Summer shawls and cover ups

Shawls and lace wraps are not only handy summer cover ups for when a chill breeze starts and glamorous accessories.

They are also perfect summer projects because they tend to be lightweight and are easily packed up for a trip. Plus it is quite possible that you could finish them on holiday and wear almost immediately.

Here we have picked out a few examples in popular shapes that tie in with this summer’s trends for colourblocks and lacy mesh patterns.

Look out next week for our tips on blocking your finished shawl.

 

Get the best from summer yarn shows

If you take a look at our knitting and crochet event calendar you will see there are plenty of yarn fairs to visit over the next two or three months.

With this in mind here are our top tips for getting the best out of a summer yarn show.

Take some time to research and plan

It is worth taking a little time before the show to make sure you will see everything you want to on the day. Check to see if there are any workshops with spaces and any talks or demonstrations you might want to fit in.

Have a glance down the retailer list so you don’t miss a stall you will regret later.

Check out the refreshment facilities. If it is an outdoor (or even partially outdoor) event, see if there are places where you can eat a picnic on sunny day.

Allow plenty of time

There is no point is rushing round an event like this. There may be sheep or alpacas to admire, a shearing or a spinning demo to watch and you might bump into people you know.

Plus if you are determined to get the best from the stalls you may be best advised to make two circuits. First as a recce to you can see everything on offer (and not spend all your money at the first stop) and then a second to find a few treats whether that be yarn, needles and hooks, bags or something out of the ordinary.

Image from Fibre East

Enjoy yourself and chat to representatives of guilds, as well as  other knitters and crocheters

One of the joys of a yarn show is admiring other people’s knits and chatting to them about what the pattern is and what yarn they used. Another is visiting various guilds and associations on their stands to find out about new crafts. The social side of a yarn event can be as much fun as the shopping.

We are planning to have some fun trips to yarn fairs this summer and we hope you do too.

Trendwatch: Superbright knits

This is the summer of colour. Alongside colour block and stripe patterns, the trend of this summer is strong colours.

We have mentioned the Fuschia trend already but zingy oranges and yellows, pillar box red, lapis blue, emerald greens and electric purples are all also great choices.

To be on trend all you need to do is pick a pattern you like and choose a bold, vibrant shade to make it in. Don’t be afraid of bright colours – they look great in the sunshine and show of your great makes.

Here we have selected some yarns that could help you achieve that bold look in your summer knits.

 

How knitters and crocheters can help the Grenfell Tower fire survivors

The Grenfell Tower fire in west London last week has been dominating a lot of people’s thoughts and we know that knitters have been asking if there is anything they can do to help the Grenfell survivors.

We have checked with some of the charities involved in collecting and distributing the initial donations to the families left homeless by the disaster and they tell us that immediate needs have been met.

However, they also say that there will be more long term needs for these families as they are housed and start to rebuild their homes. They will need things that they won’t be thinking about right now – blankets to personalise kids’ bedrooms when they get them again, bobble hats for those same kids going to school next winter and warm socks for elderly people, for example.

Colourful crocheted or knitted blankets could add personality and comfort to a rehoused child’s room

There is plenty that knitters and crocheters can do.

So we were very pleased to see our friends at Knit for Peace announce that they will be a collection point for knitted items for Grenfell survivors. Click on the link here to find out where to send your items and how else you might be able to help.

Hopefully, some of you can use your talents to help the Grenfell families. This story serves as a good reminder that charity knits are needed all year round not just in the an immediate time of crisis, or in Commit To Knit month.

Tips: Summer knitting and crochet with cotton

At this time of year we often think about using cotton yarns to create cool, summer garments.

If you are used to working mainly with wool, cotton can behave differently so we have collect some useful tips to help you with your warm weather projects. Thank you to everyone who contributed tips on social media.

Needles

Your choice of needles can make a real difference to your experience of working with cotton. Many people prefer bamboo needles over metal to get the most accurate tension.  Metal needles can allow the cotton to slip and slide a bit too much.

The other downside of combining metal needles with cotton can be splitting. Because of how the fibres form in cotton yarn, particularly sharp needles can easily slip into the yarn rather than a whole stitch causing splits.

Crochet

Cotton yarn is very popular for crochet. It forms very crisp well defined stitches and firm fabric. So choose your crochet pattern with that in mind. 

Finished fabric

Cotton yarn behaves differently to wool, so if you decide to substitute cotton in a pattern written for wool, the finished item will look different. This can be a good thing but it is worth swatching carefully.

cotton yarn

You can see here how on the green swatch, which is in wool using the same yarn weight and needles, the rib is pulling in more than the cream cotton yarn.

Because cotton softens over time and can be heavier than wool it is a good idea to choose patterns with firm tension to avoid sagging – some people go down a needle size when working in cotton.

Swatch and then wash your swatch to get a good idea about how a particular cotton yarn behaves.

Why knit in public

This Saturday, 10 June 2017, is World Wide Knit in Public Day. Pretty much as it says on the tin, this is when knitters of all abilities, styles and nationalities take their needles and yarn out and about.

For some people this means going to an organised Knit in Public Day event. A number of these around the UK have been organised as part of Commit To Knit (C2K) month so will be focusing on charity knitting in public – you can find details of 70 C2K events here.

Other people might just get together with friends in a café or have a special local knitting group outing.

And some people will do pretty much what they do anyway, that is knit everywhere – on park benches, on public transport, in waiting rooms and hospital wards, and anywhere else they might have an opportunity.

world wide knit in public

If you haven’t knitted in public before, why not give it a go this Saturday? It is a great way to reduce your stress in waiting rooms or lose yourself on a crowded train. You just need a small project that you can pull out of a bag (or even a pocket in the case of a crochet square for example) when you have the opportunity.

And it may not be just you that benefits. When you knit in public, you will notice people who seem to relax by watching your needles. Other people will chat or ask you what you are making. This can range from the chirpy “Will you do me a hat, love” to people asking where they can learn or who really want to tell you about the lovely sweaters their Nan made. Whatever the conversation, a little friendly chat can’t be a bad thing.

Finally, you might meet a fellow knitter. Knitters round the world seem to be happy to greet another person with their yarn out. So you never know, you could make a new friend this Saturday.

Click here for the full worldwide list of events.

Knitting and crochet books to make you think

Here at UK Hand Knitting we’re always keen to take a look at new knitting and crochet books. Recently two arrived that have made us think about our crafting in new ways.

Knit Yourself Calm – A creative path to managing stress Lynne Rowe & Betsan Corkhill, Search Press

therapeutic knitting

Mindfulness and use creative pursuits to improve our mental well-being are hot topics at the moment and this book addresses where knitting fits into this movement.

Therapeutic knitting expert Betsan Corkhill has worked with designer Lynne Rowe to put together a set of patterns to help with different aspects of stress and benefit people’s health and wellbeing. Corkhill tells us that a study she did with Cardiff University “showed that the more frequently people knit (more than three times a week) the calmer and happier they feel – 81% felt happier after knitting.” The same study found that among those who initially “felt sad” only 1% continued to do so after therapeutic knitting.

With this in mind the projects in the book are divided into different types of projects for different situations with explanations of how they may benefit you. For example, Quick and Easy projects to give you a sense of accomplishment, and Group Projects that you could collaborate with others on.

Reading this book, the UKHK team were able to point to times we have used our knitting or crochet to help us cope with difficult situations or stress. If you think you or someone else would benefit from some therapeutic knitting this book is a useful tool.

 

In one section of Knit Yourself Calm, Corkhill says: “Learning new skills on a regular basis is essential for nurturing a healthy bran, opening new neural pathways and even encouraging the growth of new brain cells right into old age.” And for crocheters this is where our second book comes in.

 

Design Your Own Crochet Projects – Magic Formulas for Creating Custom Scarves, Cowls, Hats, Socks, Mittens & Gloves, Sara Delaney, Storey Publishing

crochet books

We have been lucky enough to get an early look at this US book coming out in the UK later this year and were surprised how useful it is for people with no interest in publishing their own patterns.

Sara Delaney shows us that designing is much wider than publishing patterns. Her book is designed to help you create lovely accessories with yarn from your stash and give you the skills to turn that skein of yarn you have fallen in love with into exactly the item you imagine.

The book gives you the formulas or recipes for 18 project types including scarves, hats, socks and gloves. Each formula takes you step-by-step through measuring stitch tension, working out what stitch patterns will work and how many stitches or pattern repeats will be needed.

This is a book that will make us be braver about our own crochet – stash yarn will certainly turn into hats and cowls in the coming months and may well feature some more adventurous stitch patterns. Look out for this book and hopefully it will inspire you too.

 

We have a copy of Knit Yourself Calm to give away. Tell us how you have used knitting or crochet in a positive way in the comments below and we will pick a winner among the commenters.