The National Trust recruits a ninja-knitter army

Killerton National Trust estate near Exeter, Devon has gone global in recruiting an army of guerrilla knitters for an ambitious yarn-bombing operation ahead of their cider and apple festival in October.

The estate is targeting a 12ft high ‘retired’ apple tree that stands at the entrance of Killerton’s orchard.

Retired apple tree

Charlotte Eddington, Assistant Costume Creator said “Sadly, this apple tree no longer bears fruit but our yarn-bomb will burst it back to life for the festival using ammunition of wool and natural fibres. The idea is inspired by Killerton’s 2014 costume exhibition ‘The nature of fashion’, which explores textiles and garments made from raw materials”.

Killerton’s festival organiser, Helen Trebble said: “We have had a fantastic response so far – including Brownies, groups and knitters from the States who have cottoned on to our yarn-bomb and are shipping pieces over”.

The Killerton yarn-bomb has also attracted the attention of Exeter-based yarn-bombing expert, Lisa Tricoteuse of The Knitting Tent. Lisa’s yarn-bombs have been found all over the country from cities to seasides and she’s delighted to be joining forces with Killerton.

Lisa said: “A good yarn-bomb causes a reaction – be that interaction with the community or raising a smile from the public. Most of all we want to provoke people to stop, take notice, and look at this apple tree in a new way.”

Charlotte added: “We need leaves of all sizes to cover the entire tree and offer free knitting patterns for woolly wildlife. You don’t have to be a knitter to join up. We are also harnessing the power of the pompom to create a towering piece of textile art and urge volunteers of all ages to get in touch”.

Knits and pompoms are sought ahead of the event by 10 October. The apple tree yarn-bomb will be on display throughout Killerton’s cider and apple festival on 18 and 19 October. Contact Charlotte Eddington on 01392 881345 or charlotte.eddington@nationaltrust.org.uk.

I’ll be joining in and adding my little contribution to the yarn bombed apple tree. My in-laws live just down the road so hopefully we’ll be able to go and try to find our creations on the tree.

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My crafty round up of 2013

I’ve been looking at lots of other blogs whilst eating and drinking way too much over this Christmas period and everyone seems to be doing a review of the year, so here is my little KSS review to add to the blogosphere.

MOST IMPROVED

My crochet skills have come on leaps and bounds in 2013, culminating in this Retro Rainbow Granny Square blanket made for my niece back in early 2012. Since then, I have managed some crochet bunting, a toy, a little amigurumi and some placements and pot holders, courtesy of Kat Goldin’s on-line, summer crochet camp.

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BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT 

Another Ava make, this time a cute ‘all in one’ cardigan. This baby cardigan was my first completed knitted item of clothing. Although it took quite a while to finish, I was really pleased with the result and the professional finish. Just need Ava to get big enough to wear it now!

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QUICKEST MAKE 

Cross stitch is always a quick an impressive way to add a touch of home-made handiwork to a gift and this make was no exception. I had an evening to make a baby gift for my husband’s work colleague so stitched some star motifs onto this cashmere mix baby blanket, using soluble canvas.

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FAVOURITE MAKE 

The Sew in my Knit Stitch Sew blog title gets constantly overlooked in favour for crafts that come more naturally to me. So sewing some make-up bags using a tutorial I found on Pinterest was a highlight for me. Once I’d mastered inserting a zip and correct measuring of corners, I managed to make these cute little bags which went down a storm this Christmas.

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BEST COMMERCIAL MAKE 

I was commissioned to stitch these keepsake vests in the summer for a friend’s children. Such a simple project but a great end result. 2013 was a great year for me making for others, including multiple baby blankets knitted to order and a felt cuddly toy.

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BIGGEST HEADACHE

I’m struggling even to type the words… ROMAN BLIND.. but no doubt this was my biggest craft induced headache of 2013. Having taken on the challenge to make a roman blind for my very wide kitchen window, I wouldn’t be beaten! After making it once and realising it wasn’t working, I had to unpick, re-stitch and use every ounce of my crafty willpower to get this one finished.

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STARTED BUT NOT FINISHED

Taking me into 2014, there are two things I’ve started but for one reason or another, am way off finishing. My Tunnocks Tea Cake stitched picture – a combination of stitching on evenweave and a multitude of red threads means that this is something which has fallen to the bottom of my craft bag.  The other, my black slouchy, knitted cardigan using an Erica Knight pattern, is progressing S-L-O-W-L-Y! I’m finding it tough to do if i’m not wide awake and un-distracted… kind of difficult to snatch any moments like this in my house!

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Little Things

I love a big craft project. The slow and steady click clack of the needles, a project which is picked up and put down at will, filling many a happy evening in front of the TV. I’ve just cast on a pattern by Erika Knight called Edge to Edge Cardigan, which I’m knitting in black..( I love the hand drawn illustration on the pattern)

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I’ve also got a huge cross stitch project on the go – remember that amazing Tunnocks Teacake project from Cross Stitcher Magazine in the Spring? A million different shades of red combined with evenweave means it’s currently nestled at the bottom of my craft basket.

I will finish these projects at some point but I know they will take an AGE so I’m constantly on the hunt for a quick craft fix. It could be any medium but on days like this I’m looking for something which is easy to pick up and start, finishes quickly and looks nice enough for a gift.

Crochet has been my go to quick craft but lately I’ve been making up those little free kits you get with the likes of Crafty,  Mollie Makes and Cross Stitch Magazine. I’ve stashed loads of them over the past year from all of the magazines I buy (that’s a whole other blog post). I like the fact that they are a project in a pack – all ready and waiting to take on a train, a car journey or to accompany a night in front of the TV.

I’m just about to finish a Mollie Makes cross stitch project by designer Eline Pellinkhof, which has been really fun to do and only taken a couple of hours to complete. My need to craft has been satisfied, combined with a great sense of achievement at having finished something AND adding it to my pile of ad hoc gifts for friends and family. It’s a win win situation!

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Top of my list to complete from my collection of kits are;

1. Funky Felt Owl Keyring from issue 270 of Cross Stitcher Magazine

2. Jane Foster Sausage Dog from Mollie Makes

3. Mirror pouch stitch kit (not sure where that one is from. Eeek! Publishers please print the magazine and issue number on the kits!)

4.Felt Bird Keyring from issue 26 of Mollie Makes

There are also a couple of Christmas ones I’m going to try to get done this year. Here’s my stash of freebie craft kits… think I maybe buy a few to many magazines…

Magazine kits

What do you do with your freebie kits?

Happy 1st Bloggy Birthday To Me

It’s my first birthday!

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It’s gone by so quickly I almost missed it. It really has been a whirlwind 12 months for me, in addition to starting my blog we’ve sold and bought a house, I’ve changed jobs and generally been all over the place.

I can truly say that I don’t know what I did before I launched Knit Stitch Sew. Watch too much TV probably. The blog was on my list of things to do for yonks before I actually took the plunge and wrote my first post back in late August 2012. I don’t know why it took me so long – a combination of time and focus but more overwhelmingly, the worry that people would think ‘what IS she doing? Knitting? Cross Stitch? WHAT???’.

My liking of craft has always been bubbling away in the background, never something to admit to but with the launch of various craft magazines and my journey into the world of blogs as a reader my liking reached obsession status and the blog was born.

So what were my aims when I started? I wanted to connect with like-minded bloggers and crafters. I wanted to try to make my mark in the UK craft scene (not as a crafter as much as a writer/commentator – I can only follow patters, I can’t write them!). I also wanted to add a focus to my crafting – by telling others what I was doing, I’d have to do it. Right?!

And what have I learnt?

1. I love blogging. It really has added focus to my crafting adventures and its great to have a record of the work I’ve done over the past year

2. Bloggers are a friendly lot. I joined the bloggy community with the aim of connecting with like-minded people. And boy, did that work! Tick! Craft bloggers are a lovely lot. I’ve been to a blogging conference (TOTS100 in Bristol), taken part in numerous Twitter chats and parties, attended exhibitions and generally had the most lovely reception on and off-line from the bloggers I’ve met. Thank you.

3. I’m still a bloggy baby. Blogging is hard work. It takes time to build your page, your followers and it’s a cliché, but you really can only do it for you. If you’re blogging to make money forget it. I’ve been lucky and have already received invites to press events, been included on PR media lists so I receive press releases and have been sent crafty product to trial BUT there has been no money changing hands…. ah well, maybe next year… 😉

4. It’s a great learning experience.  Writing my blog has motivated me to try out some new crafts – crochet which I LOVE LOVE LOVE, machine embroidery and paper craft

5. It’s opened up the world of commissions. Far from being laughed out of the park with my revelation of being a craft addict, I have been commissioned – yes people have actually paid me money – to craft for them. WOW. This is something I never, ever thought would happen. I’ve knitted wedding shrugs, embroidered new-born baby memory keepers, crocheted baby blankets – amazing.

I hope my second year brings more brilliant crafty things. Watch this space! Here’s a quick pictorial round-up of my favourite makes from this year.

round up of the first year

For the love of… The Purl Bee

I started my little blog after discovering a whole new world of knitting, stitching and sewing out there in the blogosphere nearly a year ago. And one of the blogs I’ve really, truely fallen head over heels in love with is called The Purl Bee. http://www.purlbee.com/ Do you know it?

The Purl Soho is a very cool shop in SoHo, New York. For those of us who, sadly, can’t trot over to NY on a monthly basis, they also have a great online store http://www.purlsoho.com/purl to peruse and ponder over beautiful yarn, fabric, starter kits and more.  The needlepoint canvas arer really lovely and not at all twee. No ye olde English cottages or Geisha girls here… AND they ship to the UK. Brilliant.

Anyway, back to the blog. Each week, the team at The Purl Bee blog a tutorial – usually yarn or stitch based – with excellent photos, tutorials and handy hints. And each week I find myself adding one of their tutorials to my to do list! The colour and styling of the tutorials really appeals to me – the colour choice is always subtle and stylish. Greys, lemons, creams, tan compliment pops of neon pink, rich blues and banana yellow. This colour pallette on beautiful wool looks sumptuous and expensive. I love it!

The stitchy projects are just as stylish. Bags are usually featured and again the contemporary choice of subtle colours and trendy shapes such as totes and clutches make the projects irresistable.

You may have come across the Ravelry ‘Knit The Queue’ activity – whereby Ravellers who (like me) have added favourite patterns to their online queue are knitting their way through them in 2013 – well I have a ‘Knit the Queue’ going on with Purl Bee. Here’s a list of Purl Bee makes on my to do list. Not sure I’ll get them all done this year but I’ll try!

1 – Baby Bloomers

http://www.purlbee.com/the-purl-bee/2013/7/7/whits-knits-baby-bloomers.html

These gorgeous baby bloomers are on the list for Ava. I’m thinking of doing these in a dark red to add a pop of colour to winter outfits.

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2 – Baby Jumper

http://www.purlbee.com/the-purl-bee/2013/3/14/whits-knits-baby-jumper.html

Another one for Ava… I’m going to stick to the pink and grey colour pallette here

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3 – Cap Sleeve Sweater

http://www.purlbee.com/the-purl-bee/2012/5/3/lauras-loop-cap-sleeve-lattice-top.html

Thinking I will do a grey bottom half with a subtle cream on top, as per the picture

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4 – The 40 minute tote

http://www.purlbee.com/the-purl-bee/2012/6/3/mollys-sketchbook-the-forty-minute-tote.html

Definitely doing a denim version but I also have some pretty patterned fabric I’d like to try, perhaps lined with demin. Reversible maybe? There are loads of great bag tutorials on the site.

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5 – Toddler Socks

http://www.purlbee.com/the-purl-bee/2013/3/28/whits-knits-toddler-socks.html

I am DETERMINED to conquer my hatred of sock knitting! There must be a way! And these beautiful little socks look like a great way to start

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Valentine’s Day

We don’t really go in for Valentine’s Day in our house.

“Too commercial” is Hubby’s opinion and I tend to agree. We exchange cards (a bit begrudgingly on his part) but other than that it goes unmarked and sometimes un-noticed!
However, another seasonal event means another excuse to trawl blogs and Pinterest for crafty inspiration! I’m determined to crack crochet and really want to make some beautiful heart themed gifts I’ve seen on favourite blogs Attic24 and Cherry Heart.

So last night, whilst Hubby was out on his usual Wednesday night football and pub night, I set up the iPad and arranged my hooks and wool, determined to finish at least one teeny, tiny heart. Starting with Lucy at Attic 24’s pattern I completed a little heart in no time! I made a second to check the first hasn’t been a fluke and a third to check I really could make them. And I could! Here’s my attempt. Cute eh?

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So, full of confidence I moved onto Sandra at Cherry Heart’s pattern for a granny heart (granny as in granny square for those not so au fait with crochet terms). This was quite tricky for a novice like me but with a bit of a wiggle, a wing and a prayer I finished a granny heart!! Here it is…

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Bit wonky, but with Sandra’s clear instructions and photos I was able to make it. I’m so pleased and am walking around with a big smile on my face now. So, what did I do with my cute crochet hearts? Final piece of inspiration came from Meredith over at http://onesheepishgirl.blogspot.co.uk/

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Here’s hoping this special Valentine’s Day card with find a place in Hubby’s heart. Happy Valentine’s Day x

Quick baby hat

This January sees a baby boom in our circle of friends and family. This weekend was the turn of our next door neighbours who welcomed a little boy – Jack Dylan – into their lives, a baby brother for Imogen.

So, as ever, I picked up my knitting needles to whip up a quick present. After searching through my books and magazines, I decided on this Simple Baby Hat from one of my favourite knitting books Purls of Wisdom by Jenny Lord. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Purls-Wisdom-Knitting-Jenny-Lord/dp/1846143020/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1357573748&sr=1-1

The hat is pretty simple, other than its knitted in the round (building up the DPN’S experience!) and uses easy K, P and K2tog stitches. I used a 4mm set of DPN’s and choose one ball of dark denim blue Sublime baby cashmere merino silk DK.

So cute! Can’t wait to see it on but think I’ll have a wait a few weeks…

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Purl Bee Handwarmers

As I’ve slowly made my recovery from norovirus and flu, I’ve also got my motivation back for all things wooly. After assuming I’d be knitting like crazy all over the Christmas period, in actual fact I’ve done hardly anything.
So, in a quest to master knitting with double pointed needles, I discovered this cute pattern for knitted hand warmers on one of my favourite blogs Purl Bee http://www.purlbee.com/super-soft-merino-hand-warmers/ . This really helped me find my feet with the DPN’s and I’ve gained massive confidence using the four needles and knitting a rib. For some reason I fine k1 p1 much easier to master than k2 p2!
The pattern was really simple and quick to knit, I used the Sidar Folksy wool I bought just before Christmas. Although I think the warmers are supposed to be for adult hands, and these do fit me (the k1 p1 rib stretches really nicely), Missy has decided she’d like them so I have given them to her.

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A knitted supermarket!

My friend Louise sent me a great link this morning featuring a knitted market currently exhibiting in the centre of Brisol. It look fab! The knitted shop has been created by a group of artists who call themselves ‘Knitiffi’ and their mission is to brighten up the world with some amazingly creative knitted works of art.

The knitted supermarket is is open from 19th until 23rd December at The Parlour Showrooms, Bristol, and all proceeds from sales of wooly products go directly to the Expressions art project run by Bristol based charity The Milestone Trust. The charity supports around 1,000 people with learning disabilities, mental health needs and dementia in the Bristol area to live as they choose and achieve their own ‘milestones’.

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knitted flowers

Definately worth a visit. http://www.knitiffi.blogspot.co.uk/