Free Crochet Pattern! Morgana Shawl

The phenomenal Kristin Omdahl has created a beautiful 3-colour crochet shawl pattern- the Morgana shawl!

This shawl features alternating stripes of light turquoise, leaf green, and lavender. The colours are perfect for spring and summer, but of course it would also look beautiful crocheted in a single colour. Perhaps your new go-to accessory this year?

It’s a free pattern for our newsletter subscribers! All you have to do to get a copy of the pattern is sign up here, and the full pattern pdf will be in your inbox really quickly.

To make a shawl just like the one shown, you’ll need a Tidbit Trio kit by Kristin Omdahl Yarns– the yarn is 100% bamboo, so very breathable and has a lovely sheen to it. There are all sorts of colour choices for the yarn, so have fun combining your favourites into something that is completely you!

Kristin is also the wonder behind Wrapture, our jasmine scented wash. Naturally, we recommend you use Wrapture for wet blocking your shawl when it’s done, as lace really looks its best once it’s been blocked. Kristin has put together videos on how to do this, as well as how to read a crochet chart and work the edging- find them all right here.

You can also read Kristin’s blog post about the shawl she designed right here!

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Wet Blocking Knits: Tips and Tricks

There are lots of different ways to block knitted and crocheted items, but they all share many similarities. Here are some fantastic ways to block your knits- and you’ll definitely pick up some new tips. We’ve been fortunate to have some great reviews and love from all sorts of crafty bloggers, and we thought it would be great to share the tips and tricks for blocking your knits that have featured Eucalan!

How to Spray Block Your Knit and Crocheted Items. The Spray technique is a great way to cut down on drying time dramatically. Read all about it here.

Top Tips for Blocking Your Knits, from the famous London Loop yarn shop. Especially great tips for blocking lace, and swatches.

3 Different Ways to Block Your Knits – knits that need to be seamed, items made in the round, and the speedy steam blocking method- all great techniques.

How to Wet Block a Sweater, from Flax & Twine. Wet blocking larger items like a sweater takes a bit of effort, and this is a great step-by-step.

Knitting Expat has a great tutorial on how she wet blocks her knits, and her towel method for removing excess water after wet blocking is a must-do.

How to wet block a hat- hats can be tricky, but this is a great tutorial. With a little bit of guidance, you can do it!

Speaking of wet blocking hats,  knitted tams have their own challenges – here’s a great tutorial on wet blocking a tam (you need a plate!)

Are there any blocking tutorials you would like to see that we haven’t covered? Let us know in the comments!

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Best Travel Tips: Round Up

Do you have any fun trips planned for this year? If you are going away for a few days or a huge trip halfway around the world for weeks on end, traveling can be stressful and challenging. But there are so many tips out there to help make it easier – easier to plan, easier to save money, and easier to pack. Read on for my top tips for making travel easier and more affordable!

Air travel is more expensive than ever before, but it is still the fastest way to get anywhere that is too far to drive. Here are some great tips on booking the cheapest airfare possible.

You’ve worked hard to earn your vacation time, so why lose a day or two at either end to jet lag, when traveling well out of your usual time zone? Here are fantastic tips for combating jet lag, so you can make the most of your arrival at your beautiful vacation spot, and don’t feel exhausted when you return home.

Travel can be expensive, even when you are doing it cheaply. The solution? Start planning, and start saving! Here is a great post of how to save up money to travel.

Then when you get wherever you are going, you might still want to travel on a budget – This post has 39 ideas on different ways to do things for free while you travel. It won’t be glamorous, but it will be exciting! Read the full post here.

Packing light is not something that comes naturally to everyone, but there are some brilliant tips out there that even the most well-traveled person might not have tried before! Here are all sorts of great ideas to minimize how much you pack, and keep your bag organized.

When packing light, minimize how many items you are bringing by considering a capsule travel wardrobe. This is a great post with ideas on how to pack fewer items, and combine them in a an almost limitless combination to feel like you have lots of outfits. Check it out here.

Once you get wherever you are going, wouldn’t it be nice if your travel photos were as good as your memories of a place? Here are some great tips on improving your travel photography.

Do you struggle with actually getting any sleep on an airplane? Me too. This post has  great tips for helping you get some rest on that next overnight flight- because after all, they are usually the cheapest! Read the post here.

If you are going to be traveling with kids at all, it’s worth really being prepared to keep them occupied, no matter what method you are traveling by. This post has more than 50 different ideas for occupying a toddler (and really, any kid!) on long trips.

Speaking of traveling with kids, we have a free download full of amazing ideas to make your family travel planning significantly less stressful- you can get it right here!

We are so passionate about travel, we also have Pinterest boards for all sorts of smart travel tipsroad trip tips, traveling with kids, travel guides for near and far, and even a big board just on Paris!

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How to Wash a Wool Blanket

Did you know that wool can last  more than 20 years, provided it is well cared-for? The classic wool blanket is a winter staple for any home, but at this point in the year, yours probably needs a little TLC.  There’s no need for an expensive trip to the dry cleaners: you can wash your blanket safely and easily by using Eucalan in the washing machine! Today, we’ll show you how to wash an organic wool blanket from Shepherd’s Lamb, a working family ranch located in New Mexico whose flock provides the fleece for their heirloom-quality woven blankets.

Lanolin is a naturally-occurring waxy substance which coats a sheep’s fleece, which is often removed when processing the fibres. The lanolin in our no-rinse formula naturally conditions wool fibres to keep them supple while also reducing static.  We recommend our Eucalyptus or Lavender scents, which are both scented with essential oils that are naturally antiseptic and moth-repellent.

Before washing your blanket, it’s important to remove soils and stains as soon as possible, either by pre-treating with a Stain Treating Towelette or spot treating with full-strength Eucalan  where needed.

Then, follow the instructions below for the type of washing machine you have:

Top Loading Machine:

  • Set your washing machine to delicates.
  • Fill drum with cool water.
  • Add 4 Tbsp Eucalan for a large blanket.
  • Submerse blanket and run through gentle/handwash cycle (tip: try adding a few towels to balance out the load!).
  • Hang blanket to dry thoroughly.

Front Loading Machine:

  • Place blanket in drum.
  • Set to delicate cycle with cool water.
  • Add 4 Tbsp Eucalan to detergent compartment in drawer.
  • Run cycle.
  • Hang blanket to dry thoroughly.

We recommend washing your blankets a few times throughout the winter, and also before packing them away for the season. Do not pack away a damp blanket – make sure it is fully dry before storing, and be sure to use air-tight containers to keep out unwanted pests, and when you unpack them from storage, always examine your blankets for small holes which can be a sign of moths (click here for tips on dealing with these unwanted pests).

With proper care, you’ll enjoy the warmth and durability of your wool blanket for years to come!

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Valentine’s Recipe Ideas – Round Up!

There are so many fun ways to inject a bit of love into food around this time of year, even if you aren’t really big on Valentine’s Day. There’s something a little magical about expressing love to our family and friends – and seeing happy little hearts is always cheery! Here are my top picks for fun Valentine’s themed recipe ideas:

Heart Shaped Pop Tarts

Does someone you care about love pop tarts? Why not make them these amazing heart shaped ones at home- they taste so much better than the boxed variety, and they are so pretty! The recipe can be found right here.

Rainbow Heart Mini Oreos

If you aren’t much for baking, this is a much easier idea – piping little hearts onto mini Oreos! This is super easy, done with candy melts in the colours of your choice. or you could use royal icing if you prefer! The best part? The hearts don’t have to be perfect. Details and how to are on the original post, here.

Valetine’s Day Icing Palette

If you are doing some icing decorating on your Valetine’s treats, why not consider a colour palette that is fresh and has a bit of a twist on the typical colours? There are great ideas from a real icing master right here, be sure to check it out.

Bacon Hearts

Not everyone has a sweet tooth- but a lot of people love bacon! If you have some bacon lovers in your life, how about making them some heart shaped bacon? It’s easier than you think – and if you don’t have a non stick oven sheet, put down some parchment paper instead, so the hearts don’t stick to the pan. Full details and how-to can be found here.

Bouquet of Bacon Roses

And if you thought bacon hearts were a good idea but you really wanted a showstopper for your special someone, how about bacon roses?  Talk about an unforgettable Valentine’s Day gift for the bacon lover in your life! Full step by step is here.

Sweet & Salty Valentine’s Fudge

With only 5 ingredients, this comes together so easily, and is perfect for anyone who doesn’t want to pick between something sweet and something salty. Find the recipe here.

Mini Raspberry Cheesecakes

If you are making a special dinner at home, this would be a perfect dessert – individual raspberry cheesecakes, in little mason jars (or ramekins!). What’s even better is this recipe only makes 4 servings, so it’s perfect for a small group – or for seconds the next day! Recipe is here.

Drunken Strawberries

These drunken strawberries are so delicious, and definitely the naughtiest of the recipe ideas! Soaked in rosé, frozen, and rolled in sugar, these are a wonderful treat but oh-so-easy to make. Full post can be found here.

Valentine’s Day English Muffin Breakfast

A final savoury idea- cooking eggs in a heart shape! One heart shaped cookie cutter is all you need to either make the whole egg heart shaped, or just the yoke- put the cookie cutter around the yoke, then break the yoke with a fork for it to fill the shape. Find the how-to right here.

Which treat are you most likely to make? Something sweet or savoury? Do you have any go-to Valentine’s themed recipes to share?

We have a Pinterest board full of great recipes and other Valentine’s ideas – check it out here!

 

Galentine’s Gatherings: How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Your Friends

Galentine’s is the fun, modern way to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your female friends and take the focus off romantic relationships. Celebrating Galentine’s is a brilliant way to  honour your friendships and make the season a lot more fun and relaxing. This is especially true if you are single, but even if you are coupled up you just might find that your Galentine’s gatherings are far more fun than any romantic night out! Scroll down for our top ideas on celebrating your friendships with a Galentine’s night in.

Galentine’s Tea Party

On the weekend closest to Valentine’s Day, host a Galentine’s tea party! Focus on lots of pink and red foods, like strawberries and jams, and use the prettiest plates and glasses you can find- suggest your friends all bring whatever special occasion serving dishes they have that fit the theme, and celebrate in high style! See more details here.

Spa Night

Have everyone bring some ingredients for a few DIY spa recipes, different shades of nail polish, and host a pampering night in! You can even have everyone contribute a beauty product or skin care item to swap, too. Focusing on healthy drinks and snacks keep the self-care theme strong. There are lots of great ideas to be found here.

‘Chick Flick’ Movie Night

Grab some popcorn, wine, and some cozy blankets for a lighthearted movie night! You can vote on your top picks prior to the event, or make a game time decision when everyone arrives and you look over the choices. See more ideas on a chick flick movie night (and some top film choices!) here.

Craft Night

Pick a project in advance (or choose a couple different ideas if your group has a range of crafting strengths) and have everyone bring a few materials for the projects, and whip up something amazing with your girlfriends. And don’t worry if it ends up bring a crafting fail – sometimes it’s even funnier when a crafting project doesn’t work out, and you can laugh about it together! See more details here.

Pancakes & Pyjama Party

Who says pyjamas and pancakes are only for weekends? Have a low key night in with your girlfriends by encouraging everyone to come in their pyjamas and then serve up lots of pancakes and fresh fruit (or you can do it on the weekend for a brunch, there are no rules!). Maybe combine it with the chick flick movie night? And if your group has the time, by all means turn it into a sleepover! Check out more of this idea here.

Chocolate Tasting Party

For the ultimate indulgence, host a chocolate tasting party! Have everyone bring different types of chocolate, and experiment with different pairings and find a new favourite. There’s a whole world of chocolate out there- why not find something new with your friends? Find more details on this idea here.

Looking for more fun girls night and Galentine’s ideas? We have a Pinterest board full of them right here! Be sure to follow.

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How to Care for Your Sports Bras

Depending on how frequently you work out and how many sports bras you have, your sports bras will need to be replaced every 1-2 years. But with proper care, you can help extend the life and shape of your sports bras to maximize their performance and ensure they last as long as possible.

It’s best to have a few  that you can rotate through, as they need to be washed after each wear and the more sports bras you have, the less wear and tear on any one bra. We also recommend using a natural detergent like Eucalan, as harsh chemicals can have adverse effects on technical fibres and cause faster deterioration.

You will know it’s time to replace your sports bras if:

  • Your weight has changed by more than 5 pounds
  • The fabric no longer feels as snug and supportive as it did when it was new
  • It is moving around too much when you are working out

Considering how expensive sports bras can be, you will want to do everything possible to take good care of them. Here’s the best way to wash your sports bra to ensure it will stay like new for as long as possible!

Important! No matter which way you choose to wash your sports bras, always wash them after each wear to remove sweat and odours.

Hand Wash/Sink Method

For hand washing, add one capful (or one pod) of Eucalan in the scent of your choice to the water. Submerge your sports bra (or bras), and let soak for ten minutes.  We recommend Eucalyptus, Grapefruit, Lavender or Wrapture (scented with jasmine) for their naturally-occurring antibacterial benefits, as they are made with pure essential oils. Gently agitate the water, and then drain the water. Don’t wring the fabric, gently roll the sports bras in a towel to help absorb the excess water, and lay flat to dry away from heat and direct sunlight.

Washing Machine Method

Set your washing machine to cold – hot water can contribute to fabrics shrinking, and speed up the breakdown of technical fibres like spandex!  If your sports bras have small straps on them, use a mesh lingerie bag to prevent the straps from getting tangled or caught in the machine. Add one pod or a capful of Eucalan in the scent of your choice to the washing machine.  Eucalyptus, Grapefruit, Lavender or Wrapture (scented with jasmine essential oil) have naturally-occurring antibacterial benefits, and are a great choice. When the spin cycle is complete, lay your sports bras flat to dry away from heat and direct sunlight.

P.S. – If it’s been a while since you last cleaned your yoga mat, we have a post showing  just how to do that, too!

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Jen’s Top 10 for the Holidays – Best Holiday Baking!

Isn’t it funny how the holidays sneak up on us? Suddenly it’s less than a week until Christmas, and we are already in Hannukah! If you are planning on bringing something to a holiday gathering – or hosting people at yours – I thought I’d share with you my top 10 holiday baking ideas. All of them are total crowd-pleasers, and lots of them are super quick!

1. Festive Shortbread Bites

Who doesn’t love a small cookie? Hard to resist, and just so cute, these will get snapped up in no time. Recipe can be found here.

2. Candy Cane Brownies

Chocolate and a refreshing candy cane crunch- a perfect combo! These are wonderfully decadent, and if you like chocolate and mint together, there’s really no other time of year to make a recipe that is as appealing as this. Recipe can be found here.

3. Soft Baked Gingerbread Cookies

With a sparkly sugar coating reminiscent of fresh snow, these gingerbread cookies are incredibly soft and hard to resist. What are the holidays without a bit of gingerbread? Find the recipe here.

4. Peppermint Bark

It doesn’t get much easier than this wonderful chocolate peppermint bark! Melt chocolate, swirl on wax paper, sprinkle with finely crushed candy canes and cool. perfection! Recipe is right here.

5.  M&M Christmas Cookie Bars

Cookie bars are one of those baked treats that seem to instantly conjure up childhood memories. With all the best bits of a cookie but in a thick cut squares, these are sure to go really quickly at your next get together. Recipe is here.

6.  Christmas Sugar Cookie Truffles

If you are looking for a giftable food item, these would be a perfect hostess or holiday gift.  a wonderfully soft sugar cookie truffle center, dipped in white chocolate (or you could do dark chocolate if you prefer!) Recipe can be found here.

7.  Eggnog Cheesecake Cookie Cups

For something really special and decadent, you must try these eggnog cheesecake cookie cups. Rich and incredibly delicious, they are perfect for a special dessert table. Find the recipe here.

8. Dark Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

What is fantastic about this recipe is that you could easily substitute any kind of cookie (even slice and bake store bought cookie dough!) and then dip them in white chocolate and finely crushed candy canes. They look perfect for the season, and taste amazing! Recipe is right here.

9. Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark

For those who loves their treats to be sweet AND salty, this salted caramel pretzel bark ticks all the right boxes. Find the recipe right here.

10. No Bake Thin Mints

This is a great recipe for anyone who says that they ‘don’t bake’. Starting with store bought wafer cookies, you really just melt a bit of chocolate melts and start dipping! Find the step-by-step right here.

These are my favourites, but we have loads more recipes and last-minute holiday ideas over on our Holiday Cheer Pinterest board- check it out! Have a wonderful holiday season, everyone!

How to Host a Gift Wrapping Party

Everyone is busy buying presents at this time of year, but wrapping  them can be another chore on a long list of to-dos that crop up in December. Thinking of planning a get together to see your friends before everyone starts disappearing for holiday travel and family time? Why not host a gift wrapping party, and turn a chore into a fun, festive gathering with friends?

Step 1: Set a Date

Ideally, you want to set it at least a week before, so that people have a chance to do some of their shopping in advance. It’s unlikely everyone will have ALL their shopping done, but it doesn’t hurt to get a jump on all the wrapping!

Step 2: What Guests Can Bring

Suggest everyone bring a roll of wrapping paper, one type of gift label, and one spool of ribbon. If each guest brings a little bit of the wrapping supplies, everyone can share and have a wide variety of wrapping paper and ribbons to use on their gifts. Oh, and of course they should bring anything they want to wrap! You can even make it themed – wrapping paper and labels need to have snowflakes on them, or focusing on blue and silver paper and ribbons, for example.  This will make it easier to coordinate ribbons, bows, labels, and paper all together, even if you only brought one or two things.

Step 3: Clear the Decks

If you have a large dining room table, clear it off and set out as many pairs of scissors and rolls of tape that you have. Don’t forget pens or markers for labeling! Also bring out your contributions for wrapping paper, ribbons, and gift labels.

Step 4: Snacks &  Drinks

Keep the snacks simple, people are going to need clean hands for wrapping. A festive drink like hot chocolate or a cocktail is a great idea, as well as snacks like pretzels, veggies, and cookies. Be sure to have a lot of napkins on hand!

Step 5: Organization

Put a basket or two in the center of your table, and keep all the tags in one, and all the ribbons in the other.  You might even want an extra basket for other fun gift topper ideas, like pom poms, bows, or decorations. If you have room to keep the wrapping paper together, that’s great, too!

Step 5: Cue the Music!

Put together a fun festive playlist, or use a service like Spotify or Google Music that already has lots of holiday playlists to choose from. Or you can turn on the radio and let luck be your guide!

And that’s it! A fun, festive gathering that not only helps you get your holiday wrapping accomplished, but you’ve had fun with friends, too.

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Free Knitting Pattern: Eucalan Lattice Cowl

We have something special for you this holiday season- a FREE knitting pattern for a gorgeous two-colour cowl, designed by Julie Crawford of knittedbliss.com.  This is the Eucalan Lattice Cowl, which is knitted up in two colours of worsted weight yarn and shown here in Kristin Omdahl’s Be So Brave yarn, 100% American wool (worsted weight) in colours ‘Picket Fence’ and ‘Plymouth Rock’.

The cowl can be worn loose, or you can loop it around your neck twice to really amp up the cozy factor:

Not to mention that it is a pretty quick knit, so there is still time to knit one or two before the holidays- either to give as a gift, or to keep for yourself.  The main colour (Picket Fence) requires two and a half skeins of Be So Brave Yarn, and the contrasting colour (Plymouth Rock) uses only 2 skeins. And the best part? The cowl is super easy to knit! All the stitches are knit, purl, or slipped. The stitch pattern is easy to memorize, and is both written and charted.

You can get your free pattern right here, just by signing up for our newsletter!

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