Revamping

The make over of my foot stool is finished!! I’m over the moon how it turned out. I had this image in my head of what I wanted it to be and I have to say it looks way better, (please excuse the ugly before pic, it was taken in the garden just before sanding the legs).

Before
After

I don’t remember how I came about to own this stool, I just remember having it for years. It has a beautiful shape, but it has seen better days. I always said I will give it a makeover and after finding all those little squares in my stash it seemed like the perfect time.

Yes, those perfect little squares. I crocheted them out of tapestry wool, which I got few years ago when John Lewis was discontinuing Anchor, and I was able to purchase them at 10p each! It was an incredible bargain. I originally wrote a blog on making them and included the pattern for the little squares, find the blog here.

All those gorgeous colours and my Brick of course 🙂

My initial idea was to make them into a shawl with grey yarn for the joining and edging, but the truth be told when I was laying it out, the wow factor wasn’t coming. It was just too busy for a shawl for me, I would never wear it, because I was only able to make three squares out of each hank of tapestry wool, achieving a true gradient effect wasn’t really an option. They went into my stash to be forgotten about for a long while, just to be rediscovered when I was sorting it out. I’m determined to finish all the small projects and use up all the yarn in my stash, so I couldn’t let them go back in again. It’s a good job too, as I had almost the perfect amount of them, only few squares left over after creating the cover, it was clearly meant to be.

Ollie was determined to help when I was organising them for a shawl.

I started the revamp with sanding down the legs and taking out the metal leg tips. They were only left on two of the legs and one was broken. I’ll get new leg tips in silver, when I get the chance. The little nails holding the tips in came out easily with pliers. I used coarse sand paper to sand them down, no particular reason, it’s the only one we had at home.

Reading about painting furniture now, they say you have to use primer, paint, then top coat. I did none of that, because I didn’t know. What I used is a little pot of furniture paint that I found in B&Q when Dave and I went there to get some gardening materials. They have it in fab range of colours and it’s perfect for small projects. It’s called Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch and I’ve chosen the Dark Grey colour.

I gave the legs four coats, and they look fantastic!!

I decided to keep the outer cover, I never reupholstered anything and was too afraid to start now. Also, didn’t see the point in taking it off, it’s undamaged and I didn’t have any suitable furnishing fabric to replace it anyway. The fabric I had the most of in my stash was cotton/linen mix, not very durable, but the stool never was in use much and it will be covered in crochet squares anyway.

Using my trusty staple gun I folded and stapled away. I just couldn’t get the corner nice and tight. Still, it will be covered and I do love the natural colour of the fabric with the grey legs.

Then I started on the squares. After playing with them for ages, I settled for placing them in diamond shape, that way I was still able to create slightly gradient effect. Also, placing them this way ensured that I was able to fold them nicely around corners without any bulk.

I used Flat Slip Stitch method to join them. You can find the tutorial for this technique here.

After pinning the corners, I joined them with Flat Slip Stitch as well.

I used needle and thread to sew each point to the fabric and along the triangle on the sides, just to keep it in place.

Then the final bit was attaching the upholstery nail stud strips which I purchased from BST Fabrics along with nails. Just the legs tips to go and the transformation will be fully complete.

I’m absolutely delighted with how it looks, I love it!! It will have a pride of place in the house now. Well, Ollie has claimed it as his own now, so we can’t even use it 🙂 Even poor Brick doesn’t get a chance to try it out.

Anna xx

Provisional cast on – Diamond Haven Blanket


Diamond Haven Blanket 
I was very honoured to be asked by Love Knitting to design a blanket for the Breast Cancer Haven. It is an amazing charity that supports women through their breast cancer treatment. When breast cancer tries to rob a woman of her individuality, her confidence or her strength, they provide the tailored package of emotional, physical and practical support that helps her hold on to them.

The blanket is modelled by service user Alexia: “At first I wasn’t able to talk to other people about my diagnosis, but through my time at Breast Cancer Haven, I’ve realised how important it is to connect with others. Breast Cancer Haven is a special place and a great support network, it’s given me support to love and care for my mind and my body. They also gave me the tools and confidence to discuss my diagnosis and treatment with others.”

All proceeds from the sales of this pattern will be donated to Breast Cancer Haven in support of the The Big Tea Cosy, which takes place March 1-31, 2018, and raises money and awareness for Breast Cancer Haven. If you’d like to donate your project, you can send it to Haven’s London centre where they will be gifted to breast cancer visitors. 
Download your free message tag, and find the address here
You can purchase the pattern for the DiamondHaven Blanket on Love Knitting, please click here
When designing the blanket, I wanted the making of the project to be easily portable, so the maker can take it along and work on trains, planes and buses! Of course, It had to be soft to bring comfort so MillaMia Naturally Soft Aran yarn was the perfect choice as it’s insanely soft, and it comes in a beautiful range of colours. I have chosen greys and yellow, as I’m slightly obsessed with this colour combination and yellow is a very happy colour, symbolising sunshine and happy times, hoping it will bring comfort to a person going through very tough time. 
The blanket is constructed out of individual squares which are then joined together. There are two types of squares, one plain stocking stitch and one lacy. Each square is knitted from the centre out, which gives the makers full control of how large you would like the squares to be.  Garter stitch border finishes each square in one colour, when the squares are joined together this gives a lovely definition to the centre of each square.

The squares are knitted from centre, which means you will work using 5 double pointed needles (DPN) and start with provisional cast on. I have created a little tutorial below to help you get started.
There are many techniques out there how to work a provisional cast on, I want to show you one that I use the most and this method requires a crochet hook.
Provisional cast on is a way of making a temporary cast on, one that can be easily removed and will give you live stitches on your needles so you can continue to knit, unravel or cast off. It is especially useful when starting the squares of this blanket as you can just pick up the live stitches while unpicking the crochet edge and gather them tight to close up the centre of the square.
The blanked is knitted using 5 x 5mm (US 8) DPNs, you will need 5.50mm (US I/9) crochet hook, scissors and tapestry needle, main yarn for the square and waste yarn in contrasting colour. I use a hook a bit bigger than the needles as I want to make bigger chains for ease of working into them.
1: Using the waste yarn in contrasting colour (so you can see it when you unpick at the end) make 10 chains, I always like to make 2 more chains than the number of stitches needed for my project, few extra chains just in case. Cut the waste yarn and pull it through last chain to secure. 
 If you look at the right side of your chains you will have a row of Vs, if you look at the wrong side you will see a row of ‘bumps’, we will work into these bumps.
2, 3 & 4: Using the yarn and one DPN that you will use for your project, leaving a tail of around 15 cm (6”), pick up and knit a stitch in the ‘bump’ of each chain until you have 8 sts. 

5 & 6: Separate the stitches onto 4 DPNs, you will have 2 sts on each needle. 

7 & 8: Using the 5th DPN start working in the pattern, until you reach a good size to comfortably unpick the provisional cast on or until you finish the square. 
TIP: When you knit few rows place a marker to denote the beginning or round.  I found it very useful to pin a lockable marker into the beginning few rows of my work, as working on DPNs and placing the marker on the needle causes it to fall off constantly (pic 8).

9: When you are ready to unpick your provisional cast on, thread your main yarn tail through a tapestry needle.
10: With right side facing and using the tapestry needle unpick the knot you made at the end of your chain. 
 
11: Carefully pulling on the tail, unravel one stitch at the time, as each stitch becomes free, slip it on the tapestry needle. 
12 & 13: Once all the chains have been removed you have lovely live stitches on your tapestry needle.
Pull tight on the tail to close up the opening. 

14: Push the tapestry needle to the wrong side of work and weave in the tail around the centre to secure.
15: Hey presto! One square finished with a lovely neat centre. 
Hope you all enjoy knitting the blanket and helping such a worthy cause. 
Anna x


Love in Every Stitch – blanket


I’m delighted to announce that the ‘Love in Every Stitch’ blanket is now live on my website. 
When designing this blanket, I wanted the maker to be able to customise it to reflect themselves or the person they are making the blanket for. To be in full control of the size and be able to choose colours to suit the person, mood or soundings.
This blanket has a fantastic corner-to-corner construction, which gives you full control of how large you would like it to be. It can be made into a cot blanket, sofa, lap, double or single bed all you have to do is repeat the increase pattern repeats until you reach the desired size, then start decreasing until the end and you will produce a beautiful square blanket. The slip stitch pattern is easy to memorise and it complements the garter stitch border, not to mention that it shows up beautifully when worked in colour. The blanket is completely reversible; it looks equally stunning on both sides.

In the pattern, you will also find where to find inspiration for colour: mood, weather, name or even month of birth, this is where I took the inspiration for the two blankets. 
The smaller blanket is knitted in Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK and is made for the cutest little girl called Ella who was born in April.
The colours of the name Ella are blue, green and pink. The colours of April are yellow, red, white
I decided to get rid of the red as I thought it was too strong for a baby, but I stuck with all the others and added few complementary ones. 
The bigger blanket, knitted in Rowan Pure Wool Worsted, is for a beautiful young lady called Sukie who is 8 years old. Of course, Sukie is at that age that I can just simply ask what colours she likes, however I still wanted to combine the colours of her birth month, May, which are yellow, red and green. I have chosen green to go with Sukie’s chosen colours. 
In both blankets, I’ve chosen cream as the complementary colour throughout, but please experiment with colour and see what combination you like best. I’m planning on knitting one with just grey and mustard.
However many colours you choose for your blanket, make sure you carry the yarn up the work with you and not cutting and weaving in at every colour change. You can carry yarn up 4 rows, any more than that will cause the yarn to form loops on the edges.
It’s important to get the edges nice and neat when taking the yarn with you. I have found the method below the best for producing neat edge. 
Don’t cut the yarn every time you switch colours, just run the colour you’re not using along the side of your blanket. 
  • Just keep picking up the different colours as you alternate (fig. 1).
  • Do this neatly so it will barely show, just pick up the yarn to be worked next from behind the other strand (fig. 2).
 Fig. 1
Fig. 2
You will find the pattern for ‘Love in Every Stitch’ on:

Happy knitting, 
Anna x

Double yarn overs


This tutorial is to support my new design, Essie shawl, which uses double yarn over in the lace section.

We have all probably encountered a single yarn over at some point, they are used in lace or to make button holes, you simply bring the yarn forward and knit the next stitch with the yarn going over the needle thus creating an eyelet. They are usually abbreviated as yo, yfwd, yf. Double yarn overs are the same thing just…well, doubled, which produces a larger eyelet. They are supper easy to make but the trick is to work back on them correctly. They are usually abbreviated as yoyo or yo (x 2). 
To make a double yarn over
Bring the yarn forward in-between the needles, then wrap around the needle once more, then knit the next stitch as normal.

Working back on yarn overs 

Normally, you would treat yarn over as a standard stitch and purl or knit it, but you can’t do that with double yarn over. If you purl or knit both strands you will end up with one super large eyelet, so you have to either purl the first stitch and knit the second or vice versa. What I recommend you do in Essie is purl the first stitch and knit the second through back loop.

  • Purl the first stitch as normal, be very careful the second stitch does not jump off the needle.
  • Take your yarn to the back of work in-between the needles.
  • Knit the second stitch through back loop.
  • Bring your yarn to the front of work in-between needles and continue to work on the rest of your stitches.

     
  

Hey presto! Double yarn over completed 😊
 

Essie is now abvailable on:

Enjoy,
Anna x

Tutorials

I have been busy bee creating and adding some new tutorialsto the website.
They are about how to thread a bead onto yarn and how to work a bead into double crochet, half treble and treble (US sc, hdc, dc). 
Adding beads to your crochet is a wonderful and simple way to add new dimensions to your work. The embellishments can stand alone or be incorporated into the fabric. 
The tutorials are especially very useful for those who are making or planning on making any of the purses which include beads from my book – 20 To Make; Crochet Purses.
The book contains 4 purses that require beads: Olivia, Watermelon, Isla and Isabel.
All the beads are size 6 and I got them from DebbieAbrahams online shop. 
I have also grouped all tutorial together which are useful when making purses from my book, such as: cross stitching on crochet, magic loop and so on. 
They are all available on the tutorial page on my website- click here.
Also, don’t forget on my website there is also a list of all the purse clasps used in the book with links where to purchase them.
Anna xx

Busy, busy…..


Uuuufffff….It has been crazy busy the past few days. Between going to work, prepping and teaching workshops, knitting and crocheting design like mad trying to meet deadlines, I also have been updating my website and few patterns.


The biggest changes happened to two patterns:


‘Seaside’ shawl – Due to a very popular request; I have added a picture tutorial to the pattern, on how to join the motifs together; I think it really helps to illustrate the written instructions.

The new updated version has been uploaded and updates have been sent to all that purchased the pattern, they should be all waiting for you in your inboxes.
  

‘In Bloom’ corsage – Again, a picture tutorial added to simplify a technique used in the pattern. As before; new pattern uploaded and new updates sent. Also added a smaller version of the corsage to the pattern.


I have also been adding new tutorials to the support page on my website. I have just added picture tutorial on how to make a Magic Loop in crochet or Adjustable Ring as it’s also known. There are lots of useful things on that page, such as full lists of knitting and crochet abbreviations, a few tutorials and so on, hoping to add needles and hooks conversion chart next week, check it out here.

One more thing….. The Wool Week Cowl I have designed for Wool Week Celebrations in 2012 is now available as a free download, get it here.
Anna x
 

All about crochet hooks


As a crochet tutor the question I get asked the most is: what is the right way to hold the hook? Well, there isn’t one, the right way to hold a hook is the way it’s most comfortable for you.  However, it’s good to consider that the way you hold your hook depends on lots of factors: your muscle memory, the length of your fingers and shape of your hands. Before we explore ways of holding the hook, let’s familiarise ourselves with it first.
Point – This part of the hook is inserted into stitches, allowing it to easily slide into stitches you are working on. The point can range from very pointy to rounded.
Hook – used to hook the yarn and draw it through loops of yarn
Throat – shaped area that helps to slide stitch up onto the next part of the crochet hook
Shaft – part of the hook that the loop rests on while you are crocheting. This part of the hook determines the size of your stitches.
Thumb rest – indentation that allows you to rest your thumb on the hook.
Handle – The handle is the part of the hook that you’ll hold while crocheting
Let’s look at the two most common ways to hold a hook:
Knife Method – exactly as it sounds, you hold the crochet hook as you would hold a knife. Your hand will grip over the hook with the handle resting against the palm of your hand and your thumb, index finger and middle finger grasping the thumb rest.
Pencil Method – hold the hook as you would hold a pencil, your thumb and index griping the thumb-rest, middle finger closer to the shaft, and the handle is resting on the fleshy area above your index finger. 
I hold my hook like a knife. This is the way I have been taught by my mum as a child, when I picked up crochet hook again after years it was this way I instinctively held it. 
The way you hold your hook and yarn is completely your choice, as long as your stitches look as they should. However, if after a bit of crocheting your hands, arms or back start hurting then it is time to explore different ways. Why don’t you experiment with the two different ways and see which one suit you best. 

Crochet hooks come in many different types and sizes. They are usually made out of:
Steel – come in the smallest sizes and are often used in fine thread.
Aluminium – come in broad range of sizes. Suitable for most fibres, allowing for smooth and quick crocheting.
Plastic – available in all the common sizes as well as jumbo hooks. Usually made out of hollow plastic.
Wood or Bamboo – available in all but the smallest and jumbo sizes. Lightweight and very good on your hands. Do avoid the smallest sizes with blunt points when you are working with thin yarns, as they do not pass easily through stitches.
I choose a hook depending on which fibre I want to crochet with. Fine steel hooks are perfect for crocheting fine intricate lace, like doilies and are perfect for working with fine cotton.
I always found wooden hooks perfect for working with alpaca yarns, mohair and silk,  and aluminium ones for wool, cottons and most other fibres.
Do apologise for the scratches on my hands, this is how my cats show me they love me 😛
Anna x