February Farewells

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Well Hello and happy St David’s Day!  Now I know it’s a short month, but how quickly did February flash by?!  Even so, it was a full-on February for me (sorry I can’t seem to stop with the crazy alliterations), mainly taken up by my house move…

…I spent a bit of time at the beginning of the month saying ‘farewell’ to some of my most treasured Dyfi Valley places, like my favourite walk at Glaspwll…GlaspwllTrees

…and beautiful Tir Heddwch, where I got to have a go at helping weave a new willow screen…Willow Weaving…but then it was time to pack everything into the van, with much help from friends and family…VanMan&Woman…and say farewell to my Coach House flat, that has been my home for the last 3 years…Farewell CoachHouse…and head on down to The Marches, to my new house.  Which is in total chaos still, so I’ve got no pics to show you til next month!   But in amongst all the unpacking and sorting out and general exhaustion that comes with moving, I taught my brother to crochet!!  How cool is his first ‘happy-enough-not-to-unravel-it’ granny square??  Come on, how many of us did this well in our first week? – Not me, for sure! Robs1stGrannySquare… I don’t know about you, but for me, doing something creative is like going to a calm place when everything else gets too much.  Since all my sewing stuff was packed, I had a go at crocheting this snoodie-neck-warmer pattern with a lovely, unusual yarn that my friends Helen & Alison brought me back from Yarndale last year.  It’s made from corn fibre – yay, no allergies! – so I thought it would be nice to make this as I could wear it close to my face, unlike a lot of fibres.  It feels a bit like a cotton-acrylic mix and works up really nicely.  But it took me ages to get the hang of the pattern and although I like the effect, I’m not too happy with the size and shape it turned out.  I may well unravel it and just make a nice headwrap in this stitch instead…Popcorn Yarn Headwrap…so that was February, and here I am with a houseful of boxes, completely frazzled, and with so much still to be sorted out!  But it feels great to have done it, at last, and I love this area so much and am very pleased to be here…Hergest AfternoonI hope you all had a fabulous February: now here’s to clocks changing, daffodils opening, and all kinds of Springy Goodness in March!

🙂

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