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October 2015

September 2015

Winter Knits

and Yarnalong with Ginny.

Yarnalong 30 09 15

I feel like i'm making great yarn craft progress right now as I power through my WIP list. Izumi Wrap is finished and I have shared photos here.
Lavender Fields blanket is on hold as I wait for another 5 balls of smokey quartz. We are driving up to Newcastle this weekend to watch the RWC South Africa vs Scotland game. There are about 10 driving hours so the plan is to finish this weekend. As long as the yarn arrives by Friday!

In the mean time I have cast on Wave, from the Kim Hargreaves, Echoes pattern book. This is a new technique for me as you use two different size knitting needles. The cast on is done with a 9mm needle then you knit onto a 4.5mm needle and purl back onto the 9mm needle. It took me a few rows to get used to it.

I finished The Miniaturist on Saturday. It's a very bittersweet story of love and I wished for a different ending. I don't want to give anything away for those who have it on their reading lists.

I started The Kashmir Shawl by Rosie Thomas on Saturday too. This is a village book club book, that i'm a bit behind with. The title appealed to me as my Yia-Yia (Greek grandmother) had Kashmir shawls and I loved being wrapped in one when I wasn't feeling well and spent the day being pampered by her.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Ciao xx

Purple spare bed blanket - Voila

Not a very glamorous name for this blanket but it didn't feel or give the love that a blanket should. I shared a little back story to the blanket here, and although I found it very frustrating I did eventually like it and finish it!

Purple blanket on bed

It's made with cotton 8, Catania Fine and some white yarn from Hobbycraft. Cotton 8 is my preferred choice of cotton yarn and it's so inexpensive and goes on and on and on! This is a great yarn for summer blankets and bunting. (Psstt..these are my own opinions and i'm not getting anything for saying it!)

Purple blanket open

I used the DC, 3ch method of joining all the squares which is my favourite way of joining crochet. (This is the wrong side of the join.)

Purple blanket close up of join

My preferred yarn for blankets is wool, which I always think to be the most obvious choice, but cotton does make lovely material and it's far more hard wearing and lovely for the garden.

I'm happy to see this blanket on a bed and ready for winter visitors.

Purple blanket hanging

Feeling accomplished!

Ciao xx

Izumi Wrap - Voila

Well here it is, all blocked and beautiful! I am so happy with everything about this wrap :)

Izumi 7

Izumi 3

Izumi 4

Izumi 5

Izumi 2

Izumi 6

I used Mabel & Ivy, supersoft 100% wool, in delicious Flannel Grey from Tangled Yarn. There are lots of colours to choose from, I am tempted to just buy a load and stash it!

I chose a yarn based on similar guage and used the recommended hook size (4mm) on the pattern. There wasn't as much stretch as I thought there would be in the blocking stage but the pattern opened up beautifully.

The drape and weight of the yarn is lovely, and the soak has made it super soft (just like it's name!), and cosy. A perfect accessory on a cold autumn morning. Like this morning!

The pattern includes both written and chart instructions but please read through the word instuctions as the row numbering on the main body chart do not relate to the real life rows.

I like to use the majority of the yarn I have for a project but don't like to play yarn roulette. For this project I calculated how far the first ball of yarn took me and made note of where I would need to start the last ball of yarn to finish with very little yarn left.
I also added the lace section to my foundation row end and unwound it to keep aside for the lace section of the final row end.
That way I could add pattern rows without worrying about running out of yarn.

**I realise that this doesn't make much sense if you haven't got the pattern in front of you, but if you make this wrap you may find it helpful**

If I made this again (which is very likely!) I would add an extra ball of yarn to make it longer.

The yarn possibilities for the wrap are endless, I think it would be amazing in a cotton for those late summer evenings sitting outside after a BBQ watching the stars.

Feeling the JOY of a successful yarn project completed.

Ciao xx

PS. Chloe's blanket is a third done!

Making Great Progress

and Yarnalong with Ginny.

Izumi wrap is on the blocking board! I finished last Thursday, a day ahead of schedule and soaked and pinned it out on Sunday. Full review on pattern, yarn and finished article soon. (Edit - I've done the review - find it here)

Izumi wrap blocking

Without delay I moved onto the next project, Chloe's Christmas blanket. Chloe is my 'littlest' sister who moved to the UK in May to experience London life and travel. Nina, my 'little' sister, came to the UK in 2014 and also received a blanket for her first Christmas here.

The colours were inspired (but are not really true to life) by our recent visit to Hitchin Lavender, so I have called it Lavender fields.

Lavender fields 23 09 15

Yarn type and blanket style is shamelessly stolen from this post by Happy in Red. I fell head over heals and knew this was the next blanket I wanted to make! The pattern is Summer Time Ripple from Le Monde de Sucrette. It's my first time using this ripple pattern and I love the hole detail. Just something a little different.

In the Stone Washed XL and a 5.5mm hook this blanket is growing quickly.  The blanket in the post is much smaller than the one I am making so I will share yarn quanties when I'm done.

Lavender fields close up 23 09 15

But just a very quick note to say that I am loving the Stone Washed XL. It is super soft and a little fluffy but tough and durable. It's a great price too and Deramores have it on special right now! (PS I discovered this yesterday while ordering more of the smokey quartz and am not receiving anything for promoting it!)

Powering through my WIP list.....

50 or so pages from the end of The Minaturist, it's gone to places I didn't imagine so a very surprising story.

Ciao xx

WIPs Update

So excited to be able to cross something off, I had to do an update!

Izumi wrap - FINISHED
Chloe's Christmas blanket - Happening right now
Kim Hargreaves Wave cardi from ECHO book - Have yarn, would like this for winter 2015
Pebble beach shawl - have yarn, would like this finished for spring 2016
Whispering Island shawl - have yarn, would like this for winter 2015
Folded - at the shoulder decrease, had an issue and had to frog. Would like this for winter 2015
Larch in alpaca - at the assembly stage, would just like it finished
Island crochet top from Rowan Savannah Collection book - have yarn, started, would like it finished for summer 2016

Izumi wrap was finished a day ahead of schedule, and blocking is in progress. I can't wait for this to come off the boards so I can use it, and do a full review for you.

Izumi wrap off the hook

Happy progress!

Ciao xx

Party planning - A guide

I love turning a simple BBQ into a party and planning decor, food and drinks. So when my 40th birthday loomed over head I decided to seize the opportunity and throw myself a Big Birthday Bash!

It all seemed like a good idea to start with but when I had written up the guest list I knew I needed a plan to cater a party for 50+

I thought I would record the details here in the hope that it may help anyone googling or Pinteresting for party planning ideas and for me to use in the future.

Birthday list pic

As a list person I thought that was the best place to start so I grabbed a notebook and headed up some pages. The obvious ones for me were decor, food, drinks and tableware.

* Decor
* Food
* Tableware
* Drinks
* Entertainment for kids
* Photobooth
* Serving ideas
* Rubbish disposal

I didn't think of them all on day one. This was very much a work in progress and I felt like this notebook didn't leave my hands. Also check out my 40th birthday Pinterest board! Although I love lists and notebooks, a visual list is hard to beat.

I bought a lot off ebay, like the tissue paper pom poms, photo booth props and bunting.

Wilkos was great for paper table cloths, plastic plates, knives, forks, bowls and glasses. We bought 24 pint, 24 wine and 12 highball glasses, (all our Sainsburys stores glass hire were booked up for that weekend) and at 50p a glass we now have a storage box full of glasses for future use!

I ordered a 5l Kilner drinks dispenser which is a must for parties of all sizes. And I was lucky enough to receive one as a birthday gift too! We didn't cater drinks but provided Pimms, and some cocktails for those brave enough. I used a garden bucket (cleaned out of course!) filled with ice water for people to put their bottles in and had a plug in cooler box with clean ice for use in drinks.

If you have the space start to gather your supplies. I used the dining room table which wasn't the ideal place but it was a great to see the pile grow.

Birthday decor supplies

If you're making decor, start to assemble way in advance and ask for help. We did the tissue paper tassles the night before and I wish I had done them a month before!

Birthday tissue tassle making

They took so long and the cat wasn't the best helper!

Birthday tissue tassle helper

I searched the internet for cake topper bunting, happy birthday bunting and individual letter bunting. There are hundreds in all shapes, sizes and colours to choose from. I saved the pdfs in iBooks on my phone and printed as many as I needed. I assembled these well in advance!

Our food choice was simple which is a good way to go when catering for a large number of people.
- For starters we had large bowls of pretzels, dips and crisps and pop corn, easy peasy and you can buy these a week or two in advance.
- For the main we did chicken drumsticks and boerewors on the braai, with boiled new potatoes (cold), green salad, coleslaw, this cous cous salad and rolls. The meat, fresh stuff and rolls were all collected on party day morning.
- Desert was cake made by me and my lovely sister in law. I baked 4 cakes and brownies on the Friday afternoon. Nina was my kitchen companion and did the cutlery and paper napkin folding and arranging.

In the UK we are getting very good at recycling so I set up a wheely bin with a CANS & BOTTLES sign, a large bowl for food waste and asked for all plastic plates and cutlery to be dumped in the sink. I didn't want to save it all but the cutlery always comes in handy for picnics and I didn't want recycle stuff going in the general waste bin.

It was such a good day and the photobooth stuff was a cheap win!

Birthday pic

And then when the day is done, these great printable free download cards from Elise over at EnJoy it! are just the thing to thank your guests for joining you.

Birthday thank you cards

I had great fun planning this party and although it was hard work and the clean up seemed never ending I would totally do it again!

**My top tips when planning a large gathering are, start buying bits early so it's not a huge outlay of cash the week before and write everything down, no matter how small a detail.**

Happy planning

Ciao xx

The Finish Straight and Yarnalong

Happy Wednesday!

Yarnalong 16 09 15

Joining Ginny and yarnalong........

Izumi wrap is on the finish straight with 16 plain rows and 8 lacy rows left to make. Still on plan to finish by Friday so it can be blocked over the weekend. I am looking forward to crossing something off my current WIP list!

Just this morning I thought I should have had a little wooly something around my shoulders as it's feeling rather Autumnal here in Hertfordshire. Can't wait to add this beauty to my autumn capsule wardrobe.

Still reading the miniaturist and trying desperately to get up to bed a little earlier to have more reading time as it's so exciting! I'm thoroughly enjoying it and enjoying the break from chic lit which I have read a lot of this year.

I bought myself a new yarn craft basket on Monday (pictured). I really DON'T need another basket but I have been looking for one in this shape with longer handles for a while now and it was very reasonably priced. I want to make a lining for it so my yarn doesn't get caught on the little bits that aren't fully woven in. Considering using one of my vintage linen tablecloths. YIKES, am I brave enough to cut one up?

Day has turned very dull and grey......this morning I was filled with hope for an Indian Summer.

Ciao xx


I think it's time to make a list of those WIPs that are haunting me and see how many I can get ticked off in 2015.

Izumi wrap - happening right now
Chloe's Christmas blanket - Christmas (obviously!) deadline
Kim Hargreaves Wave cardi from ECHO book - Have yarn, would like this for winter 2015
Pebble beach shawl - have yarn, would like this finished for spring 2016
Whispering Island shawl - have yarn, would like this for winter 2015
Folded - at the shoulder decrease, had an issue and had to frog. Would like this for winter 2015
Larch in alpaca - at the assembly stage, would just like it finished
Island crochet top from Rowan Savannah Collection book - have yarn, started, would like it finished for summer 2016

So that's it. Plenty to be getting on with, without having to buy any more yarn. I now just need to stay off Ravelry and away from the new season pattern books. Easier said than done I tell you!

I'm a sucker for a new project and some pretty yarn ;)

Lots to do, too little time....

Ciao xx

Lets talk about Christmas

As crafters we are always working in the next season. It's barely autumn but my mind is firmly planted in winter and thoughts of knitting warm jumpers and cosy blankets to crochet. I'm also in Journal Your Christmas planning mode and have been thinking about (and buying) what album and papers to use.

It took me a while to get into the Journal Your Christmas project, always starting with good intentions and then never finishing. A few years ago though I went for a slightly different format and chose a simple A6/A5 lined journal to use each day to write a little story inspired by the daily prompt. Some days it's based on the current year and others involved digging deep to find a childhood memory. Then after Christmas I could relax and use my journal as inspiration to create the pages in my JYC album.

This method has worked well for me and I now have a little collection of JYC albums.

Christmas album collection

I have been using Simple Stories products for the past few years. I love the albums, variety of page protectors and paper collections.

Christmas album

This year I have chosen the Claus & Co paper line. The collection kit is packed full of elements which are perfect to use with the multi pack page protectors. In addition I ordered the basics kit, photo stickers and bradz.

Christmas papers

An A5 paper journal, a few sheets of white cardstock, adhesives, stamps and inkpads will complete my JYC kit and i'm ready to go.

This year we will spend early December in Cape Town and I am looking forward to capturing images of a hot festive season having not had one in over 10 years! It will be fun to document the differences and i'm looking forward to reliving some childhood memories.

Just 15 weekends :)

Ciao xx

Izumi wrap progress and Yarnalong

Joining Ginny's Yarnalong.....

YA 09 09

I'm half way (nearly) with the Miniaturist and it's quite exciting now. The main character was lacking a little but a major twist to the story has us waiting to see what she does next.

Izumi wrap is growing nicely. It's hard to see the detail of the pattern but I guess that will come out in the blocking stage.

YA 09 09 wrap close up

I'm half way through the main part, according to the pattern. I would like to add a few pattern repeats so need to work out how much yarn I need for the lacy end (x2) to see if I have yarn left over. With crochet I don't mind playing a bit of yarn roulette!

YA 09 09 wrap progress

Please excuse the poor light, I was photographing last night and didn't want to use the flash.

****I want to leave a little thanks to everyone that pops over to visit and leave a comment. I do visit you back and I love to visit everyone that leaves a link on the Yarnalong post. I have an issue commenting on the blogs though, they just don't seem to work every time which is really annoying!***

Still thinking about Christmas. Too soon? Nah, will share later this week :)

Ciao xx