Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Cake Pops

I work in a school, and sometimes at the end of the school year the children give me some really lovely thank you gifts. One of the more unusual gifts a few years ago was the book pictured below. I have often looked at the lovely little cakes on sticks, but only recently managed to find the lollysticks that I needed to make them. Once again Lakeland came up trumps. 

So we decided to have a go at one of the easier recipes. We did get a bit confused to start, as the book is American, and refers to frosting. But once we had worked out that was what we call icing there was no stopping us. Our cakes are not quite as professional as the ones on the book cover. We went for a slightly more random decoration style.  But they were easy to make, and very tasty. Next time we may try some of the little animals.

They make a really lovely display, and I think would go down very well at any sort of party. Also very easy to eat without making a mess.

 Cake Poptastic!

Friday, 22 February 2013

Sophie Attends A Garden Party

Sophie has been invited to a garden party. Since the weather is a little warmer she thought she would wear her scalloped edged wool dress. She loves the little matching jacket, with its lace trim, which has been sewn so delicately. Her widebrimmed hat feels fashionable, but also protect her English rose complexion.

Have a lovely day out, Sophie!

This is my last Sophie post, as you have now seen all her clothes. Unless I, or hopefully my daughter, get stitching. If you want to see more about Sophie you can here and here.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Shopping For A Magic Loop

The above is from my list of new year's resolutions. I didn't put them in a post, but just jotted them on a notepad. (Some of them are just ideas for patterns or techniques that I want to try out.)

I have seen a few patterns I like (particularly Linda at Natural Suburbia's  tutorials for cute little animals) which refer to a magic loop. Assuming that this was a bit of knitting equipment, I decided to go shopping for one. I went to the haberdashery department of a shop where I often buy wool, and started scouring the shelves to see if I could find one. Lots and lots of needles and knitting and crochet equipment, but no sign of the mysterious "magic loop".

So I approached the assistants behind the counter. "Do you have a magic loop?" Did I imagine it, or was there a bit of sniggering amongst them? They suggested I try the toy department. "No, no, it is definitely a piece of knitting equipment." I had imagined it was some new advanced type of circular needle, maybe telescopic so you can knit very small rounds.

Unsuccessful I headed home and googled "magic loop", and have found out that it is a technique, and not a piece of equipment at all.  Did everyone know this already? I feel rather foolish. I already have some circular needles, and found a great video on how to do the magic loop method here

Here is my first bit of magic loop knitting. I quite like knitting with a set of double-pointed needles, but know it puts a lot of people off, particularly if there are not many stitches. I have tried to avoid double-pointeds in my patterns where possible, and I redesigned my monarch caterpillar so it could be knitted on two needles instead of in the round. But seams, particularly on small knits, are not great either. Can you guess what I am thinking of knitting? My last photography post is an enormous clue. 

So I am going have try to adopt the magic loop as my preferred method for a while. And if anyone wants to try and manufacture a telescopic magic loop needle, I would be very interested to try it out. Can I ever go back to my yarn store, or are they going to remember me as the loopy lady?

I think I have mentioned before I love browsing in charity shops, often I'm looking for vintage patterns or material. So later on in my shopping trip I chanced upon this book in a secondhand shop. It must have been waiting for me. As you can see it is a bit water damaged, but I had to buy it. Not quite sure about the title, which if I think about the way I work should say" in at least 50 quite tricky steps". But it is full of some really useful tips for designing, and setting out patterns. Although I have knitted for years I think there are some quite big gaps in my knowledge (as proved by the magic loop incident). And it has a whole section on garment design, which I'm toying with.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Age, Beauty and Snakes

Happy Chinese New Year

Year of the Snake 

Chinese Lantern Plant

I took this photo back in the Autumn. My daughter is learning piano, and this lovely Chinese lantern plant was in her teacher's garden. I love the way it gets more beautiful as it ages (just like some people). Do you know anyone who is getting more beautiful as they get older?

I had a second trip to the British Museum, and on the journey there my son decided what I should try to photograph. He suggested snakes, as it is the Chinese Year of the Snake.

Snakes were much harder to find than I had imagined. At first I had to really hunt to find any. But they were there in nearly every culture. And eventually I did find some ...

in Mesopotania

in Ancient Egypt

and in Egyptian Hieroglyphics

with the Romans

 in China

and an Aztec Rattle Snake

in Africa

and finally in Ancient Greece with some other animals.

I really love this Greek bowl. The painting is so fresh it is hard to believe it is so old.  

In fact the only part of the museum where I couldn't find snakes was Ancient Britain.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Baby Daisy Shoes

Here is my second version of the baby shoe. I've called it the Baby Daisy Shoe, and although I started off intending to just embroidery daisies, you can see I got a bit carried away. It is very simple to just add a little bumble bee.

White daisies are my favourite, but on these deep red shoes, I thought a pink gerbera would look better. The centre of the flowers is made with a collection of french knots.

And here are some more flowers that I really love: bluebells.

The knitting pattern is available on ravelry. You can use any doubleknit wool, and the embroidery is there to inspire the imagination. The shoes are knitted on two needles, and in one piece, and is sized for 0-3 months, or 3-6 months. It is a very easy knit. You can knit them in two shades, although I also like the look of the ones at the top of the page where I have just used one colour. I love this wool with all its little random flecks.

I am going to put these samples, and some of my Baby Bee Shoes, into my Etsy Shop. So if you aren't into knitting, but would like a pair of baby daisy shoes, some of these will appear there soon.  I think they would make a great gift for a new born. 

I have decided to put a bit of effort into the finished objects section of my shop over the next month. At present it doesn't look very appealing, with it's one phone cosy. 

I have an idea for a cute, but educational toy ...

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Jack Frost Nipping ...

This was the view through my daughter's window yesterday morning. Thankfully the ice was on the outside. So I quickly took these shots, and then was horrified when I realised the battery on my camera had run out. The sun was gradually rising, and I thought I could get a better picture with more light outside. ... But by the time my camera was charged unfortunately all the ice was melted. 

I'm sure there is a scientific reason for the beautiful patterns, but in my opinion Jack Frost has been out with his paint box.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Baby Bee Shoes

At the Christmas craft fairs this year, I had one or two people ask me if I did my little knitted shoes in baby sizes. So I decided to scale down the pattern and make a baby version. 

My original children's pattern comes in two varieties: the daisy pump (which can be knitted in two colours), and a garter stitch version, which I called puppy paws, as they are embroidered to look like little paws.

I thought I could do both types in a baby version. I have knitted quite a little pile of garter stitch boots, and now I can't quite decide. I really love the way they look plain. I know they are very simple, but that is what appeals to me. But I have no idea whether other people will like them. So here they are plain ...

.... and here they are decorated.

When Frankie was a baby we called her Baby Bee for a while, so that is why I decided to embroider the bees. As our second child she was our B Baby, and she also had a little stripey suit that made her look like a Bumble Bee. 

Puppy Paws

I am going to put all the pictures on the pattern, so I guess the decorating is just an option. The pattern has two sizes: 0 - 3 month and 3 - 6 months. And as usual I have written these out separately, as I find patterns with brackets confusing.

They are knitted in double-knit wool, on quite a small needle, which means they are a firm knit. Any double-knit wool would work, but I have recommed some of the Sirdar wools I used in my samples. I wanted the booties to be quite structured, almost with the feel of a felted shoe. More shoe-like that sock-like. I really like knitting them, as it almost seems magical, how with a little bit of shaping the shoe shape is formed. And as they are on two needles with just one seam to sew up they are fairly simple. 

Knitted With Sirdar Snuggly Tiny Tots DK

What I am excited about is that I have a real baby model lined up. So expect a few more pictures next week. 

The pattern is available on ravelry. Follow the link in my side bar.

I have started work on the daisy version, which should be ready soon.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Little House on the Prairie

Little One and I were watching a new programme on kid's television last week called "Totally Rubbish". Right up our street. All sorts of crafting, and upcycling. A paper artist called Su Blackwell was featured, making a little scene out of old phonebooks. Some of her work, much of which is inspired by fairytales, is really amazing. I have possibly misnamed this post, as I should have called in Little House in the Big Wood.

So when a new yellow pages popped through our door, Little One thought she would have a go this afternoon, at making something with the old one. I was summoned with my knitting needles to help make some of the little tubes. (I got a bit grumpy about the risk of glue on knitting.) I have been working on a new knitting pattern all week, but it is still not ready to go. Can you see the complete concentration on her face?

So while she was constructing I thought I would have a little go at making a paper daffodil. I have left it in with the others in the vase, and will see if any of my family notice.

We have not really done much paper craft, but it was really fun. Very cheap afternoon's entertainment too.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Raindrops Keep Falling

What to photograph on a rainy day, when you don't want to go very far? I dashed out to my garden, and the only thing of interest seemed to be all the raindrops. Once again the squirrels were no where to be seen!

I like the kind of abstract look of the rain on my washing line, and in the photo below you can see the branches of the apple tree reflected in the raindrops.

Linking to Saturday Snapshot at Alyce's At Home With Books