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Friday, 15 April 2016

FO: Barley Hat

After being stuck flitting between projects, I finally seem to have regained my knitting mojo a bit and have picked up my half made Barley hat and finished it!

Pattern: Barley by Tin Can Knits

Yarn: Eden Cottage Yarns Langdale Superwash Aran in Charcoal

Needles: 4.5mm & 5.5mm Knitpro circular needles

This pattern is from Tin Can Knits' Simple collection. They have a whole range of simple patterns that are free and which give amazing step by step instructions & tutorials. This was the first pattern I had tried from Tin Can Knits but it won't be the last! In fact I have already purchased the Antler cardigan pattern. I'm going to make a cardigan for my niece and then if it turns out OK and I enjoy the construction then I might make one for me. I used slightly bigger needles that it said on the pattern because on measuring my head I needed the largest size (I must have a big head! lol) but when I started knitting, it did not seem large enough using the needles suggested. Perhaps it was my gauge. I hadn't knit a hat in the round before so this was new for, although when it got to the part where you are supposed to change to dpns I magic looped instead.

The yarn was yummy. It was my first experience using Eden Cottage yarns and it's super soft and squishy. It's 100% merino, and I'm so pleased with how the hat came out, both in terms of the feel, colour, everything! And of course it's lovely to knit with.

Also I have been able to enter this into the EPIC Kal from the Revelations of a Delusional Knitter podcast. This KAL is running all year and you get a point for each of the four categories that your FO fits into. In this case I was able to get 2 points - 1 for Epic Age (because can you believe it I actually started it last year!) and 1 for Epic Pattern (there are a list of patterns on Ravelry that are the most knit and therefore Epic) 

I have started the Antler cardigan I mentioned just now, but I'm also picking up on my WIPs - I'm close to finishing the Mirabel shawl from Angela at Delusional Knitter designs and I want to finish that too. I hope I can keep up the momentum & motivation to finish a few more things!

Friday, 8 April 2016

FO Friday, stash acquisition & trip update

Hello! Happy Friday!

Finally after some time neglecting my knitting, my blog & you (sorry about that) I have finally finished something - yippee! Life outside of knitting has been pretty hectic with a lot going on to occupy both my time & my mind...I'm making some changes and hopefully all will settle down. In reflection of my busy mind my knitting has been hectic & unsettled too. I have loads of projects on the needles and I have been flitting from one new thing to the next getting nothing done. Do you ever get like that?

A couple of weeks ago we went out to visit my hubby's family in Portugal and that gave me the time to stop and reflect. Also with limited baggage space I only took one project so it forced me to focus and focus I did! I took a baby cardigan I have been making for my hubby's boss's new arrival. Well I say new but the baby arrived last November. My hubby only asked me to make something around new year so it's taken a while but I made size 6-9 months so hopefully it will be ok. It's a pattern from King Cole that I've used several times and is called "Girl's 4ply Coat" and I made it in baby 4ply from Tricots Brancal in Portugal. Very pretty but being quite plain I did get a bit bogged down this time. Perhaps it was because it was a bigger baby size but in 4ply, perhaps it was because it was mainly stocking stitch. It looks good though, I'm pleased with it.

Also while in Portugal we made a trip within a trip and visited Serra da Estrela. I was surprised to find it very snowy at the top (not sure why I was surprised!) The region has a lot of industry around the sheep. The regional cheese is made from sheep's milk and in the past there was a great history of wool spinning and fabric making in factories in Covilhã on one side of the mountain. We visited a cheese museum in Peraboa (which makes the same cheese under a different name due to DOP regulations) which described how they make cheese and had tasting (yummy!) We also went to the wool museum in Covilhã. I took loads of photos of the wool museum so I'll save that for another post but on the way between the two museums we happened upon these sheep crossing the road! Very topical!

I was surprised that there wasn't much option to buy local wool there. I had assumed with a history rich in this area that there would be yarn to buy. However, being quite busy where we were staying we took a diversion later I  the week via Coimbra. It wasn't really on the way back but it was a nice day out visiting the university and of course a yarn shop. I had salivate over a particular Portuguese yarn on Instagram and I was able to pick up some for me and some as gifts. It's called é lã portuguesa and the sport weight here is merino from Alentejo but the thicker qualities I believe contain a blend including the sheep from Serra da Estrela. Very exciting.

I got it very reasonably priced from Bolas de Tons. I was quite restrained and only came out with 6 balls! Two for me and two each for my mum and mother-in-law.  I'll be interested to see how it knits up.

That's all for now, I'll be back soon with pictures of my trip to the wool museum and an update on my many WIPs. Definitely going to try to focus on finishing a few off...

Monday, 4 April 2016

An Interview with Gemma from Rockabella Crafts UK

So now it's April already (the year is flying by!) and I have promised you an interview. So here it is. I spoke to Gemma at Rockabella Crafts UK after she opened her etsy store at the end of last year and she agreed to do this interview. She has just relaunched her podcast which you can find here and created a new Ravelry group. Here's what she had to say!

Photo kindly supplied by Gemma at RockabellaCraftsUK
Hello Gemma! It’s great to speak to you. I guess where I want to start is to ask how you got into knitting & crafting?

Hello Gill! Well, it all began with my nan, she was a very talented knitter and I used to sit next to her as she created the most wonderful cardigans and sweaters for the family. She taught me how to knit and hand sew, I spent hours looking through her sewing box at all the beautiful buttons she had. I have always been quite creative but I picked up knitting again about 6 years ago, from there I learnt how to crochet, machine sew and spin, there are so many wonderful crafts to explore, but knitting will always be my got to craft!

What was your first knitted project?

The first 'thing' I knitted was a scarf for my teddy in garter stitch, when I was about 6 years old. When I picked up the needles again a few years ago, the first item I knitted was a simple preemie hat for charity.

Photo kindly supplied by Gemma at RockabellaCraftsUK

What have you currently got on the needles?

Quite a few projects, and not ashamed to admit it! The biggest project I have on the needles right now is my sock yarn blanket. I've been participating in swaps this year, and have met some lovely people as well as beings let's add little squares to the blanket! I've also got some socks and a cardigan on the needles too, I love having different projects the needles.

What is your favourite yarn to use?

That's a tough one, I have a major soft spot for merino and nylon blends but I must say, if I'm doing a late project which calls for a lot of yardage I always choose Stylecraft, even though it's acrylic it is very soft yet hard wearing, and most importantly, affordable. My favourite fibre right now is Vegan Faux Cashmere by Spin City UK, the only way I can describe how it feels is by saying it feels like clouds. It truly is the softest thing I have ever laid my hands on, I absolutely adore it!

I really enjoy watching the podcast – what made you start podcasting?

Thank you! I love podcasts, the whole knitting and crafting community is such a wonderful one to be involved in, people are so helpful and kind. I find it quite therapeutic chatting about crafting and knitting in my podcasts, it's a good way to get all your thoughts. Although I don't podcast regularly, I really enjoy it and have met some incredibly talented people along the way.

Photo kindly supplied by Gemma at RockabellaCraftsUK
So, you’ve just opened your etsy shop and I’ve already made a project bag purchase (thanks for the enabling!) – can you tell me what other treats you have on offer?

I'm glad you liked it! I have lots of stitch markers and progress keepers available, I love having different charms for each project, it just adds a little bit of extra fun to it. They have been very popular and I always include them in my swaps too. Also available are some notions pouches and needle felted brooches.

Photo kindly supplied by Gemma at RockabellaCraftsUK
Do you have any other exciting crafty plans for the future?

Absolutely! There is always something I want to try! My husband bought me a spinning wheel for my birthday, so I have been doing lots of spinning lately, I started with a drop spindle but felt the need for a wheel, it's so relaxing. I also want to start dyeing my own fibre and yarn. I attended a hand dyeing workshop at the Bristol Wool Fair this year and it was so much fun, so would love to do more and even get some into my Etsy shop too to share. I go to a craft group every week and we get to try new crafts and techniques if we wish to, as well as drink tea and have a giggle, so I'm always trying new things.

Thanks Gemma, it was great speaking to you!

So go and check out Gemma's shop - I have bought a lovely project bag from her but she has a large range of stitch markers, some jewellery & even some hand dyed yarn.

I'll be back soon with a WIP update and an FO...finally!

Happy knitting!