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 While the mild weather of last week has been replaced by a biting cold wind today, there's no denying that spring is on its way.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.)