Monday, 25 March 2019

Mindful Crochet - A book Review

Mindfulness: a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and body sensations, used as a therapeutic technique*.


Mindfulness is extremely contemporary at the moment, and appropriately so; with increasingly hectic and busy lifestyles it's important that we take some time to focus inwardly and find a space and time to be calm and peaceful. 




Clinical studies show that mindfulness can help reduce anxiety, exhaustion and insomnia and can enhance the body's natural healing rhythms. It's no secret that crafts like knitting and crochet also have similar effects and can even slow the onset of dementia. So what better way to improve our physical and mental health than by combing the two?

Prayer Flag Garland

I was privileged to be asked to review a copy of Emma Leith's new book, 'Mindful Crochet'. On reading the introduction, Emma explains how crochet has changed her life and that it is '... the doorway to my happy place where pain and anxiety are softened and a state of peaceful acceptance resides ... it doesn't make the bad stuff go away, but can help transform it.'

Mindfulness Cowl

I couldn't agree more with Emma's thinking - I find crochet extremely relaxing (except when trying to wrestle with a particularly difficult pattern, or yarn that just won't do what I ask) and it's my favourite way to wind down after a long day. 

Prayer Beads Purse

Emma's book is split into four sections: Colour Therapy, Touch and Texture, Mindful Meditation and Caring and Sharing and has 35 beautiful projects with everything from small motifs and quick makes to larger ones which will take a little longer to complete. There are projects for the home, including bunting and flags, a table runner, a cushion and even a chandelier; and accessories – bag and purse, a desk tidy, shawls and scarves. Each project has a star rating which denotes the skill level required and the instructions are written in UK terms with clear descriptions of how to make the stitches in each round or row and detailed explanations of how to make up and finish each piece.

Boho Baskets

Dotted throughout the book are mindfulness reminders – helpful little tips and hints to put you on the right path as you work through the projects. These include practicing breathing techniques, helping you to focus on achievement and fulfilment and enjoying the rhythm of the stitches.


One thing that strikes me as I flick through the book is the wonderful range of colours popping out from every page – every project is photographed beautifully and looks very inviting. The yarn choices throughout range from cottons and acrylics to sock yarn and mohair. What I particularly like is that you could happily use whatever yarn you please, busting your stash or substituting for your favourite brands.

Kaleidoscope Mandala Mat

I'm thrilled to be able to give away a copy of Emma's lovely book to one lucky blog reader. All you have to do is enter below. The giveaway will end on the 2nd April 2019 and the winner will be notified by email. Entries welcome worldwide.

**** GIVEAWAY CLOSED ****


I'm waiting for a quiet moment in my schedule to have my own moments of mindfulness, but I cannot decide between the Kaleidoscope Mandala Mat or the Summer Sun Coasters ....

Enjoy your week,
Sarah xx

*From online dictionary
I was given a copy of the book in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Just a heart

Whether or not you celebrate Valentine's Day, there's something infinitely enduring about a heart.

So when my insta pal sweet_sharna announced she was running her #leavealittleheart campaign again this year, I decided I wanted in.



The premise is simple: make a little heart (knit, crochet, sew, origami etc.) and leave it for someone to find on February 14th. You could tie it to a park bench or hang it on a branch - the only advice I would give as a responsible yarn-bomber is that you don't want to be accused of littering, so why not attach a 'please take me' note your heart, so there's no confusion.


There's a story behind my heart pattern, too - or rather the yarn I used. You see, being one of the Stylecraft Blogstars, I've tried most of their yarns, except the Classique Cotton DK. It was when I travelled to Breidagen (the Dutch knitting festival) with the Stylecraft Team that I took part in Emma Varnham's workshop to make Billy Bear using, you've guessed it, Classique DK.


Well it quite literally blew me away! Now, I use a lot and I mean A LOT of cotton yarns in my design work - it's particularly brilliant for toys and motifs and has such a lovely finish, but it does have the tendency to be a bit splitty. But not this stuff - it's got just enough of a twist to keep the yarn from coming apart as you crochet with it, which is a revelation!! This means speedier work for me as I don't have to keep faffing around with my stitches. And being Stylecraft, it's affordable, good quality and in a great range of colours. And as it's my new favourite, I'm using it for everything at the moment. 



Now, there are approximately eleventy-billion free heart patterns out there, so here's another to add to them. You could leave yours for someone to find, or make a garland, or use as an appliqué. I've bought some little linen bags which I might add mine too - they'd make the perfect gift.



Obviously, I've used Stylecraft Classique Cotton DK ('cos I'm obsessed), but you could use whatever you fancy.

JUST A HEART PATTERN



I used:
3.5 mm hook
Stylecraft Classique Cotton DK in Dove, Peppermint, Poppy, Hot Pink, Fuchsia

UK terms:
Rnd 1: 3ch, in the 3rd ch from your hook make the following: 2tr, 1dc, 3tr, 2htr, 1tr, 2htr. Join to 3rd ch with sl st. (12 sts)
Rnd 2: 3ch, 1tr in same st, 2tr in next st, (2tr, 1htr) in next st, 1 spike dc into centre hole, (1htr, 2tr) in next st, (2tr in next st) four times, (1tr, 1dtr, 1tr) in next st, 2tr in next st twice. Join to 3rd ch with sl st. (26 sts)

Fasten off and weave in ends.

US terms:
Rnd 1: 3ch, in the 3rd ch from your hook make the following: 2dc, 1sc, 3dc, 2hdc, 1dc, 2hdc. Join to 3rd ch with sl st. (12 sts)
Rnd 2: 3ch, 1dc in same st, 2dc in next st, (2dc 1hdc) in next st, 1 spike sc into centre hole, (1hdc, 2dc) in next st, (2dc in next st) four times, (1dc, 1tr, 1dc) in next st, 2dc in next st twice. Join to 3rd ch with sl st. (26 sts)

Fasten off and weave in ends.

Enjoy making your little hearts and have fun spreading the love.

Sarah xx

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 fabulous 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