Friday, 31 October 2014

Crochet Zebra - Edwards Menagerie

I'm loving the WipCrackAway group on Ravelry, I'm getting all of my WIP's done eventually!

On a recent trip to the library visited the Library I spotted Edwards Menagerie. This surprised me as its a fairly new book and I know that these can sometimes take a while to filter through to the libraries. I first spotted the book on some blogs that I VISIT (I can't remember which ones) and instantly was drawn to its quirky designs and gorgeous animals. I took the book on loan from the library knowing that I wanted to make 'Alice Zebra' for my baby niece. Baby S does appear to popping up in my blog over the last couple of weeks. 

I started the Zebra at the end of August and it soon became a part of the WIP basket, its incredibly hard to work with black yarn in un natural light! The books loan period expired before I got to finish the zebra, excellent excuse to purchase my very own copy. I bought my copy from Amazon UK and it was a reasonable price too. 

Eventually I finished the zebra on Sunday (26th October 2014) the day before my adorable niece came to stay for a few days from Scotland. She is only 5 weeks old, I had forgotten how very small babies are, so the zebra although quite small in my hands looks rather large next to baby S. 

                                 

As for the book, I think the fact I ordered my own copy tells you that I love it. The book is exceptionally well designed with all the animals made up of variations of standard patterns which are set out at the start of the book, each animal obviously has variations on these standard parts. Three levels of animals to make meaning that there is something for all abilities in crochet. There is also a choice of 4 sizes to make, depending on the weight of yarn and hook size used. I used DK yarn. If I had been motivated enough and the light in my house been better then I could have had the little zebra finished in a weekend easy. If you love crochet animals then I certainly would recommend this book, I will certainly make more of the cute little animals from it. 

I used Patons DK Smoothie yarn in Black and White and a 4mm hook. I had so much yarn left from each ball I think that I could make another 1 or 2 zebra's so you could use ball ends if you don't want to buy yarn for it. (full details on my Ravelry page)

Today is Halloween and until we moved to the village it was never a big thing, however in the little court we live all the houses get decorated, the children get dressed up and go trick or treating. Little lady has asked if she can have a Halloween tea party so she has her two best friends coming over at tea time and they are going to decorate some cake pops (Halloween ones obviously) before they go trick or treating. I have to get the house decorated up. I'm sure pictures will appear over on my Instagram feed if you follow me.




Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Susan Crawford - Little Angel and Outliers

Knitting & reading kinda go hand in hand don't you think? although not at the same time for me as I'm not that good a knitter.

This week Is half term here and I have the week off work, while little lady is occupied playing with her friends outside or doing some crafts I have been able to do some knitting or reading. It is unseasonably warm outside for October, which means I'm managing to get the washing out on the line and little lady is able to play out without the restraints of hats, gloves and scarves.

I am not normally afforded that much knitting time so it is lovely to get a nice cuppa and get settled in the chair and just knit away with no worries about the time.

                                         

I am, amongst other projects, knitting a Susan Crawford pattern called 'Little Angel' in 6-9 months size. In a lovely shade or red (Colour chosen by my nieces mummy). I am using Stylecraft 4 ply as it has a lovely finish and is machine washable (very important when knitting for a baby).  Normally progress on such things are very slow however because I am off work I am able to crack on with it as well as any other WIP's I have. My niece is only 5 weeks old and I am knitting this delightful little jumper as a little Christmas gift for her.

So far the pattern is straightforward but I have never knitted anything like this before, I can see that it will get more complicated when I get to the yoke. I bought this pattern at Yarndale 2014 with the intention of knitting it as a gift for my Niece, so pleased that I am eventually knitting it.

Reading, yes I did mention reading didn't I? well this month I have read a couple of fiction books already so this week while I don't have the pressures of work I decided to read a non fiction book, inspired by a curious handmade's Helen who mentioned this book on her podcast a while back I have been reading 'Outliers' by Malcolm Gladwell. As someone who always strives to improve i have found (what little I have read) this book to be thought provoking and inspiring.

what are you knitting and reading? 

Today I am linking in with Yarn A Long,  You can follow my blog on Bloglovin to keep up to date.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Slow Cooked Chicken Casserole

Winter is almost upon us and I am craving hearty warm winter food. Our slow cooker becomes the most used piece of equipment when Winter arrives, its so convenient and easy. Prepare the food in the morning and by the time you are home in the evening there is a lovely warm dinner waiting for you.

So I thought I would share our slow cooked chicken casserole with you, I have provided a list of the ingredients below but this can often change depending on what is available from the veg patch or what we have in the fridge so don't be afraid to experiment.

Slow Cooked Chicken Casserole



Ingredients

6 x Chicken Thighs
4 x Carrots (medium or large carrots)
4 x Large Potatoes
2 x Courgettes
3 x Cloves of garlic
1 Red Onion
1/2 cup Dark Soy Sauce
1/2 cup of water
2 tbsp tomato puree
can of chopped Tomatoes

Season with Pepper (I don't add salt as the soy sauce replaces the salt, adding more salt is a little to much for my taste).

Simply chop everything up (I usually chop all the veg up quite chuncky so it doesnt get to soft) and put it all in the slow cooker give it a good mix and put on a medium heat for 8 hours.

Finally serve and enjoy, perhaps a lovely crusty roll alongside will complete the meal but I love it all on its own. 

If you are doing slimming world then this is free on Extra Easy and Red days which is a bonus. 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

A Great Knitting Group & Wip Crack Away

This weekend (just passed) was the monthly knitting group meet up which is known as the 'Social Knitwork'. It was only the second meeting but still was great to meet up with new people, hopefully over the coming months more new people will join us. I have spoken before about Social Knitwork which is held in the local tearoom, now I LOVE Axholme Licensed Tearoom for several reasons, the first being the two owners are simply lovely and I really don't know how they fit everything in with a new born baby who is often at the tearoom for the customers to swoon over. second is that Jules the owner makes the most amazing cakes. Jules was aware of my current challenge, So she made a totally lush Sugar free Marmalade cake (follow the link to get the receipt Jules so kindly shared) , it was so nice I brought some home with me as well (Thanks Jules),and finally Mike (Jules partner in crime) makes/brews (I'm not sure on the technical term) the beer that they sell in their very own micro brewery. mmmmmm Axholme Beer. Great Tearoom right? Towards the end of the group Mr.M came along with little lady to have a swift pint and piece of cake and little lady brought her knitting along to join in with the rest of the group, It makes my heart leap with joy seeing my gorgeous little lady sitting with everyone knitting along. Such a proud mummy I am.

Little Lady with her Knitting

So any way as usual I have completely gone of track there, I have a few WIP's on the go all part of the WipCrackAway KAL over at Ravelry so, even though I am itching to start several new projects I took one of my WIP's. I chose the crochet zebra that I am working on for my beautiful Niece. I really need to get a move on with this as she is coming to visit all the way from Dundee next week. So while I was at the Social Knitwork I managed to complete the head, make two ears and make the tale. All body parts complete I started work on the mane which was a little trickier than it looked but fingers crossed I will get there and she will be finished just in time!

The Best Knitting group Ever!

Another long term project I have which I am working on as part of the WipCrackAway is my first every knitting project, knitted squares (that's where we all start right? or a scarf?) these have bee a royal pain in the derrière. I have slowly been blocking the squares and pressing them over the last couple of weeks. Once done they have been put in a little pile until all the others sorted. Now they are all done, I have decided the lay out which took ages to do. I wanted it to be a bigger blanket than it is but the yarn is now discontinued and I have been unable to find any of my colour ways available so settled on a smaller blanket. I have now started the process of sewing the squares together. I will write more about the history of the blanket when it is actually fished off. For now I am learning a new skill which is sewing together knitted squares!

Not the Best Picture.
Lay out decided.
I feel a few Finished Objects (FO's) coming up soon! whoop whoop.

Click to follow



Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Not Knitting Socks

You may recall some months back now that I was knitting socks. The concept of DPN's being new to me (looking enviously at MRS. ID as she knits away) I thought they would be complicated but actually they were very easy. I sorted the cuffs out easily and after a little request from help I got through the heel turn but then it came to the Gusset section, well this baffled me and I just couldn't work out the instructions. Mrs. ID very kindly cast her eyes over my socks and the pattern and she couldn't work it out either. There was the suggestion of doing a bodge job, which I was reluctant to do. I did have a second sock to knit & I was pretty sure second sock syndrome would set in.

The offending article
I was feeling very despondent about the whole thing really and much to Mrs. ID's shock in a fit of rage I ripped the whole thing back until there was no sock! The very next day I was a little upset with my rash (as was Mr. M as the socks would have been his) decision to rip them back but ultimately I needed to do it and find an easier pattern for me to begin with. I'm not saying the pattern wasn't easy just not written very well which for a Rowan pattern I was a little disappointed with. So you see, I,m not knitting socks, not anymore.

So can you imagine my delight when the class lists were released for Edinburgh yarn festival and there was a sock class and even better the tutor is no other than Clare Devine. I have to say I have followed Clares work on Ravelry and twitter and of late have come to admire her work. I had a quick chat with Claire at Yarndale and expressed my excitement about the class. Clare did seem some what excited to be hosting the class too. I really cant wait because I sooooooo want to knit socks and I know that I just need a little guidance to push me in the right direction.

So for now I shall look on enviously at those of you that knit socks and continue my mission to learn & Mr. M will have to wait a little longer for the knitted socks. Plus its not like I don't have lots of other things in the project basket to be getting on with!

Today I am linking in with Ginny's Yarn Along.



Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Autumn & Crochet Blankets

Autumn is most certainly here, as I type the wind is whipping around the house and I can hear the rain pattering on the conservatory roof. The little tree in the front garden has decided to shed its beautiful golden yellow and orange leaves onto the front lawn and the nights a drawing in. The weather has certainly turned colder now.

So with autumn weather comes the urge to make blankets. Earlier this year in spring I started to crochet the wooleater blanket, but it was hibernated as soon as the warmer weather made an appearance. I bought a load of stylecraft Special DK sometime ago to make a friend a ripple blanket and once it was finished and posted to my friend I realised I had quite a bit of yarn left and as I really struggled to part with the ripple blanket I thought I would use the left over yarn for a blanket to stay at Little house in the Corner. I had queued the wooleater blanket sometime ago so of I went.

I didnt like the ridge that the pattern created by crocheting around the previous round post so rather than crocheting around I crocheted into the top creating a flatter finish (just my preference). I agreed with myself that no new yarn would be purchased for this project and I would only use what was in the basket. So I worked on the blanket for a couple of weeks before the warmer (oh no way can I crochet a blanket) weather set in and it was put in a basket and hidden away on the shelf.

Then come along the WipCrackAway group on Ravelry hosted by the lovely Knit British & Yarns from the Plain the Idea is you only work on your WIP's to get them all done and the motivation of the group helps you through. It runs until the 15th November.  'I don't have that many wip's' I think I can be quoted as saying but well when I started to look into it I had blooming loads that I had hidden away and forgotten about the first being my wooleater blanket, so I immediately took it down off the shelf and set to completing it.





The completed blanket is just a lap blanket really but it is snug, and its lovely crocheting yourself into a warm cocoon. I was actually sad to finish it because it is so snuggly and warm. I decided not to edge the blanket as the scalloped edge is pretty. 


I still have plenty of yarn left, just not enough to do any more rounds, so I will make up some little granny squares in the hope of making up another big bed blanket out of scraps of DK. A lovely multi coloured blanket like the one I made little lady a few years back. 

I do love a crochet blanket! Autumn has to be a knitters/crocheters time of year right? so much wooly inspiration out there. 

Monday, 13 October 2014

Kicking the Sugar Habit - Challenge 1

I wrote about my Addiction a few weeks back, and so far I have not done anything about it, I thank you lovely people for both your comments on my blog post itself and also the private emails that some of you lovely lot sent to me. It made me feel less isolated that people understood and even shared your experience and advice.

The reason I have not done anything about it, mostly, is procrastination I guess, I have assessed the situation, tried to understand why I turn to sugar so much but really to no avail other than I am weak. 

I read in a book recently 'How I changed my Life in 12 months' in which the author points out that it takes 21 day to break a habit, I knew this somehow, I must have read it somewhere before and tasked myself with breaking my habits. once I hit a stumbling block I struggle to get back on track and I think that is where the problem is. I tell myself  'what is the point? I may as well go back to how it was' I tell myself 'I can't do this' I make up so many excuses. I need that chocolate because I have had a bad day, I am tired I need the energy or I so deserve a treat I've worked hard. THIS NEEDS TO STOP!

So, here it is, friends and family, I ask of you please do not offer me a biscuit, please do not offer me sweets or chocolates for the next 21 days! I will free myself of the binds I have with the white stuff, one day at a time, if I stumble I will pick myself up and most importantly I do NOT need it. 

My October challenge is to kick the Sugar habit, and although I want to enjoy baking cakes and eating the occasional chocolate bar, that's what it needs to be occasional, it is not to be apart of my everyday life and instead I need to embrace healthier eating habits and avoid the temptation of the work biscuit tin.

So wish me luck and here we go. Any tips for avoiding sugar and tame the cravings I know I will have will be much appreciated. I will keep you posted on my progress. 

Day one  starts 8th October 2014! So far it has gone well with one day of for mrs. ID's graduatio party where I may have had a couple of little treats, but the very next day I picked myself up again. Ive resisted the biscuits at work and even turned down chocolate cake:).

I can do this! 

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Hardcastle Crags

Anyone that knows me knows that I am not very outdoorsy really, especially now that autumn has set in (although you wouldn't know it today). You are more likely to find me sat in the corner with a good book or my knitting and a cuppa tea staying warm.

Today however we took a drive over to Hebden Bridge and a lovely place called Hardcastle Crags. We simply don't spend enough time together as a family and spend far to much time in doors. I am pleased we did head out today, the weather was gorgeous today and it was such a beautiful place (I did however take my crochet with me to keep me occupied in the car).

once we got parked we walked the mile to Gibson Mill where there was a cafe and we had a light lunch before setting off on one of the national trust walks around the site.

Gibson Mill first opened as a cotton mill in the 1800's, restored by the national trust, it was opened to visitors in 2005. The mill is now a great example of how sustainable energy can be used. We certainly hope to visit again as we had such a fun day.

Walking boots on and here we go…


With my knee still not fully repaired we took a steady walk around the stunning site & lil lady just loved being outside and exploring the woods.

There was a beautiful little waterfall


I love waterfalls, I find them quite captivating, the sound of water trickling down to the river is simply amazing.

We had a little look around for signs of fairy's in the woods, looking for their homes. Obviously during the day when people are around they stay hidden but we did find potential fairy houses…

Do you see any Faries?





















There was so much beauty to be seen, lots of colour as the leaves change ready to fall to the ground, so many pretty little bridges to cross and lots of stairs to climb. With the weather being so beautiful there was lots of people around but because there are so many routes we rarely saw anyone and when we did they were so friendly. There was lots of people walking their dogs (one little dog with a stick in its mouth more than three times the size of himself). Lots of children exploring the woods and having their own little adventures and making memories that will last forever.












Lil Lady's favourite part was the stepping stones over the river, she had to go over them a few times, at first very slowly as she was unsure but she did get a little more confident…


all in all we had a great family day, the sun shone on us and we enjoyed the 5 1/2 miles we walked although my knee did start to hurt towards the end, I was pleased to be back at the car to give my feet (and knee) a rest and have a flask of tea.

I shall leave you with my favourite picture I took today...

Looking to the sky through the tall trees.
I really must make more of an effort to be outdoorsy!


Friday, 3 October 2014

A Year in Books

The urge to read has really taken hold recently since my friend at work gave me a gentle reminder about books which was reinforced by Mrs ID. I had forgotten the great pleasure that immersing yourself into a book brings. Even more so now that autumn has taken hold and I can snuggle under a warm crochet blanket in the rocking chair with my kindle!

A cosy chair, my crochet blanket in the making
& a good book.
In September I read Broken Homes by Ben Aaronvitch. The forth book in the Peter Grant series I feel that Aaronvitch has settled into a great style. I did enjoy this book but found it kind 'plodded' and was slow to get started with very little action happening until around the last 5/6 chapters with previous chapters concentrated on character development and fully expanding the supernatural world. The books are well thought out and bridges the supernatural world and every day London together very well. I love peters sarcastic humour which often lightens the mood in places.

If a book doesn't really grab my attention from the start I will usually abandon it to the never to read again shelf (virtual shelf since I read on a kindle most of the time) however having read the previous books I knew what to expect and Aaronvitch didn't let me down, when the story was in full swing I found it gripping. I am not the fastest of readers most of the time but I did finish the book in around a week in the end with the last 6 chapters completed in 24 hours fitted around a working day (reading in my lunch break and after dinner). I found that with 2 chapters left there was no way I was going to sleep so I finished it before bed (It made for a later night than usual).

Luckily for Me Foxglove Summer (Book 5) is out in the next couple of months as Aaronvitch has left the book with a shocker of cliff hangers (honestly I really didn't see that one coming) which made up for the pacing issues in the book. I can't wait to read the next book.

My October read will be Ocean at the end of the Road by Neil Gaiman (the author of stardust) Originally written as a short story it ended up being a short novel. I am starting with smaller books to get me back into reading, plus I also have lots of knitting to be on with in an evening too. This is the first Neil Gaiman book I have read and I am really looking forward to it. I do have a couple of other potential reads should I motor through this book!


Now, I mostly read on my Kindle, but I do love a books and book shops too. I find book shops such inspiring places to be. I know that most people are either for or against a kindle where as me, I don't mind. I like the convenience of the kindle as it fits in my bag easily, the animosity it gives me as people do not judge me based on the book cover, the fact that no matter what the size of the book my kindle is always the same size, but most importantly it doesn't hurt when I start to fall asleep and drop it on my face! That said I do like the feel and the smell of real books as well. what are your thoughts? Do you prefer and e-reader or a book?

A Year in books is hosted by Laura over at A Circle of Pine Cones.