It’s a beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!

I always feel excited about Christmas at some point in November but then sadly the excessive adverts, relentless songs and push turn me off until about this point every December. As a family we never put the tree up early, I don’t think most people did really. Decorating from the 1st of December seems a relatively new practice. The only thing we’ve always done was open an Advent calendar, or burn a little of an Advent candle each day. I do start buying presents and planning the who, what, where and how in November but then the rest waits till about the 18th/20th onwards. So….this weekend it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!
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Oxford Christmas market – traditional Bratwurst, Onion Bhajis and Mulled Wine?! There is a pretty good selection of stalls though, some very decent offerings. I have to admit that the Onion Bhajis were tasty!

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The Town Crier doing his thing admirably.

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My little cottage (fuzzy photos as it was raining!)

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Do you like my cosy fire? Pretty tree? Comfy chair?

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Perfect place to crochet isn’t it?

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Oh alright, busted! But isn’t it sweet?

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I’d love to buy a defunct red telephone box one day. I’d set it up as a free book exchange.

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Guess why we were at this plant nursery today?

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Yes…We went to buy Christmas trees but all got distracted by FREE hot chocolate! I wish I’d taken my marshmallows. HC & MM is my tiptop Winter treat.

It’s the Strictly final tonight. I’ve submitted my five online votes for the first round of the final, and now have to wait half an hour to see who goes through and wins. It’s been brilliant viewing this year – just perfect sparkly Winter TV.

How are you doing?

Fibreworks, Oxford

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.20130903-104516.jpg 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!20130903-104524.jpg There was a woman who asked for a knitting starter book as she wanted to make something for her baby (v v cute.)20130903-104533.jpg 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.20130903-104547.jpg

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!20130903-104603.jpg

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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!

The shrinking world

The world has become smaller since the internet has given us the opportunity to instantly link with people everywhere. Today I experienced the effect of this first-hand.

When I read that blogger Hannah was going to be in England over the Christmas break I suggested we maybe meet up for a cup of coffee somewhere. We did, today, and had a relaxed time wandering around some nice spots in Oxford. Sadly two of the three craft shops I wanted to show Hannah are closed between Christmas and New Year, however my favourite independent cafe, one of the oldest pubs in the city and a yummy (100% British beef) burger place were open. So we managed to achieve a good mix of culture, a  bit of craft and plenty to eat and drink!

I’m chatty (are you surprised?) and so it turns out is Hannah, so there was no struggle to find topics, I think we covered a pretty wide range in the time we shared.  As we already have the common interest of crochet (& knitting) we indulged in a tiny bit of yarn chat, compared craft shops (or lack of in Hannah’s case) and talked about the blogs we have in common. I wonder if the ears of Trish Jill Lucy or Heather  were burning as we talked about them and their blogs a little?

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When you meet someone who is wearing a scarf, hat and pair of gloves you recognise, because you’ve already seen them (and read all about their conception) online, you understand again how small the world has become.

Crocheted jar cover

I spent my Friday evening crocheting this jar cover while sipping Lady Grey tea. I’d decided to give alcohol for January so was feeling very cleansed and virtuous. That was until, fast forward to Saturday lunch, The King’s Arms in Oxford when I finished my lovely cool pint of lager shandy and looked at my friend in horror; I’d totally forgotten I wasn’t meant to be drinking! After the 3 mile walk into town it had felt like the perfect drink. Oops.

I would really love a perfect bottom (hey, don’t we all?!) but it takes practice I guess. I am perfectionist and there are a few flaws if you look carefully.I made my own wiggly up and down pattern for the top: 3 trebles then 3 doubles repeated. The start of the design was from a Let’s Get Crafting pattern for a crocheted ‘jar’ by Lynne Rowe, but you can see where I carried on crocheting and got carried away from the white sticky outy row onwards, it’s meant to be where the last two rows of crochet fold over at the top. I kept the textured sticky outy bit (technical talk?!) because I liked it. I think I’ll do that again. You basically stop going around and around, turn the crocheted so you are now looking at the inside or the outside and go into the back loop only for the stitch. There are possibilities for more texture in dimensional projects me thinks….

The yarn, by the way, was horrendous to use as it kept splitting. It seemed more man-made than anything I’ve ever used before. But I like the colour combination. It’s very seasidey.