Flora Fibres 2nd birthday and new pattern release!

Woo hoo! Happy (business) birthday to me 😀

As I did last year with the Snakes and Ladders Shawl, I have created a new pattern to release today in celebration of another year in this business which I love! This year the pattern is very special to me, as the inspiration for it came from a very dear old lady, my grandad’s cousin Pat, who we recently lost at the grand old age of 102 years. She was always full of life, and had many an adventure in her time as a mission doctor in Africa (she wasn’t a missionary she’d like me to add, she always made a point of telling people she was far too naughty for that!). The inspiration for this shawl came from a gorgeous shawl pin she kindly left me, which I felt deserved to be worn with something as colourful and full of life as she was, and also my hands down, favourite memory of her:

The event took place a very long time ago when I was just a wee girl, and we were at my grandma’s house for the family Christmas dinner. Now my grandma was good at many things, but cooking was not one of them. I’m sure she started boiling those vegetables some time around the beginning of December to get them quite so soft and tasteless! And she was not the sort of grandma who would accept you not eating the food put in front of you. So my wee brother and I were making our best attempt at eating them, when Pat clearly decided she’d had enough of them too. She whipped a tube of Smarties out of her handbag, popped them open, scattered them across the table, and gleefully announced “oh children, you don’t want to eat that! Let’s eat Smarties instead!”

So in her honour let me present to you my celebration of life, love and family: the Smarties for Dinner shawl!

It is an asymmetric triangle shawl, knitted from side to side with yarn over increases. It uses several techniques including colour changes to create the rainbows at either end, some 2 stranded colour work to create the rows of colourful “Smarties”, and two decorative lace panels, one which represents the plates and napkins on the Christmas table, and the other the love and admiration for an incredible lady.

 

 

A delightful pop of colour to liven up any outfit and to remind us all to live life to the fullest.

It is knitted using Scheepjes Catona cotton yarn, and you can see the full requirements and purchase the pattern from my Ravelry store here:

 

Top tip: breaking in linen yarn

Hear me out, I’m not completely crazy!

If you have ever worked with linen yarn before you’ll know that it isn’t the softest, but finished pieces can become buttery soft by breaking them in. But just exactly how do you do that?

Well, here’s my lazy efficient knitter’s top tip for breaking in linen yarn: leave your finished piece in a hot car! (yes, really!) The heat softens up the fibres beautifully and really speeds up the breaking in process.

20170602_161842.jpg

I wouldn’t leave it in the full sun unless you want a shawl with a trendy faded look, but I also thought this was a better photo than the inside of my car boot! Leave it there for a day or two and you’ll find your garment is much softer than before, with absolutely minimal effort.

Other methods of breaking in linen yarn include bunching up your finished piece and sitting on it for a while (even better is you can combine this with more knitting time!), and threading it through the bars of a cot or chair back and gently pulling it from side to side over the bars.

Pictured above is the Snakes and Ladders shawl, which you can learn more about and buy from my Ravelry store here.

If you try any of these methods and they work for you, do share with your friends!

What is blocking anyway?

Blocking is basically the secret to creating perfect finished pieces!

Have you ever knitted (or crocheted) something that you’ve taken hours to make and poured your heart and soul into, just to end up with a wonky, lumpy looking thing that wasn’t what you’d pictured at all? Don’t panic and throw it in the naughty corner in despair, that’s where the magic of blocking comes in!

Blocking is simply the process of thoroughly wetting your finished creation, then gently stretching it to the right size and pinning it in place while it dries. This is an important step as it helps relax the yarn and evens out minor tension issues, and it can help get your finished piece to exactly the right size (which is obviously more important for a garment like a jumper, than a shawl).

Here I am going to talk specifically about blocking the Snakes and Ladders shawl, which is knitted in linen yarn. You can find out more about this pattern and buy it on Ravelry here.

There are various tools you can buy to make blocking easier, but all you really need is a flat surface and some pins. I recently invested in some T-pins (mainly to stop me bending my sewing pins from over enthusiastic blocking!) These pins are sturdier than sewing pins, with a T shape at the top for ease of use. (This post isn’t sponsored by the way, I bought these pins because I wanted them!). I also lay my projects out on these foam mats, which are exactly the same material as blocking mats, the only difference is they have numbers in the centre of each square (and I bought them for my kids in the charity shop for £1!). But a large towel on the floor also works just fine as a base. You can buy various other blocking aids such as flexible wires which are useful for blocking curved edges.

Once you have your base set up and your pins to hand, lay your thoroughly wetted shawl on the mat and stretch it out to roughly the right shape. I blocked mine folded in half so that it would turn out exactly symmetrical. Then starting from the top centre, pin and stretch as you go, maintaining the triangular shape of the shawl. You will probably find that you need to stretch it more sideways then lengthways to achieve the right shaping.

It’s best to not leave too big a gap between pins, especially on a piece that is being stretched quite a lot, as you will end up with an unintentional picot edging! By pinning your shawl at smaller intervals you reduce the tension on the fabric around each individual pin.

When you get to the edge you will need one pin at the apex of each triangle to help shape them. The best way to do this is to start with pins in each end, then in the middle, then at roughly 1/4 and 3/4, and finally the rest. This should maintain an even spacing, and stop any one triangle getting more stretched than the others.

An alternative method for blocking, which is also useful when you have washed your shawl after wearing, but have already blocked it properly, is shown here:

The weight from all the clothes pegs, placed at the apex of each triangle, is enough to gently block the shawl without over stretching it. (I was sceptical too, but it really does work!)

Once your shawl is dried it’s now ready to wear! You may find the linen is a little stiff feeling initially, but with a little breaking in the fibres will soften up beautifully, giving you a truly delightful summer shawl!

IMG_20170517_094748

Have you made a Snakes and Ladders shawl? I’d love to see it! If you share it, please do tag me on instagram @flora_fibres_yarn or use the hashtag #snakesandladdersshawl, and if you upload your project to Ravelry remember to link to the pattern page so we can all see!

New shawl pattern and birthday celebrations!

It’s beginning to feel like summer is just around the corner! Hooray! It’s definitely my favourite season: the long, long days are my favourite, even if our weather here in Scotland isn’t the best!

To celebrate the beginning of the season (and also Flora Fibres first birthday!) I have designed the Snakes and Ladders shawl: a lovely triangular linen shawl which will be the perfect summer accessory. It is lightweight and airy, and the natural linen will help keep you cosy if there’s ​a chill, but won’t let you overheat.

It comes in 2 sizes: adult and child, so it’s perfect for some “mummy and me” styling! (Yes, I would totally do this, but my boys won’t let me… *sigh*)
The pattern will be released on the 14th of May (Flora Fibres first birthday!), and you’ll be able to get your copy from my Ravelry store.

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen some sneaky peeks of the shawl which I’ve shared over there, such as this detail shot of the openwork panel and edging:

You’ll also have heard me going on about joining my mailing list, and if you haven’t yet done so, let me give you some incentives!

  • By subscribing you will receive a copy of the Spring Diamonds Cowl knitting pattern
  • You’ll get a first look at shop updates, before they go live (hint, there’s one this weekend!)
  • Subscribers will soon be sent an exclusive birthday discount code for my Etsy store, which you can use on any of my yarn, project bags or necklaces
  • Aaand one lucky subscriber will be chosen at random to win their choice of either a voucher for my Etsy store, or a free knitting pattern!

Sign up today to make sure you don’t miss out!