Sunday, 17 September 2017

hello, stranger

We'll get right to it - I've been a stranger these past couple of months and I'm sorry, shall we start a new for autumn, the best season in the year? Run up to Christmas, such such excuses to stay inside and knit with hot chocolate and wine, mm mm mmmmmm (not necessarily at the same time). 
It's been, as ever, busy busy busy in work and in life! Work's going fabulously - we've had a run of short print deadlines, and the run will continue for another couple of months, which when in the thick of it, is incredibly stressful, but I find I am thriving on the challenge and loving every second, even when I feel like I can't possibly finish everything. But I can and I do and I love it - it feels so good to say I love my job, I and hope you all can say the same, or will manage to one day soon if you are looking. I will also have a sock knitting pattern (my first sock pattern!!) publishing in Knit Now before Christmas too, how terrifically exciting I can't wait! Don't worry, I will let you know as soon as it is available.

Not only has work been hectic, but we have big big plans in the pipeline too - we're finally getting married! We've set the date for next year, booked many a things that needed to be booked, the honeymoon deposit is down - It. Is. HAPPENING and I couldn't be more excited! I have plans to hand-make a lot of the bits for the wedding, from decorations to, wait for it, the dress itself! I'm going to sew my own dress and I can't wait to share some updates with you when that ball starts to pick up speed, but don't worry it won't all be sewing - I plan to knit a wedding shawl (be prepared, it WILL include Wonder Woman) and crochet many a bits and pieces for centre pieces, because let's face it, it wouldn't be my wedding if it wasn't at least partially covered in yarn and video games. 

That's my quick update-how-do-you-do-its-been-too-long-lets-catch-up - how about you? What have you been up to since I've been gone? In between all this of course, much knitting has occurred, including a hoodie for Ben, sewing is also taking place such as for London MCM Comic Con next month, and crochet aplenty - including the little chap I want to show you today as a little welcome back to the geeky knitter. 

Longhoh is a Pocket Monster from Sabrina Somer's new book Pocket Monsters which, let's face it, might be heavily influenced by a certain video game/mobile game/TV show/Japanese cult phenomenon, but I don't want to pry! Longnoh's pattern is featured in issue 19 of Crochet Now as well, which is the other magazine I work on (and love!) and as soon as I saw this pattern for the magazine I knew I had to make him!. 
A bit like a baby Charizard, Longnoh is designed to be made with a red 4-ply cotton and small hook, so he should be no more than 10cm high and fit, literally, in your pocket. I however am partial to a larger toy so I upped my yarn choice to an aran wool-acrylic blend and 5mm hook. I used Hayfield Bonus Aran with Wool in shade Peppermint - mmmmm, I have enough to make a jumper that I haven't started yet, but having seen how gorgeous the colour looks worked up I know I will cast on as soon as I finish Ben's jumper.

The pattern was easy to follow and he is so full of character and looks so adorable with his big felt eyes, I'm rather tempted to make more from the book and have a little collection. I think he is so cute, and he now sits with me at work.

Gosh, I do always forget what a pleasure it really is to bash out a blog post and say hello to you lovely people! Rest assured I will do my best to keep you informed more regularly, if nothing more than I am waaayyy behind on the #EnchantedCottageKAL and we are nearing the end of it, and I want that blanket gosh-darnit! Tell me what you've been up to since I've been gone, and let's keep in better touch!

Thursday, 27 July 2017

#EnchantedCottagKAL Part 5

In case you hadn't noticed, I am a touch behind on my knit-along squares, or at least I am a little behind in keeping the blog up-to-date. In fairness to me, today I am bringing you part 5 in the #enchantedcottagekal and part 6 has only just gone on sale this time last week, but of course at work I've see sneak-peeks as far as part 9 so I feeeel behind, but perhaps we can agree to disagree.
Anyway! Here we are at part 5 - lace knitting. Man, I have to tell you the Hyacinth square was a difficult one, undoubtedly feeling more so after I cruised along last month with the crochet whirligig. At some points in this pattern, you had to p3togtbl (what an acronym) - purl 3 together through the back loop - after already yarning over and p3tog and doing a handstand...I did have to rip back my first attempt, and it took several pattern repeats before you could even see the pattern. But, as usual, once it took shape it looked rather good. Perhaps not my favourite square to knit (nothing on the galaxy spiral still!) now that I have it finished, I really have come to like it.

I'm pretty eager to start part 6 as soon as I can / finish one of the 5 other things I'm knitting - it is mosaic knitting, which I have never tried, and it will finally get some much needed pink into the rather earthy looking blanket so far :)

Sunday, 25 June 2017

a handmade wedding outfit

No beating about the bush with this blog post title - I made a wedding outfit for my pals' wedding this month, and I'm finally getting round to bragging, ba boom. Oh, mildy unrelated brag too, I am know deputy editor on Knit Now and Crochet Now, and Ben and I are looking for wedding venues, so I'm quite pleased with June 2017 thus far! Back to the craft-and-grind though.

This year, I've actually become rather obssessed with dressmaking and I am really developing a love for it. I might even go so far as to put it on par with knitting, if only because as soon as I finish a dress I'm ready to start another; I actually finished one last night, planning to cut out the next one later. Back on track - I had this crazy idea that I really wanted to make a dress for the wedding, and then, well, here we are!

I opted for a dress pattern from an older issue of Love Sewing magazine - another title I worked on as editorial assistant (until recently!) which is just my idea of perfect, loose with no sleeves and an elasticated waist which allows more room for eating, drinking and dancing at events. After making a practice dress with some cheaper cotton (I found out I needed to shorten the bodice for a less-bulky top) I set about making the dress proper with some beautiful John Kaldor satin from Minerva Crafts. Satin is difficult to sew with (I am still very much a beginner, though I can lean towards advanced) and there are plenty of errors in the dress, but I love it SEW (#punalert) much! It was such a lovely fit, so comfy all day long, and plenty of people commented on it.

image taken on a phone, not our best but we look gooooooooood - shoes from New Look if interested

Once I decided that a dress was to be made, in true why-not-take-on-as-much-crafting-as-possible fashion (every, damn, Christmas) I wanted to knit the jacket to go with the dress! For my birthday just gone, Ben bought me all the Rowan Softyak I needed to knit a jacket that I had my eye on for a couple of years actually, but just didn't have the excuse to spend that much. A birthday is definitely a good enough excuse.

Softyak, a yak hair (I know, right?!) and cotton blend, is a chainette yarn that is an absolute dream to knit with, and so so comfy and soft to wear! If I were to knit the jacket again I would possible go up one size as I like my cardigans to have more positive ease. But it is definitely the smartest thing I've ever knitted, and I suppose for a wedding this is the aim. The design of the jacket was beautiful in it's simple design that really allowed the yarn to shine in the knitting. I've not knitted drop-sleeves before but they are something I will knit again: lovely and easy to insert, not too much shaping, great for knitting while watching TV or walking to work.

The dress was completed 2 nights before the event, and the jacket? Ahem - in the taxi on the way (yes, I did have a crochet hook and pair of snips in my bag all day). But I loved the result and process so much, that I will be making another dress (different style), and aiming to complete another cardigan (that I started 2 years ago ...) for another wedding at the end of July - quite excited again!

And I do plan to show off the rest of my dresses on the blog soon, but as you read earlier it's been an excellently busy and exciting month! Here's to more of the same, and I really hope you are having a lovely summer guys :)

Sunday, 11 June 2017

#EnchantedCottageKAL 4

Carrying on with the #enchantedcottagkal with Knit Now, this month's square is, in actual fact, a crochet square - right up my street! A few knitters might feel a little perturbed that one square in the knit along is a crochet square, but I say poopoo - this is THE excuse you needed to learn to crochet (get to YouTube!) or, if you really don't fancy it, each issue actually comes with 3 square patterns (as you may recall, I am knitting the Hyacinth Cottage blanket, aka the challenging one - girl, is it good!) so participants can whizz back an issue or 2 and choose any other square that takes their fancy.

Continuing with the Hyacinth Cottage, my crochet square for this month's instalment is called the Whirligig - man, I do love a great pattern name.

This square was a bit of a challenge. In order to achieve the 3-colour spiral you actually work the 3 colours on each round until the spiral is complete, keeping them all attached to the work as you go. When I first read this instruction I was a little apprehensive, but I must give kudos to Debbie Tomkies (the blanket designer), as her instructions were clear and straightforward enough that I was able to achieve the deisred effect first time. I wouldn't suggest this pattern for a complete beginner, but if you are comfortable working in the round and changing colours, this is a great square to stretch your budding crochet skills.

The real beauty in this design was the time it took to make. I crochet SO MUCH faster than I knit, and I easily had the second square completed in just over half an hour, once I had a grasp on the instructions! I migh go so far as to say I was a little sad to have finished so quickly, but I had a warm glow of accomplishment so I'm not too upset really. And considering how long the colourwork squares took me last month, it was refreshing to switch it up a bit.

Considering we are 4 designs in now, and that 2 of these have used the dark green as the main colour, I would like to see some pink squares come up in the KAL soon, to add a pop of colour to the blanket. I do love the rustic, traditional-but-with-a-modern-slant, colour scheme however, but I am itching to spend more time with the bright pink that shines so beautifully in the WYS Illustrious wool.

Make sure to keep up with how I am getting on with the knit along by following the blog, and also search the hashtag #enchantedcottageKAL to see everyone else's progress!

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 :)