Always Learning

One thing that I am sure about is that the second we stop trying and learning new things is the second we stop growing.

As this is a crafting blog I thought it would be a good time to share with you some of the tutorials and online resources I use to keep me growing.

First we shall start with the mysterious and confusing (for me) Sewing.
My own Nana taught me the basics of sewing when I was a young lady, on her antique Singer Sewing machine.

I loved the lessons we had, but I only really learned how to thread the machine (complete with a shuttle bobbin) and sew a straight line.

So here is where I have turned to expand my knowledge base:
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A great class that is reasonably priced and has given me a bit more confidence in using my much newer sewing machine.

Next,  is the art of Needle Felting.

I have always wanted to be a sculptor, but stone and wood are not my preferred mediums. Then I discovered FeltAlive and I learned I could work with my preferred medium and make lovely soft sculptures.

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The Tutorials are now free to all and that is a great value.

Now I am going to introduce you the learning Library that is Craftsy.

I found it when I was unable to go out to my local yarn shop and attend classes to expand my own skill and it was helpful to learn at my own pace.

The classes I really enjoyed were:
Plug and Play Shawls By Amy Singer

Heirloom Lace Edgings With Franklin Habit

Fearless Knitting by Lucy Neatby

Knit to Flatter With Amy Herzog

So I hope I have armed you with  few places to go and expand your skills and keep learning and growing and exploring your crafty world.

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Under Pressure

When we craft we do so for a myriad of reasons, for a gift, to increase our skills, as a charitable donation. Whatever the reason, each project always comes with a little bit of pressure, whether it is a deadline or the desire to improve, or dare I say it, impress! I have written before about the ‘resident evil’ which was the mini Christmas stockings and the Easter ducks, and have vowed never, ever to repeat those stitching marathons. However, every now and then a project comes along which turns the screw so tight you think you might just crack!

It all started out quite innocently – a post in a WhatsApp group, ‘ would anyone like to knit a sample for the upcoming knitting festivals?’  Always keen to help out a pal, and to be honest, any excuse to have a go with some of Secret Stash’s lovely aran yarn, I said ‘Me please’.  I offered to knit the ‘five day a week cowl’ designed by our own Jaele, and this is where the wheels came off the bus.  Nikki had just completed this project so didn’t really need another one so in  a moment of madness I said, ‘i’ll do Flax’.  Now, let me be clear – there is absolutely nothing in the wide world wrong the Flax – its a great pattern, the issue was with my complete inability to read very clear instructions and follow them.  In recent months it feels like the world and its wife have knit Flax. From all around the table came cries of ‘just finished Flax,’ ‘I’m on my my twentieth Flax’ (possibly a slight exaggeration), ‘Flax is great and soooooooo easy’

So armed with Nikki’s beautiful yarn and my freshly printed copy of the pattern I set to work. The more I tried to concentrate the more of a muddle I got into. I had to knit the yoke four times and even managed to snarl up the plain stocking stitch body – and don’t get me started on the sleeves!

If this had been a project for myself it would have been confined to a corner, under something heavy.  But, it wasn’t for me, it was specifically to show off the yarn and entice people to buy, so I just had to stick with it.  Eventually after many many cups of tea, and occasionally something stronger the jumper was finished. It showed off the yarn to perfection and was lovely and squishy.  If you don’t look too closely under the arm seams it even passes as competent.

Despite the issues, i’m very proud of this wee piece and have vowed to try more new things in the future – even if they are not entirely straightforward.

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There’s quite a hive of activity going on in my house at the minute, and that’s why this post is late!

I’ll set the scene shall I?

Well, its like this. My baby sister (she’ll kill me for calling her that) is now at Uni in Lincoln and, circumstances being as they were, Gibbs was coming to live with us.  But, because we were at work all day, we thought it would be nice to get him a wee brother/cousin (since Gibbs is my nephew and all…..its confusing) to keep him company while we’re out. So….enter Spenser to the family.

 

Meanwhile, I had applied for and been successful in getting a place at this years Loch Ness Knit Fest so I was trying to dye up yarn for that, but its really difficult to do anything when you’ve 2 Westies sitting on you!

Fast forward to yesterday when I realised just how close we are until we head to Inverness, and the small mountain of yarn sitting on my kitchen floor to be dyed! (don’t worry, its clean!)

Queue panic stations! Pots were thrown onto the cooker, big trays were filled and dye powder filled the air –  by the time I stopped last night I had barely made a dent.

This is the fruits of yesterdays labours – some old colourways and some new. All still need labelled and tidied.  There’s another batch of coourways in drying at the minute and the kettle is just coming to the boil for the next lot.

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Of course, while all this madness is going on, two little dogs are demanding my attention, my pizza and most likely my biscuits when I get around to making myself tea!

So, if you want to see just what will be on offer from Secret Stash then check out our etsy shop here. It is continually being updated with all the lovely skeins so check back regularly.

 

Time for tea.

Crafting for Kitties

Recently I came across this book at The Works, and I couldn’t resist buying it. It looked so cute, with lots of little stash-busting projects. It’s called Knits for Kitties and features 25 patterns that you can use in whatever way you see fit. Obviously, it’s marketed towards cat toys, which is fabulous, but some of these patterns are so cute that I can see making them for my kids and their friends, for Woollen Woods crafting, yarn bombing, and other fun little craft projects.

I immediately tried out the spider. It was simple and straightforward and knit up in about an hour.

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The kitties were delighted.

 

Well, as delighted as they can be at their age with something that doesn’t involve heat or sleep.

 

Verdict: Would highly recommend! 🙂

Season of Rainbows

Hello!

Did you have a good season?

As we here in Belfast live in the Northern Hemisphere it was summer for us; but as part of the school break my youngest child went to Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania with their father.
This made me realise in a very tangible way that it wasn’t summer for everyone.

But while we were off for the season, children had exam results, holidays were taken, books were read, skills were learned, and I did a lot of work with my favourite subject: RAINBOWS.

Now my love of the rainbow is vast and deep and as we all remember, and is has so much more to it than just 7 perfectly blended colours.

Oh I could wax on episodically on the qualities of rainbows, but I will save you that. (I hope everyone noticed my Word of the Day entrance into my post, from my rainbow Word of the Day Calendar.)

Back on topic; I took some time this season to highlight my love of rainbows by wearing, working with, and noticing them where ever I went.

My own personal Instagram Feed got the bulk of my work, but because I adore you, our wonderful readers, I am going to give you the cherry picked highlights of my Rainbow season.
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First there is this fantastic Rainbow A-line Jacket made using the pattern Trapezjacke by Claudia Deutscher. A great wee pattern (more like a recipe,) that I flew through.

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Take a look at the buttons! (I had to get a little creative with them as some of my buttons only had one hole in them, so I added some accent apples.) Miss matched buttons for the WIN

The Pattern is wonderful and I think I may make another one with a smaller tail and heartier yarn.
The Paintbox DK is bright and cheerful but I’d like something that I can wear outside on cooler/ windier days.

img_1961Next, as wonderful props for my Chakradance classes I got these lovely rainbow figurines to represent each of the Chakras, and just be rainbow prettiness when not in use.

How about storage, the joys of rainbow storage can NOT be understated. How awesome is my new art case (a rainbow soft sided lunch box), that holds my water colours and ink pens perfectly? Or how about the delightful joy of my embroidery collection displayed to perfection on bobbins? Aren’t they breath taking?

 

Speaking of my water colours and ink pens, I have finally decided what to do with the plethora, (oh two words in one post! I owe myself a sticker!) of “adult” colouring books.
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I don’t like pencil crayons or crayons, but I am falling in love with water soluble inks and water colours, so I thought I would try these out in my colouring books.

Everything blends much more easily and I am learning the mediums in a care free environment, instead of the pressure of making something perfect. I mean really, a child can do this, so it’s ok if I mess up a little.

Now with all this colourful joy, you would think I tapped out of my season of rainbow, but not yet.
I’ve only mentioned 1 knitting project!

As part of my holiday I was going to spend two weeks by a lake in the family cottage, (in summer sunshine.) I knew I was going to be surrounded by children and such so I wanted a simple project that I could stop and start at anytime, but was using up some of my large collection of rainbow variegated yarns.

Enter in the Mini Mania Scarf by Sarah Core, and one skein of Fine Fish’s Gay Mountain, (a now discontinued colour way).

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You can see why I had to use it, BONUS Rainbow Shoe

It took me a while to get the rhythm of the linen stitch, but it works so wonderfully with this type of yarn I am surprised I didn’t discover it before. Look at this Stitch!
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I think that is just about everything from this past season. I hope this post wasn’t too long for you.
But as a reward for getting this far have a bonus:

My kids and Fiance got me the awesomest Unicorn Onsie and Prisim Narwhal, as a thank you for funding all their summertime adventures, and being taxi on two separate continents.

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SnB does Yarnfolk

August is going to be an exciting month for Northern Ireland! This year, we will host the first ever fibre festival in the North. On August 5th, Yarnfolk will be launched in Whitehead, home of Lighthouse Yarns. And SnB will be there!

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At the @BelfastSnB stand we’ll be doing a mini trunk show of our book, Knit 10 Together, celebrating 10 years of community crafting. (I talk about the book here, and Nikki covers our successful book launch here!) We’ll also have samples by our knitters, crocheters and stitchers so you can see what we’ve been up to.

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We’ll have two sessions where we’ll do a trunk show of the samples from the book, and talk about techniques used in the book. Then we’ll do live demos, where you can try out and learn something new.

11am – Crochet technique. We’ll teach you a great crochet technique: Magic Circle. This is a handy way to start crochet projects such as the cute stuffed “Chemistry Set” by Nicky Young, and “Bunneh” by Sharon Clark.

3:15pm – Knitting technique: Learn colourwork skills used in the book for the “Heatwave” hot water bottle cover by Siún Carden, and the “Hearts & Butterflies Cowl” by Jaele Rollins-McColgan. We’ll give you advice about how to make sure your colours pop, and how to handle two colours.

If you’d like to know more about the beading technique used in “A Very Hearty Hat” by Nikki Hagan, check out the beading class with Anja Szepan (who also designed the “Twisted Heart” cabled mitts in the book).

Come along to our cosy corner at the SnB stand at any time to knit and natter, or stitch and b*tch if you prefer! 😉

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WWKIPD, 2017: K10tog! — A Million Paper Stars

We were sitting in Starbucks on a cold Wednesday afternoon, as usual. Nikki said, ‘What are we going to do about our anniversary this year?’ In a group of crafters, we all knew she wasn’t talking about her wedding anniversary. She was talking about the anniversary of the year Belfast Stitch n Bitch was formed. […]

via WWKIPD, 2017: K10tog! — A Million Paper Stars

We’ve got the whole world in our hands

Saturday the 9th June was Worldwide Knitting in Public Day, and in thousands of locations globally crafters were taking up their projects and joining in.

Belfast Stitch and Bitch was no exception. This year our event was in the Dock, an honesty box cafe in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter. We are regulars there and it’s our second home after Starbucks. It was a special year as the group is celebrating its 10th anniversary and the celebratory pattern book was to be distributed and sold.

Nikki was our organiser and as the day got closer we were tempted with images of ballot prizes and promises of lemon drizzle buns. The event was due to start at 12.00, but a number of us were so excited we were beating the door down at 11.00.

After a frantic 20 minutes of moving tables, labelling prizes, setting up the book stand and launching up our brand new pop up we were ready for business.

It was a great day with over 20 crafters and their children ranging from 3 months to 16 years around the table. Crafts ranged from knitting, crochet and embroidery to spinning. The book was admired and purchased and us canny folk who had preordered even got a goodie bag and a badge.  We love a badge!

The buzz around the table was great and before too long, patterns, yarn, stories, Sharon’s magic dip and the lemon buns were being passed around. The unlikely hit of the afternoon was the raffle / ballot / tombola? Nikki had gathered a wide variety of prizes and we all had our eye on something special (number 16 – merino baby kit). With the odds at a one in five chance we were all keen to take part. After a slow start with only a few prizes won we all felt our chances had improved and a veritable frenzy resulted. Speaking personally my children will be living on beans all week due to my determination to win number 16 (which I eventually did). Helen won the coveted ball winder and Ruth got vouchers for no one but two yarn bundles.

Eventually the afternoon drew to a close and old friends and new drifted away and WWKIP day was over for another year. We left tired, but very happy and our minds turing to where our yarn adventures will take us next….

A big weekend

This Saturday is a big weekend for crafters everywhere – its World Wide Knitting in Public Day! While last years WWKIPD was all kinds of funs, this year we thought we’d do something different.

This years event is a double whammy! On one hand, its all about the knitting and crocheting and on the other, its all about Knit 10 Together –  yup, we’re combining WWKIPD and a book launch!

eurpoeThis Saturday we’ll all be heading to The Dock Café for lots of tea and crafting from 12 -5 so even if you can drop in for a few minutes we’d love to meet up with you.

 

 

As for this mysterious book launch, its taken on a life of its own (my fault really, lol)  You can get yourself a copy on the day for the princely sum of £10  Here’s a sneaky peek at the cover . If you’ve preordered your copy then yours will be ready and w18879881_10154737594523727_618194383318686984_oaiting for you 🙂

As well as all this, we’ve put together quite an excellent raffle/tombola type thing – pay your money and pull out  a raffle ticket. If your ticket corresponds to a number on a prize then you win. Simples.

So what have we? Well…. we have yarny and non yarny prizes from the following kind folks:

Parlour Yarns, Dye Candy, Mina Loves Designs, Secret Stash, Mourne Archery Centre, NI Big Sock  and Ewe Momma Knits to name but a few.

I’ll be showcasing the prizes every day this week on facebook so go check out the Event Page!

In My Spare Time…

Ok, so I don’t have a lot of spare time. But when I do have a few hours to kill, I like to sew. I like to quilt, make clothes, design costumes, whip up gifts (toys, baby accessories, notebook covers, etc.), and create bespoke bags. Bags for all kinds of occasions, like nappy bags, shopping totes, book bags, backpacks, and, of course, project bags. I’m obsessed with project bags. Of all sizes and shapes.

Lately, I’ve been making small project bags perfect for those smaller, on-the-go projects. The projects you want to pop in your purse, carry with you on the bus, sneak in a few rows before that meeting starts, and bring to social events where you might be at risk of DOING NOTHING. The horror. Seriously.

Anyway, these bags are great for socks, hats, shawls, mitts, cowls, scarves, baby knits, toys, wristwarmers, leg warmers, and anything else you can think of.

There are bags with cats, and bags with flowers. Bags with prints and bags with patterns. And more bags with cats. You can’t have too many bags with cats.

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Each bag has a handle for easy carrying, a drawstring and toggle closure, and are lined. Some have a little clip to attach notions, your keys, or other small items. These are currently for sale wherever Secret Stash is sold, or you can request a custom jobbie or check out more of my stuff through my Facebook page, A Million Paper Stars.

I’m especially fond of these new ones featuring The Walking Dead. I mean come ON. They’ve got ZOMBIES on them!

So, who wants to knit for the zombie apocalypse with a matching bag featuring said apocalypse?! I think I’ve hit my nerd-vana. ❤

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