Sunday 17 July 2016

The Stylecraft Blogstars

Imagine all your favourite knit and crochet bloggers getting together for a weekend with a rather well-known yarn manufacturer and you've got a pretty awesome combination.

Let me introduce you to the Sylecraft Blogstars:

From left to right, back row:
Sandra Paul (Cherry Heart), Julia Marsh (Hand Knitted Things), Helen Kurtz (The Knitting Exploits of Josie Kitten), and me.

Front Row: Kathryn Senior (Crafternoon Treats), Heather Leal (The Patchwork Heart), Phil Saul (The Twisted Yarn), Lucy (Attic24), and Sue Pinner (Shropshire Scrapper Suz).

And not forgetting the three who couldn't be with us: Jane Crowfoot (Janie Crow), Emma Varnam (Emma Varnam) and Angela Armstrong (Get Knotted Yarncraft).

And so what did we get up to, I bet you're wondering?
Well, first I had to make my way to the Mill in Yorkshire, where we were treated to a tour by Richard Brown, owner of Stylecraft and its subsidaries.

Gorgeous views in every direction

Ever wondered how yarn is spun?
It starts off like this in huge squishy bundles:

ENORMOUS vats of yarn
And is spun through a series of the most enormous, noisy machines:

I thought these were sweets at first...

Richard, showing us how the yarn is twisted during manufacturing.

It's steamed to remove the twist, until it resembles something fine and beautiful like this:

This is one of the test rooms. I want a wall like that in my craft room.

It was so interesting to see manufacturing on such a large scale.

As if that wasn't enough, we were then invited to see the new collections of yarn. Here's one of the mood boards for the new collections. It's called 'World Marauder'. I love the colours.

And this is one of the new ranges, inspired by the colours:

It's called Batik and is wonderfully soft, with 80% Acrylic, 20% wool content. I can't wait to try it (I have lots of ideas already!). And check out Sue's blog, where she has links to lots of patterns using this yarn.

And this lovely stuff is called Yarn Stories. A beautiful, premium 100% wool, available in Merino or Merino and Alpaca and made in good old Blighty. The colours are amazing and it is sooooo squishy.

We were also told about some new exciting yarns and projects to come, but my lips are sealed. It's top-secret stuff.
You'll have to stay tuned.

So what's to come from the Blogstars?
Well, we'll be working on new projects for you, and there will be a blog tour in October, where we will reveal our patterns (in plenty of time for you to be planning those Christmas* projects). There will also be giveaways a-plenty.

*yes, I did mention the c-word. Yes, I know it's only July. Sorry about that.

The gorgeous and sparkly ' Cabaret' DK

So do pop along and check out the other bloggers. Lots of them are far more organised than me and have already blogged about their Mill visit. And they've got so many gorgeous projects to inspire you.

Enjoy your week,
Sarah X

Sunday 10 July 2016

The one with a very little giraffe

Teacher gifts.

The one thing I always leave until the last minute (and I should know better really - I am a teacher, after all).

Imagine my delight when the little one announces that I haven't made the giraffe I promised to make for her teacher. 

Despite having approximately a billion other things I should be doing, including working on 12 new projects for my next book* I decided to make a little giraffe. 
A very little giraffe.

* yes, I am writing a new crochet book. All is a bit secret at the mo, but I'll let you have some sneaky peaks soon.

If you have a last minute teacher-who-likes-giraffes gift to make, or just fancy your very own little giraffe, then here's the pattern in UK terms. (For US, dc is the same as sc and dc2tog is the same as sc2tog).

A Very Little Giraffe Pattern (UK)

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.

Finished size: 12cms (4 3/4 inches) tall

You will need:
Yarn and hook of your choice (any weight yarn and hook to match will work)
I used a 4 mm (US 6/G) hook and Rico Creative Cotton Aran in Vanilla (shade 62), Tangerine (shade 76) and Nougat (56) 
Toy stuffing
2 x 6mm eyes
Tapestry needle
Stitchmarker. Mark the first st of each round

Stuff as you go.

In Vanilla
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: dc 1 in each st around.
Change to Tangerine
Rnd 5: (dc 1, 2dc in next st) repeat around. (18 sts)
Rnds 6 - 8: dc 1 in each st around.
Rnd 9: (dc 1, dc2tog) repeat around. (12 sts)

Insert eyes between Rnds 5-6, 6 sts apart.
Rnd 10: dc2tog around. (6 sts)

Fasten off and sew closed.

Ears (make 2)

Rnd 1: 4dc in magic ring or 2dc, 4dc in 2nd st from hook (4 sts)
Rnd 2: (dc 1, 2dc in next st) repeat around. (6 sts)

Fasten off. Sew to head

Horns (ossicones)*** (make 2)

In Nougat
Ch 4, 
Row 1: sl st 3, beginning in 2nd ch from hook.
Fasten off. Sew to head.

*** a giraffe does not have horns, but ossicones. Both male and female giraffes have them. They are made from bone, but not attached to the skull, to avoid injury at birth. Males sometimes use their ossicones to fight. Educational fact. Retain as valuable information for use in random pub quiz someday.

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: ch1 (doesn't count as st), 1dc in each st (6 sts) 
Now in continuous rounds
Rnds 2 - 5: 1dc in each st.
Rnd 6: (dc 1, 2dc in next st) X 2, dc 2. (8 sts)
Rnd 7: dc 2, (2dc in next st) X 3, dc 3. (11 sts)
Rnd 8: dc 3, (2dc in next st) X 4, dc 4. (15 sts)
Rnd 9: dc 4, (2dc in next st) X 6, dc 5. (21 sts)
Rnds 10 - 13: 1dc in each st.

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

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.

Use the long tail from the neck to stitch the head in place.

**** not anatomically correct - this giraffe only has 2 legs. And they're a bit short.

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

Cut a variety of different sized spots of out brown felt and glue or stitch into place.

And that's it.
Job done, happy teacher (I hope)

Sarah xxx