For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb
Psalm 139:13

Friday, 12 September 2014

off the hook: little crochet panda

This is Pandora (I did warn you I'd caught the amigurumi bug). 

I hooked Pandora over the summer for a brave and adventurous friend who moved away (she and Pandora are in Japan now). She's a fan of pandas. I mean, who isn't? This was my second amigurumi attempt and while she's not perfect, she is a cutie. I used the Miku the Panda pattern from Little Things Blogged. I made the ears a little differently and missed out the muzzle but it worked out okay. For the cheeks I used a pink colouring pencil (don't do what I did and use a water soluble one, then forget and add water to smudge - this panda has a serious blush going on). 

I liked the pattern a lot, but think I have some way to go in sewing on super-cute amigurumi faces. Any stitchers got some tips? 

Ooh, and don't forget, you can win a copy of Louise Walker's fab new book Faux Taxidermy Knits! Check out last week's blog hop post to enter before October! 

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

blog hop: Faux Taxidermy Knits (& giveaway!)

Remember when I knitted Mr Owl
I totally adored him and he was a pattern by the fabulous Louise Walker. You're probably familiar with her awesome knitted critters (and wigs. Let's not forget the wigs, people). Well, needless to say I was pretty excited when I found she had her own book of quirky knitted creatures coming out.
Blog hop it is, then.

Yup, feast your eyes on that knitted goodness, my friends. I've had a sneak peek at a copy and I can tell you Faux Taxidermy Knits is one nifty pattern book. Inside is a collection of 15 playful, taxidermy-inspired designs. Think glamorous vintage fur meets silly yarny fun. There's stuff to wear and stuff to feather your nest with, including stylish stoles, guilt-free trophy heads and a rather stunning tiger rug. The patterns are easy to follow and have clear diagrams with them, plus the styling and photography throughout is a bit gorgeous. Gah, what's not to like?

These clever designs are some of my favourites, but there's also an adorable owl tea cosy that I'm itching to get my needles into and a fuzzy raccoon hat that's the perfect balance of Moonrise Kingdom and Jebediah Springfield.  

I've got a copy of Faux Taxidermy Knits by Louise Walker to giveaway to one of you guys! So exciting. All you need to do to be in with a chance is leave a comment below with your email address. I'll pick a winner on October 1st 2014. 

Otherwise, you can grab a copy of the book here, and find similarly glorious knitting and crochet books here

And the blog hop continues into September! Be sure to check out the iMake post from yesterday and Thimbleanna's post on Friday. You can see the whole blog hop schedule here. There will be all kinds of  knitty goodness plus more chances to win a copy. 

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Unwind Brighton in Simply Crochet

My pasty pins see the light of day. Sorry not sorry. 

I have a wee bit of exciting news. Last month Faye and I whizzed off to the seaside for Unwind Brighton (were you there? Wasn't it ace?) and this month some of my scribbles about it are in Simply Crochet issue 22.

I didn't blog about Unwind right away as I wanted to save all my creative wordy juices (?!) for the mag. I know it's old news now, but I must say it was a pretty cool event. Glorious venue, big name vendors and enough stunning hand-dyed yarn to boggle the mind. Loved it. I won't ramble on, but instead suggest you pick up a copy and see what you think.

They made me put my face in it and everything

And more importantly, what did I come away with? I was kind of in work mode and was very restrained, but I did arrive home with a bit of sunburn, some Brighton rock (rude not to) and a beautiful handful of Namolio's linen 5ply thread in navy. It's going to be part of a crochet ring pillow for a very special future Mr and Mrs.

It wasn't until I got home and properly read through the programme that I saw the gorgeous Pebble Beach Shawlette. Oh my. I instantly regretted not snaffling some yummy 4ply in Brighton to start it right away. Consider it queued.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

5 tips for crafters who travel

Crikey, it's August already. When did that happen? Does anyone else feel like summer is rapidly running away from them?

I've been spending a  lot of time on trains lately, visiting family and friends plus a bit of travel for work. It feels like every weekend I'm catching a train here or there. I do quite like a train journey, though, that feeling of being nowhere in particular for a while. Plus, a long journey gives you the chance to play backpack or suitcase tetris and gives you a good solid chunk of time for stitching. I thought I'd put together a little list of the yarny travel wisdom I've garnered from my recent petite sojourns. We're not talking long-haul flights here, mind, just your run-of-the-mill, dull bus or train journey. Later in the year I'm going to become a commuter (gulp) and will definitely be putting these things into practice then, too. 

1. Pop your project in a separate bag. This a no-brainer for anyone who's ever left their house with a WIP. Yarn tangled in keys or (heaven forbid) gum? Err, no thanks. Project bags, people. It doesn't have to be fancy, it just has to be a separate receptacle. 

2. Check your pattern before you leave. Picture the scene: you've bagged a window seat and you're just settling down to cast on. Then horror strikes - you check your pattern and realise you didn't pack that one pair of needles you need. Arg. Be prepared.

3. Carry a paperback. Always. I use this a general rule for life, but it's particularly pertinent for those journeys where there are no seats and you're crammed in a vestibule with a bunch of strangers reading impossibly large newspapers. Stitching isn't always possible. 

4. Have a winning smile. This will come in handy when you unwittingly jab the stranger next to you with your knitting needles, or your ball of yarn frees itself from your clutches and rolls the entire length of the vehicle. Or worse, rolls directly into the lap of said stranger. 

5. Try to match the amount of crafting you take with you to the length of your journey. But bear in mind this is not an exact science. That's where that paperback comes into its own again. 

Ballin. Who needs a swift and ball winder?

At the moment I'm switching between knitting a herringbone scarf, and hooking the Lime Pickle shawl from Simply Crochet issue 20. They're both perfect projects for travelling with as the stitch patterns are easy to memorize and they only require yarn and hook/needles. 

Do you guys have any tried and tested crafty travel tips? Do share!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

off the needles: Little Avocardigan

Here it is folks, my first ever knitted garment. It's been a journey, really it has, and now this little cardi's been knitted, blocked, stitched, snapped, and gifted to a special little man, I can share it with you. 

Knit a baby cardigan, they said. It will be easy, they said. Yup, naively I thought baby projects were easy (they're sooo small. How hard they it be?). In reality, it was a bit of a wrestle from start to finish. The pattern is Anderson by Lisa Richardson (all details on Ravelry here) and I used Golf by Lang, which I loved knitting with. 

I'm happy with the finished garment, but the process was tough. I had to face a lot of knitting fears - picking up stitches for the neckband and buttonband, working dreaded reverse shapings and fiddly pockets. But, I did it, then I stitched it all together (my least favourite part) and it worked! I guess the bottom line is if you don't challenge yourself, you don't learn, and I certainly learnt a lot from this project. It does make a nice cardigan, though I wouldn't recommend this pattern as a first garment project. The pattern was unclear in the very parts I needed it to be clear! Does anyone else sometimes find this with Rowan patterns? 

Main lesson learnt: the right buttons can transform a project. I mean, these ladybirds!

Okay, so maybe one of the sleeves is longer than the other, but shhhh. It's all part of the handmade charm. And rolled hems are soooo forgiving. Thank goodness. 

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

off the needles: herringbone mitts

Shock horror, I've actually finished something. Bet you're glad you were sitting down for that bombshell. Remember when I got all excited about this stitch? Well, I've finally finished a pair of fingerless mitts for Mr P. As usual, all the details are on Ravelry here
It's a gorgeous free pattern by Kat Goldin. 

The beauty of herringbone stitch is that it looks complex and intricately woven, but it's really just a fairly simple two row repeat. I checked out Youtube and found that there's a few different ways you can work this stitch, but this is the method I used - so easy. I'm pretty much head-over-heels for this stitch, and now have a few herringbone Christmas knitting ideas brewing in my mind tank. 

It certainly feels good to finish a project that I'd neglected for so long. Phew! My crafty goals for the rest of the month are to crack on with my big pink crochet blanket and to tackle another amigurumi project. What are you working on/totally neglecting at the moment? 

Saturday, 14 June 2014

off the hook: sleepy crochet Totoro

It's happened. I made my first ever amigurumi thingy and I'm in love!
It was Mr P's birthday recently and he's got a soft spot for dear old Totoro (don't we all?), so I thought I'd see if I could hook one up in time.  I found an unspeakably adorable free pattern at Amigurumei (soooo cute) and instantly knew he was the one. I dug out the yarns I needed, grabbed my hook and took a deep breath. 

This was my first foray into the world of amigurumi, and I had been warned how addictive it was. So yes, I've fallen under the spell. But what I liked most about this way of crocheting was just how easy it was. Really, just double crochet stitches (UK). For days. Well, not actual days. You know what I mean. And barely any sewing up afterwards. I found that as long as I was vigilant with my stitch counting and became BFFs with my stitch marker, I muddled along just fine. This speedy little guy came together in about a week, but had I really been motoring along, I reckon you could do it in a couple of evenings. This might even be the first time I've finished a make on time for Mr P. Wow. 

He may be pudgy and wonky, but I love him wholeheartedly. (That's Totoro, not Mr P, who is neither pudgy nor wonky. Mostly). Do you have any tips for an amigurumi newbie? I'm thinking maybe a smaller hook size could have worked, too?

Just snoozin under a leaf. Like you do. 
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