Sunday, February 28, 2016

Yarn review - Fat Bubba by Melanie Porter

Following on from my review of Melanie Porter's book 'Big Needle Knits' the other week I was having a lovely chat with the lady herself over on Twitter and she offered to send me a sample ball of her amazing Fat Bubba wool to have a play with.

Fat Bubba was born when Melanie tried unsuccessfully to source top quality super bulky British wool for her chunky knit projects so she decided to create her own!

Fat Bubba is hand spun and lightly felted and so unbelievably soft it just begs to be knitted up into beautifully squishy accessories or blankets. It is available in a small range of contemporary colours. Mini fat bubbas (250g /approx 36m) are perfect for a hat or cowl whilst the larger 500g balls would knit up a longer scarf or a cushion. A blanket may require 2 or 3 large balls -  which at £50 each makes for quite an expensive project but it would certainly introduce a touch of luxurious style to your home.

Fat Bubba weighs in at approximately 15m per 100g. It doesn't sound like a lot of yardage but when combined with extra large needles a little goes a long way!

My sample ball was approx 20m - and was the most glorious egg yolk yellow colour! Using 25mm needles I cast on 4 stitches and knit 30 rows which left me just enough yarn to lace the two ends of my knitting together to form a tube. One super snuggly cowl in 15 minutes! If quick knits are your thing you can't get much quicker than that!!

Fat Bubba yarn by Melanie Porter is available to order through her website or Etsy shop where you can also buy custom made super chunky needles to knit it up with.
 If you fancy having a go at making your own fat wool Melanie includes full instructions on how to do so in her latest book 'Big Needle Knits'

*disclaimer - Melanie sent me some Fat Bubba to try because she is just a lovely person, I decided to review it here because it is fab!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

What's on my needles - February

Hello! Can you believe we are over half way through February already? It will be spring before we know it! (I do hope so!!) Not unsurprisingly I have been using the coldest, greyest winter month as an excuse to encase myself in super chunky wool with not one but two blankets on my needles right now!

The first - a pretty lap blanket in three coloured linen stitch - I introduced in my last post. It's growing quite nicely into a pastel coloured dream of squishyness (probably not a word but I like it ). Both cats have shown a lot of interest in this one and I can't help thinking that they may be taking total advantage of it once it's finished if I leave it lying around unattended...

My second blanket is the Koselig Blanket from Wool and the Gang -  yup that's the one I designed for GangLabs. It's been well over 18 months since I spent the hottest week of the year knitting up the sample. I'm still not entirely sure how I managed to knit those huge cosy panels without melting away - a good ceiling fan and plenty of rocket lollies may have been involved - but it is certainly a much more pleasant experience this time around.  To make the task even easier Wool and the Gang have now sourced 25mm circular needles which means it is possible to knit the whole blanket in one go rather than in panels! Yay!!

From 25mm needles to 2.5mm needles. My Blue Skies Sock Club socks are coming along a treat too, helped greatly by being the only current project portable enough to take with me when I went to my parent's house with Riley for a few days. I love how this pattern flows -  it's so intuitive that I have barely needed the pattern for sock number 2 (no second sock syndrome here. Oh no!) . Only half a foot to go so I should be able to finish them before the next instalment arrives in the next couple of weeks...

Although I haven't managed to finish the socks I started in January, the two other projects I shared in my January 'What's on my Needles' post are finished. The Fox Jacket turned out beautifully and is probably the fastest knit adult sized garment I have ever made! It is so soft and luxurious (all that lovely silk, baby alpaca and kid mohair). It's been keeping me warm and cosy on the most chilly winter nights and is so comfy I may have fallen asleep with it on at least twice...

The #naturesshades project is also finished and I am currently working on a pattern and will post more on this another time (if you really want to see it now though you can nip along to the project page on my Ravelry) Also don't forget to check out all the finished objects for this KAL over on the BritYarn Ravelry forum. There you will find an array of patterns all knitted in gorgeous natural, undyed shades of (mostly) British wool. What a wonderful way to celebrate our woolly heritage!

Id love it if you would share what's on your needles (or hook) for February - please feel free to leave links to your own blog posts or Ravelry project pages so I can have a look! (Only relevant links please - Any spam comments WILL be deleted!)

Happy crafting x

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Book Review :: Big Needle Knits

Big Needle Knits

By Melanie Porter


Published by Cico books

Melanie Porter, best known for her amazing knitted upholstery, is no stranger to knitting with huge needles and in Big Needle Knits she shares 35 fabulous projects - ranging from small (ish) accessories to huge squishy blankets - all using super bulky yarns and needle sizes from 10mm up to custom made 35mm (that's like a broom handle!)

The book is divided into three sections. Chunky textures includes patterns for smaller accessories - a lovely clutch bag, a little purse, headband, scarves, hats and a fabulous blanket. Lighter Knits features projects using fabric yarns and includes summer tops, rag bracelets and lightweight floaty cowls and scarves.  The third section - Mega Knits - focuses on those super chunky yarns and mega sized needles for statement pieces that grow really quickly. I adore the Infinity Cowl knitted in Lion Brand  Quickie yarn!

There is a comprehensive section at the back with all the knitting techniques you will need which makes this book ideal for beginners (although I have to say huge needles are not the easiest to work with if you are a true beginner. Especially if you have small hands!) Melanie even lists a few yarn alternatives and suppliers AND shows you how to make your own fabric yarn and fat wool from roving (it involves wearing wellies in the bathtub! That fact alone makes me want to try it!!).

I decided to have a go at the lovely three colour linen stitch blanket in section one, using some Drops Eskimo wool I had in my stash and 15mm needles.

Just to demonstrate how quickly these Big Needle Knits work up the picture shows the result of about 4 hours work...

With a bit of dedication, and a good box set on TV, it would be perfectly feasible to produce a whole blanket in a weekend.

Now that's the kind of project I like!

Big Needle Knits is a great introduction to using the jumbo needles and wool that seem to be so popular at the moment and the book will appeal to newbies and more experienced knitters alike. It would be a great addition to any knitters library.

Find out more about Melanie Porter here 
Find out more about Cico Books here

Big Needle Knits was sent to me by Cico Books for the purpose of this review. All words and pictures are my own :) 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What's on my needles - January

Selfish knitting

If November and December are mostly about knitting presents for friends and family  then January is all about selfish knitting. That's right, knits that are just for me!

Thursday, January 07, 2016

2016 Learn something new!

Happy New Year lovely readers! I hope you have all had a fabulous festive season full of love, joy, family, friends and chocolate!

Now we are all ready to spring into 2016 full of energy and intention. Ready to face the world, take on new challenges, embrace the things we love and change the things we don't! Hurrah!! (Yes? No? Ok finish the Christmas chocolates first...)

I'm not one for New Year's resolutions- if you really want to make changes why wait until the calender changes? That said the Christmas holidays offer a perfect opportunity to take stock, look back and decide what needs to be done next...

Last year actually turned out alright -  I absolutely rediscovered my knitting mojo and my design for Wool and the Gang -  The Koselig Blanket -  became a best seller. I also self published my first pattern on Ravelry (Lost in the Forest Mitts) inspired by the lovely Cornish Tin from Blacker Yarns.
My partner's business also had a better year than it's  had for a long time as people actually started buying motorbikes again! I finally managed to lose some weight;  we gained a new kitty family member; the house didn't fall down and our camper van made it through it's MOT so all in all not a bad year (about time too as the previous few years have been a bit pants lol!).

A little bit of my stash. Just a little bit. I don't have a problem. Honest.
Lots of tidying and sorting has been happening through 2015 too - not least of which involved my yarn stash.  To be fair it's got a bit out of hand. I'm not saying I have too much yarn (is there such a thing as too much yarn? I think not...) but I do have more than enough to keep me knitting for years to come so this year I have made a promise that I will not buy anymore yarn UNLESS it's for a specified project and will be used straight away. No more stash building for at least a year...
There are also many knitty techniques I want to learn in 2016 -  toe-up socks, brioche, double knitting, top down sweaters, continental style knitting whilst purling (why is that so tricky?) so plenty of excuses to cast on lots of lovely projects throughout 2016 and plenty of opportunities to use some of that stash.

But what I want to master this year, more than anything else, is spinning with my drop spindle.
I want to turn fluff into beautiful yarn and knit with it.
I have tried previously - and blogged about it here - but after an initial burst of enthusiasm finding the time and the opportunity to continue has eluded me.
Like many things it's practice that makes perfect so I am going to aim for just a few minutes a day (preferably when the cats are out side -  Have you ever tried using a drop spindle with a cat in the room?). It's possible I won't  manage everyday but I will do my best to devote just 15 minutes a day to practising. 15 minutes. That's all. I'm sure I can manage that!*

I have often thought that regular practice in small chunks is more effective and easier to maintain than the occasional big chunk of time - especially if you have a busy family life/job to juggle around. So what new skill would you like to learn? Why not try just 15 minutes a day (or as often as you can) and see what you can achieve in 2016?  Maybe you want to learn to draw or doodle; write a novel or poetry; play a musical instrument; learn to crochet, knit, needlefelt or some other craft?

If you'd like to join me on Instagram tag me (@theforestflower) and use the hashtag #15minutesaday so we can share our progress and offer support. I can't wait to see what new skills you master this year!

*if anyone can suggest any books/tutorial videos or blogs that might help me on my spinning journey PLEASE leave a comment below. Any help gratefully received!

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Checking in...

Wow - I cannot believe it's been 6 weeks since I last blogged!

Things have been pretty busy around here so here's a little update on everything we've been up to in October...

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Happy Birthday Blacker Yarns!

picture courtesy of Blacker Yarns
Blacker Yarns are celebrating their tenth anniversary at their Cornish woollen mill in Launceston this month by releasing a limited edition yarn they have named Cornish Tin, spun from ten different fibres to create one gorgeous, soft and bouncy yarn that is a pleasure to knit with.

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