Thursday, 6 December 2012

Yarn Boy Unravels

There once was a boy made of wool...

... who unraveled himself, the fool!

He knitted up quick, with his pointy sticks... 

... and then he looked really cool!
This is an artwork by illustrator Paul Bower which has been painted on the boarded up building works in my office. They've brightened the place up and of course I'm loving the knitting reference.
You can blame me for the limerick.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Snowman Mania

We all know that John Lewis have been hard at work with their advertising company this year, trying to come up with the next tear jerking advert to make us spend our money in their shop - like I'd need an excuse? Last year's ad with the little boy who can't wait to give his Christmas present to his parents was a huge success prompting people all over the country to reach for the tissues in a collective weeping session. However, there were internet spin offs pointing out how sinister and creepy the advert could seem. I mean what's in that box anyway? A kid that doesn't like presents? What's wrong with him? This year they've gone even fluffier with a snowman who goes on a journey to buy his beloved snow-woman a hat, scarf and gloves set. It's a cute advert, I'll give them that. But no tears this year, sorry JL.

However, being the marketing masters that they are the snowman advert has spawned not only a children's book, snowman hunt competition and single of the song but the knitting department have decided to go that little bit further and have released a knit your own Snowman kit. I can't help but think they smelt the tears from last years success and decided to come up with something that wasn't just an advert, but a merchandising campaign. Smell that cash rolling in!

I personally won't be purchasing a kit, but think it's a nice gift for a new knitter or perhaps someone who loves the advert? Katie Law at the London Evening Standard went a bit nuts over the tie in and has knitted her little snowman in less than 24 hours. What's your view? Will you be putting it on your Christmas list?

Friday, 30 November 2012

Tis the Season

At Ally Pally this year I bought a Advent Calendar panel to quilt. I knew that I could have created my own/ knitted something/ generally used more creativity to make something similar, but some times you just weigh up your ability to get creative with the time you have, plus the ability for your brain to squeeze out some creativity and for me the quicker, brain soothing option won.

That being said, making the calendar was not a doddle. I had some pocket issues, binding issues and hanging issues. Also I've literally just finished hanging and filling it with only minutes to go before December 1st dawns on us. But it's up and ready to go for the festive season kicking off this weekend. Tonight I feel achievement!

There was another unexpected issue that faced me with this calendar. Not to do with it's construction but with the filling of it. I don't like the idea of Flo expecting a chocolate treat every morning and then perhaps even worse having to deal with the aftermath of taking the daily does away from her come December 26th. I discussed it with my knitting girls and there were lots of suggestions of puzzle pieces, plastic jewellery, tiny toys, fruit etc but most of these I felt she was still too little for or wouldn't be exciting enough.

Then this evening I had an idea. I suddenly remembered that I had bought a nativity set at Ally Pally from Clare Beaton. She is a brilliant artist/ author of children's books. She hand stitches elaborate scenes to accompany well know nursery rhymes as well as original stories. Flo has had one of her books since her first birthday and we love it. When I saw her stall at Ally Pally I was actually a bit star struck when meeting her as we love her books so much. The little nativity I bought from her is part of her 'pop and slot' range. All of the figures come neatly packed within the box which becomes the stable. Then you pop out each character and slot the pieces together so that they stand up.

The set laid out at Ally Pally
So instead of chocolate I have put a little figure in each pocket, ready to slot together and add to the stable each day. It's quite cute to see some of the larger figures poking their heads out of the pockets at you and especially amusing that the donkey has its bum sticking out. There are a few pockets of chocolate coins through out the calendar, although these are strategically placed on weekends or days that the Mr or I will be with her. I'm not a total humbug after all.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Designer to High Street

For my Birthday this year the Mr. bought me a gorgeous bowl from designer Anette Bugansky who uses hand knitting to imprint on ceramics.

Then for our Anniversary I was bought a vase from Heals, which has knitted stitches all over it.

Now, whilst looking for Christmas gifts I came across a selection of knit printed vases, ornaments and candles at Next!

From Designer to High Street in 3 easy steps:

Anette Bugansky - Independent Designer

I've read before about designer clothes copying becoming so blatant and rampant that some brands are actually shouting about it. I guess it's not against the law to copy the idea of this vase and per haps things are different when it comes to home ware rather than clothing? But if I were Anette Bugansky, I'd be pretty pissed with Next right now.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Pumpkin time

This is the first year I've grown veg in my back garden and my crowning glory has been this pumpkin. It started as just a little green ball on a very long and aggressive pumpkin vine crawling across my lawn and got fatter and fatter until it went a lovely orange in the last of the summer sun. And here it is! I'm very proud that this grew in my little patch of garden and so wanted to make sure it was put to good use once cut. 

Flo of course helped with the scooping out of seeds and flesh and as you can imagine 'helping' is a very messy word when you're a 2 year old. Then I made a simple pumpkin soup with some onions, stock and spices added in for flavour and texture. Once blitzed up I decided to use the remaining pumpkin shell to heat and serve it in. 

It was rather of the top for a Saturday lunch time with just the Mr, Flo and I but it made me feel like I'd made the most of my first ever pumpkin.

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Wool Week

Last week was Wool Week and I couldn't help but notice my wool themed walk to work, just like last year. Please excuse the shoddy pictures, I clearly need a master class is shooting shop windows on a sunny day.

Oasis has a nice display with shelves of large glass jars stuffed with ribbons, cord, thread and of course yarn. 

Jigsaw has balls of twisted metal yarn, speared with huge orange needles, suspended above their knitwear collection display. 

Liberty as always has gorgeous windows. This Burberry display shows off their fair isle jumpers next to large wooden spools, balls of yarn and scissors. There was another shelf with lots of Burberry yarn on it but I couldn't quite get the window glare off enough to show it.

I was also really pleased to see these mittens on strings a few windows down. For some mad health and safety reason you hardly ever see mittens on a string any more. Perhaps I should make some for Flo now the cold weather has arrived. Till next year Wool Week.

I was inspired/ reminded to write this by Travel Knitter. Cheers hun!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Things that happened

Things keep happening and I think, 'Oh, I should blog about that' and then things get in the way like work, kids, food and knitting and I don't get round to it. Such is life. So here's a little round up of all the things I should have blogged about lately, in the shorthand form.

I actually finished a few projects. One is this cute squishy hoodie for my nephew. It's called Ashton and was a joy to knit in garter stitch. It's the second pattern I have finished from the lovely Rowan Miniature Classics book which I bought a few months ago and really fell in love with. The styles are so simple yet modern. The other pattern I made from this book was Starr for Flo and with the cold weather it's been worn a few times already. She grows so fast though it is quickly becoming a crop top. Note to self: always knit in extra length for Flo!

The other project was some initialed washcloths for my second cousins in Scotland. I didn't manage to take a picture of them unwrapped for some reason but there is a 'G' on the baby pink one for my new born second cousin Georgia and 'J' on the other for her older sister Jocelyn. Both have a little soap wrapped up inside to use at bedtime.

It was my 4 year wedding anniversary in September and The Mr spontaneously bought me this vase which Fleur Cotton had mentioned in a comment on one of my previous posts. Apparently the Mr. did not read this comment, but found the vase when searching for knitting related goodies to buy me!
It's from Heals and has little knitted stitches running up and down it. How cute and lovely that the Mr. thought of it without a prompt!
The next few weeks are looking super busy with a crazy work schedule and of course the highlight of my social calendar, Ally Pally taking place next week. I'll be at the show bright and early on Thursday so hope to see you there. Do feel free to say hello and point me in the direction of the bargains!

Sunday, 30 September 2012

The Yarn Cake

The Mr and I took Flo to see my cousins, aunties and uncles in Scotland last weekend. We had a great time seeing everyone and enjoying the lovely weekend of weather which was a bit of a surprise to everyone in Glasgow I think!

One day we took the bus into town and Flo fell asleep, thanks to the rather late night of partying the night before at my cousin's birthday party. It was the midnight lego session that did her in I suspect. So we decided to try and fit in some of the 'grown up' things we wanted to do while she snoozed. For me, this meant YARN!

A quick search on the iPhone bought up a short list of Glaswegian yarn shops but one caught my eye as I'd seen it advertised in Knitting Magazine and remembered the name for an obvious reason. The Yarn Cake is situated on Queen Margaret Drive in Glasgow and is a tiny oasis of knitting heaven. The shop is miniature but has literally everything you could need or want in a yarn shop; great selection of yarn, needles, notions and books. A cafe stocked with any tea, coffee and exquisite hot chocolate you can think of as well as some simply irresistible cakes! It's a wonder that they can fit in seating, tables and even a loo, which is essential for the long stay any visitor will clearly be making in order to sample everything the Yarn Cake has to offer.

The Mr and I shared a pot of Rooibos tea and a slice of the Rhubarb meringue cake. Yummy!

The service was excellent despite the two ladies in the shop having a great big order to unpack as I visited. The atmosphere was also lovely. The two groups of customers that came in to knit, drink, eat and browse while we were there all struck up conversations with us as we sat. For me it was everything a yarn shop experience should be.

While checking out the yarn selection I found some locally sourced yarn called New Lanark Mills. The red colour really popped out of me and it was instantly earmarked for my good friend and photographer James who really does deserve something knitted from me by now!

The trip was rounded off nicely with Flo waking up in time to meet some local knitted Nessies She was then given a little windmill by one of the lovely staff. It kept her quiet enough for us to finish our tea and pay for my yarn.

A final plug for the shop is that they are running the Glasgow School of Yarn on Friday 19th and Saturday 20th October. There will be workshops, a market place, book signings and of course tea and cake. If you're in the area, I urge you to check out the website and go!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Stitches - South African style

During the Olympics the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank was transformed into 'Ekhaya' (the Zulu word for Home) for all South African athletes & supporters. They had all sorts of dance, music and performances going on during the programme but my favourite part was South African arts and crafts displayed in the foyer. There was everything from embroidery, beading, woodwork to some amazing knitted and crochet pieces.

These gazelle heads were my stand out items for obvious reasons. The one above is crocheted from plastic bags and the one below is knitted with string and has a gorgeous cable running down the neck.
The crochet one is by recycled textile artist Magda van der Vloed.

Think I could make one for my front room wall?

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Bye Bye Games

What a Summer it's been!
After two failed applications to get Olympic tickets I finally got some for the Paralympics to see the athletics last week. I went with some of the girls from my knitting group and so we of course bought our knitting along. There was great debate as to weather we'd be able to get our needles in but security didn't seem to mind at all and before we knew it we were knitting in the Olympic stadium awaiting the action to begin.

The atmosphere was fantastic and it really was just amazing being in the park. The wild flowers were everywhere and simply gorgeous. When the action started we saw so many different events and rounded the night off with David Weir winning a gold medal for Great Britain in the 5000m. By the last lap of the race everyone was up on their feet jumping up and down and screaming. The noise was unreal and it was such a perfect end to our Paralympic experience.

Today I went to the South Bank where the Marathon was whizzing by and the Thames Festival was in full swing. I met my lovely friend Morag and I helped her get to grips with some intarsia, which created a few tangles but look at those colours!

The Games may be over but in my opinion the Summer is not yet done.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Nichols Buttons 3 day Open House

Nichols Buttons Three Day Westminster Open House 2012

Lionel Nichols was a lone glass maker who handmade couture buttons from 1946 to 1966 in London's Marylebone. His daughter, Dixie, has been gradually selling his remaining buttons, releasing just 5 selections per year. Here's your chance to see the latest selections in the flesh as well as tea & cake until Gin O clock then possibly a glass of wine in a most magical setting. Read on for more details!

12pm to 9pm Thursday 20th September

12pm-9pm Friday 21st September
12pm-9pm Saturday 22nd September

1 little Cloister, Dean's Yard, Westminster, SW13 3PL

The Cloister is very tricky to find in the twisting turning hallways of the Abbey and is not open to the public, so you must email for directions and to let her know you are coming.


I met Dixie Nichols many years ago at an event just like when I was running Stitch and Bitch London. The experience was magical to say the least. Not just because the buttons are stunning, so unique and original but also because of the setting. Little Cloister, Deans Yard is situated in Westminster Abbey, somewhere you'd expect to be some kind of museum or preserved guided-tour-only kind of place, but people live there. Dixie lives there! So even to visit the place alone is an opportunity you don't want to miss.

First you're walking the ancient corridors of the Abbey, then you're lead inside the most gorgeous little house packed to the rafters with the most exquisite handmade buttons you'll ever see in your life - guaranteed. 

Dixie always puts on a lovely open house with tea and cake and a spot of Gin-o'clock. One Christmas open house we were treated to fragrant mulled wine and mince pies. She knows how to get you hooked! You are able to wander the house as you please, browsing the buttons at your leisure and Dixie is always there for a chat and usually ends up imparting her excellent advice. Many times has she left me with some nugget of wisdom that I've held onto till this day. 

The open house doesn't happen very often so if you can, I urge you to email Dixie and go down for a visit this month. It really is a great opportunity to see an amazing place with some amazing buttons and the lovely Dixie too!

Happy Button browsing!

Monday, 6 August 2012

Finish Line!

Finished in 9 days. Cast off while watching Bolt thunder across the 100m finish line. Feel like a champion!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Growing Weather

My Mum tells me that the hot sunshine interspersed with heavy downpours is perfect growing weather and she's not wrong. Check out the spring onions from my garden that we had in our fish cakes this evening.

And this little beauty is the beginning of my very first pumpkin!

I never thought I'd get into gardening but since getting a lovely little garden with our flat I've been loving it. My parents have always been green fingered and so it some of it must have rubbed off. They regularly have to field my queries about how and where to grow and plant, so I can't take too much credit, although the veggies I've grown so far have both given me a lot of pride and pleasure.

Only problem is that the two pumpkin plants are taking over the garden.
Note to self; keep just one plant next year.

PS: Ravellenics project... nearly done!!!

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Interior Stitches

I love homes that speak of the people that live in them. I guess that idea is true of anyones home, even if the pile of clothing and unwashed cups tells people you're an unhygienic layabout or perhaps a wannabe student. But it's those that choose to put their loves and passions at the forefront of their decor that really give their home personality, life and inject love into the place which turns a house a home.

As I've mentioned before I love to put little knitted touches into our flat, even if they're not strictly knitted. Recently I've found a couple of brilliant pieces which I sadly can't justify the spend on, but wanted to share with you incase you've got the pocket money.

This amazing knit print wallpaper from Cavern Home would have been perfect for our chimney breast or even as a statement wall in the bedroom. The muted tones make this a really understated and chic statement. I find the thought of spending so much on wallpaper hard to swallow as I just think of little fingers slowly picking at corners and ripping off strips! I understand that a paper like the range at Cavern Home would be considered as more of a piece of art on your wall than simply wallpaper. Sadly I can't afford such art.

These really cute cushions from Room39 come in a range of lovely colours and also as single bed covers. I love the detail of the stitches and think they would look great on my sofa. But at £35 each I look at the stack of fabric in my craft unit and think I could just make some cushion covers. I just wish I had this fabric print!

Monday, 30 July 2012

And They're Off...

Enchanted Knoll Farm, Superwash Sock in 'Emerald Lake' was the clear winner from my little vote. I think it was the gorgeous colour that swung it. I know it will go nicely with my hair colour and think it will really stand out from my back winter coat.

The pattern is the Ishbel scarf from Ysolda Teague's Whimsical Little Knits book. I really love her patterns and her books are always so well put together, thought out and generally nice to look at. For this pattern, which has had over eleven thousand projects made on Ravelry, she gives the option of written instructions or a chart to work from for the lace pattern. It's really nice to have the choice and so far it's been a really nice project to work on. The knitting is really flying too. I'm already on the lace pattern and I didn't even cast on until the day after the opening ceremony because I fell asleep somewhere around Cameroon parading out.

I have been putting a little more effort into my knitting as this is meant to be a personal challenge, so it has come out and about with me this weekend and I've been knitting a few rows here and there. Unfortunately this has meant a certain small person has become increasingly interested in my stitching. Consequentially I found Flo pulling the stitches off my needles yesterday morning as she shouted "I do it Mummy!" She got quite a shock when I shouted at her very loud to put it down. She obviously doesn't understand my extreme attachment to my knitting yet!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Decisions, Decisions.

From left to right we have:
Artists Palette Yarns, Sweet Feet in purples and greens
Nimi Torva in deep purples
Enchanted Knoll Farm, Superwash Sock in 'Emerald Lake'
The Natural Dye Studio, Dazzle Sock in blue
The Yarn Yard, Toddy in 'Probably Jane' (grassy green)
Artists Palette Yarns, Sweet Feet in greys and blues

Help me! I'm trying to make a decision on which yarn to use for my Ravellenic Games project and they're all just too gorgeous!

I am going to make Ishbel by Ysolda Teague which has been in my queue for a long time now and so the personal challenge of the Ravellenics seems the perfect time to get stuck into the project. The project will work with any of these yarns as I'm going to make the smaller, thicker scarf version. I just need to decide which one to go for.

If you don't know what the Ravellenics is, it's a personal challenge that knitters can take on during the 17 days of the Olympics, which this year is just down the road from when I live in Stratford! As it is all about a personal challenge you can pick any project you want, it's all about challenging yourself. The only rules are that you can only cast on once the torch is lit in the stadium and the aim is to have finished (whatever your definition of that is) by the time the flame goes out on the final day.

I'm opening the voting to you and I shall be checking back tonight to see who's the winner during my knitting group! I will then wind the yarn in preparation for the big cast on on Friday. Woo!

To cast your vote just leave a comment here and I'll tot up the votes, along with those of my knitting group tonight at about 8.30pm (GMT).

Commence the voting!

Monday, 23 July 2012

What a Difference 11 Days Make

11 days! Thats all it took to cast on, knit and sew up this beauty! And I'm unusually pleased with my sewing up which is not something I am famed for. However, putting in that extra effort to do it right really paid off and I think it looks great.

I even sewed in one of the labels my Mum had made for me at Christmas, so I'm feeling extra proud of this knitty achievement!

This swift time trial bodes well for my next adventure for the Ravellenic Games. I'll never get used to saying that!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Starr light

Look! Look! A different project!!! This is Starr by Martin Storey from the Rowan Miniature Classics book I bought at Liberty a few weeks ago. While I was there I also 'accidentally' bought this Rowan Handknit Cotton which was in the sale for just £1.90 a ball. I only wanted 4 balls to make this jumper for Flo, but the cashier informed me that they only sold them in packs of 10. What a shame, I had to buy them all!

This project was knitting up so quickly I finished the back in just a few days of knitting on the train to and from work. Then I made up most of the front during my knitting group the other night, My knitting needles were on fire! Talking of needles - look how nice these ones are! I bought them on a work trip to LA a few years ago and this is the first time I've been able to use them. PRETTY!

Then I got to the part of the pattern where it says "Place star motif". So I'm looking, looking, looking and thinking, where the hell is this star motif? Eventually I went online to find that it wasn't me descending into madness but rather Rowan that had forgotten to add the motif chart into the book. Well, it's only the main point of the jumper ay Rowan. Not like you need that essential chart in the book or anything. I got it printed off and was back on track.

The jumper might actually be finished by the Olympics! Then I get to start on my Ravellenic Games project. Yes, you read correctly - Ravellenic, not Ravelympic. Apparently the Olympics committee have decided it's illegal to use that word. Idiots.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Oh Happy Day

I took the opportunity while the Mr was out the other night to totally blitz the blanket and voila! Here is the finished article! This blanket took almost 4 months to finish, so no deadline knitting for me for quite some time I think!

I am so completely glad that it is finished and just in time for the new arrival. I celebrated with a trip down to the Southbank with the Mr and Flo who saw an enormous puddle and decided that it was perfect for splashing in. She might have ruined her trainers forever but it was worth it.

We found the gorgeous roof top garden at the Queen Elizabeth Hall and these daisies summed up my sunny mood in an otherwise dull wet day.

The garden is well worth a look, even if the weather doesn't perk up. It's full of wild flowers, little benches, sculptures, vegetable patches and probably the scariest scarecrow I've ever seen. Plus there's a bar, so what's not to like?

When we got home that night I cast on a new project and felt a real "ahhhhhhhhh" of relaxation run through me. The feel of a different fibre through my fingers, different needles in my hands and most of all the reassuring thickness of DK yarn as opposed to 3ply. Bliss.

Now the only question that remains is: Will it be a boy or a girl?