Monday, 29 December 2008

Stashbusting (kind of!)

I bought this gorgeous Aran weight hand-dyed wool from the very talented Angels & Elephants back in November. I've got a couple of her other aran wools as well (which are destined for other people), but when I saw this one, I knew it was for ME! Problem was, I had to find the right pattern.......I wanted a beret or something slouchy, with a funky stitch.

I really liked the stitch that Gina House used for her Amanda hat, but I wanted it to be more like Wendy Bernard's Le Slouch.......hmmm, what was I going to do? Well, after much procrastinating, knitting, undoing, re-casting on, I have come up with this - I give you the 'Sister of Amanda Beret'!

It's not as slouchy as I would have liked (partly because I got scared I wouldn't have enough wool, so started my decreases a little earlier than I should have), but I am pretty happy with it - and I just love the stitches and the way the colours all come out so beautifully. And even better, hubby likes it - a lot!! :-)

I still have a skein each of Angels' Zennor and Tintagel aran wools but I also have my eye on this sock yarn, which if I'm successful, will be crocheted into some wrist warmers..........keep your fingers crossed!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Last minute pressies

Have just finished crocheting these lovely snuggly slippers for my sister - they're so warm, I might have to make some for myself!

I used two skeins of Debbie Bliss Soho and a 6.5mm hook, using this pattern - was really easy and quick - just up my street!
I saw this on Paige / Ladybird's blog a while back, and thought I'd have a go

The entries in bold are the ones I've already managed to do:

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band school
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland /world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch - crochet!
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables - beans when I was a child
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you're not ill - sshh! don't tell the boss!
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon - and I never will!
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run - does rounders count? :-)
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language - Dutch (didn't get too far though!)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelos David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp - Natzweiler-Struthof in Alsace
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter - over the Grand Canyon
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy - yes, I still have my teddy!
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone - my little toe (very painful!)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone's life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous - Prince Andrew
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day

Not bad when I look back over this list - especially as some of them I am NEVER likely to do (such as kill an animal and prepare it for eating!!)

Christmas cardigan

At last, it's finished! I started making this last Christmas, and was originally making the 18month size. Then I got distracted by other projects (and life in general!) and only picked it back up again in the late summer. By then, the little one had grown somewhat, so I undid all the previous work (a whole piece!) and re-started it in the 2-year old size. All the pieces were finished and blocked by late September, but I only got around to starting the sewing up about a month ago - and finally finished it on Sunday night! Really please with how it came out - the variegated yarn has knitted up beautifully, with subtle striping and it's still large enough for her to grow into a little.

Pattern was from Phildar's Layette collection #974 - Madame la Marquise (quite appropriate). I didn't add the hood as per the original pattern (she's got enough hooded tops). As a result, I only used 5 of the 6 balls of wool (Lambswool 35) so I have enough left over for a hat - hmmmm, which one should I choose?

Next on the list for the little one is this gorgeous cardigan - my first attempt at short row knitting (should be interesting!) I'm doing it in the original colour as I think it will look particularly fetching on her (and will make a change from red!)

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Santa baby...

I'm a very chuffed Mummy tonight - have finally finished Little Miss A's wraparound cardigan! To be honest, the pieces were all done and ironed back in October, but I only got around to stitching it up about 3 weeks ago.....I really love how it's come out - and the fact that there is still some room for her to grow into it. I can see this becoming a firm favourite - and even better, she can wear it to the nursery Xmas party tomorrow!
Here's the cardie in all it's glory - don't you love the stripey-ness?

And another, with her modelling her other newly-acquired accessory....! Apologies for the 'baggy trouser' look - she's learnt how to undo her belt :-)

Saturday, 20 December 2008

5 days to go!

Well, we're in the final straight - five days to go till the Big Man in Red comes down the metaphorical chimney - thank goodness Little Miss A is still too small to start fretting about how Santa will deliver her presents when we don't have a fireplace :-)

I think I'm pretty much sorted - 95% of the presents are wrapped, we're getting the tree this morning (when I can get Mr A out of bed - he had his office Christmas party last night - enough said!).

On the good news front, yesterday was my last day at work for two weeks (yippee!), and I sold my first hat on my Folksy shop as well!!! Will be taking it down to the Post Office in a short while and keeping my fingers crossed the buyer gets it in time for Christmas!

This is the one that was sold

Cute no?

I have also decided that it's time I kept my scrapping / card-making projects separate from my knitting creations, so I have set up a second blog just for the hats and stuff. If you're interested you can find it here: Tash's Knitterings

I managed to make two cards this week - one for a colleague who was leaving us to go and live in Belgium and another for my boss who had a baby girl last week (over 4kg - my eyes water just at the thought!)

I'm hoping to get some scrapping done over the next two weeks - but that will depend on how well Little Miss A cooperates! We've been absolutely deluged in pressies for her (her godfather alone has given her three!) but we have decided she won't get them all on Xmas Day (she'll only get bored) - instead, we will keep them going through the fortnight......hopefully that will help to keep the tantrums at bay - oh yes, they've started!!!

I wish you all a wonderful, happy and peaceful Christmas - catch you in the New Year!!

Friday, 19 December 2008

What's a girl to do?

When she has 9 balls of Rowan Big Wool (admittedly in a rather lovely shade of cherry red) and 2 balls of Rowan Chunky Print? These were originally destined for a jumper with a large, loose roll-neck, but it never happened (despite knitting both the front and back!).

So, in what t'other half considers my mad quest to make as many hats and things as possible in a short space of time, here's what I came up with:

first, a knitted toddler pompom beret, using the Big Wool

Don't think Teddy was too impressed though!

I then used most of the two skeins of Chunky Print to knit this super slouchy beret, using Crazy Aunt Purl's easy knit beret

Huge thanks to my colleague Rebecca for agreeing to model it in the freezing cold!

I then made a much-needed iPod cover with the remainder of the Chunky Print and a Vineyard beret with two balls of the Big Wool - can't show pictures of these as they are destined for delivery by Santa!!!

This still left me with SIX balls of the Big Wool - was I never going to use it all up?? After a little thought, I decided to go hell for leather and make a felted bucket bag. I used a 11.5mm crochet hook and just kinda made it up as I went's the bag and strap before it was felted (I also made an i-cord for the drawstring)

and here it is after one cycle in the washing machine at 90 degrees (eeek!)

I'm really, really pleased with how it came out, given that I didn't know how well the wool would felt. I didn't measure the beast before it was felted, but the finished bag is 29cm across the base, and 27cm high - a perfect size! In the end, I decided not to put the strap on, it would have made it look too bulky....

So, that's it - no more Big Wool!!!! :-)

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Every cloud has a silver lining.....

A little catch-up to let you know how things went at the famous school fair last Saturday. In one word: badly. I made a total of £ say that I was a bit depressed on Saturday night would be an understatement. My colleague (who had originally asked me to come along) felt so guilty, poor thing. It wasn't her fault, and if I could hold of the main organiser, I would give her a large piece of my mind for devoting a huge amount of space in the main hall to refreshments, and sticking the traders in a badly signposted side room.....

But enough wingeing, because it is amazing how things can turn around from one day to the next. I gave myself a good talking to on Saturday night, and then spent a few hours on Sunday morning researching 'proper' craft fairs (I realised that school fairs just weren't the right kind of event). I've found (and signed up for) a day-long craft fair in Chingford on 31st January. This gives me time to make a few more hats (and some bags), plus Valentines cards. I'm feeling much more optimistic - let's just hope people aren't feeling too skint after Christmas!!

And then, to make things even better, on Monday a colleague of mine bought EIGHTY Christmas cards off me. Yes, I said EIGHTY!!!! I think he's slightly mad, and possibly has more money than sense, but I wasn't going to stop him.....

So, I guess that means I can go shopping for something luscious. I've found a Cuttlebug machine on ebay for 99p - it's missing the handle, but I have emailed Provocraft and they have kindly agreed to send me a replacement. Now, that is what I call a bargain - provided no-one else spots it!

After playing around with wool and needles/hooks so much lately, I thought it was time I got back to playing with paper. Two of our friends have had their first babies recently, so these are the cards that will go with their pressies - the little boy is getting a baby set from Bonnie Baby (check it out if you fancy something special for a little one - their stuff is just too too gorgeous) and the little girl is getting the hat that I finished off at the weekend (all my own design I might add!)

Now I can start concentrating on Christmas - the decorations will go up this weekend, and my sister's annual Christmas party is on Saturday night. Then I guess I'll have to think about writing cards........ho hum!

Friday, 5 December 2008

Perfect Christmas

Now, I'm not doing Journal Your Christmas (might think about it next year) but having read all the journalling by those who are doing it, I wanted to just record some musings about my perfect Christmas Day.

For me, it's all about family: Mum, Dad, little sis and BIL, hubby. This year will be Little Miss A's second Christmas, and it seems to me that having a child around at Christmas automatically brings back the magic. You make more of an effort so that they have the same wonderful memories you had from your childhood Christmases.

Our family Christmas has followed a similar pattern for many years now: stockings are opened over breakfast while still dressed in pyjamas, and listening to the Christmas Service from Kings College on the radio. Then everyone goes off to get dressed (always trying to find something vaguely festive, even if it's only a red jumper or red tights!). We used to go for a long walk, but that has disappeared in recent years, partly due to the fact that we are waking up later!!

Once everyone is gathered together again, Dad gets out the champagne and Mum sorts out the nibbles (there's always some smoked salmon in there!) and we start opening the presents piled under the tree. This is quite a drawn-out process as only one present can be opened at one time.........! I love making sure that my presents are as perfectly wrapped as possible, and I always try to have a coordinated look with ribbons and tags. The tags themselves often carry mysterious clues as to what the present is - most of which usually only make sense when the present has been opened!

Once all the pressies have been unwrapped (and Mum has made her annual comment about there being far too many, and ordering us to cut back next year - get real Mum!!!) we sit down for dinner. I can't remember the last time we had turkey - over the years, we've had venison, goose, a beef joint, you name it. We have all the traditional veggies (including Brussels sprouts for Mr A - he's the only one who really likes them!). The crowning glory is, as always, Mum's Christmas pudding (usually made the previous year and kept in a sealed earthenware bowl). We usually finish about 6-7pm, at which time we gather around the box and watch some festive-themed film or such.

All in all, a lovely relaxed day, with lots of laughter, giggles and cuddles and 'qualtity family time' (I hate that term, but it is appropriate in this case!). This year, we will be holding the festivities at my sister's house, so the stockings won't be opened while we're in our pyjamas (and there will only be one stocking - for Little Miss A). Mum and Dad will be coming over from Brussels on the 23rd, and my poor sister and her hubby will be working right up to Christmas Eve (urgh!). Little Miss A has a very cute little outfit from Monsoon (thank you Auntie Emmy!) and will be getting a ludicrously large pile of pressies - but then she will be the star of the day, so that's all that matters!

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

The one about lots of hats & felty things

You will remember that I agreed to take a stall at the Christmas fair being organised by a colleague of mine.

Well, preparations are almost complete (well, they better be, the fair is on Saturday!). I have 70+ Christmas cards, about 30+ other cards, and these little goodies:

- Post-it note covers (some of these will be given as presents, but I'm not saying which ones or that will spoil the surprise!)

A selection of baby, child and adult hats and berets, either knitted and crocheted. Mr A thinks I've gone quite insane, as these have all been made in the last 3 weeks (primarily on the bus, I have to admit!)

And last, but not least, these rather cute (even if I say so myself) tree decorations made from various bits of felt, sequins and embroidery thread. Yes, this is still a work in progress - my only real goal for today (apart from labelling and packing everything up!). I won't be too sad if these don't sell, as I like them so much I actually want to keep them all.....but that's not the point!

I also have to say a HUGE thank you to the marvelous Ali who has put together a box of her cards for me to sell and which are in the post as we speak - and she doesn't want payment! Will have to think of something extra special for her as a thank you.

So please keep all your fingers crossed for me this weekend, enough so that I make enough money to buy all the new Crate Paper collections that I have been drooling over for the last few weeks!!!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Birthday time!

I took Little Miss A to her first birthday party on Saturday - an interesting experience for me, as I've never really seen how she interacts with other children before. My friend's little boy turned two, so there were quite a few noisy little boys there, and my little one was a bit intimidated to say the least. She stayed very close to me for the first hour or so, and was very, very quiet, which is very unusual for her. Once she figured out that they were more interested in running up and down the hallway however, she felt brave enough to venture out and play with all the toys - and I think she had a good time in the end.

Oh, almost forgot, this was the card I made for the birthday boy - yes, I have finally got my hands on some Thickers and the pale blue ones came in very useful!!!

Monday, 1 December 2008

The Countdown has Begun!

Yippee! It's now officially the start of probably my favourite time of the year - Christmas! Lots of things to do and get done before the Big Day, but thanks to my beloved Bing Crosby (and other festive CDs), it should go tunefully at least.....although maybe not when I'm singing along :-)

And to make sure I am a very happy bunny each day until then, just look what I got from my fabby sister:

Yep, oodles and doodles of scrummy goodness from Hotel Chocolat! Even better, Mr A has said that they are all for me and Little Miss A. As I think she's still too young for regular doses of chocolate, that means they are ALL for MMMMEEEEEE!!!!!


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