Stirring from Hibernation

helleboresWell Helloooo!!  What’s that you say, winter’s nearly over??  Time to wake up?!  Hang on let me just rub the sleep out of my eyes…

Ah yes, it has been a while, hasn’t it?  But I wasn’t asleep for the entire winter, I promise.  I may have spent most of my evenings cosying up on the sofa during Nov/Dec/Jan, but I was crocheting like a Demon while I was there!  The Boho Blaket is my take on the Attic 24 Cosy Stripe.  I started it back in November and it’s now actually finished, stripe-wise.  But I was inspired by Kathryn of Crafternoon Treat’s version and decided I want to add a granny square border, so there’s still some way to go before I do a full ‘WhooHoo’ post on that one!blanket&squaresI had a day out back in January, visiting the lovely town of Bishop’s Castle in Shropshire.  The main highlight was the Aladdin’s cave of yarny goodness that is Sheepish, where I splashed out on some very funky sock yarn.  sockyarnNow, I haven’t knitted socks for over 20 years, when me and my fellow hippies used to knit with multiple strands of DK on chunky needles to keept our feet from freezing in our trucks and busses in the winter!  But having read Lucy’s blog post on the subject, I decided to have a go with this modern new sock yarn and Winwick Mum’s pattern.  And yay, look!  Socks!  Well, OK: Sock.  And a bit.  I guess this is just a Whoo, for now.  Yes I know it looks a bit stumpy, ‘cos I have very small feet – I made the right length but it’s a bit baggy around the foot to be honest.  But not bad for a first go, I reckon.onesockAnd then suddenly it was February, and the rain stopped, and I felt the urge to be sewing again.  A while back, Béa’s Sewing Adventures posted about 2015 being her year of ‘Total Sewing Fail’ and I commented that it had been pretty much the same for me.  I could write a whole other post about why, but one reason was that I’ve not sorted out a proper sewing space since moving to this house.  So the first thing I needed was a decent table.  And then my lovely friend Jas (she of the amazing Vintage Pattern collection) gave me the most brilliant table, that was sitting up in her loft!  It’s sturdy and HUGE (in this pic only one of the extensions is pulled out!), so I’ve basically just cleared the front of my living room for it and decided that this is now my sewing space.  I’ve got some shelves to go up on the wall to the right, and I think you’ll agree that with maximum light from the bay window it’s a pretty good set up.sewingspaceFeb16bAnd yes, I HAVE been sewing!  Cutting out is SO easy!  In fact I’ve almost finished making something, more soon, but here’s a sneak peek.  Oh wow, just LOOK at that retro-tastic fabric…skirtcuttingSo it looks like hibernation is over, and various winter projects are nearly finished.  Good thing too ‘cos the garden is going to need some serious work very soon!

Wishing you all a bright happy week 🙂

The Magic Roundabout Bag

LpcoverAh… Dougal, Florence, Zebedee and Dylan… what child of the 70s doesn’t have a soft spot for these guys?? – My brother and I loved The Magic Roundabout when we were growing up, and this was one of our favourite records.  (And we loved it again on DVD as grown-ups, once we discovered all the satirical undertones and references we hadn’t picked up on as children!

So when I came to crochet this lovely roundy-round bag by Drops Design I couldn’t help but think of it as The Magic Roundabout Bag, and chose my colour scheme accordingly!bagfront1

It’s a very straightforward pattern, worked in double crochet (UK treble), that comes together in no time.  In my continuing experiment to find yarns I’m not allergic to, I used a lovely smooshy Superwash wool by Cascade, that comes in some gorgeous bright colours.  A little bit itchy on my hands, but nothing worse to report – hurrah!

I did find the instructions for the edging around the top of the bag a little unclear, so I went off on my own somewhat there, but it seems to have turned out OK.peekinside

I really wanted to make this bag a bit special, so not only did I line it with some mauve poplin, I also added a crochet-embellished button and made a crochet-trimmed ‘Secret Pocket’ to go inside.  Want to peek??secretpocket1

Yep, I got totally carried away with this one!  But I love adding all these little details, it’s what making things by hand is all about for me.  Plus it gave me a chance to practice doing some block-printing with the little block I got at the World Textile Day show.

And of course, since this is the Magic Roundabout Bag, I couldn’t resist adding some Magic Roundabout flowers as embellishments!Lp&flowers3

OK, so if I was purist I would have added perhaps a button or bead in the centre, but I wanted them to match the details of the bag so I just did a little embroidered bit in the middle.  bagside1

The flowers are basically the first part of the Attic24 double-petalled flower with the pointed ‘leaves’ worked out of the back.  They’re very simple to do, but I’ll avoid turning this into a mega-post and put a tutorial for them up separately I think!baghanging1So, what do you think – one for Florence, or more suited to Ermintrude?! 🙂

Finding new Fibres

It’s a sad thing, isn’t it, that someone so in love with yarn, who lives in Wales, should be allergic to wool?

But there it is.  I have friends who are spinners, weavers, and felters and I covet the beautiful yarns and fabrics they make and work with.  But if I handle sheep’s wool I come out in a red itchy rash, and if I’m even around it for very long my sinuses get blocked solid and I itch all over.

So I mainly work with cotton or acrylic, or blends of these and other man-made fibres.  I do long for something with a bit more texture sometimes though, and it’s nice to experiment with different weights and finishes.  Last year I discovered recycled cotton yarn, which is chunky and heavy and worked with a large hook makes great table mats!flat crochet cirlce made with green and yellow recycled sari yarnI’ve also tried recycled sari silk, which comes in lovely vibrant shades and feels wonderfully smooth and soft, but is spun in quite an uneven strand that was hard to work into a nice regular shape:crocheted circle of bright blue silk yarnAlso banana silk, which is rather thick and slubby for crochet, though its soft chunky texture would be great for knitting into a sloppy jumpercrocheted circle of uneven light blue banana silk yarnI read recently though that it’s often the lanolin in sheep’s wool that triggers allergies, and that sufferers can find other animal fibres such as alpaca and cashmere don’t cause a reaction.  I mentioned this to my lovely spinning & weaving friend Jas on a recent visit, and she gave me some alpaca yarn to play with.  I sat there all evening running it through my fingers, not a red blotch in sight!  I was sent home with a cone of alpaca and a little ball of cashmere, and am happy to report that I worked up a whole circle of the alpaca with NO ITCHING!crocheted circle of cream alpaca yarnSo I’m VERY excited to have found a natural, wool-like yarn that I can work with and I already have my next project planned!  In fact I couldn’t resist ordering the yarn already, but more of this to come on another day….selection of brightly coloured alpaca yarns