Monday, 20 October 2014

Book Review - Knitted Woodland Creatures by Susie Johns

What seems like a absolute age ago, I received a delightful knitting book from GMC Publications ( For a while I've been meaning to sit down quietly and review this lovely book, but it was only yesterday that I got the chance when I enjoyed a peaceful, bright and sunny Sunday morning, watching Sunday Brunch and reading "Knitted Woodland Creatures" by Susie Johns.

I love Susie's work as I see her designs featured regularly in various UK knitting and crochet magazines. In fact, when I first started to design, I recall writing to Susie, asking her for a little bit of advice and she very kindly responded with some wise words, for which I was grateful. Susie's website is here if you'd like to read more about her:

This charming book made me smile from the start - just looking at the hedgehog on the front cover made me grin. Then I opened the book and saw the rest of the 15 adorable animals in their full glory in the colourful photo gallery - they're so cute and incredibly life-like. I think my favourites are the squirrels, but the pheasant is amazing too:

The vintage rabbit is super sweet and I love how each animal has it's own personality.

Alongside each set of instructions for each animal, there are interesting facts, so you may learn something you didn't know about each creature. There's also a helpful techniques section which provides instructions on the various knitting techniques required and also how to stitch your toys together. 

Overall, this is a great book if you love knitting toys and I would definitely recommend it.

Please note: although GMC kindly sent me this book to review, they did not ask me to write anything specific, only to include photos and a link to the book on amazon. All of the above opinion is my own.

You can buy the book here on amazon for just £10.49, and you can look inside the book too, which is always a bonus:

I'd love to hear if you've bought this lovely book and if you've made any of the cute creatures from it.

Happy crafting, Lynne x

Friday, 12 September 2014

Book Review - Scarves and Cowls by Fiona Goble

When I recently received an email from Cico Books asking me if I'd like to review Fiona Goble's latest knitting book called "Scarves and Cowl", as you can imagine, my immediate response was a great big yes. The book arrived the very next day and I couldn't wait to take a peek inside.

I've seen the book featured recently in lots of knitting and crochet magazines and I'd already thought how fabulous it looks, so when the postman delivered my review copy the very next day, I tore open the package with excitement and great anticipation. Judging by the very sweet cover design, I was hoping to be in for a treat.

I'm so pleased to say that I wasn't disappointed. Not in the slightest. The book made me smile for ear to ear with it's quirky style and amazing photography. It has a real vintage/retro feel which is just up my street.

This colourful book is packed with 36 scarves and cowls  that are simple, quick and fun to make. The great thing is that there's something for everyone, from a fun snake scarf to a stylish and sophisticated evening capelet. Most projects can be knitted in an evening and require only one or two balls of yarn - great for people like me who hide a rather embarrassing yarn stash.

I've already ear-marked some quick projects for Christmas gifts and also a few for myself.

My favourite project is the Roll-Neck Capelet and I love the simplicity of the Chunky Ribbed Cowl.

This book will remain a firm favourite of mine for a very long time, and for now I've left my copy on the coffee table so that I can cheer myself up with a quick peek from time to time :)

If you can't wait for the book to be published, Cico have published one of the patterns for free, so get out your needles and get clicking.

Free pattern here:

Happy knitting and have a great weekend, Lynne x

Monday, 30 June 2014

Catching up

Wow -where has the time gone??? It's weeks since I last blogged which is rather naughty of me. I've had a very busy few weeks, designing, teaching and technical editing, as well as mum duties and housework. My 2 daughters are both embarking on exciting new things, so I've been trying to help/offer advice and just be there when they need a little rant, whilst trying to keep on top of my commissions and book.

My exciting news is that I recently started to run knitting and crochet surgeries and free demos at Abakhan in Hanley and Chester and I'll be running workshops too in Mostyn Wales. So far I've delivered one surgery and one demo. I've met some lovely people who knit and crochet and I've hopefully helped them to complete their projects trouble-free. Details of my demos, workshops and classes can be found here. I'll be teaching: learn to knit, granny squares and joining methods, knitted toys (a mini cat) and fairisle and cable techniques. 

In other news: I have 2 stylish granny square projects featured in Let's Get Crafting this month, which I really enjoyed designing and making as the yarn is so summery and fresh. The headband teaches you the join-as you-go method to make a simple row of granny squares which you could easily adapt for a blanket project. It's perfect for a festival or camping - just pop it on and look glam!! The cute little purse is one of my favourites, as  I love "clicky" purses. There's something so satisfying about snapping a frame purse closed and it brings back lovely memories from my childhood when I had lots of similar little purses made from brightly coloured oil cloth. I love how it's been photographed too, with the matching nail varnish. The purse begins with two of my current favourite stitches - puff stitch and cluster stitch. I've used them a lot lately and I think I'm obsessed with them!!! There are lots of lovely designs in this issue, which you can see here on Ravelry. Images are by Cliqq Photography (©Let's Get Crafting).

I've been working on some fun projects as well as stylish homewares and accessories recently, which I can't share at the moment, but they'll be worth the wait. I've also been working on my book (well I should say catching up with my book as I got a little behind!!).  I'm so pleased with all my little characters and their photo shoot is now booked for September, so I'll be sharing some fab photos soon after.

I did wonder what I'd let myself in for at one point. As I start each character, I wonder how I'm going to make it look super cute whilst keeping the instructions straight-forward and simple and adding my own style. I usually um and arh, unravel and start again a few times, but I get there in the end. My little characters are displayed  up in the wool nest, and each time I go in I look at them and smile. I think they're going to be popular (fingers crossed) and I have lots more amigurumi ideas to share with you once my book is finished.

I have a couple of fun projects too in Woman's Weekly Knitting and Crochet magazine this month. I was delighted to design for them. It's amazing how you can turn a crisp tube, a yoghurt pot and some yarn into something fun and practical too. I made this fab lighthouse doorstop and more crocheted letters spelling "BATH" to add to my previous crocheted and knitted signage - so far I've designed the words BEACH, LOVE, BOO, HOME and BATH. I really should work up the whole alphabet - something for the future I think!! I have a couple more fun projects coming up soon for Woman's Weekly that I'm sure you'll love. I felt honoured that my seaside projects both featured in this "behind the scene article here. Images ©Woman's Weekly.

Both Let's Get Crafting and Woman's Weekly are on the shelves in most newsagents where you'll find the patterns for these designs and much more.

I'd love to see your makes and you can add your projects to my Ravelry page here.

Happy crafting, Lynne xx

Monday, 12 May 2014


This weekend I was reunited with an old friend, thanks to the lovely Claire Montgomerie, Commissioning Editor of Inside Crochet.

Claire had tweeted whether anyone was interested in any Patricia Roberts pattern books as she was having a clear-out due to a house move and this little tweet sparked an old desire deep within to find the first knitting book I'd ever bought as a teenager.

Many moons ago in the early 80's, just following my punk era, I spotted this book in my local wool shop in Warrington, and just had to buy it. I love the cover image - a little risque for a knit book - don't you think?
I was a regular visitor to this shop which was located just around the corner from my home. In fact I think I may have been the only 'youngster' that passed through the doors!!! I'd been knitting and crocheting for many years, thanks to my nan, and was desperate to knit something for myself. I was quite a trendy young person and during the punks years my friend and I made our own clothes - usually a tight fitting skirt to wear with a jumper or baggy top. Sometimes the garments didn't quite last the night, but fortunately rips and holes in clothes were all the rage for a punk, so it didn't really matter if the seams came undone (which was a good job really!!). A few years later, we tentatively embraced the bright colours of the eighties, along with shoulder pads, leg warmers and plastic jewellery, before I eventually returned to my punk roots and entered the dark side - otherwise known as Goth, where bright colours were no-go!!

But I digress. For many years I've been searching for my elusive Patricia Roberts knitting book. They're quite hard to come by and cost quite a lot to buy on the various auction sites. So I'd given up and forgotten about it, until Claire's tweet. I asked Claire if she had the book with the liquorice allsorts jumpers in it, and guess what - she did and very kindly sent it to me, along with a couple of other Patricia Roberts Pamphlets - what a star!!! Thanks to Claire I spent Saturday reminiscing about bygone times when all as I had to worry about was what I was going to wear that night!! The booklet Claire send to me was an abstract of some of the patterns from the main book, but luckily they were my favourite ones.
This image really tickled me up - it seems a lifetime ago when smoking was 'acceptable' and even used in photoshoots:
I love the tweed jacket and feel compelled to find the time to knit one up. It would look fab with jeans. The shades used in the original book are back on trend now, so mustards and browns here we come......

Do you remember your first knitted garment? I'd love to hear all about it. Happy Crafting, Lynne x

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Celebrating Yarn Shop Day 2014

I had a great day today celebrating Yarn Shop Day at The Wool Shop in Crewe, Cheshire. But what is Yarn Shop Day? I hear you ask.

Yarn Shop Day is the brainwave of Let's Knit Editor Sarah Neal. Sarah explains, “Love Your Yarn Shop is designed to remind consumers of the value of their local wool store. With the growth of the internet we have far more shopping opportunities than ever before, but when it comes to knitting there’s no substitute for seeing and touching the yarn, and for having the advice of experienced knitters on hand. Yarn shops provide all this and more; they are sources of great inspiration and often a community hub. It’s been a tough time for the high street recently so we’re encouraging consumers to support these shops and enjoy all that they have to offer.”

So, on 3rd. May 2104, lots of crafting activities took place in yarn shops around the country. I popped along to The Wool Shop in Crewe, West Street, Cheshire.The reason I travelled to Crewe (about 12 miles) is that sadly there isn't a wool shop in Congleton. I hadn't visited the shop before, despite knowing the lady who owns and runs it. I met Pam when she came to my crochet classes in Sandbach, Cheshire, bringing along her knit group. They're such a lovely (and lively) group of ladies, and in the end they came along to 4 sets of courses and learned the basics of crochet through to advanced stitches including tunisian crochet and broomstick lace.

It was great to meet up with them all again, along with some new ladies, eager to learn some crochet basics.

I was asked some familiar questions, each one of which I will write about very soon in individual posts in the hope that I will help lots of other eager people enjoy and develop their crochet and knitting skills.

We made cute little bows using double crochet and treble crochet, and also tried broomstick lace crochet.

After visiting Pam's fab shop in Crewe and making a note of the yarns and accessories that she sells, I now know that I can pop along and enjoy her knit club on a Saturday morning and also pick up any accessories and yarn that I need instead of ordering online.

Here are my own reasons why you should try your very best to shop in your local yarn shop:

~ Supporting your local yarn shop is essential. It's not just a place to buy yarn, it's a place to meet new people, make new friends, learn from experts and share your ideas and passion for knitting and crochet.

~ For every £1 sent locally, 63p stays in the local economy, compared to only 40p with a larger business (quote from the Guardian

~ Most yarn shops are also a hub of crafty activity as they also run knit clubs, workshops and classes. So it's a great place to meet new people , make new friends and learn new skills.

~ Knit and Crochet groups are a great way to share your passion for crafting and can be an invaluable source of inspiration - be inspired by other people's projects, colour schemes and use of stitches and patterns.

~ a Knit and Crochet group is a great place to share resources and reduce your outgoings - you can share books, magazines and tips and tricks for making your projects perfect.

~   In your local yarn shop you can smoosh and squish the gorgeous yarns, see colour shades first hand and feel the quality of products.

So don't be shy, go ahead - enjoy your local yarn shop and join a friendly, creative community. 
 Have Fun, Lynne xx

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

10 Random Things

A week or so ago, a virtual friend posted a blog post called 10 random things, and invited others to do the same, so I thought I'd obliged with my own random collection which I hope you enjoy........

1. Last weekend we had an additional small person for a few days. We're honoured really as my nephew refuses to sleep over at anyone's house, except ours. He came for 3 nights and he was no trouble at all. He gets on really well with his cousin - my little Ollie - and they had a great time, despite the 4-year age gap. Ollie is 12 and Leo is 8. We went for walks round and about, including the beautiful Astbury Mere, which is just on our doorstep. They they played on the local park, enjoyed games of football on the front garden and played together on various consoles.

2. We had a treat on Easter Monday with a Chinese take-away and a yummy gluten free marble cake made by daughter Izzy. Here gluten free cakes are sooooo delicious. Our oldest daughter came to stay and our family was complete again for just one night, along with my mum-in-law. I love it when all my children are home. The house is really busy and we all enjoyed catching up and chatting.

3. My daughter Kate has recently visited Bergen in Norway to exhibit some of her art work. You can see here photos here. She has some exciting new potential plans for a new business, so fingers crossed she can achieve her dreams.

4. My younger daughter Izzy is worrying rather a lot about what she'll do when she finishes her 3-year professional dance training, which makes me worry too, as I don;t like to see her stressed and upset. She likes to be well organised so she feels quite vulnerable as she has no idea what the future holds. Fingers crossed she'll live her dreams and something amazing will happen for her.

5. Some time ago I enjoyed knitting with the most gorgeous yarn from Finland. I blogged all about it here. The instructions are published in this month's Homemaker mag, and I'm sure you'll agree it looks amazing. The yarn was so beautifully soft and the throw was incredibly warm and cosy.

6. I'm busy working on crochet characters for my second book with Search Press, which is really exciting. However, I have to admit I'm a little behind schedule so I really need to make an effort to catch up, which I intend to do over the next couple of weeks. It's called "Fairytale Crochet" and I'm delighted with my characters so far. I'm rather nervous about this book as there are some amazing amigurumi designers out there so I'm working really hard to make them as adorable as can be. I love amigurumi and this month I have a cute little Whale in Let's Get Crafting magazine.

7. Only 4 more sleeps until Wonderwool, Wales (website here: I'm off on a coach tip with some other lovely crafty ladies, including a good friend that I used to work with. We'll have a good natter on the coach and a great day mooching around the fantastic exhibitors stalls. If last year is anything to go by, there'll be some amazing talent and work on show. These needle-felted chickens by Jenny Barnett look fab. I can't wait......

8. I've recently designed quite a few fairisle projects. I can't share the finished samples as yet, but here's the inside of my latest cushion design - can you guess what it is (sorry it's on it's side)???

I was really pleased with my fairisle knitting technique. I watched this video which helped me to perfect my stranding and weaving - it took me a few goes to get it right, but it really helped with one of my projects

9. I'm about to start a new set of knitting and crochet classes at Sandbach School in Cheshire. Starting next week I'll be running a next steps crochet on a Tuesday evening and a next steps knitting on a Thursday evening (more details here I love teaching people to knit and crochet. It's really satisfying to see pupils developing new skills and feeling really pleased with themselves. On my last night of crochet I walked passed this gorgeous blossom tree which smelled as beautiful as it looked.

10. Finally I've made a start on a quick knitting project just for me. I'm hoping to have it finished for Wonderwool on Saturday!!! I's a short triangular neckerchief. My friend always wears the most gorgeous hand-knitted scarves/cowls/shawls. I think she has something in every colour to match any outfit. She keeps asking me if I've made anything with the wool I bought last year. Hopefully I'll be able to say "Yes" on Saturday.

That's my 10 random things - I hope you enjoyed them and I'd love to hear if it's inspired you to do the same. Happy Crafting xx

Saturday, 22 March 2014

A busy few weeks and a bit of extreme knitting

Wow - it's been a bit of a whirlwind here at the Wool Nest. I've had so many commissions over the last few weeks that I've barely had time to breathe. I've enjoyed every single one of them and even though a couple were a little bit tricky, they've all turned out well (I just hope the editors think so too). 

I've made flamingos, a fairisle cushion, a pair of short socks (to match a longer pair I made last year), crochet cars, poppies, coat hanger covers, a princess, a lighthouse, crochet letters, crochet mittens, a crochet bed jacket and a super super chunky throw. I'll share photos of each and every one as soon as they're published.

I felt delighted (and priviledged) when the editor of Homemaker magazine asked if I'd like to take on the commission for the throw - delighted and excited as I've always wanted to try some extreme knitting. The yarn arrived and it was absolutely gorgeous, squishy and luxurious. It's 100% merino yarn called Fat & Sassy, spun in Finland by TJOCKT and the colours were just up my street -bright yellow, grey and a gorgeous creamy white. Tjockt's website is here if you want to read more about them and their beautiful yarns and products:

I ordered my super-sized needles and waited patiently for them to arrive and couldn't wait to work up a swatch. I wound the giants skeins into giant balls of yarn - much to my son's delight, who thought they'd make great footballs!!!!

After swatching I worked out how many stitches I could knit with each colour and designed my throw accordingly. I wanted to keep it simple, as the yarn is so gorgeous it needed to speak for itself. You'll be able to see my finished design in Homemaker magazine issue 18 which is due out in April. I was really pleased with the outcome and worked out that I'd knitted up well over £200 of yarn - what a scary thought.

I thought that extreme knitting would be really easy and quick, but I was mistaken. It takes longer to knit each stitch as it's very difficult to get any sort of rhythm going and the needles are huge so it's quite difficult to hold them. I had to rip out my first few attempts as I'd decided (for some unknown reason) to introduce a pattern at the last minute, but forgot that my swatch was in stocking stitch, hence I used up much more yarn that I'd calculated for, so my square blanket would have ended up as a half-square instead - oops. But after a couple of false starts I was well on my way, and finished the blanket in time for the deadline, which is always a relief. I wondered how I'd weave in the ends of yarns as I've never seen an extreme darning needle - but I just used my fingers and I managed to hide them all perfectly.

I fell in love with this yarn - the quality, the softness, the colours and the knit were all amazing. It was so snuggly and cosy too and kept me toasty warm as I knitted it up. I could have willingly kept this luxury throw as it looked fantastic in my conservatory. I even have a couple of cute cushions that matched perfectly. So it was with great sadness that I said goodbye to the throw and will look forward to seeing it beautifully styled in Homemaker Magazine in April. Homemaker has a great website with lots of free downloads and great articles here:

Needless to say - I love my job :) and I'm grateful to all of the lovely Editors that I work with for offering me such fun and enjoyable projects.

I'd love to hear if you've been doing any extreme knitting or crochet?

Happy crafting to you all, Lynne x

Friday, 28 February 2014

Knitting on Circular Needles Tutorial

Hi and welcome to the Wool Nest. I thought  I'd share this tutorial with you as it formed part of a free pattern I designed some time ago for Bricks Magazine, to make a gorgeous cowl, modelled by my equally gorgeous daughter. The pre-launch issue can be viewed for free and my Bricks Cowl pattern is on page 57: Bricks pre-launch issue

Knitting in the round on circular needles creates a tube of knitting without a seam. This tutorial shows how I start to knit in the round (there other methods you can use). This is my preferred technique as it's virtually invisible and creates a nice neat edge. 

Knitting on Circular Needles:

Your pattern should specify the length of circular needle that you require. Cast on the number of stitches as stated in your pattern. Spread the stitches out around the circular needle making sure they are not twisted, then bring the needles together, as shown below, with the right side of knitting facing you.

Next, join the round as follows:

1. Insert the tip of the right needle knitwise (as if to knit it) into the top stitch on the left needle and slip the stitch from the left needle to the right needle:

2. Insert the left needle into the front of the second stitch on the right needle:

 3. Lift this stitch up and over the first stitch on the right needle - similar to casting off but leave the stitch on the left needle (the top stitches on each needle are now crossed). Place a stitch marker over the tip of the right needle (it will sit between the two crossed stitches - see image below). The stitch marker will identify where one round ends and the next round begins. Slip the stitch marker at the end of every round.

4. Start knitting according to your pattern instructions. Note, because the top 2 stitches are twisted, they are a little tight when knitting.

I hope this helps and encourages you to try knitting on circular needles. Happy Knitting, Lynne x