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!

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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!

Reminiscing of the past holidays.

Hello everyone. It has been some time since the last time I update the blog, I feel quite ashamed for it. Apologies.

Since I now live in the UK, Christmas has become the occasion when I push myself a little harder,travel back to my home country (Italy) and spend time with my family and the friends I left there, But despite how much you wish to do everything and see everyone, it seems you never have enough time in a day.
In addition this year I had a little additional problem to deal with… victim of the British icy cold mornings I fell at the beginning of December and I ended up like this.

and yes in case you are wondering I am left handed… I have to admit that having a splint didn’t prevent me from crochet, but knitting was out of the question.

The Christmas hanging decorations I was preparing took a backseat as I had to rush into making the last presents for my family. I am not going to lie, this year I thought I would end up not making them in time, but unexplicably I managed.

My first project was a set of two placemats for my cousing and her fiance. Since they always joke around being supporters of two different Italian football teams (Juventus and Milan A.C.) , I thought it would be nice to play on their playful rivalry. I hooked some Lily Sugar’n’Cream cotton in red, black and white and I set to work.

I love how they turned out and the button in the middle of the placemat, in the shape of a soccer ball really fit in nicely.

My other project was a special present for my brother. We share many passions, from computer games to music and comics. I decided that he deserved a mammoth project, like a blanket!

I scouted the internet for a suitable chart, I knew the present was going to be Super Mario (Nintendo) inspired, but I didn’t have a clear design in mind yet. I came across this pattern and chart on Ravelry and I knew it was the one Super Mario Mushroom Rug. I have nothing against granny squares, but I knew I wanted a more solid look for my squares. I eventually settled for this square pattern (only doing 3 rounds). And the crochet square marathon began..

As I landed in Italy (14th December) I was so far behind that I wanted to cry… I only had 20 white squares ready. For the next days there was no place I went that I didn’t bring my crochet with me. Eventually, the squares started to multiply.

For many many nights I didn’t hit the sack before 3 a.m. but I was determined, especially because as the squares took over, the blanket really started to take shape. It was exhilarating… for all the 180 squares I made.

A naughty little pink square tried to escape the pre-assembly picture, but it was put back into place soon after.

If preparing the squares took time, sewing them together was a task I seriously underestimated… yards and yards of whips stitches later… at 11 .a.m. of Christmas morning… the Mushroom blanket was ready.

Ok, after I finished I noticed I eventually had placed a pink square instead of a black one, but I thought it looked great anyway.

My brother was also very happy receiving it, and the little spark in his eyes (he will probably deny it was a tear) made all this huge effort worth it.

Pretty and big. If I had had more time I would have probably filled the edges with more black squares to make it more blanket like, and I also offered my brother to do so, but he said he loved it “just the way it was”.

This closes my (belated) Christmas posts. I know it sounds absurd, we are in February and we are already all immersed into Easter projects… but I really felt this projects and their stories deserved to be shared.

New exciting news (for me) coming up this year, so as soon as eveything is set up and running I will write about it.

I would love to see any of your family and friends projects, please share them below in the comments!

Christmas .. there is no better time to get hooked !

Hello everyone! First of all let me say I am sorry for the long silence.

Many things have happened since September that prevented me from posting in here; namely I lost my little gallbladder (not that I am sad it is gone, because lately it misbehaved creating me great discomfort to say the least).

I was away from the blog but I was not on rest from my crochet projects and my knitting needles.

This year Christmas has really creeped on me, and I am not proud to say I am falling behind making all the handmade presents I promised to family and friends.

In addition I will also be attending my first proper Christmas Craft Fair (exciting isn’t it?) this weekend and since my adventure as a crafter has just begun, I had to work hard to have something to display on the day.

I have now a few projects that I am happy to share wih you with the hope to inspire those of you who are still looking for ideas for gifts for family and friends.

I have to admit I fell in love with the idea of decorating Christmas baubles (side note: from a foreigner point of view I voted the word bauble as the most difficult to pronounce for year 2014).

I found many excellent ideas and pattern out there, these are a few:

I loved the pattern at first sight, and I was delighted to see the pattern creator made a VIDEO tutorial or us to follow.

As you can see I used unconventional colours (that’s my style) but I am sure any more tamed colour would work just as well. My version protrays Rico Essential Crochet in shades Purple, Light Green and Turquoise on a 2 mm hook.

As I know people might also want some sparkly Christmas ornament I scouted Ravelry and I went for this design:

For this one I was inspired by this Christmas Ornament by Susan M Allen that is on sale on Ravelry. I modified the pattern to fit my bauble which was made with Anchor Glitter in Silver shade and 2 mm hook. If you are in this sparkly traditional style I would seriously advise to browse her Ravelry Shop page as she really have many different designs available (click here to see her store page).

One more Christmas ornament decoration:

This also comes from a video tutorial made by the Crochet Crowd

I modified their pattern as I didn’t like the idea of cutting the yarn and restarting at the top of the loop (I am for more practical designs) especially since I used Grundl in Bronze shade with a 2 mm hook and metallic thread is a bit resistant to manipulations.

My last Christmas project for the day is a present for the daughter of friends (teenagers who love hand made yarn presents are the best). Her parents told me she was really into  Baby Groot for the movie Guardians of the Galaxy and asked me if I could make one for her. I also am in love with that little dancing twig,  have a look at it and I dare you not to find it cute.

I scouted the internet for help (it is not a immediate shape and construction) and I found this fantastic blog entry from Krawka crochet blog. Unfortunately I didn’t have any white pot and I had to improvise due to the limited time frame  I had before Christmas, but overall I am happy about my own version of Baby Groot.

Now I just need to polish the pot and send it over to a hopefully happy girl.

Next blog entry will be about crochet hanging decorations, I am still experimenting a bit with them so be patient, they will make an appearance as soon.

If you have any project to share I will be more than happy to see what you have been up to!

Crochet baby trainers, too cute not to make.

By now I think you all know that I love making baby inspired projects. The problem is I have no baby myself or around me. Since I relocated to the UK all my friends who are spawning little people are now in Italy.

Despite this, I still enjoy making little tiny things in the hope I will be able to gift them or sell them at some local craft event.

Recently I was smitten by this crochet pattern I found on Ravelry Crochet Baby Converse created by the talented Suzanne Resaul (she is also distributing the pattern for free, I love her!!).

I had some leftover cotton yarn (some Lily Sugar’n’ Cream and some Stylecraft Classique Cotton) so I decided to test the pattern. Since the two yarns have different weight, the shoes came out in two different sizes. I was left wondering which one would be the best fit for the tiny feet of a baby.

One day I was talking with my neighbour and she mentioned she had two very young (below 1 year old) great-granddaughters. I honestly jumped on the occasion and asked her if she was willing to check the size of a new project of mine on them. Bless her, she not only did that for me, but also loved these little shoes so much that she asked me to make two pairs for her great-granddaughters.

Weeeee another commissioned work for me!!

She asked for some yellow and pink shoes, so we chose the colours together and after the fantastic Wool Warehouse delivered me the new shade of Lily Sugar’n’Cream yarn I set to work.

These are my little crochet baby converse style shoes.

4 shoes

 I have to admit I am beyond happy about the outcome.

4 shoes 2

As I said before I used Lily Sugar’n’Cream cotton yarn in shades Ecru for the soles, Sunshine and Hot Pink.

yellow

pink

I have also prepared a kit for the items that I sell; it includes care labels (required by the Trading Standards) and some other information about the item.

Since the shoes are so small I really couldn’t saw the care label on them (they might irritate the baby’s feet), so I came up with an alternative positioning.

tags

I thought my neighbour would appreciate some wannabe professional packaging, so I also placed them in the cellophane bag I use to display my clothes on  sale.

Here they are, tagged and ready to be handed over.

packageI really hope many of you crochet lovers will try to make these as well, the pattern may be a little fiddly in a couple of points, but the result is too cute not to give it a go.

Purses, purses, and more purses (crochet and knitting).

My mom recently asked me to make her a small purse for her house keys that she could keep in her handbag. She requested something small, flat enough not to be bulky in the handbag and resistant enough so that it would not get ruined by the keys.

I decided I was going to make a small purse measuring 13 cm  x 8 cm, but I didn’t want to settle for a plain single crochet pattern. I love to learn new techniques and try my hand with new stitches. So I went online trying to find inspiration, and I discovered the Crochet Stitchionary and the Knitting Stitchionary.

I started scrolling through the website and I selected the one that I considered perfect for my project: a ribbed pattern using  the front post double crochet stitch. I used a 4 mm hook and Stylecraft Cotton Classique in red (the button comes from a recycle stash), the base is a 20 chain long foundation worked on both sides, and with one increase at each corner (44 sts). I worked 3 rounds in sc, then 1 round in dc and then I started the ribbed pattern.

This is how the purse looks like.

purse red

If you don’t know how to crochet a front post double crochet there is a fantastic video tutorial here. I also sewn the two side ribs together (1 st at the 2nd row from the bottom and 1 st after another 2 rows) to keep it flatter (and please my mom).

After finishing this project I realised I was really intrigued by all the other stitches I had seen on the Stitchionary… so I went back to it. The purse frenzy had begun.

Using again Stylecraft Cotton Classique in beige and a 4 mm hook I made this:

beige purse

This stitch is called Modified Sedge Stitch (tutorial here) and it usually requires to turn the work. I modified it, as I worked it in round (same number of stitches as the red purse), and I love how it turned out.

The third purse caused me a little headache… I chose to use the Uneven Berry Stitch because it is simply lovely. I made the purse in Stylecraft Cotton Classique in ivory and I tried to modify it in order to work it in round. My purse turned out to be wobbly and bumpy. See below, and judge yourself.

white purse

Unsatisfied with the result (I think I have a mild case of OCD) I hooked on another one in yellow (sunflower), this time following diligently the instructions (Uneven Berry Stitch tutorial here). It paid off, since after making the two panel and sewing them together, I got this:

yellow

After all these successful attempts I felt confident enough to attempt even a bigger project…. I wanted to turn a granny spiral potholder into a satchel purse!

I selected my shades for the spiral (green, seville, beige) and set to work. After the spiral was completed I had to improvise a little .. I mixed rounds of sc, hdc, sc in the lower row… I honestly tried to write down some instructions (after I had finished it) but it was confusing also to me. Maybe this is meant to be a unique item… or maybe on my next try, I will write down some notes as I work it.

green1

green2

After all these crocheted purses,  I felt the need to knit something.

I had done a fully knitted Satchel Mini Purse (see my previous post here) that I loved, but I was eager to try and mix a crochet base with a knitted bag. I am not even trying to hide the fact that at the moment I am obsessed with this plum color…

So for this bag I made a simple base of 6 sc in magic ring increasing until I got 60 sts. Then I picked up 60 sts with my 4 needles and I worked the Simple Grill pattern alternating plum and white. Again, since I like working in round, I had to modify the instructions to fit with my technique. You can find the basic tutorial for the Simple Grill pattern here.

ribbed

I was so happy with the result that I hooked/casted on another one. I had so many different shades of Stylecraft Cotton Classique that I just had to experiment and enjoy the ride.

This purse is really simple, but I love the way it turned out. It is an Autumn color scheme, really warm and soothing. Again I made a crochet base (6 sc in magic ring, then increase each round until I got 60 sts), I picked up the stitches on my 4 knitting needles and I knitted it in round alternating the colors. I made a ribbed edge to hide the cord, but this time I turned it outwards so that the opening for the cord is in the front.

beige1

beige2

 Ta-dah! This is what kept me occupied in the last weeks… if you have any question about some of the purses or if you want to share some of your creations I will be delighted to see what you came up with.

Happy knitting /crochet!

Purple, mon amour!

The other evening I was attending my local Knit and Natter group at The Sewing Shop in Lichfield and, as usual, at the end of the evening before leaving I had a good snoop around looking for new yarns.

I was looking at cotton balls because being in the Summer, working with wool it had proved to be a little uncomfortable. We are experiencing a heat wave here in the UK and knitting – or crochet – with sticky hands is not recommended (it could have also been the fantastic strawberry cream tarts that were served to us that night to make my fingertips sticky, ut I refuse to believe so).

Anyhow, I was scrolling through the shelves and there is saw it… this fantastic shade of purple (photo “stolen” from Loveknitting website).

To tell the truth I had seen it last month, but since I was trying to follow through with the good intention of not going to buy more yarn before clearing out most of my stash (like if this is really going to happen, ever), I had forced myself to turn away and leave it behind.

In our household we have a simple rule to counteract impulse buying. If you see something you like, you wait a few weeks before purchasing it, so you are really sure that you TRULY want it. This simple rule saved me several times from buying crazy things that on the heat of the moment seemed vital to me, and then turned out to be totally unnecessary.

I told myself I had waited a month, a WHOLE MONTH and I still really wanted that ball of yarn… so I proceeded with the purchase (the ball then magically disappeared to the bottom of my knitting bag, so the boyfriend didn’t notice – mischief achieved).

I have a thing for purple, I am not going to deny it. I could knit and crochet just in different shades of it, but in these last months I started to appreciate bold colours and this was the perfect occasion to try once again.

Lately I have been doing several little purses that I intend to bring to an event I will take part to in September, so following the mood of the month I created this little satchel purse.

It measures 14 cm in total and the base is 13 cm x 7 cm (more or less).

I worked it in round because it was faster, I could switch colour easily (especially the single yellow row), and because I really loathe sewing the seams together!!

This was my first attempt at making a ribbed cover for the cord (I usually create eyelets and weave the cord in and out) and I am really happy with the result. I found  to pass the cord through a little challenging, but with the aid of a safety pin the cord was easily put in place.

Last note, I bought these beads over a year ago… they were lovely but the hole to pass the thread in was so small I was never able to use them in any of my projects. Today I decided to get creative: I split the yarn in half and I was able to sew them on. Victory! I really like their look at the sides of the cord.

What more to add? I simply fell in love with this project, and I plan to replicate it in different colours and maybe making small additions to it.  Want to have a go too? Find the pattern on Ravelry on my Simply Yarn design page!