Bargain Book Finds

hooked-cover-imaage1Book bargains are great news for readers, especially if you’re on a tight budget like me. And as a writer, I am happy that my books might be picked up by readers who might not want, or be able to pay full price. I have discovered some brilliant designers by shopping in  bargain book shops and my local charity shop and I can never pass the door of a second hand bookshop without peeking inside for “just a minute”. Luckily, Mr T shares by book love, so he’s happy to accompany me.

Lately, I have snagged some absolute bargains while mooching in The Works. These include the wonderful Claire Montgomerie’s book Hooked, which I picked up for the bargain price of £4 and Knitting from the North by Hilary Grant for just a fiver!

Both books are excellent and I love them both. I noticed both are also on offer at other online bookshops (including Amazon and The Book Depository), so if you still have Christmas money to spend, these are both perfect choices – you won’t be disappointed. Even at full price they are both excellent value and will earn their keep on your crafting bookshelf as you dip into them time and again.

So, what makes them such great books?

let’s start with Hooked by Claire Montgomerie. Once Editor of Inside Crochet magazine, Claire has a long list of successful knitting and crochet books. Hooked, published in May 2016 is her latest and perhaps best crochet book (that’s just my opinion). It is filled with beautifull projects aimed at beginners, but even the more experienced hooker will find themselves wanting to make almost everything. The styling and photography are fresh and modern. I love the colour palette Claire has chosen – and can’t help noticing she’s sneaked in several projects with her own favourite colours – the Chevron Clutch, Granny Square Blanket and Tiny Coin Purse are stunning.

As you would expect, the first chapter takes you through the basics, holding your hook, reading a pattern and basic techniques. Subsequent chapters are designed to extend your skills and challenge you to try new techniques. The Striped Pencil Case for example has a useful tip about avoiding “jogs” in your stripes. There is a useful glossary at the back and a well designed index so you can look up projects and techniques easily.

I have recommended this book to lots of crocheters (new and more experienced) and I know a couple found a copy under their tree, so I’m looking forward to seeing their makes. So, congratulations Claire on producing another beautiful and useful book to add to my groaning bookshelf!

Next,  Knitting from the North by Hilary Grant. I just adore this book. Filled with colour work patterns inspired by Fair Isle and Icelandic knitting techniques this isn’t a book for beginners. It’s light on technical advice, although there are a few pages at the beginning which skim over double knitting, grafting and making a pom pom. You’ll also find advice on caring for your knits and how to prevent moth damage. If you haven’t tried stranded colour work before I’d recommend a good technique book or a patient friend to guide you through some simple techniques, and you might find yourself looking up provisional cast on tutorials and working from charts if these aren’t already aprt of your knitting skill set. But, few knitters will be picking this up expecting a “how to”, it’s a snapshot into Hilary Grant’s creative process, her design inspiration and a chance to knit some truly beautiful accessories.

The real beauty of this book lies in  the short text that accompanies each pattern and of course the photography. Each pattern is accompanied by a stunning collection of images which are  almost a love letter to the Scottish landscape. The first project, Beacon Pom Pom Hat is less than half a page, but the 3 pages of photographs which accompany it had me gasping at how such a simple knit can be so beautiful. It is also a perfect project for the less confident knitter to begin with.

This collection adapts some of Hilary’s most popular machine knits and  is filled with graphic patterns, flattering shapes and simple designs that hand knitters can recreate at home. Practical hats, snoods and sweaters suitable for all skill levels will inspire you  and no doubt (like me) you’ll find yourself googling trips to  Orkney to see for yourself the stunning backgrounds showcased in the photographs. The colours chosen for each design are beautiful, although it’s rare for me to knit anything in exactly the same colours as shown in the pattern, this is one book where I would be tempted to make everything just as it is.

In short, I love this book. I have spent hours just gazing at the photographs, planning projects and colour schemes. It’s a book I will buy for friends and certainly not one I shall be lending out. It will sit with me for years, and every now and again I shall knit myself something beautiful from it’s pages.

 

 

Introducing Meredith (crochet pattern)

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Edit: May 2017

This pattern is no longer available in adult size as it is being updated. A toddler sized version of this simple granny square tank top is available on Craftsy. Please see customisation tips below for making an adult version of this simple tank top.

Eagle eyed readers will recognise this as an adult version of the “Granny Square Toddler Tunic” I posted for sale last month. At the time, I wrote that I had made adult versions of this in the past and decided it was only fair to show you just how feminine and flattering the granny square can be.

In my youth there was a fashion for sewing huge granny squares together to make slash neck tops and t shirts, the results were often baggy, shapeless and very revealing.  Meredith solves this problem with a little neck and arm hole shaping and the “cross you heart” effect of the diagonal lines of the granny square gives the illusion of waist shaping. A hem edging in double crochet with a shell trim adds weight, which “pulls” the granny square. This extra length also helps to make it a more flattering shape for most figures.

For this version I have used a beautiful yarn. Willow Tweed, from the Louisa Harding range is a blend of Alpaca, Silk and Merino. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve used this yarn for garments and accessories. It hand washes beautifully, becoming softer and silkier each time. You’ll need about 500m of double knitting yarn to make a version to fit a size 10 / 12 (you want a cm or two of negative ease).  I used a 3.5mm hook, anything bigger and your trebles will have a tendency to pull out of shape and look untidy. A useful tip, if you’re ever working with granny squares, a smaller hook  can go a long way to giving your motifs a professional finish.

Don’t forget to drop by my new blog for more crochet tips, free patterns and general chat. You can also follow my Free Patterns board on Pinterest.

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From Inspiration to Publication

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The latest issue of Inside Crochet is on sale now and features my “Manchester Pouffe” , a great stashbusting project.

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I started by gathering all my scraps together and just kept adding new colours, in the tradition of the good old fashioned granny square blanket I decided not to worry about clashing colours, just had fun. I’m rather pleased with the results.

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And the inspiration for this project? A trip to Manchester to see the Joanna Vasconcelos exhibits! You see, sometimes inspiration comes from the most unusual places. I love my pouffe, I’m resting my feet on it right now. I also love the photos, kindly supplied by tailormade publishing – they show off my design as it was intended – fun and practical. Thankyou Inside Crochet!

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New Published Patterns

INSIDE-CROCHET_NO-52It’s always a thrill when new issues of my favourite magazines are delivered, and it’s even nicer to see my work photographed beautifully.

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Image: Britt Spring for Tailormade Publishing (c)

As you can see, the hugely talented Britt Spring has again worked her magic on my latest design, a simple Tunisian crochet cushion.

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Image: Britt Spring for Tailormade Publishing (c)

Quite by chance, the colours I chose for this design exactly match our newly decorated bedroom at home, so this now has pride of place.

Tunisian Crochet is a very simple technique, and the knit stitch used in this cushion looks just like knitting. The Inside Crochet team have written a piece about the technique on their blog this month, highlighting some of their favourite designs from recent issues.

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Image from “Crochet” published by Dorling KIndersley, March 2014

Also in issue 52 you can find one of my designs from the newly published book “Crochet” from Dorling Kindersley. On a visit to Cockermouth this week, I saw the book featured as part of a rather cute window display (the sun was shining so brightly  it’s not the best photo ever. )The New  Bookshop always has lovely displays, which really tempt you inside and the recent addition of a friendly coffee shop makes it an essential stop on our visits home.

cockermouth book shop

This issue also has a lovely article by Emma Varnam, in which she shows you a few simple ways to use floral motifs this summer. Ideal for bringing new life to last year’s cardigan or for making cute hairclips.

After a week in Cockermouth, we’re home now and busy catching up. I’ll be back soon with a few more finished objects and some sneaky peeks at designs in progress.

Whatever you’re making right now, I’d love to see photos, you can share by tagging @traceytodhunter  on twitter or instagram or post pictures to my facebook page. If you’re a “Raveller” you can also find the project details for the Tunisian Cushion here.

 

Pattern: Jemima Ear Muffs

Crochet_6Jan14-121I am just in love with these photos the Inside Crochet team have supplied of my latest design. These cute little ear muffs look adorable don’t they? You can find the pattern in issue 50, which is on sale now (I believe issue 51 has just gone to press, so you should still be able to find it in the shops). This design was definitely influenced by the yarn. Erika Knight British Blue wool is so soft and the colours so beautiful it really lends itslef to children’s projects. Also, becuase it comes in 25g balls, you can afford to splash out on a luxury yarn for your precious little ones!

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These ear muffs take 2 balls (I used Milk Chocolate and Steve), you can really play around with the colour combinations in the Erika Knight range and have some fun. The pattern is designed for beginners and only requires a knowledge of double crochet, increasing and decreasing. You could use any doublke knitting yarn for this project, but it really does need to be soft and not scratchy. I use this yarn a lot for baby gifts and the quality and the colours are hard to match (I’m particularly fond of “Mouse” and “Iced Gem”).

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I used a shop bought pair of ear muffs for my base, but the pattern also has instructions for making your own with a hair band and foam.

I’ll be back later this week to show you a more “grown up” version I made, which I really think you’ll like!

Happy making x

Photo credit: All images supplied by Inside Crochet

Pattern: Mistletoe Wreath

mistletoe wreathEarlier this week I decided to revisit the crochet mistletoe pattern I first posted back in 2011. This new version is pretty similar, but the pairs of leaves are now worked as one piece. I had this wooden wreath on display in the autumn, now stripped of its orange and brown decoration it is the perfect backdrop to my christmas wreath. When finished, it will hang over this little ceramic heart by the front door and annoy Mr T – who is not a huge fan of home made decorations – he’s more of a tinsel and streamer kind of guy!

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The yarns I used are Rowan Pure Wool Aran (held double) and Debbie Bliss Paloma. I used a 5mm hook. As each pair of leaves use a tiny amount of yarn, root about in your stash for suitable colours and use a slightly smaller hook than usual to make a dense leaf. My wreath is a “work in progress”, but now you have the basic idea I’m sure you could make one and decorate it in your own style!

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Pattern:(uses UK crochet terms)

You will need: oddments of green yarn, a crochet hook, small beads or felt balls for berries, needle and cotton, a wreath  and some ribbon.

Make 11ch, *1 tr in 2nd ch from hook (not a typo), 1 tr in each of next 4 ch, htr in next ch, dc in next ch, 1 sl st in each of next 3 ch**. Do not turn.

Make 11ch and repeat from * to **. Finish with a sl st in top of first leaf. Fasten off yarn and weave in ends.

Crochet ribbon: make 100ch, htr in 3rd ch from hook, htr to end, fasten off. (work a second row for a wider ribbon).

Wrap the crochet ribbon around the wreath. Stitch the leaves in place using a needle and cotton. Sew beads on to represent berries. Decorate with ribbon, holly leaves, baubles as you desire.

ps It would be great if you could head over to facebook and click the “like” button on my page, I post lots of crochet stuff there too!

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Christmas Pudding Brooch Instructions

For those of you who asked, the instructions for making the teeny christmas pud brooches I posted in Instagram are now in an album on facebook. Even if you don’t use facebook, you should still be able to view the link.

Tracey x

More Pretty Hats

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Taking a little break from commission work to catch up on some gifts. This pattern is so quick and easy. Originally published in Craftseller I hope to put it up for sale later this week. The navy version is a slight variation which you’ve seen before. This one is a bit bigger to fit a toddler. Hopefully I’ll be back soon with a few new published patterns, meantime it’s back to work on a new commission (you’ll either love or hate it …think tea at the Ritz…).

Crochet Collar

(c) image http://www.Crochetlatte. (used with permission)

Yup, there’s a lot of crochet on the blog right now! In the next three months I have 12 (12!!) knitting patterns being released, that’s a lot of stuff I can’t show you until publication. It also means that crochet has become my “go to” relaxation again. After a day in front of the pc proof reading knitting patterns I long for 5pm when I log off, light the fire and have an hour of “me time” before starting to think about the evening meal or catching up with chores. I had “pinned” a photo of these gorgeous collars months ago  and they definitely inspired my weekend hooking. Although I didn’t follow Katherine’s pattern, she has to be given credit for what came off my hook.

corsage collarYou can find the full pattern by clicking here. The flower pattern I used is the one I designed for my Baby Hat design in Craftseller issue 23, but you’ll find a lovely flower on Katherine’s website.

felt ballI had quite a lot of fun with this and  I’m pretty sure that a few little girls will find this in their stocking on Christmas morning!

 

Published Patterns: A Wool Week Special

The autumn edition of Love Crochet went on sale recently and included these rather lovely handwarmers. The magazine version has lots of ideas for customising with ribbons and buttons, but these are my favourites. The yarn used here is New Lanark, an often overlooked, but very beautiful yarn from Scotland.

The pattern is very simple, ideal for a beginner looking to move beyond basic half trebles and double crochet. Feel free to customise any way you like – and if you do – I’d love to see a picture. It was a real thrill to spot them on the cover, next to Ros badger’s cute beanie hat, and over on the far left you’ll spot my nesting bowls, imagine them in festive colours and they would be great for Christmas, fill them with sweets or make a set as a gift.

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