My Trip to Unravel 2014

 

 

Last weekend I went to the Unravel Festival at Farnham Maltings. I had an excellent time and bought a whole lot of yarn. Above is a rather cheesy recap video of my weekend. Filmed on my phone, but I think gives you a flavour. If you love yarn or fibre and are close by it would be well worth taking a look next year!

Here is a list of some of the vendors featured in the video;

Farnham Maltings Unravel site

Easyknits

Sweetgeorgia

Susan Crawford Vintage (Presentation)

Natural Dye Studio

Skein Queen

Aoibhe Ni’s Pax for Beginners at The Sheep Shop

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A pile of beautiful samples.

I love Tunisan crochet, so as you can imagine the beautiful PAX shawl has been on my list of things to make for a very long time. I was overjoyed to hear the PAX’s designer Aoibhe Ni was coming to The Sheep Shop to teach a class on how to make it.

Aoibhe, being the wonderful talented lady she is, has invented a whole new kind of Tunisian crochet – Tunisian Lace Crochet. When she came for the class she brought samples from her Legendary Shawls collection. All unceremoniously dumped in a big pile in the middle of the table, they needed no hype to make us ooooo and ahhhhh in wonder.

As you can imagine I was entranced by all the beautiful patterns. It took Aoibhe quite a while to get us concentrating on actually crocheting rather than pawing at gloriously lacy shawls.

Aoibhe’s new take on Tunisian crochet was, to begin with, quite bewildering. She said her inspiration was seeing those beautiful knitted shawls and wanting to recreate their style in crochet. I can totally relate to that as I love the look of knitted and have only recently taught myself to knit for just that reason.

After much patient tutoring and many confused looks I’m pleased to say everyone in the class eventually had the eureka moment when it finally clicked what we were supposed to be doing. Once I realised the basic structure and stitches it all suddenly seemed so simple and logical. Of course! Why didn’t I think of it that way before?

My samples are in DK and of course scrappy, but I managed to practice all the skills needed to create my own PAX.

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Wonderful Sheep Shop owner Sarah and Aoibhe

Much fun was certainly had by all and everyone agreed that should Aoibhe ever return to Cambridge we would all very much like her to teach another class at The Sheep Shop. I know she does teach an advanced class but I think I would love her to teach a class on the new collection of garments she is releasing soon. I can’t wait for the Classical Elements collection to come out, as I really want to apply this new version of Tunisan crochet to clothes!

A little birdie told me that Aoibhe would be at Fibre East teaching several classes in July 2014. I would heartily recommend them if you plan to get started on any of her wonderful patterns as the classes are no end of help. I quite like the look of the Beyond the Basics class myself!

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A band of merry crocheters!

We are now holding a bit of a CAL over in The Sheep Shop ravelry group. Please feel free to join join us if you would like to make a PAX too. Aoibhe also has her own ravelry group in which there are lots of CALs, discussions and sneak peaks of new patterns. I of course ignored all of my many ongoing WIPS and cast on straight away. So far I’m pretty pleased but have yet to attempt the lace part!

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A simple beginning

Crochet Tutorial – Christmas Snowflake/Star

This week and last I’ve been making lots of snowflakes ready for Christmas. I plan to use them for ornaments and Christmas cards. I’ve been using the wonderful Festive Snowflakes patterns by Valerie Bracegirdle which I think is great value, three great patterns for £2.oo. There has been a whole group discussion in her Ravelry group about things we are making for Christmas now that it is just around the corner. After a little chatting and some lightning fast pattern design by Valerie, she agreed to create a snowflake design for me to share with you for free!

I’ve recorded a how to video;

And as promised here is the chart;

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Here is the link to the Ravelry design page.

I hope you all like it! It was a great pleasure to work with Valerie on this. I really hope I can do more tutorials like this in the future. Any questions just leave a comment here or on the YouTube video.

Autumn Crafting Whirlwind

The start of an Anniversary Sharf in beautiful pumpkin colours

The start of an Anniversary Sharf in beautiful pumpkin colours

I don’t know about you, but Autumn is my favourite season. It shouldn’t be. We have horrid windy rainy days and those days are getting darker and shorter. However I think what I love is the riot of colour that explodes on the trees. I’m a sucker for colour and in my opinion Autumn leaves trumps summer flowers any day.

With the beginning of Autumn well and truly here I find myself in a whirlwind of projects. Not only am I continuing the light summer projects of scarves and shawls, I’ve also hauled the blanket projects back out that were too heavy to work on during the hotter months. So now I have even more projects on the go then I did a month ago! I feel like I’m drowning in them.

To an extent it feels like my head is spinning. I’ve a terrible attention span and hardly ever finish a project before starting a new one. It’s driving me up the wall a little. I know some people who crank out projects at lightening speed and still have time to design patterns at the same time. There must be a way to approach all this. Does anyone find a particular method is useful?

Tunisian crochet blanket pulled from the cupboard, ready to be worked on again.

Tunisian crochet blanket pulled from the cupboard, ready to be worked on again.

I think perhaps because a lot of things that I create are not for a particular purpose or person that could be what stops me from finishing. No deadline means no pressure to finish? Or is it because I’m a perfectionist and often half way through a project I decide its not exactly what I had in mind and this puts me off?

I’d love to know what people think. How do you manage projects, keep yourself motivated and deal with the influx of projects that come with the Autumn/Winter season?

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

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…