Saturday, 29 December 2012

Book Review: Hanging Hearts by Rachael Rowe

Rachael Rowe's 'Hanging Hearts' is a great introduction to sewing and making hearts to hang as decorations around your home. Rachael studied in the next city from where I live, at the University of the West of England in Bristol, and graduated with a First Class BA (Hons) in Fashion Design.

It contains ten pages of instructions at the beginning of the book to get you started with things like basic techniques and materials and equipment.

The projects vary from very basic heart sewing with no embellishments to printing photos onto fabric, so it's an excellent first sewing book for a beginner. One of the projects would make a great keepsake for someone you want to remember. It features a photo of your loved one printed out and sewn onto the heart which is very sweet and a lovely idea.

The hearts are made from very pretty fabrics in the book and the photographs will inspire you as they are beautiful.

There are twenty projects in the book in total and they include machine sewing and hand sewing. The templates are printed full size (without the need for a photocopier) at the back of the book, with a diagram showing the four main stitches used in the book, running stitch, chain stitch, backstitch and blanket stitch. As you can see from my photos the step-by-step instructions contain clear well-lit photos so you can see how to do the project as well as read, which is great for those who are more visual learners than text-based learners like me : )

'Hanging Hearts' is available for £7.99 from Search Press here.

While you're on their website, check out their 'hurt books' sections with savings of 50% off due to damaged covers. The interior pages are undamaged. Or check out their sale section, also with 50% off.

Thanks to Search Press for sending me this book to review.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Happy Holidays and have a great New Year!

I won't be blogging for a while so I thought I would post this video which contains a remix of a song from 'Holiday Inn' to say Happy Holidays! Enjoy!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Sunshine blankets for the elderly

This month's 'Simply Knitting' magazine led me to this website where a lady called Sue collects 15 cm crocheted or knitted granny squares to give to residential homes for the elderly after crocheting them together into 'Sunshine' blankets.
There is no deadline as it's an ongoing project so you could just crochet a granny square whenever you're on the sofa in front of the TV and you want something simple to do. There's going to be plenty of kids films and trashy TV for you to crochet in front of in the next week or so!

If you knit but don't crochet, or don't know how to do either, then this tutorial from the PurlBee is fantastic. She takes you a step at a time through the process of a crocheted granny square. It's much quicker to crochet squares than knit so you will be sending a pile to Sue in no time!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

A bumper post of Christmas reductions on Etsy

As we approach the final posting day for guaranteed Christmas delivery on Thursday in the UK many sellers are slashing prices for the next 48 hours (including my shop which is currently offering 30% off until Tuesday!):

£12.25 with postage and packing - reduced from £16

Sugar Cane is based in North Yorkshire and offering 25% off until Tuesday at midnight so you may still get your purchase in time for Christmas (check with shops in all cases).

HideNSeek (Hidden Eloise), based in Huddersfield, is offering up to 40% off her wonderful illustrations.

Martalily is offering 25% off her lovely jewellery and is based in Manchester.

Susan Lawson Lampwork in Bristol in the UK is having a 10% off sale.

Hurry or you might miss out : )

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Book Review: Sew Jelly Roll Quilts & Gifts by Carolyn Forster

'Sew Jelly Roll Quilts & Gifts' by Carolyn Forster is a beautiful book full of quilts to inspire.

As the title suggests all the quilts are based on a jelly roll of fabric which you can buy from most craft or sewing shops. It's absolutely beginner friendly and it answered a lot of my own questions as a novice.

It has 34 pages before the projects begin on a wide selection of topics such as 'What is a jelly roll?', 'Fabrics & Thread', 'Basic Sewing Equipment', 'Cutting your own strips', 'Stitching the patchwork', 'Basic quilting materials', 'Layering & Basting', 'Quilting', 'Binding', 'Labelling & Laundering' and 'Quilt size'.

There are then nine beautiful quilts which use lovely fabric to inspire you. The photographs are plentiful so you are in no doubt. There is an illustration or photo for each step.

There are also other projects such as a patchwork cushion, a bag and coasters which you can use your scraps for.

It also has three pages of templates which you don't need to enlarge on a photocopier and a glossary.

This book is an excellent introduction to quilting and will also be a fantastic addition to any quilter's collection.

'Sew Jelly Roll Quilts & Gifts' by Carolyn Forster was released in October and is available to buy from Search Press here.

Thanks to Search Press for sending me this book to review.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Book Review: Knit Your Own Scotland by Jackie Holt and Ruth Bailey

It's St Andrew's Day today so what better day to review my copy of 'Knit your own Scotland' by Jackie Holt and Ruth Bailey, published by Black & White Publishing.

It's a fantastic romp through all things Scottish, from the loch ness monster to a knitted Scotch Pie.

One of the things I noticed about this book is that the colours and yarn you use for each project is the same, so if you knit nessie then you can knit the bagpipes with some of your leftovers.

The book features fifteen characters from Scotland including William Wallace, Robert Burns, Bonnie Prince Charlie, Billy Connolly, Andy Murray, Nessie, a Scottish Terrier, Highland Cattle, Sheep, The Saltire, Bagpipes, Chocolate Teacakes, Scotch Whiskey and finally a big Scotch Pie.

The level of details in the knitted characters is fantastic. The face of William Wallace is brilliant and I have looked through the book many times already just marvelling at the dolls.

There are no knitting instructions apart from a guide to abbreviations at the back so make sure the person you buy this for has fully learnt to knit.

It's an excellent present for someone Scottish or anyone who is into novelty knitting. It will raise a smile on everyone's face.

My favourite project from the book is Robert Burns, followed closely by the Bagpipes and they will feature on my ever-growing list of things to knit.

You can buy 'Knit Your Own Scotland' by Jackie Holt and Ruth Bailey for the cut price of £7.40 here.

Thanks to Black & White Publishing for sending me this cool book to review.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Birthday Knitting

I wouldn't usually show a birthday present I'm in the process of knitting but I am very excited and my mum never reads my blog (except when I show her a post and she smiles and says "oh yes" while yawning!)

My mum turns 60 (she looks about 45 so no-one ever believes she wasn't a teen mum) five days before christmas so I asked her if there was anything she wanted me to knit or crochet her. I'm also adding a surprise to the present so I thought this would work quite nicely.

Initially she chose a shawl for bed but we looked at various patterns and we couldn't find any which were within my budget/skill level which she liked enough. So eventually she picked out a ball of King Cole Riot from my bag which I had just ripped after knitting a hat I didn't really want, and said she would like just a simple stocking stitch cowl to go with her winter coat. Which was very sweet of her as it's extremely simple. The camera has totally not picked up the beauty of the skein of yarn. It's gorgeous to knit with and I'm already halfway there.

As we all know stocking stitch curls a bit either side when there's no rib at the edge to tame it so I will make it about 4cm wider than her specified 15cm.

Are you knitting any gifts for christmas or thinking about it?

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Book Review: Norwegian Knitting Designs

'Norwegian Knitting Designs - A collections from Norway's Foremost Knitting Designers' by Norsk Strikkedesign is a stunning display of extraordinary knits.

This is definitely not, in my opinion, for the beginner knitter but aimed at the artistic adventurous crafter with the time and money to make individual highly detailed quality knits. One for the repressed fashion or art students amongst us.

The photography in the book is stunning. The designs of the clothes are so intricate as to take your breath away. It's a colourful display of the heritage of Norway.

There are some simpler accessories but they are light on the ground. Also the clothes are nearly all for women. There are 22 designs in total. There are 11 Norwegian designers who are as well known in Norway as Erika Knight and Debbie Bliss are in the UK.

There are two full pages of advice before you knit but it's not beginner friendly. There are five good hints and tips for multi-colour pattern knitting which knitters who are experienced will still find useful. There is a page or two before each pattern about the designer, their education and their achievements.

The designer of the sweater above was inspired by 'Harald Solberg's 'Winter night in Rondane'. The ornamentation originated with rosemaling on old chests together with Arabic ornaments. On the finished garnment, simple stars were embroidered in the night sky with contrast colours.' She is 'responsible for design and development of the brand TINDE, which was launched in 1998 and produces and sells knitwear collections in Scandinavia and parts of Europe.'

It's a very inspiring look at Norway through the eyes of their most talented knitwear designers.

You can buy 'Norwegian Knitting Designs - A Collection from Norway's Foremost Knitting Designers' by Norsk Strikkedesign from the Search Press website here.

Thanks again to Search Press for sending me this beautiful book to review.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Seamless Knitting

Firstly I apologise for the poor quality of colour representation/lighting in these photos. I found my camera was incapable of picking up the purple in the wool which is a problem I haven't had before. I obviously need a new camera!

I wanted to share my first knitted hat which has been worked on circular needles! I'm very excited. It took a bit of practice as I was knitting with two strands of 4 ply on top of trying circular knitting for the first time. I watched a YouTube tutorial which told me to use a paperclip to mark the start of each round which promptly flew off on round ten which means I ended up attempting this hat about four times in total. Eventually I used a small safety pin which I moved up after knitting a round. It's a bit boring and purple but I love it and will be wearing the soft warm wool when the subzero temperatures arrive to prevent headaches!

It will be lovely having a hat which has no seam in it. It's already laying better and isn't rouching or pulling where the seam usually is. I'm a bit worried about how much wool I will have left for the pompom but I have an extra ball put back at the knitting shop in the same dye lot should I need it. If I do need an extra ball it will make it a £9 hat instead of £6 just for the sake of a pompom so I might think about that.

I've even gone and bought some double pointed needles to knit some toddler socks from the Knitting Basics book I was sent by Murdoch Books a few months ago. I'm sure with the aid of a YouTube video I will conquer this knitting fear too!

What knitting fears do you have? Cables? Intarsia? Knitting in the round?

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Book Review: 100 Snowflakes to Crochet by Caitlin Sainio

'100 Snowflakes to Crochet' by Caitlin Sainio is an excellent directory of snowflake patterns.

Not only is it a directory but Caitlin has added a story to each snowflake so you know where the particular type is to be found in the world and at what time of the year. My favourite is the 'Candle Ice' snowflake - 'This little snowflake might come to rest on a pile of Candle ice - lake or sea ice that has disintegrated into a pile of candle shaped cylinders.' If you are obsessed with patterns in nature you will definitely love this book. As a trained mechanical engineer Caitlin brings a scientific element to crochet.

She's also added ten pages of instructions from very basic crochet stitches to more advanced advice for when you have finished all the snowflakes and want to start designing your own.

They are organised in order of ease so if you are a beginner you can start with the first snowflake and work your way through the book. Even the most basic snowflakes at the start of the book are beautiful and well worth making even if you are an experienced crocheter. It's an ideal present for someone who is thinking of beginning crochet.

At the end of the book she has featured ten projects using the snowflake designs. This one is to make gift tags and cards with a nice clear white snowflake:

This project is to decorate cushions with the snowflakes. How beautiful are these cushions? I love the white cushion with maroon snowflakes. So simple but elegant.

And this scarf is adorable! It's so delicate and soft looking.

'100 Snowflakes to Crochet' by Caitlin Sainio is out now and is available here from Search Press.

Thanks once again to Search Press for sending me this book to review.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Patchwork harmony

It feels like a long time since I blogged.

I've been making loads for myself, enjoying the proximity of the main knitting shop to my current temp role and the christmas orders are starting to roll in.

I've been sewing the patchwork hexagons above together. It's the first time I've done patchwork and I'm pleased with my work so far. It's going well. Apart from one magazine template which must have been cut mid-sneeze considering its accuracy!

It's going to be a draught excluder - I got the idea from Mollie Makes.

Are you making anything wintery?

Sunday, 28 October 2012

New blog post: Little Christmas Decorations to Knit & Crochet by Sue Stratford & Val Pierce

'Little Christmas Decorations to Knit & Crochet' by Sue Stratford and Val Pierce is a cute book full of stash-busting characters to make for Christmas.

There are 40 projects in this packed book - 20 to crochet and 20 to knit.

There is everything in here from the traditional stocking and pudding patterns to more innovative patterns for gift toppers and fridge magnets.

To aim for the global market, Sue & Val have put their UK crochet directions into brackets after the European stitch so you are reminded to convert for UK crochet. The patterns look easy to follow although I haven't knitted or crocheted anything from this book (yet!).

There are two pages of instructions at the front of the book to help you with things like french knots and blanket stitch.

There's a quirky feel to the book which is really whimsical and sweet. It captures the childlike excitement you feel when thinking about making for christmas.

'Little Christmas Decorations to Knit & Crochet' is out now and is available from Search Press.

Thanks to Search Press for sending me this book to review.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Book Review: Gothic Knits by Fiona McDonald

I've reviewed two books previously by Fiona McDonald and consider myself quite a fan so this is a truly biased post.

What could be better than a doll book but a gothic doll book for Halloween?

There are nine dolls in total - all of which have the best clothes ever. I've knitted two patterns from Fiona's books now and both of them worked out well - there were no errors in the patterns and they were so easy to follow and a joy to make.

There is ten pages of general instructions about how to shape the bodies, stuff, do the faces and finish off well.

As usual for a Fiona McDonald book - you can mix and match the clothes and make them in different yarn and in different colours. This is a very well presented cool book which would make a great present for a teenager who knits or anyone who loves the gothic look!

Gothic Knits by Fiona McDonald is available to buy from Search Press here.

Thanks to Search Press for sending me this book to review.
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