Saturday, 31 December 2016

Happy New Year

Or should that be good riddance to 2016??... I shan't miss 2016 one bit. One of the worse years of my life if  I'm honest. Roll on 2017 - let's just hope its a teensy bit better. Not great - just better.

I seem to remember this time last year I did a last minute round up of  my year on line. I've left it til the last minute again - why change the habit of a lifetime!
A look through my blog stats tells me that my post from July 2015, Ta Dah - another Dress Made has had over 570 views since I posted it 18 months ago but it has now been over taken by a recent post from October 2016 where I did a little tutorial on how I lined my Peacock Tail Bag. That's had 550 in less than 3 months! Entirely down to a link on facebook.
And in 3rd place is still the April 2015 post where I made a scissor keeper, pin cushion and pin box.

Tina's Allsorts, Baby Bird Tea Cosie
Looking at the Page views (as opposed to Post views) , the most popular is now Tea Cosies with nearly 1,000 views - the other pages are all around the 400-500 mark. That would be down to my Baby Bird Tea Cosie appearing on Loari Prior's facebook page - she writes some fabulous books on making Really Wild Tea Cosies and was my inspiration to have a go at making my own.

But I don't know if I should be worried/bothered by the Russians....Seriously! On Pinterest I often see links to tutorials which go to Russian websites but have clearly been ripped off  from other sites. I wonder if something of mine is out there?... Ah well, nothing I can do about it anyway.

I did have some social media highlights, if you can call them that. My very own email from the fabulous Lucy of Attic24, plus Jacquie of Bunny Mummy and Fiona of Marmalade Rose have "followed" me on Instagram. Woo Hoo!

I'll leave you with one final photo, a sunny snap at Hilliers this week before the fog arrived. A clear blue sky and very bright sunshine which made the colours of the dogwoods sing!

Tina's Allsorts, Dec 2016

That's it for this year then - Happy New Year to you all!!

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

New Project on my Hook

As I mentioned earlier, I have a New Project on my Hook! Woo Hoo! I had been mulling over what I could start making after Christmas but hadn't actually come to a decision - there are some new CAL's  out there in blog-land but I hadn't seen one that took my fancy. I was also still wondering what on earth to get my Dad for Christmas. He's 86, doesn't want anything and doesn't really need anything either. Then it struck me - I could combine the new project and the present and make him a lap blanket! He's rather fond of my Olympic Foot Blanket, so I know it will get used. I wont' make it with squares though as he'd probably have to wait until next winter for it -it will be a stripey one made with aran yarn so it will work up quickly.

I made a quick trip to the wool shop on Christmas Eve and bought five balls of King Cole Big Value Aran, in five shades -

I don't know about you but to me they conjure up pictures of Woodland Walks, with damp leafy smells and birdsong. They're quite masculine colours too - although you could easily swap some of the colours for autumn shades, or spring and so on.

I'm an avid fan of  Lucy of Attic24 and and she has a CAL starting soon using Moorland colours - I may have been influenced by her colours when choosing mine!!

I knew she'd done a simple blanket once that would be perfect for a man. I had to hunt through a few of her (many) blankets until I found the one I was thinking of, her Cosy Stripe Blanket. A simple pattern consisting of two rows of trebles, then two rows of grannies.
Once the present was unwrapped and the colours approved, I hooked up a little sample to see what my tension was like with aran and also tried a little variation on Lucy's pattern.

If you follow the link and look closely at her photos, you see that the gaps between the grannies are only really visible on the first row of each pair. I wanted them to be visible on both rows. After a bit of trial and error I found a solution. When I work the first row of trebles on top of the grannies (if you'll pardon the expression!), I do the following -
*Treble into the 1st st of each granny, treble into the 2nd st of each granny, then yarn over hook and put through the 3rd st and pull through a loop (3 loops on your hook), now put the hook through the gap between the pair of grannies and pull through a loop (4 loops on your hook), yarn over hook and pull through 3 loops, yarn over and through he last 2 loops*. Repeat * to * to the end of the row.
This has the effect of opening up the gap between the grannies without increasing the stitch count, or making a bulky stitch either. Did I explain how to do it well enough?? Once you get the hang of it it's really easy. You can see in the photo below that my gaps look just a little bigger than Lucy's. Not that I'm trying to suggest that there's anything wrong at all with Lucy's gaps!!!

It's working up really quickly - I've done a foot already and haven't spent that much time on it yet. I had a little photo shoot earlier while the sun was shining, although looking at them now the colours have come out wrong. The grey looks pale blue and the browns look grey. Ah well, never mind. What do you think??
Tina's Allsorts, Woodland Walk Blanket
I should be finishing some other projects really but who can resist starting something new?! I've created a Ravelry project to keep track of it too and will try and post regular updates.

That's all for now - talk again soon!! T xXx

So what did you get?

And breathe... All that effort for 2 short days. Worth it though - lots of catching up with friends and family I don't see often enough.

So what did you get? I got a LOT of chocolate, which isn't necessarily a bad thing as I do like chocolate! The box at the front left in the photo is particularly nice - Monty Bojangles. Never seen them before but they're very more-ish. And nearly gone!

I think my favourite present though was a pair of Shaun the Sheep slippers. I haven't worn slippers since I was a small child and had a pair with a horrid fur lining that quickly made my feet sweat - I remember them as feeling slimey! I haven't worn slippers since...

But I rather like these. I've hardly taken them off since I unwrapped them - I've even taken them with me when going visiting! That's unheard of!!
The days seem to be rushing by at great speed and I've spent most of my time eating and visiting. Too much eating... I haven't even bothered looking around the sales very much - if I didn't need it before Christmas I don't need it now.

I have manage to do some crafting though and I do have a new project on my hook but I'll show you that next time - I'll need to power up the laptop so I can put in all the links for the sites where I got my inspiration from and so on. Although if you've looked me up on Instagram you'll know what it is already!

I'll leave you today with a picture of Blackie, the feline lady of the family. Although she may not be with us too  much longer as  she has now decided this is her house, not Fluffy's house and every time she sees him she goes for him. Poor Fluffy is now terrified and won't go near her; we're having to keep them in separate rooms and even have to be careful if they go out at the same time. 
She's a beautiful cat -very affectionate and friendly, knows when it's time for bed and takes herself off. House trained and happy to eat cheap food. She just hates Fluffy. 
So if you know anyone who's looking for a cat?...

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Merry Christmas!

We have a lovely tree in the Cathedral every year and I remembered to go and take a photo before I started my Christmas break.

Doesn't it look lovely againsy the blue sky. And here's Fluffy, starting his Christmas as he means to carry on!

And Blackie,  who we now know is a girl... sorry it's  bit fuzzy...

Merry Christmas everyone - I hope you have a happy and peaceful holiday. See you again soon! 
Tina xXx

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Stress and tension

Just another quick hello today. It has been a HUGELY  stressful week at work with Christmas payroll to prepare and process - the biggest of the year and the least amount of time to do it...
But it's all done now, thank goodness so I can relax a bit. Just a bit...
I can't wait for next Tuesday - the last day of the Christmas Market! Much though I love the traders who join us, I don't love the crowds to battle through at lunchtime or the dreadful smells from the food court. Burgers, onions and grease all day. Ugh!

On the knitting front, these are the romper suits my friend has knitted for my niece's baby. They turned out really well but it does go to show why checking your tension against the pattern is so important. They should be identical but are made from different brands of wool. The green one has a bit of wool in it and the cream is just acrylic - and there's a whole size difference. But that gives room for growth. 

She sent me a photo yesterday of baby Violet modelling the green one and it fits just right. 

Doesn't she look adorable! 

I haven't made anything myself this week on the crafting front although I have done most of my Christmas shopping. And written cards. I toyed with idea of the eco-friendly emailed card again but went for proper cards in the end. If you're going to email a card,you should do it early rather than later so it doesn't look like you forgot/couldn't be bothered! Maybe next year. 

I did something really daring this week  (for me) and changed my phone and have almost joined the 21st century. Almost...
A friend has given me her old Lumia smartphone handset and I spent a good 3 weeks giving the camera a thorough workout to be sure it was as good as my trusty old Sony Ericsson  (9 yrs old and still works) before ordering a new sim card that would fit. It picks up the wifi at home so I can surf and email and all sorts! That was so much fun I've actually joined Instagram! And (sharp intake of breath) I've even set up a Folksy account!!! WOO HOO!! Although I haven't put anything up for sale yet... I thought it might be an ideal place to try and sell my Peacock Tail Bag and maybe a mandala or two. Of course, I should have done that in time for people to buy them as Christmas gifts but at least I got this far!!

I have a nice long break this Christmas, so I'll do it then. My first full break for ten years. Normally accounts work at least one day in the office each while the rest of the building is off but (so far) the day I volunteered for it turned out I wouldn't be needed. Result! And I've taken time off in the shop too, so I'll have 11 days off for visiting friends and family, crafting, maybe selling and definitely lots of relaxing! 

I'll add links to Instagram and Folksy to the sidebar next week but you can search for me under TinasAllsorts if you want to before then. 

That's it for today - try not to get too stressed yourself, no one will thank you for it.  T  ☺

Sunday, 11 December 2016

How to block acrylic

I remembered!! The crafty thing I wanted to mention last week but couldn't remember was that I'd seen a post on one of the lovely blogs I read (sorry, can't actually remember who shared the link...) on how to block acrylic properly.
Most people, myself included, don't think acrylic can be blocked effectively. You wet it down, pin it to shape and allow to dry naturally but as soon as you unpin it starts to go back to the shape it wanted to be before you started. Well not any more!!
Have a look at this from Every Trick on the Hook. Polly gives detailed instructions on how to go about blocking and steaming acrylic in such a way that it will hold it's shape once dry. And it works!!
The wet heat softens the plastic fibres just enough that when they then cool and dry they hold their new shape. It's supposed to be permanent so that when it's washed and dried again, the blanket will retain it's blocked shape. But I haven't tried that bit.

As soon as I read it I knew I wanted to use the method to reshape my Rippling Clusters Blanket. You know, the one that took me so long to make I forgot how many chain stitches to work in the pattern part way through, so one end of the blanket was wider than the other... I immediately took it off the bed and laid it on the floor - smoothing it down so it gripped the carpet so I wouldn't need to pin it - measured it carefully so the narrower end was the right width and got steaming with the iron. You have to be very careful not to touch the yarn with the iron, or to over steam - it would be very easy to destroy all your hard work! - but you can actually see it working! I left it to dry then tentatively put it back on the bed and O - M - G it lay so much better!! I couldn't believe it!! It needs a little more work in the middle section which I might do later today but WOW, what a technique!!

I wish I'd known about it when I was making the Springtime Baby Blanket and I tried to block the squares before joining them. Remember when I blocked them like this?? Never again...

In fact, I tried the technique out yesterday on another baby blanket. I saw a lovely one with lots of texture on a charity stall at the market and bought it, knowing I could block it properly as the edge was a bit "wibbly". It isn't any more! If it had occurred to me I would have taken before and after photos. Sorry. I'll try and take an "after" photo later and pop back and add it.

I'm wondering whether this is the right method to use on the star blanket that's put away waiting to be finished. I was making it for my Mum before she died and it's been put away since then. The edges were going to curl terribly but maybe now, with a little steam blocking, they won't...

Tina's Allsorts, Star Blanket

That's it for today. Til next time, T xxx

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

A hat to skate in?

My hat is finished! It didn't take too long to make once I got going - I even managed to work the last few rows on some old double pointed needles. It was a bit too long, so I unpicked back to the start of the shaping and did bigger decreases over fewer rows. I blocked it over a pudding bowl and made a big shaggy pom pom to top it off. I just need a cold day to wear it now. ..

The ice rink and Christmas Market are in full swing at work. Which means more work than I can actually keep up with and crowds of people to battle through every time I leave the building. And the smells. I'm right above the food court and we've had burger and fries drifting in the windows all day! Very expensive burgers...
This is my tenth Christmas and there have been a lot of changes over the years. This next photo is from 2007.

And this is 2016! What a difference. 

It's quite funny listening to new staff who are looking forward to the market. I tell them the novelty wears off by year 3 and you'll be counting the days until it closes! (There are 13 in case you are counting!)
If you're planning to visit, take my advice and come on a week day. If you must come at the weekend, get parked early, go for breakfast in town and go to the market when it opens at 10am. If you come later, you may have to queue to get in then be swept along on a tide of sardines!
And no I won't be skating - not even in my new hat! Knowing my luck I'd fall over - or be pushed over, and break something... Don't want that really. 

You know, I'm sure there was something crafty I was going to tell you but it escapes me right now. Ah well, there's always next time. 
Once we get Christmas out of the way, I'll try and start a new project - although I don't know what it will be yet! There isn't time for anything before then. I won't even get the allium bargello cushion cover finished - so clearly it won't be a present! That means I need to think of another present and I haven't really done any shopping yet. I blame the curse of the Christmas Market - I get Christmas all year round, so when it finally arrives I don't want it! At least not until it's really too late to do anything, then I feel guilty for being such a scrooge! I can't win...

Hope your Christmas preparations are going better than mine! 
Til next time,  T 😆😆😆