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Knit one, heal one

Hello again and Happy New Year to you all!

I hope you have all enjoyed good Christmas and New Year celebrations. It’s nice to be back and to be working on projects other than Christmas presents; more of those later.

A knitting friend sent me the link to this interview with Betsan Corkill who runs Stitchlinks, a support network for those who enjoy the therapeutic benefits of crafts such as knitting and crochet. This is the clip from a Boxing Day radio programme.

I listened to it this morning and it immediately set my mind racing. My first thoughts were that this is the same researcher that my daughter wrote about in the Knitting as Therapy article in The Woolly Prawn, the book which we published in December 2012.

the book

Amongst those of us who knit or crochet it has been accepted for some time that these crafts are beneficial in the treatment of pain relief, anxiety and depression as well as in the rehabilitation of patients who have suffered strokes.  It is good to hear this research being aired on national radio … let’s hope that every person who was inspired by the broadcast to pick up some yarn and needles or a hook may find a whole new healing world opening up to them.

When I listened to Bethan speaking I also thought of the late Marinke Slump aka Wink who sadly succumbed to depression last July after a long battle during which crochet had played such an important part in the management of her illness. Her designs are some of the most potent inspirations for those of us who love colour and crochet.

During the last six months the blogger, Kathryn Vercillo of crochetconcupiscence.com has worked tirelessly on a project called Mandalas for Wink to heighten awareness of how those who suffer from anxiety and depression can be helped by crafting. Kathryn has also written two books on the subject, Crochet Saved my Life and Hook to Heal.

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I strongly believe that knitting and crochet groups are so important: ideas and techniques are shared, problems are solved and support is given to huge numbers of people. Knitting and crochet can provide an outlet and focus which might not otherwise exist – let’s continue to extend and enjoy these social networks wherever possible. These are just a few of the projects completed by members of my lovely group of ladies:-

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Sue's

granny pastels

On that reflective but positive note I shall wish you all a very good day full of inspirational knitting and crochet fun and creativity.

Jenny x

 

 

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Happy Christmas!

Hello everyone.

This is just a quickie to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a craft-packed New Year. Thank you for your support during the past twelve months.

Tree

Well, the presents are wrapped, the lights are up, the tree is decorated and my Christmas projects are finished and packed .. except for a teeny weeny bit of one which is proving quite slow.  Can’t show photos, of course!  What with prawns and stones it has all been a bit of a rush this year; promises made to myself to definitely start my Christmas projects earlier next time round simply do not work!

I, for one, have already so many ideas  and plans for how I’m going to spend any free time when the festivities of the next week are over and I’m itching to get those new patterns out and select my yarn. The anticipation of every new project is so exciting … can’t wait!

But there’s lots of family fun and sharing to be enjoyed before that.  I hope you all have a great festive season and that 2015 is filled with much knitting and crochet love.

Xmas

Jenny x

 

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Christmas Bazaar

Hello,

Just a quickie today to say a huge thank you to all those who supported The Woolly Prawn at our stall in the Abbotts Bromley Girls’ School Christmas Bazaar last Saturday and to those who bought books, kits or pebbles. I hope you enjoy them.

I had lots of help from my granddaughter who was definitely giving the crocheted pebbles the hard sell and was generously distributing our cards for The Woolly Prawn and Crocheted Pebbles. A big thank you also to Helen, who invited me to share her stall – we had a lovely day. Do take a look at her fabulous goodies – they make wonderful presents.

The stall

Plans are afoot to extend the Woolly Prawn’s range of goodies for next year’s event – watch this space.

Now it really is time to concentrate on my Christmas projects! No photos at this stage for obvious reasons. Time is certainly of the essence …. why does December seem to fly?

Off I fly!

Jenny x

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Prawn to pebble and back again

Hello,

I can hardly believe that my blog has now had over 1,000 visits during its first year; a huge thank you to all of you who have looked at it and been so supportive.

All this prawn business seems to have come full circle now – first of all my daughter and I jointly wrote and published The Woolly Prawn in December 2012 after many hours spent designing, making and testing knitted prawns and the other bits and bobs ……

the book

the book

Then followed the introduction of the Woolly Prawn Kit in the summer of 2013 …..

the woolly prawn kit

the woolly prawn kit

…….  and in October last year when the crochet bug had really taken hold I developed the passion for crocheted pebbles which led to my blog. Now it’s back again to Woolly Prawn kits and keyrings ……

prawn keyrings

prawn keyrings

mini prawn keyrings

The return to prawn-making began in earnest when I was invited to share a stall at the Abbotts Bromley Girls’ School Christmas Bazaar. Helen and I will be selling our goodies together on Saturday, December 29th – do have a look at the wonderful handmade dolls and rabbits on her facebook page (Helen Lucia E) and if you live in the Abbotts Bromley area come along on Saturday morning.

So, over the last few weeks I have been preparing kits for the Christmas season with their mini-prawn keyrings –

Contents

Contents

ready to go!

ready to go!

you can check out the book and the kit on Etsy.com/shop/TheWoollyPrawn.

There will be crocheted pebbles on sale as well, of course, and I have been trying out some colours to brighten up my display.

Made for grandchildren and other small hands.

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So, next week I really can concentrate on my Christmas projects – three weeks to complete ….. that’s scary! I hope you are all well ahead with your seasonal crafting. It is supposed to be relaxing and therapeutic after all!

Bye for now,

Jenny x

 

 

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Kaffe Fassett revisited

Unheard of, isn’t it – two posts within a week of each other?  But if you were a passionate Kaffe Fassett fan as I have been for the last 35 years you wouldn’t be able to resist sharing the excitement of seeing his present exhibition in The American Museum at Bath.

Amazing from the moment you approach the entrance to the minute you leave. Lamp posts and railings are decorated with knitted and crocheted graffiti.Lamp 1

 

Lamp 2

Brightly coloured pom-poms and hand painted lanterns hang from a huge tree to welcome you.

Pompoms

 

Each zone of the exhibition represents a different aspect of Kaffe’s creations –

 

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his knitting, his tapestries and needlepoint, pottery, bead encrusted, crocheted hats and paintings. There is even a reproduction of what might well represent one wall of his studio.

Studio

 

The whole experience is an unforgettable riot of colour and texture – absolutely worth a visit if you in the Bath area before mid- November.

Seeing Kaffe’s designs again reminded me of the time in the eighties when a friend and I used to delve into the bargain baskets of every possible wool shop in search of oddments of co-ordinating yarn with which to try out his patterns.  The excitement of finding some subtle shade in delicious silk or mohair led us to stash drawers full of different colour ways.

I was also reminded of Kaffe’s Persian Poppy design which he always called the big cheat because it uses the Magic Ball technique. You simply tie together differing lengths of many shades of yarn winding them into a ball as you go – for example blues and purples in one ball and neutral shades in your second ball. This means that you can incorporate multi colours into the knitting but only ever using two balls of wool. Ingenious ….. apart from the knots!!

My Persian PoppyPersian Poppy

It set me thinking about whether this method would be possible in crochet so I collected together all my different oddments in two colours and started winding.

Blues….

Blues

…and neutrals

Neutrals

I’m thinking coloured circles on a neutral background like the poppies – maybe something quite small such as a cushion cover.

This is where I am at the moment …Circles

 

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…not quite sure that it will work as well in crochet as it did in knitting.

Of course, when Kaffe Fassett was encouraging us to use so many colours in the eighties self-striping and hand-dyed yarns were not available but we’ll see how the experiment goes.

Anyway, I still believe that when in doubt about which colours to add to a project we ought to take Kaffe Fassett’s advice and add twenty more.

Happy colour work!

Jenny x

 

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Sock yarn but no socks!

Hello everyone,

What is it about sock yarn that makes it so irresistible? For me I think it is the colours. Don’t get me wrong, I like making socks and loved the sock-making classes which I attended at Miju Wools in Gloucester where I met some great knitters and had some expert instruction from Michelle  but when I see sock yarn it is not socks which come to mind first.

There are so many other ways to enjoy the colours of sock yarns ……

For ages I have wanted to try a sock yarn example of the granny stripes pattern from Lucy at Attic 24 and some recent stash busting led me to  this project.

an odd mix of colours

an odd mix of colours but I like them!

 

so pleased with Lucy's picot edging

so pleased with Lucy’s picot edging

 

During a visit to Get Knitted in Bristol for a Debbie Abrahams workshop on working up one’s stash I saw an example of this beautiful moebius cowl by Amanda Perkins. The choice of sock yarns there was quite amazing and the design such fun to work with the colour changes.

couldn't resist the yarn

couldn’t resist the yarn

 

The following pattern for a baby cardigan was designed by Frances Fletcher and can be found here.  I discovered it initially in a lovely little yarn shop in Hereford which has, sadly, since closed down. The yarn originally chosen was hand dyed and one skein was just enough for the project. This ensured complete originality on each garment. At the moment  I am making this for a friend’s new baby (pics of completed item to follow) and I am using Regia Kaffe Fassett Ombre Design for this one – I just love the muted colours which remind me of the heathery shades chosen by Kaffe during a visit to Scotland. He learned to knit on the train journey back to London and went on to complete his first striped sweater….. and the rest is history!

worked sideways

worked sideways

 

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Another discovery has been the mitred square – using the pattern by Sue Ann Kendall found here I made this buggy blanket from oddments of sock yarn and incorporated one solid shade.

sock oddments well used

sock oddments well used

 

simple but structured

simple but structured

 

just love the way colours work together

just love the way colours work together

To me it is amazing that all the colours blend in so well and it is such a fun pattern to work. Each new square is added as you go so no seaming at the end. Brilliant!

The woolly prawn tie – well, I couldn’t not mention this could I since it is one of the patterns in The Woolly Prawn. The design is so simple but the finished tie can be so different depending on what type of sock yarn you use.

neat knot, sir!

neat knot, sir!

 

yarn bombing!

a spot of local yarn bombing?

So, you see, there’s no need to feel limited to socks when you browse through the wonderful colours of the sock yarns in the shops or online. There are so many ways of enjoying those shades or even using up remnants when your socks are completed.

Well, I’m off to enjoy the glorious spring sunshine now or, more precisely, to do a spot of gardening. Hope the weather stays fine over Easter.

Happy Easter everyone,

Back soon,

Jenny x

 

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Stash surprises

Hello again.

It’s amazing what little nuggets of delight can come to light when sorting a stash!  As you know I have been rationalising my craft stuff ready for my new Ikea unit – well, I came across some Colinette yarn bought ages ago …

Multi by Colinette…. it’s much more purple than I had remembered but I obviously loved it at the time!

Also rediscovered was an American pattern for a multi-directional scarf designed to show off self-patterning yarn so a new technique and a way of using up that yarn. What could be better?

Portland pattern

Portland pattern

Multi-directional seems to be very similar to short row shaping as in the heels of socks, Frankie Brown’s ten-stitch blanket and mitred squares. Once you get into it it grows quickly and, as the pattern suggests, does highlight the colour changes of the yarn.

very purple

very purple

neater than I thought it would be

neater than I thought it would be

Don’t know about you but I just can’t seem to resist multicoloured yarn – these lovely balls came from Chester. Italian, soft to the touch but with a tension somewhere between 4 ply and DK so I wasn’t quite sure what to make with them.

yummy colours

yummy colours

Then it came to me – incorporate them all into a Granny Stripe blanket. What is this obsession with blankets and throws? When in doubt crochet a throw – so reassuring to have on the go and you can pick them up at any time to do a row.  We don’t really need another one but I’m sure someone will give it a good home.

hooked on granny stripes

hooked on granny stripes

So, here we are … committed to it but pleased with the way it is working out. I have stuck in a couple of stripes in solid colours to highlight the others and as you see purple keeps popping up!

Now that two new projects are underway (I’m just not a single project sort of crafter!) I can get back to my crocheted pebbles and try out some more designs.

I’ll report back soon on how that’s going,

Bye for now,

Jenny x