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

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Book Review - Crocheted Scarves and Cowls by Nicki Trench

Here's a book that will keep you busy for years to come.

'Crocheted Scarves and Cowls' by Nicki Trench is a collection of 35 colourful and contemporary crochet patterns. Ranging from simple to more advanced, this is a versatile collection showcasing a huge variety of crochet stitches and techniques.

If you're a beginner, you can start with something simple like the soft and chunky Lagoon pom-pom scarf (page 40) then move onto more complex designs as you build your confidence, such as the Samphire scarf (page 52) which has a pretty beaded edging.

If you're more experienced in crochet, the simpler designs are perfect for relaxing. The repetitive nature of simple stitches means that you can lose yourself in the rhythm and calm your mind, which is perfect after a stressful day's work. When you feel like a challenge you can make a start on one of the more advanced designs.

My personal favourites are the Jewel Cowl, page 84, the Carousel Scarf, page 104 and the Coast Scarf, page 42.

This inspiring book has something for everyone - from bright scarves and cowls, to muted shawls and neckwarmers. You can put those oddments of yarn to great use with many of these beautiful projects.

Nicki's book reminds us that scarves are not just for Winter - with the huge variety of yarns available, scarves and shawls can be worn the whole year round.

Until 20th. November 2016, CICO books are offering my readers an exclusive 30% off all books on their new website called MAKEetc. where you can buy their crafty books, find free patterns and fab tutorials. Enter code MAKE30 at the checkout.
Shop here: MAKEetc

Thanks for reading and don't forget to follow me on Instagam (the_woolnest), Twitter (@thewoolnest) and Facebook (@thewoolnest).

Happy Crafting,

Disclaimer: Thanks to CICO book who provided me with the free review copy. All of the views above are my own.

Monday, 14 November 2016

A new website for Crafters and a whopping 30% off until 20th. November 2016

I've been reviewing Craft books by publishers CICO books for a while now so image how excited I was to hear that they have just launched a brand new website called MAKEetc. where you can buy their crafty books, find free patterns and fab tutorials.
To celebrate, they are giving my blog readers 30% off all books in their shop with code MAKE30, until the 20th November, 2016.  

Just enter code MAKE30 at the checkout.

Here are a few of my knitting and crochet book reviews:
Fiona Goble: Knitted Animal Cozies
Laura Strutt: Modern Crocheted Shawls & Wraps
Mrs. Moon: Simple Chic Knits
Fiona Goble: Knitted Animal Scarves, Mitts & Socks
Fiona Goble: Scarves and Cowls

So what are you waiting for - head over there now and start your Christmas shopping.

Shop here: MAKEetc

Happy crafting,

Saturday, 29 October 2016

A Yarn Review of Shropshire Ply DK produced by Ewe and Ply, Shrewsbury - Thrifty Knitting & Crochet #2

When I was given 28g of yarn to test for review recently, I have to admit I was a little bit flummoxed as to what I would make with it, other than just crochet a test square and make notes on how it felt, handled and crocheted up. However, with my "Thrifty Knitting and Crochet" hat on, I wondered if there was something useful I could make out of this small amount of yarn. I have lots of half balls in my stash and they come in really handy for colourwork - I love a good crocheted stripe or a bit of knitted Fairisle. 

The yarn was sent to Fay as part of a Crochet Circle podcast yarn review, from Ewe and Ply in Shrewsbury and it comes in a great range of shades. It's called  Shropshire Ply DK. Becca and Teri who own Ewe and Ply have started to produce their own yarn from local pedigree Shropshire Sheep and the yarn is spun and dyed in Yorkshire. So for those who like to use British wool, this is a great option. It retails at £12 per 100g/247m.
Up in The Woolnest, I have a cute little teapot which was a charity shop find, and it's the perfect size for a good mug and a half of mint tea - my favourite flavour is Buttermint, which is like drinking a murray mint. So the idea popped into my head to crochet a mini tea cosy from the Shropshire Ply DK.
I used a basic V-stitch pattern to create 2 halves, which I shaped at the top and stitched together. I have the idea to cover it with lots of flowers, so I found some similar yarn in my stash and happily sat making pretty, rustic flowers. However, after sewing them all on, I realised that they made the cosy look far too top heavy, so I carefully removed the all so that I could re-use them on a different project and instead I attached just 3 flowers and 4 leaves. I called my tea cosy "Glen" - because it looks like a little fairy glen and also it's a little woolly tribute to Glen from The Walking Dead (it was so sad to lose him).

Here are my thoughts about the yarn:
The first thing I noticed was the smell, which is really pleasant and fragrant. When I squidged the yarn, it felt crispy and a bit crunchy and I was a little worried that it may be slightly rough on my hands as I have sensitive skin. I'm pleased to say I was wrong, and it felt much softer when I was working with than I'd anticipated.

It created a firm, sturdy fabric with crochet and was perfect for my tea cosy. I used some oddments of a similar wool to add a splash of autumn colour to the top of the cosy with leaves and flowers. The yarn is quite rigid and wouldn't stretch over my tea post, so I added a button fastening to one corner of my tea cosy for ease of use.
I love the yarn and could see myself using it again for slippers, cushions, amigurumi and accessories. I imagine that it would make the most gorgeous blanket - either knitted or crocheted - and would be great for felting. I grew to love the yarn whilst I was using it and I would definitely use it again.
I had such fun designing something small and useful from an oddment or too of yarn, and I'm so delighted with my finished project. It's been put to good use already up in The Woolnest, keeping my drinks nice and hot. I'll be sharing the pattern soon, and  I hope you agree that this has been a great "thrifty" project using some beautiful yarn.
See you all soon,
Happy Making,
Lynne x