art, cats, craft, knitting, travel, Uncategorized

30 Day Knitting Challenge – Days 11-16

Unfortunately I had to go away with work unexpectedly for a few days and therefore have to catch up now on my 30 Day Knitting Challenge.

Day 11: Do you have a “Knitter Hero” or someone that is just way too awesome for their own good? Do share!

My knitty heroine is Lauren O’Farrell AKA Deadly Knitshade – a graffiti knitting artist with a fabulous sense of humour, she also loves cats, so what’s not to like!?

This is one of my many favourite pieces…  A Phone Box cosy from her book Knit the City.

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Day 12: Where do you keep your stash?

My stash is finding itself strewn across the house – it started off in my purpose-built Tardis cabinet but has now stretched across to the bottom of my dresser and to many different nooks and crannies downstairs.  It hasn’t yet trickled upstairs yet but I think it’s only a matter of time…

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Day 13: Do you have yarn that you love but can’t find a project for?

I love Noro yarn and bought this bargain-tastic lot recently – but not yet found a project for them all…

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Day 14: What’s the worst yarn/fiber that you’ve worked with and why?

When I started knitting and crocheting, i started with a lot of cheap acrylic double knitting yarn to practice – such as the one for this mobile phone cover which I made for my friend…  I rarely work with acrylic now.

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Day 15: What was your least favorite pattern and why?

I tried this Eyelet Scarf in Jarol Heritage 4ply, which I was never very happy with, but looking back it is not as bad as I thought…

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Day 16: Have you ever had a knitting related injury?

When I first started knitting, I found it very hard to wrap the yarn with my right hand, as I am naturally left-handed, however after a few teething pains it became bearable over time.

My worst injury was a series of small, odd-shaped bruises on my legs and shoulders, which I could not work out where I had got them from.

Eventually I worked out that I was using needles that were too long and was pushing them into my legs or shoulders to help move the yarn along sufficiently!  I soon moved onto better yarn and needles which resolved the issues.

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craft, knitting, Uncategorized, yarn

30 Day Knitting Challenge -Day 5

Question of the day is…

Day 5: How long did it take from the time you learned how to knit, to finish your first project

From when I first understood the basics from my book and picked up my needles, it only took me  a week or so to finish my first project…

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It was a simple garter stitch scarf, which I diligently worked on every evening, and got into the knack fairly quickly.

However hideous it is to look at now, I do feel a sense  of accomplishment!

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craft, crochet, knitting, Uncategorized, yarn

30 Day Knitting Challenge – Days 2 & 3

I have combined the questions for Day 2 and Day 3 as I answered them both on Day 2…

Day 2: What is currently on your needles?

Day 3: Do you have any other WIPs (works in progress)?

I have loads of crochet projects on the go at the moment, but in terms of knitting projects, I have three on the go – one of which I can’t tell you about (ssh!  it’s a secret!)

As for the other two – firstly I am using this gorgeous Debbie Bliss Angel mohair/silk mix to make a lacy scarf – using one large and one small needle (I’m using a 3 1/4mm and a 5mm needle) – Mum and I saw the idea in John Lewis last Christmas and we have both given it a go, although I’m a much slower knitter!

Secondly – which I recently posted about – I have been making this half-moon stitch scarf for my brother for what feels like forever (and I’m barely halfway through)…  but the Katia Basic Merino Flash is a joy to work with.

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As I have so many crochet designs on the go right now, this is the sum total of my knittyness at the moment!

 

 

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Autumn, charity, craft, crochet, knitting, sewing

Seasonal Plans

We are now coming into my favourite time of year – Autumn.

I love Autumnal colours, smells and the darker evenings where you feel happy snuggled up with a project or a book and some music on the stereo.  I would say also the lovely crisp sunny mornings but, well, the UK is going through a bit of an Indian Summer and the heat is rising rather than abating, even Patrick can’t take it…

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It’s a hard life, isn’t it!

Last year I didn’t do many Craft Fairs and I really missed it.  I’ve been thinking about some ideas and have a few days off now to take them forward (as well as relax…)

Firstly some Wreaths – firstly I was just thinking about Christmas, but once I got started I couldn’t stop!  I’m trying to decide the decoration for these (apart from ribbon to hang them with) – I’m thinking something simple and not too fussy.

Over the last few years I have made some Halloween baskets, and even shared a pattern here last year.  This year I decided to focus on four of the designs and have been asking for votes on which people like the most… Comment below by 5pm Sunday (GMT – UK time) with your four faves and I will enter you in the draw to win a set of four!

Finally, I am still struggling on with my brother’s scarf – reversible half-moon stitch in this gorgeous wool – Katia Basic Merino Flash – going from bright crimson to a dark rich red.  Hopefully it’ll be finished soon-ish…

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With more to do I’ve started looking at a couple of local Christmas Craft Fairs so I will soon have to start making my very popular Christmas Puds and stockings, and maybe a few more ideas to come.

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charity, craft, crochet, knitting, Uncategorized, yarn

Works in Progress

I’ve been rather lax in writing my blog recently, work has been so manic and I’ve had little time or energy to do much crafting, let alone write about it!

Crafting has always been a stress reliever for me and I have really missed it…  Thankfully things are starting to get back on track and I’ve been getting out some projects to enjoy…

One thing I did make time for was some squares for the fabulous craft community project Jenny’s Blanket of Hugs.  Organised by the brilliant Just Pootling this was a wonderfully supportive idea.

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Jenny is the daughter of Amanda from Little Box of Crochet and has been battling multiple tumours with grace, style and strength.  I’m so pleased to have been a small part of the crafty effort to make something beautiful, but also useful, for Jenny.

Hundreds of crafters across the world made enough squares to make seven large blankets, some of which will now be raffled for various good causes!

Apart from my squares, I have actually managed to finish a couple of things – firstly this Flower Shawl which is now for sale on my Etsy shop.

I’ve also started making some eco-friendly cotton shoppers – since we have to pay 5p a bag now in any shop we may as well shop in style!

Next up is a new ripple scarf I am designing in a gorgeous variegated Artesano superfine DK Alpaca – lovely to work with, but a bit hard on the eyes sometimes!

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Apart from these I have several other little bits that I am working on – but they have to remain secret for now…  I will leave you with a gorgeous basket of Noro yarn which I picked up for a bargain during my recent visit to Worthing to visit Mum and Dad.

I haven’t got any plans for these yet…  But that may soon change…

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art, craft, crochet, garden, knitting, nature, photography, sewing, summer, travel, yarn

End of a Lovely Crafty Week

This week I’ve been off work – holidaying at home – with some lovely days down on the South Coast with Mum and Dad and then back home via a day-trip to London.

It’s been super-busy but then again the time has flown by – can’t quite believe I’m back to work on Monday…

The start of my week was with Mum – I wasn’t feeling great so we did a bit less shopping / visiting and a bit more crafting which was fine by me.  I started on a crochet shopping bag and Mum showed me these clever little pouches which hang on a door handle and can be filled with anything you don’t want to lose – i.e. keys, crochet hooks, cat biscuits, or whatever!

I then travelled back to Wiltshire and had a day trip to London (about 2 1/2 to 3 hours on the train) to see my cousin Cathy and visit the Royal Observatory in Greenwich.  As a keen amateur astronomer, I was desperate to see the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition – having meant to go every year for the last few years.  This view is from the steep climb up Greenwich Park to the Observatory.  In the distance is Canary Wharf and the edge of the City of London.

The rather unimportant-looking line below is the Greenwich Meridian – from which all time zones are measured here on planet Earth!  This is the home of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), although technically we are now on BST (British Summer Time) which is +1 hour and will revert to GMT in October for the winter months.

Greenwich is a lovely part of South London – very near where I used to live, but as often happens, I only visited it once in the 9 years I lived there!  There are lots of cafes and meeting places and the park was spectacular.  Nearby is also the National Maritime Museum and the Cutty Sark (the only surviving 19th century tea clipper) but we didn’t have the time or energy to visit this (it was a really warm day!)

Finally I was back to Wiltshire with some crafting and catching up with friends.  I went to Frome with my friend Anna and bought this cute bunny pencil sharpener (I won’t reveal where the hole for the pencil is!)  We had breakfast in the Garden Cafe and these gorgeous ferns appeared to be creeping up the wall as if to make their getaway…

I bought these glow-in-the-dark Toadstool lights for the garden in Worthing and can’t wait to try them out (the garden needs a bit of work first!)

I couldn’t get away without doing some yarn shopping – in Frome I happened to ‘pop in’ to Marmalade Yarns and buy these gorgeous fibres…  Firstly some Autumnal shades – Fyberspates Scrumptious 4ply silk/merino mix in a shade called Burnt Orange but that I would describe as more of a conker / nutmeg mix – and secondly Skein Queen 4ply merino in Squash which is a slightly more red / orange – both delicious and perfect for a delicate shawl / wrap or scarf.

Finally, some Debbie Bliss Angel Prints laceweight in a blue/green/red/grey-brown mix – this is for Mum to make another gorgeous knitted scarf – we saw a technique at John Lewis in London last December – using a large and a small needle to produce a really beautiful finish – delicate but effective.

I bought myself some Angel Prints in December, but never got started on it.  Perhaps this weekend will be my time to get another knitting project on the go!

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art, craft, crochet, knitting, sewing, Uncategorized, vintage, yarn

Selling Vintage and Craft Goods

I like to joke that I have enough patterns and ideas (not to mention stash) to retire now and be able to do at least 5 years worth of full-time crafting!

Over the last few weeks I’ve been working out how best to tinker with all of the crafts that I enjoy, sort out my stash and have come up with a few options…

I’m going to streamline my Etsy shop and focus on accessories – bags, scarves, wraps, gloves and maybe the occasional hat.

Surprisingly, I have missed doing Craft Fairs, I enjoy talking to people, once I get over my initial shyness!  However, I find that the number of people attending, and the current financial situation, for most of us, can mean that there isn’t much profit in it.

I have been looking into some local fairs, where you can sell your goods and clear your stash by selling trimmings, notions, wool and fabric.  Sounds like the perfect fit for me…

This morning I was at my beloved Car Boot Sale (surprise…) and found another stash of vintage magazines.  My friend Anna and I had great fun making up names and stories for each of the slightly cheesy models.  My particular favourite is the ‘hello sailor’ one!

The interesting thing about the 1960s patterns in the below are that the majority of the women’s designs are still very wearable – there are some gorgeous knitted dresses and coats.  Most of the male patterns are not quite so classic and wearable though…

I also found a few 1970s/1980s Vogue and Good Housekeeping materials and a great book on knitting design, which I may have to keep to refer to…

There is also a Vintage Market where I may sell some of my vintage finds and I will just have to shut my eyes and avoid looking at the other stalls (like that is going to happen!)

 

 

 

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Andalusia, craft, crochet, knitting, Spain, spring, travel, Uncategorized

Marbella Yarn Bonanza

After my latest visit to Marbella and another round of the haberdashery stores, I came away with some new ideas and some fantastic cottons.

First up is one of my new projects using more of the fabulous Marbella Cotton which I bought last time.  I’ve decided to make a range of vintage-style cotton shoppers – in the UK as in many places, we’ve become more aware of the use of non-recyclable and plastic bags and so I thought these would be a welcome addition to my range.

These bags will be finished off with straps and lovely large buttons with some ribbon or cord threaded through the top.

As a true yarn freak, I couldn’t help myself but buy, erm, a few more cottons in various colourways – oops!

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My next project is to make a few different versions of my favourite shawl – the original grey one is in a cashmere/cotton blend which makes it a bit on the pricey side, so I felt that a range of different yarns would suit all pockets.

These lovely cotton yarns in coral and soft pastel pinks and blues (again from Marbella) will certainly fit the bill.  I shall be delving into my stash to find some other possibles.

Finally the post-holiday blues meant a visit to my favourite local yarn shop – Marmalade Yarns – I must truly be a regular as this time I earned a discount – yay!  I came away with the three gorgeous yarns above – without a definite plan for them other than I can see them all as lovely wraps or shawls.

First is Fyberspates Vivacious 4Ply, a 100% superwash merino in ‘Sunshine’ – a yellow which is just so bright and spring-like, it makes me smile just to look at it (the test of a true yarn-mad person).  The next yarn is Skein Queen Entwist 4ply, another 100% superwash hand-dyed merino in Emerald Lies, a breathtaking mix of gorgeous greens.  And finally, Rowan Fine Art in Pheasant – a beautiful mix of autumnal colours – reds browns and chestnuts.

So, you would think I have enough to be going on with, but I also have some other plans that I have been working on (more of them later in the week!).

 

 

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craft, crochet, knitting, yarn

Works in Progress and Stash Love

I’ve been very busy with some projects for friends and family, which has been great relaxation, as the weather has been grotty for ages and I’ve had a nasty cold…

First up are a really fun couple of projects for my friend Donna and her new baby, wee Olly.  This baby blanket is my first large self-designed project – it is cot/pram sized and I’m so thrilled with the design and how it has turned out, so I will be giving it to them in the next week or so.  I had enough left of the gorgeously soft Drops Merino Extrafine DK to make a quick pair of baby booties.

Thankfully I made them sized for around 6 months old – at only 8 weeks I thought he might have to wait a while to wear them, but Donna has said that he’s already in 3-6 months clothes, so he may get use of them sooner rather than later…

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Next the ongoing project for my brother, I didn’t quite finish it for Christmas!  I hadn’t done any knitting for a while and I’m still pretty slow.  But it’s coming along finally, now I’ve finished my other projects…  I love the combination of bright, medium and dark reds in this Katia Basic Merino Flash DK.  The design is reversible – Half Moon Stitch – and looks great.

 

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Now these projects are either done yarn, (or very nearly dusted!) I’ve been on another couple of trips to reinvigorate my stash.  It is impossible to resist when passing a yarn shop, or browsing online on Deramores or Wool Warehouse.

I bought the Noro Kureyon and Noro A La Mode (both Aran/Worsted) at my favourite yarn shop, Marmalade Yarns in Frome.  I have a particular project in mind for this but won’t say too much as I might spoil someone’s surprise!

I bought some Malabrigo Merino Worsted to make Mum’s scarf for Christmas (which I haven’t got a picture of yet but she has promised!) so I bought an extra couple of skeins to make something for myself.  As yet, I haven’t made myself anything so I think it’s about time I got started on this!

Next up is some Jillybean yarn from Marmalade Yarns – this lovely red wool is called Yabbadabbadoo and as it is made in such small quantities and not marked up but it seems to be a DK sort of weight.  At 60% organic Shetland and 40% Mohair it seems quite robust and yet soft.

Finally a quick visit yesterday to Marmalade Yarns (again!) I could not resist these beautiful blues by Fyberspates – Scrumptious 4ply/sport weight 55% Merino, 45% Silk but machine washable.

So I think I had better get making!

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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 – Opening 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 – Yarn, 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 – art 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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