Not quite 10 Random Things

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Oooh I thought when I saw this shepherd’s hut a while back. I parked and walked back to have a peer at it. Actually it’s only got that tiny little window so wouldn’t be a great craft hideaway, which is probably a good thing as in a nanosecond I was already planning where to park it in the back garden and musing about taking it to the seaside. Mad. And no, that’s not expensive at all. Is it? Ha!
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I went to a food and craft fair a few weeks ago with a friend. We were a bit disappointed to find the craft part was really just a few tables with jewellery, homemade cards, decoupage kits although one had these rather lovely vintage fabric owl cushions and things. The food part was redundant as we’d already eaten mystery sausage baps at mine before leaving. Mystery for her as I made her guess the flavours as I chose them from my super local butchers (homemade meaty sausages. Yum) This time they were pork, celery and Stilton. She liked them too.

Tiny confession: The food wasn’t 100% redundant as I bought homemade fudge and I think my friend chose pick ‘n mix. I can’t be sure as my eyes were firmly fixed on my slices of fudge.

We each bought raffle tickets to support the local cause and later she had a call to say there was an arty raffle prize on the way! Lucky duck…not really as it turned out to be an Usborne book on Modern Art, for children. I’m going to give it to my nieces.

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Six rainbow trout freshly caught in a Wiltshire lake. One bartered for cider at the local shop, one to a neighbour, two smoked to be eaten as potted trout or just as they are with salad. Yum. I bought a Fladen home smoker so the fisherman’s experimenting with whisky, hickory and applewood smoking chips. I like the whisky (cask) chips best so far. The other fishes are in the freezer getting in my way as they are solid slightly curled forms so hinder neatly stacking tubs. (Before you leave ‘Urgh’ comments on my behalf about finding trout in the sink, I don’t mind at all. I vacate the kitchen, after opening the window and door then let the cleaning begin. The only issue last Autumn was the windows being left open during the first home smoker test. The house stank of hickory smoke!)
A few days ago the shopkeeper gave us a leg of pork as another thank you for the (unbartered) trout he’s had over the last few years, and the neighbour bought some German Friendship Cake batter around. I love this type of thing!

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My Bondaweb finally arrived so I could have a second go at applique. The blue bird was my first go, then I adjusted the stitch and felt happier with the other, though went a bit off track on his head.
This bag is all ready to applique. I fixed the petals on with Bondaweb, at the same time as I prepared the birdie tea towels, but it doesn’t entirely like the canvas. They’re pinned as well now; just in case I find petals on the floor. I might applique them by hand, it depends how I find the thickness of the canvas. The fabric is from a pack of fat quarters I bought from Amazon. It turns out not to be a good idea to buy fabric online, unless it’s a brand you know. It’s very thin.

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Here’s my unplanned and unexpected find from yesterday. We were mooching around a smallish and not particularly lovely little town we once lived for a year. It was a stick a pin in a map at a halfway point kind of decision then, and it worked. There are so many charity shops now. The vintage style flowers caught my eye, then the 100% cotton label. I bought it purely for the fabric. How about a flowery tote bag for the Summer? It’s thin enough to sew with my little machine, thick enough for shopping or carrying books. It cost £2.95!
I’ve spent several years reading blogs where someone’s visited their local op, thift or charity shop and picked up a real find. Well I think this is mine!

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This morning’s crochet for a few minutes. It’s the final edging row, I’m halfway around and then another blanket bites the dust!
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The tomato plants getting some sun toughening up outside, jogging on the spot and doing crunches (whatever they are?!) before they go into grow bags. Hopefully we’ll have bowlfuls of red Gardener’s Delight cherry tomatoes and some yellow Golden Sunrise. I need a really good crop as I’m competing with a friend this year. Greenhouses are for sissy tomatoes!!!!

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I hope you’ve had a restful Sunday too. If you plan to post your own 10ish Random Things please leave a comment or link below, I’d like to read yours.

The Colourful World of Kaffe Fassett – The American Museum, Bath (part 3)

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Even when the stunning Kaffe Fassett exhibition is no longer at The American Museum, Bath, (after 2nd November) it’s really worth visiting. As you see I wasn’t exaggerating when I described the beautiful Wiltshire countryside. What a stunning location.

The museum has a collection of over 250 American quilts. A large proportion are displayed in impressive racks which you can flick through like you used to be able to do in The Poster Shops of the 1980s and 90s, albeit on a huge scale. The last three quilts are hanging at the top of the house and were created by Kaffe Fassett, aren’t they beautiful? There are also his sketches and swatches too, dotted around the main museum building. So if you visit the exhibition don’t pass the main house by; it’s full of interesting American folk and decorative arts, as well as furniture and original interiors bought by the museum’s founders before demolition in the States.

I bought a few treats from the shop too. Some edible (naughty naughty Reeces which I grew up eating courtesy of American rellies and friends, and some of those OTT flavoured Snyder’s of Hanover honey mustard pretzel pieces – love ‘em), a sweet patchwork log cabin patterned tin and a few cards which will be posted to friends in the future. The shop is always a really fun last thing to do on a special day out isn’t it?

 

The Colourful World of Kaffe Fassett – The American Museum, Bath (part 2)

 

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The pics above and below is the flooring of the green room, very cleverly, and expensively according to one of the curators, created for the exhibition.

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20140410-160156.jpgOh dear you can really tell that this was a windowless room, despite my clicking the ‘enhance’ photo button. But isn’t this a stunning display? After leaving this part of the exhibition I really felt as if I had spent time in a garden. There seems to be something incredibly refreshing about being surrounded so many shades of green. It’s strange but I’ve never chosen to wear green ever; if you asked me pre-2011 I would always have said it was my least favourite colour. Since I learnt to crochet in 2011 I’ve found myself inexplicably drawn to green. It’s really odd. At times after reading about those who’ve had strokes and discovered they now love eating vegetables that they previously couldn’t bear, I wonder if I’ve experienced a small one which changed my colour perception and tastes. This is not meant to be disrespectful or flippant, I am completely (if oddly) serious.

There is going to have to be a part 3 about the exhibition. I took so many photos. I don’t look back at my blog much at all, it’s very much of the moment and I move on to the next thing, but the two posts I’ve revisited fairly frequently, when I want a jolt of inspiration, are my visit to The Fashion and Textile Museum last June to see Kaffe Fassett: A Life in Colour and last year’s Spring Knitting and Stitching Show.

I’ll leave you with some of my favourite quotes from Kaffe’s publications from a display at the exhibition:

 ‘Working with colour is not an intellectual game. You should see what the heart feels, that way you will stumble across more and more personal excitement in your work.’ Glorious Inspiration (1991)

‘The main thing is to have a go at trying 0ut colours, the wilder the better. None of us designers really know what works until we see it, so sampling becomes wonderfully exciting as you stumble on really unpredictable and interesting colouring.’ Pattern Library (2003)

‘My first lesson about design – when in doubt, try it!’ Glorious Knitting (1985)

‘Since I was such a freak – a six-foot-three Californian man who was knitting – I got a lot of attention from the press.’ Dreaming in Colour (2012)

‘Purple or red cabbages are fabulous objects, with deep, mysterious colours. I once heard of a garden planted with rows of purple cabbages and lined with chunks of black coal – how elegant it must have been!’ Glorious Needlepoint (1987)

The Colourful World of Kaffe Fassett – The American Museum, Bath (part 1)

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I’ve long been an admirer of Kaffe Fassett’s work since the 1980s when Mum introduced me to some of his books. The colour! The tapestry vegetable cushions! The knitting! The handsome man with the cheeky twinkling eyes! (I had rather a crush on KF.) I’d loved visiting his exhibition A Life in Colour last June in London and couldn’t wait to see more.

Well as you can see I had a fantastic visit to The American Museum in Bath yesterday. There’s been such a buzz about the exhibition online and in craft magazines that I just had to go SOON, although it’s on until 2nd November. I loved reading Kaffe’s take on the display. The exhibition’s housed in a separate building from the main museum, which has existed for 50 years in the renovated Claverton Manor. The American Museum is worth visiting simply for the grounds alone. If you want to sit, or walk, in warm Spring sunshine while enjoying a view of verdant rolling hills and stunning English countryside this is the place for you.

While driving to Bath I fleetingly wondered if I should keep my iphone firmly in my bag and simply look, exclaim and take it all in. But, during days out like this, I just think how much you’ll, probably, enjoy seeing such an explosion of colour, design and inspiration. Especially if you’re the other side of the world and unlikely to be able to visit. I experience a very strong urge to share. There are many, many items exhibited and I’ve shared just a selection of my favourites. The last photo is not great (there wasn’t a huge amount of natural light in the building, which you’ve no doubt gathered and flash photography is a no-no) but I’ve put it in as a cheeky hint of amazing things to come. Really. The exhibition was grouped into areas by colour and I’ve saved my favourite until last. I arrived just after noon; only twenty minutes into opening so was lucky enough to see the green room alone for some minutes. Bliss.

More to come tomorrow….

Say hello to Stanley….

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If you follow Kate Bruning’s Greedy for Colour blog then you’ll have recognised Stanley straightaway, if not then you’re really in a for a treat. If you scroll through Kate’s posts you’ll see lots more of the cheeky Stanley, his Mum and friends.

So why and how and when did Stanley appear the other side of the world playing his own brand of ‘Where’s Wally?’ Well, last November Kate asked if I would do her a favour sometime and test a pattern from her forthcoming book. What an honour! She sent the pattern recently and I loved crocheting Stanley. I just sewed him up today and what a cheeky face he has! He’s winking isn’t he? Somebody saw him and straight away said “He’s a dude.” He is indeed.

Kate tells me she’s about to send the book to the printers, I can’t wait to read the story and try some more of the patterns. Clever and exciting projects can come out of blogs which begin as chatty crafty diaries of everyday life eh? It’s inspiring.

Wakefield Country Courtyard

The other day I met a friend for lunch and a walk in Salcey Forest, where I spotted these gorgeous primroses growing at the foot of a tree.

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She had to head back up the M1 after lunch and so I paid a return visit to Wakefield Country Courtyard. Another friend took me there a few years ago but the photos I took then were all dark and fuzzy. I enjoy having a wander again, but it’s small and so best visited if you happen to be in the direction of Towcester or the A5. I wouldn’t plan a day trip unless you want to combine it with a good yomp at Salcey Forest.

This blanket caught my eye in the ARTea Room and Gallery, I’m dithering about whether to add this kind of scallopy edge to my huge granny square blanket border. So far I’ve crocheted a few rows of treble clusters and I need to make a decision.

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My brain was whirling and I wondered if I might make some pretty applique bags, purses and notebook covers as sewing practice and gifts for family and friends….

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I need to try some applique after my first effort when my sewing machine was new.

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A relaxing pit-stop with a copy of Country Living and a cream tea. Naughty but nice! On the windowsill to my right were  wooden bowls, jewellery, toys and knick knacks for sale. There’s a lovely selection of art and craft things all around the cafe.

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I photographed the links at the end of the article on guerilla gardening to remind me to look up the sites, maybe you’d like to look as well?

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The Bead Scene and Vintage Stitch are in adjoining rooms in one of the buildings and apparently both offer workshops. There are such lovely haberdashery and crafty items for sale. I loved the colourful displays, lightness of this room and found the owner very friendly.

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The dresser, the baskets, the ribbon, the fabrics….

SWOON.

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Ah, this is the same brand of yarn I used to crochet my knitting needle roll a few days ago.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my little wander around some of Wakefield Country Courtyard. I love seeing others’ crafty trips out, please link to yours below if you’ve been anywhere nice lately.

Sewing & crochet: needle roll

I’ll admit that I’m feeling pretty pleased about my latest make. I wanted to try the merino that DMC Creative World recently sent me to try after my cheeky request. It’s definitely a nice yarn to crochet, the colours are delicious too. I’d say that although it’s labelled as DK weight it’s more of a baby cashmerino thickness; slightly thinner than other double knit yarns, but that wasn’t an issue.

It’s the first time, I can think of, that I’ve combined machine and hand sewing with crochet. It’s been fun to use several different skills on one item.
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I really like incorporating ribbon into things at the mo. What can I make next with some?
I changed the browny pinky ribbon back to the Mollie Makes chevron ribbon by the way, it just coordinated better I decided on the drawstring bag. (Just in case anyone was awake fretting about it. Tee hee.)
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This challenged my mathematical brain, which is the size of a peanut, as I worked out how large the separate pieces needed to be. The success is part luck and part crossing my fingers and toes.
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I gave the roll a good shake just to see if all the needle tips would fall out, but only the shiny metal Nova tips slipped out. So that’s fine.
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All the lovely sunny days have brought the tulips to the brink of opening. They are so close. The yellow tulips are last year’s pot and look like they’ll be just as pretty. I do love my seasonal pots which are a pretty sight at the front door.

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Thank you very much for all your likes and lovely comments about my sewing on my last post, they really made my day. It’s such basic stuff (especially after watching about Great British Sewing Bee last night – I get sweaty hands just watching them do the most incredibly tricky tasks in a short time!) and I’m grateful for your encouragement.

Sewing Again

After a bit of a break I gathered all my kit together yesterday and set up the dining room as a sewing oasis. This morning I got the inevitable “Your craft is all over the house!” I’ve been lucky not to hear this before I guess. It’s untrue anyway; last time I looked there was no craft in the bathroom, kitchen or smallest room of the house.

I have my pre-sew rituals now; one, before I even choose the fabric is to find the latest radio show by Paul O’Grady, Graham Norton or Liza Tarbuck on the BBC iplayer and I’m set. If it’s Liza or Paul I know I’ve got 2 hours sewing time, 3 for Graham. That tends to be enough in one go before I need to walk around a bit more and stretch. (I might be running in a minute; I’ve got a line of washing out and the sky is looking greyer and greyer.)

I’ve been sewing Easter thingymbobs so am not showing those….yet. The other make I can flourish a bit. It’s a simple pattern for a drawstring bag, made from only one fat quarter. You can find the pattern on U Create blog. I sent the link to my crafty buddy who replied asking if I’ve seen the fat quarters skirt. I sense a social sewing bee session coming on.

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It took me a while to sew because I undid the side tiny seams twice because it was a little rucked up after turning the fabric to go across and back a stitch or so. If you make it you’ll see what I’m trying to describe; basically look at the third tutorial photo. I tacked it then, old school styley, and got it sorted in a third time lucky kind of way.

All the Spring showers and sunshine (19 degree high this weekend) have made the grass grow like crazy. It’s definitely time to dust off the lawnmower. This is not my job. In light of this morning’s comment perhaps I should yarn-bomb it????! *evil laugher*

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Then because it irritated me a bit that the ribbon twists a bit when you draw it up and shows the white underside, (a Mollie Makes giveaway with the mag one month) I changed it. I’ve got several brand new rolls of Jane Means ribbon I won in a giveaway a while back. This is double-sided, thicker too and looks better. I’ll save the pretty chevron ribbon for something else.

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It’s a longish bag: 10″ W by 15″ L (someone please tell me which measurement conventionally comes first, or is it always the shortest one or the width or…? I forget.) Mine’s a little longer because of the size of my fat quarter. It’s the perfect size for an adult’s shoe bag or keeping a current knitting project in, especially if you’re using long needles. I’ll probably pop my crochet into it when I take it out and about. You can obviously play about with the size and also adjust the gussets, which make it sit flat. I was tempted to make another but think I’ll play around with some other drawstring bag patterns, it’s all good experience. If you find any good ones please send them to me via pinterest. You can never have too many bags, right?

Oh lordy apparently it’s also the perfect sized gift bag for a bottle of whisky.

Joining

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I’m on the last section of joining (as you go method) of my huge granny square blanket. It’s a good feeling to be near the end, especially after all the darning I saved till the end. Never again I say each time, but then get carried away enjoying the crochet.
I’m not sure what to do borderwise. I think it’s best to keep it simple, I’m not convinced a fancy edging goes with the straightforwardness of granny squares.

What do you reckon?

This is what happens when…

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two little girls rush to you before Sunday lunch saying “Aunty Rachel you really need to give us flannels again, our Princess ones are all holey now.”

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You happily lead them upstairs where you have a stash of homemade knitted and crocheted washcloths, far superior to Disney Princess flannels really.
The only problem is that the eldest is very fast thinking, especially when there’s choosing competition, and selects the pinkiest and largest washcloth available. The younger one knows her mind and won’t be swayed, although yellow was the top top fave colour a few years ago, it’s now definitely pinky purple combos which catch the eye. It also needs to be of equal size and dimensions to the other, a smaller one for a “cutie patootie little face” is not going to cut the mustard.

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All the possibilities

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The postman left three parcels today, one was for me and as I haven’t ordered anything lately I was intrigued. Then seeing the enclosed delivery note I remembered seeing a photo of a gorgeous ball of cotton and a very cheeky communication I’d had with DMC Creative World.
I’d said it looks scrummy, a few crocheters replied that they love using it and so I threw out a ‘You can always send me some to try, and review. Anytime.’ And DMC Creative World have!!!!! How cheeky was I?! And what a surprise to receive NINE balls of cottons and merino.

What shall I make? Shall I look though my vintage patterns and try using one? Shall I see what comes out of my own brain? I need suggestions as my head is happily filled to the brim with the JOY of having finally darned in all the ends of my huge granny squares. I’m now joining-as-you-go like crazy, and loving every minute of it.

A lovely Monday

 

IMG_2723 A lovely Springtime pot of violas, with tulips shooting up what seems an inch a day.

IMG_2728Blossom on the plum tree, blue sky with gorgeous fluffy clouds. The washing machine is whizzing around with a load of towels. I’m loving using the washing line again.

IMG_2729Isn’t it pretty?

IMG_2737Catkins on the hazelnut tree. The squirrels plunder these in Autumn, just as we’ve noticed they have ripened, leaving us to crunch along the path on piles of discarded nutshells.

 

The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show 2014, London

I can’t believe it’s that time again already! Last year I had such a good time at the show that I just had to go back again.
When I was thinking about the show I decided my iPhone would stay firmly in my bag, and I’d just wander without taking photos. Then I saw the skeins of wool and knew that you’d enjoy seeing some pics again. So here goes, prepare yourself for much loveliness. I really enjoyed this feast of colour.

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I missed Mr X Stitch again. One day I will catch up with him to say hello!
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I was really tempted to do this and hung about the table for a little while watching a few women stitch, but time was ticking and I wanted a good look around before my sewing workshop. It was £5 to have a go at this embroidery kit. The flower design was printed on the fabric, then a piece of gauzy material is placed on top which you stitch through. What a lovely prettifying technique!
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The quilts are always a wow. There are women who are available to chat about the techniques which have been used. I noticed they wear gloves so they can show people the backs of quilts and handle them without leaving marks. I like this level of respect and care.
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I spent some time in the Wilderness! It was the same last year; I got intensely itchy fingers to craft after the profusion of colour, texture and sheer inspiration. I hadn’t taken any crochet and there were 40 minutes before the workshop, so I joined a table and started to crochet a strip to add to the chains to gradually decorate the area. A textile artist who goes to festivals and teaches knitting was running the project, along with an intern or two from Toft.
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I chatted a novice knitter from Leighton Buzzard who told me about the forthcoming Canal Festival she and her knitting group from Nutmeg Needlecrafts will be involved in. They have a canal boat which is to be yarn bombed and are currently searching for squid patterns. Excellent! I love this kind of thing.
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That plastic crochet hook was the worst I’ve ever used. I looked such a beginner struggling with all its bendyness that someone asked if I was just learning to crochet. It took every ounce of self-control not to say about Simply Crochet. You can imagine!  It was a relief to switch to what seemed like super-long knitting needles, after my recent circular knitting.

The grandmas who came on a coach trip from Stratford Upon Avon looked sidelong at me as I started knitting, but without comment. You do, I do; we all love to watch people knit and note how they hold the needles and wrap the yarn. And the loud Essex ladies (I’m sure they were knitting bunting with me last year) settled down to knit alongside us too. I do enjoy social crafting and meeting new people.
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I like to do my own thing, so rather than knit a tiny row and turn, turn, turn I went for a longer row for my chain. It’s smaller than others but the lovely intern from Toft said she always likes different and going against the grain. Hurrah! So do I.
Here she is crocheting mine to join it above the yellow.
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Time to sew! Last year I hadn’t signed up to any of the workshops and because I went at the weekend they were fully booked. As I’d got a half-price ticket to the show (from an Amazon Local deal following a quick Google for discounted tickets) I felt I could definitely sign up for one. It’s funny how we justify our treats, isn’t it?
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Janome seems to be the machine of choice for sewing classes and workshops.
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I was the only one who took off their boot/shoe. Ah well. Like Patch who commented last post about this, we are also a shoes-off house and so I’m not wearing them when I sew anyway. I do take slippers off though too. I just think I can feel the pedal and control it better.
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This sew a mini storage basket hour-long workshop was for any level of sewer. Ho-hum. I’m not sure how a complete beginner would have managed. It was fast and furious with experienced sewers racing far ahead of us less speedy ones, so the next step (or two steps ahead) were demonstrated before we were ready to take it in. My slower timing wasn’t helped by the fact I hadn’t realised there were pins so I had to take my first bit of spotty fabric off the interfacing and resew a section as it was skew-whiff. Still, I was pleased that I re-threaded an unfamiliar machine without an issue. I also used interfacing for the first time (the experienced “I’ve been sewing since I was 10″) helpful lady next to me said mine was much thicker than hers which maybe didn’t help. I’m not sure I could have put the teeny dressmaking pins through it and the fabric, let alone taken them out.
It’s a fun way to make a storage basket and very ingenious. I want to make another. However I will NOT be using the same materials. The hessian frays and moves around. You can see where it’s not sewn properly on the bottom left. But I liked the shaping where we sewed the corners so they flare it at the bottom and the basket sits flat. I can’t remember the term. Oh, we also ‘nested’ our seams. That’s another new thing.
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Here’s mine. It’s not bad for the speed of the making. During the sewing I had a text from Someone asking if I was having fun.
‘Wasn’t when you text. Was furiously sewing a storage basket, argggh never sewing hessian again!’
‘Bet you never thought you’d write that sentence. :-)

That is very true. All in all it was fun, albeit slightly stressful. When the tutor Sandra Togher, from the Bowery Gallery in Leeds, said “You have five minutes left” I thought of the stress experienced by the GBSB contestants, with the cameras and pressure of competiton etc! But I’ve learnt some new skills which I can practice and refine. Good value for £10, don’t you think?
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Here is my neighbour’s basket. Perfect isn’t it? She’s so good that she altered the way you sew the top and so hers is much neater than anyone’s. The interesting thing was that when Sandra asked if she sews professionally the answer was no; she works with her husband selling cars, doing the accounts, but it’s been a long term dream to teach people to sew. She really should do it. I’d go to a class.
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I stood and watched a machine patchwork demo, and then bought a few sweets from Henleys of Gloucester as a post-hessian stress treat. Any excuse for liquorice comforts.
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I also went back to the Wilderness to check on the chains. Rather than the lone chain there were now a jolly collection hanging from the stand. Can you see mine?
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At 430pm it was so much quieter, I reckon the coach parties had left. I enjoyed another mooch around both halls and did some shopping. The show is huge and there’s something for everyone. Cats Protection were there again (I don’t really get why, is it that crafters are often cat lovers? Mad knitting women with cats? I do know one or two, or six of those actually…) Interestingly there were arthritis relief and massage stands too. That’s the shape of the things to come, maybe.
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The fabrics are what were making me swoon. I loved them last year but wasn’t sewing. This time I just had to buy a few half metres and some fat quarters. Yippee!
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Here are my buys. I keep being attracted to chicken fabrics, this is my second lot.

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There were a few amusing events on the tube home, but I’ve waffled enough now. If you’re near enough to London why don’t you go to the last day of the show tomorrow? It’s a lovely day out, and even if you go alone people are so friendly and chatty that you won’t be silent for long at all. You can play my shopping bag weebles game too (you remember? Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down?) At the end of the day you’re constantly bumping into, or swinging around and hitting, each other’s bags; bouncing off their packs of yarn and fabric. It’s funny and all good natured.

Are there similar shows where you live? Have you been to one and if so, what makes you swoon?

Spring birdies

Another make from my Cath Kidson Sew! book. It’s not my best, or coolest make, so far…
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…so I’m not altogether sure about blogging this, but they are what my friend and I have pootled about making this afternoon. She’s the friend I made a tote bag with in January. I’m aware that The Great British Sewing Bee are still advertising for participants for the third series -woo hoo! – but don’t think we’re quite ready to apply…
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If I hadn’t been too lazy to get my iphone, before turning it out the right way, I could have shown you how much my machine stitching has improved. It follows the line of the bird template really well, apart from slightly wiggle on the beak but that doesn’t show much. See the gold stitching on my raw edge applique on the wing? I reckon sewing is about getting used to operating the foot pedal at a good speed, unless you’ve got a fancy speed-limited machine which frankly is a bit of a cheat, and being able to stop in time to turn the material.  I can’t sew in shoes though, I see GBSB keep showing Chinelo’s shoeless foot on the pedal, is it that unusual to sew barefoot? I did take my right boot off at the Mystery Workshop, now I’m thinking about it, I guess no one else seemed to dive under the table. Does that make me eccentric?!

My bird’s head looks slightly rooster-like. I reckon that could be my violent stabbing of the toy filling with a chopstick!
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They’re meant to be lavender bags but it’s not the season for it, also they seem a little big, so we filled them with toy stuffing for pincushions. I’ve got to stop making pincushions now – that’s three this year alone. I guess I’ve used a range of techniques at least. Here are some others I’ve made, all crocheted apart from the cactus, if you fancy going pincushion crazy as well: knitted cactus pincushion, Springtime hat pincushion, flower pincushion and floating pincushion (written on the 16th day of my newly hatched blog I see!)

Who’s going to the Knitting and Stitch Show this week/end? Hands up please!

Springtime in London

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Spring has arrived, St James park on Saturday was full of swathes of daffodils and crocuses. Beautiful.

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Beautiful cherry blossom too.

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After a good walk in Green Park, coming across The Changing of the Guard and oohing and aahing over the flowers in St James Park we played the adventure bus game. Our rules are you get on the first bus that comes, pick a number each (we used coins in our pockets; on the count of ’3-2-1 show!’) combine them and get off the corresponding number of stops later. Have a look around the area, then get on the first bus which comes to the stop nearest to you (try not to inadvertently catch the next across the road from where you arrived as you’re in danger of ending up exactly where you came from. I know this…!) One of the first stops was right outside Borough Market, at lunchtime. What great timing. Mmmmmmm.

Sunday was a day of rugby at Twickenham for some, I went to Spitalfields, East London. The weather was glorious and unseasonably warm at around 19 degrees.

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There’s been a market on the site since 1638 when Spittle Fields was a rural location on the outskirts of London. King Charles I licensed it to sell flesh, fowl and roots. Doesn’t sound too appealing put like that does it but it’s been a thriving marketplace since. It was latterly known for being a wholesale fruit and vegetable market before the business moved to the New Spitalfields market in 1991. Now mostly clothes, accessories and homewares are sold on the original site. The area has been refurbished and there’s many cafes, bars and restaurants where you can still purchase flesh, fowl and roots accompanied by a latte, beer or glass of wine.

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Brick Lane smelt very pungent with all the curry restaurants and food stalls in and around the old Truman Brewery. People browsed rails of goods and buskers, street artists and gamers lined the edges of the lane. The chess player was playing 2 games with space for another, rolling from side to side on his chair.

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I’ve seen this busker before, he’s really good and always attracts a crowd.

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The street art around the area is wonderful. Here’s a link to an excellent blog about Spitalfields which features information about and work of Roa, the street artist.
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Eleven Spitalfields have an interesting exhibition showing the photographs of C.A Mathew, who took a series of pictures around the area one Saturday in 1912. If you can pop in then I recommend you visit before it finishes on 27th April.

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I had a mooch around the Petticoat Lane market and then a wander around the square mile, which is the original financial district of the City of London, admiring the old and the new.

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Apparently England beat Wales in the rugby, I began a new crochet make and everyone was happy. All in all it was a very good weekend.

Did you have a good one? I hope the sun was shining for you too.

Cottoning on

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A few weeks ago Natasja of CrocheTime blog asked me if I would like to do a review of yarn she sells in her Etsy shop. I’m always happy to play with yarn, especially one I’ve never used before so was just happy for Natasja to send me a selection of whatever she wanted me to try. When she told me it was Vinnis Colours Nikkim cotton, and sent me a link,  I changed my mind quickly – the colours are so delicious! This is my selection.
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Cloud Blue

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Fern
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Plum
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Red Violet
This was one I took to my knitting group one week, it was admired and fondled rather a lot!

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Information on the ball band: “This yarn is hand dyed and balled by women from an economically depressed rural area of South Africa. The scale of this product has empowered them and brought economic benefits to their community. Hand dyed yarn gives your garment a unique marbelled effect. Colourfast. Made in South Africa.”
The knit group nodded and agreed that yes, it has been hand dyed as you can see the variation in colour. Finally I could carry on knitting, but wondered if the ball might be best put into a bag at my feet as I worked – just to avoid distraction!

It’s DK weight cotton, comes in 50g / 119m balls. The recommended needles are 3.25mm-4mm and hook size is 4mm.
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Natasja said she’d noticed that my blog has gone to the dark side lately (! *mhah haha ha!* !) and wondered if I would knit something to test how well the cotton works with needles.
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I really like making practical knits so decided to try out a few different stitches and knit some washcloths. I’ll include my patterns in case you fancy taking up the knitty sticks and practising the dark art of knitting too!
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Moss Stitch Washcloth

24cmx24cm / 9.5″ x 9.5″
I’m pretty sure I used 4.5mm needles for all three cloths as I was using my 4mm set for my lace knit scarf. Either is fine as tension is definitely not critical for a washcloth. It’s such thick cotton that you could even use a 5mm needle (or hook.)
:: Cast on an odd no. of stitches. I cast on 49
::R1-4 Knit
::R5 -: K4 at the beginning and end of row, K1, *P1, K1, repeat from *
Repeat this row until the washcloth is 23cm / 9″” then K4 rows. Cast off and darn ends.

I’ve always really liked moss stitch – it’s got such a cute nubbly look and makes a nice textured washcloth.

The cotton is beautifully soft to touch, the colours please and there was not a single knotted piece in any of the balls. There is one issue however, it can be very splitty. This was particularly frustrating with the first ball I tried (fern.) There is very light twist to the cotton which means that you sometimes have 7 little strands lying over your needle, rather than one. Undo a row and you’re really in trouble because you’ve loosened the twist even more.

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A smaller version of the above, I cast on 39 stitches for this one. This washcloth measures 20cm x 20cm / 8″ x 8″.

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OOoh my favourite stitch, but do not try this pattern when you’ve had a G&T as it’s a bit tricky and you have to concentrate on some rows. I realised I had knitted a row, then undone it a few times and couldn’t work out the problem until I realised I’d just had my Friday early evening drink!

Vinnis cotton gives good drape; the knitted material has lots of movement giving a good flow. Obviously this isn’t important for the items I’ve made but I reckon it could be a very good yarn for cotton garments. Just be sure to do a tension swatch and check your gauge before you begin.

Basketweave washcloth

23cm x 23cm / 9″ x9″

::Cast on a multiple of 8 stitches plus 5 extra. I cast on 48 + 5 = 53 stitches in total

::R1 (RS) Knit

::R2 *K5, P3, repeat from * to last 5 stitches, K5

::R3 P5 *K3, P5, repeat from * to end

::R4 As R2

::R5 Knit

::R6 K1, P3, K1 *K4, P3, K1, repeat from * to end

::R7 *P1, K3, P4, repeat from * to last 5 stitches, P1, K3, P1

::R8 As R6.

Repeat R1-8 until square or the desired length. I cast off all but the last stitch, whipped up a 3.5mm hook and double crocheted all around the cloth. By this time I was yippeeing after all the knitting!

This stitch would make a super scarf in a chunky yarn on big needles, I can just imagine it. I enjoyed looking through my stitch bible for something new and this was a good find. Just don’t tipple while you do the latter rows because you’ll probably come a cropper like me.
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I really wanted to try crocheting the cotton and wondered if the splittyness would be better. It is, but you still have to keep your eye on the yarn as the hook can get tangled up, or you miss strands, resulting in rogue loops. I used my thicker Clover Amour 4mm hook (rather than my slightly thinnner 4mm metal hook) and thought it produced a lovely chunky material. Cara Medus’s potholder pattern caught my eye in issue 15 of Simply Crochet so I gave it a whirl.
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Vinnis cotton is good for something like a potholder when a double layer of fabric produces a very good thickness. I’m pleased with this make and it’s going to be in use tonight when I toss pancakes! Happy Shrove Tuesday all.
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I was already feeling a bit guilty for straying from my knitting brief but an old proverb came to mind ‘might as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb.’ Excellent! In that case I was going ahead and making Hannah’s (Not Your Average Crochet blog) sweet Springtime hat pincushion from the lastest issue (16) of Simply Crochet. (Available in the UK this Thursday.)
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The flowers are in King Cole bamboo variegated cotton, I made my own leaf as I wanted a nice juicy looking one.
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I sewed on the leaf and flowers and darned all ends before filling the hat with stuffing.
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I just filled it with toy stuffing. I figured if my sewing’s going badly and I stab the pincushion violently I won’t be breaking the pins on coins or weights at the bottom!
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If you’re keen to try some Vinnis cotton you can buy some from Natasja’s  Etsy CrocheTime shop, she will give a 10% discount to the first ten people to order using the following code: LITTLEROOM.

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Helloooo to my new readers following Simply Crochet’s Edits magazine. It’s very nice to have you here. I’m loving seeing people’s curly twirly flower brooches appear, the first photo I was sent was from mrspip (the link should take you to her FB page.) It’s lovely.

My flower brooches in Simply Crochet!

I came home late last night from London frozen to the bone after a three hour Jack the Ripper tour in the East End, a long wait for the bus then a frozen car windscreen which I needed to de-ice. My feet felt like two big ice cubes! But there in a prominent place propped up on the stairs was my new issue (16) of Simply Crochet. All thoughts of feeling cold vanished!
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In January I was contacted by Tanya, the Commissioning Editor and asked if I would design a brooch for a Springtime feature in Simply Crochet. You can imagine my surprise and pleasure at being asked, especially as I’ve bought the magazine since it began. I was sent these lovely balls of cotton and given completely free rein to design whatever kind of brooch I fancied.
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I really enjoyed sitting here in The Little Room playing with different stitches and colour combinations, it was a great way to banish any post-Christmas January blues.
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I came up with a curly twirly flower brooch to pin on a bag, to add a bit of pretty.
20140302-145729.jpgThey work well if you pin the petals out (dry) for a little while, as you release them they ping up and curl delightfully around. Alternatively you can block them and leave them flatter as the magazine have done.

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As this would be my first ever published pattern (I’m beaming as I still can’t believe it, I’m sooo happy about this unexpected event) I was a bit nervous that it would be gobbledegook and asked Kate of Greedy for Colour to check it. The rush of having someone else, particularly such a crochet clever clogs, test your pattern and come back with a gorgeous version of their own (2 lots of delicate light pink petals on the top,  a white set at the bottom and a pale primrose middle) and 100% positive feedback was immense.

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I had thought I probably shouldn’t show what I designed until the magazine is in the shops or online but today see that others have shown photos and are talking on social media about the feature, so gave myself the go-ahead! It’s way too exciting not to!

20140302-145820.jpgOoh on the front cover of the supplement!!!!!!!!!

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Lovely styling. That’s MY crochet, crocheted here in this Little Room in my house! Wooooooo! Boom! (As Claudia says on GBSB.) The opposite page has the brooch pattern, a few other photos and bit about my crochet, thoughts on blogging and inspiration.

I was in stunningly good company as most of the other blogger designers are those I’ve followed for a few years. But you’ll have to buy the mag to see who they are, as I’m not spoiling any more surprises. Well, except one! I have to, I just do…

I met this blogger last Christmas, just over a year ago, as she was visiting England from the USA. We talked and talked, a coffee turned into a day of wandering, lunch and sight seeing. We discussed yarn, crochet, craft shops, blogging and our fave bloggers. I never expected us both to be featured in this top, top crochet maazine together! (I’m allowed to sprinkle !!!! liberally in this post. It’s my 15 seconds of crochet fame after all.)

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It’s the lovely Hannah from Not Your Average Crochet. I’m so making this Springtime hat pincushion.
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Happy weekend all.

Simply Crochet (16)

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Next week, if you get a copy of Simply Crochet, you’ll see what I was doing with these beautiful cottons in January. It’s been hard not to mention anything – it goes against my nature not to talk about exciting things!

Small make medicine & The Great British Sewing Bee

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Feeling like a quick crochet make would refresh and revitalise, after hiccups with a bigger project, I decided to start a little something. It’s so satisfying a way to banish the crafty blues; starting and finishing an item in a few hours.

On another tack, did you watch The Great British Sewing Bee last night? I’m loving it. Absolutely enthralled. It’s so good to have a crafty series on peak time tv, twitter and Facebook were buzzing about the episode until late last night. My friend and I were chatting about our faves well into the early hours. This usually turns out to be my reading time, despite knowing I should sleep I end up reading just one more chapter.
Another, replying to my “OMG wish I could alleviate clothes woes by whipping up a top for a do hours before!” (like GBSB contestant Heather) gave a lovely compliment: ‘I think if you turned your crafty skills and energy towards sewing you’d soon be able to do just that :-)’ It’s just starting isn’t it? I need to find an easy pattern to make an item of clothing, my first since a couple of pencil skirts at school!

In progress

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This second pair of mitts are still waiting to be sewn up, the first are being worn and appreciated during the chilly school run apparently. I’ve had a request by one of my little nieces asking me for “white pink with purple bits, like Mummy’s but…oh no I mean light pink with purple bits.” (Awwww, so sweet.) As I’m told they’re superb at losing gloves I’m heading in the direction of a good quality acrylic, not Rowan tweed like these!
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The cabled yoke cardigan has been renamed ‘that stupid cardi’ I’m sorry to say. The time it took it took to figure out the cabled strip has rather soured the project. Well….I guess I have to be honest and admit that’s not absolutely it. Don’t start dipping rags in oil and sharpening your pitchforks but I’m not so sure about the actual look of it. Knitted clothes look so smooth and elegant, crocheted clothes particularly in chunky dcs like this just look coarse somehow. Know where I’m coming from? It needs to be edged, sleeves crocheted and button-band added so I might be more impressed after it’s finished. Maybe.It could be the yarn, I wonder if a different colour and quality of yarn would help too. I chose to use my Stylecraft meadow as I thought it would look lovely, and it’s washable so is practical for children’s clothing.

Oh and also I’m worried that the neckline is tiny. Overall I worry that it’s a bit small. I really, really should try a tension swatch before new projects.

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I’m going to be knitting this feather and fan scarf until I die I fear. Last year I decided I’m going to live to be a hundred; so I’ve got a lot of time to carry on, but might die just after completion and so not get the benefit!

It’s probably far more practical to use a non-fluffy brand for lace knitting. It’s not tricky to undo or knit, but another would show the lacy holes and repeats making it easier to see mistakes and just act as a guide. I’ve tried using pony stitch markers but those little plastic rings are going to scratch my birch needles, they’re getting in the way a bit too. I’ll maybe have a try at placing yarn markers. I accept this scarf is going to be a long-term project and don’t mind really, not now I’m adding lifelines!

I must get on and darn some more of the ends of those granny squares. It’s actually not so bad once you get going, it just starting that’s the issue.

Also I’m knitting up something for a yarn review and that is another story…

What are you up to this weekend? Hopefully not splashing about in flood waters like these poor ponies were, gradually more green patches are appearing though as the water slowly drains away.

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14:37 Mitts now sewn up & ready to wear. This post was a good motivator!

Homemade London: Mystery Workshop

A few weeks ago my friend and I had to cancel our long ago booked Mystery Workshop at Homemade London. The tube strike was in full force, the weather was stormy and traffic in Central London was grid-locked. We rescheduled and the evening came around again yesterday.

You book a place, paying £12, and basically have no idea what you’re going to be doing for the hour until you arrive. Apparently they’ve run Mystery Workshops since May and haven’t repeated one yet.

When we arrived I was slightly dismayed to see a table laid with jewellery making pliers and fixings. I’ve enjoyed the jewellery workshops we’ve done, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do for an hour last night. Then I popped downstairs to the loo and discovered my idea of heaven set up downstairs; a table lined with posh Janome sewing machines. ‘I guess they’re ready for tomorrow’s classes’ I sighed.

Wrong!

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A dainty glass of something vodka based with several raspberries (only wafted near a vodka bottle it has to be said, but that’s probably not a bad thing before handling jewellery pliers) before we started to make earrings. There were 10 in the workshop in all which was a good number. The girl running the workshop was lovely, bubbly, really helpful and fun.

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The atmosphere was good and great fun as we laughed, groaned and muttered all grappling with jewellery links, trying to open the chain links to make four separate chains (from a choice of silver, rose gold and gold) and affix shells (pearly or blue/black.) The girl opposite forgot to breathe as she concentrated hard, prompting concern from her friend as she turned slightly purple!
Half an hour on each activity of the workshop meant we had a little time to play with those super sewing machines; making little bags for our earrings.

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We shared the machines in pairs. It’s the same as G has, so she cranked up the speed and whizzed along.
My sewing’s definitely getting better. My little seams are pretty straight now.

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We’re getting a bit more cocky now that we’ve sewn a few things and think that the basic little bag design could be better, rather than having raw edges at the end of the ribbon seam. But I did enjoy having the chance to use a sewing machine. Before meeting in the afternoon I’d spent some time chatting to the sewing demonstrator in John Lewis, Oxford Street, discussing buttonholes (last week’s revisited skill along with another friend. I need some practice so I haven’t shown you!) The chat had whet my appetite to do some sewing. Good timing all round. We stayed to chat after the class for a few minutes talking about machine embroidery which I’d really like to try sometime. The book below was recommended…

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And that, was another good day.

Feather & fan

This is the second time I’ve started this post. I wrote a (witty, sparkling?!) paragraph or two earlier but lost it, definitely probably due to the lunchtime glasses of prosecco, wine and amaretto during a family lunch. Ah well.

After seeing someone’s lace knit jumper in progress at knit group I decided to try my hand at feather and fan lace stitch.

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It’s such a neat pattern – four rows repeated, including one row of purl, two of knit then a single row of yarn overs (yo) and knit two together (k2tog).

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I rushed upstairs to the little room to take these photos when the sun came out, it was so bright that the desk looks yellow! It’s been disconcertingly still here after the huge storm Friday.

In fact I became so confident about this pattern that I took it to a new knit group last week. It’s not that tricky to stop talking and concentrate for one row is it? Maybe not for others! Actually a lovely girl there said she’s learnt the hard way never to take any complicated knitting because she’s lost count of the number of times she gets home and spots many mistakes!

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Which is why after seeing this excellent tip about lifelines I decided to actually use them rather than tell all the knitters I know. It’s not just me that hasn’t ever heard of them. After undoing eight rows or so I’m now going to add them at regular intervals!

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Can you see it? I’m hoping it won’t be too tricky to pull out at the end, maybe I should use a shiny cotton rather than another wooly yarn which might mesh together with the fluffy Tosca Light wool blend I’m knitting.

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These rubber ends by KnitPro have been handy for when I’ve stuffed my lace knitting in my hand bag and rushed off to catch a bus. Can you imagine the horror of your knitting slipping off needles and unravelling? Eeeek.

The Winter Olympics ice dancing is incredible! I’ve been watching while I write this post. Do you also get sweaty hands and feet while you watch? I feel nervous for them all.

Have you had a good weekend?

By jove I think she’s got it!

Here is a reminder of why this is a big moment! Today was the very, very last time of trying to get this cable crochet yoke for a cardigan right. If it didn’t happen the book was going to be (gently) thrown across the floor, then sold.

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10 random things

This morning I saw this post from Kate of the bloody excellent Foxs Lane blog and it inspired me so much that I grabbed my iphone and took some very random photos during the rest of my day.

I relate when Kate writes from time to time that she’s doubting the whole blogging thing and wonders who’s interested, why she does it and feels that it’s purely self-indulgent. I often feel the same, pause for a bit, then whack a post out into the ether and get busy in real life again. The often interesting, lovely and thought provoking comments which come back from you guys, plus all the connections I’ve made in the bloggy world, make it feel like a totally good thing, and so those feelings pass again for a while.
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What I didn’t mention when I was rhapsodising about my porridge habit the other day, was that even though I leave it cooking on the lowest setting I often burn it in the pan. I’ve got the knack of stirring it, very carefully if that’s happened, and pouring it out so there are no black bits in my bowl! I must look out for a small non-stick pan.

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I love daffodils and buy lots of bunches every year. These were a present from the market on Saturday. I always think they’re smiley happy flowers, a bit like pansies who have the cutest little faces.

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The knitted poncho has been used plenty. It’s so good for pulling on when I feel too lazy to go upstairs and get a warmer clothing. But the rhubarb ripple hasn’t really ever been used since it was crocheted. It’s been folded with other blankets at the end of the bed in the little room because it doesn’t really ‘go’ at all downstairs. The other day I decided to grab it because it was so chilly when I was sitting knitting and watching tv. It’s now downstairs to stay this Winter – so soft, warm and big enough to snuggle!

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This book is so British!

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A very small section of the many books in The Works which is becoming the place to browse and actually buy craft books, as opposed to looking elsewhere and going home to order more affordable copies online. They have Kat Goldin’s Crochet at Play (it’s where I bought my copy,) Lisa Comfort’s Sew Over it and The Great British Sewing Bee book (NEW SERIES begins next week) as well many other well-known and not-so well-known titles.

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I had to choose a plant for my summer pot for the porch so it can slowly grow on. It was nice to contemplate fuchsias (last Summer’s choice) lilies and geraniums.
I opted for this beautiful apple blossom geranium. I’ll chose some complimenting trailing plants nearer the time of potting up. Some gorgeous verbena (aztec dark pink magic) plants have caught my eye. They’re definitely on the short-list.
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Annoying! The back door is jammed, the lock has a fault now for some reason. A guy came to fix it last week and broke the key off in the lock. I came home to half a key on its keyring on the kitchen worktop, which made me giggle despite myself. Let’s hope he does a better job of sorting it out on Friday!
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You’ve seen this meadow here many times, but it’s never been this flooded in all the years we’ve lived here. It’s now turned into a lake really, especially further out. I’m glad to see there are still green bits showing as there’s still somewhere for more water to go. (Not thinking about the water table.) I read recently that if it hadn’t done such a good job as a flood plain over the centuries the centre of the city would have been under water many times.
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A cheering end to my 10 random things: my Winter pot of violas with the bulb shoots showing through. Despite the appalling weather it’s actually very mild here, snowdrops and other Spring flowers are appearing early. We’ve had up to 80mph winds and battering rain here, this pot sits in the front porch which is not enclosed, but these fragile little beauties must have a hidden strength!

I hope this hasn’t been too random to read. It is definitely self-indulgent but is the most fun I’ve had in a while making a blog post. Do you feel like doing one too? I’d love you to link to it here in the comments, or just let me know if you have.

Knitting idiocy, darning idiocy & a bowl of coconut porridge

20140209-195937.jpg I can’t quite believe I blithely said that I would cast on, and take this lace pattern to a new knit group a friend and I visited last week. What was I thinking?! Especially as I’ve said here that I’ve always taken crochet or something easy to knit while I chat and drink. So, I cast on the 70 odd stitches, knitted 3 lines chanting k2tog, yo, ssk, psso etc and realised I’m just going to either knit a cobweb, or seem like an total oddball. I grabbed the rest of a ball of bamboo cotton, my little notebook and knit another waffle knit cloth. I still had to concentrate but it was far easier than doing the lace pattern chant and appearing really antisocial.

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For my usual knit group later in the week I took some Not so soothing (after all) granny squares  and sat darning the ends in for the whole evening, until my eyes felt like they were bleeding. So, that’s 480 – 140 = 340 to go. Never again, NeVeR. It’s a crochet wasteland at the moment here I know. But if I start something new the granny squares will be permanently in my Yarndale bag undarned.

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I’m not (really) going to mention the amount of water that’s surrounding us, and which has the potential to flood the house. There’s no point getting worked up or worried at this point. We were on flood alert over Christmas and it came to nothing. Although the cumulative effect of all this rain means we have fields and fields and fields underwater all around and impassible roads…. I was awake, looking out of all the windows, in the early hours last night just checking that the neighbours weren’t canoeing along the road. We had a huge storm and I think the high wind woke me up, plus the fact I’d checked the flood status (‘on alert’) before bed meant it was on my mind. Anyway, let me share my gorgeous recipe for a warming, very filling breakfast in these rainy times. I keep making it and never ever need to eat before lunch after this bowl of yumminess.

Coconut porridge

45g porridge oats
300ml skimmed milk
2 tsp light brown sugar
1tbsp desiccated coconut

Put all in a pan and cook on low for at least 15-20 minutes. You get the creamy flavour from the porridge with added texture of the coconut, sweetness and flavour of the brown sugar. It is DELICIOUS.

I’ve had banana porridge, apple, cinnamon over the last 4 months, and also eaten it plain, but this coconut version is my current favourite. I was rooting about in the pantry one morning for something different to add to it and came across the coconut. It was leftover from when I’d baked a coconut and cherry cake last autumn. Try it and let me know what you reckon? MMmmm roll on tomorrow morning.

My current reading…

Printed book: Park Lane by Frances Osborne.

Kindle: re-reading (guilty pleasure) The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs.

Audio book: I’m really enjoying Red Joan by Jennie Rooney,  narrated by Juliet Stevenson. I’ve listened to other books she’s read and love her style (I keep hearing a cello at certain times as I strongly associate her with Truly, Madly, Deeply but that’s not too distracting!) It’s turning out to be a cracking story with mystery, intrigue and some complex characters.

Thanks for your recommendations last week.