Friday, 24 February 2017

Book Review - Every Which Way Crochet Borders by Edie Eckman, Storey Publishing

If you love to crochet blankets, shawls, scarves or washcloths, then you'll know how important it is to choose the right border for your project.

Edie Eckman's latest reference book will help you to finish off your projects perfectly, with 139 beautifully designed borders.

I have a blanket with a plain border that I can't wait to add a more decorative border to. It was once a long term WIP as it took me a couple of years to make, and I thought it was an FO, but having seen some of the gorgeous borders in Edie's book, I think a more decorative border would finish it off perfectly.

I was invited to take part in a blog tour of this lovely book by Storey Publishing and in return they sent me a copy. All of the views are my own and I was not asked to write anything specific, other than to write a review.

I decided to create a video review - so here goes ............. (just click on the play button and mute the music if you prefer).

I had a play around with a few of the patterns, which were really easy to follow, especially with the charts that are provided in addition to the written instructions. I know that this book will be an essential part of my crochet library and a great "go-to" book. It is written is US terminology, but there is a helpful section for those who use UK terms, including a translation table for US to UK stitches.

You can buy it on amazon here:
Every Which Way Crochet Borders on Amazon

and you can try out a border pattern here:
Bullion Coil Border

Thanks for reading - if you would like to join me on social media, I'm @the_woolnest on Instagram; @thewoolnest on twitter and @thewoolnest on facebook. It would be great to see what you're all up to.

Don't forget to tag me and use the hashtags #makeandbehappy and #knitcrochetcreate - I'll share my favourites.

Happy Crafting #makeandbehappy #knitcrochetcreate
Lynne x

Sunday, 5 February 2017

My 3 favourite yarns from January


I'm sure you'll agree that January whizzed by so quickly. For me it was all about getting quite a lot of knitting and crochet commissions completed and sent off so that I could free up some time to focus on my own designing and web site development.

The thing about being self-employed is that you need to be a 'jack-of-all-trades' - in the main, I'm a designer, technical editor, author, blogger and tutor, but I also need to be: photographer, project manager, agent, accountant, website developer, social media exert, PR expert, computer technician ..... the list could go on and on, not to mention tea maker and general office assistant. This year I'm focussing on a few of these - website development, product development and social media.

I started off in January by joining the #31daychallenge and I set myself a goal to blog everyday for 31 days.

Admittedly I missed a few days, but what's a few days amongst friends? I really enjoyed this challenge and I didn't run out of things to talk about, which surprised me. I think I found it easier to write a quick 10 minute post than a full blog post. I realised that blogging mid-day was much better than last thing at night and that it was a great way to engage and involve others. You can read my diary here and learn a little more about my daily life. I was inspired by Louise Tilbrook to join in, and met a few new 'virtual friends' along the way, including Jeanette Sloan, who has listed other bloggers here who also took part.

Also in January, I decided to log how much yarn I knitted or crocheted with - a grand total of (drumroll........) 1385g. Of this, 525g was 100% wool (made up of British wool and alpaca), and 375g was cotton (I do love working with cotton yarn). Not bad, but I'm aiming to work with more artisan yarns over the coming year, so hopefully you will see a lot more hand-dyed and small-scale production yarns in my blog and social media feed.

My Top Three yarns for January were:  
The Big Scary Bear: 100% British Alpaca, which is incredibly soft and easy to work with for both knitting and crochet.

 New Lanark Wool (Aran): 100% British wool, which I felted into a lovely bag. It's a sturdy yarn that softened beautifully when washed.

And my BaaBaaBrighouse Yan Tan Tethera Club: hand-dyed yarn by Sylvan Tiger Yarns - I really love how this variegated yarn has crocheted up, giving a flecked effect rather than distinct pooling or striping. I love my new shawl design which will be released soon, once I have tested it out with a few yarns and have some samples to photograph.

I'm looking forward to  staying focussed in February - I have a book to tech edit, my final 'Crochet Now' Magazine Column to write, and a small handful of commissions to design and make, which means I have time to continue developing my own products. I'm already working on the second new pattern of my very long list. 

Don't forget that February is the month of Valentine's day and I have a free pattern here for these easy to make and very cute hearts. 

I hope you've had a great January too.
Happy Crafting #makeandbehappy #knitcrochetcreate
Lynne x

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Getting Organised

Hello there - I hope you're all keeping well and that 2017 has been good to you so far.

I've had a busy start to the year, which is fantastic - I'm always so grateful that I can do what I love for a living. It can be a little stressful at times because it's completely deadline focussed but I still enjoy my days and particularly so at the moment because I seem to have become somewhat of a technical editing guru for both knitting and crochet. I've been working towards becoming a well-established and thorough technical editor/copy editor/proof reader for a while, so being approached for my expertise makes me happy. I've already edited two amigurumi bookazines this year (both very cute), plus I've tech editing the Toft Quarterly magazine - if you haven't subscribed already then I can definitely recommend it as I have bought the first 2 issues and they're both jam packed with some fantastic patterns and interesting stories. I think they're about £8 each plus postage but you get around 10-11 patterns (both knitting and crochet), so it well worth it.

I've been continuing with my "Use it or lose it" campaign too. At the moment I'm focussing on magazine clearance. I literally have hundreds of magazines, so I really need a clear out to free up some space in The Woolnest. Quite a lot of my designs are published  in various UK magazines, so I like to keep these as a reference, however I realise that 7 years of my design work is in most of my magazine stash so I've devised a way to carefully remove the pages that I want to keep, before discarding the rest of the magazine.  Remember that you cannot re-sell magazines in part or whole, as this goes against copyright laws (each magazine states this in their opening pages), however, it may be worth checking at your local charity/thrift shop to see if they have any special dispensation.

Here's my method which I hope you find useful. It involves using a pair of sharp scissors or a craft knife, so take care with the blades. Start at the top of the flow diagram and work down and watch my video demonstration too.
Disclaimer: I do not accept any responsibility for accidents or injuries.

Here's a video demonstration of how to remove the pages carefully:

I hope you found this useful and I'd love to hear from you if you're tidying up your stash too - especially if you have any special methods  that you'd like to share. You can join my "Use it or Lose" group and share your ideas here on Ravelry.

I hope you're enjoying my audio blog casts too - let me know what you think.

Happy Crafting,
Lynne x

Saturday, 31 December 2016

My Knitting and Crochet Highlights of 2016

As 2016 draws to a close, I somehow feel a little deflated and not my usually positive self. But looking back over 2016 has cheered me up because I did some really amazing and creative things.

Firstly, I started the year by creating The Crochet Circle Podcast with Fay from Knitit-Hookit-Craft-it. Our first ever interview was with the wonderful Erika Knight. We were quite nervous but it was an amazing interview despite it being quite noisy as we were at a Trade Show. We then went on to interview more brilliant and inspiring people from the crafting world, including the amazing and talented duo Arne & Carlos, Hugh Metcalf (Editor of Crochet Now), Cara Ackerman (DMC Creative World), Verity Castledine (Truly Hooked) and Sara Mulvey (Black Sheep Wools). 15 episodes later, I left the podcasts in Fay's capable hands, as I was struggling to find the time required to do my fair share of the work, due to my self-employment work commitments. But don't despair - you will be able to hear me on my own podcasts which will be less frequent and much shorter, so I will still be sharing my knitting and crochet adventures with you along with lots of tips and advice. My first recording is here.

I was also approached by Search Press to author a new knitting title called "Knit Yourself Calm" along with Betsan Corkshill from Stitchlinks. Betsan is an expert in the therapeutic benefits of craft and it was great to work with her and learn how knitting can really help relieve stress and improve wellbeing. I designed 16 projects for the book that all link to Betsan's research and recommendations. Knit Yourself Calm will be published in June 2017 and I can't wait. It's already listed here on amazon and you can pre-order which means that you will get it at the cheapest price that it's offered before publication.

I also embarked upon a self-published book with Fay. We called it "TAKE TWO Collection 1 - Crochet". Printed copies will be available early in January 2017 and we both really pleased with our first self-published book and how it turned out. You can pre-order the printed version here. Alternatively you can buy a download version here.

My teaching has continued which is great. I love to pass my skills on to others and see my pupils really proud of their new skills. I hope my classes are popular too in 2017. My classes are run by a local Adult Education Programme and you can register here.

One of the things I've enjoyed the most this year is writing a monthly column for Crochet Now magazine called "Stash Diaries".

Each month on the back page, you can find a little reflection from me, along with a pattern for a quick or small project that will help you to use up your yarn stash. I've written about local artisans, recycling, upcycling, my favourite yarns, tea and favourite toys and I've had great fun designing the mini-projects. I'll be sharing some of them with you over the coming year as free patterns on my blog.

My design work has continued, which is fantastic - I design regularly for quite a few magazines, including a beginners section for Woman's Weekly Knitting and Crochet as well as designing for Let's Knit, Let's Get Crafting, Art of Knitting, Art of Crochet, Beginners Guides to Knitting and Crochet and more. There will be more of this in 2017 and in addition I have designs waiting to be worked up for Inside Crochet and Love to Knit and Crochet - I'm going to be a busy bee.

On top of all that, my tech editing work is growing and  it's been a pleasure to edit some brilliant knitting and crochet books during 2016 as well as editing some monthly magazines.

So I'll be doing all of the above and more in 2017 - I have a couple of new ideas that I want to take forward so you'll hear more about these throughout the year. They're top secret for now though.

Have you have a productive and creative 2016? I'd love to hear your plans for 2017 - maybe you'd like to learn a new skill, or a new technique? Feel free to leave a comment below, or you can tag me on social media if you prefer. I'm @thewoolnest on Facebook and Twitter and the_woolnest on Instagram.

So that's my review of 2016 - thank you so much for reading and I hope you'll join me again soon. You can subscribe to my blog in the right-hand column to make sure you don't miss a post.

Bye for now and see you next time.

Happy crafting, Lynne x

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Knit, Breathe and Relax with Anfeald Cowl - a free knitting pattern

Welcome to my latest blog post that has a little something extra - you can now listen to my blog as well as reading it. I'd love to hear what you think of this idea. I'll be adding audio to my future blog posts so that you can listen or read, whichever suits you best. Just click on the play button below to listen.

This week I'm happy to share with you a free pattern for my 'Anfeald Cowl', which is a really simple garter stitch cowl. Garter stitch is where you knit every stitch on every row – so it’s just the knit stitch repeated over and over again. It’s perfect if you've just learned how to knit and want to make something easy for yourself or a friend. 'Anfeald' uses up every bit of yarn, so there's no waste whatsoever - perfect for my thrifty knitting and crochet theme.

Garter stitch is really squishy so it creates a warm, dense fabric which is ideal for a cosy winter accessory. Even if you’re a seasoned knitter, this cowl is the perfect project that you could use for relaxing and knitting, because it is repetitive and rhythmic, you can almost lose yourself in the stitches and empty your mind, which in turn can be great for stress relief. You could knit 'Anfeald' whilst watching you favourite programs because there is no real pattern to follow.

Slip the first stitch (knitwise as if to knit – just insert needle as if to knit but then slide it to the opposite needle without knitting it). This creates a really neat edge to the knitting.

If you're new to knitting, you may find that the first stitch of each row seems a little loose and this will create a messy edge, so slipping the first stitch avoids this. Even if the pattern doesn’t tell you to slip the first stitch – you can just do this yourself.

I used Drops Eskimo which is a chunky yarn. I bought my yarn from The Wool Warehouse who often have a sale on Drops yarn, which is great value for money.

I cast on 21 sts and knitted up 4 x 50g balls on 8mm needles, leaving enough to cast off and whip stitch the ends together. My rectangle measured 162cm which is long enough to wrap around your neck twice.

There are other options – if you only have 100g of chunky yarn you could knit a shorter cowl that just goes over your head and you could add a line of buttons for decoration. If you only have one 50g ball each of 2 colours you could work in stripes of 2 rows one colour/2 rows the second colour. Endless possibilities really.

To substitute yarn, simply look at the ball band or yarn info on a website. You’re looking for the information on number of stitches and number of rows per 10cm. Also check the type of fibre that the yarn is. Use those 2 pieces of information to choose an alternative –  something that has the same number of stitches and rows per 10cm and a similar fibre content. Don’t be put off if you can’t find the recommended yarn or want to use your stash. I’ve written a full blog post on substituting yarn here.

You can download the free pattern here:

If you make your own Cowl I love to see it. so don't forget to tag me if you share it on social media. I'm @thewoolnest on Facebook and Twitter and the_woolnest on Instagram. You can also add you finished cowl to the project page on Ravelry here.

I hope you enjoy making your own Anfeald cowl – if you have any problems or questions you can contact me through my blog or leave a comment on the blog post. If there’s anything in particular that you would like me to chat about then let me know and I’ll do my best to oblige. So that it for this blogcast – thank so much for listening and I hope we’ll get together again soon. Bye for now and see you next time.

Happy crafting, Lynne x

Disclaimer: This blog post is not sponsored; all of the views and comments are my own