Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Coals to Newcastle

or Monkees to Bristol?

I recently sent a couple of crocheted monkees to the very funny ( and younger than me <sniff>) Monkee Maker. From her blog, it looks like they've settled in well.

Here are Maisie and Minnie!

Maisie and Minnie

Aren't they cute? And they look great together! They were crocheted using #8 pearl cotton and a 1mm crochet hook.

Minnie Monkey

I really like Minnie, she's really tiny! I really should make another one but there are far too many new things to try and I've been really enjoying myself with some stitching!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Short & sweet - Duty calls

Just a short post today to note a particular event that happened 8 years ago that led to my having to phone my Dad and apologise for forgetting to post his birthday card.

And Happy Birthday Dad too!

I'm still crocheting away, but the stitching's creeping back in too. Here's a photo of my latest creation.

It's the hat I'm talking about, although Iona is keeping me busy at the moment too as she has a cold and just isn't herself, poor wee lamb!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A bit of catching up

I haven't felt the inclination to blog over the last couple of weeks, having been suffering from a bit of a Flickr obsession. I set up my Photostream there recently and have been spending hours browsing through beautiful crocheted afghans, acquiring even longer to-do and wish lists! If you look in my photostream you'll see a number of items which I haven't blogged about. They're gifts which will or have been sent to fellow bloggers, so until they reach their destination, I'm keeping quiet!

I heard last week that Monique has received the gift I sent her for winning my giveaway!

A felt pincushion, crocheted scissor fob and a crocheted brooch! I'm really glad they've arrived safely and that Monique likes them!

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I might find some time for a little stitching, well, here it is, my new start!

Family Sampler from Shepherd's Bush. I wanted to stitch something special to commemorate 2008 and Iona's birth, but not a birth sampler. This way I can include Alexander's birth to as well as me and my DH.

And here's what I sent to my partner, Gayle of Sentimental Stitches, in the Stitcher's Angel Swap. My parcel was posted around a month ago, but I haven't heard whether or not it has arrived - I hope it isn't lost!

Crocheted pincushion, needle book and scissor fob in a matching bowl plus some stitching goodies!

Finally, I had a flash of inspiration at the weekend regarding my Mystery in a Corner from Gay Ann Rogers. I'd rather ground to a halt with this, not entirely happy with my colour scheme. So I think I now know the solution and I'm just waiting for the postman to bring my some more floss, then I'll be into a bit of frogging and then hope to make some good pregress!

Finally (again, and I really think I mean it this time), I'm really behind on my blog reading and even more on commenting. One day I'll catch up ...... But in the meantime, thanks to everyone with the stamina to keep reading my waffling, particularly those who take the time to leave a comment. I really do appreciate it. Blogging has been really great while I've been on maternity leave and keeps me in touch with the wider world and not home alone!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Biscornu with a difference

Given that it's easy in crochet to make squares, I wanted to see what it would be like to stitch two crocheted squares together in the same way as the two sides of a cross stitched biscornu would be.

What do you think? I'm not sure what I think. It is pretty - I love the flower on top, it's shape, the way it lies and the beads. But if I made just the flower, I don't know what I'd do with it!

Biscornu with a difference

But, overall, the DK yarn I used is probably too heavy. And somehow it also reminds me a bit too much of traditional crocheted doilies and things like that. With my stitched biscornus, I like to keep my favourites out on display. Somehow, I don't think I want to with this one. I think it just seems a bit too wierd and OTT.

Biscornu with a difference

I still want to figure out how to use crochet with the biscornu shape, but I guess I'll just have to have another think and try a slightly different way of doing it.

I've also crocheted these over the last couple of days, but I'm not sure what to do with them now. I had thought of making them the top and bottom sides of a pincushion, but I don't fancy that now. But I really like the design and want to do something with it.... Any suggestions?

Crochet star/flowers

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I'm so chuffed - my to do list is suddenly shrinking! Yay - I've knocked about 3 things off it in the last week! That's what I like about crochet, it can be so quick!

Unfortunately, I can't show most of the things I've made as they're gifts for people who might read this. But I will give a few sneak peeks.

Tiny amigurumi monkey

Crochet scissor fobs

And Alexander insisted I make him a tiny turtle from this book, even to the extent of trying to match yarn colours, but it only took me yesterday evening to complete, so I don't mind. I wanted to call him Tippy Turtletrousers (note the Captain Underpants reference) but Alexander informed me that he's to be called Timmy the Turtle.

And I've just remembered that I never showed you this, not that I finished it in the last few days. I was trying to think of a witty post about 101 uses for pearl cotton, but I can't get past about 2. It's from a pattern by Peachtree Cottage.

At this rate, I might even get some stitching done to show next time!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A little geekishness and a headless chicken

We were woken by the postman on Saturday morning bring a surprise package - my prize for winning Lesley's League of Geeks!

What a fantastic prize and perfect timing too at the start of our half term. Alexander almost immediately disappeared off with Crisp Packet Fireworks to consult his Grandpa and I've scarcely seen them since, only occasionally being summoned outside to witness various demonstrations such as the toaster powered hot air balloon, liquid behaving badly or cola volcano. I think the cola bottle is scheduled to be turned into a submarine today.

The recycled stuff is great fun too - notebook (used to be a car tyre), ruler (used to be 3 plastic cups) and pencil (used to be money), although the pencil seems to have gone walkabout already, as pencils do.

The brain food, of course, did not last long!

As for the headless chicken, that was me last week. Apart from finishing my biscornu, I haven't done any stitching at all since the summer as the inclination just disappeared but I've been crocheting madly ever since. I think madly may be just a bit too true.

I've posted some of the things I've made already (not that they'd take kindly being referred to like that, I won't tell if you won't), but I've also made some things for a swap, some gifts and have been having a go at crochet bowls.

I went a bit headless chickenish last week as my to do list seems to be getting longer and longer and I really want to do some stitching! Aaarghhhh!!!!! I think I had a day or two of being unable to do anything before I managed to stop procrastinating and start one of the things on my list. Rather than having just a randomly jumbled list, maybe I should prioritise and put rough deadlines on some of the items?

And Alexander has refused to allow me to send Monique the thing I was going to send her for winning my giveaway, so I'm in the middle of figuring out what to send instead and that probably means making something as well! Ho hum.

PS. Anyone else hate div tags and the way Blogger likes to add them wherever it feels like? Grrrrr.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Amigurumi Army

We are the Amigurumi Army. We hereby assert our independence and announce the formation of the state of Amigurumia. (Yes, we know there aren't many of us, but you can't say we're not ambitious.) All amigurumi are invited to join us.

Let us introduce ourselves to you.

Venerable Smuj - oldest and most respected.
Honourable Pinkie - despite the frivolous appearance, her mind is as sharp as a crochet hook.
Respected Jerry - the so-called hybrid bear-monkee-mouse. Determined to live up to the reputation of his namesake and putative ancestor.
Most brave No-Name - denied the dignity of a proper name.
Valiant Fuzzz - conqueror of Captain Monkeypants. The defeated captain shall have no power over amigurumi.

We also demand the immediate release of our comrade, Chewbacca, currently held hostage in Manchester.

In return, we intend to continue to hold the monkey known as Zero-X1 until we are satisfied of Chewbacca's welfare, or his return to us.

In the mean time, we urge all amigurumi to rise up against the oppressor and join us in our struggle.


the Amigurumi Army

Monday, October 06, 2008

973 beads on my biscornu

I spent 20 minutes last night trying to count the beads on my biscornu, but I kept loosing track of the beads I'd already counted. As a last resort I switched to counting the beads in one of my photos where I could at least them cross off as I counted them.

I have to admit that my total is only approximate - I counted around 240 beads in one of the corners and multiplied it up by 4, then added the 13 larger beads from the top, making a total of 973.

I'm very disappointed (LOL) in all the entrants in my giveaway! Most of you vastly underestimated the number of beads I used. However, Monique came closest with her guess of 800, so she wins the prize - congratulations Monique!

I was a little surprised that there were almost 1000 beads used, but only a little as I suspected there could easily be around 200 in each of the 4 corners. And I really don't think it look that long to stitch them all on!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Top Geek

I won, I won! I came out top in Lesley's League of Geeks!

Wow and I didn't really think I was that geeky! I suppose I'm just geeky enough to have taken the league seriously enough to have a bit of fun posting some geeky stuff. And, given my family, it wasn't too hard to find stuff to post.

So thanks very much to Lesley for organising it all.

For the next few weeks, I'd better concentrate on Iona who is to young to be geeky about anything (unless it's milk, silly noises or Mummy singing). However, the geek will have to be temporarily released at half term when Dad comes for a visit.

For now, here's another one of those exciting conversations I have with Alexander -

Alexander - Does the moon have gravity?
Me - Yes but not as much as the earth.
Alexander - Why?
Me - Because it's much smaller than earth.
Alexander - But when earth and the moon were the same size they would have had the same gravity then?
Me - Ummmmm ...... (frantically trying to remember which TV programme he's likely to have got that from).

Anyway, today is your last chance to enter my giveaway. And I'm faced with the wonderful prospect of spending the weekend counting the beads on my biscornu!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


The lovely, busy Lesley is ending her League of Geeks today rather than continuing for another month. Perhaps she's been scared off by the amount of sheer geekiness she's unleashed? So, I'll be squashing my inner geek back into its box at the end of this post.

It occurred to me that there's something inherently geeky about being a crafty sort of person. I mean, look at all the crafty stash we accumulate. I'm only scraping at the edges of my stash to share the following:

I've finally shifted all my stitching charts and all but the biggest kits into their new home, sorted in alphabetical order by designer. Now I can find anything I want in a matter of seconds and can spend hours perusing my collection and dreaming of some unknown time when I might actually approach having stitched most of the designs I have charts for. Sadly, I think I've achieved SABLE here (stash acquired beyond life expectancy). How sad and geeky is that?

Knitting needles, crochet hooks and yarn. Knitting was the first craft I ever learnt, followed by crochet. I don't do either so much these days (too impatient for knitting), but can anyone explain why I really need such a large stash of yarn? Or why I keep buying more?

Pincushions - so quick and satisfying to stitch up - what better to collect?

Finally, my geekiest collection - a collection of geeks. Or rather, a collection of Ia(i)n Stewarts. Not just any old Ia(i)n Stewart you might find kicking about on Facebook, but interesting Ia(i)n Stewarts.

Number 1 is my uncle, a retired translator with the RAF.

Number 2 is Ian Stewart, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Warwick and writer. I used to work at the University of Warwick, but I've never met him. At one point, I did go to an evening class with his wife, and my dad does read his books .....

Number 3 is Iain Stewart, Professor of Geosciences Communication at the University of Plymouth and TV presenter. I've never been to Plymouth, never met or had anything to do with him, but he's definately the sexiest on my list!

Until today, that was where my list stopped. However, in googling links for this post, I found this list at Wikipedia which needs further investigation. I think it might be a while before I can persuade my inner geek back to sleep .....

And there's still time if you want to guess how many beads I used in my biscornu and enter my giveaway!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fun with Science and a Geeky Giveaway




This was Alexander's favourite game from the holiday (inspired by Mr Fyde, the science teacher in Captain Underpants). I had to keep a good stock of baking soda and vinegar!

We had Alexander's best friend over for dinner this week and Alexander was demonstrating. The friend was distinctly unimpressed - obviously not a geek then!

We've now got my Dad busy thinking of other simple sciencey experiments for Alexander to do. Apparently, Dad's having great fun with this task! And I've suggested to Alexander that we could grow crystals. However, Alexander seems to be under the impression that crystals mean diamond-type shiny things that are very valuable!

I've actually done some stitching, for a change, over the last few days and have finished off my latest biscornu, designed by me with the blackwork pattern nicked from a book. I call it my Tutti Frutti Biscornu.



This isn't quite what I'd planned for this biscornu as I changed my mind midway. It then became an exercise in crowding on as many beads as I could in the space available using different shapes and sizes of beads. It was fun to do and I do like the end result!

So, for my Geeky Giveaway, how many beads do you think I've used on this biscornu? Leave me a comment with your best guess. I can't give you any clues as I've no idea myself. But if you leave a comment before the end of next Friday (3rd October), I'll send something I've made to the person who makes the closest guess. It won't be the biscornu, but it may well be something I've featured on my blog this year.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My Geeky Family

In light of the challenge presented by Lesley’s League of Geeks, I thought I’d present my own geeky credentials.

Firstly my parents –

Dad – Science Geek – retired physics teacher
Mum – Exercise Geek – retired PE teacher

My sisters and brother –

Sister J1 – arty sister who would never be sufficiently untrendy to be geeky about anything.
Brother F – Football Geek – PE teacher and soccer coach who lives in Florida.
Sister J2 – Music Geek – professional clarinet player

My husband – Electrical engineering and veggie-growing geek – PhD in Electrical machines, fanatical about growing veggies in back garden and allotment.

And me? I end up feeling a bit like a Geek of all trades (and mistress of none!), having an engineering degree and MSc in IT, and spending as much time as possible working on various crafty things. At work I spend my time translating between plain English and geeky IT speak, and vice versa. And I have one of those really geeky good memories for complete rubbish and a whole load of things I’d rather forget.

I'm the sort of person who chooses popular science books for my Dad's birthday based on what I'd like to read myself, but really don't have the time to concentrate on at the moment. Maybe one day, I'll be able to borrow them all back from him and read them myself. One of my favourite books is Simon Singh's The Code Book. Oh, and I can get really geeky about the Lord of the Rings too.

But now, most importantly, my secret weapon!

Alexander B, age 7
Lego geek, budding science geek and Mythbuster!

So, not only am I the daughter and wife of geeks, as well as having my own geeky credentials, but I would also appear to be the mother of one too. Which, in turn, makes me even geekier as I'm the one who generally tries to answer his questions.

We have fascinating geeky conversations, such as -

Alexander - What is water made of?
Me - Hydrogen and Oxygen
Alexander - Can you buy hydrogen and oxygen?
Me (not sure where this is going) - Ye-ess
Alexander - So can we buy some then and make some water?

While we were away on holiday last month, one evening he asked me how many countries there are in the world. That's not a number I know off the top of my head, but I told him there were several hundred. He then insisted that I name all the countries I knew..... I think I got to about 120 off the top of my head and with the help of the Olympics we made it to nearer 150 the following morning. But I know there are large areas where I missed a lot eg. central Africa, Pacific Ocean......

Over breakfast on Sunday morning, I had to explain the background to the Lord of the Rings and the history of the One Ring in no more than 15 minutes without giving away the entire story as Alexander had seen about 5 minutes of the Two Towers on Saturday evening before deciding it was too scary. I refuse to tell him everything as I insist that he will read the Lord of the Rings himself one day and I can remember how magical it seemed to me when I read it for the first time. However, at the moment, I'm struggling to get him to read Captain Underpants to himself, despite the larger type and short chapters - it's a boy thing (I think).

Oh, and I found this photo when browsing around the Craftzine blog yesterday. I wasn't looking for it, honest!

Mythbusters: Jamie and Adam
Originally uploaded by oddgumi


Friday, September 19, 2008

Reasons to be cheerful

I had a generous visit from the postman earlier this week as he delivered several packages, the best of which was a wonderful PIF gift from Deb. When I signed up for her PIF last year, she fully intended to stitch something for me, but I rather think real life has caught up with us both since then!

I took this photo of all the lovely goodies -

A Just Nan chart and bellpull end, a couple of other cross stitch charts and a needlepoint design as well as several packets of beads and some gorgeous Watercolors floss. It was only later that I realised that I'd missed one of the charts she sent from the photo. Rather than photograph everything again, this seemed somehow appropriate!

French Country Baby Sampler from JBW Designs modelled by a sleeping Iona.

Thank you very very much Deb! What a wonderful, generous gift. I'll definately be stitching up Sweet Dreams for Iona!

This week I signed up for Lesley's League of Geeks! LOL - just a bit of fun! Up to 31 October, we're all competing to see how geeky we can be. Rather than turn this into a marathon blog post (and I seriously mean a blog post 26 miles and 385 yards long), I'll have to refrain from revealing my secret weapon until the start of next week - so much to blog about, so little time!

In the meantime, just how geeky is it to master the art of simultaneous baby feeding and web surfing? Or is that just extremely sad?

I think I've also finished setting up my new template. It's based on a template from Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates which Ann mentioned in her blog earlier this week. I'm really glad she did mention it too as I was spoilt for choice! And I'm just geeky enough to have managed to cobble together a version in Internet Explorer, rather than the Firefox it was originally intended for. I do think that, as there are so many different browsers out there, people should develop stuff that's not limited to only one.

Anyway, gotta go now as Iona's awake and while I may be competent at simultaneous baby feeding and web surfing (as long as DH isn't around) I haven't quite got the hang of simultaneously entertaining a baby and blogging!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Feel like a change of template, so things may look a bit odd around here while I sort it out.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A new species?

While we were away on holiday and I was neglecting my stitching, I knitted up a new monkey to join the menagerie. I think this one must be a new species.

He quickly acquired a range of names - Zero-X3, SpiderMonkey, Captain Monkey ....

Zero-X1 was pleased to welcome him.

Hmmm, think they're getting very friendly .....

Or maybe it's something to do with a certain other, human, monkey .....

However, little did we know that this mild-mannered monkey concealed a secret. And it wasn't long before he revealed his true identity.

Acknowledgements to Dav Pilkey as I've shamelessly copied Captain Underpants. But then, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery after all. Oh, and does anyone else remember Hong Kong Phooey?

Monday, September 08, 2008

I still don't get it

While I was away on holiday my brother persuaded me to sign up for Facebook. I've always been a bit sceptical of that sort of thing as I don't see what I'll get out of it.

Having signed up and set up my profile, I still don't see the point. If I want to keep in touch with my brother or sisters, I can phone or email. I've looked for people I might know and might have found one or two but it looks like most people I know aren't there. So why on earth would I want to use Facebook? Personally, I'd rather blog!

Can anyone enlighten me?

Friday, September 05, 2008


I really didn't mean to disappear like that for a whole month! I just lost the plot for a couple of weeks and had a couple of weeks holiday and the time just flew past! Now I've got so much I need to catch up with!

First of all, a big thank you to Wendy Jo who was my partner in Fair & Square round 8.

She send me these gorgeous squares along with a scissor pocket and quilting tool holder.

I sent her the squares (hexagons really) below along with a little pin cushion and some fabric. I really enjoyed stitching the Gencat freebie which I'll really need to find the time to stitch for myself.

I also owe a thank you to Sally who gave me an award via her blog while I was AWOL! I feel very proud and grateful for the compliment.

We had a wonderful holiday, firstly playing on a beach in the north west of England and then in Scotland. The beach we visited was just wonderful, partly stony and partly sandy. The stones were just beautiful, gorgeous shapes and such a smooth soft texture! We just had to bring a selection home with us.

I didn't do any stitching at all while I was on holiday, but played around with a bit of knitting and crocheting which is still on-going. Although I do have an unfinished biscornu lying around which keeps calling to me.

Before we went away, I'd got myself to the stage (again) of just trying to do too much. I have a long list of pin cushion and biscornu ideas that I was wanting to make up, but it was just getting all too much. So it was time to step back, take a breath and relax. I'll be posting the results over the next week or two.

Since we came home, Iona has been having great fun bouncing around like a mad thing in this.

She is such fun to watch as she bounces around with a broad grin on her face, blowing bubbles and dribbling all over the place at the same time!

We've recently put her onto a lactose free milk following several weeks of constantly dirty mucusy nappies. Hopefully it's a temporary lactose intolerance and nothing more long term.