Welcome to The Crochet Circle Podcast. Here are the Show Notes from Episode Six - Shore to Shore.
In this episode we continue with our crochet journeys, including helpful hints on blocking; Yay Crochet or Nay Crochet; Yarn Review of Daughter of a Shepherd Hebridean/Zwartbles yarn; Magazine Round-up; a review of two fibre festivals on either side of the pond – Woolfest and Houston Fibre Fest; WIP Wall and FOs, Feeding the Habit, a fab giveaway from Anna Nikipirowicz and finishing with What's Good.
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1. Yay Crochet or Nay Crochet (at 2.55 mins)
It's a Nay Crochet from Fay due to the lack of crochet content at fibre festivals and in general. When we visited Woolfest, we noticed that most of the stalls were aimed at knitters and even on most of the yarn stalls the samples that were on show were also knitted. This seems at odds with the increasing rise in the popularity of crochet and may be off-putting to new crocheters who perhaps don't realise that you can crochet with any yarn. We know that at Yarndale we'll see a lot more crochet-related vendors and Lynne and I will also be there waving the flag for crochet.
It's a Yay Crochet from Lynne for all the lovely things that people are crocheting up and the inspiration that they give to others. I’ve really been enjoying The Crochet Circle Podcast Ravelry forum – especially seeing all of the lovely finished objects that people are sharing. In particular it’s also made me realise how adaptable crochet is, even if you’re not hugely experienced with crochet. It seems easier for people to take parts of a pattern and make something else altogether, or tweak patterns to suit their individual taste.
Here's the link to our Ravelry FO's board: http://www.ravelry.com/discuss/the-crochet-circle-podcast/3400722/51-75#71
2. Yarn review (at 9 mins)
Daughter of a Shepherd: 75% Hebridean and 25% Zwartbles
DK weight 233m/255 yards per 100g
Recommended needles/hook:3.5-4.5mm hook/needles
Cool hand wash only and leave flat to dry
Completely UK produced (sourced, scoured and spun in UK)
RRP: £18 for 100g.
Rachel's blog: http://mylifeinknitwear.com/
We had 10g each to test and crochet up.
The characteristics of Hebridean wool are very similar to the Zwartbles that is has been blended with as both are very dark brown/near black in colour, durable and dense. This yarn is spun at John Arbon Textiles and John says that the longer staple length of the Zwartbles helps with the processing of the Hebridean because it gives the Heb staples something more to align and grip to.
Fay – I tried this with a 3.5mm, 4mm, 4.5mm and 5mm hook and found that the 4.5mm gave the nicest effect, so using a 4.5mm hook I created a tiny little bowl to put my measuring tape in because I am always losing it! It is hard to see the stitch definition because of the natural yarn colour (which is very dark), but it is good. I still had a little bit left over and so made some leaves with the remainder and also made some using some Jacob wool that I had to create a cup holder for when I am out and about (I usually have them in my different handbags so that I don’t need the cardboard sleeve).
The wool is soft and nice to work with and becomes softer when washed and blocked. I would use this again for crochet and could easily take it up against my skin. It would make a beautiful crocheted shawl with an open lacy structure that really makes the most of the stitch definition. I would also use it with other natural wools to bring out the depth of colour that it has. It would be great at the dark end of a gradient project or mixed with a really vibrant blue or burnt orange.
Lynne: I really enjoyed working with this yarn – as soon as I wound it off the skein I could smell the sheep and it made me feel happy to be working with a natural fibre that can be fully traced back to its source. I love the natural colour of the wool– it’s a very deep brown, almost like treacle, and there are a few light coloured fibres running through. I have really sensitive skin, but for the time that I was using the yarn I was absolutely fine. I don’t think I could stretch to wearing it directly around my neck (but that’s just me) but I could mix it with something else and just keep the Hebridean/Zwartbles away from the neck edge.
I made two things also with my mini skein – a book mark, which I’ve already been using, and a small mandala that I’ve made a pin cushion from. Both have great stitch definition and are firm in structure. I made my pin cushion using wool fabric from Eliza Conway (a Yarndale purchase) and I’m delighted with both of my mini projects.
On Ravelry in Rachel’s group, there are lots of projects on the go with this yarn – often it’s mixed with something else, but it’s a great place to go and visit if you want inspiration.
Link to Rachel's Ravelry group: http://www.ravelry.com/groups/daughter-of-a-shepherd
3. Magazine round up (at 22.15 mins)
Fay's overall favourite: Cowslip Parsley Garland from Simply Crochet issue 47, designed by Emma Mitchell. It's a free pattern download from Emma's blog: www.silverpebble.net
Lynne's overall favourite: Lace Shirt from Love to Knit and Crochet issue 4. It's a button-down shirt with a scalloped edge on the cuffs and hem. A clamshell pattern creates a light and airy effect which is perfect for Summer.
Simply Crochet – issue 47
Ravelry link: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/simply-crochet-issue-47
Website Link: http://www.simplycrochetmag.co.uk/2016/07/21/simply-crochet-issue-47/
Fay's favourite: Cow Parsley Garland, designer Emma Mitchell, pg 98
Lynne's favourite: Freeform Floral Cowl, designer Jennifer May, page 83
Let’s Get Crafting – issue 83
Ravelry Link: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/lets-get-crafting-knitting--crochet-83
Website Link: http://www.letsgetcrafting.com/
Fay's favourite: Mouse toys (knitted), designer Sachiyo Ishii, I have a pregnant friend that woudl love these for her daughter and new baby!
Lynne's favourite: Hearts Garland, designer Kath Webber, pg 48
Crochet Now - issue 4
Website link: http://www.crochetnow.co.uk/
Fay's favourite: Flower Bedspread, designer Mrs. Moon, page 36 - this is beautifukl yarn to work with.
Lynne's favourite: Candy amigurumi Deer, designer Irene Strange, pg 62
Love to Knit and Crochet - issue 4
Website Link: https://www.theknittingnetwork.co.uk/
Fay's favourite: Silky Vest Top, pg 33
Lynne's favourite: Lace Shirt, pg 34
4. A Crochet Journey - some tips on blocking your garment (at 26.30 mins)
Like everything with crochet (and knitting) there are some aspects of blocking that are just a personal preference.
Fay - in the main I wet block by immersing my finished object in cold water with a small amount of soaking product, gently washing then very gently squeeze out excess water and roll in a towel before pinning out to required dimensions. You can see from the below photo that this can help to take out any residual (unexhausted dye).
Lynne - in the main, I spritz (or spray) my work to the point that it’s wet but not saturated. I use a plastic spray gun (the type that you can buy for the garden - usually around £1), then I gently press the water into the fibres with my hands. I then pin out carefully, according to the dimensions of the pattern, and leave to dry. Sometimes I repeat this process if I feel it necessary.
Even when a project is already the size you want it to be (pre-blocking), I'd still recommend blocking as it greatly improves your stitch definition and "sets" the stitches.
I mainly steam block for cotton (I cover my project with a cotton cloth and hold the iron above and steam - do not touch the fabric with the iron). I also steam block fair isle items because it really sets the stitches nicely. After steam blocking I pin out because it’s damp and leave to dry.
What if I’m desperate? Sometimes I may be on a close call with a deadline – it could be 2pm in the afternoon and I’m still working on a project that needs posting that day – by 4.30pm – so I will always steam block just to make sure that the stitches look good for photography. If necessary I will use a hairdryer to dry it off before posting.
A lot of people say don’t block acrylic as it’s not wool and therefore has no stitch memory – but I do block acrylic projects, just because it improves the overall appearance and stitch definition. I would mainly spray block acrylic but have been known to steam block (very carefully) when desperate. There is more risk with steam blocking as you can relax the fibres too much and your work can become very droopy and much bigger than originally made.
I always sew my ends in first and then block, whereas Fay doesn't sew in her ends before blocking because she found that if she sewed her ends in first and then blocked, the tail ends sometimes shift and she would have little bits of yarn poking out which then just create more work to neaten them up again.
When pinning out it is essential that you get your measurements right because if you over stretch the yarn than it’s ruined forever – yarn has memory so once it’s set then it will spring back to that shape after washing. So be really careful when blocking, especially if using an iron.
It really is a case of trying the method that suits you best given the yarn and project that you have made, but it is definitely worth it - see below!
5. Woolfest and Houston Fiberfest (at 48.50 mins)
As you know we went off to Woolfest at the end of June. Whilst we were there, Tamara, one of the listeners to the podcast was at a yarn festival in Houston, Texas. Tamara kindly recorded some audio for us on the festival that she attended and we have some photos too.
We have started a thread in Ravelry for you to add details on any yarn festivals that you have been to. Kerry listens in Australia and has just added details of the large Wool and Sheep Festival that she has been at in Bendigo, Australia. Feel free to add details of any yarn festivals that you have been to so that others can see what is available throughout the world. I have added some standard questions that you can answer if you need something to crib from.
Tamara is on the left - thanks for doing the review!
Here's Tamara's round-up from Houston Fiber Fest:
Link to website: http://www.houstonfiberfest.com/
New companies that Tamara hadn’t come across before:
Independence Farmstead Fiber Mill, an artisan mill service for the independent fiber producer: http://www.independencefarmsteadfibers.com/
Windmill Crest Farms near San Antonio: http://www.windmillcrestfarms.com/
There was a gentleman there had an industrial needle felting machine: http://www.feltcrafts.com/
Lucky Ewe Yarn in New Braunfels dye their own yarn which is called Wool Tree Yarn using natural ingredients: http://www.luckyeweyarn.com/
Things that Tamara bought:
Brazen Stitchery Harmony Sock in colorway Team Gayle semi solid in tonal shades of dark green: http://www.brazenstitchery.com/
Lazy cat yarns 2 x 50 gram skeins of Endurance - semi solid – in shades of gorgeous teal: http://www.lazycatyarn.com/
Western Sky Knits, 2 variegated 100g skeins: http://www.westernskyknits.com/
Hedgehog Fibers is an Irish indie dyer. I was surprised to find Irish yarn in Houston. This festival was their launch at Park Avenue Yarns (a loyal yarn store): http://shop.hedgehogfibres.com/
Blind date project from In Skein Yarns, one of the local yarn stores. So fun! They were clear plastic bags with a label on the outside describing the project - The craft (I chose crochet), yarn weight, fiber content, difficulty of pattern and type of project: https://inskeinyarns.com/
Shawl pin – from the Muddy Knitter: https://squareup.com/store/themuddyknitter
Two mini Loomes spelt L-O-O-M-E and you can make pom poms, cords, tassels and weavings: https://www.theloome.com/
A funky necklace from Fiesty Fenn Fibers: https://www.etsy.com/shop/FeistyFennFibers
Some tea from Independence Fiber Mill: http://www.independencefarmsteadfibers.com/
Didn’t buy but have ear-marked:
Suzoo’s Wool Works: http://www.suzooswoolworks.com/
Inner Loop Dyeworks: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/InnerLoopDyeworks – I will definitely buy some more of her yarn – we stock her yarn at the store where I work which is very lucky but tempting at the same time http://www.nimblefingerstx.com
Podcaster Suburban Stitcher’s project bags. http://suburbanstitcher.com/
I might buy a mini loom for weaving from Purl and Loop www.purlandloop.com
All of Tamara's photos of Houston Fiber Fest can be found here: https://uk.pinterest.com/craftyescapism/ and you can also view her blog here: http://www.craftyescapism.com/
6. Finished Objects (at 71.45 mins)
Fay - Missed Kingfisher shawl was completed whilst in France with Jenny.
Cowls for the book – testing more colours because I am thinking about doing them as a kit for Yarndale. Also, the items for the yarn review. One sock firmly in the HO pile!
Lynne: Pin cushion and book mark from Daughter of a Shepherd (so pleased with both); mandala coaster for hubby (at his request) to put his mobile phone on at night; lots of commission projects, including a hot water bottle cover, a pair of fingerless mittens, a teddy, a lampshade cover, a set of crochet frames, a cushion, a pair of slippers, another pincushion and another couple of bookmarks - phew.
7. WIPs (at 79 mins)
Fay - Simply Crochet wrap-over, Henslowe shawl, Nut-Hap (Kingfisher colours), Tardis cushion, Shorelines blanket, Baby Bird scarf, blanket for booklet, John Arbon socks for a study on adding stripes to socks.
I'm still at eight but there are so many things that I want to start!
Lynne – I'm still at 14, but have started (and finished a few) so they didn't even make onto the list (which is good) and I probably won't be able to make a dent in this until after Yarndale.
8. Feeding the habit (at 91 mins)
Fay – I thought I was really good this month and so, I bought some extra Rowan Felted Tweed to be able to do a Kingfisher based Nut-Hap. I also realised that I needed to get another skein of the Kalinka linen because it would look great with a contrast colour. Then I remembered that I had been to Woolfest...
At Woolfest, I bought yarn from John Arbon and Ripples Crafts, some amazing Art Deco buttons and some woven fabric.
It was also my Birthday so I am book rich – Fleece and Fiber, Erika Knight’s latest, a book on dying yarn, British Sheep Breeds and an old book of my Dad’s. Very lucky to have so many nice wool related books to go through in the next few months and enhance my reference library with.
Lynne - At Woolfest I bought some John Arbon skeins (I love their mini skeins too), a couple of squares of handwoven fabric which is really lovely, some buttons for my cowl from Textile Gardens, and Emily Foulds kindly gave me a ball of WYS Signature 4ply from the cocktail range for my knitting book which I can’t wait to use. I have bought lots of yarn for kits and to test colours, but I don’t count work related purchases as they go through the business.
9. Competition Time - Odeletta Shawl Give-away
This month we have a give-away, kindly sent to us by Anna Nikipirowicz for her Odeletta Shawl Kit which contains everything you need to create your own shawl, including two balls of Rowan Kidsilk Haze, patterns, beads and a crochet hook. Plus a lovely teabag so you can enjoy a nice cuppa whilst you crochet. Thanks Anna!
Anna's website is here: https://moochka.co.uk/
Find all the details for the giveaway here: http://www.ravelry.com/discuss/the-crochet-circle-podcast/topics/3468941
10. What’s Good (at 105 mins)
Fay: This was meant to be my What's Good but I was so excited about it that I covered it off early! I just mentioned that my Dad gave me one of his books. It is a very special book that was my absolute favourite book when I was little. It is the Observer’s book of Farm Animals. I was born in 1977 and the book came out in 1976 and was given to my Dad by friends when we moved from Wiltshire to Caithness in the North of Scotland in early 1978. It used to fit in the pocket of my pinafore and I would spend ages pawing through the different breed photos and memorising them. I even wrote in the front of the book to amend it to say “Fay - it is to Fay” so that I could lay claim to it.
Needless to say, the book is battered and the spine is being held together with masking tape and love. It is delightful to have something in my possession that brings back nice memories and until recently I had completely forgotten about. It clearly influenced and shaped the person I have become.
So my What's Good became the excitement for going to interview John Arbon down in Devon - it really was good!
Lynne: Really enjoying natural fibres at the moment – you can definitely feel the difference and there a lots of affordable natural yarns out there that are well worth a try. I’ve been using Wendy Ramsdale which is about £3.50 a ball for 50g and the colours are lovely as well as the texture and feel of the yarn. I’ve used if for hats (only takes 1 ball to make a child’s hat) and also for my cushion (6 balls, so less than £24) for the yarn. Also Erika Knight British Blue is £4.20 for a 25g ball – a bit more expensive but well worth it when you can make a nice cowl with just three balls - so that's £13 for a cowl made with British yarn - where every step is traceable. Remember cotton is also a natural fibre and you can buy Rico Cotton Aran for less than £2 for 50g. I’m not saying I don’t use acrylic as I do because some projects have to be really affordable but there are some lovely yarns out there that may cost less than you would expect.
Happy listening and crocheting,
Lynne and Fay x
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