Namaste: Crafting Is A New Yoga (yarn review)

My mother in law often says that crochet is yoga for brain. And I agree with her, as I can feel that myself. There was a lot said about positive impact of crochet (and knitting) on mental health. And when I crochet I can feel that stress is going away, I am calming down and slowly get into a very special meditative mood. Which can keep me crocheting for hours, and hours.

I don’t practice yoga on a regular basis, but I remembered of it because of new Scheepjes yarn released last week. It’s called Namaste. As an early bird I was lucky to receive two skeins for myself. And today I would like to share my thoughts about it.






Namaste* is a chunky and light like feather yarn that comes in skeins of 100g/85m (3.53 ounces/ 93 yards). It contains 50% virgin wool and 50% acrylic – perfect combination for a wide variety of projects. I can see blankets, chunky sweaters and shawls in my nearest future.

The color palette is gorgeous. Scheepjes did think very well of colors to translate the meditative mood: 34 shades in total, and you can also create some very beautiful ombre combination.

8mm hook/needles are recommended by the label, but apparently I didn’t have the same size at home, so I first made a knitting sample with 7mm needles. And they work very well.

One spin makes Namaste a perfect knitting yarn, but the stitches look very well in crochet as well. No need to mention how wonderful the yarn feels. As if you crochet with air.

We, Scheepjes bloggers, were joking we should show our own yoga poses on our blogs together with Namaste yarn. It was a joke of course, but because I take everything very seriously, here are my pictures. As you can guess, I am not a frequent yoga-maker. It took me almost one hour to shoot several pictures which can be used for a blog. So obviously, no more yoga for me today. :)

Namaste yarn is already available in local Scheepjes shops and via online retailers:

WoolWarehouse* and Deramores* (both in UK, international shipping)
Caro’s Atelier* (NL and Europe)
Knotty House* (Canada) and
Taemombo (Canada & US)

I have already placed a huge yarn order for myself. It should arrive soon together with new 8mm needles. And I can’t wait to start working on something new! Hopefully a new sneak peek will be ready soon.

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An Explosion in My Crochet World, or One Day at Black Sheep Wools

My little world of crochet has exploded. Into numerous colors, new acquaintances and emotions. Last weekend the first ever public appearance of my life happened. An appearance as a crochet designer, I mean. Black Sheep Wools*, one of the largest yarn shops in the UK hosted a Scheepjes Day last Saturday. I was invited as a guest designer together with Dedri Uys of LookAtWhatIMade, an author of Ubuntu CAL, Sophie’s Universe blanket and many more wonderful crochet designs. And everything felt surreal.

This was my second visit to UK this summer. Me and my husband have only recently gained an EU citizenship, and United Kingdom was the first destination on our wish list. The July was all about Liverpool and Beatles. We went to Strawberry Fields, and Penny Lane, and to Cavern Club of course (three times in two days). And I discovered UK to be a wonderful country. With amazing clouds (really, all shades of grey you can ever think of – all of them are carried by the clouds in UK), charismatic weather (I learned that umbrella might be my best friend for a while), and absolutely lovely and friendly people!

And last week I flew to UK again. This time to the village of Culcheth (Warrington, Cheshire) where Black Sheep Wools, the largest knitting store in the country, is situated. It takes only 30 minutes to drive to Culcheth from Manchester, and you get into the… yarn heaven.

Yarn Heaven and Black Sheep Wools


Black Sheep Wools* was established in 1983, and from the very beginning it has been a family business, run by a team of dedicated people. And once you enter the shop, you can feel the love and care about everything. The store is big! And you can easily get lost among the isles with yarn of different brands, fabrics, craft tools, embroidery kits, and other. Many people come here for a day trip. And some of them whispered to my ear that they come regularly not only because of the yarn, but also because of the most delicious home-made cakes at the recently opened Tea Bags Full! And I can confirm – they ARE delicious.
Happy me waiting for a cake :)

But it’s not only yarn and craft accessories of different kinds you can find here. Black Sheep Wools host workshops and drop in sessions* on a weekly basis – all with known designers and professional tutors. Just to give you an idea, the coming workshop are the Art of Fair Isle with Melanie Boocock, Anatomy of Knitted Shawls with Heike Gittens, Beeded Crochet with Sophia Reed, and many more.






Here is what Sara Mulvey, the director of Black Sheep Wools is saying:

“The store was set up by my mum. Stephen joined her two years later and opened six more stores. All the stores have now been merged into one large Craft Barn, but still in the village where we started. We believe we are the biggest yarn store in England but still try to keep the ethos of a small shop. The shop is staffed by keen knitters, crocheters and stitchers who love enabling other crafters!”

Scheepjes Day, Ubuntu and Dedri


Last Saturday a Scheepjes Day was hosted at Black Sheep Wools. It was also a launch party for an Ubuntu CAL, which officially started today! (Did you miss something? Hurry up to grab your own kit, make a gauge swatch and begin with thousands of other crocheters all over the world).

Dedri and her medium Ubuntu blanket

The shop was decorated with crochet projects by Dedri and me. The centerpieces, of course, were made by three Ubuntu blankets. And then visitors could see my Spirits of Life wraps* (the kits are still available, yay!), Brioche and Nya Mosaic blankets, Grinda shawls and Indigo Shrug*, my Lilla Bjorn sweater and several mandalas. Everything looked fabulous with the background of isles with Scheepjes yarns, and Black Sheep Wools carries LOTS of Scheepjes yarns.
Isles with Scheepjes yarns, Indigo shrug and Lilla Bjorn sweater

Because it was my first ever public appearance as a crochet designer, I felt very excited and nervous at the same time. I didn’t really know how everything would go and what was expected from me. But as soon as first visitors arrive, I could breathe out and relax.

You know, there is something surreal about meeting people, who follow your blog and recreate your designs. My daily life consists of a small corner in my living room with a small computer desk and a sofa where I usually crochet and design watching TV. And then I am blogging (sitting at the same small desk by the window, with a cup of morning coffee)… And then… I suddenly meet real people, who are actually reading my blog! That’s feels very, I don’t know, happy! And surreal at the same time.
Dedri teaching crochet

I met Karen and Bev. Karen was studying Russian language in Saint Petersburg, and we chatted in Russian a little bit. And then a lovely lady Jane came in. she brought me a box of chocolate just to thank you for my Spirits of Life CAL… Seriously, I have never felt anything like this before. It all felt like I found a new family. Dedri met some old friends, too. They came to Black Sheep Wools on that particular day to see her, and to hug her.
River's Walk shawl

We were talking about crochet, smiling and laughing, eating delicious cakes, making Friendship bracelet (I’ve received the tag “Be kind. Always”). We taught each other crochet tricks, we were fighting gauge and choosing the right hook for the right yarn. It was fantastic! And time flew fast.

That was the best experience of my short crochet life :) And I am very grateful for this opportunity.
We are making friends and Friendship bracelets
 

Early Morning at Manchester Art Gallery, and a crochet horse


It was time to fly home the next day, and because I had a few hours left before my flight, I decided to take a walk to Manchester Art Gallery. Museums and art galleries are free in the UK, and that was another nice surprise.

Guess what a found among oil paintings from 18-19th centuries? A yarn bombed sculpter of a head of a horse. Looks mysterious, doesn’t it?

And then I found my favourite place. A large painting of the sea and two comfy chairs in front of it. I think I spent at least a half an hour in one of them. Looking at the waves and thinking of wonderful days I had. And realizing I would love to come back… One day.

All my crochet samples will stay at Black Sheep Wools for a while. So if you are in UK and would like to see them for real - feel free to come. And I wish I could join you.

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Granny Square Flair: book review and giveaway

Everyone knows what a granny square is. Even people who are not quite familiar with crochet have seen the granny squares most likely. And granny squares are first thing that comes to our mind when we think of crochet. Our grandmothers and grand grandmothers made them. But as everything else, crochet is developing constantly, and new stitches are born every day. And today granny squares may look very different. Modern and fresh. Granny Square Flair book by Shelley Husband of Spincushions, which was published recently, collects of wonderful selection of such modern and fresh granny squares. And today I would like to share my thoughts about this book.
Granny Square Flair book by Shelley Husband of @Spincushions. Reviewed by www.lillabjorncrochet.com
“Making crochet squares is gratifying in so many ways. They give you a sense of achievement, since you can complete a square easily in one sitting. You get to do a little happy dance every time you finish one.” Shelley Husband

DISCLOSURE: My copy of Granny Square Flair book arrived on August 28th – just on the day of my birthday. And opening the package delivered from UK felt like a real birthday gift. Shelley Husband sent me a copy of her book for review, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

What’s inside Granny Square FLAIR book?


As already mentioned, Granny Square Flair book includes instructions for 50 modern granny squares. And all of them come in one size: approx. 15cm/6in when made with 8ply/DK/light worsted yarn and a 4mm (G) hook, if your tension is average. There are also suggestions given on how to adjust the size and make squares larger or smaller.
Granny Square Flair book by Shelley Husband of @Spincushions. Reviewed by www.lillabjorncrochet.com

Before jumping to patterns’ instructions it might be helpful to study several chapters about different types of yarn and hooks, joining methods and pattern notes. I just love Shelley’s seamless tips – something new to learn and use in my own designing work.

Each pattern in placed on a separate page in the book together with written round-by-round instructions, a chart, a picture of a finished square (I love the idea of showing off all squares in one off-white color) and several colorful version with different shades.




Although I prefer to crochet with charts whenever possible, I found some of them to be difficult to read. Because of several layers being used at the same time. For these complex squares I would choose to follow written instructions (and they are easy to understand) with partial referral to the charts. In general I would say Flair book is perfect for both beginners and advanced crocheters, as everyone will find something for himself.

I couldn’t help myself and tried my hook on Iron Lace square. Isn’t its texture lovely?
Granny Square Flair book by Shelley Husband of @Spincushions. Reviewed by www.lillabjorncrochet.com

Next chapter of Granny Square Flair book is not less exciting as it shows 11 crochet projects made with granny squares listed in the book. I honestly love all of them, but because recently I am all about gradient and variegated yarn, my absolute favourites are Melbourne Wrap and Dahlia Scarf.

Melbourne Wrap was made by Shelley with my own colorway of Our Tribe yarn by Scheepjes*.
Melbourne Wrap. Crochet design by Shelley Husband of @Spincushions
Photo by Jo O’Keefe





And Dahlia Scarf uses two skeins of Our Tribe yarn in shade Haak Maar Raak.
Dahlia Scarf. Crochet design by Shelley Husband of @Spincushions
Photo by Jo O’Keefe


Finally Shelley Husband suggests tips for how to design your own crochet projects using granny squares: how to choose yarn, patterns and layout. And how to estimate approx. yardages for a project.

In the very end of the Granny Square Flair book you will find a complete Glossary with all crochet stitches used in the patterns, their descriptions and explanation of symbols from the charts.

Where to Buy


The book is available as a hardcopy ($29.99) and as E-book ($14.99). If you’re in Australia, you can purchase the book directly through Shelley’s website (if you want to support crochet designers, please consider buying from them directly!) If you’re located elsewhere, you can find the book through other retailers such as:

Amazon.com* (paperback)
Amazon.co.uk (paperback)
Barnes & Nobles (paperback)
Bookdepository (paperback)

You can purchase the PDF E-book from Shelley’s website, too (link is listed above, just scroll down a little bit), no matter where you are located.
Granny Square Flair book by Shelley Husband of @Spincushions. Reviewed by www.lillabjorncrochet.com

GIVEAWAY


Shelley has kindly gifted one hardcopy of Granny Square Flair book for a giveaway. If you would like to win it, please, comment below this post with an answer to a simple question:

Are you enjoying making granny squares? And why?

For an additional entry, please, follow lillabjorncrochet and Spincushions on Instagram, then come back to my blog and leave another comment here. The giveaway will run through September 24th, 2018, and a happy winner will be picked randomly and announced here on the same day. Good luck everyone!

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Fire Square crochet pattern (not only for Christmas!)

After entering designing world of crochet 4 years ago, I have learnt that Christmas in July is a huge “event”, or “movement”. Many crafters all over the world start preparing for Christmas and are creating gifts for their family members and friends. Every year I was telling myself I should join in and design something special in July. But because I am terrible with “seasonal crochet” and always miss all dates, it never happened in a proper way. This year, however, I was right on time with a new design. But because of Grinda MAL and a puppy story there was a delay again… However! Here it is! One month late, lol.

As you might now, I am Belarusin by origin living in the Czech Republic for 10 years already. Two years ago my best Belarusian friend Natasha visited me in Brno right before Christmas. And she brought a very special present. A handmade glass bauble with traditional Belarusian ornament meaning 'wealth', or its slight modification meaning 'fire'. It’s interesting that the same ornamental sign can be seen in different cultures. And this particular square is known to be a Christmas one. But because this ornament is ancient, it's obviously good not only for Christmas :)



A new design idea? Yes, of course!

Let me introduce a Fire Square crochet pattern. It consists of a lace fabric with the same stitch, as in Grinda shawl and Indigo Shrug (yes, I am secretly in love with this stitch and am using it almost everywhere now…) and textured pattern with front post stitches and popcorns.

The pattern is on sale during this weekend (through Monday, September 3rd, 2018) with 20% off both on Ravelry HERE and Etsy HERE. The discount was already applied to price and no codes are needed. After that date Fire Square will be offered at a full price 4.5$ (+VAT if you are in EU or Australia).
Add this pattern to your Ravelry Queue
or Pin It for later

I used Sport weight yarn (Stone Washed by Scheepjes) in solid shade – slightly under 3 skeins for one square. I believe one solid colour works best for this pattern. With 4mm crochet hook it turned out quite big – approx. 50cm/20”. Just the perfect size for a pillow cover, and I sewed both my squares onto ready fabric pillowcases from IKEA (see a how-to video tutorial HERE).






The pattern contains full written instructions and step-by-step pictures for every round. Please, note that NO chart is included, and the pattern is only available in English with US crochet terms (so far).

If you would like to use the same yarn as me, you can find Stone Washed in local Scheepjes shops. Or via larger online retailers, such as:

Wool Warehouse* (UK, international shipping)
Black Sheep Wools* (UK, international shipping)
Deramores* (UK, international shipping)
Caro’s Atelier* (NL and Europe)

I believe Fire square will make a wonderful afghan block. If you use different yarn (fingering, lace or even thread) with a smaller hook, you will get smaller squares. And they can be joined together into blankets! Maybe even with squares in different colors? Or... How do you like an idea of making this square with thread and sewing it onto linen pad for a festive pin cushion? It could make a wonderful gift for your crafty friend!

Look at what Laura (aka @taemombo on Ravelry) made using Fire square. She combined it together with Indigo shrug pattern which was transformed into a new and unique garment! Just in case you would like to make the same shrug, Laura used one Whirl and one Whirlette. However only 8g of Whirlette was left after the hem was completed. So if your gauge tends to be loose you might want to add one more Whirlette, to be on the safe side.

Laura is my creative muse :) Whatever I design she always brings my patterns to one step forward by rethinking them and combining in a very creative way. Check, for example, her Celtic blanket, Sunny blanket, First Snow blanket, or her Northern Lights blanket! I am so happy that crochet and Scheepjes yarns inspired Laura to open her own yarn shop (yay!). It’s called Taemombo, and it can be found HERE. If you live in Canada and are looking for Scheepjes yarns, please support Laura and purchase from her.

If Fire Square inspired you to make a Christmas gift for someone, or just yourself, please jump to my shop on Ravelry HERE or Etsy HERE. And I will be looking forward to see your beautiful creations!

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Ubuntu CAL with Dedri Uys

It’s being that time of the year, exciting one. When a new Scheepjes CAL is coming! CAL’s (crochet-a-longs) have become extremely popular recently. And not only because it’s fun to crochet together with people from all over the world – to get help and support if needed. But also because when we join the CAL we get this special feeling of belonging. Belonging to a bigger (much bigger!) crochet community of friendly, crafty and dedicated people. Every CAL hosted by Scheepjes is a very exciting event! And this year is not an exception. And – yay! – this year’s designer is Dedri Uys! A legendary person in many ways, and the creator of epic blanket Sophie’s Universe. Which was actually the first CAL of this kind, launched back in 2015.
Ubuntu CAL (crochet-a-long). #Free crochet pattern by Dedri Uys, and Scheepjes

As you know I am honored to be one of the official Scheepjes bloggers. Today we are the team of 17 people including a mystery Simy Somer, a creative director of Scheepjes. We call ourselves The Tribe. And we ARE the tribe, indeed. Supportive, friendly and sharing. We chat every single day and share our ideas, concerns, fears and success. But even being so close to each other we have absolutely NO idea what the next CAL will be. And who is the designer. :)

When approximately a month ago Dedri posted a sneak peek of her Ubuntu blanket, my jaw dropped down. I suspected something was going behind the scene, but I couldn’t even imagine what a beauty would come out. Though, knowing Dedri, who would hesitate she would come up with a masterpiece again. So ta-dah! Here is Ubuntu CAL by Scheepjes and Dedri Uys. And we begin on September 12th, 2018.
Ubuntu CAL (crochet-a-long). #Free crochet pattern by Dedri Uys, and Scheepjes

Ubuntu – (n) the belief that we are defined by our compassion and kindness towards others.

You’ll find complete information about the idea behind the blanket, materials needed and kits on Dedri’s website HERE. Some stores already have the kits for presale, but officially they will go live on August 22nd, 2018 (or around this date). So if you want to have a kit you might need to hurry up and “book” one for yourself – now! As no doubt they will be sold out fast! Please, support Dedri and purchase the kits via link on her blog. As she might receive a tiny compensation for each purchase, while for you it will not cost a penny. But before you jump to Dedri’s blog to read everything, I would like to share something personal. About me and Dedri.

We got acquainted virtually three years ago. At the time her Sophie’s Universe CAL was running. But I started to follow her blog earlier, and Dedri was number one among my crochet idols (and she still is). Later the same year I was honored to join Scheepjes team, and I got the chance to know Dedri personally.

I don’t know how I sound on my blog and what you think about me as a person. As every blogger, I might have a certain “image”, or something… I don’t know. And when I met Dedri for the first time, she appeared not the same as I had been imagining her for 2 years. She was, like, different! Alive :) and very human. I am a total introvert and for me it’s difficult to get along with new people. And Dedri made everything possible for me to feel comfortable. And I fell in love with her. Again!

“Ubuntu” CAL is about spreading love and friendship. It’s about support to each other… And this is all about Dedri.
Ubuntu CAL (crochet-a-long). #Free crochet pattern by Dedri Uys, and Scheepjes

Right now I am trying to save a small homeless puppy I found in the streets of Minsk (in Belarus – my home country). Her name is Milana, she has not found a new home, yet. But I believe we will be a success. You can read Milana’s story HERE, and maybe help, if you wish. When I shared her picture with my Scheepjes Tribe, Dedri fell in love with Milana, and even wanted to adopt her. Unfortunately her landlords came back with a long list of requirements which means Milana cannot travel to UK. But these three days of waiting for their reply were filled with hope. And strong feeling I was not alone. That there was someone out there, in the bigger world, caring as much as I did. And it was Dedri…

Come and join us for Ubuntu CAL. And let’s spread a little bit more of love and caring to the world.

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