The Non Yarn Gift Guide for Knitters and Crocheters.

It was while ordering needles this week that I realised my notions and the bits and pieces around my crafting needs some serious addressing. I have a delicious stash that I cultivate from time to time but what I am serious lacking is a full arsenal of needles, knitting pouches to keep my wips in and several bits and pieces to make things run a little smoother. Some of my notions are a bit.... Macgyver? Booby pins for stitch holders are functional but don't exactly make my heart sing!

I had a very serendipitous moment when Anj from Meadow Yarns reached out to suggest sponsorship across the month of December. I jumped on it because I've ordered a few times from this fine online store and found it well stocked, fast on delivery and Anj was great at talking me through what I needed help with. So together we hatched some enabling- a perfect prize for the MEalong running right up till Christmas Eve and this list to place not so subtly in front of your nearest and dearest. 

While there's something to be said for a carefully packaged skein (or 3) of yarn, I've yet to meet a non knitter who could grab me just the right shade of sock yarn vs something special for a hat. So here's my favourite non yarn gifts that I've added to my Christmas wishlist this year- thanks for the enabling Anj!

For the knitter who likes a challenge?

sirka counter

The Sirka Counter:  This little gadget fits snugly in your project bag and was specifically developed for those more complex instructions that ask for you to repeat counts simultaneously and keep track of multiple rows. There's 3 'crowns' that layer up to be clicked into position each time you need to count a different layer of instructions. It's pretty stylish too and there's colour coding which makes my highly visual  self happy. 

For the sock knitters/ photographers?

knit pro sock blocker

The Knit Pro Sock Blockers: I've wanted some of these for ages. I simply don't take good enough pictures of my socks and all that time and effort can feel a bit wasted during the 'ta DAH!' moment when I show them off. Also I hear blocking fixes a lot of the scruffy stitches you might have spoiling your pretty finished object. I approve. 

For Lace lovers and the tech adverse?

magma pattern keeper

The Magma Knitting Chart Keeper: I often use a quick iphone app to track my knitting these days but I'll confess something to you- I've used this pattern keeper over and over again. It's whenever I need charts that I find myself turning from tech and going old school. I love to have the chart big enough to actually see each little stitch box (the keeper folds out to A4 size), Also, I can prop it up if I leave it folded in half and the magnet trackers are brilliant unless the Tot gleefully finds them. 

That little something?

frippery and bibelot ringos

Fripperies and Bibelots- RingOs: I adore these. The stitchmarkers don't catch on the needles or yarn and slide pleasingly along your work as you stitch away. The tin is designed modestly but I find it super pretty. Again, it's a toddler magnet though. Don't say I didn't warn you!

That bigger something?

oak yarn swift

The Meadow Yarn Oak Yarn Swift: I love the story behind this and I love the craft quality! These swifts are handmade in the studio that is directly under Meadow Yarns and are beautiful to behold. The problem I have with my swift is that it needs clamping but this one solves that problem as it's designed to sit on the table top and won't jump around because of it's rubber feet. Clever!

The perfect precision needles?

hiya hiya interchangeable

Hiya Hiya Sharps- interchangeable: I am a massive fan of Hiya Hiyas. Infact, you'll be hearing me chat all about Hiya Hiya Sharps this weekend on the podcast because I ordered some in the hope the precision point and smooth cord will ease my RSI. I think interchangeable sets are really handy and I regret not plumping for these last Christmas as the join has a specially designed cuff to stop it coming loose- a problem I've found with a lot of interchangeables as I magic loop a lot.  

And if all else fails?

Gift Certificates: No really, hear me out on this one. I don't understand why gift vouchers have become such a dirty present?!?! I would love to treat myself to a no holds barred shopping experience in a yarn store. Fine, if I had a voucher for itunes or something I'd be less than thrilled but come on- knitting and credit? That's perfectly acceptable in my book. 

What's on your Christmas list this year?

 

 

~Anj has also kindly donated the winner's choice of 3 bestselling products for the MEalong- come check it out! 

 

 

Guest Post: Tilly Flop

Ever since pom pom released their Winter '14 preview, I've craving afternoons in the pub, reading the food supplements from all of the newspapers and knitting, knitting, knitting. You might be surprised to hear that making this happen with a newly two year old is next to impossible so I hooked up with a fellow knitter and local girl, Julie from TillyFlop and asked her to tell us about her favourite South London spots to knit and indulge.

There's also a fab offer-  FREE P&P in her Etsy shop of craft related wonder until the end of November 2014. Just keep reading down to find the code- Thanks Julie!

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Thank you A Playful Day for asking me to share a few of my favourite places around my ‘hood. 

I am lucky enough to live and work around London Bridge and have done so for 20 years now. It really is a fascinating area to live in and so much of it’s earlier history [Bermondsey was London’s main leather working centre] is still apparent in street and building names today: we have The Leather and Wool Exchange, The Leathermarket [sadly now all offices], Morocco Street and Tanner Street … the list goes on and on … though today’s Bermondsey is a far cry from the slum it once was. We now have The Shard on our doorstep, the White Cube has recently opened, but Manze’s Pie and Mash still does a great trade on Tower Bridge Road and every Friday at dawn the antiques market sets up for trading with its history of march overt and though the Design Museum is about to leave, we still have the glorious stretch of river from there to the Royal Festival Hall. 

Just moments from all this wonderful hustle and bustle you will find our spot - and one of my favourite places: appropriately named Simon the Tanner - you’ll find this pub on Long Lane, at the Bermondsey Street end. It’s a proper local boozer and part of a chain of, well, just three. They have a great selection of local draught and bottled beers including the delicious Kernel [a Bermondsey brew]. The food there is simple and tasty … and they also have the bonus attraction of being the location of our Stitch and Bitch nights. And they collect all our remnants at the end of every session and save them … we’re not sure why … 

Another favourite spot I like to hang out [and bearing in mind my knit and textile obsession] is the Fashion and Textile Museum on Bermondsey Street. Now you’d be hard pushed to miss this pink and orange building nestled amongst the council blocks and renovated office spaces. Currently showing a Knitwear exhibition in its gallery space, it also is home to a Tea pod which serves [not unsurprisingly a super range of teas] and lovely food. It also has a small but very well curated shop so it’s an extra bonus to your visit here. And the current exhibition is all about Knitwear … in case you missed that. That’s knitting …

Another favourite place is one I visit almost every day as my studio is right over it and it belongs to a dear friend, Baker & Maker if you like to bake anything from cupcakes and biscuits to show-stopping cakes, I can guarantee you could lose an hour or so here browsing … and maybe leave with rather a large bag. With hundreds and hundreds of different gifts and foodie items, it’s hard not to. And this is another true independent shop which also stocks Tilly Flop cards - well worth a visit [and you don’t have to buy any cards … this time].

And talking of Tilly Flop cards [didn’t you notice how I slipped that one in there?] how do you fancy completely and utterly FREE P&P in my etsy shop until the end of November … and that’s on everything, all over the world … just put in code: APDNOV14. Lots of cards and prints for all you knitterly folk and crafty types, including the new ‘crafty cube’ card .. the first in a series, so watch this space! And everyone who takes up this offer will have their names placed in a woolly hat and the winner will get some extra TillyFlop goodies sent to them in early December ...

So I’m looking forward to bumping into you around the ‘hood … do say hello … and mine’s a pint of Kernel! To keep up with TillyFlop shenanigans, knitterly news, offers and new stuff, wherever you are - pop over to https://www.facebook.com/tillyflopdesigns … 

Handspun Heaven

Right before Christmas, I received a package that can only be described as an early Christmas present. Nestled amongst samples of Lo-Lo hand balms, David's teas and some pretty yummy chocolates were these two fabulous skeins. Let me tell you, pictures in the current monsoon weather we're enjoying, do NOT do them justice.

This has left me with two dilemmas. First, what on earth should I knit with them? I adore handspun but thus far it's all gone into the 'Golden Stash', the collection of skeins too precious to pick the perfect project for. I do not want this to happen but yet.... they're perfection itself. Any ideas?

The second problem is the issue of how does one reciprocate? I want something so amazingly mind blowing that the person knows how much I understand the value of handspun.

I wonder how much Benedict Cumberbatch is going for these days?