June’s blanket, bucket-list and Iceland…

Hi Everyone… it is June and time for another blanket….

this one is about my bucket-list.

I have a few thing on that list, one of them is traveling and visiting/living in new places. the top of the list for the places is ICELAND, and that is what this blanket is dedicated to Iceland.

I always knew since I was a small girl that I wanted to live ‘up North’ well before  Hygge or  “Scandi style”  became so popular.

I made it just 2000 miles up north!  from Italy to Scotland… but I always wanted to hop another little bit..Shetland, Faroe Islands, and then Iceland!

If I wasn’t 53 and had a family, I probably would pack my bags and head for Iceland. In the back of my mind there is still a small flicker  of light which says I could  still do it …my kids are starting flying the nest; Francesca my oldest, she got her master in fine art, Valentina has just graduated this May in Law, Giuseppe is off to Edinburgh University next September, and I just got left Olympia that has still 4/5 years of High school…mmm never say never! ( mind you does Iceland needs a middle age woman that is obsessed with  wool/yarn /colours and books??? )

I could start with visiting Iceland first! I have never been… BUT it is on the top of my list hopefully in the next few months.

So why do I love Iceland?

the most obvious reason is that Iceland is beautiful, There are breathtaking mountains, volcanoes, highlands, glaciers, waterfalls, fjords, geysers, lava fields, and a variety of coastlines.

but what attracts me most  are the Icelanders and their way of life and their values.

Icelanders are highly educated and the society is progressive.They have a literacy rate of 99% and most of the population has experienced higher education, they publish more books per capita than any other country. The have topped up the gender gap index Economist recently named Iceland the world’s best place for working women – in comparison, the UK came in at No. 24.Iceland was the first nation to elect a female president; Vigdís Finnbogadóttir was elected in 1980 and stayed in office for 16 years. Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir was Iceland’s first female prime minister and the world’s first openly gay female head of state.

Climate change is on the news every day and I believe it is a real issue for our planet. Fossil fuels are NOT the way forward. Iceland is the only country in the world which obtains 100% of its electricity and heat from renewable sources. 87% of its electricity comes from hydropower, and the remaining 13% from geothermal power. Oil-powered fossil fuel power stations are only used as backups to the renewable sources.

I could go on and add 20 pages of facts. and you are wondering if  I am a serious case of “The grass is always greener…. …..in your neighbor’s field” !!!

So what is really my tangible experience about Iceland and why I like it so much?? and here is where the creative side kicks in and the relevance to the blog…

LOPI YARN!!!!!

and in particular.

Icelandic Lopapeysa!

I made LOADS of them over the years…lopi yarn  is made from the wool of the Icelandic sheep.

 

It is unique in its composition and together, the distinctive fibers create wool that is warm, lightweight, water-repellent and breathable.

 

OK, it is  a little itchy ,but once you have worn a few times and washed too, it becomes really lovely. I can tell you this from experience as some of the jumpers  I knitted are 10 years old, they have a few holes but they are as much loved as they were once new!! those are few of them I have here at home…

also some of the books ( that is my other vice…books) I love about Iceland:

 

So I never attempted using Lopi Yarn for crochet but I m going to give it a go and the next blanket is going to be made entirely with Lopi . another experiment then…

Next time I will  tell you all about how I have chosen the colors and about Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda. I read a simplified version of it when I was 12 . and it is still now my favorite book.

I am also going to tell you about Hávamál, probably one of the most important poem in the book , which tells the story of Odin and the tree Yggdrasil.

and  Bivröst (“Moving Way” in Old Norse),The Bridge of the Gods:

Gvðín gerþu bru af iorþu til himins, er heitir Bifravst: “The gods made a bridge from earth to the heavens which is called Bifravst”

and about some amazing music I  I was so lucky to see live last night: Eivør Pálsdóttir.

Eivor is not an Icelander, she is a Faroese singer-songwriter with the most amazing voice ever! totally mesmerizing here is a link to youtube.

 

Thorin, our cat, loves Iceland too….

To the next time, Happy crochet,

Lucia x

 

 

 

The end of May: The indigo blanket

Last day of May and here is my May blanket…

I’ve called it the Indigo blanket because of the colors.

 

 

The Indigo blanket has been a bit of an unusual one and definitely an experiment. As I have said on my previous post on Facebook I did not have a plan of what I was going to do, I started with the fabric and from that, I built up the different squares. As you know my inspiration has been Japan textiles, indigo, Japanese pottery and also the spring season too.

 

 

Scottish spring starts quite late and one of the things I like most about the month of May is the cherry blossom trees. They start around the 3rd week in April, depending on the weather, and they are in full bloom at the beginning of May. Near my house, there is an old graveyard that has the most amazing display of Cherry blossom trees, and every year I wait to see them bloom, and I found walking or sitting under them very relaxing.  I hope you will not find the photo I took of the Graveyard at all offensive, or disrespectful, it is a beautiful and peaceful place.

That is why I thought cherry blossom in my blanket were relevant because they have a Japanese connection too.

In Japan, the custom of enjoying the ephemeral beauty of flowers is called “hanami” and it is an important date in the calendar of many Japanese, as, for those brief few weeks, many flocks to see the flowers and enjoy the festivals sitting, eating and drinking under the blossoms.

I know my local cherry blossoms aren’t remotely as majestic as the 1000’s of plants at Tokyo’s  Shinjuku Gyoen or Ueno Park , or more so the world famous Kyoto’s Maruyama Park  but nevertheless, every year, I wait to see them coming up hoping the weather is good enough to have them in full bloom even if it is just for a short time.

So let’s have a general look at the blanket then…can you see the cherry blossoms? there are 10 of them …, also there are different plain squares, some textured ones and a bit of overlay crochet.

 

 

For the overlay crochet, I bought one of CARO Created Design’s  beautiful mandala patterns. I wanted something that resembles the sun  and also reminded me of  the decoration of a Japanese ramen bowl so I used the central part  of her Mandala 6

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/overlay-mandala-no-6

But if you do not want to buy a pattern you can always use any mandala design you like. Interesting enough look at the back of the blanket…the back of the mandala is lovely too.

I thought even a circular simple alternate colours mandala  works too.

 

The denim part I just cut the jeans and tried to make some pieces with neat corners. The pieces came out of different sizes and also I cut a few hexagons too. I thought that if I crocheted around the edges I could join the fabric squares to the crochet squares. I found out that it is not that easy and I ended up doing quite a bit of overlay with the different pieces, mainly because I wanted to make sure the blanket came out a neat as possible rectangular shape. also one of the characteristics of  Boro textiles is different pieces overlay-ed on each other.

There is a bit of embroidery too…,

 

Some of the patterns are inspired by Sashiko’s geometric shapes and the little sort of stars are my answer to this amazing picture of

Japanese gold fireflies photographed by Anthony Luke.

http://anthonylukephotography.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/truly-remarkable-long-exposure.html

the blanket measures 170cm x 100 cm.

THE YARN:

 

I used a combination of Stylecraft JEANIE in Dixie,Menphis and Delta. fantastic yarn,Aran weight, that beautifully compliments the denim fabric.

I also used some BATIK in Indigo and Storm; some Stylecraft Special Aran and 4ply in cream;

some Sundae dk in Blueberry sorbet;

and finally some Classique Cotton both dk and 4 ply in Ivory for the embroidery.

The Batik and Sundae are used  one strand of each together or , for certain squares I added a strand of  4ply special in cream, to get the same gauge of  the Jeanie.

I can get in more details of the patterns if you are interested, please just let me know.

Happy crocheting!

Lucia xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

My YARN SHOP DAY at THREADS in Dunbarton

Let me tell you about last Saturday. As part of YSD I was at  THREADS WOOL SHOP in Dunbarton.  (143 Glasgow road, Dunbarton, G82 1RQ ).

Dumbarton is a town on the north bank of the River Clyde about half an hour from Glasgow.

I got an amazing welcome from the owner Linda, her daughter Lorna, Nancy, the knitting expert, and Prince, Nancy’s dog, and official shop mascot.

Treads is not dissimilar to Aladin’s cave, it is full to the brim with yarn, buttons, ribbons, knitting and crochet accessories…also Linda sells lovely handmade garments and baby sets too.

 

 

 

 

Linda’s team had invested a lot of time, care and attention to the day, she had organized radio adverts on the local station, social media updates, goodie bags, for all the customers, raffle prizes and special discounts on the day and a lot of bargain wool too. I was really chuffed that they asked me and my blankets to be part of such a special day.

I was so busy chatting to Linda’s customers, that I only managed to take a couple of quick snapshots between visitors so I can show you how lovely the shop is.

 

 

I met a lot of lovely ladies of all ages, and  I chatted all day about yarn, crochet, blankets, colors, you name it. I got A LOT of compliments about my blankets and I was so overwhelmed by the kindness of the ladies I met, a special mention goes to Linda’s crochet and knitting club members, they all came to say hello. I met some regular customers and some new one that came for the event thanks to the adverts and social media.

In the flurry of activity,  I realized,   that I did not have a real grasp of how important local shops are and how important it is to support local businesses as it means you support local events that connect people together and that was to me the most obvious and special part of the day.

An old lady came in, she got a warm welcome bought one ball of yarn and she pulled out from her bag some pictures of what she had made for her relatives, she was so proud of her achievements and she loved the care and attention that Linda and her team gave her. The shop was really busy but she got the same care and attention that other customers that bought much more got.

I thought that was very special, and it embodies the spirit of Treads and of many of those small independent yarn shops. They do not only sell yarn, buttons ribbons, and accessories, they also  have a vital role in the community, they are places where people not only buy yarn but also can go for a chat, some exchange ideas, they’re an invaluable source of knitting and crochet advice and news, and are great for discussing your WIPs and next projects.

Linda’s host’s classes virtually every day of the week, where you can learn to crochet or knitting. She also has crochet and knitting clubs where people can spend a few hours, every week, knitting and crochet together.

And if you think that local shop do not offer the same bargains that the big online retailers do, you are mistaken, most shop like Threads, have custom’loyalty schemes’, they  use their discretion to reward regular customers, which means  you get discounts  on the items you actually want to buy, rather than being tempted by multi-buy offers online,  you get a warm welcome and you have a chance to feel the yarn you buy and get a true sense of the colour too which is very difficult to do online.

 

So remember your local Yarn Shop is VITAL to your community. Especially now, with independent traders closing down every day do you really want the next one to be your local Aladdin’s cave full of squidgy beautiful yarn????

I don’t think so!

I came back home with a big smile on my face, I had a wonderful day, I got some bargains too! I bought some lovely yarn to take home with me and also a present too…Linda gave me a lovely candle and I was so touched look…

 

FIG TREE… how thoughtful!

 

thank you again to Linda and all the ladies of Dunbarton to make my first YSD an AMAZING ONE!!

Nice cakes which I HAD to try IMMEDIATELY!!!  LOL

love,

Lucia xx

May’s Blanket: an old pair of jeans and a journey.

If you have been following my blog, you are by now aware that what I am aiming to do with this crochet journey is to experiment how you can use crochet as a medium to weave a story into the fabric of a blanket.

Furthermore, I would like to encourage all of you out there to do the same and to create your little piece of history.

Today I want  to introduce something else that it is very important to me:

“Nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect”.

It is a Buddhist concept called wabi-sabi  “the wisdom and beauty of imperfection.” it can be applied to virtually anything but in this case it  is about  taking the time to create something really unique  as a beautiful way of connecting with a garment or textile, and making a feature of an old scrap of fabric, recycling  old yarn or mixing oddballs,  given as a present, out of a sale basket or an impulse buy..( we all have been there…) , old yarn from the bottom of your stash.

With the assumption  that beauty is in an object’s impermanence and imperfection that means that  mistakes, maybe some wonky stitching or different textures can be embraced, and you do not need to be a confident crocheter you just need to be able to hold a hook and have some yarn, so this is also a perfect project for a beginner.

What has inspired me are traditional Japanese boro cloths.

 

They have a beauty like no other. Each cloth tells a unique story of its journey through life with patches carefully sewed on and reinforced with stitching, often over generations of a single family.

Although beautiful, boro cloths came about through pure necessity. During the 18th and 19th centuries cotton,in Japan, was a luxury afforded only to the nobility. The lower classes had homespun fibers, like hemp, which were more difficult to make into a fabric and didn’t last as well. By patching and stitching, the fabric could be strengthened and its life could be extended. During the Edo era, there were also laws that restricted lower classes from wearing bright colors which is why the cloths are indigo blue and brown.

 

During these times pieces of cloth were re-purposed in various forms. Often starting off as a kimono then becoming everyday clothing, a piece of sleepwear, a futon cover, a bag then finally a dusting cloth. Every scrap was used until it wore out.

Boro textiles are now highly sought after collectibles. I am not so sure about the ethical side of that and the fact that now they  fetch thousands of pounds and adorn the lounges of affluent people, to me it defies the purpose in the first place, but I am grateful for the opportunity to see them in exhibitions n museums as a tangible piece of history and a lesson too.

 

Boro celebrate the beauty of something frayed, decaying or repaired and also conveys a deep sense of regret concerning waste, as Earth’s resources are limited and it is important to search for new and creative ways to recycle and reuse.

So back to the blanket…

What am I going to do? I have no plan really. I  have been collecting bits and pieces: some Japanese bowls I use every day, I love the colors and patterns, some yarn I have been given to try at the last Blogstar’s meeting and  some crochet samples I made.

 

 

 

All I know I want to use my old jeans. I bought them years ago. It must have been a bit of a ‘middle life crisis’ as I never wear jeans and I thought they looked ‘trendy’.

Then I gained some substantial amount of weight and they lingered at the bottom of my wardrobe for ages as I couldn’t wear them anymore, but since Christmas I have been shedding the weight once again and now they are far too big for me to wear. I wore them to go camping for Beltane’s celebrations  last weekend and I had to keep pulling them up which was really annoying.They are not good enough to go to a charity shop but they are precious to me as they remind me of my weight loss journey. So they are going to become a blanket!

I am going to see if I can introduce some sashiko to join the pieces together,

Sashiko is a traditional form of Japanese hand sewing that uses a simple running stitch sewn in repeating or interlocking patterns, usually piercing through several layers of fabric.

wish me luck…I will keep you updated on it’s progress,

love to you all,

Lucia xx

 

April blanket: ‘the Norian blanket’

My belated Easter post…I have been sitting on this blog entry for 10 days…the plan was to get it published before Easter, but things have gotten in the way so I am just now making the final touches to the post.

So I hope all of you had a lovely Easter or spring break with your families, loved ones and maybe with some crochet too!  Whether you managed to find some free time for starting a new project or continuing with some WIPs.

I had a bit of extra time to surf the net last weekend and I saw there are a lot of new CAL’s that have started.

I  like Esther @https://itsallinanutshell.com/ new CAL , have you seen it? it is called the ‘nuts about squares ‘ it looks really interesting I love week2 block!

https://itsallinanutshell.com/2017/02/17/announcement-nuts-about-squares-cal/

I also saw that quite a few of you had started the  Hydrangeas’s blanket, Lucy’s @attic24 new creation.

http://attic24.typepad.com/weblog/2017/04/hydrangea-stripe-blanket-ta-dah.html

I really like the colours she has chosen for her latest project, the pattern is beautifully simple but so effective and I am sure it will bring hours of joy to many people.

So many temptations and I wish I had loads of hours and try them all!

Anyway let’s get back under the Fig tree, so I can update you on what I have been doing…

 

The April blanket now has a name, it is called  ” the Norian blanket” you will see why pretty soon, I am very happy with my block it is an original design of mine and it is a lovely hexagon that I hope you will like.

 

I know in the past I have been outsourcing patterns or partial patterns mixing with something original designed by me, but this blanket will be just my design, that will make the pattern details much easier for everybody to outsource and follow by having it all being written down in one place. I have been getting some help so I can create as clear a template as possible for the pattern and, assume everything go smoothly, I should be ready to publish it in the next few weeks.

 

Here is a picture of the block, I’d love to hear your opinions! The idea is obviously Bee related, and it should look like a bees’ friendly meadow with loads of pretty flowers in bees favourite colours!.

now you wondering why Norian?

well there is an article I am going to link you to:

The Beekeeper Who Craved a World Without Right Angles

http://vernon.npdc.govt.nz/search.do?view=detail&page=1&id=269200&db=object

It tells the story of a very keen Kiwi Beekeeper called Roy Brewster. Roy and his wife Nettie built a  house in the 1950s in New Plymouth, NZ , where nearly everything was hexagonal, from its floor plans to its windows to all of its interiors and furnishings. They also had a hexagonal quilt on their bed too.

the name Norian is short for:  “NO RIght ANgles.”

I love the story and I love the house and I thought my April blanket could fit quite nicely in their home.

more about Norian blanket:

 

The block and the yarn and colours selection were the easy part, and I fired away pretty quickly all those hexagons. The problem started when I had to figure out how to join them together…You might think the joining is the easy part but actually often is not, and It has taken me several attempts and a lot of unraveling but, after a few frustrating days, I have hopefully got it now, I don’t know yet, the joining is still in its early stages, so I will let you know in a week or so..hence why at Easter I decided to leave the blanket on a side and make something else.

 

If you follow me on Instagram and facebook you might have seen some pictures I posted earlier in the week.

https://www.facebook.com/luciasfigtree/

https://www.instagram.com/luciasfigtree/

you might have seen some pictures I posted earlier in the week.

The shawl is called Edlothia, the designer is  Jasmin Räsänen , and this is the link: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/edlothia

I loved the fact that this pattern has charts.   I found charts so much easier to follow, it might look complicated but it is surprisingly easy to crochet and the results! It is not blocked yet as I hope on a nice dry day for it, but it looks good and I think the Scheepjes whirl I have chosen does it justice. I bought a couple of those cakes a few weeks ago and I was waiting to find a project that used most of it if not all of a cake, so to show off the gradients effect to its best.

 

First time using Whirl I found the yarn a bit splitty at the beginning but then I got the hang of it, it is lovely to work with and I  love how gradual the change of colours is I hope will block well, I will let you know as soon as I am done.

 

that is all for today, wish you a happy weekend,

all the best Lucia xx

 

Voilà ! the macaroons blanket.

31stof March! just in time….

You probably have already seen some previews on my  Instagram. I finished the macaroon blanket last week, but I have been so busy trying to finalise the last details of the ” secret project” plus I had a few deadlines at work . However, I am now finally sitting down, writing the recipe for the macaroons blanket, so you can all make one for yourselves!

Firstly let me tell you,  it will take a degree of patience! The squares are very easy to make but there are 280 of them!  Saying that… I actually really enjoyed the journey and seeing all of these little bundles of colours growing in my basket… a bit of frustation  at times with the ends to be sewn in BUT it will be worth it in the end as the blanket came out really beautiful !! Like baking, it is with no doubt, a labour of love.

If I can make a suggestion, as often happens to me with any granny square blanket, I find it much easier to make it if the project is running along side  with something else, and most important, sew in your ends as you go! or it will be a nightmare!

THE SQUARE: it is my design. I made a small photo gallery so it is even easier for you to make your own:

FOUNDATION : magic circle

 

ROUND1:

3 ch( makes the first treble),2 trebles,  *3 ch, 3 trebles* repeat ** 2 more times., ss on the 3chs ( which act as  your first treble)  and fasten off.

(12 trebles and 4 ch3 spaces)

ROUND2:

start with a new colour in one of the 3 chs spaces and work  a cluster of 3 trebles together,3chs and another cluster; 3ch and in the next 3 chspace of round 1 repeat * cluster,3chs cluster 3 chs*  ss and fasten off. [ 8 clusters, 8  3chs spaces]

please note as from the photos your squares will curl! do not worry as the final round will straighten down the square.

 

ROUND3:

Start a new colour in any  3 chs space  between 2 clusters and work the angle as follow:* 3 chs ( act as 1st treble) 2 trebles, 3chs,  3trebles.

In the next 3 chs space work 2 trebles, 1 puff stitch in the centre of the 3 trebles of  ROUND 1 , 2 more  trebles*; and repeat **

 

so that is the little mini granny square. it looks lovely both sides

 

Next the yarn used and colours:

STYLECRAFT SPECIAL DK

  • CLARET
  • LIPSTICK
  • POMEGRANATE
  • GOLD
  • SPICE
  • FONDANT
  • APRICOT
  • SAFFRON
  • LEMON
  • CLEMATIS
  • LAVANDER
  • DUCK EGG
  • SPRING GREEN
  • PISTACHIO
  • MEADOW
  • one ball for each of the shades  EXCEPT for the PISTACHIO where you will need three balls in total.

the squares are 280, they measure 7,5 cm and are  organised in 14 columns of 20 squares each.the border is 15 cm deep.

The joining method is a simple row of dcs . I changed colours every time , that has made a lovely “multicolours grid” effect, which makes the blanket interesting both sides!.  the all blanket is 120×180 in total and the border is 15 cm deep.

 

 

THE BORDER:

the border is an adaptation of border number 72 from the new Edie Eckman’s book : ‘every which way crochet border.’ I said an adaptation because I repeated round 1 and 2 several times to make the border more substantial, and as consequence, I had to change the corners too, as I like my borders to be perfectly flat.

 

 

I know it is a nuisance but I can’t post even a partial picture of Edie’s border as that would infringe the copyrights . all I am saying just look at the closeups,  or use another border that is a multiple of 10 stitches.

I hope you will enjoy making the macaroon blanket and thank you for all the lovely likes and messages I received!

Bring on APRIL!!!!!!!

love as always,

Lucia x

Never mind the macaroons…mini grannies are like Marmite!

An unusual title, I know…but if you are acquainted with Marmite you will know exactly where I’m coming from! For those of you that haven’t the faintest idea what Marmite is, I will explain..

Marmite is a thick, sticky paste made from concentrated yeast extract, a byproduct from brewing beer. German scientist Justus Liebig invented accidentally the concoction in 1902.

Marmite has a very distinctive flavour. The taste is so unique as to defy description, but think of a yeasty, salty, soy sauce-esque flavour with the consistency of old engine oil. Some people really like eating it, and some people don’t like eating it at all.

I personally quite like it, but it is definitely an acquired taste!

So what does marmite have to do with crochet or mini granny squares????

Because Marmite actually based a marketing slogan off this divisiveness: “Love it or hate it.” It has infiltrated British culture and language to the point where an object or a person can be described as ‘marmite’

 

So MINI GRANNIES ARE LIKE MARMITE : You either LOVE THEM OR HATE THEM!

Lately I think I am more inclined to the latter…but I am glad I persevered! I still have 35 mini grannies to sew the ends in and I am done!

All 240 of them. What a marathon. 

I did some other things in between because I discovered that I found the little pesky things really boring to make. I am sure after they are all joined together and I started the border It will become much more exciting.

I will let you know what I have been up to! It is under wrap I believe until the middle of April!!

I leave you with all my little granny squares…

Now I need to join them! ..and find a border too.

Happy Sunday

Lucia xx

 

Yarn,friends,more yarn,macaroons and a family’s ceilidh…part one

Let’s start with a question:

Do I need more yarn? ABSOLUTELY NOT !!!

Do I WANT  more yarn? ALWAYS!!!

Saying that let me start telling you about my weekend.

Every year I go to two yarn exhibitions: Yarndale and the Edinburgh Yarn Festival.

The reason why is because I like the spirit behind them. They both are a gathering of mainly independent producers, dyers and designers. And they are so worth going to because of the amazing talent and creativity behind those stalls.

On Friday morning my daughter Valentina and I took an early train from Glasgow to Edinburgh, Valentina had a dissertation meeting at University, and I went  to the Corn Exchange where EYF is held.

I met my friend Julia from http://handknittedthings.blogspot.co.uk/  in the queue outside the building amongst many very enthusiastic and chatting ladies! It didn’t rain which was a major plus, and it wasn’t too cold either so the hour and a bit waiting outside flew by in a flurry of yarn chats!

Julia and I  we went inside and we met Janehttp://janiecrow.co.uk/presta/ who was one of the exhibitors. and Sandra http://sandra-cherryheart.blogspot.co.uk/   then I just I wondered off admiring all the goodness in the show. Highlights? Far too many to mention but I especially loved Marie Wallin’s   tiny stand with her jumpers with the most exquisite colour combinations,

 

 

Amanda Perkins crochet blankets  http://www.amandascrochetblankets.com/home-page

The knitting Goddess http://www.theknittinggoddess.co.uk/,  Eden Cottage Yarns and my friend Zoe, which was exhibiting too and  has a lovely shop in Glasgow where I buy all my natural yarns. Zoe has a great selection of small independent producers, plus she dyes her on yarn also.  http://www.thequeenofpurls.com/

But let me tell u what made my day…

It wasn’t the yarn; it was those ladies that somehow recognised me and stopped to say hi and to tell me that they read and love my blog, my stories and my 12 blankets in 12-months challenge.

It was so overwhelming and humbling to get tangible recognition that my rumblings online are enjoyed by you out there .!

So a MASSIVE THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!!!!

I am not taking the time you are spending reading my blog for granted it is totally appreciated.

So what did I brought back with me? I already posted a couple of photos on Instagram; I bought some lovely hand dyed yarn from the Knitting Goddess, three skeins from Eden Cottage and a VERY expensive cake from this new Hungarian supplier of gradients yarn called Bilum

B .

 

Amanda’s new blankets book, small pamphlets on crochet shawls that look very promising and a book on knitted toys because I couldn’t resist all those mini dresses and cute animals!

Out of the show, I shared a taxi with a lovely lady from Hampshire which very kindly gave me a lift to Edinburgh centre. I went to Mademoiselle Macaroon! https://mademoisellemacaron.co.uk/

Because I haven’t forgotten about my blanket and because they have THE BEST MACAROONS IN SCOTLAND!!!!  Gosh, I wish you could try them! They are delicious, and the small bakery/cafe is so quaint, you can see Edinburgh castle while sitting sipping your coffee and ejoying your macaroons and the staff couldn’t be more helpful.

yeah, as we say in Scotland: ‘PURE MAGIC!!’

and look what we got here…..can you spot the macaroon and the new squares??

 

More Edinburgh news tomorrow as my weekend is not over yet and I have a family Ceilidh tonight.

love to you all,

Luciaxx

My yarn room makeover

Hi, Everyone!

If you follow me on Facebook, you might know I spent the past two days trying to re-organize my studio. 

It wasn’t meant to be a big job; just assembling two small bookcases and shifting some of the books to create more space for my yarn.. because I am, as probably many of you are,  a”yarn collector”!

Some will say a “yarn hoarder,” but I don’t like the negative connotation which comes with the term hoarder.

I simply just LOVE yarn! 

I love all the all aspects of yarn; I like the feeling of it, the texture if it is a hand dyed skein, I love the story behind it and the origin of the fiber. I dabbed into spinning and hand dyeing too but again there are so many talented artisans out there that make a much better job than I do, as both dyeing and spinning require a great degree of skills.

My yarns are like color pencils, and that is why I love them displayed and divided by hue,  fiber content, and yarn weight( 4ply,DK,chunky).

You probably have spotted I have a lot of STYLECRAFT’s yarn because it is what I use mainly for my blankets.

I try to stock at least one ball for each color in the main ranges I use which are: SPECIAL DK, ALPACA TWEED DK,BATIK, LIFE DK and CLASSIQUE COTTON DK. There is a gap in the library because all this ‘one blanket for each month’ makes the yarn flying out of the shelves so quickly!  If  I might make a suggestion,  you love making  blanket ,  you do not have a stockist near you , or, you are like me, and  you get overwhelmed when visiting a yarn shop, the best way about it  is to choose a brand and a weight. Then invest in one ball for each color of the range you selected  as it makes the process to choose the colors for projects much easier, it streamlines your stash too. And  if you  have some space where to display  it is a total bonus!

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When come to storing or displaying yarn I  am always on the lookout for the easy and inexpensive way to do it, and  I might have a couple of tips to pass on…

My studio furniture is a mix of IKEA and some old vintage pieces.

IKEA is cheap and does the job very well. My sofa is from Ikea, has a washable cover ( very useful for the cat, and the tea and cakes crumble…) the bookcases are all Billy

http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/search/?k=billy  the big one is several years old, and I have been adding modules as I need them.

The shelving is IKEA too and so are most of the storage boxes.

My overflow of yarn is on top of the bookcases in boxes those are  DRONA boxes, http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/products/small-storage-organisers/storage-boxes-baskets/dr%C3%B6na-box-beige-art-70298813/ the retail price is  £2.50 and they come in a variety of colors. I love them because they are really cheap but well done, made of fabric they are strong enough to hold the yarn and be positioned on their side. For extra strength and stability, I  used some velcro tape so to join all the boxes together.

For the cotton yarn, have used MOPPE http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/products/small-storage-organisers/paper-media-organisers/moppe-mini-chest-of-drawers-birch-plywood-art-40216357/ 

They are mini chest drawers (42x18x32cm) made of solid plywood, perfect for storing cotton yarn and as books dividers too.

The extra vantage is that the drawers do not have a handle, so I use the frame without the drawers as a mini bookcase, then the drawers too can be filled with more yarn and positioned on their side. Doing, so I double the amount of yarn I can store and display, and I can combine the different size drawers together. the  plus side is that plywood  is a natural product  (yarn doesn’t  like plastic…)

So you can keep an eye on what you have available,  no more rummaging in bags stashed all over the place and I might be  bias, but I think they look pretty too!

have a lovely day, thank you for reading,

Lucia xx

 

More about the Emily…

I thought I’d write an update on the blanket I’m currently making. I must say it has not been plain sailing, maybe it is because the task to transform an idea into reality, especially if it is something that you are passionate about, is never easy.

If you have read my previous post, you might recall the 14 colors I had selected.  I had to make some adjustments as the tomato was too bright and highjacked the colors combination.

In the picture you can see why, it is  out of focus in purpose  so you can see the ‘tomato effect’.   I substituted the bright hue with a tweedy chocolate which works much better and, consequently, I had to do a fair bit of ‘frogging.’ Chocolate browns, pale greens, dusty blues and some copper, they are all part of the interior of the parsonage and the surrounding area. One of the rooms I liked most was the hall. I remember reading Ellen Nussey’s ‘Reminiscences’, how “…the hall floor and stairs were done with sandstone, always beautifully clean, as was everything about the house…”  and she describes the walls as being “not papered but stained in a pretty dove-coloured tint’.  The restorations of the house revealed that it was more of a pale blue-gray that had been introduced and it is what you can see today.

Next was the pattern for the actual square, again several attempts and LOADS of samples later I came up with something I quite liked. The first thing I wanted to do is for the square to have a rugged feel of the Yorkshire landscape and outdoor clothing. My attention was drawn by some of the  original garments wore by the Brontës that I had seen displayed in the museum.

The reason why so many sisters personal items, utensils, and clothes which in normal circumstances would have disappeared have been preserved is that a cult and interest for everything that involved the sisters became quite prominent very soon after they died. Fuelled not only by the extraordinary success of their novels but also by the publication of the first biography of Charlotte Brontë written by Mrs.Gaskell’s in 1857 just a few years after the death of the sisters.

It wasn’t only the sisters but it was also theirs surrounding that became of interest. Virgina Woolf wrote in 1904 following a visit to the parsonage:”Haworth expresses the Brontës; the Brontës express Haworth; they fit like a snail to its shell.”
I digress…
Back to the blanket. As I said I wanted to have a feeling for the landscape and the clothes, but also I wanted to have some lacy aspect also to celebrate the very popular at the time, Irish crochet that adorned not only their clothes but also their homes.

On the subject of  Irish lace, I also got inspired by some amazing examples I saw in the archive of the Knitting and Crochet Guild on the Friday when I visited Stylecraft.

Irish lace became popular around 1830 when an English businessman, Charles Walker,  brought several lacemakers to teach the craft in Limerick, Ireland, drawn to the area by the availability of cheap, skilled female labor. Walker’s business thrived: within a few short years his lace factories employed almost 2,000 women fuelled by the increasing demand.
The hues of my blanket  are quite demure, as nothing of Emily makes me think of frivolity, the yarn is tweedy, warm and quite substantial, like their clothes made for long walks on the moors but also some femininity, hence the lacy feeling of the pattern, with a round 3D center and  lighter surroundings.

Still, on the lacy theme, I was going to use a flat braid to join the squares, but it didn’t work for me at all, the squares became quite misshapen and had to be unraveled once again.

Then I thought about something  curious I saw at the museum: a letter which was written by Anne Brontë to Ellen Nussey, actually, quite poignantly it was going to be her last letter as Anne was terminally ill, the note was a beautiful example of cross-writing, the letter is written with lines both horizontally and vertically, a common practice to save on postal costs.

The pen marks and pattern of the letter inspired my joining method: mixed charcoal, a beautiful organic color, became the chosen hue and a crisscrossed pattern to join the square.

In the next few days I am going to tackle the border..I have a couple of options and i will have a try and see which one look the best.

Until the next, thank you for reading!

Lucia xxx

 

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