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! 

 

 

MEalong aka the along that changed names

Sometimes you have this growing feeling that things are about to change. This time it was the knitalong. First there was a post about using more than one skein as long as they were partials. Then yardage. Then stripes. Then stripes that definitely called for 2 skeins. By this point I was wondering if I'd been mean saying 'just one little skein'. Then I was watching The Knitgirllls podcast and Leslie and Laura pointed out that selfish knitting sounds unpleasant. Like knitting for yourself is a bad thing. It's not! 

So I listened, I pondered and I CHANGED THE KNITALONG. Yes, 5 days in and I'm changing stuff already. These things happen. Roll with them I say. 

The Selfish Single Skein along is now the MEalong and here's more information just to clarify:

It's time to get indulgent.....

  • You can squeak in just a little single skeinner in all that gift knitting, ah go on!
  • Use this KAL as a much needed calm inviting place from all the crazy that can be the holiday build up
  • SSSalong (that I can’t say anyway) just became #MEalong
  • Anything between 200 yards and 800 yards counts
  • Cast on was 21st November so no wips please!
  • Entries by Christmas Eve 
  • There will be prizes- whoop!
Jane  by Jane Richmond is my pattern choice

Jane by Jane Richmond is my pattern choice

Got it? Good. Now come tell me what you're knitting. I still haven't caked my yarn. Whoops!

HarvestCal14 Inspirations: Little Ones

Good morning all, how was your weekend? Good, I hope? Ours was pretty soothing, full of plenty of outdoor time which was much needed for all of us I think. It really brought home the fact that Autumn is creeping in as all the leaves are starting to drop and change colour and we've been collecting conkers and pine cones everywhere we go. 

It meant that this morning, putting a list of toddler activity prompts together that were Autumn inspired has been spot on for my mood. Some of these have gone straight into the 'must try this week' category. I've been using Pinterest activities more and more and I think I'll do a Playful Parenting segment on the podcast again soon about handy things to stock up on so you're ready to go whenever you see an activity idea that you really like. I keep things pretty basic around here as I am pretty low on time to prep, tidy up or store tonnes of options for play so these activities are pretty low on equipment needs too. 


Sensory Play

This great list of ideas via This Girl's Canon includes one of my favourite sensory tub ideas. We keep in a tub from Ikea that I fill from time to time with different activities like Cloud Dough, water play or shredded paper begged from the Giant's office. This one seems low cost and mostly made up of found objects (ie free). Perfect. 

Have water, will play. The Tot just loves water play and this twist via b-inspiredmam is a great seasonal idea. Time to get out that splashsuit though- naked water play is something we shall surely miss from Summer!

Sowsproutplay.com- I'm would take this wonderful pinecone painting activity outdoors because there's no way on earth this mess would fly indoors. Working from home, I can't have too much mess inside as my "office" doesn't work well with glitter and sand and I hate worrying about mess when the Tot should be just exploring. I need hoses and a quick tub of things for speedy clean ups. Also? How big are these pinecones?!?!? I love the spiced paint element too. 

 

Outdoor Play

Leaves, a few pipe cleaners and welly boots is all this threading activity takes. I love it and have just text a friend for a play date where we do this with our Tots. Thanking How Wee Learn for the inspiration of taking our obsessive collecting a step further. 

Add a little scavenging to your nature walk with a colour focus via Glitter Muffins. With so much interest in matching and sorting, I think I will be making a version of this without the fancy artist palette. A sturdy piece of card and some felt tips should be enough to get us started with a prompt. A great morning's activity I'm sure. 

Mud Kitchens- have you discovered the magic of these yet? I have to admit, I had my reservations as mud felt stressfully mucky with the Tot but you know what? There's something intensely satisfying about your toddler being so at ease with getting their hands dirty (oh Imagination Tree how you inspire me). I recommend some sturdy togs for this one.  

Fine Motor:

The Toddler is very into posting, threading and sorting right now so I stumbled happily upon this post earlier in the week via NurturingLearning.com. Ideas I can see us doing straight away are the acorn transfer with tongs (we just discovered tongs are hilarious fun), acorn posting in a tin with a slot cut in the top (have tin, will slot) and more leaf threading only this time with a button and elastic which I think might actually be easier than the pipe cleaners. I'll report back once we've tried it, probably on Instagram

Oh this one looks fun via The Artful Parent- contact paper, leaves you've collected and paper plates to make sun catchers. It's a variation on sticking the contact paper to a glass door and letting your toddler add things to a tree shape etc. We don't have easy access to that so suncatchers would work really well for us. Nature walk to crafty activitiy in the afternoon? Perfect. 

There's another version here via Fantastic Fun and Learning with leaf shapes to keep it really themed. 

All those paper plates you bought for Sun Catchers are the perfect paint trays for Leaf Printing. Gorgeous colours (and pictures of concetnration- how absorbed are those two tots?!?) via Meaningful Mama. 

 

I hope these inspire you as much as they have me. I'm excited to get outside with the Tot now. More tomorrow for the adults- layers and layers of shoulder season outfit inspirations!

Don't forget you have until midday 30th September to jump in and join us for the #harvestcal14 and don't forget, you can win prizes too!

HarvestCal14 Inspirations: Recipes

In the interest of inspiring you further in the final days of our #Harvestcal14 I have spent hours trawling through the internet and finding delicious and quick dishes to help you welcome Autumn. Really, this was all for your benefit dear reader, never think that this was self motivated or gratifying. Nope. I have not queued up several of the soups or cookies for my own delighted gorging. I am purely doing this for your benefit.

So here we go, a round up of what I will be trying out over the coming month. I've deliberately not chosen crockpot/ skillet dishes and those that require a specific kitchen item in the interests of keeping this easy for everyone. One recipe that requires a thermometer crept in but in the case of Brittle, I think we can be forgiving, no? I also had to restrain myself on the baking front. Expect more recipe suggestions because this time of year makes for incredible baking. 

Light Bites:

Butternut Squash, Celeriac, Parsnip & Apple Soup via Inspiring the Everyday. This is a smooth soup which long term readers will know I have a distrust of but I think I could work with this. There's also an incredible looking Apple and Fig Salad with Hazelnuts on the same page that I'm sure the Tot would gorge on because she loves apples and figs. (Side note: please do be careful of nuts and mini people and allergy sufferers)

Chunky Autumn Vegetable Soup via Recipe.com. Let's all be in love with chunky soups. 

Roasted Butternut Squash with Kale and Almond Pecan Parmesan via Oh How She Glows. Something entirely different from our usual repertoire but I have a sneaky feeling this could become a regular side dish around here. Yum. 

 

Dinner and Main Meals:

A one pan oven roasted Medley of Autumnal fare such as apples and sweet potato as well as sausage. Perfect for families and budget friendly too. I suspect the Tot will love this combination of sweet and savoury. Thanks to BudgetBytes for this one. 

Cider-Dijon Pork Chops with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Apples via Epicurious. I'm not really a great fan of meat, especially pork but I do feel like Autumn flavours lend themselves particularly well to pork. I am very tempted by this dish it has to be said, something the meat loving Giant will surely rejoice to hear I'm sure. 

Mushroom foraging is one of the many Autumnal foraging delights I would love to get better at. This Twice-Baked and Stuffed Butternut Squash via 12Tomatoes has the prettiest mushrooms. I think mushrooms are so delicately fascinating. If you've been following me on Instagram you'd already know that weird fact about me. 

 

Sweet Treats:

These Favourite Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies from Sally's Baking Addiction had me at the first mention of cranberries. Cranberry and pumpkin? Perfect flavours to combine.  

Caramel Apple Cider Cookies thanks to The Girl Who Are Everything. I've loved this food blogger for a while and have had a great number of successes with her baking recipes in the past. Definitely a treat for me on cold mornings after the childcare drop off. 

Autumn Brittle via Adventures in Cooking. You will need a thermometer which would normally put me off as I STILL need to purchase this kitchen instrument but I think this might be the push I've needed for a while. 

 

Drinks:

Autumn Bourbon Sangria via The LifeStyled Blog. Incredibly tempting pictures. I always switch from white to red wine the minute I feel a chill in the air. It's a tradition that I think could stand the addition of fruits and whiskey. 

Rethinking my slight wariness of the overwhelming sweetness of Mulled Cider thanks to Martha Stewart's version with maple and peppercorns. Yes. You heard it here first: I'm doing this. 

Apple Pie Moonshine via Sweet C's Designs. It's even presented in Mason Jars. Super cute. 

 

So jump in and join us for the harvestcal14 and don't forget, you can win prizes too!

Harvestcal14: The Prizes

Things are looking very inspiring over in the Harvestcal14 chatter thread so I thought I'd best share all the goodies up for grabs!

Firstly there will be lots to win from some of the vendors from the Indie Untangled Rhinebeck Trunkshow thanks to Lisa being this month's podcast sponsor:

Robie Street by (c) Laura Aylor

Robie Street by (c) Laura Aylor

Laura Aylor is donating 5 designs of the winners choice. Laura is the designer who recently soared up the 'What's Hot' list on Ravelry for designs such as the Robie Street Cardigan and her Spiced Cocoa mitts seem perfect for Autumn. 

Berry Colorful Yarnings is offering a skein of the PERFECT autumnal self striping yarn. I mean really, just look:

(c) BCY

(c) BCY

Then The Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe is offering a lotion bar with a new scent that's perfectly timed: apple butter! This shop caused me some serious moments of weakness thanks to handmade lotions and balms with incredible scents. (Cinnamon Chai nearly came home with me. It's on the wishlist now let me tell you!)

(c) NBK

(c) NBK

Then Northbound Knitting who sponsors the show and blog has offered 2 skeins of Merino Silk DK in Metallurgy (be still my beating heart) and 2 braids of 'Japanese maple' on Superwash Merino combed top. 

So get tagging on social media, chatting in the group and share your final projects- all crafts are welcome!

 

PS We are so close to 1000 members on the group that I'm eyeballing a few extra prizes I've tucked away and might be hitting the random number generator a little early. I'm just saying....

 

 

Time for Harvest CAL (#harvestcal14) (#APDpodcastcal14)

It's the 1st of September and so that means- we are GO!!!

I was going to kick things off with a lovely post here about the bulbs the Tot and I planted, ready for some Autumn flowering and early Spring but this afternoon I watched in horror as a family of squirrels ate the lot so I can't quite bring myself to somehow. Instead I'm pondering squirrel pie....

 

Ways to participate: 
Come on over to the chatty thread in the Playful Group on Ravelry where we talk about our efforts during September. Chat on here will be inclusive, fun and multicraftal. I will hit the random number generator on 30th September and a chatty group member will get a prize) 


Then: 
Ripening Fruits: (#ripeningfruits) This can be those long languishing wips that need finishing to wear this Autumn or harvesting from your garden. Possibly a book that you’ve dropped off reading and wanted to finish. Tell us your story and finish off that process! 
New Flavours: (#newflavours) Got a new technique you want to have a go this knitting season? A new cake  recipe to try? Are you planting out bulbs or diving into a new book? Tell us! All I ask is you roughly link it to Fall/ Autumn.

If you’re playing along via social media you now have those hashtag thingies. One for your category and one just for the cal/ podcast. I’ll come find you guys too via those hastags on the 30th and there will be a social media prize so don’t forget to tag!

I've just created the FO thread and I’m going to ask you to enter ONCE but you can edit that post to add all that you’ve been doing. So you can enter cakes, bakes and reads along with your sweater. There will be a prize for that non chatty thread too.

 

Off to start writing up the prize details...!!