses 19 flowers (like this one) and I've just realised why: because this creates a regular shape, with the same number of flowers on each side. My arrangement does not. :-(

Therefore I can't make my smaller version. I could make a small cushion using 7 flowers; it would look a bit like this:
and, as I have 14 already, I could, of course, make 2 of these!

But if I make just another 5 I can create a big one like Elizabeth's - and with my yarn it looks like it could end up really quite big, almost like a floor cushion.

I'm leaning towards the latter option. :-) So I'm off to work on those other 5 now. Then, finally, I can start joining them together.

Caz :-)

Friday, 2 April 2010

Crochet African Flowers

I found these flowers - and the free pattern - on Flickr when I was browsing recently.

The pattern was provided by "Elizabeth Cat". The pattern can be found amongst the comments under this flickr photo.

I think the original idea was, when done in purples, these flowers look a lot like African Violets, but when done in any colour, they just look like pretty, pretty flowers.

Well, since trying out the pattern I have discovered how very fun and very easy it is! And in a short amount of time I have made over a dozen of these lovely flowers - enough to make a smallish, round cushion! I am very excited as it will be the first crochet cushion I have ever made, and one of the first crochet projects that I will have ever actually completed. :-)

Anyway, here are a few photos of my flowers. I really love how colourful they are. I love arranging them in a rainbow-like spectrum; just looking at them cheers me. :-)

More photos can be found on my new Flickr photo-stream. Yes, I was so excited by these that I finally made a flickr account and added these to the Crocheting African Flowers group! My name on Flickr is, of course, Never Knew, and I will be adding links on there to this blog.

Hope you like my flowers and I hope you have a wonderful, colourful day.
Caz :-)

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Hello there! :-)

Welcome to my brand new blog. I hope that you enjoy browsing here.

The aim of my blog is to record my crochet projects; to show what I'm working on, and what yarns, etc I am using for each project. I know that when I browse the web with a specific project in mind, it's so nice to find someone else who has tried the same pattern, and to see how they are going with it. So my idea was to also help others in this way. If a google search has led you here, then hopefully you will find a project similar to your own, or an idea that might help or inspire you. That is my intention, anyway.

I hope you enjoy your time in this little blog.

Now to the task of uploading photos and sharing all the work I've been doing over the past six months! :-)

Caz :-)