Sunday, 28 May 2017

#biggeekyswap - superheroes

I've finally pulled my geeky-superhero-socks up and have a post to round up my swap with my partner/s! If you want to find out how other swappers got on, make sure to check out the hashtags on Instagram - #biggeekyswap and #biggeekycraftswap

First things first, Jennifer of Pastry & purls (corr, what a blog name!) sent me the above scruuummptious goodies!! In entering into the #biggeekyswap we submitted our interests, including preferred comic book universes and favourite superheroes. Wonder Woman has to be top of the list for me, and so Jennifer knitted me an adorable pair of Wonder Woman socks that are so snuggly! Along with this amazing gift, Jennifer sent over a couple of comic books (Rogue and Mystique are right at the top of the list too), some chocolate, a thoughtful postcard, and an AMAZING book - already struggling to decide what to make first!!

Read about Jennifer's swap experience here.

I sent out my goody-bag to Amanda, who you can find on Instagram here, and I had a lot of fun coming up with my chosen handmade item. Amanda wrote that Poison Ivy was possibly her favourite character, along with a healthy dose of Feminism (woop woop!) as one of her active interests. I had this vision of Poison Ivy in a Pussyhat - what fun she was to make!

I made up the pattern myself, along with some notes so I can get her up on the Etsy shop soon - though knowing my glacial speed when it comes to pattern writing, that will be a long time coming ... but hey, it's in the woodwork!! The Pussyhat pattern, of course, came from the project itself (I must knit myself one that I can wear...) and fits snugly on Ivy's bushy red hair. To finish, some amateur embroidery up her arm and leg finished the project. I am delighted with her, and happy to say that Amanda seemed to be too! The only thing I would change are her eyes, but that's one to work on later. A couple of toys, notebook and coloured pens, along with chocolate (mm) were sent to Ivy's new home.

So, there you have it - the first #biggeekyswap was a success! Watch this space for the next subject to be announced in a few weeks' time, along with sign up - if you are fans of Pokemon I highly recommend you stay tuned :) 

Sunday, 14 May 2017

#EnchantedCottageKAL 3

Yesterday I was out with lots of wonderful ladies for my friend Beth's Hen Do, and it was a magnificent day filled with a life drawing class, games, a murder mystery dinner, and of course, so-much-drinking. Needless to say, I'm a little on the delicate side today ... so what better way to recover than to write an overdue blog post!

Part 3 of Knit Now's #EnchantedCottageKAL is now available in issue 73 of the magazine which is out now, and this month it's all about colourwork. Sticking with the Hyacinth Cottage Blanket, I knitted up 2 Florality squares. 

As usual, the squares were a lot of fun to work on. They presented just enough of a challenge to not be boring without being too overwhelming. The finished pattern is quite exquisite, and the texture of the Illustrious wool really lends itself to the Fair Isle pattern; it 'grips' together quite nicely to make the colours match seamlessly and they are lovely and bright, but also subdued ... perhaps that's the Prosecco talking, but bear with me, I'm sure at least a couple of you will be on the same page as me!

The pile of squares is growing quite nicely, and I'm very much looking forward to the next issue's squares, but you'll hear no spoilers from me. In the meantime, I've decided to knit another version of the blanket following my favourite of the squares, the Galaxy Spiral.
Instead of knitting on 4mm with DK weight yarn, I've gone for super chunky on 10mm, and I am delighted with the result! I've taken a picture with the original square for scale.
This is in Sirdar Big Softie and is scrumptious. I'm working on my 3rd giant square now and I reckon 12 would make a nice blanket, and 16 even more so. I'm doing a colourful miss-match of a blanket using up chunky yarn in my stash, as I have lots of single balls that are only usually good for hats (but I have a lot of hats), and one square eaquals a square with just a little left over for sewing up and pompoms to adorn the blanket. I can't wait to show you when finished. 

Keep an eye out for part four of the #EnchantedCottagKAL!

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Loot Crate, Dream Crate

Happy Sunday dear readers and knitters, how does this sunny day find you all? This post is a little different today, but I hope it will be something that you are interested in and will find it inspiring, creative, and if not a little bit annoying because you will find that you want to buy lots of things you may not have realised you wanted; whu-oh!

I was delighted, delighted I say, to be approached by Loot Crate and asked to take part in their current campaign in which they ask geeky bloggers and online folk (ah, to be considered so - love it) to compile their 'Dream Crate'. And as a past subscriber and a huge fan of subscription boxes, I was more than happy to oblige (and big thanks to the team for their patience while I struggled to find the time to sit my butt down and finally write this!).

What is Loot Crate?
Loot Crate is a monthly subscription box service that gives it's subscribers a regular dose of fantastical geekdom and collectables. Crates usually include 4-6 items that are vauled higher than your monthly cost (the best thing about subscription boxes, as well as the brilliant swag) and surround a theme. I used to subscribe to the classic Loot Crate, a great selection of various geekery, but now they do offer specific subscription services on top of the original, depending on your preference: there is a Wizarding World Crate (Harry Potter) and a Gaming Crate that I have my eye on ...

My Dream Crate - Spirituality/Belief
Spirituality and belief play such an integral and huge part in so many sci-fi, fantasy, and nerd stories and universes, and even if we aren't concious of it ourselves, our devotion to our interests and fandoms serves as a spiritual or belief-system (in a loose sense) for ourselves. And so this is the theme I've built my Dream Crate around.
GameTee Father T-Shirt - Star Wars is a story drenched in spirituality: the battle between the Jedi and the Sith, and the pull that characters feel between each side of the force can be seen in every character we come across. Darth Vader is the character that really personifies this struggle throughout the films, and I couldn't bring together a crate that didn't include something from GameTee, one of mine and Ben's favourite nerdy shops.
Destination Yarn
Destination Yarn Winterfell Speckled Yarn - it wouldn't be a geeky knitter crate if it didn't have some knitting supplies! This beautiful speckled merino and cashmere sock yarn is inspired by the weirwood of Winterfell, the natural 'chapel' of the Old Gods of Westeros in A Song of Ice and Fire / Game of Thrones.
Redbubble The Journey Begins art print - we all love a good art print for our gaming corners, and Journey is a beautiful game about spirituality and, for one interpretation at least, a journey through life to death in the most breathtaking scenes possible.

SGVinyl Harry Potter Dementors Decal - the role of the Patronus in the Harry Potter universe is to act as a barrier of pure happiness and stregnth against the evil and sadness personified in the Dementors, which takes a significant amount of belief in yourself and is, in my opinion, one of the more important morals in Harry Potter.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman - it would be fantastic if a monthly geek subscription box was to bring out a terrific novel, particularly if this was linked to a newly released film or TV series. American Gods is now available as a TV show (I can't wait to start watching!) and the book is a phenomenal interpretation of religion/s in a modern society.
Forbidden Planet

Final Fantasy X action figure - no crate would be complete without a true collector's item, and an action figure from Final Fantasy X would be splendid. In this game belief systems are challenged and Yuna performs beautiful 'sendings' and summons that are steeped in spiritual practice.

So, would you subscribe to my Dream Crate?

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

knitting down the rabbit hole

Hello, hello, hello lovely readers - it's been a little bit of time since we last exchanged words across the vast world wide web. How have you been? I've been busy, mildly stressed, but pretty cheerful all things considered. Oh heck, and hope you had a lovely Easter!

Now that the pleasantries are over, let's get down to knitted tax - namely a little project I knitted up a while ago, and can now share with you. This Alice in Wonderland set is available with Knit Now issue 73 as a free kit, and it's so adorable.

The pattern is designed by Sachiyo Ishii, who's knits are the absolute most darling things I have ever seen! As soon as I saw the pictures of the set, I couldn't knit them fast enough. Alice in Wonderland is such a wonderful book to read, and such a well-known, iconic story filled with imagination and, well let's face it, weirdness. But awesome weirdness!!

There is a lot of shaping in the patterns, which makes it a lot easier when stuffing to get the lovely little details such as the cheeks and eyes. Sachiyo gives a lot of instruction when it comes to stuffing and shaping, and also sewing in the eyes. The eyes are French knots on both Alice and the White Rabbit, nice and simple but they work. The Cheshire cat is simply embroidered on, and the construction of the cat is my favourite; he has such a big butt and cute pointy legs!

The watch is pretty nifty too, and has a small cardboard circle to help keep its shape. I really enjoyed knitting these guys, and love to look at them sat at my desk at work! 

Next on the knitting list (that is already 7 strong) will be the next stage of the #EnchantedCottageKAL - colourwork blocks! These are in the same issue as Alice and friends, and I think I will cast on while watching Vikings and eating Easter chocolate - mm mm mmmmm.

Oh, and make sure to watch out for some reveals from the #biggeekyswap - I can't wait to share the Poison Ivy that I crocheted.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

#EnchantedCottagKAL 2

The next issue of Knit Now came out this week, which means it's part 2 of the #EnchantedCottagKAL! I told you all about the beginning of the knit along last month, which will result in a lovely finished blanket (I am sure - technically a mystery KAL after all). There are 3 options of blanket to choose from, and I am knitting the Hyacinth Blanket - which of the three is the more advanced of the blankets. I am knitting it in West Yorkshire Spinners Illustrious which is luuuuush! Last month we launched with the galaxy spiral square, which was so, so much fun to knit - I could only hope this month would be just as good.

Oh yes, yes it was! You see above that I have knit the knots & berries square. This month is all about cables, and let me tell you these cables were pleasantly challenging! If you look at one of the cables and count the 3 strands, in order to have the middle strand visually snaking up and down in between the other two, 2 cable needles were required, and after bringing one to the front and the other to the back, you have to knit, then swap them round, and then knit the cable needles in an order that I can't even remember it was that interestingly complex. Don't let that put you off though, it was well worth it and I've never done cabling where more than one cable needle was needed. 

I think you will also agree that the finished effect is lovely. The berries are made by increasing 5 stitches into one, turning, and reducing them again before carrying on. My only issue is with the finish - it is very difficult to block this square into, well, a square. I had this difficulty with the galaxy spiral as well, so I am curious how my finished blanket will turn out if all of my squares are just not quite squares ... but it will be consistent! And if I can nail my seaming technique I am certain that they will gently shape each other into squares. 

So, two months in, 4 squares done - so far I am enjoying this :) I have seen the next 2 squares to look forward to (the perks of the job, eh?) and they look just as fab so I am very much looking for to continuing this! In the meantime, I fancy starting my own take on Lucy's Attic24 granny stripe blanket, so that will be today's job, and tonight's while Ben and his friend watch Wrestlemania (anyone else into that? No? Ah well!) 

If you are taking part, make sure to say hi and let me know which blanket you are knitting! If you fancy joining in, you can buy issue 71 and 72 (parts 1 and 2) from 

Oh, and before I go, HOW is it April already?! The year is gushing past But the sun is out right now so I am very pleased with this :)

Sunday, 19 March 2017

KNITCRATE march box

I am much more on the ball this month with collecting my missing post and getting my butt in gear to write the blog, so funnily enough, even though last week I introduced you to the February KNITCRATE, I am rather pleased to be able to introduce to the March crate in much better time!

I just this morning picked up the crate from the post office, and I am absolutely over the moon with the contents!! There is a beautiful note card explaining the inspiration behind the theme, colours and choices for this month's KNITCRATE (main box) which are the earthy, deep tones of root vegetables and left over winter stores. Even though we are all moving into spring, we just can't seem to shake off the end of winter, so this box has put a lovely warm, rich spin on that idea.

The 2 skeins included in this month's crate are a delectable selection from Knit One, Crochet Too. The fingering weight yarn is called Crock-O-Dye and is so soft against the skin - 65% superwash wool, 20% nylon and 15% silk, oh man oh man the silk mmmMMMmmmmmm. With 380m per skein, I am looking forward to a lot of knitting with this beautiful wool. The downloadable pattern(s) - generous enough for two this month! - are for shawls, one beginner and one intermediate. I have never knit a shawl before but I have wanted to for so long, and now I can and I can't wait to get started tonight! The colours are a lot darker and deeper than my usual choice, but when I mentioned this to Ben he said that these two will make such a beautiful shawl, and I know he is right and it will be a beautiful, grown-up shawl (if I can say that) - perfect for when this spring weather inevitably turns cold and wet ... oh, look outside it  is now! :)

I was expecting another bath bomb or similar extra goody along with the yarn, so I was pretty excited when I found that it was in fact these adorable sheep stitch markers! They are so cute and lovely!

The box comes with a list of the value of the items in the crate and I am once again very impressed at the quality of the contents, not only for it'd value but for the quality, value, and how excited I am when I first open it to find out what goodies I have to play with!

Don't forget, if you click this link and enter code Geek20 you can save an exclusive 20% off the first month of your subscription! The March box is still open until the end of this month! And if you want to find out a little bit more about this awesome monthly subscription, read my first post about it where I go into a little more detail. 

And now, I am off to start my first ever shawl with the gorgeous wool! Happy Sunday :)

Sunday, 12 March 2017

have you heard of KNITCRATE?

Not too long ago, I was approached by the lovely team at KNITCRATE who asked if I would be interested in working with them to review their monthly subscription box and to offer my reader's a special discount if they were to sign up for the box. My response? Oh, yes yes please!

I am a huge fan of subscription boxes, and I used to be a subscriber to Lootcrate (one for nerds, very good, highly recommended) and for a long time I've wanted to treat myself to another subscription, in particular to knitting if I could manage it. So it was with utter joy that I accepted a subscription to KNITCRATE, and my first box arrived and ... well, just journey with me on the unveiling of the February box.

I couldn't quite believe the quality of the contents of the main box - or Knitcrate - which came in a fabulously bright red parcel (I would have taken a picture, but I was just too darn excited!). Inside were 3 delicious skeins of Mrs. Crosby Loves to Play yarn - Steamer Trunk is 100% superwash Merino wool, and I have THREE skeins of the stuff! It's soft, soft, and did I mention, so so soft? The colours are deep, bold, and the green (named Garden House) is subtly toned throughout as well, so I can't wait to see what it looks like knitted up. It's a worsted/aran weight yarn so it should knit up nice and quick as well - bonus!

And that's not all; a luxury, lavender bath bomb is included as well as a download code for a pattern from Ravelry, which for February is a bag. I myself don't knit bags, but I have the pattern JIC and I might find some other use for this b-e-a-utiful yarn. 
For around $45 I think this is incredible value for money, particularly if - like me - you wouldn't normally treat yourself to such lovely yarn as this so to have it send to your door is a treat. I also plan to thoroughly enjoy my bath bomb tonight with a glass of wine (and watching Yu-Gi-Oh I think ...) 
If you want to sign up to Knitcrate then simply click this link, and if you enter code Geek20 and you will receive 20% off your first month! 
But if this isn't for you, and socks are more your thing (as they are fast becoming mine) then how about Knitcrate Socks?

For the cheaper rate of around $30 you receive a generous a skein of wool perfect for knitting, you guessed it, socks! February saw Mrs. Crosby make an appearance again with Train Case, a generous 100g (425 yards) skein of 55% superwash Merino wool, 15% nylon and 30% viscose which will become a fabulous pair of socks just as soon as I finish the pair of socks currently on my needles. Enchanted Garden is the name of the colourway, which has gorgeous flecks of green and blue running through the cream wool.

As with the main crate, the box (very nice) arrived with a download code for a pattern for a pair of socks (which I will definitely be using) and a bath bomb (to be saved for next Sunday I think!) 

Again if you want to sign up to Knitcrate Socks, or maybe you fancy a crochet crate, a beginner's crate, or something else, you will find it on their website!! Just click this link and make sure to enter my special code Geek20 to receive 20% off your first month! But hurry, you have until 31st March to sign up for March's box.

**Big thanks to KNITCRATE who very kindly sent me these 2 boxes for review. All thoughts, opinions, and gushings of wool-related excitement are my own. Sign up is open on KNITCRATE now for the March box, not February.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

#EnchantedCottageKAL 1

Since taking part in the Spice of Life CAL last year, I've really been looking forward to starting up another yarn-along, and in particular I wanted to try out a knit along (KAL) seeing as I had already tried the crochet scene. So I was delighted when we started a KAL in the latest issue of Knit Now

Issue 71 sees the introduction of the Enchanted Cottage KAL (mmmm that name!) and over the course of the next year, each issue  will reveal a new square that will result in a scrumptious blanket at the end of the project. This is a mystery KAL which makes it all the more exciting, as I have no idea what the finished blanket will look like.

I say each issue has a new square - actually there are 3, because there are 3 blankets to choose from! Acorn Cottage is great for beginners, and is knit in WYS Aire Valley DK. Blackberry Cottage is perfect for knitters with a little more experience under their belt, knitted with WYS Bluefaced Leicester DK. And finally, the blanket I am working on, is Hyacinth Cottage, one for the creative/experienced knitter who would like a little bit of a challenge with each square. This is knitted with WYS Illustrious, a scrumptions 70% Falkland Wool 30% British Alpaca wool that is b-e-a-utiful to knit with! It's so smooth and SOO SOFT - I had so much fun knitting the first square!

The first square is the galaxy spiral, an absolutely fascinating design that is knit in the round from the centre out. The knit and purl ridges make this wonderful texture that is so mesmerising to look at - seriously, when I finished I couldn't stop looking at it, and every time someone came over this week I just had to thrust the square under their nose! The pattern recommends beginning with DPNs and then moving onto circular needles, but I found it just as easy to start on the circular's with the magic loop method. It was so so much fun to knit, simple repetition but with the challenge of increasing steadily, yarn overs, and also a 3 stitch increase that I rather enjoyed once I read the pattern correctly.

I loved it so much, that I decide to knit a second.

That's the beauty of this KAL - 1 square a month will give you a blanket, and 2 squares a month will give you a bigger blanket, score! I've set myself up for knitting 2 a month, as I love to snuggle in as large a blanket as possible. That, and my tension is very tight, so where finished squares ought to finish measuring 20cm across, mine are closer to 15cm. But that won't matter as long as I keep it consistent (probably should knit a tension square - learn from my error people!).

This is going to be a nice pile of squares soon, and after that, a blanket yes yes!

Are you joining in the KAL? You can find out some more information on the #EnchantedCottageKAL on the Knit Now website, and of course make sure you grab issue 71 from your local shop or online so you can get started! I'm going to be updating my progress on the blog, and I will aim to have my squares up not long after the next instalment is available so you will have plenty of time to knit along with me! 

PS - sign up for the #biggeekyswap is still open! Sign up closes next weekend, so hurry if you want to join in! Find out more about the swap here, and click the button on the right to sign up! See you there!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

free knitting patterns - teddy bear hats

As promised, I am delighted to bring you two free knitting patterns for a set of teddy bear hats, the first designed for a beginner knitter, and the second for knitters with a little more confidence! Again I would love to say a quick thank you to La Petite Epicerie who so wonderfully provided the yarn for these patterns and the below step by step tutorial! You will soon be able to see the tutorials over on their website too, but in the meantime you can always buy the yarn you need from them -  links in the patterns below.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

rainbow wensleydales

If the name of this post confused you, my sincere apologies but I couldn't really think of anything catchier. Hopefully though it was so incredibly intriguing you just couldn't wait to dive in and find out what's going on! 

I just wanted to give you a quick introduction to my latest cast on project (full disclosure, I can't stop casting things on and I have so many things to finish, waaaa love it) which is a beautiful Rainbow Wrap as featured in Knit Now magazine, issue 70. 

This happens to be the Best of British wool issue, and is jam-packed with beautiful projects knit in exclusively British sourced and spun wool. Looking back on my projects, you would see me as the kind of gal who will happily knit with acrylic and not blink an eye, but since working at a knitting magazine and being exposed to some absolutely beautiful wools and yarns, there is no going back. Which brings me to what I am talking about today - the scrumptious wool that the patten recommends. 

Available to buy from Home Farm Wensleydales, this pure wool Wensleydale and Bluefaced Leicester worsted double knitting yarn, from owner Jane's flock here on the farm in the Cotswolds, is luxurious, soft, and so beautifully coloured. This is one of those wools and suppliers that you just wouldn't come across through the 'usual' channels. I feel very privilaged that I work where I do, with such a knowledgeble editor that teaches me these great things, and also shares with everyone! As mentioned before, the pattern is in issue 70 of Knit Now (you can buy online here) and the wool is beautiful.

I was lucky enough to try on the sample at work, and I immediately fell in love, so I emailed Jane to let her know to expect an order.

It's going to be a loooong slog, this knit (only knit and purls) but it looks so splendid finished that it will be worth it - just check the Ravelry image

The wool is beautiful to knit with, soft and warm and very supple on the needles. The colours are bright, without being artificial, and blend so naturally together. I just wanted to make sure that this wool and pattern existed, and if you wanted to knit along with me that would be a lot of fun! I know this is going to take me a heck of a long time to knit, but I can't wait. It costs a little more than I usually (try not to) spend on wool, but believe me when I say that this is absolutely worth every penny. With the added bonus of supporting a small business too, boom.

So there you have it, a spot of yarny goodness to round off a weekend. Oh, and don't forget - sign up is still OPEN for the #biggeekyswap - just click the colourful button on the right and get your name down if you are interested!