Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Land Ahoy!

A few months ago I mentioned that I had embarked upon a tunisian crochet project of “epic” proportions. Well, it looks like the time has come for the big reveal…

…it’s a crocheted map of the British Isles! Well, so far it’s only the south of England and a bit of Wales, but the rest is making steady progress. Hopefully it will eventually be stretched and framed or used as a wall hanging in one of our shops. 

 The map is composed of 27 panels, each of which are 20 stitches wide and 80 stitches high. The final map will probably be about 6ft or 1.5m tall (in other words, big enough to stand in front of and read the weather).

I’ve worked each panel in a mix of intarsia and stranded colourwork, depending on the placement of the colours in relation to one another. Rows with lots of green and lots of blue are worked stranded, while rows which are, say, blue at one side and green at the other are worked as intarsia.

I’ve joined each panel with a method that was as close to mattress stitch as I could manage, which means that the overall picture is not disrupted by crazy seams. Another upshot of this is that there are also these cool ridges on the back that seem to be lending it some structural stability and keeping it from sagging when it is hanging up.

Post by Heather.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

McAree Advent : Day 24

Day 24: Today's offering is a FREE PATTERN for modern, chunky cowls.  There are 3 styles to choose from, so pick your favourite! 

The yarn is Rowan Big Wool for a quick and easy knit.

Monday, 23 December 2013

McAree Advent : Day 23

Day 23: A cute, little holiday project for you today.  Knit these tiny Winter Animals using our FREE PATTERN.  There's a polar bear, a rabbit, a penguin, a robin and a sheep to choose from, or you can knit them all!.

The yarns are Rowan Angora Haze, Fine Tweed and British Sheep Breeds Boucle Fine.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

McAree Advent : Day 22

Day 22: Knit yourself a chunky hat with today's FREE PATTERN.  It only takes one ball of the vibrant SMC Neon Mix!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

McAree Advent : Day 21

Day 21: Flying home for Christmas?  Don't forget your yarn cutter pendant!  Perfect for snipping those ends of yarn when you're not allowed scissors on a plane!

Friday, 20 December 2013

McAree Advent : Day 20

Day 20: Another FREE PATTERN, and this time for some snowflake slippers.  We don't want you catching a cold!

Knitted in gorgeous Rowan Felted Tweed DK and cosy British Sheep Breeds Boucle Fine.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

McAree Advent : Day 19

Day 19: "Baby, it's cold outside..."

Why not warm up with this FREE PATTERN for a cosy hot water bottle cover?  Knitted in the beautiful Rowan British Sheep Breeds DK, though any standard DK yarn will do!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

McAree Advent : Day 18

Day 18: Wrapping presents is easy with the Clover Bow Maker!  Use ribbon, yarn, fabric, beads - anything you can think of, to create beautiful bow embellishments.  View the how-to video on our website to see how it's done.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

McAree Advent : Day 17

Day 17: Something for the home today with a FREE PATTERN for a chunky cabled cushion.

The yarn is Rowan's beautiful, natural chunky British Sheep Breeds.

Monday, 16 December 2013

McAree Advent : Day 16

Day 16: These polka dot craft bags would make a lovely present for any crafter.  Check out the whole range here.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

McAree Advent : Day 15

Day 15: Struggling to shop for your crafty friend?  Worried your other half won't buy you the right yarn?  Fear not - we have gift vouchers!

Saturday, 14 December 2013

McAree Advent : Day 14

Day 14: How about another FREE PATTERN?  Today's is this cute little Teddy Bear by Jem Weston! 

He's knitted in beautiful Rowan Panama and Wool Cotton 4 Ply, but you could use any 4 Ply yarn to create your own little character.

Friday, 13 December 2013

McAree Advent : Day 13

Day 13: We're all rushing to finish our Christmas present projects, but have you thought about your Christmas holiday project?  Once all the gifts have been given, what will you have on your pins?

Why not take a look at our 20 to Make range - there's something there to suit everyone, and they're full of little projects that you can pick up and set down between visitors.  We love this Crochet Granny Squares book!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

McAree Advent : Day 12

Day 12: Another one-day offer for you!  This time, it's the colouful, cosy Sirdar Indie - buy it today only for just £2.50!  Tomorrow it will be back to it's normal price of £3.20 per ball, so don't miss out.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

McAree Advent : Day 11

Day 11: Jean Greenhowe is always very popular at Christmas.  Her sweet, little characters knit up very quickly and often use less than 25g of yarn.  They make lovely decorations or unusual gifts.  We love these cheerful snowmen from Christmas Treasures in their Winter accessories!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

McAree Advent : Day 10

Day 10: If you're a fan of ruffle scarves, then you might like to take advantage of today's Advent offer!  For one day only, you can purchase a hank of Wendy Frills for just £5.95 instead of the usual £8.95!

Monday, 9 December 2013

McAree Advent : Day 9

Day 9: Another very special offer for you today!  Our SMC Savanti is reduced to just £4.50 for our 9th day of Advent.  It's a super chunky, super cosy pure wool - perfect for Winter accessories!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

McAree Advent : Day 8

Day 8: A cute snail tape measure to brighten up your sewing kit!  These little fellas come in pink, blue and green, but which colour will you get?  It's a surprise!

Saturday, 7 December 2013

McAree Advent : Day 7


Day 7: We love these beautiful shawl pins!  They're part of a luxury rosewood range by KnitPro, and would make the perfect little extra or stocking filler

Friday, 6 December 2013

McAree Advent : Day 6

Day 6: We've got a very special offer for you today. Our Adriafil Crea Chunky is reduced from £4.65 to just £2.95!  This offer will last for today only, so don't miss it!

This vibrant, chunky, pure wool is very soft and cosy.  It's perfect for making felted items such as bags or slippers - great last-minute gift ideas!

Thursday, 5 December 2013

McAree Advent : Day 5

Day 5: Have you got your Christmas tree up yet?  Need some inspiration to help you deck your halls?  Look no further than this little book - 20 To Make: Felt Christmas Decorations.  It's full of mini projects to make you feel merry.  You can even order your felt squares at the same time.

Check out our whole range of 20 To Make books for more gift ideas.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

McAree Advent : Day 4

Day 4: Can't think of what to make for the man in your life?  Check out today's offering - a FREE pattern for a knitted tie and bow tie.

It knits from just one hank of the Rowan Fine Art, a beautiful, hand-painted sock yarn.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

McAree Advent : Day 3

Day 3: What better present for a knitter than a set of interchangeable pins?  All the sizes you need in one little pouch! 

We love this luxury set of bamboo interchangeables (hint, hint, Santa!), but if that's a little out of your price range, we also have beautiful KnitPro and Knitting Essentials sets in stock.

Monday, 2 December 2013

McAree Advent : Day 2

Day 2: Ever tried your hand at needle felting?  Why not give this Penguin Kit a go?  It contains everything you need to get started, including easy-to-follow instructions to guide you on your way.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

McAree Advent : Day 1

Can't decide what presents to buy?  Need an extra stocking filler?  McAree Brothers are here to help!

Check out our McAree Advent Calendar for daily inspiration in the run up to Christmas.  Each day will bring a new gift idea, free pattern, discount deal or yarn review to help you make up your mind.

Today on Day 1 we have chosen the Sirdar A5 Notebooks.  These little books are perfect for a knitter or crochetier to jot down bits and pieces as they work through their patterns.  There are 6 to choose from, and each features a vintage Sirdar pattern on its front cover.  The pages are blank, so there's lots of room for sketching, calculating and pattern drafting!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Our Christmas Windows

Deck the halls! Deck the trees! Christmas time is coming!

Here at McArees, we have been preparing for the festive season with gusto and great cheer and have decorated three beautiful Christmas trees, loading them up with knitted decorations. We thought we’d share some of our favourites with you…

Classic Bauble (from Toy Collection) This is a classic, stripy knitted ball that looks effective and is very quick to knit up (took me 25 minutes). The lovely new shade of Sirdar Ella (shade 12 Bombshell) is particularly good for Christmas decorations - it’s red and it’s sparkly! What more could you ask?
Christmas Wreath (from Advent Calendar) A little more work than the bauble, this is still really easy and you can choose any colour you like to wrap around the body of the wreath, making it an ideal for coordinating with an existing colour scheme. You could even scale up the pattern with a super chunky yarn, like Rowan Big Wool and 10mm needles and hang it on your front door.
Fruit (from Advent Calendar) It’s never been clear to me why ornamental fruit is considered a traditional Christmas tree decoration. Perhaps it’s something to do with the partridge-containing pear tree from that song about extravagant Christmas giving. Perhaps not. Either way, pears and apples are great fun to knit and after Christmas you can put them in your fruit bowl to keep the real fruit company.
Snowman in a hat (from Toy Collection) This wee guy basically looks like a snow sausage until you add the all important hat and face. Very straight forward to knit and you can really go to town designing wacky hats, or use any Innocent Smoothie hats that you may have recently purchased atop a fruity beverage!
Christmas Tree (from Christmas Special) Aww, a tiny tree! This is an ideal knit if you live in a tiny flat and don’t have space for a full size tree. It’s also suitable for anyone who just thinks Christmas trees are great.

Post by Heather

Monday, 11 November 2013

Twitter Competition Winner

Our Twitter competition is now closed and we're pleased to announce that our winner is Yvette's Knits (@yvettesknits).  Congratulations!

We'll be in touch on Twitter so that we can send you your prize.  Now you have the difficult task of choosing your shades...  I'm sure you'll cope!

Commiserations, everyone else, and thank you to all who took part.  Keep your eyes peeled for future competitions and offers on all our social media pages.  Maybe next time you'll be the lucky one!


Friday, 8 November 2013

Twitter Competition


Amore and Amore Shimmer are the latest additions to the Rowan Kidsilk Family.  Both consist of strands of the ever popular Kidsilk Haze in a chainette construction.  The yarn is luxurious with it's mohair-silk blend, and has the added bonus of being heavier in weight, which is great for beginners who would like to try knitting with mohair.

When knitted, the fabric is still light and lofty enough, but cosy, and soft against the skin still with the usual fluffiness of the Kidsilk Haze.  If you do find that you need to rip out some of your knitting, you'll be pleased to hear that Amore is much easier to frog than its delicate relative.  (Ask me how I know!)  At present, Amore and Amore Shimmer only have 4 shades in each range.  

You would be forgiven for thinking, "There's not very much yarn on a ball!"  Amore has approximately 42 metres per 50g ball and Amore Shimmer has only 37 metres.  As it turns out, there's actually quite a lot you can do with less than 50m of yarn!  Take a look at some of these beautiful designs by the Rowan Ambassadors - each one knits from just one ball, and the best part is all the designs are available for FREE!  (You can find them all by following the "Click for Free Patterns" link on the Amore and Amore Shimmer pages on our website.)

Designs in Kidsilk Amore

Designs in Kidsilk Amore Shimmer

In addition, Rowan have released the Kidsilk Amore Collection containing a further 8 designs by Lisa Richardson, including shawls, wraps, hats, wrist warmers and a relaxed short sleeve sweater.  You'll be spoilt for choice!

To celebrate this lovely new yarn, we are giving away four (yes FOUR) balls in total.  The winner will be able to choose whether they would like Amore or Amore Shimmer, or a mixture of both, and whatever shades they like.  We're running this competition on our Twitter page - you can find us there @mcadirect.

In order to enter you need to do the following by midnight on Sunday, 10th November, 2013:
1.  Follow us on Twitter
2.  Retweet our competition tweet (the one that features the picture below)
3.  Reply to us @mcadirect to let us know you've entered and use the hashtag #McaComp


Terms and Conditions
1. There is no purchase necessary to enter this competition.
2. The competition will close at midnight (GMT) on Sunday, 11th November, 2013.  After this time, no further entries will be permitted.
3. The names of all successful entries will be added to a prize draw and the winner will be drawn from a hat at random.  We will notify the winner by DM on Twitter.
4. Entry into the competition will be deemed as acceptance of these terms and conditions.
5. This competition is being run by McAree Brothers and McA Direct, and is not endorsed by any social network.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

It’s Crochet, Jim, But Not As We Know It

Whilst browsing knitting needles and crochet hooks (yes, that is a thing that lots of us do, and no it's not that weird), you may have noticed what looks, at first glance, like a single knitting needle hanging in a packet by its solitary self.  If you then looked closer, you might even have noticed that the end is shaped like a crochet hook.  And you may have said to yourself, "What is this crafty implement, so long and so hooked?"

This instrument, dear readers, is a tunisian crochet hook.  And it is awesome.

Tunisian crochet is an interesting variant of crochet which produces a dense, tweedy-textured fabric if worked in a certain way, and a fabric that looks like the right side of a knitted stocking stitch when worked another way.  It's often described as a cross between knitting and crochet, as the stitches are worked in rows, rather than one at a time.

Tunisian crochet coasters, from fringeassociation.com

The fabric is constructed by pulling a loop of yarn up through each stitch and then working them all off.  In knitting terms, it's like casting them all on and then casting them all off every time.  It's pretty easy to get the hang of, and very, very addictive once you start.

Tunisian crochet is mega curly, but there are solutions

As a newcomer to crochet of the Tunisian variety, I've noticed that my work has a strange (and fairly extreme) tendency to curl up into a cottony tube, rather than staying nice and flat.  This, interestingly enough, is due to the thick loops that are formed on the back of the work, which increase the surface area to be much greater than the front of the work.  So far, the top two methods for combatting the curl seem to be:
  1. carefully blocking each piece when it's finished, and
  2. trying to avoid pulling the stitches too tightly.
I'm not going to reveal what it is that I'm working on at the minute, but stay tuned to find out!  (The only thing I will say is that it's going to knock your socks off - this is a seriously epic one, folks.)

An excellent introduction to Tunisian crochet can be found in Sharon Hernes Silverman's Tunisian Crochet book.

Post by Heather.