Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Experimenting with Yarn and Kool Aid ::

As I mentioned in my post on Monday, last week I dappled in a bit of yarn dyeing.

Nothing remotely fancy, I used some sachets of Kool Aid I purchased at Wonderwool last year, some white sock yarn I purchased from my local yarn store, a frame I knocked together using bits of wood I had around the house and an evening of my time.

But from that I managed to produce something in 6 colours, that stripes (fairly evenly too!).  It's not perfect, there are a few patches of white and I think the sock itself looks a little like someone's taken a white sock and coloured it in with a bunch of sharpies, but hey, it was my first attempt at self striping yarn and only my second ever attempt at dyeing so I think I did OK. Plus I learned a whole lot to improve the process next time.

Unfortuantely I have much too much work to catch up on this week to spend much time on these socks, but I'm managing to sneak a stripe in here and there throughout my days.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Happy New Year ::

A belated Happy New Year to you!  I hope you all had fabulous festive seasons, full of family, food and fun.

We're only just starting to return to normal here, Milo goes back to school tomorrow then there will be a whole lot of catching up to do on my part! The school holidays and general festive chaos have meant I don't really feel I've started my new year proper. The slates aren't clean (ie the house and workroom are as far from tidy as can be) my thoughts and plans have yet to be properly put into place and my diary remains as empty as the day I bought it (that's not to say I am free of any commitments for the upcoming year, I just haven't had time to put them neatly away within the pages yet).  

What I do have have wistful thoughts and hopeful plans for the upcoming year, zooming around in my mind, waiting for a peaceful moment to be put into words on a page.  I don't really have much success at resolutions (who does?!) but I do like to put onto paper all I would like to achieve over the upcoming 12 months, whether that be work or personal achievements, realistic or less so.  I find that writing them down and returning to those words regularly helps to keep my hopes at the front of my mind and hopefully this means I'm less likely to forget what it actually is I'm striving to achieve once the regular routine of work gets back underway.  

Over the past 3 years I've also been using Susannah Conway's Unravelling workbook to help me look back over the 12 months just gone and plan through the 12 months ahead.  I love these little books and keep them all in the same little binder, it's nice to be able to look back at the dreams I dreamed and see how many have become a reality.  You can download the workbook here.  I'm still slowly working my way through mine for this year.

A few of my hopes for this year are ::
  • blog more regularly and with a better routine (I'm really looking forward Blogtacular in May which I'm hoping will help me advance further with this)
  • create some new lines for my etsy shop (I really want to create pieces that are much more 'me', items I really want to wear and am really proud to sell)
  • learn more fibre arts (I've dabbled a little in yarn dyeing but would really like to do more of this and advance on from using Kool Aid!  I'd also like to get my knitting machine working and explore what this has to offer)
  • visit more friends and family
  • make an actual proper decent income from my craft businesses!
Wishing you all much success and creativity in 2014.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Christmas Crafting :: Crochet Bobble Hats ::

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Christmas Crafting :: Stamp Making ::

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Christmas Crafting :: Magic Yarn Balls ::

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Scrap Yarn as Stitch Marker ::

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 9 December 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can pre-order your copy here for the discounted price of £1.50, once the pattern is back from tech editing and is available to download the price will go up to £3.  The Mulled Wine pattern will be released this week, a second pattern in mid January and the full 6 pattern collection in February.

All patterns will be available singly at £3, if you purchase a single pattern you will receive a coupon code for £3 off the full collection once it has been released, because I'm really hoping you'll catch the crochet sock bug and want to only ever wear handmade socks on your feet!  The full collection will be priced at £9.

So if you fancy making yourself a pair of these lovelies, get in quick to take advantage of the special price, stock up on some beautiful yarn and get checking gauge, so you're ready to go once the pattern hits your inbox.

The pattern will be ready by December 13th at the latest, hopefully sooner, if for any reason I fail to deliver the pattern to you by this time you will of course receive a full refund.

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