Saturday, 30 March 2013

An Easter Bunny

You know what's it's like... a friend sends you a link, you click on it and then just know you've got to try it yourself... it happened with this.
The tiniest little knitted bunny that can be worn as a brooch... just what every well dressed person is wearing this Easter

But not only that, because it is knitted in the round, it has a secret compartment that can hold a tiny emergency Easter egg.

For something so tiny it took a silly amount of time to knit... and was not the easiest pattern to follow...

but despite that, they do seem to be breeding!

I think I have the urge to knit bunnies out of my system now but should you fancy making one to dress your Easter lapel... just a couple of tips.
  • Where the pattern says w5 it suggests moving the 2 stitches from left to right needle and back again five times as you wrap them... it takes forever and it is far easier just to slip the 2 stitches from the left needle onto a spare dp needle, wrap them and then pop them back onto the right needle.
  • To increase it suggests picking up the loop between the stitches which is impossible when trying to do this between previously wrapped stitches. Just knit into the back and front of the stitch.
  • Round 15 RS should read: p5, k3. w5, k1, k2tog... it needs the extra k1 before the k2tog because there are 13 stitches on the needle not 12.
  • Round 17: after you have followed the instructions for the right side you will have a stitch left on the needle . Just slip this to the beginning of the wrong side and carry on following the instructions.

Have a happy Easter whether you decide to knit bunnies or not!
I'm just going to eat chocolate.

Friday, 29 March 2013

A Very Good Friday

I can't remember the last time I bothered to make hot cross buns but I was inspired by Paul Hollywood (again... I know!) this morning
I did get into a bit of a sticky mess with the dough which was quite wet, but persevered

And I'm rather glad I did. The chopped apple is an unusal addition but he was right... it made them very moist and tasty... I've just had one warm and buttered with a cuppa!

I only made a couple of changes - the chopped peel (which I detest... funny as I love marmalade) was replaced with chopped dried apricots and in the absence of any apricot jam in the house I used a jar of homemade gooseberry jam that was lurking in the fridge to glaze them. Seemed to work.
Last year on Good Friday I was in New Zealand with my Mum and Joe. We didn't realise all the supermarkets shut in NZ on Good Friday, plus you cannot buy alcohol anywhere... not even in restaurants. We hadn't stocked up on provisions so we ate an evening meal of crisps, apples and some chocolate which was all we managed to buy. All washed down with tea while we played cards! Yet we had one of the best evenings of the holiday and laughed til we cried. I think the food might be better this year... and there is wine chilling in the fridge!
Mum, helpless with laughter on Good Friday last year... not sure why she was wearing Joe's sunglasses indoors!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Never Mind the Weather

Do you remember a couple of months ago when I embroidered this piece of net? I was inspired by the weather forecast and at the time I hoped it wasn't going to snow... but it did! I didn't expect it to still be snowing a couple of months later... but I digress!
This piece of work was passed on to Catherina who could do with it what she wished... even cut it up!

However, she decided not to cut it up  or alter it but instead very cleverly added a backing. She stitched a woodland scene with snowdrops.

And then hung the stitched net over the top like a curtain.

So the whole scene can be viewed through a snowy veil of net.

I think it is quite ingenious and I would never have thought of doing that. This now has to be passed to the next member in the group for another contribution.

As part of the same project I received Catherina's initial textile which was a sun dyed cloth, covered with weather related images...

such as feathers to represent the wind and snow flakes to represent... well, snow obviously! (We can't get away from the stuff can we!)

I dithered for quite a long time wondering what contribution I could add to this cloth and then when I read Catherina's post about how meaningful birds have been in her life recently it seemed obvious that I should make a bird. Immediately my mind was racing and I had in mind a fabulous cockerel... a Weather Vane... how clever would that be to link back into the theme. But then I had to stop and remember that this needs to be passed on to three more people and it is no good me having a finished project in mind.

So what I have made is less a weather vane and more like a weather pigeon.

I'm not at all happy with the end result but had to stop myself adjusting and adding to him. I very much wanted to add embroidery to the wings like the lovely bird in this post but had to stop myself. The urge to finish something is rather strong but I need to leave it be and let the next person in the group add their mark.

We don't meet again until the end of April and I expect it will be a while before other changes are made to these projects but I'll show you the results when that happens... perhaps by then it will be warm and sunny. I can but hope. Meanwhile perhaps I should make myself a bird with embroidered wings?
You can read about Catherina's story of this project here.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Ziggy Played Guitar

Despite waking up to a blanket of snow   (come on... it's almost April and I really have had enough!) we decided to brave the weather and head into London for the day. Our first stop was the V & A for David Bowie is, the retrospective exhibition of "the most inspirational musical figure of the past 40 years"
It didn't disappoint. The collection of handwritten lyrics, costumes, photography, album artwork and videos set against an innovative sound system that changed as we moved through the exhibits was fascinating. Admittedly it was padded out by lots of extraneous material which probably could be irritating... not sure why we needed a framed map of Berlin just becuse Bowie lived there... but both Stewart and I are great fans. My formative teenage years were played aginst a backdrop of his music, I had my hair cut like Ziggy Stardust and was known to go out wearing Aladdin Sane make-up (and I'm grateful no photographs exist!) So we both felt it was a great exhibition and I'll definitely go back again. Although to be fair you probably do need to be a fan to enjoy it.

I particularly liked some of the Alexander McQueen costumes such as this Union Jack coat... and of course the music... it still makes my spine tingle! After a quick lunch, we hopped on the tube again and made our way to Somerset House for  Wool House, an exhibition finishing this weekend, that showcases the various ways wool can be used to inhabit a space.

This was a fascinating exhibition with contributions from a wide range of designers and craftspeople. I loved these huge felted hangings by Claudy Jongstra
It was also an exhibition full of humour and I loved the quirky knitted creatures by Donna Wilson that featured in the fabulous nursery that she had created. And it was also fun to see the brilliant crochetdermy bear by Shauna Richardson. Not sure I would want him standing in my hall though!

Leaving Somerset House we decided to walk to Russell Square to the next exhibition... just as the snow decided to fall harder! But not to be deterred we carried on to the University of London Brunei Gallery for another exhibition that finished today - World Eco-Fibre and Textile Art.

It featured some beautiful woven, dyed and embroidered textiles, alongside some contemporary textile art and jewellery but yet it failed to wow me like I thought it would. I would even go as far as to say I was a little disappointed and glad I hadn't made the trip into town just to see this, which was a shame as it came highly recommended. Maybe I was too tired and three exhibitions in a day was just too much... and after all... Ziggy had played Guitar today... and you can't beat that!

Friday, 22 March 2013

Knitting.. Knot as you know it!

Instead of meeting at our usual cafe in Hertford, our knitting group met at my house this morning. It was a bit of a special occasion being Val's birthday so I thought we could celebrate with cake (of course!)... and then decided nothing else but a knitting cake would fit the bill. But it didn't quite go according to plan...
I should know better but I attempted to finish off the decoration last night about half an hour before I was due to go out... big mistake! In a rush to melt the white chocolate it seized and went lumpy. I gave it a good stir and thought I could get away with it but it blocked the nozzle of the icing tube, creating big blobs and the result was a rather ugly squiggly knotted mess! I was so cross I nearly binned the lot. But I finished it off this morning with a fresh lot of chocolate and think I just about got away with it... at least Val recognised it as knitting! I'm just glad my real knitting is not as messy as that!

And after a rather lovely brunch of delicious homemade granola, made by Gill, poached fruit (a bit of a joke as we always ask for poached fruit from the menu in the cafe... and they never have it!), yoghurt, croissants and jam, all washed down with bucks fizz, we had a super morning sharing our knitting stories... and stitching. And then of course, eating cake!

A perfect Friday morning... and a perfect start to the weekeend!
Hope you all have a good weekend. We've got plans to head into London to see some exhibitions tomorrow but I don't like the look of the weather forecast!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Permission to Play

Although I have never regretted, even for one second, my decision to stop my Masters degree, I do miss the dicipline that working through a degree course gave me. Somehow, self imposed deadlines don't have the same impact... they are too easily moved! As a result, even when I've felt inspired as I did back in October, life seems to get in the way and there is always next week to get those ideas down on paper and to actually create something with them. But lately this has been really getting me down... and I'm fed up listening to myself complain about it!
So today I decided to give myself permission to play. Nothing amazing or earth shattering but just some time to doodle in my sketchbook using inks and wax resist and a bit of felt tip pen.

I want to do some work inpspired by Frida Kahlo and this is my starting point.

And I have decided that for one day each week I will block out a day in my diary that is for experimenting, playing and research in an attempt to get back some of my drive and enthusiasm. Will you nag me to make sure I'm doing it? Perhaps I should make it a weekly blog post then you'll know if I've kept to my word!

Friday, 15 March 2013

A Bake Sale

Several weeks ago, when watching the Great Comic Relief Bake Off I had the idea that it would be fun to hold my own bake sale to raise some cash for Comic Relief.
I started to spread the word around and was very relaxed and laid back about the whole thing... after all, March 15th was weeks away and I had loads of time to stock my freezer with baked goods.

By Monday this week, my laid back approach had been abandoned and replaced with sheer panic as I realised that the one loaf of banana bread lurking in my freezer did not constitute a bake sale.

So with pinny on and mixer in hand I worked from dusk til dawn all day Wednesday and Thursday to produce a decent selection of baked goods.

You wouldn't believe the vast quantities of butter and sugar that have been whipped into shape around here!

Cookies, cupcakes and macaroons...

The bunting was up....

The table was laid.... and then my sheer panic changed from not having enough cake to worrying that not enough people would turn up. What if I was left with all this cake!

But fear not. My kitchen has been full of people all morning who have drunk tea, eaten cake, taken cake away with them and what's more important have dug deep into their pockets. Thank you all so much! (You were also kind enough to leave just enough cake to keep my menfolk happy!)

And despite Gill's disappointment that Paul Hollywood didn't turn up, between us we have raised £297.45* for Comic Relief!
And if you would like to help this fabulous cause there is still a chance to bid for the Red Nose Day Dolls, or add to their sponsorship page... total so far is a fantastic £2400! All the money goes to Comic Relief.
* Thanks to Stewart, Joe, my class on Saturday, Gill's Mum and other friends this has now gone up to £350!
Thank you!!!!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

On my needles...

I have a rather gorgeous scarf...  (Liz Corke's Storm Warning)
When I saw Annie's version a few weeks ago I knew it would be the perfect project for some rather beautiful sock yarn I've been hoarding. The lovely deep variagated red Madelinetosh wool seemed to good to use on my feet... but I can't wait to wrap it around my shoulders.

It is a lovely pattern with the cable and beaded edge offering enough of a challenge to keep it interesting, yet I can just about manage it whilst watching TV... except for all the beads I keep losing down the side of the sofa. I think it is a good indicator of how cold it is at the moment that I have also managed to get quite a few projects off my needles recently... (I always knit more in the winter)

a pair of socks for me...

a tiny little cardigan for my new great niece... born just yesterday. I had so much fun finding all those different coloured buttons from my stash.

Another little cardigan for Anna's new grandson. This is Annie's beautiful Demne pattern and it really is the most gorgeous drapey little jacket.

And perhaps most impressive of all, I finished this scarf which has been on the needles for ever. It is a pattern from the Rowan magazine no. 26... which was published 13 years ago... which was probably just about when I started it! I would often pick it up for a few nights and then abandon it for a new project and it just never seemed to get finished.

But I needed the needles for yet another new project and rather than buy another set, it spured me on to finish. I'm rather glad it did because I actually quite like it... and if this cold weather persists I'm going to need it!

Annie has written a post all about this today... starting new projects, hoarding yarns, whether to frog or to finish. I guess there are lots of us the same when it comes to knitting! Do you suffer from knitter's guilt too?