Sunday, 16 March 2014

The Spring Knitting and Stitching Show - March 2014

Hello Ladies and Gents and how are you on this glorious March day! The sun is shining, the sky is blue... maybe spring is finally on its way :)

Last week, Husbandy and I were on vacation and we planned the days to make the most out of the March sunshine. On Friday we wanted to stay in London, so I decided to head to the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show in Olympia. It's an event held for the keen knitters and sewers over four days with numerous stands as well as free courses and other courses and workshops. I wanted to go last year as that is when my passion for sewing started, but sadly couldn't make it. However, all change for this year, so armed with my crochet hook, yarn and money I got on the bus and travelled to Olympia, West London.

On arrival I asked where to purchase a ticket. The man ushered me to the queue and I waited patiently with all the other excited people wondering what treats were in store. Before I got to the front this lovely lady gave me a complimentary ticket! This made my day and also meant I had more spending money inside! I thanked her numerous times and went on into the event.

The first thing I did was buy a programme so I could suss out where the knitting stands were. I know I'm into sewing but I'm currently undertaking a top secret crochet project so before I embark on sewing again, I thought I best stick to the current project in hand. With the stands identified I wondered around - glancing at the stands and
talking to the people running them. After a first walk through, I spotted the Quilters Guild - I chatted to them for a while and bought a raffle ticket as there was a stunning quilt as the first prize (sadly I didn't win). They were also letting people try machine quilting and the piece you made went to the Project Linus UK. I stitched some pieces together and now know my next project will be a quilt for my bed :)

After wondering around again, I went back to one stand called Woolie Batt that sold British made wool. I loved the fact this wool is sheared, woven and spun in Britain - a truly British made item from start to finish. I also loved the fact it showed the breed of sheep next to the yarn. It was a delight to see undyed yarn showing the wools natural beauty. I'm currently using Debbie Bliss blue faced leicester double knit for my top secret project and now pleased to be using Double Knit Organic Hampshire Down Wool too - delightful :)

British Wool!
After my purchase I went to a crochet group and made granny squares! It was pleasing to see people of all ages sitting together making granny squares. I also picked up a really handy guide on how to crochet - although I will need to teach myself the English abbreviations on how to crochet as I've been learning the American way! I couldn't resist the offer to sign up to the Simply Crochet magazine... I can't wait for the next issue to give me some great hints and tips!

All in all I had a great day just looking at all the yummy fabrics and delicious yarns. There was also displays of people's work - all very creative and inspirational. I'm glad I went and to all those novices I would recommend going to future events!

Happy Knitting and Stitching x

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Crochet - Mastering the Basics

Hello Ladies and Gents and how are you on this grey March day? I'm shocked that four weeks have passed since my last bloggie so I'll update you with my crochet news.

All through February I have been practicing how to hold the yarn and do the basic stitches. This may seem like a long time just to master the basics, but now I've ventured onto granny squares I feel it was time well spent.

Having a glimpse back at previous blog (First Crochet Blog) I think I got a bit cocky at my skills. I did learn how to chain, but achieving the right tension to chain consistently was slightly more challenging. So a top tip I will give to you all is to take time as a beginner to practice holding the yarn and needle - this is crucial as this determines the tension in the stitch itself. I tried different methods - some with greater or lesser success. At one point the yarn was so wrapped around my fingers it looked like I had a henna tattoo :). There are many great You Tube clips showing you differing techniques... I found this link particularly helpful 'How to Hold Yarn for Beginners' and I do a mixture of the first one and the final one - I wrap the yarn around my pinkie and then around my fore finger - this works well for me but everyone is different.

Another top tip is where to hang/ position your yarn. I tried it on the sofa, bed and floor (I promise I'm talking about crochet here!) and for me, sat on the sofa with the ball of yarn on the floor worked best. This is a great You Tube clip for other ideas: 'Crochet Body Positions, Holding Yarn and Chaining'

The best way to test how you hold your yarn and hook and where to place your yarn is to practice chaining. As I said above by simply chaining you will see if the chains are a consistent tension and if not, you can simply pull the yarn and start again! After successfully chaining, I moved how to single crochet and double crochet however I found this quite difficult when not following a pattern so I moved onto making granny squares! 

I'm so pleased I went back to basics before moving on. I feel by reading and watching tutorials it has helped me understand that tension of the yarn is important and will help with my future projects. Next time, I'll tell you about granny squares.

Top Tips:

  • Equipment: Yarn and hook
  • Take time as a beginner to practice holding the yarn and needle
  • Where to hang/ position your yarn - have a go with different styles - you'll notice the different :)
Useful websites:
Happy Crocheting xx