I’m feeling a little guilty as I haven’t blogged for a while.  I have been preoccupied with a bit of work and doing seasonal preparations.  I hope you don’t feel too neglected.

I promise I will blog in a few days, meanwhile I think you deserve a Christmas present.  So until midnight GMT on 24th December 2014 I am offering 20% off any pattern or ebook purchase from my Ravelry shop here.

You must use coupon code MERRY CHRISTMAS at checkout to receive the discount (one use per person only).

Merry Christmas xxx

Here in the UK, today is Small Business Saturday. In honour of the occasion until midnight GMT tonight I am offering 10% discount on all patterns and ebooks in my Ravelry Shop, no coupon code necessary the discount is automatic.
http://www.ravelry.com/designers/agrarian-artisan

Please support small businesses today.

Happy knitting and crocheting xxx

I have just returned from a knitaway break to Buxton in the company of 8 lovely knitters.

I have been on numerous such holidays over the last couple of years and they are always enjoyable.  We find new things to do, enjoy a relaxing time away from our normal ‘routine’ and have a great laugh.  Perhaps I should add we eat very well and quaff a fair amount of wine, or maybe I should say lots of wine ;-)

This was a new venue for us – the Alison Park Hotel .  It is a family run hotel in a large arts and crafts style house just a stone’s throw from Pavilion Gardens and therefore very easy strolling distance of the town centre.   It proved to be a very good knitters’ venue – the rooms were all ensuite and spacious, they have 2 lounges, one of which was ours exclusively, and a light and airy dining room, part of which is a conservatory and a perfect size for our meals and workshops.   The staff and managers were very friendly and nothing was too much trouble.  The food and drink was plentiful and good.

So what do we do on a knitaway?  Well it isn’t all knitting, there is always some crochet but we also like to try new crafts.  So we started with a self help workshop on making Dorset buttons, which are buttons woven with yarn on a circular ring.  I had seen these at Yarndale and I purposely decided to buy a bag of rings so we could all have a go at Buxton.  Here are the two I made:

Dorset Buttons

Dorset Buttons

Dorset buttons were traditionally made in Dorset as a cottage industry, with thousands employed in the craft.   You can find out about Dorset buttons on various websites such as this one: Henrys.   And you can buy the rings from Beakers Buttons

Do you remember the beaded crochet and knit pouches?  Well that was the subject of the second workshop.  Some ladies wanted to knit and some wanted to crochet, but everyone had a go. Of course with all the nattering we didn’t quite finish these beaded pouches, even with 4 days away.

This is the one I made, finished at Buxton except for the lining.

Crochet pouch

Crochet pouch

The lining is purple felt bought from this shop in Buxton.  I am sure they enjoyed our stay, we all purchased at least one item from them!

The third workshop was on sock knitting, toe up two at a time socks (avoiding the second sock syndrome) expertly tutored by Jenny, and Sue was on hand to provide excellent hints and tips and one to one tutoring on sock making

We dipped in and out of workshops as we fancied, nothing was compulsory and everything was flexible.  We had chosen 2 mitts patterns to work on together, although very few of us made much progress with them!!!!  I did start mine….

Snow Mitts

Snow Mitts

Also, we worked on many other projects (I brought a hat and a shawl to work on). Although I don’t think very much was finished.

Buxton has lots of lovely shops, so we visited the town every day for a bite for lunch and a bit of shopping…..did I mention the shops?

On the last evening Nic from Yarns from the Plain  dropped in to see us with her pop up wool shop.   This was like a sweet shop for knitters and crocheters.  Not only were her colours wonderful and the yarn bases soft and squidgy, but the names she gave them were very local, such as Nether Alderley, Chelford and Mobberley.  All of which conjured up images of the Cheshire plains and local sheep.  Of course, I couldn’t resist……

Nether Alderley and Mobberley

Nether Alderley and Mobberley

So – knitting, crochet, shopping, eating, drinking laughing….such a good combination and one which we are sure to mix together again, and likely at the same venue!

Happy knitting and crocheting xxx

 

November is here, already.   Remarkably I published my 11th crochet scarf design of the year last Saturday, the first of November.

Here is Swirling Seas Crochet Scarf, named because the glorious green silk yarn shimmers and the design reminds me of swirling green seas.

Swirling Seas

Swirling Seas

The silk yarn is one of my favourites from Willow Knits.   Anne of Willow Knits has very generously offered a 10% discount on the yarns in her shop on Etsy to anyone who purchases the pattern (details on the pattern).   She doesn’t just dye pure silk yarns, she has some lovely laceweight in silk/alpaca and silk/merino mixes.

And until midnight GMT on 16th November, if you go to Ravelry to buy this pattern you will get 50% off if you use the coupon code NOVEMBER.   Half price pattern from me and 10% off the yarn from Anne – Happy November!

I am delighted and surprised that I have managed to keep up with my personal challenge.  Only one month to go ……………but, although the December design is in my head, it hasn’t quite gone to plan.  The design hasn’t worked with any yarns I have chosen yet – other than the acrylic I swatched with.  Yes, readers I do sometimes swatch with acrylic yarn!  But fear not, I do not plan to make December in acrylic……….(ETA I have nothing against acrylic yarn; these days it is excellent quality and comes in an amazing range of colours, but I do have a preference for natural fibres!)  Yesterday I settled on the yarn and it is silk again, I have a lot of small quantities and will be using 20 colours in this.  I will have to be quick to make it, write the pattern and find a couple of people who will test it for me before December…….wish me luck!

The only thing that will stand in my way is a new design; yet another a challenge.  This time a challenge by Sigrun who is a member of my forum on Ravelry – she asked if I could design a crochet wrap pattern for her 2015 weather project.   It had to be something that could be used with a range of colours that she will use, and she suggested the lovely fine lace yarn that I used for Bohemian Rhapsody.   I do have a few scraps of that yarn left so I did some swatching and designed a motif that I think will work well.  This is now charted and ready for me to start making the sample….and I have been patiently awaiting the yarn.  Yes, it had to be the exact same yarn, and it landed on my doormat yesterday having travelled all the way from France.   I will have great difficulty deciding which of the 2 designs to work on – December or Weather?   I will just have to move between them.

I just managed to finish October instalment of the Kaleidoscope Mystery Blanket Club from the Natural Dye Studio.   Only 2 more instalments to do now, so hopefully I’ll have a new blanket by Christmas.    I have said it many times before, so I am repeating myself……I love this yarn!  The single pure merino is a dream to crochet with.  Here is October (sorry for the photo quality – I finished it at night and photographed inside with a flash).

October

October

I am looking forward to Amanda’s 2015 Blanket Club – Zodiac.   This is available in crochet and knitted versions.  I have an insight on the design and I know I am going to love putting the colours together.  The Zodiac motifs are larger than Kaleidoscope and less than 300 are needed for the blanket, so the project will be quite quick to make.  If you want to join in then you can sign up here.  This is the last blanket club that Amanda will be doing for a while, so sign up now before they sell up!

I’m off now to crochet something…….now do I choose December or Weather?

Happy crocheting xxxxxx

 

Autumn is here. Yesterday we had the first real storm of the season with very strong winds, rain and hail. The leaves were coming off the trees with little resistance. Normally high winds would swirl the leaves into a neat pile by the back door, easy for me to move when the weather permits. We do have a nice little pile there, but this time the leaves also accumulated at the front of the house – all along the front in large piles.

As soon as the weather dries up a little I will be knee deep in leaves (literally) which I hope to tame into a few big tubs and then the compost bin.

With the changing season my habits change.  My cooking changes to winter warmers. This week’s menu will include cottage pie, tuna and pasta bake (the real thing, no packet mixes in this house!) and, my all time winter favourite, beef, Guinness and prune casserole.

Along with these warming meals, for me autumn also means longer evenings of crafting. Over the last 2 evenings I have made a beautiful cowl – a design called Cassia by Amanda Perkins and made in some glorious yarn by The Natural Dye Studio – Phoenix 4ply, colour Tarr Steps. You can find the yarn here: Phoenix.  And in the previous week I have made a small lap blanket in baby merino, a scarf in Willow Knits silk worsted and a cowl in Rowan Cocoon. All this crochet activity is a little more than normal and not just because autumn is here. I am working on a new ebook, but it is still at development stage so this blog post will not include any photos because I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

I hope you are enjoying the autumn and all the goodness it brings.

Happy knitting and crocheting xxx

Having been to Yarndale only a few days ago it was rather indulgent to visit a yarn shop but, when invited to join my yarny friends for a quick trip out to Black Sheep Wools, I could not resist, after all I am a self-confessed yarn addict! And I had visited Ovelha Negra in Oporto very recently – Ovelha Negra means black sheep – so I thought I should try an English one.

It was a fun time, we got lost going there and again coming back (the coming back was probably my fault – sorry Julie!). So when we arrived we were ready for a coffee, and in my case a lovely homemade scone with jam and cream, in the café. Once refreshed it was time to shop.

I didn’t need any more yarn but I can never resist. I had decided to make some slippers using a pattern in the new magazine #crochet which needed 2 balls of Rico Creative Cotton Aran, so I selected the 2 balls. I then found myself in the ‘yarn dive’ area which is full of bargains. I could not resist some Louisa Harding Sari Ribbon on sale at £4.99 per skein – this will be great from some Christmas seasonal makes but is also great for wrapping. Although Ruth did say I looked like a cheer leader holding up this sparkly yarn in both hands!

All those sparkles brighten up my day!

All those sparkles brighten up my day!

Black Sheep is an extensive yarn shop and includes other crafts. There is a good selection of fabrics and, with seasonal makes on my mind, I bought some:

Christmas fabric

Christmas fabric

One thing I didn’t buy at Yarndale was some more of the KnitPro Karbonz knitting needles. I bought a pair on my trip to Blackpool and they have become my favourite needles. I am using them at the moment for the Sunny Sail shawl (using yarn purchased at Yarndale) but I need to transfer to circulars soon. When Julie spotted they had sets for sale I really could not resist at all – so a set of 7 interchangeable needles was also purchased.

This set will help keep me organised

This set will help keep me organised

I enjoyed the trip out and I am sure to visit Black Sheep again, especially as their prices are very good. And the café does lovely cakes and food. Why is it that yarn and cake go so well together?

Happy knitting and crochet xxx

I bought some Rosarios 4 Bijou yarn in Portugal (from Ovelha Negra a wonderful shop). It is super bulky with a varied thickness and absolutely lovely to use. As soon as it was on my hook it flowed! So I wasted no time in making something with it which reminded me of our holiday in Northern Portugal.

Probably the best evening we had was the first night, it was pouring down with rain but we had the most spectacular view of the Luis I Bridge over the River Douro. It is known as the Eiffel Tower of Portugal, and is constructed from lots of grey steel.

The Bijou yarn I bought is a pale grey and as I looked at this photo of the bridge:

Luis I Bridge

Luis I Bridge

my mind started to think – simple steel structure, simple crochet stitches. This cowl is the result:

Luis Cowl

Luis Cowl

Showing the yarn beautifully

Showing the yarn beautifully

The stitch is simple and shows off the yarn beautifully, it is so simple it took only a few hours to make. It is also adaptable, I made it using Bijou but you can make it in any yarn as long as you use the correct hook size and start with a chain which is a multiple of 4.

The pattern is now properly written in English and US terms and is available here on Ravelry:

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/luis-i-cowl

Simple., beautiful and very useful. Thank you Portugal!

Happy crocheting xxxx

Here is the official Yarndale stash photo:

Yarndale stash

Yarndale stash

I had a fabulous day out at Yarndale but I had only recently returned from a holiday in Northern Portugal and my mind was still there.

The holiday was a short river cruise on the Douro followed by a short stay in a Pousada.

Prior to going I asked around on Ravelry to see if anyone could give me ideas of yarn shops to visit during my free time (a few hours on the first day) in Oporto. So I was fore-armed. Unfortunately things don’t always go to plan and my idea of having 3 hours free to wander Oporto on the day we arrived dissolved when we were whisked off for a coach tour of Oporto and a port wine tasting (and I love white port – so I wasn’t too disappointed!). However, the tour included 20 minutes of free time in an area very close to one of my ‘tips’. So I wasted no time in searching out ‘A Vida Portuguesa’. It is a lovely old shop with lots of beautiful items all made in Portugal. Unfortunately my enquiries drew a blank – I was advised they had no yarn.

As the time was ticking away rapidly, I felt quite low, my only possible chance of finding yarn in Portugal had diminished substantially…. or so I thought…. I unexpectedly I found a fabric shop/haberdashery on a street corner so took my chances and jumped in. After an interesting discussion consisting mainly of gesticulation, I was told to go around the corner and across the road (I have no idea how I worked this out as my Portuguese is extremely limited!). By now I had only 2 minutes free time left but I ran across the tramlines and into the shop……which turned out to be a fabric/haberdashery/yarn shop. It took only a quick peruse of the shelves to see there was no Portuguese wool – it was all acrylic. Nevertheless I asked and someone who could speak enough English let me know they didn’t have any local Portuguese yarn.

My first yarn hunt had drawn a blank but I was happily surprised at having found not one but two crafty shops in a small area of Oporto.

Two days later we visited Lamego – a small town famous for the sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies and its long staircase down to the town (685 steps and yes I walked down but I didn’t count them! Thank heavens they didn’t ask me to walk up!!!).

Lamego

Lamego

After the long descent (which reminded me of my last fire drill from the 24th floor of the building I used to work in!), we wandered through the main parts of Lamego and then took a side street and lo and behold I found Casa Das Las on Rua Olaria – yes a yarn shop!!!! After the usual gesticulations (I was getting used to this!) I found some yarn in hanks that was 50% Portuguese wool. I was surprised to find it was sold by weight and priced by the kilo. I chose 2 colours and found they weighed about 240g for a total cost of €9.37.

Lemago yarn

Lemago yarn

Suddenly I felt I had achieved my goal of finding Portuguese yarn.

Two days later we were back in Oporto, but again the timetable had changed and I found we had 1.5 hours free time. Filipa, the hotel/ship manager, had given me a map to find Ovelha Negra, a modern yarn shop in Oporto of which I had read some excellent reviews. I found it easily and found someone who spoke perfect English. She seemed surprised that someone from the UK wanted to visit a Portuguese yarn shop! She helped me find some Rosarios 4 yarn (a Portuguese brand) and I left feeling happy. The shop is very modern and much like many yarn shops we have in the UK

Ovelha Negra

Ovelha Negra

Apologies for the quality of this photo – it was taken on my phone and I made a complete hash of it!

Here is the yarn I bought:

Rosarios 4

Rosarios 4


I was now on a high and decided I would like to revisit A Vida Portuguesa as it was a lovely shop, old and characterful, and full of local Portuguese goods. I ascended the beautiful old wooden staircase and just at the top I found some lovely yarn! Just a few skeins in a basket but this was clearly handcrafted and gorgeous! So my second yarn purchase of the day – and only 8 euros!

Restosaria Beiroa

Restosaria Beiroa

The next day we visited Braga – a larger town. Again we had some free time ….did I tell you about the fantabulous pastries in Portugal? Well I went in search of one of the pastry shops, which are everywhere, and lo and behold almost next door to the first pastry shop I found was a wool shop, no signage but plenty of wool (on Rua de S Marcos). Again the language barrier was overcome with gesticulation and a clear love of La (wool) and I was shown a section of hanks of 100% wool. I chose a hank and this was weighed and priced as before.

Pure Portuguese wool

Pure Portuguese wool

You can imagine how happy I was by now – 4 yarn purchases in a few days!!!!

Our last trip was to Guimaraes, a UNESCO world heritage site with a beautifully preserved medieval centre. It has lots of characterful buildings, restaurants and shops….and very strangely I found 2 yarn shops, much the same as the ones in Lamego and Braga. I was extremely restrained and decided not to buy any more yarn, maybe the size of my suitcase helped in this decision!

But I thoroughly enjoyed finding yet more yarn shops and I also spotted some small handcrafted crochet shops, primarily baby clothes but definitely hand made.

Finally, I fell in love with Guimaraes embroidery – which I found everywhere. Traditionally in black, red, blue or cream on cream linen. The best shop I found was a co-operative and I was tempted to purchase a lovely embroidered pouch bag – I love how the drawstring is crocheted!

017

And this was small and flat, so fitted easily in the suitcase!

So Northern Portugal has been very rewarding for a yarn addict. It is clear that there are more plentiful yarn shops than in the UK (much more plentiful). I just hope it stays that way.

And I must thank my husband, he was very patient as I searched out all the yarnie goodness in Northern Portugal and I love him to bits!

Happy knitting and crocheting xxxx

PS I didn’t mention it but the prices of everything are excellent, I can’t recall ever buying a bottle of beer (Super Bock) for only 70p!!! Visit Northern Portugal now, before it gets too commercial.

PPS I have been working with some of the Rosarios 4 yarn and there is a cowl pattern almost ready to publish…. a fabulous reminder of my yarn adventure in Northern Portugal!

Today is International Crochet Day, what are you crocheting?

If you have nothing on your hooks then you may wish to join in the 2 CALs on my Ravelry forum (with prizes!) – the August Crochet Scarf:

August Crochet Scarf

August Crochet Scarf

and The Hexagon Project 2014:

The Hexagon Project 2014

The Hexagon Project 2014

Both patterns are available at 50% off their normal price today only (until midnight GMT) on Ravelry if you use coupon code ICD2014 here:

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/august-crochet-scarf-mcal

and here:

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/the-hexagon-project-2014

Happy International Crochet Day xx

Perhaps I shouldn’t post this. The subject is something that is (or maybe now, was) destined as a Christmas present. A beaded crochet pouch that I designed, lined with felt and is now perfect for keeping jewellery safe, clean and comforted. It was fun to make.
Here it is:

Beaded crochet pouch

Beaded crochet pouch

And then someone suggested maybe we should have a beaded knitting workshop at the knitaway we are planning in Buxton. So I thought, how about doing knitting and crochet? What if I designed a beaded knit pouch that would be similar to the crochet one and then I could host a dual workshop – beaded pouch for knitters and crocheters?
I am craftidextrous – I love doing both crochet and knitting, although I confess crochet is my favourite (slightly).

So a spare afternoon yielded this:

Beaded knitted pouch

Beaded knitted pouch

What do you think?

Are they similar? Would you like to make them? Or one of them?

Togetherness....heaven

Togetherness….heaven

To me this was a personal challenge, and it feels fantabulous to have completed it! I think, at least on my own personal level, that I have proved crochet and knitting are both brilliant and can produce similar beautiful results. What do you think?

This is one topic where I am aching to hear your views.

Happy craftidextrous crafting xxxxx

Simply Made Kitchen and Crafts

Wholesome family living, simple recipes and crafts

The Crafty Coup

Finally, you're here! Let's make something!

Loz's Little Crochets

A little place for all My things Crochet

Colouring With Yarn

... relaxing with hooks and yarn ...

LucyAnn &Luna craft

crafting,dachshunds including other bits & bobs

craftfulness

Feeling good!

Random Musings Of A Hotel Goddess

well behaved women rarely make history

The Accidental Designer

Tracey Todhunter

Knitwear Designer

yarnandpointysticks

knitting and other things

All Night Knits

Sleep All Day. Knit All Night.

Oddments

Crochet & Knitting Oddments

Happy Clappy Crochet

Celebrating Crochet with a Positive Spin

Knit and Purl Garden

Adventures in knitting, crochet and creativity

Did You Make That?

A sewing, knitting and crochet blog

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 91 other followers