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We've done it!  The keen eyed among you will see that there's a new page added to the side bar, dedicated soley to yummy pics of giant crochet hooks.

These beauties have been made by my very clever husband, who made the original hook for my Big Hook book. 

Mr Steel&Stitch is a mechanical engineer by trade, and makes and designs things out of metal to shoot particles around in (see, very clever).  Not only is he the steel to my stitch, but he has an extraordinary eye for detail and many years experience of making things very, very precisely.

Most hooks this size just have a notch cut out at the top, because of Mr Steel's fanatical eye for detail, he's made each of these as a perfect replica of a traditional hook, so you get all the ease of use of a regular, just in  25mm size.

And you can now buy them from my Etsy shop!

As an impatient maker that lives at the speed of an insect, driven by instant gratification, you won't be surprised to know that I've never made a jumper/shawl/anything bigger than a hat.  The Big Hook stuff is great because you can make a whole blanket in six hours, but those massive stitches don't really lend themselves to wearable garments.

I've been working on an autumn/winter collection and have gone with the usual snoods, hats and mittens, but I know I'm limiting myself by sticking with the 'quick' makes.  I have a cardigan in my head that I'm desperate for, a capped sleeve t-shirt in a camel coloured merino that is just waiting to come out, a monochrome, checked jumper with hot pink piping...

So I thought I'd break myself in gently by making a shawl.  The South Downs summer shawl that I showed you a few posts back, where it's just playing with stitches and colours inspired by the beautiful South Downs.  I've been making it alongside a whole host of other things, but it feels like it needs to be finished - before the summer is over and before I can begin on another 'big' make and tackle a t-shirt.

I guess everyone hits these points of frustration, or runs out of energy or enthusiasm.  To get that energy back I took myself back to the Downs, and although the colours are subtly shifting in to the golds of hay bales and late summer, it really did reinvigorate me to get it made.  Sometimes you just need to remember why you started on a journey in the first place - any journey.  (A merino, camel coloured, fine knit t-shirt is a pretty good reason too.)

Wow, so running a competition on instagram is way more intensive than I'd imagined!  I made a few pics to show one a day, and have also found and shared pics from different makers to give people chunky yarn inspiration.  There have been lots of lovely entries, and an all round really positive response, but it's taken over my life!

The competition finishes tomorrow (6.8.15), so you've still got time to tag your chunky makes and yarn pics with #bighookcrochet, and win a copy of my new 'Big Hook Crochet' book and a discount on a 25mm hook from the amazing BQueen Collection.

Dearest Everyone,

To celebrate the release of my new 'Big Hook Crochet' book, I'm doing a little giveaway over on my instagram account.  Go see!

It's published by CICO publishers, who have made everything look just lovely, and features 35 patterns - from scarves and hats to baskets and rugs.  It's so exciting!  And to think, it's all from a bit of broom handle.  I can barely write anything cos it's so bonkers! xxx

Or 'How to Make Your Blog Look Like a Super Pro Website'!

I am VERY excited to share my shiny new look.  On my leaving-the-real-world-to-become-a-crochet-pro journey I thought it was finally time that I looked like a crochet pro.  I have two books now, have been featured and contributed to lots of magazines and online things, but I realised my online presence was still saying 'amateur'.  It's time for an overhaul, and I know that when I'm looking for someone to do something for me, the first thing I do is go and look at there website, so clearly, I need a website.

Having spent a lot of time looking at web hosts and being really intimidated by the time or cost of getting something set up, my brother-in-law suggested I just use my blogger account.  Figuring it was a good place to start I spent 4 hours yesterday, wiggling gadgets around, working out how to add in tabs and links to shops and changing my side bar.  In a bleary eyed state I called him and asked him to have a look for me, and he sent me this link:

Free Responsive Blog Designs

Oh my G.O.S.H it's amazing!  You copy the code, and then paste it into your blogs html section in 'Layout'.  That is honestly it!  Five minutes and you can have something that looks super professional and it's completely free!  Now all I have to do is buy my domain name, and I can have it set up as a proper .com.  Anyone wanting to up their online presence, I can't recommend this enough.

Just to add to this, on some very good advice, this week I've started using a proper camera to take my pics rather than my phone.  It's so much better - the images are crisper, you can change the light levels, all sorts of things that give your overall vibe a much more professional finish.  Having been nervous of it, it's completely worth taking the time to do it, see?

Hello!  Our summer break began last week and we've been off on the first of many legs, visiting family around the country.  First leg was to my identical twins for a few days.  She has two boys of similar ages and dispositions to mine so it's always super easy.  On unpacking the car they saw this very beautiful bag - it was hand sewn by an epic friend (go find her at Sky Meadow Bakery, she's an exceptionally talented baker too!), and I always use it to carry my yarn about with me.

Them: "What's in that bag Aunty Em?"
Me: "Wool"
Them: "Ooooh, so ANYTHING?!"

Each nephew had a request, actually one nephew and an identical twin had a request, so by the end of the hols, these scrap-yarn, 'Hey Duggee' characters were left behind and tucked in to various beds.

The shorthand versions of the patterns are on the pics, but here are the longhand versions too (using US terminology).

Rnd 1. using dark brown yarn, mr 6, (6)
Rnd 2. 2sc in each st (12)
Rnd 3. *2sc in next st, sc in the next* rpt to end (18)
Rnd 4. *2sc in the next st, sc in the next 8 st's* rpt to end (20)
Rnd 5-9. sc in each st
Rnd 10-12. Swap to lighter colour yarn and sc in each st
Rnd 13. *sc2tog, sc in next st* rpt to end
Rnd 14. sc2tog to close

Arms: mr4 in dark yarn, sc 1 row, then switch to light yarn and sc for 5 rows
Legs: using light yarn cast on an i-cord (excellent tutorial here) and do 3 rows in light colour and final row in dark
Nose: mr 4, 2sc in next 3 st's only
Ears: mr 6, 2sc in next 4 st's, sc in in next 4, ch1, turn, sc in next 4

Rnd 1. mr 6
Rnd 2-6. sc in each st
Rnd 7-9. Switch yarn sand sc in each
Rnd 10. sc2tog to close

Arms: ch 5
Legs: ch 3
Nose: mr 4
Ears: just a loop of yarn
Eye: paper stuck on with pritt stick!  (well, we were on holiday, you've got to manage with what you've got to hand!)

Would love to see any pics when you've made them!  Tag me on instagram at steelandstitch xxx

This week I had a slightly unusual crochet commission.  Not unusual as in "can you make me a giant banana?" but unusual as in "oh, I don't usually make things like that".

But I took it on anyway (gotta get paid somehow), and had 3 days to make a 1970's hat, following a 1970's pattern.  For that whole 3 days, all I could be heard muttering, as I was hunched over my hook and yarn with burning RSI was: "but this is INSANE!"

It's a classic, Irish picot, frilly flower, bonkers bonnet of a thing, that I would never wear, or even come near to designing in a squillion years.   But I learned a lot from it.  By the 4th flower I was totally down with how to make the petals do that, lifty uppy thing, and by the end I'd say I could confidently make something out of a picot mesh if I so desired.

So this week I've learned to step outside my comfort zone, because you never know what you'll discover until you do (one of those being that I will never wear a floral, Irish picot bonnet in red.  Ever).