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Thursday, 29 May 2014

Hitting the headlines


I have some exciting news (pun 100% not intended..) today.........I'm in the news! At the beginning of the year I received business start up training for my crochet business from Blue Orchid. Blue Orchid are a fab bunch who give free start-up business training in the North-West. They have offered me great support, from formulating that dreaded business plan to managing my finances and social media strategy. I was thrilled to hear that they wanted to use me and my business (I still feel a bit too grown up when I say that!) as a case-study on their website in April. You can see it here. They then went further and wanted to use my case to promote Blue Orchid services in the local media....hence ending up in the news! 

You can read the full article here but here's a little snippit! 

Eeeeek! You now also know what I look like (and I have an acceptable 'crochet' photo for my 'about me page' )! Photo credit goes to the lovely Peter Norris :-)

Anyway, I would highly recommend Blue Orchid for business support if you are living up north- do go check them out.....


Tuesday, 27 May 2014

The bank holiday weekend

This isn't actually going to be a post about what I got up to over the bank holiday weekend, as quite frankly it would be a very boring read- not much to say and no pictures. This is because I worked the entire weekend. Bank holidays in the catering industry are notoriously busy, so consequently not only did I put in the hours I was rushed off my feet for every one of them! Coupled with a (very) boozy night out Sunday I can admit to feeling a little broken this morning. There are loads of things I need to be getting on with but I fear the way I am feeling today may mean I screw something up, setting me back another day! So, after publishing this post I may retire to the sofa with a cuppa and reclaim a bit of energy in preparation for work this evening......

Work doesn't always get in the way of crafting though, and between shifts I sewed in all the ends of my work in progress blanket which you can read about here and here. If I can summon up the energy I may lay out all the pieces and begin to think about sewing it up.

I don't mean this to be a moany woe me post, as although I do loathe working bank holidays I think it may be the last one I will have to work in a long time (fingers crossed!). I have some very exciting news to hopefully share soon, as long as all the details are finalised.

What did you get up to at the weekend? I would love it if you could post some links to your bank holiday posts so I can see all your lovely pictures :-) 

Friday, 23 May 2014

Colour qwandry......

I just cannot decide which colour combination I like the best......

Any suggestions? 


Thursday, 22 May 2014

Healthy snacks and knitting books

I'm trying to be healthier at the moment, I've started going to the gym (gasp!) and am making more of an effort with my diet. Working in a pizza restaurant I eat a lot of carbs, and I mean a lot- breakfast, lunch and dinner! I'm trying to eat more fruit and veg and incorporate more protein into my meals. I also think that eating better and doing more exercise will help with my RSI. To get through a long evening shift at work I need healthy energy-giving food so what better snack than a banana? The only problem is I haven't eaten a single one of the bunch of bananas I bought last week (I blame this on being ill and a lack of appetite), and my whole flat is starting to smell of ripe bananas. Ewww!

I would have normally just made a banana bread to use up the bananas, but as I said I'm trying to be healthy so I checked out out some alternatives.  After a quick google I came across this recipe for 'Banana and Oat Bites' on Julie's blog, 'The Simple Veganista' . Her blog is a feast for your eyes- beautiful photography of simple (often raw), healthy vegan dishes. As I mentioned earlier in the week, I'm not a vegan, but I do tend to eat vegan a lot of the time, and as I'm trying to eat more healthily often vegan food is the way to go. 

Another bonus of this recipe is that it only contains 3 main ingredients (or 4 if you want to add an extra little treat). THREE! and its all made in one bowl so minimal washing up! No sugar, no flour, just banana, oats and cinnamon. I added sunflower seeds for a bit of protein and crunch.  Delicious! I polished off those in no time and am struggling the temptation to sneak back for a third.  

In other news, the polling station is in the library so I had a quick browse of the craft books and found this one: 'Knits to fit and flatter' by Jane Ellison (the owner of the infamous Purl and Jane in Skipton). You can see some of her designs on her Ravelry designer page. There are at least 5 projects in it I am desperate to try! Have any of you knitted from her patterns? 


P.s. I'll hold my hands up I got takeaway on Tuesday (and it included a portion of chips of which I ate the whole lot!) 

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Misty mornings and nippy nights- a new design!


I am very pleased to announce I have added another pattern to my Ravelry Store.......this misty mornings and nippy nights ear-warmer headband.

When I asked followers of my Facebook page what they would like to see me making a few people said 'ear-warmer/headband/hat type thing'. So here you are....an ear-warmer/headband/hat type thing! You may think it is a bit late in the year for this type of thing, but it is still chilly first thing in the morning and will provide perfect protection from cold ears during those late nights sitting around the fire or BBQ. 

Misty mornings and nippy nights by SallyStrawberry

This is crocheted in winkle picot stitch in the gorgeous chunky by Libby Summers. You can see my little review of this yarn here. If you have a go at this please do let me know what you think! Eeek! Exciting!

I hope you are all having a great day! Personally I'm feeling pretty ropey.....have a feeling I ought to get my iron levels checked out but I'm pretty please I have accomplished this today! Might even go out and treat myself to lunch. Wait- its 3 O'Clock already?! 


P.S. I would like to give a massive thanks to my gorgeous model, my little sis Ruby. One day I will be brave enough to model things myself! Thanks Rubes! xxx

This weekend...cake, crafts and bugs! Pt. 2

So yesterday you saw what we ate, today this is what we saw....

Ladybird on a sage flower (I have never seen a sage flower before but both of our sage plants are in full bloom this year....maybe its not good for the herb quality but I don't care- they are so pretty)

....and another ladybird on the end of a knitting needle. Yes, knitting and insects combined- my two favorite things.

.....and another picked up by my friend Hayley......you can see its face!

I was taking some general photos of our herbs (we grew all of these from seed ya know!) and when cropping the picture noticed there was another bug emerging from one of the sage flowers....

.......he looks poised for flight! I just love the colours in this photo.

Here we have Bailey....our next door neighbour's cat who had all but disappeared whilst I was getting my camera set up!

He is gorgeous- sometimes I have to resist the urge not to steal him! Luckily he is very friendly so we give him lots of cuddles!

I hope this weather holds!


Monday, 19 May 2014

This weekend...cake, crafts and bugs! Pt. 1


I hope you all had a great weekend and enjoyed the weather. Unfortunately I was at work on Saturday but more than made up for it yesterday!

I had a few friends round and we sat in the garden with lots of nibbly foods and a bit of cider. It was lovely and relaxing.....just chatting, eating and doing a bit of crochet. I taught a total beginner how to chain and double crochet and she was away! I was very impressed by the speed at which she learnt! I managed a few 'squares' of my current WIP and helped a friend get started on as new project. 

I love to bake but haven't had much time recently. I got this book 'Ms Cupcake' for Christmas and despite flicking through it numerous times I had never had the time to make anything from it. At first glances this book is a cute, quirky cake book.....a bit different from the Mary Berry's, but it is actually vegan! Veganism is often stereotyped as being adopted by people after a more healthy lifestyle and more recently there has been heightened interest in raw food, which consequently is almost always vegan. This book is worlds apart from this stereotype, as many (cue lots!) of vegans are vegan because of their objection to the conditions animals farmed for food have to endure. These vegans still want cake, and the stickier, more sugary the better!

I will just point at that I am not vegan- I am a lactose-intolerant vegetarian. This means that most of my diet is vegan, but I do sometimes eat eggs and the occasional bit of cheese!

It was this 'Rhubarb and Custard' cake that caught my eye. For one- I just love rhubarb and custard (especially together) and two- I was enticed by this pretty, colourful picture!

First off I made the decorative crumble....

This tasted absolutely delicious.

Then the sponges. I have never made sponges without eggs before so was a bit nervous but as you can see, nothing to worry about! Big fat sponges. They rose like a dream :-)

Then onto my favorite part of any cake....the icing! I would be more than happy to polish off a whole tub of icing if my teeth didn't ache and scream 'NOOOOOOOO' a few spoonfuls in. This icing was extra special- it contained custard powder. Double yum.

To be honest I was a bit disappointed by the final result (well the look of it anyway). Firstly the lovely pink colour on the top (see the pic in the book) was meant to be achieved by swirling rhubarb through the icing. However, the tinned rhubarb I bought had been peeled and was just green. Soas not to make a cake that looked like snot, I left the rhubarb off and sprinkled some more crumble on instead. The biggest disappointment however was that I could not find any rhubarb and custard sweets to buy :-(

So all in all, I was left with a pretty plain looking cake....

It did taste preeety good though! Bizarrely it tasted 'eggy', a bit like a victoria sponge although there was not an egg in sight! Got a fair amount left so hopefully I can get through it before it goes stale- apparently vegan cake doesn't last as long as 'normal' cake!

So this is part one of my weekend. More pictures to share tomorrow....

What did you get up to at the weekend?


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Weekender by Woolly Wormhead

This weekend I cracked on with a 'me time' project- this fabulous knitted hat called 'Weekender' by Woolly Wormhead. You can find more designs on her website here

There is a teeny backstory on this. It's not really very interesting so to cut a (not very) long story short, when my mum and sister were visiting last October we found the best ever yarn shop- Purl City Yarns in Manchester's Northern Quarter. They stock a great range of delightfully squidgy yarns from Artesano, to Noro, to Adriafil to Debbie Bliss to Araucania. They also have a lot of samples made up in the yarns they stock. This hat was one of them and rightly so my mum  loved it and bought the pattern and the yarn to make it!

Fast forward 4 months- I start following this awesome hat designer on Twitter and decide to try out one of her designs one of these days.

Fast forward a further two months and I'm visiting my parents. My mum thrusts a carrier bag into my hands saying "try this if you fancy it, its that hat pattern I bought yonks ago in Manchester. I put it down for a while and forgot where I was up to......don't really fancy going back to it now but give it a go if you have the time".

Fast forward to 5 days ago- no deadlines, fancy a relaxing weekend and remember this pattern (she even gave me the needles and yarn- winner!). Find it up and guess what?! It's a Woolly Wormhead design!

This hat was knitted in Araucania shade 810. Its a corally/salmony pink. The yarn was wonderful to worth with and beautifully soft on account of it being 30% Alpaca, 45% Merino and 15% Silk (and 10% Donegal).

I knitted the whole hat on double-pointed needles as I have never got to grips with circular needles for hats. It was an interesting knit. I say interesting because there were three distinct stitch patterns meaning that I never got bored. First there was the ribbed brim, then a lace-pattern involving yarn-overs and the crown was stocking stitch. Disaster struck when after a tiring day at work Sunday I was determined to finish the lace-pattern part and I must have missed a yarn over. I went into panic mode, then tantrum mode but somehow I managed to get it on track (really not sure how as I'm not a really experienced knitter!), phew! It is a bit obvious there is a mistake but only to the trained eye (I hope!). 

I loved everything about this hat- the easy-to-follow pattern, the scrummy yarn and the fit. This will be in the post for my mum tomorrow but I'm very tempted to make myself one in the leftover yarn!

Here are a couple more photos:

Monday, 12 May 2014

Yarn Review- Libby Summers Chunky

Well hello there!

Isn't this yarn just gorgeous?!

This single ply chunky yarn by Libby Summers (this particular yarn is called 'Light Grey Marl') was a dream to work with.

I had been hankering to try out some of Libby's yarn since we 'met' during Crochet Camp last summer. I love the ethos behind Libby's yarn and her designs (be sure to check out her website for the full story behind Libby's business).  This yarn in 100% highland wool from Peru, manufactured by the Quechua group of peoples in South America.  The yarn is soft yet durable which can be attributed to the breed of the sheep (a cross between the Corridale and the Merino) and their home which is a whopping 2000m above sea level. The yarn even smelt 'sheepy' - I just couldn't resist giving it a sniff!

I had a design in mind when I purchased a ball of this yarn and it was just perfect for it. The yarn is really easy to work with and gave great stitch definition which was even more obvious after blocking as the yarn really relaxed.

See the amazing stitch definition? 

What's more, the 50g cake of yarn was just the right amount for the design I had in mind, and at £4.95 it was a total bargain! I'm already dreaming up more designs in this yarn so be certain this isn't the last of it you will see from me!

Update: This finished pattern can be found on Ravelry here and is blogged about here


Please note this post was in no way sponsored. I bought this yarn to try it out, loved it and want to spread the word! 

Friday, 9 May 2014

Foxy Friday.....a giveaway!


To celebrate achieving 200 likes on my Facebook Page I am running a giveaway over on Facebook. Thanks so much to you who have liked my page, taking me over the 200 mark. I am very grateful to you all for all off your support- reading my sometimes questionable writing and commenting and liking my Facebook posts and photos! I find social media a minefield at times, especially for someone who finds 'selling themselves' one of life's biggest challenges. So once again, thankyou!

These little critters caused quite a stir at a recent market (sadly they still require a home though) so I thought I would make something similar specially for this giveaway.....

.....a slightly stuffed foxy decoration looking for a new home. All you have to do to enter is hop along over to my facebook page, give us a like and suggests a name for this handsome fella or lassy in the comments box. Names will be drawn at random next Friday.

Best of luck!

SS xx

p.s The fox bunting was taken on my phone and it ain't no iphone- sorry for the poor quality!

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Crochet Cables

I don't know about you but I love learning new things- in life in general but especially in crochet and knitting. I have 2 crochet/knitting related goals (you could even call them New Years Resolutions):

1- Learn how to crochet cables

I love knitting in cables- I love how I never get bored doing it, and the gorgeous patterns and shapes cables can create. I have always wanted to learn to crochet in cables but could never understand the patterns. This is a first for me really as I am pretty good at dissecting patterns but I just could not 'get' the concept of how they worked in crochet.

So, a couple of days ago with a spare ten minutes I plonked myself down in front of the computer armed with yarn and hook and browsed some YouTube videos on how to crochet cables. After filtering out a few naff ones I came across a couple of gooduns.

This video by Sedruola Maruska of Yarn Obsession was great at teaching me the basic cable stitch. It is in American terms however so the double crochet she talks about is a UK treble and the treble she uses is a UK double-treble. 

Ta-dah! Using this video I made a small cable sample:

I really likes the effect but I do find it a bit 'gappy'. Maybe it would be better using chunky yarn (this was aran). I will have to try it out! 

I also tried running 3 cables next to each other but if you stretch it out a bit you are left with massive gaps between the cables. This may be ok depending on the project though.

Finally I found a video detailing how to do a braided cable. This is my favourite type of knitted cable so gave it a go. This video by BonnieBayCrochet (see her YouTube Channel here and her website here) taught just that:

Please note this video also uses US crochet terminology.

And here you go- my attempt! This cabling was more complex but once you get the hang of it you are away! 

I love this too......really not sure which I prefer yet!

I really must apologise for the colour of the yarn- I just grabbed whatever was nearest- I didn't realise it would be the least photogenic yarn ever!

There are loads of different type of crochet cables (or so I can gather from YouTube) am I am looking forward to resting out some more. I already have a couple of design ideas whirling around my head using cables, and from what I can see the possibilities are endless!

Have you any experience with crochet cables? Do you have a preferred method or any tips you can share? If so I would love to hear from you :-)


Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Work In Progress Wednesday


As promised I have another colour to show you on my WIP......

Last week I showed you this:

Now I have this:

So, what do you think this blanket is going to be? And have you noticed anything slightly unusual about the shape of the granny 'squares'. Some people on my Facebook Page are on the right track.....

Talking about my Facebook page I have been at 199 likes for agggggges! If I get to 200 likes I will run another giveaway. You know what to do :-)

Have a great day!