Monday, 29 February 2016

The Absent-Minded Giveaway

Not sure if it can be classed as absent minded. Perhaps just careless or pure greed. Anyway, I was going through my yarns yesterday. The plan was to pick out one that I would use for March's socks. When I picked up this one by Orange Jellyfish Dream. You might remember it from November's Stash post. I thought that it looked a little like another yarn I had recently ordered from Orange Jellyfish Dream. So I looked up my order and guess what. It looks the same because it is the same. Just shows you how much I love that colour.

So since I will now have to I have decided that the one winging its way to me now will be given away. All you have to do is comment below and say what you would use it for. That's purely for my own nosiness. Names will go in a hat and the winner will be announced on Wednesday 30th March. On the plus side it's been a few years since my last giveaway.

Oh, and the yarn is a sock weight superwash merino/nylon blend and is called Elf Cup. It's 100g so there would be enough for socks.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Sister's Easter Socks


Easter is a few weeks away yet but I was in a sock knitting kick and so I decided to start a pair for my sister. As you know we have a 'make the gift' policy when it comes to Easter.

You can't get more Easter-like than bright yellow (Easter chicks anyone?) and so I picked this colourway, called Zing, by For the Love of Yarn. Now it's a little bright even for me but it fits the theme and my sister will love it. It actually made for a cheery sight when the snow came down. As for the yarn base it's a merino/nylon blend. It's lovely to knit with as all of Lisa's yarns are.

The patter I chose for it is one that has been in my library for a long time. It's called Osier and is by Stefanina. You can find more of her patterns on her ravelry page but sadly she has not updated her blog in four years. I would say this pattern would be for your intermediate sock knitter. I say that only because of the way one of the rounds works out. You have to slip a stitch over the previous round but remember not to move the end of the round. Experienced knitters just learning to knit socks might find it to be an untaxing challenge.

What I love about it is that the pattern follows through both the cuff and the heel (this is the heel flap). It still give the heel it's sturdiness without disrupting the pattern. It was fun to watch it grow and I think that I would knit it again. I have a feeling that this pattern changes depending on the yarn colour. The images from the original pattern look different from mine. I attribute that to the brightness of the yellow but I still like it.

The only criticism I have is that it calls for only 2.5 repeats of the pattern for the leg. That works out at 30 rounds which makes it an ankle socks. This wasn't what I wanted and so it was easy enough to add an extra two repeats. I think making it shorter would have ruined it. If you look at the images on ravelry it would seem that other knitters had the same idea.

As I said, Easter is a few weeks away yet and I have plans to knit my sister another pair of socks. I already have an idea as to the yarn and the pattern. So watch this space.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

What's New In February

I love discovering new things in the crafting world. It can be an instagram account filled with gorgeous socks or rainbow crochet or it can be a podcast that I tell myself I need to listen to when I have more time. I think the fact that I love that sort of thing shows in my pinterest posts. However, my interest isn't purely peeked by pinterest. I come across these things through magazines, word of mouth or by pure happenstance. I always think that I need to remember to share that. Sadly, I always forget and so I have started a new monthly post where I don't forget these things and share them with you.

First up is a relatively new blog which I have grown to love. It's called Knit Purl Hook and I first came across it through beautiful crochet images on instagram. The author of the blog doesn't update regularly but when she does there is usually a pattern or a tutorial in there. I love seeing her posts on instagram. I think we have a similar taste in colours. I also plan on having a go at her easy peasy flower squares one day.

I came across this book via Purl Soho (a blog and website I have mentioned before). I have since ordered the book and can't wait to read it. I love a travel writing book. They make me want to go out and explore. They also make me insanely jealous that I can't just drop everything and travel the world. This is a travel book. Better yet it's a travel book by a knitter and yarn spinner. This is going to take a few weeks to arrive but I have a feeling it will be worth the wait. I promise to review it here as soon as I have read it. You can order your own copy here (or better yet go to your local yarn store/ book store as they may already have it).

A short list for this month but I thought I would round it off with something I find incredibly cute. I think most of you will have seen these boxed monthly subscriptions that are doing the rounds. It all started with graze and has went from there. My personal favourite is Birch Box but as this is a craft blog and not a make up blog I won't be talking about that. There is such a thing as Little Box of Crochet. You can subscribe on a month by month basis for a box which will contain a crochet kit. I love this idea. I also like their instagram page which has a lot of fantastic crochet images.

So there we have some of my favourite finds for this month. Hope you liked them as much as I do. I would also love to hear about some of the things you have come across as I am always on the lookout for something new and unusual.

Monday, 22 February 2016

February Stash

I both love and hate Instagram at the same time. I get to discover indie dyers and my bank balance takes a hit. I discovered Owl About Yarn via instagram and quickly followed her profile to her etsy page which was a mistake as I made a purchase straight away. I bought this stunningly pretty sparkly yarn which is part of her Sparkle Owl range. This colourway is called Quay Parade. A mix of rainbow colours against a predominantly blue background. It's almost as though it was made for me and therefore would have been rude not to pick it up. This will definitely be used for one of my monthly pairs of socks.

I am a sucker for stitch markers too. I have a large collection of them and I am always adding to my collection. I can't help it, it's a sickness. These stitch markers went straight into my basket as soon as I saw them. Dr Who stitch markers! What Whovian in their right mind could resist? I especially love the red converse.

As soon as my sock yarn and stitch markers arrived (very fast delivery by the way, I highly recommend) I went back to her etsy page. Although this time it wasn't supposed to be for me. I saw this colourway called Beach Huts and I purchased that too. I was originally going to use it for myself. However, since it arrived I can see myself knitting a pair of summer socks for my sister. I think she would like it.

I've added Owl About Yarn to my craft shopping list page. You'll find it under the Yarn list. You will also find her blog Owl About Yarn on my Craft Blog list. Each post has a podcast making it a little bit different. The author of these pages doesn't just knit, dye yarn and create stitch markers. She's also a spinner too. I know a few of you are interested in that side of things.

Not a month doesn't go by when I don't purchase something from my good friend Lisa of For the Love of Yarn. I signed up for her Valentines gift box (a gift to myself) and chose the sock option and then proceeded to forget all about it. In fact, I thought I knew what the box delivered was and so went a whole weekend without opening it (in my defence I was working that weekend). So it really was a surprise when I did finally open it. It came with yarn (of course), a sock pattern and a crochet hook, a bath bomb and a chocolate lolly (which has since been devoured).

The yarn came in what has become one of my favourite bases, donegal. It's also in my favourite colours, teal, blues and purples. Another yarn that will be used for only me. Anyone else got exciting yarn purchases?

Friday, 19 February 2016

A Walk in the Park

My sister and I have taken to long walks in local parks providing the weather is good. When you live in Glasgow all your life you forget that there are all of these lovely places to explore right on your door step. The last time we walked round Pollock park it was autumn and all the leaves were changing colour. We took the opportunity to take photographs as we went. Those photographs were all take with out iPhones.

That's the other thing that is easy to forget. With camera phones and how advanced they have become cameras are hidden away in drawers forgotten about. A few years ago (before my iPhone) my dad got me a Canon S90 digital camera. I used it for the knitting group but as soon as I got my phone it was easier to download straight from that. So I forgot just how good my camera is. So I took it with me this time and put it to good use.

I am lucky in that I have an artist for a sister and so she pointed me in the right direction with my first few photographs. After that I used my own instinct (she says I have a good eye).

I like the comparisons to autumns photo's with all the bare trees although there is still lots of green about.

This photograph is probably my favourite and I think I will get this one enlarged and framed for project new home. I like it because of the light filtering through in the background.

More importantly we actually got to see the cows this time and managed a few close ups. This poor cow spent much of the time being pushed along.

This last one was from the train station on the way home. When the sun finally came out and my poor sister was suffering from a migraine.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Personalised Colouring

My sister has been telling me for weeks that she has been working on something for me but of course won't tell me what it is. No matter how much I nagged. Although once she did almost cave. I assumed it was some kind of art work as it was something that took more than a night (if it was sewing she would have it done in a day or two). Monday she came over for dinner and presented her finished gift. It was my very own personalised colouring book.

It contains all the things I love, mushrooms, owls, fish, seahorses and dragonflies. She ensured that it was extra leafy because she knows how much I love the leaves. She scanned the images into her computer and printed them out onto extra thick card before binding the pages. The card thickness was so that I could use pen or pencil.

She even printed out a few extra pages so that she could colour with me. A happy night was spent on Monday with the two of us colouring away. Me with pen and my sister with pencil.

Personally I think my sister should set up an etsy page where people can buy their own colouring book. My Pins I Love post on Adult Colouring show that this can be successful. Not sure my sister is keen on the idea though. In the meantime I have a unique colouring book that no one else has.

Monday, 15 February 2016

February WIP

Unlike January, I am only going to show you what I've actually been working on. First on the list is a pair of socks I am knitting for my sister. These are for her Easter. As you probably know we have a 'make a gift' policy for Easter. The yarn is by For the Love of Yarn and the pattern is by Stephonia. I'm not going to say too much about it as I will do that when I have finished the socks.

I have the deposit for my flat and I am having a gut out before I go ahead and start hunting. I do need to get back on Project Home though. Therefore this blanket is back out. I just have one more stripe and the border to do. I plan to do that when I my sister and I have our movie nights. It's easy to transport small squares and I won't be giving surprises away.

I have also worked quite a bit on my shawl. You might notice a bit of a difference from January's image. All I have left to do is a few rows and then the border. I made a mistake with the current row and I need to frog it back otherwise I would have finished it by now. But then I probably wouldn't have got January's socks done.

Would love to see what you are working on this month.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Pins I Love - More Socks

Since this week has been all about socks I thought I would keep the theme going. I realise that we have already had a socks themed pinterest post. But that was a little over two years ago and I am always looking out for new sock patterns via pinterest.

This first pattern is probably the simplest of the five but it's one of my favourites. I had replied to a comment earlier saying that I wasn't sure what I would do for March but this might be it. look how effective it is with the striping of the yarn. This doesn't actually come with a pattern but is a series of notes. There is no instructions for the heel or toe but you could use your favourite way of doing either or a way that you think would best compliment the sock. The notes are by Hanna Levaniemi and can be found on ravelry for free (just click on the image). She has decided to use a different yarn entirely for the cuffs, heels and toes.

Another free pattern on ravelry but slightly more complicated. This one is by Natalia Vasilieva and is called Semki. I have this pattern in my library but haven't looked at it properly yet. Might have to leave this one until I have more time on my hands. I do love the look of it though. It's almost like little owls and would be perfect for a solid yarn. I also like the fact that the pattern travels all the way down to the tips of the toes.

Of course I was always going to have a pattern with a cable in there. Can't get much cabley than this pair by Patons. Again this is available for free on ravelry. I find it hard to believe that this yarn is knitted in 4ply only. The cables make it look a lot thicker. I think I will have to add this to my to do list. Another sock that would be better in a solid yarn. To be honest, I quite like it in the white.

This pattern and the next one are not for free. I think though you can see why the designer would expect to be paid for the pattern. Look how complex this is. It puts me in mind of sock designer Cookie A. This pair is called Summer Sliding and is by Jeannie Cartmel. She actually has a few lovely patterns to her name which I am going to investigate later.  I love the lime green of the yarn she used. The striping of the yarn is very subtle so it still shows off both the yarn and the pattern. Definitely one for the expert knitter I think.

Last but not least is a pair of lovely socks done in colourwork. I picked this pair because I recently came across it and it's kind of fitting since it's Valentines Day on Sunday (I will be celebrating with a 12 hour shift). Actually, my mum would have loved these. They are called ElinPelin socks and are by JennyPenny also on ravelry. She appears to be a talented designer as she has quite a lot of colour work patterns on there. Definitely worth going to have a look.

If you knit any of these let me know. I would love to see them. Love a knitted sock!

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

February Socks - Basic Sock

February's socks were started and finished with a few days hence the second sock post in the space of a few weeks. I struggled to decide what to do for this month. I wanted to get out one of my treasured hand-dyed yarns and knit the jaywalker again. At the same time I wanted to save that pattern for some sock yarn I have earmarked for my sister. In the end laziness won over. I decided on the only yarn that I had that wouldn't involves sitting winding it.

That meant using the second yarn I picked up when I was in York. I had picked this up because I thought at the time that it was mainly reds. But actually it's mainly pinks. I picked the basic pattern as I wanted to see what the striping effect would be like. I did think that there would be some fair isle in there going by one of the bands of colour but that turned out not to be the case. I'm also not entirely convinced that the yarn really needed that bright coral. However, overall, I'm pleased with the way it knitted up.

I also decided on a short row heel. My reason for doing that was that I wanted the striping of the sock to be continuous. When you do the heel turn and gusset it changes the way the yarn pools due to the fact that you are knitting on a larger area until of course you are back to your original stitch count. I didn't want that. I quite like the way the heel turned out. I like the fact that it has that pool of burgundy at it's centre. Unfortunately it's a little gappy and that's entirely down to my choice of needle size. This sock yarn would have been better suited to the 2.5mm rather than the 2.75mm since there was no pattern to the sock.

You can see from this photo just how luminous the coral is. I'll not lose those socks. I've also begun using my doodlestop project book. Loving it so far. I've started taping in the ballbands from the yarn and attaching some of the yarn just for my own reference.

Here is what this years 'operation sock drawer' looks like so far. It's safe to say that January's socks are my favourite so far.

Monday, 8 February 2016

January Socks - Trickle Socks

If you remember one of my plans for this year was to knit a pair of socks each month for myself. This would go towards 'operation sock drawer'.  Since January was my 'get organised' month I had planned on finishing 'Far Into the Forest', That obviously didn't happen. The truth is that I am stuck at the heel. Back when I was initially working on them the heel did not present any problems. I had a clear plan of how it worked. Since that was months ago that plan has long gone and I am now clueless. I am thinking that I might have to start again in order to get back into the swing of it.

Since I didn't want to fail on all my challenges I decided to just start a new pair of socks. I picked out Trickle Socks by Katie Douglas. I found this among my ravelry patterns on my iPad. I had obviously added it long ago and then forgot all about it.

Since the pattern involved some tiny ridged cables I wanted to ensure they could be seen and so I decided to use a solid yarn. Perfect since I had just picked up a few via my friends new etsy page (go check it out).  I love the Donegal base so I was extremely excited when I saw that not only was it in one of my favourite colours but that it was also sock weight. It's extremely soft and lovely to knit with. The little flecks are perfect against the jade colour of the yarn. Let's face it, this yarn was always going to be used on me as soon as I ordered it

As for the pattern itself, I very much enjoyed knitting it. As I have said time and time again, I love a cable. Look at those little ridges. This pattern is most definitely not for beginners. I think you need to be comfortable knitting socks to do this one. I wouldn't suggest it for someone wanting to try their first pattern away from the basic socks either. Unless of course you are fairly confident with cables. The heel and the toe aren't that much different to the basic socks. The heel is a little different in that it tries to follow the purl and knit pattern of the rest of the sock making it look like the cables evolve naturally from it. The pattern also comes in written instructions and in chart format. I personally prefer the chart so I went with that. The pattern is a 12 round repeat so you begin to pick up a pace fairly quickly. Be warned though as you might struggle to put them down.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Pins I Love - Adult Colouring

I actually don't like the term 'adult colouring' sounds a bit suggestive and I would almost be too wary of typing it in to google for fear of what might come up. Or does that say more about my mind? Regardless I still love it and you don't have to buy these large books if you don't want to. I thought I would scour my adult colouring board on pinterest to see if there was anything I could link here. I have to admit that there were a few missing links which was a shame but I think I found a nice selection and failing that there is nothing to stop you from having a wee search to see if there is something that suits your taste more.

This first one is an ebook on offer from Dawn Nicole Designs. Yes, you have to pay for it but you are helping to support an indie designer and I'm all for sending out support to indies. When looking at the blog it is clear that the author likes to craft in general. I like the feel of her blog. It's light and airy. Definitely go have a look.

I love this one. It's quite cute. This is part of a Halloween colouring book by Chubby Mermaid (LOVE the name) and can be found on etsy. The designer has a whole series of rather sweet colouring books that you can download (for a charge). She even has some individual pages that you can purchase for downloading so you don't even have to buy a whole book.

Sugar skulls are another fad that's around just now, although maybe that one is starting to cool down. I still like them and it helps that I have a skull loving sister (who loved them before there was a fad). These skulls are a free download from The Country Chic Cottage and they have a whole host of free colouring pages. The skulls though are my favourite. The blog is more of a lifestyle type blog. I've added it to the mixed craft blog list as there are a few things in there that might appeal to different people.

This last one is another along the sugar skulls line. Like the last set of pages this is free and comes from a website filled with lots of different pages. It's actually a resource website for kids filled with educational pages as well as colouring. Still, there might bee something there for everyone.

This last one is from Johanna Basford's Enchanted Forest book. I decided to post this image to show just how creative people can be with their colouring. On Tuesday I linked to her webpage. She has a whole gallery filled with examples of her pages coloured. Definitely go have a look as some of them are so pretty and may inspire.

The important thing though is that you have fun with it. After all colouring is meant to be relaxing.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

A Little Bit of Colour

If you want to know why I haven't been as successful with my January plans (more on that later) then this is it. Adult colouring is a fad that has been on the scene for the last year or two. It allows a person to get back in touch with their inner child and it's relaxing. Hands up who remembers spending time colouring as a child and can say it was a positive experience. I bet just about everyone and the only temper tantrums were when a sibling ruins a page by going outside the lines or when the ink pens bled through the paper.

I started off with one book and one small packet of pencils. That one book has grown to three and two postcard sets. I love it and I could (and have) spend hours on it.

I started off with Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford and then quickly added her Secret Garden postcards. I like the fact that the postcards were portable which meant I could colour on my break at work (something I did only once or twice). Basford actually has a blog and she has some videos on there where she gives suggestions on how to colour. I like these books for their fairy tale style.

Next I got a book that appealed to my inner geek, Dr Who. Actually, I picked up this one and the Sherlock Holmes as a gift for my sister. I just happened to order the Dr Who at the same time. I was actually worried that my sister the artist would be insulted by these but she actually loved it. We spent much of Christmas on these and lots of stormy days in too.

While on holiday I got my second set of cards called Animal Kingdom by Millie Marotta.  However, I only started using them a few weeks ago. The lines in these are much narrower and so I got myself some Stalibo 88 pens which I felt were find enough for the designs.

Lastly I got myself Lost Ocean by Johanna Basford. I loved drawing ocean scenes when I was little and so this appealed. I haven't actually finished anything in it yet but give it time. I did start some jellyfish (love a jellyfish).

What I also like about them is that they are still open to interpretation. You can see the difference just between my sister and I. Plus if you go onto instagram or pinterest and do a search using the book titles you will come across even more.

You don't even have to have an expensive set of pencils or pens. I originally started with Crayola pencils but moved on to Derwent when the Crayola's began breaking through being carted around so much. I have also begun collecting the Faber pencils which you can buy loose. Expensive but they offer a greater range of colour choices. The Stalibo 88 I have always liked and have often bought them for my sister.

If you want to have a go yourself there are lots of resources online. You don't have to purchase the books. Crafts Beautiful, the website for the magazine, has some sample pages that you can download and try. I came across those thanks to their twitter account. One of my favourite bloggers is a fashion designer and an illustrator and she has posted some of her own colouring pages too which you are free to print out. Her blog is called The Spinsterhood Diaries and she's one of the few blogs I still follow having come across it on Glipho (before it closed down).