Friday, 30 January 2015

Book Review 'Arm & Finger Knitting' by Laura Strutt

The number of 'non-knitter' friends who recently sent me a viral "arm knitting" video makes me think that this is definitely something which has captured the imagination. I'll admit that it isn't something that had ever called to me, so when publisher CICO invited me to review a copy of the brand new book Arm and Finger Knitting, it seemed the perfect opportunity to see what all the fuss is about. Plus I already know a load of people who will be interested to hear about it!

Written by Laura Strutt - blogger, freelance writer and former editor of 'Craft Business' and 'Sew' magazines (and various other books) - this is a quality paperback with 112 pages including plenty of clear photos, and step-by-step instructions. There are 22 arm knitting projects which cover various techniques from casting on and binding off, to increasing, decreasing and cables. Projects are split into homewares and wearables. 
"Arm & Finger Knitting" - by Laura Strutt / CICO books -  review
If you like the 'open' texture of arm-knit fabrics then there is a lot to choose from. As well as the Infinity Scarf, I predict the "Travel Blanket" (with storage pouch) and "Lap Blanket" (featured in issue 49 of Mollie Makes) will be the most popular projects from the arm knitting section. Textured and modern, they both make great statement pieces for the home.

I must confess that I find some of the garments to be... erm... "interesting"... but then it's rare to find a book where *everything* appeals. Perhaps I'm just a bit too old/traditional to appreciate the hat and multi-way button creation pictured below.
"Arm & finger knitting" book review.
On the other hand (!), the finger knitting projects are right up my street - my love of knitted and lucet icords is well documented, but I'd never tried making them with my fingers before.

There are 13 finger-knit projects in the book, including a brooch, headband, necklace and various things for the home. I've pictured my three favourites - all of which I can imagine making with or without 'help' from the kids. They are simple but effective.
'Arm & Finger Knitting' book review.
As well as being potential stash busters, these projects would also work well with DIY Yarn (tutorial here)
What I like most of all is that the designs are easy enough for beginners. The fact that they work up quickly also means that the excitement of finishing something can be yours within a very short time, potentially making this a great 'gateway' craft!

You can buy the book at Amazon (affiliate link: Arm and Finger Knitting: 35 no-needle knits for the home and to wear) and other  good booksellers. If you'd like to see more reviews and projects made from the book, take a look at Laura's great blog, Made Peachy, or follow her on Twitter where there are links to all the blog tour posts.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Knickers... and "The Big Comic Relief Crafternoon"

In just a few weeks (March 13th) Comic Relief will ask people to pick their nose (!) or paint their face to raise money for charitable causes in the UK and abroad. Crafters are also being invited to raise money by hosting a Big Comic Relief Crafternoon (craft fair). To give ideas and inspiration, a selection of well known crafters including Tif Fussell, Lucy from Attic24, Jodie Carleton, Mr X Stitch and my Mum (!) were invited to submit patterns for a very special edition of Mollie Makes.

If you've been a Mollie Makes subscriber from the start (as I have) you'll recognise many of the 50 different patterns which are presented here, along with the brand new contributions which include: knitted beards, crochet red noses, DIY craft themed dinner plates, messenger bags made from vintage pillowcases and wristwarmers and.... my mum's knickers!!
My mum's French knicker pattern, made up in Liberty fabric - image via Silver Pebble / Mollie Makes
Also included is a guide to running your own craft fair  - you can make an entire troupe of felt guinea pigs/nursery full of Spring posy brooches/forest of moustaches and sell them to make more crafty cash for Comic Relief.

The magazine is available from Sainsbury's from today and digital versions can be purchased via iTunes and Google Play. The cover price is £7.99 with a full £5 going directly to the charity. What are you waiting for?!
Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Catharsis... and knowing when to give up

It's been a weekend of catharsis. It all began on Saturday morning when D entered the playroom with a roll of black sacks. A few days later it is continuing with my wardrobe. There's something very liberating about getting rid of the things that no longer serve you or make you happy.
Catharsis (or, my life in coat hangers)
Cleaning out my wardrobe, I realised that it's full of things for a life I no longer lead, or that I never really did lead. I'd go as far as to say my wardrobe suggests I'm a size 10-12 party girl who can wear high heels and spends the summer in the Mediterranean. The reality is a much more cuddly 40 year old mum living in a small village surrounded by farmland! Looking at so much stuff that I can't even wear is quite depressing - so it's all going. Five sacks have been filled already... and it's not finished yet. I'm giving up on the (ridiculous) dream that these things might ever fit me or suit me again.

Giving up on so many useless things feels like a very positive thing and following the advice of Queen Elsa, I'm letting it all go. It's not limited to sorting toys and clothes either - it's spilling over into my knitting. Of course there are many situations where perseverance is important, nay critical. For example, half way through an enormous picot bind-off, on a shawl you've taken months to knit. You may feel you want to give up, but you're close to having a wonderful finished garment so it's important to focus and just get on with the job in hand - with a refreshment break or two thrown in for good measure. In those situations it's vital that you don't give up.

On the other hand, life is way too short to be working on projects that you absolutely hate. And I've found myself in just this situation of late...
About to be frogged!!!!
Do you remember the Entrelac collaboration that Wink and I started a while ago? You may have noticed that the instalments have been getting further apart... and that for the last one I didn't even show the 'actual' project being worked - I used other yarn (soft and lovely to handle Scheepjes Stone Washed) to illustrate the tutorial. The truth is I HATE the yarn we chose for this project. There, I said it! It's scratchy and hard and I just don't want to pick it up. Ever.

After much procrastination I finally confessed to Wink and was relieved that she felt the same way about it. Phew! I still intend to continue with the tutorials and to post a pattern for this project, so at Unravel 2015 (more details to follow later this week) I'll look for something much nicer, and will pick this project up again at a later date. In the meantime, there are various Entrelac resources listed in the earlier posts if you're keen to give it a go.

Lots to show you this week, so I'll see you again tomorrow!
Monday, 26 January 2015

BLTN part 2: Quick Knit Cowl Pattern

Last week I showed you the first of the 'better late than never' projects I finished during the busy festive period, and which didn't make it to the blog for various reasons. Today I have another, and it's not just an FO, but a new pattern which ended up being published (very quietly) in December.

I'd been chatting to someone who wanted to give lace knitting a go, but didn't know where to start. She wanted a simple pattern which was easy to follow and which would knit up quickly but could be made with something that would feel scrumptious - without raiding the bank. My solution was to come up with this Quick Knit Lace Cowl.
Quick-knit Lace Cowl pattern - now available to download, exclusively at Love Knitting.
I used deliciously sparkly Galaxie, by Bergere de France in a festive red "Carmine" (which was intended to be used for something else - whoops!). The yarn is Acrylic/ Wool/ Polyester and feels incredibly soft - perfect for wearing around the face and neck.
Quick-knit Lace Cowl pattern - now available to download, exclusively at Love Knitting.
Quick-knit Lace Cowl pattern - now available to download, exclusively at Love Knitting.
The pattern is suitable for knitters who are able to knit in the round and would like to try something a little more challenging than knits and purls, but which is still quite straightforward. Both written and charted instructions are included and the chart is especially easy to follow - as this design includes only a basic increase (yo) and decrease (sk2p) and the pattern "lines up" which means it's easy to tell whether you're following it properly.

The cowl knits up quickly on 8mm needles and takes just 3 balls (around £10 in total). The PDF is available to purchase exclusively at Love Knitting, and the details are listed in the Ravelry database - I love to see what you  make from my patterns, so please do link your WIP and FO project notes there. 
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Crafts from the Cwtch is part of the Deramores, Craftsy, Etsy and Amazon Affiliate programmes and works with carefully selected sponsors. 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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