Friday, 27 March 2015

Bath Crochet Heart Yarn Bomb

(Image from my Instagram account)

Last year saw the first yarn bombing of Bath during Fashion Week, which ended in pillars wound with knitted and crocheted roses. I was sad not to have seen it for myself or participated in it because it looked great on photos I saw. During this year's Fashion Week, Emma Leith organised another yarn bomb right in the city centre where I found this little arrangement of crochet hearts and decorated flower baskets in Milsom Street.

It is a cheerful sight and I wish there was more. It is just a small area, but it adds lots of colour to the place, especially on a day as grey as the one on which I ventured out to find this installation.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

What I do on Pinterest

Many of you probably know about Pinterest and have, like me, been sucked into its vast number of pictures and links to useful and not so useful things. I have no idea when I started using Pinterest, but it began as a private collection of things I found interesting or useful. What started with just a handful of boards dedicated to a few topics, I am surprised to find has grown to 42 boards in all - and that's after purging some that weren't very useful in the end. I still go back in and change things around, but nonetheless it is a huge number of boards with well over 2000 pins in total.

One of my fastest growing boards is dedicated to the representation of knitting in art.

Whenever I come across a painting, photograph or illustration that involves knitting in one way or another, I add it. As a student, I studied art and I don't recall ever learning about any paintings featuring knitting, which is a shame. Then again, since I wasn't a knitter yet, it may not have interested me too much at the time.

Nowadays, as a knitter, I love searching out stitch patterns and tutorials to help me come up with new designs. Very often I have to look up certain cast ons and bind offs, so I just had to create a board where I could pin all these things.

I have included tutorials that will be useful for beginners as well as advanced knitters, so there is something for everyone. A word of warning though: many of the stitch patterns are merely charted, so you need to be confident using charts. Luckily, the symbols are fairly universal and easily compared to any other charts you will have worked with before.

But not everything is about knitting! Something else I love to do is to cook so, inevitably, I just had to create a board for recipes I want to try someday. This is a huge board!

I have cooked quite a few of these things and liked nearly all of them. More recently, I added a separate board for bread recipes since I have been baking my own bread since late summer last year. Check it out if this is something you are interested in as well. Almost all recipes on these boards are in English, but you may come across a few German recipes here and there. These are usually recipes of things I miss from "home" and want to cook myself (it is a bit odd to refer to Germany as my home now that I feel perfectly at home in the UK).

What do you do on Pinterest? What type of things do you tend to pin most often? Share your links in the comments if you would like new followers.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Review: Once Upon a Knit

Luck has been on my side this year when it comes to giveaways and I have won quite a few knitting and cookbooks recently. One of these is a knitting collection whose title intrigued me: Once Upon a Knit: 28 Grimm and glamorous fairy-tale projects by Genevieve Miller.

Published in 2014, this book is a collection of knitting patterns by various designer, matching the fairy tale theme. The patterns range from toys to lacy shawls and capes so there is something for everybody. There are knits for men, women and children alike, which can be hard to find sometimes. this book is 144 pages long and contains, besides the 28 patterns, an index, notes about the individual designers, information about the author, a short section on necessary skills, and a table of standard yarn weights. 

Siren Shawl
The book is divided into 3 sections to match the fairy tales the projects are based on or which simply match the theme: Into the Woods (8 projects), Princes & Princesses (10 projects), and Something Wicked (10 projects). Nearly all projects are fairly quick knits apart from some shawls and capes. The Siren Shawl by Cassie Castillo is my favourite and I love the yarn choice, too. It is not the most difficult of shawls and would make a great first shawl project, actually. I really need to get my hands on some Madeline Tosh! 

Huntsman's Gloves and Scarf

The projects are interspersed with so-called Fairy Facts that reveal interesting titbits about the original stories or their adaptions, including films, a musical (guess which one - I had to go and put on my favourite song of the soundtrack just now), and comics.
Ballerina Tutu and Wand
All in all, while there isn't much in this book that I would personally want to knit for myself, many of the projects would make great gifts. I also like the concept of this pattern collection and the little facts peppered throughout the book. This is certainly one of the rare interesting knitting pattern books aimed at a general knitting readership that I have come across so far. This would be something for knitters who like a variety of projects to choose from, love to knit gifts, or are interested in fairy tale themed knits. It is worth having a look.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Dye For Yarn - Silk Lace Yarn

It's true: I have bought more yarn so far in 2015 than I did in all of 2014! All the yarn is from indie dyers, too, and was just too tempting to resist any longer. Something that had been on my wish list for a long time was the silk yarn from German indie dyers Dye For Yarn. I found them on Etsy last year and loved their photos. Most of all, their colours were stunning.

Even though I bought the yarn (pure mulberry silk) a while ago, I only realised now why I hadn't yet written about my purchase: it is not quite what I had expected. Mind, the yarn feels alright and it will do nicely for a large shawl, which is what I had planned to use it for. However, the colours aren't quite as vivid and shiny as on the pictures in store. I also realised that I am disappointed in it because it is not nearly as good as the pure silk yarns I have bought from two other indie dyers in the past. I wish my Dye For Yarn skeins were tightly plied which would give them the sheen I had expected and will also make the yarn less splitty. 

My skeins are nice and soft, though, and feel a lot more like wool than silk. The purple skein clearly looks like magenta in reality despite the shop's product photos and is a one-of-a-kind colourway called Love is poison. (I am not too surprised by it looking like magenta because I suspect the dyers use Ashford dyes whose purple is actually what I call magenta.) I wanted to match it with another colour for a colour work shawl and chose teal, or Giant clam closing forever. The latter was slightly cheaper as it is a knotty skein, which I don't mind since I can always undo the knots and simply weave in the ends when I am done knitting.

So all in all I am not as excited about this purchase as I had hoped even though everything about the yarn is fine. It will do very nicely for what I have in mind. The only reason I am disappointed is because I expected this yarn to be similar to other silk yarns I have used and the photos on the website were more lustrous and showed a slightly deeper colour. So it is not what I expected, but it is still good yarn and the colours go together very well.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Designing a Lacy Snood

I've been working on a new knitting pattern and for the first time it is going to be a snood! After going through a lot of knitting stitch libraries, I found something that appealed to me right away and looked like it wanted to be turned into a snood with my skein of Countess Ablaze's Nerds Prefer Their Rainbows Darker colourway.

After a bit of maths, drafting a pattern and a chart, and the use of several of my lace stitch markers (not to mention looking up how to do a provisional crochet cast on again), I got started. The yarn really knits up amazingly well and is a pleasure to work with. I am still undecided about the name I am going to give the snood. The stitch pattern reminds me of spring blossoms, but the yarn's colour doesn't match the idea of spring. So for now I have tentatively named it Spring into Darkness, but this may change before publication.

The yarn was just enough to finish 6 repeats of the chart. The grafting gave me headaches, honestly. Since I changed the way I knit into stitches, I have been having difficulty grafting and this was a problem here while finishing up the snood. I love the Kitchener stitch because it looks so seamless. Somehow I messed it up, though, and even after the final (fourth!) attempt, you can actually see a seam. It's not too bad and I am certainly not going to undo it again. At some point I will have to practice some grafting to figure out how to get make it work for my new  way of knitting.

I can't wait to see how the snood will look once it's been blocked and the lace has opened up properly. I also look forward to seeing how my test knitters are getting on. I really love the stitch pattern and hope you will too.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Knitting and Crochet Inspiration: Bunting, Socks, Cardigan and Dress

(All images are taken from the designers' pages linked to below.)

If you find yourself stuck for something new to knit or crochet, these new finds of mine may be just what you are looking for. 

1. Yellowcosmo's Rock the Lobster is a stunning cardi I would love to knit someday. If you're not afraid of tackling a yoke, you should give this a go. I love the way the elements break up the two colours here. But careful: steeking is involved!

2. This pretty rainbow bunting is available as a free pattern, so there's nothing stopping you from getting your crochet hooks out. Even though I rarely crochet, this is very tempting. If you can knit a granny square, you can knit this bunting, too.

3. The Daughter Heir by SammiLynn is a recent find and I fell in love with the cabling at first sight. These are the kind of socks I love to knit: challenging and intricate with delicate cabling. I especially like the ribbing at the gusset which makes a usually boring section far more interesting to knit, not to mention visually appealing. These socks are knitted from the cuff down and the pattern is free.

4. Here's another knitting pattern I fell in love with right from the start: Nightswimming by AnkeStrick. The pattern is in English, but there is a German Ravelry group that can help German knitters with translations. I especially like the asymmetric shape and the patterning that comes from the use of short rows. This is the sort of knitted dress I like to wear and maybe on day I will give this pattern a go.