Thursday, 28 February 2013

Next Step Sock Knitalong in Review

I can hardly believe that we set out on this 'next step' journey a mere six weeks ago, because it feels like I've been knitting 2 at a time socks forever... and I mean FOREVER. The reason for such a late post today is that I was still knitting D's Never-ending socks until lunchtime, when I would normally have written my post, so I had to wait until the kids were in bed. Anyway, here they are - finally (unwashed and unblocked!)...
NSSkal - D's never-ending socks
These are not quite perfect, and I would have preferred it if the stripes were matching, but D says that they are the most comfortable socks he has ever tried on and couldn't believe how well they fit (he is a serial sock spoiler due to these large feet, which I hasten to add are perfectly in proportion for such a tall man, and no - he's not a hobbit as was suggested on Instagram when I posted the FO pic!). He is already hoping for more, but I need to forget the tedium of knitting these before contemplating that.

Over the course of these 6 weeks I've finished three pairs of toe-up 2 at a time socks: the sample socks for My Boy, my Random Cotswold Socks and these for D - clearly I'm going to have to make a small pink pair sometime soon as a certain little lady has her cute button nose out-of-joint to have missed out on this occasion. The new skills I have practiced are (1) knitting two socks at a time on a circular needle (which has already been put to use for other things), (2) this sewn bind off which I love and may well become my default as it's so flexible and gives real control over the tension, and (3) learning to accept things that aren't matchy-matchy. The latter was the most difficult and probably the only thing I am still not entirely comfortable with. 

The book I bought for this knitalong was Toe-Up 2-At-A-Time Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes. In honesty, I have mixed feelings about it. The designs are really nice and the initial "sample sock" section was great with lots of detail and really clear step-by-step instructions. When I made the sample, this was exactly what was required. Unfortunately, this level of detail continued throughout the patterns and it really got in my way - I ended up scanning the pages for the pertinent information and was concerned I may make errors through not reading the patterns properly. 

I frogged the first (enormous) pair from this book and went back to my trusty Wendy Johnson book (Socks from the Toe Up) and adapted my favourite plain pattern which is written for one at a time socks on DPNs but the patterns are much clearer and less cluttered. When I came back to the 2-at-a-time book for D's socks, I rewrote the basics of the pattern into my notebook so that it was really simple and easy to follow and I am pleased with the outcome. Would I recommend this book to friends? Errrrrm.... maybe not. I'd probably suggest they watch a few good 2-at-a-time videos and then use their toe-up pattern of choice, or that they borrow this from a library for the sample sock section.

So I learned some new skills and made some socks. All of that is fine, but I could have done it alone. What made the last 6 weeks so very enjoyable was the wonderful community of people who were knitting along from all around the world and at all different levels - from first sock attempts, to complicated techniques. It has been amazing and truly inspiring and I would like to take the opportunity to say a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone for taking part and being so generous with their encouragement and support.

There are almost 300 #NSSkal photos on Instagram (see them online here if you don't use IG) and over 90 member of the CftC Ravelry Knitalong group which will remain in use for the next kal. Here are a selection of the finished projects...
Knitted by (IG/Ravelry usernames are given here): Vrothenbuhler x 3, cariadjude, ohdeerlette, sarahboirin, littlebobbins, rosedahlia, supertinks, tinkhickman, Tipsymoth, Tickety-boo, prgrundy, happyLV, Vrothenbuhler, Ummrania, ohdeerlette, ALazyBeauty

Aren't they wonderful? There are lots more projects that are not finished yet and I didn't get the time to check permission to post some of the other pictures here, so please do visit the group/tag to see more. Of course people have also been blogging about the kal, so here is the final linky. You know what to do - add your URL below and then link back to this post for your readers to find the other participants.

I'm now deciding what to cast on next... and I'm also wondering what the next knitalong should be. What do you think?
Wednesday, 27 February 2013

WIPs & Books: Plodding on & a note on Kindle X-ray

NSSKAL socks and A Dance with Dragons
KNITTING: Simplicity by Melissa Morgan-Oakes
YARN: Lang Yarns Jawoll Magic Degradé
READING: A Dance with Dragons by George RR Martin

It occurred to me that being back to the A Song of Ice & Fire series may well be the reason that D's Never-ending Socks are still not finished, but I'm going to have to start the ribbing soon as there isn't very much yarn left. This is good news as it means they should actually be finished for the final Next Step Sock Knitalong post tomorrow (when I'll also be reviewing the sock knitting book I've been using and showing off more finished projects from other participants).

I'd procrastinated about reading this 5th mega-book in the series after a long break because there are so many characters and so much happening I wasn't sure I'd remember it all, plus this book is parallel in time to the last one. My worry was unfounded thanks to a new Kindle tool called X-ray, which it seems few of my kindle-using friends knew much about when I mentioned it. If you're using an up-to-date Kindle device or a Kindle App on a smart phone, tablet or PC you might find it useful... 
Kindle X-ray
Providing your book is X-ray enabled (most of mine are), selecting this option will display a list of the characters on the current page/chapter/book along with a visual timeline of where they appear throughout the book. On a black and white device like my Kindle Paperwhite 3G the current position on the timeline is underlined, but on a colour device like my iPad there is an orange marker which moves along the timeline as you scroll through the quotes. (I read the same book on multiple devices which are all "whisper-synched" so whichever I pick up, it takes me to the furthest read page.)

Selecting one of the characters will bring up a summary of their profile as well as the quotes about them throughout the book which you can link to directly from the list. I absolutely love this feature and for this kind of book it is so incredibly useful as many characters are known by different names depending on the point-of-view character for each chapter and 31 people are mentioned in this chapter alone - phew!  I really wish I'd had this facility when I was studying English Literature for A-Level.

I know that not everyone likes e-readers or the idea of books being replaced with devices and I was firmly in that camp until I started using one. However I can't tell you what a difference it has made to my reading habits and as I said, that's very much to the detriment of D's socks! 

This post is (will be) linked to: WIP Wednesday &  Yarn Along (when the link goes live). 
Monday, 25 February 2013

Evolution (the 'Unravel 2013' post)

It is said that what we see in others is a reflection of ourselves. Sitting in the Unravel lobby with a friend who, after learning to knit and crochet since her first visit to Unravel last year, was buying up half of the stock, I will admit to an inward chuckle. You see, if I'd had a more extensive budget I'd have done exactly that a year ago. It got me thinking about my own evolution over the last two years of knitting and blogging-about-knitting (it happens to be my 2nd blogiversary today) and wondering whether I am following a common evolutionary cycle for a knitter/blogger at an annual knitting festival. Let me explain...
Evolution of a knitting-blogger (at Unravel)

My first visit (2011) -  OVERWHELM
Experience: knitting for approx. one month and hadn't started blogging yet
Internal dialogue: WOW! So many pretty yarns. What's the difference? What would I use them for? What could I make with them? How much would I need? Aaaaarghhhh - I don't know where to start. I must learn to crochet. What's the difference between 4ply and sock...? 
Purchases: a few skeins and some buttons (not even pictured on my (FIRST) blog post!) 

Second visit (2012) - SHOPPING & SAYING HELLO
Experience: knitting and blogging for 1 year  and 6 months of crochet 
Internal dialogue: I need one of those, and one of those and one of those, oh and some yarn for my queued patterns and this, and this... and then I can meet up with some bloggy friends.
Purchases: several skeins of yarn (some of which are still "stashed", more buttons and various other miscellany (blogged here)

Third visit (2013) - MEETING UP WITH FRIENDS... & SOME YARN
Experience: knitting and blogging for 2 years and 18 months of crochet
Internal dialogue: I just love meeting up with my friends - and I can't believe I've known some of them for 2 years but we only just met! Oh, nice yarn... but I already have some like that in my stash, hmm this one is pretty - I'll see if there is anything else I'd prefer after we've had a coffee and a chat. Oh look, there's an Instagrammer I recognise - squee!
Purchases: a few skeins and a few notions which I suppose you will want to see*

It wasn't really about the yarn this year at all, although there was plenty of that. I had a great time time meeting up with friends old and new and enjoying the atmosphere. Here are a few of my pictures - you can find more on Facebook and Instagram
Unravel 2013
1 & 3 - Yarn-bombing around Farnham Maltings. 2 - Tink, Danielle, Nat, Gilly and me
4 - Ruth of Rock + Purl. 5 - sheep! 6 - Suzie Jonhson of the Wool Sanctuary
7 - Juno Fibre Arts - possibly the smooshiest stall of all.
8 - Danielle and Ashley of A Stash Addict Yarn9 - Chiaogoo Twists at Tall Yarns 'n Tales

The festival seemed bigger than last year - I'm sure there were more exhibitors  which was great except that we didn't get to see the Best in Show exhibition (this had apparently been relocated across the courtyard to another building). It also seemed that there was less in the way of yarny decoration which was a shame as that's usually a highlight for me, but in honesty I was so busy chatting that I may have just missed it. I feel very lucky that this event is only an hour away from home, but it would be worth a longer trip. I'm thinking Unravel 2014 may involve staying over and making a weekend of it (with some of the further-afield friends perhaps?) and probably going to some classes/talks. That seems like the next logical step in my evolution. 

What do you think? Can you relate to this or does your own evolution look completely different?
*The purchases: 
Unravel 2013
Top to bottom/ L to R: A Stash Addict Red Sparkle 4 ply Merino/Silk 
A Stash Addict Dark Arts Ice Queen - Superwash BFL/Nylon
Clover darning needles, mini gauge and Herdy sheep charm
Hello Kitty wooden buttons (from A Stash Addict) 
Not visible: Levante by Rock & Purl and Unravel tote bag 
Friday, 22 February 2013

Snippets: A day out... and then another

My Boy is wearing D's cowl. Little Miss is wearing Just Enough Ruffles (from Nanna)
& Hello Kitty hat. Duffle coats & skull hat from Boden. Matchy-matchy blue eyes free from D!

Half term trip to London

Half term trip to London

Yesterday we braved the crowds and took the children to London for a few hours. In fact, we were travelling almost as long as we were there, but we managed to tick three very important half-term 'boxes':
1. My Boy saw Buckingham Palace (albeit over the heads of a billion tourists as we accidentally arrived during the changing of the guards *groan*)
2. They went to Hamleys for the first time - which was a little overwhelming for them
3. We travelled by black cab - the first of which was driven by a proper London cabby who told us all about his wife's shopping habits and their holiday to Turkey in his East London accent, Guv'nor. Wonderful. 

As a young singleton I lived in central London for a while (and on the outskirts for many years) and D still travels to Soho most days for work, but walking around with the children is a totally different experience. Streets suddenly feel endless, each person with a cigarette in-hand poses a threat, and the multitudes barging past at speed pay no attention to anyone below their own eye-level. It's surprisingly stressful.  So today is a peaceful day at home.

In truth, I'm saving my energy for Unravel TOMORROW!!!! I'll be the person in the Hilda headwrap trying not to spend too much money. If you see me, please come and say hello - I'm just as excited about meeting some of my bloggy friends as seeing the exhibitors, although the list is looking pretty awesome! If you aren't going, but would like to see what's going on you can follow my Instagram feed tomorrow and be sure to check back here on Monday when I'll be photo-bombing. Have a great weekend! 
Thursday, 21 February 2013

Next Step Sock Knitalong: The Penultimate Update

So we have one more week to go and I have managed to do half of the first heel on D's socks. I am not enjoying this project - they are big, I don't really like the pattern and I have lots of other things I'd like to cast on. I'm really hoping to have them finished for next week's final KAL post which will include some of the other lovely (finished) socks.


If you're still knitting- and blogging-along, here's this week's linky. Please link back here so your readers can find the other participants too. No knitting for me today - we're off to London.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Washi Tape for Knitters: An Introduction

Little Miss recently discovered my very small stash of 'washi tape' - and decided to use it to create a picture (below). Several people saw it and asked what the tape was and what it should 'really' be used for. As someone who visits lots of blogs and has a serious pinterest habit, I've been seeing these colourful strips of craftiness around for some time, but clearly there are many people who haven't so this is a brief introduction. Disclaimer: Read this post and click the links at your own risk. I can not be held responsible if you end up with a new addiction!

Little Miss discovers washi tape

Washi tape is a type of decorative masking tape which is made from Japanese washi paper and comes in various different patterns and designs. It is a useful crafting tool which can be used to decorate just about anything you can think of, although there is some limitation due to its low-tack nature. The tape is semi-opaque and because it's not too sticky, you can remove it without damaging the things it has adhered to and in my experience it will re-stick once or twice if you need to move it. It doesn't leave any noticeable residue and as long as you are careful when removing it, there is no sign that things were ever stuck. 

I have been using washi tape a lot in my Traveler's Notebook - it's great for sticking in photos/ yarn bands/ notes etc which I don't wish to permanently attach with glue or sellotape and it's very pretty. (You can find some great examples of Washi/TN combos here.)

As a knitter, I'm still finding lots of practical uses for my tape including these which should get you started...
Washi Tape for Knitters - part 1

I'd love to hear about any other things that you are using washi tape for - especially if it's related to knitting or crochet. There are sure to be more posts on this in the coming months but in the meantime, I have pinned a whole load of washi tape craft ideas to Pinterest to get you started.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Snippets: Things I learned this weekend

Jo & Steve's wedding. Feb 16th.

Jo & Steve's wedding. Feb 16th.

Jo & Steve's wedding

Jo & Steve's wedding
  • It is advisable to include a HUGE contingency when planning trips into London, especially when you have a very strict deadline... such as being the first 'reader' at a wedding.
  • It only takes two ambulances and a police car to completely block/close a road, and to thereby invalidate your original contingency margin.
  • Arriving somewhere by the skin of your teeth can give you quite an adrenaline rush - especially when the coach starts to pull off before you are in it.
  • Not all coach drivers know the shortest route from A to B (where A = a hotel, and B = a wedding venue). This can be particularly worrisome for a Mother-of-the-bride.
  • It's advisable to check new clothes for labels BEFORE sitting at the front of a room full of people *blush*.
  • Seeing a friend of 27 years in her amazing wedding dress can bring even the hardest people to tears. It can cause certain individuals to, and I quote, "re-evaluate the tissue situation". Meanwhile, it can turn a softy like me into a blubbing wreck. 
  • Eyelash glue isn't tear-proof.
  • It is possible to read to a room of people when overcome by emotion... but you're likely to make others cry and to be reminded of the "moment your face completely crumpled" many times throughout the night... by everyone you speak to, including those you have never met before. 
  • Every party should have a photo booth and a box of props. 
  • It's possible to carry three glass jars of flowers in only two hands - but falling asleep on a coach while holding them may result in a wet lap. 
  • If it takes half an hour to put your hair up, expect it to take twice as long to locate and remove all (bazillion) clips at the end of the evening, after a glass or two(-dozen) of wine. 
  • Given the opportunity to sleep-in, parents who are used to being woken early will probably still wake up before 6 am even though they are staying in a very nice hotel and do not need to get up for hours.  
  • There's nothing quite like seeing one of your favourite people so very very happy with her gorgeous new husband. Massive congratulations to Jo and Steve - that was a truly magical weekend xxxxx
    Friday, 15 February 2013

    Hilda: Vintage-inspired Headwrap

    Hilda is a simple multi-textured head wrap, made in one piece. It can be worn in several ways by altering the bow position and doubles as a headband and ear warmer. The inspiration for this came from my love of wearing vintage scarves as headwear, combined with a smidge of Minnie Mouse. I like to think of it as a functional piece of kitsch. 

    The headwrap is designed to be a bit stretchy - it should be worn snug without being tight. My head measures  56cm (22")  and this would fit larger or smaller heads as it is tied. Before starting you should measure your head where you'll wear it - there is flexibility but  if your head is significantly larger or smaller than mine, you will need to add or remove rows from the central moss stitch section to ensure a good fit. My gauge = 6 sts and 5.5 rows per inch in stocking stitch. If you are making this for a child, sections A and C are the same, but there are less stitches and repeats on the central band (section B). 

    - Approx 30g of Aran, or a bit less of worsted or DK yarn. The multicoloured version is Aran and the red one is light worsted (more like DK), both followed the same instructions - just be sure to try it as you go. 
    - 5mm needles (US size 8)
    - tape measure 
    - tapestry needle 

    - Casting on and binding off
    - Increasing by knitting and/or purling into the front & back of a stitch
    - Stocking Stitch
    - Moss stitch
    - Decreasing using SSK and k2tog
    - A little bit of sewing 

    SECTION A (half of bow)
    • cast on 2 sts
    • KFB both stitches (4sts)
    • purl the next row
    • KFB, knit to last st, KFB
    • purl row
    • repeat last two rows until there are 10 sts on your needle
    • work stocking stitch until work measures 6cm (or longer if you want a bigger bow!)
    • SSK, knit to last 2, K2tog
    • purl row
    • repeat last two rows until you have 6 sts on your needle
    • knit stocking stitch until the work measures 13cm as in image #1

    SECTION B (band)  - NB This is the moss stitch section and as we are increasing the right side rows, it is necessary to pay attention on the increase stitches so that the k1, p1 stitch pattern is maintained.
    • k into front, yarn forward and p into back of first st, moss stitch to last st, k into front, yarn forward and p into back of last stitch (8 sts)
    • p1, k1 to end
    • p into front, yarn back and k into back of first st, moss st to last stitch, then p into front, yarn back and k into back of last st
    • k1, p1 to end
    • repeat in this way until there are 16 sts on your needles and the work measures around 17 cm (for a child, until there are 10 stitches). If you would like a wider band continue increasing, but otherwise continue to knit the central moss stitch section until the work measures approx 57cm (for a child approx 47cm or until the ends of section B ALMOST reach around the head). The moss stitch section should now be almost long enough to go around your head.
    • on the next row, knit the first and last two stitches together ensuring that the moss stitch pattern is maintained ie if the first st is a purl, knit2 tog, p1... and if the first st is a knit stitch, p2tog, k1 etc... (14 sts) (8 sts)
    • moss stitch
    • repeat these two rounds until there are 6 stitches on the needles
    SECTION C (half of bow) - *TIP* This final section should be a mirror image of section A - ensure they do actually match by comparing them as you work the following:
    • revert to stocking stitch and knit until this section is the same length as the corresponding part of Section A 
    • KFB, knit to last st, KFB (8 sts)
    • purl
    • KFB, knit to last st, KFB (10 sts)
    • purl
    • continue with stocking stitch until the corresponding area of section A starts to decrease
    • SSK, knit to last st, K2tog
    • purl
    • repeat these two rows until only 2 sts remain
    • cast off 
    TO MAKE UP: NB If you intend to wear the bow underneath your hair at the back, you may prefer not to sew sections A and C into a structured bow - in this case, just sew in the ends. 
    • Fold over the tip of section A and C and sew along the sides of the bow as in images #2 and #3 - the 'stem' should be stitched loosely.
    • Tie a knot as per image #4 ensuring the two sides of the bow are sitting well before tightening
    • You're done. Embrace your inner Hilda with joy - lipstick is optional! 
    I hope you enjoy making and wearing your own Hilda. Please do link your projects and pictures to the Ravelry project page so that I can take a peek, and please link back to this page if you blog about it. If you use Instagram, there is a #hildaheadwrap tag too.

    I'm linking with: FO Friday , Creative Friday,  Show off your Stuff & Made By You Mondays
    PS - I've been asked for a crochet version which is on my to-do this space. 
    Thursday, 14 February 2013

    Next Step Sock Knitalong - Day 22

    Happy Valentine's Day! This is a very quick update as it's a manic Thursday around these parts, what with one thing and another. Sadly there is very little progress to show you on D's socks as I have been preoccupied making Hilda, Hilda 2 and Mini-Hilda - the pattern/recipe will be available tomorrow.  I'll show you the socks next week when it might look like I've made progress.

    After seeing the various finished socks appearing and discussing options for blocking socks / making sock blockers, I wanted to mention these handmade wooden blockers which arrived this week from
    Sock blockers from
    Prices start from £11.70 and there is an option for a custom size if you have especially large or small feet. If you make a lot of socks, especially if you favour lacy designs that really benefit from blocking, I think these are a great option (and I love supporting craftspeople who make this kind of product!). 

    Ok, so that's it from me, but here's the link for all the other bloggers and I know there are some fab finished objects out there this week so please pay them a visit:
    Wednesday, 13 February 2013

    WIPs & Books: Winter is coming (again)

    What a busy and freezing cold week it's turning into - brrrr. Not only have we booked a swanky new kitchen makeover for next month (this requires appliance shopping, list making and "pinning stuff"), but we are also preparing for a very exciting event this Saturday. It's the wedding of one of my favourite people and another of my favourite people is coming to stay from Dublin (I wrote about them after our weekend in Brighton).  Amid all the excitement, I'm also knitting a mini-Hilda before I publish the pattern here on Friday - this one is for Little Miss who just loves my red version. D is not very happy that his socks have taken second place, but more on that tomorrow. 
    WIPs & Books: Mini-Hilda and A Dance with Dragons
    After a long hiatus, I'm also back to George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series in the form of A Dance With Dragons (book 5). It's great to be back to these characters as the last book was concerned with a selection of other characters and these are definitely my favourite - the return to Tyrion, Jon Snow and Daenerys is wonderful. If only there were more hours in the day!!!! 

    I'm linking in with WIP Wednesday and Yarn Along and will return tomorrow with my Next Step Sock Knitalong update. Hope to see you then. 
    Monday, 11 February 2013

    Snippets: Orange & Pink

    On Saturday afternoon we set out to a local school hall for My Boy's third karate grading. It was the first time I've been - the first (red belt) was just after my surgery and the second (yellow belt) when Little Miss needed to be ferried elsewhere for a party or some such. I don't mind admitting that I was far more nervous than our little karate kid - when D asked how he was feeling he was told in no uncertain terms "I've been practicing for months, of course I'm going to get my orange belt!" Such confidence. It didn't stop me having a huge lump in my throat when all the yellow belts were called into another hall without us. His face said it all when he came back out - he was "very proud" of himself. Me too. 
    Proud Mama Moment - Orange belt success!

    In other news, my new Addi Click Lace (long tips) arrived on Saturday. I've been keen to try these since using Addi lace fixed circulars for hexipuffs. So far they've been used for two little (completed!) projects and first impressions are very good indeed. Once I've tried a few different yarn weights etc, I'll post a detailed review but here's a peek inside the lovely bright pink packaging...

    New needles!

    One of the finished projects is a new retro-inspired earwarmer / headband called "Hilda" - I'll be writing it up for you this week (there is a preview on my Facebook page if you want to see it)....  but first I have to get on with my long list of chores. Bye for now x

    Sunday, 10 February 2013

    YOP Update #20: Slowly busting it

    Year or projects update.
    Sunday morning finds me with a few projects on the needles and a little one already finished. If it works out, I'll tell you more about the project at the top - from Mirasol Maylla - next week. It is something I found myself casting on without a pattern last night and I may or may not like it.

    The little finished corsage brooch is from Debbie Bliss' The Knitter's Year using a few scraps. It should have been two shades of pink rather than pink and yellow, but scraps are scraps and those are the colours I had. There will be more of these - it was a really quick and easy knit and might make a nice little gift. 

    And onto the socks - yes, more socks! After finishing the Random Cotswold Socks I was planning on going back to the first frogged pair but D looked at mine longingly and made a few mutterings into his beard which settled it - his shall be the next pair. Plus they get two ticks on my Year of Project goal list as they are "something for D" and also made from stash yarn - Jawoll Magic Dégradé Superwash.

    For those who missed my Multi-puff "how to" post, I am also back to those pesky little hexipuffs...
    So it's been a pretty good week for my Year of Projects. To find out how everyone else is going, you can visit the YoP group on Ravelry and I'll see you tomorrow with some very happy Snippets!
    Thursday, 7 February 2013

    Next Step Sock Knitalong - Day 15

    Wow! There are some greaat #NSSkal socks popping up on Instagram (<<< click to see them), Twitter and the Ravelry group as many people complete at least half a pair. With two more weeks to go, there are still more people joining in - so it's not too late if you feel inspired!

    Like me, several people have already frogged one pair and finished another and some people are really pushing it to the next step with their techniques including one pair being knit two-at-a-time-one-inside-the-other, traditional Scandinavian 'Twined' knitting and some rather complicated-looking colourwork. Some of the pattern and yarn choices are seriously swoon-worthy, but mine, not so much.... 
    My first finished pair, mostly thanks to my solo train journey, are the Random Cotswold Socks made 2-at-a-time using Wendy D Johnson's Gusset Heel Basic Sock pattern in Socks from the Toe Up.  This is a tried and tested pattern for me, but is written one-at-a-time. Perfect "train" knitting. 

    The yarn is Regia Design Line Random Stripe "Snappy 2900" by Kaffe Fassett and it has nice colours but I don't love the overall effect. The random thing didn't really work for me, and also there are odd flecks of black which you can see clearly in the main pic above, frankly they look like mistakes/messy knitting so I'm not very happy with those at all. But the socks feel nice, they are comfortable and I'm already wearing them. I'm glad I went for this over something more complicated for my first pair as it was plain-sailing and has boosted my confidence to cast on something else more challenging... although I'm still not sure which pattern to use....

    If you're blogging along and would like to share your own NSS kal update for this week, simply add your details below and please link back to this post so your readers can find the others too. 

    EDIT: As this is the only Finished Object I managed I'm linking this post with FO Friday
    Wednesday, 6 February 2013


    The beauty of learning a new skill (eg 2-at-a-time-toe-up socks) is that it can be transferred to other things. Like this...

    Hexipuffs - 3 at a time.

    It has been five months since this project was mentioned so I suppose a recap is in order. I started my Beekeeper's Quilt waaaaaaaay back in August 2011 and I've had an on-again-off-again relationship with it ever since (you can see the various posts here if you are so inclined). It really seems to be abstinence or binge - one day they seem irresistible, and the next I can't stand the thought of making another. It's that type of project. The prospect of making more than one at a time certainly helps me imagine that it will be finished one day! For those who asked for tips on this technique when I posted on Instagram, here's a step-by-step guide. Hope you find it helpful.


    Before you start you will need:

    • the Beekeeper's Quilt pattern from Tiny Owl Knits
    • a long circular needle in your chosen size - I use 3.25mm which is smaller than the pattern
    • several balls of sock/4 ply yarn - it's helpful to use different colours while you get used to the technique
    • stuffing
    • crochet hook (or tapestry needle) for bind off

    Getting started:

    1. Using Judy's Magic cast on, cast on the first hexipuff so that you have 10 stitches on each needle.
    2. Slide the first 'puff along the needles and repeat the cast on using your second yarn.
    3. Repeat step 2 until you have as many 'puffs as can comfortably fit on your needle/cable, remembering they double in size at the middle - for me it's 3 hexipuffs at a time on an 80cm cable (pictured) or 4 on a 100cm needle.
    4. When all of your puffs are on the needle, knit the first side of the first 'puff as per the pattern (I personally find an initial knit row before following the pattern gives a nicer shape)
    5. When the first one is done, change yarn and work the next 'puff. Continue to do this, knitting both sides of the work as per the pattern and stuffing with filling while on the needles.
    6. When it's time to bind off, simply work your way around the needles, binding off one side at a time either with a hook as per the pattern or using your preferred bind off.

    Tips/ Troubleshooting:

    • When you turn your work, the different balls of yarn are at considerable risk of tangling - try to alternate the direction you turn (clockwise and then anti-clockwise) to prevent this.
    • To prevent laddering along the sides, pull the yarn extra-snug for the first few stitches of each puff and if the loop at the end of the cable is pulling the stitches apart, put a twist in it which will stop this happening.
    I'll be back tomorrow with the Next Step Sock Knitalong (yes, the Random Cotswold Socks are finished). Today's links are WIP Wednesday and Yarn Along (although I'm still reading the same book as last week so I haven't repeated myself.)


    Tuesday, 5 February 2013

    Guest Post: On Colour / Color

    Hey everyone! I'm Wink from A Creative Being and I'm here today because Sarah asked me to write a guest post for her fabulous blog :)

    You may know me from my Weekly Mandala project that I started last year, where I crochet one mandala a week using colors from an inspirational image I found earlier. It is pure color therapy for me! A lot of people ask me how I stay inspired doing a weekly project, and where I find the images.
    First of all, here's an eyeopener: Inspiration is all around us. Inspiration is everywhere. Just look outside for example, and study the sky. What color is it? Blue? Look more closely. Is it completely blue, or do you spot a slight pink haze? What about those white airplane stripes, can you see them? Those trees in the distance, what color are they? If you pay attention to the details, you can get a full color palette just by looking outside! :)
    But of course, some days you need a little more help finding inspiration, especially when you look outside and all you see is a grey sky... And that is why we have: the internet! There are a lot of sites out there that deal with color palettes, color combinations, or simply gorgeous pictures and photographs. All of those can give you inspiration. A regular reader of my blog recently sent me this link to the Color Collective; a wonderful blog that posts color palettes inspired by various designers, artists and photographers that inspire the maker. It's a great example of seeing the beauty all around you; she pulls color palettes from things like outfits!
    If you're ever stumped for inspiration, or are trying to find the right colors for your next project: boot up your laptop/computer/phone and get a search going. Try using all kinds of search terms; like places you'd like to see ('sahara', 'amazone', 'forest', 'lake'), animals you love ('nature', 'meerkats', 'goats', 'peacock'), or simply enter a color you really like, and see what comes up!

    I follow a lot of blogs, from crochet blogs to curator/art blogs, and I find that all of them give me inspiration on a daily basis. Even if you don't read through them all; checking them out just for the pictures is totally cool and really helps you knowing what's out there, and helps you discover new things, artists and color palettes. Try to experiment by using colors in your next project that you wouldn't normally pick because you either think they don't go together or because you don't like them. Some of the best work I've done was made using colors I don't like, and they ended up amazing! :)

    Here's a quick list to write down in case you ever feel lost for inspiration:
    1. Look outside
    2. Take a virtual trip to your favorite places
    3. Experiment!
    I hope you enjoyed this post; thank you Sarah for having me! :)
    Monday, 4 February 2013

    Snippets: Friendship & shopping

    Some people come into our lives for a short time. They may teach us something or add to our journey in some way but after a while they leave, usually becoming an anecdote to our personal history. Then there are the others - the friends who are there for the long-haul. These are the people you can go months, or years, without seeing but you think about often, and are immediately comfortable in their company when you are together again. I spent the weekend with two such friends.

    Leanne & Louise, wearing their coffee in Corleone's Coffee shop
    Almost twenty one years ago I was newly arrived at University and queuing at the phonebox to call home (imagine having to wait in line to use a phone - not having one in your pocket!) when a lively Northern girl started chatting to me. To be honest, at that point her unfamiliar accent meant I probably understood only 60% of what she said but I got that her name was Leanne. I immediately liked her. She soon introduced me to Louise (from her course) as she thought we would be great friends. Imagine my disappointment when she reminded me of someone else I really disliked. We laugh about it now, but apparently at our first meeting I didn't quite appear to be the "lovely Welsh girl" Leanne had promised. Two decades, three husbands and eight children later, it seems none of us have changed very much. We spent a lovely weekend chatting, shopping, laughing until we cried and by the end of the night they were even dancing to 90s anthems while I looked on, sipping wine - as I said, nothing has changed. I'm already looking forward to the next get-together (with our families) in the summer.

    The weekend afforded plenty of time to work on my Random socks which are almost finished (gotta love train knitting) and introduction to an almost-perfect little shop in Leamington Spa. I say 'almost' because for me it was just missing a wall of scrummy yarn, but Berylune had pretty much everything else that I would sell if I designed my own ideal shop. Crochet items, buttons, jewellery, vintage stickers, lots of washi tape, all manner of cute vintage inspired gifts and loveliness... and nice people too! If you are in the Leamington area, they hold weekly Knit and Natter there as well as various craft workshops - I'd definitely recommend popping in and saying hello. Here's a little taster ...

    (Photos courtesy of Berylune - it was too dark to take my own on Saturday evening) 
    If you're not able to get to Leamington, you may also like the Berylune online shop and blog.

    Saturday, 2 February 2013

    Say hello!

    In January, after much deliberation, a new (trial) section was added to my sidebar in order to give  crafty bloggers and 'makers' the opportunity to share their links with the lovely readers that visit me each month - yes, that's you! My aim is to populate that space with blogs or sellers you will be interested in visiting and I've invited the current 'Sponsors' to say hello to you and to tell you a little bit about themselves.

    littlebobbins is an online shop full of pretty things, all designed and handmade by me, Dani. With my creations I aim to make your everyday life a little more cheerful. You will find all sorts of textile goodies from appliquéd pencil cases to colourful bunting and lots more in between. All made with quality materials and a meticulous attention to detail. littlebobbins is the perfect place for one of a kind, whimsical gifts, or perhaps a treat for yourself. 

    My passion for handmade started over a decade ago when I had the flu and asked my mum to teach me to embroider. She did, and since then I have experimented with lots of different crafts, studied Art at college, Textiles at University and now I spend lots of my time here, on this swively chair with my two furry assistants trying to craft a handmade business and learning lots along the way. It would be lovely to see you at littlebobbins, we look forward to your visit :)
    You can also get a peek behind the scenes at Dani's blog, Twitter feed & on Instagram.

    Hello. I'm Tanya aka A Yarn Loving Mama & I'm passionate about yarn and colour. I mostly spend my days being a Mama, spinner, knitter, crocheter, and fledgling knitwear designer. Having my own Etsy shop, I sell an ever-growing range of hand-crafted drop spindles, spinning kits (with matching A Stash Addict fiber), as well as crochet hooks, stitch markers, handspun yarn and other beautiful things. I am in the process of filming video tutorials - assisting my spindle customers and anyone else who's interested in learning how to spin yarn on a drop spindle. And any free time in between I blog about my exploits. Thanks for stopping by and happy crafting :)
    Find A Yarn Loving Mama on EtsyFacebook and her Blog as well as various other networks (always as @ayarnlovingmama) 

    Hi! I'm Marinke but you can call me Wink. I blog several times a week over at where I share my love for crochet & color, and more! You may know me from the crochet tutorials I write for my own blog and Crafttuts+, but I'm mostly known for my weekly crochet mandalas. I have met a lot of lovely people since I started blogging and it is true what they say; bloggy friends are the best friends! has about 50,000 hits a month, readers from all over the globe, and a very active Facebook page with 1700+ fans!
    Visit Wink on her Blog, Facebook & Pinterest.

    I'm Sarah, a huge knitting fan and general arts & crafts lover. My background is in Silversmithing and Jewellery making - wedding rings, tiaras and bridal jewellery, which I made alongside my teaching career. After having two children I had stopped teaching and was looking for something I could do to contribute to the family funds.

    I had made stitch markers for friends, and after a trip to a local bead shop and a few days designing and making I took a little box of goodies to show my knitting group. They loved them and were convinced I could sell them and they also came up with the name fripperiesnbibelots. I set up the shop in July 2009 and I now have lots of lovely loyal customers. My popular ringOs are, by far, my best seller and I love making them. I have a core line of dangly stitch markers and other knitting accessories and I run a Mystery Marker Club and a mystery Club ringO every few months. 
    You can visit Sarah at her Etsy shop, on Facebook and Twitter

    Hi, I'm Danielle, the person behind A Stash Addict. I started dyeing my own yarn in 2011, not just because I wanted to create something individual and unique, but because I wanted to connect and really enjoy the whole process of knitting a project. 

    All of my collections have a whimsical/fantasy theme, this is partly because I am believer in creating your own magic and partly because I wanted each stitch to engage the user and get them really excited about the project they are planning to making instead of focusing on the finished object, after all they say 'Life is about the journey, not the destination', so take time and really enjoy each and every stitch and watch the magic in my colours unfold before your very eyes!
    You can connect with Danielle at her website, on Facebook and on Instagram. 

    If you would like to support the blog and to be featured in next month's post, pop over to the Sponsor page and choose the option which best suits you. There are several different link sizes and a limited number of spaces for "swaps" too - if you'd like to be considered for one of those, please feel drop me a line to tell me a little about yourself and your blog.

    I'll be back on Monday to tell you what I've been up to this weekend - hope to see you then! x
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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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