Making a bath soak, making a mess

Blog, Writes

DIY-bath-soak

After the success of my homemade shampoo (read about it here) I felt pretty bloody good about myself. Inevitably, I thought it would be a crackin’ idea to start making more of my own beauty products.

I decided to start with my own bubble bath. How tricky could this be?

VERY TRICKY it turns out. I’ve tried lots of different recipes and none of my creations seem to actually make any bubbles. I’ve even tried chucking an egg white in the bath, which only seemed to create this weird meringuey scum on the surface of the water. Now I love meringue, but I can say from experience, it’s not nice sitting in one.

So after many hours spent scouring the internet, and a similar number scouring my bath to remove egg residue, I’ve decided to be resourceful, and simply rebrand my failed attempt at a bubble bath as a BATH SOAK.

I’m not entirely convinced that this is as eco-friendly as the rest of the internet will happily claim. At the end of the day, oil is still going down the drain which is bad. PLUS, essential oils, might not be as hippy and hemp wearing as they make out either.

NEVERTHELESS, this recipe has far fewer chemicals than the standard bubble bath you find on the shelf of a pharmacy, and this whole thing has made me more aware of what I wash with, and what is going down the drain.

It still makes a really nice bath, and afterwards you feel all soft and smooth and you smell really nice. In summary: all is not lost


Recipe for homemade bath soak

  • 150 ml water
  • 6 tbsps Dr Bronner’s castille soap
  • 5 tbsps coconut oil
  • 4-5 drops of essential oil

Chuck everything in a jar, mix it up, then shake the jar vigorously to combine

Wait for it to settle, then pour into a bottle.

Add a sprig of lavender to the bottle to finesse and voila! DONE!

Picture of ingredients for DIY bath soakDIY eco friendly bath soak. Use castille soap, water, coconut oil and essential oil with water. Recipe via A Ranson Note http://nicolaranson.comCoconut oil used in DIY bath soakShake-the-jar!DIY-bath-soak

 

The loveliness of vintage labels

Blog, Writes

All-that-jazz

One of my favourite things about buying vintage is that every piece has a story attached. Sometimes this story is based in fact – when an item’s history and era are known by the seller – and sometimes I make up a wild history myself. I just love that each piece has lived its own life before I found it.

When little is know about the origin of a vintage item, one of the biggest clues or hints into its past, is the label.

Sometimes these labels just tell me I’ve got a great deal or that I’ve bought something of quality. I found a pair of metallic silver Michael Kors pumps in Rokit a few months back and I have a delicate silk scarf that claims, via its flimsy label, to be Armani.

My REAL favourites, are the items from mysterious, unknown brands or shops. It’s these little badgers that make my imagination gleefully run amok. Over the years I must have spent HOURS puzzling about my the birthplace of my favourite dresses, filling in the gaps with my own little made up tales.

For example, take my orange flowery shirt. I wore this almost every day during the summer of 2005, with a ripped denim skirt, a pair of cowboy boots and some fake raybans. Who on EARTH did I think I was?

ANYWAY. Stitched into the shirt, is one of those nametags that tells me it was once owned by someone called Magali Viallet. Who are you Magali!?!?

I imagine that Magali isn’t a child. I reckon she owned the shirt when she was 19, and in protest against her twin sister stealing her clothes, spent hours stitching her name into them all.

So, here is a selection of some of my favourite labels.

I’ve spent some time googling them myself but if you happen to know ANYTHING about any of these makes – please let me know in the comments. In reality, these dresses are probably from a 1970s American equivalent of Matalan and my romantic ideas are entirely overblown, ludicrous and ridiculous.

Jean-Chanell

My favourite label of all. Magali Viallet, WHO ARE YOU?

Dressing-ClioSallySunshine-StarshineIsabel

 

Black tights and glittery shoes

Black tights be gone/an ode to opaques

Blog, Writes

Black tights and glittery shoes

The time has come to retire my opaque tights for the summer.

I know it’s hot and I know it might make you feel hot to look at my fabric-covered pins, but I could wear tights all year round. I would. And I have. When I was about 16 I defied convention and wore black tights and cowboy boots for the duration of the summer.

This year, however, I am baring my legs to the world. I’m doing this because:

A) I’m sick of hearing “aren’t you hot in those!?!?”

B) articles like this suggest it’s what you’re supposed to do

C) the irritants from point A) actually have a point, it is quite hot this year.

So with reluctance, with sadness, with regret, I have pushed my tights to the bottom of the washing bin, folded my tights up and put them away for the year, accepted that they are the adult equivalent of a safety blanket and told myself I can survive without them.

It sounds so simple doesn’t it? Just stop wearing tights! If anything, it should save a couple of minutes in the morning, non?

NON.

There are a MYRIAD of issues that crop up the moment the trusty opaques are banished.

Sit comfortably fellas ‘cos I’m going to list the myriad. Ready?

ONE

The moment opaques are out the window, you suddenly realise that all your dresses are far too short to be appropriate for the workplace. In a tight, I can skip around, pick up boxes, even venture outside on a windy day. Once the legs are bare, I’m in constant danger of flashing someone and all my dresses seem to reveal an awkward amount of thigh.

TWO

I don’t mean to get all Protein World here, but I don’t feel “summer body ready”. I feel like a thumb that’s been under a plaster and has gone all pink and wibbly. As females, before baring our legs, we’re generally supposed to make them completely and utterly BALD like the head of Harry Hill. That takes a while and is boring and/or expensive.

My legs are also the colour of an albino earth worm. I think the next stage, generally expected of me by a society influenced by the Daily Fail Sidebar of Shame, is to go to Boots, buy a bottle of brown, and then pour the brown on my legs. FEMINIST RANT AIR HORN: Why do I have to do this and my boyfriend doesn’t? Why can’t I leap around like a happy antelope with white hairy legs?

‘White hairy legs’ sounds gross doesn’t it? But Ryan Gosling has white hairy legs, and that’s not gross, and antelopes have hairy legs too and they are the most elegant creatures there are! Exhibit A.

I say let’s change our leg-inspo icons. Less GISELE, more GAZELLE?

THREE

I am incredibly clumsy and I go about my business bumping into stuff and acquiring a fair amount of bruises along the way. In fact, I tripped up a curb and fell onto the street a few weeks ago. Completely flat on the floor. A few days later I fell down the stairs.

Do you ever wonder who actually needs to be reminded to ‘mind the gap’ when leaving the tube? ME. I once fell down the aforementioned gap and had to be hoiked out by a random.

In summary, I am Madame Bump and my legs reflect this.

In the summer I can’t cover these catastrophes with a double-figure denier. I have to bare them, with all their cuts and scrapes looking like I’ve been dragged through a bramble bush, set on fire and then pelted with bruise-hued paintballs.

Don’t tell me to use concealer – do you not think I’ve tried this? It doesn’t work.

FOUR

What am I doing with my shoes? All shoes look completely different without tights. I know some people can pull off bare legs and black boots, but I just look like I got distracted while getting dressed and forgot to wear something. It just looks wrong.

And then pumps. Do you wear socks, or are we also going sockless all summer? And don’t get me started on sandals. My feet resemble something from Lord of the Rings, it takes weeks of work to make them suitable for a general audience.

In summary, the day I have to cast aside my trusty opaque tights is a really sad one. On the flip side, I appreciate there are far more pressing issues in the world right now, so basically dear Nicola, suck it up and get over it!

RANT OVER. [DROPS MIC]

Misadventures with a wildflower window box

Blog, Writes

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I had high hopes for our balcony when I started gardening in September last year. I saw our modest concrete enclosure through rose, tulip and poppy-tinted spectacles.

It would become an urban jungle, I thought, filled with hanging baskets brimming with trailing ivy and big, beaming flowers, birds and bees making the glorious space their home. It would be a balcony garden to rival Mr Hoppy’s, the green-fingered star of Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot. 

Mr Hoppy balcony

The dream.

We were in the garden shop on the hunt for plants when I spotted the sale rack. The sale rack always tugs on my heartstrings. I look at the sad, wilting flowers, disfigured petals and droopy leaves and I just want to scoop up the whole grotty lot and take them home with me.

I looked at Gavin. He did a reluctant nod. He knew resistance was futile. I bundled carton after carton of sorry looking pansies into the basket and with glee skipped off to the checkout.

On my way to pay, another garden centre misfit caught my eye.

It was a hefty bag of wildflower seeds, reduced to 50p. Without a second of hesitation, I threw the seeds in the basket and off we went.

That afternoon, I spent a good few hours carefully potting all my new planty friends in their containers and window boxes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASpring balcony 3.jpgWindowbox

The final touch, the pièce de résistance if you will, was the bag of wildflower seeds.

With what can only be described as “reckless abandon” me and Gavin sprinkled the whole bag all over the balcony – no pot escaped the seed sprinkle.

“WE’LL HAVE A BALCONY MEADOW!” I declared with joy, arms flung wide Hills are Alive style.



Let’s fast forward to June shall we? We’ve just returned from a two week holiday. After much umming and ahhing beforehand about what to do with our plants, we bunged some in the bath, and the rest we left outside at the mercy of mother nature, hoping that while we were away it would rain enough to keep them all alive.

The balcony now looks atrocious. It’s like the scene from the Lion King when Scar takes over the Pride Lands. Everything is parched and impoverished. The window boxes are barely visible beneath swathes of yellow grass and weeds. The once blossoming strawberry plant has shrivelled. I’ve never considered lawn-mowing a window box before, but at one point it looked like the most sensible option.

To say the wildflower window box was a mistake would be unfair and perhaps premature. I think it’s more a case of unrealistic expectations, combined with a long period of time without water.

In fact, despite everything, I spotted a fuzzy little bee hanging out among the stems the other day, which was the main purpose of the wildflowers in the first place. 

A little bee having a rest in what’s left of my strawberry plant.

Plus, after significant plucking and pruning, trimming and watering, I think they’re starting to look a lot healthier and might just be on the mend. I’ll keep you posted.

But in the meantime, a gardening tip from someone who knows nothing about gardening: Don’t plant a metric ton of wildflower seeds in containers and then abruptly stop watering them. They. Will. Die.

 

Home Etc
Bicarbonate of soda and apple cider vinegar DIY shampoo recipe

How to save the environment and get hair like Kate Middleton

Blog, Writes

This story starts in the past, so please dear readers, conjure a flashback harp song in your head and set your mind back to six weeks ago….

****

When Gavin arrived home one Sunday afternoon, he made the mistake of telling me my hair looked nice.

I leapt up from the sofa with barely contained excitement.

“DID YOU JUST SAY MY HAIR LOOKS NICE?”

He looked slightly alarmed. “Erm…yes?”

“Do you think it looks better than normal?”

He continued to look bemused. “Yes, that’s why I…”

“Why do you think it looks better?”

“Errr…”

“Does it look shinier?”

“Yes, it looks…”

“Does it look healthier?”

“Yes, it’s…”

I didn’t let him finish because I had reached the twist to the tale. It was time to do the big reveal. DRUM ROLL:

“I WASHED IT WITH BAKING SODA AND VINEGAR!” I shouted with a triumphant flourish.

“Oh right.”

He pulled a face, then took a handful of hair and did a big sniff. With surprise, he conceded that it didn’t smell like vinegar.

Bicarbonate of soda and apple cider vinegar DIY shampoo recipe

Although I may have used some leading questions during the interrogation, I can confirm that my experiment with homemade shampoo definitely paid off. My hair does, genuinely look and feel a lot nicer, shinier and healthier than when I used my old regular shampoo. Six weeks on, I’m still using the concoction.  

Why did I do this?

Originally, I decided to make my own shampoo as part of a personal mission to be an eco-friendly Earth Mother, as recommended by  blogger and journalist, Madeleine Somerville. 

However, since trying it, I’ve realised there are MANY, MANY more reasons to make your own shampoo, not least the feeling of INCREDIBLE SMUGNESS it gives me. I sashay around, swishing my shiny hair like a cross between Kate Middleton and a dressage pony, with the knowledge that I am hacking the shit out of life! 

I’m saving money, zero plastic bottles are being used and disposed of and my hair looks better than it ever has! Plus, I’m not covering myself with a load of dubious, unpronounceable and potentially toxic chemicals like “Phthalates” that are often found in shampoo. (Seriously PHTHALATES. It sounds like a type of dinosaur, not something I should be putting anywhere near my head.)

Life = well and truly hacked.

 

Just to clarify, under no circumstances do I think I actually look like Kate Middleton. This photo is merely to show that my hair looks clean. Like it has been washed.

 

All you need is less

The idea came from a funny and informative little book I read earlier in the year called All You Need is Less by Madeleine Somerville. Madeleine also writes columns for The Guardian and blogs for her website. All three sources are filled with non-preachy advice, simple recipes and easy ways to make your life less wasteful and more eco-friendly.

All you need is less by Madeleine Somerville

The recipe involves mixing a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda with water. Then once it’s fizzed, pouring it on your head and giving the whole lot a good ol’ rub, Ainsley Harriott style.

After a rinse, mix a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar with water and pour over your hair and then rinse it off.

A drop in the ocean

I know that making my own shampoo is a tiny contribution. I’m just one tiny, miniscule human bean, on a vast planet with billions of other beans going about their business. But just because I can’t do everything, doesn’t mean I should do nothing.

Over my lifetime, I’ve roughly calculated that not using shampoo, conditioner and plastic bottles of shower gel will save around 4,000 bottles. That’s loads. Everything I buy and throw away has to go somewhere, therefore the less I consume the better.

I can’t prevent animal cruelty. It doesn’t give me free rein to wander round kicking puppies. I can’t clear up all the litter in London, but again, it doesn’t mean I’m walking around chucking cans everywhere. And just because I can’t single-handedly reverse climate change and the massive impact the human race is having on our Earth, doesn’t mean I can’t try to reduce my own consumption.

Visit Madeleine’s blog here to find out how to make the shampoo and conditioner and for a link to her great book. I give this recipe a big thumbs up. Thanks Madeleine!

The most annoying types of London commuter

Blog, Writes

London tube station

Board any London tube train during rush hour and I can guarantee you’ll come across one of the following people:

The squeeze and leaner

There is mathematically and scientifically no room left in the tube carriage. Yet this optimistic opportunist will take a look at the heaving, sweaty, compacted mass of bodies and think “yeaaaaahhh. I can squeeze on there.” They take a step into the carriage, their toes teetering on the edge and they lean, trying not to make eye contact with the people whose internal organs are being squished into oblivion as a result. Mate! Just get the next one!

The “move down” brigade

These clowns take it upon themselves to shout down the carriage ordering everyone to move down, with scant disregard for the hidden short people, luggage or guide dogs that might be taking up the space they feel is rightfully theirs.

Yes, sometimes there is a microscopic area of space that hasn’t been completely saturated with human beings, but bellowing uncouthly down the train isn’t likely to make others cooperate.

The person with luggage

Little dog pulling massive suitcase

I strongly feel that a rush hour train should employ the same strict restrictions on luggage as those imposed by budget airlines. If you can’t hold it on your lap it’s too big. I’m sick of having to stand while an Antler wheely case gets a seat.

The noise pollutant

Craig David born to do it, headphones

I thought that those Craig David Born to Do It style headphones were noise-cancelling. MYTH BUSTING KLAXON: THEY ARE NOT. A good percentage of them aren’t anyway. I don’t want to listen to Ed Sheeran at the best of times, let alone via the medium of tinny secondhand sound wailing out of a fellow passenger’s cheap headphones. Here are my requests in order of priority:

  • Turn it down. And/or:
  • Get better headphones and/or:
  • Stop listening to terrible music.

People with the black lunggiphy

If you’ve got the plague, then for heaven’s sake take a sick day. Don’t decide to take a busy train, then stand there snorting and grunting, coughing and wheezing like a farmyard animal. It’s disgusting, it’s spreading germs and let’s face it, you’re probably in some made up job anyway and are unlikely to do anything remotely important when you get to your destination. Believe it or not, the Earth will carry on turning without you for a day: STAY AT HOME.

The time waster

As the train approaches a station, they shuffle in their seat, put their book away and start staring expectantly out of the window. Then when the train comes to a stop, THEY DON’T GET OFF. You have already mentally sat down and you end up in their lap. Their fault.

And finally, for reasons of impartiality I’ll add myself to this list:

The over-the-shoulder reader

468px-Joseph_Wright_of_Derby._Girl_Reading_a_Letter_by_Candlelight,_With_a_Young_Man_Peering_over_Her_Shoulder._c.1760-62

In my defense I don’t take my own paper because I don’t want to spend my commute reading the Metro. It’s rubbish and it makes my fingers all inky. But sometimes, before I really know what I’m doing, I find myself engrossed in someone else’s paper. It must be incredibly annoying, and it definitely doesn’t go unnoticed; once a man asked if I was ready for him to turn the page and another time a lady offered me her copy. For all those unfortunate souls who end up sat next to me, I can only apologise.

If you liked this, you might like: LIES ESTATE AGENTS TELL

Crochet sunburst granny square afghan baby blanket

Crochet// How I made my sunburst baby blanket

Blog, Writes

Crochet sunburst granny square afghan baby blanket

Two of our best friends are about to have their first baby and Gavin and I are really excited about becoming a Funcle and Faunt (fake-uncle and fake-aunt)!  Even though I haven’t met the little champion yet, I know they are going to be an absolute dude/dudette. As a ‘welcome to the world’ gift for the new tiny person, I made this sparkly sunburst crochet baby blanket.

Crochet sunburst granny square afghan baby blanket

The wool

In a local shop I found some sparkly DK wool in white, pink and blue pastel colours. Like a magpie, I was sucked in by the shiny things and I bought the LOT. Aside from the glitter, I chose this wool because it’s acrylic, machine washable and I thought that would make it durable enough to withstand anything the baby throws at it!

I’ve not used sparkle wool before and if I’m honest, I probably won’t again. Yes, the blanket looks like it belongs to a magical unicorn. Yes, this little handcrafted baby quilt would feel at home in Disney’s Cinderella CastleAlas, the sparkliness of the wool made it difficult to crochet with. Specifically, the shimmery threads are tighter than the normal threads and they make the wool look less smooth and a bit wiry once finished. 

The process

To make the blanket, I firstly consulted the internet, and all those who sail on her. (Weird thing to write. Very weird. Sorry).

As I mentioned in a previous post, I find it difficult to follow a pattern straight away, so I first enlisted the help of Sarah-Jayne from Bella Coco and her infinitely helpful YouTube tutorials. I crocheted along to the video above to make the first few squares. Then I decided I was ready to use a pattern. This blogpost by Nitty Bits was really helpful.

In total, I crocheted sixteen sunburst granny squares.

Nicola-sunburst-crochet-granny-square-baby-blanket-gif

Once I’d made the squares I watched this video tutorial which showed me how to stitch them all together. There’s a number of different ways to attach granny squares, but this particular method is my favourite and uses a needle and thread. I personally think it looks the neatest.

This arduous task took a bit longer than expected, so I’d recommend allowing a extra time to do this!

I then weaved in all the loose strands of wool – again something that took longer than expected! Slugs on the Refrigerator has a great tutorial that shows how to do this.

I then crocheted a border around the outside using white and blue wool until I thought it was big enough. This is the finished result!

Crochet sunburst afghan baby blanket

Have you ever made a baby blanket? Share a link in the comments section!

 

Whatever you do, DON’T tell me to calm down

Blog, Writes

Angry

On International Women’s Day 2016, I thought I’d share my two penneth about a well-talked about issue that I feel helps to maintain inequality and bias.

Sometimes, in the midst of an argument or a debate, just as I’m getting into the swing of it and saying some really good stuff, I will find myself the unfortunate recipient of the Crazy Lady Card.

The Crazy Lady Card is an age-old technique deployed every day  by a wide range of people, from colleagues to the Prime Minister.

Sometimes it’s an accusation that you’re being dramatic or are overreacting. Sometimes you’re told to ‘calm down dear’. Sometimes it’s the shake of a head, a shrug and the declaration that ‘b***hes be cray’.

Now I’m the first to admit that at times I can be over dramatic. Partial to the use of hyperbole to get my point across, I will often pronounce something to be the best/worst thing that has EVER happened to me. However I am also capable of forming a perfectly rational, sensible argument and it’s when I am expressing these thoughtful, logical opinions that I object to being branded a maniac.

The Crazy Lady Card is often used when the gentleman I am at loggerheads with is either wrong and losing, or I have justifiably become annoyed by something that has been said.

Either way, its a cheap trick used as a last resort when your conversational opponent has nothing left to say and their artillery of genuine, prudent rebuttals is empty.  It’s an attempt by them to make your reaction appear over the top and to paint you as a hysterical nutcase, rendering your point of view less credible as a result. Basically, a way to make your side of the argument look like it’s a purely emotional response, not one that has been well thought through and expressed.

It’s difficult to know how to react when you’ve been asked to ‘calm down’ or told you are overreacting. Because it’s incredibly annoying and also quite patronizing, but becoming even more frustrated by it only seems to prove their point.

When dealt the Crazy Lady Card, I find the best thing for it is to take a few seconds, some big deep breaths and a little read of this brilliant poem by Wendy Cope. It serves as a great reminder that you should never wrestle with a pig.   

He Tells Her

He tells her that the Earth is flat—
He knows the facts, and that is that.
In altercations fierce and long
She tries her best to prove him wrong.
But he has learned to argue well.
He calls her arguments unsound
And often asks her not to yell.
She cannot win. He stands his ground.

The planet goes on being round.

—Wendy Cope

This post was written on International Women’s Day and I’m linking up with Lulastic!

 

 
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Confessions of a lazy sloth

Blog, Writes

3433299832_d24f758399_o

Here are some things that laziness makes me do:

The lazy-person-lean

Rather than getting out of bed to get something, reaching out so far that literally only one toe is left in the bed, all the covers are on the floor and the sheet has come loose.

Sitting on my bed in a towel for 4,000 years

I’ve managed to drag my lazy sloth body into the shower but afterwards can’t quite bring myself to get dressed so I just sit for an inordinate amount of time on the bed in a towel. Just looking around at things.

Leaving dishes to soak

You’re not leaving them to soak, you delusional idiot, you just can’t be arsed to wash them up now. So you pretend to yourself that leaving them in the sink is somehow magically cleaning them, when actually it just means Future Nicola (who always gets screwed over by her lazy predecessor) has to plunge her hand into a disgusting, freezing swamp of oily water with bits of food floating around in it to retrieve the dirty plates.

Using my phone instead of my legs

Texting a photo or link to someone sat literally one metre away from me, rather than moving across the room to show them in person.

The one minute snooze

Each night I’ll optimistically set an early alarm allowing me enough time the next morning for a leisurely cup of coffee, an Instagram-worthy breakfast and the chance to make my hair look slightly less like the infamous barnet belonging to Boris Johnson. Yet when morning comes, I’ll snooze and snooze until I can snooze no more, and THEN I’LL SNOOZE AGAIN.

Sometimes when things get desperate, I even set the alarm for just 60 seconds later. As if those 60 extra seconds of sleep will do anything other than make me miss my train.

When I finally arise, all I have time to do is get dressed in the first bizarre dress I grab from the cupboard, give my hair a token swipe with a comb and my teeth a quick brush before running full pelt out the door in a vain attempt to get to work in time.

“Would you mind passing me that…?”

This one winds my boyfriend up no end because quite often he is further away from it than I am. Luckily he rarely realises until he’s passed me whatever I was too lazy to fetch *insert crying with laughter emoji here*. Soz Gavin.

 

How to get hooked on crochet

Blog, Writes

Wool

Crocheting is the absolute balls. I love it, because it’s such a cheap hobby, you can do it anywhere, and it makes me feel immensely proud of myself.

When I first learnt how to crochet I was in Switzerland with my friend Alice and it was absolutely pouring down with rain. In a chalet, in the tiny mountain village of St Stefan, we sat for a few hours eating chocolate and drinking coffee and wine while Alice patiently taught me the basics. If I hadn’t had her help I probably would have taken one look at a crochet pattern and found the whole thing too intimidating to even begin.

Wool 4

If you don’t have an Alice to teach you, don’t despair – it’s really easy to get going on your own using the many free tutorials and videos on the internet! Here are my tips on how to get started.

Get the tools

All you need to learn how to crochet is a hook and some wool. Start with a cheap acrylic, so you feel like you can practice and make mistakes without wasting a lovely expensive wool. The type of hook you need depends on the thickness of wool you are planning to use. A thicker wool will need a bigger hook.

You can get both wool and hooks on the high street from Tiger, from a local wool shop or you can order them online from a website like the Wool Warehouse. Local wool shops are preferable because they are often staffed with people who know what they are talking about and can help you if you have any questions.

I’d recommend a 4.00mm hook  and a Yarn 2 or 3 weight wool (sometimes referred to as DK), for example here and here.

Wool 1

Don’t walk before you can run

On Pinterest there are thousands of beautiful pictures of crocheted masterpieces. Spectacular multicoloured blankets, tiny crocheted unicorns, shawls made from the softest cashmere. You’ll get there, and it won’t take long before you’re able to whip up a handmade snood. But don’t start with this. Start by learning and then practising the basic stitch and once you have the hang of this, the rest will follow. If you dive straight in and try to follow a complicated pattern, the whole thing will seem way too difficult and it will probably put you off.

Watch a video

YouTube is filled with helpful video tutorials made by people who are brilliant at explaining and demonstrating how to crochet. I still find following a pattern slightly tricky to get my head around so I often crochet along with a YouTube tutorial to get me started.

Chain chain chaaaaaainnn

To get going, you need to firstly fix the wool onto the hook using a slip knot. Then you’ll need to do what’s known as a foundation chain. The foundation chain is a series of loops and is the way you start most crochet patterns and projects. It’s a bit like building the foundations of a house upon which you can build the rest – hence the name.

Take a look at this tutorial on how to make a slip knot and how to do a foundation chain. Crocheting a chain is a great way to practice how to hold the wool and the hook which can be a bit tricky at first. As always, there are plenty of videos online on wool and hook holding techniques.

Master the single crochet

A single crochet is the easiest and most basic stitch. You’ll need to know how to do this for most patterns, and from this you can start learning other more complex stitches. Watch a video like this to learn how to single crochet, then crochet a square or rectangle to practice the stitch.

Once you have mastered this basic, start working your way up to double crochet and then treble. Confusingly a double and treble crochet stitch is different in the UK and the US – Mollie Makes have created a guide to converting the different stitches and abbreviations.

Find somewhere quiet to practice

Practice the stitches in a quiet room where you can concentrate. Learning to crochet is a bit like learning to drive. When you first get in the car, managing the clutch and the gears at the same time seems impossible but once you get the hang of it it all becomes automatic. The same happens for crochet, once you get the hang of the stitch it becomes automatic, and you barely have to think about it. Good luck!


My favourite wool shops

Pack Lane Wool Shop, Basingstoke

Loop, Camden Passage, London