Thursday, 19 January 2012

Knitting & Crochet Tips...

I should elaborate on the title this isn't tips on how to do it per se but tips on where you may be able to find the answers you seek. Also, that this should all be read knowing that they are my opinions and is in no way an exhaustive list. I'd love for others who read this blog to add their tips in the comments too - I'm always looking for new inspiration...

Both Knitting & Crochet ::

Ravelry :: This site if you're not already a member is available through registering and you'll then be sent an invite. You can populate a home page for yourself (or not) take part in forums, find local groups, search thousands of patterns for crochet and knitting - many of which are free or low cost to download, search for projects people have used the yarn you have in your stash, find new local independent yarn suppliers, place your excess stash up for sale or swap, pop along to a local ravelry event and meet your cyber buddies, read their monthly E-zine, visit the troubleshooting pages, share your own patterns and designs, potentially become a designer and sell your own patterns through their pages - if you join in the fun, come and find me 'Clobell'.
LYS :: I don't know which yours will be but I haven't come across a Local Yarn Store that doesn't offer at least incredibly knowledgeable and dedicated staff truly engaged in their crafts and at most lessons/courses, Knit and Natters and lovely discounts to help you build your stash.

The Black Sheep :: Great Discount Yarn stockists as well as accessories, patterns and current season yarns, they also have cross stitch, tapestry, embroidery and much more with reasonable P&P and fast delivery

Kemps :: Great Discount Yarn stockists as well as patterns, accessories and current season yarns with reasonable P&P and fast delivery

You Tube :: I'm sure you'll have come across it before but youtube is more than a place to find comedy videos and repeats of X Factor auditions. If you search for a technique you may be stuck on- highly likely you'll find someone's video that could bring it all to life for you (I had this epiphany with Norwegian Knitting as I couldn't grasp the continental way to purl - videos for all those terms if they're unfamiliar can be found here too).

Purlescence :: a little bit of luxury when you knit, yarns accessories etc

Twisted Thread :: home of the shows that bring you Ally Pally Knitting and Stitching, this year taking place in October - loads of online stocksists, speciality stands, magazine stands selling back issues and discounted subs for show visitors, classes led by popular authors and celebs of the yarny world

KnitPro :: Home of the rainbow coloured wooden needles, interchangeable tips and cables for circular knitting, Cubics square needles (said to reduce pain for those who suffer with arthritis/joint pains), double ended crochet hooks, sock blockers and much more

The Little Knitting Company :: Luxury yarns, kits, accessories, patterns, SOAK specialist yarn wash - an online group and much much more

Pinterest ::Once you start looking and re-pinning and increasing your boards with inspirational items it will be very hard to tear yourself away! Read my post from here for a teeny bit more. Or click on the button in my side bar to follow me (at very beginning stages so far!).

FreePatterns ::

Knitting Pattern Central :: Website offering lots of links to free patterns and also has a section dedicated to knitting and crochet combos.

Knitting :: (My first love, something about taking a single thread and creating something out of it)

Knitting Help :: A fab resource of videos of different techniques, forums and the ever useful glossary - including lots of what you need from the CO to the BO!

Lets Knit :: both the magazine and the online site are aimed at the beginner side of things (I enjoyed the fun factor in their patterns) often include a crochet item and free gifts with the mag

Simply Knitting :: another magazine as well as online presence, aimed at beginner to intermediate, the odd more complex pattern and often include a crochet item and free gifts with the mag (I love the toys - Alan Dart supplies a lot of them and novelty items and accessories). Just look at the below pic of some knitted valentines chocs in the next issue:
Knitting - a great gallery of the patterns in the magazine - less toys and novelties but you will come across home items, I also find they have more patterns aimed at intermediate levels so good when you want a stretch. Each month you tend to find a theme to the magazine and I feel the patterns have a more traditional style to them. Also home to the lovely Purl Princess of Purl About Town column. Knitting also has a great LYS (Local Yarn Store) search function and it surprised me when it found 2 close to me I hadn't even heard of.

Blacker Yarns - Natural Fibres galore supporting local and heritage breeds - beautiful kits and patterns available to show off these sumptuous yarns at their best

BLISS - the neonatal charity organises donated knits and offers patterns to members of their crafts club (for a small fee). Knitting small baby garments is a great way to do something nice for others and to learn the techniques and foibles of larger garments - without frogging back the 200 stitches or 90 rows you've just done. I often find neonatal patterns in charity shops too- so you're donating either way x
(Worth mentioning here that you should check with your local NICU what they wish to receive if anything and to bear in mind that all items must be machine washable and even better if not from natural fibres as these can cause allergic reactions.)

Jane Brocket :: blog writer, author of gorgeous books - if you're like me you'll fall in love with the whole blog but Jane has a lovely section dedicated to yarns and knitting too.

UKHKA :: Patterns, resources, search tool for local knitting groups and home of the Knit 1 Pass it On initiative

Crochet: (My joint second crafty love - with baking, not exactly a comparable craft but that's the way it is)

Attic24 :: A lovely homey blog with inspirational bright colours, cheery commentary from a Mum of 3 who crochets up a storm. Below is my 'Granny Stripe' still on the hook at the mo. The blog has loads of step by step, picture based tutorials and so far I've made the ripple, snowflake, some hearts and WIP my stripe. Lucy has a Ravelry group dedicated to her called 'We Love Lucy', where you can find moral support, banter and lots of links to pics of peoples finished articles.
CocoRose :: A beautifully styled blog with a variety of lovely things to look at, great text and crochet inspiration. If you love muted shades, this site is gorgeous and filled with shabby chic imagery to keep you motivated. :: When I first started to look for crochet resources and wasn't a member of Ravelry at the time, I came across and it helped give me loads of pointers and basic patterns - just be cautious as you'll find both american and british terminology in use.

It is now past my bedtime and I'm signing off for now - but will add anything else I think of as time goes on (I'll also try to remember to change the published date so if you see it again in a few days/weeks it should indicate something added x)

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Happy Birthday 2 today...

Here is the cake Mummy made for you of your favourite character Timmy... (Shaun the Sheeps little brother I think?)
Timmy's friend worm... looking after your candle x
A close up of Timmy...
And here we are with you modelling your new Timmy Time Jumper as frantically knitted from Simply Knitting January issue- Mummy had never tried a pictoral knit before and it may be a while before she tries one again (thankfully it's a size too big so should last a long time)!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Swap problems...

Good Evening and very many thanks to those who offered to join my New Year New to You Swap - I've tried to mail you all on 14th but my gmail account is playing up.

Please accept my sincerest apologies - the message you should have received on 14th was:

I'm really sad to say that as there's been a low response I haven't really got the right mix of people and crafts to pair us all up. I think blog land is a bit saturated with swaps at the moment so I'll close this one and perhaps try again later in the year. I am planning in the next few days to pop a post up with all my favourite links that help me with all my crochet / knitting purchases, dilemmas and generally keeping me finishing those Works In Progress.
Again, very sorry to let you down on this occasion,

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Blanket Squares Swap...

Swaps are out there like crazy this year - just a quick mention to one I really like the look of over at the lovely Hookin' with Laalaa (aka Lynda!)

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Picked up the Pinterest bug...

I've only just started to use pinterest - if you haven't it's a very simple and clever way to group your ideas / wish lists and inspirations and then share them with friends.

I've popped a link in my sidebar if you'd like to go and see what it's all about x

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Homemade Pizza...

Another Littlest Man Nap, another cooking opportunity...

Homemade pizza made from scratch with a nifty little recipe I found online - popping this with my less than ingredients labels too...
I was very wary of my son and the cheese grater but with Katy Ashworth from I Can Cook singing in the back of my head I thought we should brave it! Silly me - we really can cook and graters are easy peasy if you're careful

All topped and ready to go in the oven - yay (poor boy has got my thumbs!)
The finished article...ALL GONE - not often heard of at cooked meals - and never with frozen pizza's before

Homemade Pizza Dough (Less than 5 ingredients) enough for 1 pizza - feeding a family of 4.

  • Pot of Greek yogurt - Low or No Fat versions work great - I normally get the half a large pot size - about 1 cup of yogurt
  • Self Raising Flour

Tip your Greek yogurt into a mixing bowl

Measure out the self raising flour into the now empty yogurt pot and add to the mixing bowl

Mix the two together until they form quite a sticky dough - don't be tempted to add too much flour to the dough or it won't be flexible enough

Form into your pizza shape and place on a greased tray ready to add your toppings - make a crust by rolling up the edges if you want, could stuff some cheese/sauce in their too if you wanted

For a variation add a couple of cloves of chopped garlic and cook as a garlic pizza dough topped with butter, seasoning and more garlic

Pizza Topping

  • Base Sauce: Tomato Sauce / BBQ Sauce / Passata / Tomato Puree
  • Glue to keep toppings on: Cheese - Mozzarella & Cheddar is our favourite combination
  • Anything else you fancy which you can class as cooked within 20 mins at 190'C
Once all your ingredients are added - pop in the middle of a pre-heated oven at 190'C (adjust to 10-20'C less if fan assisted)
Bake for 25 mins.

Once removed from oven, transfer to a cutting board, slice and serve

Yummy x the whole pizza can be made with very little or a lot - the beauty is it's up to the state of your cupboards and completely your choice!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

A little sweetie make... (Fondant Creme)

I'm a bit late in posting this but Christmas completely blew me away with it's sheer busy'ness this year.

My eldest and I had lots of making time when littlest man had his naps and during one such dreary afternoon we decided to make sweeties (the easy way of course).

Our take on the age old Peppermint Cream...

You will need:

A willing helper!

  • 1kg Fondant ready to roll icing
  • Icing Sugar to dust surface to prevent sticking
  • 3 tsps Flavouring - extract works best, we used orange this year
  • 200g Dark Chocolate - or use your preference (we prefer dark as these are v e r y sweet to begin with)
  • Cookie/Sweetie cutters - if you don't have these you could make lots of lovely sweet snowballs x
  • Non-Stick paper on a flat tray suitable for popping in the fridge
  • Hundreds & Thousands / Sprinkles / Silver Balls - anything you want to decorate with
  1. Begin by dusting your work top with icing sugar and also your rolling pin
  2. Roll out your fondant to about an inch thick
  3. Brush on your measured flavouring or make a little bowl with the fondant and just tip it in
  4. Roll your fondant into a sausage and keep rolling it, folding it in half and rolling it again until the flavour is nicely through your fondant - now's a good time to add more if it needs it
  5. Roll the flavoured fondant to 1cm thick (can do this in 2 halves to make life that bit easier - one for helper and one for you x)
  6. Cut your shapes and lay them on your prepared non-stick paper - pop into the fridge to set for 30 mins (try to keep helper from eating every single one they cut out!), re-roll and cut out until you're finished - you can re-seal any fondant you don't want to do now in cling film and store in a completely airtight container - great for a change of topping on cupcakes etc
  7. Whilst your shapes are cooling melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a simmering pan of water
  8. Depending on the age/ability of your helper - remove bowl of melted choc from heat and get them to drop cooled shapes into the mixture for you to fish out with a fork and leave to set on your non-stick trays
  9. Drizzle chocolate over the top (scrape a fork through the top for a fancy effect) or like our snowmen once dipped in chocolate you can dip in anything else takes your fancy
  10. Leave completed sweeties in fridge for a further hour or so before removing and if you can wait - leave them for another couple of hours to make sure nice and set before you present them as you wish

Having no actual cream/egg whites in them - these will keep for ages in a sealed container in the fridge - I don't know specifically how long so please use your own judgement

We made some labels on the PC and popped them in presentation bags for the boys to give to their carers and friends at Nursery for Christmas but these work all year round too x