Do you have flower power?

Crochet flower
Crochet flower from this month’s Simply Crochet Magazine

In July my lovely friend and partner in crime Georgia is returning to her native land. I am desperately sad that she is going. In the 2.5 years since we randomly latched on to each other at a local sling meet she has introduced me to the delights of mac’n’cheese and white cake, and I have taught her to crochet and introduced her to yarn bombing.

In honour of her departure and to mark our friendship we are of course planning a yarn bomb. Flowers are the theme. We are going to coat a nearby deserving location with as many flowers as we can hook. And we are hoping for input from others too. Whether you are local to the Gloucestershire area and fancy helping us tie hundreds of flowers to railings or just want to contribute your own knit or crochet flora and fauna we’d love to hear from you. Big, small, any colour, we want your flowers! If you do want to be part of this yarn bomb (estimated date 3rd July) then email me at or @dillytante on Twitter.

There are loads of flower patterns online, and I posted about some here. Many such as this one are super quick to make. Or the above flower was one I made this morning from my new Simply Crochet Magazine.

I haven’t given much notice, in my usual disorganised way. In my defence I have been preparing for my college residential which was last week, and my stats exam (97%, thank you very much!). Anyway, we’ll be grateful to have anyone join in and will keep you updated.

Don’t say it with a card, say it with a magazine!

God, I love magazines. I know I shouldn’t but I really do. Even in the knowledge that most of them are simply vehicles for adverts, many with recycled content, I love them. I love the little nuggets of information, the aspirational photos, the smooth and shiny pages. I’ve loved them for as long as I remember, starting with my cousin’s Beano magazine, continuing with Quiz Kids and Fast Forward sent to me by my grandmother. If there is one thing better than a magazine, it’s a magazine that comes through the post.

My periodical love was nurtured by a two year stint in a newsagents, where not only could I read all the magazines for free, I got to keep all the free gifts off the unsold magazines before they were returned to the supplier. My choice then was Just Seventeen, Mizz, Smash Hits, oh and a dalliance with Chelsea Magazine, but that was really just to impress a boy.

I don’t really buy magazines any more, at least not in the volumes that I used to. I don’t go in for the glossy so called ‘women’s magazines’ that suckered me in during my teenage years and early twenties, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, nor the celebrity rags, Grazia, OK etc. The former prey on women’s insecurities to sell overpriced cosmetics, and the latter merely prey on vaguely famous people and their need for validation. And I have never gone in for the real magazines touting stories of rape, incest and murder, where voyeuristic vultures pick over the remnants of people’s shattered lives.

My bent nowadays tends more towards craft magazines, dream homes and design, and self improvement. The only magazine I now regularly buy, when I can justify it, is Psychologies Magazine. It’s full of pop psychology, and self improvement articles articles that just about hit that self development spot. Marginally more academic is Psychology Today, though it is American and therefore harder to get hold of. I have recently subscribed to Simply Crochet Magazine which I infinitely prefer to its sister magazine Mollie Makes, but I only for 3 issues on a 3 for £5 introductory offer. I just can’t justify £5 a go for a single magazine, especially when for a little more I could get a full on book.

However, since we are speaking about money for magazines, I thought I would mention a interesting blog article I saw on Twitter from News Stand. They note that it is hard to find a decent card for under £2.99 when it is someone’s birthday, or anniversary or <fill in your card industry invented occasion here>. With magazines costing only a little more than that why not try giving one instead of a card and give a couple of hours’ entertainment instead of a fleeting moment of pleasure. Sure, News Stand, an online magazine retailer, has a vested interest in presenting this view. But they have a point. I am fairly ambivalent about cards myself. I don’t send Christmas cards, and equally don’t get upset if people don’t send me one. DH and I don’t exchange Valentine’s or anniversary cards; it just seems quite a waste of money that could be better spent on chocolate. Or magazines. Cards get read once or twice, displayed for a few days, cluttering up the place. The odd really beautiful one might get a permanent position on a shelf or in a frame. A few with very special messages might get put away to be read again once or twice before getting lost in a move, but most have a fairly perfunctory message. In fact most of my in laws can barely spare more than a ‘To’ and a ‘From’ in their cards.

Wouldn’t a far more pleasurable and longer lasting product of the same money be a magazine? It doesn’t have to be offensive, anti-feminist, clap trap like Glamour or Company. What about The Week, for the busy person to keep up with current affairs? Or the Writers’ Forum for the wordsmith in your life? Always full of excellent recipes Good Food Magazine might be the perfect card substitute for the resident cook. And eclectic lifestyle magazine Oh Comely will inspires those with curious dispositions.

So next time you are in a paper shop looking for a last minute birthday cards, give the faux arty shots and lame jokes a miss and check out the news stand instead. You never know what you might find to delight that special friend or family member…

Modern Asphalt magazine
Happy birthday bro’
Sheep mag
More interesting than card with a sheep on it
Juggle Magazine
Even something for my hard to buy for dad

And it’s my birthday coming up soon, just sayin’…

The Simple Things Magazine
I’m a woman of simple tastes



Simply Crochet and a new hook

Loyal followers (do I have any?!) might have noticed that I was surprisingly quiet in the crafting arena before Christmas, contrary to last year when I was manically making things for presents as well as yarn bombing and making decorations. This year, despite feeling the unspoken pressure from other beautiful blogs and ideas on Pinterest, I asked myself who I was trying to impress and concluded that no one would think any the worst of me if I gave it all a miss this year. Obviously I love making things, but managing to do so with a stressful 4 day a week job, 2 young kids and other commitments was just too much.

I was far more relaxed over Christmas because of it. I’d had a rather tense few weeks during November where I had taken on too much. I did a yarn bombing workshop (haven’t I told you about that yet? Well, I promise to do so soon.) but since then I have done very little crafting.

It’s doubled edged though really, as while the break from making things gave me some time back, I’m sure the lack of crochet didn’t help as I so often find the process relaxing and meditative. Whilst I did pick up my hook a couple of times, I’m no good without an aim or a project, but with a project comes pressure. To be honest, I felt like I’d lost my crafting mojo.

My creative interest has now been rekindled however, with the advent of a new crochet magazine dropping through my door.

Simply Crochet magazine comes from the publishers of Mollie Makes, but is pretty much just crochet, as you would expect from the title. It has a similar format to MM but is slightly less twee, after all, there are only so many knitted or sewn food stuffs one girl needs. At £4.99 a go I’m not sure it will be a regular purchase, these are austere times after all, and for all the make do and mend talk, crafting can be an expensive habit. But I managed to get a 3 for £5 intro offer which was hard to refuse.

I decided to make a simple one evening project from the magazine. At the same time I could test drive a new crochet hook.

At Mumsnet Blogfest last year I was introduced to a lovely lady called Helen who runs an online wool shop called Love Knitting. She asked if I would provide her with some feedback on the site, and also said that if I wanted to review anything to just let her know.

I needed to purchase some wool for my workshop so a bought a few bits which came promptly, and nicely wrapped in tissue paper. There is a range of yarn on the site to suit various budgets as well as plenty of accessories. I was drawn to the interesting crochet hooks she stocks so asked if I could try one, any one would do. I do love a nice hook!

A few days later I received a beautiful looking bamboo hook. Helen also sent me some lovely sparkly white yarn which I fully intended to make heaps of snowflakes with, but the pre-Christmas wobbly put paid to that – sorry Helen! I will put it to good use eventually.

The hook is a Knit-Pro Symfonie bamboo hook. I’ve never used a bamboo hook before. I like the weight of the old fashioned metal hooks, but this one is a beauty. It is light as a feather to use, and very smooth. I found the end of the hook very sharp which had a tendency to split the yarn, though I think a lot of that was down to the yarn anyway. Annoyingly after just a few uses the printed size on the hook has all but rubbed off (but no matter because next month’s Simply Crochet comes with a free hook gauge!). Other than that I really liked the hook and will invest in some more in different sizes. My only real concern is that the hook appears quite fragile, and I am concerned that I might one day sit on it (a highly likely prospect) and snap it. Plus I tend to be a kind of “stuff in the hand bag and go” kinda gal, so we’ll see if the hook stands the test of my slap dash ways. Other than that I really like the hook and will likely invest in some more in different sizes.

Anyhoo, after all that time to show you the goodies. No, not those! What I ^made^ from the magazine. Here it is, a lovely brooch, fresh with my re-found mojo 🙂