Wednesday, 15 April 2015

My First Hap..... Full Size Hansel Shawl.

Hello my friends, it is a beautiful spring day here in the UK, I hope the sun is shining where you are. I'm back today to tell you about my first Hap shawl that I'm knitting.
I've been interested in Fairisle and Shetland wool since joining in with the Shwook Hat KAL hosted by Melody during Shetland Wool week, last year.

I'd never heard of a Hap Shawl before it was mentioned on the Knit British podcast, I was listening to episode 22 where Louise was talking about the Hap and was thinking of doing a Hap-Along. I was intrigued and wanted to find out more.

Since that episode Louise has done quite a few blog posts on the history and construction of the Hap Shawl and some modern day patterns, it's worth popping over and taking a look. The word Hap means to cover, wrap or keep warm, you can find a brief history on the Hap, here.

The cast on date was the 10th April, I was instantly drawn to the Full Size Hansel by Gudrun Johnston, a traditional Shetland Hap. It starts off with a garter stitch square then picking up the stitches to make a lace border. Louise has written a blog post focusing on Gudrun's Hap patterns here plus other designers.

I bought my yarn ready to cast on, the main colour is a 100% British Wool bought from Woolbothy, up in the Highlands and some Jameison & Smith 2ply jumper weight for the contrast colours. It's 100% Shetland wool, they have an amazing range of colours, I bought mine form the Shetland Wool Brokers.

I'm not sure whether it is just me but I think Shetland wool looks so much nicer in hand wound balls than caked.

There was a Hap Hangout on Friday evening, where we cast on and sent photos to Instagram and Twitter and had a chat on Ravelry which was fun. I'm really enjoying the construction of it which is a new technique to me with the loops at the edge to pick up the border. It's a great project to just pick and put down when you have a few spare minutes.

I'm stil reading Daughter of Catalonia by Jane MacKenzie but have also been reading a knitting book called Heirloom Knitting Skills. I'm linking to Nicole's Keep Calm, Craft On and Ginny's Yarn Along.

Thanks for stopping by and if you are interested in joining in with the Hap-Along, you have plenty time as it doesn't finish until the middle of July.

xxxxDebxxxx

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Community and Interaction......

This week I've been catching up on blogs and came across a post by Kate from A Playful Day she is doing a Love Your Blog series throughout April and is challenging us to fall back in love with our blogs.

This could not have come at a better time for me, after not posting for so long, I nearly made the decision to stop blogging. I was still posting photos onto my Instagram feed which is quick and easy and has a great knitting/crochet community.

I started my blog at the beginning of 2010 after a friend kept nagging me to start one, showing my card making and scrapbooking, entering them into blog challenges. I really didn't think people would want to read and see what I'd been creating but a few people did.

My blog has evolved over the years and now serves as a bit of a diary for myself, mostly about knitting and my everyday life. I wasn't really sure if other people were interested in what I posted but having those few weeks off from blogging I was getting messages from people asking if I was ok and that they missed my posts. I was very touched by this and started thinking about my blog and the people I've met through it so I made the decision that I should carry on with it.

There is a whole community of knitters and crochters on the blogging scene and I became involved in some KAL/CAL's before I even knew about Ravelry. These were my flower hexagons from the Bloomin' Crochet Along, organised by Chrissie Crafts and Ladybird Diaries.

I also met some wonderful ladies from the Midlands blogging scene organised by Gilly, it was a great day with good company and a delicious lunch cooked by Gilly. I still see Gilly every now and again in Stratford and often pop over to the multi talented Jo's blog to see what she's been up too. I also still see Sarah and Helen who I met through a monthly scrapbooking crop.

I would never have met and become friends with Helen from Curious Handmade if it hadn't been for blogging, Ravelry and Instagram. Social media can be a good thing when used in the right way. I've known Helen for about 18 months now when I first discovered her podcast and blog. I fell in love with her patterns especially the beautiful shawls, I then became a test and sample knitter for her. This is the latest sample that i've just finished, it's a new, larger version of the Pebble Beach which will be released at the beginning of May.

We finally got to meet at Unwind Brighton in July 2014 after many months of communicating through social media and emails. I'm hoping to get down to London in June, to meet up again for the Muse Connection Volume 2, organised by Helen and Kate, again bringing the knitting community together.

I also got to meet PJ, who I'd done an organised swap with many years ago and have been following her blog, The Snail Garden, ever since. In fact she was the first person that I saw at Unwind Brighton whilst we were in the queue, waiting for the doors to open and PJ came over and introduced herself which was so nice.

I also met Zena from the Little Yellow Uke podcast and blog who I've since met up with again as she's fairly local to me.

Last year, I also taught three online papercrafting classes for Mel who hosted Camp Aloha Friends, we chatted via Skype and email, again I would not have had this opportunity if it wasn't for blogging.

After writing this post, it's made me realise that blogging is important to me. I sometimes find it hard to write the words and I'm not the most fluent or most natural writer but I do enjoy it. If I hadn't started blogging all those years ago, I wouldn't have met so many wonderful, like-minded people.

Thanks for stopping by.

xxxxDebxxxx

 

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

I'm Back......with a Little Bird of Happiness.

Hello my friends, I'm sorry for the unexpected break, it's been a long time and I've missed you all. It was a funny start to the year with lots going on, I got a part time job after many years of not working, I was really ill with a chest infection that I couldn't budge and lots of other things that all came at once. Thank you to everyone who got in touch with me to see if I was ok, I really appreciated your kind thoughts.

It's hard to know where to start, though for a couple of weeks I couldn't even pick up a pair of needles, I have made up for it though in the last few weeks.

As you all saw on my last post, I'd finished the purple "Fairisle" socks for my friend's birthday, I had some leftover yarn and had wanted to knit A Little Bird Of Happiness for sometime so decided to knit one as a little extra gift.

The original pattern, which is free on Ravelry, uses a worsted weight yarn but you can use whichever weight you want. I used 4ply on 2.25mm needles so it turned out a lot smaller than the original pattern but very cute.

After finishing the first one and filling it with lavender and a small amount of polyester toy filling, I decided to knit some more with the leftover yarn as they we're very quick to finish, almost instant gratification.

A little tip if you've never knit this pattern before, it suggests you leave an opening at it's tail to fill the bird but it's way too small in 4ply. I filled from the head just before I casting off for the beak and I didn't have a problem getting the lavender and filling to the bottom of his tail.

I knit three altogether and thought they would look good if I strung them together to make a hanging ornament which my friend loves and has many hanging around her house.

I found some wooden beads and started crocheting a chain and threading it through the birds adding beads at regular intervals and attaching a bell at the very end.

I took my friend out for coffee and cake for her birthday and she absolutely adored her gifts, she is very knitworthy.

I also finished my husband's socks which again were just Vanilla socks knit in Rico Surperba Santa Fe which is a really inexpensive yarn but is hardwearing and softens up beautifully once washed.

I cast on 72 stitches for men's socks and used Tessa' Basic Sock recipe for the rounded toe which I prefer for my socks. I've yet to use the whole sock pattern as I've always used How I Make My Socks by Susan B Anderson but I think I'll give it a go for my next pair.

Again my husband is very knitworthy and loves handknit socks now. The only thing is, he keeps asking for more pairs, he'll have to wait a while now though, I'm knitting myself some.

I'll leave it there for today but I definitely won't leave it as long next time, thank you for stopping by. I'm linking this post to Nicole's, Keep Calm, Craft On where I find lots of inspiration and also Ginny's Yarn Along. Two of my favourite things are knitting and reading, I've just started Daughter of Catalonia by Jane MacKenzie and looks like it's going to be an epic tale spanning over the decades, my favourite type of book.

Have a great week.

Deb x

 

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Itching To Cast On New Projects........

Hello there, how was your Valentine weekend? We don't make a big thing of it but he did buy me a card, though I feel a bit bad as I didn't send one. This year's card was very pretty with a vintage feel, he always try's to buy one with some handmade elements, this year it has buttons.

I thought while we were talking about Valentine's, I would share these beautiful, embroidered Sweetheart cards that my Grandad sent to my Gran during the Second World War. He was stationed in France hence the British and French Flags, my Grandad had the most beautiful handwriting and I feel very privileged to have these wonderful keepsakes.

It's very unlike me to just have a couple of projects on the needles and I've been itching to cast on a new project using some of my stash. On top of one of my baskets, that is full of mostly Rowan yarn that I purchased in the sale, was some Rowan Alpaca Colour which is unbelievably soft and squishy. I decided I wanted to use this, I thought it would be a really comforting yarn to knit with on these cold winter evenings so I've been perusing Ravelry, books and magazines for inspiration.
It's a DK weight and I had 4 X 50g skeins at 120m per skein so the beauty of Ravelry is when I go to the pattern search and click advanced search I can tick what weight and yardage I want the pattern to be. After ticking the boxes I wanted, up came a list of patterns suitable but the one that caught my eye was the French Cancan by Mademoiselle C which I have knit before in Sublime Merino Silk so very different to what I'm using this time, you can see my first one here.

The reason I love this pattern apart from the way it looks and the beautiful cable border, is you can knit it as small or as large as you want, depending on the amount of yarn you have, leaving 40% of your yarn for the border.

The main body is a simple garter stitch which I know some people find quite boring but I love this stitch. I find it very therapeutic and is perfect to knit on if watching TV or talking if you have company, the yarn I'm using is perfect for garter stitch as its even more squishy. I started it last night and I'm now on my second ball of yarn, I think I'll have this finished by next week!!!!

I've been working on my Old Romance and now have two complete sleeves so now I'm on the main body, this will take a while, as there's miles of stockinette now, I'm a lot slower knitting purl so I'll be knitting on smaller projects inbetween. I'm still loving it and can't wait to wear it, I'm aiming to finish by April, just in time for Spring.

I've also been working on my Latte Baby Coat and have picked up the stitches and completed the front edges, I've washed it and now need to knit the little pockets and add some buttons. I'm hoping to have this finished by the weekend so I can give it to him on Sunday.

I'm just turning the heel on my February Personal Mystery Sock Yarn 2015 socks for my husband. They are just plain vanilla socks, my husband's birthday is in March so I have plenty of time though I do want them off the needles by the end of the month so I can start March's socks.

I've started the fifth book of the year and the prompt from Bringing Up The Burns, 26 Books to Read in 2015, is........

5: A Book Published This Year.

I chose The Small Fortune of Dorothea Q by Sharon Maas, now if I'm honest I chose this book as it was on offer in the Kindle store. I never buy books in hardback unless they are special editions, I always wait until it's in paperback.

On saying this, after reading the blurb and the reviews, it sounded like a story that I would enjoy, a saga spanning over the years set in London and Guyana. I'm on chapter five and it hasn't disappointed, I like the main characters and I'm enjoying the author's descriptive writing.

I'm linking to Nicole's KCCO over at Frontier Dreams and Ginny's Yarn Along where you'll find some beautiful projects and lots of inspiration.

Thank you for stopping by, have a great week.

xxxxDebxxxx

 

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Barley Hat by Tincan Knits and more.......

Hello my friends, how are you all doing? This week I've knit a new hat for Caiden, he's outgrown all of his handknit hats that I made him before he was born. I looked through lots of patterns and the one that Jodie and I both liked was the Barley Hat by Tincan Knits, the sizes range from baby through to adult.

It is a free pattern from The Simple Collection which contains eight patterns including accessories and sweaters. As the title says, they are simple and basic knits aimed at beginner knitters or more experienced knitters who want a quick simple knit. The great thing about this collection apart from been beautiful projects, which goes without saying as they are by Tincan Knits and I love all their patterns but the whole collection is FREE.

I would knit every one of them and the are sized from newborn to large adult something for the whole family. The patterns are seamless using worsted weight yarn in stockinette and garter stitch so perfect for beginners. If you've always want to learn to knit in the round or knit a sweater but have always been a little bit imtimitated, these patterns would be perfect for you.

Here's my little hipster grandson wearing his new hat, I didn't have any suitable worsted weight so I used some Drops Lima DK. I would have knit the baby size but as I was using a DK , I knit the toddler size on the same needles as they recommended and it turned out perfectly.

I didn't swatch for the hat, I just took a chance, I thought as it was a small, quick knit ( it took one evening), I had nothing to lose if it was too big, I could just start again with smaller needles. Caiden has quite a large head for his age so I was aiming for 17" head circumference, which I achieved once it had been blocked. I was so pleased how it turned out, it was the perfect size and he looks so cute in it. I will definitely be casting on another one soon.

I've finished my purple "Fairisle" socks which I knit in Rico Design Superba Mexico, these are going to my friend who has a birthday coming up she has been very kind to me over the last few weeks so deserved a special gift. She does a lot of walking and she loves my handknit socks, she says they are so much more comfortable and warmer than shop bought, I've been promising her a new pair for a while now.

Since finishing another pair of socks, I've picked one of my brown paper bags with my Personal Mystery Sock Yarn 2015 inside. February's sock yarn was this, Rico Design Superba Santa Fé, this is very similar to the last sock yarn. I've got to say, I really like this brand for a hardwearing sock yarn, it's not as luxurious like some of the beautiful selfstriping or indie dyed yarns but I think it will stand the test of time like the Regia and Opal.

When I picked this yarn for the bag, I knew I would knit my husband another pair of socks, I love the colours from dark chocolate brown to rust to a taupe with a tweedy look, I wouldn't mind a pair for me.

I wanted to try a new to me cast on for my next pair of socks after listening to Jo's Shiny Bees podcast And her Sock Surgery segment. They were talking about different cast on techniques for socks and the recommended one was the German Twisted Cast-On which the said gave a neat,stretchy cuff. I absolutely love it, it really is the best cast on I've used. I looked on the web for a good tutorial and went for a You Tube video by the Knit Witch, it was easy to follow and I picked it up really quickly.

I've spent a cheeky half hour on them this morning while I enjoyed a cup of Earl Grey. I'm knitting a plain Vanilla sock with 72 stitches.

Now to what I'm reading this week, I've nearly finished Harry Potter and the Philophers Stone so hopefully should be starting a new book by the end of the week. I am enjoying it far more than I thought I would and will definitely read the other books, eventually.

I've also been reading the new Spring PomPom magazine, again it is full of beautiful patterns,mit never disappoints. I'm linking to Ginny's Yarn Along and Nicole's Keep Calm, Craft On, check out all the gorgeous projects for lots of inspiration.

Have a good week.

xxxxDebxxxx

I've just linked up to another link up called Lunamon Design.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Canopy Shawl by Melody Hoffman.

Happy Friday!!!!! I just wanted you all to know that the Canopy Shawl By Melody Hoffman has been released. This gorgeous shawl pattern was inspired by the forest surrounding her home in Latvia.

 

It's a stunning design, knit in a sportweight yarn which gives a larger shawl without been too bulky. I did this as a test knit and throughly enjoyed knitting the design. I like that you are changing sections regularly as you never get bored, there are stockinette and lace sections including twisted stitches then the border, in fact this was the only project I worked on until I finished it. Normally, I'd be working on smaller projects inbetween, just for some variation.


I loved knitting the border, it's an applied lace edge, those triangular points are so pretty. It's been really cold here in the U.K. and since finishing it, I haven't stopped wearing it.

I used 1.5 skeins of Rosy Green Wool in Cheeky Merino Joy, it is such a soft yarn and I will definitely be purchasing more.

Thank you for stopping by, have a great weekend.

xxxxDebxxxx

 

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Purple......the colour of the moment.

 

If you were to ask me what my favourite colours were, I would say, aqua, sage green, grey's and soft pinks, I would never have said purple or lilac but it seems this is my colour of choice, at the moment. I've got two projects on the needles that are lilac and purples and I've just finished sewing buttons on my Aureus Cardigan so I've been able to wear it for the first time, this week.

I cast on the Old Romance By Joji Locotelli back in October but with Christmas knitting I didn't get very far so this week I've picked it back up again.

Once I'd finished the lace panels I started picking up stitches for the sleeves and body, I hadn't read the pattern beforehand and it's a really usual construction with short rows.

At first I was a bit "oh no, short rows" but actually I'm really enjoying it, I enjoy learning and trying new techniques and it's a lot easier than it looks. I'm using Drops Alpaca Silk which is a beautiful, soft yarn and gorgeous to knit with, it's going to be a long term project but I can't wait to have it finished and able to wear it.

Next are my purple "Fairisle" socks' I'm using Rico Design Surperba Mexico, a self patterning yarn. I'm doing a Vanilla sock, just using a basic sock recipe pattern by Louise Tilbrook, Lousie is a great designer and has some gorgeous sock patterns, you can find her blog here.

My last purple project is my Aureus cardigan, after nearly a year I've finally sewn on the buttons so have been able to wear it without it slipping off my shoulders. I used Rowan Felted Tweed DK, I really like this yarn, I thought it maybe a bit scratchy but it isn't and is one of my most comftable and warmest sweaters.

I'm on the fourth prompt of 26 Books with Bringing Up the Brums which is A Book Your Friend Loves........

I knew immediately that it it would have to be Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone. My daughter and my friend Kerry have been nagging me for months to start reading the Harry Potter books so they'll be pleased to know I've finally started the first book.

I'm linking to Nicole's Keep Calm, Craft On and Ginny's Yarn Along, there are always some great links to beautiful projects.

Thank you for taking the time to stop by, have a great week.

xxxxDebxxxx