Posted on

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

The lovely Mrs Bishop from Mrs Bishop’s Bakes and Banters has nominated me for this award. She’s an absolute sweetheart for doing so – follow the link to see her blog entry.

So the rules are simple – answer Mrs. Bishop’s 10 questions and nominate some women bloggers.

Here it goes…

1. What is your signature bake?
Most definitely my version of Nigella Lawson’s Banana bread. It is the simplest, moistest, bestest banana bread ever which is impossible to ruin. You can dress it up with a topping or leave it in a tin for after school treats for days. I’ve not yet  met anyone who didn’t like it.
2. If you had to choose only one film to watch for the rest of time, and no others, what would you choose?
Erm. Ahh. Ohh. This is a hard one. However, I think it would be City of Angels with Nicholas Cage and Meg Ryan. I blub every time I see it – lots and lots of things I love about it. Close second is When Harry met Sally. Need I say more?
3. What is your favourite home cooked dinner, and why?
Absolutely anything cooked by my hubby as it has a very special ingredient. Love.
4. Do you have a favourite artist or piece of artwork?
I absolutely adore Sylvie Guillem. She is simply the most elegant, most beautifully graceful dancer ever. I could watch her perform for ever.
5. What’s your tipple of choice?
Mulled wine in the winter and Sangria in the summer.
6. Do you collect anything?
Vintage knitting and crochet patterns, yarn and knitty experiences.
7. What are you reading at the moment?
The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco.
8. Do you have a dream job? Or are you lucky enough to already do your dream job?
I dream of a job where I have autonomy and respect, where I enjoy my colleagues’ company and which does not fill me with dread each Sunday evening. This is a far cry from my current job. I am on the hunt.
9. What is your favourite item of clothing in your current wardrobe and why?
I recently bought a white, dove grey, steel grey colour block knitted dress in the fluffiest yarn ever. I realise I look like a hairy potato when I wear it but I don’t care. It makes me smile and keeps me warm and reminds me of the days when I could get away with wearing clingy clothes.
10. Who is your most embarrassing celebrity crush? (Let’s face it girls, we’re never too old for a crush!)
Well I’m old enough to have a hugely long list. I remember my first crush was on Kevin Keegan (just look it up, it’s too embarrassing). Then when I was at Uni I really fancied Timothy Dalton for his piercing blue eyes and Rupert Everett for those beautiful looks. Then there was a brief fling with Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral days only and I really still rather like Jean Reno – well, there is NOTHING wrong with a big nose.
I’m afraid I’m a let-down when it comes to nominations. My time to read others’ blogs is non-existent. However, these lovely ladies have kept with me through thick and thin. So I nominate:
  1. All Night Knits
  2. Lollyknits
  3. Feel Good Knitting

(Thank you ladies!)

Here are my 10 questions:

  1. What’s your biggest WIP failure?
  2. Knit or Crochet?
  3. Do you think knitting/crochet should be taught at school?
  4. Why do you knit/crochet?
  5. What’s your best knit/crochet tip?
  6. What’s your worst chore ever?
  7. What time of day is your favourite?
  8. If you didn’t knit/crochet, what would you do?
  9. One fact about you.
  10. Christmas or Summer Holidays?

Thanks again Mrs. Bishop – don’t giggle too much at my answers!

Posted on

Recycled Yarn – How to Guide


We recycle as  much as we can don’t we? Paper, foil, plastic, glass, left-overs (this goes to the dog). The list keeps on growing day by day. But one thing that you rarely hear of nowadays is recycling yarn. During the war, and in poorer countries for many decades afterwards, recycling yarn was perfectly normal – good quality wool was not and is not cheap. The term “virgin wool” was used to indicate unrecycled yarn.

However in our modern life where nothing seems to last a lifetime anymore (OK, I’m showing my age), we just don’t hear of recycling yarn. Or rather we are sold recycled yarn rather than being encouraged to recycle our own. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with buying recycled yarn – especially if it helps a local community in need. But there is something a little cheeky about a large manufacturer buying up unwanted wool or cotton garments, shredding them, spinning them and selling it back to us at a usually higher than normal price. I’ve not quite worked out why that should be – after all the green credentials are probably rather weak considering the manufacturing process.

Well, I do recycle. As much as I love the feeling of new yarn and seeing a colour combination that is new for me, I recycle a lot. Perhaps it’s a project that I know that will never be finished – be honest, we all have those tucked away in secret corners. Or an item that doesn’t look quite right, has gone out of fashion, is no longer appreciated or countless other similar reasons. Recycle it. If you see a jumper in a charity shop which tickles your fancy but is just a hideous shape, think about buying it for the yarn.

recycled yarn

Here are my tips for recycling

  1. You can recycle any yarn with patience but wool i.e. natural material is the best yarn type to reclaim as it is durable. It doesn’t matter if the original item  has a hole or stain. The only exception to the recycling rule is anything fluffy. Just don’t go there – you are likely to spend an inordinate time trying to unpick the item and even if you manage it, your yarn will look threadbare and sad.
  2. Wash the item appropriately. You will be stunned how much dirt lurks in an old woollen jumper. I recall unpicking a large man’s jumper for the yarn (acquired in the charity shop) and even after washing, I was left with a handful of dirt. Not fluff. Dirt!
  3. Unpick anything that has been sewed on. Tailors have this amazing unpicker that has a little hook you can put under a stitch and when you pull up, it cuts the yarn for you. I have no idea what it’s called but my grandmother’s unpicker is a regularly used item and I’m rather thankful I found it all those years ago.
  4. Save buttons and good quality zips. There is always a need for these things sooner or later.
  5. Start unravelling. Be gentle, don’t tug too hard as you’ll make the knots harder to undo. Being married to a patient fisherman who is used to untangling knots is very handy at times like this. If you don’t happen to have one of those around, treat the knots as a game of patience. Or yoga. It really works.
  6. Cut discoloured or unusable pieces of yarn and discard.
  7. Wind the yarn loosely on to something long e.g. arm to elbow length. When once skein is done, tie the end of the yarn around the skein to keep it secure. Try not to have too big a ball.
  8. Once you’re done, you will have several balls of kinky yarn and you’ll wonder what on earth you’re going to do with your permed wool. Fear not, this is where the magic of wool comes into play again.
  9. In a large bowl of water, gently submerge your skeins until they’re totally wet. Gently squeeze the water out and hang up to dry. The hanging, and gravity, will pull your wool straight. Or at least straighter.

Hope this has inspired you at least a bit to try. Let me know how you get on.

Posted on

Free Crochet eBook … Learn to Crochet Geometric Patterns: 11 Hexagon Crochet Motifs | Petals to PicotsPetals to Picots

Petals to Picots

Fancy learning something new? Try this!

Free Crochet eBook … Learn to Crochet Geometric Patterns: 11 Hexagon Crochet Motifs | Petals to PicotsPetals to Picots.

Posted on

Monster Yarns’ Monster yarns


I wanted to share with you what Monster yarns do with Monster Yarns’ stock whilst no-one is looking. Just to prove that there is so much more you can do with yarn than just knit. This short clip used up one whole wet afternoon during the Half Term!

Thank you to all three of my boys for creating this (and then leaving the wool room in a mess).

Posted on

Birthday Give Away with a French Flavour

Slip-stitch beret on my best girl

It’s Monster Yarns’ First Birthday and I’m having a Give Away to Celebrate!

Monster YarnsI recall my three boys and I all pressing the button a year ago to launch Monster Yarns. Since then Monster and I have come a long way. We’ve rebuilt the website all over again and it’s still in production. We’ve had two Sales, three “stock-room” moves, a dozen or so patterns, 22 knitting groups, one competition, two give aways, 174 blog entries, classes/tutorials spread over the year, 68,758 views, 788 comments and have attracted 914 followers across my Blog, Twitter and Facebook (yes, I do know that there are those who I’m triple-counting but please bear with me. It is my birthday!). And I really couldn’t have done all of this without YOU.

To celebrate my First Birthday, here is another give away. One lucky winner can pick EITHER this slip-stitch Navy and Lilac Beret and Gloves set:

Slip-stitch Beret and Glove set in Merino

OR the pattern to make it and the yarn to go with it in the colours of your choice picked from these ICE Baby Merino in Red, Lilac (used in project), Navy Blue (used in project), Orange, Pink, Spring Green, Dove Grey. The yarn has 40% baby merino content and is soft, light, warm and machine washable on a gentle cycle. You will need two skeins in the main colour and one skein in the contrast colour. The pattern is for knitters who can knit in the round using DPNs or circulars. No special skills needed and the colour work is achieved using slipped stitches not intarsia.

And to enter here is what you have to do. I’d like to ask you to spread the word about Monster Yarns for the next two weeks starting today. Each entrant will get 1 point each time they do so via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest (My Creations board) or Ravelry. You can do this as many times during the fortnight as you like. I’m using Rafflecopter to keep things fair but please include @MonsterYarns in your tweets. I will be counting all new Follows/Likes on the 17th March and announcing the winner then. Please use the link below to enter as many times as you like.

 Rafflecopter giveaway

If you are not the lucky winner, the pattern and the yarn will be available in kits as soon as the Give-Away finishes.

Slip-stitch Gloves

Thank you to you all for taking me to your hearts and spending time with me. I appreciate every comment and email. I look forward to the coming year and all the new yarn I hope to touch and the interesting people to meet.