Saturday, 22 December 2012

I have been....

...away from my blog for a little while.

It wasn't intentional, just a few things kept me busy. I have been ill this week, which meant a hold on all things - work, crafting, posting - doing anything! However, I'm happy to be much better now!

In my last post, I talked about plans for making a vintage toned throw, and how I was giving myself a colour detox. Well, those plans are still a work in progress. I bought some yarn and started working away on a simple granny square throw - small squares in 4 colours joined together. I'll share more on this once its complete. This is a simple project and doesn't really represent what I ultimately had in mind - its more of a step along the way while I get a feel for the kind of colours I want to use.

I have some other, purple toned yarns set aside, which I think will eventually become a vintage style throw. I've just had them on the table while I've been working, looking at them together, trying to decide for sure which colours I like together. Then, once I decide that I need to think about what kind of stitch I want to use - definately something different from granny squares I think!

I've also been trying to take colour inspiration from other things around me, while I plan this project, snapping them all on Instragram to remind me! The purple Dahlia, orchid and dried lavender I have on my windowsill are my current inspiration! Wow, when I look around me and see how many purple things I have, I have to admit it really is one of my favourite colours! I think I'm leaning towards more blue-purple tones at the moment, like the lavender.

Even my china has been helping me on this journey of colour discovery. I was recently lucky enough to get hold of two more Royal Albert mugs to add to my collection - the pink and yellow mugs shown above (the green one I already had). These patterns are from their Bronte series (named after the classic authors, Emily, Charlotte and Anne). I think my favourite is the pink with purple flowers, seen in the foreground of the image just above, but I love them all!

That's about all for now, another post tomorrow I think!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Colour therapy

Brrr, it is chilly here, I am really grateful for our fire!

The last few days, I have been on a colour detox (sort of!). Not the kind of detox where you abstain from colour altogether, but the kind where you just let your imagination go, take inspiration from all kinds of places and try not to restrict yourself - just go with what feels and looks right to you in the moment rather than aiming for something specific. So maybe that's a colour retox then!

This all started I guess back in October. I bought a big batch of Stylecraft Special DK yarn in many bright colours and started playing. I then bought some more and because of the difficulties of ordering yarn when you can only see it online, ended up with lots of colours that I loved, but which didn't really work together. There then began a period of colour frustration where I could only use some of my lovely yarns together, whilst wanting to use all of them! I then moved into a stage of acceptance - I just worked with colours which I liked together, and accepted that the other lovely new colours I had would have to stay on the backburner for a bit. It was during the acceptance period that my colour therapy throw was born! (and yes, before you start to wonder, I am being facetious in my talk of colour therapy - I don't take it that seriously I promise!)

I'll tell you more about this throw when it's finished. I really want to talk about the project ideas currently on the backburner which have had time to develop as I worked on this throw. You can see the colours above are all quite bright, saturated hues - purples, pinks, blue, turqoise and green are all featured. The other colours which I felt didn't go with those used here were softer, more neutral colours. I had stashed away a biscuit colour, lovely old rose colour and some grape and plum shades.

Whilst I worked with my bright colours I had time to think about what I could do with these more muted shades, and the idea for a vintage, shabby chic, neutral colour palette throw slowly emerged. After a lot of browsing around on Pinterest for inspiration (you can see the colour inspiration board I have been building here), I began to realise that I had colour palettes for not one, but possible 2 throws in mind. One with old rose, blush pink, biscuit and cream tones, and one with lavender, lilac, grey and off white tones. My working title for these is 'vintage pastel throw' at the moment. Today I took the plunge and ordered yarn in shades that I think will work. I can't wait for the delivery to arrive!

Looking on Pinterest and working with the bright colours I already have also reminded me how much I like frosted candy coloured shades together too - you can see some of this appearing in the colour therapy throw above - I'm talking about sugar pink, baby blue, violet and peppermint which you can see on the outer rounds in the picture above.

Watch this space - more on the plans for my vintage pastel throw soon!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Christmas decorations

This weekend I have been getting ready for decorations, spending hours yesterday making the house look warm and festive

We have a sort of rustic theme with gold colours this year for most of the decorations. I've given the tinsel a miss and opted for a more pared down look, which I really like.

Of course it would not be a proper Christmas at my house if there weren't some homemade decorations! The felt hearts shown above were made by me. They are very simple to make. Just cut two heart shapes from felt using a paper template. Sew red or white buttons to the front of one the heart shapes. Place quilting wadding or other stuffing (make sure it's non-flammable) between the two heart shapes and then sew a simple running stitch around the edge of each heart in contrasting embroidery thread, to form a simple stuffed heart decoration. The hearts can be hung using contrasting ribbon.

I also made these tree decorations - they are cinnamon sticks (not for eating!) tied around with some garden string to form a bundle. You can then thread the garden string through the centre of a couple of dried orange slices and tie a loop at the top to make something which can be hung on the tree.

Merry Christmas everyone, stay warm!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Pretending to be a Provincial Lady

Royal Albert Damask Old Country Roses china
I feel I am mentally pretending to myself that I have more time for out of work pursuits at the moment than I actually do. The result of which is this post!

I had my birthday last week, and was given a very pretty copy of E.M. Delafield's Diary of a Provincial Lady which you can just see the cover of in the pictures here. I haven't actually had a chance to start reading yet, though I will very soon! It's something I have wanted to read for ages. Now that I have finished my study course, my brain keeps telling me I should have time for all these things. Somehow it is not quite coming true though!

Sigh. My problem is a very minor one in the scale of things, but still. I think I am experiencing crafting burnout. This is what comes of having no time at all for your favourtie hobbies for a long time, and then suddenly having that time given back to you. You try and pack in so much in such a short space of time that you actually end up stressing yourself out with it!

This is what has happened to me. I now have way to many knitting and crochet projects on the go as well as some sewing I'd like to do, and several potential ideas for future projects floating around my head. Its starting to make me feel a little crazy as I don't know which to do first!

I have still squeezed in time to spot the lovely Royal Albert Blue Damask Old Country Roses tea cup on eBay and purchase it! This is the blue tea cup which you can see in the pictures (with tea in it), and goes so well with the Peppermint Damask pattern cup which I bought in the summer. I felt so lucky to be the high bidder and snag this cup!

Well, back to crochet. I really can't list all of my crochet projects here, but I can tell you about a couple of them!

Christmas cushion covers

I decided it would be nice to make some simple red and white cushion covers, just to help tie the Christmas colour scheme together in our living room. This isn't an ambitious project - I am only aiming to make 2 covers in total. Here's the start of the first cover:

Crochet starburst cushion cover in red and white
Do you remember this design? Its the same as the design I used for my starburst cushion covers back in the summer.

Flowers in the snow blanket

This is also the same pattern - I'm intending this to be a throw, but its only cushion cover size at the moment. To be honest it may in fact end up as another cushion cover - somehow the colour scheme is not motivating me enough to make it grow any larger!

Well, thats all for now. I really will try and post more regularly - hopefully the next post might actually contain a finished project!

Friday, 30 November 2012

Christmas star garland tutorial

A while ago I had an idea for making a Christmassy-garland of silver stars. I had some left over shimmery yarn which I bought a couple of Christmasses ago and never used. I knew I wanted to make small crochet stars using this, and then string them together to make a garland you could drape over a mantelpiece or put on the tree.
Here is the result, with a tutorial.


Rowan Shimmer yarn, silver 2x balls
3.5mm crochet hook.

Note: I'm not sure you can still buy Rowan Shimmer, but I have seen Anchor Artiste Metallic in the shops, which looks very similar.

This tutorial uses UK crochet terms.

Work each star using 2 strands of yarn held together.

Chain 4, join into a ring using a slip stitch.

Round 1: Chain 3, work 11 trebles into ring. Complete round by slip stitching into top of 3 chain from start of round - 12 stitches

Round 2: Chain 3, work 1 treble into top of first stitch, and 2 trebles into each stitch to end of round. Slip stitch into top pf 3 chain to finish - 24 stitches.

Round 3: Chain 8. Work a slip stitch into second chain from hook. Work back down the chain, working 1 stitch into each chain, using the following stitches: 1 dc, 1 half treble, 1 treble, 1 treble, 1 double treble, 1 double treble. This should take you back to the base of the 8 chain, flush with the circle you had created at end of round 2. skip 3 trebles in the circle, slip stitch into top of next treble. This has made one point in your star, with both sides of the point now joined to your circle.

Repeat round 3 4 more times, to make 5 points. Slip stitch into base of first point to finish round.

Round 4: Work an edging of double crochet right around your shape, going around the edges of the points of your star. On the right hand side of each point you will be working into the single loop from the bottom of the 8 chains you made in the last round. You may need to work 2 double crochet stitches into the tops of each point before you can turn and work down the left hand side of the point.

Slip stitch into first stitch to complete and fasten off.

You can make as many as you like and them start stringing them together!

Thursday, 29 November 2012


It's been a couple of weeks since I was last here - longer than I normally like to leave it, but things have been so busy.

I've finally finished my course (well provided I passed the last assignment, which I am not convinced that I did). It means no more studying for me though! I can just relax and look forward to Christmas.

As you can imaging there hasn't been a lot of action on the crafting front in the last couple of weeks - I have literally been working every spare hour to try and finish my final assignment. Managed to lose about half a stone in weight doing it! Stress always does take away my apetite.

Anyway, I have managed to do a couple of things. I finished the next Kim Hargreaves sweater I was making - called Longing, also from Enchanted. The fabric is a lovely open work design, and I've chosen a dark red colour to make it.

I've only tried it on once briefly - I do like it, it just feels a little chunky. There is no side seam shaping, which is fine, its that kind of design. But, with the lack of shaping and the open work fabric it feels like the fabric should be gracefully draping. However, at the moment (probably because it hasn't been washed yet) its not draping, just being fluffy. I just feel a teeny bit too chunky - as I've said before I'm petite in size and figure (even more so than usual after the stress of the last few weeks!) so I have to be careful about clothes overwhelming. I think I'll reserve judgement on this one until after its been washed!

So, what do I do now, now that I have finished studying (at least for now)? Well I have plenty of planned crafty projects to keep me busy. Some are Christmas related, some not so much. I'll try and share them with you over the next few weeks!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Autumn thoughts and fallen leaves

Autumn is probably my favourite time of the year. I feel a little sad this year, as I've had to let the season pass me by a little - things have just been so busy I feel like I haven't really been able to get outside and enjoy the fallen leaves, bright colours and crispness in the air.

To try and make myself feel a little better, and make sure I didn't miss out completely, I've been taking a few snaps here and there of some of the best bits of Autumn that I've seen around me. I've been saving them up to share with you here. Along with my little list of things I love about this time of year!

Things I love about Autumn:

  1. The colours (of course!) - red, ochre, orange, brown and golden green - I love them all!
  2. New conkers - with that lovely chesnut brown gloss
  3. Bonfire night - fireworks, fire and childhood memories
  4. Hot water bottles - when you're watching a film on the sofa, they're the best
  5. The excuse to make another 5 new scarves - as if I need another 1, let alone 5!
  6. Crunching through the lovely fallen leaves - that noise is so satisfying
  7. The light in the early morning and evening - the picture below is actually dawn breaking, although it looks like a sunset
  8. Having it get dark early enough to see the moon and stars before sleeping. I've been lucky with planets this year - I've managed to see Jupiter and Venus a couple of times.

 With December fast approaching Autumn is almost over, and winter is really about to begin. Still, there is plenty to look forward to - Christmas and all the fun that brings, and then the fresh start of a new year.

Stay happy wherever you are.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Fionn finished

Phew that was a quick knit! I've finished Fionn, and I'm quite pleased with it.

Kim Hargreagves Fionn from Enchanted

The trickiest part was stitching the collar onto the body, but I managed as well as I could. Hopefully it doesn't look too bad.

It was interesting knitting this - its the first time I have ever knitted a garment which uses Kidsilk Haze and another yarn. Initially I couldn't see the point of the Kidsilk Haze - its so fine I didn't think it would add much to weight of the yarn, but I was mistaken. That single strand of Kidsilk Haze does bulk out the Kid Classic in this design by a surprising amount.
Kim Hargreagves Fionn from Enchanted

This is a very snuggly cosy knit - I do feel very "fluffy" wearing it! It's the sort of thing that I would reserve for when it gets really cold though. It feels a little bulky and warm for every day wear at the moment - it still hasn't got that cold here yet.

Kim Hargreagves Fionn from Enchanted

I'm already working on my next knitted garment from 'Enchanted' - more soon!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Kim Hargreaves "Fionn"

I have been temporarily distracted from all my various crochet projects by the publication of Kim Hargreaves' latest pattern book, Enchanted.

To me, this is one of the best of Kim's pattern collections that I have seen in the last 18 months or so. I always like her designs - unlike many other designers, her garments usually have a good amount of shaping detail, meaning that you don't always end up knitting front and back pieces which are just rectangular shaped! Being petite in stature and figure, I don't find anything too baggy or rectangular to be particularly flattering, so Kim's pattern shapes suit me down to the ground.

As soon as saw this book in John Lewis on Oxford Street on Saturday, I had to purchase both the book and yarn to make 'Fionn' the wrap over cardigan.

Kim Hargreaves Fionn pattern

So far I have already knitted the back and left front, and made a good start on the right front (shown in picture above) - just since Saturday night! Acutally it is quite quick to knit up on 5mm needles.

The pattern is a lovely, simple, elegant design, which I think will be very wearable and go with lots of things in my wardrobe. True to type I have chosed a dusty purple shade to make my version - purple is one of my favourite colours. The design calls for one strand of Kid Classic yarn and one strand of Kidsilk haze yarn to be knitted held together throughout the pattern. My one complaint is that this makes this garment pretty expensive to knit, though very luxurious!

Rowan kidsilk haze and kid classic yarn

The colours I have chosen for each yarn blend with each other - you can hardly see the Kidsilk Haze in the knitted fabric, unless you look closely. I like it that way, but I think you could also have lots of fun using shades of Kidsilk Haze that contrast more sharply with your chosen shade of Kid Classic. The shades I have used are:

Kid Classic shade 835 Royal
Kidsilk Haze shade 659 Ultra

Kim Hargreaves Fionn pattern back
Here's the knitted up back piece! Its speedy knitting, so I hope to have this completed by the end of November or thereabouts!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Big granny throw is finished!

I have managed to finish a project (it feels like the only one for a while!). Yes, I have completed the big granny square throw which I made for S's bed.

It came out pretty well!

I will try and explain how to create something like this.

Using a basic granny square treble pattern, you need to make 25 squares, using a 4mm hook and dk weight yarn. Each square will consist of 12 rounds. Hopefully from the pictures you can make out that I have tried to use a colour toning effect - each sqaure using shades which tone to one - three colours. I have 4 differnt colour toning squares:
  1. Blues - make 4 squares
  2. Green/Teal - make 9 squares
  3. Pink/Purple - make 6 squares
  4. Red/Yellow/Orange - make 6 squares
The first 11 rounds of each square are worked by changing colour each round. I didn't stick to any specific colour order for the toning squares - there are no two squares alike in this throw. The final, 12th round of each square is worked in cream/ecru.

Approximate yarn requirements are given below:


Bright red - 3x balls
Yellow - 2x balls
Dark red/Burgundy - 2x balls
Orange - 1x ball
Light orange - 1x ball
Cinnamon - 1x ball


Dark blue - 1x ball
Light blue - 2x balls
Medium blue - 2x balls
Dusky blue - 3x balls
Turquiose - 2x balls


Dusty purple - 2x balls
Bright pink - 2x balls
Dark fuschia - 1x ball
Pale pink - 2x balls
Dusty pale pink - 1x ball
Royal purple - 1x ball
Dark grape - 1x ball


Avocado green - 2x balls
Dark teal - 3x balls
Spring green - 1x ball
Light teal - 2x balls
Mid green - 1x ball
Grass green - 1x ball
Mint green - 1x ball

The reason there are so many shades of colours in the mix here is because I was using up a load of scraps! The requirements given above are approximate - you may need more of less of a colour depending on how you use it - colours you use for the outer rounds of your squares and colours which you use several times in a square (there will be a few of those) you will of course use more quickly. I sort of designed this throw to deliberately give me the choice to use more of some colours (the ones I had a lot of left over from other projects) and less of those I had little of.

Granny square treble pattern

Chain 4. Join into a ring by slip stitching into first chain

Round 1: Work 3 chain, 2 trebles into ring, then chain 2. *Work 3 trebles into ring, chain 2. Repeat from * until you have 4 groups of 3 trebles (including the first group with 1 3 chain and 2 trebles) and 4 corner chain spaces. Fasten off

Round 2: Join in new colour. Work 3 chain, 2 trebles into one of the corner chain spaces from last round. Work 2 chain and three more trebles into the same corner chain space that you started in. *Chain 1, then work 3 trebles, 2 chain, 3 trebles into next corner space. Repeat from * 2 more times. Chain 1, slip stitch into top of 3 chain from start of round. Fasten off.

Round 3. Join in new colour. Work 3 chain, 2 trebles into one of the corner chain spaces from last round. Work 2 chain and three more trebles into same space. *Chain 1, work 3 trebles into 1 chain space along the side of your square. Work 3 trebles, 2 chain, 3 trebles into next corner space. Repeat from * to end of round, ending with 3 trebles into last 1 chain space then slip stitching into top of 3 chain from start of round. Fasten off.

Continue for a further 9 rounds, changing colour each round and working last round in cream. As your square grows with each round you will have progressively more 1 chain spaces along each side of you square. Work 3 trebles into each of these 1 chain spaces as described above and continue to work corners as described above.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Yarn on the square, Ely

Yesterday I mentioned that I had some crafty adventures during my holiday, so here's a little bit about them.

While wandering around Ely last week, my eyes happened to light upon a little yarn shop on the market square, so of course I couldn't go past without going in!

Yarn on the Square is a lovely little shop, with a good range of yarns - brands I spotted whilst browsing included Rowan, Debbie Bliss, Adriafil, Manos Del Uruguay and many more! All was delightfully arranged, with a friendly proprieter to boot.

Naturally with such yarny delights on display I couldn't resist making a purchase and walked out with a lighter purse and a heavier bag containing 3 skeins of Manos Silk Blend in sea green tones:

I think this yarn is definately destined for a cosy crochet scarf!

So what else did I get up to craft wise last week? Well, also in Ely, S spotted a fabulous book shop, an independent retailer of the kind now seldom seen in the UK, especially outside the big cities. Topping and Co. Booksellers is a lovely old fashioned kind of shop, selling new books, with many copies signed by the author. The 3 stories which I discovered make up a rambling kind of bookship which you could easily lose a few hours browsing the shelves in. Did they have a craft section? Yes, they did! Once again I walked away with my purse lighter and my bag heavier for containing a copy of Jane Brocket's The Gentle Art of Knitting. I have fallen deeply in love with this book, but I think I'll have to save explaining why for my next post, or I'll run out of time to tell you what I've actually been making this week!

So, as you may know I have been hooking away on a hexagon throw made from single colour hexagons, after the fashion of one I saw on the MeMe Rose blog. However, as much as I enjoyed this, I found it quite a difficult mental exercise working out where to place my motifs so that I had the colour block effect I was after, but so that it was still broken up a little. I blame it on the studying overdrive I have been doing the last few weeks - my poor brain can only take so much! So, because of this, last Saturday night I found myself longing for a simple granny square project to take on holiday with me, where I wouldn't have to think too much about which colour to use next.

So here it is so far!

I'll explain more about this in detail in my next post, and probably put up some instructions, but as you can see from the picture the idea is big granny squares using tonal shades for each square on a white background. So far I am pretty happy with the result!