Thursday 30 January 2014

Knit Your Own Zoo

Knit Your Own Zoo by Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne
Published by Black Dog & Leventhal
February 11th 2014
Hardback Edition
The Best in Show series is an outstanding global success. Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne are back - this time with designs for 25 wild animals. There is something here for everyone, with instructions for knitting spots, stripes, fur, scales, trunks, wings and beaks! The animals are surprisingly easy to make. It will only take a few evenings to create yourself an exotic pet or reproduce your favourite species. These knitted animals in miniature are much easier to look after than the real things - they don't need feeding, they won't make a mess and they take up hardly any room. This book is a real zoological tour of the globe with animals from all over the world. Patterns include tiger, crocodile, penguin, cheetah, anteater, ring-tailed lemur, camel, giraffe, panda and kangaroo. Idiosyncratic descriptions of the various species accompany beautiful photography, making this book irresistible for both keen knitters and wildlife enthusiasts.
Who isn't a zoo animal fan?  In this new book by Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne, there is definitely something for everyone, from cheeky monkeys to scary (or not so scary) crocodiles.  What better way to be able to own your own zoo animal than by knitting it?
The layout is clear and concise, as are the pictures.  The only problem for me is that most of the patterns call for the use of double-pins (or dpns) and despite having been knitting for decades (!) I still haven't found the courage to attempt this.  However, if this sounds like you too, then fear not, for there are still patterns within the book that call for the normal two-needle method.
I also liked the way that the book goes into detail about the actual animals themselves, making it more than just another knitting book.  This is the extract from the pattern on Orangutans:
Orangutan means 'person of the forest'; along with chimpanzees and gorillas, orangutans are apes.  You can tell an ape from a monkey as apes have no tails.  There is a legend that orangutans can speak, but they choose not to for fear of being made to work.  King Louie, one of the stars of The Jungle Book cartoon, wasn't in the original book, but popped up in the film to sing 'I Wan'na Be Like You' to Mowgli.  Bornean orangutans are endangered, and Sumatran critically endangered, largely due to deforestation.
My husband is a huge giraffe fan but I think I'm going to have to call on all my skills to be able to knit this beauty!
This review is for the Canadian publication of the book, but it is also out in hardbook in the UK.
Visit your wild side!
G x


Monday 27 January 2014

Reading Matter

It's going to be a busy old week this week as I'm working every day!  Unheard of, as I normally only work two afternoons a week, this week, it's my normal afternoon sessions, added to three mornings!!!! 

I'm still progressing with the shawl, thankfully, and I've bought some new needles after the disaster with my mint green ones (though that turned out to be a complete farce - took the 7 year old there last Tuesday, got there with 5 minutes to closing time, they had already locked up but opened up again for me, grabbed needles, got home to continue cardigan, only to realise I'd got 7.5mm ones not the 6.5mm ones I needed!  Had to go back the next day to swop them over)!

On a brighter note, there seems to be lots of nice reading matter here at the moment - I think I've crossed the line of the 'subscribing to too many magazines' again, but I try to justify it by reminding myself that it's by far cheaper that way than buying them every month!

And I found this in the supermarket today for a bargain £3!

I've also got so many books to review for my other blog - over 50 and it's only January!  I guess I must be doing something right if the publishers keep sending me them which considering it's a new blog is something to be proud of.  In fact, after my last review of the Honeybun's cookery book, they contacted me to say thank you and that they were sending me a little present in the post!  How lovely, it made my day!

Current reading!

What's made your day?

G x

Friday 24 January 2014

Honeybuns Gluten-Free Baking

Honeybuns Gluten-Free Baking by Emma Goss-Custard
Published by Anova Books
5th December 2013
Hardback Edition



Gluten-free bakes can be every bit as delicious as traditional treats. With a little know-how from Honeybuns, you can enjoy gorgeous cakes, muffins, brownies, flapjacks, biscuits and puddings that contain no wheat or gluten. You'll find all your favourite teatime bakes, from Lemon drizzle cake and A very chocolatey cake to Baked apple muffins and Heathcliff brownies. There are lots of puddings too, including Baked lemon cheesecake, Chocolate and raspberry tartlets, Peach and raspberry roulade and Chocolate lime pie. Packed with practical tips and with a with a guide to ingredients, this book gives you all the inspiration and advice you need to make your baking gluten-free and gorgeous!



This has the most gorgeous looking treats to make, and all gluten-free by the founder of Honeybuns, Emma Goss-Custard (what an apt name she has)!  It's beautifully laid out, with the most tantalising photography that makes you just want to grab the food right off of the page and eat it there and then!

The book is divided into the following chapters:

·        Cakes

·        Muffins

·        Traybakes

·        Brownies

·        Flapjacks

·        Cookies & Biscuits

·        Puddings

There is also a great chapter on what ingredients you will need, as well as ways to adapt the recipes.  If you can't source the ingredients, you can also visit their website here and order online!  Hubby was very impressed as there are lots of recipes involving his favourite ingredient, almonds, and mine, chocolate.  But if you are after something healthier, well there's lots more to choose from!


Custard Creams


Chocolate, hazelnut and cranberry cake

My biggest dilemma is which recipe to try first?


G x

Monday 20 January 2014


Oh me, oh my!  It's my blogiversary!  I can't believe that exactly one year ago today, I was typing up my very first blog post and all because a fellow blogger decided that I needed my own blog!  The lovely Lazy Daisy Jones got a bit fed up of my commenting on her blog of all the things I had been doing, and so said, 'You need a blog'.  'Oh yes,' relied I, 'but I have no idea, nor time to do one just now.'  'Fear not,' said she, 'for I will do one for you' - and she bloomin well did!

So thank you so much to her for that, and to all those of you who stop by.  I've gone through three blog image changes in the year, learnt to crochet, made a dress, or two, and set up another blog and there's probably more to come!  I don't know who the majority of you are, as you don't follow me, or leave comments, but I hope you are real people and not some stupid spam-bot thingy.  Knowing that people look here, and even more so through leaving a comment, really does make my day, so thanks.

Yesterday was another sewing day with Lottie.  She helped me to finish the dress that I started an age ago, from the Simplicity pattern that Rachelle over at Ted & Agnes recommended.  I only had the sleeves, neckline and hem to do but I'd got all in a muddle over it.  Turns out I was trying to sew the sleeves on upside down - I can be so blonde sometimes!

Not quite finished here but almost!

Anyway, tis complete.  It's a little thick but that's because I made it from a gifted curtain and not dressmaking fabric, but it'll be ace for when it gets colder.  Turns out it's actually Liberty of London too - what's not to love?!

The shawl is coming along too - not looking forward to sewing in those ends though!

I need to catch-up on the new Interior Designer programme too - did anyone see it?  My bloggy pal Emma from Oooh Betty is on, on Thursday's show.

I hope you are keeping warm and dry.  Thanks again.

G x

Friday 17 January 2014

Crochet and Pixie Love

Well my plan to not start any new projects was foiled this week by this incident!

Yes, my trusty, and only, pair of 7.5mm needles have reached the bitter end of their life and are no more!  This means, as of the current time, I am no longer able to continue with my blue cardigan - and I'm on the sleeves already!

Of course, I could easily have moved to one of my other WIPs in order to find something to keep my fingers amused, but that wasn't going to happen - was it?!

Oh no siree bob (whoever he is), I used this opportunity to start on the crochet shawl inspired by the delightful Pixie over at The Crafte Nook  I found it on pin interest and immediately wanted to make my own.  She wonderfully sent me a sample and a diagram to help me on my way.

The picture that started it all!

I'm not the best at decoding patterns though, so pondered a while about how to make said triangle.  Then I remembered, for my birthday I had this wonderful book bought for me - and inside were triangles!!!!

Last night I made this beauty

I was very proud and went to sleep dreaming of crochet shawls.

Then at 3am the 5 year old woke me up and I couldn't go back to sleep, there was something wrong with my triangle! I spent 30 minutes looking at it, and studying pin interest and then realised, I needed to make a two-sided triangle instead!

Pixie's shawl

This would have to wait until the morning but I went back to sleep happier knowing that I could find a way to solve my problem!

This morning I used the fabulous You Tube to find a how-to for a half granny square (for this is what it's called) and began.  This is where I got to before having to go to work today.  I think it's looking mighty fine!

I also got some fantastic post today, I ordered this beautiful broach from Pixie and it arrived this morning.  Gorgeous isn't it?!

As modelled by Pixie herself

As modelled by me on my furry gillet

Did you get any nice post today?

G x

Wednesday 15 January 2014

A dressmaking we'll go... of my New Year's Resolutions (from last year and this) is to try to make a dress.  I've already made one, which I wore on my Granny Chic sewing day with Rachelle from Ted & Agnes and Tif from Dottie Angel, but I've hampered over doing more - but properly, from a pattern, not just winging it as this one was.

Oh yes, we chortled, that is definitely a hand-made frock!

Therefore, using my birthday pennies wisely, I ordered two Japanese dressmaking books in the hope that this would occur.  A trip to the fabulous Abakhan for fabric and I was ready for the off.

I've been sensible, doing the pattern drawing and cutting one day, and the sewing another so as not to rush and mess it up.

The chosen dress

 Today was the sewing day, and it's been eventful.  I was doing okay until facing got involved - I always sew it wrong, but this time, did it correctly and then realised I'd not attached the straps!  I unpicked and re-did it!  Then, and only then, did I try said garment on!  Oh dear!  Whilst the dress is fine, the straps are probably only half the length I'm going to need them to be.  This means unpicking all of the facing again, re-cutting and interfacing two new straps and sewing them back on.  My dress will not be finished today because soon I will have to go on the school run, walk my dogs, cook a Shepherd's Pie, eat it, take the 7 year old to Brownies and then put two girly girls into bed.  I think by then I will have lost the will to re-make my dress.  I think this is a project that will have to be finished next week.

Am thinking one side of dress looks more A-line than the other here?!

Whilst I am a little downhearted about this, at least I am over half-way to finishing it and hopefully it will be wearable once I do.  It's not perfect, but it's mine and I did it all by myself!

I think that deserves a 'Yay'!

G x

Sunday 12 January 2014

A New Addiction

Oh my goodness me, I've discovered something new!

And I like it!

It started off with this:

And then progressed to this:

And finally, this:

Yes, I have a new addiction to Betty & Walter's Elderflower and Lemon hand cream.  It smells so divine and heavenly and well, lovely.  I had to buy loads!

Surely you can't blame a girl for stocking up?!

G x

Friday 10 January 2014

Buffi's Dress Design

Buffi's Dress Design by Buffi Jashanmal
Published by Storey Publishing
1st January 2014
Hardback edition

In this fun, hip, easy-to-follow guide, Project Runway contestant Buffi Jashanmal shows you how to design and make your own custom-fitted dresses from start to finish. You'll learn how to create custom patterns for three basic dress shapes - the shift, the sheath, and the princess seam - and how to make them rock by exploring nine variations for each basic shape. Buffi also shows you how to revamp secondhand and vintage dresses, for a total of 30 unique and stylish dress designs. Your dresses will fit your body, suit your taste, and express your individual style like nothing you can buy in a store!

I was given this book by the publisher to review, written by one of the contestants from the American tv show Project Runway.  From three basic styles, you can make and adapt the patterns to get 30 dresses in total.  Basically you make the basic pattern, called a sloper, and then adapt it to suit the look you want.  It all sounds fairly straightforward!!!!

The layout of the book is really clear, breaking down fabric types, stitches, and the tools of the trade needed to make each item, as well as the actual projects themselves.  Unfortunately I can't show you any pictures from the book as it's only been made available to review online!  However, you can go onto Amazon and click to look inside the book - this won't show you the actual dresses themselves though which is a bit disappointing if you are thinking of buying the book.

The dresses you can make are broken down into three categories: shift, sheath and princess seam and then from there you can do the adaptions to make variants on the same theme.  I don't know how many of the actual dresses I would make for everyday use (I'm not going to any proms anyday soon!) but it's a clear, well explained book that would be ideal for a younger dressmaker to try out.

G x

Thursday 2 January 2014

Welcome to 2014!

Happy New Year!

Am still trying to get to grips with the new computer and Widows 8 in particular so please bear with me as I try to even upload one picture, let alone a few.  It's all touch-screen and weird - not at all sure I know what I am doing!  Remember how I said I get frustrated by 'things', well this new pc has got my blood pressure right up!

I can't believe we are in 2014 already, time seemed to fly by once November arrived.   I have to admit, the decorations are still up, haven't contemplated taking them down yet, and the girlies presents are in two very large gift-bags in their room as I have no idea where it's all going to go!

Hubby has been spending his time erecting the new playhouse in the garden.  We were very fortunate in that a neighbour gave it to us as her daughter didn't use it anymore (and they needed the space for the new dog) so we got ourselves a free 2-storey wooden playhouse.  Eldest daughter instantly claimed it was going to be her reading room but it's been sitting dismantled outside for months.

Now it is patched back up and re-felted by hubby and in it's new location amongst the trees.  It still needs work inside to make it into a cosy reading room but we'll get there.  As eldest daughter's favourite colour is orange, I offered her some of my vintage sheet for curtains.

Unfortunately I think my sewing machine is not a happy bunny at the mo, it's slipping stitches and not sewing properly at all.  As a result, I've only made one pair out of the three pairs destined for their new home.  A phone call to a repair shop seems to be in order next week.

I've started work on my new cardigan and it's going quite quickly thanks to chunky wool and 7.5mm needles. 

Totally loving her whole outfit!

Using Hayfield Chunky wool

I really must start finishing projects started last year, even though there are a 101 things I'd like to start making right now.  I have two blankets to finish for Enid caravan, and I think I am going to try to do at least a square a week on my Mollie Makes one, that way, it should be finished by the year end if not before!

I've another dress-making session booked with Lottie for the end of January, so hopefully I'll have something to show from one of my new books.  Fingers crossed.

I hope you all had a great New Year - what crafty plans do you have?!

G x