For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb
Psalm 139:13

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

my secret crochet project!



Yep, it's one of those 'I made a thing!' kinda posts. But this is actually really exciting. You know that secret project I alluded to last week? Well, it's this! 

Image from Simply Crochet

Have you seen the latest issue of Simply Crochet? I designed a trio of pretty beaded wedding accessories for issue 44 and it hits the shops today! 

I used Debbie Abrahams beads (SO good) and scrummy BC Garn Silkbloom Fino yarn for these projects. It's a lovely silk merino blend that feels luxurious. There's a beaded bracelet, garter and a flowery hair comb. Now I'm just wishing I'd had the foresight and skills back in 2013 to hook these for our big day! And now I know how easy it is to stitch with beads, well, let's just say there'll be more where that came from! 

Have you ever used beads in your knitting crochet? 


Wednesday, 20 April 2016

taking stock: April



I always find these Taking Stock posts super-helpful for catching up with myself and with you! I have been busy busy and feel like I haven't given myself a lot of time to properly collect my thoughts lately, let alone try to write them down here with pretty pictures. Also, haven't finished anything I'm able to share here just yet (hint hint: exciting project reveal to come!).

So, here's what I'm up to at the moment. How are things with you?

Making: This top which is so nearly finished! 
Cooking: As little as possible. 
Drinking: Mint green tea – it's the best of both. Leave the teabag in if you're feeling particularly wild! 
Reading: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Sooooo 2012. I'm really late to the party.
Wanting: everyone I know to just live in one place - would make life so much easier! 
Looking: forward to the #CraftyBlissChallenge starting on Friday – my first Insta challenge!
Deciding: gym twice a week may be necessary.
Wishing: I'd gone for shorter hair years ago! 
Enjoying: the #crochetgirlgang hashtag on Instagram – encouragement and vibrant stitchery. 
Waiting: for Saltwater sandal season to begin - come on sunshine! 
Liking: swatching. Never thought I'd say that. 
Wondering: how long I can put off big, scary grown up decisions. Ugh.
Loving: blossom everywhere.
Pondering: a big adventure.
Considering: investing in a decent yoga mat - mine's become both slippery and crumbly.
Buying: all the teabags.
Watching: my sister ace her career goals with so much honesty and love. She's magical.
Hoping: a big project I have in mind will come together. Watch this space.
Needing: to book a proper holiday this year. Any recommendations?
Questioning: my priorities. This one needs some more thought! 
Following: @tasteofstreep on Instagram – makes me hoot without fail. 
Thinking: cheap weekend breaks would be easier if we had some wheels! Camping without a car? I don't think so.
Disliking: the big city pollution we live in. Yuck. 
Snacking: on banana with a way-too-generous slathering of Nutella. Mr P's genius idea. 
Hearing: the Relevant podcast on my walk to work, then a crafty one on my way home.

As always, this Taking Stock post was inspired by Pip. Visit her blog to find a full list you can copy.  


Monday, 11 April 2016

shawl indecision



I have some lovely yarn but don't know what to make with it! What a First World problem, eh? Seriously though, I would really appreciate your opinion on this. Mr P treated me to these stunning skeins of Direwolf Grafitti 4ply from La Bien Aimee on our trip to Paris last year (sorry not sorry, I'm STILL not over it). I decided I'd like to crochet a shawl with it, but have no idea where to start as there are sooo many beautiful designs out there. 



The variegation is pretty out there and unlike anything I've made a shawl with before. I want to be careful to pick something that really shows off the yarn without being swallowed up my the colours, if that makes sense? 

Here are a couple of contenders. Let me know what you think! 




I love Cecile's designs and part of me wonders if a French yarn should have a French design?


The Shawl Project designs are brilliant and this one looks like it could be really versatile to wear. 


Urg, it's just so drapey and gorgeous. 

I haven't the foggiest!

*Shawl images from Ravelry. See links above.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

yarn along: Maggie O'Farrell, crochet and an x-ray


Hey folks, thought I'd pop in to share what I'm up to at the mo. And I've got some seriously mixed feelings about these two. 

Let's start with the book, shall we? I picked this up at the library because I LOVED Maggie O'Farrell's The Hand That First Held Mine. I'm only a little way in so far, but am floundering a bit as, while beautifully written and absorbing, it's really not the most uplifting read. I'd recommend Instructions for a Heatwave, but not if your soul's in need of something lighthearted. Team it with some Austen or PG Wodehouse, I reckon, and you'll be on to a winner. Oh, and this book's now hideously overdue as I couldn't get it back to the library because A&E! Which leads me to...

The crochet project. Nope, that cardigan still isn't finished, but a recent long train journey necessitated a crochet WIP that was good to go. I grabbed this orange top and it was all going so well until my fingers had a run-in with a car boot last weekend. Ouch. We hot-footed it to the hospital where I had my first ever x-ray (waaay less exciting than I'd hoped). Miraculously, although the car boot completely shut on my fingers, I came away with no breaks or fractures at all. I'm actually fine, just some tiny cuts and a bit of swelling. But I did have to rest my hand (doctor's orders) and haven't worked a single stitch all week. I can't tell you how odd it's been. Have you ever had to halt your making against your will? Very frustrating. 

Practically, Easter for me this year will be travelling and fun family time. On the train I'll be tentatively wielding my crochet hook once more and getting stuck into the orange top again (it's a treble cluster dream of a project from Simply Crochet issue 30 and it's now available as a Ravelry download, too). 

But ultimately, Easter is about hope. I can put aside whatever stuff is going on and know that love wins in the end. Wishing you and yours a peaceful break over Easter!  

I'm joining in again with Ginny's Yarn Along.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

spinning and dyeing yarn for newbies


I've known maker and lovely creative lady Marina for a little while. She's a fearless textile lover who can turn her hand to anything. Since we don't live in the same city any more, I've spent a lot of time gawping at her Instagram feed where she shares what she's been making (she's just bought a spinning wheel – living the dream!).  Basically there's a lot of gorgeous yarn and colourful fibres (swoon!). I'd been meaning to pick her brains about how she got into spinning and dyeing yarn and then thought why not share it here?


Hi Marina! I know you've been a knitter for some time, but what inspired you to take the plunge and get into dyeing and spinning?
I started both spinning and dyeing around the same time. I had always assumed you needed a spinning wheel to make yarn, so never really looked into it. Then I found out that drop spindles exist, and are an inexpensive, easy way to start spinning - I went to a local yarn shop the next day, picked up a spindle kit and got started! Once I was thinking creatively about the yarn itself, rather than simply looking for existing yarn for my projects, I knew that I wanted to play with colour. I happened to have some pure undyed wool in my stash, and some dyes from some tie-dye attempts a couple of years ago. As with the spinning, I decided I would give it a go, then spent all of the next day dyeing yarn and was immediately hooked!

Do you have any advice for newbies who'd like to give spinning or dyeing a go?
Don’t be scared! Both things can be intimidating, but are really good fun. Spinning can require a fair bit of practice to get the hang of it, but is then a really relaxing process. I’m still working on my spinning technique, and have just bought a spinning wheel, so am constantly improving. Dyeing is very different and makes me feel like a crazy chemist sometimes! I like to mix my own colours from primary colours, rather than buying pre-mixed colours. Working from primaries (usually yellow, magenta, and blue) is a good way to get into it if you are confident in your colour mixing and want to try out a wide range of colours without buying lots of different dyes.


Have you had any spinning or dyeing disasters?
Of course! My first handspun yarn was genuinely comical. It was neon yellow, chunky and lumpy, and so thick it would have been the width of my thumb if I’d bothered to ply it. I called it a practice run and carried on! Each successive spin was then a bit better, looking a bit more like ‘real’ yarn, and more consistent. As for dyeing, sometimes results can be a bit unexpected. The closest I’ve had to a disaster was when I started trying out a new type of dye. I was going for a nice teal and warm brown combo - it came out turquoise and pink and black and all sorts of colours! I realised I needed to make a lot of tweaks to my technique to make that type of dye give the colours I want. 

What bits of kit do you swear by?
Because I want to spend as much time possible doing the creative, fun bits, I ended up resenting the amount of time I was spending ‘reformatting’ yarn. The two things that have been lifesavers are a ball winder, which just clamps onto the edge of a table or surface, and winds a lovely cake of yarn so quickly. The other is a niddy noddy, which I mostly wanted because it’s the best, most made-up sounding name for anything I’ve ever come across. I had previously been winding skeins either between my hand and elbow, or round chair backs, both of which work, but neither is ideal. The niddy noddy makes such short work of making a skein that I barely notice I’ve started winding by the time it’s all done!


What's your favourite thing that you've made?
A couple of months ago I knitted a chunky grey and orange brioche cowl; it was the first thing I made completely from my hand spun, hand dyed yarn. I loved the colour combination and the fact that I’d taken it from colourless fluff to a unique, beautiful, wearable item. I have made other things from my handmade yarn since then, but am still so proud of that one. 

What can you tell us about your favourite fibres and techniques?
I really love Shetland wool to spin and knit; it’s so lovely and soft, and pleasant to work with, and I love the range of natural colours it comes in. Brioche is currently my favourite knitting technique (and I don't think I’m alone in that!) as it’s a relatively easy way to create textured contrast between two yarns. I’m going to try out some more complex variations soon, and am excited for that! 


Your colour combinations are amazing! Where do you find inspiration?
Thank you; I love colour! There are certain combinations that I love; any mix of brown and blue will win me over. I like to have a specific image in mind when creating colour ways; sometimes a scene from nature, or the feeling of a particular day. It can get a bit abstract! I have a Pinterest board that I use to pin any photos I find with interesting colours, which I can use as inspiration if I’m a bit stuck for my next dye lot. Usually my plan changes between looking at the screen and mixing the dyes, but it’s a starting point.


Who are your favourite yarn crafters and where can we find you online?
Stephen West is a huge inspiration in looking at knitwear design from a totally new, unique perspective, and Meghan Shimek’s beautiful weavings make me want to roll around in soft wool all day. I’m on Instagram @marinaskua, where you can see the behind-the-scenes work as I create and continue to learn, and my online shop is www.marinaskua.etsy.com.



Sunday, 14 February 2016

Sheepish Heart Bomb 2016


Can you believe it? This year is the third time I've joined in with Meredith's Sheepish Heart Bomb. I still think it's always a good idea to let people know they are loved, if only in a small, yarny sort of way. 

I sat crocheting (watching Legally Blonde, I might add) these pretty granny hearts yesterday, then released them into the wild today. A few things were different this year, actually. We live in a different city now, so it was fun thinking of a new place to leave them and I used a different pattern to make bigger hearts. I've pinned it here if you fancy making some. These were fairly speedy to do and look fab. I might make some for Christmas. 

Did you spread some love this weekend?



Wednesday, 10 February 2016

yarn along: guilty pleasures and Miette



Have you been having stormy weather where you are? It's been beyond blustery here. We're firmly in 'blowing a hoolie' territory. But, that's the perfect weather for curling up with your WIP/latest read/current boxset/adorable pooch (I wish!)/ nearest blanket. Delete as appropriate. 

So, I've been bingewatching Buffy and catching up on The Voice and War and Peace. Sometimes our souls just NEED some TV, don't they? 

My constant companion for said curling up has of course been my Miette cardigan. The body is now complete (hurrah!) and I'm now onto the sleeves. Must admit I'm not enjoying these fiddly bits, but I have learnt the magic loop technique, so that's something. The Selfish Sweater KAL actually ends this weekend and I know I won't be finished, but I'm really pleased it gave me the nudge I needed to get on and knit a garment. Hopefully I'll continue making good progress with it and be done by the end of the month.

My current bedtime book is Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple. I just started it this week. It had been on my to-read list for ages and I was so pleased to spot it in the library. I mean, that cover. I'm really enjoying it so far. If only I could somehow read paperbacks and knit at the same time!

What's on your hook/ needles at the mo and what are you reading?

I'm joining in (for the very first time!) with Ginny's Yarn Along. I spotted this first on Elise's blog and thought I'd get involved.
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