Tuesday, 29 June 2010

From cheeky monkey...to cheekier monkey!

It doesn't seem long ago that I was holding a very tiny Anna in my arms and thanking fate for giving me such a perfect baby girl. Anna is always so cheerful but also as an innate sense of mischief and fun. From early on I learnt to listen out for the silence- a sure sign that she would be getting herself in a right pickle!
Well here is Anna on Saturday morning- my big beautiful four year old! Big piles of presents, mostly craft equipment, lots of Hello Kitty- lots of excitement! We had a family day on Saturday and a tea of pizza and cake- Anna's choice. I made chocolate fridge cake as I find my kids never eat sponge. Anna is looking concerned as a was sparkler in the pile of cake has snapped and is drooping onto the precious cake. We had a Hello Kitty party on Sunday with five little friends. We did try to play some party games but the children were so much happier doing the craft activities which I'd prepared. It was the most relaxed party I have ever hosted. I am sure this is in part down to having my diamond parents around helping out, but also due to the children really enjoying making and doing. How cool is that?
I did make a traditional sponge for the party, I bought an inexpensive Hello Kitty toy for the top which Anna could play with after the event. I decided to put her in a garden with some flowers and yes....the obligatory green icing!!! I have always enjoyed spending time with Anna an as she grows that pleasure just grows and grows.

Monday, 28 June 2010


I am very conscious that this blog has been a little neglected of late. I wonder if it is simply a reflection on how much making I am doing at the moment, on how much 'space' there has been for fun. It should all get a little easier from here on in. After a pretty tense year starting with Simon taking voluntary redundancy, he has now been officially assessed as on 'outstanding' teacher and he can now look forward to his N.Q.T (newly qualified teacher) year at the school in which he has done his training. I am so bloody proud, I'm not sure I can express here in words just how bloody proud. I know a few of you are teachers yourselves and will know just what a huge amount of work is involved in being a teacher. Simon has spent every Sunday writing lesson plans and working on his portfolio of evidence. Recently it has been Saturdays too. I would say he also works five out of seven evenings and is still at it when I go to bed. This has not been an easy year for anyone in the house, but honestly I take my hat off to anyone who teaches, I know things will get marginally easier next year, but still this job is no easy ride. (nice for this to be recognised with a three year pay freeze, but I know we are by no means alone in feeling this particular pinch!)


Sunday, 27 June 2010

Hey Babe

‘Babes in the Wool’ is by Fiona McDonald, she of the Knitted Aliens, and is just as fun and quirky. These projects demand a little more time to complete but again work simply on plain knit and purl stitches and simple increase and decreases. There are patterns for nine ‘babes’ based on three basic body shapes. They vary slightly in complexity and in size. There are also a huge variety of outfits which will fit any of the dolls- to a more modest or racier degree! I knitted the medium sized doll for Anna’s birthday who came out very leggy, but with a very nicely shaped body, even if I do say so myself. These dolls have exaggerated features which mean they all come out different and with very distinct personalities. The eyes are painted with acrylic paint onto felt and I have to say I love this technique; honestly watch this space for more variations on this theme. I hooked the hair for my babe and am pleased with how sultry she looks, these dolls would certainly be suitable as gifts for older girls, and as exaggerated caricatures of friends- I really want to make a wild one with tattoos and piercings!

The body is strengthened with cardboard which means that you couldn’t throw dolly in the wash if she met with a messy disaster, so maybe not suitable for a very little girl. I have knitted two outfits so far and have found that the fit depends greatly on how well stuffed your babe is- I cast on some extra stitches for shoes as my doll has big feet! I also found that there aren’t quantity requirements for all garments and I started the coat with one 50g ball of wool and had to frog it as it was clearly going to take another. Also the pictures in the book show the dolls standing- which with long stuffed legs they don’t. I wonder if a child who chose a doll from the book would be disappointed by this? All in all babe is a success. I had great fun making her, and Anna has been carting her around by her leg, which is nice. I am handing the book on to Mum so she can post little outfits when she fancies a quick project to make a little treat for Anna. The book is £9.99 but the dolls wouldn’t cost more than a few pounds to make and with a small stash of wool possibly not even that. There would be time to make a babe and a whole fantastic wardrobe for a little girl before Christmas, and for those of you to whom, like me, these things matter, the babes do come with a pattern for bra and pants!

We have had such an exciting week, and I'll be posting an update in the next day or so- cake and all!

Friday, 18 June 2010

Power Cables

Power Cables by Lily M Chin is a brilliantly titled and humouresly written book to extend a knitters skills into the territory of cabling. The book is laid out in lessons to build skills and explain the authors charting method, it also includes projects to utilise these skills. Lily recommends that even if you have cabled before that you complete lesson one to get to grips with her charting technique. I took this book on holiday with Mum too, so she was the first one to get a proper look, she was immediately grabbing her needles to try the double sided cable and got in a right pickle- lots of tooth sucking and muttering. It would have been a bit mean spirited of me to take any pleasure in the super knitters’ struggles, so I rescued Mum and pointed out the bit about reading the first chapter! After this Mum was away and was soon dangling a very delicate piece of double sided cable under my nose. The patterns in the book have a lovely contemporary feel and include bag, hat, jumpers, men’s garments and the most amazing shrug/wrap construction. The writing style is really very sweet with useful little tips about keeping track of right and wrong side rows using peanut and plain M&M’s. I reviewed a basic cabling book a while back and I’d want to work through some projects in there first before moving onto this book, just to get my confidence. With fifteen projects and many more ideas I think the book is good value at £17.99. I certainly would have looked at it as a Christmas present for Mum- although if she had never read chapter one, she might not have thanked me!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Cute as two buttons

If anyone out there was considering a thesis along the lines of 'The compulsive collection of small bright shiny objects and it's genetic link' I think we have all the research material you need right here in this house. We regularly visit a shop in town which sells both small toys and buttons- my two have started to realise that if they pester me for toys the get nothing, but ask for buttons? Its a different story. Actually perhaps it's a learnt behaviour. They now have enough buttons to warrant some proper storage so we made and decorated some button boxes.

I'm sure most of you have made these type of boxes before, folded up from two squares of card. Both mine managed to do some of the folding themselves and did the sticking and decorating with very little input. I had bought a pack of sticky foam flowers in the Dunelm Mill sale (very dangerous-approach with caution) and after we had used them to decorate the boxes we used my box to store the rest.

I would like it noted by the blogging Gods that I have shown pictures here demonstrating the tip of a dinning room after a weekend. Please don't be too shocked!
I hope you are all enjoying the end of a very relaxing weekend.

Friday, 11 June 2010

My vintage Mum

A while back I reviewed this Rowan book here, it is full of vintage knits and I put it aside ready to show Mum the wonder knitter. When I saw her on holiday she had already made this dear little jumper with a lacy shell pattern. She did say it was the sort of pattern you needed to give your full attention to but I think it's come out really well. I can see this is a black sparkly yarn for a bit of glam but Mum used a neutral colour for the summer. The yarn was a sort of crepe so showed the pattern well, plus it was part of a large quantity of wool that Mum had been given when a friend de-stashed so effectively free. Mum did have a look for some linen trousers but hates paying silly money for clothes so I suggested she made herself some (perhaps a pay-back from a childhood of visiting cool clothes shops only to have Mum say 'how much???? I could make it for less than that!!!= which of course is now just the sort of thing that I say- it's in the genes!!). Anyway Mum looked out a linen table cloth she had made and used a few times and rustled up some trousers, she even embroidered the back pockets...with her initials. Mum has stacks of cool jewellery and bags so I know she'll wear her free vintage jumper and table cloth trousers with panache and style that you couldn't get from a top fashion house.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

It's life Jim...

Knitted Aliens

by Fiona

McDonald is part of Search Press’ “20 to make” series. These are small books and are priced at £4.99 but are packed with ideas. I have knitted two of these alien whilst on holiday and Mum made another two. The patterns include only basic knit,

purl and basic increasing and

decreasing. They would make them a brilliant project for a new knitter with some help making up. Will (6) particularly enjoyed adding the decorations to the knitted bodies,

and both he and Anna chose the wool. It was a great way to use up little ends and some of the novelty wool I can’t resist but wouldn’t necessarily want to wear! Sometimes the fancy wool made bits come up bigger then expected but I think that’s definitely the fun of these, each one comes out with their own

personality. As the name suggest there are twenty patterns in this book, giving lots of potential for a whole planet of daft aliens. Due to the size of the book it was sometimes difficult to knit and keep the pages open, especially if you need to keep a count of the short rows, which you would need to do with the fluffier wool. I can see this book coming out over and over again as the kids grow up and are able to complete more of the stages themselves. I can also see no reason why these aliens couldn’t be stuffed with lavender and live in an underwear drawer or be threaded onto a bag dangle. One nice thing is that the models in the photos are not so perfect that you feel your own efforts would be a poor comparison, they give you a very reasonable expectation that every single alien you make will come out totally bonkers!

Monday, 7 June 2010

Fun and games

I have just posted off an envelope to (lovely) Pip for a cool little project type thingamy- if you feel like joining in why not swing by her blog and take a peek?

If after filling an envelope you are still at a loose end you could have a mooch at the latest edition of the UK handmade on line 'zine.

Still feeling fidgety? Let me know and I can pair you up with another drifter for the friendship band swap.

If you are still bored then I can suggest some colouring or that you tidy your room. (Yep I am now a Mum through and through!)

Saturday, 5 June 2010


Didn't we have a lovely time the week we went to Bognor? Yes we did-it was ace! We stayed at Church Farm, a Haven caravan park, Mum and Dad came along (to wash up) to join in the fun. We had the beach within walking distance, beautiful Chichester a short drive off and a pool and entertainment on site. There was an excellent pub nearby at Pagham, 'The Lamb', we had a very special anniversary meal (15 years) and drove through a cloud of bats on the way home. We collected shells and made a mermaid installation, played Nerf guns, ate chocolate and generally had such an ace time that we've booked again for next year!

We did particularly enjoy visiting the Swallow Bakery in Chichester. There were cupcakes and ice creams galore, gifts and sundaes we visited twice in four days and worryingly they also offer mail order! Here we can see evidence of the high cocoa content in their ice cream- enough to send a 3 year old all wide eyed and loopy!! Just a few more pics for the next post, I took some knitting along so I'll show you our new friends soon!