My own take on Low Tide (from Tin Can Knit)

I am baaaaack!
We are back into the magic real of yarn and today I wish to share a very special journey.

Between March and April we celebrate a few birthdays in my family: my mom on 29 March,  then my brother on 5 April and last my Sister-in-law on 14 April.

It is tradition for me to try and make hand made presents for my family members as much as I can and birthdays are the perfect occasion for me to plan ahead of time and find the perfect item I cam make for them.

Today I am going to show you what I made for my sister-in-law Shall. Shall is really close to me, I feel blessed that we liked each other right away and we care genuinely for one other like if we were proper sisters. It is not always the case with extended family, and since I moved to the UK to be with her brother, I feel double blessed that his whole family accepted me so well. It certainly made my life easier in a foreign country 😀

A couple of things to know about Shall. She is really active, down to earth and practical, but she is also a very girly girl when she wants to. This year being “girly” seemed to have become the main theme of her birthday celebrations, most of us picked up this vibe for her special day. It could also be that for the first time in a long time she hosted a pamper night for her girlfriends.

Side note: the pamper night was great, I met a lovely bunch of ladies and I also purchased some products for myself. If you are interested in beauty, then you should really have a look at what this brand sells. Bonus factor: it is all natural and cruelty free (aka vegan friendly)! Have a look yourself at Tropic products.

But I digress, back to the knitting part of the story.

I wanted to make her something special for when she goes out and meet with friends. I wanted it to be something nice, but versatile at the same time, so that she would not feel pressured into just wearing it “on special occasions”.

The solution came from TinCanKnit and her gorgeous pattern called Low Tide (Ravelry link). I fell in love the moment I saw it and I knew it was going to be the perfect sweater for Shall.

The pattern called for a 4ply yarn, and since Shall is vegan I thought that Rowan Summerlite 4 ply Cotton would be a perfect choice. I selected the shade 418 Washed Linen. Thank you Doreen from The Knitting Corner for providing me with the yarn I needed in a super speedy way. Ah, did I forget to tell you? I started this project on 17 March less than a month away from her birthday (I love to knit on the edge, so far for planning ahead).

The pattern asks to knit the bodice in three parts first. It is a lace bodice, and I really enjoyed knitting it. This is a picture of it in the making (some of you may have already seen this picture on my Instagram account – find me @Simply.Yarn).

The cotton knitted beautifully. I was really impressed with the quality of the spun.It never splitted once and the gauge was spot on.

The pattern also advised to block the bodice pieces into shape in order to get the exact measurements for the size you are knitting. I will not lie, I was nervous. Cotton does not stretch that much, and I admit it here in shame… I don’t own a blocking mat and pins set. So I had to improvise. Don’t laugh.. we need to be inventive from time to time. This is how I resolved the issue at hand.

It was not beautiful, and it was not very safe for the fingers… but it did the trick. I wet blocked the bodice and I put it together in order to knit the rest of the sweater.

Then a long marathon of stockinette stitch began. I knitted on circular needles back and forth since I had about 270 sts on my 3.5 mm pins. The pattern called for the body to be 14 inches (about 35 cm) long. I added a few extra rows as I liked my edge to be in garter stitch so that it would not roll up.

Once the body was done I tackled the shoulders. Be aware that if you want to knit your own Low Tide it calls for the short row shaping technique, no panic as I know there are many tutorials on line if you need any help. This was my first time doing it, but I was really lucky as I had a knitting masterclass hosted at The Knitting Corner a week before Shall’s birthday where the tutor showed it to us in person (perfect timing!).

Last step was chosing the right buttons for the front. I had selected two options. Can you guess which one I went for?

No need to add anyhting more. I was delighted with the result. The pattern creates a perfect shape and fits many different body types. The yarn was simpy sublime to work with, it is extremely soft and the draping it creates is beautiful.

Thank you Doreen once again for letting me take some pictures in her yarn shop on a proper manniquin (we saved Shall from having to model it during her birthday celebrations).

I give you my own version of the Low Tide from Tin Can Knit; I also made the sleeves a little bit longer and added the same garter edge that I already had knitted at the bottom of the sweater (bonus of the picture: gorgeous yarns in the background!).

And now a few closer shots of the bodice. From the back…

…and the front (did you guess right about the buttons?).

That’s it for this post! Next one will be about a gorgeous pattern that I found online… for free! Stay tuned!

Free cat toy crochet pattern… upcycle and entertain your kitty at the same time.

Happy New Year!
I was hoping to make this post before Christmas, just to offer you all the chance to create a simple and fast crochet cat toy for your own kitty, but as usual life happens and I didn’t manage to do so.

I hope you will enjoy the pattern anyway and hopefully your furballs will enjoy it even more.

This is the final look of the cat toy:

To make your own you will need:

  • 4 mm crochet hook
  • scraps of DK yarn in 2 shades (A & B)
  • 1 toilet paper tube
  • 1 small organza bag (or small piece of light fabric tied up)
  • catnip
  • 1 small jingle bell (optional)
  • tapestry needle to weave the ends in

The toy is worked from the bottom up, in spiral rounds, so there is not join slip stitch at the end of each round.

Round 1: With colour A work 6 sc in the magic ring (6 scs)

Round 2: work 2 sc in each sc (12 scs)

Round 3: work *2 sc in the next sc, 1 sc* – repeat till the end of the round (18 scs)

Round 4: work *2 sc in the next sc, 2 sc* – repeat till the end of the round (24 scs)

Round 5: work *2 sc in the next sc, 3 sc* – repeat till the end of the round (30scs)

Round 6: work 1 sc in each sc in the back loop only (30 scs)

Round 7 & 8: work 1 sc in each sc (30 scs)

Round 9: Change to colour B ch 2, 1 hdc in each sc, (30 hdcs)

Round 10: Change to colour A, work 1 hdc in each hdc (30 hdcs)

Round 11 – 18 Repeat rounds 9 and 10 (total 10 rounds of hdcs)

Round 19 & 20: work 1 sc in each hdc (30 scs)

Round 21: work 1 sc in each sc in the back loop only

Round 22: work *2 sc tog in the next sc, 3 sc* repeat till the end of the round (24 scs)

Round 23: *2 sc tog in the next sc, 2sc* repeat till the end of the round (18 scs)

Fill the bag or the fabric with catnip and place it inside the paper tube

Round 24: *2 sc tog in the next sc, 1 sc* repeat till the end of the round (12 scs)

Round 25: 2 sc tog till the end of the round ( 6 scs)

Round 26: ch 30, cut the yarn leaving more or less 35 cm long tail (or enough for you to work a slip stitch into each chain) with the aid of the tapestry needle thread the yarn through the jingle bell, slip stitch in each ch stitch.

Secure the yarn tightening the center of the last round. weave the ends in.

This toy has been tested on all of our 5 cats… in particular Nimue and Romeo have really appreciated the tail of the toy with the jingle bell.

Holidays gone, so back to business!

Back in England after wedding season in Italy!
It feels good to be home, even if I have to admit I enjoyed being on holiday and able to relax.

One of the most amazing things about Italy is that the weather really differs from region to region.
For the last wedding of the year (congratulations again Laura and Mauro!) we were on Garda Lake. The sun was shining and we had about 28 degrees. Not too bad for late September!

Have a look and judge for yourself if it doesn’t look like we were still in full Summer!

These pictures were taken in Gargnano, one of the beautiful little towns on the Garda Lake (and some of my family lives there, so I guess advertising is always good).

The wedding was on the weekend then on Sunday afternoon we traveled to the Alps to my beloved Bormio. As a child first and as a teenager later, I spent most of my Summers in there. There are so many good memories for me stored in the narrow cobblestone roads of that town and I enjoyed sharing them with Steven (the BF).

Our time in the Alps was really lovely even if we got surprised by … the SNOW. Yes it is not uncommon for it to snow at such altitude, still it was only late September! Despite the couple of gray days we also had a really clear sky and a preview of the Alps in white, which is always something magical.

As I said in the beginning now we are back in England and life went back to our normal routine.

Going to Tesco to do our normal food shopping run, I noticed that Christmas food, decorations and themed items are already on display available for purchase.

It always seems that Christmas creeps on me with little or no notice, so this time I decided to start working on my handmade decorations early (or at least I am trying to).

So off with my first project.
I tried my hand at a knitted star decoration. I made this using King Cole Glitz (variegated yarn in Christmas colours). Here it is:

The pattern is not mine, so I am just going to leave you the link if you want to try it yourself It is called “Iron Craft Challenge #24 – Knit Star Ornaments”

I think the result is really pretty, but the amount of sewing required to assemble the star is not for me. I guess it depends on your own pet peeves, mine is sewing so this one will remain a lone star 😀

On the other hand, I like the yarn. It is really festive and it feel great while knitting (despite being a 97% Acrylic 3% Polyester mix).

So I tried it on a different project.. A classic Christmas bauble! I modified a basic pattern called “Pretty Christmas Bauble from Val Pierce” published on Deramores website. The pattern is worked flat and designed to cover a stiff plastic bauble. Instead, I worked it in round and filled the bauble with polyester filling (that’s also why my bauble is not a perfect round shape).

I can see these projects are cute, but they are not what I am going for. I guess I will have to keep experimenting and trying different ideas. I still have to finish a crochet project that I started this late Summer and maybe that will do the trick.

For now I enjoy having this lovely Christmas yarn and scouting the internet for inspiration. If you have a pattern that you think it will work well with it, please feel free to share it with me!

More wedding stuff!

So as I anticipated in my last post, this year I have been invited to four weddings!
It surely is exciting that so many people are in love and decided to get married, a little less thrilling is the fact that three of these wedding are concentrated within three weeks and are divided between two countries.

I am also maid of honour for two of the three, so I had my work cut out for myself. I already attended a wedding in April, in Rome and it was simply a delight; now I am preparing for a three week intense wedding attendance (first in line is tomorrow).

Two of the brides asked me to make them a personalised wedding ring pillows, and I gladly accepted.

Lisa’s wedding colour scheme is going to be lilac, Tiffany blue and silver. In my head it was something looking like this:

I considered my options and I decided that for her wedding ring pillow the best choice would be Lilac with a silver brooch. She will add a Tiffany blue ribbon when I give it to her. As Lisa likes simple, but pretty things I decided to use my most classic design. This is the result:

Once I finished it I was really pleased with it (and so far she is too, at least from the picture I sent her through Whatsapp). I can only hope that next week, when she will have to use it for the cerimony, she will still be.

Lisa has been a very close friend of mine since I was 7 years old, we really went through a lot together and since now I live in England and she is back in Italy, I didn’t have the chance to be there to help her through the preparations for her big day.

Moved by the desire to make something special and unexpected for her, I decided to also make her a bridal bag. Lisa does crochet and knitting as well, so I am pretty sure she will appreciate this kind of gift 🙂
I wanted something small enough not to bother her during the wedding, but at the same time big enough to store her phone and some other small objects.

There were many options of patterns out there, both on Ravelry and on other blogs, but nothing really spoke to me. After trying and failing, I decided to create something new and inspired by her.

This is what I called Lisa’s wedding bag. I used some Italian cotton I had in shade white and lavender, but Rico Design Crochet Essential Cotton DK white and violet would do just fine.

The bag is about 13.5 cm tall and 13 cm wide at the base. As you can see I also applied a little rose on the side which I found on the Lion Brand website as an embellishment for another bridal bag. If you want to make it you can find it here, just sign up for the Lion Bran website to access their stunning patterns.

I also had some beads, small little pearls that I thought could really add some extra spark to the bag. I used them at the end of the cord.

As I carried the two colour yarns along the inside really looked tidy, without many loose ends to weave in, but something was missing. A beautiful satin lining!

I am not seamstress, I can sew my crochet or knitting together, but sewing (by hand or with a sewing machine) is definitely not my trade.

[*Begin of a little digression on my private life. I was recently gifted a sewing machine by a wonderful lady who knew I wanted to learn, but at the moment I am still reading the manual and this project was definitely not one I wanted to sacrifice to the Gods of learning.*End of digression on my own private dreams and missing achievements*]

Luckily for me I am surrounded by very talented and skillful people, and this time it was Eve who came to the rescue. She not only lined the bag for me, but she also showed me how to do it (with the hope I could replicate it on my own on a different project).

The lining was the perfect final touch, it also gave the bag the support it needed. Thank you Eve!

The othe bride of mine *giggles* is Italian but now lives near me here in England. Having her close meant that I could be more involved in her wedding preparations.

She went for a more traditional colour scheme, Ivory and Red. A classic and fancy choice. Since I knew a little bit more about her choices for the venue and the wedding I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone and try to add some beading to my crochet. I took one of my wedding ring pillow design and I modified it a little so that I could place some pearls on the front. This is how it turned out.

I honestly cannot say who was the most excited, if the bride or me when I finished it. She has it already (hers is the first wedding of the September season) so I am positive she really liked it. [*Phew*]

As she saw the bag I made for Lisa’s big day she pulled out her best puppy eyes to me and asked me if I could make her another one in the colours of her wedding. One week more or less to her wedding and I took my crochet hook out and whipped out her own version of the bag.

This time I used thicker yarns (Sirdar Soukie gold dust, Patons Smoothie red, and some doubled Anchor Artiste Metallic silver) as she wanted those specific hues in her bag. I had to modify the pattern but I believe the result is beautiful nonetheless.

So today here I am, ironing the last bits of our dress and suit to start this wedding season. We start tomorrow and it will be a long and exciting September month.

If you liked my bag, keep an eye on my Ravelry shop page, the pattern for Lisa’s wedding bag will be published there soon 🙂 Simply Yarn on Ravelry.

*** UPDATE ***

The pattern to make your own Bridal bag  is available for digital download on Ravelry, click here.

Wedding time! .. No, not for me, do not panic!

We are in May and wedding season has officially started.

Both here in the Uk and back home in Italy from now till September will be the busiest period of the year for weddings.

I am not getting married (God knows I tried, but the boyfriend doesn’t hear from that ear) but on the other hand I was invited not to one, but to four weddings! I already attended first one in April. We were in the beautiful Rome and it was organised in a medieval village. Needless to say it was lovely.

The next three ones will all be in September, one will be here in the UK and the last two will be in Italy.

All this love and marriage fancy in the air was inspirational.

I decided to create something that would be traditional in the use, but a little unconventional in the look.

I chose to create a ring bearer pillow (or cushion, there seems not to be an international agreement on how to call it) with a crochet cover.

My first attempt was definitely close to a classic design:

I really loved the design, and it fitted perfectly the small satin pillow I had prepared. Thrilled by it I felt adventurous and I experimented with unusual colours. I tried a dark purple

and, yes, a little extreme, but I also tried black!

I am aware that those are bold colour choices, but I think they represent quite a good balance between classic and modern. I know there are few people out there who might choose to have a goth themed wedding that would go for something like this.

NOW… It was time to experiment with some different designs!
My little experience with my Christmas items helped a lot when I put down the pattern with this lacy one in Cadbury purple.

And my past experience at crochet doilies, allowed me to come up with this summer- inspired orange (maybe too full?) one:

I started feeling a little like a wedding crochet fairy ! Nothing could stop my creativity ! Another colour, another design! Why not try and combine two different sides together? To avoid making it look too weird, I decided to stick with a traditional rose pink.

I really enjoyed making these, and I am also considering publishing the patterns, but for now I will just see if anyone likes them as much as I do. So far I got two commissioned for friends and family, not too bad as a beginning!

They are available at my Etsy shop if you want one 🙂

Now … time to take out the hook and come up with matching wedding favours!

All the pillows, but the white one have been created with Rico Essentials Crochet.

A new adventure for me! Introducing the Galaxy Cowl!

Hello everyone.
As I had anticipated in my previous post it is time for me to share some exciting news.

I have opened an Etsy shop and I also added a pattern for sale on Ravelry!

Since I enjoy knitting and crochet so much I thought it was time to see if my makes would be interesting to others.

I was reassured by the nice results that some of my free patterns had on Ravelry (if you fancy a visit to my pattern store in there, just click here).

Yes, I totally understand that everything that comes for free is more interesting than when you need to pay for it, but I also thought it was time for a new challenge!

Ravelry is such an important source for us knitters and crochet enthusiasts that I have to admit it is a little intimidating to upload something there for sale and hoping that others will love my own design as much as I do. Nevertheless I loved this project so much I decided to take a leap of faith and publish its pattern for sale.

This is what I named The Galaxy Cowl.

It is knitted in round with RIco Design Galaxy Chunky yarn which has sequins already attached to it. I love the spiral effect of the running rib. The colours and the softness of this yarn really fascinated me.

I also loved the fact that since I worked it in round the cowl was also totally reversible.

The pattern is available for sale as digital download. I wrote down the instructions for both knitting in round and knitting on straight needles, trying to made it available for everyone. Of course, if you knit it flat you will have to sew the side and the seam will be the back of the garment. If you want to purchase it you can just click on the following picture and you will be redirected to Ravelry.

The same pattern as a PDF is also availbe as a listing on Etsy. In there I also put on sale items that I made either from commercial or my own patterns. I am exploring new ranges, so besides my beloved garments and accessories, I also added some home decor ideas.

The Spring has begun, Summer is just behind the corner… I am confident that many more items will appear on my listings.

I am really excited about this, so even if you don’t want to buy anything, but you feel like you wish to give me some feedback I will be glad to hear from you.

Now without further delay, i give the almighty LINK to visit my Etsy shop. I will post updates in here about the making of some of the objects, so if you are patient and you are interested you will also find the pattern of my own original designs.

Speak soon, now I run out to enjoy the sunshine!

The charm of knitting socks.

I too have my own personal knitting fears.

SOCKS

I always admired those knitters who were able to knit sock after sock after sock effortlessly, because I felt I was totally useless when it came to socks. (Trust me, I had attempted several times, and I have only obtained something shaped like boomerangs).

Sock yarns come in many beautiful shades, they look so delicate and precious. On Facebook too, I saw many people flaunt their hand made sock yarns and I always felt I would be unable to make them justice.

But a few weeks ago I entered a charity shop and I thought I received a sign from the knitting gods: they were selling (almost for nothing I have to admit) several balls of Rico Superba Stripy sock yarn.

I was meant to have them as my time for tackling socks had come! I got so overexcited that I bought all the EIGHT balls they had available (sigh!).

Since my passion and interest for socks had started a long time ago I already had a few knitting magazines entirely devoted to socks patterns. Going through one I had bought in Italy I was struck by a super girly design. Looking a little more into the pattern I discovered they had published this DROPS DESIGN pattern (simply click the link to get it).

I got the sock yarn, I got my set of 5 DPN 3.0 mm needles … my sock adventure begun.

I loved the little lace pattern, it was really super easy to follow and I thought the result was quite remarkable.

This pattern was great because after finishing the lace ankle decoration I simply had to reverse the knitting inside out and continue to knit the rest of the sock.

The heel was a straight one, so no problems there. The picking up of the stitches to work the gusset was more or less smooth too (even if the second socks benefited from the knowledge I acquired by doing of the first one).

After the tricky bits the long marathon of knitting the length of the foot begun, but the stripy yarn kept me entertained.

I have to say I really like working in rounds. I love to see the knitted fabric all in one piece. There is no greater satisfaction to me than knowing I won’t have to sew the pieces together. No really, look at it.. so pretty and even!

When I finished the first sock I was really thrilled. I tried it on to check the size and it fit perfectly (I wear size 38 shoes – European). The only not so cool fact about socks is that you need to repeat exactly the same pattern twice. Repetition is not my forte…

In addition since I am not able to work on only one project at the time, it took me a few weeks to complete the pair. But lo and behold, I managed to knit my first ever pair of socks!! (before blocking).

I was a little concerned because they felt a little stiff and not soft at all. The composition of the yarn is 75% Superwash wool and 25% Polyamide so I was expecting them to feel different.

All my worries were literally washed away after the first wash for the wet blocking. As they touched the water they became super soft and snuggly.

The only problem left was taking a good picture of my feet with them on… I refuse to buy a selfie stick just to take a better picture of my socks, so I am sorry this weird perspective picture has to do.

Warm happy feet !

If you have tricks and tips to share about knitting socks I will be more than happy to hear them!
Happy knitting!