The Wedding Shawl Take #2

A friends daughter got married couple of weeks ago. I left the wedding shawl knitting to the last minute. It was touch and go for a while if I would even finish it. I cast on the Sunday night with the yarn I bought a few weeks previously in This Is Knit. A last minute road trip to Dublin was perfect timing when I needed urgent yarn…thanks to Bernie for driving down *waves! It was a perfect day (we need to go back soon!). When we arrived at TIK Jenny very kindly helped me choose the right yarn…thanks Jenny!! *waves

I got a preview of the dress and knew I needed the whitest yarn I could find. Finding nice white yarn is harder than you think! After I knit my friend Lisa’s wedding shawl last year (I wrote a blog post about it here) I knew I was going for the Holden shawl pattern again. The bride was wearing her mums dress and it was vintage, so I knew this shawl style would work – just enough lace pattern on edge.

So I went into TIK with the plan to find sock weight yarn but I came out with lace!  And extra pretty lace at that…Juniper Moon Farm Findley Lace in the brightest white. What I loved most about this yarn was the fibre content – mulberry silk and merino. Perfect for a wedding shawl! The merino is super soft and the silk gives a nice sheen, plus it’s perfect for shawls as silk gives good drape.

So the shawl knitting commenced on the Sunday night. I knit furiously for two days. By Wednesday evening I was casting off :-O …four days to knit a shawl!!! My best record yet lol. To finish the shawl needed a good soak and then wet block. I needed to drop it down to my friends house that evening…so out the hair dryer came lol. Drying the shawl slowly, switching between hot and cool air did the trick. The shawl was done and delivered just in time!!! Phew.

The wedding was in Donegal and I’ve yet to see pictures of the bride, and the shawl in action! In the rush to get it finished I didn’t have much time to photograph but I did manage these couple of shots…

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Big Garden Bird Watch 2016

Did you know that more than half a million people are taking part in the ‘Big Garden Bird Watch’ this weekend?

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The RSBP website has all the details of how to take part, just click on the link at the bottom if the post.

This annual event in the UK run by the RSPB tracks what bird species are seen in your garden over the weekend.

Statistics show that Starlings and Song Thrushes in particular have declined by around 70% or 80% since the event started in 1979.

December 2015 was both the warmest and wettest month in the UK for more than 100 years. This means you are unlikely to see many birds in your garden as they become less reliant on bird feeders, because milder weather means more food available out in the countryside.

We have feeders in our garden, and I must say we see many many birds using them including finches, robins, blue tits, starlings, black birds, doves, wood pigeons and plenty a magpie and crow. We even have a sneaky squirrel who is pretty fond of the nuts and suet balls!!

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Our sneaky squirrel caught on camera!

You can still get involved. Just visit the RSPB website and register here

Friday FO: Tryghed Hat

I love hats. I mean I really LOVE hats! They make the best projects when you are looking for something portable that will knit up relatively quickly.  I have knit a lot of hats too. Some for gifts and some for myself. In the winter time I think its essential to always have a hat to hand. If your head is warm then your heart is warm!

Once of my favourite hats at the moment is my Tryghed.

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Designed by Karie Westermann this hat is stunning! The word Tryghed is Danish for “feeling safe, secure and comfortable”, and this hat certainly makes you feel comfortable. The hat is made with one skein so its a great project for stash busting.

Karie’s pattern version was made using a rustic worsted weight yarn and after a stash dive I opted to use Malabrigo Rios in ‘Ivy’.  I made mine into a beanie style with a brown pompom on top but Karie says you can choose to block it out as a semi-beret too (as shown in the pattern image). To finish mine off I added a pompom to top.

I absolutely love the simplicity of the design using a rib pattern that converges at the crown, making it a pretty cosy fit and definitely great for this time of year with all the cold and wet winter days.

If you’d like to make your own Tryghed you can buy on ravelry here

What handmade knits are you wearing this winter?

Confessions of a Knitter

Okay so I have a confession to make.  I have become seriously addicted to crochet and I never thought I’d say that either!

I’ve been a knitter for many many years.  But I have always had a desire to learn to crochet. However, I have never been able to pick up this skill…until now that is.

Like some knitters I was very anti-crochet for a long time – but secretly this is really because we just can’t get the hang of it (our brains don’t compute the one hook versus ther two needles), and we don’t want to admit that out loud.

I attended a class once with a very experienced crocheter who I must admit I did not take to at all. Her teaching technique included wacking me on the head. Seriously!! …and I’m not talking 1900 times either this was only in 2014. It was done once and I was not impressed at all. You don’t expect to pay to get whacked on the head during a class. Even if it was meant as a joke it was highly inappropriate.  So I’m sure you won’t be surprised to know that I didn’t go back.

But even after this bad experience I still had a desire to learn. So I started to look online (thank goodness for the Internet!!) and watch YouTube videos and practice my heart out.

The biggest challenge I found was the terminology – British terms versus American terms. But with lots of practice…and I do mean lots and lots of practice, I slowly started to grasp the basic stitches.

I started granny stripes. Then I moved to granny squares. Then I decided to jump into making a blanket. Yes a blanket, though just a very simple granny stripe blanket.

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An oportunity to stashdown was too good to miss so I dug out all the leftover DK yarns and started, randomly picking colours. Round and round I went, each granny square stripe made the blanket grow and grow. To the point where I was using almost a full 50g ball of yarn a stripe.

So on my fourth blanket now and I’ve decided to jump the next step on my crochet adventure and make some small granny squares in different colours and add these around the edge of this one.

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Okay so this doesn’t sound like such a great leap, but to a beginner crocheter this is huge. Mega in fact!! Making a small granny square X 42 was grand but figuring out how to attach them to the main blanket was not. Thank goodness for the Internet. I used YouTube videos to help me get the hang of it – I’m a visual learner so this is perfect for my learning style.

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Initially I decided to add a pale pink border around all the stripes joining them as I went, with the plan to add them once I had a long stripe side joined. But after a few were joined I decided didn’t like the pink colour against the main blanket. So I ripped. And actually that’s not that bad. Very quick to rip and crochet is very quick to make again once you know how…much faster than knitting!

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So I decided to add each square on individually as I went. But the next issue I had was millions of ends – what I didn’t know now at the time was you could hide them as you go – that’s for the next blanket!!

So for now I have made a blanket about a metre square. Crochet rocks! I’m planning to keep going, in fact I’m considering another mini square border. What do you think? Do you crochet? Have you any tips to share? What you working on?

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Friday FO: Marilyn

Well hello again folks..and very Happy New Year to you all!! Did you make any new years resolutions? If you did have you been sticking to them? Or perhaps not?

Did you know by now (mid January) most people have got out of the habit and drifted back into their old ways. So this year I’ve not bothered with the pain of resolutions. Not that I ever actually really did them anyways but you will remember back in 2014 I decided to cold sheep for 6 months – I did 5 months in the end but it only made me go crazy buying when I came off the sheep. So I’ve learnt that this sort of resolution shit doesn’t work for me.

So this year I’m doing goal setting, small baby steps to help me move towards my bigger goals. But by now you are probably thinking why am I telling you all this…

Well in the background for the last year or so I have been doodling designs, making samples, writing patterns, and even going as far as getting some test knit…but sadly I’ve lacked the confidence to actually publish the darn things.

So this year is about pushing that fear (as Susan Jeffer’s said “…feel the fear and do it anyway!”) and throwing it in the skip and just doing it. So I have…I’ve only gone and bloody published my first pattern folks!!

Let me introduce Marilyn

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Marilyn is a wide scarf that is knit in one piece from edge to edge; that is also large enough to use as a wrap draped around your shoulder on colder days.  The pattern sample was knit using Debbie Bliss Fine Donegal yarn in a really gorgeous colourway called “Autumn Gold“.  I’m a huge fan of Debbie’s yarn and this one doesn’t disappoint. Not only is the colour range fabulous (it comes in 24 different shades) but I think the yardage per ball is pretty generous at 380 metres.

The inspiration for this pattern came from one of my favourite classic films “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes“. I love the oldies, the Carry Grants, the Dories Days, the Audrey Hepburns. I was flicking through one of my stitchionary books and came across a diamond panel I liked. That was the beginning of the design and the reason for the pattern name.

The pictures were taken my myself at the local harbour in Carrickfergus. I have been developing my photography skills over the last year and its has become one of my favourite places to dander around. Its actually very relaxing just wondering about clicking away with the camera. These pictures were taken on my bridge camera but I have just invested in a Nikon DSLR so I’m hoping that I will get better with the manual mode function going forward. The only problem I’m sure most people have is finding a willing model. (I’m actually looking for someone to model some mitts and hats – if your interested give me a shout plz!!)

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So as I hit the publish button last Sunday my anxiety hit the roof. The chatterbox went into overdrive. But my dear knitting friends cheered me on. I love them all dearly, they are such a great bunch of gals. I even got a pengiun cheering me on with pompoms… thanks Laura!! And thanks to the rest of you for all your kind wishes on twitter and facebook.

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To make you will need 3.25mm needles and 415 yards of fingering weight yarn.  You could use a heavier weight yarn if you wish, or likewise a lace weight but you will need to factor that the yardage will differ from the pattern.  I’d actually love to see Marilyn knit up in a variety of yarn weights, especially a heavier yarn like Aran/Worsted. Though obviously you may need to reduce the yarn repeats otherwise you might end up with a blanket…unless that’s what you want lol.

The pattern is available to purchase on ravelry here and until midnight on Sunday 17th January 2016 you can grab this pattern for 30% off with the code MARILYN1ST – happy knitting!

So the pressure is off a little. Now I’ve managed to publish one and ticked my ‘one a month’ goal for January I feel great! I’d love to hear your thoughts about Marilyn. Would you knit it and if so what yarn would you use?

In the meantime I’m already working on my next design, which will be out soon. What’s on your needles?