Tuesday, 7 October 2014

All At Sea Shawl

image of crocheted shawl
Just a quick show n tell today to reveal a recent project which I made whilst on my jollies in North Wales. This colourful creation is my first attempt at crocheting a shawl. My first shawl! And what a pleasure it was to make too. I spent many a happy moment crocheting this in the car, on the beach and of an evening during those lovely sunny days of Summer.

I first saw this shawl on the lovely Elizy Art blog, and knew instantly I wanted to make it. It was the perfect item to make with a couple of skeins of Araucania Ulmo Multy cotton yarn which I snapped up from the bargain bucket at the Knit and Stitch show in Harrogate two years ago, and I've been itching to make something with it ever since.
image of Araucania yarn
I need to buy a yarn cake thingamabob-bobbin
 I legged it to the shops to buy my copy of the Simply Crochet magazine (Issue 22) so eager was I  to get my hands on the pattern and get started.
image if Simply Crochet Issue 22

image of All at sea shawl Simply crochet Issue 22
After a few initial glitches (I'm pants at following patterns) I sailed through the easy to follow pattern with ease. I wasn't able to make the last two rows, but that wasn't a major problem as it still wraps and drapes really nicely. I was really surprised at how light and comfortable it feels when wrapped around like this (my fave way to wear it)....
image of all at sea shawl
image of all at sea shawl
Not bulky at all, and not overbearingly warm to wear whatever the weather or season.
image of All at sea shawl
This is not going to be my last shawl I can guarantee you that! 
Even the left over yarn was put to good use. This is my eldest daughter's (8) first attempt at crochet...
image of foundation chain
...a very long foundation chain which she made during time spent at the cottage and on the journey home in the car.
To say that I'm proud is an understatement!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Yarndale 2014

image of Yarndale 2014
 The shiny happy crowd gathered in abundance at last weekend's second year of Yarndale...and I spent a most blissful Sunday there mooching around at my leisure. 
 Those famous triangles put on a pretty display again...
image of Yarndale bunting There were cute-some creatures to see. O how I wanted to get closer and run my fingers through that mop, and stroke those ears...
image of Alpaca
There were so many stalls of  the most heavenly luxurious hand made yarns of varying natural fibres in the most breathtaking colours and textures. Hosted by the most friendly of people who were willing to chat and answer questions. (is that too many 'most-s'? My apologies). The passion for their craft was evident and their colourful creations were an inspiration to behold.
 There also seemed to be more felting and spinning stalls there this year with lots of interesting demos taking place. 
Here are some of my favourites...
image of Jo Smith of The Spanner Works
image of Jo Smith
Lovely colorful Jo Smith of The Spanner Works

image of the natural dye studio stall

image of the natural dye studio

The most exquisite beaded shawl made with the softest gossamer like yarn...
image of knitted shawl

image of knitted shawl

image of knitwear
 O beautiful intarsia cardigan I will knit you one day. O yes I will!
image of knitwear

It was great to see so many stall holders and members of the public looking resplendent in their wacky and woolly hand made attire. Look...
image of crochet trousers
image of crochet coat
...there were many more - believe me! I just couldn't whip my camera out fast enough to snap them.
 I too wore my granny waistcoat with pride. Just had to buy this badge while I was there to pin on to it...made the perfect accessory. Yes I'm looking at you Dear Husband!
image of badge
 I lost count of how many times people stopped me to have a chat about my granny creation. One lady flew past me in a hurry stroking my shoulder as she went and apologised saying "it just had to be done". Made me giggle.
I spent the best part of Sunday happily chatting to complete strangers about all matters yarn-y great and small.
Totally enjoyable.
Half way through the day it was time to have a coffee/knit/crochet in the knit n natter 'lounge'. I stopped by to say a brief hello to Lucy (Mrs Attic 24). 
image of Lucy Attic 24
I was disappointed I didn't spot my triangles last year, so it came as a bit of a pleasant surprise to see not one - not two - but THREE of my yarny creations on her table!  Mine are the red and white roses bunting and mandala (also with the red rose in the centre).
image of bunting triangles and mandala by Amjaylou
image of display table
image of attic 24 corner
image of large suspended mandalas
It was lovely to see my work up close again, and to see all the fantastic woolly creations from so many talented crafting folk from across the globe.

I'll finish with photos of those fabulous mandalas which were displayed high up on the walkway.
image of Yarndale mandalas
image of Yarndale mandalas
image of Yarndale mandalas
image of Yarndale mandalas image of Yarndale mandalas
image of Yarndale mandalas
image of Yarndale mandalas
image of Yarndale mandalas
Did you spot yours?

Wednesday, 24 September 2014


image of two sunflowers
Hello lovely people!
Wow what a Summer that was! We've been in desperate need of a stonkingly hot and glorious summer season here in Blighty, and this year was IT. My Summer consisted of a nice balance of lazy/busy time whilst the kidlings were here at home during their school break. We managed to get away to North Wales for a week and a half, and it was bliss...
image of Borth-Y-Gest beach
A Pina Colada  please!
We have been coming here nearly every year for the past twenty-odd years to my Father-in-Law's cottage which is situated in the foothills of Snowdon. We are so lucky and blessed to be able to go there anytime of the year - it's a very special place with so many happy memories of some of the best holidays we've ever had.
North Wales has the perfect combination of places to visit whatever the weather...mountains, hills, coves, fabulously long empty stretches of golden beaches, busy beaches with deliciously coloured beach huts, calm waters, surfing waters, rivers, forests, gardens, wildlife, steam trains, scenic views, scrumptious ice cream parlours, tea-rooms and cafes, as well as the gorgeous island of Anglesey, where I always pay a visit to the lovely Beaumaris to wander around Janet Bell's lovely art studio - couldn't resist purchasing one of her fab Bluebell prints for a friends birthday.
image of Borth-Y-Gest
This is the beautiful village of Borth-Y-Gest. A hidden gem just around the corner from Porthmadog. This view is of the small harbour with it's pretty painted houses as you enter the village, but just a short walk around the top end of the village, along Amanda Terrace (my girl's loved this) opens out to the most stunning stretch of coves with gentle waters, and spectacular views of the mountains in the distance.
It was the perfect location for a good healthy balance of lazy/busy time. It's huge boulders and rocks made the best natural playground for mini sea creature spotting, plus much raucous and giddy sand castle building/digging/burying took place here. We spent a blissful afternoon till we couldn't bear the hunger pangs any more. We'll be back next year - for sure!
image of steam train Hogwarts Express in Beddgelert
Mother Nature has also been kind in stretching the feel of Summer out into a relatively mild start to the Autumn, so the flip flops are still on which makes me very very happy.
image of VW planters
Since the girls went back to school at the beginning of September I've limited my time indoors in favour of getting my garden looking half-decent (jobs which should have been done earlier on in the year). I have painted garden furniture and railings and planted colorful winter pansies, and Daffodil bulbs like a woman possessed.

I did manage to include some crochet time just to keep a healthy balance for my soul and sanity during my time away and in between outdoor chores. And...(drum roll please)...I've made a start on a knitting project I've wanted to do for ages. It's been quite a few years since I held knitting needles in my hands - and I'm glad to say it's taken me a good week to get past the frightful 'gurning' stage every time the stitches slipped off the needles, and when they would annoyingly jam themselves into the crook of my arm. My speed and tension (that's both knitting and shoulders) have improved dramatically, and I've now bonded with those once evil needles to the point where I'm actually now quite enjoying it. Evidence to follow in my next post.

I need to get a wiggle on with some more jobs around here - it'll soon be Christmas! Sorry for the reminder but I know there are lots of you already gearing up for some festive crafting time - how do I know? Because for the simple reason the number of views on my crochet Christmas trees are increasing day by day. Goodness me you're making me feel twitchy!!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Crochet Bits n Bobs

image of crochet strawberries
The end of yet another school year draws nigh. My little lovelies don't finish till tomorrow (Thursday) so all of the last minute runaround preparations have taken their toll leaving minimal me-time to get any crafting done of late. Coupled with the Mediterranean weather we've been experiencing lately I haven't felt like picking up my crochet work or sitting at the computer - it's been so sticky hot here so while the sun has been shining I've been making the most of it by getting out and about. So I'm here now making the most of these cooler and quieter few hours to catch up with your good selves before the five weeks of the summer holiday shenanigans begin!

My Summer wreath has been hanging on my door for a good month now...
image of crochet summer wreath
Those plump juicy looking strawberries are my first attempt at intarsia crochet. They really caught my eye as I hadn't seen them made in this way before, so I just had to give it a go. The pdf pattern is free, and comes with very basic written instructions. I found it a bit tricky at first but after a few initial hiccups I couldn't believe how easy it was once I'd fathomed out how to alternate between the two colours. Although as you can see I could do with a bit more practise to perfect those higgledy-piggledy stitches. It's given me a few ideas for future projects which I'm itching to get started on...
image of a practise piece of intarsia crochet
 I need more practise !
Further intarsia inspiration came from watching Kaffe Fassett's series called 'Glorious Colour' on 4od. If you haven't seen it you must make time to watch it! It made me want to pick up my knitting needles straight away and start knitting again after seeing this. His colourful patterned work is amazing, and very inspirational. I'm feverishly collecting as many pics of his quilting and knitting work for my Pinterest board as I can. I'm so excited at the prospect of getting up close to Kaffe's work at his current exhibition in Bath this Summer. I'll be visiting it sometime in August with my husband so I'll be taking lots of pictures to share with you sometime in the not too distant future. Apparently there are also yarn bombed trees and lamp posts outside the building - I can't wait!!
image of crochet hexagon cushion cover
Next are my two hexagon cushion covers which initially did start out to be my very first proper-big blanket, but yet again I've been faced with the nasty problem of 'The Wrong Yarn'. I bought this ages ago to make my waistcoat, but yet again it has failed the snuggly-drapey factor which is absolutely necessary and quite categorically required of a proper-big blanket. The disappointment didn't last long, however, as these hexagons are now in the process of being made into cushion covers. Most of my existing cushion covers need replacing, repairing, and cleaning due to the abuse wear and tear they receive from my family.
image of sirdar wash n wear yarn
The Wrong/Right Yarn
The yarn I used was Sirdar Wash n' Wear which is a crepe dk yarn so has a rope like quality which makes it really easy to work with, and best of all it doesn't pill (my local yarn shop owner told me this) so it'll still look good even after many washes...which is why it's a popular choice for clothing (she told me this too). Which is why this robust yarn is perfect for cushions, it has a firmer texture when worked up and yet remains soft to the touch, also the colours I'd bought exactly matched the blanket I had seen and fell in love with on Flickr and Ravelry a while back. I loved the clever use of colour of the different colourful centres contained within the repetitive contrasting muted colours. When viewed from afar they look like circles in a sea of grey, and as you get closer the circles transform into flowers with white petals, and then once you get closer still you can then see the hexagons. I love the contemporary look of it, and is the ideal pattern in creating cushions for my natural coloured living room without adding too much in-yer-face candy colour and yet still having many pops of colour all over - clever! I am still going to make the blanket using these colours, but I'll probably wait till I can buy some Stylecraft dk from Yarndale...it'll work out a lot cheaper making it with this...win, win!

image of hexagon border
Oh those edges! I hadn't even thought about them until it came to joining the sides. Everything I did just did not work, so it was lashed into the basket where it stayed for the best part of a week. Eventually after a few attempts I managed to straighten the pointed edges to make it square-ish. No way was I going to crochet a matching hexagon panel for the reverse side and go through all that again! Luckily for me I had kept this...
image of fleece material
...it's a fleece baby sling which a friend gave to me over eight years ago. It's basically a large piece of good quality fleece material sewn down one side. I hadn't the foggiest idea how I was supposed to use it when I had my first baby girl so into my stash of fabrics it went. This will make the perfect soft and snuggly reverse side to my cushion. I can't decide whether to put a zip in (which makes me nervous as I haven't sewn one in before) or whether to overlap two pieces and then add buttons. So now it's all ground to a halt while I dither try to make a decision.

I am so looking forward to some lazy go with the flow play/craft days with my girls, and hopefully I'll be able to catch up on some of my crochet WIP's then...well that's what I'm hoping anyway.

One more day to go. One more day to go-o!!

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Paul McCartney's Crochet Granny Square Waistcoat

image of Paul McCartney's Crochet granny square waistcoat 
Fab crochet waistcoat of many colours

I'm a born and bred Liverpudlian...a scouser, which is a Random Fact I'm sure many of you are unaware of. Even though we now live further north near to the coast of West Lancashire which is about 30 minutes away from Liverpool we often go there to visit family and friends as well as visiting the many attractions this great city has to offer. We are so excited and really looking forward to seeing the giant marionette spectacular which is happening later on this month to commemorate WW1. 
image of the giant marionettes in Liverpool show
I'm extremely proud of my roots, and coupled with my love of crochet you can imagine my delight when I first clapped eyes on these photo's of Paul McCartney wearing his cool crochet waistcoat first seen during the filming of The Magical Mystery Tour in 1967, and then worn again on a trip to India in 1968...
Paul McCartney wearing his crochet granny square waistcoat
Technicolour Dream Coats
Instantaneously I knew I wanted to recreate this not with the main intention of it being an addition to my 'regular' wardrobe but because I just wanted to, and because I could...and so I did.
Nothing but an exact copy of his waistcoat would do at first, matching each round colour for colour, granny for granny - simple? Er, no! I hadn't realised just what a problem that was going to be until I started my research. First there just aren't that many clear close up shots of the waistcoat out there. Some of the pics are grainy and dark whilst others are in full sunlight, which made it all the more difficult in determining the true colours of the yarn in each granny square, also the majority of the photos are frustratingly in black and white. It took a while to collect a decent amount of images which I pinned to my research board on Pinterest - don't you just love Pinterest?! To think I put off joining for ages because I just couldn't see the point of it, now I'm a daily visitor! Anyway I digress - you can see all the photos I collected over on my then secret Pinterest board which I have just made public for you all to see.

Once I realised it was never going to be an absolute replica of the original I decided on choosing a selection of colours based on both the darker as well as the lighter photos.
I first mentioned this project back in March on this post - you can see the first square I produced. Unfortunately it was only after I'd ordered a large batch of dk yarn that I realised it was too thick and would not work up to scale. I was just a tad annoyed at myself for not making a practice piece first, but because I was so eager to get started any common sense went right out the window; a valuable lesson learnt. Ah well not to worry that yarn is now being turned into some rather lovely cushion covers which I hope to finish and share with you soon.

Eventually after many hours of researching 4-ply yarns online I chose Drops Baby Merino yarn from Wool Warehouse. It was available in a great selection of all the shades I needed including pastels as well as brights. It's really soft, non-itchy, affordable, can be machine washed, has good stitch definition and has good drape. Plus there are three shades of grey to choose from, so I plumped for the middle shade - not too light not too dark.
image of Drops Baby Merino yarn
I also had to change the number of squares at the top front section on the shoulders to just two as opposed to the three seen in the photo below. I just couldn't fathom out how two squares from the back shoulder section could possibly line up with three at the front. Even on closer inspection all five rounds on each square can be seen on some of the close ups. Maybe that's why Paul's waistcoat looks a little ill fitting and bunched up around the top of the arms? Look...
image of Paul McCartney in his crochet waistcoat
Want to see my finished vintage waistcoat?
Here it is in all it's granny glory...
Hmm these shots doesn't really do it justice do they? Plus the sunlight has affected the true colour.
Here it is pictured in a more suitable location...
Apart from hats and scarves this is the first 'proper' crocheted garment I've made, and I'm thrilled to bits with it. I adore everything about this colourful little waistcoat of mine, and what it means to me. I mentioned (shamefully) in a previous post about not being completely smitten with granny squares...I take it all back. I loved wearing it for my photo shoot, but have to confess I felt a little self conscious walking around the city centre in it so I took it off after every shot. Boo! Hiss! - I hear you cry! Disappointed in myself I made sure I rectified my lack of Granny Pride and I've worn it a few times since. It certainly would make the appropriate music festival attire - with added flowers in my hair and some long wooden beads - oh yes bring it on! I shall definitely be wearing it with pride at Yarndale this year, so you won't be able to miss me in the crowds!

I'm so interested to know what has happened to Paul's original waistcoat. I couldn't find any information about it's whereabouts online. Does anyone out there know? I really hope he has kept hold of it, and it's tucked away in a drawer somewhere as a treasured keepsake. I did read somewhere that his Auntie knitted him this vest which he also wore during The Magical Mystery Tour. Maybe she crocheted the waistcoat too? I need to improve my knitting skills so I can make this one day to add to my 'Fab' collection.

Technicolour Tank Top
If you fancy making a historical vintage waistcoat to call your very own then go here, and here to find my written photo-tutorial. Who knows, maybe we could start a granny square fashion revival together!? X