Friday, 29 April 2011

Congratulations Will and Kate!


We headed off into town this morning as there was a street party on and they had advertised that you could watch the wedding on a big screen. Although when we got there it became apparent that there wasn't one! Town is not that big. For some reason it hadn't been delivered so it was a mad rush to get back home again in time to watch. We just made it! And I'm so glad we did. Catherine looked beautiful and it was so heart-lifting to see everyone out supporting them. I'm really glad I wasn't in London today as crowds scare me to death! Actually London as it is scares me, I keep meaning to go there to get over my fear but haven't done so yet. I have an irrational fear of being lost and the city seems so big! See, scared of my own capital city. That's really lame isn't it? Though I think it has to do with my lack of map reading skills and ability to tell my left from right.

I loved her dress, absolutely stunning choice. I'm quite glad it was kept such a secret until the day, added more to the excitement. I also liked the Queen's outfit, I love a bit of bold yellow.

Wishing the young Royal couple every happiness for the future.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

When is a WIP not a WIP?


When it's a ball of frogged yarn and some empty needles. Grrrrr! I just couldn't get past the 5th repeat without making some sort of silly mistake and the yarn had been ripped back so many times it had started to get splitty and fuzzy which made for even more mistakes. I know it's inevitable as it's my first time at lace but it is so disheartening. I'm not sure whether to cast on again with fresh yarn or give it a break for a while and start something else. Maybe in a different colour? Is it just me who gets sick of the sight of a yarn once they have worked with it for so long?

Sorry there isn't much going on on my needles this week, why not check over at Tami's blog and see what everyone else has been up to.


Just thought I'd also show you my spoils from the mid-week car boot today. Mr J is still off work, he only has to do one day tomorrow and then he has 4 more days off as it's the Royal Wedding. It's fair to say I have been painfully miserable lately so Mr J has taken it upon himself to merrily chivvy me along and make me go out to places even if I don't want to. He can be irritating like that. Especially as I end up enjoying myself!


I saw this metal tray in a box of house clearance. I like the way it has been used and worn away and I love the font used for the engraving. It was a very reasonable 50p and now Mr J thinks he is exempt from buying me anything for our anniversary ever again. It's not until June anyhow, there's time!


I almost didn't buy this print but ended up going back for it, there's just something about it I like and for £1 it isn't much of a risk is it? Google tells me the artist designed for Royal Doulton china.

Hope everyone is well in blogland. Til next time!


Sunday, 24 April 2011

Happy Easter


Hello all! I'm back. Well really I've been back since late on Tuesday night. I was hoping to be be able to show you lots of pictures of my holiday but a series of events meant that we had to come back early, there was just no other option. We had one almost-perfect day on the beach and for that I am thankful. Otherwise I'm bewildered, lost and completely furious over the whole thing. It just shows how life can turn in the blink of an eye.

My knitting on the beach

I thought the best thing would be to find something to do once I got home to take my mind off everything so we opted to clear out the garage. Four days of dirt, spiders, mouse poo and one full skip later we're ready to sell some of the excess stuff and hopefully make back the cost of the skip hire. They haven't half got expensive! The plan is to make enough room so I can park my car in there (after all isn't that what a garage is for?!) to stop it from being vandalised. I found some pretty cool stuff belonging to my Grandma's in there that I have been allowed to keep, most notably a whole box of buttons!

Today I also made the cakes in the first picture for my sister-in-law's birthday. They are iced with white chocolate buttercream and decorated with some Easter M&M's I picked up at a pound shop. I sent Mr J and the kids over there with them as I don't feel up to seeing people yet and spent a quiet day catching up on blogs and watching programmes I had missed. Sorry to be on such a downer. I did consider bluffing my way through it but I'm not the type and tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. And for now my heart is a little bit wounded.

I hope everyone has had a Happy Easter, or Happy Chocolate Day, whichever you celebrate. Speak soon.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Lifelines

I have used a lifeline for the first time ever. Why haven't I done it before?! My six rows of lace were causing me hassle, I just couldn't get them right. It's so hard to remember what I am doing, especially when someone comes in and talks to me. I'll be in the middle of my mental 'yf, SSK, K3, K2tog...' when I get 'Mommmmmy!' *insert child related request here* and then my mind is blank and I'm left staring at my knitting waiting for it to magically tell me what is next. Which of course it doesn't. One thing I have found with lace is that it has made me like purl rows as that's when you get to see the pattern emerge.

I'm off to do that holiday thing in the morning, of course I haven't packed everything yet. Apart from my knitting bag! I'm taking the lacy cardigan and these colours here in DK for another baby project I've had my mind on for a while.


There is no internet where I'm going, wonder who will miss it the most? It probably won't be me. I'm also taking a book, a proper one with pages. It's about a man who attacks people based on their shoes. I'm safe, mine aren't anywhere near fancy enough.

Back soon!

PS The colour chart is made using ColorCombos. A bonus for the colour challenged like me.

PPS Burglars, don't bother! My cats have got full waitress service for the duration. I expect they will be pounds heavier by the time I get back.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

WIP Wednesday


This is my first go at WIP Wednesday. I have seen WIP posts on other blogs and thought it might keep me on the straight and narrow if the world could see my umming and ahhing about projects. For the uninitiated WIP stands for 'Work In Progress' and WIP Wednesday is hosted over on Tami's Amis where you can add your link and also see what other people are up to should you be lacking in inspiration. Or just a nosey piece, like me.


I cast on one of my (many!) vintage baby patterns yesterday. I forgot to add the pattern to my picture. It has a moss stitch border and a simple(!) lace pattern, worked in one piece to armholes. I wasn't totally sure on the colour, but I have 10 balls of it I picked up from Kemps when they had 500g of Rowan for £5, so if it doesn't work out at least it didn't cost the earth. The yarn is Cashsoft 4ply in the shade 'Spa'.

I have always struggled with moss stitch before, it always looked flippy and floppy and not the straight lines of bumps I wanted to see. After thinking about it for a little while I realised that the method I use to keep my rib stitch neater would work with moss too! Lightbulb moment. When I was a fairly newbie knitter I happened upon this post at Nona Knits where she suggests to wrap the purl stitch following a knit stitch clockwise, or the way I use to remember it, like the needle is putting on a scarf. When you meet the stitch again later it will be sitting on the needle twisted so you have to knit/purl it through the back loop. Depending on the stitch pattern and whether you are knitting flat or in the round it might mean that you don't have to wrap clockwise on the next row. If you are purling tbl then you won't need to wrap clockwise on that row but the next one instead. I hope that makes sense. Maybe your moss and rib are just fine as they are and it seems like a big ol' faff but thought it was worth putting out there. I certainly notice a difference anyway.



So after the best moss stitch I have knitted - evah! I have a 6 row lace pattern. Aaaaaand I went and made a mess of it, so I got to do the moss stitch all over again. All practice isn't it? As I type I have made it to row 5 and all looking ok. I may just conquer my fear of yo's yet!

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Wonderwool Wales 2011

Hello! It's been a beautiful day today and I was up bright, well ok not so bright, and early to head off to Wonderwool Wales with my friend who kindly did the driving. The sat-nav took us through some very nice scenery and we saw a lot of sheep!

Luckily for us it wasn't so busy today as it was last time we visited. I think the Saturday must be busiest as I heard a lot of stallholders saying how they had been run off their feet the day before. I'm glad it was quieter as crowds get me all flustered and even more indecisive than usual. I brought my camera with me and sometimes managed to remember to take it out of my bag!

There were of course some very unusual sheep.


This one is a young one, apparently the horns get much bigger. Eek!

His lady friends


And the warmest, curliest sheep ever!

This stall caught my eye. I have never really paid attention to rug hooking before, most of the designs I have seen are things like horse's heads and bug-eyed kittens, but aren't these so lovely?
You may be thinking these bags look very Lucy of Attic24 , and you would be right! After chatting to Carole who is behind Hooked By Design, it was Lucy who taught her to crochet at her hooky group. They are made with her rug wool and very sturdy!

She gave a demonstration of how to hook and it looks much easier than I imagined. I am very tempted by the Union Jack designs you can see on her website.

There were lots and lots of gorgeous stalls to see and I wish I had taken pics of a few more but the day seemed to run away with me (and I was a little shy about asking!) It's the second year running I have been to Wonderwool and I will definitely be back next time. If you get the chance to go then do! I missed out on the vegetarian scotch eggs again but the twisty turny mountain roads of Wales and my appetite are not compatible.

So you want to see what I bought? I didn't have a huge budget due to our upcoming holiday but there were bargains to be had and I as usual had trouble choosing. The Wendy Merino Bliss as mentioned in my Knit and Crochet Blog Week post was a bargainous £1.99 a ball. The multicoloured yarn is so much prettier in real life but it was night time before I took the pictures. It's Mirasol Chirapa and was £2.95 a skein. The fabric in the background was £1.50. I don't know why I wanted it, just did! There were some awesome retro curtains for £10 a pair but I couldn't justify them. Boooo!


Over on Calon Yarns they had big sweetie jars of buttons to root through, I got some I was needing for an upcoming project, hopefully I will get time to work on it on hols. The random ball of 4ply was from a bargain bin. I am collecting many colours for a big project, will probably take me a while. The retro patterns were from Alterknitive, who also appreciate the ones with funny photo's like I do! For more knitting pattern funnies you might want to check out Yarn Yuck. The coil-less safety pins were to fill a gap in my knitting kit and were from Atomic Knitting.


In case you were thinking of taking your dog with you, just FYI

Ok? :-D

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Jam Tarts


I have made 36 jam tarts this week as part of my Ultimate Grandma Training. One of these days I will actually come up with a list of 'gran skillz' that I need to achieve but for now it's jam tarts! I usually fear the pastry but my gran was awesome at them so learn I must. Hers used to be laced with animal fats which I no longer eat and made with her homemade jam, yet another skill I need to conquer.

So I turned to Google for a recipe. Some of which were along the 'buy some ready-made pastry and add jam' lines but no, that isn't what this is about! I found the others varied in their ingredients some contained eggs and sugar or raising agents and others not, so I chose three recipes and decided to try them all. In place of the lard I used Trex which is a 100% vegetable non-hydrogenated fat. It was only after I had used it I looked at the packaging I noticed it says to use 30% less than the recipe states as it has no water in it, maybe this would have had some bearing on the results? I don't know! Will teach me to read things properly, won't it? No probably not.

The method for all is about the same. Rub the fat into the flour and add water and/or egg to bind then roll out and cut into rounds. The aim was for the quantity to easily make 12. I used the same jam for all which was Duerr's Strawberry as I needed a smooth jam without whole strawberries in.

Recipe 1

4oz self-raising flour
¼tsp salt
½oz sugar
1oz Trex
1oz butter
Cold water

Easy to work with? Yes!
Did it make 12? Yes, but had to use smaller cutter than I intended.
Texture? A bit crumbly but held together well
Flavour? Nice. All 12 disappeared within the hour.

Recipe 2

6oz plain flour
1½oz Trex
1½oz butter
Cold water

Easy to work with? Yes, very
Makes 12? Made extra this time as I wanted to use the bigger cutter.
Texture? Really crumbly but tasted fine
Flavour? The lack of sugar in the pastry was noticeable.

Recipe 3

150g plain flour
pinch of salt
75g butter
1 egg yolk
3tbsp caster sugar
Cold water

Easy to work with? Not really, dough kept sticking or cracking and I found it hard to get the right thickness.
Made 12? Yes with a bit (lot!) of re-rolling. And swearing.
Texture? The best I think but I do begrudge wasting an egg white. I never know what to do with just one.
Flavour? Yum.

So there you have it. None of the recipes were awful as they were all eaten in record time by the rest of the family. I meant to take pics of them all but only managed the first lot! I think recipe 1 (if I increased the quantity slightly) is the best so far but always willing to try any other ones. I also don't know how to get the jam to melt evenly, all mine bubbled up into weird lumpy shapes but I guess that's the way things go with homemade. If you have any pearls of wisdom to help me with my jam tart quest then please do let me know.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend so far. Weather was beautiful here, spent a lot of time outside doing some tidying the yard while the kids looked for worms, coming back in completely filthy! I'm off to Wonderwool Wales tomorrow. Taking my camera and hope to remember to take some pictures this time.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Out of the loop!

Hello all. I haven't disappeared after the fun of Knit and Crochet blog week it's just my kitchen and laundry basket were screaming out for attention. I'm getting us prepared for going on holiday, our first as a family in 5 years so we're really looking forward to it. The eldest two kids get taken to France by their aunt in the summer. I've been busy cooking and freezing meals for next week so I have time for packing and getting my poor battered car ready to go. I still haven't quite caught up on reading posts but trying to fit as many as I can into my tea breaks.


I've also been to see two school assemblies and helped the small ones decorate a hat and an egg for a competition at school today. Though seeing some of the things people were carrying in today my craft box is nowhere near up to scratch! We had an 11th hour disaster last night, I saw one of the sheep's eyes was coming off, pressed it and it's whole face imploded! My boy was trying really hard not to cry, so out came the eggs and the saucepan and we started all over again. The fleece may or may not be made from a shredded sanitarywear item, I'm not telling! It's not the winning that counts.........

I have new yarn and am off to knitting group tonight. Just need to decide what it is exactly I am casting on!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

2KCBWDAY7 - Knitting Time

Happy Mother's Day to UK people, I hope you have had a good day. Me? Well let's just say I am glad to have something different to write about! It's the last day of posting for Knitting and Crochet blog week and today's subject is our crafting time.

Day seven: 3rd April. Your knitting and crochet time.

Write about your typical crafting time. When it is that you are likely to craft – alone or in more social environments, when watching TV or whilst taking bus journeys. What items do you like to surround yourself with whilst you twirl your hook like a majorette’s baton or work those needles like a skilled set of samurai swords. Do you always have snacks to hand, or are you a strictly ‘no crumbs near my yarn!’ kind of knitter.


I either do my crafting in one of two places. The first is my front room which I get all to myself because there is no TV in there which makes it very unappealing to the rest of the family. It doesn't bother me as I only watch 2 programmes a week. I don't like watching for the sake of it, which my husband does, and it drives me mad. Before anyone thinks the programmes I choose to watch are ultra brainy and educational, they really aren't! My viewing choices are Glee, which I'm sure most people have heard of, and Casualty which is a long running BBC hospital drama series. I sit with my laptop for company and listen to music, post on Twitter and keep up with Ravelry while knitting.

Usually I have a big cup of tea at my side to keep me going, followed by a hot chocolate drink last thing at night. Friday's are for cider or Crabbies alcoholic ginger beer, weird when I don' usually like ginger! Sundays are for bitter shandy (small bottle of beer made up to a pint with lemonade)

This is my youngest cat, Lola. I have 4 cats all together and she is the one who likes to sit with me in the evenings. She looks very serious here, the picture was taken outside where she has to exude an air of toughness as there are a lot of cats on our street and they are constantly bickering over territory. Once she's inside she transforms into a rolling, purring furball.

The second place I craft is at my local knit group. We've been meeting twice a month for almost 2 years at a local pub. There is always dessert involved and we're usually the last to leave before they lock the doors for the night! I don't really get the chance to craft on the move. I don't use public transport and have my littlest sidekick with me the majority of the time which means there isn't any opportunity.

I'd just like to say how much I have enjoyed this week. It has been fairly intense with so much to read and comment on. I'm amazed I have made it to the end! My blog reader is still showing me a total of 675 unread posts so if I haven't got around to you yet I will do very soon. I have found a lot of inspiration from you all and my knitting spark has been re-ignited. Thank you all so much for reading and for your lovely comments and if you are one of my non-knitting regular readers then my apologies if I have bored you solid. I hope you will stick with me. My usual posts involve baking, veggie food, furniture, thrifting, family and of course knitting!

Also hugest thanks to Eskimimi for organising, especially as she hasn't been well this week. Feel better soon Mimi xx

Saturday, 2 April 2011

2KCBWDAY6 - Aspirations

Day 6, almost there!

Day six: 2nd April. Something to aspire to.Is there a pattern or skill that you don’t yet feel ready to tackle but which you hope to (or think you can only dream of) tackling in the future, near or distant? Is there a skill or project that makes your mind boggle at the sheer time, dedication and mastery of the craft? Maybe the skill or pattern is one that you don’t even personally want to make but can stand back and admire those that do. Maybe it is something you think you will never be bothered to actually make bu can admire the result of those that have.

I have many aspirations for my future knitting and crochet, especially since this week and reading about everyone's yarns and projects. Most of all I would like to:

  • Master yo's. I started a cardigan that has a lot of yo's all the way across the bottom hem. I knit a few rows and the cardigan grew, and grew! As far as I know they were done correctly but the end result was massive even with using needles 3 sizes smaller. Which leads me on to....
  • Lace. I'm scared of lace but would love to make myself a shawlette without crying and hurling it across the room.
  • Make heirloom crochet blankets for all my children. This would require mass stash acquisition so is very much a long term goal.
  • Be more focused. I end up wasting a lot of time dithering over yarn and pattern choices when I should be getting on with it! I'd also love to knit faster.
  • Stashdown! A lot of my stash is leftovers from when I have bought 2 yarns for the same project if the first yarn hasn't worked out which has left me with a lot I need to find a new project for.
  • Knit a garment for myself. Maybe go on a diet first!
State Fair Afghan by Crochetbug

It's hard to pin down any one project that I aspire to, there are so many that I favourite on Ravelry, so I am going to choose one that I happened upon recently. This is the State Fair Afghan aka 'Pixelghan' made by Crochetbug. She used 1681 blocks in total to make this! In the link is a tutorial if you should wish to make one yourself. I tend to gravitate towards projects made using 'scraps' yet lack enough to make them myself! One day.

Friday, 1 April 2011

2KCBWDAY5 - Wildcard

Wild thing
You make my heart sing
You make everything.....groovy!

Wildcard – Embellish the story

Embellishments come in all types and forms. Some are more than purely decorative and form a practical function – pretty buttons are as much part of holding a garment together as mere decoration, and some are just there to give a piece an extra ‘something’. Blog about an embellishment, be it a zipper, amigurumi eyes or applique patch which you are either saving to use or have in the past used to decorate a project with.


I am taking the wildcard topic today, firstly because I haven't the skill to draw a cartoon or the dulcet tones worthy of a podcast. And nobody on this earth needs to see me doing an interpretive dance! Secondly because I wanted the chance to talk about one of my favourite obsessions - buttons. Or 'OMG! BUTTONS!' as they have become known. I saw a car today with the registration plate ending in OMG. I also love seeing ones with knitting abbreviations on, I wonder if the owners know? My neighbour has SSK.

I don't know what it is about buttons I love, after all they are just pieces of wood or plastic with holes in! I like nothing more than finding some random market or haberdashery shop and looking at all the rows upon rows of plastic tubes. In my local market the buttons must be ancient! The display button is always faded and a completely different colour to the ones inside and I don't think the pricing has changed in that time either and they are all 2p, 5p, or 6p. My kind of money! One of the problems of pre-emptive button buying is how many to get if you don't know what they will be used for. I tend to go with 6 or 8 or 10 for small ones. Whether this is right or not remains to be seen.

I think I have mentioned before that now the baby producing phase of my life is done I am now commencing Ultimate Grandma Training, and part of being a Super-Grandma is a good button tin. T'is true. I wish I had my gran's old button tin, I don't know what happened to it.

I got a few bits of my current button collection out to take pics of and the close proximity of the 'OMG buttons' and the fact he couldn't touch them while I was taking pictures sent my son into a total toddler meltdown! He has the button love too. If the kids have nice buttons on their clothes once they are outgrown or worn out I snip them off and add them to the collection.

The jellybean tin holds loose randomers, the tray has ones that are in sets and the Emma Bridgwater tin holds the fancy ones on cards. Little One had never seen these before and he was very taken with the traffic lights and fire engines so I think I need to figure out a pattern to incorporate them for him. They came from The Button Lady who hasn't got a web shop but is usually at yarn shows around the UK. I'm also very fond of the dinosaurs and bees.




These are my current favourites that I bought from LovePaperFish. She has some great and unusual bright buttons. I am going to be using these in my next project.



Here are a few more. The wooden board they are on was a purchase from the car boot last weekend and I am planning on drilling 4 holes in it and making it into a giant button to go on the wall. My husband seemed very perplexed by this and as usual thinks I am a bit loopy.

I recently saw this video about how to properly sew on a button by the Knitmore Girls. On the video they are sewing on a large and heavy (but pretty!) button but I did pick up quite a few tips and have managed to make a good job of the last few I have sewn on.

Visual Featurette- Couture button tutorial from Jasmin & Gigi on Vimeo.


For a long time I have been dying to go to Duttons for Buttons. It looks like a button goldmine. I'm wondering if a slight detour on the way home from our holiday this year could be arranged. I hope I get to go one day. Some people are phobic about buttons, can you imagine that?!

As long as this wasn't too dull one day I will do a post on my other 'OMG!' weakness which is vintage and retro patterns. And I have much more of those than I have buttons!

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