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Archive for the ‘Yarn & Knitting’ Category

Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing;

Issue 1 of Knit & Sitch magazine by Bergere De France.

Bergere De France: Knit & Stich, Issue 1

Bergere De France: Knit & Stich, Issue 1

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Bergere De France
  • Item number; ISBN: 2049-8004
  • RRP at time of writing: 99p

Reason For Buying

Having seen lots of crochet projects online and on TV I really wanted to learn to crochet. I spent so long looking into hooks that might help with my limited dexterity that the Wendy Poole DVD that I was going to buy from C&C sold out. When I saw this magazine on TV with a DVD I jumped at the chance to learn and have some patterns too.

Bergere De France: Knit & Stich, Issue 1

Bergere De France: Knit & Stich, Issue 1

Contents

This first issue is an amazing price and if you want to get started in knitting & crochet GET it quick as it was out last week.

  • Issue 1 of Knit & Stitch magazine
  • 1 pr 3.5mm metal knitting needles 25cm long
  • 2 25g balls of Bergere De France yarn
  • Leaflet telling you yarn that will be used in the series
  • Details of freebies offered to subscribers
  • DVD

DVD run time 26 minutes, this covers the following

  • Knitting:

The slip loop, cast on, knit and purl stitches, Basic stitches: Garter Stitch, Stocking Stitch, Reverse Stocking stitch, Moss stitch, Casting off. Tips section covers; Changing ball of yarn/change colour, Pick up dropped stitch, Unravel to correct a mistake.

  • Crochet:

Slip knot, chain stitch, Basic Stitches; Single Crochet, Double Crochet, Half Treble, Treble, Double Treble. Increases and Decreases, Finishing.

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • The needles are metal so they feel a better quality than usual cheap plastic ones often offered in such kits
  • The magazine lists a website that gives lots of information about the series such as number of issues and a preview of the first issue.
  • Knit & stitch guide gives details of yarns that will be used across the series and a preview of some of the patterns too
  • Different sections for all levels including; Patchwork collection (knitted & crocheted squares to create the throw), Fashion makes, Easy Does it, For the Family, Home Comforts and Know How

DVD

  • Run time 26 minutes
  • Excellent DVD, showing lots of stitches and get you started techniques
  • Clearly explained and filmed from over the shoulder of the demonstrator so easier to learn
  • Narrator has a reassuring but not annoying patronising voice as on some DVDs
  • No background music to distract you
  • Good contrast between demo yarn and surroundings so easy to see how stitches are formed

Cons

  • On the DVD  everything is very well explained but from a total novice point of view, had the stitches been shown for the entire row rather than just a couple of times, it would have helped the new skill sink in better. That said, being a DVD I can just replay a particular section over and over again till I get it.

Build Quality

Excellent. The metal needles make for a more quality thought about product than the usual cheap n sometimes nasty plastic ones often found on such magazines. The yarns are sealed in boxes, which keeps them clean and protected.

Value for Money

Excellent

Would I buy it Again?

Yes

Summing up

If you have promised yourself this is the year you want to learn to knit or crochet, get to the shops QUICK, this issue was out last week and issue two is already in store. You don’t want to miss this one as it has the instructional DVD in it. I like these kind of things for the fact that you get practice yarn, some patterns for all levels which inspires you to keep learning so you can make the harder stuff.

This particular magazine covers a range of crafts; Knitting, Crochet, Tapestry, Crewelwork, felting. Over the series it will give you the chance to try out a selection of yarn types and also collect a number of tools for your new hobby.

Will I buy them all, in real honesty, no. This is a weekly publication and although it offers a lot, the regular price will be £4.50 which I just don’t have spare on a weekly basis. Had it been fortnightly, I would have bought more of them. That said it is a wonderful quality product and if you want to try these hobbies grab it while you can, its superb.

Links

Check out the dedicated website to the Knit & Stitch magazine, it has a lot of useful info and a preview of this weeks issue.

I’m very impressed by this publication, they seem to have given a lot of thought to the presentation and the things people want to know upfront. Check out the links for more information from their website.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I’d like to share a picture of some LONG slipper socks I recently made. I picked this yarn coz I liked the colour way, I’ve since found out that Tweed is all the rage at the moment. Coo get me, cozy and in fashion, that’s a first! Just in time for the cold snap, weather people say snow is on its way! {Update came down this morning & there is a ducting of snow on the ground and more forcast for this afternoon}

Long winter slipper socks

Long winter slipper socks

  • Yarn: Sirdar Connemara, Tweed effect chunky, Colour 355 Hornpipe. These slippers took 3 balls total 150g
  • Needles: Knit Picks Sunstruck Options; 5.5 mm

The original pattern was Non Felted Slippers from Ravelry by Yuko Nakamura,  which I loved and have made as the pattern suggested before but I get very cold in the winter and have previously added a few rows of 2×2 rib to make them into ankle boots. This time I went OTT and added 50 rows of the 2 x 2 rib to give almost knee-high slipper socks.

Perfect for curling up on sofa in the evening, no more gap between slippers and ends of my trousers ;)

Links

How about you, have you had chance to create yet in the new year? What new craft will you be trying in 2013.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing; Hobby Gift Knitting Frame. This is a folding Knitting bag on feet that holds your yarn as you knit. It folds shut to store away when not in use.

Knitting Frame; Stand up storage for knitting projects

Knitting Frame; Stand up storage for knitting projects

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Groves: Hobby Gift Knitting Frame
  • Item number: CB334
  • RRP at time of writing: £23.99

Reason For Buying

I have had cloth totes to hold my knitting projects but get annoyed when the sides fall in and you have to haul hard to get your working yarn free. Liked this as it will store project and yarn and folds flat.

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Superb quality fabric. It is Clarke and Clarke Bird Trail fabric but the curtain weight fabric not the very light cotton fabric that other bags of this kind often are.
  • Nicely finished wooden frame. The wood sections are all round section and varnished which gives a very beautiful finish.
  • Comfortable to carry with the round section handle.
  • Looks beautiful really makes you want to create
  • Folding flat means it takes up little room next to your chair when not in use
  • Having the top open wide and the sides stay out-of-the-way means it is a joy to use.

Cons

  • No pockets inside or outside the bag. Some other knitting frame have external pockets which are handy for putting little notions into. I am using a zip up make up style bag inside for all the little odds n ends, but a pocket would have kept them from tangling in the yarn as they can do in use.
  • I hadn’t realised it was the price it was till after I got it home, I had seen a £12.99 label on one and loving this fabric I jumped at it. Only on further investigation of the tag when we got home revealed the higher price. BUT It is beautiful, I still love the fabric and it is much much better quality than others priced between £10-£20 so it still is good value for money.

Build Quality

Excellent. Upholstery weight fabric should make it last longer. The wooden areas are nicely finished and varnished. Seams are nicely finished too and any raw edges still visible are over-locked.

Value for Money

Good. Given the high quality of the fabric and the good level of finishing it is a fair price for a quality product.

Would I buy it Again?

Yes, I still love the fabric and its pattern and it does a great job.

Summing up

If you have a knitting friend this is an excellent gift. Great for keeping your knitting projects to hand but out of harms way, stops the yarn running all over the floor and much easier to use than soft sided bags which make knitting life a pain when their sides fall in on your yarn or the yarn escapes.

If you go to knitting groups this is ideal. A beautiful bag and an excellent gift idea. Worth its price tag, the only way they could improve it is with a pocket or two either on the outside or the inside but that is just a little niggle. It’s a thing of beauty that does what it’s designed for, I’m very happy with it and I’m sure any knitter who also loves the fabric pattern would also be delighted with it.

Links

So, how about you, where do you keep your knitting?

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

Regular readers will remember my mentioning that my beloved budgie Tiny passed away in September. I was devastated and still miss him so much. I found a lovely shawl pattern on Ravelry, and after hording some special yarn for ages, managed to grab a bargain of more of the same in John Lewis. Since the  yarn is a lovely blue it reminded me of Tiny’s colouring and ‘needing’ to do something to ease my pain and remember him too, I decided to try making my first shawl.

Here is the finished piece

My first shawl; In Memory of Tiny

My first shawl; In Memory of Tiny

It’s not as long as I’d kinda hoped, but the weight of the yarn for a shawl is lovely and it drapes really well. The base colour of the yarn is blue, then there are lighter blues, lilac and mint colours in there too. I had seen other people on Ravelry make shawls in memory of people or to help them through the grieving process and I have to say it has really helped me too. Its calming and soothing while you create it, enough to give you something else to focus on when all you can otherwise do is cry.

I’ll make another of these, with more repeats of the main pattern to add length, to make something more cozy for the winter. This isn’t the time of year for me to knit tho, winter makes my hands lock up so I’m definitely a fair weather knitter.

Hope you like the shawl and if you are going through some tough times, give a shawl pattern a try, there are some really simple ones, this was my first and if I can knit this when my brain was all over the place in the middle of grief, then I’m sure anyone could knit this too. You Tube is a great resource for video tutorials on knitting the particular stitches if you are a total newbie.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I would like to introduce our Featured Artist, for November 2012;

Kari-Helene Rane

Kari-Helene

Kari-Helene

I discovered her work thanks to Create and Craft, where she and her business partner Tracy, were demonstrating patterns Kari-Helene had designed for their company Purl Alpaca. For those of you who haven’t yet found Kari-Helene, here is a little more about her and her work.

Who you are:

K-H: My name is Kari-Helene Rane and I am a 32-year-old Norwegian who has been living in London for the last 10 years. I studied for my BA in Fashion designs at Kingston University, where I graduated in 2005. Although my degree was a general fashion degree I ended up focusing on knit-wear and using alpaca yarn.

Where you are (which country you are based in)?

K-H: Now I live and work in North London.

What you do:

K-H: I am a knit-wear designer specialising in hand knitting and working with alpaca yarn. I run Purl Alpaca Designs with my business partner Tracy Birch and we provide designer hand knitting kits, luxury yarns and knitting patterns. We take the product right from the alpaca’s back and see it through every step of the way. We own 17 alpacas and use their fleece along with the fleeces from a select few alpaca farms in our local area to produce our yarn. The yarn is spun in Oxfordshire by a specialist mill. Our yarn is 100% made in England and it is undyed as we want to provide a natural and as environmentally friendly product as possible. Alpacas have such wonderful natural colours we do not see the need for added colour!

Geronimo Jumper; Womens Unisex; Purl Alpaca

Geronimo Jumper; Womens Unisex; Purl Alpaca

What got you started in your creative journey?

K-H: I have always been a creative person. I was taught knitting at a young age by my mum and grandmother and started experimenting with designing clothes for my dolls. I created collections with different themes for my cut out paper dolls and sewed and knitted garments for my Barbie.
I loved anything I could create with, drawing, sewing, embroidery, knitting and weaving. I’ve tried my hand at almost anything imaginable! It was only as an adult working in a haberdashery store I realised that doing fashion design could actually be a job!

Jerri Cowl; Purl Alpaca

Jerri Cowl; Purl Alpaca

What inspires you:

K-H: I can find inspiration in almost anything. I look at colours, texture and pattern in images, magazines, shop windows, old walls and in nature. Colours, texture and structure – there is beauty in pretty much anything! Mainly I find inspiration in actual knitting. I find that making and creating triggers my brain to think of new and innovative ways of using yarn and needles to create interesting designs. i also get inspiration from vintage clothing. I love the 1940s and 50s and I think this comes through in my work, although I try to give everything a contemporary edge.

If money,time and obligations were no object, what you would most like to do?

K-H: I love what I am doing at the moment, but ideally I would love to do it in a gorgeous house with a lovely garden set in a beautiful landscape somewhere where the sun always shines!

What do you enjoy most about your creative work/life?

K-H: I love the creative freedom I have working for myself. I enjoy coming up with ideas and following it trough to the end product. I love hearing from customers when they have enjoyed making and love wearing something I have designed. It’s a real pleasure to know that my vision provides someone with joy – both making and wearing!

Links

Purl Alpaca is a wonderful company, both kari-Helene and her business partner Tracy Birch, regularly appear on Create and Craft TV to showcase their latest patterns and introduce the most recent alpaca’s whose fleeces are spun to create their yarns.

Kari-Helene and Tracy are people and a company with real heart, you can tell how much they care about the Alpaca’s.  Their passion for the whole process really shines through.

Kari-Helene & Tracy Birch

Kari-Helene & Tracy Birch

To find out more about Kari-Helene and her work, please visit her blog and website, details below.

Thanks to Kari-Helene for being our Featured Artist of the Month for November 2012.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing; Gina Barrett’s; Making Braids and Cords DVD.

Making Braids and Cords DVD

Making Braids and Cords DVD

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Gina Barrett/ Making Passementerie
  • Item Name: Making Braids and Cords; Beginners Selection
  • Item number ISBN: 978-0-9546618-8-5
  • RRP at time of writing: £17
  • Run Time: 94 minutes

Content

Main Chapters

  • Tools & Materials
  • Getting Started
  • Plaited Braids
  • Twisted (Spun) Cords
  • Sewing Machine Cords
  • Wrapped, Knotted & Woven Cords
  • Hints & Tips

Details of projects in each chapter

  • Tools & Materials: What you will need to create the projects shown on the DVD
  • Getting Started: Preparing Warps, Elements & Ends, Constrictor Knot, Half Hitch, Binding
  • Plaited Braids: 4 Element Flat Braid, 4 Element Round Braid, 5 Element Braid version, 5 Element Braid version 2, 8 Element Crossover Braid, 8 Element Soutache
  • Finger loop Braids: Preparing Loops, Loop Replacement & Techniques, Round Lace 5 loops, Broad Lace 5 loops, German Lace 5 loops, Baston 5 loops, Lace Bend, Grene Dorge, Cheveron 8 Loops
  • Twisted (Spun) Cords: Twist S and Z, Monk’s Cord, 3 Element Cord, 2 in 1 Cord, Wavy Gimp, Double-spun cord
  • Sewing Machine Cords: Zig zag Cord, Encased Cord, Cutting Bias Strips, Rouleau
  • Wrapped, Knotted & Woven Cords: Gimp (Bourdon cord), Soutache version 1, Soutache version 2, Spiral, Hand Knotted
  • Hints & Tips: Uses for the braids

Reason For Buying

When I first saw Gina demonstrate some of these techniques on Create & Craft,  I knew I wanted this DVD. There were so many ideas I had, for all the different things I’d use the cords with, especially to add a new dimension to my bookbinding projects and with boxes too.

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • There are 25 braids and cord designs shown on the DVD
  • There is a full pictorial list of all the designs, on the inside cover of the DVD, to help you find just the one you want.
  • The eye level camera work, means it is like standing next to Gina as she braids. This makes it much easier to learn the techniques.
  • Each design has a page about its history and how it has been used in the past. Next comes a slow walk through of the technique itself, followed by a really helpful page you can freeze frame and make notes from. This page lists the steps used for the project you just saw. This is really helpful as it’s the ‘chant’ you can use as you create the braid/cord for yourself, and helps to keep you on track, while you are learning.
  • There is a clearly laid out menu system, each style has a dedicated chapter and then a large number of projects in each one. After you play a design, the menu returns you to the start of the chapter, to choose where you would like to go next.
  • Very clear instructions and I like that it has the written element as well as the visual demonstrations. We all learn in different ways and the extra dimension means that the new technique stays with you for longer.
  • There is an excellent description of the tools and materials you will need and for how to start and finish your chosen project.
  • Buying directly from Gina’s website, you also have the choice to have the DVD in NTSC or in PAL formats.

Cons

  • The menu system does not have a play all feature. Being new to the subject, I wanted to watch the whole thing, see what it was all about and then pick a design to re-create. Which without the play all feature, made it a bit awkward, as after each design, you kept being bumped back to the start of the chapter. Just a niggle, as in normal usage, I’m sure you would just go straight to the design you wanted to make, so for longer term use, it’s probably not a problem.
  • The ‘theme’ is played at the start of each chapter: This is normal enough, but it it’s quite loud and without the ‘Play all’ feature you will hear it a lot, which gets a bit wearing. It also plays at the same volume as the narration throughout the getting started section, which was distracting and made it difficult to focus on what was being said. It does not play through the main demonstrations though.

Build Quality

Fantastic! The lighting is superb as is the camera work and angles used. You can see clearly what is being demonstrated and the view is as if you are standing next to Gina, so you get almost the same view of the braid, that you would have, when you make it. This makes learning the techniques MUCH easier.

The demonstrations are superb as are the explanations of what is happening, Gina is a very calming, encouraging teacher.

Value for Money

Excellent! In each section there are lots of designs a total novice could achieve and later in each chapter the difficulty/complexity increases so still plenty to stretch your new abilities as your skills and confidence grow.

Would I buy it Again?

Yes. This is a fantastic DVD. Even though my own limited dexterity will hamper what I can achieve with this craft, I still enjoyed learning about how the braids are created and the history behind them. I highly recommend this DVD to anyone interested in making or learning more about Braiding and cord making.

Summing up

This is a fascinating subject. Gina has a wonderfully calming voice and walks you through everything step by step. Even if my lack of fine motor skills don’t let me braid very much, I have still highly enjoyed this DVD, to learn more designs and how they were used in the past. I highly recommend this DVD to everyone interested in using cords or braids with their creative projects. The projects would suit a wide age range and some of the simpler briads could also be achieved by younger children too. Great for jewellery making as well as for decoration.

I’m currently experimenting with alternative ways of holding thread/yarn, to see if I can find a work around for my poor dexterity. I’ll let you know how I get on and if I find any useful suggestions that may help others with dexterity problems.

Links

Do follow the links below to find out more about Gina Barrett and where you can purchase this excellent DVD.

Many thanks to Gina for this DVD, it has been a joy to watch and I look forward to your continuation of the series.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

Today I’d like to share a picture of my latest knitting project; created from a pattern available on Ravelry. Non Felted Slippers by Yuko Nakamura. I used my favorite James Brett Marble Chunky yarn and am really pleased with how they turned out.

Cozy Knitted Slippers

Cozy Knitted Slippers

I’m going to try the pattern again and adapt it to try for a boot version by adding some extra rows above the top edge.

Hope you like them and will give them a try, the pattern isn’t too hard. Stitches needed: Knit, Purl, Knit 1, Knit 2 together, Pass slip stitch over. They are knitted flat and sewn together at the end.

I know it’s a little early in the year to post a picture of cozy slippers, but due to dexterity issues, I have to make the most of the good weather to knit. Once the weather is cold n wet my hands don’t work so well.

How about you, what are you knitting right now?

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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