Wednesday, 31 October 2012

WIPs and Books and a TATTOO!

KNITTING: Nuvem by Martina Behm using Garnstudio Drops Lace
READING: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
After finishing off a couple of projects (look out for another FO on Friday) and unravelling the Chevron Lace Cardi which was too big, I'm adding some incredibly loooong rounds to Nuvem and wondering what to cast on next. I have a few ideas (maybe a stashbusting Moonshadow?) but will probably wait until after half term and our trip to Wales. The most exciting Work In Progress today is definitely this one.....
.....if you follow on Pinterest you'll have seen me pinning lots of tattoos for inspiration. I was really lucky to get a cancellation slot for today as Jack is booked-up many months in advance. I'll post another picture when it's healed.
In the last week I've become addicted to a really really stupid show (it was cancelled after the first season so I hope it doesn't end on a cliffhanger!) I'm watching it via SkyGo on the iPad in bed or while doing the ironing - if you have a Sky subscription and an iPad this app is a must, there are lots of great things to watch, not just this kind of addictive rubbish! As a result, I haven't done much reading but I'm still enjoying Harold Fry's pilgrimage.
As usual I'm linking with Tami and Ginny today. Enjoy.
Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Making Things Happen

Source: nataliedee.com
Do you remember a little while ago I wrote about my obsessions? At the time I had only two things on my mind - PT Cruisers and tattoos. I now have the PT Cruiser, so it was really only a matter of time before the tattoo issue came to a head. I'm posting this on my way home from an appointment with a tattoo artist in Brighton. I now have a full day booked with him in June (busy guy, this was the first full day available) but in the meantime he's going to try to squeeze me in for something smaller....TOMORROW!!!!! Just waiting on a phone call to confirm - wish me luck!
Monday, 29 October 2012

It's a wrap (finally) aka 'Never rely on kids!'


PATTERN: Inspired by Wrapped, I improvised this size, as below
YARN: James C Brett Marble DK shade MT22 - 128g before embellishment

Inspired by the adult sized free pattern from two and six blog I featured in the Festive Gift Guide a couple of weeks ago, this was very quick and exceedingly simple to work up, although I didn't get to post the details until now as Little Miss refused to try it on properly (something to do with the purple stripe not being pink) and then didn't want to stand still....or brush her hair. Please excuse the pictures!

As usual, I made this slightly large for my tall 3 year old, and the finished measurements are 76 x 37 cm. I'm really pleased with how well it came out, the colours of the yarn are good with these vertical stripes (except for the purple!) and I think that until it's warm enough to wear as an outer garment next Spring, when it should fit properly, it will be a good additional layer underneath a jacket as there is no bulk from sleeves, just a toasty tum. 


If you are interested in making a similar sized wrap, this is what I did (please note that as most of my crochet has been "made up", I'm no expert on pattern terminology, so this is a cobbled together list of pointers - I hope it makes sense). UK stitches are used.
  1. Using DK and 5mm hook loosely chain 51
  2. turn and tr into the 2nd chain from hook
  3. Make 1 tr into every stitch, then ch2 and turn
  4. Repeat (3) x 19, then ch2 and turn
  5. Work 1 tr into each of the next 13 sts, loosely chain 18 (this forms the armhole), then 1 tr into each of the remaining 20 sts, ch 2, turn
  6. Repeat (3) and (4) to make the back section = 20 rows
  7. Repeat (5) to make second armhole
  8. Repeat (4) then
  9. For the final row, dc into each stitch, then finish off and sew in all ends.
  10. Embellish as per the recipient's preferences - in this case a flowery brooch. 
Today I need to sew the ends in on my new crochet cowl, so keep an eye out for that. 
Sunday, 28 October 2012

YoP Update #12: Granny goodness on a grey day

CROCHET: Improvised Granny Cowl
YARN:  King Cole Merino Blend DK, 100% wool
HOOK: 4mm

It's been a cold wintry weekend - grey skies, drizzle and a freezing cold wind. Of course the perfect antidote was at hand - some brightly coloured wool and a hook to make a little stash-busting project. After a couple of hours I *almost* have a new granny stripe cowl (there are still a few ends to sew in). 

On Friday I started another project from my YoP list, the Chevron Lace Cardigan but after swatching and getting gauge first, I stupidly started the wrong size and had to frog. I'll let you know how it goes in the smaller size....
Click to visit the YoP group on Ravelry
Friday, 26 October 2012

FO Friday: A Lonely Tree Ta-dah!

PATTERN: The Lonely Tree Shawl by Silvia Bo Bilvia
YARN: Araucania Nature Wool (Worsted) - 98g/ 1 skein
NEEDLES: 5.5mm

After checking, double-checking, and triple-checking, I'm sure this was made exactly to the pattern (minus the odd little error, but let's just ignore those) and nothing is missing so I needn't have worried about the yarn - in the end it took *just* under 1 skein which means I have almost half a skein left over despite using slightly larger needles. I love the FO and what's more it goes with my red clogs!

If you're thinking you couldn't knit a chart or haven't tried a lacy project before (I know some of you are after various Facebook and Instagram comments), this free pattern could be just right for you. There is nothing complicated, the charts are clear and the thick yarn/big needles mean it's finished in no time. I've spotted the bigger bulky version - The Lonely Winter Tree so that's been added to my queue. For fear of leaf overload I think I'll wait a while before making it. 

 I'll be back on Sunday with my Year of Projects update. See you then. 
x
Thursday, 25 October 2012

Festive Gift Guide Part 4: A Year of Inspiration

This week I've reviewed three books for you that aim to provide inspiration throughout the entire year.
Craft-A-Day: 365 Simple Handmade Projects
 by Sarah Goldschadt
The new book from Danish crafter and photographer Sarah Goldschadt is out this month and is packed with (365!) simple whimsical makes that require very little in the way of materials, time or specific skills, in fact many of the projects are suitable for making with even young children. 

This is a big hardcover book with lots of lovely photographs and clear instructions. The projects are organised into themed weeks (eg Snowflake Week, Pumpkin Week, People Week) and each week you'll find a number of different projects using the same templates, all based on the theme. There are lots of house/party decorations, cake toppers, gift tags, finger puppets, mobiles, garlands, cards, some plush animals, t-shirt embellishments and much more. 

I can't imagine actually working through ALL of the projects in one single year, but for decorating children's parties, when you need to wrap a gift, or when the kids are "bored" on a rainy Saturday,  there is a lot of inspiration between these pages. I can totally imagine making the seasonal cake toppers while the kids' cakes are in the oven, or coming up with a nice birthday card and matching gift tag before they head out to a party. You can read more about the book at the author's website
The Knitter's Year by Debbie Bliss
I've seen a number of projects from The Knitter's Year on other blogs and then I looked the patterns up on the Ravelry project page so I had certain expectations from this book. I wasn't disappointed when it arrived.  There are a number of projects for each season, including small items such as egg cosies and wash cloths and larger items including scarves, bags and cushion covers. It's a really nice book with lots of lovely pictures (of the projects in a beautiful shabby-chic white-washed home - one can dream!) and I am planning to make a number of them. I think this would make a lovely gift for yourself or a knitty friend. (Having learned from my previous experience with printed books, you can find a few pattern revisions here, which you may want to bookmark.)
Knitter's Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmerman
Whilst the first two books are full of lovely photography and contemporary patterns, this book - originally published the year I was born *gulp* - is black and white with hardly any photos at all. There is a commemorative edition which I believe includes colour pictures of the projects, but I don't have that one - this 'green' version is still in print and for sale alongside the other (at a lower price) and is just the way I like it. 

In my opinion the "old fashioned' way it's printed is a huge part of it's charm - something it has in abundance, along with warmth, humour and useful instruction.  I can't tell you how much I love dipping in and out of this book each month. In fact it lives on my bedside table and each time I pick it up feels like delving into a treasure. If you don't have a copy, you might like to put it on your list! 

We will be away for half term so the next Festive Gift Guide will be on Thursday 8th November, when I'll be reviewing the new Jordana Paige Craft Butler Tool and giving you the chance to win one of your own in the FGG Giveaway. Hope to see you then!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

WIPS and Books: New Things

KNITTING: The Lonely Tree Shawl by Sylvia Bo Bilvia in Araucania Nature Wool

Lacy patterns are not usually my thing, but when I spotted the (free) The Lonely Tree Shawl pattern on Sunday night, I had to make it.  On Monday I raided my stash and found only one suitable weight yarn in almost the right length - in fact it's a little short so I'll have to change the last pattern repeat or something, but it's almost enough... so I cast on. It's the first time I've used a charted knitting pattern (I used a chart for colour before but not for different stitches) and it is a piece of cake. In fact, as with crochet charts, I am finding it much easier than written instructions, but then I am a visual learner. It's 30% done according to the amount of yarn left, with 4 more rows of Chart B to finish and it feels as if it's whizzing off the 5.5mm needles. 

The 800m of Rowan Creative Focus pictured is earmarked for a cardigan, a part of my Year of Projects list, which I'm hoping to start today. Probably the Chevron Lace Cardigan by Milobo...
Source: Ravelry
... more lace, and I haven't attempted an adult sized crochet garment before, so it'll be another 'New Thing'. 

Our book club choice for this month is The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. I've heard wonderful things about this simple poignant tale and so far it's entirely living up to its reputation. I'll tell you more about it when it's finished, but for now will say that it is worth checking out if you're looking for something to read. 

Today's links are WIP Wednesday and Yarn Along for lots more WIPs and books.
I'll be back tomorrow with part 4 of the Festive Gift Guide. 
Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Snippets (of life): Autumn is so lovely

Grampy Glyn is the person I mostly credit for my love of nature (you may remember him from this post). He has always been a quiet man, but when he speaks it's usually with a twinkle in his eye and a grin. He's great with animals, especially dogs and horses, and despite having only one functional arm worked as a farrier. Of course, he is in his 80s and retired now - he had to retire not long after a troublesome stunt involving a fall from a very high ladder onto a very hard floor. But that's another story. 

When I was younger we spent many hours either walking or riding over the mountains around my grandparents' home. He knew all about the animals and trees and could tell which bird was in the canopy above from the song, or from a glimpse at an egg in a nest. He would usually have a Mars bar (for me) and a hipflask (for him) in his pocket to keep us going, and we'd spend hours in the woods looking at trees, animal trails, watching squirrels and rabbits and when I was older arguing about fox-hunting. (Which he did, for many reasons country folk understand and accept and which I was very unhappy about.) We'd return hours later to a mug of sweet tea and the smell of home-cooked stew which we'd eat in front of a coal fire hot enough to melt our faces, whilst leaving our backs freezing cold. 
One Autumn, when I must have been just 5 or 6, it was the turn of my class to present an assembly to the rest of the school. Being confident and clearly-spoken (the only benefit to having a deaf mother) I was given the job of reciting the poem, and Grampy helped me to memorise it. The poem was called "Autumn is so lovely" and he liked it so much that over 30 years later, he can still recite it. My memory is not so good, but I do recall a few lines... 
Shiny conkers now we find, 
In spiky cradles, softly lined, 
Summer's gone, but I don't mind
Autumn is so lovely.

Leaves are changing, yellow and brown, 
Chrysanthemum has come to town, 
On her head a golden crown, 
Autumn is so lovely.

There's another verse about the Harvest Moon having "a golden face" but I really can't remember it. I've looked on line but I can't seem to find it anywhere. 

Every day as I notice the trees and leaves I think that Autumn really is so lovely and it also makes me thankful that I still have two grandparents, in the autumn of their lives. We're going to see them next week and I really can't wait. 
Sunday, 21 October 2012

YoP Update #11: Knitted Teapot Cosy Ta-dah!

PATTERN: Teapot Cosy Wrap by Debbie Bliss, from the book 'Knits to Give'
YARN: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in Light Pink x 1 ball

It's been a very satisfying week for my Year of Projects. On Monday I finished that little blue ballet cardigan (blogged here). Yesterday I finally cast off the Teapot Cosy Wrap I started a few weeks ago, but which in fact took only two evening's work (approx 4-5 hours) - a really nice design from a great book, but watch out for those errors (see my project notes).

On Friday I also finished the crochet wrap I shared a few days ago but it's been such a busy day with the family here for lunch and the kids wanting to watch a film afterwards, I didn't manage to take any photos before it was dark. I'll  post pictures and the modification details later in the week. 

With three projects finished, I'd love to tell you that I'm going to get back to the other WIPs which are languishing, but the chances are I'll have cast on something else by the time you're reading this!
View the other posts on Ravelry.
Saturday, 20 October 2012

Something for the Weekend....IF you have an iPad!



I know there are a lot of Mollie Makes readers amongst you, so in case you missed the news, I thought I'd tell you about Gathered. It's a new weekly Digital Magazine from the people who make MM and at the moment, is available exclusively for  iPad download. The first 5 issues are free if you sign up for a subscription - you can unsubscribe if you don't like it, and provided it's before the the first payment is taken, you won't pay a thing, after that it's £2.99 a month. With this in mind, I downloaded issue 1 as soon as I spotted it. Here are my initial thoughts. 

Pros: Having tried a few iPad versions of different print magazines I have generally been disappointed but as this is designed specifically the iPad, it works EXACTLY how I wanted it to. There are videos, links take you directly to the related websites, you can click to buy things you see, and there is a lot of satisfying swipey action. The project templates can be easily printed out. The iPad 3 retina display screen makes the pictures pop and the clean fresh design look fabulous. I am sure the content will appeal to MM readers. The projects would fit in either magazine and the style and format are very similar, but this has a cleaner and more simple layout. 

Cons: It's not a problem for me, but I'm sure that those of you who have any other brand of tablet will see the iPad exclusivity as a downside, but I can fully understand the commercial reasons for this (you can read about it here). 

As an "Apple Fanboy" my gripes are that I don't have a £9.99p/m premium subscription to Spotify so I couldn't stream the soundtrack that had been put together to listen to while reading the magazine (but what a fab idea) and it doesn't seem possible to download the freebie iPad wallpaper without connecting to iTunes. This is an oversight in my mind - I never connect to iTunes as everything on the iPad is now designed to be done wirelessly. (Please, Gathered team, make it possible to save the next one to the camera roll, without needing iTunes). 

Neither of these are big issues, but as those were two great ideas and I couldn't access them it left me feeling I was missing out. And I hate to miss out, even if it's a freebie from a magazine I got for free *grin* 

Overview: It took no time at all to go through the entire magazine including all the videos. There are four sections: Favourite Things, People, Projects and Gifts. When you take out the cover, contact, credits, coming soon, subscription, and wallpaper freebie pages, there are just 12 pages of content. It left me wanting more, which I suppose is a very good thing for Gathered, although I'm not sure whether £1.49 a week for 12 pages would be considered good value when there are so many great craft blogs I can read for free. For now it's too soon to tell, so I look forward to reading the next 4 issues and will report back on it then. 
Friday, 19 October 2012

A Blue Ballerina Ta-dah!

PATTERN: Saffron by Elena Nodel 
YARN: Wendy Sorrento DK - 45% cotton/ 55% acrylic 
Project notes here

With only five minutes to spare, the second Saffron was finished in time for ballet. Little Miss is delighted with it - ruffles, ribbon, and a touch of pink - what's not to like?!? The biggest problem was getting a picture which wasn't blurry from all the twirling. Having used them together before I am confident in saying that both the pattern and the soft cotton/acrylic yarn are great for a 'girly' little girl who can be sensitive to wool, and work well together to produce a scrumptiously soft garment which I know will be well used.

There's another "almost FO" in my bag - the crochet wrap is done - so this weekend I'll be adding some embellishment and some edging - pop back for a peek (and the pattern mods to make it in child's size) on Sunday. In the meantime you can find the links for more finished objects here*. Today I'm heading out for a hair transformation and taking LM to a Pumpkin Party. Hope you have a lovely day too x

*I'm too early to give you the direct link, this week's post should be up soon :) 
Thursday, 18 October 2012

Festive Gift Guide Part 3: Kits

There are some lovely looking knitting and crochet kits around and in particular I was interested to take a closer look at The Knitting Book and The Crochet Book from Cath Kidston. I first spotted these in store about a year ago but resisted buying them because they seemed to be aimed at absolute novices. I was delighted to receive a review copy of each this year.
The tins include 6 x 20g balls of acrylic yarn, a pair of needles or a hook, and a compact book of instructions together with a pattern for either a crochet cushion cover or a knitted scarf. On first impressions this does indeed look perfect for a beginner, but the reviews on the Cath Kidston website include several complete novices who were very disappointed that the instructions were not detailed enough. This surprises me, because they look adequate to me - perhaps those reviewers are people who find it difficult to learn from written instructions? In fact, due to the size of the books, I was thinking they'd make good "project bag" reference guides for new knitters and crocheters. 

The books include the basics of holding yarn and hook/needles, how to start a project, the most used stitches and increasing/decreasing for knitting, how to cast off and how to join crochet blocks as well as some common problems and trouble-shooting. I was also pleased to see that both English and Continental knitting methods are described in the knitting guide! 
The yarn is very pretty but I found the quality a little disappointing - it's the type of acrylic it's possible to pick up very cheaply and if you read my Beginner's Tip post, you'll know this is something I warn against, as it can be more difficult to work with. I expected something nicer, especially as the brand isn't aimed at budget shoppers, but perhaps that's just me being pernickety. Some of the reviews also state that the yarn is insufficient to make the full length scarf or finish the whole cushion - with a total of 120g I'd say this is probable so it's another thing to bear in mind. The RRP for these kits is £20, but you can pick them up for less (eg £14 on Amazon) which represents better value. 

So who are these suitable for and do they make a good gift? In light of the reviews I'd say these might be best for people who have some previous experience, maybe they learned to knit or crochet when they were younger but haven't had any practice for some time and need a refresher etc. They certainly LOOK like lovely gifts - the presentation tins are nice. If you're reading this blog, chances are you already knit or crochet so if you're considering either as a gift for a novice, I think it would be better if you were to include some of your time teach them too. My favourite is the crochet kit, so that would be the one I'd buy (plus if there's not enough yarn it could easily be supplemented). 
There'll be more Festive Gift ideas and reviews next Thursday and you can catch 
up on the previous posts by clicking the image below. 


Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Two Wraps & A Very Important Book

CROCHET: Child's Wrap Waistcoat inspired by Wrapped
KNITTINGTea Cosy Wrap by Debbie Bliss 
READINGShadows at Stonewylde  by Kit Berry, and

So far, this week is a productive one. The girl's ballet cardigan is finished (I'll show you on Friday) and work began on a wrap/waistcoat for her, based on the adult version I introduced in last week's Festive Gift Guide. It is a quick and simple project and should be finished soon. The tea cosy wrap is also waiting to be resumed but I have been distracted by something I feel to be an incredibly important work and definitely worth sharing...

I've known of Gabrielle Palmer's book for some time, and the recent price reduction was the prompt I needed. It's billed as a "life-changing book" and I really think this is the case. This powerful and engaging read is not only about breastfeeding - it's about politics, business, corruption and the sad fact that nature and instincts are bad for business and have suffered accordingly. I'm not done with it yet, but so far it's raised feelings of anger, sadness, shock and also made me feel glad that I was pig-headed enough not to give into considerable pressure to artificially feed my own child by being undermined and doubted.

This third edition is fully revised and updated (sadly, attitudes have not changed much since the first edition in the 70s)  and is quite a challenging read - not  in the way it's written, it's actually very accessible  - but for the way it makes one think about one's own attitudes, and long-held beliefs. Despite breastfeeding for a total of almost 4 years myself, I have never considered myself a lactivist, but an advocate of free choice ('Why should I care how someone else feeds their kids as long as they DO feed them?'). Well, Palmer's exposition has made me consider that choice may not be as "free" as I perceived. I am still looking for the right words to formulate my thoughts on this (edit - my reply to the first comment below comes close), so at this point can say no more to you than I would recommend you read it, whether you are male or female, a parent or not and whatever your current opinion on the importance of breastfeeding.

At the time of writing, the Kindle edition is on sale for £1.99 in the UK (or for $3.21 at Amazon.com) compared with the paperback price of £7.99! I'll leave you with the official summary (and having read the first two books listed, I think if you liked those, you'll find this compelling):
As revealing as Freakonomics, shocking as Fast Food Nation and thought provoking as No LogoThe Politics of Breastfeeding exposes infant feeding as one of the most important public health issues of our time.
Every thirty seconds a baby dies from infections due to a lack of breastfeeding and the use of bottles, artificial milks and other risky products. In her powerful book Gabrielle Palmer describes how big business uses subtle techniques to pressure parents to use alternatives to breastmilk. The infant feeding product companies thirst for profit systematically undermines mothers confidence in their ability to breastfeed their babies.
An essential and inspirational eye-opener, The Politics of Breastfeeding challenges our complacency about how we feed our children and radically reappraises a subject which concerns not only mothers, but everyone: man or woman, parent or childless, old or young.
On Wednesdays I link with WIP Wednesdays and Yarn Along. Enjoy!

Edited - I should have used this opportunity to link you to my Customisable Knitted Boob pattern/recipe which is available in English and Portuguese. You can find it here

PS I'm tinkering a little with the blog layout at the moment.
If you come across anything strange, please do let me know. Thanks x
Sunday, 14 October 2012

YoP Update #10: Armless-ness and one of my balls is disintegrating

Saffron by Elena Nodel in Wendy Sorrento
Teapot Cozy Wrap by Debbie Bliss in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran (light pink) 

As evidenced in the picture, the light this morning is strangely orange and other-worldly. We had our first frost last night. It's truly Autumnal. It makes my decision to knit the girl's ballet cardigan before finishing the teapot cosy, the right one.  Since Wednesday's update the cardi now has most of one sleeve, all ends sewn in and ribbon threaded through (the latter at Little Miss' request and under her supervision). Ballet class is tomorrow at 4pm so I need to get to it. I love this pattern, and won't be stopping at two - luckily it goes up to teenage size so I can get plenty more out of it. As soon as it's done I'll get back to the cosy/cozy - the ball of cashmerino has suffered some kind of prolapse in my bag, and one thing I can't stand is a messy ball of wool. 

In other news, My Boy finally made it to karate grading (he missed the last one) and earned his yellow belt. He's very happy about it.....although I still think he looks nicer in red!
Today is a day for making use of some of our knits, getting outside and kicking leaves. But first another cuppa. Brrrrr, it doesn't half look chilly out there. 

View the other posts on Ravelry

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Festive Gift Guide Part 2: Gifts to Knit and Crochet in a single weekend

With just over ten weeks to go until Christmas, there is plenty of time to get making for your family and friends, so this week's selection is made up of some of my favourite patterns which could be made in a weekend, and what's more most of them are available free via Ravelry - leaving you more to spend on yarn! The link above each picture takes you to the source, while the images and captions (below) link to Pinterest, where you can re-pin to your own board and save the links for later. 

This gorgeous bag could be used to hold all sorts of lovely things: 
African Flower Hexagon Bag (based on a free pattern)

Source: ravelry.com via Sarah on Pinterest
Unisex and simply gorgeous: 
Source: purlbee.com via Sarah on Pinterest
For your favourite seamstress or tailor: 
Cute pincushion (from this free cactus pattern)
Source: ravelry.com via Sarah on Pinterest
Depending on colour and yarn this could be for anyone:

Unisex felt knit slipper pattern with several variations 
free from Pilgrim Purse blog
An adorable cap for adorable babes:
Norwegian Sweet Baby Cap by Gro on Ravelry (free pattern) 
Source: ravelry.com via Sarah on Pinterest
A super-quick chunky knit for your little ballerina: 

Perfect under boots (I need these!), or for dancers: 
Source: lionbrand.com via Sarah on Pinterest


This crochet wrap would be awesome gifted with a pretty shawl pin or brooch.
Free simple pattern from Two and Six Blog (including link to a knitted version)
Source: ravelry.com via Sarah on Pinterest
One of my own patterns: Cwtchy Cable Armwarmers (free) 
Unisex with the option of thumb-holes or none, and these also double as toasty kids' legwarmers:
Source: ravelry.com via Sarah on Pinterest
It's not a free pattern but this Owl Bag (pattern $6 on Etsy) is one of the 
most popular things I've ever posted to my Facebook page:

For someone simply fabulous: 
Big Herringbone Cowl free pattern from Purl Soho
Source: ravelry.com via Sarah on Pinterest
I have a couple of books (you know I love books!) that are great for gift inspiration and I feel are worth mentioning - of course they aren't free but represent good value as there is a lot in each one. If you're looking for some quick cute colourful crochet projects then there are lots to choose from in Cute and Easy Crochet by Nicky Trench, where you'll find cushion covers, bags, bunting and things that would suit girly girls and those who like all things pretty. The patterns are easy for beginners and many work up quickly so could make nice last-minute gifts, teacher gifts etc. 
If you need a broader range of knitted gifts, then Knits to Give by Debbie Bliss may be a good option - there are lots of different projects for Him, Her, Baby, Kids and the Home. I'm currently making a pattern from this book, and aside from the errata (which you can find here) and the fact that there are no charts (I really wish there were charts as I find them easier), the designs are really nice. 
I hope you've found a little inspiration here today. There'll be another Festive Gift Guide next Thursday and there's a lot more to come over the series including knitting notions, gadgets, crafting kits, books, ideas for children's gifts and a fantastic GIVEAWAY to wrap it all up. Hope to see you back soon!
Wednesday, 10 October 2012

WIPs and Books: Startitis

KNITTING: Teapot Cosy Wrap by Debbie Bliss in Cashmerino Aran
 &  another Saffron by Elena Nodel in Wendy Sorrento
READINGShadows at Stonewylde (Stonewylde 4) by Kit Berry
Crochet Workshop by Erika Knight

I had Startitis earlier in the week. On Sunday I spotted Debbie Bliss' cute  one-ball Teapot Cosy Wrap and had to cast on. Once I'd written the pattern out again to include the errata (too confusing with errors and no chart), I made lots of progress. The following day, when Little Miss was wearing an ugly fleece to her ballet class, I decided her needs were greater than the teapot's so I frogged the unfinishable ballet wrap and cast on another Saffron. It's different to the last one - this is the cardi version with longer sleeves and a ribbon tie waist. Just a couple of rows to go and it's ready for the frill. I almost lost the will to live on the last frill, but this time I have the incentive of needing it before her next class. 
Last week I mentioned that I was loving the third in the Stonewylde series and yet again, as soon as it was finished, the next was downloaded straight to my Kindle. In this continuation of the story, thirteen years have passed (don't worry, no spoilers) and it's great to see the character development during that time, especially as all of the previous books took place within the year the key characters were on the cusp of adulthood. The fifth and final instalment is due out later this month and I have a feeling that I'll have to keep going until I'm done. The author has promised that everything will be resolved then, and it's nice to have discovered the series in time to read it all at once - I hate waiting for sequels.

Crochet Workshop arrived at the weekend and I had great intentions of keeping it to review as part of the new "Festive Gift Guide" feature (Thursdays, until the end of November) but quite frankly, I can't put it down. The book offers a sound and well written intro to crochet, including all the basics, different stitches and standard motifs - so for all those knitters who regularly comment that they wish they could crochet, this one would be perfect for you! If you can already crochet, please don't be fooled, it's not just for beginners. The twenty patterns range from beginner to advanced, working from basic stitches, to intricate lace and freeform construction. There are also "Masterclass" sections with useful tips and techniques including beading, crocheting motifs together, how to arrange colours so that they work together, making yarn from fabric strips....
Clear diagrams, stitch library, basic motifs and charts to illustrate the patterns
I can already crochet, read patterns and follow charts, but I'm not terribly experienced and haven't made any particularly difficult things so far. For me, this book is absolutely spot on. Apart from the clutch bag, which isn't my style, I would happily make any or all of the patterns - and there are some real beauties.   The long mitts, fine necklace, colourful granny blanket and delicate shawl are quite high on my list of things I'd like to make, and there is also a most awesome (and quirky) oversized cardigan that I'd love to try. The only downside of the stunningly simple photography and styling is that I now want to go out and spend a fortune on beautiful neutral Rowan yarns, rather than using up my existing stash.

My mum, a knitter for over 40 years, spotted this in the Cwtch at the weekend and said the patterns are enough to make her learn to crochet. As it was just published a few months ago, not many of the designs are on Ravelry yet and you may not have seen it, but you can peek inside the book on Amazon. I think it's definitely worth a look and if I didn't already have it, it would be high on my Christmas list.

That's it from me. There are more WIPs and books here and here. Enjoy!
Tuesday, 9 October 2012

What's your RGR?

Source: NatalieDee.com
"In knitting, the word gauge is used both in hand knitting and machine knitting; the latter, technical abbreviation GG, refers to "Knitting Machines" fineness size. In both cases, the term refers to the number of stitches per inch, not the size of the finished garment. In both cases, the gauge is measured by counting the number of stitches (in hand knitting) or the number of needles (on a knitting machine bed) over several inches then dividing by the number of inches in the width of the sample."
- Wikipedia

I was recently re-reading the Yarn Harlot's book Knitting Rules! (very funny) and the chapter on gauge and swatching had me thinking - she says "you have to look at what your relative gauge risk (RGR) is and decide just how seriously you're going to take gauge, swatching and their attendant hysteria with each individual project." (p82)

As someone who knits lots of accessories, I don't often see the need to swatch or worry about gauge - as long as I like the 'fabric' of my scarf or shawl I don't really care if I knit to the same gauge/tension as the pattern. My RGR is therefore low on most projects. When making clothing items, they are most likely to be for the children, and I prefer to make things a bit bigger than necessary (to allow for rapid growth) and try them on as I go (they are generally top-down, one-piece) so again, it's not something that I worry about too much. I can easily increase or decrease where necessary. Low RGR again. Perhaps I'm a lazy knitter. 

Tell me, what do you like to knit and what are your personal RGR rules? 

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