It’s that time of year in the woolly calendar when thoughts start turning to big chunky makes to wrap ourselves up in, and projects that fly off the hook for last-minute gifts. Big Hook Crochet, the new book by Emma Friedlander-Collins, ticks both those boxes and several more!
I had the pleasure of editing the book for Emma who you may know under her moniker ‘Steel & Stitch’. As the title suggests, it’s a collection of 35 projects created with big crochet hooks – and when I say big, I mean rarely smaller than a 25mm hook. In order to match a yarn thickness with this size of hook, you will often find you are working with several strands of yarn held together, making this a great book for using up stash and sweater quantities that you know will never actually become that well-intentioned sweater!
Scattered between the wonderfully cosy cowls, collars and slippers, you will find plenty of other accessories along with rugs, baskets and homewares. Working at such a large scale means you will have a finished item in next to no time and there are lots of perfect projects for present-giving.
Having previously worked with Emma on her first book, the utterly delightful Crochet Dress-Up published by CICO last year, it was a joy to work with her again. I had a catch-up with Emma to find out more behind the inspiration for Big Hook Crochet…
RA: Hi Emma! Congratulations on the publication of your new book which looks fab! Can you tell us how you got into crochet, big hook crochet in particular, and how that led to a book?
EFC: I’ve always been a compulsive crafter and a lifelong passion for yarn, but having tried knitting lots of times, I could just never get on with it. About 5 years ago I was on maternity leave, saw a crochet hat that I just had to have and started learning from YouTube videos. After the little monkey was born, I started making up things for him and it’s gone on from there.
A couple of years ago I got this idea in my head for a super chunky body-warmer-snood thing (shown below), found some yarn, but couldn’t get the movement I wanted with a regular, 15mm hook. My very clever husband then sawed the end off our kitchen broom, and appeared two hours later in a cloud of saw dust, with a very beautiful, handmade, 25mm. After that it was a case of playing around and seeing what you could make at that scale, which is where most of the makes for the book came from.
RA: Where do you draw your inspiration from and how do your ideas develop from ‘just an idea’ into a finished published project?
EFC: I get ideas from all over the place! Quite often it’s from something me or my family want, like something for a costume, or something to sit on in the garden (which is when I made the roll mat in the book). But generally I like quite subversive things, I like using a traditional craft such as crochet and then introducing a counter-cultural element. There’s a love heart rug with and anchor and roses motif in the Big Hook book which is taken straight from the tattoo I have on my wrist, or the suped-up slippers which play with the scale of more regular, delicate versions.
RA: Right from the start I fell in love with the smooshy yellow Infinity Cowl and have plans to combine all sorts of odds and ends from my stash to make my own version. I know it’s always tricky to narrow it down to one, but do you have a favourite project in the book?
EFC: I loved how the oversized Granny Blanket turned out – it was supposed to just be a cushion but I couldn’t stop!
I actually really love the neck warmer featured on the cover which uses roving to achieve the texture. The yarn was very delicate to work with, but the finished make is so tactile I could literally just live in it.
RA: Working with a hook and yarn at this scale does present a few challenges. Are you able to offer any tips, tricks and advice for working comfortably on big hook projects?
EFC: You can’t go at this like regular crochet, it’s much more physical. I was working on this collection quite intensively, but I recommend taking lots of regular breaks, to give your wrists and shoulders a rest. You may find it more comfortable to work at a table or on the floor for some of the larger projects such as the rugs and baskets.
RA: And what’s next? Are there any plans for another book or different projects and if so can you spill the beans yet?
EFC: There’s so much going on at the moment, it’s amazing! I’ve got a few patterns waiting to come out in Inside Crochet and I’ve been collaborating with LoveCrochet on a project that will be published at the end of October. My third book has also just been commissioned by CICO, but I’m allowed to say what that is yet, so you’ll have to wait and see. Additionally I’ve also talked my husband in to making a few extra 25mm hooks, which we’ve just launched on my Etsy shop, so it really is all go.
RA: Thanks so much Emma for taking time out to chat and I wish you every success with this book and all future projects.
The lovely people at CICO books have very kindly offered one of my readers the chance to win a copy of Big Hook Crochet. If you’d like to enter, simply reply to this post telling me what’s the largest size crochet hook you’ve ever worked with. Leave your comment by midnight on Monday 21st September 2015, after which I will ask Mr K to draw a winner from his crocheted beanie. Good luck everyone!
If you can’t wait to see if you are the lucky winner, Big Hook Crochet is now available to buy and you can keep up with Emma’s hooky adventures on via her website and Instagram where she regular posts lots of crochet inspiration.
© All images taken from Big Hook Crochet by Emma Friedlander-Collins, photography by Emma Mitchell, published by CICO Books 2015.
Disclaimer: I was the editor for Big Hook Crochet but have not received any payment for this blog post.