Thursday, November 29, 2012

Crochet yarn

Hi everyone!

I know I promised a post on flowers…and this doesn’t look like it…sorry! Before getting to the fun things, I just want to point out some little issues, mainly concerning thread. Ok, this is getting boring, I know…but I will try to keep it short. Maybe you can just skip the post, but personally, I found that figuring out these things really helped me a lot.

First of all, I had an issue with the way I was holding the thread: after crocheting for a while, my left hand was a bit sore (ok, I’ll admit, I basically couldn’t open it). It might be because my hands are tiny, but keeping the right tension of the yarn was incredibly difficult. I found out that there are at least a dozen different ways and videos on how to hold the thread and to improve tension (so maybe it wasn’t just me!!). The following one shows the way that works for me (but you can just look for “crochet holding yarn” on youtube and find the best for you!)

Ok, now that holding yearn is easier (or at least, I hope it is), let’s talk about the yarn itself: you can find it in any color, material, thickness…there are so many possibilities, that it gets very difficult to choose (yes, I would buy all of them too, but no, you have to choose!). 

I tried different types, and here I will tell you about my experiences. On the right, you can see the different threads I used and…I am sure you are wondering what a bobby pin is doing there…don’t worry, I’m not totally blind or crazy, I didn’t mistake it for yarn!...I just thought it would be useful to understand the thickness of the different types…sooo...let’s start!

1- Acrylic yarn: (peach color, the first one from the left). Even though most videos for beginners would advise to use this, I wasn’t extremely happy of its performance. It is a 3-ply (meaning it is made of 3 threads twisted together) quite thin yarn (to crochet with a 2 or 3mm hook). It is a bit hairy and fluffy, almost like wool, so once you make a stitch, it is very, very difficult to go back in it (for instance in order to slip stitch in the previous row) because you do not clearly see where the center is. Also, I was not very pleased with the final result: flowers are hairy and not very soft…I would really not advise to use this type of yarn.

2- Thick cotton: (brown). It is very easy to work with. It is a 4-ply cotton yarn. I used a 4mm crochet hook. The down side is that, being so thick, you cannot really make tiny flowers, but in order to start, it is a great choice.

3- Medium cotton: (pink). This cotton is quite strange: it is a 6-ply cotton. I use a 3mm hook to crochet it. Even if, at first sight it might seem easy to work with, it actually is not! The  6 threads are very thin and not twisted together well. What happens is that when you insert the hook into a previous stitch to add a row, the yarn splits, and it is very difficult to pick up all the threads it is made of. I like the effect once the work is finished, mostly for flowers. It is not a shiny cotton, and you cannot clearly see the stitches, so the attention falls more on the overall shape of the flower than on the single loops. Basically, the final effect is good, but working with it is a nightmare.

4- Thin cotton: (cream). This is the perfect cotton! I love, love, love it! It is a 4-ply, soft, nice yarn. I use a size 2.5mm crochet hook with it. And it is so, so nice: it does not split, because the fibers are twisted very well together; it makes nice fluffy flowers, without showing the stitches too much; and it is opaque..the perfect docile little yarn!

5- Very thin cotton: (violet). It is very thin (a 2.5mm hook works perfectly), 4-ply mercerized cotton…mercer…WHAT?...don’t worry this only means that it was treated in order to give it a shiny, pearly look and also make it a bit stronger. It is very comfortable to work with, but I do not like the shiny effect on all the flowers. Being so pearly, stitches show a lot, so I use it for flat flowers (like violets) and I love the effect it gives to coasters and doilies, but for 3-dimensional flowers such as roses or dahlias, I prefer to use a more opaque one.

So, summing up this post (which was supposed to be a short one, I know, I’m terrible!):
  • Find the way that works best to hold your thread as you crochet
  •  I find cotton to be the best fiber to use in crochet
  •  Look if the threads are twisted well together, as twisted threads make it much easier to work on previous rows
  • Use pearly-looking (mercerized) cotton for flat flowers and opaque one for 3-dimensional one
…these are, of course, only my opinions, and I remind you, I am only a beginner. So I would love to hear yours: please, comment and let me know what you think, which are your favorite yarns, if you have questions…

Happy crochet!
…to be continued
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Friday, November 23, 2012

Start crochet!

Hi everyone!

Today I will talk about crochet! Well, I started crocheting only a few weeks ago, so I am a total beginner, but I really want to tell you about my crochet journey up to now and to keep you updated on my progress, so that if you want to start too, you can have the encouragement that took me years to find!

Yes, years! The only person I ever saw crocheting until some weeks ago was my aunt. She works very, very, very fast: I could see her yarn and hook moving at the speed of sound in a totally mysterious and apparently random way. What was coming out was beautiful, but it looked ridiculously complicated to make!! I asked her to teach me, and I tried, but what came out looked more like yarn with which a cat had been playing for a couple of hours. This was probably also due to the fact that I am left-handed, and she is not, so reflecting every single move was not easy. Well, when that happened I was 15, but that was enough to push me away from crocheting for many years, until….

a couple of weeks ago! I was at the supermarket with one of my friends and she was looking for yarn. I asked her what she needed it for and she said…guess what?...right, crochet!! I was surprised and very curious, so I asked how she learned and she simply answered “youtube”. Seriously? That easy?...ok, That was it! If someone else with no experience could learn, on youtube, I could learn too…so I went to the craft store, bought 2 hooks (different sizes) 2 different types of yarn…then I got home and started!

Yes, I actually started right away!!! It took only half an hour to figure out how to make a basic flower followed by half an hour of bumping my head against the wall (not really…but that gives the idea of how stupid I felt) for not having tried before…that’s how easy it is!

First, you need a couple of good videos teaching the basics. Here are the ones I used (as I said, I am left-handed, but I followed the advice given in the video and tried with my right hand. This makes perfect sense, as all the tutorials showing how to make projects are so much easier to follow if you are working as the person in the video!)

 Then you can start with something easy, like flowers (I love flowers!)

…but wait!!!...I can’t tell you everything today!!

…flowers in the next post!!

Happy crochet!
…to be continued

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Monday, November 19, 2012

November like Warmth-berries&candles

Outside the cold has arrived: trees lost their leaves, the sky is grey, rain and fog keep us company almost every day, ...but even November has its little moments!

Yes! When we open the door and are suddenly surrounded by the warmth of our home, we just breathe, close our eyes and enjoy that perfect moment. We can light a candle; sit on the sofa, wrapped in a blanket and look outside through the window at the rain falling, while holding a hot chocolate in our hands. We can bake an apple pie and enjoy the sweet smell that fills the house (ehm…ok, I just pour apple-cinnamon fragrance in the diffuser on top of the candle
:-) …lazy me!).

But this is November: candles, pie, fireplace, blanket, hot chocolate, berries…and, yes, cold, grey, fog and rain…but don’t be so mad at them, they are just making those warm moments special!

P.s. If you don’t want to miss any crafty project, remember to follow the blog by clicking on the “join this site” button in the right column ;-)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My creations

Hi everyone,

today I want to tell you more about what I like to create: most of my pieces are made of beads (I’m sure no one would have guessed that! ;-) )….well I love beads (ehm…lots of surprising information in this post!) and I would buy all those little sparkling treasures (of course)… but, I don’t! (…surprised now? :-) ). I only hand-pick the best materials, because every piece for me needs to be unique and special: I put a lot of passion in what I make and I want my creations to last for a long time.

I use mostly glass, fire-polished and high quality crystal beads (Swarovski or Preciosa), as well as gemstones and pearls. I mostly take inspiration from nature: flowers, leaves, butterflies and snowflakes are among my favorite themes and almost of my pieces have a romantic look. Probably because I want them to make people dream (ok, fine!..I just can’t hide my romantic side when I design them :-) ).   

I also love to test my skills and to have the opportunity to be challenged, so every once in a while I enter a beading contest. At the bottom of the post, you can see the creations I made for these special occasions.

My pieces are all designed and handmade by me. Whenever I take inspiration from someone else’s work, I always give credit and eventually link to the page where the original design is displayed. I think this is a matter of fairness, as I deeply respect other people’s work. I therefore encourage anyone taking inspiration this blog to do the same. 

In case the above argument doesn’t sound convincing to you, please look here on the right! This is my mean face…are you extremely scared now? I’m sure you are, so please link to my blog!!

Well, after the ugly picture above, I hope you will enjoy the gallery below…and come back soon!

Lost in the Ocean - 2009 FMG beading contest - FINALIST

Native Flowers - 2013 - January Beadaholique contest - FINALIST

Letter from Paris - 2012 - Strung Out contest - FINALIST
Snow Queen - 2012 - January Beadaholique  Contest

2009 - Colorworks contest

Magical forest - 2009 - Stinging contest
P.s. If you don’t want to miss any crafty project, remember to follow the blog by clicking on the “join this site” button in the right column ;-)

About me

Hi, and welcome to my blog!

I’m Chiara, I’m a university student, but also an eager crafter. I started beading when I was in middle school, but since then I also tried découpage, cross stitching, sewing, decorative painting, and recently knitting and crochet…and I think quilting will be my next victim!

I was born in Milano, Italy, but I lived for one year in the US and I spent one semester in the beautiful city of Copenhagen (Denmark) as exchangee student. 

I am an outgoing, happy, creative and optimistic person (also very modest, as you can see :-)).
I hope I will be able to inspire you, or at least to make you laugh with my clumsy attempts to make sense of the world of yarn, needles and hooks, which for me is still a mysterious, incomprehensible weaving of loops and knots!

Have fun and visit the blog often for new updates!

P.s. If you don’t want to miss any crafty project, remember to follow the blog by clicking on the “join this site” button in the right column ;-)

The blog

Hi everyone, and welcome to my blog!
My name is Chiara and I’m a university student (not for much longer, as this is my last year of studies :-) )... no, wait, don’t run away!... this blog doesn’t talk about books or exams!!! I want to share my passion for crafts! I enjoy everything from decoupage to crochet, from decorative painting to cross stitching, but my deepest love is for beading and jewelry making.

I started when I was in middle school, just one small package of beads at the time...but I soon found myself to be addicted to any kind of sparkling little treasure. Here I want to share my creations, as well as tips about how to make your own.
Posts are divided by themes…there are 12 of them, one for each month (some look very odd, but in the theme section you can find the reason for my choices, just to reassure you that I’m not totally crazy! :-)).
Month themes were my choice because I see that people often don’t like some parts of the year; they tend to believe cold months are sad and dull, while I find every season to be beautiful and inspiring and I would love everyone visiting my blog to see how creativity and optimism can spark all year round!
Posts are divided between “creations” (containing all my handmade pieces and a how-to section with tips) and, “chatting about…” (other topics as book reviews, websites to visit,…).
I would love to know what you think, so please, leave comments with your opinions, ideas and suggestions.

I hope you will be inspired,
Thanks for stopping by, and happy crafting!


P.s. If you don’t want to miss any crafty project, remember to follow the blog by clicking on the “join this site” button in the right column ;-)