Wool House

Wool HouseToday I went to Somerset House to visit the Campaign for Wool’s Wool House exhibition. The exhibition showcases everything to do with wool – weaving, crochet and knitting; yarn and fabric; home decor and fashion.

Unfortunately today the real sheep were not in the courtyard, so instead I was greeted by a life-sized crocheted bear. Scary but cuddly at the same time.

bear

 

There was The Most Comfortable Chair in the World EVER which was fully upholstered in Mongolian Longhaired Sheep fleece. I could have sat there all day, snuggled into the soft yarn, but instead headed off to see the rest of the rooms.

fluffy chair

 

Most of the exhibition was set up as rooms in houses, with as much as possible made from yarn, even the walls! The nursery featured a knitted raindrop mobile, plenty of woolen toys, and feature walls that reminded me of Fuzzy Felt (soft woolen wall hangings/panels with felted trees and leaves for decoration).

 

sheep

 

 

The “Modern Room” was full of bright, fun felt that had been cut and folded origami-style to create cushions (the left-over felt was used to make blinds) and sound-absorbing wall panels. There were some lovely green flower cushions, made by cutting slits and folding them to create petals that I am inspired to attempt to recreate.

felt

 

 

 

In contrast to the modern room was the “Natural Room” full of rustic yarns. While not my preferred colour-scheme, this room was cosy and homely and full of little touches like these cute knitted pots.

wool

 

 

Unlike some of the more modern rooms, the natural room featured a chair that looked comfy to sit in – it had been totally upholstered in old Aran jumpers. You could clearly see the components of different jumpers and cardigans (the chair back was buttoned up nicely) and there were useful pockets carefully placed on the arms.

chair

 

 

As well as all the furniture and interiors there were rooms displaying different styles and types of clothing made from wool – classic Savile Row suits, pure wool scarves, Vivienne Westwood tweed shoes, and tweed cycling gear complete with flashing safety lights. There was even a pair of “jeans” made from wool tweed that looked just like denim!

Did you know that Britain is home to the most species of sheep? Rooms were full of interesting wool facts, along with samples of a huge range of woolen fabrics, yarn and fibres. Apparently wool makes a great mattress as it keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer, however I was more tempted by some fabric that could make a nice jacket….

crystalsPure wool tweed covered with Swarovski crystals! Hmm… maybe not the most realistic choice for a sewing project!

Wool House is open for another week so if you are nearby I would recommend popping in for a quick look and stroke of all the lovely yarns (and a free felt sheep key-ring!). I left the exhibition feeling inspired to spend the rest of the afternoon wrapped up in my wool blanket with my knitting.

 

 

Quick cosy crafting

I have been struggling to keep my eyes open this week and haven’t been awake and out of work long enough to edit the photos of my weekend baking, so instead here is a quick picture of the only crafting I’ve managed to do.
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Take one favourite over-sized cardigan that accidentally got in the washing machine, shrunk and felted, and has been in a “I can’t throw this away so will do something with it” pile for almost a year. Fold the sleeves in and the top down, blanket-stitch along the edges and fill with a cushion. Easy-peasy and makes a cosy place to rest your head for a nap.
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Completed: Crafty Resolution 2012

On 4th January 2012 I said:

So here it is – my little crafty resolution for 2012 is to make a blanket!

And at around 11pm last night I darned the final tail of yarn to complete my blanket. Hooray!

blanket!So how did I do in relation to my initial goals and ideas, and what did I learn (other than crochet)?

I was thinking about knitting or crocheting a square a day (too much pressure) or making a square a week (not enough for a big blanket) so after some maths I have decided to make 10 squares a month (for a 10×12 blanket) or 2.5 squares a week. Hopefully this will be enough of a challenge, but also manageable.

My blanket is 10×12 squares and making 10 squares a month was a bit of a challenge. Some months were easy, but in others my time was filled with other crafts. If I had more self-discipline I suppose I could have pushed other projects to the side in order to keep on track with my crochet, but the lure of finishing the hems on a jacket or knitting another sleeve were too tempting for me. The lesson learned here is to have just one big travel/tv watching project on the go at a time!blanket! 083

I am planning to make some traditional crocheted granny squares, knit some different textures and patterns, learn some new stitches and techniques, and maybe sew or patchwork some pieces too.

This project ended up being pure crochet. I enjoyed having crochet to do when my fingers were tired of knitting my Miette, and it was good to use yarn instead of fabric again. I definitely learned lots of new stitches, (special mention to the loopy sheep and popcorn/bobbles) how to read crochet charts and I even designed a couple of blocks myself. blanket! 088

As much as possible all the yarn will come from my growing stash and be a reminder of other knitting I have done, starting with left overs from Christmas, and will probably feature a few buttons from my collection.

Haha! I don’t think I quite realised how much yarn it takes to make a full sized blanket. I used 240g just on the five rows for the border! Lots of stash yarn was used up but lots more was bought and most of the yarns are natural/wool (in the autumn I gave in and started buying wool blends to lower my spending, but they are still mostly wool not acrylic). The blanket weights 2.1kg so if on average each ball of yarn was £3.50 for 50g that means which is pretty heavy (I could feel the extra weight when I went to sleep last night and woke up feeling a bit too warm!).blanket! 089

 I hope that there is a bit of a story behind each square, and I shall document their stories and my progress (when I can work out how to make a special button on here!)

Some of the blocks have obvious stories (can you find the ones made during the Jubilee, the Olympics and Vixie’s Christmas birthday?), others are less obvious (the blocks I made when bed-ridden with tonsilitis or when sitting on “the beach”) and some are just pretty. No buttons were added as that would make it less snuggly, but the little scottie dog has a nice ribbon round his neck.My year in crochet

Now if you’ll excuse me, my toes are getting chilly so I am going to curl up on the sofa under my blanket and resume knitting my red cardigan.

Presents!

I got some lovely crafty gifts for Christmas, however I have been blind sighted by my blanket since (only 2 border rows to go, so hopefully will be finished before the weekend is over) and have neglected to show you all what I received.

rotary

The big thing I asked for (and I mean big, it was a mission carrying it on the train home) was a rotary cutter and cutting mat. I have had a bit of a play with it and my accuracy is improving, but I need to practice how much pressure I need to use before I try cutting anything important.

yarn 242

Another large parcel under the tree was two big balls of soft chunky turquoise-blue-purple variegated yarn. I have no idea what I will use it for, but luckily I got some lovely books to provide inspiration.

books 232

The first book, Knitalong, was from a colleague who, when giving it to me, worried what she might be responsible for! Half of the book is a history of knitting, the other half is a collection of knitting patterns and it all comes with a whole lot of inspiration for social knitalongs. The second book I opened is Knitivity – instructions to knit all the characters in a Nativity scene complete with the story and props to make the scenery. Very cute characters, and the basic dolls could be dressed up in other costumes. Plus, I do love a good cheesy pun! The last book I received was The Liberty Book of Home Sewing. Most of my sewing is dress-making so it will be nice to branch out and make some pretty things for my little flat.

thread spool 236

Finally, I bought myself a little sewing related gift in the sales – it is a spool to hold my earphones! Practical and pretty 🙂 Tomorrow I will tell you my new year craft goals and how I plan to make the most of these lovely presents in the new year…

The 12 Blocks of Christmas

On Christmas Eve I finished knitting some socks for my Uncle (a Christmas present from last year) so I was able to get back into my crocheting and catch up with Rachell’s CAL. Luckily for me, Christmas provides some excellent entertainment to crochet in front of (A Very Muppet Christmas AND A Muppet Christmas Carol on the same day, hoorah!) so I’ve got on and am now just 6, yes SIX, blocks away from finishing the blocks for my blanket (assuming my records are accurate).

My brain is too tired to fit this post to the tune of “The Twelve Days Of Christmas” so here is a list of the blocks and my thoughts about them.

#38 Dahlia. I like the bobbly centre and the solid blocks of colour. It will need a bit of blocking when I join it to the rest of the blocks.
I skipped #39 as I didn’t want anymore stripes.
#40 Granny with a Twist. A nice centre, but I didn’t need as many rounds to get to my size so it doesn’t have as much impact as in the book.
#41 Bobble Triangle. I now like crocheting bobbles and I like purple. I don’t think you can tell but here I used double yarn (DK purple and lace weight metallic purple) so the real block has a very subtle sheen.
#42 Lacy Wheel. Hopefully with blocking the lace will appear more, as at the moment it is not one of my favourites.

12 blocks of christmasNow I am nearing the end of my blanket, there were a few blocks I didn’t want to do. Its not in the spirit of the CAL, but I didn’t want too many repeats on my final blanket so I skipped #43 as I am 98% sure I made one like this earlier in the spring. I skipped #44 and #45 as they are plain dc stitches and I wanted to learn as many new stitch techniques before I finish.

#46 Meadow. I like the centre of this one – it looks pretty simple but is slightly different from a normal square.
#47 Queen Anne’s Lace. I liked making this one, needs a bit of blocking but works as it is.
#48 Danish Square. I really like this one! Great centre design and I like the mix of stripe widths.

So that brings me up-to-date with Rachell, but with a NYE/back to school deadline looming I had to carry on so apologies for the CAL spoilers! I skipped #49 (another corner? no thanks) and #50 (again, another dc block).

#51 Bright Flower. I almost looked past this block as just another flower in a square but I LOVED the way this flower was created. It is so clever and I will definitely try to find a use for this technique in the future.flower

I started making #52 but the texture didn’t look right with any of the yarns I had enough of so I unravelled it and moved on to the next block.

#53 Mesh Fantasy. I like the mix of open and closed stitches in this one, but it needs some serious blocking (maybe because I used a heavy yarn for a couple of rows).

Only 9 blocks to go! Here is where I officially left the CAL, sorry guys. With just a few blocks left, I wanted to make sure I had a chance to make the exciting ones. I flipped through the book and wrote down the numbers of my favourite blocks I haven’t yet done, noting if they were in a solid colour. So I can use up my yarns efficiently I started crocheting blocks in a single colour if I thought I had enough remaining.

#64 Sunshine Lace. Another square that will look better when it is blocked/sewn into shape.
#74 Seville. I loved the technique for this one – the first row was very clever and it took a few odd rows before making just one little dc made it work beautifully.
#80 Blocks and Shells. I was quite tempted to make another block #30 Shell Lace, but thought this one would be similar. It was just one row repeated over and over but it looks very effective. I did reduce the width of the columns as my foundation row looked too long for my squares. It is nice, but I still prefer #30.

I think I have now run out of yarn for any more single-colour blocks so I will be back to the multi-coloured designs, starting with #58 Peach Rose. Just 6 more to do, before I have my favourite job of darning in the ends and sewing them all together. I’d like to crochet a border around the finished piece (I will allow myself new yarn for that!) but am not sure what – rows of plain tc or some fancy scallops? Any suggestions or patterns?

Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny

Warning: This post contains super cute images. People who coo easily should proceed with caution.

Last week I spent my evenings crocheting and sewing some teeny tiny little baby things. A relative has just had a baby girl so there was no way I could resist the chance to make tiny little pink things. I am very much a believer that girls and boys can do whatever they like – when my support staff at work get the cars out for “the boys” I always tell them that everyone can play cars – and dislike the way everything and anything these days has to come in pink and blue, but look how cute and pretty these booties are… The booties were made from a Purl Bee pattern that Tania had made recently and was so quick and easy to make – it took a bit longer for me because I didn’t use felt and had to sew some fleece and fabric together and turn before I could get hand-sewing. I also made the little baby a pink and purple crochet hat which only used a tiny bit of my blanket yarns. I love how quick it is to make tiny things for babies 🙂

Another creation is for an old friend who is due in the next few weeks. When I knew she was having a baby I wanted to make a crazy hat for baby and spent ages on ravelry searching for the best one – everyone has hats with bear ears nowadays so I wanted something a bit more special.

This is probably the cutest thing I have ever made and I kept squealing excitedly to myself as I put it together and could see what it would look like. Are you ready to see something cute?It is a baby giraffe hat!!! The only thing I can think of that would be cuter, would be a baby giraffe hat being worn by a teeny tiny baby.

Crochet Along update

It is about time I updated you all on my CAL progress. I took photos earlier in the week but have been too tired to post them (I’m soon going to need two hands to count the number of times this week that I have fallen asleep with my glasses on and a book/ipad in my hand). I had a bit of a panic when I realised how far behind I was, but have had a sudden surge of productivity (at the expense of my knitting) thanks to a little crochet case I made last weekend.
I made a simple little roll (think knitting needle rolls) with pockets large enough to hold medium-sized balls of yarn and a small pocket for spare hooks. I realised I wasn’t getting much crochet done because lots of the blocks require a few colours of yarn, and when I carry them in my bag they all get tangled. So with this crochet roll I can carry 5 or 6 shades of yarn without them getting tangled, and it is quick to pack away at the end of my travels.


From left-right, top-bottom you can see block 7 (corner granny), 8 (popcorn flower), 6 (textured bluebells), 3 (square target), 5 (twin stripes), 10 (openwork square) and 9 (arcadia). I am currently halfway through block 12 (fine lines) and will try to finish it tonight, so I can start week 4 tomorrow.

You may have noticed there are a few missing – block 4 went seriously wrong and needed too much concentrating so I have abandoned it temporarily until my brain is up to concentrating. I started block 11 (baby blocks) a couple of days ago and just couldn’t work out how to carry the yarn across to each part of the checker board. With knitting you can have strands of yarn crossing the back because there are different stitches for each side. I just couldn’t figure out how to train the yarn and keep it on the back of the block. I also realised I didn’t really want lots of loose yarn hanging on the back of my blanket (and there is NO WAY I am going to break of the yarn and sew it in a million times). So I decided life is too short to stress over one crochet block (that to be honest isn’t too inspiring really) so I’m skipping it completely! Please don’t kick me out of the crochet-along!

Well back to block 12, and choosing the colours for the remaining stripes. I’ve got a lot to choose from after collecting this parcel from the sorting office this morning…
Lots of shades of purple and pink Sirdar dk wool and wool blends from Deramores (with a 20% off offer).

p.s. there is still time to enter my giveaway!

My Miette!

After a heatwave all weekend, the weather is finally cool enough to put on my finished Miette (here and here) and take some photos. Hoorah!

I made button bands from some grosgrain ribbon (I had to match to the colour of the buttons as there was nothing that came close to matching the yarn colour). Apologies for the following close up of my chest, but look! The buttons don’t gape!!It is such a (pleasant) shock to wear a cardigan that fits my curves without being too tight or too baggy in places, it is really making me think carefully about my next knitting project.

p.s. Since it felt too hot for knitting or crochet at the weekend and I didn’t want to be dressmaking and adjusting sweaty garments, I got my sticker collection out and sorted some of my resources. Colour coordinated threads and tools organised on my door for easy access (and minimal tidying up!).Next on my tidy-up to-do list is vacuum-packing some of my fabric!