Kaffe Fassett and Rowan Yarns Mystery Afghan KAL – Clue 8 Pattern Chart

Kaffe_Fassett_Clue_8It’s week 8! Man, the suspension is killing me! Just one more square left to mystery now! By now I’m sure most of us are feeling the pre-Christmas oh-my-god-its-crazy-busy stress, so I won’t keep you from getting things done any longer. Not sure if anyone reads my blurbs about this KAL anyways, or if ya’ll just scroll down to the good stuff (the charts, that is).

For the full instructions, head to the Rowan Yarns KAL website.
If this is your first time visiting, you may want to be interested in the charts for the previews squares: Clue 1, Clue 2, Clue 3, Clue 4, Clue 5, Clue 6, Clue 7.

I’m loving this week’s turquoise colourway, and I really hope I’ll manage to get all squares done before the holidays. So far I’ve kept up every week. As usual, the brown colourway is courtesy of Nottingham Knitter Sarah!

Turquoise

Turquoise

Red

Red

Kaffe_Fassett_Clue_8_pastel

Pastel

Kaffe_Fassett_Clue_8_brown

Nottingham Knitter’s Brown

Come on knitters! Just 7 more squares to go after this colourway! WE CAN DO IT!

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DIY Recycled Cardboard Jewellery Display Tutorial

Cardboard_Jewellery_Display

I don’t know about you, but it’s already March and some of my NYE resolutions haven’t really taken off. Like reducing my yarn stash. Or fitting back into my old jeans. Or decluttering.
Decluttering! It’s amazing how much stuff we collect over the years. I’ve been feeling quite heavy (not literally.. ok maybe a little bit) with things in the last few months.
I was originally planning to get rid of at least one possession every day of the year. That makes 365 things in a year. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

But as things go, I commute between two countries, I have two households, I have a lot of stuff, but not necessarily all in one place. So the decluttering doesn’t always happen when and where I’d like it to happen.
I’m  spending 2 consecutive weeks in the same house this month, so last week saw me frantically rooting through my wardrobes, drawers, boxes, tins – you name it, I’ve probably got something stored in it.

I don’t like throwing perfectly good clothes (jewellery, household items) away, I’d rather swap or resell them, or give them to charity. Time for a trip to the flea market! 

Previous trips to markets and car boot sales have taught me that chaos is not good. Jumble is not good. Nobody will be interested in your things if your stall is one big mess. So this year, I’m being super organised. I’m taking tables to display all the little items, clothes racks for all the stuff I don’t wear anymore.. but what to do with the jewellery?
I could buy a jewellery display. But wait, the whole idea was to get rid of things, not buy more things! So I came up with a quick and simple solution: A cardboard display that can be discarded (you can of course keep it and reuse it later).
I had all the materials at home so it cost me literally nothing apart from a little time. So here’s my tutorial for a super easy, cost effective and environment friendly portable jewellery display.

You will need:

Strong cardboard (an old box does the job)
Scissors
A very sharp knife
Large darning needle
Surface you can cut on

Cardboard_Jewellery_Display_materials

Start by deciding what items you want to display, and how big you’d like your display to be. Cut your cardboard to the desired size using the scissors (I used the knife, but scissors are a bit neater. The knife will leave your edges slighty rough). Next, decide what you want to hang where. Earrings take up the least space, short necklaces can be displayed beneath each other, long ones lined up next to each other.

Cardboard_Jewellery_Display_earrings

To hang your earrings, simply punch a hole for each earring through the cardboard with your darning needle. Make sure to leave some space between the holes so your dangly earrings don’t get tangled.

Cardboard_Jewellery_Display_earrings_tutorial

For shorter necklaces, use your knife to diagonally make one cut into each side of your cardboard like shown in the photo below.

Cardboard_Jewellery_Display_necklace_short_tutorial

For really long or bulky necklaces, cut out an upside down ‘U’.

Cardboard_Jewellery_Display_necklace_long_tutorial_diy

Punch the ‘U’ from the back of the cardboard so it stands out a little bit. Use the ‘U’ like a hook to hang up your necklace. This method also works well for bracelets.

Cardboard_Jewellery_Display_necklace_long_tutorial

Before you hang up all your things, you could also use pens, markers or paint to draw on your cardboard. Once you’re satisfied with how your display looks, decide how you want to hang it. I used metal scarf hangers as their grip is quite firm and they will hold a lot of weight. I can simply hang them onto the ends of the clothes racks and people will be able to see all the pretty things without having to dig through a box of tangled chains. You could of course also just lean them against something, or tie some string through two holes at the top and hang them on a wall. Or use a skirt hanger and hang inside your wardrobe for neat jewellery storage.

Cardboard jewelry display

Moontree Pillow Pattern by IamSnowfox

Welcome back dear readers in 2014! 

It has been quiet on my blog as I’ve been so busy the past few weeks. I moved house just before Christmas, so the last weeks were spent painting, unpacking boxes and decorating. I took a little timeout between Christmas and New Year to go to Austria and recharge my batteries (and eat lots of grandma’s Christmas cookies).
My knitting needles and designs lay neglected in my suitcase as I was too busy snowboarding, walking the dog and sleeping.
Austria was covered in snow, and during one of my evening walks while looking at the bare trees glistening with frost under a full moon, the idea for the Moontree Pillow was born. 

IamSnowfox_MoonTree_Pillow

This pillow gives the illusion of colourwork,  the tree motif is embroidered on after the knitting is finished, giving the tree a slightly raised and more defined texture than if it was knit into the the fabric. It also means you’ll only knit with one colour at a time, making it a great colourwork project for a beginner knitter.
The pattern is available for download in my Ravelry Store

I have used new Rowan Yarns Pure Wool Worsted for my pillow, it’s a wonderfully soft, superwash yarn that comes in a whopping 50 shades.
The colours are beautiful and vibrant and the colour palette is well chosen, making this new yarn an instant stash staple.
My pillow was knit using colours Moonstone and Ivory, but it would look gorgeous in any colour combination.

IamSnowfox_MoonTree_PillowI will be giving away the pattern to one lucky reader for free! Simply comment on this post and tell me what your favourite thing about winter is! Competition runs until February 2nd and the winner will be announced on the IamSnowfox facebook page  and Twitter.

Good Luck!

Anthropologie Inspired Gift Tag Tutorial

I recently saw Anthropologie’s cute Pop Dot Monogram Decorations, and immediately decided that yarn letters would be perfect as gift tags for my Christmas presents this year. Almost all of my presents are handmade, so of course the tags would have to be handmade too. I have lots of odd bits of wool and glittery things lying around, and these letters are perfect to use those last scraps up.

Anthropologie Gift Tags FinishedThese letter tags are quick to make, the materials cost next to nothing and they look cute both as gift tags and as decorations on your Christmas tree! I made a whole set of MERRY CHRISTMAS letters which I’m giving away as a gift this year. And of course you could change the theme to go with any occasion, birthdays, holidays.. you name it!

Here’s what you need:

Anthropologie Gift Tags Utensils1. Glue Stick (I like Pritt)
2. Hot Glue Gun (keep out of reach of children!)
3. Decorations (I used card making supplies, but anything goes. Sequins, beads, etc)
4. Scrap Yarn
5. Pencil
6. Cardboard
7. Scissors

First, decide how big you want your letters to be. You can either draw them freely, or print templates and glue them to your cardboard. I made my letters about 7cms tall. Cut all letters out neatly trying not to bend the cardboard too much.
Anthropologie Gift Tags RawChoose your yarn colours. Start by glueing the end of your strand of yarn to the cardboard with the hot glue gun and let it dry. Wrap a thin layer of yarn around the whole letter. If you have trouble keeping the yarn in place, use a little bit of hot glue to fix single strands. Don’t worry about the glue peeking through, you can hide the glue under the next layer of yarn. I used hot glue for sharp angles and to stop the yarn from sliding off the edges of my letters. Tiny amounts of glue will do so don’t go overboard. You can even out any wonky lines in your letter by simply wrapping more or less yarn around the cardboard.Anthropologie Gift Tags HalfwayLetters with holes (A’s, D’s, etc) can be tricky to wrap if they are too small. It helps winding your wool into a tiny ball that will fit through the holes, or cut a long piece of string, thread it through a sewer’s needle and use that to wrap your letter. 
Anthropologie Gift Tags PureWhen you have finished wrapping your letters, pick up your glue gun and your decorations and get creative! 

Merry Christmas!
Anthropologie Gift Tags Present

Manly Honeycomb Mittens Knitting Pattern

Manly Honeycomb Mittens Pattern

Mr Fox has been complaining about cold hands all winter last year, and who am I to not take mercy? I thought long and hard about what kind of mittens to make for him, since he tends to be rather picky and doesn’t necessarily go for colour combinations I would choose. I toyed with the idea of making just plain old solid-coloured mittens, as they tend to be quick and easy, and wouldn’t make me grumble if he lost them, but then my knitting pride took over and I wanted them to be at least a little bit fancy. The instructions will make a pair of adult men’s size mittens. I will include alterations for a women’s sized pair at the end of the pattern as well. Check out my Ravelry project page!

I settled on a knitted honeycomb mitten pattern and Rowan Yarns Creative Focus Worsted, a mix of 75% Wool and 25% Alpaca in shades Natural and New Fern. I already had single balls of each colour in my stash and thought they looked rather nice together. The mittens are lovely and soft, and the pattern makes them wonderfully thick and squishy. Wearing these, Mr Fox’s paws will be toasty all winter! And after knitting a pair I had enough yarn left over to make another pair for myself.

Pattern:Manly Honeycomb Mitts inside

You will need:
1 skein of worsted weight colour A (Main colour)
1 skein of worsted weight colour B (Contrasting colour)
1 set of 3,5mm dpns (I use sets of 5)
1 set of 4mm dpns (I use sets of 5)
Safety pin or stitch holder
Tapestry needle to weave in ends
Stitch Marker (optional)

Cast on 40 sts with colour A on 3,5mm needles, distribute evenly across needles and join. Place stitch marker (optional).

Cuff:
*K2, P2, rep from * until end. Repeat this row 24 more times for a total of 25 rows (or adjust to whichever length you prefer).
Change to 4mm needles.*Inc, P4, rep from * until end (48sts).
Purl one row.

Honeycomb Pattern:
Part 1:
Row 1: *K4 with colour B, Sl 2 purlwise of colour A, rep from * to end of row.
Repeat this row 4 more times for a total of 5 rows.
Tip: Make sure colour A is at the back when starting each row. For neat colour changes, carry up colour A in the back (Great tutorial here).
Row 6: Purl
Row 7: Purl
Now alternate pattern as follows:
Part 2:
Row 8: *K1 with colour B, Sl 2 purlwise of colour A, K3 with colour B. Rep from * to end of row.
Repeat this row 4 more times for a  total of 5 rows.
Row 13: Purl
Row 14: Purl

Thumb*:
For a man’s pair of mittens, repeat pattern 2,5 times (5 rows of honeycombs, or 3 reps of Part 1, only 2 reps of Part 2).
When you are about to purl the last two rows, insert thumb as follows: P2, put 7 sts on stitch holder. Cast on 7 stitches, purl to end of row. Purl one row.
*When you have finished your mitten, knit thumb with colour A by picking up the 7 stitches from holder plus additional stitches for a total of 14 sts. Knit all rows until thumb is long enough. Finish by K2tog around.

Knit the pattern 6,5 times (13 rows of honeycombs, or 7 reps of Part 1, 6 reps of Part 2), or adjust until the mittens are long enough.

Finish the tip with Colour A:Manly Honeycomb Mittens Closeup

Row 1: Knit
Row 2: *K2tog, K4, rep from * to end of row (40sts)
Row 3-4: Knit
Row 5: *K2tog, K3, rep from * to end of row (32 sts)
Row 6-7: Knit
Row 8: *K2tog, K2, rep from * to end of row (24sts)
Row 9-10: Knit
Row 11: *K2tog, rep to end

Thread yarn through remaining stitches and pull tight, weave in ends. Tah dah!

For the Ladies:

How to adjust the size of the mittens:
If you’re knitting for an average woman’s sized hands, insert the thumb after 2 pattern repeats (4 rows of honeycombs), or after 1,5 pattern repeats (3 rows of honeycombs) for small hands. I find 48sts a good width for both men’s and women’s mittens, but you can adjust this if you’d like them wider or more snug. The pattern is worked over multiples of 6 sts, so simply add or deduct multiples of 6 sts from the total of stitches to make them wider or smaller. For my hands a total of 5,5 reps of the pattern is long enough (11 rows of honeycombs), simply adjust by adding more or less pattern repeats.

Travel in style – Customize your luggage!

Suitcase

I travel a lot. Like, a lot. As in: On a plane almost every week. Most of the time I try and travel light, as checking in a bag when you fly often means waiting ages after you’ve landed to get your suitcase back, and anyone who’s had  their luggage lost on a trip to a foreign country with literally everything in it will know how stressful it is not knowing if you’ll ever get your things back. A few things I have learned over the years are: If you can, travel with carry on luggage only. If you need to check in a bag, make sure you have at least one change of clothes, your toothbrush and any toiletries which you might need to get you through one or two days without your luggage in your carry-on luggage.

The other thing I have learned is: Suitcases all look the same, and for most of them unfortunately that means they look quite boring. Customising your luggage is a fun and cheap way to make your bag look cool, and make sure you never confuse it with that other suitcase on the luggage belt that looked just the same, because it will be unique.

All you need to transform your luggage is:

  • An old suitcase
  • Spraypaint
  • Clear top coat (optional)
  • Masking tape
  • Stencils (I used lace curtain)
  • Fine sandpaper (optional)
  • Newspaper (optional)

If your suitcase is made of plastic, it would be wise to get a spray paint that is made to adhere to plastic, or a primer that will make your regular spray paint stick. My suitcase is made of a strong cardboard-like fiber, so I bought univeral spray paint in two different colours: A matte grey for the background and a neon yellow for the highlights.

Suitcase before

If your suitcase is made of cardboard like mine, or fabric, there isn’t much you need to do before you can start. It is a good idea to clean the surface you want to paint to make sure the paint will stick properly. I used a damp cloth first to get any bits of dust and dirt off, and then wiped it down with a little bit of alcohol. If your suitcase has a plastic shell, it would be a good idea to lightly sand the surfaces down and clean with alcohol afterwards.

Suitcase before

Next, cover anything you don’t want to spray with masking tape and/or newspaper. I am lucky enough to have a garden, but I still used newspaper to cover the ground I was working on.
Use your base colour to spray on a thin first coat. Hold the spray can about 20cms away from your case and spray evenly. I let the first coat dry for about 15 minutes before doing a second coat. All in all I did 3 coats with the base colour.

Half way

If you don’t want to add any highlights or patterns, you’re almost done. You can cover the case with a clear top coat which will make the colours last longer, but if you’d like your case to look worn and a bit battered, I recommend skipping this step.
I wanted my suitcase to be a bit more interesting though, and slightly girly. If you are good at painting, you could either paint something on, or use a stencil. You can buy stencils at any craft store, or make your own from a bit of cardboard.
I really like the current trend of all things lace and doily, so I used a bit of lace curtain as my stencil. You can get small scraps of lace curtain from any fabric or interior design store for very little money.
Cut your lace the size you want the pattern on your case to be and make sure to leave a bit of allowance on the sides. Use the allowance to fix your lace to the suitcase with a little tape to make sure it doesn’t move while you work.
I was very shy with the spray paint on the bottom of the case as I wanted it to be delicate and didn’t want to ruin the pattern by heavily layering on the colour, however when I removed the lace it was a bit too faint for my liking.
So for the top half I sprayed the pattern on just like I did the base coat, and used about 2 layers at the top and 3 at the bottom of the pattern to give it a bit of a faded look. Make sure to not move your lace during the process, I know it is tempting to just have a quick look, but you will never get the lace back into the same position and that will make your pattern look blurry.
Let it dry for a few minutes and then carefully remove the lace without touching the wet lace or pattern. You don’t want the lace to dry on the pattern as it will stick to the surface and smudge the delicate lines.

After

You can see that my pattern is a little bit blurred in places, especially around the wooden decorations, due to the lace not lying entirely flat on the surface. I don’t mind as I quite like how it looks, but if this bothers you, make sure your suitcase has an even surface.

After flat

Let your suitcase dry thoroughly (you will find instructions how long your paint needs to dry on the spray can), and either leave it as it is, or spray on some clear top coat to give the colour some extra protection. You’ll never have problems finding your suitcase on the luggage carousel from now on!

New Year’s Resolutions

After a stressful 2012 that didn’t leave me nearly as much time to play as I would’ve liked to, my NYE resolutions were something like this: Play more, create more, go on more holidays and – oh, write a blog about all of these things. So here we are – welcome to my brand spanking new shiny blog. As it happens, snow is one of my favourite things. In the world. Ever. And on a cold winter’s day in an otherwise grey London, we woke up to a thin layer of fluffy white stuff! Needless to say, I was out the bed and in my wellies faster than you can say ‘excited’. Several hours, snowball fights and a cup of tea later we sat by the bedroom window, marvelling at the result of a brilliant day.

Snow Pyramid

How to make your own snow pyramid:

Make snowballs. Lots of them. Choose a candle – it doesn’t need to be big, a tea light is enough for a small snow pyramid. I like to use candles that are in a container, my favourite kind are the ones that have a lid to protect the flame from falling snow and wind.

Find a space where your pyramid will be seen and appreciated (preferably out of reach of small children and furry animals). Lay down a circle of snowballs of roughly half a metre diameter. You can make this smaller or bigger if you’re really ambitious, just remember – the smaller the pyramid, the smaller the candle needs to be or it’ll melt the snowballs and collapse sooner than you’d like.

Lay the second row on the first, slightly slanting inwards. Continue laying your snowballs with each consecutive ring slightly smaller than the last, until you have just enough room to reach inside the pyramid to place the lit candle.

Finish laying the snowballs in the same fashion as before, placing your final snowball right on top. Then stand back and enjoy.