A Birthday and my Favorite Tools atm.

Guess what we’ve been eating?….

Hubby had a birthday last week so there have been rather a lot of calories consumed here in Sussex! 

If you’ve followed me for any length of time you’ll probably know what’s coming next. Yep, monkey bread and birthday gateau.



One of my favorite yarns was inspired by this chocolate version of our birthday gateau and if you’re on Instagram you can see it knit up into a sock @grosifrick. She had also bought some of my yarns for a ‘find your fade’ shawl so I’m looking forward to seeing that when it’s all knit up.  I love seeing what people make with my yarns.

You can find the gateau recipe here and the monkey bread recipe is by Barbara bakes which you can find here. I add a twist to the recipe and I also put half a square of dark chocolate in the centre of each ball of dough to make it extra special.

I also treated Hubby to a venison roast on his birthday.

I think all that is going to mean I need to be rather strict with myself this week. And save up the treats for the end of the month when it’s my birthdayūüėā. 

On the creative front, there’s been a tiny bit of ‘me’ creativity. I’ve managed six rows of knitting on my shawl since I last blogged, which I don’t think I even told you about. I started it a few weeks ago.

 I’m using my bfl with nylon yarn in the Valley Hues colourway. Purple Is not a me color but I fell in love with this one so I couldn’t resist using it!  I’m using the Karise pattern from Ravelry and I was inspired by the beautiful shawls that my lovely friend Ericka Eckles has made. And as you can see I’ve finally worked out how to add links on my phone ūüėÄ

In shop creativity I’ve been having a big dpn needle holder sew up, So hopefully there should be more of them in my shop soon. 

 

Making these has been made so much easier by a couple of sewing tools I have so I did a short video to show you and share….. Aghh. It’s the first time I’ve done this and I don’t look very smiley but I’m sharing it anyway so have fun watching it, I’ll never be a t.v. Presenter that’s for sure! ūüėā

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Do have any great gadgets or things favorite things to share? I’d love to know. I may even add a ‘what I’m loving this week’ to my posts just for fun. Probs not a video though!! ! 

Have a very happy and creative week friends

Sharon xx

Tempus Fugits! 

Tempus Fugits… Time flies. Being the daughter of a watchmaker this expression was often used in our house and haven’t the last few weeks just flown by? 

My good resolutions to once again try to blog weekly didn’t even get off the ground but instead of keep apologizing, I’m going  ask your opinion.

If you’ve followed me for any length of time then you know that the content of my blog is in the title… Creativity and family, but since my Etsy shop has become busier nearly all of my creative time and energy goes into that and I feel that I’m left with very little personal creativity to share. So the question is, would you be interested in seeing some of the things I’m making for my shop and getting some peeps behind the scenes? 

Here’s a little taster for you.

As a teen, I used to do a lot of calligraphy. As hand lettering is making such a come back I decided to make some canvas signs for the shop.

First I drew the design onto paper, 

Traced it onto a canvas

And then using masking fluid I created a resist.


I then added layers of ink

Before removing the resist to reveal the writing! 


I’ve also been working on a custom order of some bags for a lovely lady who has a shop in Switzerland.

I love the fun colors of this fabric, perfect for spring! 

My sewing space is busy in both senses of the word but I love it that way…most of the time! 

These bags are my own design for a round bottomed Japanese knot bag and they are my favorite bag for taking out and about as they hang on your arm perfectly while you work, although the round bottoms aren’t the easiest to sew.

The long handle tucks into the shorter one to close the bag.


Then there’s the dyeing, I LOVE dyeing. That would sound awful if you didn’t know what I meant! I always say it without thinking and then end up shocking people. I went into the Chemist the other week for some acid, nothing awful, just the same strength as vinegar, but it was behind the counter and the assistant asked me what I wanted it for, I said ‘to dye’… You should have seen her face, I hastily added ‘to dye wool’!! After some laughing she let me have it. Then a friend rang while I was in the middle of dyeing yarn and asked if it was convenient to chat to which I replied ‘well, I’m just dyeing at the moment’. I  think I’ll have to start calling it coloring wool or something.

A dying rack full of brightly colored yarns is becoming a familiar sight in our house especially with all the damp weather and mist we’re having lately, it’s taking its time to dry.


My favorite part is thinking up and experimenting with new colourways.  Here’s a couple of my latest with coordinating mini skeins, 


And a lovely bright rainbow of minis

And my African sunset that may just find its way into my stash instead of the shop.


So, what do you think? Would you like more frequent posts with shop creativity or only the personal content as and when I’ve got things to show and say? 

In family news, first of all, thanks so much for all your kind thoughts, messages and enquiries about Abi. She’s recovering slowly and has started a phased return to work. This week she’s doing three six hour shifts, four the week after and five the week after that. She’s managed so far but only just and comes home exhausted. It takes her the next day to get over it so she’s a bit worried about how she’ll do two in a row. The trouble is, working in a residential home is hard work and even harder when all fifty three of them have dementia! It’s not only extremely busy and physically tiring, it’s also mentally exhausting.  Her tummy pains had gone before she returned to work but they do come back after a shift at work. She did have an appointment with a hospital consultant coming up so we’re hoping they might get to the bottom of it. We’re also really hoping that it isn’t anything that she’ll have to live with but we have to keep trusting God with that one. 


Here she is with a very chilled out Tilly.  Tilly has some news for you, she became a thelady at  beginning of the month!! Thankfully she kept herself very clean.  She keeps us all well amused and on our toes. Below is her new favorite position! 


I think she’s a bit confused between how dogs sit and how humans sit! 

Josh is off ill with a flu like virus that’s going round, we’re just hoping the rest of us don’t go down with it. Here he is with His new blanket.


How have you all been? Have you managed to avoid all the illnesses at this time of year? 

I’ll leave you with a very unusual sunrise we had recently. 


Happy crafting folks!! 

Sharon xx

Lovely packages and a KAL

I have so much I want to talk to you all about but at the moment I seem to be struggling to find the time to post!  Today I have a few minutes spare so I wanted to hop on and tell you all about the most wonderful package I received in the post last month. (if you follow me on Instagram @inspirationalyarns you will already have seem a peep!)

I took part in the yarn swap organised by Mina from the knitting expat podcast¬†(Interruption here to go and clean cat mess off of Josh’s football!!! ¬†Cats are lovely all the time they do not use our garden as a toilet.)

Back again, that was totally disgusting. So, back to the yarn swap, it was such fun. ¬†The rules were that you were paired with someone from another country and that you sent each other yarn local to you and some other local goodies. ¬†I was paired with a lovely lady called Linda from ¬†California. I was so excited packing up her goodies that I completely forgot to take photos but I sent her various local bits, chocs, fudge, notepad, fridge magnet and a few bits I had made, a project bag, herb sachet and yarn dyed in her favourite colours and I can’t remember what else! What I really wanted to share though was the amazing package Linda sent me!

I have to start with the yarn, she was so generous and sent me two super-soft merino 100g skeins. ¬†The brown one is from a local dyer to Linda in California and the other was from Linda’s stash and came from Dubai when she lived there which I thought was really exciting as I now have yarn from two different countries.

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Then of course there are the other goodies! ¬†The chocolate bars and See’s candies chocolates were again local and the See’s candies were just the best chocs I have ever tasted and the bars weren’t far off! Also some ‘original’ jelly beans which are made local to Linda.¬†Then there was a very special¬†notecard of handmade paper that Linda had bought from a local artist while she was abroad just two weeks before the area was hit by an earthquake which was rather special to receive and I just can’t bring myself to use it. ¬†There was also another notebook, two pencils and some sticky flags which are already proving very useful and two lovely bags, one with I¬†love knitting symbols and a Trader Joe’s bag which started in California and is just perfect for my grocery shopping. Lastly there was a lovely soft hand knitted washcloth and soap saver. ¬†These are just brilliant. ¬†I have crocheted some for the children but I haven’t yet made any for myself so I was thrilled to get these. ¬†I have seen patterns for soap savers but never made one but they are fantastic, I love using it in the shower with my favourite bar of soap! ¬†Linda was just so generous and the package was just overwhelming.

So, what am I planning to make with the yarn? ¬†Well,¬†I am hoping to design a crochet shawl pattern for them. ¬†I have just ordered a silver grey to use¬†with them so as soon as that arrives I shall get started. ¬†I have a few ideas sketched out so I think my current design will go on the back burner as I would like to join in Mina’s yarn kal – knit along (or crochet along for me).

All you need to do to participate is to knit or crochet something with yarn from another country.¬†¬†Oh yes, I also sent a package to Mina as a thank you and included some yarn and a project bag for a giveaway and on her podcast last week she said that these would be used as a prize for the yarn kal. ¬†The yarn is the same colourway as the one I dyed special for Linda and is called ‘Linda’, so if you fancy joining in you have the opportunity to win some of my hand dyed yarn¬†and a project bag.

I have my sister-in-law coming soon so I must dash but I hope you all have a lovely week and if you could spare a thought for my dear Uncle who had a severe stroke yesterday, less than two years after his brother (my Dad) died from a massive stroke.  He appears stable at the moment but is unable to move one side or talk.

Happy Crafting!!

Sharon xx

 

Playing with Colour.

Do you remember that gorgeous bunch of flowers that Abi gave me for my birthday?

They were so beautiful, especially the lilies that it seemed a shame to just throw them away so I decided to use them to dye some yarn.

I have dyed with natural dyes before so I knew that there¬†¬†are often surprises along the way and I wasn’t disappointed!

I stripped the flowers just before they died off, chopped them up and boiled them for a couple of hours. While the flowers were boiling I prepared the yarn.

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I had put the stamen into the pot too and knowing how much Lily stamen stain I was thinking I might get a bit of an orangey pink for the colour.

Well, the first surprise was that the spoon went bright yellow while the water was pink.

Once I started to dye the yarn it turned quite orange, a lot more orange than I thought and to be honest, a lot more orange than I wanted, although¬†considering the ratio of stamen to flowers I should have guessed that one as the stamen stain so much.¬† Sadly the photo of the yarn at this stage seems to have gone for a wander ūüė¶

Finally came the time to wash the yarn.  Here was the biggest and best surprise because most of the orange washed right out and I was left with a gorgeous flamingo pink!

Those stamen stained everything else, the carpet, my jumper and even my face but not the yarn!!¬† Not that I was complaining, I love the colour now ūüôā

I was now a bit concerned that the dye may not be colourfast so I rinsed it as I usually do until the water ran clear and then left it to dry completely.  I then washed the yarn again to double check its colour fastness and was pleased that not a single bit of colour washed out.

I would love to dye with lilies again (hint for more flowers Abi if you’re reading this) as the colour it produced was just gorgeous.¬† I would also like to try and re-create the colour with my acid dyes.

This skein of yarn is now available in my Etsy shop (inspirationalyarns).¬† Oh yes, you can get 10% off your first order too¬†with the code ‘firstorder10’ if you’re interested.

I hope you’re all enjoying your week so far, mine is a typical holiday week, the house is a mess with¬†muddy footprints and dirty shoes littering the conservatory floor but Josh is having fun and that’s what hols are all about ūüôā¬† Josh has a friend round today so I took the opportunity to jump on the laptop quick and say Hi!¬† I shall try to get around to posting again next week if I can.

I hope those of you with school holidays have a lovely time with your children and that all of you lovely peeps have a very happy and creative week.

Sharon xx

 

 

 

Challenges, crochet spinnning knitting designing!

I have quite a bit of creativity to chat about this week. ¬†Wips, to do’s and help me’s!!

Firstly Josh’s blanket (I am keeping this project in the fabric basket I got at Portsmouth in the summer).

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I ripped back the¬†blanket in January and started again with a more mindless pattern so that it could be my ‘no brain power needed’ project but I’m still going so slowly with¬†it! ¬†I think a lot of the problem is Josh!! ¬†Poor Josh, it’s not his fault directly but he is having a real job getting to sleep in the evenings so he is not going to bed so early. ¬†By the time he is asleep (anywhere between 9 and 10) ¬†I am ready to hit the hay myself!

Also, to be completely honest, I am just not enjoying it. ¬†I just have so many ideas for other things and other wips I would rather be doing that I overlook it! I have been mulling it over and decided to challenge myself (appealing to my competitive spirit usually works ūüėČ ) so, I will aim to work on it either for 15 minutes or work 1 row a day five days a week. ¬†Probably Monday to Friday but if I miss a day I will catch up at the weekend.

While I am challenging myself I may just add 10 minutes of spinning a day to the challenge.

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I have hardly touched my spindle this year and again it’s because I’m not enjoying it. ¬†I just don’t enjoy the colour I am spinning. ¬†Abi loves it though so there will be a use for it so maybe if I aim to spin it for a birthday gift for her (June) I may just have the incentive to get back on my spindle.

I am also thinking that my spindle could do with a case of its own.  Maybe with a separate pocket for the fibre?

Also on my hooks I have another crochet shawl that I am designing. This time I am using the yarn that Abi’s boyfriend gave me for Christmas. ¬†It is a lovely soft cotton, I love working with cotton but the only downside is that it can be rather splitty and this one is very splitty, so much so that if I don’t keep on top of sewing the ends in I end up with tassels!

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Despite this though I am loving working with the yarn and enjoying how the design is working out.  I am using the gorgeous bag that Jane made that was in my Stitching Santa swap.

I have made some bits and dyed some custom yarn for a yarn swap I have entered that Mina of the Knitting Expat Podcast is hosting but I won’t show them yet as I have told my swap partner about my blog! ¬†I love the yarn colourway that I design for the swap and shall show you all the bits once my partner has received them ūüôā ¬†Oh yes, and while I’m on the subject of dyeing…

I’ve been thinking that the lilies Abi gave me for my birthday would make a great natural dye, so I may be trying that one out next week!

I have also made a couple of project bags and done some more dyeing so there are a few more bits in the shop.

The socks I am knitting for Abi are also only coming along slowly, this time it’s the doctors fault!!! ūüėČ ¬†I am keeping them for knitting when I wait for appointments as they are so portable, (especially as I keep them in my Japanese knot bag which hangs perfectly on my arm as I knit).

Anyhow, the reason it is the doctor’s fault is that she has been on time lately! ¬†I always have to wait ages at the doctors and suddenly she decides to be on time! – I¬†mean, it’s wonderful that she’s on time but what about my knitting? ¬†I shall just have to start arriving extra early.

I did decide to buy extra ‘Big Softie’ yarn with my birthday money, lots of!!

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Hopefully enough to make a lovely oversized sweater. I am thinking of doing my own design so it will be interesting to see how that goes! ¬†I’m not too sure how easy it will be to frog as it’s a singles, I think there will have to be lots of planning and drawing first!

Now to my knitting dilemma.  I am wanting to knit a shawl.  I have some  yarn that I dyed that I would love to use.

And maybe this one to twin with it!

But I just can’t decide on a pattern. ¬†I have a couple I have downloaded, the latest being Mina’s brioche shawl. ¬†I love this design but I am really not sure if my knitting is up to two colour brioche. ¬†So if any of you have tried it I would love to know how easy it is? I have watched Mina’s tutorial which is really clear and helpful and has given me a bit more confidence but I’m still wavering!

Also do you have any other knitted shawl patterns to recommend?  I will be using 4 ply, each hank being 400m and I would like to use one or two colours and also try something new, like the brioche or maybe some simple lace?

I’m not sure why I haven’t started a pattern yet as I’ve been wanting to do this since the end of last year. ¬†I’m sure if I was looking at crocheting a shawl I would have started it by now, maybe it’s just my lack of confidence in knitting that is putting me off!

So with that lot on the go I think it’s time I sat myself down in the sun and got on with it, yes we actually have some sun today, enough for Abi and her cousin to try out sunbathing in the garden, I’m not too sure how long it will last!

I hope you all have a creative and lovely weekend.

Sharon xx

A Birthday and Mother’s Day!

It doesn’t seem possible that it’s over a year since I posted about my 40th birthday!! ¬†This year was a lot quieter! ¬†I didn’t have many presents as several people gifted me money which I have put by for now to wait for something special.

My first gift was early, from Abi and her boyfriend, as we had nowhere for her to hide it! They gave me two bar stools for the new breakfast bar Hubby has built.

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They also gave me some flowers on the day.

Josh got me this lovely notebook which is ring bound so that I can always add more pages and a little message inside.

I also had some creme eggs.  I have a bit of a weakness for these, in fact, I had a craving for them when I was expecting Abi and they may have had something to do with the her being a rather big baby at 9lb 8oz!  I ended up with a cesarean as she was too big for me!!

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Finally some blocking mats, well, they are kiddies play mats but the same as blocking mats and a lot cheaper! They were about £14 for a pack of 18 on Amazon.

Oh, I have to show you this card too!  I love it, it describes perfectly my friendship with this friend, we often talk on the phone and they are not short phone calls, it is great having freinds that you can talk to about anything and everything, do you have someone in your life like that?

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We had arranged to get together again as a family on my birthday as it seems to be a weekend that suits everybody.  We went for a walk and then back to my sisters for tea.  It was lovely to get to spend time with my family on my birthday.

For Mother’s day I got some more flowers from Josh, I love the deep red with the yellow

and Abi gave me some lovely squishy yarn. ¬†It’s Sirdar big softie and is a singles yarn. ¬†I am thinking that some of my birthday money may have to go on some more of this, as at the moment I am thinking of crocheting a jumper with it.

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Creativity time seems to be a little sparse at the moment, I think with Abi working shifts I usually keep the days and half days¬†she¬†is off free to do things with her if she isn’t busy which is lovely and I wouldn’t change it but it does cut down the creative time!

I hope you all have a lovely and creative week!

Oh yes, and before I go you can still get 15% off in my Etsy shop using the code ‘opening15’ until March 15th.

Sharon xx

 

 

 

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.  Рmore 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!