Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Less is More...But More is Moooore!

If you follow my flickr, I'll warn you now that you won't be reading anything new...unless I decide to sneak something in just to catch you out :p

The joys of making crackers descended today, although I've cheated a little bit this year and bought these amazing cracker "blanks" - they're musical! Woo! Because crackers should have the ability to be Incredibly Annoying I think. I've made little gifts to go inside them for my parents - an owly lavender sachet and lego cufflinks. The little notebook I knitted a cover for is too big to go inside the cracker, so I've just stuck a note in his telling him the Easter Bunny has hidden it and the first of a series of clues so he can find it again :) I don't care if he's now 16 - you're never too old for a treasure hunt, okay?

So on to the crackers. I had big ambitions this year to make them look...classy. It was an ambitious ambition for me to be honest, so have a look at how I got on...

First up is the cracker blanks - bought from the pound shop for their promise of Christmassy music!

Full of good intentions, I edged them with lace. This has been in my trims tin for a Long Time. I don't remember if I bought it new or if it's a vintage buy. Either way, it's time for it to be used up.

Then I chose some Hot Off the Press papers that I've had for at least a decade. Each paper is different, but in the same tone of red and I feel they add a touch of timeless classic (and classy) appeal. At this point I'm imagining I'm going to have the most elegant Christmas table. Ever.

I also have some gorgeous vellum paper in my stash - with gold stars on. A perfect match for the deep reds. Then the child in me started to pipe up that vellum paper would look fancier with pinking sheared edges....and each cracker needed four strips of it. The grown up part of me raised a rather worried eyebrow at this stage.

Inner child started to get more excited and stuck strips of starry peel off borders on each end of the crackers...mmmmm, shiny. You know what would go well with that? More borders for the central part of the crackers...and why stop at two when you can slap four on there!

The tops of the crackers then needed a final flourish - a star to go with the vellum! But one star was a little flat...four piled on top of each other was better...a stack of eight was mildy ridiculous but inner child was beaming at them. So eight it was. But they weren't as shiny as the peel offs which meant heaps of gold embossing powder just *had* to be melted onto them...and then some more just in case.

oooh...but I'd bought mini baubles for craft projects and red gems too. They needed to go on too! Inner child was insistent and I'm afraid...I obliged.

So there you have my Christmas Crackers all ready for Christmas Day lunch. I can almost imagine my mother looking wistfully at the dusting that will probably still need to be done as she calculates just how long it took me to produce such eye watering (and deafening) crackers....

PS. Advent candles need to warn you when they carry on burning past the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th of December.....

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Snow Days

Not strictly a snow day, as I'll be walking to work later on, but it is all gloriously white and fluffy out there!

Perfect weather to curl up with a bit of Christmas knitting and while away the hours.

Finished the handknitted things I wanted to make for my son; a balaclava and fingerless mitts. The balaclava was a request, the mitts an additional stocking stuffer (teenage boys stockings are hard!), although he prefers fingerless gloves to fingerless mittens, I'm still hoping he'll like them.

A hipflask cosy to match the mittens for my mother - she's a beater when my dad goes shooting, so this'll be ideal for hiding her tipple in.

And a cosy Christmas bauble for my tree, using the holly pattern from Little Cotton Rabbits - love, love, love this nestled in a snowy branch outside!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Bit of a catch up!

Time seems to move so quickly these days, but it's good to be back with a solid internet connection!

In the last few months, I've been busy with a new job, crafting and life in general. :)

I had some wonderful news last month - I entered a gardening competition as a giggle back in April and was "judged" August. I've only been here since last Christmas, so it really was just a bit of fun for me to enter. My little courtyard garden is full of containers that make me smile.

A dismissed-by-cat litter tray planted up with cat grass and cat mint; painted tin cans with summery flowers; old baskets stuffed with carrots; my treasured fuchsia cutting from my grandmother's plant snuggles and thrives in lego, tossed out storage tubs with beans, courgettes and sweet peas;

various garlands, birds, wreath and a squirrel feeder crocheted and pinned to the fences and sheds and knitted birds and mushrooms hiding in the foilage.

Not to mention my mismatched patio set and Hawaiian style umbrella! It's a garden that makes me giggle and delights my inner child.

I was floored when a letter came in the post telling me I'd won the Best Small Garden category! £50 of gardening vouchers are now happily nestling in the back of my purse ready for me to splurge come the spring. Weee!

There's been knitting - just for me. A pair of Sourwood Mountain mittens, made in the Mode DK yarn that my son treated me to for mother's day. I've been wearing them a lot - they're gorgeous for keeping my hands warm now the weather has turned chilly. They're roomy enough with the ribbing for me to slip a pair of gloves underneath them too for extra toastiness. Perfect. I just adore the leaves on the back of the hand :) I also made a Calorimetry too, from Patons Colour Work Aran - deliciously soft and squishy and keeps my head and ears warm without having to negotiate an "up-do".

Finally, a quick little collage of the Christmas gifts I've made so far - I'm determined that I only give handmade this year (apart from a few bought bits for my son), and it's been fun to make things that the recipients have either asked for or I know will be put to good use :)

Must be time for a coffee now?

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Clickety Clack

My needles have been busy :) I made another sheep from Anita's pattern.

A boyfriend for Woolly, although I think she's a bit above his league!

I love the versatility of knitting - being able to switch yarns and change the eyes has made Lem have a totally different character to Woolly. I think they make a great pair!

Also on (and off!) the needles was a snuggly hat for my DS's birthday in September. Muted green colour, so I hope he'll actually wear it.

And Dad's birthday socks are *nearly* finished -woo!

For some reason I find socks daunting. And they're not really. And if I didn't get sidetracked so easily, they're quite quick to knit.

I do love working with symfonie dpns. Not only to they feel great, but they're just so damn pretty to look at. As you get 6 needles, it's been easy to knit both socks at the same time so I can keep double checking the row counts and lengths against each other. Because socks should match, vaguely!

Moving on to the garden, I planted up potatoes for Christmas this week. Charlotte, Juliette and Maris Peer - 2 bags of each. I needed some way of telling them apart, so crocheted some hearts for the bags.

They all look a bit floppy at the moment, because they're only half full of compost - I'll keep topping them up as the leaves appear, and can't wait to have summery potatoes in the depth of winter!

Finally, a quick shot of one of the many visitors to the garden. My camera is not all that wonderful, so I'm rather pleased with this macro shot :) A lovely lady came yesterday and took photos of everything for a gardening competition I entered for a giggle. Her face bore a look somewhere between being bemused and impressed. I could ask for no more.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

More Test Knitting :)

It's about time I did an update! My hexagon blanket is still on hold while the weather is so warm - it's just too uncomfortable to work with it on my lap, and I refuse to work on it with grouchy thoughts in my head. Instead, I'm still working through little projects including a pair of socks for Dad's birthday at the end of August.

You'll have to excuse the wrinkly cloth - I pulled it out of the ironing pile to take the shot. Shame on me! They're just a basic ribbed pattern, because I don't think he'd wear anything with cables. Since his heart attack, he's really suffered with cold feet and spends the winters fighting off chilblains and what looks like trench foot! So I'm hoping he'll find these will help keep him cosy.

Moving on, I made a little mouse as a test knit for Julie - the pattern isn't up on Ravelry yet, but will be soon. It's really cute, fast to knit and would be a great toy for a small child. She's called Pumpkin, with a little orange dress and green bag. She's filled it with catnip, because she's daring like that ;)

My second test knit was for Anita, the first time I've test knitted for her, and a super fun pattern. Look at the tubby tummy on my lamb - doesn't it make you just want to squish and squeeze her? I decorated Woolly's tummy with surface crochet and a buttoned felt flower - I just don't seem to be able to just leave my softies plain - they cry to me that they want to have pretties! Anita is just finalizing the pattern now - it'll be available from ravelry right....here!

The last of my latest knits was this little fun fungi - Mr Fly Agaric. :) I used this free pattern from Abby Kroken. I'd like to end up with a little collection of them to dot around the garden.

That's me and my knitting caught up with - what are you working on now? :)

Friday, 16 July 2010

Romantic Meal for Two?!

My latest pattern!

A very good colleague friend of mine is switching jobs, and I needed something to give her so she never forgets me. We have the most wonderful relationship, based on traded giggly insults and I adore her. I overheard a conversation she had about the recession and caught her saying “We're living on beans!” (don't panic – she can still afford to heat the indoor pool and maintain the yacht...), so naturally, I figured I could treat her to lunch as her leaving present. And as she teases me over my urge to cosy everything with yarn, this humble can of beans obviously needed to be yarny too :)

Whilst this is obviously a very tongue-in-cheek present and knitting pattern, once the beans have been scoffed, it makes a pretty holder for pens, knitting needles, flowers, etc and appeals to my recycling side.

I've added a front pocket – to keep paperclips in perhaps? And one of the flowers is hot-glued to a little bulldog clip so it can be removed and perform bulldog-clippy duties.

Free pattern download can be found on ravelry - enjoy!

Monday, 12 July 2010

New Free Pattern!

It's been too warm to work on my hexagon blanket recently, plus I knitted up another February Lady Sweater for a friend, so my thoughts turned to small projects that can be finished quickly. I do like almost instant gratification!

There was a thread on Ravelry about kitties who stretch in weird and wonderful ways, so naturally, this led on to the development of.....Kitty Legwarmers! Because cats need stylish accessories to work out in too. Honest. Just think how wonderfully happy your furball will be when you whip up a pair!

I used Sirdar Crofter in the ironic colourway "Hound Dog" for Catalpa's pair. I've had this yarn for a while now - it seemed like such an amazing yarn when I first saw it, but I really dislike how it knits up for clothes - it's such a bold pattern effect that the mid-row switches really grate on me. But it is perfect for little things, and supersoft :)

Catalpa is so laid back, he didn't mind me kitting him out a la Fonda too much, but after a few minutes he discovered that pulling them off and cuddling them was the best...

Download the pattern from Ravelry - I've finally figured out how to do a .pdf! Hmm - there's probably a way to make the .pdf available from here too...erm, help?!

(edited to add that Ravelry helpfully gives a link to the pdf files to add to my site - how simple is that?!) download now

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Father's Day

Today is Father's Day, so I've had my parents over today for a braii (barbeque), and general daddy appreciation. My father and I have had our ups and downs over the years, but deep down I'm a daddy's girl and our relationship has grown stronger during my adult years. In short, I dote on him. He's my hero and I love him dearly.

I find it very easy to think of things to make for my mother, but really struggle when it comes to my dad. They both appreciate useful gifts, rather than decorative, and it's hard to come up with ideas for him.

He loves gypsy tart, which takes him right back to his school days, so despite the lack of picture, a gypsy tart was duly baked and given to him today. This is a stupidly easy recipe. Blind bake a pastry case in a flan dish and let it cool. Beat 12oz dark muscavado sugar with a 14oz tin of evaporated milk - for 10 minutes (this bit is important!) and bung in the oven, gas mark 6 for 10 minutes. Chill and eat. My poor food processor does not like being switched on for 10 minutes, and 8 minutes in started to spark. I hope I've not blown the motor, but too afraid to check and confirm right now!

Onto the woolly, yarny, scrummy part of his present. I have some Freedom Spirit yarn in green, that's 100% wool and will felt beautifully. So I started knitting...

I really love this beginning part, with the little square neatly framed with the dpns, but didn't pause for toooo long to admire it before knitting onwards, testing to see if it'll fit around the (pink) grapefruit and lime soap...

Clickety, click more rows added, another twisty cable emerges... Nearly there - this soap is so soft, the needles are beating it up as I'm knitting and it is sticky too...weird soap!

Nearly there - this soap is so soft, the needles are beating it up as I'm knitting and it is sticky too...weird soap!

Weave the yarn end in and add a little label so Dad knows what it is and tada! Pictured next to the card I made him out of various papers I had lying around. I drew the tree onto card and then used images from a wildlife magazine stuck on top for the bark and leaves. Snipped them out and stuck them down onto stripy embossed white card :)

I may have forgotten to add that it's *pink* grapefruit and lime soap...because it doesn't sound manly. He'll never know the soap itself has a definite pink tinge to it too ;)

Here it is all wrapped up in dotty paper and gingham ribbon. Now, I'm rather precious over my gingham ribbons - I love them a lot. Is it very wrong that I knew he'd unwrap it here and give me the ribbon back, so that's why I used it? Shhhhh!

Pattern for the soap sweater is this one. It's a free pattern for a basic plain soap sweater. If you want to know the cable twist I've used, I've put it on my project page.

I did have to explain to him what a soap in a sweater is supposed to be for, and reassure him that it really is a Very Good Idea and not Something I Should Be Committed For. He went home smiling and with a full tummy - I guess I can't ask for more than that :)