18 April 2011

Is that a goose in your pen, or are you just quacky to see me?

Yesterday was a day as idylic as they get for me.

I took the day off crocheting (mostly) and went home to see my family on what is slowly but surely becoming a farmyard. I spent a very happy hour and a half, weeding the flowerbeds (Which, at home is called "herding the spiders" as there are so many among the stones, it seems most of your time is spent watching spiders flee, and very little time is spent actually pulling up the intermittant weedlings).

My Mam came out and helped a bit, and my cousin dropped in to say Hi to her Dad, who was helping my Dad put a stairs into the shed's loft, and she helped a bit with the weeding, too. I know, sometimes, it really feels like we're Amish or something!

But! The big surprise at home was the arrival of 6 new siblings. I am now the eldest of 9 children, with the addition of 6 fuzzy, fluffy, tweeping little goslings.

Introducing Dave, Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch:



They are farmyard geese, which, apparently means that they won't grow normally huge wings, but will be naturally small-of-wingspan, ensuring they won't fly away and get hurt on the road or anything. They currently occupy a section of the wooded copse beside my parent's house, have lots of lovely grass to run around in:



A small bath to splash in:



And a Mom, Nell, to look out for them. She's actually been very good so far. She barks at them occasionally, has had her inquisitive nose nipped a few times through the wire, but I reckon they'll all get on like a house on fire when they get the run of the whole copse:



They love, LOVE to be fed by hand. This is my gloved hand, having picked some grass at my feet. It's amazing how instantly interesting it becomes, just 'cause it's being offered. And just look at those fuzzy wuzzy little heads!



And they are as interested in EVERYTHING:



I wasn't inside the pen two seconds when they started to peck at the buckle on the side of my wellies, when I bent down, I had a goose attached to each sleeve, and a third trying its hardest to get at my hair.

So, yea, this is fair warning. I will be all about the geese for the next few months.

11 April 2011

Ode to some lost Malabrigo

I know you're in here somewhere, inside this messy flat,
I'm bound to find you someday; you're not as lost as that.

But where you are eludes me, it's come as quite a shock,
I put you down, and now you're gone, my Malabrigo Sock!

You're meant to be a shawl, you know, purple, big and smart,
It's half-done and already it's quite the work of art.

I can't get any more of you; the shop is all sold out,
The loss of you has made me blue, I have to scream and shout!

If you want to tell me where you are, that would be so much betta',
I miss my lovely colourway: Africana Violetta!

07 April 2011

How To Make - Hill of Tara Shawl Pin

I got my copy of Inside Crochet 17 this morning, and, sitting down, in my dressing gown, with a cup of coffee, I whiled away a lovely hour or two reading it, and occasionally feigning surprise when I came across one of my patterns therein.

But, I did notice that the magazine hadn't had enough room to include the photo tutorial I had sent in on how to make the willow shawl pin I had used to pin Hill of Tara in place.

So, to save everyone from frustration, I have decided to add it here.
I hope it helps.

Hill of Tara Shawl


The best wood to use for a simple brooch like this is willow. I have used weeping willow for this tutorial, but any willow will work, if you learn to handle it correctly.

An important thing to remember before you begin, is that willow grows wild in many areas. Please don't harvest wild willow. As with many trees, it is very easy to introduce diseases to a tree if it's pruned incorrectly.

The best time to select and cut your willow withy would be after the leaves have all dropped, and before the buds begin to appear again. This is when the sap has retreated back into the heart of the tree and the branches will be less brittle, but this is not essential.

Select a withy no shorter than 1.5 meters, and no thicker than a pencil at the top. The tip should not be dead wood, either. With a sharp seceters, cut the withy diagonally across. If you can, cut a few withys in case your willow cracks.

willow brooch, step 1, how to make a brooch

Making the brooch:
Starting at the thicker end, create a simple knot, taking care not to over-stress the wood. You may find it easier to gently bend the withy gently several times in the direction you will be knotting it before you attempt the knot.


willow brooch, step 2, how to make a brooch

Thread the tip through the knot, twisting it around the ring formed by the knot. Continue to do this until one round is completed. This should take about 3 wraps.

willow brooch, step 3, how to make a brooch

From here, it's just a case of following the wrap around again, and again until you are left with approx. 6 inches of thin wood at the tip.

willow brooch, step 4, how to make a brooch

willow brooch, step 5, how to make a brooch

Holding the live wood with your thumb, wrap the tip gently but tightly in a ring over all the wraps. Secure the tip in place by threading it under the ring and ensuring it's tightened. Pull gently but firmly to ensure a tight knot. The willow will dry out and contract over time, so a tight knot now will ensure it doesn't become loose later on.

willow brooch, step 6, how to make a brooch

willow brooch, step 7, how to make a brooch

willow brooch, step 8, how to make a brooch

This can be used straight away, but it is recommended that it be left to dry out and “set” before the tip and top are neatened up with a seceters.

willow brooch, step 9, how to make a brooch

willow brooch, step 10, how to make a brooch

How to use the brooch:
To hold brooch in place, take a wooden hair stick, push through the centre of the brooch, into the fabric of the shawl.

Thread the stick out the fabric of the shawl and across the opposite side of the brooch. The weight of the shawl should hold the stick and shawl together.

willow brooch, step 11, how to make a brooch

06 April 2011

Name the Shawl

I have had my nose stuck in the first sample of a new pattern for the last few days. I'm designing it with the express purpose of ensuring I look classy as all hell at a wedding I'm attending this year, and what, I ask you, is more glam than a dove-grey shoulder shawl, designed and crocheted by the wearer?

I trust this will help "dress up" whatever slightly barmy and colourful dress I end up buying for the occasion. (My mother is always so polite about my choices, but I can tell she'd rather I just found a little black dress and stuck to it!)

lace shawl, crochet lace, free pattern competition, Rialto 4-ply, dove grey

I'm really pleased with this so far, actually. The lace trim is coming out nicely in a fan shape, the picots are looking plentiful and cheerful, and the main body, once blocked will be full of holes (intentional) and will look impressive with the right shawl pin added at the shoulder. I can't wait until I get it finished and blocked. The lace just unfolds to nicely!

But, what I don't have, yet, is a name. Usually at this stage, I have it pinned down (pun, unindented, but welcome), but this is e-luuuu-ding me something awful. I'm therefore hoping that you guys have more luck with the inspiration.

As a guide; references to poetry, places and people are all welcome. Something kinda grown-up without sounding boring, is what I'm in the market for. And, of course, the winner will recieve a copy of the finished pattern, including lots of gloriously clear charts, and a pick of one of my other patterns, too*.

lace shawl, crochet lace, free pattern competition, Rialto 4-ply, dove grey

Competition will be open for one week, so tell all your friends!

*excluding those recently published in magazine-form. I don't have the rights to them back, yet...

Note: Enter as often as you like. Entries must be posted in reply to this blog post, so I can keep them all together.

01 April 2011

What a Day!

As you may, or may not have noticed, it has been an exceptional few days here at Yarn Towers.

Firstly, my free crochet top pattern Happy Monday was picked up by Crochet Pattern Central, resulting in a HUGE influx of visitors. I mean, seriously enormous.

blog stats

Secondly, I discovered that I am now the proud author of not one, but two patterns in Issue 17 of Inside Crochet

There is Tessera, a motif-based cami which oddly enough, was originally inspired by my watching way, way too much Legend of the Seeker in a short space of time...

Tessera, crochet top, cami, motif, grey, magazine, Naturespun Fingering, 4-ply


And Hill of Tara, which is a simple pattern, perfect for beginners looking for their first big project and which actually works up very fast.

Hill of Tara, crochet shawl, magazine, simple pattern, stripes, colourful, colorful, self-striping yarn, Aran

I had a great time designing both of these, and I'm so immensly pleased to see them side-by-side in the magazine.

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