Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Winter crafting

There's a chill in the crisp morning air, the nights are drawing in, yes, it's most definitely Autumn! (Or have we skipped straight to Winter?) 

Joshua has now started 'proper' nursery so that involves a short walk 3 mornings a week to get there, we crunch and kick the leaves by the roadside and play chase and hide and seek around the trees we have to walk through.  It's barely a 5 minute walk but it's such fun.  The morning sun and clear blue skies have certainly put us in great moods for the day ahead and the short burst of crisp cool air has made us feel a little more awake. 

The cosy jumpers have been dug out (and, ahem, bought a few more!) New boots have been sought, for me and Joshua, and plans have been made for making new winter hats, scarves and socks.  Yes, with the onset of Winter comes the Winter crafting! 

Cosy new jumper!
For me, I tend to think of crochet as a Winter hobby, a craft for the darker evenings, keeping warm under my handmade quilt making cosy accessories with gorgeously snuggly wool!  I taught myself to crochet in the Spring (blogged here), quickly made myself a cowl, and then forgot about crochet to move back to sewing and cross stitch.  Since I realised the mornings were suddenly so cold lately, I decided I *needed* some wrist warmers, what better than to make my own?

I found a pattern online, which it turns out, I haven't followed as it was written by an English person who lives in England...but was written in US crochet terms!? Not quite sure why anyone would do this, but I only noticed after I'd finished that I'd used the wrong stitch!  Anyway, I think they turned out pretty great....Here was their first outing this morning, complete with my cowl and my new boots!

This is the wool I used (on the left) - Chunky Special by Stylecraft.  It's gorgeously soft and warm.  I'm really pleased with how they turned out, and I'm already pinning away loads of inspiration on my Crochet board on Pinterest.  I'm thinking cosy leg warmers, socks, scarves etc! (The cream wool on the left is going to be made into a hat for Joshua.)

 So as the nights get darker, colder and wetter, I'll be keeping cosy with a little of this...

Practising some of this...

Making a few of these...

And keeping everything tidy with these...

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

A snail mail revival!

It was with some irony I realised last week that the more I use social media - my blog, Twitter and Instagram, the more old fashioned mail I send and receive!  I'm not just talking about me sending out orders, but sending out cards, little notes, and surprises here and there to friends I've made online. 

I'm sure when the Internet first took off people all around the world thought that use of our postal services would decline....well I've never visited the Post Office so often in my life as I do now! 

Perhaps it's more a case of finding excuses to keep snail mail going - a poorly friend in need of a get well soon card, or sending a housewarming card to a friend's new address.  Whatever the excuse, I just love it!  I get as much joy out of sending mail as I do receiving it. 

Recently a couple of friends have moved house...so I dug out my scrap basket and whiped up some cards.

These are nothing more than pretty scraps sewn into little house shapes!  Simple yet so effective. 

I sent another friend a get well soon card recently too, this time a cute little cross stitched one.

The pattern is from a past edition of Cross Stitcher magazine - which funnily enough I received in the post from another new online friend - we did a little swap!  She sent me a selection of cross stitch magazines and I sent her some other magazines and some fabric scraps. 

I was also delighted to receive a little unexpected gift in the post from an Instagram friend, she saw this book, thought I'd like it so she very kindly sent it to me!

I guess these are what's known as random acts of kindness, nothing is needed in return. 

I've also been lucky enough to be the recipient of notions such as buttons and wool...just because the senders thought I'd like them! 

It's so nice to know that you're being thought of by friends so far away - and friends you've never even met!

So I definitely felt that it was high time I bought myself one of these -

A very sweet little address book, all ready to store my friends names and addresses in. 

Monday, 10 September 2012

Loving the simple things

There's a new magazine on the block, 'The Simple Things', brought to us by the same people behind Mollie Makes.  I saw this mag advertised a few months ago and it looked right up my street, and they were running an introductory offer of 3 issues for a fiver.  I signed up straight away. 

The first issue landed on my doormat last week, I was very good and saved it, all day, without peeking at it, and as soon as I had some 'me' time in the evening I sat with my cuppa and some chocolate, snuggled up with my quilt and my new mag. 

So on first impressions, and having spent a blissful hour and a half devouring every page, I am pleased to say I really liked it! 

This is the magazine's philosophy, and I find it very refreshing.  The magazine didn't linger on  materialism, there weren't pages and pages of advertisements for furniture I couldn't afford, range cookers I didn't have the space for or gadgets I didn't need.  Instead, there's a great blend of recipes, gardening advice, articles on food and cities, and a little bit of crafting thrown in too.  There are also plenty of little snippets of people's simple pleasures - enjoying cups of tea, watching the birds, and even how simple things are enjoyed around the world.  For me, it's Mollie Makes, but for grown ups. 

I think The Simple Things magazine has a lesson for us all - slow down, open your eyes and find the beauty that is there, right in front of you.  Apps (for my phone) such as Instagram, have already made me slow down and look for happy things in the mundane of every day life - a pretty flower hiding in the hedgerow, a heart shaped stone on a beach, a meal I've enjoyed cooking. 

I've put together some of my favourite photos from the past few weeks, I was surprised to find so many of them were food related. Perhaps this is because I have been enjoying a small but satisfying amount of tomatoes produced from my own plants which I grew from seed.  Perhaps, also because it is now clearly autumn - there is a nip in the morning air, orange leaves crunching underfoot - this automatically brings for me a yearning for comfort food.  After a summer of salads it's now time to bake and roast - tasty and warm dishes with seasonal produce. 

My homegrown tomatoes have been used for bruschetta and gorgeous pasta dishes.  Homemade bread was used as the base for the bruschetta.  We've had apple crumble and many main dishes made from roast butternut squash, courgette (also from the garden) and tasty chorizo.  Butternut squash was also the main ingredient in an amazing risotto I made last week.  The loaf in the centre of my collage was a recipe from The Simple Things mag - spice cake with rhubarb (from the garden, of course). 

I have also enjoyed a few simple things that weren't food related, mainly enjoying the outdoors - gorgeous vases of flowers straight from the garden, a walk by the harbour, browsing local farm shops and a fabulous bargain book haul from the local car boot sale. 

I just love how the 'simple things' needn't be expensive.  The pile of books above cost a whole pound for 7 great stories!

Even if The Simple Things magazine doesn't sound like your thing, take it as a reminder to just enjoy the simple things around you.  Make a point of snapping more pictures, cutting pretty pictures out of magazines, or storing a recipe you simply must try.  In this day and age when everyone is money conscious, it is lovely to just stop.  And smell the flowers - literally.