Monday, 26 November 2012

knitting stitch markers and a cyber monday special ::

Good morning, I just wanted to show off some new stitch markers I added to my shop over the weekend.   I've been meaning to make these for such a long time, I've been using my own personal set of ninja stitch markers for well over a year now.  I finally added them to the shop a couple of weeks ago and they've proven very popular, so I thought I'd make up some different variations.

 You can now get yourself a set of ninjas in any colour you like!  The options are on the listing page, if you can't see the colour you want, shoot me a message, I'm sure it's possible, as are any mixed combinations of colours.  Such as the rainbow set I have available.

If you've got a sweet tooth, I now also have loveheart and jelly baby markers available too!

You can choose any 6 slogans from my long list for the lovehearts.

Great gift ideas for knitting friends or family, or more importantly yourself ;)

Plus until midnight tonight I have 30% off with the coupon code BLACKFRI12

Happy 'Cyber' Monday.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

how to steek in crochet work ::

Recently I was designing a sweater that was going to be crocheted in the round, but required a opening.  I thought long and hard about how to achieve this without working the rows of the part of the opening as rows, rather than rounds.  I didn't want a noticeable difference in stitch patterns which would occur from working part of the sweater in rows and part in rounds.  I did think about working the sweater in rounds but joining and working back and forth on each round, but I really prefer the way double crochet looks in the round vs rows.  So I did a bit of research on steeking.  I've heard this term a lot in knitting and though I've never tried it, I'm keen to give it a go some day, for the pure thrill of cutting through my knitting! Yes I know it will be terrifying, but terribly gratifying if all goes to plan.  There's a wiki entry on it here and Kate Davies has a great series on steeking on her blog starting here.

In all my research I couldn't see anywhere any reference to steeking crochet work itself, though it sometimes plays a part in knitted steeking.  I'm sure I'm not the first person to want to do this in crochet and I'm sure I won't be the last.  So after a bit of playing around, and a few disastrous attempts, I came up with a technique that worked.  I have no doubt that others have used steeked crochet work before and I'm sure there are other ways of doing this, some possibly more successful than my own, and I would love to hear of any you've come across.  But for now this is what I did, I've set up the tutorial in a PDF to download if fancy having a go.  Have a test run first, the most important thing about doing it this way is to make sure you only work through the front loop of the stitches either side of the steek section, as this is what will ensure your end will catch when it is cut.

I've written the tutorial in double crochet (single crochet if you're using US terms) but it will work in half treble and treble too.  I've written it so that the opening is at the beginning of you your work, but you can just easily add it in half way through, close it up again (perfect for thumbholes) or leave it open to create an opening at the end of your work.

I hope to work on a pattern using this technique to self publish in next week or so.  Enjoy and if you have any questions feel free to shoot me an email, or you can find me on ravelry, facebook or twitter.

download now

Monday, 12 November 2012

Crochet Today Jan/Feb 2013 ::

The new issue of Crochet Today comes out tomorrow, across the atlantic anyways, I'm not sure when it will arrive in UK shops, but I expect it will be downloadable from tomorrow.

It's the Jan/Feb 2013 issue and I have 2 patterns within it's pages.  This is the first time my patterns have been published in a US magazine, but it won't the last ;)

Both my patterns are colourwork sweaters for women, worked in the round bottom up.  As seems to be my current favourite way of doing things.
The Minnie Sweater is possibly my favourite of all the sweaters I've designed so far.

The Express Yourself Sweater is a sweet short sleeve sweater with a heart motif worked into the yoke.

There are some really cute patterns in this issue on a music theme.  I'll post some of my favourites later in the week.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

WIP Wednesday :: Woolly Wormhead's Mystery KAL ::

Last week saw the start of Woolly Wormhead's mystery knit along.

I've never taken part in a KAL before, let alone a mystery KAL and although I've admired them from afar, I've also never knitted a Woolly Wormhead hat.  On top of all these other firsts, this will also be the first hat I've knit for myself.  I've knitted plenty of hats, for babes and toddlers and grown ups alike, but never one for me.  Which makes this project all the more exciting.

Of course I could have knitted from my stash, I almost certainly should have done, but well, I didn't want to, nothing was catching my eye, so I headed to my local yarn store for some inspiration.  I came home with this delicious alpaca yarn, in a heathery purple.

In case you're taking part, or thinking of doing so, pictures of my progress so far are below the break.

If you want to take part the pattern is available here.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Festive Crochet Decorations ::

It's all been getting a bit festive over here at the moment, I appreciate it's still a little early, and I apologise to anyone who prefers to keep Christmas firmly in December, but you know, us crafters and retailers, we need to get a head start on these things.

First up in my Christmas crafting are these crochet decorations, inspired by the kind of festive colour work found on Norwegian Christmas Jumpers. Though in all honesty the inspiration orginally struck from this manicure discovered via pinterest.

Fairly quick and easy to make up these will make a lovely addition to your Christmas tree or fabulous gifts for friends and family.  These are a brilliant way to practice your crochet colourwork, or even have a first attempt at it, as there are only 2 colours and short rows, you're less likely to get yourself in a tangled mess.
Each decoration is made up of two circles and crocheted together, before stuffing, add cloves or a few drops of festive scent to your stuffing, to make them extra Christmassy!
These are a great stash buster, using small amounts of any double knit weight yarn. In fact any yarn weight would work, just adjust your hook size accordingly and note the size of your decoration will of course reflect the yarn weight used. I suggest using a hook size 1 or 2 sizes smaller than your yarn ball recommends, to achieve a tight fabric.

This pattern includes instructions on making the decorations and 8 colour charts, it's availble in all the usual places, ravelry, etsy and craftsy.
This pattern is available in both UK and US terms, if you purchase from Ravelry you'll get 2 PDF's to download, just choose your preferred terminology, if you purchase from etsy, just let me know in notes to seller your preference and I'll email it over for you, unfortunately on craftsy there isn't the option to upload 2 PDF's, so it is available in UK terms only there, but just email me if you have any problems or questions.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Inside Crochet 35 ::

Inside Crochet 35, was released a couple of weeks ago now, but I'm a bit slow on the blogging front at the moment, so apologies for that.

However it's a great issue, there are 3 cardigans alone I want to knit for myself, plus Amy Depew's amazing tunisian crochet sweater.

I've never really progressed from swatching with tunisian crochet, so it's certainly something I'd like to have a go at.

I'm also pretty keen on this gorgeous skirt by Christine Harvey.

Each month I find myself more and more impressed with this magazine, I'm so grateful it was saved and pleased to see it go from strength to strength.

Photography by Britt Spring.
Styling by, the magazine editor, Claire Montgomery.

Friday, 2 November 2012

'Crochet Today' Jan/Feb 13 preview video ::

I stumbled across this, this morning.  Love the idea of a preview video!

I have 2 patterns in this issue, it's my first American publication.
Can you guess which are mine?

Happy Friday.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Inside Crochet 34 ::

The new issue of Inside Crochet is out (it really doesn't seem that long ago I was just saying that, this year really is zooming by!) and I have 2 patterns in this months copy.

The Harry Shawl Neck Sweater, which is my first men's design (but by no means my last).  There seems to a bit of a gap for men's wear in knitting and especially crochet patterns, in the past whenever I've wanted to make something for my other half I've really struggled to find anything inspiring, so hopefully I can change that a little.

And my second pattern, the Sweetheart Sweater.  In all honesty I think this may be my favourite of all the garments I have designed, it's made up in a lovely soft cotton (Debbie Bliss' Bella), which is perfect for wearing next to your skin, but this piece would also be a great addition to a layered outfit as the cooler weather sets in.

As usual the photography (by Britt Spring) is beautiful and the magazine has some great articles this month plus lots and lots of gorgeous patterns.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Finding Inspiration :: Dream Craft Room ::

As Christmas (yeah I said it!) approaches, I'm already feeling utterly daunted by the amount of work I'm going to be drowning under.  Every year I say I will be more prepared, every year I fail!  Now I am by no means ready this year, in fact I'm probably the least ready I have been, so to try and combat this, I plan to completely reinvent my very neglected basement.  Almost 2 years ago now I officially moved in there as a work room, but it's never really been a very well executed functioning room.  Ideally I need tons of storage and lots of organisation, both of which are sorely lacking.  I also think realistically I need a little craft space for the little one, so we can 'work' together.

So in the next few weeks I really hope to give it a grand overhaul, but in the meantime, here are a few work/craft rooms I've been lusting over on pinterest.

Monday, 17 September 2012

finding inspiration :: London Fashion Week (so far) ::

I have too much work on at the moment to be working on any new designs just yet, so I've been using pinterest to keep track of some of favourites from fashion week, ready for when I get some time.
But I'm already feeling very inspired and dreaming up lots of new crochet garments.

Here are a few of my favourites so far ::

Margaret Howell ::

Clements Ribeiro ::

Issa London ::

Moschino ::

Sister by Sibling ::

You can see more of my favourites on my pinterest page here.

Happy Monday.

Friday, 14 September 2012

facebook ::

A very happy Friday to you.

I just wanted to say that I now have a facebook page for my crochet/knitting patterns.

You can find it over here, you know if you fancy giving me a like ;).

Thursday, 13 September 2012

boot fairs, trains and vintage knitting needles ::

Last weekend, Bex and I planned to go to Oxford, I was going to give her the grand tour, we were going to go out drinking, do lots of sightseeing and generally have an awesome time, but then life got in the way as it tends to do.  Bex had to have a tooth out (ouch!) and we both had mamouth amounts of work to do and little money to spend, so reluctantly we did the grown up thing and decided to postpone our eagerly anticipated trip to another time.


However we couldn’t see the whole weekend go by without a little bit of fun.  So on Sunday morning we headed up to Cheltenham Racecourse to have a hunt about the car boot fair.

It was a lovely day, perfect car boot weather in fact.  As is usually the case I think Milo came home with the most/best loot, some lego, a steam train book and a WallE lunch bag.  I didn’t find much but I did spot a very lovely fairly old looking case, which when opened revealed a wonderful collection of teeny tiny steel knitting needles and some embroidery floss.  The whole collection is in quite a sorry state, the needles are rusty the case is very battered and falling apart in places, but I love it none the less and for the princely sum of £4, I think it was a steal.


After our bargain hunting we took stroll up the old station and took a short ride on the steam train there up to Winchcombe, where we ate our picnic before heading back again.


The train was great, we even had a lovely little carriage all to ourselves.



It may not have been the weekend Bex and I were planning, but it was lots of fun regardless.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

tattooing ::

As part of, what I'm calling an early midlife crisis, in the wake of turning 30, a couple of weeks ago I found myself shaking with fear, perched on a sofa, on an extremely hot day at skullduggery tattoos.  Just a week or so before I decided, maybe I'd like to get a tattoo, I had an idea I doodled away on myself, wore biro drawings on my wrists for days, but part of me thought I'd never actually do it. However, sitting in my mum's shop a few days later, passing time as we waited for Cromer carnival to begin, I drew my idea on my wrist once more to show my sister, when my mum saw to my surprise she said how much she liked it, then proceeded to offer to buy it for me as birthday gift. Before I knew it she was booking me an appointment and there I was waiting for the needles.

And do you know what, it really didn't hurt, not in the way I had imagined it would anyway and now I'm already planning more!

This tattoo, as quickly arranged and attached to my being forever, as it was, still manages to hold a great deal of meaning, which is what I was really hoping for I think.

I choose the ball of yarn and hook, for obvious reasons, but beyond that, it was the day before my 29th birthday that I received my very first crochet pattern commission and over that first year there have been ups and downs, but as I turn into my thirties this new little business/dream of mine is truly thriving.  I feel I finally know what I want to do with my life, it took me thirty years but now I'm there and I'm doing it and that is a fantastic feeling.  Having it be a gift from my Mum, is wonderful and every time I look at it, I'll think of her.  Not only that, but having it done in Sheringham, the place a little piece of me calls home, on a gloriously sunny day, with a tattoist who is the little brother of an old friend of mine, makes me very happy indeed.  

So I hope with all these positive associations attached to it, even if I come to despise the image itself in time (which I hope of course I won't) I'll still love the idea of it and the memories it recalls. 

As and aside if you are in the North Norfolk area I can strongly recommend Skullduggery, they were kind and helpful to me and my ridiculous nerves and though I don't have anything to compare it to and it's only a tiny piece, the work is great and it healed very quickly.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

inside crochet 33 ::

The newest issue of Inside Crochet hit the shops the Friday before last and once again it looks fantastic!

One of my patterns is featured, this time a chunky chain necklace, named Jesamine.

These were so much fun to make and when Claire asked me to make lots in different colours, I knew they would look great in the photo shoot.

The pattern itself is a lovely quick to make project, but the finished item is so much fun.

There are so many great patterns in this issue, but a couple of my favourites, and pieces I'd love to make, if only I had time, are the Mod Squad Sweater by Amy Depew and the Lulu Leggings by Pauline Turner.

Both are items I don't think many people would have dreamed possible for crochet and I guess that's what I particularly love about them and I think this freshness towards an old craft is what's making the new Inside Crochet so utterly wonderful!

Photography is by the superbly talented Britt Spring.

Monday, 30 July 2012

inside crochet 32 ::

On Friday the new issue of inside crochet hit the shelves.  I was so excited about this issue for lots of different reasons.
:: Firstly, I have 2 patterns in this issue, I've never had 2 patterns in one issue of anything before, so that was pretty cool.
:: Secondly, one of the garments is adorned with some of my handmade buttons and as a result I was asked if I could send over some photos of my buttons for them to be included elsewhere in the magazine.
:: Thirdly, I had a sneak peek of some of the photographs and knew they would be gorgeous.
:: Fourthly, the lovely Claire Montgomerie has returned to her post of editor after a maternity break and has given the magazine a grand new look. After all the drama surrounding the magazine under it's previous ownership (I won't go into all the details here, but I'm sure if you google All Craft Media administration you'll get an idea) I was really pleased to see the magazine continuing under much improved leadership.

What I wasn't expecting, when I popped in to Smiths to see if I could spy it on the shelves, was to see my creation gracing the cover.  I squealed with excitement! I was on my own with the toddler and so very nearly grabbed the nearest grown up to show them my achievement, I managed to hold off, but did very loudly show said toddler (who was more interested in the cbeebies magazines, which are inconveniently located right next to the craft magazines).

This issue is really great and everything I hoped a UK crochet magazine could and would be.  When I heard of ACM's administration, what I was most upset about, even more than the money I was owed and would most likely never see, was the loss of our only UK crochet magazine. The shelves are awash with knitting magazines and some really fantastic one's at that, I believe there is room for a crochet magazine and that it could do fantastically well.  The US has 4 that I can think of off the top of my head and some really great quality one's at that, but I feel, with the new look and great new team at the helm, inside crochet is going to be fantastic.

I haven't had a chance to read it cover to cover yet, but some of the highlights for me so far are a really interesting article on the '(short) history of crochet' by Zoe Clements (the new editor of inside crochet's sister, knitting magazine, yarnwise), a fantastic stripy sweater pattern by Emma Varnam and the exceptional photography by Britt Spring.

Claire was the first editor to commission any of my patterns, a mere 12 months ago, which gave me the confidence to carry on when I'd already received a fair few rejections and now just a year later I have deadlines looming every week and more work than I could have dreamed of, for inside crochet, 2 US crochet magazines and a few knitting magazines! So I'm very grateful to her and the rest of her team and proud to be a part of this new vision of her magazine.