Heatwave burnin’ in my heart!

No, I’ve not gone mad.

I’m not in love.

I’m just inspired, motivated and feel like last night’s storm really blew away the cobwebs as well as my fence!

The fence has been repaired, so I thought I’d celebrate by getting another pattern online!

Presenting….

THE HEATWAVE COWL

Heatwave Cowl

 

It’s available for free on Ravelry (pop it in your basket then add the code ‘Heatwave‘) or Craftsy (pattern will be set to paid on Friday April 8th) from
today until
midnight on April 8 2016  so grab it while you can.

GIVEAWAY!

Wow guys, over 150 downloads in ONE HOUR! You lot are pretty amazing.

SO, how about a little Thank You from Me to You?

It seems you adore the colour – one face booker reviewed it by saying

‘Oh my goodness, you can feel the warmth
coming from the cowl,
what a stunning colour, thank you’

So, I have one gorgeous ball of Schoppel Zauberball in Burnt Almond for one lucky, lucky crocheter.

FullSizeRender

Simply comment below (how about what designs or tutorials you’d like to see here, or what your favourite design already is) and a random number generator will pick a winner at 8pm on Friday April 8th 2016!

Good luck x

With love,

Charity begins at home…will you play your part?

LEVAMENTUM-3

 

I’ve really had my eyes opened by all the recent press on the refugee crisis – I felt ashamed by my ignorance, not just of the situation but of the political background to it. I’ve been on an extensive learning curve, to say the least!

I wondered what I could do, aside from simply donating money.

I thought long and hard, then I found this wonderful charity:

knitforpeace

These amazing guys are an initiative of the Charities Advisory Trust, which has been in action since 1979.
They distribute knit and crochet goods directly to where they are needed (rather than selling them for usually far less than they are ‘worth’) to over 80 centres, helping
hospitals,
women refuges,
prisons, refugees
&
developing countries.

Take a peek at the great work they do. 

I wanted to help.

I wanted to give a little of myself.

I had a blanket design that I had been pondering over for a while, and it seemed fitting to ‘gift’ it to them. I know, they are called Knit for Peace, but they do accept crocheted items too – they just didn’t have any free patterns on their website, so I created one just for them!

INTRODUCING…

LEVAMENTUM!

Levamentum is Latin for relief, comfort and solace – and also means unbending. It was the perfect name.
The blanket will provide comfort and solace to those who need help, and sometimes those who provide help need to be unbending in the face of opposition or political pressure.
It’s quick to work up – consisting of trebles worked in the back loop only on each row, which creates a ridged and reversible texture.
You can use your stash and any weight – full instructions are given – so it’s a perfect charity crochet.

Of course, you can also make one to keep – they are rather addictive to work up!

Click here to download

Please let me know if you are making a Levamentum Blanket – I’d love to hear from you, either in the comments or via the contact me page!

For those of you on Ravelry, if you could post a project too it would be awesome – if more people can see it, more people can make it and more people will benefit.

Click here for the Ravelry library page.

Share the love!

With love,

 

 

 

Marlborough College Crochet Roundup

Hello again! I’m back from a wonderful couple of weeks teaching at the Marlborough College Summer School – exhausting, but great fun!

Week one was

Beginners Crochet

The ladies were complete beginners, but picked it up so quickly – I was very impressed! We started with a basic chain, then moved on to double crochet (making phone covers), working up to trebles where we made bunting, flower pot covers and a bag. The course gave all students the skills needed to be able to read patterns so that they can crochet at home with confidence.

They produced a lot of finished pieces!

I was amazed at the distance some of the ladies had travelled to take the course – I had ladies from Greece, Hong Kong and France! They all enjoyed themselves and presented me with a card and voucher for a local yarn shop on the final day.

They were truly a joy to teach.

Week Two was

Tunisian Crochet

Most of the ladies on this course were completely new to crochet, but were keen knitters. This meant ‘retraining’ them to hold the yarn and hook in a different way. Not an easy thing to grasp when the hook you are holding feels just like a knitting needle! They picked it up very quickly, and we were soon moving from Tunisian Simple Stitch (TSS) to colour work, wrapping the yarn and working with floats. A couple of Intrepid Beginners were eager to work different stitches, so we also covered Tunisian Knit Stitch, Tunisian Purl and Entrelac.

So much work was created in the week that I almost ran out of blocking boards for the Exhibition at the end of the course!

It was fantastic to see the experimentation and imagination of the students take flight. Again, the students enjoyed the course – I was presented with a lovely card and a box of choccies. With all the amazing food at the College though it will be a while before I can enjoy them!

I was delighted to meet one of the Week One students (a big shout out to Dorothy!) at the end of Week Two – she had continued to crochet and was well underway with a blanket she was making, having found a pattern on line and had the confidence and ability to follow it.

I was so proud!

I love to see the lightbulb moment with students.
I love to watch them fall in love with the craft.
I love to see them go from struggling with the initial chain to working stitches with ease. 

I love to teach.

I really hope I can offer more courses at Marlborough next year. It is an amazing venue to teach at. The atmosphere is amazing, the hospitality is second to none. The food (ohmythefood!) and entertainment are fantastic. 

And I’d love to see you there too. 

With love,

 

p.s. I’ve had some lovely feedback from the students and thought I’d share it with you!

“Very well taught – kept my imagination going and
the troubleshooting from Zoe was fab!”

“Excellent value – tutor worked very hard and
was very encouraging”

“Tutor excellent”

Order your brochure for 2016 courses here.

Unravelled by a game – meet Yarnie!

Yarnie unravel quote

“Yarn represents love and the bonds that we make.
It unravels because that’s what happens when we are separated from what we love.”

I’ve been obsessed this weekend.

By a computer game character, in a game that hasn’t hit the shelves yet.
I’m not a gamer, but I might just become one for this little guy….

Do watch all the video – even if you are not into games, because the Creative Director (Martin Sahlin) is the sweetest guy – very nervous, very humble, very passionate and describes the game beautifully.
The artwork is amazing and I get the impression it will be a huge hit with gamers and yarn-lovers alike!

So, how did I, as a non-gamer, stumble upon this character?

I have no idea. 

I was lost on the inter webs, turned a corner and there he was.

I immediately tweeted the game designer to ask if I could crochet him a Yarnie character

and he said…..

Yes Please! 

So, I grabbed:

my hook,

my yarn,

a weekend*

and set to work.

Crocheting has been crocheted, stuffing has been stuffed, weaving has been woven and he’s all ready for his close-up.

Drumroll please

presenting

YARNIE

Yarnie in Unravel220615_26

Here’s my little guy – all ready for a journey to Sweden to meet Mr Sahlin and his amazing team!

Yarnie in Unravel220615_01

“You are the thread that runs through someone’s life, trying to tie all the missing pieces back together”

The sentiment of the game is so beautiful, just like the character Yarnie.
I hope I can get permission to release the pattern to you all. He is such fun to make!

I wish Mr Sahlin, Yarnie and the team at Coldwood all the success they deserve.

With love,

*with thanks to my family for not thinking I was loopy for making a doll for a game designer I’ve never even met before when there was very rare, glorious sunshine in the UK!
QUOTES BY MARTIN SAHLIN

Which crochet design? You choose!

Help wanted_1

 Photo credit: Thewmatt / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

I have had a rush of creativity and can’t decide what design to work on next.

I need your help!

Vote below for the design you would like to see.

I hope the titles give you enough information – I can’t go into too much detail or it will spoil the surprise!

The winning answer will be worked up and the pattern will be posted here

FOR FREE!

With love,

– voting closes at midnight on Friday 26th June 2015 –

 

When life hands you lemons….crochet lemon coasters!

When Life hands you lemons.....

“Life handed him a lemon,
As Life sometimes will do.
His friends looked on in pity,
Assuming he was through.
They came upon him later,
Reclining in the shade
In calm contentment, drinking
A glass of lemonade.”

Life has handed me a lot today so I thought to myself…

What am I going to do with all these lemons?

Why, use them for inspiration, make a lovely coaster for a cool drink and share the pattern with you!

 No tutorial this time, as the light is fading (so is the cool drink!) but if anyone has any questions, I’d be happy to help.

Here goes….grab yourself

20 minutes, some scraps of yellow & green 4ply yarn,

Make Lemons180615_01

a 2.75mm hook and
a tapestry needle. 

Set up

Make a magic loop, sl st to secure, ch3 (counts as 1tr now and throughout), work 9tr in ring, sl st to 3rd ch of t-ch to join. Pull tail to tighten. (10 sts)

If you are unfamiliar with the magic loop technique, Craftsy have a great tutorial here.

Rnd 1

Ch3, work 1tr in base of ch, 2tr in each st around, sl st to 3rd ch of t-ch to join. (20 sts)

Rnd 2

Ch3, work 2tr in next st, *1tr, 2tr in next st; rep from * around, sl st to 3rd ch of t-ch to join. (30 sts)

Rnd 3

Ch3, 1tr, work 2tr in next st, *2tr, 2tr in next st; rep from * around, sl st to 3rd ch of t-ch to join. (40 sts)

Rnd 4

Ch3, 2tr, work 2tr in next st, *3tr, 2tr in next st; rep from * around, sl st to 3rd ch of t-ch to join. (50 sts)

Rnd 5

Ch3, 3tr, work 2tr in next st, *4tr, 2tr in next st; rep from * around, sl st to 3rd ch of t-ch to join. (60 sts)

Rnd 6

1ch, 19dc, *2htr, 2tr, 1dtr, 3dtr in next st, 1dtr, 2tr, 2htr, 19dc*, rep from * to *, sl st to first dc to join.

Fasten off.

Make Lemons180615_09

Leaf

Using the green yarn and 2.75mm hook, chain 11 sts.

Row 1

Work 1dc in second ch from hook and in each ch across.

Row 2

Turn, work 2dc, 1htr, 1tr, 2dtr in each of next 2 sts, 1tr, 1htr, 2dc.

Row 3

With the front of the leaf still facing you, turn it 180 degrees and rep Row 2, working into the bottom of the chain (the underside of the dc previously worked).

Stalk

Sl st into the top of the leaf, ch6, turn and (starting in the second ch from the hook) work 1dc into each ch back down towards the leaf.

The reason for adding the stalk at the end is so that it doesn’t twist whilst working the leaf.

Fasten off.

Weave in all ends, sew the leaf into desired position.

Make Lemons180615_12

Block and enjoy.

What do you like to make when life hands you lemons?

With love,

Don’t forget to follow if you want more fab free patterns delivered direct to your inbox.

Poem: ‘The Optimist’ by Flynn, Clarence Edwin (November 1940)

 

5 fantastic ways to prevent RSI for knitters and crocheters

As knitters and crocheters, we make a lot of repetitive movements.

Lots and lots.

Imagine you are working on a shawl, 43 in wide with a 23 in drop, and tension at 19 sts x 34 rows to 4in, we could easily be looking at a grand total of …

21,255 stitches!

HOW MANY STITCHES!!!!!

HOW MANY STITCHES!!!!!

Photo credit: Instant Vantage / Foter / CC BY-SA

Wowser.

That’s over 40,000 movements – the needle going into the stitch, the yarn going over (whether throwing or continental styles) and the needle picking up the yarn and out.

Each one of those movements results in a muscle or a tendon making tiny little movements and the poor things can wear out through use. Trust me, with tennis elbow in both arms, carpal tunnel and tendons that I can hear and feel snap, I know exactly how painful and life impacting that can be.
There is good news though:

You can help prevent injury. 

There are steps you can take to make your body work with you, to ease any aches or pains you may have and to help you keep knitting or crocheting for a very, very long time*. I wish I knew of these before I developed problems which are now lifelong and can only be managed, not cured.
So please, take time out to take care of yourselves.

It’s really very, very simple…

All you need is a can, your hands and a couple of minutes a day.

Exercise 1
Wrist Turn

Hold the can in your hand, with your palm facing up.

RSI avoidance for crafters170615_01

Turn your wrist so your palm is facing down, ensuring you gently grip the can – don’t squeeze too tight!

RSI avoidance for crafters170615_02

Turn your wrist back to the original position.
Repeat the turn 10 times with each hand.

Exercise 2
Wrist Lift

Hold the can in your hand, with your palm facing up.

RSI avoidance for crafters170615_03

Lift your hand, keeping your palm towards you.

RSI avoidance for crafters170615_04

Hold for up to 5 seconds, then relax.

Repeat the wrist lift 10 times with each hand.

Exercise 3
Reverse wrist  lift

Pick up the can with your palm facing downwards.

RSI avoidance for crafters170615_08

Lower the can so your palm faces your body.

RSI avoidance for crafters170615_07

Lift back into starting position.

Repeat 10 times with each hand.

Exercise 4
Wrist flex

I really enjoy this one! Flex your hand 90 degrees, so your fingertips are pointing upwards. Flex the fingers back (gently, please!) with your other hand.

RSI avoidance for crafters170615_06

Feels fab doesn’t it! Hold it for between 15-30 second then release.

Exercise 5
Reverse wrist flex

Flex your hand 90 degrees so your fingertips are facing the floor. Flex the fingers back (again, gently!) with your other hand.

RSI avoidance for crafters170615_05

Hold it for 15-30 seconds then release.
I love doing both flexes with my arm fully extended, so I get a slight bicep and elbow stretch too.

It feels soooo good!

They are so quick and easy to do – keep a can on your desk, by the phone, by the sofa – even in your handbag (or man-bag for all our male crafters!) so you can work out wherever you are.

Don’t forget to let your crafting friends know about these exercises too! 

With love,

* If you already have issues, you can do exercises too, but
pleasepleaseplease
seek advice from your GP or Physio first.

I’d love to hear your hints and tips for pain-free knitting and crochet,
so why not share them in the comments?

 

 

Rotherwick Scarf – a free knitting pattern x

ROTHERWICKSCARFA free pattern from

I leapt out of bed this morning, thinking it was 9.45am. This was very, very bad. I had an urgent appointment somewhere ridiculously important at 10am and it was a two hour drive away. There was no way I was going to make it and boy, was I going to be in trouble!

I ran downstairs and into the garden, carrying Mr Tinklepants, then thought – hold on, that’s not 9.45am daylight. Thats 6.15am daylight!

Whoop-whoop!

So, here I am, dressed, breakfasted (a French Hom-ellete, with thanks to Julia Child) and with time to spare. Mmm, what’s a girl to do? I know.

Show everyone the knitted Scarf she designed for Artesano,
it’s available for free on their website!

Yes, that’s right – absolutely free. Although I must warn you, when this post was written they had 20% off Aran yarns and I can’t be held responsible for any purchases!

You can find the pattern here. 

So, pick up your sticks and get knitting – it’s never to early to start on (ahem) holiday gifts!

Sorry about that.

With love,

 

Easy crochet flower bouquet – free pattern!

FREE CROCHET PATTERN for little flowers below.

 WARNING: they may be addictive!

I’m looking after a gorgeous little chihuahua for a friend this weekend –  the delightful Mr Tinklepants! He is a massive character stuck in a little dog’s body. He is always wanting to play, enjoys snuggles and getting tangled up in yarn! Trying to work on a large crochet project with his ‘help’ was proving tricky, so I had to think outside the box for something smaller to do – I am so pleased I did! I’ve had great fun working up this little

Reed Diffuser Bouquet of Crocheted Flowers

and I thought I’d share it with you.

CROCHET BOUQUET in just 10 EASY STEPS!

I used Aran yarn and a 5mm crochet hook.

Other tools you may need are a tapestry needle, some reed diffuser sticks (or kebab sticks) plus a small vase and some superglue.

Step 1

Using the 5mm hook, make a slip stitch and work 27 chains.

Reed Diffuser Bouquet_CROCHET130615_04_1
Step 2

Work a treble into the 5th chain from the hook. This counts as 1tr, 1ch, 1tr – first V stitch made.

Step 3

Miss 1 chain, work (1tr, 1ch, 1tr) in next chain. One ‘V’ worked.

Step 4

Repeat Step 3, working treble ‘V’s in every other chain across, ending with a V in the final chain. Your fabric will naturally curl.

Step 5

Turn, and work 6 trebles into the chain space of the first ‘V’ to create the first ‘petal’. No turning chain is needed.

Step 6

Fix the first ‘petal’ in place by working a slip stitch into the gap (not a chain space) before the next V stitch.

Step 7

Work 6 tr into the next V stitch, followed by a sl st into the gap, across the row. Finish the last petal by working a sl st into the same chain space as the last 6 tr. This gives the last petal a lovely shape too.

Reed Diffuser Bouquet_CROCHET130615_16_1

Fasten off.

Your fabric should now look something like this – see how it’s all nice and curly? It’s desperately trying to become the flower!

Reed Diffuser Bouquet_CROCHET130615_17_1

Step 8

 All you need to do it coax it a little more into shape, then sew it in place (and weave in ends at the same time) with the tapestry needle.

Reed Diffuser Bouquet_CROCHET130615_19_1

Step 9

Take the Reed Diffuser sticks (or wooden kebab skewers) and dab the ends with a little glue. Attach them to the back of the flowers and set aside to dry.

Reed Diffuser Bouquet_CROCHET140615_20

Step 10

Arrange nicely in the diffuser or vase, step back and admire!

Reed Diffuser Bouquet_CROCHET140615_24

 

These simple crochet flowers are ideal for so many projects – brooches, hair accessories, make them in sock yarn and fix to ice-cream sticks to use as bookmarks, sew lots together for a really fun scarf.

What would you do with these oh-so-cute and easy to crochet flowers?

Leave me a comment or share your projects!

 

With love,

Absences, apologies & absent friends

Hello my lovelies.

This is difficult to write…so….deep breath…here goes….

I’m here to explain my absence – it’s been a long, long time since my last post. Lots has happened and I have to admit, I’ve been hiding. Hiding from the internets, hiding at work, hiding from work, hiding from friends (you know who you are and I am really very sorry), hiding from family, hiding behind smiley masks, but mainly hiding under duvets. 

As some of you may know (my tweets might have given it away!) I was devoted to my gorgeous wee fella, Mr Stinky – aka Bilko. He found his home in my heart and made my life whole.

2013-01-19 11.43.20-2

He was diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder last year and the end was so sudden that the shock left me reeling. The vets were just awful and while Mr Stinky lost his battle, the war with them is still ongoing.

 It was so painful I never thought I would recover. There are days when I still don’t think I have, but at least I can function again. Every time I think of him my heart breaks and my eyes fill up with uncontrollable tears. I have to remind myself that the amount I hurt from missing him is equivalent to how much I loved him and how much he loved me.

I loved him a lot.

I didn’t notice that I was lonely until he came into my life and showed me the power of truly unconditional love.

Since he has been gone it has been almost unbearable.

I say almost, because I am still here. I am bearing it. I don’t know how, but I am.

I say goodnight to him every day before I go to sleep.

I say good morning to him every day when I wake up.

Walks seem pointless without my best friend.

I never noticed that before – until he showed me how amazing a walk should be.

2013-02-17 14.51.50

Oh dear. I thought I had the strength to write this to explain my disappearing act (and my sudden re-appearance!) but as I type my eyes are leaking again. They leak a lot these days.

I will love him, miss him and remember him every day of my life.

My beautiful Bilko

But, Life goes on. So, I decided to give myself a good talking to. From somewhere I found the strength to pick myself up. I have given myself all the comfort I can cope with – it’s time for some Tough Love and it’s time I got back into the real world, so this is me.

I’m back, I’m still a little broken, but I’m here.

Here and getting back to teaching, writing, designing, reviewing and getting back to my old crafty self.

Thank you for waiting.

I missed you x