Thursday 29 March 2018

Itty Bitty Craft Projects

There's a few itty bitty craft projects which have been waiting for my attention so I thought I'd get on with them.

My lovely friend, Lisa, from Jumble and Jelly included this felt star kit in with my Twelve Days of Christmas gifts. It's really a Christmas project but I decided I'd get it made up in readiness for this year. I think it's made a lovely tree ornament and was very quick and easy to make.

I'd run out of dishcloths and I much prefer hand knitted cloths to shop bought so I got my needles clacking and knitted up five so that I've got a few in reserve. I usually use the Grandmother's Favorite pattern but as it's knitted corner to corner I found that the cloths were never a perfect square. I recently came across the Gramma's Dishcloth pattern, free on Ravelry, by PJ Allen which is another take on the original but has a few alterations which, as you can see, makes the cloth more symmetrical. These cloths haven't been blocked but they still come out pretty square. I knit four of them in plain white and ecru crafting cotton and used some Lily Sugar'n Cream Ombres in the Kitchen Breeze colourway for the other.

There's often little craft projects included with the knitting and crochet magazines I buy, I rarely make them up but as I have a bit of a thing about pigs I really wanted to give Paula Pig from this Farmyard Friends kit a go.

Knitting teensy tiny things is really not my forte as you can see. I'm afraid Paula leaves a lot to be desired.

I showed her to Eleanor over Skype, I knew it would give her a good laugh and I wasn't wrong, she nearly fell off her chair she was laughing so much so I thought I'd give you all a good laugh too. Remember I'm showing her best side here.

Oh well, I had fun making her but I think she'll be the only animal in the farmyard, I'll leave the other four animals to someone else.

Monday 26 March 2018

The Story Of Beatrix Potter

Mick bought me The Story Of Beatrix Potter by Sarah Gristwood for Christmas 2016 at my request and I've only just got round to reading it.

I must admit that I didn't know very much at all about Beatrix Potter before I watched the film with Renee Zellweger, Miss Potter. I never read any of her books as a child and they're books which passed my own children by too. The film piqued my interest in Beatrix Potter though so when I saw this book I put it straight on my Wish List.

The book tells the story of Beatrix Potter from her early years in Victorian London through to her later years where she lived out her life amongst the beautiful scenery in the Lake District. What a full and interesting life she lead, I enjoyed reading about how her books came to be published, the scientific work she did with fungi, her first engagement and the happy marriage she had later in life, and her conservation work with the National Trust.

The illustrations include some of Beatrix Potter's own artwork as well as a sprinkling of family photographs.

I've read the book from cover to cover and I can see me dipping back into it from time to time. I don't keep many of the books I read but this one is definitely a keeper and I can thoroughly recommend it.

Friday 23 March 2018

Homeward Bound

It's an exciting day for me, my family are all coming home. This only happens once or twice a year at the moment so it's feeling a little like Christmas for me today.

Daniel has some holiday left to take before the end of March so he's got all next week off work. He lives in Surrey, it's quite some distance from us here in Yorkshire so Mick went down yesterday and stayed overnight. His company have a branch in Basingstoke which is about half an hour from where Daniel lives so Mick's working there today and then bringing Daniel and his girlfriend home after they've all finished work. They haven't decided how long they're staying yet but it will definitely be at least a week. The Easter weekend is tagged onto their week off so they've only had to take four days holiday from work and yet they're getting a good, long break.

They're breaking their journey back up the motorway in Nottingham to pick Eleanor up from university. She doesn't break up for Easter until next Thursday but she hasn't got any lectures after today until Tuesday so she's coming home for the weekend and Mick will take her back on Monday. He'll then go back and pick her up again on Thursday as she's got a fortnight off for Easter.

It's a good job that Mick's also got some of his annual leave from work left to take. He's off now until after Easter so it's going to be lovely having all the family home, though as well as spending time together, there's other things they've got planned too. I just might not be around in Blogland as often as I usually am.

Mick buys those little packets of cereal when they're on offer as they're handy to take to work for breakfast. He doesn't like Cornflakes though so all the packets have mounted up until I got enough to make some Easter nests. I always used to make these when the kids were young and who's to say you ever grow out of them?

Wednesday 21 March 2018

V For Valentine

The V For Valentine socks were cast on for Valentine's day and I've recently finished them. The pattern is by Ellie Jones from the Craft House Magic podcast and is free on Ravelry.

I already had two pairs of socks on the needles when these were started but I just couldn't resist them with the cute heart motif on the legs.

I used some yarn that I had in my stash, a skein from Fondant Fibre, which I bought at Spring Into Wool last year. I thought it would suit the pattern well and I'm not disappointed. It's the first time that I've used Fondant Fibre and it's absolutely beautiful, it's a pleasure to knit with and looks fabulous.

Deb from Fondant Fibre seems to have closed her shop, I'm not sure why, does anyone know if she's still dyeing yarn? I'm so pleased that I've got another two skeins of Fondant Fibre in my stash.

These are another pair of socks which I'm keeping for myself. I usually relent and decide to gift many pairs of the socks I knit but not this time, I absolutely love them.

Sunday 18 March 2018

Stitching With Jane Foster

I'm always sorry that I didn't learn to sew as a child. My mum was a knitter so it was to be that I would follow in her footsteps and learn to knit, she used to mend clothes but that's really as far as her sewing skills went and with no other sewers in the family, it's something I never learnt to do. I think being exposed to anything as a child can form a lifelong love for it, so it's a good idea to pass on as many skills as we can to our children.

My children are grown up now but when I was asked by Quarto Publishing Group if I'd like to review Stitching With Jane Foster, a book to introduce young crafters to the fun of simple embroidery, I jumped at the chance. I know that many of my readers have young children or grandchildren and I think this book would be an excellent choice to introduce them to this fun craft.

It's a hardback book which is spiral bound, perfect when you want a book to stay open at a particular page whilst you follow instructions. The first pages go through What You Will Need, Getting Started, Stitching Basics, Stitching Examples + Projects, What To Do With Your Stitchable Designs, and Design Your Stitches, before exclaiming it's Your Turn!

The back pages contain 37 press-out templates to get little ones started. These easy press-out patterns are to cross-stitch and sew and come in a variety of well thought out designs which can be stitched in a variety of ways. The reverse of each template is printed in black and white so children are able to personalise them by colouring them in the colours of their own choosing.

There are some great ideas in the book for what to do with the templates once they've been stitched, everything from a journal cover to a bookmark.

I love the bold illustrations in this book, it's designed to appeal to a younger audience, the book is aimed at children from 5+.

Stitching With Jane Foster definitely gets a thumbs up from me. I received a copy of this book to review, however, all opinions expressed are my own. The book retails at £10.99 and can be purchased direct from Quarto.

Thursday 15 March 2018

Yarndale Socks 2018

I do like to be organised whenever I can be. It's for this reason that I decided to get the socks which I'll be donating to this year's Yarndale Sock Line knitted up early, it's usually around June when Christine from Winwick Mum puts out a call for handmade socks to be donated. First they're shown off at Yarndale, after which, the socks are gifted to people in need. This is something that I love being involved with, I'm sure all the cosy, squishy socks bring a little comfort to those who are less fortunate, for one reason or another, than myself.

This year's socks have been knit in Grundl Hot Socks, a yarn I've never used before but I have to say that I've thoroughly enjoyed knitting with it. The yarn is quite plump and very squishy and it comes in such fun colourways. I'm not sure how this yarn will wear, it's made from 50% merino, 25% bamboo and 25% polyamide, a mix I don't think I've used before, but I've read some good reviews so I'm sure it'll be fine.

I didn't think a pattern was required with this yarn as the different coloured stripes hold enough interest. I did quite well at colour matching each sock.

These will now be put away until the required time, but I'm happy in the knowledge that they're all finished and waiting, and that they might just bring a bit of squishy goodness to someone in need.

Monday 12 March 2018

Knitting Podcasts

Podcasts seem to be proving more and more popular at the moment. I watch quite a few knitting and crochet podcasts so I thought I'd share some of them with you, there's a few new ones which I've come across lately as well as the more established ones and I know that some of you enjoy watching knitting podcasts too so I thought there might be some here which you don't know about. I wish I was confident enough to make one myself but I'll stick to showing my knitting projects on my blog.

I'll start with some of my favourites.

Giddy Knits. Helen lives in Surrey with her husband and two young boys and since she started podcasting has started her own yarn dyeing business, Giddy Yarns.

Craft House Magic. Ellie hosts this podcast which, as well as knitting, includes sewing, bobbin lace and other crafts too. This is such a happy podcast and I always enjoy each episode.

Bumble Stitches. Nicola's podcast is all about knitting, she produces some wonderful garments and she always has plenty to share.

Little Drops of Wonderful. Ali is primarily a crocheter, she admits that it's her first love, but she's recently started knitting too and this podcast includes a bit of both.

Harriet's House. Harriet is a fairly new knitter and she also crochets and sews.

Stranded Podcast. Amy's podcast is one of the more established ones but it's one of my favourites. I like that her podcast is very regular and that I know there'll usually be a new episode for me to watch each Thursday.

Cherry Heart Podcast. Sandra is another well established podcaster.  She's a pattern designer and podcasts about both knitting and crochet.

There are some very successful knitting podcasts out there which have thousands of subscribers but, for the most part, I find that the podcasts which have a smaller audience seem more personal. One of the things I really enjoy about blogging is striking up conversations and friendships, and this applies with the podcasts that I watch too. I do still enjoy watching some of the more successful podcasts but the hosts seem out of reach in a way.

The Little Tailoress.

Sew Sweet Violet.

Inside Number 23.

Little Bobbins Knits.

I've recently come across some new podcasts which, so far, have only a few episodes, however, they look very promising.

Ollie & Bella. Sherrie is a crocheter who has recently taken up knitting.

Gussets and Godets. Christina podcasts about her knitting and sewing projects.

Love to Sew. Caroline blogs about knitting, though of course, she Loves to Sew too.

Birdbox Podcast. Jon is the dyer behind Mr B's Yarns, he podcasts with his wife Clare, who makes project bags for their shop on Etsy, and Clare's sister, Beki.

Funkyforty. Mel has started a podcast about knitting, crochet, sewing and embroidery. Like me, she stopped knitting when she was about twenty and didn't pick her needles up again until she was in her forties.

Back to Blighty. Becky had recorded videos in the past but she has just started a new podcast about both knitting and sewing.

There's a couple of podcasts which, at the moment, I'm working my way through all their past episodes.

Knitting Expat Podcast. Mina was a newish knitter when she first started her podcast back in 2015 but she's now a prolific knitter and pattern designer, I'm enjoying working my way forward right from where it all began.

Eldenwood Craft. Emma is a knitter and she also makes project bags for her Etsy shop, which is very successful. It seems that all the other podcasters I watch have got at least one of Emma's bags, they're very popular. I'm just about up to date with this podcast now and I've enjoyed all the past episodes.

If you haven't yet given podcasts a go, I would definitely recommend them. I enjoy watching the latest episodes whilst I sit down and do a bit of knitting. If any of you can recommend any other knitting podcasts I'd appreciate you leaving me a comment.

Friday 9 March 2018

Kali Kardia Socks

These are the Kali Kardia Socks by Helen Kurtz, a free pattern available on Ravelry. Helen named the socks after a favourite taverna in Greece where she was when she came up with the idea for this pattern.

I'm really pleased with how they turned out. The textured pattern is offered in a chequerboard or ribbed version but I went for the latter, I find that a ribbed pattern helps the socks fit snug to the feet and legs.

I used some yarn which has been in my stash since 2011, it was actually a Christmas present from Mick. It's by Laughing Yaffle in their Fantasia colourway. The colour has pooled a little at the heel, but I suppose that's the nature of how this yarn has been dyed.

After knitting so many pairs of socks for other people last year, I'm determined to restock my own sock drawer now. These are the first pair of socks off my needles this year and the second ones aren't far behind.

Tuesday 6 March 2018

The Food Of Love Giveaway Winner

Thank you to everyone who entered my little giveaway to win The Food Of Love by Amanda Prowse.

There were quite a few entries, I think the subject of this book is quite an interesting one with eating disorders often in the news these days. I pulled a name out of the hat at random this morning and I'm pleased to announce that the winner of the book is Marlene from Poppy Patchwork. Can you please let me have your name and address details so that I can get the book sent out to you. You can find my email address by clicking on my name at the top of the sidebar.

Thank you to everyone who entered.

Saturday 3 March 2018

50 Before 50 - Update 3

I started my 50 Before 50 list on my 48th birthday, you can see the list and read about it in my 50 Before 50 - Part One and 50 Before 50 - Part Two posts. After six months I wrote my 50 Before 50 - Update 1 post, after a year I wrote my 50 Before 50 - Update 2 post and as it's now exactly eighteen months since I started the list, it's time for another update.

I went away on holiday to Norfolk at the beginning of September last year and I managed to cross two things off the list then, the first was number 7, Take a boat ride. We hired a boat on the Norfolk Broads which you can read about in my Messing About On The Water post.

Last Sunday we took part in Bark In The Park which enabled me to cross off number 20 on the list, Take part in a charity walk. Combining a sponsored walk with exercising Archie seemed like a good idea, especially when walking in the lovely surroundings of Temple Newsam.

At the end of September we visited the lights in Blackpool. We took Daniel and Eleanor to see the lights many times when they were young but that's quite a few years ago now. Go to Blackpool to see the illuminations is number 25 on the list and you can read about it in my Blackpool Illuminations post.

I put Visit Scotland on the list at number 35 as I'd only ever had a couple of day trips across the border previously. We finally took a little trip at the end of January and I wrote all about it in my Weekending In Scotland post.

Treat myself to something I really want is number 42 on the list and I decided to buy myself a sewing machine. I'd been wanting to have a go at sewing on a machine for a long time and when an offer came up on a basic model I couldn't resist. A Gift To Me From Me tells you all about it. I must confess that I still haven't had a go on it yet though, I thought Eleanor might help me and give me some pointers when she was home at Christmas but things were so busy that we just didn't get round to it but it will definitely be coming out of its box soon.

Also crossed off the list in Norfolk was Adopt an animal for charity. This was number 43 on the list and you can read all about Gulliver, a beautiful horse I've adopted, in my Redwings post.

A new yarn show popped up this year. As it was being held in Nottingham it was too good a chance to miss, especially as I could pay Eleanor a visit at uni at the same time. You can read about Nottingham Yarn Expo 2017 in my post and also see what I bought.

As Eleanor is at university in Nottingham, I thought it would be fun to explore the city on our visits so Explore Nottingham made it on to the list at number 50. Shopping In Nottingham tells you about one of our visits.

So, as you can see, I've crossed off quite a few things in this quarter but there's still lots of things left to do on the list so I'll be having a big push in this final quarter. It'll be fun to find out just how many of the fifty things I've managed to do.

If you haven't yet entered The Food Of Love giveaway, there's still time. Just leave a comment on The Food Of Love Giveaway post to be in with a chance of winning. A name will be drawn at random at some point next week.