Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Rainbow Hot Water Bottle Sock Pattern

We have moved!

It's taken me the last 3 weeks to unpack everything - I'm still missing some key items, but I'm sure they will turn up at some point (most likely when I least expect it...)

My workroom is looking good - I'm all set up and ready to satisfy my itchy fingers. My first project has been to knit a new hot water bottle cover for my mini hot water bottle. I was after something quick and easy, and something that would use up some of my remnant yarn...

This is a very easy pattern, and knits up very quickly - making it a great pattern for those who like instant knitting gratification!

This pattern is for my mini hot water bottle cover. You can tailor this pattern to the size of your hot water bottle by adding or subtracting stitches in multiples of 4 (so 36,40,44 etc.) The double knit rib is very stretchy, so if you are unsure go for the smaller measurement.

You will need:
  • Small amount of each colour of yarn you wish to use. My small hot water bottle cover used less than a 25g ball of yarn for each stripe. I used standard DK acrylic yarn.
  • 1 set of 4.5mm needles or the size recommended for the yarn you are using
  • Bodkin /  large eyed needle
Cast on 24 stitches on to 4.5mm needles

Knit 8 rows in Double Rib (k2,p2 to the end of the row, repeat for each row)

At Row 9, change to next colour yarn and knit this row in knit  (k all stitches - so you can't see the joint), then continue in Double Knit (k2,p2) for the next 7 rows. Leave a tail of yarn for sewing up the sides later.

Repeat the pattern above, knitting in each colour for 8 rows until you get to the last colour (in my case purple), where I continued for 23 rows instead of 8. These extra rows allow you to fold the top over like a roll neck jumper. Leave a longer tail for sewing this up.

Cast off in same double rib pattern (k2,p2)

When you have finished, it should look something like this:

Follow the same pattern above to make another matching piece for the other side.

When you have made both pieces, use the tails of yarn to sew up the sides - to make sure the seams don't show through, use the red tail to sew up the red section, the yellow tail for the yellow section etc.

It will look quite small when you have finished, but it will stretch over your hot water bottle keeping it snug in it's new little jumper.

Humphrey the bear was very impressed...


Saturday, 18 June 2011

The Big Move

I vowed we'd never do this again; I've said this every time we have moved house though (this is my 8th move in 9 years) - yet here we are getting packed up ready to go. This is the main reason I've been low on posts this month; everything crafty is either packed or lost under all the boxes and other bits lying all over the flat as we speak...

Everyone know I have a big stash of delights in my workroom - for such a teeny room I always manage to pack a lot into it. There is my Horn sewing cabinet, my Brother sewing machine, my Janome overlocker / serger, boxes and boxes of yarn and fabric and all my accessories. 

I'm a bit neat about my yarn - as you can see I like to keep them in boxes arranged by colour; this is the box for red and purples. The blues and greens box is overflowing a bit - need to stop buying green!

Another stash I have is a big box of machine cones. I find these really good for my giant knitting projects, as they were pretty cheap, they come in lots of different colours, and they look great when knitted together as blankets, cushions or mats.

As you can see, it's a lot of stuff to move. If it looks like a lot of stuff when it's all in the shelves, imagine trying to get it all in boxes and bags! I filled 2 sacks and a big box with just yarn, 4 sacks with fabric (not including the 2 big rolls I have in the cupboard, a box of patterns, a box of knitting books, 2 boxes of accessories and emptying my cabinet.

For all those of you who know the Horn sewing cabinet, I can tell you it is a fab piece of kit - it folds out from a standard 2 door cabinet into a fully functional station for all your sewing needs. It wasn't cheap - new they are between £250 and £500, but I got mine second hand on ebay after months and months of searching for £80. But for moving house? NOT good - it has a hydraulic lift in it so you can lower your sewing machine when it is not in use - ingenious... but it weighs a ton, and especially when you have to get it down 2 flights of stairs, and it has to be kept level... My poor Dad who is helping us move groaned when I reminded him we had to shift it again...

Went to our new house again today (which is luckily about a minute's walk from our current flat) - my workroom is about the same size as it is here. As we are renting, it was the first time we had seen the house without the other tenant's stuff in it. Alas a single bed has appeared right in the middle of my workroom space. I think the landlord thought it would be helpful, but it's left nowhere for all my yarn stash as well as my sewing machines, so fingers crossed I can get them to remove it before we move in...


Friday, 20 May 2011

New Knitting Project: Multi-Strand Blanket

I've been so busy in the office recently, I've had really little time to focus on crafting and my blog - so apologies for the lack of posts recently!

I've decided to start a cool new project - a chunky moss / seed stitch blanket. It's made up of some of the machine knitting cones I've had in a big box for ages. I chose creams and blues, but one of the strands is a gorgeous pastel multi-coloured yarn which gives a subtle hint of pinks and yellows throughout - it's really subtle but very pretty.

2 of the cones are glittery (1 white cone and 1 baby blue) which I wasn't sure about when I put the strands together before starting, but now I've knitted it up for a few inches it's looking great.

I'm knitting the blanket on 15mm needles - not the biggest ones I have, but I wanted the blanket to be quite tight weave. As you may remember from my Giant Knitting post, I made up a blanket at the end of last year for my sister-in-law in greens and blues (she calls it her Mermaid blanket) but it ended up being quite loose, and has a habit of stretching and losing its shape.

I'm using 10 cones of yarn all wound together to make up the blanket. I have discovered that the best way of knitting with lots of yarn at the same time is to put the cones in a box, that way they aren't flying across the room and getting tangled.

The stitch is really easy - k1 p1 all the way across the row until the end. As there is an odd number of stitches you will end on a knit stitch. When you knit the next row, start on a knit stitch again and carry on in k1 p1. The bobbly moss / seed stitch pattern that comes out makes the blanket textured but light.

The blanket is as wide as I could fit on my needles - 59 stitches in all. Ideally I'd like to have had longer needles like the ones you can buy from Rachel John, but these ones by Inox are the only ones I had. I think when it is knitted up it will make a good throw size blanket for either the end of a bed or a sofa.

I'm thinking of making matching cushion covers if I have any yarn left by the end of this. We are moving house soon and I'm hoping this lovely blanket will look great in my new bedroom across the bottom of our bed.

I'll post up pics once I've finished!


Monday, 2 May 2011

Knitting Pattern: Seed Stitch Fingerless Gloves

It's been lovely and sunny here in Wales - so warm that I've been struggling to find the motivation to knit! With the changeable British weather, these great little gloves are so light and easy to put in your pocket. Also see the matching hat pattern

Knitted from moss or seed stitch, they are an easy knit. Made flat on straight needles, they are then stitched together to fit your hands:

You will need:
  • Your choice of yarn and needles - I've used Patons Smoothie yarn on 4.5mm needles to fit my small adult hands
  • Large needle / Bodkin to sew up seams

Double Rib pattern:
k2, p2 until end of row, repeat for all rows

Seed / Moss stitch:
Odd Rows: k1, p1 to end of row
Even Rows: p1, k1 to end of row

If you need larger gloves increase in multiples of 4, likewise, if you want smaller gloves or are using larger needles, decrease in multiples of 4.

1. Cast on 28 stitches leaving a long tail

2. Start double knit pattern and continue for 1" (3cm), finishing on Wrong Side (WS)

3. Switch to Seed / Moss stitch pattern until piece is desired length - on my short gloves I worked the pattern for 3" (8cm) but you can make them longer if you like.

4. Switch back to double rib as above for 1"

5. Cast off in rib stitch (not too tightly!) leaving a long tail

6.Sew seam into a tube with Right Side (RS) together using the long tails from your cast on and cast off, leaving a 1" hole below the top piece of ribbing for your thumb to poke through. Turn the right way out and you are finished!

Hope this is simple and straightforward for you to knit and make up - let me know your feedback!


Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Blogging Woes...

My blog is pretty reliant on photos as you can see from my past posts. It doesn't quite work otherwise.

Imagine my horror when blogger decided not to post my pictures! Bah! Despite lots of trying I just can't post any gorgeous pictures. It seems it's a common and known problem the techy's are trying to fix... but it is frustrating...

You can view some of my gorgeous photos in the mean time on my Flickr page, and of course on my Ravelry page with all my fab patterns.

Hopefully full blog service will be resumed soon - I want to show you the glorious sunshine we are having here, and I've got a fab pattern I want to share with you.


Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Knitting Pattern: Ribbed Slouch Hat

Here is a cool pattern I love to knit - it's really simple slouchy hat, but looks good on guys or gals, can be adapted for any yarn type, gauge or size. 

You need to be able to:

  • Knit in the round (I'm using circular / magic loop needles, but you can do this on double pointed needles)
  • Knit (k)
  • Purl (p)

You will need: 

  • Circular knitting needle - 60cm / 14" approx - I'm using 4mm needles OR double pointed needles if you prefer
  • Large eye needle
  • Scissors


I've used Double Knit (DK) yarn in a light grey, using 4mm needles. You can adapt this pattern for any needle size - for chunky yarn you cast on less stitches, for finer yarn you cast on more.

I have a 23" circumference head and this pattern fits me well.


Cast on 88 stitches (increase or decrease in multiples of 4)

Place a stitch marker, and knit your first stitch into the other end of the row of stitches so you form a circle - be careful not to twist the cast on stitches!

Repeat the following pattern for 1 round: k2, p2; you will end on a purl stitch.

Round 2 onwards: repeat the same k2, p2 pattern for each round to the desired length. I like my hat slouchy, so I made it 10 inches long.

Decrease: When the hat is long enough, decrease by knit 2 stitches together (k2tog), purl 2 stitches together (p2tog); continue to the end of the round, ending on p2tog.

Next row: k1, p1 to end of round, end on p1

Finish: cut a long tail, then thread the end onto a large needle. Thread the needle though the loops of the stitches on the needle. Remove needle and pull the loose thread to close the whole until the stitches are gathered into a tight circle, then sew in loose end securely.

Want to make the hat bigger or smaller? You add or subtract the number of stitches you cast on in multiples of 4 (so I could cast on 92 or 96 if I wanted it a bit bigger)

Hope you enjoy! Let me know how it goes if you try it. You can see my other free patterns on Ravelry too


Sunday, 20 March 2011

We have a winner - and a sad goodbye...

The time has come to announce the winner of my giveaway - 59 entries in all; so pleased!

The winner was picked using a random number generator at 2pm GMT this afternoon. So, the new owner of this gorgeous headband IS...

Pegs from PeggyLikesStuff - entry number 5!

Sadly, this giveaway result is tinged with sadness for me too. After looking at the figures, my full time job, poor health and generally dismal sales, I've come to the painful decision to close my Etsy shop.

I'm really sad, as I enjoy doing it, but I can't afford the amount I'm loosing each month. It seems a common tale with craft sellers;  a flooded market place, high cost of materials, the massive amount of time and effort it takes to promote yourself - it's a full time job in itself. I alas don't have the luxury of giving up my 9 - 5 job,  and short of working every hour under the sun, making myself pretty ill and probably a bit crazy in the process, I'm calling it a day.

That's not to say I'm not carrying on crafting - I will be still beavering away. It's going to be a challenge to find homes for my constant making habit! In a way I'm quite looking forward to making things for myself again, but I'm still really sad...

In store I'm having a huge closing down sale, with items at rock bottom prices. I've got to shut shop before the end of the tax year (April 5th) so anything not sold will be taken down from the store in the first few days of April.

So if you have liked what I've been producing - this is your last chance to buy it!

I'm going to keep blogging - showing you my knitted works, posting knitting patterns and generally chatting about life here in Wales - and if you would like a custom order you can get in touch through my blog to arrange this.

Thanks to everyone for your support - it's been great to know my knitted creations have new homes across the world!


Thursday, 10 March 2011

Blog Giveaway Time!

It's a new year in 2011 and I'm overdue to give away a cool, funky and totally unique knitted creation! I'm celebrating the weather warming up here in Wales, the start of the longer days, more day trips and more time to knit - my creative juices are flowing!

I've been really hard at it trying to create lots of new stock for the shop, launching lots of new styles, designs and colour palettes - so I thought I'd give you all a chance to win a one of a kind item not yet in store:

You can get your hands on a gorgeous teal 100% wool spiral knit headband - this headband is knitted in the round so no seams, and the ribbing holds it in place. This one of a kind piece is so versatile you can wear it all tie time - you won't want to take it off!

This giveaway is open worldwide so everyone can enter - it is really simple, no games or catches - a very straightforward giveaway!

You get automatic entry into the competition if you:

a. Leave me a comment under this blog entry saying what you would buy from my Etsy shop if you had a blank cheque…
b. You get another entry if you have left a message and follow my blog.
c. You get another entry for following me on Facebook
d. You will get another entry if you follow me on Twitter
e. Lastly if you tweet or post on your own blog a link back to this blog competition you get another entry.

So maximum of 5 chances to win… - how cool is that!? Leave 1 comment per entry please!

Please make sure when you leave your comment on this blog post that you say where I can contact you (Email address, Etsy username, Twitter handle, Facebook page etc)

Winner will be picked at random on Sunday 20th March 2011 and the winner announced on this blog!

Pob Lwc!

(Good Luck!)


Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus!

...Happy St. Davids Day! Last year when I tried to educate the masses on Wales National Day last year I encountered bewilderment and bemusement. So this time around I'm going to provide a crash course in some essentials you will need to get to grips with this magnificent of national days.

Most people will know St Patrick's Day in Ireland (and have probably enjoyed a few pints to celebrate) - St David is the patron saint for Wales where St Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, and St Andrew for Scotland. 

St Davids day is always on 1st March every year. It's not a public holiday (yet...) but celebrations take place across the country in schools, city centres and communities - and venues across the world - in 2003 the Empire State Building was lit up in the national colours of Wales (Red, White and Green) in celebration of the day!

Children in Wales take part in school concerts or "eisteddfodau", with recitation and singing being the main activities. There is usually a bake-off for mums and grannies to see who can make the best Welsh Cakes (also known as griddle scones, they are flat cakes with dried fruit inside) or Bara Brith (a traditional fruit cake)

Traditional dress is often worn by girls - this consists of a woollen skirt, white blouse, woollen shawl and a Welsh hat (a stove pipe style tall hat / bonnet) - I remember dressing up in this when I was in primary school!

To get you in the mood, I will share with you a recipe to bake your own Welsh Cakes:

You will need:
  • 225g plain flour
  • 85g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 100g butter cut into small pieces plus extra for frying
  • 50g currants
  • 1 beaten egg
  • Splash milk 
  • Rolling Pin
  • Small size cutter (6cm / 3")

  • Tip the flour, sugar, mixed spice, baking powder and a pinch of salt into a bowl. 
  • With your fingers, rub in the butter until crumbly. 
  • Mix in the currants. 
  • Work the egg into the mixture until you have soft dough, adding a splash of milk if it seems a little dry - it should be the same consistency as shortcrust pastry.
  • Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface to the thickness of your little finger. 
  • Cut out rounds using a small cutter, re-rolling any trimmings. 
  • Grease a flat griddle pan or heavy frying pan with butter, and place over a medium heat. 
  • Cook the Welsh cakes in batches, for about 3 mins each side, until golden brown, crisp and cooked through. 
These will keep in an airtight tin for up to 1 week - if you think they will last that long! 

So have a very happy St Davids Day one and all - and give the Welsh Cakes a go - they are very tasty!


Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Fancy a brew...?

I love a good cup of tea. It's more than that really - we have about 30 different kinds of tea in a special tea cupboard in the house; from black tea blends right through to fruit teas. I'm hooked!

Here are 3 of my fave tea brands:

Their Tea comes in some great bagged Temples (a great name for their pyramid shaped tea bags) and loose varieties such as jasmine, chocolate flake and oolong - yummy! The chamomile is probably the best ever thing for relaxing before going to bed!

Paned Gymreig
Of all the standard black tea bags out on the market at the moment to have at home or in the office, Welsh Brew is by far my favourite. Tea is a lot about the kind of water you have; soft or hard. The water here in Cardiff is soft (not so many minerals dissolved in it) so the tea is really good - if you have hard water buy a brand of tea specifically for hard water areas for the best cup of tea. For most people this tea will put a smile on your face from winter through to the height of summer

Norfolk Lavender Blend Tea
I was skeptical at first - lavender blend tea...? But I was pleasantly surprised - this Norfolk blend tea is based on Earl Grey, but has added oils and lavender blossoms. IT is a creamy and relaxing tea, which is said to help alleviate headaches. It's very tasty with a drop of milk too!

And how does one go about drinking such teas I hear you ask? In a teapot. Resist the urge to put the teabag in the mug - you really do need a tea pot to get the best cup of tea. This is my new teapot I had for Christmas - it's very cool!
 Follow these instructions to get a great pot of tea:
1. Boil water in the kettle
2. Pour a little of the boiling water in the pot, swirl and pour out. This warms the pot.
3. Pour the water into the pot, then add your teabag. Generally it's 1 per person (plus one for the pot if you like it a bit stronger) or 1 teaspoon of loose leaf tea.
4. Leave to infuse and brew for 3 - 4 minutes
5. Whilst this is happening, add your milk and sugar if desired into the cups
6. Check the tea has brewed to your liking (leave for longer for strong tea)
7. Pour into cups (if using loose leaf tea then you will need a tea strainer to catch the  leaves)
8. Enjoy!

As to the debate of whether the milk goes in before or after the tea goes in the cup I leave that one up to others to debate - and for you to choose!

One thing is for sure - you will need a tea cosy. No one wants cold tea by the second cup, so you need to keep it warm. You can go for a "tent" cosy which covers the entire pot, or a fitted cosy which acts like a woolly jumper for your cosy. These are my fave as you can pour the tea whilst the cosy keeps on warming your tea. These are some of my favourite cosies from in store:
These cosies are easily hand washed in case of accidents, and stretch to fit most sized pots. So the message is: Go loud and proud, or sophisticated and sleek - but do make lots of good tea and enjoy!


Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Knitting Pattern - The Quest for Cake Treats!

I love cake - alas I have a gluten and wheat intolerance, but I do LOVE cake when I can have it. One thing I haven't mastered making gluten free is doughnuts - I haven't eaten a doughnut for about 5 years now, and I won't be able to eat a proper scrumptious doughnut ever again...

This made me feel quite depressed - and want it even more! So to combat these cravings I decided to knit myself some forever doughnuts to cheer me up when I get the craving to eat one:

This time I went for delicious pink and purple icing, and added my own bead sprinkles. I'm feeling generous so I will share my recipe to knit these lovelies with you - and they are REALLY easy!

You will need:
1 x  pair of 4mm needles
1 x large eye needle
Small amount of beige / light brown DK yarn (under 25g)
Small amount of yarn for frosting (I've gone for pinks / purples but it's your doughnut!)
Small amount of stuffing (or scrap fabric / yarn to stuff the doughnut with)


CO 20 stitches
Row 1: knit all stitches
Row 2: purl all stitches
Continue in stocking stitch for 8 inches ending on a purl rowCast off knit wise leaving a long tail
Stitch up the short edges to form a ring shape Using the long tail, stitch up the long side into a doughnut shape leaving a 2" gap
Stuff the doughnut with the stuffing, then sew up the gap

CO 8 stitches
Knit all rows until it measures 8 inches and cast off
Stitch short edges together to form a ring
Stitch icing to top of doughnut covering seam where the stuffing gap was stitched up

Add embellishments as desired!

A perfect way to use up left over yarn from other projects too. They make great little gifts, pin cushions or display items.


Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Bow peep: A Celebration of Bows!

I love Bows - they cheer me up even on the most rubbish day. They come in all kinds of fabrics, colours and sizes. I thought I'd share a Rain Bow of different styles in a rainbow of colours in this special Etsy treasury:

I've been playing with the idea of making something with bows, but I couldn't think of how to go about it. For Christmas I knitted my office some different accessories as presents. One girl in the office is very trendy and forward thinking - she is always wearing something unique and cool. 

It was whilst thinking of what I could make her I stumbled across the idea of making a headband with a knitted bow. I had some gorgeous cream wool yarn left over from another project - so used this to make the headband. It looked great and went down well with all the office. So since then I've pulled it together into the Beau Bow!

I love the way the bow is textured and contrasts against the straight lines of the band. I launched this range in store this week, and have already sold out!! 

Couldn't believe it when one lovely customer in Illinois bought all 4 of my ready to ship bows in one go - fabulous!

So check out the Beau Bows in store - I'm adding more ready to ship stock as fast as I can knit it!


Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Love is in the air - getting in the mood for love!

It's February and the high street is turning pink and red full of fluffy hearts, tacky cards and not-so-sexy undies with the return of St Valentines Day

The day first became associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. Modern Valentine's Day symbols include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.

But why should this lovely day of love and affection for the one you love be just an overpriced card bought the day before, unwanted jewellery or some half dead flowers from the petrol station up the road - No!!

I really believe handmade is the way forward - even if you can't make it yourself, putting some serious time, effort and thought into some small token of your love shows you care. 

Take a look at some of these great ideas to show your love in the classiest, cutest and unique ways - and earn major brownie points for the year ahead!

Vintage can be a great way of getting a unique find for those without the creative spark to make something themselves. Searching may take time, but it is very much worth it to find a piece with character and a story behind it. This gorgeous pendant from CharleysRoses is fab - vintage but timeless!

A unique card you can keep is something I love - and this super cool card is definitely that - this clever card by   bjoytomac would adorn my office notice board for years to come! (I love cheese a LOT, so I'm not sure I could give my hubby THIS card...)

And for those who, like me, have 100s of teddies bought by well intentioned friends and loved ones - why not get your other half to invest in a heirloom teddy? This gorgeous bunny by woolies is hand made and will last from the first date though to old age! (and she does giraffes!!)

My contribution to this array of handmade schmaltz is my Smitten - the lover's mitten. Picture the scene - you are walking out in the park, holding hands, enjoying a frosty morning - but it's getting cold - dilemma; do you stop holding hands, try and hold hands with regular mittens or stick your hand in his pocket...??

Stop. Put your hands in the Smitten and problem solved! And as a bonus - it looks like a heart when flat!

So guys - I implore you - put some effort in this Valentines Day - if you can't make it yourself go to someone who can!

(and I hope NOT to see you picking flowers from the side of the road on the way to their house - you have been warned!!)


Friday, 21 January 2011

A Guide to Super Funky, Bulky, Chunky Yarns - Tried & Tested

I'm an impatient knitter - I like to see results quickly (It's all about the instant gratification...) - and for me the best way to achieve this is with using thick, heavyweight yarns from the Super Bulky / Chunky category.

I've been using a lot of different yarns from this category; here is a run down of some of the yarns in this weight:

Rowan Big Wool

This is not a cheap yarn - 100g is usually priced at around £8 (approx $13), it is 100% Merino wool spun 3 ply. It suggests knitting on 15mm needles, but this leaves a very open knit - for closer knit work I'd recommend 10 or 12mm needles. 

Plus points: It comes in a great range of colours, and 100g is about enough to make a good sized cowl or hat so you don't need lots of balls for a small project 
Downsides: It's expensive, a little itchy to start with (it does soften out with use) and is not as super chunky as "Big Wool" suggests...

Sirdar Bigga

This yarn really is super chunky - knits up on 12 -15mm needles brilliantly, is much cheaper than Big Wool at around £3 (approx $5) for a 100g wool (though with less yardage) - made up of 50% wool and 50% acrylic.

Plus points: On the bulkier end of the spectrum, comes in a selection of earthy tones, wears well with the acrylic content
Downsides: Getting harder to get hold of as Sirdar have discontinued a lot of colours (still available to buy on ebay in good quantities), 

Sirdar Big Softie

Available more widely, this acrylic blend is 51% wool and 49% acrylic, and softer than Bigga. It is spun single ply, so does stretch when knitting if knitted too tight. Knits up well on 10mm needles, and is a great low cost option for those on a budget at £2.50 (approx $4 ) a ball on average.

Plus points: Cheaper than most super bulky yarns, versatile, softer feel
Downsides: Limited colour options, sheds when knitting, acrylic content noticeable in finished product - fine for accessories, may make a very hot and sticky jumper...

Debbie Bliss Como

I've been raving about this yarn for a while - it has the consistency of cotton wool, and is 90% wool, 10% cashmere. It is not cheap at around £6 (approx $10) for 50g, but knits up on 10mm needles beautifully. I have made a beret style hat out of 50g, 100g would do a thin scarf or a bigger hat and headband. Felts great too!

Plus points: Feels gorgeous against the skin, comes in a wide range of colours, is widely available in store and online, and easy to work with.
Downside: It is really expensive! Look out for people clearing out their stash on ebay if you are on a budget, and is not hard wearing.

Twilleys of Stamford Freedom Wool

I found this one a little harder to get hold of in store, but is available on line. At £2.50 (approx $4) for 50g and 100% wool content, it felts well, knits up on 12mm - 15mm needles, and would be a cheaper alternative to Como.

Plus points: Felts well, good value, comes in a good range of colours
Downsides: Not that hard wearing (but nor is Como really!)

Jiffy Thick & Quick Lion Brand Yarn

This popular US brand is available widely in the US, but I have found a European supplier too! Jiffy is a mohair type 100% acrylic yarn - a good vegan alternative to wool, and knits up on 12mm needles

Plus points: Great choice for those who can't wear wool, harder wearing than some yarns tested
Downsides: Only comes in 8 shades, all multi coloured - not much choice

Wool Ease Thick & Quick Lion Brand Yarn

This acrylic / wool blend of 80% wool and 20% acrylic is available in over 30 colours, and knits up on 9mm needles, so not as bulky as other yarns, but at £6.50 for 170g of yarn it is a good choice for larger projects. 

(Note: It seems more expensive in Europe than in America, where I can purchase from Lion at $7.80 (approx £4.80) a ball...)

Plus Points: Versatile, comes in a wide range of colours, larger balls so better value
Downsides: I don't like paying more for the same yarn just because I live in the UK! 

Deborah Norville Serenity Chunky
This 100% acrylic yarn is great for those who can't wear wool - it is soft and won't split when working with it - it is a 2 ply spun yarn. Retailing at around $4.50 in a good range of colours, but is difficult to get outside the US. Knits up on 8mm needles.

Plus points: Great alternative to wool, knits up well, durable
Downsides: Hard to get here in UK - more expensive again to buy here at £6 a ball, not as bulky as some of the yarns reviewed

There are also lots of homespun bespoke yarns out there locally and online from artisans spinning and dyeing yarns which I've not covered here as they vary so much between suppliers - but I urge you to seek out your local spinners for special yarns!

There are patterns available for all of these yarns - I am useless with patterns and tend to make up what I'm doing as I go along! A lot of the time you can substitute yarns from the list above (for example you can substitute Como for Big Wool to good effect on some projects)
My Big Wool cowl & hat set using 200g wool
And as a final tip - for those of you on a tight budget, or have found your dream yarn but it's too thin - you can double or even triple the yarn up and work with it this way. It may take a tension square or two and a bit of trial and error to get it just right, but it's something I do a lot!

Giant Scarf - Sirdar Bigga doubled up for extreme knitting!
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