Wednesday, 28 October 2015

One Snuggly Cowl

So I finished my cowl. I started it one day before my night shift and then finished it while over at my sister's. This is something that I could easily have done in a day because it's just so addictive.

 Just a wee reminder of what it looked like when it first arrived. Two skeins of yarn and a lovely sparkly hook to work with (I am fair collecting them). All from the lovely Lisa of For the Love of Yarn. In my favourite colour too.

It's a simple pattern. I mean if I can do it then anyone can. Simple but effective. I love it and yes, I plan to do another one but for my sister. This close up shows just how lovely this yarn is. It's the donegal base in DK. I have a thing for tweed yarn just now.

I could have added the second skein of yarn to the cowl and made it a lot longer. I normally prefer scarves long but I decided that I wanted to save the second skein for a hat, which you may be well aware I have already made a start on. I love how the colour changes look throughout and I can't wait to see the same thing in the hat.

Use this as a lesson to be learned. Don't wear blue when trying to show something else that's blue. Hard when it's your go to colour.

Monday, 26 October 2015

October WIP

How has the time flown so fast? Feels like I only just posted Septembers WIP. Yet here we are. I am pleased to say that October also consisted of a few finishes. However, this is about what I am working on. I started a second acer which I am making to go with my hat. This is instead of the cable scarf. Gave up finding one that I liked. It's a little coarser than my first acer and definitely thicker but I think it will be cosy. Going to need it as I am freezing already.

After washing my fabric, which was where we were at with my last WIP post, I made a start on my hexies. I have maybe 20 more to go before I have enough for the cushion for my sister. If that works out I have plenty of fabric to make a matching cushion. These are addictive and I hope to have them all finished soon.

So I started the cowl from the cowl kit I bought from Lisa. And then I finished it. I asked for two skeins of yarn in the kit and so I have started a hat to match the cowl. I originally planned to look out a pattern for a slouchy hat but being lazy I just used the same pattern that I did for my last hat. I'm using bigger needles so that the hat will be less fitted.

Lastly I am still working on this months yarn blanket squares. I have about half of the last skein finished. Shouldn't take me too long to finish.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Christmas Countdown Week 2 - blankets

I had planned on doing something else today and to post the blankets further down the line. However, if you want a blanket all ready for Christmas you should probably start now. You might not have much time for anything else mind you. Most of these blankets are crochet and you will find that they will grow much more quickly than the knitted. Unless of course you are just learning to crochet.

This first blanket is called a Snowflake Afghan and is by Lois Olson. You can find her pattern on ravelry.  I would probably do this in pale blue rather than dark. But that's the beauty of something like this. You can choose the colours to suit. I have seen this on ravelry done in green, red and even variegated yarn. You could even have more than one colour in there. This is done in aran which would work up more quickly but again you could do it in a finer yarn for a smaller hexagon. You would just need to do more of them. Of course if you are really clever you could do your own matching cushion.

This pattern is a little more complicated but still crochet. It's called the Yule Tree Throw and even comes with a matching cushion cover. This pattern is available on Red Heart which is an American yarn brand.  A friend of mine made a lovely blanket with this yarn. Lovely and soft and she was able to get a good deal by ordering it in bulk. Again with this pattern you could change the colour to suit yourself. Although the green does go with the tree motif. This is one of those aran style crochet blankets which I have admired but never attempted.

This blanket is a little bit more special than the others in that it was part of a crochet along. The panels were revealed one at a time giving people the chance to crochet alongside others and making the final piece a surprise. You can find the entire pattern on Repeat After Me. This is a fab crochet blog which has lots of patterns and well worth the read. This is again a complex (to me) crochet pattern which involves colour changes and a type of crochet that is all the rage just now and that's the corner to corner (or c2c) blanket. The author of this pattern links a few tutorials on how to do this.

This is the odd one out in that it is quilted and not crochet. This lovely quilted piece is actually a wall hanging but could be made larger to use as a blanket. The pattern for this can be found on Purl Soho which is one of my favourite crafting pages. I love this page for it's simple clean lines. If you visit the website often enough you'll know what I mean. All their makes seem to follow this even if they come from various designers. I think you can always tell a Purl Soho pattern.  It's listed under the yarn section of my blog list as Purl Bee. As I said you could always make this larger and you could change the colours to suit such as pale blues and purples.

You have seen this before. This is my mum showing off her Christmas blanket. She was so proud of it and every year it would come out and hang over the sofa. I show you this not to be nostalgic or bring the mood down but to show you that you don't have to have a complex pattern or a specific Christmas pattern to make it a Christmas blanket. You just need to change the colours. In this case my mum was learning both how to crochet and to crochet a granny square. She decided to use that learning experience to make this Christmas blanket. So if you know how to do a granny square you can make a blanket by choosing Christmas colours. You don't even have to have lots of colour changes. So here is a link to a tutorial on how to do a granny square. This was created by Heather of Little Tin Bird which is a lovely blog filled with gorgeous photography and some crochet in there too.

Next week I may have a guest post for you to look forward to. It's from someone that I have unashamedly shouted out about over and over again for being extremely talented. I am also hoping to have a WIP post for October (since it's almost finished) and of course a Christmas post which I have changed the theme of twice now.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Acer Shawl CAL

Just over a week ago my friend invited me to join a Crochet along page on facebook called Love Crochet CALs. It's a page set up by Love Crochet which does exactly what it says on the tin. It involes crochet alongs organised by the Love Crochet website. The current one is an Acer shawl designed by Joanne Scarce. The actual event was to start last Wednesday and the designer would be available to answer questions. As I was on night shift I thought that meant I couldn't take part and so I bowed out. Only then to discover lots of people would miss it and were taking part anyway.

No encouragement needed. I looked out some yarn. Bought the pattern and got started before I began my shift. Less than one week later my stash is 100g of sock yarn lighter and I have an acer shawl. My first ever crochet shawl.

I first attempted the shawl with yarn that I had bought from Lisa. It was the first sock gradient kit. I found that it was too crinkly for me to use of a pattern that I barely understood. Going back to the drawing board I had another yarn which I had in mind but couldn't find (I know it's there somewhere) and then found this. I am sure my friend Helen gave this too me after describing it as hideous. I've earned a fair few balls of sock yarn from her this way. I have lost the band so I must have started using it at some point and then changed my mind. So I have no idea what it is but I thought it would be perfect for this project.

I had two more false starts with the pattern. I still see myself as a novice when it comes to crochet and especially to reading crochet patterns. I eventually had to slow myself down and tell myself to ignore my instinct of it feeling wrong and just follow the pattern.

I'm glad I did because the next day before leaving for another night shift this had happened. I was addicted and in love with the pattern. I loved the striping of the yarn and the colours, in my humble opinion, suit the autumn season.

On my day off I had planned to finish knitting a pair of socks that I were just about done but know. I finished the acer. This is it before pinning. The pattern is just as nice without and I am of the philosophy of getting out of pinning if you can (I am a lazy crafter). However, I felt it was too small without it. If I had more of the yarn I would have kept going and made it bigger. On the plus side you can really see the pattern after a day of pinning it out. Just scroll back to the top and you will see what it is like after.

So on my next day off I went back to those socks.....after starting another acer.

I have placed The Love Crochet website under craft blogs. They do sell patterns and they link to various sites that sell their wares but it is mainly a group site for those who, well, Love Crochet. I have also linked the designer, Joanne Scarce, blog there. It's called The Crochet Project and Not So Granny.

Monday, 19 October 2015

October Stash

I am sure there will come a month where I don't buy anything...maybe. So don't be expecting this every month. This time I decided to add some fabric into the mix. Mainly because I bought fabric that didn't come from hobbycraft. I have picked up fabric in other places before but I wasn't very careful in noting where I got it or what it was. These fabrics usually have a purpose in mind even if that purpose still hasn't come to fruition. This fabric though I happened to spy on instagram. Mandors were showing some of their liberty fabrics which they happen to sell on etsy. Now I could have went into town and had a look myself but given the shifts that I have had this week that wasn't going to happen.

As I said both fabrics are Liberty fabrics. They are known for their bright florals. I have been very tempted in the past to buy shoes with Liberty fabrics (this still might happen). I picked up the red and the blue as I thought I would more likely use them. My favourite though is the blue although it's darker than I would have liked. That still wouldn't have stopped me from buying it.

 This fabric is from Hobbycraft. I was going in to get a few tools I needed for my hexies when I spotted this. My sister loves her skulls and she likes black. Her entire wardrobe is pretty much black. However, she also loves pink and accessorises with it. Her bedroom is also pink and so I thought this fabric would be perfect for her. I have made umpteen things for her living room but only one crochet blanket for her bedroom. I think some hexie cushions are on the cards (providing the first ones turn out).

My good friend Lisa has been on top form this month with all of her kits. I should just hand over my monthly wage to her. So far I have ordered the Christmas stockings, the Christmas yarn box, the sock kit and this which is the cowl kit. We were given options as to the yarn base. I chose the donegal base because I liked working with it so much. This came in my favourite colour - blue. I will be making this one for myself. I chose the larger kit and I think I will be making myself a matching hat if I don't use it all in the cowl.

I bought this last month and you saw the hat that I made with one ball. This is the rest which I finally have planned out. In fact I have started to use it up. For that though you will have to wait and see. It's a lovely yarn to work with. Nice and soft plus I am really loving the tweed yarn just now. Normally I wouldn't go for the beige but this was originally meant to finish a lap blanket. I actually like the colour as it seems to change in different light settings.

I can't promise there will be no stash next month but I will do my best. It is coming up for Christmas after all.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Christmas Countdown Week 1 - Stockings

So this is my Friday replacement. I had to have a new theme to put in place of the Bake Off. I had a few ideas floating around but I settled on this one. I know that there will be many of you wondering why on earth I would be doing this since it's not even Halloween. Well, I have a number of reasons. First of all Christmas is going to be rubbish this year. Most of you will know that Christmas was my mum's holiday. She would have celebrated it all year long if she could and she would start preparing for the next Christmas as soon as the current one was over. Christmas films would make an appearance as early as July. It's also her birthday. So you can imagine that none of us are looking forward to it. My mum would have hated that and so I am trying to keep things more positive and this is my way of doing that. This is for her really.

The second reason is that if you are a crafter you will know there is no such thing as too early when it comes to starting you crafts for Christmas. I know a few people who have started already. If you include today there are actually only 10 Friday's left until the big day. That's not a lot of time to get your gifts ready. So each week I am going to post a few ideas with some links so that you can be ready too.

This week I decided to focus on stockings. I have always intended to make stockings for family. I even started once and I have no idea where that went to. My friend Lisa of For the Love of Yarn has created a stocking kit. You get some of her scrummy yarn (in red or green). Enough of which to make not one but two stockings. You get the pattern for the stocking as well as a few little extras. My kit arrived this week and I plan on getting started with it soon.

I then did my usual and looked around facebook for more inspiration. I came across this beautiful, Scandinavian style, knitted stocking. This pattern is available from ravelry and is by Kirsten Spurkland. It's not a free pattern and I doubt anyone would expect it to be. I would need more than the 10 Fridays we have to make at least one of these but I think it would be worth it.

The pattern for these stockings is free on the other hand and can also be found on ravelry. It's called Fabulously Festive Christmas Stockings by Julie King. I like their bright colours but I also like the fact that they make use of different types of crochet stitches. You could also pick your colour choices to suit the individual. The downside of course is all the ends you would have to sew in. Might be worth it though.

I decided that no stocking list would be complete without one that has been stitched. This particular one comes with a free tutorial by Sew Like Mum.You can also visit her blog here and have a look at lots of other good tutorials. I have added this link to my tutorial page and the blog to my blog list page. I would be very tempted to try this one as there are a lot of lovely Christmas fabrics out just now.

Last but not least I spotted these little Christmas stockings that you can hang on your tree. My mum had knitted a few of these for her tree when I was little and she used to fill them with candy canes and other sweets. I like that these ones are hung up like a garland and if you were to knit enough of them you could create an advent calendar. This is also a free pattern which is by Little Cotton Rabbits. I might even have a go at one myself this year. You never know. Little Cotton Rabbits itself looks like a lovely blog which you can find here (as well as on my craft blog page). There are lots of hand knit patterns on there.

So that's my first Christmas countdown. As well planned as I sound I have no idea what I am going to do next week. Hopefully you will like whatever I choose and I do have some ideas flying around my head. Let me know if you decide to make anything from this list. Would love to see it.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Winter Is Coming.

I never knit myself anything for winter. I always say that I am going to and every year I pin away of pinterest lots of lovely cabled woollies. But I never get round to it. I'm good at that. Plan and plan and then it's spring. Everyone tells me I'm good at the planning. Well, I bought some double knit tweed yarn by Sublime. I had intended on using it to finish off the lap blanket that I was making for my gran. Sadly this double knit was a lot finer than the lovely donegal based yarn by Lisa. I would ruin the blanket and waste both yarns by using it. So now I have 6 balls of this yarn and no idea what to do with it. I did consider getting a pale pink and making a blanket with it but I didn't like the pink this yarn came in. So I decided to knit something for myself that would keep me warm on the way into work.

Hence this hat. I managed to knit it using just one 50g ball and just a tiny bit to spare.

I saw the pattern on pinterest (all those hours are not wasted after all). It's called The Woods Hat by Po Lena and you can purchase it from ravelry.  It stood out to me mainly because the images in the pattern show the hat knitted up in teal which (as you know) is a favourite of mine. It also has lots of cables which I also loved. While you look at the cables please ignore my tired face. Post night shift isn't the most flattering of looks.

I had hoped it would be more like a slouchy hat but it is meant to be a beanie style and it fits perfectly as such. I didn't think I would suit the beanie but I actually quite like it. I would be very tempted to knit this in other colours. It didn't take me long at all and only work got in the way of finishing it sooner. Isn't that always the way? It's a fairly easy pattern and the cables aren't too complicated. I think someone who wanted to move on to cables would find this as a good beginning. The pattern itself works over a 6row repeat and as I said knits up quickly. I did add an extra repeat and I think if I was doing it again I would maybe use larger needles.

I have 5 more balls of the tweed left. I plan to knit a scarf with that. Just need to find a pattern that I like. Any recommendations? Must have cables.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Blanket Club Month 9

This months blanket club box arrived from Lisa of For the Love of Yarn. Of course I was still half way through one skein of yarn in the previous month. Oops! I absolutely love the coral. It's a lovely colour and follows on nicely from last month yellow (for those who are joining as they go). It actually reminds me of a pair of socks I knitted once, for my gran I think. Same colour but this yarn is much softer. It also has little splashes of red here and there which I love.

The little extras this month was this lovely ribbon. I love ribbon. Have a box full of it as I used to buy ribbon whenever I saw it on sale. These will be lovely additions, or maybe I should actually use it. I especially love the lace and think it would make a lovely addition to some ankle socks. I think I even have a pattern that involves stitching some ribbon to the cuff.

I didn't cheat. I finished off the yellow squares before I even started this months. This months square involved a new stitch which I had never heard of let alone done before. Thankfully Lisa kindly provided a link to a youtube video which showed how to do it. Being too lazy to type it all in I just typed the stitch into the search engine and used this video which was handy. Although frustrating. Too long spent working up to the stitch while I'm shouting at the screen to just hurry up and show me how to do it. It worked though and if you want to learn it go ahead and view it. You will also find it linked on my new page titled craft tutorial links.

With this square I had to leave out a round so that it would be the same size as all the others. It's the way I crochet. The logical step would be to leave out the last round but that made it too small. Someone else had the same problem and they mentioned that they had left out the third round rather than the last. It made no sense to me. I tried it though and sure enough it worked. I have almost finished the squares for my mum's blanket and won't be long in moving on to mine. Loving this new stitch.

Friday, 9 October 2015

GBBO - Week 10 The Final

My last GBBO post. Well, until next year. I was actually off and so able to see this one which is good because facebook or twitter or even the papers would have spoiled it for me. I did feel that Ian was maybe the only one not deserving to be in the final. He always comes across as being a little blase about the whole thing. He states that everything is easy until it comes to actually doing it. And then on Wednesday night there were a few tears from Ian which made me feel bad for not being a fan of his.

The show started off with one of Paul's favourites and one of mine. Iced buns. Who doesn't love an iced bun (only strange folk that's who). Poor Nadiya was doubted at first for having the audacity to make one set of her buns round. What's wrong with a round bun? I've had many a round bun and they taste just as nice as the fingers. Paul certainly ate his words when Nadiya nailed it. She was the only one who managed to get the flavours right AND make them look pretty. They also made me look at my low fat yogurt in disdain.

For the technical challenge the finalists had to make Mille-feuille. Wouldn't have known them by name but they look familiar. Paul was being deliberately cruel on this one. All three of the finalists had done poorly with various pastries and so he deliberately chose a challenge that involved, well, pastry. They looked so yummy too. Nadiya was the only one who nailed it as her pastry was spot on. Sadly the recipe for this hasn't been posted on the GBBO website. I am guessing the Bake off challenge ended with last weeks then? Did anyone take part? Fingers crossed I get to do that next year.

For the show stopper challenge the contestant had to make a classic British cake. The twist was that there had to be more than one tier and all of the cakes had to be the exact same consistency. Ian chose a carrot cake (which is one of my favourites). I feel that he should get a shout out because he had to start again and still managed five perfect carrot cakes. I have to be honest that I didn't get that the decoration on each cake made one large carrot until Paul pointed it out. Oops! I think kudos has to go to Tamal. He made a caramel sticky toffee cake. The decoration on it was amazing and I wish that there was a decent image of it. He went made with the spun sugar with elaborate decorations on all three. The three were then connected with a large spun sugar web. It was pretty amazing to see. My heart went out to Nadiya who basically made her dream wedding cake. It did look beautiful.

By the end it came as no surprise to me that Nadiya was announced the winner. This was her weekend. Unlike the others absolutely nothing went wrong for her. She deserved it and I loved her speech afterwards. Clearly someone who has always doubted her own abilities has just had it proven to her that she can do anything. I look forward to seeing what she does in the future. Hopefully bring out a book like most of last years contestants.

I think Mary Berry should get a mention here as she almost shed some tears when talking about Nadiya as the winner. Nice to see the judges getting emotional over cake for a change. Gives the poor contestants a rest.

I of course had to purchase the Bake Off book that went with the series. I actually bought this before it aired. So it's been sitting on my shelf unopened as I didn't want to spoil it for myself. I don't just love seeing how the bakers do each week but I also like to see what they have been told to bake. Better as a surprise. Sadly, it doesn't contain anything from the final so you will have to go elsewhere for those recipes but it has everything else and some extras. I won't do a proper review of it until I actually make something.

And for the last time all images apart from the last are not mine. You can get them and more information on the GBBO website.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

In Memory of My Wee Gran.

 As you already know we recently had to say goodbye to my gran. Given that we had lost my mum not so long ago this was hard. I did learn a few things about my gran though which I will share with you throughout this post. What I will always remember about my gran is what she was to us growing up. Until recently my gran was one of the strongest women I knew. In our eyes she was super gran. She was stuborn (a family trait) and not afraid to say exactly what was on her mind. First and foremost though she was a fixer. To us she could do anything. If anything was broken our war cry was "it's okay, granny will fix it". Much to my mum's amusement but oh the pressure we put our gran under. Yet I don't think she ever let us down and that mantra stayed with us. Even when she became less able, she could certainly tell you how to fix things.

However, this is about my gran and her influence on us in the craft and creative sense. She had a huge influence on my mum and myself as a result. She was also one of my sister's biggest art fans and helped her out when it came to projects she was doing that involved sewing. I can't remember if I mentioned to you the many afternoons as a child my mum, gran and aunt would spend together knitting away. Either for babies due or for us kids. I even vaguely remember them knitting care bears for charity (much to my sister, cousing and I's disgust as we were huge care bear fans). To me that was the first knitting group.

On leaving school though, my grans first job was at a Taylor's where she was a seemstress. What I didn't know was that she quickly became one of the finishers. Only the best got to be a finisher. She made a lot of her own clothes which she had to lock away from her sisters. It wouldn't even surprise me if she had made her Wedding dress pictured above as it certainly wouldn't have been the last Wedding dress made by her fair hands.

Growing up my mum and aunt were always the best dressed thanks to all the clothes my gran made for them. We could always tell when looking at a photo of them if it was something my gran had made for them. We grew up with it too. We all had a flower girl dress made by our gran. Our Cindy's and Barbies were the best dressed thanks to her sewing skills. I particularly remember a blue cindy dress with black lace and a pair of blue bloomers for underneath. We all had that one. Then there was halloween. My gran LOVED halloween and she loved a party. There are many photo's of her dressed up singing and dancing. She also made all of our costumes by hand. We have all had turns at being a Spanish dancer, a flower, a genie, Dracula's bride (my sisters favourite costume), a squa, Alice in Wonderland to name but a few. Gran was always there on dress up day to make sure we got our costumes and make up right and to basically enjoy it. One thing that did annoy her is that we wouldn't act the part as we were in the parade. Something I know she would have enjoyed doing. We were much too shy though. She also did the boring stuff. Anything that needed hemmed or mended she was there with her sewing machine.

As mentioned earlier she was also a beautiful knitter. We all had jumpers that she had knitted. Beautiful fair isle and scandinavian knits. In later years when she became a great granny she loved to knit baby clothes and was always showing them off. As she should. She was fascinated with the knitting group that I had set up and even went along to Gartmore in my place a few years ago and she enjoyed the company and seeing that the talents she learned were still out there. She even knitted bags and bags of baby clothes for our premature charity. All beautifully done.

Just before she went into hospital she made me take home the baby set and shawl pictured above. I was sworn to keep them or pass it on to someone special. So keeping them I am for now. It would be a shame if they didn't get used.  Sadly I don't think that my photograph skills do either of them justice. Like her sewing skills she learned to knit early on. Her mum was a dyer and I am sure my great granny taught her skills. In fact I remember posting a story here about my gran and a socks she had started. She always loved getting socks from me. Every Christmas and birthday she looked forward to them and she wore them.

Later, to keep her occupied, she would use up odd pieces of yarn and knit squares. She would spend hours doing this and then spend hours sewing them into blankets. We all got one and we loved them. I still have mine which is sitting at the bottome of my bed. My mum even got two. One of which she passed onto my sister after hers was ruined when her house got flooded. My mum, however, was the only one who got one big enough for a double bed and in colours that she loved - red. I think mum looked forward to bringing this out every winter and if she was cold she would hawl it downstairs. Once we all had a blanket each she didn't stop. She would sew squares together to make little blankets which she would hand in to various animal shelters.

There was obviously a lot more to this lady than that but these are my special memories of her and I can thank both her and my mum for the influence they had on me.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Cosiest Socks

These socks shall forever be called the cosiest socks EVER. I started them before my mum took unwell and worked on them as I sat with her. All I had to do was graft the toes of the second sock. Circumstances meant that I never did graft those toes. I then came across them last week and I thought it was about time they got done. Friday night I was feeling the chill and I decided to put them on. They are without a doubt the comfiest socks I have knitted yet and they are so warm. I had them on after a 12 hour shift and they soothed my sore and tired feet. Miracle socks should be their other name.

This is where the yarn came from. I signed up to Lisa's yarn club in January and this was what arrived. I immediately fell in love with it. I actually showed this off on my first come back post in February.  I had no idea what I was going to do with it at the time. I just knew I wanted it to be special. I then attempted to knit a basic sock with it as I wanted to show off the striping of the yarn but as you can see here it didn't work out. So I hunted out a sock book I had that had several patterns especially for DK yarn.

The book is called Country Weekend Socks by Madeline Weston. I've had it for a while but never knitted anything from it. In fact a friend of mine used it before I did. I promise to review it once I have used at least one more pattern. The pattern I picked for this pair was the Cable and Seed Stitch Denim Socks by  Debbie Abraham. It was fairly easy to follow. A good pattern for anyone wanting to move on from the basic sock (who has a love of cables). I liked it not just because of the cables but also because of the frilled cuff. This was probably the most difficult part of the pattern.

They were quite quick to knit up because they were in double knit. I would have finished them months ago had I not taken such a big break from them. They might make my feet look chunky but given that the cold weather has come in who cares. I would love several pairs of these.

I know I had said that I was going to do a dedication to my gran. However, I was out all day and wanted to photograph some of the things she made that I have in a better light. It's dark now and so I'll post it on Wednesday instead.