Design Wars 5 :: the final reveal ::

Woohoo…the final reveal of all of the designs created by the Design Wars 5 challengers has been posted!

Final Reveal AD

You can see all the wonderful creations and vote for your favourites over on the Design Wars blog, of course if you fancy voting for my design I won’t dissuade ¬†you from doing so ūüėČ

So here is my final design ::

Rainbow Slipper Socks Crochet Pattern

I’ll post more about the slippers themselves tomorrow, but if you can’t wait that long, the pattern is up for sale over on my ravelry page now.

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Stranded Knits by Ann Kingstone ::

I’ve been a big fan of Ann Kingstone’s work for a while now, especially her stranded knitwear (wetwang being a particular favourite that I really really will knit for myself one day) if you haven’t come across her designs before I strongly recommend you go investigate.

Gorgeous new book by Ann Kingstone arrived on my doorstep this week.

So I was thrilled to get my hands on a copy of her new book, ‘Stranded Knits’. ¬†It’s such a beautifully put together book. ¬†If you’ve never tried your hand at stranded knits before, but have a basic understanding of knitting this book would be a fantastic step into the wonderful world of colourwork. ¬†If you have tried stranded knitting before, I would still heavily recommend getting hold of a copy, it taught me so much.

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I love knitting colour work, almost all of my, handful of, knitwear designs have included it, but Ann’s book gave me so much useful knowledge. ¬†The first third of the book is devoted to the ‘smart skills for colourwork knitting’, and boy are they smart and easy to understand. ¬†This is the kind of knitting book you really want to read, not just flick through and admire the pretty patterns.

Techniques I learned so far, include spit splicing (I knew about this technique but the book really encouraged me to give it a go and since I did I wonder why I never tried it before!), choosing the right colours for your colourwork (a lesson I read after I knit my first pattern from the book, d’oh!), steeking and whole new-to-me cast on. ¬†I’m sure as I knit more patterns from the book I will learn more and more too.

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The diagrams are so clear and easy to understand, which helps bring the written instructions to life.

I really don’t think I have one bad thing to say about this book. ¬†I would lovingly knit more than half of the patterns featured (if only I could find a couple of extra days in the week!). ¬†I especially love how there are both quick patterns to get you started and full colourwork sweaters to get your teeth into once you get going.

I gifted myself the yarn and the time to knit the Enid Headband, over my birthday weekend back in August.  The pattern was easy to follow and a joy to knit.  I love the finished product and am eagerly awaiting the cooler days so I can put it to good use.

 Ooh new yarn has arrived for birthday weekend knitting of Enid from stranded knits by @annkingstone

This was the pattern which I knit without testing the suitability of the colours unfortunately and in an ideal world I would probably have swapped them about a bit as the colourwork isn’t quite as prominent as I would like. ¬†But obviously if I’d spent the time reading the book properly before rushing in to knit this wouldn’t have happened!

Waaah I think I made bad choices for my colourwork not really contrasting enough :( #knitting

Birthday knitting all done...choose the wrong colours but overall very happy :)

All the samples in the book are worked in Rowan yarns and I used the recommended felted tweed for my headband.  The only issue I really had was with the yarn, as I knit on double pointed needles, I found when pulling the last stitch of each needle tight, the yarn would quite often break, but once I established this problem I managed to find a good middle ground of yarn pulling, which avoided the snapping.

Birthday ::

Next up on my list are the Pleiades mitts and hat, possibly as christmas gifts then next year the gorgeous William for myself, I’d love to have a go at Hedgerow but fear it’s something I would start and never finish.

Stranded Knits is available for purchase as a, real life hold in your hands, book from Baa Ram Ewe here.

Robot Hoodie ::

I managed to persuade Milo to do a little bit of modelling for me at the weekend and Sunday was the perfect day for it too, just the right weather for him to be parading around in the Robot Hoodie I originally designed for Inside Crochet.

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You may have noticed that I do love a bit of colourwork…especially on the yoke. ¬†I would say the majority of my designs probably have a colourwork yoke like this. ¬†I especially like to do this with crochet because it’s not a technique you often see in crochet, but I think it can work almost a well as those a beautiful knitted fair isle designs.

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The principle is very similar to that of knitting, unlike with tapestry crochet I keep the unworked colour loose at the back of the work, creating a stranded interior and just like knitting if it’s a big gap for the yarn to strand across I catch it in behind another stitch midway across (hmmm I’m thinking this could become a blog post all of it’s own…).

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This hoodie was very much a collaboration between me and Milo, before I’d even had the sweater commissioned he was clutching hold of my original swatch, a string of robots, throughout the day…so in love with the robots he was! It was he who suggested it have a hood and he who choose the little toggle buttons. So unsurprisingly he loves it and I was so relieved to see it still fits him, for now at least.

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The pattern is available in sizes age 2-3(4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-11)yrs, the sample uses Paton’s Diploma Gold DK, but any double knit weight wool yarn would work in it’s place.

I really love this hoodie and I get so much pleasure from seeing Milo eagerly wear something I’ve created for him.

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You can purchase the pattern in the usual places (ravelry, etsy, craftsy).

But if you get in quick (before the end of Monday 7th Oct) you can download the pattern from ravelry for FREE with coupon code OCT13

Enjoy x

Mark Fast :: Spring/Summer 2014 ::

I’m so in love with Mark Fast’s collection from London Fashion Week for Spring/Summer 2014.


I really really like this kind of work that mixes different stitches in this way.

It very much reminds me of Clare Tough’s collection from 2004, which was really what inspired me to get back into crochet.

I loved the way she made crochet look like nothing I had seen before, I don’t think I would ever have dreamt of making anything but blankets, cushions, scarfs and armwarmers until I saw this collection. ¬†I had stitch dictionaries but I would never have thought to mix them up in this way, though it all seems so obvious now!

I’ll have a bit more of a round up of my favourites from (the current!) Fashion Week, next week.

Little Sheep Tags :: a tutorial ::

I’m afraid to admit I have already been thinking about Christmas knitting, really in terms of knitting time it isn’t very far away at all. As a side thought of this (or maybe in a little attempt at procrastination) I got thinking about accompanying gift tags for all these handknits. As a result these little sheepy tags were born.

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Last year I made little cardboard tags with yarn information, washing instructions and a little spare yarn wound around (the same yarn as used in the piece) incase of any mishaps. ¬†Recently I’ve been playing with shrink plastic and so the idea for these little sheep was born.

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If you would like to make your own I have sheep template here, you are welcome to print out and trace. ¬†With the shrink plastic I used the resulting tags measure 4.5cm (1.75″) across and 2.5cm (1″) tall.

Here’s what you’ll need ::

Sheep Gift Tags

Cut a piece of shrink plastic to a size just a tad larger than the picture you are going to trace.

Knit gift tag

Carefully tape your plastic over the picture (this is optional really, it helps to keep the plastic in place making the tracing easier, but you could just hold it in place with your hand if you thought that would work for you).

how to make a gift tag

Using a black permanent marker trace your picture onto the plastic.

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Remove your plastic from the drawing underneath and carefully cut around it, using your small sharp scissors, leaving a couple of millimetres between your drawing and the edge. This is the tricky part!

gift tags for hand knits

Using the hole punch, punch a hole in his tail, this is so you can thread a piece of string/yarn through it so that you can attach it later. ¬†You might want to practice the positioning of your hole on a piece of paper first, so you can work out how far in you need to go, I won’t lie, I messed this up on my first attempt!

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If you like you can do a little colouring at this stage or if you like a classic look leave him plain.  I coloured in the faces, legs and ears of mine.

sheep gift tags

And now you’re ready for the fun part, baking! ¬†Follow the instructions on your shrink plastic and watch your little sheep curl up, shrink and flatten down again.

I had a couple of pieces of parchment paper and a heavy book ready, then as soon as I took them out the oven I popped them between the 2 sheets and put the book on top to help flatten them further.

knitting gift tags

You can then varnish them if you would like them to have a glossier finish.

And there you have it, little sheep gift tags, perfect little bobbins to accompany your beautifully crafted hand knit and crochet pieces.

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Design Wars ::

Design Wars #5 was announced this week and I’m thrilled to say I am going to be taking part.

If you haven’t heard about Design Wars before, it’s basically a challenge wherein 10 designers battle it out to come up with the best crochet design which is voted for over 5 categories. The only theme is that all the designers must use the same yarn, which is provided by Red Heart. I use Red Heart a lot for my Crochet Today designs, so I’m fairly familiar with them and really pleased with the choice of yarn we’re going to be using.

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There are some really great designers taking part in the round and I cannot wait to see what everyone comes up with.

If you fancy checking out the other designers you can find their facebook pages listed below ::

Jenny Allbritain :: Susan Carlson :: Sarah Lora :: Sascha Blase-van Wagtendonk :: Crystal Bucholz :: Lisa van Klaveren :: Alessandra Hayden :: Tara Murray :: Katie Hanken

To keep up to date with all the Design Wars going ons you can sign up to their mailing list here.

Stay tuned here for more details as I can reveal them!