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    Friday
    Oct312014

    Provisional Cast on tutorial

    Quick blog post to let you know that I've recorded a couple of videos on how to do provisional cast ons. Especially useful if you are taking part in the Woolly Wormhead Mystery Hat-a-long which starts tomorrow. Hope these are helpful x

    Tuesday
    Oct212014

    Book review: 'Hook, stitch & give' by Kat Goldin - part 1

    Have you seen Kat's new book? It's a book full or original projects designed to be ideal as gifts. Or, if you are me, to keep all for yourself!

    Back in the spring, Kat managed to end up moving house at shortish notice with her family while in the middle of writing this book with a tight deadline. She appealed to some fellow crocheters that she has met/worked with before to see if we could help her with some of the samples for the book. I made the utterly gorgeous knitterly cowl & the everyone (needs) socks. The patterns were both clear & easy to follow - although there were some issues with the sock sizing chart - which has now been changed! The yarns were lovely - especially the Malabrigo Twist, which I hadn't used before. The cowl nearly didn't get sent - it matched my winter coat so perfectly!

    Kat was also the photographer for the book so I got to see some of the images of the cowl early. And then I didn't mind so much as the (male) model was so pretty! Tough day at the office there, Kat!

    So when the book came out in September, Kat kindly sent me a copy. This was as a gift - she didn't ask me to do a review. And if I hadn't liked it - I wouldn't have done! Luckily I do like it and have already made the cover hat. As a gift - for me!

    The book is divided into sections, starting with the technical stuff with stitch illustrations - and tips on reading crochet patterns. I know from teaching workshops that lots of crocheters struggle with understanding patterns so it's nice to have a good clear explanation.

    ©Kat Goldin

    Chapter 1 is 'For the home'. Now I'm not really bothered about knit or crochet homewares. I like blankets, but don't really do cushions, or shelf decorations or the other things you tend to find in crochet books. Bizarrely the pot holders in this really appeal to me! Although I would be tempted to substitute cross stitch hazard symbols for the pretty folksy images here. You know, things like 'toxic' or 'biohazard'. But that's just me! I also thought the puff stitch chair pads were really pretty .

    Chapter 2 is 'For her'. The gorgeous blue shawl is a real showstopper & would (again) be an ideal gift for me. I've already made the slouch & bobble hat - I'll talk about that next time. It's very quick and gives endless opportunities for playing with colour. I would even consider making it as an actual present for somebody else *gasps*. There's also a couple of pretty capelets & a waterfall cardigan, which are pretty and wearable. I'm a sucker for a capelet!

    Chapter 3 'For him' is my favourite chapter. But I'm going to talk about the rest of the book in part 2 to stop this being an excessively long post. For now - enjoy the lovely hat & cowl. The model is incidental. Obviously.

    Back soon for part 2 xxx

    Saturday
    Oct182014

    It's a mystery!

    Have you done a KAL or CAL before? A KAL is a knit a long, CAL is crochet a long, and they can be internet based or done by a knit group. The idea is that a group of people knit or crochet the same pattern at the same time. It's a good way to make the most of the community aspect of our crafts - and it's fun to see how different yarn choices make the same pattern look different.

    A MKAL is a type of KAL with a twist - it's a mystery! You don't know what the finished object should look like when it's finished. So you are taking a risk. But luckily it's just knitting - you can undo it if you hate it!  The mystery aspect definitely adds a fun element to the whole thing. Mystery KALs tend to be for accessories rather than garments - they don't take huge amounts of yarn & are always suitable for gifting if they're not quite to your taste.

    Woolly Wormhead does a MKAL every November. These have produced some seriously beautiful hats! This will be the 7th year, and I'm in! The pattern will go on sale soon and knitting starts on Nov 1st. All we know is that it's a hat, there are 2 styles and we will need 100g 4ply (or fingering weight) yarn. I have treated myself to a skein of gorgeous Malabrigo sock from The Wool Stop in Violeta Africana. It's a lovely hand dyed purple. Yes I know I have a lot of purple knits. But I wear them all the time! In fact the last hat I made is also purple - I may have a problem! 

    While I was thinking about Woolly's Hat a long, I had a quick look at other MKALs and stumbled upon one by a designer that's new to me. It only cost $2, it's mittens, and the clincher - the name! Marie Curie MKAL, run in the 'Made with love & science' group. You might not know that I did a chemistry degree - and Marie Curie is a total girl crush for most women scientists. The only woman to have won two nobel prizes, and in two different disciplines, she was amazing. Working with her husband, she discovered radioactivity and unusually for the time worked on a par with men. How could I resist! 

    I'm loving these mittens. There's colourwork, cables and beading. I wasn't going to bother with the beads until I saw the second clue which has just been released and realised what the beads were for. I'll be buying some beads tomorrow!

    I'll show you pictures when the pattern is complete. Until then - if you fancy some interesting colourwork mittens which will look gorgeous even without the added geeky excitement of knowing what the pattern is - there really is no excuse not to buy this pattern! 

    I'll be back soon - I have to tell you what I think of Kat Goldin's new book. That may be connected to my new purple hat.....

    Sunday
    Oct052014

    More Wales

    A little later than planned - thanks to a fairly vicious tummy bug - here's the photos of our two favourite trips on our mini Welsh break. I bought a book - Wild Swimming Hidden Beaches that we decided to use as our holiday guide as we weren't going on a 'proper' holiday. But when we went over to see my sister, and when we went to Wales we got to go to places that we would never have done otherwise, and it was lovely :)

    The first beach was Porth y Rhaw. This was almost at the westerly tip of South Wales, between St Davids & Solva. The Welsh coast path goes right by this intriguing cove with a pebble beach and - the main draw - a large tidal pool deep enough for jumping in. The walk down was through a pretty wood  with a good sized lake and little waterfalls before it opens out and crosses the coast path. A minor scramble down past some big boulders led to a rocky beach. As it turns out we weren't the only ones to have this book - the only other family there had the book and the same idea! The twins nosed out the jumping rocks within seconds and scrambled along like goats. The rest of us followed rather more gingerly! We had the best day! the tide wasn't very strong, the water was cold but not bone chilling and the other family had a son a little younger than the twins & were happy to have partners in crime!

    I girded my loins and jumped in. I wasn't quite up to the twin's acrobatics, but I was the only female willing to give it a go, and I couldn't let the boys have all the fun! The jumping & swimming bit was enormous fun, but climbing the rocks without my glasses to get to the jumping points was completely terrifying! We had quite a few spectators as the path went along the green ridge you can see above the jumping rocks. The spider crabs that the book warned weren't in evidence - even I didn't reach the bottom when I jumped in. It was one of those unpredictably perfect family days - enough action to keep the twins happy, enough rocks to throw to keep Matt happy, enough privacy and a lovely family to chat to. They kindly gave me a hot cup of coffee when we had forgotten that we might need warming up. Just a really brilliant day.

    When the boys were at primary school the year 6 residential trip was at Stackpole Head - which was the other day trip we did. Barafundle beach (bottom right) was a bit of a hike from the car park and was just beautiful. Perfect, almost white sand, minimal rocks, gentle waves. But horribly icy water. I was not going in that day! We found out we're not really a perfect beach kind of family. The twins found the only bit of danger available, Matt complained bitterly about the sand, there were loads & loads of people. We had to be constantly aware of Matt as he was in a grump & the fact that he is now so tall means people get a bit twitchy if he goes to join in playing with their younger kids. He looks older than he is, so I get the reason, but he likes to play with young kids & doesn't understand why it might not be welcomed. So we had our picnic, then went for a walk up onto Stackpole Head. The landscape is amazing. Some places just feel ancient - and this was one. We walked along to the utterly terrifying Confuscius hole - literally a giant hole in the ground - not fenced off, or with any warning signs - which you can access from the sea. It might be fun to do that, but from above - just terror. Every bit of my Mum instinct wanted my kids well away! Beautiful, and I'm glad I saw it - but was even more glad to walk away! 

    If you've never been to Wales, I hope you liked seeing a tiny bit. I'll stop boring you with family photos now - the next post will probably be about crochet as Kat Goldin just sent me a copy of her lovely new book of crochet gifts (yeah, gifts for me!)

    PS - Autumn has definitely hit & I'm happy to report that my Lopi jumper is cosy & non-scratchy :)

    Tuesday
    Sep302014

    Welsh Glamping

    I forgot to tell you about our glamping trip! We had 4 days glamping over the summer, which was new to us. We've camped a lot in the past - but this time we had proper beds with proper pillows :)

    We went to Cwm Ty Coed near Carmarthen. After much consultation on Facebook, I found out that it was pronounced Coom tea coyd. Kind of. There were 2 tipis and 3 bell tents, and we were in one of the tipis. They were lovely - all 5 of us fit in nicely. There were beds with duvets, sheepskin rugs, welsh wool blankets, storage boxes, solar fairy lights, hanging candles and a chimenea on a rush floor. The tipi only needed to have sleeping & storage stuff as there was a seperate covered camp kitchen for each tent, and your own washing up area & UV filtered spring water tap. Perfect!

    That's our tipi! And the really practical camp kitchen with bottled gas stove. There was a large fire pit with logs to sit on, and deck chairs. Wheelbarrows were provided for transport between the car park & the tents.The sweet little caravan was the site's shop, which ran on an honesty policy. There were ducks & chickens in the camping field, and you could collect the eggs for breakfast. The cabin in the centre top picture had electricity so was handy for recharging phones and had a collection of books & games in case of bad weather. The zip wire by the cabin was very popular with all the kids. The owners would also set up an outside cinema with a blanket & cushion covered straw bale sofa & tea lights on cable reel tables - you can see the photo above. The farm dogs were friendly and kept our boys entirely happy! There were composting toilets on site - which we were a little wary of after our previous encounter with them.

    But look! Even they were lovely - and because the site was so small, they stayed clean and absolutely fine to use. The showers felt fairly open - the top of the shower cubicles were open to the elements, but above head height & the water was gas heated so it was a nce mix between back to basics & luxury!

    I hope the site doesn't get much bigger - part of the charm is the amount of space and privacy . The tipi was great for us because of the huge amount of head room, and we had hot water bottles to add to the cosy-ness! The bell tents each had a wood burning stove, which is vented outside the tent so they would be my choice for a younger family. In fact there were kids from around 18months to 19yrs when we were there. The younger ones loved the freedom of running around, the ducks, chickens & sheep in the next field. The older kids (all boys) liked the dogs & building fires!

    I would absolutely reccomend a stay at Cwm Ty Coed - the owners are lovely and the site is charming. It would be a brilliant place for a large family gathering. In fact the whole site was booked for the weekend (which was why we only stayed for 4 days) for a 50th birthday party. Sounds like a great plan- just hope I don't have to wait until I'm 50!!

    I'll put some holiday photos up tomorrow as the welsh coast is so spectacular, and you might not have seen it before x