Friday, 25 April 2014

The radio, too much chocolate and colouring in fabric . . .

Nick loved Floppy Moggy
It's always hard when the kids go back to school after two weeks of getting up later, too much chocolate and trying to fit in work and doing things with the children . . .

Last week I was interviewed by BBC Three Counties Radio for a feature they were doing about Woburn Sands and Woburn. It's a lovely idea to promote the smaller towns and villages which tend to be missed because of the larger local destinations such as Milton Keynes, Bedford and Luton, and I was very happy to go along to help raise the towns' profile.

I had a lovely chat with Nick Coffer and although he was disappointed I wasn’t going to teach him to knit he asked some great questions which were fun to answer.

Of course this meant leaving the children behind but luckily our lovely friends Lucy and Bill came over to keep an eye on them and make sure they had some lunch! Lola said it was funny hearing me on the radio - I hope she meant that in a good way!

A couple of days earlier I had made a little trip to Ikea because a friend of mine had put something on Facebook about some fabric they had to colour in and fabric pens. I couldn't resist the idea of colouring in fabric but of course, I couldn’t just buy a metre so I bought two!

Little did I realise how addictive this would be for everyone . . . It was laid out on the breakfast bar when I left for my interview and any of the family that walked past picked up a pen and coloured in.  Even the teenagers! By the end of the day we had the second piece of material laid out on the floor.

We have had lots of ideas about what to make with this fabric . . . but I think we have settled on a big bean bag. There’s still a bit more to colour in but once it is finished we have plenty of fabric to make one. I have already thought ahead to the one small problem - there will definitely be fighting over who gets to sit on it . . .

This week has been very quiet with the children back at school. It's a short week (we all love those don't we?) and I am looking forward to going into the shop for the Inspiration Knits Trunk Show tomorrow (11-3.30 if you can make it, do drop in!). I have my eye on a couple of hanks of Whimzy yarn that I think will be coming home with me . . .

Friday, 11 April 2014

London Book Fair

This week I was lucky enough to be invited to join the Search Press team on their stand at The London Book Fair. It's not really what you would call work, because it was such a pleasure chatting to people, and then restacking the books on the shelves when it got a bit untidy - I had a fabulous day!

The Show itself is absolutely huge - almost as big as a small village - filled with anybody and everybody in the world of publishing including all the very well known publishing houses.  It was also amazing to see the range of publishers out there, targeting all sorts of markets.  The nicest area to wander around was definitely the children's section. I noticed a huge variety of accents as I wandered around - the Show has a lovely international quality as it attracts visitors from around the world, and I was thrilled to meet with publishers from a good selection of countries.

My Cats and Kittens book has now been translated into 5 languages! Astonishing to believe that this has happened in the year since the last Book Fair when it was first shown, and I can now count knitters in Denmark, Netherlands, Germany, Russia and Italy amongst my customers.

This year, with my Dogs and Puppies book due to be launched in June, we were approached by Danish (Turbine) and Dutch (Librero) publishers as well as one from Ireland who was interested in a book of Irish Knits - which gave me plenty to think about. Though I must say right now that I won't be designing any knitted leprechauns or shamrocks . . .

I had the opportunity to look around to see what is new in the world of textile and handmade crafts, and though there were lots of other publishers offering crafty books, I must admit that I didn't see anything that I got really excited about. There was certainly an increase in sewing books this year - due to the enormous success of The Great British Sewing Bee I think. There were also some lovely craft books for children which I made a mental note of. I think my ten year old daughter would love some of them.

I managed to escape for lunch at a lovely Pizzeria in West Brompton with a good friend of mine, Karen who was also attending the Show (and is a real author!) which broke the day up and gave us the chance for a good old catch up. By the time the day was nearing an end, my feet were begging me to sit down and I was imagining a nice, relaxing journey home on the train. Oh dear - I ended up standing up, squashed amongst commuters for most of the way, my feet complaining bitterly and worst of all - no chance to do any knitting!

Friday, 4 April 2014

Out and About

One of the things I enjoy most about what I do now is getting out and about and meeting people.

Over the past two weeks I've had great fun with Abakhan on their stands at The Spring Knitting and Stitching show at Olympia and Sewing for Pleasure in Birmingham. I designed a special little Easter bunny outfit for the adult meerkat and Abakhan put some fantastic bundles of books, yarn and the special pattern together. I met some lovely people and the meerkats made everyone smile.

Abakhan have very kindly given me permission to share the pattern with you. The ears and basket are knitted using DK wool and then embroidered using scraps of yarn.

me signing books at the Abakhan stand

I hope you like it! If you don't have a meerkat then why not just make the basket and fill it with a little Easter treat.

Easter Meerkat
Easter Meerkat
To make your Easter Meerkat you will need one completed meerkat (excluding the tail)
and the following.

Brown DK yarn
Cream DK yarn
Oddments for embroidery
Small amount of toy filling
Chocolate eggs

2.75mm knitting needles

See the back flap of ‘Knitted Meerkats’ book

Using brown yarn cast on 5 sts and knit 1 row.
Next row: K1, M1, K to last st, M1, K1. (7 sts)
Knit 1 row.
Repeat last two rows once more. (9 sts)
Knit 2 rows.
Next row: K1, K2tog, K to last 3 sts, K2tog, K1. (7 sts)
Knit 1 row.
Repeat last two rows once more. (5 sts)
Cast on 19 sts at the beginning of the next row and knit to the end of the row. (24 sts)
Next row: (K3, P3) four times.
Repeat last row twice more.
Next row: (P3, K3) four times.
Repeat last row twice more.
Next row: (K3, P3) four times.
Repeat last row twice more.
Starting with a knit row, work 4 rows in SS. This will roll over and form the top of the basket.
Cast off.
Using brown yarn cast on 20 sts and starting with a knit row work 4 rows in SS.
Cast off.

Ears: (make two)
Using cream yarn cast on 6 sts and knit 8 rows.
Next row: K2, K2tog, K2. (5 sts)
Knit 3 rows.
Next row: K1, K2tog, K2. (4 sts)
Knit 4 rows.
Next row: K1, K2tog, K1. (3 sts)
Knit 3 rows.
Next row: Sl1, K2tog, psso. (1 st)
Fasten off remaining stitch.
Leonie and I

The other outing I've been on did take me outside my comfort zone! I went to Peterborough to guest present for Bergere de France on Create & Craft TV. Gulp!
Leonie, the presenter, was fantastic and soon put me at my ease but it was hard to forget the cameras were all pointing at us. I do have a theory that thinking about something is worse than doing it a lot of the time and on this occasion I was right. Once we got going the hour long programme flew past (you can see it here) and before I knew it, it was all over . . . until next time!!

me on the telly!