Good times!

I do enjoy Christmas. The run up is always a little crazy with school nativities and activities, parties, planning and shopping, decorating, preparing and wrapping. I’ve had rehearsals for two different shows as well as taking part in my church carol service – learning the harmonies for various carols has been a particular highlight!

I also ended up with various creative projects on the go too. Along with the apron for my nephew which I showed you last time…

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There was a fair isle hearts hat for my niece. I used the TinCanKnits Clayoquot Toque pattern as the starting point, but changed it up with a folded brim and my own design for the hearts.

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And a wheat bag for my sister in law, which I made from a little corduroy skirt I found in a charity shop. I used my mum’s sewing machine to sew it – she’s got an all singing, all dancing Janome machine that took a little getting used to, but sewing machine aspirations right there! – and filled it with wheat and homegrown lavender.

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There’s also been a fair amount of baking. Vanilla shortbread and slightly experimental apple and cinnamon cupcakes with caramel buttercream (I’ll be making those again!). My first ever meringue kisses made in a hurry to use up some egg whites before we went away for a few days, and my first ever Christmas pudding which fed the family on Christmas Day.

Fortunately, Christmas itself is a time to chill out and spend time relaxing with family and generally not doing too much except eat and wash up and eat some more and keep the kids entertained!

When we travel up to spend time with my family, Mr Jack and I like to spend time on the journey reflecting on the year past. It’s been a good one, with lots of things falling into place following the last couple of years of upheaval with house hunting, moving, school uncertainties etc. The boys are well settled at their new school, and we feel better rooted in our new house and town. I’ve surprisingly become a runner over the last year. I’m loving parkrun, and though I didn’t quite officially meet my target of a sub-30 minute 5k parkrun by Christmas, I have done sub-30 training runs and I’m not far off that at parkrun. I’ve also shed nearly 2 and a half stone thanks to Slimming World. I aimed to be at target by Christmas and was just a couple of pounds away. Technically that’s within the target range anyway, so I’ll call it a win! I feel very boring going on about food and pounds but ultimately I feel so much better for having done it and just for me!

I’ve been involved in some great theatre this year too and am so excited for what’s lined up for next year already. My first turn in ¬†Shakespeare in February followed by a fun musical in March and then I’m booked to see both Harry Potter and Hamilton in London during April.

Then of course there’s also Unravel in Feb and the Knitting and Stitching show in March too. Plenty to be looking forward to.

For now though, I’m going to enjoy a few more days of food and family and a chance to not do much. Maybe I’ll manage to get this second crazy sleeve done before the year is out. Now that would be an achievement!

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Tis the season to be jolly…

Christmas is stressing me out. I want to enjoy it, but what with a new house that is still fairly chaotic, school and preschool end of term activities and the quite-frankly-ridiculous amount of time I’m spending driving to and from schools, Christmas could really do with being postponed by a month or so.

It certainly didn’t help a couple of evenings ago, when I pulled out my gradually gathered pile of presents to assess before making a start in the wrapping marathon, only to find it woefully lacking. Given the amount of time and thought I know I’ve put in, not to mention the number of times I’ve been shopping already, I was distressed to say the least. (More shops have now been trawled and more online orders placed.)

So, when Pickle unexpectedly came down with a bug yesterday and then I started feeling ill myself, I took to bed with a certain degree of relish. Hubby insisted I rest in order to stave off any repeat of the disastrous Christmas of 2014, during which we were all struck down by a hideous bug and ended up feeding the in-laws cheese sandwiches instead of the promised Christmas dinner and then packing them off home again.

So, being fortunately not as ill as I could be, but resting in bed nonetheless, I have finally had a chance to work on the gloves that have been on the needles since last winter. Hubby wanted fingerless gloves but since the prospect of working individual fingers was the root of my procrastination, I convinced him that fingerless mitts would be just as good and look where we’re at now!

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I used Jeny Staiman’s Interlock Bind off which looks great and feels comfortable and I like much more than her JSSBO which I’ve tried before.

Just the thumbs to go and then hubby at least might get something for Christmas!

Mr Incredible

I thought I’d show you another quick make I did for Christmas.

Pumpkin has never really been interested in the idea of dressing up. A pirate costume cobbled together out of clothes he already had in his wardrobe was about his limit. But when he watched ‘The Incredibles’ a month or two ago, he swiftly started talking about being Mr Incredible and telling me he wanted a Mr Incredible costume.

For those of you who need a reminder, or simply have no idea, this is Mr Incredible.

Incredibles picture taken from imdb.com

There are plenty of tutorials around on other blogs for making an Incredibles costume, but I thought the quickest and easiest way to do it would be to gather a few items of clothes and chop them around a bit.

Good ol’ Primark came up trumps for pretty much everything I needed.

A red T shirt

A pair of red leggings

A pair of black leggings

A pair of black gloves

I also bought black, orange, yellow and white felt from a craft shop to make the logo.

It’s a very simple make, really. First, I chopped the black leggings just below the crotch to make the top part into the ‘pants’ that are worn super-hero style on the outside. The legs of the leggings became long sleeves which I hand-stitched into the existing sleeves of the T-shirt.

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I used a template for the logo which I found on this blog, and cut the pieces out of the coloured felt. Annoyingly (given that I ended up doing the majority of the work on Christmas Eve, having been wiped out by a sickness bug in the run up to Christmas) I found it really tricky to machine sew the logo – I think because the felt was very soft and the angles were too much to manouver round – so I had to handstitch the whole thing onto the T shirt.

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I ran out of time to do a mask and a belt, though I hope to get round to doing both at some point soon. But the look on Pumkin’s face when he opened the present on Christmas Day was just priceless. He was absolutely over the moon, and pretty much insisted on wearing the costume for about 3 days straight! Definitely worth the effort!

Crochet Christmas Decorations

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As more and more of my friends have become parents over the last few years, I’ve found myself having to buy Christmas presents for increasing numbers of children. As a parent myself, I struggle with the influx of toys my children receive each Christmas and birthday. So, for the last few years, I’ve decided to cut down on the festive toy buying for friends’ children, and have instead given each a small Christmas decoration.

The first year, I supported a friend’s small crafting business and bought some handmade felt decorations. Last year Pumpkin and I did a little crafting together and made homemade salt-dough style decorations, and this year I decided to indulge in a little hooky time to compensate for all this knitting I’ve been doing.

Last Christmas I was given a crochet magazine with patterns for some ‘Scandi Decorations’, so I used some of those and also made up a couple of my own patterns along the way.

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Unfortunately I’d already wrapped some, including my intarsia reindeer design that turned out rather well, before I thought about taking pictures.

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The round ones turned out to be my favourite, so here’s a very quick write up of the pattern for you.

Yarn: Rico creative cotton Aran

Hook: 4mm

Embellishments: A variety of buttons and felt garlands from Hobbycraft

Toy stuffing

US terms

Round 1: 10sc into magic loop, pull circle tight and slip st into first sc to join

Round2: ch1,  2sc into each sc around and join (20 sc)

Round 3: ch1, [*1sc, 2sc in next sc], repeat from * to end of round and join (30sc)

Round 4: ch1, [* 1sc, 1sc, 2sc into next sc], repeat from * to end of round, join and finish. (40sc)

This is your front piece – sew on any embellishments you choose at this point.

Choose a contrasting colour and make a second circle as before, up to end of round 4. Join, but do not finish.

Round 5: Turn, ch1, holding the two circles with wrong sides together, and beginning at the top of the ‘front’ piece, sc around to join the two together, making sure to go through 1 sc from each circle for each stitch. Stuff lightly with toy stuffing when you are about 3/4 of the way round. Join yarn at the end. (40sc)

To make a hanging loop, chain 18-20 st, then join at beginning. Cut yarn with a tail and weave in.

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All that is left now, is to wish you all a very happy Christmas!