Sunday, 13 August 2017

What's in your notions pouch?

I recently had some Cath Kidston vouchers that I hadn't mentally assinged to anything, so when they had a sale, I picked myself up a new notions pouch. While I was transferring what I regard to be my essential knitting items into the new bag, I thought I would spend a little bit of time sharing what's in my notions pouch.

1. Scissors
Always useful for snipping ends and doing afterthought heels (so you don't have to improvise with a fork!). Mine are straight nail scissors, nothing fancy.

2. Needle gauge
This slider design is my favourite as you don't have to guess what size your needles are. This Aero needle gauge is a vintage one that was a present from my mum. And it features unintentional inuendo!

3. Interchangeable needle tightening kit
I'm pretty sure everyone who owns interchangeables finds that the joins undo every now and again, so I make sure I carry the alan key round with me to re-secure the needle tips.

4. Yarn bobbins
This might just be me, but every now and again I feel a desperate need to do some intarsia! Doing it without yarn bobbins is a pain, so I always have a few to hand.

5. Tape measure
Essential for everything! I use a standard tape rather than a retractable one as I always manage to break the retractable ones!

6. Needle case
I stitched this needle case a very long time ago (well over ten years, possibly 20), and it's been a faithful friend. I have an assortment of needles in there: darning needles for Kitchener stitch; tapestry needles for weaving in ends; and fine needles for sewing buttons on shirts when they fall off!

7. Stitch markers
You can never have too many stitch markers (and I have tendency of losing them), so I have a selection in a little pouch that I got for my birthday.

So, what's in your notions pouch? Anything you can't live without?

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Yarning Along: Grandma

We've had Grandma staying with us this week, which has been lovely, and has freed up quite a lot of time for knitting and reading. I've taken a week off from work-knitting (pretty much unheard of) and have been knitting a corner-to-corner baby blanket for a friend's new baby, who should be making an appearance before the autumn term starts. I'm using Caron Cakes* in Faerie Cake, and the blanket will take two balls, so the only thinking I've had to do is how to switch from increasing every row to decreasing every row when I moved on to the second ball. Such an easy mindless project, and so satisfying. I pulled the first ball from the outside and am pulling the second from the inside so the colours reverse halfway.

As for reading, I have just started reading The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie and am enjoying it so far - the book involves several stories set in different periods of time, all linked by sewing machines. I'll let you know next week how it pans out, but for now I'm enjoying it.

I have also read two books this week from start to end: Bridget Jones' Baby and The Summer Seaside Kitchen by Jenny Colgan. The Bridget Jones is much the same as the earlier books, which I've enjoyed. This one is based on the film that was out last year: Bridget gets pregnant after two one night stands; who is the father? The book diverges slightly from the film in that one of the parental candidates is different, and I am a bit baffled that this book (and the film) completely ignores the earlier third book Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, in which Bridget is a widowed mother of two. But enjoyable all the same. I whizzed through it in under 24 hours.

I read The Summer Seaside Kitchen having read a few of Jenny Colgan's books and enjoyed them. This one is set on a fictional island off the Scottish coast (called Mure). Flora escaped Mure to go to university and is now a paralegal at a London firm of lawyers. One day an American billionaire approaches the firm to get them to fight his case to get a planned wind farm relocated to stop it from spoiling the view from his hotel on Mure; he knows Flora is from the island and wants her on the case. Flora is sent to the island and is forced to address some home truths. I loved this book; Colgan's writing style is so warm, and the book addresses place and identity so beautifully; there are also a lot of references to food, which absolutely had my mouth watering. By the time I had finished reading I was desperate to pack a suitcase and fly immediately to the northern isles.

What have you been reading this week?

As ever, linking up with Rachel for Yarning Along.

*Affiliate link.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Sunday stitching: tea towel project bags

For several weeks, every time I walked past the window of our local Asda a particular tea towel in their window display caught my eye. Eventually I caved and popped in to buy these three beautiful tea towels. I'm not massively excited about housework, but I knew that these tea towels would make beautiful project bags!

A couple of weeks ago I finally spent a Sunday afternoon turning them into bags.

First up, the seaside towels. I decided that I wanted to use the whole design, so unpicked the hems before washing the tea towels ready for sewing. I cut lining the same size as the tea towels, then stitched them into a lined drawstring bag with mitred corners. The bag is huge! I put two 200 g cakes of yarn in the bottom, and they pretty much swam. This is very much a decorative storage bag rather than anything very practical (I also added a pocket on the inside, but it's not very useful as it's too deep and goes into the mitred base. If I make another I'm going to have to rethink the pocket design, and I might go as far as to sew up the pocket on this bag).

The watermelon bag was a much quicker project. I folded the tea towel in half end to end and trimmed the edges off before seaming the sides of the bag (I used French seams to enclose the raw edges). I kept the hemmed edges at the top and bottom of the tea towel to form the bottom of the drawstring casing, which made life easy. The bottom has internal mitred corners, which are loose, but don't seem to get in the way. I love this little bag; it's just the right size for a pair of socks, and is so lovely and cheerful.

Have you done any sewing recently? What's your favourite thing to sew?

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Yarning Along: A heel short of a sock

This week has been swatching heavy, so while I have done a lot of knitting, I don't actually have all that much to show for it. The Pavement Sweater now looks like a sweater, but still has a long way to go. Which isn't to say I'm not enjoying it. The long rounds of stocking stitch make excellent television knitting, and I can happily work on the jumper while reading, which makes for lots of extra reading time.

I haven't done much work on my Felici socks in the past week, but I do now have a sock! While the kids were at soft play this afternoon I added the afterthought heel (I nkow that if I don't do the heels as I go then they won't get done!). There were a couple of stumbling blocks - I had failed to pick up either scissors or a darning needle, so I had to improvise a little. I used a fork as a pair of scissors to snip the yarn to unravel stitches to make a hole for the heel, and managed to do Kitchener stitch using just the knitting needles that were holding the sock to pull the yarn through the stitches (I used the instructions in this blog post for the actual Kitchener stitch). While it would have been easier to wait until we got home and I could access a darning needle, it was hugely satisfying doing it the unconventional way!

I have had time to read this week, which has been lovely, and this afternoon I finished The Keeper of Lost Things, which I loved. The story is made up of two separate threads, one set in the present day, and another set in the past, but moving towards the present. The present day story is about a man who collects lost things to make up for something he lost in the past, and the story is one of loss and love. I related hugely to the characters and really enjoyed the writing style. There were a few elements of the story that startled me as I was so invloved with the tale. I highly recommend this as a nice light summer read.

Linking up with Rachel for Yarning Along.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Re-FO: A blue Barley Twist cardigan

You may remember that a few weeks ago I showed you a 'finished' powder blue Barley Twist cardigan. And yes, it was finished, in that I needed a sample of the short sleeved version of the cardigan to include in the pattern photos. But this cardigan is going to a friend for her little girl, and she requested that it had long sleeves.

So I took lots of lovely photos of the washed and blocked short sleeved version, then unravelled the sleeves and knitted on longer ones instead. And here it is in all its glory (we finally had some sunshine yesterday so I could get some photos of it).

I love this little cardi, and I hope that its recipient does too. Aren't those little daisy buttons just the cutest (I really need to buy some more, or to delve deeper into my button shash - I have a feeling there are some slightly darker daisy buttons lurking at the bottom)?

If you fancy making your own Barley Twist cardigan (short or long sleeved), the pattern can be purchased from my Ravelry or Love Knitting stores.* If you buy the pattern from my Ravelry store before 11.59pm BST, Monday 31st July 2017, and use the code SCHOOLSOUT you can get 20% off.**

The cardigan is knitted in MillaMia Naturally Soft Aran* in shade 222, Powder Blue. The Ravelry project page for the cardigan can be found here.

*Affiliate link.
**Code and discount not applicable to patterns in my Love Knitting store.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Yarning Along: Round and round we go...

Hello... Is it Wednesday already?! Half a week in to the school holidays and I have lost track of the day of the week!

This week's knitting is almost exclusively stocking stitch in the round. One pair of socks in Knit Picks Felici in the fabulous colourway Captain Nemo, and my Pavement Sweater. Neither requires much attention (I'm knitting the socks with afterthought heels, so I haven't even had to think about the heel yet), and I'm switching between the two depending on the size of needles I fancy working with (2 mm for the socks and 3.25 mm for the jumper). Both are perfect portable projects for taking along to play dates, so I'm making good progress!

Last night I finished reading Running on the Cracks by Julia Donaldson. A well-written and tightly plotted read, whose thiller element was very much at the young adult end of the genre, I enjoyed this book, and throughout was keen to see how it concluded.

I've just started reading The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan (which I came to via Rachel) and four chapters in know that I am going to whizz through it, and love the ride. So far, the central characters have been introduced, and I am finding them all fascinating.

Linking up with Rachel for Yarning Along. If you like crafting and reading, head over there to see what other people are sharing.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

School's out for summer

As of this weekend, school is over for the academic year! Obviously the kids are very excited about this...

I am excited about getting to spend a lot of time with the kids; I have all sorts of activities planned, as well as plenty of family time. I'm also looking forward to a bit of a rest, and maybe a little extra sleep! This year has been a rather busy one, and I really enjoyed switching off all the alarms on my phone yesterday!

The holidays do mean that I'm not going to have as much time to work on knitting work, so for the past week I have been trying to get on top of things, making sure I have some patterns ready to have samples knitted, and a couple of test knits in my Ravelry group so that the tests can get underway before I get too busy.

The blog will take a bit of a back seat until September, I will try and check in at least weekly for Yarning Along, and may manage some other posts here and there, but it might be a bit quiet round here. While I'm away I will be working on several new patterns, so am hoping to return energised at the start of September.

To celebrate the arrival of the school holidays, I am having a little sale in my Ravelry store. For the next week you can get 20% off any of my patterns using the code SCHOOLSOUT.* Hope you find something you love.

*The code is valid on patterns purchased from my Ravelry store until 11.59 pm BST, Monday 31st July 2017. The code can be used as many times as you like, so this is an excellent opportunity to stock up. The code is valid on all individual patterns, and the Knit Night Collection and Reach for the Stars ebooks.