Pony Interchangeable Crochet Hooks -Review & Giveaway


The Pony interchangeable crochet hook set contains 8 hooks: 2.00, 2.50, 3.00, 3.50, 4.00, 4.50, 5.00 and 6.00 and a soft easy grip handle which fits all the hook sizes. There are also 2 wool needles, 10 stitch markers and a knitters gauge which cunningly doubles as a lid.

The hooks are neatly stored in a box and are described as super slick, colour anodised aluminium, extra polished. If you’ve been crocheting for a while you tend to have your favourite hooks already, but I thought this might be handy to give a newbie, or keep as a spare set at work, if you’re a lunchtime hooker, in a caravan or holiday home.

 Tip: while putting the handle onto the hooks is a piece of cake, taking it off involved a fair bit of pushing and pulling. I advise holding the hook end with a rubber washing up glove, which will give a bit more grip and protect your fingers from the point.

You can email groves@stockistenquiries.co.uk for stockist information. I note that the set is currently for sale on Amazon UK  for £40.95 (free p&p.) This is NOT an affiliate link.

*The set was supplied by a representative of Pony for my use. All opinions are mine and honest.*

A free set is available for a UK reader as part of a giveaway. Please leave a comment below for a chance to win. I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winner and will contact you to pass on your details to the rep. of Pony. The giveaway is open now until Sunday 9th October at noon (GMT.)

09/10/16 The winner of the giveaway is Natalie R

 

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Edward’s Imaginarium – book review

I’ve been lucky enough to be sent a copy of Kerry Lord’s Edward’s Imaginarium by Pavilion Books and am the last to take part in a blog tour for this amazing new book.  For other posts in the blog tour see: TOFT blog, Crafts from the Cwtch, Monty Knits, Crochetime,  and  The Twisted Yarn.


As you can see from the photo below; it’s a flip book which enables you to design your own monster, choosing from 24 different head, arm and leg patterns. There is a choice of tails too. The blurb states there are “Over a million easy-to-make monsters” I wondered if this might be an exaggeration, but got the resident mathematician on the case. It’s entirely possible if you take into account different colours, patterns, tails and other features.

A flip book of patterns is such an ingenious idea, really so simple that I am surprised the concept has not been replicated by other designers. I’m sure it will be! If making all those decisions is too stressful, or you just wanted to get started without delay, there are 40 ready picked monsters in the gallery section.For added inspiration and to see others’ creations go to #edsflipbook on Instagram.

There are 3 skill levels for each selection of patterns. This book would be suitable for someone who has mastered the basics of crochet, but not a complete newbie I would say. There are instructional help videos on the TOFT website.  It could also be used as a starting point for experienced crocheters; giving initial inspiration and ideas, but then you could really go to town adapting patterns and designing your own features. I could well imagine someone going on to make a whole wardrobe to dress their monster too. The possibilities are endless.

There are plenty of instruction pages including: stitch tutorials, the order of sewing up the parts, stuffing and sewing body parts (that sounds funny doesn’t it?!)

Kerry has written little bios for some of the gallery monsters. Here’s part of one: “If you’ve ever adventured into the forest alone on a summer’s day, stretching your legs and absentmindedly banging the odd tree trunk with a stick, it’s more than likely that someone very like Willow will have been watching you…..” This will really appeal to young children. You could ask a child to design a monster, perhaps drawing or painting  the kind of creature they imagine, then match it to patterns.

Edward’s Imaginarium was published last week as is currently on sale for £10.49 (UK) from Amazon  /from $9.97 (US) or £14.99 from TOFT  with bonus pdf patterns from Kerry Lord.

*A copy of the book was supplied by the publisher for my review. All opinions are mine and honest. Having looked through Edward’s Imaginarium I can wholeheartedly recommend it. There is a wealth of information and inspiration.*

A free copy is available for a UK reader as part of a giveaway. Hurray! I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winner, I’ll then contact you and pass your details to Pavilion Books. For a chance to be the lucky winner please leave a comment below. The giveaway is open now until Sunday 25th at noon (GMT).

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Designer Yarn Play

Near the end of May I received an email from Black Sheep Wools asking if I would like to review some new designer yarn. Well of course the answer was yes! Who isn’t going to want to try brand new designer yarn, for free? Then I was told I’d need to complete a non-disclosure agreement, I was not to tell anyone about the yarn or even that I was to be doing a review. How secret squirrel was that?! I’ve been sent yarn and other products before from various companies and have never seen a disclosure form. I admit that I felt quite excited and started to look around for crochet patterns; this would be the time to start on my first crochet garment, no more blankets, hats or scarves for me, this was obviously going to be a lovely big bale of yarn, suitable for a cardie, jumper or huge wrap, otherwise why all the secrecy and legally binding paperwork?

At the beginning of June a little parcel was popped through my letterbox, just as I was heading out. Oh…
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I’d obviously been very convinced and convincing about the quantity of yarn due to arrive, as Someone said “Is that it?!” “Mmmmm, yes it seems to be.”

Shortly after that an email came full of guidelines for the blog post; must be no shorter than xxx words, must contain no more than 4 links to the website, but should include one to x and x and x, the review must contain both positives and negatives, though obviously more positives than negatives, an original design could be submitted to the company website and would be appreciated, along with the blog post etc, etc, etc…

I may be about to fail short of some of these guidelines but this is my space, I have used the yarn and will tell you as many details about it as I can, given the quantity. The moral of the story is that sometimes bloggers get free things to play and have fun with, other times freebies come with expectations. Be prepared. But Black Sheep Wools seem like a good company and obviously have very discerning tastes in craft bloggers (the need for a winking smiley feels strong here, but I will not break my no emoticons in a post rule) also I can’t imagine ever writing a ‘review’ which wasn’t honest. If you want an honest opinion I’m your girl.

I’ve never used any Louisa Harding yarns before so this was a new experience.

Here goes…

Yarn details:

Louisa Harding – Esquel
60% merino, 20% llama, 20% silk
50g ball, 106 yards (97 mts)
Suggested neeedles: US 8 (5mm)
Suggested tension 18 sts x 24 rows

This lovely yarn feels quite soft but also due to its thickness of the strand (and the silk?) it’s strong. The band doesn’t say, but I think it’s aran as it needs 5mm needles and is thicker than other designer DK yarns I’ve used. I decided to make more fingerless mitts as it seemed just the right amount of yarn for a pair. I’m going to give these away as a present.

I used much smaller needles than the recommended 5mm, but the resulting fabric is thick and makes warm mitts.

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Although it’s really annoying it seems that it’s sometimes inevitable that wool yarns have knots in them. This is one disadvantage to using woolen blends, unlike acrylics which rarely have this problem, but most synthetic fibres do not have the quality feel of yarn like this. Unlike a ball of baby cashermino I once used which once had 4 or 5 knots in one 50g ball, this ball of Esquel had only the one. I decided to cut the yarn and start the cuff again, the fewer darned ends in a pair of mitts which will see plenty of wear and tear, the better.

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Lots of gratuitous tomato pics today I’m afraid, in my search for better light they seemed as good a backdrop as any. It’s great to come home after a hol to 8 plants groaning with ripe and nearly ripe red and yellows! Sorry – back to the yarn…

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I would recommend Esquel, because it comes in such lovely colours, the feel of the knitted material is fairly soft and also seems as if it will be hard-wearing and warm. I bet a knitted, or crocheted, jumper would be super toasty in the winter.

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If you’d like to check out Louisa Harding’s Esquel in Black Sheep Wool’s online yarn shop it’s currently £5.35 a ball.
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As I photographed the mitts outside on my emergency-stepladder-storm-resistant-stand-up-tomato-plants-please-don’t-fall-over-device look at what I saw…I’ve grown a rabbit!

Here endeth the review. A Manhattan is waiting for me on the other side. Happy cocktail hour weekend everyone!

Cottoning on

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A few weeks ago Natasja of CrocheTime blog asked me if I would like to do a review of yarn she sells in her Etsy shop. I’m always happy to play with yarn, especially one I’ve never used before so was just happy for Natasja to send me a selection of whatever she wanted me to try. When she told me it was Vinnis Colours Nikkim cotton, and sent me a link,  I changed my mind quickly – the colours are so delicious! This is my selection.
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Cloud Blue

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Fern
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Plum
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Red Violet
This was one I took to my knitting group one week, it was admired and fondled rather a lot!

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Information on the ball band: “This yarn is hand dyed and balled by women from an economically depressed rural area of South Africa. The scale of this product has empowered them and brought economic benefits to their community. Hand dyed yarn gives your garment a unique marbelled effect. Colourfast. Made in South Africa.”
The knit group nodded and agreed that yes, it has been hand dyed as you can see the variation in colour. Finally I could carry on knitting, but wondered if the ball might be best put into a bag at my feet as I worked – just to avoid distraction!

It’s DK weight cotton, comes in 50g / 119m balls. The recommended needles are 3.25mm-4mm and hook size is 4mm.
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Natasja said she’d noticed that my blog has gone to the dark side lately (! *mhah haha ha!* !) and wondered if I would knit something to test how well the cotton works with needles.
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I really like making practical knits so decided to try out a few different stitches and knit some washcloths. I’ll include my patterns in case you fancy taking up the knitty sticks and practising the dark art of knitting too!
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Moss Stitch Washcloth

24cmx24cm / 9.5″ x 9.5″
I’m pretty sure I used 4.5mm needles for all three cloths as I was using my 4mm set for my lace knit scarf. Either is fine as tension is definitely not critical for a washcloth. It’s such thick cotton that you could even use a 5mm needle (or hook.)
:: Cast on an odd no. of stitches. I cast on 49
::R1-4 Knit
::R5 –: K4 at the beginning and end of row, K1, *P1, K1, repeat from *
Repeat this row until the washcloth is 23cm / 9″” then K4 rows. Cast off and darn ends.

I’ve always really liked moss stitch – it’s got such a cute nubbly look and makes a nice textured washcloth.

The cotton is beautifully soft to touch, the colours please and there was not a single knotted piece in any of the balls. There is one issue however, it can be very splitty. This was particularly frustrating with the first ball I tried (fern.) There is very light twist to the cotton which means that you sometimes have 7 little strands lying over your needle, rather than one. Undo a row and you’re really in trouble because you’ve loosened the twist even more.

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A smaller version of the above, I cast on 39 stitches for this one. This washcloth measures 20cm x 20cm / 8″ x 8″.

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OOoh my favourite stitch, but do not try this pattern when you’ve had a G&T as it’s a bit tricky and you have to concentrate on some rows. I realised I had knitted a row, then undone it a few times and couldn’t work out the problem until I realised I’d just had my Friday early evening drink!

Vinnis cotton gives good drape; the knitted material has lots of movement giving a good flow. Obviously this isn’t important for the items I’ve made but I reckon it could be a very good yarn for cotton garments. Just be sure to do a tension swatch and check your gauge before you begin.

Basketweave washcloth

23cm x 23cm / 9″ x9″

::Cast on a multiple of 8 stitches plus 5 extra. I cast on 48 + 5 = 53 stitches in total

::R1 (RS) Knit

::R2 *K5, P3, repeat from * to last 5 stitches, K5

::R3 P5 *K3, P5, repeat from * to end

::R4 As R2

::R5 Knit

::R6 K1, P3, K1 *K4, P3, K1, repeat from * to end

::R7 *P1, K3, P4, repeat from * to last 5 stitches, P1, K3, P1

::R8 As R6.

Repeat R1-8 until square or the desired length. I cast off all but the last stitch, whipped up a 3.5mm hook and double crocheted all around the cloth. By this time I was yippeeing after all the knitting!

This stitch would make a super scarf in a chunky yarn on big needles, I can just imagine it. I enjoyed looking through my stitch bible for something new and this was a good find. Just don’t tipple while you do the latter rows because you’ll probably come a cropper like me.
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I really wanted to try crocheting the cotton and wondered if the splittyness would be better. It is, but you still have to keep your eye on the yarn as the hook can get tangled up, or you miss strands, resulting in rogue loops. I used my thicker Clover Amour 4mm hook (rather than my slightly thinnner 4mm metal hook) and thought it produced a lovely chunky material. Cara Medus’s potholder pattern caught my eye in issue 15 of Simply Crochet so I gave it a whirl.
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Vinnis cotton is good for something like a potholder when a double layer of fabric produces a very good thickness. I’m pleased with this make and it’s going to be in use tonight when I toss pancakes! Happy Shrove Tuesday all.
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I was already feeling a bit guilty for straying from my knitting brief but an old proverb came to mind ‘might as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb.’ Excellent! In that case I was going ahead and making Hannah’s (Not Your Average Crochet blog) sweet Springtime hat pincushion from the lastest issue (16) of Simply Crochet. (Available in the UK this Thursday.)
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The flowers are in King Cole bamboo variegated cotton, I made my own leaf as I wanted a nice juicy looking one.
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I sewed on the leaf and flowers and darned all ends before filling the hat with stuffing.
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I just filled it with toy stuffing. I figured if my sewing’s going badly and I stab the pincushion violently I won’t be breaking the pins on coins or weights at the bottom!
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If you’re keen to try some Vinnis cotton you can buy some from Natasja’s  Etsy CrocheTime shop, she will give a 10% discount to the first ten people to order using the following code: LITTLEROOM.

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Helloooo to my new readers following Simply Crochet’s Edits magazine. It’s very nice to have you here. I’m loving seeing people’s curly twirly flower brooches appear, the first photo I was sent was from mrspip (the link should take you to her FB page.) It’s lovely.

Anchor Freccia Colorful World Project

Recently you might remember that Coats crafts sent me an email asking me to make and blog about my experience of making some crocheted jewellery.

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I had a go and to be honest have not got very far, with good reason. Can you see the section of crochet chains that are no longer fixed to the necklace chain? This is not the first section of crochet that has worked its way towards the join of the link and fallen off despite my double crocheting the thread to the links as tightly as I can. Baring an hour or so spent with jewellery pliers, which I do not own, going along the chain tightening up every link this project is not going to be completed as I can’t bear the though of grappling with a 1.5 mm hook and the absolutely tiny symbol pattern for sections of the necklace to fall off the links and the whole piece to unravel.

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However if would like to see a more successful try at the same kit go to Emma’s Lulu Loves blog. I’d be interested to know if hers is being worn without slippage from the chain, but perhaps her chain was made with tighter links? If you would like to read more about Coats Anchor Freccia Colorful World products then check out their website here.

It’s well known that bloggers are sent books to review and products to test because they are more than likely to give positive reviews. Just the fact of being asked is indeed a huge compliment and gives real pleasure. So the temptation to carry on making the necklace then somehow sew it on to the chain is really tempting. However, I really don’t want to mislead anyone and generally hate to lie so I’m letting this post stand as it is, with the link to Emma’s more postive write-up and making experience.

One good thing is that I’ve found using a 1.5 mm hook and fine three ply crochet thread is actually far easier than I’d anticipated. The Anchor thread is firm so that even if you undo stitches the rest holds steady so that you can go into the adjacent chain or remake the stitch without difficulty. Just make sure you wear your glasses and sit in a well lit room – that’s my only caution.