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The Week Ahead – Silver Wire Earrings

21 Oct

I’ve been trying to source some good quality sterling silver ear wires at an affordable price for quite some time – some of the cheaper options can be incredibly flimsy.   That’s when it occurred to me – why don’t I just make my own?

SwarovskiSilverEarrings1Through a little bit of online browsing I’ve managed to source eco-silver wire.  This wire is made from recycled sterling silver and has all of the same properties as sterling silver.  The wire is pliable but much weightier than the ear wires I’ve used in the past.  I just love the more organic nature of these handmade ear wires and I think they’ll become a part of my future jewellery designs.SilverPearlEarrings1

It’s also been a while since I used my pegboard so I’ve used my new silver wire to create these swirling earring designs.

In the meantime I’m also knitting up another slouchy hat using my own pattern.  Once I get it the way I like it I’ll start to make a series of them in different fun colours.  What a great way to brighten up the apparent horrible winter that’s coming our way!2013-10-19 16.02.26

Top Tip Tuesday – The Magic Loop

15 Oct

This week’s top tip is probably well known amongst seasoned knitters, however I only used it for the first time last week!

I used to buy specific sizes of circular knitting needles for every new project, until I discovered my interchangeable knitting needles.  I now (hopefully) have every length of cable and size of needle I’ll ever need!

Avid readers will know that I’ve just started knitting hats, however my circular needle set only comes with long cables.  This isn’t really an issue if you adopt the magic loop method which allows you to knit a small circumference on much larger cable needles.

It’s simple really:

  1. Using a 40″ cable, cast on the required number of stitches
  2. Fold your cable and point both needles to the right – lay it out in front of you.
  3. Count along half of your cast on stitches, and at the half way point start to pull the cable through these stitches.  This is what creates the ‘magic loop’! You have now created a much smaller circumference to work with.
  4. Join in the round in your usual way.  You’re now ready to carry on knitting in the round!

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This photo shows my hat project in the more advanced stages, and you can see the magic loop on the left hand side.  Each time you finish half a round, simply count out the next half of your stitches, pull the cable through and carry on knitting.  You can use a stitch marker if you like, but I always use the tail of my cast on row as a guide.  Seeing as you’re counting out half the stitches each time you make a loop, it’s easy to tell when you have finished a round, or are only half way through one.

Happy knitting!

The Week Ahead – Hats!

14 Oct

I’ve been putting my KnitPro interchangeable circular needles to good use this past week by trying to knit my first slouchy hat!  In the past2013-10-10 19.00.06[2] I’ve just bought specific circular needles for whatever project I was about to begin, but these interchangeable needles definitely make much better economic sense!  I really wanted to get the colourful wooden range (because they look so pretty to knit with!), but wooden needles tend to make me want to cut my fingers off 2013-10-10 21.55.50[1]after a few hours of knitting – they’re so painful!  These metal ones however are a dream to knit with and I love that hats are so much faster to knit than my usual scarves!

Slouchy hats seem to be very in at the moment so I’m going to have a play around and create my own pattern once I get the size right.  I’ll hopefully have a new hat section in my shop soon!2013-10-10 21.59.00[1]

This week I’m also planning to fill up my Folksy shop which has been a bit neglected.  I spent a lot of time adding new listings when I first opened a few months ago, but haven’t been very good at adding more.  I think I just need to put a few hours aside and get to it – Christmas is coming after all!  Because I spend all day on the computer at work I prefer to spend my evenings knitting in front of the telly instead of spending more time staring at a computer screen… but my shop isn’t going to be successful if it’s empty!

This week is also Wool Week!  I’m going to try very hard to avoid all of the amazing wool sales that normally take place this week – I still have a massive pile of unused balls of wool so I don’t think I’d be too popular if I filled the cupboard even more without using my existing stash first!

Top Tip Tuesday – How to Prevent Laddering when Knitting with DPNs

8 Oct

If you’ve read yesterday’s post then you will know that I recently finished knitting this adorable little baby hat after three attempts at getting the sizing right.  Lesson learned – I will definitely be making swatches from now on!!

2013-09-20 23.57.38[1]However, today’s top tip has nothing to do with gauge or swatches.  Today’s tip hopes to solve another issue I had when knitting this cute hat on double pointed needles – laddering!

No matter how tightly I knitted my first stitch on each needle, I would get a larger gap compared to the other stitches – as I progressed with the hat, this created a ladder effect.

So how did I finally solve this issue?  It’s quite simple really, and I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before!  Before knitting the next round, simply move a couple of stitches between needles.  This prevents that first larger stitch from being in the same place each time, and once the hat is finished, you can’t tell which stitches are from the start of a new needle – the tension seems to even itself out.

I’m now feeling much more confident about knitting hats on DPNs and I’m now planning to create a new range for my shop – watch this space!

Don’t forget that you can share your own top tips right here and I will link to your own website – just get in touch!

The Week Ahead – I’m Back!

7 Oct

Ok so in actuality, I was back from my holiday a couple of weeks ago, but I felt like I needed a little time to catch up with things before I got back into my blog!2013-09-20 23.57.38[1]

Sooo what have I been doing, I hear you ask!  Well I’ve been knitting this adorable little baby hat which is hopefully the right size this time!  This is my third attempt, with the first try being far too small and the second being too big to fit me (why don’t I just do a swatch first?!?!), so hopefully the third attempt is just right!  All of these attempts has allowed me to perfect knitting in the round using double pointed needles and I even have a top tip to share with you tomorrow!

2013-10-05 11.45.17I have also been cross stitching these branded coasters for my brother.  I’d made him one a few months back as a silly gift for the office and he liked it so much he has commissioned me to make some more!

Once I’ve finished these I’m planning on trying to knit a slouchy beanie hat.  Depending on how it turns out, I might even introduce a range to my shop.  I always seem to get these great ideas right before the relevant season, so I may have one or two hats in my shop in time for Christmas, but a more substantial range probably won’t be available until well into the new year.

I’ve started my Christmas shopping, so I’m assuming that means that most people will be starting soon if they haven’t already.  I’m hoping to keep my Etsy shop fully stocked with goodies for the next few months – I’m still aiming to reach my goal of 100 Etsy sales before Christmas (only 15 more to go!!)

The Week Ahead – Knitting Heirlooms

19 Aug

I’ve been a busy bee lately – doing some overtime and earning extra pennies for my house fund. Which is great, but it just means that I don’t have much crafty news to give you.

I finally finished my twisted rib scarf and I’ll get around to blocking and listing it in my shop shortly. I’ve since moved on to a lacy number. I haven’t knitted a lace scarf 2013-08-18 20.51.02before so I’m starting off with a simple stitch which should show off the lovely variegated pinky purple yarn I’m using.

However, the last week hasn’t been all work and no play. My Grandad has been having a clearout and discovered a whole load of my Gran’s old knitting things which he has kindly passed on to me.  They include a lovely knitting bag, a selection of knitting needles, wool, a tobacco tin full of cute buttons and a vast selection of knitting patterns.  I also discovered a copy of Woman’s Weekly dating back to 1979!

2013-08-18 20.53.45

I’m pretty sure my mum used to have this hairstyle…

I’m looking forward to putting these things to good use.  There’s a great selection of wool and I just love the retro style knitting bag.  It’s not only practical but I’ll treasure it for years to come.

In browsing through the patterns I also discovered this hand annotated pattern for an “Easy and Quick Summer Top”.  2013-08-18 20.34.28Feel free to make use of it.  There aren’t any photos included so I have no idea what it looks like!  If you do decide to give it a go, please share your results!

I’m not expecting to do much knitting this week – I’ve got more overtime lined up at work and still trying to be good and go to the gym now and again.  (I’m not complaining at all – this extra money is getting me a step closer to buying my own house!)

I’ll hopefully have more work in progress to show you next week…until then, happy retro knitting!

Ruffle Scarf Sale!

4 Aug

Autumn will be upon us next month – I just love going out for evening strolls and kicking up the leaves.  The sunsets are always more beautiful at that time of year and the colours of the leaves are amazing.

In order to celebrate the changing of the season and cooler nights approaching, I’ve decided to have a Ruffle Scarf Sale!  For the rest of August my ruffle scarves will be marked down by 20%!

These ruffle scarves are 100% acrylic which makes them soft and slightly stretchy.  They come in a range of vibrant colours and the ruffles create a lovely texture.  In addition to full length scarves, I also have a number of shorter scarflettes which come with their own coordinating scarf pin.

All of my ruffle scarves have been automatically reduced by 20% until midnight on 31st August (GMT), so there’s no need to worry about entering coupon codes – the hard work has already been done for you.

These ruffle scarves also make wonderful gifts for Christmas, so head on over to my Ruffle Scarf collection in my Etsy shop!

Tutorial – Blocking a Knitted Scarf – The Soak & Spin Method

20 Feb

As I move on to more robust and chunky woolen knits, I find that the steam method of blocking just isn’t up to scratch.

This scarf was more of a tube than a rectangle...

This scarf was more of a tube than a rectangle…

Maybe the wool isn’t getting wet enough to be reshaped properly or I’m not leaving the scarf pinned in place for long enough?

Either way I thought it was time to take the plunge and try a new approach – the soak and spin method!  I’ve been far too cowardly to try this in the past for fear that my scarf unravels or felts into a big fuzzball before my eyes.  However,  seeing as my last scarf decided to fold in on itself in such a stubborn fashion, I knew that my usual Steam Method just wouldn’t cut it.

I found this method after perusing many crafty articles online and decided to share my own experience and my own take on it:

Blocking – The Soak & Spin Method

You will need:

A bedGreyScarf2[1]
A lot of dress making pins
A washing machine
A basin or bucket
Wool detergent
A pillowcase

1. Following the instructions on your wool detergent, fill a basin or bucket with the appropriate amount of detergent and luke warm water and pop the scarf in to soak for about 10 minutes.

GreyScarf3[1]2. Roll the scarf up carefully in the water and remove from the bucket.  Empty and refill the bucket with clean water before popping the scarf back in to rinse.  Give the scarf a gentle swirl before re-rolling it up and squeezing as much water as you can out of the scarf.  Be careful not to twist the scarf and support it as much as possible as you get rid of the excess water.

3. Put your rolled up scarf into the bottom corner of the pillowcase and tie a strong knot to ensure that it can’t move around.  Pop the pillow case into the washing machine for a fast spin cycle.  [Optional – Sit with a cup of tea and worry frantically that your scarf has somehow escaped from the pillowcase and is now getting into a right mess in your washing machine – this won’t actually happen, but I couldn’t help but stress the first time I did this!]

This pic isn't necessary - I just always thought looking into a washing machine whilst on spin was mesmerizing!

This pic isn’t necessary – I just always thought looking into a spinning washing machine was mesmerizing!

4. Once the spin has finished, take the scarf out and gently unfold it onto the towels – I find it easiest to spread the towels out onto my bed so no one should accidentally step on it!  Gently shape the scarf into your desired width and length before pinning it down – the more pins the better to ensure it retains its shape.

5. Leave for a good few hours to ensure that the scarf has completely dried.  Ideally do this in the morning and leave all day, or if you have a spare room then leave it overnight.GreyScarf5[1]

I was so happy when I pulled the scarf out of the pillowcase and discovered it hadn’t miraculously untangled – I don’t know why I had been so nervous about attempting this method before!  There’s actually not a lot of work involved and giving your scarf a proper wash means it smells especially nice and fresh!

GreyWoolScarf2This Grey Wool Ribbed Scarf was knitted using 100% British wool from Suffolk and is available to purchase in my Etsy shop.

Ruffle Scarf Sale!

15 Feb

I’ve gone a little overboard with the knitting over the last few months and find myself with a cupboard exploding with ruffle scarves in a rainbow of colours!

Seems to me like the perfect excuse for a sale, so I’m offering 20% off all of my ruffle scarves and scarflettes for the next two weeks!

So what if spring is supposedly approaching?  I wear my own pink and purple ruffle scarf most of the year (I do live in Scotland after all) and it’s always winter somewhere around the globe!

These ruffle scarves are 100% acrylic and come in a range of colours to match your style.  The layered yarn creates waves of textured ruffles and is slightly stretchy – not to mention soft and comfortable to wear.  In addition to full length scarves, I also have a number of shorter scarflettes which come with their own coordinating scarf pin.

All of my ruffle scarves have been automatically reduced by 20% until midnight on 28th of February (GMT), so there’s no need to worry about entering coupon codes – the hard work has already been done for you.

So if you’re looking for a special birthday present, getting ready for Christmas ridiculously early, or just want to treat yourself – head on over to my Etsy shop sale!

Yarns Made from Different Sheep Breeds – a Kickstarter Project

29 Dec

As I learn more and more about knitting, I have been discovering that there is a wide range of wool and yarns available to knit with…actually there is an overwhelming number of different types of yarn and wool to use, each with their own distinctive qualities.

iusa_75x75.20584239_m0uwIt can be difficult to know which type of yarn is best for your project and there will always be an element of trial and error.  One of my fellow Etsyians, Kouture Crochet, has decided to tackle this issue by creating a Kickstarter project which will offer backers the opportunity to trial many varieties of different wool breeds.106b44acc2d388a240ebc41f3406ad09_large

Kouture Crochet provides more info below:

“What is the project?

The goal of the project is simply to bring single sheep breed yarns to market in an affordable and user-friendly way.

Why Kickstarter?

Kickstarter is a great “crowd-funding” resource. It allows everyday individuals to fund an idea they like or want to see become a reality. Additionally kickstarter can allow backers to help shape how an idea comes to life. I believe that because this project is intended to help fill a need within the knitting, crocheting and weaving worlds, it is the best format for this project.

Why yarn?

As a professional fiber artist, I found there to be a lack of easy to pick up and learn about natural yarns. It’s easy to grab a ball of 100% Acrylic yarn, but what if you want a 100% natural wool yarn perfect for a rug, baby blanket or a sweater. Right now there is no easy way to try different breeds of wool to see which is best. This project hopes to fill that gap.

Why single breed yarns?43e17b5d1ea1c399a8a98b8a5ecd3d51_large

Just as different breeds of dogs are bred for different jobs, throughout the last few centuries different regions and groups of people bred sheep to fulfil different needs. Some breeds were bred for their meat or wool or both. Wool of sheep bred for their wool will have different characteristics, usually softer and higher yields. Wool from animals bred for their meat varies greatly and is full of surprises.

The best way to know “what is what” is to feel the yarn and work with it. However, there are hundreds of breeds and thousands of varieties. One skein of single breed yarn can be anywhere from $15 – $50 (approximately £9 – £31). As a result most of us do not have the means to try more than a few breeds in a lifetime.

I have narrowed down the list to just 25 breeds. Most are fairly common and fairly easy to find. These breeds vary greatly from the insanely soft, rare and colorful California Variegated Mutant to the workaday, affordable Masham. There is the silky Polwarth and the rough and sturdy Jacob and so much more.

Will these be the same as single breed yarns that I might buy from my regular wool shop?

These yarns are handspun by me in my own style. Mill spun yarns will be much more uniform, hand spun yarns from other spinners will have their own characteristics based on the style of the artist who spun them.

Additionally, individuals in a breed or a herd will have their own features as well. This is part of the complexity and fun of single breed yarns. Most of these yarns come from small producers with their own unique style. However, the goal is to give knitters, crocheters, and weavers a sense of what a breed can be. For example, Merino from different areas and of different fineness will vary but it is certainly different to Welsh fiber and yarn.”

If you would like to get involved in the project, simply click here to be taken to the website.