Saturday, 30 November 2019

Introducing Fibre 4 Fibres

Hello!! I'm so excited to be able to share with you my latest fundraising idea. Last year I had my Great Yarn Giveaway and managed to raise more than £8000 for the British Heart Foundation in memory of my lovely Mr JK. I'm going to be raising much needed funds for Myositis UK. This small charity is very important to me as I've been diagnosed with this rare autoimmune disease and it has really turned my life upside down. From being a fit and active person who had completed a half marathon and had plans for much more, I am now only able to walk with crutches, can't climb inclines or stairs, have difficulty swallowing and constantly suffer with muscle pain and exhaustion. Money raised helps to fund vital research into diagnosis and treatment. Can I beat £8000? It would be amazing if I was able to. As well as donating £1 from each of my pattern sales on Ravelry and through Stylecraft, I'm planning to hold a whole year of yarny giveaways! What's different this time is that each giveaway will only run for one day! Each Sunday, I'll be posting about the giveaway on Instagram and Facebook and then there will be a link to my Just Giving page where you can enter. A donation of £1 gets you one entry into the raffle, £5 gets you 5 tickets, £10 gets you 10 - it's nice and simple. But you will have to be in it to win it! If you don't already follow me on Instagram, there's a link in the side bar. So please tell all your friends! I will post the prizes anywhere! (Well perhaps not to the moon!) I've already had offers of donations and will also be giving away some of the extremely lovely skeins of yarn in my stash, as well as making some prizes too. The fun starts tomorrow so I hope you'll join me on my Fibre 4 Fibres journey! xxx

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Another Good Striations cushion

Mr JK always teased me when a new cushion appeared on the sofa, but in my view, there's always room for another one! For me, there is something cosy and inviting about a well-cushioned sofa - I want to go and snuggle on it and make myself nice and comfortable. So I was more than happy to try out another version of my Good Striations pattern using two colours of Stylecraft Dream Catcher yarn. Dream Catcher is a DK yarn made of 90% premium acrylic and 10% wool. It comes in yarn cakes which are gradient dyed in a whole range of beautiful colours. The yarn is incredibly soft and has a slight haze which makes it very cosy. There are 10 colours in the range and I chose two - Chinook and Apache - for the cushion. The beauty of using a gradient yarn in this pattern is that there are very few ends to weave in as the colours change gradually. You can see how the cushion front progressed ...

I love how Flo is feigning complete disinterest in the last photo! But don't be fooled, the yarn passed the 'Flo squishability test' with flying colours! 

For the cushion backs, I decided to do narrow 2-row stripes of each colour, again minimising the ends, (Can you tell that I don't like weaving in ends very much?!) and finishing with a ribbed section to provide a bit of stretch on the edge.

I then mattress- stitched the cushion together under Flo's supervision before putting a lovely plump cushion inner inside it. 

There are lots of beautiful colours in the range to choose from. As long as you pick yarns that have different colours, I think it will turn out just fine. It's fun watching the pattern pop as the different colours interplay. Which colours do you like? From the top right, going clockwise we have Arapaho, Blackfoot, Comanche, Cinnamon Roses, Tree of Life, Rainbow Dreams, Cheyenne and Ocean Deep in the centre. 

If you're interested in knitting your own cushion using Dream Catcher, you can buy the pattern from my Ravelry store here. £1 from each pattern sale will be donated to Myositis UK. For this cushion, I followed the blanket stripe pattern rather than the cushion stripe pattern and cast on 95 stitches for a finished cushion size of approximately 50cm square. You can also buy the pattern as a gorgeous colour booklet from Stylecraft stockists, including Woolwarehouse. I have to admit to being a tiny bit excited when I spotted it on their website! 

Do you remember my Great Yarn Giveaway that I held last year to raise money for the British Heart Foundation? Pop back tomorrow for some exciting news! xxx

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Good Striations News!

Good morning! I've popped in just to share some very exciting news with you! Stylecraft are now exclusively distributing printed copies of my Good Striations blanket and cushion pattern. I've been sent a few copies and they have done a fantastic job. It's an 8 page colour booklet and looks so professional that I have to pinch myself that it's my design. £1 from each pattern sale will still be donated to Myositis UK to help raise funds to research this incurable muscle disease. You should be able to buy a copy from your local Stylecraft stockist so please ask them to order some in! Of course, it's still available to download from Ravelry here. So far I've raised almost £200 and I have big plans for other fundraising. Watch this space! xxx

Saturday, 16 November 2019

Mabel Bunny & Co. - a review

I have such a lovely book to share with you today. Mabel Bunny & Co. is a truly delightful collection of crochet animals that are just waiting to become your friend. If you have any little people in your life (or just fancy having an extremely huggable crochet pal yourself) then this book is perfect for you. They are designed by Claire Gelder, who has created her own business, Wool Couture, and also got investment from two of BBC TV's Dragons' Den investors in order to pass on her passion for all things crafty to future generations. Claire has her own range of chunky yarn which you can use to create the animals, but of course you don't have to use that. I like the idea of using yarn of different thicknesses and adjusting the hook size to make a whole family of creatures. Claire actually does this with three of the patterns but there's no reason why you can't do it with all of them! 

The book includes lots of information on tools and materials as well as a comprehensive guide to techniques with some excellent photo tutorials. So even if you are a beginner crocheter, there's no reason why you can't have a go. There's also some really helpful advice on how to bring the animals to life. If you've made a soft toy before, you'll know how important it is to get the features looking 'just right'. Claire holds your hand through the making up process so you're guaranteed to be happy with the results. 

There are 15 different animals in the book, all designed to be soft and floppy, perfect for hugs and cuddles. There are three levels of difficulty in the book, indicated in a fun way with bunny symbols. 

It's very hard to pick a favourite, they are all so adorable and tactile. I just want to reach into the pages of the book and give them a hug. But here are a few that have caught my eye in particular...

Mabel Bunny (and her baby)

Squee! Just look at those pompom tails!

Teetee Dragon (designed to celebrate the two Dragons' Den investors, but also pretty perfect if you happen to have seen this year's John Lewis Christmas advert!)

Lilly Polar Bear - I think this one is my favourite!

Once I get all my Christmas gift making out of the way, I'm going to be stash diving to make my own polar bear, she is just too irresistible! You are never too old for a hug in my view! 

Mabel Bunny & Co. is a really lovely book that would make the perfect gift for a crocheting friend, or for you to make your own collection of cuddly creatures. The book is written in US crochet terms (with UK terms in brackets) and is available at bookshops as well as all the usual online sellers. You can even buy kits to make some of the animals from the Wool Couture website.

Mabel Bunny & Co. by Claire Gelder is published by Search Press and is available now.

ISBN: 978-1-78221-733-6

RRP: £12.99

Sunday, 20 October 2019

A week when you learn about the importance of tension!

So my week has looked a lot like this, with every day spent at the hospital getting daily infusions of immunoglobulin. It's a gold star treatment, costing around £10,000, so I feel very fortunate to be given it. Fingers crossed it will get things under control. Having a cannula made it challenging to knit, but I did manage to do a little. It created much interest amongst the nurses and other patients and they were all intrigued in what I was doing.

At the start of the week, my plain vanilla sock (using one of Stylecraft's Head over Heels sock yarns) looked like this ...

And by Friday it looked like this ...

And then on Saturday, it looked like this ...

I'd had to change the way I knit whilst I had the cannula in, and that affected the tension of my knitting. Having already knit the first sock, the second was for a person with a much smaller foot! So with much cursing, I had to frog the second sock back to the cuff. It's all ready for my trip down to King's College Hospital in London this week - perfect train knitting whilst listening to an audio book. Tension hasn't really been an issue for me until now, so I'm glad it was discovered on something relatively small! Have you had any tension disasters? xxx

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Inverse Striations socks

Hot on the heels of my Good Striations blanket, I'm thrilled to be releasing 'Inverse Striations' today. It's a fun and quirky sock pattern, based on the same stitch pattern as the blanket, and I have to say that I'm just a little bit in love with it! You use one solid colour yarn and one colourful yarn. In the first pair I have used West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 ply in Licourice and Rum Paradise and in the second pair, I've used Opal Uni 4ply in Black and Stylecraft Yarns Head over Heels Allstars yarn in Woldgate

I reversed the colour order in the two socks, creating an inverse pair, and that's how the pattern got its name. They are addictive and quick to knit, and easy too as you only ever use one colour of yarn in a round. I'm already planning my third pair. 

You can buy the pattern from my Ravelry designer pager here. It costs £4.20 but there's a 25% discount until the end of October and I'm donating £1 from each pattern sale to Myositis UK to fund research  into this incurable muscle disease. I'd love it if you decided to knit a pair too. Please share and tag me in on Instagram or Facebook as I'd love to see your socks! Thank you for your support and happy knitting! xxx

Friday, 4 October 2019

Good Striations

Copyright Stylecraft Yarns

You know what it's like when you've got something that you want to share with others, but you're not allowed to? I've been like a child counting down the days until Christmas over the past month; crossing off each day, fit to burst, impatiently waiting for this day to come! And now it's finally here, picture me jumping up and down and turning cartwheels, giddy with excitement!

I am so delighted to be sharing my latest design with you today. Just feast your eyes on all those delicious ripply waves! Believe it or not, 'Good Striations' was inspired by photos of muscle fibres. I've been diagnosed with a rare muscle disease and have spent a lot of time surfing the net to find out as much information as possible about the disease. In this design, the bundles of striated muscle fibres are represented in waves of knitting to create a stylish and contemporary blanket and cushion. I've used Stylecraft Bellissima and Bambino yarns, which are completely interchangeable. The DK yarn is 100% premium acrylic, spun like merino, with beautiful drape and stitch definition. It's soft and cosy, making it perfect for snugly blankets as well as jumpers and accessories. 

The blanket is framed by a moss stitch border in cream, with the waves of colour interspersed with cream throughout, while the cushion has vibrant bands of colour and a striped envelope back. To make both the blanket and cushion, you will need 17 balls of yarn in total, and there is plenty of yarn to make both the blanket and at  least one cushion. The design uses slipped stitches, and knits up quickly. Although it looks complicated, it's actually dead easy, I promise you! It's a relaxing knit. It took me under 6 weeks to make, so if you start now, you'll definitely be finished by Christmas! I wanted to show off the new season's colours in the Bellissima range, and chose others to complement them. There are some absolutely beautiful colours across the Bellissima and Bambino ranges.

I was lucky enough to get the blanket finished in time to be included in the Stylecraft photo shoot and make no apologies for bombarding you with photos!  I keep pinching myself that that this is my blanket! I feel incredibly fortunate to have been asked to become one of the Stylecraft Blogstars. I really like how they styled it. I'm in love with this blanket and it's going to be mine, all mine (and probably Flo's too!)

Copyright Stylecraft Yarns

Copyright Stylecraft Yarns

Copyright Stylecraft Yarns

Copyright Stylecraft Yarns

Copyright Stylecraft Yarns

I decided to make a rectangular cushion and to have the waves of colour going the opposite direction to the blanket. I love how the colours inter-play and make different parts of the pattern stand out. The striped envelope back opening makes it easy to insert the cushion pad and remove it for washing. You can follow my colour order or have fun creating your own colour combinations.

If you haven't yet joined the new Stylecraft Makealong Group over on Facebook, why not pop over there now. There's a friendly bunch of people hanging out there who love to knit and crochet using Stylecraft yarns. The group has been set up to offer friendship and support whilst working on projects using Stylecraft yarn. Hopefully some of you will be inspired to make my blanket and I'll definitely be there to cheer you on and perhaps cast on another blanket myself.

I originally tried out my design using Stylecraft Special DK while I was waiting for the new colours of Bellissima to be released. I chose a rainbow of colours and decided to back it with some soft minky fabric and stitch on a binding. This baby blanket is going to live with little Dottie very soon. 

The pattern is available from my Ravelry page here. It costs £4.20, but you can get 25% off during the whole of October. I'm donating £1 from each pattern sale to the charity Myositis UK to help fund research into muscle disease. I've set up a Just Giving page (there's a link to it at the top of my blog) where I'll be able to add the money I raise.  I would love it if you bought my pattern to help raise some much-needed money for the charity. I hope you like it and have fun knitting it! I'm really proud of it! xxx

PS The blanket will be on the Stylecraft stand at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Ally Pally next week for you to squish and fondle, and I believe that there will also be yarn packs including the pattern available for you to buy. Squee! Sooooo exciting! Did I say I'm excited?!