Come Along for a Ride! [Episode 20]

I’m taking you skating, driving and cooking with me this week! I hope you have as much fun watching this episode as I had editing it.

Leave a comment on Episode 19 once you’ve done your Random Act of Kindness (before 20th March) to be in with a chance to win yarn, stitch markers or a pattern book.

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Peace, love and sunny days,

Show notes

White Pine pullover by Andrea Mowry

Edinburgh Yarn Festival
Thursday Knit Night

Friday & Saturday Podcaster meetups
12:30 to 2pm in the Blacker Yarns Podcaster Lounge

Music by Jeff Kaale on

Face Full of Gingerbread! (Ep 15)

I’m back with loads of awesome projects to bust your stash, make you laugh and inspire.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the channel for more fun projects and tutorials.

Subscribe and say hi on Twitter/Rav/Instagram:

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Peace, love and gingerbread,

Show Notes

Stashbusting Helix Hats by Jessica Rose

Fish Lips Kiss Heel sock heel technique

KnitPicks Felici self-striping yarn

Yarns by Old Maiden Aunt

Music by Jeff Kaale

Beaches, Brioche, Beer – and a giveaway! (Episode 14)

December flew by; I’ve acquired a whole box of new yarn stash, started some fabulous new projects (including my Exploration Station!) and went for a wander on a beach and to an amazing beer shop, just before jumping into Christmas celebrations.

I’m also announcing a new Craft-along for 2016 – the Battle Against Boring – which includes a fun first prize for those who share their goals for the craft-along!

Don’t forget to subscribe to the channel for more fun projects and tutorials.

Subscribe and say hi on Twitter/Rav/Instagram:

Join us in the Ravelry group

Peace, love and happy Christmas,

Full show notes coming after I’ve had a few more Christmas drinks!

Being Creative is Exhausting!

Lately, I’ve been feeling like my brain might explode. We’ve been fairly busy with work, but it’s all been good, manageable work towards our next product. Yet, as soon as I have time to spare, my head goes back to crafts and a squizzillion ideas fight their way around my brain like desperate parents battling their way into Wal-Mart to buy the last Furby for Christmas.

This September, I’ve been knitting for four years, and yarn dyeing, spinning and crocheting for two. In between, I’ve been sidetracked by various types of jewellery making, weaving, papercrafts and lately, I’ve fallen madly in love with resin jewellery. (Can’t wait to share a few photos of the gorgeous pieces I’m making!) Oh and I’ve always done bits of sewing whenever the fancy takes me.

And that’s just the crafts I can think of while looking at what’s in plain sight in my craft room; Forget the bags of alpaca and sheep fleece in the garage or the paintbrushes in the cupboard. You get the idea…

I remember when I started getting into drinking better coffee, a friend said to me:

“Beware, it’s a very deep rabbit hole once you start considering grinding your own coffee beans, and then possibly roasting them yourselves!”

Admittedly, it’s Andrew who fell down that particular rabbit hole of making the Perfect Coffee (an endeavour from which I reap the benefits every morning), but in reality, every craft, book and TV show should come with that warning as far as I’m concerned.

Knitting led to buying yarn hand-dyed by others, then dyeing my own, then spinning fibre blended by others, then blending hand-dyed fibre on my drum carder. And now I’m considering getting my own alpacas (one day!)

The pattern seems to be repeating itself with jewellery, as I’ve started making my own mixed media paper bases and I’m about to enrol into a silversmithing course at a local college. I can’t keep anything simple, can I?!

I’ve managed to carve a day a week, greedily reserved for making lovely handcrafted things and swanning around my craft room, and I spend the rest of the week longing for that special time. The only difficulty is choosing what to do on the day!

November Store Cupboard Challenge: Lentil Door Stops

I was inspired by The Yarn Yard’s post yesterday, where Natalie mentioned the Store Cupboard Challenge. You know how you open the cupboard at 6:30pm, look into it. It’s reasonably full, yet “there’s nothing to eat”?

The challenge is to focus on using up what’s in the cupboard over November. Sure, throw out (or use up, see below) things that are truly out of date, donate tins and cans to charitable Christmas food banks if they’re still well within date, or use them and make something a bit more creative than usual.

Over November, I’ll try to document a few times what I end up making out of the stuff that’s in the cupboard that is still edible. But for today, I’ll start with a crafty tip for those dry lentils, chickpeas and pulses that you bought during your last health kick and are now out of date. And no, I won’t make you eat them. We’ll make them into a door stop!

It’s so nice to open the windows and let fresh air in, but it can cause bedroom doors to slam shut in the breeze! We also have cheeky cats who’ve been known for locking themselves in the bedroom, so we tend to put doorstops in every room. Yet, the rubbery wedges are horrible and don’t slide easily on the carpet.

These weighted door stops are easy to pick up or move with your foot, and can look quite funky! They’re also super-quick to make. I used the tutorial on the Bake & Sew site to guide me, but did wing it quite a bit! It’s great for using scraps; the brown pyramid was made with a shirt I didn’t wear anymore, and the bottom was made of old jeans for both.

These are both filled with red lentils, but use whatever you have at hand, so long as it’s dry and doesn’t spoil!

Later this week, I’ll tackle the cupboard and work out some tasty recipes out of what’s in there.

Christmas Giving

The weeks preceding Christmas are bloody awful. I hate going into Cambridge and finding myself attacked by people with a dozen shopping bags in each hand, looking haggard and miles from the supposed Christmas spirit we’re meant to be in.

My favourite bit about shopping centres is usually people-watching; everyone is so self-absorbed when shopping, it’s comedy to try to understand the thought process that leads to buying those god awful mustard yellow boots or that garish tie. 😉

But this year, I’m amazed how many times I’ve heard “But what do you buy for someone who’s already pretty much got everything?” There are the obvious options; a new jumper, the latest video game, a scarf… or surfing Amazon to find some stocking fillers (at the expense of some exhausted Amazon elves)

So what about the alternatives to spending on tat that will disappear into the cupboard as soon as the holidays are over?

Give them something handmade or unique

Make it yourself if you’re crafty or skilled in something they aren’t. If you aren’t feeling up to the challenge, buy something that’s been handmade.


  • Make a batch of Christmas cookies, wrap them in parchment paper and a nice ribbon
  • Make homemade liqueurs (for next year!) and bottle them nicely with a handmade label
  • Create a photo album or a book with Lulu or your own photo editing software
  • Get handmade jewellery: Unique pieces are so much more interesting! (More on this one later, but I love Ostara for handmade stuff) You’ll also be supporting small businesses rather than line the pockets of multinationals!
  • Give the gift of time: Make vouchers good for a day out together, a Sunday lunch or a night at the movies. It’ll remind you both how important it is to spend time together over the course of the year

Give to charity instead

Some may say it’s a cliché suggestion and unoriginal of me, but it’s a perfectly valid one. I asked fellow Twitterers what charities they supported and I received some very powerful answers.

  • Niall Harbison, Irish foodie, put together a charity campaign Twitter-style by donating the proceeds of the auction of a brand new Nokia E63 to Crumlin Children’s Hospital. See Niall’s post to take part by donating €5.
  • Bango, who provide mobile analytics & billing services, put together a Christmas campaign called “All I want for Xmas!” where you contribute content (jokes, images, mobile games) and any money made from the content will be doubled and donated to Save The Children.
  • @reyes supports The Multiple Sclerosis Charity and Every Child who are committed to protecting the rights of vulnerable children and are always looking for our help
  • Teemu told the story of a friend who committed suicide last week, leading me to seek more information on SupportLine who provide emotional support for people of all ages.
  • If you can’t contribute financially, give time. Speak to your local charities to find out how you can help, as Dale (@dalelane) will be doing with Crisis Open Christmas, who open their doors to the homeless over the holiday season to ensure everyone can have a warm meal and some company.

So tell me, this year, would you rather spend less and take the time to make something personal as a gift? Or prefer to treat them to a luscious gift even though it may be breaking the bank a little bit more than you’d hoped because it’s that one time of the year?

I don’t think either answer is wrong, but in my eyes, there has to be a balance: If you’ve had a nice Christmas bonus and you’re feeling generous, then it’s fun to get friends and family a few goodies they may not otherwise treat themselves to, there’s no denying that. But meaningful handmade gifts can be more heartwarming and personal than anything bought from a store shelf.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Using arts & crafts to abide by the 3 R's

For a number of reasons, recently, I’ve made an effort to think about my consumption habits a bit more lately. Becoming my own boss has encouraged me to become a bit more frugal with my spending. By putting a recycling box in my office, I’ve realised how much paperwork I either piled up in folders unnecessarily or threw out without thinking.

Christmas Card by Paperminiskirt on EtsyThat was recycling tackled, but clearing out some cupboards and boxes made me realise just how many birthday, Christmas, house move, anniversary and other cards we accumulate.

So this is my call to friends and family to reuse, or let me reuse, old cards this Christmas. If you live nearby, I’ll happily take them off your hands. If you’re further away, drop me a line. I want to try to give magazines, cards, photos and material a new life, however it ends up being used. It also hopefully means I can avoid buying tacky cards, pre-filled with a meaningless Hallmark holiday greetings and write the cards myself. (Oh boy, I’m going to be annoyed I said this when I run out of time and ideas for the cards three days before Xmas…)

There are so many feel-good reasons to reuse stuff wherever possible. It’s less stuff to throw away, and occasionally, there’s the sentimental value of reusing something that otherwise would have had a short-lived lifespan. So that’s the “Reuse” element (sort of) ticked off.

And then there’s the “Reduce” factor. Well, I’ve curbed my buying-of-random-stuff to an extent, but developing an addiction to crafts means that while I’m buying less expensive gadgets, I’m spending on new crafts material like a Cuttlebug and a bunch of embossing goodies. (As an aside, there’s a definite trend in arts & crafts websites being utterly horrible and unusable. I would love to help them make their sites fun to use, and as good looking as the products they sell!)

So I’m not doing well at reducing the amount of stuff I own, but soon, I’ll write about someone who was more successful at not buying stuff (for a whole year!) than I was.

[Card on the right not by me, but by Paperminiskirt on, one of the best sites for cute handmade stuff. Like eBay for hippies and artists.]