Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Dear Ewe

It's a clever name, isn't it?


Rebecca and Heather

I was obviously thrilled when Heather and Rebecca from Dear Ewe offered a giveaway prize for our Christmas edition of CrochetZine*


I was even MORE thrilled when they asked if I would like to be sent some of their goodies for a blog review. 'Errrrrrrrrr, yes please!' was my rather-instant reply. You see, I'd been eyeing up several of their products for a while.

Heather is the award-winning crochet designer behind the blog, Keep Calm and Crochet On and her designs feature regularly in the UK's top crochet magazines. Rebecca is the talented graphic designer of Keepsakes by Rebecca and together, they are the creative team behind their new brand, Dear Ewe.

Their concept is sound - creating high quality, contemporary and functional gifts for crafters and their ethos is resonant with modern, small business consumers. Rebecca and Heather say:

We're proud to live in Stoke-on-Trent (affectionately known as The Potteries) - officially recognised as the World Capital of Ceramics, so felt strongly about using locally produced fine bone china, that is hand decorated by skilled lithographers. Our textiles are all hand-finished locally too - sourcing our products close to home and supporting local business owners and our local community was something we were both very keen to do.

What a good thing to hear.

So now, on to the goodies!!!! First out of my box was THIS tote bag:


This is a pic from their website - I wanted to show it without my creases!

I LOVE the sentiment. I LOVE the size (perfect for shopping - am thinking Yarndale-type-festival-binge - it will hold a tonne of purchases - see top pic). OR it will be great as a very ample-sized project bag - jumpers, blankets, cushions etc. AND it's very good quality: I have plenty of project bags which are a bit on the flimsy side - this one is nice, thick cotton and will stand up on its own. All good in my book.

Next are the prop cards:



For anyone who hasn't seen these before, they are used by us Instagrammers and Bloggers as a photo prop beside a project - they can provide a little humour to a picture and help engage the reader. 
What I really like is obviously the design - black and white work with every colour scheme and the text is easy to read and clear in photos. The phrases themselves are cute and relevant to modern makers. Lastly, the quality is perfect - good, thick card (so will last me a while) and EVEN better - double-sided!! What a great idea - twice the fun.


Then there are the cards:



Simple, sweet and very, very cute. I am already planning who to give these to, and then changing my mind because I don't want to give them away!!! Again - sweet sentiments, great design and good quality. They made me smile as soon as I opened them.


Lastly, the one I have been VERY excited about;

It's a Granny Square Chart on a MUG!


The crochet chart mug!!!!! Isn't is FAB????!!!! I seriously have no words. Design and quality are superb. There are 4 different crochet chart mugs, 4 character mugs and 4 crafter mugs to choose from.


So what would be my verdict? I'm hoping you've already got the general idea - I am seriously impressed. Great quality, superb design and original ideas make the Dear Ewe products something I will be buying for my crafty friends.

AAAAAAND, 'cos they're super-nice and lovely, Rebecca and Heather have offered you, my lovely readers an exclusive 10% discount code to use on your order up until 24th December 2018: just use ANNABOOANDEWE at checkout! If you order before Dec 20th 2018, they'll also guarantee UK Christmas delivery, too!!

Happy Christmas to you all,

Sarah xx

*Instagram's first crochet magazine; 12 squares of crochet loveliness delivered every month to your IG screen.

These items were received as a gift in return for an honest review on my blog. All views and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Colour-Blend c2c cushion - The Stylecraft Blog Tour 2018

It's that time of year!


The Stylecraft Blogstars are on tour again, this time showcasing the FABULOUS Bellissima yarn.



Now, some of you might have worked with Stylecraft's Bambino yarns before - a sweet range of pastel colours with a soft, merino-feel. Bellissima is the same yarn texture, but in some seriously vibrant  colours. For the Blogtour, the Stylecraft team created two colour-packs:





Now I cannot take much credit for the idea behind my design - it was one of my fellow Blogstars, Helen Shrimpton (no relation - well actually, we probably are related somewhere along the line, but that's a whole other story ..) who suggested that I work with two strands of yarn held together and tried blending different colours. So thanks to Helen, that's exactly what I did to make the Colour-Blend c2c Cushion:



Want to make one? (Instructions for c2c are below the pattern)

You'll need:
Autumn Leaves Yarn pack (or 5 x 100g balls Bellissima / Bambino)
6mm hook
Pompom maker (optional)
40cm cushion insert

Side One
1. Working with 2 strands of Ash Rose, make four rows of increasing c2c.
2. Working with 1 strand of Ash Rose and 1 strand of Rio Red, make four rows of increasing c2c.
3. Working with 2 strands of Rio Red make four rows of increasing c2c.
4. Working with 1 strand of Rio Red and 1 strand of Single Cream, make four rows of increasing c2c.
5. Working with 2 strands of Single Cream make three rows of increasing c2c.
6. Working with 2 strands of Single Cream make two rows of decreasing c2c.
7. Working with 1 strand of Single Cream and 1 strand of Sugar Snap, make four rows of decreasing c2c.
8. Working with 2 strands of Sugar Snap make four rows of decreasing c2c.
9. Working with 1 strand of Sugar Snap and 1 strand of Mellow Yellow, make four rows of decreasing c2c.
10. Working with 2 strands of Mellow Yellow, make four rows of decreasing c2c.




Side Two
1. Working with 2 strands of Single Cream, make four rows of increasing c2c.
2. Working with 1 strand of Single Cream and 1 strand of Ash Rose, make four rows of increasing c2c.
3. Working with 2 strands of Ash Rose make four rows of increasing c2c.
4. Working with 1 strand of Ash Rose and 1 strand of Mellow Yellow, make four rows of increasing c2c.
5. Working with 2 strands of Mellow Yellow make three rows of increasing c2c.
6. Working with 2 strands of Mellow Yellow make two rows of decreasing c2c.
7.. Working with 1 strand of Mellow Yellow and 1 strand of Sugar Snap, make four rows of decreasing c2c.
8. Working with 2 strands of Sugar Snap make four rows of decreasing c2c.
9. Working with 1 strand of Sugar Snap and 1 strand of Rio Red, make four rows of decreasing c2c.
10. Working with 2 strands of Rio Red, make four rows of decreasing c2c.

To Join
With WS of cushions facing and working with 2 strands of Sugar Snap, make 1dc around the edges, and 1dc, 2ch, 1dc in each corner.
Fasten off.

Make pompoms with your remaining yarn and attach to the corners!

To make the c2c stitch [increasing] (UK terms - tr = dc in US terms):

Row 1: 6ch, 1tr in 4th ch from hook, 1tr in each of next two ch, turn.
Row 2: 6ch, 1tr in 4th ch from hook, 1tr in each of next two ch, sl st into 3ch, 3ch, 3tr in 3ch-sp, turn.
Row 3: 6ch, 1tr in 4th ch from hook, 1tr in each of next two ch, *sl st into 3ch-sp, 3ch, 3tr in 3ch-sp; rep from * across row, turn. 
Rows 4 onwards: Repeat row 3. 


To make the c2c stitch [decreasing] (UK terms - tr = dc in US terms):

At the end of the row, do not 6ch, but sl st across each of the 3tr you have just made.
3ch, 3tr in 3ch of block just completed, *sl st into 3ch-sp, 3ch, 3tr in 3ch-sp; rep from * across row, turn.

For a brilliant YouTube Tutorial see Bella Coco's here.

Hope you enjoy making the cushion! Find the complete list of blogstars taking part here and make sure you check out Kathryn at Crafternoon Treats' blog tomorrow for her day of the tour.

And of course, here's the link for the giveaway - it's live from 10am GMT today (9th Oct) until 10am tomorrow!! 



a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good Luck!
Sarah xx

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Cutest Crochet Creations - A book review and GIVEAWAY!!

Autumn seems to be book review season for me...

*** GIVEAWAY CLOSED ***

But you won't hear me complaining. This is the second book I've been lucky enough to receive to review - and I must tell you, it's a cracker!!




Alison North is someone I've known for aaaaaages on Instagram, under her name of @KornflakeStew and she is an amazingly talented amigurumi designer. For the last few years, her sweet little creations have been flying off her hook and into her Etsy shop but now, you can find a whole new selection of cute characters in her new book, 'Cutest Crochet Creations'.

I really like the book - not just because the patterns are sooooo sweet, but because it's put together in an easy-to-follow format, which is perfect for new and experienced crocheters alike:




The first section covers everything you'll need - materials, yarn and accessories - and then describes all the basic stitches with illustrations to help. Alison then shares her crochet tips for amigurumi-making; everything from changing colours to fitting safety eyes and assembling the pieces together. Again, helpful photos guide the reader.



And then there are 16 original patterns - all of them equally ADORABLE!!! 
I chose to make Boris the Bear, because he looked like a serious sort-of chap:



I found the pattern easy to follow - the instructions are written in US terms, but this is easy to get used to and it didn't pose a problem at all. I liked how there were close-up photos to show me where parts should be positioned, or how to make certain stitches and I found the instructions for assembly very well-explained.


Congratulations, Alison - it's a fabulous book!

Alison has kindly sent me an extra book to GIVEAWAY!!!
All you have to do is enter below and a winner will be drawn at random on the 29th September 2018. Open worldwide.

Good Luck!

As a part of the Blog Tour with TUVA publishing, I received a copy of Alison North's book to review and a copy to giveaway. 
All views this blog post are my own.

a Rafflecopter giveaway




Monday, 20 August 2018

Granny Square Flair: A book review

Shelly Husband is no stranger to the humble granny square. In fact, she's something of a granny-meister (if such a thing were to exist).



Over the last few years, Shelley has taken this most traditional of crochet motifs and designed hundreds of beautiful versions - publishing them for free and in book collections. Her latest book, 'Granny Square Flair' is different in that not only is this her first ever print version, but all the designs are created using neutral, cream yarn. Shelly wanted her readers to be able to add their own colourways to their motifs and create truly personal projects. That said, her love of colour still pervades throughout, as she cleverly asked fellow crocheters to take a square and make it using yarns and colours of their choices. Which is how I became involved - but more on that later.

Shelley's squares in cream

'Granny Square Flair' (written in US and UK terms) features 50 patterns, varying in difficulty and complexity and is intended for a crocheter with basic skills. The beginning of the book includes everything you need to know to get started; information on choosing hooks, yarns and colours, how to read patterns and charts and a brilliant tip for creating seamless crochet!


The next section contains the patterns. Each one has a difficulty rating and a guide to how much yarn it will use. There is a photograph of the square and a chart underneath (very helpful for the visual learners out there). Alongside are the written instructions, which are clearly described and easy to follow. At the bottom of the page are the coloured versions of the squares; either made by Shelley herself or by the  group of crochet friends she asked to help. These include Dedri Uys, Julie Harrison, Mandy O'Sullivan, Marianne Dekkers-Roos, Sandra Eng and many more - oh and me, too!

I chose the 'Bloem' pattern (p.64) to work on and decided straight away that I would supersize mine using Stylecraft Special XL in Cream, Duck Egg, Sage, Petrol and Graphite. And wowsers!! It worked out brilliantly! It would make THE perfect blanket and with squares this big, would be a pretty quick project too. I found the pattern easy to follow and had no difficulty understanding the instructions. It's rather nice, isn't it?!

'Bloem'

After the patterns, you can find the project section, where Shelley has 11 new designs to make with the motifs. There are blankets and wraps, cushions and coasters - a great selection of stylish and modern pieces and there are tips and advice for designing your own projects, including how to choose patterns and layout and how to calculate the amount of yarn you will need.

Melbourne Wrap

Blues Sampler Blanket

And so, I would like to congratulate Shelley on a truly fabulous book - her fresh, modern designs will inspire many crocheters to make their own beautiful creations.

You can find 'Granny Square Flair' here (UK) or here (US).
Shelley's website, with details of all her other books is here.

As a thank you for being part of Shelley's Crochet team, I received a copy of her book to review. 
All views this blog post are my own.

Enjoy your week,
Sarah xx



Wednesday, 8 August 2018

A Very Little Llama

Inspired by everything llama at the moment, I realised that one of my previous patterns could be easily adapted to fit the bill...



You may remember The Very Little Giraffe (a random teacher gift my daughter asked me to make)? Well it struck me that the shaping was pretty llama-esque and with a little tinkering around with the ear placement, and the addition of a blanket and tassels, a llama it could be ...



It's the perfect small project for using up all those odds and ends of yarn - hooray!!

A Very Little Llama Pattern (UK)

(For US, dc is the same as sc and dc2tog is the same as sc2tog).

Abbreviations:
ch = chain
sl st = slip stitch
dc = double crochet
dc2tog = double crochet 2 together**
sts = stitches
**to make the dc2tog stitch using the invisible decrease method:
Insert hook into the front loop of the first stitch.
Insert hook into the front loop of the second stitch (3 loops on hook).
Yarn over and pull yarn through the first two loops (2 loops on hook).
Yarn over and pull through both loops.


You will need:
Yarn and hook of your choice (any weight yarn and hook to match will work)
I used a 3mm hook and small amounts of Rico Ricorumi in Beige (55), Tangerine (26), Wine Red (29) and Fuchsia (14)
Toy stuffing
Black / brown embroidery thread for nose and eyes
Stitchmarker - mark the first st of each round



Head
Stuff as you go.
In Beige:
Rnd 1: 6dc in magic ring or 2dc, 6dc in 2nd st from hook (6 sts)
Rnd 2: 2 dc in each st around. (12 sts)
Rnds 3 - 4: 1dc in each st around.
Rnd 5: (1dc, 2dc in next st) repeat around. (18 sts)
Rnds 6 - 8: 1dc in each st around.
Rnd 9: (1dc, dc2tog) repeat around. (12 sts)

Stitch eyes and nose.

Rnd 10: dc2tog around. (6 sts)

Fasten off and sew closed.

Ears (make 2)
Rnd 1: 6dc in magic ring or 2dc, 6dc in 2nd st from hook. (6 sts)
Rnd 2: (1dc, 2dc in next st) repeat around. (9 sts)
Fasten off. Sew to head


Neck, body and legs
(Leave long tail at beginning for stitching to head and stuff as you go)
Ch 6, join with sl st to first ch.

Rnd 1: 1ch (doesn't count as st), 1dc in each st. (6 sts) 
Now in continuous rounds
Rnds 2 - 5: 1dc in each st.
Rnd 6: *1dc, 2dc in next st; rep from *, 2dc. (8 sts)
Rnd 7: 2dc, *2dc in next st; rep from * three times, 3dc. (11 sts)
Rnd 8: 3dc, *2dc in next st; rep from * four times, 4dc. (15 sts)
Rnd 9: 4dc, *2dc in next st; rep from * six times, 5dc. (21 sts)
Rnds 10 - 13: 1dc in each st.

Front leg
Rnd 14: 1dc, dc2tog, dc 4, then cross to the other side (see pic) and 4dc back to stitchmarker. (10 sts)


Pictures from Giraffe Pattern






Rnd 15: dc2tog around. (5 sts).
Fasten off and sew closed.

Back leg
Rnd 14a: 1dc in each st around. (10 sts)
Rnd 15a: dc2tog around. (5 sts).

Fasten off and sew closed. 
Stitch between the legs to close the hole.
Stitch head to body.

Tail
Make a knot in the yarn and stitch it into place. Separate the strands to create the tail.

Blanket
In Tangerine
Rnd 1: 6dc in magic ring or 2dc, 6dc in 2nd st from hook. (6 sts)
Rnd 2: *2dc in first st, 2dc in next st, 1dc; rep from *.  (10 sts)
Rnd 3: In Fuchsia, 1dc, 2dc in next st, 2dc in next st, 3dc, 2dc in next st, 2dc in next st, 2dc. (14 sts)
Rnd 4: In Red, 2dc, 2dc in next st, 2dc in next st, 5dc, 2dc in next st, 2dc in next st, 3dc. (18 sts)
Fasten off, but leave a long tail for stitching in place

Halter
Make a chain long enough to fit around the muzzle and join with sl st. Make another chain to fit around back of head and join with sl st to other side. Stitch in place.

To finish:
Add tassels of yarn to tips of ears and sides of muzzle. Add pompoms or any other decorations you like.



And that's it!
Enjoy your teeny llama,

Sarah xx