Wednesday 23 April 2014

My latest project

I have been very busy over the last few days because I have started a new project. It's another big one which will keep me busy over the next few months. I have always admired the crocheted african flower motif  with it's striking flower centre, surrounded by rounds of trebles finishing in a pentagonal or hexagonal shape. A few months ago I made a one off coaster in the design and knew that it was a motif I would want to go back to.

On Saturday morning I made my first hexagonal african flower motif and so began the start of my latest project! By the end of the weekend I had crocheted 7 motifs and using the join-as-you-go method joined them together to form a larger hexagon.

the first 7 motifs

I have continued making more motifs over the last few days and I am pleased with how it is coming together. Because each hexagon is joined onto the rest immediately after completion and the ends are being woven in at the time I have begun to use the blanket over my knees already. This way I can look at the colours and make decisions about which colours to use next as I am going along.

the first 13 motifs

I am not buying any new yarn for this project, instead I am using up my stash of pure wool. I keep it in a roomy canvas bag so I can see them tumble together, forming exciting new colour possibilities.

the first 17 motifs

I will write another blog post on this before the project is completed and in the meantime I will continue to post photos on my Instagram page - come and find me @mrsdaftspaniel 

Friday 11 April 2014

Dundee Yarn Crawl

A few weeks ago my friend Jo posted a link on my Facebook page asking if I had been to 'Fluph', a yarn shop in Dundee. A week or so later I posted a link on her page, asking if she had been to 'The Knitting Pin', another Dundee wool shop. Several comments later we agreed we would do a yarn crawl of the 4 main Dundee wool shops!

After a little more organising, I caught the no. 73 bus into Dundee with Jo and her daughter, who loves to knit. I had my youngest and eldest sons with me too because they are just getting into knitting and crocheting. Our first stop was 'The Knitting Pin' up Albert Street (here is a link to their facebook page  ). We timed it well because my friend Liz, who had a greed to meet us there, had arrived moments before us. We spent a happy 20 minutes looking high and low at all the different wools. This shop is jam packed, bursting at the seams with hundreds of different types of yarn! There is something for everyone, and if you can't find what you are looking for the super friendly staff will help you. It was the owner's husband who was in charge today and he kindly gave the children lollipops too! I bought a ball of Sirdar Eco wool, DK which I have been using lately to dye with natural dyes.

inside The Knitting Pin

Next we strolled down the hill to the town centre (about a 15 minute walk). It was a sunny day and we all chatted away as we walked. We soon reached 'Wool Craft' which is a hidden gem in The Keilor Shopping Centre. The shop was very busy as usual, both with customers and stocks of wool everywhere! A large and unusual variety of knitting and crochet books were displayed for sale. There were special offers and bargain buckets too. I bought 4 little Anchor tapestry wools in different colours to fit into my latest granny square project. I can't find a website for the shop, but here is a link with a little more info and a map .

Wool shop no. 3 was only a 5 minute walk and we headed straight through the city centre towards it. Wool&co. is the newest of the Dundee wool shops and immediately we noticed how different it was to the others! The shop had a simple, uncluttered layout set against clear white walls. All the wool was set out beautifully on the shelves. There were some gorgeous knitting books and patterns on display too. We noticed that this shop also caters for machine knitters with lots of cones of wool. The yarn was high quality luxury brands, such as a large selection of Erika Knight wool (one of my favourite brands!), Blue Sky Alpaca and several types of Rowan wool, including their popular Big Wool. My youngest son spent his pocket money on a ball of Erika Knight's british blue wool and some bamboo needles to knit it with. This is a link to the shop's website .

me and my eldest, outside Wool&co.

From here we had another 15 minute walk (up hill this time) to 'Fluph' (here's a link to shop's Facebook page ). I think our tiredness left us immediately as we entered the beautiful shop. We were full of wonder as we looked around at the beautiful wool and quirky handmade decorations. The wool was a mix of skeins and balls of pure wool, alpaca and silk. The owner Leona and her super cute cocker spaniel made us feel very welcome, inviting us to rest our weary legs on the comfy sofas and work on our current projects too.

concentrating in Fluph

While the others caught their breath I nipped across the road and attached a yarnbomb to the lampost. It was my first yarnbomb of the year and it felt good to put it up as everyone walked past or sped past on bikes and in cars. When I went back to the shop I bought 3 balls of Drops alpaca, 1 ball of Drops karisma and my sons bought a ball of Drops eskimo each.

yarnbomb on Blackness Rd, opposite Fluph

We left Fluph with our purses lighter and our bags bulging with wool agreeing it had been a fantastic morning, full of discovery!

Wednesday 2 April 2014

Free crochet pattern - Shell Pattern Cowl

I am pleased to be able to share my first crochet pattern on my blog with you. This pattern has been thoroughly tested and I am happy to share it with you for your personal use. Please respect my original design and do not reproduce this pattern or the cowl made from it for your own financial gain. Happy hooking!

Shell Pattern Cowl by Marta Mitchell

the finished cowl

This lacy cowl is made with alpaca wool which feels luxuriously soft and warm against the skin. The frequent use of chain stitches makes the pattern quick to make up, and gives the cowl a light and airy feel.

3 x 50g balls King Cole Baby Alpaca, DK (approx 110yds/100m per ball) I used 501 “Fawn”
4.5 mm crochet hook

15 stitches, 6 rows in  a 10 x 10 cm square. The tension should be loose, move up a hook size if you crochet tightly.

Abbreviations (UK terms)
ch chain
chsp chain space
ss slip stitch
dc double crochet
tr treble
dtr double treble
dtrCl double treble cluster (see notes)
tr2tog treble 2 stitches together (see notes)
yrh yarn round hook
prev previous

dtrCl is produced by working 3dtr into the same space; hold back the last loop of each dtr on hook, yrh, pull through all loops on hook

tr2tog spans across the dtrCl of the previous round. Begin the tr2tog in final dtr of prev. round, holding on to last loop of tr on hook, skip dtrCl, tr in next tr, yrh, pull through all loops on hook. This creates an inverted “V” across the dtrCl.

detail of cowl

Using 4.5 mm hook, ch 120, ss into first ch to form large ring (making sure it is not twisted)

Round 1  Ch3 (counts as 1tr), 2tr into same ch sp used to complete ring, *3ch, miss 4chs, dc into next ch, 3ch, miss 4chs, 5tr into next ch* repeat to end of round, finishing with 2tr in same ch sp as 1st 3tr of round, ss into 3rd ch of ch3 (completing the shell)  

Round 2 Ch6 (counts as 1dtr, 2ch), dtr into next tr, ch2, dtr into next tr, ch2, *dtrCl into dc, ch2, (dtr into next tr, ch2) 5 times* repeat to end of round, finishing with dtr into next tr, ch2, dtr into next tr, ch2, ss into 4th ch of ch6

Round 3 Ch5 (counts as 1tr, 2ch), tr into next dtr, ch2, *tr2tog over next 2 dtr spanning across dtrCl, ch2, (tr into next dtr, ch2) 3 times* repeat to end of row finishing with tr into next dtr, ss into 3rd ch of ch5

Round 4 Ch3 (counts as 1tr),2tr into same ch sp, *3ch, miss tr, dc into next tr, 3ch, miss tr, 5tr into next tr* repeat to end of round, finishing with 2tr in same ch sp as 1st 3tr of round, ss into 3rd ch of ch3 (completing the shell)

Continue with rounds 2 - 4 until work measures approx 30 cm, 6 repeats of the pattern, finishing with round 4. Fasten off.

Finishing off
Secure ends and weave in on reverse side. The cowl will benefit from blocking.

I hope you have enjoyed following this pattern. If you have any queries, please contact me at

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