Wednesday 31 August 2011

Knit Club

(for some reason I feel this post has a dreary tone. My apologies to those who usually pop 
by for a giggle. It's the damn mojo problem I fear)

It's like Fight Club only we brandish kniting needles rather than fists. It's great. I love it.  It's only once a month for a few hours on a Saturday morning and I look forward to it immensely. I've only been going since March (I think) but everyone is so welcoming that I feel like I've been attending for much longer. I met Helen and Jo, fellow bloggers, there too who are super lovely. But it's a bit wierd when real life collides with cyber. They know so much about me!!

Debbie Bliss. *Sigh* Purchased from The Wool Sanctuary.

Suzie who owns The Wool Sanctuary where Knit Club takes place is bonkers in the bestest way ever. Never ask her for diet tips for she will tell you to aggressively eat a doughnut but chew then spit don't swallow. I kid you not!!! She is a skinny minny so maybe that is the answer...hmmmmmm...

I stole this fab pic from Suzie's blog. Watch out Suzie I WILL steal this
frock of yours on Saturday!!

The Wool Sanctuary is like the bestest part of John Lewis, rammed to the rafters with Debbie Bliss and Rowan yarn and some other scrummy yarn. So inspiring to be able to sit amongst the yarn and knit. Also there's the added bonus of having a group of women there who are ready, willing and able to help me out when I get stuck....every five minutes when I've lost count of rows......every ten minutes when I've dropped a stitch. I am hopeless. It's so hard!!! I can remember my Mum teaching me to knit as a child. I took to it ok. I would chant "up the little rabbit hole, round the little tree, up pops he and off goes she" so that I could remember the moves but I ended up with a triangular shaped piece of knitting that looked like the front of a pair of knickers and it was holey like the moths had had a nibble.

I know you have heard me grizzling about knitting in the past but I have hope that I will conquer this knitting thing. I did think I was a Natural Born Knitter. Rather smugly in fact. I cast on easily. No problems there. I knitted. I purled. I cast off. "Cor!" thought I "What's the big deal! This knitting is easy peasy!" but then I started doing patterned stitches where each row is a bit different or the stitches alternate on a row and that is where my problems start. I simply can't count my rows unless they are all knit or all purl. If I drop a stitch I can't pick it up according to the pattern sequence. I end up with a mess and the air turns blue. I have no patience with knitting and I get in a nardy strop and start frogging and frogging and rabbiting as Alice calls it. Alice has even given me very clear instruction on how to pick up stitches as has Sandi but alas, if it's a patterned piece I have no choice but to frog the stuff right back to the slip knot because I also find it hard to pick the stitches up again and even when I do I get them twisted  (even if I could pick up each stitch I'd still have no idea where I am in the pattern as I cant count rows) and I always have a dropped stitch or eight which I can't pick up. See? Soooooooooooooo frustrating. Cue frenzied frogging. Imagine Animal from The Muppets on the drums and you'd not be far off.

 I was saying all this at Knit Club during 'Show and Tell' or 'Woe and Tell' as far as I'm concerned, one of the ladies, lets call her Genius Girl, said I should run a peice of yarn through the stiches on my needle at strategic points so if I go wrong I can frog to there and the stitches will all be on the yarn marker and they'll all face the right way and wont get lost. When I'm done I can them just pull the yarn marker out. It works a TREAT! She really deserves the title Genius Girl. I've found using embroidery thread in a contrasting colour works best.

This is the free yarn and it's a bit too rough and squeaky for a nice blanket
I have been practicing basic knitting by making these Innocent Smoothy hats which you can read about here. In short people like me knit these little hats and send them to Innocent Smoothy Head Quarters where they get plonked on a bottle and sold in the shops. For each be-hatted smoothy that is sold 25p goes to Age UK. There's a crochet pattern here but I reckon an egg cosy would work too. If you want to make some then either get in touch with Suzie or Innocent Smoothies for details of where to send them.

this is NOT the free yarn
For the smoothy hats I've been using the free yarn that came with the above knitting monthly magazine which promises to teach you to knit by creating a different square using a different technique/stitch each week.

The first few squares of the blanket

It wasn't going well what with all the frogging and the mental block. I said as such on my blog a while back which prompted Wendy to leave me a message to say she had a fab book that taught her to knit. She told me all about it and then asked me if I'd like it. Of course I said YES!!!

Lovely lovely Wendy (who is a bonkers prolific crafter and does some aMAYzing stuff) posted it to me and it has totally cleared up a few of my smaller issues and reassured me that my bigger issues will go with time and practice. There are some great patterns which expand your skills as you work through the book. Edited to add: do pop over to Wendy's today for she has a very funny post up about the woes of crafting.

Wendy sent a gorgeous book mark and card too. Look at how neat her stitches are.
I think I'll have a go at these projects:

But maybe I'll not try this knitted tie, not sure Mr C would be very kind about a knitted tie.

Once I am done with the book I am going to offer it out to a fellow blogger who wants to learn to knit. I shall pop Wendy's blog details and my own in the front and whoever receives it after me is to do the same. Once they have learned to knit they are to send it on to another fellow blogger.  A bit like a library book with provenance. I love the idea that this book will gain more scribble through out it, more notes and ticking off of rows to go along side my own and Wendy's.

Wendy's ticks

At the beginning of Knitty Gritty it is advised to knit on large needles so I made a snood from a pattern from The Wool Sanctuary....

.....except I had trouble wealding the large needles and my usually tight tension became way too loose and the size is all wrong. It doesn't fit like it should. I should have done a tension square. But I will still wear it as I can wrap it around twice so all is not lost. Tis also a perfect excuse to buy more yarn in a different colour for I have changed my mind about the bright pink....I think a softer colour next time.

It's been a busy old time in the nest of late (Mini is ill) but I have been trying to make the most of it since the boys return to school next week. I figure I'll catch up with myself and all of you then. Until then I shall enjoy having the kids to myself and not having to do the school run twice a day. Before I go I must acknowledge the fact that I won a giveaway over at Sew Sweet Violet. I am beyond chuffed and want to spend a little longer waxing lyrical about the heavenly bunting I won and I shall do so in another post another day. But for a little peek go over and have a look at this and all the gorgeous stuff Jooles is making.


ps. The Yicks are doing very well. The Biggun's are loving having a free pass to piddle all over the enclosure and so far no fox has been spotted. We get two eggs a day and they come running over for a cuddle whenever I go out there, the chickens, not the eggs. Eggs can't run about. Oh how I love those Yicks!!! They come over and let me pick them up so there will never be any problems putting them to bed. I can pop them in whenever I need to rather than waiting for them to go to bed as the sun sets.

pps. My delight with Mollie Makes magazine continues (apart from one issue which I was disappointed with) especially as they have done away with the crappity crap horrid felt free gift. The material one is much better. I mention this as MM has just plopped into my post box so I will be even more quiet as I hide in the utility room having a read but pretending to be sorting out the washing. Ha ha haaaaa!

Sunday 21 August 2011

New family members...

....Meet The Yicks as I call them. I think 'chickens' morphed into 'chicks' which morphed into 'yicks'.

Are they not loverly ladies?
The orange one is a Lohman and is called Oliver Foxy and the black speckledy one is GoGo Sausage.

Lets hope they do not meet with a sticky end. My track record of Chicken Husbandry is poor. I've had a fair few chickens over the past two years and despite lovingly caring for them things out side of my control have thwarted my little menagerie.

Two died naturally and I found them in the coop 'asleep' but stiff and molded to the shape of their resting place.

One escaped.

Two were got at by Rosie the mad dog we used to have who now lives at Granny and Poppa's where she is much happier. She had leader of the pack issues here. Something to do with the garden being her territory and our house being a small area within. Big long story about how crackers the hound is....

Six were savaged by a fox, he took off with two of them, left two scattered about the coop and left two alive but in a real state. I had to shoot them. IT WAS AWFUL. Actually it does make a funny story as I must have looked totally comical in a t shirt, knickers and wellies brandishing a large shot gun. Actually if I can get my physical gestures I usually use to tell the story into words it's worth a post all of it's own. It always raises mighty chortles. Which is odd when you think the story is about having to swiftly put the poor girls out of their awful pain. *

The eggs are teeny at the moment.
See how I had to fill the egg cup with salt to hold it?

It's taken me 18 months to feel brave enough to get more Yicks. This time if I am up all night with sick children and up all day too, when I go to bed before dusk, I will say to Mr C "Don't forget to put the rubbish out and put the Yicks to bed" and then Mr Fox wont get them.

Apparently male wee keeps foxes away, so having tried to stop my boys from tiddling willy nilly in the garden for the past year I am now going to encourage them to spray all over the chicken enclosure. But not on the actual chicken house or the Yicks themselves...although that really would safe guard them. Food for thought.

We got the girls before going to Spain and my neighbours looked after them. This was a bit of a sneaky plan as my neighbour really wants chickens but her husband thinks they are too much hard work. So I said I'd get some before going away so he could see how easy they are. They are getting chickens in the Spring apparently. At least that's what he told me when I dropped of these flap jacks as a thank you.

Blogger is still being difficult and not allowing me to upload a banner directly to my blog, it's says I have surpassed my upload quota. I'm having to link to photobucket. It's the only way I can do it. I know I haven't exceeded my upload quota, I can't have. I have only been blogging a little while compared to others and I have few photo's by comparison. Very frustrating.

Ms. Mildred (thank you, I can't email you back as you are anonymous, so I'm thanking you here and hoping you see this) left me a comment the other day saying that my banner takes forever to load and fills the whole screen. Is this the case for all of you who visit me? I've viewed my blog a couple of times from other computers and it looked ok on them, but I wonder is it slow and big for lots of people? I'd be so grateful if you'd tell me.

I want to have a change but if blogger is still being difficult I may have to stick with the roses, I just hope that they are a normal size for most of you. When I view my blog I can see the roses and my blog post title all on the same screen.

Oh I am glad to have posted today. You see I have lost my get up and go a bit of late. I've returned from holiday and haven't got back into the swing of things. The boys are in destruction mode and I am struggling to keep on top of the house work. They are up stairs now, in Big's room, cackling and chanting "Heave Ho!" I just know I'll go up there in a minute and find they have stripped the bed again! Little rat bags. 

Very little is going right first time. I have made a snood which is way too big and needs frogging. I have embroidered a cardi and then cut a hole in it when snipping out the label. Food is being cooked and then ruined as I'm getting the timings all wrong. The washing, both dirty and clean, seems to be multiplying quicker than I can deal with it. I really shouldn't be on here at all. So I'm going now....and I'll see you all soon with a crafty post and a little holiday blurb even though I only took 3 photographs.


ps please let me know about my banner. I'll get it sorted/or give up and then I'll stop bleating on and on boringly about it.

*edited to add. I weighed up my options. a) leave them to slowly die of horrid injuries. b) call my neighbour to help me c) go on you tube to see how to wring a chickens neck d) pick them up and run them over e) drive 6 miles to the nearest vets having got dressed and bundled the boys in the car which would have taken over half an hour even at speed f) or shoot them. Shooting them was going to be the quickest way. There was no saving them. They were so broken I'm still astonished they were alive.  I really hope I haven't upset or offended anyone here.

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Happiness is.......

......hanging out the dresses I made last year as I can now fit in them again....


I also received the liebster award from Grateful for Crochet a while ago but have taken an age to say my thank you's! You must pop over and have a nose. There are some superb dolls being crocheted over there that always make me smile, especially how they are described. Go and have a look at this and you'll see what I mean.

Thank you!

Thursday 4 August 2011

Crochet hook roll-tastic.

Before I launch into this post of stitchy stuff I want to say thank you hugely to everyone who leaves comments and follows my blog. When I started out I really wanted to join in, to become part of this blogging and crafting community. I was ever hopeful of making a few bloddies but I never expected to make so many, I just can't believe how many of you take the time to leave me a comment too. I love that you do. I try hard to get around every ones blogs and to reply to comments as I love to see what you guys are all up to. My problem now is that I spend a bit too much time on the old laptop rather than creating, oh it's a tricky balance isn't it? And one I know a lot of you ponder over. I have read many a paragraph stating exactly what I have just said. We are all so sociable and probably all fall into the category of "people pleaser" too. Anyway, I don't know what the answer is but I shall continue to try to find some balance so I can enjoy it all and in the mean time I hope you all know what a huge difference you have made to my life. I feel constantly lifted by you. 

I've been a little AWOL in blogland the past few days as I have had my dear friend Kerranda Mirranda Miraculous May Scarrad (Kmmms) to stay with her two little girls and yesterday Clairey joined us with her two littlies.  7 kids, 5 years and under was mayhem. They each took it in turns to be gorgeous but that also meant they each took it in turns to be little terrors! Even Mini had a squealy day and those are so rare. However the sun shone for us and we all ate a lot of rocky road and it was lovely to all get together. Gem, Rah you were missed though.

Right on to business for I am blogging in haste. I had another title for this post along the lines of 'a r*ll for a h**ker' but as much as it amused me to think that some body looking for some excitement would stumble across my blog and find crochet, I don't really want them viewing my children (not to mention my flashing episode on the London Eye in my last post) so I changed it. 

A while ago, while I was still heavy with child I decided to make a crochet hook roll which I blogged about here. I just popped back to get the link to the post and saw that I made my hook roll just 9 days before Mini was born. It feels like a lifetime ago yet it's only five months.

Kmmms saw my hook roll and asked ever so nicely if I'd make her one one day. So I did.  It was a bit late for her birthday but she didn't mind at all. I made a few modifications to her roll as I didn't like the way my hooks made the back of my roll all lumpy bumpy concertina looking . So I made it a bit differently and I was pretty chuffed with it. I had a go at doing binding the proper way. I followed Rachel's fab tutorial. I even popped on a little label that I ordered from Cash's as I intend to make and sell one day.....some day, when I'm grown up.

Can you see how the back is nice and flat and the
spaces for the hooks all rounded? But there were stitches
visible for each pocket on the back.

I should have made a mosaic of all those pics but I'm trying to be more savvy with my time whilst the school holidays are in full swing. 

I showed Kmmms' roll to my Mum who said she really loved it and wanted one. So I made her one for Mothers day. Obviously it was really late. I am hopeless at getting things done on time! Again I made a few more modifications.

 Flat back, no stitches visible.

In the mean time, Kmmms had blogged about her hook roll and one of my bloddies, Nicky saw it. She saw the label and asked if I made them to sell and would I make one for her.

I don't think she expected it to be such a palaver for her. Shopping at Argos it ain't. I literally bombarded her with a squillion questions about the size of her hooks, how many she had, the details of her scissors, the fabrics she liked. Poor duck, she only wanted a hook roll and she got the third degree. She was very good about it. I wanted the roll to be perfect for her needs you see.

She was amazingly patient too. I think she waited about 7 weeks for me to get it finished.

I was being very fussy over it. Very fussy. I was fretting over it being good enough. You see Nicki and I had that awkward moment when two mates discuss payment. I would have done it for nothing but she wouldn't have accepted that so we struck a deal. She would pick a few things off my on line book wish list and surprise me.

It was a perfect solution. She sent me Scandinavian stitches and Embroidery Companion. I loved the excitement of waiting for the books to arrive. To see what she had chosen. It was great. I wonder if I ever did set up shop if I could be paid in this manner?!

I loved making this for Nicki as even though I don't know her in real life, as I was stitching, I could picture her hooking away in her gorgeous cottage with a bowl of icecream with caramel sauce by her side and the radio playing in the background.

So now for a bit of news updates: 

Mini's passport has arrived!!! So we will all be going to Spain soon. I went to the Newport passport office and everyone was just so lovely, I really enjoyed the day. It was a bit of a palaver getting to  Newport as the Brynglas tunnel was blocked by a lorry that had caught fire. The M4 was shut both ways and there were 12 miles of tail backs. I made a call to Mr C and he google train times from Bristol Parkway so instead of going East on the M4 I went West and caught a train. We did have a giggle on the phone as Mr C said he felt like we were in the TV show 24. He was Chloe and I was Jack. I tried to talk in an urgent, husky voice but I was a bit stressed and the road noise was too loud and drowned me out on the hands free. Amazingly I got to Newport with absolutely no hassle and Mini's passport arrived just 3 days later. What amazing service. 

What with having to get Mini's passport and Little getting an infection and needing antibiotics again we didn't make it to Salcombe last week. If Mini's passport hadn't have arrived in time then there'd have been no holidays for me this summer! Secretly I would have quite enjoyed a week at home with Mini while the others were in Spain, but I am so glad to be going en famille as I feel a bit lost with out my boys and my rock and roll mate. Mr C is away at a sports camp thingy this week and despite having my dear Kmmms here I have missed him dreadfully but I have not missed putting his coffee cups in the dishwasher and his coke cans in the recycling!!!

I'm thinking of changing my banner. What do you think? I'm nervous it'll all go a bit wrong like the last time I fiddled about. Blogger started saying I had ran out of photo space and I needed to purchase more. Ridiculous as I have hardly any photo's here compared to other bloggers and my photo's are only little files. If I knew where to save a copy of my html of my current blog banner I'd leap straight in. Do I just copy and paste it onto a word style document? I'd also like a favicon but I'm a bit scardy. Do any of you have experience with changing yours? Or should I just leave it as it is?

Better go and clean up after the weeks fun and start organising things for holiday now. I'd forgotten how much clobber you need for a baby. Oh and who has experience with Baby Led Weaning? I've been told to give it a whirl but this is all new to me.... Nelly? Ashley? Help!


ps Gorgeous giveaway at Ashley's and another over at Juli's. I have a few bits I have been collecting for a giveaway but I have seen soooooo many good ones out there that I think my little stash is a bit feeble as it stands so I will add to it and hopefully I'll have a decent one for you all eventually.