Versatile Blogger Award

Last week Hannah nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award 🙂 I was really touched and pleased to know I have inspired her crafting, so thank you again!

The award comes with the following rules:

  • Thank the person who gave you this award;
  • Include a link to their blog;
  • Next, select 15 bloggers that you follow regularly or have recently discovered;
  • Nominate those bloggers for the Versatile blogger-award;
  • Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

My brain was frazzled last week with end of year data and wondering if kids in my class can count 9 or 10 things (frustratingly, it makes a big difference). But now that is all sorted, I have had time to have a proper look at my Google Reader account* so here are my nominations, in no particular order:

A Girl In Winter has only been sewing for 6 months, but has already made some lovely things. I wish I could have got such good fits in my first year of sewing.
Monkeysocks hasn’t posted for a while (busy with uni work) but I love reading about her pile of UFOs as it makes me feel less guilty about mine!
Did You Make That? Karen is a great sewer who isn’t afraid to make mistakes and her posts are always fun
Pincushion treats has made some fun clothes (lobster skirt!) and I like seeing all the different variations of tried-and-tested patterns.
Matin Lapin posts mini galleries of gorgeous etsy-finds – very inspiring but potentially purse-damaging!
Struggle Sews a Seam always makes me smile – her posts ooze character and fun. And she sews lovely clothes too!
Gingermakes posted an inspiring blog about dying fabric using natural materials recently.
So Zo has such an inspiring attitude towards recycling and materialism.
Scruffy Badger makes great clothes and is fun!
Crayons and Milk has the cutest photos of her little crochet creatures (see the bumble bees!)
Sew Smug has lots of great tutorials and makes loads of fun bunting 🙂
Yes, I like that makes the type of clothes I like and want to make myself-  classic casual pieces, in nice fabrics – I like seeing high-fashion inspiration, but it is nice to see things I could actually wear myself!
Teen Granny is 16 and spends her time knitting and baking. I wish blogs were around when I was 16, so I could have discovered how cool I was at the time instead of spending years feeling abnormal for my love of craft!
Pillows A-La-Mode has some great tips, like this one for organising bobbins!

So now for 7 facts about me:

  1. I hate toes and always have to have my toenails painted. Yesterday I wore sandals and realised I had naked toenails, and felt weird all day.
  2. I keep things “just in case” and get criticised by my dad and my deputy head at school for this. One of my best work moments this year was when the deputy asked if I had any tracing paper his class could borrow, and I replied that yes, I did have some in my cupboard, that I had rescued a few months earlier when he was clearing out the stock-room. I knew it would be useful!
  3. I accidentally set fire to my kitchen a few months ago while baking a birthday cake – greaseproof paper caught fire, I threw it in the sink but a tiny bit didn’t get extinguished and melted a hole in my washing-up bowl. The smoke alarm didn’t go off because I opened the window, turned on the extractor fan and did lots of tea-towel waving; this is why I am extra annoyed when people in my building set the fire alarms off at 1am!
  4. I am annoying everyone by complaining about my age – next month I am no longer officially a young person (holder of a 16-25 railcard) and will have to start paying full price train fares.
  5. My birth-certificate may say I am 26 but mentally I am nearer to 56 – my radio is set to Radio 4, I like doing puzzles before I go to sleep, and one of the reasons I like shopping in John Lewis is because it is nice and quiet and I can hear myself think!
  6. I find it hard to “do nothing” – I can’t sit and watch tv without doing something else, whether it is sewing, crochet or a sudoku.
  7. I usually agonise over minute decisions and check everything lots of times, but when it comes to crafting I jump in impulsively and get started. I currently have at least 6 different projects on the go.

* I usually read blogs on Google Reader, downloading latest posts as I walk to the tube and then reading them on my journey home. However this makes it hard to comment on what I read. What apps (Android please!) do you use to read blogs? Do they let you comment easily?

SALE shopping (aka Should Alison Learn to Escape shopping)

I feel like I need to add lots of background information to this post to justify what I am going to say (and ease the guilt).

Count them – TWO big bags…

Since last autumn I have bought no more than 4 or 5 items of clothing, and most of these have been knitwear. My sewing had got to the stage where I would try clothes on and think “I could make this” or “This doesn’t fit properly” and so I decided I wouldn’t buy clothes that I can make myself. At this point the list of shop-bought possibilities included underwear, coats, shoes and cardigans.

As a teenager I knitted a jumper and a cardigan, but they didn’t get much wear as they were very chunky and I now know that chunky knits are definitely not the most flattering choice for me. I really want to knit a wearable cardigan, to add to my wardrobe and to prove to myself that I do actually have the patience for it, so a few weeks ago I picked up a pattern book, and then have spent weeks pondering over different yarns online. The only problem is that for a cardigan to fit me, made in good quality yarns, the cost adds up; £5ish for a 50g ball, times 12 or so balls depending on the style, quickly gets pricey.

So, with all that background information, I can proceed to share my not-so-impulsive sale shopping! A friend informed me that there was a sale at John Lewis, and since I was passing through Oxford Circus I thought I should pop in..

First thing I put in my basket (yup, I had a basket on wheels and I filled it!) was this gorgeous shade of 4-ply chain yarn. It is cotton, linen and viscose and has at least 4 subtle shades of yummy purples. I’m slightly scared of the weight of this yarn, due to my tendency to get finger-cramp when knitting on thin needles, but the colour was just too perfect to resist at half price (enough for a cardigan at £40 instead of £80)

Next I loved the vibrant colour of this cotton blend. There was someone else hovering around it for ages and we discussed how bright it would be in a garment under natural light, but it was too good to pass; on getting it home I discovered is almost the same shade as a slightly sad-looking cardigan I’ve had for years, which I love wearing in summer to add a pop of colour to a simple outfit. This is aran weight and came to under £30 for enough for a cardigan, which competes with shop bought prices 🙂 *

Finally I couldn’t resist the delicious colour of this yarn, and the silk and cashmere make it lovely to touch. I don’t think the colour comes across properly (although I did work out how to reset the white balance and exposure on my camera) is a cherry pinky-red – too red to be deep fuscia but not quite red.

Now I need to match up these yarns with patterns. All three yarn colours will fit in with my current wardrobe, however they are not winter-weight so I may need to get a move on with my knitting so I can wear them in autumn. My favourite from my Cherished book is the Skylark, but I don’t think it is a good pattern for a first cardigan! I’m really tempted to try Miette on ravelry.com but first I need to get some long/circular needles (looking at the weather outside that wont be today!). Jumper knitters, what do you knit with? What is the best way to hold 100s of stitches safely?

I also grabbed some eco cotton in white and lemon to make a present for a friend’s baby (gender not yet known**) and a few fabric remnants from a huge basket – we were having to reach in and pull handfuls to the top as the basket was so deep. A few of these are pretty-must-get-just-in-case fabrics, and some have a purpose in mind.

There is a metre of purple jersey for a simple summer top, two lovely cotton prints to add to my stash (or use for my new favourite detail – contrasting secret pockets), some thick grey felt that can always be useful and some white linen for embroidering onto. Oh, and a glow-in-the dark skeleton window sticker for when we next have a doctor/hospital role play in my classroom. I also picked up my new sunglasses – one classic tortoiseshell pair and one fun purple pair – and managed to wear them for a few hours at the school summer fair (before the rain came out of course!)

Hope you have all had a fun (and maybe more frugal) weekend.

*I really need to stop comparing prices of my makes with what I would spent on RTW in a shop – handmade garments made with care from quality materials, and providing me with hours of crafting enjoyment, are obviously worth more than mass produced fast fashion so I need to start comparing like with like.

** I totally understand the reasons for not knowing the gender of a baby before it is born, and love that it can limit the amount of stereotyping if people are forced to get neutral clothes and gifts, but at the same time I find it hard as so much fabric and patterns are designed for baby boys or girls. When I made a basket liner for a colleague’s baby, I spent hours searching for a nursery print that wasn’t pink or blue, and gave up and picked a normal print – is there a market for cute baby animal prints in neutral and natural colours?

*** Do you like the photo montages? I have always wondered how everyone does such great photo layouts on their blogs, and then Shivani introduced me to picmonkey which is so simple to use. I can finally have rounded corners on my pictures! 😀 I am obviously not going to spend all day exploring it, when I have a class worth of reports to write by next week, am I?