Stashing down…….

I have been busy for the last 2 weeks, a little bit of designing but mainly ‘stashing down’. What is stashing down? For yarn-aholics like me, stash is the stock of yarn I have acquired over the years. So stashing down means using up lots of yarn so that my yarn ‘stash’ reduces. Now my stash is huge, so large that I keep a spreadsheet to help me manage it and I know how many balls/skeins I have. But it is so embarrassingly large that I can’t even bring myself to tell you what that number is! It does fill a tall built in double width wardrobe and overflow into numerous baskets in my yarn room. Did I ever mention I have a yarn room? Perhaps the less said the better – but it gives you an idea of how much stash I have!

I need to reduce this stash considerably and I decided to use quick simple crochet stitches (such as granny square stitches) that I can do with my eyes shut, and therefore speedily stash down. So I have used these simple stitches and crocheted like the wind. So far I have used 17 balls of my stash and made no fewer 8 gift bags (destined for Christmas wrappings).

The bags are varied, and mainly just improvised. I did start a couple of patterns but changed then, and after that I decided I could just make them up as I went. So here’s a selection:

Market style bags
Market style bags
Granny style bags
Granny style bags

You can tell from the photos that I haven’t used the best of my yarn stash for these bags. But there is a little glitter and silk in some of the yarns I used.

I have also started on some simple but luxurious cushion covers in pure silk. These are a simple granny square design – one for the back and 4 for the front. I plan to fasten them with buttons, so I will need to design a granny-style button flap.
I love the yarn and the colours complement each other well. Unfortunately this photo just doesn’t show the colours in all their glory, nor the beautiful sheen of the silk.

Granny cushion pieces
Granny cushion pieces

I’m also working on a few WIPs – one a second cushion cover to match this one:

Fresh Red cushion
Fresh Red cushion

This is a design from a few months ago, you can find the pattern here: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/fresh-red-crochet-cushion

In the next couple of weeks my stash down will be finished (for now) and hopefully I will have used more than 30 balls/skeins of yarn. Perfect for creating more storage space …….because at the end of September I am going here: http://www.yarndale.co.uk
And I am sure to buy lots more yarn – I guess that’s called stashing up!!!

Happy crocheting xxx

Happy Sunday

Happy Sunday to my readers!

How is your summer going? Here in the UK it is warm, probably the warmest summer we have had for a few years. So evenings have been balmy, wine has been quaffed and a gentle calm fills the air (inbetween the hayfever sneezes!).

My knitting and crochet normally slows in warm weather, warm hands and wool do not mix well. But this July has been different, maybe because one of my long term projects has been in cotton – the Jane Crowfoot mystery blanket CAL. The last clue for this was published a few days ago – I had one large flower motif to make, then a lot of joining and edging. The flower motif is blocking and I have a plan to slowly sew the pieces together rather than get bogged down in too much sewing – I will share the finished project in due course..

I have also completed the July clue of Amanda Perkins’ Kaleidoscope mystery blanket CAL – I’ve told you before that I love this pattern and the yarn, it seems to flow off the hook easily. Here is July:
JULY
My plans for my own mystery CAL are well advanced. I have made a sample and started pattern writing. Just as well, because the first clue will be released on 24th July. The CAL will be hosted on my Ravelry forum here: http://www.ravelry.com/discuss/agrarian-artisan-designs/2967692/26-50#33

MCAL
Anyone joining the forum and signing up for the MCAL before 1st August will receive all clues free. It is motif based, and can be a scarf, wide scarf/wrap or even a blanket. Suggestions for yarn quantities for 4 ply/fingering and double knit will be provided. It is all about colour, which I am sure everyone will love, and the motif basis is slightly different to normal, which I love but I await response to the final design!

Also I have published my July Scarf which is made in silk. Following the June theme, this scarf is a row of granny squares made in one long piece:
July Crochet Scarf

Pattern can be found here: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/july-crochet-scarf-continuous-grannies
It is on sale at half price until the end of July using the coupon code JULY

Happy summer knitting and crochet xxxxx

Almost a year!

I’ve been blogging for almost a year now, I know because I’ve just paid a renewal fee on my domain name! I can’t believe how quickly this last year has gone. I guess I must be enjoying life because I haven’t stopped to review or consider the year, I’ve just ploughed on and enjoyed!

Today I took another big step – I started a facebook page. Just search for Agrarian Artisan on Facebook and you should find me!

In the next few days I will publish the next hexagon in The Hexagon Project 2014 and self publish the Molly Shawlette. And that will bring me to 101 designs (at least that is what Ravelry tells me!). Wow! I need a drink!

Here’s the prototype of Molly:

Molly Prototype
Molly Prototype

And a glimpse of motif no 4 of The Hexagon Project 2014:

Hexagon Project 2014 no 4
Hexagon Project 2014 no 4

Happy knitting and crochet xxx

Spring?

Happy St David’s Day!

Yes, 1st March is St David’s Day and for me signifies a key date in the seasonal calendar – because I always think of daffodils on St David’s Day and that means spring is just around the corner. This week we have had some sunny weather here in the UK and I have managed to spend a good number of hours in the garden, which raises my spirits at this time of year. The snowdrops are well advanced, the hellebores are in full flower and many of the crocus are also flowering, and yes a few daffodils are starting to fill out their buds. So spring is in the air.
The met office say spring starts on 1st March, but I prefer to use the vernal equinox, usually around 21st March (but I googled it, of course, and found that this year the vernal equinox is 20th March at 12.57pm EDT – don’t ask – just google if you want to know why!).

1st March is also the official release date of the second hexagon in The Hexagon Project 2014. Unofficially I released it yesterday afternoon – because it was already 1st March in some parts of the world! Oh my, I’m not sticking to any firm dates this year am I?
Here’s a glimpse of it:

Hexagon no 2
Hexagon no 2

It’s available on Ravelry if you like it. Some of my testers found this hexagon a little challenging and their comments and queries made me work hard at ensuring the pattern read well. It is fabulous having such good testers, it helps me improve my pattern writing, so I can’t thank them enough.

I’m looking forward to seeing some colourful versions of this hexagon, and maybe someone will choose sunny spring colours!

Happy crocheting xx

Start as I mean to go on…….

Wow!   Almost 2 weeks into 2014 already.  

I resolved to do more knitting this year and I think I have started well. 

I have been knitting cowls.  Why?  Well I am organising a coach trip to Wonderwool Wales in April and I thought it would be nice to design something to help occupy the time during the 3 hour journey.  For some reason I decided on a cowl, but it has to be something that you can knit without having to refer to the pattern too much (not recommended whilst the coach is in motion, it could induce travel sickness in some, me included!).  

It took me 3 attempts before I came up with a design I thought would suit.   The first 2 cowls were lovely but just did not fit the ‘coach’ criteria.  The third is perfect but I need to test it further.  So I have knitted 3 cowls already and I am halfway into my fourth.

These are the two I ‘rejected’:

Fields of Green Cowl
Fields of Green Cowl
Ridge and Spine Cowl
Ridge and Spine Cowl

They may be rejects for the coach but I love them, and I have published them.  You can find them on Ravelry.

I have also spent a bit of my time teaching myself to spin yarn…….but it will be quite a while before I share my spinning adventures!

Happy knitting xx

Seasons greetings!

I am sure everyone has been very busy preparing for the Christmas time holiday. But if any of you are still keen to squeeze in one last make before it’s too late here are a few ideas.

If you fancy one last minute decoration make hop over to Kerry’s blog to get the pattern for this:

Snowflake 2013
Snowflake 2013

On Kerry’s blog here:
http://oddmentsblog.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/crochet-tutorial-christmas-snowflakestar/

Make a curvy star for decoration or as a coaster

Curvy Star
Curvy Star

On the blog here:
https://agrarianartisan.com/2013/07/02/42/

Make a few small lavender sachets

Simple crochet scahet
Simple crochet scahet

Pattern on Ravelry here:
http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/simple-crochet-sachet

And some very quick knitted fingerless mitts

Easy Peasy fingerless mitts
Easy Peasy fingerless mitts

Pattern on Ravelry here:
http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/easy-peasy-fingerless-mitts-3

But don’t forget to find some time to put your feet up and just relax!

Seasons greetings and Happy New Year to all my readers xxxxx

Rainbows……….

I have been playing with colour a lot in recent months. It was all sparked off by Bohemian Rhapsody, that design just made me want to explore colour more. And I have been studiously sticking to my plan of making one block of Bohemian Rhapsody every 2 weeks. I have now completed 11 – only another 7 to go.

Inspired, I bought 2 packs of The Natural Dye Studio’s Dazzle HT in rainbow colours when I visited Wonderwool Wales. Most of one pack became a subtle colour exploration with the Wild Diamonds Wrap:

Wild Diamonds Wrap
Wild Diamonds Wrap

And I am now working on something with the remaining 6 colours which may take a while, so I won’t share that with you yet.

But my most recent colour work has now been revealed. It is a cowl made with a complete rainbow of The Natural Dye Studio’s Godiva HT, which is the most lusciously soft single merino yarn. You can find the yarn here: http://www.thenaturaldyestudio.com/godiva-ht-4-plyfingering-yarn-356-c.asp

What made this colour work most special was that the yarn was a present, totally unexpected and very welcome. I was feeling a little low and Amanda sensed I needed cheering up, so she sent me a pack in the post! I can’t tell you how wonderful a gift it was – 10 mini skeins of the complete rainbow, it came at just the right time and really raised my spirits. I can’t thank Amanda enough. So, of course, it had to be made into something beautiful. This is the result:

Rainbow's End Cowl
Rainbow’s End Cowl

You can’t tell from the photo just how soft this yarn is. But you can tell it gives good stitch definition and it blocks well; my uneven knitting now looks quite passable!

It is now written as a pattern and can be found in my Ravelry, Craftsy and Etsy web stores.

All this colour work has really boosted my creativity, and yet another colour project is on my hook right now! So there will be a few more colourful reveals in the not too distant future.

Happy knitting and crocheting xxx

An Anniversary…..

An Anniversary

In my last blog, I mentioned the special date of 27th August being the 1st anniversary of my Ravelry forum. I can now disclose the 2 designs made for that anniversary.

The Anniversary Sharf (knitting):

DSCF0981

And the Simple Circles Scarf/Wrap (crochet):

DSCF0955

If you are a member of Raverly, join my forum on there (Agrarian Artisan Designs), establish a project linked to one of the 2 designs above and tag it properly before 1st September 2013, I will gift the pattern to you via Ravelry….and then you can join in the fun, knitting or crocheting with other like minded folk 🙂

Happy knitting and crocheting xx

The Granny Square Blog Tour

If you have ever attended one of my workshops you will have heard me say ‘granny squares are like marmite’ because you either love ‘em or loathe ‘em. But whatever your views it seems granny squares are firmly embedded in the crochet world. Some people have very strong feelings about them, and some could not care less. So which are you?

I confess I used to hate them and I mean really hate them. Why? Well I think squares can be quite boring and I think the repetition of the design is, frankly, unexciting. And I had this view for many years.

In my teens I made a granny square blanket, it went to university with me part finished and I finished it in my first year. It came in very useful! But then I moved right on. And, I’m sorry to say, so did the blanket.

When formulating this blog I decided to have a look at what granny squares I had made recently and I was a little surprised. It seems in the last few months I have been making quite a few grannies:

Flower power cushion:

DSCF0803

DSCF0802

Pin cushion:

DSCF0683

Granny purse:

DSCF0916

Perhaps age has mellowed my views, but now I can see they have their uses and to me their primary use is, to put it simply, colour! Perhaps it is the regularity of the design, but they certainly enable everyone to experiment with colour and somehow bring out the rainbow in all of us. My current experimenting with colour is via Bohemian Rhapsody, perhaps not a true granny but lots of granny elements:

DSCF0840

Now you can experiment with colour in lots of way with crochet, and I absolutely adore the beautiful motif designs by Amanda Perkins – I think they enable more alluring colour experimentation and her blankets are just exquisite, to me so much more pleasing to my eyes than any granny square could be. Have a look at her blog here: http://amandascrochetblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/granny-squares.html she shows how beautiful crochet motifs can be.

The secondary use of granny squares is that they are simple, and thus they enable beginner crocheters to experiment with colour and make useful items with confidence. No-one is a beginner forever, so in time most crocheters do move on from grannies. However, I recognise that some do not – they love grannies so much they just keep making them! So be it – the world is big enough for everyone.

So I no longer hate grannies, I see they have their place in the crochet world. So this blog is part of a celebration of them – the ‘granny square blog tour’, which enables crocheting bloggers the world over to join in and have their say. If you have a blog and want to join in, then please comment on this discussion thread on Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/discuss/agrarian-artisan-designs/2646102/1-25#11

Next on the tour is the talented Tracey Todhunter, look out for her blog early next week: http://bakingandmaking.com/

Happy knitting and crocheting xxx

Glamorous………

There are some yarns I just love so much….kidsilk is one.   So when I spotted the new Rowan Kidsilk Haze Glamour yarn in John Lewis I just had to buy some.   It has tiny sparkley sequins threaded on the yarn – gorgeous!   This is what I made with it:

 DSCF0901

The pattern is called Glamour Wrap and is now for sale on Ravelry here http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/glamour-wrap, and will soon be added to Etsy and Craftsy.   Like most of my patterns, it is deceptively easier than it looks!  I love it and just wish it would cool down a little in the evenings so I can wrap it around my shoulders!

Happy knitting and crocheting

xx