Crochet, Karen's Korner, Knitting

My Yarn Shop Detour

My Yarn Shop DetourI made my “Yarn Shop Detour” last month. My husband and I drove from our home in Tawa (near Wellington) to his work conference in Hamilton. He kindly agreed to detour through Napier so that I could visit a yarn shop I really wanted to see. For those of you who don’t know New Zealand, that meant an extra 1½ hours driving time, with an overall extension of about 4 hours to the total trip time.

I don’t regret one minute of it, however, and my husband didn’t seem to mind the extended trip either. He was actually quite interested in the shop and its story as well. The shop I’m referring to is called “Skeinz”. It is quite a small shop, but I now regard it as something of a New Zealand yarn treasure. Please check out their website (Skeinz, The Natural Yarn Store) to find out more about them, their yarns, and Design Spun Ltd – it is well worth it.

I have been aware of Skeinz for nearly a year now, and have looked at their yarns online. I have also joined their Facebook page, Skeinz – Speak Easy. The descriptions of their yarns online are very tempting, but I really like to “meet yarn in person” before I commit to buying it. I have to say that I was blown away by the quality of the yarn I found there. They don’t have a huge range, but what they have is absolutely beautiful, both in texture and colour.

My Yarn Shop Detour My Yarn Shop DetourOne of the advantages of visiting the shop was the opportunity to pick up a couple of really good bargains that I wouldn’t have been able to get online. They are both wonderfully soft 4ply merino wool. One was the last ball of a lovely mottled grey shade of Orb Fine. The other was a 475g bag of “Threadwaste” in a rich red colour. Threadwaste is yarn that is cut off the machine when it tangles during the balling process. It has taken many hours, but I have nearly finished untangling and winding my yarn, and it has been well worth it. I will have the equivalent of 9½ 50g balls of luxurious 4ply merino wool.

My Yarn Shop DetourI thoroughly recommend that you check out Skeinz online or, if you are lucky enough to be in Napier, call in to see them.

Crochet, Karen's Korner, Knitting

What Is The Best Yarn To Use?

What Is The Best Yarn To Use?
Image courtesy of Flickr

How many times have you been stuck wondering what is the best yarn to use for your next project? There is such a wide variety of yarns available now that it can be a bit overwhelming trying to make a choice. My personal preference tends to be for wool, especially for babies, because it is a natural fibre that “breathes” and is very warm. The modern range of yarns, however, contains an ever expanding number of different fibre types, and also blends of different fibres.

What Is The Best Yarn To Use?
Image courtesy of Flickr

One of the first things to look at on your pattern is whether or not it is written for a particular unique yarn, or is suitable for one of the more general types of yarn like 4ply, 8 ply, 12 ply etc. If the pattern is very yarn specific then you are best to stick with that yarn for your project.

A lot of patterns are still designed for more standard yarn types. Obviously it is safest to use the yarn(s) recommended in the pattern, but if you want to use something different there are several really important things to consider.

Yarn Ply and Needle Size

Always make sure that you get the same ply/weight yarn as that used in the pattern. It is also essential to do a test square to check that your gauge is correct, and alter your needle size accordingly if it is a bit off.

Yarn Length

The composition of yarn can make a huge difference to how far it goes. A ball of acrylic yarn can be up to 30% longer than a ball of wool of the same weight. Cotton can be similar to, or slightly shorter than wool, and blends of acrylic and natural fibres will be different again. Always check the band on a ball or hank of yarn for the length and for the batch number. Make sure you know what the length of a ball is for the yarn used in your pattern and work out from that what you will need in the yarn you are choosing. If you are in any doubt err on the side of caution and get extra.

Crochet, Cross Stitch, Karen's Korner, Lace Making

A Little Bit Of Everything Over Easter

A Little Bit Of Everything Over Easter

I was lucky enough to find time to dabble in a little bit of everything over Easter this year. I managed to get a few small crochet novelty items made for my grandchildren in plenty of time to accompany their Easter Sunday chocolate treats. Unfortunately the yarn I had available for the beaks of the chickens resulted in them looking more like ducks, but the grandchildren still seemed happy enough to receive them.

A Little Bit Of Everything Over Easter A Little Bit Of Everything Over EasterI have finally managed to make a bit more progress with my needle lace sampler (see “Update On Lace Sampler”). The next box is now about half-filled with “cloth stitch”. The lower third will have some variation worked in as part of the stitching and, once the background stitch is completed, the middle third will have some extra details stitched on top. It has been a lot slower than I had originally planned, but I am enjoying learning new things when I am able to spend some time on it.

A Little Bit Of Everything Over EasterThe third project I was able to get to was the fine cross stitch birth sampler that I also started last year (see “Two Extremes Of Cross Stitch”). It is a little easier to do now that I have upgraded my glasses, but I still struggle with it a bit. I can only do it during the afternoon in good lighting conditions which is quite a disadvantage when I am working. I will continue to persevere though as I think it will be well worth the effort once it is finished.

As if those three weren’t enough to keep me occupied, I also picked up a knitting project that I started early in the year. It is a sleeveless vest for me which I will post photos of once it is finished. I find it relaxing to knit in the evenings as it is something I don’t have to concentrate so hard on.

Easter is a very special and significant season for me and, although I was able to get quite a bit of craft work done, the most special times were spent attending church services and catching up with family. I hope you all had a very special Easter season too.

Crochet, Karen's Korner, Knitting

I’ve Fallen A Bit Behind

I've Fallen A Bit Behind
Image courtesy of Flickr

I’m afraid I’ve fallen a bit behind with my website lately. I’m not quite sure where February went, but we are now into the second week of March!

During February I had several projects on the go which I have now finished. Unfortunately I forgot to take photos of any of them and they have now been given to the people I was making them for. The wool I referred to in “Working With Hanks Of Yarn” was knitted into a lovely hooded jacket for a little girl who will be turning two in a couple of weeks. Her Mum wanted it as a birthday present for her.

The second project I have just finished was slippers for my son and his partner who live in Melbourne. Obviously they were not needed in a hurry as it is still very warm over there, but I wanted to include them in a parcel I was sending which was already a bit late. I had fun “playing around” with several patterns (see “Using Patterns As A Guide”) and came up with two unique pairs of slippers which have now been sent on their way.

My main priority now is to catch up with posts for this site. I have been fortunate enough to get hold of copies of several crochet pattern books from Leisure Arts to review. I have really enjoyed looking at some different ideas, and will be posting reviews on them very soon.

Happy handcrafting everyone!

Crochet, Karen's Korner, Knitting

Working With Hanks Of Yarn

Working With Hanks Of YarnI have previously not had much experience working with hanks of yarn, but was recently asked to knit a jacket for a friend’s little girl. I suggested she check out the range available at The Wool Company. I really love their yarns and the fact that they are high quality and locally made. The wool she chose comes in 200g hanks.

Working With Hanks Of Yarn Working With Hanks Of YarnMy original plan for winding the wool into balls was to use one of the dining room chairs but then I decided to try something else. The back of the chair was not quite the right width and was a bit high for me to work with. It occurred to me that one of the back cushions off my sofa might be more suitable and it was. The cushion was just the right size and it was easy to move around too.

Working With Hanks Of Yarn Working With Hanks Of YarnAs I started winding the wool I started wondering about how I was going to get an idea of how much I was using as I was knitting the garment. I came up with the idea of using the kitchen scales. I wound the wool until I got to 25g then turned the ball 90 degrees and wound on another 25g, making a total of 50g. I repeated this procedure, turning after every 25g, and it has worked really well.

I have a tendency to change patterns a bit as I go (see “Using Patterns as a Guide”) so it has been very useful to know my yarn usage. I have made the garment significantly longer than the pattern and have been able to be confident that I will have enough wool to complete the garment.

I hope these tips can be useful to others of you who are working with hanks. I would love to hear any stories and tips that you might like to share.

Cross Stitch, Karen's Korner, Knitting

A Busy Start To 2018

I don’t know about you but I have had rather a busy start to 2018. It has involved family, friends, knitting and cross stitch, so it has also been a very good start.

One of the special things about Christmas is being able to catch up with family, and this year was no different. Following that, on the 6th of January, our elder son arrived with his two little dogs to stay with us for a few weeks. He has just completed “The Longest Walk New Zealand” during which he walked just over 5000 km around the country to try to help raise awareness of animal welfare organisations. You can find out more about his adventures on his website (see link above).

A Busy Start To 2018I have been spending quite a lot of time in the last few weeks with two of my grandchildren who live locally. The weather has been lovely for most of the time and we have been on a number of “adventures”. These have ranged from a paddle in the local stream accompanied by a crowd of curious ducks, to a bush walk and a walk along the shoreline of the local harbour. It is great when kids enjoy doing simple, outdoor things. I feel very blessed to have this involvement with them.

A Busy Start To 2018On the crafting front, I have knitted a couple of little hats for some twins girls who were born prematurely to a young couple from our church. I also made a larger version for their three year old sister. It was fun to do such tiny knitting, especially knowing that the twins and their mum are all doing well.

A Busy Start To 2018Over the last couple of months I have also been busy with three more cross stitched cushion covers. These are for the three grandchildren who live locally. They all have their birthdays within a few weeks of each other at the end of January / beginning of February, so it is good to have them finished. I just need to put the backings on them all now.

I hope you have all had a good start to the year and look forward to sharing more with you soon.

Karen's Korner

Changes Afoot

Changes Afoot
Image courtesy of Pixabay

Hi everyone.

You will have noticed that things started looking a bit different recently. This is the result of my having changed my hosting service for the website. I am now on another huge learning curve trying to become familiar with new ways of doing things, so please bear with me.

The majority of the content of my posts has migrated smoothly, but I am finding a number of images that have either gone into hiding or have just disappeared. There are some other small formatting issues to deal with as well.

I will work to get everything back up and running properly as soon as possible and am very excited about the new challenges and new tings to learn. I hope you will follow me on this journey and welcome any comments and feedback you may wish to contribute.

I wish you all a special Christmas season and a craft filled New Year.