Showing posts with label Crochet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Crochet. Show all posts

Sunday 1 July 2018

Ivy leaf wool wash

OK ... you're thinking. She's finally lost the plot. The sun has addled her brain.

But bear with me. There's been a lot written across the internet recently about how you can use ivy leaves as a wool detergent. With all this warm weather I don't have much need of my woollies, so it seemed the perfect time to get things laundered and try out this crazy idea.

I went off into the wilder reaches of the garden and gathered myself a big bowl of ivy leaves, which I washed under the tap to rid them of their cobwebs and dust. Next I tied the leaves in an old T-towel so that they wouldn't escape and mess around with the inner workings of my washing machine. I placed my trial woolly jumper in a mesh wash bag, and placed it in the machine along with the bundle of leaves and popped them on the wool-wash cycle.

Wednesday 7 February 2018

Pink hearts and lavender sachets ...

Are you in the mood for lurve, or do you just like to self-indulge in pink hearts and lavender. I don't need much encouragement to doodle in yarn. And with St Valentine's Day just around the corner I'm having a little play to keep myself entertained. How do you like my lavender sachet?

Just read on for the instructions. 

Thursday 23 November 2017

Ivy Leaves

My friends, after beavering around in my garden, and brandishing my garden secateurs with malice, I give you Ivy Leaf Yellow, which is really a muted, slightly acid-green. It's an odd colour, but I like it.

Friday 17 November 2017

All the purples ...

This week I've had a lot of fun using logwood chips to create a dye-bath that's given me a lush spectrum running from inky purples to airy lavenders as it has gradually lost its strength. I've been playing with it for several days now, allowing each hank of wool time to absorb its fill of the dye before mordanting another hank, and dropping it into the bath.
Costa Brava Botanicals: Logwood Dye
Logwood Dye

Monday 13 November 2017

And a big thank you ...

... to all my lovely customers at Festiwool.

It was a fabulous friendly fair, showcasing lots of marvellous yarns and yarn-related knick-knacks. I had a super day, and I hope everyone else did too.

All the best for now,

Bonny x

Tuesday 7 November 2017

Channelling your inner avocado ...

Remember back in the day when anyone mentioned avocado in the context of colour and it summoned up images of drab, sludge-green bathrooms from the 1970s? Well, for me, those days are very firmly yesterdays. Now when anyone mentions avocado I start to channel visions of warm apricots, dusty salmon pinks and rose-tinted light browns.

No, I'm not dropping acid. Honest, guvnor.

This is what happens when you use your discarded avocado skins and stones to make a dye bath. And let's face it, with the current vogue for mashed avocado on toast with optional chilli flakes for heat, most of us have plenty of skins and stones that are destined for nothing loftier than the compost bin.

Well, hold onto your re-cycling for just a moment: you've got the makings of the very easiest and most environmentally friendly dye bath since the invention of the colour wheel. The thing is there's enough tannin in them there stones to act as a natural mordant to make the colour attach to the fibre so you don't need to go messing with any nasty chemicals that might go on to pollute the water table.

Sunday 1 October 2017

Dealing with a burgeoning yarn stash?

Many of us yarn-aholics have an enduring, perennial problem in the storage department. Our stash has a tendency to grow quicker than our capacity to consume it by turning it into gorgeous hand-knits.

It's a complaint that I hear again and again on the knitting holiday circuit. My guests all seem to have the same nagging problem: cupboards and closets that were not designed to accommodate the outsized proportions of their stash. And, given my own line of business, I've got a yarn stash that would fill a small room.

So, what are we to do?

Well, if you've got stuff that you know you're not going to get to for a while, I may have an answer for you: vacuum storage bags. You can buy them on Ebay from 99p a pop.

Just lay all your yarn out nice and tidy inside the bag. You'll have a deliciously fat, squidgy parcel to start off with.

Friday 28 July 2017

Fibre East Tomorrow ... see you there!

We're off to Fibre East tomorrow. You can find us in the Leicester Marquee. We've got our fingers crossed for nice weather.

Emi's made a Lego sewing machine to bring me luck and celebrate all the sewing I've been doing recently.

Hope to see you there!

Bonny x

Wednesday 9 March 2016

In the pink ...

The weather here in London continues to put on a cold, grey face, but I'm resolutely clinging to the notion that spring must be just around the corner.

Notwithstanding the unseasonal gloom I spent a very happy day yesterday photographing my new collection of organic cotton 4 ply in all the wonderful shades of summer. It's a tricky business taking photos that accurately record the colour of yarn. My favourite place for indoor photography is in our south-facing conservatory, which has wonderful, clear, white light.

Sunday 28 February 2016

knit & stitch it 2016

Thank you to all the lovely ladies who stopped by my stand at knit & stitch it 2016.  It was a treat to meet so many fellow yarn-enthusiasts. And a big thank you to those who bought my wool. I hope it knits up a treat for you.

I had a really interesting couple of days, meeting loads of new people with new takes on life and knitting. I drew enormous inspiration from all of them. Some had great practical tips and ideas to pass on, some had great ways of mixing colours and others were simply great raconteurs with a multitude of stories to share.

So, thank you, everyone, for stopping by and sharing the moment. I had a ball!

All the best for now,

Bonny x

Thursday 11 February 2016

Cosy wool for chilly days ...

It's been really cold here in London, and I've been keeping cosy inside with some lovely new wool. Fancy a peak?

Oh, okay. I'm never hard to persuade when it comes to showing off my yarn collection.
Feast your eyes on my Buttered Caramel: it looks good enough to eat!

Friday 15 January 2016

Ever thought of knitting bamboo?

I know it's not a fibre that people have traditionally used for knitting, but I've just ordered my first own-label consignment of bamboo yarn. It's all very exciting. I wanted to create something for summer in a sustainable fabric. Variegated yarns seem to be very in at the moment, and they also happen to be one of my favourites, so I've worked with a textile mill to produce a limited range of variegated colour-ways for Spring/ Summer 2016.

Sunday 14 June 2015

Swirling rose jug cover ...

Well I'd better 'fess up first: I never actually set out to knit another jug cover. It all started in an idle moment when I was at home on my own, and I wondered whether I could knit a circle using short row shaping. Knitting a circle on four double pin needles is pretty easy, but I'd never tried it with short row shaping. So I set to work, and this is what I produced:

I love the way it swirls out from the centre like a kaleidoscope. My colours were inspired by the sea, so I thought it only fit to embellish everything using a special bead made out of sea glass, beach-combed from our village beach back on Spain's Costa Brava.

It's all really easy. Please read on if you'd like to check out the pattern:

Thursday 11 June 2015

Sea Rose Corsage ...

I've been having a bit of play over here at Talk-a-Lot Towers. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, my roses are blooming and I'm really enjoying the wonderful summer weather. Earlier today, as I was trying to design a rose as decoration for another creation that I'm working on, I came up with this sea rose corsage:

What do you think? In the very centre I've made a bead out of a piece of sea glass, beach-combed from our village beach last summer. It was the inspiration for the sea blue and sand colours that I chose to crochet in - and, hence, the notion of a sea rose.

Just read on for the low-down on how to make one of your own ...

Monday 26 May 2014

Cushion makeover part 4: vertically striped crochet cushion

So how do you like my clutch of cushions?

I'm quite pleased with how they've turned out: a nice combination of stripes and textures in a constrained two-way colour scheme. They're perfect for relaxing on the terrace on mornings like this when the sun forgets to shine and there's just a little bit of a nip in the air.

It's taken me a while, but I've finally finished the last one - the one with the vertical stripes over on the left of the sofa. It's been hard to find the time to crochet recently with all the little bits of nonsense that life's been chucking in my direction.

If you fancy making them you can find the patterns for the others here:

Crochet lime loopy cushion (front left hand side): Loopy cushion

Knitted horizontal striped cushion (back right hand side): Horizontal striped cushion

Crochet Astrakan cushion (front, right hand side):Astrakan cushion

As with all of the other cushion patterns that I've written about, this one is dead easy. I've worked the striped pattern on the front only, and kept the back plain double crochet so that I could bomb through it as quickly as possible.

I used Sirdar's Bonus Chunky wool for all of the cushions, worked with a 5 mm crochet hook so that the work was quite tightly woven. This one took about 150 yards of grey wool, and about 80 yards of lime wool to make.

I started with a cushion that measured 24" x 15" (61 cm x 38 cm).

How to make the front of the cushion:

This striped pattern repeats over 8 stitches, with one stitch for turning. Each stripe is made over 4 stitches. You should start by calculating the number of stitches you need to make the size of cushion you require and then fine-tune that number so that you can work it to a multiple of 8 with the single stitch for turning. It's best to do this by chaining the length that you think will work for the width of your cushion, and then checking after a couple of rows that you've got your calculation right.

I chained 73 stitches, which gave me 18 stripes (plus one stitch for turning). As always I like to knit or crochet covers slightly tight as the fabric will stretch with wear, and if you're not careful you can end up with a sagging cushion that doesn't look great: think Nora Batty's tights.

Row 1: Using the grey wool I worked a row of double crochet stitches (American single crochet stitches), starting with the second chain from the needle (72 doubles in total).

Row 2 (right side row: that is a row with the right side of the work held facing you as you crochet):  I chained 1 stitch to turn, and then worked 4 double crochets into the last 4 double crochets of the first row. With the last of those four stitches, I changed the colour of the wool by not completing the stitch with the grey wool. On the last stage of the stitch, when there were two loops remaining on the needle I drew the lime wool over the needle, and finished the stitch ending with a lime loop on my needle. Then I worked the next 3 stitches in the lime wool, and repeated the process with the grey wool on the fourth stitch.

Let me show you that fourth change-colour stitch with some step-by-step photos:

Insert the needle as normal to work a double crochet stitch ...

... wrap the wool around as normal ...

... and draw it through, so that you have 2 loops on the needle ...

... then take the new colour (the grey wool) and loop it over  ...

... and draw it through ... so that you have only one (grey) loop and you're all set to go with the new colour ...

 ... and then just carry on with the new colour until it's time to change again.

You keep going like this, working four stitches in one colour, and then four in the other until you reach the end of the row. The change-over stitches for this row are easy as the wool will naturally fall on the wrong side of the work, so you don't have to think about where it is.

Row 3: This is a wrong side row: that is a row with the wrong side of the work held facing you as you crochet. This row is a little bit trickier as you have to remember to flip your wool over so that it's carried on the wrong side. It's not a big deal, and you'll soon see that you've made a mistake if you forget. The wrong side, with all the loops of dormant wool that are being carried across, will look like this when you get going:

Anyway for row 3 you need to work one chain to turn, and then 3 double crochet stitches normally.

For the fourth double crochet stitch work insert your needle as normal ...

... throw the wool over and pull it through so that you have two loops left on the needle ...

... and then pick up the new colour wool (grey) from the bottom: do not throw it over the needle in a loop. Instead draw it through the two (lime) loops on the needle, catching it with the hook from below ...

... so that you have only one (grey) loop, and then ...

... flip the old wool (lime) over so that it's lying on the wrong side of the work, facing you. This is really important as you want the loops of dormant wool that aren't in use to be carried on the wrong side of your work. You can see in the photo below how I've pulled the lime wool towards me so that it's going to be carried on the wrong side.

And then you just carry on that like this, changing your wool colour every four stitches until you reach the end of the row.

Carry on repeating rows 2 and 3 until your work measures almost the correct length to fit your cushion. Then work one last row in plain double crochet with the colour that you used in row 1 (grey in my case).

Cast off.

How to make the back of the cushion:

For the back cast on the same number of stitches as you did for the front (73 in my case)

Work a double crochet into the second chain from the needle, and then keep on going all the way across the row (72 double crochet stitches).

Chain one to turn and work another row in double crochet.

Carry on until your work measures the desired length. Then cast off and sew the two sides together.

Ta-dah! You've made a striped cushion.

Now stand back and admire your handiwork,

Bonny x

Thursday 24 April 2014

Loopy cushion: cushion makeover part 3

Isn't it a bore when you get back from holidays? There's always so much laundry and sorting out to be done. And then we've had the lovely rain to welcome us back. Yippee ... so glad I came home (NOT). Still mustn't complain we've got a bank holiday to look forward to the weekend after next, and I'm already making plans for some long, lazy downtime in the country.

And here, at last, is my loopy cushion. It's a pity that I didn't get him finished in Spain. As I've been sewing him up today I'm sure I've smelt the spray from the sea in his stitches. A lot of the work that went into his creation took place on the beach, with the waves breaking at my feet, and Emi and Maxi jumping in and out of the surf like a pair of crazies. Anyway - ta-dah - here he is:

Don't you think he's divinely loopy? I'm planning a contrasting/ matching jacquard bigger brother that he can lean against on my very boring beige sofa back in the sun. He should look good with my first two cushions. Remember them? Here they are:

Astrakan and Striped Cushions
Believe it or not, this little loopy cushion is the exact same colour and shade as the lime contrast in the striped cushion. What a difference the sunshine makes! You can find out how to make these other cushions if you click here:  Astrakan Cushion Pattern and here: Striped Cushion Pattern

I'm building up quite a little cushion family - and I've still got a shed-load of that wool. As I've said before I may well have to resort to knitting myself a matching/ contrasting carpet to use it all up.

As with the other cushions, this one is super easy to make. My cushion measured 21' (54 cm) x 13.5" (34 cm) and I used about 150 yards of Bonus Chunky in shade 0785 to make it. My crochet hook was 5.00 mm/ American size 7.

If you'd like to have a go, here's how to crochet it.

I chained 56 stitches to start off.

Then I worked a first row of double crochet (American single crochet), starting with a double crochet into the second chain from the needle.

At the end of the first row, chain 1 to turn, and work a double crochet (American single crochet) into the last double crochet stitch of the previous row. Now you need to work a loop stitch into every stitch in the row except the last stitch, which should be a normal double crochet. The idea in not working loops to the very end is to make it easier to sew everything together when you're done.

Here's how to do the loop stitch: insert your needle as though you were about to work a normal double crochet stitch, but instead of winding the yarn around your needle, raise your index finger and wind the yarn around your finger to create a loop, then draw both ends of the loop over your needle as though it were a single yarn, and work the double crochet stitch with the double ends of the loop. This will create a loop that falls on the right side of your work. You will work these loop stitches only on wrong side rows.

I've reworked this part as a sample to show you what it should look as you work the loop stitch.

1. Insert the needle as though you were going to work a normal double crochet:

2. Raise your index finger and wrap the yarn around it to make an extravagant loop:

3. Treat the loop as though it were a single strand of wool, and draw both sides of the loop through the double crochet from the last row:

4. You now have both ends of the loop and the normal loop from the last stitch on the needle (let's say that's three loops on the needle). Pass the wool over and draw all three loops through to finish.

5. You will now have a loop worked on the right side of the fabric like so:

With a bit of practice you'll soon have all your loops the same size. And even if you don't it's not the end of the world: it just makes a slightly shaggier looking cushion.

Now back to the cushion: you need to carry on doing loop stitches all the way along the wrong side row, ending with a normal double crochet stitch to make sewing up easier.

The next row, which will be a right side row, is just a row of double crochets, with a single chain for turning.

Keep on going repeating those two rows until your work is the right length to cover your cushion and cast off on a wrong side row so that you have loops all the way to the top of your cushion.

Next work the back of the cushion. Cast on 56 stitches, and work a double crochet into the second stitch from the needle and into each successive stitch across the row.

Work one chain to turn and repeat on the next row.

Keep on going until your back is the same size as your front.

Cast off, sew up and admire your cushion.

Happy Thursday!

Bonny x

Wednesday 26 March 2014

Astrakan cushions: cushion makeover part 1

I have a dilemma. I have a couple of rather boring beige sofas that are very functional and very comfortable, but they lack a certain pizzazz. I mean they're beige for crying out loud - not magnolia or buttermilk or Devon cream - but beige: flat, dull beige with tones of smog-grey.

I've always been committed to not throwing things out if they still have life in them. I've been into up-cycling/ recycling since forever, so chucking them out for something more glamorous is a no-no! It has occurred to me that I could dye the covers, but that's far too risky. These sofas live in our family home in Northern Spain, and I can only imagine what slightly hot bodies, still a bit damp from the swimming pool might do to the dyed cloth in the heat of summer ... . I've got a nasty feeling that my friends and family might find that a lot of the colour had come away on their legs - which would not be a good result for anyone.

So my B-Plan is to inject a little interest with some strategically-chosen scatter cushions. Now, as it happens, I have lorry-loads of scatter cushions - no, honestly, I do. But none of them are appropriately dressed for what I have in mind. Now here's the master plan: I've bought a huge consignment of on-offer, cheap-as-chips, chunky wool in 2 colours, and I plan to knit/crochet my way to a new look with a collection of contrasting but co-ordinating cushion covers.

And here is my first cushion makeover:

Astrakan cushions: cushion makeover part 1
Astrakan cushion

Ta-dah: meet the Astrakan. It's pretty straight-forward to make. I decided to use the more time-consuming astrakan stitch on only one side, and use a plain double crochet that I could bomb through quickly on the reverse side. And this is how the reverse side turned out:

Astrakan cushions: cushion makeover part 1
The reverse side
The texture on the Astrakan side is really, divinely loopy. It sort of invites your fingers to dive in and tease the pile. And the best bit of all is that it's quite easy to do.

My cushion measured 21"/ 54 cm x 13 1/2"/ 34cm to start off with.

Here it is, sitting with its brother, waiting for its new coat on my (super-untidy!) desk.

The only down-side with this little project is that it devours - and I do mean devours - wool. I used about 500 yards of  Hayfield Bonus Chunky to make this little baby, but it has the very best texture you've ever scrunched in your fingers, and it looks like I spent a fortune on it in some la-di-da designer shop.

Anyway if you'd like to give it a go, here's what you need to do to cover a cushion of this size (21"/ 54 cm x 13 1/2"/ 34cm).

1. Using a 5:00 mm (American H/8) crochet hook cast on and chain 59 stitches. If you're working to another size, the trick here is to crochet a chain that is just slightly snug for the length of your cushion as it will stretch a bit with wear. Crochet your chain so that it looks maybe a couple of links short of the right length, and then chain an extra three stitches to turn for the next row.
2. Work a British Treble or an American Half Treble ( i.e. yarn round once, insert hook into the fourth stitch from the hook, yarn over again, draw the yarn through (3 loops on the hook) wrap the yarn over again and draw two loops through (there are 2 loops left on the hook), wrap the yarn over again and draw the last 2 loops through) and then carry on to do a Treble into each stitch in the chain. This should produce a row of 56 Trebles.
3. When you get to the other side do not turn your work around. There are no row-turns in this pattern. You keep the right side facing you at all times. Now chain 7 stitches and link them with a slip stitch to the front loop of the next Treble in the line. When you work your slip stitch you should have the chain up behind you, like in this photograph. Now chain another 7 and do a slip stitch into the next treble and carry on down the line to the last treble. Have a look at these photos to see how I'm placing my needle when I do that slip stitch:

4. Now, to start the next row,  you need to chain 3 and then work a Treble into the back of the slip stitch where the first chain 7 from the last row were joined in. Carry on across the row, working a Treble into the back of each of the 7 chain joining slip stitches. You should have a row of 56 Trebles when you finish.
5. Repeat rows 3 and 4 until the work measures the correct depth for your pillow, finishing on a Treble row which will be tidier and easier to sew up.
6. Cast off, darn in your ends and admire your work. You have finished the front of your cushion cover.

And it just wouldn't be complete without one of my high-tech crochet maps, drawn with the assistance of my super-sophisticated graphite software.

Now it's time to do the back cover for the cushion.

7. Cast on 57 stitches (56 stitches for the length of the cover and one stitch for turning. You need to work out your number if you used a different sized cushion - it will be 2 stitches less than whatever you went with for the front cover).
8. Work a British Double Crochet or American single crochet stitch (hook in, yarn over and pull yarn through the first loop on the needle (2 loops on the needle), yarn over and draw 2 loops through) into the second stitch from the hook. Continue like this all the way along the line, working 56 double crochet stitches in total.
9. Chain 1 stitch to turn, and work a line of another 56 double crochet stitches working into the front loops only of the doubles in the previous row. By only working the stitches through the front loops in this way you will incorporate a slight ridge from the unused back loops of the previous row, which gives the striped/ striated texture that you can see on the reverse side of my cover. Alternatively, if you're not bothered about having this texture, just work the rows of double crochet as normal.
10. Keep going until your back cover is the same size as your front cover. Lay the front cover wrong side down to compare them as it's impossible to see what you're doing with the Astrakan side face up!

11. When you've got the right size, cast off and sew the two sides together with your cushion in the centre.

Ta-dah! You've just made the Astrakan cushion. Stand back and admire your handiwork!

And now I'm off to work out a style for another, bigger cushion to pair with my little Astrakan. I'm thinking stocking stitch stripes of the same grey colour with the acid green might look good.

Watch this space, and I'll let you know how I get on.

All the best,

Bonny x

Thursday 20 March 2014

The perfect spring cowl to wear with a white shirt

I love a classic white shirt. It looks so clean, so crisp and so effortlessly elegant. Know what I mean? And this morning I'm busy dressing up my white shirts with a new made-for-spring scarf/ cowl.

What do you think?

Or, alternatively, it can be worn short with a round-necked T-shirt like this:

It's pretty versatile really, and super easy to make.

 I used about 60 yards of each colour of some left-over wool that I had from another project. Here are my raw materials. The pink, blue, ivory and yellow are Sublime baby cashermere merino silk in 4 ply and the purple is Sublime extra fine merino in 4 ply. They crochet into a lovely, light-weight scarf that's perfect for spring.

 I used a 3.00 mm (which is just a whisker thinner than American size 3 or D)

If you'd like to make one here's how to do it:

  1. Cast on and chain 150 stitches. 
  2. Join with a slip knot to the first stitch in the chain to make a closed circle.
  3. For the first row: chain 4. Work a double treble (English) or a treble (US) into the next stitch to the slip stitch and into each succeeding stitch until you work your way right around the circle to the chain 4 at the beginning. Join with a slip stitch to the 4th chain of the original chain 4. Cast off.
  4. Cast on with a slip stitch in the next colour and repeat row 3.
  5. Carry on, changing colours as you complete each round until your cowl is as wide as you'd like it to be. I worked mine for 11 rows, so that it had the blue that I'd started with at each edge.
  6. Darn in your ends and - ta-dah!- you're done.

It really is the easiest thing to make.

All the best,

Bonny x