Sunday, 16 October 2016

Autumn Storm Shawl

Here in the U.K. the weather has changed; darker evenings, damper mornings and a distinct chill in the air mean that Autumn has most definitely arrived.
And so I felt the need for a big ol' shawl-type-thing. 
Something I could drape around my shoulders to keep the shivers at bay and wrap around to completely cocoon me in warmth.
And I came up with my Autumn Storm Shawl*
*Actually, I cannot take any credit for the name. I ran a little Instagram competition and had lots of amazing suggestions- this is the one I chose and it's pretty perfect, I think.
Crocheted in the most lovely Deramores Vintage Chunky yarn, this Shawl is a simple and speedy project, despite its size.
If you'd like to make one, then you can find the pattern here
I can promise it'll keep you super-snug.
Happy crocheting,
Sarah xx 

Monday, 3 October 2016

Wearable crochet: Clothes

Ah, those bygone eras, when crochet was well, erm... itchy... and judging by a screen shot of my search results for 70s knitwear, mostly orange.

(Digging those dudes in their ponchos, btw)

So far in my rather brief crochet career, my foray into clothing has been zero; I've dabbled with hats and scarf-y accessories, but just haven't been convinced that crocheted clothes would ever be my thing.

And then came Pinterest and Instagram and all manner of crochet magazines, where independent designers were strutting their very cool stuff, and the most modern and wearable of crochet clothes were being showcased.

And I've changed my mind. 
So here's my most favourite, totally wearable crochet pieces and there's not an itchy, orange jumpsuit in sight...

Classic and simple, these jumpers are modern and fun. Bright colours, or plain neutrals. Whatever takes your fancy works here.

By Frank & Olive. Pattern here

By Yarnspirations. Pattern here

By Rohn Strong. Pattern here

By Pardon My Chaos. Pattern here

And for anyone who prefers something a little more free-spirited, bohemian crochet is for you -
fringes, tassels and the most infamous Granny squares make this style a classic:

From Pinterest

From Pinterest

From Pinterest

From Pinterest

So what am I planning to make next? 
Well, it'll probably be something for my hols-I love the simple lines of this beach top:

Pattern link here

And the stiking hexagons of this Anthropologie-inspired sweater:

Pattern link here

If you'd like some more inspiration, then follow my 'Wearable Crochet' Pinterest board and be inspired to create your own, original crocheted wardrobe.

And if you've crocheted your own clothes (you clever person, you) then let me know- I'd love to hear all about it.

Have a great week,

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Head over Heels - Stylecraft Sock Yarn

Some of you may have seen a few sneak peaks of the new Stylecraft Sock yarn, Head Over Heels via social media recently.

The Stylecraft Blogstars have been lucky enough to have had a preview of it to play with and we haven't been able to resist sharing a few snippets...

...And it's lovely stuff.

I've been very busy with loads of other projects, but I've made a start with a pattern I'm working on for a shawl- this seems the perfect stuff to try it out.

The shade I've been working with is called Eiger (they're all named after famous mountains) and it has long runs of colour. I'm really enjoying the way the colours wander in and out of each other. 
Other colour versions, like Everest below have shorter colour changes:

Ok. So here's the details:

  • Stylecraft Head over Heels
  • Sock yarn / 4 ply
  • 75% Superwash wool, 25% Nylon
  • Machine washable and tumble dryer-able
  • 100g (good sized ball)
  • 400m / 437y (a lot of yarn here)
  • 2.25 - 3.25 size needles 
  • 28 sts and 36 rows over 10 x 10cm / 4 x 4 ins

I have to say, I'm impressed with it so far: the yarn is soft and smooth to crochet with, and the colours work really well and are varied throughout the range. Superwash wool and nylon also means that this will keep you warm, but be able to be washed and tumble dried, too. It really seems perfect - great for socks (obviously) and fab for shawls and scarves, too. And retailing at around £6 - £7 per ball, is really good value for money.

So, to kick you off straight away, here's a fantastic free knitting pattern (released today!) for some gorgeous (beginner-friendly) socks by the awesome Helen from The Woolly Adventures of a Knitting Kitty:

AND another Blogstar, Heather from The Patchwork Heart has written all about the pattern for this beautiful crochet blanket, with a wonderful giveaway, where you could win £25 to spend on Stylecraft Yarn!

Why are you still here?
Go! Go!

Enjoy the yarn,
Sarah X

Monday, 22 August 2016

Quest for a stitch

Ages ago I saw this image and fell in love with that stitch.

Image from here

Can you see how it looks like a cross? And it creates quite a dense looking structure, too. On closer inspection it looked a bit like a double crochet (US single), but it certainly didn't look like mine...

I followed the links and searched around, but alas, the pattern no longer exists and my search ended.

Then, I started to see this stitch in lots of places- often used in baskets, but again, despite scouring the web, I couldn't find any mention of how this nice little stitch was created.

Image from here

Eventually I found a vintage pattern, where the baskets clearly show the crossed stitch.
So I bought it.
Yayyyyy!! Its secrets would be revealed. 
I would be making that stitch in no time at all....

Pattern from here


The pattern, although very clear and thorough, just states to use a plain old double crochet. No more details.
Another dead end.

It was obviously something to do with the way I crochet- perhaps the people who can make this stitch hold their hook differently, or at an angle. Perhaps it was a yarn-feeding-thing, or a tension-thing.
So I gave up.

Then, whilst searching for something completely unrelated on YouTube, a moment of inspiration struck me. All I needed to do was find a video of someone who crochets in this way. I could learn from watching them do it.

And I did. I found a pattern for a little amigurumi here.

And I watched. And I gasped at how ridiculously easy it was. And how the way I make a double crochet (US single) just needed one, teensy, tiny change...

Here's how:

1. Hook into stitch as usual, pull up a loop.

2. Instead of yarn over hook and pulling the yarn through the stitch, twist your hook over the yarn and pull the yarn through .
3. Complete the stitch in the usual way- yarn over
4. And pull through both loops.

And that's it. 
Changing the second step completely alters the stitch, twisting the yarn and forming the cross that I wanted to achieve. 

Here's some comparisons between a 'normal' dc (US sc) on the left and the new cross-dc on the right:

The 'normal' dc creates a slightly larger, looser shape, with bigger gaps between the stitches. The crossed dc is more sturdy, with a far denser construction. It also produces that amazing crossed stitch I've been searching for.

And so my quest is complete!
I shall be using the cross-dc for those projects where I want a little more structure- I'm thinking simple baskets and bags and it might even feature in some of my amigurumi designs in the future.

Enjoy your week,
Sarah x

Sunday, 17 July 2016

The Stylecraft Blogstars

Imagine all your favourite knit and crochet bloggers getting together for a weekend with a rather well-known yarn manufacturer and you've got a pretty awesome combination.

Let me introduce you to the Sylecraft Blogstars:

From left to right, back row:
Sandra Paul (Cherry Heart), Julia Marsh (Hand Knitted Things), Helen Kurtz (The Knitting Exploits of Josie Kitten), and me.

Front Row: Kathryn Senior (Crafternoon Treats), Heather Leal (The Patchwork Heart), Phil Saul (The Twisted Yarn), Lucy (Attic24), and Sue Pinner (Shropshire Scrapper Suz).

And not forgetting the three who couldn't be with us: Jane Crowfoot (Janie Crow), Emma Varnam (Emma Varnam) and Angela Armstrong (Get Knotted Yarncraft).

And so what did we get up to, I bet you're wondering?
Well, first I had to make my way to the Mill in Yorkshire, where we were treated to a tour by Richard Brown, owner of Stylecraft and its subsidaries.

Gorgeous views in every direction

Ever wondered how yarn is spun?
It starts off like this in huge squishy bundles:

ENORMOUS vats of yarn
And is spun through a series of the most enormous, noisy machines:

I thought these were sweets at first...

Richard, showing us how the yarn is twisted during manufacturing.

It's steamed to remove the twist, until it resembles something fine and beautiful like this:

This is one of the test rooms. I want a wall like that in my craft room.

It was so interesting to see manufacturing on such a large scale.

As if that wasn't enough, we were then invited to see the new collections of yarn. Here's one of the mood boards for the new collections. It's called 'World Marauder'. I love the colours.

And this is one of the new ranges, inspired by the colours:

It's called Batik and is wonderfully soft, with 80% Acrylic, 20% wool content. I can't wait to try it (I have lots of ideas already!). And check out Sue's blog, where she has links to lots of patterns using this yarn.

And this lovely stuff is called Yarn Stories. A beautiful, premium 100% wool, available in Merino or Merino and Alpaca and made in good old Blighty. The colours are amazing and it is sooooo squishy.

We were also told about some new exciting yarns and projects to come, but my lips are sealed. It's top-secret stuff.
You'll have to stay tuned.

So what's to come from the Blogstars?
Well, we'll be working on new projects for you, and there will be a blog tour in October, where we will reveal our patterns (in plenty of time for you to be planning those Christmas* projects). There will also be giveaways a-plenty.

*yes, I did mention the c-word. Yes, I know it's only July. Sorry about that.

The gorgeous and sparkly ' Cabaret' DK

So do pop along and check out the other bloggers. Lots of them are far more organised than me and have already blogged about their Mill visit. And they've got so many gorgeous projects to inspire you.

Enjoy your week,
Sarah X