Thursday, 15 August 2019

Granny Square Day 2019

Happy Granny Square Day to you! I chose to make my square using the 4 new shades of Stylecraft Yarns Bellissima DK yarn. I really love working with this yarn and have just finished a Big. Secret. Project using it which I will be able to share with you later in the year. The yarn is 100% acrylic and is spun in a way that makes a very rounded yarn, with great stitch definition and softness. These are the new shades - I find it hard to pick a favourite! How about you?

The Bellissima DK yarn range is interchangeable with the Bambino DK yarns and the two go really well together. There are quite a few colours in the range now and I hope that even more will be added. I'd like to see another purple and green for starters!

Granny Square Day is being organised by Simply Crochet magazine and it's best to head over to Instagram and search the hashtag #grannysquareday2019 to see virtual Granny Square blankets created before your very eyes. Have you made your Granny Square yet? It's not too late! xxx

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Get ready for Granny Square Day!

Copyright Simply Crochet

Popping in to remind all you lovely peeps out there that Granny Square Day is coming up this week. On August 15th to be precise. It's being organised by the team over at Simply Crochet where you can read up about what's involved and how to be part of a huge virtual Granny Square blanket. Head over there in a minute to find out all the details. I'll be back on Thursday with my Granny Square which just happens to showcase some rather lovely new yarn from Stylecraft! Can't wait to spill the beans! xxx

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Stylecraft Blogstars meetup and party time!

This time last week I was on a train travelling back home from the summer Stylecraft Yarns Blogstars meeting. I went by train as driving any distance is a bit of a no-go at the moment, but that was great because it meant I could knit on my journey! In fact, I am extremely happy with what came off my needles and I am sure that you will be seeing more of it in due course! (Sorry, I can't even share a sneaky peek!)

Our Blogstar meeting coincided with Stylecraft's 30th 'Purl Anniversary' party. Competitions were held earlier in the year which resulted in 30 members of the public and 30 yarn shop owners being invited to the Stylecraft mill for a day packed with party games, workshops and celebrations. Initially when the party was first planned, I was going to be teaching a knitting workshop, but most annoyingly, my health made it clear that this was going to be impossible. Even so, it was wonderful to be able to see the party preparations and see what delights were in store for the lucky, lucky attendees. One of the rooms in the mill had been partially cleared to make space, with boxes upon boxes of yarns in the background. Think of it as a bit of a Stylecraft Pick and Mix experience! Annabelle and Juliet and some of the other Stylecraft team worked tirelessly on Friday to create a wonderful woolly welcome for the guests. Here are a few photos to give you an idea. My fellow Blogstar Phil was at the Purl Party and you can read more about it here

Just follow the yarn fumes!
Pompom bunting everywhere!
Tables set out for the games and workshops

Annabelle and Juliet had come up with some super-fun party games including Special DK bingo. A mahoosive box containing one each of all the colours in the Special DK range was ready to have balls picked at random to match with the specially made bingo cards. Winners would be presented with gorgeous yarny bouquets.

One of the prizes in the Special DK bingo. House!

There was also a game of 'Guess which colours of Special DK are missing'. Fourteen or fifteen little knitted jumpers have been left out of the display. The Blogstars spent some time trying to work it out. Lucy from Attic24 and Helen from Crystals and Crochet certainly know their colours!

Helen and Lucy working out which colours were missing.

Each of the Blogstars who was running a workshop had a space to display some of their work. It was so inspiring to see such creativity all in one place and I have to pinch myself sometimes that I'm part of this group. I'm so lucky.

Emma Varnam was teaching her group to make crocheted cacti.

Jane Crowfoot's group were learning how to add beads to crochet.

Phil's group were learning about simple motif design and stranded knitting.

Helen Shrimpton's group were learning about different kinds of crochet stitches.

Lucy's group were crocheting cotton mandalas.

In our Blogstars meeting, we were given a sneak preview of the new yarns and colours for this autumn and winter, as well as a peep at some possible yarns for next spring and summer which had us squealing with excitement!!! Several of the coming season's yarns have already been released so I can share those with you.

Starlight is a new aran weight yarn, 60% cotton, 39% premium acrylic and 1% polyester, giving it that lovely sparkle. I can see a gorgeous lacy wrap knitted in this - perfect for when it gets a little cooler in the evenings. 

There are three new colours in the Life DK range. I am rather a fan of those shades with the nepps in them. Life is 25% wool and 75% acrylic and comes in a good range of colours.

There are also three new shades in the Special Aran range in the big 400g balls. Finally a ball that Flo can't steal, although I would quite like to see her try!

Three new colourways have been introduced into the Batik Swirl yarn cakes. I really like these as they are perfect for knitting or crocheting items where you want some variety of colour but don't really want to have to deal with lots of ends to weave in. Batik is really nice to work with, and is 80% acrylic and 20% wool. It has a dappled effect which is rather attractive and it's lovely and soft too.

Meet Bruno and Jessie! These cute characters have both knitted and crocheted options and are sure to become favourites with little ones. 

I was lucky enough to see the latest blanket design by Helen Boreham at the mill last weekend. It's crocheted in Special DK and is called the Tessellation blanket. There are two colour options as well as a DIY colour plan if you fancy designing your own colourway.

In the afternoon we had an excellent photography workshop where we learnt how to take flat lay photos. I will be sharing my photo with you soon as it's all to do with Granny Square Day which is coming up very soon.

Congratulations to Stylecraft on 30 years of bringing knitters and crocheters around the world some of the most beautiful, colourful and affordable yarns. Here's to the next ten years! xxx

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Meet the original josiekitten

Let me introduce you to the original josiekitten! (Doesn't she bear an uncanny likeness to Flo?) Josie was my first cat, given to me by a friend as a house warming present when I bought my first house! I can still remember the day that we went to the cat sanctuary to choose a cat. My friend wanted to get me a fluffy tabby cat with a funny meow but as I walked past the cage where Josie was, she pushed both her front legs as far through as she could and grabbed hold of me! So she chose me really and there wasn't any more to be said! Josie was definitely a 'one-person' kind of cat. She loved me but could be a tad grumpy with others. But she was a gorgeous girl and we had many happy years together. Her fur was the softest, silkiest fur I have ever stroked (but don't tell Flo that!) When I was looking for a name for my blog, josiekitten felt right. How did you choose your blog name? xxx

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Varieties of tulips

It's given me such a thrill to see different versions of my Tiptoe socks popping up on Instagram recently. As a fledgling designer, it's always at the back of my mind that no one will like my designs enough to want to knit them. The original Tiptoe socks were designed for the launch of the Stylecraft Yarns Head over Heels All Star range of yarns, created by the Stylecraft Blogstars and voted for by you.

I think Denise (@lilacden on Instagram) has knitted more pairs of Tiptoe socks than me! But her beautiful knitting shows just how versatile the pattern is, looking great knitted in a semi-solid, gradient or self-striping yarn. 

Joy (@joydewdney on Instagram) has knitted a pair in a solid colour and it's making me want to cast on a pair right now!

Caroline (@letsjustcrochet on Instagram) played yarn chicken with her version of the socks, adding a glorious pop of colour at the cuff, heel and toe. I have some mini skeins so may well try out her idea on another pair. 

You can download the pattern for free from the Stylecraft website here. So why don't you cast on your very own pair this weekend? Please share your projects and tag me in on Instagram. It's such a lovely feeling to see your designs being enjoyed by others. xxx

(PS Thank you so much Denise, Joy and Caroline for letting me share your photos xxx)

Monday, 10 June 2019

On the subject of mice

Meow meow everyone, it's Flo here! I've told you in the past of my love for little furry critters. If you need a reminder, then take a look here. The other day, Mum was tidying up my toys. I appear to have quite a lot of them! This is my mouse collection - pretty impressive, huh? I have a mouse for every occasion, a bit like having a handbag for each outfit I believe.

Even though I love all of these dearly, there is nothing quite like the real thing. My furry pals have been gathering in the garden and I thought it was only polite to invite them in. As I'm a thoughtful cat and I know that they would struggle to get in through the cat flap, I carry them in myself, ever so gently in my mouth. Then of course I let them free and we have a little scamper round together.

Mum wasn't impressed when she found me playing with one of my mice chums the other morning. We were in the middle of a game of hide and seek by her shoes and she was such a spoil sport, catching the mouse and depositing it back outside. (I've noticed her looking inside her shoes every morning since!!!)

But Mum didn't realise that I'd made it 'Open House' and invited all and sundry in. Imagine her surprise when another one of my rodent mates popped out from under the sofa and headed over to the fire place! She told me to do my duty as Chief Mouser (I must admit that did sound quite an important job) so I dutifully sat staring at the fireplace for a few minutes, just to keep her happy. Don't tell her, but I actually had a snooze while I had my back to her!

Since then, I've noticed lots of little boxes appearing around the house. Mum says that they are special houses for mice but they look rather small to me. Not even room to swing a ..... (now cat just sounds wrong) but you get what I'm saying! She says they will be much happier inside there nice and cosy, and she's even put some food in there for them! I was quite happy sharing my bowl with them. Mum keeps asking me how many friends I've got staying over, but truth be told, I've lost count! Am I a bad cat for wanting to help the homeless mice of Norfolk? Meow meow meow! xxx

Sunday, 2 June 2019

200 more Crochet Stitches - a review

I have a real treat for all you crocheters and wannabe-crocheters out there today! Back in April I reviewed another of Tracey Todhunter's books - Crochet Learn it Love it, and I'm thrilled to be sharing another of Tracey's books with you today. The book is called 200 more Crochet Stitches, with the description 'a practical guide with swatches, charts and step-by-step instructions.'  Tracey, who blogs over at Granny Cool Crochet, is a well-known, popular crochet designer with more than 20 years of teaching crochet and she has filled this book to the absolute brim with some of the most amazing crochet stitches you could imagine. I'm more adventurous with my knitting than my crochet, but with the help of this book, I was able to be brave and dip my toes into the crochet world beyond the granny square. 

As well as a huge directory of stitches, this book also has a brilliant Crochet Skills section so that even a beginner could use this book to expand on their crochet skills as it takes you through materials, equipment, basic techniques and stitches. The Stitch Directory is divided into 12 sections: Basic Stitches, Fans and Shells, Clusters, Puffs and Popcorns, Spike Stitches, Raised Stitches, Mesh and Filet, Lace and Openwork, Waves and Chevrons, Textured Stitches, Tunisian Stitches, Colourwork and Edgings. The contents pages very clearly show each stitch with a colour photo, so if you know the kind of stitch you're looking for, it's dead easy to go straight to the page needed. 

Each stitch not only has a clear, colour, actual size photo, but also comes with step-by-step photos, written instructions and charts which I found incredibly helpful. Having only just started to read crochet charts when I reviewed Tracey's other book, I challenged myself to become more proficient in this skill as I tried out some of the stitches. As I read each instruction, I then looked at the corresponding chart and tried to crochet following that. And do you know what? It actually became a lot easier the more I tried. (I was exactly the same with knitting, preferring written instructions to charts, but persevered and now prefer the simplicity of the charts - much quicker and less cluttered than all that reading!) Tracey also offers suggestions for the sorts of projects that can be made from the different stitch patterns which is very helpful. I picked out a few stitches that caught my eye to have a play...

*** Braided Stripes***

*** Picot Fans ***

*** Flower Garden ***

I really like this book and I know that it's going to be a fabulous source of inspiration for me as I would really like to do some more crochet designs. Only one thing would have made it even better and that would be to make it a spiral bound book, so that the pages stay open at the chosen stitch more easily. But I guess as it gets more use, that will happen naturally. I don't think it's going to take too long!

200 more Crochet Stitches by Tracey Todhunter is published by Search Press and is available now. 

ISBN: 978-1-78221-663-6

RRP: £14.99

Search Press have very generously offered to give a copy of this book to one lucky person. I'm really sorry but due to publishing restrictions, it's only available to people in the UK. If you'd like to be in with a chance of winning this brilliant crochet book, please leave me a comment and also a way to contact you if you're the winner (Ravelry/Instagram name or email address.) The giveaway will run until midnight on Sunday 9th June and then a winner will be randomly selected. If I don't hear back from the winner within a week, I will pick another one! Good luck to all you UK crocheters and may the power of the hook be with you! xxx