Eat · Garden Life · In the Kitchen

Cheese and Potato Pie Recipe

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This recipe is a comfort food family favourite it’s not one for a diet day at 621 calories it’s on the high side.  I’ve made this recipe since my children were small and they still love the dish. It’s an excellent recipe for using up a glut of potatoes and a brilliant fridge standby for a picnic or just for hungry children who want fuel after a busy day at school. If you use vegetarian cheese and either soya milk or almond milk it becomes a lovely vegan dish too. This is comfort food at its best easy, tasty, filling and great if you are not at your best as everyone in the house is happy including you.

My team are carnivores through and through, for a main meal we team it with a multitude of either sausages, bacon, good quality ham or sliced chicken breast. Sides range from a green salad to baked beans or sweetcorn if it’s fresh from the allotment. Whatever you choose its a great family comfort food dish and will remain part of our family tradition for a long, long time.

Serves 6 621 calories per portion

35 minutes prep, 35 minutes to bake

Ingredients

750g potatoes peeled and chopped into large chunks

1 onion chopped

1 bay leaf

2 tbspns butter or margarine

3 tbspns milk (use soya or almond if you prefer)

500g grated extra mature cheddar cheese (use whatever your family prefers)

1 medium egg

1 tbspn dried mixed herbs

3 large tomatoes or a small handful of mixed cherry tomatoes

Method

Pre heat the oven to 200ºC fan 180ºC, 375F

  1. Cook the potatoes with the chopped onion in boiling salted water with the bay leaf for 15 – 20 minutes until the potato falls off of the knife but before the potatoes start to break up.
  2. Meanwhile grate the cheese and if using large tomatoes slice them, if using cherry tomatoes cut some in half leave some whole.
  3. When the potatoes are cooked, drain in a colander for a few minutes to make sure they are as dry as possible, remove the bay leaf. Return the potato and onion mix to the pan and mash with the butter and milk. The mixture will be a little lumpy due to the onion but that’s fine.
  4. Add 2/3 of the cheese and mix until melted, crack the egg into the mixture and beat it through the potato mixture. Transfer the potato mix to a baking dish.
  5. Sprinkle over the cheese, mixed herbs and tomatoes and back for 35 minutes until lightly browned.
  6. Leave the Cheese and Potato pie to rest for 15 to 20 minutes to firm up.  Once cooled a little slice and serve with your chosen sides.

Pin Cheese & Potato Pie

Create · Crochet · Crochet Patterns · Inspiration

Crochet Shawl – Pattern Review

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In the UK its the middle of the summer a perfect time to start thinking about making beautiful crocheted things for autumn and winter.  Its seems a bit crazy to be thinking about winter just now but for me personally I need the time and creative space to make things whilst I continue in my bid to learn as I go. I wrote a pattern review for a Debbie Bliss Shawl I made at the beginning of this year, it was very popular post so I’ve decided to share this one too. I hope you like it and want to embark on the pattern yourself.   I am in the middle of making a a series of crocheted shawls or wraps to extend my repertoire and to understand how I start to design more things for myself. They are in hot demand with my family and friends, there will be something on the blog later this summer for you to try out.

Back to this pattern. Stash Buster Stripes by Laura Strutt aka Made Peachy from the book Modern Crocheted Shawls and Wraps is a great pattern if you are learning to crochet and you want to progress to something slightly more complex and larger to gain more confidence.  Don’t be put off by the size once you get going it actually works up pretty fast.

Here is my finished version beautifully modeled by my sister.

I  have worn it a few times on chilly days and to a couple of outdoor evening events when its been a little cool. If you live in the UK you will know that summer evenings are not hot, except on rare occasions. It has been perfect for a late summer evening  with my husband enjoying the last of the light relaxing after a busy week at work.

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On my crochet journey I want to learn as much as possible, I don’t like to purchase patterns but after making this beautiful shawl in my own colours I had to buy this book. It’s available on Amazon at a very reasonable price.  I highly recommend it, its easy to follow and  has some very enticing images to encourage you to make something from the book.  All of the patterns have a one, two or three star rating so you can choose were to start.  This one is a two star, I found it very straightforward to make and there are lots of different styles to try out.  I have my eye on two more patterns from the book they are the Walled Garden and Woodland Colours patterns.  I really, really want to play around with the crocodile stitch the Woodland Colours pattern will certainly make me an expert in the stitch. That said they will both test my skill and staying power to make bigger crochet items as I do find that I flag halfway through a big project and get a bit bored. Trying out new stuff all the time is really important to keep my interest and motivation going and it helps my creative side think of other ideas for my own patterns.

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This pattern was brilliant for working out the stitch repetitions, growing the shawl with increases at both ends and trying out new stitches.

My advice is to watch the pattern at the start and end of each row make sure you’ve understood the increase at each end or you get a curl going on at the ends.  Once you are into the colour changes its a pain to frog (unpick) your work and redo it so check each time that its correct if you are not sure re do your stitches it will be worth it in the end.

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My other tip is to think about what type of hook you use. I use an Addi Swing crochet hook, they are a little expensive but I have had a couple of operations on my right wrist and value my hands as a result. The cost of the hook is worth it to save my wrist.  They are very comfortable to use especially for a big project, you don’t get a squished finger from holding the hook to hard.  The best thing about them are when you need to do a stitch that needs some even repeating length, because you have a short metal shaft you can do really even puff stitches as you can use the whole of the length of the shaft each time making each loop and each puff stitch the same size. They are great for solomon’s knot too. You can buy them from Lovecrochet.

Here is the link to the Made peachy Stash Buster shawl pattern – Press Here.  Made Peachy has lots of other great stuff on her website so do please go have a look. There are some amazing craft ideas and other great stuff for you.

I used the following colours all from the  Stylecraft Aran Special acrylic yarn range which can be purchased from lovecrochet.

 

Colour A – 1402 Camel 3 balls 100g 196m

Colour B – 1005 Cream  1 ball 100g 196m

Colour C – 1709 Gold 1 ball 100g 196m

Colour D – 1029 Copper 1 ball 100g 196m

Colour E – 1065 Meadow 1 ball 100g 196m

Colour F – 1027 Khaki 1 ball 100g 196m

I love the original choice of colours for this shawl and I love the colours I choose for my version. Have the courage to choose your own colours and really make this shawl your own.

 

 

Create · Crochet · Crochet Patterns

Crochet Beach Huts Free Pattern

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When a very good friend asked me to crochet her something for her beach house on Isle of White we looked at lots of things I could make that would fit with her theme and that I could design and share. We settled on beach huts as epitome of an English summer at the beach.  I went on the hunt for a pattern and I had been looking for a while but hadn’t come across anything suitable.  You will know if you are a regular reader that I don’t like to pay for patterns unless they are very special. Then Coastal Crochet, a very clever lady and fellow crochet blogger, designed a coastal wall hanging for the Hobby Craft blog.  You can find the Hobby Craft blog post here, its a very cute wall hanging.  One of the motifs was a beach hut perfect to help me work out my own pattern for my friends beach house.  The beach huts I’ve made are intended to hang on her stairs which are open to the living room so I had some exact sizing to work to, to make sure they fitted in their final location.

My inspiration for the colours of the beach huts came from the Isle of White.  My friend took lots of pictures of all the beach houses she saw as she explored the different beaches on the island.

Here are some of the pictures :-

There is only one beach hut on the garland that doesn’t exist on the Isle of White, the Neapolitan beach hut featured at the beginning of this post.  Neapolitan ice cream is a favourite for my family, it always reminds me of summer and eating neapolitan ice cream sandwiches on hot day.  The chocolate, vanilla and strawberry sweetness, sticky sweet hands and the delicious vanilla and strawberry ice cream aromas mingled with chocolate.

Here are the finished beach huts on the beach on The Isle of White with the inspiration for the project in the background.

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Pattern Notes & Tips

I have set out the pattern below. At the end of the pattern I’ve given you some options for embellishing a beach hut, an ice cream, a garland and a star.  On my crochet journey I haven’t found many simple stitch diagrams. The big diagrams seem confusing and a bit scary if your trying to read them for the first time. You can overcome your fear and have a go with the simple ones I’ve included for the embellishments.

The garland string  for the whole garland (not the embellishment) is made from garden twine crocheted into a chain, attaching a beach hut at intervals so that the string hangs in between each hut. You should choose your interval to suit your chosen place to hang your garland so I haven’t included it in the pattern.

I think the beach huts work brilliantly as a garland.  Here they are hanging on my staircase waiting to be delivered to The Isle of White. It looked quite bare when they were gone, I guess I’ll have to make something to go in their place.

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Here are a few close ups so you can see the colour combinations I used and so you can see the garland embellishments.

 

Beach Huts Pattern

Supplies

Stylecraft Classique cotton double knit various colours.  As a guide one 100g ball will make five beach huts.

3.5 mm crochet hook or hook to achieve the size

Scissors and a yarn needle to finish

Steam block using spray starch to stiffen for shaping and hanging

Special Stitches and Instructions

Two  Treble Crochet Together – 2trc2tog

YO insert the hook into the next stitch YO, pull through two loops, YO, insert the hook into the next stitch, YO pull through 2 loops, YO, all three loops on the hook.  When stitching the rows that require 2trc2tog work as loosely as you can to keep your rows even.

Ch 3 at the beginning of each row does NOT count as a treble crochet (trc), this will give you more even and straight edges with no gaps in the starting stitches.

Pattern

Main body of the Beach Hut

This pattern is for a plain beach hut. If you want a stripey beach hut change colour at the end of each row when adding the starting ch 3.  Use the edging colour of your choice at row 14.

Ch 23 to start

Row 1: 1 trc in the 4th ch from the hook, 1 trc in each st to the end of the row (20 trc 1 ch3) turn.

Row 2: Ch3, 1 trc in the first trc, 1 trc in each stitch to the end.,  (20 trc, 1 ch3)

Row 3-9: repeat row 2.

Row 10: Ch 2 2trc2tog, 2trc2tog, 1 trc in the next 12 sts, 2trc2tog,2trc2tog, turn.

Row 11: Ch 2, 2trc2tog, 2trc2tog, trc in the next 8 sts, 2trc2tog,2trc2tog, turn.

Row 12: Ch 2, 2trc2tog,2trc2tog, trc in the next 4 sts, 2trc2tog,2trc2tog, turn.

Row 13: 2trc2tog four times, turn.

Row 14 – edging : ch1, dc in the next 4 sts, ch 1, dc in the same st to form a corner. 9 dc in the side of the trc to form the side of the roof, ch1, dc to form the corner of the roof. 19 dc in the side of the trc, ch1, 1dc in the same stitch for form a corner. 20 dc in the back of each of the ch sts in the starting row, Ch1, 1dc to form a corner.  19 dc in the side of the trcs, ch1, 1 dc to  form a corner a the base of the roof, 9dc in the side of the trc to the top, ch1, dc in the same st, sl st in the ch 1 starting stitch to join.  The main part of the hut is now complete.

Roof

Ch 33, 1trc in the 4th ch from the hook, 1trc in the next 14 sts, 2 trc in the same st (3trc in total in the same st) 1 trc in each st to the end.  Cast of leaving a long tail to attach the roof to the main body of the hut.

Door

Ch 11

Row 1: 1 trc in the 4th ch from the hook, 1 trc in each st to the end turn.

Row 2: Ch3 (does not count as a trc) 1trc in the same st, 1 trc in each st to the end turn.

Row 3 – 8: repeat Row 2

Row 9 (border): ch 1, 1dc in the next 7 sts. ch 1, 1dc in the same st to form a corner. 17 dc down the side of the door spacing evenly along the side of the trcs, 1dc, ch1, 1dc in the same st to form the corner, 1 dc in the back of each of the starting chs to the end 1dc, ch1, 1 dc to form the corner,7 dc down the side of the door spacing evenly along the side of the trcs, 1dc, ch1, 1dc in the same st to form the corner. Sl st in to the starting ch to finish. Cast off leaving a long tail to attach the door to the main body of the hut.

Finishing

To make up your beach hut stitch your door from the centre bottom of the main body of the beach hut.  Stitch the roof along the edge of the top of the beach hut, you will have a little bit of roof overhanging the roof edge on the main body of the beach hut.  Make certain that the centre of the roof is in the centre top so the beach hut hangs centrally on your garland.

These three parts stitched together form a basic Hut.

Embellishments

Ice cream cone

The pattern starts with the cone so use your cone colour first.

Ch 7 to start,

Row 1: 1 trc in the 4th ch from the hook, 3 ch counts as first trc, 1htc, 1dc, 1slst, turn 3 sl sts into the back of the starting ch, sl st to change colour to the colour of ice cream you want to use.

Row 2: Turn your so the ch 3 starting sts of the cone are upper most. Ch1, miss one st 1 st, 3 trc in the same st, sl st into the last st, cast off.

Ice cream cone stitch diagram

Bunting

Row 1: Ch 4, sl st in the 2nd ch from the hook, dc, trc, cast off (one triangle created) repeat twice more, three triangles in total. Weave in the ends before you make up the bunting with row 2.

Row 2: Ch 4, attach your first triangle with 4 dc, ch2, attach the next triangle with 4 dc, ch 2, attach the next triangle with 4 dc, ch 4 cast off.  Weave in the ends.

Beach Huts bunting diagram

Star

Row 1: Start with a magic loop, ch 3 (counts as first trc), 9 trc in magic loop. Pull to tighten, sl st to join (10 trc in total).

Row 2: Ch 1, dc in same space, (trc, dtrc, ch 1, dtrc, trc) all in next st, *dc in next st, (trc, dtrc, ch 1, dtrc, trc) in next stitch, repeat from * 3 times, sl st to starting dc. Finish off, weave in ends (5 dc, 5 star points).

Star pattern diagram

I would love to see your finished beach huts, please post them on my facebook page, you can find me @amandajonescrochet or click the facebook logo on this page.

If you find any pattern errors please, please message me via the contact page and I will correct the errors.  A download of this pattern will be available very soon via etsy.

Beach Huts Pin

Eat · In the Kitchen

Greek Salad 364 calories

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A lunch time recipe, perfect at only 364 calories.  You can make two in one go to save time.  Take one on day one and store one in the fridge for day two.

I like to slice the red onion the night before and let it soak in red wine vinegar and a little sugar. This makes it a little sweater and you don’t get the very unpleasant onion breath after you’ve eaten, making the afternoon a little nicer for your work colleagues or family and friends. But if your short of time you can just slice it and throw it in.

You can reduce the calories further by omitting the olives and the olive oil, I find this a little plain.  If you prefer a few more carbs with your lunch a wholemeal flatbread works well and will keep you fuller for a bit longer but this does increase the calories.

Serves 2 easily halved or multiplied

Ingredients

1/2 red onion

1 tbspn red wine vinegar (optional)

1/4 tsp granulated sugar (optional)

10 cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cucumber, quartered and sliced

1 round lettuce, shredded

16 Kalamata Olives, halved

90g feta cheese, crumbled

1 tsp dried oregano

Juice 1 lemon

1 tbspn extra virgin olive oil

Method

Thinly slice the onion, if using place in a non metalic bowl and add the sugar and red wine vinegar, leave to marinade overnight.

Prepare your ingredients as listed above, except for the lemon juice and olive oil, sharing them between two lunch boxes. Finish with a sprinkle of oregano over each salad.

In a small bowl whisk the lemon juice and olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper. Divide between two small dressing containers and fit snugly in the salad.

You should store this in the fridge until you are ready to eat it, when you can pour over the dressing and enjoy xx

Create · Crochet · Crochet Patterns

V-Stitch Baby Blanket Pattern

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This is a great baby blanket pattern, its easy and quick.  If your just learning to crochet you shouldn’t be daunted by this one.  You can make your blanket in any colour combination that works for you, or you can use just one colour. I have included the instructions for colour changing you can ignore them if you’ve chosen to make this in one colour.

I’ve been working hard to design my own patterns and seeing how I get on with more complicated patterns.  So when a lady I work with announced her pregnancy I couldn’t resist a pretty hat and blanket.  I chatted with her about her nursery colours and no surprise she has decorated in grey and mustard. Grey is very fashionable in the UK for babies just now and mustard is one of my favourite colours, so bright and warm. She is a modern, fashionable young lady so I new granny squares wouldn’t suit.  She has decided on a surprise so doesn’t know what she’s having, this is what I made…..

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There are many,many opportunities for changing the colours to suit the person you are making this for.  I do love these colours though, I think they work really well.

You can find the hat pattern here – Lacy Crochet  I added a picot to the last row so it matches the blanket edging. I haven’t quite got my head around the increases for a hat yet.

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V-Stitch Baby Blanket

Supplies

1 ball King Cole Pricewise Double Knit, Oyster (145), 100g, 282m – Colour A

1 ball King Cole Pricewise Double Knit, White (001) 100g, 282m – Colour B

1 ball King Cole Pricewise Double Knit, Mustard (1740), 100g 282m – Colour C

4mm hook

Yarn needle

Scissors

Special Stitches

Picot – dc,ch 2 insert hook into the first ch of the ch 2, yo, pull through all loops on hook

V-Stitch – 1 trc, ch 1 , 1 trc in the same stitch

Pattern

Foundation row – Chain  102

Row 1 – (Colour A) 1 trc, “miss one stitch, v-stitch in the next stitch”, repeat to the end of the row finishing with 1trc in the last stitch.

Row 2 –  1 trc in the first st of row one, v-stitch in the chain 1 space of the first v-stitch in row 1, repeat to the end of the row, 1trc in the last st of row one.

Row 3-5 – repeat row 2.

Row 6 – (Colour B) 1 trc, “miss one stitch, v-stitch in the next stitch”, repeat to the end of the row finishing with 1trc in the last stitch.

Row 7 – (Colour C) 1 trc, “miss one stitch, v-stitch in the next stitch”, repeat to the end of the row finishing with 1trc in the last stitch.

Row 8 – repeat Row 7

Row 9 – repeat Row 6

Repeat Row 1 to 9 7 times – 72 rows

Row 73 – 77 Repeat rows 1 – 5

Border

Row 1 – (continue in colour A) *dc in each st to the corner, dc, ch 2, dc*, repeat * to * to the end, sl st to join ch 1.

Row 2 – htc in each* st to the corner, htc, ch1, htc*, repeat * to * to the end, sl st to join ch 1.

Row 3 – htc in each* st to the corner, htc, ch1, htc*, repeat * to * to the end, sl st to join ch 1.

Row 4 – (Colour B) htc in each* st to the corner, htc, ch1, htc*, repeat * to * to the end, sl st to join ch 1.

Row 5 – (Colour C) htc in each* st to the corner, htc, ch1, htc*, repeat * to * to the end, sl st to join ch 1.

Row 6 – repeat Row 4.

Rows 7 & 8 (Colour A) htc in each* st to the corner, htc, ch1, htc*, repeat * to * to the end, sl st to join ch 1.

Row 9 (Colour B) picot in the first stitch, , *miss one st, picot* repeat * to * to the first corner, picot twice in the ch 2 of the last row,  picot in the next st, * picot, miss one st, picot*, repeat * to * to the end using the first corner pattern for the next three corners. sl st to join cast off.

Finish by weaving in the ends and steam blocking after washing and drying.

Stitch Diagram Part A Blanket

 

* see note below

Vstitch diagram v1

Stitch Diagram Part B Border

vstitch baby blanket border legend v4

*See note below

 

 

 

vstitch baby blanket border v4

 

*Note – due to the software used for the stitch diagrams the legends are in American Terms see Crochet Terms UK to US conversion for translation to English Terms

Baby Blanket v2 pin

 

 

 

Eat · In the Kitchen

Broccoli and Stilton Soup

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I’m not particularly overweight but I always find my BMI is on the edge of my being overweight.  After some changes in my usual routine recently I noticed my clothes were getting a little tight and I noticed on catching myself in the mirror that I have been gaining a few pounds.

I like to make low calorie food and I love growing, cooking and eating.  I am often asked for recipes, especially the lunches I take to work.  I’ve posted a few recipes on facebook for friends but I want to keep more of a record of what I make.  I don’t very often stick to a recipe and have quite a repertoire of food I make regularly so recording what I do on the blog will let me save the delicious, low calorie recipes I make regularly for my family and I.

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As part of the lunch series Broccoli and Dolcelatte Soup is a favourite. I hate waste, this recipe is perfect for a head of broccoli that is pasted its best as you use the whole lot. It is the perfect tasty low cal lunch at only 129 calories per serving you can have a slice of your favourite bread with it too.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do xx

Broccoli & Stilton Soup Pin

Serves 6 129 calories per serving

Ingredients

1 onion roughly chopped

1 tbspn Alfa one rice bran oil

1 celery stick finely chopped

1 medium potato peeled and cut into small cubes

1.5 litres vegetable using 2 x tsp Kallo Swiss vegetable bullion powder.

1 head broccoli florets separated, stalk cut into small cubes

75g Dolcellate blue cheese

 Method

  1. Warm the rice bran oil in a large pan over a low heat.
  2. Add the onion and celery cover and sweat for 10 minutes or until soft.
  3. Add the potato, broccoli stalk and the stock bring to the boil and simmer part covered for 10-15 minutes until the stalk is soft.
  4. Add the broccoli florets bring back to a simmer and cook part covered for 7-10 minutes until soft.
  5. Remove from the heat and blend using a stick blender or transfer to a liquidizer, whizz the soup until smooth.
  6. Add blobs of the Dolcellate and stir until they are part melted.

Can be eaten straight away or cooled portion up and frozen. Defrost at room temperature only reheat once.

 

Create · Crochet

Crochet Terms UK to US conversion

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Confused ? I was ! When I rediscovered crochet I also discovered that there are two different types of instructions UK terms and US terms very confusing when you are starting out. It took me a while to be able to read both types of instructions but now, after much practice, I’ve worked it out and don’t really think about it.  I do still make mistakes and have to unpick (frog) my work but I’ve had no major disasters. Understanding the difference between both has also helped me learn how to read crochet diagrams, art in themselves I now find them easier to follow than a written pattern. When I restarted crocheting I had never seem a symbol chart so when I found some I was just scarred and discarded them as too much for my brain to interpret.

How did I overcome my stitch terror? I did lots of internet research to find a guide to all the confusing dc, sc, trc, htc instructions and spent a lot of time matching the guides to the patterns.

My first crochet symbol chart for the crochet baby blanket post. Its not perfect but if I can do it so can you.

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If you search the internet for Crochet symbols you will find an amazing array of support out there, there are lots and lots of You Tube videos on how to create stitches some are helpful, some not so.  Watch out for a future post on the You Tube videos I found helpful.

What I would really love is a master class that I can go to to either learn a new crochet stitch or get help with a pattern I’m struggling with. You Tube can sometimes help but nothing beats talking to someone who can show you and teach you.  Unfortunately where I live there are no classes and Knit and Natter is when I’m at work so I can’t go.

I have added this page to help you convert my UK term patterns to US terms.  Once you’ve had a go a few times you will get the hang of it I promise.  Its not as hard as it seems. So be confident if you find a pattern written in terms you are not familiar with, use this guide and have a go.

I cannot take any credit for this guide, I could have made my own but time and knowing this is easy to find on the internet made me think I should just share the hard work someone else has already put in and give them the credit for their hard work.  Dabbles & Babbles published the chart below back in 2014.  Click here Crochet chart for a downloadable PDF, please also take the time to have a look around Dabbles & Babbles wed site there are some great crochet patterns and other craft activities for you to try.

I’ve been using this chart and have shared it on many occasions with other newbie crocheters so I am very confident it will help you.  Be confident, if you find a pattern written in terms you are not familiar with, use this guide and have a go.

Crochet Chart Symbols

Here is a link to a great video by Knit Picks to show you how to read patterns too, Knit Picks.