Saturday, September 19, 2015

Happy Birthday Blacker Yarns!

picture courtesy of Blacker Yarns
Blacker Yarns are celebrating their tenth anniversary at their Cornish woollen mill in Launceston this month by releasing a limited edition yarn they have named Cornish Tin, spun from ten different fibres to create one gorgeous, soft and bouncy yarn that is a pleasure to knit with.

Cornish Tin truly is a celebration of British grown fibres and includes Gotland, Jacob, Shetland, English Merino and Black Welsh Mountain plus mohair and alpaca to create a beautiful bouncy yarn with lustrous sheen and a delicate halo after washing and blocking.

Cornish Tin comes in two weights - 4ply (100g/347m) and DK (100g/220m) priced at £12.90 a skein. Both weights are available in a natural grey and four bold colours, all named after Cornish tin mines and all of which tone together beautifully.

Blacker Yarns very kindly sent me a sample of the 4ply in Wheal Rose Red to play with...

How beautiful is that? The yarn felt very soft and smooshy (is that a word? It should be...) but with a slightly rustic hand spun feel to it. I couldn't wait to get it on my needles!

After playing around with a few basic stitches - garter, stocking and rib - I decided that the 4ply would be just perfect for a lace pattern I had been playing around with recently...

picture from my Instagram feed - for some reason my phone camera cannot cope with the rich burgundy red colour and turned it purple...

The yarn is beautiful to knit with, soft on the hands but grippy on the needles so perfect for lace work. It's not at all splitty either (which comes in handy when you realise you're a stitch out on your lacework pattern and you need to undo a couple of rows!).

Once washed and blocked the fabric softens even further but the stitch definition is fantastic. The yarn has a lot of stretch in it so it's ideal for lace projects that require quite aggressive blocking! It still feels pretty robust though - I feel that this yarn will wear well and be perfect for hats, scarves, cowls, shawls and gloves.

I love Cornish Tin so much I *may* have broken my yarn diet and snaffled myself a trio of skeins...

Cornish Tin was released yesterday (as this blog post was supposed to be but wasn't. Long story. I won't bore you with the details...) and Blacker Yarns own online shop has virtually sold out of a couple of colours already so if you want some you had better be quick!

So - you have your precious skeins of Cornish Tin - now what to make with it?
Well Sonja at Blacker Yarns has come up with a couple of lovely patterns - some colour work mittens and two hats - that can be downloaded for free from their website.

I have also created a special pattern too, based on that lovely lace above!

The Lost in the Forest Mitts pattern is inspired by the Forest I call home. Knitted flat from the top down and seamed leaving a gap for the thumb, both mitts are identical with no shaping so all you have to concentrate on is the lace pattern, making them an ideal first lacework project. More experienced knitters will be able to whip up a pair in an evening! Best of all they only use about a third of skein of 4ply Cornish Tin leaving enough yarn for another little project!

Lost in the Forest Mitts are just perfect for autumnal woodland rambling and foraging for wild blackberries (a favourite September pastime of mine!)

The pattern is available as a free download from Ravelry until the end of September. Just click on the link below. I hope you enjoy knitting the pattern as much as I enjoyed creating it!

Finally I would just like to say

Happy Birthday Blacker Yarns

Here's to another ten years, and more, of beautiful British yarns! 

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Book Review :: Sharpie Art Workshop

Sharpies at the ready...

Sharpie Art Workshop 

by Timothy Goodman 


published by Rockport

Did you know that Sharpie markers were first invented in 1964 (as a refinement of the earlier Magic Marker felt tip pen) and were the first permanent marker pens?

No? Me neither! I also didn't know that some 400 million Sharpies have been sold worldwide (I own 28 of those...)

Sharpies can be used on a variety of surfaces from paper, card and canvas to glass, ceramics and even metal. This, coupled with the bold colours and lines of Sharpie markers have made them the go-to medium for artists and designers and autograph hunters worldwide.  In his book, Sharpie Art Workshop, graphic designer and Sharpie fan Timothy Goodman explores the world of Sharpie markers and the artists that use them.

As the title suggests he also offers inspiration and ideas for your own Sharpie creations from mini canvases to drawing on shoes or creating a skateboard masterpiece!

This isn't so much a how-to or instruction manual as a creative and inspirational resource book showcasing the fascinating and innovative ways these versatile marker pens have been utilised.

If you ever wanted to make your mark with Sharpies this book could set you in the right direction!

I thought I'd have a go drawing on a ceramic bowl   (picked up from the charity shop for 30p) - I am no artist but I loved how easy the pens are to work with and instant drying means no smudges!

I can see many more Sharpie decorated plant pots and bowls happening very soon...

I have one copy of Sharpie Art Workshop to give away - just leave a comment here telling me what you would draw on with your Sharpies. Make sure you include either an email address, Twitter or Instagram ID so I can contact you if you win!
Winner will be picked by at random from all valid entries.
Competition closes 20th September 2015 at 7pm GMT and is open to everyone. Good Luck!

ps: you might want to check out Timothy Goodman Instagram account @timothygoodman to see more of his fab Sharpie work including his excellent series 'Memories of a Girl I Never Knew'.

Thursday, August 13, 2015


it's hip to be square...
Here's a little heads up for all you happy hookers out there!

Saturday August 15th 2015 is Instagram's #grannysquareday15 - hosted by Susan @suregal27 this is a little fun for the wonderful Instagram crochet community.

The idea is to create a virtual community blanket of colourful crochet loveliness in one day.  Then we are all encouraged to create montages of our favourite granny squares (there are lots of free apps out there to do this with screen shots - I use CollagePro for Android which can be found on GooglePlay) which can then be used to create lasting momentos - mugs, bags, keyrings, posters etc - celebrating crochet granny squares in all their multi coloured glory!

Want to join in?

 All you have to do to take part is post a full frame photo of a granny square and use the the hasthag #grannysquareday15 - make sure you do this ON THE DAY (Susan has posted a picture illustrating the kind of picture to upload on her Instagram feed. She has also requested that no-one use the hashtag before the day or use it to post pics of works in progress or it will spoil the blanket effect )

Need some inspiration?

Just search the hashtag #grannysquares on Instagram or check out my GrannySquareLove pinterest board for all the granny inspiration you need!

Follow Forest Flower Designs's board GrannySquareLove on Pinterest.

I hope you will join me celebrating glorious granny squares on Instagram on August 15th, I can't wait to see the virtual community blanket as it comes together!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Rhubarb Crumble Tart Recipe

I love rhubarb - the tartness contrasts so wonderfully with all the sweetness that abounds in summer. Since planting my own rhubarb crown three years ago I have been blessed with an abundance of lovely pinky green rhubarb stems all through late spring and early summer. I love it served as a compote with yoghurt, whisked up with cream and yoghurt to make Rhubarb Fool and in my all time favourite pudding - crumble with custard. But as lovely as crumble and custard puddings are sometimes you want something a little more....well... refined. Try this lovely tart with a sweet pastry base (adapted from Jamie Oliver's wonderful Old Fashioned Sweet Pastry recipe), and a crispy crumble topping. Serve cooled slices with a little cream for a lovely summer dessert.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Summer Holidays - Seaside trips and summer knits

The summer holidays officially started here on Friday! We celebrated by heading over to my parent's place for a few days and taking a little day trip down to Barry Island (of Gavin and Stacey fame) to paddle in the sea, dig in the sand, explore rock pools and eat fish and chips and ice cream on the promenade...

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A month of knitalongs...

Instagram has opened up a whole new knitty world to me - knitalongs!

I signed up to not one but two shawl knitalongs at the end of May - not that I don't have any other projects to be getting on with but you know how it goes...

First up was #greatdividekal2015 (I'm using the Instagram hashtags here so you can go check them out if you wish) which was hosted by the lovely Jessie @bigheart_smalltown.

This what a bit of an impromptu project - I was packing to take Roo to stay with my parents for a few days in the half term and looking for something small and simple to take with me when I spotted her post about a shawl knitalong using a pattern called The Great Divide Shawl by Michele Brown.  Rooting through my stash I found a couple of vintage cones of yarn I had been given a while ago that I thought would be just perfect.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

WIPS Linky is back!!

Yay! It's back!! The monthly Works-in-progress post with linky is back!!

For new readers and those older ones who may have forgotten, the WIPSLinky was a monthly post where I showed you what various crafty projects I was working on and I invited you to show me yours via the little linky widget at the bottom of the post (here are a couple of earlier WIPSLinky posts to give you an idea - you may recognise a certain Butterick pattern that was featured on The Great British Sewing Bee this year! Way ahead of my time, me!!)

So what am I up to right now?

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