Vix Knits… and crochets and sews…

My adventures in the wonderful world of arts and crafts

New technique – broomstick crochet

I had a lot of things on my ‘to learn’ list this year.

Broomstick crochet was pretty low on the list but it was suggested as an advanced workshop for Folk East this year (more on that another time)

So, of course, I volunteered not only to learn it but to put together the help sheet for the workshop and teach other people!

The original piece I found on Pinterest wasn’t actually very helpful so I went on the hunt.

YouTube was again my friend and I found a brilliant tutorial by Crochet Ever After.

I have to admit that I find the process a little tedious but the results are amazing.

Now I just need to make sure I can still manage it with a slightly larger ‘broomstick’ rather than the 10mm crochet hook I’ve been using

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Honeymoon on my mind!

Oh my very goodness, somehow, in less than three weeks, I have managed to finish my honeymoon shawl!

I was fairly convinced that this project would be one to keep me occupied for a couple of months while doing other wedding-related things and working and studying and other crafts etc etc…

But the stitch pattern is so easy and works up so quickly that it’s already done

Here it is!

DSCF2986I’m still pondering whether to block it or not but since I’ve still got three months, it’s a decision that can wait

Here’s a close up of the centre

DSCF2988And the edging

DSCF2989And finally, the fascinating garter tab construction

DSCF2993I love it, there are simply no other words

You can find the Ravelry page for the pattern here and my project page links to it.

I’ve used the recommended Cascade 220 in two of the three recommended colours, substituting the yellow for a burnt orange.

I thought about using the yellow but had really set my heart on a nice orange so when I found the yellow was unavailable (possibly discontinued) the decision was easy.

The only problem I had with the pattern was that I have no idea what M1L and M1R mean so I used a simple YO instead and I’m really chuffed with the result.

The pattern is really simply written and pretty cheap as well so perfect for a first shawl or even a beginner knitter.

I definitely indulged on the yarn, it’s not at all what I would normally buy but I was pretty happy that it would fit in with my stance on animal rights (some wool farms, particularly Australian wool farms, do not treat their sheep well so I tend to avoid it in favour of plant fibres)

The price was also a little more than I would normally spend but I decided that, for my honeymoon, it would be a nice treat

And it certainly was that. The yarn is beautifully soft and doesn’t easily split as it twists through your fingers. The colours are very rich and the range available is incredible.

My other indulgence was the needle. As a rule, I don’t get on well with circular needles so I wanted to treat myself to a… ‘posher’ needle in the hopes that the quality would improve the experience. I went for a 100cm, 7mm KnitPro Symfonie

Again, I was not disappointed. The wooden needle is soft, smooth and warm (very important in my chilly seaside flat!), the wire straightens out better than the Pony needles I’m used to, and the transition between needle and wire is nowhere near as difficult as the Ponys

I did skimp a little on the stitch markers. Again, as a rule, I hate stitch markers but I think I was using the wrong kind for this type of project so I invested a couple of quid on some new ones (I couldn’t really justify £5 on stitch markers, nor could I decide which ones I liked best) and they actually worked really well

All in all, a very happy Vix

On the subject of my impending honeymoon, we’re asking for recommendations on sights to see while we’re away.

Wait, did I mention that we’re travelling the US for three weeks?!

We fly into New York and out of San Francisco but so far all our destinations seem to clustered on the coasts so we need some recommendations for the middle bits!

Here’s a list of things that we love: walking; water (sea, river, stream, waterfall, we’re not fussy); movies (I like to visit filming locations and we’d both appreciate an outdoor cinema experience); a bit of adventure; being off the beaten track.

Also, any yarn/craft store recommendations are appreciated since I have an idea to crochet a beautiful blanket while we’re travelling and when we get home and hope to buy some scrummy yarn while we’re away.

Apologies if this post was a bit lengthy, excitement makes me babble!






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My first foray into shawl knitting…

…has been pretty disastrous so far!
After seeing some lovely shawls on other blogs, I’ve become obsessed with knitting one for myself and the lace cardi I knitted for mum has reawakened my love of lace knitting
So I decided to knit myself a lovely shawl for our honeymoon (four months left!)
After trawling Ravelry and struggling to get a feel for the patterns, I decided to go through my pattern stash so I could get a better idea of the stitch patterns and processes involved. I didn’t find that many but I fell in love with a few so researched them further and decided on one from an issue of Knit magazine (now Yarnwise) However, the Ravelry project page highlighted some issues with the magazine pattern with a note to email the designer for an updated version. Which I did and received a very speedy email back with the pattern attached.
However, after trying to swatch the pattern I ran into more issues since there were problems with the written pattern and I don’t like working from a chart (must remember to email the designer)
So I went back to the drawing board. The other two patterns I loved were less than ideal since one was crochet and the other was chunky. Then I found some more magazines put aside because I planned on making one of the projects and rediscovered another gorgeous pattern. I still couldn’t make it work
So I’ve ended up going back to the first pattern that I fell in love with on Ravelry -the mareeka shawl by Brian Smith
I’ve searched in and I love the pattern, being more textured than lacy, it’s a much easier knit. However, it’s also reminded me of my hatred of stitch markers!
Anyway, I planned to buy all my supplies in London yesterday. I love the colours of the shawl so decided to use the recommended yarn in similar colours (I think the yellow is discontinued and I’d set my heart on orange) and I need a 7mm circular needle and decided to treat myself to some snazzy stitch markers so I wouldn’t hate them quite so much.
Turns out Loop is a bit out of the way for a time-limited trip and John Lewis and Liberty’s didn’t have any suitable yarn so I came away with nothing.
Not too much of a problem since you can order from Loop online so the yarn will hopefully be here by next weekend (just in time for hospital appointment next Monday)
The needles should be fairly easy too, from one of my local yarn stores but stitch markers are a lot more tricky.
I’ve been trawling Etsy for about an hour but I can’t decide which ones I like best! I’m only looking at UK sellers so the postage costs are cheaper and they arrive more quickly but there’s still so much choice
I think I need a fruit tea and some more time to ponder…
Wish me luck (and patience)


Pom-poms everywhere!

I’m sure many of you will have watched Kirstie Allsopp’s xmas offering last week and I know at least some of you have succumbed to the pom-pom already (naming no names of course Lucie and Claire)

Well, I wasn’t far behind!

I’ve often looked at the Pony pom-pom makers but decided they were unnecessary (cardboard is just as easy and cheaper of course) besides which, I don’t often make pom-poms

Well, my assistant manager told me he didn’t want beer for xmas but he would like a knitted bobble hat.

Well you can’t make a bobble hat without a pom-pom or two (or three) so, of course, I had to buy the Clover pom-pom maker as demonstrated by Kirstie Allsopp

Not as easy as it sounds since the Hobbycraft in Milton Keynes (where we were visiting friends) had sold out within a day but were expecting a delivery later that day

We popped back in the next morning before heading home but the delivery hadn’t been

Thankfully, a nice lady there remembered me and let me have one that had been put aside for a no-show customer! (I do feel bad for said customer but they held it for several days)

And so…

My first bobble hat!

DSCF2926 DSCF2927


It had to have three bobbles because they’re quite small but I like it and the recipient was really happy too. He particularly liked the moss stitch and that was the bit I was worried about


Modelled by my Steven

It was super quick to knit up and, thanks to my Clover pom-pom maker, the pom-poms were a pleasure and not a chore

Wish I’d thought to use them instead of ribbon on my xmas gifts…

Still, plenty of birthday gifts planned


Sewing progress

Just a few quick pics today (it’s almost time for The Apprentice!)


















This is the first practice piece, I started by sewing a square in the middle and then a double hem along one edge (sorry the pics aren’t great, I had to turn the flash off so the stitches would show up)

Not bad for a first attempt though, right?

Next I had to practice sewing onto a piece of crochet, which was ok but had to be sewn crochet side up so it was difficult to guide the piece properly.

This practice piece was used more than once and, as such, was unsuitable for photographing

So, here is a finished notebook (mine/practice)






























Again, this was sewn crochet side up so the stitching is far from perfect

















However, my stitching genius came up with an amazing solution – pin a piece of greaseproof paper on the other side of the crochet and then you can sew it fabric side up and guide the stitching along the lining!

It works like a charm and Mum’s notebook looks much better

DSCF2727 DSCF2728 DSCF2729 DSCF2730Still not perfect but she was really pleased with it so I’m really happy too.

Right, that took longer than planned so I’m off for telly and more crochet (and maybe some wine…)



Stressful times and new adventures

Wow, last week was hard going! And this one isn’t shaping up to be much better although this afternoon is turning out a lot better than I thought.

Thankfully Steven’s back on days (YAY!), unfortunately he’s still doing 12 hour days, six days a week… but it is better… mostly

Anyway, I’m trying really hard not to dwell on the rubbish so we’ll get down to crafty business

I’m learning to sew!

Now, I’ve always been surprisingly good at hand sewing (mostly because I’m a perfectionist I think). But, with the exception of a fairly disastrous pencil case that I made in middle school, I’d never used a sewing machine.

Until a couple of weeks ago that is. Steven bought me (us?) the machine on our last trip to Hobbycraft and I’m already getting a bit obsessed.

The main reason I wanted one was a single project that I thought would make excellent xmas gifts (more on that tomorrow)

And then I started the granny square handbag and thought it was just all the more reason to need one.

So now I’m almost hunting for patterns that involve knitting/crochet AND sewing because I’m loving it so much and, after a few false starts, I think I’m getting quite good.

I’ll try and get some pics of progress so far and do another update tomorrow.

I’ve also bought some patterns to make crochet shoes! And I’m talking SHOE shoes and not indoor slipper shoes.

I’m having to combine two patterns because of the materials involved but I’m very excited and just waiting for a day to dedicate to this latest adventure.

I have a few concerns mostly about size but I think they’ll be easier to figure out as I go.

Oh and some of you may have noticed the new additions on the right?! I’m really getting into both Etsy and Ravelry so I thought I’d link to my accounts (I opened my Etsy shop yesterday with a single crochet watch but hopefully it will grow!)

Hope you all have a lovely crafty evening, I’m off out to pester my sewing genius (aka Mummy)


Another call for help

Before I get started on all my catch-up posts, I’m afraid I need to ask for more advice

I’ve just finished a project and I had another one in mind (not one from my massive list but an entirely new one)

However, circumstances are conspiring against me to let me know that I’m in (almost) desperate need of a new cardigan

I’ve been standing in front of the mirror a lot lately thinking ‘I really like this outfit, what cardi can I wear?’

My new favourite cardi is a bought-knit black and white houndstooth that we actually bought for a sixties fancy dress party

However, there are certain outfits that it just won’t go with.

My second favourite cardi was obviously once my favourite since it looks about ten years older than it is and is now too big for me

This leaves me with two bought-knit cardis and my crochet sambuca jacket, all of which feature very open lace patterns so aren’t really suitable for the weather and my crochet spencer jacket

The spencer jacket, unfortunately, hasn’t really fared well with a lot of wear and, again, won’t suit a lot of outfits

So… the project that I had planned was a rather nice Fair Isle jumper from a recent issue of Simply Knitting

I’ve never had much luck with Fair Isle but I’d love to master it

I’ve scrapped the idea of the jumper in favour of a much more useful cardigan

But the question is, which cardigan?

I’m very tempted to adapt the jumper pattern so it’s a cardi instead and I’m mostly wondering if anyone has attempted such a thing

However, I also looked through my existing patterns and found a couple of lovely pieces so maybe I would adapt one of those to include a dash of Fair Isle

Let me know what you think and I’ll try to get some pics of the possibilities

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The journey will be almost ends-less!

So, after the painful few hours I spent weaving in those 52 ends (see previous post – Look Mum, no ends!) I decided to try a different technique.

First here’s a pic of the first six all sewn together

















I have to admit that I often hurry my ends; it’s a job that I hate so I do it as quickly as possible

However, because I want this blanket to be both robust and reversible, I wanted to make sure that the ends were really well done so they didn’t ruin the look or the usability of the blanket.

So, I’ve actually been doing it properly! Weaving in a few inches one way and then coming back the other way which should ensure the ends stay put.

However, it also means nearly twice the time and effort.

I’d read about a technique in knitting where you can weave the ends in as you go (probably in The Knitting and Crochet Biblereview) so I thought I’d try it with my crochet

The colour changes make things interesting but once you get used to it, it works quite nicely.

And it’s pretty much as simple as crocheting over the ends as you work along.









So, obviously, this is how it would normally look, crocheting into a chain space (ch sp)










But to weave in the ends as you go, you need to catch the end and work over the top of it.









As you can see, the end moves around as your work does

If you’re careful, you can even work both ends in on one row but try not to do them together as this will make the work thicker so it might look uneven.









Lay the end around the work so it doesn’t pull too tight or hang too loose when you get to the start of the row









Then work it as before, catching the end under the stitches as you work them

Obviously, the start and end can’t be woven in in the same way (although if you’re working with a chain ring and not a magic circle it might work) and you need to weave the other ends back slightly but it’s much quicker.

Unfortunately, with a colour change almost every row, it takes a bit more concentration to actually crochet the motif so that takes a little bit longer.

But it’s so worth it!


Magazine misadventure… resolved?

Inside Crochet actually came out on time this month (well, last month, technically)!

Inside, in place of the usual editor’s letter, there is a ‘team letter’

It reads:

We’ve had an exciting month. Not only are we now under brand new ownership, and have embraced seaside living with new offices down in sunny Bournemouth, there have been some changes to the team as well.

We say a fond farewell to our interim editor, although Charles will still have close links with Inside Crochet, and are really excited to announce that Claire Montgomerie will be returning as editor from next issue.

Don’t forget to check out our new contact details to the left…

A letter from Claire about the changes and the next issue is included further on and she talks about “a fresh new look and layout” in the next issue (issue 32 should be on shelves from July 27th)

I still think the whole thing is very odd and has been strangely handled (a missing issue, no mention of new ownership until after the event, a complete move and changes in staffing) but I suppose not all readers are as curious as I am, nor would they appreciate the honesty if Inside Crochet/All Craft Media admitted wrongdoing.

Anyway, I’m glad to have it back and I’m currently hunting for a 6mm Tunisian crochet hook so I can try my hand at a new skill and make the Summer Breeze Shrug.

I was quite excited to hear about the redesign… but then I bought the latest issue of Yarnwise (formerly Knit) magazine

Like  Inside CrochetYarnwise was owned by ACM and taken over by Tailormade but the name change and redesign were already planned.

Quite honestly, I hate it. With a fiery passion!

I don’t think it’s very user-friendly and I find the pages quite jarring to look at. The info doesn’t seem to flow the way it used to (and needs to)

I always quite liked the fact that Inside Crochet and Knit had similar layouts as I think it really highlighted them as sister magazines and made it easier to switch between the two.

I can only hope that the Inside Crochet redesign will be better…


A bucketload of inspiration, a project list the length of an orangutan’s arm and just enough enthusiasm to fill a small thimble

So, after last week’s über upbeat post, I find myself a bit stuck!

I think the problem is that I’ve got too much going on so I feel like I can’t decide what to do first and can’t quite concentrate on any one thing.

Aside from my little book and magazine obsession, I’m actually being very good on the crafting front and not buying any new yarn until I’ve completed some projects (of course, it helps that money’s more than a little tight!)

So, projects currently ‘on the metal’ (e.g. actually started and sitting on needles/hook) are: my cricket jumper; a small, very irritating, crochet design piece for the book… oh my goodness, that might actually be everything!

However… projects planned and with materials are: a few ‘plarn’ projects, both for the book and for myself; some more novelty knits from Tasty Knits; experimentation with some new stitches and techniques, thanks to The Knitting and Crochet Bible; and some novelty crochet gifts.

Plus the planned projects that I need to buy yarn for: two baby blankets for a friend; a bigger knitting design piece for the book; a lovely crochet shrug for me; numerous other design pieces for the book; and potential xmas gifts for everyone.

Add to the crafting: some experimental baking (I’m currently attempting baked doughnuts!); a new job; vague job hunting (long story); lots and lots of books; and time to, you know, eat and sleep and stuff.

I figure the remedy for all this is as follows: DO NOT BUY ANY NEW YARN; try not to look through too many books and magazines, they’ll only give you more ideas; decide on a task for the day and get it done (or as much as you can before bedtime); get enough sleep and sustenance; drink lots of tea; get outside at least once a day to clear your head; and don’t complain too much or your nearest and dearest will ban you from crafting.

I’m doing quite well… but, like I said, enthusiasm is running very low so I’m also trying to stick to smaller projects that can be completed quickly and only working on my cricket jumper when I’ve got lots of time and space to myself.

What do you do when you hit a rut? And how do you decide which project is more important?

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