Saturday, 18 January 2014

New Year No Fear!

If you're anything like me you'll love a good sale in January. There are endless bargains to be had and right now there is 10 per cent off everything at The Bead & Button Company.

These crochet hooks are a lot of fun. Made from aluminium they are really colourful and bold and will pop out when crocheting so you can see them really well. They would also make a great present for a child to get them into crochet.

The lace I received for review from them was also of very good quality. These are just long enough to sew along a pillow edge and are really thick.

These poppy wooden buttons are just awesome. I've seen these in a few different places, as background for magazine shoots and on knitting on the wonderful knitting blogs I follow. They really are gorgeous. They come in two different sizes - 25mm and 30mm.

These buttons have butterflies on them and are equally gorgeous. They would all look so brilliant on baby or adult clothes. I'm sure everyone would be asking you where you had got them!

So why not give them a try? They do free delivery on all orders over £30 so if you have been holding back on supplies before Christmas now's your time to do a bulk order with 10 per cent off.

I received these goods for free from The Bead & Button Company to review them and this is therefore a sponsored blog post.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Book Review: The Magic of Shetland Lace Knitting by Elizabeth Lovick

'The Magic of Shetland Lace Knitting' by Elizabeth Lovick is one of those rare books which make you feel as if you are at a serious workshop while retaining a friendliness and accessibility which is essential for nervous knitters and newbies.

The first section of this book is quite exhaustive. She covers the history of Shetland lace and story of the sheep breeds on the islands, complete with stunning photos and a description of arriving on the plane - 'We bank sharply and lose more height, the runway comes into view, jutting out into the sea, the rolling waves breaking on to the tarmac. We land safely.'

All the basics are covered, yarn, needles, knots, reading a chart (a whole page), joining in colours, picking up stitches, dealing with mistakes and dressing lace (blocking). Then she starts advancing a little more and branching out into designing, constructing shapes, charting and putting motifs together. At this point you're thinking 'this is quite awesome, a whole page or two on how to chart my pattern, wow'. But then there are pages on designing with frames, designing a stole, a scarf and a christening gown. Pretty satisfying. I would definitely say all my questions about lace were answered in this section.

Next comes the stitch directory which contains around 70 edgings and traditional Shetland motifs displayed very clearly and knitted in beautiful yarn in delicious colours. At the end of the book you get seven patterns to practice your skills, which of course can be knitted in a different lace pattern to the one shown using the stitch directory.

Overall I would definitely say this is a fabulous buy if you are a beginner or an intermediate knitter looking for a new challenge. Lace isn't so difficult, and the only thing you may struggle with is reading charts but Elizabeth expected this and solved it with her page on reading charts. She also has full website details at the back of the book.

'The Magic of Shetland Lace Knitting' by Elizabeth Lovick is available from the Search Press website.

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

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Christmas Holiday Crafting

I was rather too busy before Christmas to pop in and wish all my readers Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, so I am hoping that you all had a lovely break and were able to take time out to watch TV, get merry and munch a few chocs. I know I certainly did.

I also had lots of time to dream, meditate, escape, read, think and imagine while not worrying excessively about jobhunting or money, an experience I've not had at Christmas for quite a few years. It really was deeply pleasurable.

Before Christmas I got a bit carried away with shopping and treating myself, especially when I realised I was going to be safe in a job for a while. I joined the 'Into the Whirled' yarn club and received the rather beautiful hank of sock yarn above. I think I saw on Ravelry that the inspiration came from a Doctor Who picture, but I may have got mixed up as I was out of sync due to being an international customer!

Anyway, to cut a long story short I came out again as I got charged customs tax which almost came to the same amount as the monthly fee so I decided it very sadly wasn't going to work out due to me being international. But awesome yarn. Lovely. Very efficient communication too. If you live in the US they are highly recommended. If you don't mind slow post and possible customs tax and you are in the UK go for it too.

Another treat - two rather lovely tunics from White Stuff which I bought in the sale after getting up at 7.30am on Boxing Day. Competition was fierce in the shop. I felt several eyes follow me round the shop as I have to pick up two sizes for everything. I think a few women wanted to beat me severely during this shopping trip, but I did well under stressful conditions I feel.

Apologies for the quality of this picture - I'm mostly knitting in the evening now and have mostly been out when it has been sunny. This is my Buttermere shawl/scarf which I'm knitting with Eden Cottage Yarns. It has looked a bit scraggy at the start but it is looking a lot better. I had a doubtful beginning as I wasn't sure which size of needle produced the best tension but ended up using the size in the pattern. It's very addictive as it is good TV knitting as apart from about four stitches it's just stocking stitch. Although not for Sherlock, as this requires all your attention and concentration, and besides I'd definitely end up dropping stitches through sheer excitement.

Happy Knitting and Happy New Year!

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