Sunday, 19 February 2017

Makers' Month

When I was in Norwich this week, I popped into The Forum to take a look at what was going on during Makers' Month. It's a free event, running over about 4 weeks, and it promotes a huge variety of creative activities, including knitting, crochet, sewing, quilting, spinning, weaving, drawing and painting. There are drop-in activities, exhibitions and bookable workshops too. Local craft groups, creative businesses and individuals are involved. What a fabulous opportunity to learn something new. It is running until Saturday 25th February, so you've still got time to check it out. Here's a little of what was going on when I was there. Does anything catch your eye? xxx

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Review of Manos del Uruguay yarn 'Maxima'

What feels like another world ago, the lovely people at Laughing Hens got in touch with me to see if I'd like to try out some of the yarn that they sell. Who, me? Why thank you very much! Delighted to! So they sent me a skein of this ...

According to the label, Maxima is a 'super-soft merino fibre' and its light single-ply construction makes for a 'cuddly yarn'. It really does feel buttery-soft, so I decided to give it test run by knitting a cowl. Perfect for keeping cosy on cold winter days. I was worried that I might find it a bit splitty, being so softly spun, but that wasn't the case at all. I actually managed to whip up this cowl* on the bus down to Ally Pally last October (it's an aran weight yarn so it knits up nice and fast) and it was a delight to work with.

It's available in 16 colours - some bright and others more muted. The shade I worked with is called Oxygen and is a subtle mix of pale blues. 

Even though it's softly spun, the stitch definition is good and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed working with the yarn. It would also be perfect for a snuggly hat  or some mittens. I have a fair bit left after knitting the cowl so I will see if it's enough for a pair of mitts, or wrist warmers at least.

Here's the yarn details:

  • Care instructions: Cool Hand Wash
  • Blend: 100% Superwash Merino
  • Length: 200m / 219 yds per 100g skein
  • Needle size: 5.0 mm (US 8, UK 6)
  • Popular: Superwash
  • Yarn tension: 18-20 sts in 10cm square
  • Weight: Aran
You can buy it from Laughing Hens here.

Overall, I think Maxima is a lovely yarn for accessories - soft, light and cosy. Perfect for anything that you want to snuggle into and stay warm. Let me know what you think if you try it out. xxx

* I made up the pattern for the cowl and if there's any interest, I will write it up and put it on Ravelry. 

Monday, 13 February 2017

Mindless hooky and giveaway no.2!

It's been a while since I showed you my Granny Square project. It sits by my bed and I've worked on it when I can't sleep. I wanted something mindless to work on and the rhythmical action of crocheting is quite soothing. It uses 12 different shades of Stylecraft Special DK, and I'm trying to be pretty random with the order whilst at the same time, use all the colours equally. The plan is to make 12 squares, each with 19 rounds and then to join them together using the parchment colourway. I've now completed 6 squares, which says something about my sleep (or lack of it!) and I decided to have a go at joining them using the 'join-as-you-go' method from Lucy over at Attic24. 

Flo is up on the bed pretty much every night. Sometimes she appears after I've switched out the light, at other times she's waiting for me to climb into bed. More often than not, she gets herself comfy while I'm reading. She is a darling and I love her to bits. Whether I'd sleep better if she wasn't on the bed, I don't know, but at the moment, we both need the comfort and physical contact. Of course, Flo thinks that this blanket is for her, and she's probably right! I have no idea where it's going to go right now; the making is more important and it'll find a home eventually!

Not sure what kind of border to do yet, but there's plenty of time to decide. Please let me know if you have any brilliant ideas! Also, if anyone can point me in the direction of a good way of weaving in ends on Granny squares, I'd be eternally grateful. I have yet to tackle them as there never seems to be much space to hide them very tidily.

Time also this month to show you what you could win in my second giveaway of the year, where I'm trying to pay forward some of the kindness I've received from yarny folk around the world. I have a seriously gorgeous sheep mug from Mary Kilvert for you. I'll even throw in some of my favourite tea and biscuits too! The giveaway will stay open until midnight on February 28th and I'll post anywhere. Please make sure that you tell me your Ravelry or Instagram ID so that I have a way of getting in touch with you if you're the winner. To enter, please leave me a comment and tell me what's your favourite biscuit for dunking in tea! (Mine's a gingernut!) Back soon. xxx

Friday, 10 February 2017

Stylecraft Blogstars blogging all over the world (and I like it!)

I teased you at the weekend with a photo of the Stylecraft Blogstars, and as promised, I'm back to tell you more about a really fabulous day. This was the second time that we had been invited up to the Stylecraft HQ at Slaithwaite in Yorkshire, and we had a delightful weekend filled with knitting, crochet, lots of yarn and chat. Some of the Blogstars went to the Knitting and Crochet Guild on Friday afternoon and it looked fascinating. I wasn't able to go as I had to work, but if you want to get a flavour of what they saw, take a look at Kathryn's blog post. I arrived in time for dinner, and it was a very relaxed affair where it was quite normal to bring your your knitting or crochet to the table! Here we all are at the start of the meal - the wine was flowing nicely! From the left, Kathryn of Crafternoon Treats, Juliet Bernard, Jane Crowfoot, Lucia from Lucia's Fig Tree, Annabelle Hill, me, Phil from The Twisted Yarn, Sandra from Cherry Heart and Sarah from Annaboo's House

Thanks to Phil for the photo.

The following morning, we met up at the mill. It was really good to see everyone. Not only that, but we were also able to 'meet', thanks to the wonders of technology, two of the Blogstars team who live in the Southern Hemisphere and joined us via Skype. Here are Angela and Zelna getting comfortable in their front row seats for the presentation! 

And here they are greeting us! 

Thanks to Sophie for the photo.

We were introduced to lots of new yarns and colours that will be released over the coming weeks and months. I'd like to tell you all about them, but my lips are sealed for now! We also got to see and feel some of the garments that have been designed using these new yarns, which was a real treat. One of my favourites, which is already in the shops, is an aran weight yarn called Jeanie. Think about your go-to, most comfy denim jeans and you have it! The yarn comes in four shades and the colours were created from actual pairs of jeans, so are absolutely spot on! I fell in love with a gorgeous blanket - all cables and stripes. I reckon Flo might like it too! I have some to play around with at home...


We also had a session about social media; I clearly have so much to learn here and am about to dip my toes into the big pond called Facebook! Once I have a 'josiekitten' page set up, I'll post a link so you can mosey on over and hopefully 'like' it!  

There was yarn a-plenty in bowls all the way down the table for us to pick up and fondle, ooh and aah over and start playing with, not to mention a goody bag, filled to bursting with the new yarns to take home. You are in for a real treat this spring, let me tell you! 

A couple of the Blogstars - Heather and Lucia - brought along some of their stunning blankets which were very much admired. Thanks to Sophie for the following photos...

We all loved the mix of yarns that Lucia put together for this blanket; I think she was lucky to get it back to take home with her!! Lucy, Jane and Sarah are getting a closer look here.

After a yummy lunch and some exceedingly squishy chocolate and cherry cake,  (I think it was ok as part of my '5-a-day') Sophie showed us how to do Tunisian crochet. Although I can crochet, I've not progressed much beyond basic Granny squares, so I wasn't sure how easy I was going to find it. But actually, it was ok - a weird mix of crochet and knitting. I used a cotton yarn and the fabric I produced was quite dense - perfect for washcloths. There was a real air of concentration in the room as we got the grips with the technique! 

Here's my efforts from the session...

Blogging is a pretty solitary activity and although you 'know' people through their blogs, it was such a treat to be able to get together with such friendly, creative people and talk about what we love best - yarn! I feel incredibly lucky to have been asked to be part of the group. To be able to sit and chat with people who are as enthusiastic as you about their craft is pretty special. Thank you so much to Annabelle, Juliet, Sophie and Charlotte for giving us such a brilliant and inspiring weekend. I drove back to Norfolk with my head whirring with possibilities and can't wait for our next meet up in July! xxx