Friday, 29 March 2013

Giveaway panda winner

thanks for entering!

4 of you desired the panda. Goblinf posted a second comment which I didn't count, so I put 1,2,3,4 into (goblinf=1, Rachel=2, Josh=3, TattooedMummy=4)

The screenshots are not the best, but if you click on them they'll grow.

Result =1 Congratulations lucky new panda owner!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Knitting Book Review: Make your own knitted animals

This is a book intended for children, I was given it to review as a knitter and ex-teacher and I'm going to pass it on to a genuine child next! I'm hoping her mum will pass on her own opinion, but these are my thoughts, unscripted and "mine own".

The front cover promises "Learn to knit cute little animal characters" and sure enough there are patterns for 5 little critters: lamb, monkey, panda, bird with chicks and a rabbit. 

There are short tutorials with photos to show how to knit, but this is not, in my opinion, a book to learn how to knit. If your child can already knit (or if you are keen to help) then it's fine. (The back cover does say "prior knitting experience helpful and adult supervision recommended) I would especially question the method they suggest for casting on - but it does work, though very loosely.

I like the presentation! The plastic box at the top where the materials are stored is resealable so you can continue to keep your bits and pieces safely. There are 4 pieces of felt, two sizes of sewing needle, some sewing thread and two 4mm knitting needles (they're not marked, but I checked the size on my gauge)

No knitting yarn, but it is only £5.99 though, and yarn would put the price up.

The patterns are in the form of templates which may or not be a good thing, it depends how your mind works! What disappointed me a great deal is that there are no obvious clues to orientation. In the template below, looking at the finished panda tells me the body and arms templates need to be read sideways, but the ears and feet and tail are read upwards. I think that would be very confusing for a child (it was slightly confusing for me to be honest!) The templates are VERY small. The body template below is a mere 2.5 inches (less than 6.5 cm) wide and I found those tiny squares very difficult to count.

The ear liner template is clearly a circle above...yet when we get to the instructions - not so. Of course by then I'd already cut out my pink circles, so tough. I can hear my imaginary child wailing "I've gone wrong!"

The diagram seems much longer than my knitting...but it was ok when I sewed it up. 

Skipping straight to the last page, the author encourages us to now design our very own characters or animals, and shows four examples. Strangely, they're all crochet with the exception of the tall chap's hat.

The designs themselves are cute though...and here's my panda: I tried hard to stick to the pattern to give it a fair go but couldn't bring myself not to cast on properly! If you'd like to win her, just leave me a comment below with a way to contact you. I'll randomly pick a winner on Friday. ***NB GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED***

Friday, 22 March 2013

Sea glass

My friend Nicky from Colour it green recently shared a tutorial to make a fabulous sea glass lampshade. Isn't it lovely? I particularly like how the occasional "rare" colour stands out, I've never seen yellow or red sea glass though I've spotted blue sometimes. I decided to check if I had enough sea glass yet...

LOL that'll be a "no" then. See my tiny piece of blue? The orange piece, now I've looked more closely, is actually plastic after all. The tiny bits are all that I've found locally, this is clearly the wrong beach for sea glass.

Here's an interesting piece from our previous beach, it's almost completely spherical, possibly a marble?

One final pic - remember the kestrel I saw yesterday? Today she was sitting in a tree right outside our garden! No wonder we haven't been able to attract any small birds to our feeders, they're keeping their heads down. Wonderful to see her so close though. Shame she can't find sea glass for me.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Bird spotting

On the way to town...

a hawk of some sort, perched on an old weather vane, looking for lunch

we got way closer than I expected, it's a busy footpath along the top of the cliff, lots of undergrowth going down to the beach so plenty of lunch living there I should think.

I'm happy to be corrected, but judging by the vertical streaks on the chest and the chestnut back I'm thinking it's a female kestrel - do let me know if I'm right or wrong!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Golden oldies!

My stash of vintage knitting and crochet patterns overfloweth, and to be honest I don't look at them often. I certainly don't knit from them, my patterns come from my head (which explains a lot!)

MrNifty has started to list them in his Etsy shop MrNiftyVintage so feel free to check him out. They're great on so many levels, not just as knitting patterns. They're social history - just look at that advert above! The pictures are just wonderful, they'd be great in scrapbooking projects or card making, and in fact some of them may well end up as decoupage on a sidetable if I get time.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Book Review: Nordic Knitting Traditions

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.

Susan has adapted traditional traditional Scandinavian and Icelandic Fair Isle designs to create 25 patterns for a range of accessories including hats, gloves, mittens, socks and leg-warmers. 

The patterns are presented in chart form and although the finished pieces are in a wealth of pattern and colour you use only 2 colours at a time - phew! Not for a novice knitter, but not as difficult as they look on first glance - and certain to impress!

Susan includes tips and hints to help you along the way. When I've knitted fairisle patterns in the past I've generally ended up with tangled yarns, so I was amused to read her suggestion of holding the yarns in each hand, dangling your work and letting it untangle. That's what I always did - but I'd assumed a "proper" knitting designer would have a more sophisticated system...though I don't know what else would work!

Will I be making up any of the patterns? To be honest I don't often take the time to knit for myself, but this tam is beautiful:

Like many of the other projects it's knitted in US fingering weight yarn. I've googled to find a UK equivalent, but came up with a variety of different answers which is worrying - so my advice is to always check by knitting a test piece and adjust your needles accordingly.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Getting to know our new home

This is our walk home from town - what's not to love?

Our bungalow can't be seen from here, but it's to the right of the few houses you can see at the top of the cliff.

And here is the view from the garden fence. We went back down to the beach after lunch and walked away from town, towards Reculver. We disturbed several turnstones, they're incredibly well camouflaged against the shingle, you don't usually see them until they move unless they're in the water, like this little chap.

How many can you spot below? (click the picture to enlarge it)

We walked till we saw Reculver Towers then decided it was teatime! 

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Moving times...

oooh look I can see the removal van arriving!

oops, better go let the neighbours know that the lane is blocked

fortunately it wasn't raining...yet!

MrNifty trying to decide what to do next (I reckon it was probably time for another cup of tea)

3 hours later the van had gone. Another half an hour and we'd been signed out by the letting agent and on our way to pick up the keys! Poor removal men had to hunt down a new neighbour whose car was blocking their way through, but we got there in the end.

Our new kitchen. Those curtains came down pretty quickly! The boxes are still not all unpacked as I'm having to clean each cupboard first...want to see? 

No, probably best not.

We've moved 11 times now, each time we've left a spotless house behind us and moved to a not-so-clean place. Surely karma has to reward us eventually?

Interesting that the sudoku was first out of a box!

I made the bed as soon as I could, and took down the net curtain so we can see the sea from the bed - bliss!

Still got LOTS to do, but we're taking it slowly and enjoying walking on a new beach. That's what life is for, no point getting exhausted and grumpy just to unpack a few days quicker ;-)