Friday, 29 May 2015

My first pair of hand-knitted socks :0)

I have knitted my first pair of socks!!

Knitting socks, in the round, with DPN's always seemed such a mystery to me (I can include mitts in this as well) but I have always so wanted to make some and there is loads of gorgeous sock yarn and sock patterns available that are so appealing. 
Over time I have collected together sock related bits and pieces - the blockers, the needles, some cute stitch markers and of course plenty of seriously wonderful yarn (including some hand dyed) In fact I ordered a kit to make some dk socks at least a year ago but up until now I haven't felt brave enough to give them a go.

Seeing my ever-growing stash of sock paraphernalia made me decide to cast on, it would be a waste not to. I used Louise Tilbrook's Socks for beginners pattern and some Wendy Roam Fusion yarn (colour Heath) and found some courage to get started. And all went well! There were a few ripping back moments but I got into the swing of it and enjoyed making them immensely. 

They are a bit loose, although not so that I can't wear them and I absolutely love wearing them so much! They are softer than they look and I'm surprised at the fact that I'm not bothered about them not matching! I did attempt to match them up, the cuffs start the same but then the colours in the yarn do their own thing so I went with it and am delighted with the outcome.
(Really you would not believe how happy I am with my achievement)

So now on to my next pair. I'm thinking about tension, changing needle size maybe? Or maybe my natural tension will tighten up? I'll see...

I have got the sock-making bug good and proper!

'till next time...

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Making Gifts

 Hello lovelies! This past week has been a week of two halves, starting off with some niggly negatives such as me having toothache and a stiff neck, the TV giving up the ghost and weather that could not make up it's mind! One minute bright sunshine, the next lots and lots of rain, followed by a short sunny interval and then a hail storm! Even by British weather standards it has been bizarre!
This is a faux granny square table cloth from Aldi that I made into a cover for my little one's sand tray.

So this meant lots of indoor play with our friends Ariel and Belle...

I need to cake that lilac yarn before it forms a tangled mess!

And I've been sorting out my patterns and craft magazines. I'm happier with a bit of order, or attempted order at least!
I really treasure my library of craft magazines, I subscribe to a couple and like to spend a happy hour or so every now and then going through older copies. I always seem to see something I hadn't noticed before and value the many patterns I have at hand. Storage is an issue though but I like the actual book rather than an online version so I'll have to figure out another place to keep them as my bookshelf is full!

Thank you to all who have bought my betsy shrug pattern, I am so appreciative of that, thank you so much.
I got myself a bit upset when I realised there was a mistake in my pattern. I'm so glad I noticed it quickly and was able to rectify and send out updates to everyone.
It's so important to me to do a good job when creating and writing patterns that I was so bothered to find the error, however I have been reassured by those in the know that it happens all the time!
I'm still in the process of making my second shrug and I am really pleased with how it's coming up, being quite different to the first pink one. I'm looking forward to sharing that with you soon.


Anyway, to the business of the post!  
I wanted to share with you some of the things I've made over the last few months that, because they were presents, I wasn't able to show you at the time.

This bee cushion is something I made for my brother and his lovely wife. My sister-in-law and I share a dream of keeping bees. I'm not sure how serious I am about it, I think I have a rose-tinted view on the pastime.  We both like bee related things so I made this cushion as a gift when we visited recently. The pattern is from the book 'Quilty Fun' by Lori Holt. This book is brilliant and has so many sweet colourful projects it's hard to choose what to do first!

These crocheted coasters were part of a housewarming gift for my husband's aunt and uncle. I'm afraid I can't remember where I found this pattern, which is such a fab little thing. But if you're interested try searching 'vintage flower motif' on the internet and see what comes up.

A pretty doily for a birthday present for my Mother-in-law. I've made this pattern before in crochet cotton and I love it so much! The pattern is an Emma Lamb design from the Mollie Makes Crochet book. This time I used Patons 100% cotton yarn, with a 3.5mm hook (I think) and the doily has come out bigger, which is really lovely.

And finally this shawlet I made for Saffron's birthday present. I am so delighted with this, and can't wait to make one for myself! The pattern is Spun Gold by Kat Goldin and I used 2 strands held together of Rowan fine lace in shade 00928 to make it in.
I can't deny that I wasn't sure about this whilst I was working on it. Firstly the edges and the end point rolled up like mad and it was difficult to control the long quintuple treble crochet stitches so they were a bit loopy at the top of the stitch. However, once blocked it transformed into a gorgeous, soft, drapey beautiful creation that I was happy to gift to my friend. All down to the lovely yarn and brilliant pattern I might add!

By Thursday my week had turned around, it was a lovely sunny day that was spent in the pleasant company of this lovely lady, with lots of crochet, yarny and knitting talk enhanced with edible delights in Fancy. Couldn't be better...

I hope you're week has more ups than downs, but remember we do have to tolerate the lows to really appreciate the highs

                                            'till next time...

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Betsy Shrug

I have been enjoying pattern making again, loving the design process and going from (very) rough sketch to actual finished piece.

I wanted to make this shrug, a step closer to a garment rather than an accessory. A loose fitting garment, but still almost a cardigan! And the pattern contains instructions for 3 sizes - S, M and L, I really have been on a learning curve with this one!

What I love most about it is it's easiness - both to make and wear. It's worked from the cuffs to the centre back (in the round) and then joined with a kiss like stitch pattern down the back that solved my problem of how to join the 2 pieces and also I think looks really cute. I made this one in Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino yarn (shade 600) which is just sublime! Have you ever crocheted in this yarn? Do you what I mean when I say it makes a 'shushing' sound while your hooking? Just love that!
This shrug could be made in pretty much any dk yarn I think. I have just started another in Stylecraft Alpaca Tweed in the sage colour, I'm hoping it will be just as lovely in a more rustic way, but I've only done a few rows so we will have to see.

When I asked my daughter to model for me I told her what to wear with it. I was thinking a easy, casual look, my style really. But she said she thought it would also work well as a day-to-evening garment, perhaps over a little black dress. So I started to think about sparkly yarns, silk and alpaca perhaps - how lovely?
 She's a clever girl - love her to bits :o)

So this pattern is available at where I usually upload to. They are having a 'May is Indie Designer Month' offer. If you buy a indie pattern you get a voucher code for 10% off yarn in the same transaction, can't beat a discount code can you?

LoveKnitting Independent Designers

But also I have started putting my patterns onto Ravelry. I have been a Ravelry member for ages but have only just got round to listing my patterns for sale on there. Not sure why it's taken me this long, but I'm there too now:


That's a funny little button isn't it? I do hope all these buttons and links work - I'm copying and pasting HTML codes all over the place!

Anyway, if you do have a go at making the betsy shrug I hope you enjoy it and are happy with your finished thing. I would love to see it so you can always email me a photo if you like to (use this email if you need any help with the pattern too) or you can hashtag it on instagram - #betsyshrug and I can search that and see what you've been up to.

Have a lovely day whatever you are doing,

'till next time...

Friday, 8 May 2015

Project Bag Obsession

This past week or so I've been sewing project bags, I've made a few and it seems to have become a bit of an obsession! It started with this patchwork mini tote, the pattern is from Patchwork & Quilting issue 17. They made it as a lunch bag, but I thought it would be a cute project bag.

I used the last bit of lining fabric for an inside pocket, using the selvedge edge as a feature. The scraps I used for the patchwork are some that are in the sewing machine dress I made a while ago. It's such a nice neat shape and is the right size for a small crochet project.

And then came these ones.
 I'm enjoying watching various knitting podcasts at the moment and everyone seems to have lovely fabric project bags for their sock or shawl project. They seemed easy enough to make, and I spent a pleasant walk home from work one day daydreaming about how I could 'do the zip'

As soon as I got home I had to have a go at making one, to see if my zip idea would work out.

The hook keyring was a free gift in another magazine. I don't remember which one, it was a knitting one anyway.

So this is the first bag. I think I was concentrating on the zip part so much I didn't pay attention to the gusset at the bottom and got my dimensions a bit strange.

It would look more in proportion if the zip went this way!
However, it's still does the job and is nice and roomy so I am making use of it.

Number 3 is made with this wonderful coloured poppy print fabric - I love it! This print was always catching my eye when I delved into my fabric stash looking for stuff so I wanted to use it for a bag as I know it will make me happy whenever I see it sitting on the side.

This next one is my least favourite. I love the grey print but I'm not happy teaming it with the pink gingham. Having said that I don't mind it too much and this one is a nice big size so is useful for a slightly bigger project.

And it has something very yummy inside !!!!

These green, white and black ones are my favourites so far. By this time I've got my measurements right and making method down to a T, so they were a very satisfying, quick make. And useful too.

I haven't gone into production or anything. I will make use of a few of these and give some away as presents. But they are such a fun project in themselves and have satisfied my sewing urge this week :O)

'till next time...

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Yarn Shop Day 2015

Hi everyone, thank you so much for all the fantastic comments you left about my gypsy blanket, it's so wonderful to read through all your kind and encouraging words - I can't tell you how happy it makes me. It also got a lot of love on Instagram too, so I'm feeling very chipper indeed - thank you all so much :o)

A while ago, I was chatting with my lovely crochet group about doing a yarn shop crawl in our local area, and because yesterday was 'Yarn Shop Day' it seemed a perfect opportunity to organise the little jolly.

We have a fair few choices in Bedford and the surrounding area of places to buy yarn - and for some strange reason I seem to know about all of them, and have visited all of them... So it was a pleasure to be able to take a small group of my yarny friends out for a yarny trip.

Our first stop was Manfield Crafts in Rushden. This is just over the border into Northamptonshire, but only really about 12 miles from the centre of Bedford. My sister introduced me to this lovely shop as she is local and when she said she knew of a shop I would like to visit, she was spot on!

Full of gorgeous, quality yarns and accessories it is such a delight to mooch around. Emma kindly laid on tea, coffee and biscuits for us and also had some super needles and hooks and yarn out for us to try. I had a go with some Knit-pro Karbonz knitting needles which were sublime to use and are now on my birthday list, and we all showed how we knitted in different ways. For me knitting in front of other knitters is very nerve-wracking as I think I might hold the needles and yarn in a funny way, but Emma made me feel better by saying there was no right or wrong way to do it.

There are lots of fantastic kits for sale and there is always lots of workshops and knitty meet ups going on. It obviously is a lovely community because on display was yards and yards of beautiful knitted and crocheted bunting that was made for Emma's birthday by her knitting group. Such a wonderful display of affection by her friends - and I didn't think to take a photo of it :0I

We then headed over to Wilstead, which is a village south of the town centre, to All Stitches where Helen was there to greet us (well, we found her in her Stylecraft Special corner tidying up as 2 customers had been in and brought 27 balls between them!)
Once again this shop is full of yarny and fabric delights, and has lots to offer. Helen has many samples around to show how certain yarns make up, which is particularly good for variegated and colour changing yarn I think.

She also has some wool from local sheep which I thought was fantastic, and wished I had bought, but I was too tempted by the 'all yarn in the baskets on the floor are £2 a ball' section. Helen's own spinning wheel was on display too, so I was very happy to chat with her about spinning and how she finds it therapeutic.

Visiting these local independant stores is great because both Emma and Helen are happy to give out advice and help, offer free patterns for particular yarns you might be interested in and generally share their wealth of yarny knowledge and experience. Thank you to both for such a lovely morning :o)

And then back to Bedford, to Fancy coffee shop that is owned by my friend Saffron and where I hold my crochet workshops. We had a delicious lunch (I had humous, rocket and avocado on flat bread - yum) (followed by some Guinness chocolate cake, yum yum) and we chatted about our new stash of yarns and what we were going to do with them. Ravelry was consulted, and I think we were all eager to get started - with 3 of us having the same sock yarn in different colour ways, Emma had shown us the pair she was in the process of knitting and we were sold!

Thank you to Penny, Sylvia and Gemma for joining me and for making this a wonderful, happy and positive day. Sylvia has posted about the day on her blog too - read all about it here. I had such a super time, and yes I did spend a bit of cash but having had a fun day, having got the lovely yarn and knowing I will enjoy the making process, I think my money was very well spent :o)

Here's what I treated myself to:

'till next time...