Sunday, 23 July 2017

I Think I Have a Problem


It's inevitable: knitters have knitting books. I do, too, though not as many as I would like, and my collection is a mix of excellent resources, simple pattern books, and everything in-between. As a spinner, I also own a few books about wool and spinning techniques.

But there is an issue: I have all these books, but apart from looking at the pictures, I have read hardly any of them. I think I have a problem.

I love looking through my books and I should devote more time to some of them. When I find a new one, it goes one of two ways:

1. The mathematical daze: There is a lot I could learn from the book and I start reading about how to ensure perfect fit and use the formula to calculate this, that and the other, and my eyes just glaze over. I suspect it is the maths rather than anything else. Maths has never been my friend and just the sight of numbers makes me nervous.
2. Theory vs practice: I read the book, take everything in, and have a lot of theoretical knowledge - but I rarely put any of that knowledge into practice. This seems like a waste of time, although it is good to know that the knowledge is there should I ever need it.

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever get into one of my mostly unread books and tackle it properly. But what about you? Are you the better-read knitter? Is there a book you would never part with? Perhaps there's something I need to add to my shelf... and eventually read.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

What Are Your Bad Knitting Habits?

bad knitting habits

Let's be realistic: We aren't perfect and will have developed a few bad habits over our lifetime. This does not stop at knitting, I'm afraid, and there are certainly some things I know I should or shouldn't do, but I always find an excuse to go right ahead the way I always have. My inner, stricter Nadia is shaking her head at the mere thought right now. Are you guilty of any of these bad habits?

Not swatching

Guilty! I rarely ever knit a gauge swatch. Actually, I may only have done this for a jumper - at least I can't remember any other time. I just like to give it a go and hope for the best. If the fabric doesn't turn out as I'd like, I simply unravel it all and choose a different needle size. 

Ignoring the recommended needle size

As I rarely swatch, I usually start out with the recommended needle size printed on the ball band unless I know from experience that a particular yarn works best for me with different needles. Personally, I think that since our gauge is different from person to person, a recommended needle size isn't all that important. It is a good guide, however, if you are new to knitting or are using a yarn weight you are unfamiliar with. 

Not modfying knitting patterns

Why not personalise the fit of a garment or the look of an accessory? I often tweak a knitting pattern a little bit unless I am trying something totally new. It works well with things I have lots of experience with, such as socks. I know where I have to go off pattern to make them fit better. If I am not entirely happy with the look of something, I may change the stitch pattern as well. So I don't think that this is a bad habit, but it may well be one if you do it and always end up with something you dislike or which doesn't fit properly.

Not reading the pattern first

We should always, ALWAYS read a pattern through from beginning to end before even thinking about casting on. I don't take my own advice and it usually leads to problems down the line. Sometimes I will think I understand what's going on, only to find further on in the pattern that I misunderstood a stitch and ended up with something different entirely. That is very frustrating and can be easily avoided. Learn from my mistakes, people! Read first, knit later.

Not blocking your knitting

Always block your knitting! You've probably put a hell of a lot of effort into your work, so make it shine! Blocking your knits will make the fabric more regular and even out the tension. It will also make the stitch pattern pop and you can adjust the fit and size as needed. Luckily, this is something I have always done because I started out knitting a lot of lace. Without blocking my shawls, they would have been tiny, shriveled hankies instead.

Not washing your knits correctly

Again if you have put in all this effort to create something beautiful, why ruin it by not taking care of it? There are lots of wool washes available nowadays and it is worth giving them a go to find what works best for you. These special wool washes won't hurt the fibres so you will be able to enjoy your finished object for a long time. My favourite is Soak, which comes in an unscented and several scented varieties. I am very partial to Celebrate and also use it to wash lingerie that I don't want to risk putting in the washing machine. 

What's your worst habit, do you think? I'm looking forward to hearing about it.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

My Favourite 10 Blogs to Follow

10 knitting blogs to follow

If you're like me, you'll have a list of favourite knitting blogs you return to regularly. A while back I started using Boglovin' to read them all in one place so I don't miss anything.

Because I love discovering new bloggers all the time, I'm going to show you my list of favourite blogs. It's not a complete list by any means, but the bloggers you find here are the ones whose posts I read most frequently at the moment. Let me know in the comments what you think I should add to my reading list!

So here we go. In no particular order:


1. Libby from New Zealand blogs, designs and records podcasts at Truly Myrtle and I just love listening to her. She has a fantastic way of speaking to you through her recordings that feels very personal and authentic. There is always something interesting to learn, be it about her life in New Zealand (the most beautiful and varied country I have ever visited), her designs, sewing and knitting projects, interviews, and latest yarn purchases. If you like audio-podcasts, give this one a listen.


2. Many of you will know Louise from Knit British. While I really enjoy her audio-podcast, the recordings are very long (roughly an hour) and I don't always have the time or attention span to listen every time a new one goes live. However, the podcast is always packed full of information about British wool and very educational.


3. Knitted Bliss is a varied blog by Julie from Canada. She posts about all sorts of things and structures her posts around set topics such as Modification Monday, Pin Ups, and Wee Wednesday. My favourite is Pin Ups which contains links to all kinds of interesting blog posts and articles. I have tried a few of the pinned recipes, for instance, and a few more are in the pipeline.


4. Mochimochi Land is so popular that it has a loyal following and it's easy to see why! The tiny knits are cute and quick to make. One of the best things about Anna's work is the fun ways in which she turns her little knits into animations. You may even have come across them as GIFs on social media - I like using them during #knittinghour on Twitter, for instance. The site has free patterns, too, in case you want to give them a go.


5. Scottish blogger Elise mainly blogs about knitting and her latest charity shop purchases on Elise and Life. Her blog is a fashion and lifestyle blog of a different kind. It feels more real, more authentic and not at all pretentious. Lately, Elise has been adding her own videos to some posts and I always look forward to what she's going to write about next.


6. Dive into knitting in the Netherlands with Woollen Wilderness. This blogger is a fast knitter and it's not at all unusual for her to post several FOs at once. She has an eye for colours and designs that suit her and there are always new patterns to discover. Whenever I see what she is working on at the moment, I go and search for the patterns and want to cast on something new. 


7. Skipping back across to Canada, we have Yarn Harlot blogging about all things knitting. This is a good blog for those who like to see what others are currently making and who enjoy reading more than just a few lines in a picture-heavy post. I read this blog occasionally and it has a large following.


8. Amanda from OwlPrintPanda designs knitwear and I particularly enjoy her photography and easy-to-read posts. She isn't posting that frequently at the moment, but when a new post goes live I always look forward to it. 


9. Becca from Knit Happens is the only blogger on the list I knew in person before I knew her as a blogger. We used to be in the same knitting group until I stopped going altogether and Becca moved. She knits and crochets and has designed a few patterns, too. The blog is updated whenever there is something new to post, so a great occasional read.


10. Not all blogs I follow are craft related, though. I've been following Seasalt With Food for some years now. I like the Asian recipes and straightforward videos. I have cooked quite a few things posted there and many have become firm favourites. If you love your food, too, check this one out!

Sunday, 25 June 2017

6 Ways to Get Your Knitting Mojo Back

Knitter's block? I know the feeling. Sometimes we just don't feel like knitting even a single stitch. This may be because we've knitted a lot lately and just need a break or because life gets in the way and we can't seem to switch off and relax. Whatever the reason, if you're having a hard time getting back to your favourite craft, there are a few things you can do to help you get your knitting mojo back.

1. No pressure

Easier said than done. When you know it isn't normal for you to not be knitting, you do put a lot of pressure on yourself. This just makes things worse and won't help you get back in the mood. So don't feel bad about it. Just do other things you enjoy doing and return to knitting when you feel like it again. Nobody is keeping score. You will find that changing up your routine actually frees your mind so that you can pick up your hobby with renewed energy later on. You deserve a break anyway, right?

2. Browse patterns

Maybe all you need is a little bit of inspiration to get those creative juices flowing. There's nothing quite like browsing knitting patterns or looking at what other people have been making to realise how much you miss creating something with nothing more than two sticks and some yarn. It's similar to what happens when I haven't written anything for a while and I read a poem or a book: Suddenly I feel that drive again, a longing to put pen to paper. Getting back into knitting isn't any different. So have a look around, go through your knitting books, browse Ravelry's huge pattern database and other knitters' projects and you will wonder why you ever stopped. 

3. Stash dive

Similarly, having a look at your stash might whet your appetite. I am sure that, like me, you have some hidden treasures in those boxes that you forgot you even had. I still have some pretty yarns from my first yarn shows and every time I come across them, I want to cast on something new. It never fails! If nothing else, a stash dive may lead to a little spring clean, which isn't a bad thing either. You can finally get rid of that yarn you know you are never going to use anyway because the colour is terrible, it feels awful, and what were you even thinking?

4. Sort your WIPs

Do you have a WIP or two (or ten) lying around all over the place, just waiting to be finished? Gather them all together, have a look at what's in those project bags and baskets, and perhaps you'll find something that you feel you really want to work on again. Even better if those are small projects that you know you won't have to commit to for long. This helps you stay motivated after a break. This is also the reason I have not yet dived back into my jumper and am plodding along with a pair of socks.

5. Go to your local knitting group

If you can't find inspiration while on your own, how about meeting up with your local knitting group? Bring a little project with you just to keep busy, but focus on your fellow knitters. After all, this is a relaxed social gathering and it gives you the opportunity to ask for ideas and see what others are working on or what yarns people are enjoying right now. There's bound to be lots of chat about what to knit next, what's just come off the needles, and what yarns were just too irresistible to leave behind in a shop. Embrace the community and the knitting will happen!

6. Just do it

Right. Maybe nothing you've tried has worked or you don't like the thought of being sociable and joining a group. If you are absolutely sure you need to knit again even though you don't feel like it right now, there's nothing for it: Just do it! Sometimes we only realise how much we like some things once we've started them, so there is a chance that once you've knitted a few rows, you'll find that you are rather enjoying it. The very disciplined among us will persevere, I'm sure, while others may knit a bit, only to put the needles down again for a while. And that's okay. You can't force it and, to be honest, as in all things creative, I don't think you should. If you don't feel like it, don't knit. You'll come back to it eventually. Needles and yarn are patient friends.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Knitting Inspiration: Unicorn Edition

Unicorn knitting patterns

Our love of unicorns shows no sign of abating! No surprise, then, that there are loads of knitting (and crochet patterns) available for us crafty people who want more rainbows in our lives. This week's knitting inspiration is all about unicorns and I have put together my top 4 patterns for you. Check them out now:

1. This unicorn hat is all kinds of awesome. The horn, the hair, the pompoms - it's perfect! If you love fun accessories that draw attention, then this is for you. The super bulky yarn (suggested: Malabrigo Rasta)  ensures that it is a quick knit. Embellishing the hat looks like a lot of fun, too.

2. If you're more of a mitten knitter and love stranded knitting, these Chance and Comet mittens just have to make it onto your to-do list. There are instructions for adult and child-size mittens, so you can make a pair of these for the whole family, if you fancy.

3. Am I the only one tempted to knit toys even though I don't really have any use for them? No? Good. Spark's Pony pattern is available on Etsy. Not only can you knit your very own pony or unicorn, you can even make your own Pegasus! Three patterns in one? Not bad at all.

4. Oh well. It's probably too late to warn you now. The Magical F-Unicorn is not a glove pattern as such. Instead, these instructions show you how to embellish gloves with a unicorn. Giving someone the finger has never been more satisfying!

Are you tempted? My favourite is definitely the unicorn hat - and I bet people who know me wouldn't be surprised if I turned up with one in winter. What would you make?

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Spinning Wheel Spotting in Torquay

Tiny decorative spinning wheels in the window

It's been quiet over here lately - I've been on holiday. Shamefully, there was no knitting even though I took my own advice to heart and took a WIP with me. And yet, I knitted not one stitch and my project bag stayed in the suitcase.

We went to Torquay and spent a few hours visiting Cockington Village to see the thatched cottages and have some afternoon tea. At the Weavers Cottage Tea Shoppe, I immediately spotted the spinning wheel in the fireplace. This was the place for me! There were also tiny spinning wheels in the window, which I thought were a nice touch. It was a lovely little tea room and I was thoroughly confused by the frequent mention of my name in the kitchen. No, I am not famous. One of the ladies just happened to have the same name. That doesn't happen often at all and felt quite odd.

I shall leave you with this spinning wheel for now. Tomorrow is my first day back in the office and I wished I was still at the seaside. Have a good week!


Sunday, 28 May 2017

5 Tips For Your Summer Holiday Knitting

5 Tips For Your Summer Holiday Knitting
Image source

We’ve had a very hot week here in the UK even though the Bank Holiday weekend, of course, is a bit overcast and we’ve even had some thunderstorms. So instead of enjoying our first ever BBQ of the year with our first ever BBQ grill, I have been thinking about holiday knitting. Not holiday as in Christmas (despite my working on a Christmas project right now), but holiday as in summer, sun and beaches.

I don’t know about you, but I love the seaside and I miss it terribly here in the city. So I am especially excited that we will be going to the south coast again next month and I don’t even really care too much about the weather we may have there. The most important thing is that I can dip my feet into the sea again and, if I am lucky, I may also get to have a swim (unlikely, but you never know).

So with the approaching holiday, I have been thinking about whether to take any knitting with me at all. I will only be away for a few days and I am sure we will have enough to do so I won’t have the energy to knit much. Still, I will be on the train for a few hours there and back and having a knitting project with me just in case is probably a very good idea.

Choosing what to take with you isn’t always easy, so here are 5 tips to help us knitters decide what to take with us on a summer holiday by the sea. Let me know in the comments what else you think should be on the list!

1. Choose portable projects

Unless you’re planning a road trip and have enough space around you on the journey, a small knitting project is the most practical way to go. Nobody likes having to keep their elbows close to them when knitting and seat neighbours on trains, planes and coaches won’t be too happy about being jabbed with needle ends every so often either. So keep this in mind and take a project with you that doesn’t take up too much room. Anything that can be worked on circular needles is even better because you are less likely to drop them and having to crawl around on the floor to find them again.

2. Stay away from chunky knits

Unless it is a very small project such as a hat, it makes sense to not bother with chunky yarn in a warm climate because your hands will get very hot and sweaty very quickly. You won’t want to have something so warm heaped on your lap either, I expect. And that reminds me: Make sure to stay hydrated! We do get so engrossed in our craft that we aren’t aware of how time flies. I can’t even tell you how often I made a pot of tea, sat down with my WIP and totally forgot to drink any of it until it was completely cold. So have a drink within reach (and within sight) so you remember to stay hydrated. Any excuse for a nice cocktail by the pool, I suppose!

3. Leave your treasures at home

It may be tempting to bring one of your most precious yarns with you, but if you are in a salty, sandy environment like a beach it’s probably not the best choice. Take something along that you won’t mind getting a bit of sand on even if you have all intentions of being careful with your knitting. Things happen, you drop something, spill sunscreen on things, a gust of wind blows sand about… You’ll be glad you’ve taken a yarn with you that you can be sure can cope with it and can be washed without fuss. Think a WIP you won’t mind flinging aside for a quick dip in the sea.

4. WIP it

A holiday is the perfect excuse to get on with that WIP you just can’t seem to finish. If you’ve been procrastinating, simply haven’t had the time or haven’t been in the mood to work on something you started, this is the time to take it with you and get it done. To keep you from procrastinating even more, try not to take too many other tempting knits with you or you’ll end up choosing those over your long-term WIP. If all you have with you is that one WIP you’ve been neglecting, you just can’t avoid it any longer.

5. Remember your notions


It’s easy to forget that once you’ve finished the actual knitting part of your project, there’s still some more work to do. There’s the often dreaded weaving in of threads that comes to mind immediately. So if you plan to properly finish your WIP on holiday, remember to at least take scissors and a darning needle along. Your project may also require stitch markers, so make sure you have some with you just in case. Keep them all stored somewhere safe like a box or zipped case that won’t open if you happen to drop it or someone knocks it over. Again, don’t take your best notions along if you can in case you lose them for some reason. 

Happy knitting and enjoy your holidays!

Sunday, 21 May 2017

The Wedding Countdown: Knitted Ring Cushion

Knitted ring cushion using King Cole Bamboo Cotton

It's only 4 months to the wedding and I, for one, think time is passing far too slowly. I want to marry Mark now! Then again, what are a few more months after 10 years, eh? 

Our wedding preparations are nearly all done. We have the suppliers, the venue, insurance, the registrar, and most decorations. The last few things we need luckily aren't time sensitive, so we can relax now. It's surprising how few of the decorations are handmade, but I decided I'd rather not stress about things. Still, there will be a few handmade touches, of course, including my beautiful wedding shawl.

Mark's mum has also been busy knitting for the wedding and made me a bag for the day. I suggested it because brides tend not to have pockets to keep anything in and I am sure I may need a tissue at some point that evening! 

She also surprised us with this ring cushion in the same colours of the bag and my wedding shawl. Isn't it lovely? It is made from King Cole Bamboo Cotton, finished with a sewn lace border, two ribbons and embroidery. It's hard to tell from the photos, but this cushion is quite big. It will take pride of place at the wedding, though we probably won't be able to use it during the ceremony because we already had something else in mind. (Unless that goes wrong, which it might because it is something I want to add some finishing touches to.)

Did you make anything for your own wedding or a friend's? I'd love to hear about it (and maybe get a few more ideas). 


Saturday, 13 May 2017

Knittin' In Britain: An Infographic

Knitting in Britain YouGov Results Infographic

Welcome to my first ever infographic! I love a good infographic because it can present a lot of information in a concise and visually appealing manner. Knittin' in Britain contains information from YouGov about our favourite hobby. I have to say I was surprise by the very precise conclusion that the average knitter likes a slice of coffee and walnut cake. If that is true, I am not your average knitter - but then again I am also not 55 years old.

I hope you enjoy the infographic! Is there anything in it that surprises you?

Saturday, 6 May 2017

King Cole Zig Zag 4-Ply

King Cole Zig Zag 4-ply Bilberry Pie yarn review

This may be the longest pair of socks I have ever knitted - and by that I don't mean that they are knee socks. It's just taking me a very long time to knit them and I am still on the first sock of the pair! 

I was sent yarn by Laughing Hens who gave me this King Cole Zig Zag 4-ply in the Bilberry Pie colourway. As you can see, it knits up in stripes, some of which are patterned. Unlike the name, you do not get any zig zags, though. The colours go well together, I think, and even though this kind of patterned sock yarn isn't my cup of tea, these socks will make a great present for someone else.

The yarn knits up well and feels like your average sock yarn that will wear well and not cause any trouble. If you like sturdy, reliable sock yarn, this is a good choice. Especially knitters who prefer knitting vanilla socks, but want features to add interest to the plain pattern, should have a look at this yarn. Choose your favourite colour combination and give it a go! 

King Cole Zig Zag 4-ply Bilberry Pie yarn review

I am knitting a pair of socks from this yarn as a Christmas present. You can never start to early! However, I thought I'd have finished them by now. I wish I had more time to knit lately, but you know how it is. Luckily, there is lots of time till Christmas so these socks will get done. I'd love to do a bit more Christmas knitting - and then there is still that jumper I have been wanting to knit for ages.

Let me now if you have used King Cole Zig Zag before and what you think of it. Do you like patterned yarns or do you prefer others?

Disclosure: This yarn was sent to me free of charge by Laughing Hens in exchange for a review. My opinions are impartial and honest and I do not receive monetary compensation for my post.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Knitting & Crochet Inspiration: Sweet Treats

Knitting and crochet inspiration

After some very mild weeks we have suddenly had a few colder days again, but this doesn't stop me from looking forward to sunshine and proper spring weather. It does make me hesitate to leave the house without a scarf and hat, though. Time for an edition of knitting and crochet inspiration that is full of sweet treats!

1. Luckily, the cool temperatures don't mean you need to stay away from ice cream. Thanks to Melanie Berg's Ice Cream and Soda Mitts, you can enjoy them all you want without your hands freezing. The great thing is they're easy to knit and ideal for beginners. Give them a go!

2. If you are as much of a fan of ice cream as I am, but need to pace yourself, perhaps crocheting some ice cream cones in lots of flavours will keep away the cravings for a little bit longer. This free pattern is perfect for crocheters wanting to use up leftover yarn in a variety of colours. 

3. Aren't these little cotton candy buddies the sweetest you've ever seen? Just ignore that they are described as Christmas decorations - they are perfect for anything you may have in mind for them. I especially love how fluffy they are, an effect created by brushing the finished crocheted form.

4. Your Ice Cream Shawl will keep away the cool wind sweeping through our parts lately. Lace lovers will enjoy the delicate pattern and as far as I can see, the repeats should be easily memorised after a few rows. Like many of today's patterns, this one is free.


Sunday, 23 April 2017

The Making of a Unicorn


Unicorns are everywhere these days and as I work with a unicorn-mad colleague, I often hear about the latest unicorn-themed recipes, smoothies and other weird products. In turn, I send her the latest info on unicorn products from Germany and translate recipes she might like. "It's all happening in Germany," she keeps saying because there seems to be no end to unicorn chocolates, drinks and even, as I recently discovered, sweet-scented toilet paper with unicorn print. Why we need any of that, I don't know, but it's fun!

So when I heard that Simply Knitting published its latest issue with a unicorn knitting kit, of course I had to buy it for her. Over Easter I kept my needles busy with a creature that actually came out looking the way it should. (Apart from a problem with different lengths of hair, but that sorted itself out in the end.) It worked so well that I plan to knit another one for myself sometime.

I was really excited to give the toy to my colleague, but I had to wait for three very long days because problems with the trains meant she couldn't get to work till the end of the week. I placed the unicorn on her desk while she was away and fashioned a little diary for it, complete with entries about how it was looking forward to meet her.

And of course she loved it! She'd been feeling down lately, which I didn't even know, so the unicorn came just at the right time. As I said, it's a magical creature. It comes to you just when you need it. Feed it Skittles and it will keep you company for a long time.


Sunday, 16 April 2017

Happy Easter! Have a Unicorn


Wishing you all a wonderful Easter break! 

Do you get crafty over Easter and paint eggs, too? This is a tradition I have kept up so every year I colour some eggs, usually with dyes from Germany. There is quite a variety of dyes and I like to have a little stash ready for the next few years. 

This year I used pastel dyes you dissolve in a mug with water and vinegar. Just drop the boiled egg in carefully, wait till it has the desired colour, and remove it. I wanted to try something different this time and decided to turn my eggs into unicorns. I was inspired by these beauties. Once I located the glue gun I only ever use once in a blue moon, I was ready to give it a go.

I used tin foil to make the horns, a leafy gold ribbon to make ears, scrap yarn in various colours to make the hair, and some colouring pens for the faces (felt tip for the eyes and pencils for the cheeks). 

I have to admit I absolutely love them! This could have gone disastrously wrong! My favourite is the blue one with pink hair. There are six of these unicorns in total and I am very proud of them.

Happy Easter!


Sunday, 9 April 2017

Giveaway: British Wool Show 2017


Are you itching to visit the British Wool Show this year? This is your chance! I'm giving away ten tickets - yes, 10! - to Absoknittinglutely followers.

A few years ago I had a great time at the show. Back then it took place in York, but the show has moved a little further north in Yorkshire. It's still the same show with a variety of vendors selling everything for your woolly needs and the Sheep Show Man is back, too. I highly recommend seeing him and his dancing sheep.

There will be a shuttle bus to pick up visitors from Thirsk railway station and Market Square, so don't worry if you don't have a car. I used the shuttle bus service last time and it was very convenient. It was a lovely day out.


The details


When:
Saturday, 8 July 2017 from 10:00-17:00
Sunday, 9 July from 10:00-16:00


Where:
Thirsk Rural Business Centre
Blakely Lane, Thirsk
North Yorkshire
YO7 3AB


Further information:
(This is also where you can buy tickets if you prefer not to join in this giveaway.)

Follow:
You can find the British Wool Show on Facebook and Twitter to keep up-to-date.


Win the tickets


Tickets are valid for a day of your choice. In order to win tickets for the British Wool Show 2017, you need to do one of the following:

1. Leave a comment on this blog post and let me know how many tickets you would like and why. Please also let me know how I can contact you if you win (such as social media handle or your own blog). Do not leave your phone number or email address as they will be visible to everyone.

OR

2. Follow me on Twitter and reply to one of my tweets to let me know how many tickets you would like.

OR

3. Reply to my giveaway post on Facebook and let me know how many tickets you would like.

OR

4. Comment on my Instagram post about this giveaway and let me know how many tickets you would like.


Please note


You will get only one entry, no matter how often or where you take part in this giveaway.

The giveaway will run till 30 April 2017. I will notify the winners via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or your blog, depending on how they entered.


Good luck, everyone!

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Samite Silk Blend (AKA: Of Course There's Room In My Stash)

Blacker Yarns Samite Silk Blend


And here I thought I was safe from impulsive yarn purchases. (Cue hysterical laughter from knitters around the world.)

Blacker Yarns have tempted me with their brand new Samite Silk Blend which impressed me not only with the fact that it contains silk, one of my favourite materials to knit with, but with its pre-Raphaelite colours. The yarn consists of 30% Blue-faced Leicester, 40% Shetland, cruelty-free 20% Ahimsa silk, and 10% fibre from Blacker’s own Gotland flock.

I had a difficult time choosing colours and had to think hard about what I would use the yarn for. I have lots of single or double skeins for shawls in my stash, so I didn't want to add to them. In the end I decided I could use Samite to knit a short-sleeved top for spring and autumn (and possibly cooler summer days). Wisely, I did not think about when I would actually get around to knitting it. (Ignore the half-finished first jumper of mine, please.) This 3-ply yarn should be ideal for a light top: it has drape, feels cool to the touch, and the silk keeps it from being too woolly. To me it feels like a summer yarn, actually.

Blacker Samite 3-ply yarn

In the end, I chose colours that deviate from my usual choice. I picked Peacock's Neck (blue), Swallow's Soar (light blue) and Tide of Dreams (sage green). Admittedly, the colours looked a bit more vibrant to me on the site, so I was a little disapointed with them. Maybe I should have stuck with my favourite colours after all, but these will knit up nicely into a multicoloured top. 

Even though I know I want to knit a top, I don't actually have a suitable pattern. I scoured Ravelry and couldn't find anything I liked in my size, so I may improvise a bit. I would like to add some chevrons to the design, using the light blue and sage green on a blue background. This could get interesting! 

Stick around for a few years and I am sure you will see the results. Well, okay, I shall try to hurry, but there's still that jumper to finish first.

Blacker Yarns Samite in three shades

Did you get your hands on Samite, too? What do you think of it and, most of all, what will you knit? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Nothing Better Than Yarn and a Cup of Tea


The sun is shining and spring is in the air. Sunday is my lazy day so what could be better than squishing some yarn and having a cup of tea? 

You may have read the review of my silver hank of Puyu recently. Amano, the company that created this yarn, saw my review and loved it so much that they got in touch with me and sent me two hanks in a lush caramel as a thank you. All the way from Peru! I am very grateful for this lovely surprise. They even included a mug because not only do they understand our love of knitting, but they also realise that a good mug of tea makes the world a little better - at least for a while.


I plan to use the silver and caramel to knit a fluffy hat for next autumn and winter. I feel like doing a bit of colourwork so watch this space! The caramel should look lovely as a colour accent amid the silver. A Scandinavian star pattern or some chevrons will probably look best - and there must be a pompom, of course. I will have a look around Ravelry before I cast on, but if there is nothing suitable, I still have some stitch libraries to go through on my book shelf.

If you are wondering what I am drinking, it's a black tea with mango that I ordered from my favourite German tea shop, Tee Gschwendner. It's called Mango Indica and I totally forgot I still had some of it here. Today felt just like the kind of day for my favourite cuppa.


This mug is simple and pretty at the same time. I really love the illustration showing a woman looking towards the Andes. This art work is typical of the Amano brand and you can see it on their website as well as on the yarn labels. I didn't mention it in my review, but the pretty cloud illustrations on the Puyu labels complement the squishy wool and add to the overall impression of rich, covetable yarn.

In a way, the illustrations carry with them an air of the unfamiliar, in a good way. They feel Peruvian and create a yearning for this country most of us are unlikely to ever see for ourselves. By knitting with this yarn, it's almost as though you are knitting a piece of Peru into your life. And that, to me, is a wonderful thought.



Sunday, 19 March 2017

Knitting & Crochet Inspiration: Citrus Edition

Fruity knitting and crochet patterns

Spring is coming! While the mild weather of last week has been replaced by a biting cold wind today, there's no denying that spring is on its way. The first flowers are beginning to blossom and I finally got a chance, albeit briefly, to ditch my heavy winter coat. This got me thinking about spring knits and I came across a wonderful citrus sock pattern that just screamed sunshine. So here's a selection of citrus patterns to get you in the mood.

1. These Citrus socks by Anna Bergman are amazing! I saw them pop up on Instagram, originally, and I love them. Sadly, the pattern is only available in Swedish as far as I can see, but I just had to share them with you because they are beautiful. If you come across an English translation, please let me know and I will be happy to add it.

2. Something for the crocheters among us: Purl Soho's Fruity Trivets and Pot Holders are quick to make and useful kitchen helpers. They not only come in the colour of lemons and oranges, so you have a lot of choice here. There's even a link to knitted versions if that's your jam.

3. I know that I often neglect crochet, so here's a second crochet pattern for you! This lemon stress ball is also quick to make and looks like a lot of fun. If you don't want to use it as a stress ball, why not knit up a few and arrange them in a bowl instead? Blogger and crafter Claireabelle has included a video in which popular crocheter Twinkie Chan shows you how to make your own lemon - and how not to fill it.

4. Kelli Slack's Tropical Citrus Shawl is a wonderful shade of orange and will brighten up any grey day (and let's face it, such days are far more common here in the UK than we would like). The shawl features lace that looks like it is full of oranges, but there are also small cables to add interest. 

What patterns have caught your eye recently? Let's get ready for some spring knitting!

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Amano Puyu: Yarn As Soft As a Cloud

Amano Puyu alpaca silk yarn for knitting and crochet

Sit back, relax and imagine what it would be like to knit a cloud - because that's what it feels like when you cast on to knit with Amano Puyu, a beautiful Peruvian chunky yarn made from 70% baby alpaca and 30% mulberry silk. In the native language of the Incas, puyu means cloud, and the name is absolutely perfect.

This new yarn is incredibly light and soft and comes in a small number of natural shades. I have the silver colourway (3007) that reminds me of rain clouds. It is very pleasant to knit with and I am intrigued by the way it has been constructed. I say constructed, because this yarn has not been spun the conventional way: First, the silk is spun into a tube into which the alpaca is introduced by puffs of air. No wonder it feels so light! This process also explains why I enjoy knitting with this yarn despite it consisting mainly of alpaca.

Peruvian alpaca yarn with silk

You see, I don't actually like alpaca because it feels very unpleasant while I knit with it. I can't explain what it is, but the yarn doesn't seem to glide along as well. If there was a tactile equivalent to that awful squeaky chalk on a blackboard sound, then it would be alpaca. 

However, Puyu is beautiful and I can't wait to knit up a little something with it. Each skein contains only 50 g (75 m), so I think a hat may be all I can make with a single skein. The chunky yarn is the ideal weight for such a project so I shall give it a go. 

Washing wool with Soak wool wash

To test this yarn, I knitted a large gauge swatch with the recommended 9 mm needles, gave it a wash with Soak and then gently blocked it. I prefer slightly denser fabric, so going down a needle size would have been perfect for me, I think. Still, with 9 mm the result is lovely and soft and very drapey. 

In fact, I think the best thing to make this yarn is a large, sweeping, chunky shawl to keep you warm in autumn and winter. The drape would be wonderful in such an accessory and yet it would feel wonderfully light. I am very tempted, I have to say! Whatever you decide to knit with this wool, the yarn itself will be the star of the show. No need for fancy patterns; all you need is a layer of this fabric to surround yourself in a lovely cloud of warmth.

Alpaca and silk yarn that feels like a cloud

For yarn snobs like me, Puyu is a must-have. This is a high-quality yarn, there's no doubt about it. At £16.95 for 50 g it isn't within everyone's budget, I know, but if you want to spend some saved-up cash on a treat, I do recommend Puyu. It is something very special and quite different.

Disclosure: This yarn was sent to me free of charge by Laughing Hens in exchange for a review. My opinions are impartial and honest and I do not receive monetary compensation for my post.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

The PussyHat Effect: EU Edition



I know, I know. I said I probably wouldn't need to talk politics on this blog again after my PussyHat post, but of course life always has other plans. 

Being an EU migrant in the UK, impending Brexit is causing a lot of insecurity about my future here - and, as a consequence, the future of my fiancé as well. Should I have to leave, either because the Home Office tells me to or because the government makes life extremely difficult by removing eligibility for NHS treatment, benefits or pensions, I and many others like me will take our British spouses, British children and British money with us. It angers me that there are more protests against Trump than against our treatment in this country.

The visibility of existing protests is missing in the media as well. In the meantime, savvy knitters have started to counter the invisibility in their own way by adapting the PussyHat pattern to suit their needs. In a previous post I added a link to an EU version designed by Anke Klempner (now updated to include a beanie and a PussyHat shape). It's become increasingly popular and you may have seen photos and news footage of people in their EU hats as they lobby their MPs and protest against the British government's treatment of EU citizens as bargaining chips in upcoming negotiations.


If you would like to support EU citizens in the UK, there are ways you can help. Join a lobbying group such as The 3 Million and help ensure that those of us who have made their lives here and British citizens abroad don't lose their acquired rights.

(All images are contributions from members of The 3 Million.)

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Sock Wash and Sort Out


Perhaps the best thing to do to ease back into everyday life after being ill for over a week is to give your knitted socks a wash. Even though I am not fond of washing my socks by hand, it is something that needs to be done - and I will forever be grateful for the existence of no-rinse wool wash. Please tell me I am not the only one who doesn't look forward to this! Anyway, I've finally washed all the socks that have been waiting for over two weeks so now my collection is complete again and ready to be worn. 

Having had a look at my big bag of socks, there are quite a few that are no longer in the best shape and some don't fit anymore. It's probably time to unravel them and knit new ones. I am finding it hard to do that, though, because a lot of work went into each pair. But then why hold on to a pair that doesn't fit and will only lie about in the bag, never to be worn again?

Some of the yarns are too nice to just be thrown away. I am also very fond of some patterns and might reknit those despite never knitting the same thing twice. It's a shame that some of my favourites  especially have shrunk a bit in the wash!

What do you do with old knitted socks? Do they end up in the bin or do you try to salvage the yarn? How frequently do you have a sort out?

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Wool Tribe 2017 Is Here


If you are one of the lucky ones going to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival  (EYF) on the 10th and 11th March this year, I envy you! It was a great event last year and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This year I won't be able to make it - due to my upcoming wedding, I need to save up as much holiday as I can. So a few days in Edinburgh are not on the cards this time, but I am sure I will go again one day.

Like last year, there is a new Wool Tribe companion magazine for EYF, full of specially selected patterns and other information about Edinburgh, woolly crafts, and the festival itself. At the back of the issue you'll find a floor plan and list of vendors, which is extremely helpful if, like me, you like to plan which stalls to hit first. My motto: Efficiency is key! AKA: Just be German.

I have to say that I prefer the first issue of Wool Tribe: Both the aesthetic as well as the patterns were far more appealling to me and the articles in it were more up my alley than this year. I am a little disappointed, but I wanted this magazine nonetheless because it is a part of EYF and I enjoyed it so much before. This year, by the way, there is even a crochet pattern in Wool Tribe, but as I don't like crochet, it isn't for me either.

The magazine contains patterns from Donna Smith, Renee Callahan, Francesca Hughes, Clare Devine, Jane Crowfoot, and Amanda B Collins. As knitters you will have come across at least some of them so you can be sure the patterns are well written and you may be familiar with their styles.


My favourite pattern is the Belsyde Shawl pictured above. I am not convinced by the zigzag along the body, but still. The colour choice is great and I very much like the YO pattern along the short edge as well. Besides, you can never really go wrong with a shawl, can you?

In Wool Tribe you will also find another trail guiding you through a part of Edinburgh. Last year's craft, coffee and cake trail was a great success, but this year's trail will lead you to new areas, encompassing  Holyrood Park and Arthur's Seat. This trail was chosen to offer you a wonderful view of the area and its landmarks. At the end you will be rewarded with a visit to Scotland's oldest pub, the 14th century Sheep Heid Inn


This year there are articles again that I look forward to reading in a quiet moment. However, there is one about machine knitting that I am not (yet) in the mood to read because I really don't like the idea of machine knitting. I apologise for not being able to give you any details about the articles, but I haven't yet managed to bring myself to read the articles yet. This shows you just how different my overall impression of this year's issue is, actually. Last year I couldn't wait to get stuck in and read it from cover to cover. This time it's taking a while for me to be drawn in.

That's not to say that it isn't up to scratch. This issue simply doesn't contain things I like and this was bound to happen at some point. We all like different things and not everything can be featured in a single magazine. So don't let me put you off! If you like the patterns, go for it. If you are a fan of EYF as I am, definitely get your hands on a copy if you can. I for my part am really looking forward to the third issue in 2018 and I will absolutely buy it again.

The magazine comes with a Ravelry download code so you can add it to your library and have the patterns handy and ready to print whenever you need them. You can buy the latest issue of Wool Tribe right here on the EYF website where you can also see all the featured patterns.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

PussyHats Galore


Please excuse my silence over the past week. With so many crazy things happening in the world right now, I was not in the mood for blogging even though I do have things to tell you about. I am a little late now in showing you my tiny bit of craftivism, but I am sure it will still be needed in the future.

I am sure you heard about the Women's March on Washington that took place the day after the US president's inauguration. I hear it was the largest march of its kind in history and it did not confine itself to Washington or even the US. There were marches all over the world, even here in the UK. The closest one to me was in London. While I didn't march personally, I knew this was big and important. So I decided to show my solidarity with these women (and men) who marched that day, picked pink yarn from my stash and started knitting my own PussyHat as they marched and I followed them on Twitter and the news.


PussyHats are a symbol of resistance, of rights for women. They are a reaction to Trump's policies and his disgusting claim that if you're famous, you can "grab them by the pussy" and they'll let you, "you can do anything." You will have seen images of the march and the sea of pink PussyHats. It was truly a sight to behold.

So on that day I knitted from late morning till evening, but had to stop shortly before I could finish the final bit of ribbing. When I finally sewed the seams and wove in the ends, it was too late for the march, of course, but that didn't stop me from wearing the hat at work the following week. 

It was a great success with colleagues who are  involved in politics and follow current developments both at home and abroad. My Spanish colleague took this photo of me to share with her friends.

Interestingly, this hat pattern has now been adapted for a different cause altogether, though one closer to home. Some crafty EU-nationals living in the UK are preparing to protest against the treatment of us as bargaining chips in this Brexit... fiasco, for lack of a better word. They plan to wear a blue hat with yellow stars that reflects the EU flag. I think that is a great idea! (You can also find a classic beanie knitting pattern to go with the cause here.)

If you are an EU-national in the UK, by the way, and want to stay up-to-date with developments as they pertain to our status here post-Brexit, feel free to join the3million on Facebook or follow them on Twitter. We cannot rely on politicians doing the right thing. We must make sure we are heard.

And this is probably as political a post as I am ever going to write on this blog. At least I hope there won't be a need for any more.