Crochet Along: Floribunda Cowl

floribunda 3First of all, thank you to everyone who has responded and downloaded the free patterns for Woolfest. The Floribunda Cowl has proved especially popular. So, I wondered why don’t we croche tit along together? I’ll dive into my stash and find a suitable yarn (Or more likely be tempted into buying something gorgeous from one of the Woolfest vendors this weekend). I’ll take photos as I go along, so if you’re a new or nervous crocheter hopefully they’ll help you out if you get stuck. There’s no official start or finish day, just start hooking when you’re ready and let’s share our progress. You can post photos on Instagram using the hashtag #FloribundaCowl or #GrannyCoolCrochet and I’ll share them in my stories. I rarely host crochet alongs, so this is just a bit of fun for us all.

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Introducing the Farndon Scarf

Hello there! Issue 132 of Inside Crochet just landed on my doormat and I couldn’t wait to see how my latest design had been styled and photographed! I certainly wasn’t disappointed – the photos are fabulous. So, with permission of Inside Crochet I’m sharing a few here.

You can find the patern in issue 132 of Inside Crochet, which goes on sale this week. It’s filled with brightly coloured makes that are sure to bring a smile. I’ve already got my eye on a couple of sweaters in this issue and a cute pair of stripey mittens.

I used West Yorkshire Spinners Colour Lab DK for this design, it is has such a vibrant colour palette and it’s made with British wool, so even better in my opinion! I used a simple stitch, so all you need to worry about is remembering to change colour (and there are a LOT of colour changes)! I hope you like Farndon as much as I do, it’s certainly been getting lots of compliments on Instagram!

Felted Baubles

Another one of my very early designs for Inside Crochet, these felted baubles have become a Christmas tradition. I love to find new ways to decorate them. Hand stitched with beads or covered in sequins, they always look spectacular. Remember to use a natural fibre such as wool or mohair, not a superwash wool or they won’t felt.

Of course, you can make the same pattern in cotton yarn and just add more stuffing – they look great hung on the tree in jewel bright colours. I like to finish them with a couple of rounds of metallic thread for extra “bling”!

If you want to try making some for yourself, you can buy  the pattern on Love Crochet

Happy Birthday Rowan (review)

Rowan: 40 Years

40 Iconic Hand – knit designs

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To celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the iconic Rowan yarn Brand, this  new book celebrates the best of Rowan’s inspiring  magazine patterns. Beautifully presented with a combination of original images and new photos this is a fitting tribute to one of my favourite yarn and design companies.

The hardback cover features a collage of original front cover shots and brought back memories of the excitement I would always feel when a new issue arrived. When I worked in a yarn store, delivery day would result in a flurry of emails and phone calls “It’s here – I’ve put one aside for you” and anxious visits from regular shoppers who didn’t want to miss out on a sneaky peek at knit group. We would pore over the pages, spotting work by our favourite designers and discussing which patterns we would make. The Rowan magazine never disappointed, always inspired and frequently provoked debate. Each new issue pushed the boundaries and challenged our expectations about knitwear design, while at the same time offering enough wearable, desirable patterns to make us part with our cash and add each issue to our bookshelves.

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Rowan 48 will always be my favourite – it sold out quickly and I never managed to keep a copy for myself. “That” stranded colourwork, the styling, the effort that would have gone into knitting that dress – oh we all lusted after it and when customers brought in their scarves to show off, we would all find ourselves entranced once again with the skill and beauty of the design. Lucky for me (and for many other knitters), Kaffe Fassett’s beautiful Lidiya dress is included in this collection

It is Rowan’s ability to constantly surprise and enthuse knitters that makes it so enduringly popular. And while I was disappointed to find no crochet inside, the hours I have spent leafing through, spotting projects I’ve made for myself and planning a new cast on have been a joy. Take a look at this sneak peek on the Sixth and Spring website and see if you can spot your favourites.

The collection is introduced by Marie Wallin, for many years she was Rowan’s head designer and is responsible nurturing and encouraging  many of the designers who found themselves working at Rowan. Alongside some of her beautiful colourwork designs, you’ll find patterns by Kim Hargeaves, Louisa Harding, Sarah Hatton, Jean Moss and Martin Storey. Some designs have been reknitted in contemporary yarns and photographed in locations that reflect the beauty of each design. I pity the team that had the task of deciding what to leave out!

It’s often been said that Rowan designs are “timeless classics” and this collection proves that point, there are several designs that I knitted ten or twelve years ago – or even longer – that I would be happy to knit and wear again today. It’s also worth noting that many of the designers who began their careers with Rowan are still involved, still being inspired by Rowan’ beautiful colour palettes and yarns and it’s so lovely to see their work celebrated in this book.

This is a book that has definitely earned a place on my “most loved” list and it’s one I won’t part with. This is a book for all Rowan fans, lovers of fine yarns and anyone with an interest in textile design. Yes, the patterns are written in Rowan’s abbreviated style that assumes a working knowledge of knitting techniques,  and charts you’ll need to enlarge by several percentages to follow clearly. But,  they are always worth the effort.

The book is beautiful, the designs are stunning and the photography is everything you’d expect from Rowan. Buy this book, give it as a gift (and then shamelessly borrow it). Keep it somewhere you can find so you can pick it up and browse the pages. Choose one iconic design and knit it, then love it for years to come.

Book Details:

Rowan 40 Years is published by Sixth and Spring in hardback  and is available now.

Price £25

ISBN: 978640210288

 

Free Pattern Friday: All Buttoned Up Mittens

UPDATE JANUARY 2020

This pattern is no longer free. It can be purchased via the link from Ravelry. It will make an appearance at some point during 2020 as my “Friday Free Pattern” – look out for that on my Instagram stories, Twitter or my Facebook Page.

This week I wanted to put the spotlight on an old favourite. As we move into Autumn, these simple wrist warmers can be very useful. They can easily be stuffed in a bag or a pocket. Let’s be honest, the buttons are the real heroes of this project. It may take a bit of time to sew them on, but they do add a stunning finishing touch to a project designed for beginners. You can use any 4 ply or fingering yarn (please take the time to check your tension as it can be so disappointing to find your wrist warmers are too tight or too baggy). Each mitten uses about 100m of yarn and you’ll need 14 buttons.

Last autumn, I made myself a new pair using the Fibre Co.’s gorgeous Cumbria Fingering. It’s no secret, the Fibre Co. continue to produce some of my favourite yarns. I love the quality and the continuing commitment to natural fibres. This yarn is a blend of wool and mohair and is very robust, while still soft and comfortable next to the skin.

You can download the pattern from  Ravelry

 

Felting Feature in Inside Crochet

mavric purseIn addition to some great patterns, the new issue of Inside Crochet also features my article  on felting crochet. You’ll find lots of helpful hints and tips for beginners. I also designed three special projects to accompany the feature. My favourite is this pretty clip purse. The yarn was supplied by Lily Warne, a Dorset based, family company who source their wool from their own flock. I just love the colour palette. As many readers know, I am passionate about British wool and love to support British farmers and shepherds.  Lily Warne also sell a range of ready made items including festival blankets and hats. My favourite product in their range (apart from the wool – obviously) is this amazing pom pom – I have mine clipped to my keyring and it has been much admired. Come the winter, I might be tempted to sew it on to a big woolly hat!

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Do take a minute to go and visit the Lily Warne website, drool over their wool and read all about the other parts of their family business and in particular  the Dartmoor Shepherd.

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I’ll admit  I do have a bit of a soft spot for a freshly sheared sheep!

Credits:

Styling: Claire Montgomerie

Photography: Mavric Photography

Copyright: Tailor Made Publishing

Lily Warne Pom Pom and Dartmoor shepherd photos courtesy of Lily Warne

Thanks also to Julie at Bag Clasps, who supplied the perfect size clip frame for this project.

 

 

 

New Design: Floribunda Cowl

096Emily-high-resI am so thrilled to see this design finally published in the new issue of Inside Crochet Magazine. This pretty cowl is made from one simple motif, joined together using the “as you go” method, so no bothersome sewing up at the end. It uses just one ball of West Yorkshire Spinners sock yarn and gets softer and softer every time you wash it. I just love the colours of West Yorkshire Spinners and it’s 100% British wool, which is a bonus! Look out for Issue 89 of Inside Crochet – I have lots more designs in this issue to share with you – and the whole magazine is full of gorgeous, inspiring makes for summer.

Credits:

Photography: Leanne Dixon

Styling: Claire Montgomerie

Copyright: Tailor Made Publishing

 

100 Days of Wool: Cumbria

​Today I’m enjoying some early spring sunshine here in Cockermouth. I’ve declared the next 4 days a “work free zone” and I’m indulging in some projects just for fun. I found these two beauties in my stash, left over from some design work last year. It’s a gorgeous blend of wool and mohair. It washes beautifully (gentle hand wash please – it’s also a perfect felter!) I’m posting regular photos of my 100 days journey on Instagram, so don’t forget to follow me there or check back here for occasional highlights. 

Fyne Skinny Scarf

IMG_7011Today I wanted to talk about inspiration. Sometimes my design “mojo” disappears completely and I just sit and make granny squares or reach for a knitting project in garter stitch until inspiration returns. I know it will, but it’s frustrating not to be able to come up something new in time for a submission deadline.

This simple, but very elegant scarf pattern was published in the Christmas Gift Issue of Inside Crochet magazine last year. I fell in love with a single skein of naturally dyed Indigo yarn at  Woolfest last June and just has to make something special.  Often inspiration comes in the strangest of places and this design was formed as I sat on the beach in Scotland last summer. There were tiny  blue flowers growing on the rocks and I began to think about how a simple embellishment could be used instead of a fringe (I can never cut fringing neatly).  The main scarf is knitted in a simple repeating textured bobble, chosen because it was easy to memorise. This meant I could work on it  as we drove around the Scottish borders.

The yarn is 100% merino, not a British wool, but it was dyed in Scotland. You could substitute any 100g skein of 4 ply yarn. Choose a natural fibre with a beautiful sheen and the making will be as enjoyable as the wearing. You can buy the pattern on Ravelry. You can also find more of my single patterns for sale in the sidebar if you’re looking for some knitting and crochet inspiration. You can find the Border Tart online here or look out for her at various yarn shows throughout the year.

100 Days of Wool

Herdwick wool
Herdwick Wool, reared and spun in Cumbria, the colours inspired a hard wearing messenger bag. Often Herdwick is considered a “carpet wool”, too rough for garments. These are the qualities a functional bag needs so it was the perfect choice. And those colours? Well they sum up the Cumbrian landscape perfectly for me.

For a long time I’ve been visiting the 100 Days project website and love it’s invitation to be creative every day. The concept is to do something quick and creative every day. It’s been interpreted in many different ways, especially over on Instagram where lots of people are using it as a prompt to post images on a particular subject. This year I’ve decided to join in and use it as an excuse to share my love of all things wool and how working with natural fibres influences my design work.

So, for the next 100 days (give or take – I’m giving myself permission right at the beginning to falter, forget – or  simply lack inspiration) I’ll be writing here and on Instagram a series of posts and photos that celebrate all things wool, hopefully they’ll give you an insight to my design process.

I’ve cut and pasted some guidelines from the 100 Days project website here to give you an idea of what it’s all about.

Rules for doing a 100DayProject:
There are none other than doing something hands-on with your project everyday during the 100 days – even if it’s just 5 minutes on some days.

Guidelines…if some structure or an assignment are desired, here are some guidelines:

  • Center your project on one theme – it can be a broad as you like.
  • Commit to doing something hands-on each day for 100 days.
  • Keep it fresh, let it go where it takes you.
  • Flow is the key word here.
  • Don’t get caught up in quality.
  • Consider this a first draft in the creative process.
  • Relax your standards and expectations.
  • Find a buddy or start a group to share your experience with.

Would you like to join me? If you’re already pursuing your own 100 days project I’d love to hear about it. Or, if you know a creative who inspires you leave a link below.

 

 

On the Cover!

15085650_1266999010026114_3931670987280840634_nYep, that’s me – right there on the cover of this month’s Inside Crochet magazine – well not literally “me, but my design. I have worked with the Inside Crochet team for several years now and this is the first time one of my designs has been chosen as the main cover image. It was so exciting to see it for the first time.

The Cavendish beanie and wrist warmers are really quick and easy to make using Aran yarn. I used West Yorkshire Spinners Blue Faced Leicester Aran, which is gorgeous to work with. The set is sized from baby to adult, the model is photographed in medium (60 sts) which is a little big for me, but I have a small head. I’m sure that now the samples are back I’ll have no trouble finding a willing recipient for it!

Also in this issue, I have a super skinny scarf pattern which uses just one 400m skein of  luxury 4 ply (or you could use sock yarn). I’ll be back with photos of that soon and more about the lovely yarn I used.

Meanwhile, go check out issue 84 of Inside crochet, which is out now and full of gorgeous designs and quick makes for Christmas.

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New Crochet Pattern

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I am very pleased to say that I have just added one of my favourite cowl designs to Love Crochet and Ravelry online stores. The Linoleum Cowl first appeared in issue 73 of Inside Crochet and uses two of my favourite yarns from Eden Cottage Yarns. Askham and Milburn both have a silk content in combination with natural fibres (Askham has baby Alpaca and Milburn has Blue Faced Leicester), so they both have beautiful sheen and drape. The colours (and hence the name) were inspired by a photograph on Instagram of an old linoleum floor. The colours just looked so great I had to try and reproduce them in a design.

Over on Love Crochet I have suggested a few yarn alternatives as they don’t stock Eden Cottage Yarns, but you can always buy the pattern from them and then head over to Victoria’s website to buy the yarn – feel free to use the same colours I have or choose three balls from the same range – Milburn has some excellent colours to choose from – and the Blue Faced Leicester is British, so I have a particular soft spot for it. Askham’s blend of Baby Alpaca and silk makes it feel very luxurious and it is gorgeous to work with. If you’re looking for a different colour combination, I’d be tempted to choose Blossom and Air from the Askham range and Natural from Milburn to make a really feminine version. This is quite a speedy make, so if you’re looking for handmade gift ideas, this would be great.

I might also suggest that if you’re looking for a gift for a crocheter, then this pattern combined with three balls of Eden Cottage Yarns and a crochet hook, packaged together in one of Victoria’s beautiful project bags would be the perfect gift. (hint hint Todhunters – I’ve already mentioned a beautiful colour combo above).

Priced at £3.60 (inc VAT), the pattern is written in UK crochet terms and includes a chart for the motif used.

Happy Browsing x

Photo credit: Leanne Dixon for Inside Crochet

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