Book: Learn to Knit, Love to Knit

Jacket

I’ve had this book for quite a while – over a year I think. I was planning to write a review of it and post my first make from it in the same week, but I cast on a jumper in January (in black wool with gold sparkles, it’s amazing!) and it is nowhere near completion, so I thought I’d review the book anyway. And hopefully I’ll get my jumper finished for when it gets really cold!

Learn To Knit, Love To Knit, is a great book – I was drawn to it because there are several patterns in it that I like and will hopefully make one day. It’s written by Anna Wilkinson:

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I love her jumper in this photo, but sadly it’s not one of the ones in the book!

She goes through everything you need to know if you’re a beginner knitter, like what tools you’ll need,

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how to cast on,

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how to knit and purl,

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and how to cast off!

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There are some other techniques in the book and she outlines how to do common stitches, like moss stitch.

Now to the patterns! I quite like these wrist warmers (which feature on the cover), though if I’m brutally honest, I’m not sure if I would really wear them. But I do like to roll up my sleeves, then my wrists get cold (especially when working on a computer), so maybe these are actually just the thing!

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I like these bobble hats – they’re knitted on quite big needles (10mm) so I bet they knit up really quickly!

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This is the jumper I am currently knitting – I’ve realised that I like simple knits, even though I am also drawn to patterns with lacey bits and cabling and stuff, they’re not really my style.

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Speaking of cabling, though, these cardigans are quite cute!

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I weirdly also really like this lace top – the wool used looks like the softest thing in the world, and I would imagine you don’t need loads of it so could probably use something nice and expensive.

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I love, love, love this stripey jumper – it would be a great stash buster! I definitely have plans for one of these. I like the one with blue sleeves especially, but the colours used in both definitely work – how do people do that? I wouldn’t know where to start with picking complimentary colours!

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This American-style cardigan that looks like a jacket is also cute – and I love the way they photos are styled.

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I think what drew me to this book, aside from the great patterns, was the way the photos have been styled – it makes knitting your own clothes look stylish and not just something your granny would do! Do you have this book? Have you made anything from it? Or do you have suggestions of other great knitting books? Now the weather is getting colder, I feel like my knitting will take off again.

Book: ReCraft

Have you ever heard of Buttonbag? They make craft kits for children. They’re stocked in John Lewis, and probably a lot of other shops, so you might have seen them around.

On their website they say:

“Buttonbag is a young innovative company breathing new life into old crafts by updating them in a fresh, contemporary way….

Our lovely craft kits are designed and made in the UK using a range of beautiful fabrics, wools and trimmings. We endeavour to source everything as close to home as possible and the vast majority of our kit components, including all our packaging, comes from the UK.

Importantly, each craft kit contains everything needed to make the finished item. Sewing kits have needles, sticking kits have glue and toys that need stuffing have stuffing.”

They have also written a book! Actually 2 books (BoyCraft has just come out and aims to get boys into making things!), but the one I’m going to talk about is called ReCraft. A friend of mine bought it for either my birthday or Christmas (I can’t remember, I’m getting old!) a few years ago and I looked through the whole book immediately and straight away had loads of ideas of things to make and re-make.

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There’s some really great ideas for making toys out of old jumpers – I especially like these whales! As anyone who has known me for a while will know, I have a bit of a thing about whales! ReCraft-3There are great instructions for each project, with clear illustrations, which I think make it quite child-friendly. Also beginner friendly!

ReCraft-4There are some great ideas of things to make out of old shirts, if you happen to have any lying around. Or their super easy to pick up at charity shops.

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and cushion covers
ReCraft-6There are also some non-sewing makes in the book, like these scrabble magnets or lego clock (an alternative to a vinyl record clock, perhaps a good present for a boy?).

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There are several things in the home section that I definitely want to make – I’ll get around to it one day! There’s a vinyl record clock in there, like the one I made. I love the dachshund draft excluder, which is made from an old pair of men’s trousers.
ReCraft-9I also think the little owl door stops are really sweet! They’re made from an old jacket.

ReCraft-10Another make made from an old jacket is this cute little bag

ReCraft-8Having read recently on Portia’s makery blog ideas for t shirt yarn, I feel more enthusiastic than every about giving t shirt yarn knitting a go – ReCraft has a very simple idea to make a rug, which I think would be good for a first experiment, but then the world is your oyster – depending on how easily you can get hold of old t shirts!

ReCraft-11 Do you ever find that even if you don’t manage to make any projects from a particular book, you still find them inspiring? I definitely do! I think also it means I have a list of possible projects in my brain when searching charity shops for bargains! Have you used any Buttonbag kits? I’m thinking they would be good presents for the kids in my life when they’re old enough!

My Favourite Scarf!

When I first got back into knitting a few years ago, I made several scarfs for people for presents (and a hat for one) but I realised I hadn’t made myself one since before I went to uni (which is now *cough* 10 years ago). I stopped wearing that scarf a long time ago as it was in a pale, baby shade of blue which I used to wear all the time but now don’t really like. It was made with spider stitch (I think it’s called), which is really loopy so it knitted up really quick!

This new scarf was also fairly quick, but it took me most of my Christmas holiday (yes, I’m a bit late posting it) and most of January here and there to finish. I’ve got out of the habit of knitting in my free time but I really wanted this scarf finished so I could wear it right away and it’s amazing how much time you can find when that’s the case!

I made up the design as I went along, but based it on this one I saw in Accessorize:

Deborah Autumn Stripe Snood Accessorize
Deborah Autumn Striped Snood, Accessorize

The only new wools I bought were the mustard yellow (which seems to be my new favourite colour), the wine colour and a nice ball of navy blue. I already had all the other colours in my (ever growing) stash.

Did I mention I love my scarf? And I’ve worn it every day that it’s been cold enough to!

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I knitted the scarf/ snood (though my mum tells me it’s not technically a snood) on circular needles in size 5. I joined it into a loop on the needles and cast on 240 stitches as I figured that number could be divided by loads of different numbers (2,3,4,5,6,8,10 etc) depending on the patterns I decided to do. I knitted each end in rib of 3 knits, 3 purls in navy blue (like the inspiration scarf) and then made it up in between.

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I did all sorts of different patterns with the different coloured wool, including diamonds, triangles, diagonal lines and plain old stripes. It’s kind of like a sampler!

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I’m quite proud of the inside. My friend Fran taught me the technique to twist the different strands together on the back to make it more secure and to make it neater on the inside when doing colour work (I think that’s what it’s called rather than intarsia or something). It was a bit of a pain in the arse but totally worth it, otherwise the inside would have looked terrible and I would have snagged and pulled it so many times if there were big loops of wool everywhere!

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I generally wear it wrapped around twice, for extra warmth but this is how long it is not wrapped around twice!

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Did I mention this is a very snuggly, warm scarf? And I love it!

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What I got for Christmas…

My Christmas presents this year mainly had 2 themes: tea and sewing. You can’t say my family and friends don’t know me! I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while….well since Christmas! But I’m glad I waited because my uni friends and I had our ‘Christmas 2’ last weekend and I was really lucky to get some sewing presents from my friend. We did Secret Santa this year, buying for 2 people each, because as people have paired off, the group has grown to 10 people and that’s a lot of presents to buy! Me and my 2 girlies meet up more often than the whole group does and we all discussed who we were buying for when we met in December but I didn’t notice that Farn only told us one of her people – because the other one was me!

I got these 2 books:

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They’re really good books and cover a lot of techniques. The sewing one covers loads of things like drafting and sewing pockets, collars, how to sew pleats and everything else you could possibly think of. The crochet one is also great and will hopefully help develop my crocheting skills – and help me not forget what I had already learned! It will also go well with a book one of my other friends bought me for my birthday:

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For the Secret Santa I also got this amazing box of threads and bobbins:

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Another of my presents, from my mum’s best friend was some lovely fabric:

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I’m hoping there is enough of the blue to make a dress – probably an Emery, if I ever finish my first one! Here’s a close-up – it has lovely little yellow flowers on.

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And I think there will be enough of the cream flowery one to make a blouse, possibly a Colette Violet.

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My sister got me some really sweet retro dressmaking and knitting cards, which show you all the techniques you could possibly think of, like sewing for special occasions, setting in sleeves, knitting aran and cable knitting, and everything else. So between the cards and the books I don’t have an excuse for getting any technique wrong!

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Possibly the pièce de résistance of my crafty presents came from The Boyfriend’s mum. I got a lovely vintage-style flour shaker and inside were some little packages. I first opened this:

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And I thought ‘ooh, lovely, some thread. That will match the fabric I’ve just been given.’ Then I opened this:

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And I thought ‘oh, good, needles are always useful.’ And then I opened a present that contained these:

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They’re personalised labels saying I’ve made things!!!! It was so great that I happened to open them last! I’d been thinking for ages that I should get some labels to sew in my me-made clothes and now I have some! I’ve been slack and haven’t sewn any in yet, but I do intend to sew one of these in each of the things I’ve made so far 🙂

Book: A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book

If you haven’t already discovered the blog A Beautiful Mess, you should check it out now. It’s written by 2 sisters and has posts on crafts, fashion, interior design and recipes. And it looks great – it’s part of the reason I’ve been trying to improve the look of my blog, all-be-it very slowly!

The other thing about A Beautiful Mess, is they love photography and have written a book of tips for taking good photographs: A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book. It’s already out in American but doesn’t come out until November in the UK, so I ordered a copy of it from American because I didn’t want to wait!

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As you could hopefully tell from the photos in my previous post, on my first Grainline Studio Scout Tee, I’ve been trying out some of their tips. Some of them are so simple, I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of them before! I’ve been trying to find good places to take the photos of the clothes I make, and I had never thought of sticking some fabric to the wall to make the backdrop more interesting! I’m still going to try to hunt around my neighbourhood for good walls/ fences/ doors but for now, and while it’s too cold to go outside anyway, I can take pictures indoors that don’t all have to have a boring white wall behind them!

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I also think I’ll give the paper backdrop a try when photographing food.

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I really like this blackboard paint backdrop idea, it looks really good – especially with these particular cakes!

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I also tried some of their tips on photographing a collection. I spent ages trying to take a good picture of some of my wool, but I think it’s quite difficult to photograph wool! Maybe I need more practice….

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There are loads more technical tips (like focusing on something unexpected or how to use filters and lighting) and artistic tips (like how to style people and use colours) and a section in the back about what to use your printed photos for. I’m going to carry on practicing and hopefully my pictures will improve! You can check out the blog for loads more photography tips too.