Monday, 10 June 2019

On the subject of mice




Meow meow everyone, it's Flo here! I've told you in the past of my love for little furry critters. If you need a reminder, then take a look here. The other day, Mum was tidying up my toys. I appear to have quite a lot of them! This is my mouse collection - pretty impressive, huh? I have a mouse for every occasion, a bit like having a handbag for each outfit I believe.




Even though I love all of these dearly, there is nothing quite like the real thing. My furry pals have been gathering in the garden and I thought it was only polite to invite them in. As I'm a thoughtful cat and I know that they would struggle to get in through the cat flap, I carry them in myself, ever so gently in my mouth. Then of course I let them free and we have a little scamper round together.

Mum wasn't impressed when she found me playing with one of my mice chums the other morning. We were in the middle of a game of hide and seek by her shoes and she was such a spoil sport, catching the mouse and depositing it back outside. (I've noticed her looking inside her shoes every morning since!!!)




But Mum didn't realise that I'd made it 'Open House' and invited all and sundry in. Imagine her surprise when another one of my rodent mates popped out from under the sofa and headed over to the fire place! She told me to do my duty as Chief Mouser (I must admit that did sound quite an important job) so I dutifully sat staring at the fireplace for a few minutes, just to keep her happy. Don't tell her, but I actually had a snooze while I had my back to her!




Since then, I've noticed lots of little boxes appearing around the house. Mum says that they are special houses for mice but they look rather small to me. Not even room to swing a ..... (now cat just sounds wrong) but you get what I'm saying! She says they will be much happier inside there nice and cosy, and she's even put some food in there for them! I was quite happy sharing my bowl with them. Mum keeps asking me how many friends I've got staying over, but truth be told, I've lost count! Am I a bad cat for wanting to help the homeless mice of Norfolk? Meow meow meow! xxx




Sunday, 2 June 2019

200 more Crochet Stitches - a review




I have a real treat for all you crocheters and wannabe-crocheters out there today! Back in April I reviewed another of Tracey Todhunter's books - Crochet Learn it Love it, and I'm thrilled to be sharing another of Tracey's books with you today. The book is called 200 more Crochet Stitches, with the description 'a practical guide with swatches, charts and step-by-step instructions.'  Tracey, who blogs over at Granny Cool Crochet, is a well-known, popular crochet designer with more than 20 years of teaching crochet and she has filled this book to the absolute brim with some of the most amazing crochet stitches you could imagine. I'm more adventurous with my knitting than my crochet, but with the help of this book, I was able to be brave and dip my toes into the crochet world beyond the granny square. 




As well as a huge directory of stitches, this book also has a brilliant Crochet Skills section so that even a beginner could use this book to expand on their crochet skills as it takes you through materials, equipment, basic techniques and stitches. The Stitch Directory is divided into 12 sections: Basic Stitches, Fans and Shells, Clusters, Puffs and Popcorns, Spike Stitches, Raised Stitches, Mesh and Filet, Lace and Openwork, Waves and Chevrons, Textured Stitches, Tunisian Stitches, Colourwork and Edgings. The contents pages very clearly show each stitch with a colour photo, so if you know the kind of stitch you're looking for, it's dead easy to go straight to the page needed. 







Each stitch not only has a clear, colour, actual size photo, but also comes with step-by-step photos, written instructions and charts which I found incredibly helpful. Having only just started to read crochet charts when I reviewed Tracey's other book, I challenged myself to become more proficient in this skill as I tried out some of the stitches. As I read each instruction, I then looked at the corresponding chart and tried to crochet following that. And do you know what? It actually became a lot easier the more I tried. (I was exactly the same with knitting, preferring written instructions to charts, but persevered and now prefer the simplicity of the charts - much quicker and less cluttered than all that reading!) Tracey also offers suggestions for the sorts of projects that can be made from the different stitch patterns which is very helpful. I picked out a few stitches that caught my eye to have a play...


*** Braided Stripes***



*** Picot Fans ***



*** Flower Garden ***




I really like this book and I know that it's going to be a fabulous source of inspiration for me as I would really like to do some more crochet designs. Only one thing would have made it even better and that would be to make it a spiral bound book, so that the pages stay open at the chosen stitch more easily. But I guess as it gets more use, that will happen naturally. I don't think it's going to take too long!

200 more Crochet Stitches by Tracey Todhunter is published by Search Press and is available now. 

ISBN: 978-1-78221-663-6

RRP: £14.99

Search Press have very generously offered to give a copy of this book to one lucky person. I'm really sorry but due to publishing restrictions, it's only available to people in the UK. If you'd like to be in with a chance of winning this brilliant crochet book, please leave me a comment and also a way to contact you if you're the winner (Ravelry/Instagram name or email address.) The giveaway will run until midnight on Sunday 9th June and then a winner will be randomly selected. If I don't hear back from the winner within a week, I will pick another one! Good luck to all you UK crocheters and may the power of the hook be with you! xxx


Sunday, 26 May 2019

Friday, 10 May 2019

Peering out through the fog


Do you ever get times when even the most straightforward things seem nigh on impossible? It's a bit like that for me at the moment. I feel like I'm stuck in the fog and can't quite find my way out. I don't seem to be able to settle to do anything much. I even had to give up on a sock when after 4 attempts at the cuff, I couldn't manage the ribbing! I'd even done several rounds without noticing that I'd cast on an odd number of stitches! Seriously! I think it's caused by the medication I'm on - steroids can cause 'brain fog' apparently. So I'm riding the storm with a very mindless, longstanding WIP. It's a poncho that I started knitting way, way back using yarn that I'd started knitting a jumper for Mr JK in. I frogged that and found a lovely Rowan pattern, Caliban, using the Rowan Brushed Fleece yarn. It is incredibly soft and light and when I'm wearing it, it really will be like having a hug from Mr JK. I have no idea why it's been languishing so long in the WIP mountain, but as the pattern is already set up, it's reasonably easy to keep it going. I am being very strict counting rows and keeping a tally as I decrease the stitches. I'm about three quarters done so hopefully I will be able to wear it very soon. Flo approves of it wholeheartedly, and thinks it has plenty of snuggle potential! 




Before brain fog set in, I managed to get some secret knitting finished and posted (more about this in a couple of months!) and I also knit one of my hospital consultants a pair of socks. The pattern is my own - Kali Kardia - and I used my shade of the Head over Heels All Stars yarn - Woldgate.






I haven't been able to get to see the bluebells at Blickling this year as it's just too far for me to walk at the moment but luckily I've got some in the garden to enjoy, along with forget-me-nots. I love these pretty spring flowers, it's such a feel-good moment when little splashes of blue and purple start appearing in the garden.





I have no business whatsoever to be buying yarn as I have quite enough to last me for many years to come! But I decided that I needed a little cheering up and so I paid an online visit to Pixie Yarns. I love Sophie's dyeing. I chose two skeins so they could keep each other company on their journey to Norfolk! Aren't they just beautiful? And they both have sparkles! At the moment, they are still at the 'admire and squish' stage.







I have a new (not quite daily) indulgence - hot chocolate with squirty cream and marshmallows! It's a little sweet treat that is soooooooooo good! I'm not usually a fan of cream but it just kind of melts into the hot chocolate along with the marshmallows - mmmmmmmmm! What's your favourite indulgence? xxx





Sunday, 28 April 2019

Oh baby!


Amidst all the secret knitting currently going on at josiekitten hq, I have been busy with some baby knits. Baby Dorothy was born seven weeks ago and I made her a little cardigan and hat using some Stylecraft Merry Go Round yarn in Dark Rainbow. I managed to get both cardigan and hat out of one ball. 









Mum was so pleased with them that she asked if I would knit another one - 'the brighter the better'! So not one to be defeated by a challenge like that, I dived deep  into my stash and found another ball of Merry Go Round, this time in Rainbow. 






The pattern is my own; it's not been published yet as I am working on some more variations at the moment. It's lucky that I've got such a grateful recipient willing to test out my baby knits! I met baby Dorothy or Dottie as she is called this week. She is such a sweetie. I made her a pair of ruby slippers. They are too big at the moment, but at the rate she's growing, it won't be long before she has sparkly toes! The pattern is called Saartje's Bootees and you can find it here on Ravelry. I used Stylecraft's Wondersoft Stardust yarn - it has just the right amount of sparkle - and little star buttons finished them off perfectly. They are so cute, I'd quite like a grown up pair for me!






Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway to win a copy of Tracey Todhunter's book. The random number generator picked PixieFoxtrot as the winner and I have messaged her on Ravelry. There will be another crochet book giveaway soon as I have another of Tracey's brilliant books to review. Catch up with you all again soon. xxx

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Crochet Learn it. Love it. - a review




I was delighted to receive a copy of a couple of Tracey Todhunter's books recently. The book I'm reviewing today is called Crochet Learn it. Love it. with the description 'Techniques and projects to build a lifelong passion, for beginners up'. Although I have been crocheting almost as many years as I have been knitting, my crochet skills haven't really progressed much beyond granny squares and in recent months, some of Lucy Attic24's blankets. I first came across Tracey last year when she offered to donate a couple of her books as prizes in my Great Yarn Giveaway. (I can't believe that was a whole year ago!) Tracey, who blogs over at GrannyCoolCrochet, is a well-known, popular crochet designer with more than 20 years of experience teaching crochet, so I felt I would be in very safe hands. 




The book is divided into five very comprehensive chapters: Essential Skills, Working in the Round, Stitch Patterns, Finishing Touches and Taking Your Skills Furthers. Within each chapter, there are some really lovely projects so you can have a go at practising your newly acquired skills, as well as a Be Inspired page with links to other patterns. I loved this feature as it showed you what you could achieve with your new skills. 




Some of the projects you can make from this book...






Each chapter is really clearly set out, packed with helpful photos, charts, tips and crochet clinics. I almost felt as if Tracey was sat there beside me, encouraging me as I worked my way through the book. Despite my years of crocheting, I learnt a lot in the very first chapter about shaping crochet, tension and reading crochet charts which in all honesty I have found pretty terrifying in the past! And as I progressed through the book, I had a go at various stitches and learnt a huge amount. Here are just a very few of them...


*** A Granny hexagon ***



*** Crocheting a circle in a square ***



*** Spiked Stitches ***



*** Bobbles ***



*** Filet crochet ***



*** Colourwork ***



*** Beaded Crochet ***



In the final chapter, Taking Your Skills Further, Tracey introduces you to Tunisian crochet, Hairpin crochet and Broomstick crochet, so it really is an excellent book, not only for complete beginners, but also for crocheters who want to improve their skills. I know that it's going to be a very useful addition to my bookshelf. 

Crochet. Learn it. Love it. by Tracey Todhunter is published by Search Press and is available now. 

ISBN: 978-1-78221-727-5

RRP: £12.99


Search Press have very generously offered to give a copy of this book to one lucky person. I'm really sorry but due to publishing restrictions, it's only available to people in the UK. If you'd like to be in with a chance of winning this brilliant crochet book, please leave me a comment and also a way to contact you if you're the winner (Ravelry/Instagram name or email address.) The giveaway will run until midnight on April 22nd (Easter Monday) and then a winner will be randomly selected. If I don't hear back from the winner within a week, I will pick another one! Good luck to all you UK crocheters and may the power of the hook be with you! xxx