Thursday, 29 June 2017

So I read this tutorial ...

I read a tutorial recently on folksy about how to take better photographs of your products by using backdrops, props, camera angles and the manual settings on your camera. Better photos equals more sales. Hopefully!
I read it carefully, I thought about it, I wondered how can I do that at home? I had a little search online and thought some more. The next day I popped into the craft shop and bought some textured paper in ivory - although the colour was actually a bit pale it was a starting point.
I was in the process of making a baby cardigan as a sample for the shop, so I took some pictures and look what it came out like -

Tina's Allsorts, baby cardigan

Tina's Allsorts, baby cardigan

Tina's Allsorts, baby cardigan

Tina's Allsorts, baby cardigan

And this is what it looked like before the picture was cropped -

Tina's Allsorts, baby cardigan

Look okay?? Ideally it needs to be done by a north facing window to get the right lighting - we don't have that home as we face east  west but I tried to make the most of what we had. It still needs a bit of work and took a few minutes to set up but it was great fun to do and I love the results! I just need to take new photos of everything I have for sale on folksy...

That's all for today. I haven't done much crochet this week as I've been trying to write the chart for my Tooty Stripey Blanket again - it's coming along but it's still got a long way to go I'm afraid. I take my hat off to the people who write crochet instructions - both written instructions and charts - it really is not as easy as it looks!!

Til next time,  T xxx

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

The Blooming Great Tea Cosie

At last I can show you my tea cosie for the Crochet Now Magazine competition, in partnership with Marie Curie and their Blooming Great Tea Party. The closing date for entries was yesterday, so I think I'm safe to let you have a little peak now!

I finally finished making it on Sunday and emailed my entry off the next day - then I emailed it again to the correct email address!! I'm sure there will be lots of other entries far nicer than mine and I hope they manage to show a few in a future issue, as well as the winners. I do like to see other people's work and see what they did.

Initially, I was going to try and make a cake stand with 2 tiers of cakes, (somehow) surrounding the tea pot. But I left it so late before making a start there wasn't time. So instead I decided to go for a Marie Curie Blue body  - I'm sure lots of others did too... - and then add a circle of flowers around the top  - again, that's probably a common theme... - and to finish it off, a plate of biscuits balanced on top. I even managed to use quite a few Sirdar yarns which I found in my stash, although I had to buy the blue for the body especially.
I wasn't overly happy with my flowers at first - I went for 2 big pink and 2 white roses, but they looked rather flat and lifeless. I thought about trying to add some colour to them and was going to embroider french knots in the centres, then I remembered I still had the beads that had belonged to a friend I lost to cancer and it seemed quite fitting to use them instead. They lifted the roses just enough I think. I added quite a few leaves as well, plus of course the daffodil that had to appear somewhere in every entry.
My plate of biscuits had a little bit of stiffening inside to help give it a slight curved shape and my biscuits were realistic enough that several people tried to pinch one thinking they were real!! There was even a simple white lace doily on the plate as well.

Then I added a butterfly as personal recognition of Sue of SIBOL - she makes, collects and distributes blankets to the elderly in nursing homes; and some forget-me-nots for Sheila of Flowers for Memories - she's raising funds for the Alzheimers Society.

I do wonder if I actually added too much and have "guilded the lily" so to speak but it's done now and can't be changed.

So here she is, in all her glory -

Tina's Allsorts, Blooming Great Tea Cosie

Tina's Allsorts, Great Blooming Tea Cosie

Not sure what to do with her now. Maybe I'll get in touch with the local branch of Marie Curie again and see if they'd like her for a raffle prize or something.

OOH!! I've just thought, before I go would you like to see the latest addition to the family?? My great niece Amelia has finally arrived and is absolutely adorable!! Although, to be completely honest, I've only seen her asleep so far. We tried very hard to wake her up to say hello but she refused to even open one eye! Here she is, under the Tooty Fruity Blanket I made her -

Tina's Allsorts, The Tooty Fruity Blanket's owner!

That's it for today - see you again soon, T  x

Sunday, 18 June 2017

The North East

Hello again...  I meant to be back here sooner but you know what it's like, too many projects, too little time!!

I've been busy working on my competition tea cosies this week and have literally just finished stitching it all together. I just need to take a nice photo or two and email it off to the magazine. I'll show it to you next time. But today, here are a few of my holiday snaps, with just a tiny bit of accompanying text. (I've resized them to save you waiting all day for them to load!!)

First up, the light house at Whitley Bay

This is somewhere on the edge of the Northumberland National Park.

This is at Gibbet Point - as in Hangman's Gibbet. It was very peaceful and you could see for miles.

Some of the locals!

We saw this shop while were out for a drive (I forget the town, sorry) and it made me think of Arkwright from Open all Hours, so I just had to take a picture!!

We spent a lovely day at Cragside - the view as you arrived looked like a mini Switzerland. Very picturesque. It was a lovely place and well worth the visit - I can thoroughly recommend it.

We stopped for a chat with a gentleman tending his garden in the house you can see on the hillside - he said he's been living there for 30 years and loves it. I can quite understand why!

This was the "big house" on the estate. A mixture of styles I thought - almost designed with the tourist in mind. In fact, none of the literature we looked at said who had built it or when, so I really think someone had the idea of building a tourist attraction in the early 1900's. Good on 'im!

We kept hearing bees near the house and thought there must be a swarm in a tree but then we spotted them around the chimneys!! This is on full zoom -

Driving through the countryside was lovely - the fields were small and many had dry stone walls, or hedges that were in flower. Very different from the HUGE fields we see down here.

We had a visit into Newcastle - this is the Millennium Bridge -

Walking around, I was surprised to see so many old buildings - fabulous architecture.

We had a flying visit to Lindisfarne Island as you have to watch the tide times. It was a pity we didn't have longer there as there was plenty to see and we only managed a fraction. Never mind, another time.

I like this shot of ancient and modern at the Priory ruins -

We took the Coast Road going home that day and went past Bamburgh Castle. I do love a castle and really want to go back to see this properly, rather than just a drive past, we didn't even park!!

And the beaches... They were breathtaking! And they were empty!! This shot is about 11am on a Sunday morning. It was a little breezy but wasn't cold.
If this was "down south" it would have been absolutely packed with barely an inch between one persons beach towel and the next!!

This was the only family on the beach. And I reckon they weren't locals either!!

In the odd spot on the beach, there were little patches of black "grit", which on closer inspection turned out to be coal! Apparently, back in the days of coal files, locals used to collect it and dry it for using on the fire.

Too soon it was time to go home and I got back on the train for another long journey - with my crochet! I sat looking through my photos on the camera for a few minutes as we left the station and glanced up to see the Angel of the North! I managed to get a quick snap - lucky I had my camera in my hand or I wouldn't have got it out in time.

And finally, this is the little collections of shells and stones I brought back with me. I was surprised by how dark the limpets were as they are very pale down here. Perhaps they evolved that way to blend in with the coal on the beach ??? There were lots of very red and pink stones too. The big pebbles have pink stripes as well as white - I'll have to ask a friend what causes the colouring as they were very unusual.

The stripey blanket I was making on the train is now finished and I just need to take some pics for a ta-dah reveal, then I can get back to my Cyclamen Shade Waistcoat. I keep seeing lots of fabulous blankets on Instagram and I'm now itching to go wool shopping ready to make an adult sized blanket!! And yesterday I bought THIS, as if I didn't have enough patterns.
But I also have the beautiful hand-dyed wool I bought in Ring-a-Rosie Yarns.... I mentioned last time the shawl I've decided on. Oh, so many projects and so little time!!!

Speaking of which, I'd better get on with something!! Til next time, T  x

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Ring-a-Rosie Yarns in Whitley Bay

My holiday feels like something that happened in the dim and distant past already... It's only 2 weeks ago today that I came home though, so how can it feel so long?!

I have now had chance to have a look through my (many many many) photos and have picked out nearly 50 to show you. Yes, nearly 50...
I thought I'd start with Ring-a-Rosie Yarns that I mentioned last week. Although it wouldn't be fair to say it was the highlight of my week, it was an unexpected pleasure - so much so I thought you might like to feel the love too!! So this first post today is about Barbara's shop.

I showed you this pic last week - you can you see Barbara on the left. She really was a lovely lady to chat with and I enjoyed my visit with her as much as I enjoyed her shop. She's on Instagram and I'm glad to say she posts pics of her gorgeous hand dyed wool regularly!

Tina's Allsorts, Ring-a-aRosie Yarns

Tina's Allsorts, Ring-a-aRosie Yarns

Look at this table full of hand dyed yarns!! It was while I was looking at these and saying it was a shame there was nothing in burgundy, that she casually mentioned she hadn't had time to dye any recently and a couple of American ladies had bought loads the week before. I couldn't quite believe that not only did she have the most amazing yarn shop but that she also dyed some of the yarn herself too. Wow.
It's dyed in small batches obviously, so I don't know you could ever get enough for an adult sized garment bigger than a scarf/shawl, or maybe a tank top (sleeveless jumper).And socks of course. She even had different weights of yarn, with double knit as well as 4 ply. I've never seen hand dyed thicker than 4 ply before.

Tina's Allsorts, Ring-a-aRosie Yarns

And look at all the lovely little baby things she's made as samples. It's always a good idea to make samples so your customers can see exactly what the wool will be like once made up. Baby things make up quickly, take up little space and look really cute too!

Tina's Allsorts, Ring-a-aRosie Yarns

Ooh, deary me - there appears to be a space on the table now!!

Tina's Allsorts, Ring-a-aRosie Yarns

Naturally, I couldn't stop myself from buying some yarn - this was my big holiday purchase! And she even wrapped it up in tissue paper. It wasn't until later when we got home that I saw she'd put in a little extra something - how very thoughtful!!

Tina's Allsorts, Ring-a-aRosie Yarns

So this is what I chose. The yarn on the left was the first colourway that drew me and I just had to have it - especially when I saw she had called the colourway "Wild Flowers" -  even though once made up it may have too much yellow/gold and be too neutral a colour to suit me. But I don't care! It was beautiful and I WANTED IT!!!
I'm also quite partial to petrol blue - and that colour does suit me! This one is a single ply 4 ply - if that makes sense! I thought maybe a tank top or a waistcoat, or maybe a scarf/shawl? And the little extra that Barbara popped in the bag?? It's a mini skein of 4 ply in burgundy

Tina's Allsorts, Ring-a-aRosie Yarns

I've spent many hours on Ravelry looking for just the right pattern for my Wild Flower yarn. It's a superwash DK merino with 30% nylon to make it more hard-wearing and it feels so soft  and  squishy!!

I've settled on THIS pattern of a short curved shawl and I just have to hope I have enough... The pattern is in Turkish and someone has done a translation via google, although I still had trouble understanding it as she didn't translate how to work the leaf edge as there is a chart. I typed it up long hand so it made sense to me and now just need to "clear the decks" of WIPS that can't wait so I can make a start!!
This is what I hope mine will look like when made up, and here's the link to the photo-owner's project page -


Is that enough "woolly stuff" for one post??!! No?? A bit more??
OK, a quick mention of my 2nd stripey blanket then!!

Tina's Allsorts, Tooty Stripey BlanketAs I said before I went away, I put together a project to make on the train journey and it worked really well. Everyone else was sat staring at their phones while I was busy with my crochet. And the blanket worked up very quickly by being able to just follow the pattern, rather than decide on colour of yarn, which stitch to use that would work with the row below, write it down, take a photo.
No. Just read the pattern and crochet. Bliss! I didn't even have to worry about colour as I was using a rainbow of colours, always in the same order.

I did find a couple of mistakes in the pattern along the way, so need to do a bit of re-writing but I made notes of them as I went a long.
I also swapped 3 rows of simple clusters for a little "kiss stitch" someone shared on Instagram recently and it worked very well.
This is how far I got at the end of my first train ride - 

Tina's Allsorts, Tooty Stripey Blanket

And this was on the way home -

Tina's Allsorts, Tooty Stripey Blanket

As I said last week, I didn't actually manage to get any done while I was there, so had to finish it once home. It didn't take long at all, although by using leftovers again I did find I was running out of some of the colours towards the end. I had planned on working 5 or 6 rows of trebles for the border, the same as for my first blanket but there just wasn't enough. I could have just bought a few more balls as I think the colours are still available but I almost felt as if I should try and make do with what I had rather than add to my stash again.

So I used lavender to work the first border row in half trebles, followed by 2 rows of trebles in the same colour. I then tried working a short length of  each colour in trebles, changing colour every 10 or 12 stitches but I wasn't overly keen on it when I'd finished. I kept going back and looking at it. I out it on instagram and asked opinions. I took it to work and asked them.
Everyone was very polite and said it was ok. Or fine
But to me "ok" and "fine" are not the same as "wow" and "perfect". They sit alongside "it'll do" and "could be worse"!! So I ripped out the colour rows and just did some simple shells along the edge in a blue/mauve as I discovered I'd nearly run out of lavender... I don't have a pic of that yet, so I'll do a proper ta-dah another day but here's a repeat of the one while it was being steam blocked  -

Tina's Allsorts, Tooty Stripey Blanket

My sister saw it this week and really loved the colours but she prefers the pattern of my square Lost in Tooty Time Blanket. Could I make her one like that please??... It might have to wait a while if I do!!

See you again later - if I have time today that is.....   T  x

PS  Regular visitors may have noticed my blog looks a little pale today.  I grew tired of the watercolour background, so thought I'd have white for a while. 😉

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

I'm back !

I'm back! It feels like I've been away from my little patch of cyberspace for soooooo long. It's not really been that long at all I know (only just over 2 weeks) and I meant to come back from holiday and tell you all about it straight away - let's just say crochet and going to work got in the way!

I had a brilliant holiday up in the North East of the UK, staying with friends I haven't seen in a long time. The weather was glorious and we went out and about every day and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!
I went up by train (which was on time and there were no hold ups at all - in either direction) and took my project kit with me to do on the long journey, although I did feel like the odd one out as almost everyone else on the train spent nearly the entire time on their phones! I made this -

Tina's Allsorts, Tooty Stripey Blanket

Well no, to be fair, I started it on the way up, didn't do any while I was there, then did another section coming home, then the rest this past week. It's my Tooty Stripey Blanket again undergoing a little patterntesting. As soon as I'm happy with it - I did find a couple of mistakes and made an alteration or two - then I'll let you see it. But not quite yet.

I'm rather enjoying making baby sized blankets as they work up so quickly - a full sized blanket feels rather daunting when you start and it's easy to lose interest or get side tracked by new projects. But this little rainbow beauty is just about done already.

I'm still debating whether I like the border I've done and might rip it out and try and think of something else, although I'm very low on yarn now. (I won't even bother to show you the border as it currently looks as I'm so not happy with it!) I was using up leftovers and although it's only Stylecraft yarn which I can easily get more of, I didn't really want to have to buy more just for the sake of a few yards for the border - but I'm not happy with it. Other people have said it's fine but if I want to sell it I should be happy with it myself. I haven't even stitched the ends in on the border in case I need to rip it back. So there may be a bit of frogging to come!!

Since getting back I've been so busy working on this baby blanket, plus my waistcoat, as well as going to work that it was more than a week before I got round to downloading all the photos I took - and I took quite a few!! I'll show you some of them next time - the North East really is a beautiful, beautiful part of the country and as well as the countryside the beaches were just amazing!! I wish we had beaches like theirs down here in Hampshire rather than the scruffy strips of stony stuff we laughingly call a beach - a shore-line would be more accurate. Ah well. If I lived right by a beautiful beach I might never get any crochet done as I like to take looooooong walks on a beach, not just sit...

Anyway, back to crafting. My waistcoat is progressing very nicely and the gorgeous hand-dyed yarn I'm using is a true pleasure to work with. You almost don't want to put it done as the colour right at the hook is constantly changing and I can't wait to see what's next! Silly I know but true. It's also very pleasant in your hands and on the hook - I'm looking forward to feeling the texture once it's been washed and blocked.
I've actually done a bit more than the picture shows and I'm just wondering whether to go up a hook size before I do the next lace pattern repeat, so it will be a little wider and therefore fit round my hips better!!!!!! I think there will be enough yarn to finish all the edgings the way I want to as well, as I was a little worried there wouldn't be enough and being hand-dyed I can't just buy another ball!!

I was introduced to a new wool shop in Whitley bay that just BLEW MY MIND. RingaRosie Yarns  has to be the most amazing wool shop I have ever seen and even better, there was a big selection of hand-dyed yarn - and it turned out the owner did them herself!
My friend had casually said "I think there's a wool shop round the corner you might like", and I thought it would probably be very disappointing as people who aren't crafty don't always understand what constitutes a good wool shop. So you can just imagine the look on my face as I walked into this -

Tina's Allsorts, Ringarosie yarns

Tina's Allsorts, Ringarosie yarns

It was like being transported to heaven!! My mouth just dropped open and my eyes were on stalks!!! You can see the owner in the top pic over on the left - Barbara - she was lovely and while we were chatting it turned out she used to live in Portsmouth, just a few miles down the road from me. What a small world! We had a lovely chat and I could quite happily have stayed all day.
I do have some more pics of her shop - and the amazing yarn I bought! - but my gadgets won't talk to each other at the moment, so I'm making do with what I've already shared on Instagram. Don't worry, I will be raving about it again later!!!
For now, if you're in the North East, go and find Ring-a-Rosie Yarns in Whitley Bay, say hi from me - and ENJOY!!

That's all for now but I will be back again soon with some pics of the beautiful countryside. And maybe an update on that pesky blanket border!!

Bye for now - T x