Tag Archives: Reviews

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


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

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


The Knitted Home – Book Review

The Knitted Home - jacket
Every now and then I am asked if I would like to review a book, and I have to restrain myself from biting off the offering arm in my delight at the chance to see a new crafty publication!  This one, the Knitted Home by the talented Ruth Cross arrived to fit in very nicely with the subtle, monochromatic vibe I embraced to produce my  needlefelted sheep.  This book is a visual delight, and feels gorgeous too!  (Am I the only person to love the feel of the thick matt finish which seems to be used more and more for books and magazines?)
Throw and Cushion from The Knitted Home - Ruth Cross
Although some of the projects in this book are quite challenging, there are excellent clear instructions at the back of the book so even a completed beginner could get to grips with some of the easier patterns.  Ruth’s explanations of creating textures with stitches will soon inspire  the adventurous, and for many of the projects the main requirement is the patience to see a big project through to the end.
Footstol, The Knitted Home - Ruth Cross
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cable throw  -The Knitted Home - Ruth Cross
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textured knitting panels - The ~Knitted  Home - Ruth Cross
The project I’m looking forward to trying is this beautiful table mat.  I love this crushed raspberry colour, but I’m also dying to see whether it will work in Planet Penny rainbow colours.  It starts off with 24 stitches and ends with 360 stitches, so even that is a challenge in itself!
circular place mat - The Knitted Home - Ruth Cross
But there is also a neat little pattern for beginners which is also a great way to make use of experimental squares when you are getting to grips with stitches and patterns.  Turning them into lavender bags means you don’t have to accumulate a big bag of knitted bits to stitch into a blanket, just two little squares and you have the makings of a little pretty to hang in the wardrobe or drawer handle.
Stripey Lavender Bags - The Knitted Home - Ruth Cross
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Stripey Lavender Bags close up - The Knitted Home -  Ruth Cross
And now the even more exciting bit…would you like to win a copy?  I have one right here, sitting on my desk  and it could be yours!
 All you have to do is to leave a comment on this post and tell me what or who got you started with knitting.  If you haven’t started knitting yet, well you can tell me about that too!   You can comment up until Saturday 28th April, then I will put all the names into a virtual hat (Random Number Generator actually, I’ve tried getting Higgins to do it and he either eats the slips of paper, or the hat!) and announce the lucky winner on Sunday 29th April.
And if you can’t wait, you can purchase a copy of The Knitted Home at the special price of £16.00 (RRP £20.00) details below.
To order The Knitted Home (9781906417727) for £16.00 including p&p*, telephone 01903 828503 and quote offer code JS190. Or send a cheque made payable to: Littlehampton Book Services Mail Order Department, Littlehampton Book Services, PO Box 4264, Worthing, West Sussex BN13 3TG. Please quote the offer code JS190 and include your name and address details. *UK ONLY – Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.
I’m linking up again with Handmade Harbour and Handmade Monday again this week and I’m looking forward to hearing your knitting stories.  Also, I would like to thank everyone who left such encouraging comments about my sheep in the last post.  I always read your comments although I’m afraid I don’t get time to answer as many as I would like and they are always much appreciated.  Thanks so much.
I’ll be back soon to tell you about my next adventure.  I’m off to London tomorrow to find out about a campaign just for bloggers.  Intrigued?  So am I, because that’s all I know about it for now.  Who knows, maybe I’ll meet some of you there.
Back soon…

Sew Over It – Book Review

Sew Over It by Lisa Comfort This is the second of the books I was sent to review a few weeks ago, and it’s timely to do so now as Lisa Comfort has recently appeared in Kirstie Allsop’s new Channel 4 Show, Kirstie’s Vintage Home. Sew over it Shop I grew up in the era when home skills were taught in school, Domestic Science, we learnt to sew, dress-make and cook.  I do have to admit to being hopeless whilst at school, but as a young married mum without a lot of cash it soon made sense to have the skills to repair and alter clothes, recycle dresses into baby clothes and run up a pair of curtains.  Most women’s  magazines had knitting patterns, some gave away paper patterns for dress making and amazing part work series were published teaching all sorts of skills from embroidery to macrame!  (Such a useful skill – macrame plant pot holder anyone?)

All that seemed to get swept away in a great feminist rage against being hemmed in by domesticity to the point where you had to hide any desire to occupy yourself with a little light embroidery, and ‘homemade’ was considered an insult.  Schools did away with cookery classes and sewing lessons and a whole generation were left without useful life skills such as sewing on a button or cooking.

That’s why I’m loving this whole re-emergence of making and upcycling, creating and recycling which is movement of the moment and Lisa Comfort’s book fits right in as an ideal starting point for anyone wanting to dip their toe in the creativity pool. Lisa Comfort in Sew Over It Shop Lisa charts her beginnings from stitching with her child-minder through the London College of Fashion to her sewing café and shop in Clapham, South London where she teaches the skills to be found in this book. If you’ve never threaded a needle let alone sewn on a button, never fear. Lisa starts you off at the very beginning introducing you to the needle and thread, the mysteries of the sewing machine, customising and altering your clothes, making accessories and finally measuring yourself and making a skirt from scratch.

Sew Over It Contents PAge

This is not a book for a seasoned dressmaker but I would definitely recommend this to a complete sewing novice needing a virtual hand to hold and guidance starting out on their sewing journey.  Probably it would be helpful to have a hands on lesson if you’ve never used a sewing machine but I believe shops like John Lewis offer this when you buy a machine from them.  Apart from that, all that is needed is a little imagination and Lisa’s know how and tips. The projects are clearly illustrated and explained, and the book as a whole is colourful and appealing, the photography is inspiring, a great Christmas present idea for a aspiring stitcher !

The ‘Sew Over It’ book is published by Ebury Press and available to buy from Lisa’s on-line shop of the same name, (which is a rather dangerous place to visit if you happen to like fabrics, and buttons, and haberdashery….)



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