As I write this it is tipping it down with rain here in North London after a week of amazingly warm and sunny weather. The typically temperamental British weather made me think of featuring my Sunshine and Showers design in this newsletter as it seems to be the perfect fit for this month!
My Sunshine and Showers CAL project was first released in Crochet Now Magazine in 2017. The patterns have since been published on my archived blog and you can also purchase the patterns as downloads by following this link.
The inspiration for the design was the seasonal weather here in the UK and each section of the design reflects a different seasonal theme. For example, in July and August the design was based on sunny skies and flowers, whereas in January the focus was grey snowy weather, which I represented by using crochet puff stitches.
Like all my crochet along projects I tried to design this one in a way that made it a great learning tool. It gets progressively harder so that crocheters can build their skills. All patterns include step-by-step images and detailed instructions throughout.
The blanket is made in rows, so is a sampler style and it would make a great stash buster!
The download patterns are available in 12 single pieces or as one bundle and you can find them on Ravelry, Etsy and via the Janie Crow website.
I am still waiting for confirmation of when my new CAL design 'Indigo Dreams' will be published in Inside Crochet magazine. I think the current plan is for it to be released early in the autumn. As soon as I have any more news I will let you know.
I usually try to plan my designs so that I am working about a year ahead of the release date of a new project, but the lockdown restrictions over the last year and the knock on effects of having to deal with a different workload has meant that my planning has gone out of the window! With the delay of the most recent CAL project I am a bit concerned that my project releases may end up being a bit like London buses - none for ages and then a steady stream! At least we have been a bit luckier with the yarns that are arriving at the studio over the last couple of weeks and have finally been able to make up some kits. We have Magic Circles blanket kits in Life DK in stock on Andy's Just Knots website. You can find them here.
Lots of versions of the Magic Circles design have been cropping up on Instagram lately and I just love the two images below via Lizzie Montgomery and Karolyn Smalls. Click on them to be taken to the Instagram feeds.
I have been sent a few fabulous 'out in the wild' images that I want to show you this month. Below you can see a gorgeous version of my Bohemian Blooms design, which has been made by Gera Zuydeweg using the shades from the Love Is Enough version of the Fruit Garden blanket. I think Gera has made an amazing job of this project and I love the way the orange and mustard yellow give it such a great colour pop!
Cheri Meeker sent me a couple of shots of some runners she has made using the Climbing Rose Wrap pattern and The Blue House design.
Cheri has made the Climbing Rose runner one motif narrower than my original design and I think she has done a great job combining pretty shades of teal and peach/coral when making her Blue House runner.
Are you a 'Friends' fan? If so, do you remember the one where Joey auditioned for a role as a gameshow host and the game was called Bamboozled? Well, this article has absolutely nothing to do with that and instead is about the production methods used to make bamboo yarn!
In my quick catch up email a couple of weeks ago I spoke about my desire to use more natural yarns in my forthcoming designs. Within the piece I mistakenly referred to a yarn with a bamboo content as being 'natural'. I later received an email pointing out my error, which prompted me to take another look at bamboo as a sustainable fibre.
The problem with bamboo is that although it is a natural substance in the first place, in order to make it into a fibre it has to undergo a long production process that involves lots of chemicals and energy, so it is, in fact, a manmade fibre. Manmade fibres have a bad track record and many people feel that natural is better. Micro fibres are the hot topic at the moment (rightly so) as is the amount of energy it takes to produce many yarns, but it is an absolute minefield if you start looking at things like water consumption, land use, fertilizers and the way workers (and animals) are used in the production of natural yarns too!
There is a very good article here that presents both sides of the good/bad bamboo fibre debate. It concludes by saying that bamboo yarns sourced in the right way can actually be a ‘step up from polyester and conventional cotton’, depending of course on the initial source of the bamboo.
I have to admit that my research ended up leaving me a tad 'bamboozled' as there are so many arguments for and against its use. There is another good article here that you may find interesting. Personally I think a great plus point is that bamboo is biodegradable, usually breaking down in a year or so if placed in compost (wool can take up to 5 years) and it is a fast growing crop that requires no pesticides, chemicals or fertiliser to grow. Given the amount of processing that goes into the production of so many things these days I think I err on the side of positivity as far as bamboo goes, but maybe the links within this piece will help you make up your own minds. Big thanks to Lorraine for picking me up on this in the first place...
We have managed to put together a couple of kits for Marina's 'Aladdin' cushion, which is based on my The Blue House design. You can find a link to Marina's free yarn substitution document here. A link to the kit here and a link to the original paper pattern here. You can also find the pattern as a download in my Ravelry and Etsy stores.
Marina's amazing re-working of the Blue House design uses 17 balls of Anchor Creativa 4ply plus 4 shades of Debbie Abrahams Beads. For the kit we have included one bag of beads to allow you to just use a single shade of your choice instead of 4. One bag will be enough beads for the whole cushion. The beads are an optional addition to allow you to use some from your own stash if you wish or you can choose to make it without beads. If you have never added beads to your crochet and want to find out how to so, you can find a video here.
I have been testing out some cupcake recipes lately and came across this fabulous one from Shannon Michelle. The recipe is vegan so has no eggs and uses vegan butter, something I have to admit I was pretty sceptical about, having spent years baking with butter and dairy based fats.
These cup cakes are possibly the best I have ever made. The cakes are light and fluffy and the buttercream is just so yummy! Honestly, it is far superior to buttercream made with dairy butter, which I think can be a bit greasy. I used the Flora Plant Butter which comes in paper wrapper, so is another small win in terms of waste.
I managed to make 12 large cakes from the recipe and used good quality jam in place of the fruit puree, the instructions for which looked like a bit of a faff if I am honest!
I am a total convert to these lovely little cakes and have now made two versions - one batch were raspberry and black cherry and another batch were elderflower and lemon. Both flavours were truly scrumptious!
As it is Elderflower season I started a batch of Elderflower Liquer on Monday. The Kilner jar is now stowed away in the dark for 2-4 weeks, but there is an image above of what it looked like before I packed it away in the wardrobe and you can find the recipe I used here.
I have made this liqueur before and it is so good, especially if you add a splash of it to a glass of cold Prosecco or Cava. I think it is the perfect summertime drink, but if you don't fancy making it you can buy St. Germain liqueur instead. Cheers!
I am not sure that our garden has ever had as much attention as it has had this year and it certainly shows, as there are buds and blooms bursting into life everywhere and the veg patch is decidedly rampant! It has been so good to give the garden and our little house some much needed attention this year, especially as we have been shamefully neglectful for quite a while! Below is the first progress shot of the new lean-to that Andy is adding onto the summer house at the end of the garden. Rain has stopped play for a while, but hopefully I will pop some more images in the next newsletter.
I have been looking at the interior design forecasts going into 2021 and it is no surprise that the biophilic story continues to be the biggest trend. According to Wikipedia, Biophilic design is ‘a concept used within the building industry to increase occupant connectivity to the natural environment through the use of direct nature, indirect nature, and space and place conditions’. There is a blog post on the Homes and Gardens web site here that explains this in more detail, but it basically means that the interior designers are continuing to 'bring the outside in' with the emphasis on greenery and plants.
Whilst I love my garden, I am not great with house plants and tend to stick to a vase of cut flowers every couple of weeks and some orchids, but as I think I am going to really miss the garden come the autumn I am considering investing in a few leafy houseplants.
I came across this 'Glasshouse' when doing a bit of research. The potted plant prices seem high, but when you read their 'about' statement on their website you will understand why. It sounds like a great initiative and there is more information on their blog, and anyway it seems to me that house plants are far more pricy than they used to be, so I might well invest a bit of my pocket money!
Have any of you been watching the series 'Halston' starring Ewan McGregor? We have lined it up on our watch list as I have heard it is really good and that the sets and costumes are great. Apparently McGregor was taught to pin, sew and drape fabric by costume designer Jeriana San Juan, who was moved to tears when the actor presented her with a pair of perfectly stitched trousers he had made. You can find more about Ewan's stitching journey by following this link or clicking on the image below.
A couple of weeks ago I rewatched the amazing McQueen documentary. I am a massive fan of Lee Alexander McQueen's work and of the collections produced by Sarah Burton, creative director at the fashion house, since his death a decade ago. The film always reminds me of being an art student and takes me back to my younger days when I produced my degree collection. McQueen studied at St Martins and I came across an article about the most recent graduate student fashion show on the Vogue blog last week. You can see it by following this link.
Carrying on the fashion theme, you may have seen in the news this week that a recent report revealed that a really high percentage of clothes are still being made from new plastics. You can find the report via the BBC by following this link. I haven't bought any new clothes for months, but Summer and I have made a plan to hit the shops tomorrow, so this report has certainly reminded me that I should look at the labels in any garments we might try on!
Andy has headed off to a test music festival this weekend, so Charlie and I are home alone! I had hoped that I might get to visit The Living Arts & Crafts Show at Hatfield House either this afternoon or on Sunday, but the rain seems set for the next few days, so I might have a rethink! Of course there is the comfort of the settee, the lure of the TV and a lovely little crochet project on the hook to use up some of my time, so as usual I am looking forward to the weekend, despite being a tad sad that the rain has knocked all the heads off of my glorious peonies in the garden!
I hope that wherever you are in the world and that whatever you have planned for the next few days, you have a good time and stay safe.
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