Granny Square Blog Tour

The lovely Valerie of Agrarian Artisan posed the question;

Granny Squares – Do you love them or not?

Hummmmmm. I’ve read the other blogs thus far (See bottom of post for links to previous posts on the blog tour). I’m tempted to agree generally with what has been said. When I first started to crochet it was because I had seen Amigurumi dolls and that inspired me to learn. Amigurumi is not the easiest item to learn crochet from but somehow I managed it. They were not fast projects though, with each tiny doll taking weeks to complete. At that point I was completely unaware of the vast amounts of patterns and variation available to me in my new craft.

When I first noticed granny squares, and most importantly the fact that I could easily make them, I was overjoyed. I immediately started on a massive scrap yarn granny square blanket. I loved working on it and it grew in no time. I loved the way I could use any colour in a wonderful crazy rainbow working out from the middle. It felt like colour therapy.

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I became obsessed. I bought 200 Crochet Blocks and I was away. I joined swaps, and when there were not enough swaps going on I started my own. Then just to fill in time in between swaps and blankets of my own I started making granny square blocks for Knit a Square. I became Kerry the granny square lady. It all culminated in making a granny square blanket for my mum’s 60th birthday.

Please excuse the poor photography of 4 years ago!

Please excuse the poor photography of 4 years ago!

I burned myself out. It was bound to happen. I wanted something more interesting. A challenge. I began my obsession with shawls and scarves. I think it was the natural progression. I’d found much better, and certainly more expensive yarn. I wanted to make much more intricate things than simple old granny squares.

I think granny squares were a marvellous learning tool for me. They allowed me to make large projects in no time, which gave me the confidence to branch out. If I could make these huge colourful blankets, then why not a scarf? For me granny squares are a little like Marmite. You love them or you hate them. I really dislike granny square blankets in cheap acrylic in clashing colours (basically all my first attempts), but if done right with great yarn and colour combinations they can be beautiful. I think the key is using the simple structure to really show off your yarn/colour choices.

Previous stops on the Granny Square Blog Tour;

Amanda of The Natural Dye Studio

Valerie of Agrarian Artisan

Tracey of I Made It!

For future blogs please check this ravelry post;

Ravelry Thread

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Beginner Socks at The Sheep Shop

Last weekend I took part in the Beginner Sock class at The Sheep Shop with Louise Tilbrook. I’ve had a crack at socks before, and by that I mean I started a two at a time top down magic loop method. It’s crazy, I always jump right in and whether I’m capable or not and try the most interesting looking thing. You can see my first, and as yet unfinished, attempt here.

I wanted to really get a handle on proper socks. With all the lovely 4 ply yarn I have, I have never made a pair of knitted socks. I also wanted to get to grips with double pointed needles. I was aware of the theory, but have never been brave enough to try. I picked up some needles and some rather uninteresting but hard wearing yarn the week before. I wanted yarn that I could undo and redo many times as I was sure I was going to do that in class. I mentioned the yarn in this post, it is the first yarn I talk about.

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The class was wonderful. Just the right number of people. I managed to drop my needles about every 5 mins for the whole 3 hours. At various points I ended up with less needles in the project than I should have had. It was like a yarny game of kerplunk.

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Through all that I still managed to produce a smaller than toddler sock, but the main thing is that it included all the techniques needed to make a full size sock. We decided my miss formed sock was more of a cat/dog sock than a toddler sock. I was going to try and get Cleo to model it for you, but I don’t fancy my chances.

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Of course I came straight home and cast on some proper adult size socks. I’ve managed to get past the heel turn so I think that in it’s self confirms that the class is a success. It looks like Louise is doing another class in April, so if you are interested I would highly recommend it. I’ve also just noticed she is doing a toe up class in May, I shall have to sign up for that!

Finished Object – Short and Sweet

It’s taken me a while to write this post. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m already excited and making other projects or because this one went a little wrong.

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Ta dah! The Short and Sweet cardigan. I made the length and sleeves a little longer than the pattern called for. As you can see it’s being modelled on a mannequin at The Sheep Shop rather than on me.  That’s the hint on what went wrong. It’s too small!

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I had the sneaking suspicion as I was making it that it wasn’t going to be quite big enough to sit right. I was hoping that because it is a cardigan that is designed to be small, that was just how it was going to appear until I was finished. No such luck! I checked my gauge when I was done (yes, yes I know I’m supposed to do that at the beginning) and that was fine. I can only assume I picked a size too small. Also the size I made was designed not to close at the front, leaving a gap, which I wasn’t keen on. Never mind! Some lovely person who is smaller than me will receive it in the future, I’m sure.

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All the details of the yarn used etc is in my WIP post if you are interested. I really enjoyed using the Bamboo Cotton mix. It has excellent drape and I think the cream colour suits the project very well. I’m already planning another go at this one. The next size up is designed to close at the front, a quirk of the pattern repeat, which I much prefer. I always like a cardigan to be big enough to wrap around me. I’ve chosen some brilliant 100% llama yarn from my recent Sheep Shop haul. It is a wonderful variegated grey and black colour, is soft and snugly and seems to have wonderful drape. This means the cardigan will be more of a Autumn/Spring wear, which suits me fine as it will probably be Autumn before I start!

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Finally, a funny thing I noticed as I tried it on the dummy. The pattern from this angle kind of looks like little skulls. Really angry alien skulls, but skulls none the less. Is it just me or can you see it too?

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I may have bought ‘some’ yarn…

‘I may have bought ‘some’ yarn…’ was the text message I guiltily sent to my husband yesterday afternoon. My husband knows me well enough to know that if I have taken the time to text him that I have bought some yarn (usually an every day occurrence in our house) then ‘some’ means ‘lots’.

I was at The Sheep Shop again yesterday for their Friday knitting club. Last week I did really well and resisted buying anything. But this week the pull was just too strong! Below is a picture of the full treasure haul. It was the hottest day of the year yesterday, so I must apologise for the washed out nature of the yarn shots! The bright sun made it a nightmare to try and get good pictures of the true colour of things.

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I bought 100g of Opal sock yarn in a crazy circus like colourway. It is a reasonably cheap and robust sock yarn and certainly not the sort of colours I would actually wear. I chose this one as I’m attending the Socks for Beginners class next Saturday and since the class will be taught using double pointed needles, which I have never used before, I wanted some yarn I really didn’t mind messing up when I undo and redo 20 times. I’m really excited about this class. I’m already dreaming of socks of many colours in beautiful (and expensive I’m sure) sock yarns.

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The Sheep Shop has just had a delivery of wonderful Sparkleduck yarn. It is not a yarn I have come across before, but I’m so very glad that I have now. I loved pretty much all the colourways on the shelf and the base yarns were all wonderful too. The sock weight base called Pulsar practically glowed with its silk content and beautiful deep colours (this might be the expensive socks I just mentioned dreaming about!). This time I picked up two skeins. I bought a Galaxy base which is 75% super wash merino, 20%nylon, 5% stellina. I always love the yarns with a little stellina in them. A little sparkle and none of the scratchiness, hurrah! I bought the Neptune colourway which is a wonderful deep blue with hints of sea green (the photos really don’t do it justice!). With the tiny sparkles in it, it will be like a deep sea adventure knitting with it. I’m thinking of making Stephen West‘s Herbivore with it. Sarah at The Sheep Shop had a sample of this shawl knitted up in the shop and it was really beautiful, yet simple at the same time.

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I also bought a skein of the Solo base which is 100% superwash merino single ply. I’ve not used single ply very much so I’m not sure how difficult or easy it will be to work with. I chose the ‘Here be Dragons’ colourway as I really love the way the colours blend. They could be iridescent scales on a dragon’s wings, but the colours also remind me of a steampunk bazaar! I think it’s likely I might try and knit Dragonfly Wings with this as I think it will suit this special little skein very well. I might also be brave and try to add beads as suggested in the pattern.

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Finally I was looking for some more DK to make a second Short and Sweet. I was going to go for another cotton based yarn, but then I noticed a lovely DK in varying grays. The yarn brand is called Araucania and I have picked the Puelo base which is 100% llama. I’ve never made anything with llama yarn before, so that will be quite the experience. It seems to have quite a lovely drape to it and I’m thinking that this warmer yarn will turn the new cardigan into more of an autumn/spring item. I’m hoping the different shades of gray will spread OK across the garment and not pool too much.

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So there you have it! Friday’s haul. Now I promise not to buy any more yarn for at least 24 hours…

Jolly Journey

Being new to Haverhill and the surrounding area I wanted to make sure I branch out and meet some new people. I also wanted to have a taste of exploring a little on my own, which is not something I really did that much when I was back in Basildon. What better way to get out and about than a yarny adventure!

Having investigated local yarn shops I found The Sheep Shop in Cambridge. The website told me that they also do classes and knitting groups. Jackpot! I decided to take myself along to the Friday morning knitting group. They have a Ravelry group so I introduced myself there first. I was given lots of lovely directions and a warm hello.

The bus trip in from Haverhill to Cambridge was reasonable. It takes about 50 mins on a double-decker, which was surprisingly nimble through the various villages. I got off the bus with a little less time than I had hoped and ended up walking double time to the shop. It took about 15 mins from the bus station. To start off with I was getting a little worried that I couldn’t find the shop, I knew it was on a residential street from the website, but I just wasn’t seeing it. Just as I was pulling out my phone to work out where I had gone wrong, I looked up and there it was!

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The ladies of the group were very friendly and expecting me as they had seen my post on Ravelry. It was really lovely to meet the ladies of the group and talk about all the projects they were working on and planning. I was told all about Fiber-East and how wonderful it is. It was brilliant to find a group of such warm and talented ladies all together.

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The shop itself is beautiful, cozy and warm. I really liked all the various samples of patterns and designs made up and displayed around the shop. I got a lot of inspiration from one visit and I imagine I will end up parting with a lot of money in this shop! I plan to try and make it to the Friday morning groups as much as possible. It was wonderful to discuss projects, charity work, craft shows and general knitter natter in such a beautiful little shop.

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After the group I wandered back into the center of Cambridge along the river. It was a beautiful day and very scenic. I looked for a cafe that was recommended by the ladies for lunch, Michaelhouse Cafe on Trinity Street. I was certainly not disappointed by the food. Locally sourced produce with yummy homemade recipes. I’d certainly recommend a visit for breakfast or lunch if you are in Cambridge.

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I spent some more time wandering around the town sight seeing and visiting quite the biggest Waterstone’s I’ve ever encountered. I get the feeling that it will take months for me to really get a feel for the city and all it has to offer. The bus station is thankfully (as I was half an hour early for my bus) is situated right next to Christ’s Pieces park. I lounged there for a while before I boarded my bus. I can’t wait to see if I can make it back next week!

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WIP Wednesday

So it seems to be a theme with the first two posts on my blog that WIP Wednesday is the most inspiring day of the week for me. As discussed in my last post I have a lot of them, so I suppose it would make sense that they are where I start!

Today’s WIP is something I started on Monday. Owing to the summer weather I have been wearing a lot of dresses (if you know me that is a very shocking thing!). I can’t stand not wearing something to cover my shoulders and upper arms as the bingo wings seem to be getting larger no matter how many calories I burn while crocheting. I’ve been wearing a very cute little cardigan I picked up from BHS a year or so back. I really love wearing it as it is so pretty, but always feel great shame doing so. Here I am, a person who is reasonably proficient in crochet, wearing a cardigan that was mass made for a chain store. It’s just not right!

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I chose some new yarn on the spur of the moment with no plan in mind. I knew I wanted to make a top much like the one I have been enjoying. I’ve wanted to try a bamboo/cotton mix for a while, as I have been hearing good things about it. I purchased 4 100g balls of DK King Cole Bamboo Cotton in shade 543 ‘Oyster’ from my LYS, The Craft Basket, in town. I bought 4 because I wasn’t sure exactly what I was making and wanted to be sure that I had enough.

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Once home I decided that I didn’t want to try and copy the cardigan I had or try to design my own. I wanted something quick and easy that I could be wearing in a week or so, not something that would take months to get through. I’ve only ever made one crochet garment to wear, it was a shrug for a friends wedding. I had lots of positive comments on it, but I was not overly happy with it. Mainly because I think I made it too small (revenge of the bingo wings yet again!). I really want to get into making and eventually designing crochet garments, but I figure walk before you can run. I paged through the many wonderful crochet and knitting books I received for my birthday and found the Short and Sweet in Stitch ‘N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker. It looks perfect for what I want.

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I’ve managed the upper back section and started on the right front so far. The construction confused me a little to start off with, but I have the hang of it now. I love the lace pattern, though I’ve found it really odd to work a lace pattern in such a heavy weight yarn. I’ve been working mainly with 4 ply or lace weight in my crochet for a couple of years now, so this was a bit of a change. It is certainly going to crochet up very quickly! I hope I can just keep my short attention span under wraps long enough to get it finished!

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My apologies for the quality of the photographs. I really must sort out a spot and set it up to take better pictures. Perhaps a little research into that area is in order…

WIP Wednesday

I have a lot of WIP’s, I’m just that kind of person. I love to start a project and often while I’m working on a project I’m dreaming up/dreaming of the next. You can see in the below picture a small selection of the projects I have on the go at the moment.

Post 05.06.13 A

I and my husband are set to move to Suffolk in just under a month, so the projects you can see are the projects that I have not packed away yet as I think I might be working on them before we move. I really like to have them all lined up there within easy reach, so as the mood takes me I can just reach out and grab them.

The project I have been spending most of the time on at the moment is my Garter Squish Blanket. It is a lovely mindless knit that is easily picked up and knit when I really can’t summon the brain power for anything with a complicated pattern.

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I stumbled across the Garter Squish pattern by Stephen West on Ravelry and instantly knew I had to knit it. Having gone through some of my stash in the run up to the move I am very aware of how large my stash is now. I’ve also a lot of acrylic DK in my stash from when I very first started crochet, that I don’t often use any more as I have moved on to more interesting yarns. This blanket seemed a superb answer to that over flow of stash.  I really love simple knit patterns that really show of the yarn and the texture of this pattern is wonderful. It certainly does what it says on the tin, it is the most squishy piece of knitted fabric I’ve made to date and I just can’t wait to curl up in it!

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I’m using 10mm (US 15) Knit-Pro interchangeable needles with a 150cm cable. I’m really enjoying these chunky needles, they make a very pleasing mellow sound as they click together. I have no idea what colour the blanket it will end up being over all, I’m trying my best to just grab the next ball of yarn as I need it and hopefully get a nice surprise!

Post 05.06.13 D

The pattern features a nice i-cord edging, which I have never done before. I’m quite pleased about how it is coming out. I think, if I have read the pattern correctly, it has an i-cord bind off also. That should be a bit challenge to my newly formed knitting skills. I did attempt to do an i-cord cast on, but I couldn’t get the hang of it and in the end I decided not to use it as it wasn’t specified in the pattern anyway. I think I might come to regret that a little. If all the sides have a lovely edging except my cast on edge it might look a little strange. I will have to just comfort myself with the fact that it is after all a comfort blanket to curl up in on cold winter nights, not a piece that I plan to impress anyone with.

Post 05.06.13 B

Having had a browse of Stephen West’s website West Knits, I can see I’m going to love a lot of his designs. I shall have to dedicate myself to improving my knitting skills to take the plunge and see if I can attempt some of his other designs. There I go dreaming of the next project again before this one is finished…