Posted on Leave a comment

Learning to crochet granny stripes at Toft.

Since learning how to knit recently, it seemed only polite to give crochet a go!

Several years ago, I kind of taught myself how to crochet using YouTube tutorials. I enjoyed it at the time, but over the years have let that hobby go and convinced myself that I have forgotten how to do it.

There is no reason why I couldn’t just go back to YouTube to brush up on my skills, but I decided to treat myself to a workshop at the Toft studio in Warwickshire, not far from where I live. The studio is set in a pretty rural location at the end of a quiet lane in Dunchurch, and the barn style decor is warm and inviting. When I arrived, there were several people knitting and chatting inside and others enjoying cake and coffee at the picnic benches outside – it was a lovely warm afternoon.

thumbnail_E6C8E51F-7DB5-43BC-A030-C44C744EBF00

Beckee was my tutor for this course and she was super lovely. Offering me a drink on arrival and making sure I had everything, I was surprised to see that there was only one other lady on the workshop with me. Whilst I believe that there was space on this workshop for more, I think that they do keep their workshop attendee numbers quite small to make sure that everybody is able to receive as much attention as they need, which is great.

thumbnail_0FCC5272-27A8-423E-938E-8422FB563CE3
Such a great teaching area.

The granny stripe crochet workshop teaches you how to create the basic stitches of chain, double crochet and triple crochet. You are also shown how to understand crochet abbreviations and follow a chart.  Changing your yarn colour was also part of this workshop and was surprisingly simple. Becky was friendly and patient and helpfully guided us through each step by using a chunky yarn and larger hook so that we could see what she was doing.

thumbnail_49A5E5E6-A163-486C-B5AF-097D5E183533

Coffee and delicious cake is provided halfway through the lesson and it was a relaxed and enjoyable afternoon. The other lady that was learning with me was keen on amigurumi  (which I was surprised to hear is slightly different from regular crochet), and when she mentioned this, Beckee very helpfully shared with her some tips regarding stitching and stuffing the toys. The company hold free workshops to help sewing up and stuffing your toys on Fridays I think, which is impressive customer service. Several video tutorials are available on the website for those that aren’t local to the studio and I very much get the impression that this company are keen to provide you with as much support as you need following your purchase from them.

thumbnail_FF0F5791-7132-4AC2-B03A-2628C2652A2E

The shop is beautifully displayed and very tempting. If I thought I had a problem wanting all the sewing patterns and new fabrics, then I can totally see a whole new yarn and yarn pattern obsession developing. Time to save up my pennies whilst deciding on a project that I can put my new found skills to use on. I am really loving the look of the animal kits – this bunny kit is so cute and I would love to give this a go one day, whilst this granny stripe blanket would be the perfect way to put my beginner skills to the test.

thumbnail_BC7AB956-FF32-403D-8757-D987B9877621

thumbnail_3824E52B-3383-4DB4-87F5-00B2A935A8BA

Before leaving, I took the opportunity to visit the alpacas which had recently been sheared. How could you not love a face like this!

thumbnail_BE595737-4946-4359-9588-56DCD4DBFB4B

The workshop price included a tote bag to take home your crochet sample in and I was really pleased that the yarn that I hadn’t used up during the afternoon was given to me to take home so that I could carry on. Such a good idea as I know if I learn something then I definitely need to keep repeating it or else I’m sure I will forget! Needless to say, as soon as dinner that evening was finished and cleared away, I started another sample again. I’m hooked! Ha!

thumbnail_DD66544A-4D9F-4D8D-8E8B-D5B0EFEA1E52

I’m so glad that I have discovered the joys of knitting and crochet. I feel these more ‘portable’ hobbies are such a lovely way to still be creative but without being tied away at your sewing machine.

Are you #teamknit or #teamcrochet ?

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

(Before I treat myself to a lovely kit from Toft, I decided that it might be a good idea to practice my stripes, so last night I found a free crochet blanket pattern online, and I’m giving it a go using some cheap yarn that won’t matter if I make a few mistakes. I’m currently about 6 or 7 rows in and I’m loving it)!

thumbnail_3BE07319-6AAB-4252-A144-16FEA8AA38EE

Posted on 8 Comments

A Reversible Box Tote Knitting Bag

img_1367

Just before Christmas, my Aunt very kindly sat with me one afternoon and taught me the basics of knitting. Oh my, how I wish we had done this years ago. I have instantly fallen in love with this new hobby, and now grab every opportunity I can to sneak in a few rows ( I’m knitting a scarf, of course), and I’m a little obsessed, I admit.

Of course sewing is my first love, and thinking of how I could combine both these I decided that I wanted to sew up a bag to keep my knitting tidy as it was currently sitting in a pile on the coffee table in everybody’s way.

As with every new project idea, I searched the internet for free sewing patterns that might be ideal, and finally narrowed it down to two that I liked. The one that I chose is the Reversible Box Tote which is a free download from Very Shannon. I loved the shape of this bag, the pockets, and the fact that it is reversible. Another great free pattern that I loved is the Knitting Bag Project from The Sewing Directory. This bucket style bag is quilted and I’m certain that I will come back to this another time as it’s really cute and one knitting bag will not be enough for me I’m sure!

thumbnail_4fcafac7-addf-4d54-8e41-9adfdd408708

I was over the moon with this pattern. The instructions are clear and thorough, and it doesn’t take very long to sew up. I made it in a morning. The fabric is a pretty floral cotton on a navy background which I picked up from Hobbycraft and I chose a coordinating pale blue for the lining.

thumbnail_f965adb7-f190-426d-b1dd-5fa65d2f62b4

I decided to cut two pockets (these are both lined) and placed both of them on the inside of the bag. Although this bag is reversible, I cannot see that I would ever use it with the plain side out, so although the pattern gives you the option to have an outside pocket too, I didn’t. What I did do though was keep one of the pockets open and add a pale pink Kam snap on the other pocket, just in case I wanted a pocket that was more secure. Sadly I caught some of the pale blue fabric in the snap tool when I was squeezing the snap in place and this has left a little oily mark above the pocket. Grrrrrrr.

thumbnail_1c9b24cf-a351-43eb-b234-11ed1784eb89

thumbnail_46664f66-b2b4-4eb4-baf2-3ced532a6bf7
The pale pink snap is such a lovely colour match you can barely see it.

The bag is 14″ high (from the top of the handle), and is 17″ wide, so there is plenty of room for large knitting projects, your pattern, and all the other bits and pieces that are handy to have close by. I have used my pockets to store a tape measure, stitch markers, a row counter, yarn needle and my glasses. The scarf pattern that I am knitting is the Wheat Scarf from Tin Can Knits. It is part of their Simple Collection, which is a range of free beginner knitting patterns, with step by step tutorials if you get stuck.

 

thumbnail_d8c091cd-d7f1-4d80-9304-cd2ae70ec404

thumbnail_a6f217f7-eb93-4a3a-9e0d-bde04e798b99
The knitting needles are precious to me as they used to belong to my Mother. I’m so thankful that I still have them, along with lots more in different sizes.

The only thing that I would advise with this pattern is to use the fusible fleece that is listed in the supplies needed for this bag. I didn’t have the Pellon fusible fleece that was recommended, just regular quilt wadding, and because I didn’t have the patience to quilt it in place on the fabric, I chose to use some firm iron-on interfacing that I had in my stash. Whilst this has done an o.k job, it’s not ideal and long term I think this bag will sag. Bad choice there and I would definitely recommend using the correct materials for the best result guys!

The fiddliest and most time consuming part of the make is attaching the outer bag to the lining. Because this is a reversible bag the raw edges on both the outer bag and lining bag have to be pressed under 1/4″ and pinned into place before stitching to each other. Usually with a lined bag you can quickly machine stitch the two bags together and simply pull it right side out through a little gap that you have left in the lining. Not in this case. However sometimes it is good to slow down and take your time to ensure a nice neat finish. Careful measuring, cutting and accurate seam allowances gave me a really great result on this bag. Instead of pins, I found it easier to use Wonder Clips for this part of the bag construction.

thumbnail_5b40df6c-be61-45d4-a5ff-b48b8ed2ca5a

Finally the really clever thing about the bag is that you can just hook it through your arm and knit on the go -pure genius!

img_1348

Not forgetting some essential accessories..

‘Me Made’ pin badge from Pink Coat Club.

‘Love Knitting’ pin badge from Crafty Pin Up Shop.

img_1376

Huge thanks to Very Shannon for this very generous free PDF download. Are you #teamknit or #teamsew ?

Take care, I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x