Tuesday, 3 April 2018

April Yarn Along and March Finished projects

After a March filled with a lot of snow and rain, April is here at last and only that the daffodils are in bloom and there are lambs in field next to us it doesn't look like spring has arrived yet.

I'm currently knitting a pair of striped mittens using some Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. I'm not using a pattern, it's just a take on a standard mitten design. I really should be finished them by now but it has been a busy week with the kids on their Easter break.

I'm reading The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden. It weaves a story around Russian folklore, political intrigue and adventure. I read the first book  The Bear and the Nightingale in January and while I found that to be a bit slow to start before it pulled me in, The Girl in the Tower has me gripped from the start. I'd definitely recommend both books.

I'll give a quick mention to the other books I read last month.

1. And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman. This is a novella that I read in the matter of hours. It is beautifully written story of a family travelling the road that is dementia. If you can lay your hands on this book READ IT!!

2. I Found My Tribe by Ruth Fitzmaurice. Ruth's late husband had Motor Neuron Disease and this book chronicles her life with Simon, 5 children and numerous carers coming through her house every day. Her coping mechanism is to be part of the 'Tragic Wives Club' and throw herself into swimming in the freezing cold waters of the Irish Sea. The book does jump forward and back in time from chapter to chapter which I think some wouldn't enjoy but to me it gave me the impression that it's a true reflection of her character.

3. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. I heard so many great reviews about this book but I was left disappointed. I did like the characters but the book was so slow and to be honest it didn't feel like anything really happened until the last 100 pages!!

On the making front, I think I had a productive month.

 I finished another pair of Harvest Date Fingerless Mitts, this time for my friend J. These ones were knit in Sunshine Yarns Merino Worsted in Crookshanks.

Another friend asked me to knit her a pair of flip top mitts in 'crazy rainbow colours', so I whipped up a pair from odds and ends of fingering weight yarn. The recipient is very happy!

My sewing machine has been busy too. I made Miss S a couple of headbands and  had a few request orders too! Some of these were some 6 and 7 year old girls and some were for a 19 year old! Thanks to the stretchy elastic at the back, one size fits all!

I also tried my hand at making a few keyrings which have all been bought and I'm planning on making a few more.

I'm trying to use up some stash so I made a couple of infinity scarfs from some tartan brushed cotton flannel. Very cozy, I just need to find some owners for them.

I hope you have a wonderful April, filled with good books and fun crafting!

Monday, 5 March 2018

March yarn along and February makes

A new month and a new opportunity to share with you what I've read and made over the last month! Ireland is just thawing out after a snow storm last week. It meant 3 days off school for the kids and work for himself. It also meant little or no reading or crafting for me.  I seemed to have spent most of my time baking and dealing with wet socks! It was the first proper snow that the kids have seen so they couldn't get enough of it. While I like looking at the snow and walking in he snow I don't really like playing in the snow so I was very grateful himself was off and able to get out with the kids when they wanted some extra company or to move out of our garden and over to the green across from our house.

At the moment I'm reading Origin by Dan Brown. I'm not sure about this. I've found his last few books have all become a bit same-y and yet I still read them and complained that they were same-y 😁. This time Dan Brown and Robert Langdon have changed location to Spain rather than Italy. And he's weaving codes, symbolism, science, artificial intelligence and art into the plot.
The one thing that is really annoying is Dan Brown's over explain of certain things that is uncalled for and if that explanation wasn't there it would make very little impact on the story, apart from making the book about 20 % shorter!
I'll give you an example, which shouldn't be a spoiler. On page 236, Langdon is looking at a painting and Dan Brown writes -
"This celebrated masterpiece wasone of the signature works by French Postimpressionist Paul Gauguin", if he'd left it at that it would've been fine. Instead he continues by adding "- a groundbreaking painter who epitomised the Symbolist movement of the late 1800s and helped pave the way for modern art", interesting but not really necessary. That's one of the  less annoying examples and I'm sure they won't bug many readers as much higher as it bugs me! I feel like he didn't do it as much in his previous books, I think Inferno was the first of his books that I really noticed it. Overall it's not a bad read.

Last month I also read The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne. A powerful book but a slow burn for me. I was about 60 or 70% through it before it really gripped me. But even though when I initially finished it I wasn't sure if I liked it or not it has still stayed with me.

Up next was Wild by Cheryl Strayed. This book gripped me from the very beginning and I both wanted to read it as fast as possible but also slowly so I could postpone finishing it. Definitely recommend it!

So onto the makes!
I haven't been hat crafty this month. Life was just a bit crazy for me the last 2 weeks.
Last month I showed you some fabric I was using to make some bunting. Well here it is and it's with its new owner now. I'm hoping the birthday boy had a wonderful day!

And I've finished another pair of fingerless mitts and this time I read the pattention correctly and didn't end up having to fudge the thumb gusset increases/position on the right mitten. These were in (or should that be on?) the hands of their new owner just in time for the snow!

Yarn: Garnstudio Drops Alaska in teal (colourway 52)
Yarn amounts: 91 m/ 65 g

 Until next time. Hopefully Spring will have truly hit and I'll have been more productive!

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

February yarn along and January FO's

A new month a new book, or two actually.

First up Mythos by Stephen Fry, a Christmas present from himself. It's a retelling of the Greek myths and legends in Stephen Fry''s unique and humorous style. It's a book that I'll read in bursts between other books but I'm enjoying it.
I'm also reading The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I picked it up on impulse a while ago from my library's free to take book box. A lot of times people (me included) will drop in donations of books to the library. Some get added to the catalogue but others are left in a box for anyone interested, a great idea in my opinion. I'm enjoying it so far although I'm not sure it lives up to all the hype surrounding it.

In my last post I mentioned All the light we cannot see by Anthony Doerr. I really recommend reading this. It is not as sad as you expect it to bed and does show that against all odds there is goodness in the most situations and people. It us a book that lingered with me for days after I finished.

I finished two other books Britt-Marie was Here by Fredrik Backman and The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. Both were slow to start and it took a while for me to get into it but yet I still wanted to find out what happened so overall I quite enjoyed them.

On the crafting front I'm working on Alan Dart's Nativity a request order by my niece's boyfriend's aunt 😀. It's not looking too exciting yet. Today I'm cutting fabric for a Happy Birthday bunting order.

So January FO's. I wasn't overly productive as I spent about 2 weeks sick with a sinus and upper respiratory tract infection.

I finished the pair of Maize fingerless mitts. It's a super quick pattern and an easy straightforward knit.
Yarn: Knit Picks Bare Worsted.
Yarn amounts: 78.5 m/ 39 g
Size: Medium

I finished another pair of fingerless mitts. A cute and straightforward well written pattern although I did end up having to fudge the thumb gusset increases/position on the right mitten because I read the pattern wrong and followed the initial instructions for the left mitten derail placement and really didn't fancy ripping back.

Yarn: Rico Design Essentials Soft Merino Aran in cream (colourway 61)
Yarn amounts: 86 m/ 43 g

I also made up 9 felted wool dryer balls for a few family members. I font have a photo of the finished product but here's one of the first step. I used about 35 g of DROPS Eskimo wrapped into a all and wove I  well the end. These were each tied into an old sock and I ran them through a couple of 60 degree washes before drying them in the tumble dryer. They have many advantages including:
Reducing drying time.
Reducing static cling.
Saving money.
Environmentally friendly.

Mr A had been having some sleep issues the last while, lots of waking during the night. So a few days ago he helped pick out the pattern and fabric for his new Super Sleep buddy. The pattern is from Sew Fantasy Toys. A lot of work and little finicky at times but I think it turned out well. The pattern instructions are detailed clearly step by step which is a great help. The book has some very cute toy patterns from easy to a bit more work like this guy but it is beautifully laid out with clear instructions and full size pattern pieces.

I also sewed a dress and matching hair bows for Miss S. She found some fabric in my stash while Mr A and I were looking threw my fabric stash and asked me to make her a dress. How could I say no?! I just had enough fabric for the dress and used the tiny bit left to make some hair bows. She is delighted.

And the last makes of the month a crown and eye patch for a friend's birthday boy!

 I guess January was a bit more priductive than I originally thought!! We'll see what February brings!

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

The first Yarn Along of 2018

Yarn along is back for 2018!

My first book and project of 2018. I picked up All the light we cannot see by Anthony Doerr (along with a couple of other books) at the library just before Christmas and I finally got around to starting it at the weekend. Set during World War II, the story is told from the point of view of Marie-Laure, a blind French girl and Werner, a German orphan destined to work in the mines but thrown into the notice of Hitler youth and eventually the army. I'm only about a third of the way through but I'm enjoying it so far. 
On my needles is a pair of Maize fingerless mitts, a request made by a friend of my sister. It's a super quick pattern, knit in worsted weight yarn. The pattern is part of Tin Can Knits Simple Collection and  includes sizes from toddler to adult L in both full mittens and fingerless mitts.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

A look back at 2017

So 2017 is coming to an end and we begin a new year. 2017 has been a bit of a roller coaster year for me. In particular the last 6 months were full of ups and downs, mostly downs, but I'm looking forward and hoping that 2018 proves to be much better.
I know I haven't been very active here in the last year but Ginny is starting up the Yarn Along again this year in a new monthly format and I'm going to try participate in that which will mean more regular posts.

So on to some lists!

In 2017 I completed 32 knitting projects. A little down on 2016 but I did loose my knitting mojo for quite a while. These projects included:

1 soaker
14 hats of various sizes
3 headbands 
1 sock key chain 
1 cowl
1 toddler sweater
1 flower in a pot
3 toys
4 shawls
2 pairs of booties
1 pair of socks

I did a bit more sewing this year than previous years including -

1 superhero cape
1 superhero belt
3 superhero masks
1 snow white bow
1 rapunzel wig
1 quilt for Mr A.
3 sets of bunting
8 magic wands
5 lavender heat pads
4 Christmas stockings 
6 sets of reusable makeup wipes
About 100 Christmas tree decorations
20 lavender sachets

I also up cycled single duvet and duvet cover into a toddler bed duvet and duvet cover and a toddler bed comforter. 
These are just the projects I remember but I think there are a few more. 

I've been reading a good bit in the second half of this year and as I'll be joining in on the yarn along in 2018 I thought I'd add a list of some of the books I've read this year. There are ones I've missed, (maybe they just were that interesting?) but thanks to my library account I can see what I've checked out this year and added a few more that I've bought or borrowed.

1. The handmaids tale - Margaret Atwood
3. Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng (a new author for me this year and I've really enjoyed her books).
6. My Grandmother sends her regards and apologies - Fredrik  Backman (another new author for me this year and a new favourite one!)
9. When I'm gone - Emily Bleeker (wow this one made me cry so much!)
20. Everything I never told you - Celeste Ng

My to be read pile is quite long at the moment but I'm looking forward to some good reads in 2018. Did you have any stand outs reads in 2017 that you'd like to recommend?

So here's to 2018, may it be filled with all the best things that life can bring 😊.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Test knits

Tap, tap, hello? Anybody home?
I know it's been months! I started the year off with a plan to at least post some finished knits at the end of each month but we'll that never happened!  Well let's just say that with 3 kids under 6 life tends to get in the way. 😀

Anyway,  to ease myself back in to things I thought I'd share some test knits I've done over the last month or two.

First up Bowline by Tin Can Knits.

Pattern:  Bowline by Tin Can Knits.
Size: 1-2 years
Yarn: Rico Essential Aran Soft Merino in Cinnamon (Colourway 65)
Yarn amount: 150 g/ 300 m

This sweater is knit in the round from the bottom up and uses a textured garter rib feature on the chest and back as well as on the hem and cuffs. The pattern itself offers good value for money as sizes go from 0-6 months up to 4XL. Many testers, myself included, found that they needed to add extra length to the sleeves and body. I knit the 1-2 years size and added an extra inch to the body and sleeve lengths.  Mr C isheading for 2 but I based this on intial chest measurements(and the fact that my kids tend to grow up quicker than out) but there wasn't as much ease in the finished knit as I expected.  Plus he had a massive growth spurt mid knit so the finished sweater just about fit. It's now in the gift pile.

Next up a super quick free pattern from Kelly.

Pattern:  Wee Morrie by Kelly Van Niekerk
Size: nb
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Rialto Dk in Banana (colourway 57)
Yarn amount: 23 g/ 48 m

Super cute and quick baby bonnet. Cast on at the front edge and worked flat until the crown decreases. The I cord ties are added separately. And there is a matching cardy, Wee Ashley, if you want a cute coming home set for a baby in your life. Another one for the random baby knits looking for an owner pile 😄.

I promise to try not to leave it another months until  my next post!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Yarn Along and February Finished Knits

I'm reading To Kill a Mockingbird again. I first read this book at 14 as part of theach English Junior cert curriculum. At the end of first year our English teacher had told us to read it over the summer to be ready for study in September.  I'm fairly sure I was the only one that did! But I've read it nearly every year since. The one on the left is my original copy. It was second hand when I got it over 20 years ago but in excellent shape. But over the years and the many, many times I've read it the cover has come off and taped back on, as have a few pages. But yet I never wanted to replace it. But finally somewhere along the way, the loose binding and pages resulted in therror loss of the last 10 or so pages 😟. That was several years ago now and I haven't replaced it. Something didn't feel right about getting a new copy. But I came across a copy in the local second hand shop and decided to give it a new home. I still won't be getting rid of my old copy though. It may be coming a part and have a few lost pages but it's like an old friend. So it will sit on my shelf along aside it's newer version a day they can get old and crumpled together!

On to the finished knits!

First up a chunky boomerang shawl. I'm not all that fond of working with chunky yarn, even though I love how squishy it is! Maybe I just haven't found any patterns I really like? I had 6 balls of Debbie Bliss Rialto Chunky in my stash for a long time. I spotted Shades of Wicklow on Ravelry a while back and as I'm from Wicklow I just had to give it a go. The first section was fine but we I completed the single coloured textured second section I didn't really like how it looked so I ripped back and replaced it with garter stitch. The pattern requires 100 g/110 m each of 3 colours which I didn't exactly have. I had 100 g of A, 150 g of B and 50 g of C, so while I did keep the colour changes almost the same as the pattern I had to change things around a little to work for what I had and to use up all I had!of course I didn't take notes!

Pattern: modified Shades of Wicklow by Martina Patricia Munroe
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Rialto Chunky
Yarn amounts: 100 g/110 m chocolate (43004), 150 g/165 m rust (43005) and 50 g/55 m of ecru (43003).

Next a quick baby hat for a soon to be born first baby of my husbands coworker. I finished it up last minute so I only had time to take a very quick photo on my phone.

Pattern: Little Harvester by me! (RavelryLove knitting)
Yarn: Bumblebirch Forage in Rosemary
Yarn amounts: 24 g/48 m
Size: 0-6 months

Some matching booties (again dreadful phone photo!).

Pattern: Cozy Toes by me! (RavelryLove knitting)
Yarn: Bumblebirch Forage in Rosemary
Yarn amounts: 26 g/52 m
Size: baby

I did a 2x2 rib on the cuff to match the hat ribbing and as I was stuck for time I crocheted a chain for the tie rather than an I cord. 

My cousin recently had a baby too so more baby knits! I'm working on a fingering weight Ballinakill hat (RavelryLove knitting) and I've already whipped up some booties with a matching mock cable detailing. I'm checking the numbers but I'll hopefully be releasing that pattern this month, in fingerings weight and hopefully dk and aran too.  As she shares the grandmother that inspired the design I thought it was an appropriate design to knit!