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!
I'm all about quick knits. I'm certain that for new crafters in particular, the ability to complete something and to see the development of a piece is super important. There's encouragement in being able to visualise an end point and magic when you see a textile develop and grow from your needles or crochet hook or in this case arms. That's not to say that the reward that comes from a detailed piece isn't very fulfilling, but starting off, getting a few pieces finished really builds confidence. Here I am trying to justify this addition into the shop, but let's face it, I've always wanted to try this - and now I have - and am very much looking to spreading the craze. Because, GIANT YARN BALLS!
So, how did I go about this? I took my 2kg yarn ball and I Googled. I often tell people on the stall to do the same. There's such a wealth of youtube videos and blogs out there, when you can find someone that speaks your language, it's a piece of cake. There's no denying, being able to knit was very useful in getting started very quickly, but I like to be reassured I'm about to embark in the right direction. I used this blog article from Wool Couture here. They sell beautiful merino arm knitting wool and was an initial port of call when I was trying to find a supplier. Instead I went with Woolly Mahoosive and their acrylic balls as a start. The acrylic yarn is more accessible price wise, whilst working out what the appetite is (£20 vs. £40 per kilo), it's also vegan friendly, though there's no denying, it doesn't have the same softness of merino!
So I cast on 16 stitches and got going. I'd recommend avoiding bulky jumpers for this one! I managed to get my blanket started and finished in an hour ('Have I Got News For You' and 'Would I Lie to You' - a fun filled Friday night in - though I wasn't able to reach my wine very easily!.. check out instagram for some silly time-lapse videos of the feat). I probably knitted it a little too tightly, a bit looser and the knit would have been more even, but we live and learn. It was quick and arriving at a pink blanket about 110 x 90cm in such a little time was super rewarding.
And it's not just blankets you can get done with these guys, it's an affordable way to make rugs, bed runners, big bags, pet beds, storage boxes - endless options! I'll be setting up some workshops soon so you can get a handle on it with some in-person assistance, so keep those eyes peeled!
Four beautiful colours available...
And so, we're booked in at The Doodle Bar in Bermondsey to hold a knit workshop on the 17th of November where I'll be teaching how to knit hats or these super comfy slipper socks - check the events page for a link to book!
These are knitted on straight needles, rather than crocheted like the last ones - so the workshop will be a knit-for-all - and with contrast colours (which you'll be able to pick) and a combination of stitches which makes them look like they have a sole, they're really quite lovely for yourself or as a gift for someone else!
As usual, I've created these for me - I'm a size 6 (39) and they fit very well, but given Hoooked is stretchy (and you should also be cautious of the difference from Hoooked to Hoooked, different batches of different types and thicknesses of t-shirts make for slightly different results), it's best to measure as you go along. The Clarks Shoe Size Guide provides the cm length of UK and EU shoes sizes - remember when the foot goes in the slipper will stretch outward too, so they may look long, but that's ok!
12mm Knitting Needles
Hoooked Zpagetti Yarn (2 x medium bundles)
1 Yarn Needle
cast on 14 stitches in colour 1
row 1: k (knit) 4, p (purl) 6, k4 (you have 14 stitches)
row 2: p4, k6, p4 (14)
row 3: colour 2 - k4, p6, k4 (14)
row 4: p4, k6, p3 (pass colour 1 to the other side of the knit*) p1 (14)
row 5: colour 1 - k4 p6 k4 (14)
row 6: p4, k6, p3 (pass colour 2 to the other side of the knit*) p1 (14)
row 7-8: repeat 3-4 (14)
row 9: colour 1 - k1, increase in k2, k2, p6, k2, increase in k3, k1 (16)
row 10: p5, k6, p4 (pass colour 2 to other side of the knit*) p1 (16)
row 11: colour 2 - k5, p6, k5
row 12: p5, k6, p4 (pass colour 1 to other side of the knit*) p1 (16)
rows 13-26: -repeat row 11-12, switching colours as before (16)
row 27: decrease the first 4 stitches into two by knitting 2 stitches together twice, k1, decrease the 6 purls into 3 by purling 2 stitches together three time, k1, decrease the remaining 4 stitches together by knitting 2 together twice (9)
row 28: p3, k3, p3
to finish: cut the colour off with a long tail, and thread into a yarn needle. Thread the tail through the remaining stitches from the furthest away from the edge of the needle and pull tight (creating a loop through the stitches that pulls together to create the toe shape), the stitch the edges together until you get to where the shape decreases to form the foot of the slipper. Separately, bring the corners of the back together and sew the fold together to create the heel.
*passing colour 1 through before the last stitch, will keep the knit tidy and ensure you're ready to start with it again
So I'm still working on lots of these winter warmer ideas for the first 'The Company of Crafters' at Deptford does Art on the 25th October. We have slippers and mittens and all the beautiful Stitch and Story kits and now a hat for all the crochet fiends! It's been very interested to hear on the stall how most people either favour crochet or knitting - which do you?
Again, this uses:
12mm Crochet Hook
And is super super simple, as follows:-
row 1: Chain 2 stitches and crochet 7 TR (triple crochets - loop the yarn twice round the hook before inserting into the stitch) into the first stitch in the chain, SL (slip stitch) into the first to create a ring.
row 2: Chain 2, crochet 2 TR into each stitch and SL into the first stitch (you now have 14 stitches)
row 3: Chain 2, *1 TR into first stitch, 2 TR into the second* *=repeat, SL into first stitch (21)
row 4: Chain 2, *1 TR into first stitch, 1 TR into the second stitch and 2 TR into the third* *=repeat, SL into first stitch (28)
row 5-6: Chain 2, 1 TR into each stitch, SL into first stitch (28)
row 7: Chain 1, DC or SC (double crochet or single crochet) into each stitch, SL into first stitch, tie off (28)
To finish: I created a pom pom and sewed it to the top of the hat. This blog has a few ways you can try making them!
With all the triple crochet's this is super fast to do and creates a lacy pattern. Add extra stitches into the rows if you prefer not to see the holes when the hat stretches or for bigger heads!
On the stall, I am often asked how much one bundle of Hoooked Zpagetti yarn will knit. It's always a hard answer. Given the recycled nature of the yarn, it can vary from bundle to bundle in thickness and stretchiness - but Hoooked estimate the average bundle will produce 50 x 50cm (2500 sqcm) of knitting/crocheting/good fun. So, what else have I to do other than put this to the test?
Now, one disclaimer, this bundle did not knit the snood alone, yesterday I used some of if for the slippers, so I started with a little less than one ball of the Hoooked Zpagetti in Yellow Dream.
For the snood, I used 14mm knitting needles (for a slightly looser knit, to balance the thickness of the yarn - I'd say you could also use slightly large ones too, but 12mm and below creates a tight knit which may be a little rigid, particularly for this width of scarf), cast on 15 stitches and only used the knit stitch for all the rows to get the waffly texture. I haven't counted how many rows this was, but with all the yarn used up, I got a swatch 88cm x 20cm (1,760 sqcm). Without the slippers, for the average ball, it could have been up to 125cm x 20cm (2,500 sqcm) which would be sufficient for a scarf.
As you can see, the 88cm wasn't quite enough for a scarf, though there's sufficient overlap for a neat chest warming snood and with two/three buttons attached (the stretch nature of Hoooked means you don't need to worry about button holes), you can have a range of different styles within the one piece. It's definitely functional and again, wide enough to cover the shoulders too - so if you prefer something thinner, then just cast on fewer stitches.
So you can see compared with a usual ball of yarn, a ball of Hoooked really goes quite far! This would make a couple of place mats, a lovely table runner, or with 3-4 bundles you can make a 1m x 1m rug or a jumper and with 6, a 1m x 1.5m blanket. I've just put this into the washing machine, so I'll report later as to how it survived!
In August, I had my flat refloored throughout with engineered wooden floors. Since I bought the flat five years ago, it had had the same cream carpets (which with all the crafting that goes on had become a sewing needle infested disaster waiting to happen.. and not really cream anymore!). Anyhow! I missed the feel of carpets under my feet instantly and started rug shopping. It turns out nice rugs are pretty expensive - especially when you have a particular taste... so I started on the pursuit of ways to make one.
This is how I originally discovered Hoooked and rekindled my love of knitting. At £8 a giant bundle, it goes far and is quick to work with and because it's cotton, it wears and washes well. With 3 colours and a pattern from Stitch and Story you can find here (I made it a little bigger, casting on to 30 instead of 25 stitches) I made a sunshine for my bedroom in about 12 hours. At £24 of yarn and £7 for the needles - and the inspiration for the knit shop - it's really rather a bargain!
I recently painted the room in white and deep dark blue and painted some of the furniture a bright yellow. It started as classy adult room (I promise) - but has since become a whimsical kid-ult fandango, with cloud lights (inspired by a Magritte poster, I'd like to add) a few brightly coloured touches, a shoe-place - and now, a sunshine rug - because the best thing about being an adult, is the being able to do exactly what we want and be exactly as we wish (and trying not to care what others think!).
Along with hats and fingerless gloves, I've been seeking more ideas for people to give ago at the Winter Warmers Company of Crafters evening - so slippers!!
As well as keeping your feet toasty, these would make great gifts to cold footed friends - and because of the cotton jersey that Hoooked yarns are recycled from, can be chucked into the washing machine when needed.
I based these on this pattern I found online and have adjusted for the larger yarn. Once you've got the head around the shape, you can go mad with patterns and colours. I have size 6 feet, you can add or reduce row for smaller/larger feet - measure as you go along!
For these, all you'll need is:-
12mm Crochet Hook
Hoooked Zpagetti Yarn
Starting with the toe:
row 1: chain 2 stitches and hook 5 HDC (US half double crochet) into the first chain, SL ST (slip stitch) into the first HDC to complete the loop
row 2: chain 1, 2 HDC into each stitch, SL ST into the first HDC to complete the loop - (now you have 10 stitches)
row 3: chain 1, *1 HDC into the first, then 2 HDC into the second stitch* *=repeat - (15)
(switch colours on every row from here on out if you want to go two-tone)
row 4: chain 1, *SC (US single crochet) into first stitch, DC (US double crochet) into second stitch* (15)
row 5-7: repeat 4, SC into DC from the last row to create the pattern (15)
row 8: chain 1, *SC (US single crochet) into first stitch, DC (US double crochet) into second stitch* but only for 11 stitches (11)
row 9: turn, chain 1, going back along the row *SC (US single crochet) into first stitch, DC (US double crochet) into second stitch* but only for 11 stitches (11)
row 10-14: repeat row 9
to finish: fold the knit and bring the corners of the last row together. Sewn, this will create a seam and the back of the slipper. I slip stitched the 4 adjacent stitches before fastening off, but you can also cast off and sew separately with a yarn needle if you prefer. Then SL ST around the opening and tidy away all the loose ends.
If you're feeling fancy you can further embellish with pom poms or buttons or anything your heart desires!
As a solar-powered individual, it's always with a heavy heart that I acknowledge that the colder season is approaching. There's no denying the evenings have started to close in, the cars are a little frosty looking in the early mornings and a coat is near essential. But there are upsides! Cosy nights under the duvet on the sofa, mulled beverages and brisk walks after Sunday roasts to name a few, but it is also knitting season!
In preparation for the first 'The Company of Crafters' event on the 15th October, I've started to put together some simple patterns that beginners will be able to tackle and here are the first. A lovely contrast beanie hat and mittens using Hoooked's Zpagetti yarn - and it's super quick to complete.
For these, all you'll need are:
12mm knitting needles
Hoooked Zpagetti Yarn
Hoooked Yarn Needle
Both knits are similar and simple.
For the Mittens:-
Cast on 16 stitches.
5 rows of rib stitch: *1 knit, 1 purl* (* = repeat)
Alternate a row of knitting and a row of purling for 10 more rows
Cast Off - Leave a 30-40cm tail of the green yarn and use it to sew together edges to create mitten.
For the Hat:-
Cast on 40 stitches.
5 rows of rib stitch: *1 knit, 1 purl* (* = repeat)
Alternate a row of knitting and a row of purling for 18 more rows
row 19: knit together 2 stitches at a time, so you finish with 20 stitches
row 20: purl
row 21: knit together 2 stitches at a time, so you finish with 10 stitches
row 22: purl
Cast Off - Cut yarn with 30-40 cm tail, thread onto yarn needle and thread the needle through the 10 stitches starting from the stitch furthest away from the edge of the knitting needle (so you create a loop). Pull tight and then sew down the edge to create the hat shape.
Last night I gave the Luca Pom Hat a go. It's the first Stitch and Story kit I've tried, but there's always a lot of interest on the stall, so as sample for people to see and feel is a must!
It's got everything you need to complete the hat. The two 100% merino wools (also stocked in Grey with Pink), beautiful bamboo needles and both basic knitting instructions (for which there are also online guides too) and the pattern for the hat.
I sat in front of the tv and must have completed it in 2-3 hours. My little kittens were enchanted by the wool, which was a little distracting, but it was lovely to see the detailing of the hat emerge as the patterns came together - and being such a short knit definitely gave a sense of accomplishment quickly!
Great for beginners, this only uses knits and purl stitches, but in combinations that create the ribbing and the swirl pattern on the main bit of the hat, which feels pretty fancy to have created - and with being on big straight needles, it's much simpler for a beginner than a knit on round needles.
All in all, a big old recommend for me. I think I made my pom pom a little small, but thankfully there's more wool to give it another try - and having worked with t-shirt yarn for a month of so now, the soft merino was dreamy. If you don't see it on the stall, it's because it's made it's way into my private stash - if I wear it, it'll still count right?
Click here to buy the kit for £35