Good Hooking gets a squashed new home

Err, well, since I have singularly failed to update poor old Good Hooking for quite some time, I thought I should just consolidate my personal blogging empire into ONE unkempt blog, rather than scattering them all about the internet like pizza menus.

As those of you who follow my Good Hooking exploits will know (hi Will! Still not entirely sure what you doing on there, but you knock yourself out), I have been promising to update with a full inventory of all the self-crafted items I have lovingly produced over the past… however long it is, but I have yet to make good on that promise.

Well, today I plan to change all that!

Here, for your viewing pleasure, I can exclusively reveal my a/w 2010-2012 collection.

Sirdar Red Bamboo jumper

I love this jumper. It looks a bit wobbly now from washing (some of the bamboo shrivelled and went wirey even though it’s machine washable. The cheek!) but it has to be the best thing I’ve ever made. I love the yarn, I love the pattern and I love the colour. In fact it looks like I bought it from a shop. But as we all know, if I’d bought it from a shop it would have cost a LOT less money. And that’s what counts. Or something.

I learned about three new cast off techniques for this one. The neckline kept coming out too tight, so I had to keep re-doing it (leaving it a little bit wibbly after the 20th attempt). I now try to only ever cast off using a crochet hook. What sane human would do it any other way, I ask you?

Also, I actually used the right yarn with the right pattern, which I think is only the second time I’ve done that. It’s a thrilling experience, I don’t mind telling you.

Pullover with round or v neck pattern on Ravelry.

Last year’s winter hat

Crochet Hat

I was going to finish this off with some neat neck ties. And then I didn’t. And then winter finished.

Toe up socks!

Very fun, very quick. I learned many things.

1. I like knitting using the magic loop method so much I want to lick it.
2. I do not like knitting two socks at once using two sets of cables or one set of cables for that matter. What faffery!
3. I love Judy and her magic cast on.
4. The Lifestyle toe up socks pattern will give you a lot of confidence in just winging it a bit with patterns.
5. The short row heel is very clever, but takes practice. I pulled the heel a bit tighter after taking this photo.
6. The quest for the perfect cast-off may never be over, but by golly people have turned it into a science. I love the innovation, and I loved trying out different ones. I can’t actually remember which one I used in the end though, dangnabbit. Weebleknits has an assortment of stretchy bind offs she’s helpfully herded into one blog post.

Too-small cardie

I took too long to make this one. I used lovely Rooster Almerino I got from RKM Wools in a huge sale they were having (I started sweating when I walked in and saw all the lovely yarn on sale). But by the time I’d finished Cecily had outgrown it. Ungrateful child.

I then spent two evenings unpicking it all and getting the wool tangled up.

Ribbed baby jacket pattern on Ravelry.

Three Christmas hats

Crochet HatsI made Cecily a lovely warm hat (using the frogged yarn from the Too-Small Cardie) and then I rushed to make two more for her two cousins who are staying with us. I finished the last one at about midnight on Christmas Eve.

I made up the pattern based on a hat my mother made me when I was a toddler. I remember loving the hat, which probably explains why I still own it all these years later.

Yarn Stash!

I gave all my teeth-jangling acrylics to Deadly Knitshade – so she could go and create pigeon pullovers and scarves for telephone boxes – and upgraded to real wools, bamboos and cottons. I am now one of those smug crafters whose whole lives are tinted with a “retro” filter. Plus, my yarn stash is now one of the most valuable things in my house.

I will be the person stuffing wool into bags while the house burns down.

Most of it was bought in a state of feverish excitement from two massive yarn sales from RKM Wools and House of Linens round the corner from me (which I only just discovered – a bloody wool shop round the corner from where I live ALL THESE YEARS!)

And breathe

There are a few bits and pieces still missing. Where, for example, is the masterpiece that is the blue and pink Alpaca motif cardie? And where, pray tell, is the not-quite-enough-buttons chunky knit cardigan?

Patience my friends, patience.

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Always busy making stuff

It’s not that I don’t love you — I do, honest I do — it’s just that since moving house and having a baby I seem to find it impossible to actually locate things I’ve made, photograph them and then remember which SD card they’re on.

Such simple tasks in theory, and yet I fail consistently.

This is not helped by the fact that my brain likes things filed neatly, and so even if I locate a few items on a memory card, they get rejected for not being the thing I made after the last thing I blogged about.

Anyway, I’m just going to have to let it go and show you what craft-related items I have on my laptop right now (oh, and the death of a laptop has not been helpful in my quest to locate and file).

:: :: :: :: ::

OK, after a long search, I’ve found… some baby booties.


At this rate, the backlog could take a while to get through…

Anyway, I made these ages ago (last summer) from a lovely Japanese pattern book. They were extremely quick and easy. The downside being that Cecily left them on her feet for about 20 seconds before pulling them off.

After that, I actually altered the pattern and added a little extra row which made them less inclined to give into the merest tug from a curious infant. Unfortunately, this meant that they stayed on for a lot longer until Cecily decided enough was enough and ripped the entire strap off.

After that, I put them in my craft bag where they make me smile and where a baby can’t seek and destroy.

Look at her ickle chubby feet!

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Things I’ve made recently…

Well, I say “recently” but given the parlous state of this blog, what I actually mean is “in the really quite considerable amount of time since I last blogged”.

I’m going to whip through them all, keeping my usual hilarious commentary to a minimum as I don’t have as much time to play with these days.

That’s because one of the main things I’ve made since I last wrote was this:

Cecily May Milway. Born 30th November 2009, 6lbs 6oz

Aren’t I clever!

A girl’s got to have something to wear:

For her friend, baby Noah, born 2 weeks after her.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted that I’ve been knitting again (shocking, I know). All patterns are from the Erika Knight baby Natural Knits book.

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Dork Adore: Lovely Things for Geeks (including craftsters)

So, not only have I been busy knitting, growing a human from scratch and packing up to move house, I’ve also been working away at a brand new pet project: Dork Adore.

It’s basically a geek haven, designed to have a category for nearly every area of the internet that dorks adore. And, of course, it goes without saying that there’s a craft section.

Recent posts include:

  • Regretsy: The good, the bad, and the seriously ugly
  • Where the Wild Things Are amigurumi crochet patterns
  • Lafayette’s True Blood afghan crochet pattern
  • Bella’s Twilight mittens – free knitting pattern
  • I’m very proud of my new site, and I’m also blown away by the number of lovely writers who have given their time to what is basically a labour of love.

    Lots of ex-Shiny writers are on board, including Susi Weaser (my successor as editor of Shiny Shiny), Gemma Cartwright, Robyn Wilder and Anna Waits.

    I’ve also had world-famous children’s author, Alex Milway (he’s my husband, I’m allowed to be biased. Buy his books!) and Gemma’s other half, Charles, who has written a hotly debated piece about Twilight and how rubbish it is.

    And last but by no means least, my wondrous editorial assistant who works for my company, MiramusEmma Cossey.

    Anyway, have a look at the site, and let me know what you think. And if you’re a crafty person and have any tips (or want to write!) you can get in touch over on Dork Adore.

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    Brace yourselves, people, I’ve been… KNITTING!

    It’s outrageous, I know. I’m basically a traitor to the crochet community. But the fact is, I got myself knocked up (intentionally, I should probably add), and I started making a few crochet things, but soon even I had to accept that knitting has the edge over crochet when it comes to clothes.

    But knitted toys still aren’t as good as crochet ones. Which is probably why the “knitted character” on Harry Hill’s TV Burp is clearly crocheted and should be renamed immediately.

    Anyway, that was an unplanned side-rant and I should probably move on before I start getting foam bubbles round my mouth.

    So, here’s something I still haven’t finished crocheting.


    And here’s the same thing, made by my crochet-whizz of a mother.


    And this is the point that I got bored of crocheting trebles round and round and picked up the needles.

    As you can see, my first attempt at knitting is a little bit iffy. There are clearly some errors in there. However, it turns out that one of the things that has always bored me about knitting was the simple fact that I always knitted scarves because I didn’t know how to make anything else.

    And knitting up and down is as dull as crocheting trebles round and round.

    But once I’d actually decided to work out a pattern, it turned out to be surprisingly fun. And now I know how to pick up a stitch (why did no one tell me it was so easy – I used to unpick it all!) and do some basic stuff, I’m 2 jumpers, a cardie, and a nearly-finished cardie the richer.


    I’ll upload proper photos once I locate the memory card I took them on. But rest assured they’re a lot less dodgy than my first cardie. Plus, I actually made sure I had enough wool to finish the pattern – unlike this red one with the dash of “oh crap I’ve run out of wool, this will have to do” blue.

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    I’m Alpaca Girl’s Fiber Arts Friday featured blogger!


    The lovely Katy from Alpaca Farm Girl contacted me to ask if I’d talk about the fine art of crochet for her Fiber Arts Friday feature. How could I refuse? I am but flesh and blood.

    You can read my hilarious insights and homespun wisdom right here.

    Also, I know it’s shameful of me, but I gave Katy the scoop on two things I finished making recently: my crochet blanket (well I say “finished” – I’ve still got a row of edging to do) and my amigurumi Milo, which I made for my Milo-mad niece over in Australia. She’s already picked a hole in the back of his neck, which I think speaks volumes about the ingratitude of 2 year olds.

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    Cafetiere Cosy and a spot of DIY decor

    Yes, I really am living the dream. Not content with a black and gold tea cosy, I made myself a matching cosy for the cafetière, so now I have TWO tastefully crocheted items in my flat. Crazy, I know.

    Seriously, who doesn't need one?
    While I’m at at it, let’s talk about the furnishings. You can just see the white bamboo table which I painted. It was given to us when we moved into our last flat and we had always assumed we would get rid of it when we finally moved into our own place. But in the spirit of trying to recycle and re-use, I decided to paint it.

    Alex Milway at leisure
    I made those cushions for the sofa as well. Previously, it was a very tired and old chesterfield, and a lot of the leather had begun flaking off. I bought some duck feather cushions and covered them with material that I bought on eBay. They’re not only helping to increase the life of the sofa, they’re also making it a lot comfier to sit on!

    The room is actually tidy for usThe cream scatter cushion cover is made from the bags that our organic bed linen came in. I didn’t want to waste them and they were exactly the right size for the cushions. Al thinks they’re silly, but I like them! This is what they look like on the other side.


    Waste not want not!

    And finally, we have the lampshade. Al’s been promising to paint bright flowers on the lampshade for ages, but after about 3 years of waiting, I finally just decided to sort it out myself. Here you can see what it looked like, and how it looks now.after

    The paper is from an Arts & Crafts wrapping paper book – Victorian paper for a Victorian house!

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    New crochet blanket

    Those squares I started making a while back are finally being put to good use. I’ve begun composing them into some semblance of order, adding some in to the mix and sewing them together into – almost – coherent patterns. It’s almost as though I planned it that way!

    Anyway, here’s what we’ve got so far:

    The latest square to be finished.


    Here it is next to the first one I made (still my favourite so far).


    And this is the new one I’m working on. Still not sure how it will all come together (I might swap the corner pieces for something else), but it’s looking ok so far, I think!

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    International Crochet Day at Shiny Towers

    It’s amazing what I’ll do to try to win one of Jimbo’s beautiful handmade crochet hooks. Quite how I found myself trundling into work with a bag full of wool and an almighty hangover the other Friday is a mystery to me – but I’d made a promise to teach anyone in the office who wanted to learn how to crochet, and my word is my bond.

    All this was in honour of World Crochet Day, something that I read about on Jimbo’s Front Porch, and which inspired me to have a crafty day in the office, much like they do over at Fruit Towers in the Innocent offices.

    But while I was having these romantic thoughts of a bonding, crafting session with my staff, at the back of my mind was the knowledge that not all Shiny people are given to folksy crafting experiences, and – as expected – many of them scoffed at the very notion of spending a lunch break learning to crochet.

    Luckily, I know how to win them round, and once I’d bribed them all with pizzas (bit of free advice: carrying 10 boxes of steaming pizzas is not easy), six of them stayed seated (presumably, the carb coma kept them grounded) in order to learn crochet skills.

    Susi, Gemma, (who is already a wonder-knitter), Abi, Kelly, Lucy and Duncan all sat and listened patiently while I tried to talk through the hangover. Gemma proved (unsurprisingly) to be teacher’s pet, and was soon helping the others. Lucy and Kelly eventually got fed up after about half an hour of valiant persistence (they were just getting the hang of it as well!), Abi finally got the hang of it (she’s tried to learn before), Duncan was a natural, and Susi surprised me (and possibly herself) by not only having the patience to sit there and learn, but also by quite enjoying herself.

    In the end, my initial promise to teach them to make Innocent Smoothie hats proved a bit ambitious, but the rows of trebles (US DC) they produced were still pretty impressive! In fact, there was enough enthusiasm for people to get Gemma promising to do a knitting session, so maybe this is the start of something beautiful at Shiny Towers.

    You can read Abi’s piece about the day over on Crafty Crafty.

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    Teaching people to crochet in Crystal Palace


    The lovely Noisy Pitta and I had a great day back in June teaching the good people of Crystal Palace how to crochet. Here’s Noisy Pitta Alison herself sitting at our stall, surrounded by brightly crocheted objects after driving 2 hours just to come and sit next to a person she met on the internet. Surely she deserves some sort of medal or award?!

    The day, aimed at promoting the local shops in the area, was organised by the It’s A Green Thing people, who confused me recently when they decided to move their shop to the other side of the Triangle. Lots of people stopped by to learn, which was a pleasant surprise – I had visions of us spending a day sitting on our own while people gave us a wide berth.

    Teaching is tiring business (as Vanessa will attest), so thank goodness for whoever brought over the Eton Mess for us to devour, and for fellow professional blog botherer and Crystal Palace dweller, Rob, who bought me a pork butty from the food market. Otherwise I may well have *died*.

    All in all a good time was had by all, and hopefully a few people will have found the lessons helpful!

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