Thursday, 31 May 2018

Not crochet, but still creative ...

Hello! Recently I have begun chalk board art and today I wanted to share some of my latest boards with you. It will mostly be a pictorial blog post because chalk boards are a visual thing!

drinks menu, Gather, Carnoustie
photo credit - Niall Mitchell

I beagn by doing a few boards for  Bethany in Gather in Carnoustie just before Christmas. they were seasonal boards and because they were my first venture into chalk board art there were lots of little things I wasn't quite happy with so I didn't take any photos of them! However, early in the new year the café opened at Gather and I did a couple of menu boards for the café which I was much happier with.

specials board, Gather, Carnoustie

Soon after that I was approached by Vicky at Millie's Pet Services in Carnoustie and asked to do their internal chalkboard around the walls and the sandwich board outside. By this time I felt much more confident and I had a lot of fun with these boards, which I feel reflect the personality of the pet shop very well.

sandwich board, Millie's Pet Services, Carnoustie

detail of sandwich board, Millie's Pet Services, Carnoustie

sandwich board, Millie's Pet Services, Carnoustie

internal walls, Millie's Pet Services, Carnoustie
photo credit - Vicky Gunn

Back at Gather I helped to create an information board to make it clear to everyone that Gather is a dog friendly café - a trend which I am pleased to see is catching on in many cafés!

information board, Gather, Carnoustie

Now that the warmer weather is with us, I drew the board below for Gather to advertise their new iced latte. I use Pinterest for most of my hand lettering inspiration - there is so much chalk board art on there, it's amazing! I work out my ideas on scaled down pieces of paper before beginning on the boards. This really helps me to plan out the layout and see what is going to work in the space I have.

sandwich board, Gather, Carnoustie

I am always keen to take on new chalk board work, if you are reading this and are local please do get in touch below to discuss your requirements, I would love to work with more local businesses to promote their brand. If you are not so local, I hope that my photos have inspired you in some way - perhaps to take up chalk board art yourself!

Until next time,

Marta xx

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Help! I'm a sock addict!

Help! I seem to have become a sock addict! I am currently on my 8th pair since starting in September last year! I am going to share my sock making journey here, mainly through photographs because as you know I take lots of photos as I am going along, mostly to post on Instagram.

current pair!

I began by making a pair of socks for myself simply as a way of using up all the scraps of 4ply yarn I had kicking about. I followed a pattern by Joanne Scrace called Evesham Socks and I quickly fell in love with the sock making technique!

1st pair - for me!

I realised that socks would make a lovely Christmas present for my sister's fiance, Mat, so I made him a pair of Everyone (Needs) Socks by Kat Goldin. He loved them but my sister, Aimee, loved them more so I made her a pair of self coloured ones.

2nd pair - for Mat


3rd pair - for Aimée

After Christmas I found myself in need of inspiration for a project so I asked my youngest son, Alex, if there was anything he would like me to make for him - he replied "socks please!". His pair use up lots of scraps like mine - he chose the order he wanted them in. The pattern is another of Joanne Scrace's called Mamble Socks.

4th pair - for Alex

a good fit!

Time for another pair for myself! I asked my husband to pick out a ball of West Yorkshire Spinners sock wool from our local yarn shop, Fluph, and he picked me a lovely soft pink colour - I love it! This pattern is Hop Socks by Vicki Brown.

5th pair - for me!


Onto another family member - my eldest son this time. His feet are on the large size - UK size14 - so this was definitely a labour of love! I chose another Vicki Brown pattern - Fallen Leaves.

6th pair - for Niall

long socks!!

Pair no.7 were soon underway! I stumbled across 4 balls of vintage sock wool in our local charity shop and decided to use them to try another Vicki Brown pattern Winter Wonder. Of all the designs I have tried, this one is definitely the fastest! It's worked in tramline stitch which was a new stitch for me and I absolutely love the results. I made them with no real recipient in mind but then found out it was my friend Moira's birthday and I knew she would appreciate them.

7th pair - for Moira

curled up

Of all the sock patterns I have tried so far, I felt that Fallen Leaves had the best squishy texture so I decided to make a pair for myself. We are heading into much warmer weather now, so will need to wait a while to wear them but I am looking forward to autumn already!

8th pair - for me!

What about you? Do you have a favourite sock pattern? Please share them with me in the comments below, I would love to hear from you!

Marta xx

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Book Review: Edward's Crochet Doll Emporium by Kerry Lord

Hello! It's gone all windy and chilly outside today, making me want to snuggle up with my crochet and mug of hot chocolate, but first I have a book review to share! I bought Edward's Doll Emporium by Kerry Lord in Waterstone's when I was on a day trip to Aberdeen in October. It had recently been released and I had seen lots of hype about it on social media so I was keen to have my own copy! I love the concept of this book; you flip through and match heads with outfits to create the pattern for the look you are going for. The corresponding pattern is presented on the opposite page making it very clear and easy to use.

Oooooh, shiny new book!

Because my WIP list was so long it wasn't until January this year that I began to make my first doll and I was so excited to start! After looking through lots of different options I decided to make a doll in the likeness of my dear friend Gwen so Head 1 and Costume 1 were the best fit for her. 

making a start

The dress was one of the most time consuming pieces to make, it seamed to take forever to be long enough but I loved how it quickly injected some colour into the project and my photos! I like the fact that all the clothes are interchangeable, allowing more than one outfit to be made - something a young child will really enjoy to play with.

2 arms now!

One thing I did find fiddly was making the hands! I went for the advanced body options and trying to create 2 sets of fingers that matched was quite tricky! I was mostly crocheteing whilst watching family films (it was still the Christmas holidays) with a stash of chocolates and a cup of tea at my side so all this kept me going!

time to think about the hair

Gwen has beautiful, thick auburn hair so lots of woolly hair was needed! I had an odd ball of leftover sock yarn and reckoned it would be big enough but it wasn't until I began pulling the strands through that I realised just how much yarn this task consumed. I started spacing the strands further and further apart in an effort to cover the scalp, but I wasn't convinced this approach had worked very well and was still considering pulling it out and starting with different yarn when I spotted a very similar colour yarn in a charity shop, hooray! It worked perfectly in harmony with the initial hair colour and the gaps were filled and blended very neatly. 

initial hair coverage

It was arround this stage that I stopped taking and posting photos online because although Gwen knew that I was making it for her and she had helped to choose colours for her dress, I wanted to keep some elements a surprise. It was also around this time that I began to think about glasses. Gwen wears glasses all the time so this doll had to have glasses! Working with metal has never really been my thing so I turned to someone else to help, local artist Alan MacDonald. Alan had fun recreating Gwen's glasses in miniature form using thin wire and I was really pleased with how they turned out!

eeeeek! I have glasses!

At the start of this week I handed mini-Gwen over to Gwen and she was delighted with how it had turned out - all those tiny stitches in 4ply yarn were definitely worth it! I will be making more dolls from this book for sure - there are so many different options to choose from which I love! 

both Gwens together at last!

I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys crocheting. The instructions are very clear, the photos are excellent and there is all sorts of extra information at the back on skin tone, sizing, etc. This is a fun book that you will keep reaching for when you need to make a personalised present for a special friend or relative.

Until next time, happy hooking,

Marta xx

PS. All views expressed in this blog post are my own, this post has not been sponsored in any way.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

a post about my local stitching group: Twisted Stitchers

Hello! Today I wanted to share a little with you about my local stitching group. It's a lovely group that  meet in the Two Sisters Cafe, one of the local cafés, in my home town of Carnoustie. Just over a year ago the owners Libby and Laura-May approached me about starting up a knitting group and would I be interested in helping - my answer of course was a great, big "YES!".

photo credit: Steven Whittaker

The above photo shows some of us working on our various needlecrafts, possibly with more chattering than stitching going on! Steven Whittaker, an amateur photographer, dropped in one evening to take a few photos for his portfolio and I think he did a wonderful job of capturing the atmosphere of our crafty evenings.

photo credit: Steven Whittaker
As you can see the group is not restricted to knitting - we have many crochet, embroidery, sewing, loom knitting and even tapestry lovers. When Libby states "We are a diverse group of wool/ thread craft enthusiasts of mixed ability. We share skills, knowledge, books, wool, life experiences and lots of cake and laughs!" she make a couple of very good points. Firstly - "mixed ability" - it doesn't matter if you have never picked up a needle in your life or if you have been crafting all your life, you are very welcome to join us. There are many experienced crafters who are keen to pass on their knowledge and enthusiasm. 

photo credit: Steven Whittaker

Secondly - "lots of cake and laughs" - we meet in a cafe selling amazing, freshly baked cakes so of course we can't let the opprtunity to sample some pass us by! Alongside our stitching and munching we chat constantly shareing the stories of our lives, our ups and downs. I interviewed Gwen from the group and she said " I absolutely love coming along to Twisted Stitchers. As an incredibly busy person it gives me the chance to have a break, get support with any tricky crochet stitches and eat cakes! I have made some great friends and see the group as the perfect tonic for a stressful day."

photo credit: Steven Whittaker

Twisted Stitchers meet every Thursday evening, 7pm - 9pm in the Two Sisters Cafe, Carnoustie. Each session costs £4.00 which includes cake and a cuppa. Please feel free to drop in, no booking necessary.  

Monday, 2 April 2018

Updated Pattern: Easy Wrist Warmers

Hello! Today I would like to share an updated version of one of my first free crochet patterns - Easy Wrist Warmers. I wrote this pattern back in 2015 and after pattern testing for a friend of mine last week - also wrist warmers - I went back and had a look at this pattern. I hadn't realised how much my pattern writing stye had matured in such a short time; this pattern was not only clumsily written but had a few small errors in it too! Oooops!

Easy Wrist Warmers, adult small with fluted edge

Over the last couple of days I have tweaked the pattern, worked the first rounds of the original pattern (written only in 1 size), added a small and a large size to the range, included a measurements and yarn quantities table, added a second option for the finish around the knuckles and taken more up to date photos in keeping with my current style.

original wrist warmers in pale lilac with the shell edging

My up to date pattern is still free to download from Ravelry, you can find it together with all my other patterns here. These wrist warmers are the perfect project for a beginner or a speedy make for the more advanced crocheter. The adult small size requires only 1x 50g ball of Debbie Bliss cashmerino DK, the adult medium and adult large sizes will require 2x 50g balls of the same yarn.

detail of the seed stitch pattern

If you follow my pattern please share your progress and finished phtos on social media, I would love to see your makes!

Marta xx

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Daffodil Shawl update

Hello! I have been doing a real mix of creative things lately including bullet journalling, drawing, learning to make barista style coffee, chalk board lettering, baking and of course crochet!! Today I wanted to update you on my Daffodil Shawl design progress because I have just finished crocheting the shawl this afternoon!

I started this design in mid January and very quickly worked up 2 of the 3 skeins of Koigu Mori I had set aside for it (see previous blog post with a review of this gorgeous yarn here). For some reason I then became caught up in other projects and this shawl took a bit of a back seat (this often happens with projects - my attention can be quite fleeting!). When I went back to it last week I realised that I wasn't happy with the proportion of the shawl - worked width-wise, it was far too skinny and scarf like! My initial yardage calculations must have been a bit off and it turned out I did have enough yarn to increase the width by 33%, a significant difference, so ... I unravelled the scarf right back to the beginning ...

the moment of realisation, a lot of stitches to unravel ...

I began working up the new dimensions straight away and was very quickly back on track. As you can see in the above photo, I have worked on a chart to accompany the written pattern for this scarf too. In fact, the pattern writing part of the design process is almost complete, I only have a few details to add and then it will be ready for testing.

back on track and first edge complete

next step: blocking!

In other news I found out yesterday that my blog has made it into the Top 50 UK Crochet Blog list! You can see all the blogs listed here and there is so much inspiration, it's well worth a look. This has given me just the encouragement I need to carry on doing what I am doing here, so thank you everyone for stopping by to see what I get up to with my hook and yarn!

Happy hooking,

Marta xx

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Guest Blog Post by Kathryn Vercillo

Hello! Today I am excited to bring you a post by my very first guest blogger, Kathryn Vercillo! If you are a crochet fan and an instagrammer you will probably know Kathryn through the amazing crochet community she has brought together on Instagram via her hashtag #crochetconcupiscence (currently sitting at 55,167 posts!). Kathryn frequently updates her blog too - if you are new to crochet, Kathryn has written an in-depth article covering everything you need to know here.

image @Kathryn Vercillo

I have asked Kathryn to write a post addressing the differences between UK and US crochet terms, something which can often get people in a bit of a muddle. I frequently receive emails from people following one of my patterns stating that they are following the instructions and it looks nothing like my photos. Usually when I ask them to send me a picture of their work I can instantly see that they are using the incorrect crochet terms (even though my patterns clearly state which to use). So, if this sounds familiar to you, read on ...

"One of the first things that you need to look at as you begin a crochet pattern is whether that pattern is written using UK crochet terms or US crochet terms. Although the words are the same, the crochet stitches are different in each of these languages, so if you crochet a project based on a wrong assumption about which terms are being used then chances are your gauge for the project will be way off. Luckily, once you know the differences between UK and US crochet terms, you’ll discover that it’s easy to adapt one pattern to the other if you need to.

Basic Differences Between UK and US Crochet Terms

The basic crochet stitches are named for their height, but those names differ between UK and US patterns. The shortest stitch (other than a chain or slip stitch) is called a “double crochet” in UK language but a “single crochet” in US language. From there, the stitches keep getting taller, so the next one up in the UK is a treble but in the US, it’s a double.

Notice, that means that there is a “double crochet” in both languages. However, the UK “double crochet” is a shorter stitch than the “US” double crochet. Let’s look at how to crochet each of these stitches to gain a better understanding:

UK Double Crochet

  • Yarn over twice
  • Insert hook into stitch
  • Yarn over and pull through
  • Yarn over and pull through two loops
  • Yarn over and pull through two loops
  • Yarn over and pull through two loops

US Double Crochet

  • Yarn over
  • Insert hook into stitch
  • Yarn over and pull through
  • Yarn over and pull through two loops
  • Yarn over and pull through two loops

There is an extra “yarn over and pull through” in the UK version because there is an extra “yarn over” at the beginning. This makes the UK double crochet a taller stitch than the US double crochet (and the same height as a US treble crochet).

This can all seem very confusing at first, but you do get used to it. It really isn’t all that different from traveling between the US and Europe. In Europe, you enter a building on the ground floor and take the elevator one floor up to the “first floor”. In the United States, the floor you enter on is called the first floor and when you take the elevator up one flight you’re on the second floor. In other words, the European first floor is the US second floor. It seems confusing at first but travel enough and it becomes second nature. It’s the same way with crochet.

image @Kathryn Vercillo - UK double crochet/ US single crochet

image @Kathryn Vercillo - UK treble crochet/ US double crochet

Guide to UK vs US Crochet Stitches

Now that you have a basic understanding of the difference between UK and US crochet stitches, here is a helpful guide to the basic stitches in both languages.

UK Term vs US Term

Double crochet vs. single crochet
Half treble crochet vs. half double crochet
Treble crochet vs. double crochet
Double treble crochet vs. treble crochet

So, let’s say that you are reading a UK crochet pattern that calls for a “half treble crochet”. If you are used to working in American terms, you will mentally convert that to a half double crochet stitch and proceed with the pattern accordingly.

A Few Other Things to Know

  • Slip stitch and chains are the same in both UK and US terminology.
  • Techniques are also usually the same across languages; the “magic loop” for example is the same in UK and US patterns.
  • The abbreviations are the same in both languages. Double crochet is always dc, it just refers to a different height of stitch in UK vs US patterns. 
  • In contrast, the symbols used in symbol charts match the height of the stitch, not its name. So, an X on a UK chart means a UK double crochet but the same X means a UK single crochet. The symbol for a US double crochet is a T with a line across the middle.
  • There are a few other words that might be different between UK and US patterns. For example, what is typically called “tension” in UK patterns is called “gauge” in US patterns; what is called “skip” in the US is “miss” in the UK.
  • Australian crochet patterns typically use UK terminology.
  • Many crochet pattern designers offer their patterns in both US and UK language so check to see if your desired pattern is available in the language you prefer.

This is a guest post by Kathryn Vercillo, blogger at Crochet Concupiscence and author of several books including Crochet Saved My Life and Mandalas for Marinke."

image @Kathryn Vercillo 

So, a big thank you to Kathryn for being my first guest being my first guest blogger! I hope this post has been useful for you - if you have any questions about UK vs US terms, please leave them in the comments below. If you are interested in being a future guest blogger, please get in touch!

Happy hooking,

Marta xx