Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Christmas Crafting :: Crochet Bobble Hats ::

Another speedy little handmade gift project.  This time bobble hats for little ones.

I love these little hats, destined for a pair of twins, I used Red Heart Soft that I had left over from my Rainbow Slipper Socks, which is fabulous for this sort of project, soft, washable and available in a great range of colours.

I made the pattern up as I went along, working top down in half treble stitch (possibly my favourite of the crochet stitches!) I worked in continuous rounds and then added a contrasting band of treble crochet as ribbing along the bottom.  And of course a pom pom on top!

To make my pompoms I just use my hand and then trim the up to make them even.

Quick and easy each hat took me an evening, but they're super cute and fun.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Christmas Crafting :: Stamp Making ::

Last night was Craft Night In at Cafe Moochoo and for a bit of a change I thought I would leave the knitting/crochet to one side and work on something different.

Inspired by a picture I saw on pinterest of these lovely bauble stamps from etsy, I decided to try my hand at some of my own.

I purchased a set of engraving tools (I think from Hobbycraft but I can't see them on their website now) quite a while ago, to make some stamps for my etsy shop, so I took those, a newly purchased set of rubbers along with me and with a little creative inspiration from my friends this is what I produced.

I'm really quite pleased with my little festive stamps, they only took me a couple of hours and were so much fun to make.

Next job is to get Milo to adorn the wrapping paper using these and a some colourful ink!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Christmas Crafting :: Magic Yarn Balls ::

As Christmas nears, far too quickly for my liking, it's becoming fairly apparent to me, there won't be as many handmade gifts under the tree this year as I would have liked. So I'm looking for quick ideas, that are just as thoughtful to fill in the gaps.

These magic yarn balls are wonderful, I made one for my sister a couple of years ago, but as my nieces are now both in to yarn crafts (one knits, one crochets) they seemed the perfect gift for them.

The premise is a simple one, take some yarn and wind it into a ball full of gifts! The gifts need to be fairly small, but you'll be surprised what you can hide in there.

I forgot to take photos before I started the first one, but I managed to wrap up, a lip balm, some hair chalk, a bath bomb, a few little owl shaped rubbers and some chocolate coins. I also made some macramé bracelets, using my skills learnt at the By The Yard workshop I attended and some of my loveheart beads.

I really think they'll love these, I know I would be utterly thrilled to receive one of these.

In fact I was thinking it would be really wonderful to organise some kind of Magic Yarn Ball swap, pop a comment below if you think this is a good idea/something you'd like to take part in and if there's enough interest, maybe I'll organise one in the new year.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Scrap Yarn as Stitch Marker ::

Inspired by Ruth of Rock and Purl's recent blog posts on teaching I'd thought I'd share a little bit of a simple, yet hopefully useful, tutorial here today.

A lot of my crochet patterns, including my newest sock pattern, are worked in the round, but even those that aren't often require you to pop a marker in at some point during the piece.  I always try and write the pattern as though you were using a removable stitch marker, because I know that's what a lot of people do, but you know something, I very very rarely do.  I much prefer a little bit of scrap yarn!  I think it works so much better, because a lot of the time, it's the space between the stitches I really need to mark, not the stitch itself and because for me, I learned a lot of my fibre techniques from knitting and that's the way you generally place a marker in knitting.  I also think it's a much more accurate way of keeping place and doesn't require reattaching every round, so I thought I'd share with you how I do it.

First choose your scrap of yarn carefully, this may sound a little silly, but you don't want something that will leave strands of fibre in your work and you certainly don't really want to use wool, which may felt into your work.  To be safe use some cotton or acrylic yarn, in a nice contrasting colour to your work, so that it's visible, but not something that may leak dye on your work, especially if you're working in lighter colours.  I tend to use acrylic and I carry a little selection of ends around with me in my notions bag.  You only really need about 2-3 inches of yarn.

Once you've got your scrap of yarn and you arrive at the point in your work you need to mark, simply lay your marker over the work, right up next to the stitch you've just worked.

Then just go ahead and work your next stitch, catching the yarn in between the two stitches and continue working on to the end of the round.

As you approach your marker, lift either end of the marker up and over your work, place next to the last stitch worked and work your next stitch.  You can now remove the marker from the round below, but I actually prefer to keep it in place, so I can see the progression I've made and keep a check on whether I'm being nice and even with my rounds.

The above assumes that you are working in continuous rounds, not turning or joining, but you can use the same method for any way you're working, including working in straight rows.

Monday, 9 December 2013

The Crochet Sock Collection #1 :: coming soon ::

You may already know, I've mentioned it in my newsletter, on my facebook page and I've shared a few pictures on instagram, but if you don't, I'm pleased to announce, I'm working on a crochet sock collection.
I'm very excited about this, over the past 12 months I've designed 7 different sock patterns, so I've learnt a whole lot about sock construction and what makes a great crochet sock.  I really wanted to take this knowledge and develop a collection of crochet sock patterns that are fun, functional and wonderfully quick to create.  Knitting may have the upper hand when it comes to creating stretchy fabric perfect for feet, but it sure isn't as quick as crochet.

I won't lie here, knitting is better at that aforementioned stretchiness, but that doesn't mean you can't make crochet socks, it just means considering the stitch type and looking at the kind of ease you want requires a bit more time.

I have 6 wonderful designs I cannot wait to share with you.  This first collection will be women's socks but I have plans for a men's and a children's collection in the future.

Inspired by Joanne Scrace's openness with her Suffolk collection, I'm happy to share my progress as I go.  There shall be no secret keeping until the big reveal here.  Besides I'm working with some unbelievably delicious yarns, I will simply not be able to keep quiet about!

I want to bring alive in crocheters a passion for sock making so many knitters already know so well. I'm using yarns sourced solely from UK indie dyers, because they are beautiful and your feet should quite simply be bathed in these gorgeous yarns.

If you want some sneaky peeks of the kind of socks I'll be creating you can see my pinterest board here.

The first pair to be finished will be these Mulled Wine Socks. Glamorous and sophisticated, perfect for the festive celebrations.  I picture them over sparkly tights inside a pair of gorgeous heels.

Worked toe up with a solid sole and lacy top, a reversed turned heel and lacy ankle, finished with a ribbed cuff.  The sample pair are worked in Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply in Spiced Plum, a wonderfully bouncy yarn in a fabulous colour.

You can buy your copy here.  A second pattern will be available lat September 2015 and the full collection available by November 2015.

All patterns will be available singly at £3, if you purchase a single pattern you will receive a coupon code for £3 off the full collection once it has been released, because I'm really hoping you'll catch the crochet sock bug and want to only ever wear handmade socks on your feet!  The full collection will be priced at £12.

To keep up to date sign up to my list here.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

This Weekend :: Getting Festive ::

No tree yet unfortunately, but Christmas is starting creep it's way into our house, creating huge excitement in the boy.

Getting festive ::

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Behm-a-long ::

I recently discovered the Knitmore Girls podcast, and what a treat it was (well is in fact).  It is by far and away my most favourite of podcasts at present.  Fortunately my late coming means there are literally hundreds of episodes to catch up on.

As a result of this wonderful podcast listening, I decided to follow along with their current knit along, Behm-a-long, simply a knit along in which you knit any one of, the hugely talented, Martina Behm's patterns.

Though I had come across Martina's patterns before (I imagine it would be hard not to have come across her infamous hitchhiker scarf) I hadn't knit any, but I had a gorgeous skien of Fyberspates sock yarn and eagerness for some simple garter stitch knitting, so I purchased a copy of the ever popular hitchhiker and got going and well, I was blown away by this simple yet entirely addictive pattern!  It's absolutely perfect comfort knitting, simple but not boring, just perfect.

I finished my Hitchhiker a few weeks ago now and I wear it all the time, it's quite small in size which makes it nice for cool but not freezing days and also lovely to wear around the house.  I had in mind to knit another, maybe as a christmas gift, maybe for Milo, who loves it for the way the teeth look like dragon spikes, which would be highlighted, I'm sure, if knit in a yellow and green yarn, but then Martina released a new pattern!

Be My Angel, is just beautiful, worked in a similar fashion to the Hitchhiker, except you knit 2 pieces then join them together.  The result are these beautiful wings which wrap around you in what I imagine to be a very comforting way.  I purchased the pattern the moment I saw it and fortunately had just the right yarn in my stash, way back from when I crocheted my January Pullover.

I love the idea of these angel wings knitted up and wrapped around someone you love, my original plan was to gift this to my mum for christmas, but it's going to be oh so hard to part with.

I'm just over half way, but the way I'm going I expect I'll be finished soon, it's just much too addictive, there have been many late nights as a result!

Friday, 29 November 2013

Inside Crochet 48 ::

Issue 48 of Inside Crochet goes on sale today and my oh my are there some wonderful projects inside!

Ali Cambell's gorgeous sweater is on my (ever growing) list of things I'd love to make for myself, one day, Helda Panagary's sweet flower bracelets are perfect for using up scraps and will make great little christmas gifts. Having recently ventured into experimenting with beads in crochet, I'm drawn to Heidi McCarthy's beautiful shawl, which incidentally is her first ever published pattern. I also loved Emma Escott of Lulu Loves, first column and sweet flower embellished journal cover.

I have 2 patterns in this issue, rather excitingly is the first instalment of my mystery blanket.  I've been wanting to design a blanket pattern for ages.  My problem being I'm generally very good at starting blankets but not quite so good at finishing them (if you saw my pile of unfinished blankets...) so I decided I needed a much more engaging way to create and actually finish a blanket.  This design therefore uses a different stitch repeat for each colour stripe, giving you opportunity to really stretch those crochet muscles, worked from the centre out, starting as a mandala and growing into a square, meaning you can finish whenever you feel you've reached the size you want.

Part 1 is the mandala, which can be made as a standalone piece in it's own right if you don't fancy taking the next step. The rest of the blanket will be spread out over the next 3 issues. If you do take part in this series I would love to see how your blanket progresses.

The second pattern is my Foxy Cape, I will not lie, I adore this pattern, I think it's possibly my favourite one to date and I'm so pleased to already have the sample back in my hands, well snuggly perched on my shoulders as I type in fact.

Worked in the round, bottom up, this is a very simple piece, worked mostly in treble stitches, with a few rounds of double crochet on the bottom and double crochet used for the foxes.  The trickiest bit is the colourwork, there are times when you are using 3 yarns at once, as long as you keep all the balls apart and work in a methodical way, you should be able to avoid getting in a tangle.  There will be quite a lot of switching between colours and obviously this is time consuming, however there are only at total of 12 rounds of colourwork across the whole piece and the rest I promise is very quick. I purchased a yarn guide, which I found extremely helpful, it took a bit of getting used to, but once I got my tension sorted it was a breeze to use and helped speed up the process.

If you're tempted by any of the patterns inside, you can find the magazine in newsagents from today, plus I've got a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader, just pop a comment on the bottom of this post and I'll draw a winner on Monday.

Inside Crochet 48 is out in the UK today or can be purchased digitally here.
Photos that aren't by myself are by the wonderfully talented Britt Spring.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Black Friday Sales ::

So I know it's only Thursday, but I thought I would let you all in on my sales secrets a little early!

You may or may not know, that before I became a crochet designer I spent the majority of my time making items from polymer clay.  I have a little etsy shop called Lilley and it is solely due to this enterprise that I was able to remain away from work after my maternity leave ended.  Though this side of my business has been a little neglected since I started designing, I still spend at least one day a week working on it and it's only because of this extra business that I am able to remain at home.
I've run Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales over in my Lilley shop for the past few years and with great success and I shall be partaking over there again this year.

So if any of your loved ones are in need of some ninja stitch markers, a pair of loveheart earrings or some festive buttons (to mention just a few of the items I have available there) hop on over and you can receive 30% off any orders over £15 with coupon code BLKFRI13

Or better still if you sign up to my mailing list you will receive an email containing a coupon code with an even higher discount (this is a different mailing list to my pattern list)

Lilley Handmade Mailing List ::

* indicates required

This year I will also be holding a sale in my pattern store.

photos by Britt Spring

I shall be offering 30% off all patterns in my ravelry store, the prices have already been adjusted so no need for a coupon code, you won't see the discount until you checkout. If you'd rather do your pattern buying on etsy you can use coupon code BLKFRI13 over there for the same discount and it can also be used against finished items I have for sale there.

A very happy thanksgiving to all those who celebrate it.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Design Wars 5 :: the final reveal ::

Woohoo...the final reveal of all of the designs created by the Design Wars 5 challengers has been posted!

  Final Reveal AD

 You can see all the wonderful creations and vote for your favourites over on the Design Wars blog, of course if you fancy voting for my design I won't dissuade  you from doing so ;) So here is my final design ::

  Rainbow Slipper Socks Crochet Pattern

 I'll post more about the slippers themselves tomorrow, but if you can't wait that long, the pattern is up for sale over on my ravelry page now. x

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Stranded Knits by Ann Kingstone ::

I've been a big fan of Ann Kingstone's work for a while now, especially her stranded knitwear (wetwang being a particular favourite that I really really will knit for myself one day) if you haven't come across her designs before I strongly recommend you go investigate.

Gorgeous new book by Ann Kingstone arrived on my doorstep this week.

So I was thrilled to get my hands on a copy of her new book, 'Stranded Knits'.  It's such a beautifully put together book.  If you've never tried your hand at stranded knits before, but have a basic understanding of knitting this book would be a fantastic step into the wonderful world of colourwork.  If you have tried stranded knitting before, I would still heavily recommend getting hold of a copy, it taught me so much.


I love knitting colour work, almost all of my, handful of, knitwear designs have included it, but Ann's book gave me so much useful knowledge.  The first third of the book is devoted to the 'smart skills for colourwork knitting', and boy are they smart and easy to understand.  This is the kind of knitting book you really want to read, not just flick through and admire the pretty patterns. Techniques I learned so far, include spit splicing (I knew about this technique but the book really encouraged me to give it a go and since I did I wonder why I never tried it before!), choosing the right colours for your colourwork (a lesson I read after I knit my first pattern from the book, d'oh!), steeking and whole new-to-me cast on.  I'm sure as I knit more patterns from the book I will learn more and more too. william 

 The diagrams are so clear and easy to understand, which helps bring the written instructions to life. I really don't think I have one bad thing to say about this book.  I would lovingly knit more than half of the patterns featured (if only I could find a couple of extra days in the week!).  I especially love how there are both quick patterns to get you started and full colourwork sweaters to get your teeth into once you get going. I gifted myself the yarn and the time to knit the Enid Headband, over my birthday weekend back in August.  The pattern was easy to follow and a joy to knit.  I love the finished product and am eagerly awaiting the cooler days so I can put it to good use.

 Ooh new yarn has arrived for birthday weekend knitting of Enid from stranded knits by @annkingstone

This was the pattern which I knit without testing the suitability of the colours unfortunately and in an ideal world I would probably have swapped them about a bit as the colourwork isn't quite as prominent as I would like.  But obviously if I'd spent the time reading the book properly before rushing in to knit this wouldn't have happened!

Waaah I think I made bad choices for my colourwork not really contrasting enough :( #knitting

Birthday knitting all done...choose the wrong colours but overall very happy :)

All the samples in the book are worked in Rowan yarns and I used the recommended felted tweed for my headband.  The only issue I really had was with the yarn, as I knit on double pointed needles, I found when pulling the last stitch of each needle tight, the yarn would quite often break, but once I established this problem I managed to find a good middle ground of yarn pulling, which avoided the snapping.
Birthday ::
Next up on my list are the Pleiades mitts and hat, possibly as christmas gifts then next year the gorgeous William for myself, I'd love to have a go at Hedgerow but fear it's something I would start and never finish. Stranded Knits is available for purchase as a, real life hold in your hands, book from Baa Ram Ewe here.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Robot Hoodie ::

I managed to persuade Milo to do a little bit of modelling for me at the weekend and Sunday was the perfect day for it too, just the right weather for him to be parading around in the Robot Hoodie I originally designed for Inside Crochet.


 You may have noticed that I do love a bit of colourwork...especially on the yoke.  I would say the majority of my designs probably have a colourwork yoke like this.  I especially like to do this with crochet because it's not a technique you often see in crochet, but I think it can work almost a well as those a beautiful knitted fair isle designs.


 The principle is very similar to that of knitting, unlike with tapestry crochet I keep the unworked colour loose at the back of the work, creating a stranded interior and just like knitting if it's a big gap for the yarn to strand across I catch it in behind another stitch midway across (hmmm I'm thinking this could become a blog post all of it's own...).


 This hoodie was very much a collaboration between me and Milo, before I'd even had the sweater commissioned he was clutching hold of my original swatch, a string of robots, throughout the day...so in love with the robots he was! It was he who suggested it have a hood and he who choose the little toggle buttons. So unsurprisingly he loves it and I was so relieved to see it still fits him, for now at least.

 The pattern is available in sizes age 2-3(4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-11)yrs, the sample uses Paton's Diploma Gold DK, but any double knit weight wool yarn would work in it's place. I really love this hoodie and I get so much pleasure from seeing Milo eagerly wear something I've created for him.


You can purchase the pattern in the usual places (ravelry, etsy, craftsy).

Monday, 30 September 2013

Design Wars :: Yarn ::

design wars yarn

 You may remember me talking about being accepted to compete in Design Wars 5 a couple of weeks ago.

  design wars yarn-2

 Well...on Friday my yarn delivery arrived!

  design wars yarn-3

 I'm so excited, the yarn is beautiful and the colours are wonderful.  I cannot wait to get stuck in.

  design wars yarn-4

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Little Sheep Tags :: a tutorial ::

I'm afraid to admit I have already been thinking about Christmas knitting, really in terms of knitting time it isn't very far away at all. As a side thought of this (or maybe in a little attempt at procrastination) I got thinking about accompanying gift tags for all these handknits. As a result these little sheepy tags were born.


 Last year I made little cardboard tags with yarn information, washing instructions and a little spare yarn wound around (the same yarn as used in the piece) incase of any mishaps.  Recently I've been playing with shrink plastic and so the idea for these little sheep was born.


If you would like to make your own I have sheep template here, you are welcome to print out and trace.  With the shrink plastic I used the resulting tags measure 4.5cm (1.75") across and 2.5cm (1") tall. Here's what you'll need ::
Sheep Gift Tags

Cut a piece of shrink plastic to a size just a tad larger than the picture you are going to trace.

  Knit gift tag  

 Carefully tape your plastic over the picture (this is optional really, it helps to keep the plastic in place making the tracing easier, but you could just hold it in place with your hand if you thought that would work for you).

  how to make a gift tag

Using a black permanent marker trace your picture onto the plastic.


 Remove your plastic from the drawing underneath and carefully cut around it, using your small sharp scissors, leaving a couple of millimetres between your drawing and the edge. This is the tricky part!

  gift tags for hand knits 

 Using the hole punch, punch a hole in his tail, this is so you can thread a piece of string/yarn through it so that you can attach it later.  You might want to practice the positioning of your hole on a piece of paper first, so you can work out how far in you need to go, I won't lie, I messed this up on my first attempt!


 If you like you can do a little colouring at this stage or if you like a classic look leave him plain.  I coloured in the faces, legs and ears of mine.

  sheep gift tags 

 And now you're ready for the fun part, baking!  Follow the instructions on your shrink plastic and watch your little sheep curl up, shrink and flatten down again. I had a couple of pieces of parchment paper and a heavy book ready, then as soon as I took them out the oven I popped them between the 2 sheets and put the book on top to help flatten them further.

  knitting gift tags 

 You can then varnish them if you would like them to have a glossier finish. And there you have it, little sheep gift tags, perfect little bobbins to accompany your beautifully crafted hand knit and crochet pieces.


Monday, 16 September 2013

Design Wars ::

Design Wars #5 was announced this week and I'm thrilled to say I am going to be taking part. If you haven't heard about Design Wars before, it's basically a challenge wherein 10 designers battle it out to come up with the best crochet design which is voted for over 5 categories. The only theme is that all the designers must use the same yarn, which is provided by Red Heart. I use Red Heart a lot for my Crochet Today designs, so I'm fairly familiar with them and really pleased with the choice of yarn we're going to be using.


There are some really great designers taking part in the round and I cannot wait to see what everyone comes up with. If you fancy checking out the other designers you can find their facebook pages listed below :: Jenny Allbritain :: Susan Carlson :: Sarah Lora :: Sascha Blase-van Wagtendonk :: Crystal Bucholz :: Lisa van Klaveren :: Alessandra Hayden :: Tara Murray :: Katie Hanken To keep up to date with all the Design Wars going ons you can sign up to their mailing list here. Stay tuned here for more details as I can reveal them!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Inside Crochet 45 ::

Issue 45 of Inside Crochet came out last week and as usual it's full to the brim of gorgeous patterns and wonderful photography (courtesy of Britt Spring).

An ode to the granny square, Joanne Scrace's gorgeous cover scarf is such a beautiful modern twist on the classic (I know Joanne generally isn't a big fan of!), making it classy and sophisticated and taking it a world away from it's usual image.

Simone Francis's dressing gown is unlike anything I've seen before, so delicate and glamourous.

I also have a pattern in this months pages, my Leonie Cardigan.  I'm particualry fond of this design, it's made in Rowan Pure Wool 4ply and it so light and soft to wear.  Crocheted as a bit rectangle, the front can be left to hang open, or fastened with a shawl pin in a number or ways.  The stitch pattern I used is the classic Catherine Wheel Stitch.

As the lovely Claire, is so swift at returning samples I already have it back in my possession and I know it's going to be the perfect accompaniment to autumn.

Issue 45 is on sale in most newsagents now, or available online here.