The Taco and Spinning Party

I had a birthday not too long ago, and because as any good crafter knows, a celebration isn’t a celebration without a healthy dose of crafting involved, I hosted one of my infamous Knitting Parties.

Tacos was the elected food theme for the day, so I fired up my slow cooker and made the very simple and very lovely Stupid Easy Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken , diced some taco veg, heated some taco shells; made my Dill Salsa, and because I can’t have a Knitting Party without my Greek Dip, (though I make my own seasoning as the prepackaged one in this recipe doesn’t exist in the UK.) I made some of that as well.

My youngest son choose the cheeses for the, again required, cheese board, and then prepped the tea pot for guests to arrive.

People arrived with yarn, and projects a plenty, but what had happened organically was everyone who had a spinning wheel brought theirs as well! (People also brought awesome cakes and pavlovas as well! BONUS!)

So we set up in the biggest open space we had (in front of the food) and had a mini spinning party.

The more experienced Spinners held us baby Spinner’s by the hand as we learned to treadle, to draft, and relax our grips.

We got to try different wheels to see which style suited each of us better, (and I am now lusting after a double treadle conversion kit for my wheel), and witnessed how fantastic one of our members is for learning to spin on her warped antique double drive.

The event went down quite well as everyone at lots of food, drank much tea, and had a good gossip.

The day was a great success and I have even plyed our singles into a rather fetching bit of yarn.

Today I wrestled an octopus

Well, not quite, but that’s what it feels like.

A few weeks ago I went to visit my friend in Munich (as I have told everybody who wants to listen and quite a few who don’t).  Being a good friend she had organised a tour of local yarn emporia.  In one shop I spied a large cone of the jersey material used for making baskets and similar.  I had previously fondled this ‘yarn’ in the Glen Gallery and said that when I lost two stone I would buy one as a reward.  Well pants to that, at the rate I am shedding pounds the yarn would have decomposed before I even got to buy it.

So having given up the straight path and narrow gate I grabbed a beguiling blue cone of the yarn and took it to the till.  I then realised I needed a hook, so I entered into a lengthy pantomime of waving and shouting at the poor shop assistant.  My German accent would not have been out of place in an episode of ‘Allo Allo’. Eventually the shopkeeper correctly interpreted my dance macabre and solemnly handed me a size 12 hook.

I carried my prizes back to Ireland where, like many previous skeins it sat on the shelf for a number of weeks until last night.  I had visions of rapidly whipping up a few baskets to house mother’s day presents.  Humph! The combination of the comedy size hook and the very bouncy yarn meant I got myself into a terrible muddle. Instead of a tasteful artisan receptacle waiting to be filled with goodies, I am in possession of a shambolic blue net which would not be out of place on a trawler catching the now endangered hake.

However, I will not be giving up, otherwise I will have to lose that two stone in order to buy the next skein I have my eye on!

 

 

 

It’s all a little bit crazy

Is it just me, or has everyone and everything gone a little bit crazy this year?

I know its only the start of March, but I’m sitting here thinking about the things the knitters are doing this year….and the things we’ve done in the past. It seems that we can’t sit for 10 minutes without thinking of a new adventure to embark on.

Take me for example. Last year I knitted a lace shawl. I don’t knit lace. I don’t knit shawls. Yet I somehow managed to combine the two last year for a wedding….then left it languishing in the back of the car because it needs tweaked.20160812_091855_LLS.jpg

And now this year, I’ve been to a crochet class! I actually think I did ok, just need to remember that corners exist in the world of crochet and they’re important so the square doesn’t become a circle!

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See! Things I wouldn’t normally do, I’m doing them!  Don’t tell anyone, but I quite liked the crochet (except for the pesky corners) and reckon I could manage a cushion cover or something.

So, besides crossing over to the dark side of the craft, we’re in the process of planning activities to celebrate our 10th birthday in April.  So far we’ve a group heading to Newcastle for some archery, we’re organising a wee retreat and a Dublin day – all the things knitters love.

Knitters also love yarn….and this weekend a whole bunch are heading off to Edinburgh to spend a ton of money on beautiful yarns, accessories and drop spindles. Those of us left behind will just have to cry into our stash…..or buy a new one.

On Saturday I will down at the Odyssey/SSE Airticity Arena for the Dock Market. I will have lots of pretty hand dyed yarn with me, and there will also be pretty project bags – treat yourself!!!!

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Because I Like A Challenge…

When my good friend Julie told me that her sister was expecting twins after a long and difficult battle with IVF, I was ecstatic for her. Ecstatic for Julie to become an auntie, and over the moon for her sister. So naturally, I designated myself Chief Knitter for the babies.

Well that was several months ago. I had a plan, I really did. I had a timetabled, detailed scheduled plan. I knew what projects to knit, which yarn to use, I even had them dug out of my stash and awaiting cast on. So I don’t really have any excuse for why I let the days slide by without really even realising. Oh sure, you could say I had a lot on my plate, with three kids of my own, starting nursing school, finishing a book, and organising a few projects for our Belfast SnB group, along with my volunteering commitments and arty farty stuff like exhibitions to help out with, submit work to and commissions to stitch. But really, there’s no excuse. I’m just plain disorganised. So to say I was a little shocked when I found out the babies are due to be born in hospital THIS WEDNESDAY is an understatement.

So that is why we find ourselves – well, me anyway – frantically knitting the final cuff on a baby sweater at 10.30pm on a Monday while my youngest dozes next to me on the sofa. I’ve chosen the pattern Vertebrae by Kelly van Niekirk, and I’ll pair the sweater with a hat of my own design. And because there are twins, I’ll need duplicates of both.

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I’ve chosen Drops Baby Merino in navy and lime for the boy, and navy and pale pink for the girl. So they’ll be coordinating rather than identical sweaters. (This is partly for my own sanity, and partly because I believe twins should always be allowed a little of their own identities to blossom individually, out from under the vague designation of ‘the twins’. But I digress.)

I’ve been carrying this project with me all last week, and I hope to finish the first cardigan tonight. I even knit a few rows on my walk home.

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So if you see someone walking at a clip (probably late to my next class) whilst knitting busily and trying to remain tangle-free from my working yarn (which will likely be spilling out of my bag), you’ll know why. And hopefully the next time I update, it’ll be to show off my gorgeous knitting being worn by two beautiful and very loved little babies.

Planning my crafting

Everyone is talking about cast on mania, and I am here looking at my current works in progress and wishing I had the needles spare for some casting on.

Wishing I also was able to create as fast as I think. (Making a pullover for a plus sized body in sock weight yarn is NOT a speedy knit.)

So to tide myself over I have made a very strict queue of what I am allowed to cast on and when.

See, I wasn’t kidding about the amount of WIPs I have on the go. I have 4 crocheted blankets on the go, two jumpers (sweaters to you North Americans), two pair of sock, several shawls or scarves, one hat, a quilt, and three embroidery hoops on the go.
This is not including the test knits, and machine knitting projects that are languishing in various corners of the place.

To get through these I have set myself days of the week to work on projects of a similar theme.

Mondays: Crochet Projects (CAL’s that were abandoned being first.)

Tuesdays: Quilting, I have many many hexagons to sew together. Not as many as our Anja and her Insanity Quilt, or our dear friend doing the NIBig Sock, but I have a quilt’s worth.

Wednesday: Well this is easy, we get together on Wednesdays so I bring my favourite project to hang out and chill with my gals.

Thursday: This is usually my admin day, so I don’t have much time off the computer, but during running the children to piano to drama I can do a round or 7 on a sock.

Friday: I fire up the knitting machine and continue on the charity blankets we make for the SOS Bus, of if I am finally low on charity stash, then I will pick up some hand knitting and keep going.

Saturday: Simple and fun, Saturdays are either family days of board games and movies, or I hang out with the ladies for a cheeky Saturday so I want a simple and fun project to keep me going.

Sunday: Embroidery, I’ll break out the hoop and an audiobook and pretend I’m a Regency style heroine doing some work while my paramour reads out loud to me (when in fact he is usually blowing up zombies or aliens or something in the man cave,).

So that is my week of crafting timetable, and seeing as it is Monday now, I should have my hook in hand instead of typing this.

Off I dash!

It’s a funny old month

February is a strange month, really quite hard to pin down its character.  December is simple, feverish gift knitting and a growing hysteria. January is more reflective with promises of cold sheeping and cooing over the yarn received in the Christmas swap.

But February? On a positive note, the mornings are getting lighter, payday is just around the corner and there are plenty of knitty events to look forward to.  However for those on the sheep the grim reality of being on a yarn diet is really starting to bite and with Easter still many weeks away we have no clear focus for our efforts.

So how does a wiley crafter respond?

Some go stark staring mad and take on the challenge of casting on a project for each day of the month.  Not for the faint hearted but it certainly staves off the boredom.

Others dive into their stash a get creative with their hoard – Sharon’s rainbow jacket is an amazing response to the siren call of yarn already purchased.

The weaker willed among us (that would be me) allege that they do not have ANYTHING of use in their stash and continue to purchase and even plan pilgrimages to yarn shops in foreign cities.

So, halfway through this troublesome month we plough on with our projects and dream of Edinburgh, the Dock Market and a Very Big Sock!

New (ad)venture! 

I’ve never really been one for new year’s resolutions… But as soon as 2016 ended.. I just felt like a complete life overhaul was in order! 

It is time. The babies are getting more independent (they work as a team to raid the treat cupboard.. They range from 1-5!!) it’s time to start doing something for me!

An idea had been brewing for a while though…

I guess it all started when a planned day out at a dye course held by a fine fish yarns fell through. (Yes I was absolutely gutted!) My clever husband bought me everything I needed to have a go myself!! 

Well.. Let me tell you.. A passion was born!!


(punk princess)

I just could’nt stop! 


(squall)

The only logical thing was to set up shop… Otherwise.. Well.. I’m a rather slow knitter.. And the house is coming down with wool as it is! But if the worst case scenario is I have an immense ‘perfect-for-me’ stash.. Sure it’s a win-win isn’t it??

​(toxic banana and TMNT)

But I really hope you love what I do, as much as I love doing it! 

The Etsy shop is underway… Come follow me on instagram (@bearinsheepsclothing) for updates if you so wish! And keep an eye out for this symbol…


(credit to the awesome quirky cupcake art for the logo!!)

Here endith the shameless self-plug!

Thank you and goodnight! Xo

The eve of mania

Its hard to believe that its February tomorrow. We’ve just barely recovered from the frantic crafting that December brings and now its time for another crazy venture…Cast on Mania.
The premise for this one is simple – try to cast on something new for every day in February. So by 1 March you should have 28 brand new projects on the needles.
According to the rules I read on Ravelry, there aren’t really any rules! You can cast on as many things (or as few) as you like during the 28 days.
You may want to start that blanket you’ve been putting off for years and this could be the spur you need. Or you have half a dozen single socks lying around just waiting on their mate….then now’s the time.
It’s meant to be fun so don’t be stressing yourself out if you only manage a hat.
As for us…well as usual we have the aspiration for greatness. We’re going to knit ALL THE THINGS! There’s baby knits, hats, crochet ponchos and jumpers…. And then there’s me who will manage a single pair of socks.
I unofficially had my Cast on Mania in January…I just got twitchy fingers. I keep making hats which, while they will keep someone warm eventually, aren’t on my immediate to do list. I’ve baby things to knit by March for work and so far I just have a sleeveless cardigan to show for my efforts.
Preparation is key. Take time today to rummage through your Ravelry queue, your pattern books and magazines for the patterns you want to start. Gather the yarn, needles and notions for each project and stick them in a project bag. Write a list so you can keep track of whats been started.
So far I’ve managed to write a short list and printed some patterns. My C.O.M will consist of knitting though the living room stash (with a few additions from the main stash) and am determined to knit sleeves, a blanket (pram sized thankfully) and some wee hats (and finish the socks in progress too)
You don’t have to finish everything in February, just get the projects started!
Need moral support? We’ll be in the Dock café on Saturday from 12 if you want to Cast on with us!

Cute Little Crochet

For Christmas, my mother-in-law got me a new craft book, a book of cute little crocheted animals. I immediately fell in love, and so did the kids. It’s called Cute Crocheted Animals, by Emma Varnam.

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My first order was for Stanley, the adorable black and white cat, for my oldest son (age 7). The pattern was easy to follow, straightforward to work up and quick! The lack of quirky, detailed features of other crochet patterns was made up for by the lovely squish-ability of the finished animal: perfect for hugging, snuggling, travelling, and other wee adventures. My son couldn’t wait for Stanley to be finished.

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One thing that I believe makes this book stand out are the myriad ‘extra’ patterns offered; there are loads of accessories and outfits to choose from and mix and match. It was just as fun to help my son pick out Stanley’s outfit as it is to play with him now he’s finished, and he could have a whole wardrobe soon enough! The book has several animals to choose from: a bunny, a mouse, a fox, a cat, and a bear. Each animal is made in pairs: a boy version and a girl version, so the book is excellent to have on standby for a relatively quick gift. (Stanley’s girl-friend is called Katy, a grey cat with a pretty blue dress.)

The photographs are cute and simple, with close ups of the clothes, and a how-to at the back in case you’re new to crochet and can’t remember how to work all the stitches. Each animal has their own bio too, to provide a little backstory and get the imagination rolling. It’s a good size too – I didn’t even need my reading glasses to read the text, and the book still fits nicely in my craft bag. The paper is good quality with thick pages, so it’s tactilely pleasing to thumb through as well.

All in all, I’m delighted with this book. I’ll be making the ballerina mouse next for my daughter, and I may just make myself a fox!

You know how it is…

…or maybe you don’t. Anyway, let me illustrate how the process of writing these blog posts usually works. For me, personally, at least.

I sit at work.

My phone vibrates.

Darn. It’s Nikki. I have to blog today.

What to write????

Luckily, on the odd chance that I’ve just about managed to dissuade myself from buying that 7-skein Star Wars inspired pack of yarn, a topic may present itself.

So, after my shift, I went home, and indulged in taking a dive into my already present stash instead. Namely, to dig out the yarn I want to use for the Stonecutter Sweater, which will be my to-wear project for the Edinburgh Yarn Festival this year.

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While I was neck-deep in my yarn anyway, I figured I might as well get to updating my Ravelry stash (only a wee bit, mind you, I have more…), and store the according yarn properly in the now free space. These were the lucky additions to my online stash overview:

Now, I swear I’ll be better prepared next time I get to blog, but that’s all for now, folks. (At least I’m honest about being a forgetful lazy bum… ;P)

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