Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Make-along Inspiration: Knitting Patterns (and more discounts)

**Enabling alert!!!** Last week, after launching the Make-along for Knitters AND Crocheters, I shared some great crochet shawl patterns from Joanne Scrace, so today I have a selection of five gorgeous knitting patterns for your consideration.  These shawls are all from designers I'm loving at the moment, and what's more, they have generously offered a discount to Make-along participants. Click the images or the links below them to visit the relevant Ravelry page. To apply the code, add the pattern(s) to your basket (don't click 'buy now').

Before I show you the designs, here's a little reminder of 'the rules' for the make-along which starts on May 1st. The project you pick is up to you but should have three key elements:
1.  It can be knit, crochet or a combination of both
2. It should be a 'transitional' item - suitable for the changing seasons where you are
3. It should involve something new for you - a technique you haven't tried, difficulty level, your non-dominant craft or maybe you'd like to design it yourself. Whatever you choose it should stretch your skills in some way. With that in mind, here are this week's suggestions...

I know that I'm not the only one to have a crush on Aisling, the new shawl from Lete's Knits. The code CFTCMAKEALONG will get you a 20% discount off this stunning two-skein design.
Pattern: Aisling by Justyna Lorkowska /  Photo Credit: Marcin Duca

Regular readers will know that Truly Myrtle is one of my favourite blogs and I was so happy when Libby started publishing her designs. All three of Libby's shawl patterns are being included in the Make-along discount - use the code CFTCMAKEALONG to get 20% off until the end of May!  
Pattern: Darling Dotty by Libby Jonson / Photo Credit: Truly Myrtle
Pattern: Settler Shawl by Libby Jonson / Photo Credit: Truly Myrtle
Pattern: Antipodes by Libby Jonson / Photo Credit: Truly Myrtle

Anthony Casalena is an up-and-coming designer who has been wowing my Instagram feed lately with his long crescents of garter stitch, texture and colour. When I suggested his patterns on our Ravelry group, he popped in to say that he is offering a 15% discount with the code MADMAY15, if anyone would like to use it to purchase individual patterns from his collection. This is my favourite - you will find others on Ravelry
Pattern: Baridee by Anthony Casalena / Photo Credit: acaselena_crafted

When you've decided on the pattern (or even if you're not quiet sure yet) you'll probably need some new yarn - it would be rude not to, wouldn't it?

Charlotte from The Captain and Lovely has hand dyed a special batch of her 100% organic merino for Make-along participants - the colourway is called Sea Breeze and it has been dyed with a subtle variation so it won't overpower the design you've chosen. This super-squishy yarn comes in 100g / 330m skeins, and is available exclusively (with a 20% discount already applied) here.

Note that this discount will also apply to standard colourways, or if you'd like your merino to be custom dyed. To purchase any other colour, email Charlotte, quoting 'CFTCMAKEALONG' and she will issue a special invoice.

There will be more crochet patterns and yarn (and discounts) next Tuesday. In the meantime, check out the CftC Communtity group on Ravelry for more chat, pattern discussions, and early notification of special offers - it's the perfect excuse to stop lurking and join us! 
Monday, 13 April 2015

#LoveYourBlog week 2 : Beginnings

This week's 'Love Your Blog' prompt is 'Beginnings'. I already wrote all about how Crafts from the Cwtch began on A Playful Day Blog, so I won't repeat that here - please pop on over to read it if you're interested to find out more about that, as well as some tips for "loving" your blog. 

Following the beginning of the challenge last week, various things have happened as a direct result. Today's post is a bit of a round-up:
* New relationships. I probably managed to read about half of the posts from the first prompt, which is pretty good considering it's the Spring holiday and I've been busy with the children. I had a great time and found some new blogs to follow (also re-discovered a few I'd lost touch with over the last few years - they have been added to Bloglovin') .
Crafts from the Cwtch
*New Commenting Protocol. I got a little frustrated by some of the posts where I was really engaged by the writing but couldn't easily comment. Sometimes I didn't realise this until I'd taken a long time to reply. It made me go back to double-check my own settings. I had disabled the verification process a couple of years ago, but I've now relaxed it further so that anyone can comment easily (I've changed the settings for moderating the comments to counter-balance this).

* New Community. After reading so many posts from crocheters, on Tuesday I announced that the planned 'knitalong' would become a 'shawl make-along' for knitters and crocheters. Did you miss the announcement? Find it here. I am so excited to have long-time followers commenting and joining in for the first time as a result of this little change, as well as many new followers on the blog, and on social media. Welcome!
New Yarn
I got yarn to start a new design too... but that's more of an aside! 

* New Name. The Ravelry group for our knitalongs also changed, and has now become the "Crafts from the Cwtch Community" group - we're chatting about the make-along on there right now if you care to join us.

* New Support. Response to the 'make-along' announcement has been fabulous. As well as enthusiastic participants planning their projects, lots of lovely sponsors and designers have come forward to offer support. I already posted some crochet inspiration, and there will be another post of knitting pattern inspiration as well as some exclusive discounts tomorrow - sssshhhh, there may be a sneak preview for members of the Ravelry group. (If you missed 'The Shawl Project' review and discount, you can find it here!)

So it's been quite a week, and I definitely feel a new rush of enthusiasm and love for the blog and the community around it. Thanks to everyone who has joined in and left a comment or offer of support - you are awesome. I'd love to hear if anything exciting has begun for you in the last week, please leave an easier-than-ever comment! 
Thursday, 9 April 2015

Make-along Inspiration: The Shawl Project

An important element of the forthcoming shawl 'Make-along' is trying something new. I've already knitted a lot of shawls but a crochet shawl - which I have yet to try - has been on my mind since I spoke to Joanne Scrace about The Shawl Project at Unravel.  
I'll back up a little here for anyone who doesn't follow Joanne (Not So Granny) already - The Shawl Project Book One is a new collection of patterns which she recently published with Kat Goldin. Through The Crochet Project, this talented pair have been working to change the perception of crochet, bringing it up to date and making it more wearable. The book continues this tradition, but with something extra. 

In addition to six designs - each constructed in a different way - the second section is a guide to designing your own shawl using the same construction methods. The book also contains great advice on choosing the right yarn, achieving beautiful drape, how to swatch (yes, that again!) and how to block your finished item and care for it for years to come. In short, it's fab! I caught up with Joanne this week, and asked her a few more questions about the book. You can read her responses below, where you'll also find an exclusive discount code for Make-along participants. 

Here are the shawls, all designed by Joanne to be beginner-friendly single-skein projects...
Cherry Pi by Joanne Scrace, photography by Kat Goldin
Never Black by Joanne Scrace, photography by Kat Goldin
Northmoor Lock by Joanne Scrace, photography by Kat Goldin
Spirographical by Joanne Scrace, photography by Kat Goldin
Transposition by Joanne Scrace, photography by Kat Goldin
You Mileage May Vary by Joanne Scrace, photography by Kat Goldin
I love the patterns and the 'design your own' aspects of TSP, what was the inspiration behind it?
Back in summer last year I became mildly obsessed with crochet shawls. I was wearing Hilo and Silene to death and getting so many lovely comments. I knew that I wanted to explore crochet shawls and learn how to shape them. When I began looking into different shaping methods I found that the information was relatively sparse for knitters and almost non-existent for crocheters (because of different stitch heights we have to understand the shaping more deeply for it to work). So basically, I wrote the book I wanted to buy. 

When you were writing the book, who did you think would buy it? Was your prediction right? (I ask this as you seemed surprised when the print copy sold out so quickly. )
I was pretty afraid that no-one would but I hoped that it would sell to people who wanted to start creating their own designs and also to people who wanted to make some crochet shawls. 
I've been bowled over by the reaction to the book. Its selling to everyone from designers, as a resource, to novice crocheters, using the patterns as a progressive way to build their skills. - I love this aspect of the book that it will take you the whole way through your crochet journey.

As well as the community aspect of the 'make-along' I'd really like people to take the opportunity to try something different - this is the reason I'm going to try a crochet shawl and I'm hoping other "knitters" might try too. What are your top tips for making a gorgeous crochet shawl? 
- Choose some beautiful yarn - each shawl uses just 100g of 4ply/fingering. Using a quality, slightly drapey yarn will make even the simplest stitches sing.
- Practice the stitch before you start. Its much less frustrating to learn the stitch pattern over 40 sts than over 200!
- Pick the shawl you want to wear - I find this gives me better motivation for finishing than picking one because its the right difficulty level. 
- If you are a novice crocheter I recommend Northmoor Lock, Your Mileage May Vary or Spirographical. Cherry Pi and Transposition are not too much more difficult but will require a little more concentration and knowledge. Never Black is the trickiest because its such a large repeat.
- Block it when you finish - just like knitting, crochet shawls need a jolly good block to look their very best.

Finally, when can we expect 'Book Two'? 
Its in the planning stages and you can expect some beautiful shawls with a more autumnal feel and some new constructions explored. Its slated for Autumn 2015.

As I mentioned, the first print run sold out in a single weekend but don't worry, you can download the ebook right now from Ravelry if you can't wait for a hard copy (which should be available in May). Even better, participants of the Make-along can get 20% off using the code CFTCMAKEALONG - it can also be used for the other shawls linked in the interview and can be used more than once. 

I have some other great shawl patterns from designers offering a discount for our make-along (both knit and crochet) to share with you in the next week or so, and will also be announcing some generous giveaway prizes. Stay tuned here and on the (renamed) CftC Community Ravelry group so you don't miss a thing! 
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Crafts from the Cwtch is part of the Deramores, Craftsy, Etsy, Creativebug and Amazon Affiliate programmes and works with a few carefully selected sponsors. Where posts or projects are sponsored, the opinions will always be entirely my own. You can find out more about affiliate links and blog sponsorship here.
Welcome to CftC! You'll find lots of knitting, spinning, crochet, books and snippets of family life amongst the archives and you may like to start with my most popular tips & tutorials, or the patterns. You can read more about me on the 'Hello' page and if you like it here, you may also like to visit the CftC pages on Ravelry, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Etsy. I hope you enjoy your visit! Sarah

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