magazine

Bags…when is 1 more too many?

How do you feel about bags? I think I have a ‘love-guilt’ relationship with them. I love them. I am attracted to them. I am always in pursuit of the perfect one, which in itself is a ridiculous crusade. There are so many options, so many uses and the prevalence of choice is really a luxury. If I never bought, was given or made a new bag…I would still have more than I need. But oh… I love them…they can be like art, they are an expression of how we feel, they hold hidden treasure…rubbish and valuables in equal measure.

In many countries a large piece of cloth or a basket will suffice for many carrying needs. A good pocket will also make a small bag redundant. As people use their phones as their wallet, I see fewer and fewer bags being used. But the crafty still need their project bag.

For crochet I have range of bags. Some bought, some made, some gifted.

At home I have two baskets, one next to the sofa, another next to the armchair. They are both static but they seem to keep the current projects or yarn that I am noodling with in place. They usually keep spare needles, wire and stuffing also.

Full disclosure – this is not the location of the ‘STASH’ that is very much hidden away…lurking in wardrobes and under beds.

I then have a number of project bags. They are different sizes and have different fastenings, pocket and handles. Event though I have quite a range – the same few get used more often than not. Firstly the pretty drawstring bag in yellow. This is ideal for small projects; socks, toys and perhaps the sleeve of a garment. Being yellow it is easy to find and it is the most useful for throwing into a handbag for travel.

I have a lovely calico bag with a leather handle. This is a post crafters bag and it is almost like a statement piece – ‘if you know you know’. It has a flat bottom and a wide opening. This seems to me to be the very essence of use-ability. It does have a rivet in the inside pocket. I think the purpose is the thread yarn through… have you ever used this? It seems like a pfaff to me and will annoyingly snag your yarn. I have never used it. Please…if you have a better understanding of how to use a yarn rivet or hole in a craft bag…you just have to tell me.

Lots and lots of you who have a knitting and crochet habit will be shouting at this blog and say; ‘YOU ARE FORGETTING THE GAUZE BAG!’. You are correct of course. Since Covid, and due to our online yarn buying habit more and more of us use the gauze bags that our yarn is packaged in to keep our projects in order. I can’t deny they are a great storage solution. You can spot the yarn straight away and keep all you yarn neatly packaged. I always use mine for my toy stuffing!

But I have two current favourite project bags. One made and the other gifted. A lovely friend, Judy from the yarn group I visit in Skipton gave me this glorious bag just before Christmas. It is just about perfect. A flat bottom for stability, long useful handles and in the prettiest blue which means I am happy to have it sitting almost permanently in the living room.

My next favourite for large project is a version of the Granny Square basket I designed for Inside Crochet Magazine. The Dorothy basket is a classic idea and so simple to make – it is ideal as a weekend project. I have lined mine with some cardboard for a stable base and put a fabric inner within for durability. A few years on this bag is still going strong and there have been a few visits to the beach and to the park to challenge its durability.

Inside Crochet have just re-released this pattern in this month’s magazine. Do seek a copy out. It is a gem. But also please do tell me about your favourite project bag and why. I always like to know and you never know I might just add to my guilty collection.

A Little Women Inspiration

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‘Have you seen Little Women?’ said one of my best friends. ‘You just have to! I watched it and just kept thinking of you. If you want to go Emma, I’ll see it again?’

With such a ringing endorsement and an invitation for a jolly trip out, the arrangements were made immediately. I wonder if you have had a chance to see the new Little Women Film. I think both audiences and critics have absolutely loved it.

Like many generations I have always loved the book. This film is a joyful and clever adaptation of the book. A cinematic treat. But for the yarn obsessed there is an added bonus. Throughout the film I would nudge my film and say – ‘Oh, look at that shawl….’, ‘Look at that hat…’, ‘What a gorgeous waistcoat’. As a knitter it was impossible not to be inspired.

As I drove away from the cinema I said to my friend; ‘You wait, those patterns will be on Ravelry very soon’. I was not wrong.

That night, as I drifted off to sleep my mind was dreaming of new projects.

Within a week I had discovered that the glorious shawl designs worn by Jo and Beth were designed and made by Norfolk knitter Jenn Monahan She has made up to seven garments for the film. Hundreds of hours of work. Jenn has released the shawl patterns via her website; Fibreworkshop and on Ravelry and even for a basic knitter this is a useful and achievable project which would end up being an heirloom project. Over Christmas I have finished two small gauge garter stitch shawls, so I wasn’t so keen to commit to another.

I did however feel inspired by Jo’s Grey Tam o’shanter. Co-incidentally this month’s Knitter magazine (issue 145) has published a fairisle beret. It is designed by Outi Kater and is called Firefly Beret. I quite like wearing a beret during the winter working week. Just to spice up the wardrobe I thought it might be fun to see how it would be to make a traditional tam o’shanter. Traditionally this type of hat tends to use the tweedy pure Shetland wool. I decided as I was looking at an experiment I would use some 4ply Merino I already have in my stash. I tend to wear brighter hues rather than softer heathery tones, so the colour I have used align better with my wardrobe. All in all it took me about 5 evenings to knit.

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Whilst Jo Marsh wears a plain grey wool tam it does have a pom-pom. The fairisle tam in the Knitter magazine has no flamboyant topper. I wanted to add something in between the two. I remembered a design that Kate Davies had done for her Richard the Roundhead Tam. She created a lovely covered button and generously put a tutorial on her website. This lovely detail just adds something special to the hat. The covered button is not difficult to create either. I’m sure I will use this detail again soon.

Thinking about it, I find so much knitting inspiration from historical films or costume drama. If I watch, a Marple, a Poirot, Maigret, Gentleman Jack, Cranford, Call the Midwife… my husband will get a nudge in the ribs…’Look at the knitwear!’ Historical drama in its most authentic form, mirrors the fact that until only recently the majority of clothes were handmade. This means that costumes are a fertile resource for hand-knitters and crocheters. We have a cinematic menu to inspire our crafty finger.s

I wonder what you favourite programmes or films are for knitwear envy? Any suggestions are gratefully received.

I know there are awards for costume design at the Oscars and Bafta, could we have a subgroup for services to yarn?

Let’s get Snug – the Zesty Scarf

You have just got to find the joy of yarn in the Winter. Perhaps being a winter baby I don’t really mind the colder months. I’ll be honest I actually prefer wearing lots of layers and get a bit stressed by the idea of summer holiday clothes. My husband says I have a two degree tolerance level. Around the 18-20 degrees mark – not too hot, not too cold…is that called the Goldilocks effect?

Anyway if you are hating the dark days – one sure fire way to try and combat the evening blues is the plan and make a cosy scarf or hat. Full disclosure; I currently have in progress, 2 hats and one shawl on knitting needles…naughty…but nice.

I designed the Zesty Scarf for Inside Crochet Magazine back in the early Autumn. There are Granny Squares, pom-poms, tassels and lovely colour block colours in linen stitch.

Linen stitch is my current big favourite crochet stitch at the moment. It does a good job in replicating a knitted moss stitch. The texture and the drape is that perfect in-between softness. Not as stiff as a double crochet stitch and not too floppy for a triple. The design is not a total beginners project. You need to have the confidence to pick up stitches in a new direction. But I think you would find it fine as a transition from beginner to intermediate.

Using the aran weight Paintbox yarn makes is very fashionable and I would have play with the colours and see if you can match your winter coat and other accessories you are currently wearing.

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Here is my version that I made for myself in a DK yarn. I’m loving wearing it at the moment. Here is the Ravelry link: Zesty Scarf

I would love to hear what you are making at the moment or indeed the kind of accessories you crave in the Winter.

Blanket Love

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Good blankets need heft. Real weight. I’m talking about blankets which provide warmth in winter. These are not just for decoration. Draped like a mean ribbon at the end of the bed. Argh, who had time to arrange those?

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In recent years we have been using blankets more and more in our house and outdoor living. A few years ago we stayed in holiday cottage in North Norfolk. The cottage was stylish but most significantly there was thought in every aspect of the furnishing. The owners had a blanket on each chair and sofa. As we sat together in the evening, we all grabbed the nearest blanket and snuggled underneath. From then on I made sure that we always had snuggly blankets in the living room, even in summer.

I have observed that in many Italian and Spanish restaurants the waiters provide a blanket on your chair. Why not? In Britain we have a habit of declaring…’ooo its getting a bit parky, shall we go in?’. No! let’s get cosy and stay out in the evening air. If you come to our house on summer evenings – the basket of blankets will appear and you can delve in and take your pick. In fact some of my friends now know of its existence and demand that the basket makes it appearance. Our evenings by the fire are extended.

The most important blankets though are those that we use in winter on our beds. I have my favourites. The Vintage Chic blanket that I designed for Granny Squares Home is very large and pretty. The weight of it on top of the duvet seems to bring added comfort on cold winter nights.

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In recent weeks we have long stretches without any heating (….I know… not fun). We have never been more delighted to have a huge stock of blankets to pile on top of us. During the summer I made my recent design for Inside Crochet, Bloma Blanket. I do love the patchwork pattern and I knew that it would have great Scandi-chic look. It’s not hard to make – you just need to make plain granny squares and perfect your half and half square. The magic is all done in the arranging.

Now I’m going to be honest – I love beautiful fine yarn. I love the purest fleece. But there is a reason why Stylecraft Special DK is beloved by the crocheters…. the texture is soft, the wash is reliable and finally the price point is manageable. This beauty uses just 7 ball of 100g yarn which currently works out at under £14. Not bad.

What am I making now? Well I have just finished a few Christmas gifts and I have promised myself that I am going to finish my mitred square blanket over the holiday period. I don’t usually like to have projects that stay in the basket over many years, but this little beauty has taken a while. So I will commit to knit and finish.

If you are looking for a project for the colder months – go with a blanket. The most wonderful thing is that while it grows it warms the lap of the maker. What’s not to love?

Mid-week Sneaky Peek – Crochet Now Magazine – Meet the Blogstar

I just wanted to pop in and see you mid-week to say there is a brand new quick and easy pattern of mine in the new issue of Crochet Now Magazine. Every month they are sharing a brief interview and pattern from a Stylecraft Blogstar. I love being part of this happy group and I was delighted to make something with the lovely Batik yarn. This month there is a great free gift of a colour wheel, which I am really enjoying playing with. Anyway tell me what you think. Have a lovely rest of your week and don’t forget to leave a comment to say hello x

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Yarn Shop Day 2017

Hello Lovelies, I cannot believe that Yarn Shop Day has come around so quickly again. On Saturday 6th May I will be making my way over to Black Sheep Wools in Warrington to spend the day with my lovely friends at the Yarn Barn. In 2015 I was part of Yarn Shop Day with Black Sheep Wools and they won the British Knitting Awards for best event, that was how good it was. There is nothing more wonderful than supporting you local bricks and mortar yarn shop and this glorious day is supported by Let’s Knit and Let’s Get Crafting magazines

This year I will be showing you the gorgeous crocheted characters for Debbie Bliss and you can chat to me about my latest – Cute Crocheted Animals: 10 Well-Dressed Friends to Make
Come and take a peek at my designs and get some 1-2-1 advice on your crochet technique.  If you have already made one of my animal designs I would love to see them.

Workshops

I have two drop-in workshops planned

Amigurumi Crochet How to | 10am – 11.30am | 1.30pm – 3pm

I will be sharing my top tips on how to create cute features for the faces of your adorable animals. A slight slip of the stitch here or another stitch there can really change the face from being happy to angry. I will also be demonstrating working in the round and how to attach limbs.

Sarah Hatton will also be at the yarn barn. I love Sarah. He designs are so fresh and modern. She is truly a British Knitting celebrity and I always love to hook up with her when we are at the same knitting shows. You will recognise her name from being featured in many Rowan publications over the years and in her own books, most recently Modern Mini Knits. Garments from this book will be on display for you to discover Sarah’s designs. Sarah also teaches workshops too, having taught many here at the Craft Barn in Warrington.

Knitting Tips & Tricks | 10.30am – 11.30am | 1pm – 2pm
Sarah will be holding drop-in sessions where she will be showing knitting tips and tricks that will improve the overall finish of your knits, sharing her most favoured methods of sewing up and finishing. She will be happy to answer your knitting questions and help to advise on your next project too.

Knitting SOS with Sarah Hatton | 2pm – 3pm
Bring in your latest project for a quick once over. Sarah will be on hand to help with any knitting mishaps that you might have encountered recently.

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Added Bonus

Being a Stylecraft Blogstar I know that I will also have some goodies available from my friends at Stylecraft and you must also plan to take time to eat some fabulous cake when you are there.

Please do pop across to say hello and have a little yarn knatter.

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Prima Makes – Feature and Interview

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Interview and Pattern

Well this is all a bit exciting. The lovely people at Prima Makes Magazine have done a feature on Cute Crocheted Animals. The patterns for Stanley and Katy cat are featured in the magazine. There is also an interview with me. I love this magazine as it features all the crafts I like to have a little flutter with. It also features a good section of recipes which I think is an excellent edition. If you see a copy on the shelves have a little leaf through and get excited about all your Spring crafts.

Autumn Giveaway – Pumpkins and Foxes

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This last month has been wonderful and crazy.  To celebrate the publishing of the new book and welcome new followers by having an Autumn Giveaway,  I will be giving away some gorgeous orange toned Paintbox yarn which is available from LoveKnitting and LoveCrochet. Added to this pack will be giving the current issue of Simply Crochet and Crochet Now Magazine. Crochet Now magazine this month features my foxes pattern from the new book.

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Free Patterns

Available with the give-away will also be a printed patterns of my Autumn pumpkin pincushion and my Mr Fox Doorstop. I am so thrilled that so many of you have got excited about the characters in the new book so it is great to be able to share some of the love with you.

If you would like win this giveaway please leave a comment below, telling me your favourite thing about Autumn/Fall, (perhaps even subscribe to my newsletter- although that is not compulsory). I will draw a winner randomly on Monday 3rd Oct and 6am.

Thanks for being part of this journey with me. x

Thank you all for leaving your lovely Autumn Comments – the random generator chose ’14’ which is Ann – congratulations – your goodies will be in the post soon.

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Mid-week Sneaky Peek – Rowan Magazine 60

rowan, magazine, 60The arrival of new Rowan Yarns magazine is always a source of excitement for me. Especially the Autumn/Winter issue, it is like the September issue of Vogue arriving on the newstands.

With the resurgence of yarn craft and the increased availability of patterns through the internet it is easy to forget how important this yarn house is to World knitting and crochet. Many websites, designers and books have taken inspiration from Rowan’s style. I have always enjoyed the quality of the photography in the Rowan publications. You can see how much their style has influenced others.

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The History of Rowan

The Rowan Magazine is never just a collection of patterns, there are always excellent, insightful articles to read. As I have been a fan for over 15 years, I loved the article on the history of Rowan. There is also a great behind the scenes glimpse of the front-cover photo-shoot in Anglesey.

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Take it slow

This issue is particularly good, more of a coffee table delight for the eyes. If like me you can be a bit quick and distracted with your craft projects, the patterns in this issue will tempt you to invest in quality yarn and luxuriate in an heirloom project.

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My top picks

Top of my list has to be this gorgeous jumper by Sarah Hatton. I have met Sarah a number of times and she really is the most inspirational and generous designer. She has the ability to get the zeitgeist of fashion and turn the ‘now’ trends into wearable knitting patterns.

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Second on my list has got to be this brushed fleece poncho, Caliban by Lisa Richardson. A relatively quick knit, you know you would wear this all Autumn and Winter!

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A really clever addition to this issue is that stitch patterns and colourwork have been incorporated into more than one pattern. So if you are daunted by making the cable pattern of Barley in a jumper, you can instead practice your technique in a more manageable hat.

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Hooked up

Sometimes crocheters don’t realise that Rowan also publish patterns for their hooky craft. I already have far too many cowls than is healthy for a grown woman, but you know how much I really want to make Granola.

Get your own copy

It was the lovely people at Laughing Hens who sent me my copy of the Rowan Magazine and ever since I have had it on my bedside table. Shall I tell you a secret? I love many different yarn shops and online retailers, I spend quite a bit of money in them all. I always love the Laughing Hens website because they show the full range of patterns for a pattern book and have a useful option to buy the yarn for each projects. It is a thing of wonder and my top-tip of this week.

Giveaway

I have one copy of the Rowan Magazine issue 60 to giveaway and if you would like to have the chance to win it – please leave a comment below telling me your favourite thing to knit or crochet in the Autumn. I love to hear your views. I’ll pick the winner on Monday 19th September 16 at 6am. Don’t forget that if you don’t want to miss any giveaways – subscribe to the newsletter at the top of the blog. – Bon Chance!

Mid-week Sneaky Peek – Crochet Now Mandala Swap

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This week I wanted to give you a mid-week sneaky peek at a new crochet mandala design I have done for Crochet Now Magazine. Issue 5 has a fine little booklet of mandala designs from lots of different designers. My own contribution was intended to a pretty alternative, plain and simple but with a sweet zig-zag edging.

The magazine is wanting to encourage crocheters to talk about how craft and crochet has helped them with their own mental health. They are encouraging us to make a mandala and then swap it with another reader. In the package you can include a small note to talk about your crochet story. Details about how to get involved are on the Crochet Now website and it is well worth searching out the magazine to see the great patterns inside.

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