Category Archives: Reviews

Cut Out + Keep – Book Review and Giveaway…

Cut Out + Keep - Cat Morley & Tom Waddington

I’m really excited to share this new book Cut Out + Keep Around the USA in 50 Craft Projects by Cat Morley and Tom Waddington which popped through the letterbox the other day for me to review.

I’m sure you know by now that my crafty interests are pretty broad so it’s always good to come across like minded people who enjoy having a go at everything!  And not only is this a craft book, it’s a travelogue too, so while you are looking through at the crafting inspiration, you could be planning your US road trip at the same time!  Well, we can dream , can’t we?

Washington - Cut Out + Keep

Taking Inspiration from every state, Cat and Tom of the Cut Out + Keep community have translated the food, the landmarks, the culture into simple, fun tutorials for you to make at home. There’s knitting and crochet, painting and printing, sewing and gluing, cooking and..well, eating of course!

This is what caught my eye…

needlefelt cacti from Cut Out _+ KeepNeedlefelt cacti, straight from Arizona.  These would make brilliant pin cushions, add your own spines!

The Jackalope, a mythical creature from Wyoming.  This one is transformed from a plastic rabbit ornament but you could have great fun inventing your own weird and wonderful beasts from whatever you have to hand.

Jackalope - Cut Out + Keep

Being a bit of a cheese monster these recipes made my mouth water…Extreme Grilled Cheeses - Cut Out + Keep …and doesn’t everyone need Ruby Slippers? ruby slippers - Cut Out + KeepThe tutorial I tried was for something I really needed, a Cup Cosy.  My DH bought me a special coffee cup a while ago, especially for taking to the ‘office’, i.e. the Planet Penny studio.  The trouble is, its decorated with a face who’s expression is, well, somewhat troubling…

And even the plastic cover supplied is a bit thin so you can still see it’s evil grin…Cup

So the Seattle project was just perfect.

cup cozy - Cut Out + Keep review

I made the cosy with undyed Blue Faced Leicester Aran weight yarn and it was a perfect fit. Not having a little motif to stitch on I added a lazy daisy flower with a few stitches after sewing it up.

Cut Out + Keep Cup Cosy - reviewA much happier sight in the morning now (and hotter coffee!)  Cheers…

cheersThe book is published today in the UK, and on March 17th in the USA. I would have loved to have had a book like this to hand at half term with older children/young teens.  There’s so much inspiration to try something new, great for those ‘I’m bored’ moments!

You can order a copy here, but I have a copy ready and waiting to give away FREE!

All you have to do is to leave a comment.  Have you been on a road trip?  If not, where would your dream trip take you?  You have until Sunday March 1st to enter and then I will draw the winning entry.

Regretfully the Cut Out + Keep Giveaway giveaway is only open to UK readers… 

I’m really looking forward to reading your comments!

Ed. to add:  And the winner is… Julie, who writes the blog Tales from the Riverbank.  Congratulations Julie, I hope you enjoy the book and daydreaming about your own road trip! 

Simple Stylish Knitting Magazine – A Bit More..

Back in November I reviewed a new part work series, Simple Stylish Knitting Magazine which I was very impressed by.

Simple Stylish Knitting Magazine

Unfortunately it seems it was a victim of it’s own success, selling out quickly and having to go to reprint.  I know there were a lot of disappointed people because I followed the story via the Simple Stylish Knitting Facebook Page. However, it’s now back and available via subscription and very happily I received a bulky parcel in the post containing the next 4 issues and a folder in which to keep them.  I really like that sort of mail, don’t you?

Each issue comes with a new stitch to learn and a ball of yarn with which to knit a sample square so eventually  these can be sewn together to make a blanket.

This couldn’t have come at a better time because I have just persuaded my mother to try knitting again.  As I’ve mentioned, my poor mum has had health problems over quite a few years, but once upon a time she was never without some knitting on the go, complicated fair isle and aran, baby clothes, a cobweb shawl… nothing fazed her.  But once she was ill this all seemed to fall by the wayside, and when she couldn’t sit and knit for hours at a time, she just stopped all together, and then said she couldn’t do it any more…

So sad…

But I’ve just taken round a pair of needles with cast on stitches, handed them to her and said, go on, give it a go, and it worked!   I’m really, really hoping that she’ll get back into it, even if she has to do a few rows at a time and then rest…all my fingers and toes are crossed, knitted squares could be perfect for her.

I’m sort of overwhelmed with projects I want to make having four issues arriving at once (so many things, so little time!) but I’ll share some now and some in another post.  I love the moss stitch cushion, but I’d have the Planet Penny Moth to contend with…

Simple Stylish Knitting Cover 2

I really wish I had pink wellies, but I don’t think they’d go well with Norfolk mud…

Simple Stylish Knitting Boot Toppers

and there are no baby girls on the horizon at the moment but when there are…

Simple Stylish Knitting Baby Slippers

Adorable!

Issue 3 with it’s ball of golden yarn has these jolly little egg hats…

Simple Stylish Knitting Cover 3

…and a fabulously cosy cowl…

Simple Stylish Knitting Cowl

So I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll be able to take the Simple Stylish Knitting Magazine  folder round to my mum very soon and see if she having a go at something a bit more adventurous than the garter stitch I’ve started her off on.  Wish me luck, I’ll let you know!

See you soon…x

The Simple Stylish Knitting Magazine Review

Simple Stylish Knitting Magazine

It’s always exciting to receive a parcel in the post, and when a copy of the brand new Simple Stylish Knitting magazine arrived in the post for me to review, along with some gorgeous yarn, I was very happy indeed!

I’ve been knitting on and off since I was a child, and it’s definitely like riding a bike, once you’ve learned the skill you never really lose it. People often say to me, ‘Ooh, I’d love to learn to knit’, but unfortunately, I can’t teach everyone!

So I’m always interested to see what there is about to set aspiring knitters off on the right track, and this new partwork, the Simple Stylish Knitting Magazine has really clear instructions covering all the basics.  And because each issue has the yarn and pattern to make a sample square in a new stitch every week, not only do you have everything you need to start straight away, by the time you’ve collected all the issues you’ve got a gorgeous patchwork blanket.

And, of course by then you’ll be an expert knitter!

I was also sent some lovely Rowan yarn to make the Mr Fox iPad Mini case…

Mr Fox iPad Casr from Simple Stylish Knitting Magazine

…and it’s here I have to confess to being completely useless at something which is supposed to be really easy.  Is it just me?  I’m rubbish at Swiss darning, or duplicate stitch.  I wouldn’t have been fazed in the slightest by knitting the fox head using the Intarsia method, but I made really heavy weather of stitching it on.   So despite my knitting credentials, I need to practice this one!

The magazine has three projects each week along the themes of Knits for Home, Knits to Wear and Knits to Give with some gorgeous patterns to look forward to…

Simple Stylish Knitting Magazine projects

…and from 20th October to the end of 2014 Simple Stylish Knitting Magazine have asked me to curate one of their boards on  Pinterest, (which is basically permission to have fun,isn’t it?)  Do call over and have a peek, and follow too if you like what you see.

If you want to make sure you get every issue and the binders to keep them in then it’s easy to get a subscription from the Simple Stylish Knitting Magazine website.

Simple Stylish Knitting Magazine free yarnFinally, hello and welcome to all the new blog followers.  It’s been a bit quiet round here lately but I’m looking forward to being back here more often and keeping you up to date with my little woolly world!

See you soon…x

Ed. to Add:  If you want to find out about the next two issues it’s here.

Art Therapy Colouring Books – Review and Giveaway

When I was approached the other day to review a couple of Art Therapy books I wondered if someone had been peeking in my office, because I have this picture pinned on the wall beside the monitor…

If anyone needs me I will be in my blanket fort - colouring in…and I have had a wonderful excuse to do just that with the two books which arrived a week or so back from Jacqui Small Publishing, Art Therapy Stained Glass and Art Therapy Mandalas.

Stained glass colouring book, art therapy

Art Therapy Mandala Colouring BookThere is something very relaxing about letting someone else worry about the lines and the shapes: when all you’ve got to do is think about what colour crayon to pick up next, or washing your paint brush ready to mix another shade.  And now it’s official, we’re not wasting time, we are relaxing, it’s therapy!Art Therapy Press ReleaseI’ve been scribbling away happily over the past few days and after all the worries about my mum it’s been lovely to switch off that part of my brain.  This was my favourite from the Stained Glass book…

Art Therapy Stained Glass Colouring bookI’d rather like this next design as wallpaper, wouldn’t you?…

Art Therapy book MandalasWith this one I went to town with the paints.  I may get round to finishing them but I actually rather like the colours set against the black and white.Mandala Flowers Art TherapyHaving shared my adventures on Facebook and Instagram I was not surprised to have lots of positive comments about the whole idea of colouring in.  Such positive comments in fact from both my daughter and daughter-in-law that I shall restrain myself from further scribbling so I can pass the books over to them.  As my daughter is soon to embark on Teacher Training and my D-in-L is a new mum I think they need all the relaxation they can get!

And I’m pleased to say if you feel in a need of a little Art Therapy and relaxation there is a Giveaway!  I have two more copies of these lovely books lined up to give away to the even lovelier Planet Penny readers!

All you have to do is to leave a comment telling us about your favourite place to relax and get away from it all, and which of the two books you would like to take with you.

The winners will be picked on Friday 8th August, I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

(Thank you to all who took part.  The Giveaway now closed, winners to be announced very soon)

The Year in Books – February

Elegance by Kathleen Tessaro - A Year in Books

Elegance – by Kathleen Tessaro

Slightly belatedly, I’m here to report that February’s book for the reading project The Year in Books has been read!  This is a rather battered copy which I borrowed from my mum, again, because it’s not the first time I have read it.  It’s one of those comfort reads, which you turn to when you need something soothing and familiar.  I enjoyed it just as much the second time round and I thoroughly recommend it.

If you’ve ever thought a self-help book could turn your life around, you could just be right!  This is what Amazon had to say about it…

The Sunday Times bestseller and one of the most talked-about novels of 2003..

Elegance. Audrey Hepburn had it. Grace Kelly had it. Louise Canova does not.

Until one day, browsing in a second-hand bookshop, Louise stumbles over a faded hardback. Elegance is an A–Z of style, written by French fashion expert, Madame Antoine Dariaux: a veritable what-not-to-wear in print.

When Louise starts to follow Madame’s advice, her life is transformed. From Accessories to Zippers, there is nothing Madame cannot advise upon, including types of husband (the blind, the ideal, the dictator) and shopping with girlfriends (don’t).

Within the book’s pages Louise finds clues to her own past. And as she begins to unravel them, she discovers a courage she never thought possible. For true elegance cannot be attained until she is comfortable in her own skin: only then might love flourish.

My book for March is ‘The House on Paradise Street’ by Sofka Zinovieff…

The House on Paradise Street by Sofka ZinovieffWhich, as I become absorbed by it, is proving to be a darker but very compelling story.  A real contrast, which was just what I needed.

Before I go, I want to say that I have been completely touched and overwhelmed by the lovely comments which have been left on my last post about my 500 posts milestone.  Thank you one and all for so many kind and encouraging words, it’s really given me the impetus to carry on!

I’m assembling a little pile of pretty bits and pieces for the Box of Delights, but first I have to create the box itself, cue much research into the best size for potentially sending overseas.  I think I’ve got it right, so I’m off now to have a lovely time with glue and paper and paint and ink, what a great excuse!  Have you entered the giveaway yet?!

See you soon…x

 

 

The Hand-Stitched Home – Book Review

The Hand-Stitched Home - Cover

I promised you a lovely book to coo over and The Hand-Stitched Home by Caroline Zoob ticks all the boxes.

I’ve had very little time to exercise my sewing muscles lately and had rather forgotten how much I enjoy it so leafing through Caroline Arber’s beautiful photographs discovering the projects within was a real pleasure.

Do you hand sew?  Is it something you love or do out of necessity?  Sometimes it’s so easy just to get the sewing machine out and wizz around a few seams, or as I did over half term to piece together a spectacular tear on some nearly new tracksuit bottoms which had come off worse in a tree climbing related incident!

I had a very mixed introduction to the craft of stitching.  Being left handed my school experience was almost entirely negative.  Whole lessons miserably stitching a ‘blind’ hem with a length of thread grubby and grey from countless pulling out.  And, being made to wear a thimble on my right hand because that was where they were worn!  (I was nearly an adult before I found out what they were actually for!)  However, during the school holidays I stayed with my left-handed grandmother, Bam-mum (who never used a thimble)  and she introduced me to a love of stitching which has never gone away despite school’s best efforts.

Caroline Zoob’s book is all for pleasure, little hand-stitched treasures giving a new lease of life to vintage fabrics which then become part of the fabric of the home.  From tiny projects such as this Heart Key Fob…

Heart Key Fob - The Hand-Stitched Home…delicately stitched shelf edging…

Shelf edging - The Hand-Stitched Home..and pretty egg-cosy made from felted wool blanket fabric…

egg-cosy - The Hand-Stitched Home

..to larger pieces such as cushions, curtains and table runners there are plenty of ideas which you can use to inspire you to use and recycle pretty fabrics, trimmings, buttons and precious scraps of fabric.

Be aware that the instructions for some of the more complicated pieces do presume a fairly sound knowledge of basic sewing skills. However, this is book about hand stitching and embroidery and there is a lot of help and inspiration  for even a novice at decorative stitching.  And of course the joy of a book like this is that it is positive encouragement to go off and brush up on or learn new skills!

Vintage scraps - The Hand-Stitched Home

And what was my inspiration?  Well, it was daisies.  I’m planning to feature daisies in the next blog post for reasons which will be explained, but this was the image in the book which inspired me…

Daisy tree - The Hand-Stitched Home

It’s so pretty and simple.  I had a frame which I bought months ago in a closing down sale, and a remnant of linen so I spent a happy evening with my box of embroidery threads and this was the result…

Daisy tree 2 - Then Hand-Made Home

So, I’m sure you would love to get your hands on a copy of this book.  And you can because the lovely people at the Aurum Publishing Group have a copy to send to one lucky person.  It could be you!  I’d love to hear your sewing story, what got you stitching?   Was it love at first stitch, or a gradual blossoming?  Simply share your story in the comments, and next weekend you could be the winner!

This week I’m linking up again with Handmade Monday over on Handmade Harbour so follow the links there to discover lots more creative people and ideas.

I’m off to the studio now to get ready for the last day of Open Studios.  If you are in the area we’d love to see you, but if not I’ll be back here soon…x

 

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