Am I Hooked Or Just Vaguely Interested?

About five years ago I spent a whole Summer teaching myself – with the aid of a book called The Happy Hooker how to crochet.  By the end of the Summer, I could turn out something like this little top.

Crochet Top

Then I stopped.

A few weeks ago, I was milling about after lunch with a friend in our local medieval town – as you do – when I spotted this lovely yarn shop, a rare beast in these parts as I think they probably are in most parts lately.


There was a sign in the window saying that the owner did one on one courses for knitting and crochet and although I know there are tutorials galore on YouTube for free it is in my nature to knuckle down and do something if I’ve actually paid good money for it and so I did.  Also good for my French.

These were my first efforts as I’d obviously forgotten everything I’d taught myself before – even how to do a decent chain to start off.

First steps with crochet

Don’t laugh at the banana shaped ones.

Anyway, newly inspired, I went home and sat in front of the computer, got hooking and progressed to these.

crochet hearts and circles

I had to go back to the shop for another session because she had (cunningly?) kept hold of my Happy Hooker  so I thought I might as well learn, first hand,  how to do another couple of stitches and amaze her all over again with the way I can’t seem to hold the yarn like she does and manage to turn the foundation chain mid-way every single time.

The reason she had kept hold of my book was to look at the conversion chart inside between U.S. crochet terms and English crochet terms which are different as, of course, are the French ones so for the first time ever I have found it easier to read a chart than written instructions because at least the symbols are the same in all languages.

Of course, I didn’t leave the shop empty handed and these will eventually become a pair of socks, though knitted ones as I am not so far along the crochet path even to consider anything other than a square, heart or doily shaped thingy.

Plassard Aventure

As with any new (or renewed) hobby, it’s  fun to start stocking up on what you need.  I have a yarn stash that nearly equals my fabric stash (who am I kidding?) so I’m O.K. for that but I bought a couple of books and a set of hooks to get going with.


Of course I couldn’t leave those pretty hooks in the plastic box so that was an excuse to get my sheep fabric out and make a holder.  Fabric with sheep on it!  – surely it was meant to be.


I’ve been looking for the perfect project to use that little embroidered sheep button for ages.


I could almost join Kate’s Scraphappy Day with this hook roll because the flap and inner fabrics were leftovers from other projects but I confess the sheep weren’t scraps but entire 😉

Crochet Hook Holder

So what with my lessons, my books, my hooks and my favourite crochet teacher on YouTube (Bella Coco) – watch this space for future creations.  I don’t know what they will be as one of my problems with crochet in the past was what to make.  I have enough of a hard time wearing the things I’ve knitted so I don’t envisage wearing any crocheted creations and I don’t like making toys (adorable as they are) because of the stuffing process and because my daughters won’t appreciate them any more.  Any suggestions welcome.

Nothing to do with crochet but I made a madeira cake yesterday – I used the recipe from Nigella Lawson’s ‘How To Be A Domestic Goddess’  because I was in that sort of frame of mind – and it was blooming gorgeous with the requisite crevice across the top and all.


I’m not one for ‘gooey’ cakes so this sort is right up my street with a subtle lemony flavour and quite a moist texture.  I did tremble a bit when I put all the sugar in but something’s got to kill you and I apologise if you’re doing ‘sugar free February’ or whatever it’s called but I actually consume very little sugar in the normal course of events and I didn’t have any sugar of the fermented kind all through January so I feel vindicated.  Anyway, I only had one slice as the rest was consumed by Monsieur and Madamoiselle Tialys the Younger who needed a bit of a sugar rush to get over the shock of me emerging from my sewing room and baking something .








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  1. #1 by Fred the Needle on February 12, 2017 - 12:06

    The cake looks yummy! Learning in a class is great it really helps to have a teacher present. I love the hearts 💕

    • #2 by tialys on February 12, 2017 - 12:09

      :/ I feel guilty now I’ve seen your ‘low everything’ flapjack recipe.

      • #3 by Fred the Needle on February 12, 2017 - 15:57

        Please don’t! Just savour every crumb, there is nothing more delightful than home made cake!

      • #4 by tialys on February 12, 2017 - 18:50


  2. #5 by nanacathy2 on February 12, 2017 - 12:55

    I prefer a real teacher to an online one, although I did use an online you tube wotsit to join my big garden blanket. Half way through she comments on all the police sirens whizzing by as she crochets. Love it. Good luck. I would say the best thing is to do is sit and admire the crochet hook roll, I love it. Mine are all in a little plastic bag! Whooppee for cake. I made afruit cake this week with all the left over fruit from the Christmas cake.

    • #6 by tialys on February 12, 2017 - 13:41

      The good thing about online teachers is they can’t look frustrated with you when you’re taking a bit longer to get something right than they think is ‘normal’. I’ve seen a couple of tutorials for crocheted crochet hook holders (a bit of a mouthful but can’t think of a better way to say it) – I’m sure you could knock one of those up when you get a minute 🙂
      Your fruit cake sounds yummy –

  3. #7 by Rosemary on February 12, 2017 - 13:17

    Love reading about your crafting adventures you make me want to try everything you do too! I’ve avoided crochet thus far because my fabric stash would feel neglected if I were distracted by another craft. Not that I wouldn’t like to give it a go but I’m kept busy with, quilting, applique, bags, cartonnage and doll making and generally anything that involves fabric!

    You already knit socks, so how about making some pretty crochet slippers for summer wear, or even a beret hat with a crochet flower. A blanket made up of squares would be usable – something to pick up and do when the mood takes you.

    Look forward to seeing how you get on. And…continue making Madeira cake, it looks delicious.

    • #8 by tialys on February 12, 2017 - 13:45

      Apart from the doll making, I do pretty much all of those things too and fabric is my first love but I just can’t help myself learning more stuff. Crochet slippers would be a good idea but would have to be for upstairs use only as they wouldn’t look pretty for long after being walked over the floors shared by my menagerie 😉 I do make knitted blankets but might give a crocheted one a try – eventually!!

  4. #9 by sewchet on February 12, 2017 - 13:37

    It sounds like you are a process knitter/crocheter, just like me, as I often end up not wearing or using the finished thing! Lately, I’ve become more determined to choose carefully and that has resulted in me wearing my creations. Blankets are a great way to feed the addiction – you can never have too many and they also make great gifts. Otherwise, just enjoy the making for it’s own sake! Good for you for doing a class – books and YouTube are invaluable, but there’s nothing quite like a proper class with other people.

    • #10 by tialys on February 12, 2017 - 14:21

      I am choosing more carefully too with my knitting. If an item of clothing is worth knitting, it’s worth knitting with good yarn – right? Of course, with that comes the ‘hand wash only’ label which then results in lovely knitted items languishing at the bottom of the laundry basket until I get my handwashing hat on and dig out the Dreft. Blankets are good but will certainly need to be made with washable yarn – especially in this house!

  5. #11 by claire93 on February 12, 2017 - 14:05

    I love reading your articles, Lynn, and have learned NOT to drink coffee while reading lol.
    I’m sure you’re a very fast learner really – seeing that gorgeous crochet bolero you made a few years ago, after learning by yourself, I’m sure you’ll pick things up again in no time at all (must be like riding a bike, no?). I bought myself a set of crochet hooks (same as yours) a couple of years ago as well as some books. One is aimed at 8 year olds, so if I can’t follow that, there will be trouble. I just haven’t plucked up the courage yet to sit down and begin, but . . . since machine sewing is out of the question at the moment, I might have to take that as a sign that’s it’s time to learn to crochet.

    • #12 by tialys on February 12, 2017 - 14:24

      Good idea Claire – crochet won’t hurt your back (maybe your neck if you forget to look up from your fierce concentration every now and again – or is that just me?). The girl I gave a link to on YouTube is very, very good and has tutorials from how to hold the yarn, to how to create the chain right through to quite complicated things and she is pleasant to listen to unlike some.

      • #13 by claire93 on February 12, 2017 - 22:25

        Since earlier today I have been battling with hook and yarn lol. I have mastered the chain stitch (minus a few tension issues).

      • #14 by tialys on February 13, 2017 - 10:51

        I have a few tension issues too but I think it’s the way I’m holding the yarn – I need to work on that.

  6. #15 by M. L. Kappa on February 12, 2017 - 14:55

    What a lovely, cozy post, Lynn!💕🌺

  7. #17 by sew2pro on February 12, 2017 - 16:22

    Although it’s still deep, dull winter here, something about your post makes me feel it’s spring where you are: the colours, the lightness, the cake!
    I think your crochet shapes are very cute and I’d just make more and stick them to customise woolly hats or knitted gloves (which would make nice presents). I like the flower pot/flowers in a bowl decoration on your book cover. I wonder if that’s an advanced project.

    I’m marathon training (London) so cake is damn compulsory, and I have the Nigella book but have never eaten Madeira cake except from Sainsbury’s. I’ll make it next week.

    • #18 by tialys on February 12, 2017 - 18:50

      I might make little heart or flower garlands – they might be pretty. The one thing I do want to make is a ‘cozy’ for my French press and I think there’s one of those in the book so I might start with that. I think the posy of flowers might be a little further down the line for me.
      I have always liked Madeira cake but it is sometimes a bit dry and crumbly. Nigella talks about adding caraway seeds (heaven forfend!) and a few other bits but I think that’s just idle speculation – it’s best with just the lemon zest and juice in my opinion. This was moist(ish) but light especially the first day but it probably wouldn’t still be around much longer than that would it? You need to keep your strength up. Is it the full London Marathon you’re going to do?

      • #19 by sew2pro on February 15, 2017 - 22:42

        Caraway seeds! My family would not forgive such exotic gestures!!
        I was talking to someone at work about Madeira and Madeira cake and outlined my plan for the weekend. She told me the Madeira cake they have in Madeira is a totally different affair, much smaller and more dense. Just as nice but very different.
        Yes, the full London Marathon which is the race that ran past my homes in Charlton, Woolwich and Blackheath which inspired me to start running many years ago (so every year I watch wishing it was me, even though it hurts!)

      • #20 by tialys on February 16, 2017 - 10:23

        Mr. T. wondered out loud why there isn’t any actual Madeira wine in it – any excuse!
        If you do make one this weekend I would eat it all at once as it is definitely better on the first day. You will have help I’m sure!
        I have a close friend who runs marathons – she’s a little bit crazy – she did the Iron Man/Woman challenge about 4 years ago and has the symbol tattooed on her calf. Mind you, if I had done something like that I might have the symbol tattooed on my forehead just to make sure everybody knew 😉

      • #21 by sew2pro on February 22, 2017 - 23:50

        I like the sound of your friend but am not so sure about the Iron ManWoman tattoo. … I have a friend with one of those but before I met him, I’d occasionally run up behind him at parkrun and wonder what that bizarre rather unattractive tattoo on his calf was. I couldn’t believe it was a permanent mark as it was so unappealing!
        My MIL brought me lots of flapjacks last weekend so Madeira didn’t happen but this week it will. And I’ll polish it off asap!

  8. #22 by Thimberlina on February 12, 2017 - 18:30

    I learn to crochet a couple or maybe 3 years ago and am hooked too! I’m not one to make more than one or 2 of anything as I get bored but have lost count of the number of shawls I’ve made using this pattern –
    It’s great for a pressie or for yourself and looks more complicated than it is.
    I also like to try new stitches using the stitchionary on newstitchaday website.
    Happy hooking!! 😃

    • #23 by tialys on February 12, 2017 - 18:44

      That looks like fun and how can you not love a pattern called ‘titillating tessellating hearts shawl’. I have put it in my Craftsy favourites.

  9. #24 by Dartmoor Yarns on February 12, 2017 - 19:22

    Great to see you’ve finally acted on your threats to relearn to crochet. There’s something way more satisfying about sharing your learning experiences with others rather than YouTubing. As for cake – I confess I’d rather have googey and to me Madeira cake to is but a short step away from bread.

    • #25 by tialys on February 12, 2017 - 20:26

      Each to their own and I confess I sometimes slather a slice of madeira with some home made lemon curd.

  10. #27 by Frivolous Monsters on February 12, 2017 - 19:24

    I think those sort of shops must be rare all over because I have a friend who’s found shop where he picks up stuff for his Mum who lives up in Newcastle. As it is we have one in Bury…if all wool shops are equal.

    I hesitate to mentation that I must be reading the sequel to your book right now. It’s from the author of Withnail and I, full of language, and is a new serious investigation into the Jack the Ripper case. Just 200 pages in (of 800) he’s illuminated so much I did not know.

    p.s. Good cake.

    • #28 by tialys on February 12, 2017 - 20:53

      Because I sometimes live in a cocooned internet world, I fondly believe everybody is a knitter/sewer/crafter/artist of some description because they are (mostly) the sort of people I follow and who follow me in blogland. I am, therefore, always vaguely surprised and disappointed that every high street doesn’t offer at least one wool/fabric/craft supplies shop of some description. Of course, I live in a rural French backwater but am lucky enough to have a couple of woolly shops locally. However, when I come over to the U.K., the high streets seem to mostly consist of charity shops with the occasional ‘express’ supermarket thrown in. Being a southerner though, that is where I usually end up due to visiting obligations but I understand from my extensive research on Ebay and with fellow bloggers that the North of England is a much richer hunting ground for us crafty types. If only I would venture North of Watford I might find a whole new lease of life. My in-laws live in Harrogate but that might be asking too much of me 😉
      Are you a Jack the Ripper follower – if you know what I mean? Do you subscribe to the theories that he may have been royalty or at least somebody in a position of power so his identity was actually known to the police but they couldn’t do anything about it. I read a little about the book you are talking about and was surprised that the murders he committed were done over quite a short period of time – 8 or 9 weeks – whereas I was under the impression he was active for ages.
      By the way, I do appreciate your comments on my more craft oriented posts as I doubt you often wield a crochet hook, knitting needle or operate a sewing machine yourself – though I may be wrong of course.

      • #29 by Frivolous Monsters on February 13, 2017 - 00:51

        No, I’m not craft orientated, but I am a baker. And a fan of Jack the Ripper…if you know what I mean. It’s the mystery I like so have also been reading books on DB Cooper and the Zodiac killer. Apparently the Prince wasn’t in the country, but this book goes big into Masonry and reveals that the killings were ritualistic in relation to Masonic customs and history. The book reveals that the problem was the Police were being run by Masons – the Prince was one too – who realised it for what it was…and set about wilfully destroying evidence, introducing false stories, and criminally it turns out there was one man who saw Jack the Ripper and the Police got a good description out of him. In court this was withheld and it has never been revealed.

        Yes, it was over a short period, and one of the things that interests me is what makes these people stop. Ironically I have the sensationally discovered 1993 Diary of Jack the Ripper, generally considered to be a hoax, which implicates a Liverpool cotton merchant called James Maybrick who died in May 1889…murdered. His wife got the blame.

        This book, They All Love Jack, is going to point the finger at his brother Michael who was a celebrity and a Mason moving in the circles with all the players involved. The author also dropped the hint that he killed his own brother too.

      • #30 by tialys on February 13, 2017 - 10:35

        It’s a fascinating subject and one that has captivated lots of writers. Enjoy the book!

  11. #31 by CurlsnSkirls on February 12, 2017 - 21:36

    I’m also a crocheter who doesn’t wear it or do ickle animal thingeys, but enjoys the process. Have been thinking about a blanket lately, but they tend to be very heavy & complicated to launder. When I lived in Chicago there was a gorgeous yarn store right next to my postie… am still fondling bits from there. . . almost 80 here today, so not much reason for scarves, hats, nor mitts. . . . sigh

    • #32 by tialys on February 13, 2017 - 10:54

      What about a crochet bikini? 😉

      • #33 by CurlsnSkirls on February 13, 2017 - 17:33

        Not in a million years, Dear One . . . for yourself, perhaps?

      • #34 by tialys on February 13, 2017 - 18:04

        I don’t know what would look worse emerging from the water – the soggy, saggy crochet or me 🙂

      • #35 by CurlsnSkirls on February 14, 2017 - 04:24

        No, would definitely be moi. 😱

  12. #36 by magpiesue on February 12, 2017 - 22:02

    I grew up with a mother who knit and did it very well. I could never master the tension elements. Inevitably however, the tops and things I would see that I wanted her to make for me were crocheted rather than knitted, and she wasn’t willing to learn how to crochet (or perhaps had tried and didn’t enjoy it). Now it’s my sister who knits and once again she will crochet an I cord if she has to but isn’t interested in anything further. I can’t complain as I won’t even commit to trying! Meanwhile, I love your little yellow heart. Good job with the hook case too! 🙂

    • #37 by tialys on February 13, 2017 - 10:54

      My Mum has always been a knitter but, if I’m honest, not a very good one. She hates the sewing up at the end and rushes it so the results aren’t great which is probably why she never wears anything she makes. I don’t really envisage wearing anything I crochet – apart from accessories – as I don’t see many patterns I could envisage in my wardrobe but new designers are coming along all the time so you never know.

  13. #38 by katechiconi on February 13, 2017 - 00:14

    Apologies for my silence/absence up to now, all will be explained later… I love the IDEA of crochet, but in practice I find that I can’t retain the stitches or any kind of pattern in my head, and I’m too used to knowing what I’m doing to keep referring back to books or instructions. It’s probably just as well, since if I developed a serious yarn habit to go with my fabric habit the Husband would revolt. But I did see a crochet garment I thought you might possibly wear – I would, if our climate was suited to a warm crochet thingy:
    That sock yarn is extremely spiffy, I must say…

    • #39 by tialys on February 13, 2017 - 10:57

      The skirt you linked to looks really good on her but I’m not sure I would be able to get over the feeling of having part of a blanket wrapped round my knees. See what I mean? Maybe I’m not meant to be a crocheter – or not a garment making one anyway.

      • #40 by katechiconi on February 13, 2017 - 11:05

        Does it help to think of it as an openwork lace border…? If you didn’t crochet it to look like granny squares I think the effect could be quite subtle.

      • #41 by tialys on February 13, 2017 - 11:18

        Yes, I think it’s the squares that put me off. I remember when I was about 8 years old, my Mum had a friend who make my sister (who was 5) and I crochet dresses which we wore to a family wedding and I felt like the bees knees but, apart from the bolero thingy in the top photo of this post which I occasionally fling on over a sleeveless dress in Summer, I don’t think I’ve ever worn a crocheted garment since.

  14. #42 by jendavismiller on February 13, 2017 - 00:55

    Well look at you! My mom knits, although hasn’t started since being with us in spite of many trips for yarn and pattern books. Sigh. One of these days. I always think I should be knitting or quilting, but holy cow, my sewing is slow enough! Love the sock yarn. And the hook case, perfect use for the sheep fabric. Enjoy your re-education! 😀

    • #43 by tialys on February 13, 2017 - 10:33

      My mum has always been a knitter and taught me when I was little but she’s finding it too hard on her hands these days. A shame although, like me, she hardly ever wears anything she knits anyway.

  15. #44 by Trisha on February 13, 2017 - 01:17

    I learnt to crochet last year left handed with the help of Bella Coco, I made a few infinity scarves but now I am at loss as what to make next, I have more crochet blankets that I know what to do with thanks to my Father in Law who is very good at crochet. I look forward to seeing what you hook next.

    • #45 by tialys on February 13, 2017 - 10:31

      I’ll let you know – a cafetière cosy might be one of the first things as I do actually ‘need’ one – at the moment I wrap a double oven glove round it.

  16. #46 by lovelucie1 on February 13, 2017 - 16:48

    Use it, or loose it. That’s how the saying goes. I would crochet a pin cushion much like these ones
    You’ve no excuse with those gorgeous hooks.

    • #47 by tialys on February 13, 2017 - 18:04

      Good idea – yours look lovely and you can never have enough pincushions.

  17. #48 by Beads and Barnacles on February 13, 2017 - 18:05

    Lovely to learn a new skill. I admit I crochet hats and I did some gloves recently. Other than that is just mug cozys

    • #49 by tialys on February 13, 2017 - 18:11

      Yes, if I don’t find something I like to make using crochet it might lose its allure. I do like making blankets though and there are some pretty cool patterns out there now – it’s not just granny squares although that’s probably where I’ll have to start.

      • #50 by Beads and Barnacles on February 13, 2017 - 18:22

        Yeah I think a blanket might be a good way to go. I keep thinking about it. I like the idea of the granny stripe ones but adding other stitch patterns in too, sort of like a sampler

      • #51 by tialys on February 13, 2017 - 18:28

        Sounds like you would enjoy something like the CAL Lucie took part in – she ended up with a fabulous blanket. Her post on the finished item is here if you haven’t seen it

      • #52 by Beads and Barnacles on February 13, 2017 - 19:12

        Oh that does look nice.

  18. #53 by Kim on February 14, 2017 - 18:54

    I rarely crochet so would probably struggle to follow a pattern now. I’m impressed with you going to a real store to learn – I usually like to fiddle about on my own even though the results are better and faster with help.
    That cake looks gorgeous. Have you tried the seed cake from the same Nigella book? It went down very well here.

    • #54 by tialys on February 15, 2017 - 10:11

      Don’t be impressed – I had to hand over real money but that’s sort of what gives me the initial kick up the butt to knuckle down to something. After that, I’m all books and internet.
      I haven’t tried the seed cake yet – I’ll give it a go if it hasn’t got caraway seeds in it.

  19. #55 by Janice Marriott on February 16, 2017 - 01:46

    I have not crocheted since the 70s when I made a couple of hippie shawls.
    Your cake looks a lot better than the *^%^% of a banana cake I made yesterday!

    • #56 by tialys on February 16, 2017 - 10:18

      I think, if I’m honest and until I’m shown evidence to the contrary, crocheted clothes do have a 60s/70s vibe about them but, no matter, because now that’s called retro. I might stick to home décor, etc. but for the moment I’m enjoying the process and it’s much easier to un-crochet when you’ve made a mistake than to un-knit which, for the stage I’m at, is a very good thing.

  20. #57 by dezertsuz on February 16, 2017 - 22:20

    Okay, this is EXACTLY why I walked out of the shop with no yarn, no hooks, no booklets, no anything yesterday! LOL

    • #58 by tialys on February 19, 2017 - 14:11

      Well, I guess that doesn’t happen often in a fabric shop 😉

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