How to Use the Magic Knot with a Colour Change in Crochet

I was pretty chuffed when I came across the magic knot, since I’m no fan of sewing in the ends created by a change in colour. And I’m even less of a fan of how they soon work themselves loose again. So when I stumbled on the magic knot, I was intrigued, and scared – let’s face it, cutting the ends off so close to a knot seems counter intuitive. Surely it’ll some undone?

Well, I’ve used it on a number of projects with no unravelling so far, and it has saved tons of hassle with loose ends. But there was a problem – how can you use it when you’re starting a new colour?

After much Googling and experimentation, I came up with a method that works pretty well. I’ve used it in several stripy crochet blankets, and it’s saved me a lot of time and effort. It may seem tricky, and yes, a little scary, but I promise you it works. So here goes!

Step 1

Crochet to the end of the row, finishing the last stitch completely (usually you leave out the final part of the stitch to add in your new colour, but not with this method).

Step 2

Withdraw your hook, and insert your scissors into the stitch and cut. Yes, I know this feels like the very last thing you should do – you’ll just have to trust me!

Step 3

Unravel back a few stitches, then take your new colour yarn and prepare your magic knot. There’s dozens of resources online to show you exactly how to do this, but Bella Coco has a great little video here. If you prefer pictures, Nelkin designs has a good tutorial.

Step 4

The important thing to remember when tightening your individual knots is not to leave too long a tail with the old yarn – you want to aim for about 1.5 cm or just under an inch. With the new colour it doesn’t matter.

Step 5

Draw your knots together and cut as usual.

Step 6

Test your knot is secure by pulling tightly on both ends. Then re-crochet the last stitches in your row. You should end up with the join appearing right before the final yarn through.

If it’s a little off, with your new yarn appearing too soon or too late for that final part of the stitch, don’t panic! Just unravel a few stitches and adjust your tension slightly to give you slightly more or less yarn. The effect you want is this:

With practice you’ll get this down to a fine art, and can kiss goodbye to annoying yarn tails in your work.

Hope this helps! – do get in touch if you have any questions.

 

Special DK v Paintbox

With the recent addition of three new shades to the Stylecraft DK stable, the range of colour choices is better than ever. I’ve designed most of my blankets and cushions in Special DK, but I couldn’t help coveting the colour options offered by one of its main rivals, Paintbox Simply DK. Eventually I caved in, and bought some full size balls, plus a number of the mini balls to make up a number of shade cards.

Stylecraft Special DK
Paintbox DK

Seeing them all together like this, I was struck by the difference ebtween the two colour ranges – I’d assumed there’d be lots of similar shades, but that isn’t the case. As I’m fascinated by nuances in colour, I thought it would be fun to compare them directly. I’ve done my best to reproduce the colours as best I can, but cameras are funny things and sometimes insist on seeing thing differently to the human eye. But here goes!

Top: Special DK
Bottom: Paintbox

As you can see, there’s not a lot to choose between Lemon and Banana Cream, but it’s interesting how much variance there is between the yellows, as you can see better below.

The oranges were even more striking – and Paintbox wins this round with a lovely subtle range of orange.

Top: Special DK
Bottom: Paintbox

When it comes to peach tones, Stylecraft again has the edge, particularly since its new additions of Mushroom and Vintage Peach. Please note that Blush Pink is a Paintbox colour and should be on the bottom line!

On to pinks, and you can see both ranges have a similar number of colours. There’s not much to choose between some of them – Fondant and Bubblegum Pink, for instance, are almost identical shades, as are Bright Pink and Lipstick Pink.

Top: Special DK
Bottom: Paintbox

It’s a different story with the purples, however, with Paintbox Simply DK the clear winner. I love Pansy Purple, which seems a pretty standard shade, but is somehow missing from the Special DK range.

Top: Special DK
Bottom: Paintbox

When it comes to lilac/mauve shades, however, it’s much more of an even match, though Paintbox is filling some useful gaps in the Special DK range.

Top: Special DK
Bottom: Paintbox

The reds are similarly evenly matched, though Paintbox has nothing similar to Stylecraft’s useful Burgundy. Unfortunately my camera seems completely fazed by its rich colour.

Top: Special DK
Bottom: Paintbox

Where Special DK wins hands down, it’s in the berry shades. There’s really nothing Paintbox has to offer that comes near them.

 

Top: Special DK

On to the blues, and Paintbox adds a couple of lovely tones, Sailor and Kingfisher.

Top: Special DK
Bottom: Paintbox

Stylecraft has a clear edge when it comes to other shades of blue, though I love Paintbox’s Kingfisher and Marine, which both fill a gap in the colour spectrum.

Top: Special DK
Bottom: Paintbox

Again, more options with Special DK in the light blue range, though Seafoam is a beautiful colour from Paintbox.

Top: Special DK
Bottom: Paintbox

When it comes to the greens. I’m particularly taken with Paintbox’s Spearmint and Lime, both very different to anything Special DK has on offer. Though Stylecraft’s Lime is a lovely subtle colour, it doesn’t quite have the clean green zing of the Paintbox version.

Top: Special DK
Bottom: Paintbox

Quite a lot of similarity between the two ranges in the mid greens, though Paintbox has nothing comparable to Special DK’s Bright Green.

Top: Special DK
Bottom: Paintbox

Lovely subtle differences in the browns.

Top: Special DK
Bottom: Paintbox

I included Melon Sorbet again in the light browns. I can’t seem to make my mind up what kind of colour it is!

Top: Special DK
Bottom: Paintbox

Finally, the neutrals. As you can see, tney’re pretty evenly matched, though Parchment is something of a classic. I love Paintbox’s subtle variations on light grey, though.

Top: Special DK
Bottom: Paintbox

So, all in all, both brands have a lot to offer, and there’s very few colours that have a direct equivalent in either range. They’re fortunately very similar in thickness and weave, so you can interchange them freely. I’m definitely going to mix and match to get as much choice as possible for future projects.

In the meantime, here’s my picks from both ranges. I’ve included two of Stylecraft’s new additions – Mushroom and Buttermilk – for their subtlety and versatility. Sage is one of my perennial favourites, hovering between green and blue, a lovely soft tone. Parchment is the ultimate neutral, and Storm a very useful, moody blue tone.

With Paintbox, I’m particularly impressed with their orange and purple tones, and the lovely vibrant Lime green.

But if I had to pick one colour above all others from the 74 on offer in Special DK range and 60 in Paintbox Simply DK, it would have to be the gorgeous Spearmint Green. I’m a sucker for any shade of green – my favourite colour – but this is just so mouthwatering and soft I want to use it all the time.

 

 

Spring Woodland is blooming

I needed a project to lift myself out of the doldrums, having fractured my knee up in the French alps. What better to lift the spirits than a bevy of spring colours?

I started with a palette of fresh greens and neutrals – Stylecraft Special DK in Pistachio, Stone, Mocha, Lime, Meadow, Parchment and Cypress.

Then I wanted something to echo the lovely primroses that light up the woods in spring, so I chose Citron to add to the mix.

And what could be better to round off the spectrum than the perfectly named Stylecraft Special DK Bluebell?

Moss stitch seemed particularly appropriate for this project – I liked the woodlandy name, and the way it blends together all the colours.

The only problem with changing colour every row is you end up with a gazillion ends. So rather than sew them in, I decided to tie them up into tassels. So much quicker!

I’m absolutely over the moon with how the finished blanket turned out. It’s a little ray of sunshine in my life while my leg heals.

You can purchase the Spring Woodland pattern on Etsy or Ravelry.

Playing with colour

Feeling a bit under par this morning, so am taking it easy in the Craft Den and coming up with a few colour schemes for the cushion and blanket kits I’m hoping to sell on Etsy. As usual I’m using Stylecraft Special DK, though I’m tempted to splash out on this gorgeous range from Paintbox Yarns to ring the changes.

Anyway, here’s what I’ve come up with so far. As well as messing around with colours, the writer in me enjoys dreaming up suitable names.

blue-moodI’m calling this one Blue Mood. If you’re wondering how I made these little sample cards, I ordered this Special DK colour card and just chopped it up. Voila!

soft-pastelsLove this array of soft pastels. I think I’ll call it… err… Soft Pastels.

brighton-pierThese neon colours were so bright my camera kind of freaked out, hence the blurriness. I’m calling them Brighton Pier.

shades-of-autumnI think Autumn Tones will do for this combination.

monochromeI’m loving this Monochrome group. Unfortunately the Grey on the far left is missing its tag cos the dog chewed it off. Makes a change from ripping up tissues, I suppose.

fruityI think I’ll just call this one Fruity. I love it.

flower-borderAnd this one is Flower Power.

forest-floorGot a bit stuck for a name here. I’m opting for Nature Tones.

september-harvestAnd this is Harvest.

Now all I’ve got to decide is which one to crochet up next!

Campervan crash

campervan-in-baskerI mentioned at the end of my last blog post that I’d been having a few problems with my fledgling Campervan blanket. In short, I crashed it. I’d be crocheting in the car on the way down through France, and not checking my tension. And then I did. And realised this had happened:

campervan-crash-2Yes, that should be a straight line at the side. Obviously my tension had got looser and looser, and the size of the blanket had grown and grown, way beyond the point where I could have disguised it with a bit of careful blocking. Ugh.

So there was nothing for it, but to rip it back. Most of it. Aaarrrghh!! Hours and hours of work down the drain, not to mention wasted yarn – when I recrocheted each row to the correct tension, I had masses of yarn left over. I couldn’t bear to ditch it, so I’ve been reusing a lot of it by joining it to the main yarn with a magic knot.

Anyway, all’s well that ends well, because this is how Campervan is looking now:
post-crash-campervan

Not so bad, huh? I’m pretty pleased with how this is turning out. I reckon I’m close to the final length, and then I’ll do the border – I’m thinking a couple of rows of single crochet, either in Petrol or Grey. Then I’ll write up the pattern, and hope to have my first blanket pack up on Etsy soon.

Campervan on the road

Been off on my travels again, and with a new project in tow, using these Stylecraft Special DK colours.campervan-coloursDecided to do a simply spike stitch – one row single crochet, the new row alternating single crochet and a spike.campervan-kicks-offLoaded it all into my favourite basket to hit the road on our trip to France.campervan-in-baskerHere I am, crocheting in the car. Coupled with an audio book, it’s the best way to travel – the hours and miles fly by! Luckily my OH insists on doing all the driving.campervan-in-the-carWe spent a couple of days in the caravan at Lion-sur-Mer in Normandy. In between bouts of sight-seeing, I was working on the blanket. As you can see, the dog is finding it riveting!cyril-and-campervanThings were progressing nicely, until my Campervan blanket crashed. But more on that in another post when I can face writing about it.

Back in the land of dreaming spires

Been off on my travels again, this time up to Oxford to attend an open gaudy (reunion) at Hertford College, my first trip back in… *cough*… a number of years. Had a great time – lovely food, plenty of wine, and a chance to catch up with some old friends.

hertford-open-gaudyI am actually in this pic, just the back of my head, to the left of the man in specs pouring the wine.

hertford-college-main-quadA picture of the old quad with no one in it.

projects-hertfordcollege-survey-mainThe staircase leading up to the dining hall.

hertford-bridge-of-sighsHertford College with its Bridge of Sighs. Whenever anyone says they’ve never heard of the place, I mention the bridge – the one Morse always drives under in the TV show.

hertford-crestThe Hertford College crest, as seen on the graduate centre on the Abingdon Road.

passageMagpie Lane, leading from the High Street to Merton Field and the spookily named Dead Man’s Walk.

oxford-geeseGeese on the walk round Christ Church Meadow.

weary-limbsSometimes I could do with one of these to rest my weary limbs.

christchurch-meadowsLooking back across the meadow.

cherwellDucks trying to take a nap by the Cherwell.

head-of-the-riverLooking back from Head of the River.

catte-streetCatte Street looking towards Radcliffe Camera – once my local stomping ground.

radcliffe-cameraRadcliffe Camera, part of the Bodleian library. When I wasn’t writing essays in my room, I was ploughing through books in here.

blackwellsJust across the road from Hertford was Blackwell, my nearest bookshop. So one of the highlights of this trip was to go in and find a couple of my books on the top shelf. Something I could never ever have imagined back when I was a student!

Five have fun in North Devon

Just back from a bit of a mini break up to Croyde and Woolacombe in North Devon. Our second outing in the caravan, and only three nights, but a lot of fun. We were lucky with the weather, pretty much blue skies most of the time we were out and about. fun-on-woolacombe-sandsWe kicked off with a visit to Woolacombe beach – as you can see it went down a storm with our terriers, who seem to turn into lunatics as soon as their feet hit the sand.

woolacombe-beachIt was a blustery day. Lots of surfers making use of the waves, but the dogs, being low to the ground, had quite a lot of blown sand to contend with. Still, they didn’t seem to mind.

barricane-beach-cafeWe had a couple of visits to the lovely beach cafe on Barricane Beach (not sure why they disagree with my spelling!). Ate one of their famous curries, and the next day returned for a cream tea. The gluttony!

sculpture-on-barricane-beachI tried my hand at a bit of beach sculpture while we waited for the curry to be served.

sheep-at-mortehoeNext day we went for a walk in Mortehoe, and saw lots of these. Stan and Cyril were definitely on leads, but Ms Perkins’s days of chasing anything are long past.

morte-pointEnjoyed a stunning walk round to Morte Point. You can just see Lundy on the horizon.

walking-round-morte-pointMet a few people on the South West Coast Path, all hoping to spot the seals that inhabit the inlets. Sadly we didn’t see any, but the views more than made up for it.

south-west-coast-path-towards-ifracombeAmazing views north towards Ifracombe.

saunton-sand-dunesWe rounded off the trip with a walk through the dunes and along Saunton Sands. Followed by another cream tea at the fabulous Sandleigh Tea Rooms at Baggy Point – well, we were on holiday! – before the two-hour drive back to the south Devon coast.

Little bits of glassy gloriousness

I’m not sure exactly where and when my mini obsession with stitch markers came in. I suspect I was just wandering around Etsy, minding my own business, when I stumbled across KoPoUK or Tinkaboo’s shops. And saw all those beautiful glass stitch markers. Like little pieces of jewellery.

Or maybe it was when I inherited this set from a craft magazine – they’re only plastic, but pretty cute, don’t you think?Double-heart-stitch-markers

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I now have quite a few. Far more than I actually need, you understand, though I’m starting to find various uses for them beside, you know, actually marking stitches. Let me take you on a guided tour…Blue-teardrop-stitch-markers

These little blue glass drops of gorgeousness were an impulse purchase from Meadow Yarns – though sadly I don’t think Anj stocks them any more. Olive-green-stitch-markers

These olive green markers were one of my first purchases from the lovely Liz at KoPoUK. Along with these lilac, pink and green crackle glaze beauties.Purple-and-blue-stitch-marker-necklace

As you can see I love these so much I decided to turn them into an impromptu necklace.Two-stitch-markers

Next came these gorgeous blue and yellow numbers from Tinkaboo Crafts – there should be four. I’m hoping the other two are lurking in a wip somewhere, and not lost or eaten by one of the dogs.Pink-crackle-stitch-markers

I also bought these from Tinkaboo – as you can see, you can choose what kind of clasp you get with your little lovelies – I’ve chosen a mixture of clasps – great for marking crochet – and rings for knitting. Round-blue-stitch-markers

Another set from Tinkaboo, in glorious Mediterranean blue. Purple-stitch-markers

As well as these, in purple. Green-&-pink-stitch-markers

These divine pink and green gems are from KoPoUK. Animal-stitch-markers

As are these insanle cute animal stitch markers. The horse currently has pride of place on my filofax:Filofax-with-stitch-marker-charms

Like I said, these little gems have a multitude of uses. Get them with clasps and you can use them as mini charms. Multi-stitch-markers

The lovely Liz at KoPoUK also threw in these multicolour markers as a prezzie – aren’t they fabulous?Assorted-stitch-markers

Last but not least, here’s a few oddments I’ve been given. Hmm, thinking about it, the blue/green crackles glass marker belongs to the set above! Just need to track down the last one.

So that’s my collection so far. I keep them on my desk in a clear container, as a little visual treat for when I want to rest my eyes from hours staring at my laptop screen. Stitchmarkers

The great thing is none of these sets were very expensive, so excusable as an occasional treat. At least that’s what I’ll keep telling myself!

Seashore blanket

Shell-blanket-2Seashore was my first ever crochet blanket design, and came about pretty much by accident. I’d been planning to make this vintage picnic blanket by Marie Wallin for Rowan. 390T390I’d have loved to have used the recommended Rowan Handknit Cotton, but I priced it up and it came to… cough… several hundred pounds, which is way more than I can stomach paying for a blanket, however beautiful. So I shopped around, and the Stylecraft Life range seemed like a reasonable compromise. I think I used two 100g balls in each colour – Rose, Mint, Heather, Ice Blue, Melon, Fern, Zing, Fuchsia and Denim – with an extra ball of Zing for the border.

Shell-blanketAs you can see, Seashore turned out nothing like the Rowan design. I did start out using their chart, but just felt the result was too… well, holey. Maybe it would work better in the yarn Rowan suggested – cotton being naturally stiffer and therefore better at holding its shape – but with Life’s wool/acrylic blend it just didn’t look right to me. Maybe it’s just a personal thing; I dislike very loose fabrics with holes so big you can catch your toes in them. So I decided to use alternating shells, which made for a firmer, less gappy fabric.

Shell-blanket-close-upAnyhow, I’m pretty pleased with the way it turned out, though I confess it’s looking a bit sorry for itself at the moment – it’s covering a chair in my office, which our youngest and naughtiest terrier, Cyril, has adopted as his favourite rabbit-watching perch. Sidley-&-SeashoreSo Seashore is looking decidedly dusty, with a light smattering of white hairs for good measure, and needs a thoroughly good wash. First of all, though, I have to evict Cyril.

Shell-3