A Spinner is Born

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When I wrote my Yarndale post last week I mentioned the amazing drop spindle I got from Spin City I have been meaning to write a post about my spinning adventures ever since but I just don’t seem to have gotten round to it. But now, it is early (ish) on a Saturday morning, all is quite, I have a cup of tea and I am ready to write!

 

I have wanted to learn to spin for a long, long time but for some reason I didn’t think it was something that I could learn to do. For some reason it seemed too inaccessible to me, I watched videos of people doing it and I had no idea how they magically turned fluffy clouds into useable yarns. It seemed like wizardry to me. Not to mention the fact that I didn’t understand the terminology at all.

 

And then I came across the amazing Spin City stall at Yarndale. My mother-in-law and I were just about to leave as it was nearly closing time when she suggested going down just one more aisle of stalls. As we turned the corner I saw all of these utterly beautiful drop spindles and clouds and clouds of colourful roving. I felt a bit like I had found diagon alley.

 

I met the lovely Nadia from who taught me how to spin. And that was it! I’m pretty sure I fell in love with spinning. I had no idea it would be something I could just pick up and start doing straight away. For some reason I thought I would be spending months making unusable tangles, but after about five minutes I had an arm length piece of yarn! It turned out I could do magic too!

 

Can you see the intense look of concentration on my face?

 

My mother-in-law very kindly bought me an early birthday present and I had a lovely time choosing this utterly beautiful drop spindle…

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… and I also got some amazing snow cloud roving which I forgot to take a picture of pre-yarn but it was super-duper soft and super-duper fluffy. It was, indeed, a lot like a snow cloud. As I walked away with my lovely present Nadia said, “a spinner is born” and I felt like I was being inducted into some sort of secret society. I was pretty excited!

 

The next day, alone in the house, I decided to see if I could do some solo spinning without an expert to hold my hand. I watched this video…

…and I was ready to go!

 

After a few false starts I managed to get the hang of it. After about an hour I was dancing around the kitchen, drop spindle spinning, singing “spin, draft. pinch and jump!”. I have found I prefer spinning standing up because it is what I can only call a full body yarn experience. With knitting and crocheting you pretty much only use your hands and fingers. But with spinning on a drop spindle I found I was using my arms, shoulders, knees and toes (don’t ask!) and for some reason it felt completely magical! The yarn I made is far from perfect. It is, by turns,  lace weight and super chunky and everything in between. But it is also beautiful in the way that all home and hand made things are beautiful. I

 

Within two evenings I had totally spun the roving I bought at Yarndale and I needed to get my hands on some more! I wanted to ply the yarn with a second colour to make it look a bit more special. I had been doing quite a lot of grey and mustard things recently so I decided to go for something different. I bought this malabrigo nube in sabiduria online and then waited eagerly for the postie to bring me my present!

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(You can also see the spun snow cloud in this photo)

 

When it arrived, I ripped open the envelope and reveled in the colours. It is every kind of reddish purple you can imaging and I love how the colours change from almost pinkish to dark plum.

 

But the texture confused me.  With the spin city roving it was light and fluffy and pulled apart whispily and easily. But this felt somehow compacted and it really didn’t want to be pulled apart or drafted. I was a bit worried I was doing something wrong. Then after a little while I realised I needed to pull the fibres apart a little bit first it would become the fluffy cloud I was expecting. Like so…

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Thinning out the fibres this way also seemed to make the colours change, and then spinning the yarn made the colours change again. I’m telling you – magic.

 

I suppose it is just practise but my yarn now seemed to be coming out a bit more evenly. I was a little bit proud of myself.

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And now it was time to ply my yarn. It took me a little while to figure out that I needed to do this to stop it from twisting up on itself but this brilliant blog from yarn geek fibers helped me to work it.

 

So once I got the hang of spinning the spindle the other way, this is what I made…

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…Tada! I know that it is totally imperfect, thick and thin, full of slubs and bits of it will probably fall apart when I try to make something with it – but I just don’t care. I made it and it is beautiful. I can also now completely see why people have so much fun naming their colour ways. I’m going to call this one sugar plum fairy and I think I’ll make a hat with a big sugar plum bobble on the top.

 

I’m super excited about my new spinning adventures and I can’t wait to see what happens next. I’m really excited to learn about different fibres, how they work and which ones are right for me. I have asked for a subscription to the World of Wool fibre club for my birthday so I’m really looking forward to having a kind of introduction to lots of different fibres.

Helpful People

Apart from the blogs and videos I have already mentioned, I also found these people very helpful in beginning to learn to spin…

 

There were some hugely helpful posts of craftsy;

Tips and Trouble Shooting for Drop Spindles

 

This was great for inspiration

Yarn Spinning Ideas

 

And this post was brilliant for helping to explain all the fibre terminology. At first when shopping for fibre on etsy I felt totally confused and overwhelmed. Tops? Roving? Batts? Rolags ? Excuse me, what was that? After reading this I felt a bit more up to speed and I’m looking forward to buying some fibres from some lovely independent business in the near future.

 

And if you’ve stuck with me all this way – thank you! I had fun sharing my yarny adventures with you!

Poppies in the Park

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I knew I wanted to make a fair few as my local park is doing a display to mark 100 years since the end of the first world war. You can read more about it here on their blog.

So I’ve been busy making poppies today! As I was making a few I thought it would be fun to set myself the challenge of making them all look slightly different. I made ten in total (plus one leaf) and I remembered to write down the pattern for poppy number ten.

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I love how the petals have a bit of dimension and I love the texture from the double trebles. If you’d like to make your own, here is the pattern.

Yarn

Small amounts of DK yarn in Black green and whatever colour you would like to make your poppy (I used stylecraft special DK in claret, cypress and black)

 

Hook

4.5 mm and 3.5mm

 

Abbreviations

UK terms used throughout

st(s) stitch(es)

ch chain

ss slip stitch

dc double crochet

tr treble

dtr double treble

p3 picot 3 (chain 3, then ss into first chain)

p5 picot 5 (chain 5, then ss into first chain)

Pattern

 

Flower Centre

Using black yarn and 3.5mm hook, make a magic loop

Round 1: dc 6 times into loop. (6)

Round 2: 2 dc into each stitch (12). ss into 1st st of round. break yarn and fasten off. Set aside to sew on later.

 

Petals

Using your petal colour and 4.5mm hook, make a magic loop.

Round 1: dc 6 into magic loop (6)

Round 2: 2dc into each st (12)

Round 3: 2dc into each st (24)

Round 4 – petal 1: ch 2. tr, dtr into next st. 2dtr into each st for 8 sts. dtr, tr into next st. ch 2 and ss into same st.

Round 4 – petal 2: ss into next st. ch2, tr, dtr into same st. 2dtr into each st until final st. dtr, tr into final st. ch 2 and ss into same st.

Break yarn and fasten off

 

Leaf

Using green yarn and 3.5mm hook, ch 11

Round 1: dc into second ch from hook, dc to end. Pivot the ch so you are working into the bottom of it and dc to end.

Mark the stitches at each side of the leaf. You are going to increase on either side of these markers each round.

Round 2: dc to st before 1st marker, 2dc in next st, dc marked st, 2dc in next st. dc to st before 2nd marker, 2dc in next st, dc marked st, 2dc in next st

Don’t forget to move your markers up a round as you knit those stitches. You’ll need them to tell you where to increase on the next round.

Rounds 3 and 4: Repeat round 2

Round 5: dc 7, p3, dc 3, p3, dc to point of leaf, p5, dc 3, p3, dc 3, p3, dc to end of round.

Break yarn and fasten off, leaving a tail foe sewing the leaf to the flower.

Sew the flower centre to the petals and the leaf behind and there you have it.

 

Wear your crocheted poppy with pride and don’t forget to donate to a poppy charity of your choice during November.

Crafting and Mental Health

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Today is world mental health day and it has been amazing to see so many people on Instagram sharing personal stories, messages of support and raising awareness of mental ill-health. Here is my contribution to ending the stigma…

I have suffered with poor mental health on and off throughout my life. Sometimes it has been caused by what was going on in my life at the time, other times it has seemingly come out of nowhere. I have come to accept that I may have ‘wobbles’ every now and again, they are pretty much a part of who I am. I know that many people won’t share this experience and some people may feel that this is an extremely pessimistic way of looking at things. But to me it feels incredibly liberating. At one point I went through a cycle of feeling better, thinking I didn’t need to worry about my mental health anymore, getting unwell again and then feeling like a huge failure. Accepting the possibility that, whilst I may be well now, I may feel wobbly in the future has helped me to learn how to look after myself. So whilst it may never completely go away, I get better at dealing with it. As mind explain in this video, “mental health is just like physical health. We all have it and we all need to look after it.”

 

 

So how do I look after myself? Well, making sure I get enough sleep (at the normal time), eat breakfast and go outside everyday are pretty important to me. But honestly, probably the most important thing I do to keep myself well is crafting. After the last (pretty difficult) six months I have realised it is so important for me to make time to make things. It helps me to relax, slow down my thoughts and feel connected to other people.

I know this is something that will chime with lots of other crafters and that is just one of the many reasons why I feel proud to be a part of this community.

Happy National Badger Day!

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The 6th of October was national badger day and it was great to see so many wonderful badger pictures all over the internet.

I love badgers! To me they represent kindness and wisdom as well as strength and loyalty. I have designed this sweet little badger patch to celebrate national badger day. You could add your little badger friend onto a blanket, cushion or pencil case. I’m going to turn my mini cette of two into some elbow patches.

I hope you enjoy using this pattern. If you do please consider taking a look at the wildlife trust’s suggestions on how you can be an advocate for badgers in ending the badger cull.

 

Badger Patch Pattern

Yarn

Small amounts of DK yarn in grey, white and black (I used DK cotton but you could use whatever you have in your stash)

Hook

3.5 mm (use a hook size slightly smaller than recommended for your yarn to give you a firm-ish patch)

Tension

Not essential for this project

Abbreviations

UK terms used throughout

st(s) stitch(es)

ch chain

dc double crochet

ht half treble

tr treble

ltr linked treble (if this is a new one on you, I have made a handy photo tutorial to help you)

Notes:

You can change the size of your badger by using a different yarn weight or hook size.

I found it helpful to weave in all ends as I went along so I could see what I was doing more clearly.

Pattern

Nose

Using black yarn ch 4

Round 1: dc in 2nd ch from hook, dc, 3dc in last ch, rotate ch so you are now working into the bottom of ch, dc, 2dc in last ch. Do not turn (8 sts).

Row 2: Switch to grey yarn. Ch1, dc into next st, dc 3. You should have a black oval with a grey row on top a bit like this.

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On the same row switch to white yarn, 2dc into next st. Do not ch, turn.

Row 3: skip 1st st, ss, dc 4, 2dc into next st. Do not ch, turn.

Your badger’s nose should now look a bit like this.

BP 2

Row 4: skip 1st st, ss, ht 4, ss. Do not ch, turn.

Row 5: skip 1st st, ht 4, ss. Ch1, turn.

Row 6: ht 4. Ch, turn.

These 4 sts make up you badger’s muzzle.

Continue in rows of ht for a further 8 rows. Break yarn and fasten off.

You should now have something that looks like this.

BP 3

 

I know it doesn’t look too much like a badger yet – but it is about to get some badger stripes!

Black Stripes

Switch to black yarn and join at the widest point of the badger’s muzzle (use photo below as a guide).

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Row 1: dc 13 along selvedge edge of muzzle, ending just below the top of your badger’s head. Ch 3 (counts as stitch), turn.

Row 2: ltr 3 ht 4, dc 4 ss. Do not chain, turn.

Row 3: skip 1st st, dc 4, ht 4, ltr3. Break yarn and fasten off.

Now we are going to do the same on the other side. Turn your work over so the stripe you have already done is now on the left and join your yarn to make the second black stripe. When you are finished, it should be starting to look a bit more badgerish!

White Stripe

BP 5

Using the photo as a guide, join white yarn onto black stripe just above the beginning of the row

Row 1: dc 12 ending just below the badgers head. Ch 3, turn

Row 2: ltr 5, ht 3, dc 3, dc into black stripe below, ss into white muzzle. Do not chain, turn.

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Row 3: skip 1st st, dc 12 (the first dc will be into the stitch you made into the black stripe on the previous row). Break yarn and fasten off.

Now flip your work and repeat on the other side.

Do they look like a badger yet?

Ears

Next we need some ears. Decide which side of your work you would like to be the right side and turn it so that the RS is facing. Using the photo as a guide, join black yarn between the black and white stripes.

BP 7

Ch3, tr 9 into point where you joined yarn. Switch to white yarn. Join ear to head by ss where ear meets head.

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Ch 1, turn

dc to end of ear, then ss to attach ear to head on other side. Break yarn and fasten off.

Now do exactly the same thing for the other ear. Tada! Your badger is nearly complete!

BP 9

Now is the point where you might want to make any tweaks to how your badger looks. I wasn’t totally happy with how the white stripe on the left was sitting near the badgers nose. I think I slightly misjudged where to make a ss. But never fear! If you have any little things you aren’t happy with then you can do what I did. I threaded some white yarn and just did a small spot of darning between the stripe and the nose. When I finished my badger looked like this.

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Eyes

Now it is time to give your new friend some character. I always think that any little crafted animal really comes to life when you add the eyes – it’s as if they magically transform into something with a life of their own. This is why I usually like to add the eyes last because it makes me feel a bit uncomfortable to stick pins and needles into something that suddenly feels alive.

Depending on what you want to use your patch for, you may want to do for beads, buttons, safety eyes of googly eyes. They are so adorable!

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As I’m planning to use my badgers as elbow patches, I thought sew on eyes might not be the best choice so I went for embroidered eyes. (I’m planning on making a googly eyed badger for a little needle book cover soon though).

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I embroidered a few strands of white and then one of grey on top for the pupil. I think these two look sweet and sleepy. I also wanted each one to have their own character so on the right hand badger, I embroidered some more black yarn to bring the stripe all the way down his face.

I hope you have as much fun making these little badger friends as I did designing them. I am still quite new to pattern writing so if I have made any mistakes or anything is unclear, please contact me at hello@badgerandbramble.com

Happy badger crocheting!

Linked Treble Stitch Photo Tutorial

I love tall crochet stitches. I remember when I first discovered that the only limit to the height of a stitch is the length of your hook. I felt like I suddenly became aware of the mind-bendingly huge possibilities of crochet. It was a pretty happy day for me!

However I quickly discovered that the taller your stitches, the more gaps in the fabric you make. Sometimes this is just what you want; a super quick and easy way to get a lacy effect. But other times you need a more solid fabric. I was delighted to discover that there is actually a way of getting rid of these gaps. It’s called linked stitch and here I will be showing how to crochet treble linked stitch (but it’s easy to adapt for double treble, treble treble, quadruple treble…you get the idea).

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Here is a row of normal treble stitches. Can you see the gaps between them?

 

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Look what happen when I pull the fabric. Now you can really see those gaps!

 

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Here is a row of linked treble stitches (ltr). See, no gaps! This stitch also has a textured stripe through the middle which I’m a huge fan of.

 

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Even when you pull, The fabric is nice and solid. Here is how to make these magical linked stitches. I’ll show you how to do it mid-row first and then how to do it from a chain.

 

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Normally, when you do a treble stitch, you yarn over like this. This is not how you do linked treble.

 

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Take a careful look at your treble stitch. Can you see a bar running across the middle? I have circled it in green in the second image. This is what you use to link the stitches.

 

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Insert your hook into the bar…

 

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…yarn over and pull a loop through the bar.

 

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You should now have two loops on your hook (just as if you have yarned over in the normal treble crochet way). This loop you have picked up through the bar replaces the yarn over in a normal treble crochet.

Now you complete the stitch in the normal way.

 

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Insert hook into next stitch…

 

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…yarn over and pull up a loop…

 

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…yarn over, pull through two loops on hook…

 

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…yarn over, pull through two loops on hook and you are done! Tada! It is a little fiddly to start with but once you have practised it a few times it gets a lot easier.

 

If you want to do a linked stitch from the beginning of a row (in other words, from a chain) this is how you do it;

 

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Chain 3 and turn as you normally would for a treble stitch. The look carefully at your chain. You are going to insert your hook into the back of the second chain from your hook. It looks like a little nub.

 

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Insert your hook into the chain…

 

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…yarn over and pull a loop through the chain…

 

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…insert hook into next stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop. Then complete the treble in the normal way (yarn over, pull through two, yarn over, pull through two).

And that’s all there is to it!

If you are a bit like me and need to actually see something in action to fully understand how it works, there is a little video on my instagram feed to help you out.

Wishing you all happy stitching and yarn a-plenty!

Nicola x

 

 

Yarndale Adventures

I had such a magical time at Yarndale. It was the first time I have been and I can see why it is such a special occasion for so many people in the yarn community. It felt like so much more than a yarn show – it felt like a real celebration of community and creativity. I came away feeling inspired and excited (even more excited than usual) about all things yarny. I have really enjoyed looking back through all the photos I took so I wanted to  share a few with you.

John Arbon

The first thing that caught my eye was this incredible wall of colour from John Arbon textiles. I just couldn’t resist these beautiful autumn colours and I spent ages marveling at the tonal shades. I’ve tried to capture it in the picture below but it really doesn’t do the yarn justice.

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I’m thinking I’ll make something pretty simple with this, perhaps a ripple shawl. I really just want to enjoy the amazing colours. They make me feel like I am crunching through a huge pile of autumn leaves.

Sheep Collage

One of my favourite things about the whole day was all the wonderful sheep! I even got to have a little cuddle one of these little friendies. I spent quit a lot of the next day fantasising about moving to a smallholding, keeping some sheep and doing nothing but making my own yarn from scratch. Not sure how Mr Badger would feel about this though. For now I think I’ll have to content myself with making some pompom sheep garlands like these. Aren’t they adorable!

sheep garland

 

I was also lucky enough to meet the lovely Gill from Bapple and JoJo.

quilling

She makes the most amazing things using a technique called quillie rug making. I have never seen or heard of this before but it is a lot like quilling but with felt instead of paper. I’m a huge fan of quilling but it had never occurred to me that it was possible to quill with anything other than paper. When I walked away my mind was pinging with ideas. I really want to have a go at this and I’d like to start by making a set of swirly whirly coasters so I’ve now got felt and curved upholstery needles on my Christmas list. It never ceases to amaze me how many different textile crafts there are and it makes me feels so happy that there are people like Gill keeping lesser known crafts alive.

 

The other thing I was amazed by was how incredible all the felted creations were. I am a knitter and a crocheter but I have never tried needle felting before. I was utterly inspired by Jenny Barnett’s  felt sculptures.

badger and mole

Look at that badger! Look at that mole! Mr Badger and I collect badger and mole paraphernalia and, while there are plenty of badgers around, you don’t see too many moles. Seeing these two little friends together made me jump up and down with happiness. I cannot wait to get my hands on Jenny’s book and have a go for myself (unfortunately I had long since gone over my Yarndale budget by this point, otherwise I would have bought it there and then).

So here is my Yarndale haul.

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Some beautiful paper yarn which I can’t wait to have a play with. I’m thinking of making come crochet flowers for cards.

John Arbon Harvest Hues yarn.

Two beautiful yarn cakes and a mini skein from Wool is the Answer. I had such a fun time putting these colours together.

A beautiful drop spindle and merino roving from Spin City (more on that next time).

I also got a cute felt flower making kit which didn’t make it into the photo (whoops).

Thank you so much to everyone who worked so hard to make Yarndale2018 happen. I had a magical and inspirational day and I feel lucky to feel part of such a wonderful, creative crafty community. I already can’t wait for next year! Now I’m off to make some pompoms to decorate my Yarndale bag.