30.12.10

last minute knitted gift

Dear Annie,






I can't wait to see your granny squares! I'm sure they will inspire me to get started on my own, and you can give me some top hooky tips. I wanted to show you this owl mug cosy that I made just before Christmas as a last minute knitted gift. Sweet, isn't it? A lovely friend of mine, H, surprised me with this gorgeous hand-sewn brooch:



I wanted to make her a gift in return, but time was very short. I do have, and enjoy, the Last Minute Knitted Gifts book, but having flicked through it, I decided that I was not a speedy enough knitter to complete one of the projects in time. I remembered this post from clever Kelly at Handmade at Home, and all I needed was some leftover yarn, some buttons and a quick perusal on Ravelry. Perfect! 




I often find that when I'm looking after the little ones, a cup of tea ends up getting cold before I've had the chance for even a sip, so I'm hoping that as H has two little ones of her own, she will find this useful. The details are here, on Ravelry


The extra project meant that I didn't quite succeed in finishing all my Christmas knitting, my poor Mum was presented with one and a half yoga socks, but to her credit, she was nevertheless very excited by them, and they're now all finished so I'm enjoying some lovely relaxed knitting.

There's been plenty of family time, too, and for us, no Christmas is complete without a wintery walk to a pub...








Enjoy the last days of this year, and see you on the first day of the next.


Love from,


Laura
x

28.12.10

The Great Thaw of 2010

Dear Laura,

What a week! Planes cancelled, snow all around, colds and my first ever white christmas all in the space of very few days. The mayhem that accompanies christmas has calmed down a bit now and luckily I have been home in Devon for most of the week enjoying lots of family time and the world of toddlers. Even though I am now used to snow in the winter it was very disorientating to see the rolling hills of devon covered in white powder as I was winding my way back home. The snow provided lots of fun for my two little nephews and we managed some sledge rides, a few snow balls and half a snow man.

The only down side being that illness spread its way around the family so fast that I have had very little time to work on my crocheting skills. Just before I left DC I bought some wool for my crochet blanket, with the hope that I would be able to both learn on my holiday and hopefully produce something to keep me going for the year ahead. The colours were difficult to choose, I like them but there was some muttering about the house when I asked others for their opinions.
With an unexpected extra day in DC I also had the chance to wrap my presents and whip up a quick knitting travel bag. When I was looking through my rather mountainous pile of material I noticed that, to my joy, I still had just enough flamingo material to use for this quick project.
And now my nephews and most of my family have gone as has all the snow, and the devon countryside is back to it warm, green, rainy self. I feel much more at home in this kind of weather. The fire is roaring and all is quiet. For the next few days  I can concentrate on my crochet whilst watching holiday movies and hopefully impress you with a granny square when I come to visit. Happy Christmas.

Lots of love

Annie
 

23.12.10

cosying down

Dear Annie,

In one of Little S's story books, there is a phrase that I rather like. A badger arrives at a winter party.

"I've brought honey nuts", Badger said with a grin. "Let's divvy them up, cosy down, and dig in." 

This week, I'm all about the cosying down, as we make the final preparations for Christmas. The Christmas cake has been iced, the florentines baked and the presents wrapped.

I've treated myself to some reading material:


I've still got a few bits and pieces of Christmas knitting to finish, but once that's done, I'm all ready for some leisurely holiday knitting.

 
This is destined to be yet another Milo for baby R.

 I'm also treasuring my loot from a wonderful first ever trip to Loop,
my first ever Wollmeise and a copy of Ysolda's new pattern book.
It was probably lucky that D, S and R came with me. Otherwise I would have been in danger of bankrupting us, there were so many wonderful treats in there. The boys were rewarded for their patience with an orange hot chocolate afterwards in The Breakfast Club Cafe. The only thing that marred our day was an Annie-shaped hole! If only your flight hadn't been delayed! 

Still, I am looking forward to seeing you at new year for catching up and all manner of stitching.

Until then, a very Happy Christmas to all,

Love from,

Laura 


19.12.10

Choas

Dear Laura,


The phrase "bored to tears" was really illustrated to me yesterday. Not caught up on my Christmas sewing nor my Christmas shopping for the first time I found myself in a toy store on arguably the busiest day of shopping ever in the history of the world. Resisting the urge to grab toys from the arms of stressed parents whilst elbowing everyone else out of the way. I finally made my way to one of many long check out queues of the day. With children all around desperate for the presents in their parents trolleys that weren't for them there was plenty of frustration. The poor boy behind me was just so clearly bored and his mum was making a valiant effort at keeping him entertained but eventually he expressed just how I felt and burst into tears at the thought of having to wait in this queue any longer.


Luckily all the shopping has been completed hoorah! and now I can spend today looking out of the window at the pretty snow (only a small snow dump just enough to feel Christmassy) and finish my sewing. 



Here is what I have so far:
 




One and a half wash bags
Two miscellaneous bags
and one apron with some oven gloves which have gone wrong (mending required)
oh plus one ipod/phone case for my friend Liz who lost her last one 


A couple more bags and bits to make but nothing to technical or difficult. I am very excited about Christmas and hoping that the snow stops falling in the UK to let me make my flight back home. 


One final thought I was reading a couple of blogs on crochet and I came across this beautiful crochet blanket on The Quince Tree. I want to try and make something like it. I thought that we could learn to crochet together. Maybe as a new year resolution? On Meetmeatmikes they had the brilliant idea of making one a week, which seems do-able! So, over Christmas I thought we could learn and then if you were doing it too it would help me keep on track.


Lots of Love


Annie

15.12.10

the knit goes on

Dear Annie,



Do you remember, back in this post, I told you about the Christmas gifts that I was knitting?
 

My, oh my, progress has been sloooow! It's pretty much the first time that I've had more than one knitting project on the go at once, and I've actually really enjoyed that- when I get bored of one, I can knit a few rows of another, and there's always a really simple mindless project for those times when I'm too tired to do anything other than switch off my brain and let my hands take over. However, this does mean that nothing ever seems to get finished, and with my (already very limited) knitting time curtailed by Christmas preparations and a whole family of poorly boys, I seem to have moved at a snails pace!



All of the projects have been in pairs, and at last I've finished one of each for the washcloths (pictured above) and the socks (pictured below). Nothing is blocked yet, but you get the idea (the links take you to my project page on Ravelry).


Even more excitingly, I've completed both of the fingerless gloves, although you'll have to take my word for it, as my hand model was otherwise occupied and I had to photograph and model them myself:


Now that I'm over halfway there I'm confident that I'll be finished in time, and so of course I'm busy preparing a long list of things to knit in all the free time I'm (optimistically) hoping to have over the Christmas holiday. More of that another day!

Here is one of the distractions which have been cutting into my knitting time... As soon as I saw this brilliant tutorial, I knew that I had to have a go at my own rag wreath.  


Some fabric from my stash- the red fabric was a well-loved old dress - and some garden wire. Some snipping and some knotting, and in not much more than an hour:

So sweet, so simple, so pretty, so inexpensive and now it can decorate our home every Christmas. I love it, and most of all, I love the fact that you can see it when you come and visit in less than a month. Yay!

Love from,

Laura 
x
PS: Believe it or not, another week, another giveaway win! This time, a big thank you to Kat at the fab Slugs on the Refrigerator for the Ikea voucher. I've treated myself to some new Christmas decorations.Thanks Kat, and a Happy Christmas to you.


12.12.10

Christmas Aprons

Dear Laura,


Christmas is approaching rapidly and this weekend I had a lovely christmassy time at a friends house. Good food was cooked, delicious wine was drunk and gifts were given! I love gifts, receiving them and giving them especially if it is something that I have made. Now sometimes, I am the first to admit, my creations might not be quite good enough to actually give as a gift, young S's jumper of course springs to mind, however, I am pretty proud of these. This was the secret sewing I mentioned in this post.
Surprisingly the inspiration for these came from R. Normally one to nod politely or rapidly change the subject when I talk about my sewing he took an active interest in these. This time he sat down and told me what he wanted me to sew on to aprons. I drew some designs which were heavily scrutinized for the precise look of the dump truck and the crane and finally the two aprons were approved. 

I asked if I should make an apron for Oliver's mum too but was told it was a father and son thing, so I attempted instead to use the oil cloth I bought in New Mexico to make a wash bag. This was less successful but I gave it to her anyway with some lovely goodies inside to make up for the rather poor quality sewing. I am working on improving the design as the zip is really hard to put in.
Gifts were exchanged before the food extravaganza commenced and so the apron was put to immediate use to cook the coq au vin, which was utterly delicious. Ryan and R are very very good cooks.
Oliver however was slightly unsure about the apron and so it was hung up ready for use when he next went to his kitchen.
The bag the gifts came in however, was a resounding success and provided at least an hour of entertainment before it was totally destroyed.
Lots of love 


Annie


P.S. Those gingerbread houses were awesome! Why do I live so far away...



10.12.10

o little town of gingerbread

Dear Annie,

Oh, how I loved the vintage books that you found! I've been vintage book shopping too, although my find was a little less sophisticated! Here it is:



It's full of lovely ideas for activities with little ones. S was most pleased with it, and very clear about what he wanted to try first:

"I want to make the gingerbread house... can we make the gingerbread house?"

It seemed like a simple request for a boy whose mother is a keen baker. Sadly not! Despite following the recipe and consulting a good friend who makes one each year, we evidently did something not quite right. I suspect that the gingerbread was either too thin or underbaked, or possibly both!. 

The house stayed together for a matter of moments before it developed irrevocable faultlines..and then cracks...and then it collapsed!

Thank goodness, then, that I had read this lovely post by Nina from Tabiboo. As I gathered up the broken pieces of gingerbread, an idea began to form. Using the template from here, I cut the gingerbread into smaller pieces and reformed it.

Tiny gingerbread houses, iced and sprinkled by S. He went to his train-track box to borrow some trees, and lo and behold, a gingerbread village.



Small and rather imperfectly formed, but S loved them, pronouncing them "wonderful", and that was all that mattered.

Love from,

Laura

PS: I'd also like to add a thank you to Kathy from Postcards from the PP- I was lucky enough to win her giveaway and receive some lovely goodies.
Thank you Kathy, and a Happy Christmas to you! x

8.12.10

A Zillion Degrees Below Zero

Dear Laura,


I loved your choir of angels they were so cool! The temperature here has suddenly dropped to a zillion degrees below zero and we don't have any snow. One of the kitchen windows has also misplaced itself and wound up in the living room increasing the quantity of cold cold wind that passes through the house. This has however, helped with my christmas sewing. Now when I get home, I bundle myself up in the lovely hat you knitted me and the hand warmers I knitted myself and snuggle into the sofa and sew whilst I wait for the heating to kick in and warm me up.
The sewing is a christmas secret and will be revealed next week.

It was definitely warmer over thanksgiving and other than enjoying the fantastic scenery of cowboy country
I managed once again to obtain lots of sewing goodies. Some of which have been incorporated into my christmas sewing extravaganza but most are for the long list of things I want to do in my head. Hopefully a few of those projects will materialize over time.
Oil cloth bought in Taos
Lovely second hand books bought in Albuquerque

I'm looking forward to showing off some of my sewing to you next week. 

Lots of love

Annie 


6.12.10

Winter loves...and the winners are...

Dear Readers,

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveway, and particularly to all our new followers! We loved reading all of your comments and sharing your wintery pleasures.  Also, we appreciated the kind and encouraging remarks that several of you made about this little blog of ours. We're so enjoying writing it, and it's lovely to know that you're enjoying reading too.

We thought that having shared yours, we should tell you our own Winter loves...

Laura: For me, it has to be the handknits. I'm just loving having both my boys in hats that I've knitted:





 and I love having co-ordinated hand knits for myself:




Other current favourites are: rediscovering the delicious Yogi Egyptian Licorice tea; a grey and lemon yellow vintage knitted tea cosy; purple wellies with thick socks and of course, baking. Pear and Ginger Muffins and Annie's Mum's Apple Meringue are the treats of the moment!


Annie: For me, it is roaring fires, sitting all snuggly knitting or sewing, listening to the radio and watching the cold weather outside. Also mince pies, having moved to America most people look at me with disgust when I talk about my mince pie cravings. I imagine they think I am feasting on heavy meat pies, I have tried to explain but I think it really is a truly British thing. I finally found some today at a jaw dropping $8 a packet, luckily my eagle bargin eye spied a pile of smushed packets which had been reduced to a slightly more justifying $5.50, it was worth it.





We've used the old fashioned names-in-a-hat method to pick two winners for us. They are:

Jennifer (The best part of the winter is the snow!) - who has won the ipod cosy
and Kerry (The thing I like best about winter is that my husband starts making his wonderful fondues.)- who has won the vintage goodies.

Congratulations! Please send your addresses to annieandlaura@gmail.com and we'll pop them in the post to you. 

Love from,

Annie and Laura

3.12.10

'tis the season to be messy

Dear Annie,



Christmas preparations are continuing in our house. This week it's been card-making. D came downstairs yesterday to find S and I up to our elbows in paint, whilst baby R watched in fascination from his highchair.
"'Tis the season to be messy!" he said. How right he was!

This year, most of our Christmas cards were potato prints. Cheap, simple, effective and fun.


If you make a pad from newspaper and kitchen towel, and squeeze the paint straight onto it, you get much better coverage on the potato than if you have the paint on a plate.

 

Once these were finished, we embarked upon some extra special cards for our family. They each started out with three toddler handprints:



Turn them upside-down, paint on a few details and they're transformed:


Can you see what they are? Would you like a closer look?



Handprint angels. Aren't they sweet?





 Sing, choir of angels!

Love from,

Laura  

PS: The giveaway is still open until the end of Sunday 5th December. 

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