Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Reflecting on 2011

Kicked off the year in Burnham on Crouch with good friends and little Flo.
Me and Brooke got to the final on Pointless
Started going to the NCT Redbridge knitters and made some lovely knitting mum mates
Flo turned 1
Flo broke her arm
Got kicked out of our flat and moved in with my parents for 5 months
We had a couple of sunny seaside trips to Southend and Leigh on sea
Flo learned to walk during the Royal wedding
Went Crafternooning at the Creative Biscuit with local mates
Went back to work after maternity leave to one of the most pointless jobs I’ve ever done
Flo started nursery
Karaoke, fish pedicure (eww) and Michelin starred dinner for my Birthday
Day out in Greenwich
Rex Manning day
Bought our first house
Got broken into 2 weeks after moving in
Decorated Flo’s bedroom
Started a new job which was MUCH better than the previous one
Brett passed his driving test
Visited Kew
10 year anniversary of being together with Brett
Brett turned 30 and had a ‘surprise’ party, which he tired to sabotage
Shan and Marc’s wedding
Centre Parcs
Digs continued to record our lives in photography
Filmed Brett and Flo for a Dad documentary at work
I dressed as a Smurf, and then Mick Hucknall
Held a kids Halloween party and kids Christmas party
Made a lot of cake

Knitted the following:
Hap Blanket
Stripey cardi for Inez
Blue lacey top
Flo crochet dress
Isla’s camo pants
Nola Jane
Free Rapunzel
Custard pants
Leaf scarf
Cardi for Milan
Christmas Bolero
And I made 2 quilts

Excellent 2011. Bring on 2012.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Quilt and cake

So the Christmas quilt got finished just as the tree was put up last weekend and now the flat now feels very festive indeed. I am really happy with how the quilt came out and in the end I'm glad that I hand quilted it instead of doing it by machine. It really gives it a bit more of a home made feel and spending so much time on it actually makes it feel like more of an heirloom than if I'd done it all on the machine. 

Back of the quilt - made of scraps
This and the quilt I made for Shan's wedding have to be my biggest crafting achievement this year. Most of all I am glad that I managed to get it finished before the season was over. The Mr and I have been happily snuggled under it for the last week and I have been constantly bundling Flo up in it as she has a horrible cold at the moment.

She won't thank me for this photo
The finished quilt and tree going up called for some mini mince pie making and so I bought out the trusty Nigella recipe from her Christmas cookbook. Although it takes a bit of extra time to make these following her recipe I loved the outcome of flaky pasty. But the 36 I made really didn't last that long as they're so small you can just pop them in the mouth and they're gone!

I also made a batch of cupcakes for the local NCT group party. My piping skills weren't that great but I got to use my Christmas cupcake cases and edible snowflakes again.
Festive YUM

To top it all off they are repeating the episodes of Pointless that I was on earlier this year with my sister in law. We're on again tonight 5.15pm BBC1. Catch up on iPlayer if you fancy seeing me embarrass myself on TV.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

It's here!

I haven't got the tree up yet, I think it's a tad early for that but I did receive my first Christmas card and make some Christmas cup cakes; two batches, ahem!
Got the cute edible snow flakes from Lakeland and Christmassy cases too, so I had to test them out.

Now, back to all the crafting I have to do!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Relaxing in the Parc

Wow, it’s been a whole month since my last blog! November has indeed been a busy month and I suspect that December has the same in store. I like to be busy but also like to have that kick back time. Thankfully the Mr, Flo and I got just that at the beginning of November when we took our first family holiday to Centre Parcs in Elveden forest!

I had never been to Centre Parcs before but have to say that I loved it. It is the perfect holiday if you have kids. There are so many things they can do and everywhere is child friendly, so you never have to worry about that is-my-shouting-child-ruining-someone-else’s-holiday feeling. The bikes were a particular hit with Flo who loved her ‘HAT’ or helmet as it’s normally called.
Hat Mummy Hat!

I managed to get some knitting done while kicking back on the drive there and back as well as some quilting done during the cosy nights in at our lodge. Let it be known, the Christmas quilt is nearly done! Just the border left to sew on, so there is a chance that it will be finished by the time I put the tree up! 

During the sewing I did at Centre Parcs we also discovered that the quilt has magical powers to induce sleep. Each night the Mr. fell asleep under it’s magic spell as I stitched away. To demonstrate this picture was taken at 9pm:


Knitting wise I have been working on a vintage leaf scarf pattern as my friend Kat’s 30th birthday present. I offered to knit her something instead of buying her a generic gift and she chose this cute vintage scarf and some red yarn. 

This photo looks pretty vintage!

The 4-ply yarn has meant it’s taken me longer than I thought it might so far, but I would love her to have it to wear before Christmas. All that is left to do is to knit the last leaf and do some decorative stitching, so it should be possible. She also chose the cutest crochet vintage hat which I’m going to have a go at once the scarf is complete. Watch this space.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Making the most of work

I’ve been at my new job for a couple of months now and am starting to settle into our new family rhythm with me working more days and longer hours.

I really enjoy my journey into work as I usually get a seat on the tube at some point in my 40 min train ride and this means that I can get some knitting done! So it is good productive ‘me’ knitting time.

The little walk I take from the tube to work is also a pleasure. Being at Oxford Circus means that I walk by some of the flagship stores and get to see some amazing window displays. I’m trying to remember to bring my camera out with my more as I totally missed taking pictures of the brilliant window displays for Wool Week this year. Jigsaw and Liberty had lovely windows and I kicked myself for missing the photo opportunity!

However, I did manage to have my camera on me last week when Claire Nixon was doing a live knitting installation in the shop window of the newly refurbished Oasis flagship store on Argyle Street.

She was showcasing her knitted interior including huge lampshade and footstool, while knitting on over size chairs with supersized yarn and needles. It was cool to see hand knitting live on the highstreet!

Finally the sight that will always bring a smile to my face in the morning:

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Nola Jane

I finished Flo's Nola Jane jumper yesterday and she had a spell of wearing it today. As you can see it looks sooooo cute! Unfortunately I had to take it off of her quite quickly as the pure wool it is knitted in was making her sweat! I think it will have to get very cold very soon for her to get any wear out of it as it's already snug and if she has a growth spurt then it's bye bye Nola Jane.

I really enjoyed this knit. At first the cuff and hem seemed a little excessive as they're doubled up but it really does give the jumper a beautiful structure. I found it really hard to graft the seams under the arms and was left with gaping holes at each end, so I just whipped them together with a few stitches to close them up. This didn't leave a great end result, but it's only under the arms so I wasn't too worried about them. The only modification I made to the pattern was to do just 3 rows of the crochet ruffle as my ruffles came out quite big and I didn't want them bunched up under Flo's chin.

Overall it was a lovely project and I would definitely would knit something from Petit Purls again as all of their designs are totally gorgeous. The colour also really suited Flo and the quality of the yarn makes this jumper something I will be passing down in future. I just wish I had made it a size bigger!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Yumming Bird


So last week I discovered that I work around the corner from the Hummingbird Bakery. I’ve been working my way through the recipes in their most recent book called Cake Days over the last few months and love pretty much every recipe! So I thought that I’d pop in to see what the shop had to offer.

Needless to say it was a lovely little shop with the most beautifully iced cakes on display.  I of course had to buy something and went for a Carrot cupcake. The best thing about it was that they packaged my cupcake up in it’s own little box with a handle! So I skipped back to the office with perfect cupcake box dangling from my hand and straight to the coffee bar for an accompanying Latté. Yes, my office has a proper coffee bar with barista and everything – I am totally jammy in this respect. YUM delicious!

The cake was totally scrumptious and I enjoyed every bite however £2.50 for a cupcake is horrific. Knowing that I could make a batch of 12 for about the same price is sure to keep me out of the shop and in the kitchen. I just need to work on my icing skills.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Free Rapunzel!

Last week I managed to finish the hat my sister in law asked me to make her and she loves it! Well, you’d hope so after she’d chosen the pattern and bought the yarn for it, but it’s always nice to have your handy-work appreciated.

Free Rapunzel was really fun to knit and although I don’t make a lot of things in bulky yarn these days but was lovely to see the knitting growing so speedily out of my needles and to have a project come together so quickly for a change.

The cabled brim was a nice interesting design, with a bit of interest without being mind melting. I also enjoyed knitting the plats down from the ear flaps, which look like simply platted yarn but are actually a long knitted cable. The pom-pom and tassels topped off this funky knit perfectly. Fun to make and definitely fun to wear.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Ally Pally 2011

Today was a good day.

Mum and I met the lovely Annisa on the steps of Ally Pally and we worked the aisles, room by room, scooping up the inspiration by the bucket-load. The student shows provided lots of ideas as usual from recycled materials to knitted furniture.

I kept getting distracted by buttons and fabric as there were so many gorgeous stalls to tempt me in, but I managed to resist, apart from two fat quarters, ahem! The most gorgeous stalls that I have to mention were a couple of little querky makers. Kate Haxell’s stall pulled me in with pure whimsical charm. Her cute jam jar and teacup pin cushions really made me smile.

Then there was Tugba Kop who made me laugh with this old man portrait bag. There were more fantastic leather goods and portraits of old ladies playing bingo on the stall. Her art work is well worth a look.

There was lots of fun at the annual ‘yarn dive’ on the black sheep wools stall. Annisa got stuck in and I nabbed a bargain of 10 balls of Rowan Purelife organic wool for just £14.99 – Score!

My other purchase was from the lovely Millamia girls who had their latest book on sale and their yarn at a discounted price. I of course had to get involved in that and so bought the book and yarn to make Flo a cardigan for next winter.

Also worth a quick mention was an amazing new design I caught on the Purl Alpaca’s stall called Lillian. Another multifunctional knit from these talented people, the garment can be a top, dress or poncho. My favourite is the top variation. So gorgeous.

Another year gone by and another great Knitting and Stitching show. Bring on 2012!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

The Disorganised Knitter

Somehow this year I have totally managed to let Ally Pally creep up on me! I didn’t organise myself a ticket until a week before, how uncharacteristically disorganised of me! Perhaps this year’s show won’t be as much of a military operation as it was last year, although I still maintain the general rules: take a packed lunch, a room at a time, only considered purchases allowed and no panic buying! Some may laugh at these (Nicola) but you’ll be sorry when you miss out on some amazing bargain yarn because you’re fannying about trying to get a sandwich from a kiosk.

This year I have no idea what I’d like to buy so am going to let the show give me inspiration and hopefully not persuade me to spend too much money. I’ll be there on Sunday, so if you happen to see me rummaging through the bargain bins, do say hello!

There are 2 things on my needles at the moment, the Free Rapunzel hat and Nola Jane baby jumper.

The hat I am making as a request from my sister in law who saw it and immediately bought the yarn and handed it over to me to knit for her. The pattern is from Tiny Owl Knits,which is also the website responsible for the current hexipuff craze with the Beekeepers quilt. Thankfully this fabulously sunny weather we're having this week is buying me some time to get it done before the chill sets back in.

The jumper is from the cute as a button Petit Purls and I’m making it for a very deserving Flo. I couldn’t believe it when I realised that I haven’t knitted anything for her since Christmas last year when I made her the stripy babygrow! I should be ashamed! I'm almost ready to join the arms to the body, so I'm quite pleased with my progress. The cuffs and hem are quite ingenious. They are done by crochet cast on, knitting for and inch, doing a row of reverse stocking stitch and then knitting for another inch. You then undo your crochet cast on and knit the cast on edge together with your live stitches to create a perfect little cuff or hem,with the purl stitches creating a neat fold. It's a bit of effort but a lovely result. Flo will just wipe her mouth on it I suspect.

In other news it was our 3rd wedding anniversary last week and the Mr kindly bought me 2 gifts! I got the lovely Great British Bake Off book (for the second series, which I love by the way) and an amazing gold ball of yarn necklace! I totally wasn’t expecting it and it was such a lovely personal gift. Love you Mr!

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Quilt love

It’s been ages since I last blogged which is mainly down to having a new job, which is nice a busy on the 3 days I work, but sadly not allowing for lunch time blogging. Then in the evenings I’ve been getting that change of the season hibernation feeling where I just want to snuggle up and fall asleep on the sofa in front of Masterchef with the Mr.

However, despite this I managed to finish the quilt I’ve been working on for the past couple of months and yesterday I handed it over to its intended owners, my oldest and dearest friend Shanthini at her wedding to the lovely Marc.

Shan and I were born on the same day and our parents met in the beds next to each other while waiting to give birth. Ever since we’ve had a very special relationship, I’d say one of unconditional sisterly comfort with each other. So it was really important for me to give her something meaningful for one of the most important days of her life. My hope is that the quilt will become a family heirloom and keep her, Marc and their family warm for years to come.

Front of the quilt

Back of the quilt

Embroiders date of the wedding
She likes it!

 I loved making the quilt and it has spurred me on to get out my half-finished Christmas quilt and get working on it. Want to take bets on if it will be ready for Christmas 2011?

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Wool Steak and TV fame

The last few weeks have been a real whirl wind. I spent most of it organising a surprise 30th birthday party for the Mr and then we got burgled a few days before the party. The intruders stole the usual electrical goods, TV, computer, camera etc along with some jewellery and Flo's piggy bank :-( There's nothing that we could have done about it, but it just feels like a sad thing to happen.

The surprise party went really well. Everyone seemed to have a good time, including Flo who was allowed to stay up late and party till the late hour of 9pm! She enjoyed dancing, pointing at all the old pictures of Daddy and dragging my handbag around with her. The Mr. had a great time too and got some suitably manly presents for a 30 year old. One particularly apt present was a couple of fine steaks! When we opened up their special cold bag I found this inside:
It's basically just a bag stuffed with natural wool which keeps your meat cold. Brilliant.

I'm really missing my camera already. I keep seeing things I want to snap and the realise that my camera's probably on Ebay right now! So not many pictures to share with you I'm afraid. The above was taken on the Mr's phone and emailed to me.

On a more positive note Purl Alpaca's have asked if they can use my photos of the Cleo skirt I made on their TV slot on the Create and Craft channel. It will be on Thursday at 5pm Sky channel 671, Freeview 36 and Freesat 813 if you fancy watching. I'll let you know if I can get a link to the show once it's aired.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Top Tip

My Mum was helping me iron and cut out my new quilt project and she came up with the genius idea to hang the ironed fabric from a skirt hanger so that it stays relatively flat while you cut. With Flo running about like a crazy nut it's meant that I don't need to get the iron out every time I need to cut more fabric. Top tip!

However unless you hang it somewhere they can't reach it doesn't stop toddlers from trying to steal it, presumably for their own secret quilting projects?

Friday, 12 August 2011

Now you see them... now you don't!

Here are the finished baby trousers which I'm calling Isla's camo pants as they're for baby Isla and are a little bit camouflage.

I made a couple of mods to the design, making the legs a few rows longer (46 rows) and adding elastic into the waistband rather than doing an i-cord tie fastening. I'm pleased with them despite them being a little mental in colour! I enjoyed the project so much I'm going to make some more but in a solid colour and with the seed stitch patterning. I wonder if I can make them adult sized?

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Crafting not Rioting please!

With all the riots going on in London it’s been a rather unsettling time, but crafting has been keeping my spirits up. Knitting on the tube into work genuinely seemed to bring some kind of calm to people who smiled and watched as I worked away. But when Flo’s nursery called to say they were locking all of the parameter gates and I was sent home from work I got a bit twitchy again. But once the family was safely home and I got stuck into some quilting I was a much calmer person. Crafting not rioting people!

It’s so sad to see the destruction of people’s communities. The saddest parts are where independent shops and people’s homes/ cars have been destroyed. I can’t imagine what they are going thorough having to rebuild from scratch. Let’s hope the violence, looting and destruction is put an end to soon.

I promised I’d share a picture of my finished Lacy Blue top. And here it is:

My good friend James Diggle came over to do a little photo shoot for the magazine the other day and took this photo among others, which were all a bit too ‘catalogue model’. You can just about see the gold coffee bean buttons on the bust, which I think really set off the shimmering blue of the yarn. I’m really glad it’s finished and I’ve worn it a few times already. There’s nothing like a successful project to make you smile.

My new quilting project is making me smile too. Look at those prints!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

We're in... Let knitting commence!

Yay! We moved! We’re now in our new flat and I have my hands back on my precious stash! Flo has been running about like a crazy nut, enjoying all of her old toys (although she’d forgotten all about them so she thinks they’re all new anyway) and generally really loving her new home, which is a relief.  I managed to bake my first cake using the new oven and it was lovely. I even handed some round to the neighbours, who seemed to really appreciate the gesture.

Amongst it all I’ve managed to do a bit of knitting. I finished the Lacey Blue top – woooo!!! But have yet to take a picture of it in all its glory. As soon as I do I’ll post it up for you.

I’ve been working on a couple of secret projects but one of them I feel like I must blog about. Knit With Attitude have this great offer every few weeks called Yarn of the Week. Owner MayaB gives you 15% off of a different selected yarn every two weeks, simply to encourage you to try her lovely environmentally friendly and ethically produced yarns. As she puts it:

“It can seem risky and scary moving out of one’s own comfort zone, trying out new fibres and brands you haven’t used before, and that’s why I came up with Yarn of the week, to encourage you to try something new!”

I really liked the idea, and you know I love a bargain! So I gave it a bash and a few weeks ago tried the yarn of the week which was Mirasol Hacho. I don’t tend to go for variegated yarns as I usually make clothes rather than accessories and don’t really like the idea of colour pooling on my garments. However after looking on Ravelry at a few patterns and project knitted in the yarn, I found one that liked and decided to give it a go.

I’m making a pattern called Kanko Pants which is basically little knitted trousers for my friend Startitis’s baby. I’m doing them without the stitch pattern as I don’t think it would show up nicely on the variegated yarn. My theory on this is that people will tend to knit babies cardigans, jumpers and blankets, but what kind of crazy fool knits babies trousers? Me, that’s who!

I’m calling them camo pants as they colours make them look a bit like camouflage. The colour pooling is an acquired taste but as the project is going on I like them more and more. Let’s just hope Startitis likes them when they’re finished!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Knit Nation 2011, Purl Princess reports.

Knit Nation delivered once more this year with its mix of amazing British independents and gorgeous international yarn, needles, books and notions.  The rain didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits and as we entered the market place there was a lovely friendly atmosphere and lots of yummy things to pore over.

We did the initial sweep round the stalls stopping to chat to lots of friendly faces. The lovely ladies at the Purl Alpaca stall told me that they are about to launch their new range which is going to include a dress, which is apparently right up my street. Looking forward to that!

I finally met my Knitting Magazine neighbour Jeanette Sloane, who was selling her beautiful yarns and pattern book. Our columns have been next to each other in the magazine for at least a year, so it was really nice to have a chat and properly meet each other. I also caught up with Knitting Magazine editor Emma, who was selling subscriptions like there was no tomorrow.

Asking round there seemed to have been a repeat of last year’s mad dash for the Wollmeise yarn on the opening night. A shell shocked Meghan on the Loop stall, where the yarn was selling, told me they had bought 1,000 skeins of the yarn with them. By the look of the stock remaining there was maybe only a quarter left and still with a day and a half of trading to go! Looks like there will be slim pickings for the Sunday crowd.  Someone else told me that they’d heard that there was an hour long queue to pay for the sought after yarn after less than an hour of trading. Man, people love that Wollmeise!

It was lovely to see some old faces from my S&B London past like Erqsome who was working alongside Sweet Clement & WickedWoolyWitch who looks amazing having lost over 60lb. You go girl!

This year there was a Knit Nation specific Knit Tea Salon which I had expected to be fancier than it was. We paid £12 each which included 4 finger sandwiches, 4 mini cakes, which you had to pile up on a small side plate and a cup of tea which you had to serve yourself and in a paper cup. There was no dedicated Knit Tea Salon seating area either, so we sat on a long canteen table. The sandwiches and cakes were nice, but the only thing I think was worth the £12 price tag was the fact that we didn’t have to queue up like everyone else did. ‘Knit Tea Salon’ conjured up an idea of a quaint tea room, with table service, china cups and relaxed atmosphere. Instead it was more like a school canteen, which was a disappointment.

Thankfully it was the only disappointment of the day. After our tea we went to Ysolda’s stall where we bought 2 raffle tickets and picked out a couple of lucky dip pouches. Mum and I both won free Ysolda pattern downloads from Ravelry as well as some yummy chocolate. The two ladies that went after us one copies of Whimsical Little Knits which I already have copies of, so I didn’t feel too jealous! I bought my copy of Little Red in the City, which is much bigger than I thought it would be as it’s packed with Ysolda’s helpful guidance on construction and fit. This book will be one to sit down and read properly. Once again I got a photo of me and Ysolda in her photo booth and once again I probably made myself look like a bit of a stalker.

Back in the market place I made my purchases and spent all my money on Excelana yarn at Susan Crawford's stall in a lovely colour called Powdered Egg! And a really cool print from Tilly Flop for our new home which looks like some knitting on a needle but the picture is made up of helpful knitting rhymes like “In the bunnyhole, round the big tree, out through the bunnyhole, off hops she”.

Overall it was another successful Knit Nation with lovely products, a welcoming atmosphere and an ability to empty your pockets with no problem at all.