Thursday, 20 July 2017

July Stylecraft Blogstars Meetup!

Hey everyone!

It was a freezing cold July evening for me, and a lovely sunny Saturday morning for Anne, when we skyped in to our very first Stylecraft Blogstars meeting!! Some of the photos in this post were taken by us, and some by Stylecraft :)

I live just down the road from another Blogstar, Angela from Get Knotted Yarn Craft, so we decided this was too good an opportunity to miss - hanging out together squishing wool, crocheting and chattering! The Captain even came along for the fun; he just can't miss a party, even if it's just two of us drinking tea in the kitchen :P 




There were 5 bloggers joining in from outside the UK - us and Angela (of course), plus Polly Plum from Every Trick on the Hook, and Zelna from Zooty Owl. After the usual technical difficulties (fortunately there was a handsome young man available to assist at Stylecraft!) we got underway! 


It was incredibly awesome to put voices to faces to names of some bloggers that we really love reading! Plus, who can have too many crochet friends? Attending the meetup in person were Lucia from Lucia's Fig Tree, Sandra from Cherry Heart, Julia from Hand Knitted Things, Helen from Josiekitten, Phil from The Twisted Yarn, Sarah from Annaboo's House, Catherine from Catherine's Crochet Corner, Kathryn from Crafternoon Treats, Heather from The Patchwork Heart and Emma Varnam. Sadly Lucy from Attic24 and Jane Crowfoot weren't able to come along - next time, ladies!



Next was what we were waiting for - a preview of the next season's yarn releases, both new yarns and new colours of existing yarns! There's not a lot we can talk about yet, but watch this space.

Annabelle and Emma took us around on the laptop to tour the room that was set up as the showroom for the day - so many pretties!!! Lucia brought a whole bunch of her blankets which were just glorious to see "in person" (rather than still photos) and there are some amazing upcoming designs to look forward to!




The last part (for us overseas people) was an awesome opportunity to play in piles of yarn. We were so glad to have all the little squares of Special DK colours as this made it so much easier to come up with colour combinations for a super secret upcoming thing! Even the Captain got in on the action :P


Overall we had a good time, mostly meeting the other wonderful Blogstars, and after disconnecting from Stylecraft (it was lunchtime in the UK, and the none of us felt up to learning tatting by teleconference!) we overseas bunch decided we would get together on Skype more regularly, as it was just so lovely to catch up, chat and crochet together! 

I think I've used up my entire monthly allowance of exclamation marks (!!) in this post!! :D 

Next Week - we're publishing our first pattern designed with our Blogstars yarn from Stylecraft, the intriguing Mystique yarn!

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Adventures in Knitting: "I can have a dark side too..."

Hey everyone!

Two weeks ago I took a great leap over to the dark side - I learned how to knit :o (Thanks to Tim Minchin for the post title!) 

I had done knitting in primary school (quite some time ago now!), and every so often picked up a set of needles to have a go, but just never really enjoyed it, or at least not enjoyed it as much as crochet. Crochet is faster, you can't drop stitches (or if you do it's not a drama in the slightest), and I can do it much better! I have always had the dream of knitting socks though, which seemed roughly equivalent to climbing Mount Everest but without the fun party times.

Then, my lovely friend Emily who can knit wonderfully asked if she could trade knitting lessons for advice about uni courses, and I felt ready. This was the moment. It was time.


After learning the basics - cast on, knit, purl, slip, increase, decrease, cast off - I was ready to start a real project. A knitted Wrap with Love square!


It worked! It came out a bit big, but after undoing one row I decided I didn't care that it was a bit too big. Knitting is wayyyy harder to frog :(


So, how hard could socks be? They thought I was mad, mad, MAD! *insane cackling* 

This gorgeous ball of Stylecraft's Head Over Heels sock yarn fell into an online shopping basket quite some time ago (I think I needed to get to $100 for free postage, and much better to spend a bit extra money on yarn than waste it on postage). It's a wool/nylon blend which I am told is ideal for socks, and didn't feel super itchy - maybe I could even tolerate having woolly socks? Spotlight provided 3mm knitting needles, and then it was time to choose a pattern

After much perusing of Ravelry, I chose the Just Plain Socks pattern by Talena Winters - It is free! Has ribbing! Multiple sizing options! Intermediate difficulty? Bah, I'm sure it will be fine.


Oh man, I thought knitting with two needles was complicated. Four? FOUR? It took me nearly two hours to knit the first inch of the cuff. Maybe knitting wasn't for me - I could nearly have a pair of crochet socks done in that amount of time. But I persevered. The yarn was working up in adorable stripes, and I was getting the hang of it. Slowly. 


The texture of the back of the heel was awesome, plus knitting goes way faster if you slip every second stitch ;) 


Now, it was heel turning time. This was the part I was most afraid of - I'd read about terror of turning heels in novels and thought this, this is where this experiment is going to fall apart.

Buuuut...

I did it! I just followed the pattern step by step, and then there was a heel turned. If I can turn heels, I can do ANYTHING.


Gusset? What on earth is a gusset? What on earth am I doing? Oh no wait, this is ok. Picking up stitches is ok. We can do this. I even did a Kitchener graft to close the toe (although I do need more practice...). 



I measured Kiah's foot as instructed, and knitted to the measurement as per the pattern, and then he put the first ever finished sock on. 

DISASTER.

It was too long! After the experiments with the Wrap with Love square, I was 100% not excited about doing any undoing. After a few minutes of blind panic, I remembered that my little brother James has enormous feet (AU mens size 13-14 - if I put my feet in his shoes, I can see my standard sized toes before the laces start). I texted him to see if he would be interested in hand-knitted socks and he said YES! Crisis averted!

Sock 2 went much faster, and I had lots of fun learning how to count rows to make it identical to the first one. 



I am so thrilled with the outcome, and totally pumped to make more socks and do more experiments in knitting! For now I have to get back to the crochet WIP pile but more knitting is definitely in my near future <3 

What are you favourite interesting knitting patterns for adventurous beginners? What techniques, stitches and skills should I learn next?

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Adventures in Designing

Hi everyone! 

Gosh, life gets busy for a few weeks then you turn around and it's July!? I am so not ready for it to be less than 6 months to Christmas!

It's been announced on Facebook and Instagram, but I don't think it's happened on here yet: Crochet Between Worlds have joined the Stylecraft Blogstars!! It's so exciting to be working with our favourite yarn brand, and to be on the same team as our crochet idols like Lucy from Attic24, Jane Crowfoot, Kathryn from Crafternoon Treats, Zelna Olivier... pretty mindblowing for us two little amateur crocheters. 




You can read our blurb on the Stylecraft website here: https://stylecraft-yarns.co.uk/blog/Anne-and-Michelle/

Ever since we got the gig, my brain has been buzzing even more with design ideas. One of the perks is that Stylecraft is happy to send us yarn for designing with, and I had not realised how much yarn budgeting was hampering my creative brain. 

But, being up at 3am because I had an idea for a design that wouldn't let me sleep anymore was not really assisting my health or my energy during the day to actually do things. It got so crazy that I had to do something to get ideas out of my head but not forgotten. I have a folder on my computer, but that's less convenient for jotting down thoughts or a quick sketch of an idea.

Meet my design journal! Like many people I am a total sucker for pretty stationery, and this Leuchtturm A5 diary is SO pretty. It has a hard cover so I can whip it out and scribble anytime, anywhere, and an elastic to hold it shut when I go overboard sticking photos and printed layouts in it :P


I'm eventually going to decorate the rest of the cover with pretty crochet pictures, but my photo printer is at the doctor's at the moment. 

Inside is also really cool - the pages are numbered, and there's an index at the front! I'm enjoying just opening a random page to jot down an idea, then adding a title to the index! I am finding the blank space more thrilling than daunting - so much more room to put more ideas!


The pages are perfect for designing - rather than being lined or blank, each page has a grid of dots. This keeps my handwriting (mostly) straight but also makes it easy to sketch shapes of ideas evenly. 



I'm just putting the final touches on this origami bag design, then it'll be published for free here!! 

Do you have a recording system for designing? How do you keep track of ideas?

Next time: Adventures in Sock Knitting!

Hugs,
Michelle

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Bunnies, Bunnies, Bunnies everywhere!

Hello all!

I hope you are all doing well! Enjoy the longest day of the year (if you live in the northern hemisphere that is...)! Life if rather busy here and some days there isn't even enough time for crochet. Oh the horror! Fingers crossed it will get better soon! I am rather involved in crochet-y things though as I am translating the new Stylecraft CAL into German again. We have a give away at our Instagram account running atm (until Sunday), so hop over there for your chance to win a complete yarn pack to the CAL! :)

Anyway, onto real crochet... After working on only blankets for some time, I felt it was time to something else. Plus I was traveling and I couldn't take many skeins of yarn in my small carry on luggage. So, it was time to amigurumi again!


I have used the bunny pattern from Isabelle Kessedijan a couple of times last year and as I love the way the bunnies look, I went to make another one! This time I applied some changes to the pattern which I will list below!


Isn't it wonderful how different all three of these little bunnies look? The white one is made in Drops Cotton Merino and the two others were made with Stylecraft Batik DK. I liked the Batik DK before but after seeing how it worked up with the bunnies, I would go so far and say the yarn is just perfect for amigurumi! I like the yarn in blankets, but man, look at the color fading in the bodies of the bunny!


If you are reading this blog for some time already, you probably already know that I am NOT fond of sewing. Thus I try to eliminate sewing as much as possible... I came up with the Cross my Heart Teddy and the Heart Teddy for exactly this reason. The bunny pattern wants you to make the head and body separately and then sew them together. I figured that was silly and just continued to crochet the head after I finished the body. For that I literally worked the head pattern from the end instead of the beginning (= whenever it called for decrease, I increased and vice versa). I could have crocheted the arms on but for once I decided to sew them on (I did that when the head was halfway done). Next time I will probably just crochet them like I do with the teddy arms.

Take care
Anne







Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Wednesday WIP Wroundup!

Hey everyone!

We finally bit the bullet and employed a cleaner - with Kiah working full time now, and me not really capable of doing many useful things, it just made sense to have a cleaner to make sure that the apartment gets cleaned on a regular basis. But, it does mean that I have to tidy up my mess on a regular basis as well - maybe that's a good thing!

This week's job was clearing up my crafty corner, which has morphed over time from one box of current projects and one of play yarn, to... well, a giant mess of all the things I thought I might do, or couldn't fit in another cupboard or who knows really. 

In tidying up, I found a multitude of unfinished projects, so this blog post is a little window into what craziness I've started indulging in, and also a reminder to me to get some of these things finished. Shall we meet back here in, say, 3 months and see if I've made any progress or just added more to the pile? 


And yes, I know that Roundup doesn't traditionally have a W in it, I was just tickled at the idea of such an alliterative blog title ;)

1. New Designs

I don't have any photos to show you of these little activities, but I have 5 (!) new designs at various stages of the writing/testing process, including one gorgeous baby blanket that should be coming out very soon! Keep an eye out, as there'll be a discount code for our lovely readers ;) I'm counting those 5 designs as one item on this list though, otherwise it's just too depressing.

2. Fiesta Laptop Case

I was making myself a laptop case using my Fiesta Clutch design. The fabric is so large and intimidating to fill all that blank white space! 


3. Winter Sparkle Cross-stitch

Oh I love how this is coming along, and I only have less than 6 pages left to do. I just need some time to focus on it for a week or two, maybe when the weather is not so drying on my hands that I have to keep so clean...


4. Tie-Back Tunic



Ok, this one is less in the WIP pile and more in the naughty corner. I had been lusting after this Marly Bird pattern for ages, finally got the e-book on special, splashed out on some stunning Cascade merino yarn and... the pattern did not work. After much swearing, consulting with my mother and extensive pattern rewriting and fiddling, we finally came up with a garment that'll fit, but now I hate it. What do you think - should I just finish it and probably leave it folded up in my wardrobe forever, or frog and repurpose the yarn for something else?


5. Ella Mohair Wrap


I bought this yarn in a bulk buy group ages ago, planning to design some kind of elegant lacy shawl which I have never got around to, and am unlikely to do so. So I started to use it in Berniolie's Ella Wrap and it is coming up beautifully! Definitely want to finish this one, just need some patient time to deal with the mohair fluff... 


6. Days for Girls Daysies for Menstrual Hygiene Day

This one has a firm deadline on it - I need to make as many Daysies as I can for our Days for Girls working bee this Sunday, as a gift for attendees in celebration of Menstrual Hygiene Day. I, uh, better make the rest of this quick and hop to it!


7. Crochet Meditation Podcast

This is an idea in progress, and I can't show you the little bits I've already designed for this in case you want to listen to the podcast - half the point is that you don't know what the end result is, so you have to focus and listen to each stitch as you hear it. Hopefully soon I'll be able to record the rest of the first four podcasts and get them prettied up with lovely relaxing music, and release them to the world! 


8. Luna the African Flower Cat

I'm sure the recipient of this kitty thinks I have forgotten about it, but never fear! It is still here and glares at me accusingly on a regular basis (similar to my real lift cat...hmm). The pattern is by Jo's Crocheteria and while it makes a lovely cat in the end, the instructions leave something to be desired. So it waits until I can be figged plowing through figuring out how to join up these bajillion little African flowers. Then, I'm going to get my talented mother to give kitty some acupuncture (that is, lay out colours on it for a candy version), then make that one up, so in future I have one always on hand to refer to! 


9. Blue Happypotamus

This is today's project, which has to be delivered on Sunday, but I'm including it this list so I have at least two things I can definitely tick off next time we have this chat ;) 

10. Destash Box of Stylecraft Special DK

I am slowly, slowly in the process of using up my Stylecraft Special DK stash to make Wrap With Love squares. Slowly. So far I have nearly two blankets worth of squares, and the pile of yarn is about a third of an IKEA box, down from 3 big boxes. Not all of that has become squares yet - the full or almost full balls went to live in my mother's bath with the stash she keeps for her Wrap With Love knitting ladies. 


Don't worry - there's plenty of other places in my parents' house to bathe! 

Phew! That ... is a really long list. To cheer myself up, here's something I actually finished this week - a Road Trip Scarf in McLana Jazz! It's super pretty yarn with a slight sheen to it, perfect for these cheery neckerchief scarves :)  




Next WIP check-in: end of August 2017

Saturday, 20 May 2017

REVIEW: A Hook and a Book Subscription Box

Hello Hello!

A couple of weeks Maddy from Hook and a Book asked us if we could take a look at her new crochet subscription boxes! As her boxes are a combination of a crochet pattern plus yarn and a book - two of our favourite things - we were hooked and eagerly waited for our surprise boxes to arrive. Now we both got our boxes, we are very happy to tell you about what we found in there! Please note though that this is not a sponsored post - even though Maddy send us the boxes for free, we are allowed to write whatever we like and are in no way required to write a positive review! :) We do really like the box though, so here is our walk through the box:

First ... Open the box with Michelle!


In case you can't quite see what exactly we found in the box, here is a list: 
"Where the Rainbow Ends" by Cecelia Ahern, a crochet pattern for a hook case, a skein of Rainbow Stylecraft Cabaret, a crochet hook, sewing needles and tea bags for a relaxing time! 


Now onto our reviews:

Anne

The box arrived just a few days after it was posted from the UK! I wasn't home when it was delivered and the neighbours who took the parcel in, weren't home for two days... oh the wait before I could pick up the parcel! Opening the box was great fun - I love surprises like this.

Cecelia Ahern is one of my favourite authors - I have read all her novels except the one in the box! Can you imagine how lucky that was?! Can't wait to start reading it. I adore novels and reading used to be my favourite pastime but these days it is either crochet or reading. Most time crocheting wins but I will need to make time for this novel! I will drink the tea when I read the novel... Very excited about the tea actually as I can't get this one in Germany and thus it will be a real different treat.

I have worked with Stylecraft Cabaret before and really liked the way it works up. The colour "Rainbow" is no exception to this! The glitter is very lovely for shawls. The pattern of this box is a hook case - while I don't use hook cases, the yarn fits the pattern well. I would have loved to have seen a closer connection between the book, pattern and yarn. Don't get me wrong - it is there though the names of the book and the yarn but I think it would be a lovely touch for future boxes to have a bit more of a narration or story between the two special parts of the boxes. That said: I know it is the first box from Hook and a Book and thus I am a 100 % sure this "story" between pattern, yarn and book will be even more visible in the future. :)


Michelle

Well, this is a really cool idea - I love reading and crochet, and surprise mystery projects, so this box could have been tailor made for me. 

The parcel took almost two weeks to get from the UK to Australia, which is pretty good for international mail. 

I worked up the hook case (and found a couple of mistakes in the pattern, oops!) and it used almost the whole ball which is excellent efficiency! I am not sure I'll use it as I have a beautiful patchwork hook roll for travelling with many hooks, and my trusty glasses case for smaller kit requirements, but it definitely works which is the important thing.


The price seems pretty good for what you get! I've asked Maddy if she would consider the option of audio/kindle books instead of a paper copy, as I hardly ever read paper books anymore :P

Overall, I really liked the Hook and a Book box and wish I could afford to subscribe! If you can, you should - I'm dying to see what the project is in next month's box!!! 


If you would like to subscribe to the boxes, hop over here. It is now open world wide and if you like yarn AND books, you should certainly consider these boxes!

Monday, 15 May 2017

Meet Noah, the Rhino!

Hihi!

How are you these days? I have been busy working on Michelle's super secret new blanket design for the last couple of weeks. Last week though, I decided it was time for a smaller project and so I went for a scroll through instagram and came across the designs from Trolleugen! Aren't her animals absolutely adorable?


I picked Noah, the Rhino, for my first project from her designs. Instead of buying the suggested yarns, I went for my yarn stash and found several skeins of Drops Cotton Merino which fitted Noah quite perfectly. 


The pattern isn't made in rounds but in separate pieces. For those who have been following my crochet adventures for some time, it will be no news that I hate sewing and it was no different with this project. The crochet part was perfectly fine and easy but I had my angry fits with the sewing parts. As one has to crochet into the sides and not only the loops, I wasn't (and still am not) too happy with the uneven joins as the joining yarn shines through and it doesn't look even in some parts. That isn't a problem of the pattern though - it is my hate of sewing and my love for neat edges. At the moment I am thinking how I can work this pattern in rows, so that there will be less sewing. I will sew on the eyes before the stuffing next time, that's for sure.


The finished rhino is very cute and I hope it will be well loved by its new owner. :)

Take care
Anne