Sunday, 19 March 2017

Knitting & Crochet Inspiration: Citrus Edition

Fruity knitting and crochet patterns

Spring is coming! While the mild weather of last week has been replaced by a biting cold wind today, there's no denying that spring is on its way. The first flowers are beginning to blossom and I finally got a chance, albeit briefly, to ditch my heavy winter coat. This got me thinking about spring knits and I came across a wonderful citrus sock pattern that just screamed sunshine. So here's a selection of citrus patterns to get you in the mood.

1. These Citrus socks by Anna Bergman are amazing! I saw them pop up on Instagram, originally, and I love them. Sadly, the pattern is only available in Swedish as far as I can see, but I just had to share them with you because they are beautiful. If you come across an English translation, please let me know and I will be happy to add it.

2. Something for the crocheters among us: Purl Soho's Fruity Trivets and Pot Holders are quick to make and useful kitchen helpers. They not only come in the colour of lemons and oranges, so you have a lot of choice here. There's even a link to knitted versions if that's your jam.

3. I know that I often neglect crochet, so here's a second crochet pattern for you! This lemon stress ball is also quick to make and looks like a lot of fun. If you don't want to use it as a stress ball, why not knit up a few and arrange them in a bowl instead? Blogger and crafter Claireabelle has included a video in which popular crocheter Twinkie Chan shows you how to make your own lemon - and how not to fill it.

4. Kelli Slack's Tropical Citrus Shawl is a wonderful shade of orange and will brighten up any grey day (and let's face it, such days are far more common here in the UK than we would like). The shawl features lace that looks like it is full of oranges, but there are also small cables to add interest. 

What patterns have caught your eye recently? Let's get ready for some spring knitting!

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Amano Puyu: Yarn As Soft As a Cloud

Amano Puyu alpaca silk yarn for knitting and crochet

Sit back, relax and imagine what it would be like to knit a cloud - because that's what it feels like when you cast on to knit with Amano Puyu, a beautiful Peruvian chunky yarn made from 70% baby alpaca and 30% mulberry silk. In the native language of the Incas, puyu means cloud, and the name is absolutely perfect.

This new yarn is incredibly light and soft and comes in a small number of natural shades. I have the silver colourway (3007) that reminds me of rain clouds. It is very pleasant to knit with and I am intrigued by the way it has been constructed. I say constructed, because this yarn has not been spun the conventional way: First, the silk is spun into a tube into which the alpaca is introduced by puffs of air. No wonder it feels so light! This process also explains why I enjoy knitting with this yarn despite it consisting mainly of alpaca.

Peruvian alpaca yarn with silk

You see, I don't actually like alpaca because it feels very unpleasant while I knit with it. I can't explain what it is, but the yarn doesn't seem to glide along as well. If there was a tactile equivalent to that awful squeaky chalk on a blackboard sound, then it would be alpaca. 

However, Puyu is beautiful and I can't wait to knit up a little something with it. Each skein contains only 50 g (75 m), so I think a hat may be all I can make with a single skein. The chunky yarn is the ideal weight for such a project so I shall give it a go. 

Washing wool with Soak wool wash

To test this yarn, I knitted a large gauge swatch with the recommended 9 mm needles, gave it a wash with Soak and then gently blocked it. I prefer slightly denser fabric, so going down a needle size would have been perfect for me, I think. Still, with 9 mm the result is lovely and soft and very drapey. 

In fact, I think the best thing to make this yarn is a large, sweeping, chunky shawl to keep you warm in autumn and winter. The drape would be wonderful in such an accessory and yet it would feel wonderfully light. I am very tempted, I have to say! Whatever you decide to knit with this wool, the yarn itself will be the star of the show. No need for fancy patterns; all you need is a layer of this fabric to surround yourself in a lovely cloud of warmth.

Alpaca and silk yarn that feels like a cloud

For yarn snobs like me, Puyu is a must-have. This is a high-quality yarn, there's no doubt about it. At £16.95 for 50 g it isn't within everyone's budget, I know, but if you want to spend some saved-up cash on a treat, I do recommend Puyu. It is something very special and quite different.

Disclosure: This yarn was sent to me free of charge by Laughing Hens in exchange for a review. My opinions are impartial and honest and I do not receive monetary compensation for my post.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

The PussyHat Effect: EU Edition



I know, I know. I said I probably wouldn't need to talk politics on this blog again after my PussyHat post, but of course life always has other plans. 

Being an EU migrant in the UK, impending Brexit is causing a lot of insecurity about my future here - and, as a consequence, the future of my fiancé as well. Should I have to leave, either because the Home Office tells me to or because the government makes life extremely difficult by removing eligibility for NHS treatment, benefits or pensions, I and many others like me will take our British spouses, British children and British money with us. It angers me that there are more protests against Trump than against our treatment in this country.

The visibility of existing protests is missing in the media as well. In the meantime, savvy knitters have started to counter the invisibility in their own way by adapting the PussyHat pattern to suit their needs. In a previous post I added a link to an EU version designed by Anke Klempner (now updated to include a beanie and a PussyHat shape). It's become increasingly popular and you may have seen photos and news footage of people in their EU hats as they lobby their MPs and protest against the British government's treatment of EU citizens as bargaining chips in upcoming negotiations.


If you would like to support EU citizens in the UK, there are ways you can help. Join a lobbying group such as The 3 Million and help ensure that those of us who have made their lives here and British citizens abroad don't lose their acquired rights.

(All images are contributions from members of The 3 Million.)

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Sock Wash and Sort Out


Perhaps the best thing to do to ease back into everyday life after being ill for over a week is to give your knitted socks a wash. Even though I am not fond of washing my socks by hand, it is something that needs to be done - and I will forever be grateful for the existence of no-rinse wool wash. Please tell me I am not the only one who doesn't look forward to this! Anyway, I've finally washed all the socks that have been waiting for over two weeks so now my collection is complete again and ready to be worn. 

Having had a look at my big bag of socks, there are quite a few that are no longer in the best shape and some don't fit anymore. It's probably time to unravel them and knit new ones. I am finding it hard to do that, though, because a lot of work went into each pair. But then why hold on to a pair that doesn't fit and will only lie about in the bag, never to be worn again?

Some of the yarns are too nice to just be thrown away. I am also very fond of some patterns and might reknit those despite never knitting the same thing twice. It's a shame that some of my favourites  especially have shrunk a bit in the wash!

What do you do with old knitted socks? Do they end up in the bin or do you try to salvage the yarn? How frequently do you have a sort out?

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Wool Tribe 2017 Is Here


If you are one of the lucky ones going to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival  (EYF) on the 10th and 11th March this year, I envy you! It was a great event last year and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This year I won't be able to make it - due to my upcoming wedding, I need to save up as much holiday as I can. So a few days in Edinburgh are not on the cards this time, but I am sure I will go again one day.

Like last year, there is a new Wool Tribe companion magazine for EYF, full of specially selected patterns and other information about Edinburgh, woolly crafts, and the festival itself. At the back of the issue you'll find a floor plan and list of vendors, which is extremely helpful if, like me, you like to plan which stalls to hit first. My motto: Efficiency is key! AKA: Just be German.

I have to say that I prefer the first issue of Wool Tribe: Both the aesthetic as well as the patterns were far more appealling to me and the articles in it were more up my alley than this year. I am a little disappointed, but I wanted this magazine nonetheless because it is a part of EYF and I enjoyed it so much before. This year, by the way, there is even a crochet pattern in Wool Tribe, but as I don't like crochet, it isn't for me either.

The magazine contains patterns from Donna Smith, Renee Callahan, Francesca Hughes, Clare Devine, Jane Crowfoot, and Amanda B Collins. As knitters you will have come across at least some of them so you can be sure the patterns are well written and you may be familiar with their styles.


My favourite pattern is the Belsyde Shawl pictured above. I am not convinced by the zigzag along the body, but still. The colour choice is great and I very much like the YO pattern along the short edge as well. Besides, you can never really go wrong with a shawl, can you?

In Wool Tribe you will also find another trail guiding you through a part of Edinburgh. Last year's craft, coffee and cake trail was a great success, but this year's trail will lead you to new areas, encompassing  Holyrood Park and Arthur's Seat. This trail was chosen to offer you a wonderful view of the area and its landmarks. At the end you will be rewarded with a visit to Scotland's oldest pub, the 14th century Sheep Heid Inn


This year there are articles again that I look forward to reading in a quiet moment. However, there is one about machine knitting that I am not (yet) in the mood to read because I really don't like the idea of machine knitting. I apologise for not being able to give you any details about the articles, but I haven't yet managed to bring myself to read the articles yet. This shows you just how different my overall impression of this year's issue is, actually. Last year I couldn't wait to get stuck in and read it from cover to cover. This time it's taking a while for me to be drawn in.

That's not to say that it isn't up to scratch. This issue simply doesn't contain things I like and this was bound to happen at some point. We all like different things and not everything can be featured in a single magazine. So don't let me put you off! If you like the patterns, go for it. If you are a fan of EYF as I am, definitely get your hands on a copy if you can. I for my part am really looking forward to the third issue in 2018 and I will absolutely buy it again.

The magazine comes with a Ravelry download code so you can add it to your library and have the patterns handy and ready to print whenever you need them. You can buy the latest issue of Wool Tribe right here on the EYF website where you can also see all the featured patterns.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

PussyHats Galore


Please excuse my silence over the past week. With so many crazy things happening in the world right now, I was not in the mood for blogging even though I do have things to tell you about. I am a little late now in showing you my tiny bit of craftivism, but I am sure it will still be needed in the future.

I am sure you heard about the Women's March on Washington that took place the day after the US president's inauguration. I hear it was the largest march of its kind in history and it did not confine itself to Washington or even the US. There were marches all over the world, even here in the UK. The closest one to me was in London. While I didn't march personally, I knew this was big and important. So I decided to show my solidarity with these women (and men) who marched that day, picked pink yarn from my stash and started knitting my own PussyHat as they marched and I followed them on Twitter and the news.


PussyHats are a symbol of resistance, of rights for women. They are a reaction to Trump's policies and his disgusting claim that if you're famous, you can "grab them by the pussy" and they'll let you, "you can do anything." You will have seen images of the march and the sea of pink PussyHats. It was truly a sight to behold.

So on that day I knitted from late morning till evening, but had to stop shortly before I could finish the final bit of ribbing. When I finally sewed the seams and wove in the ends, it was too late for the march, of course, but that didn't stop me from wearing the hat at work the following week. 

It was a great success with colleagues who are  involved in politics and follow current developments both at home and abroad. My Spanish colleague took this photo of me to share with her friends.

Interestingly, this hat pattern has now been adapted for a different cause altogether, though one closer to home. Some crafty EU-nationals living in the UK are preparing to protest against the treatment of us as bargaining chips in this Brexit... fiasco, for lack of a better word. They plan to wear a blue hat with yellow stars that reflects the EU flag. I think that is a great idea! (You can also find a classic beanie knitting pattern to go with the cause here.)

If you are an EU-national in the UK, by the way, and want to stay up-to-date with developments as they pertain to our status here post-Brexit, feel free to join the3million on Facebook or follow them on Twitter. We cannot rely on politicians doing the right thing. We must make sure we are heard.

And this is probably as political a post as I am ever going to write on this blog. At least I hope there won't be a need for any more.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Patons Everyday Moments: The Creative Collection


Once I started to knit, my likes and dislikes changed. I used to hate the look of cabling - until I started a pair of socks with little cables in it. I still enjoy them now and think cabling is wonderfully versatile. My experience with tweed has been similar. Before I became a knitter, I disliked the tweed look and didn't understand why so many people loved it. It looked too rugged to me and, as far as I could tell from my limited experience, it didn't even feel nice. Yet once I encountered all sorts of yarn over the years, I began to yearn for some tweed, too. Now I finally have a hand-dyed hank of tweed sock yarn in my stash that a friend made especially for me and I am trying to think of something nice to knit it into. I think it is fair to assume it will be socks, but I haven't settled on a pattern yet.

Patons Everyday Moments: The Creative Collection (sent to me for review by Laughing Hens) is a small collection of 8 patterns using Patons Tweed Style yarn. This yarn consists of 50% pure wool and 50% acrylic and comes in 14 different colours. If tweed is your thing, have a look at this pattern collection and something just might catch your eye.


Among the 8 options, you will find 2 hat and cowl sets (one for him and one for her), a poncho for her, a coat for her and a jacket for him, and 3 pullovers.  They all look very cosy and just right for the kind of weather we are having right now. Due to the thickness of the yarn there isn't any lace in this collection, but you have interesting cabling and straightforward stocking stitch. 

I can well imagine knitting one of the jumpers or the jacket for Mark, actually, though there are no patterns I would knit for myself - I'm just picky like that. Though I have to say the lady's pullover with cabling does interest me because it reminds me of the Icon Dress and Traveller Tunic. I have been tempted by the latter especially.


The instructions are laid out clearly and are mainly written. There are some charts for cables as well as diagrams to help with shaping and blocking. The measurements for individual parts of the garments are listed in a table for all sizes so you always know how your finished piece should measure up. (Also great for any modifications you may need to make.) At the beginning of the pattern, you find all necessary tools and materials, basic stitches, sizing and tension information, and abbreviations so you can prepare for what you're getting yourself into.

Have you used a Patons pattern before? How did you get on with it? And is there anything you're tempted by in this particular collection? Let me know!

Disclosure: This pattern collection was sent to me free of charge by Laughing Hens in exchange for a review. My opinions are impartial and honest and I do not receive monetary compensation for my post.