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I’m interrupting my mini blog series on plastic reduction to talk shawls, well only 2 and one is what I call a wrap (not a plastic wrap!).

The first is Queen of May which was published in Inside Crochet issue number 101.

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This is a luxury wrap made with 4 skeins of Willow Knits  hand-dyed worsted weight silk yarn.  The pattern rights returned to me at the end of last month and I published it last week as a single pattern.  You can find it on Ravelry here.  And you will see the wrap at all the yarn festivals that Willow Knits is going to, including Yarndale, and a paper pattern will be available on Willow Knits stand also.

The second is a triangular shawl and I absolutely love it.  It is made in a kidsilk blend yarn which I have been enjoying working with in the heat this summer, it is light and fluffy and worked on a 4mm hook so it is perfectly airy.  This is Pluming Lovely Shawl.

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Why is it called Pluming Lovely?  Well it is made with Willow & Lark Plume, available from LoveCrochet here.  You need just 3 balls of the yarn and you can choose whatever colours you like.   What I love about it is the weight – it weighs under 75g yet is lovely and warm, so is perfect for a holiday as it takes up no space or weight in your luggage!

You can find the pattern on Ravelry or LoveCrochet.

Happy crocheting xxx

PS normal blog series posts will resume shortly!

 

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I would love to eliminate plastic from my life but I know this is impossible.  I have so much plastic in my home and my life already; trying to remove it would just release that plastic into the wider environment.  So what I will do with the plastic I have is use it and re-use it for as long as possible – it is there so using it is better than sending it to be recycled (which often doesn’t happen) or to landfill.

But I can take steps to keep new plastic out of my life and in this, my second, blog post about how yarn craft can help reduce plastic I will show you another small step that I take.  That step is with cloths, be they dishcloths or washcloths.   Microfibre cloths and manmade sponges are used frequently in cleaning; these are plastic based and, worse still, microfibre cloths release small microfibres into our water systems and ultimately into marine environments.  So making my own cotton or linen wash and dish cloths is one of those small steps which can make a difference.  Once they are used, they are  added to the washing which happens on a daily basis, so are sparkling and clean ready for the next use.

I have made dishcloths for a long time, usually out of cotton.  The simplest ones to make are just granny squares but it is more fun to play with stitches and that is what I do frequently.    Below are a selection of some of my cloths

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The one on the right is a well used dishcloth.   It is a sample square for a blanket I designed 5 years ago – so it has been around for a while but wasn’t used as a dishcloth immediately.  Still it has had good use and been in the washing machine umpteen times.

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The other 2 are shown again above.  On the left is one I made a few evenings ago – I just doodled with my hook and out came a pretty washcloth.  I haven’t written the pattern up, maybe I will soon.   On the right is an old washcloth pattern from 6 years ago – used in a workshop.   I had forgotten about this until I started thinking about this blog post.  The pattern was written 6 years ago, so I decided to release it and remake the washcloth in 2 colours.  It’s a sampler washcloth worked in rows. The lovely thing about a sampler washcloth is that it is a fabulous way to practice your stitches and if it turns out beautiful then it would make a lovely present – so win, win!  But if it turns out a little less than perfect it is still very useful as a dishcloth for yourself – so still win, win!.

You can find the pattern here.  And if you want to take a small step to reduce plastic use, then you can get the pattern free if you use coupon code PLASTIC when purchasing – this is available until midnight GMT on Sunday 5th August 2018.

Until I share my next little step…….

Happy crocheting xxx

Having worked through all my stash over the last few months during my Use it or Lose it campaign inspired by Lynne Rowe, I now know just what I have in my stash and I know that less than 10% of my yarn stash has any man made content. Actually I have 9 skeins only and I am pretty pleased with this because I am also trying to eliminate plastic use in general.   So, knowing how little I now have in my stash, I think I have my plastic use in yarn under control – if not yet quite out of my life.  I plan to stop using any of this once this small stash of acrylic and nylon blends is extinguished. I can hear some sock knitters shouting that socks need nylon! But they don’t; there are some pretty tough hardwearing natural fibres out there such as this from Triskelion Yarns.

There are other ways I can use my yarn craft to help reduce plastic use in my life and waste in general. So today I am starting a series of blog posts about how I use yarn craft to do this – maybe it will help you too.

Remember this blog post when I showed some dishcloths and a few cosmetic pads that I made from cotton DK.  I am pretty proud of the fact that I haven’t bought any cosmetic  pads for over 8  years – I have likely saved almost 100 packets of cotton wool pads – that’s a lot of landfill and a lot of plastic packaging.

If you have cotton yarn and a hook – then it’s pretty easy and quick to make these and think of the difference this can make. The thing I love about these is whenever I have a little bit of dk cotton yarn left over I can just make one or 2 of these – so it’s using those bits of yarn that are so small they may end up in the bin.  That’s exactly what I did this week when I used up some cotton yarn remnants.

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The pattern is free and is available on Ravelry here, and it is available also on LoveCrochet and Craftsy.    I checked this morning and I have had thousands of downloads of this free pattern over the years.  And it made me think – just how much landfill and how much plastic has been saved by this little pattern?   So I did some estimating and, if only 1% of the people who downloaded the free pattern used it the same way as me, then I estimate it has saved at least 5000 packets of cotton wool pads – that’s amazing!   If everyone who downloaded it had done the same then that’s half a million!!!!! So my final estimate is somewhere between 5000 and half a million – not very accurate, but pretty inspiring whatever the number.

Just one little pattern has probably made quite a big difference, so if we all tried to do our bit to save waste and not use plastic think what we could achieve!

Happy crocheting xxxx

As promised in yesterday’s blog, here is the pattern for the little flower which I am calling Plume Flower.

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Materials
Kidsilk blend yarn in colours of your choice, see yesterday’s blog for details of what I used
4mm (US G/6) crochet hook
Yarn needle

Abbreviations
This pattern is written in UK crochet terms
St(s) – stitch(es)
Ch – chain
Ss – slip stitch
Dc – double crochet
Tr – treble
Dtr – double treble

Instructions
The flower is made in 4 parts which are sewn together.

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Centre petal
Start with a magic ring, but keep a tail of at least 15cm
Round 1: (2ch, 3tr in ring, 2ch, ss in ring) 5 times, pull ring tight, break yarn and fasten off.
Sew in your end but keep starting tail as you will need that later for assembling the flower.

Middle petal
Start with a magic ring
Round 1: (3ch, 3dtr in ring, 3ch, ss in ring) 5 times, pull ring tight, break yarn and fasten off.
Sew in your ends.

Outer petal
Foundation: 4ch and join into a ring with a ss
Round 1: 3ch (counts as 1tr), 14tr in ring, ss to 3rd ch from start [15tr]
Round 2: *3ch, 3dtr in each of next 2 sts, 3ch, ss in next st; repeat from * to end of round, break yarn and fasten off.
Sew in your ends.

Leaf
Foundation: 8ch
Row 1: 1dc in 2nd ch from hook and in each ch along [7dc]
Turn to work along the underside of your foundation ch
Round 2: *1ch (does not count as st), 1dc in first st, 1htr in next st, 2tr in next st, 3dtr in next st, 2tr in next st, 1htr in next st, 1dc in last st; turn to work back along top of Row 1 and repeat from * once, finish with a ss to the first dc, break yarn and fasten off.
Sew in your ends.

Assembly
Place all your pieces on top of each other, move then around until you are happy with their location.

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Using the long tail from the centre petal, sew all the pieces together. And you now have a little flower!

Happy crocheting xxx

Please note:  pattern and photographs are copyright © Valerie Bracegirdle

We’re having a heatwave here in the UK and that makes crochet and knitting sticky and tricky.  Some people recommend cotton yarns as best for hot weather crochet/knitting but I have found that kidsilk type yarns are easy to use in the heat and I have been using up lots of my long acquired and much loved kidsilk type stash.  I have crocheted over 1000m of this type of yarn in the last 6 weeks (yes, that’s over a kilometre!) and I think it really is perfect for hot weather.  I ran a quick CAL using it a few weeks ago and I have 2 new designs using it which are almost ready for publishing 😉   

So I was overjoyed that the lovely people at LoveCrochet asked me to review some yarn in their sale – Willow & Lark Plume, a kidsilk type yarn!

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So what is kidsilk type yarn?  Well it is made from a combination of silk and kid mohair.   I discovered it many years ago when Rowan seemed to be the only supplier of this type of yarn, but there are many more now.  Typically, it is laceweight yarn and comes in 25g balls of around 200m of yarn.   It has a lot of fluff (from the mohair) and is very lightweight.   The weight of it is one of the main reasons it is good for hot weather working – it isn’t heavy on your hands as you work it or on your knee as it grows.   If your hands are a bit damp it actually helps the use  because it dampens the fluffy fibres a bit.  This also makes it a little easier to frog if you make a mistake.

Willow & Lark Plume is described as ‘Barely there silk mohair’ on the label and I think that’s pretty accurate!   It is 70% super kid mohair and 30% mulberry silk and has 210m in the 25g ball.    It comes in  26 shades – the colours above are Poppy, Marmalade and Toffee.  And the best bit – it’s in the BIG SALE over at LoveCrochet/LoveKnitting at only £6.36 per ball! I’ve been playing with Plume quite a bit and I think there may be a new design in the making:

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Designing for me means doodling with the yarn, and frogging a fair bit, so I have tried several stitches and frogged (actually frogged A LOT).  I have found it is similar to Rowan Kidsilk Haze and Debbie Bliss Angel, but I think it is slightly softer and I haven’t had any issues with frogging which has proved very easy.  It is so similar that it would be easy to mix and match these yarns in one project if you like, which extends the potential range of colours in a project.  I tried that in this simple little flower

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The centre of the flower and the leaf are in Rowan Kidsilk Haze (colours Liquer and Jelly) and the other 2 petals are in Willow & Lark Plume (Poppy and Marmalade).  I think they work well together and you can’t tell any difference in the yarns.

I have 2 key tips for using this yarn, especially when crocheting.  The first is: you should check each row/round as you complete it because sometimes you can hook a bit of the fluff rather than the core yarn, and it is best to spot this early.  The second is: if you do need to frog pull the yarn gently and if the fluffy fibres have stuck use your hook or needle to gently break the fluffy join.

Which do I prefer?  That’s a difficult one to answer because they are so similar, but I think the Plume softness had the edge which just makes for slightly more comfort when hooking.

Would you like the pattern for my little flower?  I’ll pop that in my next post.  Meanwhile why not spoil yourself in the BIG SALE?

Happy crocheting xxx

I love stitch markers, I have A LOT but I can use only a few at a time.   BUT I LOVE THEM!   So I was overjoyed to find this free gift in Inside Crochet issue 103

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But what should I do with them?  The tropical fruit gave me an idea and I reached out some other lovelies which were recent Inside Crochet free gifts:

This is what I made:

Perfect for the GnT in this hot, hot weather in the UK, and for keeping those flies off!

If you would like the pattern, just message here and I’ll  publish it 🙂

Cheers!

Happy Crocheting (hic!) xxxx

 

It is just after noon on 1st July 2018 – and that means Twits Shawl is now published on Ravelry here.

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During the whole of this month £2 from the sale of this pattern will go to The Christie

But Twits Shawl isn’t the only product launched at noon today – over 250 other dyers, designers and makers are launching their products as part of Countess Ablaze’s Tits Out Collective – a positive response to plagiarism that will benefit so many charities.  This has been an exciting fortnight for everyone involved!  Please pop over to her page and discover what treats are available, support the initiative and raise some funds for great causes!

I’m off there right now!  But before I go I want to give special thanks to Deb Bramham for tech editing the pattern so quickly, and to Kate and Vicky who jumped in and tested in such a short space of time – without them this design wouldn’t be part of the initiative.

Happy crocheting xxx

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If you follow the wonderful indie dyer Countess Ablaze, then you will know all about her initiative called Tits Out Collective, if not have a read here.

As soon as I read about this I knew I had to join in, because I hate plagiarism and copying of any sort.  I also know how difficult it is for people to earn a living in the world of yarn, be they designers, dyers or the myriad of other workers, which makes plagiarism by anyone in this field doubly criminal.    If you know how hard it is for others, why steal from them?  Well some do – and rather than get angry it’s an excellent idea to do something positive!  So I am in!  Here is my rapidly designed crochet shawl:

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This really is a rapid design and I am amazed at how I managed it!  I read about the Tits Out Collective on 19th June, and I designed the shawl within 2 days, drafted the pattern then made my sample by the end of 24th June – 5 days!   It has gone to test, one tester is already finished.  And the pattern is now with my tech editor.  Hopefully everything is in place so I can launch this at noon (UK time) on 1st July.  And I am not the only designer involved, in fact there are over 250 dyers and designers involved in this so far – the excitement is amazing!

A bit more about the design:  It is an asymmetrical triangular crochet shawl where you start at one point and work across until you run out of yarn.  The edge is inbuilt, so once you do the final row you are finished.  I find these sort of designs great for using all your yarn.  I called it Twits Shawl because it can be made from two skeins of 4ply yarn – so if you buy 2 different skeins of Tits yarn colourways from 2 different dyers you could use them both in the shawl – TWo skeins of tITS yarn – get it?

Actually this can be made in any yarn weight, provided you use a suitable hook.  I didn’t have any the original colourway for my sample so I used some 50g skeins of vintage NDS yarn (Godiva Silk 4ply) in colours that are vaguely similar.  I started with a variegated skein then added varying stripes of solids.   I used a 3.5mm hook and just over 200g in total which made a large shawl – it’s over 200cm long;  2 skeins of 4ply should make a shawl approx. 200cm long by 60cm deep.

Finally, but most importantly, during the month of July I will donate £2 from the sale of each pattern of Twits Shawl to The Christie, my chosen charity.  The pattern will cost £3.50 and be available from Ravelry only during July, as this makes it easier for me to control launch and check sales, after July I’ll upload to other channels.  It has a chart and will be available in UK and US crochet terms.

If you want to buy some of the yarn from dyers, then be poised over your keypad/board at noon on Sunday as I predict it will sell quickly – I’ll be poised as well 🙂

Until launch…..happy crocheting xxx

#titsoutcollective

Like many people I am constantly  looking for ways of reducing plastic in my life.  For knitting and crochet that means avoiding yarns with acrylic and nylon in them as much as possible and looking for embellishments that aren’t plastic.   When it comes to buttons there are some alternatives to plastic such as wood, metal and shell, and I particularly like shell buttons.  But I like beautifully crafted things as well, and wood, metal and shell buttons seem very limited in style.

Two years ago I had the pleasure to meet Robert Mack, a gentleman who makes the most beautiful fine bone china buttons.   These are a fabulous alternative to plastic and are very practical; if you think they are delicate then you may be surprised to learn they can be washed in the machine!   Last week Robert’s daughter Jocelyn contacted me to let me know she has joined the family business and is re-launching under the name Whim Wham Buttons.   These buttons are so beautiful aren’t they?

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There is a new Etsy shop. This is stocked currently with the range of 6 different flower buttons in a variety of colours – all 6 styles are in the photo above, from tiny little Rosie buttons at a little over 1cm across (these would be fabulous on baby clothes) to the larger Eva buttons at over 3cm across (I think I’ll put one of these on the next phone case I crochet which will be in silk yarn).

All of these can be used in the traditional way, as buttons, but also make beautiful embellishments.

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They work well in knitting and crochet, and in sewing.  I’m so pleased because I’ve just got my sewing mojo back!

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What is a bonus is that they are very affordable, it will not break the bank to have beautiful handcrafted fine bone china buttons but it will enhance your own beautifully crafted knitwear and sewing.  When I’ve spent hours, or even days, making something I’d much rather embellish it with these than with the alternatives!

As the re-launch progresses there will be more items added to the Whim Wham Buttons shop, and I’m signing up for their newsletter so I find out quickly when something new is happening.  I predict they will be very popular so jump in now and buy an heirloom or several, and sign up for the newsletter too!

Whim Wham Buttons can also be found on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Thank you Jocelyn for letting me know about this re-launch, it made my week!

Happy knitting and crocheting xxx

All photos in this blog post were supplied by and ©whimwhambuttons

This is the second and final week of the Cloud CAL.   Here’s a recap of part 1.

The first stage of this part is to finish the end with a beaded edge.

Beading with crochet can be done several ways, one way is to thread the beads onto the yarn and then keep pushing them down the yarn as you work, bringing them up to the hook when needed.  This design has beads only at the very ends of the scarf, so I thought it much better to just add them when needed, because I would have found it a bit of a faff to keep pushing beads down the yarn for so long so I am sure you would too!

The beaded edge is simple – a set of 6 loops with 5 beads on each.  You could make these loops longer if you like, but I found 5 beads sufficient.  If you don’t want to use beads then you can miss out some of the work – maybe just do a picot instead of the 5 beaded sts.

Are you ready?  Well here we go:

Beaded row: 1ch (does not count as a st), 1dc in st at base of ch, 1dc in next tr, 1dc in next 1ch-sp….now the fun bit, we are going to do 5 ch with beads on them, as follows:

Slip a few beads on the small crochet hook:

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Now remove the working hook from the loop, place the small hook on the loop and slide one bead down over the hook and onto the loop, remove the small hook and replace the working hook on the loop, make 1ch.  You have trapped one bead in the ch.  These photos show the technique:

Now repeat this process, removing the working hook, placing a bead on the loop and then completing the ch.

Do this until you have 5 beads trapped on the ch loop.

*Now work 1dc in the same 1ch-sp as the last dc, 1dc in each of next 2 tr, 1dc in the next 1ch-sp.

And repeat the 5 ch of beads.

Repeat from * until you have 6 loops of beads, then end with 1dc in last 1ch-sp and 1dc in the last st.  Break yarn and fasten off.

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You now have half a scarf!

To make the second half, re-join the yarn to the underside of your original starting ch (this is now the centre of the scarf), and then complete the second half to be identical to the first half.

Set up row: (this is basically the same as Row 2 from the first part) 2ch, (1tr, 1ch, 1tr) in first 1ch-sp, (1tr, 1ch, 1tr) in each of next four 1ch-sps,  in the last 1ch-sp you do something slightly different: (1tr, 1ch, tr2tog placing first part in 1ch-sp and last part in last st on the Row), turn.

The first 2ch and 1tr together count as a tr2tog – so you start and end the row with a tr2tog which helps give a firm edge.

Next row: 2ch, *(1tr, 1ch, 1tr) in 1ch-sp; repeat from * to last 1ch-sp, in this last 1ch-sp you do something slightly different: (1tr, 1ch) in last 1ch-sp, now tr2tog placing first part in last 1ch-sp and second part in last st on the Row, turn.  This is the pattern row and is repeated until the second half of the scarf is the same length as the first half, and then finish with the same beaded edge described above.  And voila!  You have a skinny summer scarf, light as a feather!

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If you have any questions please ask on Ravelry or Facebook, and please share photos 🙂

I am working on my second scarf and hope to finish this weekend.  So I will share a photo when it is done, until then Happy Crocheting!  xxx

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