Friday, 15 September 2017

Using every scrap!

This week I noticed a common theme with all my current crochet WIPs - they are all scrap busting projects! I love this because apart from the economical use of yarn it is creative in using up every scrap from its source (whether plant, animal or man-made) to spinning then dying and finally retail.

The longest standing of these projects is my Virus Blanket. It is crocheted in 4ply and some of the scraps in this I have had for ages! The pattern is by Joanna Martinez and you can find it on Ravelry here.


Next up is this chunkier aran weight blanket. I hadven't made an aran weight blanket before, I always us double knitting thickness and this is working up so much faster, I love it! The pattern is Granny Shell Blanket and it's a twist on the traditional granny square, written by Remade By Sam. I have written my own final rounds to join the squares together, using the join-as-you-go method. Because of the weight I think I will keep this as more of a lap blanket, much smaller than usual. The colours are particularly clashy in this one, I'm not aiming for my usual colour harmony.


Something much smaller ... crocheted socks! This is only the second pair of crocheted socks I have ever made. The first were my own design (which I didn't write down, they never got past the experimental stage!) and now these by Joanne Scrace of The Crochet Project - you can find the pattern in the book, Crochet Yeah! or on Ravelry here.



My forurth WIP is one I have blogged about twice now, my 100 Days Project blanket. Progress is still going strong on this one - I have just passed the 50 square milestone! Below is a photo to show you some of the many, many coulours involved in this blanket. 


Finally, not a stash busting project but an exciting pattern release announcement! My Lavender Cardigan is at the final photo editing stage and is very, very nearly for release! I have been working on this project since the spring and I can not wait to share it with you! It will be available next week to download from Ravelry and Etsy.


Happy hooking,

Marta xx


Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Yarn delivery from Eden Cottage Yarns

Earlier today I was really excited to come home from my grocery shop and find my order from Eden Cottage Yarns had arrived! The shopping was all flung to one side as I tore open the outer packaging straight away. Inside the wool had been carefully wrapped up in brown paper bags with the pretty Eden Cottage Yarns logo - all snug and perfect!


On opening further, I immediately fell in love with the baby alpaca wool - it is incredibly soft and delicate. I ordered the yarn because I plan to use it for the #BackToSchoolSweaterCal starting this Saturday. This CAL (short for crochet-along) has been organised by Tamara (craftyescapism.com) and Helen (makingatnumber14.blogspot.co.uk) and is a great way to encourage everyone to crochet a sweater (jumper) or cardigan between now and Christmas. A blog hop has been organised to accompany the CAL and it will take you on a journey via the participants blogs, finding out about all sorts of differnt aspects of garment making, starting with Tamara on Saturday (see link above). Helen approached me back in early summer, asking if I would like to be involved with this project and of course I was super keen to hop on board!! I will be writing 2 blog posts: the first in October will be all about designing a garment and my second will be in November with an update on my personal crocheted sweater progress.


For the CAL, I decided that I wanted to create a warm, winter version of my own design - Summer Cardigan. As well as changing the yarn from summery cotton to cosy alpaca I will be altering the fit to make it a more close fitting, snug cardigan. I have chosen Eden Cottage Yarns Whitfell DK which is a beautifully soft baby alpaca yarn and I can't wait to get started! The colours will be totally different too - the main colour will be dark brown "Ebony" and the colourful yoke will be in "Laburnum", "Fuchsia" and "Natural". My first step will be to work up a swatch and see how the yarn behaves in comparison with my original cotton design. From this point I will calculate my guage and sizing and the rest should fall into place ...

Anyone else joining in this CAL? Leave a comment below if you are!

Happy hooking,

Marta xx

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The 100 Day Project: 100 granny squares in 100 days

Back in July I felt the urge to begin a new granny square blanket but at the same time I didn't feel like starting a new one that would end up laying around in the corner of the room for the next 6 months (or longer!) while I occassionally added the odd square to the pile. I remebered seeing the hashtag #the100dayproject on Instagram and decided to challenge myself to make 100 granny squares in 100 days!


The main inspiration for this blanket came from @jen_olivarez who challenged herself to create an embroidered self portrait in 100 days. The stitches in her finished portrait are so tiny and intricate - I absolutely loved watching it grow! If you scroll down her Instagram gallery you will find the images - they are definitely worth a look!


All my squares are following the same pattern: Jan Eaton's Edwardian Fancy from her book 200 Crochet Blocks. This book is an amazing source of granny square inspiration for me, I would recommend it to anyone that wants to move on from basic granny squares. The yarn is odds and ends from my leftover balls of DK wool. There's a mix of alpaca, merino, BFL and vintage wool - as long as it is pure wool, it's in! 


Today is Day 24 and I have 24 squares! Hooray! Every day I am posting the finished square to my Instagram account and I love how the squares are looking dotted around my other pictures. Last week was a very hectic week for me and although I managed to crochet all the squares I was too busy to stop and take photos so I ended up a few days off, but I am all caught up now and back on track.


Yesterday I made a start on some joining and I am really happy with how the squares are sitting together. I am using a double crochet join on the reverse side, working through the back loops only. Over the years I have settled on this as my preferred joining method because it is easy to do and doesn't cut off as much of the final round from the squares as some other methods.


Today is Granny Square Day - an annual event to celebrate the iconic granny square! The idea is for everyone to post a close up image of a granny square and add the hashtag #grannysqaureday2017. When viewed all together the hashtag gallery should look like one big virtual crocheted blanket!

Happy Granny Square Day!

Marta xx


Wednesday, 26 July 2017

What have I been up to in July?

Hello! I know I have been a bit quiet on the blogging front lately so thought I would share a little bit of what I have been up to this month. It's the school summer holidays here in Scotland and my 3 pre-teen/ teenage boys have a whole 6 weeks and 2 days off to enjoy themselves! I embrace this time together without having to rush around to school, clubs and appointments - we can slow down and appreciate life, making up our agenda as we go along.

I shared a blog post about our mini break in Glasgow in the first week of July which you can read about here if you missed it, but I didn't post this photo I took in the Botanical Gardens. The light was just perfect that day and I loved how the spiral staircase up to the top of one of the hothouses contrasted with the lush leaves. I may return to this image as inspiration for crochet design at some point!


Back home I began designing almost at once, working with the hand dyed Queen of Purls Citadel DK that I had bought on my travels. I will share some more about this later!


My eldest boy headed off with the Army Cadets to the outskirts of Liverpool for the middle 2 weeks of the holidays. He returns home on Friday and we look forward to hearing his news ...


I started work on a Kat Goldin pattern too - Lake's Edge hat - for my youngest boy. This was with aran weight wool so it worked up really fast!


I finished the Northmoor Lock shawl by Joanne Scrace. This is possibly my favourite 1 skein project, I have made 3 now! This shawl just needs a good blocking and then it will be ready for gifting.


Once a week my dad, the boys, our dogs and I pile into his car and head for the hills for the day! We go for a short, 8 - 10 mile walk then return home via an icecream shop. I am really enjoying getting out in the fresh air and exploring our beautiful countryside.


I had wanted to start a Virus Shawl by Julia Marquardt for a long time, because it pops up on Instagram so often and is such an eye catching design!! I was given some bamboo/ wool/ polyamide yarn by a friend and decided to use it for this shawl. The pattern worked up beautifully and is now finished, pending final photos and blocking.



Last week I took my boys to stay with my sister in Dunfermline, Fife for a few days. During this time we took a day trip to Edinburgh which we all thoroughly enjoyed. We went shopping, visited the Museum of Scotland, covered loads of charity shops, vintage shops and went to one of my favoutite shops, Greyfriars Art Shop. Below is a photo taken inside the museum - I love the interior architecture of this building and below that my youngest boy in Greyfriars - we both chose a selection of Winsor and Newton pens.



The final thing I have to share with you is something I started just the other day. I decided to hop on board the 100 Day Project - like it sounds, a project completed over the course of 100 days. For my challenge I have chosen to make 1 granny square a day, enough for a large blanket. I will be posting daily photos of my squares over on Instagram and will do some updates on the blog too. They will all follow the same pattern - Edwardian Fancy by Jan Eaton.


Phew, it's been a busy month and there are still a few days to go! Until next time,

Marta xx














Thursday, 13 July 2017

A visit to Queen of Purls wool shop, Glasgow

Last week I took a mini break to Glasgow with my husband. Our three boys were on holiday in Gibraltar with their local Scout Group so we took ourselves off to Scotland's largest city to explore for a few days! I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have been to Glasgow (I was born in Edinburgh hence it's the city I tend to gravitate towards if I am in need of a city trip) so we decided to stay right in the centre and use it as a base for delving into our surroundings.

Day 1, top of my list, was a visit to The Queen of Purls wool shop! Trying not to look too much like tourists, we walked along using Google maps on our phone to navigate our way to the shop. We found it easily enough, recognising the minty colour of the exterior paint straight away!


This impressive piece of artwork was the first thing I saw as we came through the door! Since posting the photo on Instagram, I have found out it's called a God's Eye - this is a very complex version of the ones I remember making with lolly sticks at school.


Moving round, I found one side of the shop was devoted to wool in all the colours of the rainbow! There was a large selection of Jamieson's of Shetland wool, which I have used for many projects including a Croft Hoose Hat I made (pattern by Ella Gordon) and a Paul the Toadstool (pattern by Lalylala). I really like this wool because I find that as I work each stitch I feel like I am engaging with the traditional heritage of wool in Scotland. Not sure if that strikes a chord with anyone else - maybe just me? Let me know in the comments.

Moving on a little I was blown a away by the gorgeous, rich colours of The Queen of Purls hand dyed wool! The colours were bold but in tune with nature - think of all the vibrant autumnal colours you can see in the park. The yarns are available in skeins and have either a Merino or Blue Faced Leicester base. The colours are not all over solid but have just the right amount of subtle variation to keep them exciting and alive.


As well as the pure wools there was a small selection of yarn by well known brands such as Wendy, Opal and West Yorkshire Spinners - plenty for sock knitters in particular to choose from!

There was also a wall featuring many different colours and varieties of wool tops for spinning and felting. My phone battery was almost dead, so I didn't get a photo of this wall, sorry! I did take a snap of my hubby, loom knitting a hat while he waited for me to look around ...


So, what did I buy? I chose 2 of my favourite Queen of Purls Citadel DK colours - Flowers of Sulphur and Space Junk (wonderful names too!). I have already begun a crochet scarf design based on this pair of colours, a fabulous "grellow" combination. The photo below shows my work in progress swirled into a snail shape to keep it slightly mysterious for now.


Until next time, 

Marta xx





Thursday, 29 June 2017

Pattern Release ... in Inside Crochet magazine!

Hello! I am super duper excited about this crochet pattern release because it's in the latest issue of Inside Crochet magazine - my first ever magazine release!


I was hopping around with delight when my copy of the magazine landed on my doorstep! I ripped open the plastic cover and frantically flicked through to find my pattern! I was so happy with the photo shoot images and layout - they really show off the laid back, summery feel my cardigan encapsulates. The magazine is available now in the shops and online here.

The pattern is called Summer Cardigan and it's designed to be crocheted in DK thickness, cotton yarn. I actually designed and made it last summer using Three Bears Yarn affection DK, 100% cotton - but sadly this yarn is discontinued. According to yarnsub.com, Stylecraft Classique cotton DK is a good match - the gauge and fibre content match exactly but the yarn structure is slightly different. The pattern has been written for adult sizes small through to extra large and if you are a more advanced crocheter it will be easy to make changes to the size here and there, to suit for example a fuller bust (just be aware that this may change your yarn quantities!).

I would like to share with you a series of photos which show my design evolving because although I had a rough sketch of how I wanted it to look I made a lot of decisions along the way! These photos will also be helpful if you are following the pattern yourself because you can see how the individual stages look ...












As you know, my favourite social media hangout is instagram, so if you are on instagram too and decide to follow my pattern, please tag your photos with #mrsdaftspaniel for the chance to be featured! The pattern link has also been added to the Ravelry database, so you can link your projects in on there too and I will be able to see them! 

Happy hooking,

Marta xx 












Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Pattern Release: Calunna Hills Cowl

Hello! It's been a while since I released a pattern, despite having several at the almost-ready-to-release stage, so I am really happy to be able to share this one with you now! It's the Calunna Hills Cowl, designed in Cascade 220 Heathers 100% peruvian highland wool.


It's rated BEGINNER level and only requires double crochet, half treble and treble stitches (all UK terms), yet at the same time it has enough variety in it to keep a more confident crocheter interested. The pattern calls for Cascade 220 Heathers - a yarn I really love and wrote a blog post all about (which you can find out more about here).


All my patterns are tested before being released and I was fortunate to have 3 lovely testers for this pattern! The close up above is by Laura - @goslingandplumb on Instagram. Laura used Rowan Pure Wool aran in these wonderful hilly colours which I love!


The selfie above was taken by one of my other testers, Marisa - @mariwish on Instagram - and I was really happy to see a photo of the cowl in action! Marisa used Drops Alaska in this gorgeous "grellow" combination. I have a third online friend who is testing out the pattern in US terms for me, the final step in the pattern writing process for me. I will add the US terms as soon as they are available.

The pattern is available as a pdf download from Ravelry or Etsy.

Happy hooking,

Marta xx