Thursday, 5 March 2015

My Current "Exercise" Routine


Step 1:  Make plans to go on a Nice Day Out.

Step 2: Set my alarm so I can get up nice and early and make the most of my day off.

Step 3a: Oversleep!

Or, 3b: Think "I'll just quickly check my emails", waste time faffing about on Twitter etc and suddenly realise I'm going to miss my train.

Step 4: Rush around the house at lightning speed.

Step 5: Run to the train station (or rather, run for a bit then walk to catch my breath thinking "my goodness I need to get fit", then run a bit again). Collapse in a heap on the train.

Step 6: Spend the whole day walking everywhere. Walk to museums, around galleries, up stairs, down shopping streets, along riversides and through parks* (*delete as appropriate depending on the weather).

Step 7: Eat a nice bit of cake or an icecream (or two) and think about how this probably isn't the healthiest choice but who cares oh my goodness this is so tasty om nom nom.


Step 8: Go home.

Step 9: Repeat steps 1-8 as often as possible :)

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Book Review: Crafty Dolls

Last year I reviewed a very cute, family-friendly craft book called Crafty Creatures... and today I'm reviewing the follow-up: Crafty Dolls.

Crafty Creatures was completely adorable and this second book is just as cute. As before, the book includes projects to knit and to sew, which are all achievable projects for kids or other beginners and which all include lots of possibilities to personalise the designs and to be creative.

How could you resist a book with a title page as cute as this one?

I love the little doll the author, Jane Bull, has knitted of herself and how both Janes welcome you to the book!

Crafty Dolls is divided into four sections: rag dolls, "woolly" dolls, "dolly mixtures" and a techniques and tips section with clear step-by step photos. The templates are all provided at full size and are dotted throughout the book.

The rag dolls build on the same basic patterns, with variations and accessories so you can mix and match bodies, hair, faces, clothes and accessories to create personalised dolls or dolls with a whole wardrobe of outfits to choose from.

You can also make ballerina or fairy folls, topsy-turvy dolls and a mermaid with wonderful yarn hair.

In the "woolly" dolls section there are dolls to knit and dolls to make from gloves and yarn scraps. There are step by step photos for the knitting patterns as well as the sewing patterns and, again, there are lots of suggestions for ways to personalise your dolls and create lots of different dolls from the same patterns.

I love these simple dolls knitted from simple squares:

Finally, the "dolly mixtures" section includes doll-shaped lavender bags, small pillows with characters drawn on and one of the cutest things I have ever seen: mini dolls for the rag dolls to play with... which come with even more teeny dolls of their own! All with matching outfits!


Cute, charming and with lots of clear instructions and simple, kid-friendly projects this is a fab little book. It would be a great book to buy if you've got young relatives to make gifts for (who wouldn't want a doll version of themself for their birthday?) or if your kids are learning to knit and/or to sew things for themselves.

Crafty Dolls is published by Dorling Kindersley Ltd. RRP £12.99. It's available from Amazon UK, Amazon USA, The Book Depository and many other bookshops.

[Disclaimer: I was sent a free review copy of this book. The Amazon & Book Depository links in this post are affiliate links].

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

An Abandoned Project: Sky Pompoms

So, last summer I decided to "Pompom the Sky", making a pompom a day for a year to represent that day's weather.


It was going to be a fun pompom version of my sky blanket (which I'd hugely enjoyed making) but this time the pompoms were going to become a pompom sky rug or a couple of puffy fluffy sky cushions - I was going to see how the pompoms looked and how much space they took up en masse and then decide their final purpose.

I bought some yarn, looked at the sky each day at midday and wrote down my chosen sky colours then started making the pompoms in batches. I made pompoms for the whole of June...


... tagging each pompom with the date so I could arrange them in date order later on.

My pompom making continued in July...


... but then, it stopped.

I ran out of yarn (I'd not ordered much to start the project as I'd ended up with lots left over from my sky blanket and wanted to buy my supplies bit by bit this time round) and then I just didn't get round to ordering some more. Days and weeks and months went by and I kept looking at the sky and writing down the sky colours but not buying more yarn and not making any more pompoms. I didn't even trim the stray yarn from the July pompoms to make them nice and neat and fluffy.

Right up until the six month mark I kept telling myself "I'll order some yarn and catch up soon!" but it never happened. When 2015 rolled round I thought seriously about whether I'm actually ever going to finish this project and realised that no, I'm not.

I loved the idea of the sky pompoms! They look fantastic and I loved how using six strands of yarn per pompom allowed for more variations in colours than the two strands used to knit my sky blanket squares.

But while the blanket grew bit by bit as I knitted each square and added to the blanket, all that was growing this time was a big pile of pompoms as I wasn't going to start attaching them to anything until much later. This was much less satisfying - all the effort of an ongoing project without any of the excitement of seeing your work progress.

And (most crucially) although I loved the idea of the pompoms I wasn't actually that excited about owning a big fluffy pompom-covered rug or cushion. Like, it would look cool and would be fun to blog about but would just be a "thing" taking up space (unlike a nice, cuddly useful blanket) (all the decluttering I was doing last year may have influenced me here!!). And did I really want to spend all this time and effort and money making something that I wasn't sure I wanted to own?

So, I stopped looking at the sky each day and (finally) crossed "order yarn for sky pompoms!" off my To Do list.

It's taken me a couple of months to work up to admitting this!

Some of you may have guessed that I'd stopped making the sky pompoms simply because I hadn't blogged about them in aaaaages. And, of course, there is nothing wrong with starting a project and deciding it's not for you! But it still feels a bit embarassing to have announced this big fun project and then to have let it fizzle out like this. It's better that than continue throwing time and money at something that my heart's not really in though, right?

I'm going to finish up those July pompoms and try and find a use for them (as part of my Use it Or Lose It crafty decluttering plan) and I'll take some photos of all the pompoms together because they do look very cool all en masse ... and then stop feeling bad about this and start making something new.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Stitch It And See

After much umming and aahing I finally chose the colours I wanted to use for stitching my floral embroidery pattern. Here's how it's looking now:

As you can see, I've stitched the main design and am now filling in the blank spaces.

I'm not totally sure if this is the right choice as I'm worried it might end up looking too busy? And that maybe orange thread I've used for the centre won't stand out clearly enough against the peach I'm using to fill in the flower? And maybe the leaves will end up looking too dark when they're filled in too?

We shall see!


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