Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Over to You: Claire Torbett

A little while ago I invited readers who did not already have a blog to submit a crafty 'Show & Tell' they would like to share. I was delighted when the following post arrived in my inbox from Claire, because I too wasted spent many hours on Sudoku in the years BC (Before Crafting)! Here's what Claire had to say:

Why Crochet is Better than Sudoku...
I’ve never been very good at sitting still. Once the children are in bed, dinner’s been had and tidied up after and the TV is on, I get twitchy hands. I’ve surfed the internet, completed jigsaws and solved a serious quantity of Sudoku puzzles in a bid to keep my hands and mind busy. In May 2011, I decided I need something new. I like learning but what to choose? Going out in the evenings is difficult due to my husband’s long hours and two small children (one only three months old at the time) so it need to be something to do at home. A few friends on an internet forum crocheted.Young people. People like me. I liked what they produced but have never considered myself a “crafty” person and didn’t think I’d be much good at it. Nonetheless, I decided to give it a whirl.

I reserved a book at the library, bought a 3.5mm hook and some double knitting yarn and set to it with my book, advice from crocheting friends and some YouTube tutorials. It was hard to get started: the yarn needed holding a certain way; the hook had to go in this gap, not that one and the finished swatch was, well, wonky. But soon I got the hang of it and I was hooked (pun intended!).

What have I got to show for my new crochet habit? Blankets (many), hats (lots), toddler jumpers and cardigans, scarves, bowls, snowmen, snowflakes, apples, pears, a pumpkin, a mug cosy, crab and octopus finger puppets, cakes and a fried egg. Oh, and a cupboard full of yarn and some pretty, shiny hooks! What have I got to show for my old Sudoku habit? Completed grids of numbers and an average time of just over 7 minutes on the expert level of my phone app. 

People are nice about my crochet. They show an interest in what I’m doing and what I’ve done. They touch and examine what I’ve made and say nice things about it. They’ve asked me to make things for them. I can give original gifts. It makes me smile. People care and it’s great. I’ve met lots of people through my new hobby which helped a lot when we moved to Belgium two years ago. 
I still do Sudoku from time to time but no one’s bothered when you’ve completed a Sudoku puzzle - not even the REALLY hard one on the very back page!

All images are (c) Claire Torbett, used with permission. If you'd like to submit a 'Show & Tell' of your own for consideration there are a few more slots available, so please email me
Monday, 28 July 2014

The Creative Blog Hop

Last Monday, Wink from A Creative Being tagged me in a new blog hop. Today I'm delighted to welcome any new readers who may be here as a result, and to tell you more about my current projects and creative process. (The blog hop involves answering questions about my creations, but I've written it as a piece of prose rather than using the typical Q&A format.)

It's the school holidays for the next six weeks. This equates not only to very little time alone but also constant interruptions and plenty of noise! My expectations have been managed accordingly and I'm planning only a few little things for the next month and a half:
- Compiling project ideas/patterns for the school knitting club, which starts again in September
- Some quick and easy projects for the blog
- Developing an idea into a new knitting pattern. This is what I'd like to tell you about today.
As a teen my creative heart was sidelined by those who purported to know better (my teachers, careers advisors etc) so that my academic brain could secure me a 'good career'. I ended up spending three years of my life on a law degree which I did not enjoy at all. During that time there wasn't much opportunity to do anything creative, and when I emerged with a degree I'd never use and the huge amount of student debt that financed it, I had to get straight to work. It wasn't until my second child came along at the age of 35 that I finally had the perfect coincidence (planetary-alignment, call it what you will) of opportunity and desire - maybe it was desperation - to do something creative. I picked up the knitting needles and registered a domain name.

Learning to knit (and blog) satisfied the creative urge for some time, but all addicts eventually need a new 'fix'. For some knitters that's making more complicated things - intarsia, difficult cables, big things on tiny needles.... but for me, for the moment at least, it's learning to translate my ideas into written form in a way that is easily accessible to all knitters. If I could go back in time, knowing what I know now, I'd have studied design of some sort. As it is, I'm finding my way as I go.

I have notebooks full of ideas. Some are just reminders of a nice stitch pattern I haven't decided what to do with yet, others are more-or-less finished designs. With age I'm learning patience. There is no hurry and they will come to fruition when they are ready. Some ideas develop over time, without ever leaving the page - Seafoam is a perfect example of that. It was inspired by a photograph and started as a 'semi-circular shawl' idea in my notebook...
... but changed shape - for the better - by the time it got to the needles, several months later.
Seafoam Shawlette-to-Shrug
This summer I'm going to start work on a new pattern for a shawl. It's inspired by a photo I took of the children at Goring Beach in the Spring and I suddenly have a strong urge to get it done before the children go back to school. It's time to see it in physical form, not trapped on the page. I'll keep you posted!
It just remains for me to tag a couple of other bloggers I think you'd love - if you haven't already discovered them for yourself - Deb over at A World of Imagination, and Jacqui from Happy Making Designs. Deb is a fabulous blogger whose knitting always looks amazing. She has a great eye for colour and I love her project photographs so much that she's responsible for various things on my Ravelry wishlist. Jacqui is best known as a designer and teacher, but she also has a great blog. It's informative, interesting, and often very funny. She has a great way with words - I think you'll like it. I'll look forward to reading Deb and Jacqui's posts next Monday and hope you'll drop by and say hello to them too. 
Sunday, 27 July 2014

Not the Sunday I'd planned

After a very brief trip to Wales to see my grandparents I came back feeling concerned and a bit sad (both in their eighties, they are looking considerably more frail than the last time I saw them...) but very glad to have seen them. When he asked why I was going, Little Miss had told her brother - in no uncertain terms - that they are both old and I was worried they'd die before our next visit. Those aren't the words I'd have used, but she had certainly grasped the sentiment. Each hour I spend laughing and chatting with them is a blessing, something to be treasured. I hope there will be many more, but am mindful that this may not be the case.

As I left for home I told my grandmother to call if she needs me to come back sooner than my next scheduled visit - her characteristic reply was "Don't you worry about that. When I go, I plan to go quick." She's stubborn as a mule, so I have no doubt it'll be so! She's already given me all of the family birthday cards until the end of the year, as well as a few pounds to get the children something for Christmas, but I'm hoping this is more of a sign of her pragmatism than any impending doom. 

Nevertheless, with all this on my mind, I'd planned to take it easy today. A quiet day in the garden, watching the children play and catching up on some knitting. In fact, it looked a lot like this to begin with: 
The Sunday I planned
As it turned out, I spent most of the day in A&E with mum who experienced chest pain while she was sewing. Of course I insisted on calling 111 who then sent an ambulance that I had to follow to the hospital, 40 minutes away. Many (!) hours and tests later, it seems her heart is fine - she even got a 'high 5' from the doctor for all her (fitalong) walking, but we don't know what caused her pain, and it was scary for a while.

Days like today make me feel immensely grateful for our National Health Service - the ambulance and hospital staff were fantastic and made the waiting around much more bearable. (I really wish I'd grabbed my knitting before we left, it may have been finished!)

As we got home after 23:00, my other craft plans went awry - I'll tell you what else I'm working on tomorrow. All that remains tonight is to announce the winner of the pompom maker giveaway.....

Congratulations Elizabeth - once I have your address, your prize will be on it's way from Black Sheep Wools who have kindly sponsored the giveaway. For those who didn't win, I'd absolutely recommend getting yourself a set as they are so much fun!
Friday, 25 July 2014

The Daily Pompom No. 4

Another pompom?
Since 'pompoming', I've started seeing them EVERYWHERE! Today,  I spotted an innocent bloom poking over a fence while walking, and I imagined.. well you can guess what I imagined. Yes, there's definitely a severe case of #WorldPomination in West Sussex!

For the final day of this short series, I was trying to decide which project to share with you and became overwhelmed with choice - there are just too many quick fun things to make with pompoms. Instead of choosing one, I started a new Pinterest board with lots of different ideas. You can go straight to it by clicking on the link/image below.

If you would like to make some of these projects but don't have any pompom makers, head on over to the giveaway post and leave a comment before Saturday 26th July. I'll be announcing the randomly selected winner in my next post. Good luck! 
Thursday, 24 July 2014

The Daily Pompom No. 3


My Boy celebrated his birthday last weekend and came downstairs to find hanging pompoms in place of the usual balloons. They are still there hanging up a week later - much to D's annoyance! (But the kids love them and so do I!) The pompom garland is definitely my favourite of this week's quick projects, and the inspiration behind my recent doodle

The picture is of a little Noro Taiyo garland I made in about half an hour using the 35mm pompom maker. This Noro has cotton in it and isn't at all fluffy, leaving rather scrappy looking pompoms, so I left them untrimmed and simply tied them onto a doubled-over string of the same yarn using uneven bows, for a shabby look. Using washi tape, the garland can be hung, moved and re-hung very easily. I love it and think more will be popping up around the house over the summer.  

If you'd like the chance to win a set of four pompom makers in different sizes, be sure to comment on the 'giveaway' post before Saturday 26th when I'll be selecting a winner! 
Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The Daily Pompom No. 2

It's the bittersweet last day of term and as I walked through the school it was a mix of high-energy excitement for the next six weeks of freedom, and a surprising number of tears (from staff, kids and parents) and goodbyes - the year six leavers, some staff are moving on, and some kids just love their teachers so much they don't want to leave their class. We are very lucky to have such a lovely school. 

You may be wondering what this has to do with pompoms... or you may have already guessed. I hadn't planned this one, and it was entirely prompted by a comment Julia left on the blog a few days ago:
With five different teacher gifts ready to be wrapped, it was perfect timing... 
What could be easier? I left long tails and tied them on with a bow so they could be reused if the recipients would care to do so. This is a great use for scraps (I'm using the Stylecraft which is still left over from my crochet blanket because I hate it) and those yarns which come on the front of magazines. I have a feeling I'll be doing the same as Julia's daughter and making loads of them at Christmas time.

If you would like the chance to win a set of four Clover pompom makers in different sizes, head on over to yesterday's post and leave a comment. I'll be randomly selecting a winner on Saturday. Good luck!
Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The Daily Pompom No.1 and a pompom maker giveaway!

The Daily Pom: 5-minute Pompom Bookmark
My recent addiction has resulted in lots of pompom projects and I'll be publishing one a day until Friday. This is the most simple of all, and also demonstrates just how easy it is to use a pompom maker. You can, of course use any other way of making pompoms, but if - like me - you grew up making pompoms with handmade floppy cardboard circles and an ever decreasing hole to stuff your yarn through, you may well find yourself converted to these little gadgets too!

This project takes just a few minutes and is easy enough for children, although there is a sharp point in the centre of the pompom makers, and scissors are used so adult supervision or assistance may be required. 
Step 1: Make the pompom and tie it off leaving long tails. If you haven't made one before, it's really easy. Simply wrap the yarn around one side of the 'arms' (pic 1). When you're done, move any yarn caught on the underside of the arm (there is a bit on the right side, for illustration) and and then repeat the process for the other side, (pic 2).
Using a pompom maker
When that's done, take your scissors and cut around the sides carefully, (pic 3) then tie a long piece of yarn around the groove in the middle of the pompom maker. Be sure to pull it tight before knotting, and then tie around again in the other direction and secure with a double knot. Slowly and gently release the 'arms' on each side (pic 4), and then pull the top and bottom apart - this is the sharp bit - to remove the pompom. Trim to neaten, as required (you can see I forgot to do this before taking the photo below!)

Step 2: Trim the tails to tuck between pages OR use them to tie the pom pom  to a paperclip
There you have it! I'll be back with another simple pompom project tomorrow so get your scrap yarn at the ready.

If you don't already have your own pompom makers, and you'd like to get your hands on the Small AND Large size, Black Sheep Wools are offering one lucky reader the chance to get them for free! All you have to do is comment below and tell me your favourite 'pompom project' - remember to also leave your email or Ravelry username so I can contact you. I'll draw a random winner on Saturday 26th July. The draw is open to everyone, including international readers. Good luck! 
Sunday, 20 July 2014


Considering I've been making things with yarn for a few years, I'm surprised that it's taken so long to discover pompom makers. In fact, it only happened when I found myself with a few hours to kill and a voucher for some free makers in return for a supplying a few pom-poms to The Handmade Fair*. Let's just say they are addictive. Look out for some pompom projects and a giveaway coming to the blog next week. 
It's gone a bit pom-pom -tastic around here!
*See the insert in the current UK issue of Mollie Makes, which is also pompom-tastic!
Wednesday, 16 July 2014

A Knitter's Worst Enemy?

When I think of all the (knitting) mistakes I've made - things that have held up my projects, required tinking or frogging, that have driven me completely mad - I estimate at least ninety percent of them have one thing in common - they were on simple projects that I was really enjoying and I got complacent. 

It's rarely complex or fiddly things that have me stumped or cause a problem. This is partly because I tend not to knit too many complex or fiddly things, but mostly because when I make anything more complicated it gets undivided attention. I don't choose anything like that when I'm tired (which is most of the time) and don't carry them around in my handbag. On the other hand, my 'complacent' knits are carted about with minimal care and popped in and out of bags with abandon. 

Why am I telling you all this? A few days ago I showed you the start of my Pebble Beach Shawlette a lovely pattern which definitely falls into the 'simple and really enjoyable category' and I've been merrily picking it up and putting it down since Sunday. It's been to a coffee shop, to a restaurant, and in at least four handbags in it's short life. Then last night, as I sat watching TV, I realised that I'd missed a yarn over on a previous row!! It's not a big deal, but failing light at the wrong end of the day meant I didn't want to start ripping out rows. I've been busy today and have book club tonight. So the shawl is stalled. My enemy 'Complacency' has struck again.

Lesson: I really must start to count stitches at the end of pattern rows, however simple they are. 
Complacency: a knitter's worst enemy?
Please tell me I'm not the only one to make stupid mistakes like this!?
Monday, 14 July 2014

Unwind(ing in) Brighton

Unwind Brighton
Due to a sick child on Thursday night, it looked like I wouldn't be able to make it to Unwind Brighton and at that point I will admit to feeling relieved, perhaps even a little smug, not to have booked any of the many classes I'd considered. It had been a lethal combination of indecision and procrastination that stopped me booking anything in time. Plus Mum was coming and, being deaf, wouldn't be able to take a class, so it was a trip that had been planned around the marketplace and the people.

As I sat on the sofa cuddling my boy and browsing Instagram to avoid Children's TV, I felt sad that I might miss out on an event so close to home. People were posting pictures of their flight departures from overseas, distant train platforms and the excitement of seeing "Brighton" on a road-sign. With luck and Calpol on my side the lad perked up considerably by Friday evening and I sent a text to Mum stating simply "We're on!".
Heading to Unwind Brighton
We met at the station in time for the obligatory 'train station selfie' and set off for the short trip, arriving just over an hour after the opening. Having changed bags numerous times my knitting had been accidentally left behind, and maybe everyone else had done the same as we didn't spot a single person crafting on the train. And no signs of knitterly-tendencies either - no shawls, knitting bags, crochet hooks or whiffs of sheep. Nothing. I'm putting it down to the warm weather (I had ditched my own hand-knits before heading out for this reason).
If you don't know Brighton, it's a beautiful, crazy, eclectic place, located above a pebbled beach right on the South coast of England - take a look here and you'll get a feel for it. Classes and demos were taking place in various locations around Brighton, but our day centred around the Marketplace at Brighton Dome Corn Exchange. Number 11 on the fabulous Unwind Map.
Brighton map - Unwind style!
Despite keeping an eye on the announcements and hearing about the plans on the Playful Day podcast, it wasn't until we entered the marketplace that I got the true sense of how 'big' this event was. I am not talking about physical size - which was not that big at all - but the  teachers and exhibitors were a real who's-who of knitting. It was also incredibly hot in there. Oh my!

I'm sure part of it was the rush and excitement of a room full of very special fluff and great people, and perhaps a few fumes from the 'recently-dyed' wares, but it was mostly down to a very sunny day, glass panels in the roof and lots of lighting. (I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to everyone who was on the receiving end of one of my hugs, but I think we were probably all as hot as one another, and am sure you'll understand.) Despite the heat, and proving she really is too cool for school, Ysolda Teague actually managed to wear her hat and to look as lovely as usual - here she is with my big sweaty head. Poor Ysolda.
Unwind Brighton
Having rushed over to join the queue for her book-signing (I got a copy of Saturday Treat which also includes a code to download the ebook - fabulous!) it was so busy I didn't get to chat to her, which is just one of my many regrets* of the day.

At that point, the two busiest stalls seemed to be Ysolda's and Spin City. You may remember Louise from an earlier Show & Tell post and after Saturday it's clear I'm not the only person to have a 'spinning crush' on her - we had to queue to get into the booth which was packed with beautiful spindles and scrumptious fluff. It was worth it to meet her at last - we've been talking online for a while, and she's every bit as lovely as I thought she'd be. Coming away with one of Louise's spindles was always part of my plan for the day, and you can imagine that it was a tough decision when the many jars filled with them looked like this...
Unwind Brighton

The marketplace was great. We bumped into lots of lovely blog readers and bloggers - hello!!!! - (I'm still always shocked when people 'know' me from the blog) and Sewing Bee fans who took selfies with Mum. There were people we'd met  before - at Unravel - and also some lovely friends we'd arranged to meet - Tanya (A Yarn Loving Mama) and Kristina (Eaden Yarns - who incidentally has a shop update this coming Thursday, look out for her gradients!). We also met  Gemma (@MrsBlaza) and her gorgeous little boy who was born just after our last knitalong. I couldn't resist a picture of this little hand hanging onto his mum's knitwear.
Unwind Brighton

There were many vendors I hadn't seen at other shows (all credit to the organisers for attracting such great people, including those from overseas) and we browsed all sorts of lovely things, but I am most proud of myself for managing to completely avoid the temptation to so much as look on the Signature Needle Arts stand. After getting the full set of Chiaogoo interchangeables and DPNs recently - which I love - I'm determined to avoid any risk of infidelity with something brighter and pointier.

Between visits to the café and the Podcaster meet (not just for podcasters!) we spent a few hours at the marketplace but I didn't go mad, coming away with just a few carefully selected items - all for planned projects. That's a lesson I've learned from previous festivals.
Unwind Brighton - the purchases.
There's Ysolda's book, the sparkly spindle from Louise, some gorgeous Triskelion sock yarn, a shawl pin and some brass rings to try making some of those lovely pinwheel buttons. I also got a Playful Day badge, which is not pictured (it felt a bit like getting a Blue Peter badge and is now safely stuck to my pinboard), an Unwind carrier bag and programme which includes two knitting patterns - the first of which you can see I've already cast on.

If I were to relive the day, there would be some things I'd do differently:
  • Book at least one class. I don't know which - there were too many I wanted to do! I really feel that I missed out by not taking any classes. Veera talking about stripes, Amy Singer spindling, Felicia Lo's theories on colour, and Woolly Wormhead talking hats...? Seriously HOW did I let these get away, never mind all the others!!!
  • Stay overnight to make a weekend of it.
  • Take more cash to grab some of the little bits and pieces I didn't need, but would have quite liked  and didn't have the small change for.
  • Make a physical list of the people who will be there that I'd like to meet, and then work through it. I missed a few people that I REALLY wanted to meet such as Joanne Scrace! 
  • Not rush into the marketplace, but take more time to hang back and chat. It was much quieter (and cooler) later in the afternoon, and that would have been a better time to chat to vendors, rather than rushing around like a hot headless chicken at the start of the day. 
  • It sounds awful to say I'll go alone next time.... but I will. I love doing things with my mum but as she's not as 'into' knitting as I am, she doesn't spin etc, and she was far more interested in Rachel Coopy's (aka Coop Knits) hair colour than almost anything else. It's beautiful, by the way, and she was very patient and lovely to my mother!
  • Oh, I'd also take a fan.
I'm really hoping there'll be another Unwind next year so I can get chance to do it again. 
Sunday, 13 July 2014

A floral interlude

Have you noticed that 'flower' pictures have crept into my recent posts? It's because I'm trying to imprint so many beautiful colours into my memory when I'm out walking. It would be easy to take the abundant beauty of Summer for granted, but in no time it will be gone, replaced by the golden browns of Autumn and then the long dark Winter. I am quite literally taking time to smell the roses (and anything else that takes my fancy). 
Weekend of Colour.

Weekend of Colour.

Weekend of Colour.
It's been a really busy day. I haven't had chance to write up my review of Unwind Brighton, please do come back tomorrow when I'll tell you all about it, and I'll show you my ridiculously modest (but very pretty) haul and the new project I cast on as soon as I got back. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. 
Wednesday, 9 July 2014

WIPs & Books: Never-ending bind-off

This 'tubular thing', started an eternity ago, was meant to be a quick project; something for mindless relaxation knitting. As it turned out, I've been knitting it for ages and binding off for days as something happens every time I pick it up. Hopefully it'll be finished tonight. Hopefully. 
Had I not told you about the delays, it could have been passed off as intentional timing - the beautiful purples, blues and greens are everywhere.
It's a shame I can't complete projects as quickly as books - I've finished another two books this week - The Silkworm and (for book club) My Dear I Wanted to Tell You and liked both. 

I'm sure you've already seen the publicity for The Silkworm, which is the second novel in the 'Cormoran Strike' series from Robert Galbraith, (Harry Potter author) JK Rowling's alter-ego. If you liked the first instalment, you're sure to like this. It's another murder mystery, this time set amongst London's publishing world. As well as the main storyline, the characters of the one-legged pube-haired Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott (who is now a permanent member of staff, and set to marry her miserable fiancé Matthew). For the knitting trivia fans amongst you, LoveKnitting.com's head office is situated in Denmark Street, which is the fictional location of Strike and Robin's office, and there really is a guitar shop downstairs.

My Dear I Wanted to Tell You is set during the first World War and tells the interwoven story of two very different couples. While each man is struggling to maintain sanity on the front line, the women they have left behind try to make sense of it all, doing what they can to play their parts. The title of the book comes from the postcards which were sent home from the trenches (pictured, source: iwm.org).

The main characters in this fictional story - like the real men they are based on - are injured in very different ways. One comes back severely disfigured while the other comes back physically intact but in psychological tatters. It's a touching - and ultimately hopeful - story, all the more so because the events must have been so familiar a century ago.

It's probably not a book I'd have chosen if it wasn't for book club, and 'enjoy' would be the wrong word, but I read it very quickly and found it to be incredibly interesting with well-written characters. 
Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Show & Tell: Over to you

You can tell when the school term is almost over - daily events, meetings and sports days. The last few school trips squeezed into the final fortnight, and generally exhausted kids. With this time upon us (so soon!) my thoughts are turning to the blog schedule for August. 

Typically, a few of my blogger friends contribute posts in August (like this one and this one) and I'm planning to do the same again this year. This made me think that perhaps it would be a nice opportunity to also invite a few readers who don't already have their own blog to make a contribution. 
The topic is up to you as long as it relates to knitting, crochet, spinning or handcrafts in some way. You might like to write about your crafting journey, to share some useful tips, or perhaps a post about your use of colour or fibres.... anything you like. 

If you have a crafty 'show & tell' that you'd like to submit for consideration, or if you have any questions, please email me as soon as possible! 
Monday, 7 July 2014

Imperfect Perfection

With age, I have learned to appreciate the beauty of things that aren't quite the way I'd have planned them. Like when it starts to rain five minutes into a walk (pictured) or when a knitting pattern I'm working on doesn't turn out quite as I hoped. I'm trying to encourage the children to do the same.

Whilst My Boy likes routine and stability and knowing how things will work out, he will try new things when they are explained, and is willing to practice until he gets the result he's looking for. However Little Miss likes to do things 'right' from the start, and worries about making (inevitable) mistakes. In this regard they are very different.

I'll give you an example. In contrast to her chatterbox brother who was a very early talker, LM barely spoke a word for the longest time. She'd sit and listen to everything, and although she knew what was being said (she'd laugh in all the right places, follow instructions perfectly and so on) she would hardly utter a word. Then one day she literally started talking all at once. She went from asking for "chocolocle" on her toast one day (when pressed to provide an answer), to the next day saying "Nutella, please Mummy" - I kid you not! I almost fainted! 

Whilst her perfectionist traits have resulted in amusing additions to our family-lore, it means that she can be hard on herself, and her school teachers don't see how much she is learning or what she is capable of. We had months of practicing her numbers - identifying and writing them, counting, simple addition and subtraction. She knows and understands them at home but at school it's a different matter. Failing to demonstrate her understanding (through lack of certainty), her teacher thinks she doesn't get it. This is getting easier as her confidence grows, but I can't help thinking it must be a burden for a 5 year old. 
Imperfect perfection (collaborative art with Little Miss, aged 5)
One of the exercises in the Journaling book I mentioned recently was to make a note that a 'done something' is better than an 'imperfect nothing' and with this in mind (and at the front of my notebook!) I'm on a mission to demonstrate that it's fun to enjoy the doing, and perfectly fine to make 'mistakes'. We have started with art, because there isn't a 'right' or 'wrong' and on Saturday we spent several hours doodling and painting together in her (out-of-date) filofax. It was great fun and gave us time to chat about things too - which we both enjoyed.

She really liked her finished picture (99% of which she drew herself, and I painted - imperfectly)... but I had to give her a plain bound notebook afterwards - she didn't like the fact that there were other things on the page. I can understand that. So now she has her own Muji passport-sized notebook which she's decorated with stickers and washi tape and is drawing lots of perfectly imperfect things in. That's definitely something for the Memory Keeper's box!

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Knitting Wisdom

I read many blogs and have a growing collection of knitting books, but there are two places I will most often go when I am in search of Knitting Wisdom. 

If it's a "technique" type of question, my first port of call is always The Principles of Knitting (I talked about it here, and now also have the kindle edition so it's literally with me ALL the time via my phone or ipad.) If it's general words of wisdom that I'm after, surely there is no one better than the Yarn Harlot herself, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. She's a great knitter - of course - but I don't look to her for techniques (tips, yes, there are plenty of those) but what I find most helpful is how she relates her knitting to everyday life in a way which I not only understand but which strikes such a chord. If you haven't read her books, I'd recommend taking a look - they are both practical and incredibly funny. I'll give you an example:
Even when it isn't going well, knitting can be deeply spiritual. Knitting sets goals that you can meet. Sometimes when I work on something complicated or difficult - ripping out my work and starting over, poring over tomes of knitting expertise, screeching "I don't get it!" white practically weeping with frustration - my husband looks at me and says, "I don't know why you think you like knitting." I just stare at him. I don't like knitting. I LOVE knitting. I don't know what could have possible led him to think that I'm not enjoying myself. The cursing? The crying? The fourteen sheets of shredded graph paper? Knitting is like a marriage (I tell him) and you don't just trash the whole thing because there are bad moments.
- Extract from The Secret Life of a Knitter 

I've been enjoying some of my favourite quotes from her books - you'll find many of them here.

Where do you look for Knitting Wisdom? 
Wednesday, 2 July 2014

K is for...

The knitting may have been a bit thin on the ground around here lately, but there are TWO new projects on the go which I can't show you yet (boo!) and this one, which I can... 
The picture is today's entry for the Fat Mum Slim "Photo a day" challenge. Yes, you've seen the project before, and aside from the colour change, you can't see my progress as the cable is shorter than the round, but it's proof that I have actually done some knitting amidst all the reading. (There is a fair bit of yarn left so I should get a few more inches done before binding off and showing you how I intend to wear it.) I've finished two books this week - the excellent dystopian novel Shades of Grey, by Jasper Fforde and the omnipresent The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I've been a fan of Jasper Fforde for some time (to the extent that in my 'former life', I took my team of co-workers to the Fforde Ffestival for the weekend - we all got to meet him and he even wrote a postcard to my friend Rachel). Sadly the hardback had lain semi-forgotten in my bedside cupboard since Little Miss was a baby, when I was too tired to read it for fear of dropping it on her head - such was life before Kindles - and I'm so glad to have finally read listened to it. There were echoes of Catch 22 and Brave New World with a bit of Douglas Adams thrown in alongside the humour I've come to expect of Fforde. Now I'm eagerly awaiting the sequel which is expected next year.

It was inevitable I'd read The Fault in Our Stars - it's everywhere and people kept asking what I thought of it. I'm sure you already know that it's a tale of teenage lovers who meet at a cancer-support group, and that the main character, Hazel, is terminally ill. I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised just how much I liked it - certainly 4 out of 5 for the star rating. I laughed, and cried... and highlighted some quotes - one in particular which I keep coming back to:
That novel was composed of scratches on a page, dear. The characters inhabiting it have no life outside of those scratches. 
I couldn't disagree more! You?
Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Show & Tell: Bullet Journaling

Whilst emptying drawers, I came across a whole collection of old notebooks and planners - some were significant notes from a life-changing seminar series, while others simply included old shopping lists and things to do, lists from when we moved, and my notes for Book Club. Reading them back was fascinating - I was reminded of things I did a decade ago and had totally forgotten. I found mementos of my hospital stay when Little Miss was born. It was a trip down memory lane and thoroughly enjoyable. Nowadays my personal lists are digital and deleted when complete, or on post-it notes. Only my knitting and blogging notes are permanent (I wrote about them here).  

A few days later this video popped up in my Bloglovin' feed (although I can't for the life of me remember who shared it - I'll come back and link when I do): 

My natural reservations about mixing everything up together in the same place (personal notes with quotes with shopping lists - argh!!!) has been put aside for now - after all I enjoyed looking back at all of that - and for July* I'm giving it a go, helped along by this book on Journaling which I borrowed on my Kindle and which got me over writing on the first pages of a brand new notebook. I'll let you know how it goes. 

Do you keep any record or journal? What do you use?
*1st July also sees a new month of the Fitalong (#cftcfitalong) and I'm joining in with Fat Mum Slim's "Photo a day" on Instagram. 
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