30 August 2017

Essence Shawl launch - Scheepjes YARN The After Party

Here she is!  

The Essence Shawl!

She’s been codenamed “The Onesie” for the past six months by a glorious group of friends who knew I had a commission but not what it was, or what yarn I was using or any detail at all really. It created quite the guessing game for awhile and I think at the last it was a “lacy blanket sized floppy rabbit onesie knit in Secret Garden”.. umm no!

Now I am super excited and so proud to introduce to them, and you,  Essence, and what better way to introduce her than as part of the Scheepjes After Party  series of booklets!.

You may have seen some sneak peaks of it if you get The Knitter magazine.  This ad appeared in the July Issue 113.

As a knitter and crocheter I always play around but have never considered it ‘designing’, it’s just playing and I think many of you can relate to that.  I’ve been test knitting for Canadutch and she and I have become good friends so I am always throwing pictures at her of different things I’ve been playing with.  With a very big shove, and she’s not gentle when she has absolute faith and belief in something as she did with me, she convinced me to submit something to Scheepjes.  It couldn’t hurt, the worst thing that could happen was that I would feel bad at having wasted their time, the best thing was that I might get some invaluable feedback and design and submission advice for the future.   I didn’t consider the BEST thing to be an offer of commission!

As I was building up the courage to submit Essence, Scheepjes had released their promotional pictures for Whirl and I knew instantly that this yarn was perfect for this design.  Whirl hadn’t been released when I received it to knit the sample with.  Now you all know that I am a Scheepjes addict.  Do you have any idea the self control it took to not shout from the rooftops at how delicious this yarn is?  Now six months later it’s a global phenomenon gone viral. At this point I’m not prepared to admit how many of these colourways I actually have!

Unless you’ve been living on the moon you’ll have seen Whirl, it’s everywhere on social media and Ravelry projects.  It’s 1000 meters (yes, three zeros there, one whole kilometre!) of 60% cotton, 40% acrylic in the most glorious colour gradients and its Soft! I mean super soft!  It’s not splitty like a lot of cotton gradient yarns and the colour changes are subtle and very long, unlike the harsh colour changes of other cake yarns. This yarn is perfect for the Essence Shawl, the colour gradients give what is a very simple design some serious WOW factor and the drape of it is to die for.  The choice of colours has something to suit every taste, and with 30 (!) ice cream flavour inspired names, and yet more to be released, it gives a whole new meaning to ‘yummy yarn’.  Essence has been published in the Slice O’ Cherry Pie (753) colourway.


With a first commission I had so much to learn and over the next few months I am sure that Tammy thoroughly deserved to be recognised as a Psych Nurse.  She went through it all with me, from squeals and screams of excitement, total self doubt, uncontrollable sobbing because I couldn’t share this with my Mum, panic at not meeting a deadline, if there was an emotion to be felt, I dragged Tammy through it with me.  Without her I wouldn’t be sane but I can’t vouch for her sanity after this experience.

I also needed a test knitter!  I cannot thank Toni Sturrs of BlissfullyCrafted enough for answering my insane panic stricken request to test for me.  I needed someone based in the UK or Europe, someone I trusted in their knitting ability, their ability to be super critical of me and my pattern writing skills if needed, someone who could keep this a secret for however long it took and work to a deadline.  Toni was amazing, often working through the fatigue of a Chrone’s flare up and sharing in the excitement of it all with me.   I was SO excited to see that Toni’s test piece is the one chosen for the photography!  Test knitters put in as much physical work and time as the designer and in this case all her hard work is being showcased beautifully and I am beyond grateful and insanely proud to acknowledge her efforts and share in this with her.

I wanted this design to be super simple.  Something that a beginner knitter just comfortable with their knit and purl stitches could look at and say “YES! I can do that!”.  A more experienced knitter will find that it’s a very relaxing watch tv and knit project.  If Knitflixing is your thing then you’ll love this. With the simplicity of the stitches I wanted something that looked pretty and interesting.  The texture of Essence gives you a simple smooth look on one side and a textured look on the other making it fully reversible.  The pattern is written with a wrong side and right side but there is absolutely no wrong or right way side to wear it. 

I designed this and knit my sample in Blueberry Bam Bam (755) which you can see here, with a 4.00mm needle because I’m a reasonably tight knitter. If you find that your fabric is too loose when knitting it just drop down to a 3.75mm or 3.50mm, being cotton the Whirl is very forgiving when being frogged, tinked, and ripped back in frustration, you can trust me on that.  There really are no rules, your gauge isn’t really going to affect the final shape or outcome and with 1000 meters of yarn you just knit and knit and knit until you’re ready to cast off. The long length and asymmetrical shape of the design with the beautiful drape of Whirl give you so many options in styling Essence.  You can drape it across your shoulders, wrap it tight like a super bulky cowl, or wrap it loosely.  It’s versatile so play with it and come up with your own unique ways to wear it.

You can find the pattern for the Essence Shawl now on Ravelry  for digital download. Digital downloads are available in English, Dutch, German, Swedish, and Spanish .  Don’t forget to add it to your Ravelry favourites. The YARN After Party booklet will be also available at Scheepjes Retailers and is available at Wool Warehouse

You can find Whirl at Wool Warehouse* for international and UK shipping and Scheepjes Retailers

If you do make the Essence Shawl I’d love to see your pictures so please create Ravelry project pages, post pictures to The Calm Nook Crafts Facebook or your Instagram pages and tag me @thecalmnookcrafts .  You can use  the hashtag #essenceshawl too.  I’m really looking forward to seeing what colours everyone chooses.  Don’t forget to show Scheepjes too when they post their “What’s on your hook today’ post, usually on a Wednesday, on their Facebook page, it’s ok, they like to see what’s on your needles too!

*Affilite link.

1 May 2017

April's Cowl - Scheepjes Eliza

Hello Blog, I've neglected you again..

Neglect is a harsh word.  Having time to blog, or a reason to blog has been hard with commissions and test knitting that all have 'top secret' stamped on them, it means that I can't show you the things I've been working on or shout about the amazing yarns I've been using.. until now.

Eight days ago my son asked if I could knit an Overwatch Beanie for him to gift a friend for her Birthday.  Absolutely, I can knit beanies with my eyes closed.. adding an Overwatch symbol may be tricky.  It proved too tricky.  Too tricky in the time frame of 7 days and too tricky for my patience levels when I am still up to my eyeballs in test knitting.

Fortunately a delivery from Wool Warehouse saved the day! I love how Wool Warehouse do that! We'd just discovered April's favourite colours when the perfect colour literally landed in my lap.

The perfect colour in a yarn I'd not yet used.  Meet Scheepjes Eliza!

I have to admit curiosity made me buy this to try,  It's 100% polyester and I tend to steer clear of polyester, it has a bad reputation.  Scheepjes promote this yarn as being as soft as silk. I trust Scheepjes and  by now you all know I'm a die hard Scheepjes Junkie and I will try anything of theirs.

Silk isn't perhaps the word I'd use to describe this yarn although it's super smooth.  Soft?  Oh it's Soft!!  Baby bunny soft!  Baby chicken soft!  Kitten soft.. It's ALL the baby animals soft and lets throw in as smooth as a baby's bum!

Can you see the soft?  I wish you could touch it, this yarn is about to give polyester a whole new reputation!

But I digress.. the soft will do that to you, you'll want to sit there stroking it, squishing it, rubbing it against your face ( I know you do that to yarn, you can't deny it!)

Back to the cowl.  Once my son had seen and felt the yarn we decided it would make a perfect cowl/neck warmer.. it's the soft, this soft against your skin.. it's SOFT.  We chose the colour Rollerskate because it fitted in with April's favourite colours of Blue, Teal and 'Seafoam"

April is a wee little slip of a teenage girl so I didn't want something super big and bulky that would dwarf her, just something nice and warm and snuggly.  Size was also dependent upon the fact that I had about 48 hours to get this knitted, washed, blocked and dried.

Eliza comes in 100gm balls with the iconic Scheepjes Easy Start tab.  I used about 55gms for this cowl. If I'd had time I may have made a headband to match with what I had left from the one ball.

I didn't use an existing pattern for something this quick and simple,  it was a matter of casting on and knitting until I had the height that I wanted.

Here's how I did it.

1 x ball of Scheepjes Eliza
4.00mm circular needle (80cm cable for magic loop method)
Darning needle for sewing in ends.
6.00mm needle (optional)

If you want to make a bigger cowl, cast on any amount of stitches in an even number.
I suggest that you weigh your yarn before starting, and again at the end of row 11.  By doing this you will know how much yarn you have used, the same amount will be needed for the final rib and cast off.

CO: 100 stitches using long tail cast on method
Join in the round being careful not to twist your stitches.

R1: *k1, p1* to the end of the round
Repeat Row 1 9 more times.

R 11: knit
Repeat Row 11 49 times.

R 61: *k1, p1* to the end of the round
Repeat Row 61 9 more times.

BO: Bind off in your preferred stretchy bind off method.  Alternatively bind off loosely using a size 6.00mm needle.

Give it a gentle wash with your preferred wool wash, I use Eucalan.  Block the cowl to neaten it up a bit and you're done. This cowl measured 23cm x 23cm after very gentle blocking with little stretching involved.  Blocking was more to straighten up the edges after washing.

Scheepjes Eliza comes in a range of 36 colours and is available at Scheepjes Retailers and Wool Warehouse*

* Affiliate link

2 April 2017

Crash Course in Fair Isle Knitting

Back in November of last year my friend Tammy revealed her gorgeous La Benaize Hat with the promise that the pattern would be released 'next week'.  I was excited as fair isle knitting was on my list of things to learn.  Tammy knows that I LOVE to learn new things so linked me to a very good tutorial by Staci Perry of Very Pink Knits which you can find here.   I had a quick look, enough to get the concept, see how the different yarn colours are worked across the rows and that was it.  I didn't need to really watch it until the pattern was available.

Life Happens!  "Next week" became March!

On a Sunday evening there was a discussion about the pattern being ready for release the next weekend, throw it out there and hope for the best.  In the past I had offered to test knit for Tammy and now was definitely the time for a test knit!

I was up to my eyeballs in a secret project but desperately needed a break from my own expectations of deadlines so this was a welcome change for a few days.  I had all the materials I required, I remembered most of what I'd seen in the tutorial, I was ready. I started on the band straight away, ran into tiredness, made a mistake and decided it could wait until the morning.

You know what it's like when you are working on something and just can't put it down?  This was one of those projects!  I'd never knitted with Scheepjes Stonewashed yarn before, and it is a dream to knit with!  I'd never worked fair isle, nor with charts, but this was SO easy!!

The pattern, thankfully, has a very easy chart to read.  To make it easier I had these gorgeous stitch markers that I'd received earlier in the week from Nerissa of Miss Neriss that I was able to use to mark the repeats.

All through Monday I was sending Tammy progress shots so that she could check if I was on track and that my tension, which usually runs on the tight side, was working up loose enough to show the pattern work.

Now I'm pretty sure both Tammy and I fell off our chairs when I had this completed at around midnight on the Monday evening. It was the most insane, almost record breakingly quick test knit everrrrrrrrrr! I had my friend Niamh cheering me on over Facebook Messenger and toward the end it was like a race with myself to get it done "15 rows to go" "6 rows of pattern", "onto the decrease".

I LOVE this hat!  I love that fair isle isn't the hideously complicated thing that I'd imagined it to be.

I'm going to knit ALL the fair isle things!

Not really!  But I am absolutely going to knit more La Benaize hats after my daughter's friends saw it and asked if I'd make them one.

 Scheepjes Stonewashed 811, 818, 821

 Scheepjes Stonewashed 822, 809, 812

These are two of the colour combinations I've chosen so far. Aren't those colours gorgeous!!

You can find the La Benaize pattern on Canadutch or on Ravelry.

Scheepjes Stonewashed yarn is available through Scheepjes Retailers or Wool Warehouse*

If you do make one of these gorgeous hats I'd love to see them on social media.  You can use #labenaizehat.  Be sure to tag @canadutch too!

*affiliate link

21 February 2017

Simple Secrets..

Every now and then you come across a pattern that is so simple in the making but the yarn choices turn it into something stunning and beautiful.

That's the case with this gorgeous Shawl of Secrets by Sarah Knight using Scheepjes Secret Garden Yarn.  Seriously look at that!  It's GORGEOUS!!

This pattern is ridiculously easy!  Don't let all those colours suggest otherwise.  I'd never done a top down triangular shawl before, and this wont be the last one.  Admittedly the garter tab cast on had me a little confuzzled but Sarah has an awesome tutorial with step by step instructions on her blog for those of you who get a little stuck.  I got stuck but managed to nut it out myself before I remembered the tutorial, and with a quick double check I was on the right track.

I've crocheted with Secret Garden before doing a simple ribbed cowl which started my love affair with this yarn.  I've got to say though that I much prefer to knit with it.  For me it's not about which craft I prefer to utilise this yarn with but it's ALL about bringing those colours to life in the most glorious way.

This shawl only takes 7  balls of yarn which surprised me greatly because my crochet ribbed cowl used 3 balls. Well it wasn't that great of a surprise knowing that crochet generally uses more yarn but this was a visual demonstration of the fact for me. This is such a lovely relaxing knit that I found it hard to put down and had it completed in 6 days.

Since making this shawl and showing it off, and trust me, I'm so in love with it that I've showed it off in every conceivable way, it's become the catalyst to some of my die hard crochet friends to take up knitting again or to even learn to knit!  How cool is that??

This shawl is magical.  I've yet to see two that look the same!  The colour changes in the yarn and the starting point of each individual ball brings about totally different looks!

This is my shawl part way through.

My friend Judy's is looking different again.

I've seen ones with a lot more pink in the start.  Every single one is slightly different and it makes for originality for individuals.

I have every intention of making more of  this gorgeous shawl. I've had numerous people ask if they can have or can buy mine.  NO! it's MINE all mine!  But I'll use any excuse to knit another of these beauties. Besides my favourite model Miss Poppy is not likely to part with it anytime soon.

This pattern makes up part of the Scheepjes Yarn The After Party series. You can find it as a digital download on Ravelry or buy it as a leaflet from Scheepjes retailers and Wool Warehouse.

The Secret Garden Yarn is available from Scheepjes Retailers and Wool Warehouse* for international shipping.

If you do make one of these use the #shawlofsecrets on Instagram and other social media so that we can all see the beautiful colour variations.  Don't forget to pop it in your Ravelry projects too!

**Edit: This pattern is now available on Ravelry as a PDF in five languages, English, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian and Spanish.

* affiliate links

17 February 2017

Blogcrastination, It's a Thing!

When I relaunched this blog a few months ago I was excited!  I love to write and I envisaged myself doing it regularly with at least two blogs a week.  Yep, all good intentions.. so what happened?

Blogcrastination.. that's what happened!

Talking to a friend a few nights ago we both agreed that in these days of social media, Facebook and Instagram have been a wee bit debilitating to our blogs.  I know I get caught up in the moment of posting pictures of a project in progress. then in the excitement of a completed project I will post it anywhere and everywhere.  By the time I've done that, and the euphoria settles I've realised I've not written the blog I intended but I've posted so many pictures of my project, who wants to see it again in a blog post?

I also tend to write on the spur of the moment, an idea will pop into my head and I write it almost instantly, as I did with the Dream Craft Room Catch Up blog and again now. Somewhere I have a list of blog ideas, I have no idea where I put that list nor can I really remember what was on it.

I always intend to write, but then, you know, who wants to write when you can knit!?

For me there's also that little voice in my head that says "Seriously, who's going to read your blog when there are SO many amazing craft blogs out there already?"  The Dream Craft Room Catch Up blog got a LOT of attention, overwhelmingly so, and in my mind for a wee bit I thought I would never replicate that, This is where I came unstuck.  I was putting pressure on myself to come up with that again.

Who's going to read my blog, who would be interested in an invisible blog by a not known crafter? The answer to that is I have no idea. The solution to that is to go back to my original plan for this blog and to just write about what inspires me, to write because I want to and about what I want to with no pressure on myself of readership numbers and stats and all those other things that one can get caught up in.  Its taken me awhile to realise that I was thinking too much about you and not about me.

I have some exciting things coming up.  I've started designing and there is so much to learn about the process. I've been doing some crochet testing for some talented ladies and can't wait to show you what they've designed. I have some knit testing coming up that I'm really excited about.   The Scheepjes Hygge CAL by Kirsten Ballering of Haak Maar Raak has started so that will keep me busy for awhile (I should put some sort of disclaimer in here to state that I am a Scheepjes Yarn Addict and you're bound to see a LOT of scheepjes product if you stick around).  So there are lots of things to inspire me to write about.

So the plan now is to try and blog once a week, to come up with my own  way of doing things and not compare this wee little blog to others, If anyone is here reading this please give my butt a kick every so often and remind me to put the knitting down for a bit and enjoy my love of writing for a moment or two as well.

The time for Blogcrastination is over,