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.


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.



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


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