Sunday, 18 March 2018

Dragging my heels

Thank you for all your lovely comments after Flo's post last weekend. I'm back but definitely not firing on all cylinders at the moment. Everything seems to be such a struggle right now, trying to focus on anything is very difficult, even things that I enjoy. I used to read a book a week on average but since Mr JK died, I've probably managed 2 or 3. My knitting output is shocking, I just don't seem to be able to concentrate on anything. I don't quite know what I do or how the time passes. I have good intentions but very little gets done. Someone described it as 'bereavement brain' and I don't know if that's true, but I wish it would go away and let me get on with things. Luckily my Great Yarn Giveaway continues to be a distraction and brings me comfort, knowing that some good has come out of the sadness of Mr JK's death. The total has just passed £5000 now and I'm really hoping that it might make it to £6000 by the time it closes at the end of April. The number of prizes staggers me and is still growing as people hear about the giveaway and want to donate something. And after I posted this photo on Instagram at the weekend showing the mountain of prizes that I have to package up and post out once the draw is done...

...I received a message on Instagram from someone offering to help with postage costs and this sweet message appeared along with a payment into my Paypal account. I certainly never considered the amount I'd be having to pay on postage when I started the giveaway, and it's just grown and grown!

Flo's been a bit under the weather this week. She was showing early signs of cystitis on Monday so I whisked her up to the vet who very kindly stayed open waiting for me. Two injections and two courses of medication later (and me £110 lighter!) she's doing fine, although studiously avoiding the 'palatable' medication on her food, the little madam! She's fine again now thank goodness.

In an attempt to boost my mood, I treated myself to a new mug so I can start off the day with lots of positive thinking. And a kind friend sent me this book that I've started dipping into.

After receiving a prize from Meadow Yarn, I went for a closer look at their website and fell in love with a set of mini-skeins. Anj's dyeing is really rather lovely...

The said skeins have been wound into little yarn cakes too, and of course I've faffed about with them and yet have nothing significant to show yet! 

I don't think I shared this little notions case that I made and gave away on Instagram last weekend. It was a trial run to see what people thought of them and whether they might be good enough to offer as prizes in my giveaway. I gave this one away after asking people to share my giveaway with yarn-loving friends on Instagram. I will try to sew a couple more as prizes over the Easter holidays.

We've had a little snow again over the weekend and it's been bitterly cold. Flo ventured outside to do what she had to, but was not impressed! I cannot wait for the warmer weather. At least the days are noticeably getting longer now.

My daffodil watch continues. This was a bulb that I was given as a symbol of hope after attending a service of remembrance at my local church to celebrate those who had died in the last year. The poor daffodil has been battered by the cold winds but I hope that it will continue to open this week. I'll be able to look at it smiling in at me through the kitchen window. I can't wait. xxx

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Great Yarn Giveaway update 4

I have a veritable mountain of prizes to share with you today in my Great Yarn Giveaway, so pull up a chair, get yourself a glass or mug of your favourite beverage and make yourself comfy!

First of all, a gorgeous hand turned crochet hook from one of my fellow Stylecraft Blogstars, Angela Armstrong. It's stunning, a real work of art that will be a pleasure to use.

Black Sheep Wools got in touch with with me after hearing about the giveaway as they wanted to be involved and they have donated a yarn pack to crochet the A Spicier Life blanket. You can see how lovely it is from the photo (obviously if you win, you get the yarn and not the the blanket!)

Helen from Woolly Chic also got in touch with me via Instagram and has donated a Mandala crochet bag kit. It's a super kit to learn how to crochet a Mandala and I love the tote bag that comes with its own printed Mandala on it.

Michelle got in touch with me via Instagram too, offering the most beautiful gradient yarn cake from Pook GB. I think I might just be a little in love with it! It even comes with a co-ordinating stitch marker.

These beautiful stitch markers have been made by Sheena of McMaster and Tingley who sent me a message on Instagram offering to make a prize. They are just the most beautiful things and will grace any knitter's socks! 

Rowena got in touch with me on Ravelry, offering some Little Box of Crochet goodies. I decided to sew some Granny Square project bags and to put a LBOC kit into each one. I hope that they'll go down well!

An Caitin Beag has donated some gorgeous prizes after getting in touch with me on Instagram. There's a set of Winter themed stitch markers for one lucky person...

and a beautiful heart shawl pin for someone else! Just stunning and so generous of her. I think she's making a special heart pin for the winner, I heard mention of a stone being set in it too, but I may have got the wrong end of the stick!

As well as promoting my giveaway on their website, Crochet Now and Knit Now magazines have each donated a prize - the current issue (at time of winning) of their magazine and two back issues. Lots of browsing and potential projects for two people.

Carol Feller from Stolen Stitches has sent me a skein of her Nua yarn for one lucky person to try. It's a beautiful blend of merino, yak and linen and feels amazing.

As well as stocking an amazing selection of yarns, Anj from Meadow Yarn also dyes herself and has sent me a skein of her Hoo sock yarn in the most uplifting shade of turquoise. I treated myself to some yarn from her shop after seeing how gorgeous it was!

Catherine Daniels Ceramics popped up on my Instagram feed and I loved the quirky hearts that Catherine makes. I was delighted that she replied to my cheeky request for a prize by offering two ceramic hearts - one crochet and one knit. 

Jen Best from Beaker Button has donated a mixed button kit in the Suffragette colourway. There are five different button designs to learn to make and enough equipment to make 10 buttons. It's very addictive as I found out recently at the Stylecraft weekend. 

I first came across the beautiful yarns from Spirit Trail Fiberworks  when I was a member of one of Anne Hanson's clubs and have often admired her skeins. So I was so delighted when Jennifer offered a skein of yarn. The colours are incredible and I have serious yarn envy!

The lovely girls at Pom Pom magazine have sent a copy of one of their publications, Wool Journey: Shetland, which has stunning photographs and some lovely patterns inspired by the islands. There's also a Pom Pom tote bag to keep your project in. 

I have my own basket from Basket Basket so I know just how fabulous they are.Virginia has donated a raffia basket with leather straps and corner protectors. It's got a cotton drawstring fabric closure and you'll be surprised just how much yarn you can fit inside! 

Julie from TillyFlop Designs has sent a really happy parcel of treats. It was waiting for me when I got home today and really made me smile. There's a knitting tea towel and an assortment of cards and stickers. I want one for my car!

Last but not least is a trio of skeins from Ling who dyes under the Whimzy label. There's a skein of Sokkusu O in Cornflower, a skein of Soft Sock in Colours of the Underground (I LOVE this one especially!) and a skein of Luxurious in Pandora's Box. Three people are going to be very happy with these.

There are still a few prizes on their way to me, I think there will be close to 130 eventually! I can't quite believe just how big my 'seed' of an idea has got. The current total is just over £4800 with 750 donations and now I'm secretly hoping that we might make it to £5800 as that would bring my fundraising total for the British Heart Foundation to £10,000 for both my Just Giving pages. If we don't, then I will think up another fundraising idea! To be in with a chance of winning one of these amazing prizes, or any of the prizes listed on my JustGiving page, all you have to do is make a donation to the British Heart Foundation. Not only will you be doing something amazing to help fight heart disease, but you could be a winner too! The giveaway runs until the end of April and it's open worldwide, so please tell all your yarn-loving pals about it. Thank you so much for all your support. xxx

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Doing my duty

Meow meow everyone, Florence here. It's been a long while since I last chatted with you but I thought I'd report in as Mum's a bit tired. I've been giving her lots of TLC this week (it's one of my specialities) as she's been feeling a bit out of sorts. So there have been lots of cuddles on the sofa. I like it when she wears her onesie because it's really snuggly!

I've also made it my mission to give her a breakfast smooch too. I have to make sure that I keep my tail out of the porridge. She wasn't impressed when I accidentally dipped it in! And nor was I for that matter. Porridge is not a food that appeals to cats! It doesn't taste of fish or mice!!!

I do give Mum a little prang with my paw (claws in, naturally) just to make sure that she carries on stroking me while she's eating. She says that my big black eyes spell trouble! I don't know what she means! 

While Mum's at work, I've been showing my appreciation for the lovely blankets that she's made especially for me! Who else would they be for? They are draped over the back of the sofa after all and I don't see her laying there! This one is a particular favourite - it's the Attic24 Cosy Stripe blanket and I think it shows off my velvety black fur rather nicely, don't you?

I've offered support when Mum has been sewing in ends on my next blanket too. I did suggest that she would have found it easier if she had sewn the ends in as she went but that comment didn't go down too well! I can't imagine why. 

And I've been there to rub around her ankles every step of the way. She's wearing a pair of Dad's socks here. I miss him - we both do. Meow meow meow xxx

Sunday, 4 March 2018

KnitPro Royale Interchangeable Needles - a review

Do you remember your first ever pair of knitting needles? I still have mine, somewhat chewed at the ends and with no apparent size to be seen anywhere on them! But I am pleased that I have them, they're part of my life's knitting journey. Somewhere I have the wonky-edged garter stitch scarf that I knit for one of my teddies too, probably with much concentration and tongue sticking out!

I also have the set of knitting needles that I bought with birthday money when I was about 13. I can remember the excitement of going to Argos (yes, Argos!) to buy them and my word, they were well used right through my teens and twenties. 

I have a couple of drawers full of metal knitting needles too that I've inherited from my Mum, Nannie and Aunties as well as friends of friends who've passed them onto me 'because you knit'! I bet I'm not the only one who has a stash of needles that generally sit around redundant, or occasionally used for an 'arty' photo shoot! 

Until a couple of years ago, when I was diagnosed with tendinitis in my wrist and thumb, straight knitting needles were pretty much my needles of choice. Yes, I'd moved away from metal and plastic to the warmth of wood, but I didn't own any circular needles at all. When the pain in my wrist made it nigh on impossible to knit, I did a little online research and discovered that circular knitting needles were recommended for people with arthritis as they put less pressure on the joints. So I treated myself to my first pair and now I rarely use anything else. 

KnitPro sent me a midi set of Interchangeable Royale needles to test. It's a fabulous little set, which comes in a very neat and pretty case...

The set comprises 4 pairs of interchangeable needles in some of the most used sizes - 3.00, 3.50, 4.00 and 4.50mm. The needles are made from laminated birch wood which means that they are warm and light to the touch. What I really like about them is that each size is a different colour, so it's a lot easier to differentiate between the needle sizes if you don't have a needle gauge to hand. OK, I know that means that you need to know what colour is what size, but the clever folk at KnitPro have gone one step further to help you with this. Not only are the needle sizes printed on the needles, but when this rubs off (because we all know that's a knitting fact of life), the needle size is also etched onto the metal on the needle too. Ingenious!

Another thing that I like about the needles is that the tips are metal. Sometimes I find that the wooden tips are almost too sharp and pointy and I end up with a really sore finger. But these tips I find pointy enough for the kind of knitting that I generally do to make it easy and fluid. You might want something a little pointier if you knit a lot of lace, but it's all down to personal preference. 

There are also three cables, each a different colour and length which is another clever idea from KnitPro to help you easily find the cable length that you need. How many times have you scrabbled about in your store of cables to pull out the wrong length? The cables are flexible and connect smoothly to the needles without any obvious join to snag against your knitting. The red cable gives a 100cm length, the orange an 80cm length and the yellowy/green a 60cm length when attached to the needles. There are also (according to the description) 6 end caps and 3 cable keys although my set had 8 and 4 respectively as well as a set of cable connectors. 

I really like these needles - the warmth and lightness of the wood makes them comfortable to handle, and the needles 'grip' your knitting just enough. The colour-coded cables and the needle size etching are a super added bonus. Definitely recommended if you're looking for a set to start off your needle collection, or looking to try something new. KnitPro have very generously donated a set of these needles as a prize in my Great Yarn Giveaway so if you'd like to be in with a chance of winning them, click here and make a donation to the British Heart Foundation in memory of my lovely Mr JK and help me in my fight against heart disease. xxx