Thursday, 30 October 2014

Design Notebook: Colourblock Shawl in progress

Last week I showed you the gorgeous Scheepjes Stone Washed XL yarn being used for my colourblock shawl, but I didn't tell you much about the project or how it came about. 
Colourblock shawl in Scheepjes Stone Washed XL
It all started - as it invariably does - with a rough sketch in my Traveler's Notebook back in May. I was clear that the shawl needed to be knit on the bias, that it could be made in any size, and that it would be easy enough to make as a first project, and I wanted it to be snuggly and to have a fringe. The idea was left amongst the pages until a while later when I discovered the perfect yarn...
Colourblock shawlin Scheepjes Stone Washed XL
It hasn't taken many hours of actual knitting - there have been lots of other priorities and distractions - but it's almost finished. I'm still not 100% sold on the yellow and wish I'd picked purple instead, but I love the texture and it's extremely soft and drapeable.
Colourblock shawlin Scheepjes Stone Washed XL
With just 100g of orange to add, it's time to decide on the fringe (which may take longer than the knitting as this is a speedy project using 6mm needles). I have kept aside both blue and grey yarn with thoughts of a multi-coloured fringe, but I have a ball of the sport weight Stone Washed in Moon Stone (cream) which is left over from a different project and it's calling to me... so I'm seriously considering that one too. Some experimentation is in order. 
Scheepjes Stone Washed for the fringe
Of the many things I've made this year, this is definitely one of my favourites - I can't wait to wear it. It's really simple but surprisingly effective - exactly the sort of project I love. Hopefully it'll be finished soon and I'll be posting the free pattern here for anyone who'd like to make one.
Monday, 27 October 2014

Great knitting ebooks to borrow for free (as part of free trial)

If you've been visiting these pages for a while, you'll know that I'm a big fan of ebooks and go through quite a lot of them each month. I also like a freebie. As I know many of you are the same, I decided to write this post to tell you what I'm doing to try lots of different books out. It includes affiliate links. You can read more about them here

I've been considering the new Kindle Unlimited service since it was launched here a few weeks ago, and initially decided it really wasn't worth the 30 day free trial, for a number of reasons including: 
  • I have *so many* books on my Kindle already that I haven't read (because I buy them when they are on offer or part of the Daily Deal
  • I am already a Prime Member and can borrow a book a month as part of that
  • Lots of the novels I want to read are not included in the Unlimited package
So I didn't think I'd bother with the the service... but then I did a little research on the 'knitting' (and other craft) books which are included, and discovered that there are some real gems on there... but you do have to look through quite a lot of other books to find them if you don't know exactly what you want. If you're thinking about giving the free trial a go, here are some of the books I think you might like.

I have the paperback of Sock Knitting Master Class by Ann Budd and it's great! It was recommended to me by several knitters when I was first attempting socks and it has lots of lovely patterns written by some of the best-known sock designers. The paperback is usually about £15 and the Kindle edition over £8. If you're knitting socks for Christmas I'd say that the free trial is worth doing for this book alone. If you're not quite at "master class" level, there's also a beginner sock knitting book by the same author with fabulous reviews (linked below). I've linked to some of the other books I think are worth checking out below too. There are lots more to discover (including Cookie A's Sock Innovation which I also have in paperback and would highly recommend but I didn't put a picture in case you think it's all about socks!).

How it works: Kindle Unlimited is a subscription service - you pay £7.99 per month to borrow as many books as you like from the Kindle Unlimited library (up to 10 at any time). You don't need a Kindle to read them, and can use any compatible device which has the free Kindle App installed (this includes most tablets, smart phones and computers). In my opinion, these types of books are actually better on a tablet (inc Kindle Fire) or computer as they have a lot of illustrations and images - for this reason I'll be reading them on my iPad. 

Click the images to view the books on Amazon
When you sign up for the 30 day trial, you can borrow as many of the books from the library as you like (there are lots of different books to choose from including children's books and various genres and these novels with audio narration so you can knit and listen at the same time). 

If you decide that the package isn't worth £7.99 per month, you can cancel the trial before the first payment is taken so you never have to pay anything. If you like the service and wish to continue, then you don't need to do anything, your Amazon account will be charged at the end of the trial. I don't know how long I'll subscribe to the service, but if nothing else, this is a great way to try out some of these books, especially those which cover techniques I haven't tried before (like shadow knitting). If you have any other recommendations from the available books, please leave a comment so I can check them out.

Tip: If you decide to keep the membership and use Ravelry, you might like to add the books to your Ravelry library so you can easily search the patterns without having to look through all the books.
Thursday, 23 October 2014

Colourblocking

In the last post I talked about some of the yarn that had arrived in recent weeks for new designs, but what I didn't get around to showing you was the biggest single delivery of all.

I should perhaps start by saying it was inevitable that a parcel like this would arrive. I follow lots of blogs and had seen so much of this Scheepjes Stone Washed XL (a relatively new yarn from a well established brand) courtesy of the various Dutch crafters I follow. After seeing Wink's beach bag CAL I decided that this might just be the yarn I was looking for to produce something from a sketch I drew months ago. So varying amounts of four different colours were ordered - Coral, Lemon Quartz, Smokey Quartz and Amazonite - and arrived looking like this...
Scheepjes Stone Washed
These are definitely not my usual colours - especially the yellow - but I confess that my order was heavily influenced by the sky here at the start of Autumn. It changes so much throughout the day - starting out blue, turning to grey and then giving a flash of sun in the mid-afternoon, ready for the beautiful oranges of an early sunset. It's my favourite thing about living in West Sussex which is relatively flat (compared to my hometown in Wales) and offers magnificent views of the skyline. 

As I hadn't tried the yarn before, it was essential to cast on immediately.  In no time at all I'd knit up the first 50g ball and had completely fallen for it. The yarn is 70% cotton and 30% acrylic and is incredibly soft, with a slight halo. Knitting garter stitch on 6mm needles, it produces a deliciously snuggly and textured fabric and I think everyone who has squished it has fallen for it too. Because it's so soft and washable, I used the 5 ply version for my latest pattern - Leaf Collector's Mitts.
Colourblocking with Scheepjes Stone Washed XL
All this happened at the same time my hand stopped working (see this post), so although I might normally have finished this project in a single weekend, it was delayed for a week, followed by other things which had to be finished for deadlines. *sigh* All good things come to those who wait, right? 

It's really good comfort-knitting (I've done a bit more than you can see in the picture) and I'm itching to get back to it... but had to use the needle tips for another project I'm working on* so I need to finish that one before I can get the needles back. I'll give you an update next week when I'm hoping it might be well on the way to completion.
------
*Knitter's Problems: How is it that you can have four complete sets of different needles, plus spares, and the ONLY 6mm tips you can find are on another project?
Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Yarn Tease

The postman has told me that he's fed up of delivering my parcels. You see, there's been a lot of new yarn to swatch for some of the designs I'm working on. I guess this is the inevitable result of regular journaling - everything ends up in my notebook and eventually wants to be turned into an actual project. As there have been so many posts NOT showing you anything, I decided that today's 'Show & Tell' would be a quick peek at some of the things in my yarn basket, which are also a hint at things to come in the next couple of months.
Yarn yarn everywhere
You'll notice there are a few shimmery things - I'm working on a pattern which I am really excited about and planning to swatch in a few different yarns to suit different budgets. This stunning undyed alpaca/silk arrived today - it's Blue Sky Alpacas Metalico and is jaw-droppingly beautiful. Look at that natural shimmer!  It's a total luxury yarn and I can't wait to see it knitted up ... but it's so lovely I almost don't want to unwrap it from the skein. 
New yarn!
In total colourful contrast, this Malabrigo Mecha (colourway Piedras) threw me a real curveball - I got it on a whim, but it's so beautiful, I altered another design planned for a different yarn, in order to suit it. Each stitch is the most amazing colour - and I really think it needs a simple design which will allow the colours to sing without being overpowered.
New yarn!
You might have guessed that working with yarns like these, I've started to really love swatching!
New yarn!
Just for fun, I also started playing around with some of the new Yarn Stories merino DK to see what it's like. I love the cobalt and spring green together and they feel so soft and snuggly. I really want to finish these mitts but just haven't had a couple of evenings free to get them done. It seemed I'd have so much more time with the children both at school but that is definitely not the case, as I'm trying to cram so much in.

In fact, this is only the tip of the iceberg, as my WIP-bag 'overfloweth' at the moment. I have even more gorgeous yarn - and a new project - to show you later in the week, but it needs a whole post to itself. (It's going to be a free pattern here on the blog once it's finished and written up and I LOVE IT!) 

Before I go, a huge thank you to everyone who has already purchased a copy of the Leaf Collector's Mitts pattern. I have been absolutely thrilled to see that some awesome knitters have already downloaded it, and some are using it for the Little Bobbins Mittalong. Happy Mitt-ing!
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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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