Wonderwool, a magical woolly place

Hello, again fellows knitters, crochet hookers and all yarn addicts.

Today I wish to share with you the wonderful experience of visiting for the first time A Festival of Welsh Wool & Natural Fibres aptly named: Wonderwool.

If you think that definition is a little exuberant, then my friends you are wrong. It was a truly magical place, where I met hundreds, maybe thousands of other yarn lovers like us.

Let’s start from the beginning: Wales.

Wonderwool happens in the same spot every year aka the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells, and from what I learned it started back in 2005!

I have been living in England for a little over six years now, and I am a little ashamed to admit that I never crossed the borders either into Scotland or Wales. I suppose that has happened to all of us: we plan grand trips to visit the marvellous places that are at our doorsteps, and then as life happens, these project often remain in the air.

However, this year I made a commitment to myself and to a good friend of mine, that this trip was going to happen, no matter what. So on April 28 off we went towards our woolly adventure.

Wales was such a pleasant discovery. The green, the scenery, the hills! I have to say I really enjoyed my driving trip there, even if I had no clue where I was heading and my SATNAV decided to bring us through the smallest villages and roads available on the route.

Unfortunately, I have no pictures of the road trip, because I was driving. I have however taken a picture of the view from the village while I was walking to the hotel on Saturday evening.


The yarn festival takes place in a three big “hangars” where exhibitors have their own boots where they can showcase their products which vary from yarns to buttons and tools for your favourite fibre craft.


Some wool producers also like you to meet their sheep and goats. Of course, we were not allowed to touch them as they didn’t need to be stressed, but I really couldn’t have enough of these little sweeties.


I was particularly keen on this little chap, an angora goat who was irresistibly charming.

So after having spent a good amount of time admiring the animals, I started scouting the exhibition. It was a sensory overload for someone who loves yarn as much as I do.

I surprised myself “oohing” and “aaawwing” as I was walking from stand to stand. The best part? I didn’t have to conceal my excitement and admiration as everyone else there was having my very same reaction! The exhibitors were all so nice and helpful, you could really see how much they loved their products and what they were selling.

Some of them had some items made with their yarns (which was super helpful to understand how the wool was going to look and drape once knitted), while others were there to demonstrate their skills as spinners, weavers or machine knitters.


I was particularly impressed with spinning, although I haven’t decided to add it to my list of new crafty adventures. This lady was selling handmade drop spindles. Check out how easy she made it look! (apologies for the vertical video *hides in shame*)

I was lucky enough to have the whole weekend to attend the festival so after a first day filled with excitement, surprise and wool overload, I went to bed early to discover the wonderful wool on sale the next day.

In my next post, I will show you some of the most interesting bits I found there, the yarns and items that caught my eye, and I might also show you which wool made it home with me…

Stay tuned, and happy knitting!

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Siren’s Song Shawl, a new designing adventure

Apologies, as this post is long overdue.

I promised myself this year I would have posted more often because I would have had more free time to dedicate to my knitting and crochet. But then, as usual, life happens and you need to go along with it.

The project I am showing you today is very close to my heart because it took me some time to make it, and also because it is my first real design project.

I discovered the joy of knitting shawls only in the past year or so. I never thought I would enjoy them so much, but I quickly discovered that I really really do. I made several ones as presents for family and friends in the past year, and with each of them, I learned a new technique.

This learning process gave me confidence and I started toying with the idea of creating my own design for a shawl.

One day, while I was at my local yarn shop The Knitting Corner, I saw this luxurious yarn and I simply fell in love with it.

(Louisa Harding Amitola – 80% wool, 20% silk)

I cannot describe how amazing it feels to the touch! So soft, natural and organic… It was at that moment that I decided to take the plunge and get creative.

The colour shade was really the inspiration behind this shawl. You see, I always had a fascination for mermaids and sirens. As I child I spent hours reading stories about them and I also pretended to have a mermaid tail while I was bathing or in the pool. Needless to say, the Little Mermaid’s story was one of my favourites.

This yarn brought me back to those memories. As I was knitting my swatch I could see the stripes forming and the alternation of the colours really gave my heart a little jolt of happiness. I was just missing a little extra shine and my childhood memory would be entertained!

 

Luckily, in the months I spent experimenting shawl knitting, I also learned how to knit with beads (both threaded and hooked as you go). It was a bit of a challenge for me to include beads in my first shawl design, but I felt the addition would really make a difference.

Truly, knitting with beads is not difficult. It simply requires a little of patience and a very small hook (0.5/1.0 mm) or some dental floss! YouTube has plenty of fantastic tutorials on using beads while knitting, but my favourite learning method remains a well explained written one, like the one made by Katie Rose on her blog “Spin, spin, spin”.

And here we go, I tried to create an edge that would be simple, but fabulous (at least to my eyes). I used Debbie Abrahams size 6 (4mm) beads, Night Sky.


It all started with the edge… but it continued with short rows. Yes, one thing I learned from my experience with shawls is that I prefer to knit them bottom-up (or edge up). Even if I understand the pros of traditional top-down knitting (measuring the size and the length of the shawl as you go is the main one), I still prefer the fact that after a few VERY VERY VERY long rows (over 300 stitches), I will be out of my misery as I will have fewer stitches to work for the body of the shawl.

Besides, short rows are fun! And they surely help when you want some mindless knitting that does not require precise counting. Set your marker at the edges and knit until you get there. Rinse and repeat until you finish your shawl!

And this is how my shawl turned out.

 

 

Indeed, I was really pleased with myself and after receiving some really encouraging feedback I decided to write down the pattern and also publish it on Ravelry. If you want to give it a go, you can find the pattern here.

 

I am still knitting avidly and I have quite a few projects that I want to share with you all, just bear with me… I promise I will take the camera out and get ready for more posts. In the meantime, I will keep contemplating your amazing creations over Facebook groups, blogs and Ravelry pages… you all are really inspiring!

Until the next project, be safe, keep knitting, have fun!

Simple Eyelet baby blanket -free pattern

Hello everyone!

Life has been quite full lately, so I didn’t have a lot of time to update my blog.

To make you all forgive me for my prolonged absence, I decided to post a free pattern for you knitters to enjoy.

The Summer is over, and we can start thinking about knitting cozy wolly blankets once again.

I had a couple of balls of chunky yarn staring at me for quite some time. I don’t even remember where or when I purchased them (let’s say it was so long  ago, that the yarn maker discontinued this shade – eeeek!!).  I loved the subtle hues of this yarn: they are clearly visible, but they are not too strong to distract the eye.

I don’t often work in chunky yarn. As you might have noticed from my past projects, I enjoy lace and fine yarns the most. Nevertheless, I also appreciate how fast and cosy the chunky knits are.

Knitting this blanket was a funny project for me, mainly because it took shape while I was working it. There was no real planning, the choice of which stitches to use just came to me naturally.

Now, I am not suggesting that I am a yarn listener (or maybe I would like to be a yarn whisperer) but sometimes I think it is fun to let our imagination take control and let our needles guide us along the way.

So after a few rows of garter, and some more of stockinette stitch I decided to add a very simple eyelet motif.

I think simplicity paid it off this time. I really liked the contrast of the chunky yarn and the lightness of the eyelets.

So I wrote down the pattern for all of you to try, hopefully it will make sense, since as I said before it was quite an improv knitting experience for me.

Simple Eyelet Baby Blanket

The finished blanket will measure approximately 60 x 57 cm once blocked.

Materials:
2 x 100g balls of Cygnet Grousemoor Chunky Yarn (25% wool – 75% acrylic) of your preferred shade. You can use another chunky yarn that meets the gauge.

1 pair of 5,5 mm knitting needles (you may use circular needles if you prefer, but you will knit flat)

tapestry needle to weave the ends in

Gauge:

10 cm / 4 inchess = 15 sts / 20 rows

Stitches used:

Garter : Knit all on RS and WS of the work

Stockinette Stitch: Knit on the RS and purl on the WS

Eyelet Pattern: See chart

Execution:

Cast on 90 sts.

Work 6 rows in garter.

K5 at each end, work 4 rows in stockinette stitch.

K5 at each end, work the eyelet pattern, plus K2 at the end of the 13 repetitions.

Repeat the eyelet pattern, which is composed of 8 rows for each repeat (in the chart you see the stitches worked on the RS. On the WS keeping the first and last 5 sts in garter purl all the stitches). Repeat the eyelet pattern 12 times (96 rows in total).

K5 at each end, work 4 rows in stockinette stitch.

Work 5 rows in garter, on the WS knit all the stitches while binding off.

Weave the ends in and block to measure.

Eyelet pattern chart:

  repeat 13 times, then at the end of the RS row + k2

Eyelet pattern written instructions:

Worked on the central 80 stitches

Row 1: (k4, k2tog, yo) repeat 13 times, + k2

Row 2: k5, p80, k5

Row 3: (k3, k2tog, yo, k1) repeat 13 times, + k2

Row 4: k5, p80, k5

Row 5: (k2, k2tog, yo, k2) repeat 13 times, + k2

Row 6: k5, p80, k5

Row 7: (k6) repeat 13 times, + k2

Bonus picture:

Please send me your feedback, I would love to hear your experience with this pattern 🙂

Happy knitting!

 

 

Edit: 23/03/2018

Since some of you were confused by my written instruction I decided to edit the original post and to add a more extensive explanation. I hope it helps! Happy knitting!


Disclaimer:
Simple Eyelet Blanket is an original design by Simply Yarn
© 2015 Simply Yarn. I have created this as a pattern for personal use. Items made from this pattern may be sold, but the creator of the design should be credited. No part of this pattern may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without prior permission of the copyright owners having been given in writing. Please contact me at simply.yarn@gmail.com for further information.

 

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!

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.

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!

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!