Sunday, December 14, 2014

Stanley's Going on Holiday - and taking me with him!

Just a little note to say that we are setting off to Australia for three weeks. I will try to do the odd post but will be using my phone so please blur your eyes to pretend the image quality is still there. I will be over here on Instagram and tend to check in most days.
In the meantime, the house is a bit fraught with packing, cleaning, degangreening and getting ready for our house sitters who will be looking after all our pets. It is so lovely to know that they will be holding the fort but such a huge thing making the house 'safe' for them......
AND filling my Kindle up with enough books to keep me happy for the next few weeks. That part is fun and I'll keep you up to date as I go. One of my favourite reads for the past few weeks though is 'Stiltsville' by Susanna Daniel  which is such a lovely read. She also wrote 'Sea Creatures' which I adored. Go and check them out.
I had better get back to the grindstone and make sure that we still have passports. They are quite important I hear.
Lots and lots of love,
Kate. xxooxxxooxxoooo.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Dipped Crochet Christmas Baubles!

 I've been meaning to play around with dipping crochet baubles in paint for a while but this year seems to be rapidly crawling away from me. Luckily this morning I've been working on some crafts to do with Hugo's class tomorrow and had some paint out to play with. I love how they have turned out - the pink one was actually made with spray paint and had some glad wrap masking taped around the top. I just wish that they were dry enough when I took the photo to squeeze them back into shape...

 I will definitely be doing some more of this!
Lots and lots of love,

Monday, December 8, 2014

Rose Petal Jam

As you have probably gathered by now, I am passionate about my roses. I not only love them for their beauty, scent, etc.... but also for the way they connect me with my mum and grandmother. This is Albertine which is one of our shared favourites and is suddenly flourishing this year over the archway leading into our garden.
 Another rose I love in the garden is an unnamed variety (to me anyway) which has large, deeply fragrant, pink flowers. On Saturday it was bowing under the weight of so many roses, many about to drop their perfect petals and so, I set about making rose petal jam from this recipe.
It was magical to have the air fill with rose petal steam.
 And pretty. Pretty beyond belief.
 The best thing is that now I have lots of little jars to give as Christmas presents. Hopefully I might even keep one or two for winter when I start going into rose withdrawal. 
This is the beautiful bright pink rose that gave up its petals for jam (with some Pierre de Ronsard blooms keeping company)....
Lots and lots of love,
Kate. xxooxx.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

My Little Friends.

We are a restless, relentless bunch of creative people aren't we - always shooting off in different directions and finding inspiration in the most unlikely of places. I feel so blessed to have a community of likeminded people meeting through our blogs. Can you imagine if we were all still isolated in our little spaces without having this connection together! 
I've recently started a new project, crocheting little costumes for vintage Playmobil people and photographing them as they go about their daily lives (they are very busy). I popped a couple of photos onto Instagram and would you believe that there is a whole universe doing similar things (but without the crochet)!
 "What's new pussycat...."
 I am so enjoying this project and the boys are too.
 Even the little figurines are getting into it - this guy went a bit overboard with his posing though....
 All the possibilities - it really is one of my favourite things to do.

These littlies are so excited about decorating the tree, hopefully the snow will subside long enough for them to get started.
Lots of love,
Kate. xxooxx.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

How to Hang Pompoms Macrame Style - a tutorial.

BREAKING NEWS - Before we go any further, it's time to get the last orders of 2014 in  for 'Stanley and the Hot Air Balloon' as I am going to be shutting the shop for the holidays this Friday. Postage is still free but having run out of Christmas magnets, I will pop in extra postcards depicting Stanley's first Christmas. Thank you!

How to Hang a Pompom Macrame Style!

In New Zealand we have Christmas in Summer. I love it, I really do. However, it makes decorating the Christmas tree with winter ornaments a bit strange. And yet in the southern hemisphere, it's something we do although as you may have noticed from my last post, my tree is beginning to look more summery with every passing year. So for a twist, I came up with this tutorial, combining a pompom snowball with neon cord.

Wool/ yarn
Cord/ string

To begin, find some wool and follow my tutorial to make a quick 5 minute pompom - I used white yarn but any colour (or colours) would work well. 

Cut 4 lengths of cord of at least 120cm long.

Double the cord so the ends are all together and make a knot about 10 cm down from the doubled over end. This will form a loop to hang the pompom with.
 I put the loop around the top of a chair and then secure the top with a piece of masking tape. There should be 8 lengths of cord to work with.
Begin to divide the 8 lengths of cord into pairs. Take the first pair and tie an overhand knot (a single knot). Measure the next pair against the first knot worked and mark the spot with your thumb. Tie an overhand knot at the marked place. Continue to do the same with the last two pairs.
Move down to the next section to be worked which should be approx. 2-3cms below the first set of knots.
 Gather one cord from one pair and match it up with a length of cord from the next pair. Tie together with an overhand knot.
 Tie the unused cord from the last pair with a length of cord from the next pair. Continue to tie the cords, one from each pair until for more knots have been formed.
 Like this! See how it forms a circle.
 Working another 2-3cms down from the 2nd set of knots made, repeat the process again, working in a circle taking one cord from two neighbouring pairs and tying them together.
 Pop your pompom in to see where you need to tie off.
Mark with your thumb...
And then tie all 8 lengths together.
 I would love to make a million of these but I don't think I am going to have time. Imagine having them attached to the back of everyone's chairs for Christmas lunch and or having them festooned around the trees outside.
For the time being I have them stuck on the roof with washi tape so it looks as if it's snowing. Kind of anyway.... 
 Maybe I should get the boys making them too....
Lots and lots of love,
Kate. xxooxx.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Most Jam-Packed Christmas Tree Ever!

 Every second year we travel to Australia for Christmas. Our house sitters usually arrive on the day we leave and to make things easy (saving them the hassle of cleaning up deadish trees), I hang the Christmas decorations around the house rather than a living tree. This year however, I decided no more. No more explaining to the boys why we aren't going to have a Christmas tree - and so instead I bought a fake one. 
Having a real Christmas tree is my favourite thing in the world and will definitely be the main feature of our Christmas's's's' at home. But oh my giddy aunt - I love this plastic fantastic tree. It completely withstood our way of decorating which involves pushing ornaments into its every nook and cranny. In fact, it's getting kind of hard to see the branches, it is encrusted, bejewelled, bedecked, besmothered in decorations - or to be completely honest, gaudy craziness.
It's like a flock of unruly birds tried simultaneously to build a nest. 
 And of course, the very best, the most special and the least pretty ornament was saved for last. I love our monster angel that was made when my littlest boy was particularly little. It is hideously wonderful - it really is. I love it.
Boats, owls, rabbits, ships, umbrellas, birds, baubles, pompoms, flowers, disco balls - I think there may even be some Christmas things on there too.
 My rabbit lights - a souvenir from our travels around England.
 One even hopped in a boat!
Gaaaaahhhhh - I just saw the most marvellous opportunity for reenacting 'The Owl and The Pussycat' - which by the way was read at our wedding.
 I wonder what's inside that caravan...
So there it is - our tree completely overdressed for another year. I wonder if a study has been done somewhere throughout the world comparing Christmas trees to owners.....
Lots and lots of love,
Kate. xxooxx

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Garden Roses

 Absolute happiness for me is picking a massive bunch of roses from my garden. 
 I am sure that I would have raved about it before but one of my top three roses would be Pierre de Ronsard.
 I am still recovering from the dreaded lurgy so I thought I would be more more image-y than wordy...

 And my little stripy rose above, finally opened (see below)outlasting all of the flowers from her original bunch - impressive.
I hope something lovely has bloomed in your day too.
Lots of love,
Kate. xxooxx.

Monday, November 24, 2014

'A Good Yarn' - A Book Review.

'A Good Yarn' by Katherine Poulton  is my favourite knitting pattern collection ever. EVER!!!
Maybe I should tell you why. Katherine Poulton and Lily Cole (both models -  read more about them here) set up the knitware company The North Circular in 2009 for London Fashion week, wanting "to return value to the hand made product, personalise the process of production, rekindle the relationship between the producer and the purchaser - knitter and scarf wearer, practically and digitally.We were both blessed with talented knitting grandmothers,so we grew up knowing the value of things made with love". 
They make the most amazing beanies, mittens, scarves, snoods, socks, etc - and have been my go to guide for inspiration for a long time now.
Late at night I often surf the internet looking for new release books. When I stumbled across this book my joy knew no bounds.... except, there were no reviews on it and these days I don't like to buy a book unless I know what some of the projects are in it and have seen a few photos. There are so many wonderful books out there but often they may only contain one 'must do' make. I'm happy to  borrow these books from the library but not necessarily purchase. My criteria to buy means that there must be at least three projects worth making - or two if they are spectacular.
So I wrote to the publishers explaining my predicament (it must have been a brave day) and asked if they could please send me a copy to review. And they did! Thank you Kyle Books.
The next question arose in my mind. When a book is given to you for the purpose of review, how do you fairly evaluate it without gratitude (that wonderful thing) getting in the way. I went back to my criteria for buying a book, how many of these projects would I make. I counted up the number of projects in 'A Good Yarn' that I would knit either for presents or for myself and ended up with the astonishing number of 22 (out of a possible score of 30). And I would choose to knit these over similar patterns in other books because they are amazing.
This is the most generous book. So many of the beautiful pieces from their collection are included! For instance, the beanie pictured above is sold on their site in a dip dyed version. I feel so rude even mentioning this next point but.... well,  we crafters can be thrifty - it sells in their shop for £89.00 whereas the book sells for £13.59. Hurrah for being able to knit!!!!!!!!
With so many beautiful projects, it would have taken all day to upload the photos. Instead I've only included a few which was a very difficult job.
Another reason for loving 'A Good Yarn' is that all of the yarn choices are eminently sensible. I borrowed a book from the library once where the projects were made up with all sorts of crazy, expensively branded cashmere. I later read a review on that particular book where totted up the expense for making one cushion - $200US. In this, no brands are pushed. Instead they tell you the ply, needle size and tension required. For a bulkier knit, they recommend using 2 strands of aran together - very simple.,
I am thinking about my nephews for the beanie above - they don't need to know that a girl was photoprahed wearing it.
This is one of my favourite patterns. I have a long neck and adore anything that I can wrap around it multiple times. A collar and a scarf - wahoo. I also want to make this one for my slightly younger brother but in a different colour because he may feel awkward if we wear matching clothes in our late 30's.
Of course the photography is beautiful and the best thing is, I'm sure I'll look exactly the same in as them in this beanie because that is how it works. Yes indeedydoo.
We have a young family friend at art school who this hat would be perfect for - but in black because that's what art students wear.
 And the Bobble Hat again. I love how it pops up here and there in different colours.
The Catch Shrug - this is in my top three list.

One of my favourite things to make when travelling are socks. However, I'm completely fed up with 4ply patterns. This one however, uses dk and is now at the top of the list. Once again, this book is definitely proving itself to be my new knitting bible.
 Houndstooth gloves!!!!
 This is another of my other absolute faves. A little while ago my friend bought something similar and I was secretly green with envy..... Actually I think she probably realised when I tried to wrestle it from her when she left.

The other reason I am thrilled to have this book is because my boys and various nephews have grown out of the other books I used to work from in both size and taste. And they aren't quite as keen on crochet toys anymore..... Having something contemporary to dip into for presents is great. 
I really, really, really love 'A Good Yarn'. The patterns are straight forward, beautifully styled and photographed and just so inspirational. It even has loads of tip boxes from experienced knitters. 
You can buy it here, here and here.
Lots and lots of love,
Kate xxx.
p.s. By the way, if you read my post yesterday, you would have picked up that I have not been well and all of these photos were taken from bed. Thank you so much for all of your thoughts - I'm now feeling much better.


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