As February approaches, so do many many hearts all over the place. The 14th has long been Valentines Day - a day for lovers to express their affections and for secret admiration to be chanced at with anonymous cards. A day of hope that weeks or months of flirtatious advances might be mutual and one of the only days that you sort of hope to have a stalker.
In my last relationship, I long pretended that I did not care for the day, for - and it is true - there shouldn't be just one day to share affections, particularly in a relationship, agreeing it was purely commercial garbage. But, in other truths, having grown up with Disney fairy tales and always ready to throw myself at any special occasion going - I do care! As ever, it's uplifting to make someone else feel good and rather lovely to be made to feel good yourself and to be thought of (bar any awkward moments where you are the party adored and need to side step advances gracefully). I'll admit though, to date, the majority of my valentines cards have been from my father - but even those have stopped, very much appropriately so! So, I shall not be expecting any this year.
And alas, for the singletons out there, it can often be a sad day of self reflection (woo!). When you don't have a stalker, or the affection hasn't been mutual. You can try and channel Bridget Jones, walking across London Bridge with the wind in your hair, but now - there is an extra commercial opportunity for us! Gal-entines Day - 13th Feb. The celebration of friendships between strong independent women - because that's all we should need right?!
Anyhow, as always, I have diverted. Let's get to business.
These hearts can be crocheted from anything chunky with 12mm hooks. I've done some in Stitch and Story's chunky merino and Hoooked's Zpagetti. To keep the shape, I've threaded some craft wire around the edge. You can find some on the link here. I think I'm going to stick them onto blank gift cards and flog them at the market. You could make a few and chain them together for bunting or little bauble type things or start with this heart, and keep on going and see what you end up with!
Before we get confused with US/EU crochet terms, this is what I'll be meaning:-
SC - Single Crochet - hook into stitch, wrap, pull back through, wrap, pull through 2 stitches
DC - Double Crochet - wrap, hook into stitch, wrap, pull back through, 2* (wrap, pull through 2 stitch)
HTC - Half Triple Crochet - wrap twice, hook into stitch, wrap, pull back through, pull through 1 stitch, 2* (wrap, pull through 2 stitch)
TC - Triple Crochet - wrap twice, hook into stitch, wrap, pull back through, 3* (wrap, pull through 2 stitch)
I believe this is US notation, but I prefer it - as single, double and triple wrapping once you've pulled through makes sense to me.
Row 1: Slip knot, chain 4, connect ring by joining in the first chain. (4)
Row 2: Chain 1, 2 SC in each stitch, connect ring by joining with the first stitch (8)
Row 3: Chain 1, 2 SC in each stitch, connect ring by joining with the first stitch (16)
(- = move to next stitch)
Chain 2 DC - HTC TC - TC - TC TC - HTC - DC SC - SC - DC chain 2
- DC - SC - SC DC - HTC - TC TC - TC - TC HTC - DC Chain 2
connect ring by joining into first stitch and secure off.
Your completed hearts will be about 13cm in diameter.
Go spread them through-out the world, drop them into the bags of frowning strangers and send them to all your friends with packets of chocolate buttons and all the reasons why they're super great!
I shall be brief-ish.
I have always had a strange fascination with eyes. For most of my teens, I had a necklace from a shop called Octopus, that was a weighted blinking dolls eye in a glittery casing on a chain. It made me happy beyond belief - and the fact it freaked a few people out was a little added extra joy.
They're the window to the soul and the bodies biggest mystery, they are all you need to see of a person to know how they are - and yet, they almost always look the same.
So, in the spirit of rug making, I've known for months an eye rug was on the agenda. As with my sunshine rug, I extensively googled for eye rugs, but they were either not to my liking, or far too expensive.
I'm not yet sure whether this is to my liking - and I can't tell you how I made it, because it was improvised, but I can tell you it was made from Hoooked Spesso, a chunky sustainably made cotton yarn with which I am smitten. It's about £12 a skein and there was less than 1 of each colour used here. The rug is about the size of a 32" TV.
What boggles me the most though, is how Eliot (my kitten) knows to cat-moflage himself in the middle. Does he just like the middle? Or does he know it makes him look adorable?!
The Stitch and Story slipper kit is a very popular gifted item on the stall. You may not know, that all the Stitch and Story kits are built and designed for beginner and I can now advocate, this one really really is.
As I'm sure you've seen, I've run beginner knitting workshops before, learning beanie hats and my own slipper pattern with t-shirt yarns - and this is not dissimilar, with 2 basic stitches, no increasing and some super simple decreases and you'll be done. SPOILER:- you are basically knitting a big square-ish-thing - that sounds simple enough, doesn't it?
The pack includes some beautiful stubby 12mm knitting needles, the yarn, pattern and instructions on how to knit - Stitch and Story also have lots of videos you can watch to help with this bit too! All you need to learn is how to cast on, a knit stitch and a purl stitch. It'll be a frustrating 5 minutes - but perseverance is key! I promise you'll have it and unending satisfaction in no time.
I knitted one slipper in an hour - so for beginners maybe allow 2-3? You'll see it growing quickly, which is super rewarding and in an evening you can get one done! The 100% merino wool is super super soft, will keep those toes warm (the pattern splits between sizes 3-5 and 6-8 for a snug fit) and you can make the cute little pom poms for the embellishment on top without any additional tools or cutting of card circles - the pattern recommends using a fork! - I used my fingers.
So, brighter months approach (do I start every post with that?!) and I'm testing out ideas of summery, but crafty workshops. So this time - a rug!
This is made from Hoooked's Spesso Chunky Cotton, which is great for those 12mm crochet hooks. Hoooked say:-
'Our Spesso cotton yarn is very suitable for decoration and interior design. Tons of textile waste are generated during the textile manufacturing process. We purchase and collect this textile waste from companies that truly care about the proper destination of these materials. After being collected, the textile waste is sorted by colours, shredded into yarn fibre and spun again into this crafty cotton yarn. No chemical dyeing process is required. A new cycle begins, maximizing the use of natural resources. In this circular economy, you are able to transform yarn into art, making crafty creations of the lowest environmental impact and the highest ecological appeal.'
Which, in brief, give a little comfort around the fact that this beautiful rugged and rustic feeling yarn is sustainably sourced, using up waste and repurposing into something that can be used to make something else!
So - the rug - it's super simple. All you need to know is a chain stitch, single and a double crochet.
Row 1: slip knot, chain 4, complete the round by hooking into the first chain (4)
Row 2: 2 single crochets in each stitch (8)
Row 3: 2 single crochets in each stitch (16)
Row 4: alternating between a 1 single, then 1 double crochet, hook 1 crochet in the first stitch and 2 in the second (24)
Row 5 - how big you'd like it: continue Row 4, but each circle increase the number of 1s
so 5:- 1 in 1, 1 in 2, 2 in 3, repeat
6:- 1 in 1, 1 in 2, 1 in 3, 2 in 4, repeat
Essentially your circle is 8 1/8s - and each time your increasing the size of your 8th by 1 stitch.
Continue until your yarns have run out!
Unfortunately you can see below, I started part way through a skien of the blue, so I'm not quite sure exactly how big 3 would make. There was definitely still at least one round left in each of the pink and yellow - and with each hoop there's about 2cm added on every side. The rug below measures just over 50cm in diameter and therefore has definitely exceeded giant placemat territory!
1 skien of Spesso is about £12! - On the stall soon.
Thinking forward to knitting and crochet projects for the summer, bags instantly came to mind.
Everyone needs a bag, to picnic, to carry those essential items, for a night out - and why shouldn't you make it? I've seen a lot of circular bags recently which I've liked the look of and this was improvised on Greenwich Market the other day.
It uses Hoooked Zpagetti, but could as easily use a chunky wool or Hooked's Jute or cotton Spesso yarns for a more rustic feel and a 12mm crochet hook.
Main Bag (Make 2):-
Make a slip knot.
1: Chain 4 stitches and join the last with the first using a slip stitch. (4)
2: Chain 1, 2 DC in each stitch, join loop (8)
3: Chain 1, 2 DC in each stitch, join loop (16)
4: Chain 1, *1 DC, 2 DC*, join loop (24)
5: Chain 1, *1 DC, 1, DC 2 DC*, join loop (32)
6: Chain 1, *1 DC, 1, DC, 1DC 2 DC*, join loop (40)
7: Chain 1, *1 DC, 1, DC, 1DC, 1DC, 2 DC*, join loop (48)
8: Chain 1, *1 DC, 1, DC, 1DC, 1DC, 1DC, 2 DC*, join loop (54)
9: on the first go, fasten off, on the second, continue below
Lining up the 2 Main Sections:-
1: 1 TRC in piece 2, then TRC in the adjacent stitch of piece 1
2: repeat until you secured together 2/3rd of the circles - approximately 35 stitches on either side
1: Chain 60 stitches - 80 if you want a longer strap.
2: Secure with a slip stitch to the other side of the bag
3: TR along one side of the chain back to the other side of the opening
4: Turn and TR along the other side of the chain.
Follow instructions for the main section up to 5 and then fasten off.
Slip stitch the circle to the middle of one of the main sides.
Add tassels as required!
I used the scraps to make a lovely place mat too!
The Hoooked storage bag crochet kit is a best seller on the stall. For £13 you get the Zpagetti t-shirt yarn, a 12mm crochet hook and the pattern to complete it - which is little to ask for an evening or two of distraction that leaves you with a handy and rather beautiful storage bag. And because it uses Hoooked's Zpagetti, the big hook and only one crochet stitch you will be well away in no time, even if you've never done it before.
A few people often start by thinking they want the kit and then leave with a hook, the Hoooked book (which has the pattern in it) and Zpagetti in the colour of their choice. Either knowing they'll want to attack other patterns once they've started or feeling the need for a particular shade.
The only things you'll need to know are:-
A Slip Knot
Double Crochet Stitch
Give them a google and a youtube and you'll see that's really nothing at all.
And that's all there is to say really - easy peasy. Why not? Once you've got the hang of it, you'll easily be able to adjust the size and colours you choose and go to town!
I've been meaning to make a version with Triple stitches as a laundry basket for my bedroom, but it's in the making queue!
It is with a heavy heart that I report on this guy. I was exceptionally proud of this knit, perhaps in part because I had knitted an amazing jumper to go with it already (and being matching is both ridiculous and ridiculously satisfying) and because it only took 2 hours. None of those things leave one heavy, but the fact that two days after this picture was taken, proudly wearing my hat out for a civilised dinner and a few wines with my favourite ladies it was sadly mislaid, does. Fare the well my gorgeous, we had good times.
Luckily - I probably still have enough wool to make another one, once I'm finished mourning, because it's knitted from Wool and the Gangs Crazy Sexy Wool which comes in luscious 200g balls and this pom pom was made from jumper remains, so fingers crossed!
The thing I was keen to try with this knit was bobbles. I've been seeing lot of chunky knits on the instagram lately with beautiful baffling bobbly bits - and so I decided to unbaffle them. I'm not sure the extent to which I succeeded, but I loved this guy when he was finished, so happy times all round.
To 'bobble' I essentially I:-
0) got to the stitch in question (1)
1) increased the given stitch by 2 (3)
2) turned the work around to purl back across those 3 stitches (3)
(you only purl these 3, you don't go to the end of the row or complete anything else (don't pass go, don't collect £200)
- this is all contained and focussed on creating the one stitch into a bobble)
3) turned the work around again to knit back across those 3 stitches (3)
4) pulled the further 2 stitches over the closest 1 (essentially decreasing/casting off 2 to leave you with one again) (1)
To make a bigger bobble, increase by more, or do more rows in the step - and for smaller, do less.
To make your own bobbly beanie, you'll need a ball of the Crazy Sexy Wool, 12mm needles and a yarn needle. It went a little something like this:-
Cast on 40 stitches
Row 1-5: rib stitch - *knit 1, purl 1* (knitting again, I'd increase this to 7 if you're hoping for the folded over version) (40)
Row 6-9: stocking stitch - *knit 1 row, purl 1 row* (40)
Row 10: knit 4, bobble 1, *knit 7, bobble 1*, knit 3 (40)
Row 11 - 13: stocking stitch- purl 1 row, knit 1 row, purl 1 row (40)
Row 14: knit 7, bobble 1, *knit 7, bobble 1*, knit 6 (40)
Row 15 - 17: stocking stitch- purl 1 row, knit 1 row, purl 1 row (40)
Row 18: knit 2, bobble 1 without increase (so you decrease by 2),
*knit 5, bobble 1 without increase (so you decrease by 2)*, knit 4 (30)
Row 19 - 21: stocking stitch- purl 1 row, knit 1 row, purl 1 row (30)
Row 22: knit 3, bobble 1 without increase (so you decrease by 2),
*knit 3, bobble 1 without increase (so you decrease by 2)* (20)
Row 23: purl 1 row (20)
Row 24: decrease (knit 2 into 1) (10)
Row 25: purl 1 row (10)
Finishing: Cut a long tail, thread onto a yarn needle. Take the stitches off the needle and thread through starting with the furthest stitch from the tail, creating a loop which pulls the stitches together in a circles. Sew down the side of the hat and fasten off.
I added a big pom pom too. I was at my mum's house without pom pom makers and had a pile of left over little bits from my jumper, so I simply wrapped these all around my hand, pulled them off my hand carefully, tied the middle with the thinner piece of string nice and tight, cut the two ends where necessary, rolled the pom pom in my hands and pruned until even (Google hand pompoms for better youtube explanations!)
So - that was Christmas - and what have we done?! Well, I bloody well knitted a jumper.. and it wasn't half as scary or time consuming as I expected!
It's something I've had my eye on for a while. As many of you know, I only came back to knitting in the summer and I've been keeping everything simple and basic. I am always envious of people who have the time and attention for detailed jumper knits on tiny needles - and feel a bit of a fraud for not being one - but I am not one of these fabulous people and that's ok. I like things I can finish, I like big needles with big yarn that develops quickly - and I loved this knit.
I searched for the right kit for a while. I knew it needed to be chunky and I wanted something on straight needles, because it's accessible - and if one day I finally get round to organising a jumper club, everyone can have fun without the mental boundaries of circular needles! I also have a particular taste in clothes. I like clean lines and fitted sleeves, something that fits properly over the shoulders and is without frills and frolics. Pretty boring right? But basics last the test of time.
I was stuck for a long time between We Are Knitters and Wool and The Gang. Both have a beautiful range of jumpers that fit my requirements, but like the Cinderella experiment, when I knew, I knew - and it was Wool and The Gang's Eden Jumper that got me. The only 'downside' was the vast range of colours, this nearly held me back from buying at all, but I spotted some of their 'Crazy Sexy Wool' in John Lewis on Oxford Street and seeing a decreased range in person, I opted immediately for the Ultra Violet.
So, what do you get? If you opt for the full pack, you get 12mm needles, the pattern, a yarn needle and 6-8 balls of Crazy Sexy Wool. I must confess, I purchased mine during Cyber week and got 30% off - but usually this would cost around £120. I had my own needles (the Hoooked needles do just fine), so that made it a little better too.
The wool? The Crazy Sexy Wool has the same size specifications as Stitch and Stories chunky merino but seems far hardier and bouncy. Not quite as soft, which is to be expected, but where the softness of the merino means you have to be quite careful with it, the Crazy Sexy Wool runs with the punches and is reassuringly strong. On their website Wool and the Gang say: 'Crazy Sexy Wool come from happy sheep in South America, sourced with consideration as to reduce the impact on the environment. It happens to have amazing qualities - it’s natural, renewable, biodegradable. Plus, it’s also breathable, stretchy, made to last, easy to care for and comes in amazing colours!' I'd say it's pretty accurate - and as ever, having a mindfulness of sustainability and environmental impact, you can knit with a sound mind.
The knit? It claims to be intermediate, but as long as you can knit and purl, increase and decrease - you'll have this one down. There's some rib stitch for the edges (knit 1, purl 1) and a point where you have to put the body and sleeves piece onto a needle together so you can knit the neck across all sections and bring them together, but that really is it. Stocking stitch and a bit go shaping - sew it together - and done!
The feeling? I managed to get this completed within 54 hours - sleeping, socialising and Christmas celebrations included. The rush of seeing it developing and working through the balls of wool was thrilling (maybe I need more socialising?) - and for the size 2 (UK 10-12) I knitted, I was sent 6 balls and only used 5! - So, not only did I finish before I expected, I also had a whole ball to play with afterwards, which was useful, because I found it very hard to stop knitting at the pace I had done whilst attacking the jumper. A jumper detox ball, if you will. I finished this guy at 1am on Boxing Day morning - stuck it on, jumped on the sofa and danced a little on my own next the Christmas tree. Everyone else was already bed. Amazing. I'm already planning the next.
Then, on Boxing Day morning I knitted an amazing little hat in about 2 hours, and tried knitting bobbles for the first time (see next blog post) - but it shortly got lost on a night out with the girls (perhaps less socialising required hahaha).
And as soon as I have the funds, I will share what I can of it with you all by adding it to the stall stock! Until then, the Company of Crafters is always open if you need some assistance and have bought your own kit from their websites!
Thank you Wool and the Gang - you really made my Christmas.
We've now welcomed December and as such, the world is ramping up it's efforts to get festive. Several times this weekend I've noticed groups and couples hauling trees, or bags packed with lights and tinsel and various bits and bobs to get into the spirit - and why wouldn't you? Christmas has a warm nostalgic tingle, most of the time. A rare moment in childhood when the family is together, warmth away from cold and the buzz of fairytale gift givers, twinkly lights bloody everywhere and the chance of snow. I can be a bit of a scrooge during these times, only caving in for mulled wine and a bit of a sing-along, but this year I've been getting right into it trying to think up ideas for workshops - which resulted in this guy, a pom pom wreath.
There's not much to it. You get a base, you make pom poms, you put them on the base. Voila!
For mine - and for the workshops - I've sourced a mix of chunky merino for super big fluffy bits and some organic cotton KPC yarn for constrast. I found it quite hard when googling around to find out how much yarn you'd need, and the conclusion I came to was more than you think! For bigger wreaths, some places were recommending a kilo of yarn, which can be quite an outlay. So the wreaths at the workshops will be 20-23cm in diameter, you can choose between a star, a heart or a traditional ring and you'll be given 300g of yarn (200g merino, 100g cotton) and 3 sizes of pom pom makers.
I'm pretty happy with mine - and no doubt will end up making a few more - and I like the fact you can keep it year after year. It's a great way to burn through that yarn stash, and for those with bolder tastes you can really go to town with colours and embellishment (fairy lights?). And once you've started why stop? You can go big (the arm knitting wool can be used for giant pom poms), you can make baubles and bunting, jewellery, add pom poms to your hats, accessories - everything. Everything can be pom pom-ed, let no one judge, we are all guilty. Grab a mulled wine, and off you go!
We're deep into November and Christmas approaches at speed, as it does every year. The christmas lights are up and twinkling on the main shopping streets and the waves of cinnamon that waft from the mulled wine vendors at Greenwich Market have started to embalm the stall - all small lovely things to compensate for dark cold nights and regular rainy showers.
The theme of November's 'The Company of Crafters' (29th, 7-10pm at Deptford Does Art) is 'Festive Delights', so I've been thinking up and practising some on-theme crafting. Pretty early on, I got fixated with stockings. There's so many things you can craft for christmas - baubles, wreaths, jumpers, gifts - but this seemed like a good place to start. And as ever, the thick sturdy Hoooked Zpagetti comes to the rescue again for a one-evening project and a simple place to start for beginners.
This stocking uses crochet, the pattern was based off of a Hobbycraft blog (here), which uses tiny wool and hooks to make up tiny stockings you can use to build up an advent calendar! As with any of these, once you've got the shape and the jist, you can resize and embellish till your heart is content! Do it in one colour and sew an initial on the front, add pom poms, go stripy - the options are endless.. I'll certainly be churning out a few in the next weeks, so keep your eyes peeled for inspiration.
All you'll need is:-
1) 12mm Crochet Hook
2) Hoooked Zpagetti (I've used Hoooked's Ribbon XL silvery lurex for some shimmer as my contrast colour)
I'll be using US notation here - where:
DC - Double Crochet (wrap the yarn once before entering the stitch)
TC - Triple Crochet (wrap the yarn twice before entering the stitch)
SLST - Slip Stitch
You start at the toe:-
row 1: magic loop, chain 1, work 6 DC into the first chain, SLST into the first stitch to complete the ring (6)
row 2: chain 1, 2 DC into every stitch, SLST into the first stitch to complete the ring (12)
row 3: chain 1, *1DC, 2DC* - increasing in every second stitch, SLST into the first stitch to complete the ring (18)
row 4-6: Chain 1, DC into all stitches, SLST into first to complete the ring (18)
remove hook and replace with a stitch marker (I use a giant safety pin), don't tie off or cut the yarn, we're coming back after the heel.
Now for the heel (switch colours if you like):-
starting 4 stitches on from the stitch marker
row 7:- SLST to join new yarn, for next 11 stitches: DC, HTC, HTC, TC, TC, TC, TC, TC, HTC, HTC, DC SLST
row 8-9:- chain 1 to turn, DC, HTC, HTC, TC, TC, TC, TC, TC, HTC, HTC, DC, SLST
Back to the body:-
row 10:- Chain 1, DC into all stitches, SLST into first to complete the ring (18)
(this will take you around the loop, across the heel section, bringing everything together)
row 11 - 13:- Chain 1, DC into all stitches, SLST into first to complete the ring (18)
row 14:- switch colours and Chain 1, DC into all stitches, SLST into first to complete the ring (18)
row 15:- SLST into all stitches, above the heel SLST, chain 10, SLST to create the loop, chain more for a bigger loop (18)
fasten off! Voila!