Saturday 28 April 2018

Harry Potter

I started reading the Harry Potter books to Daniel when he was young but we only got as far as the fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, before he decided that he wanted to read the books himself. I never read the rest of the books. It was a similar story with the films, I got so far with them but because I hadn't read all the books, I never bothered with the later films. I decided that I'd rectify this so I put Read all the Harry Potter books at number 32 on my 50 Before 50 list and Watch all the Harry Potter films at number 33.

I started reading the books again right from the beginning and the same with the films. I usually try to read a book before seeing a film but I didn't in this case, I finished watching all the films quite early in the challenge and I really enjoyed them.

You can see from the above photo that the earlier books are much shorter than the later ones, I've read them over a period of time and have just finished them. There were some things in the films which I didn't quite understand but the books answered the questions I had. I often find that a film skates over an important issue whereas a book provides greater attention to detail.

I really enjoyed the story as a whole but I have some favourite books. I love Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as this is where it all began. I really enjoyed being introduced to the characters and getting a feel for how the story would progress. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is another favourite. I enjoyed the Triwizard Tournament and found this a really exciting story. I also enjoyed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows because this is the book where everything is explained.

Have you read Harry Potter or seen the films? Which ones are your favourites?

Wednesday 25 April 2018

A Tour Of My Craft Room

I've been meaning to write this post since last summer when we decorated what was Daniel and Eleanor's toy room.

We had a two storey extension built on the side of the house when the children were small. Upstairs, Eleanor's bedroom was extended from a box room into a decent sized space, she now has a double bed in there along with fitted wardrobes, and downstairs the kitchen was made bigger, and a new room was created. The new room isn't huge, it's long and narrow, but we made it into a toy room, somewhere to store the many toys that Daniel and Eleanor had, and occasionally they'd play in there too. As they got older, Eleanor would use this room to mess about on her musical instruments and practice her singing and eventually the room became a bit of a dumping ground, a place where we started hoarding things. It got out of hand and we decided to have a massive clear out, most of the things we were storing in the room were of no use to us so they were either passed on to someone who could make use of them or sold on Ebay. We made a bit of money which will come in handy, but the best thing about sorting everything out is that the room has now been made into my very own craft room.

The desk is an old computer desk. It had a bit of ink staining on the top of it so I bought a piece of PVC from Dunelm to lay on top. I think the button design is perfect for a craft room.

Daniel bought me the lamp as one of my Christmas presents and it's brilliant. It gives out different types of light depending on what you're doing and has different brightness settings too.

Once I start using my new sewing machine it can sit on the desk and I won't have to put it away after each use.

To the side of the desk is one of my dining room chairs, we have six but only have four set around the table so it gives me somewhere to keep one of them if I use one in my craft room. On the back of the chair is the lovely bed runner which my lovely friend, Susan, from Granny Smith's Quilting, made for me. She brought it all the way from Australia and you can read all about it in A Beautiful Quilt post. I like to keep it here where it can be seen and enjoyed.

There's a couple of shelves above my desk which hold knick knacks, notebooks, a candle, a little tray where I pop all manner of things, and Paula Pig who you can read about in my Itty Bitty Craft Projects post.

The main shelves were here when the room was a toy room, they stretch the whole width between the walls and they were so handy for storing Daniel and Eleanor's toys, but now they're perfect for all my craft items.

I've bought quite a few storage boxes in different shapes and designs, I think they look more attractive than having lots of craft items piled up, and it makes it easier to find what I'm looking for.

To the left on the top shelf is a big box of Stylecraft Special DK in an assortment of colours. The pink plastic box contains oddments of acrylic yarn. The box on the right hand side contains lots of papercraft items.

On the middle shelf is Eleanor's sewing machine, two needlework boxes, the largest of the two is Eleanor's, the smaller one is mine. The pink spotty box contains a few fat quarters and some bits of material ready for when I start on my sewing adventure, the box underneath it stores knitting patters and the one underneath that holds bits and bobs for cross stitch. The large plastic box contains more Stylecraft Special DK, this time in autumnal colours. I was going to start on an autumnal blanket but still haven't got round to that. At the end of this shelf are some of my craft books and magazines. I've got more which were put in the loft when we were decorating and I still haven't got them back down yet.

To the left of the bottom shelf are an assortment of tins containing buttons, needles, ribbons, all sorts of things really. There's also my weighing scales there and my yarn winder. There's a couple of needle felting kits, one is mine which I haven't had a go at yet, the other is Eleanor's. Would you like to see what she made?

On the right hand side of the shelf is a box containing all my indie dyed yarn. It's full to the brim.

The next box along is full to overflowing with commercial yarn.

The pink box is full of both types of yarn which won't fit in the other two boxes.

The wicker basket sitting on top of the boxes held an assortment of gifts which Daniel's girlfriend bought me for Christmas. It now holds the beginnings of my mini skein collection. I've decided that I'm going to make a scrappy blanket. In theory, these blankets are made out of oddments of sock yarn left over from knitting socks, but you'd have to knit a hell of a lot of socks to get enough leftover yarn to make a blanket of a reasonable size so I think mini skeins are the way to go.

You'll see quite a few little suitcases dotted here and there. These hold my scraps of sock yarn, both commercial and indie dyed, though I do keep each type separate. There's quite a lot left over from some projects and not quite so much from others. These will be knitted up into my scrappy blanket.

There's also room on the floor underneath the shelves where I can store things.

On the bottom shelf are baskets and tubs holding the larger projects I've got on the go, including my Spice of Life blanket, a granny stripe blanket and my Joyful World cross stitch. There's also a cross stitch frame, toy stuffing and a brown paper bag which holds the things I've just bought ready to have a go at dyeing my own yarn.

In the corner is my flower press, a jar holding lots of teeny tiny colourful pom poms and my collection of old knitting needles which were passed down from my mum and grandma. I've got lots of different sizes and makes but the pouches to the side hold all my more up to date needles and crochet hooks, and you can also see the interchangeable set that Mick bought me for Christmas.

There's a little hook on shelf here where I keep the project bags I'm not currently using along with my sock blockers.

On the floor, underneath this shelf, is my guillotine, my still boxed sewing machine, blocking mats and my swift.

Would you like to see who's at the other end of the room?

Anyone who has a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel will know that you can't go anywhere without them following, they don't like to be left on their own, even for five minutes. The last time I was able to go to the toilet alone was back in 2010. Needless to say, Archie has a bed in this room where he can settle down whilst I'm crafting away.

He's looking a little bedraggled at the moment but he's going for a haircut on Monday so he should look his usual handsome self again then.

I'd like to get some sort of bookshelf to go between my desk and Archie's bed, as you can see, there's plenty of room for one.

On the wall are two prints of original embroideries by Amy Butcher. I bought them at Spring Into Wool last year.

So there you have it, my own little crafty space. I think the best thing about it at the moment is having everything organised but it will come into its own once I start sewing as I won't have to put the machine away each time I use it.

And yes, looking at these photos it does make me realise how much yarn I've got. I really need to make a concerted effort to use some up before I buy more. Having said that, I've just had a delivery from Wool Warehouse. Oh dear, where's it all going to go?

Sunday 22 April 2018

Simply Knitting

Number 16 on my 50 Before 50 list is Subscribe to a magazine. I used to subscribe to many gardening magazines when I had my allotment but they all became a bit 'samey' and each month's publication in one particular year was very similar to the same month in other years.

I've read Simply Knitting magazine in the past and have enjoyed it so I thought I'd subscribe to this, however, the first issue of my subscription came with an accessories pamphlet and the first page I opened shows a pattern for Spring Green.

I knit this hat three years ago when it was featured in issue 128 of Simply Knitting magazine with Winter Green as its name. I haven't checked the pattern but it's got exactly the same photo, and it's also listed on Ravelry as Winter Green, so I expect it's the very same.

I just hope that I don't come across any more regurgitated patterns.

My 50th birthday is less than five months away now so I need a final push with the list, there's still lots of things to tick off and I don't expect that I'll fully complete it but it would be nice to tick off as many things as I can.

Thursday 19 April 2018

Spring Has Sprung

Spring is here. After what seems like months of cold, wet and dull weather, that great yellow thing was seen in the sky yesterday and it finally warmed up. Mick got in from work early so we went to Lotherton for a walk before tea and it was actually warm enough to leave our coats behind and wear T-shirts.

I'm sure the spring flowers must have been blooming for a while now, but I don't think you notice them as much until they're bathed in sunshine. Here are just a few things we saw on our walk.

The trees at Lotherton are full of blossom though the same can't be said for my trees at home, there isn't a single flower on any of them yet, I do hope they haven't missed the boat for this year. The wild garlic is ready to bloom, every year I say that I will try doing something with the leaves but I still haven't given it a go. Procrastination in my middle name. They do say that wild garlic pesto is delicious. Though we've seen frogs in our little pond at home, we don't have any frogspawn this year and there's none in the pond at Lotherton either, there were lots of goldfish basking close to the top though. The magnolia stellata looked glorious against the blue sky. There's still patches of mud around which, of course, Archie heads straight for, though it was something far more unmentionable that he rolled in yesterday which resulted in him having a bath when we got home.

And what happens as soon as the sun puts in an appearance, why, so does the ice-cream man.

Today has got off to a good start again, it looks as though another beautiful day is on the cards.

Monday 16 April 2018

Sewing Made Simple

I was delighted to be asked to review Sewing Made Simple by Tessa Evelegh. Now that I've got my sewing machine, I need all the help I can get to get myself up and running with it and this book is ideal for a beginner like me or someone looking to refresh their sewing skills.

The book has an introduction which is followed by various chapters:-

The Sewing Box
Starting right at the beginning for any newbies like me, here you will find all the things you'll need as you embark on your sewing adventure.

The Secrets Of Sewing-Machine Success
This chapter will be very handy for anyone like me who doesn't know one end of a sewing machine from the other. Not only is there a guide on what each part of the sewing machine does but it also covers the accessories which come with the machine too.

Stitch Craft
It may seem basic to those who can already sew but this chapter starts with threading the needle and tying the knot. Temporary stitches, finishing stitches and basic machine stitches are all covered.

The Paper Pattern
I like how the book assumes you're a complete beginner and takes you through the most basic of things like a pattern envelope. I wouldn't understand the symbols without some help and this book provides it. This chapter shows you how to take measurements and how to use the pattern, including laying it out, pinning and cutting out and adapting the pattern pieces.

Fabric Choices
There's so many different fabrics to choose from that I get bamboozled just thinking which type of fabric would be suitable for a particular pattern. Here you'll find information on fabric construction and pattern as well as a guide to different types of fabric and a fabric glossary.

Basic Sewing Skills
This chapter covers various skills including seams, shaping and contouring, gathering and easing, fastenings, trimmings, embellishments, applique, the perfect finish, mitred corners and quilting.

After each of the basic sewing skills there's various projects for you to have a go at which incorporate the skill you've just learnt. There's twenty projects in total and patterns and templates for them are supplied at the back of the book. I really like the look of this tote bag.

I think this is a great book for someone just starting out on their sewing adventure like I am, it seems to cover everything I'll need to know and more. The illustrations too are detailed and very informative.

Sewing Made Simple by Tessa Evelegh. Hardback, 224 pages. Published by Jacqui Small Publishing (16.99). I received a copy of this book to review, however, all opinions expressed are my own.

Friday 13 April 2018

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Eleanor's had long hair for a long time now. Whenever she went to the hairdressers she always asked for a minimal amount cutting off so imagine my surprise when she told me she was having it cut short.

It turns out that she'd heard about The Little Princess Trust, a charity who provide real hair wigs free of charge to children and young adults up to the age of 24, who have sadly lost their own hair due to cancer treatment and other illnesses. She decided that she'd like to donate her hair to this organisation who help others less fortunate than herself.

Hair has to be at least 7 inches in length so I think Eleanor's ponytail ticks that box.

She actually had more than 17 inches cut off as once the ponytail had been cut she wanted it shorter still. I think her new shorter style suits her very much and Eleanor's very happy with it.

The Easter holidays finish for Eleanor on Sunday. We're having a girly day out in Leeds together today where we'll do some shopping and have some lunch, tomorrow night she's working at her little bar job that she has when she's home and then on Sunday she goes back to university. The house will be very quiet again.

Tuesday 10 April 2018

Spring Into Wool 2018

I visited Spring Into Wool 2017 at The Grammar School at Leeds last year, the first time it was held, and I really enjoyed it. I decided then that I'd visit again this year if they decided to hold it for a second year which they did at the weekend. Last year it was a one day event but this year it's been extended to a Saturday and Sunday show. I visited on Saturday and it was much busier than it was last year, it's popularity has certainly grown. There were seventy five stalls, a few more than last year, and a good mix of yarny crafts.

I didn't take any photos at the show but I thought you might like to see what I bought.

Two balls of Wensleydale Longwool in blue and natural, I've got a pair of mittens in mind for this yarn. I picked up yet another ball of West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 ply, this time in their Bullfinch colourway. Mick's really taken to his hand knitted socks so I thought I'd knit him another pair. I'm a big fan of West Yorkshire Spinners as I can just chuck the socks in the washing machine and they come out fine, they have some great colours too, and most of them can be mixed and matched so that you can add contrasting heels and toes if you so wish.

I've seen so many scrappy blankets around, made by knitting up left over yarn from socks, or from mini skeins, and I'd resisted the urge to start one myself but I've finally succumbed and bought myself both a pack of mini skeins and a single one, all from Rosie's Moments. I've got lots of yarn odds and ends in my stash so I've now got plenty to get me going.

The skein of yarn on the right is by Love Handyed in the Autumn Fallen Leaves colourway, it was in their bargain bin so I couldn't leave it behind, it will make a lovely pair of socks. The skein on the left is by Third Vault Yarns in the Oncoming Storm colourway. I bought a skein of yarn from this same dyer at Spring Into Wool last year and I knit my Dragon Scales Shawl with it, it was lovely to knit with and is so soft and squishy.

I've been buying hand dyed yarn for about seven years now so I thought it was about time that I had a go at dyeing some yarn myself. Professional dyers use acid dyes but I thought I'd start off with something which requires less equipment and is less harmful. Kool-Aid is a powder which, when added to water, makes a fruit-flavoured soft drink. Considering this has the capability to be used as a dye I don't think it's something I'd fancy drinking myself. I bought seven flavours which should make seven different coloured dyes and then I came across a stand where undyed yarn was for sale for just £1.50 per skein so I picked up two to practice on. I'm looking forward to giving this a go and even Mick has expressed an interest so I might get him involved too.

This year's haul is with a range of projects in mind so there'll be lots of new things started in the very near future. I shall let you know how I get on.

Saturday 7 April 2018

Taking My Time

You may remember that I started Boxy by Joji Locatelli right at the start of the year. I wrote about it in my On The Needles post, along with some other projects which I've since finished, but Boxy was never meant to be a quick knit. With nearly 400 stitches on the needles and knit in 4 ply yarn I knew it would take some time to complete, especially as I've had other things on the go at the same time.

It's been a really simple knit so far. Knit bottom up, in the round, there's a few rows of rib before changing to stocking stitch, which means knitting every row with it being in the round. It's been a great project to pick up when I haven't wanted to concentrate, and I'm now finally starting to see it grow. In fact, as the sweater is fairly cropped, I'm almost at the point where I'll divide for the armholes.

I enjoy taking my time with the projects I work on. I'm a slow knitter anyway but I see no point in rushing over the things I make, I like to enjoy the process of working on them and seeing them slowly take shape. This sweater is for Eleanor, it's a good job that she isn't in any rush for it because at the pace it's being knit she might have it just in time for next winter.

This is the only thing I've got on my needles at the moment so I think it may be time to cast on some new projects. I can't remember the last time I didn't have a pair of socks on the go so perhaps a new sock pattern will be the first thing to add to my needles.