Friday, 30 March 2012

FO Friday: It's pink and feathery!

We had a busy day yesterday, and look what we made! 
It's not my usual 'style' but it's pink and gaudy so someone is very happy with it - I just hope it lasts until this afternoon's Easter Party (I had to persuade her not to wear it out yesterday afternoon!) 

Had I been a bit more organised and planned in advance, I could have made the rabbits, and the eggs and a few more flowers, but for an Easter-bonnet-novice I'm quite happy with it. Hopefully I'll get some outdoor action pictures at the Easter egg hunt later today. I'll be back to check out the other FOs at Tami's Amis and Natural Suburbia later tonight too. 
Hope you all have a lovely Friday. 
Wednesday, 28 March 2012

WIP Wednesday: Something different

Hello dear Regulars, WIPers and Yarn Along-ers!

If you saw yesterday's "Bodging It" post, you'll have seen the most up to date photo of my Bella Wrap which is now about 60% done after my bodging. (If you haven't seen the post and have ever wondered how to "fix" a mistake in Moss Stitch, you may like to take a look.)

To be honest, a few evenings of knitting would have it finished but I just don't seem to have the energy. It's as if I've completely run out of steam. Maybe I still haven't fully recovered from my operation, or perhaps it's the unseasonably hot weather and being outdoors more but I'm struggling to stay awake much after 21:00 most nights, never mind being able to concentrate on anything creative. 

Regardless, today sees a new Work In Planning (it's not quite in progress yet - we need ribbons before we start and that will involve another trip out). I've mentioned before that I'm not a big one for Easter as it has no religious significance for me, but the pre-school is having a party and Easter Bonnet parade on Friday - Little Miss is very excited and can't wait to get making.  She's very much a 'hat girl' and loves cute/fluffy/pretty things, so this just about ticks all her boxes. 
I'll be back with the FO on Friday! 

Last Wednesday I was reading Catching Fire (Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins which I finished soon after and then I quickly went on to complete the trilogy with Mockingjay. I have to say I did enjoy them a lot although I felt the second instalment was the weakest. Mockingjay was a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy and I've rated it 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. There was a bit of mild gore in the final book, more so than the first two, but I like the way the author has written the more harrowing scenes for the young adult audience. When I think of the Stephen King books I read as a teen these are much more tame.
On my Kindle at the moment is Super Sad True Love Story by Gary ShteyngartThis was one of the 99p Kindle Daily Deals and had good reviews so I thought it worth a go. I'm 10% of the way through and so far it's a funny satirical read, based on the diary of an older man and the electronic correspondance of a younger woman he meets as he's about to leave Rome to return to a futuristic United States on the verge of collapse.   I'll let you know how it turns out. (I found a waterproof gadget cover in Poundland today so I'm looking forward to some bath time reading this week!) 
Ribbon-shopping is upon us, so I'll bid you farewell for now xxxxx
Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Bodging it! (aka "how I hid a mistake in Moss Stitch")

Last night I posted a knitting photo to Instagram. After I posted it I did a double take....
....and my heart immediately sank!
You see it? A mistake in the Moss Stitch waaaay back at the start of my Bella Wrap! *sob* 

I can't believe I didn't spot this before putting it right would involve undoing over half of the wrap - this sort of thing annoys the heck out of me. 

After a brief time spent pondering, I decided two things: 
1 - I have no intention of undoing this right back to the beginning, and  
2 - all that's really missing is a loop of yarn at the front in place of the missing purl.

A loop is easy to replicate, right? You just thread some yarn through and sew in the ends! 
It's not perfect, but I think it's good enough to not be noticeable when worn. 
What do you think? 

PS If you should spot any OTHER errors, please don't tell me!!!!!!!!! 
Monday, 26 March 2012

Snippets (of life): Springing

What an amazing weekend we had here - absolutely stunning weather for this time of year (over 20C) and Spring has certainly sprung. It's glorious outside after a long winter!

In place of anything vaguely related to crafting, here's a flavour of the last few days. 
Our beautiful Magnolia tree is in full bloom - this was taken at dusk one day last week
Lunch in the pub garden 
My Boy is still drawing all the time - can you spot all the different activities in this one? 
 and SOMEONE has been at the biscuit tin!!! 
Today was Little Miss' school trip - we went to a(nother) farm for the day. We live in Sussex which is predominantly a rural county and there is no shortage of farms here. This must get the prize for worst joke of the day...
Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Some reading and a bit of knitting

Happy Wednesday! If you read yesterday's post, you'll know that it's been busy here since Friday - that's when my Mum completed on the sale of her house in Wales and relocated 170 miles to our village where she's bought a bijou little apartment within one mile of our house. It's very exciting to see her transforming it into her new home, and as she's at work during the day (yes, she got a great job here too!) it's been up to Little Miss and I to be there for tradesmen and deliveries. This has left very little opportunity for knitting, but thanks to the Kindle in my handbag, it's meant I've managed some reading here and there! 
YARN: R&B Thick Wool - 100% wool 
(70% Exmoor Blueface/30% Blueface Leicester)
NEEDLES: 10mm Addi circulars
READING: Catching Fire (Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins 
I started the Bella Wrap on Thursday and made quick progress with the huge needles and yarn, but haven't picked any knitting up for several days now and I really need to get back to it. I mentioned in the Continental Knitting post that I hadn't had the chance to practice long rows of Continental Purl yet, but this is the project to change that, and I'm already much more proficient. It's a lovely simple pattern with enough interest not to be boring, but I've had to use a pencil as a cable needle due to the immense size of the stitches! 

Last Wednesday I was about to read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  It was finished it in no time, and I'm now 84% of the way through the second part of the trilogy. I mentioned some reservations about these books (not such an original idea, not sure about the subject matter etc), and had resisted the hype, but I'm really glad I listened to the many recommendations to read it. Aimed at a younger audience this is no gore although there is a lot of excitement and action, not to mention the allegory. At the end of the first book the author talks about her motivation for writing this story - she was watching TV and on one channel there were young people playing a gameshow while on another there was footage of a war involving youngsters. It's entertaining and interesting. D and I will be making the most of our new "babysitter" to see the film of the first book at the cinema next week - another benefit of having my mum so close! 

I'm joining in with Tami and Ginny today for WIP Wednesday and the Yarn Along, if you'd like to see more WIPs and books, check out the links. 

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

While I was away...

....Mum and I painted her new home. I broke all my nails and ended up with a blistered claw for a hand.
Around 60 hooks were removed from the walls (!!!) 
 All new carpets were fitted. The furniture arrived from Wales - today, it's still in boxes! 

Yep,  my Mum has finally officially RELOCATED.
We're exhausted and happy. 
Be back soon!
Friday, 16 March 2012


... to Heather from Knitting up the North on winning the final prize in the blogiversary giveaway. As soon as I have your address I'll be sending out your kit!
It's been so much fun sharing the various prizes with you all, and I'd like to thank EVERYONE who took part - I wish I could give everyone a prize. Also a huge thanks to the sponsors - Nimu Yarns, Tiny Owl Knits and The Knitting Goddess.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

The best (knitting) thing I ever did.... {The Continental Knitting post}

My journey to becoming a 'Continental knitter' has already been documented (here and here) but I feel it's time for an entire post. Like the majority of UK knitters, I was brought up with English Knitting, also known as "throwing" as the working yarn is thrown over the needle with the right hand. It's not a very efficient method and requires a lot of hand movement per stitch.

What is Continental Knitting? The Wikipedia definition says:
Knitting with the yarn in one's left hand is commonly referred to as Continental knittingGerman knittingEuropean knitting, or left-hand knitting. Unlike English knitting, the yarn is held in the left hand; the motion of bringing the yarn forward with a needle held in the other hand is thus sometimes known as picking. Continental knitting is preferred by professional hand-knitters, as it is the more efficient method, requiring the shortest number of specific hand-motions per stitch.Continental-style knitting, being associated with Germany, fell out of favour in English-speaking countries during World War II; its reintroduction in the United States is often credited to Elizabeth Zimmerman.
I was first inspired to learn a new method when I saw a knitting video by Designer Emma Fassio
When I first saw Emma's knitting I knew I had to learn to knit Continental - with 2 demanding children  I have a limited time to knit each day, and it made perfect sense that I should use the most efficient method to maximise my results. I set about learning. 

How to learn to knit Continental:
The Tunic
If you don't have an able and willing knitter to teach you, never fear as there are LOTS of video tutorials to watch for technique. They are free and easy to find. Here are a few that I used: 
If you don't crochet, then this "Knit with Judy" video on holding the yarn in the left hand may also be useful. If you crochet, you will probably be used to holding and tensioning the yarn in the left hand.

After watching some videos, I found the most effective way to learn was to get on with it, so over Christmas I started the "Learn to knit Continental tunic" for Little Miss. The tension was all over the place (a forgiving yarn helped to disguise that... a bit!) but by the time I cast off, it was second nature to pick the yarn up with the left hand for knit stitches. 

Purling has taken a little longer - mainly because I knit in the round wherever possible and so I haven't made anything using lots of purl stitches in the last few months. For the odd long row of purl, I'm probably faster using my natural English technique, but I'm working on it. 
Extremes - from 3mm to 10mm needles! 
The benefits? 
Yesterday, I was knitting two different projects and both made me appreciate taking the time to learn this. 

Firstly the  Bunty Mitts which require 2 colours at a time. They were an absolute doddle, using one hand for each colour then knitting one colour English style and one Continental at any time. It makes the rows with fairly even colour distribution easier and so much faster than switching over from one yarn to the other with the right hand. For the rows that require the yarn to be carried across a number of stitches, I'm switching the working yarn from one hand to the other as a way of naturally wrapping it over the second yarn. (That makes more sense in my head than in words.)

Last night I cast on the Bella Wrap from Ruth & Belinda (you may remember I met them at Unravel). The border uses Moss Stitch/Seed Stitch and despite using unfamiliar massive (10mm) needles it was so much easier to knit this stitch continental. I hated ribbing or Moss stitch before, but it was great!

There seem to be some other unexpected benefits to learning to use my left hand. I'm suddenly much more capable with that hand in everyday life. It was really only ever used to display my wedding ring and stop my watch from falling off until I learned to crochet, but now I can thread tiny needles with it, knot with it, and often find things like saucepan handles and the kettle the "wrong" way around, because I'm doing more with my left hand. 

The point of this post is really to encourage anyone who is curious about this method to give it a go. It feels a little strange at first if you've always used your right hand, but it is definitely worth the effort.  

If you do give it a try, let me know how you get on - either here or on Facebook
Wednesday, 14 March 2012

WIP Wednesday/Yarn Along and some crafty reminders

Before I get onto my WIPs, I'd like to mention the lovely Easter craft along hosted over at Suzanne's blog and also  to remind you that there are just a few days left to enter my final Blogiversary Giveaway sponsored by The Knitting Goddess and Tiny Owl Knits. I have been astounded by the number of entries so far and for the lovely comments left. Thank you all! 
There has not been much knitting. 
The little bit of knitting I've managed has been full of colour, texture and pattern....
YARNS: EasyKnits Splendor in Flamingo (50% superwash Merino/50% silk)
& Noro Silk Garden Sock in S304 (40% Lambswool/25% Silk/ 25%Nylon/10%Kid Mohair)
YARN KIT from Skein Queen

I finished last week's book, The Fourth Awakening, on Monday. It was a bit of an odd book - you can read my thoughts on it on my Goodreads page. Last night, despite having several things queued on my Kindle, I started reading a sample of The Hunger Games. I've had so many recommendations for this series, and despite my initial reservations that it would be The Running Man for kids, enjoyed the first few pages - it's likely that I'll download it and continue reading it next.  

I'm linking in with TamiGinny and Nicole today and looking forward to seeing what everyone else is making and reading!
Sunday, 11 March 2012

Snippets (of life): this week in pictures

What a week! On Monday everyone was seemed back to health and back to school/pre-school. After being a nursemaid for a week, I rewarded myself with a bit of knitting during the couple of hours I had alone. Good job, because later that day, Little Miss was clearly still not right - lethargic, not eating and not wanting to move from me. "Babywearing" (is that term still applicable if your baby is 35 months old?) to the rescue. 

Tuesday was much more of the same, brightened only by the first glorious signs of Spring. 

By Wednesday, D was ill too and he really doesn't "do" ill. He ALWAYS works. This is some serious bug! 

Since Thursday our hallway has mostly been a "whole wide city". That was also the day a huge flock of birds put on an amazing fly-by (my iPhone wasn't fast enough to capture it all).  'Nanna' finished knitting My Boy's jumper.

By Friday evening, with D still ill in bed, Little Miss still not moving more than 2m from my side without a tantrum (completely unlike her, yet a trip to the Doctor showed there is nothing obviously wrong now) and mum and I totally exhausted, we resorted to wine and chocolate cakes....which I didn't even get to enjoy before LM had yet another melt-down and I fell asleep comforting her! 

Yesterday the weather was glorious - more like Summer than early-Spring. Mum & I headed to the farm park with the kids for some fresh air and sunshine. It should have been medicinal, but you can see from the picture that MB started going downhill again and by the evening was running another temperature - he's not well today *sob*

I find weeks like this to be incredibly trying. Not only because it's so hard to see the people you love being so ill and out-of-character but it's so completely exhausting, and there is no respite. I am no Florence Nightingale.  This is the second week I've had a feeling of ineffectiveness when little is done around the house, routines go out of the window, and there is no time for the things that I need to 'ground' me (see this post for my thoughts on knitting as meditation). It's a real challenge. 

Yesterday, with my mum (thankfully! What would I do without her, at the moment?) taking care of the household, I got to sit and knit *long breath out* - I couldn't resist casting on Ella Austin's Bunty Mitts from the current edition (issue 6) of Knit Now magazine with the yarn kit from Skein Queen.

It's my first colour-work project and the first time knitting from a chart so it should be interesting! I'll keep you posted with their progress. If you're following my Instagram feed there'll be more pics to come.
Hope you're having a much better week x
Friday, 9 March 2012

I was determined... have a Finished Object this week so I'd have something to show for a whole week passing. 

So here we are...
YARN: Unknown mini-skein from my hexipuff stash 
NEEDLES: 3.25mm DPNs

If you're wondering what I'll do with it, check out my Spring/Easter Pinterest board for clues.

Happy weekend!

PS Check out the final blogiversary giveaway - there's one week to enter!

Edited: I'm linking in with Suzanne's Crafty Easter party! 

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Very little progress

There are times when projects seem to fly off the needles. Sadly life has been conspiring against any and all plans this week and made hardly any progress had been made at all (on anything!) leaving me exhausted (from the life things) and a tad disheartened about my crafting. 
YARNS: EasyKnits Splendor in Flamingo (50% superwash Merino/50% silk)
& Noro Silk Garden Sock in S304 (40% Lambswool/25% Silk/ 25%Nylon/10%Kid Mohair)
NEEDLES: 3.5mm (smaller than the pattern)

After finishing last week's lighthearted whodunnit, I finally succumbed to a book Amazon has been recommending to me for some time (based on previous purchases, I'm guessing) which seems to be a mystery/thriller based around spiritual enlightenment. It's The Fourth Awakening by Rod Pennington and Jeffrey A Martin, the first in a series of novels. Having only read a small number of chapters, I'm not sure what to make of it yet, but the blurb sounds interesting: 
"On one level it is a straightforward suspense story with plenty of action, a healthy dose of humor and a pinch of sexual tension. On another it is a spiritual quest by a remarkable woman who meets an enlightened man the likes of which have never been seen in fiction before."
As usual, I'm joining Tami and Ginny today. If you're visiting for the first time this week, you may like to check out my final Blogiversary Giveaway post from yesterday (I can't quite believe the number of entries already - it certainly seems to have hit the spot!) xxxx

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Hexilove! (The final blogiversary giveaway....)

Over the last year of blogging, the project I've shared the most has undoubtedly been the Beekeeper's Quilt (probably because after starting it in August, it is still only about 25% done!!!) There is something about those smooshy puffs of loveliness which is irresistible to both Little Miss and myself, and counting them out,  rearranging the colours and generally playing with them is as much fun as knitting them! 
Project notes on Ravelry can be found here
I'm up to 140 at the moment, so still a long way to go before there's enough for a quilt, but it'll almost be a shame to attach them together when they are finished - there's so much enjoyment to be had from delving one's hand into a basket full! 

When planning the final blogiversary giveaway, it seemed only right that it should be something to do with this project. Thanks to the generosity of Joy at The Knitting Goddess and Stephanie Dosen of Tiny Owl Knits I'm pleased to announce the contents of the final giveaway:
  • a copy of the Beekeeper's Quilt pattern (paper and electronic)
  • a set of 4 x 3.25mm DPNs (I make my hexipuffs using this size, which is slightly smaller than the pattern) 
  • a set of gorgeous Knitting Goddess mini-skeins 
  • some toy filling to get you started
  • all presented in a (dubiously-sewn) bag which I made for the giveaway using vintage fabric

To be in with a chance to win this prize, simply leave a comment on this post before noon (GMT) on Friday 16th  MARCH!!! ((whoops - the earlier date was a typo!)).
 I'm happy to post internationally. Good luck!
Friday, 2 March 2012

While we were snuggling.... (randomness)

HAPPY FRIDAY! To celebrate the weekend, and a general return to health, I decided to share some of the things I've been doing this week. (This post reflects the fact I've spent most of the week snuggling poorly kids and browsing the internet on my iPhone to escape the bazillionth re-run of Ben & Holly.)

Every so often I come across a blogger whose style I love so much I get quite excited. This happened last night when I was clicking links from Pinterest.  I can't quite believe that I haven't been following this blog until now as it's exactly to my taste! If you like crochet, nature, beautiful fabrics and lovely photos, you might like to grab a cuppa and put your feet up for the next half hour while you take a browse around Serendipity Patch. I just love Debbie's work, and am looking forward to reading more. 

Since the notice about Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, I have also rediscovered Eskimimi Makes. This is a blog full of fabulous knitting projects which are beautifully photographed and presented with the minimum of fuss. You may like to take a look at these awesome rainbow socks and Eskimimi's other projects as well as her useful tutorials on photographing your work.  I am also wondering if I need to make myself some of these DIY Sock Blockers *grin*

Oh and if you missed the KCBW post, here's the launch info/signup link.

At least a year after installing the App, I have also signed up to Instagram this week - can you tell I have been bored? I haven't posted many photos there yet myself but I have discovered where some of my favourite crafters hang out when they are not blogging!!!!!!!   
I didn't really 'get' this App, but now I'm thinking of it as a kind of visual Twitter (which I love) so I'll give it a go. If you are on Instagram and would like a follow, please add your username to the comments on this post so I can find you. You should be able to find me, my user name is @craftsfromthecwtch.

Last night I also came across another addictive app called Draw Something (the link is to the free version, but there's another ad-free version). You play with someone else to guess each other's drawings from letter tiles, a bit like Pictionary - if you fancy a game, my username is SairlyD!

Well, that's a fair representation of my unproductive week and the lengths I'll go to for entertainment when I can't make something. I'm hoping for better things this weekend. Maybe a little something with this.... 
And some more of this....
Ravelry project page here
Wishing you all a fabulous weekend
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DISCLAIMER: Crafts from the Cwtch is part of the Deramores, Craftsy, Etsy, Creativebug and Amazon Affiliate programmes and works with a few carefully selected sponsors. Where posts or projects are sponsored, the opinions will always be entirely my own. You can find out more about affiliate links and blog sponsorship here.

Hello and welcome. If it's your first visit 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 you may also like the CftC pages on Ravelry, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Etsy. I hope you enjoy your visit! Sarah

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