Tag Archives: Yarn

NYC wristwarmers courtesy of Purl Soho

Remember a few days ago when I said I had too many projects on the go and I wanted to finish one?  I’ve finally managed it – and I’ve now got a lovely pair of wrist warmers to keep me toasty for the rest of the winter.

At Christmas, we went on our honeymoon to New York City – and high on my list of things to do was to check out at least one yarn shop in the city.  Before we went, I’d knitted my husband a scarf using a pattern from the Purl Bee blog and when I realised the blog was linked to a shop, I decided that would be the place to go.

So before we travelled, I chose two other patterns from the Purl Bee blog and made a list of the yarn I’d need to buy in the shop, Purl Soho.  I knew there’d be such a huge choice of new and exciting yarns that I’d be better off knowing what I was looking for rather than browsing aimlessly (and I think my husband was grateful for it!).  Here’s what I came away with:

purl soho yarn

I liked the idea of making a couple of things that would always remind me of my honeymoon and that I would wear a lot.  So it’s lovely to finally have one of them finished.

The pattern I’ve just finished was for Colorblock Hand Warmers and it involved knitting with fine yarn using double-pointed needles.  This was a first for me and took a fair bit of getting used to – at first there seemed to be points sticking out everywhere, and it was really fiddly.  But as with most things craft-wise, it just took practise.

Here’s the finished article (well, one of them – I needed to hold the camera with the other hand):


I am notoriously cold-blooded, and am always shivering at work – so today I took these along for the first time and they kept me lovely and warm, especially as they almost reach my elbows.

The next target is to finish my other New York project – this lovely Herringbone Cowl using a nice soft alpaca yarn.

A handmade wedding – my biggest ever craft project

As I mentioned in my last post, last year was a busy one – and one of the main reasons was our wedding.  Jon proposed in late January 2014, shortly before he left for Afghanistan for four months.  His timing was a stroke of genius – we just had time to choose our date, venue and other important details before he left.  And with the wedding set for three weeks after he came home, it meant I had all the fun stuff to plan while he was away – my dress, flowers, favours, hair, accessories etc.  It was the perfect distraction for a difficult time and gave us both so much to look forward to when he got home.

Me being me, the wedding was always going to be a crafty affair…  the prospect of making my own dress was never on the cards, but I knew there was plenty I could do in the way of accessories and decoration.  The first thing I had to do was teach myself to crochet lace.  Gone were the 4mm hooks I was using before, and in came the 0.75mm steel hook (and other assorted tiny sizes).  It took some practice but I loved producing crochet that was so delicate and pretty.  One of the brilliant things about crochet is its versatility – with the same set of skills you can create giant chunky scarves, cute hard-wearing toys for toddlers, and beautiful classic lace on a tiny scale.

It started with doilies – the wedding was small, only 20 guests, and I set about making five doilies to sit underneath the flowers on the dinner table.  This one was the centrepiece:


Before long, I’d chosen my wedding dress.  It was by the brilliant Catherine Deane, and I had a fantastic day out in London with my mum and sister-in-law trying on different designs at the studio in Metropolitan Wharf, Wapping.  The Brits among you might recognise the name Metropolitan Wharf as the building where the Great British Sewing Bee is filmed.  The dress had a distinctly floral theme, so that set me thinking about crocheting flowers for accessories.

So I started crocheting flowers, including daisy chains – so simple and so effective.  The first thing I did was use them to embellish handkerchiefs for my mum and mother-in-law.  By this point I’d also chosen a colour theme of pale turquoise and peach, so I bought Amazonite beads to use too (which also came in handy for bracelets for me and my bridesmaid).


The next project was to make a headpiece to match my dress and somehow work into my hairstyle for the big day.  I started out using only crochet, but eventually realised I needed to add some details that were even more delicate to really make it into what I wanted.  So I bought myself a tatting shuttle and learnt how to make tatted lace.  That way, I could use tatted flowers in the headpiece too.  It took two attempts and a lot of time, but in the end, I was really pleased with it:


Once I’d learnt to tat, I started to really enjoy it.  With just a tiny tatting shuttle and a ball of thread, it seemed even more portable and easy to carry around than crochet.  So I decided to make one of the table doilies a tatted one:


After all the lace-making, there was one final craft project to complete.  My four-year-old nephew was going to be our ring-bearer on the day and he and I share a love of Thunderbirds (the original Thunderbirds, strings and all!).  For his benefit (and mine!) I wanted to make a ring cushion with a difference – so with the help of some vintage fabric I found online, salvaged from a former duvet cover, I made one.  I tried to keep it in the wedding theme with a bit of turquoise and peach ribbon, but I don’t think my nephew cared too much about that:


Anyway – enough talking about the making of everything – here are some pictures from the day itself (with a big thank you to our talented wedding photographer – and my cousin – Mark Wallis):








Once Jon got home we had the fun job of putting the finishing touches to the favours for the table, and a few other associated craft projects.  But I’ll save those for the next post.


Very long time, no blog

Well, it’s been a year since I last said ‘I haven’t posted here for ages, I should definitely start again’ and then totally failed to do so.  My excuse is that last year became something of a crazy year…  shortly after my new blogging resolution, I started an exciting new job (with a 90-minute commute), then my boyfriend proposed and we had a mad few weeks of wedding planning before he left in March for four months serving in Afghanistan.

He duly came back in one piece after four eventful months, and we got married three weeks later.  Shortly after that we moved into a married quarter (eliminating the massive commute), adopted some kittens, made our new house into a home and went to New York for a Christmas honeymoon.  That brings us almost up to now, and the revelation that yes, like I said a year ago, I really should start blogging again.

2015, thankfully, looks set to be a far less eventful year than the last one, and with more time to devote to messing about with yarn, I genuinely do want to start keeping the blog up to date again.

Since last January, there have been many crochet projects (most of which were wedding related), and a few knitting ones too (mostly because I was sick of crochet after all the wedding projects), which I will probably post about in the coming days and weeks.

But for now, here are my current works in progress:


A doll I started making to cheer myself up while recovering from the flu


A herringbone knitted cowl using yarn from Purl Soho, NYC.


A pair of wrist warmers, again using a pattern and yarn from Purl Soho, NYC.  I started making the second one after this picture was taken, only to have it unravelled by two cheeky kittens…

Three works in progress is too many, so my next job is to get one of them, any of them, finished.  Before the kittens can get to them, that is.

Trying something new

I’m halfway through a good few days off work and lots of crochet has been helping me to unwind and relax.

The blanket I’m making for Darren’s little nephew is growing at a super fast rate now I’m really into it, and it’s not far off being complete:


But I like a bit of variety so I wanted to get cracking on a few new bits and pieces as well. With my bunny person pattern now released into the wild (in this month’s Inside Crochet magazine), I wanted to do something slightly different. I have a full set of Clover Amour hooks but have never used the smallest ones in the set – so I fancied doing something with finer yarn. Same goes for the bigger ones in the set, which need chunkier yarn.

So one trip to John Lewis at Cribbs Causeway later, and I had a lovely bag full of beautiful colours of Rowan Siena 4 ply and Rowan Softknit Cotton. I know Rowan’s expensive, but it’s nice to treat yourself every once in a while:


So this evening, with a 2.5mm hook, I’ve started making a little blue amigurumi monkey. You probably can’t tell from the picture but it’s quite a bit smaller than my usual characters… And I’ve enjoyed working with different yarn.


Tomorrow I’m going to make a bigger, snugglier creature with the chunky cotton. Little and large.

Works in progress

It’s been a long weekend at work this weekend – the horrible and sad story of a murder in Gloucester broke last night, and it’s kept me busy ever since.

It’s been a tiring one, but before I go to bed, I wanted to show my neglected blog some love and post a quick snapshot of my current works in progress. Not a lot of progress has been made this week, what with the hot weather, a busy time at work and lots of running… But things are still ticking over.


I have now hand-quilted half of the quilt I’ve made. It’s just simple running stitch along the joins between the patchwork squares, so it’s pretty simple and relaxing to do. Only trouble is, after a fairly short period of stitching, I get far too warm having a quilt across my lap and have to stop.

I’ve also started the body of the Gruffalo I’ve been commissioned to make. But with the hot and sticky weather, progress is slow. It looks like being cooler this week so I’m hoping to have him finished by the end of my day off work on Wednesday.


I have also had a whole stack of new shades of Schoeller and Stahl Record 210 cotton delivered for my next commissions and for doing a few new designs just for myself and just for the fun of doing them. I’m looking forward to new challenges again… when I eventually get there.

Oh help! Oh no! It’s a Gruffalo!

With my secret project out of the way (more on that in a couple of months), this weekend I got on to my next commission. A good friend of mine asked me to make a Gruffalo for his nephew.

My nephew is also a big fan of the Gruffalo, so I was already pretty familiar with him… But I was looking forward to creating my own version with a certain amount of trepidation.

I haven’t tried to recreate an existing character since the Octonauts I made for my nephew a few months ago (unless you count Macho Man Randy Savage of course, but that was a whole different thing). It’s not easy making something that looks dead right and doesn’t look like a rubbish imitation.

But I’ve made a good start on this one, I think – after having to resist the urge to start all over again a couple of times, I’m glad I stuck with it. He is only a head and a face so far – and still needs ears and horns, but it’s looking OK. Here he is with a comparison pic for anyone not familiar with the Gruffalo!



Organising my yarn (finally)

Over the past few months, my collection of yarn, fabric, felt, buttons and all manner of other craft materials had become ridiculous. There were boxes and bags all over the house, stuffed to the gills with not only the things I actually use, but also old pattern paper, abandoned projects, tangled up yarn, scraps of ruined fabrics… and many many loose pins and needles.

On Friday, my other half was cleaning and tidying the house while I was at work, before my parents came to visit yesterday. I don’t think he enjoyed hoovering around all my creative supplies because when I finished work, he drove me straight to Hobbycraft and bought me two big plastic boxes to store all of my stuff in (after I’d had a good sort out).

So while we watched the British Grand Prix this afternoon, I sat on the living room floor surrounded by all my craft supplies and got them organised. I threw out one and a half bin bags’ worth of rubbish and then sorted out everything else. And I’m loving the results. He may have twisted my arm into doing it, but the other half was right – I feel better now it’s done.


Fame at last… And some lovely new yarn

I came home from work tonight to find two crochet-related treats from the postman.

Firstly, this month’s issue of Inside Crochet magazine had arrived. And I am featured in it! I’m really thrilled to get a mention and as the piece says, one of my patterns will be printed in the magazine later this year. I’m a journalist by trade so you’d think I wouldn’t get excited about seeing my name in print anymore, but this put a huge smile on my face:


The other treat in the post was some new yarn that I ordered a couple of days ago in lovely marine and purple shades for a commission I’m working on. I usually stick fairly religiously to Rico Creative Cotton but I saw this Schoeller & Stahl aran weight cotton (Record 210) and thought I’d give it a go. It’s a similar price but comes in beautiful colours with some more subtle shades than the Rico. Rico is either pastel or rich bright colours and I think these sit somewhere in between. I’ve started using it tonight and it’s lovely. I’ll definitely be using more of it.



Jurassic Park!

I haven’t spent that much time crocheting over the past two days – I’ve been tired out from a long week at work and have been out and about with the other half, going running, sleeping…

I really didn’t expect to finish my lovely bright dino-related commission until the end of the weekend, but I’ve done it.


I’m really pleased with how they’ve worked out and it’s been lovely to do something a bit different. I’ve picked up a couple of new techniques for doing more complex shapes and concealing the increases and decreases used for shaping, so I’ve learnt plenty along the way. And I love the bright colours.

My next commission is a monkey, so another new design to tackle, which I’m looking forward to. But since I’m a little bit ahead of schedule, I’m going to start him tomorrow and spend tonight sketching out a patchwork pattern for my quilt.

I’ve run out of eyes (but I have been yarn shopping)

I made a bit of an error this week – I didn’t keep a check on materials I need for my little crochet creatures and realised too late that I didn’t have enough eyes to complete everything I planned to do this week. I ordered some on Monday (I have to buy them online as I haven’t found anywhere near me that sells them) but annoyingly they still haven’t arrived. So I’ve had a forced hiatus from toy making today (although I did receive some tan coloured Rico cotton for the wrestler I’m making next – he needs to be massively perma-tanned and the usual skin colour I use won’t do).

I’ve taken the opportunity to crack on with the top I’m making. When I say crack on with it, I mean unravel the bit I’d already done (about 15 rows) and start again. My tension was a bit uneven and I thought it might affect the shape. It’s much more even now and I’ve done lots of it, so I’m happy.


I also dragged the other half down to the big John Lewis at Cribbs Causeway in Bristol this afternoon (about 40 minutes in the car) to have a look at their crafts and haberdashery department after hearing good things about it. I bought some beautiful Rowan yarns for the next couple of clothing / accessory projects I’m planning. Obviously Rowan isn’t cheap but they do some beautiful yarns in fantastic colours. I could have bought the whole shop. But I just chose two varieties (and noted down a few others for a later date).



Tomorrow I’ll be returning to the toys I’m working on (assuming the new eyes arrive in the post) but the clothing projects will be perfect for when I’m on holiday next week. The toys require so many different bits – different colours, stuffing, eyes, felt, fabrics, cottons, needles etc – that I don’t think I can realistically take them abroad to carry on working on them.

On another note entirely, I downloaded the Beautiful Mess app to do cutesie things to pictures. I am a big fan already.