Sunday, 26 April 2020

On Safari

No, your eyes aren't deceiving you! Today I'm taking you on an animal safari! You'll need a bit of imagination, but bear with and I'm sure you'll enjoy yourself. Let me explain before you think that I've gone completely and utterly bonkers so soon into lockdown! 

Last month, it was little Dorothy's first birthday and her mummy and daddy had an open house so people could call in for a cuppa and some cake to celebrate Dottie's special day. I wanted to give her something that hopefully she would be able to enjoy looking at and playing with and while I was searching online for some  inspiration, I came across a fabric panel from Moda that made a cloth book. Dottie's parents are very appreciative of handmade things so I thought that they would probably like it too. I ordered the panel, along with a couple more for other gifts, and when it arrived, I spent an evening cutting out all the different pieces and pinning them together with their corresponding letter labels. There were printed instructions on the panel and once I got going, it was pretty straightforward to put it all together. See what you think...

Isn't it lovely? The pocket on the back with the little finger puppets inside is so sweet too. I've bought the panel to sew four safari animals as well so they're hopefully going to get stitched this week. I've got some crinkly paper to sew inside the elephant's ears, a shaker and a couple of squeakers too. So each toy should make some kind of noise. It's just a shame that I won't be able to give them to Dottie in person, but I'm sure her mum will send me a video of her playing with them. Have you done any sewing lately? I've got some free motion projects to share with you, but those will have to wait for another day! Keep safe and well. xxx

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Operation Yarn Shop Love (or what to do if you're having a yarn crisis)

I've seen quite a few posts shared on social media about how knitters and crocheters have been preparing for lockdown for years by stashing away yarn. But no matter how well organised you are, there may well come a time that you realise you're about to have a Serious. Yarn. Situation. You don't have enough yarn of a particular colour to complete a project, or perhaps you just want something new as a treat whilst we are all being encourage to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. I do have a sizeable stash mini-yarn shop here, yet I'm in danger of running out of yarn in my temperature blanket. You may remember at the start of the year I shared my idea of crocheting a temperature blanket. You can read more about it here. I planned out my colours, and bought one ball of each colour to start with. Of course, I've used a lot of some colours already while others haven't even been touched yet. In fact, I'm in danger of running out of three different colours within a couple of weeks (unless of course the British weather does something weird!) Before long, I'll be out of Denim, Storm Blue and Sage. It's not something that I want to put on the back burner because it's the kind of project that I need to keep on top of, or it'll end up in the naughty corner and won't get finished. So I was delighted to read about a new initiative called #Yarn Shop Love.

The UK Hand Knitting Association, whose members include the largest yarn brands in the country, has recently launched a campaign together with five leading craft publishers to support local yarn shops across the UK – “Yarn Shop Love”

As if doing business on the high street wasn’t tough enough, yarn shops are facing a once-in-a-lifetime challenge to stay in business during this difficult time.  Through social media and regular newsletters, the initiative will be actively promoting the unique benefits of local yarn shops during quarantine to the 7 million knitters and crocheters across the UK.  Though the doors may be shut, many yarn shops are still able to offer an online or mail order service, helpful and expert advice, personal shopping on Facetime, virtual craft groups and workshops. It’s more important than ever to support our local shops, wherever they are. 

Bricks and mortar yarn shops are absolute gems and we really do need to treasure them. When I was a child, there was a yarn shop on almost every high street. Although I do a lot of my yarn shopping online now, especially since I've been unwell and going out is much more difficult for me, there is nothing quite like seeing a ball or skein of yarn in the flesh, to be able to appreciate the colours, the softness, the lustre, the squishiness ... Sadly, the local yarn shops have become a bit of an endangered species, and with the current situation where they are having to remain closed, they may well be forced to close for good. That's why I'm so pleased to see this new initiative. 

But why do yarn shops matter?  Knitting and crochet are incredibly popular crafts in this country.  Not only is crafting a way to occupy ourselves as we spend more time at home, but there are significant and documented benefits to our mental health when we knit or crochet.  And you’re never too young or too old to give it a try.

Annabelle Hill, Chair of UKHKA’s Promotions Committee says: “Yarn shops and the communities they build around them have an important part to play in our retail landscape.  We are here to do as much as we can to support them through this challenging time, which will include tutorials and advice about how to harness social media and apps such as Zoom.”

UK Hand Knitting has a map and regional listings of local yarn shops on their site and will also start to host virtual knitting groups twice a week to help people stay in touch and craft together, details of which will be on the UK Hand Knitting Facebook page. I've looked at the list for Norfolk and discovered a couple of yarn shops that I didn't know about previously. How can that have happened?!  I used to plan our holidays meticulously and would always manage to 'come across' several yarn shops on our travels! But I didn't know about a couple almost on my doorstep! 

There is an online knitting group who will be meeting up this evening at 7pm and I'm seriously tempted to join them. It'll be ok if I'm in my PJs won't it? Why not join in too? Keep calm folks, cast on and carry on knitting and crocheting! xxx

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Reasons to be cheerful

Thanks for stopping by, make yourself comfy whilst you look through some of the things that have brought me some cheer over the last week or so. It's very easy to let things get you down, but I'm determined to keep positive and look on my shielding as a good thing, because it's keeping me safe. 

*** Number 1 ***
*** Noticing the little changes in the garden each day ***

These tulips were bulbs that Mr JK and I brought back from one of our trips to Amsterdam. They have been totally neglected since Mr JK died, but they pop up year after year, as a reminder of many happy weekends away. 

*** Number 2 ***
*** Celebrating a friend's birthday with virtual cake! ***

When you can't meet up for cake and drinks, what's better than having a virtual party with friends?! 

*** Number 3 ***
*** The kindness of Instagram friends ***

I received a surprise parcel in the post from an Instagram friend, Flora Honeypot. She wanted to send a virtual hug to people who were having to self-isolate. What a sweetie she is! As well as an adult colouring book/journal, she sent me a beautiful skein of yarn, a dpn holder, a yarny pencil, a tea bag and a lovely card. Thank you so much!

*** Number 4 ***
*** More rainbows! ***

After releasing my free pattern for Rainbow Ripple trainer socks last week, I have knitted another pair for a friend who works in the NHS. These will be heading to her as soon as I can possibly manage it (hopefully when I get my next food delivery from a friend.) Using a solid colour yarn for the heel and toe means that I should hopefully manage to get another 3 pairs from this skein, again from Fab Funky Fibres. I was very excited to see my pattern get into the top 40 'What's hot now' patterns for a couple of days too!

*** Number 5 ***
*** The weather! ***

I know there's nothing more us Brits like to talk about that the weather, but last week was definitely a week of contrasts. I introduced two new colours into my Highs blanket squares as the temperature hit 22 degrees. A couple of days later, the high only reached 8 degrees! It's not time to pack away the winter woollies yet, that's for sure!

*** Number 6 ***
*** Drinking tea ***

Another very British thing, drinking tea! And I have to have it in the right mug for the time of day too. Is it just me or do you have favourite mugs? I have a newly discovered tea and it's sooo good. I've always drunk Yorkshire Tea and found that they'd brought out a new variety called Biscuit Brew. It's malty and really does taste like tea and biscuits. It might well save my waistline so that I don't munch through endless packs of biscuits and need the fire brigade to extract me from my house using a winch and crowbar at the end of isolation! If you're a tea drinker and like dunking biscuits in your tea, give it a try!

*** Number 7 ***
*** Flo ***

Flo gives me no end of reasons to be cheerful. She meows good morning when she sees me each day, wants to give me lots of head nudges and purrs throughout the day, likes nothing more than accompanying me for an inspection of the garden and loves to cuddle on my lap. She is my bestest girl, of that there is no doubt!

What's made you feel cheerful this week? Hope the coming days are good for you. Keep safe and well, won't you? xxx

Thursday, 9 April 2020

Rainbow Ripples Trainer Socks

You have probably noticed rainbows popping up everywhere at the moment. They are being used as a sign of hope and positivity, and a way of saying thank you to all those key workers who continue to do their upmost to beat the terrible Coronavirus. I love rainbows - they make me feel ridiculously happy - and I'd like to think that there really is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. My pot of gold will be staying safe and well, along with my friends and family and being out and about once again. 

I have rather a lot of rainbow yarn in my stash as you can see from this post here! I recently used a skein from Fab Funky Fibres when I was learning how to knit an afterthought heel and I had enough yarn left to knit another pair of socks. So I present to you now my Rainbow Ripple Trainer socks. Perfect for using up oddments of yarn as they don't need a huge amount. You will need 30-35g of striping yarn and 10-15g of contrast yarn for the heels and toes. You can choose to knit them using a contrast heel and toe if you like, or just use the same yarn throughout. There are no rules! The pattern is available for free from Ravelry and is written for a medium adult foot. Because the pattern is quite stretchy, I have found that it fits a variety of foot shapes and if you want it longer, that's an easy fix! Lots of indi dyers seem to be dyeing rainbow yarn right now, but if you want to spend less, then you can't go wrong with West Yorkshire Spinners Rum Paradise which is available from Wool Warehouse and other online yarn shops. Check to see if your local yarn shop is offering an online service during lockdown, as your custom will help them no end. I hope you have fun knitting them; they are super quick to knit up and before you know it, you'll have very happy feet! 
Download your copy of the pattern here now! Happy knitting and stay safe everyone! xxx

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Fibre 4 Fibres update

I realised today that I haven't given you an update on what's happening with my fundraising for Myositis UK. I'm so sorry if you've been checking in on a Friday to see what prize is up for winning at the weekend. Because I'm in the shielded group as I'm considered very high risk of developing serious complications if I was to get COVID-19, I've been instructed to stay at home for at least the next 12 weeks. I therefore decided to put the weekly raffles on hold as I can't get to the post office and I don't feel that I can ask anyone to go to the post office to do something that would be considered as 'non-essential'. (I reckon I could argue that yarn is essential to my wellbeing though!) So for the time being, until I am allowed back out into the big wide world, there won't be any raffles. Please rest assured that I will be starting them up as soon as I can, and have lots of prizes to give away. My Just Giving page is currently at £2,680 and I will add to that with donations from any pattern sales over the  coming months. Thank you so much if you've bought virtual raffle tickets over the past few weeks. I am determined to reach my target of £10,000 so will be carrying on the raffles until I've done so. I will be shouting the relaunch of the Fibre 4 Fibres raffles from the rooftops, you can be sure of that! Take care in the meantime and keep well. xxx