cats, craft, crochet, knitting, music, Uncategorized, yarn

Top Ten Review of the Year

Well, another prolonged absence due to work – I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions, but next year I will make more time to post on my blog as I have missed not being able to post so regularly.¬† Getting organised is half the battle I think…

This year has been an interesting one (in all senses of the word!) – a new addition to my family (OK, so he’s a kitten) and a rebranding of my blog and business as well as opening my Etsy Shop.

Add to that the most manic year of my (full-time) working life and major changes within my working structure – which are all still in a state of flux!

But in many ways a fantastic year, much love and laughter with friends and family, and finding a kindred spirit in crafting in my friend Anna (and her five-year-old Mikey who’s favourite phrase is now “let’s get crafting!”)

So here is my Top Ten Review of the Year on looking back through my blog, I do hope you enjoy it!

One – The arrival of Sir Patrick of Naughtiness

As an Astronomy geek, I managed to persuade Anna and Mikey to name their rescued kitten Professor Brian (Cox) after everyone’s favourite physicist and ex-popstar.¬† I was amazed they went with it…

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I was even more amazed that I ended up rescuing his brother, whom I named Sir Patrick (Moore) after the famous and much beloved Astronomer and BBC Presenter (RIP).¬† It particularly helped that he had a squinty eye in which I could imagine the real Sir¬† Patrick’s monocle.¬† I met the real Sir Patrick¬†once, he was absolutely delightful, and was very kind to me when another celebrity was very rude to me (you know who you are, Michael Fish!).

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Two РOpening my Etsy Shop

This was a long-term aim over the year and was delayed many times due to factors outside of my control!  In the end it was opened in October and I had my first sale within 24 hours.

I haven’t quite had the time since then to promote it as much as I would like, and I have exciting plans for my Etsy shop¬†for 2016, so my upcoming week off in February will be spent at home getting things sorted…

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Three – Vintage Shopping at the Car Booty

Regular readers will know that I love a bargain.¬† Most Sundays I can be found at Frome Car Boot Sale, rummaging around in other people’s junk.¬† For several months this year I had an amazing run on vintage notions and patterns and went a bit overboard buying them.

I have now decided to offload some of them in 2016 when I take part in a Craft Fair which also lets you sell related goods.  Some, though, I cannot bear to part with!

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Four РYarn, lovely Yarn

I wrote about my yarn addiction on several occasions, it has perhaps got a little out of hand, especially after I visited the Kensington Olympia Knitting and Stitching show in March – but I did get some beautiful yarns, including the cashmere / cotton blend to make this lovely shawl on my Etsy Shop.

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Five – Devon knows how they make it so lovely

Through my lovely friend Anna, I’ve had the chance to visit Chagford, in Devon on the edge of Dartmoor, twice this year for Craft Fairs.¬† Such a beautiful place and the people are so friendly and welcoming, it’s a real treat to visit there. ¬†Bonus treat – the tiny ponies and other cute critters at the Miniature Pony Centre nearby.

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Six – Holidays-a-go-go!

I’ve been extremely lucky this year with holidays – having a gorgeous week in Marbella in March, with Mum, and then again in Bayeux in June with Mum, Dad and my brother.¬† The first time we’d all been away together for several years.¬† Both were fabulous holidays, much needed and much enjoyed, and allowed me to expand my stash even more with some really lovely yarns and notions (as well as some cheeky¬†goats producing the softest mohair)

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Seven – My first giveaway of Crochet Patterns

In October I gave away the pattern for my first designed project, some mini Halloween Treat Baskets – to fill with yummy chocolates.¬† I had great fun designing the different faces and putting together a beginner’s project which I was happy to share for free.¬† Although a simple design, it has given me a taste for more!

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Eight – Geek Loveliness

A fabulous year of nerd-dom¬†has been bookended by Star Wars. ¬†In May I posted about my trip to Marbella and the surprise of hearing a youth orchestra starting up with the Star Wars¬†soundtrack – I have never departed¬†a cafe in such a hasty fashion¬†before… ¬†In May I also posted a cheeky geeky guide and then followed up with a visit¬†to the Doctor Who Exhibition in September with my family. ¬†There is an adventure to go through which is rather interactive – I was more scared than the kids!

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Nine – Animals A-Plenty

It never surprises me that my most popular posts tend to be around my two black cats, Ella and Sir Patrick.  After all, they are endless sources of amusement to me!

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Ten – Art and Crafts

And back to my main loves Рart and crafts.  In April I visited Standen, a home filled with delights from the Arts and Craft movement which I so admire.  Moving on to June I waxed lyrical about Salvator Rosa, one of my favourite artists, and in July I wrote about the beautiful lace that I encountered on my goaty adventures in Bayeux (and of course the famous Tapestry).

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And finally, throughout the year I have been extolling the virtues of crafting,¬†thank you for joining me on my journey this year, and here’s to 2016!

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Goat-y Adventures in Normandy

Goat evening everyone!

Some may say that I’m a bit animal-mad. ¬†‘Tis true, especially when considering my crafty love of yarn, so what better than a little trip to a Goat Farm on my recent holiday in Normandy?

La Grange au Mohair is based near Bernesq, a few miles west of Bayeux.  Mum and I decided to visit these lovely creatures and were not disappointed!

 

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Above are some of the friends we made, Cheeky Nose and Baby Face McGinty. ¬†They look cute, but really they are megalomaniacs-in-waiting, planning world domination… ¬†Don’t trust them!

Mme Glaise, who runs the farm, was very welcoming and offered a fascinating tour in perfect English (we started off in French but had to relent in the end!)  They keep the goats very well and they are happy to live out their retirements there in peace.

 

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Above is Baa Baa White Goat, a rather talkative personality, as you can see. ¬†She’s a bit of a gossip so make sure you don’t share anything too important with her, otherwise it will be all over the farm by sundown…

Unlike the cheap mohair, scratchy jumpers we all wore in the 80s (oh go on, admit it!) this beautiful yarn is sorted and carded by Mme, and as she explains, the ‘grey’ hair within the mix is the itchy part which is discarded. ¬†The yarn is then sent to the south of France and mixed with silk, spun and dyed. ¬†As well as selling the yarn, Mme makes clothes out of it, unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of these, too busy with my goaty pals!

 

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So, more Normandy adventures to follow over the weekend, and the Etsy shop plans are back on track now I’m feeling a bit brighter!

To finish, here are a few more of the characters I met over this lovely trip! ¬†They’ve definitely had their Goatibix.

 

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Compare and contrast, above left are the demure, reticent female and young goaties, above right and below are the boys.  Leering over the barriers and sticking their goaty noses out for attention.  Quelle surprise!

 

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Happy goating!

 

Lou x

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Marbella Crafting Fun!

Well, I’m pretty much unpacked and back to normal (ish) after my trip to Marbella with Mum. ¬†The dull British weather has certainly brought me back down to earth with a bump!

I managed to find the haberdashery/wool shop again in Marbella, but was a bit disappointed with their lack of range. ¬†I did manage to find one yarn that I really liked – Retinella by Oso Blanco. ¬†It’s a mix of Merino and Acrylic with a bit of Polyester to add a bit of sparkly shimmer. ¬†It feels like an Aran / Worsted weight but knits up as Bulky. ¬†I’m making a stretchy V Stitch crocheted scarf with this.

I also bought some more of the Marbella Cotton which made up lovely coasters which I left at the Marbella apartment last time and was glad to see that they are still there being used!

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On our last couple of days we wandered around trying to find a shop that we had seen earlier in trip.  The Old Town in Marbella is full of windy cobbled streets which all look the same, but I have a pretty good sense of direction (usually!)  We found the shop but on our way discovered another Wool Shop which had a fabulous range of Lanas Stop yarn.  This is really good quality stuff РI bought some in Bath and it cost me a fortune, but made up this lovely simple ribbed Alpaca mix scarf for my Dad when I first learnt how to knit.

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So I went a teensy bit mad, bought some gorgeous Extra Merino double knit in burnt orange, to make a scarf for Mum, and¬†Algod√≥n Soft which is 3-4 ply and I’m not sure what to do with it but I’m sure it’ll make something very pretty.

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More news to follow about my Etsy plans and also naughty cat behaviours!

Happy crafting!

Lou x

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Bad cats!

I have not quite had time to deliberate over my lovely day at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Olympia on Sunday, so thought I would fill in with a quick post of the most naughty cat moments from the cats in my family.

We’ve always owned cats and are quite used to their weird and wonderful behaviours, but this lot take the (cat) biscuit!

First up are Mum’s rescue cats Mischa and Timor. ¬†They are Balinese – he looks like a Siamese and she looks more like a Burmese to me. ¬†He is extremely laid back and will let you do pretty what you want. ¬†This Christmas he was adorned with a festive ribbon for most of the day but in this picture is sporting a rather fetching ruff a la Shakespeare, fashioned from a Christmas hat.

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Mischa is a fussy little madam but with a very sweet nature. ¬†She has a penchant for washing – I’m sure in a previous life she was a washer woman. ¬†If she’s not sitting on the freshly laundered clothes, she’s directing my parents in the garden from the washing basket.

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These two have their cheeky foibles, but in terms of sheer naughtiness they are lagging behind my cat Ella.  She is also a rescue cat and is very affectionate, but a complete attention-seeker.  Not just cardboard boxes for my Ella, oh no, she will get into any receptacle!

 

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This is one of my reusable shopping bags – it’s nice and sturdy and rustles. ¬†It also happens to be cat-sized! ¬†Maybe Ella has a secret shopping habit, as I later found her amongst my recycling bags!

 

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Last spring / summer was very warm in Wiltshire so I decided to¬†plan to grow so fruit and veg – I didn’t however reckon on growing Catatoes as these sacks have now been dubbed.

 

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Finally I have many demands on my time but still enjoy finding the time to crochet.  When I get this sort of face it makes me feel guilty, but not guilty enough to stop!

 

 

 

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Happy crafting!

Lou x

 

 

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My Top Ten Crafting Trends for Spring 2015

Morning all!

I’ve had a lovely week off at home – poring through all of¬†my favourite magazines – Craftseller, Simply Crochet and Homemaker – as well as trawling the internet for inspirations for Spring 2015.

So I thought I’d put together another Top 10 (see my previous posts, you’ve gotta love a Top 10!) for the season to come. ¬†Spring is one of my favourite seasons, it holds so much promise for the year to come and the buds and new growth spied on a frosty walk brings a warm feeling that’s nothing to do with the temperature outside!

One – Marsala is the Pantone colour for this year ‚Äď a rich earthy warm red-brown – expect to see this throughout our homes and fashions all year. ¬†It’s a difficult colour to match without a direct comparison, but this lovely wool from Wool Warehouse comes fairly close.

ce154b643acb6d31e03c1f78ddda8e6aTwo – Upcycling seems to be a trend that is showing no signs of going away – the latest edition of Craftseller had a whole supplement devoted to it. ¬†There are some wonderful ideas on Dixie Henderson’s Pinterest¬†including this use of recycled drawers. ¬†It’s a bit too pinky frou-frou for me but the idea is fabulous…

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Three РCrocodile stitch (crochet) Рthere is a great tutorial for this on Lost & Found Lane Рthis would make up a fabulous dinosaur or amigurumi monster.  On a more practical level I think it could make a most stylish cushion or scarf as found on Yarn Muse.

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Four – Crochet jewellery ‚Äď I think we can now safely move on¬†from loom bands to something a bit more stylish! ¬†In the last few months I’ve seen quite a bit of crochet jewellery and have pinned some lovely ones to my Pinterest board.

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Five – Farmland animals ‚Äď as well as the ubiquitous woodland animals which I’m pleased to say are still here. ¬†Getting a little bit political for a minute, some hunting morons¬†– I mean enthusiasts¬†– think the British public are turning back towards their favour in repealing the hunting foxes with dogs ban. ¬†This is clearly not the case when you see the popularity of the fox in every corner of British life over the last few years. ¬†Just look at this Etsy page for inspiration, fox fans!

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Having had a lovely day with Mum in Southampton on Thursday, we enjoyed our trip to our Mecca, John Lewis.  These were the farmland scenes that awaited us in the cushion department.  Being an avid woolie fan the sheep in particular do appeal to me.  But I love ducks as well!

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Six – Yellow ‚Ästall shades of yellow (particularly those going towards green) are going to be big this year. ¬†I love yellow, it’s such a bright and sunny shade. ¬†Most of us can wear a shade of yellow which suits our skin tones. ¬†I personally live bright, acid yellows. ¬†Deramores¬†have a wonderful selection of yellow yarns, I have my eye on a few from Bergere de France. I’ve pinned these to my new Colour Pinterest board.

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Seven – Polka dots and gingham are going to be everywhere (not together ‚Äď imagine ‚Äď what a dog‚Äôs breakfast!). ¬†I particularly love them on ribbons and adornments. ¬†Knock me down with a feather if this gorgeous satin ribbon from the ever-reliable Wool Warehouse doesn’t tick three of the Top 10 boxes in one – yellow, grey and polka dots! ¬†The grey gingham ribbon, again from Wool Warehouse covers two trends. ¬†I can see this as a plain contrast on a very bright article. ¬†I shall have to get my thinking hat on…

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Eight РBlue and white Рall the trends are included in these gorgeous fabrics from Craftsy РI spy (with my little eye) gingham, blue, grey, yellow, and possible some polka dots.

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Nine – Grey (forget 50 shades of…) is the hottest neutral ‚Äď it‚Äôs everywhere¬†from clothes and furnishing to fabric and yarn. ¬†It’s a great colour to use in knitting and crochet for men’s garments – my Dad was very chuffed with his Ombre for Hombre scarf made in blue and grey (made for Christmas – I am officially a trend-setter and so is he!)

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Ten – Macram√© ‚Äď initially I wasn’t sure¬†about this one as I grew up in the 70s and it was everywhere (and naff!) but I have seen lots of stylish macram√© influences around. ¬†Back to good old Pinterest for this inspirational board by Ana Maria.

So I hope you have enjoyed my little tour around the Top Ten Crafting Trends for Spring 2015 – hopefully I can get some serious crafting done so I can replenish my stash with some of the delights I found in researching this blog.

I’d love to hear your ideas about trends and whether they differ across the world – I am assuming most of these trends will be prevalent in the UK but what about Canada, Australia or the US?

I have some very exciting news which I will share in the next few days about my online presence and what new plans are afoot Рmore to come soon.

Happy crafting!

Lou x

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