Wednesday, 15 January 2020

getting back to it ...

Hello and a belated Happy New Year to you all. It's been a while since I posted on here, hasn't it? Well, I am here today to put that right! Firstly, I want to take a moment to introduce myself to those of you who don't know me, or have just started following me.

me, at the beach on a windy day!

I'm Marta and I enjoy writing crochet patterns. I have been designing for around 4 years and I feel confident that I have reached a level in my pattern writing skills to know that they are going to be easy for others to read and enjoyable for them to follow. All my patterns are tested by at least 3 crocheters and often I send them to be tech edited too. I particularly like using natural fibres in my designs because I enjoy the feel of wool, cotton, linen, bamboo etc on my hands. I do like to knit as well as crochet but crochet will always be my first love!

finished Advent Socks
Of course I follow other designers patterns and want to share a few projects with you which I completed at the end of last year. I challenged myself to knit a pair of socks following Natalie Sheldon's Advent Socks pattern. These were a real joy to knit, I absolutely loved watching each new stripe appear!

Beekeepers' Quilt, a work in progress
close up, aren't they cute?
The Beekeepers Quilt is a long term project that I began in April 2019 with the intention of knitting one hexagon a day for a year! At the moment I have exactly the same number of hexies a s days but I hit pause for 2 months (December - Christmas prep & January - Fun a Day) with the intention of starting again in February. The hexagons are knitted on double pointed needles using scrap 4ply yarn from my stash of leftovers from crocheting socks.

sketchbook work & my chosen yarns
My current WIP is an amigurumi doll that I am crocheting as part of the Fun a Day Dundee project. It's a doll that I am designing myself, crocheting a little everyday and writing up the pattern as I go. I began with some simple sketches and ideas of the direction I wanted to go in - quickly discovering that it should be a boy doll! I am finding real inspiration in following the hashtag #FADD2020 on Instagram and seeing what everyone else is doing every day - we can be a real encouragement to each other in what can sometimes be a long and bleak month.

beginning to look like a little person
So, let's hope this is the first blog post of many! I have certainly scheduled future posts in my diary and have a list of potential post titles. Is there anything specific you would like me to blog on? Share your ideas in the comments below!

Until next time,

Marta xx

Thursday, 21 March 2019

So many design ideas, so little time!


At the moment I have so many design ideas and not enough time to work through them all! I am fanalising the sizing details on a jumper, I have a cowl that's half way made and written up, almost a complete baby/toddler jumper all plotted out in my head and the beginnings of another sock design mulling over. However, I will slow down for a moment and share what I have been up to so far this year with you all. 

slow down and draw a daffodil!

I was pleased to release my Daffodil Shawl just in time for the daffoldils popping up! This is a pattern that I designed in Spring 2018 but then struggled with the chart and abondoned realising I had missed the daffodil season. This January I picked it up again, ironed out the chart issues, did the photo shoot and added the finalised pattern to my Ravelry store. Please share your photos on social media if you follow this pattern, I absolutely love seeing what you get up to!

Daffodil Shawl

In February I began designing my second adult size garment - a polo neck. The pattern is top down, beginning with the super cosy fold down neck before working down the body. I chose Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash Wave for this project because I fell in love with the Unicorn colourway and just had to design something in it! You can see the full colour range here and with the recent addition of even more colourways it's even more exciting!

Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash Wave - Unicorn

The Isla Cosy Polo

I stuggled with a name for this jumper so I opened it up to suggestions as an Instagram competion. I combined two differnt ideas "Isla" (Melissa's favourite scottish name) and "cosy polo" (Jane described it very well!) to make The Isla Cosy Polo which is a name I am really happy with. At the moment I have just finished adding XS, S, L and XL sizes to the range and I am testing out the XS size, just to double check everything is ok. The pattern will then be tested and tech edited before being released in the early autumn.

working on the XS jumper with my dog Jazz for company

My portable crochet project at the moment is a pair of socks (yes, still addicted!). I am following Vicki Brown's Fallen Leaves pattern but adding a twist that my fellow sock addict friend Tamara tried - swapping the half treble stitches (uk) for extended double crochet stitches. Like Tamara, I found that it makes a wonderfully stretchy stitch and I love the texture!

stitch detail

Working on this stitch combination in the socks has given me an idea for crocheting a baby/toddler jumper - it will be nice and stretchy for ease of dressing, allow plenty of movement when it's being worn and be lovely and cosy! I have had a waistband idea for a jumper in my head for ages so I will combine the two and see where it takes me.

The other pattern that is kind of on the back burner right now is a cowl I am designing in Di Gilpin Lalland. It's a 4 colour design and it's all going well I just need to go back and finish it/ write it up. As an artist I find it hard to settle on one project at a time and do tend to flit between them! My plan is to finish the socks (nearly there), pick up the cowl again, complete the XS jumper and THEN start the baby/ toddler jumper whilst firming up another sock design that's in my head. That's the plan anyway ... 

cowl design in progress

Until next time, happy hooking,

Marta xx












Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Working with technical editor Tamara Gooderham

Hello! I have been a bit quiet across all my social media platforms lately and on this blog. I have been working away on various crochet projects (I'll share these in a future post) and I have been finalising my fabulous socks! pattern for release.

finished socks

After the testing stage and after making the necessary changes that were brought up I sent the pattern to Tamara Gooderham who many of you may know as craftyescapism, the well known crocheter, knitter,  podcaster, certified crochet teacher, blogger and vlogger! I have known Tamara for a few years now, having successfully worked with her on the Back to School Sweater blog hop in 2017 and this October on the Sock Along 2018 blog hop and I had heard that she had recently done her technical editing training and was looking for some experience so I got in touch with her.

toe and cuff detail

Tamara was excellent at keeping me informed of when she would be working on my pattern and how long the process would be likely to take. Within the agreed time frame she had emailed me with a draft of the pattern with lots of colour coded notes of changes to consider. There were suggestions for clarification, formating and grammar - all with their own colour of "marker pen" and cute little arrows as you can see in the screenshots below ...

screenshot of technical edit


screenshot of technical edit


Looking through now, I realise there were no grammar errors pointed out in pink and I am pretty chuffed with that! If you go ahead and purchase the pattern from Ravelry you will see that I followed through with most of Tamara's suggestions - they really did make the document flow better and look more professionally finished. This is the third time I have sent a pattern to a technical editor and I think the small fee is invaluable for making the pattern stand out from the crowd. It's a final step beyond sending it out to testers - yes, some of them may point out little formatting issues but generally the tester's job is checking the pattern for errors.

detail of heel

I would thoroughly recommend getting in touch with Tamara at the link above if you have a pattern for tech editing. I am sure, like me,  you will be very pleased with Tamara's attention to detail and excellent communication throughout the process.

My fabulous socks! pattern is now available as a pdf download from Ravelry.com, I hope you like it!

Happy hooking,

Marta xx

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Some knitting for a change ...

Hello! Today I would like to break from my usual topic of crochet to share 2 knitting projects that I am working on. The first is an ongoing scrappy blanket and the second is a coat for my dog, Jazz.

my Mitred Square Blanket

I began the Sock Yarn Blanket AKA Mitred Square Blanket way back in April this year! By my calculations I am now about 85% of the way there as I embark on square 169 of 200! My progress has been fairly regular, working on approximately 1 square a day and now that the end is in sight I tend to fit in 2 squares a day, eager to finish this beauty!

reinforcements from Vicki Brown Designs

Almost all the yarn in this blanket is left over odds and ends from all the socks I have been crocheting (see previous posts if you want to know more about that!). Now and again I have added some mini skeins as seen in the photo above from Vicki Brown Designs and my husband has kindly chosen me a few from one of our local yarn shops, Fluph in Dundee, as seen in the photo below ...

Rusty Ferret mini skeins from Fluph in Dundee

Each square takes me about 25 minutes to complete and once I have 2 or more, the stitches are picked up from these previous squares meaning this is pretty much a no-sew blanket! I am forming a square by creating 4 triangles formed of 45/55 squares and the sides of these large triangles will need to be sewn together. The photo below should give you some idea of the construction technique, with all the mitred squares pointing towards the centre.

work in progress

The other knitted project, which I started on Tuesday this week, is a cosy coat for my working cocker spaniel Jazz. I am following Nikki Trench's pattern and knitting using Jenny Watson merino DK. So far I have completed the ribbed neck and have started increasing for the body.

progress on a coat for Jazz

Since this is a knitting post I would like to include a few photos here of a shawl which my mum knitted for me. She was looking for a knitting challenge and I suggested she try brioche knitting and together we chose this pattern by Stephen West. I am super happy with the finished shawl and worked ina merino/ silk blend it is so soft and warm. My eldest son Niall took the following photos for me, I hope you like them!

back of the Meandering Shawl

Me!

detail of the shawl

Until next time!

Marta xx

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Colour and Colour Patterns in Crocheted Socks

Hello! I am here today as part of the Sock Along 2018 Blog Hop! Have you been following the blog hop? Last week's post by Jo Jo Twinkletoes was all about toe up vs cuff down sock designs and next week you can head to Crafternoon Treats for lots of helpful info on how to customise your own socks. Want to catch up on all the posts? I will put links to all the contributors at the end of this post!


Crocheted socks are an amazing way to be expressive with colour! They are a lovely size and shape for being creative and trying new combinations. What if the colours don't work out the way you imagined? Well, you still have a cosy pair of socks to wear around the house or in your wellies! 

Playing with colour has been a fascination of mine for a long time, probably all my life in fact! Back in June 2017 I wrote a blog post all about choosing colours in response to repeatedly being asked how I come up with my colour combinations. If you are interested in finding out more about colour theory and my personal colour choices head over to that post for an in depth read!

my La Becque Socks by Rohn Strong

The simplest form of colour in socks is a solid colour or almost solid colour like the pair of lilac socks above. The yarn is Sparkle (superwash merino, nylon and stellina blend) by Vicki Brown Designs and it has very subtle variations in hue together with a sparkly strand running through it - very pretty! So, grab your favourite colour (or your recipient's favourite colour!) and you can't go wrong with a single colour!

my Hop Socks by Vicki Brown

The sock yarn above is subtly mottled - it appears solid from a distance but close up has a good deal of variation going on. I liked how this ball worked up in the round, lovely swirls were created. The yarn is West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply, one of my favourite big brand sock yarns.


WIP - my Magdalen Socks by Vicki Brown 

Another fab way to introduce colour is by using speckled yarns! There's a huge range of indie yarn out there created this way and it works up brilliantly in socks. The yarn above is from Vicki Brown Designs and it creates a wonderful dappled effect once it's crocheted up.


my Sweetheart Socks by Vicki Brown

This of course leads to a fourth way of playing with colour when crocheting socks - contrast details! This is perhaps one of the most fun elements of crocheting socks, choosing different coloured yarns for the toes, heels and cuffs. You could have as many as 4 colours going on or keep it simple with just 2 colours.


my Everyone (Needs) Socks by Kat Goldin

Then, there is a whole world of self striping yarns out there! Sock yarn, like the West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply above, comes in a huge range of stripy colours, created with sock knitters and crocheters in mind. No need to change colour, simply stitch away and the stripes appear. WARNING! Working with these yarns can be addictive as the yearn to create "just one more row and see the next colour" is very strong!


my own design, Fabulous Socks, coming soon!

Something I love playing around with when using self striping yarns, such as the Paintbox Yarns Socks above, is the position of the stripes. You can simply start crocheting and leave it to chance or you can be a bit more strategic. One way of doing this is to start with the same point in the stripe sequence for each sock, making them matchy-matchy, which always looks very neat and professional. I often have a little fun and start sock 1 from the inside of the ball and sock 2 from the outside of the ball, creating a pair of socks that are almost the same, but not quite. 

my Fallen Leaves Socks by Vicki Brown

Once or twice I have cut the yarn after the heel turn so that the stripes mirror themselves on the second half of the sock. In the socks above the effect was quite subtle but with a stripy yarn with more pop it could be quite striking. This leads on to the field of colour manipulation, where you carefully calculate the way the colours are positioned, round by round in your socks. I would have to admit that this isn't something I have tried but search "colour pooling" and you should find some excellent examples online. Sometimes this colour pooling happens as a complete fluke, a bit like in my third photo where the pinks swirled together, and these happy accidents put a real smile on your face. Occasionally the colours line up in a way you really dislike and then it's a case of frog them or make them as welly socks!

One final point to consider - if your pattern is plain then stripes work really well, but if your pattern is more of a lacy design it generally looks best in a solid/ semi solid or lightly speckled yarn.

me, proudly wearing my crocheted socks!

I hope this insight has been inspiring for you! Why not leave me a comment on your experience of colour and colour patterns in crocheted socks?

Happy hooking,

Marta xx

#1 Sat 15th Sep - Sock Making Tips - Tamara (http://www.craftyescapism.com/)
#2 Sat 22nd Sep - Yarn Choice - Fay (https://www.knitit-hookit-craftit.com/)
#3 Sat 29th Sep - Knit vs Crochet Socks - Caroline (https://www.mindandmusecrafts.com/)
#4 Sat 29th Sep - Topic to be decided - Deanne (http://www.addydae.com/)
#5 Sat 6 Oct - Toe up vs Cuff down Socks - Jo (http://jojotwinkletoes.blogspot.com/)
#6 Sat 13th Oct - Topic to be decided - Marta (http://mrsdaftspaniel.blogspot.com/)
#7 Sat 20th Oct - Customising socks - Kathryn (http://crafternoontreats.com/)
#8 Sat 27th Oct - Crochet Sock Heels are not Scary - Karen (https://www.karenwhooley.com/)

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Are you joining in the Crochet Sock Along 2018?

Hello! Are you joining in the Crochet Sock Along 2018? If you know me, even a little, you will know that I am addicted to crocheting socks and you have probably guessed that I am joining in the fun! This crochet along (CAL) is being hosted by The Crochet Circle Podcast and Crochet Luna with an accompanying blog hop organised by Crafty escapism. The blog hop kicked off on the 15th of September and you can find that post on top tips for crocheting socks here.  I am really pleased to have been asked to take part in the blog hop and I will share a post on the 13th October focussing on colour and colour patterns.

my latest pair of crocheted socks

Last week I finished this pair of Sweetheart Socks by Vicki Brown working in Paintbox Yarns sock wool and West Yorkshire Spinners Signiature 4ply for the contrasting details. I really enjoyed making these and watching the colours emerge as I went along! You can find the pattern here.

I was crocheting fast to finish these socks and have time for a breather before the CAL starts this Saturday! I quickly decided upon Rohn Strong's Le Becque Socks as the pattern I would be following and ordered a skein of 4ply hand dyed SW merino/ nylon/ stellina blend from Vicki Brown Designs in a beautifully soft, pale purple colour called Mascari. It has subtle variations in tone and shade and SPARKLES! I love it and think it will work up beautifully in this design by Rohn.

my skein from Vicki Brown Designs

Then, I saw an instagram post by Tamara of Crafty escapism with news that Vicki Brown had released a special pattern for the CAL with yarn kits available too! A few clicks later and I had placed an order!

Magdalen Sock Kit

So, it turns out I will be crocheting 2 pairs of socks which should be achievable for me - I will certainly give it my best shot! Are you joining in too? I should add that if you are a knitter, you can join in too, the more the merrier!

Marta xx

Friday, 21 September 2018

Free Crochet Pattern - Jute Plant Pot Cosy

Hello! I am back this week with another FREE pattern release! It's for a jute plant pot cosy, crocheted up using just 2 bobbins of Hoooked Natural Jute. The finished pot cosy has a raw, chunky quality which heightens the lush greenery of the plant placed in it. The pattern is written out below and is also available as a free pdf download in my Ravelry Store.

finished Jute Plant Pot Cosy

You will need:

2 bobbins of Hoooked 100% natural jute in colours of your choice (link above)
12mm wooden or metal crochet hook
stitch marker/ piece of yarn to keep track of rounds

Tension:

5.5 stitches and 6 rows per 10cm using 12mm hook or appropriate hook to achieve gauge.

Finished size:

22cm diameter, 19cm tall

Abbreviations (UK terms):

ss - slip stitch
dc - double crochet
BLO - back loop only

close up

Pattern:

Begin with a magic loop with 8dc worked into it.
Round 1 - 2dc in each dc around (16 stitches)
Round 2 - (2dc in 1st dc, 1dc in next dc) 8 times (24 stitches)
Round 3 - (2dc in 1st dc, 1dc in each of next 2dc) 8 times (32 stitches)
Round 4 - 1dc into the BLO of each dc (this is unseen from the outside of the pot but gives a good crease for the base of the pot cover) (32 stitches)
Rounds 5-10 - 1dc in each dc, changing colours once the first colour runs out.
Finish with a ss into the next st. Cut yarn and sew in ends.

That's it! A very simple pattern which you can easily adapt to suit the size of your plant pot! Simply continue increasing 8 stitches per round until you are a few centimetres short of your required diameter then move on to Round 4. Please note that the specified dimensions used almost 2 bobbins so you may need more yarn if you want to go bigger.  

end of Round 4 & piece of blue contrast yarn 

moving on to the second colour

I hope you enjoy following this pattern! If you are on Instagram, you can find me there - @mrsdaftspaniel - please tag your photos with #mrsdaftspaniel so that I can see them!

Happy hooking,

Marta xx



getting back to it ...

Hello and a belated Happy New Year to you all. It's been a while since I posted on here, hasn't it? Well, I am here today to put tha...