17. Stars and Stripes

Hello! How are you? Have you squeezed in some crafting time this week? We are hurtling towards Christmas at breakneck speed it feels! And there are so many things I want to get finished before the end of the year.

The good news is I have managed to get two projects off the needles and hooks this week.

The first are these beautiful stripy Candy Cane socks! This is my 11th finished pair of 2020 and I’m ahead of my goal of 12 pairs for the year so I’m absolutely thrilled! The yarn I used is the West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 Ply in the colourway ‘Candy Cane’ with the contract colour in the same yarn in the colourway ‘Cayenne Pepper’. There is still so much yarn left that I’d like to make myself another pair next year with green heels, toes and cuffs.

I used my tried and trusted pattern ‘Basic Socks’ by Winwick Mum. I absolutely love this pattern for a simple, well-fitted sock and I know I will continue to use it on and on.

However, one of my goals for 2021 is to start trying out different sock patterns and learning new techniques. I’ll talk more about this in future posts but it’s something mulling in the back of my mind at the moment.

The second finished project is a bit different. It’s technically not a finished project yet but I have completed crocheting the stars for the community Christmas display. I managed to make 130. I had grand delusions of making 400 at the beginning of the project but I would have needed to have no other projects on the go in order to accomplish that! And as it turned out, there was no need as lots of other lovely ladies joined in and made lots as well so we have been told we have enough now!

Unfortunately I was unable to get a photo of all the stars together, so I have a few pictures. They were sent off in batches to the amazing lady who is co-ordinating the whole project. Once I had finished, she contacted me to ask if I could block all of the other stars that have been crocheted as they do go quite curly. I was happy to do this so I collected them on Wednesday evening mid dog walk. It’s lovely to see the other creations. I thought I’d share how I block them in case anyone was unsure. I use Dr Beckman Spray Starch. I spray each star and then pin it out on some foam boards that I bought from Amazon a long time ago, then leave them over night to dry and stiffen. Here is a before and after shot so you can see what a difference it makes.

It won’t hold them indefinitely but hopefully it will do the trick. Another option may have been to coat them with watered down PVC and if they do curl up on the display over time, this might be something to think about in the future.

I’m really looking forward to seeing the finished display. I was also responsible for cutting out the lettering so I hope I did it okay! I’ll share the display once it’s up.

My main WIP this week has been the Lola Socks. I cast these on weeks ago and then they sat in my project bag untouched. I was apprehensive about them because I haven’t done any of these techniques before and they required a lot of concentration. However, I’m thrilled that I have learned how to do a godet heel this week! Jooles’ pattern is so well written and she links to video tutorials for the unusual bits which are so easy to follow when you can see someone else doing them. So good in fact, that I took advantage of her 3 for 2 pattern offer and purchased more of her patterns this week!

I’ve cast off the first sock and I have really enjoyed learning new techniques and working on these towards the end of the week.

I have also cast on the cuff of my cheering socks but not enough to show you yet. I haven’t made much progress on my alpine hoop this week either so I’ll save showing it until I have or it will get a bit boring!

I have put a few more rows on my Tidings Shawl, but again, nothing worth showing yet. If only I had more time to knit! Full time jobs just get in the way!

Last weekend, I finally got a bit of nice weather and time to plant my tulip bulbs for next Spring. I absolutely love tulips. They are one of my favourite flowers (although honestly, I do say that about a lot of flowers!). Favourite spring flower, I should say. Although I also love daffodils… and crocus… and hyacinths…

I also baked my christmas cake on Stir Up Sunday (22nd November) as well as some cheaty mini mince pies using shop bought pastry and mince meat. Faye was desperate for a mince pie, so what’s a Mum to do?!

When I sat down to write this post I thought I didn’t really have anything to share but it’s surprising when you start writing it all down how much you can get done in a week.

We’re still in lockdown number 2 here in the UK and unfortunately, we will be in tier 3 when we come out of it on 2nd December. It’s not a huge hardship for me. The only niggly thing I have is that the local post office is closed on Saturdays at the moment which makes it extremely difficult to post out a couple of gifts that I want to get sent. I shall have to try and fit it in on a lunch break in the week but that will mean I’ll need to take Cosmo out for his walk first thing instead of at lunch time. I realise these aren’t huge problems but we have got into a lovely routine now and he’s super snoozy in the morning before I start work which is ideal knitting time! I’m sure one day won’t hurt.

I think that’s about it for this week. Happy crafting! x

16. Winter Woollies

Hello! How are you? This week has gone by in a blur of busyness! I don’t feel like I’ve had any unproductive minutes in the last few days and I’ve fallen into bed each night and been asleep as soon as my head has hit the pillow!

My first finished project this week was the Sonder Shawl. This was a pattern from this book by Helen Stewart. I knit it from Stylecraft Special XL Chunky in the colourway ‘Mushroom’ and used approximately 500g (2 and a half balls) and 8mm needles. It has taken me far longer to knit this than it should have done given the weight of the yarn, but I think I prefer to work with smaller needles and yarn, and actually the chunkier the needles, the longer it takes me to knit!

Faye agreed to model it for me and then decided she’d actually rather like to keep it!

My second finished object this week is my Hearten Cowl. Oh my goodness, I have loved every single stitch of this project. The pattern was the first pattern in this year’s Knitvent by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade. I used a mixture of mini skeins and sock yarn leftovers and I couldn’t be happier with it.

Having cast off two projects, I decided to try and get on with the candy cane socks that I started last month. I have finished one and I’m aiming to make some good progress on the second one over the weekend. I challenged myself to knit these on small circulars as I always use dpns and wanted to branch out a bit more on my techniques and tools. It always feels a little bit uncomfortable when I start knitting but I generally relax into it. I really love this yarn and it’s definitely putting me in a festive mood!

The next two Knitvent patterns were released last Thursday, a cowl and matching hat, but I’ve decided not to cast these on now. I’m not really looking to make another cowl this month so I think I’ll go straight onto this week’s pattern which is a lovely pair of socks! I’ve selected my yarn but I may not cast on straight away until I have the other socks off the needles. I’ll see how I feel.

Last weekend, I made Faye some reuseable makeup pads. I cut out squares of cotton fabric and squares of towelling then zigzag stitched around the edge twice. She has used them and we have washed a few and they seem to have held together nicely. I’m going to make some for myself as well.

I had told myself that I couldn’t start another embroidery or cross stitch project until I’d finished the Disney castle. However, I decided this week that this was ridiculous rule seeing as I wasn’t feeling like working on that and instead was desperate to start a winter themed embroidery. Why does it matter if I finish he Disney cross stitch now or next April?! I love to make seasonal things and I think that is why I’ve stalled on the Disney cross stitch. So, I started! The pattern was in ‘Love Embroidery’ magazine that I have now subscribed to. Unfortunately, I didn’t get very far as I seem to have no functioning hand sewing needles that aren’t cross stitch needles, so I had to order some more. Currently, the post is taking much longer than usual so they haven’t arrived yet. I’m very much looking forward to the stitching when they do.

You can probably guess that I’m really enjoying all the crafts at the moment. There are not enough free hours to make all of the things I want to! I have things stacked up ready to start and loads of ideas of things I’d like to make. It’s a lovely feeling to be so inspired and motivated. Long may it continue!

Until next time… Happy Crafting!

15. Crafting in the Gaps

I have no finished projects to share with you this week although I have done a lot of knitting, some crochet and even some sewing! I feel like every spare moment when I’m not working or doing chores, I have had a project in hand this week!

I’ve mostly been working on the first two Knitvent projects.

I’m about 60% of the way through the Hearten Cowl and truly loving every stitch.

And I’m 20% in on the Tidings Shawl. All Helen’s patterns are in a table and give you percentages so you can see how far through the project you are. I really love this and try to aim for a certain number of rows a day or even 5%.

I’ve also picked up a WIP that I started at the end of August. At the time, the weather warmed up and it was a struggle to knit with as it’s so bulky so I put it to one side. It’s the Sonder shawl, again by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade from her book. This is the 4th pattern I’ve made from this book. I’d like to make all six eventually.

I’m knitting this shawl out of Stylecraft Special XL Super Chunky in the colourway: ‘Mushroom’. Although it should knit up really quickly, it has seemed to take me an age! I think that’s because I’m used to knitting with smaller needles with socks and 4-ply yarn so using these 8mm needles makes me feel so clunky and uncoordinated!

It will be such a cosy shawl to wear on my dog walks when the weather gets colder. I’ve started to wear my Frost at Midnight cowl on my evening walks now as it has definitely cooled down. I also need to knit myself a pair of fingerless mitts. I made everyone else some last year but didn’t get round to making any for myself.

Frost at Midnight Cowl from Knitvent 2018

Rob works alternative shifts each week so when he works his late shift, he takes Cosmo for this lunch time walk which means I get an hour free to eat my lunch and then do what I want. This has started to become my sewing time and I love it! It’s quite amazing what you can get done in 45 minutes. I managed to make Cosmo a new cover for his bed one lunch time because the little monkey had chewed a big hole in the other one! Honestly, anything with a tag on is like sparkle to a magpie!

The other projects I’m currently working on are gifts so I can’t share them with you. Here is a little peek at the prep pile…

In the local community craft group I’m part of, we have turned our attentions to Christmas now and are planning a big display. For this, I’m currently crocheting as many little stars as I can using this pattern by Attic24. It’s such a simple pattern that after I’d made one, I didn’t need to look again. Any spare 5 minutes, I make another one. Any phone calls I take are on loud speaker so my hands are free to crochet a few more! We have a deadline of 1st December to finish all of the bits. I’m also in charge of cutting out the main letters in sparkly felt so I’m hoping to get that done this weekend so I’ll be able to share my progress with you next week. It’s really exciting! I love a shared project!

I’ve really found comfort in my knitting this week. It has kept me going. On Saturday, we had a call to say someone had found Ginny’s remains on their front garden. It was so upsetting. She was a wonderful rabbit and we’ll all miss her so much. It’s been a tough week for Faye, especially.

On Sunday, I made an apple crumble to use up the rest of the cooking apples. I took the crumble recipe from a magazine supplement that said to use soft brown sugar. Unfortunately, this created a paste with the butter rather than breadcrumbs so it didn’t turn out as ‘crumbly’ as I would have liked, although the oats and nuts helped to break it up a bit, and it did taste delicious, which is the main thing!

I hope you’ve managed to squeeze in as much craft time as possible this week.

Happy crafting! xx

14. Finishing WIPs and Knitvent Fun

It’s been an unsettling week, not least with the news of a November lockdown in the UK, but our rabbit, Ginny, has gone missing. We believe she has escaped through a small hole in the fence after Faye left the door to her run open on Sunday afternoon (oh, the poor love feels so bad). We have been carrying out a search and have lots of people involved helping us. She has been sighted once in the street behind our house so I just hope she can find her way back to us if we don’t manage to get to her first. I’m sure you can imagine, this week has been rather upsetting.

In crafty news, I have managed to finish my ‘Leaky Cauldron’ socks using the beautiful yarn from Biffsugar Yarns and my modified Winwick Mum Basic Sock pattern. I was a bit more adventurous and adding a purl panel down the front of the socks for a change. This is my 10th finished pair this year and I’m still on track to complete my goal of 12 pairs this year. In fact, I’m wondering if I might sneak in an extra pair or two if I can.

I have another finished project! I was hoping to get this completed at the end of last week but I ran out of yarn so I had to order some more. It arrived earlier this week and I crocheted as fast as I could as I really wanted to start using this blanket.

I crocheted my Cath Kidston-inspired Granny Square Blanket in Stylecraft Special DK in the following colours using a 3.5mm hook:

  • White
  • Lipstick
  • Soft Peach
  • Fondant
  • Cypress
  • Buttermilk
  • Storm Blue

This has been on the hook since February, so it feels like a big achievement to have finished it. I was inspired by my Cath Kidston ironing board cover for the colours.

My favourite WIP to work on this week has been the Hearten Cowl which is the first Knitvent pattern of 2020. I’m in love with the colours I have chosen. I have minis from FeltFusion, Junction Ten on Etsy and Mr and Mrs Rabbit Yarns, then the rest is from stash.

It is such a comforting pattern and has been my TV knitting in the evenings this week. Candles lit, a nice hot cup of tea and an episode of Game of Thrones (Rob and I have started a re-watch). Cosy autumn loveliness.

My minis from Mr and Mrs Rabbit Yarns

I’ve snipped the last of the dahlias from the garden this week. This variety are cream with a pale purple edge. They are so gorgeous. It’s been my best year for dahlias but I definitely need to build some sort of structure for them to go through next year as some of them snapped in the high winds and others had such big flowers, they drooped into the soil!

Last Saturday, it was Halloween and I made us spooky waffles for breakfast. i just added a little green food colouring and some chocolate chips to the mixture and added some googly eyes. Everyone found it really funny!

Faye and I had fun making some cupcakes with Halloween themed fondant toppers.

Earlier this week, I took all of the Halloween decorations down and had a really good clean downstairs before putting all the autumn decorations back up.

I also made some shortbread biscuits this week and started reading a new book ‘The Giver of Stars’ by Jojo Moyes. I’m only a cople of chapters in but enjoying it so far. I have read most of Jojo Moyes’ other books and have enjoyed them all, so my expectations are high!

I haven’t managed to get any sewing done this week as a lot of my free time has been spent bunny searching! I’m hoping to find some time this weekend to start a new sewing project but we’ll see!

I’m also looking forward to casting on the next Knitvent project: the Tidings Shawl. I have been stash diving and selected my yarns. The pattern calls for worsted weight yarn but I don’t have any and really want to use stash for as many of these projects as I can, so I decided to use double knit yarn. As one of the colours requires more than 100g, I had a choice of my main colour being a dusky pink or a navy blue. Naturally, I’m drawn to the pink, however, I knit the Bide shawl last year in a dusky pink so I went for the navy.

My yarns are:

  • Stylecraft Bellissima double knitting in shade 3931 ‘Double Denim’ x 2 100g balls
  • Stylecraft Bambino double knitting in shade 7117 ‘Sage’ x 1 100g ball
  • Stylecraft Batik double knitting in shade 1916 ‘Rose’ x 1 50g ball

Happy crafting! Xx