Monday 28 December 2015

Book Reviews - August

Yes, you read that right... August!  I've finally got round to writing this post on the one book I finished in August, which also happens to be the last book I finished.  My reading has really slowed down - time has really passed in a blur these last few months!

I wanted to get this in quickly before the end of the year, so that my reviews are complete for 2015.  I've decided not to continue with book reviews on the blog, as I don't really enjoy writing them and I'm not sure they're that interesting as I don't want to risk giving any spoilers!  But it was worth a go.

Gone Girl
- Gillian Flynn

This book was really good!  I've mentioned previously that I watched the film for this first, which was excellent.  It then inspired me to read all the books by Gillian Flynn, and I've reviewed her other two here already.  (Sharp Objects and Dark Places.)

This is her third book and it was so good.  I think it would have been better if I'd not already seen the film, as I knew what was going to happen.  I still enjoyed it, though, and would most definitely recommend it.  It is dark, intense and very intriguing, keeping you wondering and questioning (well, it would have done if I hadn't seen the film!)  A great book, which leaves you thinking about it after you've finished reading.  Read it!

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* Links to the books I've read are Amazon affiliate links

Saturday 21 November 2015

Fabric Advent Calendar

I mentioned earlier this year that I broke up with my ex back in June.  Since then I've started going out with someone new (ooh, exciting!) and decided to make him an advent calendar.  (No, he's not 7 years old - I just thought it would be fun and thoughtful... and he is a bit of a big kid at heart!)

What I didn't anticipate was quite how difficult it was going to be.  There are so many easier ideas for advent calendars - if you feel like doing one, I recommend the easy route!  But I got this vision in my head, and just had to try to make it.  It took a long time as I was trying to figure out how to do it as I went along.  (Check out my Advent Calendar Pinterest board for other ideas.)

I can't even begin to work out how many hours I put into it, and how often I cursed myself and my stupid ideas... but when it was done I was glad I'd made the effort!

It's a big old thing too - about 55cm x 111cm.  And when it's full of gifts it's pretty heavy!!

It's quite difficult to photograph, due to its size and the terrible light this time of year - the colours in the first picture are the most accurate.  It's just laid on the carpet at the moment, for these pictures, but I will be hanging it on the wall with command hooks.  (I hear good things about them, and hope they'll do the trick without ruining my paintwork!)

A bonus of the project was that it cost me nothing to make (not including the presents of course) - I used red upholstery fabric I'd been given as someone no longer needed it.  For the pocket borders I used fabric I already had which had been awaiting a Christmassy project since last year.  I already had the white felt which I used for the numbers.  Each of those was cut out by hand and hand-sewn on!  I found the hand sewing the only relaxing part of the project actually - whereas I thought it would drive me mad having to stitch on so many numbers!

I think I'm going to be more excited than him when it comes to the present openings...

What do you think - was it worth the effort, or should I have just bought a standard chocolate one from the shops and saved myself all that time?!

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Monday 5 October 2015

Happy Scrappy Progress Report

In my last post, I showed you the start of my happy scrappy scarf (organised by Pink Milk here).  I thought it was time I showed you the progress so far!

Oh, I am loving it!

Those colours!

So glad I decided to join in with this... can't wait to have it wrapped around my neck - a nice bit of pretty colour to combat any gloomy grey days!

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Wednesday 23 September 2015

Happy Scrappy Scarf

Have you heard of Pink Milk's Happy Scrappy Scarf-Along?

Well, I'd been watching on quietly... until I gazed upon this basket of pretty pastel cotton yarn...

I'd taken the bold bright colours out to make my Japanese Flower coasters - so just the pastels were left.  I thought they really would make a pretty happy scrappy scarf!

As I have a deep-rooted fear of random, I knew I had to have a plan.  Fortunately, I'd created an excel colour plan for the stripy blanket I've been making (for the past two years, eek) which also has five colours and looks random, but has a convoluted method behind it!  So I replaced each blanket colour with one of the scarf colours, to get the plan below...

And very excited that made me too!  Time to get to work... I decided to use half-double crochet (half-treble UK)...

I got this far and realised that I wanted to double up the rows I'd decided to do.  I was going to do bands of 1, 2 and 3 rows, but I wasn't happy with how it looked.  I decided to rip it back and start again, with bands of 2, 4 and 6 rows.

I'm much happier with it now, it looks less flimsy if that makes sense (and half the amount of ends to sew in is no bad thing!)...

Loving those colours.  It's pretty addictive, because I keep wanting to finish each colour to see how the next one looks!

Thanks to Heather for organising this, and the great inspiration!  I will be back with progress!

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Thursday 17 September 2015

Japanese Flower Crochet Coasters

As promised, I'm back with the completed set of Japanese flower crochet coasters!

You can find out more about the yarn and pattern in this post.  I went on to make six in total so that I had every colour combination with these three bright cheerful colours.

I am so pleased with them - the colours are just so happy!

I was a bit tempted to make more and turn them into a scarf or shawl or something - but I think I've lost my momentum now... so will keep them as coasters.

Such a satisfying make!

Think that's it with the photos now... got a bit carried away!  Now... what to make next...

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Tuesday 15 September 2015

Washi Tape Picture

Thanks for the lovely comments on my crochet coaster (I've been continuing to reply to your comments on the blog posts) - I have now made six of them, and will be back soon to show you the lot!

In the meantime, I completed an extremely quick project.  I've had the below photo frame for a year or two...

All this time it has been like this, without a photo in it!  I suddenly decided that I had to put something in it - but a washi tape design, instead of a photo...

Dinki Dots Craft: Washi Tape Picture

I simply took out the card that was in the frame, stuck the washi tape to it in stripes, then put it back into the frame.  Very simple and very quick.

I'm not sure whether it looks good or ridiculous, if I'm honest!

Dinki Dots Craft: Washi Tape Picture

Well, surely it's better than it was before!!

I hope to be back later this week with pictures of my completed set of coasters... so check back soon!

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Thursday 10 September 2015

Japanese Flower Coaster

Yes, I have made something at last!

Dinki Dots: Japanese Flower Crochet Coaster

Using those lovely bright Bamboo Cotton colours from my last post, I have made a Japanese Flower coaster.  I love it!

The pattern was found and sent to me in a document by my friend Anna over four years ago after I first saw this and fell in love and showed it to Anna!  It's taken me all this time to finally make one flower, so I think a few coasters are a bit more manageable than a whole throw or shawl!  If you'd like the pattern, you can search on Pinterest for 'Japanese Flower Crochet' and there seem to be patterns more easily available these days.

Dinki Dots: Japanese Flower Crochet Coaster

There will be more to come, but I thought I'd show you the first one, as it's been so long since I've finished something!

Dinki Dots: Japanese Flower Crochet Coaster

Hope to be back soon with more of these!

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Friday 4 September 2015

Oh, So Bright and Cheery!

Finally!  I've made a crafty purchase - it's been a long time!

I couldn't resist this zesty green King Cole Bamboo Cotton...

I thought it would add a real zing when used with these bright colours I already had (also King Cole Bamboo Cotton)...

Oh, I just love those colours together!  What shall I make?  I was thinking maybe some colourful crochet coasters?!

I think the green also adds a bit of something when put with a medley of pinks...

So... even though I was stood in my craft room the other day thinking that I really must use up some of these supplies... well, I feel that this addition might just open things up a bit!!  Yes, I'll justify it that way!

Now, I just have to pull my finger out and start making!

Wednesday 26 August 2015

Book Reviews - July

I didn't finish any books in June, so there were no book reviews for that month.  My reading (along with my crafting!) has been pretty slow-going lately.

I did finish one book in July, though.  I started it in May, so it took a while, due to other things going on in my life.

- Mark Billingham

I don't think I got fully into this book, due to how long it took me to read and what with everything else going on.  But that's no fault of the book!

The story revolves around a young woman who has been attacked and left in a coma, unable to move or communicate.  However, she can still see, hear, think and feel.  Other women have been attacked in a similar way, but have been killed.  DI Tom Thorne is on the case to find the person responsible, and communicating with the girl in the coma could be the key to cracking the case.

I do think it was a good book, but perhaps didn't enjoy it as much as a few I had read previously.  I'm not sure I quite warmed to the characters.  I think it's worth a read, but didn't leave me that excited.  Although, again, it might be due to my lack of focus when reading it.

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* Links to the books I've read are Amazon affiliate links

Tuesday 4 August 2015

Operation: Get My Act Together!

Hi everyone, and thanks for the very kind comments on my last post regarding my breakup.  I really appreciate your thoughts and consideration - you are a lovely lot.  I have finally got round to replying to each one, here on the blog, as well as your comments on the few posts before which were outstanding.

Now... as the title of this post suggests... I need to start getting my shi act together!  The breakup was six and a half weeks ago, and the Lumberjack moved out a week and a half ago, once he'd sorted somewhere to live.  As I said things are pleasant and amicable, so there is no nastiness or any issues there.  I'm actually doing fine, but when I'm not seeing friends or family, I have a tendency to become a bit of a vegetable.  I'm not moping or anything, just being extremely lazy!!  I just can't be bothered to get anything done.  So, that's gotta stop!  Here is the plan...

1. Get Creating Again

a. Pick up this cross stitch again... I started it years ago!

b. Make some progress with my cotton stripy blanket, and get those ends sewn in.  I had been sewing them in as I went, but let it slide a bit.  I started this blanket in September 2013 and am yet to reach the two thirds mark - need to get a move on!

c. Perhaps start (and finish!) some smaller makes, for some quick wins.

2. Get Organised

a. Finally get the craft room in a fit state to be both used and shown here on the blog!  It has become a bit of a dumping ground, and I have to tip-toe through the layer of clutter on the floor to get anything!  I will show you pictures, to shame myself into acting!  (In theory...!)

Lucky enough to have a craft room and yet I have treated it like this - bad bad me!

b. Sort out paperwork which is currently piling up in various places, and try to keep on top of it.

3. Decorate

a.  The conservatory.  It needs tidying, organising, decorating, and furnishing... then maybe I can start to sit in it before it becomes too cold and wintery!  It is a junk/DIY room at the moment, as you can see...

b. The Utility Nook - you saw a sneak peak here.  I need to finish it!

c. The downstairs toilet - I won't scare you with a picture!

Hmm... perhaps this list is pretty ambitious - to go from doing nothing to all this!  Well, we'll see how I get on - I'll keep you updated on Operation 'Get My Act Together'!

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Tuesday 7 July 2015

A Breakup

I've been a bit quiet here lately, as I'm sorry to say that the Lumberjack and I have broken up.  It's amicable, but sad.  I don't seem to be in a crafting mood, so haven't had anything to show you here - I just wanted to explain my silence.

On the plus side, my brother and sister-in-law bought me the very cute glass-fused coaster shown above, as a 'breakup present'!

I hope to get my creative mojo back soon so that I have some pretty things to share with you.

Friday 19 June 2015

Book Reviews - May

My book reviews are getting later and later each month.  I know I spoke last time about possibly not continuing, but I wanted to review this months books as they were so good!

Dark Places
- Gillian Flynn

Back in February I read Gillian Flynn's first book - Sharp Objects - which was very dark and very good.  Her second book - Dark Places - is just as dark and twisted!  I was hooked from the very first line.

The book flits between today and about 25 years ago when violence struck the Day family, and delves into the truth of what happened on that blood-soaked night.  If you want a bright, happy, cheery read, then keep away!  It's definitely not a feel-good book.  I loved it, though - it kept me intrigued and interested throughout.  I highly recommend it.

Before I Go To Sleep

- S J Watson

I'd seen a trailer for this at the cinema, but never got round to watching it.  However, I realised the film was based on a book so bought the book.  Ooooh, this was really good too!  Not as disturbing and twisted as Dark Places, a bit nicer to read despite being a bit of a thriller and having some scary and tense moments.

Something has occurred in the main character's past to cause her to have amnesia.  Every morning she wakes up not knowing where she is or what has happened, and anything she learns during the day she forgets again when sleeping that night.  I won't give anything away, but it is such a good book.  A real page-turner, I couldn't put it down!  Really loved this - definitely read it!  I want to see the film now.

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* Links to the books I've read are Amazon affiliate links

Wednesday 3 June 2015

All Tea Towels

You may have heard of All Tea Towels who sell the most lovely range of tea towels.  There are so many designs, it's difficult to choose your favourite!

Al of All Tea Towels kindly offered me two of their tea towels, and after much pouring over the website I picked the below (pictures courtesy of their website - click on images to be taken to the items):

You may remember that my kitchen was renovated last year, but I'd still been using my old tea towels.  It's now great to have a couple that go nicely with the kitchen!

I think they work well.

And I especially like how this one goes with the colours in my print above the shelves...

I've had them a few weeks now, as I wanted to use and wash them before reviewing for you.  So...

Design - as you can see it is a definite thumbs up for design!

Dryability - they dry items well and are a smooth fabric, rather than fluffy, so don't leave fluff all over your dishes.

Washability - they wash well.

Size - they are a good size, quite a bit bigger than the cheap tea towels I was using previously.  This gives you more to dry with!

Customer Service - Al was ever so friendly and helpful and delivery was very prompt indeed.

To conclude, I can most definitely recommend All Tea Towels.  Go check them out, as there are bound to be lots of designs you'll love!

Disclaimer:  I have received a complimentary pair of tea towels for the purpose of this review.  All pictures, words and opinions are honest and my own.

Thursday 28 May 2015

Beginner Crochet - Blog Hop

I have been following Sarah's blog Annaboo's House for many years now.  I think from pretty much near the beginning actually.  Her posts are always written in such a fun and enjoyable style, and her ideas and patterns are great.  I couldn't be more pleased for her that she's had a crochet book published - what an amazing achievement and well deserved!

To celebrate the launch of Sarah's book - Beginner's Guide to Crochet - I'm taking part in a blog hop organised by Stitch Craft Create sharing beginner crochet wins and fails.  See Sarah's kick off post here.

My crochet adventure began when I started a new job working with Anna back in 2008.  We quickly learned that we both were creative crafting types and that was the start of a beautiful friendship!  Anna is the crochet queen - just check this out if you have any doubt - and that's just the tip of the iceberg!  She brought some yarn into work and started teaching me how to crochet on our lunch breaks.  I seem to remember really struggling with how to hold the yarn so that it would feed nicely through my fingers - that was one of the tricky beginner bits for me, my first fail if you will.  Somehow I figured out a way that worked - and as Anna always says, you're not at school any more - there are no rules, if it works for you, do it!

She taught me the classic granny square, and I made my first crochet item - a cushion.  That was my first win!

Not too shabby for my first project - I felt I could handle this crochet malarkey!

The good thing about the granny is that you crochet into the gaps rather than into the stitch, which made it easier for me.  But then (possibly a couple of years later, now I look back) I tried single crochet (UK double) amigurumi style, actually having to crochet into the stitch on the row below - that was a big crochet fail!  I really couldn't figure out where on earth I should be putting my hook - where was the top of the stitch?! - and Anna and I weren't working together any more so I didn't have assistance readily to hand.  Despite our emails back and forth, sometimes you need to be shown!

Well, one day it just clicked - I don't know how, but somehow it did.  I was ridiculously proud of this little ball...

And made these two cute little fellas!

That seemed like a big win - I felt like I could actually crochet!

Another fail I had was an attempt to crochet a cowl.  I just couldn't get the sizing right, and the stitches were all far too tight and rigid.  This is where Sarah's fab tutorial on Annaboo's House for The Ultimate Cowl came in handy and I made this...

Such a great pattern - easy to do and it worked up quickly, just what I like.  A win.

And how great that Sarah now has a book full of beginner crochet patterns!

I've now crochets blankets, monkeys, cushions, shawls, and all sorts of other bits and bobs.  Check out my crochet tab to see my creations!

Now it just remains for me to nominate another blogger to carry this hop along...

The lovely Sam of Betsy Makes.  Her crochet work is beautiful, and her blog is full of inspiration.  Be sure to keep an eye out for her Beginner Crochet Blog Hop post!

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