Part 3 and a special offer

Part 3 of the Soothing Mandala CAL is now published on Ravelry.   You can read all the details here.

If you look here you will see some crocheters have been posting progress photos 🙂

And I have some exciting news for you.  In the summer Autumn Beaches Scarf was published in Inside Crochet and the rights returned to me recently.  So I have published this as an individual pattern.

Photo courtesy of Nic, Yarns from the Plain

The scarf was designed in some luscious Mobberley DK from Yarns from the Plain and as a special offer Nic, the owner of Yarns from the Plain, is offering a 10% discount on any of her DK yarns.  So if you purchase the pattern here you will find a discount code in the pattern which will enable you to obtain the 10% discount.  This applies to any DK yarn in her shop, and she has some gorgeous yarns to choose from.

The pattern works well in semi solid colours and variegated colours, but would also work in multiple colours.   It works up fairly quickly and would be a lovely scarf to make for yourself in the New Year.

Some yarns in Nic’s shop that I would love to see in this pattern are:

Wilmslow DK in colour Ask:

Ask

Mobberley DK in colour Bewitched:

Mobberley_DK_Bewitched_2_JPG-100206-250x250

Mobberley Dk in colour Greengage:

Greengage_jpg-100332-250x250

And there are many more colours to choose from.   Go on, spoil yourself!

 

Happy crocheting xxx

 

Soothing Mandala CAL part 2

Part 2 of the Soothing Mandala CAL was added to the pattern this morning.   This brings us to 4 rounds…….would you like a sneaky peek?

Remember, you can find the pattern here and if you use coupon code CHRISTMAS you will be able to purchase the pattern free.  This code expires at midnight GMT on 31st December 2015.

So sneaky peek:

....but only a peek!
….but only a peek!

If you enjoy this CAL please consider donating to The Christie – there is a Justgiving page here.

Remember, the pattern is easy enough for anyone to try (provided you know how to crochet in the round) and each day it should take only a short amount of time to tackle the new round(s) in the CAL – just a little daily crochet to soothe you in the hectic days before Christmas.

Please share your progress in the Ravelry group.

Part 3 will be published on Monday morning UK time.

Happy crocheting xx

 

Right now it’s 19th December on Christmas Island …….

…..so I have just published part 1 of the pattern for the Soothing Mandala CAL.

You can find the pattern here.

And if you use coupon code CHRISTMAS you will be able to purchase the pattern free.  This code expires at midnight GMT on 31st December 2015.

If you enjoy this CAL please consider donating to The Christie – there is a Justgiving page here.

Remember, the pattern is easy enough for anyone to try (provided you know how to crochet in the round) and each day it should take only a short amount of time to tackle the new round(s) in the CAL – just a little daily crochet to soothe you in the hectic days before Christmas.

Please share your progress in the Ravelry group.

Part 2 will be published on Sunday morning UK time!

Happy crocheting xx

 

 

 

 

Soothing Mandala CAL

The next stage of the Winter Blanket CAL won’t be published until Boxing Day, so if you have been waiting patiently (or impatiently!) I have another CAL to keep you occupied until then.

It is a charitable mandala CAL which will commence on Saturday 19th December and conclude on Friday 25th December.  Each day one or two rounds of the mandala pattern will be published, with the last round being published on Christmas Day – or I should say rounds because I will have 2 options for the final round.  I’ve named it the Soothing Mandala as a round or two of crochet every day may help soothe you in the hectic run up to Christmas!   If you don’t know what a mandala is this may inspire you:

Mandalas...
Mandalas…

My aim is to raise some money for a great charitable cause – The Christie Charity. This is a UK cancer hospital charity and for those who don’t know about it you can read more here.   This has been one of my favourite charities for many years.  Not many people are aware of all the services provided by The Christie – two in particular are the Complementary Therapy and Art Sessions & Therapy, both of which are funded entirely by the charity.  Mandalas are frequently used in colour therapy and meditation, and these fit very well with the Complementary and Art Therapies, and so it seemed a good type of CAL to use to support the charity.  Who knows, one day crochet could feature in the alternative therapies used!

How will it work?

The pattern will be available on Ravelry, and will be updated each day as new rounds of the mandala are published.   A code will be published on the blog on Saturday which will allow you to obtain the pattern free until the end of the year.  This makes the CAL accessible to all, which I hope will raise awareness of the charity.  However, I will also publish links to a Justgiving charity page where you can donate to the charity; whether you wish to donate is up to you, as is the amount. In addition all proceeds from the sale of the pattern from Saturday until the end of 2016 will be donated to The Christie, so hopefully there will be ongoing benefits for the charity also.

What materials are needed?

I used a dk cotton in up to 9 colours, using only small quantities of each, a 4mm hook and a tapestry needle.

However, it could be made in any type or weight of yarn (although I wouldn’t recommend anything heavier than aran), provided you use a suitable hook size.

How difficult is it?

The pattern is written in the round and uses no complex stitches, just chain, double crochet, treble,  half treble and slip stitch.    So if you know how to work these then you should find it straightforward.   I will publish an update photo on the pattern each time new rounds are published, so you will have a visual aid as well.    The pattern will be written in English crochet terms initially, but I will add US terms once the full pattern is published on Christmas Day.

If you’ve never made a mandala before this should be a great one to try as there will be chatting and support on my Ravelry group.

Until Saturday….

Happy crocheting xxx

Winter Blanket CAL – update

Yesterday I finished my 8 motifs for the CAL.  It has been my ‘knitgroup’ project, so I’ve been doing a little every few days, I had a spare couple of hours yesterday so decided to finish them.

Here’s a progress photo:

Motif 1 - finished!
Motif 1 – finished!

You will notice that I have a chain running off the corner of each motif.  This is my way of ensuring I have enough yarn on each motif to slip stitch them together afterwards.   You see a chain st uses the same amount of yarn as a slip stitch, so if you work out how many slip stitches you will need all you have to do is a chain the same number (plus a bit spare) and you should have enough yarn to join the motifs at a later stage.  Just don’t tie off the chain, leave it loose so that you can pull it back quickly.  For me this meant a chain of 70 sts, because each motif has 33 sts down each side and most of the motifs will be joined along 2 sides – so 2 times 33 plus a bit equals 70.  I guess this is Tip number 6!

How are you getting on with your CAL?  Have you finished all 8 of the first motif yet?

Well, if you have you may be getting impatient, so I’m planning a quick CAL in the week up to Christmas which should keep you interested.  And I plan to do it for charity.  All you will need are some scraps of cotton dk yarn in some nice colours – up to 9 colours.  More about this soon 😉

Happy crocheting xxx

 

 

Winter Blanket CAL progress update

I started on my CAL blanket yesterday afternoon.   I made one ‘solid’ granny in 2 colours – Teal and Fern.   But I didn’t like the effect at all, so I frogged immediately.

My mistake was lack of colour planning!   I had already decided that Teal, Fern, Mint and Aqua would be my ‘background’ colours and that one should feature in each motif – but I now know that 2 didn’t work.   A quick re-think and I decided to use all 4 of Daffodil, Melon, Zing and Rose, followed by Fern.

So Tip number 1 – do some good colour planning!

Progress was good – I have completed my first ‘solid’ granny and done 4 rounds of the other 7.

Solid granny progress
Solid granny progress

The last 4 rounds are in Fern and finishing them will be a good project for knitgroup (Tip number 2 – never take anything complicated to knitgroup, there is too much natter, laughter and other distractions such as coffee and cake!).

I have been good and sewn my ends as I go, making the finishing much more straightforward.

Tip number 3 – sew your ends as you go.

When doing my sample blanket I used different yarn and I used my favourite Clover Amour crochet hook.  I have a LOT of crochet hooks but by far my best ones are Clover Amour and  Hamanaka Raku Raku, they are the ones that fit best in my hand – size, weight and touch are perfect for me.  If you look at the photo you will see I’m using the Hamanaka Raku Raku hooks for the CAL blanket, and my yarn is different.  Interestingly, the size of these squares is coming out larger – about 21cm square, which I think is a combination of different yarn and different hook.  The amount of yarn seems about the same, so I’m not at all bothered by this as I know I have plenty of yarn.  But I will keep my scales handy and keep a check on my yarn as I work through the CAL, just to keep track of how much yarn I’ve used and to ensure I have sufficient left for the rest.

Tip number 4 – use a hook you are comfortable with

Tip number 5 – check your tension after the first square and work out how much yarn you’ve used, change hook size if necessary and keep a notebook handy to record yarn used.

That’s all on progress so far.

Incidentally, the Hamanaka Raku Raku crochet hooks are lovely and would be a fabulous addition to your Christmas present list!   They are available as a set from Janie Crow, who also stock Clover Amour.

Happy crocheting xxx

Here we go……..

Welcome to the Winter CAL 2015.   Today I’m introducing the CAL, providing information on requirements and the pattern for the first square motif, a ‘solid’ granny which should be pretty familiar and which will help you estimate your own requirements if you aren’t using the same yarn.

This post is rather long, so make a cuppa and settle down for a long read !

YARN

First let’s talk about yarn.  I’m using a double knit (DK) yarn and I’m making 2 blankets.

My first is a ‘sample’ blanket using 6 bright colours which cheer up winter and the second is also a bright colour palate but will be structured differently. I’m using the second colour set to crochet along with you.

Sample yarn:  John Arbon, Knit by Numbers DK, 100% merino, 100g/250m per skein.  2 skeins each of Blue (039), Pink (063), Yellow (052), Green (071) and Purple (029)  and 1 skein of Orange (015).  This is sufficient for a blanket 7 motifs square, so a total of 49 motifs and a small border.

John Arbon Knit by Numbers
John Arbon Knit by Numbers

CAL yarn: Stylecraft Life DK, 75% acrylic/25% wool, 100g/298m per ball.  I’m using 2 balls each of Teal (2416), Mint (2342), Aqua (2357) and Fern (2311) and 1 ball each of Daffodil (2394), Rose (2301), Melon (2359) and Zing (2356).    The blanket will be 7 motifs square also, the same as the sample, but I will put a larger border on this.

Stylecraft Life DK
Stylecraft Life DK

HOOK

I am using a 4mm crochet hook (US G/6)

MOTIF/TENSION

The motifs are square and each motif is approx. 19cm (just under 8in) square after blocking, using the ‘sample’ yarn.

ADAPTABILITY

You can use any yarn you like, as long as you use a suitable hook size.  And you can make it to any size you like.  It is a perfect stash buster.  Later in this blog I show you how to you estimate your yarn requirements.

COLOUR SCHEME

Some of the motifs in this design work well in just one colour, others work well in up to 5 colours.  So whatever you choose, I recommend you have at least 5 colours of yarn.  I used 6 colours in my sample blanket and I’m using 8 colours in my CAL blanket.

MOTIF DESIGNS AND TIMINGS

There are 8 motif designs, and you can use as many or as few as you like.    The first 2 designs are free and will be published on this blog, so you could use just these 2. The first design is published today, the second design will be published on 26th December.

The other 6 will be published weekly thereafter and will be included in a comprehensive pattern which will be available to buy on Ravelry, it will be published initially on 26th December and updated as each motif is released. Photos of the new motifs will appear on this blog, along with my progress updates.

SIZE

You can make the blanket any size you like.   The lap blanket I am making will be 7 motifs square – a total of 49 motifs.  It will be just over 1.3m/52in square with a small border.

HOW TO WORK OUT YARN REQUIREMENTS

This is an approximate way to work out your yarn requirement.

First make the motif in this blog.  I worked out it uses an average amount of yarn for all the 8 motifs, so is a good guide as to how much each motif will use.

Then measure your motif.  Using this measurement work out how big you want your blanket to be – so if the motif is 20cm and you want a blanket 120cm square then it will need to be 6 motifs square – that’s 36 motifs.

I prefer my blankets to have an odd number along each side, as visually I find odd numbers more appealing.  So you may prefer to aim for 7 by 7 (49 motifs), or 5 by 5 (25 motifs) or even 9 by 9 (81 motifs).

Whatever you decide, let’s just say the number of motifs you want is N

Now weigh your motif – it doesn’t matter if you weigh in grams or ounces.   Let’s just say that weight is W

For the motifs you need yarn with a total weight of N times W, but you need to add a margin for joining, colour matching/changing and a border.  I recommend a minimum of 10% (which works for a small border and if you are careful with colour matching) or 20% (which works well with a larger border) or 25% (if you aren’t confident about colour matching and/or don’t really know what you want to do for a border).

So take N by W, add 10%,  20% or 25% and then divide by the size (weight) of skeins/balls for the yarn you are using.

For my bright sample I had 49 motifs, each weighing an average of 20g – so 49 by 20 plus 10% is  1078g and the skeins come in 100g, so I need 10.78 – or 11.

The estimating works if you are using all the same yarn, if you use different brands of yarn then you should look carefully on the ball band to find out how many m or yd are in each brand – they vary quite a lot.  If yours vary, then you’ll have to do some more maths to work out your requirements.  Essentially you need to work out the meterage or yardage of your motif, rather than just the weight.  I’ll provide information on this in my Ravelry group here if you want it – so just join in the discussion and ask!

Now onto the pattern:

This is the first motif.  It is similar to one I used last year but this has more rounds in total, it’s a ‘solid’ granny square.

ABBREVIATIONS:

The pattern is written in English crochet terms.
St = stitch
Ch = chain
Tr = treble (US dc)
Ss = slip stitch
Sp = space
Ch-sp =chain space

Solid motif
Solid motif

I made 8 of these in a variety of colours:

Foundation:  Make a 4ch foundation ch and join into a ring with a ss

Round 1: 5ch (counts as 1tr, 2ch), (3tr, 2ch) 3 times into the ring, 2tr into the ring, join to 3rd st of first 5ch with a ss.

Round 2: ss into 2ch-sp, (note for this and each subsequent round: this ss is to position the start of the round in the right place) 5ch (counts as 1tr, 2ch), 2tr into the same 2ch-sp, 1tr into each tr along each side and (2tr, 2ch, 2tr) in each 2ch-sp on the corner, finish with 1tr in the first 2ch-sp where you started the round and join to 3rd ch from start with a ss. You should have 7tr along each side and 2ch in each corner of your motif.

Rounds 3 to 8: Repeat Round 2.  Each round the number of tr along each side will increase by 4, so at the end of Round 8 you should have 31tr along each side and 2ch in each corner of your motif.

Break yarn and fasten off leaving a long tail about 3m long for sewing or crocheting together later.

COLOUR

In my sample blanket I made 8 of these motifs in just one colour each.   But you can use up to 8 colours, just by changing colour at the start of each round.  I will start my CAL blanket later today and I’m planning on using at least 2 colours on each of my 8 motifs.  I’ll post progress photos tomorrow.

LAYOUT

The ‘solid’ motifs can be positioned anywhere in the blanket but I thought it would help to give structure to the blanket if I positioned them around the edge of it.  So here is where I put them in my blanket (shown as 1):

Solid motif locations
Solid motif locations

If you want to chat about this, there is a discussion thread on my Ravelry forum here.

Or you could just comment on this post.

I’m looking forward to seeing what yarns you choose 🙂

Until tomorrow…..

Happy crocheting xxx

The Zodiac Year

If you’ve been following my Ravelry group you will know that I have been making the Zodiac blanket this year.  It was a year-long blanket club designed by Amanda Perkins.  Each month part of the design is released; this is my blanket in January:

January
January

I continued adding to the blanket each month until recently when Amanda released all final parts of the pattern, so that I could complete the blanket well before the year-end.  And here is the finished blanket (with apologies for the light, it is a dull wet day here today):

Zodiac
Zodiac

You can find all the signs of the zodiac in this blanket if you look carefully 🙂

I am particularly pleased with the border.  After weighing my yarn and doing a bit of swatching, I worked out that I had sufficient yarn left to do 4 rounds, one of double crochet and 3 of half trebles using the same colour sequence as the outer edge octagons, so it flows well.  Here’s my border:

The edge
The edge

This photo also shows the beauty of the crocheted octagons and squares.

If you want a zodiac of your own, then you can find the pattern here.  It is a lengthy project but is a work of art and will become an heirloom to love.

Happy crocheting xx

Crochet and lace

Whilst there is plenty to see and do in Corfu Town, Corfu has many lovely villages to visit and so a hire car was an essential for some of the holiday.  The first day we had the car we travelled up to Kassiopi, a small port on the North East coast.

It was quieter than we have ever known it, mainly because it was so late in the season but also because the economic crisis in Greece has had an impact on tourism (such a shame as the island remains largely unaffected and there is no reason not to go there on holiday to enjoy the best Greek hospitality).   However, we like quiet!   Plenty of space for a wander along the seafront, stopping to spot fish, watch boats and enjoy the views.  Time also for a leisurely latte by the water’s edge.

Thankfully, despite many businesses being closed already in October, the place I wanted to visit was open – Agathi’s lace shop.

Agathi's lace shop
Agathi’s lace shop

I have visited this shop several times over the last 20 odd years and it always had plenty of customers, but this time it was quiet.  Agathi was crocheting as I entered and I was the only one there, so it was an excellent opportunity to have a chat.   She had just started crocheting a top-down cardi in white cotton – she pointed at all the crocheted tops hanging up around the entrance – all made by her.    She makes so many glorious things:  garments, tablecloths, doilies, rugs – and in many different fibre crafts: lacework, crochet, traditional Corfu Venetian lace (a sort of tatting), weaving, cutwork, embroidery, ribbon embroidery, cross stitch – the list is endless, she is extremely talented.

Agathi opened her shop 43 years ago, in that time she has seen many changes.  The season used to start early (March) and end late (November), but it has changed many times over the years.  Today the season depends very much on the airline timetables and so do her sales – she has so many beautiful woven rugs but they will be too heavy for taking home on an airline and I expect many of her sales are for the smaller items.  Next time I go to Corfu I will pack light to save room for a rug!

Each item in the shop has been made by her (well, apart from the carved olive wood by her son!) and the range, quality and beauty of them is unbelievable – she is so very talented.

I purchased 2 beautiful square doilies, in very fine crochet:

Motif doily
Motif doily

This one is 4 motifs joined simply in very fine cotton.

Textured doily
Textured doily

This is a single motif, with texture.

Each one will have taken 2 days to make.  I explained that I crocheted as well and she suggested I should copy them!   But I won’t as I doubt I have the patience or talent to make such very fine work.  However, she has inspired me – and when I returned to the hotel I started swatching a motif based loosely on a simpler part of one of her doilies, it won’t end up anywhere as good as her work but it will remind me of how wonderfully talented she is.

Agathi’s is well worth a visit if you go to Corfu. Kassiopi is easily found and Agathi’s is on the main street down to the harbour.   Next time I’m in Corfu I will visit again, it’s a must!

Tomorrow I’ll post a final blog about my fibre adventures in Corfu…..the last day was a bonus which I’m keen to share with you 🙂

Happy crocheting xx

Tis the night before Yarndale….

 

……and I’m getting excited!  Also, I am preparing for the day in my usual fairly organised way.  So I thought I’d share how I prepare as a visitor:

What do I wear?  It’s pretty obvious really – some comfy trainers (the floor is solid concrete and warm socks are a necessity), trousers (not a skirt as it may be chilly!) with a secret security pocket, lots of layers, a pair of fingerless mitts (excellent for being able to fondle yarn and get your cash out easily) and my favourite type of neckwear for shopping – a cowl.  When I thought about this I came to a bit of a standstill, you see I do like to co-ordinate what I wear and I’m taking some lovely crocheted fingerless mitts in blue but I don’t have a blue cowl!    So my last minute challenge was to stash dive and make a cowl that matches.   So that’s where I’ve been this afternoon – searching through piles of stash (which makes me wonder just why am I going to Yarndale!?).   I have found some lovely NDS dk yarn called Stardust in blues and lilac, not an exact match for the mitts but should be ok.  And my challenge for this evening is to make a cowl……wish me luck!

NDS Stardust
NDS Stardust

The next stage of my prep is to get the bag packed.  Ah yes, the bag – it is a good sized canvas bag which I can fling over my shoulder, not too large as I don’t want to inadvertently bump it into other visitors (which is very easy to do in a crowd).

I have reviewed the exhibitor list and floor plan already, so I have a printed copy marked up with my ‘must visit’ stands.  This is the first item to go in my bag. .

I always take a packed lunch.  There are cafes in Skipton and food stalls at the show, but the queues can be long.  So I find it easier to pack my own lunch – and a few snacks.  I’m travelling there by coach so I have a snack before arrival which helps keep me going until lunch!   So this afternoon I made sure I had sandwiches, snacks and some bottled water ready in the fridge.  They will all go into my bag just before I leave tomorrow morning.

Also in the bag is a market shopping bag, you know the sort of old fashioned string bag – you could crochet one yourself but I have a few ‘turtle bags’ so I use one of those.  It’s perfect as an overflow expandable bag.

A lightweight fleece is the next item – just in case it gets really cold.

The last item in the bag is a pack-a-mac.  I prefer this to an umbrella for two reasons – firstly it can provide an extra (and windproof) layer if it gets cold and, second, umbrellas can be difficult to manoeuvre in a crowd and possibly a bit dangerous!  I have checked the weather forecast and it looks good, but this is England so it is best to be prepared for rain.

Also, I have a small cross body handbag for money, phone, lippy, comb, small packet of tissues, keys etc.   It has some good little zipped pockets which are great for security.   I put my mobile on charge overnight, so it is fully charged for tomorrow.

Money is another thing to consider.  Some, but not all, stallholders have mobile visa machines but the signal isn’t always good, so it’s much better to have cash and cheque book.  I don’t keep cash all in one place which is why those little security pockets in trousers and bag are handy.  And it’s good to have small denomination notes and  a good supply of pound coins, stallholders love them!

Finally, an early night is in order.  I want to be fresh as a daisy tomorrow!

I’ll be wearing my Ravelry badge at Yarndale, so if you spot me you’ll soon tell if I won my cowl challenge, although I may still be crocheting it on the coach!

Happy crocheting xxx