Plans, summer and… crafting

It’s all new: activities, projects, mood, targets, plans…
It seems this summer is bringing along a lot of changes… and I’m always thrilled when it comes to changes!!!

First of all, as some of you may already know, I made a video tutorial for my shawl Maestrale. I have a Youtube channel now, and… well, it makes me laugh every time I think about that. It wasn’t planned at all, but it happened. Some people asked me to make a video tutorial and I plunged in the filming sea. I couldn’t imagine it was so hard to make a 30 minutes video. The camera, the zoom, the lights, the editing (oh dear, the editing!), the voice and my poor laptop screaming the whole night in pain!
Yes, I didn’t (and I don’t) have the right equipment a vlogger should have. The camera I used for filming was almost 10 years ago. A nice camera (Canon Eos 500 D), but still old. I had to buy a microphone and some lights, but the best thing was filming during the night, when my kids were finally fast asleep. Recording the whole thing, getting to the last 20 seconds when I just had to end the tutorial and then… getting thunderstorms, lightning and heavy rain popping in. Oh thank you my beloved Dutch summer!

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Anyway, I survived, and now I’m even thinking about making other video tutorials. I’d really like to make something to help Italian knitters and crocheters out there who don’t speak English or just cannot read an English pattern. It’d be something very new and I really like the idea of introducing the international World of knitting and crochet to my own country.

In the meanwhile, I’m making an Italian version of my Maestrale pattern and see what happen. And, for those of you who already saw my video: did you notice that shawl on the dummy at my back? That’s my latest project. The pattern is ready, only the pictures are missing but I’m going to have a nice shooting next week. My test knitters are working very hard to finish everything in time, and I really hope I can publish the pattern for the end of this month, so you can all carry along with you a sweet memory of this summer (“Summer? Anybody said summer?”, asked Mr. Dutch Weather).

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Beside the pattern launch, I also have some plans for my holidays. Well, first of all, I’m going on holiday with my family, and that’s already a good point scored. When? Somewhere between the second and the forth week of the month. Where? Now, that’s a difficult question. I’d love to go back to Norway, this time around Bergen, Alesund and Molde. I’m in love with Norway, and I’d truly want to see it better than the last time (a cruise? Never again!). Unfortunately I think we have to give up for this year, but I’m determined to go sooner than later! So we’re focusing on the Italian Dolomites, that paradise around Bolzano and Trento where you can enjoy that mountain experience nowhere else to be found. It’ll be lovely and (I hope) very relaxing.

And then, last but not least, I’ll be joining Andrea Mowry’s MKAL What the Fade. So I finally can get my hands on some gorgeous Hedgehog Fibers. Ah! Yarn bliss! I can’t wait! And… oh yes, of course, I have another project going on with Scheepjes Whirl, but I can’t say much, it’ll be a surprise!

What are your plans for this summer? Let me know in your comments!
Happy crafting!!!

Giorni di Sole – Sunny Days

Rain is pouring down in my beautiful city today, so I feel like talking about sunny days (to come soon, I hope!).
A couple of days ago I released another pattern called Giorni di Sole, which in Italian means, guess what, sunny days.

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It’s a square blanket, originally designed to be a baby blanket. Being a granny square blanket, though, it’s very customizable. I’ve only made 49 squares and arranged them in a 7 x 7 square, but it can be made in any number of squares arranged in every kind of way. It features a central motif, a yellow sun, surrounded by a contrasting color (the sky) and bordered in white.

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The yarn I’ve used is Scheepjes Colour Crafter which is a nice acrylic yarn that comes in lots and lots of different shades. Again, the blanket can be realized in any kind of yarn, of any weight, color and brand. The great great merit about Giorni di Sole, is that it can be used as a stash burner. The only thing to consider is to make all the square in the same size, otherwise the blanket will pull and curve in strange and funny ways when the squares are joined together.

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This could be the perfect gift for Christmas as well: try to imagine it done in 2 colors only: yellow and dark blue, or white and black. The central motif would look gorgeous in yellow or white on a dark blue or black background. It’ll become a magical starry sky!!! This kind of color combination would also be perfect for picky teenagers.

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The pattern is available here or on Ravelry as a free download. There is also a handy photo tutorial here on how to join the squares of the blanket, so that it can be done very quickly.

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So, are you ready to hook your first square? Let me know what you think about it and keep me posted also on Instagram. In the meanwhile, I’m working on a video tutorial for my Maestrale shawl and on another shawl pattern, this time knitted! You can see some sneak peaks on my Insta account!
Happy crafting, have fun and… well, wish me sunny days!!!

Stitch Anatomy – Crochet: Front and Back Loops

One of the most common question crocheters have asked me is: Shall I go into one or both loops of the stitch?

The answer is, as always, it depends.

The standard way of crocheting is going into both loops of the stitch. This gives a smooth and flat piece. Crocheting into only one loop of the stitch gives a different result. Let’s first take a look at the stitch to understand exactly what a loop is.

At the top of every stitch there is a sort of V. The two legs of the V are the two loops of the stitch, called front or back loop according to their position.

Normally both loops are used, which means that the hook will go underneath both loops at the same time, as shown here.

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To work a back loop only stitch, the hook will go underneath the back loop like this.

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To work a front loop only stitch, the hook has to be inserted in the stitch like this.

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Going underneath only one loop of the stitch leaves the other loop unused. This unused loop shows in the work as a little line. Working into the back loop only leaves that line in the front of the work while the back stays flat.

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Working into the front loop only gives the same line in the back of the work while the front stays flat.

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Which one to choose then? Front, back or both loops? As I said before, it depends on the effect you want to achieve. If you want more texture, go for one loop at a time, if you want to crochet a flat piece just use both loops. When you are following a pattern, the author will tell you what to do, so don’t worry. If there’s no mention of loops (back or front) you can relax and crochet into both loops (some people find it easier!).

But what about the chain?
It’s, again, a personal choice, there’s no right or wrong. I always use both loops of my starting chain to build my first row of stitches as it looks smoother. When I turn my work and I have to work in the turning chain I always try to go underneath both loops as the chain doesn’t stretch to much and doesn’t leave holes.

Tips: if you want to add a line to your work for every row, work the first row in the back loop only, then turn and work in the front loop only. This creates horizontal lines on the right side.

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What’s your style? Have you ever tried to crochet in one of the two loops only? What do you think?

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway on Instagram! It’s closing in 2 days!
Sorry for the poor quality of the pictures but it’s been very gloomy and dark in the Netherlands these days, not the best weather for indoor photography!

Yarn review: Scheepjes Whirl

One of the most popular yarn at the moment, Scheepjes Whirl never stops to amaze, coming up with brand new colors and beautiful patterns from Scheepjes bloggers.

Like many others out there, I couldn’t resist these gorgeous cakes, so I treated myself to a couple of them. And I don’t regret it at all! They are sitting gracefully on my shelf in my craft room like candies in a jar for my eyes. But why all this uproar? Let’s take a closer look at this yarn.

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Description

Whirl is a fingering weight yarn (4 ply) made of 60% cotton and 40% acrylic.
It comes in a cake of 225 gr and it has a yardage of 1094 yds (about 1000 mt). Scheepjes recommend to use a 3,5 – 4 mm hook (size E – G). It’s machine washable on gentle cycle.
It’s a gradient yarn, made of different threads joined together for a smooth transition.
At the moment, Whirl is available in 17 colors with more to be launched in the near future. Each cake has a Easy Start center pull. The average price for each cake is about 25€ (20£).

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The first thing you’ll notice of this yarn is, of course, the colors. It goes from the subtle violet-white of Lavanderlicious to the bright rainbow of Jumpin Jelly. It’s easy to decide to buy one cake but picking up a shade could be one of the most difficult choice of your creative life. There’s really a shade for everyone, even the black-grey of Liquorice Yumyum for those who don’t fancy screaming colors. Be careful, though. This is a dangerous yarn. Several people even reported they have experienced a sweet voice in their heads whispering “I should buy them all”. Yes, it could be addicting. I know it well as I’m experiencing it at the moment, but I must confess I like it!

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Once you are lucky enough to actually touch the cake, you’ll get a nice surprise: it’s soft, but of that softness you wouldn’t expect from a cotton blend yarn. Try not to squeeze the cake too much, if you can.

The thread is nicely twisted, promising a good stitch definition. Scheepjes says the ends between color changes are knotted together, but it’ll be hard to see these knots; you’ll probably notice a little fuzziness where the threads are joined together, but it’ll completely disappear in your stitches. These are not abrupt color changes: the different threads are twisted together, creating new shades, blending into each other and guiding the eyes through a smooth gradient transition.

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And then Whirl will give you another nice surprise: it’s not splitty. Cotton and cotton blends yarns tend to be splitty as the organic or manufactured fiber don’t stick to each other well as natural fibers do. But here Scheepjes has done a great job by twisting them, so it’s truly a pleasure to knit or crochet with this yarn.

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Another great feature of Whirl is the yardage: there’s 1 km of yarn, enough to complete a big shawl, a cardigan, a dress or a blanket. The only thing you need to do is find a pattern, take your hook or needles, and start your project, without worrying about color changes or yardage. Whirl will think about everything and let you enjoy your crafting times.

Tips

Think about the construction of your pattern before starting your cake. Remember that Whirl has a center pull but you can also start from the outside. You may want to choose which color in the cake will be predominant, the outer one or the inner one. For example, in a bottom up shawl, the starting color will be predominant.

Check out my free crochet pattern for Whirl ==> Maestrale

Please let me know if this review was useful for you and tell me about your experience with Whirl and your favorite colors. Are you following my Instagram account? If not, please hurry! I have a very very nice surprise coming up this week!
Have fun with your Whirl!

— This review is NOT sponsored by Scheepjes —

 

 

 

Maestrale

And here we are, finally ready to click that missile button called “Publish this pattern to Ravelry”

Yes, writing pattern is hard work at the moment, but I really like it. Sharing the knitting and crochet experience is fantastic. I find fascinating the whole idea that someone could use my instruction to make what I made, it’s like crafting together!

You can find the pattern here or on Ravelry.

The video tutorial is here!

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This shawl is crocheted. It’s called Maestrale, and it’s inspired by the strong wind that blows in the Mediterranean Sea, especially in Sardinia. This shawl is a gift, like everything I knit or crochet. It’s a gift for my mother in law and she lives, of course, in Sardinia.

I love the shawl, the color, the construction and the overall effect. I can be casual, wrapped around the neck on a plain t-shirt and a pair of jeans.

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Or very elegant left open on the shoulders and closed in the front with a nice pin!

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I used Scheepjes Whirl in color Green Tea Tipple; it’s a teal blue-green which gradually fades in light grey and then darkens a little bit.

The nice bit of this shawl is the shoulder line. I blocked it following the natural curve of the pattern and adding little spikes on top of each wave. This gives the shawl a very unique look. I like to fold the last bit outward so the spikes can be seen.

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This is one of my first pattern. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to write it as clear as possible but I know I could have skipped something or messed up somewhere. Please, feel free to contact me and point me my mistakes so I can fix them. This is a free pattern and I’d like it to be easy for everyone to follow. And, beside, if you know a nice software to make crochet chart, please, let me know! I’ve used Crochet Chart but I’d like to try something more flexible.

Happy crafting, I hope you enjoy as I did!

Windy days – Vento

Autumn has come in the Netherlands, and it’s such a cold one!
This year temperatures have dropped dramatically in October. We already went below 0 once! In the mornings all the cars on the street and my garden where covered in a thin shiny coat in a bed of fallen leaves.
Beautiful! But for me and my kids, riding a bike everyday, this means we have to protect ourselves from the Dutch chilly wind. I had to start somewhere and I decided to go for my daughter who rides directly facing the wind in the bakfiets. Something for her neck, then a hat and maybe gloves and legwarmers, we’ll see. My boy is still safe and protected from the wind thanks to the maxi cosi (but he’s outgrowing it!).

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L’autunno è arrivato qui in Olanda e si fa sentire! 
Quest’anno la temperatura è già scesa sotto lo zero una volta. La mattina tutte le macchine e il mio giardino erano coperti da un sottile manto luccicante in un letto di foglie secche.
Bellissimo! Ma per me e i miei bimbi che andiamo in bici tutti i giorni, questo vuol dire che ci dobbiamo assolutamente coprire perchè il vento olandese non ha pietà! Tra noi tre, quella che è più esposta al vento sono io ma ovviamente la mia bimba viene prima, quindi ho iniziato da lei. Il piccoletto è ancora al riparo nell’ovetto, anche se per poco perchè sta crescendo a vista d’occhio.

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I wasn’t sure about the design, but I was about the yarn: Scheepjes Stonewashed XL. It’s absolutely amazing, one of my favorites ever! The colours are just perfect, they remind me of the flowers growing in my garden and they are a bright spot in this autumn colours all around us.

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Non ero sicura del design, ma lo ero certamente del filato: Scheepjes Stonewashed XL. E’ assolutamente tra i miei preferiti! I colori sono perfetti, mi ricordano i fiori che crescono nel mio giardino e danno un pò di contrasto ai colori autunnali dai quali siamo circondati.

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There’s a whole set in my designer dreams. Let’s see if the reality will match the expectations! At the moment I’m busy writing the pattern for one of the pieces. Once completed, they’ll be available on Ravelry and Loveknitting for sure. I’m struggling to check the measurements as it seems my daughter doesn’t want to help at all: she’s too busy running around and playing these days! It’s so heartwarming to see the kids are so happy. As for me, as usual, crochet hooks and colours are my best travelling companions on this lively road.
Happy autumn!

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Nei miei sogni di designer c’è un set. Non so se riuscirò a fare tutto, ma mi concentrerò su un singolo capo alla volta. Al momento sto scrivendo le istruzioni del primo pezzo; saranno disponibili di sicuro su Ravelry e Loveknitting, aggiungerò i links una volta pubblicati. Per ora sto perfezionando le misure, sempre che una bimba che ha voglia di correre si fermi un istante per collaborare e provare un pò il lavoro di mamma! E’ così bello vedere questi bimbi allegri. Quanto a me, come al solito, lavorare con l’uncinetto e i colori mi mette sempre di buon umore. 
Buon autunno!

Birthday gifts

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I was looking for a super fast project for my mother as my time is very short and I’m getting ready for my cruise. I still have a lot to knit!

I found this pattern on Drops Design and I fell in love with it. It called for Drops Delight but I know my mum can’t wear wool back in hot and humid Rome, so I went for a 100% cotton yarn. I think the result was quite pretty for a 9 hours total crochet project!

Free pattern here.

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Stavo cercando un progettino veloce per il compleanno di mia madre. In questo periodo sono pienissima di cose da fare prima di partire in vacanza.

Ho trovato questo pattern su Drops Design e me ne sono innamorata subito. Il modello richiedeva il filato Delight ma mia mamma non poteva certo indossare un capo di lana a giugno nel clima caldo e umido di Roma. Così ho sostituito il filato con Katia Bombay, 100% cotone. Il risultato è davvero straordinario, considerando che si tratta di un progetto da 9 ore.

Pattern gratuito qui.

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A shaggy heron in Italy

Yes, going back to Italy is always a bitter-sweet sensation. Home is here in The Netherlands for me, I miss it everytime I go somewhere else.

Apart from eating delicious food (and maybe too much!), I finally had a chance to wear my Flight of Fancy shawl, the 2015 Scheepjes CAL (you can find more info here) by Annelies Baes. I choose the colourway Heron… guess why? Well, first of all it’s a beautiful colour combination, and then because herons are very common here: it’s actually Den Haag city’s symbol, as you can see in this picture below.

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Sono appena tornata da Roma. Che dire, ormai tornare in Italia mi lascia sempre un pò l’amaro in bocca. Le ragioni le sappiamo tutti, inutile parlarne. La mia casa ormai è qui, in Olanda. Ogni volta che mi allontano per più di un paio di giorni mi manca moltissimo.

Comunque, oltre ad aver mangiato stra bene e ovviamente un botto (fraschette, pizza, gelati… devo aggiungere altro?), ho avuto finalmente l’occasione di indossare il mio scialle Flight of Fancy, il CAL del 2015 di Scheepjes (maggior info qui) disegnato da Annelies Baes. Il colore che ho scelto era Heron. Facile capire il perchè. Innanzi tutto mi piaceva moltissimo la combinazione di colori, sul grigio-blu; e poi, qui gli aironi sono molto comuni. Si trovano ovunque, al bordo degli stagni, sugli alberi, in volo… non per niente il simbolo del comune de L’Aia è proprio l’airone, come si vede nella foto del palazzo comunale quassù.

 

I still haven’t taken a good picture of my shawl. I was waiting for the right moment and the right surrounding but nothing came to mind. I only have this poor shaggy pic: you can clearly see my million tails waiting to be weaved in. It looks cramped and curly because, at that time, I hadn’t blocked it yet. You have to use your imagination for now. But you can see the colours: beautiful!

The yarn is Scheepjes Linen Soft, a nice cotton and linen blend with a lot of nice shades.

It was fairly easy to make, you had a clue every week to crochet a motif, for a total of 8 different designs and 10 different colour combinations. Then a lot of picot to crochet around to make the border and connect the motives together. It was fun and relaxing. The longest and boring part were the tails to weave in. But it was absolutely worth it. Everyone was looking at it and I earned a lot of praise. I definitely need to make some nice picture of it, don’t you think?

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Non ho ancora fatto una foto che renda giustizia a questo scialle. Aspettavo il momento o il posto giusto ma non mi è venuto niente in mente. Ho solo questa misera foto. Qui sembra sciatto e disordinato. Si vedono benissimo tutte le code ancora da cucire, e non era ovviamente bloccato. Si vedono però i colori: magnifici!

Il filato che ho usato è Scheepjes Linen Soft, un blend di lino e cotone con tantissimi colori disponibili.

Molto facile da realizzare: ogni settimana veniva pubblicato il pattern per realizzare uno degli 8 diversi motivi ad uncinetto, e alla fine veniva spiegato come unirli e realizzare il bordo con i picot. Mi è piaciuto molto ed è stato divertente. L’unica cosa noiosa è stata cucire le code. Ne è valsa la pena, ho ricevuto moltissimi complimenti. Devo assolutamente fargli qualche foto in più, se lo merita, vero?