Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Get this book - Hooked on Mandalas/Mandalas to Crochet

I was whining a bit today, and contemplating how to justify the purchase of yet another crochet book, when I already have a good twenty or so on the shelf and a WIP list of a mile.  So I went back to the bookstore, for a Proper Second Look, after yesterday's Quick First Browse ... and before I knew, I was already in the coffee shop (WIP to hand) and reading it like a novel.

Behold - Hooked on Mandalas by Haafner Linnsen:
(this is the South African title.  In the UK and US it was published as "Mandalas to Crochet"

I was testing another mandala - beautiful - and that's my Ilona Heritage Hook from Yarn in a Barn :-)
And my cappo got cold

Doilies and mandalas have had a tremendous increase in popularity over the last couple of years. it is being coloured in and crocheted and turned into rugs and is currently the topic of a large project #MandalasforMarinke, by Kathryn Vercillo in remembrance of crochet blogger Wink.  This book ties in perfectly with the current trend.

If you crochet and you are online, you know about Haafner, author of the blog By Haafner, she of the beautiful retro pastel colours, the popcorn blanket and the doilie installations on the wall.  Thirty of those doilies have now made it into this utterly beautiful book.

Haafner was trained in cultural history and art and this is evident in her introduction where she gives a short background to her crochet approach as well as the history and origin of mandalas.  

The books starts off with a very useful "Before you begin" section.  This includes doubles pages of 

* Yarns*
 Comparing the same pattern in different yarns and hook sizes with the photos in 50% of actual size and the hooks at full size. How useful is that?

*Colour me happy*
Some advice on colour schemes and combinations, again comparing different versions of the same pattern.

*Read this first*
DO.  Because that's what grabbed me. This section covers some tips on starting, joining and reading the charts, including that only a section of each chart is coloured - meaning that you don't have to keep your wits together as the Where You Are in this diagram...you only need to focus on the coloured section that makes up the main motif, while against the context of the whole circle.  Clever!

*How to crochet the perfect mandala*
Starting seamlessly and joining invisibly. Increasing rows and how to keep your circles flat. Blocking.

*Crochet refresher course*
A couple of pages with very clear illustrations on the basics of crochet stitches, how to make those front and double posts, and then...so, so useful: standing stitches, joining with a needle, and weaving in ends...clever tips to make starts, joins and ends invisible. 

By now I was sold, but then the colour photos started.  Beautiful, clear pictures of her work.
I want to make all the mandalas. Okay, I probably won't, but I could see placemats, hot pads, a rug or two, cushion covers ...(and that was before I got to the project pages).

I see a protea, or a pebble dropping in a pond

Each pattern stands alone with a large, clear photo and the diagram and instructions on a white page with no embellishments or distractions (very important, book authors and layout artists!). On the pattern page you'll find a sentence or two about the pattern, a recommended hook size and final size (I assume when done with DK according to the yarns used).  

After the pattern section, Haafner included five beautiful border patterns that could suit each of the mandalas in the book.

The Grace border which I'm immediately going to use on a beanie!

 And as a bonus - some projects to make with your mandala.  Choose from a boho bag, hotpad, tablemat, summer scarf, flowery lap blanket, rug and a hexagon blanket.

The book ends with a list of symbols and abbreviations, as well as a comparison between UK and US stitches.

This is Haafner's first book and I really hope for another.  It is pretty, well laid out, the patterns are written clearly and simply and the look is crisp and clean.  I love it, easily bought it and happily recommend it.

Also find Haafner on Instagram and Ravelry.

Hooked on Mandalas is a Quarto book, published by Struik Lifestyle  2016 with ISBN 978-1-43230-657-1

So how did I justify it?
I love books.  I have a lot of them.  I read and re-read them. 
 And one day, when the bookshelves really spill over, I'll clear out and again donate some to the library.  But first I want to make all the mandalas :-D

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

When Santa's helper left his hat

It is a very well known fact in my crochet group that I Absolutely Do Not Like any form of toilet crochet.

Not toilet seat covers, not lid covers, not matching sets covering each and every object in the bathroom, not those dolls with their Spanish dresses covering a toilet roll, nothing.  I do not promote it, when it appears I cower in a corner until it has moved down the Timeline, and otherwise I try to promote beautiful, modern crochet.
(Yes...I know, but - my group, my taste etc.)

But then I made this:

Seems there's an elf about...

I know!! Bless my soul, a toilet roll cover In My Own Guest Loo!!

Okay, so I saw similar somewhere on the web, browsed past, but obviously it stuck in the back of my mind although I never went back, and I was putting up Christmas decorations all over the house, inside and out, and I thought, what the heck, let me ride this idea and make Prettier Toilet Crochet. 

Start with...a starting chain

Didn't have the pattern link, so I had to wing it.  Starting out with a base chain that would ensure a semi-snug fit around my roll of toilet paper.  Single crochet from there. I hooked quite a wide band of white, as I want to fold it over resembling a furry edge to the hat.

Onwards with the hat

Once I though it would be wide enough to double over, I continued with red, until as least a few rows taller than the toilet roll.

Now I had to shape this thing, with no idea how.  Some decreasing of stitches had to be done, and the first attempt (reducing one stitch every second row) left me with a veeeeeeery long, pointy hat - no good.  A decrease in every row resulted in a hat too short.  So in the end...it was every one-and-three-quarters of a row.  #exasperated

As I was going in the round as per amigurumi and not really counting, I marked the last spot with white, more or less went one and three quarters around before decreasing again...

White yarn marks the last spot

...until it was done and I folded over the white and then had to do something to the pointy bit, and I didn't want to make a pompom, when happily these appeared in a kitchen drawer of all places:

Jingle Bells :-)

And off the hat went, to spend Christmas in the guest loo, with all kinds of funny and quirky and pretty, Anneke's doily rug and my mom's potty (for used hand towels),  my poetry collection and cartoons, a 1994 voter's letter and some pretty pictures, my gran's frame repainted and a Moroccan wire shelf.

That's a beaded wire scorpion on the floor.

Toilet crochet, but prettier

Until the next project!  

Which might be green and orange...roll on Paddy Day?