Sunday, 29 April 2012

Crafting Balance 3KCBWDAY7

Today's topic is about the balance you strike between your yarn based crafts.

Well, mine is very much weighted towards crochet. I do an occasional bit of knitting. I'll often have a knitting project on the go that I pick up every now and again. This is true of the Simple Shawl

Simple Shawl
Perhaps the clue is in the title of that project, simple shawl. You see my knitting is very much at the beginner level. I can cast on, knit, purl, cast off. I have to use You Tube to remind myself how to do most other things. I struggle to get my tension right. In fact I cannot use straight needles, all my flat knitting is still done on circulars. I'm scared of double pointed needles. As much as I would love to BE a knitter, I'm just not.

My knitting is slow, no matter how much I try. I feel awkward when I knit. In comparison, crochet feels natural. I picked crochet up so much faster. I love how quickly things work up in crochet.

If I had all the time in the world I'd focus more on knitting, on improving my tension, on getting faster because there are some fantastic knitting patterns out there. The reality is that when it comes down to it I just can't make myself spend a week making a pair of bootees (yes, it did take me that long to knit bootees!) when I can make so much more if I crochet (a blanket tends to take me about 4 weeks).


Saturday, 28 April 2012

Improving Your Skillset 3KCBWDAY6

I feel very confident in my crochet skills. I suppose I must because I teach other people. I do have a confession to make though - I have NEVER used crochet cotton. I don't have the patience to use such tiny hooks and thin thread.

I can use magic ring and foundation single crochet and often do. I can use the American terms and the British terms in the same class, switching between the two depending on which the student prefers.

But then I think about my knitting skills and I wonder how accurate it is to list skills. I can knit flat and on circulars. I can magic loop. Yet I still can't pick up dropped stitches...if I drop a stitch I have to frog it :-o

So, I shall simply list the things I'd like to learn this year:
How to pick up dropped stitches when knitting!
How to take knitting back a row (this is so simple in crochet but terrifies me in knitting)
Something new - maybe Tunisian crochet


Friday, 27 April 2012

FO Friday: Harmony Shawl

Usually Orla will have a nap for a couple of hours in the early afternoon and I use that time to do some studying as I really need peace and quiet for the latest course. Yesterday though she didn't nap until I was collecting Erin from school. This meant I didn't have chance to study but it also meant I had time to do a "pick up, put down every 5 minutes when I'm needed, don't need to be counting stitches" project!

I had a bit of a browse of the patterns on Ravelry. I was looking for something that was quick to make, wasn't tricky (i.e. didn't need much concentration) and was interesting.

Firstly I stopped on the CloudBurst Shawl by Tuesday Fortnite but then I spotted the Harmony Shawl by Bodhi Sasa. This is a rework of the CloudBurst Shawl, giving it a centre spine and wings. It was the shape of the Harmony Shawl that really appealed to me.

I decided to use some Fyberspates Scrumptious DK, a gorgeous blend of merino and silk, dyed in Blue Lagoon colourway that I bought quite some time ago at Baa Ram Ewe. It's lovely to work with, though winding it into a ball was a pain in the neck. It seemed to keep slipping off and I lost count of the number of times I had to rewind bits.

The pattern itself is very quick to make - it suggests 3 hours max for Worsted weight yarn and an 8mm hook. I used DK yarn and a 6mm hook so I expect mine was a little slower. The only thing it needs now is blocking. If I had a complaint to make, it's that it was easier to follow the chart than the written instructions and I don't often say that! The written instruction refer to the ch-2 space and with the little one around I hadn't taken a huge amount of notice where the ch-2 and the ch-1 spaces were.

I couldn't bring myself to do the fringing, it's not really my style so I finished on a Row 5 repeat rather than a Row 6, did a row of single crochet and then a picot edging.

I would definitely recommend the pattern for last minute gifts.


Craft Your Perfect Day 3KCBWWC

Ok, so I'm really struggling with Day 5's topic of finding a new way of blogging. Perhaps it's because the techie person in me wants to do something very technically challenging and the creative side of me wants to do something that's simple but creatively impressive. So, I'm doing the Wildcard option instead today!

So, what does my perfect craft day involve?

Well first off I'd love to spend it at RiversMEET, where I go to a sewing group and where I teach workshops in crochet, felting and dyeing. Not only is it a great space for crafting but I just love drinking tea from a vintage china tea cup and the lemon drizzle cake is to die for!

The whole place is so inspiring, perhaps because I got to see it being taken from a pub to this:

Secondly, my day would have to involve lots of friends who craft. We would all sit around drinking tea & coffee and eating cake (lots of cake!).

Thirdly there's be lots of crafts to do. We could do some crochet and some knitting and some sewing and quilting. We'd all share our skills. we'd read some of the books & magazines Joanne has in her craft room.

Fourthly we'd craft until late! After all, the coffee and cake is bound to keep us going late into the night...


Thursday, 26 April 2012

For All Seasons? 3KCBWDAY4

Today's theme for Knitting and Crochet Blog Week is whether or not you are a seasonal knitter/crocheter. I have to admit, I'm not really sure.

I like to have a blanket on the go most (if not all) of the time.  This is my current work in progress, though I haven't picked it up in the last few weeks (naughty me!)

WIP: Vintage Vertical Stripe
Every year I say that I'm going to be organised and make winter stuff before winter hits but it rarely happens. I'm not sure if it's because of the weather or season though. I think it's just lack of time generally.

Often I find myself making something seasonal because I'm inspired by someone else's makes. Perhaps I read a blog and the writer has made a scarf and it gives me inspiration to make mine.

Winter In London scarf

Sometimes it could be that I love a pattern someone has come up with and shared at the appropriate seasonal time of year. Sometimes I have crazy ideas like needing to make loads of snowflake decorations for the tree because it needs them

At other times I find myself wondering why I'm making a blanket or quilt in the heat of summer (though in Britain that's a rare feeling).

I guess overall, I am a seasonal crafter...I'm just not convinced it's because I choose to be.


Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Crochet Hero 3KCBWDAY3

Well, what can I say. When I saw the topic for Day 3 of Knitting & Crochet Blog Week there was only one choice. I had to pick Lucy from the Attic24 Blog.

There are so many reasons why I've chosen Lucy and here are the main ones:

1. Her designs are stunning and yet so simple to make. I love that you can often start them and after the first couple of rows the pattern is so stuck in your head that you can just sit and crochet without needing bits of paper around you and it doesn't matter if your kids are asking a million questions because you're not losing your place each time you pause to answer them.

My Neat Ripple Blanket

2. The lovely bright colours she uses. They just make me smile! I love that places are now selling a "Lucy Pack" of the 17 shades of Stylecraft she used in her granny stripe blanket.

My Granny Stripe Blanket, made using a "Lucy Pack"
3. I wish I had her photography skills. It's a pleasure to read her blog just for the pictures!

4. She makes so much for her own home. This is something I didn't really do before I found the Attic24 blog. I would make things for my kids. I would make the odd thing for myself. I would perhaps make something for my house at the sewing group I go to, if we were all doing a project together. I made a quilt for the bed and planned to make some for the kids. But after finding her blog and making the granny stripe above, I just couldn't stop. I wanted that Homemade Home! I've made multiple blankets, cushion covers & jar cozys, not all from Lucy's patterns but inspired by the lovely photos she has of her home. It's like I no longer need to just make for other people.

Candle Jar Cozy
Owl Family

I think that seeing the photos of Lucy's beautiful home has made me realise that I can make things just because they're pretty, that I can dot things about the room to make it look nice, that the things I make don't have to just be practical. She's helped me turn my house into a home.


Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Photography Challenge Day 3KCBWDAY2

It's photography challenge day! Eek, this was the day I was most worried about. I always think my photos are lacking.

I was actually inspired to take this picture by the lego photo on the Eskimimi Makes blog. I think the reason I'm so inspired by that photo is because I didn't find my creative side until I had my first child.

Anyway, I wanted to feature my owls in the photo and, as I have a family of them, I thought about what we like doing as a family. Recently my kids have been sent a My Little Pony train set to product test and they've been playing with it loads. Then this thought popped into my head; my kids love going on the train...maybe the owl family would like it too.

I couldn't resist playing with my Instagram app too, so here is my photograph entry:

I also couldn't resist using my Neat Ripple blanket for the backdrop.

Just to add: If you like my photo please consider nominating it here.


Monday, 23 April 2012

Colour Lovers 3KCBWDAY1

It's Day 1 of Knitting & Crochet Blog Week and the theme today is "Colour Lovers". If you want to see what other bloggers have done for this theme then you can do a Google search for that code following my title! Being an Indie Dyer, I'm really excited by this topic and the possibilities for talking about it are endless. Perhaps that's why this is also one of the harder topics for me to blog about...because I can't just ramble on and on and on and...

So, I should probably start by explaining I am addicted to yarn and fabric. I often buy bits just because I like them. Other times I buy bits because they're on offer. Every now and again I buy for a specific project. Now I realise this is a bit of an odd way to shop because it means I have yarn in my basket that I might never actually use. There's also the leftover scraps that "might come in useful one day".

But there's one thing I have realised from looking at the yarn in my basket. I am drawn to blues and purples. It's true, those are my favourite yarn colours. There's also a distinct lack of yellow, my least favourite colour EVER.

Then I look at what I buy for specific projects and I see the lovely bright mixtures from the Stylecraft range, that I use because I was inspired to by Attic24's Lucy. The granny stripe blanket I made makes me smile every time I go to bed.

I also have no real preference between pale pastels, brights and deep, dark colours. I can appreciate them all. I can see how they bring a different look to a finished item and that they all have their merits.

Take my sofa as an example:

There's such a mixture of colours, from the dark green and red in the hexagon blanket to the muted pastels in the granny square cushion to the bright spots of the cushions. Yet they work well together.

I'm often amazed at how much you can mix colours together and get something that works. When I look at old quilts in exhibitions made from vast quantities of scrap fabrics that look so beautiful and yet so often I will buy a range of co-ordinating fabrics to make my quilts with.

Bargello Quilt Top made from Sophie by Chez Moi for Moda Jelly Roll

I think some of the most beautiful items I've seen are made with a single dull colour of yarn, like a grey or a brown. I often wonder why I rarely buy these colours; they are the ones I buy when I want to make something specific.

Then I wonder if plain yarns are like backing fabric for quilts? One of those things I can't get excited about until I see the finished top. Maybe I just can't get excited about a plain grey yarn until I see an amazing pattern.

I think that's why I love the Halloween quilt I made. I loved choosing a backing fabric because I didn't want a plain back. I wanted to indulge the Halloween theme. I wanted witches, ghosts and spookiness.

So, when I'm dyeing I don't want to churn old those plain old colours that are so widely commercially available. I don't want to put one colour in the dyepot. I want to be excited about what I might pull out. I want to pour random colours into a slow cooker and be amazed when I lift the lid. I want to put colours together that you just don't see in your local wool shop.

But I also bear in mind what the yarn might be used for. I do pull myself back from colour combinations at times. I think about who might buy the yarn, what they might make with it. Laceweight is a good example of this. Many people use it for shawls with gorgeous stitch patterns and having a yarn with subtle colour changes in it can have stunning results.

But I keep wondering why I don't apply the same thought when shopping for yarn. Why don't I consider what I'm using it for & how much I'll need? Because that's how I've ended up with a basket of yarn and no plans to use it!


Sunday, 22 April 2012

Knitting And Crochet Blog Week

I'm planning to take part in this blogging event, despite having toothache. Of course it's always possible the toothache will foil my plans!


Saturday, 21 April 2012

The Family Is Growing

No, I'm NOT pregnant!

The owl family has grown. I did a second owl while watching tv last night and then did a baby version.

These are really quick to make. For the baby version I did one less round of increases and a couple less rounds for the height.

The "mummy" one is done with the exact same pattern as the brown one but has turned out a little bit smaller. I expect there's a difference in the thicknesss of the yarn, even though they're both dk. I've noticed the Jarol Heritage DK blanket I made is thicker than the blankets made with Stylecraft Special DK.


Friday, 20 April 2012

FO Friday: A Very Quick Make!

Ok, so I hadn't even started this when I wrote the last post but after seeing Laymon's finished owl on her blog I decided to add the Ana Clerc pattern to my Ravelry queue. I decided to have a quick read of it and thought it would be quick....and it was! I've done the crochet version of it as dpn's scare me.

Here it is finished with some buttons from my button jar for eyes and a little bit of grey felt for the beak (I didn't have any yellow). The brown was some leftover yarn in my basket, so I think it's Jarol Heritage DK.

And a bit closer:


Friday Update

Well there's no proper finished object today. It's been a very busy week as I have an assignment due on Wednesday and am trying to cram in a lot of studying that I didn't manage to get done over the Easter holidays. When one part of my life is totally hectic I tend to try and do something very relaxing in my crafting, so I've only worked on my hexagons this week.

I'm enjoying doing these as they're relaxing and it's a much slower pace than when I'm whizzing things through my machine! I've got 68 hexagons so far. I'd like to get to 100 before starting to sew them together. I want enough done so that I don't change my mind and decide to stop at a flower on a cushion or something.

I also need to buy thread before I can sew them together. I was hoping to get some today when I was in the city centre but the market didn't have the colour I wanted and the other shop has such bad lighting I couldn't tell the true colour of the thread so I'll maybe try to nip out somewhere else at the weekend.

Since the weather was so bad earlier this week I didn't really get out but it meant I got to do some crafting with Orla. She loves painting so I opened up a magnet painting set I bought a while ago for the kids. It's basically 10 small tiles, a set of paints and then some self adhesive magnets to stick to the back of the tiles once your paint has dried. She took quite a liking to the black paint so I have seven "black blob" tiles with a few prettier ones!

I love this one:

See that paper behind? Well that's Erin's certificate. She got a Bronze Award at school.

I got to go in this morning and watch her get her award at an assembly.


Monday, 16 April 2012


In case anyone was wondering what has happened to Herman, I thought I'd do an update. We were away Easter weekend so we took Herman with us (he had to be stirred everyday) and I was meant to split it on the Monday then cook something with it on the Tuesday.

I tried my best to give the 4 extra portions to my family but none of them would take it. They seem to think spending 10 days looking after cake mixture is madness (well, ok, maybe they have a point there...I did take it on holiday with me after all).

With being away and not getting back until late I also wasn't able to give any away to anyone we know down here. So, thinks I, never mind....more cake for us. I had the best of intentions on Tuesday but discovered I had a teeny amount of self-raising flour left so couldn't make anything.Never mind, I've been baking this morning after stirring the mixture for a few extra days.

The second recipe I followed was for the Double Chocolate cake. I didn't have any chocolate chips or chopped nuts so I used chocolate buttons instead. I'm slightly worried that the cake is actually totally stuck to the tin despite much greasing beforehand.

The first recipe I made, which took longer to cook and so ended up being photographed second, is a Fruit Cake. I have to say, it certainly smells lovely.

Again I didn't have all the ingredients it suggested so I did my best with what I had. It has currants and dried cranberries in.

We'll see what they taste like this evening when my husband gets in from work, unless I get too tempted by the chocolate cake.