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?!
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.
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...
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!).
So, I got two gorgeous black kittens at the weekend. They were rescued from Dalston market just over a month ago and were being fostered by an ex-colleague who is connected to the Feline Friends charity that rescues cats and finds fostering and adoptive homes.
I live in a flat, so they're going to be kept inside. To make sure they have things to keep them busy, I've been building a cat tree style activity centre up the wall!
Yesterday I knitted the first of two hammocks - I fear they might grow out of them quite quickly (and neither has been brave enough to hop up and in yet), but I thought I'd share the details.
All you'll need is:
15mm Knitting Needles
Half a bobbin of Hoooked Zpagetti
2 Wall Shelf Brackets (I got mine from B&Q)
And the knit was as simple as they come.
Cast on 25 stitches.
Knit 30 rows
Add tassels at your leisure and preference - then sew onto the wall brackets.
The great thing about Zpagetti is that it's recycled cotton tshirts and therefore can by thrown into the washing machine very easily. For the second hammock, I'm going to try and be a bit smarter about how the knitted section attaches to the brackets, for a quicker release when it needs a clean - any suggestions?