Sunday, 27 January 2013

My first pair of hand knitted socks

Back in December I went on a sock knitting workshop, I thought I might be able to get a pair knitted for Tom's Dad in time to go under the tree. How wrong I was! I did however finish them last week so they were only a month late :-s

I was surprised by how easy I found them, I do have written instructions and I'm not sure I could do it without them just yet but I will certainly be making more.

Here is the proud new owner of the socks doing his best dance to "that's neat, that's neat, that's neat, that's neat, I really love those tiger feet."

Saturday, 26 January 2013

A beautiful quilt

How amazing is this little quilt. Tom's Auntie Janet made one for him and his two brothers when they were little and this is Tom's. To save arguments over what belonged to who each was given a colour by their Mum and Tom's colour was red so not only has the quilt got Tom's name on it is also framed in his colour. It now hangs on my desk chair looking lovely but it is currently keeping me warm while I crochet and watch Greys Anatomy. It's something I hope to do soon so it's a great little reminder for me.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Choccie bikkies

Sat watching two episodes of the bake off in a row made us both crave something sweet. I therefore dug out this favourite tried and tested recipe. It's so easy and quick and makes delicious biscuits.

4oz (110g) Butter or Marg
2oz (55g) Caster sugar
5oz (140g) Plain flour
1 tablespoon cocoa

Cream together the butter and sugar and then add the flour and cocoa (I threw it all in together by mistake but it still worked)
Roll into small balls and flatten. Place on a baking sheet a space well apart.
Bake at 160* for about 20 mins.

I decorated mine to cover up the cracks, it's not necessary.


Sunday, 20 January 2013

Kev and the Snow Cat

As previously mentioned My sister got me a lovely book called Super Cute Crochet by Nicki Trench for Christmas.  The present was a project bag for me and contained all the supplies to make a lovely little Koala.  I did chuckle when I opened the present which was a pack to make Rheanne a gift back but there was a lot of thought put into it and I love it.  The bag contained everything I would need to complete one of the patterns and Rheanne knows that keeping busy is a good therapy for me so it could not have been better.  Besides, it's nice to say thank you for thoughtful gifts so I got the hook out and started making.  I must confess that I did not use the yarn provided by Rheanne because it is just too good for a little Koala.

I started with the head which once it had eyes on looked very creepy indeed!

Once I had made the body I sewed the face on the head and attached it to said body.

I found that my finger was the perfect size to crochet the arms around so started on the first one.

I added the first arm and he looked very odd so I made the ears before starting the second arm.

After a second arm and two legs Kev was alive and I am pretty pleased with him!

Here is Kev sat comfortably under his tree with a smile on his face.  I'm not so sure he was smiling when he got bundled up in brown paper to travel to London but he has arrived safely and is not being looked after by Rheanne who loves him.

As you all know there has been snow recently, I have taken to hiding inside with my knitting but after watching our neighbour make a snowman (with a bottom) in his garden to impress his dinner guests we just had to go out.  Tom couldn't help due to his Arthritis but he supervised and then our friends arrived to assist.  The plan was to make a simple snow cat but we all know that plans develop and we ended up with a gigantic snow statue in the front garden.

 The snow cat.

  A little Edith on a big Snow Cat.

Proud owners.

I thought it was brilliant that the dye from my gloves coloured the snow pink and used this to colour the ears but little did I realise it was also colouring my hands!

All in all a lot of fun had but I won't be rushing out again, it took ages to warm up!

Friday, 18 January 2013

English Baccalaureate = no creativity taught in schools

Right peeps, trying to rally the troops for this one. Some of you may not know that I spent 4yrs at University training to be a Primary Teacher, whilst teaching was not for me I do still take an interest (every now and then) in what is happening with the curriculum and our schools. This evening I learned of the Governments plans to abolish GCSE's and replace them with the English Baccalaureate which offers no creative subjects. This made me rather cross so I wrote to my local MP. I have included my letter below and I urge you all to please sign the petition which you can access here -

Dear Lillian Greenwood

I have recently read of the Governments plans to introduce the English Baccalaureate as a replacement for GCSE's. Having attended a school where the International Baccalaureate was offered as an alternative to A-Levels I can appreciate the benefits of the Baccalaureate however I do have concerns about making it compulsory.

The lack of creative studies offered in the English Baccalaureate is a major concern. Whilst studying for my degree in Studies in Primary Education I chose to write my dissertation on the benefits of the arts within education. This study took me to a number of schools around Nottingham and the benefits were instantly visible. One particular moment that sticks with me was a drama lesson with a group of 6 year olds living in St Ann's. They were told that the focus of the session was for them to act out a scenario about something that worries them. The way in which the children expressed their concerns about social issues affecting the area was incredible and it was clear that the opportunity to express these concerns was of a great benefit to them. Without this opportunity there was a fear held by myself and staff that the children would not learn the vital skills needed to express themselves and would eventually therefore take to using their fists as so many members of society do nowadays.

To remove less practical subjects from the curriculum would lead to further deterioration of confidence in those less academic. There has been a recent drive to offer apprenticeships and more practical topics within schools and colleges but this proposition contradicts these suggestions massively. I know of a number of older teenagers who struggled at school but are now thriving in apprenticeships and finding a huge amount of confidence through this process. Given something to focus on and enjoy has provided these young people with a determination they have not before known which is steering them away from fecklessness and towards responsibility.

On a more personal note, I suffer greatly with anxiety. I ease this daily through various creative activities that I have learnt throughout my own education and followed on privately. I fear that to remove these opportunities from the curriculum would prevent people from learning to work through their emotions in a constructive and positive way.

As it stands at the moment, the EBacc places significant pressure on schools to focus on just five ‘pillars’ of study: maths, English, sciences, languages (including Ancient Greek and Latin) and humanities (defined as just history and geography). These are important, but the omission of creative subjects threatens a broad and balanced education (the International Baccalaureate for example includes a sixth creative pillar). Please could you raise these concerns with the Secretary of State for Education and - if the EBacc reforms do go ahead - secure the place of creative industry relevant subjects in a sixth pillar of study such as ‘art and design, dance, drama, design technology, film studies and music.’ This is what the Government’s own Henley Review recommended.

Yours sincerely,
Lynsey Hall

Broomstick Crochet

Tom is watching a film and I am typically not paying any attention and browsing Ravelry. I wanted to make myself a big triangular shawl...amongst about 20 million other things so got searching and discovered broomstick crochet. I absolutely love the look of it and I am surprised by how easy it appears to create, if not a little fiddly. I think it might be something to try and I imagine in a fine yarn it will look beautiful. I might have a go at making a shawl or large scarf in a ball of cream Haze I have to take on a cruise we are going on in May. My list of projects is becoming slightly ridiculous but I am in no rush to get things done so I can jump around between things. Here are a few examples of broomstick crochet I pinched from google.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Christmas present from my Nanna

My Nanna kindly got us a project for Christmas which is something I would never thought of myself. She got us a latch hook kit. My grandad once started one and really enjoyed it and Nanna then finished it so she thought it could be something that Tom and I can work on together. I thought that after working on my cardigan sleeve for a while today I would try it asa little rest from knitting. It is worryingly addictive and I am afraid I will become "hooked" and never do anything else.

The process is actually very easy. The kit comes with a gridded material for the backing and a large number of pre cut pieces of yarn. These then need hooking and attaching to the backing to make a rug. I have included some photos but due to being on my iPad I cannot add them one at a time and describe them...most annoying thing ever! Hope they make sense.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

A very wooly blog (although it's mostly acrylic)

I had such a blooming good evening yesterday that I feel I need to share it with you all.

It started with a trip to Knit Nottingham to have a look at the sale and to collect Eleanor to take her to Knit group.  I knew that the Cygnet DK was reduced to £1 a ball so I decided that now was the time to purchase the yarn needed for a blanket I have planned to make for ages.  In the summer I won 3 balls of sale yarn and got some beautiful turquoise to make a throw for the lounge but it is still in a bag with its labels on.  3 balls would never be enough so after scouring ravelry for patterns and finding that there are no yarn amounts I purchased 10 balls in beige and chocolate to make a Granny stripe blanket as featured by Lucy at Attic 24.  The beige and brown look beautiful with the turquoise and who can complain at making a whole throw for just £10!  Plus it got me another stamp on my loyalty card.

I did leave the house saying I would buy nothing other than blanket yarn but when I got there and saw the Wicked DK was also in the sale I just couldn't resist buying some in the grey shade to make myself something.  I had a vague idea about a plain crochet top but when I got home and looked on my bookshelf the answer was staring me in the face, a simple dress on the cover of the Geek Chic book I received with my last craft swap.  With a dark grey trim and pocket I think it will look beautiful.

After knocking a few things over on my way out of the door of the shop we got in the car and made our way into town for my first ever trip to Knit in Notts at Lee Rosy's Tea where I ordered a lovely cup of Spicy Chai.  I was a little nervous before hand but what a lovely bunch of people, I will most certainly be going again, it was fabulous!  When Lee Rosy's closed we headed over the road to BrewDog, I love a beer and the Punk IPA was just delicious.

All in all a fabulous and very exciting evening, I cannot wait to get started on my blanket and top but I have a number of other things that I must finish first.  Big smile on my face today!!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

A jewellery box made by my Daddy

I just love this jewellery box, I have had it since I was little but it's actually older than me. My Dad worked for Fairline boats in his younger days and around 1976 did some "homework" which involved making this box. Homework was apparently the name for things you would make at work to take home, not the other way around. He probably should have been making a boat.

Anyway, I found it in my parents loft before they moved and decided I wanted to keep it. It was however covered in Ed the duck transfers and stickers from my fun fax, remember them? After a few questions about how to get it back to its former glory I purchased some clear shoe polish. This was perfect to make the wood look healthy again after I sanded the top layer and attached Ed the ducks off. I have to say I am pleased to have it back in my life, it is currently being used as a book end with nothing inside it but I am sure before long it will have a use.

Well done Daddy.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

My own little crafty haven.

How excited am I! I went to collect my desk today and from the moment I got in I have been beavering away finding all sorts of things to put in it and adorn it with. I have been waiting for this for so long it seems and after a lot of hard work I have my haven and a place to put all my beautiful belongings.

I just love my collection of yarn beehives and as they are too small for regular balls of yarn I probably won't use them but they are fab and i have wanted some for so long. They have therefore become decorations and they look brill. I also love the fact I can finally put my gorgeous peg board on the wall and use it.

Generally my excitement is making me ramble but really I just love the fact that all my beautiful belongings have a home rather than being dotted all over the place. I predict many happy hours spent in this corner of the spare room.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

What a week!

I have been a busy bee this week and generally speaking it's been good! A quick round up includes a trip to look at a car and realising we were 1.5 miles away from Tom's cousins pub so we popped in for a bite to eat, a number of meetings at work, a sock, a desk, a giggle filled trip to Knit Nottingham, some crochet and some hippo eggs.

On the work front it has finally been agreed that it would be wrong for the force to expect me to go back into my old role because of the stress it was causing. This means I am being placed on a redeployment register and I have 90 days to attempt to find an alternative. If there is nothing, I could risk being unemployed after the 90 days but as I have no intention of going back anyway it would be silly not to take this opportunity. Something temporary might come up in the mean time which would be great. All in all it's a fantastic result and one I am very pleased with. Just need to find a job but knowing I don't have to go back to the one that makes me ill is such a feeling of relief!

I have finished my first ever knitted sock, I have won a desk on eBay which I will collect tomorrow and after friends asking what they could bring for dinner I suggested Hippo eggs, they relabelled mini eggs and they tasted so much better as Hippo eggs.

I took a quick trip to Knit Nottingham to get some sock advice and whilst there Eleanor told me a rather amusing story about a horse, a rider and a false leg. Giggles a plenty so do ask if you see her.

My crafting this week has been very much this and that. I have been working on the sleeve of my cardigan but knowing I now have until Feb 24th I am taking it a bit slower so I have treated myself to some crochet. I have been working on the squares in my art of crochet magazine. Whilst the yarn is only acrylic and some of the squares are not the most attractive I am learning some new skills. I have made a ribbed square and the next one I am to take on has bobble stitch in it.

A few more things to blog about but this is a little round up of a few odds and ends.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Yummy homemade curry

I thought I would share a little recipe with you all. It's one of my favourites and it all started when my friend Paula and I decided we wanted a curry for tea. Paula is an avid traveller and has spent a lot of time in Asia so she took charge. Since then I have forgotten bits, added bits and now perfected the recipe...I think. It's more of a fragrant curry than a spicy one but Tom and I both love it and its actually rather healthy.

I will put what I have used tonight and this has fed us both generously with a large portion left over, probably best to say it serves four.

6 Chicken thighs (skinned, boned and chopped into pieces)
2 onions
2 garlic cloves
4 tomatoes
8 mushrooms
2 limes (zest and juice)
Large bunch of fresh coriander
Curry powder (I use mild madras but make it to your taste)

Soften the garlic and onions in some oil then add the chicken to cook.
Add the mushrooms, tomatoes and a small amount of water to prevent sticking.
Once the tomatoes have cooked down add curry powder to your taste, you might also need to add a little more water.
Let this cook through then add the lime zest and juice along with two thirds of the coriander.
Simmer for a moment until the sauce has thickened and add the rest of the coriander just before serving.

We have it with rice but enjoy with whatever you like. It's so quick and easy but delicious to eat. I have included a photo but I must apologise about it being in a tub as I didn't take a nicely plated one as I ate it to quickly.


Thursday, 3 January 2013

New Year, craft room creation and a quick lovely knit.

I'm not sure if it has been noticed recently but my blogs have been lacking some pzazz, I think my lack of personal motivation and the hectic Christmas time has made me rush things.  I also had a very bad few weeks before Christmas with my anxiety.  That's getting boring now so I shall keep it sweet, things are happening over the next few weeks and I am hoping that it will lead onto getting back to work!!  I have decided to start 2013 on a positive foot and start making things happen.

I have been sorting out the spare bedroom to make room for a desk for me to craft at, the hot glue gun and craft knives won't mix well with the lovely oak dining table for long!!  I am heading to an auction on Saturday to try to win one that looks just perfect.  This has been very exciting as the spare room has been a bit of a jumble for a while now and it's providing a good opportunity to clear it out.  It also means i can put my crafts away as they are currently littered around the house.

On a non-crafting topic, Tom got us a dishwasher!!!  I cannot begin to explain how much I love it, washing up was a major problem and a chore that really bothered me (more than it should have) and now I have that stress completely eliminated, it also means the worktops remain clear and hopefully my nail polish will last longer.  We paid for installation but it turns out that this means they attach one pipe to the another pipe (which we didn't have).  We were hoping they would do the whole lot but I think we were a bit too optimistic so after a trip to B&Q I had to drill a giant hole in the cupboard and plumb it in myself, we have no leaks so I did a pretty good job.  Yay me!!

I have also been knitting away at my cardigan for sweater club and this is coming along brilliantly, I have knitted the back and one and a half front panels, I have until February to do the rest so no worries about getting it done in time.  It's looking very good but I shall save my photo's for one big blog about it.

Today though I had a major urge to knit with chunky wool, I just love the stuff.  I headed to my favourite shop ever and purchased a ball of Cygnet Criss Cross.  It's a nice yarn, it's looks like it is made of lots of thinner pieces of yarn woven into a big thick piece, like this.

I decided I would knit it until I ran out of it and depending on the length it would be a cowl or a scarf, it became a cowl and a rather nice one at that.  I chose the colours to go with a brown coat but there are lots of lovely colour selections.  I think having knitted with it I may now even prefer it to the Supa Dupa Chunky, it's a lot less fluffy.  Anyway, here is a little collage of photo's for you, isn't it lovely!

For Christmas my sister got me some beautiful pure wool Rowan DK (available from other stockists I am sure) in white, grey and black.  She got them with a crochet book to make her a Koala but I can't use such beautiful wool on something like that so I have decided I am going to have a go at working a colour pattern into yet another cowl.  I think it will be made up of hearts and various different wobbly lines...looks better in my head that it does written as a description.

All in all I feel I have my mojo back (a little) and I am determined to start this year on a positive note, I think this is already happening.  Happy New Year to you all.