Friday, 11 November 2016

The Crochet Shawl Club ::

Introducing The Crochet Shawl Club ::
Announcing a different kind of release for The Crochet Shawl Collection :: The Crochet Shawl Club! 

Starting from January I'll be launching one crochet shawl pattern every 2 months as part of a club. Every other month (January, March, May, July, September and November) I will be producing a box which will include a printed pattern and hand dyed yarn to work up that shawl (dyed by me, exclusively for this club). 

Each box will be available to purchase singly and will go on sale a month prior to shipping or you can sign up to all 6 for a fabulous saving.

Each shawl pattern will be new and exclusive to box subscribers for 2 months, after which time the pattern will become available to purchase individually.

All yarn will be sock/4ply weight and will be on a range of bases and fibres varying from month to month. However, I can happily accommodate any allergies or personal dislikes. 

The shawls will vary in difficulty but I promise none of them will be above an intermediate level. There will be half circles, triangles, half hexagons and asymmetric shapes, so a little bit of everything!

The first box and the full subscription are available to purchase now over on etsy

Single boxes are priced at £20 and include UK postage, postage within Europe is an additional £1.50 and postage for the rest of the world is an additional £3

For the full 6 month collection the cost is £100 and includes UK postage, postage with Europe is an additional £9 and £18 for the rest of the world.

The contents will remain a mystery until they have been delivered to your door, but you can find some sneak peeks over on my instagram page.

I'm so excited about this project and absolutely cannot wait to start putting the boxes together for you.


Wednesday, 27 July 2016

The Magic of Blocking ::

A few weeks ago I found myself magically transported to a log cabin in the countryside surrounded by super lovely crafty ladies. Whilst on said trip I finished one pair of socks and got halfway through another, before declaring I was bored of socks (for now). Luckily with all the aforementioned lovely ladies on hand, before I knew it a skien of yarn was thrown at me (courtesy of Kate) a crochet shawl book appeared beside me (thanks to Joanne and Kat) and the required crochet hook was provided (on loan from Gilly). By Sunday evening I had myself a gorgeous new shawl which will forever remind me of a really really wonderful weekend.

The shawl is Transposition from The Shawl Project: Book One, yarn is Sock by Sundara Yarns. I followed the pattern to the letter, apart from adding some beads to the edging. What I really wanted to show you was the magic of a good block!

Here is the shawl as soon it was finished, looking very scrunched and a bit blurgh to be honest.

After a good soak in some warm water and a little eculan (wrapture is my favourite), I pinned it out on a towel on my lawn (I have yet to unpack my blocking boards). It was such a beautifully sunny day it dried in no time at all.

And here it is in all it's glory. I'm always so amazed by the magical powers of blocking.

Also do you see my beautiful floor there?! I finally go round to waxing the hallway floor and I love it oh so very much.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Weekending :: a trip to Bruton ::

We just got back from the most fabulous weekend away celebrating lots of birthdays. On Friday lunchtime (which in it self was Johnny's birthday) we boarded the train at Cheltenham and headed down to Somerset to celebrate Johnny's Grandmother's 90th birthday.

It was the most fantastical weekend, with lots of beautiful sunshine, delicious cakes, music and loads and loads of family! I feel so lucky to have found myself joined to this wonderful collection of people and so pleased that my children get to belong here. I can't imagine any better way to spend your ninetieth birthday, than surrounded by your descendants, a family band to serenade you and plenty of delicious cake!

There were lots of late nights for the children who got to spend hours playing croquet, practicing (Harry Potteresque) duelling and doing handstands with their cousins, but coped incredibly well. Effie downright refused to nap on both the train journeys (there and back) until 5 minutes before we reached our destination. On our return home yesterday she barely stirred after that, all through getting off the train, getting in our cab, back to the house, a change of nappy and pyjama application and was therefore fast asleep in her bed come 6pm and had to be woken up for nursery this morning!

Bruton, where we spent the weekend, is one of my very favourite places. We stayed in a really really great bed and breakfast (Oak House), which was just off the High Street.

We had a family suite which included a kitchen and living room and two bedrooms. Which meant decorating the cake Milo and I made for Johnny on Friday morning, was much easier than we had anticipated it being.

Breakfast was exceptional too, there was a buffet which included just about anything you could imagine wanting (no full english, but to be honest it certainly wasn't missed with everything else that was on offer!).

We really had the best weekend, it was the perfect start to the summer holidays. We're so looking forward to the rest of our summer adventures, after a couple of days of rest first!

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Pom Pom Shawl ::

I have put the pattern for the Pom Pom Shawl (originally published in Inside Crochet) up for sale over on Ravelry.

 I love this pattern so so much, it's so snuggly and cosy, quick and easy to make, but the pom pom edge creates a fabulous splash of detail. It's also super handy as you can slip the end of the shawl through one of the little triangles to hold it in place around your neck.

The sample was crocheted in the ridiculously delicious Acadia by The Fibre Company. But any double knit yarn would work well.

There's an automatic 50% discount on the pattern until Monday, just add it to your cart and the discount will be automatically added, in case you need a project for the weekend.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

The Crochet Sock Collection :: CAL Prizes ::

I'm so very much loving watching everyone's socks grow as the Crochet-A-Long progresses. It's so inspiring seeing everyone's different yarn choices.

I finished my first pair this weekend and immediately started another!

These are the Winter Wonder Socks in Aesthete from Burrow and Soar. I love them so so very much.

The second pair are the Fallen Leaves Socks in a yarn I dyed myself, it's a self striping in Gryffindor inspired colourway (though I didn't really have the right colours to get in right). I'm really enjoying the way the stripes are looking with this stitch.

As I've recently been dyeing much more yarn than I can use I thought I'd offer up a couple of skiens as prizes for the CAL. They are both sock yarns on the same base (100% superwash merino, 100g/400m).

Anyone who posts a photo of the progress on any of the socks from The Crochet Sock Collection, on Instagram (#thecrochetsockcal) or over in the facebook group before 31st July will have their name put in the hat to win a skien, it's a simple as that.

The Crochet Sock Collection is available to purchase as a PDF download here and as a print copy here.

Monday, 4 July 2016

A Weekend Retreat ::

This weekend, I headed off into the countryside where I found myself staying in a cabin on a farm surrounded by the most wonderful ladies.


The weekend was a celebration of the birthday of Joanne (Not So Granny), we walked, we ate, we drunk gin and we crocheted lots.

It was the perfect medicine for the events of the previous weeks. I came away feeling so calm and relaxed and inspired.

We stayed in the Damson Cabin at The Hatch booked through Canopy and Stars and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It was such a beautiful location with everything we needed for a weekend, we didn't leave the farm once.

A weekend away from everything in the company of such beautiful, inspiring ladies was magical indeed.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Works in Progress :: Winter Wonder Socks ::

My wip for Wednesday this week are my Winter Wonder socks from The Crochet Sock Collection.
I making them as part of #thecrochetsockcal (which is so much fun! I'm loving seeing everyone else's gorgeous socks in progress).

I just finished the first one last night, these are so so quick to make, I've barely had any crochet time this week so I'm so pleased I've managed to finish one already. I made a small start on the toe for the second, but as it's craft night tonight I'm hoping to get much further this evening.

That's all I've been working on this week, as I said, crochet time has been at a minimum, but as I'm heading away without children this weekend, I'm hoping there will be lots to show next week!

Gorgeous yarn is from Burrow and Soar on etsy.

If you fancy joining along with CAL we have a facebook group over here, or we're using #thecrochetsockcal on instagram (you can follow me here).

The Crochet Sock Collection is available to purchase as a PDF download here and as a print copy here.

Thoughts on Gauge ::

A stitch in time can save (much more than) nine, why  and how you should check your tension/gauge in crochet.

As we started the 'crochet-a-long' for The Crochet Sock Collection on Friday, I had some things to say about gauge and why it's important.

If you're a seasoned knitter or crocheter I'm sure you are already aware that you should always swatch before starting a project, but I'm sure there are a lot of you who don't. That's Ok, I won't judge, I am also guilty of going straight on in without doing a swatch myself every now and again. For some projects it really doesn't matter so much, shawls and blankets are a good example of that, but if your project needs to fit on your body, then you really really should. You know that saying 'a stitch in time saves nine'...if you've had to frog half (or more a sweater) you'll know it can be a lot more than nine.

The numbers that a pattern provides you with as gauge/tension are what the designer has based the whole of their pattern around. For me, these are the numbers that go on to my spreadsheet and all the other little boxes fill themselves up from there. They are the foundation of it all!

If your tension varies to mine, which it almost certainly will a little, crochet is like handwriting, we all have our own unique style and that may affect the number of stitches you get per cm, then if you blindly follow the yarn and hook recommendations you may find your finished item to be a completely different size and shape as it's intended to be. Which is why we're always banging on about making sure you check your gauge!

When working on a swatch, always use the stitch the pattern tells you to, the yarn you intend to use and the hook you are going to use, both the size and the material used for them will alter your tension. If the pattern says, work in the round, then work in the round, if it says work flat, then work flat. Basically just do everything exactly as you would when your working on the actual garment, that way the stitches in your swatch should match up perfectly to those on your finished piece. After you've made your swatch, wash and block it, let it dry then take your measurements.

I tend to do a swatch that is made up of exactly the number of stitches and rows as suggested for 10cm square, I'll take a measurement before blocking if it's more than 10cm then I know my tension is too loose and I'll need to go down a hook size, if it's correct or less than 10cm I'll block that swatch to 10cm square. For the most part the tension would have to be much much too tight for it not to stretch out to the desired size, so again it will be an obvious problem. Once the swatch has dried I have a good look at how it drapes and feels and looks. Just because it stretched all the way out to 10cm may not mean it I like the way it feels, it may be too tight and lack any give, or it may seem too dense still. If so I'll adjust my hook size accordingly and try again.

All this may seem like such a time consuming task, but I assure you it's much less time consuming than having to create a garment all over again because you missed this one step!

If you fancy joining along with CAL we have a facebook group over here, or we're using #thecrochetsockcal on instagram (you can follow me here).

The Crochet Sock Collection is available to purchase as a PDF download here and as a print copy here.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

The Crochet Sock Collection :: Crochet-A-Long ::

To accompany the launch of The Crochet Sock Collection, I thought it would be nice to run a CAL (crochet-a-long). I have never run a CAL, but it's something I've always wanted to do. Socks aren't especially difficult, but there may be some techniques which are new to some and I thought this would be a great way to lend a helping hand to anyone who needs it. Plus I love an 'a-long' myself, be it knitting or crochet, it's so inspiring to see other peoples interpretations of projects and it's always nice to have a little yarn enabling in your life.

It's going to be a very free range affair. There's a facebook group (here) and a hashtag for Instagram (#thecrochetsockcal) so we can all share our progress and chat about our socks, there's also an official start date (Friday 24th June) but there are no particular rules, join in whenever you like. Just grab one of the patterns, some sock yarn and a hook, get crocheting and share your progress.

The patterns are available singly now as PDF downloads and the full collection is available as a download too and you can also purchase a printed copy on etsy.

Any 4ply sock yarn should do the trick, I'd generally say use something with a little nylon if possible and steer clear of cotton. The majority of the patterns use a 3.5mm hook, some also require a smaller hook for the ribbing, but obviously the size you need will mostly depend on your gauge. Hook details can be found on the ravelry page for each pattern.

There will be prizes! I have recently ventured into dyeing yarn so will be offering up a couple of skiens of my hand dyed sock yarn, plus some stitch markers and crochet hooks. I will share pictures once I have all prizes finalised, but to get you tempted here's a shot of some yarn I dyed especially to giveaway. I'll also set an end date for the prizes, though there's no deadline to finish the socks and you won't need to have finished for a chance to win.

We start officially tomorrow, but feel free to grab some yarn and get checking your gauge today if you like :)

I'm going to be using some lovely yarn from Burrow and Soar and I think I'm making the Winter Wonder socks.

Monday, 20 June 2016

The Crochet Sock Collection ::

I cannot tell you how excited I am to announce the release of the crochet sock collection. I started this project 2 and half years ago. Life threw some pretty time consuming stuff at me over those 2 and half years (baby, 2 house moves to mention a few!) so it took a whole lot longer than I imagined, but I'm so so pleased and proud of what I'm putting out into the wild today.

The Crochet Sock Collection is a collection of 6 crochet sock patterns. Here is a little bit of the intro from the book ::

People often seem surprised by the idea of crochet socks. I regularly hear cries of ‘I never thought of crochet socks!’. Of course, you can crochet anything. If you’re a crocheter who frequents the internet I’m sure you’ve seen with your own eyes that just because you can, doesn’t always mean you should! When it comes to socks however you absolutely should.
Having been a sock knitter for many many years, when it came to crochet socks I found it difficult to find any patterns that didn’t look bulky, stiff and uncomfortable. Tempted to try my hand at knitting lacy socks but lacking the confidence, I turned to my trusty crochet stitches and a new love was born. You really can make crochet socks that are comfortable, beautiful and practical.
I won’t lie to you, crochet does not have the same stretch and flexibility as knitting does, but by utilising the stretch it does have and finding the right stitches, crochet socks are very much a possibility.
In this collection are six designs that all have different techniques, different stitches and varying heel and toe constructions. These are socks that are designed to work, be loved and be put through their paces!

I am so in love with this collection, the second my lovely photographer (Kasia Fiszer) had finished her work I started wearing them all on constant rotation.

I'll talk about each pattern a bit more through the week, but in the meantime you can purchase the Ebook over on ravelry where you'll find a little more info on each of the individual patterns. If you'd rather have an 'in your hands copy' you can buy a print copy over on etsy, this is currently preorder and will be shipping at the beginning of next week, but I'll send you over a PDF copy in the meantime.

I'll be running a crochet-a-long for anyone who wants to join in and crochet themselves some socks from the collection. I've set up a facebook group here, but we'll also be playing along on Instagram if that's your thing (#thecrochetsockcal). I'll post more details for the cal in the week, but I thought we could start officially on Friday 25th, though you can start whenever you like of course.

Thanks so much to everyone who has help with this project and spurred me on to the finish line.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Hello There ::

It has been very quiet over here lately hasn't it? With our house move, a very mobile toddler in my life and everything else that inadvertently sucks my time, I'm afraid I've let the blog slide. It's one of those things where as more time passes it seems more difficult to get back to it, but this Sunday morning with coffee in hand and children playing happily together, I'm carving out some time to get back at it.

Life has been pretty full since we moved in to our first ever home back in January. The house renovation itself seems to have stalled hugely. Initially we weren't going to unpack anything until we'd finished decorating, but gradually as we've needed this or that, the boxes have become half unpacked all over the house and the majority of the walls remain untouched. 'Slowly slowly' seems to have become my stock response to anyone who asks, 'how's the house coming along'. It's more difficult to get on with it all when you live here somehow. I guess it's akin to working from home, when it's where you live all your everyday distractions become very distracting!

I'm not working a huge amount at the moment. I'm still working my way through The Crochet Sock Collection, which is now very very very nearly ready to launch. I'm taking on a few magazine commissions here and there and I have launched a new jewellery project, but trying to balance work and house renovating and looking after my very demanding toddler is a tough juggling act.

Effie is now well on here way to 2. She's feisty and independent and hugely demanding in equal measure. I'm sure Milo wasn't quite so time consuming at her age. She goes to nursery 2 mornings a week so I do get some time to work peacefully. She loves it and it's so nice to see her flourishing there and making friends.

Though it's full and slightly chaotic, life is good.

I plan to be back in this space more regularly going forward. Expect to see house updates, gardening exploits, family adventures and crafty pursuits.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Finding Inspiration :: Desk Accessories ::

Since moving house I haven't really had a chance to set up a work space properly, I'm currently working at a hastily set up desk in the corner of the living room. Ideally I'd like a workroom all of my own, but to be honest that seems unlikely, for the time being anyways. So in the meantime I shall dream of a room of one's own and browse etsy for all the things I will adorn my desk with once I'm no longer living on a building site!

Here are some of my favourites all from UK based etsy sellers ::

7. Pencils from Papio Press

For more inspiration for desk attire from etsy sellers take a look at my pinterest board and the Etsy 'dress your desk' collection.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

World Book Day :: and the tale of the Ron Weasley Sweater ::

Those of you with children will probably know that last Thursday was World Book Day. A day where parents across the world find themselves frantically trying to cobble together a book themed costume for their little ones. The majority of our previous outfits have been thrown together the night before with mild panic and crafty skills. Unsurprisingly for anyone who knows Milo, last year he was Harry Potter. The year before that he was Charlie Bucket and I think the year before that he was a pirate from Captain Hook's ship.

This year he initially declared he wanted to be Hermione Granger. I have no issue with Milo choosing to be a girl for the day (for Halloween he was Bellatrix Lestange - do you sense a theme here?) but my main objection was spending money on a new wig. His Bellatrix wig soon found itself in a horrific mess of knots and tangles. Once he was informed I would not be purchasing a wig, it turned out that having 'nice hair' was his main reasoning for his costume choice and he quickly started to come up with other suggestions.

Deciding to use his already existing freckles to his advantage he thought he would like to be a Weasley twin, but after much indecision on which twin to be, I suggested he might prefer to be Ron, turns out he didn't realise Ron also had freckles. So Ron was chosen. To which he quickly requested 'a Molly Weasley jumper with a R on it please Mum'. I cannot resist the request of knitting from Milo, I was thrilled when he asked for a school jumper over the summer, however my initial response of 'oh yes of course I'd love to Milo! What colours shall we do?' was met with thoughts of 'how realistic it is to knit a jumper in a week?'!

But do you know what, if you love someone that much, you can knit them a sweater in a week. Even when you run out of yarn and have to spend 3 of those 7 days waiting for more to arrive and especially if you don't mind staying up until 2.30 the morning of World Book Day to get it done!

I didn't use a pattern (though in retrospect that would probably have been easier) I didn't even swatch. I just took a couple of Milo's measurements, took the ball band's suggested gauge as read and cast on. I did a really simple bottom up raglan, with ribbing on the bottom, cuffs and neckline. I decided to use duplicate stitch for the R, figuring that would be easier than attempting to learn intarsia, plus if for some reason he decides he doesn't want an R emblazoned across his chest I can remove it easily and the sweater can still get some use.

I used Drops Alaska in dark red for the main body of the sweater and the mustard yellow for the R as it was nice a chunky, perfect Gryfindor colours and I already had some left over from the crochet blanket I made over the summer.

It was totally worth a couple of late nights to see the look of awe on his face on Thursday morning, plus he looked amazing! We added a wand, some orange hair chalk, Scabbers the rat and even a dirty mark on his nose.

Lots have people have asked me for the pattern. I'm afraid I don't plan on writing it up at the moment, that's not to say I never will, but not in the foreseeable future. However if you found yourself a nice simple sweater pattern it really would be simple enough to add an initial to the front of it.