Sunday, December 20, 2015

Happy holidays crafty friends

I've finished my holiday gift-making - yay! I made two of these beautiful crochet Poinsettias by MaryJ Handmade. Poinsettias signify a British Christmas for me. And when I moved to Texas I found that the tradition of displaying these Mexican beauties as holiday ornaments also applies in the US.

I hope you all have a fantastic holiday. I'm taking a break from the blog for two weeks to spend time with my family and will post next on January 10th in the New Year. I hope you have the best time with your family too and Santa brings you many craft-related gifts!


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Dreams of an alpaca farm

I've always quite fancied the idea of leading a pastoral life on an alpaca farm. I'm a city girl with no experience of actually residing in the countryside other than our short stints on family holidays. In the early phase of my research into a rural lifestyle a few initial questions spring to mind....

 

  • What is the difference between the lama and the alpaca?
I visited London zoo this summer on our annual jaunt to see family and friends in the UK and I was delighted to see both alpacas and llamas there. The rest of our party wanted to move on but I was quite happy to gaze at these marvelous creatures. They both originate in South America and have been bred for over 4,000 years. The key difference in my mind focused on yarn, reading the article  6 Differences Between Llamas and Alpacas in the Modern Famer, is that the alpaca produces a much finer fiber than the llama. The alpaca also produces more fleece than its larger cousin and in a much greater variety of colors.
  • What is alpaca yarn actually like?
According to the marvelous Victory Ranch in New Mexico, where we stopped on a road trip (and made a yarn purchase of course) alpaca fiber is one of the softest in the world. I can attest to the softness of my purchases. It has little to no guard hair or lanolin which increases the usable fiber per pound and simplifies scouring, carding, and combing. The fiber is strong, resilient, easy to care for and long-lived. Garments made from alpaca fiber are light weight but warm because the alpaca's coat, evolved for a high altitude / cold climate, contains microscopic air pockets.
  • Is alpaca yarn on trend?
A Fortune article published earlier this year  It’s a wrap: Alpaca wool hits the runway reports of a growing demand of Peruvian alpaca wool accessories for high-end boutiques in the US. Designers are seeking more exotic and rare yarns to create their pieces. The increased popularity in fair trade products also makes alpaca attractive. This is all fantastic news for the alpaca industry.
 
For further reading, if you find alpacas as intriguing as me, check out these sites.
Alpaca Frequently Asked Questions by Hill Country Alpacas  This farm is just up the road from me in Texas Hill County so I'm putting it on my list to visit.
Ireland's thriving alpaca industry on Olann and  This is a brand new just launched online fiber and craft magazine and already a firm favorite.
A definitive guide to raising alpacas in the Modern Farmer I think I'm going to stick to reading this vicariously for now!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Crafty folk popping up on Periscope

I've just started watching crafty folk on Periscope, Twitter's live video streaming app. It’s a mobile app which you can use to record and broadcast live to a global audience. And in less than five months since it's launch in March this year Periscope had more than 10 million accounts. That's a pretty impressive statistic.



I downloaded the app on a whim a while ago and then forgot about it. Then two weeks ago while I was at my desk, my phone gave a cute little whistle and I started watching Sara Duggan virtual pa from Five In Sac with her magical productivity tip of the day. Sara is a Twitter friend since in a former life she was the super crochet designer momwithahook! I loved seeing her in person and sensing the warmth of her personality in the live broadcast. I found that I could interact too with comments and tap the screen to form little love hearts when I liked something. What an adorable user interface!

Then I discovered that Ravelry has a Periscope group Crafty Periscopers and of course I joined. I went though the thread "periscope usernames - introduce yourself", followed all that I could find and ever since then my phone has been whistling away alerting me to crafty folk's scopes. It's a fantastic distraction. I have discovered a new way to weave in my ends, seen yarn being dyed, learnt about new KALs, seen beautiful project bags, a review of sock knitting pattern books.... etc etc.

The people I'm following can also invite me to live scopes that they are watching so in a snowball fashion I am getting alerts for these too. When will all this fun end? Replays are only available for 24 hours and I'd love to go back and watch some of the more memorable scopes but it's a "live in the moment" kind of app which is no bad thing.

I must admit to having not plucked up the courage to scope myself yet and so my profile page only displays a number 1 by my love heart. (Periscope measures your viewers' hearts and then ranks you.) But I am feeling encouraged by the topic suggestions on the Ravelry group "Weekly prompts". This week's is "how to get out of a creative rut". I certainly feel like this is something I could chatter on about to an audience!


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Back on track with Christmas gift making

I am back on track with the Christmas gifts, customizing reusable canvas tote bags with the cutest crochet creations I can find. I am rather pleased with this sunflower for my son's teacher. My flower is adapted from a Quarter Sunflower Square by Suvi on Ravelry which was itself adapted from another pattern The Crocodile Flower by Joyce Lewis.....


Last month I followed Vicky Howell's advice to "think small, go big" hooking up a flurry of scarfs and cowls in chunky yarn from my stash for family and friends in the UK. Then I got a little off task with other crochet projects and life in general. Getting side-tracked is inevitable so that's why it's best to start your Christmas crafting very early.

Since I cannot resist a challenge I HAD to crochet a cardigan for National Crochet Cardigan Month responding to a call from a new Ravelry group I've joined Crochet on Ravelry which has almost 27,000 members. Wow! I'm not sure why I hadn't noticed the group before. ON a sidenote, I wonder how many fellow yarn lovers have found themselves sucked down the rabbit hole of pleasant Ravelry diversions?

Of course, given my penchant for granny squares, my cardigan choice was the Granny shrug by Kirsty of KooToYoo cleverly constructed from two granny hexagons. Easy, quick and size as you go - my kind of pattern! I didn't even have time to block it before it's first outing. Anyway, time to go. My poinsettia petals are calling me...

Sunday, November 22, 2015

It's all about the joining

My crochet group are off to a great start with the granny squares for our third charity project. I have just finished joining and edging the first baby blanket. Another member of our group has put together a second. I know this because she sent me a photo of her edging this week. It is marvelously elaborate and taken from a Japanese book of granny squares which has no English instructions in it whatsoever. Imagine that - just photos and charts. My edge is single crochet followed by crab stitch (reverse single crochet) and viola here it is pre-blocking.



My theory is that the beauty of the granny square blanket is all about the join. I have chosen a wonderful technique taken from one of my all time favorite books: Connect the Shapes crochet motifs by Edie Eckman. It's a join as you go continuous final round with a flat slip stitch connecting in the adjoining seam and best of all it's incredibly inconspicuous. I enjoy doing it. I never thought I'd say that about joining squares. There is an ever so cute flower in the corner of each join. It's fantastic.



I can date my obsession with granny squares back to two books I received for Christmas a few years ago: Crochet Motifs by Edie Eckman and The Granny Square book by Margaret Hubert. I also had a voucher for yarn that year so I remember buying Cascade 220 in a dozen odd non-matching colors and making huge numbers motifs from the books (there are 219 patterns in total). Looking back now I find this behavior slightly insane because the colors don't match and the sizes vary massively and they have been added to my large bag of "random crochet pieces to make into an amazing freeform creation one day." I wonder if anyone else out there has a bag like this?

Anyway I am happy to report that the group are really enjoying the granny squares mainly because they work up so quickly. One thing we are finding is that the size of the granny squares varies massively depending on each individual's tension so we are combatting this to a small extent by changing the hook size up or down. We cannot readily alter stitches or rows with granny squares as we did with the single crochet squares of our first project. So we are sorting our squares into different size piles at the pre-join stage. It's all fun!


Sunday, November 15, 2015

My first crochet kit experience: Ficstitches

I'm not sure why I have never ordered a crochet kit before or what prompted me to order this one.  I guess it was the combination of crochet pattern, hand-dyed yarn, handmade accessory AND fictional story that seemed appealing. And I had heard of Laurinda Reddig before, one of the three creatives behind Ficstitches Yarns Crochet Kits. She actually made up a totally new crochet technique: Reversible Color Crochet which I find just astounding. Imagine inventing a new technique....!

I didn't actually manage to order part #1 in time or get the limited-issue handcrafted crochet hook but it didn't really matter because I ended up loving #2 Cadha's Celtic Capelet. I was dubious at first about using worsted weight yarn since I prefer lighter-weight accessories but it's just right, cheerful and cute and I am delighted by it. The capelet is worked in one continuous piece from the point of the hood down with an Eternal Knot cable pattern on the back. The knot took me a few attempts to perfect but I did enjoy the challenge.



I can just imagine wearing my red capelet in January in Texas and when I visit family in the UK. The wool, hand-dyed by DragynKnyts Fiber and Dyeworks, is Targhee which is a new one for me. According to the US Targhee Sheep Association, founded in 1951 in Dubois, Idaho these range-raised sheep require minimal human intervention and are hearty enough to withstand the elements while producing high quality wool for market. It's soft enough (I don't like itchy wool) and the semi-tones are just gorgeous. The photo just doesn't do justice to the colorways.

Laurinda's website is  ReCrochetions and the two other fiber friends behind this quarterly kit club are Monica Lowe of Craftwich Creations (handcrafted items for fiber lovers) and fiber fiction writer C. Jane Reid. The book is very well written and a real page-turner. It was just the right length - not long enough to distract from working on the pattern. I'm certainly going to be looking out for future crochet kits from these wonderfully talented crafty ladies.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

A peek into Crochet Traditions

One of the perks of working in the yarn store is having first dibs on any freebies. Hunting through a large box of old magazines on their way to recycling, I fished out the second ever (and final I think) edition of "Crochet Traditions", a 148-page special issue from PieceWork magazine from Fall 2012. I love to read about traditional stories, projects and techniques and feel quite passionately that we must preserve them ALL. I can't understand why this was discontinued because it's a fantastic read!



I recognized two crochet industry rockstars among the contributors which is always a good sign when reading a magazine that you're unfamiliar with. Doris Chan and Carol Ventura are widely renown respectively for their lace and tapestry crochet techniques. I've had a little foray into both in recent years.

My Craft Yarn Council master teacher and mentor Barbara Van Elsen, who I'm always talking about, suggested I look into Irish Lace. The first section consists of SEVEN articles all about Irish Lace - what joy! Just look at this exquisite Irish Crochet Butterfly by Nancy Nehring. The tiny size of the hook and size 10 thread are a little daunting but I certainly can appreciate the level of skill involved in undertaking such a project. 


The digital version is available at the Interweave Store. The projects are definitely for the more proficient but I guarantee that even if some of these patterns are beyond your skill level you will definitely enjoy reading about them as I did. This one will stay on my shelf ad infinitum.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Anzula Trunk Show

The Anzula Trunk Show is coming to the yarn store this week. Yay! Last year I made quite a few scrummy purchases but it was near my birthday and I do really like to support indie dyers and my store of course. There are always excuses you can make to facilitate buying yarn. I really like the Anzula website with it's social media savvy links to project inspiration on Pinterest and Ravelry for it's 18 lines of yarn.

I found a super video of the founder of Anzula, Sabrina, describing how everything began. Discovering how craft entrepreneurs start out always fascinates me. I haven't inserted a video into a blog post before but nothing ventured nothing gained ...perhaps it will work for some of you!




Variegated (multicolored) yarn is a huge temptation. It always looks the most visually appealing to me but then I struggle to find a crochet pattern that works well since the lovely stitch definition just gets lost. I was extremely happy with my Esther Shawl by Lana Holden though made from Anzula Dreamy and I think it worked because the pattern was very open.  



However there is hope, I have just found a wonderful blog post by The Verdant Griffin, an independent textile and dyeworks company aptly entitled "What the bleep should I make". The title alone makes me chuckle! The post gives a whole host of suggestions and gorgeous photos for variegated yarn. I am going to try combining it with a solid or semi-solid in a contrasting or matching color. Let's go shopping!



Sunday, October 25, 2015

How to substitute yarn

One of the most frequent questions we are asked in the yarn store is "What yarn do I need for this pattern?" and we don't always stock the specified yarn so we need to recommend a similar one.
Fortunately, the Craft Yarn Council publishes a set of yarn standards (see www.yarnstandards.com) so first of all I refer to the top of their handy dandy chart of standard yarn weight system (see below) to figure out as much as I can about the recommended yarn.

Sometimes the pattern will specify the type of yarn e.g. DK weight. If this isn't given I look at the recommended needle/hook size and also the gauge for knitting patterns (i.e. a certain number of stitches per 4 inches / 10 cm) which often appears on yarn labels.

So armed with this information, I'll look on our shelves at similar weights of yarn and scrutinize the labels for something to suit. If the pattern doesn't give a weight, hook/needle size or gauge I'll look it up on the yarn page of the always helpful Ravelry site.

I'll also try to make sure the fiber content is similar e.g. cotton will not drape as well as wool. Finally I'll look at yardage so that they have a sufficient amount. And of course if you don't fancy going through all this palaver, just ask the yarn store staff for advice!

For further reading on matching yarn beyond gauge see this fantastic guidance on how to substitute from newish website Yarnsub. And you've guessed it, they provide a really useful tool to look for yarn substitutions on their site so if you're not in the yarn store but at home you could take a gander at this. I could spend quite a few hours typing in different yarns and looking at the substitutions "wow, how fascinating - I never knew those two were a 93% match". It's almost like dating for yarn, but perhaps that's just me!

Still on topic, I bought the magazine Love of Crochet for the first time and just love the fact that for every pattern they provide three additional yarn substitutions based on whether you want to save, spend or splurge. Marvelous!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Christmas gift-making frenzy

Oh yes, it's time to begin the gift-making frenzy in earnest with just 10 weeks until Christmas and considerably less if your family lives in a different country like us! I started out slowly last month with these amazing baubles by Kate on her Greedy for Colour blog. Check out her christmas crochet bauble tutorial. And I've been playing with the pattern, as you do, making variations for multi-color and school spirit color versions, reducing rows for thicker yarn, changing the decrease a little... Of course I am using materials from my yarn stash. The silver thread is hopelessly tangled as often happens with metallic types but this is part of the process untangling it when I need another bauble top. Craft is meant to be slow and meditative IMHO.



And my daughter has, as of this summer, found her craft and learnt to operate a sewing machine. Yay! So I have been scouring Pinterest looking for inspiration for her too. She has seven teachers in middle school so I'm thinking a gift from her will be far more meaningful to them and far less stressful for me. I think we have decided on customizing canvas tote bags along the lines of the Notepad Tote from Liz Stanley on her Say Yes blog. Everyone needs a reusable bag, surely!

I just discovered Ask Me Monday videos by creative entrepreneur Vickie Howell on Facebook. Video #10 is timed to perfection with tips on successful holiday gift-making. I particularly like the advice to "think small, go big" using larger gauge on-trend yarns. Genius! I'm off to search my stash for chunky yarn...


Sunday, October 11, 2015

My new volunteering role

This week I am feeling really excited about starting a new volunteering role at local charity The Community Cloth. This charity has been on my radar for quite some time after seeing a neighbor's daughter in the cutest crochet poncho imaginable made by these ladies. The catalyst to making contact was seeing press coverage of the plight of Syrian refugees in Europe in recent weeks. I asked myself "what can I do personally that will make a difference?" I spoke with their program manager this week about how I could help their Artisan Team and I'm giving my input on pattern ideas already.



About The Community Cloth

The Community Cloth is a microenterprise initiative empowering refugee women in Houston. It targets economic, educational and social goals through the provision of seed grants, training, and peer support, and by expanding market opportunities for refugee women artisans. It supports them in creating and selling handmade, indigenous arts and crafts such as woven bags, knitted scarves, household items and more. Through producing and selling their wares, the women have an opportunity to express their culture and heritage, learn new skills that will assist them in transitioning to life in the US, and obtain much-needed supplemental income. All of the proceeds go directly to the artisans and the program.  Most of the women involved to date are mothers; some are widows or are the only working member of their families. Purchases of The Community Cloth products help refugee women provide for the basic needs of their families as they work to establish new lives in Houston.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Yak & Yarn group growth

Last week we had our first daytime yak and yarn meet-up. Since we began in March it has been one Sunday evening a month (with the summer off) but we have members who live further afield and so to accommodate we have doubled our monthly meetings to two! Wow!

Rather remarkably lapghan #13 originates from Indiana (yes - Y&Y has gone national!). One of our daytime members taught her mom how to make our square while visiting and returned recently to find her mom had completed 63 squares, enough for our blanket. Love this story. It just warms my heart! And I am finishing up the joining of lapghan #14. It's a patchwork design this time since I have the final squares in many different colors.

We still have worsted weight yarn left over so we are making scarfs for the homeless using this rather nifty pattern I found online by Evelyn Mayfield on her blog Prayersncrafts. The half double crochet stitch is sturdy but hooking into the back of the loop gives the scarf a pleasing stretchiness. Simple but effective - my favorite kind of pattern.



And our next project (#3) will be baby blankets comprised of classic granny squares in a lighter sport weight yarn using a 4mm hook. I have written out the pattern since there isn't an original designer I can attribute the first granny square to. I am a big fan of the humble but versatile granny square.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

The joy of crafting with others


There is something wonderful about crafting with others, getting out of your house and enjoying the fellowship of other gentle yarny folk. My first experience of this was back in Bristol in the UK in the winter of 2011. My local pub, the Victoria, a short stroll from my house, hosted a first Sunday of the month "Knit and Natter". The kids, younger then, were in bed and my husband happily watching Top Gear. There were eight of us knitting and I realized at that first meeting that I had been crafting in a silo up until then. We sat in the railway tunnel part of the pub (maybe it actually was a disused railway tunnel) - from a silo to a tunnel - and I enjoyed a pint of cider as you do in the West Country while we chattered about nothing in particular while our fingers were busy. Bliss.

And then shortly after moving to Houston in the spring of 2012 I signed my kids up to swimming lessons and was delighted to discover a fellow knitter doing her stuff in public with children occupied at the same time as mine. And so an impromptu group began of four of us knitting together and it was the BEST part of my week. But after a year or so the children's activities changed and our happy yarny meet ups ended.

Fulfilling the thirty hours of teaching crochet for my two certificates led to more communal crafting. For several months I carried my hooks and yarn everywhere looking for willing guinea pigs among my friends. Pictured above several victims learning while camping at a Texas State Park! Asking the yarn store owner if I could teach on her comfy sofa led to my current job running their Friday knitting and crochet workshop.

My master teacher asked me during my assessment if I was crafting with a group (the workshop doesn't count) and encouraged me to find one. Well now I have Yarn People at my public library each week (following my original knitting swim mom), a fortnightly craft group at church which has just started and my own monthly Yak and Yarn meet up at a local cafĂ© which I started after attending a day long craft retreat in January this year. That's probably more than sufficient. 

 





 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Laphans for Yak and Yarn

Our Yak and Yarn group which only began in March this year has been having so much fun making lapghans together for local charity Angela House as our first joint project. And if my calculations are correct we are putting together number 14 currently. Yay!

I have been taking photos of each one before delivery to the ladies but I lost photos clearing my cellphone so I am missing some. I thought they were on the cloud but alas no. I lost photos of the two quilts made of fantastic African material by one of our talented Y&Y members. Technology can be a tad annoying at times!

Anyway, here are the photos I managed to salvage of early lapghans and the most recent beauties we have made. We made single crochet 5 inch squares using a cardboard template and for the majority of the lapghans added an edging of single crochet and single crochet joined the squares together.

 











Sunday, September 13, 2015

Craftivism lecture by Betsy Greer

I attended a lecture by Betsy Greer, the "Godmother of Craftivism", last month at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. Betsy gave a slide show with an explanation of craftivism followed by a number of diverse global examples, large and small, and then gave suggestions of how to find a way that we could practice craftivism too. Here is Betsy's super website if you haven't already been there.

I first found out about craftivism, the movement that Betsy started 12 years ago, in Houston's main public library downtown picking up her book of the same title on the "new and notable in 700s" display stand. Since reading the book I have recommended and bought it for several friends. I have paid attention to other crafters with #craftivism in their tweets, subscribed to her newsletter, contributed to the manifesto and reflected on how I could make a difference through my love of craft. 
Her lecture was on the final day of the Crafting a Continuum show which contained many thought-provoking exhibits. My absolute favorite was by Mark Newport (http://www.marknewportartist.com/) a knitted superhero costume that questions gender roles and masculinity in contemporary culture. I was delighted to see his work featured on the show flyer and found an immensely amusing video on YouTube of Mark knitting dressed in one of his hand-made suits:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bX8MxiV3zqE

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Log Cabin blanket

I am a huge fan of Lucy from Attic24. She is a fellow Brit, has an amazing eye for combining just the right uplifting colors and has such a sweet voice on her blog.

I have made two of her blankets: the neat ripple and the cosy which I am immensely pleased with. This summer I found "boyish" colors of Ella Rae in sufficient quantities in the sale bin at work so started her coast blanket for my son. However, the ripples were looking a little feminine and I'd been warned not to embarass him. (I fully intend for him to take this blanket to college). So a geometric design came to mind and because I am somewhat scarred by six months of joining charity blanket squares it has to be in the round.

I didn't find a pattern I liked so I made it up as I went along.  Was absolutely delighted to find out on Facebook this week that Lucy's next CAL (crochet along) will be a log cabin too. Of course it looks totally different from mine!! It's oh so cute, the colors are totally Lucy and there is a granny square flower in the middle. Gorgeous!

I have just reread my published post on what I did and they make no sense whatsoever. I do apologize. Please just skip the next paragraph and carry on reading at "I may well...."
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Squares: My starting square is 30 stitches wide by 24 hdc rows tall. Edging the square with single crochet: Once I finished a color I put hdc, 2 sc in the corner and carried on around the corner with one sc stitches per row  for two rows then two sc in the third row so that I had an even 30 sc for my next color block. Then I rejoined the yarn to the opposite side and followed the same pattern one sc per row for two rows then two sc in the third row then 3 sc in the corner and sc all along the top.
Joining the new color yarn: Once I got to the end I did 3 sc in the corner and then joined the new yarn color for a new block at right angles to the last. I started one stitch in and stopped one stitch from the end so that I had space for the edging to go all the way around.

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I may well get around to writing out the pattern properly once I figure out how I make it into a rectangle rather than a square but I'm one color block away from making a decision on that. I'm thinking seven block wide one block high rectangles at the moment above and below the main rotating pattern but will see what I think up!

Here is the blanket so far. I am enjoy this so much and the hdc are extremely relaxing - an easy watching-TV-with-my-husband kind of project.




Sunday, August 30, 2015

Peyton Heart Project

I wanted to let you know about a collaborative craft project that I found out about recently. A dad from Conroe, Texas lost his 13 year old son, Peyton, in October 2014 to suicide. Crafters are now trying to help end the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health issues in honor of Peyton through the #PeytonHeartProject, created by Jill Kubin from NJ. They make and leave crochet, knit and yarn hearts in public spaces with an upbeat quotation for people to take away.
Peyton's dad shared the Peyton Heart Project's Facebook page on the yarn store page which I manage and his words have been playing on my mind ever since.
I made my first hearts using a fantastic heart crochet pattern that I've used before from Simply Crochet magazine issue 27. I read that over 1,000 hearts have been shared worldwide to date. I've seen many posted to social media with the #peytonheartproject tag and each one makes me smile.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Another Lucy Ravenscar creation

My daughter is going to a sleepover this weekend. This is all the rage for 10 and 11 year old girls for their birthdays. I am not a massive fan because "sleepover" is a poor description of what actually occurs and I don't really want to deal with a grumpy child all weekend but it's the school holidays and I find it very hard to say no when it's one of her best buddies. 


S
he tells my her friend loves elephants.  A quick search on Ravelry brought up ANOTHER Lucy Ravenscar pattern. This is my third free pattern (#1 witch's cat, #2 little lucky pig). I think it's high time I actually purchased something from her. It's going to have to be her Star Wars Crochet Kit which is available on Amazon.

One of my workshop students has bought the kit, on my recommendation already, and is making a baby mobile with each character for her latest grandson. But I know these are going to be BIG with the new Star Wars movie coming out later this year and I need to get a head start.

I really really like Lucy's patterns so much: the way she uses bobbles for feet and how her patterns are in one piece with no seaming and sewing on of fiddly individual little parts. I am bad at putting my projects on Ravelry but I will get around to it because I want to let Lucy know how much I love them. Here is the elephant link on Ravelry. I feel that my elephant will be the first of a herd.





Sunday, August 16, 2015

Ladybird ladybird fly away home

Made another gift, this time for the daughter of one of my mommy friends (the recipient of an amigurumi pig). I very much like the quick turnaround of these small projects especially since my only two WIPs are large: joining and edging of charity lapghan #10 and my son's ripple blanket. I reckon I can finish at least one blanket on our upcoming road-trip to Colorado.

Anyway, searched on Ravelry for ladybirds and found this cute pattern. It's knitting again by the wonderful @deadlyknitshade http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/lovely-knitted-ladybird But then I had to embellish it with crochet eyes and my husband said "where are it's legs?" so ta dah my ladybird also has legs.


And the recipient of the ladybird built her a home. Here it is. Sweet!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

#MandalasForMarinke: Crochet Project In Memory of Wink from A Creative Being


Thinking about you Wink. I was so sad to hear the news. I first spotted one of your mandala patterns in a crochet magazine in April 2014, thinking “that’s lovely” and so your name was familiar to me. I decided to participate in this project because raising awareness of depression is so important. I have personal experience of dealing with intermittent low moods and find that crochet helps immensely especially when crafting with others. I have used the pattern “Winter Mandala” from the magazine where I first discovered you.
 
Kathryn Vercillo is running this tribute project to celebrate the work of a young crochet designer Marinke (Wink) of A Creative Being who suffered from depression and succumbed to suicide.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Shawls are perfect for Houston TX

Back in March I started making the opalescent top with my gorgeous variegated Anzula yarn but the stitch definition was just lost in the boho colors and I couldn't imagine wearing such a "busy" top. Since then I have been on the hunt again for a pattern to suit the yarn spending endless hours on Ravelry and flicking through magazines and books. But this week I finally completed the Esther Shawl with the yarn and I love it. YAY. My husband's comment was "because you don't have enough shawls already...". But a shawl is just enough for Houston where you're in a/c at times, but want to accessorize. And you really do need a variety of different colored versions!! I wore it, still unblocked, to a Pop Shop event this summer and an exhibitor offered to sell them in her bricks and mortar store if could make more. I really enjoyed making the shawl, having to really concentrate to begin with: the designer, Lana Holden, is a mathematician and it was evident in the pattern! http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/esther-shawl


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Mom & daughter festival purses

Or perhaps I should call them "Mum and Daughter festival bags" in British English? I subscribe the hard copy of Simply Crochet a UK publication and although there is a little delay in reaching me here in Texas I just adore it! My last crochet bag was getting a little tatty so a bright summer bag was required! I found a fringed bag pattern in the back issue #19 and found stash yarn to suit. Then I had to embellish it further. And of course my daughter wanted one so I sized down the pattern to make a diddy version for her. Bright colors make me smile :)





Sunday, July 19, 2015

Holiday projects - part 3

Socks are a small portable project which nonetheless take some time to complete. I did try crocheting socks last year but they were too chunky for my liking. And since the yarn store weekly workshop I run is mainly knitters with the odd crocheter turning up, I have regained some of my former enthusiasm for knitting. I have lost a former sock project which I took girl scout camping but fortunately had extra double point needles and more tweed KnitPicks sock yarn so began again. I've only ever made one pair of knitted socks before thinking socks with a cable would be a good idea and they aren't wonderful and I don't like the color of the yarn much but I do still wear them. There really is nothing like a pair of hand-knitted socks. They are a joy and an indulgence. Scotland was unseasonably cold and damp this summer so this spurred me on. I chose the more simple sock pattern sans cable from the one of my all time favorite books "The Gentle Art of Knitting" by Jane Brocket.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Holiday projects - part 2

I have a favorite great aunt in her 80s and the dates of our trips to Scotland are planned purposely to cooincide with her birthday. She is the younger sister of my paternal grandmother. Those were the days of big families -  they were 15 sisters and 1 brother. She loves cats so of course I had to make her an amigurumi cat and settled on grumpy cat. I have since learnt that grumpy cat is actually a well-know celebrity Tardar Sauce with it's own Facebook page and many fans. Hilarious! My great aunt is such fun, will chase the children around the house and we really enjoy singing old Scottish songs together (obviously with a wee drink or two).





Pattern sourced from Ravelry by Van Vuong http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/grumpy-cat-3

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Roadtrip Crochet Blarf Stashbuster

Our Roadtrip to Arkansas Ozarks is perfect for continuing with my crochet blarf (pattern by Esther Sandrof on Ravelry). Continued on the porch of our cabin and completed with my favorite popcorn stitch edge. Will bring it out when it gets chilly in Houston.  It's hard to believe we get weather cold enough for scarfs but we do!





Sunday, July 5, 2015

Holiday projects - part 1

Every summer we travel back to the UK to visit family and friends and the quandary of what yarn and projects to take begins. I pack my clothes in less than an hour but the craft packing takes many days. I settled on a small project bag with the essentials and more trunk show gorgeous Anzula For Better or Worsted yarn: thicker, in blue and lilac blends and two patterns for crochet tops. My extremely pointy scissors went in my checked baggage in my large Cath Kidston project bag with two more projects and a pair of my children's green-handled craft scissors in the smaller project bag.



Realized that I didn't have enough yarn to make a top (note to self: buy matching skeins not small quantities of different skiens!) Eventually I settle on making a cute French style beret for my mum finding the pattern on Ravelry searching by yarn weight and type: Bloom Beret and Cap by Brittney Waterhouse.




Sunday, June 28, 2015

Charity square edging

Away this weekend with family and friends staying in rustic cabins on the edge of the Big Thicket National Reserve. Found a little time to work on my current charity lapghan project. I am edging lapghan #8 in black and pale turquose before joining with a slip stitch in the latter. We have almost reached our goal of ten lapghans after just four Yak and Yarn meetings. Yay! Fortunately I am not the sole joiner of squares in our group so the pressure is off and I'm working at a leisurely pace. I have heard that joint square making projects often founder and stall when joining is left to one person!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Crochet at Pop Shop Houston

Escaped from the family for a fleeting visit to Pop Shop Houston at Silver Street Studios on June 13th. Obviously I was scoping out crochet for sale!

Mostly excited about meeting Jess aka @cultgrrrl http://www.cultgrrrl.com  She designs amazingly edgy pieces and I couldn't resist this day of the dead skull.  She told me her grandmother taught her to crochet and complained that her tension was too tight but then Jess found her calling with amigurumi - fantastic!

Another exhibitor http://www.shopwithasha.com had cute crochet key chain characters and this awesome change purse. Of course he will hold my stitch markers! Mia told me she made the easier creations and her friend the more tricky ones (my purse is one of those!)

I also spotted a huge display of crochet mounted taxidermy critters by http://www.nothingbutapigeon.com but the stand was unmanned so walked on by....next time! There is another Pop Shop scheduled for November.