Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The Daily Pompom No.1 and a pompom maker giveaway!


The Daily Pom: 5-minute Pompom Bookmark
My recent addiction has resulted in lots of pompom projects and I'll be publishing one a day until Friday. This is the most simple of all, and also demonstrates just how easy it is to use a pompom maker. You can, of course use any other way of making pompoms, but if - like me - you grew up making pompoms with handmade floppy cardboard circles and an ever decreasing hole to stuff your yarn through, you may well find yourself converted to these little gadgets too!

This project takes just a few minutes and is easy enough for children, although there is a sharp point in the centre of the pompom makers, and scissors are used so adult supervision or assistance may be required. 
image
Step 1: Make the pompom and tie it off leaving long tails. If you haven't made one before, it's really easy. Simply wrap the yarn around one side of the 'arms' (pic 1). When you're done, move any yarn caught on the underside of the arm (there is a bit on the right side, for illustration) and and then repeat the process for the other side, (pic 2).
Using a pompom maker
When that's done, take your scissors and cut around the sides carefully, (pic 3) then tie a long piece of yarn around the groove in the middle of the pompom maker. Be sure to pull it tight before knotting, and then tie around again in the other direction and secure with a double knot. Slowly and gently release the 'arms' on each side (pic 4), and then pull the top and bottom apart - this is the sharp bit - to remove the pompom. Trim to neaten, as required (you can see I forgot to do this before taking the photo below!)

Step 2: Trim the tails to tuck between pages OR use them to tie the pom pom  to a paperclip
image
There you have it! I'll be back with another simple pompom project tomorrow so get your scrap yarn at the ready.

If you don't already have your own pompom makers, and you'd like to get your hands on the Small AND Large size, Black Sheep Wools are offering one lucky reader the chance to get them for free! All you have to do is comment below and tell me your favourite 'pompom project' - remember to also leave your email or Ravelry username so I can contact you. I'll draw a random winner on Saturday 26th July. The draw is open to everyone, including international readers. Good luck! 
Sunday, 20 July 2014

Addicted!

Considering I've been making things with yarn for a few years, I'm surprised that it's taken so long to discover pompom makers. In fact, it only happened when I found myself with a few hours to kill and a voucher for some free makers in return for a supplying a few pom-poms to The Handmade Fair*. Let's just say they are addictive. Look out for some pompom projects and a giveaway coming to the blog next week. 
It's gone a bit pom-pom -tastic around here!
*See the insert in the current UK issue of Mollie Makes, which is also pompom-tastic!
Wednesday, 16 July 2014

A Knitter's Worst Enemy?

When I think of all the (knitting) mistakes I've made - things that have held up my projects, required tinking or frogging, that have driven me completely mad - I estimate at least ninety percent of them have one thing in common - they were on simple projects that I was really enjoying and I got complacent. 

It's rarely complex or fiddly things that have me stumped or cause a problem. This is partly because I tend not to knit too many complex or fiddly things, but mostly because when I make anything more complicated it gets undivided attention. I don't choose anything like that when I'm tired (which is most of the time) and don't carry them around in my handbag. On the other hand, my 'complacent' knits are carted about with minimal care and popped in and out of bags with abandon. 

Why am I telling you all this? A few days ago I showed you the start of my Pebble Beach Shawlette a lovely pattern which definitely falls into the 'simple and really enjoyable category' and I've been merrily picking it up and putting it down since Sunday. It's been to a coffee shop, to a restaurant, and in at least four handbags in it's short life. Then last night, as I sat watching TV, I realised that I'd missed a yarn over on a previous row!! It's not a big deal, but failing light at the wrong end of the day meant I didn't want to start ripping out rows. I've been busy today and have book club tonight. So the shawl is stalled. My enemy 'Complacency' has struck again.

Lesson: I really must start to count stitches at the end of pattern rows, however simple they are. 
Complacency: a knitter's worst enemy?
Please tell me I'm not the only one to make stupid mistakes like this!?
Monday, 14 July 2014

Unwind(ing in) Brighton

Unwind Brighton
Due to a sick child on Thursday night, it looked like I wouldn't be able to make it to Unwind Brighton and at that point I will admit to feeling relieved, perhaps even a little smug, not to have booked any of the many classes I'd considered. It had been a lethal combination of indecision and procrastination that stopped me booking anything in time. Plus Mum was coming and, being deaf, wouldn't be able to take a class, so it was a trip that had been planned around the marketplace and the people.

As I sat on the sofa cuddling my boy and browsing Instagram to avoid Children's TV, I felt sad that I might miss out on an event so close to home. People were posting pictures of their flight departures from overseas, distant train platforms and the excitement of seeing "Brighton" on a road-sign. With luck and Calpol on my side the lad perked up considerably by Friday evening and I sent a text to Mum stating simply "We're on!".
Heading to Unwind Brighton
We met at the station in time for the obligatory 'train station selfie' and set off for the short trip, arriving just over an hour after the opening. Having changed bags numerous times my knitting had been accidentally left behind, and maybe everyone else had done the same as we didn't spot a single person crafting on the train. And no signs of knitterly-tendencies either - no shawls, knitting bags, crochet hooks or whiffs of sheep. Nothing. I'm putting it down to the warm weather (I had ditched my own hand-knits before heading out for this reason).
If you don't know Brighton, it's a beautiful, crazy, eclectic place, located above a pebbled beach right on the South coast of England - take a look here and you'll get a feel for it. Classes and demos were taking place in various locations around Brighton, but our day centred around the Marketplace at Brighton Dome Corn Exchange. Number 11 on the fabulous Unwind Map.
Brighton map - Unwind style!
Despite keeping an eye on the announcements and hearing about the plans on the Playful Day podcast, it wasn't until we entered the marketplace that I got the true sense of how 'big' this event was. I am not talking about physical size - which was not that big at all - but the  teachers and exhibitors were a real who's-who of knitting. It was also incredibly hot in there. Oh my!

I'm sure part of it was the rush and excitement of a room full of very special fluff and great people, and perhaps a few fumes from the 'recently-dyed' wares, but it was mostly down to a very sunny day, glass panels in the roof and lots of lighting. (I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to everyone who was on the receiving end of one of my hugs, but I think we were probably all as hot as one another, and am sure you'll understand.) Despite the heat, and proving she really is too cool for school, Ysolda Teague actually managed to wear her hat and to look as lovely as usual - here she is with my big sweaty head. Poor Ysolda.
Unwind Brighton
Having rushed over to join the queue for her book-signing (I got a copy of Saturday Treat which also includes a code to download the ebook - fabulous!) it was so busy I didn't get to chat to her, which is just one of my many regrets* of the day.

At that point, the two busiest stalls seemed to be Ysolda's and Spin City. You may remember Louise from an earlier Show & Tell post and after Saturday it's clear I'm not the only person to have a 'spinning crush' on her - we had to queue to get into the booth which was packed with beautiful spindles and scrumptious fluff. It was worth it to meet her at last - we've been talking online for a while, and she's every bit as lovely as I thought she'd be. Coming away with one of Louise's spindles was always part of my plan for the day, and you can imagine that it was a tough decision when the many jars filled with them looked like this...
Unwind Brighton

The marketplace was great. We bumped into lots of lovely blog readers and bloggers - hello!!!! - (I'm still always shocked when people 'know' me from the blog) and Sewing Bee fans who took selfies with Mum. There were people we'd met  before - at Unravel - and also some lovely friends we'd arranged to meet - Tanya (A Yarn Loving Mama) and Kristina (Eaden Yarns - who incidentally has a shop update this coming Thursday, look out for her gradients!). We also met  Gemma (@MrsBlaza) and her gorgeous little boy who was born just after our last knitalong. I couldn't resist a picture of this little hand hanging onto his mum's knitwear.
Unwind Brighton

There were many vendors I hadn't seen at other shows (all credit to the organisers for attracting such great people, including those from overseas) and we browsed all sorts of lovely things, but I am most proud of myself for managing to completely avoid the temptation to so much as look on the Signature Needle Arts stand. After getting the full set of Chiaogoo interchangeables and DPNs recently - which I love - I'm determined to avoid any risk of infidelity with something brighter and pointier.

Between visits to the café and the Podcaster meet (not just for podcasters!) we spent a few hours at the marketplace but I didn't go mad, coming away with just a few carefully selected items - all for planned projects. That's a lesson I've learned from previous festivals.
Unwind Brighton - the purchases.
There's Ysolda's book, the sparkly spindle from Louise, some gorgeous Triskelion sock yarn, a shawl pin and some brass rings to try making some of those lovely pinwheel buttons. I also got a Playful Day badge, which is not pictured (it felt a bit like getting a Blue Peter badge and is now safely stuck to my pinboard), an Unwind carrier bag and programme which includes two knitting patterns - the first of which you can see I've already cast on.

If I were to relive the day, there would be some things I'd do differently:
  • Book at least one class. I don't know which - there were too many I wanted to do! I really feel that I missed out by not taking any classes. Veera talking about stripes, Amy Singer spindling, Felicia Lo's theories on colour, and Woolly Wormhead talking hats...? Seriously HOW did I let these get away, never mind all the others!!!
  • Stay overnight to make a weekend of it.
  • Take more cash to grab some of the little bits and pieces I didn't need, but would have quite liked  and didn't have the small change for.
  • Make a physical list of the people who will be there that I'd like to meet, and then work through it. I missed a few people that I REALLY wanted to meet such as Joanne Scrace! 
  • Not rush into the marketplace, but take more time to hang back and chat. It was much quieter (and cooler) later in the afternoon, and that would have been a better time to chat to vendors, rather than rushing around like a hot headless chicken at the start of the day. 
  • It sounds awful to say I'll go alone next time.... but I will. I love doing things with my mum but as she's not as 'into' knitting as I am, she doesn't spin etc, and she was far more interested in Rachel Coopy's (aka Coop Knits) hair colour than almost anything else. It's beautiful, by the way, and she was very patient and lovely to my mother!
  • Oh, I'd also take a fan.
I'm really hoping there'll be another Unwind next year so I can get chance to do it again. 
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Welcome to CftC! You'll find lots of knitting, spinning, crochet, books and snippets of family life amongst the archives and you may like to start with my most popular tips & tutorials, or the patterns. You can read more about me on the 'Hello' page and if you like it here, you may also like to visit the CftC pages on Ravelry, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Etsy. I hope you enjoy your visit! Sarah

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