Friday 12 October 2018

Stylecraft Blog Tour 18 - Summer Pudding Blanket

Hi everyone! I cannot believe it's been twelve months since we did this, it's been a crazy year for me, and I bet it has for you too. Life just keeps happening!

I thought this time that I would talk a little about the yarn that I'm using before we get to the fun stuff like a FREE pattern and a giveaway competition.

So, I bet some of you are asking is it Bambino or Bellissima? Well, the answer is, YES. Giggle. Yes, it's both. Stylecraft have these two gorgeous new ranges and they complement each other so well. They're both 100% premium acrylic with 268m per ball.

Well, that looks good on paper right? But how does it translate as something to work with?

Sheer heaven on your hands.

The yarn has a good tensile strength (which means it doesn't snap easily if you're a tight hooker like me lol), but it is soft and silky. It glides easily along a hook but isn't slippery. The colours are even more magnificent in person, no camera can do them justice. It is loosely spun which gives it a fantastic drape. The only down side of this yarn is that if you are working and frogging (like in the design process lol), the yarn can end up losing it's twist and becoming separated, so the hook can slip between the strands rather than gathering the whole thing as you work. That's easily fixed, don't frog a lot! LOL. I've really enjoyed working with it, the colours are divine and I hope that they bring out more of them.

The packs this year are stunning. I know that Stylecraft have their own names for them, but in my head they are Elsa and Anna from Frozen. If you have children, you'll know what I mean. So, I'm working with Elsa, aka the Summer Pudding Pack. I also have the Autumn Leaves Pack and I have another design coming out on the 24th free here on my blog. It's in conjunction with the release of this month's Crochet Now magazine where I have a little article talking about Tunisian Crochet.

So, what am I doing for you this year as part of the blog tour? Well, I'm starting a mini-cal. I've got parts one and two here for you today, and next week I'll post again and add a wee bit more. In the picture below you can see my concept design and the early stages of working it all out. I've had a lot of fun doing this. I don't normally design on paper like this with the colour. Usually I just have an idea, an image, and I wing it as I go. This time, I'm working to make the shapes that I've drawn, and it's been an interesting challenge. I kept getting ideas to change things, but then I would go back to the original drawing and I would see the entire concept and I would realise that actually, the changes wouldn't go so well. I know that you are keen for it all, so without further ado, here it all is... I hope that you enjoy working it as much as I did designing it. xoxo

Planning out the design

Disclaimer: I have been provided with yarn and asked to write an honest review about it. Although I am affiliated with Stylecraft, I am under no obligation to provide specified content. The above blog is my own view and does not represent Stylecraft, Spectrum Yarns or any of their subsidiaries.


Summer Pudding Blanket

By Angela Armstrong

Pattern is in US terms

Darning needle
4mm hook
Stylecraft Summer Pudding Pack = 1 ball each of Heather, Sage, Crushed Plum,
Clotted Cream and Double Denim

This blanket is made up of several stages, so the pattern will be divided into those parts.
The central square will be free on my blog as part of the Stylecraft Yarns #Blogtour18.
The rest of the blanket will be available later on.

Part 1

Central circles - Make 1 to start with, then see joining instructions below. I used Clotted Cream for my first (central) circle and Heather for the other eight. Look at the joining diagram and read through this section, it should all make sense then.

Circle 1:
  1. Create a magic circle, ch3 (counts as DC). DC11. [12DC]
  2. 2DC in each stitch. [24DC]
Cut and tie off yarn.

Circle 2:
  1. Create a magic circle, ch3 (counts as DC). DC11. [12DC]
  2. Ch3, 2DC in next, 2DC in next. DC in next, JAYG into the first circle, DC into the same stitch on circle 2. 2DC in each stitch around, DC into first st again. [24DC]
Cut and tie off yarn.

Circles 3-5:
  1. Create a magic circle, ch3 (counts as DC). DC11 [12DC]
  2. Ch3, 2DC in next, 2 DC in next. DC in next. JAYG into the 6th st in the first circle that is after the last joining circle. DC into the same st of the working circle again. 2DC in each stitch around. DC into the first st again. [24DC]
Cut and tie off yarn.

Circles 6-9:
  1. Create a magic circle, ch3 (counts as DC. DC11. [12DC]
  2. Ch3, 2DC in next, 2 DC in next. DC in next, JAYG into the 6th st (after a join)  of any circle but the central one. DC into the same st of the working circle again. 2DC in the next, 2DC in next. DC in next, JAYG into the 6th st (before a join) of the closest outer circle. DC into the same st of the working circle again. 2DC into each stitch around. DC into the first st again. [24DC]
Cut and tie off yarn.

Joining Order
These will be joined in a JAYG method. I found doing them in the following order was easier, but you can work on whatever order you wish.

Part 2

  1. Working into circle 2: Standing Sc into the 6th st after the join to circle 6. SC into the next st. Ch6, SC into the 5th, 6th and 7th sts of circle 9 after where it joins to circle 2. (From now on, the 5th, 6th and 7th stitches will be referred to as the top 3 stitches). Ch6, turn work 90o. Sk3, SC into the next 3. Ch6, SC into the top 3 stitches of circle 5. Ch 6, SC into the top 3 sts of circle 8. Turn work 90o. Ch6, sk3, SC into the next 3 sts. Ch6, SC into the top three st of circle 4. Ch6, SC into the top 3 sts of circle 7. Turn work 90o. Ch6 sk 3, SC into the next 3 sts of circle 7. Ch6, SC into the top 3 sts of circle 3, ch 6, SC into the top 3 sts of circle 6. Turn work 90o. Ch6, sk3, SC into the next 3 sts of circle 6, ch 6, SC into the st before the st at the start of the row. Sl st into first st. DO NOT CUT YARN.

  1. This row is started with a decrease stitch. Ch2 (counts as the first part of a DC), work the first part of a DC in the next st. YO, pull through 2 loops (that whole thing counts as a 2DC together). Into the next ch sp, work 6DC, DC in each SC. *Into the corner space work [4DC, ch2, 4DC]. DC in the next 3 st. Into the ch sp work 6DC. DC in the next, 2DC together in the next. 6DC into the next ch sp. DC into the next 3 sts.** Work from * to ** twice more. Into the corner space work [4DC, ch2, 4DC]. DC in the next 3 st. Into the ch sp work 6DC. DC in the next. Cut and tie the yarn. [27DC and 1 x 2DC tog] per side


  1. Starting in any stitch, work a DC in each stitch across. Into the corner spaces work [2DC, ch2, 2DC]. [32DC] per side


  1. Starting in the 9th st on any side, work a standing SC. Over the next 7 sts, work the following [HDC, DC, TR, DTR, TR, DC, HDC]. Over the next 8sts, work the following [SC, HDC, DC, TR, DTR, TR, DC, HDC] - twice. *Into the corner, work [SC, ch2, SC]. [SC, HDC, DC, TR, DTR, TR, DC, HDC] x 4 **. Work from * to ** twice more. [SC, HDC, DC, TR, DTR, TR, DC, HDC], join with sl st. DO NOT CUT YARN.
[34sts per side]
  1. Sl st across one st. Ch1. HDC into the next st across (DC from round 4), HDC into the next st. In the next work [DC, ch1, DC]. HDC into the next 2. SC 3tog (small cluster) over the next 3 sts. *{HDC in next 2 sts, [DC, ch1, DC] in next. HDC in the next 2, SC3tog over the next 3} twice until you get to the last cluster, SC2tog instead of the usual 3. Ch2, into the corner work [2TR, ch2, 2TR], ch2. SKIP 1. SC2 tog over the next 2 sts. {HDC in next 2 sts, [DC, ch1, DC] in next. HDC in the next 2, SC3tog over the next 3.} twice. ** Repeat from * to ** twice more.  {HDC in next 2 sts, [DC, ch1, DC] in next. HDC in the next 2, SC3tog over the next 3} twice until you get to the last cluster, SC2tog instead of the usual 3. Ch2, into the corner work [2TR, ch2, 2TR], ch2. SKIP 1. SC2 tog over the next 2 sts. HDC in next 2 sts, [DC, ch1, DC] in next. HDC in the next 2, SC3tog over the next 3. Join with sl st. Cut and tie yarn.
[33 sts per side]

  1. Standing *SC into the first ch sp (peak) of any side. [Ch8, sc into the next peak]. Three times. Ch5, SC into the next 2tr. Into the corner work [2sc, ch2, 2sc]. SC into the next 2 tr. Ch5**. Repeat from * three times. Sl st into the first st. DO NOT CUT AND TIE YARN. [12SC, 3x ch8, 2x ch5]

  1. Ch3, (counts as a DC). *[Into the next ch sp work 8DC. DC into the sc] x 3. 5DC into the next ch sp. DC into next 4sts. Into the corner work [2DC, ch2, 2DC]. DC into the next 4 sts. 5DC into the next ch sp, DC into the next st.** Work from * to ** three more times, leaving off the final DC. Cut and tie yarn. [50DC per side]


  1. Starting in any stitch with a standing DC, DC in each stitch across. Into the corner space, work [2DC, ch2, 2DC]. Repeat this process for the other three sides.
[54DC per side]

Stay tuned next week for the next part, and don't forget to scroll to the bottom to enter the giveaway for the pack to make this!

Saturday 16 December 2017

Book Review: Round and Round the Crochet Hook

I first "met" Emily via Instagram messaging. LOL. I had seen her gorgeous makes and I just had to write to her and tell her how wonderful I thought they were. We discovered that we both lived in Australia (thousands of kilometers apart) and that we had A LOT in common.

Round and Round the Crochet Hook

When I found out that she was doing a book, I was thrilled for her. I mean, who wouldn't be, right? She showed me sneak peeks, I helped her solve a small problem (she's so nice, she named the pattern after a version of my maiden name!), and I introduced her to some pretty fabulous testers as well as my (as of now, not-so) secret Facebook Group. (Sorry, it's closed to new members). I even did some testing for her.

Getting ready to review the book

Emily is one of those talented people who just "makes stuff" and has no idea of how truly talented she is because it comes so naturally to her. I'm nuts about mandalas (or anything to do with circles really, lol), and Emily's designs well and truly fulfil my obsession.

So many circles!! Squee!

When Emily asked me if I would be interested in reviewing her book, there was no hesitation in my reply. I knew exactly how thoroughly these things had been tested, and I knew exactly how gorgeous her designs were. So, here we are!

Looping Around Garland

Round and Round the Crochet Hook (oh, the fun her testers group had helping her pick a name!!) is a book full of beautiful designs that will look truly fabulous in your home, and would make amazing gifts for others.

Sweet Sunshine Doily

These patterns are well written with fantastic photos showing you exactly what you need to do where. The book features cotton items, which means that the stitch definition is absolutely clear too (unlike my acrylic version of the Sweet Sunshine Doily). This is a book that I will be making things from (am making things from), for a very long time!

String of Blossoms WIP
If you would like to purchase your own copy of this fabulous book, you can buy it here (please note, I am not affiliated with any of these places):


Book Depository


Angus and Robertson

QBD Books

and all good book retailers.

Friday 3 November 2017

Repairing crochet in an outside row and a "Russian Join"

Scissor Attack!

Recently I was working on my blanket for the Stylecraft #Blogtour17. Here's a finished shot:

One morning as I sat down to join a few more motifs I found that my 4yo son had become adventurous with my scissors. Look what he did to our lovely tablecloth that we bought on holiday 17 years ago!! (I'm going to write a tutorial on how I repaired this in the future - because I've yet to repair it).

A beautiful hand-made filet crochet bedspread we bought in 2000 while on holiday in Bali. We use it for a tablecloth on our 8 seater dining table.

Once I got over that horror, however, I found that he had also attacked my blanket! Now he was living on borrowed time! First, I had to repair it and finish the blanket because I had a deadline.

Imagine the horror!

It was not one, but two diamond motifs that he had cut, in an identical manner, and I took a lot of photographs as I repaired them in order to share my experience with you all.

So, as much as I wanted to kill him at the time, I managed to turn it into something to be grateful for. There had better not be a next time though. Grrrrr.

I noticed the cut as I was adding motifs to the next row!

There are many kinds of crochet repairs that can be attempted, and I wrote an article on this back in 2014, with links to some great tutorials on how to do many of these. You can find the article here: Repairing Crochet Items

Yet this time, when I sat down to reread these tutorials, I found that they didn't quite meet my needs. They were more concerned with repairing issues in the center of blankets and cloths, not a cut to the outside of a motif. Even though there wasn't anything specific, I had refreshed my memory enough that I had a fair idea of what to do, so I attempted my first ever crochet repair, and now I get to share that "joy" with you. I hope that you find this helpful (although I hope more that you never need it, lol).

Repairing an outer edge in crochet

Materials needed: darning needle or tapestry needle, scissors, crochet hook.

Unlike other repair types, repairing on the outer edge means that you don't have to stabilise the fabric above the row that you are working on, because there are no rows above! So, you can really get into it straight away.

The first step is to match the yarn as close as you possibly can. For me, because it was something I was still working on, this was not an issue.

The same for the next step which is to know what pattern you are working with. As this was a current design project, I know what stitches have been affected.

So, look closely at your damage, see where the cuts or holes have been made and CAREFULLY remove any loose fibres. PLEASE NOTE, IF THERE IS MORE THAN ONE ROW AFFECTED, YOU MAY NEED TO STABILISE YARN FURTHER DOWN. That isn't covered in this particular tutorial. Watch this space for a tutorial on repairing a central piece of crochet.

Look closely at the damage to see how deep it is

Now you need to make it worse - yes worse, but only temporarily. The loose thread on the left is stable, but the thread on the right, if pulled, can frog your work. You're going to need to frog a little bit in order to get enough yarn to work with - ie to attach the repairing yarn.

Frogged to gain length

There are many ways to join yarn, my preferred method is known as a "Russian Join". Thread the yarn from the frogged section onto a darning or tapestry needle. Now, most tutorials say to run the darning needle up through the center of itself, but I find that it can work loose, so I basically sew a running stitch if you like, back and forth through the yarn. Make sure that you leave enough space at the "bend" to form a loop or an eye. Make sure that this frogged section is still attached to your poject. See below.


Remove the tapestry needle from your loop, and thread it with the yarn you will use to repair the crochet. Before you create another loop, thread the darning needle and the current working thread, through the loop you created using the frogged yarn (still attached to your project).

Repeat the process of doing a running stitch back up the length of the new strand of yarn, creating another loop that is woven through the first loop. You will find that once you remove the darning needle and tug on both pieces, they are firmly attached!

Now you have extended the yarn, work the missing stitches up unto the end of your work. If you need to, carefully frog a stitch or two on the left hand side of your work (this is more tricky than it sounds as it is actually well anchored) and tie a small knot.

Replace any stitches that you frogged on the left with the yarn from the right.

I like to treat the ends like they are from a standing stitch start. So first I tie off the yarn and cut any excess leaving a reasonable tail. Then I thread the end created on the LEFT, and work it across to the right by coming up through the middle of the < on the top of the stitch.

I then wind it around the next < and then take it down the back of the work and hide it as per usual.

Taking the right hand end, I run it through the loop sticking out towards the right from the left hand side.

As it comes through from the front to the back, I take the needle back toward the right hand side and up through the middle of the < at the top of the last stitch, from the back. I then wind it around the back loop of the next < on the right and then take it down the back of the work to hide the ends. These steps ensure that the leading edge of the work keeps the <<<<<<<<< look, and provides the third strand underneath.

See, when you think about it,  you've probably done some similar things yourself without them being actual repair work. You have joined more yarn before, you have tidied up your ends... this is exactly the same, except you are replacing stitches, rather than creating new ones.

Now, I know that the Russian Join creates a thicker yarn, and that may not be a viable option for you, please use whatever joining method you prefer. Here is the repair completed:

The cuts were made to the right of where I've placed the tip of the hook. Here is the motif finally joined with the others:

So, if your washing machine takes a bite, or your furry loved one, or a baby, or insects or time, or whatever causes your teeth to gnash and your heart to weep, remember, all is not lost. YOU CAN repair it.

Go on, Get Knotted.

Friday 27 October 2017

Stylecraft Blog Tour '17

The Security Blanket

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

Oh, hang on, right sentiment, wrong event. Let me start again.

On the twelfth day of the Stylecraft Yarns #blogtour17 you get me, or rather, you get my input.

So, if you are new to my blog, hello and welcome! I'm Angela, I have three beautiful children under 10, and a husband of 20 years who is to die for! I know I say that I'm slightly obsessed with yarn, but the truth is I'm decidedly obsessed with yarn, lol. I'm thrilled to bits to be participating in the blog tour this year, I had not long signed on as a blog star last year and had just given birth to our baby girl, Sophia, so understandably I couldn't participate, so this is actually my first blog tour where I've been able to be a part of the process. Did you see Catherine's blog post yesterday? If not, you can find it here: Catherine's Crochet Corner Stylecraft Blogtour 17

Remember to read to the bottom for details on how to win today's yarn pack, and to find out where the tour heads off to, tomorrow.

At this stage in the tour, I don't think I need to introduce the yarn in too much detail. Stylecraft Batik has been around for a while, but the Batik Elements are a new range of variegated yarns in the line and I love them all. I have a reasonable collection of Batik in my stash, and I've loved sitting and playing with them and seeing how all these marvellous colours go together. I think I might need to blog in future about some of the combinations that I have come up with, but for today, I'm working with the Lagoon Pack.

The Lagoon Pack consists of 4 balls of the new Batik Elements in Krypton, plus one ball each of the following colours: Silver, Indigo, Teal, Sage, Lupin and Storm. 10 dreamy balls of colour that just sing to me and my love of cool shades.

So, I have ten balls of gorgeous yarn, what to make?? If you've followed me for a while, you will know that I'm inspired by everything around me. Not just the "pretty stuff" but interesting shapes and colours that can inspire me to create. The first picture of my inspiration is hardly pretty, lol.

It looks a bit like a prison, doesn't it? We live in a rectory, and people assume that there's money here to be handed out to the poor. Most places, us included, no longer hand out money, rather we give food hampers or we're able to direct them to places where they can get help. We got quotes for a famous style of screen for our windows. What we imagined was almost impenetrable (hey, if they have a grenade, not much is going to last, lol) screens, but ones that didn't need this criss cross of mesh. There apparently was miscommunication and this is what we got, and because they were made specifically for the quirky shaped 125 year old windows, it wasn't a case of swapping over. Can you see the diamonds that are connected by small squares? Because that shape is my inspiration. Here's the first few pieces joined together.

At this stage I was still playing around with the layout of the colours. I was trying to find a way to use as much of the pack as I could, while making the colours flow together. As I looked at it, I was reminded of a print of a wood block by M. C. Escher. My maths teacher in high school had huge posters of his work around her classroom, and I always thought they were so cool. I was specifically reminded of one that had geese and fish, and I had a quick google to see if I could find it, because I loved the play of light and dark as the picture flowed downward, and the morphing of shapes.

I knew that somehow, I wanted to incorporate that feel into my design. There was lots of movement and frogging and eventually, I came up with this combination:

So, because this is a security screen inspired blanket, I'm calling it the Security Blanket. Giggle. It will be available soon on Ravelry, and there will be a coupon code for the first 100 to download it for free - keep watching my blog for the pattern launch!

It wasn't all smooth sailing you know. Aside from the agonising over colour placement, we had some health issues (some sealed under the cone of silence so that you don't have to bleach your brains lol - Rotavirus is awful), and a seriously adventurous 4yo who found a pair of scissors.

He was living on borrowed time for 24 hours, but I managed to turn it around by taking step by step photographs of the repairs so that I can write up a tutorial on crochet repair for you.... coming soon!

My friends will tell you how many versions of this I came up with before I was happy, lol. But where are the elements colours? Well, they are the framework for this blanket. The border and the edging. Take a look here:

First I had to make the border, and then I had to come up with the edging. I had a basic idea of what I wanted to accomplish, but it was only this morning (keep in mind that I'm in Australia and I'm posting this at 9pm Sydney time) that I had an even better idea of what to do!

Finally, we ended up with this. The Security Blanket.

Now for the nitty gritty. Just exactly what is the Batik yarn like?

Label Information for both Batik and Batik Elements:
Meterage: 138m or 151 yards
Recommended hook or needle: 4mm
Yarn Weight: DK
Fiber type: 80% Premium Acrylic 20% Wool
Ball size: 50g

The yarn is light, soft and gorgeous to touch. It's spun a little loosely so that it gives a nice drape. The down side to that is occasionally you will stick your hook through the working thread rather than around it. To be honest, it doesn't happen often. It has a little stretch but it's not springy. The meterage is very good. I wasn't paying attention for the plain colours, but for the elements balls I could make 13 diamond motifs from one ball and join most of them onto the blanket using the same ball.

If you look carefully, you will see that the plain colours, each was used for something aside from the motifs. Some were used as joining colours to provide contrast and a kind of ombre effect across the joins. Some were used to provide an extra row of motifs, and one was used as part of the border. I still had yarn left over, but it wasn't enough to add another row to the blanket in its entirety. You could use it to make embellishments, or even start another project with it like a stripey scarf. I'll be playing with my leftovers and I'll let you know what I eventually come up with.

This is a great yarn to work with, I have quite a bit in my stash and I'm going to enjoy using every single gram up. I already have another design in the works using the desert pack.

Ok, now for the really exciting stuff. I hope you enjoyed your visit today, and tomorrow the tour heads over to Helen's at The Woolly Adventures of a Knitting Kitty don't miss it.

Here's how to enter for your chance to win today's yarn pack, the competition begins at 8pm Sydney time which is 10am GMT time and is open for 24 hours to allow WORLD WIDE participants. Simply click on the link below:
Today's yarn pack give away is here, just click on this sentence and enter for your chance to win!

Sunday 24 September 2017

Book Review - Cute Crocheted Animals by Emma Varnam

Emma Varnam is one of the sweetest people I have met in the design world. Recently I was able to help her with a little matter and the next thing I know, she sent me a signed copy of her book as thanks! How generous is that? So, I have decided to review it, because this book is a treasure trove of talent and fun and you should have a copy.

Emma and her book

The first thing that you will notice about this book is the photography. The colours are beautiful and they make you just want to flip through the book again and again for the pictures alone. The book is well thought out in terms of layout and content. The index is clear and concise, so you can either bliss your way gradually through the whole book, or you can jump right to where you need to go to get started.

The photography is spectacular
The contents page is well laid out

This book isn't just a generic make the body and change the ears type of book. Each character is lovingly described in terms of structure and accessories. The faces aren't all the same and there are little touches everywhere that show not only attention to detail, but a desire to produce the ultimate complete item, rather than having to look elsewhere for embellishments. There is a whole cast and crew of animals to make, and each one of them are gorgeous. My two little boys have requested just about every animal in the book, and I'm glad that my daughter can't say much beyond Mumumumum. LOL. Believe me, we'll end up with the whole menagerie and an entire wardrobe of clothes!

The attention to detail is phenomenal

When it comes to the wardrobe, again Emma has not stinted in effort. It's not just a generic dress and coat. There are button tops and cabled tops, and tops with a design or stripes. There's a hooded coat, a short coat, a long coat and more. There really is an entire wardrobe that you can make for these gorgeous characters.

An entire wardrobe awaits

But the wardrobe doesn't just end at clothes. No, there are accessories as well. Anything that you see in the photographs of the animals has a pattern to go with it.

Accessories are included in the list of patterns

Now all of this might seem overwhelming, but do  not be alarmed, because the patterns are well written with clear instructions so that even a beginner could take on the creation of a treasured friend for a little treasure.

Instructions are clear and concise

This book is a gift that allows you to keep on giving. A rabbit with an outfit for a birthday, and a new outfit for Christmas. I don't know about you, but I loved dressing up my toys when I was young. I even sewed together a waistcoat out of fabric scraps for my favourite teddy. I'm looking forward to getting my hooks into some more of these patterns so that I can share the joy with my children too.

Clear Instructions: 5*
Layout: 5*
Variety: 5*
Attention to detail: 5*

Worth purchasing? Goodness, YES!

Happy Hooking