Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Marshmallow Twist Bag

Wendy is one of my most talented knitting friends. I met her through my local knitting group and she has been my knitting guru ever since. I've written about her awesomeness before in my Knitting Magazine article, but now I have an additional reason to blow my Wendy-is-awesome trumpet.
Not content with being just generally great at knitting she has turned her hand to designing some stunning little kits under the name of Muddy Sheep. My favourite at the moment is the Marshmallow Twist bag which Wendy has kindly let me test knit for her.

First thing to say is that the yarn is lovely. Squashy, warm, rub your face in it snuggly. It's easy and a pleasure to work with. 
The pattern was well written and had enough interest in the stitches and construction to keep me interested. 
There is as little sewing up as possible, which is always great.
But my favourite feature of the kit has to be the gorgeous little finishing touches. As well as a cute little wooden button you also get a board insert to keep the bottom of your bag sturdy and a colour matched oil cloth insert. I think this is genius. You get the squish of the yarn on the outside but the benefit of a sturdy, wipe clean and colourful inside. It just adds that special something to an already great kit.

I managed to finished it just before Christmas and gifted it to my Mum as I know she will use and enjoy it, plus she deserves it. Look at her happy present opening face on Christmas day!

Wendy has several other patterns in the Muddy Sheep range such as the Never Knit Before Cowl which is a perfect kit for beginners and the Striped Messenger Bag which comes with a soft cotton lining to sew. All the patterns are available as downloadable patterns or in a complete kit. These kits are great gifts for a friend (either in kit form or knitted up as I did with my Mum) or indeed are a lovely gift for yourself! 

Obviously everyone's a little cash strapped at this time of year but Muddy Sheep Knits also has free patterns, an online needles and notions store to peruse and clear video tutorials to help you conquer those tricky techniques.

Right that's enough trumpet blowing for one day. All that's left to say is Happy New Year to all of you and your families!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Pay it Forward #3: Mitts for Leila

Back in January I got involved in the Pay It Forward posts that go around on Facebook. I agreed to make something for three people within 2013 and in turn they then had to make something for some of their friends. I churned out my first two gifts in March, a scarf for Zoe and some socks for Katie, and then let this final one drag on for no particular reason. As we're now at the end of the year, and as I was feeling inspired by the Pom Pom Christmas party, I decided it was time to Pay It Forward for the last time in 2013.

I had wanted to make the Skipworth Mittens from Pom Pom Magazine issue one for ages. They look so squashy and cosy! I used some Rowan Plaid from the horrific first jumper I ever made, but thankfully the variegated yarn is much better in a small project like this. Leila and I used to work together in my first job out of Uni. She's a super bubbly, Scottish lass who always puts a smile on my face. The yarn has all the tones of Scottish heather and so I thought them fitting for lovely Leila.

Did you take part in Pay It Forward this year? Did you manage to get yours made?

Come to think of it I can't remember who was meant to be paying it forward to me! Come on, own up...

Saturday, 14 December 2013


May I present to you the Fieldwork Cardigan from Pom Pom Magazine issue five. I have been working on this cardigan for ages and am very glad to say that I finally got it finished!  The last push I needed was the Pom Pom magazine Christmas party which took place last weekend. I wanted to wear the cardi to the party to show solidarity to this lovely little mag. Every issue is like a beautiful coffee table book and there are plenty of gorgeous patterns too.

The Pom Pom party itself was lots of fun. There was live music, free popcorn machine, free crackers with two huge wheels of cheese, a rack of all the knitted up garments from the magazine to try on, a handful of luxury yarn stalls and a bar with some delicious mulled wine. I went with a bunch of friends from my knitting group and we started up our own little knitting corner which soon became popular with others.

Theodora Burrow was there with Alessandra Rigillo, the owner of a new yarn shop in Walthamstow called Abstract Yarns. I have made a promise to get down to the shop in the new year and will of course let you know what it's like! Theodora has a new range of knitting kits selling in the shop at the moment under the name of 'Theodora Goes Wild'. Both ladies were wearing hats knitted from the kits, aptly with pom poms on them.

Back to the cardigan; I initially meant for this to be finished in time to wear it for late Summer, but I forgot how much attention was required for lace knitting. I often couldn't keep up when watching gripping TV shows or if I had things on my mind. Not to say that the lace was hard, just that I don't do a lot of it and so it was a challenge for my mushy brain.

My only modification was the final cast off. It was meant to be a sew cast off, which is supposed to be very stretchy but I must have done it totally wrong as I couldn't get the buttons done up! I picked it back and did a regular cast off which was much better.

Buttons are wooden Hawaiian flowers. CUTE!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Knit Weekend 2013 aka Shitknits

Last month I went away on a knitting weekend with some of the ladies from my awesome little knitting group. We all needed a weekend dedicated to 'me time', a bit of a get away from it all and above all lots of knitting. And that is what we got.

We stayed in a great little barn in Suffolk and ate, drank, knit and visited a couple of nice fabric and yarn shops to round it all off. We mainly knit though. Did I mention that there was a lot of knitting?

There were certain points where the drink and the knitting converged, which produced some disastrous knitting issues and the catch phrase of the weekend 'Shitknits!' This was exclaimed each time someone messed up their pattern, dropped a stitch or generally did something wrong/ stupid/ drunk with their knitting. There were a lot of Shitknits moments over the weekend.

Although we were all busy stitching we did manage to get out and about too. We went to Fabric Rehab which just so happened to have a sale going on. As you can see there was a bit of a fabric frenzy among us, with Nicola, wearing purple above, who was simply a blur of fabric hunting. This has nothing to do with my poor photography skills I assure you.

Then we went to Twist in Woodbridge, which is a great little yarn shop, with lots of lovely stock, from the regular Rowan and Debbie Bliss to Fiberspates, Noro and Jamieson Smith. 

I didn't really want to leave.

So we stayed and rubbed some more yarn on our faces.

Finally, some fabulous skeins got bought and then wound in the shop by the lovely staff and we left with wallets a little lighter but heads full of inspiration and happiness. That large prosecco at lunch time probably helped too.

Our highlights of the weekend, apart from the shopping, were the gorgeous wood burning stove in the barn, some terrible singing to the Les Miserable DVD, a hell of a lot of cake and getting sore hands from the many hours of knitting we managed to do. The pain was so worth it, look at what we accomplished:

Katie, did a ton of work on her chunky cardigan. It was her baby.

Adela was insanely productive finishing 2 kids hats, a cowl and some teddy bear trousers. Although there were a fair few shouts of 'Shitknits' along the way.

Karen finished her chunky cardigan which was a bit bigger than expected but extremely squishy and comfy. 
Karyna started her fist pair of boot socks and knitted all this over the weekend.

 Aarti started this oh-so-cute rainbow baby blanket.

And Nicola spent a lot of time sewing up this gorgeous cardigan for her daughter. She did some other stuff too but this was her biggest victory.

Finally, I worked on my Fieldwork cardigan and even managed some sewing up. There were a lot of shouts of 'Shit Knits' while I did this as I sewed one piece on completely the wrong way round. Doh!

We had such a good time we started planning the next one before we'd even left the barn. Can't wait for Shitknits 2014.

Sunday, 8 December 2013


Sometimes there are unavoidable forces in our life that keep us from doing the things we love the most. Late nights at work that keep us from a tasty dinner, cash spent on Christmas presents that keep us from buying that skein of sock yarn and packed, standing room only trains that stop us from knitting on the commute home. But in the last few weeks there's been a much fluffier and altogether cuter thing that has kept me from my knitting and blogging. Meet Kiefer. He's the newest addition to our family and my snuggly distractor.

We got Kiefer from Poorly Paws, a cat re-homing organisation in Essex. The lovely lady there called Deana was so helpful in choosing a suitable cat for our home and family. Although it really was as if he chose us with lots of head-butts, cuddles and purrs. Check out their website and Facebook if you are thinking about getting a cat. Rehoming is so much better than adding to the supply and demand of breeding cats for new kittens. There are so many cats out there who need your love already!

Kiefer was dumped in a box outside the vets with his brothers and sisters and was only 3 months old when we bought him home. He settled in very quickly but being a cat obviously has an intense interest in all things string and yarn like. This, along with him wanting to lay on my lap or chest every time I sit down, means that knitting and using the laptop was almost impossible in the first few weeks. Slowly I have built up his tolerance for yarn and he is learning now that I'm not happy when he attacks my works in progress. He also has realised that stepping on the computer doesn't make me too happy either, so has worked out some kind of compromise by sitting with the Mr. instead when I need to type.

Well I guess now it's official, I've finally turned into the crazy knitting cat lady.