Sunday, 30 June 2013

The YoP is dead! Long live the YoP!

I had hoped that my final post in the "2nd Year of Projects" would be to announce the completion of an outstanding project. Alas not. Between learning to spin, finishing socks and planning the Pick A Boo! Summer Shawl Kal (take a look if you didn't already), I simply didn't get around to it. But that's ok as this has been an incredibly productive year, especially considering my YoP projects are just a proportion of what I have been working on. Back in July my aims were two-fold; to bust my stash, and to work on a few specific listed projects. 

Since then...
- 15 stashbusting projects were completed and another 3 are ongoing
- 6 specified items were crossed off my list
- 3 of the projects were written into my own patterns (several others were improvised but not written-up). Here are some of my favourite FOs from the year and a couple of UFOs...
Not bad! For those of you who like reading lists and details, there is an extensive summary and more pictures on my dedicated YoP page. A few things will now be carried forward, but I'll tell you more about those next week when I talk about the 3rd Year of Projects - yes I'm joining in again, although next year will be different and will also include some spinning goals. 
If you'd like to learn more about the YoP, or to join us for the third year, you can read about it on the Ravelry group. I've added a new graphic to the YoP page which I'm happy for other participants to save and use, if you would like to. 
Saturday, 29 June 2013

"Pick A Boo!" - it's the Summer Shawl KAL 2013

The communal aspect to what is an individual craft continues to amaze me. Each time I take part in a knitalong I feel a sense of connection with the  people - predominantly women - who have passed these traditional skills through generations, and who would have often crafted together. Whilst modern living doesn't always lend itself to physical proximity, I love working 'alongside' friends who might be in the next street or in another part of the world entirely - each working away on our own projects, yet helping one another and exchanging tips and words of encouragement, virtually, as we go along. Combining traditional crafts and modern communications. 

Since the last knitalong ended, I've been (repeatedly) asked when the next would begin and so without further ado I am pleased to present "Pick A Boo!" - the Summer* Shawl Knitalong.


THE PATTERNS: There are 22 different Boo Knits shawls ranging from laceweight, light fingering/3 ply and fingering/4 ply to worsted. Some are available individually, some come as part of a collection and Dragonfly Wings is free to download. Some are more intricate than others, many have (optional) beading, and they are all beautiful. It's up to you which you make. If you don't wear shawls or scarves yourself, you might know someone who would appreciate a beautiful handmade gift. 

Dragonfly Wings (free pattern) & Out of Darkness (£3) - Images from Boo Knits.

You can find all 22 of Bev's designs listed on RavelryWith a motto of "Maximum impact with minimum stress" her patterns are highly rated and well loved. Friends who have made them enthuse that they are clearly written, easy to follow and much less challenging than the finished items would suggest. On a purely selfish level this sounds perfect for a project I'll be knitting in the summer with the kids around! So here are the details...

THE DATES: Cast on any one of the Boo Knits patterns in July or August at a time that suits you. (I'll be starting this week and posting my first blog update on Thursday 4th July.) 

HOW TO 'SHARE': While it's not obligatory to share your progress in order to knit along, it's much more fun when you do. Beginners can find plenty of help, and more advanced knitters can share their skills and experience - I always learn so much this way. Last time we had lots of fun and made new friendships which is what it's really all about. 

I've tried to accommodate the major social networks, as I know everyone has their favourite - so you can select any or all of the following to share your progress. 
If that wasn't enough excitement for you, there is also an awesome prize draw which will be open exclusively to members of the Ravelry group who 'sign up' for this Kal before Friday 5th July - you can click here to do so! If you need any further enticement, sponsors include Boo Knits, Tangled Yarn, and Rosy Retro and I know you are going to love the prizes (which can be posted world-wide).

I hope that you are as excited about this Kal as I am, and for those who were wishing for socks - never fear, we'll be having another sock knitalong in the Autumn, so why not join in and... Pick A Boo!?
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*To our friends in the Southern hemisphere, please don't feel left out, your winter is probably warmer than our summer to date so don't let that put you off!!!!
Friday, 28 June 2013

Do not adjust your screens! (Aka "Ooh La La" Sock Ta-dah!)

Pattern: Hermione's Everday Socks by Erica Lueder (various mods & more pics here)
I have absolutely loved knitting these socks as part of the AYLM Summery Sock KAL. The pattern is very easy to remember (I knit it toe-up and two-at-a-time,  but it's a standard cuff down pattern) which made it the perfect portable project for the last couple of weeks and it seems equally suited to plain or colourful yarn. This is the first time I've used such a bright pooling colours and the result is a really fun and comfy pair of socks that are likely to become favourites. I will definitely be making more. 

Now that the socks are finished I am seriously thinking about the next CftC knitalong which is scheduled for July until the end of August. I'm after a lightweight summer project which is portable and which offers flexibility for different skill levels and tastes. There are two options - a lightweight shawl or a(nother) pair of socks. As we did "Next Step Socks" last time, I would personally prefer the shawl option. We have started talking about patterns on the Ravelry group if you'd like to join in, or you can leave a comment below. 

Thank you for all the lovely comments on yesterday's post about changes to the blog. The development is now finished but there will still be a few tweaks here and there. I'm linking up with Tami today - please pay her a visit for lots more Finished Objects - and the final '2nd Year of Projects'  post is coming up on Sunday, which means it's time to think about the 3rd year. Will you be joining in? 

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Farewell, sweet lady

Over the last year or so, this blog and my (many) social media accounts have been identified by the image I've come to fondly think of as "CftC Lady". We have several things in common including a love of knitting, yarn all over the floor, a penchant for headbands, and red fluffy slippers! Things have been great between us.

Unfortunately, as a stock image, 'my' lady started cropping up on other knitting websites and I took the decision to have something designed that would be unique. Thanks to several recommendations I was able to choose from a few great designers, and found someone* who immediately understood what I wanted and who interpreted my ideas into a cohesive and unique design that I loved at first sight. 
The circle and the C encompassing the yarn represent a Cwtch which is a loving hug and a special place as well as being the name of my craft room. The yarn and stitches speak for themelves and, of course, it's red. The main font is a nod to my love of 50s-style Americana (just like my (red) PT Cruiser). For all these reasons, I am delighted with it.

From previous discussions on the Facebook page, I know that some readers are fond of the lady, and that some of my most regular and loyal blog friends may not be totally happy about her retirement (you know who you are!!!) but I hope you will all welcome the changes and enjoy the latest facelift. 

The new blog template is being installed by Blog Me Pretty on Etsy.  Some older posts may look a little odd while the format is checked, and I've removed some pages for reformatting too - please bear with me, and if there is anything you are looking for but can't find, just let me know. I hope to be back with a finished object tomorrow. See you then! 
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* The designer happens to be the 'siginifcant other' of one of my favourite bloggers - Wink from A Creative Being, and I would recommend him if you're looking for a graphic designer. His online portfolio is being updated but in the meantime, he can be contacted via Wink. 

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

WIPs, Books & Excitement

Imagine the scene. You've been putting off doing the ironing, but get to the point where it HAS to be done. To soften the blow, you get your laptop and cue up the new episode of your favourite podcast. A few minutes in, and THIS happens...
I will admit that I let out a little yelp! This is very exciting. I have mentioned the Must Stash podcast here previously because Stacie and Steph are just lovely and clearly enjoy making it so much - it really feels like you're having a (knit and) natter with friends. If you're visiting for the first time on their recommendation - WELCOME and thank you for stopping by - you have made my day. 

For those who saw yesterday's spinning update you will know to expect little in the way of knitting today, but I'm pleased to show you some progress on Hermione's Everyday Socks. I'm onto the leg and want to make them a little longer before the rib - who knows, I might even have an FO before the end of the week! 
WIPs & books June 26th
As well as the distraction of spinning, I've been reading every night. Almost two years ago I wrote about our friend Dean Crawford /"Deano" and his first novel Covenant, which went on to become a best-seller. This week Dean's new book - The Chimera Secret - has been released (with special low price on the Kindle edition) and his previous (third) book, Apocalypse, is at the top of the iBooks chart. 

Before I move onto these, I've gone back to Immortal - the second book in the Ethan Warner series. It's really good and interesting to read again as I'm currently listening to Dan Brown's Inferno  (while I spin) which covers a lot of the same themes. The last time I mentioned Dean's writing, a lot of readers ccontacted me to say that they loved it, so you might want to take a look. The novels have a great appeal and don't think I am biased in saying that, as lots of people (and critics) seem to agree. 

Well it's time to taxi the kids about, so I had better say goodbye, but not before I quickly mention that my other WIP is a blog make-over. A new layout and a brand new logo will be here over the next few days (my lovely stock-photo lady needs to be retired now that other websites are using the same image).  Please bear with me if things look a little unusual during the transition period! Have a great Wednesday and if you want to check out more WIPs and books, try Tami & Ginny.
Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Spinning Show & Tell: Ready for Colour

It's been another spin-tastic week and I couldn't resist this scrumptious purple BFL/alpaca blend:

BFL / alpaca handspun

Spinning these lovely shades made me think about how to colour my fleece. To help me decide, I spun and plied 50g of North Ronaldsay to use for experimentation. This is how the yarn turned out...

50g North Ronaldsay handspun - undyed

It's a bit thick and thin - I've also been experimenting with spinning and plying, trying different hands (that's really not working out so well - my semi-ambideterity doesn't so easily extend to spinning) and basically messing about with different variations on how to hold it etc.  For now, the process is more important than the outcome which is really quite liberating. In the end this was plied from both ends of a centre-pull ball which was held in my left hand while flicking the spindle with the right (rolling on my thigh isn't going so well either)...

Spinning Show & Tell Tuesday

Next to decide which methods and colours to use to dye it! The Kool Aid tutorial from AYLM looks really simple and effective -  I might give that a try, although dyeing with natural ingredients is really appealing, so that needs more investigation too.

And so onto the fleece. For those missed my previous post, the plan is to see the entire process through 'from fleece to garment' and this week, thanks to YouTube, I figured out how to use handcarders and spun the first few grams (I have washed and dried only a small portion so far), to see how it would turn out. Turing the first tentative rolags into yarn felt like magic, although the carding was slow going - I'm sure there is much room for improvement - and at this rate it would be years before there is enough for a garment. This is what I have so far...

Spinning Show & Tell Tuesday

I'm hoping my friend Christine will help me to use her drumcarder (either the rollers are set too far apart, or I'm doing something wrong!) so that I can do it more efficiently. That should make for much quicker progress.

Thank you to the spinners who linked up their posts last week, it's great to see what others are up to and as I have so much to learn, I'm trying to read as many spinning posts as possible - I also discovered KnittySpin which has a terrific back catalogue of useful articles. If you'd like to link a recent spinning/fibre post, please use the Mr Linky below. Please link back so that your readers can find the other posts too. I'll be back tomorrow with a little knitting progress. Hope to see you then! 



Monday, 24 June 2013

Taking care of business

Untitled

Maybe it's a result of the long winter/ late spring being followed by this dismal "summer", or perhaps the changes happening in our family as the littlest prepares for primary school, but everything feels a little off-kilter at the moment. It's been quieter than usual on the blog - mainly due to other commitments and, when not spinning, most of my creative efforts have been focussed on research/ learning and lots of planning. So what's coming up?

  • Plans for the next Knitalong will be published at the start of July (if you have any preferences/comments, please leave them below this post or on the Ravelry group discussion)
  • The blog will be getting a brand new look in the next week or two
  • I'll be reviewing some online courses next week
  • There are a couple of new recipes/patterns in the works
If you're using Google Reader, remember that it's being retired at the end of the month, and you will need to switch to something else. I'm using Bloglovin' - it's simple, works well and is really easy to switch - you can export all of your favourite feeds from Google Reader with just a few clicks. If you haven't decided what to use, you might like to give it a go, and if you've chosen something else and love it, please let me know what you're using and why so I can check it out. 

I'll be back tomorrow with Spinning Show & Tell (including the linky), hope to see you then. 

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Socks, socks & books!

In light of yesterday's Spinning Show & Tell, it will come as little surprise when I tell you that there has been very little knitting going on this week, but I do have two pairs of socks on the go: 
WIPs and books.
The first are Wendy D Johnson's Diagonal Lace Socks using Drops Fable and the others, which I cast on last week, are my version of Hermione's Everyday Socks in A Stash Addict's Ooh La La Sock yarn. "My version" because I'm simply using my favourite toe-up vanilla sock combined with the reverse stitch pattern of this (free) cuff-down design. As mentioned previously, I'm knitting this pair as part of A Yarn Loving Mama's Summery Sock Kal and am now onto the gusset increases so I'm hopeful for a FO at the end of next week. 

I've been reading quite a bit and have finished The Universe Versus Alex Woods which I really enjoyed - despite it being a novel about assisted suicide. Defintely worth a read - very quirky and some great characters.
Edited: Pictured is The End of Your Life Book Club which I've just started dipping into and forgot to mention - more on that next week.

Today's links are Tami's WIP Wednesday and Ginny's Yarn Along. Enjoy! 
Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Spinning Show & Tell: Obsession

When I'm not spinning (and spinning for an average of 30 mins a day, I am 'not spinning' most of the time) I'm thinking about spinning - or spindles - or fibre. I think this means I'm obsessed. Perhaps not such a huge surprise to regular readers who have seen an increasing number of spinning posts over the last few weeks. Starting today, I'll be posting a "Spinning Show & Tell" on Tuesdays.... although I can't promise not to post about it on any other days too!

So here's what I've been up to this week...

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generous and well-equipped friend loaned me lots of spinning goodies - hoorah! - although the weather has been scuppering plans for the project known as 'from fleece to garment' - I need to dry any washed fleece outdoors but it's been raining (or threatening to) every day. While I wait (for good weather or a house free of people who complain about the sheep smell - neither very likely), I'm researching and planning. Some undyed roving is on the spindle so I can practise playing with colour, and there have been plenty of other things to do. Like spinning and plying the rest of this very rustic Black Welsh Mountain, purchased from Hilltop Cloud

Spinning Show & Tell

Washing and 'thwacking' it to set the twist (thanks Chrissy for teaching me the technical term!), and letting it dry alongside the Gray Jacob I had already plied. Yes, you can see the hour of sun we had earlier in the week in the picture!

Spinning Show & Tell

I also finished spinning and plied the BFL from Shamu Makes - and yes, it is as squidgy as it looks!

Spinning show & tell

I wanted to learn to spin in order to knit with the handspun, but it's become much less about the outcome and more about the process. It's so relaxing, there are no patterns to risk messing up when the kids are making a lot of noise, and there is a surprising sense of achievement. I really don't know what I'm going to make with this lot - there isn't very much here, and they were all spun to learn to spin, rather than with the aim of being particularly useable. I will do something with them. 

Finally, my trindle is on the way from the States (fingers crossed that it's not excessively delayed by customs) and I have the most GORGEOUS fibre ready - Anne Boleyn, from the Hilltop Cloud Queen's Collection - which I'm hoping to spin on it for the Tour de Fleece

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Well that's my update. I'll be back with some little knitting WIPs tomorrow. I'm on the lookout for great blogs with spinning content, so I'd love to have some posts to read. If anyone would like to 'Show & Tell' their recent spinning, here's a Mr Linky:

Thanks for visiting today. Hope to see you again soon! 
Saturday, 15 June 2013

A colour fix

The skies have been colourless for much of June, and so in the absence of blue skies with fluffy clouds, it has been necessary to get my 'nature fix' elsewhere. The positive to the (unseasonal) wet weather is that the grass is a lush green and the garden is blooming with colour.

Roses

Roses

Despite many different roses of various shades (all planted by the previous rose-loving owners), the colour of the alliums and humble chives is hard to beat...

Alliums



In fact, they may have been responsible for an impulse purchase from A Stash Addict - a skein of Ooh La La sock yarn, which is becoming a pair of (modified) Hermione's Everyday Socks as part of A Yarn Loving Mama's Summery Sock Kal 2013. It's a cuff-down pattern but I'm just using the (reversed) stitch pattern on my usual vanilla socks. It's quick and fun and creating a lovely texture which I think works well with the bright variegated yarn.

New socks

I love the way the colours are pooling and can't wait to get back to knitting them later - although I also have the first lot of washed fleece drying and some AMAZING new fiber has just arrived in the post and want to get on with some spinning. Too many crafts and not enough time! What are you doing this weekend? I hope you're enjoying it, whatever it is. 
Wednesday, 12 June 2013

I have a friend....

SOUTHDOWN SHEEP, FLEECE, WOOL
Image Source: British Wool Marketing Board
...no, that's not her in the picture! She is a lovely lady who lives close-by - let's call her C - who has children of a similar age, and shares an interest in all things crafty. Today I'm going to introduce you to a new (long-term) WIP that C is responsible for. For the last month or so, she has been following my spinning progress and after a brief conversation in a corridor, sent me the following text...

A spinner's dream message???

So today I find myself with a HUGE bag containing a whole fleece. Anyone who has worked with fleece, or been in close proximity sheep, will be familiar with the unique aroma. Needless to say, it's going to be living outside while I figure out exactly what to do with it!

The fleece is from a local Southdown Sheep (pictured above) which my trusty British Sheep & Wool Guide tells me is a breed established in the UK, pre-17th century, but improved in the 1800s particularly by the work of John Ellman of Glynde. Apparently the wool is extremely fine and dense and has a very soft handle. It's a true local breed - the sheep it came from lives in the Sussex Downs where the breed has roamed for centuries. I have long said that I'd like to see the process of 'fleece to garment' through from start to finish and now that I can knit and spin AND I have a fleece, there are no real excuses not to get on with it.

Of course, there is more to it than just spinning and knitting. This huge bag of smelly fleece will need to be washed, carded, dyed and spun. At this point, I'm not even sure which order it should be done in or what else might need to be done to it!! I feel excited and perhaps just a little overwhelmed - but I love researching and trying out new things so it should be interesting. The plan is to be able to make something which is 'beautiful and unique' at the end of the process - although at this point I have no idea what it will be. If you have any great resources / hits / tips for this transformative process, please leave a comment.

From Fleece to Garment

I'll be blogging my progress at each stage (I seem to write about spinning on Tuesdays, so keep an eye out for updates then if it's something you're interested in) and tagging any pictures on Instagram using #fromfleecetogarment .

There is nothing new on my needles so far this week, but I've been turning a stunning skein of yarn into two balls to start a new pair of socks. I'll show you more on that, and the book I have almost finished, in the next WIP Wednesday update.
Tuesday, 11 June 2013

On the spindles and in the bowl

After almost a week of no spinning (half term!), I realised why it's important to do a little each day - it was much more tricky to continue to spin at the same thickness when I eventually started again yesterday - especially as I am working on two different fibres and spindles. Here are the first halves of each (with a filter applied to make it clearer):

On the spindles

It's not obvious from the photo, but the green should ply into fingering weight and the black into DK(ish) weight. I'd heard many times that once you start to spin more finely, it's harder to make it thicker again,  and at this point, I would agree. Each day I hope that my Trindle might turn up so I can try to spin some really fine singles - there's a thrill in seeing how thin it can go before snapping, but my spindles are both too heavy, and it inevitably drops before I want it to.

So little balls of plied yarn and singles are slowly appearing on my shelves, it's fun to see how different they look. For the first time today I put the three completed yarns side by side and I think I need to add more twist when I ply the next one . The purple/brown yarn on the right was my last, and I don't think it's as good as the grey Jacob, although I have knitted with it and it was fine - what do you think?

Handspun yarns 1, 2 & 3 - definite progress!

It occurred to me that since starting to spin, I have less inclination to knit. Does anyone else find this? I think it's partly due to time constraints - there's really only time for one or the other - and partly because spinning is just so relaxing. Plus I can't wait to move onto these beauties (from Shamu Makes)...

Bowl of fibre :)
Sunday, 9 June 2013

Year of Projects Update #23: Looking Forward

It's been a month since my last YoP update and amidst various other things, during that time I've finished two of the projects I was using to bust my stash. My socks were finished (and blogged) last week, and today I completed the Neapolitan Hitchhiker which was cast on in May... 


I was quite unsure about using this discontinued self-striping yarn from Regia, but it looks ok, straight off the needles. The fabric is very sturdy, and would probably have benefited from being knit on bigger needles, but it will be warm and cosy so I'm satisfied with it anyway - it was a TV knitting project (and hence has the requisite mistakes from lack of concentration - ie too many rows between some of the teeth) but has served it's purpose in using up some stash yarn. 

With only a few weeks left before the end of this 'year', I've been looking back over my list of completed projects and am surprised at how many things I've made - if you'd like to take a look, the list is here although not all of the pictures are up to date. I will be continuing into the 3rd Year of Projects and am starting to think about my list which will definitely include some more stash busting and also some spinning/using handspun. If you'd like to join in too, you can find out more on the Ravelry group - it's a lot of fun and you can list as many or as few goals as you like for the year. Go on, you know you want to!!!! 
Friday, 7 June 2013

5 of the Best: for the weekend

Here are my top 5 picks for the weekend - enjoy!

SOMETHING TO LINGER OVER: Laylock.org is written by Derya Davenport who I have been following on Twitter for ages (she tweets entire knitting pattens in 140 characters or less!) but it was only this week that I took some time to look around her blog... and I love it! There are some beautiful patterns, lots of useful printables and downloads and stunning photography. Check it out - I think you'll love it too. 

SOMETHING TO READ: Issue 28 of Mollie Makes is on the shelves and it's vintage themed with a retro 80's jumper pattern (knitting), handerchief make-overs and a bow brooch kit (crochet), and these gorgeous rockerbilly dolls (sewing) plus lots more.

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SOMETHING TO MAKE: It's not quite warm enough for bare shoulders, so this lovely 'Something Lacy' shrug pattern might make a useful weekend project. It's pretty, quick to knit and has a simple consturuction... and the pattern is free to download.

(c) Vera Sanon - Source: Ravelry

SOMETHING TO WATCH: I am totally hooked on the Must Stash Podcast - the hosts are so lovely and if you get your knitting and a cuppa (or a glass of something cold) you could almost be at a friend's house. This is a relatively new video podcast and so there are only a few to catch up on.

SOMETHING TO DO: If you have plenty of time on your hands, why not learn a new skill? You already know I'm a huge fan of Craftsy and as a result of enjoying the flexibility to learn online at home and at my own pace, I'm also revewing some courses by The Amazings. These are online (and real life) classes from a team of "Elders" - ie skilled craftspeople over 50. I'll tell you more about them on another occasion, but you might want to check out the link in the sidebar (at the time of writing) as they are currently offering the first class for free.

Well that should be enough to keep you out of trouble for a couple of days. For those who can get to London for the WWKiP event, I hope you have a wonderful time. I won't be able to make it, but you can follow my antics on Instagram - I'm doing something exciting, and will also be looking out for people knitting in public!

What are you doing this weekend?

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Socks, books & collapsible balls

WIPs
The week after any school holiday is generally a slow one for crafting, and this is no exception. There has been no spinning (!) and only my new handbag socks have had any attention at all. I'm knitting Wendy D Johnson's Diagonal Lace Socks and they are, as predicted, simple enough to pick up and put down frequently. When I posted about Wendy's patterns last week a lovely reader commented that she was looking for something similar to download, rather than needing a whole book, and so for anyone else in the same position here's Wendy's website - there are lots of great free sock patterns which you can download immediately.

Dealing with collapsible balls (!!)
Following other posts about knitting two socks - or three or four multipuffs - on a long circular needle at the same time, I've had feedback that people find it hard to prevent the different balls of yarn from tangling. I find the easiest way to avoid this is by turning the work clockwise after the first side, and then anticlockwise after the second side. This puts one twist in the yarns and then untwists it. I usually wind centre-pull balls, and this works really well, as there is little/no rolling around when the yarn is pulled from the ball.

For the current socks, I'm using Drops Fable Spray Paint (pink/brown) which came in the type of ball that is prone to prolapse. In this case I have put both balls in mesh bands to lend extra support and am knitting from the centre of the ball as normal, but I am also working from a RosyRetro project bag which has poppers along the top...
WIPs
If you look at the picture again, you will see that the yarn is held between the (closed) poppers and this keeps the two strands apart and makes it really easy to manage, especially when knitting with more than two balls - or from both ends of a single ball. (I have a few of these bags and love them - they also come with really cute snag-free stitch markers and very prompt delivery!)

No doubt you will have noticed the stunning Fyberspates yarn also pictured. I really could not resist 1,500m of silky goodness, but as yet am not sure what to make with it. Do you have any suggestions? 

Finally, I have just finished reading The Age of Miracles, a coming-of-age tale set during an unforeseen global catastrophe. The spin of the earth has started to slow and the effects on nature, the human body and psyche, are explored through  the story of 11 year old Julia, her family and friends. Time - as we know it - has become meaningless and society is irreversibly changed. I was gripped from the start - the novel is as compelling as it is chilling - a stark reminder that we are at nature's mercy and our whole lives could change without warning. I would certainly recommend this book for teens or adults - it's well written and very thought-provoking. 

P.S. Spell-check doesn't check the post title for typos!!!!! *d'oh!* 

Monday, 3 June 2013

Knitting in Public

As someone with the time-constraints of a young family, lots of waiting around for said family and a low boredom threshold, it is absolutely necessary for me to knit in public and not really something that I think about. I tend to carry my knitting with me most of the time (it's why there are an increasing number of handmade socks in my cupboard!) and I love how it opens up lots of conversations with strangers and children - they are especially fascinated. 

It would seem that not all knitters do, in fact, knit in public - perhaps there are even "closet knitters" out there - who knows. I'm not sure why this would be so. Either way, next week would be the perfect time to banish any doubts and proclaim to the world "I'm a knitter and I'm proud" for it is World Wide Knit in Public "week" from 8th - 15th June.

This annual celebration began in 2005 as a way for lone knitters to get together in a local setting in the spirit of friendship and solidarity (and also to show that all types of people knit - something a little boy who recently asked me if I'm "a granny" might have found enlightening).

This year the tradition will continue with various events taking place all over the world - all run by volunteers. You can find out about any events local to you by visiting the official website - www.wwkipday.com and there is also a Facebook Group. Of course if there isn't a local WWKiP event near you, you might even like to host your own!

If you can get to London on Saturday 8th June, there will be a fantastic event taking place in St Pancras International Station concourse from 10am until 5pm which is being hosted by loveknitting.com and Rowan. There will be two fantastic workshops lead by Rowan's Sarah Hatton, lots of goody bags and a chance to win an amazing hamper too - everyone is invited, including complete novices. If you fancy it, you can read all about it here

Unfortunately I already have other important plans that day, so I'm going to be knitting in public elsewhere (why does that always happen?) - I'll tell you more about that next week!

EDIT: I found some great resources for WWKiP on Craftsy and will post more info shortly!
Sunday, 2 June 2013

Pinning it Forward and some tips for new Pinners!

Pin It Forward UK 2013

You have probably seen the "#Pin it Forward UK" icon on various blogs over the past few weeks, and today I'm delighted to tell you a little more about it, and also to say a big welcome to anyone visiting for the first time as a result of this fun initiative from Pinterest. My thanks to Lindy of Lindy's cakes for my introduction yesterday!

 

If you've been here for a while you'll know that I was a relatively early Pinterest adopter and have been "pinning" for over two years. For anyone who is still not sure what it is - quite simply, Pinterest is a tool for collecting and organising things that you love. Millions of people use the website and/or apps to plan projects, create mood boards, compile wish lists and keep a track of all sorts of things. It can be very inspirational and, in my case, quite addictive.



I pin some things for my own future reference and some because I think people following the board might find them useful. I pin when I'm researching or planning a project, or just because I find something beautiful. My boards all have different raisons d'être - I currently curate 46 boards with over 2,800 pins. There are crafty boards (crochet, gorgeous knits, useful things, yarn storage to name a few) and other random things which are totally unrelated such as hairstyles, kitchen ideas and one board entitled "I just love it, that's all" which started out with a cute kitten and now seems to have become full of tattoos! Browsing Pinterest over the last cup of tea of the day has become a nightly ritual.

Pinterest logo


If you would like to give Pinterest a try, but don't know where to start, here is what you need to know:

  • You can join Pinterest here (using your email address or by linking to facebook/twitter). TIP: If you are linking to a social media account you may like to set your preferences so that your pins don't all post to your feed/ timeline which can be very annoying for your friends - especially if you become a frequent user!
  • Once you have set up your account, search for people (or brands) you already like and 'follow' them so you can see what they have been pinning each time you log in.
  • Use the search option to look up keywords, or if your interests fall into one of the pre-set categories (see image below) use that to browse for pins you might like.
  • Click on any images you find interesting to go to the original website and if you like what you find, you may want to repin it for future reference.
  • Start pinning your own 'finds' to your boards. TIP: New boards are automatically set as 'public' which means that anyone might see what you've pinned. For the most part this is recommended, as the sharing aspect is what makes this so much more fun and useful than a personal scrapbook. However there are times when you might not want this and it's now possible to set up a limited number of 'private' boards (e.g. a friend of mine started pinning baby items long before making any official announcement!)
  • You can add a 'pin it' button to many common web browsers so that you can add things you come across whenever you are using the internet. If you're using a Pinterest app and are looking for something in particular, you can also search the web from the built-in browser so it's easy to pin the things you find.
  • Many websites have "pin it" buttons next to their products and articles - you can use these to add things to your own boards. TIP: If you have a blog of your own, you might like to make it easier for people to pin your posts by adding 'pin it' widgets to relevant posts (like I have, above). Pinterest is a great way of driving traffic to a blog and some of my recent posts have had a startling number of hits after being repinned many times.

I could write about this all night, but that should be enough for starters and the rest will follow, which means it's now time to Pin it Forward! I'm going to pass the virtual torch to two lovely craft bloggers whose Pinterest boards you may also want to follow. The first is Jessica of Yiskah Knits - she has an absolutely beautiful blog full of all sorts of loveliness (knitting, food, various DIY tutorials...) and lots of great pins. Secondly, please say hello to Kate of Mini Eco - where you'll find lots of eco crafting, kid friendly projects, fun tutorials and printables. You can find Kate's pins here.

Thanks for stopping by today - I have lots of posts planned for the coming week so stay tuned and happy pinning!

 

Saturday, 1 June 2013

One afternoon and £50 for a room makeover

Last week I had an email inviting me to join in with the Room for Improvement competiton hosted by MoneySupermarket.com. The brief was simple - to improve one room in my house... for only £50! Considering our recent kitchen makeover cost a small fortune, I knew that the £50 limit would be a real challenge, and on top of that I had only one week to complete my transformation... and I'd be away for part of it! Considering the time and financial constraints, there was only one room I could consider - the Cwtch. It ended up being 'made-over' in just one afternoon. After enrolling Mum's help, this is what we did yesterday.

BEFORE: A tiny cluttered room which is visible from the entrance hall of the house and didn't create a great first impression. 
#roomforimprovement makeover
When we moved in, this little space was the dumping ground for things that didn't really 'go' anywhere else, so the 'decor' has been organic rather than designed. I set out with a few aims to solve the most obvious problems: 
  1. To make the room look neat and less cluttered while still having everything to  hand.
  2. To clear the windowsill behind the sofa.
  3. To remove the clutter from the door, while keeping my things accessible.
  4. To make the sofa look less like a bed (ie get rid of the pink bedspread), and more co-ordinated with the rest of the room.
  5. Any changes had to be in keeping with the vintage cabinet previously rescued from the recycling, so modern-looking things were definitely out! 
WHAT WE BOUGHT: 
  • £5 - Folding wooden table from charity shop. This was my first find and the perfect size for my laptop. When I'm not using it, it folds up small enough to slot between the sofa and the cabinet. 
  • £3 - Hanger for the back of the door from TK Maxx - (damaged / some ceramic beads missing). With everything hanging on the back of the door, it's all out of sight from the hallway and it doesn't matter that there are missing beads, although they would be easy enough to replace with fimo. 
  • £19.99 - Blue throw from TK Maxx. It's woollen, it's blue and it has stripes the same colour as my cushions. What's not to love? 
  • £22 - Vintage cabinet - half price sale in charity shop!!!
#roomforimprovement make over

#roomforimprovement makeover
The cabinet was definitely the best find. We had stopped off at a charity shop on the road to Horsham, not expecting to find anything affordable and there happened to be a half price sale on "selected items" that day. Most large furniture was excluded and way over budget - until we spotted this at the back of the store. We couldn't believe it was only £22 and quickly reserved it before finding out the delivery charge would be £20 - too much for our budget.

Thankfully the lovely staff held onto it until we went back in D's Land Rover and managed to bring it home ourselves. A bit of glue and wrapping paper later and I love it. Some pretty vintage wallpaper would have been better - but it was necessary to work with what we had!

The cabinet is big enough for all my things (the cupboard at the bottom is hiding a multitude of papers and magazines) and looks so much nicer than the rickety old bookshelf that was there before. Most importantly it totally feels in keeping with my other storage and the vintage vibe and somehow, it has made the room feel bigger. 

WHAT WAS REUSED:
AFTER: Considering the limitations on this makeover I am really pleased with what we managed to do. I think it does look much less cluttered, and more cohesive - plus it feels really cosy... 
#roomforimprovement makeover
#roomforimprovement makeover
There are still some things I would like to do (a café curtain at the window, another bowl jumper for the wooden bowl on the cabinet...)  but they won't be finished within the time limit (or budget) for the competition. I'm really pleased to have been invited to participate - the room really needed a facelift and it gave me the motivation to get on with it. I wouldn't have imagined £50 could make such a difference! 
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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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