Sunday, 29 December 2013

Snippets (from Christmas): Out of darkness

So how was your week? It's fair to say that our Christmas didn't go quite to plan. On December 23rd most of southern England was hit by heavy rain and severe wind, leaving us as one of over 20,000 homes in Sussex and Surrey without power. It wasn't just the electricity and heating that stopped working - the mobile phone masts were down, landlines didn't work and many of the roads out of our village were blocked by floods, fallen trees and power lines. Roads were in complete darkness without street lights, and we had to drive approximately five miles in heavy rain to make contact with anyone, including my sister whose journey was diverted four times, so that she didn't make it here in time for Christmas Day. Thankfully we have candles, a gas hob and a gas fire, so we fared better than many and managed to keep a sense of humour until just before midnight on Christmas eve when the lights came back on and some kind of normality was restored. 
Xmas Snippets - the blackout after the storm
Despite all of this we managed to have a pleasant week, and didn't even eat too much! Top gifts this year were my spinning wheel (more about that on Tuesday), some singing minions and a Lego X-wing. In fact, if I were to use one word to describe our Christmas, it would have to be "Lego-tastic" - there was a lot of Lego - the kids will be looking like it soon! 
Lego-tastic Christmas
The weather has improved over the last few days - my sister finally arrived on Boxing Day and we've managed to get out and about now that the roads are mostly clear. A visit to the coast certainly helped to blow away the cobwebs yesterday.
On the beach
So all in all not a bad Christmas and certainly one we will remember. With the end of the month approaching fast, we are starting to look forward to the new year... and wondering what that may bring.

I'll be back next week with some (fairly hideous neon) knitting I cast on in the dark, very dubious-looking beginners' spinning (not all of it mine), and some of my favourite things from 2013. Hope to see you soon.
Friday, 20 December 2013

Snippets: It's beginning to look a lot like CHRISTMAS!

On my mind: the week has flown by so quickly and been so full, that I've not finished the drafted blog posts that I'd planned to publish earlier this week. I wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who favourited, shared and downloaded Little Bear's Porridge, sending it into the "top 5 hot right now" chart on Ravelry within the first 24 hours and keeping it in the top 20 since then. The response and some wonderful messages from people who have downloaded it (almost 3,500 downloads as I write), have been overwhelming.  

On the tree: Stocking made by My Boy (three years ago), Bear based on a pattern from Little Cotton Rabbits, two snowmen and Googly Santa from the patterns I designed for Black Sheep Wools, a vintage sock made by my mum 25+ years ago (there's a lovely little sock pattern here if you want to make something similar) also the felt bauble/gift tag I made for D last year. I was suprised - and pleased - when I realised there were so many handmade things on there and that not all of them were my work. Next year I fancy a 'make a dec' project so all of the family can make somthing to add to the growing collection.  
On the needles: some more swatches for a couple of new designs (I may have the bug!) and some socks that really should be finished before Christmas, but probably won't be.

On the KindleThe Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design, the new Dean Crawford novel Revolution and I just finished Eleven which saw me through a few late nights. 

On the camera roll: Not a single decent picture of the gifts I made for the teachers - aaarrggghhh! But there is a picture of a sonic screwdriver which has somehow made it's way into my crochet hook jar, and you can just about make out the pile of cowls and brooches in the background... if you squint! 
Yes, it's certainly been one of those weeks (the manic type, where you forget the day and miss appointments, forget what you went to the shop for and get into a muddle at every opportunity) and I'm sure it'll only get more crazy over the next few days, so if this is the last opportunity I get to wish you all a very happy holiday (whatever you celebrate) please know that I am sending out my best wishes to you and yours, and if I'm not back before Christmas, I'll see you on the other side! Sarah xxx
Monday, 16 December 2013

Design Notebook: Little Bear's Porridge

Since taking a pattern writing class in April I've been planning to do more designing, but it took a nudge from a fellow-blogger (you know who you are, thank you!) to finally get me into action. I had so much fun coming up with this over the last few weeks and wanted to share a little about the process and background by way of introduction to the pattern, which is called Little Bear's Porridge.

The Design Process:
Loving the oversized scarves and cowls I've been seeing everywhere, and inspired by the wonderful textures and rustic materials in the Katniss-Inspired knitwear post, I wanted to make something that would follow these trends, but which would be easy to knit and easier to wear - I prefer multi-purpose garments, so it had to be something neutral, which could be worn as an oversized scarf, as a shawl, or secured with a pin / button to be worn as a structured cowl.

I wanted something supersized and with a textured pattern, but didn't fancy long complicated rows which may not be as accessible to new knitters, and so the idea of using joined motifs came about. Squares, which wouldn't take too long to knit, would certainly make it more interesting and more 'do-able'. Once squares were in my mind, I couldn't get them out and the design was quickly decided on. It was originally called "squares within squares" - you can see why from the initial diagram (although I think the second 'square' may technically be a rhombus).

While swatching, it quickly became obvious that the 'wrong' side looked just as nice as the 'right side' and so the final design is made up of alternating knit and purl sections and is reversible, meaning you can throw it on and snuggle up any-which-way!

When the yarn* arrived and knitting began in earnest, I couldn't stop thinking of porridge - not only the colour but also the lovely texture, the warmth and how perfect it would be for a cold winter morning. In fact it was "just right", like Little Bear's Porridge in the classic fairy tale.

Little Bear's Porridge - join and crochet details
The Pattern:
I am really pleased with how this design has turned out and know it will get lots of wear - I hope you will like it too. If you would like to make your own (or perhaps you are still looking for a suitable Christmas gift for someone, it doesn't take too long!) the pattern is available to download from Ravelry. and Craftsy.

The folks at are offering an exclusive 15% discount when you buy yarn for this project before the end of January 2014. Simply enter the code PORRIDGE at checkout. After swatching and many deliberations, I think Rowan Drift is the perfect match for this pattern, but the exclusive discount will also apply to alternative yarns, so there is something to suit all budgets - these yarns all knit to the same gauge: Stylecraft Life Super Chunky, Hayfield Super Chunky with wool, Stylecraft Swift Knit Super Chunky, Sirdar Indie and Sirdar Kiko.

*Many thanks to for providing yarn support and a list of alternative yarn suggestions, in addition to the generous discount code for readers. Thanks also to my friend Charlotte who stood outside on a cold, wet and windy day with a big smile on her face! 
Sunday, 15 December 2013

Have yourselves a stash-busting little Christmas

There's nothing like a looming end-of-term to get the crochet juices flowing (so much quicker than knitting!) and this week I've been hooking like crazy to get some gifts made. With two down and three to go I'm feeling quietly confident - this is just a little peek but I'll show you the FOs next week.
A stashbusting Christmas
Of course the other great thing about small hand-made gifts is that these are great stash-busters and count towards my Year of Projects goals. If you're looking for some nice (quick!) gifts that you can make before Christmas, here are a few from my favourites list: how about A Very Braidy Cowl, Grey Gardens one-skein entrelac headband, Gift-card-igans or this lovely Cable iPad Cosy. Of course there's always my own Cwtchy Cable Armwarmers pattern which is available as a free download.

I'll be back tomorrow with the pattern details for my latest design - 'Little Bear's Porridge' - I'm really hoping the sun comes out for some photos this afternoon... but it's not looking terribly likely. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, whatever your weather!
Friday, 13 December 2013

A peek...

Unusually, I have not one but TWO finished objects today. Unfortunately, one is a gift which I can't show you until next week, and the other is still wet. Here's a peek from earlier today when it was having a quick soak...
Having a soak
Yes, my latest design is blocking and I am completely smitten with it - I hope it's dry before we head out to the annual pantomime tomorrow afternoon, because I REALLY want to wear it. (It's currently stretched across the sitting room floor, giving off the comforting scent of damp sheep - Archie has been banished as he wants to sit on it.) As soon as it's dry and photographed I'll be back with more pictures and a link to the pattern. There'll be a discount code too, if you want to get your hands on some of this scrummy yarn. Hope to see you back here soon for the ta-dah!  
Wednesday, 11 December 2013

What's warm, squishy and looks like porridge ...?

After last week's swatching, my latest design is well under way. In fact the pattern is written and I'm  checking it through and making final adjustments while knitting the sample in this delicious porridge-like yarn (warm, comforting and perfect for cold mornings). It's the second time I've used Rowan Drift and it's just lovely in this shade (China Clay 911) - a definite change from my usual sock yarn and thin needles - and because I couldn't decide which side of the work I loved the most, it's a reversible design.
WIPs and books: what's warm and squishy...?
All being well, the FO will be ready to show you at the end of the week, especially as I just finished my latest book Replica by Lexi Revellian. I borrowed it from the Kindle Owner's Lending Library (if you have a Kindle and are an Amazon Prime member, you'll be eligible for this, you can access the books from your device and borrow one per month). It is a quick read and quite fun, basically a cat-and-mouse story, which I read in a few sittings. I have lots of other books in my queue that I can't wait to get started on... but first I must finish that knitting! 
Monday, 9 December 2013

Festive Gift Guide 2013: For the Yarn-Crafter

Following a terrific response to last week's gift ideas for spinners, today's installment of the Festive Gift Guide includes a small selection of the many lovely things I've spotted for yarn-crafters (I'll be honest, these are things on my own wishlist!). The items shown here have been selected from different countries, to reflect blog readership - please check the location and contact the seller if you're hoping to get delivery before Christmas. (These lovely items are best viewed in a web browser, you may not see them properly on a mobile device. Hover for details and click to visit the seller's Etsy page.)

Edited to add: This comment was left below - happy shopping! 
Hi! thanks for suggesting my furoshiki bag, what a nice surprise! For this reason I would like to offer to your readers a DISCOUNT of 15% entering the code CWTCH15 at checkout, valid until December 12th!
Thank you so much! Silvia -

You can find more hand-crafted gift ideas on this Etsy page where I'm curating a number of different lists. I'll be back later this week with some book recommendations, last minute gifts you can make and, if I can avoid the housework for long enough, a brand new design of my own. Have a great Monday!  
Friday, 6 December 2013

To friends, old and new...

If you read Simply Knitting magazine and have already bought / downloaded* the new January issue, you may have spotted the lovely feature from Judy Darley (p70-71) about how I find time to knit. (My Boy is very excited to have his picture in a magazine, and I suspect will want it for "Show & Tell" on Monday.) It's quite odd to see my words and pictures in physical print, because I still can't quite believe anyone reads my blog, nevermind wanting to interview me for magazines and such. 

Reading the article made me think that this would be a perfect time to say a big thank you to everyone who regularly visits. Being a part of the CftC community - leaving your generous comments, helping with knitting problems, joining the knitalongs and generally being a lovely bunch - means such a lot. For starters, it means I'm not just talking to myself several times a week!

If you're visiting for the first time after reading the article then a great big hello and WELCOME to you. You might like to start with the Tips & Tutes page and the Patterns page, as they link to the most popular posts. You can also explore the archives by category tag here.  I hope you enjoy your visit and that you'll come again soon. 

There are some more exciting things coming up in the next few months - I'll keep you posted. 
*If you haven't tried a digital version before, you can get a two-month free trial of Simply Knitting from the iTunes newstand and you can also purchase a Zinio issue too. 
Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Swatching & lists

The last few weeks have been filled with all sorts of exciting things, and very many lists - Christmas lists, shopping lists, to-do lists, lists of things to get ready before the end of term (costumes, teacher gifts), lists of blog posts to publish, and so it goes on.

Despite the lists, do you know what I've been doing? You may not believe it when I tell you, but.... I've been swatching! Yes, ME - swatching! I know, it's rather uncharacteristic but it's actually incredibly enjoyable - different yarns, needles, stitch combinations. I'm not ready to show you any more than this at the moment, but you can expect some new designs to be popping up soon!
Swatching. And more swatching.
There has also been some late-night reading. I starteMr Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore at the weekend and got so carried away it's already finished (and I have the eye-baggage to prove it!). It's the tale of a tech-loving nerd whose web design job falls through, so he goes to work in a shop filled with antiquated books... but he quickly realises that all is not what it seems. There are only a few customers and they don't actually buy anything, instead borrowing books which he is forbidden to look at. Using his tech know-how and the almighty power of Google, he sets about on an epic journey of discovery. I won't tell you any more, but if you love the smell of  books, yet read on a Kindle (like me!) you will probably find a lot to relate to as well as enjoying the story.

I have some craft books to tell you about too, but that'll have to wait for another post as I'm almost late for puppy school! Back soon...
Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Festive Gift Guide 2013: Gifts for Spinners

In my 'gift-knitting formula' post, I mentioned how much enjoyment I get from giving (and getting!) handmade gifts, so for this year's Festive Gift Guide I'm including as many handcrafted / independent sellers as possible. When it comes to spinning this is easy, as most of the lovely things I have bought or am coveting are from Etsy. For this, the first part of the FGG 2013, I've put together some things which I think would make lovely gifts for those who'd like to learn to spin and who have already made a start. Here are some of my favourites (you may notice there are a few I've already gifted to myself!)...

The featured items are all taken from the Spinning & Fluff Etsy page I'm curating, where you can find a lot more! You can "follow" the page to keep up to date with new items which will be added regularly (especially when I get the spinning wheel which is currently sitting in the corner of the bedroom in a massive box which I am not allowed to open until 25th).

I'll be back throughout December with more festive gift ideas including items for knitters, crocheters and book lovers as well as children and the impossible-to-buy-for men in your life! Spinning Show & Tell will resume in the new year - my thanks to those who have already posted links and come back each week to comment and encourage. 
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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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