Friday, 30 November 2012

Book Review: Knit Your Own Scotland by Jackie Holt and Ruth Bailey

It's St Andrew's Day today so what better day to review my copy of 'Knit your own Scotland' by Jackie Holt and Ruth Bailey, published by Black & White Publishing.

It's a fantastic romp through all things Scottish, from the loch ness monster to a knitted Scotch Pie.

One of the things I noticed about this book is that the colours and yarn you use for each project is the same, so if you knit nessie then you can knit the bagpipes with some of your leftovers.

The book features fifteen characters from Scotland including William Wallace, Robert Burns, Bonnie Prince Charlie, Billy Connolly, Andy Murray, Nessie, a Scottish Terrier, Highland Cattle, Sheep, The Saltire, Bagpipes, Chocolate Teacakes, Scotch Whiskey and finally a big Scotch Pie.

The level of details in the knitted characters is fantastic. The face of William Wallace is brilliant and I have looked through the book many times already just marvelling at the dolls.

There are no knitting instructions apart from a guide to abbreviations at the back so make sure the person you buy this for has fully learnt to knit.

It's an excellent present for someone Scottish or anyone who is into novelty knitting. It will raise a smile on everyone's face.

My favourite project from the book is Robert Burns, followed closely by the Bagpipes and they will feature on my ever-growing list of things to knit.

You can buy 'Knit Your Own Scotland' by Jackie Holt and Ruth Bailey for the cut price of £7.40 here.

Thanks to Black & White Publishing for sending me this cool book to review.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Birthday Knitting

I wouldn't usually show a birthday present I'm in the process of knitting but I am very excited and my mum never reads my blog (except when I show her a post and she smiles and says "oh yes" while yawning!)

My mum turns 60 (she looks about 45 so no-one ever believes she wasn't a teen mum) five days before christmas so I asked her if there was anything she wanted me to knit or crochet her. I'm also adding a surprise to the present so I thought this would work quite nicely.

Initially she chose a shawl for bed but we looked at various patterns and we couldn't find any which were within my budget/skill level which she liked enough. So eventually she picked out a ball of King Cole Riot from my bag which I had just ripped after knitting a hat I didn't really want, and said she would like just a simple stocking stitch cowl to go with her winter coat. Which was very sweet of her as it's extremely simple. The camera has totally not picked up the beauty of the skein of yarn. It's gorgeous to knit with and I'm already halfway there.

As we all know stocking stitch curls a bit either side when there's no rib at the edge to tame it so I will make it about 4cm wider than her specified 15cm.

Are you knitting any gifts for christmas or thinking about it?

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Book Review: Norwegian Knitting Designs

'Norwegian Knitting Designs - A collections from Norway's Foremost Knitting Designers' by Norsk Strikkedesign is a stunning display of extraordinary knits.

This is definitely not, in my opinion, for the beginner knitter but aimed at the artistic adventurous crafter with the time and money to make individual highly detailed quality knits. One for the repressed fashion or art students amongst us.

The photography in the book is stunning. The designs of the clothes are so intricate as to take your breath away. It's a colourful display of the heritage of Norway.

There are some simpler accessories but they are light on the ground. Also the clothes are nearly all for women. There are 22 designs in total. There are 11 Norwegian designers who are as well known in Norway as Erika Knight and Debbie Bliss are in the UK.

There are two full pages of advice before you knit but it's not beginner friendly. There are five good hints and tips for multi-colour pattern knitting which knitters who are experienced will still find useful. There is a page or two before each pattern about the designer, their education and their achievements.

The designer of the sweater above was inspired by 'Harald Solberg's 'Winter night in Rondane'. The ornamentation originated with rosemaling on old chests together with Arabic ornaments. On the finished garnment, simple stars were embroidered in the night sky with contrast colours.' She is 'responsible for design and development of the brand TINDE, which was launched in 1998 and produces and sells knitwear collections in Scandinavia and parts of Europe.'

It's a very inspiring look at Norway through the eyes of their most talented knitwear designers.

You can buy 'Norwegian Knitting Designs - A Collection from Norway's Foremost Knitting Designers' by Norsk Strikkedesign from the Search Press website here.

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

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Seamless Knitting

Firstly I apologise for the poor quality of colour representation/lighting in these photos. I found my camera was incapable of picking up the purple in the wool which is a problem I haven't had before. I obviously need a new camera!

I wanted to share my first knitted hat which has been worked on circular needles! I'm very excited. It took a bit of practice as I was knitting with two strands of 4 ply on top of trying circular knitting for the first time. I watched a YouTube tutorial which told me to use a paperclip to mark the start of each round which promptly flew off on round ten which means I ended up attempting this hat about four times in total. Eventually I used a small safety pin which I moved up after knitting a round. It's a bit boring and purple but I love it and will be wearing the soft warm wool when the subzero temperatures arrive to prevent headaches!

It will be lovely having a hat which has no seam in it. It's already laying better and isn't rouching or pulling where the seam usually is. I'm a bit worried about how much wool I will have left for the pompom but I have an extra ball put back at the knitting shop in the same dye lot should I need it. If I do need an extra ball it will make it a £9 hat instead of £6 just for the sake of a pompom so I might think about that.

I've even gone and bought some double pointed needles to knit some toddler socks from the Knitting Basics book I was sent by Murdoch Books a few months ago. I'm sure with the aid of a YouTube video I will conquer this knitting fear too!

What knitting fears do you have? Cables? Intarsia? Knitting in the round?

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Book Review: 100 Snowflakes to Crochet by Caitlin Sainio

'100 Snowflakes to Crochet' by Caitlin Sainio is an excellent directory of snowflake patterns.

Not only is it a directory but Caitlin has added a story to each snowflake so you know where the particular type is to be found in the world and at what time of the year. My favourite is the 'Candle Ice' snowflake - 'This little snowflake might come to rest on a pile of Candle ice - lake or sea ice that has disintegrated into a pile of candle shaped cylinders.' If you are obsessed with patterns in nature you will definitely love this book. As a trained mechanical engineer Caitlin brings a scientific element to crochet.

She's also added ten pages of instructions from very basic crochet stitches to more advanced advice for when you have finished all the snowflakes and want to start designing your own.

They are organised in order of ease so if you are a beginner you can start with the first snowflake and work your way through the book. Even the most basic snowflakes at the start of the book are beautiful and well worth making even if you are an experienced crocheter. It's an ideal present for someone who is thinking of beginning crochet.

At the end of the book she has featured ten projects using the snowflake designs. This one is to make gift tags and cards with a nice clear white snowflake:

This project is to decorate cushions with the snowflakes. How beautiful are these cushions? I love the white cushion with maroon snowflakes. So simple but elegant.

And this scarf is adorable! It's so delicate and soft looking.

'100 Snowflakes to Crochet' by Caitlin Sainio is out now and is available here from Search Press.

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

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Patchwork harmony

It feels like a long time since I blogged.

I've been making loads for myself, enjoying the proximity of the main knitting shop to my current temp role and the christmas orders are starting to roll in.

I've been sewing the patchwork hexagons above together. It's the first time I've done patchwork and I'm pleased with my work so far. It's going well. Apart from one magazine template which must have been cut mid-sneeze considering its accuracy!

It's going to be a draught excluder - I got the idea from Mollie Makes.

Are you making anything wintery?

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