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

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Stash Blanket Project - Blanket Number 5 - Candy

Hi and welcome to the Wool Nest. I enjoyed a "sort of" week off last week, hence why this blanket took 2 weeks. I say "sort of " week off as I had a couple of lovely commissions to finish, in between days out over half term. We shopped, ate out, went to the cinema, caught up with friends, met a new little baby, had a good old tidy up, visited family and had visitors ourselves too. Phew!!! and I made my deadlines so all is good. 

I've finally finished blanket number 5 "Candy". I love how it looks, in terms of the squares used in the middle of the blanket, however I struggled to keep this one square and I feel I'll have to block it out as it isn't sitting right. I'm not entirely sure why, but I refuse to frog it as I need to start the next blanket. Fingers crossed that blocking will work.

Here's how I made it:
Step 1: Choose your colours. I decided to use up my free pack which came with issue 50 of Let's Get Crafting magazine (their website is here) . Each month, Let's Get Crafting comes with a pack of yarn in gorgeous shades so that you can make projects from that issue. I hadn't used up this lovely pack, and it seemed perfect for a sunburst granny blanket. I also used approximately 100g of cream yarn and 30-40g of pink and a deep rose colour for the outside edges of the blanket.

Step 2: Choose your granny. I chose the Sunburst Granny Square because I love the texture that puff stitch adds to a flat piece of crochet. I searched the internet and found a great tutorial by Nitybits here - note all of the instructions for the stitches are included at the top of the tutorial.

I made 16 sunburst circles, using my free Let's Get Crafting yarn - they look really pretty.

Step 3: Join your motifs: I decided that I would join the squares as you go. I haven't used this method before and I wondered if it would be quicker or easier than joining individual squares. I decided it was quicker but I'm not 100% what I think. I may have to have another go before I decide if I prefer it to joining individual squares. The link to the join as you go method is in Nittybits tutorial (she uses Attic24's join-as-you-go tutorial here) . Basically, you work around the first circle as if you were making an individual square, then you start to join the squares as you make them. I found it quite straightforward as Lucy's tutorial is well-written.

Step 4: work around the centre grannies. I started to work around the large centre square, starting my first corner with (3ch 2tr 2ch 3tr) then working 3tr into each space and (3tr 2ch 3tr) into each corner. I had to omit the 1ch in between each side treble cluster as my blanket became fluted. I joned every round with a sl st into the 3rd of the first 3 ch and slip stitched across the next 2tr and slip stitched into the corner space. I worked 4 rounds pink/2 rounds cream/  round pale pink/1 round cream/1 round bright pink/2 rounds cream.

Step 5: 
Edge your blanket. I always like to finish my blanket with a defined edge, so I worked a treble border all around the edge in a deep Rose. I worked 1tr into every treble tr into each corner.
So blanket Number 5 is done. I'm a little behind with my schedule, but luckily for me, my mum has come to the rescue and has crocheted up a couple of blankets for me. I'll blog about them once they're edged. You can see all my blankets so far here.

Now, I need to get a move on with the next blanket, so it may be a simple one but lovely too, I hope.  I'd love to hear if I've inspired you to make a small (or large!!) blanket. Happy Crafting, Lynne x

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

A little Love Token - Free Heart Knitting Pattern

With Valentine's Day rapidly approaching, I thought I'd share my quick and easy pattern for these cute little love tokens. They're the perfect thing to pop into a loved one's pocket, lunch box or work bag. Imagine their surprise when they find your message.

Here's how to make them: 

k = knit.
p = purl. 
k2tog = knit next 2 sts together as one stitch (to decrease 1 stitch). 
p2tog = purl next 2 sts together as one st (to decrease 1 stitch).
kfb = increase 1 by knitting into the front of the next stitch but don't remove it from the left hand needle. Knit into the back of the same st then remove st from left hand needle (two stitches made from one stitch).
st(s) = stitch(es).
WS = wrong side.
RS = right side. 

3.75mm needles (or you could use 3.5mm or 3.25mm needles - whatever you have available)
Oddments of double knitting yarn
small amount of toy filling
darning needle 
thin ribbon 

Cast on 2 sts, leaving a long tail end for sewing up later.

Row 1: Kfb, K1. (3 sts).
Row 2 and every alternate row: P.
Row 3: K1, Kfb, K1. (4 sts).
Row 5: Kfb, K to the last st, Kfb. (6 sts).
Row 7: Repeat Row 5. (8 sts).
Row 9: Repeat row 5. (10 sts).
Row 11: Repeat row 5 (12 sts).
Rows 12-14: starting with a P row, st st 3 rows.
Row 15: Repeat Row 5. (14 sts).
Rows 16-18: starting with a P row, st st 3 rows.
Row 19: K7, turn and work on these 7 sts only.
Row 20: P to the last 2 sts, P2tog. (6 sts).
Row 21: K.
Row 22: P2tog, P to last 2 sts, P2tog. (4 sts).
Row 23: K1, K2tog, K1. (3 sts).
Cut yarn and thread onto a darning needle. Thread needle through last 3 sts on needles and pull tight. Secure yarn end with a few stitches, weave end into WS and trim.
Next, with RS facing you, work on the remaining 7 sts to work second hump as follows:
Row 19: k7, turn.
Row 20: P2tog, P to end. (6 sts).
Row 21: K.
Row 22: P2tog, P to last 2 sts, P2tog. (4 sts).
Row 23: K1, K2tog, K1. (3 sts).
Cut yarn and thread onto a darning needle. Thread needle through last 3 sts on needles and pull tight. Secure yarn end with a few stitches, weave end into WS and trim.

Making Up:
Place the two heart pieces together, with WS together and RS facing out. Stitch the sides together using mattress stitch (trapping any yarns ends inside the heart) until approximately 3cm of the seam remains open. Fill with toy filling (you could even add lavender) then stitch the remaining seam closed. Tie off yarn end and weave end into the heart.

Use ribbon or yarn to attach a message printed onto a small piece of card and pop your heart into your secret place, to be found during the day. It's sure to make your loved one smile.

Make a dozen hearts and attach a hanging ribbon to each one. Hang onto twigs for a rustic look.
Have fun with your hearts, Happy Valentine's Day and Happy Knitting, Lynne x

Monday, 10 February 2014

Stash Blanket Project - Blanket Number 4 - Beryl

Hi and welcome to the Wool Nest. It's been super frantic here over the last week, and I'm not really sure how I managed to whip up blanket number 4, called "Beryl" - meaning Green Jewel. But thanks to Sunday night TV - Call the Midwife/The Muskateers/Mr. Selfridge - I gave it a final push during my 3 hour TV marathon last night to finish off the green stripes and weave in the ends. Perfect for easy TV viewing.

It's a granny ripple which I first saw on Emma Varnam's blog here. Emma is a talented designer, with a variety of crochet books under her belt and as we've met in person I can say that she's a very lovely lady too. I admired Emma's gorgeous granny ripple blanket and she kindly shared the link to the website tutorial, which you can find here.

I set off with great guns but I have to admit that once I'd started, I wasn't that keen on this pattern. I think I gradually became bored of just crocheting rows. I think I much prefer to make smaller granny squares and especially enjoy the process of creating colourful squares and joining them together to make a larger square. However, the end product is rather lovely and I love both the deeper shades of green as well as the lighter ones.

Here's how I made it:
Step 1:
Choose your colours. I chose 14 shades of green from my stash, most of which were small 20-21g balls of yarn that come free with Let's Get Crafting Magazine. Each month, Let's Get Crafting Magazine comes with 6 free balls of yarn so that you can whip up your own cute creations from the designs in that issue. These were the perfect size for my granny ripple blanket as each small ball worked 3 rows of pattern. 8 of the 14 shades of green were from Let's Get Crafting yarns.

Step 2:
Choose your granny. I chose a the granny ripple stitch, inspired by Emma Varnam's blanket here. Isn't it gorgeous!! The full tutorial for the granny ripple stitch is here and I made an initial chain of 131 with a 4mm hook, which made my blanket approximately 25.5 inches wide. I worked the first 4 rows in the lightest shade followed by 3 rows of each graduating shade of green, up the the darkest. I worked 4 rows in the final shade which made my blanket approx. 26 inches long.

And that's it really - quite simple yet very effective with the graduating shades of green. I'd love to hear your thoughts, and I hope I've inspired you to make something for charity too - even if it's something small like a teddy bear or preemie hat. There are lots of free patterns on Knit for Peace website  here  to help get you started. I'm not sure how I'll get on with next week's blanket as I have lots of commissions to finish and some mittens for my daughter to knit. But fingers crossed I'll find the time. 
Happy crafting, Lynne x

Friday, 7 February 2014

"Bracken" Men's Scarf - free knitting pattern and colour change tutorial

Knitting a Chunky Scarf

I had great plans last year to make lots of handmade Christmas presents. I didn't make lots, but the few I did make were lovely and really well received, especially this stylish scarf that's super easy to make. 

What you need to knit a scarf

All you need is approximately:
100g of chunky yarn (US bulky) in a solid colour 
100g of variegated chunky (bulky) yarn (so that's 200g in total). 
You can use either 5.5mm (US 9) or 6mm (US 10) knitting needles. 
I used 5.5mm needles.

I only had 200g of yarn in my stash, but it was the perfect length and great for tucking into a coat. Of course you could make it longer if you have more yarn.

How do I knit the scarf?

The houndstooth check appearance is made by knitting a broken rib pattern and working 2 rows in the variegated yarn followed by 2 rows in the solid colour. 

These simple stitches make it great to work on whilst you're watching the TV or listening to the radio. 

Plus, the great thing about ribbed patterns is that the back looks just as good as the front.

I found 4 x 50g balls of yarn in my stash:

2 skeins of Noro Silk Garden Chunky (Col 04) - this is Yarn A
2 balls of Bergere de France Magic+ (Shade 20868 Bivouac) - this is Yarn B

Noro Silk Garden chunky is a beautiful mix of silk (45)%, mohair (45%) and lambswool (10%). At the time of writing, I spotted a similar colour of the Noro Silk Garden chunky here
Bergere de France Magic+ is a mix of acrylic and wool and is still available to buy.

Instructions to knit a scarf

Cast on 33 sts in Yarn A using 5.5mm needles (or 6mm needles if you prefer).
Row 1: Knit the first stitch, *Purl 2 stitches, Knit 2 stitches; then repeat from * all the way to the end of the row.
Row 2: Purl the first stitch,  *Knit 2 stitches, Purl 2 stitches; then repeat from * all the way to the end of the row. 
Next, join  Yarn B  as follows: first, place the tail end of Yarn B underneath Yarn A:

Tie Yarn B around Yarn A:

and push the knot the the top of Yarn A.

Next, using Yarn B, repeat Rows 1 and 2 once more.
Drop Yarn B, pick up Yarn A and repeat Rows 1 and 2.
Drop Yarn A, pick up Yarn B then repeat Rows 1 and 2.

Continue in this way, working two rows in each colour until your yarn is used up (ending with 2 rows in Yarn A to match the cast on edge).

Cast off in pattern, which means you follow the pattern for Row 1 as you  cast off.

And there you have it - a cosy scarf that is perfect for a cold winter's day. Whilst I made this for a man, you could make one for any member of the family, or for a friend, in their favourite colours.

If you've enjoyed this project, you can find a similar scarf and lots more relaxing projects in my knitting book called "Knit Yourself Calm". You see inside the pages by clicking here

I hope you've enjoyed my tutorial - I'd love to hear what you think and I'd love to see your scarves.

Happy knitting, 

Lynne x

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Stash Blanket Project - Blanket Number 3 - Bryton

Hello and thanks for stopping by. I've had a busy, busy week here at The Wool Nest and I'm surprised that I managed to finish blanket #3 amidst all my commissions. I've called this blanket "Bryton", meaning bright and I know it will be perfect for Knit for Peace.

I pondered over my wool stash and realised that I had quite a large amount of a rather glaring and almost neon orange and an equally bright yellow. Eeek - not my cup of tea at all!!! Where did they even come from???  I wondered how on earth I would use it to make a nice blanket, then I thought "rainbow". So I had a minnie mooch around my stash and found rainbow coloured yarns and Taa-daa - here we have it - a brightly coloured rainbow blanket. I almost frogged it after working the red, orange and yellow as I thought it looked hideous. But knowing I was stuck for time, I crocheted on and started to like it more and more and the darker colours were added. I think I might even make another as that bright orange yarn has barely been touched!!!!

Here's how I made it:

Step 1:
Choose your colours.I chose 7 rainbow colours of double knitting from my stash, most of which is Sirdar/Hayfield Bonus Double Knitting. It's my favourite acrylic yarn to use as it has a nice thickness to it and it washes well. I chose red/orange/yellow/green/blue/violet/purple.

Step 2:
Choose your granny. I chose a basic granny square, just because I was in such a rush with this one. Little Tin Bird has a great tutorial here and there are lots of videos online if you need them. I work 5 rounds in red/4 orange/4 yellow/4 green/4 blue/ 3 violet (note: I ran out of violet - you can do 4 rounds if you wish). I ran out of blue too and had to continue with a slightly different shade, but this actually looked really nice and I might use this as a basis for another blanket - blending shades of the same colour. 

Step 3:
Edge your blanket. I always like to finish my blanket with a defined edge, and for this blanket I chose scalloped edging as demonstrated by Lucy at Attic 24, here. I worked the edge in a final round of purple and it used quite a lot of yarn - approx. 30g.
 The scalloped edge added a pretty finishing touch to Bryton and I hope you agree it's a lovely blanket, despite my initial concerns.
So what are your thoughts? Do you love bright colours, or do you prefer more subtle tones like me?

I hope I've inspired you to make a blanket and I'd love to see your projects. 
Happy Crocheting, Lynne x

I've been asked by the popular magazine Woman's Weekly to host this competition on my blog, which I agreed to. Please feel free to have a go. I won the teddy bear pattern, which is really cute - and I got all the questions right (phew!!). If you prefer to enter the competition from their main website, you can find it here