Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Giveaway Winner!

Last month I bought a second skein of this lovely yarn not realising I had bought one not long before. You can see all the details on my giveaway post. Today I am announcing the winner as promised.

I was too lazy to do the names in a hat and so used a number generator instead and so the winner of this yarn is Sam from For the Love of Yarnigans group. Sam had said she would knit her first pair of socks. Sam, I will send you a copy of my basic pattern along with it just incase you decide to go ahead with that plan. You never know, you might be inspired to do something else once it's in your hands. Can't wait to see it all knitted up.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Sister's Easter Socks #2

I finally finished my sister's second pair of Easter socks. I had planned all along that I would knit her a pair of the Jaywalker socks. As you may remember I knitted myself a pair for Christmas and I have been itching to knit another pair.  I just love the way it stripes. I'm not going to go into details about the pattern as I have done that before. Just click on that link and it will take you to it.

I used a yarn I bought a while back from Lisa of For the Love of Yarn. Again, I bought this yarn specifically for my sister. She likes cookie colour combinations (the artist in her) but she likes pretty too and I think this falls into the pretty category. She's not a girly girl (or at least she says she's not) but she does like pink. I like the subtle shades of grey through it and it actually is very like the blue and grey I used for my own pair. The colour way for this is called Rouge Grey and as always the yarn is beautiful to knit with.

Once again I think the pattern of the socks shows off the striping of the yarn beautifully. I don't think I will every get bored of  knitting these and I am actually tempted to try them again with another indie dyed sock yarn. Just to see how that turns out. The pooling isn't as precise as this once the heel is turned. This is due to the fact that the pattern only runs for the instep rather than the sole of the sock. On my socks it just meant for larger stripes but it didn't quite turn out that way for my sister. It's hard to see the effect it would have due to the fact that my sister has tiny feet. Still pretty though and I think my sister will like them.

Lisa has closed her books on her orders for now as her little boy was taken into hospital last night. Please everyone send out all your thoughts to Lisa and her family and especially to brave Callum.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Just a Reminder

 So today I was supposed to be posting about my sister's second pair of Easter socks. This is a case of don't count your chickens because I am only half way through the second sock. Night shift, flat viewing and a little bit of frogging have all meant that I was a little optimistic with finish time. Instead I leave you with what was meant to be Monday's post. Which is a reminder.

I am reminding you of the yarn that I am giving away. The yarn that I bought twice through pure greed or absent mindedness. You can pick which. Either way I was left with a second skein of identical yarn which gave me the opportunity to give one away. It's a sock yarn called Elf Cup and is by Orange Jellyfish Dream. By the way, she is having a 1 year anniversary sale.

It's beautiful to knit with and this is what my skein looked like once I knitted it up. They have become one of my favourite pairs of socks simply because of that striking blue through the pale stone colour. The deadline is next Wednesday when I will be announcing the winner in the afternoon. In order to take part just leave a comment on my original giveaway post which you will find here. Good luck!

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Mum's Garden March 2016

I have decided that each month I am going to bore you with images from my mum's garden. I'm getting excited over the fact that things that I have planted are now growing and so I want to share. I have a feeling that even when I move I will be over regularly to try to maintain it. The crocuses I can't take any credit for my mum must have planted these although I don't remember them being in bloom last year. These purple ones and the snowdrop were hidden under a shrub. I just missed an image of a large bee in the centre of the flower to the right. Obviously, it heard me coming.

This solitary white crocus was next to the fence amid a host of purple. I think it stands out all the more because of it. I think during the autumn I will have to plant more bulbs for next year.7

Do you remember my mum's tulips last year? My mum bought the bulbs in Amsterdam and the blooms were beautiful. With some advice I tried to rescue the bulbs to use again so that they would bloom this year. I didn't plant them and I thought for sure they would need binning. When I went into the shed to get out the tools I looked and saw that the bulbs were starting to sprout. I popped some of them into a pot with some fresh soil to see what would happen.

They started to grow! It doesn't seem like a lot in this image but this was taken a couple of weeks ago. The leaves are much more prominent now and taller. I hope they flower as well as they did last year. It will be interesting to see. I can't wait for colour to return to mum's garden again.

These were bulbs that I planted last year. I have no idea what they are. I just remember that they didn't grow. Well, they are growing now and I look froward to seeing what they become.

I also planted some seeds to grow on the window ledge before they are ready for outdoors. The petunia's weren't one of them. It's still too early for them, next month I think. I planted the two beneath which are Atirrhinum's and Dahlia's. Dahlia's will attract the bees.

Which is good since they are the ones which have started to sprout. No sign of the other pots sprouting but there is still time.

I bought and planted some other bulbs. I planted Lily's and Peacock Orchids to the front of the garden as it seems a little bare of colour just now. My mum loved the Lily's and I liked the little white flower of the Orchids. No sunflowers this year so there will be plenty of space. I picked the Dahlia's for it's deep red colour.

I couldn't resist this little heather shrub. Our other Heather shrub is looking a little worn and this is brightening up the place already. Hopefully it will do okay. I don't have much luck with plants that are already grown.

I also decided to expand my mum's rockery and added a few more plants to it. This is my favourite. It's called a Primula Victoriana Gold Lace. I am hoping this one will thrive (still waiting for the heather I planted to make any sort of an appearance).

There are already a lot of yellow flowers in the rockery so I picked this Mossy Saxifrage. I like it for it's star shaped flowers.

 Last but not least, this little plant is an Aubrieta. The blooms should be a deep pink. I think it looks rather interesting as it is. Fingers crossed the survive my dad. I am sure I mentioned before that when my mum first planted her rockery my dad came in all pleased with himself. Said that he had got rid of all the weeds from the side. Those weeds were my mum's rockery plants which had just been planted that day.

Some of the other rockery plants are growing back with the spring with a few crocuses among them. My dad asked if I was going to get rid of the bits (his words) round the purple flowers. He has since been warned to leave them well alone. Especially since little yellow flowers have begun to appear.

Finally I leave you with my favourite image of one of those purple crocuses. To the left of the flower you will see little shoots of green peeking into the photo belonging to one of the plants my dad felt should be destroyed.

Monday, 21 March 2016

March WIP

The shawl is back out. I finally went back and fixed the mistake. I contemplated not doing it. It was only half a row but I would see it in the pattern. Not worth the irritation. I then finished the last few rows of the pattern and started picking up stitches for the border. I was so excited. Then I realised I was going to be short of stitches. Back to the instructions I went to discover I had another whole repeat of the pattern and then another repeat less three rows. To say that I was annoyed at myself is putting it mildly. Thankfully you don't break the yarn before starting the pick up for the border. It was just a case of taking out those stitches and going back to knitting the pattern. Which I did and I am half way through that first repeat. I will get this finished yet!

I took a break from the shawl to get a start on my sister's Easter presents. This year she is only getting two pairs of socks. I was planning on finishing her hexie cushion too but since Easter is this Sunday that ship has sailed. Two pairs of socks and a bag of chocolate and goodies. I'm sure she will still be delighted. Her second pair of socks is the Jaywalker pattern and I used For the love of Yarn sock yarn. Very fitting with Spring. I will give more details and link everything when I finish them.

Does planting count as an WIP? I did some planting last week. I have little seedlings on the kitchen window ledge and I will be able to plant them in the garden next month. I actually have a monthly update on my mum's garden so I won't say much more than that for now.

Since yesterday was the first day of Spring I will leave you with this image of an open crocus. There was a bee in there but it disappeared by the time I got my camera out.

Friday, 18 March 2016

March Stash

I think this month is a little bit tamer than previous months....maybe. Remember my fibreshare swap partner Jillian? I mentioned in that post that she hand dyed her own yarn and I couldn't resist trying them when I saw all the wonderful colours. All of her yarns have a rainbow theme and who doesn't love a rainbow? Her etsy page is called Mothy and the Squid. All her yarns are beautifully bright and I guarantee you will find something different.

I picked out two of her yarns and took advantage of the lovely sunshine we had to photograph them. This one is called Speckled Rainbow and is a Merino Nylon blend. I loved the speckled effect of the yarn which is why I chose it. It was a little different from all the solid rainbow colours. I can see myself knitting up this for my sister during the summer.

She also does a series of yarn colours based on the sky which I love. It has this little spectrum of rainbow and the rest is inspired by the sky which means a whole range of shades of blue. This particular one is actually inspired by the sea and is called Stormy Seas Rainbow. I was going to go for one of the sky range but then I saw this which just happens to be my favourite colour. I will definitely be knitting this up in the basic sock pattern as I want to see the full effect of the yarn. As I said she has a whole range of these and it's worth checking out.

I was also lucky enough to receive these stitch markers along with my purchase. As you know I have a stitch marker obsessions and I love having these in my collection. I particularly like the little squids. I also like the little latch hooks.

When do I not have one of these posts and not have something from Lisa of For the Love of Yarn. The answer is NEVER! This is one of the latest ranges from Lisa and this kit is called a Dip Dying hat kit. You crochet the hat following the pattern and then you get to dip dye your hat with colours you have picked out. I am super excited about this and a little nervous as this will be my first time dying anything. This will wait until I have my new flat though as I have a feeling my dad will not thank me for doing this in his relatively newly painted kitchen.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Knitlandia by Clara Parkes - Book Review

How often do you hear about a knitting book which doesn't contain any knitting patterns? Or isn't a manual on instructions or technique? Other than Stephenie Pearl-McPhee (aka Yarn Harlot) it's a rarity. However, this is what we have here. It contains all of my favourite things; knitting chat, yarn chat and travel chat. This in fact is a travel writing book for those who love yarn. Clara Parkes is no stranger to journalistic style writing. In fact this isn't even her first book but it is the first one that I have read.

Parkes is a yarn enthusiast and this is about her travels as she passes on her knowledge to others while occasionally learning herself. The book mainly sees Parke travelling around the U.S but occasionally she finds herself in Europe including our very own Edinburgh Yarn Festival. Reading this I honestly don't know which to be most jealous of. The travel, the people she teaches, the well known knittery names she befriends or all the yarn she gets to purchase at these wonderful events.

Actually I am jealous of all of it. I would love to go to these events and write about them. I would love to attend all of the classes. I would have loved to have gone to the big sock event organised by the Yarn Harlot which is alas no more. Imagine a whole weekend dedicated to sock knitting.

It also gave great insight into famous knitters/designers such as Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, Stephen West and the ravelry founders (to name but a few). I also discovered other designer's many of whom are based here in the UK. For all of these reasons I very much enjoyed reading this book (and forgave her for describing the new hand-dyed sock yarn as clown vomit). So if you are strong enough not to be overwhelmed by feelings of envy then I highly recommend you read this.

You can find Ms Parkes around the net. She is the founder of online magazine Knitter's Review. She also has her own website called Clara Parkes.

Monday, 14 March 2016

March Socks - Bare Naked Lacy Socks

I am actually a little sad that my March socks are finished. I loved knitting these. It took me a while to decide on which pattern to use. The few that I had my heart set on required a contrasting yarn and I didn't have anything that would work well together (other than a few things that I have earmarked for other projects). So it was back to the drawing board or rather my iPad library for that one. As for the yarn that was easy in the end and I actually picked that out first.

Since I am giving away a skein of Elf Cup by Orange Jellyfish Dream it seemed only right that I used the first skein so that people can see what it looks like knitted up. The yarn is a superwash merino/nylon blend. It feels lovely and has those beautiful dark flecks through it. The bulk of the yarn is a pale shade of stone and contains a short stripe of teal/blue through out. It makes a sharp contrast and the blue highlights the loveliness of the stone. They work well together and I can't stop staring at my socks now that they are finished.

The pattern itself is called Bare Naked Lacy Socks and is by Nancy Degener. The pattern can be found on ravelry. If you go to the pattern you will notice that I have made some changes. I hate knitting picot edgings although I will do it if I feel it compliments the sock. In this case I decided it didn't really matter and in fact I prefer my sock with the ribbed cuff. I also didn't do the star toe which in hindsight might have made for a better shape. I do like that Kitchener stitch though and I automatically do that one.

I'm not sure that the pattern entirely compliments the yarn. I think it would have been better with a solid or speckled yarn. More for the sake of the yarn itself rather than the pattern. I now think I would have liked to see what it looked like in a basic sock. However, I was determined not to do two basics socks in a row. I think the pooling of the colour would also have went better had I gone for a short row heel.

Despite that it's my favourite sock to date but again it has more to do with the yarn than the pattern. If you fancy having a go at the patter it's actually quite an easy one. The lace pattern is a four round repeat and it isn't particularly complex for lace but it is effective. If you don't want to do the picot edging you can skip that and do 14 rounds of knit 1, purl 1 like me.

Lastly, you can still sign up for the second skein of this yarn. I won't be announcing the winner until the 31st March. You just have to leave a comment on the linked post to let me know that you are interested. Be aware that I filter the comments due to spam so it might not appear straight away.

Friday, 11 March 2016

What's New In March

I am a little late with this one. I should have posted about this last month. Truth is I didn't realise how big a deal this was until recently. It's a huge event in the yarn world and this is only it's third year. Three days of classes from famous designers and teachers as well as a market with all your favourite yarns and designers. I am extremely envious of anyone who is going. It's actually very similar to the one I went to in Stirling at the start of my blog. It was called Knit Camp and I did a class in fair isle with Liz Lovick and another class with Jared Flood (one of my favourite designers).  There were a lot of problems in the organisation (where teachers had problems getting into the country) and they didn't do another one. The Edinburgh Yarn Festival has had no such problems and so many more classes that I would have had trouble restricting myself. Next year people! Next year! I have signed myself up to their mailing list so that I won't miss it again. This year, I will be working. If any of you who are going want to share your experiences here please do and I will try not to turn green with envy.

Brioche is a thing and I don't mean the bread. I mean the knitting stitch and I love it. I have loaded several patterns from ravelry and I have a plan to knit some of them. Brioche was initially made popular by designer Nancy Marchant. You can see her beautiful designs on website Brioche Stitch. It involves knitting with two contrasting yarns and you create this beautiful raised pattern. This has since grown and Stephen West of WestKnits has run with it. American born designer has lots of beautiful patterns based on this stitch. I have a few and ordered his most recent collection Bundled in Brioche. It's been fun getting updates when a new pattern has been loaded on to it. The above image is actually from another collection that I also have in my library. This is by Knit Graffiti a designer I came across thanks to Instagram. The good thing about these designs is that they look fantastic with a variegated yarn and a contrasting solid colour.

 Wool and the Gang is a company I came across via Instagram (Instagram has a lot to answer to). It was started by textile designers who were fed up with factory reproductions in fashion. They wanted to help encourage individuality in fashion and this is how it came about. You should go to their About page and read more on it. It makes for an interesting read. It appealed to me because of the images of chunky knits and their pop up stores in London over the Christmas period. I haven't purchased any of their yarn but heard only good things about it. Would be interested though to hear if any of you have knitted with their yarn.

Lastly I leave you with one for those who love crochet and colour. This person isn't selling anything. She doesn't appear to have a blog or facebook page or even and etsy page. Instead she shares beautiful images of her work. I have long been an admirer of her beautiful work and her colour choices. It isn't often that I don't ooh and ahh over her images. She's another person that I found thanks to Instagram.

Apart from that last one you can find all of the above list in one of my pages. Either Craft Blogs, Craft tutorials (brioche) or Craft Shopping. In fact I have created a section for events on the blogs page just for the yarn festival and yarndale.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Willow Square Blanket

 I am so excited about showing this off.  I started this well over a year ago. Probably two years ago but I took a year out from it. I picked it back up again three weeks ago and it is now finished. The longest part being the border.

These are the colours I plan for my bedroom when I get my new home and this blanket is in preparation for that. I can't wait to see it on my new bed. I have actually used it already, briefly. Couldn't help myself but it's now safely stowed away until it gets a new home.

I used the Willow Square from Jan Eaton's 200 Crochet Blocks. I reviewed this book previously. It's a pretty square and it's versatile. I have seen it done in just one colour or several colour combinations. It looks good each time and it looks different each time. If you are experienced at crochet it's not that difficult to do. Having said that, when I went back to it three weeks ago I had great difficulty with one of the rounds. Couldn't get it to work out at all. I had to go to my blanket and look at how I had done the squares before and use that rather than the book. After joining together a line of squares and starting to join it to the main blanket I realised I had missed out a round on all these new square. It just meant I had to undo the joining and then add the missing round. I didn't have that problem the first time. This is what I get for setting it aside so long.

I don't have an image of the yarn. I didn't think to do that when I first started this. The yarn is a 4ply by the Women's Institute which is exclusive to Hobbycraft. Even though it's an acrylic based yarn it has a silky smoothness to it and a slight shimmer. It's lovely to work with although a little bit splitty like cotton. Otherwise it's lovely to work with and worth it for those colours. I used a 4mm hook and the squares came out a decent size. The blanket is 12 by 12 squares. I probably could have gotten away with 10 by 10 but I like the size and when it comes to blankets I usually err on the side of caution.

When I worked on this initially I had a vague idea that I wanted a fairly simple border. Not my usual fan border. Possible just a few rounds of dc stitches. In that time I had picked up a book on borders. Given that I had a lot of yarn leftover it was never going to be simple and so I picked out this bobble border. It's not too lacey and so I think it highlights the willow square rather than take the attention away. I also think that it fits in with the bold colours of the blanket. The border was easy to do but it ate yarn and I worried that I would have to buy more. Turned out I just had enough. The book is called Around The Corner: Crochet Borders by Edie Eckman. I plan to do a review on it at some point so I won't say too much there.

So that's my blanket and another one of my WIP list. If you are on Instagram I highly recommend you search Willow Square to see all the different images. Or even google it.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Fibreshare Friends - Jillian aka Mothy and the Squid

On Friday I showed you what my lovely swap partner, Sara of Sara's Texture Crafts, sent me. I am still drooling over the yarn and deciding on what I will do with it. I have also tried out the hand balm which smells lush (a word I never thought I would use and yet describes this balm well).

On Thursday I sent out my parcel to my swap partner Jillian of Mothy and the Squid. Well she got her parcel on Saturday which means I can now post what I sent. She seems to have loved her package and I am so happy about that. I did my best to pick out things which I thought she would like. I originally worried that I would be at a disadvantage because I wasn't a hand dyer or spinner like the majority of the participants (excluding weavers here). In the end I think it was the opposite as I got to send some of my favourite yarns based on what she liked. Which was pretty similar to my own taste. Lots of colour and sock yarn.

So here are the yarns I picked. I am going from left to right starting with my good friend. I would never send a package without sending some of Lisa's yarn. For the Love of Yarn introduced me to indie dyers and the wonders of hand dyed sock yarn. I had sent Lisa a message as to what she had in the way of rainbows and she responded with this rainbow sock blank. I can't wait to see it all knitted up. Jillian mentioned that her children and a fondness for orange and pink and so I sent the orange peel fungus (how fab is that name) by Orange Jellyfish Dream. I have two of her yarns in my own stash and so I had to share. Especially when I saw the gorgeous bright colour. You will probably recognise the third and fourth yarns. The third is Beach Huts by Owl About Yarn. You will recognise it because it featured on my February stash post. I really didn't intend to buy for myself but I saw this yarn and thought it would be perfect for Jillian because of the bright summery colours. It's just I also thought it would be perfect for my own stash. Lastly the last yarn came from my own stash. It's a Knitpicks yarn and it's beautifully soft. The colours are a little more muted than the yarns but still has that rainbow feel.

I then picked out some extras. You know how much I love my Doodlestop project book. I've barely begun using it and yet I have mentioned it countless times. The plan was to pick up one for Jillian. Then I saw that they did one specifically for hand dyers. As Jillian dyes her own yarn I got very excited about it and picked this up instead. I also got her some stitch markers. Again from Owl About Yarn. They are yarny/sewing related which I thought was fitting. The hand cream I picked up from Lush. Lush is my go to shop when I want a bit of pampering. I love it for it's scents, good products and business ethics. I knew they did a series of hand creams and the girl in the shop recommended this one because it absorbs very quickly. Which means smaller pauses between knitting.

Lastly I picked out a project bag. I saw Pink Hazel on instagram and spied this little bag with a sheep print. She is based in Netherlands but is attending Edinburgh Yarn Fest in a couple of weeks. She actually offered to send it when she was over to save me on postage which was very sweet. The bag is superbly made. Very sturdy. I might even treat myself to one.

As I said, Jillian seemed to love her parcel. If I am honest though I had so much fun putting it together. Plus it was nice to meet other sock knitters.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Fibreshare Friends - Sara's Texture Crafts

Mid January posted about a swap I was taking part in called Fibreshare. It was a way for spinners, dyers, knitters and people who just love yarns to share. I originally thought it was for those who dyed or spun their yarn only but happily I was wrong and signed up. We were all sent our partners a few weeks ago and I have been chatting to my two partners and getting ideas to send a good gift box. I sent to my partner yesterday and hopefully I will be able to show you what I sent next week.

Meanwhile, I arrived home on Wednesday to a fabulous parcel from Sara of Sara's Texture Crafts. Sara started life as a fashion and textile designer before falling in love with yarn. She has some lovely yarns in her shop (she's also a fellow sock knitter). I felt privileged to be sent a parcel from someone who knows her stuff. You can see from the image above that she spoiled me and clearly knows what I like.

First of all she sent me this gorgeous Rowan tweed yarn. It has an alpaca blend which sadly Sara is allergic to and so I get the benefits of that. I think this yarn may become this years winter woollies for my sister. It's a lovely shade of purple and I love working with tweed yarns.

This beautiful sock yarn is one of Sara's own. It's a colour block yarn all caked up and ready to use. I like the idea of striping it with a solid shade as Sara suggested. I will have to think about this. I have always admired patterns that stripe that way. I have a brioche cowl pattern that might be perfect for it.

This yarn is my favourite but sadly no matter where I took the photo the true colour didn't show. It's not purple. It's more of a greeny-blue. This yarn will most definitely be used for one of my monthly pairs of socks. I'll be using a pattern for it I think.

Lastly she also sent me a few extras. She sent me a fab colouring book which has lots of patterns that are just me (owls and leaves people). Can't wait to try it. She also sent me a hand cream that was made local to her. I love a hand cream and this smells yum. I love the fact that it was locally made too.

Thank you Sara, you spoiled me and I look forward to trying your yarns. This is what I love about the fibreshare. It's a way of sharing different talents. Head over to the fibreshare website if you want to learn more about it. They have a lovely yarny blog.