Tuesday, 24 February 2015

lush, plush hooks

p-LUSH hook in action
Belinda Harris-Reid and Rachel Vowles are the two very driven women behind the upcoming p-LUSH fibre festival and they recently very kindly sent me a rather red p-LUSH hook to play with. The hooks  are being sold in aid of Target Ovarian Cancer , the chosen charity of the festival. The p-LUSH festival will be held on the 27th and 28th of March 2015 in the Ricoh Arena, Coventry and looks to be a rather different sort of fibre fair. Focussing not only on fibre but also craft, design, art, upcycling and even the biggest alpaca event in Europe - there will be hundreds of alpacas roaming around to admire! There are also some rather wonderful looking workshops to sign up for. I fancy making the alpaca birds, while if you haven't tried Tunisian Crochet before, the talented Helen Jordan should be your ultimate guide.

I first heard about the festival, the hooks and the Target ovarian Cancer appeal through Rachel. She is a brilliant technical craft editor - you can find out more about her work in a great interview with Emma Varnam.

Rachel and I have worked together on a myriad of publishing projects now, but we mainly collaborate on Inside Crochet (in fact there is a very lovely interview with her in the current issue 63). She also has an amazing story to share about her own encounter with ovarian cancer, you can read more about her astonishing tale on the p-LUSH blog here. Please do take the time to read this post, as Rachel is doing the 50s Challenge - trying to tell at least 50 people about the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer (which she outlines in the post) as only 3% of women feel they can confidently name a symptom. I was shocked by the fact that many women get repeatedly misdiagnosed with IBS as the symptoms are so similar.

Anyway, onto the hooks! I might have mentioned before that I am not a lover of wooden crochet hooks, and so my heart did sink a little when I picked it up, as I wasn't sure I would like using these. Usually, I find that wood grips my yarn and loops too tightly, making it a pain for me to crochet. However, the hooks are made of beechwood, which is then painted red, and this shiny surface was a smooth joy to hook with. 
Another gripe with wooden hooks is usually that the hook is usually not 'hooked' enough, making it hard to grab the yarn, and getting caught when coming through the stitches. The hook on the p-LUSH hooks, I am pleased to report, is very well defined and crisp, meaning that my stitches were flying off the hook! Luckily the girls sent me a 4mm hook because, as we all know, you can never have enough 4mm hooks and I will definitely be using this one again! 
p-lush. Lush

The range of notions does not stop at hooks - if you are a knitter, they are also selling knitting needles in the same pretty red painted beechwood and £2 from every purchase goes to the ovarian cancer charity. If you do buy a hook or some needles, p-LUSH is asking that you then head to social media and post a picture of them in use with the lushplush and plushbritish hashtags to spread the word. Even if you don't knit or crochet, you can also donate by visiting Rachel's Just Giving page - find the link on the p-LUSH blog.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

i heart you...

Ok, so I am not really that big on Valentines day. 
I don't usually buy the old man anything as I am a little cynical about the commercial side of it, but when I have presented him with a token of my affection on the 14th February, it has got to be handmade, no overpriced stuff from the shops. 
And it is usually heart shaped. 
There have been many gifted items in assorted shapes and sizes over the years, received with varying degrees of enthusiasm, but all stored fondly since nonetheless.
So, this is my favourite, simple heart pattern, which I find sits satisfyingly in the hand as a stress reliever or comforter. Alternatively it can be made easily into a charm or keyring or other form of decoration. 
The best thing about it is that if you forgot to buy your loved ones something, you can knock this up in no time this morning before they wake up! Go on, you know you want to! 

Use any scraps of yarn with corresponding needle size. 
Small amount of toy stuffing.
Yarn needle.

Exact tension not essential but ensure you knit tightly to conceal the stuffing.

With 4mm hook, cast on 3 sts
Row 1: Purl
Row 2: Inc, knit to last st, inc – 5sts.
Rep last two rows until there are 15 sts.
Work 4 rows straight in stocking stitch on these 15sts.
Next row: k2tog, k5, CO 1 stitch, k5, k2tog.
Next row: P4, p2tog, turn leaving rem sts unworked.
Next row: k2tog, k1, k2tog.
Next row: Purl
Cast off

Rejoin yarn to rem sts and complete to match first side.
Make another piece the same.
Sew the two pieces together. Leave a small hole to stuff, then sew up the rem hole.

Lots of love!

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Ava sweater

Ava Sweater Inside Crochet Issue 62, image by Lucy Williams
The latest Inside Crochet, issue 62, is out now and contains a rather cosy little number by yours truly. It is an easy, boxy sweater made from simple graphic square motifs with circles inlaid into them to create a striking geometric pattern. The yarn is Louisa Harding Susurro. As soon as I used this yarn for a sample in the review pages of Inside Crochet, I knew I had to make something in it, and so I hooked up a quick hat for myself in tweed stitch. (The pattern - below - will be available on the Inside Crochet website soon, will let you know when!) 

Tweed Stitch Beanie, image by Emma Gutteridge

After that I was hooked (pardon the pun!) and decided to make a sweater, too, as it is so smooth and beautiful to work with, warm against the skin and has a lovely soft drape. Ava was the result, and I must say, I rather like her! Hope you do too.