crafting · Knitting · knitting group · Workshops

Today I’m Making… Brioche scarf

Ta dah! I finished it. I love soft squishyness and the contrast of the riot of colour peeping through the calm natural cream.  I love brioche.img_0757

I’ve fancied having a go at brioche knitting for ages but as you might have picked up from other posts I have a ton of outstanding projects (1 pair of beaded gloves, I pair of mittens, 1 jumper, 4 pairs of socks, 1 scarf, slippers, 2 blankets, a cowl, various snoods – these are just off the top of my head) so I sort of put it off because I really should finish some of what I’ve already started…

Course then when I went on that Knitaway break to the excellent Westcliffe Knitting Hotel Paula treated us to a trip out to the incredible Beckside Yarns in Clapham, Yorkshire and they had the most incredibly luxurious feeling kimono style brioche jacket and it’s been on my mind ever since.

Most Wednesdays you’ll find me very happily at the I Knit London  knit night, the owner was knitting the most gorgeous Le Moelleux – he’s really good with colour so his one is really yummy.  Then, he only sent out a newsletter advertising a beginner’s brioche workshop. imageWell. You can imagine how fast I signed up for that. He has more lined up so if London is accessible to you I highly recommend doing the class.

Turns out the basic brioche stitch is pretty easy once you get the hang of it and really enjoyable.  OK so I did cock up my increases and decreases a bit at first but I go the hang in the end and its all part of the learning process so I don’t tend to unpick unless I really have to.

I love the way it looks, with the bright mix of colours peeping through the cool calm neutral. The yarn is I Knit or Dye DK and is the most soft and snuggly thing you’ve ever felt. I’m almost looking forward to cold weather so I can wear it all the time.


Thanks to Gerard at I Knit London I feel confident enough to take on Le Moelleux myself.

Beading · craft fair · crochet · Knitting · knitting group · Workshops

The Make It Show, Farnborough 2015

I have had a great day at the Make It Show at Farnborough Airport (yes, there is an airport at Farnborough and its quite busy, though lord knows who feels the need to fly in to Farnborough).  This is turning into my favourite mixed craft show of the year, I swear it gets better every year.  Its on tomorrow too if you fancy it – £9.50 entry and there are quite a few stalls doing free or super-cheap informal workshops so well worth the ticket price.  

Personally I bought a 3 day ticket for £15 in advance but that option of course isn’t open to you but I’m giving you the opportunity to marvel at my thriftiness for free.

The first thing I did was walk the whole show just to scope it out.  As usual there is a huge seating area with the usual catering (I’m not a fan, its particularly rubbish for veggies or anyone who fancies something healthy but that’s pretty much the deal at all of them) but they’re quite happy for you to bring your own.  They have staff patrolling collecting rubbish so its always tidy enough.  TONS of seating.  Very unusual for a craft fair and I hope they continue to stick with this policy in coming years.  The loos up at the catering end get busy but they’re fine.  At the other end of the hall behind the workshop area there are chemical loos.  I won’t go into details but expect festival conditions.  This is several shades beyond my idea of acceptable.

The variety of stalls gets better every year. There is quite a lot of card making but also knitting, crochet, UK yarns, kits, beading, art, lighting, storage, food, artisan brewery (See the GIN!!), patchwork, embroidery, cross stitch, stamping, oh blimey so much I’m sure I’ve missed out a ton of stuff.

My first purchase was from Made by Ewe. She has knitting and crochet kits, hand dyed yarn and knitting supplies like knitting and crochet needles. She also had a lovely kit to make a little fox wearing a pirate jumper that she designed because she keeps chickens.


To be honest I wasn’t intending to buy anything on my first walk round I was just scoping but then I saw a really nice shawl/scarf and noticed it was made from that ladder yarn I hate.  Well, my local knitting club has a yearly competition and this year the theme is to make something with ladder yarn.  I wasn’t going to play because I hate novelty yarns and I’m still annoyed that I didn’t win last year after I made a gorgeous cuff with knitted in beads (the theme was Knitting with Beads) and didn’t even get placed.  The woman that won entered a completely repulsive felted bag that she’d tied some beads on to, and the same with the 2nd and 3rd place. Horrible work and the beads were not knitted in.  I’m still put out.  I mean I don’t want to bang on about it but I was robbed. ROBBED I TELL YOU.  So Mrs Made by Ewe had this lovely kit for less than a tenner, you get the yarn, pattern and a big chunky crochet hook with a ceramic bead on the end and I definitely didn’t already own one of those.


I made a bit of a start on it, to be fair it looks like sort of chain mail g-string at the moment but I’m sure it will be divine when its finished.  I’m going to add some skull beads to stop it being too twee.  You’ll see more of those later.  I’m taking home the prize this year or that local knitting group is going to have recounts until I do.


In the background you will see the back of the bag for life I also bought on this stand.  Very fine thing it is too, I now have enough bags for life to turn Buddhist.


Next up I went to Anita’s Beads. Where is Anita? Has anyone ever met Anita or is the nice bloke who runs it Anita?  The woman ahead of me in the queue to pay had bought literally tons of stuff, she’s bought so much that I lost all shopping guilt and added some crystals to my skull beads.

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I bought a couple of rings from him too, I really like polished semi-precious gemstone rings, they’re so cheap at only a pound each. What I’m going to do is use these to weigh the shawlly wrap thing I’m making with the ladder yarn rather than tassels.


The second picture looks like I have sausage fingers, let me assure you my fingers are mere chipolatas, not bangers.

Last year I tried really hard to get to the Beaker Buttons stand to buy a Dorset buttons kit but it was so popular I couldn’t get near it, this year she has a bigger stand and I managed to get in at a quiet moment and have a bit of a chat.  She’s adorable. Really friendly and knowledgeble about the history of Dorset buttons, she also dyes her own yarn and spins. They do workshops and drop in sessions at her shop and I wish she was nearer to me.  You know one of those people that you instantly want to go to the pub with?


At the end I did a workshop with the excellent Riverside Beads. I did a kumihimo workshop with them last year and it was so well done I was happy as larry when I saw they were doing workshops again this year.

I made this!


Tell me that’s not fantastic?  They do loads of workshops, they’re based in Peterborough so well worth a visit if you find yourself nearby.  This only took an hour to do, I swear you could do it faster.  They sell a kit for only £8.  They ask you not to share the pattern but they are happy for you to sell any you make and only ask you to donate some of the money to The British Legion. She said they make loads of them in November and donate them to the Legion.  You could use the same principle to make other flowers but the poppy is really lovely.  So easy to do too.

I’m going back tomorrow to have a go at Zentangling, some embroidery and to have a massive chocolate and Bailey’s cookie.

craft fair · crafting · Knitting · reviews · Workshops

Workshops – Design your Own Fair Isle. Spring Knitting & Stitching Show, Olympia

When I saw that this workshop still had places available on Thursday I signed up straight away – this is how it was advertised:

“This workshop will give you the opportunity to design several pieces of Fair Isle knitting…” “…learn how to use grids to design [your] own patterns…” “…learn how to change colours and how colour choice determines the finished outcome.”

I imagined we’d be given yarn, needles, graph paper, a pencil, eraser and examples of traditional fair isle motifs and their meanings if relevant.  What we actually got was some graph paper, 4mm needles to borrow and some 4 ply yarn. No option to choose colours.  The only practical advice we were given was to only carry your alternate yarn choice for 3sts before twisting.

Because the needles she lent me were much too big for the yarn my attempt was pretty awful, I binned it as soon as I got it home.  My design wasn’t up to much either.  One of the other people produced the most gorgeous swatch but I think she must have used her own needles?

It was pretty useless as a workshop but nice to sit down for an hour in the middle of the Knitting & Stitching Show.

Next time I try fair isle I’ll use a Susan Crawford pattern.

craft fair · crafting · Etsy · Knitting · Workshops

Unravel – photography workshop booked!

Why do all the craft festivals come at once in the south east? I love going to them but I could do with them being spread out a bit more.

We do a bonus ball sweepstake at work, I’ve won it for the second time now, only £15 each time, I never seem to win when it rolls over above £50. Mustn’t grumble though because that’s ticked off my first craft festival booking of the year.

For £27.50 I’ve now got a weekend pass to Unravel at Farnham Maltings at the end of February.  I’ve booked on to this workshop: A beginner’s workshop in photographing your crafty projects, aimed at those who want achieve great pictures without the professional equipment. Photographer and knitter, Louise Walker will show you how with just a point and shoot or smartphone. The workshop will explore the use of light, props and basic photo editing. An ideal chance to improve your ravelry, etsy and instagram. Please bring your digital camera or smartphone and a finished project and prop such as fabric for a backdrop (optional). Suitable for all levels.

Sounds brilliant doesn’t it?  I do badly need some help with my photos, I had a fantastic piece of luck last year when Dawn Elliott and Vintage Vi agreed to take photos of my snoods for my Etsy shop in return for a bit of cross promotion ( and If you have a look at my Etsy shop all the good photos of a woman wearing a snood are modelled by Vintage Vi and photographed by Dawn Elliott, everything else is taken by me and frankly doesn’t do my work any favours.

The Unravel workshop is such good value, 2 hours of tuition for basically about £15 I think.  I’m going to take along one of my snoods, my nice little camera that is capable or much more than I have worked out and I thought a vintage headscarf to use as a backdrop.  I’m really looking forward to it.

Last year I did a knitting with beads workshop at Unravel with Fiona Morris that was fantastic.

If you don’t know about Unravel its well worth a visit if you are local.  Its a festival of knitting with workshops, exhibitions, tons of shopping and its all held in a fantastic venue.  The Maltings is well worth a visit at any time of year just for the café, last year I had the most ginormous bakewell tart.  If you are going, I would recommend going on both days, its a bit of a crush and you’ll need a few hours to see it all. I like to have a look on the first day and spend on the second day. I’m kidding myself again that I’m not going to spend any money this year but if I can get a seat in the café I’m going to invest heavily in cake.

Beading · craft fair · Knitting

Workshops – please read the joining instructions

Much as I love a workshop, there’s something that irritates me about them.  Its the joining instructions. They’re either rubbish so that you turn up unprepared and don’t get the full benefit, or end up having to buy a load of stuff that you already have at home.

Worse than that though is when the other people don’t bother to read the joining instructions.

I did the most fantastic short workshop at Unravel in February,  Knitting with Beads clearly described as “Suitable for intermediates and experienced knitters” it was only a two hour thing so that’s a sign that there will actually be a pace rather than a cosy day of meandering.

Literally everything was provided, needles, yarn, beads, findings the lot.  We spent a bit of time choosing our colour combinations but we were underway pretty quickly.  First instruction – Cast on 30sts.  This is where I get irritated, there were only about 12 of us on the workshop, yet FOUR people really struggled to cast on 30sts.  One person had to have help making her first loop.  I mean really?  You’ve booked on to a course for intermediate and experienced knitters but you can’t cast on?  That means you have less than basic skills.

It was lace knitting so there was a fair bit of PSSO type action.  Slip stitches and YON nearly caused a melt-down in low-skills corner while the rest of us were all losing out on teaching time we’ve paid for because of them.  Oh and then there was the needy woman that finally admitted ‘a workshop environment doesn’t work for me’ apparently other people’s voices are too distracting.  So why join a workshop?  It was fully booked too so I wonder if there were other people out there who would have got something valuable and enjoyable out of the workshop like I did that lost out.

Really people, no shortcuts.  At least learn the basics before you join an intermediate workshop and if you don’t like workshops perhaps signing up for a workshop isn’t the greatest idea – there’s probably someone out there that would have really enjoyed that class.  I’m off to find lace stitches that I can adapt to incorporate beads.


Workshops – a quiet addiction

I think I could become a bit addicted to one-day workshops, it’s a manageable addiction as long as you don’t go for the super expensive ones.  It started off years ago when I did a one day workshop on making a small quilt in an adult learning centre in dear old Walthamstow.  Oh now that was a lovely workshop. I made the most gorgeous quilt (in my mind) and gave it away without taking pictures because of course I was going to make hundreds of them.  Never made another.  Still mean to.

Then I joined a regular one-day beading workshop at Fleet Library, only £20 for a whole day! What a bargain, but then factor in the need to provide all your own materials and that somehow the next project always needs you to buy more, more, more and before you know it you’ve spent another £10 and you go home with another unfinished project to add to the guilt-pile.

I signed up for a one-day goldwork course at Pandora’s in Guildford.  That’s a nice venue for a workshop but a bit more expensive at £55 for the day but then again all materials thrown in.  The teacher was Sophie Long who is without a doubt a well-qualified expert and is very good at passing on skills.  You get what you pay for.  My attempt was beautifully framed at Fleet Frames (on Kings Road) who I would certainly recommend, if its worth framing its worth framing properly.  I think it cost me nearly £50 but it was worth every penny they spent quite a long time with me to make sure we got the combination of frame style and mount colours correct.

At Unravel I did the Knitting with Beads workshop by the wonderful Fiona Morris.  I think adding beads to knitted lace could be something I could really get into.  Please do have a look at her website when you have time Fiona’s a great teacher and she teaches in a variety of locations. I bought a few patterns from her too.

Just the other weekend I did a mini-workshop at the Make-It Show in Farnborough where I made that lovely felt needlecase you might have seen my other post about. I wish craft and haberdashery shops would do mini informal drop in workshops like that, I’d love to be able to have a little go at something in my lunchbreak.

Now my friend has introduced me to The Bead Base in Basingstoke who also do beading workshops, I’m very tempted.

Also on my radar are the Japanese Embroidery group that meet in Yately twice a month, now that is something I would like to get into. Its just too beautiful. I have to join them.

My problem is I think I’m running out of time to do everything. There just aren’t enough weekends. Maybe I should ditch the beading…

craft fair · crafting

Make It Show at Five, Farnborough

This was my third visit to the Make it Show, I’m not sure how long its been running in total.  The first year it was virtually all card making and that’s not my thing so I found it quite boring.  The second year it had a better mixture with some beading and knitting stalls too, this year it’s improved again. There was a much better mixture of crafts, its still very heavy on the card making but it’s a popular craft so I can’t complain too much.

What was really nice was that alongside the official workshops that had been organised (again heavy on the paper crafts) a few of the stalls ran their own mini-workshops.  If I say so myself I made the nicest cutest needle case you ever did see. I’ll take a photo of it and add it to my blog later on if I get a chance. I did that with the Embroiderers Guild who are hoping to start a new group in Farnborough, there will be an exploratory meeting on 18th April in the evening.  I would love to join but evenings are a pain in the jacksy.  I’ve been meaning to buy a needle case for ages and haven’t seen one I liked so far so for £5 with materials thrown in this made my day.  I’m delighted with it.

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The biggest let-down of the show again was the awful refreshments, you could basically have chips, more chips, cheesy chips, a hog roast, super-greasy noodles or a cheese and tomato sandwich all at eyewatering prices.  I had a hot chocolate and a really ropey muffin for £5! I kicked myself for not bringing my own. I think it was the same people that catered last year and they haven’t improved their customer service either. Rough!

I saw Marilyn, who runs the beading workshop I go to once a month on a card stall so I had a bit of a chat with her for a while. She’d bought some lovely vintage buttons.

The other big treat of the day was the Japanese Embroidery people, see the link below for the most beautiful work.  The Japanese Embroidery people are at every single craft show, their work is exquisite and its something I’d love to have a go at doing.  They use silks and beading to create beautiful art.  Honestly it makes me go swoony.  The problem is they’re a prickly bunch.  I’ve never managed to get close to one, they’re usually all set up stitiching away but they concentrate hard on not making eye contact and if you try to start a conversation you get short shrift indeed.  Not with the Yateley Group.  You couldn’t hope to meet nicer women, the tutor was there with one of her (must be) star pupils and they couldn’t have been more willing to indulge me and my cooing. I loved them. Count me in! Even better they’re only in Yately and they do workshops twice a month for a whole day on SATURDAYS!! Finally something that’s available to people that work full time.  They even lend you the frame, awl and some other doings for the first three months. You have to buy the instruction book yourself and the threads etc but its not that expensive.  I am going to be a very happy woman indeed if I can join that happy band.

I still couldn’t find anyone selling knitting needle cases or or nice row counters.  That’ll be something to look for when I go off to Olympia in a couple of weeks time with Trumans Coaches.  My first coach trip – I cannot wait.