Thursday, 31 May 2012

Organic Hand dyed Scarf

OK. So we've just had a heatwave and it's so hot we're still sleeping without bedclothes. But it's a nice scarf, don't you think?

I got this wool as a treat for myself from Knit Wits in Penzance, Cornwall and it's very beautifully dyed.

Each hank is named after a town or village in Cornwall and my hank of Aran is called Porthgwarra. I couldn't decide what to knit it into at first but, after a couple of attempts, I decided to knit a triangular scarf in the spirit of the 'Ishbelle' on ravelry. This is a kind of shawl/scarf which is knitted as a massive triangle in lace. Hopefully my needle will take all the stitches before I reach the halfway point and begin to decrease with the second ball I wound.

I'll let you all know how it goes : )

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Ravelympics 2012 & Refuge

The campaign to raise funds and hand knit blankets for Refuge by Simply Knitting magazine managed to raise over £4,000 late last year.

I surprised myself by managing to finish a blanket for the charity. It was a lovely feeling when putting it in the envelope and sending it off. I've never felt that before and it was a special moment.

Simply Knitting announces on its website:

We believe in the work Refuge is carrying out to help these women and their children, so much so that we would like to call on you all again to help us support this great cause for a second year – and hit our new target of £10,000!

We’re hoping knitting groups and schools will contribute more knitted items this year, and we’ll be bringing you more patterns from top designers to inspire you. This year, we’ll also be running a design competition, with great prizes on offer for our favourite designs, so you’ll be able to show off your imagination and knitting skills too.
Further details of the campaign will be announced in an 'upcoming issue' of Simply Knitting so you will have to stay alert to find out more!

Personally I was wondering what I would cast on during the opening ceremony of the Olympics 2012 on the 27th July this summer. As part of 'Ravelympics 2012' on Ravelry you can join in with the mast cast on and cast off during the games. I wanted to use this to motivate me to charity knit so I'm looking forward to reading about the campaign in Simply Knitting.

I hope you will join the group too and think about what you would like to use all the telly viewing time to knit!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Book Review: Knitting Basics by Melody Lord

'Knitting Basics' by Melody Lord is an excellent first knitting book for those new to the craft.

It would also suit the intermediate knitter. There would be just enough to challenge the advanced knitter who may have leapfrogged any basics like purling, increasing, knitting in the round, cables, etc.

There are 15 chapters and at 271 pages it's a hefty book. All the introduction to knitting basics are here, like knitting needles, yarns, choosing and reading a basic pattern, how to change colours neatly, how to take care of your garment and how to mend.

The last two chapters are a brilliant addition. There's a whole chapter on felting and another on knitting machines which I hadn't expected.

There are also guides to knitting stitches such as the above guide to cables, and the guide to seaside stitches below which I loved.

Throughout the whole book there are patterns which you can attempt. There's a pattern for a lovely cowl, a hot water bottle cover, ribbed legwarmers, a beanie, basic patterns for a male and female jumper, a felted bag and belt, lots of fairisle pattern charts, a cushion, a purse, toddler socks, an iPod holder, a shawl and a cafitere cosy.

The book has a lovely welcoming feel as if all your silly questions will be answered and you might actually be able to grasp knitting and do very well at it.

Sometimes introduction to knitting books can be oddly illustrated or have strange photographs but this book is funky and up-to-date. It's enticing and relaxed while containing very practical and useful information.

You won't cast it aside when you've grasped the basics of knitting either, you'll refer to it over and over again.

You can buy a copy of Knitting Basicsby Melody Lord by clicking the link.

Thanks to Murdoch Books who sent me this copy to review.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Broken lavender hearts

I attempted to sew lavender hearts with the sewing machine a couple of months ago. They turned out OK but I sewed round the top of the heart by stopping the machine and turning which can make the corner look a bit rough in my view. There was no way, with my sewing machine skills still at beginner level, I was going to be able to continue sewing around the curve at full pelt. No way.

Also I was unsure of how best to sew the ribbon in at the same time as closing the two pieces of fabric in on itself for a neat edge when finished. I made eight hearts. It was really good practice with the sewing machine and hand sewing too.

Unfortunately the quality control manager within me wouldn't let me put them in my shop. I decided they were not of the right quality to sell. Perhaps I am too used to sewing with felt and not having to worry about 'hiding edges' or things looking messy. Felt hides a lot of sins but I love the look of fabric. It's so pretty and elegant.

So for now I will enjoy the hearts I made on my wardrobe doors. They will keep the moths away from my woollen winter coats along with my cedar cubes and I will rest a little easier.

Perhaps I'll make some square lavender sachets without any ribbon for my shop : )

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Book Review: Art in Felt & Stitch by Moy Mackay

'Art in Felt & Stitch' by Moy Mackay is a colourful splash of fleece, fibre and thread.

The book involves wet felting with wool tops and machine stitching on top of the picture created with it. The book has very clear instructions at the beginning and is excellent if you are thinking of starting to felt pictures.

There are six projects in the book with quite a few pages on each one and there is a very clear photographic step-by-step process to follow. What irritates me sometimes about art books is that they can show you how to draw or paint a complex picture and only show four stages. Suddenly they've finished the picture and you wonder how many stages they've skipped over while your picture looks nothing like the final shot in the book.

Moy has photographed each stage so if you are a beginner you won't feel lost or frustrated. Each layer is shown and you get a feel for what she has done in each step.

Moy explains her inspiration for using felt in the book:

"My 'felt paintings', as I call them, are [...] a way of placing the strokes of coloured fibres as one would place brushstrokes. The results are strikingly rich in colour and texture, and as my passion is for colour, there is a great deal of satisfaction to be had from working with this medium in this way."

If you love texture and colour I can't imagine why you wouldn't love this book. A three-dimensional soft intricate woollen picture looks amazing and can look more dramatic than an oil painting.

You can buy 'Art in Felt & Stitch' by Moy Mackay here on Search Press.

Thanks to Search Press for sending me this book to review.
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