Monday, 12 December 2016

super chunky santa hat - free knitting pattern

Everyone needs a good Santa Claus hat at Christmas, and what's better than a hand-knitted one? We are so close to Christmas now, so there isn't a lot of time, but if you need a quick break from gift knitting to finish something quick and satisfying, this is the perfect hat for you. It takes just 150g of super chunky wool so can knit in 2 hours, and a great way to use some of your stash. If you need to buy wool it won't break the bank either.

This hat is knit in the round - suitable for knitters comfortable knitting in the round.

One size - adult

Tension - 9 sts x 13 rows = 10 x 10 cm / 4 x 4 inches in st st 


9mm dpns or circular needles
10mm dpns or circular needles 
100g super chunky yarn - red (pictured, Cygnet Seriously Chunky Mixes - Red)
60-70g super chunky yarn - white (pictured, Cygnet Seriously Chunky - White
Tapestry needle
Large pom pom maker

Finished size - apprx.  42 cm to fit a 56/58cm head (adult)


with 9mm dpns or circular needle, cast on 44 sts in white super chunky wool

Rnds 1 - 8: k1, p1 round

change to red super chunky wool and 10mm dpns or circular needle

Rnds 9 - 18: knit

Rnd 19: K1, *k5, k2tog; rep from * 6 times, k1 (38)

Rnds 20 - 21: knit

Rnd 22: K1, *k4, k2tog; rep from * 6 times, k1 (32)

Rnds 23 - 24: knit

Rnd 25: K1 *k3, k2tog; rep from * 6 times, k1 (26)

Rnds 26 - 27: knit

Rnd 28: K1, *k2, k2tog; rep from * 6 times, k1 (20)

Rnds 29 - 30: knit

Rnd 31: K1, *k1, k2tog; rep from 8 6 times, k1 (14)

Rnds 32 - 33: knit

Rnd 33: k2tog round (7)

cut wool and thread through remaining stitches

pull tightly and fasten off

weave in any ends

with large pom pom maker and white wool, make a pom pom and attach to the top of the hat.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

available now - space invaders hat knitting pattern

Well, it might have taken a tiny bit longer than originally anticipated, but it's finally here! You can now knit your very own Space Invaders hat!

A PDF download pattern is now available to purchase - visit my Ravelry store or my Etsy store to download your pattern.

Or, click the 'buy now' button to the right under the picture of the hat to be taken right to PayPal to download your pattern, no need to sign up to any online shops!

Just in time for Christmas, knit a geeky hat for the video game fan in your life! One size provided for adult size, 2 colour charts and yarn suggestions are provided, but the pattern will knit up to any DK yarn, perfect to use up your stash.

Visit either Ravelry or Etsy for more information, and don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

fo: beau the unicorn

Yarn - ArtesanoMerino Wool DK and various colours from stash
Ravelry page - here

So I've actually made a number of Christmas presents so far this year, but as I am making a few I haven't been able to share them as I finish them, and last year I don't think I ever really showed the gifts as I made them - but I'd really like to this year! 

Here is one of the first gifts I finished this year for one of my best friends; Beau the Unicorn! Beau is the first toy I've made in Merino wool, and not just acrylic. MMMMMM no going back after this I swear.

The pattern for the toy is actually to be found in one of the magazines I now work on - Crochet Now. As a matter of fact, I came across the pattern while in the office and cheekily took it home, because as soon as I saw it I knew who I wanted to make it for! Designed as a baby toy and accompanying blanket, the person I have made this for is by no means a baby - my age, come on - but I am fairly sure she will like the present still! I know I want to keep Beau after all ...

Beau is a really great name for a unicorn, and is the pattern's name so no need to change it I think. I really love how the pattern uses the different colours to compliment the white base. As well as white, five colours are used in total; one for each of the hooves and the horn. These colours make up the mane which looks excellent! The pattern includes a really helpful guide to attaching the main - it's one strand at a time which made me worry it might looks scraggly, but the finished effect is realy good. 

And I'm not just saying that because I work there now, honest!

The tail is just three chained lengths that haven't been straightened out, only worked once along so they curl really nicely - a simple, straightforward effect that uses the different colours to their potential again on the finished piece.

All in all, I am really pleased with this present and he was a lot of fun to make!! As unicorn patterns go this one is one I would recommend to anyone looking.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

who is gary kennedy?

Don't you love falling for a knitting designer who you've just discovered? Spending time (ahem, hours) indulging yourself through their Ravelry page and patterns, picking the ones you want to knit (let's face it, all of them) and the ones you will actually knit (possibly one if you're lucky and have the time) and just feeling really happy that you've finally discovered such a designer?
I recently had this revelation with a knitting designer called Gary Kennedy (Intarsia), who I stumbled across at work, of all places - yes, the perks of working with knitting, woohoo! A reader got in touch looking for this pattern from Gary Kennedy, a Timmy Cushion from issue 18 if you want to know, and after having a look and telling her where she could buy a back copy to access the pattern, I had a look at Gary's Ravelry (hope first names will be ok, much quicker to write!)
(c) Practical Publishing
At first glance, some of the patterns are a little unnerving - just take a look at William - but, if you just scroll down the page, OH MY LAMB my eye's positively bulged out of my head with excitement!


collage of Gary Kennedy (Intarsia) patterns, copyright Patons, Disney, and other publishers. Saved from Ravelry, collated by Jenny Riley
If you browse through Amazon as well, there are more of my absolute favourite cartoons growing up, such as Tom & Jerry and Mighty Mouse to name but a few. EEP I love them all! All of the patterns are, you guess it, Intarisa patterns (what gave it away I wonder) which I'm not good at, but I would learn for the chance to wear an iconic view of Snoopy chilling on his dog house emblazoned across my torso
Imagine, after my wonderous gaze had drank all of this in, my absolute heartbreak to learn that every one of the more amazing pattern leaflets are, unsurprisingly really, out of print. No doubt the copyright was up, plus the likes of Peanuts isn't as big as it used to be (but is still amazing of course nonetheless). So even if I might never knit these patterns, I still absolutely need them just in case you know, of knitting emergencies and what not.

Although out of print, there are plenty of avenues for me to explore; Amazon I've already mentioned, and on Ebay I've found CDs of knitting pattern collections related to these ones, so I think that's a way forward. Talk about retro eh, buying patterns on CD?Give me a PDF download any day.

With Christmas on the horizon, do I need more of an excuse to buy some? I assure you when I buy some for myself you will see them on Instagram. Also, does anyone have any of these leaflets that they don't fancy? Perhaps you have them and you've knitted them - I would LOVE to see them!!!

In the mean time, I will leave you with this fantastic Pink Panther Inspecter Clouseau sweater, knitted by Ravelry user MummyRivett #knittinggoals

(c) Ravelry ID MummyRivett

Thursday, 3 November 2016

fo: georgina the hippo

Yarn: Cygnet DK (black mix) 
Ravelry project page: here
Another friend to sit with me at work, I crocheted Georgina the Hippo over a couple of evenings last month. I've had the pattern collection Edward's Menagerie for a number of years, but I can't believe I have never got round to crocheting something from it! I really can't believe how silly I am, the animals in the book are all so straightforward, but complex enough to add the detail, it's clear what each animal is, and they are all filled with character and sit in a cute way which just makes them perfect. 
I decided to make Georgina purely because I've never made a hippo before. I've made rabbits and bears and all the 'usual' toys, but she is just so perfect and looks the part, and her big tummy and nose are going to look so cute sat on my desk next to skinny and tall Matilda. The nose was constructed really well (or snout, I know not my hippo anatomy). Instead of finishing the section with a gradually decreased round that was sewn together, the head was finished with 18 stitches left in the round, then once stuffed and the yarn thread through each stitch in the round and pulled taught, it made this great, flat surface that was a really effective way of making the hippo! I do love easy, crochet techniques like that which make so many characters, crochet is so versatile. 

Even though I'm not a kid, and I have no friends under the age of 20, I have many plans to make toys from the Menagerie as gifts this Christmas! They make good desk buddies - at least, that's my story and I am sticking to it!

Sunday, 30 October 2016

fo: edward's imaginarium monster; matilda

Pattern: taken from Edward's Imaginarium, by Kerry Lord
Yarn: various stash, including Stylecraft Special DK and Hayfield Bonus DK
Ravelry project page: here

Many crocheters will know, and love, the TOFT patterns such as Edward's Menagerie and just every yummy thing. I always love squishing their yarn at shows, though I must admit I've never brought myself to buying some because it's a touch expensive, but it will happen one day, it's just so squishy!!

The latest work from TOFT and Kerry Lord, is an amazing book called Edward's Imaginarium - a really ingenious design that gives literally endless crochet patterns! The book is a flip book, with each pattern using a basic head and body design, then you can choose head details/admendments, arms, legs, tails, and extras!! The most fun part has to be that the book has flip pages, you can aimlessly flip the pages, creating whatever monster takes your fancy, or use the gallery of around 60 pre-designed creatures at the back to inspire you. Lots of beautiful pictures and great techniques and hints fill the book, making this my new favourite pattern book ever!!

Let me introduce you to my first creation from the book - Matilda. She sits with me, on my desk, at work, and I just love the construction and designs in the book. She is long and thin and a little floppy, which I think are the best toys. I was inspired by Bella in the book, and tried to replicate the lovely long hair. 

I'm not too amazing at attaching or designing hair, so it's not as long as I would have liked. I did add lots of little braids so there is more detail to her, which I really like. I was determined to use 3 colours, but with hindsight I think 2 would have been better. This is something that I will bear in mind when I make another, and I will make so many more! I'm considering hooking 1 tonight, so perhaps a new friend will be shown soon.

Either way, I can't recommend this book enough - it fires the imagination magnificently and is so much fun to flick through. I can't wait to make more! It's also got me back on Edward's Menagerie and I might have a new friend from that collection to show to  you as well! :)


Sunday, 23 October 2016

fo: totoro brick jumper

Pattern: Brick Jumper
Yarn: Women's Institute Soft and Smooth (Aran in colours biscuit and purple)
Ravelry project page: here
A few years ago, not long after I first learnt to knit, I wanted to knit a Totoro jumper for myself; I found a free jumper pattern online, I had just enough white wool from mum's stash that I could knit it, and I even used a free online cross stitch chart to design the (what I now realise should have been an instaria) chart to knit the picture!
I knit it all up - but bear in mind, as a beginner I had no concept of tension or how to knit colourwork, nor did I try anything on, so when I finished the jumper turned out to be 3 sizes too small - doh! In the end, it wasn't wasted at least and it did become a cushion cover.

Flash forward to a couple of month's ago, and I was ready to try again! There is a lovely yoke jumper design that I'd like to knit one day wasn't up to my tension this time (see, I'm learning!) so instead I pulled one together myself. I had saved this pattern on Pinterest a long time ago, and it's a lovely regular shape that I liked.
Once I'd familiarised myself with the jumper pattern, which is knit top-down in-the-round, I worked out the length I would need to get to to start incorporating this straightforward but very clear Totoro chart. It was a simple enough repeat that I could knit it in fair isle while it being quite obvious who the character was.
I really liked the little details on the existing chart, which was originally designed for mittens and accessories, and I didn't want to lose this if I could so I included it on the sleeves, which carries the design and colour changes quite nicely throughout the jumper.It also softens the colour switches between the main jumper and the cuffs. 
I don't think it was needed on the collar however, and I really like the scoop neck - that's one of my favourite collars on jumpers and tops, soft and flattering. I just bought a plain, large jumper from H&M which I'm going to have a go at replicating with some yarn I bought last year *looks sheepish* :)

The yarn is 100% acrylic, which I know I know might not be ideal, but I do love the colours and it's incredibly soft, easy to wash, and very affordable; £10 for 500g, plus Hobbycraft always have 3 for 2 on yarn, so I bought 1500g for £20, and I have PLENTY left over for much more knitting. 

All in all I am delighted with the jumper! I haven't had a chance to wear it out yet, but it is definitely getting cold enough that I can, and I am pretty excited to crack it out for work :) When I do wear it out, I will be sure to share some more pictres, because I wasn't very happy with this 'shoot' (sorry Ben, I know you're not a professional and thank you for taking the pictures!). Also, my hair was very faded here and I have since re-dyed it in a much deeper, glossy purple yum yum. 

But I digress, I am delighted to finally have the Totoro jumper that I wanted, and I hope to be able to wear it over and over! What I really need to do now, is to get to grips with double knitting so I can make these Totoro mittens; it's only a matter of time. I am actually in full Christmas present knitting mode now though however, woohoo, but I am still going to share my project updates as I am finished, because no-one knows what they are getting :) spoiler alert - no blankets this year however.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Yarndale reflections

Last month I attended my first ever Yarndale. For those who don't know - though I'm pretty certain that a lot of you reading this, do know - Yarndale is a festival/show/exhibition/convention of all sort of yarny goodness, think knitting and crochet and spinning, as well as lacemaking and weaving and just about anything you can think of to do with yarn (I spotted one or two sewing stalls too, but these were outliers, and we don't need to talk about them). Held at Skipton Auction Mart in Yorkshire it's a show that I've heard of and read about for a few years and had always fancied going to. And now that I work on a knitting magazine (!) I was asked if I would like to go to meet some of the people I will/should be in touch with in my role as editorial assistant. YES PLEASE.

Basically, the show was the best craft show that I've ever been to yet, and I can't wait to go again next year (because, let's face it, I have to). You can read more about the show on it's website, while I'm just going to take you on a bit of a whirlwind picture tour of the day! First, let's go in ...

Well, what a welcome to a knitting show. An ice cream truck, converted to a 'finger puppet truck', completely yarnbombed, was parked just outside the entrance door, while bollards were cheerfully yarned-up with all sorts of characters. My favourites were the cute amigurumi weather characters and also the bumblebee collection. There was also a rather busty and booty-ed knitted lady in a bikini, but I didn't get a great picture of her! Shame, I know.

Mandalas were hung from the tree branches and were very pleasant to watch swaying in the wind when we later sat outside and had a picnic for lunch. I know that Lucy from Attic 24 had a hand in designing and making some, if not all, of these mandalas. I'm sorry to say that I didn't have a chance to walk along the lovely, blue knitted walkway, but rest assured this was allowed (no shoes please) and some clever clogs sat on there at lunch time as well - pre-installed blanket; love it. Well, technically it was a knitted canal, contributed by a knitting group to celebrate the 200th birthday of the Liverpool and Leeds canals; read more about that here.

You can tell that this was a show that really, truly cares and is passionate about all things yarn. There were thousands of knitted bunting, not only draped in the entry hall, but all along the walls of stalls and dotted within the main showroom (auction den!) itself. It was really a delight to see and this room was my favourite. I couldn't walk through it without a huge smile on my face and now I really must fill the ceiling of my craft room (when I have one) with similar, colourful bunting.

There was such a deluge of colour on most every stall, it was such a delight to feast my senses on! Just yarn yarn, beautiful yarn all over the show(!) - everything that was on offer was a little more expensive and luxurious that I am used to buying and using, but in a way that was one of the best bits of the show. For one thing, it meant I couldn't spend silly amounts of money because I really had to consider what I wanted, what I could afford, and how much I would need to complete a project. For another, there were yarns from independent dyers that I really would never have come across if I hadn't found them at the show. I was also introduced to these 'sushi rolls' which you can see in the picture directly above this. These are skeins of yarn that are pre-knitted, but not finished, because you can then unravel them while you knit the yarn into the project that you want to make! That is just an AMAZING concept. My mind was blown.

We stopped for a 2 hour lunch, which was a wonderful picnic sat outside, knitting, chatting and eating and just chilling out. It was a very busy show so this was a welcome break, and it also gave me time to just absorb everything that I had seen in the morning while I decided what it was that I wanted to buy - because I just couldn't leave the show empty handed ...

What I really wanted to buy was the yarn to make this large adorable toy from TOFT, featured in the latest book from Kerry Lord, Edward's Imaginarium (Christmas gift idea, anyone?). TOFT yarn is beautiful but I blanched at the cost to make this guy (£90+ EEK) so unfortunately I had to move on. I opted instead for a nice balance; I've recently taken to sock knitting, so I bought some luxurious sock yarn from CoopKnits, and also some budget DROPS sock yarn from another stall - Christmas knitting is beginning in earnest. A pair of KnitPro circulars rounded off my day very nicely, thank you very much.

There was so much more on offer at the show, including workshops and knit & knatter groups, but I didn't really partake in these, and its more of an excuse for you to visit with me next year, what do you say? I really can't say enough how much I loved Yarndale, and if you went along this year I hope you felt the same!

Saturday, 1 October 2016

fo: bobble hat

Pattern - Bobble hat, from Knitting with Giant Needles (DK)
Yarn used - Phildar Shoot (discontinued, from mum's old stash!)
Ravelry project page - here

Good Saturday morn everyone! Today I bring you a quick knit that I cast on with Katy a couple of weeks ago, and I finished in a couple of hours - always an incredibly satisfying feeling!

Using a nice, chunky wool that I've had for years ever since raiding mum's collection of wool, this hat was knit up on 7mm needles. The construction of the hat, if you can see in the picture, was worked in a different direction to the usual. It was knit horizontally rather than vertically - which I really rather enjoyed! Short rows in garter stitch was all that was needed to shape the hat and define the hat band which was pretty ingenious, and it was only repeated over 6 rows so after a few goes I didn't need to consult the pattern again. Once it was knit to the correct width, it was just a case of casting off and sewing up the seam.

Like I said, the yarn I used was pretty old and so it was a touch scratchy as a result, however the colour came out as this wonderful, deep purple as I was knitting - even though in the ball it looked closer to navy. It was quite a pleasant surprise, particularly as I've recently dyed my hair purple so it goes rather nicely! It fits nice and snugly on my head and is bound to keep my head warm, if ever this weather turns cooler.

I opted for a contrasting pom pom, using a pink from the same Phildar stash that I have. Perhaps a little more pink than I would usually wear, I think they go pretty well and I was particularly keen to keep to the same brand of yarn, which I don't usually do when knitting from my stash, always resulting in mixed up tensions across projects. I know I know, tension isn't exactly important in a pom pom, but it's the thought that counts, eh?

The book that I knit the hat from is one I got for Katy for Christmas last year (I think?) - she is a beginner knitter so Knitting with Giant Needles (DK) was a great find; fast, easy projects to get stuck into and get used to knitting. Katy also cast on the hat in a lovely turquoise, though I rather took off in my knitting speed :) anyway, I can't wait to see Katy's finished hat and then we can go out on matching hat sister dates! Hehe.

Look out for a look at Yarndale, coming soon to the blog :)

Sunday, 25 September 2016

fo: knitted nick

Pattern - Basic Crochet Doll Pattern by LisaAuch, clothing and details my own design
Yarn- various stash

Ravelry project page -  here
Hello strangers, I'm back on track, fresh from my first ever Yarndale yesterday! Talk about an amazing, inspiring show which has buoyed me into casting on 2 new projects, even though I'm part way through 4 already! But I'm going to save this for another blog post because today, I would love to introduce you to Knitted Nick here. 
Nick was commissioned by my lovely politics teacher from college, who I keep in touch with over Facebook and what not. The head of politics and sociology (I think, don't quote me!), who was also a great ex-teacher of mine, retired last year and I don't believe a formal replacement was hired. So, partly as a joke, I was asked to knit a replacement, to watch over the kids (well, students, they are 16+ after all) and bish, bash, bosh, here he is. 
It took me a surprisingly long time to find a basic crochet doll pattern that I liked, but in the end I settled on this one. I really enjoyed how it came together - the construction is very similar to how I designed my Spiderman doll, maybe that's why. And the size is a really good one, so much so that I rather want to make another one myself but not sure who, perhaps Wonder Woman or Supergirl? 
But I digress. Once the body was crocheted, I knit up some trousers and shirt, muddling through and making it up as I went along - the beauty of knitting, eh? I just made some basic clothes-like shapes and sewed them up to scratch, which seemed to work. Pretty well, actually. I am particularly delighted with how the trousers look, the knit stitches just adding a little definition and variety of texture to the doll. They were waaay too big when finished, but a trim here and a new seam there and it was no problem really.
I had these great ideas of how the hair would look, and I like putting in long hair on dolls because I think yarn hair looks so cool. But I've never done short hair before and the idea of sewing it on as above was straightforward enough. It perhaps doesn't look as great as it could have, but (from a distance) it looks pretty good. 
Over all, I'm really pleased with Nick (the name of said, now retired, politics teacher) and Will (latest teacher) was happy with him too! I really can't wait to have a go at another doll, I'm feeling female super hero or leading lady, perhap Xena Warrior Princess? GUYS - give me ideas? :)

Who should I crochet next?