Best of British Yarns

Thanks so much for all feedback on yesterday’s post about the WI collaboration with Hobbycraft. I’m ploughing through the emails, and will respond to everyone. You can read some of the responses on my twitter feed and in the comments on yesterday’s post.

In the interests of fairness, tomorrow I’ll be sharing some of my favourite designs made using man made fibres, but today I’m sharing a few of my  makes which show off some fabulous British wool and wool blends.

Just for the record, my interpretation of “British” wool means that the fleece grew on the back of a British sheep and that will always be my first choice for personal projects. However, there are some fabulous independent spinners and dyers doing amazing stuff with natural fibres and I shall definitely write about those in the future.

west yoks spinners 4 plyFirst up is this “work in progress”, a plain sock which is on the needles at the moment. I like my socks plain, simple and  a perfect fit in a good quality yarn. This Signature 4 ply from West Yorkshire Spinners definitely fits the bill and priced at £7.20 for 400m (a 100g ball) it compare favourably with other commercial sock yarns. I’ve got a bit of a WYS “thing” going at the moment, you may recall the beautiful mohair wrap I made at Easter. They do a great range of DK and Aran weights and are reasonably priced. The Aire Valley DK washes particularly well and is great for kids wear.

Willow Shawl, pattern and photo Credit Vicki Magnus, full details on Ravelry (click on the photo to be redirected to Ravelry))

A long time favourite dyer of mine is Vicki Magnus of Eden Cottage Yarns,lots of my personal projects are made in her gorgeous yarns. Among her British yarns is the new MIlburn 4 ply. ( a blend of Blue Faced Leicester and silk),  I can’t wait to treat myself to a skein. Vicki kindly gave permission to use the photo above. You can find the pattern details and download  on her Ravelry page.

wrist warmers

It’s always a bonus when an editor supports my choice for British yarn and these gorgeous wrist warmers in two beautiful shades of New Lanark DK first appeared in Love Crochet last year. This yarn definitely falls into the “super value” category and comes in a great range of colours. If you’re not familiar with New Lanark, do visit the website and drool over the amazing shades. A visit is highly recommended too!

Of course, I’m lucky to have such great editors, Knit Now for example have done great stuff in supporting and promoting British yarns  (if you’re looking for more British yarn suppliers, take a look at the current issue which has plenty of adverts for British yarn suppliers).

knit now

One of my all time favourite shoots has to be this simple ear warmer from Inside Crochet. Made using two balls of Erika Knight’s British Blue yarn it is just adorable and really shows off the subtle shades and soft yarn Erika Knight  has become known  for. Ideal for baby knits and for colour work, the 25g balls are the perfect size for little treats and fair isle projects.

Crochet_6Jan14-124

Photo Credit: Britt Spring for Inside Crochet (c) Tailormade Publishing

I’m often drawn to the colour and texture of a yarn and that often influences a design. The two shades of British Blue I used here are “Milk Chocolate” and “Steve”, other yarns in the range include “Mouse” and “Iced Gem” and are equally beautiful.

LilyWarneWool

Another great value and beautiful yarn which I recently discovered comes from Devon. Lily Warne wools  (cheaper, by the way,  than the Hobbycraft Heritage yarn I talked about yesterday). Sold   in DK and Aran weights the colour range can best be described as “scrumptious”. I’ve had great fun playing with different colour ways and I’ll have a project and pattern to share soon. Do take a look at Paula’s website, you can buy yarn and patterns direct or check out the list of stockists.

Photo Credit Lily Warne Wools. (Click on the photo to visit the website)

I just adore this photo and the super cute lambs steal the show!

Finally, I can’t write a post on British wool with a word for the producers. The farmers, shepherds, shearers and companies that provide us with one of the most beautiful, versatile and durable of fibres. Without healthy, happy sheep we wouldn’t have such beautiful yarns. So, thank you to everyone out on the fells at this time of year. If you’re interested to know more about the life of a shepherdess, I can throughly recommend you take a look at Alison O’Neill’s website. The neighbour of a friend of mine, she writes and records her life in the Howgills with humour and honesty.

Alison fleeces

Photo Kindly provided by Mike Glover to promote Kendal Wool Gathering. Click on the photo to visit the website.

I could write all morning about the gorgeous yarns, friendly suppliers and producers, but there’s really no substitute for going out and discovering British yarns for yourself. Do feel free to leave a link to your own favourites (or your own shop) in the comments and don’t fret, I know there hasn’t been a single mention for alpaca, cashmere or one of the many other beautiful fibres available. That’s a post for another day!

 

New Published Patterns

INSIDE-CROCHET_NO-52It’s always a thrill when new issues of my favourite magazines are delivered, and it’s even nicer to see my work photographed beautifully.

IMG_0442

Image: Britt Spring for Tailormade Publishing (c)

As you can see, the hugely talented Britt Spring has again worked her magic on my latest design, a simple Tunisian crochet cushion.

IMG_0437

Image: Britt Spring for Tailormade Publishing (c)

Quite by chance, the colours I chose for this design exactly match our newly decorated bedroom at home, so this now has pride of place.

Tunisian Crochet is a very simple technique, and the knit stitch used in this cushion looks just like knitting. The Inside Crochet team have written a piece about the technique on their blog this month, highlighting some of their favourite designs from recent issues.

stool cover

Image from “Crochet” published by Dorling KIndersley, March 2014

Also in issue 52 you can find one of my designs from the newly published book “Crochet” from Dorling Kindersley. On a visit to Cockermouth this week, I saw the book featured as part of a rather cute window display (the sun was shining so brightly  it’s not the best photo ever. )The New  Bookshop always has lovely displays, which really tempt you inside and the recent addition of a friendly coffee shop makes it an essential stop on our visits home.

cockermouth book shop

This issue also has a lovely article by Emma Varnam, in which she shows you a few simple ways to use floral motifs this summer. Ideal for bringing new life to last year’s cardigan or for making cute hairclips.

After a week in Cockermouth, we’re home now and busy catching up. I’ll be back soon with a few more finished objects and some sneaky peeks at designs in progress.

Whatever you’re making right now, I’d love to see photos, you can share by tagging @traceytodhunter  on twitter or instagram or post pictures to my facebook page. If you’re a “Raveller” you can also find the project details for the Tunisian Cushion here.

 

The Complete Guide to Crochet Volume 2

I am so thrilled to see this new bookazine hit the news agents. It’s stuffed with some of my favourite designs from Inside Crochet (including the  gorgeous foxy capelet on the cover, I really want to make it for myself).

I have a few designs reprinted inside, some of which are ideal for spring. Also included is my pattern for a Tunisian Crochet Sunglass case, which will be very handy for the summer!

As always, the Inside Crochet team have excelled themselves. A lovely mix of articles, featured yarns, designer profiles and patterns for every skill level.

Look out for it now, it’s a great collection.

Some of My Featured Designs is this issue:

(images (c) Tailormade Publishing Ltd)

Bright Pot Holders

Buttoned Up Mittens

Doily Rug

Pattern: Jemima Ear Muffs

Crochet_6Jan14-121I am just in love with these photos the Inside Crochet team have supplied of my latest design. These cute little ear muffs look adorable don’t they? You can find the pattern in issue 50, which is on sale now (I believe issue 51 has just gone to press, so you should still be able to find it in the shops). This design was definitely influenced by the yarn. Erika Knight British Blue wool is so soft and the colours so beautiful it really lends itslef to children’s projects. Also, becuase it comes in 25g balls, you can afford to splash out on a luxury yarn for your precious little ones!

Crochet_6Jan14-123

These ear muffs take 2 balls (I used Milk Chocolate and Steve), you can really play around with the colour combinations in the Erika Knight range and have some fun. The pattern is designed for beginners and only requires a knowledge of double crochet, increasing and decreasing. You could use any doublke knitting yarn for this project, but it really does need to be soft and not scratchy. I use this yarn a lot for baby gifts and the quality and the colours are hard to match (I’m particularly fond of “Mouse” and “Iced Gem”).

Crochet_6Jan14-124

I used a shop bought pair of ear muffs for my base, but the pattern also has instructions for making your own with a hair band and foam.

I’ll be back later this week to show you a more “grown up” version I made, which I really think you’ll like!

Happy making x

Photo credit: All images supplied by Inside Crochet

Share the Crochet Love

Crochet HeartOne of my all time favourite designs is now available to download for free on the Inside Crochet Website. First published in 2012, this pattern has been reworked several times. This version remains my favourite. It’s hard to achieve a really great heart shape, but with well placed increasing and decreasing this one is the best I’ve managed. The skill level is “beginner”, written in UK crochet terms it could easily be tackled by anyone who has managed to learn the basic stitches.

crochet heart

The gorgeous photography and styling by Andrea Ellison combined with a simple to follow pattern makes this perfect inspiration for handmade weddings, love tokens or just to add a little handmade chic to your decor.

You can get the free pattern over on the Inside Crochet website from today and you can see some finished projects over on Ravelry.

crochet heart

Photo credit:  All images here and on the Inside Crochet website are (c) Andrea Ellison Photography

New Pattern for Sale: Crochet Heart

Lavender heartThis simple crochet heart first appeared in Inside Crochet in 2012. Designed as a lavender sachet, I have modified it in many ways since then. Made in dk yarn it looks very sweet hung on a coat hanger. Make a single heart  in aran weight and stitch to a cushion or jumper for a quick, fun applique. I have put the pattern up for sale on Etsy today.

crochet heart aplique

Also on Etsy you’ll find a pattern for a smaller heart key ring or brooch, which uses the same principle of simple increasing and decreasing. Over the years I’ve experimented with lots of different crochet hearts, but this remains my favourite. If you’d like a free copy of this pattern, like, share or leave a comment by midnight tonight and I’ll choose three people at random and email you a free copy first thing tomorrow.*

Photo credit: Andrea Ellison

*Draw will close at midnight on 28th January 2014 (UK time)

A Few Ideas for Christmas

Image (c) Tailormade Publishing

I always start off the year with the best of intentions, I mean to start my Christmas gift making in July, then I get distracted by the garden, holidays and work commitments. Which is why I always seize on the November / December editions of my favourite magazines in the hope of some last minute ideas.

Inside Crochet never disappoints, this year I’m torn between Helen Free’s Hearts and Stars Wreath and Ali Campbell’s oversize Christmas Stocking. Both of which would make a fabulous gift.

For smaller gifts I’ll be making my All Buttoned Up mittens, which get a lovely mention in this issue (thank you IC team)! and also copious amounts of Limoncello, which goes down well with everyone. You can find the recipe, which is from Delicious magazine  here.

If I achieve everything I aim for this Christmas, I’ll be very popular I think!

Meet the Maker: Inside Crochet

image (c) Andrea Ellison PhotpgraphyWhile it’s a thrill to see my work in print, I always feel a bit awkward about interviews. Maybe it’s my upbringing “Don’t make a show of yourself”, or perhaps an inability to see myself as someone people might want to read about!! But, when Adrian from Inside Crochet asked me to provide a few images and let him in on a few  secrets from my past I was happy to oblige. Inside Crochet is one of the UK’s best respected crochet magazines and they have consistently supported my design work. You can hop over to their blog to read the interview in full and while you’re there sign up for their newsletter and see images from the latest issue, which includes my snuggly Log Cabin Blanket, another talented photographer, Britt Spring is the genius behind this image.

The photos used in the online feature are by the very lovely and super talented Andrea Ellison. Andrea always brings out the best in her subjects, and even though she leads a busy life as a successful wedding photographer, she always finds time to take a few pics of me – thank you Andrea – and thank you Inside Crochet xx

Christmas on the Cover

If you had told me 12 months ago that I would end 2012 with my crochet designs featured on the cover of two best selling magazines  I would never have believed you. But here we are with the new issues of Craftseller magazine and Inside Crochet on the supermarket shelves, each featuring my work on their covers. In Craftseller, you can find a very pretty little heart pattern, ideal for wall hangings and Inside Crochet features some very easy Christmas decorations, ideal for beginners (bookmark them for next year!).

Without the encouragement of my friends, readers of this blog (in particular Anne, who told me to “go for it”) and my family this would not have happened. So, thank you to all of you and in particular to the editors of two fabulous magazine who have been great to work with.

This has been an exciting year, the teen has just finished her first term at University, I have qualified as a children’s yoga instructor and Mr T has patiently endured my cooking experiments!

I hope that your year has been as rewarding as mine and that 2013 sees your dreams come true.

Remember, life is what you make it, so start planning now.

Happy Making.

Tracey x

October Published Patterns #1

image

These gorgeous scatter cushions include one of my all time favourite yarns. Rowan’s Kidsilk Haze always adds a touch of luxury. These patterns also feature Rowan Lima and Herirage Tweed. You can find the pattern for both cushions in issue 35 of Inside Crochet, in the shops now. Look out also for Emma Varnam’s Leighton Cardigan in the same issue. I am desperate to find time to make it!