Holibobs!

Happiness is in this bag….

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This bag contains the caked yarn from my stash that is going on holiday with me.  It is a large bag.  Many skeins have jumped in and out of it, as if participating in a woolly version of the Hokey Cokey.  I have now settled for a modest amount of about 900g of loveliness, and I have successfully resisted the temptation to add in another cake to make it up to a round 1KG of yarn, because that just sounds excessive…

I have a looong car journey ahead of me on the way there, and another on the way back. Plus, I hope, some R&R in the middle bit. This is premium hooking time, and I am more than a little excited.  I am also feeling virtuous because I have nailed the fourth pattern for Shawl Club, so I am so far ahead of schedule that I can make something that isn’t a shawl for a bit now.  However, I have got an idea for a new shawl that won’t go into Shawl Club, but will just go up on Ravelry if I can get it to work.  I am so tempted to take the yarn for it with me.  Still dithering about that.  Back to the yarn Hokey Cokey again.  What I might do is write down what is in my head and then make it when I get back from holiday.  It is a  bit late at night right now to start caking more yarn, and my swift is making some fairly unearthly squeaks and groans at the moment, and this could frighten the neighbours.

Brian the Sheep, pictured at the top of this post, will stand guard over my stash whilst I’m away.  Brian is a highly trained Ninja Sheep. It is the quiet ones you have to watch, you know. Brian can freeze a thief at 30 paces with his trademark hypnotic stare: “These are not the skeins you are looking for…”

Yes, I think I am starting to lose my mind, but in a good way.  I will try to keep blogging whilst I’m off, but don’t feel abandoned if it goes a bit quiet.  It will mean I am happy with a brew and a hook somewhere far, far away…

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Making time to take time…

It is the long Easter weekend this week, which means only one thing.  Not chocolate, or bunnies, or biblical stories.  It means cramming a quart into a pint pot at work.  The short week leading up to Good Friday means that email is blazing with colleagues desperate to move work from their desk to yours as fast as possible before the end of the week.  All of a sudden 101 ‘urgent’ emails ping through, with a note saying that they really do need this done before the end of the week.  Plus I am planning on taking a week or so away from work to spend with family, so that means a need to shift a little bit extra too.  So Thursday saw me preparing to stay at work until everything I needed to do was done.  9.30pm, I left my office to trudge back to the car park, to drive home and collapse.

It wasn’t all bad news though.  Because I knew I would be late, I decided I would let myself have a proper lunch hour and one of my hooky friends dropped in and we chatted yarn-related nonsense for an hour.  It is her skilful hands in the picture, crocheting a favourite Magpie and Goblin sock pattern.  Her yarn, nails and jumper coordinated so beautifully that I had to take a picture.  I also need to make a pair of these socks, as I mastered the ‘magic toe’ technique on a different Magpie and Goblin pattern and now want to have a go at these babies.  I have so much sock wool in my stash (bought for shawl making) that I could do with diversifying a wee bit.

The week ended on a high for me.  I nailed Shawl Pattern number 4 ready for Shawl Club, caked my own bodyweight in yarn ready for my holiday, and then I won the most beautiful set of Unbelievawool mini skeins and some coordinating grey yarn in an online lucky dip. I really wanted that particular win, so I was dancing around the room when I got the notification through.  I felt that I was being rewarded for my late night of work.

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I already know what I am going to use some of them to make, and I want to cake them, but at the moment they are my yarn pets and are so pretty I just want to stare at them.  But I will try to take them with me as I have an idea for a pattern that will use some of them.

I have a little bit of work to do before I can really relax – I couldn’t quite get it all done – but its the sort of stuff I can nail in an evening after the small person has gone to bed. But one thing that this experiment is teaching me is to make more time for my head at work and to take a proper break in the middle of the day.  Its hard to stick to some days, but it rewards me with a clearer head when I manage it.  I get more done because I have that moment of reflection in the middle of the frenzy.

Anyway, I hope you all have a fantastic, crochet-filled holiday weekend.  For me it signals the countdown to the start of my new business on the 7th April. So everything starts to get pretty interesting now!  I can’t wait to start to share it with you.

Granny Blanket: Part 1

Following on from my last post, when I talked about what sort of yarn you will need for this blanket, here is the first stage of its construction.  You need to make five granny squares, each one consisting of seven rounds of stitches.  If you know how to do a granny square, then you don’t need to follow what is in the rest of this particular blog post, other than to note that the first two rounds will be in your first colour (in the illustration, I used a pinky-red yarn), then the next round was white, followed by a round of orange, followed by a round of white yarn, followed by a round of yellow, and finished with a final round of white.  Of course, you don’t need to use those colours, but I will refer to the colours I have used in the picture so you know where I am at in the construction of the square.

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I used a 4mm hook throughout this blanket.

UK terms are used throughout and TB = treble crochet.

ROUND 1: With pinky-red yarn, Chain 4 and slip stitch into first chain to make a circle. Chain 3 (counts as one TB) and then 2TB into circle, chain 2, 3TB into circle, chain 2, 3TB into circle, chain 2, 3TB into circle, chain 2 and slip stitch into top of chain 3 to complete the first round.

ROUND 2: Slip stitch into the top of each of the first three trebles of the row below.  Slip stitch into the chain space, and then chain 3 and 2TB into the first chain space, chain 2, 3TB into the SAME chain space as the one you have just worked. Chain 1 and 3TB into the next chain space. Chain 2 and 3TB into the SAME chain space as the one you have just worked. Chain 1 and 3TB into the next chain space. Chain 2 and 3TB into the SAME chain space as the one you have just worked. Chain 1 and 3TB into the next chain space. Chain 2 and 3TB into the SAME chain space as the one you have just worked. Chain 1 and slip stitch into the top of the chain 3 you made at the beginning of the round.  Break yarn.

ROUND 3: Join WHITE yarn to a corner chain space. Chain 3, 2TB into the chain space chain 2 and 3TB into the SAME chain space. Chain 1 and 3TB into next chain space. Chain 1 and 3TB into next chain space. Chain 2 and 3TB into the SAME chain space as the one you have just worked. Chain 1 and 3TB into next chain space. Chain 1 and 3TB. Chain 2 and 3TB into the SAME chain space as the one you have just worked. Chain 1 and 3TB into next chain space. Chain 1 and 3TB into next chain space. Chain 2 and 3TB into the SAME chain space as the one you have just worked. Chain 1 and 3TB into next chain space. Chain 1 and slip stitch into the top of the chain 3 you made at the beginning of the round.  Break yarn.

ROUND 4: Join ORANGE yarn to a corner chain space. Chain 3, 2TB into the chain space chain 2 and 3TB into the SAME chain space. (Chain 1 and 3TB into next chain space) three times. Chain 2 and 3TB into the SAME chain space as the one you have just worked. (Chain 1 and 3TB into next chain space) three times. Chain 2 and 3TB into the SAME chain space as the one you have just worked. (Chain 1 and 3TB  into next chain space) three times. Chain 2 and 3TB into the SAME chain space as the one you have just worked. (Chain 1 and 3TB into next chain space) twice. Chain 1 and slip stitch into the top of the chain 3 you made at the beginning of the round.  Break yarn.

ROUND 5: Join WHITE yarn to a corner chain space. Chain 3, 2TB into the chain space chain 2 and 3TB into the SAME chain space. (Chain 1 and 3TB into next chain space) four times.  Chain 2 and 3TB into the SAME chain space as the one you have just worked. (Chain 1 and 3TB into next chain space) four times. Chain 2 and 3TB into the SAME chain space as the one you have just worked. (Chain 1 and 3TB into next chain space) four times. Chain 2 and 3TB into the SAME chain space as the one you have just worked. (Chain 1 and 3TB into next chain space) three times. Chain 1 and slip stitch into the top of the chain 3 you made at the beginning of the round.  Break yarn.

ROUND 6: Join YELLOW yarn to a corner chain space. Chain 3, 2TB into the chain space chain 2 and 3TB into the SAME chain space. (Chain 1 and 3TB into next chain space) five times.  Chain 2 and 3TB into the SAME chain space as the one you have just worked. (Chain 1 and 3TB into next chain space) five times. Chain 2 and 3TB into the SAME chain space as the one you have just worked. (Chain 1 and 3TB into next chain space) five times. Chain 2 and 3TB into the SAME chain space as the one you have just worked. (Chain 1 and 3TB into next chain space) four times. Chain 1 and slip stitch into the top of the chain 3 you made at the beginning of the round.  Break yarn.

ROUND 7: Join WHITE yarn to a corner chain space. Chain 3, 2TB into the chain space chain 2 and 3TB into the SAME chain space. (Chain 1 and 3TB into next chain space) six times.  Chain 2 and 3TB into the SAME chain space as the one you have just worked. (Chain 1 and 3TB into next chain space) six times. Chain 2 and 3TB into the SAME chain space as the one you have just worked. (Chain 1 and 3TB into next chain space) six times. Chain 2 and 3TB into the SAME chain space as the one you have just worked. (Chain 1 and 3TB into next chain space) five times. Chain 1 and slip stitch into the top of the chain 3 you made at the beginning of the round.  Break yarn.

Make five of these squares and sew in your ends (don’t be like me and leave them all to the end – I still haven’t finished sewing in the end on my blanket, and I made it a year ago!).  You can make more if you want a wider blanket, or fewer if you want a smaller one.

I will give you a bit of time to get these done and in the next part I will explain how you use a ripple stripe to join the squares together point-to-point.  Any questions, leave me a comment and I will help!

Stashbusting

Some good news!  The other night I sat with my granny blanket and wrote down the instructions for how I engineered it so I could share them with you.  Its a big project, so I am going to split it into three or four parts, and I will even start another one of these (in a different colourway) so I can check my instructions as we go and then I can take pictures to make it a bit easier to follow my instructions. So now is your chance to use this blanket as a good excuse to stash bust!  My next blog will give Part 1 of the instructions – basically how to do the central granny squares, then I will explain how to join them using a granny ripple stripe in Part 2.  The only sewing you have to do with this is sewing in your ends.  It comes up big enough for a single bed, but you could make it double bed sized by adding two or three more granny squares to the width of it.

Anyway, now is the time to dig into your stash to find the following:

100g each of 7 different colours that you want to work with – DK weight yarn.  You don’t have to do a rainbow, but pick a set of shade of the same colour intensity or hue for them to blend nicely. The coloured yarn I used was Ice Magic, which has a nice colour variation within each coloured ball, which kept it interesting during what was quite a big make.  You could use some beautiful hand-dyed yarn for the coloured stripes if you have it in your stash, but remember you will need to find some neutral yarn in the same base for the contrast colour.

On that point, my memory tells me that I also used 6 or 7 100g balls of white acrylic DK on this blanket.  You don’t have to use white of course, as any neural-coloured yarn could work well as long as it sets the colour of your stripes off nicely.

In my stash I have a two boxes of Stylecraft Special DK which is begging to be used up so I will have a rummage tonight to pick my colours, and I will show these off on Instagram when I have picked the ones I want to use.  Use the hashtag #knackeredgrannyblanket on Instagram to show me your choices if you like!  Looking forward to starting this with you all this week.

The link to Part 1 of this make can be found here.

Lunchtime hooky…

So I am not the only yarnhead where I work. I have two colleagues who are also demon crocheters and we are trying to get into the habit of meeting up at lunchtime to crochet together and share our makes.  One of them has been pattern testing the first shawl to go into shawl club (no major issues, I am pleased to report, so that is a relief!) and the other one is going to pattern test shawls for me but is in the middle of a textured cowl using yak yarn at the moment and cannot put it down.  Anyway, lunchtime is now a bit of an oasis in what can be some very long days, and a good excuse to turn away from the computer screen and have a non-work related conversation.  We have made a pact to go to Fibre East this year  and already getting giddy at the prospect as last year we had perfect weather on the day we went and we are hoping for a repeat.

I love these women.  One of them is responsible for teaching me to crochet in the first place, so she has a lot to answer for.  The other is great fun as we send each other pictures of our latest hand-dyed purchases when we get home, and we egg each other on to make completely unjustifiable yarn purchases when we are stressed.  We all need a friend like that, right?

Anyway, I am busy experimenting with my pattern for Shawl #4, which I have a concept for and its working from a technical point of view but I am not sure whether I love it yet. The other shawls so far have been more open / lacy and this one is more of a solid looking shawlette, and I am worried that people will have reservations about it.  The colours pictured here are not the ones that I will eventually be using for the finished shawl, I just needed to grab a couple of skeins from my stash to play with and these seemed to fit the bill.  They are pretty though – the one on the right is a King Becky pixel yarn (colourway – Soma) and it is lovely to work with.  I will probably keep this for me regardless of whether the finished product ends up in shawl club but we will see.  I will have a think about whether I can make it a bit more open without messing up the main concept too much.  I have an idea, but I just need to play with it a bit more.

What’s my style?

Well, it has been a very exciting couple of days, and I am so thrilled with the response to shawl club.  The best thing about it has been the enthusiasm for it given that I am a new pattern designer and I haven’t yet put too many examples of my own patterns up on the blog, so people are trusting in me to give them some interesting projects.  One question that has come up is “What is your style?”  Its a great question, and one that I have been thinking about a lot since I was asked it.

I guess at the moment I have more of a set of guiding principles that influence my design choices, rather than an overriding style, which I suspect will become apparent as time progresses.  So here they are:

  1.  Simplicity: I enjoy the act of crocheting and I have made so many shawls since I became addicted that I have learned that I prefer patterns that are simple enough that they are not stressful to produce (easy to remember repeats of stitches), but that have enough variation in them to keep them interesting.  I get frustrated with lots of hook changes, or with patterns that are very strict about gauge, as they take the relaxation out of crocheting for me.  I admire these patterns as they usually look amazing, but they aren’t me, or at least they aren’t me at the moment anyway.
  2. Practicality: I love a make that gets used.  So the shawls have to be practical and wearable.  I have made sure that there are lots of different shaped shawls in shawl club to suit different tastes and styles, but all of them can be worn out without fear of people pointing and laughing at you.
  3. Colour: A (knitter) friend of mine has a joke about crocheters having an inexplicable love of ‘clown vomit’ yarns.  By this she means the sort of bright and clashing colour combinations that look great in the stitch but offend against Principle Number Two (i.e. people not pointing and laughing).  I have favourite colours of course (see picture above) but I like colour combinations and contrasts that are harmonious.  I do like the odd riot of colour, and I love vibrant colours, but this is tempered by a desire to put together a more restricted and complementary set of colour combinations.  So having experimented with clown vomit in the past, I have now moved down the road towards more restricted colour combinations, with a preference for jewel tones and colours inspired by nature.
  4.  Comfort: A shawl should be a comfort to wear – a great big yarn-y hug.

I hope this helps those of you who are trying to get a sense of what you might expect from shawl club.  I am really enjoying making them at the moment – I hope that you will enjoy them too!

A one-skein make…

So this weekend I promised my Instagram followers that I would put up some instructions on how to make this very pretty, and very simple scarf / cowl, which uses up one skein of sock or DK weight yarn, depending on what you have in your stash and how long you want it to be.  I have made it quite a lot, and I am making it again at the moment which has given me the chance to take some pictures as I go so you can see how I made it.  This picture above is a version I made in a Lollipop Guild sock yarn (merino).  I have also made it in sock weight merino / bamboo mix, and it is lovely and soft and cosy for a lightweight scarf (see below).

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The yarn in this picture was from Jo.Knit.Sew, who makes cracking yarns and the colour pooling on this project was the best I have seen, forming a spontaneous zig zag pattern!

At the moment I am making it with a merino / silk mix yarn, again from Lollipop Guild Yarns (called Snow Angel if you want the colour way!).

So, this is how to make it…

If you are working with sock, use a 4mm hook.  If you are using DK I would suggest a 5mm hook, but you might want to play around with it until you get the texture and drape you want, as I tend not to block these scarves.

Chain 34.  (If you want to adjust the width, either add or subtract in multiples of 3 to this number).

Row 1. Treble (UK Term), into the 4th chain from hook, chain 2, and double crochet (UK Term) into the same space.  *Skip 2 chains, then treble twice into the next stitch, chain 2, and then double crochet once into the same stitch**.  Repeat from * to ** to end of chain.  Turn.

Row 2. Chain 3, treble into the chain 2 space in the row below, chain 2 and then double crochet into the same chain 2 space of the shell in the row below…  

*Treble into the next chain 2 space twice, chain 2, then double crochet once into the same space**.  Repeat from * to ** to end.

Then you just repeat this last row (I have put the row in bold to make it clear which row I mean) over and over until the scarf is the length you want. You will end up with a really pretty scalloped edge to the length of the work.

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It is your choice whether to leave it as a scarf or sew the short ends together to make a cowl-type scarf.  Sew in your ends and admire your work!

Let me know how you get on.