Thursday, 29 January 2015

a growing collection

crochet squares

One of my vague new years resolutions was to resurrect (and possibly finish off) some old craft projects. I started this crochet stitch library way back in 2011, and while it hasn't been totally abandoned, I have neglected it a little over the last couple of years.

So I've decided to make a more specific resolution to try and crochet a new square each week until I have a big enough pile to bring them all together in a blanket.

It's going well so far. I've added a few more to the collection using some of the leftover colours from Ben's winter scarf.

stitch library 2015

I especially like the basketweave stitch. In fact, I might use it to make some cushions in some chunky wool over the coming months.

I think winter brings out my productivity with wool crafts.



I have one remaining catnip sardine from the batch I made just before Christmas, so decided to have a little giveaway over on Instagram. You can find me over there as @debbie_hill and I'll announce a winner on Monday.

Oh, and if you have any sweet pictures of your cats over on your account then please do share!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

things I like this January...

1  •  2  •  3  •  4  •  5  •  6  •  7  •  8  •  9  •  10  •  11  •  12

Some favourite picks from Pinterest. See more here.

Monday, 19 January 2015

a weekend jaunt

Rye building

We took a little trip down the coast to Rye this weekend. We only went for one night but it was just enough to blow away the January blues and have a little break.

towards Rye harbour train tracks Rye castle The house with the seat

We wandered around the village, explored the bits of the countryside that we could without getting too muddy, ate great food, played pub games, and generally just pottered about.

It was grand!

Oh, and the rain held off long enough on Saturday morning for us to climb up the church tower and take in the views. I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who doesn't have a problem with heights (for those that do it might be a bit much).

Rye view Ben view from the church

I think one night holidays might be the way forward. I like the minimal planning involved, and it makes the weekend seem much longer.

Rye nature reserve

Sunday, 18 January 2015

handmade christmas: a scarf diary for Ben

scarf roll

I decided to make Ben a scarf for Christmas (another bit of secret present making). He had mentioned before that he liked the knitted diary loop scarf I made for myself a few years ago so I decided to make one for him.

scarf diary

I picked out some colours that I thought he'd like and swapped colour for every day of knitting until the scarf was complete. It added up to about a month and a half of knitting in total, with some days missed due to the lack of opportunity for covert knitting.

scarf diary

It turned out really well. I was happy with the colour choices and Ben was really pleased when he opened it on Christmas day. Perfect for keeping cosy on winter walks.

And here he is modelling it this weekend on a trip to Rye.

loop scarf

Happy face.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

handmade christmas: catnip sardines

catnip fish

As well as making presents for friends and family this Christmas I also made some presents for the furry friends in their lives.

Christmas for cats!

making the sardines

To make them I started by cutting out some felt sardine shapes from a paper template I made. I then sewed some little fabric pouches to hold some catnip that I bought online (highest potency apparently).

After that I embroidered on some markings and sewed on some felt eyes to give them a bit of character.

fish construction

Finally I sewed around the edges, put the catnip pouches in the middle of each fish (for maximum protection from sharp claws and teeth) and added toy stuffing around the edge.

And voilĂ ! A shoal of sardines.


And just look at these little fellas enjoying themselves...

the cats

Clockwise from top left: Tiffin, Eddie, Louis, Pixel, Harry & Holly. 

Sweet ones! They were a total hit I think. So much so that a few of them are fish no more.

I'm taking this as a good sign of appreciation.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Christmas card factory

christmas penguins

It's the last day of Christmas, and before we have to hide all evidence of Christmas for another year I thought I'd share the cards that we made this year.


Bang on trend I do believe. Plus, they're Ben's favourite.

We forgot what penguins looked like at first...

christmas card production

...but I think it worked out ok in the end.

Now don't forget to take all the tinsel down.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

handmade christmas: knitting needle cases

knitting needle rolls

I was quite organised this year and decided to make a few Christmas presents for friends and family. I'm going to share them here over the next week or so, now that I don't have to keep them hush hush anymore.

It's been a while since I attempted any sewing projects as I often end up slightly disappointed with the results (big ambitions plus a lack of patience is my downfall) however I really wanted to make some knitting needle/crochet hook cases for both my mum and Ben's mum so I gave it another whirl.

I'd made something similar for Yumi once before too so I didn't think it was an overly ambitious project. And they turned out pretty nicely indeed!

fabrics and buttons

I bought some lovely patterned fat quarters (I could get addicted to browsing in fabric shops) and used some vintage buttons that I had knocking around and managed to make these two needle rolls over the course of a quiet weekend.

knitting needle cases

My mum didn't realise hers was handmade when she opened it on Christmas day so I think that's a sign of sewing improvement!

Maybe I'll try and get on my sewing machine a bit more this year.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

hello 2015

Happy new year! I hope you all had a lovely cosy Christmas break.

I had a really lovely festive time, although I have been a bit under the weather for most of it which has left me feeling a bit sorry for myself.

2014 was a grand year though! I had lots of fun, went lots of places and put some wheels in motion for the year ahead.


Ben and I picked up this decoration at Art Junky in Brighton just before Christmas.

It reminded me of the church we saw in Reykjavik when we visited early last January. One of my favourite ever holidays.

church in Reykjavik

I haven't really had the brain power to think of any clear resolutions or plans for the year ahead yet but I want to set myself a few goals so I'll give it some thought and maybe start the new year a week or so late. That's ok right?

I do have one plan though: Move house!

The best plan (with the best man).

christmas decoration

Thursday, 11 December 2014

a festive wreath collection

festive wreaths

I made some wreaths for Christmas this year.

It was a nice project for the winter evenings and I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out. In fact, I wish I'd made more! I'm going to give a couple away as gifts, but one is a keeper I think.

To make them I used some polystyrene rings as a firm base and then decorated them with wool and felt. I wanted to experiment a bit so they are all a bit different...

Crochet lace ring

crochet wreath

This one is based on the simple statement wreath found on Lisa's blog, Good knits. It was so easy to make and I love the fact that you crochet straight onto the ring.

I can definitely see myself making more of these, in any number of colours. Who says you can't hang a wreath all year round.

Pompom party

pompom wreath

I started this one by wrapping wool around the based until it was completely covered, then I glued on loads and loads of mini pompoms - I think they look like snowballs!

Thanks to Ben for helping out in my pompom factory - it was quite satisfying to spend an evening creating a big pile of woolen puffs. This is a pretty busy wreath but I think it's nice and cheerful.

Holly leaves

holly wreath

This one I also started by crocheting around the ring. Then I made some holly leaves and pompom berries to add as decoration. Nice and festive.

I really like how they look when they're together. All ready for Christmas.

christmas wreaths

Monday, 10 November 2014

sloe sundays

sloe sundays

At the end of September we spent an afternoon up on the downs foraging for berries. We came back with a small tub full of blackberries for a Sunday evening apple crumble and an even bigger haul of sloes which I put in the freezer and forgot about for a while.

sloe picking

A few weeks later Ben and I made a batch of sloe gin (more about that another time) which used up about two thirds of the berries we had. I thought it would be a waste to throw the rest away so I put them back in the freezer with the vague idea that I'd make another batch of gin when I'd picked up another bottle.

However, this weekend I went around to Hannah's house for a delicious lunch party and was inspired by the sloe syrup that she had made and served with ice cream for pudding. It was delicious! As was her elderflower gin which I was very lucky to sample.

I decided to follow Hannah's lead and make some syrup to use up the rest of the sloes. It's super easy to make and I've written out the recipe below in case any of you want to try.

sloe syrup Ingredients

Equal parts sloes, sugar and water.
I used:

600g sloe berries
600g granulated sugar
600ml water
Juice of half a lemon
sloe syrup ingredients

Put the sugar, sloes and water into a large saucepan and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring often.
The mixture will turn a lovely deep purple colour.

I added the lemon juice to the mixture halfway through simmering.

Next strain the mixture through a colander to remove the bulk of the sloe berries, then strain through fine muslin to remove any smaller bits. I ended up with about 600ml of syrup after straining.

Pour the mixture into sterilised bottles or containers, and seal. Once opened keep the syrup in the fridge.

I decided to freeze half of my mixture to keep for later.

sloe syrup making


The syrup is delicious as an accompaniment for ice cream. I suspect it would also make a nice pancake topping and could be used to make some great gin cocktails too.

Apparently it is also rich in vitamin C and has been recommended to treat colds.

Medicinal and tasty too. Enjoy!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

hoop scarf

patterned eyelet hoop scarf

I recently finished this knitting project that I started back in July - just in time for a change of season. I'm a great lover of scarves both for comfort and warmth and think this one will keep me nice and cosy throughout the autumn and winter months.

I started this project after finding three balls of wool for sale in my local haberdashery shop and not being able to resist the combination of colours. I was limited by the size of my project, but wanted to use all the yarn up so decided a mini hoop scarf would be the way forward.

The length came out just right; it can either be worn loosely around the neck, or wrapped twice for extra cosiness (my preference). It ended up working perfectly with the wool too as it came out in even stripes (a stroke of luck!).

I've written out a pattern below if anyone wants to make one of their own.

hoop scarf

Patterned eyelet hoop scarf

Any double knit wool. I used 3x50g balls of Debbie Bliss Rialto DK Print (colour 001 - Florence)

4mm (size 8)

Cast on 49 sts.

Row 1: k
Row 2: k1, p to last st, k1
Row 3: k1, *k2, k2tog, yo. Repeat from * to last 4 sts, k4
Row 4: k1, p to last st, k1
Row 5: k
Row 6: k1, p to last st, k1
Row 7: k1, *k2tog, yo, k2. Repeat from * to last 2 sts, k2
Row 8: k1, p to last st, k1

The above 8 rows form the pattern. Repeat until your scarf reaches your desired length.

Cast off.

Finishing up
Sew the cast on and cast off edges together to form a loop.
Sew in any loose ends.

Your scarf is now ready to wear!
Keep yourselves cosy now.

Friday, 12 September 2014

a cottage in cornwall


Unfortunately I've been feeling pretty under the weather this week. To distract myself from the lurgy and to cheer myself up I've been looking back at photos from our summer holiday in Cornwall.

We had a great time last year, and this time was no different. In fact, I think it probably surpassed last year (not least because we went for an extra day this time). We booked a great place to stay through Airbnb in a little village called Charlestown.

Daisy Cottage was like a dream home - such a sweet little cottage with a sea view from the bedroom and beautiful interior decoration. Oh, and Rudy the cat - who made our stay even better. What a nice one!

a nice home for a few days daisy cottage inside daisy cottage

I haven't spent much time on the south coast of Cornwall so it was nice to explore the area around Charlestown. Luckily we were staying near the Lost Gardens of Heligan and the Eden Project so we paid visits to both - I have so many photos of interesting flowers and plants that I could be here all day uploading photos (maybe another time?) They're a really good drawing reference so maybe I will share some botanical sketches too.

lost gardens of heligan logs in Heligan vegetable garden the eden project flowers making music

We also visited the Seal sanctuary in Gweek which was a real treat. My favourites were the big sea lions, whilst Ben liked the Humbolt penguins and the otters. The sanctuary is nested in a really peaceful location along a river estuary which made it a really nice day trip.

We also popped into Falmouth, Mevagissey and Fowey during our stay. I do love Cornish harbour villages and towns.

Gweek sealion Fowey a happy time

Happy faces all round.