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.

The pattern calls for DK yarn and mine was closer to 4ply/fingering weight so I dropped from 5mm to 4mm needles which meant I probably knitted a few more rows than I would have done with DK and the wingspan of my shawl ended up slightly smaller but I am still super pleased with the results! (the tassels were not part of the original pattern - I added them as a finishing touch and love them!)

The second knitalong was hosted by one of my favourite designers Gudrun Johnston  aka The Shetland Trader. The #shetlandtraderMKAL was a mystery knitalong with Gudrun releasing clues via Ravelry over a four week period. Again I went through my stash and decided to use some lovely Shetland wool I had by J C Rennie and again not sure of the yardage of my part used skeins I went for the smaller size.
As a shawl knitting novice I loved not knowing where the pattern was going and the simple but beautiful design was perfect for a beginner shawl knitter there were even a number of threads set up on The Shetland Trader Ravelry group discussion board so we could all share our shawls and give help, advice and encouragement. Gudrun was very active here and on Instagram cheering us all on (and clarifying pattern points when necessary!) I even managed to keep up with the schedule, completing each clue in time for the next one.

I loved the construction of the shawl - each section was knitted in a different direction and even picking up the stitches between sections one and two added a great design twist to shawl.

I have decided to gift this beautiful shawl to my mum who I know will love that yellow ( I just need to find a perfect brooch/shawl pin to go with it!) but I love it so much I am already looking around for more yarn to make another one just for me!

I have learnt several new techniques in making both of these shawls including splicing two yarns together for colour changes, using yarn overs to create loops on the outer edge of the knitting, knitting through back loops to create lovely twisted stitches that really lift the pattern, a new method of binding off that is perfect for lacework as it is stretchy, and finally blocking the finished shawls to open up the lacework. Plus I have two projects started AND completed in less than a month!

I think my love affair with knitalongs has only just begun - I love the camaraderie, sharing and encouragement that comes with working the same pattern with a whole group of like minded people from all corners of the globe! I loved seeing all the different interpretations of the same pattern. I loved the challenge of knitting to a deadline as I am notorious for starting projects, getting bored and not finishing them!
In fact I enjoyed it so much I think I will join in another before the end of the month ( I still have a few days!). #Fringehatalong* here I come!

Here are links to Instagram and Ravelry accounts where you can find out more about both of these projects:
Jessie's Instagram is @bigheart_smalltown
Michele Brown can be found @republicofwool on Instagram and also on Ravelery
Gudrun Johnston is @gudrunjohnston on Instagram and many of her patterns can be found at Gudrun Johnston's Ravelry Store

Don't forget you can check out all the lovely shawls from these two knitalongs by searching the hashtags #greatdividekal2015  and  #shetlandtradermkal

* another Gudrun pattern! Yay!!

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?

Well first up is the #cablecardiofdoom  - a beautiful fitted jacket I am making for my sister, that is absolutely smothered in cables, knitted in the round, top down. It's a Drops pattern (this one) and is written very differently to the standard knitting patterns I am used to following. Mistakes were made - hence the hashtag - one of which required the undoing of all work so far and starting again (fortunately only a dozen or so rows in) whilst others were fudged and just about got a way with.

The first challenge was deciphering the terminology and making sure I understood all the instructions. My little notebook became invaluable for keeping track of all the different pattern elements.

notebook - absolutely vital piece of knitting kit!
 Second challenge was knitting a whole garment in one piece!

casting off the main body
I have never done this before (unless you count socks!) and as a knitter who has always balked at any pattern that suggests casting on more than 100 stitches in one go, knitting rows of over 500 stitches was pretty daunting stuff!  The sheer weight of the jacket caused a small problem - I developed tendonitis or 'Knitters Elbow' (basically the same as tennis elbow but not quite so energetic!) and had to lay off the knitting completely for a few days to allow it to heal!

knitting sleeve using magic loop method
Third challenge was learning how to knit the 'magic loop' method - that is knitting a tube (in this case the sleeves) with a long circular needle. I have longed to learn this technique which, as it happens, is terribly easy once you know how!  Much, much easier and less painful than using dpns...

Yesterday I finished the first sleeve so there is only one sleeve to go, buttons to sew on, underarms to stitch up and a few ends to weave in.   Nearly there!

AS ever I have several WIPS on the go at the moment - what knitter/crocheter doesn't? - including the Rainbow Granny Blanket I am making for Riley, the ongoing Beekeepers Quilt KAL and the lovely Breve Cowl from the Cirilia Rose book 'Magpies, Homebodies and Nomads' - I really hope to get as much of these done as possible before the end of April as my fingers are itching to start something new!!

So, what are you currently working on?

 I'd love to see!

Please share your works in progress either by linking up a blog post using the linky widget below or use the hashtag #WIPslinky on Twitter or Instagram, tagging me too so I see them! (@forestflowerdesigns on IG or @forestflower23 on Twitter)
I will try and feature some of your projects on next months WIPsLinky post so please do share!

ps If you want to see more of my WIPs then you can follow me on Instagram for lots of ongoing pics (@forestflowerdesigns) or Ravelry just to see what's on my needles/hook right now (@forestflower23

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Crochet a Granny Cushion Workshop for Absolute Beginners!

Would you love to learn how to crochet but don't really know where to start?

Well if you live in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire/Herefordshire border country you may be interested to hear that I have been invited to teach a crochet course at the lovely Sew Sew Studio in Newent!!

Situated just 15 mins drive from the city of Gloucester, The Newent Shambles Retail Village is a quaint courtyard populated by local artisans and independent shop keepers and is a project I have been involved in since it's conception (you can see more about The Shambles here)

Nic opened Sew Sew Studio at the end of 2014 and it has gone from strength to strength as her sewing classes for adults and children have proved extremely popular. Now she is offering the chance for yarn lovers to extend their skills too!

I have put together a three day workshop (running one morning a week over three weeks) aimed at absolute beginners where you can learn all the basic crochet stitches you need to know to get you going.

Starting with a basic granny square, with colour changes and tips on weaving in the ends, moving on to joining the squares together then creating a beautiful granny stripe back, the course includes everything you need to complete a fabulous cushion - all yarns, pattern and tip sheets, cushion inner and even a crochet hook are provided (along with a cuppa or two and some homemade cakes and cookies!)

Course Details

When:   3 x 3 hour sessions 10am- 1pm on 29th April, 6 May and 13th May 2015
Where:  Sew Sew Studio, Unit 19 , Newent Shambles Retail Village, Newent, Glos

Cost :  £90 for the course

What's included:  Everything! Yarn, cushion inner, time spent one-to-one if needed, pattern, tip sheets to take home, and even your very own crochet hook!

 And refreshments too - Tea and coffee will be available plus I will be baking muffins and cookies especially for my students!

Week one - we will focus on the granny squares - including how to add in new colours and weave in the ends (please note you won't have time to complete ALL 9 granny squares in this session - unless you take to crochet like a duck to water! - so please be prepared to do a little homework!)
Week two - we will be joining the squares together and hooking up a little border and then making a start on our granny stripe cushion back!
Week three - Finishing off the granny stripe back and then joining the front and back together around the cushion inner before patting ourselves on the back for completing a fabulous Granny Cushion!

Spaces are very limited so if you are interested please don't hesitate to get in touch with either Nic at Sew Sew Studio or myself (you can email me at )

For more information and to book please visit Sew Sew Studio's website

I am so excited to be given this opportunity and I cannot wait to introduce some new people to this highly addictive and bang on trend skill!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Upcycled Jeans Patchwork Quilt (part 1)

Debenhams are celebrating the launch of a brand new jeans page on their website by challenging crafty bloggers to come up with ideas for upcycling their old jeans.

Well as I have recently lost rather a lot of weight (hurrah, finally starting to shift the mumtum!) I have a pile of old, worn out jeans just ripe for upcycling so this challenge was perfectly timed.

I even had the perfect project in mind...

 One pile of old jeans

 equals 56 x 15cm squares

equals one cute patchwork quilt top!

It really is very easy...

First deconstruct your jeans by cutting along the inside or outside leg seams and removing the zip, waistband and front pocket section. Open out the legs and, using a square template (mine was a 15cm square plastic template but you could make one any size you like using sturdy cardboard ) mark out and cut out as many squares as you can from your jeans.

Once you have a pile of squares take a little time to lay them all out on the floor and move them around to make a pleasing arrangement (sorry, I didn't get a photo of this step *bad blogger* ). I got 56 squares out of my three pairs of jeans so my layout is 8 rows of 7 squares.  Once you are happy gather the squares up in piles for each row ready to stitch.

Stitch your squares together a row at a time (in my case 7 squares to a row) by placing the first and second square right sides together and stitching along one side. Open out, then place square three face down on square two and stitch along the opposite side to the first seam and so on to create a long strip. Work each pile the same way.

Now press your seams flat - this makes it easier to join the strips together.

Pin and stitch the first and second strips, right sides together, paying special attention to the seams - make sure they line up and also, as you are sewing them make sure they do not get caught up in the stitches! I do this by pinning each side of the seam down through both layers.

Continue in this way, adding each strip to the one before, pressing the seams open as you go.

And there you have it - one gorgeous patchwork quilt top made from my old jeans.

If you want to have a go, here a few tips that may help you along
  •  deconstruct your jeans first - it's much easier to cut out the squares
  •  try and incorporate rips, tears, pockets and stitch details into your squares if you can but do remember that you will have to stitch through all the layers!
  • if your jeans are very worn, or very stretchy, take extra care when drawing around the template as it's very easy to drag the fabric out of shape
  • use your machine foot as a guide for getting an even seam allowance - if all the seams are the same width then they should all line up when you join the strips together
  • Press all the seams as you go, turning the quilt top over and pressing on the right side too, to ensure everything is lining up right and sitting flat.
I will be adding some batting, backing fabric and binding at a later date (ie: when the small boy is back at school after Easter) so I will add part 2 of my Upcycled Jeans Patchwork Quilt make then.

Have you ever tried to upcycle your jeans?

What crafty things have you done with your old denim?

I'd love to hear about your upcycled jeans projects!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

All in a spin...

Last weekend we went on our annual outing to the Creative Crafts Show (herein referred to as CCS) at Malvern Three Counties Showground (you can read about previous years excursions here)

This year was a little different because (a) I had very little money to spend and (b) I had Roo with me.
I won't lie, I didn't enjoy the experience nearly as much having to keep a constant eye on a curious six year old rather than immersing myself in glorious crafty stuff - although the sheer joy on his face when he showed me the stamps and ink pads he had bought with his Christmas money kind of made up for that! - but I still managed to come away with a new nugget of knowledge, some beautiful yarn and lots of inspiration.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Crochet Pattern Testing...

I like to do a little pattern testing for others now and again and this month I have been helping out the lovely Marta ( with her fab new pattern for a Child's Crochet Cowl.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Blogging tips