Sunday, 21 September 2014

A Short Story - The First 600 Words

The First 600 Words

June slammed the scruffy papers down on my desk, causing my stale coffee to flood all over the familiar tripe I had come accustomed to.
I must have sighed too loudly as June raised a sarcastic eyebrow whilst chewing that infernal gum I so detested behind those ridiculously cerise lips.
“Thanks,” I managed to gurgle whilst vaguely attempting to mop up the brown puddle now decorating my desk.
“I’m going to lunch,” June spat, slamming the door behind her. She hated me as much as I tolerated her, I was convinced, but I had lost the will to hire anyone else.
It was dusty, and the heat was unbreathable, so I took to my customary perch on the ledge outside my 15th or 14th floor window, and sat – legs dangling – staring at the ants below. I picked at my sandwich and flicked chunks of my crust at them. I once heard that something tiny could kill a man if dropped high enough – maybe I was doing someone a favour.
I could hear the phone ringing, but too used to leaving it hang, I ignored it. That was June’s job, ‘oh yeah, she was at lunch’ I mused.
I thumped my head against the monolith of the building behind me.
‘Had it really been 30 years to the day’ I asked myself. I had been so full of enthusiasm – even after the two year itch I’d stuck with it. I was still convinced that one day I would find that treasure – that paragon of a writer. I guess the fantasy was unstirring. Yet here I was – consuming my lunch on the precipice I had become playmates with – the mortar cracks I had become au fait with and the spiders that spun the same homes in the windows.
‘I really should get June to see to a window cleaner,’ I noted, surprised at my still practically minded state.
I finished my sandwich and observed the building opposite – full of people just like me – in suits and staring at computer screens or shouting down a phone. Even up here we were all creatures of insignificance – size didn’t matter.
I clambered to my feet and edged forward – like I always did – just that little bit further each day, until the bend in my shoes became too free and the same reasoning entered my thoughts ‘only another few years’, ‘but another few years until what?’ I closed my eyes and waved a breeze through my fingers – ‘maybe I would fly?’ I entertained.
“Bob?” June shouted.
“Out here,” I etched back and relaxed as June peered out.
“That guy is on the phone again, he wants to know if you read his stuff yet?”
Sighing, I climbed back in to normality and took to my throne.
“Tell him I will now,” I replied, and with a snort June was gone before I could ask for yet another banal coffee.
I shuffled the stained papers together and turned them over, now crispy but giving a surprisingly vintage appeal.
‘So here it is. Was this going to be the celebrated best seller of my career?’
As I brushed away the dirt that had settled onto the scruffy works and prepared the shredder that was already brimming, I did what I always did.
I read the first paragraph:
‘As Bob picked up the now browned works of the unknown author, he was struck at the dismal presentation, even though he knew it to be the fault of his incompetent secretary. Taking his familiar lunchtime setting, he skipped with formalities and went beyond the bend of his shoes. For Bob, this truly was his Last Manuscript.’


The End

Thursday, 11 September 2014

How to crochet the basic stitches and make hearts with Little Hearts Matter

This Autumn, we have teamed up with Little Hearts Matter, a charity that helps support families affected by congenital heart conditions, as this October they invite everyone to help them raise awareness and much needed funds by making, baking and of course crocheting handmade hearts!

To find out how you can get involved, you can visit their website here: http://www.lhm.org.uk

So today I am going to show those who are new to crochet, how to crochet! and not only that, I will be sharing some heart crochet patterns for you to try your new skills on.

Crocheting is a wonderful skill to learn, especially if you have always wanted to be able to knit but you found that keeping all those stitches under control was just too fiddly and time consuming. Well, crochet is a wonderful alternative as you only have to work with one stitch at a time and projects work up really quickly.

So let’s get started…

When learning to crochet many people try to teach you how to hold the yarn and your hook in a certain way but it is not important how you hold the hook or yarn, you just need to do what is comfortable for you. The only thing you need to get used to is holding the tension in your yarn but you will find this comes naturally as you get used to crocheting.

1. Slip Knot

The first thing to learn in crochet is the slip knot, which comes at the beginning of every crochet project. To work a slip knot, simply wrap the yarn around a couple of fingers once and end them over-lapping on top of your fingers, now take your hook and put your hook underneath the first loop of yarn and then grab the second loop with your hook, pull the yarn underneath the first loop and then let go and pull your tail end of your yarn to tighten the slip knot onto your hook.

Slip Knot Video Tutorial


2. Chain Stitch




The next step is to create some length to your project whether you are working in the round or in rows. The basic beginning stitch is the simple Chain Stitch known in abbreviation as ‘ch’. To work a chain stitch, just wrap the yarn around your hook and pull through the loop on your hook. This completes one chain stitch. Just repeat this until you have the desired amount of chain stitches you require for the pattern.

After you have finished chaining you will either ‘Slip Stitch’ into your first chain to form a loop when working in the round or you will crochet back into your chains when working in rows. For our simple heart pattern you need to crochet 4 chain stitches then slip stitch into your first chain to form a loop, so let’s show you the Slip Stitch next.

Chain Stitch Video Tutorial


3. Slip Stitch





To crochet the Slip Stitch, known as ‘ss’ or ‘sl st’ in abbreviations, simply put your hook into the second chain from your hook if working your first row (we don’t count the loop on the hook as a stitch) and wrap the yarn around your hook, pull the yarn through the chain and the loop on your hook. This completes one Slip Stitch.

It doesn't matter how you put your hook through the chain. Some people prefer to put it under one loop of yarn, some people prefer to put it under two loops and some people prefer to put it through the back ‘bar’ (not seen in our illustrations). It is about what works best for you. I prefer to put it under one loop as seen in the illustration.

For the simple heart pattern you need to slip stitch into your first chain to form a loop, joined at the beginning and at the end as seen in the last illustration above. In the middle is a hole as expected. It is into this hole you need to work the stitches to make the heart pattern but I will show the next stitch size up from the slip stitch first.

Slip Stitch Video Tutorial


4. Single Crochet





The next stitch up from the Slip Stitch is the Single Crochet stitch (sc). This is in US terminology, which is the most popular terminology for crochet on the internet. In UK terminology, if you are buying patterns in UK shops for example, the Single Crochet is known as the Double Crochet (dc) but be warned! There is also a double crochet stitch in US terminology, so make sure you know what terminology your pattern is in before starting your project. Our simple heart pattern below and all our patterns are in US terminology unless otherwise stated.

To make the Single Crochet stitch, you put your hook into the second chain from hook if working your first row (or in our case the hole we have created with our chained loops). Then wrap the yarn around your hook and pull through, you now have two loops on your hook. Now wrap the yarn around your hook again and pull through both loops to complete a Single Crochet stitch.

Single Crochet Video Tutorial


5. Half Double Crochet





The next stitch size up is the Half Double Crochet (hdc). In UK terminology this stitch is known as the Half Treble Crochet (htr). To work the Half Double Crochet stitch wrap the yarn around your hook before working the stitch, this gives you two loops on your hook. Put your hook into the third chain from hook if working your first row then wrap the yarn around your hook and pull through, this gives you three loops on your hook. Wrap the yarn around your hook again and pull through all three loops on your hook to complete a Half Double Crochet stitch.

Half Double Crochet Tutorial


6. Double Crochet





The next stitch size up is the Double Crochet (dc). In UK terminology this stitch is known as a Treble Crochet (tr). To work the Double Crochet stitch wrap the yarn around your hook before working the stitch, this gives you two loops on your hook. Put your hook into the fourth chain from hook if working your first row then wrap the yarn around your hook and pull through, this gives you three loops on your hook. Wrap the yarn around your hook and pull through the first two loops, you now have two loops on your hook, wrap the yarn around your hook again and pull through both remaining loops to complete a Double Crochet stitch.

Double Crochet Tutorial


7. Treble Crochet





The next stitch size up is the Treble Crochet (tr). In UK terminology this stitch is known as a Double Treble Crochet (dtr). To work the Treble Crochet stitch wrap the yarn around your hook twice before working the stitch, this gives you three loops on your hook. Put your hook into the fifth chain from hook if working your first row then wrap the yarn around your hook and pull through, this gives you four loops on your hook. Wrap the yarn around your hook and pull through the first two loops; you now have three loops on your hook. Wrap the yarn around your hook again and pull through the next two loops, you now have two loops remaining on your hook. Wrap the yarn around your hook again and pull through both remaining loops to complete a Treble Crochet stitch.

Treble Crochet Tutorial


8. Heart Pattern

So once you are happy practicing these stitches then let’s move on to our Simple Heart crochet pattern which uses all these stitches except the half double crochet. Like I said before, to start the heart you need to crochet 4 chains and slip stitch into your first chain to form a loop, and then work the relevant stitches into the centre of that loop.



Stitch Abbreviation Guide

ch = chain
sl St = slip stitch
sc = single crochet
dc = double crochet
tr = treble crochet

Pattern is in US terminology.

Step 1
Ch4, sl st in 1st ch to form a loop

Step 2
Crochet 5sc into loop, sl st in 1st sc to join round - (5)

Step 3
Ch3 (count as st), 1dc in same st as chs (the one you sl st into earlier), 2dc in next st, [4tr, 1sl st] in next st, 4tr in next st, 2dc in next st, 1dc in 'fake' last st (I say fake because this stitch is not actually a stitch, you would normally just sl st into the top of your chains to join the round but I want you to add an extra dc here), now sl st in top of 3ch to join - (16) Fasten off and tie in all tails.

Tip* When crocheting a stitch it helps to twist the hook downwards to get through the loops and then twist back up when through.

So simple yet so cute! I hope you like it too. Why not make lots of heart and use them as confetti on a table for a romantic meal, or perhaps make them into earrings, or just make them for fun. Whatever you decide to do I hope you enjoy your crocheting journey, and remember! it doesn’t have to be perfect first time, everything comes with practice. If you’re feeling confident in your stitches then you may like to check out some of our other heart crochet patterns here as well.

Crochet Bunting Video Tutorial


Crocheted Padded Heart
http://happyberrycrochet.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/crochet-love-heart-free-pattern.html

Crochet Heart Bracelet
http://happyberrycrochet.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/quick-and-simple-crochet-heart-bracelet.html

For more FREE crochet patterns and tutorials you can visit our website at www.happyberry.co.uk or our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/happyberrycrochet

Why not share your projects with us on Twitter at @HappyBerryUK and use the hashtag #handmadehearts

For more information about how you can get involved in Handmade Hearts October at Little Hearts Matter email info@lhm.org.uk