Monday, 28 December 2015

Top 10 New Year's Resolutions for Knitters and Crocheters

1. Learn a new technique.

Does lace look oh so tempting, but too scary to try? Do you wonder how on earth to work with more than one colour yarn at the same time? And are you afraid you will end up with knots in your fingers when attempting cabling? Now is the time to try something new and to simply give it a go.

2. Make something you have never made before.

Have you always wanted to learn how to knit socks or yearned to make your first jumper? Take the plunge and see how it goes. All knitting is a matter of following a pattern - just follow the instructions and you, too, will end up with a project to be proud of, no matter how daunting it may seem at first.

3. Treat yourself to a yarn you have dreamed of for a long time.

We all know the feeling: We come across beautiful yarn that we would love to own and turn into something pretty, but it is too expensive or not the kind of yarn we would normally use. And yet we really want it, but think better of it than to splurge on such precious yarn. But what is life without the occasional treat? Next time you fall in love with a yarn your brain tells you not to buy, listen to your heart instead and simply enjoy the pretty.

4. By from an independent dyer.

There are so many wonderful independent yarn dyers who work hard to create the most amazing colours for knitting and crochet. Have a look around and see what they have to offer: perhaps you will find your new favourite yarn and you will know exactly who has dyed it for you.

5. Knit  or crochet a miniature.

We tend to stick with projects of similar size most of the time because we all have our favourites. How about giving miniatures a go and making tiny little things? Mochi Mochi Land have specialised in tiny knits that are fun and cheerful and easy to make.

6. Try a new fibre.

I don't know about you, but I tend to stick with the same types of fibre most of the time, which can get a little boring. So why not give something new a try? Have you always wondered about alpaca, mohair and silk? Now is the time! Or how about more unusual things like yak, milk protein fibre or seacell? There is so much to choose from and I am definitely hoping to try new fibres in the new year.

7. Take a class or join a workshop.

If you haven't joined a class or workshop before, this is a great experience. You get to be with like-minded people and you learn something at the same time. Instead of trying to get to grips with a new technique, you have expert guidance and help at hand when you need it. Your local yarn shop and craft fairs tend to have a range of classes for all abilities so go check them out.

8. Go to a craft fair.

Speaking of which, craft fairs are a fun day out, but hold on to your wallet! There are so much tempting yarn,  tools and accessories that it is a good idea to set yourself a budget before you go. Then you can enjoy the fair, have a good look around and meet other crafters, too, without worrying about how much you are spending. There are lots of craft fairs all across the country so keep an eye our on social media, blogs and the local press for any announcements.

9. Expand your knitting needle or crochet hook collection.

Everyone needs the right tools and it is very frustrating if you are about to start a new project, only to find that you don't have the correct size hook or needle. It happens to me quite often, so I am planning to complete my knitting needle collection in the coming year (I already have all the crochet hooks I will ever need). So fill in the gaps in your collection or treat yourself to a complete set.

10. Treat yourself to pretty notions.

Apart from knitting needles and crochet hooks, there is a range of neat little helpers that make crafting so much easier. Cable needles, stitch markers, row counters, a knitting needle gauge, tape measure - all these and more are very handy as you work your way through your stash. Haven't got any yet? Go get some!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

A Happy Festive Season

It is Christmas Eve and I want to take the time to wish all of you who celebrate these days a merry Christmas and lots of relaxed knitting, spinning and crochet time with friends and family.

If you do not celebrate Christmas or instead enjoy other holidays at this time of year, I wish you a wonderful festive season with time to regain your energy and prepare for the new year ahead.

Enjoy this time of year, grab a cookie, and I shall see you again soon!

Monday, 21 December 2015

My First Jumper: Armholes Done!

Knitting? What knitting? I haven't knitted for over a week and I didn't even notice! 

Some of you may want to unfriend me now. I have no idea how this happened, but it did. I can only blame the busy Christmas season at work which has kept me thinking about all sorts of things that needed doing and were not at all about knitting. We had Christmas jumper day, onesie Wednesday, Secret Santa, the work Christmas meal, a Christmas theme party, and a whole lot of product launches at work (you know, because it is not all just fun and games all the time).

My jumper is in it's bag, waiting for me to continue with the body now that the armholes are done. This will be a really straightforward bit of knitting for a few inches and I just started the second colour change section. I made my first alteration and made the sleeves an inch wider than specified due to my measurements. In theory, I should also make the armholes deeper, but I decided not to because I am wondering if the extra sleeve width may be enough. If not, I will just have to either deal with it or rip back to start over. But, look! It actually looks like a jumper!

I am immensely please and totally in love with the red. I am so glad I chose it. Having bought the yarn online, I wasn't sure how the colour would look once it arrived. Not even looking up other knitters' projects in the same yarn helped because we all know how badly some cameras capture red. (My photos here are accurate, to my surprise.)

Considering how long I will be working on this project, it hasn't stopped me from planning further jumper projects and dreaming of wearing all those beautiful knits. Are you already thinking ahead, too? What do you want to knit in 2016? It's amazing we are nearly in the next year already.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

If I were yarn

If I were yarn, I would be made of wool. Nothing less than 100% of woolly goodness would do, although there may be a hint of silk in me. I am warm and cuddly to keep you comfortable and cosy. I am a balanced yarn, though I can be tightly plied as well. I'm dependable and unexpectedly durable considering my type of wool, useful for most things. Caring for me is a bit of work as I require being washed by hand only.

I would like to be a rare, special fibre like silk or camel, but I know I am simply a good quality wool instead, most likely Merino or Falkland, and there is nothing wrong with that. Many might underestimate my qualities at first glance, but those in the know will appreciate and recognise them.

Of course, I come in strong jewel tones, intense colours that work well on their own or in combination with each other. While I am a fingering/4-ply weight yarn, smooth and perhaps with a light sheen in the right light, I am very versatile and I make wonderful lacy shawls as well as pretty, warm socks, gloves and hats.

Sadly, I'm not a superwash yarn and you have to be careful with me. Make a mistake, and I'll be unforgiving. You can do your best to salvage me, but I will never be the same again. Yet, with the right care I will be just as good as when you first found me. 

And now it is your turn: What kind of yarn would you be and why?

Friday, 11 December 2015

Surprising Blog Stats

I am always keen to know where my readers are from and reading through my blog stats is fun. Sometimes interesting and curious things come up, sometimes unexpected things, too. Thanks to stats I have sometimes found that a website or blog featured one of my handmade stitch marker sets or a blog post I published recently. You never know what you're going to find.

Here is a screenshot of my all-time stats as of 6 December 2015:

Let me take this opportunity to say hello to my most unexpected readers: Hello Russia! You have been quite a big surprise. I never thought there were so many of you visiting this blog, but I am glad you are following along and enjoying what you see. 

I was also surprised to find that I have more readers in the US than in the UK, although, looking at population size, I suppose that's only natural. Germany comes in third place; I know there are lots of knitters in my home country (Gruß an die Heimat!). 

I am happy to see how we are all connected throughout the world by our love of wool, regardless of where we are. It's not just k2tog, it's knit several thousands together.  

Have you had similar surprises on your blog? Where do most of your readers come from and which is the most unlikely place you would have expected to see pop up in your stats?

Sunday, 6 December 2015

The Problem With Trying Something New

What have I done?

Now that I have made a start and braved knitting my first jumper (slow, but good progress), my favourites and my queue on Ravelry have exploded! For those unfamiliar with, let me explain: 

Ravelry has a huge database of knitting and crochet patterns with a very good search engine. You can favourite patterns you like, create bundles in which patterns are grouped by type, colour or whatever you fancy. You can also queue patterns, meaning you list them in the order you want to knit them. And that's what I have done.

Once I get the hang of knitting my jumper, I hope to make more. So I combed through Ravelry to see what is available in roughly my size and I ended up with 40 pages worth of patterns. Could have been worse! Those were only the patterns listed as plus size, so you can imagine how many more you would find for standard sizes. Of course, I only favourited a fraction of all patterns that came up and queued only three.

So let me show you the pretties in my queue at the moment:

Follow the links below for image sources.

1. Poema by Vera Sanon looks like an easy knit, especially if you like a bit of lace and are not intimidated by it. I like the simplicity of the body and the contrasting sleeves. I am sure I will enjoy knitting this pattern. What do you think?

2. Kate Davies is well known for her designs and I know her mainly as a designer of yoke jumpers with lovely stranded colourwork. However, I've never actually knitted anything of hers, but I have always been aware of her work. Well, I say always, but I mean for the past few years. Boreal jumped out at me from the start because of the use of colour and simple, traditional patterning. I can't wait to make this jumper, although I am not sure how making adjustments to the fit will work in this case because they will change the colourwork if I am not careful. This will take some thinking and tinkering.

3. And finally, another Kate Davies design that many will have come across before: the Owls jumper. There is also a version for children and another for a cardigan in chunky yarn. I have also loved this jumper ever since I first saw it and one day I will knit it! I am not keen on the idea of making it with chunky yarn as the pattern calls for, but I may well risk it. I suspect it will make things easier than improvising and hoping for the best... or doing even more dreaded maths than I have to do already. This will happen, I am just not sure how.

What have you got in your queue at the moment - on Ravelry or off? 

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Cushendale Woolen Mills DK: A Long Time Coming

I am embarrassed. I can't believe it took me nearly 4 months to complete this project, especially considering it isn't a difficult one. That does not bode well for my jumper, I must say.

In August I posted about the yarn I graciously received from Vibes & Scribes in Cork, Ireland, and I described my first impressions as I worked on the cowl/infinity scarf I chose to make with it. It wasn't a pleasant knit because the yarn is very rough. I have heard from others that it gets softer with time, but I am not convinced it will be pleasant to wear next to the skin. I have given it a wash already and can't say for sure whether the cowl is now any less rough than before. However, it did dry surprisingly quickly, which is a very good thing at this time of year.

The reason it took me this long to finish knitting it that I did not enjoy the roughness of the yarn. It made knitting anything other than simple stitches very difficult. That is why I abandoned the idea to knit the Cupido pattern and simply improvised after a few rows which are now the edging. I took another long break before actually knitting that final edging, another reason for the delay.

So, as I wrote in my first post, this Cushendale yarn is best suited for home furnishings like cushions, bags or anything that needs to resist wear. It is not my kind of yarn, unfortunately, but that is simply because I tend to knit things requiring finer, softer yarns and are meant to be worn close to the skin. So while this may not be my kind of yarn, maybe it is yours. 

Let me know if you have used Cushendale Woolen Mills DK and what your impressions are. What did you make and did it hold up well?