Sunday, 17 July 2016

The Stylecraft Blogstars

Imagine all your favourite knit and crochet bloggers getting together for a weekend with a rather well-known yarn manufacturer and you've got a pretty awesome combination.

Let me introduce you to the Sylecraft Blogstars:



From left to right, back row:
Sandra Paul (Cherry Heart), Julia Marsh (Hand Knitted Things), Helen Kurtz (The Knitting Exploits of Josie Kitten), and me.

Front Row: Kathryn Senior (Crafternoon Treats), Heather Leal (The Patchwork Heart), Phil Saul (The Twisted Yarn), Lucy (Attic24), and Sue Pinner (Shropshire Scrapper Suz).

And not forgetting the three who couldn't be with us: Jane Crowfoot (Janie Crow), Emma Varnam (Emma Varnam) and Angela Armstrong (Get Knotted Yarncraft).

And so what did we get up to, I bet you're wondering?
Well, first I had to make my way to the Mill in Yorkshire, where we were treated to a tour by Richard Brown, owner of Stylecraft and its subsidaries.

Gorgeous views in every direction

Ever wondered how yarn is spun?
It starts off like this in huge squishy bundles:

ENORMOUS vats of yarn
And is spun through a series of the most enormous, noisy machines:

I thought these were sweets at first...



Richard, showing us how the yarn is twisted during manufacturing.




It's steamed to remove the twist, until it resembles something fine and beautiful like this:


This is one of the test rooms. I want a wall like that in my craft room.

It was so interesting to see manufacturing on such a large scale.

As if that wasn't enough, we were then invited to see the new collections of yarn. Here's one of the mood boards for the new collections. It's called 'World Marauder'. I love the colours.


And this is one of the new ranges, inspired by the colours:


It's called Batik and is wonderfully soft, with 80% Acrylic, 20% wool content. I can't wait to try it (I have lots of ideas already!). And check out Sue's blog, where she has links to lots of patterns using this yarn.

And this lovely stuff is called Yarn Stories. A beautiful, premium 100% wool, available in Merino or Merino and Alpaca and made in good old Blighty. The colours are amazing and it is sooooo squishy.


We were also told about some new exciting yarns and projects to come, but my lips are sealed. It's top-secret stuff.
You'll have to stay tuned.

So what's to come from the Blogstars?
Well, we'll be working on new projects for you, and there will be a blog tour in October, where we will reveal our patterns (in plenty of time for you to be planning those Christmas* projects). There will also be giveaways a-plenty.

*yes, I did mention the c-word. Yes, I know it's only July. Sorry about that.

The gorgeous and sparkly ' Cabaret' DK

So do pop along and check out the other bloggers. Lots of them are far more organised than me and have already blogged about their Mill visit. And they've got so many gorgeous projects to inspire you.


Enjoy your week,
Sarah X


Sunday, 10 July 2016

The one with a very little giraffe

Teacher gifts.



The one thing I always leave until the last minute (and I should know better really - I am a teacher, after all).

Imagine my delight when the little one announces that I haven't made the giraffe I promised to make for her teacher. 



Despite having approximately a billion other things I should be doing, including working on 12 new projects for my next book* I decided to make a little giraffe. 
A very little giraffe.



* yes, I am writing a new crochet book. All is a bit secret at the mo, but I'll let you have some sneaky peaks soon.

If you have a last minute teacher-who-likes-giraffes gift to make, or just fancy your very own little giraffe, then here's the pattern in UK terms. (For US, dc is the same as sc and dc2tog is the same as sc2tog).

A Very Little Giraffe Pattern (UK)

Abbreviations:
ch = chain
sl st = slip stitch
dc = double crochet
dc2tog = double crochet 2 together**
sts = stitches
**to make the dc2tog stitch using the invisible decrease method:
Insert hook into the front loop of the first stitch.
Insert hook into the front loop of the second stitch (3 loops on hook).
Yarn over and pull yarn through the first two loops (2 loops on hook).
Yarn over and pull through both loops.

Finished size: 12cms (4 3/4 inches) tall

You will need:
Yarn and hook of your choice (any weight yarn and hook to match will work)
I used a 4 mm (US 6/G) hook and Rico Creative Cotton Aran in Vanilla (shade 62), Tangerine (shade 76) and Nougat (56) 
Toy stuffing
2 x 6mm eyes
Tapestry needle
Stitchmarker. Mark the first st of each round

Head
Stuff as you go.

In Vanilla
Rnd 1: 6dc in magic ring or 2dc, 6dc in 2nd st from hook (6 sts)
Rnd 2: 2 dc in each st around. (12 sts)
Rnds 3 - 4: dc 1 in each st around.
Change to Tangerine
Rnd 5: (dc 1, 2dc in next st) repeat around. (18 sts)
Rnds 6 - 8: dc 1 in each st around.
Rnd 9: (dc 1, dc2tog) repeat around. (12 sts)

Insert eyes between Rnds 5-6, 6 sts apart.
Rnd 10: dc2tog around. (6 sts)

Fasten off and sew closed.

Ears (make 2)

Rnd 1: 4dc in magic ring or 2dc, 4dc in 2nd st from hook (4 sts)
Rnd 2: (dc 1, 2dc in next st) repeat around. (6 sts)

Fasten off. Sew to head

Horns (ossicones)*** (make 2)

In Nougat
Ch 4, 
Row 1: sl st 3, beginning in 2nd ch from hook.
Fasten off. Sew to head.

*** a giraffe does not have horns, but ossicones. Both male and female giraffes have them. They are made from bone, but not attached to the skull, to avoid injury at birth. Males sometimes use their ossicones to fight. Educational fact. Retain as valuable information for use in random pub quiz someday.

Neck, body and legs ****
(Leave long tail at beginning for stitching to head and stuff as you go)
Ch 6, join with sl st to first ch.
Rnd 1: ch1 (doesn't count as st), 1dc in each st (6 sts) 
Now in continuous rounds
Rnds 2 - 5: 1dc in each st.
Rnd 6: (dc 1, 2dc in next st) X 2, dc 2. (8 sts)
Rnd 7: dc 2, (2dc in next st) X 3, dc 3. (11 sts)
Rnd 8: dc 3, (2dc in next st) X 4, dc 4. (15 sts)
Rnd 9: dc 4, (2dc in next st) X 6, dc 5. (21 sts)
Rnds 10 - 13: 1dc in each st.

Front leg
Rnd 14: dc 1, dc2tog, dc 4, then cross over to the other side (see pic) and dc 4 back to stitchmarker. (10 sts)







Rnd 15: dc2tog around. (5 sts).
Fasten off and sew closed.

Back leg
Rnd 14a: 1dc in each st around. (10 sts)



Rnd 15a: dc2tog around. (5 sts).
Fasten off and sew closed. 
Stitch between the legs to close the hole.




Use the long tail from the neck to stitch the head in place.

**** not anatomically correct - this giraffe only has 2 legs. And they're a bit short.

Tail
Make a knot in the yarn and stitch it into place. Separate the strands to create the tail.

Spots
Cut a variety of different sized spots of out brown felt and glue or stitch into place.





And that's it.
Job done, happy teacher (I hope)
Enjoy!

Sarah xxx



Saturday, 25 June 2016

Crochet T-shirt necklace

Inspired by a rather large delivery of T-shirt yarn from here, I decided to make this cute crochet necklace.
Fancy making one?


Those of you who know my stuff won't be surprised to learn that this project is super-quick and super-easy. 

AAAAAnd, I've included a step-by-step photo tutorial underneath the pattern for all you crochet newbies.
Cos I am nice like that.


Let's crack on..

You will need:
12mm hook 
T-shirt yarn in whatever colours you like (this is perfect for using up leftovers)
Tapestry needle

Pattern: (US terms in bracket)

Foundation chain: In colour A, Chain 13
Row 1: beginning in 2nd chain from hook, 1dc (1sc) in each ch across, 1ch, then pull through colour B for 2nd ch, leaving long beginning tail for tie.
Now working the other side of the ch, make 1slst in each st across.
Fasten off, leaving long tail of colour B. Weave in ends of colour A.

Photo tutorial:

In colour A, Chain 13:


Beginning in 2nd chain from hook, 1dc (1sc) in each ch across:

 
Make 1ch in colour A, then pull up a loop of colour B, leaving a long tail at the beginning:


Turn the necklace around so you can work along the other side of the chain. You'll make your stitches into those unused loops:


Make 1 slip stitch into each stitch across, keeping your tension quite loose.






Pull the yarn tail through and make an invisible fastening-off as follows:
Stitch the end through the loop of the next stitch...


...and then back through the last slip stitch.


Turn the necklace over and stitch this tail through the back of the stitches to create one of the ties:




Weave away the yarn tail from the foundation chain on the other side:


Knot together the remaining two ends and weave away colour A, leaving colour B as the other tie:



Tada! 




Job done. 

Enjoy, lovely peeps!

Sarah xx




Sunday, 5 June 2016

Flamingo




Just a super-quick post to let you know that my latest pattern is now available in my Etsy shop!

It's written in both UK and US terms, too.

Enjoy, lovely peeps.

Sarah xx

Saturday, 23 April 2016

The Very Lazy Ombré Blanket

I love a crocheted blanket.


Made with love and received with joy, they really are the loveliest gift for a friend/relative's new baby/ puppy/ house.

Number of blankets pinned/coveted/added to my 'must-make list'?
A bazillion.
Number of blankets actually made by me?
Two.
Yep. Two.

And both were projects for my books. One is actually still with the publisher for promotional stuff.

But I have great intentions.... You may remember I started the Crochet Mood Blanket; one motif a day throughout the year 2014:




Unfinished.




Unfinished.

So without further ado, let me introduce you to my next unfinished blanket:
The Very Lazy Ombré Blanket:







Look, I haven't even joined the squares... good so far, eh?

This time, I used some great yarn I was sent by Woolly and Warmy to try. 





Again, I chose a yarn which changes colour so that I don't have to deal with all the ends. It's acrylic, so will wash and wear well and is cheap as chips, too. I've got 10 balls of 100g each, which I think will be plenty for a single bed-sized blanket for the boy. My idea is to make all the squares and then order them ombré stylee, from dark to light. I think I might join and border them with plain white, but I'll wait until I get to that stage to decide (don't hold your breath...)

To make the blanket warm, I wanted a solid-ish square motif and fancied a circle in the middle.
Here's the pattern: UK first, US below.
UK Terms
Papatya Batik in colour 10
4mm hook
At the beginning of each round, make a 3ch for your first treble. At the end of each round, join with a slip stitch to the top of your ch-3.

Round 1: 2ch, 10tr in 2nd ch from hook (10 sts)
Round 2: 2tr in each st around (20)
Round 3: 2tr in each st around (40)
Round 4: (2tr, 2ch, 2tr) in first st, *1tr, 2htr, 3dc, 2htr, 1tr, (2tr, 2ch, 2tr) in next st* repeat from * to * around.
Fasten off




US terms
Papatya Batik in colour 10
4mm hook
At the beginning of each round, make a 3ch for your first double crochet. At the end of each round, join with a slip stitch to the top of your ch-3.

Round 1: 2ch, 10dc in 2nd ch from hook (10 sts)
Round 2: 2dc in each st around (20)
Round 3: 2dc in each st around (40)
Round 4: (2dc, 2ch, 2dc) in first st, *1dc, 2hdc, 3sc, 2hdc, 1dc, (2dc, 2ch, 2dc) in next st* repeat from * to * around.
Fasten off

To join the squares, try double crocheting (US single crochet) them together.

The boy asked if his blanket would be ready for his birthday.

Oh, how I laughed....

Sarah x