Saturday, 29 October 2016

A Yarn Review of Shropshire Ply DK produced by Ewe and Ply, Shrewsbury - Thrifty Knitting & Crochet #2

When I was given 28g of yarn to test for review recently, I have to admit I was a little bit flummoxed as to what I would make with it, other than just crochet a test square and make notes on how it felt, handled and crocheted up. However, with my "Thrifty Knitting and Crochet" hat on, I wondered if there was something useful I could make out of this small amount of yarn. I have lots of half balls in my stash and they come in really handy for colourwork - I love a good crocheted stripe or a bit of knitted Fairisle. 

The yarn was sent to Fay as part of a Crochet Circle podcast yarn review, from Ewe and Ply in Shrewsbury and it comes in a great range of shades. It's called  Shropshire Ply DK. Becca and Teri who own Ewe and Ply have started to produce their own yarn from local pedigree Shropshire Sheep and the yarn is spun and dyed in Yorkshire. So for those who like to use British wool, this is a great option. It retails at £12 per 100g/247m.
Up in The Woolnest, I have a cute little teapot which was a charity shop find, and it's the perfect size for a good mug and a half of mint tea - my favourite flavour is Buttermint, which is like drinking a murray mint. So the idea popped into my head to crochet a mini tea cosy from the Shropshire Ply DK.
I used a basic V-stitch pattern to create 2 halves, which I shaped at the top and stitched together. I have the idea to cover it with lots of flowers, so I found some similar yarn in my stash and happily sat making pretty, rustic flowers. However, after sewing them all on, I realised that they made the cosy look far too top heavy, so I carefully removed the all so that I could re-use them on a different project and instead I attached just 3 flowers and 4 leaves. I called my tea cosy "Glen" - because it looks like a little fairy glen and also it's a little woolly tribute to Glen from The Walking Dead (it was so sad to lose him).

Here are my thoughts about the yarn:
The first thing I noticed was the smell, which is really pleasant and fragrant. When I squidged the yarn, it felt crispy and a bit crunchy and I was a little worried that it may be slightly rough on my hands as I have sensitive skin. I'm pleased to say I was wrong, and it felt much softer when I was working with than I'd anticipated.

It created a firm, sturdy fabric with crochet and was perfect for my tea cosy. I used some oddments of a similar wool to add a splash of autumn colour to the top of the cosy with leaves and flowers. The yarn is quite rigid and wouldn't stretch over my tea post, so I added a button fastening to one corner of my tea cosy for ease of use.
I love the yarn and could see myself using it again for slippers, cushions, amigurumi and accessories. I imagine that it would make the most gorgeous blanket - either knitted or crocheted - and would be great for felting. I grew to love the yarn whilst I was using it and I would definitely use it again.
I had such fun designing something small and useful from an oddment or too of yarn, and I'm so delighted with my finished project. It's been put to good use already up in The Woolnest, keeping my drinks nice and hot. I'll be sharing the pattern soon, and  I hope you agree that this has been a great "thrifty" project using some beautiful yarn.
See you all soon,
Happy Making,
Lynne x

Friday, 21 October 2016

Thrifty Knitting & Crochet #1

When Crochet Now magazine was launched just over 6 months ago, I was delighted when Editor Hugh  Metcalf approached me to write a column called "Stash Diaries". Each month I write a small column around a specific theme, which leads nicely into something you can make with your stash. This is usually something you can make with oddments of yarn (I generally class oddments of yarn as under 25g).

I've been really surprised at what I've been able to make with small bits of left-over yarn, and I've even used my stash to raise money for Charity. So I thought I'd take this further on my blog, with a feature called "Thrifty Knitting & Crochet".

My aim is for "Thrifty Knitting & Crochet" to be an interactive process, and I know that many of you already apply this ethos to your crafting, so I'd love to hear your own thoughts and views on making your knitting and crochet activities more thrifty and ultimately more sustainable.
The sustainability aspects of crafting are already widely covered by other bloggers who talk about the impact on animals, people and the environment. So I'll round up the information available on sustainable crafting and provide links so that you can read/hear more from those individuals who have carried out a lot more research in this topic area.

For Thrifty Knitting & Crochet, here is a list of topics that I will be covering over the coming months:
Keeping on top of your stash - is your stash out of control? Then fear not, I will walk you through the process of grading and sorting your stash and reducing it down to more manageable levels, as well as giving you ideas on what to do with the yarn you no longer want to keep using my "Use it or lose it" rules as a starting point.
Using your stash - I'll start by giving you some ideas on how to use up those oddments of yarn. We'll find a use for those full balls, part balls and tiny oddments. I'll be covering both knitting and crochet, so there's no excuse not to join in. I'm intrigued to see what I can make with my part-balls and smallest oddments.
Sourcing second hand yarns - I'll suggest some great places to source second hand yarns,  where one persons discarded yarn is another person's treasure.
Reusing yarns - I haven't tried this myself, but happy to give it a whirl and test it out.
Crafting for Charity - how to use your knitting & crochet skills and stash to help others.
Supporting you local yarn shop - I'm not suggesting that "Thrifty Knitting & Crochet means that you stop buying yarn, so we'll chat about how to buy the correct amount of yarn, rather than too much or too little and buying when you need it, not in case you need it. We'll also look at other activities that many yarn shops offer in addition to selling yarn.
So if you don't want to miss out on my "Thrifty Knitting" series you can subscribe to my blog by entering your email address into the box towards the top of the right-hand column. I'll be sharing some of my simpler patterns for free, so if you subscribe you won't miss out.

I'm looking forward to getting going with my new feature, and will be back very soon with "Keeping on top of your Stash".

Happy knitting and crocheting,
Lynne x

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Book Review - Knitted Animal Cozies by Fiona Goble (CICO Books)

Some time ago (I confess it was a few weeks), CICO sent me a few lovely books to review, one of which is "Knitted Animal Cozies" by designer Fiona Goble. It's been patiently waiting up in The Woolnest for me to put some time aside, have a good look through and tell you all what I think about it.
Please note: The book itself was provided by CICO books. This review contains my own thoughts and words and I haven't been asked to write anything specific.
I do love Fiona Goble's designs, and own a few books of hers already, including "Scarves and Cowls" and "Knitted Animal Scarves, Mitts and Socks" which I reviewed here. I've donated that particular review book to Alison at Woolgathering, Sandbach (which is the knit group I go to) as she fell in love with it too, and has a few grandchildren that she loves to knit for. I've been really chuffed to see the cute little scarves and mittens that she's made. Applying my "use it or lose it" ethos has really paid off, so instead of being stuck upstairs in The Woolnest, the book is being put to great use and enjoyment.
In her latest book "Knitted Animal Cozies", Fiona has transformed our favourite cute creatures into useful woollen cozies, designed to brighten up your home or workspace. They're also great to give as gifts and some are really quirky and fun - destined to bring a smile to even the most serious of faces.
There are 35 woolly cozies to keep your special gadgets safe and warm, including moose and puffin egg cozies, a sleepy fox hot water bottle cover, a charming baby owl tea cozy, and a woolly sheep that wraps herself around a cafetiere to keep your coffee hot. An octopus apple cozy protects your apples and prevents bruising and there's even a baby papoose with a bear cub hat, a panda mug hug and a meerkat e-reader cover to name but a few.

The cozy creatures are divided into four chapters - In the Kitchen, At Home, In Your Bag and On Your Desk, so there really is something for everyone, from old to young. I'm pretty sure they'll warm the heart of the most sceptical of knitting recipients.
Best of all - the patterns are really easy to follow and there is a full techniques section at the back of the book which includes everything you need to know to knit your own cozies.

So get out your needles, raid your stash and get knitting your Christmas gifts - you know you can't resist a bit of fun knitting, and before you know it you'll have knitted a cute and cozy zoo.

Link to Amazon: Knitted Animal Cozies
Thanks for visiting and see you soon.
Happy Making,
Lynne x