Twixmas Mandala CAL

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This year my seasonal CAL is called Twixmas Mandala 2019.  The CAL starts on 26th December when I release the first 3 rounds of the mandala pattern, then each day up to New Year’s Eve I will add a new part with the next 2 or 3 rounds.  So on New Year’s Eve the mandala will be complete.

The introduction to the pattern is here, parts will be added to this as they are released.  It is on sale until midnight GMT  on 24th December at 75% off, no coupon code required.

The CAL is for fun, a few bright rows of crochet each day during the holidays.  The best fun is choosing your colours!   The pattern includes the colours of yarn that I chose but that is a guide, the beauty of mandalas is how they can look completely different in other colours.

Join in the CAL on Ravelry.

Happy crocheting xx

 

 

 

 

I think I’m losing it!

It’s mid-December and all of a sudden I feel like I’m losing the race, or several races!

First there is my Twixmas CAL.  I started doing Christmas CALs back in 2014.  It was a moment of madness when I started – I decided on a blanket!  How on earth I managed to do it so quickly was unfathomable – but I did it!   I posted a new square every day from Christmas Eve to New Year.  But it was exhilarating, not least because I didn’t realise just how many people would enjoy picking up their hooks every day during the holiday season.  For some it was a welcome project because they had an enforced holiday, for others a lovely respite from the hectic family time, for me a challenge in discipline!

More recently I have been less ambitious (aka more sensible) and my Christmas CAL (or Twixmas CAL) has been a mandala, a few rounds added to the pattern every day over the Christmas season.  But Twixmas 2019 is behind, I have only just finished it (a callout for some last minute testers is on my Ravelry page).    A few days ago I thought I had lost the race….phew, I think I’m back on track.

This is one of my Christmas Mandalas:

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The second race is my annual blanket CAL.   This won’t start until February but it takes a lot of preparation.  I was beginning to think I wouldn’t finish it in time.  But somehow I managed to grab the bull by the horns (or is that the blanket by the hook?) and I plan to finish the entire blanket by the end of the year, as I have only the border to complete.  In fact, a large part of the blanket is now in testing.  Another sigh of relief, perhaps I’m not losing it?

But then I am losing it, because at the start of the year I challenged myself to have another stash busting year.  I have been following Lynn Rowe’s Use it or Lose it campaign for almost 2 years and it has really helped me get a grip on my yarn addiction. I even confessed to how much stash I had way back in May 2018.

This year I set myself a target – to get down to 80 skeins in my stash.  I have been making the odd purchase, even splashing out a bit at Yarndale, and at one point I thought I was winning but I now know I am losing.   Currently I have 86 skeins in my stash and I will be lucky to get down to 85 by the end of the year, especially as there is a skein in the post to me.   This is one race I really wanted to win and I’m a poor loser, I spent some time yesterday searching my stash for some heavy weight yarn so I could use it quickly!  But I am pretty certain I will lose this race.

So I need to think hard about my next target, and I need to be realistic.  Maybe next year I should write a diary – Confessions of a Yarn Addict!

Do you have any stash targets?  Come on, I’ve confessed surely you can too?!

Happy crocheting xxx

 

Advent CAL 2019 part 3

Part 3 of the Advent CAL is published and is the last of the 3 patterns, which should make me sad but this pattern is so addictive I’m over the moon happy!

Let me introduce you to Santa and His Helpers

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Santa has a little band of colourful elves to help him (and my little band gets bigger by the day!). 

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The pattern includes Santa, the Worker Elf and the Junior Elf.  They are teeny little decorations which can be hung on the tree, strung onto bunting or just huddled together in a helpful group on the mantelpiece!

I challenge you to make many, as many as you like!  They are quick to make and such great fun.  I predict an army of santas and elves will be marching through our homes this Christmas!

As with the other patterns, these are written in UK and US terms.  The pattern can be found here and the ebook here.

Join in the fun on Ravelry here.

Happy crocheting xx

 

GAL again

It is the season for CALs and KALs.  Even though we haven’t quite finished the Advent CAL there is another lined up that I need to tell you about.

Tonight (26th November) the Ravelry-hosted Indie Design 2019 Gift-a-long kicks off with a sale of over 6000 Ravelry patterns – at 8pm US EST.   You can see which designers and patterns are in the sale by following the link on the Indie Design Gift-a-long group here.

So what is the GAL all about? Well it is a massive KAL (knit-a-long) and CAL (crochet-a-long), but also it is much more than that.

This year there are 286 participating designers all of whom have between 10 and 20 of their patterns on sale (at 25% discount) until 11.59pm EST on 2nd December (in summary there are over 5300 patterns in this sale). This is a great boost to people who want to make their seasonal gifts as there are a huge variety of quality patterns in the sale.  However, it doesn’t stop there. The KAL/CAL includes all patterns that the participating designers sell on Ravelry and there are over 22,000 of those.  Anyone starting one of those 22,000 patterns during the GAL and completing by the end of the year can enter the GAL to win prizes. Each designer has supplied gift codes for a pattern of the winner’s choice – that makes almost 2000 prizes to start with, plus other prizes have been donated such as yarn, books, stitch markers, project bags. So there’s a whole host of prizes up for grabs.

It also includes lots of fun, and so much chat on Ravelry that it is difficult to keep up! There are random prizes and a couple of really fun games,  also with prizes. And a lovely thread showing all the finished objects (FOs) made in the GAL.

I’m pleased to say that I am a participating designer and 14 of my patterns will be on sale.  Here are some of them.

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The GAL gives me a fabulous chance to have a look at the bundle of sale patterns, discover designers who are new to me and buy some of their lovely patterns. One of the things I like to do is buy from small independent businesses and Ravelry is a great source of those, so the opportunity to see so many independent designers in one place is a bonus to me.

Don’t forget the sale starts at 8pm EST tonight (that’s 1am in the morning in the UK!)

I will be joining the fun, I hope you do too!

Happy knitting and crocheting xx

Advent CAL 2019 part 2

The second pattern in the Advent CAL has been published.

This is the Snowflake Pomander:

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Yes, I sneaked another snowflake-style decoration in!   This pomander can be used as a traditional pomander and makes a lovely present.  But it can be adapted, several of my testers suggested leaving it empty as a ‘pocket’ which could hold a small gift or a chocolate to hang on the Christmas tree.

The pattern is available here for £2 and is also included in the ebook.

Please join in the discussion and share your progress in the Ravelry group.  Add some more snowflakes to the flurry!

Last up (in 2 days) is my favourite of the 3 patterns, an addictive one!

Until Wednesday, Happy Crocheting xxx

 

 

Advent CAL 2019 part 1

It’s arrived – the first pattern of this year’s Advent CAL is published.

This is my 2019 Snowflake

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I love snowflakes and it has become a tradition for me to design a new one each year, so it is a natural choice for the Advent CAL.  The pattern is written in UK and US terms, has a chart and includes step by step photos of each round.   You can find the pattern here, it costs £2 but it is also available in an ebook bundle here with the other 2 (yet to be published) Advent CAL patterns which is normally £4 but on sale at £1 only for the next 24 hours (no coupon code needed), that is until midnight GMT tomorrow (24th November).

If you are joining the CAL please also join the Ravelry group discussion and share your progress.  I hope to see a flurry of snowflakes over the next few days 🙂

The next pattern will be released on Monday 25th November, in the afternoon.

Until then ……….. Happy Crocheting xxxx

 

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