Monday, May 29, 2006

Summer Reading Challenge...

I've finally decided on the books that I will read for the Summer reading challenge. I try to make sure that my reading is well balanced, because I tend to just want to read mysteries...and then I just want to read non-fiction. The problem is I then get bored with it, so I like to switch things around so here is my list:

Martin Davies - The Conjuror's bird
Tim Brookes - A Hell of a place to lose a cow
Dana Stabenow - A Taint in the blood
Jasper Fforde - The eyre affair
Josie Dew - A ride in the neon sun
Martha Grimes - The Winds of Change
Barbara Pym - An Unsuitable Attacment
Gillian Tindall - The house by the thames
Jeanne M. Dams - Silence is golden
Julian Barnes - Arthur and George

These are all books I've had in my reading box that need to be read. A couple of them I've been holding on to for awhile, not really for any reason. So I'll be glad if I get to Aug and I've read all of these!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Can't believe it is almost clean!

By this weekend I should have a clean craft room! I just have to figure what to do with Rich's computer! I went through my yarn, and designated some of it for charity knitting. I have to admit, I DON'T have as much as I thought...but I do have more there that I didn't remember buying......But that is from 6 years or so ago before I got married and moved here. It is good to get the stuff out and feel that I'm a bit more organized! Getting there anyway.

I've joined to challenges for this summer. The first one is a summer reading challenge. Read about it here: I have to get my book list figured out. I need to get back to doing some reading because I've become very knit I have to admit we now have a TV in the bedroom.....shock horror! But very handy when it gets so cold in the winter (or now actually!)

The second challenge is the Knitting World Cup. Read about it here:
I think I'm going to work on my blanket. I found a good pattern I think in the new book I got today. I wasn't sure about this book, because I've not really ready more then one review of it. But I should have known it would be good when I found out the author is Melanie Falick who wrote American Knitting, my favorite book af all time! Anyway, there are some flower washcloths in here that I manage to find the yarn for....Yeah!!! These will make great gifts. Also, the blanket I could use my Colinette kit I bought at the Knitting and Stich show last year. If I don't watch it, I might actually get all the kits done I bought there.....

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Malvern Quilt Show

I had a great time at the Quilt show...what...I didn't mention it at my last post?? Well, that is because I didn't know I was going until I got an email from a friend from the National Needlework Archive where I volunteer!

I went on a find the weird and wonderful items I could find! So what did I find???

Punch needle and kit for making a small picture...this was a gift for someone....
Needle Felting kit
Silk roving to use for felting
Wool top to use for felting
Opal self striping yarn for socks (I liked the colors)
Anchor pearl cotton to make a scribble scarf....see Debbie New's "Unexpected Knitting"
Several different pieces of fabric for bags.....

I've got lots to if I could just find the time! I did find lots of really good color inspiration too. I might show one of those pics later after I study them a bit more. The quilts were awesome!

I did manage to finish crocheting a project and I'll have to work on sewing it up and getting the black felt I need for that project...then I can give it as a gift and can take a pic for here!

I did actually get into my craft room today and managed to do some cleaning out of old mags to get rid of...and rearrange things so that I can get my yarn in one area so that I can actually find what I want when I need it! I found a bunch of yarn today that I brought with me from the States that I had NO IDEA I had!!!! Which is good because my friend Linda has decided that the four of us at the NNA are going to work free form waistcoats for Christmas. We can't buy any new yarn....well she did say we could buy one ball if we are desperate....hmmm...I did try to talk her into something smaller! When is that extra hour or so a day going to come????

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Information about Free Form

Bekka asked in the comments about the workshop so I thought I would tell about a few websites you can have a look at. The first is Prudence Mapstones website She has a wealth of information and was a wonderful teacher. You never did anything wrong in the just did it different and if you didn't like what you had made...cover, hide, or embellish it until you do! I found that wonderful! Prudence is from Australia though, so doesn't do many workshops here or in the US. If you keep an eye on her website she does say where she is teaching. She also has 3 great books to buy and some books you can pay for and download which I think is great! I did find that you can buy her books in the States, but I've not checked Amazon. Again, all the infor is on her website. It is well worth a look because her work is gorgeous.

Someone in that States that gives workshops is Margaret Hubert. You can see her website at: She also has a lot of good information on her website.

It really is a liberating exercise to do this type of work. I enjoyed it a lot. Have a play with it and see what you think! There are no wrong or right way, which is so unusual in knitting!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I can't believe it!

As if I hadn't posted enough today...but I just have to rant. I've been working on this blanket for my nephew since Christmas. With this piece you worked the center and then worked a garter stitch border. The border is built like a frame...well my frame was TWISTED!!! Even after spending upten hours redoing and redoing and checking and checking!!! Oh well it is better now. I'm not posting a picture just in case my sis is on here and I don't want her to see it until I've sent it to her!

So how did I fix it??? Well I stuck two needles in at different places. Cut the work (YES I CUT THE WORK AAAAGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH). I did a three needle cast off, which I've never done before. I just have to make sure that the resulting seam is in the back of the blanket when I sew it up. By that time my foot was asleep from sitting on the floor trying to fix it, so I gave up pinning it.....This is the first big piece that I've done like this and I can now see why they are selling those new clips for holding the work together. I might have to see if I can source them here! They look like small hair clips, but with fewer claws........

Last but not least....Workshop part 5

To the left is what someone who is experience can do! This is Mel's work that she did while there. It all looked so fabulous! Thanks for all the help Mel!

Here is my piece...the top right two blocks don't go with the rest too well...but I do like the two pieces, they should be on a different project. This isn't the best picture but it will do. I really enjoyed the class and plan on getting a bag made to show Prudence when she comes back for the Knitting and Stitching show in October.
This is some of the stuff I bought at TAJ Crafts for the workshop. I didn't get to use all of it, but I'm looking forward to using it for my bag.

And what is these you might ask??? Well...this is some of the other stuff I bought at TAJ. One of them is for presents....the purple, red and blue skein is Banana fiber. Isn't that cool? The redish and blue skeins are recycled sari's and the pink and orange is bamboo. Spent my I have to be good now for awhile....I also bought several mags and a great book! Unexpected Knitting by Debbie New. It is wonderful! She gives the patterns for some of the work, but it really is a piece to just look at and get inspiration from!

Oh, I guess I better confess that since I was buying a gift through Amazon...I also ordered Weekend Knitting. I've seen a couple projects on it that look really good, so we will see! Well...I did have to get the postage free, right???

Workshop, part 4

Here is Maggie with her piece from the second day.....don't know how I missed taking a pic of her work for Sat! Shame on me!
This is Suzy's piece on Sat....
And Suzy on Sunday....the one person that wasn't wearing the same color as she was working on!

Workshop, part 3

Here is Brittany and her friend working hard....

Here is Tracy, one of the owners of TAJ who took such good care of us! And Avril who had a stunning Mitered bag I wish I had photographed!
Here is Avril's lovely concoction....
And Tracy's....

Someone mentioned..I think Ruth that we all seemed to be wearing the colors that we were using as our pieces....she was right too. How weird is that! I know I didn't do it on purpose and I don't think others did either!

Workshop, part2

Above is Sue's lovely conconction....
This is Julie's...poor thing had run off when I took this picture so she is mid- embellishment
Here Julie and Sue working very hard
This is Bettina's first day installment, very muted tones....
But on Sunday, she went crazy! This is what she calls her Crazy Purse!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Workshop, part 1

Well I'm back! And it was TERRIFIC! If you are at all interested in combining knitting and crochet and want to do something totally without rules, this is for you! I've finally learned to download pictures and so I will try to add some now....cross our fingers it work!

First, Purdence is a joy. She has so much energy and never says that looks awful redo it. Instead she says, if you don't like it minimise it with more embellishment! Melanie Gill who is a really great freeform artist was also there from the US. She was fount of information and my head was reeling at the end with so much information!

I have a pic of me and Purdence but I'm almost embarrassed to show it. I found out this morning I was coming down with a that is my excuse why the picture of me looks so bad! I almost didn't share it...but decided that if I was going to show other people...I need to show me too! Unfortuantly, I didn't get a good picture of Mel, but that is here in the background looking down.Just to prove that this is an especially bad picture here is a better picture!
Ok, a bit cheaty...but it is better!

Anyway, here is Joy who was trying out new colors!

I will show more tomorrow.......

Friday, May 12, 2006

Weekend ahead!

It is 2:15 and I just can't wait to leave work so that I can dive into my stash and find the rest of the 10 yarn colors that I need for my workshops this weekend. I hope that I get a lot of rest tonight and that I'm not as tired tomorrow and Sunday as I am today. The thing is I know how exhilerating but exhausting these workshops are. Since hubby is taking me up there, I plan on bring the lap top so I can write in Word my direct impressions from the first day so that I can give a full account of how it goes. I want to use this as a good guide to help me remember.

I was reading Stephanie Pearl-Mcphee's "Knitting Rules" last night and she mentioned a knitting journal. I have one that I bought that really isn't big enough to keep much information. I think the girl from Pixie Purls (or was it Knitcentric??? to many podcasts!!) was talking about putting her patterns on her IPod so that she can do her knitting on the move without carring the pattern. I thought about both of these things...and then thought of my lonely PDA that my husban bought me when he broke my others. I've not been using it as much, mostly because I don't like it as much as I liked my first one. The first one was light and worked a lot better! The point is, however, that I should be useing the PDA to keep track of patterns I want to make AND I could copy and paste some of my simpler patterns on to my PDA. As long as I'm not giving them to anyone else, I think it should be ok with copywrite because I can make one copy for myself to just won't be paper. I'm going to see how it goes. I often get somewhere and find some surprise yarn store (well I do dream about these places...) and don't know what yarn I need for the patterns I've got in my head to do. So that is my challenge for the rest of this month is to get that all sorted...and get my craft room fixed up so that I can actually do what I want creatively!!!

Good news is I've started my birthday present for a friend in crochet (out of Erika Knight's crochet simple book) and I'm almost finished with Tobins blanket (literally about 10 more rows and the sewing up!) and I've got one and a half blocks down for Wesley's.

Actually, last night was a mile stone. I don't usually knit in public except at lunch. I actually took my meeting to our Thursday night group and knitted while we had our study. Everyone seemed ok with me doing it. I also am trying to get together some charity's for our church ladies to make blankets or squares I'm busy going that. Last night they thought I might have been doing that...but I had to admit it was for my Nephew to be.....

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Ever have one of the times when your brain is just so creative but you don't have the time to actually DO any of it???? It is driving me crazy!!!!! Friday I talked about all the books I got and the bags and boxes I want to make....but of course I can't get around to get them. We had a very busy weekend and I've got a busy week of studying etc to do...but I will get around to it. It will be so good when I get my craft room back! Then I can just go up there and get stuff out and not worry about putting it all away! Soon...soon!

Funny story. The other day Rich went out to get the car out. Most of the garages in the UK barely fit the small cars we have, let alone let you get in it to drive it in and out. So I have to wait for Rich to get the car out and I usually hang out in the house, finishing up turning stuff off, set the alarm, see if I've forgot anything...which of course I never remember anyway....etc. So I set the alarm and walk out thinking that the flowers in our flower pot look pretty good after the rain we had the previous evening. I stood looking at the flowers for a good few minutes...only to think...gee it is taking Rich a long time to get the car out....wait a minute...the door to the garage is shut...that is funny, that is my job to shut the door before getting in the car. Then I look across the street at my silly husband, who had backed out the car, pull it out across the street and parked, closed the door to the garage, got back in the car....and proceeded to watch me patiently for 5 min while I have my head in the clouds trying to figure out where he went!!!! He didn't even honk or roll down the window to yell at me or nothing!!! He thought it was so funny to watch me looking STUPID! Well, I got my own back...I always do!

Few more rows of Tobin's blanket to do and I've started Wesley's today. It is out of the Lucinda Guy book "Designs for kids". I love the colors...but I got to looking at the pattern and realized that I've picked another brain numbing pattern to do. It is all garter stitch. I made sure I found something more interesting for my other sister that is preggers! I sent of for the pamplet for the afghan that was featured in the Mason Dixon Knitting book from Woolly Thoughts It is awesome and even though the stitching itself is still in garter, there should be a lot to think about with the curves etc. I'm really looking forward to making it.

Well, time to clean out the little girls! Life is so interesting when you have rodents! The guinea pigs are out mowing our postage stamp yard, and the rats and mice are sleeping...but not for long! He He He.......

Friday, May 05, 2006

I'm the luckiest girl in the world!!!

This has been the best week! I've not had to work to much...the weather has turned lovely...and I GOT LOTS OF CREATIVE STUFF! Three books...crochet magazine from the States...2 recycling ideas to try...etc...etc. It has been wonderful!

The books...most important event! I had ordered "Big Girl Knits" and I got it in on Thursday! What a great book. The patterns are actually a bit big for me...can't believe that! But what I wanted more then anything was the first part where they show you how to fit your body. Especially how to change your patterns to fit you! I really can't wait to try them might be a bit. And I want to find a good pattern to make mom something!

I finally got tired of hearing how great two other books are and decided to just go ahead and buy them and they came in TODAY! The first I can't keep my hands off...."Mason Dixon Knitting". It is everything that others said it was. I was afraid it might be a bit too country for me, but it has so much in it that I want to make. I can't get over it!

The third book is "Knitting Rules" by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. I've opened it, but it is going to be my nightly reading for the next few weeks. It looks wonderful!

A very nice lady for the States took pity on me and sent me the Spring Interweave Crochet magazine. It looks wonderful and I'm really looking forward to using a couple of the ideas it has given me!

I've also had some great ideas about recycling materials. I'm making a string bag at the moment...which I think I've written about but it is out of plastic and I thought it would be better to not buy plastic when I'm surrounded by plastic bags. So I've started doing some research and have found a couple different ways of cutting up the bags and I'll see how it goes. There are some nice bag patterns out there if you google "recycle +plastic bags +knit" I also used +crochet. I like the idea of the string bag though because it can be folded up and put into your purse or pocket and still be reused over and over again! We are always getting somewhere and not having a bag so you have to get another plastic bag.

Also, I want to try and make woven boxes out of think cardboard boxes, like Kleenex boxes etc. We will see how that to get that craft room cleared out so I can do some of this stuff!!!

Anyway....better get back to my reading!!!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Secret Pal 8

I decided that I wanted to meet more knitters so I've joined Secret Pal 8. I'm really looking forward to learning more about someone and spoiling them with yarn! I have to wait now and get my email that says who I have! Here are the questions that they have asked me to answer for the person who is my secret pal!

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
I like all different types of yarn...though I have to admit that I prefer natural or fancy acrylic blends. I used so much Red Heart with I was crocheting as a youngster that I've really been turned off of it.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
I have a beautiful wicker basket that is in the shape of a vase. I use to keep it up in my craft room...don't get to excited it has become a dumping ground for my hubby's computers and our DIY projects...but now I keep them in my living room. I have some beautiful Brittany and Lunar Moon needles and I like having them where I can see them.

3. How long have you been knitting? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
I toyed with knitting since I was 18 or so. I've always crocheted and other various crafts but found it difficult to knit. I'm very tight and in my teens and twenties got very easily frustrated by that. I had a lovely lady try and teach me, but she really only managed to get me to do the longtail caston. Now that she is gone, I use that method all the time because it reminds me of her. My grandmother never could knit because like me, she was to tight. When I turned 30 I sat myself down one weekend when the family was away and started to teach myself. I never looked back. I think I did baby socks almost immediately and have always challenged myself with hard projects. No easy scarves for me when I was starting out! Of course now I've knitting lots of scarves and the rest! I would say that I'm an intermediate knitter who will try advanced projects if tempted by the right project!

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
I have a wish list under the name of Dawn Downes

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)
I love vanilla or lavender! Anything soothing!

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
I do have a sweet tooth. My favorite candy is sugared almonds, though I love Nestle's chocolate since you can't get it here very often in the UK.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
I want to try to spin one of these days, but I'm afraid it will take over my life! I already do so many crafts, as I say in the websites intro, my husband despairs of me! My favorite is knitting and mosaic. Though I also like quilting, sewing and fixing up reclaimed items. One day I hope they figure out how to give us more time in a day!!!

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
Wow, they give good ideas here! I love all kinds of music, I'm very eclectic. My favorite would be alternative music (Franz Ferdinand is a fav at the moment and Cold Play or Tori Amos) I have an MP3 player and can listen at work and at home on my computer.

9. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand?
I LOVE color. Everyone wears so much black that I want to be sure to have color on my all the time. I'm really going through a purple/mauve/dark pink faze at the moment. Though I like all colors. Red isn't the best thing for me to wear close to my face, so I don't usually do scarves in red.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
I have a wonderful hubby and The Girls. The girls are 2 guinea pigs (Dervla and Josie), 3 virtues (pet rats: Faith, Hope and Charity) and 4 detectives (pet mice: Kate, Kinsey, Sharon and Brit).

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
Don't really do ponches and hats only look good if they are berets. But mittens and scarves LOTS! Can never have to many!

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
Anything really, though I have to admit I've never attempted a sweater yet for myself. I've bought a couple kits that will change. Right now I'm in to bags. I've made two this year so far and really enjoy that I can make them exactly the way I want them to be. I like to have a really long strap that I can wear across my body.

13. What are you knitting right now?
Right now I'm finishing up a blanket kit I bought from Clickety Knits for my new nephew Tobin. I need to wash and sew up a lining for my Recycled Sari bag. Start my nephew Wesley's blanket so he might have it by the time he is born in August...and I just found out that I'll have to find ANOTHER baby blanket pattern because my other sister (I have 3) has my last baby of the year! (Just found out she is pregnant last night!) I'm also crocheting a string bag from one Erika Knight's books.

I'm also working on a knitting art project and fooling around with free form knit and crochet. I'm doing a workshop in a few weeks for this and I'm trying out different techniques. I've always said that I'm a crafter not an artist...but I'm starting to blur the lines. Maybe it is just maturity!

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
Depends on the project. I don't really use plastic but I'll use straight, circular, bamboo, aluminum (like Addi turbos) or wood!

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
No, alas....though I have found that though knitting makes me car sick...I can wind up balls of yarn!

17. How did you learn to knit?
Covered above on how long I've been doing it!

18. How old is your oldest UFO?
Knitting??? Well I've been knitting very productively but I have to admit that I have a sock I started for my hubby...that I've never managed to finish...5 years later!!!! My other long one is a quilt I started in 1996...but that is in a box upstairs and hasn't seen the light of day for years. Second I have a cross stitch that I have been working on ever so often for 4 years. (It is my Olympic project!)

19. What is your favorite holiday?
I miss American holiday's such as the 4th of July and Thanksgiving....otherwise it would be Easter. We make a trip to my sis and bro-in-law in Wales and it is so much like going home! They keep us busy and I craft rest and watch lots of hopping baby lambs!

20. Is there anything that you collect?
Russ bears, which is really interesting because Russ is based out of Southampton where I live, though I've been collecting them for years. I also collect old books.

21. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on?
I've been treating myself to too many knitting books lately...but I have a few on my Amazon wish list. I love sock yarn, I don't find very much of it over here. I love Debbie Bliss patterns and yarn, Louisa Harding yarns and patterns, and Erika Knight patterns.

What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

My sister gave me a Knitters magazine subscriptions years ago, she must have paid a fortune because I have it for the next few years already. My mom bought me Vogue knitting for Christmas. I don't subscribe, but Always by Simple Knitting and Knitting mags from here in the UK.

22. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
Well, as mentioned about I'm trying out free-form knit and crochet. I like that you can use up lots of bits of different yarns and you don't have to swatch! My knitting tight won't matter for once! I also would like to learn how to English knit a bit more so that if I do decide to do some teaching I can teach either way. I also would love to felt more. I have managed one project when I was still in the States, but I haven't tried now that I have a front loading washing machine. I've got so many things I want to learn though that time is a problem again. I keep saying I can't wait until I'm retired so I can sit and craft all day...but will I be able to physically do it then???? Big question!

23. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
Yes, I've not managed to finish me a pair yet....but I'm getting there. I wear a size 10US or 8UK.

24. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)
November 15.

There now you know more about me then even my hubby....probably!