Saturday, 30 March 2013

Are you a "Secret Stasher"?

I've had various hobbies over the years (some might call them obsessions) and whether it has been knitting, baby wearing, or handbag shopping there seems to be a common theme amongst the people I have met who share these interests. I think it's best summarised in this visual, where x = the thing you love

The overlap is the bit that "other people" (muggles) know about. For example, most people know that I knit - they see me knit - but they really have no idea of the extent of my hobby. Most won't know that I blog about it, read books and listen to podcasts about it and that I have a stash of yarns I mostly bought because they are pretty... and because one day I'll turn them into something. 

For knitting/crochet bloggers, I suspect it's possible to take this one step further:
*'Ravelry' can be swapped for any other hobby-specific forum.

Note: If your husband doesn't read your blog, then the last two can be reversed.

I don't think this is a female thing, especially if D's stash of movies, games and gadgets is anything to go by. Without a salary of my own, there is not much I can get past him so my personal expertise is perhaps in justifying the need for certain things and as he is an obsessive personality too, he seems to be fairly understanding.

How about you - can you relate to this? Are you a secret stasher? 
Thursday, 28 March 2013

Things I didn't know: Part 1

As a new knitter, there were some things I knew I didn't know, that I was consciously incompetent about - for example how to make a cable, how to knit fair isle, where to start with double pointed needles, and so on. There were also lots of areas where I was unconsciously incompetent - there were so many things that I simply didn't know I didn't know. It was only through figuring out different patterns and asking questions on my blog, or reading/listening to other knitters that I realised quite how little I knew about the craft. After a couple of years of knitting, I am constantly learning new techniques and tricks, and  usually find myself wishing I'd known about them sooner.


To start the series of 'Things I didn't know', I'd like to share some things that have made a significant difference to my knitting. These are the things I do all the time but that I didn't even know existed a short time ago. There are lots more to follow and I hope they will be helpful to some of the newer knitters amongst you, and perhaps serve as a reminder to more experienced knitters too.

When I learned to knit as a child, I had no idea there was any other way to do it and had never seen anyone knitting differently until I was watching knitting tutorials. I have written about this already and really can't stress enough how much switching to continental knitting changed the speed at which I knit and consequently my enjoyment of knitting and of making larger items.  You can read the detailed post here which includes some great video links. Edit Jan 2015: There's a brand new comprehensive online class from Craftsy: Knit Faster with Continental Knitting

I had no idea it was possible to make a small round object on one long needle - I'd only ever seen DPNs (and they looked really complicated). This was a revelation, and although DPNs are no longer a mystery I use magic loop all the time. If you're new to the technique, this Knit Picks photo tutorial is a great starting point. 

A common pet hate for knitters if the comments here are any indiction is.... sewing in ends! When one of my friends sent me this Russian Join video it felt like a gift and I try to use this as much as possible (depending on the yarn). If you haven't tried it, you might like to give it a go. 

This is one of the things I tried just a few weeks ago and which has now become my go-to method of binding off. It is totally flexible as it can be as tight or loose as you require, great for socks, hats, sweater cuffs and just about anything else you can think of. You can find a useful video tutorial here.  

The women in my family were always knitting when I was growing up but they never blocked anything at all, so this came as a surprise. The first time I tried it (on Mizzle, visit the link for the pictures of a million pins!)  the difference was quite incredible. I have since invested in blocking wires and don't consider a project truly finished until it is blocked. You can read how I do it here

So what are the things you were unconsciously incompetent about but which have made a big difference to your knitting? 
    Wednesday, 27 March 2013

    WIPs & Books: I can knit a rainbow

    Following last week's post (thank you for all your comments - I loved reading them) I did indeed end my procrastination to wind that skein of Kauni and start knitting Whippoorwill by Carina Spencer. What do you think of it so far? 

    I'm still working an occasional row on the deja-vu socks - they are my 'handbag project' but we haven't been anywhere I could knit for the last few days. Never fear, it's our book club meeting tonight so I may get a bit more done over a glass of wine and a discussion of Sari Caste by Catherine Kirby. The blurb calls it a "courageous voyage through destitution, intrigue and murder" and whilst technically correct, that's not how I would describe this book. It's essentially the story of a low-caste Indian woman who leaves home after becoming pregnant outside of marriage and finds work and refuge in a Calcutta brothel. The ensuing tale is a very unfortunate one - heart-wrenching at times - and full of the suffering of women and children, even when it seems there will be a 'happy ending' for Manasa and her family. 

    This isn't a novel that I'd have chosen for myself and I did find the story to be interesting if uncomfortable. This is a prime example of a self-published book that could have been much better if properly edited. There were lots of grammatical errors - capitals in the wrong place, random punctuation and some chapters which really didn't work so well (also the rather abrupt end left me feeling flat). It wasn't enough to totally spoil it for me, but this could have been a 4 star book if edited, as it is I'd give it 3 out of 5. 

    Today's links: WIP Wednesday & Yarn Along
    Saturday, 23 March 2013

    What about you?

    Since Wednesday's post, I've had an idea in my head that wouldn't be shaken so yesterday I started work on a few little doodles which will be ready to share with you soon. 
    TLYF Intro

    There are various "pesky" jobs that I dislike when knitting and crocheting - winding skeins, sewing in ends, joining granny squares, finding dropped stitches - which got me wondering.... What are the little pesky jobs that you'd ask your own Little Yarn Fairy to take care of? 
    Friday, 22 March 2013

    FO Friday: A spark

    This year I'd like to expand my crafting skills beyond knitting and crochet so when I spotted a 2.5 hour workshop being run by Danni Cooper and hosted by Make (Horsham), it seemed like the perfect thing to try. A friend decided to come along too and we had a fun evening of tea, cake (wheat-free!!!) and chatter, resulting in this 'Firework' ring...

    Firework ring - made at beaded jewellery workshop, hosted by Make Horsham

    As it's put together with needle and thread I was well within my comfort zone on this one. Having attempted some earrings which involved manipulating metal I can confirm that definitely needs more practice, but it's certainly ignited my interest in jewellery-making. As there are lots more workshops on offer, this seems a great way to try some different things.

    I've noticed a LOT of cross-stitch amongst fellow "knitters" lately so how about you? Do you have plans for learning new crafts?

    Links: Creative Friday FO Friday
    Wednesday, 20 March 2013

    The one thing I hate about knitting...

    Picture the scene... All active projects are finished (excluding gigantic ongoing projects like the Beekeeper's Quilt) and you have nothing that urgently needs to be made. You look at your Ravelry queue and remember the pattern purchased a year ago (Whippoorwill). You recall stashing the perfect Kauni yarn for it too. A week or so passes - a week you've been filling with little diversionary things, and you see one of your friends is making that exact pattern in the same yarn and it looks lovely. So you get the yarn out... but it looks like this, so you leave it on the table for another week.
    Yes, it's sad but true. My hatred of winding skeins into usable cakes/balls - especially when they are large like this 150g beauty - is enough to cause serious delay to my plans. In fact I have spent the last two nights AVOIDING any crafting so I don't have to deal with it. It really is the one thing I hate about knitting, it seems like a huge obstacle when all I want to do is cast on. I am not quite sure why I have such a mental block about it, but suspect it's at least partly due to my horrible swift (I won't drone on about that again - you can find my former lament here) and disliking the mechanical yarn winder - I think this skein is just too big to wind by hand onto my nostepinne. Does anyone know how to summon a Yarn Fairy who can take care of these things? 

    So my WIP update is very light this week as the only project on my needles is the 'deja-vu' socks which I refuse to photograph until finished. If I'm tired of showing the various incarnations of that one skein of yarn, you must be equally bored with seeing them.

    Onto books then. This is at least something different for I, a cat-lover, am reading The Perfect Puppy by Gwen Bailey. It has come as quite a shock to those who know me, but after much deliberation, we are planning to get a puppy later in the year. It's a terrible cliché, isn't it? Middle aged mum looking to replace her baby, and all that. But it's true. I worked long hours until I had the children and for the last 7 years have been at home with them so I'll be completely lost when both children are at school in September. I can't imagine days with no-one to follow me about or make a mess and as I have said before, I most definitely do NOT want more kids. Cats wouldn't last long here as we live right on a road and it's a companion that I'm after, someone to take out and about and who will enjoy my love of nature. All things considered, a dog seems to be the best option. (The alternative is an obsessively-clean house and my heart really isn't in that, it feels like a life wasted.) Aside from the selfish reasons listed above, we both think it will be lovely for the children to grow up with a pet - D and I grew up with cats, dogs and horses and share a love of animals as a result.  Don't tell anyone, but I'm really quite excited about it! 

    Today's link: WIP Wednesday
    Tuesday, 19 March 2013

    5 of the Best: Most eggcellent Spring craft ideas

    The weather in these parts has been bleak and grey for far too long. So with the daffodils about to bloom and some sunshine (finally) at the window, I find myself thinking about the changing seasons and decorating the house with some cheer. Spring is such a wonderful season - it'll be a welcome relief to see signs of new life and some colour after the long wet winter, during which I took to pinning pretty Spring craft ideas. Today I'd like to share 5 of my favourites, which all happen to involve eggs - the timeless symbol of new life and fresh beginnings.

    1. Wouldn't it be delightful to get a little note in a hand painted egg? This great picture tutorial comes from The Meta Picture. (If you like it, you may also want to take a look at this fabulous eggshell garden.)

    2.  This adorable mantle or table decor from Delish would also look great presented in an open egg box.

    3. Martha Stewart's Decoupage Eggs made with paper napkins could also be combined with the note  or the flowers above. 

    4. I discovered the beautiful blog Pieces of Me from this 'Easter Decor collage' I came across on Pinterest - the blog is most definitely worth a look at for lots of other lovely things too.

    5. If you're too heavy-handed for crafting with real eggs, or if yarn is much more your thing, you might like to try making this Sparrow's Nest from the Purl Bee, another lovely free pattern. 

    If you'd like to see more of the inspirational links and ideas I've been collecting, pop over to my Spring board - I add new things to Pinterest almost every day. 

    Monday, 18 March 2013

    Keeping memories

    Yesterday we were at my mother-in-laws for lunch (a perk of not having a kitchen!) and she produced lots of family momentos. Her three children's cards and letters, party invites and school books as well as old photos and certificates. D's books were mostly filled with pictures of motorbikes and helicopters, but I especially liked the idea of 4 year old D drawing this: 
    Darth Vader by my husband, when he was 4 :)
    Seeing all these mementos made me think of a sentence that really touched me in last week's book
    "One of our sacred functions as mothers is to be our children's memory keepers. To keep mementos of their precious years which they are to young to remember fully themselves" 
    It struck a chord when I read it as I'd witnessed the importance of this in a number of families in the previous days. I know an aggrieved and abandoned mother who has left her her grown-up children with so much bitterness and anger from her tainted memories of their father that their relationships with everyone else in their lives suffer. In this case, I witnessed what happened many years ago and it's not the same story that the children were told and which has become their memory of that time.  They have nothing to remind them of good times - in fact there is no trace at all that there were happy times with their father. In another family, the now-adult children have such differing memories to their mother, and to one-other, that there is constant tension and I see the mother in search of some physical proof, some independent record, that might tell her how it really was and whether she was or wasn't a "good" parent. And of course we all worry about that to one degree or other. 

    Being subjective, memory-keeping doesn't always work so well alone, and I think it's important to have photos or other momentos to hang the memories on, somehow this makes them more real for me. D and I are trying to preserve the good memories as much as we can - it's one of my reasons for blogging too. It's how our children will 'know' our families, how they will 'remember' their grandpa who died before LM was born. In some way, it's how they learn about their own place in the world. I hope the fact that we have kept and cherished their memories will say something about us too.

    So here's a memento I'll be keeping safe for Little Miss. Her very first solo sewing attempts and a little heart she made with Nanna's help. In the future, when she gets this out of her box, we can remind her of the Saturday nights the children spent at my mum's. How she was usually reluctant to go but loved it when she was there. How she got to bake and stay up late and do things she didn't do at home. How much she was cherished.
    Little Miss (age 3) has been sewing this weekend.
    I got a FaceTime call yesterday morning when she'd finished it and the look on her face was absolutely priceless -  she was so proud and thrilled with it.  Yes, this little treasure will be kept safe, but that look on her face? Well, that's a special memory I'm keeping for myself.

    Sunday, 17 March 2013

    YOP Update #21: It's been a while...

    I haven't posted a Year of Projects update for ages, but that doesn't mean I'm not still working away on my list and on stashbusting. Since my last post D's socks were (eventually) finished, and I cast on and completed a little stashbusting shawl. It's the shawl in the picture, made from stashed Dye Spin Knit yarn in colourway "bouquet", although I'm not showing it off properly until the ends are sewn in and it's blocked. Which may be a few weeks. On Wednesday I mentioned that I'd cast on another pair of socks from more stashed yarn, but today I'm going to rip back to the toe - the pattern I started is too much with coloured yarn. 
    There are more plans afoot. This may be the week I FINALLY cast on Whipporwill - it was almost last Spring's knitalong and the yarn has been waiting since then. (Anyone still fancy joining me.....?)

    Friday, 15 March 2013

    Not quite a FO & a lovely book

    When a review copy of the new Debbie Bliss bookKnits for You and Your Home, arrived a few weeks ago, I couldn't wait to get started and quickly cast on two projects from it. I showed you the first last week and this is the second...
    Unblocked lace collar
    PATTERN: Lace collar by Debbie Bliss
    YARN: Debbie Bliss Rialto Lace (Extra Fine Merino Wool Superwash) in colour 44002

    The knitting is finished but it's not yet blocked - which will make a world of difference - and I haven't attached the ties, but I couldn't wait to share it with you - the current state of my disrupted house means it could be weeks before anything new is blocked! I'll try to remember to post a 'before and after picture' when I get around to blocking it.

    Not normally a lace knitter, I was surprised at just how much I enjoyed this project - I'm repeating an earlier comment by saying I wish there were charts in the Debbie Bliss books, but this one was really easy anyway and perfectly simple to knit. Without the ties, it weighs less than 11g so there is also enough yarn for 3 more, or something else entirely! 

    There are plenty of other lovely projects in the book which, as the title suggests, covers items for the home and the knitter. These 3 are my favourites... 
    Book review - Debbie Bliss 'Knits for You and your Home'
    I would LOVE to knit all of these up in Debbie Bliss yarns as they really do go so well together. The smaller projects I've made with DB yarns and patterns have all been perfect, but sadly many of these garments would end up out of my price-range in the suggested yarns - the waterfall jacket would cost somewhere in the region of £180, but oh how I wish!

    Marketed as an enticement to the selfless-knitter, there are projects for the crafty person to make for herself which go beyond yarn and needles, including these...
    Book review - Debbie Bliss 'Knits for You and Your Home'
    There are lots of patterns to choose from within the 4 different sections - I will happily substitute the yarn without a second thought for the following, which may well end up in my project list.
    Book review - Debbie Bliss 'Knits for You and your Home'
    This is my third Debbie Bliss book (I also have Knits to Give and The Knitter's Year) and it's very much what I have come to expect. Beautifully photographed and presented with a good selection of projects which range from little things (eg hanging lavender hearts or a watch strap) to larger garment including those pictured, and several medium sized items in between.  

    The book is out now (in hardback) with a RRP of £18.99 but is available to order for £12.15 on Amazon with free supersaver delivery  (or $15.44 from Amazon.comwhich is great value for so many useable patterns. The patterns are not on the Ravelry database at the time of writing, and I'm keeping an eye on the errata page of the DB site as I have found a few revisions there for other publications, but this is a book which I can imagine coming back to many times. 

    Linking with: FO Friday
    Wednesday, 13 March 2013

    WIPs & Books: Spaciousness

    The knitting project I started at the weekend is finished, I completed the most recently published book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series yesterday (AMAZING!!!) and there's a big empty room where my kitchen should be.

    Space is being created for new things.

    I've cast on another pair of 'vanilla' socks from my frogged knitalong project  so I have something to keep my hands busy, a stress-reliever. With only half a pair of toes there is little to show. 

    Last night I began Moods of Motherhood - a thoroughly enjoyable collection of blog posts and published articles from Lucy Pearce of Dreaming Aloud blog and Juno magazine. It has been on my Kindle for a while following a recommendation and I like it a lot. It's a book one can pick up and dip into as it's arranged in sections, each covering different aspects of motherhood. The sections will be likely to 'speak' to you at different times depending on their relevance to your own journey. Having read some topics in their entirety, and flicking through others, the book would be perfect for a new mother - especially one who embraces aspects of a natural style of parenting (home birth, breastfeeding, co-sleeping etc). Regardless of parenting style, the writing is honest and warm and very easy to relate to: 
    "Until you have your own child, held in your heart, your ears are blocked, your eyes are blind to the reality of motherhood. Its pains and its glories. Once you have been there, stood in the body of motherhood, then you can hold hands with every woman who have ever mothered. You know her joys and pains. You are her."  from 'Nobody told me'. 
    The emotional range from extreme joy to shouting and wanting to escape, from tender moments to swear words and heartache. It's all there. This is a little treasure of a book I'll be coming back to again and again.

    Today's links: WIP Wednesday and (later) Yarn Along. 
    Tuesday, 12 March 2013

    The Crafter's Notebook

    You may recall my joy at getting a Traveler's Notebook. After a month or so of using it, I don't know how I managed before - it's changed the way I organise my projects and especially my blogging. Here's a little peek inside, so you can see what I mean. 
    How I use my Midori Traveler's Notebook for crafting & blogging
    1. A zipped pocket contains a few stitch markers, a little needle gauge, moo cards, and any other small bits and pieces I might need. A pair of interchangeable needle tips and a cable will fit in here and I've used it to carry those a few times although they don't live in there all the time. There is also a mini crochet hook attached to the inside cover, perfect for picking up dropped stitches on the go. 

    2. I'm a 'pattern scribbler' so in the case of some favourite patterns such as these Vanilla socks the relevant page from my book has been copied and stuck it in, together with my annotations. You can see the ball band from the last pair is stuck on with washi tape - I put it here when casting on so I wouldn't forget the details before logging them on Ravelry. 

    3. Planning my own projects (and My Boy's homework, as in the case of the dream-catcher notes pictured) is all done in the notebook and will be fun to look back on. 

    4. Personal appointments are managed via an online diary but for planning the blog, a month-to-view diary is perfect. I pencil in any ideas so they can be changed/moved or highlighted when published.

    5. If an iPad is to hand then blog post ideas are usually drafted straight onto the Blogsy App but when I'm out and about, I often travel light and I've found my notebook invaluable for jotting ideas and draft posts. It's a great size for carrying in my handbag and I love that I can use it for list/bullet points by writing in portrait orientation but with plain paper it can be turned sideways for longer text, as pictured.

    6. When I come across a seasonal project I like, popping it on a post-it or some Washi Tape in my yearly planner is far more effective than trying to remember it! 

    Since I originally posted about my TN, I know that several of you were enabled to get your own as a result, it's been lovely to hear about them and I'd love to see how you're using them too. A number of readers have also emailed asking about the inserts/refills I use and so on, so here's the low down. The book and accessories/refills all came from The Journal Shop - super service and fast delivery. I am currently using the Brown Leather notebook with infills 003, 008, 002, 009 (to customise the elastic not for a repair!), 015 and 017

    As my interest in stationery is clearly shared, I'll be posting a few more things in the coming weeks that you may like to see. In the meantime, a major project for 2013 has started in our house today - the first workman has just arrived to rip out our old kitchen - eek! I'm documenting the project on Instagram (tagged #swankynewkitchen).

    Friday, 8 March 2013

    FO Friday: More headwear!

    I am nothing, if not predictable. When a new Debbie Bliss book arrived for review, the first thing I spotted was a moss stitch headband. Yes, I know - Hilda, my own  headband recipe was published just a few weeks ago... I appear to have an addiction!
    YARN: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in chocolate.
    PATTERN: 'Headband' from "Knits for you and your home" by Debbie Bliss.
    It's perfect to wear outdoors as it's very cosy (and I love this yarn which is beautifully soft and perfect for this pattern) but it's a bit too wide and warm to wear all day as I do with my Hilda. 

    I'm just about to finish off another pattern from this book so I'll post the FO and a book review next Friday. Hope you have a lovely weekend - I'll be mostly enjoying the last few days of having a kitchen (it's being ripped out next week and the new one won't be finished for about 4 weeks - EEK!) with a house full of people on Saturday and Sunday. 

    Today's link: FO Friday at Tami's - who I love for always having her post ready bright and early despite the time difference :) 
    Thursday, 7 March 2013

    Geekery: Review of Addi Click Long Interchangeable Needles

    Since learning to knit 'properly' I haven't used straight needles, favouring circulars for flat knitting, for one-piece garments and magic loop. I've mainly used wooden KnitPro Symphonie* Interchangeable needles (also known as "KnitPicks") which have served me very well considering they have already had a lot of use.

    About a year ago I bought a selection of fixed Addi lace circulars to try out on a few projects (2.5mm and 3.25 mm for socks and hexipuffs and 10mm for a chunky project) and found them very pleasing, in fact I preferred them to the KnitPros... which started me wondering what the interchangeables would be like and how they'd compare. At that point I read one comparison/review with the short Addi Lace Clicks and wasn't  convinced I'd like them due to the shorter length (hand cramps!?) and the thought of such a noticeable join, and so the idea was put to the back of my mind.

    Fast forward to a few months ago when the opportunity arose to try out a set of the new longer Addi  Lace Click Long Interchangeables - naturally I was keen to give them a go. They have now been used for a  number of different projects ranging from Aran to laceweight yarns, and so if you'd care to join me in a little needle geekery, it's time to tell you about them. There are comparisons with KnitPro because that's what I know best, and they are very popular so chances are, many of you know them too.

    New needles!

    The Set:  Inside the clutch-bag style case you will find 8 pairs of Addi lace knitting tips, 3 red Addi lifeline-cords, 1 cable connector (extender), numerous leaflets and a brooch! Needle sizes range from 3.5mm to 8mm and the cords are 60, 80 and 100 cm.

    My first impressions were really good - the case is lightweight yet sturdy (and very pink!), it feels nicely made, with well-fitting elastics holding the needles and cable connector in place. Being a sucker for personal service, I admit to liking the little note enclosed, which tells me who put my set together although I don't imagine the Addi brooch pin will ever be worn. I can't help thinking that a shawl pin would have been more suitable.

    The Tips: These Addi tips are not as sharp or pointy as the smaller sized Addi fixed circulars I have but this has been of no detriment, even when using Lace 2 ply. As the smallest tips in the set are 3.5mm this seems entirely reasonable and my fingers are quite happy having been subject to a fair amount of abuse from sharper needles. The points are longer and they weigh more than the wooden Symphonies and as one might expect, the Addis feel a lot more sturdy than the Symphonies too.

    GEEKERY - weight/size comparison

    It's difficult to directly compare the tips of the wooden Symphonies and these metal Addis - there will be yarns which suit one or other better and there is also a matter of personal taste, so I'm leaving that issue aside except to say that I have broken a number of my wooden tips which should probably be a consideration to anyone looking to invest in a set. A couple have broken in project bags when being transported, D sat on another, and I managed to snap a thin one whilst knitting. Luckily they are easy to replace.

    The Cables: The cables in this set are different to those in the fixed Addi Lace needles - they seem more flexible and most noticeably they have a handy slit for the easy placement of lifelines. I tried this out using my lace project and it was very straightforward and I can see it would be useful if moving from one chart to another, on particularly complicated projects or simply for separating raglan sleeves onto scrap yarn in a one-piece garment.

    Inserting a lifeline using new Addi Lace Click cables.
    I definitely like the new Addi cables more than KnitPro cables which feel less flexible and much more 'plastic' which of course is very difficult to put across in writing. I'm not sure whether this picture is very much help, but I think you can see that the Addi cable is happier to be flexed.

    GEEKERY - Addi v Knitpro cables

    The Join: The 'clickable' join makes attaching the tips a quick and easy  process and there is no need for the small (and therefore easily misplaced) key which is necessary to tighten KnitPros. However, the click mechanism is not without peril to the uninitiated - on the second row of my lace knitting (whilst budging the little stitches together onto the tip) I managed to wiggle and push simultaneously and the cable popped off. Luckily no stitches were lost, but it changed the way this was done on subsequent rows and now, with a little wiggle to the right OR a little push (but NEVER a wiggle to the left and a push at the same time!), I can move even tiny stitches over the join without incident.

    The join is much more visible than on KnitPros, but for all practical purposes, I haven't found it any more tricky when knitting - the join on KnitPro interchangeables is equally as noticeable when working with fine yarns (the yarn gets stuck in the groove and I've been known to say it "drives me mad" on numerous occasions) and for the first few weeks I wasn't tightening my KnitPros enough so they came undone too, suggesting there is a learning curve with both brands. Some people - especially those with very tight knitting - might have a problem with any of these joins, and for those knitters, fixed circulars are probably the way to go.

    GEEKERY - comparison of Addi Click and KnitPro joins

    Summary: Overall you will probably have noticed that I do prefer the Addis (the click, the cable, the 'set' is nicer and has more of a quality feel). In fact, I haven't reached for any KnitPros (wood or metal) since they arrived, despite the Symphonies looking much prettier and more tactile. I like everything about the Addis, except that there are only 3 cables in the pack and as a polywipamous knitter, I need more than that. As I already have LOTS of different tips and cables for the Symphonies I will continue to use them too - I'll have to.

    There is not a tremendous difference in the cost - when investing in a set of tools that should last for years, a 'tenner' here or there wouldn't be enough to sway my decision either way.  Ultimately they are all good needles and I have been perfectly happy with the Symphonies for the last 2 years... until I tried the Addis!

    If you'd like to try any of these needles for yourself, the lovely folk at are offering Crafts from the Cwtch readers an exclusive 10% discount off any of their needles, and in fact anything else in their store, until March 14th 2013. Simply use the code CWTCH10 at checkout.
    * I do have some KnitPro metal 'Nova' tips but haven't included those here as I have not directly compared them or used them for as many different yarn weights - maybe that's for another post.

    Wednesday, 6 March 2013

    Cwtch-speak lesson 2: Polywipamous

    poly-wip-amous adj
    1. Relating to, characterised by, or practicing polywipamy
    2. Yarn crafts having a tendency to work on multiple knitting and/or crochet projects simultaneously
    Once the 'never-ending socks' were cast off last week I went into a polywipamous frenzy - casting on two little projects from a review copy of an upcoming book (details to follow), making a few more 'multi-puffs' and even a little cochet circle or two. One of the little projects is already finished, so here are my three current works-in-progress...


    I have plans to cast on something else today too, although there is a slight hitch - I haven't decided what  it is. As ever, a few things are calling to me.

    Do I need to mention that I'm still working my way through A Dance With Dragons?  At 1,045 pages it will probably be around for a few weeks yet but I'm enjoying it so much. I'm about half way through and the different threads of the story are all starting to come together so that I really don't want to put it down, but put it down I must in the next few days to begin the our book club choice for this month - the very different Sari Caste. I hope it's good.... or quick! 

    I'll be back tomorrow with some needle geekery and an exclusive reader discount so I hope to see you then. In the meantime, you may like to visit WIP Wednesday and (later) Yarn Along and, if you missed it, my last post - thoughtful gifts for mums.

    Tuesday, 5 March 2013

    5 of the Best: Thoughtful Gifts for Mothers

    I'm sure that, like me, many mums up and down the country are looking forward to Mothers' Day on Sunday - hopefully it will be a relaxing day of feeling loved and cherished. Personally, this is much more important than having a load of shop-bought 'stuff' with MUM emblazoned on it.

    Here are some gift ideas that involve making something for your mum/nan/other mother-figure. They all require a little time and effort but only the minimum of supplies or crafting ability. Of course, taking the children off to make these might give mum another gift on Saturday - some quiet time! So please share these with dads/ aunties/ uncles/ anyone else who might facilitate younger kids.

    1. Put your smartphone (or webcam) to use and record a video interview with children of any age. Ask them questions about their mum such as what she's like, things she likes to do, what they think she was like as a child, their favourite memories of her and any special message they would like to share. Deliver it in person, by email, on DVD or post it to her facebook wall!

    2. Crafty kids might like to make some pom-pom 'flowers' in her favourite colours, like these from Ivey Handcrafted. You don't have to have lots of supplies other than yarn - pom poms can be made with cardboard circles and you could even collect the twigs and decorate the vase (or jar) yourself.

    3. Even the least crafty people should be able to muster some laminate sheets, sticky back plastic or wide sticky tape, and a bit of string. Use it to cover some printed (silly) photos of the family to make DIY Bookmarks like these.

    4. Frame your own artwork or colouring. And if you're not up to it, popular artist Valentina Ramos offers some great colouring downloads and printables on her Facebook page and blog which can be printed for your own use. This pdf and this colouring page are my personal favourites and there are plenty more to choose from.

    5. A box (or other sealed container) of love and kisses. This is one of the first gifts I had from My Boy and still I keep it in my Cwtch four years on. It is very easy to make - just let the child make and/or decorate a container and fill it with hugs and kisses and then either write the label themselves or have it printed if they are too young to write it. 
    Box of love and kisses - a gift from My Boy
    If you have more ideas for simple yet thoughtful gifts, please leave a comment.

    Monday, 4 March 2013

    Darn it! (A first attempt at darning)

    Holey socks, Batman!
    My first socks were finished last January and they have been worn quite regularly, so it should not have been a complete surprise when I spotted the first hole appearing in the heel just over a week ago. Still, I felt quite sad about it. Fortunately the answer came at Unravel in the form of a little wooden darning mushroom and some new needles. Until I had a look at YouTube, I had no idea where to start, but this is what I did after watching a few videos...
    My first attempt at darning!
    It's not perfect by any means, but the hole is fixed and I can do it better next time. For starters,  I should have used an orange section of the yarn. And the loops? Yes, they are excessively long, but you know they make for a very comfortable heel. I'm quite satisfied for my first attempt and thinking that some of the shop-bought socks I've thrown away could have been made to last longer if I'd tried to fix them.

    How long do your handknit socks last before needing repairs? Do you bother fixing socks you didn't make or do you just replace them? 

    Saturday, 2 March 2013

    Say hello in March ...

    Following lovely feedback on last month's 'Say hello' post, I have three more crafters from different backgrounds to introduce you to today - Ruth is a professional designer whose work you may be familiar with, Libby is a blogger whose new feature I'm avidly following, and Michelle is a mum who is just taking the first steps with her handmade trinkets business. I hope you enjoy meeting them all... 
    Hi there! I'm Ruth and I am a full-time knit & crochet designer, technical editor and teacher. I grew up surrounded by fashion, with 2 seamstress grandmothers and a fashion purchasing father. 

    My goal is to create wonderful pieces of wardrobe that stay with you throughout seasons and years, becoming wardrobe staples. I take detailed care in fitting and tailoring, adding extensive sizing to my patterns - most garments encompass from a 30" to a 54" bust. I season my designs with a healthy touch of bright colours and encourage my customers to do the same - brighten up your day with a handmade object!When (if!) I get free time I love dabbling with photography and cooking, reading biographies and books on psychology and philosophy. 

    Feel free to visit me on Facebooktwitter, instagram and my blog

    Hi, I'm Libby aka Truly Myrtle, a mad keen knitter, sewer and general maker of "stuff". I've been blogging at Truly Myrtle for just over a year, sharing my knitting and sewing and having a lot of fun :) I learnt to knit and sew as a child and grew up in a very creative home so it feels natural to spend my spare time (well actually, nearly all my time when I'm not making dinner, cleaning or sorting out squabbles...) making things. Truly Myrtle has been a fantastic way for me to meet new people both locally and all over the world. I live in the UK now, but grew up in New Zealand (my parents and some of my siblings live there) and I've really enjoyed being able to connect with crafters down that end of the world too. I've got four small children and have been a stay at home mum since the eldest was born nearly 11 years ago. My love of knitting took off after he was born and I knit and sew for my kids a fair bit. I think there's nothing nicer than a little person wrapped in wool! Lately I've been teaching my eldest daughter to sew.

    Early this year I decided to embark upon a fairly ambitious, possibly crazy, project, where I create an entire outfit for myself every month. I'm calling it my Handmade Wardrobe project. I've resolved to knit and sew everything in my outfits except my underwear, tights and shoes (although I am very tempted to sew underwear, just not model it!) I'm wearing my January outfit in my picture and I made the lot, right down to my earrings and my ring. Planning an entire outfit has been a fabulous way to work. I love the challenge of creating a whole look and it gives me such a good focus, rather than flitting off in a dozen different directions with a dozen different ideas. My wardrobe is getting a welcome boost after years of pregnancy and breastfeeding and I'm finding I'm actually getting stuff finished. It's been cool to try new things (I tried glass fusing for Outfit 1) and it's also a brilliant excuse to finally make all those lovely patterns I've had my eye on for ages.  During March I'm running a knit along for the cardigan I'm knitting for Outfit 3 - if you fancy joining in, just pop over to Truly Myrtle and let me know. You can also find me on Facebook :)

    Hello, I’m Michelle and very new to crafting.  I’ve started making a few little pieces that have been very popular with local friends and family. My favourite items to make are I.C.E (In Case of Emergency) bracelets and key rings - they’re ideal for days out with little ones.  Each bracelet is made to order and there are lots of lovely beads to choose from - I have a 7 year old son who likes to help pick the beads. All my items are made to order and reasonably priced.  If you’d like to see more, please check out my Etsy shop  and Facebook page.

    If you would like to have your blog or crafty business featured in next month's post, pop over to the Sponsor page for more details. There are a few ways to get involved - either by sponsoring the blog with one of several different banners, or if you fancy a 'link swap' please feel drop me a line to tell me a little about yourself. Have a great 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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