Monday, 28 March 2011

Strangeness and Charm

A Tale of Two Yarns (2KCBWDAY1)

Sometimes, I really cannot handle the unpredictability of sock yarns.  Take for example Hot Socks Circus 

"Wowzers!" you might rightly be thinking, "that is one exciting lookin' ball-o-yarn!".  There's no shame in it - that's exactly what I thought too.  It's also exactly the thing that made me buy a ball, even though I'd already gone over twice my craft budget for the week ("Shush your lips, Responsibility!")

Next comes The Choosing Of The Pattern.  Most sane people choose their patterns first and then purchase an appropriate yarn - a sensible way of doing things.  But as you may have gathered from my rebellious approach to budgeting ("Kim, do you really need food this week?"), sensible isn't really part of my repertoire.

A quick delve into my ever expanding Rav queue provides me with something promising though: Sharon Maher's Suggestion Square  And I figure that I can do something like this amazing rainbow.  Next thing you know I'm hooking like a good'un...

...until this happens.

It's not even an 'ugh!', it's an 'aaargh!'

What happened to those lovely colours?!  What is the point of a teensy tiny colour repeat?  Why do sock yarn designers insist on including those silly speckle things? 
Just why?!

So now I'm stuck.  I really want to carry on with this idea I've got.  I convince myself that maybe it's not so bad, I just need to make a few more...


I know it's not really awful, and that some people make really good use of the speckles, but it's just not what I wanted...

Then a lovely shiney bright light of hope: another Rav yarn search, and off to ebay I go ("Just pay your rent next week, I'm sure the landlord won't mind").

Oh my!  Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball Lace, I think I'm in love!  ("Hot Socks who?!").  Since ebay doesn't provide any pre-purchace squidging ops, that has to be made up for upon delivery.  I squidged and stroked and just looked at this for ages.  All 800m of it!!  Quite perverse really...

But yes, we've been through this before.  And although this time I'd had a sneak preview via Ravelry's project pages, I still wasn't entirely sure if it would work.  So out of cowardice more than anything, I started some of Gaby Vicente's Square Shells rather than the original blocks.

...and holy moly!  I'm LOVING how these come out

I'll be making lots of these.  LOTS.  And then some more after that.

Except that they're TEENSY, and not at all suitable for blanket making.  And now, having previewed this post, I think I want to try the Suggestion Squares with the Zauberball.  Gaaah!

My conclusions on sock yarns then are thus:

Really the problem with self-striping or self-patterning yarns is that you can't tell what it will turn into just by looking at the ball.  Sometimes it's obvious, and sometimes you can have a little check via Rav, but not always.  It's especially difficult when your LYS is a good 35 minute train journey away, because that's when impulses get the better of you ("If you buy it now, you'll save money on another train ticket.  It's practically a half price deal!").

It's not that I don't like the Hot Socks (well, stupid speckles aside, but I can live with that).  I love the drastic colour changes, I love the texture and the feel of it on the hook, I even love the shorter colour repeats in small doses.  It's just not really what I'd hoped for.
And as for the Zauberball, I'll admit it's not entirely perfect ("Shhh, it might hear you!"), but it's as close to perfect as I've ever found in a self patterning yarn.

Perhaps the only real problem left to discuss is user error? ;)

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Are You Ready?

Blog week starts tomorrow!  It's come at the perfect time - I've been a bit lacking in my blog responsibilities recently (more on that soon!).  I'm excited though - I can't wait to read what other people make of the topics.

So, as of tomorrow, there will be a post-a-day for you to enjoy.  :D

If you'd like more info about blog week, or maybe you'd like to get involved yourself (it's never too late!!), then click on the advertisement in the sidebar.

See you tomorrow guys and gals! x

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Nuthatch [Free Pattern]

So, as promised in my previous post, here is the pattern for my new granny square, named "Nuthatch" in honour of this month's British Birds calender page (an awesome calendar). 

Nuthatch [Free Pattern]

I used a 4mm hook and DK weight yarn.  The pattern is written using US terms (however if you prefer UK-speak, there is a handy conversion chart here).

Sp = Space
Sl St = Slip stitch
Ch = Chain
Sc = Single crochet
Hdc = Half double crochet
Dc = Double crochet

Round 1
Create a magic loop (I really like this tutorial for the magic loop).  Into this, work 4sc loosely  Join with a sl st

Round 2
Ch1, 2sc into all sts, join with a sl st (8)

Round 3
Ch2 (counts as first dc), dc into same sp, 2dc into each sp around, join with sl st (16)

Round 4
Join a new colour into the same space:

...Ch2 (counts as first dc), 3dc into the same sp, Ch1.  *Skip 1 st, 4dc into next st, Ch1*  Repeat between * 7 times.  Join with sl st into top of initial Ch2

Round 5
Change colour - join new colour into any Ch1 sp.  Ch2 (counts as first dc), 2dc into same sp:

...Ch1, skip next sp, sc, skip next st, 3dc into next Ch1 sp, Ch1:

...Continue working (1sc, ch1, 3dc, ch1) around.  Join with sl st into top of initial ch2:

Round 6
Change colour.  Join new colour into any Ch1 sp which comes immediately after a 3dc cluster:

Do not chain.  Work 2sc into this sp, and 2sc into the next Ch1 sp: 1sc into each of the next two sts:

...3dc into the next Ch1 sp, ch1, then work 3dc into the next Ch1 sp:

...*work 1sc into each of the next two sps, 2sc into each of the next two Ch1 sps, 1sc into each of the next 2 sps, 3dc into next Ch1 sp, Ch1, 3dc into next Ch1 sp*.  Repeat between * until you have 4 corners, 1sc into next 2 sps.  Join with a sl st.

Round 7
Ch1, sc into the next 7 sts, 1hdc into the next st.  *Into the corner Ch1 sp, work (1dc, Ch1, 1dc):

...Into the next sp, work 1hdc, and then 11sc along the row, and 1hdc into the 12th st.*  Repeat between * until all 4 corners are completed, then work 1sc into each of the next 2 sts.  Join with a sl st.

You may like to work in your ends as you go (this is defs much easier and simpler), however I prefer to wait and then sew them all in with a tapestry needle, mainly because I worry about the ends working loose over time.  It is of course entirely up to you which method you choose - I'm probably being over cautious.

And there you have it!  One Nuthatch square finished!  :D  I have a few blocking at the moment - hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to show you how I'm going to use them :)

Hope you enjoy the pattern!  If you want to add to your Ravelry queue, you can do so here.

Much love,

"I've got a present for you!"

...said the postman this morning.  Oh boy, oh boy!!  A ma-HOO-sive parcel!  With my name on it!!  I'm a fan of this postman - he can clearly recognise a brilliant bit of mail when he sees it...

That's 4130 metres of Stylecraft Special goodness!  I ordered from the lovely folks at Masons a couple of days ago (and ssshh, don't tell anyone I told you, but they have some really amazing offers and discounts this month ;))  Scrumdiddlyumptious!


Top Row
*1425 Emperor
*1316 Spring Green
*1082 Bluebell

Second Row
*1435 Bright Pink
*1084 Magenta
*1422 Aspen
*1020 Lemon

Third Row
*1068 Turquise
*1390 Clematis
*1061 Plum
*1246 Lipstick

Bottom Row
*1023 Raspberry
*1081 Saffron
*1065 Meadow

I have PLANS for all this loveliness.  Perhaps a babette, perhaps something like a babette but not quite...  Hmm...  When I say "PLANS", I clearly mean it in the plural!


Aaaaand, today I'm happy not just because I received a present, but also because I get to give one too!  And guess what?  It's for YOU!  :D

Here's a sneaky little preview of my new granny square!  I'm off to write up the pattern now, and will share in a new post later today   You can now find the pattern here :)

Much love,

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Blank Canvas

It's another gloomy grey day out in North Wales...  luckily I have my orchid to cheer things up.  Those pink freckles are just so happy-making!

...another thing to be happy about: the granny stripe leftovers have been organised into complementary palettes as above, and been assigned to Specific Projects....

...which is where the blank canvas comes in.  I bought this pillow a few weeks ago in Lidl for just a couple of quid, and have been itching to work on a cover for it ever since.  The Rico and Patons leftovers seem like the ideal choice - I'll have a pillow that compliments, but doesn't match, my granny stripe.  Perfect! :)

And the extra exciting thing about this project is that I've written a new pattern especially to suit the yarn and the squareness of the pillow.  There are just a couple of tweaks to make, and if all goes well with this project, the pattern will be ready to share with you all!  :D

In other news, I'm now well underway with preparations for Blog Week.  This is my first time participating, but I'm very much looking forward to it.  If you'd like more info about what happens in blog week, and how to get involved, you can click on the little poster at the top of this page.

Anyhow, enough waffle from me, time to get back to some hooking!

Kim x

Monday, 14 March 2011

Granny in the Attic: ta-dah!

I'm very happy to introduce the newly finished Granny in the Attic (link will take you to its Ravelry project page).  Isn't it gorge?!

It feels so long since I stumbled upon this beauty on Lucy's Attic24 blog; so long since I was showing my mum every granny stripe photo I came across and repeating I just can't wait to make my own!!  (Sorry mum!  ;)) feels like a very long time ago indeed since the first batch of yarn arrived; so long since I set up this very blog just to chat about it.  I love that picture of each ball waiting patiently for its transformation :D

I sort of wish I'd taken more pictures of Granny's stripe-by-stripe progression.  Imagine how brilliant a time lapse video of her construction would be!  (Something to keep in mind for the inevitable Granny 2.0 I think)

Granny grew quickly.  Very quickly!  Many people have said the same thing about their own Granny projects - that there's something about them that becomes extremely addictive.

This, I think, is quite peculiar.  When you consider the criteria that many people (myself included) use to distinguish a good pattern from bad, there'll often be a nod to "not too repetitive" or "complicated enough to sustain interest".  By the time I finished my first blanket - an extended granny square - all I felt was relief.  I hated not just the double crochet, but crochet itself.  I despised it.  In fact, I didn't crochet anything else at all for almost a year.

But this time, I could quite happily start another Stripe tomorrow.  Most peculiar!  Perhaps it's watching the colours unfold? colour philosophy for this was simply "balance".  There was no hard and fast rule, just a general idea of not having two colours in the same order twice, whilst keeping the stronger reds and yellows distant enough from themselves that they didn't overwhelm the other shades.  This didn't always work, but I just went off instinct - if a colour choice broke a rule, but still looked good, then what the heck?

Now all I have to do is work out what to do with the leftovers...

There are a few ideas up my northern sleeve which were inspired by a recent trip back to Manchester.  All I need to do now is sit down with a hot drink and an episode of Heartbeat, and work out how to bring them to life...

...luckily I know just the blanket to keep me company while I do so ;)

Wednesday, 9 March 2011


Flicking through my sketchbook, I came across this page I doodled a few weeks ago.  Each of the birds is based on a google image, mixed in with a lot of artistic license.  Incidently, the little robin-esque bird on the bottom left is where the name of this blog came from (it's a happy looking egg I think.)

As always, I doodle these things full of intentions and promises, then semi-forget about them, or forget what they were for.  My attention span at times is just shocking!

But I brought this page out of hibernation to have a go at some embroidery.  It's not perfect, but I'm pretty happy with my first attempt at satin stitch.  I don't think he's finished yet either - I want to change his eye and beef up his wing a little bit, and perhaps give him a border of some sort - but I am excited about where he's heading.

He's taught me a lot (3 strands of floss for the outline was perhaps too much, for example), and I think I still have plenty to learn from him.

Once he's fully finished and looks "right", I might offer up the pattern for free if anyone is interested in showing me how it's done ;)

I hope you're all having a happy first day of Lent :)


Thursday, 3 March 2011

Potty Potter / Cable & Lace

Having spent so much time crocheting recently, I'd forgotten what a peculiar thing casting off knitting is.  It has a finality that isn't really matched for me when crocheting, and it can evoke so many feelings.  A sense of achievement is almost always at the top of the list, but there are many other things too: relief, sadness, joy and so on.  This hat has something of all those emotions woven in along with the yarn...

The pattern is the wonderful Hermione Hearts Ron by Christy Aylesworth.  Christy has done a really amazing job at recreating the hat featured in one of the Harry Potter films.  I'm pretty sure that even none Potty Potter fans would enjoy knitting this.

Unfortunately I had some issues with the last few rounds...  I miss-read one of the rows, and then I think picked up one too many stitches in the tink.  I don't think it's too noticeable though (fingers crossed no other knitters pay too much attention while I'm wearing it!)

You can find my Ravelry page for this project here.  I named it Lovecats in tribute to this song, which was stuck in my head for the duration:

And there we go!  That is (I think) the first bit of knitting to feature within the pages of this blog!  I hope you like it as much as I do :)

Much love,

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

A post in two parts

Hello everyone, and Happy St David's Day (or Croeso, Dydd Gwŷl Dewi Sant hapus for those who prefer a bit of Cymraeg).

This is the one and only daffodil in our garden at the moment.  Something of a sore subject since next door is rather more well-endowed in the daffodil stakes!  But not to worry.  Today has been such a lovely day both in terms of weather and wellbeing that it's difficult to mind...

Most of today has been spent out in the garden with my housemates - clearing up after winter and planting in some new bulbs (and also a sing-along or two).  It's looking brill, so fresh and spring-like.

As a reward for all of our hard work, we treated ourseslves to some jam and scones made from this really brilliant recipe on Inthesky's blog.  They were a massive hit, and I can see the recipe becoming a real household favourite :)


I also wanted to use this post to say thank you for the lovely response to the free pattern I posted last week :)  I didn't expect people to be quite so enthusiastic!!  For those of you who have an account with ravelry, there is now a Pretty Little Petals project page should you want to link them there/add to your queue etc.

At the moment, I'm working on a fair few things.  The granny stripe has stalled while I wait for the rest of the yarn to be delivered; I'm partway through the Hermione Hearts Ron hat which I LOVE; I have different ideas for crochet patterns (a bag, a tea cozy and a pair of gloves) and embroidery designs (based on the work of da Vinci!); and I'm pottering around trying to recreate a bee-YOU-tiful crochet blanket.  Plenty to keep me busy then!  At some point I'll pause in all that and blog a few proper posts about them.

Until then, I wish you all well and a happy spring!

Much love,