Thursday, 22 November 2012

Book Review: Knit, Purl, Save the World

As with my earlier book reviews,  I was given the books in return for writing reviews. It's not edited though, these are my real opinions.

Subtitled "Knit and Crochet Projects for Eco-friendly Stitchers", I wasn't sure what to expect. I didn't even know if I knit in an eco-friendly way!

Vicki Howell and Adrienne Armstrong are clearly dedicated to their form of environmental consciousness and sprinkle tips about eco-friendly living throughout the book. Although they don't say we should all get rid of our acrylic yarns, they prefer to source what they call "sustainable" yarn, for instance by using wool that "comes from animals that were raised organically and humanely: baby alpaca, baby camel, merino sheep, etc."

Maybe not the book for me then: I knit almost entirely in acrylic, it's inexpensive and brightly coloured and suits my particular knits perfectly.

There are patterns for 31 projects: clothes,accessories, home furnishings, all designed to use eco-friendly materials.

I found one project that interests me, a bag crocheted from plarn. Plarn is is yarn made by cutting strips from plastic grocery carrier bags! The book gives instructions to make the plarn, or you can track down numerous tutorials online if you prefer videos.

I consider myself quite environmentally conscious - I don't fly (don't even have a passport!), prefer to walk and shop local, recycle everything in sight and buy secondhand - but my budget does not allow for the yarns suggested here. Ideal for some, but sorry - not for me.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Christmas sherry, anyone?

I spotted this vintage cocktail cabinet (60s?) in a charity shop for £45 and brought it home. We are sadly lacking in cupboard space in this house, and I just fancied the idea of MrNifty serving Christmas beverages from a cocktail cabinet!

If you're wondering why I didn't clean the mirror....well, I did. But then I spilt some sherry!

I really like that the original lemon squeezer and cocktail sticks are still there. 
Don't think I fancy using them though, I'd never be sure they were clean!

The opening "flaps" are hinged together which is clever, although disconcerting if like me you're prone to dumping stuff on any available surface...because as you pull the flap down, the top moves too!

 I like the weathered appearance of the knobs, but in an ideal world I think I'd rather like something a bit more steampunky... like these from LumberJackLad on Etsy

I had already bought some glass straws from VortexGlassWorks, also on Etsy

So we're all set! Sherry, anyone?

Monday, 19 November 2012

Warm toes for MrNifty!

It's not often I knit for family, so here's a rare example!

Don't just sit there, MrNifty, chuck another log on the fire!

Now, knitting meerkats from my head is easy for me - but socks? Not so much. I used a pattern by Kim Goddard available here (thanks Kim!) and an excellent tutorial for Kitchener stitch available here (thanks to Theresa Vinsen Stenerson)

Having allowed the poor man to pose for photos I'm now taking the socks away again to wrap in Christmas paper - he'll be SOOO surprised when he opens that package!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away there was a yarn shortage!

Barry (seen here with Walter Koenig and Data and Chekhov Meerkats) has a MeerTrekkie habit second to none, so when my local yarn shop told me that the "Star Trek command gold" yarn was discontinued, I told him of the emergency. I hunted around a few towns, but there was none to be found. 

Some months later...a package arrived from Barry! No, it wasn't yarn, it was entirely the wrong shape. It was... a book! 

Not just any book, it's a photo book detailing Chekov's mission: Kat Trek, the Search forYarn. 

As I started to read, my laughter got louder. Barry channeled his inner-Chekhov very thoroughly, the whole book is written in the broken Russian accent known so well by Original Series Trekkies.

Chekhov searched and searched. 

Chekhov bravely went to London and tried to use the transporter at Oxford Circus. The instructions were confusing. Standing on the right did not achieve transportation.

He discovered evidence of 20th Century alien visitors 

but the correct yarn was not discovered no matter how he set the tricorder.

Eventually I realised there was only one answer, and knitted Captain Benjamin Sisko, The Emissary to the Prophets. He consulted the orb of Prophecy and showed me where appropriate yarn might be found. He also suggested this was a job for a man, not a boy (sorry, Chekhov) so Captain Kirk boldly went on the next stage of the away mission.

Well done Captain Kirk - and thank you, Barry. 

You made me a very happy knitter indeed! Live long, and prosper. 

You wouldn't believe it - but there was still more in the parcel. 
A photo of the lovely Nichelle Nichols, signed for me with my name on it!!!

I have shared only a few of the 42 pages (it *had* to be 42, didn't it? answer to life, the universe and everything!) but if you've had fun, go find Barry on twitter and tell him! @CoachDriverBaz

MeerTrekkies are of course available in Etsy and Folksy, and if you take yours on adventures I would love to hear about it!!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Book review: Beautiful Botanical Knits

Third in my series of book reviews - I should tell you that I was given the books in return for reviews, but there was no compulsion to be "nice", these are my genuine opinions.

I was pleased to be sent this particular book "Beautiful Botanical Knits" by Nora J. Bellows because I used to knit flowers myself and was keen to see how mine compared. 

I knitted daffodils, tulips, poinsettia, bluebells and primroses. This week I found a fuchsia lurking in a stock drawer so that has just been relisted on folksy!

Although I still like my own designs, Nora's are a cut above. She has clearly observed the flowers very carefully and tries to include as much of the anatomical detail as is possible. I'm pleased to say we both start knitting the same way: "I want you to get down and peer into the throat of a single foxglove flower - and to wonder how to knit it."

Nora shares patterns for 40 different flowers and shows each flower both knitted and then felted. It is not "compulsory" to felt them, in fact I think some look better without. Some flowers are wired, some are embellished with beads - it's all down to your preference. As is generally the case, the patterns are for personal use only and the finished articles are not licensed for sale.

The knitted flowers are cunningly photographed on natural stems and leaves, it's quite hard at first glance to see where nature stops and knitting takes over! 

What I really liked about this book is that Nora doesn't "just" show us how to knit flowers, she also suggests uses for them. As I discovered myself, there are only so many knitted flowers in pots that can be accommodated! 

Isn't this fuchsia wrap stunning? The book contains patterns for flower embellished projects: bags, shawls, gloves, cushions and Nora encourages us to be creative in our use of these patterns: "Change the scale of the "scarf" and it becomes a wreath of violets, a necklace of lesser celandine, the cherry blossom headdress of a little girl, or a jasmine wedding garland for a bride."

To conclude - if you have a hankering to knit flowers, I recommend this book. The patterns are graded for difficulty and there are clear photos of the various stitches and techniques you'll need. Like my own knitted flowers - they don't cause hay fever!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

We're on the BBC news website today!

woohoo! Elvis is rocking with many of his friends from Etsy and Folksy on the BBC News online magazine which is fab! I do rather take issue with their idea of crafts such as mine being learned in just a few hours though. I've been knitting for over 45 years!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

New Yarnbomb!

I've been yarnbombing one of my last remaining wooden sculptures, saving him from landfill and making a thing of beauty!

He was quite embarrassed that one of his horns was shorter than the other, so I've compensated by giving them a wonderfully swirly appearance. He's knitted in bright orange and yellow and seated on a grassy mound. I'm rather pleased with the way his legs are over the grass, that took some thinking.

Most difficult piece? The strangely shaped orange piece for his head! I wasn't quite sure how I was going to manage the head all-in-one, but did my usual trick of sleeping on the problem and awoke with the solution!

He's one of a kind, obviously, and I've chosen to list him on Etsy.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Meerkat Biker Leathers Design Assistance Please!

Now here's a question you don't get asked every day! I'm ready to start on the costume for the rider of my biiiiiiig motorbike, and would welcome your thoughts. I've bought some yarn that's a very good match for the yellow of the bike, and I have black (and silver) for the detailing.

It is a fabulous bike and I want to do it justice - so what do you think would really set the meerkat rider off? I'm toying with the idea of a lady rider, I could give her some falsies under her suit!
The bike is marked Honda California Style, American Drag (if that helps!) and as you can see is way bigger than my others and is seating my 11" tall Meerkat in the photo - although I may redesign the kat too, I think the body could do with being slimmer and shorter - what do you think? If anyone comes up with the final design for the leathers I'll credit you in the listing as my designer! If it's left to me it'll be mostly yellow with black and/or silver go-faster stripes I think. Maybe a black/silver storm cloud with lightning on the back - I *think* that is what I can see on the bike.

Anyway - over to you. Written suggestions can be put in the comments, if you want you can send me a picture and I'll add it here. Pics can be attached to "message to seller" at Niftyknits

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Teeny tiny Star Trek stockings

I knitted each of the original series crew a tiny Christmas stocking for their party photo. If you're thinking it's time you rehomed Kirk, Spock, Scotty, Uhura or Bones then now is the time - the next time each of these crew members goes to a new home they'll bring their own exclusive stocking. Don't worry, they're VERY small so you won't need to put much inside! I only knitted the 5 stockings you can see, so when they're gone they're gone.

Trekkies at Etsy  or Trekkies at Folksy

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Christmas Last Shipping Dates

It's that time of year again, when online sellers enter a state of panic, worrying that parcels won't arrive in time! I know a really good way of making sure they arrive - it's the technique known as BUY EARLY.

Royal Mail have issued their optimistic dates for last shipping for Christmas arrival, but my experience is that they mean "it'll probably arrive by December 24th" and that is just not good enough. So I'm going to give an extra 2 weeks for international parcels...which means that my last recommended shipping dates will be:

Wednesday 21st November : Asia, Australia, Far East (including Japan) New Zealand
Friday 23rd November         : Africa, Caribbean, Central America, Middle East and South America
Monday 26th November      : Canada, Eastern Europe and USA
Wednesday 28th November : Western Europe
Thursday 6th December       : UK

I will still ship after those dates if you buy - but it's down to you to do the worrying :-)

I will be removing "knit to order" items from my shops within the next few weeks, so please please please buy early to avoid disappointment - or buy a gift card from my Etsy shop so that your gift recipient can choose for themselves.