Wednesday, 31 December 2008

New Knit-felt kits

Doh! With so much going on, I haven't told you about the new knit-felt kits which I "unveiled" at Harrogate in November!

I had so much fun designing my Artesano knit-felt collection that I thought I'd produce some for my own yarns. As my little Kool Aid kits have been so popular, I've been thinking for ages that I should do some new ones, but I fancied something a bit different.

There were lots of ideas buzzing round in my head, but I'd been working on socks (surprise, surprise!), and was fed up of rummaging for lost dpns in the bottom of my workbag and down the side of the sofa. I also wanted a neat way to carry my wip to knitting group.

So, put the two together and hey! presto! enter the Flutterby felted sock stasher.

The second kit was really a bit of a selfish one. When I'm at shows I like to knit, but it's tricky to keep putting a project down and it wouldn't be the first time I've had to grovel around on the floor chasing a runaway ball of wool halfway round the stand! I have a friend who's a climber and they use little pouches strapped to their belts to carry stuff they need to have readily to hand so I thought, why not use one for knitting? Better still, why not knit one for my knitting! And so, the Knit 'n' Go knit-sack was born!

To give a nice firm fabric, I knit the basic shapes then throw them in the washing machine with a set of Felter's Friend felting balls. (You can just use flip-flops or old jeans but these are easier and give better results). The knitting looks massive, but once it's been through the washer, it firms up and shrinks nicely and gives a lovely fabric. The tones in the dyed yarn also blend really prettily.

(ps. I've since customised my knit-sack with a little dpn holder which poppers onto the outside of the bag and can be put inside when I pack up, so keep an eye out for this "upgrade").

Back to knitting

Looking back at recent posts, I realise there hasn't been much mention of knitting, dyeing and fibre-y stuff. Do not be misled - this doesn't mean nothing is going on!

I'm busy working on a range of new designs and I'm keeping these under wraps until they're done so as not to spoil the surprise. There is also lots of work going on behind the scenes on new colour collections and I'm trialling some lush new yarns. There's also a fab new project in the offing which goes live very shortly, so watch this space!

Wheeee - Wii !!!!

Persuaded Will to share his Wii today so we could all have a play. We laughed our socks off slamming loo doors on Rabbids, whacking them into holes and chasing round sheep to shear them! There was something a bit odd about boxing Will, especially when I ko'd him in the second round, but he was very gracious about it. After all he did beat me hollow at tennis and baseball...

Mario kart was hysterical - watching my Mum hurtling round a track in a car shaped like a piranha, flying off into lava and skidding on banana skins was eye-wateringly funny! Not that I was any better. I beat Will in one race (I think I heard the phrase beginner's luck mentioned), but couldn't drive for laughing half the time. Oh, and Mum revealed a surprise ability for killing zombies in Resident Evil.......

Happy Christmas!

Christmas in the Tomkies household was lovely. The tree looked splendid (if rather large - oops - spatial awareness isn't my strong suit!). We managed to empty another raft of boxes just before Christmas Eve (down to just about 8 now in the living room) and the presents were (mostly) wrapped by 1am - surely a record for us!

After a healthy breakfast of chocolates from the selection boxes (can't break with tradition), we unwrapped our gifts, ate more chocolate (diet starts Jan 1 - honest), and settled down with the Radio Times to plan the tv schedule.

Pete made a gorgeous Christmas dinner, a full traditional affair but with veggie roast for us and "the real thing" for Will.

We did our bit towards making Wallace & Gromit the most-watched programme of the day and of course, Doctor Who was on the agenda. And just in case you think we are a complete cultural vacuum, we taped Memoirs of a Geisha.

Oooh, nearly forgot the pressies. I was soooo lucky. I got such lovely gifts - two wonderful dyeing books and a fantastic book on drawing faeries. A felted dragon kit (rainbow colours of course!), and some Ugg boots - squee!! Lush goodies made the house smell just delicious - I think my Mum must have bought the whole shop - thanks Mum! I also got a great selection of incense for my dragon incense burner.

Hope you all had a super Christmas!

Love and hugs xx

Monday, 22 December 2008

Kwaidan - Japanese ghost stories

On Saturday night we had a spur of the moment theatre trip to see Kwaidan. We didn't know a thing about it, but as it had "Japanese" and "ghost" in the title, we figured that for £8 a ticket it was worth a shot.

It was amazing! The flyer describes the production as "creat(ing) a world where dark forces and evil spirits interact with humans and change their destinies forever". And it did not disappoint! Imaginatively directed and performed we were alternately jumping out of our skins or howling with laughter. Manga characters, puppets, samurai, ghost spirits and two entire armies filled the stage with magic.

The actors were part of the Contact young actors company so were very much local (the Contact theatre is in Manchester, next to the University) and they well and truly deserved the standing ovation they received from the enthusiastic audience. The production was staged by the Dende Collective and if you get the chance to see one of their unique plays, don't miss out - they rock!

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Baby alpaca wrap for Simply Knitting

Well, I was planning to tempt you with a sneak peek at my latest Simply Knitting project, but as usual, time got away with me and it's already in print!

For those of you who haven't seen it, it's knitted in the softest baby alpaca aran weight yarn and is light, soft and snuggly - I had to be prised away from it so it could be posted! I've currently got 6 shades but there are more in the pipeline when I get time to put on a dyepot!

And yes, the pic is me (again!) - I am not a complete narcissist, but the minute you mention photos everyone suddenly finds they have something "urgent" to do like washing their hair or watching some paint dry/the lawn grow etc. etc. etc. If you like having your photo taken and can get to Manchester, please let me know - I hate having mine taken!

Late Samhain post

This year's pumpkin was a grand chap, albeit a bit unconventional as he came complete with full body! It was more Halloween meets the Wicker Man perhaps, but ole Pumpkin Jack burned a treat.
He did cut rather a sad figure, tho', the next morning......

Friday, 5 December 2008

Manga/anime expo

Yes, this is me with an alien!

I don't know about you, but my family members have a habit of dropping things on me from a great height at short notice. But when Pete and Will said they'd be going to London for the manga/anime/comic expo, I thought, great, a day at spinning guild for me and a nice bit of time for more spinning when I get home - perfect!

What I hadn't bargained on was that Will wanted to go in cosplay and needed a costume. Time was short and the best costumes have to be imported from Japan so we contacted a few specialist companies to see what they could do. It was a bit touch and go for time and I had visions of the costume arriving just after the show, so the guys decided that I could "just" make one!

My trusty Bernina hasn't seen the light of day since we moved out for the extension (2years ago), so you can imagine what my sewings skills are like. Still, I dug it out, hoovered off the dust and got on the internet for inspiration.

Armed with a collage of pic's of the character Will wanted to go as, I trawled site after site for info on making Kimono and costumes. Then I trawled my old sewing books and found a couple of proper 70's style pieces in some old "Stitch by Stitch" magazines (what a blast from the past that was - big hair, shoulder pads and a jumpsuit anyone?). When I'd stopped laughing, it was time to get to work.

"Translating" the Japanese sewing patterns was tricky but gave me some good ideas, and the 70's kimono bathrobes filled in the gaps.

Three days later (I told you I wasn't a fast sewer didn't I?), and I had a set of adapted medical scrubs and a kimono, all made-to-measure.

Here's the finished product and the character I was copying (Urahura Kisuke from Bleach for all you manga fans). Oh, and I've added a few pics from the expo we went to in March too, as we had some real fun posing with movie characters and admiring the other cosplay outfits.

Here we have the Naruto clan....

And you don't see this kind of thing in you want fries with that?

And for you Heroes afficionados, Parkman and Daphne (aka Hiro's Nemesis), sign autographs for eager fans.....

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Vicky's knit in

I had a fab time at Vicky's knit-in at the end of October. Lots of us snuggled up in Vicky and Laurie's cosy cottage for yummy cakes and nibbles, chatting, knitting and spinning. I won two lovely prizes in the raffle - a beautiful glass necklace and a hand-made notebook (which will be my next design sketchbook). After persuading Pete not to try and sneak off with their bookcases (!) it was time for home. Thanks for a great day Vicky - hope we can do it again soon!

November mega-catch up

So many jobs, so little time! November was a funny old month, highs, lows and in-betweens. Here's a few of the newsworthy bits....
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