Friday, 11 November 2016

HappyBerryCrochet is on Instagram

It's official, I've finally made it to Instagram!

Well, I've actually been on Instagram for a few months, but I was using my hubby's phone as mine was something from the stone age, but it was proving very difficult to enjoy it to its full extent. I am happy to say that I have now been lucky enough to purchase my own smart phone and I have to confess I am enjoying the camera a lot! It is so handy to just catch a moment and then share it with you guys.

So my Instagram account is a wonderful way, as I now live on there, to get in touch with me! It is also where I share behind the scene photos of what I am currently working on designing, as well as my travels out and about. You can get so many sneak peeks, but also catch up on previous designs of mine that you may not know about.

I do hope you will pop by and say hello if you have Instagram yourself. You can find me at See you there! (^-^)


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Saturday, 14 May 2016

HappyBerry Crochet in Japan

I was really lucky enough to have the pleasure of visiting Tokyo recently and to taste a little of not only the wonderful Japanese culture, but also find out what's available in Tokyo for the yarn lover out there.

Some great recommendations of yarn stores came my way, but first I headed to Shinjuku and the Takashimaya department store.

At first Takashimaya was a little tricky to find, (even though the building is huge) as Shinjuku station is a labyrinth of exits, but soon I was up in the lift heading to the 7th floor.

This building really does have it all, from restaurants to fashion, to beauty, furniture, you name it, but I was of course only interested in the craft section! As soon as the lift doors opened the floor blew me away. Where to begin! Buttons and fabrics for every occasion, including beautiful kimono fabrics, craft books, everything! The floor was huge and quite a few ladies present may I add.

What I really liked about Takashimaya, and in Japan craft stores in general is that they display finished items to showcase off the yarn. We don't seem to do a lot of that in the UK and I think it's a great way to inspire people. Including this cute clutch bag I came across.

I of course had to purchase something, but was a little overwhelmed, and limited by my luggage. Although I love the suggestion by one of my Instagrammers to just buy more luggage he he. I did manage to pick however a book and some fabric samples, which I hope to turn into handkerchiefs and a t-shirt for my little one. I was even lucky enough to pick up some small samples of kimono silk, although I am not sure what to make with this yet. Suggestions welcome! It was just too beautiful to leave behind.

The book is a crochet pattern book for small miniature items. Japanese crochet books come in chart form and obviously Japanese, but because of the charts you can usually follow along if you don't understand Japanese, and can be quite exciting. If you would like to learn more about chart patterns then check out my beginner video tutorial here:

Later on my trip I was visiting Hama-rikyu Gardens, a beautiful park in central Tokyo that is home to a tea-house, a beautiful tidal lake and many many walks amongst beautiful flowers and trees. Although a very hot day that day I had to pause at a small stand I came across selling hand-dyed silk scarves. These ones in particular were 100% silk and completely naturally dyed using cherry branches or indigo plants. I of course had to pick up a pink one, where else could you buy such blossom luxury!

These scarves are the beautiful work of Keiko Koike and you can find out more about her work here: (Japanese).

Of course as my time in Japan went on, one very special craft store was recommend to me to visit, and so I had the chance one day to head back to Shinjuku and find what I would say is the rather famous store Okadaya. A hidden gem of two buildings, one full of fabrics and one full of crafts and other fashion items.

Perhaps trickier to find from the station as the building is down a smaller alley, but if you check Google Maps before you go and head out of Exit A8 or A9 it is pretty much straight ahead of you over the road crossing.

I didn't head into the fabric store, instead I headed to level 5 of the second building on the main street where the yarn was. Although much smaller than Takashimaya, this shop has such a charm. Again full to the brim with craft treats, yarns, books and everything you can dream of, from sewing machines to clever tools you may have never even heard of. I could have spent hours in here as well, but sadly time was against me. I did however manage to pick up another crochet pattern book, this time for small food items. I think I was becoming a little addicted to cute miniature projects, and I think I will be designing some more myself now I am full of inspiration!

Again, Okadaya had some gorgeous finished projects on display, such as this chunky stitch clutch, and this gorgeous lace top.

I was also rather impressed to discover Wool and the Gang in Okadaya! Their wools beautifully displayed with some finished projects on display. It made me feel proud to be British.

I also discovered a lovely Japanese yarn called Paume, which is a 100% Pure Organic Cotton yarn. It came in some gorgeous colours and felt amazing, but sadly there was no room in the luggage. I'm secretly hoping I can get access to some in the UK.

So my time in Japan came to an end, but I didn't leave you guys out of the Japanese cuteness. Just before I left Okadaya I picked up these adorable buttons, which I will soon be giving away to one lucky reader. So keep your eyes out for that.

Until then, happy crocheting and see you soon for some more crochet fun!


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Thursday, 3 March 2016

Lets Get Crafting Magazine - Short Story Winner 2015

Back in June last year I decided to enter a short story competition, mainly for two reasons.
Issue 73 - Lets Get Crafting

Firstly, as some of you may already know, I absolutely love writing stories, and have just released my first mystery novel on Amazon as a paperback and eBook; Revenge in Thailand. But secondly, the competition was for a knit and crochet magazine and I just knew the perfect story I was going to write.

Of course the short story had to be related to knitting or crochet, but I knew I wanted to add a different dimension to what we normally associate with such things. We all have our stereotypes when it comes to knitters and crocheters, and this made me think about how we also have many stereotypes in life in general, and none more so than people of a certain age.

So, in my short sketch I wanted to turn the tables on what we think about old age, crocheting and life in general, not only for fun with some added humour, but also to hopefully make readers look at life and people, that little bit more open-mindedly.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it;

If there was one thing to look forward to this weekend, it was visiting the local yarn store, myself!’ George thought as he finally slumped down in the musty armchair and whipped out the familiar bag of hooks and yarn. It had been yet another uninspiring day full of interruptions, but he still had a few minutes left before Mildred got back.
“Now where was I?” George pondered, examining the almost-finished crochet project in front of him. It had taken him a few months, but finally he was almost there. George snuggled the chunky wool against his cheek and sighed, “I do love a good yarn” he grinned, even more so at the irony.
“21 … 22 … 23 …” George muttered as he whiled away the rare few minutes of peace. He was careful to count his stitches as this project wasn't just any project.
“George! I’m back,” Mildred bellowed from the hallway in her usual brisk voice.
“Uh huh,” George mumbled in response, not wishing to look up. He couldn't let Mildred distract him today, not when he was so close to finishing.
“Have a good day dear?” Mildred chirped from the kitchen.
“Uh huh … 43 … 44 … 45 …”
“You know, it was so busy down at the … ugh! Are you at that darn project again George?” Mildred frowned as she marched into the dated living room. “You really should buy your own hooks as you crochet more than I do! And you know your arthritis isn't helped by all that knitting one pearling one.”
“51 … 52 … 53 … it’s crochet Mildred, not knitting, how many times do I have to tell you? And I've very nearly finished,” George grunted, avoiding Mildred’s scowls and pulling angrily on his ball of yarn.
“Well I know nothing about crochet and what those silly hooks do, you know I prefer my knitting dear.”
“Yes, my wardrobe is testament to that,” George whispered under his breath, “… 58 … 59 … 60.”
“What are you making anyway? You've been at that for months. I bet it’s something rather silly.”
“67 … 68 … 69 …”
“Well, whatever it is, you must have time for a nice cup of tea. I bought some delightful tea at the market, which I don’t believe we've tried before and you’ll never guess who I bumped into?”
“78 … 79 … 80 …”
“I was only thinking about Alfred and Joan as I was perusing some beautiful carnations, which I think will look lovely in that vase you never use, and there they were at the market.”
“95 … 96 … 97 …”
“I simply can’t wait until they come for afternoon tea with you this Sunday George. They said they are looking forward to seeing you as you hadn't been answering the phone lately? Why don’t you ever answer the phone George? You know, people will think you don’t like them.”
“102 … 103 … 104 … I’m a busy man Mildred, I don’t have time for …” George was interrupted by the cackle of Mildred’s laugh, “You busy? George, you haven’t been busy for years! You should enjoy the luxury of retirement and the peace it brings.”
“Peace you say?” George flinched, finally looking up to stare at Mildred’s middle-aged face. ‘What did she know about peace and quiet,’ he thought, but not wishing to get into yet another argument with the annoying woman, he went back to his crocheting.
“I say, you are a grumpy one George. How about a nice game of scrabble? Now, where did I put the scrabble board?” Mildred mused as she finally went to put the kettle on.
George picked up speed, ignoring the aching in his twisted fingers. ‘Not much yarn left, but I only have a few more rows to do and I’m done … come on yarn … come on yarn,’ George worried to himself, not wishing to have to persuade Mildred to go buy him yet more yarn.
“You know, I got you a few treats George from the market that I know you like, which should cheer you up. How about a nice slice of Madeira cake, how does that sound?” Mildred shouted in his ear, putting the wobbly tray of tea down in front of him and knocking his yarn under the chair.
“122 … 123 … 124,” George grunted, raising his voice to remind Mildred he was busy and not deaf.
“I spoke to the lovely Phyllis earlier in reception, you know she worries about you too George, hiding away in this room and not joining in with the social groups. Such a lovely lady is Phyllis, always there for a good old chat. She was telling me about her mother who is joining us soon. She’s a bit jittery on her old knees apparently but it will be nice to have some new company won’t it George?”
“134 … 135 … 136 …”
“Maybe she can persuade you to join the bingo class on Fridays; you know you’re quite the catch in this place George being the youngest here at 79.”
“142 … 143 … 144 …”
“Don’t forget your tea dear, it will get cold,” Mildred frowned as she sipped hers.
“148 … 149 …”
“What are you making George? It’s huge and doesn't look very practical,” Mildred frowned.
“150 … and done!” George exclaimed. “I think you’ll find Mildred, that this project is extremely practical.”
And knocking his tea aside, George flung himself into action, throwing the finally finished crocheted ladder out the window.
“Free at last,” George grinned, and not waiting for a response from the stunned Mildred, he scaled the few stories down to the lawn and sprinted away from the dreary old-folks home.
George knew that crocheting wasn't just for girls, ‘it was for adventurous old fogeys like me too,’ he giggled, and off he ran.

The End

"I loved this entry because I had no idea there would be such a great twist at the end. It really made me laugh out loud when George escapes. At the beginning we share Mildred's concern for George, who seems to be cutting himself off from people and becoming rather obsessed with a crochet project. The ultimate irony, when Mildred objects to it not being very practical, is a lovely twist - as George leaves the tedium and irritation of the old people's home behind and escapes down his ladder. Hurrah!" 
Mary Ellingham, Publicity Manager at Search Press Publishers

If you would like to know more about my writings and musings then please pop by my Facebook page dedicated to my novels and short stories here:

Or why not check out one of the brilliant runner up stories here by another Laura!
The Moody Teenager by Laura West

Friday, 29 January 2016

What is a mile-a-minute, granny square or motif crochet afghan?

There are so many different ways that you can crochet an afghan or blanket but the terms can sometimes be confusing so here I shall explain the differences, as well as share with you a few patterns of my own you might like to try.

The traditional Granny Square blanket or afghan

Vintage Granny Squares by Laura Eccleston
This blanket, or afghan, is made up from individual squares, which are then sewn together.

You can make lots of different crochet projects from granny squares, not just blankets, including bags, hats, bracelets, even clothes. The wonderful thing about using squares to make up your projects is that you can use lots of different colours and mix and match your squares. You can even use different style of squares throughout your project to really make it interesting.

Spiral Granny Square by Laura E
Simple Granny Square Bag by Laura E

The useful thing about using squares for your blanket is that you can also work on the project as little or as much as you like and only take away on holiday with you some squares at a time to add to your ever growing blanket.

Although a traditional style of blanket design, that may remind you of cold nights at your grandma's house, granny square blankets are becoming increasingly more popular and contemporary in style. Retro is truly in!

The Motif blanket or afghan

Celtic Triangle by Laura E
These types of afghans or blankets are very similar to granny square blankets in that they are made up of individual shapes, but instead of using squares you can use lots of different types of shapes such as triangles or hexagons, even individual flowers to make up your blanket.

Hypercube Tesseract by Laura E
Again, making up a blanket this way means you can use many different colours in your projects, and work on it a bit at a time.

Often many people decide to join as they go when making these types of blankets to save time, adding individual shapes as and when they find time to make them.

Mile-a-Minute afghan or blanket

This type of blanket is designed in long strips that are then sewn together. An ideal style of blanket making that allows for creativity like the motif or granny blanket but not as repetitive as repeating the same stitch on the one piece blanket explained below.

The great thing about the mile-a-minute style of afghan making is that you can work on strips at a time, even designing different styles and add to your project in stages, taking on holiday with you a few strips to work on, and projects work up very quickly.

The One Piece afghan or blanket

Mesh Blanket by Laura E
The one piece or 'plain' afghan is the simplest of them all and is made up by simply repeating the same stitch pattern over and over.

Often a repetitive style of blanket making, and probably the one given up on most, but it can have beautiful results if patience allows, and different stitches can be added throughout if stitch count allows.

The only draw back is that you will always have to work on the whole blanket at any one time so is not easily transportable.

I hope you have found this post informative and maybe even inspired you to try something new! In the meantime I will see you soon for some more crochet fun!


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© HappyBerry