Sunday, 30 September 2012

YoP Update #8: I made something!

My Year of Projects list is split into two parts (a) specific projects, and (b) stash busting. Last week's post refocussed me and this week I got to work. Betty/Bertie Bunny's penultimate limb is now done - just one more leg to go before I can sew it all up. That's just a couple of hours needed to get the rabbit finished...but the rabbit is 'stealth' knitting, so it's currently hiding in a bag. Progress, none-the-less. (I took a photo and posted it to Instagram, but apparently it looked like something ENTIRELY different, so I'm not showing you here - if you're curious, you can go find it.) 

On Wednesday, Little Miss was under the weather and we stayed indoors. I took out the yarn left over from my Cwtchy Cable Armwarmers and made myself a quick and Simple Crochet Beret - one of my list items AND from stashed yarn. I originally chose to knit with this yarn for it's stich definition, texture and overall appearance. I found it even more lovely to crochet. I used a Clover hook and found the yarn would glide over it very smoothly making this work up in no time at all - literally a couple of hours despite also intermittently cuddling a child. After crocheting the Hello Kitty hat last weekend with horrid acrylic yarn, it was nice to work with this again....

 ...and I'm very pleased with the final result.  I love that it matches the armwarmers, but I'm still not quite sure how to wear it....  
YARN: Rowan Creative Focus Worsted, colour 401
HOOKClover Soft Touch 6mm
PATTERN: improvised

This week I'd like to crack on with another (non-YoP) WIP, so I'm not sure when I'll be back with the next update. You can catch up with everyone else's posts on the Ravelry group. Happy crafting, ladies! 
Saturday, 29 September 2012

The Sky and (Harvest) Moon

My favourite spot in Sussex - perfect for cloud watching
The Basin (source)
The place of my birth, Caerphilly, is a town at the bottom of a geological basin - there are hills or mountains in all directions, and there is a LOT of rain. This means a lot of rainclouds and the sky alternates between grey, drab and colourless. This was completely normal for me until I left home and moved to the sunny Surrey suburbs (a densely populated area within spitting distance of London) and then into London-proper where so many buildings invade the eyeline. 

Since our move to Sussex I have become increasingly obsessed with the sky. As there are miles of fields in all directions, there is just so much of it. It feels as though I have never seen so much blue sky in one place, and those fluffy white clouds.... Some days it really does take my breath away. I'm delighted the new iPhone can take panoramic shots - above is my first attempt at using it, not a great success because my hand wasn't terribly steady and I started off too slowly which has left some stuttering lights and a mutant sun, but I'm looking forward to the practice and feel this is the perfect spot for it. 

Tonight we've been in the garden looking at the Harvest Moon. I mentioned the effects of the full moon previously, and not much has changed - Little Miss has trouble sleeping, and both the Boy and I are emotional and unsettled at this time. Feeling agitated today, I took some quiet time at the spot pictured above while the children were at a party. With my feet planted on the grass - I'm not sure that it "grounded" me very much, but it was completely relaxing and enjoyable in the sunshine - I finished reading the aptly named Moondance of Stonewylde and for those who asked, despite my earlier nonchalance, I've already downloaded the next one so I think there must be something compelling about the story.... although I'm not quite sure what. 


And talking of "Harvest Moon" these patterns are available via Ravelry ..... 
Source: ravelry.com via Sarah on Pinterest



Source: ravelry.com via Sarah on Pinterest


They make me feel I should be knitting instead of sitting here looking at a screen, which is my queue to bid you goodnight. Goodnight! x
Friday, 28 September 2012

Ta-dah: Hello Kitty & A Quick-Knit Mitty "Pattern"

It's been a while since I linked in with FO Friday and today I have not one but two Finished Objects: 
PATTERN: Hello Kitty Hat by Elizabeth Trantham from Crochet in Color
Mitts - improvised, see below
YARNS: Robin Chunky 100% Acrylic (and I don't like it)
Ravelry Project notes here

If I were to make one of these hats again, I'd make the ears more pointed, the whiskers more evenly spaced and use a nicer yarn (rather than rushing to the shop and picking the ONLY yarn which was available locally in red, white and black and which is horrible *shudder* - already looking fluffy on some areas of the mitts and not great to work with) but you live and learn, and frankly I don't think Little Miss is worried about any of these things. I'd definitely recommend the pattern, which is free.

The improvised mitts were knitted up in about an hour and a half out of the yarn left from the hat. My friend Anna, who is learning to knit, asked me to post the instructions for her to make some, so here goes.

These will fit approximately 2 to 5 year old hands, but can be easily made bigger or smaller by adjusting the number of stitches (or using different sized yarn/needles).

BASIC MITT:
Using Chunky yarn and 6mm circular needles cast on 24 stitches and join (without twisting) to knit in the round. If necessary, place a marker so you can identify the beginning of each round.
  • Rounds 1 to 5: K1, P1 rib
  • Stocking stitch (knit all stitches) for 4 cm or to desired length from cuff to thumb
  • To leave a thumb-hole on one side, knit back and forth in stocking stitch (knitting RS and purling WS) for the next 3 cm 
  • On the next RS row, rejoin to knit in the round and knit one round, then
  • K1, P1 rib for 5 rounds 
  • Cast off. I used Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-off so there is no restriction to the finger movement.
OPTIONAL
  • You can pick up the stitches around the thumb hole if you prefer to have a proper thumb. I didn't do this as I like the option to use them interchangeably as arm-warmers or mitts, depending on the weather and activity. 
  • Decorate and adorn as you wish! 
I actually have ANOTHER finished item too which is part of my Year of Projects. I'll save that for Sunday's update so come back then if you'd like to see the hat I made to wear with my Cwtchy Cable Amrwarmers
Have a great weekend! 
xxxx
Thursday, 27 September 2012

Coming soon....


Each Thursday during October and November I'll be running a Festive Gift Guide feature including patterns and things to make yourself, some great books, craft accessories and various lovely items I'm putting on my own Christmas list. I have lots of things already planned and am busy reviewing some more products for possible inclusion, but if you have found something you simply MUST make/buy/have this year please feel free to leave a comment or contact me with the details so I can take a look at those too. 

If you are in the UK and looking for ideas, there's still time to enter the competition for tickets to the Birmingham or Glasgow Crafts for Christmas and Hobbycrafts shows - details can be found here

See you tomorrow for some Finished Objects!
xxxxx
Wednesday, 26 September 2012

A little WIPs and books (and poetry) update

CROCHET: The start of a hat in Rowan Creative Focus Worsted colour 401  
LISTENING TO: British Poets collection from The British Library 
READINGMoondance of Stonewylde by Kit Berry

It's dark and cold (and wet) and I need a hat. Something plain and simple and unassuming to wear with my brightly coloured raincoats. It's one of the things on my Year of Projects list and as my YoP is also about stashbusting, it seems a good idea to use the left over yarn from writing my Cwtchy Cable Armwarmers pattern last year. There should be enough for a little slouch if I also unravel the first armwarmer sample. The yarn is a joy to crochet, gliding effortlessly over the hook, so it should work up in no time at all. If it works out, it'll have the added benefit of being matchy-matchy, and we all know I love a bit of matchy-matchy! 

I'm still falling asleep to reading the same book as last week (too tired to read very much in bed) and this morning I'm listening to a bit of Dylan Thomas. I have to admit to being disappointed that he sounds decidedly unlike Richard Burton - in my mind the two have become almost interchangeable as I'm a fan of Burton's recording of 'Under Milk Wood' and have listened to it many times over the years. 

Little Miss has a horrid cough/cold and we're planning on cwtching up and staying warm today. 
Back soon! 
x

This post is linked to 'WIP Wednesday' and the 'Yarn Along'.
Monday, 24 September 2012

YoP Update #7: A pitiful "progress" update

 
It's been a few weeks since my last Year of Projects post, mainly because there hasn't been much progress with either my list or my stash busting but I feel it's time to come clean and post an update anyway - maybe it'll get me back on track!

I had grand plans for the weekend after Little Miss asked me for some "heart mittens" on Friday - I was planning to use some stash yarn and got as far as finding a possible heart chart to incorporate.... but then I came across a Hello Kitty Hat pattern and knew I had to make one immediately... and I needed more yarn to make it. It's finished and she loves it, but I'll save the 'ta-dah' and details for my post on Friday. 

So the mittens are still on my mind this week, and I've also selected another pattern for my list which will be a toy for My Boy - Tawny Owl by Ella Austin. He's 6 so it's something to put on his book shelf rather than something to play with and this seemed a perfect option, neither too girly or baby-ish for him.

As the yarn requirement is quite small, and I also have lots of filling, I think this should be a project entirely from stash. The pattern looks very well written and easy to follow and I'm looking forward to getting started on it, despite my  limited experience with stranded colourwork. My first attempt was also an Ella Austin pattern. Unfortunately Betty/Bertie Bunny is only a few hours away from being finished, so I really should finish that first.

I would need many more hours in the day to get through all the things I want to make at the moment - I'm having to learn to be patient. It's not easy. 


Friday, 21 September 2012

This Moment: Simple Pleasures

The smell of Autumn in the cold air. 
Returning to a warm house and a hot cup of tea. 
Planning some "heart mittens" to keep little hands warm.
Rediscovering a favourite book from childhood. 
"Animals arrived, liked the look of the place, took up their quarters, settled down, spread, and flourished. They didn't bother themselves about the past - they never do; they're too busy."
- Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows, Ch. 4

Wishing you all a weekend filled with simple pleasures. 
I'll be back on Sunday with a YoP update. 
xxxxxx
Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Wednesday's WIPs and books

KNITTING: Nuvem by Martina Behm in Drops Lace 
Windward by Heidi Kirrmaier in Fyberspates Nef Sock
So these last few cold dark evenings have seen a couple more grams added to Nuvem, and quite a bit of progress on Windward. The picture doesn't do it justice, but you can see how the different sections are knitted at the same time, and how the stitches are going in various directions. It's a great design and well laid out with both written instructions and easy to use tables charting the number of stitches for each section on each row - it's really easy to follow and fun to see the different shapes developing. 

The second book in the Stonewylde series, a light trivial read, has been my bedtime Kindle read this week - I'm about half way through it and it's okay - not as interesting as the first in the series but readable. When I've read that I'm going back George RR Martin and A Song of Ice and Fire (5) - A Dance With Dragons - I have been holding out since it was published after reading the others consecutively, but can wait no longer. 

A selection of craft books has arrived over the last few weeks - keep your eyes peeled for some  reviews over the coming weeks. I'm pretty sure some of them might be suitable for your own Christmas wishlist, or as gifts for others.

As usual on Wednesdays, this post is linked in with Tami and Ginny - you'll find more yarn crafts and books on their blogs. Have a great day! 

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Settling

We are all starting to settle into our new schedule. We are all tired but finding our groove.  There is a distinct nip in the air confirming that Autumn is here. With the nights drawing in, it's definitely Knitting Time and I'm on a bit of a mission to finish Windward. After that I think it'll be time to start on some hats. It's not cold enough for coats, but our school run is shady now that the sun is lower in the sky and I'm thinking of snuggly things and being cosy, new hats will be perfect.

A number of people asked for my Mum's gluten-free coconut "boob" biscuit recipe when I posted a picture on Instagram recently. If you fancy making a batch, you can find the recipe at goodtoknow.co.uk under a different name (blame my sister for the boob thing). They are deliciously crispy and perfect dunked in a mug of tea - just what you need after a walk in the cold, but right now the sun is shining and we're going to make the most of it with a morning out in the local countryside, and maybe a hunt for  some early conkers. 
Friday, 14 September 2012

Link love...

With no Finished Objects to show you, I thought it would be a good time to share some of my recent finds. If you follow me on Pinterest, you'll know I'm always on the look out for Gorgeous Knits, Crochet goodies, and Useful things as well as Things to Do and lots of random bits & pieces. Here are some of my recent favourites, with the links to the source websites where you can also find lots of other lovely things too. Enjoy!

Rainbow Pom pom collar necklace tutorial - From Rags to Couture
Source: ragstocouture.com via Sarah on Pinterest
Pterodactyl knitting pattern from Marc Smollin on Ravelry
Source: ravelry.com via Sarah on Pinteres
Tissue Paper Pom Pom tutorial from Polka Dot Made
Source: polkadotbride.com via Sarah on Pinterest
Absolutely everything a knitting geek may want to know can be found at Techknitting Blog
Handmade socks with clogs from Petra O, a lovely Swedish knitting blog with gorgeous FOs
Crochet Cast off that takes no additional yarn - from the Yarn Harlot archives
Source: yarnharlot.ca via Sarah on Pinterest
Getting new shoes to fit comfortably in less than 2 minutes from Coffee Light and Sweet
Sewing together knitting blocks so they look seamless - from Anonyknits blog

And finally, a thought for all the parents out there, taken from Lay Baby Lay
Source: laybabylay.com via Sarah on Pinterest
Hope you have a wonderful weekend
xxxxxx
Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Wednesday's WIPs and books (or Knitting, Reading & Driving)

With the return to school and pre-school and all the other term-time after-school activities (football, ballet, swimming, multi-sports, forest club and karate), not to mention birthday parties each weekend, I've rapidly morphed into the frazzled mum/taxi cliché, but do I have something wonderful to do it in....
Do you remember I was obsessing about PT Cruisers? Well D not only bought me exactly the one I wanted, but he managed to keep it a surprise for a WHOLE WEEK until it was delivered from the other side of the country, all the while saying he didn't think he'd ever be able to find the later model in red and with automatic transmission. He is generally useless at surprises so this was doubly special and I love it! It's perfectly round and shiny and retro-looking. It's such a shame that Chrysler stopped producing them in 2010, at the time when other manufacturers were reviving retro styled vehicles. But I digress... 

You may have noticed a lack of blogging, and that's because there has not been very much crafting... 
KNITTING: Nuvem by Martina Behm
YARN: Drops Lace - 123.5g (988m) knit so far! 

When I've eventually sat down of an evening, on the occasions I've not been too tired to knit, it's Nuvem that has kept my hands busy. There is still a long way to go with this simple, relaxing knit - the rest of this second skein. The increase for the (frilly) edge needs to happen when 40g remain by which point the remaining rounds will be in excess of 2,000 stitches - although it already feels like there are that many!  

Last night I finished a book called Magus of Stonewylde by Kit Berry. I saw it mentioned on a friend's facebook wall, and before I knew it was reading it on my Kindle. It's the story of a young city girl moving into a secluded Pagan community, and of magic and nature. It is one of those books that I really feel like I shouldn't have enjoyed as much as I did (it's predictable and used the word "belligerent" far too much), but as soon as it was finished, I bought the next in the series and carried on. I'm also trudging on with the book club book I've been "reading" for weeks. 

So that's it from me. There are more WIPs at Tami's and, later, WIPs and books at Ginny's blogs.  Oh and don't forget that the ticket giveaways for Glasgow and Birmingham craft shows are still running if you are able to make it to those places on the relevant dates. 
xxxx

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

A Christmas WIP (already!) and a couple of giveaways

I've heard a number of people groaning about the Christmas adverts and the festive cards which have started appearing in early September, and will admit that most years I'd have done the same. But there has been a shift in my perceptions this year and like many other crafters, I find myself with a list of things to make before MID-December (you will note the contingency in my planning!) Not only is there a list, but I am almost finished knitting the first (tricky to photograph) item....
PATTERN: Betty by Nancy Atkinson
YARN: Wendy Norse Chunky in Arctic and Drift

If you've been following my Instagram feed you'll have seen some stealthy late night knitting this week and as a result I now only need to make the legs, sew, stuff and dress it before I can cross the first item off my list! The pattern is a girl bunny, she is wearing a dress, but this may yet become 'Bertie' - I'm not sure Little Miss will like the very dark navy blue on a girl - she is incredibly fussy and usually insists on lighter "prettier" colours. I'll decide once the stripy legs are done. 

On the subject of Christmas crafting and handmade gifts, it's time for a giveaway! I was originally contacted about attending two Crafts For Christmas and Hobbycrafts shows at the SECC in Glasgow and the Birmingham NEC, but as I can't make it to the shows myself the promoters have kindly agreed to donate the tickets to a couple of lucky readers. As a result I have a pair of tickets for EACH event. The shows aim to provide you with everything you need for a beautiful handmade Christmas. Whether it's a cuddly snowman for a little one, some festive decorations for the house or a beautiful necklace for someone special Crafts for Christmas offers a huge selection of handmade gifts and cards. The Hobbycrafts show has over 200 exhibitors with supplies for all sort of crafts including jewellery making, stamping, calligraphy and papercrafts. There are also various demonstrations and talks throughout the day. 

The shows will be held in Glasgow between 25th & 28th October, and in Birmingham between 8th & 11th November. You can read more information (and pre-book tickets) here

If you'd like a chance to win entrance for two to the GLASGOW show in October, please leave a comment on this post, telling me what you're planning to make for Christmas and that you'd like to enter the draw. Please make sure I have a way to contact you from your comment (either your blog link or an email address). The winner will be randomly selected on Monday 8th October 2012.
THE WINNER HAS NOW BEEN RANDOMLY SELECTED & NOTIFIED BY EMAIL. 

If you'd like to win entrance for two to the BIRMINGHAM show in November, please head over to the facebook page and leave your comment on the giveaway post. If you could click on the "like" button while you're there that would be lovely, but winning is not conditional on liking the page. The winner for this prize will be selected on Monday 15th October 2012.

GOOD LUCK!!!!
Monday, 3 September 2012

Something random: Obsessions

How my brain works (lightswitch)

Anyone who knows me well will know that the image above sums me up perfectly. It's probably fortunate that D is even worse the same, and at some point each evening we can be found with iPads in hand, completely absorbed in our latest obsessions. (I suppose this is exactly the type of behaviour that Pinterest exacerbates and the new iPad app and categories make it easier than ever!)

We're going to change our smallest car, 'my' car. If we were childless I'd struggle to choose between a Beetle, a Mini, a Figaro and a Fiat 500. Sadly none of these are terribly practical for taxiing a couple of kids around and for the last decade I've had a string of incredibly safe, incredibly practical Renaults. Don't get me wrong, Renaults are great cars, but I've never felt they were very "me". I prefer rounded edges, retro features, something curvy and a bit more interesting to look at. After weighing up the options I've decided the best compromise is a Chrysler PT Cruiser. Unfortunately they are no longer in production, so we can't just order what we want and need to find one that suits - I really want red.

I'm also obsessing about looking at tattoos. I like them. A lot. I was sitting in a tattoo parlour in Brighton last week with friends, and D recently got a fab new one on his forearm based on one of my Pinterest finds. Neither fact has helped my condition. Being a 40 year old bearded biker, tattoos completely suit D - so much that even my mum, who comes from the generation where tattoos are considered suitable only for sailors and ladies of ill repute, thinks the latest addition is wonderful (and has been coveting it).

I have a couple of small tattoos - one on my back and another on my wrist - but I'd secretly love to look like those beautiful young tattooed girls with a long mane of waves or funky dreadlocks - dreads were last summer's obsession. Sadly the reality is somewhat different -  a middle-aged overweight body of 5'3" covered in stretch marks, post-operative scars and a C-section pouch. Gravity is desperately trying to take control of all the wrong bits. I can't help thinking I'd look and feel ridiculous with the tattoos I like. Still, it's nice to browse the lovely pictures and to dream a little, and I'll probably settle for a small inconspicuous addition......or two.

How about you? Do you have a current obsession? Please tell me I'm not the only one...?
Sunday, 2 September 2012

YoP Update #6: Stealth Knitting

This week I finally decided on a suitable yarn for Betty Bunny which will constitute half of the Year of Projects list item "a toy for each of my children". I chose Wendy Norse Chunky (in Drift and Arctic) in the Deramores sale for just over £2 a ball, and have to say that I am delighted with the way it's knitting up - soft, a little fluffy and very smooth to knit on my KnitPro Novas. It's 50% wool/ 50% acrylic and I'm hoping it'll be cuddly but hardy enough to withstand plenty of love as she is going to be quite big - just look at the size of those ears!

The pattern comes from Let's Knit magazine. (If you've missed it in the shops but have an iPad/iPhone it can be downloaded from the iTunes App store.) It is knit flat and the instructions are very simple and easy to follow so far. I think it would make a good project for a beginner, although there are one or two minor stitch count errors (unless I've totally lost the ability to subtract small numbers and/or knit). With chunky yarn and 6mm needles, this is a really quick project and I think it could be done in a day or so (a great last minute gift?)... unless you are stealth knitting it when your children aren't looking. Then you should expect it to take much longer. 
If you'd like to read more about Year of Projects, or to see more of this weeks updates
click here (free Ravelry membership is required). 
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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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