Friday, 27 November 2015

House Renovation :: Week 6 ::

This week has been super productive. On Sunday we ripped up the last carpet. We'd left this one as there was a storage heater in the way. So we took this apart and pulled out all the stones (these things are ridiculously heavy) we revealed yet more beautifully kept floorboards and a scrap of gorgeous lino.

 The plumbers started and took no time to start ripping out all the old unwanted things. On Monday they removed both water tanks, the entire bathroom suite, including the bath, not only did the bath go, it had to be broken in 2 in order to get it out! I'm sure replacing the bath will turn out to be the best decision, but I can't help feeling a little sad. I am happy though that a scrapman knocked the door on Wedsnesday and asked if he could take it, along with some other scrap metal. I'm pleased it lined his pockets a little and will be recycled.

When I arrived on Tuesday morning all the radiators were in place and by Wednesday the boiler was on the wall.

I've started painting in order to get the radiator walls done before the radiators are permanently in place. I've also finished getting all the tiles off the bathroom walls along with the tile adhesive. I used a screwdriver and hammer to pop the tiles off and my trusty steamer and scraper on the adhesive. It was messy work but easier than I expected.

I also tried my hand at plastering to try and fix a big hole on the bathroom wall. It wasn't perfect but I think it's going to be OK after a bit of sanding. YouTube is a dangerous thing and I'm also convinced I can tile the whole room myself now! I headed to Fired Earth in the week to pick up some tiles, these are just to help us with decision making, we're still very much deciding how things are going to go, but I'm fairly sure these are the tiles we're going with.

We have however chosen our entire bathroom suite after a couple of painful evenings where Johnny and I attempted to find items we both liked!
Next week the electricians start and the gas meter goes in and I'm hoping the bathroom will be done (minus the tiling).

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Crafting 356 :: 8-14 ::

Week 2 of my crafting 365 and I'm doing pretty well. The biggest problem I have is that most of my crafting takes place in the evening, when the light is rubbish and my phone battery is most likely to be exhausted for the day. What I've been trying to do to catch up is photograph my work the following day, so at least I can share what I did if not the actual crafting at the time it takes place.
This week I worked on ::
Arlo Cardigan for Milo, this is so close to finished now, it really should have been on his back this week! Only the seaming left to do and a little bit of blocking on the collar, next week hopefully.

A secret project for the Design Wars Challenge.

Another secret(ish) project, which I hope will be a crochet pattern for the blog.

Some giant polymer clay beads, which will become a blog tutorial soon.

I sewed up a felt lollipop at the Handmade Christmas Fair at the weekend.

Cast on another Hitchhiker Shawl, just because I wanted some train knitting.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Finding Inspiration :: Gifts for Harry Potter Fans ::

So as Milo and I are drawing towards the end of the Harry Potter series (remember how I wasn't sure if we would read past the third book originally!) and I'm starting to think about his Christmas gifts, I can't help but drawn into anything Harry Potter related. He is pretty obsessed at the moment and I know he would love nothing more than a stocking full of Harry Potter goodies. So here are a few of my favourite finds from UK etsy sellers ::

For more inspiration for gifts from UK etsy sellers take a look at my pinterest board and the Etsy gift guide series

Friday, 20 November 2015

Works in Progress :: Arlo Cardigan ::

I started knitting this cardigan way back in the summer after Milo declared, in the midst school uniform shopping, 'you can knit me a school jumper if you like'. I was thrilled to say the least. I never imagined I would be finished in time for school to start but didn't think it would take quite as long as it has either. Mostly I think the delay can be apportioned to lots of work commitments, I've so wanted to get it finished for him, but I must say I think that knitting a garment in pieces just isn't really my thing. I know there are lots of reasons why it can achieve better results, but I just prefer to knit without seams!

However I am getting there, all the main pieces are knitted up and blocked. All that's left to do now is seam and knit on the collar/button band, which I just started this morning. I'm hopeful he'll be wearing it soon, partly so I don't have to keep answering 'soon' to his regular, 'when's my jumper going to be ready?' questioning.

Pattern is Arlo by Michelle Wang from the Brooklyn Tweed Kids Collection.
Yarn is Patons Extrafine Merino DK (held double) in wine.

House Renovation :: Week 5 ::

This week has been quite exciting, over the weekend the plumber came to measure up for the radiators and we finished stripping the wallpaper from the ceiling in the living room (apart from 2 missed patches and a bit at the highest point on the landing we're pretty much done with that all consuming task now), we also cleared (nearly) all of the leaves from the front garden.
On Monday the gas was connected. It's not connected to anything yet, but it's there.
I started lifting the lino in the kitchen to reveal the gorgeous quarry tiles underneath. This is not an easy task, but it's so rewarding. I've just been using the steamer and the wallpaper scraper and so far this seems to be working really well.

I've also started removing the tiles from the bathroom ready for the plumber, this is much easier than I anticipated, I've just been using a hammer and a screwdriver and they're just popping right off the wall. I've also taken on the task of cleaning the original bathtub. We were just going to replace it with a new one, but the more I thought about it the more I decided I wanted to keep it, if it was repairable. It's an enamel cast iron tub and was filthy and badly limescaled. I read about a product you can use to resurface tubs, but at £75 it seemed that it would probably make more sense just to replace it. But then I decided to give it a scrub. I used bicarbonate of soda and vinegar and oh my gosh what a difference it made. The majority of the bath scrubbed up beautifully, though some limescale remained and it certainly didn't need resurfacing. I've since applied some limescale remover and even given it a sand with some fine sandpaper. The sandpaper was the best tool, the limescale has completely gone and the bath is now glowing. Now it's all clean I'm going to give it a thorough bleach and then see if I can convince Johnny to keep it. I have no real attachment to the tub, I just hate the thought of sending something so big to the tip when it's still got some life in it. There is one problem however, the source of the limescale seems to come from a little well just before the plughole, meaning that the water pools here rather than draining away. I'm going to see if the plumber can lift the other end just a little bit so that the water will drain easier. We'll see, Johnny's not really onboard with the idea, so it may end up at the tip yet, but at least I've tried!

In other exciting news, we've taken deliver of the bathroom floor and the sink this week. I'm fairly sure that once the heating is in and the bathroom is done, it will really start to feel like we are getting somewhere. A lot of this week it has felt like a never ending task.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Crafting 365 :: 1-7 ::

You may have read last week about the challenge I set myself to craft every day, well I really do craft every day so the challenge is really to document the crafting. If you follow me on Instagram you'll have seen my pictures popping up daily, I was actually a day late with yesterday's but it's there now.

So here is what I go up to ::

I finished 1 project (well actually I finished 2 but one is a secret!), which was my neon shawl, using the gorgeous Techno Boom yarn from Pollyorange. I was making this for myself but it looks super cute on Effie, so I think it's been rehomed. I will share the pattern for this super simple garter knit shawl on the blog soon.

I worked on 3 different work projects.

I finished the main knitting for the Arlo cardigan I'm knitting as a school sweater for Milo (spurred on by the fact the mr said I couldn't start any sewing projects until I finished this). It's currently soaking ready for blocking, seaming and the knitting of the button band.

I printed off and read the instructions for the dungaree dress from Marilla Walker's Roberts Collection. I'm really hoping to get this whipped up to wear to the Handmade Fair this weekend. I wouldn't hold your breath, but you never know!

If you want to join in, please do, it's been lovely seeing everyone else's projects this week. There's no official start date, just jump on in whenever you like (though I would recommend numbering your photos so you can keep track of where you are in the 365 days), simply craft, capture, share, use the hashtag #crafting365.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Finding Inspiration :: UK Indie Dyers ::

When I was searching through etsy last week to hunt out some gifts for the yarn lover in your life, I couldn't help but find a huge cache of gorgeous hand dyed yarns from UK etsy sellers. So many I felt that they deserved their own gift guide. I can't imagine any knitter or crocheter could think of a better gift than skien of delicious hand dyed yarn!

Here are just a few of my favourites, again this is pretty much a guide to what I would like for Christmas!

1. Fruit Salad (Aran weight, 50% silk, 50% merino) by Six Skiens
2. Nightcrawler (4ply, 100% merino) by Third Vault Yarns
3. Ghost (DK, 100% merino) by Yan Tan Tethera Yarns
4. Yorkshire Rose Smoothie  by Wharfdale Woolworks
5. Rumble (4ply, 100% merino) by Moonlight Yarns
6. Pastel Rainbow Set (sock weight, 100% merino) by Hand-Dyed by Kate
7. Oh Clouds (sock weight, 75% merino, 25% nylon) by Burrow and Soar
8. Scoobies (DK 100% Blue Faced Leicester) by Felt Fusion
9. High Twist (4ply 80% merino, 20% nylon) by I Love Pink Geraniums 

For more inspiration for gifts from UK etsy sellers take a look at my pinterest board. and the Etsy gift guide series

Friday, 13 November 2015

House Renovation :: Week 4 ::

It doesn't seem as though there is much to show for this week really, though I have been down to the house a lot and working a fair bit. The last little bits of wallpaper removal are time consuming and mostly everything else I've been doing is cleaning.

I managed to fix the electricity problem myself, which was great, because it saved me the cost of an electrician plus it meant I could get back to work. It was a actually a very simple solution, the stop cock, which we have only been turning on occasionally when we need it, was dripping and where a cloth had been tied around it, it was dripping directly on to the wall which housed a plug socket, it was an empty socket but it was switched on. I turned it off (making sure all electric was off first obviously) and the problem was solved.

A lot of time this week has been devoted to working out our bathroom plans. I'm finding having to make decisions a super stressful affair. Bathroom suites and tiles are not like paints, they cannot be changed at the drop of hat! Having said that I am glad that we've decided to paint everything white to begin with. Choosing paint colours on top of everything else would just be much too much!

I very excitedly stumbled across the Fired Earth store in Cheltenham this week. I did know it was there but as I've never needed it before I just hadn't really registered in my head. I squealed with joy when I noticed it and spent quite some time admiring all the beautiful tiles. So much nicer in real life than on the pages of a magazine or on a computer screen. Johnny and I are no where near any kind of agreement on these things yet, but I hopeful we'll find something we both like soon enough. We're also struggling with the idea that we should create something that's neutral and easy to resell, versus something that is totally ours and we love. I think I'm veering towards just doing what we love. We may decide to sell in a couple of years, but we may still be living in there in 10, in which case we'll have lived in a house that feels as little like ours for all that time as all the rental houses we've lived in.

We've chosen our radiators now and we have gas being connected next week, so hopefully by next Friday there will be more to show. You never know we may even have heating and the bones of a bathroom.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Works in Progress :: Neon Shawl ::

Back in June, when I headed off to Blogtacular for the weekend, I was in need of a super simple knitting project. Something I could work on whilst being filled with inspiration at the event and something I could use to entertain myself whilst travelling. I had nothing of the sort already on my needles (promise), so I grabbed this gorgeous skein of Pollyorange yarn and set to knitting.

After a few false starts and a bit of frogging I started work on a super simple garter stitch shawl. It's perfectly simple, easy to work on and yet satisfying to knit, plus the perfect blank canvas to showcase this beautiful yarn.

I am so in love with this project and cannot wait to get it cast off, unfortunately lots of work commitments meant it fell to the back of the queue recently, but a couple of weeks ago Milo and I headed out to see Big Hero 6 at the cinema and once again simple garter stitch was required and so out it came.

I really don't have a lot of yarn left to knit with so I'm hoping I'll get it finished soon, I'd really love to save enough for a pair of socks for Effie too! 

Yarn is Techno Boom sock yarn by Pollyorange
Pattern is my own, but I'll share it once I get the shawl finished.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Crafting 365 ::

Many years ago, before we had Instagram or pinterest, I attempted a crafting 365. Back in those days this kind of photo sharing task took place on Flickr and on my blog. I can't remember how far into those 365 days I got, but I know that I did not manage to get to 365. However there is very very rarely a day that goes by where I do not craft. It would not be difficult for me to craft every day for 365 days, even if I only manage a couple of stitches on a row of knitting, some kind of crafting will take place. The tricky part is remembering to take a few moments to capture what I'm working on and share it.

So I'm going to have another go at the whole 365 days of crafting challenge. Now I have a camera on my person at all times (in the form of my phone) another addition to our lives since back when I attempted this the first time round, I feel this should be a simpler task.

I'll be sharing daily photos on Instagram, with a weekly update over here.

Fancy joining in? Please do, I'd love some moral support! Simply share your daily craft over on Instagram and hashtag #crafting365 so we can all admire each others handiwork.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

House Renovating :: Week 3 ::

This week has been a bit slower than the others. It started well, with a weekend of lots of hard work (Milo has been mostly busy his vegetable patch!), but ended badly with a few missed days and the discovery that the ancient electrics have decided to stop working. We do of course have an electrician booked in at the end of the month for a complete rewire, but in the meantime that means no wallpaper stripper, no sander and not even any hot water for cleaning. So basically there's nothing we can do for the time being. Fortunately my lovely electrician has said he can come and have a quick look next week incase it's a simple fix, to at least give us power until the full rewire is done. The plumber is booked in before this and I fear we'll have to reschedule that if the electrics are still playing up.


We also discovered that the wallpaper in the hallway appears to have been applied with superglue or wheatabix or some other ridiculous substance that is clinging to the walls after the paper has been removed. I was trying to strip it right back but I'm taking the plaster with it unintentionally quite a bit, so now I've decided to try sanding it down instead, that seems like a safer option, I'll let you know how I get on once the power has returned.

In other unfortunate wallpaper news, as I moved on to the final room to strip of wallpaper, all excited and arrogantly declaring 'this room is pretty much done, won't take any time at all', I discovered that what I originally thought was the wall, is actually a whole other layer of wallpaper thickly covered in paint. Seriously this house has made me despise wall paper and all those who use it!

In good news, there was some at least, all tradesmen have confirmed start dates and it's looking promising that all will done by Christmas. Not only that the electrician has said that we can (probably) keep our original light switches after all. I could have cried with joy when he told me. I'm so glad I persevered and researched after he originally said it wouldn't be possible.

Trying to remain positive and upbeat and putting all glumness down to the dreadful weather we've had this week. Fingers crossed for electricity returning and lots of work next week.

Finding Inspiration :: Gifts for Yarn Lovers ::

As Christmas begins to near, I've started to think of gift buying and thought I would revive my gift guide series from last year, featuring gift ideas from UK etsy sellers. There are so many fabulously talented UK based sellers on etsy that there is a lot to showcase.

Today I'm looking for gifts for the yarn lovers in your life, basically this is a list of all the things I would like for Christmas!

1. Personalised Yarn Ball Keychain from Doodle Pop Designs
2. Wool Knitting Earrings from Max's World
3. Knitting Mug from Kelly Connor Designs
4. Knitting Needle Ring from Yellow Bear Wares
5. Wool Yarn Bowl from Little Wren Pottery
6. Silver Bird Pin from Ross and Ross

For more ideas for gifts from UK etsy sellers you can take a look at my pinterest board.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Circle Cowl ::

My circle cowl designed for this weeks Design Wars Challenge is available to purchase and from now until Sunday you can get 50% off with coupon code DWSALE

It's a perfect last minute gift idea and as it only uses 1 skien it won't break the bank either.

Pattern is available here, yarn here.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Christmas Handmade Fair ::

I'm so excited to be planning a trip to Manchester later this month to attend Kirstie Allsopp's Christmas Handmade Fair. One of my lovely Craft Night friends attended the fair earlier in the year and I was so jealous of her tales and gorgeous crafty goodies.

This special Christmas fair looks set to be an amazing event, full of workshops featuring all manner of crafty pursuits, Q&A sessions with lots of crafty experts and masters, 'grand make' sessions where you get to create with 200 likeminded crafters and wonderful sounding shopping village, perfect for finding special and one off gifts for the festive season.

Each 'Full Experience' ticket includes 3 crafty sessions, you get one 'Super Theatre' session, one 'Skills Workshop' session and one 'Grand Make' session. Though choosing one from each of these categories is going to be a challenge, I've yet to decide which I'm going to but I'm working on a shortlist. But with superstar crafters like Lucy from Attic 24, Kirsty Hartley of Wild Things, Jane Means (wrapping guru) and workshops ranging from knitting to needle felting to paper cutting to upholstery it's not going to be easy!

I am unbelievably excited and simply cannot wait to spend a day crafting, shopping and hanging out with lovely folks.

If you'd like to come along yourself I'm pleased to say I have an offer for you, you can get £5 off a full experience ticket (which entitles you to 3 of the sessions).

Use code VICKIB20 and get your ticket for £20 instead of £25. 

Which considering all the wonderful sessions to choose from is a massive bargain in my opinion.

Tickets available here ::

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Design Wars : 1 Skien Cowl ::

I'm taking part in another round of the Design Wars Challenge, this week I'm up against Design Wars founder Salena Baca and our theme was '1 Skien Cowl', we both used Red Heart Yarns Boutique Unforgettable.

I really love this yarn, despite being 100% acrylic it's so soft, it almost feels as though it has a silk content, but it was the colours that really won me over.

My design is a cowl that uses front post treble stitches to create a stretchy ribbed edge, and filet crochet techniques to create a circle pattern on the main body of the cowl. It's snuggly and cosy and oh so soft next to skin.

I was lucky enough to have a model in the shape of my gorgeous niece too, which makes a change from me trying to direct Johnny to take photos of me!

Salena's cowl uses a gorgeous open lacework stitch which really shows off the yarn.

The patterns will be available from Thursday but in the meantime you can cast the vote for your favourites over here.
And find the ravelry listings here (mine) and here (Salena's).

Monday, 2 November 2015

Finding Inspiration :: 1930's Bathrooms ::

1930's bathroom inspriations

The big thing I'm finding about renovating a house is all the decision making that you have to do. As we've never owned our own house before, let alone completely redesigned one, we are not used to even having to choose paint colours, let alone flooring, tiles, bathroom suites, radiators and so many more little and big things I never even thought about before. Add this new found decision making to a couple who have incredibly different tastes and a need to get things done as quickly as possible and it makes for all sorts of problems! Fortunately, the kitchen is remaining as it is until after we've moved in, so our biggest deadline for reaching agreement on styles and design, is the bathroom. As the house retains so much of it's original 1930s features, I'd love to create a bathroom that reflects this. Either with minty wall tiles, edged in black with a black and white floor or tiled walls reminiscent of the early underground stations, with brickwork style tiling in white with a bright teal row around the bottom. Johnny is not a fan of either of these ideas, so whilst we continue in our attempts to find something we both agree on, here are a few of my favourites that he so passionately dislikes! 
Click the photos for the sources.

1930's bathroom inspriations

1930's bathroom inspriations

1930's bathroom inspriation

Enough dreaming, I must return to the important radiator debate!