So Who Has Won Edward’s Crochet Imaginarium?

Another week, and another giveaway closes. I’m truly sorry that this one was UK-only but don’t worry international folk, there’ll be plenty more sharing-the-yarn-around to come.

So, do you remember me introduciing this marvellous book that’s just been published?

edward's crochet imaginarium book review toft

Within these flip-book pages, you’ll find everything you need to design and create the unique monster of your dreams – or nightmares. Up to you.

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A couple of weeks ago, I posted a review with a contest to win a copy of this fine book. The contest finished yesterday at noon, so it’s high time we found out who’s won, don’t you think? And just in case you don’t get lucky this time, the book is now available to buy in all the usual places – Amazon.co.uk for example.

Edward's Crochet imaginarium

Between here and Facebook, we had 55 entries. The usual Twisted procedure applies: I’ve numbered every entry so that we can consult the oracle that is random.org. So, random.org, pray tell us please who has won this marvellous book? What’s that you say? Number 20? Hurrah!

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…And consulting my list, I’m happy to say that…

The winner is GEMMA!

Congratulations Gemma! I’ll be in touch today to ask for your address, which I can then pass on to the publishers so that they can send you the prize. Happy hooking!

Also a huge thanks to everyone else who entered, and to Pavilion Books for generously providing the prize.

 

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So Who’s Won All These Beautiful KnitPro Needles?

Well goodness, an above-averagely-sized THANK YOU to all 270 of you who entered the KnitPro Royales needle review/giveaway before the gong sounded earlier today.* You left some lovely/funny/witty/kind/interesting comments with your entries, too.

knitpro royales knitters pride

And a great big woolly THANKS to KnitPro for providing the awesome prize. (I made cautious enquiries as to whether they’d be prepared to provide 270 prizes so that everyone could have one: they gave me a look that suggested I was pushing my luck.)

knitpro knitter's pride royales review

So there can be only one winner. As usual, I numbered all the entries before consulting the oracle that is random.org. And the result?

We have a winner!

We have a winner!

Do you recognize yourself in those digits? Well you should if you’re SUE MCDONALD. Congratulations Sue! YOU’VE WON!

I’ll be in touch within the next day or so to ask for your address, so that I can pass it on to the lovely folk at KnitPro. You’re going to love this prize. Happy knitting!

And thanks again to everyone else. If you’re in the UK, there’s still time to enter this giveaway. And don’t worry, there’ll be more competitions soon for everyone. Meanwhile, I’d better go and do some knitting after all that excitement…

knitpro knitter's pride royales review

∗Either here or on Facebook. Apologies for the vanishing Facebook post that caused some confusion. But I mopped up all your various entries from the various corners of the blog’s Facebook page and included them in the draw.

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And Now For Something Completely Different

Ahem.

(By the way, do remember that there’s still time to enter the Edward’s Crochet Imaginarium giveaway.)

I’ve been thinking for a while that I’d like to do something helpful via this blog, something for charity. The idea hadn’t progressed very far when a plan came along of its own accord and plonked itself in my lap. It’s a ludicrous idea, and the friend who suggested it wisely did so after I’d had a couple of glasses of wine, in which state I can be talked into pretty much any kind of shenanigans. If she’d asked me when I was sober, my response would have been a very firm NO. She’s not stupid, my friend. Two glasses down and having taken leave of my senses, I gave her my word that I would help.

So here’s the thing.

On October 9th 2016 I’m going to run the Oxford Half Marathon in aid of the Nasio Trust. That’s 13.1 miles (21.1km) of pure pain. More about the Nasio Trust in a moment. (It occurred to me to walk the entire route, knitting all the way, but that might take rather a long time. Besides, I knit and walk most days, so where’s the challenge in that? Running it is, then.)

running and knitting in public

The cool thing is that I have pockets in my running tights that are big enough to hold a ball of yarn. Sadly I can’t run and knit. YET.

I’ve never in my adult life run a race before – well, apart form the parents’ sprint at the twinnage’s school sports day, in which it’s fair to say that I didn’t cover myself in glory. I’m not built like a runner either mentally or physically, and if the route passes any yarn shops, I’m doomed. But in the year since I got serious about running, I’ve progressed from a gasping, tracksuit-clad, lump of idleness who hated every second of the experience, to one of those contemptible people you avoid because they wear lurid lycra and stare smugly at their fitness trackers to check how many calories they’ve just burned by jiggling up and down in the queue at the Post Office. I no longer hate every second that I spend running. In fact on a good day, I only hate about two seconds out of every three, with the remainder being merely mildly unpleasant. So that’s progress.

Thirteen miles, though! Man, I feel tired from just driving that distance, let alone running. Yet I’ve been quietly clocking up the miles in training. (Ha! I used the word ‘training’! That almost gives it an aura of dignity!) Last week I ran twelve miles in the midday heat, and although I spent the rest of the day feeling like death, I was still – technically – alive. I’m not good at running and I never will be (remember the times I got lost, or fell out of a tree, or had to survive by foraging for blackberries?) but I can run, and I want to put it to some use. I’ve been trying to view it as a bit like knitting: you just have to keep making small movements, over and over and over again, until you get somewhere. Easy! Knitting is a lot less lung-hurty, though.

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So what’s the Nasio Trust? You probably haven’t heard of it, because it’s a relatively small British charity. It works in very deprived rural parts of Kenya, supporting vulnerable and orphaned children in their own communities (rather than isolating them in orphanages) via healthcare, education, and nutrition. The Trust was set up after one of the founders discovered an abandoned baby in a sugarcane plantation, and took the child in to raise him herself. Today, the charity’s aim is to break the cycle of poverty in these areas by equipping children with the skills and confidence that they’ll need to make their own way in the world. Examples of projects completed by the charity include building a fish farm to increase food self-sufficiency amongst local families, or funding schools and healthcare which would otherwise be unavailable to these children.

Nasio Trust

Nasio Trust website

(Oh, and the friend who asked me to run? Her daughter is heavily involved with doing voluntary work for this charity, so I’ve heard and seen via my friend how much amazing work is going on.)

I was in two minds about whether to post about all this on my blog. I didn’t know whether you’d mind. But then I remembered that knitters and crocheters are a big-hearted bunch, so I’m going to say it here: I would be grateful, honoured, and humbled if you would consider sponsoring me for the Oxford Half Marathon in aid of the Nasio Trust. Any amount, however small, would be received with enormous gratitude, and would directly help to improve the lives of disadvantaged children in Kenya.

If you would like to make a donation, however large or small, the page where you can do so is here.

Thank you.

Now, shall we get back to the knitting?

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Giveaway Review: Edward’s Crochet Imaginarium

And another review with a giveaway! Wa-hey! (This is part of a blog tour organized by Pavilion Books – more on that at the bottom of this post.)

So I’m guessing you’ve noticed that there are lots of knitting and crochet books around these days. Like, loads. If you’re as untidy as I am, you probably trip over a pile of them every single time you stand up to water the cat. (See those bruises on my shins? They’re knit-book-related injuries. Life is tough.) Some of these publications are more genuinely ground-breaking than others, it has to be said. But this week, a new crochet book has come out that really is clever in its originality. Meet Edward’s Crochet Imaginarium, by Kerry Lord, published by Pavilion Books in the UK.

edward's crochet imaginarium book review toft

It’s a book about crocheting toys – monsters, specifically – but you get to design the toy. Do you remember those picture books from childhood where all the pages were split horizontally into three so you could interchange the head of a police officer with the torso of a scientist and the legs of a farmer? Well here’s a pattern book that works on the same principle. Genius, huh?

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You’re given the generic pattern for a delightfully pot-bellied torso and a head, and then you flip through dozens of options to choose the style of the legs and feet, the arms and hands, and the embellishments for the head. The pattern for each element is provided opposite its picture, and the spiral binding ensures that the book actually stays open where you left it, at least until your children discover it…

A pretty cool idea, huh? Dang, why didn’t I think of that?

The is the third book by author Kerry Lord, who also runs TOFT yarns in Warwickshire in the UK. So I grabbed some pure wool DK-weight TOFT yarn, and started hooking.

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My monster options were chosen by the twinnage, who are five. I have to say, the book really caught their imaginations and I witnessed some entertaining intra-twinnage debates about the relative merits of webbed feet versus claws. I loved the way that they were thinking this through together, and my hard/cynical ol’ heart melted just a tiny bit…

edward's crochet imaginarium kerry lord toft review

…Which leads me to the thing that I like most about this book. Lord is aiming to be inspirational rather than prescriptive. She wants you to let your imagination off the leash so it can scamper freely all over the place and cause joyful mayhem. In addition to all the potential configurations of body parts, she offers suggestions for making use of colour in your monster, and adding a tail, or hair, and how to make your monster in different sizes. Why, for example, should your monster have only four limbs? And have you considered making it spotty? And there’s a charming gallery of suggestions to inspire you.

edward's crochet imaginarium kerry lord toft review

But this is The Twisted Yarn, and if you’ve loitered in these ‘ere parts afore, you’ll know that I’m prone to getting nit-picketty in my reviews, because nothing is perfect and I want you to know all the pluses and all the minuses before you decide to part with your hard-earned cash. The book is billed as being suitable for anyone, whether they’re a beginner or an expert. I think a beginner would struggle a little though, particularly because the book could’ve used a tad more copy-editing. There are errors and omissions in the patterns that really aren’t a problem if you’re used to working from crochet patterns, but if I was a complete beginner who was still trying to work out which was the business end of the crochet hook, I would have struggled. For example, the generic body pattern doesn’t tell you how to begin, but instead starts with an instruction to work into loops that are already there. Do you see what I mean? No biggy if you’re experienced enough to know what to do anyway, but very confusing if this is your first ever pattern. The wording of the instructions takes a little bit of getting used to, but once you get yourself on a wavelength with the author, you’ll be fine. And there are little minor errors. (I’m not surprised – the amount of work that must have been gone into producing this book just boggles the mind.) An example: foot pattern number twenty talks about hands and fingers, because it’s clearly been copied and pasted from the hand pattern of the same design.

Who cares, though, when you’ve got such an inspirational resource? Just maybe put this book on hold if you really are a total beginner, OK?

edward's crochet imaginarium kerry lord toft review

Now for the giveaway. I’m really sorry but unlike normal, this one is for UK readers only. (If it’s any consolation, you’ve still got plenty of time to enter the KnitPro/Knitter’s Pride needles competition here, regardless of which portion of the planet you call home.) But UK folk, if you would like to win a copy of Edward’s Crochet Imaginarium, leave a comment below. And if you’d like an additional entry, hop over to Facebook, ‘like’ The Twisted Yarn’s page, and leave a comment with some way of contacting you if you win (eg Ravelry username). OK? The contest is open RIGHT NOW until noon GMT on Sunday 25th September 2016. When the giant gong sounds to announce the end of the giveaway, I shall consult the oracle that is random.org to determine the number of the winning entry. I’ll then contact that person to request an address which I will pass on to the publisher so that they can send out the prize. OK?

THIS REVIEW IS PART OF A BLOG TOUR ORGANIZED BY PAVILION BOOKS.

edward's crochet imaginarium kerry lord

I DIDN’T PAY FOR THE BOOK, OR THE YARN. PLEASE ACCEPT MY USUAL DISCLAIMER ABOUT MY FLIGHTY, FICKLE LITTLE HEAD HAVING BEEN TURNED AT THE MERE HINT OF A FREEBIE.

So tomorrow, mosey on over to The Little Room Of Rachell to see her review. And if you fancy travelling back in time, go take a look at yesterday’s review at Crochetime. Enjoy, my fine fibrous friends. 🙂

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Want To Win A Set Of Gorgeous Knitting Needles?

Time for a review and another giveaway, I think*. Let’s talk about knitting needles.

KnitPro (that’s Knitter’s Pride in North America) are busy expanding their range even further. They sent me samples of two of the new products to review: small (2.25mm) short-length fixed circular Symfonies for socks or sleeves, and this splendid set of Royale interchangeable circulars:-

knitpro knitter's pride royales review

But let’s begin with the Symfonies. Many of you will have knitted (or crocheted) with Symfonie needles or hooks at some point, or at least have seen them with their subtly multi-coloured wood. They’re attractive, affordable, and versatile (lots of sizes, medium-grippy). Fixed circulars are nowt new for them, but they’ve just introduced some shorter length (25cm/10″) small needles for knitting socks and sleeves. Sizes go right down to 2mm (US size 0). Here’s the 2.25mm (US size 1) beauty, fresh out of its packaging:-

knitpro knitter's pride fixed circular 2.25mm review

I have to say, though, that I was nervous. I’ve owned 3mm Symfonies before, and most of them have sadly gone to the great needle caddy in the sky because they snap rather easily. Or perhaps I’m just an exceptionally violent knitter. May they rest in peace. (For the small stuff, I use Karbonz these days.) So when these even smaller needles dropped through the letter box, I approached them with a certain terror trepidation. BUT you don’t get to be a knit blogger without fearlessly wrestling the tigers that others wouldn’t dare approach, so in the name of science, I steeled myself, took a deep breath, and picked up the needles (very carefully). And I knitted some socks. And the needles survived. They survived the knitting, they survived the marauding twinnage, and they survived being carried around in my handbag. Being tiny, they were perfect for knitting on the Underground when I popped down to London:-

knitting on the tube

Knitting underground. See that sock yarn? I have some VERY exciting news about it coming within the next couple of posts.

And they DIDN’T SNAP. They’re shorter than regular Symfonies, and y’know I think this is an advantage in the not-snapping department.

They were a joy to knit with. You’ll know the feeling if you’ve used Symfonies before. Made from hardened laminated birch, they’re a lot smoother than – say – those cheap bamboo needles at the back of your cupboard, but not as slippy or as cold/hard as metal needles. Their medium-grippiness makes them fine for pretty much any yarn. They’re nice and sharp, too, which helps in fast and accurate stitchery. The joins from needle to cable are smooth, so even though you might feel the tiniest jagging and snagging as your yarn crosses the boundary between the cable and the metal base of the needle, it’s not enough to be a problem.

knitpro knitter's pride fixed circular 2.25mm review

It’s always difficult to review needles and hooks because personal preference is such a huge part of the equation. But unless you have a total aversion to circulars, I’m willing to bet half a skein of merino that you’d like knitting with these. Mini circulars for socks are an increasing ‘thing’ these days, much to the joy of anyone who dislikes the knitting ninja of DPNs, so these are bound to do well, and with good reason. Just be careful not to sit on them, OK?

*whispers* See this sock yarn? 'Tis new! Here are two shades of the fresh-released Stylecraft Head Over Heels range (75% wool, 25% nylon), REVIEW COMING VERY SOON!

*whispers* See this sock yarn? ‘Tis new! Here are two shades of the fresh-released Stylecraft Head Over Heels range (75% wool, 25% nylon), REVIEW COMING VERY SOON!

So let’s talk about the Royales. They’re rather beautiful, don’t you think?

knitpro knitter's pride royales review

Like Symfonies, they’re made from hardened laminated birch so feel warm to the touch and medium-grippy, but unlike Symfonies, the tips are metal. This set of interchangeables comprises four pairs of needles (3mm, 3.5mm, 4mm, and 4.5mm), with three different cables – each length a different zingy colour – and packs of cable connectors and cable stoppers. Look!

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Even the case is pretty:-

knitpro knitter's pride royales review

Royales – whether straights or circulars – are colour-coded by size for easy identification (and prettiness!) I do like the combination of sharp metal point and warm wood needle. The metal points are the same sharpness as those on the Karbonz needles, great for fast-and-furious accurate knitting.

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Oh, and you know that annoying experience when the size marking wears off your needles after you’ve used them a couple of times? Well KnitPro has wisely addressed that by etching the size into the metal as well as printing it on the wood:-

knitpro knitter's pride royales review

…AND as you can see from this photo, the join between metal and wood is pretty smooth.

The only downside is that unlike the Karbonz, these needles have a teeny tiny little hole on one side of the metal tip. (See the first photo in this blog post, near the bottom of the pink needle.) And even though it’s little more than nought-point-nothing mm across, I somehow managed to jar the tip of the other needle on it almost every flippin’ stitch. This is a very minor gripe, because it’s just a momentary sensation and the hole isn’t large enough to cause a significant problem, but it did interrupt the smoothness of the stitch motion very slightly. (Jeez, I’m nit-picky today. At this rate I’ll be criticizing these beasts at a molecular level.)

You’ll like these needles if you like the warmth and colour and grippiness of wood, but want the speed and precision of sharp metal tips. The colours are pretty and muted. Royales are available as straights, circulars, and DPNs so there should be something in the range to suit your knitting.

Shall we have a giveaway? Yes?!

OK, who’d like to win a set of Royale interchangeable needles worth £40, just like the one pictured in this post? You would? Well here’s your chance.

To win a set just like THIS:-

knitpro knitter's pride royales review

…all you have to do is leave a comment at the bottom of this post.

For an additional entry, ‘like’ TheTwistedYarn’s Facebook page RIGHT HERE and comment under the post there for this blog post with some way of reaching you (e.g. Ravelry username).

Giveaway is open… ready… steady… NOW!!!! …and the final whistle will sound at 12.00 midday (GMT) on Sunday 18th September 2016.

Competition is open worldwide!

When the contest closes, I will use random.org to generate the number of the winning entry, and will contact the winner for their address so that KnitPro can send out the prize.

GOOD LUCK!

 

*Usual disclaimer: I didn’t pay for these needles, so my fickle little head has clearly been turned by a freebie. But just for the record, pretty much every knitting needle I own is KnitPro, so I’m happy to say that I love their products even when I’m paying for them.

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The Mandala Picture: A Free Knitting Pattern

Another free pattern? Really? Well, yes.

Aeons ago, I designed and knitted this large piece of craziness:-

collage 1

I wanted to play with the idea of the mandala, subvert the medium a wee bit, so I knitted a picture of a mandala. The idea of writing up this monster as a pattern was then filed away in Volume XII of the Great To-Do List in the bottom left corner of my brain**, between ‘learn to speak Finnish’ and ‘organize my sock drawer’.

But then a nudging comment on a recent post prompted me to just get on with it. So I did.

Unfortunately my computer then had a temper tantrum, and I lost the lot.

So I typed it in again… all sixteen thousand cells of it, because if it didn’t happen right now, then it was never going to happen. At first, the process was slow and annoying. But then I reached a sort of meditative state of consciousness and all there was in the world was me and the keyboard and that flippin’ chart. It was like the time years ago when my then boyfriend and I took a non-stop bus journey all the way across Canada:** the first fifteen minutes were by far the worst for fidgeting, feeling bored, squabbling, and generally not coping. After that, the remaining four days and intervening nights of the journey were serene and hazy. But I digress.

collage 2

So would you like the pattern? You can stretch the finished thing across a wood frame to hang on the wall, or with smaller borders you can use it to make a cushion. With the border, it’s roughly a metre/yard square.

The pattern? It’s RIGHT HERE!

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*As you can see, I put all those years of neuropsychology training to good use…

**And may I just say how stunningly beautiful and fascinating and friendly and diverse Canada is? Or at least it was in 1993…

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Foraging

What’s a girl to do on the hottest day of the year? Well, besides writing up the pattern for a nice warm, fluffy cowl, I celebrated the road-melting heat on Wednesday by putting on the oven to bake courgette cake and beer bread, before going for a 9-mile (that’s 14.5km) run in the blazing midday sunshine.

sock tease

Stupid? Possibly. But the really stupid thing was being so obsessed with drinking lots of water in the hours pre-run that I forgot to eat. “Oops,” I thought, forced to stop as I waited to cross the road but swaying slightly in a way that would have looked like drunknenness had I not been wearing lycra and a steely glare.

T'was hot. PHOTOS FROM A WALK ON ANOTHER DAY, BECAUSE I CAN'T RUN PROPERLY AND SHOOT.

T’was hot. PHOTOS FROM A WALK ON ANOTHER DAY, BECAUSE I CAN’T RUN PROPERLY AND SHOOT.

A plan was required. I needed blood sugar. Fortunately it’s August, so nature is busy producing food faster than other nature can eat it. A feast of blackberries, elderberries, and bullaces was surely just around the corner. Time to forage.

Oxfordshire in August. Unless you're actually TRYING to find some fruit.

Oxfordshire in August. Unless you’re actually TRYING to find some fruit.

But I was wrong. Obviously I was running along at such enormous speed (ahem) that I may have missed a few delicacies, but for the next mile or so I didn’t see a single thing to eat. Not even a beech tree. (You can eat beech leaves if you’re desperate, but I can tell you that they taste revolting.) So I carried on, getting slower and wobblyer as I went.

Beech.

Beech.

I passed a few houses (some of them beautiful thatched cottages, but I don’t think you can eat thatch, especially thatch that lawfully belongs on top of someone else’s home). And then, overhanging a high wall, was the branch of an apple tree, laden with fruit. I wanted one of those apples so much. There may as well have been a serpent offering me the snack and a sign saying ‘Eden welcomes careful drivers’.

But. The branch was so very high. And I am so very short. And the wall didn’t look like a climber. And there weren’t any handy sticks available to lob at the apples. Defeated, I moved on.

So tasty. But so high up...

So tasty. But so high up…

I did eventually find some blackberries, but they were right beside the busiest road on my route, and I’d paid far too much attention in childhood to my mother’s warnings about the dangers of polluted roadside fruit. That said, I grew up in the ‘70s and ‘80s, so I inhaled so much lead on the walk to school each day that it’s amazing that thieves haven’t stolen my head. All that lead would explain why I’m so heavy, anyway…

Those blackberries looked shrivelled, grim, and dusty. I ate a very few, just enough to ensure a bit more energy and a bit less life expectancy. They were… oddly gritty. But they were fuel at least, and they kept me going for the next couple of miles.

Not the finest. :-(

Not the finest. 🙁

It was quite near the end of my run when I came across a small patch of disused ground, covered in the most exuberant brambles you could imagine. The blackberries were huge. I dived in. The blackberries tasted sweet and gorgeous. But three unfortunate things should be pointed out here:-

Thing the first: Spiky overgrown brambles and lycra running gear are not a winning combination. It seems there’s a reason why marathon routes hardly ever pass through bramble patches.

Hedgerow damsons. Conspicuously absent when I needed them.

Hedgerow damsons. Conspicuously absent when I needed them.

Thing the second: Eight hungry miles into a nine mile run and a bit shaky with low blood sugar, my ‘table’ manners may not have been the best, and blackberry juice does tend to stain rather impressively on both skin and clothes. Fortunately I was wearing a purple top so I should at least score one point for that. My skin isn’t naturally purple, however…

Elderberries! Also missing from my run. :-(

Elderberries! Also missing from my run. 🙁

Thing the third: This was a respectable neighbourhood that I was running/foraging in. The sort of neighbourhood where, just as I stumbled out of the blackberry bushes, swearing loudly at the thorns that were tearing at my lycra, my face red (from the run) and purple (from the blackberries), panting from the exertion of the run, and not entirely steady on my feet, just at that exact moment, an extremely serious-looking and smartly-dressed woman of – at a guess – 80 came round the corner, striding fast despite the fact that she also carried a walking stick. She looked at me. I looked at her.

Clouds: also conspicuously absent whilst I ran.

Clouds: also conspicuously absent whilst I ran.

For a coward like me, there was only one possible thing to do.

I made a run for it.

 

 

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Free Colourful Cowl Pattern!

OK, would you like the free pattern for this fairisle cowl that I designed?

cowl collage 1

You would? Well there’s a link to the pattern near the bottom of this post. Enjoy!

It’s a fairly generous one size, that would fit an adult or teen.

The version in the pictures was made using all 16 shades of Stylecraft Batik, but of course you could use fewer colours, or indeed a different DK/light-worsted yarn entirely. The cowl is worked in the round, so although you’ll have a fair few ends to weave in, there’s no purling fairisle and no seams. Hurrah!

So what are you waiting for? Apart from yarn, and more time, and the opportunity to finish all your other projects first. Oh, and I’m sorry to have to tell you but I think the cat has just pooped behind the sofa…

cowl collage 2

You want to see the reverse/inside of the cowl? Here ya go:-

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Anyway, to the pattern! Drum-roll, please:-

Click here for the pattern!

OK? Shout if you have any problems. I may not necessarily be able to solve them, but I can nod sympathetically…

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Giveaway Winners? Giveaway Winners!

So, to the Stylecraft giveaway. Do we have some winners? WE HAVE SOME WINNERS, OH YES!

Wow, a big fluffy THANK YOU for the 232 entries you submitted here and on the ‘Yarn’s Facebook page, and for the enthusiastic/kind/funny/interesting comments that you left in your entries. And THANK YOU to Stylecraft for providing the prizes.

So that means that the pattern for THIS COWL will be coming next post...

So that means that the pattern for THIS COWL will be coming next post…

So at midday on Sunday, the giant gong sounded, signalling the end of the giveaway. Did you hear it? I guess not, given that it’s made of yarn – a fatal design flaw that I should probably have foreseen – and is thus almost completely silent.

As I did for previous giveaways in these ‘ere parts, I allocated each entry a number, and then used the random number generator at random.org to pick the winners. Would you like to see the results?

Well, of the 232 entries, 136 were for the UK contest, and 96 were for the non-UK contest*. Let’s find out who’s won the UK prizes (£10-worth of Stylecraft vouchers) first…

Wa-hey! Rolling the 136-sided dice, we have…

ran5

So who is the mysterious, shadowy Person 19, and the equally mysterious Person 96?

Step forward into the spotlight, Rainbow Junkie, and Sue Jameson! Congratulations! Would you like to make a speech? No, please don’t cry! I’ll be in touch to request your contact details (unless you get on the keyboard to thetwistedyarn@outlook.com first), and will then pop your prizes in the post. Happy yarn shopping!

Now for the non-UK contest. Two winners each win two Stylecraft bags and Stylecraft keyrings. Where’s that 96-sided dice when you need it? Ah, here it is. OK, ready?

ran6

Look! It’s entrant 5 and entrant 75! So who are the people hiding behind the numbers?

Take a bow, Jan Wilesmith, and Sandy! Again, I’ll be in touch today to request your contact details so that I can post those happy prizes out. Congratulations!

And to everyone else, I’m sorry that you weren’t successful this time, but I have plenty more Stylecraft vouchers sitting here just longing for a good home, so there’ll be more giveaways coming soon.

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Prizes!

∗ The teeny-weeny number of entrants who forgot to say whether they were UK or non-UK were placed in the non-UK category, as the UK prizes aren’t valid in the rest of the world whereas the non-UK prizes are just fine and dandy anywhere.

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Stylecraft Batik Yarn Review

It’s about time I published a review of Batik, Stylecraft’s brand new yarn. (Disclaimer: I didn’t pay for the yarn, so clearly my fickle head has been turned by this freebie and not a single word of the following is to be trusted.)

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I wanted to thoroughly road-test the yarn before I wrote this, so I got the knitting needles out and started designing something that incorporated all sixteen shades:-

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You know what you need in the heat of August? A nice warm, fluffy cowl, that’s what. So I designed one, just in case the sun disappeared behind a cloud and it started to SNOW. Stranger things have happened. The cowl pattern will be available very soon, in case you want one too.

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We were away for ten days, you see, first staying in a cottage in the wilds of the North York Moors, and then – after a seven-hour drive – staying with dear friends in their beautiful old south west Wales cottage. The perfect opportunity to knit without guilt. The perfect opportunity to let my imagination off the lead, so that it could scamper about in the undergrowth and come up with lots of nature-inspired patterns.

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I knitted everywhere.

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And then I re-knitted, over and over again, because I kept changing my mind about the pattern. But that was part of the fun.

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Anyway, let’s talk about the yarn.

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Batik is a DK-weight (i.e. light worsted) blend of 80% acrylic and 20% wool. Just to cover the basics, it’s available in 50-gram balls, with a recommended hook/needle size of 4mm (US size 6), gauge 22 sts per 10cm/4 inches. But that’s not what you came here to read, is it?

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There are 16 shades in the range, and they do work rather well together.

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The yarn has a painted effect, each shade mottling with white. I think this makes it ideal for fairisle/stranded colourwork – much better than solid colours – but the mottling effect is not subtle, so I needed to make sure that for each section of the pattern, I picked two shades that really really contrasted, to avoid the pattern looking like a blurry muddle.

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There’s a high degree of twist to this yarn, which was a deliberate decision by the folk at Stylecraft HQ to create a product that’s ideal for crochet as well as for knitting.

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And I have to say that it’s a pleasure to work with, although I do hope they expand the colour range further. If you want a very affordable (£1.99 in the UK) acrylic-based yarn, I absolutely recommend Batik. It looks good, the colours are rich and intense, and Stylecraft are super-hot on the consistency and quality of their products (I saw their testing lab) so you can trust what you’re getting.

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Right, I’d better go and write up that cowl pattern, hadn’t I? Is it snowing yet?

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