Cheerful Photos

I have seen a couple of variations of this on blogs recently which I have loved. These are some of the things I have loved this summer. With such busy lives it is so important to stop and take note of the small things. Instead of worrying about work, money or health (I have just had my wisdom tooth out)

My new obsession with stationery is still growing, I adore these Star Wars pens from the Disney Store, being a Star Wars fan I am loving all the new merchandise around at the moment.

We have had a bit of hot weather this summer and it’s been a great excuse to play with my ice cream maker, I adore the Ben & Jerry’s basic recipe as it’s great to experiment with, recent creations have included Mint Choc and Bourbon Biscuits and Banana and Chocolate popping candy.

This summer we have watched Black Sails on Amazon Instant Video, this has quickly fuelled an obsession with all things pirate – I’m currently reading Treasure Island and was thrilled about the news of the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie from D23 Expo this weekend.

To see more of my photos you can follow me on Instagram.

(P)inspirational- Summer Crafts

As I have mentioned before I would decorate the house of any occasion, Valentine’s Day, Halloween and Easter. Here in the UK we don’t really have a reason to celebrate in the summer (apart from the cheery weather). So our summer theme is normally just fresh flowers around the house.

Living in a flat, we don’t really have a garden – just a few flower boxes, so I have to buy flowers rather than, pick them from my garden, I normal get cheap flowers in the supermarket, they tend to be only a few pounds and normally last just over a week. Instead of using traditional vases I love upcycling old bottles. After seeing this pin, I started using my strawberry jam jars to hold pink or red roses.

Continuing with the upcycling theme, I noticed a trend on Instagram this summer of people trying to collect all the set of these Orla Kiely coffee jars from Douwe Egberts, I was lucky enough to find all three in my local supermarket – and can’t wait to start using them as candle holders. (They also make fabulous vases)

One thing that does scream British Summer to me is bunting; it conjures up images of village fêtes or street parties, over the last few years I have an excuse to hang paper bunting, (Football themed for the World Cup or flags for the Olympics), but this summer my hallway looks bear so I am thinking of making some with floral material.

Real Life: Knitting

A few weeks ago I wrote about my dream knitting land, where I would spend my evening seated in a window seat under a handmade quilt (in my dream world I can sew as well), watching my favorite TV shows, whilst drinking Hot Chocolate from our local coffee shop (they would have a home delivery service each night for me).

Again my reality is a lot different, after the fiasco of casting on my sock, I was a little more organised, during the day I had managed to take a few photographs of my sock and the yarn and print out the pattern (I was using my iPad before). So before knitting I sit down to enter the details of my project into Ravelry – of course this lead to 90 minutes of my reading forums and looking at other people’s projects. I noticed a lot of people have been adding a new shawl pattern to their queue and think about casting that on – but I never wear the shawls I have knitted, so think that’s a bad idea.

Work in Progress Shot

I turn of the laptop, set up Netflix and continue knitting, I realised the pattern, is one of those great patterns that is easy to memorize and but looks really complicated and have soon completed one repeat.

I paused for a bit to  make myself a cup of tea and grab a snack from the fridge and then get back to the knitting, but this stage I have a nice groove going on and happily knitting away for a while – stopping to scream at Netflix when it asks “Are you still watching…” Finally, I had watched 5 episodes of a show, it’s gone 1am and I still haven’t completed the leg of the sock!

Artistic Shot

(P)inspirational- Snail Mail ii

Since I first mention my attempts to send more snail mail in February, since then I have been sent into the fabulous snail mail revolution (and developed a bit of a washi tape addiction). As well as buying new stationary, I have been inspired by Instagram to make my own themed mail and found some amazing printables on Pinterest.

I adore the letter writing sets & matching stickers from Hema, but have also found several printable letter sets on Pinterest, this cute pen set by Wreck this Girl is one is one of my favourites.

One of the current trends in Snail Mail I had seen on Instagram was Mail Tags, the idea was started by Bianca Jagoe as a quick and easy way to get to know your penpal by asking quick fired questions, she has even created website devoted to the idea complete with example questions and printable to explain the rules.

Finally, once you have all your penpals – it can be tricky to keep track of all their details, this printable can help – with space for your pals address, social media profiles, likes and space to keep track of your letters once you have posted them.

iKnit Fandango

Last weekend was iKnit Fandango here in London – unfortunately I couldn’t attend on both days – but did pop along on Friday afternoon to help Ling out on the Whimzy Yarn stand. It was nice to have a smaller knitting show back in London – Ally Pally is just too large for me.

Ling did a beautiful job setting up her stand and I was very proud to see a few of my sample knitting on display – my Afternoon Tea shawl (which I knitted in the Haymitch colourway) and my completed Citron in her new gradient yarn.

Citron
I have been out of the knitting circles for a while, a lot of the stands were run by companies I had not heard of – but that also meant I had new products to look at. There were also old favourites there (Knitwitches and Wollmeise).

However, the best thing about knitting shows is the chance to catch up with friends and even re-connect with friends you haven’t seen in a long time.

Real Life: Casting On

Whenever, I read other people’s knitting blogs about when they cast on a new project I have this vision of what they do, wander into their craft room, fondle some hanks of yarn deciding which one is right for their project and then sit down in a comfy chair bathed in natural light and cast on.

My reality of casting on a project is a lot different. Take this week, I had an afternoon off, so thought I would cast on a new project, I knew which yarn I wanted to use, and I had a mission to go and get it.

My yarn is stored in Ikea boxes in the cupboard in the hallway – along with spare bedding, Christmas decorations and old books – so whilst trying to get yarn, I got attacked by roll of wrapping paper and then had our summer duvet fall on my head!

Pretty Yarn Cake

I don’t have a craft room so the dining room table doubles as my desk and workbench. First I set up the my swift and ball winder, start winding the yarn – as soon as I got a momentum going my phone pinged, so I left the ball winder and read the text message and reply. When I returned to the ball winder, I will ended up in a mess – normally because I am left handed and end up winding the other way. After about 45 minutes I had my pretty yarn cake.

By this stage, I thought I’d earned a drink and paused to make a coffee ready to sit down and finally cast on the new project. Upon reading the pattern,  I saw it calls for a German twisted cast-on, so I found a tutorial on Youtube – after watching the video twice, I got sidetracked by the new trailer The Avengers 2. Whilst I had my iPad in hand I thought I’d play a few levels of Candy Crush Saga.

Casting On

By this stage my coffee had gone cold so I had to make another cup and head back to my spot on the sofa –  I had also forgotten everything I heard in the tutorial so had to watch it again, before even getting going on knitting the rib. Finally, after several hours, I had two rows of knitting completed on one sock!

I kept knitting for a while and suddenly realize I didn’t  take any photos of the project or entered the details into Ravelry. I pick up my phone and try to set up the perfect photo – only then did I see that there is no natural light, so looked at the time and see it’s gone 6pm, my husband is due home anytime soon the dining room table still has a swift attached and I had to cook dinner!

 

UK Coffee Week

Where knitting is concerned at the moment I seem to need a lot of inspiration. I get bored quickly so a larger item (sweater or cardigan) are out of the question, socks whilst quicker seem to have lost their appeal, as I have several pairs and have ruined a lot more (am I the only one who wears though sock). So I need to find smaller projects to keep me going. Lately, I have been doing some sample knitting, the Shawl for Ling and another project for Ruth at Rock + Purl (more of that later). Which is good for me as I can use the deadline for motivation.

Coffee Sleeves

I also thought it might be a good idea for me to do some knitting for charities – it also seemed like a great way to put a dent in my stash. I found a great list of campaign that are looking for knitters on the UK Hand Knitting Association’s website. The first campaign that caught my eye was the knitted cup sleeves for The Allegra Foundation, they aim to bring safe drinking water to coffee producers in the Third World. Working with WaterAid they will be selling Coffee Sleeves in coffee shops over UK Coffee Week in May.

Coffee Sleeves

As a coffee addict, this seemed like a great project to start me off (I wish I had heard about it earlier so I could have knitted more sleeves). Using up some of my leftover sock yarn, and a few basic patterns – ribbed on “pooling” yarn or a simple cable on plainer yarns, this project is quick and easy to knit.

 

(P)inspirational- Snail Mail

As I mentioned in my last post I have been inspired by the Just a Card campaign to send more snail mail. Not just birthday cards but letters, “just because” notes and mini parcels. If you would like to receive some snail mail from me – I will try to send something that is both fun and creative, then contact me.

This series focuses is almost a beginner’s guide to snail mail – explaining the concept, how to find a pen pal, and of course the dos and don’t of snail mail. She also lists a few crafts on how to make your mail more interesting.

Kelly Rowe has also written an article with tips for writing more snail mail – her article focus more on getting started, a list of supplies and getting organised. I also adore her personalised notepaper (I’m looking to order some for myself).

I am amazed what this woman had managed to post (and yes she did post the bottle of school supplies), a sponge, flip-flops and a bucket & spade! Taking advantage of the US Postal Services under 13oz rule she (and her children) send extremely interesting mail for the price of a first class parcel! Unfortunately, the Royal Mail isn’t as cool with their rules as parcels here as they take into account the dimensions of the parcel as well as the weight.

 

Just a Card

Cute Airmail Pouch - perfect for letter writing lovers :)
Cute Airmail Pouch – perfect for letter writing lovers :)

I love the Snail Mail revolution – who doesn’t love receiving mail –  nowadays I barely ever get mail – bills are emailed, companies catalogues are online, messages are sent via text or Facebook. Which is all convenient and handy – but there is something lovely about seeing little rectangles on the welcome mat in the morning.

Years ago, I would make cards and send them out, for birthdays, thank you cards for gifts and every November our lounge floor would become a production line as I made over 60 identical Christmas cards to send out to friends and family. I dreamed of making and selling cards for a living but nothing ever can of it.

I still send out dozens of Christmas cards, but now buy them boxed from a department store, occasionally, I buy birthday cards from an online company to get a personalised message, but usually it from a high street chain.

“If everyone who’d complimented our beautiful gallery had bought just a card we’d still be open.”

I few weeks ago on A Playful Day‘s instagram she mentioned the “Just a Card” project – when I read about the project I knew it was something I wanted to be part of. The project is the brainchild of Sarah Hamilton, inspired by this quote she is encouraging consumers to buy “just a card” from their local gallery. To help keep these little store alive.

Just a Card Button

I am the first person to admit I am guilty of pottering in boutiques – just window shopping and never buying anything. So this year, I am going to try and buy my cards from small independent stores, local galleries and directly from the artists themselves (via etsy or folksy). To support all those people who managed to do what I couldn’t!

You can read more about the project on the Just a Card site or Mollie Makes (they are promoting the project), I encourage you to buy a card from a local designers and share your photos with the hashtag #justacard, to support this worthwhile campaign.

(P)inspirational- Galentine’s Day Gifts

Some how Parks and Recreation seemed to pass me by, but last year, it popped up on my recommendations on Amazon Prime (I think it was due to my love of the Lego Movie and Guardians of the Galaxy), so I thought I’d give it ago. I love Leslie Knopes’ enthusiasm and her quirky gift giving. One of her more fun ideas was Galentine’s Day (celebrated on the 13th of February), she’s gather all her girl friends for brunch and they celebrate their friendship. I noticed on Pinterest a rise of Galentine’s gift ideas – here’s hoping it becomes an real celebration.

These Waffle flavoured lip balm from Better World on Etsy, are a cute favour for your guests at your Galentine’s Day brunch. As Leslie says “We need to remember what’s important in life: friends, waffles, work. Or waffles, friends, work. Doesn’t matter, but work is third


Love taking Selfies of you and your girlies, rather than keep them on your phone – why not share them with this Instagram frame. You can even change the hashtag to something cheesier to express your friendship.

What better cliché gift for your gal pal than a chick flick and chocolate! (Or a horror movie if that’s your thing). This tutorial from Allred Design, is great for wrapping a DVD, the gift box will fit a DVD or Blu Ray and has a pocket for a microwave popcorn pouch and large chocolate bar – as well as several printable quotes about friendship.