30.9.11

wooly wonderland

Dear Annie,


I've always been interested in yarn bombing... knitted graffiti, call it what you will. I love the idea of knitting (and crochet) being used to decorate the urban environment. It gives a subversive twist to the classic concept of graffiti, and there's a very appealing contrast between the hard surfaces of a city and the soft colourful nature of wool.

I know that you spotted some in DC once, but I've rarely seen it  here in Bristol (and certainly never when I had a camera to hand). You can imagine my excitement, then, when I discovered that there were plans for a yarnbombing project here in South Bristol, as part of the Front Room arts trail.

You can read more about the project here. Essentially, the idea is to decorate the local environment (starting with the lamp posts) with knitting and crochet for the arts trail week. There is also going to be a wildlife-themed woolly trail in the local historic cemetery.


I was delighted to be able to meet and get involved with a group of local knitters. One of the organisers, Rosee, works for The Knitter magazine and she had come with a big pile of donated yarn for us to use for the project. There's nothing like a big pile of yarn to get knitters excited! I immediately spotted two purple balls and got to work starting on a stripey strip of knitting, destined for a tree or a lamp post. It's very liberating, working on this kind of knitting- suddenly tension, gauge, mistakes, etc. become far less important- it's the colours and textures that are key.




I'm also working on something for the nature-themed cemetery trail. Last week I won a prize on Emma Lamb's blog- a pdf of her new pattern, a garland made of crochet flowers. What perfect timing! It's a great pattern, really simple for a beginner but pretty and very addictive. I'm busily hooking little flowers ready to string into a garland to decorate the cemetery railings.



The arts trail is in November, so I've got plenty more evenings of knitting and hooking ahead of me, and hopefully some of those spent chatting to other knitters. I'll let you know how we get on!

I couldn't write a knitting post without mentioning your fabulous Cranfords. They are brilliant! Astounding to think that this was pretty much the first knitting pattern you had ever followed...I suspect it won't be the last.

Love from,

Laura 

PS: Garland Ravelled here

Edited to add: I've now put in a link to the rather marvellous yarnbombed trike that Annie spotted in DC. 



28.9.11

Food food Glorious Food

Dear Laura,


I was very excited this weekend because we were invited to a late summer supper, this was actually much later than planned as it was supposed to be the weekend of hurricane Irene but she put a stop to those plans. It was of course fantastic. Ryan and Glen cooked up a storm and we all hungry, greedily and very appreciatively ate and ate and ate, oh and drank. So here is a taste for you too...
A menu of course was designed and the table laid beautifully. I love a meal with some grandeur, it makes it feel like a proper occasion (and it also makes me feel like a grown up).
Cerviche, 
Oysters in HP sauce (well something along those lines)
Small greens and pomagrante salad
Gazpacho


A quick break to watch Mr Stefan the fish being hammered out of his salt shell



oh and the best ever, a whole fish cooked in salt and served with corn cakes and mango and all sorts of goodness. 
Finished with a chocolate ozzy pudding and vanilla ice cream.


I remember as a child after my parents had a dinner party, I would love going into the dinning room and smelling the lingering perfume, wine and food. The memories of those smells and this dinner make me very happy indeed. Yum yum yum yum yum.


Lots of love
Annie

25.9.11

tiny snapshots

Dear Annie,

The boys and  I have been at their grandparents this weekend, enjoying the Autumn sunshine.



 
For the moment, I'm knitting away on my tea leaves cardie, but I'll be back soon with an exciting  new crafty project.
Love from,
Laura

24.9.11

Cranford Mitts FINISHED!

Dear Laura,




Look look up there, look what I did! I am bursting with excitement. Being the youngest of four I have always tried to keep up with people who are much more advanced than me. Not only that but I also have that self delusional belief that if they can do it surely I can too. Often I am proved wrong. Sometimes I am proved right. 




I felt rather like that with this knit a long. You sent me the idea and I blindly agreed, knowing full well you are a much better knitter than me and that my mastery of the craft was most certainly limited. I do enjoy knitting though and I think that is key. So off you went and along I came nipping at your heels desperate to keep up. It certainly gave me comfort that you also struggled with the pattern and occasionally also had to unravel all that precious knitting, and here I am, I made it and before October too. They are definitely not as well made as yours, there are a few holes here and there that might not be quite according to the pattern and the tension is all over the place. Here is my satisfied face all the same.




I finished on Wednesday just as the weather turned warmer again. It is a little warm for the mitts but I love them so much that I took them to work with me everyday and just put them on my desk to admire occasionally. And today when I went to get coffee, the lady there asked me if it was cold outside because I was wearing my mitts. I wanted to shout out, "no I just made these aren't they awesome, don't you love them, aren't I just the cleverest". But instead I made an excuse as to not being sure when I left the house as to whether it was cold or warm outside looked at my mitts and smiled to myself. 





So thank you for introducing me to the knit a long, you might have created a monster as now I have dreams of socks, lacey scarves and fair isle patterns. I am very proud of myself but I am not nearly as generous as you are, I will be keeping them for myself jealously guarding them from harm.


Lots of love


Annie


p.s. if you would like to see the progress and pitfalls of our Cranford knitting adventures you can click here "the great untamed Octopus" and here "RAAAAHHHHHH" for Annie's progress and here "one row forward... two rows back" and here "half way" and here "cranfords completed" for Laura's progress.

23.9.11

cosy

Dear Annie,


Just as you are queen of the gadgets, so too are you queen of the gadget cosy. I've been much slower on the uptake and have always had a properly old-school phone, but this month my contract upgraded to a fancy smartphone. Can you see it, peeping out at the top there? Needless to say, I am very excited and of course the first two words that flashed through my mind were gadget and cosy.

 
I haven't made one before and initially, I thought that I would use my Mollie Makes free gift kit, which was for an appliqu├ęd linen cosy. Linen brought to mind the lovely things over at Poshyarns made from linen and Liberty tana lawn. This, in turn reminded me of my gorgeous scrap of tana lawn that I showed you in this post. I thought about lining the linen cosy with the tana lawn, but it was just too pretty to hide away so I decided to line in with some linen instead! 

Pleasingly, this project was made entirely of scraps from other projects. As you know, the Liberty fabric was from my mother-in-law's scrap bag.The linen was leftover from the cushions and the blue bias strip at the top was leftover from S's bag. Even the cotton batting that I used to pad it was an offcut from my quilt.






Once again, I followed a pattern from here. My favourite things about it are the little fabric tabs on the end of the cord- such a sweet detail! Hopefully my phone will now be safe and sound, and the fabric will always make me smile.


Love from,


Laura



22.9.11

Honey Harvest

Dear Laura,
I am very excited because now the weather is turning it is time to harvest our honey. Cooler days mean that our little bees can't fly so far to forage and the flowers are dying down so there is less nectar and pollen out there for them to bring back to the hive. Soon we will have to close them up completely and hope that they can make it through the winter all on their own. I was thinking of knitting them each a little blanket and scarf and socks but I don't have needles small enough.
Anyway, let me show you the honey...
We managed to get 5 jars this year. I am assured that next year we will have mountains of honey because the bees will be able to start much earlier. But for now we have 5 precious jars which will be given proudly to a few people and of course some kept for ourselves.


R in fact made a delicious meal with the honey last night where he smashed up some cashews mixed them with the honey fried it all with some salmon and then baked it. Well I think that is what he did, I was busy sitting at the table knitting and enjoying the delicious smells coming from the stove. Whatever it was it was delicious, he got extra marks for supper last night.


lots of love
Annie


p.s. your cranford mitts are boooooooo-ti-fal. I was looking at them again today and am quite amazed at how awesome your knitting is. So neat and well defined. 

20.9.11

Cranfords completed

Dear Annie,


They're finished, hooray! Like you, I did my fair share of unknitting, as well as muttered under-the-breath swearing... but I cracked it in the end. Actually, once I got my head around it, and learnt to only knit when awake and able to concentrate, the pattern didn't feel too tricky. It's certainly a lovely, quick stash-busting knit. I've really enjoyed the Knit Along and I'm impressed that I managed to finish them in twenty days- pretty speedy for me!


I persuaded D to take some photos for me before he left for work- hence the bed-head!



I'm very tempted to keep them as the perfect Autumn warmer but they're destined to be a present for a dear friend who moved away last week.

I'm looking forward to seeing your finished articles.

Love from

Laura  

Edited to add: pattern details on my Ravelry page

18.9.11

A Hibiscus Transformation

Dear Laura,
I have had a couple of weeks off the DIY and managed to get myself to some markets and do some knitting and some sewing. It is lovely to be able to bimble around again. Last week at eastern market I found this dress.
(what a beautiful tent)
I love hibiscus, such a showy and bright and cheery flower, and the colours were good and bright and autumnal. The dress was ridiculously large as always. Ever since I was a child (well teenager, my mum wasn't setting me on the sewing machine at 5 or anything) I realised that I could alter clothes I like to fit me. So I snapped the dress up.
 (I love that this might have come from Honolulu)


And here is my transformation. It didn't need a lot, I changed its length to knee length put in two darts at the back, this is good to make me look like I have a waist. I tightened two of the darts at the front, then just pulled it in at the sides. Viola!




I am so pleased with it. The weather has turned to autumn, the air conditioning is off, light coats are being worn outside, so this will be perfect over jeans on bright sunny autumnal days. I think it will become a mainstay in my wardrobe, I like it so much that just after I had finished it last night I wore it out to dinner.


Lots of love


Annie


p.s. You will notice the Laura has been very clever and changed the heading and managed to put a link to both of our Twitter accounts. So if you would like to hear us rambling some more about our crafty endeavours, you can follow us on Twitter. Her IT skills it seems know no bounds, thanks Laura.

16.9.11

precious things

Dear Annie,

I think you've seen enough pictures of my Cranford knitting in progress. Hopefully I can manage to finish them before my next post. In the meantime, here are a few simple but precious things that I'm appreciating at the moment...


Emma Lamb has asked to see pictures of people's button stashes. As you know, I love buttons and I have quite a number of receptacles full of them in my craft space (jar pictured here and box here). These are my most precious buttons though. My Granny doesn't sew but she is a thrifty Yorkshirewoman and has saved spare buttons over the years. She kept them in an old tobacco tin of my Grandad's. When she moved house, she gave them to me and I love them for the tiny pieces of family history that they are. My favourite is the yellow sunshine button- I'm waiting for just the right project to use it...


My parents just returned from a trip to your side of the pond. To my delight, they brought back this illustration for me. It's a hand painted plate of clematis and fusia from The Ladies Wreath and Parlour Annual, published in the 1850s. They found it in a second-hand bookshop and quite rightly felt that I would like it.

  
Finally, a small piece of my very favourite Liberty print, begged from my mother-in-law's scrapbag. I'm thinking of using it for lining, or bias binding when the perfect project presents itself.

I hope that your knitting needles are flying this week. 

Love from,

Laura

14.9.11

RAAAHHHHHH

Dear Laura,


The knitting isn't going quite as well as I had hoped...
Well that looks promising but weren't you further ahead than that last week? I hear you ask. Well yes and you will also notice that the bottom here is now a different colour. What could that mean, Well it means of course that I unpicked it all and had to start again. 


Here are the things I have learnt...


1. Over confidence comes before a fall - I was busy knitting away at the lacey bit not looking at the pattern. When I did finally returned to the pattern I realised that I had knitted way to much. I tried unpicking to the bit I needed but it all went sadly wrong and so I found myself unravelling the whole thing.


2. Blog posts reap rewards - In my last post I mentioned that I had knitted the bottom 8 rows in purl, and lucky for me the lovely lady at Stitchedtogether (I am sorry I can't find her name anywhere so she is the lovely lady from stitchedtogether, she is also from the East Midlands, hello East Midlands) reminded me that knitting in the round is different from straight. So when I started again I could make it right. So many many thanks for that. Also @darthKnitty had been keeping me sane with tales of her errors.


3. Don't watch Dr Who when knitting - I had just got back to the third section of the pattern when I got distracted by Matt Smith and lost count and had a small tantrum. I say small, it was best not to try to engage me in conversation for a couple of hours as I yanked at my knitting, nearly sobbed, swore I wasn't going to start again, and finally managed to get it back to the second row of pattern.


So there we are back at the very beginning which according to Julia Andrews, is a very good place to start. I just hope this is the last time I start.
Lots of love

Annie



p.s. look at these peppers/chilles we grew in the garden...


12.9.11

half way

Dear Annie,


Since my last post, my knitting has picked up speed, not least thanks to all the kindly encouraging comments- thank you, everyone! I've now cast off the first Cranford Mitt.

So far, during this project, I have learnt that:

:: lace knitting isn't as hard as I thought, but it does require concentration

:: it's hard to concentrate when you're watching late-night Danish thrillers with subtitles to read (note to self, no more knitting during Forbrydelsen)

:: my daytime knitting is infinitely faster than my evening knitting (hooray for moments when the boy is at preschool and the baby naps)

:: there are kind people on Ravelry who will explain how to knit a tricky thumb gusset so that I can understand (thank you, 'snailHannah!')

:: when you knit something from leftover stash yarn, it really does feel like you are making something from nothing


I'm off to cast on the second mitt whilst I'm still enthused- must try to avoid second mitt syndrome...


How have you got on?

Love from,


Laura
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