Dec 31, 2013

Happy New Year 2014!

I want to wish you all a Happy New Year 2014.

May 2014 bring you whatever you wish for: Health, Love, luck....

May this New Year 2014 bring me lots of yarn and funky ideas for new things to knit. If I can also keep my health, get Love and also money, I'll be grateful!


Dec 29, 2013

Learning How To Crochet: Being Stubborn Finally Pays Off

I've wanted to learn how to crochet for a while. I don't particularly like the look of straight crochet or crochet granny squares but I thought it would still benefit me to learn as it always seemed to me that crochet was more flexible for making small embellishment pieces with shapes that are difficult to knit and I was set on making some cute crochet flowers.

About a year ago, I got "The Needlecraft Book", which is a reference book to learn and improve knitting, crochet, embroidery and most needlecraft, which is a very good book but as a complete stranger to crochet, I was only able to learn how to make chains. Everything else I tried learning from the book got my yarn in a big tangle.

More recently, as my daughters wanted to learn crochet as well, I came across the "Kids Learn to Crochet" book, which I bought for them, with the intent of doing some heavy borrowing.

During last week, as I was hitting a Knitter's Block: I had all my Christmas knitting finished and I was running out of knitting ideas, I decided to pick up the "Kids Learn to Crochet" book, my crochet hook and some of the yarn my daughters got me for Christmas;-)

Well if you want to learn something that's getting you confused, I have one piece of advice for you: buy a book written for kids, with big pictures and step-by-step easy to follow instructions, as this was the only thing that helped me learn the basic crochet methods.

After crocheting a headband for my youngest daughter, I decided to move on to my own crochet book (which shows a lot more methods, some of which I will probably never use), so I could make a flower.

I failed again and so I moved on to YouTube, where I found a great 3 part tutorial to learn how to crochet a really cute flower - written instructions are on the Mom of 5 Daughters blog with links to the 3 YouTube videos.

I tried, and re-tried, and ripped, and tried again, and I finally managed to crochet something that looks like a flower, Which you can see attached to the turquoise headband.

Turquoise headband in double crochet with 3-layer flower

I decided to crochet another flower headband in grey this time, just to keep practicing my new skills (and to not leave my oldest daughter out). My daughter didn't want a flower as big as the one on the first headband (she's past the age of frilly, pinky stuff), so I modified it a bit to get a slightly smaller flower with only 2 layers of petals. I left the hook attached to prove I really did this myself and didn't pinch the photo from another website (in case you don't recognise my kitchen tablecloth):

Grey headband in treble crochet with 2 layer flower

I find crochet very addictive, but my first love (after my daughters of course) is still knitting, so you may see a few knitted headbands with crochet flowers appearing soon in my Etsy shop.

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Dec 22, 2013

A Christmas Treat or Two: Knitted Leaves Hot Toddy Cozy

I associate Christmas with taking the time to relax and enjoy a treat. One of the things I like to treat myself with (in moderation!) is a Hot Toddy.

You can drink hot toddies in a mug, but I like to drink mine in a glass. One of the common problems hot toddy in a glass drinkers like me can experience is burning fingers in the first few minutes, and the hot toddy getting too cold to enjoy after about 20 minutes - I like to take my time drinking hot toddies, especially if they're strong, and if I'm knitting at the same time, I tend to let it go cold a lot.

Luckily, being a resourceful knitter, I decided it was time for my fingers to stop burning when I'm drinking a hot toddy, and to keep it warm for longer, I decided to work on a little knitted hot toddy cozy: I decided to experiment on a leaves pattern from the "Compendium of Knitting Techniques" by Betty Barnden, which I adapted to work in the round (you know how I'm not a fan of sewing;-)

And because you're a lucky reader, I decided to share my hot toddy recipe and my knitting pattern for the knitted leaves hot toddy cozy with you:

Lemon Herbal Tea Hot Toddy in my brand new Knitted Leaves Hot Toddy Cozy.

Knitted Leaves Hot Toddy Cozy:
This cozy works for drinking glasses from an outside circumference of between 20cm (8 inches) and 24cm (9 1/2 inches) and measures 10cm (4 inches) in height. I recommend using a straight shaped glass, as I tried one that was narrower at the base and wider at the top, and the cozy tends to slip out easily with such a shape, making the risk of scalding injuries greater.

*** Very Important: you will need to try the cozy on an empty glass first, and if you find it slips off the glass too easily to be safe, please do not use it, as the last thing I want is for one of my readers to scald herself or himself. ***

I used circular knitting with the magic loop method but you can use double pointed needles if you prefer, or even knit it flat and sew both sides together (keep in mind that even numbered rows will be different if you knit it flat - you will need to knit purl stitches, purl knit stitches and start these even rows from the end - eg, row 8 will be * p1, k5 * and you may want to add a few extra stitches at the end of the odd rows and beginning of the even rows to allow for the seam and show off the leaf pattern).

Yarn: any Aran (or worsted weight) wool you like.
Needles: one 4mm circular needle with a cable that is at least 80cm long.

Cast on 36 stitches and divide them in 2 (18 on each side) to follow the magic loop method.
Rows 1 to 4: * k2, p2 *, repeat from * to * until row end.
Rows 5 and 6: purl
Row 7: * p5, k1 *, repeat from * to * until row end..
Row 8: * p5, k1 *, repeat from * to * until row end.
Row 9: * p5, yo, k1, yo *, repeat from * to * until row end.
Row 10: * p5, k3 *, repeat from * to * until row end.
Row 11: * p5, k1. yo, k1, yo, k1 *, repeat from * to * until row end.
Row 12: * p5, k5 *, repeat from * to * until row end.
Row 13: * p5, k2, yo, k1, yo, k2 *,  repeat from * to * until row end.
Row 14: * p5, k7 *, repeat from * to * until row end.
Row 15 to 18: * p5, k7 *, repeat from * to * until row end.
Row 19: * p5, ssk, k3, k2tog *,  repeat from * to * until row end.
Row 20: * p5, k5 *,  repeat from * to * until row end.
Row 21: * p5, ssk, k1, k2tog *,  repeat from * to * until row end.
Row 22: * p5, k3 *,  repeat from * to * until row end.
Row 23: * p5, s2togpo *,  repeat from * to * until row end.
Rows 24 and 25: purl.
Rows 26 to 28: * k2, p2 *, repeat from * to * until row end.
Bind off loosely on row 29 in rib 2/2 pattern (as shown in rows 26 to 28).
Cut the tail and weave in ends on the reverse side.

Dress your favourite Hot Toddy glass, taking care so that the glass doesn't slip off when holding hot liquids and prepare the following recipe:

Hot Toddy Recipe
1 teaspoon or honey,
1 slice of lemon,
3 or 4 whole cloves,
1 small serving of Brandy, Whisky or a teabag of your favourite flavour,
Freshly boiled water.

Optional: Put a metal spoon in the glass before adding hot water to avoid the glass cracking (this can happen especially if the glass is cold before you start), then fill the glass with boiling water to heat it and then empty that water.

Add a spoon of honey (or more if you want your toddy sweeter), add the chosen alcohol or teabag (do not fill the glass as you will need to add hot water later) and mix well.
Add the freshly boiled water, lemon slice and cloves.
Enjoy in moderation (or not if using tea).

Merry Christmas!

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Dec 16, 2013

My Knitting Business Is Booming...

...At least by my standards.

You will probably laugh at me with my 2 sales on Etsy and 1 pattern sold on Ravelry for December so far, but that's more than what I had gotten used to so that makes me happy!

I'm not sure if it has anything to do with it or just a coincidence, but as a fellow seller was telling me that my photos were too gray (Etsy Teams and forums are helpful like that), I finished lightening the photo background of my white snood photos yesterday evening: when I checked my Etsy account this morning guess whose white snood was sold?

You guessed correctly, my lovely ivory cream white snood! I am now in the process of lightening more photo backgrounds, while trying to stay true to the colour of my knitted items.

I think I'll have to make some more of these snoods, they seem to be popular as the previous sale was a similar item in a different colour. I have a red one left and more of that same comfy wool so I think I know what I'll knit for my shop next:)

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Dec 9, 2013

Christmas Knitting: Duotone Cowl Nearly Finished

I've been busy towards the end of last week with my daughters participating in some Christmas events but I've managed to ship my first package as I sold one of my snoods from my Etsy shop.

I have also been progressing on the Duotone Cowl that I'm knitting for my brother.

It's a pretty simple pattern and quite quick with Aran wool - I have been using a different yarn than the one from the pattern as this stash of yarn needs to be used up - and knitted in the round so that the wrong side is the inside of the tube. I really like the effect that the changing stripes give the cowl: when both sides will be joined it should have a bit of an optical illusion effect.

All I have left to do on this cowl is another set of stripes and the joining of both ends: there is a temporary cast on which will be grafted to the top and hopefully my seam will be invisible. I am dreading this part a little but it has to be done!

Next on my list is a simple beanie hat for my Mum (with no sewing, Yippee!).

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Dec 2, 2013

Craftsy Classes and Knitting Christmas Gifts

I took advantage of the current classes sale on Craftsy to sign up to 2 of them: Pattern Writing for Knitters and Adventures in Double-Knitting, which I got at €15.00 each.

I never took an online knitting class and I can usually find what I'm looking for on YouTube, but these are very specific and I hope they'll allow me to get a bit more technical knowledge. I will let you know how I get on as soon as I finish studying them.

I am also in the process of knitting a few Christmas gifts for family members: I can't say too much in case they're reading, but for those that are not surprises I have finished making a red headband for an 18 month-old girl and I have just put a pair of fingerless mittens to dry for her big brother whose favourite colour is green, and as you can probably tell by looking at the picture below, his initial is "E":

My Mum, as usual, keeps saying she doesn't want anything but I was talking to her on the phone yesterday and I managed to convince her that she needs a hat, as she said she liked the ones from my Etsy shop. I have also just started knitting this Duotone Cowl but I'm afraid I can't say any more or there will be no surprises.

One thing that is not surprising is what my daughters are getting me for Christmas: you can probably guess what the obvious choice was and as they are too young to go shopping on their own yet and I don't want them to spend too much money on my present, I brought them to Dealz yesterday, as I knew they were selling cheap yarn -  It' still a surprise, as I'm not allowed to see what colours they got me - Do you know how difficult it is to shop with your eyes closed? At least now I have an excuse not to clean their bedroom: you never know, I might see something I'm not supposed to!

How are you getting on with your Christmas shopping? Have you started yet? Do you think it's a good idea to give hand knitted things or would you prefer to get something bought? Please share your comments below, don't be shy!

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