SnB does Yarnfolk

August is going to be an exciting month for Northern Ireland! This year, we will host the first ever fibre festival in the North. On August 5th, Yarnfolk will be launched in Whitehead, home of Lighthouse Yarns. And SnB will be there!

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At the @BelfastSnB stand we’ll be doing a mini trunk show of our book, Knit 10 Together, celebrating 10 years of community crafting. (I talk about the book here, and Nikki covers our successful book launch here!) We’ll also have samples by our knitters, crocheters and stitchers so you can see what we’ve been up to.

bookcover

We’ll have two sessions where we’ll do a trunk show of the samples from the book, and talk about techniques used in the book. Then we’ll do live demos, where you can try out and learn something new.

11am – Crochet technique. We’ll teach you a great crochet technique: Magic Circle. This is a handy way to start crochet projects such as the cute stuffed “Chemistry Set” by Nicky Young, and “Bunneh” by Sharon Clark.

3:15pm – Knitting technique: Learn colourwork skills used in the book for the “Heatwave” hot water bottle cover by Siún Carden, and the “Hearts & Butterflies Cowl” by Jaele Rollins-McColgan. We’ll give you advice about how to make sure your colours pop, and how to handle two colours.

If you’d like to know more about the beading technique used in “A Very Hearty Hat” by Nikki Hagan, check out the beading class with Anja Szepan (who also designed the “Twisted Heart” cabled mitts in the book).

Come along to our cosy corner at the SnB stand at any time to knit and natter, or stitch and b*tch if you prefer! 😉

booklaunch

WWKIPD, 2017: K10tog! — A Million Paper Stars

We were sitting in Starbucks on a cold Wednesday afternoon, as usual. Nikki said, ‘What are we going to do about our anniversary this year?’ In a group of crafters, we all knew she wasn’t talking about her wedding anniversary. She was talking about the anniversary of the year Belfast Stitch n Bitch was formed. […]

via WWKIPD, 2017: K10tog! — A Million Paper Stars

Create-a-fun

This past Saturday morning, I left my house to join fellow Belfast Knitters, Weavers, (Fibre-)Artists of all sorts, really, at the Ulster Museum for a great day of showing off  our Arts & Crafts.

Since there’s a couple of shared members, and because we could, Belfast Stitch’n’Bitch paired up with the Ulster Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers for the event, in order to display the process from the fibre to the spun singles, to the plied yarn, to crocheted/woven/knit items of any and all shapes and forms.

Add other crafty and/or cultural ventures such as the Big Sock NI, as well as a little additional entertainment like dancing, comedy and music, and you have yourself a fabulous day.

And yes, if anything similar is going on in Belfast, the chances that at least some of us can be found there are high… ;P

Planning my crafting

Everyone is talking about cast on mania, and I am here looking at my current works in progress and wishing I had the needles spare for some casting on.

Wishing I also was able to create as fast as I think. (Making a pullover for a plus sized body in sock weight yarn is NOT a speedy knit.)

So to tide myself over I have made a very strict queue of what I am allowed to cast on and when.

See, I wasn’t kidding about the amount of WIPs I have on the go. I have 4 crocheted blankets on the go, two jumpers (sweaters to you North Americans), two pair of sock, several shawls or scarves, one hat, a quilt, and three embroidery hoops on the go.
This is not including the test knits, and machine knitting projects that are languishing in various corners of the place.

To get through these I have set myself days of the week to work on projects of a similar theme.

Mondays: Crochet Projects (CAL’s that were abandoned being first.)

Tuesdays: Quilting, I have many many hexagons to sew together. Not as many as our Anja and her Insanity Quilt, or our dear friend doing the NIBig Sock, but I have a quilt’s worth.

Wednesday: Well this is easy, we get together on Wednesdays so I bring my favourite project to hang out and chill with my gals.

Thursday: This is usually my admin day, so I don’t have much time off the computer, but during running the children to piano to drama I can do a round or 7 on a sock.

Friday: I fire up the knitting machine and continue on the charity blankets we make for the SOS Bus, of if I am finally low on charity stash, then I will pick up some hand knitting and keep going.

Saturday: Simple and fun, Saturdays are either family days of board games and movies, or I hang out with the ladies for a cheeky Saturday so I want a simple and fun project to keep me going.

Sunday: Embroidery, I’ll break out the hoop and an audiobook and pretend I’m a Regency style heroine doing some work while my paramour reads out loud to me (when in fact he is usually blowing up zombies or aliens or something in the man cave,).

So that is my week of crafting timetable, and seeing as it is Monday now, I should have my hook in hand instead of typing this.

Off I dash!

Cute Little Crochet

For Christmas, my mother-in-law got me a new craft book, a book of cute little crocheted animals. I immediately fell in love, and so did the kids. It’s called Cute Crocheted Animals, by Emma Varnam.

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My first order was for Stanley, the adorable black and white cat, for my oldest son (age 7). The pattern was easy to follow, straightforward to work up and quick! The lack of quirky, detailed features of other crochet patterns was made up for by the lovely squish-ability of the finished animal: perfect for hugging, snuggling, travelling, and other wee adventures. My son couldn’t wait for Stanley to be finished.

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One thing that I believe makes this book stand out are the myriad ‘extra’ patterns offered; there are loads of accessories and outfits to choose from and mix and match. It was just as fun to help my son pick out Stanley’s outfit as it is to play with him now he’s finished, and he could have a whole wardrobe soon enough! The book has several animals to choose from: a bunny, a mouse, a fox, a cat, and a bear. Each animal is made in pairs: a boy version and a girl version, so the book is excellent to have on standby for a relatively quick gift. (Stanley’s girl-friend is called Katy, a grey cat with a pretty blue dress.)

The photographs are cute and simple, with close ups of the clothes, and a how-to at the back in case you’re new to crochet and can’t remember how to work all the stitches. Each animal has their own bio too, to provide a little backstory and get the imagination rolling. It’s a good size too – I didn’t even need my reading glasses to read the text, and the book still fits nicely in my craft bag. The paper is good quality with thick pages, so it’s tactilely pleasing to thumb through as well.

All in all, I’m delighted with this book. I’ll be making the ballerina mouse next for my daughter, and I may just make myself a fox!

The great WIP-pression

Come on, admit it. You know that feeling. You just finished that one project you were really excited about. It knit up way too quick. And now, you don’t know what to knit.
You have tons of WIPs. But they don’t seem all that exciting at the moment.

Okay, I might have made up the term, but the feeling can’t be new to any knitter. Or crafter in general, really.

In any case, it’s where I am right now.

The exciting project that knit up too quick? Libran, although I call mine Katy Perry. The reasons for that may or may not become obvious when you look at the project page.

The WIPs? Oh, so many.
There’s the MKAL from last fall, 8 clues, and I’m still stuck in the middle of clue 3. Every time I look at it, I just think ‘Meh.’
There’s the shawl I started just a few days before Christmas last year, and worked on furiously at the time because I had nothing else with me, but now I can hardly bear to look at it, because there was a death in my family at the time.
There’s the gloves, gorgeous pattern, but so detailed, my brain hurts just thinking about it.
There’s the second Yggdrasil Afghan – seriously, what was I even thinking when I cast on A SECOND ONE???
The CAL with only one block and the edges to do? I kind of don’t want it to end just yet, but I also kind of do.

So, yeah… Here I am, nothing to knit. Nothing to crochet. Nthing to stop me from biting my nails while watching that one heartbreaking episode of ‘Supernatural’ for the I-stopped-counting-long-ago’th time.

Here I am, smack in the middle of a great WIP-pression.

WWKIP Day 2016!

It’s that time of year again, when we grab our balls, sharpen our needles, and – wait, what did you think I was talking about? I’m talking about World Wide Knitting in Public Day!

This year we joined up with the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum on the 18th of June and hosted a brilliant day of knitting, crochet, spinning, yarn dyeing, weaving, and all sorts. The Ulster Guild of Spinner, Weavers and Dyers were there, as well as a few of the museum’s other talented craftspeople, all set against the backdrop of the beautiful mock village of Ballycultra.

Our group arrived early to set up: we knit and crocheted several wee things to hide amongst the bushes and trees for the kids to find, and then we positioned ourselves scattered throughout so that people ran into us everywhere. It was like a knit attack!

 

We made several new friends, and many more from our Facebook group joined us. The Top Floor Art Craft Circle were there, and Pamela from NI Big Sock even joined us for a few rows despite being up to her ears in patchwork hexagons! (Thanks, Pamela!) And some of us were just excited just to get out for the day.

In addition to free entry to the museum if you brought your knitting, The Wool Shop in Bangor was kind enough to donate 50 free goody bags for the first 50 knitters/crocheters in the door! We got a sneak peak at what was inside:

The museum’s willow weaver also made a special display, just for the occasion! (This proved to be quite popular, as you can, um, see. Ahem.)

All in all it was a brilliant day. Nikki made us knitting bingo worksheets and a knitting related word search, in case we needed something besides out current wip to pass the time! There was plenty to keep us busy though. We watched Kay dyeing some gorgeous yarn specimens, and the Guild of Machine Knitters were there too offering a demo. Amazing stuff!

We had great weather for it, and had a picnic in the sun for lunch so we could all meet up and chat, because knitting in our respective places (The Bank House, the school, the cottage on Tea Lane, the draper’s, and the Ballydugan house) was hungry work!

 

So there you have it. I tell ya, when we plan something, we don’t do it by halves. Nikki, my partner in crime, and I are dangerous when we put our minds to it! And of course I had help from my wee fella too! Much thanks to them both, for without them this wouldn’t have been half as fun! And huge thanks to everyone who knit/crocheted wee animals for hiding and who came out to join us for the day!

 

Happy crafting!

What’s travelling?

The big question every knitter has to ask themselves when the go on vacation is, obviously, “What kind of knitting do I take?”

Something fancy (like a beaded lace shawl)?

Something simple (like plain, self-striping socks)?

Both?

Neither? (Kidding, we all know that’s never gonna happen…)

One project? Two? Three? FOUR?

Thus, we dive into the WIPs… The circular Fandom shawl that was cast on in a Mystery KAL autumn last year? Too big.

The CAL released in fortnightly installments? Too many skeins to take.

Meanwhile, we have started, and finished, a beaded lace shawl that was a disturbingly quick knit, and voilá, part of the decision has been made. We make another one. Different yarn, for someone else. Of course, this one project will not suffice. Not seeing how it has already been established as a quick knit. So, naturally, one will sit in the living room for half an hour, winding two skeins of lace yarn for yet another beaded lace shawl. And because we still need something stupid to knit, let’s also dig out that skein of sock yarn we’ve been wanting to knit forever.

Does that seem like enough for a week?

I sure hope so. the suitcase is full.

Your handy guide to free patterns

If you know me long enough and love me properly I will more than likely add something for you to my Ravelry Queue.

I love Ravelry for connecting with fellow knitters and crocheters, for keeping track of how much yarn I have and even how many needles and hooks I have.

The groups are great, and if you have a keen wit and a healthy sense of the perverse come find me in the other group I use most often on Ravelry; LSG.

But enough of where I hang out, you came here for the Free stuff right?

Well, it so happens that Ravelry is also a great way of finding new indie designers, and even some commercial ones, and you have a pick of patterns you have to purchase as well as free ones.

Ravelry is so good at this that if you just went in blindly and searched for a shawl pattern you would be overwhelmed with thousands of patterns to choose from.

So, how do you narrow down your options?

I’ll tell you how I do it.

After logging in I go to the Patterns Page, by pressing the Patterns Tab.
I then look on the left sidebar to the “HOT RIGHT NOW” box, (yes I look for both knitting and crochet, I am bi-craftual), and I see the first 5 on this list.

Well that isn’t enough for my pattern loving self, I need more! So what I do is I click on the “BROWSE PATTERNS IN THIS ORDER” option which opens up a full page of patterns, with options to click on more pages!
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This is great, but wait the two of the top three are patterns you have to pay for! This isn’t the free pattern bonanza you promised me Sharon, what the ever lovin alpaca?

This is where my next secret comes in handy, look again to that handy left side bar and find the “AVAILABILITY” box. there you just check the FREE option and the page refreshes itself and you can see page after page of free popular pattern treasure trove.Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 19.41.48

 

Good luck pattern hunting.

Our Crafting Demo Day

Recently we held a crafting demo day for Voluntary Arts Week (6 – 15 May). We wanted to create an opportunity to allow people to experience craft as a relaxing pastime, an escape from the stressors of everyday life or as a way of pleasantly passing the time should they suffer from health issues that might otherwise inhibit them.

We met at 11am at the Dock Cafe in the Titanic Quarter, knitting needles and yarn swifts at the ready! I even made cookies for the occasion.

So what kinds of crafts were we demonstrating? Pretty much everything! Knitting, spinning, crochet, sewing, embroidery – if we could carry it, we brought it.

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We even had Sharon on duty sewing hexagons for NI Big sock!

We definitely attracted attention and had a brilliant day introducing future crafters to new hobbies, and exposing hardened crafters to new ideas. Next year we’ll hopefully engage more people, but then we did happen to accidentally coincide with Comic Con! Regardless, it was a lovely day and we hope to be seeing a local surge in craft soon!

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