Saturday, 28 February 2015

Tulpen Crochet Shawl - The Recipe

I'm not quite sure what has happened to time this week, but I seem to have lost a day somehow! Last week I promised you the recipe for the super-simple Tulpen Crochet Shawl which was last week's Finished Object. If you missed it, it's a basic (and very easy to crochet) rectangle, which can be styled in various ways with the use of a shawl pin. At Unravel I wore it folded in half as a thick collar/cowl and got  lots of lovely comments about it. 
Tulpen Crochet Wrap - the recipe
Only three stitches are necessary to make this wrap, so it would be a good one for novice crocheters (and knitters who want to try crochet). It works up quickly with chunky yarn and a big crochet hook. If you fancy trying it, I've linked to the stitches and yarn at Deramores (affiliate):
You will need:
- 400g Scheepjes Vinci - I used Colourway 004
- 8mm crochet hook
- Needle for sewing in ends
Stitches used - UK terms: 
- ch = chain (tutorial)
- dc = double crochet (tutorial)
- tc = treble crochet (tutorial)
Finished measurements: 105 cm wide x 46cm deep (without blocking)
  1. Start by making a chain of 110 stitches 
  2. 1 dc into the second ch from hook, *skip the next 2 ch, 5 tr into next ch, skip next 2 ch, 1 dc into next ch; rep from * to end
  3. 1 ch (does not count as a stitch, this is for turning), 1 dc into the first ch, *skip the next 2 ch, 5 tr into next ch, skip next 2 ch, 1 dc into next ch; rep from * to end of row, where you need to work 3 tr into the final stitch before turning 
  4. Repeat row 3 until the work is 45cm deep (I worked 34 rows) or until it's to your desired length. TIP: You will see that the dc is worked into the middle of the 5 tr on the previous row, and the 5 tr are worked into the dc from the previous row, so you won't need to count the stitches, simply remember to work the ch at the beginning of every row and it'll all work out. 
  5. At the end of the final pattern row, simply turn the work 90 degrees to add the edging (pictured, below). The edging is simply 1 dc into each stitch along the bottom and into each space along the side of the rows (see pic). To turn the corners, work 3 dc into the same stitch.
Edge of Tulpen wrap
I hope you have fun with this. Do leave a comment or post a pic on the CftC Facebook page if you make it. 
Thursday, 26 February 2015

#Unravel2015 Part 2: The Highlights

It's taken a few days to digest Unravel, hence this post is a day late. This was my fifth visit to the Festival of Knitting and certainly the best to date. I showed you some of my favourite pictures in my last post but here are the highlights of the weekend...

#unravel2015 a weekend of awesomeness!
My friend, crochet blogger Wink (A Creative Being), came from The Netherlands again this year, bringing lots of exciting gifts including her new book, which I'll tell you about in another post (spoiler: I love it). It has been said that I'm responsible for enabling Wink to knit, so I was delighted to also be responsible for introducing her to Louise Player from Spin City UK. If you're within reach of Louise for more than two minutes, chances are the magic will happen - lo and behold, she had Wink spinning in no time! She then spent the rest of the festival with her new spindle in hand, looking at fibre, and an evening being inspired by Louise's many talents over dinner (her fashion designs are seriously amazing).

Wink and I also met up with Tink (Master of a Thousand Things), Tanya (A Yarn Loving Mama) and Joanne Scrace (Not so Granny). After four years of 'knowing' Joanne online, I'm so happy that we finally got together in person. It's funny how you can feel like you already know someone so that when you meet, you are completely comfortable with them. That's how it was. As well as being a talented designer, she is a wonderful teacher and very knowledgable about so many different things. Joanne was teaching at Unravel but joined us for an evening of laughter, info-tainment... and maybe just a little plotting too!

#unravel2015 a weekend of awesomeness!
As a blogger, you never really know how helpful your posts might turn out to be, so it was very cool to discover that Joanne had been inspired by my Tips for Unravel post and was fully prepared for button-purchasing - with a knitted swatch including a button hole. I couldn't resist photographing her using it.

Despite being a veteran 'Unraveller', it's the first year that I've made it to any of the talks - the revised show layout this year meant it was much easier to get a seat without queuing on a staircase. I couldn't resist the chance to see the people behind Nudinits, and Wink and I were joined by a lovely Instagram friend. The session began with a full 22 minute screening of Tickled Pink - you can watch it here (warning: it contains knitted nudity and lots of double entendres) - and ended with a Q&A session and the chance to take a look at some of the models and props.
Knitted car - Nudinits at Unravel
The attention to detail on this stop-motion animated film is amazing - every single thing is handmade, including a cow pat with flies, the clouds, litter and so many other things you really need to see it a few times to fully appreciate it. Perhaps the most impressive item was the car which has a working steering wheel and all sorts of little details inside the cabin, which I didn't manage to photograph.

I spent most of the afternoon talking to people - some who read this blog or my facebook page, bloggers I love to read, podcasters I listen to - most notably Kate from A Playful Day and Corrie at Plutonium Muffins, who was (easily) persuaded to join us for dinner. I met other designers and people I 'know' from Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.  I also had a chat with Daisy from Devon Sun Yarns who did such a great job dyeing yarn especially for my Seafoam design. I'm not quite sure of the exact point at which chatting to lovely people turns into "networking", but there was lots of both and there are various plans afoot as a result of conversations that sparked ideas. I love this about being around creative people. I only wish I'd taken more photos.

To top it all off, the event seemed to have been planned more effectively this year. Last week I pre-warned about lots of queues and limited seating but this wasn't an issue at all on Saturday. Friday opening - which started last year as a short preview - was extended to a whole afternoon, and it seems that this had a positive impact on the number of Saturday visitors. In addition, the stalls were spread out more than usual - there was enough room to get around even the busiest stands, and to chat to vendors. (I have another post planned to tell you about some of the new-to-me vendors I especially liked as there is just too much for this one post.)

All of this made an enormous difference to the overall experience - it was far more relaxing and pleasant than in previous years. Many of the vendors I spoke to said that their sales were up as a result of having more time to engage with their customers. As well as Wink's spinning, we were able to get a weaving demo, and we saw lots of other people being shown how to knit, spin, crochet and felt.
Yes, it was a fabulous weekend, and I'm already looking forward to Unravel 2016! 

Links to related Unravel posts:  Not So Granny, A Playful Day, Spin City UK and Plutonium Muffins Podcast 
Tuesday, 24 February 2015

#Unravel2015: Part 1 - The Pictures

I have so much to tell you about my amazing weekend at Unravel, it still feels a little overwhelming and I'm not sure where to start. So for today's Show & Tell, I am simply going to share some of my pictures, and tell you about the things I couldn't resist bringing home. Come back tomorrow for a round up of my Unravel Highlights. 
#unravel2015 a weekend of awesomeness!
Beautiful felted creatures by Jenny Barnett
#unravel2015 a weekend of awesomeness!
Amazing colourwork and design from Marie Wallin
#unravel2015 a weekend of awesomeness!
Knitted aliens from the Surrey Knitting & Crochet Group
#unravel2015 a weekend of awesomeness!
A collection of vintage designs from Susan Crawford
#unravel2015 a weekend of awesomeness!
Romantic vintage-inspired designs (and kits) from Jennie Atkinson
#unravel2015 a weekend of awesomeness!
Two of the stars of Nudinits
#unravel2015 a weekend of awesomeness!
New designs from Alison Ellen
A last hoorah at The Natural Dye Studio (closing in April)
Having left home with a very small list of 'needs' (mainly buttons and shawl pins for other people) I came away with a long list of things I'd like, but just a few things I couldn't resist.
#unravel2015 purchases
1. The pink knitting bag from Quincepie (others available via Etsy and there is more of this fabric by request) was the ONLY ONE like this, prompting me to immediately break my own rule about not buying on the first sweep. I'm glad I did, as I love it. 
2. Some obligatory shawl pins from The Textile Garden
3. One 100g skein of Scandinavian yarn from Midwinter Yarns - this is a stall I haven't seen before and the people were absolutely lovely, I did well to come away with only the one skein. It's similar to other yarn I've used - feels a bit rustic and rough in the skein, but blooms with a good soak. 
4. Some short length DPNs from Knitting4Fun. I could make up a reason for needing these but they are just so cute! 
5. Handles from Creative You (who also sell a great selection of t-shirt yarns). I already have a project in mind for these.

Mostly I will treasure the memories I brought home - but more on those tomorrow! 
Friday, 20 February 2015

FO Friday: Tulpen Crochet Shawl Ta-dah!

It's all very busy and exciting here as I'm packing my bags for Unravel (if you're coming and missed yesterday's post, take a look here). I just have time to give you a quick look at the finished 'Tulpen' Crochet Shawl made from Scheepjes Vinci.

You can see I've used a very simple stitch pattern to let the colours do all the work for me and as it's a basic rectangle shape, can be worn in different ways. Just wrap it around and stick a pin in it - my favourite type of accessory!
'Tulpen' by Sarah Knight. A simple rectangular shawl using Scheepjes Vinci
This was my first crochet project for a very long time and I really enjoyed it - there may be more to follow. The yarn is lovely to work with, quite 'woolly' (despite being 40% acrylic) and nice to handle, not to mention those great tulip-y colours.
'Tulpen' by Sarah Knight. A simple rectangular shawl using Scheepjes Vinci'Tulpen' by Sarah Knight. A simple rectangular shawl using Scheepjes Vinci
I'd say this project would be suitable for anyone with the most basic crochet skills - you only need to know how to make a chain, a slip stitch and a treble crochet - and it used just a little under 400g of colourway 004. Next week I'll write up the (very simple) instructions, but in the meantime there are yarns to fondle and people to see. Have a great weekend, everyone!
Thursday, 19 February 2015

10 Tips for Unravel Festival - #Unravel2015

This weekend will be my fifth trip to Unravel - I can't tell you how excited I am about it. I've already made plans to meet up with friends, fellow-bloggers and designers, and I hope to get to meet some of you too. If you're going to Unravel and haven't been before... or if you're not going but plan to visit another yarn festival, then this post is for you. 
#cftcspringkal yarn choice.
1. Set a budget - I know, it's very boring, but unless you're fortunate enough to have a money tree, it's absolutely worth budgeting in advance as you are likely to be seriously tempted by lots of gorgeous things - if you know what you can spend, you'll be able to make better choices. 

2. It's worth taking cash to cover the things you really want to buy, just in case some vendors are unable to card payments or the machines have no signal (this has happened to me!), which brings me onto... 

3. Make a list of anything you need to buy. Include yarn weights and amounts, as well as any necessary swatches so you can look for the right colour buttons etc. If you're looking for yarn for a new project, it will help to take the pattern or a summary of what you need. I can't tell you the number of times I've been trying to connect to Ravelry over a poor internet connection in order to work out exactly what I should get to make a queued project.

4. Compare items 1 and 3 - revise them if necessary.

5. Check the Exhibitor list, talks and workshops - make a note of any you really want to see. It's very frustrating to get home and realise that you missed an entire room (these are the words of bitter experience). 
A very small sample of the yarns I fondled at Unravel 2014
Note that opening times are as follows: Friday 12 noon - 6pm, Saturday 10am - 5pm, and Sunday 10am - 4pm.

6. Pack plenty of snacks / water / lunch - the queues can be veeeeery long, and if you have special requirements you may find nothing suitable at the end of them (e.g. Gluten Free is not readily available, much to my annual dismay). Seating is also limited which brings me onto the next point.... 

7. Wear cool layers and comfy footwear - With all the yarn and people, plus most are wearing knitwear, it can get very warm. You'll be on your feet for much of the day and there are plenty of stairs at Unravel too. It's definitely a weekend for comfort and carefree browsing.

8. Look twice, buy once. Unless your pre-defined budget is extensive, you'll probably have to choose between various different wonderful things before buying. My advice is to do a full 'recce' before making any decisions.

9. Take photos. I'm a blogger, an Instagram user and a mother so I naturally take a lot of photos, but even if you don't, Unravel is a good time to start. There are various things you might want to photograph:
  • The 'yarn bombing' around the venue can be really amazing, plus you might want to capture some of the atmosphere in the marketplace. 
  • With so many stalls, it can be handy to take pictures of the vendors you especially like - it'll help you to remember what you saw on each stall, and if you capture the name you'll be able to find them again for any purchases that were beyond your budget on the day. 
  • Get a "selfie". There are various reasons for doing this. Of course it may be that you've spotted one of your favourite designers and have to get a picture taken with them, or on a more practical level, if you're not sure about the colour of a yarn - especially if you're shopping without the aid of an honest friend -  it can be really useful to get a picture of it close to your face to see how well it suits you. I am drawn to yellows and greens but it's rare to find a shade that doesn't make me look jaundiced - a picture can be a really useful aid and I try to do this whenever I'm not sure about something. 
Everything at Unravel 2014 is knitted - including the birds and food
10. Break the rules - If you see something you simply can not resist, and that you won't be able to get your hands on again (pre-loved vintage tools, a single unique hand-dyed skein that makes your heart sing... ) all rules are null and void. Unravel happens only once a year and it's a great deal of fun so enjoy it! 

I very much hope to see some of you there - if you spot our little group doing the rounds, or relaxing somewhere with a cuppa and our knitting, don't be shy! Come and say hello, but please note that my glasses broke last night so I may be either (a) squiniting, (b) going with the Jack Duckworth look, or (c) wearing prescription sunglasses. Please don't let any of these things put you off! 

If you can't make it to Unravel you can follow the events on Twitter and Instagram - I'll be using the tag #unravel2015. 
Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Free PDF eGuides on your favourite crafts... courtesy of Craftsy

This post contains affiliate links - read more about affiliate programmes and sponsorship here.

As you know, I am a huge fan of Craftsy and I love good quality freebies. Today I have a double whammy for you in the form of a selection of free Craftsy eGuides. With a $4.99 value for each guide, they are currently FREE for you to download, but only for a limited time!

There are lots of different topics to choose from so I've picked the subjects I think will most appeal to the readers who regularly visit and comment, and there are some more listed below - click the images (or links) to access the following.....

Knitting Stitches you need to know

Sweaters you'll love to knit


Hand Embrodiery

Illustration for beginners

Drawing with perspective

There are lots more topics including drawing the human body, the face, and animals, watercolour and mixed-media flowers, an exposure guide for photographscontainer gardening, jewellery- and doughnut- making, sewing your own lingerie, woodwork and all things cake-related. I hope you enjoy them. Leave a comment with your favourite!
Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Show & Tell: Two Seasons in Yarn

My favourite 'bricks and mortar' yarn shop closed down recently (cause: retirement). The shop wasn't very local to me, requiring a two hour round trip and the rigours of town-centre parking, so I accidentally happened upon the last trading day, which felt a little sad and brought back some fond memories - it was the place that I first fell in love with Noro *sigh*.

Something old: Rowan Kidsilk Haze Trio
Under normal circumstances, I try not to 'stash' yarn, but I really couldn't resist picking up the last of this gorgeous Rowan Kidsilk Haze Trio in Loganberry 70% mohair / 30% silk - I believe that this colourway is now discontinued, but can still be picked up for a reduced price of £10 a ball online. With it being the last few hours of trading, I managed to get the last 300g (almost 900m) for an absolute song - I almost felt bad about it.

It's a 'new' yarn, that feels kind of 'old'. Even the colourway is reminiscent of Autumn, the beginning of the end. I'm not sure when I'll get around to knitting it up but would like to turn it into something special - something to mark the end of an era - a discontinued colour and a discontinued way of shopping.

In complete contrast, the weather today is decidedly spring-like and optimistic. The sun is shining, and indoors at least, it doesn't feel very cold. This brings me on to the other yarn I got last week and which I have more immediate plans for...
New yarn!  Soft Fun Denim - more cotton/acrylic scrumptiousness from Scheepjes in 11 semi-solid colours!
This is part of the new Spring range from Scheepjes (which despite looking like it might be something to do with 'sheep' is actually 'little ships') called Soft Fun Denim. Regular Soft Fun has been around for a while and is available in 36 different solid shades, but this Denim version feels like a 'new' new yarn - the 11 colours are fresh and bright with a semi-solid variation, reminiscent of some of my favourite hand dyed yarns.

It's 60% cotton / 40% acrylic with 140m per 50g and I predict it will be popping up all over the blogiverse in crochet blankets and children's clothing as it's very soft and machine washable, as well as being pretty. It's already available in The Netherlands & Belgium for around €3.50 a ball, and I'm told it'll be available via UK stockist Deramores imminently (regular Soft Fun is around £3.10 per ball in Sterling - good value for a lovely yarn).

Before My Boy shared his latest sick bug with me at the weekend (thanks Son), I'd started swatching for a Spring project using this yarn - possibly something with stripes. I also managed to finish my crochet wrap - I hope to see you on Friday for the Ta-dah. 
Friday, 13 February 2015

Crochet WIP Update: "Tulpen" Wrap

Last week I showed you the new yarn that arrived for a crochet project. I should probably explain to new readers that although I can crochet, it's not something I do very often. There are two main reasons for this - I generally prefer the look of knitted fabric, and I don't "speak" fluent crochet. I put this down to early confusion over UK and US terms and probably a few badly written patterns which I tried to follow when I was learning to crochet. 

Nowadays, I'm much happier following a crochet chart than a written pattern. I am especially fond of Dorling Kindersley's "Crochet" book which includes lots of different stitch patterns (with charts) along with various techniques and patterns etc. It's a great go-to and memory-jogger on the rare occasions I decide to pick up a hook. 
Crochet (Dorling Kindersley)
Using the book for stitch inspiration, I decided to make a super simple rectangular wrap which can be worn in various different ways, courtesy of my favourite shawl pin. I've been trying it on as I work, and it's going to be really adaptable (that makes me very happy!). It's also very warm. 
"Tulpen" - beginners' crochet shawl (WIP) using Scheepjes Vinci (400g)
For those who missed the first post, this delicious yarn is Scheepjes Vinci in colourway 004, available from Deramores (see here for worldwide shipping information). It feels quite woolly (it's 60% wool / 40% acrylic), yet it glides over the wooden hook easier than a 100% wool yarn might be expected to. The colour changes are really good, and I've only had one knot in the three balls I've used so far. I really like working with it.

I'm planning to wear the wrap to Unravel next weekend and will post the FO next Friday - I can't wait! 
Tuesday, 10 February 2015

On "freebies": Shaun the Sheep & The Art of Knitting

The Shaun The Sheep Movie has opened in time for half term (guess what we will be doing at the weekend?) and to  mark the occasion, Rowan Yarns and The Sunday Telegraph gave away 2 balls of yarn to every reader at the weekend (if you're in the UK and missed this, it's the kind of thing I post on my Facebook page, be sure to follow and subscribe to notifications).

In addition to free yarn, the pattern was published on the Rowan website as a free download. It uses just 25g each of Rowan Pure Wool DK in snow (012) and black (004) and 3.25mm needles. It would be pretty easy to substitute from stash, I'm sure.
Two at a time "Shaun the Sheep"
The pattern is straight forward and relatively quick - which is good as I have to make two of them. In response to cries of "whose are you making first?" I'm knitting two-at-a-time. Once these tails are finished, I have only eight legs, four ears and four eyes to go. Overall this was a great freebie!

I recently noticed lots of my friends had 'liked' The Art of Knitting page on Facebook. As I don't go to supermarkets or newsagents very often it had completely passed me by, so when the publisher contacted me, I said I'd be interested to take a look at the first couple of issues (disclaimer: a freebie - which hasn't influenced my opinion) to see what everyone was 'liking'.
The Art of Knitting, weekly part-work published by Hachette.
Since failing to complete the entire 'Joy of Knowledge' encyclopaedia set as a child (and realising how much pocket money I'd spent on my semi-and-therefore-useless collection) I haven't bought any part-works out of principle, yet it's clear they remain popular. Looking at the first couple of issues of The Art of Knitting, it's easy to imagine why people start collecting them.

The first issue includes free knitting needles and yarn (more on those in a moment) and the second includes more yarn and a huge free binder - empty, until you purchase more issues to fill it up. The aim is for you to subscribe so that week-by-week your pattern and stitch library will grow, you'll learn new techniques and make a patchwork blanket. The next few subscriber issues include lots more freebies - knitting goodies including a bag, bamboo needles, notions and more yarns. The yarns will eventually be enough to make that lap-blanket, as you practice your knitting.

So onto the free gifts. Sadly, if this is intended as a 'learn to knit' publication, this is where it falls down for me. Long poor-quality metal knitting needles and splitty squeeky acrylic yarn - urgh. I can hear the cries of "What do you expect? They are free!" Yes, but the average beginner won't want to buy more until they get enjoyment and success from their early attempts and as I've said before (under "get (a bit of) the right kit"), I really don't think that using these tools will get a very good result. Using poor tools makes learning a new craft a lot harder than it needs to be. Personally, I consider this a 'freebie fail', although I know my standards on this are high.

A whole page (21.5 x 28.5 cm) for the materials and abbreviations
21.5 x 28.5 cm pages, generous layout
Printed knitting patterns are typically written sparingly, and use minimal space. Not so in TAoK, which includes large fonts and generous page layouts with plenty of margin space (see left - an entire page for materials and abbreviations). As I attempt to use less paper and to declutter my home, this is another thumbs down from me - although I also prefer digital knitting patterns and learned to knit from YouTube, so I'm really not the ideal demographic.

There are some nice basic projects in the first two issues. They are the kind of thing you can find via Pinterest and knitting blogs, even if you're don't know about Ravelry. I would expect them to become more advanced and interesting as the series progresses. The projects are nicely photographed and wouldn't look out of place in the early issues of Mollie Makes. The technique instructions are also backed up by online videos on the YouTube channel and Facebook.

I don't know the total cost of the series. The regular price is £2.99 per week, plus if you subscribe there are additional automatic charges for binders and dividers to store them all in. If you like collecting this kind of part-work, then I guess it's up to you to decide whether that represents good value for what you're looking for. For everyone else, it might be one to look out for and pick up as and when there's a project that you particularly like.

Before I go, I have to say a massive THANK YOU for all the lovely comments on the release of my Sky Full of Stars pattern at the weekend. I think I've replied to everyone who emailed and left kind words, but just wanted to say that your encouragement is very much appreciated. I'll be back later in the week with a giveaway of my own, and will show you what my crochet hook has been busy with!
Saturday, 7 February 2015

Design Notebook: Sky Full of Stars - A multi-way Shrug, Wrap, Scarf, Cowl...

I am still adjusting to working on things in the 'wrong' season and then not showing anyone for months - for an impatient person this is probably a good life-lesson, but it doesn't come easily so I am really happy to finally share this design, which I started last Autumn. At that time, I'd been thinking about wraps and shawls and how I love wearing them in different ways. How they can be dressed-up and dressed-down, they really are very versatile. As you probably know by now, simple versatile knits are my favourite.

I wanted to write a pattern which could be as multi-purpose as the design - one which could be used to produce a light delicate garment suitable for a wedding, or made with chunky yarn to throw on over jeans. Long sleeves, or short, always giving the desired 'fit' across the back. I also wanted something with minimum purling (I know long purl rows put many people off), but with the simple beauty of stocking stitch... and then I started wondering about 'afterthought armholes'. 

This is what I came up with... 
New pattern for a very versatile shrug/wrap/cowl
The sample above is made with a sequinned DK yarn (King Cole Galaxy) and is delicate, romantic 'occasion wear'. It is easy to imagine it on a bride, bridesmaid or at a ball. Knit on 4mm needles with over 200 stitches per round, it involved around a 'sweater's worth' of knitting, as you would expect for a special item. 

On the other hand, the sample below was made with a chunky yarn (Sirdar Softspun Chunky - still with a bit of shimmer) and took just a few evenings as it's worked with less than 100 stitches per round - the sleeves are a bit longer and it isn't as wide. It works really well with a t-shirt and jeans (you can see pictures of a friend wearing it on my Ravelry project page).   
New pattern for a very versatile shrug/wrap/cowl
The project is knit in-the-round on circular needles and the lace patterns at the beginning and end are very simple to knit. There are only two rounds of purl in the whole garment, which will please those who are learning Continental Knitting but have yet to master the purl stitch!

The  5 page PDF pattern is  suitable for anyone who can knit in the round and make basic increases and decreases. It includes step-by-step instructions to reproduce both DK and chunky versions pictured, and instructions on how to customise the pattern for different sizes/ yarns. (Your back / shoulder-to-shoulder measurement is the important one, as that's the only place where the shrug needs to fit.) As usual, full instructions and links to tutorials are provided within the pattern which is also charted.

The pattern is exclusively available as a digital download from LoveKnitting, and you will also find the details listed on the Ravelry database if you wish to add it to your queue or favourites.

I'm better at coming up with designs than naming them, but if you're a Coldplay fan, you might have guessed where the name came from. I was obsessively listening to Ghost Stories while working on this pattern last year, and these lyrics seemed just perfect for a romantic sequinned shrug... 
'Cause you're a sky full of stars... you get lighter the more it gets dark, I'm going to give you my heart 

Friday, 6 February 2015

Confessions of a Dutchophile

***Warning: This post contains blatant stereotyping and enabling pics of yarn... and tulips***

There's no doubt about it - I am a Dutchophile. I suppose the writing has been on the wall for some time, but it wasn't until I was photographing my new Dutch yarn - which just happened to match my favourite flowers - that it struck me.
Scheepjes Vinci
It's not just the yarn and tulips. (Here's the stereotyping) I have far too many pairs of clogs, a growing number of Dutch friends - in real life and via some of my favourite blogs - and I'm planning a trip to the Netherlands later this year. I'd really like to go to  the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam and thanks to Instagram, I've also found a Dutch tattooist I'd love to visit.

Anyway, the point of this post - now somewhat de-railed by my realisation / confession - is that I have a new project on the go... and it's not knitted! Inspired by the lovely Dutch crocheters I follow, I've dusted off an 8mm hook for this beautiful yarn
Scheepjes Vinci

It's Scheepjes Vinci (60% wool / 40% acrylic) colourway 004, and is available in yarn stores throughout the Netherlands. Luckily it's also available via Deramores (who offer worldwide shipping) for £5.79 per 100g / 184m. I have six scrumptious balls and am making something I'm hoping to wear to Unravel... which I'm going to with my Dutch friend Wink.

As a relatively novice crocheter I'm using a very simple stitch pattern - next week, when I've done a bit more, I'll show you what it is going to be and how it's coming along! 
Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Handbag Knitting

There was a time when I'd NEVER be caught without knitting. I'd always have a small easy project in my bag, ready to whip out in a queue, when waiting for ballet to end, or even if there was a lull in conversation. It struck me recently that since I've been spending more time working on designs, and less on knitting other people's patterns, this hasn't been the case. In fact, I've done more reading than knitting at these times (I seem to be racing through books at the moment). 

So today, full of a head cold, and feeling too ill and sorry for myself to work on any of my 'proper' projects, I cast on. It's a simple stocking stitch beanie hat with earflaps - perfect handbag knitting. The pattern is Grantham by Kirsten Orme, and is free to download from Ravelry. I'm using a random ball of Red Heart Lacie which has been in my stash for ages - pretty colours but I had no idea what I'd do with it. Sadly it's too dark to take a WIP photo, but here's the yarn...
Red Heart Lacie

For those who have asked, I'm waiting for my new shrug pattern to be approved and uploaded to Love Knitting and will post about the design (with all the links) as soon as it's available to download - I have been touched by the lovely messages and comments I've had since I showed some sneaky peeks - thank you all so much. 
Monday, 2 February 2015

BLTN: Simple Crochet Bind Off (in pictures)

One of the projects I finished in December, and which you may have spotted on my facebook page over the weekend, was knit on metal needles (my favourite Chiaogoos), and with a lovely shiny and therefore slippery yarn (King Cole Galaxy DK). To best utilise the stitch pattern, I wanted to move up from 4mm to 6mm needles to get a lovely loose bind off, but with a lot of stitches on the needles I knew it would make for slippery work.

On a whim, I picked up a 6mm crochet hook - not something I'd normally think to do, but there happened to be one next to me. It worked an absolute treat - quick, easy, and no dropped stitches. I liked it so much I took some photos... but I didn't get around to showing you. So today's 'better late than never' is a Simple Crochet Bind Off... in pictures
Crochet Bind off
Before starting (not photographed): Insert the crochet hook into the first stitch to be bound off, wrap the yarn around hook and draw it through, pulling the stitch off the needle, so you have your first stitch on the crochet hook
Step 1: Insert the crochet hook into the next stitch, wrap the yarn around the hook
Step 2: Pull the yarn through the stitch (which is still on the knitting needle), so that you now have two stitches on the crochet hook
Step 3: Slide the stitch off the knitting needle
Step 4: Pull the second stitch through the first, so that only one remains and you have bound the first stitch off
Repeat steps 1 to 4 until all stitches are bound off. On the last stitch, break off the yarn leaving a tail, pull through the stitch to close, and use the tail to sew onto the first stitch and weave in ends.

You'll see more of the project very soon as it's a brand new pattern due for release this week - I absolutely LOVE it and hope you will too! 

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