Thursday 31 July 2014

500 Crochet Blocks

500 Crochet Blocks by Hannah Elgie and Kath Webber
Published by Search Press
14th February 2013
Hardback Edition
When my bloggy friend Kath over at Inverleith published her crochet compendium I knew I'd have to go and get a copy.  As a newbie(ish) hooker, I'm keen to increase my skills and do more than 'just a granny square'.  Thankfully the lovely people over at Search Press were more than happy to accommodate my request and sent one through post-haste.
There is so much to choose from - obviously as it's titled 500 blocks, not less, not more!  The book is divided into four sections:
  • back and forth
  • round and round
  • colour work
  • shaped motifs
You get clear instructions, in both written and chart format, plus a photo on how to do each square, and here's the clever bit, you get a variation on the same thing too.  At the end of each section, are more variations for you to try.
I decided to attempt the 'evening sunset' square to make a cushion from.  The instructions were easy to follow, and when I did make a mistake, the photo showed me exactly where I had gone wrong.
I've made 9 squares in total and I plan to join them together and then add a simple treble border around to fit the front of the cushion before doing a plain crochet back - sounds straight forward!
If you haven't already got a crochet compendium (I love that word), then I'd definitely recommend getting this book.
G x


Monday 28 July 2014

Blog hop, hop, hop

I'm a bit nervous, for today is my blog hop day.  I've never done one of these before but the lovely Mrs Bertimus asked me if I fancied doing it and of course, I couldn't say no to her, could I?!
So if you're ready, and I think I am, here we go (hold on tight, it could be a bumpy ride)!

What am I working on?
Right now, I've just finished a second Miss Marlo frock from Pip Lincolne's brilliant book Sew, La, Tea, Do and I'm also knitting and crocheting too many projects all at the same time - don't we all? 

This is the first version that I made last year

I used this fabric from Abakhan

I'm also trying to finish this poncho for the 5 year old.  It was meant to be for me, and I bought 200g of wool as specified on the pattern but knew I wasn't going to have enough to complete it, and the shop I got it from didn't have anymore!  So, I undid it all (I hate it when I have to do that) and decided that I would put it to good use by making a smaller version instead.  Just means I'll have to buy some more wool for me....

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I don't know that it does other than that it's been made by me. I am trying to be more adventurous with what I do.  I taught myself to crochet last year through the medium of youtube, and I've been knitting forever, but only on two needles.  I am determined to push myself to use circular needles, double-pins and a cable hook, though obviously not all at the same time.  It's wool - it can't hurt me!

Why do I write/create what I do?
Because I love doing it.  I love making things and I love my books with a passion too, so here on blogland I try to nurture both sides of them by having two blogs.  My book blog, if you haven't visited it yet, is called Miss Chapter's Reviews and I try to post reviews about three times a week on there.  I love to write, and wanted to go into publishing but after finishing my degree ended up teaching instead.  Book reviewing is my way back into this arena and I love it very much - though I do have about 100 books here waiting to be read and written about!  I've also just written my first article for Pretty Nostalgic Magazine on WW1 embroidered postcards which can be found inside issue 13, and I should have a second article in the Goodwood Revival Special which I think comes out in September!  If you haven't discovered Pretty Nostalgic yet, I'd definitely recommend it.  Yes, it's more expensive than an off-the-shelf magazine but it's not loaded with adverts, takes ages to read, smells divine, and is something that you will actually keep rather than cut up or bin.  I have every issue and I love reading them.  It's worth a subscription.

How does your writing/creative process work?
Usually I see something and think I fancy having a go at that, and then it's time to get the sewing machine out and have a bash, and if it's writing something, I just do it straight off, see how it sounds, and then revise it.  I've got to get thinking as I've got an article for a publication due out at Christmas and I still haven't an idea of what I'm going to write about, but once I've had that flash of light moment then I get it written down immediately.

So, that's a bit about me (hope you're still awake) and now I'm passing the baton on to two other fellow bloggers whose work and blogs are very different from each other but I love them both.

The first is the lovely Kath over at Inverleith. Her blog is full of her own crochet makes, and she has just started sewing too - her Sorbetto tops are lovely, she's a wizz at bias binding!!!!  She describes her blog as thus: Mother, writer and daydreamer Kath has been documenting her crafty creations over at Inverleith for three-and-a-half years, Sharing crochet patterns, projects and her adventures in colour.

My other fellow blog-hopper is Hester over at Bodkin Creates. Hesta celebrates the seasons through craft, and via her workshops in East Devon.  Dottie Angel is a huge fan, don't you know?!  I love the work that Hesta produces - only problem is she lives so far away so I can't attend her workshops, but I can droll over them online!

so there we go, blog hop all done and dusted.  Do drop by and say hi another time, or pop and see Miss Chapter, she'd love a visit from you!  Then go and visit Kath and Hesta - I'm sure they'll make you a cup of tea!

G x

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Honest Frock Workshop

As you may know, two years ago I was lucky enough to get the last place on a crafty day with Dottie Angel and Ted & Agnes at the Hope and Elvis studio in Worksop.  If you haven't read all about it yet, you can do so here.

Well, ever since, I've been asking, pleading, begging Rachelle to run a dress making workshop, and this weekend it happened! (Of course it has nothing to do with my constant hounding of her at all, but I have been wanting to do this for the longest of times)!

Anyways, I managed to get a place on the Honest Frock workshop on Sunday, alongside my crafty partner in crime Lottie, who I also met that first time up Nottingham way....and, squeal, my glamorous bloggy pal Mrs Bertimus sneakily revealed, just before the event, that she was going up too!

So....Sunday arrived and off Lottie and I went, a fraction later than planned as Lottie got lost on her way to me (but that's another story) and we arrived with 15 minutes to go before the actual event began.

Rachelle is as gorgeous as ever (though there is much less of her after her juicing experience) and it was great to see Louise and Miss Debs there too.  Rachelle explained what we needed to do and off we went.  There were lots of moments to stop in between too so that we knew what to do every step of the way and no one went wrong at all.

Look at that concentration!

The heat of the day did take it toll though and by the end of the afternoon we were all flagging a bit, in fact I think only 2 or 3 dresses were actually completed there and then but we were all confident enough to take them home to complete them.

Lottie rocking her denim frock

Mrs B's granny chic number

In my head before the event, I had a Merchant & Mills style dress in mind, and Rachelle (who didn't know this) suggested I buy linen to bring up - which is what I was thinking too!  I went to Abakhan and got three different colours for a mere £24 so I can make three dresses for £8 which is pretty good I think!  I couldn't decide which colour to make my first dress in so Lottie decided the beige as that was her least favourite out of the grey and navy to use!

I will admit, choosing a fabric that has no clear right and wrong side is a bit of a pain but with help from everyone concerned, I made the dress with no errors at all.

All that needed to be done afterwards was to hem the neckline, sleeves and bottom, so as yesterday was the first day of the school holidays I got to work.  I was going to do an invisible hem on the neck line but I wasn't happy with how it was looking, so I abandoned that idea!  Annoyingly, my fabric, after cutting it out, managed to have a very small hole in it near the right shoulder which I was going to patch - and then I remembered that my adorable bloggy pal Pixie sent me a beautiful flower broach that she made, so I fixed it on and my dress is now even nicer than before!

I do have arms, honest!

Photo bombed by the 5 year old!


The finishing touch

I'm all set to do two more now (when I have some mummy-free time).  I think the next one might have shorter sleeves, or maybe do a sleeveless one too - the opportunities are endless!

Oh, and there was a fabric sale on too, so I grabbed this fab barkcloth from Miss Debs - cushions for Agatha van I think!

I can't wait to go back again!

G x

Thursday 17 July 2014

Homemade Simple for Kids

Homemade Simple for Kids by Joanna Gosling
Published by Kyle Books
8th May 2014
Hardback Edition
I already have a copy of Homemade Simple, so when I saw that a new version for children was coming out, I practically begged the publishers to let me review it on here - thankfully they said yes!
Joanna Gosling is probably best known for her work as a newsreader, but this is actually her third book; her first being Simply Wonderwoman.
The subtitle for this new book is stylish, crafty projects to make with and for your kids.  With this in mind, the book is divided into two parts - makes by kids and makes for kids.  Both sections have some excellent ideas, and some old-school ones that you might have forgotten about!
Section 1 starts with an old-school gem.  Remember finger knitting?!  I haven't done that since school but it's here in the book, along with a how-to plus instructions to make finger-knitted flowers and a garland too.  There are also instructions for making pompoms using your fingers which is far quicker than the cardboard circle method!  What then follows are a 'knitting section', a 'sewing section' and a 'things to make section' which include a scarf, a bag, bath bomb eggs, and badges.
There are also some seasonal activities, plus a section of 'things for kids to make for grown ups section' which include button cufflinks and peppermint sugar foot scrub.
Section 2 is the things for kids bit, where the grown-ups can play around (though I want to make most of the stuff in the first bit of the book too)!  There are ideas for creating trundle beds and a simple desk shelf, but there are also dream catchers, cushions, skirts and pyjama bottoms to be made, night lights and memory boxes. 
There really is a whole host of information and inspiration in this book.  The instructions are clear and concise and there are lots of photos which I love - though not of every project sadly.  I'm quite sure this book will be opened a lot over the summer holidays!
G x

Saturday 12 July 2014


I'm having a nice week this week in terms of writing things.  When I did my degree at the end of the 90's I wanted to go into journalism.  I got work experience on two local newspapers which I loved, and then got work experience at Hodder & Stoughton for two weeks.  This led to an extra 6 weeks over the summer hols, and then the offer of a permanent job!!!! As I still had one year of my degree to complete I turned the job down and went back to university.  I naively hoped that there would still be a job the following summer but alas, and alack, there wasn't.  In a moment of madness I decided that I would become a teacher instead - so I did, and still am, sort-of!

Since then I haven't really done any writing.  I got into book reviewing about 7 years ago and have continued to do that ever since, and I think starting my book blog at the end of last year has helped me feel more confident about what I write.

Last month saw my first published article since that time, in Pretty Nostalgic magazine on First World War embroidered postcards.

I've now just written my second article to go into the next issue - hopefully!  And if nothing goes wrong, and I can think of what to write, I've got an article to be included in a different publication in December.

Next week, The Visitors by Rebecca Mascull comes out in paperback and I'm name-checked in there!  I reviewed the book on my other blog and Rebecca contacted me via Twitter to ask if I'd write some book group questions for her, which I did!  Hodder obviously liked them because they are in the paperback edition.  You can grab a copy from Thursday!

G x

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Le tour Yorkshire

This weekend we were fortunate to witness Le Grand Depart 2014 as we journeyed up to Yorkshire to see the Tour de France, or as it has been named this year, Le Tour Yorkshire.  My parents had rented a house for the week so they, my brother and his wife, and the four of us, arrived on Friday ready to witness lots of men rushing by on bikes.

Aysgarth Falls

We decided to view Saturday's race from Aysgarth, after rejecting Buttertub's Pass as our first choice.  I have to say, after seeing how many people were at Buttertubs it was a wise decision.  We found a spot at the top of the hill in Aysgarth (just down the road from the pub (handy) and settled in to wait.  We had two hours before the racers were due past.

Thankfully the sun was out and it wasn't too hot.  The caravan of parade vehicles were great, and the girlies were entertained throughout.  We were also entertained by a man named Stu who was on his stag-do with his friends and they proved to be the most amusing group of lads.

The helicopters began to hover overhead, which could only mean one thing, the break-away group of three was shortly approaching.  The hill proved to be a perfect spot as the cyclists certainly couldn't rush past us, and we got a fantastic view of every rider.  Once they had all gone past we moved on to watch the action on the big screens in Aysgarth before going home for the night.

Despite Sunday's forecast of wet weather, it was even warmer than Saturday, and we decided to go over to Bolton Abbey to watch the action.  It was incredibly busy and we had to nestle in amongst the crowds to get a spot to watch.  This time we were at the bottom of the hill, and no sooner had we taken our stance, than the cyclists came through - at tremendous speed!  I managed to record both days on my phone, and the footage is fantastic.  On Sunday, if you blinked, you missed them all!  (If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you can see my films there).

Then it was time for a quick picnic before heading back home.  The 5 year old only wanted a t-shirt which of course her Gramps dutifully supplied!

G x

Wednesday 2 July 2014

Wool Mortification

Is anyone else mortified by the amount of wool/yarn they have in their collection?

Okay so this is clearly not my wool collection, but you get the picture!

I am.

I sorted it all out the other day, and took it down from the house into Agatha van.  There was lots.  Lots and lots.

Lots from patterns started but not finished.  Lots from patterns bought and never attempted.

I felt quite ashamed of the growing wool collection and also of the amount of unfinished projects that were lying about.

I have begun to tackle this!

The granny shawl which needed the ends sewing in has been completed!

My granny square blanket for Enid caravan has been finished!

My crochet square cushion has been finished!

The Front

The Back

My variegated blanket from Mollie Makes magazine has seen the final square hooked and it is now being sewn together for Enid caravan.

I had told myself that I wouldn't start any more projects until some of the wips had been completed. But last night I was cross. 

I started one of the new projects.  I have not finished the 7 (nearly 8) year old's cardigan or sewn up the rest of my blanket.

I am a bad person!  Oh and I got bored at the weekend so I cut myself a fringe and dyed my hair red!!!

G x