It’s new hobby time again!

Alternative title: I love stabbing things.

A while ago one of my choir friends gifted me some needle felting goodies so I could give it a try. For some reason I built it up in my mind so much that I couldn’t even try in case I got it ‘wrong’, so the whole bag just sat in my crafty drawer unused. But I still really wanted to try needle felting, so when I saw that I Sew 2 was hosting a workshop I signed up straight away.

The workshop was taught by Lynn McGill of Lin Pin (go check out her page) and five of us showed up despite Storm Gareth raging outside. The others had all been before, but they were so friendly and welcoming and I didn’t feel like the odd one out at all.

Most of us decided to make Easter bunnies so Lin gave a quick tutorial on how to make one. The way she explained it is quite like amigurumi; it’s much easier if you break down what you want to make into simple shapes. A sphere for the head, an egg for the body, cylinders for the front legs and so on. She also showed us different ways to roll and fold the wool, and how to neaten up the edges.

Then it was our turn. I briefly considered making a psychedelic rabbit because 1. I loves colour and 2. Look at all the beautiful options!

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But just this once I decided to be sensible and stick with one colour. I chose this hank of grey because of the flecks of light and dark, just like you’d get in a real rabbit’s fur.

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At first I was a bit too gentle, scared of breaking the needle or stabbing myself or that dreaded getting it ‘wrong’, but Lin gave me some pointers and a big scoop of encouragement and I went for it.

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Funny thing is, I did break a needle.

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And I did stab myself. Several times.

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But it wasn’t the end of the world, and after 2.5 hours I had created something that I’m so proud of.

I made that!!

At the end of the workshop I was chatting with Lin and I mentioned that it might be nice to add some flowers to the grass base, at which point she started loading me up with various colours to take away with me! If this is what all I Sew 2 workshops are like then I will most definitely be going back for more.

So now I know that needle felting is really very easy and I can actually do it, I’m going to dig out that bag of bits my friend gave me and get some pretties made. Watch this space!

Hannah

xXx

New stitches: knitted cables

 

I have noticed an issue with a lot of cable tutorial videos. They’ll tell you how to read charts or instructions for those 4, 6, 8 etc stitches. They show you how to cable left or right, placing the 2, 3, 4 stitches to the front or back. They can even show you how to do fancy stag head or owl cables, as many stitches as the cables need. And that’s it.

My first attempt looked a right mess because I did the cabling on every single row, when not one of those videos explained knitting straight rows in between.  My ‘cables’ also looked camouflaged, because none of them mentioned that cables stand out better against purl stitches. These seem like vital parts of cabling to me, so I don’t understand why they’re not included in cable tutorials!

Luckily, I found this video here, which explains it fully (if a bit waffle-y) and I saw where I’d been going wrong.  I also used this one to see how I could do it without a cable needle. Which is of course the method I use, as I’m too stingy to pay for a cable needle, and too lazy to dig out a thinner knitting needle when it can work perfectly well without.

At first I tried using some red yarn that was just sitting beside me on the sofa, forgetting that red is a terribly difficult colour to photograph!

So I just had to try again with a better colour

After figuring out the issues, I can’t believe how simple cabling is! I’ve always thought of them as a super advanced skill that I can only dream of one day mastering, and now I’m messing around making up my own (very simple) pattern with them.

So if anyone else is a bit scared of cables my advice is to just give it a go using a good tutorial. There’s nothing to lose, and an awesome new skill to gain!

Hannah

xXx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New stitches: Tunisian crochet in the round

I finally learned why Tunisian hooks are double ended! You can get that wonderful texture Tunisian crochet is known for, in the round.

Here’s my mini tutorial, with photos because I really struggled with the tutorial in a magazine which was written instructions only.

Start off chaining as many as you need and join with a slip stitch, as usual when crocheting in the round.

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Pull up a few loops, but make sure not to load too many onto the hook

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When you’ve pulled up some loops, slide the piece down to the opposite end of the hook

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Then flip it horizontally so you’re ready to work with the hook by the stitches

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This is for my jumper so I’m using a different coloured yarn on the return, but obviously you can use the same colour if you like.

Attach a new skein/ball at this end and start a return pass, making sure to only pull the working yarn through one loop for the first stitch and then two for all subsequent stitches

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When you finish the return pass and have one loop left on the hook, slide it to the far end again.

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Turn the hook, pick up the first working yarn (pink in this case) and start the process again.

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And then repeat until the piece is long enough!

If you need to keep track of rounds like I do for my jumper, you’ll need to place a marker in the first stitch and move it up as you go

It took me a while to get the tenson consistent all the way around, but like most things it just takes practice. I found it helps to hold the non-active yarn in my right hand rather than just leaving it hanging.

So there you have it. Has anyone else tried Tunisian in the round? Got any more tips to share? Let me know in the comments!

Hannah

xXx

Tangle of the week: Ciceron

This time we’re looking at a slightly more complicated tangle, Ciceron. Tutorial here – it’s the second one down.

Ilana and Ciceron

I say complicated, it’s still just simple pen strokes repeated, but I know from my own experience that the layout can take a bit of thought.

For the fun, interlocking look, you need to make sure you start with an offset grid of circles like this:

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I get myself in less of a muddle if I draw all the lines in one direction first

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Then turn the paper 90 degrees and draw the lines in the other direction

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And finally the curves to fill up the spaces

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Here’s a quick scribble of how it looks if you don’t start with an offset grid, which is still pretty, but less interesting I feel.

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What do you think of Ciceron? Do you prefer the interlocking version or the straight one? Let me know in the comments!

Hannah

xXx

 

 

New stitches: Tunisian Purl Stitch

I learned quite a few Tunisian stitches last weekend, but I’m going to share this one first because it solves the curling problem!

I give you the Tunisian Purl Stitch! *cue Hallelujah Chorus*

It’s basically the same as doing the simple stitch, but you start off with the yarn in front of the hook rather than behind it.

The only awkward part I’ve found is that my first attempts were super tight so when I came to use them on the next round I couldn’t get the hook through. One solution (shown in this here video) is to hold on to the yarn with your thumb while you yarn over, which keeps it from pulling up tight.

(Side note: I never knew people said TOO-NEE-SHUN. I always say TYOO-NIZ-EE-UN.)

The magic is that just one row of this purl stitch at the start of my work stopped the curling entirely!

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See, this is the start of my sleeve. You can see the bumps on the front, that’s the purl row, and the rest of the cuff is simple stitch, and it’s not curling at all.

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I’m assuming (but haven’t actually tested) that a piece made entirely of purl stitch would curl the other way, and it’s the balance between the two directions that keeps it straight. But making something entirely out of purl stitch seems silly to me when simple stitch is less fiddly, so I’m going to purl one or two rows at the start of my Tunisian pieces and then carry on as normal with other stitches.

I’m so excited about fixing the curling problem! Is that weird? Is anyone else as happy about it? Please let me know in the comments!

Hannah

xXx

New stitches: Tunisian knit stitch, and…?

Tunisian is so much fun, I decided to learn another stitch this week. Quite a few people mentioned the knit stitch after my last post, and I love the regularity of knit stitches, so I decided to give it a go.

Turns out it’s not as easy as the simple stitch (shocking, right?), and at first I made a whole swatch using…I don’t actually know if it’s a real thing.

For the knit stitch you’re supposed to pass the hook through the loop of the previous round, right here:

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I totally misunderstood the tutorial (it wasn’t great) and went through the space at the side of the loop, like so:

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Which meant that I had to increase one stitch every single row or skip one at the start, which gave me a very wonky-edged swatch. It did look pretty though.

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But considering I’ve never seen knitting like that in my life I figured I must have got it wrong. I frogged it, found a better tutorial, and had another go.

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Much better! That’s the column layout I’ve come to know and love, so I’m now officially adding the Tunisian knit stitch to my repertoire.

Does anyone know if my first attempt was a different stitch or did I just make a mess? What do you think of the actual knit stitch? Let me know in the comments!

Hannah

xXx

New stitches: Tunisian crochet simple stitch

Months ago I got a magazine with a free Tunisian crochet hook. I tried it with some cheap, nasty, splitty yarn so of course I struggled, and I put it down for ages.

Then this weekend just gone, a suggested video popped up to learn the Tunisian simple stitch. As you may have guessed, I clicked on it!

This stitch is so easy, I picked it up straight away (so it definitely was the yarn’s fault last time) and whacked out this swatch.

My first ever swatch. So proud. I really love the texture of it, but also I suuuuuper hope that blocking sorts out the curl. This thing is convinced it’s meant to be a sausage roll.

I’m assuming there are other, more complicated stitches that require a double-ended hook, but this just uses one end like regular crochet. I’ll be looking up more stitches soon enough!

I’ve fallen completely in love with this, so keep an eye out for some Tunisian WIPs in the future.

Has anyone else tried Tunisian? Did you love it or hate it? Let me know in the comments!

Hannah

xXx

Tangle of the week: Puf

I have just discovered Puf and I have to share. It’s magic!

Look, you start with squares and add in some stars

And some spirals

Now comes the magic part, draw crosses through each square and…

suddenly it’s puffy flowers!! How brilliant is that?

This Tangle really reminded me of the magic of Zentangle; you just make simple pen strokes, over and over, and somehow it transforms into these magical things you didn’t even realise you were drawing.

I am keeping this one in my repertoire, for sure.

So what do you think of Puf? Do you think it’s clever or am I just easily pleased? Let me know in comments!

Hannah

xXx

Tangle of the week: Cadent

We’re looking at another of my very early Tangles today, one of the first five I learned (the exact order gets a bit hazy after the first two).

You can find a step out for Cadent, using squares in the starting grid, here.

I prefer to start my Cadent with circles, but the premise is exactly the same.

With better shading than I can manage, it can look pretty trippy, like an Escher painting where you can’t tell what the top layer is or which way is up.

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I’m still working on my shading. Maybe one day I’ll be good enough to bend people’s minds 😉

So what do you think of Cadent? Do you prefer circles or squares to start? Let me know in the comments!

Hannah

xXx

Tangle of the week – Sea Wave

 

Today we’re having a look at super simple, but effective, Sea Wave. You can check out the official step by step info here.

You can see why it’s called Sea Wave,  but I see this Tangle as lots of different things as well. I’ve used it for mermaid hair and a unicorn’s tail in some of my ZIA drawings.

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This is not that tail; just an example

 

The image in the step-out makes me think of a line of muscles, all bunched up ready for action.  It could be a visual representation of the wind, or music, or a heartbeat.

Basically it’s a really pretty, versatile Tangle!

So what do you think of Sea Wave? Do you see anything else in the pattern? Let me know in the comments!

Hannah

xXx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tangle of the week: Keeko

I’ve got a deceptive tangle this week, tutorial here.

Keeko

Looks easy peasy, doesn’t it? Maybe for seasoned tanglers it is, but dear me did I struggle!

First row, not too bad. Although I couldn’t seem to get them in a straight line.

Second row…

Not so much.

It’s definitely a case of practice makes perfect, as my second attempt was better:

Still not brilliant, but I can see the improvement.

So that’s Keeko! What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

Hannah

xXx

My first giveaway

I recently reached 800 followers on Instagram. Can you believe 800 people (over 1,000 now!!) like my crochet and doodles enough to follow me? I really can’t. To say thank you, I decided to have a giveaway for my Insta friends.

It was the first giveaway I’ve ever hosted so it was a little bit stressful at times, but I learned a lot and I’m definitely planning to have more in the future.

When the idea popped into my head, the first thing I thought of was the prize. It would be yarn, obviously, but what kind? What colour? How much of it? I initially thought Caron Cakes, but then that seemed a bit generic and we don’t even have all the fancy new ones that have been released recently.

Instead I decided to follow my tenet of supporting local businesses, and went to The Yarn Cake in Glasgow West End.

*1st learning point: plan, at least a little bit, and set a budget!

I wandered into The Yarn Cake with no real idea what I wanted or what it might cost. My only criteria was ‘something special’. Luckily, my radar for ‘special’ seems to be quite finely tuned, and I was in there less than 5 minutes before I spotted Joie De Vivre by Abstract Cat Yarns. It. Is. GORGEOUS!

But it also costs £18.95 per skein, which I didn’t find out until I was already at the till. I didn’t have a specific budget, but the strangled sound in my head when I heard the price tells me that any budget I made would have been lower than £18.95.

*2nd learning point: I really need to invest in a half-decent camera.

You may think this looks like beautiful yarn, but compared to real life this is nothing. There are dark blues in there so rich they almost look purple, there are lighter blues that perfectly complement the streaks of silver thread that you can’t see at all.

I can honestly say I’ve never photographed one thing so many times, in so many ways, in so many different places, and it still doesn’t look right.

In the end I just had to go with it, and hope that the winner would be pleasantly surprised when they saw how much better it was in real life. But I definitely need to start saving up for a better camera.

Next up I decided how exactly people could enter. It’s quite popular on giveaway posts I’ve seen to have an entry for every time you tag someone in the comments, which always seemed a little unfair to me; what if you have a million friends but only one of them is okay with being tagged in these things? You sometimes have to repost the image, but not everyone wants your picture on their account.

But I did want people to interact with the post, so I went for all the usual methods and made them optional. The only MUST was that they must be following me; it was a reward for my followers after all.

So I launched my giveaway HOORAY!

And then nothing happened. For several hours.

I was really starting to worry that nobody would even enter!

Of course I’m just impatient. That evening I got my first few entries, then there was a steady trickle all the way until the final day, and I ended up with 112 entrants – much more than I expected!

3rd learning point: I would need to look into some proper giveaway apps/sites

I entered every single entry from every single person into an Excel sheet and assigned a number. That’s over 250 lines of information. I have far better things to do with my time, and (much as I enjoy using Excel’s formula to generate a random number) there are so many less-faffy ways of doing it.

It was really very exciting when the number popped up and I had a scroll to see who had won, and even more exciting to realise it was Beth from Kick Arse Crochet!

Obviously I would have been pleased for whoever won, but knowing who it would be going to, and hopefully being able to see the resulting make on her blog, was just the cherry on top.

4th learning point: check for bank holidays when you plan your giveaway

I remembered only after the giveaway had closed that this weekend just gone was a bank holiday weekend. The Post Office in town was open on Friday, but I don’t know if the sorting office was running, and everything was closed yesterday. So it’s entirely possible Beth might have had to wait until today for her prize to arrive. Sorry about that!

So now I know what works and what doesn’t, my next giveaway should be even better than this one 🙂

Has anyone else ever done a giveaway? Got any tips for things I might have missed? Let me know in the comments!

Hannah

xXx