In my last blog post I mentioned I had been busy and I promised to tell you about what has been keeping me busy – my book.

I started designing over 6 years ago, and some of you will know I have accumulated quite a portfolio of crochet and knitting designs (a quick look on Ravelry tells me it is over 180!). I have also published a few collections of designs in ebooks, and I have featured in print in several magazines but I have never published a printed book of my designs.   I decided 2017 is the year I should do this and in January I set about it.  The decision was a bit scary – will anyone like my designs enough to buy a book?  Well, I don’t know the answer to that but I felt so driven that after much deliberating I thought I’d take the risk.

So the last 7 months have been a whirlwind of designing, writing patterns and crocheting.  And I’ve had a whole army of people testing the patterns for me!

The book is called Cowling Around and is a collection of 9 crochet cowl designs.   You see I love cowls and to me it was natural that my first printed book will be a collection of them.

Today was a very big day for the book – we had the photoshoot!   I can’t share any photos with you yet, as it will be a while before I see them myself but I will share one photo I took of the ‘stage’ – it may not look exciting but it was perfect for capturing the right photos.   I learnt a lot from Laurie the photographer, not least about light – I knew light is super important but getting that right is difficult unless you know how!

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There will be a lot of people to thank when I publish but for today I’d like to give HUGE thanks to Laurie, Vicky, Julie, Louise and Jenny – what a team!

There is a LOT more work to do before the book is printed but I will start to share some more snippets soon. Meanwhile, maybe a few of my recent crochet cowl designs will tempt you!

Happy crocheting xxxxx

 

Sorry I’ve been so quiet recently.  I was very busy in early summer – putting the finishing touches on some new designs for a book I am writing (which I’ll tell you all about in a short while) and preparing for Cheshire Fibre Festival workshops.

So I took a much needed holiday to recover.   We travelled up to Scotland via Northumbria; I haven’t been to Scotland on holiday for a very long time and it is almost as long since I last visited Northumbria.  These are both very beautiful parts of the British Isles and generally much quieter than the rest of the UK in summer.

Scotland was lovely, with quiet roads and resorts.  We stayed at Pitlochry and Grantown-on-Spey, both beautiful Scottish towns set in lovely scenery. We saw lochs and rivers, mountains and valleys and everything inbetween, even some pipers!  And we travelled as far as the Moray coast.   This coastline is stunningly beautiful, if a little windswept from the North Sea, with banks of shingle and miles of golden sands.

We travelled back to Northumbria via the Snow Roads – a fabulous scenic route taking us along some of the highest public roads in the UK and some amazing landscapes.  At the end of the 90 mile route we felt we had seen all of Scotland!

In Northumbria we re-visited Holy Island, Bamburgh Castle and Cragside, all just as lovely now as years ago.

Of course, I can’t take a holiday without checking if there are any yarn shops in the area.  So I went armed with a list of shops I could visit.   Unfortunately we were never always in the right place at the right time to visit them all (confession – I had 8 shops on my list!) and only managed to visit one.   This was an amazing find – Karelia House.  It was more remote than I expected, off a single-track road, and I would say it was more a craft barn than a shop and with a lovely café. It had sewing machines, haberdashery, fabric and a wide range of yarn.   This is my haul:

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I came home feeling quite refreshed and ready to tackle the next stage of the book, more about that in a while 🙂  Meanwhile, this is a bowl of my momentoes from Scotland:

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Happy crocheting  xxx

There’s just a week left of Indie June on LoveCrochet/LoveKnitting and I realised this morning that I hadn’t done a ‘focus’ on the crochet shawl pattern that is on special offer during this month.    This is Kitty :

Kitty is not just one shawl pattern, it is a design that has variations.

You can use one colour or two, from the photos above you can see the one at the foot is a variegated shawl, that is the one colour version.  I used one skein of sock yarn about 370m.

You can make it large or small, in fact you could make it any size.  The largest I made is in the top left of the photo – it is approx 230cm wide by 50cm deep and used approx 300m each of 2 different colours of sock yarn.

You can choose between 3 different borders.  From simple picot to 2 colour block.

So if you mix and match colour combinations, borders and size you could get at least 12 different looks from one pattern.

The pattern runs to 6 pages, is written in UK crochet terms (US shown in the key to help you translate) and has some charts.  It is on special offer on LoveCrochet at £2 until the end of June (that’s half price) you can find it here.  Or you can buy it on Ravelry here but must use the coupon code INDIEJUNE to obtain the discounted price.

Happy crocheting xxx

 

 

 

The 4th pattern in my Indie June special promotion is another blanket. This is Sandlebridge Stripes:

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I love stripey blankets but I do have a short attention span, or rather I get bored with lengthy repetition!   To overcome this I challenged myself to design a stripey blanket that had just enough interest to continue ‘grabbing’ me for long periods of time.   It also became the focus of a workshop I was planning on blankets.

I wanted to avoid some of the pitfalls of stripey blankets (like having all the ends on just one side of the blanket which I think can affect drape and can make the blanket look untidy).   And I wanted to mix the design about so that some rows were quick to make (aiding in the sense of achievement) and others a bit more slow and therapeutic.  Armed with these ideas and 7 different balls of Stylecraft Special DK I set about designing and making a lap blanket.  I reckon I was successful because when I finished my 7th ball I grabbed another 7 and the blanket carried on growing!

The stitch pattern is a 5 row repeat and the colour changes mean that you only repeat the exact pattern/colour combo every 35 rows.  There are a lot of ends to sew but they are on both edges of the blanket so it is  balanced.

The finished blanket is approx 145cm by 175cm – a really great size, but you could make it bigger or smaller to suit your needs.

Whilst I used Stylecraft Special DK, any DK yarn would work well and colour choice is up to you!

The pattern is on special offer at only £2 during June here on LoveCrochet or here on Ravelry, but you must use coupon code INDIEJUNE on checkout on Ravelry to get the reduced price.

#INDIEJUNE17

Happy crocheting xxx

 

I was planning another Indie June focus today but after the event in London last night I don’t feel it appropriate.  Instead I’m doing some slow rhythmic crochet using some luxurious yarn, part of a secret project.  I find it very soothing and it’s giving me time to think about others, sending them virtual hugs.  Craft can be very healing, so why not sit down and join me (virtually). xxx

Today’s focus is on a knitted shawl.   This is Blueberry, one of my earliest designs and still a firm favourite of mine.

The original was made in Debbie Bliss Andes, a gorgeous double knit yarn with a good drape, but sadly it is no longer available (not surprising as the design is over 5 years old!).  It is a typical top (neck) down triangular shawl with a simple but effective lace pattern that is easy to master, so suitable for a beginner shawl knitter.  The finished size is 145cm by 70cm, perfect for my shoulders in summer, or draped with point in front under a coat or jacket.  It may be 5 years old but mine still gets lots of use!

It takes about 300m of dk yarn on a 5mm circular knitting needle.   A substitute yarn is Blue Sky Fiber Metalico which has some lovely natural shades (you’ll need 3 balls). Other alternatives are Noro Silk Garden Lite Solo (some gorgeous colours – 2 balls required) or try the variegated Noro Silk Garden Lite and  Berroco Summer Silk (2 balls).   These are luxury yarns with silk, so not the cheapest but you  could use any dk yarn you like.  By the way, if you buy an Indie pattern on LoveKnitting you can get 15% off yarn if you use code INDIE15 (offer available until midnight on June 5th) – a good excuse to buy some luxury yarn!

You can find the pattern at the offer price of £2 (for the whole of June) on LoveKnitting here or for those who prefer to use Ravelry here, but if you use Ravelry you will need to use coupon code INDIEJUNE on checkout to obtain the discounted price.

#INDIEJUNE17

Happy knitting xxxx

This is Pixie Squares Blanket:

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It is included in the Indie June special offers on LoveCrochet and you can find the pattern here.

The blanket is made in aran weight yarn and comprises a lot of small squares joined as you go. Each square is about 5.5cm across, so they are small. But they are also very quick to make.   I didn’t join as I made them, I just made lots of little squares and fastened them off loosely; then when I had some time I sat at a large table and organised them in a colourway I liked.  I just pulled back about half of the last (very easy) round and then joined quite a lot at a time.    This enabled me to work out a layout chart that looked good (at least I thought it looked good!) and I have included this in the pattern.

Once I had a lap-size I stopped.  Well I did want to continue but I knew I was getting rather addicted to these squares and if I didn’t stop I’d end up with a blanket the size of a football pitch!   I wanted the border to be pretty and fairly solid.  When it comes to borders I think that a blanket with a simply styled motif can carry a wider more jazzy border (and the reverse also – a complex or jazzy centre looks best with a simple border). So my border ended up at 9 rounds, and has a lovely twist in the last few rounds.

The yarn I used is Drops Nepal and I used a total of 25 balls (50g/75m) in 9 different colours.    However, you could use any aran weight yarn, and it’s a great stash buster! Have a look at the Paintbox Aran weight range here – they have a wide range of colours and are great value; there are also some lovely colour packs available (I like the 10 ball Simply Aran Candy Shop colour pack and I estimate you could make a lap sized blanket out of one 10 ball pack of Simply Aran).  And there’s 20% off the Painbox Yarns colour packs until midnight tomorrow (3rd June) if you use coupon code PACK20.

Pixie Squares pattern is written in UK and US crochet terms, includes a chart for the square as well as written instructions, some photos of the steps and a layout chart.   It is on offer on LoveCrochet for just £2 for the whole of June.  If you prefer to use Ravelry then you can find the pattern here but do need to use coupon code INDIEJUNE on checkout to get the discount down to £2.

#INDIEJUNE17

Happy crocheting xxx

 

This is the first of a series of blogs on the 5 designs I have on special offer on LoveKitting/LoveCrochet and Ravelry this month.  I will also blog about other designs but as these 5 are on special offer I thought you’d like a bit more information on them.

Ollerton Bag is a lovely bag, perfect for carrying projects or as a small beach bag.   The size is approx 32cm by 32cm plus handle.

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I used cotton DK yarn to make this – Stylecraft Classique Cotton – but you could use any cotton DK or even opt for a thicker yarn to make a larger bag.   It uses 4 colours and mine used one ball each of Wisteria, Lavender, Shell Pink and Dove.  Each 50g ball is about 92m – so if you want to substitute yarn look for balls of 92m or more.  You will also need a 4mm crochet hook.  If you want a bigger bag try using aran weight yarn and a 5mm hook – but be aware you will need more yarn.  I just had a look on LoveCrochet and found a lovely 5 ball colour pack of cotton aran here , as the meterage of these balls is long you should easily get a larger bag using just 4 of the balls (with some to spare for other projects!).

Construction of the bag is very easy, it’s made of motifs which are joined with a flat seam. The pattern includes a chart and construction diagrams as well as the written pattern.

You can find the pattern on LoveCrochet here, it is already discounted to the special sale price of £2 (normally £4).   If you prefer to use Ravelry then you can find here, but you will need to use coupon code INDIEJUNE on checkout to get the discounted price.

Happy crocheting xxx

#INDIEJUNE17

 

 

During the month of June LoveKnitting/LoveCrochet show their love of Independent Designers by promoting their work and patterns.  They’ll be blogging about designers’ work and having special offers on during the month.

This year I’ve decided to put a few patterns on special offer during ‘Indie June’ and for the whole of the month these 5 patterns will be half their usual price, no code needed the prices shown on LoveCrochet/LoveKnitting are at half usual now.  To ensure people who use Ravelry don’t miss out I’ve set up a coupon code so they get the same discount on them – just use INDIEJUNE on checkout from Ravelry.

Which patterns are on offer?  Well I selected some of my favourites – I enjoyed designing and making them and I hope you will too! Here they are:

Kitty, my latest shawl design here on LoveCrochet and here on Ravelry

For the knitters, Blueberry Shawl one of my earlier designs and a favourite of mine, here on LoveKnitting and here on Ravelry.

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Ollerton Bag, perfect for summer, here on LoveCrochet and here on Ravelry.

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Sandlebridge Stripes Blanket, here on LoveCrochet and here on Ravelry.

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Last, but not least, Pixies Squares Blanket, here on LoveCrochet and here on Ravelry.

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And although it is not June until midnight tomorrow, the offer starts now!

#IndieJune17

Happy knitting and crocheting xxxx

PS a reminder to those of you in the UK that Cheshire Fibre Festival 2017 is on 1st October, bookings now open – info here.

 

Kitty is the name of my new shawl design released today.   Kitty is made sideways and has 3 different styles in one pattern.  It works well in 4ply, fingering, sock or sport weight yarn

First you could use 2 balls in different colours to make a small shawl with a simple border.  This one uses Drops Alpaca Mix yarn – one ball in Light Maroon Mix and 1 ball in Maroon Mix.  It measure about 180cm by 32cm.

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You could use that favourite skein of sock yarn to make a one-colour version.  This one uses 1 skein of Blue Moon Fiber Art Socks that Rock Lightweight, in Rare Gems.  It measures about 180cm by 40cm, and has a slightly larger border:

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Or you could make a larger version and opt for a 2 colour border.  This one uses Drops Baby Alpaca Silk – 2 balls in Grey Blue and 2 balls in Ice Blue.  It measures approx 230cm by 50cm:

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Or you could mix and match the size, number of colours and border to make your own unique shawl.   You can find the pattern on Ravelry here or on LoveCrochet here.

What will you make?

Happy crocheting xxx

 

 

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