Countdown to Bearwood Handmade November starts here…meet This Geek Love

This year we started planning our Christmas Bearwood Handmade fairs earlier than ever but all of a sudden I’m sitting here wrapped in a blanket on a bleak November afternoon thinking about delivering flyers and only just starting to write about some of our fantastic stall holders. So here we go, let me start introducing the first of the talented designer makers we have coming up at the Bearwood Handmade event on 19th November.

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Amanda aka This Geek Love is a regular at our Bearwood Tapestry nights in The Midland and had a stall at Bearwood Handmade last December. “I learnt to crochet in 2012 and haven’t stopped since! I love making geeky things inspired by Doctor Who, Star Wars and now Pokémon amongst other things. I also love working with bright colours and the CMYK colour combo.

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My products are all handmade, mostly crocheted, accessories and home décor with a geeky twist. They range from rose and bow brooches to star wars pots, 8bit blankets and anything I can make a Tardis into.

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LINKS:
Instagram – @thisgeeklove
Facebook page – This Geek Love
Etsy – http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/thisgeeklove

 

Simon Cowl

As the days started to draw in and the cold seeped into my bones, I have been knitting and crocheting steadily for the upcoming Handmade Christmas fairs.

Always on the lookout for a new pattern, and sick to death of berets and bobble hats (post to follow on those beauties soon!), I joined Craftsy.com and stumbled upon this lovely pattern for a simple crocheted cowl by Frayed Knot.

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I started off hesitantly, as I am not so au fait with crochet patterns, and true to its claim, it really was for beginners!! Above is the half way mark (cunningly promoting Mr S in his newspaper ad as the face of divorce for lawyers Slater & Gordon in the Daily Express!).

It should have been the same again for the second half, in the opposite direction, but the yarn I used was a bit thicker than the lace weight recommended, so it doesn’t have the movement, and has come up more of a neck warmer than a drapey number.

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So I decided to just do the one round of scallops to complete the edge, and finish it off there.  I love the steely sheen to the wool, which is more of a dark teal than the pictures show here.  It sits up, as demonstrated in the pic below, which seems very crown like to me!

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The pattern comes with a detachable flower, which I am thinking of doing in the red version of this yarn, but I don’t think it really needs it.

Have cast on last night in a lovely soft yarn with a metallic green thread through it which was a present from my friend Kate – it is a rule that you must only create for yourself with yarn that was a gift, so who am I to argue?! Watch this space!  C x

 

Close-Knit in Bearwood

Close-Knit in Bearwood

 

I’ve been running some very casual knitting classes in the jewellery quarter for about a year now. I call it Close-Knit because I like to think that we’re knitting bonds between us as well as yarn while our needles work away. The classes are very casual and social and fun… and I like to think very affordable, too.

Close-Knit in Bearwood Close-Knit in Bearwood Close-Knit in Bearwood

 

Now that winter is closing in, I’ve been knitting a lot more… and I was thinking that I’d like to start one of my Close-Knit classes at my house here in Bearwood. Our house was a bit of a fixer-uper and we’ve been renovating it slowly over the last couple of years… we just finished having some work done on the kitchen and it is a perfect place for about 6 people to gather around the table and swap some knitting skills.

Close-Knit in Bearwood

I have some very simple patterns to get you started if you are a beginner. My favourite way to start people off is by knitting a mini triangle… perfect for bunting!

Close-Knit in Bearwood

I’ve also started up a Knit-Along where you can learn to knit some Xmas Baubles. The kit consists of 2 balls of Artesano superwash merino and the pattern.

If anyone is interested in coming to a Close-Knit session, the next one is THIS FRIDAY! November 23 from 10am until 11:30am. It will be here at my house. The cost is £8, or you can buy 4 sessions for £25. Please drop me an email ( erin . power @ gmail . com) for more details and to book in.

 

obsessed with knitting

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to say that i am obsessed with knitting is an understatement. not only did i knit my fingers to the bone in the run up to our christmas craft fairs, but i also continued to knit into the holidays and through the new year. it’s gotten to the point that i feel strange if i’m sitting down without any knitting needles in my hands. and i’m even thinking about using one of my many notebooks strictly for jotting down all sorts of knitting scribbles and ideas.

now, because i knit sooo many things to sell and give away as gifts, all but one of the projects featured in this post are for me. how cheeky is that? so without further ado…

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i knit myself 2 hats. both are very roomy, as i have quite a large head and bucket loads of hair. i’ve barely ever found a hat to fit me… and then i overestimated on these, so they are both too big. i still love them to pieces. and hey, it gives me an excuse to knit them again, adjust the pattern, and take notes in my knitting notebook! aha! both of these hats are based on several patterns on Ravelry.

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i also knit myself a neck warmer. it’s called Tudora, and the pattern can be found on Knitty. i doubled up on the yarn with this pattern, to make it more sturdy.

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and finally, i did knit something for someone else. my very patient husband asked me to knit him some fingerless mittens. he works from home and the little office tends to get very very cold during the winter months. he wanted to have ones that went over his knuckles, to keep them warm as he taps away on his computer. he seems a very happy and satisfied customer!

(you can find any extra details on all these projects on Ravelry, where my username is erinpower.)

labour of love

in amongst the frenetic activity surrounding these Christmas craft fairs and handmade markets, I somehow managed to complete a project which I had had on the go since around the beginning of the year.

When I was told my wonderful friend Kate was pregnant, I was overjoyed, and desperate to make something extra special for her and Paul’s baby, as it was sure to be extra special too. But what to make?  They both have very defined tastes, and I wanted to make something that would last and not become dated.  Not knowing the little bean would turn out eventually to be our sweet Tillie, I had to be careful with colours, and not choose something too girlie or boyish, not too garish, but rather something natural.

When I found this wool in the mecca that is the Tame Sewing Centre on Cape Fear Hill I knew it was right for Kate’s baby.  As I started the blanket (from Debbie Stoller’s Stitch and Bitch) I could see it was quite holey, so I undid it and started again with double strands, and the resultant fabric is gorgeously dense and soft, warm and cosy.  I really hope she’s gonna love it in years to come.  It’s just the right size for a pram/buggy now; for a snuggly to drag about like Linus in Snoopy; or for wrapping dolls in when she’s a bit bigger. 

It’s already seen some sights – it’s been to many a swimming lesson at Thimblemill pool, to a few birthday parties (yes, I can be anti-social – stop standing on my wool, small child!), to the Bearwood Tapestry and to anywhere where I thought I might squeeze in a few rows, as they were taking me around 10 minutes a time!

It reminds me a bit of Monet’s palette, so I am going to call it Claude (and not just because it might have been if I hadn’t discovered one of the cats making a beeline for it in the attic last night…).

for a mother and daughter…

a sweet young girl had a birthday recently, so i knitted her some little fingerless mittens as a gift.

for a mother and daughter...

 

for a mother and daughter...

 

i was inspired by my mother.  she knitted some for my little girl who loves them so much, she has barely taken them off since they came off the needles. i think she even slept with them on a few times.

so i think these little mittens are crowd pleasers because the young birthday girl’s mother commissioned me to knit her a matching adult version. luckily, the mini version was adapted from a pattern my mother had for an adult, so it was an easy task to complete.

for a mother and daughter...

believe it or not, i only use one 50g ball of Sirdar Click yarn for both of these projects. not bad, if i do say so myself.

dream the impossible dream

 

dream the impossible dream

 

and so, with crochet as my foe, even though my arms were weary, i tried to reach the unreachable. and you know what? its a piece of piss! I CAN CROCHET. here’s the proof. ok so this is a little weak, but it’s my very first attempt at ‘teach yourself to crochet at home by just making it up as you go along’.

dream the impossible dream

Jo, from the stirchley branch of the crafty muthahood, has been ‘struggling’, shall we say, to master the intricacies of crochet (though who needs crochet when you can make your own irish cream liqueur!) and has resorted to a children’s book for guidance. i was trying to grapple with her dainty workmanship at a recent crafty night (it was something as basic as pulling a hook through a loop i think) when it suddenly clicked. a light went on. the mist fell from my eyes. blah blah blah, as my youngest would say. i went home determined to try and beat this crochet thing. my second attempt was even prettier.

dream the impossible dream

 

then i made myself a cuff/bracelet because frankly its freezing and warm things around my pulse points are very appealing. i even managed this tiered effect by holding the work the wrong way round i think!

dream the impossible dream

and then i decided to really go for it and make a dinosaur for young sonny’s t-shirt. and this is what i love about crochet. you can just make it up. freestyle wherever you want to go. its just looping wool! that’s all! this isn’t the actual dinosaur i’m going to put on the t-shirt, i think i have a better one in me. i’m not even sure how to attach it, but you know what? who cares? i can make chains. i can double crochet. half treble, treble treble, heck i can even quindoodle (i made that up) but armed with wool, one little hook and no recognisable technique at all i can make stuff that pleases me. and that is why my friends, in a weird andy williams and yazz mash up style, having reached the unreachable star, for me, the only way is up.

i-cord i happy

as you may have gathered from ceri’s post about the crochet workshop some of us (me) don’t respond well to being taught. i left school at fifteen with some o levels but since then have pretty much picked up everything i know on my own. i like to find my own way, which is usually not the right way, but it’s how i like it. i’m just too old to change my ways now. i will return to crochet one day i’m sure, if i ever regain the use of my left hand, but feeling a bit of a failure after that session i decided to try i-cording instead. i just read the instructions on about .com (http://knitting.about.com/od/knittingskills/qt/icord.htm) way easier and useful too. so this little jean pocket bag which i made for ellie’s birthday combines both the abandoned crochet rings and an i-cord.

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what really pleased my simple mind was that when you turn the bag upside down you can pretend its a little house for your little people. that’s what i’d do if i was three anyway!

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now i want to share another fantastic recipe in response to ceri’s post about her failed lemon curd. this is not delia’s lemon curd. i’d normally turn to delia for the classics but this is unlike any other lemon curd recipe. easy and extremely lemony. i doubled it for christmas and still only got a few jars worth but this is so simple you could make it every week. i’m not going to write it all out – here’s the link. www.finecooking.com/recipes/lemon_curd.aspx you start off almost like making a cake which seems really weird but you end up with smooth un-curdled lusciousness perfect for filling cakes and mixing into yoghurt or ice-cream or just spreading on your toast. and if anyone reading this is coming to ‘the bearwood tapestry’ event on 18th feb you can sample some because i’m making a lemon curd drizzle cake.

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knit neck piece

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why yes, i did go to sainsbury’s and buy that top in teal. half price too! and i thought my experimental knit neck accessory thing might match.

a scarf for the queen mum!

a scarf for the queen mum!

 

i prefer not to, but sometimes i have to go into a shop. for instance, its november and scout has been refusing to take off her crocs. wellies for splashing in puddles fine. but she will not ever, never wear a pair of shoes that would constitute sensible seasonal wear. we’ve been through the shoe box and tried on all the cast offs and hand me downs. “they’re annoyinig me” she cries. so we went off to a shoe shop and came home with some shoes of the non-croc variety. its a miracle. but this is what i hate about the shops. we walked past a rack of woolly hats. she tried one on. it looked adorable. i bought it. socks too for the boy, so he doesn’t feel left out. where will it end? thing is, scout really needed a scarf too but even i, knitter un-extraordinaire, can knit a scarf. so i unpicked a square of wool i’d originally planned to make into a blanket (ha! like i actually thought i’d make a blanket. no instant gratification…no point when it comes to this crafty mutha!) its not a particularly long scarf, and its just plain knit on very big needles because that’s sort of all i can do without killing off any more brain cells. i trimmed it with a few rose pink buttons to match the corsage of the hat and i’m so pleased with it i’ve actually started on my own in black. but unlike scout, i won’t be rockin a queen mother look…hopefully.

a scarf for the queen mum!

 

now, as promised – denim, denim, denim, denim, denim…..i love it and i’ve had a lot of mileage out of my husband’s old fox jeans of late. this little bag for lovely lula’s birthday and these two prototype butterflies. i really just wanted an excuse to use the pocket lining because i loved the pattern. they’re not quite right but practice will hopefully make perfect.