CALs aplenty

Now that autumn is here, yarn crafters are busying their hooks and needles.  For me this means also that my CAL (crochet along) plans are in full swing.   I plan to run 2, possibly 3, CALs over the cooler months.  The first will be the Advent CAL, or for this year the pre-Advent CAL.

My first Advent CAL was in 2016 when I designed 12 hanging decorations for Christmas.  The second was in 2017 when I designed a snow inspired table runner.  Last year I was very ambitious and designed the 12 Gifts of Christmas!  Here’s a reminder of some of the items in previous Advent CALs.

This year I’ve scaled down a little and there will be 3 designs in the (pre) Advent CAL – all are suitable for decorations and some are addictive!

The designs will be released the week before Advent – the first on Saturday 23rd November, the second on Monday 25th November and the last on Wednesday 27th November.   As well as individual patterns, which will be available to purchase on Ravelry and LoveCrafts, the 3 designs will be added to an ebook on Ravelry and for one day only the ebook will be on sale at a bargain £1.

More details will be posted in my Ravelry group here.

I also like to do a mandala CAL over the festive season –  working one or two rounds of the mandala each day.  The new mandala is in my head right now, soon to be moved to the hook!

Finally, I have started my blanket CAL for early 2020.  This will be made from hexagon motifs.  The motifs are designed, the yarn and colours chosen and the blanket is part made.  It will take me a month or two to finish the blanket, so I will not have any sneak peeks for a while, but to whet your appetite here is what I have chosen:

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This is 4ply yarn but for those of you who prefer to hook a thicker yarn I will also make a few motifs in DK and give estimates of DK quantities .

There are 2 more CALs that I am working on, but those are secret for now 🙂

Happy crocheting xxx

 

Yarndale 2019

This weekend is the annual Yarndale festival in Skipton and once again I was fortunate to visit yesterday (the first day).  This is all thanks to the hard work of my friend and fellow yarn addict Jenny who organised a coach trip again!  Travelling by coach is the best way to visit, the coaches park close to the venue which is very convenient and of course there is plenty of time to discuss plans and share ideas on which stalls to visit with fellow travellers.   Normally the view from the coach is great but this year we travelled there and back through some very heavy rain; I was so thankful I wasn’t driving.   However, whilst we were at Yarndale the rain stayed away, so when we went into Skipton for lunch we stayed nice and dry.

Yarndale never fails to disappoint, there are so many different yarn artisans selling their wares and not all of them yarn related.  There are lots of displays of beautifully made items and so much inspiration that the possibilities are mindblowing.  I always come home with inspiration overload!

The 2019 community project was displayed in the Yarndale Hub, this year it was bears for Mercy Ships – so many bears!

The bunting from the first Yarndale was beautifully displayed as well as some of the previous community projects.  Yes, I managed to find one of my butterflies from last year:

There were several pens of the animals which provide our yarn and they all seemed  remarkably well natured and happy, despite the crowds.   There was a lovely smiling alpaca near the Lairage – look closely and you will see some mandalas behind him!

Of course there was an abundance of beautiful yarn

Those yarn experts amongst you will notice the photos above are of Triskelion Yarn, one of my favourites.  This year Triskelion Yarn has started producing beautiful soap as well, shhhhh………don’t tell too many people as I want to ensure I have a regular supply!

And here is the obligatory photo of my shopping:

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My stash management programme ensured I did not overstock on yarn, and I’m quite proud that I managed to keep this yarn haul low.  I did buy some tools, patterns and other notions. As well as the beautiful Triskelion soap, I found 2 other new products that I will return to.

The first is Irish Artisan Yarn; Tara produces the most beautiful subtle colours of yarn inspired by Irish Landscapes.  I was so taken with the colours that it was hard to choose, but a set of mini skeins in my favourite blue was the most tempting.   Tara also does an Advent Collection of 25 x 20g mini skeins, which is extremely tempting and has inspired me to think differently about my annual blanket CAL.

The second is Lyn Roberts Design; Lyn produces yarn tools and notions in sterling silver. For a lover of sparkly jewellery, the thought of yarn notions in sterling silver was far too tempting so the black box above holds a precious crochet hook.   I tried one on the stand and the weight and balance was perfect for me.  Only the best yarns will be hooked by this one!

So for me it was a great show.  The only problem is…..it’s a year to the next Yarndale!

Happy crocheting xx

 

 

 

 

Willowberry Shawlette

I love luxury yarn, especially silk yarn, and I am lucky to be able to work with Anne at Willow Knits who hand dyes silk yarn in luscious colours.   I’ve done several crochet designs in her yarn yet only one knit design (Bilateral Mitts which also included crochet!).  A few months ago Anne asked if I could adapt one of my knitted shawl designs to her yarn and see if I could make it into a smaller one-skein shawlette.  We agreed a variation of Bilberry Shawl would be a good choice.  So I put my thinking cap on and pulled out the old spreadsheet; a few tweaks later and my suggested adaptation was winging its way to Anne.  The result is Willowberry Shawlette

Anne knitted this in Willow Knits Hand Dyed Silk Worsted yarn and used almost all of one skein.  The colour is called ‘Foliage’ and I love it!

Willowberry is available on Ravelry but is also available at shows that Willow Knits attends, at half price with the purchase of one skein of yarn.

The next show is Southern Wool Show at Newbury this coming weekend (31st August and 1st September), where you will be able to see Willowberry ‘in the yarn’ on the Willow Knits stand!  Anne will also have a selection of other kits and patterns from our collaborations, along with her gorgeous yarn.

Other shows you will find Willow Knits at this year are Hitchin Festiwool on 9th November and St Albans’ farmers markets on 8th September, 13th October, 10th November and 8th December.

Happy knitting xxx

 

 

Stashaway CAL

Today’s the day!  Stashaway has been published on Ravelry here.

As promised the written pattern is below, so you don’t have to purchase the pattern to join the CAL (although if you want to support my work it costs only £1).  It can be made in any yarn but  I used 4ply which gives a lovely drape.  So far I have made 2 – one using some precious stash from Triskelion and Nimu in blues and greens and the other using some Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock in yellow through to red.  The sizes varied because I used less yarn in the Sweet Georgia – 480m rather than almost 600m.  Here they both are:

The blue/green version was the most fun because I played with stripes and that is what will make the CAL fun – I can’t wait to see what colours and stripes you all choose! It came out at about 180cm by 35cm (71″ by 14″).  The yellow to red version was made by using all the colours in order, forming 5 broad stripes.  It came out at 157cm by 33cm (62″ by 13″).

My CAL will use this yarn:

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Yes, I couldn’t resist doing a few rows this morning!   I haven’t decided on my stripes fully but I will use one full skein of the lavender (that’s 50g) before starting the stripes, so I have a while before deciding.

I guess I’ve whetted your appetite enough and you want the pattern now!   Ok, here it is:

Abbreviations (UK)

st(s) – stitch(es)

ch – chain

htr – half treble (half double crochet in US terms)

Yes only 2 stitches!

Instructions

Row 1: 3ch (counts as 1ch, 1htr), 1htr in 3rd ch from hook, turn [2sts]

Row 2: 2ch (counts as 1htr), 1htr in st at base of 2ch, 1htr in top of 2ch, turn [3sts]

Row 3: 1ch (does not count as st), miss 1st st, 1htr in next st, 2htr in next (last) st, turn [3sts]

Row 4: 2ch (counts as 1htr), 1htr in st at base of 2ch, 1htr in each st to end, turn [4sts]

Row 5: 1ch (does not count as st), miss 1st st, 1htr in next and each to last st, 2htr in last st, turn [4sts]

Row 6: 2ch (counts as 1htr), 1htr in st at base of 2ch, 1htr in each st to end, turn [5sts]

Rows 5 and 6 form the pattern and are repeated until your shawl is the desired size.

Use a hook size slightly larger than you would use for the yarn weight – for example try 3.5mm with 4ply/fingering/sock yarn or 4.5mm for DK yarn.

Just keep changing the stripes of yarn as you go, and keep sharing photos on Facebook and Ravelry.

On your hooks……go!

Happy crocheting xx

NOTE: pattern and photographs ©Valerie Bracegirdle 2019

 

Stashing down and away

If you are a regular reader of this blog you will know that I have been working hard to ‘control’ my stash of precious yarn.  I was inspired by Lynne Rowe’s Use it or Lose it campaign last year which encouraged me to review my shelves and cupboards and develop a strategy to use the yarn stash I had collected.  I now feel I have my stash under control.  It is still a good-sized precious collection of yummy yarn, from vintage Natural Dye Studio to Triskelion Yarn, and the majority are completely natural fibres as I have also been working on reducing plastic in my life (and plastic means acrylic and nylon yarn as well).   But it all fits in one trunk!

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OK, it’s a deep trunk (and messy!) and finding what I need involves a lot of digging, but that is a pleasure.

One of the ways I have been working on reducing the stash is by keeping a clear record of what I have, so when I want to make something I can refer to the record and I’m not afraid to change my plans if I find I don’t have quite the right yarn in my stash.   My record is a spreadsheet and it shows me brand, name of yarn, weight of yarn (DK, 4ply, lace etc), weight of skeins/balls, length of skeins/balls (in metres) and colour.  When I first started this spreadsheet (June last year) I had 154 skeins/balls of yarn; I now have 97.  You may think that means I have used 57, but I have treated myself to new yarn on occasion, so more than 57 have been ‘consumed’.  But I have an aim to get down to 80 or less by the end of the year, so if I am to allow myself the odd new purchase then I do need to find inspiring designs to help me use it.    And, of course, new designs includes designs of my own – and I have one that is almost ready to publish.

Stashaway is a lovely easy shawl that I find works up very quickly.  It is an asymmetrical triangle shape.  I designed it in 4ply yarn, but it can be made in any weight.  I also designed it to use a variety of colours, in fact I had 3 half skeins of my favourite colours in mind.  I enjoyed making it so much that I made 2, and I have a 3rd ready to start.  The joy of this design is that it can be made in one colour, or 2 or more colours in a variety of stripes.  It’s a solid design, no lace required, and after the first few rows it becomes easy to remember the 2 row repeat.  My first shawl used 3 colours in varying widths of stripes and the colours repeated throughout (I enjoyed stopping to decide when and which colour to use next); my second shawl used a set of 5 mini skeins which I used in order and just changed once each skein ran out.  My third one will be different again!  I’m using this:

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This is Artesano yarn from ‘deep’ stash – 2x50g skeins of Alpaca Silk 4ply in Violet Blue and 1x50g skein of Alpaca Blend 4ply in Lemon Grove, in total 600m.

To encourage others to keep using their stash I decided to publish the basic pattern free here on the blog, with a paid pattern including a chart on Ravelry and LoveCrafts.  And then I thought: why have a ‘use it or lose it’?   So are you up for it?  Would you like to join me in a CAL?

I will publish the pattern in a week, meanwhile if you want to join me in a CAL then you need to start searching your stash – look for at least 150g of ANY weight of yarn (just as long as it is all the same weight).  As a guide, approx 150g/600m of 4ply/sock/fingering yarn will make a shawl about 180cm long by 35cm at the widest part (that’s 71″ by 14″).

The CAL will be hosted in my Ravely group and photos can be shared there or on my facebook page.

I’m looking forward to this CAL, I do hope you join in ……….you may find this shawl a bit addictive like I have!

Happy crocheting xx

Playing with beads

Tomorrow is the monthly Crochet Club and the topic is crocheted jewellery.  For me crocheted jewellery normally means adding beads, and that is one of the things we will do tomorrow.

Usually, I think about the topic for a week or so beforehand, so I’ve had crochet and beads on my mind for a while.  I remembered the last time we played with beads at Crochet Club was 2 years ago when we made some pretty little crochet pots.  Aren’t these cute?

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They are small – ranging from 4cm to 8cm across and from 4cm to 6cm high – and are perfect for storing little bits n bobs on the dressing table.  I used some leftover Scheepjes Catona cotton yarn in shades of blue and green, and some lovely beads to make them sparkle.   The smallest pot is similar to the one I published here on the blog 5 years ago.

These aren’t on the agenda for tomorrow but I looked them up anyway and was astonished to find the pattern written and tested but never published!   So I have rectified this.  Beaded pots is now available on Ravelry and until the end of this month (midnight GMT 31st July) available at half price.

Are you planning on bringing some crochet sparkle into your life?

Happy crocheting xxx

Breaking silence……

There’s been a lull – yes, quite a lull. I haven’t blogged for over a month.  But today the silence is over.

The truth is that I lost my cro-jo for a while but I don’t think I was alone in this.  Maybe there’s been a crochet lull around the world because some of my friends say they have lost their cro-jo and I’ve just read an article about a designer who also lost their cro-jo for a few months. With me, though, I think I managed to wipe myself out in March.  I was still running the annual blanket CAL and made a very late decision to run 4 mini CALs to celebrate International Crochet Month.  I love CALs but running so many in such a short space of time was ambitious.

During the last month I have settled into making a few items from other designers’ patterns, which has meant my crafting is relaxed and easy.  I’ve had 2 shawl designs languishing on the hook for some time, not too far from being finished, but to finish them seemed like hard work so I left them languishing.  But something has just clicked – I’ve started some garden bunting using jute twine…….

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Those colours are gorgeous aren’t  they?  This bunting uses the pattern for Yarndale Brooches but using Nutscene jute twine.  On a 5mm hook one mini spool makes just one (actually it varies and I did have to adjust the number of sts on the last round of one of the flags). This will brighten up the garden in summer.  And when the summer is over, if the bunting is weathered and worn out, it will go on the compost heap.

Also I have just designed a third shawl which is now on my hook and starting to race along. I’m calling it One Es Es because it is a one skein shawlette. We all have some lovely single skeins in our stash (some of us have a lot – that’s another story!) so a single skein shawl is a great way to use them.

I am hopeful that there will be 3 shawl designs released in the next few months. Sneak peeks will come soon 😊

Happy crocheting xxx

March is almost over…..

As March comes to an end, so does International Crochet Month.

Thank you to all who have joined in the mini CALs I designed to celebrate the month of crochet.  I can now reveal that Mini CAL 4 was………

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A potholder!

There are still a couple of days left in March and, of course, we don’t stop crocheting when March comes to an end.  So for a final celebration I have decided to run a flash sale.

Until midnight GMT on 31st March 2019, all my patterns on Ravelry (and that includes the knitting ones!) are on sale at 25% off, but you need to use coupon code MARCH on checkout.

Happy crocheting xxx

March Mini CAL 4 – Part 2

Today the last part of the last March Mini CAL is published.   I can’t believe we are almost at the end of March already – I’m going to miss these updates!

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Part 1 of this last CAL produced a lovely colourful item which would make a pretty small doily to match the coasters in Mini CAL 3.  But that is not what I intended for this design….it makes something else altogether!  No spoilers quite yet though…….

The pattern can be found here and the Ravelry group here.

The CAL is not quite over – just a few more stitches to go then I will reveal the item 🙂

Happy crocheting xx