Sunday, 16 April 2017

Happy Easter! Have a Unicorn

Wishing you all a wonderful Easter break! 

Do you get crafty over Easter and paint eggs, too? This is a tradition I have kept up so every year I colour some eggs, usually with dyes from Germany. There is quite a variety of dyes and I like to have a little stash ready for the next few years. 

This year I used pastel dyes you dissolve in a mug with water and vinegar. Just drop the boiled egg in carefully, wait till it has the desired colour, and remove it. I wanted to try something different this time and decided to turn my eggs into unicorns. I was inspired by these beauties. Once I located the glue gun I only ever use once in a blue moon, I was ready to give it a go.

I used tin foil to make the horns, a leafy gold ribbon to make ears, scrap yarn in various colours to make the hair, and some colouring pens for the faces (felt tip for the eyes and pencils for the cheeks). 

I have to admit I absolutely love them! This could have gone disastrously wrong! My favourite is the blue one with pink hair. There are six of these unicorns in total and I am very proud of them.

Happy Easter!

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Giveaway: British Wool Show 2017

Are you itching to visit the British Wool Show this year? This is your chance! I'm giving away ten tickets - yes, 10! - to Absoknittinglutely followers.

A few years ago I had a great time at the show. Back then it took place in York, but the show has moved a little further north in Yorkshire. It's still the same show with a variety of vendors selling everything for your woolly needs and the Sheep Show Man is back, too. I highly recommend seeing him and his dancing sheep.

There will be a shuttle bus to pick up visitors from Thirsk railway station and Market Square, so don't worry if you don't have a car. I used the shuttle bus service last time and it was very convenient. It was a lovely day out.

The details

Saturday, 8 July 2017 from 10:00-17:00
Sunday, 9 July from 10:00-16:00

Thirsk Rural Business Centre
Blakely Lane, Thirsk
North Yorkshire

Further information:
(This is also where you can buy tickets if you prefer not to join in this giveaway.)

You can find the British Wool Show on Facebook and Twitter to keep up-to-date.

Win the tickets

Tickets are valid for a day of your choice. In order to win tickets for the British Wool Show 2017, you need to do one of the following:

1. Leave a comment on this blog post and let me know how many tickets you would like and why. Please also let me know how I can contact you if you win (such as social media handle or your own blog). Do not leave your phone number or email address as they will be visible to everyone.


2. Follow me on Twitter and reply to one of my tweets to let me know how many tickets you would like.


3. Reply to my giveaway post on Facebook and let me know how many tickets you would like.


4. Comment on my Instagram post about this giveaway and let me know how many tickets you would like.

Please note

You will get only one entry, no matter how often or where you take part in this giveaway.

The giveaway will run till 30 April 2017 or until all tickets have gone. I will update this post when it ends. I will notify the winners via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or your blog, depending on how they entered.

Good luck, everyone!

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Samite Silk Blend (AKA: Of Course There's Room In My Stash)

Blacker Yarns Samite Silk Blend

And here I thought I was safe from impulsive yarn purchases. (Cue hysterical laughter from knitters around the world.)

Blacker Yarns have tempted me with their brand new Samite Silk Blend which impressed me not only with the fact that it contains silk, one of my favourite materials to knit with, but with its pre-Raphaelite colours. The yarn consists of 30% Blue-faced Leicester, 40% Shetland, cruelty-free 20% Ahimsa silk, and 10% fibre from Blacker’s own Gotland flock.

I had a difficult time choosing colours and had to think hard about what I would use the yarn for. I have lots of single or double skeins for shawls in my stash, so I didn't want to add to them. In the end I decided I could use Samite to knit a short-sleeved top for spring and autumn (and possibly cooler summer days). Wisely, I did not think about when I would actually get around to knitting it. (Ignore the half-finished first jumper of mine, please.) This 3-ply yarn should be ideal for a light top: it has drape, feels cool to the touch, and the silk keeps it from being too woolly. To me it feels like a summer yarn, actually.

Blacker Samite 3-ply yarn
In the end, I chose colours that deviate from my usual choice. I picked Peacock's Neck (blue), Swallow's Soar (light blue) and Tide of Dreams (sage green). Admittedly, the colours looked a bit more vibrant to me on the site, so I was a little disapointed with them. Maybe I should have stuck with my favourite colours after all, but these will knit up nicely into a multicoloured top. 

Even though I know I want to knit a top, I don't actually have a suitable pattern. I scoured Ravelry and couldn't find anything I liked in my size, so I may improvise a bit. I would like to add some chevrons to the design, using the light blue and sage green on a blue background. This could get interesting! 

Stick around for a few years and I am sure you will see the results. Well, okay, I shall try to hurry, but there's still that jumper to finish first.

Blacker Yarns Samite in three shades

Did you get your hands on Samite, too? What do you think of it and, most of all, what will you knit? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Nothing Better Than Yarn and a Cup of Tea

The sun is shining and spring is in the air. Sunday is my lazy day so what could be better than squishing some yarn and having a cup of tea? 

You may have read the review of my silver hank of Puyu recently. Amano, the company that created this yarn, saw my review and loved it so much that they got in touch with me and sent me two hanks in a lush caramel as a thank you. All the way from Peru! I am very grateful for this lovely surprise. They even included a mug because not only do they understand our love of knitting, but they also realise that a good mug of tea makes the world a little better - at least for a while.

I plan to use the silver and caramel to knit a fluffy hat for next autumn and winter. I feel like doing a bit of colourwork so watch this space! The caramel should look lovely as a colour accent amid the silver. A Scandinavian star pattern or some chevrons will probably look best - and there must be a pompom, of course. I will have a look around Ravelry before I cast on, but if there is nothing suitable, I still have some stitch libraries to go through on my book shelf.

If you are wondering what I am drinking, it's a black tea with mango that I ordered from my favourite German tea shop, Tee Gschwendner. It's called Mango Indica and I totally forgot I still had some of it here. Today felt just like the kind of day for my favourite cuppa.

This mug is simple and pretty at the same time. I really love the illustration showing a woman looking towards the Andes. This art work is typical of the Amano brand and you can see it on their website as well as on the yarn labels. I didn't mention it in my review, but the pretty cloud illustrations on the Puyu labels complement the squishy wool and add to the overall impression of rich, covetable yarn.

In a way, the illustrations carry with them an air of the unfamiliar, in a good way. They feel Peruvian and create a yearning for this country most of us are unlikely to ever see for ourselves. By knitting with this yarn, it's almost as though you are knitting a piece of Peru into your life. And that, to me, is a wonderful thought.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Knitting & Crochet Inspiration: Citrus Edition

Fruity knitting and crochet patterns

Spring is coming! While the mild weather of last week has been replaced by a biting cold wind today, there's no denying that spring is on its way. The first flowers are beginning to blossom and I finally got a chance, albeit briefly, to ditch my heavy winter coat. This got me thinking about spring knits and I came across a wonderful citrus sock pattern that just screamed sunshine. So here's a selection of citrus patterns to get you in the mood.

1. These Citrus socks by Anna Bergman are amazing! I saw them pop up on Instagram, originally, and I love them. Sadly, the pattern is only available in Swedish as far as I can see, but I just had to share them with you because they are beautiful. If you come across an English translation, please let me know and I will be happy to add it.

2. Something for the crocheters among us: Purl Soho's Fruity Trivets and Pot Holders are quick to make and useful kitchen helpers. They not only come in the colour of lemons and oranges, so you have a lot of choice here. There's even a link to knitted versions if that's your jam.

3. I know that I often neglect crochet, so here's a second crochet pattern for you! This lemon stress ball is also quick to make and looks like a lot of fun. If you don't want to use it as a stress ball, why not knit up a few and arrange them in a bowl instead? Blogger and crafter Claireabelle has included a video in which popular crocheter Twinkie Chan shows you how to make your own lemon - and how not to fill it.

4. Kelli Slack's Tropical Citrus Shawl is a wonderful shade of orange and will brighten up any grey day (and let's face it, such days are far more common here in the UK than we would like). The shawl features lace that looks like it is full of oranges, but there are also small cables to add interest. 

What patterns have caught your eye recently? Let's get ready for some spring knitting!

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Amano Puyu: Yarn As Soft As a Cloud

Amano Puyu alpaca silk yarn for knitting and crochet

Sit back, relax and imagine what it would be like to knit a cloud - because that's what it feels like when you cast on to knit with Amano Puyu, a beautiful Peruvian chunky yarn made from 70% baby alpaca and 30% mulberry silk. In the native language of the Incas, puyu means cloud, and the name is absolutely perfect.

This new yarn is incredibly light and soft and comes in a small number of natural shades. I have the silver colourway (3007) that reminds me of rain clouds. It is very pleasant to knit with and I am intrigued by the way it has been constructed. I say constructed, because this yarn has not been spun the conventional way: First, the silk is spun into a tube into which the alpaca is introduced by puffs of air. No wonder it feels so light! This process also explains why I enjoy knitting with this yarn despite it consisting mainly of alpaca.

Peruvian alpaca yarn with silk

You see, I don't actually like alpaca because it feels very unpleasant while I knit with it. I can't explain what it is, but the yarn doesn't seem to glide along as well. If there was a tactile equivalent to that awful squeaky chalk on a blackboard sound, then it would be alpaca. 

However, Puyu is beautiful and I can't wait to knit up a little something with it. Each skein contains only 50 g (75 m), so I think a hat may be all I can make with a single skein. The chunky yarn is the ideal weight for such a project so I shall give it a go. 

Washing wool with Soak wool wash

To test this yarn, I knitted a large gauge swatch with the recommended 9 mm needles, gave it a wash with Soak and then gently blocked it. I prefer slightly denser fabric, so going down a needle size would have been perfect for me, I think. Still, with 9 mm the result is lovely and soft and very drapey. 

In fact, I think the best thing to make this yarn is a large, sweeping, chunky shawl to keep you warm in autumn and winter. The drape would be wonderful in such an accessory and yet it would feel wonderfully light. I am very tempted, I have to say! Whatever you decide to knit with this wool, the yarn itself will be the star of the show. No need for fancy patterns; all you need is a layer of this fabric to surround yourself in a lovely cloud of warmth.

Alpaca and silk yarn that feels like a cloud

For yarn snobs like me, Puyu is a must-have. This is a high-quality yarn, there's no doubt about it. At £16.95 for 50 g it isn't within everyone's budget, I know, but if you want to spend some saved-up cash on a treat, I do recommend Puyu. It is something very special and quite different.

Disclosure: This yarn was sent to me free of charge by Laughing Hens in exchange for a review. My opinions are impartial and honest and I do not receive monetary compensation for my post.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

The PussyHat Effect: EU Edition

I know, I know. I said I probably wouldn't need to talk politics on this blog again after my PussyHat post, but of course life always has other plans. 

Being an EU migrant in the UK, impending Brexit is causing a lot of insecurity about my future here - and, as a consequence, the future of my fiancé as well. Should I have to leave, either because the Home Office tells me to or because the government makes life extremely difficult by removing eligibility for NHS treatment, benefits or pensions, I and many others like me will take our British spouses, British children and British money with us. It angers me that there are more protests against Trump than against our treatment in this country.

The visibility of existing protests is missing in the media as well. In the meantime, savvy knitters have started to counter the invisibility in their own way by adapting the PussyHat pattern to suit their needs. In a previous post I added a link to an EU version designed by Anke Klempner (now updated to include a beanie and a PussyHat shape). It's become increasingly popular and you may have seen photos and news footage of people in their EU hats as they lobby their MPs and protest against the British government's treatment of EU citizens as bargaining chips in upcoming negotiations.

If you would like to support EU citizens in the UK, there are ways you can help. Join a lobbying group such as The 3 Million and help ensure that those of us who have made their lives here and British citizens abroad don't lose their acquired rights.

(All images are contributions from members of The 3 Million.)