Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Birthday in Keswick.

My lovely sister treated myself and my dad to a few days in Keswick for my birthday. This was my first trip to the Lake District so it was a good choice and we had a lovely time. I thought I would share a few of the photo's I took as it was so scenic.

Let's be fair. Scotland has beautiful hills too and it's easy to forget that we were in England and not Scotland. Still go though as Keswick has it's own charm.

Lots of boating while we were out there and in fact we took a boat tour ourselves. I took so many photo's from that trip but I won't bore you with them all. I think the boat trip was my favourite and if you wanted you could hop on and off at various stops.

Derwent water (just like the pencil) has it's row boats which you can rent out. We were unable to talk my dad into taking us out.

Keswick is famous for it's wildlife. Although the geese and ducks aren't quite as so wild. They get up close and personal in the hopes of food which you can buy at the local shop.

I wasn't kidding when I said those geese get up close and personal. Although they were everywhere they were actually well behaved. Better behaved than the greedy geese.

As you would have realised from my last post Keswick is also famous for it's sheep.

And you can get up close and personal with them too. Although they are happy to feed themselves.

This is one of my favourite photo's and I have no real reason to share it with you other than that. Wouldn't catch me hand gliding.

Lastly, while I didn't do any yarn shopping I did find some yarn bombing just before you head out of town.

Monday, 29 August 2016

August Stash

Once again I had no intention of adding to my stash and once again I failed. My good friend Lisa was having a surprise yarn sale and I couldn't resist. It was £10 per skein and the surprise was the yarn you would get. This could be deemed as a risk but knowing Lisa's yarn I knew I would love it all. I received three skeins of sock yarn and they couldn't have been more perfect. A yarn that even my father couldn't say is girly and will therefore become socks for him. A deep pink for my pink loving sister and of course teal for me. The raspberry I have planned for my sister's birthday. I have promised her that I would design her birthday socks and I have an idea already. Looking forward to it. Thank you Lisa! Oh and make sure you head over to her etsy shop For The Love of Yarn as she is adding new colourways (trying not to look).

If you follow me on instagram you will see that I am just back from a weekend in Keswick which is in the Lake District. This was a birthday treat from my sister and it was lovely. I have some photo's to share as I took advantage of the scenery. While there I came across herdy. Herdy is a business which sells products inspired by Herdwick sheep. They also do a lot for the local community and environment. I loved their products and bought a few. These stitch markers and measuring tape was just one example. The bold colours as well as the sheep face is specific to herdy. They also do yarn which I resisted the temptation to purchase. I think I will treat myself once I have a project in mind. In the meantime why not head over to their shop and have a look.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

GBBO - Week 1

Hands up who else was excited that Bake Off was back? A little late this year although it doesn't feel quite so long ago that Nadiya won Bake Off 2015. We have a whole host of people to support this year. No Scots this time but still a few Celts in there and one fellow nurse. I'm hedging my bets this time though.

As always with Bake Off the images belong to the BBC and not myself. You can find their website here.

This series started off with a drizzle cake which is actually a fairly easy cake to start with. I was a little disappointed that most people stuck with the traditional. Louise and a few others added alcohol but sadly weren't successful with it. Altough kudos to her for making it the shape of the fruit. I think Salasi stood out on this round with his cake.

The mysetery challenge is a firm favourite in my family - the Jaffa Cake. I have to say, how can you not know what way round a Jaffa Cake goes. So many people made that mistake or had to think about it. I am hoping it is the intense atmosphere and not the fact that too few people don't know this British classic. I was actually jealous that they got the chance to make it and well done to Salasi for winning. I plan to have a go myself next week and luckily the recipe is up on the website. Thank you Mary Berry!

The last one I thought was actually quite difficult. To make a mirror cake. The judges emphasised the importance of the mirror glaze but they were just as fastidious about the genoise cake which I also thought was difficult for a first challenge. And a few people failed at one or the other. I actually had Salasi pegged as star baker this week but he didn't quite clinch his show stopper. Poor Benjamina had a few tears as she felt like her glaze wasn't working and then the judges loved it. Sometimes it all does work out. Look how pretty Andrew's cake is. I think he should get kudos for the sugar work.

Jane was the first star baker. She made the lovely lemon and poppy seed drizzle (love lemon and poppy seed). I can forgive her for that solitary jaffa cake that was upside down (almost) and her mirror cake did look pretty perfect. Wonder if she could be the next Nancy.

Sadly one person did have to leave and it was Lee. I always feel sorry for the first baker to leave but sadly each of his bakes failed to impress. Particularly his show stopper which contained only strawberries between the layers. Rookie mistake on a chocolate cake.

Next week we have biscuits which is always a favourite week of mine. Looking forward to it. Oh, and I did learn that I made my lemon drizzle cake right. I always thought you should be able to see the syrup down the sides. Every day is a school day.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Sister's Summer Socks

Summer is ending and I managed to knit my sisters summer socks just in time. I call them her summer socks because of the yarn which reminds me of summer. When my sister saw them she renamed them her unicorn socks. It's funny how people see different things in yarn.

The yarn is by Mothy and the Squid. She was my fibre swap partner earlier in the year and I am so glad I was partnered up with her because her yarn has become a favourite of mine. I especially love her rainbow series. This yarn is actually sport weight rather than sock. It just means it's 5ply rather than 4 and makes for a slightly thicker sock. The colourway is called "Summer Skies Rainbow". As soon as I saw it I thought it would be perfect for my sister and having knit with it I am actually a little jealous. It's beautiful to knit with. Head over to Mothy and the Squid's etsy shop and you'll find more of her beautiful yarn.

I used the basic sock pattern. I think for the rainbow yarn only the basic sock pattern will do. The colours have to be shown off and any pattern will hide that. It was fast to knit up. I do like a basic pattern now and then. Particularly if the colours are fun to watch as they come out.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Back to Life Drawing

It's been two years since my sister and I were planning to go to a life drawing group in town. I first posted about it on the 18th of August 2014 although we didn't go until later in September. It was something creative for me to do when I was waiting for my registration and company for my sister who didn't want to go on her own. I was dubious about it and a little uncomfortable to start with. I have actually missed it since and when Lorraine suggested we go again I didn't hesitate to say yes. As I mentioned in the last post it moved location. I think we both preferred the old location as you could stand and use a ledge but it was still a nice atmosphere and I recognised one or two people from before.

I used mainly pastels the entire time. The pencil drawing was the only one with a different medium which you saw on my What's New Post (therefore I won't show it again).  I prefer the pastels as I like the bold lines that they create. I also mixed it up this time by using different colours. I quite like the black with the navy and grey. I was also restricted to an A4 pad this time. Lorraine bought us both new sketch pads. It's just as well as I don't think there was enough space for us to use anything bigger although a few people seemed to manage it.

This one is my sister's favourite and I have to admit mine too. I used three different shades of green with this one and I quite like the way it turned out.

This one is one of my least favourites. I don't think I got the proportions right and I don't like the mix of colours. I am definitely a blue and green person.

Lorraine has let me show off a couple of hers. Now she has true talent.

I love the delicate lines of her sketches.

She even manages it with the pastels and gives it an ethereal look which I have said about previous drawings.

The main thing is we had fun and we are going back on Monday. I have also talked Lorraine into doing a guest post so that you will be able to see more of her art. This will be in a run up to her FINALLY starting her own blog about her art. Watch this space.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

A Collaboration - Kindred Creations

First of all I would like to start out by saying that neither of these images belong to me but in fact belong to two people I am dedicating this post to. I would like to give a shout out to two very talented people who have come together. I have raved about Lisa many a time. She is the creator behind For the Love of Yarn and I am a loyal customer of her yarn (too loyal my bank balance would say). I love knitting with her yarn and I never get bored of seeing her new creations.

The second person is Phylis behind Rosebuds & Rainbows. She is the fastest person I know with a crochet hook and her items always look beautiful. She has also taken to designing her own creations and they look amazing. Since a lot of the time she uses Lisa's yarn and sometimes they have collaborated it made sense that they came together. They recently launched Kindred Creations (the owner of these images).

It's a place for them to host their collaborations and I can't wait to see what they come up with. It's sure to be fun and exciting. They also posted the above image of the yarn they plan to use. So pretty! Please head over to their page (linked above) and like it. I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

July Socks - Pucker

I have a confession. While I started these socks in July I finished them in August. A chest infection will inhibit any ones crafting mojo.

The pattern is called Pucker by General Hogbuffer (love the name). It's a pattern I first spotted on pinterest. I knitted a pair of mosaic socks a few years ago and enjoyed it. So much I knitted four pairs and had others knitting them. That was almost three years ago now and it has taken me that long to find a similar pattern.

This pattern was easy to follow. The instructions were simple but in depth and the chart was well done too. I think it was actually easier to follow than the first pair I did. Specifically, the gusset and the heel were easier. The heel was simple and for the gusset you just followed the chart. Or maybe part of that comes with experience of following patterns but I don't think so. I still wouldn't recommend it for beginners but if you are up for a challenge go ahead.

The downside is the blocking. It badly requires blocking when finished. This wasn't the case for the first pair. The pattern is more close knit and it may have more to do with my tension. However, if you click on the link to the pattern at the start of the post you will see that one of the photo's is similar to mine so I'm not too worried about it.

The yarn I used was two solid colours. Red and off white and the brand was patons 4ply. I like patons yarn as it's quite soft and feels lovely on the feet. The author of the pattern used a a solid base and a variegated yarn which had a good effect. I might try this later.

August's socks are on the pins. They are special. It's a pattern that I am writing myself. Since August is my birthday month I wanted them to be special. So I've bit the bullet and I just hope it works out. To make it even more special my lovely friend Lisa has dyed me some yarn for the project. Can't wait to show the yarn off even if the socks don't work out. Watch this space.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

What's New In August

And it's about time! Feel like I have been waiting forever for Bake Off to return. First Sewing Bee was late and now Bake Off. To be fair it held off due to the Olympics. I can't really complain about that. There has been some press releases already showing the new bakers. Next Wednesday I am off and my day is booked! I will be on twitter no doubt while watching and my weekly Bake Off posts will be back. If you are interested you can follow me on twitter @Karencrafts.

Something else that's back is Life Drawing. Or rather I have been back. My sister and I returned on Monday night which is the first time since it moved to Sloans. I quite liked the new venue and I have the next few Mondays free and so I will be back. There is also one going near where I live so look out for more Life Drawing posts.

Like a lot of people out there I am a fan of Liberty of London. I love the fabrics and I have a few. I saw that there was a cross stitch book out and of course I ordered a copy. I have had a flick through it and I was a tiny bit disappointed with it. That was my initial reaction. I need to go back through it and then I'll review it for the blog. I got my copy from Waterstones.

I came across a new blog via facebook. There is a facebook group page which is for beginner sock knitters. It encourages people to knit socks and helps people from the start of the sock right to the end. The creator of the group is Winwick Mum who has her own blog and Sockalong. It doesn't matter that the sockalong started in 2015 you can join in any time. I highly recommend this for anyone who wants to take up sock knitting.

Last but not least is an etsy shop I came across thanks to Homemaker magazine. The shop is by Made By Mrs M. It has a small range of London themed fabrics which I love for their bold colours. I haven't ordered any yet bu I am sorely tempted. The owner also has some items made with the fabrics. It gives a good idea of what the fabrics look like if you are only interested in making something with it yourself. Or you can buy a cute little gift for yourself or a friend.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Colour Inspiration - Orange

You wouldn't believe it now but I once hated orange. For years I detested it. I wouldn't wear anything orange or buy anything at all in the colour (I still don't wear it to be honest). The last few years it has not only grown on me I have become a little obsessed with it. For the last few years I had planned that my bedroom would be orange and teal but mainly teal. Now that it has become a reality it's mainly orange.  It's a bright sunshine colour and can be overwhelming. However, if done right it can be uplifting.

I have begun collecting fabrics for a quilt I plan to make for my room. It will be my first quilt and I plan for it to be fairly simple. Just squares in orange, teal and white. The problem being that I am finding it difficult to find orange fabrics and ones that I like. This is my collection thus far and they don't really go together. I still like them though. The bottom fabric with the mushrooms I have had for a while and sadly I have no idea where I got it from. This is more of a burnt orange and so rather than have it for the quilt it will back up a few cross stitch cushions. The top two fabrics I got from Purple Stitches. I highly recommend them for speed of delivery. I have ordered from them a few times now and I have always been pleased and the fabric has always been as I expected it to be.

Shockingly I have no orange sock yarn. Something I may have to rectify (because of course I don't have enough). Funnily, I received my mini skein set from Lisa as I was planning this post and one of the skeins contained orange. I will need to plan something with it for my room.

Another way of adding a hint of orange to a room is to paint (revamp) some old furniture. Chalk Paint is perfect for this (I learned this from Homemaker). Annie Sloan is famous for her chalk paint. I was having a look as I have a full length mirror with a wooden frame. The frame matches the wood in my room but it's looking a little tired. Once I build up the courage I might treat myself to some chalk paint and freshen it. Barcelona Orange would be perfect. Annie Sloan doesn't just sell her paint but she has a blog and hints and tips on how to use the paint. The paint itself is a little expensive but you can order samples for a fraction of the price and in some cases these might just be enough for the project you have in mind. I might order a sample and paint some picture frames.

My obsession with orange actually goes all the way back to me spotting a camper van cross stitch pillow in an issue of cross stitcher. That was back in 2012. I found a new appreciation for the colour and fell in love with camper vans. I did attempt to see if this pattern was still available to purchase from the magazine but sadly that's not the case and it's now out of print. I look forward to bringing this home.

I suppose that orange would go with yellow but the colour I chose was teal. Teal is one of my all time favourite colours. If you don't know that then you haven't been paying attention to my blog (so rude). When I planned the colours for a room that didn't exist yet I started this blanket. When I finished it a month or so before I purchased my flat I was actually unsure that I liked it. Turns out I just needed a lighter space for me to appreciate it. If you want to know more about the blanket you can see it here.

In other news I just about have all the furniture for my bedroom. I just have to get the wall art up (still to do) and add other craft projects I have planned. I'll give a full virtual tour once it's finished. Don't expect that to be soon.

Anyone else found a new appreciation for a colour they previously detested?

P.S I have seen a lot of orange with pink or with grey of late. I think I prefer the teal.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Pins I Love - Sashiko

I have promised a post on Sashiko for so long now that I bet most of you have forgotten. I haven't and it's been niggling away that I haven't done it yet. I also haven't finished my own Sashiko project as it's sitting collecting dust at my dads. My flat has all come together and I have most of my furniture, including a desk. I am hoping that by the end of August I will have packed everything and have it here with me (if not unpacked).

In the meantime I thought I would share with you some tutorials I have come across. Maybe it will encourage you to give it a go or maybe it will give you inspiration. Maybe both. As always with my Pins I Love posts none of the images are mine (although in this case the rubbish one at the top is mine) and you can click on the images to take you directly to the source. Have fun!

The first tutorial I picked because it came from one of my favourite websites and it was one of the first tutorials I came across. I love Purl Bee. It has lots of gorgeous patterns. Some of which are free. I mainly like it for it's knitting patterns. I always think they look so fresh. It shouldn't surprise me that there should be a tutorial on Sashiko since the website also covers stitching but it did. Pleasantly I should say. I should also stop calling them Purl Bee since they changed the name a few years back to Purl Soho (my bad). They even have pattern on offer but be warned it will be posted out to you from the States so might be pricey.

The second tutorial is a good one too. I like it for the fact that it shows you that Sashiko can be used to decorate just about anything. In this case the edging of some curtains. This is particularly good if you want to jazz up some boring curtains. My own curtains are too heavy for this to work (night shift needs heavy curtains) but if you have something light weight it would be perfect. This comes from Stitch Craft Create magazine. They don't seem to be publishing anymore but their old blog posts and tutorials are still there for the moment.

I love this one for a couple of reasons. First of all the stitches are in red. Secondly they are so tiny and precise. Thirdly it's a video from instagram by liubov21.03.76_. She has a youtube channel too but it's not in English. However, you can follow her link to it from her instagram page if you are interested.  Now this isn't a full tutorial. It's a short video of the creator crafting some stitches. It does give you an idea of what's involved though and it's mesmerising to watch.

This last tutorial is by Sake Puppets. It follow the traditional route of white embroidery thread on dark blue. Traditionally Japanese used the white threads to reinforce their kimono's and decorative patterns then ensued. Interestingly the person who wrote this tutorial moved to Tokyo and started a blog on the crafts she learned (along with her husband) there. Sashiko is one of them and she now has an etsy shop with her patterns.

I hope you like the tutorials and if it inspires you to do some yourself I would love to see it. Incidentally, I have saved all of these links to my craft tutorials page under sewing.