COOKING: a new courgette recipe tonight from my latest KDD – 99p!
READING: Silent Voices by Ann Cleeves – fourth in the Vera series
WAITING: for my free tickets and food vouchers to a craft fair this weekend. I finally won something. Whoop whoop!
LOOKING: at the large miniature rose bush, I need to go and deadhead it again
LISTENING: to Craig Charles on BBC 6M
WISHING: for a garden dibber
ENJOYING: researching my family tree
EATING: fresh berries, greengages and nectarines
APPRECIATING: that I can see censuses from well over 100 years ago. Family Tree research has been consuming my thoughts and a fair bit of my time lately as I’ve been given a year’s sub
LIKING: all the colour in the garden still
LOVING: that the things I took on a long weekend away to the seaside recently are pretty much the same as I would’ve taken as a child! Something to make, read, colour/dot-to-dot, in case of rainy days and for quiet moments
BUYING: well, failing to buy some grey mats for the bathroom, currently out of stock. Wins were a Craghoppers top and a linen skirt from the M&S sale last week
MANAGING: to put off transferring my photos from the cloud to my laptop. I must because my phone told me I have 3,000+ on here at the moment
WATCHING: Rev on BBC iplayer. Why have I not watched this before?! It’s funny, touching, sad and thought-provoking. Absolute quality
HOPING: for RAIN. We’re going to have a hosepipe ban soon otherwise. It’s been so dry for so, so long
WEARING: shorts & a tee
NOTICING: The birds are really quiet today and not around
FOLLOWING: I thought of a good line for this one in the shower this morning. Can’t remember it….
GETTING: stiff from sitting a bit too much. I’ll move soon and dead-head those roses
BAKING: I made wholemeal pitta bread last week. Pleased with them. Will definitely be making pitta again, such a treat to eat one fresh from the oven for lunch
COVETING: knowledge – what can I grow radishes in? I bet there are some good ideas online, but it’s nice to ask people, not Google all the time. At work I once grew potatoes in two tires which were stacked up, then you add another when the soil needs topping up. I need some ideas for radishes please
FEELING: relaxed and happy
HEARING: Craig talking about embarrassing listener experiences. Lots of wind in funeral services and inappropriate laughing
Making: my cosy chunky star blanket larger, still. Really it’s the perfect project on a chilly day.
Slipping: on icy roads, they have been like driving on an ice rink quite often this January. I hope for milder weather now.
Reading: another book set in London, this time during the Victorian era. It’s a proof copy. If I think it’s worth recommending I will write a bit more about the story when it nears its publication date in the spring.
Eating: Brunch! Non-stop chat with a friend a couple of weeks ago, cups of tea, full English breakfast with locally sourced everything, then creamy cappuccinos to finish. As you see it was an absolutely HUGE plateful (so glad I went without eating anything since dinner the night before…) I was in a food coma for the rest of the day! I didn’t eat until the evening, and then it was a light meal, but it was so amazing. The best EB I’ve ever had. My friend enjoyed her Egg Florentine, but I think might be going for the full English next time. She looked really envious.
Disliking: Mud! As some fields are beginning to be ploughed and planted there’s such a lot of mud on the road from the tractors. Car wash? Oh yes please. Love them. But…it was rainy the following day and my car is back to grey. Oh it’s not the only thing either; my handbag is splodged with it as I brushed past too closely.
Reading: the latest issue of Inside Crochet and trying to catch up with my Good Housekeeping mags. I’ve now got a pile of January, February and March GH to read. I got a year’s subscription from Nectar points (I think) as I always really like their recipes. But I’m finding it hard to keep up.
Finishing: something at the weekend! Ding-ding first thing of the year made. I’ll show you soon.
Singing: along to the Richard Ashcroft and Liam Gallagher version of C’mon People (We’re Making it Now.) It’s the perfect pairing you never knew you needed. It makes me grin. Here on Spotify.
Grateful: for a year’s worth of Spotify.
Listening: to Grace Dent’s Comfort Food podcast. I choose the episodes I fancy. There’s so many; it’s the advantage of coming to a podcast later. The Rafe Spall episode is painfully honest. His comfort food though OH MY, it’s roast chicken smothered in butter, with lots of lemon AND they make homemade chips. Mmmm. My current episode is Dave Myers from The Hairy Bikers. I listen to it in chunks. Some of Dave’s was at 0400 this morning. Groan.
Rewatching: Derry Girls as they’ve just announced there’s to be a new series in March. It’s so good, so funny. (Series 1 is on Netflix so you can miss the adverts, 2 is only on All 4 at the mo.)
Missing: Schitt’s Creek. It really has been my tv programme of the Pandemic. Moira never failed to make me laugh, every single episode. If you’ve been under a rock and haven’t watched it yet, it’s on Netflix. Worth getting Netflix for IMHO.
Laughing: the day after the car wash / mud bath, I had my hair done, then walked my 5 mile loop and it started to pour with rain!
Deserving: after the rainy 5 mile walk I had a big slice of cake and a mug of English Breakfast tea. January involved lots of treats. It was the freezing cold weather…
Forgetting: your nearest and dearest reads your blog “You had cake after the walk?!”
Loving: wholegrain mustard with honey. If I could find white mustard seeds I would make some, I’ve got a good looking recipe. I don’t need a kilo thanks Amazon. I’ll try to buy some locally from an Asian shop.
Cooking: crab linguine, lots of curries and dals, poached pears in red wine and apple juice with blackberries (voted absolutely delicious.)
Drinking: a gin cocktail last night. Well ok, two. A free repeat January box was delivered here yesterday. It was an incredibly generous offer for those who decided to order February’s box, instead of skipping it. It was funny timing; I’d changed my mind anyway, decided to order it and then had the the offer email, but I wasn’t too worried. The timing was just a bit off. Then to my surprise I had an email on Friday saying my repeat January box would be with me on Monday! We never usually have a drink on a Monday, but yesterday it had to be done. I really like the Vietnamese gin. It’s floral, perfumed and really different to any I’ve had before.
Tempting: you… here’s my referral code for Craft Gin Club. If you’re in the UK you can order a half price box for £20 (with free delivery.) There’s no obligation to order any other boxes. I’ve shared this a few times and people have used it. I hope you’ve enjoyed your gin, mixers and snacks.
Spotting: the garden waking up and winter flowers appearing. Then on a walk on Saturday, we saw snowdrops in the wild. So lovely, so lovely.
How was your January? Any patterns, good reads, podcasts, tv shows or recipes you want to share?
I was reading someone’s blog a few weeks ago and she said that although she uses and enjoys all the socials…Instagram, Twitter and Facebook…a lot, she will never ever stop reading and following blogs. This statement really resonated with me and I’ve been mulling it over.
Inspiration and pretty pictures are great on Instagram. I get a lot of that from IG, as well as exchanging quick, sometimes funny, messages with peeps. But blogging is different; to me it’s 3-D rather than 2-D. I think because the longer that you read, the more you get a sense of someone and what they’re about. You can feel you really have a relationship with them, sometimes it’s completely one sided. Often it’s mutual and becomes a source of warm friendly messages from the other side of the world, the other side of the country, or just a few miles away! There are a few bloggers who I’ve ended up meeting, a few have become very good friends.
Seeing what they’re making take shape from the first few stitches chained or cast on, to progress pics as time goes on and then the finished item is like watching a wonderful slow ￼tv programme.
￼I haven’t even really mentioned all the tutorials, the patterns, useful tips and the sharing of links! A helpful blog will tell you the yarn they’ve used, link to the pattern or their Ravelry account etc where you can find out even more.
It’s not all craft – I tend to follow blogs which also post lifestyle content. I like to know what they’re cooking, what they’re reading, maybe see pictures of their garden or walks they’ve been on recently. A few pictures of their city, town or village maybe too and I’m hooked! ￼
Later I read someone else saying about blog comments. She said she really values and appreciates the time and the effort it takes people to leave them. She was glad that they were still generous in writing to her. I had a feeling that there was a little bit more behind it, that she’d noticed the mega amounts of comments she used to receive had significantly gone down in the last few years. We exchanged messages about it. I suspect it’s mostly a time and immediacy thing. A quick double tap to ‘like’ a post on Instagram gives instant feedback. Perhaps people maybe don’t want to put long messages out there on public record. I know I’ve often privately messaged in response to heartfelt blog posts, or with a silly but friendly response.
Incidentally I sometimes find reading one blog post at a time as they’re published a bit lacking; I really want to read a whole batch of posts and settle down with a mug of tea and have a good read. Do you do this too?
Then I began to wonder why it was that I wasn’t advertising the blogs that I read on my own? A few years ago I remember taking the widget of links off when I reorganised things, and I’m not quite sure why I didn’t reinstate it. If I’m serious about loving blogs still, I wondered if I should be advertising the ones I follow? Then others might do the same and refresh their lists, so current blogs are still getting attention and a bit of publicity. After all, there’s no point having loads of links to non-existent or inactive sites. I needed to put a refreshed list up, so that’s what I’ve been working on.
I dip in and out of many more blogs than those I’ve linked to so far, but I wanted to share my must-reads. Even if it takes me six weeks or months to catch up, they are the ones that I read and have followed for years. It’s quality, not quantity for me.
I came across an old crochet blog the other day, I think I was following a link to a pattern on Pinterest, and it had not been updated for years. The blog list was amazing! It included all the people I followed in 2009/10 when I discovered craft blogs and blogging. I felt like I’d discovered a precious time capsule. Is it daft to feel kind of nostalgic for those days of sitting in front of a slow lap top, its noisy fan whirring as I caught up with what people were making, at the end of a busy day? Now (well, pre-March 2020) I’ll jump at speed from page to page while on a bus or train, waiting for an appointment to come up or when I’m on a break. Things have really changed now and nostalgia aside, I’m happy to have a fast little computer in my handbag or pocket, whenever I want it. Magical really isn’t it?!
It was sobering to realise, looking through my previous list of links, how many of my favourite blogs aren’t active anymore. Some still post once or twice a year (better than nothing) some have deleted their blogs completely, with handfuls of untethered pictures still floating around the Internet, others attempted to start new blogs to reflect where they were now (then) but if you search for them, they are just a blank page with a title. One domain has been taken over by a Korean handbag seller. The new blogs just never took off. The initial enthusiasm of blogging leached away over the years. They felt like they’d said the same things over and over again. The rhythms and routines of the seasons and years became a drag, not a comfort. They were bored with their own words and pictures. I get it. People move on, hobbies change, lifestyles change, relationships end and priorities shift. Work can leave little time for planning, photographing and writing something and sending it off into the ether. It takes time and energy. If blogging begins to feel like a task and work, it is far from fun. (I don’t feel like this. If I did, I’d be gone!)
Off the top of my head, these are some blogs that I used to love:
Pink Milk, Greedy for Colour, Cozy Made Things, Crochet with Raymond, Le Monde de Sucrette, According to Matt, Foxs Lane, Dottie Angel, Little Tin Bird and Rachelle Blondel’s that I think was named after her grandparents i.e. Ethel and Ernest or Olive and Stanley. I can’t remember their names! So many more, who will probably come to me as soon as I press publish.
I never sit down at my laptop to read blogs anymore. I never post mine from my laptop anymore. I usually dictate my posts because it saves my hands nowadays. I publish my posts mostly on my iPhone, and read others’ blogs on my iPad. Sitting back down at my laptop today reminded me of years ago when I started this blog; it felt old fashioned to type actual blog names into a search bar. I enjoyed seeing a full sized screen of pretty pictures, there are also the sidebars that you don’t really get to see on a mobile view. (My new blog links are at the bottom on the mobile site, by the way.) The lap top reminded me that dodgy ill lit photos you can get away with on an enhanced all singing all dancing iPhone or iPad, do not necessarily look so well on a laptop!
So what about you: Why do you still read blogs? Do you also think they offer something more than other social media? Have I missed something obvious? Which are your favourites, are your blog links up-to-date? Do you have any you want to recommend? I’m up for a bit of a blog tour, if you want to lead the way.
* Yes, I got a bit carried away in my own photo archive by the end. I forget what I’ve made!
One: I can’t tell you how good it is to have made something. From beginning to end in about 10 days. Yes!
Less yes, and more noooo was experiencing the sewers equivalent of yarn chicken. I’d asked on Instagram for any suggestions and someone said tie the old and new thread together. That seemed a bit rubbish, so I undid it all and started again with a longer thread and, would you believe, it happened all over again! I Googled thread tying and it is a thing. Sorry to whoever suggested it – I was an unbeliever – but it worked. It was initially a bit tricky trying to get the knot to stay at the back and not pull around, but anchoring it behind a tuck of the gathered material worked perfectly. Looking at the back you wouldn’t know.
Two: As mentioned on my last post Corinne Lapierre sent me a thank you gift, and someone there wrote a really lovely note. It’s so lovely that it’s pinned on my noticeboard in the little room.
Three: Yes your eyes are not deceiving you… I have managed to do some crochet this week. The first picture was taken after my allotted ten minutes. The first time I’ve done any crochet since, I think in about November. I had the yarn and hook poised in my hands ready to go just before I started the ten minute timer. I wanted every second! I felt thoroughly relaxed even having just done a little. Crochet always feels like a tranquilliser!
Ahem… The second picture was a few days later and I completely blame Nikki and her lovely Nan for my going way, way, way past the ten minute timer.
I’ve never got into vlogs. Generally I find them full of umming and ahhing, repetitious and overly long without enough content the fill the time. (Say what you think, why don’t you?!) I think this is probably only the third one I’ve ever watched in full. I’ll definitely watch another. This is the episode.
Four: This fluffy lovely spent ten minutes sitting in one of our two balcony feeders, sun basking and occasionally pecking at the crumbs of mealworm. I was right next to the window chatting to him and he just blinked at me. Looking at the fluffy tummy feathers I would say this is a juvenile.
Five: And it’s bluebell season again, seems to come around fast doesn’t it? This isn’t even my official bluebell visit, but some that are filling my local woods. What a gorgeous sight.
The Woodland Trust has lots of general info about bluebells and a search box to find bluebell hotspots. I enjoyed reading the article about ancient woodlands too.
This year’s makes were mainly small gifts and blankets. Every year I say that I’ll put blanket making on the back burner and concentrate on other things; but I’ve realised that’s not working at all. I simply enjoy making blankets, even more so when they keep popping up on friends’ Facebook feeds or when I visit family. Nothing beats seeing a blanket den or a blanket on the head picture, a snuggly sofa covering, at the end of a bed or a glimpse of one on a pram.
A mix of longer term and quick projects are so satisfying. So whatever 2018 brings will be fine, there’ll be no rules or resolutions this coming year, apart from one. (Can you guess?)
I have three things on the go right now: The garter stitch blanket which was planned for pub knitting at Knit Group and is definitely a longer term make. My first ever sock paused after the heel, but I’m definitely going to end next year with a pair of socks to show you. I hereby solemnly swear that you will see two handmade socks in my 2018 montage, unless death or imprisonment stop me. (Even then I imagine that in an open prison I might be able to do some craft therapy or activity, so socks could still happen. There’s no excuse really. Unless they make me give them away as part of my rehabilitation? I really don’t know how these things go. Now I’m wondering if any of you know?*) As for the lovely blue Hitchhiker which was Mum’s Christmas present, and finished in plenty of time** that now might be an Easter gift. Let’s not talk about that malarkey just yet, I can’t face it.
I’m not turning into a mad cat blogger, but I’m just so glad that the little kitten who slept in Mum’s garden, when he needed respite from the two young boys of his house next door, or in a chair in her kitchen when it rained, came to be adopted by her in the summer. His family ended up returning to their home country, a long, long way away and the cost of taking him was prohibitive. They told Mum she was the obvious person to take him. But I know he’s been missed because one of them called on Boxing Day to wish Mum a Happy Christmas, and asked how he is doing! So, there you have the full story of the little black cat with the powder puff tail. I’m taking him to the vet on 5th January for his booster jab. I hope he still likes me afterwards!***
Today it’s my blog’s SIXTH BIRTHDAY! Wooo! Where did the time go? Here’s my first post. So many metres of yarn and blankets later. Initially I planned this as an online diary while I carried on learning to crochet, without a plan in mind. Of course I wouldn’t have carried on without readers, so a big warm THANK YOU to you all for reading, for the comments, emails and messages. Welcome to all my new readers too, it’s great to have you along.
Have a lovely New Year’s Eve and Happy 2018.
* I’m not tempting fate am I? Now I’ve worried myself. Whatever happens please believe I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and I’m innocent Governor
**Well sort of – 24th December, apart from the ends
*** Not a mad cat blogger at all, apart from a longish paragraph about him on my end of year post….
I stopped my subscription to Simply Crochet a few months ago because I was a bit bored, I reckon it’s stuck in a bit of a rut. When they asked readers to complete a questionnaire some months ago I requested more garment patterns. I know I’m not alone in feeling fed up of patterns for small items you don’t want or need. However ( a little positivity coming up now!) I really fancied crocheting the scarf pattern I’d seen Heather of The Patchwork Heart posting pics of on IG. So I picked up a copy last week, there was the added temptation of pretty pins too…but oh! They are mostly rusty – albeit silver coloured rust, not rust coloured, but it’s rust all the same. I can’t use them at all. Boo!
Ooh now this is a good magazine related bit of news – I’ve been given a year’s subscription to this beauty. I’ll turn into a green eyed monster at times (beautiful homes and expensive lovelies to buy) I know, but I am very pleased.
This is my catch up reading pile. I asked for my birthday subscription not to be continued for a third year to Mollie Makes, again it’s feeling in a bit of a rut. I really can’t face yet more patterns for felt animals and the target audience feels like it’s for young twenty somethings. That’s fair play especially if it’s encouraging them to develop or learn some crafty skills; I just realised that I hadn’t used any of the mini packs, let alone made any items from the magazine for ages and ages.
Just because I saw this in a gift shop in Broadway, in the Cotswolds, and it made me smile. It’s one of those things you’d love to say when someone’s being all one-sided me-me-me.
While I was wondering around Broadway I kept hearing yelping and barking. I ducked down an alley to pop into the Sue Ryder charity shop and saw two pens of hounds. They must belong to the local hunt. I’m a baby where dogs en masse are concerned so this is as close I got.
I’ve seen these chargers in airports etc before, but how handy to find one in John Lewis (High Wycombe) for free charging.
My friend gave me a bumper lot of thoughtful presents including this lovely tin. It’s my new things crochet tin as the other was bulging at the seams, especially with a new bigger notebook. Isn’t it similar in design to the Cath Kidson tape measure and needle book? It’s such a good match and right up my street.
Warning. Warning. Tomato talk incoming! I’m still cooking with my home-gown tomatoes, this time it’s a bacon and olive sauce. Yum. I usually halve the olives but this time left them whole. The house is full of bowlfuls in various stages of ripeness. I never imagined eight plants could produce so much fruit (or did QI state they are wrongly regarded as fruit, when in fact they are the vegetable we all grew up believing them to be? Or have I dreamt that?!)
I’ve been wincing at sightings of the C word; usually in relation to crafting for ………… but look at what fell out of the new issue of Country Living. With the change of weather and the end of the summer holidays looming it doesn’t feel too early to contemplate booking tickets. Are you going?
What have you been up to lately?
Did you see the ice cream debacle on The Great British Bake Off last night?
In my next post I’ll show you the shawl I’ve been crocheting from the current Simply Crochet. It’s sweet, though I do have a shawl related question: there are so many patterns for them at the moment, they seem to be on trend but……have you actually seen anyone wearing one out? Anyone?
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.
I missed Mr X Stitch again. One day I will catch up with him to say hello!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Janome seems to be the machine of choice for sewing classes and workshops.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
Here are my buys. I keep being attracted to chicken fabrics, this is my second lot.
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?
Recently I received an email telling me that I had been ‘hand-selected as an outstanding blogger in the craft sector’ – this is a very promising start to any email, though I have to admit that I scrolled back to the top of the message just to check it hadn’t been sent to me in error! I’d been invited to the John Lewis pop-up shop in Islington, London to attend an exclusive lifestyle, fashion and craft blogger event, with workshops instructing us how to customise and personalise household objects in their new HOUSE range.
The invite included a plus 1, a friend, partner or someone else from the blogging community. I invited Emma from eskimo*rose as we’ve been in touch for a few years now. It was lovely to meet before the event and have a good chat, something at which we’re both excellent!
Here’s a selection of photos from the afternoon. Because we were seated in an area near one of the shop windows I noticed quite a few members of the public taking our photo – I guess we were a living sewing group window display….eek!
Click on an image to view a larger size….
I had been hoping to meet Lisa Comfort from Sew Over It but she wasn’t able to attend as planned. Freia and Tugba represented the Sewing Cafe instead and showed the group some simple sewing techniques. They chatted and sewed along with us during the afternoon which was nice. It’s amazing how long it takes to sew a strip of ribbon to a cushion cover when you’re chatting, stopping to drink bucks fizz and eat delicious sandwiches and cakes. At the end of the afternoon we were urged to take buttons and ribbon home, so I’m going to carry on adding some more to my cover. In fact I staggered out with 2 bath towels, the customised cushion, and a goodie bag. It really felt like Christmas had come early!
The other bloggers who attended apart from Emma and myself were: Aimee of Clones ‘n’ Clowns blog and Lisette of Lisette Loves. Holly from the online marketing department of John Lewis couldn’t have been sweeter or more helpful in looking after us.
On Saturday we came across Disney filming scenes for Cinderella at Blenheim Palace. Although Kenneth Branagh (directing), Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham-Carter were there we didn’t spot them, apart from the many costumed extras including riders on highly groomed horses, different carriages and four white horses with golden bridles, we did come across this beauty…
Do you remember I blogged about the scrummy yarn shop Fibreworks, Chipping Norton back in March? Well now there’s a sister shop in Oxford. I went for a look-see last week, ended up chatting ten to the dozen with the lovely owner Natasha, stayed over an hour and ended up having tea with her. It was fascinating seeing all the different people who popped in during that time. You never knew who would come in next and what they would ask. I loved it! There was a woman who asked for a knitting starter book as she wanted to make something for her baby (v v cute.) A guy who works along the road who needed a yellow nose for a toy his g/f had made. I suggested felt which he bought. He also ended up buying a Creepy and Scary Creatures to Crochet type book. We were both saying how cool crochet is and how there are many male crocheters and knitters. Well, sort of there are I think?
A woman who wanted to donate wool she bought years ago to knit an item for her child, now an adult….
A foreign student who wasn’t sure how to cast off her scarf. She’s just learnt to knit and was making a beautiful double stranded scarf for her boyfriend. The combination of blue and white DK yarn with big needles worked soooo well.
What I loved was that some assumed it was my shop too. Maybe I’ve found an alternative career? After all a customer in John Lewis, Oxford Street in London did tell me last week that I should be working there and was a ‘natural’ when I answered his questions about ipads which the employee had failed to answer correctly. A craft shop with a teapot on the go all the time, and all sorts of people to chat to on a daily basis sounds pretty appealing. Not to mention the yarn, books and patterns.
Last week I met a friend for an evening in the pub. It’s been a little while since we met so there was plenty to catch up on. She was saying how she’s taking horse riding lessons and doesn’t find it easy, plus the instructors are pretty hard on you. She ended up crying one week. The guy she knows in the class pretended not to notice which was very tactful, but then the following week he ended up in tears too! Well! Can you guess what I’ve told her she must do? CRAFT. CREATE. RELAX. ACHIEVE with no tears. I suggested looking for crafty workshops to do together, or perhaps we could join a knitting group, not as an alternative to the horse riding, if she wants to carry on, but another more relaxing and confidence boosting option. Hey presto I just happened to hear about a few local knitting groups and we’re joining one on Wednesday. Knitting/crochet and alcohol. Perfect combination (ish) so I’m taking something super simple, otherwise I’ll be showing you a cobweb next time!
It’s a really lovely shop isn’t it? If you’re near Oxford anytime then I suggest a visit. Here’s the website for info about workshops, classes, groups and opening times etc etc.
In progress: That cat needs sewing up. Still. I’m knitting the second sleeve of the garment. So soon you’ll have some pictures of actual craft I’ve been doing. It’s been happening, but I’ve just not taken many (any) photos lately.
Buying: I’ve finally chosen what to buy with my Blogger of the Month gift-card and placed my order this morning. I’ll show you the contents of the parcel when it arrives. Exciting!
CAL NEWS: The JAL of the CAL will be nearer the end of the month from my POV, but please go ahead if you’re itching to begin the massive blocking and joining fest. Can you believe it’s been a year since we started, I see my first post was actually a year ago today!
Yesterday I met the lovely Natasja of Crochetime blog for the first time, and we had a great time wandering around the rooms of Wool house, an exhibition in Somerset House, London. This was my first time visiting Somerset House, despite walking past many times. Wool House is situated in just the West Wing, so you can imagine the scale of the building.
So what it is all about? Wool house has been developed by high-profile designers working with The Campaign for Wool which was launched in 2010 by The Prince of Wales. Their aim is to promote real wool as it is a sustainable and natural fibre for use in fashion, interiors and the built environment. The designers were given a brief as to the type of room and a description of the look; such as a country feel or bright and bold. I loved something about all of the rooms, they are wonderful.
Click on photographs to view larger sizes (see the whole crochetdermy bear’s head for instance!) Or let the mouse hover pictures to read my comments, some are admittedly fairly inane.
Baa Baa…orange & green sheep?
Crochetdermy brown bear by Shauna Richardson
Blue sky, we had BLUE sky, hurrah!
Bedroom by Kit Kemp
Classic drawing room by Fox Linton Associates
A solution to your wool storage issues?
I want one please!
Beautiful chain mail inspired carpet
Lovely colors in this runner
The snug by Arabella McNie (curator of wool house)
A mint tea and some meze please!
Nursery by Donna Wilson
Modern room by Anne Kyyro-Quinn
Natural room by Josephine Ryan. My favourite.
I KNOW the focus is wool but there’s something appealing about the onions next to the huge family Bible (?) I know I’m a bit strange.
Tailoring with wool
Look after your ankles girls
The Craft room = bliss
Natasja wanted this throw. Very much.
I wish I’d taken my hook and wool, that chair looks perfect
A table loom in action
A little of Somerset House. Natasja and I imagined that each family member lived in their own wing
Popped out for some fresh air before the talk
Designers L-R: Ashley Hicks (Google him! We were 1 degree of separation from the Royals last night) Kit Kemp, Josephine Ryan and Mary Fox Linton (would tell the most fantastic stories over a glass of wine), Giles Kime, of Homes & Garden magazine leading the conversation
Infinity runner, I adore the pixelated effect
A souvenir of the evening
A wonderful visit. Wool House ends this coming Sunday, so you still have time to visit. It’s free – if that’s an incentive!
I also recommend meeting up with fellow bloggers and turning virtual people into real-life friends. It might not always be successful, you might not click, but who knows? You have every chance of meeting a like-minded friend, but you won’t know until you try. Natasja and I will definitely be meeting again for more crafty events and chatter. :-)
Pros:: (sorry I snigger a little as there’s a sex shop downstairs) Sweets in old fashioned jars available per quarter, cards, stationery, Rowan wool (ya hoo I can legitimately use wool) tiered plates to buy, a teeny bit of crochet on display, candles on cafe tables upstairs, fresh flowers, random tables and chairs, fab homemade cakes including yummy looking battenburg.
Cons: Apart from eclectic ‘craft’ classes/activities -look up the programme on their site- this isn’t really a craft shop. If you’re looking for serious yarn choices or haberdashery items go elsewhere.
Cooler than cool reception from staff, it is London I guess but smiles cost nothing. I’d accept a fake one!
Expect to wait to be served in the cafe, busy or not. I’ve heard this and now have first-hand experience.
When I was quite small I really, really wanted to learn how to crochet. My German Aunty and cousins had come over to visit us, bringing me a Sindy doll. They then sat and made crocheted clothes with scraps of wool, with no pattern! Very quickly Sindy had a huge wardrobe!
I was given a Ladybird Book of Crochet (I’d love to see another copy of this, but haven’t found one so far) and tried to master crochet, but it wasn’t to be. The drawings were all for right-handers. I have a Mum who is expert at sewing and knitting but not so much a crocheter. I did get the hang of chains but that was it. I went back to patchwork, embroidery and knitting.
The dream to learn to crochet must have been dormant for years because in 2008 I suddenly had a strong desire to conquer it once and for all. My helpful Mum went to her monthly Saturday craft group and asked a friend to show her how to make a Granny square. She then patiently showed me how to hold the hook, yarn and make them do what I wanted and I was off! I couldn’t get the hang of the fiddly central ring; so just carried on trebling and chaining from Mum’s original foundation circle. I took my growing crochet to Yorkshire for a farm cottage holiday Christmas where as I worked it grew and grew while keeping my legs warm.
I finished the rug happy; although the middle is a bit wiggly since it was just a scrap of maroon DK, and the rest was oddments of DK yarn with 2 strands put together since it seemed to suit the large (6mm?) hook I was using. But, it does keep me warm when I’m snuggled on the sofa and as it was my first attempt I was thrilled with it.
Would you like to see it?
I took this photo when I was trying to really get to grips with crochet again last January, 2011, using this fab little book (pictured in the middle of The Yorkshire Blanket) which I bought from Amazon. Buy this book if you are new to crochet, or want to practise after a long break. I can’t recommend it enough particularly if you are a leftie like me. The illustrations are for both left and right-handers with very concise instructions.
I’m really enjoying trying new stitches, honing my skills and can’t get enough of doing crochet, studying crochet books, websites, the super Let’s Get Crafting magazine (when it’s crochet) or crochet blogs like the inspirational Lucy of Attic 24.
I found that I didn’t want to crochet in the summertime; because of sweaty hands I reckon and it can be hard to crochet while drinking G&Ts too! Then when I was in Boston in September I came across a novel ‘The Knitting Circle’ by Ann Hood. It really, really inspired me to take up knitting and crochet again. It’s not the genre of book I normally read but I was hooked for a while on the Knitting novel genre.
What made you start to crochet? When did you begin?
Next time I’ll post some pictures of the first items I made after using the Crochet Unravelled book and Let’s Get Crafting magazines.