Wednesday 28 April 2021

Finding things in charity shops

Hello! Today I was really happy to be able to get back to the charity shops hunting for yarn related bargains! Here in Scotland, lockdown restrictions eased on Monday, allowing non-essential shops to re-open. and I have really missed having a rummage in my local charity shops. There are currently 4 in my town and whilst one focuses on baby & childrens items, the rest are an all round excellent source of second hand items. Charity shops, also known as op shops or thrift shops, are one of my favourite places to look for yarn, fabric, thread, needles, hooks and other haberdashery items. 

Today I was searching for some buttons and I knew exactly which shop had them all sorted into colours (see pic above). I was sucesful in finding just the ones I needed! In another shop I stumbled across 4 unopened bags of wool tops -  I bought the White Dorset Horn, Wensleydale and the White Perndale but left the purple one with sparkles but I may well go back for it! In another shop I found a 50g ball of Louisa Harding Grace - silk & wool and an unlabelled ball of yarn which I'm pretty sure is Rowan felted tweed. The top photo shows my purchases, all this for £4, score! 

A few years ago, I was on a bus and I overheard someone behind me saying to her friend "don't make it obvious you're looking, but see that woman sitting diagnally in front of us - she's a bit of a charity shopper, I often see her going in and out of them". They could only have been talking about me as the bus was practically empty - I decided to take it as a compliment and couldn't stop smirking!

I just love how you never know what you might find, one person's trash really is another's treasure! My local shops all donate to local causes too, which gives me the added satisfaction of knowing that my spare change is being used locally (and it means the shops are not half full of their own brand merchandise). What about you? Do you like charity shopping for craft items? What's the best thing you've found?

Thursday 15 April 2021

Playing about with adding Liberty fabric to crochet

Hello! This week I've been playing about with adding pretty Liberty fabric to one of my crochet projects and I've been having a lot of fun with it! I love the way that fabric totally changes the way a crocheted item looks and how the different texture & surface pattern brings the whole thing to life.

The project I've been working on is an amigurumi wolf pattern. She is called Iris and she is the follow up to Agnes the bunny pattern that I created in 2017. The Agnes pattern includes a photo of the bunny wearing a Liberty Tana Lawn dress with the caption "Feeling creative? Why not make your bunny a dress!" - I certainly wasn't feeling creative or experienced enough at the time to write up the instructions for the dress I had cobbled together!

Fast forward 4 years and I decided to create another amigurumi pattern in a similar style to Agnes. I decided on a wolf because I knew the proportions would work out similarly and because wolves have large enough ears to embelish with fabric. Don't worry, she's definitely a friendly wolf!

I used Agnes the bunny as a template for the main body parts which gave me the opportunity to refresh her pattern at the same time (as I've mentioned here before, my pattern writing style has changed in the last few years and it's much more consistent now). Obviously the ears, snout and tail are very different and I had fun designing those elements. I used the same yarn as I had for the bunny, but a different colourway - Juniper Moon Farm extra fine baby alpaca in Travertine. Agnes is free to download from Lovecrafts here and from Ravelry here (please note that Ravelry may cause issues for people with visual disturbances, proceed with caution).

For Iris' ears I used Liberty Tana Lawn in Ffion because I had a little scrap left over from an english paper piecing project which was the right size. When it came to the dress I couldn't choose between Betsy (the grey pattern) and Poppy and Daisy (the brighter red, yellow & blue pattern) so I popped a poll in my Instagram stories to see what my follwers liked best. The vote was a near 50/ 50 split so I decided to make 2 dresses, one in each fabric! Which one do you prefer? Let me know in the comments.

I used my sewing machine to make the prototype dress in Poppy and Daisy and besides a few minor adjustments I was happy with how it went. For the Betsy dress I wanted to make it entirely by hand, firstly to check it was possible and secondly because it's easier to stop and start for taking photos. The dress pattern will be accompanied with step-by-step photos because I want it to be as clear as possible to follow.

The good news is that the dress pattern will fit Agnes the bunny and Iris the wolf which I am really chuffed about! At the moment the entire pattern is with my testing team and when I have their feedback and once I've done the official photo shoot the pattern will be ready to release - hopefully in the next couple of weeks. 

Until next time,

Marta xx

Friday 9 April 2021

Pretty yarn & pretty pattern

Hello! Yesterday I finished working with some really pretty yarn working from a really pretty pattern. The yarn was gifted to me by my family for Mother's Day - it was a mystery box from The Wool Shed (which I had given BIG hints on, but of course didn't know the colours I would receive, keeping it a surprise!). I should probably add at this point that this is not a sponsored post, all opinions are my own.

I was delighted with my surprise bundle; there was a 100g skein of speckled sock yarn in 'Tulip', a 20g mini to go with it, a little bee enamel stitch marker, a tea bag from Bird & Blend and a packet of wild seed mix - it certainly put a smile on my face! 

With the Marathon Sock KAL starting in a few weeks time on April 1st, I chose to keep the yarn aside for this special occasion. This KAL (or knit along) is a community project, hosted by Vikki Bird Designs and the idea is for everyone to knit pairs of socks and calculate how much yarn they have used. Vikki has an online form you can fill in as each pair is completed and once 26.2 miles of yarn have been used that's the project complete. I thought it was a wonderful concept for a KAL and couldn't wait to get stuck in! I should also add that crocheted socks are very welcome too! 

If you're interested, you can find all the details on the KAL on Vikki's website and of course you can follow Vikki on Instagram here for lots of gorgeous sock patterns.

Since Vikki was hosting the KAL I thought it was about time I gave one of her designs a go. I had Siren Song Socks in my queue, waiting for just the right skein of yarn to knit them up, now seemed like my chance. Week one of the challenge was a sprint - knit (or crochet) a pair of socks in a week! I tried my best but gardening, crochet projects and life in general got in the way - I didn't quite manage 7 days but I did complete them in 8 days - for a UK9 pair I was chuffed with that!

The speckled yarn from The Wool Shed worked up beautifully with the little spodges of colour breaking up the solid colour perfectly. There are lots of lovely colourways to choose from, you can find a link to The Wool Shed's Etsy shop here.

After a few initial mistakes (which was really just me plunging in without reading properly) I found the Siren Song Socks pattern very easy to memorise and was quickly able to knit without referring to my laptop. The pattern is a cuff down design and has a variation for left and right feet which looks stunning. It's the first time I have worked a toe in this way - no need for Kitchener stitch on these socks! Here's a link to the pattern on Payhip, I'd thoroughly recommend it!

Yesterday Vikki announced that the challenge is 26% complete, giving me the chance to cast on a 2nd pair, anyone else fancy joining in?

Marta xx


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