by Sarah A

First Ravellenics Project

February 15, 2014 in Projects, Ravelry by Sarah A

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Last friday saw the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. I’m a big fan of the winter olympics and always get caught up in the excitement of the events and wish I could be there cheering on Team GB.  This years olympics has many serious human rights issues that deserve just as much attention as the event itself and I have joined in with Ravellenics (a Ravelry event that takes place at the same time as the olympics) in support of those who are affected by these issues. The LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community in Russia are currently subject to terrifying levels of persecution, discrimination and abuse. It needs to stop. Now.

My first Ravellenics project is Slalom Slipstream socks. This pattern has intrigued me for a while and been sitting in my queue, just waiting for a time where I can knit for myself.

The pattern is Slipstream by Stephanie McIntosh. It features slip stitch cables and mock cables that wind around the ankle and foot in a very pleasing way.

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I cast these on at the start of the opening ceremony and I finished them on friday evening – so just over a week which is probably a record for me. I rarely get so much tv time to just sit and knit and I have enjoyed being able to concentrate on just one project for me.

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I’m so pleased with how they have turned out. I had a couple of issues with the charts (partly because I was not observant enough to notice that the charts are listed in the opposite order to the pattern instructions) and because there are a few mistakes, but overall these are great socks and look fabulous.

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The yarn is Bouncy Extra by Laal Bear in colourway Virginia Stocks. I chose it for its rainbow colours (as support for LGBT issues) and because this pattern just lends itself to multicoloured yarn. The slip stitch cables show off the colours really well. It has been in my stash for a while and I’m pleased I found such a good project for it.

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My ravelry project page can be found here: Slalom Slipstream.

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My next project, cast on already is going to be a super chunky sweater so hopefully I can get it done, I have just over a week to complete it. It’s a good excuse to stay in out of the terrible weather we are having at the moment, watch the olympics and knit!

by Sarah A

Helmet Head in Bespoke

February 7, 2014 in Helmet Head, patterns, Yarn Shop by Sarah A

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This week I received my copy of Bespoke – a beautiful book of knitting and crochet patterns inspired by all things bicycle.

What I am the most excited about though is seeing my first book published pattern – Helmet Head!

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This is a simple slouchy beanie that is crocheted from 3 different colours of DK weight yarn to produce a kaleidoscope of colours. It is easy enough for beginner crocheters to tackle and looks great with a variety of hairstyles.

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This hat was born the problem I always seem to have after I have been cycling – bike helmet hair! I wear a helmet as I have seen so many cyclist lives saved by wearing one when I worked in A&E. They really do prevent broken skulls. The trouble is, once I have taken off my helmet, I then have horrible hair for the rest of the day. This simple beanie fits in my pocket and can be taken out and worn to cover up my helmet head.

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It looks so fab, I have been wearing it out and about – I wore Helmet Head in Dusseldorf before sending it off to be included in Bespoke.

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It also goes really well with Woodrup – the gorgeous cardigan modelled here with my Helmet Head.

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Bespoke features 10 patterns in total and is inspired by the tour de France coming to Yorkshire this year. Woodrup is a colourwork yoke cardigan designed by Ann Kingstone with really cute applied i-cord edgings. Then there is Picycle, a circular lace shawl by Karina Westermann which looks beautifully soft. Malliot jaune is a jumper that is sized to fit children, women and men by Alison Moreton. Hercules is a men’s jumper by Sarah Hatton that has a wonderful cable pattern reminiscent of tyre tracks, a Courier felted messenger bag by Jo Spreckley and Frame Mitts by Rachel Coopley which manage to look snug and pretty at the same time. For those with kids there are the Chop Chop handlebar streamers by Verity Britton (or big kids like me that really want to make these for my bike!). The crochet patterns include Peachy, a bike seat cover by Ruby McGrath, Wickerton, a cute stripy bicycle basket with a pretty flower by Julie Glaze and my Helmet Head.

Bespoke is a really fun collection of patterns and it is hard to know what to make first! So if you love your bike or know someone who does, or just love cute and pretty accessories, it is well worth a look. I’m really excited about the Tour de France coming to Yorkshire and plan to wear a few of these designs when I go to watch the race pass through my area.

I will be releasing matching mittens and cowl for Helmet Head soon so you can have a matching set (I love having matching accessories). Helmet Head is only available in Bespoke which can be purchased from Baa Ram Ewe.

by Sarah A

Lantern making for Imbolc

January 31, 2014 in Wessenden Valley by Sarah A

This weekend is Imbolc which marks the coming of spring – at last! My favourite way of celebrating is to attend the Imbolc Fire Festival in Marsden which takes place tomorrow (Saturday 1st February 2014). This is a fantastic evening of entertainment with a procession of Druids to the fire display, then a great display and finally a battle between Jack Frost and the Green Man – the Green Man wins every time of course (well he nearly didn’t in the 2012 festival – Jack Frost put up a huge snow fight!). There’s fireworks and musicians. It is a really fab event and I recommend coming to watch – even if the weather is awful!

In 2012 it really was very snowy:

Snow Storm!

These are the photos I took of the fire festival and Jack Frost fighting the Green Man:

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The whole event is run on community donations. There will be collections on the night but there is also a page to donate to keep this wonderful event running. For more information about this years festival checkout the facebook page.

This year I have been joining in the fun of making lanterns to light the path of the procession. I decided to make an elder sign lantern (to keep the Great Old Ones away from the event).

It began with a 5 pointed star:

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A second 5 pointed star was made to match the first:

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The two stars were taped together at each point. Then cross braces were fitted between the two stars at the 5 cross overs of the central pentagon:

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We then made an ‘X’ through the centre of the star to tie a jam jar lid to (for the light to stick to):

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The whole star was then covered in tissue paper that was covered in PVA glue. This part was really sticky and messy and fun:

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Finally the elder sign symbols were cut out of coloured tissue paper and stuck in the centre. Voila! An elder sign lantern. I can’t wait to see it lit!

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It looked so good we then decided to make one twice as large! This one came out nearly as big as me :)

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by Sarah A

Fair isle guild meeting

January 20, 2014 in Textile heritage, Uncategorized by Sarah A

Last Thursday it was the monthly Huddersfield Knitting & Crochet guild meeting at Brew cafe and this time the theme was fair isle knits. We are lucky to be able to see some of the wonderful guild collection at our meetings.

We started with an interesting talk on the history of fair isle from Barbara. Then the guild collection came out and was gently handled with white cotton gloves.

I love the colours and shape of this 1940′s short sleeve sweater:

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This one caught my eye as there are much fewer colours than many fair isles have, but it is still very pretty:

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The big hits of the evening were these little baby jumpers. They have obviously been made for their intended recipients with lots of loving care. The detailing is amazing and the patterns so intricate.

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Then we had a lovely show & tell with members bringing along their own knits and designs. It’s great to see all the colour combinations, variation in styles and ideas.

I’m now wanting to design & knit my own fair isle jumper!

 

 

 

by Sarah A

Blowing away the cobwebs

January 17, 2014 in Walking, Wessenden Valley by Sarah A

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Last weekend I was desperate for some fresh air having worked all the weekend before and not able to escape the four walls of my house. I find hiking is great for blowing the cobwebs out of my mind, making me feel human again and gives me that lovely tired feeling of having exerted myself in the outdoors, rather than the more horrible tired feeling of concentrating at a computer screen for too many hours.

This was only meant to be a short walk to refresh the senses but turned into an 8 mile hike. Thankfully the weather was kind and did not rain until we got home.

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The Wessenden Valley has so many beautiful walking opportunities, it is sometimes hard to choose which way to go. This time we decided to to up the valley to the Pennine way. It is a bit of a steep climb of stairs up the side of the Butterley reservoir but worth it to see the beautiful Victorian architecture, and another short sharp climb to the Pennine Way, it is then easy walking around the side of the hill.

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There are beautiful views down the Wessenden Valley all the way.

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There is one tricky section as you cross Blake Clough with stepping stones…. I managed not to fall in! (I have a tendency to do that – I once fell into the River Wharfe when crossing the stepping stones at Bolton Abbey)

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After going up the Wessenden Valley a bit further, we turned back and followed the high path above the Valley back to the road and to the village.

This is a really pleasant, mostly easy walk that is great for a winter afternoon as it does not take too long to do, but you feel like you have been out in the wild and all those cobwebs are blown away.

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by Sarah A

Thought Bubble workshops 2013

November 21, 2013 in workshops by Sarah A

Its that most wonderful time of the year again – Thought Bubble Festival week!

Thought bubble is a fantastic comic festival that takes place in Leeds every November. Each year there are film screenings, workshops, comics forums, competitions and exhibitions and it all finishes in a massive comic convention on the 23rd and 24th November in the Royal Armouries, Leeds.

Last year I ran two workshops that were a great success. The learn to knit a zombie workshop had people creating little Zombie Charlie‘s and the learn to crochet Cthulhu workshop had some great Cthulhu amigurumi‘s being made.

This year the learn to crochet workshop had 10 people attend and make little voodoo doll amigurumi’s.

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The room was very quiet while people were concentrating but near the end you could see the little voodoo dolls begin to take shape – always my favourite part! Everyone did amazingly well as most people were complete beginners and it is a lot to learn in just 2 hours.

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I then had 14 people attend the learn to knit a vampire bat session the next day.

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Thank you to those who came for both workshops – it is always nice to see people return. I am always amazed at how quickly some people pick up new skills and the complete beginners were all knitting like whizzes at the end of the 2 hours, with some bats nearly finished.

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I had a great time at these workshops and thank you for the lovely feedback I received. Watching people learn a new skill and seeing the joy on their faces as they create something new is always fun. As requested, I have created a new page on my website with details of my upcoming workshops and how to book me to teach.

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A huge thank you to Thought Bubble Festival for sponsoring these events. Kits for the voodoo crochet and knitted vampire bats will be on sale this weekend, as well as Cthulhu amigurumi and Knitted Zombies at the Thought Bubble Festival. I hope to be back teaching next year :)

by Sarah A

Xylia Cardigan

November 1, 2013 in patterns, Xylia cardigan by Sarah A

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Have you seen issue 2 of The Crochet Project? The theme is Woodland Whimsy and there are some beautiful crochet patterns in there by some wonderful British designers.

My Xylia cardigan is in this issue too! Xylia means ‘of the wooded land’ and I think this name suits this pattern perfectly as the fancy granite stitch that forms the body of the cardigan has the wonderful texture of bark found on old trees found in the woodlands of England.

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The cardigan has an asymmetrical design and manages to be both feminine with its pretty scalloped edges and yet functional with a handy little pocket and simple shaping. I think it is guaranteed to become a wardrobe classic.

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Xylia is crocheted in one piece from the top down. Markers are used to note where yoke increases take place and once the armholes have been separated, the cardigan is crocheted straight down to the waist.

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I love the fit of this cardigan as it sits on the high hip, perfect for pairing with skirts or jeans.  The buttons allow the cardigan to be worn open at the top or bottom. I personally like the first two buttons open at the top as this shows off the asymmetrical design the best. It is available in 7 sizes from 34″ to 56″ chest.

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I crocheted Xylia using Woolyknit DK classics yarn which is 100% merino wool. I like the soft brown shade that helps echo the woodland theme. The yarn is soft and warm and has the perfect drape for this cardigan. For substituting yarns I would suggest a 100% wool DK weight yarn that has a matt finish as this will show off the textured pattern to its best. Yarns such as Rowan Pure Wool or Purelife Organic wool, King Cole merino blend DK, Natural Dye Studio Dazzle BFL DK or Wensleydale Longwool Sheepshop DK would be great alternatives.

The Woodland Whimsy Collection can be found here and my Xylia cardigan here. I hope you like it. Please support this British design collection. I’m looking forward to the Knit Project issue 1 which will also be out soon.

Photo copyright for the top image is Kat Goldin of The Crochet Project.

 

by Sarah A

Woodville Tam & Mitts

September 25, 2013 in patterns, Woodville by Sarah A

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Woodville is my latest design and features a matching tam and fingerless mittens set. It has a simple repeating geometric pattern that is easy to follow, quick to make and fun to knit.

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I chose beautiful woodland shades for this set with the cuffs matching the main colour of the pattern. The yarn is Eden Cottage Bowland DK in Silver Birch (light green) and Dark Oak (brown). This yarn is one of my favourites and I always want to buy every colour they have when I see them at wool festivals. The colours are hand dyed and have a semi-solid appearance. The yarn is soft, has a slight sheen and works really well for this pattern. The best news is that it only takes 1 skein of each colour to make both the hat and mitts!

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Both patterns are fully charted and the simple stranded pattern is suitable for beginners who are wanting to give stranded knitting their first try. I love the way the hat pattern looks on the top, the pattern merges to form a star or a snowflake. The mitts have a ribbed cuff around the fingers, wrist and thumb and the hat has a ribbed edge too. The stranded pattern makes this set warm to wear and perfect for autumn and winter.

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My inspiration for this pattern comes from Elizabeth Woodville who was the wife of King Edward IV of England. She lived from 1437 to 1492 and reports say she was very beautiful and captured the young king’s heart with an enchantment and used sorcery to help her cause in the War of the Roses. I have recently been watching the White Queen series on the BBC which is a drama based upon Philippa Gregory’s The Cousins’ War series of books. The 5 books that make up this series follow 5 different women during the War of the Roses and tells their stories. All the women are powerful in their own way and influence the events that take place around them despite having very few rights themselves. As a child I was fascinated by the story of the princes who disappeared from the tower after visiting the Tower of London and it was fun to read about the events and intrigue of the time. I’m very hopeful that King Richard III’s body comes back to Yorkshire where he belongs. There is a fantastic little museum in York on Richard which is well worth a visit.

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Woodville Tam and Mitts set is released today and is available to buy here as individual items, or both together as an ebook.

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by Sarah A

Crowberry

September 20, 2013 in Crowberry, patterns, Wessenden Valley by Sarah A

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Crowberry is a simple but pretty cardigan pattern that I published in July and never got round to making a blog post about – sorry if you have been waiting for more information!

This cardigan is ideal for spring/summer or warm autumn days where an extra layer is needed. It is knitted in DK weight yarn at a loose gauge to provide a soft, drapey fabric that provides warmth but not too much weight.

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Knitted from the top down as one piece in reverse stocking stitch (which when knitted flat is just as easy as normal stocking stitch) it has 3 cute buttons to keep the top closed and then flares flatteringly over the waist and hips. The waist shaping gives those of us without any waist a flattering figure. It is the little details of this cardigan that I love so much such as the pretty eyelet holes that form the shaping of the yoke and the i-cord bind off that finishes the edges perfectly.

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I don’t know about you but the thing that puts me off reverse stocking stitch in the round is the row after row of purling…. This cardigan has none of that as the body is knitted flat and then the sleeves are knitted in the round on the wrong side(!) which means that you knit the sleeves rather than many rounds of purling.

The berry pattern and cardigan name was inspired by walking in the Pennine hills where I live. Crowberries (Empetrum nigrum) are lovely bright yellow-green glossy-leaved shrubs that can be found on English moorland. Every autumn they produce crops of dark purple berries that are edible and can be made into pies or jam.

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The crowberry pattern has both charts and written instructions for the berry detail and a schematic to help with sizing and blocking. This cardigan needs a good block, particularly of the edges. Full instructions are given on how to make the berries and for the i-cord bind off so don’t worry if you have not tried these before. They are easier than they look.

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I knitted this cardigan in the very soft and pretty Woolyknit Bluefaced Leicester DK yarn. It gives the cardigan a lovely drape and shows off the berry pattern very well. It is such a soft yarn and the natural shades are perfect for knits with textured details. The sample has been hanging up in the Woolyknit yarn shop since July if you would like to see it in person. You can see all the lovely natural colours in their BFL range in this photo:

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The pattern has been on sale on my website and on Ravelry since July, thank you to those who have purchased it. I hope you enjoy knitting it as much as I did! I will be uploading it to Craftsy and Patternfish today as well.

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by Sarah A

Cuckoo Festival

April 29, 2013 in Wessenden Valley by Sarah A

It’s that time of year again where Marsden village celebrates the slightly daft villagers who once tried to build a wall around a cuckoo to keep it here so spring & summer would stay but forgot to put a roof on – it was nobbut one course too low! Not surprisingly, the slightly more intelligent cuckoo flew away.
This year the rain mostly held off (except for a freaky hailstorm in the morning) so maybe spring is nearly here.

The Rhubarb Molly dance group were in bright colours to bring out the sunshine:


The local Morris side – the Thieving Magpies were having fun:


And the Frumptarn Guggenband (or the groovy Dalmatian trumpet players as I like to call them) were as entertaining as usual:


There was the annual cuckoo parade with the giant cuckoo:


The local schools made cuckoos and showed off their work on cuckoos from around the world:


More pictures from the parade:


The local firemen also joined in. We are losing our local fire station and it was a nice way for everyone to cheer them goodbye.


There was also a thrilling finale to the duck race….


Spot the ducks if you can!
Thanks to Sharon & the cuckoo festival team for all their hard work.

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