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Let's Talk About Yarn Types: Chenille

 Let's Talk Yarn - Chenille Yarn What is Chenille Yarn Chenille is a synthetic yarn,  usually made from polyester, and it is soft and fluffy. As a synthetic fibre, it can be dyed in an endless number of colours, and even some patterns like the floral one I used to make the cow above. It's essentially soft fluffy fibres attached to a thread.  Chenille yarn is great for making warm soft blankets and it is ideal for soft toys as well, as it feels so nice and squishy. It has become really popular in recent years, especially among those who like making amigurumi, like me! Pros of Chenille Yarn The texture is lovely and soft, making the finished project feel and look really nice. The yarn is smooth as well, it won't split like acrylic yarn and is fairly easy to work with.  It comes in a huge range of colours, some even have glitter through it or patterns. It is a chunky weight yarn, which means it works up quite quickly.  It is also fire resistant. In the UK, all soft toys must p
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Crochet Basics: Decreases

Crochet Basics Tutorials Here's my latest tutorial where I cover the basics of decreasing stitches to shape your crochet piece. I hope you find it helpful. I cover beginning and end of row decreases, crocheting two stitches together (standard decrease) and the invisible decrease. Once you've mastered the basic stitches of crochet, learning to increase and decrease stitches is the next important step. This allows you to begin to create different shapes with your crochet, and is essential if you want to begin making toys and amigurumi projects. 

Let's Talk About Yarn Types - Part 2 - Acrylic Yarn

 Let's Talk About Acrylic Yarn Welcome back! Today we're going to talk about acrylic yarn. It's one that is quite divisive in the fibre arts community, and often looked down upon. I like it and use it a lot, for a lot of different projects. Like all yarns, acrylic has its pros and cons. It is cheap though, and I do recommend it for beginners who are just learning to knit or crochet, as it is quite forgiving compared to other yarns. So let's get into it. What is Acrylic Yarn? Acrylic yarn is a fibre made from polyacrylonitrile. It is derived from petroleum, and was first manufactured in 1941. It is an alternative to real wool and does feel a lot like it. It is lightweight, soft and makes for warm clothing. It can also be made to mimic other yarn types. It dyes really well so acrylic yarn comes in just about any colour you can think of and can be very bold and vibrant. It is a very resilient fibre. Pros of Acrylic Yarn Cost: acrylic yarn is often a lot cheaper than natura

Let's Talk About Yarn Types - Part 1

 Let's Talk About Yarn Types As a fibre artist, one of the things I've spent a lot of time buying is yarn. If you're just starting out in knitting or crochet, it can be a bit overwhelming when you go to the craft store and see the wide selection available. So I'm going to help you out! Over the next few weeks we're going to talk about the different types of yarn, and how to choose the right yarn for your project.  Fibre Type There are basically two groups of fibres that yarn can be made from: synthetic and natural fibres. The names give it away, but natural fibres are sourced from nature - animal hair or plant fibres such as cotton. Synthetic fibres are manufactured, such as acrylic or polyester. Is one superior to the other? Not really. They all have their pros and cons, and in part, the fibre choice depends on what you are making.  For clothing, you probably want the fibre to feel soft but be hard wearing and washable so cotton and wool would be the better choice.

Fast Fashion vs Slow Fashion

 Fast Fashion and Making Ethical Choices Let's talk about fast fashion and crochet items that are available for sale. A lot of companies like SHEIN and Temu are selling crochet items for really cheap prices. I saw a crochet top made up for five large granny squares with straps and tassels that definitely look crocheted although it's hard to see clearly. The top is being sold for £7.49, and from the look of it it would take me a good 3-4 hours to make by hand. I'm not the slowest crocheter, nor am I the fastest.  Why is this a problem? Well, even if you ignore material costs, and if we give a generous estimate of 3 hours to make. we're looking at £2.50 per hour, except you have to assume that the company intends to make a profit as well, so it's likely that the person making these items is being paid much less per hour to hand make these items.  As we discussed last week, crochet cannot be replicated by a machine, so if these items are truly crochet, then whoever is

Handmade: Why Crochet Machines Aren't A Thing

  Crochet Machines Aren't Real Why can crochet only be done by hand? That's what we're going to explore today. Crochet is back in fashion, and crochet items are everywhere on social media. Many fashion retailers are selling crochet items, and AI images are trying to get into the game as well.  Last week we talked about pricing of handmade items and why they may be more expensive. Knitted garments have been around for a long time. They can be mass produced, as there are very clever machines that can make knitted items faster than a human can. Which is great!  Crochet is different. Crochet involves countless types of stitches and ways of combining these stitches to create so many different shapes from the humble granny square to an entire plush toy. You can crochet into the top of a stitch, into the spaces between stitches, and around the middle of stitches. Front loops, back loops, twisting the yarn before completing the stitch. The more you learn about crochet, the more you

Why's It So Expensive? The True Cost of Handmade

 The True Cost of Handmade One thing a lot of crocheters often hear is how expensive their handmade items are. Commonly alongside a comment about how you could just buy the materials and do it yourself. Do you do that anywhere else? Do you tell the supermarket that apples are too expensive, so you'll just buy the seeds and grow your own?  Handmade items are just that, handmade. This means that someone has put a lot of time and effort into learning a skill, and used that skill, and yet more time, to create an item. Many business people say that 'time is money', but doesn't that mean we should value our time? No matter what job you do, you expect to be paid for your time and effort, so why should that be any different for someone who has created art with their bare hands? When you are buying a handmade item from a small business like mine, you are getting a carefully crafted item that has been made with love. It's also a business, so making a profit is important, othe