Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Granny Square Day 2017

A very quick post to remind you all that today is Granny Square Day! Over on Instagram, suregal27 is organising things and if you post a photo of your granny square and tag it with #grannysquare2017, then it will be included in a beautiful virtual granny square blanket. There's something so comforting about granny squares to me. Perhaps it's because granny squares were how I learnt to crochet, so it takes me back to my childhood, sitting with my next door neighbour Gladys, who had the patience to teach an 8 year old josiekitten how to crochet. There is certainly something very rhythmical and soothing about crochet. It was the craft that I reached out to soon after Mr JK died last year and I was laying awake for hours on end. And you just have to smile when you look at a granny square blanket with its riot of colour.

My granny squares are the ones I'm hooking for a cushion cover, made from the Opal Advent calendar mini balls, so the colour changes are a little more haphazard than on traditional granny squares. But it's the taking part that's important!

This time last year, I was hooking my granny square on our favourite Greek beach and getting lots of funny looks from people as I got Mr JK to take a photo of me! Happy days. xxx

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Time for a catch up!

Hello there, thanks for stopping by. Pull up chair and make yourself comfortable as I've got lots to tell you! It's hard to believe that three weeks of the summer holiday have already gone. Half way through and I've been trying to keep myself busy so that I'm not dwelling too much on things.

Last week, after the buzz of Fibre-East, it was good to escape up onto the North Norfolk coast for a walk with some friends. The weather was beautiful - plenty of sunshine and blue skies which seem to have been a bit lacking here considering that it's meant to be summer! This part of the coast has shingle beaches with salt marshes between the beach and the road. There was a sculpture exhibition on the beach; I particularly liked the one you can see in the second photo. It was called 'Stranded' I think and reminded me of a washed up whale or an upturned boat.

I also went over to Cambridge on the train to meet up with a friend. As the forecast wasn't good, we decided to visit the Botanic Gardens first. I love walking around gardens, trying to name the plants and being inspired by all the different planting combinations. 

The heavens opened while we were eating lunch, so we headed for the Fitzwilliam museum. There's so much to see there, including a great collection of exhibits from Ancient Egypt. Shortly before we left, we discovered a wonderful exhibition of samplers and wished that we had come across it earlier. The quality and finesse of the stitching was astonishing, especially when you think that most of them were made by children.

Last weekend I went to Devon to stay with Diane, a friend from Uni days. We had a lovely time together and managed to pack a lot into the weekend; a country walk, lunch at a Michelin starred pub, an afternoon in a pottery studio, a guided walking tour around Exeter, discovering the Medieval underground passages that used to bring a supply of fresh water into the city and of course a delicious clotted cream tea! We spent some time crocheting and knitting and it was a lovely, relaxed break.

This week, I went to the Festival of Quilts. I know that I don't need another hobby right now, but there is something very appealing about taking lots of pieces of fabric and stitching them together to make something beautiful. The exhibition of quilts was mind blowing and massive. You could have easily spent a whole day there just looking at all the quilts, let alone have time for shopping! Here are just a few of my favourites - I think it's clear that I am drawn to colourful geometric quilts, don't you?

My haul was pretty modest - a signed copy of Stuart Hillard's new book, a 6" square template, some fabric to sew a top, a panel of fabric that I couldn't resist although I'm not sure quite how to use it to its full potential yet and a zipped pouch that I made in an hour's class!

Amongst all of this, I have been busy knitting and crocheting, but most of it I'm not able to share with you yet. I promise I will as soon as I can though. With the prospect of another Opal Advent calendar looming, I have been hooking away on granny squares. I want to make a cushion cover like my pal Snoopydog's as well as finish off the socks.

I also spent a little more time spinning. I want to do some drop spindling too so that I don't forget the basics.

I sewed a cushion for a friend's birthday too. I love free motion sewing, it doesn't matter if you go a bit wonky. In fact, it adds a bit of character to what you're making! Just as well in my case!

Are you still with me! If so, well done. Give yourself a pat on the back and go and have a cup of tea and a biscuit, or perhaps a cheeky glass of wine! I'll try not to leave it so long next time. xxx

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Another month, another winner and another giveaway

Time to pick a winner for my July Pay it Forward giveaway. There were hardly any entries to win the lovely braid of fibre, so I guess it tells me that not many of you are spinners! The random number generator picked post 2 - so congratulations to Christine65. I'll be getting in touch with you to get your details so I can post your prize off to you. It really is the most gorgeous braid of fluff and I look forward to seeing what you spin from it!

This month's giveaway prize has been very kindly donated by one of my fellow Stylecraft Blogstars Kathryn, aka CrafternoonTreats. We met up at Fibre-East last weekend; her stand looked fabulous, full of colour and so inviting. One of her best sellers was a crochet kit to hook your very own yarn bowl and I have possibly the last kit left that weekend! I very carefully opened it up so you can see what's inside...

Inside the kit is a gorgeously woolly cake of Kathryn's hand dyed yarn, crochet lace and cotton yarn for decorating your basket, a needle for adding decoration, three stitch markers, a gift tag to show your basket was Hooked with Love and of course the pattern. All you need is a crochet hook and a bit of time to sit down and make it! Thank you so much Kathryn!

To be in with a chance of winning, leave me a comment telling me what you're currently working on and I'll use a random number generator to pick a winner. The giveaway will be open until midnight on August 31st. Please make sure that it's easy for me to contact you by leaving your Ravelry or Instagram name or leave some other way for me to get in touch. If I haven't heard from the winner after a week, I'll pick another name. I'm happy to post world-wide so everyone can enter. Good luck one and all and may your crochet hook be lucky! xxx

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Fibre-East 2017

I've just returned home from another year of volunteering at Fibre-East. It's my 'local' fibre festival, even though it's a good two and a bit hours of driving to get from Norfolk to Ampthill in Bedfordshire. But it's definitely worth it! It's a lot of fun being part of a team of friendly people and while I was there, I felt 'normal'. You also get to appreciate the hard work that goes into organising an event such as this. Flo had to go and stay in a cat hotel which didn't impress her greatly, but I knew she was safe and being cared for. When I arrived at the school where Fibre-East is held, the marquees were already up and marking out had begun. The spaces have to be marked for each vendor's stand and tables put in place ready for them. We got on really well and even started decorating the site with bunting that day. The following day, vendors started arriving from 10am; that's always an exciting time as you get to see little sneaky peeks of what delights they have brought with them. All the signs were stuck up and there was knitted and crocheted bunting hung from every possible structure. It really did look bright and cheery, ready to welcome the visitors at the weekend. Even though I was on volunteer duty at various points over the weekend, I still had plenty of time to browse and shop. My pal Snoopydog wasn't able to come so I had strict instructions to get her a couple of 'pretty skeins'! I was also able to meet up with my fellow blogstars, Jane Crowfoot and Kathryn Senior as well as a couple of Instagram friends. I took loads of photos throughout the weekend, so at the risk of boring you, here are some of my favourites. Go and make a yourself a cuppa before you start looking through them!

I have loads more photos, these only show but a few of the vendors that were there - everything you could possibly need for knitting, crocheting, weaving, spinning and felting and more. It really does cater for all fibre arts. As well as the vendors, a number of local guilds were also in attendance demonstrating their skills, so it was the perfect opportunity to have a go and learn something new.

On Sunday morning, I was excused from volunteering duties so that I could take part in a drop spindling workshop. It was really excellent and I learnt loads. I think the fact that I could already spin on a wheel was a big help because I was comfortable drafting the fibre. I'm hoping to use this new skill with the children at school next year.

So what did I buy? I bought some lovely bright merino fibre from Jon at Easyknits, a couple of skeins of yarn from Sparkleduck which I will use on very special projects, a rainbow skein from Babylonglegs, a hat kit that is a collaboration between Woollywormhead and Babylonglegs, a self-striping rainbow yarn cake from The Knitting Goddess and a gorgeous olive wood and sycamore drop spindle from IST Crafts.

There was a lovely floral tribute to Heather from Sparkleduck who died very suddenly earlier in the year. I signed the book of condolences, remembering my trip to Uunravel back in February, when Heather and I had had lunch together, and Heather was telling me all about the birds that had been visiting her garden. Her beautiful yarns and creativity will be missed. RIP Heather. xxx