Thursday, 13 February 2020

A Free Knitted Heart Pattern for Valentine's Day


Hello dear reader, how are you? It's February already and Valentine's Day is upon us. Can you believe that Valentine’s Day has been celebrated around the world for hundreds of years by sweethearts, lovers and courtiers who exchanged amorous greetings with a hand-written note or poem, often decorated with romantic symbols including flowers and lines of poetry or a cryptic puzzle. A great deal of effort went into their creations and they were secretly slipped underneath doors or tied to a door-knocker, with the sender remaining anonymous. How exciting and intriguing!!! This cute little box of chocolates reminds me of those days gone by.


Nowadays however, Valentine’s Day is much more commercial and is promoted as a day to give more expensive gifts like jewellery, along with flowers and chocolate. 


But there’s no reasons why we can’t raid our yarn stash to create our own hand-crafted Valentine mementoes. You could attached a little message to each one to brightened up someone's day.

I was gifted the yarn from King Cole as part of their Ambassador programme, so in return I'm passing on a freebie too.

I've used King Cole Stripe DK which is super soft and lovely to knit with. It's a standard double knitting (light worsted) weight yarn with 22 stitches and 28 rows to 10 x 10cm.You can wash it at 40 degrees maximum and there's a handy little image on the ball band to show how the stripes knit up. It creates a nice plump stitch and so the fabric has a squishy, cosy feel.


I chose the red to fit with Valentine's Day and I really love how the pink tones blend into the deep red. The yarn is slightly mottled, which gives a marled effect, almost as if you're holding two strands of yarn together. I love it. 

And here's the free pattern so you can make you own knitted heart:



Knitted Heart:
Materials:
King Cole Stripe DK in 4509 Red Stripe (100% Premium Acrylic;100g/290m)
(only a small amount is needed)
3.75mm knitting needles
Toy filling or lavender
Wool needle

Tension: isn’t critical; just make sure that your stitches are tight so that the toy stuffing or lavender doesn’t poke through. I used a slighter small needle than recommended to achieve this (3.75mm)

Finished Size: approximately 13cm high with 3.75mm needle.

Abbreviations: k = knit; p = purl; m1 = make 1 stitch by inserting the left needle into the loop lying between the needles and knit into the back of this loop to twist it (this avoids making a hole); p2tog = purl 2 sts together to decrease 1 stitch; k2tog = knit 2 sts together to decrease 1 stitch.

To make:
Cast on 3 sts.
Knit 1 row (right side).
Purl 1 row.
Increase row: K1, m1, knit to last st, m1, k1. (2 sts increased).
Next row: Purl.
Repeat the last 2 rows until you have 28 sts (ending after the purl row).
Stocking stitch 6 rows.
K14, turn and work on these stitches only for first hump.
Next row: P2tog, p to end. (13 sts).
Next row: K to last 2 sts, k2tog. (12 sts).
* Next row: P2tog, purl to last 2 sts, p2tog. (10 sts).
Next row: K2tog, knit to last 2 sts, k2tog. (8 sts).
Repeat last 2 rows, once more. (4 sts).
Purl 1 row.
Cast off. *

With right side facing, continue on remaining 14 sts and knit to end.
Next row: Purl to last 2 sts, p2tog. (13 sts).
Next row: K2tog, knit to end. (12 sts). 
Repeat from * to * as for first hump.

Sew pieces together with right sides outermost and using mattress stitch, leaving a small opening to fill with toy filling or lavender, before closing the seam completely. Weave in ends and fasten off. If desired you could add a hanging loop or a little note for someone special.

Happy Valentine's Day and happy knitting and crocheting,
Lynne xx

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Is it February already??


Hello dear reader and welcome to The Woolnest. I can't quite believe that we're already into the second month. It's flying by already!!

I've started off the year by announcing my intention to finish off all my Works In Progress (WIPS). Gosh I have so many; honestly - they're everywhere. Each time I open a cupboard or a bag I come across a little something that I started with great gusto and then the enthusiasm must have trailed off along the way. I wonder why this happens? Does it happen to you too? Take this pretty piece of crochet for instance - I started it almost two years ago and I don't even know what it's to become? A scarf? a bag? who knows? I can't even frog it because I've woven in the ends (very securely too)!!


But instead of letting my WIPS get the better of me, I want to celebrate all things wonderful and woolly in 2020 and appreciate my crafting skills and the joys they bring. But sometimes I feel weighed down with my stash and with all the WIPs that are lying around (I have found about 20 so far and still counting!!!). But I know I can change this and turn my stash and my WIPS into a well-organised and positive curation of gorgeous things.

So I'll be working on this during 2020 and you are all most welcome to join me. I'd love to hear about your stash and your WIPS.

One of the things you can join in with is:

Find it - Finish it - or Frog it
#fffalong2020



I've created the #fffalong2020 so that I can find those WIPS and either finish them, or frog them and use the yarn for something else. I would like to be more resource efficient with my yarn, so I'll be using what I have this year and not buying more. I did this last year and only bought a few of my favourite skeins and balls of yarn (mainly to support my friends - so I think I can forgive myself for these little purchases). But this year, the only new yarn that will enter this house will be work yarn for my commissioned designs and books. I'll let you know if I (accidentally) stray from my intentions.

If you feel in the same situation as me, then you can join in with my #fffalong2020 on social media and I will share your progress too. Just tag me @the_woolnest on instagram and @thewoolnest on facebook and twitter and use the hastag #fffalong2020, then we can record how many things we managed to complete. I'm feeling positive already!!
Each month, for my #fffalong2020, I will work on one or two WIPS to finish them. For January, it was a pair of socks for my daughter (an unfinished Christmas present), a work WIP that has been going on for way too long (thank goodness its finished now) and my Winter Haven socks that I'm also using a WIP for. If I just concentrate on finishing two or three WIPS I think I have a chance of winning.

I loved knitting with this 'Uneek' sock yarn from urth yarns. They plant a tree for every pair of socks knitted (www.urthyarns.com).



I also frogged 4 projects: 2 corner to corner scarves, a pair of toe-up socks and a one single toe-up socks. I really prefer to knit from the cuff down so have no desire to finish these, hence the frogging.


Here's the progress on my Winter Haven KAL socks. This is knitalong by Christine Perry (www.winwickmum.co.uk) and Christine has written a series of fabulous blog post all about looking after ourselves and keeping ourselves cosy during these colder months. I have my little haven all set up, along with my essentials - my chair in the lounge by the fire, cosy chunky blanket, squishy cushions, a lovely candle that smells divine, my sock project, a few nibbles and a yummy hot chocolate. 


With this in mind, I've chosen POSITIVITY and my word for 2020. I'm aiming to stay as positive as possible, and have a few things in mind that I know will help me. I thought that if I share them with you too, then I can spread the positive vibes.



So that's my January round-up. I'm keen to share some free patterns this year, so keep watching and I'll get them out asap.

Until next time …….

Lynne xx

Friday, 27 December 2019

A year of blankets


Hello dear readers and thanks for sticking with me. I realise that I haven't posted much at all during 2019 and I aim to do better in 2020.

But the good news is that my crochet book has gone to print and will be available next year.




Thanks to the editorial team at Search Press, it looks amazing, and I was so happy with the end result. There are 10 adorable hooded blankets for small children in  two sizes, along with a strip of matching bunting. The fairytale theme is perfect for these projects; you will have fun making them and your little ones can wrap themselves in their favourite character whilst you read them a bedtime story. They did take quite a while to design, mainly due to the additional of all the ears, tails and embellishments that make them cute and appealing, but I hope you agree that it was worth the effort (I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed).

I was excited to find it available for pre-ordering over an Amazon *here.


It seems to have been a year of blanket making for me as I also designed and knitted a cosy, chunky blanket for West Yorkshire Spinners, using their super soft Re:treat yarn, which is a chunky roving yarn that is really squishy and beautiful to knit with. I tried a slightly different approach to the squares, with each one framed by a border. This made it really easy to sew together, as well as helping each square to stand out. I loved this technique and I will be using it more in the future.

This image, courtesy of West Yorkshire Spinners, really made my heart sing and made me so happy to see my Emmeline blanket in all it's glory. The pattern itself is for all six squares, plus each square has it's own mindful exercise for you to try with the idea being that as you create, your knitting will become more enjoyable and the relaxing cycle will begin. A warm blanket is worth it's weight in gold - not only do you enjoy the process of knitting and crocheting a practical accessory, but you will also reap the benefits of it's warmth, just like a big hug. 

Blankets are slowly becoming more of a household item in the UK as we enjoy 'al fresco' more and more. I don't think you can have too many blankets and instead of turning on the heating, a handmade blanket will help keep the chills at bay on those cooler evenings. There is often a dash for the couple of blankets I've made for our home, so I can definitely see me making more from my stash in 2020 .


The pattern is now available as a download and you can purchase a physical copy from your local yarn shop, or buy a pdf download by clicking *here. It's great value at £2.69 for the full pattern with it's 6 squares, each with it's own mindful exercise.

And if you want to buy the full kit to make this cosy blanket, you can buy it from my Shop *here.


And last but certainly not least is my Knit-along blanket that I designed for Deramores, called Aztec Tile Blanket, in honour of the Diamond pattern that forms a bold frame within the border.


I designed two versions so that the kits are more affordable to a wider range of budgets, and the great news is that you can download the pattern itself for free and use up your oddments of double knitting yarn.

If you'd like to knit your own, you can buy the Studio DK kit or the Rowan Summerlite kit too by *clicking here to go to my Designer Shop.

Or you can download the free pattern by clicking here. Simply add the pattern only to your basket and check out (at no cost). I've seen some beautiful versions made from stash yarn.

For the Rainbow version I used Deramores Studio DK which is their own brand of yarn and is really nice to knit and crochet with. Currently there is 10% off so it's great value. You can see all the colours *here.


For the Pastel version I used Rowan Summerlite DK. It was the first time I had used this beautiful cotton yarn and it's gorgeous. The range of colours has a vintage quality and is really pretty. It doesn't split when you knit with it and there is a lot of meterage with the 50g ball, so it goes a long way. Currently there is also 10% off at Deramores which takes almost 50p off the price of a 50g ball. You can see the shades *here.

I'm really hoping I can find the time to knit one in black and white - although I'm not buying new yarn again next year, so it may need to wait. But I'd love to see yours if you make one in two colours. It really is just a combination of knit and purl stitches, and the borders are worked in a log cabin style, where you knit one edge at a time, then cast off. This version was inspired by the bold artwork of Clarice Cliff, who is a locally renowned ceramic artist.  



I'd love to see what you've been up to in 2019 - don't forget to tag me @the_woolnest in your Instagram posts so that I can share your makes too. 

So what shall we do in 2020? Well I have a few ideas for blogging so that I can stay connected with you and share some free patterns so if you would like to subscribe to my website at www.knitcrochetcreate.com  you will received a notification when I've blogged. So you don't need to miss a thing.

I hope you have a wonderfully woolly 2020.
Happy knitting and crocheting,
Lynne xxx

Link Summary:
My Designer Shop at Deramores
Fairytale Blankets to Crochet


Monday, 22 April 2019

Sunshine, Birdsong and a Mindful Exercise


The sun has been out in all it's glory here in the UK, which means that we've taken out the garden furniture from storage in the shed, and have started to turn the garden into somewhere nice to sit and relax. It's taken a while for us to get to this point, and in truth we still need a new table and chairs, but I think for this year, we can use what we have before investing in something new. Like many, our budget is a little tight at the moment and this year we're working extra hard to be resourceful and use and improve what we already have. We've invested in some spray oil to feed the chairs and table so I'm hoping that once they've been sprayed with the oil, they will look a little less forlorn. Perhaps a few crocheted cushions won't go amiss and would brighten up the garden as well as depleting my yarn stash.


I must admit that I'm not a keen gardener. If you ask my husband, he will quickly tell you that he can't get me to help with the gardening 'for love nor money'. The fact that we have a great selection of plants that are now giving us privacy, is all to his credit.


I have all the excuses in the world - and all of which are not 'real' excuses. In fact, it's a little bit like 'The Little Red Hen' - have you heard the children's story where the Little Red Hen has some wheat that she wants to grind into flour and make bread. But nobody will help her so she does it all herself. The story takes you through the different stages of bread making and ends with a beautifully baked loaf by The Little Red Hen. Then all of her friends want to eat the loaf, even though they wouldn't help to make it. Well I think my husband is the Little Red Hen and I'm one of the lazy friends who wouldn't help. Whilst I love to sit and enjoy the garden, I don't want to help maintain it.



Just to balance things out though, I will always do the housework when hubby is gardening, so that it's fair, and I do love to clean so it works really well for us. Do you have your own preferred jobs?

So thanks to Mr. Rowe, I can hopefully take some work outside in the weeks to come and enjoy sitting in my outdoor 'office', listening to the birdsong, the wind rustling through the trees, children playing, lawnmowers chugging, traffic roaring, and all of the noises that are there around us, that we often don't notice.



Here's a great mindful exercise for you to try if you find yourself with a few minutes to sit in the great outdoors and knit or crochet.

Settle into your seat and place your knitting or crochet down for a moment. Close your eyes and spend a few moments noticing your breathing. As you relax, listen to the sounds that you can hear. Concentrate on the louder, nearby sounds and pinpoint one sound to focus on, such as a birdsong. Listen to it's melody and how the notes are strung together. Breathe deeply as you listen and feel how your body reacts. Try to receive the sound without judgement, without responding. Notice the sound arising and the sound passing. Notice the pauses between the sounds and also note the sound of silence.

After a few moments, pick up your knitting or crochet and as you work on your mindful project, continue to hear the sounds around you, noting their comings and goings.

Using our senses in our mindful knitting and crochet can bring us into direct contact with the present moment and to what is happening around us. When our senses are engaged, our minds are less likely to find the time or space for thoughts and emotions.

You can practice this simple exercise anywhere and it's a great way to train your senses to be aware of the present moment. As you practice this exercise more and more, when you hear a birdsong, you will naturally tune-in to the sounds as your body memory responds.

Happy mindful knitting and crocheting,

Lynne xxx 








Tuesday, 26 March 2019

A Saturday at Black Sheep Wools with James, Thomas and 'Knititation'

A few months ago, the lovely Sara, owner of my favourite yarn shop, Black Sheep Wools in Warrington, invited me to her 'Mindful' day, at the Craft Barn, to chat with customers about how to practice Mindful knitting and crochet. I was really delighted as I always love a visit to the Craft Barn which is full of everything colourful and crafty, including delicious food and cake (and it's the most delicious homemade cake too with gluten-free options - yum!!).

I love to share my passion for knitting and crochet with others and I'm at the point now where I feel really comfortable chatting about anything knitting and crochet related. So now I don't feel as anxious when I'm teaching or talking (which is a relief), so as you can imagine, I was really looking forward to spending a day in the Craft Barn and chatting about mindful knitting and crochet. 

The main event for the day was a talk by James McIntosh and Dr. Thomas Ernst, all about using knitting as Meditation. James and Thomas are touring with their new book called "Knit and Nibble" which not only contains lots of great knitting patterns, but also lots of recipes for delicious biscuits and cake - what a perfect combination. 


Their talk was incredibly interesting, heart-warming, sad as well as happy. James openly talked about how he went from hero to zero, practically overnight; from having a huge, successful TV career in China, to not being able to move his legs and get out of bed through acute depression. He talked us through his journey, how he survived with the help of his partner Thomas, and how he discovered knitting, which was a pivotal moment for him. He taught himself to knit, and stitch by stitch he has started to rebuild himself and his life. 

Dr. Thomas talked about the scientific elements of Mindfulness, and I was captivated by his talk as he explained that we're all born amazing and it's only society that tells us that we're not good enough, or that we need to certain things to show everyone that we're successful and worthy humans. But in reality we're born amazing through billions of years of evolution and we carry all of the historical DNA coding from our ancestors - from that single cell amoeba, to fish, mammals and so on, through to our human form. He explained how our unconscious mind holds all of these memories too, in addition to the memories of our conscious mind (which I was surprised to learn is only the size of a walnut - quite small isn't it!!). He went on to talk about Mindfulness and how it can aid depression and we all practised a mindful body scan. 

The question and answer session was really insightful as most of the audience either suffered themselves with depression or anxiety, or worked with others or were carers for those who are mentally unwell. It was quite emotional to hear people's stories and journeys, but the common thread that drew us all together was that we all used our knitting (or crochet) as a tool to make us feel more relaxed, calm and positive. 

I found it quite amazing that just two things could make such a difference to our lives - a simple ball of yarn and a pair of needles (or hook). Isn't it incredible to think that every ball of yarn contains so much hope and love within it, and for James, it literally saved his life.  

The main aim of James and Thomas is to raise awareness of knitting and meditation - James has called this 'Knititation'. 

Together, they're hoping to raise awareness and encourage funding to enable full medical research into knitting as a therapeutic benefit for acute depression, which would be amazing, wouldn't it. You can read all about James and Thomas over at Knit and Nibble (www.knitnibble.com)

For me, it was a great opportunity to meet James and Thomas, as well as to chat with the all of the lovely customers and talk to them about how to combine Mindfulness with their knitting and crochet.

I practice at least 20 minutes each day and combine it with my knitting and crochet and it has helped me to feel much more positive and mentally refreshed. I can honestly say that it’s made a huge different to the way I feel, the way I deal with things and the way I react to stress and pressure. I feel much calmer and ready to face each day, along with the many challenges it may bring. 

I find that as the rhythmic and repetitive stitches become more familiar, they help me move into a more meditative and trance-like state. As I slow down and unwind, my body reacts by releasing chemicals that are calming and soothing, and as I relax, my knitting or crochet then becomes more enjoyable. In truth, I don't really want to put down my knitting or crochet, but I find that focussing for around 20 minutes each day is enough for me to feel the benefit. I do knit and crochet for much longer each day, but not in a mindful way, but more to just relax and watch TV. 

Over the coming months I will be sharing some tips with you on how to practice your Mindful knitting and crochet, and if you would like to learn more in-depth exercises, you can come along to my workshops in June (link is below) - an extra date has been added as the first ones have sold out. Thank you to everyone who has booked already and I can't wait to meet you all. 

If you would like to read about the health and wellbeing benefits of knitting, I would recommend Betsan Corkhill's pioneering book called Knit for Health and Wellness. I have read it from cover to cover and refer to it often. You can read more about the content of the book over on amazon by clicking here. 


Mindful cards are also a great resource to help you with your daily intentions. LSW London have some beautiful cards and ebooks over on their website *here



So for now, it's back to the grindstone of life as a new week awaits, full of deadlines, new beginnings and of course, a little bit of mindful knitting and crochet so that I can greet each day feeling as though I have a chance of climbing those 'deadline mountains'. 


Have a fantastic week, and remember, as Dr. Thomas said "We're all born amazing". 

Happy Crafting, Lynne xx

Disclaimer: All of the content is my own personal view.


Links:
Chatting with Sara about Mindful Knitting and Crochet

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Never ending story - my January round-up with audio podcast

Hello everyone, how are you all. It's almost the end of January - can you believe it? Time is definitely flying by this year.

I've recorded my January Edit over on Sound Cloud and hope you can find somewhere quiet to sit and enjoy it, with a cuppa and a slice of cake.

Here are the links to the various people and projects that I've have chatted about:

My Never ending shawl using a Scheepjes Whirl and my own design:
Disclaimer: Yarn was provided by Black Sheep Wools, Warrington.


It’s a work-related WIP as its eventually for Black Sheep Wools and it’s a slightly different/bigger version of my Faithful Shawl, which is a nice, simple and mindful knitting project. It uses garter stitch and an eyelet pattern to create a crescent-shaped shawl. A Whirl has 1000m of yarn per skein/cake and that's a lot of knitting. I really thought I was almost at the end, but then when I weighed the remainder of the cake, I'd only knitted up just over half of the yarn. I was a little bit deflated to say the least. It's never-ending!!!!! Even it if does look beautiful, with it's gentle fading from one colour through to the next.

January lace socks:
Pattern is Basic Lace Socks by Christine Perry (winwick mum) and free online to all.
No disclaimer needed: I purchased all products and props 

 I'm really enjoying this simple pattern. There are four rounds of the pattern repeat and it's very easy to remember, so I can just knit and knit. They're a great mindful project because there is a 6-stitch repeat, which I can say over and over as I knit, counting through the stitches. Before you know it, I've knitted a good length and also practised my mindfulness too and I'm left feeling nice and refreshed.

Teeny crochet squares:
Own pattern. Qing Fibre yarn for main colour and selection of 20g minis from Riverknits for contrast.
No disclaimer needed: All purchased (my own stash).
An accidental project, which started after a mooch in my stash where I unearthed a gorgeous skein of Qing Fibre yarn which I bought in Loop, London, last year.
I didn't mention it in the podcast, but Lucy of Attic24 has a great tutorial for the join-as-you-go method.
I want to try this cute little pattern with a few different yarns, so watch this space. I can't wait to try it out with some super chunky yarn and some 4ply cotton from my stash.

Free Pattern on Ravelry for my Teeny knitted hearts: 
Whole Lot of Love by Lynne Rowe. 
You can knit these up in a jiffy with just a few grams of yarn oddments. Turn them into a brooch or embellishment, or use them to cover holes or worn areas of clothing. They're really fun to make and I've been adding a brooch back and attaching them to birthday gifts as a usable part or the wrapping.

Podcasters:
No disclaimer needed as these are genuinely some of my favourite podcasters who keep me going when I'm knitting and crocheting.
The three main podcasters that I listened to this month were:
Emma Potter (Potter and Bloom)
Crafternoon Treats (Kathryn Senior)
Beautiful Things (Claire Mackeness)

And that's my January round-up. I hope you enjoyed my podcast and do let me know if there is a specific subject that you would like me to include in a future podcast.

Happy crafting,
Lynne xx

Here are the links to the pages mentioned:
Scheepjes
Black Sheep Wools
Winwick Mum (Easy Lace Socks)
Qing Fibre
Loop London
Riverknits
Lucy's join-as-you-go method (Attic 24)
Teeny knitted hearts pattern
Emma Potter (Potter and Bloom)
Crafternoon Treats
Beautiful Things