23 January 2012

Out-Stranding!

The first thing off the needles this year is a rather natty (if I do say so myself) pair of mittens.  I'm particularly pleased with them because they are a wonderfully colourful stranded knitting pair.



Look at that!  Seven (seven!) glorious colours of yarny, tweedy fabulousness.  De-light-ful!

I have a bit of a love hate relationship with Fair-Isle, or stranded, knitting.  I love how it looks, I love the patterns, I love the warmth of it and you all know I love using more than one colour.  Then, I come to knit it myself and I hate how it turns out, I hate how it bunches up, I hate how it hangs loose, I hate that it doesn't look as lovely and wonderful as I had imagined - pooh!

But there's something about it that just keeps drawing me back...



So when I saw this post from Little Cotton Rabbits my eyes nearly popped out of my head.  Oh me, oh my, I nearly swooned!  I knew I had to try them.  I had to at least have a shot at getting something that gorgeous in my life.  It was time to tackle my old nemesis - stranding knitting.

So, armed with my birthday money and no imagination of my own I went off a brought the exact yarn and the exact colours specified in the pattern and set about making a pair for me.

Oh, how slowly I knit, how carefully I followed the pattern and gradually, bit by little bit, the mitts started to emerge from my needles.



And look at it.  No bunching, no big loose stitches, just beautiful, even, wonderful, stranded flowers!

Words fail me.  I was beginning to think I would never me able to get the hang of this and I can tell you, it kind of left me feeling a bit miffed.  But now, finally, as Professor Higgins said to Colonel Pickering "I think she's got it!"



I don't know what it was that made the difference this time but I do know that it's been one of the most enjoyable knitting experiences I've ever had.  I've also never gone wrong and had to frog so often in a project but despite that, I really have loved every minute of it. 



I'm so, so happy with the results.  They're colourful and wonderful, I love them.




They even look pretty on the insides too.




And best of all, they really go well with my Japanese Flower Scarf, which I've been wearing constantly lately and loving.  The colours are very similar and they compliment each other well.


The best way to get through a drab, dull winter day?  Wrap yourself in colour!


The Nitty Gritty:
YarnRowan Fine Tweed
Colours: 
360 - Arncliffe (Beige)
367 - Murker (Mid blue)
369 - Bainbridge (Red)
370 - Hubberholme (Dark green)
380 - Nappa (Pale Blue)
381 - Richmond (Pale Green)
383 - Leyburn (Golden yellow)
Pattern: Peerie Flooers by Kate Davies of Needled


S x

18 January 2012

Want to make a Pretty Crafty Home too?

Thank you so much for your fabulous response to my little home-making plans for the year!

I'm so pleased that you like the idea and that many of you have already said you'd like to join me.  I'm so excited!

I have been busy making a start on the huge and arduous house cleaning task.  But also, more pleasurably busy, making plans for this bloggy side of the venture.

I thought it would be nice if we share a bit of bloggy love along the way, so:

  • I'll put a link of those who want to join in on my sidebar, and I'll follow you too.  (If I'm not already)
  • You can grab one of my fabulous 'I'm making a Pretty Crafty Home with Cherry Heart' buttons from the new PCH page, which will link back to me.

Want to join in?
Just follow these simple steps:

1.  Leave a comment on this post to say you want to join in and leave a link to your webpage (Don't have a blog of your own - no problem, you can jump to step 3.)

2.  Grab one of the buttons from here (scroll down a bit) and pop it on your side bar or use it in a post or something. Once I get your comment, I'll come and visit your blog, leave a nice message or two, hope to see my bloggy button and then I'll add your link to my sidebar.

3.  Come and join the 'Pretty Crafty Home' Flickr group, so we can share photos, tips and have a chat!


That's it.  (Well, that and the fact you might want to go and do some things around your house.....!)


Don't worry, by the way, about feeling any obligation by saying here that you'll join.  I'm not demanding any great commitment here, this is just about you achieving what you want to achieve, us all sharing tips and encouraging each other.

If you've already been so wonderful and lovely as to say you'd like to join in (and you have a webpage linked to that comment), you should find your link on my sidebar already.  If you don't see it  I either couldn't find the link, wasn't totally sure if you had decided to join yet or maybe I missed you (sorry!).  Either way, comment on this post and I shall sort it out toot sweet!

I'm going put all on this info on the PCH page too, so all the links and buttons and things are all together!

That's all for now I think, but if you want to know anything else, just ask!

(Oh!  And if there's any problems with the bloggy buttons, do let me know - I had a heck of a struggle with the blighters - but I think I got there in the end...)


S x

15 January 2012

Making a Pretty Crafty Home

I have been thinking for a while now about a project.  A project for this year that we call 2012.  A project, that maybe we could share together?  Let me explain...

Dottie Angel

Ever since I started wandering through Blogland I have admired, wondered, marveled and, I admit it, sometimes envied these immaculate, pretty, white walled, clean and perfect homes that I find everywhere I click.  You know the ones I mean right?  Yvestown's Cath Kidston loving one, Dottie Angel's granny-chic inspired one, Shabby Roses Cottage handpainted one and Posie Gets Cozy's warm and so inviting one.  All stunningly beautiful and utterly inspiring.

Yvestown


I had thought that I was quite pleased and with my home.  We did a lot of work when we first moved here and I've done a lot of decorating in-between.  There are many parts of it that I cherish and adore. But.

What with a 'Little Addition' to the family coming along 6 years ago and my crafting mo-jo coming back with vengeance coinciding with (or even causing!) a lack of enthusiasm for the dreary old housework chores, the house perhaps hasn't had the care and attention it deserves for some time now.  So once I started, at the beginning of last year, to attempt to blog in earnest myself, I soon found what utter dump of a house it is I live in.  OK, so maybe that is an exaggeration but what blogging has thrown into sharp relief is how hard it is to get a decent photo in this place.  You think everything looks fine, until you look through the lens!

Shabby Roses Cottage

I guess it's just that your eyes get used to seeing an ugly cupboard or a pile of junk day after day and you forget about how it looks.  Your eye sees the same thing it saw yesterday and thinks 'Yes, that is usually there.  That is all fine and normal.' but, you look through the lens and suddenly your eye thinks 'Oh my Sainted Aunt!  That mess is going to be in the photo, how dreadful it looks!'  In other words, you suddenly see things from a new and worrying perspective.  This, dear readers of mine, is how my eye is seeing these days and I can tell you, it ain't a very happy eye!

This is where the new project comes in.  I have been thinking, that what with being a bit of a crafty sort, being the sort that has been able to create a pretty thing here and there about the place, really there is no reason why my house should not look gorgeous and wonderful and basically be a delight for to my newly aware eye to feast upon.

I have been prowling my home looking for mess, junk, the tired, the tattered and the torn and I am going to attack it!  I want to tidy the mess and junk, spruce up the tired and tattered, rejuvenate, re-jig and re-invent this messy house into a Pretty and a Crafty Home!

My big project, goal and overall aim for this year is born:




What do you think?  Fancy coming with me on a journey of home improvement through craftiness?

This is what I want to do:

1.  Tidy, tidy, tidy and clean, clean clean!
The first step for me is to get rid of the junk and de-clutter.  It's time to get rid of the stuff I don't want, don't need and can't use or re-use and tidy up everything I'm keeping.  As I'm doing the tidying and de-cluttering I'm going to be giving this house the 'Spring clean' of it's life.

2.  If it has to live here, it should be pretty.
With a tat loving daughter and a husband with no thought for how things look, it's going to be tough to keep new ugliness and junk coming into the house, but I'm going to try hard.  If we do need something new, it should add to the home, not detract!

3.  If I don't like how it looks, and I can change it, I will.
I'm not planning on re-decorating the whole house, this is about finding the bits you don't like and changing them into something you do.

4.  Thrift, re-use and recycling are my watch words.
As it stands the budget for this little project is practically zero, so I'm looking for cheap solutions here! (Although there may be the odd exception, knowing me!)

5.  Crafting is king!
The most important thing thing of all.  This project is all about home improvement through crafting.  If it's home made and it makes me happier about my home then it's part of the project.



Now, this is just what I'm setting out to do.  If you'd like to join me you can define the challenge however you'd like to so it works for you and your home.  The principle is, if you're doing something crafty to improve your home, make it a more pleasurable environment to be in and look at then, it qualifies.  If you can thrift and recycle your way there - so much the better!


My head is buzzing with ideas and I've been prowling around the house with my camera, taking photos of 'trouble spots' to be attacked.  I can't wait to get starting and I'll look forward to sharing this journey with you.  I'll label all my 'Pretty Crafty House' posts, starting with this one with 'PCH' so that they're nice and easy to find in the categories section of the sidebar.

If it looks like there may be interest then maybe we could start a Flickr photo pool or a Ravelry Group or something so we can share ideas and triumphs.  Any suggestions on this front are very welcome.

It's going to be so good.  I hope you're excited too!


S x














10 January 2012

Eventually, a Wrenna

Last but not least, the final Christmas make.  This one was very quick to do but has been a very long time coming into being.

A few years ago, I was given some yarn and a cardigan pattern by some lovely relations of mine.  So very kind of them but unfortunately I didn't have quite enough yarn to make the pattern that came with it.  Well, it wasn't at all difficult to find an alternative pattern but you know how it is, the head gets turned by something else, the latest idea takes over and before you know it, apparently several years have passed and nothing has been done.





Between you and me I probably procrastinated a bit because it's another variegated yarn.  As I said the other day, I just not a big fan of variegated yarns.  Well, they look stunning in a skein or as a hank, but when knitted up I find you often lose all the glorious colours when they get kind of mushed up together in the knit.  Here in this close up you can see the colours, but in the other photos it just kind of gets lost.  But hey, that's just me and my possibly slightly warped opinion. 


The pattern I used was 'Wrenna' from the book, 'French Girl Knits' by Kristeen Griffin-Grimes.  I love this book, it's got lots of lovely knits in it.  Being made with bulky yarn, it's also a lovely quick knit.  Even with all the Christmas goings on I still managed to stitch this up in a week.




Devilishly difficult to get a good photo of this one,  in the end I went outside and managed to catch a little decent light.




To be honest, I don't absolutely love the feel of it.  Although I adore acrylic yarn for many things, this particular acrylic (King Cole Magnum) may well be a fine and dandy yarn but I don't think it was right for this project.  Now it's all done, the finished article feels kind of spongy and strange.

Still, seeing the photos again, I don't mind how it looks on so I think I'll be able get some wear out of it.  The main thing is, although it may be oh so very late, I got there.... eventually!

S x


09 January 2012

Snow Socks

Continuing on from the theme of the last post, my Christmas knitting....

Next up was another make for The Child, she has a fabulous pair of snow boots and needs some lovely warm thick socks to wear when the cold, and possibly even snowy, weather strikes.  I adapted this 'Gusset Heel Basic Sock' pattern from Wendy Johnson's Book, 'Socks from the Toe Up'.  Now, if you consider this is a pattern for a adult's sock in 4ply and I made a child's sock in aran, we're talking some adapting here, but it seemed to work out ok.


They're a bit big, but that was deliberate, I wanted her to be able to wear them over normal socks and also make sure they last the winter and you know what these children are like - they do grow so!

If anyone is interested in the modifications I made to the pattern, or the little heart design I came up with, I was thinking of writing my changes up?  Let me know if that's something you'd like.

(Obviously you'd need the original pattern, or another basic sock pattern to adapt, I couldn't give the whole pattern information out, just my changes!)

One last Christmas make to share with you tomorrow....

S x

07 January 2012

Where it all began

Like many people, I have knitting and crocheting relatives and so I've had little bursts of knitting activity throughout my childhood at various times.  But my serious, grown-up knitting life began on one Christmas day a few years ago and I think that's why the excitement of Christmas always now reminds me of that first excitement of knitting again.

I suppose that's also why December seems to start off a bit of a knitting kick in me.  I actually managed to bash out a few knitting bits in the run up the the festive season and I've got a lot more ideas running round my head at the moment too.  But I thought I'd share them with you what I've done so far.




First up is a hat that I saw in a magazine and fell in love with straight away.  It's 'Have a Ball' and was featured in the January 2012 edition of 'Simply Knitting'.  Now I'm not a big fan of variegated yarns but I have a few in my stash and this one just spoke to me for this project.  I'm also not very good at looking great in hats, most look quite daft on me.  I'm certainly not going to give you a picture, so you'll just have to take my word for it!  Basically, this project was doomed from the start, but for some reason, that didn't put me off.



It was quite an enjoyable knit and I like the way the striping worked out but when I had stitched the last stitch and sewn in the last thread, I tried in on and........ yep, I hated it!


I decided to donate it to my Little One, who is modelling it here.  These infuriating cute children, they look good in anything!

More on my Christmas knitting coming soon...

S x

01 January 2012

So that was 2011...

Here we are on the very first page of 2012.  I do love that fresh start feeling.  The exciting potential of the new crisp, blank, white piece of paper, the unwritten diary pages, the untouched snow or the unbroken yarn ball band, about to be drawn, written, trampled through or ripped into!

I'm very excited to start ripping into this fresh untouched new year, but before I do, I've been collecting my 'best bits' of 2011 to share with.  Looking back, it's been a great crafty, productive year....




... I obviously started it feeling a little blue!


But things soon brightened up!


March was flowery...


And April had a holiday!


May is my favourite month of the year but...


...I think June is my favourite 2011 photo month.


I love those fabrics in July.





And summer holiday sewing paid off in September!


October saw a wedding celebration.



A little more Autumnal colour crept into November.


And December, I just love December!!

What a fabulous way to sum up the year, I love it.  So, what was your favourite month?


S x

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