Saturday, 31 December 2016

Happy New Year!

The plan was to post all of this years knitted socks as my last post of 2016. My next post would then be about some of my plans for 2017. Last night though I had a chat with my sister about a project and got too excited not to share it. So my planned posts went right out the window.

As you know I treated myself to two advent calendars. Yarny advent calendars. The one from Lisa of For the Love of Yarn I used to crochet up a granny square lap blanket or  lapghan.

My sister has been loving watching the blanket. She loves colour and loves unusual combinations. Including combinations that has me questioning her tastes. I think she is just more playful and open to colour than I am and that's probably helpful considering what she does for a living. So she has been enjoying this blanket as I work on it. I have too I confess. It's given me the opportunity to let go of my controlling nature or rather need for order.

I gave my sister a choice last night. I offered her this blanket once finished or the chance to have her own but done in a granny stripe. I warned her that this would take a while as I have other things I want to do so it was up to her. She opted for the striped blanket. I pulled out all of my mini skeins from Lisa's mini skein club which I have yet to use for anything other than admiring. I thought she would want to pick out random colours much like the laphan. She started with a beautiful turquoise and went from there. The results are that first image of blues and purples. I can't wait to get started on it. I think it's going to make a beautiful blanket. Any mini skeins I receive in the future which will fit in I will automatically add to the pile. Looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

In the mean time, I picked out left over yarn from my socks and have added them to the blanket. I am almost finished the pink and have just one left after that. It's made a fairly decent sized lapblanket. Not looking forward to sewing in all the ends but I am looking forward to seeing it finished.

I haven't forgotten the socks I have been knitting with my Bluebell yarns advent calendar. I may finish those this weekend.

Meanwhile, I hope that you all have a lovely Hogmanay and that 2017 is a yarntastic year for you.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Christmas Crafting Goodies

I hope the rest of you were as lucky as I was. Failing that, I hope that you all had a nice relaxing Christmas. I came off night shift and was ran round after by my dad and my sister. I even managed to win a game of monopoly in my fatigued state without stealing from the bank (which I would obviously never ever do).  It was a nice few days and I am now finishing off another week of night shift before I get to have time off for Hogmanay.

As every year, I was spoiled rotten but I got a lot of crafting goodies. It was extra special because they were picked out by people who clearly put a lot of thought into it. This first was not a Christmas gift. In the countdown to Christmas Homemaker Magazine were hosting daily giveaways of books that won their Arts and Crafts book awards 2016. When I see these things I always put my name down with absolutely no expectation of winning and usually forget I have even done it. So I was pleasantly surprised when Homemaker got in touch via twitter to say that I had won. I am now the proud owner of this lovely embroidery book. As you know I love a craft book and I can't wait to read through it on my time off. I promise to review it for you soon. They also sent me this months Homemaker which was very kind of them. I already have this edition so I will pass it on to my sister.

My sister's gift was mainly yarny related. Lorraine, as you know, is an artist and while she has tried her hand at yarn crafts it's not her thing. She picked out this lovely merino wool by DMC because it matched my room. The yarn is lovely and soft and I can't wait to work with it. I have plans for a cushion and I think I'll try out the pattern I learned from the hook role kit. Or I might use bobbles, I haven't 100% decided.

Now I have talked about Wool and the Gang before and how much I would love to try their product. I follow the company on Instagram and Facebook and I am always salivating (lovely image for you) over their images. Lorraine was completely unaware of this and she not only got me two balls of their cotton yarn but she got them in my favourite colours. Very generous of her as these yarns can be expensive. I can't wait to work with them.

She also noticed that I have been doing a lot of crochet of late and so I also got this lovely little book. It has some lovely quick crochet projects in it. I have earmarked the wool and the gang yarn for one of the hats within it.  This will be another book for me to review for you.

My dad also got my sister and I a colouring book. This was a surprise as I didn't think he approved of spending time colouring. I love Johanna Basford colouring books and I don't have this one. I have a thing for greens and blues and the moment and I plan to go made with them in this.

I equally got my sister some creative gifts in the form of art supplies. I got her some water colour pens that I knew she had never tried before and some lovely travel sketch books and pastels. I actually had a little gift envy as I picked them out for her. Can't wait to see what she does with them and I will encourage her to blow the cobwebs off her blog with a post on it.

I hope that you all were able to have some creative outlets in the festive period and I hope that you enjoy your New Year. I am planning on a final post for 2016 but if I don't manage all the best for 2017.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Sister's Birthday Diamond Socks

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and that you got some lovely crafting goodies. I did and can't wait to show them to you. In the meantime I thought I would show you some socks that I designed for my sister's birthday. I meant to get some photo's of her wearing them but we were too busy enjoying her day and I didn't want to wait until the new year until I posted this.

I decided on a basic diamond pattern for her socks which I think you can see here. My sister loves her ankle books and likes her socks to have a ruffle hanging over them. I attempted that here and I think it worked although I would really like to see them on. It took a few attempts to get that right but I am fairly happy with it now. I think that when I get round to publishing the pattern I will give it a picot cuff rather than a ruffle. It will make my sister's birthday socks that little bit more special.

I did it again. I assumed I had a photo of the yarn on it's own before I photographed it. It was part of a surprise bundle I bought from Lisa of For The Love of Yarn. As soon as I saw the pink I knew I would be using it for my sister. It's a lovely deep pink with a bit of a sparkle. Lovely to knit with as always and Lorraine loved it.

I was still knitting these the day before my sister's birthday but since they are ankle socks and my sister has tiny feet I managed to finish them on time. I'm glad they worked out and my sister loved them.

Next year I am hoping to try my hand at more designs and to make the two that I have done this year available.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

December Stash

You have no idea how tempted I have been to buy festive related yarn. I have spotted so many lovely ones on instagram but have held strong. A few months ago I did sign up Lisa's Christmas box. For the Love of Yarn does this every year and I always sign up. This time I completely forgot and so it was a surprise when it came through my door. I was ecstatic with the colours. They are among my favourites. I also love the little stocking button and stitch marker and of course another hook to add to my collection. I have a few ideas as to what I am going to do with the yarn.

I also received my monthly mini skeins from Lisa. I have a fair collection of these. I am going to start a granny stripe blanket with them as I am loving the blanket I am making with the advent calendar mini skeins.

There were lots of goodies with this months Little Box of Crochet club. The pattern is for little cuffs which aren't to my taste but I think I will enjoy making. It also came with a fab stitch marker and some lovely scissors, not to mention tea, a hook and some labels. This club will be on hold next month as the owner wants to take some time to work on her ideas and of course to recoup with her daughter. It will be back in February though if you fancy joining.

As for me, other than the mini skein club I plan on buying no stash. Taking some time out myself to plan.

This will be my last post before Christmas. So I hope that you all have a lovely time. Think of us poor nurses who are working.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

December WIP

This months WIP is a sockfest. While I haven't been blogging I have been crafting away. In November's What's New post I mentioned that I had two yarny advent calendars. Both from indie dyers and both sock yarn based. The one from Bluebell yarn I decided to use the yarn to knit up some socks. This is out of my comfort zone as I have no control of how the colours create the sock. My sister believes this exercise will be good for me. Initially I planned to work on one sock at a time but the stripes were too large so I decided to make the socks match. I knitted both socks alongside each other and counted used 15 rounds per stripe. The result is the socks above and I have photographed it with the yarn that will be the toe. By the time you read this my socks will be finished and all the ends sewn in. Today's yarn will start a pair for my sister. I worked out that I will have enough for her since she has much smaller feet.

I also made a start on December's socks. I haven't had as much time to spend on them and I am hoping that I will not fail my monthly sock project at the last hurdle. This yarn is so lovely to knit with and the pattern is fairly simple and addictive. If it wasn't for my other projects I am sure I would be almost finished by now. Although I will be doing a new heal (new for me) and I am slightly worried about managing it.

For my third and final pair of socks I am working on my sisters birthday socks. I designed the pattern myself and had to do a bit of tweaking and started again a couple of times. I have one sock down and I am a good way into the second. Lorraine's birthday is in two days and she has been spending a lot of time over at mine so I'm not sure I will meet the deadline. Thankfully I have my sisters small feet and the fact that they are ankle socks on my side.

Lastly, I thought I would show you what I am doing with the second advent calendar. Another activity which takes me out of my comfort zone. This one is from Lisa of For the Love of Yarn. Lisa sent a pattern for a shawl along with her calendar. I had planned on using it but struggled to follow it. My excuse was that I had little time between work and studying and so I went for another option. I decided to use each mini skein as they came to create a granny square lap blanket. I'm really not used to not planning out my colours but I'm enjoying it. This is the blanket up to date. Today's colour is a red which I will look forward to adding. I don't think the yarn will make the blanket as big as I would like which is okay. I have plenty of mini skeins in my collection which I can use to add to it. Think I will have to put them into a bag and use pot luck to pick them out so that I continue with the random colour theme.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Little Box of Crochet - Hook Roll.

I opened up my first Little Box of Crochet and started the hook roll. I meant only to start it in order to try out the new pattern (new to me) and the next thing I knew I just had the border to do. It would have been rude not to finish it which I did this morning.

This monthly club is organised by a lady called Amanda. If you follow Amanda on Instagram you will already know of Amanda and her daughter's story. She is a special and strong lady and I have admired her strength from afar.

Each month Amanda organises a box of crochet goodies which include a pattern by a designer, the yarn to make the pattern and a crochet hook. The hook roll was from one month in the summer which Amanda designed herself. She was over enthusiastic with box numbers and so was selling them as a once off box on her etsy page. Which is how I was lucky enough to get a hold of one.

The instructions were in the form of a little booklet and were easy to follow. It contained photographs too which I always find helpful. I got to learn a stitch that I had always wanted to try and I loved the end results. The cotton yarn provided was of good quality and I love the end result. My non-crochet sister was impressed and has asked me to teach her.

I showed you the box on What's New post and it's a solid box which you could store your bits and bobs in. My sister is now using this one for her hair clips.

The little extras surprised me. I would have been happy with the yarn and the pattern. I certainly wasn't expecting the crochet hook and darning needle. The back of the booklet contained space to write notes but it also came with a little notebook and pen. There was also a cute little stitch marker (I love my stitch markers) which I sadly forgot to photograph.

I wish I had thought to photograph the inside of the box with the product but I will rectify that for next time. It sounds like I am raving but I am 100% impressed by this. The quality of the box and the instruction booklet as well as the yarn inside was worth the money alone. I can't stress enough how much this little monthly club has exceeded my expectations. If you have been thinking of joining do it. I linked Amanda's pages before but I'll link them again.


Friday, 25 November 2016

November Socks - New England

For November I went back to knitting a pattern. Instead of trying a new pattern I went to one of my favourites. It's called New England by Nancy Bush. I have knitted this so many times I can practically fly through it.

For the yarn I picked out one that had been in my stash for a while now. I was originally going to use this lovely yellow and white in October as I thought it would be the perfect autumn shade. Actually, it felt more summer like which was perfect for a cold November. The yarn is called Golden Eyes and is of course by the lovely Lisa of For the Love of Yarn.

I love the striping of the yarn and how the yellow is framed by stripes of grey. Even round the ankle the pooling is perfect.

My favourite part of this pattern is the diamonds travelling up the centre of the sock. The pattern should finish at the end of the diamond which means that the sock is a little long for me. This just makes them all the more cosy. Since it is freezing outside I will love putting these on when I come home from work.

I show this part of the pattern every time I knit these socks. As it is another aspect of the pattern that I love. These twists up the back of the sock give it that little stretch which means you don't need to knit a cuff and it's pretty too.

So far I have managed 11 months of socks. That's more than I managed the last time I started this challenge. For my final pair I have chosen a yarn I have never used before that has been matched to a pattern. The colours are among my favourite and they have a wintery feel which is fitting since they will be my December socks.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

What's New in November

Monthly boxed items is a bit of a hit just now. I did do Birchbox for a while but stopped when the products became very similar each month. I still recommend it but I got a little bored with it. I also started a new one called bookishly. Each month I am sent a classic book along with some tea. None of these are craft related and so not really relevant here. Little Box of Crochet is another that I have just recently joined. I have been a follower of this product and the person behind it both on Instagram and facebook. I'm not the most confident when it comes to crochet which put me off joining. Then an opportunity came up to purchase one of her boxes as a one off on etsy and I took it. As soon as it arrived I signed up for the monthly club. If you like little fun projects then this is most definitely for you. You can sign up via her website here.

I have also started a bullet journal. Good way for organising everything for an organise freak like me. I have been aware of bullet journals for quite a while now thanks to pinterest but only started it myself the last few months. The good thing about this is that it can be as basic or as decorative as you like and it can be adapted for whatever you need it for. As a result I have two, one for work and study and another for everything else. The originator has a website with some videos which are worth watching if you are interested. You can find this here but I will be doing a full post on it at some point in the future.

This is one of those things that I had meant to post long ago and well, forgot. As a result, I'm afraid it's too late for people to sign up for this although perhaps not for next year. I love an advent calendar and I have always admired those ones that contained something other than a chocolate. Last year I got my sister a lego calendar (I got her Lindt chocolate one this year as she said she would prefer chocolate). I was tempted to get the yankee candle calendar but I didn't like most of the scents within it. Would have been a waste of money. So this year one of my favourite crafting people (Lisa of For the Love of Yarn) had sent out a sign up for her advent calendar. A yarny one! I of course signed up and it is here on my mantlepiece patiently waiting. I'm afraid Lisa's isn't the only one I signed up for. Bluebell yarn is another indie dyer and I signed up for hers too. The hard part will be to not open each of the little parcels up ahead of time.  Will power is needed here.

I have also bought my first Christmas decorations in my new flat. I got these from another seller on etsy, Designosaur Yeah. As the title may suggest all of her makes are dinosaurs. I bought a bracelet from her for my sister and she loved it. These little dinosaur Christmas baubles are now a favourite of mine.

Lastly I have started using this book. It was a gift from my mum one Christmas and I have only now put it to use. I've tried out a few recipes and I plan to review it in the next week or two. So look out for that. If you can't wait you can get your copy here.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Mum's Garden - November

A surprise post and sadly only the one photo. On Saturday I paid a visit to my dad. I took him out for a coffee and I planned to do some work on the garden weather permitting. The last visit I pruned all the shrubs at the front but there was still a lot of dead plants and pruning to do. This time my dad wanted to help. I removed all the dead plants from the summer. I trimmed down a few more plants while my dad trimmed down the plants in the rock garden (thankfully he waited for my advice before starting this time so they may survive). I also trimmed down the small tree at the back.

While dad tidied I planted the spring bulbs as we went. I planted the tulips I saved from last year. I think this may be the last year we get anything from them. Might have to have a trip to Amsterdam just to replace them. I also planted some daffodils and lots of tulips. Lots of red flowers and some spring flowers for the bees. The only bulbs that weren't planted were crocuses but I plan to do that tomorrow. Spring next year should be more colourful than this year. I think my mum would be pleased.

Believe it or not there were still a couple of flowers in bloom. The roses each have a flower about to bloom. There was also a poppy and some kind of orange flower on display but I had to remove them to tidy the garden. Sadly, I wasn't able to take photo's. We didn't have time before the light began to fade and I think my dad just wanted it done. Will save it for next year.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Birthday Daimonds Socks 2

I knitted up my birthday diamond sock pattern for my sister. I used the same number of stitches but did fewer repeats of the pattern on the foot which worked. They fit my sister perfectly. Last post I showed you that I had started the final practise of the sock pattern before I write it up and publish it. I am hoping to do that before Christmas.

Once I again I used a yarn by Lisa of For the Love of Yarn. This time I picked out a solid colour from my stash as I wanted to see what it looked like without the variegated yarn. I chose the red and I loved how it turned out. Sadly, I didn't take a photo of the yarn before I started knitting with it as I assumed I had done that when I purchased it. Never assume. I do have a group photo from my Red post and you can see it on the far left. It deserves more limelight than that and I apologise for that (sorry Lisa).

I took more photos of the socks while my sister was wearing them. Sadly this was the only one that turned out. I need to practise that. She loves them though which is the main thing.

Friday, 4 November 2016

November WIP

It has been quite a while since I did a work in progress post. Mainly due to the fact that recently I've been doing the sensible thing and working on only one thing at a time. I'm back to multiple projects now that I am able to manage my time. This might seem like a boring image to start with but I love it. I love the crisp cleanness of it. This is the Heritage Cascade sock yarn I showed you in my last post. As I mentioned then it is being used for the final images for my birthday diamonds pattern. I love how it is knitting up. I very rarely knit with white on it's on but it's lovely to work with. This is the cuff completed and I am about to start on the pattern.

I have also made a start on this months socks. The yarn is from For the Love of Yarn. It's a complete change in colourway for me and I love it. I thought it would be very autumnal but it's actually brightening up my mood as we move into winter. I am also using my favourite pattern New England from Knitting on the Road by Nancy Bush. It's knitting up fast.

Just to prove I am not just knitting or just working on socks. This is the stylecraft yarn I showed you in the last post. As mentioned then I am using it to work on a blanket for my living room. I went with the African flower pattern as it's been one that I have been wanting to try for a long time. I'm also joining as I go which will save one big headache later.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

November Stash

All of these yarns in my stash are for a specific purpose which I will be using in the next month or two. Hence my breaking my yarn buying embargo. This beautiful yarn I saw on an instagram photo from one of my favourite knitting designers. I came across Ysolda through reading Clara Parkes book (which I reviewed a while ago). I have followed her since and loved all of her images. The image of this yarn was related to a sock pattern she was releasing and this yarn by La Bien Aimee was dyed especially for it. I also purchased the collection, Knitworthy 3, which contained the sock pattern. This yarn is just my colour and I thought I would end the year with it. So this will be my December socks. I'm looking forward to combining a skein of yarn with a mini skein. I've added Ysolda's website to my craft shopping page.

I am hoping to write out my first sock knitting pattern soon. For that I wanted to knit the pattern for a third time and this will be used for the images in the pattern. I wanted a colour that would suit the title which is Birthday Diamonds. I was initially thinking ice blue but changed it to white. I wanted to pick a yarn that most people would be able to have access to. Initially I was going to use Lorna's Laces but there was no white and so I went with Heritage Cascade sock yarn. I've used it before and liked knitting with it. I picked this up from Wool Warehouse.

I also decided that I needed a blanket to pull over myself in my living room when I want to snuggle up watching TV or reading a book. I picked these colours as it matches my living room and I've got to work on it already. You'll get to see that on Friday. The yarn is by Stylecraft and again I got it from Wool Warehouse.

Last but not least I thought I would show off this months mini skeins from Lisa's mini skein club (For the Love of Yarn). I like the variety in the selection. My favourite is right in the middle there in white, blues and purple. Although, I also love the yellow and purples next to it. Thank you Lisa.

Monday, 31 October 2016

October Socks - Halloween Style

Despite this post my October socks were actually finished in plenty of time. I just hadn't photographed them until recently. The socks had a Halloween theme to them. With all the work I had to do for university I decided on a basic sock pattern but picked out a yarn that would suit the month.

I am kicking myself that I didn't take a photo of the yarn on its own. Didn't realise that until I was putting this post together. A little late now. I showed of the yarn in my October stash post and it was by Mothy and the Squid who has become one of my favourite indie dyers.  This yarn (aptly named Frankenstein) was perfect for this month. As with all her yarns it was beautiful to knit with and I loved watching the random striping of the yarn.

No annoying pooling of the colours at the gusset which can sometimes happen with this type of heel. This image is actually closer to the true colouring of the yarn. Alas, I will be working on Halloween night and so will be saving these for when I come off night shift the next day.

Let me see your Halloween socks!

Friday, 28 October 2016

GBBO - The Final

The last 10  weeks seem to have flown by and we are at the final of Bake Off. I was sadly working and while I had every intention of watching it on catch up I went to my bed instead. Nothing wrong with that except I stupidly went on the internet before I watched it and spoiled it for myself. Lesson learned (at least you would think so, alas it's not the first time).

The final was a little sad on my part knowing that Bake Off won't be the same again. As I said before, I probably won't be watching when it moves channel.

Moving away from the down side. The bakers had to create a Royal meringue crown. It had to contain at least three layers and be fit for a Royal banquet. Andrew was my favourite however, he made a mistake early on. Mary said at the start that the sweetness of the meringue had to be contrasted with a sharp filling. Poor Andrew made the mistake of using a praline which made it far too sweet. Jane and Candice on the other hand both received a Hollywood handshake. Jane went for a simpler design but it turned out beautifully and won Paul over with the flavours. Candice went for something more complex in both design and flavour. Think she has to be congratulated for her Victorian crown at the top.

For the technical challenge the Bakers had to make a Victoria sponge. Sounds easy for the technical challenge of the final. Not when you consider their instructions which consisted of "Make a Victoria Sponge". I know I wouldn't be able to do that. All three bakers did well but Andrew came out on top this time with the perfect sponge. This put all three bakers on an equal footing again. If like me you need more instructions than these bakers had you can get it here.

The show stopper certainly tested the bakers skills. They had to create a total of 49 items for a picnic fit for the Queen. It had to contain one showstopper chocolate cake, 12 savoury scones, 12 quiches, 12 sausage rolls and 12 tarts. All three bakers had issues with flavour in their scones. Jane and Andrew had undercooked pastry in their sausage rolls and Andrew also had some soggy bottomed tarts. Candace clearly came out on top here and....

...unsurprisingly Candace was named the overall winner. She may not have been my favourite baker but the win was very well deserved on the day. I also like the fact that both she and Jane are planning a baking road trip together.

If you were a fan of last years bakers there was also a follow up on them including thoughts on their time in the tent. Well worth the watch.

Would be interested to hear your thoughts on this years Bake Off. As always, none of these images are mine and belong to the Bake Off website.