Thursday, 28 May 2015

Five Minute Finger-knitting Necklace Tutorial

I've been meaning to share this cute little project with you since I wrote the 'Knitting without Needles' post a while ago. As this is so quick and easy I've made several already and wear them a lot. They make a great stash-buster and if you use yarns left over from your wearable projects, you'll always have co-ordinating accessories (I do like some matchy-matchy). 
Five Minute Finger-knitting Necklace Tutorial at Crafts from the Cwtch blog
You will need:
- Your hands
- A sharp scissors
- Three or more strands of yarn depending on the thickness you require. I'm using Scheepjes Bloom which is a lightweight chunky cotton yarn. It is a hollow-knitted yarn (like an i-cord) which has an interesting texture while being comfortable next to the skin, and machine washable. For the tutorial I'm using three colours but you can use multiple strands of a single colour or any other combination you like.
Optional: beads at either end of the knitted section would be really nice.... but I don't have any.
Five Minute Finger-knitting Necklace tutorial on Crafts from the Cwtch blog

Five Minute Finger-knitting Necklace tutorial on Crafts from the Cwtch blog

Five Minute Finger-knitting Necklace tutorial on Crafts from the Cwtch blog

Five Minute Finger-knitting Necklace tutorial on Crafts from the Cwtch blog

Five Minute Finger-knitting Necklace tutorial on Crafts from the Cwtch blog

Five Minute Finger-knitting Necklace tutorial on Crafts from the Cwtch blog

Five Minute Finger-knitting Necklace tutorial on Crafts from the Cwtch blog

Five Minute Finger-knitting Necklace tutorial on Crafts from the Cwtch blog

Five Minute Finger-knitting Necklace tutorial on Crafts from the Cwtch blog

Finger-knitted necklace
When you've finished, you will find that giving the stitches a little wiggle will even them out. You could tie some decorative knots in the ends or customise with beads, or anything else you like. I didn't have time for that today as it's half term and photographing and publishing a "five minute" project, takes a whole lot longer than that so I'm just thankful I managed to get it done. (As you can see, I didn't manage to blow-dry my hair, put on lipstick, get a manicure, or arrange a nice back-drop for the photos - this is real life blogging!)
Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Out of Hibernation


There was once a pair of socks. They were coming along nicely. I loved the yarn, and the pattern was one I'd used before* and was very happy with. Then one day something happened. A mistake was spotted - just a silly mistake, but in a previous row, which would have involved ripping back or some dropping-stitches surgery and as they were being knit two-at-a-time on one circular needle, it seemed like a bit of an effort. I didn't get around to fixing it and so the socks went into hibernation.... for quite a long time.  
Hi-ber-nate1. To be in a dormant or torpid state during a cold period, especially during the winter.
2. To be in an inactive or dormant state or period. 
I've been in hibernation mode myself lately. There's been a lot going on in our family - health concerns, hospital visits, and so on, all alongside the chaos of day-to-day family life. In the animal kingdom, hibernation is a time of inactivity, of deep sleep and energy conservation. I've needed to take it easy, conserve energy and sleep more, instead of sitting up into the night crafting or writing blog posts. You may have noticed it's been a bit quiet around here. 

Then one day last week, I found those hibernating socks. I was heading for a day at the hospital (while a family member had surgery) and popped them in my bag. At that point I couldn't even remember what it was that had stopped their progress, so I knit on. Of course, a few more rounds in, I found the mistake,  but really it was so insignificant that it seemed impossible I'd let it worry me so much. 

That's often the way, isn't it? Little things can seem so much more important and stop us getting things done. It's good to put those projects (and worries) into hibernation for a while. To take time out and to come back to the 'problem' with fresh eyes. Often it's not really a problem at all. 
I'm happy to tell you that within a couple of hours, the socks were finished. They are not perfect, but I don't mind. They have inspired me to cast on some more. After the (unspoken) disaster that happened to Little Miss' socks after photographing them for the Demystifying Toe-Up Sock Tutorial series, I owe her a new pair. She's been patient, but it's been quite long enough. 

*The pattern is Hermione's Everyday Socks by Erica Lauder but modified to knit toe-up and two-at-a-time. The yarn is discontinued hand-dyed yarn from Nimu who are no longer trading. 
Monday, 25 May 2015

Get creative on Bank Holiday/ Memorial Day

As I'm busy with family things today, I'm just dropping in with an affiliate special offer for you - grab a one month free pass to Creativebug including one class to keep forever - there are some awesome classes and I think you'll love it as much as I do. Click on the image below and then use the code SUMMER2015.
Creativity is Contagious - 1 month free
Even better.... you can pass the offer onto your friends too, simply by clicking the banner (below).  Have fun and I'll be back soon. In the meantime, please leave a comment with your favourite class! (If you want to read more about Creativebug, see my review here.)
Creativity is Contagious - 1 month free
Monday, 18 May 2015

When Life Gets in the Way, Crochet

I had great plans for May but, as tends to happen every so often, life is conspiring against them - there are numerous distractions and inconveniences which were certainly not planned. At such times, I find it's important to prioritise and I've given myself permission to let certain things slide down "the list" - many of these things are related to the blog and to new designs I'd been planning. They can wait. I hope regular readers will forgive me for not keeping to my normal schedule, and for re-scheduling some planned posts I'd already mentioned.
#cftcmakealong - Transposition Shawl WIP using #Scheepjes Soft Fun Denim
I haven't done any knitting for a while, but thankfully waiting around in hospitals (for various things, for different people - because everything always happens at once!) is quite conducive to quiet crochet and I'm making good progress with my second Make-along shawl.

The pattern is Transposition by Joanne Scrace from The Shawl Project (reviewed here). I'm making it with a heavier yarn in three different colours of Scheepjes Soft Fun Denim DK (in Blush, Taupe and Brown). Unfortunately I ran out of the second colour before I'd finished the full number of repeats on the middle section, so it's going to have a further modification, but I think it'll work out fine.

This is the first time I've used this yarn (aside from swatching), and it's incredibly soft to handle, and will be lovely to wear. Unfortunately it is quite 'splitty' which might bother me if I were knitting with sharp needles, but I'm enjoying using it with a 5mm Clover Soft Touch hook - I can live with the 'splittiness' in exchange for the subtle semi-solid colours and soft texture, and being cotton/acrylic it's  easy-care.

I'll likely be waiting around again for much of Thursday, so there should be another finished project to show you before the end of the week. You can also follow along with this and the other participant's projects on social media using the tag #cftcmakealong.  I can't believe quite how relaxing crochet has become this month, although I'll probably always think of these 'make-along' projects as "the hospital shawls"....
Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Ta-dah: Northmoor Lock ( #cftcmakealong )

I haven't had time to soak and block it yet (the truth is might wear it before I do) but my Northmoor Lock shawl for the make-along is finished. The make-along is intended to challenge participants to expand their skills, and the crocheters amongst you may be wondering why I chose this when I've already posted numerous crochet projects, some which have used more complex stitches than this one.

The thing is, I have had a total mental block about written crochet patterns. Making the stitches is no problem, and reading/ following charts isn't an issue, but put a written pattern in front of me, and my brain goes into panic mode. As the lovely designer is far too professional to tell you, this was no different. I spent an evening in mild panic despite the clear instructions. So I am very happy to have finished it without any problems at all (once I got going).

It was quite bright when I took these photos, so the yarn looks a little washed out compared to the true colour, but I wanted you to see the pink/lilac and yellow flecks which are visible in the finished shawl.
#cftcmakealong Northmoor Lock shawl. Pattern by Joanne Scrace. Yarn died for the make-along by The Captain and Lovely
Finally some feedback for anyone considering this pattern and yarn.
  • After swatching I decided on a 5mm hook for this yarn, which works up more like a DK than a 4 ply/ fingering weight, but still had plenty of yarn in one skein, in fact there is a little bit left. 
  • This pattern can be worked any length and width - it's very easy to modify. I haven't checked against the original, but wanted mine to be quite long and thin. This was easily achieved, using the pattern as a recipe for the increases/decreases and the shapes along either edge. 
  • It worked up really quickly. I spent just a couple of hours on it when I first started and then just picked it up a few minutes at a time (after carrying it around in my handbag) - before I knew it, I was almost done. This would definitely make a great last-minute gift project and I can imagine whipping one up on Christmas Eve! 
  • It seemed much more portable than a knitted shawl as I wasn't worried about dropping stitches, and when I did make a few mistakes (my increasing was too fast at first) it was really easy to rip those rows out and do that bit again. 
  • Mine isn't perfect (some was done in the car on a journey and I wasn't concentrating enough), but I think it's a very forgiving design and once it's wrapped around my neck a few times, I doubt anyone would really notice the couple of 'quirks' that mark is as handmade. 
All things considered I am really very happy with it! A great first crochet shawl... and now I'm deciding which I should be my second - I'm planning to start tonight. If you would like to see the other FOs (and WIPs) so far, head on over to the Ravelry group

I am compiling the make-along giveaway details and will include them in my next post (I've been busy with a few deadlines, and have fallen behind with the blog) so keep an eye out for those - if you haven't joined in yet there is still plenty of time. You can find the details here
Monday, 11 May 2015

Book Review - Mollie Makes: Making It!

It's been a crazy week and as I'm saving the progress on my Make-along Shawl for tomorrow's post I'll take the opportunity to share a book I've recently read. I was provided with a review copy of the book by the publisher but as always, all views are entirely my own. 

Mollie Makes: Making It!: The hard facts you need to start your own business* is a 160 page book which packs in a whole lot of practical information and advice from experts, as well as inspirational tips and exercises. 

From the (wordy) title I was imagining lots of hard facts and stats but it's actually a little gem filled with useful information, presented in a clear and concise way. Chapters cover every step you need to get your craft business started, from the basics (market research, writing a business plan, pricing, and branding) through to things you may not have considered yet, such as protecting your intellectual property or how to write a press release. 

Whether you plan to work from home as a sole trader, or you'd like to run a chain of staffed shops, there is plenty of guidance on the things to consider, with links to further reading and resources, relevant government agencies and bodies. In addition to imparting a great deal of practical wisdom, there are useful 'Try for Yourself' exercises, as well as Q&A style case studies from well known craft brands (including Jane Foster and Gilliangladrag). 

The book is very much tailored to 'makers' and includes specific detailed content such as what to ask a craft fair organiser before booking a stand, and how to get great product photos for your website. There really is a lot packed in, and if you put some time into the exercises you could get a whole lot more from it too. If you are thinking of turning your craft hobby into a business, or if you have recently done so and are not sure what to do next, this is definitely worth the cover price. If you have some business background, the book will serve as a good reminder and checklist, and if you are a crafter with no previous business experience, it is an essential book you'll want to come back to again and again.

Making It! is available now from all good book shops including Amazon UK* and Amazon.com

*Affiliate links. 
Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Hooked!

On Saturday we celebrated Little Miss' sixth birthday with an awesome dance party hosted by her ballet / street dance teacher. I really wish I'd asked some of the parents if I could post photos here, as the funny costumes the kids wore for their 'performance' of Uptown Funk were so great!
Untitled
Amidst all the preparations and excitement, I didn't get any dedicated craft time, however my crochet shawl for the Make-along is coming along very quickly (despite a few rows needing to be re-done when I started decreasing too fast). It's a very relaxing pattern although it took a while to get my head around a written crochet pattern, which is literally like a foreign language to me - I find charts much easier.

I'm loving that this is such an easily portable project so it's already half finished despite only really being picked up now and again. If you haven't joined in, and are worried about not having much time, I'd definitely recommend this one. I'm already planning more crochet when this is done.
#cftcmakealong

It's a long time since my last "WIPs and Books" post and it struck me that I've read over 20 novels since then - yes, my Kindle Voyage certainly earns its keep. After finishing a couple of books at the weekend ('The Crane Wife' by Patrick Ness, which I absolutely loved, and a book club choice 'At the Going Down of the Sun' by Elizabeth Darrell, which was readable, but I didn't love it) I've just started reading 'The Martian' by Andrew Weir. D (my husband) loved it and doesn't often recommend books (he is currently enjoying 'The Wool Trilogy' which I shared to his kindle via my Family Library - did you know you can do that? Check the link - it's great.) So far I am totally hooked on that too.
*All links in this post are to products I have paid for myself (or my husband has!) and would recommend. CftC is part of the Amazon Affiliate programme, purchasing from an Amazon link on this blog may result in an infinitesimally small amount of commission... at some point... eventually... maybe...  
Friday, 1 May 2015

And we're off! Grab a banner for the #CFTCMakealong

It's May 1st and day one of the Make-along!!! (if you're not sure what it is, click here to see previous posts.) I'm happy to have so many lovely people already participating via the Ravelry group and social media, including some great bloggers. While I figure out how to share a 'badge' code, here are a few different images which you can save to your device to add to your blog or social media accounts if you wish to. (Right click and "save image as..."). I've included large images so you can resize.  
#cftcmakealong
Untitled
#cftcmakealong
#cftcmakealong

We have a birthday party this weekend so it's getting a bit manic around here but I'll be starting Northmoor Lock later this afternoon. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing what you're all casting on, feel free to tag me - I'm usually @craftsfromthecwtch - and please tag your posts and projects with #cftcmakealong so we can all find them easily.
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DISCLAIMER: 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.

Hello and welcome. If it's your first visit 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 you may also like the CftC pages on Ravelry, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Etsy. I hope you enjoy your visit! Sarah
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