1 May 2017

April's Cowl - Scheepjes Eliza

Hello Blog, I've neglected you again..

Neglect is a harsh word.  Having time to blog, or a reason to blog has been hard with commissions and test knitting that all have 'top secret' stamped on them, it means that I can't show you the things I've been working on or shout about the amazing yarns I've been using.. until now.

Eight days ago my son asked if I could knit an Overwatch Beanie for him to gift a friend for her Birthday.  Absolutely, I can knit beanies with my eyes closed.. adding an Overwatch symbol may be tricky.  It proved too tricky.  Too tricky in the time frame of 7 days and too tricky for my patience levels when I am still up to my eyeballs in test knitting.

Fortunately a delivery from Wool Warehouse saved the day! I love how Wool Warehouse do that! We'd just discovered April's favourite colours when the perfect colour literally landed in my lap.

The perfect colour in a yarn I'd not yet used.  Meet Scheepjes Eliza!

I have to admit curiosity made me buy this to try,  It's 100% polyester and I tend to steer clear of polyester, it has a bad reputation.  Scheepjes promote this yarn as being as soft as silk. I trust Scheepjes and  by now you all know I'm a die hard Scheepjes Junkie and I will try anything of theirs.

Silk isn't perhaps the word I'd use to describe this yarn although it's super smooth.  Soft?  Oh it's Soft!!  Baby bunny soft!  Baby chicken soft!  Kitten soft.. It's ALL the baby animals soft and lets throw in as smooth as a baby's bum!

Can you see the soft?  I wish you could touch it, this yarn is about to give polyester a whole new reputation!

But I digress.. the soft will do that to you, you'll want to sit there stroking it, squishing it, rubbing it against your face ( I know you do that to yarn, you can't deny it!)

Back to the cowl.  Once my son had seen and felt the yarn we decided it would make a perfect cowl/neck warmer.. it's the soft, this soft against your skin.. it's SOFT.  We chose the colour Rollerskate because it fitted in with April's favourite colours of Blue, Teal and 'Seafoam"

April is a wee little slip of a teenage girl so I didn't want something super big and bulky that would dwarf her, just something nice and warm and snuggly.  Size was also dependent upon the fact that I had about 48 hours to get this knitted, washed, blocked and dried.

Eliza comes in 100gm balls with the iconic Scheepjes Easy Start tab.  I used about 55gms for this cowl. If I'd had time I may have made a headband to match with what I had left from the one ball.

I didn't use an existing pattern for something this quick and simple,  it was a matter of casting on and knitting until I had the height that I wanted.

Here's how I did it.

1 x ball of Scheepjes Eliza
4.00mm circular needle (80cm cable for magic loop method)
Darning needle for sewing in ends.
6.00mm needle (optional)

If you want to make a bigger cowl, cast on any amount of stitches in an even number.
I suggest that you weigh your yarn before starting, and again at the end of row 11.  By doing this you will know how much yarn you have used, the same amount will be needed for the final rib and cast off.

CO: 100 stitches using long tail cast on method
Join in the round being careful not to twist your stitches.

R1: *k1, p1* to the end of the round
Repeat Row 1 9 more times.

R 11: knit
Repeat Row 11 49 times.

R 61: *k1, p1* to the end of the round
Repeat Row 61 9 more times.

BO: Bind off in your preferred stretchy bind off method.  Alternatively bind off loosely using a size 6.00mm needle.

Give it a gentle wash with your preferred wool wash, I use Eucalan.  Block the cowl to neaten it up a bit and you're done. This cowl measured 23cm x 23cm after very gentle blocking with little stretching involved.  Blocking was more to straighten up the edges after washing.

Scheepjes Eliza comes in a range of 36 colours and is available at Scheepjes Retailers and Wool Warehouse*

* Affiliate link

2 April 2017

Crash Course in Fair Isle Knitting

Back in November of last year my friend Tammy revealed her gorgeous La Benaize Hat with the promise that the pattern would be released 'next week'.  I was excited as fair isle knitting was on my list of things to learn.  Tammy knows that I LOVE to learn new things so linked me to a very good tutorial by Staci Perry of Very Pink Knits which you can find here.   I had a quick look, enough to get the concept, see how the different yarn colours are worked across the rows and that was it.  I didn't need to really watch it until the pattern was available.

Life Happens!  "Next week" became March!

On a Sunday evening there was a discussion about the pattern being ready for release the next weekend, throw it out there and hope for the best.  In the past I had offered to test knit for Tammy and now was definitely the time for a test knit!

I was up to my eyeballs in a secret project but desperately needed a break from my own expectations of deadlines so this was a welcome change for a few days.  I had all the materials I required, I remembered most of what I'd seen in the tutorial, I was ready. I started on the band straight away, ran into tiredness, made a mistake and decided it could wait until the morning.

You know what it's like when you are working on something and just can't put it down?  This was one of those projects!  I'd never knitted with Scheepjes Stonewashed yarn before, and it is a dream to knit with!  I'd never worked fair isle, nor with charts, but this was SO easy!!

The pattern, thankfully, has a very easy chart to read.  To make it easier I had these gorgeous stitch markers that I'd received earlier in the week from Nerissa of Miss Neriss that I was able to use to mark the repeats.

All through Monday I was sending Tammy progress shots so that she could check if I was on track and that my tension, which usually runs on the tight side, was working up loose enough to show the pattern work.

Now I'm pretty sure both Tammy and I fell off our chairs when I had this completed at around midnight on the Monday evening. It was the most insane, almost record breakingly quick test knit everrrrrrrrrr! I had my friend Niamh cheering me on over Facebook Messenger and toward the end it was like a race with myself to get it done "15 rows to go" "6 rows of pattern", "onto the decrease".

I LOVE this hat!  I love that fair isle isn't the hideously complicated thing that I'd imagined it to be.

I'm going to knit ALL the fair isle things!

Not really!  But I am absolutely going to knit more La Benaize hats after my daughter's friends saw it and asked if I'd make them one.

 Scheepjes Stonewashed 811, 818, 821

 Scheepjes Stonewashed 822, 809, 812

These are two of the colour combinations I've chosen so far. Aren't those colours gorgeous!!

You can find the La Benaize pattern on Canadutch or on Ravelry.

Scheepjes Stonewashed yarn is available through Scheepjes Retailers or Wool Warehouse*

If you do make one of these gorgeous hats I'd love to see them on social media.  You can use #labenaizehat.  Be sure to tag @canadutch too!

*affiliate link

21 February 2017

Simple Secrets..

Every now and then you come across a pattern that is so simple in the making but the yarn choices turn it into something stunning and beautiful.

That's the case with this gorgeous Shawl of Secrets by Sarah Knight using Scheepjes Secret Garden Yarn.  Seriously look at that!  It's GORGEOUS!!

This pattern is ridiculously easy!  Don't let all those colours suggest otherwise.  I'd never done a top down triangular shawl before, and this wont be the last one.  Admittedly the garter tab cast on had me a little confuzzled but Sarah has an awesome tutorial with step by step instructions on her blog for those of you who get a little stuck.  I got stuck but managed to nut it out myself before I remembered the tutorial, and with a quick double check I was on the right track.

I've crocheted with Secret Garden before doing a simple ribbed cowl which started my love affair with this yarn.  I've got to say though that I much prefer to knit with it.  For me it's not about which craft I prefer to utilise this yarn with but it's ALL about bringing those colours to life in the most glorious way.

This shawl only takes 7  balls of yarn which surprised me greatly because my crochet ribbed cowl used 3 balls. Well it wasn't that great of a surprise knowing that crochet generally uses more yarn but this was a visual demonstration of the fact for me. This is such a lovely relaxing knit that I found it hard to put down and had it completed in 6 days.

Since making this shawl and showing it off, and trust me, I'm so in love with it that I've showed it off in every conceivable way, it's become the catalyst to some of my die hard crochet friends to take up knitting again or to even learn to knit!  How cool is that??

This shawl is magical.  I've yet to see two that look the same!  The colour changes in the yarn and the starting point of each individual ball brings about totally different looks!

This is my shawl part way through.

My friend Judy's is looking different again.

I've seen ones with a lot more pink in the start.  Every single one is slightly different and it makes for originality for individuals.

I have every intention of making more of  this gorgeous shawl. I've had numerous people ask if they can have or can buy mine.  NO! it's MINE all mine!  But I'll use any excuse to knit another of these beauties. Besides my favourite model Miss Poppy is not likely to part with it anytime soon.

This pattern makes up part of the Scheepjes Yarn The After Party series. You can find it as a digital download on Ravelry or buy it as a leaflet from Scheepjes retailers and Wool Warehouse.

The Secret Garden Yarn is available from Scheepjes Retailers and Wool Warehouse* for international shipping.

If you do make one of these use the #shawlofsecrets on Instagram and other social media so that we can all see the beautiful colour variations.  Don't forget to pop it in your Ravelry projects too!

**Edit: This pattern is now available on Ravelry as a PDF in five languages, English, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian and Spanish.

* affiliate links

17 February 2017

Blogcrastination, It's a Thing!

When I relaunched this blog a few months ago I was excited!  I love to write and I envisaged myself doing it regularly with at least two blogs a week.  Yep, all good intentions.. so what happened?

Blogcrastination.. that's what happened!

Talking to a friend a few nights ago we both agreed that in these days of social media, Facebook and Instagram have been a wee bit debilitating to our blogs.  I know I get caught up in the moment of posting pictures of a project in progress. then in the excitement of a completed project I will post it anywhere and everywhere.  By the time I've done that, and the euphoria settles I've realised I've not written the blog I intended but I've posted so many pictures of my project, who wants to see it again in a blog post?

I also tend to write on the spur of the moment, an idea will pop into my head and I write it almost instantly, as I did with the Dream Craft Room Catch Up blog and again now. Somewhere I have a list of blog ideas, I have no idea where I put that list nor can I really remember what was on it.

I always intend to write, but then, you know, who wants to write when you can knit!?

For me there's also that little voice in my head that says "Seriously, who's going to read your blog when there are SO many amazing craft blogs out there already?"  The Dream Craft Room Catch Up blog got a LOT of attention, overwhelmingly so, and in my mind for a wee bit I thought I would never replicate that, This is where I came unstuck.  I was putting pressure on myself to come up with that again.

Who's going to read my blog, who would be interested in an invisible blog by a not known crafter? The answer to that is I have no idea. The solution to that is to go back to my original plan for this blog and to just write about what inspires me, to write because I want to and about what I want to with no pressure on myself of readership numbers and stats and all those other things that one can get caught up in.  Its taken me awhile to realise that I was thinking too much about you and not about me.

I have some exciting things coming up.  I've started designing and there is so much to learn about the process. I've been doing some crochet testing for some talented ladies and can't wait to show you what they've designed. I have some knit testing coming up that I'm really excited about.   The Scheepjes Hygge CAL by Kirsten Ballering of Haak Maar Raak has started so that will keep me busy for awhile (I should put some sort of disclaimer in here to state that I am a Scheepjes Yarn Addict and you're bound to see a LOT of scheepjes product if you stick around).  So there are lots of things to inspire me to write about.

So the plan now is to try and blog once a week, to come up with my own  way of doing things and not compare this wee little blog to others, If anyone is here reading this please give my butt a kick every so often and remind me to put the knitting down for a bit and enjoy my love of writing for a moment or two as well.

The time for Blogcrastination is over,

1 January 2017

Setting Goals.. or a list of maybes but no promises.

New Year's Resolution
a promise that you make to yourself to start doing something good or stop doing something bad on the first day of the year:

There are SO many things wrong with that definition.  Let's start with the word "promise", it's a horrid word filled with high expectation, failure, and disappointment.  I never ever make a promise I can't or won't keep, consequently, I don't make promises.  Then there's "on the first day of the year' and that is about as long as my New Year's Resolutions ever lasted.  Lose weight, give up smoking, go to the gym.. urgh.  I never understood why one would put so much pressure on oneself and why on earth total all the pressure points under the auspices of "New Year Resolution".. Why not just do it, at any time of the year?  It's a bit like Valentine's Day, hate it, if Mr Builder can't say "I love you" or buy me flowers just because he can without a calendar reference reminding him too, then he's definitely not the man for me.  Fortunately he is, crisis averted!

I've seen countless posts on Instagram and Facebook this past week asking 'What are your knitting/crochet goals for 2017".  Do we have to confine our goals to a 12 month period?   Is there more of a sense of achievement if you can get as many ticks on your list in that 12 months?  Are we going to self combust with shame if we don't do it all, cos you know, we said we would.

Are you seeing a theme emerging here.. I hate constriction of this sort, because I know me, I am the most undisciplined person you will meet.  You all know this because you realised I hadn't blogged as regularly as I said I would or wanted to.

Life happens, it changes course, it alters your plans, None of us can guarantee that a resolution, goal, plan, whatever you want to call it will pan out the way we originally intend.

 I have started the year with a daily planner, more to help me be organised at home and keep track of my projects. Again, I know me, I know that I will let it slide at various points but I will try to keep it up to date and myself on track. Its set up quite simply, a cheap A4 day to a page diary.  I have my to do list, my in progress projects, notes of orders I've placed etc. I also have a wee box in which to list those things that I am grateful for each day to keep me accountable for acknowledging those little and big things in life.

With regard to my crafty things, I want to do and learn so many things but I wont pressure myself with a time frame.  But while you're here I'll share some of them with you.

I ordered this lovely little drop spindle and Shetland fleece on ebay a few nights ago. I've wanted to learn to spin since I was a wee little girl and often dreamed of a having lovely spinning wheel.  Now even I know to start small and get a feel for things before I jump in spending a gazillion dollars on something that could very probably make a beautiful decorator item than a working tool.

I'd love to have the courage to design.  I have this mental block in that regard in that I've only been knitting seriously for 6 months, I must be out of my mind to think that anyone would take me seriously if I were to pop out a design so soon, but I have 3 in my head already.

Then there's Brioche, Cables, Continental Knitting, so many techniques to learn.  I know that I'll achieve those things relatively quickly when the mood strikes because one of my favourite things to do is learn. Admittedly in my planner I have listed Cables in January and Brioche in February as a guide for myself of what I want to learn.

I also want to get the hang of two at a time socks and knit ALL the socks!  For that I'm just waiting on some Hiya Hiya Sharps to arrive with their lovely long cables.  My only long cable is firmly attached to my Black Brook Beanie at the moment. That's another thing on my list, to try the Hiya Hiya brand.

So whilst some of you plot and plan meticulously because that's your nature, or you have to for business purposes, I'll just plod along at my own little pace.  I'll be so excited with each little achievement and make that you will all be the first to know about it either through here or via Instagram and Facebook.

To all of you, reading, Have fun with whatever you do, because without the fun we wouldn't be here.

Happy New Year to you all.