Pretty For Summer

special new

Knitting and crochet were for many years seen as seasonal hobbies, often traded in for gardening during the warmer months.  Fortunately, for us yarn shop owners, this isn’t so much the case any more and there are lots of us out there who see the summer months as a great excuse to sit down with friends on the beech, or by ourselves taking in those Vitamin D producing sun rays with our latest projects.

Copious photographs in previous posts and on Instagram will go to prove that I will knit just about anywhere, having been known to pull my needles out at music festivals, steam rallies, Ardmore Beach and on tour buses to name but a few.  Regardless of the time of year I’ll knit.

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On the back of the trike on our way to Blarney. I can successfully knit if I hold my knitting low down behind my hubby – even at 120kmph 😉

 

As my ever suffering hubby and children will confirm, Love me, love my knitting.

I would have to confess though, that when selecting a yarn to knit with, cotton wouldn’t usually be my first choice as I tend to find it tough going on my hands, particularly if it’s mercerised.

Mercerisation (if you’re interested?) is where the yarn is given a Sodium Hydroxide bath that is neutralized in acid.  The process  increase the strength of the yarn and is what gives mercerised cotton it’s familiar lustre too.  It’s also said to make the yarn adsorb dye better, which is how such bright colours come to be achieved by the spinning mills and as a ‘by the way’, it results in a yarn that is mildew resistant too.

If I was to opt for cotton and i occasionally do,  I’m much more likely to reach for a ‘raw’ cotton (un-mercerized), something very like Classique Cotton from Stylecraft Yarns, which is super soft and comes in a range of beautiful colours and costs €5.95 per ball.  Each 100g contains 184 metres/201 yards of 100% cotton and knits as a true double knit on 4mm needles, with a tension of 22 stitches to 28 rows over a 10cm/4″ square.

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I’ve chosen 15 colours from the range to begin with including (from left to right)

Plum, Poppy, Hot Pink, Shell Pink and Shrimp.

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 Seville, Sunflower, Leaf, Soft Lime and Azure.

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Greek Blue, Lavender, Wisteria, White and Ivory.

Classique Cotton has been a Stylecraft Yarn staple for some time now, so as you might expect there are a good range of patterns available in knitting and crochet, for adults, children, accessories and home wares.

Some of my favourites include.

classique 5Pattern 8745 is a classic round neck, knitted jumper with a deep rib and the added detail of a cable running up the length of the arm.

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Pattern 9133 is a t-shirt style knit with decorative eyelet stripes in sizes 32/34″ to 40/42″.

classique 9134Pattern 9134 is a girls round neck cardigan with a pretty lace detail for sizes 2 – 11 years.

classique 7Pattern 8849 is for crochet mats and storage pot covers.  personally I’d love to decorate a wall in my house with some of the mats fixed to it as they’d add a good splash of colour.

classique 8Lastly, what’s not to love about the spotted crochet tea cozy, complete with a pretty posy of flowers on top from pattern 8853?  The pattern also has instructions for the mug cozy too 🙂

 If you enter Classique Cotton into the yarn search bar on Ravelry, you’ll notice the yarn has been used for over 470 projects including everything from dishcloths and bunting to jumpers and blankets.

I imagine by now, there’s every chance you’re wondering what the photograph at the top of the post is all about?  It’s actually the widely anticipated three new shades released by Stylecraft in the Special DK range.  The new shades are (from left to right).

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Storm Blue, Parma Violet and Sage.

Happy Knitting!

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Lilly Pond CAL Clue 4

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I can’t believe it’s been 2 and a bit  weeks already since the last Lilly Pond Blanket Clue was released.  I know I’ve been busy, but I’d struggle to tell you doing what 😕

Moving on…..

This Tuesday did indeed see the release of the Stylecraft/Jane Crowfoot CAL clue 4 and judging by the Facebook Group Page, there were lots of people eager to get started.  Looking again this morning loads, loads of them have already completed all 4 blocks too 💩

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Block 4 as you can see, is called Bobbles and Pin Wheels and the design is meant to represent the ripples of the water with little pink lilies at the waters edge.

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The chart above shows the colours needed if you’re making the block using Stylecraft Life on the left and the alternative shades for the Special DK on the right.

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Not being particularly fluent in crochet, I’ve struggled with this clue the most so far.  I think for me crochet is easiest when I have to make a square (going round and round), rather than working a piece that goes back and forth.  I’ve managed this much so far and now have had to allow my brain time to heal  I’ll be sure to get the rest finished when I’m back from my travels (I’m off to London later today).

Before I go and pack my suitcase, because I’m one of those last minute people (bet you couldn’t have worked that out?) I guess I should really show you my attempts at blocks 2 and 3……

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The Tiny Lilly Block from clue 2 wasn’t really that bad after I’d got the hang of it.  it’s not the best piece of crochet in the world, but it’ll pass.  It is however over 4 centimetres bigger than the reccomended 12cm square size.

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As alluded to by Jane, the blocks are likely to get harder as they go on and I definitely found the third block – Lilly Bud, a little more intense.  Truth be told, at one stage I’d have rather eaten it than continue.

The eagle eyed amongst you, will notice that my 3rd block is again larger than the specified 12cm.  Happily though it’s the same size give or take the odd millimetre to my clue 2 block 🙂 So I’m hoping everything will work out OK.

File 23-05-2015 07 03 46Yes, I have managed to get through it, but look at all those scary ends that still need to be sewn in.

😱 😱 😱

The next clue, for block 5, is due to be released Tuesday the 2nd of June.

Happy Crochet!

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Lilly Pond CAL – Clue 2

Cal clue 2This morning saw the release of the second clue for Stylecraft Yarns Lilly Pond Blanket Crochet Along.  I’m not sure how those of you taking part are fairing?  My tension as I’ve mentioned previously is off and by quite a bit 😳

tiny lillyThe block this time is called Tiny Lilly and doesn’t look too difficult (phew).  Having glanced over the pattern quickly though, I have spotted the words sew/sewn  😒 Since when did I sign up for a sew along?

I jest 😉 😉 😉

Having said that this is serious business apparently, if you’ve joined the Lilly Pond Facebook Page you’ll have no doubt seen just how ‘seriously’ some people are taking it 😱 It’s not a race to see who can complete the blocks first and it most certainly shouldn’t be a competition about whose block is better (only my opinion).  Sadly, I’ve noticed several posts from members saying the forum just wasn’t for them and they’ve left because of it.  I’d like to think this will make people think twice before posting anything unbecoming, but I doubt it.  What I do think they should note is that other companies and individuals could be put off of hosting their own CAL/KAL because of it.

Enough chatter, back to the CAL

table 2For the Tiny Lilly blocks you’ll need the shades in the chart above.  Stylecraft Life DK on the left and Stylecraft Special DK substitutions on the right.  Note the Plum and the Fondant shades are only used for the sewing this time.

The next block Lilly Bud will be released on May 5th.

Happy crochet!

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It’s Here!

Stripes

Today is the 7th of April, which is the birthday of Billie Holiday and Russell Crowe, it’s also the day that Liam Gallagher and Patsy Kensit got married on too.  April 7th (1985) is when Wham became the first western act to play China and strangely enough, it’s also the day that George Michael was arrested in a public restroom in Beverly Hills for lewd conduct (1998) 😳

More importantly though, April 7th, sees the release of the first clue for Stylecraft Yarns and Jane Crowfoot’s Lilly Pond Blanket Crochet Along, you can find it on the Stylecraft website to download here

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The first block is called Stripes and Waves which, as the title suggests, represents the ripples of water in the lily pond and you’ll need to make 4 of these in total.  This will be my first time attempting something like this in crochet and I don’t mind admitting that I’m a little worried my crochet skills will fall short.  However, having had a quick look over the first clue, I’m happy to report that there are lots of photographs, to help 🙂

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Life Dk on the left, Special Dk on the right

If you’re using the Special Dk rather than the Life DK you’ll have to substitute the colours in the column on the right hand side for the ones they refer to in the clue.

The next clue will be released in a fortnight on April 21st, remember though, there’s no pressure to have your 4 blocks completed by then.  The CAL is meant to be an enjoyable experience, so be sure to take your time, I know I will 😉

Remember to pop up photos of how you’re getting on on the Facebook Page if you get a chance.

Happy Crochet!

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The Lilly Pond Blanket CAL – Are You Ready?

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It’s officially April now and hopefully, all the fun and games of April’s Fool should be well and truly over by now.  As it was the 1st yesterday, the countdown can officially begin for the launch of Stylecraft and Jane Crowfoot’s’ Lilly Pond Blanket CAL, which begins with the launch of the first pattern on the Tuesday 7th.

The Special DK delivery of CAL colours has arrived, but despite all of the assurances there were still 3 shades necessary to complete the blanket missing 😩 Happily, I had 2 of these shades in stock however my supply of the shade Petrol was minimal – 3 balls to be exact.

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Teal on the left and Petrol on the right

Drama and more drama.  After I’d finished banging my head against the wall of the stock cupboard, I realised I had 2 packs of a very similar colour sitting on the shelves. I think the Teal makes a pretty good alternative?  In real life it’s slightly greener than the Petrol, but the difference is minimal.

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Due to the ongoing issues surrounding stock of the suggested colours that I mentioned in my previous post here Stylecraft have released a list of necessary shades to complete the first clue, to try and help everyone participating.  You can see from the chart above that Petrol is amongst the first 6 shades so there’s no avoiding it 🙈

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Now lets talk tension and I’m not referring to the type caused by → missing colours ←.  If you’ve downloaded the original leaflet from the Stylecraft website you’ll know that you’ll be using 3 different sized hooks to complete the blanket, 3.5mm, 4mm and 4.5mm.

As you can see the required tension for your double crochet is 4 stitches x 5.5 rows on a 4mm hook and for the trebles it should be 5 stitches x 2.5 rows with a 3.5mm hook.

Cut to my swatches now 🎬

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Oops, they’re the wrong way round, sorry 😳 Even more embarrassing are the rather wonky edges.  I did promise to post up my attempts, warts and all and my crochet is not the greatest.  It got better as it went on though 🙂

My tension though, is pretty much bang on 🎯

It would be great to hear how you’re getting on with your tension test squares too.

Happy Crochet!

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The Lilly Pond Blanket CAL

CAL 2

By now I’m assuming a good few of you will have seen something about the crochet along that Jane Crowfoot has designed in association with Stylecraft Yarns?  If you’re not sure what I’m referring too, pop along to either Jane’s blog here, Facebook Page here or the Stylecraft Facebook Page here.

Life dk

If you have spotted it, chances are you might have also noticed all the chatter about the yarn for it being difficult to get?  The blanket has been designed using Stylecraft’s Life DK range which is a blend of 25% wool/75% acrylic and has a beautiful handle to it.

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The interest in the CAL has been tremendous, much more than Stylecraft had anticipated and as a result a couple of shades needed for the CAL have sold out completely in the Life DK.  Unfortunately, to make matters worse, the missing shades are unlikely to be back until mid to late May and the CAL is due to begin on April 7th.

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Undeterred, Stylecraft and Jane have put together a replacement palette using the Special DK range instead and despite having already sold out of some of these colours too, the team at Stylecraft have worked round the clock with their manufacturers to secure stock in all shades for this week.

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To Crochet the Lily Pond Blanket in Special DK you will need: 1 x 1061 Plum, 1023 Raspberry, 1241 Fondant, 1080 Pale Rose, 1005 Cream, 1081 Saffron, 1034 Sherbet, 1068 Turquoise balls and 2 x 1065 Meadow, 1708 Petrol and 1027 Khaki balls.  I have pre-booked the 11 shades required to complete the blanket and am expecting delivery by the end of this week.

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Stylecraft have released an introduction to the CAL here which contains lots of helpful information including a valuable section on tension to ensure your blanket is a success.

The patterns will be published fortnightly and there’s a total of 8, which will be free to download on the Stylecraft web site from the 7th of April. The stitches used to complete the blanket are chain, slip stitch, double crochet, half treble crochet, treble crochet, and double treble crochet.

If you’re wondering about the level of crochet ability the CAL is aimed at?  In her blog Jane says “I have tried to design the pieces so that they get progressively harder and hopefully this means that crocheters can use the CAL as a learning tool. The patterns will focus on one motif or block every fortnight and you will need to complete an average of 4 motifs/blocks per set. Most of the blocks are 15cm square, although others are slightly bigger”

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There is an official Facebook CAL Group here where you’ll be able to keep in touch with other taking part and watch everyone’s progress.  I’m hoping to have a go myself, although my crochet skills don’t really stretch past my granny shawls 😁 I’ll be sure to document my attempts (and I do mean attempts) here for all to see.  I’m guessing I’ll be utilising the Facebook Group lots and I’m even more pleased to know that the patterns will include step-by-step images to help guide us (I mean me), through the making process ✌️

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Anyone interested in joining in too?

As soon as the delivery arrives I’ll be sorting the yarn out into CAL packs ready to go out straight away, so you can be ready for the 7th.  The 14 ball pack will set you back €40 and I’d recommend reserving one if you’re going to give it a go as it’s likely stocks will run short again.

Happy Knitting!

That should probably be crochet I guess?

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