Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The Knitting Collection

OK, I am a little late, but I think that this new knitting bookazine would make a fabulous belated Christmas present. I am biased as I edited it - yes, I have had a clandestine affair with knitting again after so long with my current first mistress, crochet. The Knitting Collection has so many gorgeous patterns (47!) by fabulous designers. See what you think of this taster.
 This hairband pattern is one of mine, on my stunning cousin Jess, isn't she beautiful? The pattern is so simple and easily customised.
 The collection contains home products as well as fashion, and kidswear too. These stylish and very simple cup cosies are by Sarah Coad - her first published knitting pattern. She is usually more partial to crochet!

 And every collection needs an adorable teddy - this one is called Terence! He is so characterful, designed by the lovely Nicky Sutton

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Willow Hat

Well, my resolution to blog more often didn't last long! I have had a very busy few months, leaving little time for posting, which I will post about shortly. For now, I wanted to let you know of my latest pattern, a crocheted hat published in Issue 47 of Inside Crochet magazine. The Willow beanie is proving quite popular and I have already seen a lot of different versions, including this fab rainbow version by Ali Campbell, crochet teacher extraordinaire, over at Get Hooked on Crochet.

The hat is a great introduction to raised treble stitches (called front/back post double crochet in US terminology) to create a ribbed effect brim, and is really very simple. Unfortunately today was the last day issue 47 was available from all good bookstores, but you can buy a digital copy, and it is packed with fabulous projects. I love Rohn Strong's gorgeous cabled cover project, Rosalind, while Joanne Scrace's Walk in the Woods cardigan is just such a fabulous everyday cardi, I have to get round to hooking it. My littlun has a penchant for Lynne Rowe's Celeste blanket (she loved playing with the sample), and I must admit, I love a pompom. And there's loads more!

The pretty pictures are again by the wonderful Britt Spring.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Granny square SOS

This month, Inside Crochet has a distinctly granny theme, with a good proportion of the patterns inspired by the humble granny square. In honour of that, I thought I would share my tutorial for repairing granny squares. We have all done it - chopped off our ends at the centre of our granny square, thinking that we have probably worked over the end enough to trap it in. Then, some months later, you notice that the square is unravelling from the centre out. As with the blanket I had assembled for my nephew Austin at my sister's baby shower, which I talked about in my last post.

Above you can see the square that became unravelled in Austin's blanket. The good thing about this granny, and traditional granny motifs, is that they are usually made of a different colour each round so you can easily see distinct rows and it makes it easier to repair. It also means that if you cannot salvage enough of that first round of yarn to make the same round again, you can simply substitute another yarn in a different shade and it will not look out of place.

To begin, run a 'life line' along the round above the broken round; the round the unravelled yarn runs through. You can do this by threading a yarn needle and passing it through the round, or by pulling a thread through each group of stitches with a small crochet hook, as I am doing above.
If you are a fan of lace knitting, you may be familiar with a lifeline - a thread used to 'save' or mark a number of stitches -  but it isn't often used in crochet, as you usually only have one stitch on your hook at one time. A lifeline is run through stitches to allow you to pull back to that point without dropping stitches. The yarn or thread you use for this should be finer than the yarn used in the project, for ease of passing through and to limit stitch distortion. It should also be smooth, so you can pull it out easily when it is no longer needed. Finally, it should also be a contrasting colour so that you can see it easily. Therefore, any kind of strong, fine, cotton crochet thread is perfect for a lifeline, I am using a DMC Petra thread for the lifeline shown.
Once your lifeline is in place, you can safely unravel the broken round without fear of the entire motif disintegrating.

Now, starting at the treble group to the right of a set of two corner trebles groups, thread the working yarn you will be using to recreate the first round clockwise around the stitches of the round that the lifeline is holding. Pull a little through to work the first stitches, but make sure that you are working the first stitches with the shorter end of the thread and that the long/ball end is at the end of the round. (Note: I have only threaded the bright orange yarn of that first round left to right through the first corner treble groups worked to pinpoint the groups you should be working with first).

With the short end of yarn, begin the first round again, as for a regular granny square, making the ring, then working the first three treble group into the ring. Pull up on the last loop on your hook, making it longer, then remove your hook from the loop.

Insert the hook through all the stitches of the next two three treble groups at the corner, from left to right, then insert your hook back through the original loop from the first round, and pull that loop back through the two three trebles groups. You may need to now pull on the yarn to make that loop the correct size - it shouldn't be too big.

Work a three treble group into the ring of the first round, then pull up on the final loop, remove the hook from the loop and repeat the same process for each corner. As with a regular granny square round, join with a slip stitch to the first stitch and your repair should be complete! This technique was revolutionary to me when I first learned it, I hope you enjoy it too.

I am aware that this technique can be very confusing and fiddly to work so I am preparing a video tutorial - will post it ASAP! 

Friday, 20 September 2013

Knitting Baby Shower

As I am putting up a post on repairing a granny square inspired by the blanket we made at my sister's baby shower, here is a reposting of said baby shower from 2010 - the baby is now 3 years old!

Gemma is a beautiful, blooming mother-to-be; she is eight months pregnant and hanot knitted since she was a child, like most of the ladies at Gemma's baby shower at the weekend. I turned up at Gemma's with a bag full of vintage needles and crochet hooks, pretty, baby friendly yarn in mummy-friendly colours and a whole stack of vintage china and afternoon tea.

 The sandwiches were elegant fingers with fillings such as delicious smoked salmon and the cakes were buttered scones with cream, a victoria sponge and chocolate fairy cakes.
We also had a big pitcher of Pimms and lemonade, as we had wanted to make use of the stunning garden. However, after a perfectly pleasant month, Saturday was a wash out, as bank holidays in May often are! Nevermind, it did not deter the spirits of the makers and you really don't need the sunshine to enjoy fully the merits of a glass of Pimms!!

With bellies full and festivities begun, I proceeded to re-teach all these lovely ladies how to knit and crochet small squares with the aim of beginning a baby blanket for the cot of Gemma's new addition. She does not yet know the sex of the baby, so we chose a rainbow of colours to create a pretty patchwork piece which will look stunning in the baby's nursery.

 After a busy hour of knitting, the first square was proudly completed by our auntie Susie (below) and after that they came thick and fast. By the end of the afternoon, we had fourteen squares completed, with the faster knitters finding time to finish two. We also left some yarn with some of the makers to take to people who could not make it, so I am anticipating a few more colourful bits of knitting and crochet to arrive in the post over the next few days. When all the squares are complete, I will sew them all together beautifully and post them back to Gemma in blanket form in time for the new arrival. Good luck with the birth in July, Gemma, I will hurry with the finishing so you have it in time!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Book Launch

Last week, I attended the launch party of new knitting book, The Knit Parade, written by Rebecca Rymsza of Where's Me Jumper. Like the company, which makes bespoke knitwear, it was a really fun launch and The Knit Parade is a fantastically fun book. It is great to see a 'young' knitting book, with a contemporary and humorous edge and plenty of original and complex intarsia motifs, something I specialised in on my MA. I love the use of pompoms in the styling - one of my favourite things - and the way that the sweaters are unisex; they are shown on both male and female models.

 The launch party had plenty of poms in attendance, and just about everything was knitted, including the walls and 'dance floor'. I was also quite taken with the drinks selection, provided by Brittains Vodka. I am not a big drinker, or a vodka fan, but boy is that stuff good! We sampled quite a few flavours, just in the name of research of course, and the Black Forest flavour was my personal retro favourite.
Oh, and did I mention the disco heads...all a bit 80s school disco, which took me back! This book allows you to knit your own version of a Where's me Jumper jumper, with a smaller price tag, if you are an intarsia lover, go get it!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

M is for...

My friend Cheryl knitted this gorgeous, bright bunting as a birthday present for my Millie and we love it! Cheryl makes knitted items to order over at her lovely shop The Purly Queen, do go take a look. We had such fun taking these pictures, and Millie of course couldn't stand the bunting being centre stage...

As I mentioned, it is Millie's birthday this weekend and we are throwing her an Alice in Wonderland party as she is obsessed with anything Alice since seeing her big cousin Taylor as a card in a school play. I am off to make bunting and aprons and things, will post more about it later in the week.

Oh dear, take a look at that fringe I stupidly tried to cut while Millie was bouncing on the bed....

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

hexagon motif cushion

The September issue of Inside Crochet is out this week, the inspiration for the issue is the humble granny square, and my contribution is this hexagon motif cushion based loosely on my favourite shape for granny motifs. 

The patches use puffs and popcorns instead of some of the traditional three treble groups so familiar in regular granny motifs. It is simple, quick and fun to hook and is easily adaptable for throws, chair covers and other interior uses, so hopefully it inspires you to pick up the hook! 
Issue 45 is out on Friday and includes a range of patterns inspired by the traditional granny square, as well as the regular collection of fashion, kids and homeware.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Baby Shower

Today I finally handed over the beautiful blanket I sewed up for my little friend Emmi. She is the beautiful daughter of one of my best friends and late last year her friends and family knitted a bunch of squares at her baby shower to go into a blanket that I hope she will have always. I think this is the best blanket I have ever pieced together, what a gorgeous bunch of colours and textures and haphazard shapes. Sorry Gemma and Emmi that it took so long, but the weather today was almost autumnal, so perhaps it is good timing... 

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Tomorrow, issue 45, September, of Inside Crochet goes to press, so here is a last minute taste of the last summer issue (already?!) IC44. I will give you a sneaky peek at 45 once it is to bed. Less than two weeks to buy this issue in the shops, so go get it if you see something you like. 

Yup, that is the littlun, managed to sneak her in yet again!

All the lovely images are as usual by the wonderful Britt Spring

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

15 mins of fame

Walton top, by me, in issue 43 of Inside Crochet, modelled on my littlun

The very lovely Kat Goldin of the fabulous Crochet at Play, Slugs on the Refrigerator, Crochet Camp, Capturing Childhood (shall I go on?!) and now Blogtacular fame, has a little interview with me as part of this summer's Crochet Camp over on her Slugs blog. I feel happy, humbled and a tiny bit famous, not only by the interview but by the comments by very nice people, both familiar and new to me, since. Do hop on over there and take a peek, Kat's blog is such an inspiration, as are all her projects. (Plus you can win a years digital subscription to Inside Crochet!)

Image by Britt Spring, top from Issue 43 of Inside crochet

P.s. Let me know if you are thinking of going to the Blogtacular weekend next year, I am considering it and the more folk I find out I can meet in real life, the more I want to go!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The latest issue of Inside Crochet is out and in it, my first ever pattern for a pair of socks - there they are, on the cover (along with my littlun in those very retro raspberry clamdiggers, how does she keep creeping into the mag I wonder?!).
I had wanted to design some lacy socks for a while, but other stuff (life!) just kept getting in the way. Anyway, here they are, and really easy too - much easier than knitted ones! Hope you like them. You can buy the mag now in all good newsagents, or at pocketmags.

All the lovely images are by the wonderful Britt Spring (apart from the rubbishier ones on the line, which are obviously mine!) do go and check out her new, updated blog which looks rather good.

Sunday, 21 April 2013


I am aware I have been a bit too busy to post anything much at all this year and it is nearing the end of April - where has the year gone?! The cold weather has made it seem like eternal winter and so I feel I missed the whole of March indoors, crocheting!

To make up for the lack of posting here, I thought I would share a few pictures of some of the exciting things I have been doing so far this year - regular viewing will commence shortly.
I have directed and styled quite a few fab shoots, with the wonderful Britt Spring, the pic above is from the last, with a stunning piece by Kat Goldin.
 Crochet, crochet and more crochet! For the magazine, and for a couple of new projects. This is my favourite blanket project of the lot.

 I managed to catch the Wool exhibition, Wool House at Somerset House in March. It was in collaboration with the Campaign for Wool. This was particularly exciting for me as I finally got to see a crocheted sculpture or 'Crochetdermy' by Shauna Richardson, which didn't disappoint - it was amazing!
I also taught a couple of classes at City Lit  and the experimental class in particular was great fun. I met a bunch of very creative women, one who upcycles old brollies into fab bags and another who is an amazing spinner. All in all a great year so far...