Recent Projects & Yarny Goodness

Recent Projects from Jaarn Magazine

I realised I hadn’t shared my recently published projects with you. Frida the Frog from Jaarn Magazine Issue Three, Petals and Posts Scarf and Gloves, and Finn’s Blanket from Jaarn Magazine Issue Four. Better late than never, and all that. The magazine is available in digital format from the Jaarn Shop and Ravelry.

Petals and Posts image courtesy Bren Grobler @hookybren

Meet Olive the Guardian Angel

Olive is the prototype for a design I’m busy working on. Testing has been completed, so it’s really getting there. Olive is made from Vinnis Nikkim (DK, 100% cotton) and a 3.0mm hook. I’m toying with the yarn and hook combination to get a tighter finish without it being too stiff. I want to make several in differing skin tones for a nice variety.

I often use a 2mm hook with DK yarn for amigurumi, but it can be slightly uncomfortable as it is extremely tight, and tension can be tricky. Generally speaking I like yarns with a high twist for ami, such as Nurturing Fibres Eco-Cotton and Colourspun cotton. Both are very comfortable on the hands as the high twist has a bit more of a springiness, and stretch. Yarns with a low twist, like Vinnis Nikkim, can be trickier, but it is still a gorgeous yarn and comes in incredible colours.

While you can, technically speaking, use just about any yarn for amigurumi, I do recommend cotton as it washes and wears very well. My grandson’s toys are testament to that! It gives a smooth and durable finish. If you do want a fluffy finish then wool or acrylic might suit, especially if you brush it. As with anything I recommend going with the right yarn for the right application, and that you buy the best you can afford. I always feel that you put so much heart and soul into a project, why would you want it falling to pieces or pilling? It would be wasting all those hours you spent on it.

Playing with yarn

Winter is pretty much here, and so the evenings grow dark earlier. I find myself snuggled in bed with the pooches embarrassingly early, crochet in hand. I’ve always love African Expressions yarns, my favourite being Harmony. I decided that I wanted to try Joy. Joy is a 15% mohair, 40% wool, 45% acrylic yarn. It is wonderfully soft, with a lustrous sheen. It took a long time for me to work with real wool as I have incredibly sensitive skin. It took even longer for me to pick up mohair. This yarn is truly lovely, and I’ve recently completed a design with it.

I made some test squares with Joy, and this is what they looked like before blocking. I do recommend blocking this type of yarn. It will give a professional and smooth finish, and ensure even shaping. You can refer back to my tutorial on spray blocking if you need a refresher.

I’m glad it’s winter. I miss the Eastern Free State, crackling fires, and comfort food when it’s icy outside. Pretoria really is much milder, but as we hurtle through May I’m really getting that hankering for making blankets and comforting projects with squishy, soft yarns. I have recently destashed my yarns, but daresay I’m itching for another round. It also gives me a chance to go through the not insubstantial stash (even after about five rounds of decluttering), and remind myself of some of the amazing yarns that are in there.

Watch this space.

For those of you in the Southern Hemisphere enjoy the cooler days and nights, and those in the Northern Hemisphere, I hope the flowers and warmer days bring you much joy.

Cheers for now.

From Start to Finish

I am a very good starter of things.  I start projects like the ADHD (which I have genuinely being diagnosed with, as well as a mild case of OCD) person that I am.  My concentration flits from one thing to another with astonishing ease and speed.  As I’ve blogged about before, this results in a rather large number of WIPs.

I must, however, digress and tell you about my word for the year.  My word for 2019 is less.  Less everything.  I’ve been decluttering for years, but toward the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019 I really got stuck in and did some pretty brutal decluttering.  Even my yarn stash wasn’t immune to my fervour.  You see, 2018 was a dreadful year.  My husband had an intestinal issued that nearly killed him, eight times. He had eight surgeries in four months.  He spent nearly five months in ICU and most of the rest of the year in hospital and then a step-down facility.  The doctors were quite astonished that he survived, and said it was quite miraculous.  It felt like the year was out of control.  I really got some practice in how to manage my feelings about being so totally out of control.  I got to face the possibility of loss head on, and made friends with people who ended up not being as lucky as I was.  And we really leaned on each other.  I learned about the kindness of strangers, the disappointment in people I thought would be there and weren’t , but more importantly the huge number of people who were so incredibly kind and stepped up when I needed it most.  Back to the decluttering.  I think that with everything feeling so uncontrollable, I felt the need to exert some measure of being in charge of my life, so as a start I took control of my things.

Our home is pretty minimalist.  Despite this, there was still a fair amount of stuff in cupboards, drawers and the store room.  I was getting tired of it.  It starts to feel like possessions own you and not you them. I got stuck into books, clothes, papers, yarn, absolutely everything.  I first read “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying” and “Spark Joy” by Marie Kondo, when they first came out in 2011 and 2012 respectively.  They made an impact at the time and I started and stopped the process many times.  During my decluttering I came to realise that there was a series based on her books on Netflix. I really enjoyed that, and the timing was simply perfect.  It spurred me on further.  All I have left is the kitchen and some sentimental items (which isn’t much at all) and I’m done.  Having said that, I don’t think you’re ever completely done.  You will likely revisit your things many times in your life, but the process gets easier, and the base from which you begin gets smaller.  Decluttering yarn was pretty difficult.  I’m generally not very materialistic and rarely get attached to stuff, but I really liked my yarn collection.  I had to fess up to the fact that there were yarns in there, bought on impulse, I was never, ever going to use.  Lovely though they may be, off they went.  And I actually felt more motivated than ever afterward to use yarns in my stash for projects rather than buying new yarn.

So, with this being the year of less, I thought I could extend that to fewer WIPs too.  Keep just a few WIPs about:  one complex, one easy and portable for out and about, and one for the list of gifts I’ve made.  And I’ve been pretty good.  These are my first three finished projects for 2019, not bad for nearly the end of Feb.  Furthermore they were all made with yarns from my stash:  Win!

 

I’ve been battling a little with the rheumatoid arthritis in my hands (not to mention the lupus everywhere else), so there are a couple of lovely projects in the works, but they’re taking longer than I’d hoped, but hey, I’m doing better than expected.

Our evenings in Rosendal are beginning to cool, as are the early mornings.  We are slowly but surely heading for winter, and I reckon it’ll be a cold one.  Not a bad thing since it means cosy crochet in front of the fire.  That sounds pretty awesome to me as the blanket projects come out then.  Yay.

Hello! It’s been a while…

Good morning to you all from a sunny Free State in South Africa.  I haven’t been around for a very long while.  It’s been quite the roller coaster.  I started my shop The Funky Sheep Shop and am loving the interaction with customers.  It’s hard work, but really worthwhile.

What I haven’t had so much is a chance to chat to you as regularly as before, which really needs to be righted.  I’ve got so many gorgeous products in my shop, but the one that really has my eye at the moment is the Stylecraft Batik Swirl.  It is a divine cake made up of colours from the Stylecraft Batik collection, and I can’t wait to make something gorgeous.  Not too long ago I used the Batik yarn to create a Willow Blanket, which came out wonderfully.

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Now I need ideas for something a little different.  The Batik Swirl is 200g / 550m of 20% wool and 80% premium acrylic in DK weight.  It is lovely and soft, and I love how the colours are muted.  They come in six colourways at present.

They are Blue Ocean, Foxglove, Poppy Field, Purple Mist, Rainbow and Stargazer.  I hardly know which to choose first.  I’m mostly drawn to the Blue Ocean and am thinking a scarf.  The 200g ball should make a rather nice scarf and the wool content will ensure it is gorgeous and warm for winter.  It’s the dog days of summer at the moment, and we are having some pretty warm days, but the mornings and evenings are just cool enough to suggest that winter is not too far away.  Here in the Eastern Free State it can get to -16, so lovely woolly accessories are never a waste.

What have you made with this gorgeous yarn?  Please share your makes.

That’s it for today folks.  Wishing you all a super day.

G

 

 

Spicier Life CAL is nearly here! 🌶

I can truly say that I generally don’t follow CALs other than to admire people’s work. Reading about the new Spicier life CAL, starting tomorrow, I made a decision to finally participate in a CAL. This one is by Sandra Paul of Cherry Heart and Black Sheep Wools. Check out the details on her website: http://www.cherryheart.co.uk. Even though I’m a more advanced crocheter, I sometimes find easy to intermediate patterns fun and soothing.

My decision led to a flurry of activity this evening. I leapt out of bed, where I was reading, to haul out my massive 180litre tubs of Stylecraft Special DK. This was no small feat considering I have a gimpy shoulder from a recent injury, and the other is stubbornly arthritic. Nevertheless I ploughed ahead with fox- terrier determination (two of my seven dogs are fox terriers, so I can attest to their stubborness). At first I toyed with using one of the predetermined colourways, but I wasn’t really drooling over any to be honest. Bollywood was a maybe…but no, I decided to make up my own. I needed 14 complementary colours. I was thinking some blue, a little green, and cream and a few other neutrals to tie it all together.  I know it doesnt fit with the “spicy” theme, but it’s what works for me.

After working through an enormous number of delightfully squishy balls of fabulousness I arrived at my final choice.

14 balls in total of Stylecraft Special DK in:

Cream | Cloud Blue | Gold | Aster | Lobelia | Lime | Petrol  | Bluebell | Camel | Turquoise | Parchment | Sage | Buttermilk | Storm Blue

I used the chart that comes with the downloadable PDF on Sandra’s website (see above). I also added snips of each colour to the chart for instant recognisability. Excuse the messiness.

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And that’s it. I’m all ready for tomorrow. Yay!

Ģoodnight and sweet dreams from a rainy Rosendal in South Africa.