Wednesday, 2 May 2018

May Yarn Along and April Finished Projects

Yesterday was May 1st, the traditional first day of summer here in Ireland and instead of sunshine we had a day that wouldn't have been out of place in November!
To counteract the dreariness I picked out some bright yarn for some socks for my sister.

I've just started reading Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate. It's a novel that weaves fiction with the true story of the scandal surrounding Georgia Tann and her actions in kidnapping and selling of poor children to wealthy families. I have to say that it has been one of the few books I've read so far this year that has had me hooked from the first page.
I'm reading James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl to Mr A and Miss S at bedtime. Mr A is particularly enjoying it and keeps asking for "10 more pages" although I do have to insist we stop for the night when I see Miss S beginning to drift off. I'm sure he'd be happy to continue on himself if I let him. I think we areally averaging around 5 or 6 (shortish) chapters each night. I adored Roald Dahl books as a child and I kept all the copies I received, including this one, so I'm happy to see that love in the next generation.
A few other books I read in the last month were;

Wonder by R.J. Palacio - the story of a boy, August Pullman,  who was born with a facial abnormality. Up until he was 10 years old he was home schooled but now faces the prospect of middle school and trying to fit in and be accepted by his peers. This was a very frank but uplifting story and we'll worth a read.

The Buddha in the Attic by Julia Otsuka - this was a book I impulsively picked up from the quick picks table at my library and I'm glad I did! It's based on the many non-English Japanese women who travelled to the US between WW1 and WW2 to meet their future husbands for the first time. There is no plot in the usual sense of a set of characters going through a range of situations etc. Instead it's told from the point of view of a number of these girls, although none are really fully described as continuing characters throughout the book. They and their situation are often described fleetingly but still with incredible detail, bringing them to life. If you can get a copy do!

Still Me by JoJo Moyes - this is the latest installment in Louisa Clarke books following on from Me Before You and Still Me. Of the three I found this one the most difficult to get in to, probably because it's the most removed from both the events and setting of the first book. But about half way through it started to draw me in and I did enjoy it.

So what have been up to on the crafting front? Nothing too exciting really. I decided to tackle my pile of fabric scraps and made some hair bows. Some were on alligator slides....

...and a few on elastics. 

I also made some bookmarks and embellished them with some paper flowers and diamantΓ©.

All were super simple and quick to sew. Some have found homes but any I have left I'll keep for any craft fair I do around Christmas and I'll make a few more before then too.

My sister also asked me to make some magic wands for the dress up box. They are completely stuffed with toy stuffing so no danger of anyone getting a bump on the head being turned into a frog πŸ˜‰. I've lost count how many of these I've made now but I'm sure there will be more in my future πŸ˜„.

On the knitting front I finished a couple of pairs of mittens, a headband and a spa clothtest knit.

Pattern: made up by me
Size: small
Yarn: Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino in colourway 54 (pink) and 608 (pale lilac)
Yarn amounts: 65 m / 26 g  (pink) and 40 m / 16 g (pale lilac)

Pattern: Maize by Tin Can knits
Size: child
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool Ease in colourway 107 (blue heather)
Yarn amounts: 59 m / 28 g

Pattern: Another Flower Headband by Susan B. Anderson
Size: adult
Yarn: Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino in colourway 54 (pink) and 608 (pale lilac)
Rico Essentials Merino DK in colourway 1 (roses)
I held one strand of the pink baby cashmerino and one strand of the Rico together for the headband. Then the pale lilac baby cashmerino was held double for the flower.
Yarn amounts: Baby Cashmerino 45 m / 18 g  (pink) and 15 m / 6 g (pale lilac), Rico Essential DK, 69 m / 29 g

Pattern : Wibbly wobbly spa cloth by Carol E Herman
Yarn: Cascade ultra Pima Fine in 3772 Cornflower
Yarn amount: 89 m / 36 g

Well that's it! I was a bit more productive than I thought!

Miss S has her chance to look around the primary school she is going to in September this afternoon. It's the same one Mr A goes to so she's been in and out of there a few times. She's more than ready to go. Academically she'll be fine but she can be very shy (despite how stubborn and loud she can be) so I'm hoping she'll manage that side of things OK too. Fingers crossed .....

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 πŸ˜€. 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. πŸ˜€

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 πŸ˜„.

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