Book review: 100 Snowflakes to crochet

Ever since I started making hand-making my Christmas cards, I’ve had this idea that one year I would make cards with beautiful, lacy, crocheted snowflakes on them. I tried a couple of times but, as a fairly inexperienced crocheter, I really struggled to follow the patterns that I found and it was clear that I just didn’t have the skills yet to do justice to the vision in my head so I abandoned the idea and did something different instead.

Then, in September, I saw Lisa of Polka Dot Cottage‘s review of 100 Snowflakes to crochet and her snowflakes were exactly what I’d always pictured. A quick visit to Amazon later and a copy was winging its way to me.

100 Snowflakes to crochet

As book titles go, this isn’t the most original but it does deliver exactly what it promises: 100 patterns for crocheted snowflakes. The patterns are graded from beginner to advanced and there’s a showcase at the start to make it easy to pick the snowflake that you want to make. The book includes information on materials and tools, and a crochet refresher course that covers all the stitches and techniques that you’ll need to make any of the snowflakes in the book. There is also a section on the structure of snowflakes to help you create your own patterns if the 100 in the book aren’t enough!

100 Snowflakes to crochet

One of my regular complaints about this type of book is that inappropriate (fuzzy) yarns are used or the pictures aren’t clear enough for you to see all the details but not here. All the photographs are beautifully clear allowing you to see the individual details of each pattern.

The patterns themselves are also easy to follow. The snowflake in the picture above was completed on only my second or third attempt and it’s one of the advanced patterns (No. 80, Sea Smoke). Every pattern is also charted. I haven’t managed to get my head around crochet charts yet despite my love of knitting charts but I do like that they’ve been included.

The snowflake above was made with 4 ply yarn and (I think) a 3.75mm hook but was far too big for putting on a card. Instead, I tried with some actual crochet thread but it was just too fine and fiddly for my inexperienced fingers.

Crochet snowflakes

Then I tried again with some laceweight yarn and a 1.75mm hook. These snowflakes were made using Fyberspates Truly Scrumptious lace and were the perfect size for attaching to the front of a card. The snowflake on the left is unblocked and the one on the right had been sprayed with water and then lightly ironed through a towel. Although I had crocheted the snowflakes well in advance of when I needed to post my cards, I got sick and, by the time I was better, didn’t have time to soak and block them with pins. This is also why I don’t have any pictures of the completed cards!

To sum up, if you have any interest whatsoever in crocheting snowflakes then this is the book for you. As a craft book, it does have a very specific focus but it does exactly what it sets out to do and does it well.

Christmas 2012

I’m sneaking in a last post of the year to share some Christmas decorating and baking photos.

Our tree:

Christmas Tree 2012

The mantelpiece:

Christmas 2012

The cake:

Christmas Cake 2012

Looking back at last year’s Christmas post, I was complaining about November/December having slipped past in a blur of sickness and craziness at work and, unfortunately, this year has been no different.  Much like last year though, we pulled it out of the hat at the last minute and the cake was decorated, mince pies were baked, and handmade Christmas cards sent. I don’t seem to have remembered to take any pictures of the cards though so I’ll need to rectify that in a future post!

Winter of socks – part I

I hadn’t fully appreciated just how much colder Scotland is than London before we moved back, despite having lived here for most of my life. It doesn’t help that the flat we’re renting (while absolutely beautiful) has really high ceilings and single glazing throughout. It does also have a great heating system but sometimes even that is just not enough. However, woolly socks to the rescue! It’s amazing how much warmer everything feels with a pair of woolly socks on, which means that there’s only one solution – I need to knit Steven and me a lot more socks.

I did get a head-start with this pair that I knitted last autumn but for some reason stopped just a few rows from the end of the second toe. Five minutes knitting and some kitchener stitch this morning and I have a new pair of socks:

Winter Lace Socks

The pattern is a free pattern: Winter Lace Socks and the yarn is Cygnet Truly Wool Rich 4 ply. The lace pattern is very simple to follow and makes a very nice sock. I had hoped to get a pair out of a single ball of yarn but ended up having to start a second for the toe of the second sock.

And now they’re keeping my feet toasty warm while I blog – expect to see more socks soon!

Glasgow School of Yarn 2012

I had a wonderful day at the Glasgow School of Yarn the weekend before last. For the second year running, it took place in the beautiful Queen’s Cross Church, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. It’s not the ideal venue for a knitting event but well worth a visit on its own merits.

Queen's Cross Church, Glasgow

I couldn’t make it along on the Friday but signed up to take Woolly Wormhead‘s hat design class on the Saturday. She brought a huge selection of hats for everyone to try on to judge what style would suit them best and then we got stuck right in to measuring each other’s heads, calculating gauge and working through the maths for our hats. Much frantic knitting then ensued (particularly from me since I had not read the joining instructions carefully enough and brought lighter yarn than was really sensible) as we raced to get as far through our hats as possible. It was a great class and I learned a lot about hats and hat design that will no doubt show up in future patterns. I don’t have a picture of my own hat (which is just about finished) but here are some of the selection of her own designs that Woolly brought with her.

Hat Design Workshop

Because I was in an all day class there wasn’t a lot of time for shopping but I did manage to find a couple of beautiful things in the marketplace at lunchtime. I bought this pretty little project bag from AndSewtoKnit

Knitting project bag

which is just the right size …

Knitting project bag

… for a new shawl project using the yarn that I bought from Old Maiden Aunt.

Oren Shawl

The pattern is my Oren Shawl pattern and this one is going to be for wearing under my coat.

Speaking of patterns, I also got to see my Kentigern Shawl, which was my design competition entry, on display:

Kentigern Shawl

I’m making some final tweaks to the pattern before it goes for editing but it should be available in the next couple of weeks.

Down to the wire

The amazing thing about this post is that I wrote it on the train on my way to work. Not because it is amazing that the technology exists to allow me to blog from the train (which is also amazing) but because it means that I wasn’t frantically knitting my shawl, which is what I’ve spent every other train journey recently doing. For various reason, I had even less time to knit the shawl than I expected to have and it was beginning to look like it might not get finished.

Actually, since the pattern was due first, I had to finish writing that without having finished knitting the shawl so the shawl is artfully draped in the pattern photographs to try to disguise the fact that half of its border is missing! The pattern was finished and submitted on Tuesday (also on the train to work) and from then till I handed the sample in yesterday just about every waking minute that I wasn’t been at work was spent knitting.

In the end, the timetable for finishing it went something like this:


18:10 – catch train home from work, knit whole way home

19:00 – arrive home from work, start knitting again

20:00 – stop knitting long enough to eat pizza which had just been delivered

21:00 – contemplate possibility that it’s actually impossible to finish knitting shawl tonight, keep knitting anyway

22:00 – decide that it is possible but that it’s going to be midnight before it’s done

23:00 – Steven goes to bed

00:15 – knit last stitch of edging, decide to leave grafting of edging till morning

01:00 – go to bed having pinned shawl out to block

Various times during the night – wake up from a nightmare that I accidentally brought the shawl to bed and it’s started unravelling, double-check to make sure that shawl isn’t actually in bed unravelling


06:30 – curse the person who invented alarm clocks

06:50 – get up, make coffee, get dressed and ready for work

07:10 – force Steven to admire shawl before letting him leave for work

07:25 – realise shawl is still damp, get hair-dryer and dry shawl

07:45 – graft ends of edging and weave in remaining ends

07:55 – take some very quick, very blurry pictures of shawl which will almost certainly turn out to be completely useless for anything

08:03 – realise that I should have left for work 3 minutes ago, put shawl in bag and run for train

8:16 – actually catch train

12:00 – pop out of office during lunch to travel across city to deliver shawl

13:00 – shawl delivered, normal service resumes

Now that the dust has settled and I’ve had a good night’s sleep, I am looking forward to the shawl’s unveiling at this weekend’s Glasgow School of Yarn where it is my entry in their design competition.  I can’t make it along during the day today but I will be there tonight for the party to celebrate The Yarn Cake‘s second birthday and the results of the competition.

And on the way home on the train I’ll be frantically knitting the gauge swatch that is my pre-class homework for the hat design workshop that I’m attending at the Glasgow School of Yarn tomorrow!

End of an era

I’m typing this on my phone while a team of guys pack all of my possessions into boxes and then put the boxes on a van.

I’m really looking forward to being back in Scotland but still can’t quite believe that I’m actually leaving London.

Anyway, by Friday evening my boxes and I should be safely in our new home and then the unpacking can start.

See you on the other side!

I mis-counted.

It is not 152,000 stitches … it is more like 164,000.

Shawl - in progress

I’m working on a new circular shawl design and forgot to count the stitches in the border (mostly because I haven’t decided what they’re going to be yet).

According to my revised calculations, the bit shown in the picture is just over 2% of the total shawl. It would have been nearer 4% but I had to rip out quite a bit last night due to a silly charting error and ignoring the little voice in my head telling me that the lace didn’t look right.

Did I mention that I’m working to a deadline and that I’m moving house between now and when this is due? You’ll have to excuse me, I need to go knit the other 98% of my shawl.

Playing tourist, part II (with knitting and sewing content)

We’ve been doing sort of the reverse of our Cutty Sark tourism this weekend. We’ve been up in Scotland, exploring the area that we are moving to. We are going to be living near Stirling, which is a beautiful, old Scottish city that mostly looks like the picture below:


I spotted both a yarn shop and a fabric shop in Stirling but they were closed when we were there on Sunday so I didn’t get to look around. However, I did find a whole selection of cheap knitting and sewing books in one of the discount bookshops in the city centre. I managed to restrain myself and only bought two.

First was Fitted Knits by Stephanie Japel. I bought this mainly for inspiration and the section with hints and tips on customising patterns since few of the patterns would actually suit me, particularly in the heavier yarns that most of the patterns call for. It’s a beautiful book though and easily worth the £3.99 that I paid just for the photography!

Fitted knits

I’m hoping to get more use out of the second book which was Sew U Home Stretch by Wendy Mullin. I’ve heard really good things about the Sew U books and I’ve been wanting to have a go at sewing knit fabrics for a while since I’d love to be able to sew my t-shirts and tops for work. The patterns included with the book don’t go big enough for my bust size but there is plenty of discussion about how to apply the principles in the book to ordinary commercial patterns. There is even a section on making your own patterns from existing items that you love.


If we weren’t moving I would love to have taken the class on sewing knits that The Make Lounge are introducing but the first class isn’t until October so I’ll just have to make do with the book and the internet for now. I’ll let you know how it goes!