Nothing clashes in nature…

I am experiencing the rather odd sensation of starting my blog during the early evening rather than at the dead of night.  This is because, in a random act of good mummy-ing (not a regular feature of my life, although it is a daily aspiration), I took my daughter to the swimming pool and then to the park.  It is a warm day, and so the combination of all these things has resulted in the small one crashing early; what I had assumed would be a nap is now looking like it will be her night sleep too.

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So, here I sit, rather disorientated if I am honest.  I have been working on a circular blanket as a thank you gift for my daughter’s nursery, but I have run out of yellow yarn and so I have had to put that WIP down for now.  I wandered out into my overgrown garden (it is too hot to start weeding) and started taking some pictures for inspiration.  That is, sometimes you can get stuck in a colour rut.  As much as I love rainbows and ombre colour schemes, they can get tired sometimes, and I also have a tendency to gravitate to the same colours time and again. So, it is nice to go a bit crazy and put some different colours together occasionally.  I love the way you can get a mundane colour to pop or to take on a new look by changing the colours they are combined with. Colours I wouldn’t necessarily  go for on paper can look amazing when used in the right proportions together.

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My garden provides masses of inspiration for this.  It is wild this time of year, with lots of self-seeded flowers mixed in with the intentional planting. I can take credit for none of it, as I inherited it from the previous owner of our house.  It is far from formal, especially as I don’t get as much time to tidy it up as I would like, but somehow it works for me.

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Shawl number 3 from Shawl Club has gone up on Ravelry (blog post reveal to follow), and the yarn is being mailed out by Unbelievawool tomorrow morning.  It has also been inspired by one of the flowers that self-seeds itself though my garden, but that I have a real soft spot for.  The yarn I used for the Ravelry pictures was an early play with colours which we were not entirely happy with, but the final club yarn is a wowzer, and should look amazing.

Anyway, the colours in my garden have succeeded in giving me some ideas this evening.  That is, I have some ideas for new projects that I want to test and develop over the summer whilst I have some downtime from the day job.  I was rummaging and re-rummaging though my drawers of yarn earlier and couldn’t decide what to do.  But a little wander through my garden has done the trick.  Now I just need a little time to play.

Somewhat appropriately for the remembrance activities this week, I also found these stray red poppies growing in the gravel of my path.  Lest we forget.

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Meeting a Sculptural Crocheter

This Sunday I went down to the Westbury Arts Centre as part of Bucks Open Studios which is running this month.  Its a great chance to nosey around the studios of artists of all kinds and be inspired by what they create.  This includes textiles and fibre artists.  At Westbury there is an artist called Helen Den Dulk who creates large scale sculptural pieces with crochet and knitting.  She creates fantastic wall hangings with crochet which throw shapes and shadows onto the walls which become part of the finished effect.  She recycles and hand dyes some of her raw materials.  She kindly allowed me to photograph some of her work to show you on this blog.

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This one is reminiscent of a sea creature / Dr Who monster and was big enough that my four-year-old could have rested in it! I love the way it pools onto the floor.

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This next one I have a strange affection for because she used Drops yarn, bought from Wool Warehouse, in it.  The ‘brickwork’ is knitted in stocking stitch. It’s special to see something so striking made out of something we would all use for our more traditional makes.

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In this one Helen crocheted around the flex of some fairy lights to create the spirals, which are then lit up by the lights embedded in the work.

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Hanging spiral and circular forms recur in Helen’s work and are strangely hypnotic.

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The open studios are open again this weekend coming.  Do go along if you live in or near Buckinghamshire – there are so many places you can visit, but at Westbury you can see many artists all in one place.  And they do a nice cup of tea too.

Doing it for the kids…

Its been a while since my last post.  It has been super hectic at knackeredpsycho HQ, such that I had to take a bit of bed rest at one point to catch up on sleep!  The day job is crazy busy until the end of July, and so my precious hooky time is being sidelined at the moment.  And my obsession with knitting socks as a way of destashing has also meant that the time I have had has been spent with the pointy sticks rather than my hooks.  But come August I plan to bury myself in yarn and work up all the designs I have been scribbling down on bits of paper.  I have some plans for a little set of children’s items which I will share with you as they develop.  All my shawl club bits I have had to keep under wraps, but I am looking forward to sharing some more of my projects with you as they develop.

The other things that are keeping me busy include the need for me to make a special blanket for my daughter’s nursery as a thank you before she leaves this summer, and to make lots of cute baby things as one of my friends is expecting her first baby and its a good excuse to produce lots of very quick makes.  The added bonus is that these makes have to be in a practical yarn, and so I get to use up some of my nicer acrylic yarn as part of Project Destash.

I cannot show you my friend’s gifts as she reads this blog (!), but I thought I would show you some of my favourite baby and small child makes from the last year.  Firstly, I love to make blankets, and these are firm favourites.  This was my first star blanket, which used baby soft merino DK and was for a newborn.  When I had my daughter most of the blankets I was given were too large to tuck around her in her car seat.  This one is the perfect size.  It used up yarn left over from a Peppa Pig jumper I had knitted for my daughter, which is why the colours are a little unusual, but putting them in this order really made each colour pop and I loved the final effect!

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My go-to cot blanket is a shrunk down version of an Attic 24 cosy stripe blanket.  If you begin with a starting chain of 120 it comes up the perfect width.  For baby versions I prefer to use a neutral on the ‘plain’ rows and a variegated yarn in the granny treble rows, like this one I made using left over Ice Yarn:

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At Christmas I was asked to make an owl themed blanket for a friend’s sister-in-law.  I used The Hat and I’s pattern for this one, and added the lettering using the Moogly Alphabet patterns.

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Clothes are always fun for little people.  Last year we were stuck in a traffic jam and I made this circular cardigan for my daughter in the time I was trapped in the car (we missed our ferry to Ireland, so I had extra hooky time).  The yarn was King Cole Riot, but my little one found it a bit too scratchy to wear, so I would make it in a cotton or bamboo for her next time.  But this was so quick and easy to make and I loved the final effect.  The pattern was a free one from Drops yarn, found on Ravelry, but there are lots of similar ones out there too.

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In terms of hats, I like this, the Little Sister hat, without the flower.  This one is worked in some left over merino sock yarn from Fleabubs (the Scientist was the colourway).  It can look girly but in this yarn I think it works for a newborn of either gender.

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You can see that I like to use strong colours with little people – something that will hide the messes but that make a really nice statement piece.  I am toying with making a very special little set in honour of my friend’s baby, and as soon as I have done it I will share it with you here as a free pattern.  I just need to put the socks down long enough to make it!

 

Stop the world…

I am exhausted. Again. I am also going through one of those phases where nothing seems to be going to plan on any front.  I am not particularly prone to melancholy, but when life gets this overwhelming, I just want to hit rock bottom and stay there. It’s not quite a matter of feeling sorry for myself, more just a strong sense of being sorry – of wanting to apologise to everyone and everything for all that I have failed to do.  The only thing I find I can do is to take myself away from everything, and focus on the stitch-by-stitch repetition of making something for someone. It is a bit like making a peace offering, but it is more to do with making peace with myself than with trying to please someone else.  After all, when I feel like this, I don’t feel like I can really please anyone anyway.  This is more about reminding myself that I am actually capable of something positive.

So it is a little bit ironic, or appropriate (depending on your viewpoint), that I recently received a Well Being yarn box from Fleabubs, and a skein of yarn from Lollipop Guild Yarns called ‘Dance your cares away’.  They were the last of my yarn clubs before I cancelled them, and they are beautiful. I want to make them into beautiful things, and they inspire me. I just wish I had more time to work with them.

On a more positive note, shawl number 2 should arrive with shawl clubbers this week.  I have been so delighted with the reaction to the Thank You Shawl that I am a little bit nervous about whether the next one will go down as well.  That said, I love it and I have made several versions of it that I wear a lot, so I know it works, but whether it is quite what people are expecting…I just don’t know.  I really hope it proves to be popular. I will put a post up about it when the reveal time comes to tell you a bit about its development.

I will try to get another post up this weekend but I am preparing for a work trip that currently has me numb with fear.  I might have to cake one of these beauties to come with me and keep me company on my travels.  They will give me the peace I need to think clearly and push through this next bit of stuff. A bit of yarn meditation is in order…

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I love Eurovision.  Bear with me.  I know this doesn’t look crochet-related, but it is.

Eurovision has been one of the highlights of my year, along with World’s Strongest Man at Christmas time, ever since I was small.  I love the highly variable quality of the music, the gimmicks, the crazy costumes, the inappropriate commentary, the hope during voting, the devastation when we are marked poorly, and (vary rarely) the joy when we do well.  It has a personal significance because the last time the UK won it (1997, in case you were wondering) also marked the evening when my OH and I had our first date.  So it also operates as our official anniversary.

Sometimes we have a party, but more often we just get in food which is roughly representative of the various nations participating, put it on the table in the living room, and go on a culinary journey around the world, as well as a musical one.

I feel the need to celebrate Eurovision this year with something suitably tacky-retro to crochet whilst I am watching it.  For me, it is so closely associated with the 70s and 80s that I decided to pick out a quick stashbusting make out of these vintage pattern books that I bought a while ago.

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My mum used to have patterns like these when I was a child, but they were given away before I could acquire them.  But what to make?  I am leaning towards a retro tea cosy, or perhaps a toilet roll cover, as some of the costumes worn this year do remind me of one of those crocheted dolls that you used to find at your friend’s house, dressing up the toilet rolls.

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But I think a tea cosy is more me.  Tea and Eurovision are life essentials.  So I think I will go with this one.

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I also have an idea in my head for my own retro take on a peg bag, as I need a new one and I have loads of acrylic to use up.  If I get to make it this weekend I will pop it up here as a quick make, along with my other free patterns.  And speaking of quick makes, I haven’t forgotten about the next part of the retro blanket.  So make sure you are up to Part 2 as Part 3 will be along soon!

 

Wonderful Wonderwool

Well, this weekend just past I was able to go to Wonderwool in Wales.  One of my work friends decided about a week ago that she needed a yarn fix and had saved up her pennies, and so I felt it was rude not to go with her.  It was also a chance to see my thank you shawl and the bobble wrap displayed in all their glory on the Unbelieva-wool stand, and I was very proud to see them there in amongst the other wonderful shawls.

Wonderwool was brilliant.  We went on Sunday, and we were thrilled to find that it was busy but not too crowded, and that plenty of space had been allocated to the stalls so that you could see what goodies they had, and chat with the stall holders.  Everyone was so nice, and we felt very welcome.  There were plenty of places to sit and take refreshments (Knitting and Stitch Show, please take note) and lots to see.  And the sun shone! We had the best time.

Something very strange happened to me at Wonderwool.  I found myself drawn to knitting projects.  Knitting.  Pointy sticks and all that.  And not just any knitting but knitted shawls.  I bought the kit to make the Lulworth shawl pattern in purples and greys (it is beyond beautiful), and the yarn and pattern for the Festival Shawl by Caerthan Wrack using the grey and wine red DK pictured above.  And a pattern for knitted ‘slox‘ by Rosebuds and Rainbows which was just what I was looking for.  But the sudden urge to knit shawls has taken me by surprise.  I learned to knit many years ago, so I can do it, but I am so impatient and clumsy that I limit myself to small and simple projects.  I just just about do intarsia work, but even that is far from perfect.  The idea of knitting shawls has always sent shivers down my spine.  But these shawls were special, and perhaps I have OD-ed on crocheted shawls with all the shawl club activity!  So I am looking forward to getting stuck into them as a special project, but I need to keep up with my crochet work at the same time.  Happily, work is motivating me to do a lot of yarn related activity at the moment (i.e. it is horrible and stressful) and so I am whizzing through projects.

So, I treated myself to a Doctor Who project bag for my new knitting projects (Welsh memorabilia).  And on the way out we sort of fell in love with the 25g mini skeins of DK dyed by Moonlight yarns in the nicest shade of soft purple/grey I have seen in a long time.  Happily my companion had already spent all her cash by the time we spotted them, so they had to come home with me.  Watch this space for their reappearance in a project near you soon!

Starting to gain momentum.

The last few days have been great as this experiment continues.  The hand warmer pattern that I put on Ravelry has received good interest and steady downloads from a (surprising) range of countries and I couldn’t have hoped for more.  I will try to write a hat pattern too and pop that up as another freebie soon.  But tonight I have finally typed up the Moo-Ra dress pattern and I am going to test it, along with a friend who has a daughter about the same age as my own.  I have been quite buoyed by the number of hits the photograph of that dress has had since the blog started.  Tonight I went to fetch the skein of pima cotton I was going to use for it, only to find that its DK and therefore I wouldn’t have enough yarn for the skirt.  So I have found some unused red bamboo yarn that I can use for the top section, and I am going to use the blue, purple and red yarn pictured above for the skirt.  Both of those are from Lollipop Guild Yarns, and they work well with red and plum coloured mini-skeins I had in my stash from Rosie’s Moments.  Even though the yarns are a bit of a mix and match, I think they will work well and I love the colours.  Next time you see them, should be on the final version of the pattern, all being well.

Lost and found, old and new.

Well, I had the best of intentions this weekend, and I did achieve something – the extra special project I was working on I managed to finish in double quick time and so that was something good.  Then I searched about for the notebook with the Moo-Ra dress pattern in.  I cannot find it anywhere.  My house is pretty disorganised so I think I am going to have to try to re-engineer the pattern, which will take a bit more time than I had planned. But I really wanted to upload a pattern of my own here, and so I typed up a pattern for fingerless mittens that I had in an old notebook and I made the big step of adding it to Ravelry as a free pattern.  Even though its a very simple pattern, its a big psychological step for me to set myself up as a designer on Ravelry.  And there has been some nice interest in the pattern too, even though it has only been up for a few hours, so I am very proud of that.

I did find other notebooks, with scribbles and sketches in, including some ideas I had forgotten about but were sketched on trains to business meetings and similar.  And that has given me confidence too – confidence that I will have enough ideas to enable this to grow, a little at a time.

I also had some wonderful peer support this weekend, which I am very grateful for.  So I have plans for a little thank you for that person, but more of that in due course.  This transition is starting to feel like the right thing to do – a natural next step rather than a leap of faith.

Monday night update…

I have found the missing notebook!!!  Much happiness (as ever, it was hiding in plain sight) and so now I need to type it up and test the pattern to make sure it still works.  I have some amazing pima cotton from Lollipop Guild Yarns that I have been saving to use on Moo-Ra number 2, along with some other cotton that a friend gave to me, so its time to crack on and see how the new colourway works out.

That Friday feeling…

It’s Friday, and I have that feeling of:

  • panic, because the week is nearly over and I have achieved only a fraction of what I needed to at work;
  • relief, because the week is nearly over, and I can legitimately ignore work in a few hours;
  • tiredness, of the kind that cuts through your bones and makes your head feel like it contains mashed potato (and the instant variety at that).

I also feel excited, because I have decided that this weekend I am going to write up some of my old patterns so that I can start to share them with you. Or at least try to.  The reason for my lack of conviction here is because I also have the following WiPs on the go:

  • Attic24 cosy blanket in rainbow colours;
  • Two versions of a new wrap I am in the middle of designing;
  • A pinwheel blanket made with yarn dyed by Dye Candy and Truly Hooked as part of a joint yarn club they have been running.

And I have a new project to start tonight, which needs to take priority over all of them, because it isn’t for me.  And I am excited about that too.

So finding time to decipher old notes and write them up and make them look pretty may be a bit of an ask, to be honest!  But I promise I will do my best.

Behind the scenes…

At the moment there is so much I want to share with you but I can’t.  Last night I came home to two boxes of yarn – one by the amazing Dye Candy, and the other by Unbelievawool.  As is the etiquette of yarn clubs, I am not going to post pictures of what was in the boxes until everyone who subscribes to them has had a chance to receive theirs, otherwise it spoils the surprise.  But I will, when the coast is clear.

So instead I have been caking a lot of yarn ready for some projects.  I am busy designing some bits and pieces, and going through my old note books to type up designs that I wrote a while back but haven’t done anything with.  Soon they will be on Ravelry, if I can get my act together, but I want to wait until I have a few different sorts of things to upload, so that there is a bit of variety. They will be crocheted, just because my knitting skills, although longer established, are not as great as my crochet ones.  For me, crochet is like sketching freehand, whereas knitting is like drawing with an Etch-a-Sketch!  And I still struggle with some aspects of shaping knitted things.  So for now I am sticking to what I am good at.  I am also going to upload a tutorial on beading, as that seems to be something folk really like about the things I make.  I am going to upload more images to the archive section of this site soon, so you can browse what I have made in the past.  I am open to suggestions re what sort of things you would like me to try my hand at making, so feel free to leave a comment!