A Busy Year, News and an Offer!

Hi everyone.  I mentioned at the beginning of the year a couple of goals I had for this year. One of these was to create a pattern each month!

In January I designed a crochet shawl pattern which I am really pleased with.  Actually, I’m not the only one in love with it, so is Abi, she promptly claimed the first one, then loved the colours of the second too and claimed that too so I nabbed back the first although she would have happily kept both!!  Anyway, by the time I had tested the pattern, made alterations etc it was the middle of Feb and then I was so busy with other bits (I’ll tell you about that in a mo) that I have only made a start on my February pattern – another shawl but completely different.

So, what has been keeping me so busy?  I have decided after a lot of thought and prayer to open an Etsy shop, click here.  I don’t have a huge amount of self confidence so it has felt a really massive thing to do.

A name was really tough to come up with but in the end I decided to go with ‘Inspirational Yarns’ as most of the hand dyed yarns are inspired by our family, home etc.  I wonder if you can recognise any?

Here are the hand dyed yarns I have in the shop so far.  – more to list

I have four main bases, Superwash Blue Faced Leicester (British wool) and Nylon in a 4 ply.  Superwash Merino, cashmere and nylon in a 4 ply. Superwash Blue Faced Leicester, silk and cashmere, 4 ply and a Dk Superwash Blue Faced Leicester.

Also in the shop I have some project bags in two styles – both my own design

Japanese knot bags with a circular base

and ‘basket bags’.  I have designed these with an extra wide base and a top that folds down over the outside to create a basket.  Just one size at the moment but more to come when I get time to make them!

Oh yes, look out for the little embroidered mouse somewhere on your bag!

I have my new shawl pattern in there too (and on Ravelry), my ‘Pebbles Asymmetrical Crochet Shawl’ pattern.  here are a few pics

It is a long asymmetrical shawl with a diagonal stripe, which can be worn over the shoulders with the longer side wrapped around and tucked through or more like a conventional scarf.

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and here is the other colourway

I have also made some scripture wall hangings (I’m happy to do custom orders for these).

And that’s it for now.  I have just created a new site for the shop as I don’t really want my blog space to change too much, so although I will sometimes show you what I am making for the shop and let you know when I update most shop news will be on the new blog/site which you can find here.

Oh yes, I nearly forgot, I am now on Instagram too @inspirationalyarns. I am using that both for the shop and general day to day snapshots of life. Please let me know in the comments if you have IG so that I can follow you (that is, if you would like me to follow you of course!!)

Before I go I have a special offer for you all.  A discount code for 15% off of everything in the  shop until 15th March. ‘opening15’ There will be a little surprise gift included in the package for the first three people to order from my shop!

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Monthly Challenge. Old Goals – New Goals!

Well, it’s been a slow start to the year really with a little creativity in between a lot of tidying, finding homes for gifts, moving things around and into the new dresser Hubby is making and generally getting things in order but I have finally made time for my last monthly challenge reveal of 2015!

So, about my makes for the December challenge, I did it, just!!!  (Well sort of, more about that in a minute).  Doesn’t December already seem ages ago and I can’t believe that it was a year ago that Jennifer asked if anyone wanted to join her with a monthly make challenge!  As most of you will know I challenged myself to one make for Abi and Josh each month and also a ‘Me’/home make each month in 2015.

For my December makes I crocheted a lace shawl for Abi.  I used a different pattern to the other lace shawls. I had made six using the ‘feeling dotty‘ pattern and because I had made one of those for myself and one for my Mum, Abi wanted hers to be different!  To be honest, after making 6 dotty shawls it was a nice change to use a different pattern.  She chose the Elise Shawl from Ravelry. This was similar to the feeling dotty shawl but with only a two row repeat rather than three. It was quick and easy to make and the diagram was really helpful.  I added extra picots on the edge and she loves it.  (Her boyfriend calls it her spiders web, I take that as a complement to the delicate crochet!!) Here she is with it on Christmas morning!

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Then I knit my second pair of socks, this time for Josh. I had wanted to do a patterned  sock this time, I wanted something ‘manyly’ and midnight knitter suggested the Basic Ribbed sock pattern which I loved but then I realised that I would have to do a lot of resizing so I went with the Petty Harbour pattern.  I enjoyed working the pattern but with such a patterned yarn I think I would have been better with a plain sock or else plain yarn and patterned sock.

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They weren’t quite ready for Christmas but I just got them finished them on New Year’s eve….only to find that I hadn’t made the foot long enough grrr.  Ripping back was easier than I thought and I was so glad that I had worked top down!

So Josh finally got his socks New Years day and he loves them, in fact he put them on before I could get a photo and wore them for two days and two nights before I insisted they must be washed and managed to get a photo and here they are.

Finally for myself I made some stitch markers, I used lobster clasps so that I can use them for crochet as well as knitting.  At the moment they are on a ring in my project bag I made last month.

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You can read my other Monthly Challenge posts throughout 2015 here.

January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November.

It’s great to look back but also to look forward and ponder new goals for 2016.

I have been thinking that this year there needs to be a lot of stash busting.  There are no shopping bans planned but I do hope to keep buying to a minimum.

I would love to do quite a bit of up-cycling too.  During last year when we sorted out clothes I kept a lot of t-shirts for tarn and other clothes to be re-purposed. Hmm, not a lot of room in our loft right now but hopefully that will change as I always enjoy taking something unwanted and making it into something new and I’m looking forward to doing quite a bit of re-purposing.

So, what about a new Monthly Challenge?

I will not be doing the stocking present challenge again although I do hope to still make bits throughout the year for the children for next Christmas.  Abi was rather disappointed when I told her but I find it a real struggle to find ideas to make for Josh.

I have been thinking a lot about a challenge for 2016 and I have decided that I would love to create a pattern of my own each month, they will most likely be crochet patterns, in fact I am working on one now but more about that soon.  I know that some of you create patterns, where do you put them?  Do you just blog them or do you use Ravelry or something else?  I would love to use Ravelry more but I haven’t really got my head around how it works other than to get patterns from it!  Also ‘creativity and family is too long for Ravelry so I need to think of another name. I would have preferred to use the same name in each place.  I am also considering using Instagram. Do you use it and if you do, how do get on with it?

I would also like to make some more project bags and of course continue in my goal to be more creative.

I have some dyed fabric to use, I have lots of tarn and t-shirts to turn into tarn for some chair pads or maybe even a rug!

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Then there is the crocheted patchwork blanket

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and Josh’s blanket to get on with

and lots of scraps waiting to become hexies and eventually patchwork blankets!  Not to mention my rather large stash of both fabric and yarn. (it is stacked two deep!)

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I also received a yarn dyeing kit for Christmas from Hubby’s parents and I have just started exploring that!  I am having such fun and will be sharing more soon.

Well, I won’t have any excuse for being bored in 2016, that’s for sure!  How about you, do you have things that you would like to finish or start in 2016?  Also any pattern publishing ideas would be great.

Happy Crafting!

Sharon xx

I love to hear from you, so please feel free to like or leave a comment.  I will try to reply as soon as possible. x

October Challenge – A strange Month Really!

I can’t believe another month is nearly gone and only two more until Christmas!

I had October all planned out, I got my head around my Winter wips in this post here and was planning on using every spare minute to squeeze in some extra gift making time.  As is so often the case things just didn’t go to plan.

Firstly my neck played up putting a hold on crochet for a few days and then again a week later because I did too much too soon but it’s much better now thankfully.

Then Josh was quite poorly and had a high temperature for a week followed by Hubby who was ill for a few days so there was rather a lot of looking after to be done, day and night, steaming Josh when he got croupy and cooling him down when he was delirious etc. I obviously would rather they weren’t ill but I loved having the extra opportunity to do things for them.  Josh is quickly becoming more independent, usually walking to and from school now and spending every minute he can playing outside.  So in a strange way it was actually nice to have him relying on me a bit more, cuddling up in bed and reading stories.  Thankfully he still loves a cuddle and the darker evenings should mean a bit more time indoors. Remind me of this if I complain in the winter wishing he could get outside to play :o)

We snatched a few busy days away at the in-laws at the end of half term, had a lovely time and came home just in time for me to try to restore some order to the house ready for me to have a little op on Tuesday.  I didn’t have to have a general anesthetic but my my blood pressure dropped really low afterwards and yesterday I just didn’t have any strength at all.  Still, I did manage just a little crochet which is great because at least I feel I’m getting somewhere and today I managed to get the lunch boxes done before I had to crash out again.
Mum has been brilliant as usual and gave me a hand yesterday she also did a couple of really kind extras and used up some windfall apples I had been given to make us a crumble and cleaned my fridge out!

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Josh kindly decided that he would cook dinner.  (He gave Hubby and Abi the job of washing up!) Mum had put jacket potatoes in the oven and there was cold meat in the fridge but Josh wanted to make something else.  This is what he brought up to me!

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He had added baked beans and tomatoes to the jackets and meat and then to go with it there was toast with a chocolate sauce he had made!!  He gave it to me and said that the sauce should help me because it was really sweet as it had sugar and syrup in it.  His comment didn’t have any significance until bedtime when he asked me what it meant if my blood sugar had been low?  He had overheard Hubby talking about my blood pressure being low and thought he had said blood sugars, hence the extremely sweet chocolate sauce with my dinner. It was rather special to know that he had made the sauce especially to help me.

Josh was also very good at occupying himself yesterday, he started off outside but then it rained heavily so he told me he would be painting a canvas he had for Hubby and me for Christmas.  When he came upstairs later on he had a rather colourful top, he assured me that it was only an old t-shirt anyway (the usual excuse if he gets his clothes dirty) so I sent him down to soak it in soapy water.

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This was the colour of the water this morning, at first I thought it was paint but then I realised that he had used rather a lot of washing up liquid. The painting bits will have to be put away tonight,

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I did rescue one of Abi’s best paintbrushes!

Anyhow, after all that rambling I shall show you what I made for my challenge this month.
For Josh’s stocking make it was a simple mobile phone case for when out cycling, running etc. Yes, it doesn’t seem possible but Josh is nearly the age (11th birthday) when he will be allowed a mobile phone ready for when he moves up to secondary school.

I took a stretchy sock, and stitched a seam to get rid of the heel,

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trimmed the heel away,

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cut off the toe and zig zagged the raw edge,

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folded the sock back on itself wrong sides together and machined the two edges together at the back half of the top,

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I then stitched a seam from top to bottom on the left and right of this seam, this left me with a tube with a pocket.  You put this on your upper arm and slip your phone into the pocket.

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.Abi kindly modelled it for me.

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For myself I made a little solution to a problem some of us with too many wips have. The problem I have is when I pinch the crochet hook from one project to use in another or the hook gets separated from my project.  When I next go back to it I then have to try to remember/work out what size hook I was using and it is so frustrating if I get wrong!  I could write it on a piece of paper but I have tried that and they seem to grow legs so I wanted to devise something that could be attached to the project or bag.

So I bought a packet of numbered beads to make some markers.

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I didn’t have enough fives so I used a # instead, eg 3.5 is 3#.  Also the 6 and 9 are the reverse of each other so I used the heart bead from the pack before the nine to show which way up it was.

I also decided to use some of these vintage beads that a 91 year old lady gave me recently

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I took a length of wire and bent the end with round nosed pliers,

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threaded on the beads

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and bent the other end of the wire round

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added a jump ring

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and added a lobster claw clip

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now I just need to make a case to keep them in. (oops, and add a lobster to claw to the number2!!)

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My make for Abi is a crocheted beanie hat, I am just waiting for the pompom to arrive in the post and then I will show you that properly!

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In the background you can just see an old quilt, I want to show you more of this sometime.  I was given it by a lady in her eighties about 20 years ago, it was an English paper pieced patchwork quilt top that her Great Aunt had been in the process of making when she turned blind, it was over a hundred years old when it was given to me.  I didn’t really know anything about quilting then so I just added a border, batting and backing and to quilt it I stitched ribbon flowers into each centre hexagon.  It is on our bed at the moment but sometime I would like to take it apart and hand quilt it properly.  It was made from scraps and I love the muted colours and the delicate patterns.

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So although I didn’t achieve a great deal this month at least I (almost) finished my October Monthly Challenge!

I am trying not to get stressed about my gift making but just go with the flow, hopefully it will all come together in the end.  I just want to enjoy what I make, I want love and care to be in each stitch and for them not to be rushed or as Jenny over at Elefantz is running,

homemade – stitched with heartstrings, so here’s to a productive November!

Happy Crafting!!

Sharon xx

Monthly challenge – September. Roses, Hand-spun yarn and Sewing.

How can it possibly be the end of another month already!  The time when I reveal my makes for the monthly challenge inspired by Jennifer.  I am really looking forward to showing you this month’s makes so here goes…

Firstly for my ‘Me/home’ make I decided to try to make something using the last bit of my handspun yarn left over from the shrug I made Abi last month.

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I needed a small project so I put the yarn quantity into Ravelry and chose this pattern to make a pair of fingerless mitts.

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I had to do them a little shorter than the pattern stated as I was worried about running out of yarn, I was glad I did as I had to finish the second mitt just a few stitches short.

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The long colour change has meant that the two gloves are noticeably different but I think they are still similar enough not to look too odd

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and it is so special to wear something that I have spun myself and I have been making good use of these already with the mornings being quite fresh as summer fades into autumn here in England.

The only downside with these is the jog that you get with crochet when you start a new row in the round.

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I think next time I shall work in a spiral.

I have also been busy sewing and when I made Josh’s stocking present for this month I did it factory style and used up all the fabric making it seven times as gifts for my nephews.

I have made seven reading cushions.

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I love this idea, I saw it on Pinterest and immediately thought of my book loving nephews.  It is just a simple cushion with a pocket on the front to store your book.

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I had meant to add a handle but didn’t remember until it was too late!

I have divided each pocket so that there is a small pocket with space for a torch, a mobile phone or maybe a tube of sweets and the large pocket for a book. The fabric is from a duvet I found in a charity shop and looked almost new.

I overlapped the fabric by about 8″ at the back and used Abi’s machine to sew some ‘boyish’ fancy stitching on the seams of the pocket and opening.

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Now Abi’s make I am really excited about.  It all started with a link to this site by one of you lovely ladies (sorry, my memory is failing me again and I can’t remember who!!). I was fascinated because it was so different…

…How to make beads from rose petals.  So I stripped my rose bushes

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measured them,

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added water, liquidized ,

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heated and then shaped them,

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threaded the pulpy balls onto a knitting needle and balanced them over a bowl to dry in the summer sun.

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The tutorial said they will shrink so I made the beads approx 1″ diameter and I was glad I did as after they had dried they had shrunk to 1/4 ” and dried a beautiful dark red-brown.

They dry really hard and sound as though they are wooden when I drop then onto the table.  They were a bit rough so I sanded them down and I love them so much.  They are supposed to keep their scent if you use highly scented roses but mine had very little scent.

I then decided to alternate the rose beads with wooden beads for a necklace for Abi.

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For a pendant I used a stone with a hole in it that I found at the beach.  (I collect these every time I see one for using as pendants.)

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I used cord to thread them and did a  sliding knot on each end so that the necklace can be adjusted.

I took some rather awkward selfies to try and give the effect of them on but my arms are just not long enough!

Here it is worn shorter

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and longer.

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With the last bead I made another necklace, this time with a shell for a pendant and the rose petal bead just above and wooden beads to compliment it.

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I was just so amazed at how hard the beads were considering that they had come from petals!  These were just so easy and fun to make and was well worth stripping my rose bushes for!

So another month is gone by and I need to get thinking about October makes.  How about you, have you started making Christmas gifts yet?  I hope you have a happy and creative week.

Sharon xx

I love to hear from you, so please feel free to like or leave a comment.  I will try to reply as soon as possible. x

August Monthly challenge – Lego, shrugs and stitch counter.

August has flown by and here we are in September.   It is getting dark earlier really quickly now and first thing this morning I could just see my breath when I went outside. Josh is back to school this week, Abi has started her new job and I’m thinking about what gifts need making over the next four months!!

I am glad that I joined Jennifer in this challenge as it means I won’t be rushing to make gifts for Abi and Josh.  I did gasp rather the other day though when I started to write all the gifts yet to make, especially as I have had five requests for the ‘feeling dottie’ shawl I made recently.  It’s a gorgeous pattern but being lace it is not the quickest!

So the ‘Me/home’ make this month was a quickie as being the hols creativity time has been in short supply!  I needed a row counter that I didn’t have to have on my needles/hook so I decided to make my own version of one I had seen several people selling on ebay.

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I simple bent the end of a piece of wire into a loop, threaded on two beads, a row counter, two more beads and then bent the wire into another loop.  I added a clip and tada!  It’s great, I can use it when knitting with circular needles or in crochet by attaching it to my work or my jumper!

For Josh it was another simple but effective make.  A lego head jar (you can see some examples here).  I was a bit disappointed that the yellow wasn’t brighter but otherwise I am pleased with it.

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You simply pour yellow paint into the right shaped jar, swill it around to cover all of the inside and leave to dry.  I also painted the lid.  Then you draw the face on the outside using a marker pen.  A great place to keep boyish treasures!

For Abi I wanted to make a shrug with the yarn that I spun.  I found this ‘Glam Girl’ shrug pattern I liked that didn’t use too much yarn.  It looks lovely in the photos but when I read the pattern I was a bit concerned as it was simply a rectangle joined at the corners and then a couple of rows around the armholes.  So I decided to do a trial run first.  It worked out beautifully with just a couple of alterations to the pattern.

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So I worked up a second shrug with the yarn I spun.  I am so pleased with it.

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I love the way that the colour changes have worked out too.  There was a little yarn left so I made a little something for myself which I shall show you another time.

Well, that’s all for now but I shall be back soon, hopefully with socks on my wips list!!

Happy Crafting!!

Sharon xx

I love to hear from you, so please feel free to like or leave a comment.  I will try to reply as soon as possible. x

Monthly Challenge – July. A rummage, yarn and …

This month has flown by.  When I saw Jennifer’s July Martha and Me post (the inspiration for my own challenge) I sort of panicked!  I still had Abi and Josh’s stocking pressies to make!

First though here are a couple of pics of what I made for myself.  If you didn’t see the original post you can read more about them here.

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So, on to the kids makes.  I was starting to get a bit stuck on ideas for Josh, why are boys and men so hard to make for?  I think I need to start a new trend for men wearing shawls and boys using pretty bags!

Anyhow, off I went to Pinterest and had a good look and (just) managed to find enough ideas that I liked and also think Josh will like to last me to the end of the year, Yay!!

Next I had to order bits so it was off to ebay for some cufflink blanks!

Then a rummage in here

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and a good dose of superglue later I had transformed the blanks into these.

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Still puzzled?  You may have seen the card I made for Abi’s 18th using bits that Dad used in his watch repairing, well I managed to find two watch movements to fit the blanks.  What do you think?  Certainly different.

I think that Josh will love them as he and Abi – well me too actually – are all rather sentimental about any connection to Dad.

Abi’s pressies has been in the back of my mind for a while after reading this post on sadieseasonsgood blog. A teapot sewing caddy!

I searched the charity shops but there were no really pretty teapots about but then I came across these…

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perfect!  I quickly decided that I could do with a caddy as well 🙂

One is a bakery

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and the other a bookshop.

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Ideal as we both love cake baking and books.

It was simply a case of cutting a piece of fabric about 3″ larger than the lid on each side, gather the edges with a running stitch, fill with stuffing,

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pull it up and stitch it closed

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before gluing it into the inside of the lid!

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Tada!  a very different sewing caddy!

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Another month done and I am already halfway through Josh’s make for August.  I am really enjoying this challenge as it really focuses me to keep to my goals (thanks Jennifer).

I may not about much over the next few weeks, Hubby has two weeks off coming up and we are hoping to have a ‘holiday at home’, days out, friends to tea, etc (and hopefully a few jobs around the house if we get a wet day!).

HappyCrafting!

Sharon xx

I love to hear from you, so please feel free to like or leave a comment.  I will try to reply as soon as possible. x

The Budgies are Finally Finished!!

I feel a bit shy about showing you these knitted budgies – when Abi and Hubby saw them they both laughed.  (We are very honest with each other here!)  To be honest, I am a bit disappointed with them myself, they are meant to be for Josh’s stocking (My Monthly challenge make for April),  I just hope that when Josh gets them in his stocking he won’t wonder what on earth Mum has decided to make him 🙂

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So, how did the knitting go after years of avoidance?  I really don’t know.  At times I started to relax and enjoy it but at other times I nearly gave up and nothing but sheer obstinacy kept me going.

Firstly I had to go to YouTube to find out how to cast on.  I could vaguely remember the thumb method so a quick video later and I had my first 9 stitches cast on, great!  Until row 3 where I had to M1, make one.  A special note said I wasn’t allowed to KBF or INC1 (whatever they may mean) because they would alter the stitch count, I must make one.  So I carefully followed the instructions but every time I ended up with a hole.  I was very near to giving up at this point but I mentioned my problem here and one of my lovely followers, Midnight Knitter at yarnbooksroses, soon gave me a link for a way that didn’t leave a hole. (Thanks so much. x)

So, I undid my precious knitting and started again – groan – I hate starting again.  One of the joys of crochet is that I am mostly able to work around mistakes but knitting was not proving so forgiving.

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This time things went well for a few rows and no holes from ‘knit one’s’ – just a dropped stitch!  When I was a girl, Mum always sorted out things like that for me but I can remember her wiggling the yarn up the rows and back on to the needles.  So I did just that and it worked, yes! you couldn’t see where I had done it at all.  I was now starting to think that maybe knitting was okay after all.

Then what…. I was doing SS, knit a row, purl a row, but I had knit two rows one after the other and half of the front was on the back.  So I ripped back several rows, muttering and grumbling as I fiddled around trying to pick up these tiny stitches and longing for my crochet hook.  I picked them up, not really sure which way round to have the stitches so there was rather a mixture.  It didn’t appear to make any difference other than some were harder to work into on the next row.  I was having a really fatigued week and this happened several times, once in the middle of the row, not sure quite how I managed that!  After a bit I learnt to know which side I was on and again started to enjoy knitting and managed to work out, all on my own, how to knit 2 tog through the back of the stitch.  I did check with Mum afterwards and I had got it right 🙂

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I continued like this x 3, gradually with a little more enjoyment and a lot fewer mistakes, until I was left with lots of body parts.

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I don’t usually enjoy sewing together but this time I was eager to see the finished result.  As I moved on to the second budgie I realised that one was considerably bigger than the other.  I had knitted looser on the second and third birds as first time around it had been quite hard working into the stitches, but dopey me, I didn’t even think that they would then turn out different sizes.

I was ever so disappointed with them at first I added the features and detail they began to look a bit more budgie like.  I added a bit of needle felting to create their ‘beard’ as Abi kindly described it! Sadly the one I like the least is the yellow one which happens to be the budgie that actually belongs to Josh.  I think that because she is all the same colour there isn’t the detail to make it look a little more like her.  (My knitted budgies all look rather over fed!)

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I then covered a hoop, attached the budgies and crocheted a few leaves to add interest.  (I would have liked to add flowers but I was worried Josh would think it a bit girly if I did that).  And here they are…

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The final question is …. will I be knitting again?  I would like to keep my hand in and maybe learn a little more, so I shall try to make something small and simple from time to time but for me, crochet definitely wins the day!

We are just starting our second day with no water supply, a 30 inch cast iron water main has burst leaving people up to 10 miles away without water!  So all fun here, Josh keeps hoping they will close the school 🙂

I have several lovely things on the go so hopefully more about them soon.

Happy Crafting!!

Sharon xx

I love to hear from you, so please feel free to like or leave a comment.  I will try to reply as soon as possible. x