Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Lost on the Moorlands

Do you ever buy yourself Christmas or birthday presents? I know I do! I like treating myself and usually with something creative. Last Christmas I bought a gorgeous mini skein pack from The Knitting Goddess and a crochet-a-long kit for the Moorland blanket designed by Lucy from Attic 24.

I was still relatively new to knitting and crochet last Christmas and only cast on my first sock near the end of 2016 (post here). So while I got just as excited about yarn as I do now, I knew even less about how to use it. Fast forward about 11 months and I have finally found the perfect project for the mini skeins - the Surprise Party Shawl by Helen Stewart! Although I now have other minis so I may change my mind. Stay tuned for that one.

However, except for the boyfriend scarf, the Moorland blanket has been my longest languishing WIP. The CAL finished months ago and I haven't even finished the first clue. The colours are gorgeous and I know I will use the blanket a lot when it's done. The main problem is that I have moved around a lot for placements and its not a very portable project for commuter knitting. But all that yarn makes it look like I have a huge stash! And it's all for one blanket! So the time has come to try and put a dent in this WIP. I crocheted one colour line over the weekend and I forgot how mindless and relaxing the pattern is. It has a simple stitch repeat and doesn't require too much thinking. 

This is where I got to earlier this year:

Look at those colours! Don't they remind you of walking in the countryside?

And this is where I got to over the weekend:

The lighting in my room isn't great but you can see the progress! It looks like a cosy scarf at the moment.

My plan is to add one row a day. How do you run a marathon? One step at a time, so that's what I'll do with this blanket :)

Have you got any mammoth projects hiding among your WIPs?

Charlotte and Harvey x

Monday, 4 December 2017

Flax 2

Gift knitting number 2 complete!

I'm living in hospital accommodation during the week at the moment but I remembered to take a quick photo before I left home yesterday. I'm really missing having all my knitting projects nearby! 

This is another Flax sweater by Tin Can Knits from their Simple Collection. This is aimed at beginner knitters who want to improve using patterns with helpful tutorials. Each pattern has sizes from newborn up to XXL adult. 

I'm a big fan of the Simple Collection as it has made jumper knitting really straightforward. It also includes a shawl, socks, a hat, mittens, a cowl and a cardigan, all with step by step tutorials. I can knit socks and have knit a hat but next on my list is the cardigan. And the best bit? They're all free! If you'd like to knit your first garment, I would definitely recommend this collection. If you're not ready to knit a jumper for yourself then you can make a smaller version for a child. That way you learn the techniques but it's not a mammoth project.

My own flax just has one sleeve to go! Planning to get that finished in the next two weeks in time for Christmas.

Link to the Simple Collection here

Are you gift knitting? Including something for yourself?

Hope you've had a lovely start to the week x

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Mind Blank

As you may have noticed, I've been off grid for the past few weeks. The main reason for this was the exam I took on Friday. It counts for half of my job application for my first post as a doctor providing I pass my final year. So not a big deal.... The second reason and title for this post is that when it came to writing for this blog I just couldn't put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard to write a whole post. There are a few half finished posts hanging out together in the background but that's it. I've been trying to work out why and I realised as an avid reader of many other blogs I felt lacking. And my mind went blank. The last time I wrote an essay was nearly five years ago and they were science based. I haven't written any literature since school except for a very occasional piece for the university newspaper. So I stopped. I have been working on self confidence in all aspects of my life and after looking at the pause on this blog, I made a decision.


The biggest failure in life is not trying in the first place. 

I can't remember who said this but it is so so true. If I hadn't tried I wouldn't have:

1. Passed my A-levels (like a high school diploma I'm guessing?)
2. Got into my first choice university for Biochemistry (my first degree)
3. Applied for medicine at all, let alone got a place
4. Found myself four months away from completing medicine (Eek!)
5. Started anything creative - knitting, crochet, felting etc
6. Started this blog

And if I think my writing skills need to improve? Practice! And how do you practice? By writing more posts!

I have been working on positive thinking as part of my esteem building process. This includes thinking of three good things every day and also at least one thing I did well that day. It is far too easy to self-criticize and very hard to self-compliment and I want to change that.


What have you done today to make you feel proud? 

Thank you Heather Small for such an inspirational song!

I hope you all have a wonderful week x

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Autumn/ Winter Meander

Despite the time of year the weather has been glorious! It's not as cold as it normally is for November and there have been multiple days of blue sky and bright, wintery sunlight. I find the winter sun is a lot paler than in the summer but it's so bright that it catches your eyes when you look up.

We've had a few cold snaps early in the morning especially around commute time but it quickly thaws by lunch. I love the feel of the grass crunching underfoot and the freshness the frost gives to the air in the morning. It is the perfect antidote to the busy train just five minutes later. 

I managed to finish early on Friday and took a few photos on the journey home:

This is from London Blackfriars Station

And this is next to the iconic Tower Bridge and Tower of London

There was still enough daylight to go for a walk when I got home although you could tell it was leaning towards the end of the day. Well I say the end of the day, sunset is around 4.30 in the UK at the moment so darkness usually sets in before most people leave work. I was grateful to get half an hour of light to soak up the sun. 

It feels as if the trees and plants can't decide which season they should be in. Its still surprisingly green near me intermingled with red and orange leaves and bare branches.

And the squirrels were out in force!

The light was really beginning to shift at this point but I wanted to get a longer walk in before heading home. Got to get the London fumes out of my lungs!

The last of the rosehips

I call these winter berries, does anyone know their proper name?

Although I don't like ivy, I loved the pattern of the vines and leaves. If I could draw, I think this would look great in pen and ink.

And then the sun started waving goodbye through the clouds and it was time to return home.

I felt so lucky to catch the sun especially as it rained all day Saturday! The knitting is steadily plodding on and I will give an update later this week :) I'm thinking about doing a sock knitting review from a beginners perspective in case anyone is thinking of trying out socks for the first time. I've been trying lots of different techniques so hope it's useful! 

Have a great week everyone x

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Happy Halloween!

Wishing you a spooky and magical Halloween!

Free crochet pumpkin pattern by Charlotte Heilling available on Ravelry.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Organised Knitting

I was going to start writing a post reviewing the first three quarters of the year and realized there's only two months left! I also realized that I haven't really been keeping track of everything I've been knitting and trying this year. Cue a really handy email from Space Cadet! Space Cadet is an Indie dyer based in America whose newsletter I enjoy reading every week. I haven't bought any yarn from her yet as postage from America makes the price way out of my budget. However, I hope I'll be able to in the future as she has some really interesting colourways. 

In the meantime, Stephanie from Space Cadet has produced a great template to organise your projects. I'm a tad old fashioned as I love notebooks and I know I'm not alone in this. Just look at any creative person or the hashtag 'bulletjournal' and you'll realize how much everyone still loves paper and pen. I don't think technology will ever replace this fully. There's something magical about the smell of a new notebook and of course a multitude of colourful pens. 

Stephanie's template is designed to be printed for both A5 and Traveller notebook sized notebooks. I have a pile of notebooks waiting to be used and I chose this lovely one for all my knitting adventures:

Then I printed and filled in my first ever project notes! I chose my baby flax jumper to write up as its the freshest in my mind. 

Note the lack of swatch.... These may happen one day! It contains sections for pattern details, needles although I need to add the sizes and a modifications section which I really like.

The template is available when you sign up to Space Cadet's newsletter which I would definitely recommend! It includes not just yarn updates but also links to interesting articles. I'm now wondering if I can do something similar for my weaving and sewing projects as well. Just a note - please don't copy these images and use them! Time has clearly gone into designing this and if you could show some love for Stephanie by signing up that would be awesome. 

Do you write up your projects? Are you more techy or paper based?

Friday, 27 October 2017

On my needles

Just the sleeves to go! My second baby Flax by Tin Can Knits.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Early Christmas

It's arrived! Already! I only ordered this yesterday morning during my commute into London and it was waiting for me when I got home this afternoon. 

Ahhhh!! So pretty! According to a comment on my Instagram post, West Yorkshire Spinners have already sold out and The Loveliest Yarn Company only had two balls left so if you would like one you'll have to be quick! 

As always the yarn came with a little treat - stitch markers and a handwritten message. It really makes the parcel extra special.

I also received the Winwick Mum sock pattern as well so can't decide - socks or cowl?

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Sweet Shop Candy Cane Yarn

Have you seen the latest yarn offering from West Yorkshire Spinners? Its a candy cane striped yarn in time for Christmas this year and I love it!

Photo from: www.theloveliestyarncompany.co.uk

Christine from Winwick Mum has designed a sock pattern that I believe comes free with every ball sold (her sock post here). I'm tempted to knit these especially with the contrasting cuffs, heels and toes. I agree with Christine that they remind me of Will Ferrell in Elf!

Photo from: West Yorkshire Spinners. Socks by Winwick Mum
However I'm also tempted to use it to make a Sockhead Cowl by Kelly McClure (Ravelry link) so I can pretend I'm wearing candy canes around my neck. Delicious! Although I hope it won't make me too hungry for sweets every time I look at it. 

I'm going to be ordering mine from www.theloveliestyarncompany.co.uk not because I'm affiliated or anything but because I love their Instagram and the sweet messages they add to every order. It's these extra touches that mean I will always check their website first before searching elsewhere.

In case you're interested the matching green yarn is West Yorkshire Spinners Chocolate Lime and the red is Cayenne Pepper. Yum!

Will keep you posted on what I decide to make. Although I still need to rustle up some pumpkins first! (And the rest of my Christmas gift knitting but shhh). 

Charlotte and Harvey x

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Sunday chilling

After a weekend of doing absolutely nothing and a Friday off I think I'm getting back to my normal self. I'm less full of cold, I've caught up on sleep and have just spent time relaxing which is not something that happens often. I think its very easy to forget how important it is to pause and re-evaluate how you spend your time. This weekend was full of eating yummy food, bits of knitting and watching lots of tv with Will. I think both of us feel ready to take on just about anything now! Harvey slept a lot as well but that's pretty typical for him.

So what's been happening recently?

Just before my cycling weekend in the Cotswolds with Will (post here), my yarn kit for the latest Stephen West MKAL arrived. I ordered it about two days before the first clue came out and I was amazed and grateful at how quickly the yarn arrived. The whole kit is from For the Love of Yarn which is based in Glasgow in Scotland and is gorgeous. You can find her shop here. Although I'm slowly adding to my yarn stash I don't have enough to stash dive for a project and these colours were perfect:

Harvey wanted it all for himself. Or he's hungry. Probably hungry... Right food first and then the rest of the post.

Ok Harvey is fed and asleep on the bed so I'm back:

We've had some very stormy and grey weather here so the lighting has been challenging for photos. The colours really pop in real life and make me pause whenever I spot them in my room. Fitting when the MKAL is called Speckle and Pop!

Now I've had to pause this knit for a little while. I'm really enjoying it except for one slight problem. I don't own a swift or a ball winder. I know! Hence the messy ball of pink yarn above. I had to get a bit inventive to hand wind 400m of yarn. 400 metres. By hand. It took aaaaages! It felt like I was on an episode of Blue Peter. Now children, take one vitamin bottle and tape the end of a skein to it:

Drape the skein around a chair

And after what feels like hours you will get... a messy ball of yarn!! I think I've earned my Blue Peter badge, don't you? For those outside the UK, Blue Peter was a childrens program which amongst other things had a crafting section. The running joke was that the show could make anything with some toilet rolls and a bit of papier maché. I wonder if there's anything like that on tv now?

It was worth it to be able to start the mystery knitalong. This is how far I got:

And then re-read the pattern and realised I would need to wind ALL of the skeins in the kit for the first clue. Well that was that really. My birthday is at the end of November and I have very subtly suggested a swift and ball winder might be nice. (Subtle meaning I've emailed Amazon links to Mum and Will entitled Birthday Gifts.)

So until then the now not so mysterious mystery knitalong will have to wait. And yes I won't even pretend I haven't looked at other peoples projects. Which were ah-mazing. If you've made a version - well done!!

In the Cotswolds I finished my first ever jumper:

This is the Flax jumper in Aran weight yarn, designed by Tin Can Knits. I used the free Caron Cake I received from Knit Now magazine for subscribing (post here). Its a free pattern and part of their learn to knit series called the Simple Collection. You can find it on Ravelry or just Google Tin Can Knits Simple Collection. Alternatively just follow this link. Each pattern has great tutorials attached on their website which made this incredibly easy. It was also part of my year goals for 2017 (see here). I'll be reviewing my 2017 goals later this year around December time. I can safely say I may have over aimed slightly! I have a project page for it on Ravelry which will be updated properly soon.

Then this week came the uber cold! Or that's how it felt anyway. Cue sitting in bed watching stuff and knitting.

If you haven't come across this podcast before, I cannot recommend it enough. This is Inside Number 23 hosted by Katie. She's really chatty and fun. She mainly talks about knitting and sewing with bits of life chat thrown in. It was definitely one of the highlights of last Friday when I was getting very grumpy about being ill!

And last but certainly not least - I have a new-ish cast on! I started this on Thursday and I'm flying through it.

Yes, you guessed it. It's another flax! This time for my cousins little girl. Is that a second cousin? I can never work it out. Answers on a postcard or below! My only slight tweak to the pattern is that I'm not doing the garter panel down the sleeves. This is for two reasons: 1. I kept forgetting to do it on the first jumper so its a little bit variable and 2. I really didn't enjoy knitting the panels. So instead I'm happy to knit a simple raglan jumper. If you've never knit a jumper before I would say this one is perfect for beginners to try as I'm a beginner myself but also it comes in sizes 0-6 months all the way up to XXL men's and the tutorials are very helpful. 

And to prove how much I love this jumper, I'm making one for myself as well! 

It's in slightly more muted colours with subtle specks. Its currently on hold while I tackle a few Christmas gift ideas (Christmas 2018 at this rate). Although three is a bit excessive, it has meant that I've gained confidence with garment knitting. Especially understanding gauge, tension and and how each part is created with different stitches. 

So what are you knitting this week? And how do you relax when everything has got too busy?

Hope you have a wonderful week x

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Coughs, Splutters, Cold and Flu

Sometimes your body tells you that you need to rest and you ignore it. You have too much going on, a 'to-do' list the length of your arm and you simply don't have time to stop still for a moment. Then your body decides to take the choice out of your hands and give you a cold, a bug, a flu or whatever you want to call it. So today I have come to a standstill and am finally listening. I have a hot drink and my duvet and a podcast list to watch also the length of my arm. Admittedly I still have to work this afternoon but this morning's theme is rest. How do you relax? Any podcast recommendations?

Friday, 13 October 2017

The Cotswolds featuring lots of sheep

I spent last weekend cycling around the Cotswolds in England on a rickety bicycle called Hortense with my boyfriend, Will, on a matching bike called Jos√© to celebrate five whole years together. I can't believe the time has gone so quickly and I feel so lucky to have him in my life. 

Anyway onto the important bit - sheep! Featuring other animals too. On the Saturday we went to Adam Henson's Farm Park which is a mix of rare breed sheep, rabbits, cows, chickens, goats and an educational centre for school groups and children.

I discovered bantams look like a squashed version of real chickens when they sit down.

But are so fluffy when they stand up. Look at those legs!

Goats will only pose for photos if there's a handful of food just underneath the camera. And that my Garthenor cabled hat is very warm!

Herdwick sheep are very friendly and incredibly soft to touch. They are going on my sheep wishlist (everyone has sheep wishlist right? Right?!)

More sheep but I can't remember the breed. Soft and friendly although mainly for the food we were giving them.

We finished the afternoon with a sheep show which explained how sheep have developed since early farmers a thousand years ago due to breeding, Roman and Viking invasions and what we needed them for.such as wool or meat. Can you guess which are the Roman and Viking sheep from the names?

In the corner of the barn were two gated areas full of fleeces. I was very tempted to get one but the thought of cycling it all the way back to the B&B was too much even for me. Although the farm park is very knowledgeable about sheep, they didn't seem that aware of the uses for the fleece. Hence why it was labelled 'wool' rather than fleece. The different breeds would have been interesting to spin but as I haven't bought fleece before I had no idea what I needed to look for. I'm going to go back once I have learnt a bit more about fleece, staple length and spinning in general. 

It was a fantastic weekend! My legs were pretty sore by the end but the cooked breakfasts and cream teas certainly helped cure our aches and pains.