Woolfest!

This is a level of nerd-dom I never thought I would reach, yet no-one around me seemed surprised, I guess I just look nerdier than I thought.

While on holiday in the Lake District Mr P had a surprise for me! After a long drive through mountains and around lakes we arrived at Cockermouth; a large sign and a statue of a sheep with a woolly coat on greeted me: Woolfest! The original wool appreciation festival.

It was quite daunting as we entered the huge warehouse, surrounded by old ladies in knitted jumpers talking about percentages, needles and spinning. I don’t know what I expected as we entered but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a pen with sheep in looking up at me and bleating. It was wool appreciation as I’d never seen it; you could even buy raw wool, seemingly straight off the sheep.

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What a fluffy face!

As a crocheter this was particularly daunting as there is very little to do with crochet here, everybody knits. There were knitting patterns everywhere, various types of fancy knitting needles and all the examples of things you could make were knitted.

I find it difficult to buy wool without a project in mind; I find I can’t just pick up a load of something I like, what if it’s not enough or if it’s the wrong weight? I’m currently in the middle of a project for a friend of mine so I was having trouble even contemplating what my next one would be. With a few little prods from Mr. P I made my first tentative purchase… buttons

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Ok, so I didn’t exactly break the bank but one can never have too many buttons

Right, yes I know, I’m bad at buying things. I can’t go to woolfest and not buy some wool. So after careful deliberation and getting rather confused I decided to take up knitting! For very good reason too, how could I resist such cute knitting needles?!!

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So these needles are from KnitPro, they are made from stunning rainbow colours and feel wonderfully smooth in the hand. In fact I may just have to invest in the matching crochet hooks I love them so much!

After scouring the various stall for patterns I was most impressed by the soft lace wool available at the Chester Wool Co stall and that they offered a free pattern for you to use. They had completed items and the appropriate wool next to the patterns making choosing my pattern and wool a much less stressful affair. I chose a pattern for a lovely shawl as my first foray into knitting; wish me luck! If anyone has any tips or comments on knitting (or if you also visited woolfest this year) please comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

So I may be a complete nerd, but I loved woolfest!

Have a lovely day, here’s a pair of Llamas

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Feverishly finishing

Today I’m doing something a little different and writing a post based on a writing prompt; today that writing prompt is a single word: Burn

When I saw the word burn I thought hot, fever and from that speed. I think the reason I thought this was that my last week has been spent feverishly crocheting to finish a baby blanket with a strict deadline. I have a baby shower tomorrow for a close friend of mine and I really really wanted it to be ready on time. I think the gift loses some impact if presented at the wrong time and becomes a bit less special, at least to me.

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This probably isn’t the best baby blanket I’ve ever made but it holds a special place for me. This is the first time I’ve ever tried to appliqué and the appliqués I’ve chosen are sentimental for me and my dear friend receiving the blanket. The road was not easy for this blanket; creating the right ridges, learning to appliqué, failing at creating lettering… but those are all stories for another day.

When you get into a project that you just do it every hour of the day, that you think about solving your problems as you fall asleep, when you grab every free 30 seconds here and there to do a few stitches, you become feverish. It has burned its way through your brain.

Have a lovely day, here is a picture of a Llama

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Lesson 1: Learning the Language

The hardest thing about learning crochet -you know, apart from the aching hands and shoulders and figuring out what a stitch is- is wrapping your head around the lingo. You learn the basic stitches and you practice over and over until you feel confident enough to finally try a pattern and… what on earth does that say? ch12 sk2 st dc in next 5…. complete gobbledegook….. Now you have to learn how to read a pattern, it’s like a whole language of it’s own. However once you learn the abbreviations it suddenly starts to make a lot more sense.

Ch                       Chain

Sc                        Single Crochet

Dc                       Double Crochet

Hdc                     Half Double Crochet

Tr                        Triple Crochet

Sk                        Skip stitches

Sl St                    Slip Stitch

These are the very basic stitches, there will be many more over the course of a pattern. Often if there is a new or complicated stitch in a pattern then there will often be a note stating the abbreviation and explaining the stitch. Some patterns list all the abbreviations at the beginning of the pattern and explain them; we like these patterns!

Example:

Ch 40.
1. Hdc into 2nd ch from hook. Hdc 38. Turn.
2. Ch 1. Sc in same st. Sc 38. Turn.
So for this pattern you would do the following steps:
Make a starting chain of 40 stitches
1. Count 2 chains from your crochet hook and do a half double crochet into it. Do a Half double crochet into each chain all the way to the end totalling 38 Half double crochets. Turn your work so you are now at the beginning of the row rather than the end.
2. Chain 1. Do a single crochet in the same stitch the chains are coming from. Continue to single crochet along the row to the end totalling 38 single crochets. Turn your work so you are now at the beginning of the row rather than the end.
As you can see, without all the abbreviations a pattern starts to get pretty wordy; the above pattern is very simple but when explained it takes 2 paragraphs. When working with larger and more complicated projects we would be looking at an essay which would be long winded and difficult to work from.
Often you will find patterns are repetitive: rather than write the same instructions over and over patterns will often put in a repeat.
Example:
1. Ch2 *dc in next st, sk 1 st* repeat from *to end of row
So this would translate to:
1. Chain 2. Do a double crochet in the next stitch, skip a stitch, do a double crochet in the next stitch, skip a stitch etc. to the end of the row.
These are the very basics of reading a crochet pattern, certainly enough to get you started on your first project! I hope this has helped you understand patterns a little better and as I load more tutorials I will link them in the relevant points for easy access to them from the this post.
Have a lovely day, here is a picture of a kitten
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So you’ve picked up a hobby eh?

I was never into hobbies as a child…. I was asked if I wanted to play an instrument or take up a sport but I just said no; hard to know if I was worried it would cost too much money, or if I just couldn’t be bothered. As an adult I wish I had taken all those opportunities while I had all the time in the world and while someone else was paying for it. Now I feel like I want to learn everything but work and life often get in the way….

I come across people and they say ‘ooh you play violin? I wish I could play an instrument’ or ‘That blanket is lovely, I wish I could make things’ and ‘I wish I could cook’, ‘I wish I had the time’, ‘I wish I had the patience’ and what I really want to say is:

‘You can do whatever you set your mind to’

All of my hobbies I began in my twenties so when people just say they can’t, I think it’s never too late. As cliché as that is.

Ok so I didn’t mean for my first post to be a rousing speech on how we can do whatever we set our minds to, however that is the spirit of how I want people to feel as they read this blog. Crochet is the one hobby I’ve picked up that I feel anyone can teach themselves, you can do it during your normal routine and you will feel the immense satisfaction of actually creating something from a piece of string. No, it’s not easy but neither is it impossibly difficult. Give it a go sometime.

Have a lovely day, here is a picture of a puppy

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