Friday, 30 December 2011

Faffy things for Friday

Can it really be (Finished Object) Friday already?? D and I decided this week has somehow been compressed, because it seems about 2 days ago it was Friday and we were going to some parties. It's quite unsettling actually. So despite high hopes of showing you a finished tunic today, time compression and the knitting gods have conspired against me, and I have only a couple of crochet FOs of the kind that are popping up all over the place at the moment.

The first is a cover for the new (small) Kindle we gave my Mum for Christmas. 
YARN: Marble Chunky DK 
HOOK: 4mm - this produced a cushy fabric which didn't need lining. 
CONSTRUCTION: Starting with a chain of 19 (I think!) this was crocheted in one long piece and then slip stitched together at the sides to form the right sized pouch. The slip stich edging was continued along the flap with a little chain to form each button hole. 

The Kids each received a LeapPad Explorer and the case that was ordered for the pink one wasn't the right size,  so it seemed like a good opportunity to use up some more scraps of my least favourite cotton! 
YARN: Rico Creative Cotton Aran
HOOK: 4.5mm - this is the smallest I could go and still get the hook through with the whole strand of yarn on it (I've mentioned before that this is uber-splitty) so this really did need lining
LINING: fabric from Ikea 

CONSTRUCTION: the shape of the LeapPad Explorer is irregular - tapered slightly at both ends - so I wanted the sides to be more flexible than the Kindle cover and this is constructed in the round. The base (light blue) was started with a chain of 17 which I crocheted around with 4 sts into each end to make the corners, and then the pouch was continued in the round until it was big enough for the gadget. I then switched to rows for the flap. 

This is the first lining I've made for a crochet item due to the shape of the LeapPad, I decided on a lined strip with open sides rather than a pouch. The lining was cut to shape, then hemmed on the machine and then hand stitched into the cover around the flap and the front but not all the way down into the pouch. As with the Kindle cover, I finished off with a slip stitch edging - decreasing by one stitch on each side of the opening to account for the tapered content and making a little button-hole loop with a few chain stitches. 

I'd call these "faffy little things" especially the lined one - but it was surprisingly enjoyable to make them and those lined crochet bags on my Pinterest crochet board suddenly seem a whole lot more appealing! 

Ooops - it's almost time to go out and I'm not at all ready, so I'll get going, but I can't wait to see the FO's at Tami's later as I'm hoping for the Christmas gift reveals today!!! 

Have a great day xxxxx
Wednesday, 28 December 2011

A festive WIP & a new skill (finally!)

I knew I'd need something plain and relaxing to knit over the Christmas weekend when I'd be surrounded by noise and may have had a festive drink or two, so on Saturday morning I cast on another tunic for Little Miss (this time a bigger, longer version) using some 'bargain bucket' yarn I picked up at the Knitting & Stitching Show in her favourite colours - King Cole Inspire DK.  

Knitting these simple raglan garments is such a breeze I decided this would be the project to finally learn how to knit Continental style (and that the slubby uneven texture of the yarn would be forgiving of any mistakes!) I'm sure many of you were taught this way, but where I come from it's English style knitting - or "throwing" - all the way. That's what I saw all around me, and was taught as a child. 

My old career involved streamlining and improving processes, so it has bothered me that I naturally knit in the least efficient way since I first saw a video of Continental knitting. I tried to conquer this several months ago but kept automatically reverting to the way of knitting that my hands and brain were most used to and instead concentrated on learning to read patterns, to magic loop, to crochet..... In fact, crochet proved to be the key to this - holding and tensioning yarn in my left hand is now second nature. I haven't mastered the Continental purl stitch yet but that hasn't been required much for this garment, so I'll need to come up with another project for that. I'm completely convinced that this is the best way to do knit stitches as it's so efficient and quick and there are no unnecessary movements. Yep, I'm feeling very pleased about it. 

Well that's today's WIP Wednesday update. I do have plenty more to write about including lots of yarny gifts I received, a little FO I gave and my new year crafting resolutions so I'll be back with those soon. Now we are going to the local Farm Park for some fresh air and exercise. We need it! 

Have a great day! 
Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Christmas (with Batman)

My mum  and Batman
It's been a few days and several million calories since my last post so I thought it must be time to squeeze myself into the Cwtch for an update. How are you all doing? I hope you are relaxed and happy after the long weekend. What did you get up to?

Mum and my sister arrived on Christmas Eve and that marked the start of the festive celebrations for us!

As they'd promised in a note left on the playroom wall mid-week, 'The Elves' rang the doorbell and delivered parcels for the little ones before bedtime, a tradition that began last year. We didn't actually see them as they'd vanished before we answered it, but they left some lovely gifts for kids, who were then happily abed by 19:30....Unfortunately My Boy was still awake at 2:30! Every time I went in - to check whether Santa had filled up his stocking - he would sit bolt-upright and say "he hasn't been yet Mum, WHEN will he be here?" It turned into a very late night for me!* We were all up at 6:00!!!
There were times when we didn't honestly know who would be around for Christmas, as breast cancer and ill health have touched our family this year, and we lost D's Grandpa a few months ago too. As it turned out, we spent the day with both our mothers, our 3 sisters and the children's solitary teenage - and therefore inherently cool - cousin at D's mum's house. I have to say,  it was pretty much perfect. It was really good to spend the day relaxing together after such a trying year - we had lots of laughs, and naturally there were one or two tears for those who are no longer here.

Yesterday was spent at home. Toys, books, lunch, wine and dancing in our kitchen followed by an evening of Downton Abbey and knitting (YAY!). My sister and I sat up crafting, chatting and watching Dirty Dancing until midnight and she completed her first ever crochet Finished Object.
Other people's toys are SO much more interesting! 
I'll be honest, until recently this time of year wasn't always enjoyable. When I was single - living and working in London - it meant making the arduous trip back to Wales for just one or two days. After D and I met, it often involved spending the precious little time we had off work bundling ourselves and boxes of gifts into a tiny sports car, then spending hours in traffic to travel between both our families. (An attempt to keep everyone else happy and not to have to choose one over the other, that left us exhausted and usually arguing.) When I was pregnant with Little Miss I decided that we wouldn't be doing that any more. Christmas became about our little family. It felt totally right to put our children first and to make it a relaxing time for them. It's even better that we all managed to do that together this year. I have to say, this year was the nicest family Christmas yet.
I'll be back tomorrow to show you what I've been making!

*On Christmas eve I kept myself awake by reading some of the Yarn Harlot's latest book - Free-Range Knitter: The Yarn Harlot Writes Again. There are some fabulous snippets in it, although in my opinion it's not as interesting as Knitting Rules! which I read a while ago, as it's really just a series of observations about people Steph Pearl Mc-Phee knows and random stories that somehow involve yarn or knitting. 
This is the highlight so far:
Saturday, 24 December 2011

This moment: Calm before the storm...

There was dancing in the kitchen by 8am. 
The house is clean and tidy (relatively speaking). 
The fridge and cupboards are jam packed with goodies. 
A little green car is en route from Wales. 
The kids are tracking Santa

I'm sitting quietly, knitting and enjoying 5 minutes of peace - probably the last for a few days.
Wherever you are, and whatever you celebrate, I wish you a truly wonderful weekend.

Merry Christmas!
Thursday, 22 December 2011

Only 3 more sleeps!!!!!!

Yesterday I'd planned some painting activities to mark the Winter Solstice, intending to make some of these lovely handprint suns. My Boy had other ideas. He had decided to paint a Summer picture to remind the Winter how lovely it is with the sun shining and the flowers in bloom. His final painting isn't finished yet but he spent a lot of time planning it on my iPad, which how has about 17 variations on this theme saved on it, featuring various different flowers (this, obviously, is a rose)...
As I am sure is the case for parents everywhere, the level of excitement in our household is directly proportionate to the number of "sleeps"until Christmas. Today is the last normal day for us before various parties and the arrival of my family. I am not entirely prepared - lots more wrapping to do (I finished the last handmade gift yesterday), never-ending laundry, beds to change and a whole house to clean before Saturday morning.
My Boy's first tree decoration
I've been procrastinating. In the last couple of days I've finished reading our friend Deano's book Covenant and then read Fup and One Day on my Kindle - all brilliant reads!  It reminded me that I love reading at least as much as I love knitting, but it has been abandoned for the last few years, so for 2012 I am announcing *drumroll*...
Resolution #1: to learn to knit and read simultaneously. 
I have also been dipping into Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitter's Almanac this week and she recommends first practicing knitting with eyes closed which I shall begin after the holidays, maybe as part of my One a Day project?
Well it's time for lunch here and then the kids are off to Grandma's so I can crack on. 
Hope your preparations are going better than mine! 
Sunday, 18 December 2011

Lazy days

Aside from a Christmas Party this afternoon, it's been a very quiet and relaxing few days. The weather remained soggy and overcast, so we avoided the UK snow - there was a little on Friday but it didn't settle. However romantic snow at Christmas may seem, my mum and sister will be making the 4 hour drive to us at the end of the week and we all have to get to MIL's for lunch on Christmas Day - her house is quite inaccessible in snow or ice so we're hoping it'll stay away for the next 10 days. 
Much of our weekend has been spent cwtching, watching films (The Aristocats looks so dated now, but has lost none of it's charm), "croshaking" - that's what Little Miss calls it - and generally enjoying one another's company. After watching me make a pair of flowery mitts for one of his friends on Friday, My Boy put in a request of his own. We decided on stripes, and I hooked a pair for him yesterday. 
Inspiration came from a free pattern on one of my  Favourite Blogs  - The Green Dragonfly, with a few minor modifications to make them in the round, and add some shaping after the thumb hole.

Of course someone else has now requested a PINK pair, but she was easily distracted this morning with the latest Tiny Owl Knits design - a heartfelt ring! Yes, as soon as I saw the blogpost for this little Video-Knitalong (KAL) I made some for us both. They take hardly any time, or wool, and are great fun especially if you do actually knit along with the wonderfully kooky and charming Stephanie and her equally lovely cat. All you need to do is gather some 4ply 100% wool in two contrasting shades, your DPNs, small scissors and a needle and watch this video to see what to do with them...

I'll definitely make more - this is a great pattern for when you need a quick Ta-dah fix! I can also imagine some other little things using the same technique (napkin rings, bracelets....)

A very busy week ahead, but I do hope to see you all soon.
Bye for now
Friday, 16 December 2011

The worst "FO Friday" post yet

You know, I hate getting to Friday and not having a Finished Object to post in Tami's blog hop. You can perhaps imagine how it felt to have not one, but two FOs today that I haven't posted. Time to rectify that before I go to bed. The first is a gift, a cute pair of little crochet mitts which I'll photograph for another day. The other....well..... you can see for yourself why I didn't rush to post them earlier. 
PATTERNPlain Janes II with additions to make "owly slippers" 
YARN: Rico Creative Cotton
HOOK: 4.5mm - I think! 
(Ravelry project page is here)
It has been noted here many times before, but Little Miss actually can't keep still (or in shot) long enough for a decent photo of her/an item of her clothing to be taken, which makes these the three best pictures I took of her new slippers. 

In the interest of full disclosure I must tell you I absolutely hate the yarn. It's the most awful stuff to crochet with. I made my first crochet cushion covers with this back in June, and at the time thought maybe it was so hard to use because I was a total novice. Now that I have more experience and several other (cheery) crochet projects under my belt, I can confirm that it's still a nightmare to use - just far too splitty and hard work. I am desperately trying to use the scraps up for any little projects that come along, but it's like the yarn version of the Magic Porridge Pot, no matter how much I use there is more in the basket, and I am sure it's looking at me in an accusatory way *shudder* 

So that's it for my projects but I'd like to say thanks for all the comments and stories that were shared about career changes after my post on Tuesday. And also a 'hello & welcome' to new followers - the  new Twitter seems to have unearthed quite a lot of followers (here and there) and I've found some other lovely Tweeps and crafty blogs too - including this one and this useful one with a new knitting stitch and demo video each week. If you're on Twitter, please come and say hello. 

Before I sign off I'll take a wild guess that if you read my blog you like blogs and knitting, and if you like blogs and knitting, I'm sure you must already be reading the Yarn Harlot. Just in case you're not - presumably because you've only just landed on the planet are searching blogs alphabetically - I really would urge you to check it out. I'm constantly in stitches (pardon the pun) reading Steph Pearl McPhee's knitty antics and ramblings, and this week there have been some classics... oh, and I'm so glad I already have an iPad, or I would certainly NEED one this Christmas! Hmmm, on second thoughts,  maybe you should avoid it if you don't have one and already asked Santa for something else...? 

Anyway, it's past my snuggle-in-bed-with-Kindle time so I'll bid you farewell for now. 
Nos da i chi gyd (night night)
PS I'm not sure what's happening with the formatting tonight - blame Blogger not lack of attention. 
Wednesday, 14 December 2011

A project round-up

*Singing* Ding dong merrily on high... oh hello! Nice to see you today, come on in and grab a mince pie. This is probably my last WIP Wednesday of the year so it's time for a little round up and a delve into the project basket to see what's there!

The little knitting I did at the weekend was on my Chele Cardigan. I'm onto the body now after lengthening the sleeves to compensate for the architectural yarn, and hopefully there will be time to get on with this over Christmas as it's an easy knit - at least until the main section (sleeve-body-sleeve in one piece) is done. 

Then there's the Leisa Loop which I haven't touched for ages but is so soft and lovely, I really must! 
And of course the Beekeeper's Quilt which will probably take until next Christmas! 120 'puffs and counting...

In addition, I appear to have "hidden" the Sitting Room Circle Throw (which has been unintentionally abandoned), a birdy decoration and an almost-finished pair of crochet slippers, but I forgot about all of those until I'd finished taking pics! Yikes - quite a lot to keep me out of trouble! On that note, I'm going to go and make a plan for tackling them all. 

Before I go, I'd like to wish everyone visiting, and especially those from Tami's Amis who I may not "see" again this year, a VERY happy Christmas and massive thank you for your visits and lovely comments this year. It's been an absolute pleasure to get to meet you all and I'm really looking forward to seeing your projects in 2012 too! So from me...

Of course, I'll still be blogging over the festive period, and I'd love for you to visit before the new year (you are welcome to subscribe to stay up to date with any posts in the meantime) although I won't promise you lots of knitty updates in the next few weeks. 

Oh and one last thing - you may have already seen it if you follow CFTC on Facebook or Twitter, but here's a peek at something else in progress - an image re-vamp which will be taking place for the new year.  

We are all looking forward to carols and MORE mince pies at the school this evening (please send us some fine weather vibes as it's outdoors!) and after that, it really will be Christmas, won't it!?

Sending much love and wishes for lots of crafty goodness your way, 
Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Contemplation & the Tuesday Tally

I'm so happy to be here on this sunny morning, after horrible storms last night (and more severe weather predicted). I have been known, on occasion, to comment that our recently-built house lacks character, but last night as the winds were howling outside I felt so relieved that we were safe and warm and not worried about tiles flying off or water coming in. There's a lot to be said for that, and I appreciate my lovely home even more today as a result. 

As it's Tuesday, there's a chance you're visiting from Carole's One A Day group to see how the 'puffs are coming along. I'm pleased to report that I have indeed made one each day this week. Here they are... 
Not the most exciting colours ever, but necessary as there is far too much pink and purple at the moment (I couldn't resist ONE in 'my colours' last night!). So my project total to date is:

TALLY: 120 Hexipuffs
YARNS: all pictured 'puffs are made with Knitting Goddess Mini-skeins 

It is necessary to point out they get squished a lot in this house - as you can see by the orange one in the bottom row, and they should ideally be reshaped before taking photos - oops! :) 

Contemplating life's big questions
As the year draws to a close, I've been looking over our photos and thinking how much things have changed. The children have grown up so much this year, D has thrown himself wholeheartedly into pursuing his ambitions, my Mum is relocating to live closer to us... a lot of change for our family. 

I'm making some notes of the things I'd like to achieve (or work towards) next year. Little Miss will be starting pre-school in February. Only for a few hours a week to start with, but this will mark a transitional phase for me - I've had babies/children at home full time for 5.5 years so it'll be very strange to have some hours to myself and to start thinking about any possible future career options - a return to the old one would not be possible or desirable, so I'm back to the drawing board. I'd be really interested to hear from anyone who started a second and completely different career after children. If that's you, I'd love to hear your experiences (either in the comments or by email if you prefer). 

While my little companion is asleep, I'll contemplate some more over a cuppa! 

Thanks for popping in today, hope to see you again soon.
Monday, 12 December 2011

Come on over....

... to Natural Mamas Blog. I've just blogged there about loving more than one child.  Here's a snippet.... 

When I was expecting my second child, I had this terrible fear that I couldn’t possibly love another child the way I loved my son - it often kept me awake and in tears at night. Towards the end of my pregnancy I became obsessed with this overwhelming worry that I wouldn’t be able to love them both the same, and the guilt that I would ruin My Boy’s life and our relationship that was so strong after 2 years and 9 months in our own little bubble. 
(Click the image to read more) 
To celebrate Natural Mamas 3rd birthday this month you can be in with a chance win a Connecta Baby Carrier by entering the poetry competition. These are great carriers for use on your front or back with only a very tiny learning curve to use them, and they are very dad-friendly too! We've had a few different designs over the last few years.


Hope to see you there - please do leave a comment if you pop over! 

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Snippets (of life): Tree Day...NOW I feel festive!

My Boy was up before 6 and dressed soon after - he knew today was the day. Tree Day. He tried out a new "look" while impatiently waiting for everyone else to get ready - originally it consisted of only a sleeveless vest/singlet, a pair of jeans pushed up to the knee, and long "skeleton" socks, but in the end just a pair of lens-less Arthur Sleep glasses remained. 
He wore them for most of the day.

It's traditional for "the boys" to get the tree. This year a combination of interesting previous tree choices, and Little Miss not wanting to be left out meant it became a family occasion for the first time, which was lovely.
'Deal of the day' goes to a festive fireguard which we picked up for £10 - a total bargain compared to many of the individual decorations which were priced about the same. My Boy said we must make sure it's removed on 24th, or Santa won't be able to get down the chimney. Good point. 
Of course the fun bit was getting all our decorations out - rediscovering favourites, and remembering where and when they were acquired - some are a decade old from the 1st Christmas D and I lived together in a little matchbox house, while others came from Aunty Lisa's creative gift packaging last year. 

Little Miss Fusspot took charge of the kids' tree - of course she went for the gaudy over the carefully selected or handmade items. That's precisely why they have their own tree. 
By the time it was finished it was far too dark to take any clear photos (all my pics are taken with my iPhone 4's camera which is limiting but also means I always have a camera to hand) but I can confirm it's looking REALLY cozy in the sitting room this evening- a shame really , as I'm off to a PARTY tonight. 

Are you having a lovely festive weekend? I do hope so! 
Friday, 9 December 2011

FO Friday: A bear.... necessity?

Hello all.  I'm so happy that it's Friday! How about you? This weekend we get to put up our Christmas tree - I'm quite excited about this, although I am sure that's probably because I've forgotten the realities of dressing a tree with a team of "helpers". 

We always have 'The' tree in the sitting room but last year I also got a mini artificial one for the children so they could add their own little decorations and trinkets without fear of prickles, or the whole thing crashing down on them,  so when I saw this pattern on Little Cotton Rabbits blog I knew I had to make one for them - they do love things that have been made at home.

With a standard sized crayon for scale. 
As usual, my sewing let me down, and her little eyes are a bit too close together, but I think she's quite cute anyway (if a little portly). She'll be in her new home soon and I'll be sure to post some pictures over the weekend. 

(Edited to add: I should have mentioned that due to the 2.5mm needles and 4 ply yarn, this actually took a couple of hours to make. If you're planning to make one, don't be fooled by the minuscule size and keep your kids hanging around waiting for it, wait until they are in bed!!)

I have a load of things to get done today, so it's time to crack on. As usual, I'm joining in with Tami's Amis, and there's lots more to read there. 

I do wish you all a wonderful weekend - watch out for that full moon tomorrow! 
Thursday, 8 December 2011

A better-late-than-never quickie!

(i) 08:15 - walking to school 
(ii) 14:55 - on the way to collect from school... under the moon
(iii) 15:55 - sunset from the traffic jam
(iv) 16:19 - almost dark

The Moon was incredible last night - huge and bright and clear. I read that it's going to be an "emotional full moon" this month, which is on Saturday. I'm not quite sure what that means... 

Anyway, yesterday passed SO quickly it was pitch black before I'd even thought about a WIP Wednesday post never mind taken any photos - and a progress post without pics means very little. So here, a day late, the 'midweek' update... 

Chele probably doesn't look terribly different to last week. I was making good progress on it but on Saturday night, when I was knitting the body, decided that it would be better if one or two additional sections were added to the arm. As it's a one-piece construction, this meant ripping out the body to get back to the sleeve. And since then, I'll admit that I haven't really wanted to look at it *face of shame* It's nice easy knitting, so maybe over the weekend... when we're relaxing. 

But oh! Just look at those lovely sunny pineapple sorbet Hexipuffs! After my recent binge last post, I couldn't wait to get on with the "missing colours" and these seem to have jumped off the needles over the last couple of evenings! 

Tonight it's going to be a pizza with the littlies and then an evening alone with some chocolate and a glass of vino, so I'm hoping to get a few more bits and pieces done in time for a Friday Ta-dah. 

Hope you're having a productive week! 
Tuesday, 6 December 2011

One A Day: An addict's binge!

I tried. I REALLY tried. But as much as I have other things on my list that I should make/finish before Christmas and the cold set in, I just couldn't stay away from the Hexipuffs. As a result, there was a 'puffing frenzy on Sunday and Monday evenings and I made.... seven. So here is my "Not Really One A Day" update:

 TALLY: 113 Hexipuffs
YARNS: Various sock yarns inc Nimu Torva, 
Knitting Goddess Mini-skeins, Noro Kureyon Sock, Regia and some Patons Dreamtime 4ply 

And because Little Miss and I haven't played with (counted/ named all the colours) and photographed them for some time, and because falling off a wagon usually involves some sort of binge - here's mine in the form of far too many pictures!

Do you see there are lots of colours still missing? Not for long :)
Click to view the other OaD updates
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