Sunday, 1 December 2013

On the first day of advent

my true love sent to me...a penguin in an Acer tree. Hello! Are you getting the festive glittering feeling down in you toes? I have my own advent calender this year and as a way of getting you feeling all childlike and excitable I can thoroughly recommend it. Mine has beauty treats in which is ironic as the boiler has decided to make hot water in only two minute bursts so ablutions at the moment are both stressful and a little too 'invigorating'.
So the big news around here is that the 'Magical Stitchery Tour' has delivered it's first home party. We taught five people to crochet granny squares and helped a sixth make a cute crochet Robin. Nice work! It was really good fun and we are in the process of looking at venues and designing some six week 'learn to' courses for the new year. I have also completed a secret project, begun a crochet shawl/scarf combo for a gift and have avoided doing my City and Guilds. I am being a bit rubbish about doing my course work actually. The shiny sparkly newness of it has all worn off now and I don't really know how to get my ass in gear again. Maybe having a work room will help and apart from the lack of stairs up to it the actual attic room is coming on really well. I think builder fatigue is also a problem, they are so nice but a month of not having the house to ourselves is wearing pretty thin. I think if the builders had been any less than lovely I might have knocked them out with a roof joist actually, and I'm usually such a hospitable soul.
The felt decorations pictured above were designed and made by myself to tout at a craft fair, they didn't sell but will be the samples of 'festive felt' for courses next winter. It's all good! xxxxx

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Hello blogging my old friend

It has been a while. How are you? Are things good with you? We are all in one piece here, it has been one heck of a summer- Simon underwent spinal surgery, which went well thanks and then we moved house......again. Do you want to hear all about it? Shall we talk about the past, or the future. After such a long break I'm not sure how much back-story is necessary. Anyway my instinct is to be looking forward. After failing to finish my City and Guilds in the three years I have just paid a further enrolment. I Need to get this nailed, but I don't have anywhere to work or organise my supplies at the moment. The loft conversion should start next week so there is a light at the end of the tunnel- all be it a very distant one. I am reminded of the amazing work created in Peru and rural China though- I don't suppose the ladies who created this stitching have a dedicated work room so perhaps it will be possible to progress?
The Chain Gang is continuing to thrive which is lovely- we have a plan to knit a cardigan in a day to raise money for this space.
In other news a friend 'from the gang' and I are investigating business ideas. She has had quite a summer too and I think we are both ready for a change. Tiny baby steps though, we both have families and jobs and lives to keep jogging along so this is a weeny carrot seed we are planting rather than a huge fat acorn! 
On the making front I seem to have been knitting.....a lot..... this is simply due to it's portable nature and the fact that even if I can't find the right sized needles it is not the end of the world to buy another cheap pair. Like I said though, time to get my shoulder back to the C&G grind stone, I have come so far on the journey and need to take those last few weary steps. 

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Four needles, an adventure.

I was tempted. Not even forty hours in a desert and I succumbed. I'm sure you get those e-mails too; Deramores sale, Hancocks sale, Search Press sale. I was sucked in and spent a happy time filling my basket with books. I will show you the others at some point but today let's talk about Arne and Carlos. I love these guys, they are super cute. Mum had great fun kitting Christmas baubles from their first book but I was scared. I was scared of all that five needle action- the potential for disaster. I said 'I can't do that' I was wrong. This Easter book was in the 'Hurt Books' section of the Search Press website, and it did have a slightly bashed corner but it was cheap because of it's damage and it seriously didn't detract from the contents of the book one bit.Attempt one at knitting an egg can be seen above and to the left- yes it's a ball. I was so damned pleased with myself for not poking my eye out with one of the five (!) needles I was using I rather lost sight of the actual Pattern. Anyhow, that little ball under my belt, as it were, I tried a proper fair isle egg. Now my tension when stranding is as we have previously seen a bit uptight so all was well until I broke off the second colour of wool to finish the top section of my 'egg' and it all suddenly got a lot....floppier. Basically I ended up with a pear rather than an egg and had a bit of a crisis of confidence. Later though I saw that my pear was actually Matroyshka shaped! I added a felt head scarf and face and Bobs your Uncle and Anika's your Pear! 

Of course now that double endeds had been conquered I needed to really push the boundaries and try........socks! These beauties came out on the large size after convincing myself that my ankles were as fat as a 'large man's. They are great over another pair and under my walking boots though- I know- I have worn them thus! Everyone I know will be getting socks for Christmas =fact. Knitting socks is magic, it is quick , cheap, jolly, satisfying, a bit clever and showy offy. What is not to like? Finally I needed to show you the cute rabbit I made for the Chain Gang Easter swap. The pattern is Free and came from here. I changed the face a bit and added a scarf to reflect the chill weather. I was very very lucky to receive a swap gift made by Sarah and I will show that soon, probably along with about a dozen more socks! 

Monday, 11 March 2013

Wanna take a 'peekatmyknees'?

Ha- good job I am still knitting up scarves what with the foul bitter depressing weather we've got! I actually crocheted the boa from a ball of gypsy which cost me less than £4 on offer. The rather lush number on the right took three balls of something who's band I threw away, I want  to say carnival? That cost about £12 to make in total and I started and finished it during half term- hooray! I have visited three very different wool shops over the last few weeks. I find it fascinating how much layouts, range and degree of friendliness differ. I would actively want to visit one shop again and that is Wool in Bath.  I visited with my Mum and Auntie on Saturday as our mothers day treat and I could have spent a great deal more money and more time in 'Wool'- though definitely Google map it if you are planning a trip to Bath- you would be unlikely to stumble upon it otherwise. 

Here also in Pekinesse stitch, this is a looped stitch worked over a back stitch base. I wanted to use neutral threads to allow the texture of the stitch to be the star of the sample and I'm pleased with how it has come out. 
We have also found another house which we hope to buy, after the first just sort of didn't seem to happen. There will be lots to do to make it ours but I am really looking forward to rediscovering old friends in the packing cases (not literally you understand rather I mean books and the right size crochet hooks and some more quilting safety pins etc. etc.). Stay snug. XX

Friday, 1 March 2013

30 hours of fun- for £9.99

I’m afraid I’ve taken a rather long time in getting around to writing a review of 30 minute knitsby Carol Medrum. No excuses, just a life packed to the gunnels at the mo. Also this book has been very much in use. I challenge you to find a book on your shelf from which you have made four projects with more which tickle your fancy! I started by making some cute coasters for Toby’s excellent coffee house- someone liked them so much they nicked one in the first week! Next I made a tippet, or a tiny neck scarf and then a collar. Finally I adapted the bird pattern to attempts a flamingo but I won’t share it here as the kids tell me it looks like a flying pig!

You may have seen patterns featured from this book in magazines and on web sites, you may be thinking; what’s the point of buying it, I’ve probably seen all the best bits. Not a bit of it, this book has sixty patterns- yep 60- for just shy of a tenner! There is plenty more to see here. I didn’t time myself making these projects so I can’t tell you if they were genuinely 30 minute projects but they certainly were Quick. I would also say because of their size and the variety of techniques this would be a brilliant book for the beginner knitter, there are some great instructions at the back for all necessary techniques so I reckon you could teach yourself to knit and make a great selection of projects over a holiday. Because the projects are all small the yarn cost involved is tiny. I always rummage through wool bargain bins and then wonder what on earth to do with the fabulous single ball - not any more. The projects are knitted with a variety of yarn weights too, so it’s not all super quick=super chunky. Next for me is the Easter chick, tiny ted and some baby booties, that’s the next hour and a half filled anyway! 

I have been reviewing Search Press titles for a while now so perhaps it's time I mentioned again what the deal is. Basically Search Press send me some books for free now and again and I say what I think of them. There is no editing before these reviews are published here, I am under no compunction to say nice things, I am not paid by Search Press in any other way than getting some rather lovely free books. I also choose what  I'd like to review the books are already self selected to suit me, if you get what I mean. Sometimes I hand books on through the blog if I don't think I'll use them again- and sometimes- like this time I keep them all to my greedy self because the are so lush! Hope that clarifies things. 

Hugs xxxx

Monday, 25 February 2013

dem bones is in de bag

Herringbone stitch that is. This was cool, again lots of new ideas, I like the overlaying and working through buttons. 

In other crafting news we had a Valentine swap at the Chain Gang. It was really nice as everyone took part to make a little gift. In my quest to share my favourite bloggy hang outs I made some poochie bags from Happy Zombie, this site has lots of free tutorials and everything I have made from it has come together nicely. The bag below is now for Anna's dance kit and my friend Sarah has the one above for her crochet. If you need to make something for a swap, or want to use a few pretty fat quarters then Happy Zombie is certainly worth a visit.

It hasn't just been herringbone stitch that I have finished off. I have also made a more restrained free cross stitch sample. I think this looks kind of 60's ish?

This is my French Knot sample, I used a variety of monochrome fibres to build the sample and I am really pleased with it. I have more work to do with bullion knots and have just submitted pekinese stitch. It really is all go here! 
I had got my knickers in a right old twist about my City and Guilds deadline and how in the name of all that is holy I would possibly get it done. I really hope we'll have a house move over the summer, perhaps even a major re-furb to undertake. Talking to my tutor it would seem that I may have to re-register with City and Guilds to set the clock back to zero again. I really don't want to still be working on this qualification in three years time, but it is good to know that I will still have time for some light hearted stuff and I won't have to compromise on exploring my ideas to the full. 
How are you guys then? Are you keeping well? 

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Unless you get a little.....crazy

I went crazy with 'free cross stitch', totally bonkers in fact. Not like me at all, no neat lines, no structure just Julia Caprara's mantra of not using the same colour thread twice in a row. I worked from a jumbley pallet of fibres, including plastic and ribbon. Unfortunately, for my course, it was a bit too much- I'm hoping that the additional more buttoned up sample I have now completed will soon see 'not quite so' free 'thanks' cross stitch signed off. 
I have been reading a bit in bed. This quote from the slightly twisted but cool 'The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag' by Alan Bradley struck a chord;

"inspiration from outside one's self is like heat in an oven. It makes passable Bath buns. But inspiration from within is like a volcano; it changes the face of the world"

I have tried before to express myself on the subject of 'copying'. I think this quote sums it up so neatly. Taking and reproducing someone else's idea makes a 'passable bun' but only by working from within can something truly 'new' emerge. I tried to work a bit 'in the style of' with the above sample. The rich overlay of stitch that one sees from some big embroidery names but really my voice from within is quieter. So this doesn't really work for me. It's not who I am.

I will be sharing a few of my new found favourite blogs here over the next few posts and now seems a good point to share 'Plays with Needles'. If ever I need reassurance that a slow, considered, restrained,  circumspect approach to stitching is just fine then a visit here is guaranteed to give it. Enjoy. 

Monday, 21 January 2013

In the bag

I bought some tiny squares of marbled fabric at the knitting and stitching show eighteen months ago and decided the other day that it was time to stitch them together. I didn't want to loose any fabric so made the seams a feature and hand stitched as the squares are so small. One I had a strip I decided to applique it onto some nice wool fabric which had arrived in a donated fabric stash. Also in the bag was a blue cord skirt- great for a lining and I worked on the hem which I had cut off to neaten it up for straps.

I wanted to add a flap to the bag for some weather proofing and security. I used reverse applique to make the flap, again using material I'd been given and also a large crochet flower I made ages ago. This has certainly been a stash buster, and apart from those squares, which I think were £2.50 ish I haven't spent a bean making it

Working on the course has been a great discipline, but it is nice to fiddle about for no good reason and see what I can come up with. Back to the real work now, I have a pomegranate awaiting sketching and the next stitch sample is French knots and Bullion knots- beurgh! xxx

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Super fly

Fly stitch=tick! 
This was a fun one- I liked the grids and patterns which could be built by twisting and over-laying this stitch. I liked working the stitch through button holes- I'll certainly be doing that again!
How are you all? Are things good with you? Lets focus on the good stuff shall we? We had a stash swap at the makey group today, it was lovely, I came away with some lush Rowan yarn and a cute little heart shaped wooden box ready to tart up for our Valentines swap. I found a chair for £10 which will go nicely with our 1930's Ercol set. My pal is going to be working in my home town once a week which might mean more chance to catch up for lunch and chats. Mum and Dad are going to sit for us on Friday night- snow allowing- so we can hang out with some new friends. On balance things are o.k. I have a finished bag to photograph and show you, I have more City and Guilds work to share. I have plenty. 

Friday, 11 January 2013


We had an outing to Bridport before Christmas. The kids were with us so not a great deal of mooching time but the Wool Shop had a cafe at the back so I got a few minutes for drooling. I pointed out this book and 'Lima' yarn to Simon. Much too expensive to treat myself but the perfect gift for me to work on over the festive period. I have since had a look about and it seems there is a cheaper yarn with a similar tension which I would like to have a fiddle with- perhaps for Easter or Valentines? (hint hint Mr Lewis) 
Things have got a bit complicated on the house front, I won't bore you with the details. I am trying to keep my spirits up though and am finding lots of creative and organising type energy. I have written a plan all over my Molly Makes calender to make sure I can complete the City and Guilds in time for the October deadline.  I think I am heading for another year of upheaval, underneath though I am confident I will be moving forward towards my goals. Stitch by stitch, inch by inch, pound by pound. Considering what we managed last year I know we can do it! xxx