Friday, 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

I think I'll sign off now for Christmas. I have so much to pack into the next two days that this may be my last chance.

I just wanted to say a big thanks to those who follow me, read my ramblings and use my patterns. I'd like to also thanks the magazine companies for their commission work - I've enjoyed the challenges and it's made me proud to see my work in print.

This time last year I was still waiting to hear if my voluntary early release application had been accepted. It was and I haven't looked back. I miss my lovely work colleagues, but I've kept in touch and managed to see all of them from time to time.

I'm working harder than ever and earning much less - but hopefully that will change as time goes on. The main thing is that I'm really enjoying it and have so many ideas and plans to put in place - how exciting.

I'll be back with great gusto in the new year with more free patterns and some new designs and tips and tricks to make your work perfect.

Thanks to everyone who's supported me and I hope you all have the best Christmas ever xx

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

A Tale of Two Cities

I had a lovely week last week. It was 'Christmas Play' week, so my youngest had three nights of a very long play at our local primary school. We went to watch on Tuesday and thoroughly enjoyed the singing, acting, jokes and mishaps. The play was completely led by the children, so they had to help each other out with forgotten lines and forgotten props. Brilliant. It was rather long - a mere 2.5 hours and I had a very numb bottom at the end, but it was worth it to see my youngest dancing and joining in with some enthusiam. Most boys are not well known for wanting to be the centre of attention at 10, and I have to say that Master O wasn't best impressed at having to perform an egyptian dance. But he gave it some gusto and it made me smile a lot. A lovely night which made me feel more festive.

In great contrast, our middle daughter's school had their Carol Service at Chester Cathedral. What a magnificent setting, so beautiful and architectural; peaceful and powerful. Our daughter was lucky enough to gain a scholarship to the prestigious Hammond School in Chester where she is now training on their 3 year professional dance course. Her dream come true. The service was completely captivating, well rehearsed and perfectly delivered. It's a performing arts school so I'm sure you can imagine the quality of the singing. Who would have thought it - my little Miss I singing in Chester Cathedral. Amazing. Now were all starting to feel more festive although I still have quite a lot of work to finish before I can heave a great big sigh of relief. The yummy biscuits on the tree are keeping me going - in fact I do think it's time for one more - mustn't let them go stale......

Monday, 5 December 2011

Free Knitting Pattern #3 - Chunky Neck Cosy

At last, here's my free knitting pattern #3. A pretty, chunky neck cosy. Perfect for those cold, winter days that are inevitable at the time of year. After an enjoyable extended mild spell we been plunged into the depths of winter here in Congleton, Cheshire. It's snowed lightly over night and we've had hail this morning. Brrrrr. Had to put the heating on for an extra hour to as we were soooo cold...... I made this neck cosy for my daughter who is living in Chester as has a long walk to school each morning. Sometimes she has to be at school really early for extra ballet lessons, so I knitted this to help keep her nice and warm on her walk to school, as I'm not there to drive her around.

The cosy takes just one ball of Sirdar Big Softie, (or 2 for a deeper cosy), which is just £2.39 per ball at kemps online shop here. That's a great price for a knitted neck cosy. The cosy is knitted in a broken moss stitch, so it's really quick to knit and looks pretty too. I think it took me about 1 hr to make up, so it would make a great last minute gift. The broken moss stitch gives the cosy a good texture and helps it to stand up against your neck. You can fold the top over too if you wish.

I used 10mm circular needles, but if you don't have circular needles or don't like using them, you can use two straight 10mm needles and stitch the side seam together, using mattress stitch (full instructions are at the end). The cosy measures approximately 21 or 22 inches around.

Important: Some people have commented that their cosy turns out smaller. Tension with Sirdar Softie and 10mm needles working in stocking stitch should be:
9 sts to 10 cm
12 rows to 10 cm
If your tension is tighter, please use larger needles. 

Instructions for circular needles: Using Big Softie and 10mm needles, loosely cast on 48 or 50 stitches.
Round 1: k
Round 2: [k1, p1] to the end
Round 3: k
Round 4: [p1, k1] to the end
Repeat these four rounds until you have approximately 2 metres of yarn left. Cast off loosely.

Instructions for straight needles:
Using Big Softie and 10mm needles, cast on 49 or 51 stitches loosely.
Row 1: k
Row 2: [k1, p1] to the last stitch, k1
Row 3: k
Row 4: [p1, k1] to the last stitch, p1
Repeat these four rows until you have approximately 2 metres of yarn left. Cast off loosely. Sew the side seam using mattress stitch.
Wear and enjoy! x

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Free Knitting Pattern #2 - Gadget Cosy

This free knitting pattern is for a knitted gadget phone cosy to fit an iphone, ipod or any smartphone such as a blackberry. It can be knitted up in less than an hour and would make a great last minute gift for christmas, a birthday, or just to say thanks. With the cost of christmas rising, it's the perfect time to go handmade with your gifts.

The cosy uses the smallest amount of yarn - can you believe only approximately 10g. So you could splash out on a nice ball of say, Amy Butler Belle Organic DK (about £5 for a 50g ball) and make 5 cosies at just £1 each. Alternatively, you could you use Sidar Click Dk which is about about £3.50 a ball - What a bargain for 5 gadget cosies. Of course you can raid your yarn stash for scrummy left over yarns at no extra cost.

Here are the instructions:

approximately 10g double knitting yarn
1 pair 3.25mm needles
1 pair 3.5mm needles
darning needle
optional button and sewing thread.

k = knit
p = purl
st st = stocking stitch (one row knit, one row purl, repeated)
st(s) = stitch(es)
[ ] repeat the instructions in the brackets as many times as stated

Using 3.25mm needles, cast on 19 sts.
Row 1: [k1, p1] to the last st, k1.
Row 2: [p1, k1] to the last st, p1.
Rows 3-8: repeat rows 1 & 2 three times more.
Change to 3.5mm needles.
Rows 9-14: starting with a k row, st st 6 rows.
Row 15: k5, [p1, k1] 4 times, p1, k5.
Row 16: p5, [p1, k1] 4 times p1, p5
Note: Rows 15 & 16 are the start of the moss stitch square, which is worked over the centre 9 sts
Row 17-30: repeat rows 15 & 16 seven times more.
Rows 31-40: starting with a k row, st st 10 rows. Cast off knitwise.

Pin the two pieces together with right sides facing and wrong sides together and use a mattress stitch to stitch the two pieces together, leaving the cast on ribbed edges open. Alternatively, pin with right sides together and wrong sides facing and whip stitch the two pieces together, leaving the cast on ribbed edge open. Turn the cosy the right way out. The ribbed edge will hold the gadget in place.

You may wish to add a pretty button or a vintage button to your gadget cosy. Stitch a medium button to the centre of the ribbed edge on one side of the cosy (this will then be the front). Take a length of yarn approximately 10cm long. Tie a knot at one end and trim the yarn just above the knot. Stitch the other end of yarn to the inside centre of the ribbed edge. Wrap the yarn around the button a couple of times to keep the gadget safe and secure.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Free Knitting Pattern #1 - Knitted Carrots

It's been ages since I last blogged. Sorry I've been AWOL. I've had such a busy month with commission deadlines. I've finished the last of my 6 toy knits for Knit Magazine. A Cat, fox, penguin, pig, cakes and a mouse. The Cat and Fox have been published - they look fab and I'm looking forward to seeing the rest in print. I also attended a great event at Cranage Hall where I had a stall in the hands on area. It was the annual North West Womens Network event and I would recommend it to anyone. Ruth Clemens (GBBO runner up) was the key note speaker and was inspirational. Her website is and her recipes are really easy to follow.

My aim for Christmas is to post 10 free patterns for quick knits - mainly ideas for christmas pressies and wrappings. But my first free pattern is just for fun - how many of you leave carrots out for Rudolph? Well here's a pattern for a fab lifesize carrot. Everyone commented on them at the Womens Network Event, so I thought I'd share. The increasing is made by picking up the loop between the two stitches and knitting into the back of it. This forms a neat, almost invisible increase and so is great for increasing in the middle of the row. I only made one carrot using this method of increasing - the top carrot. The rest used kfb (knitting into the front and back of the stitch) which leaves a hole, which I wasn't happy with and I think you can see the holes, even in the photo. Here's a good link for increasing if you need it

K: Knit
P: Purl
M1: Make 1 increase by by picking up the horizintal loop that lies between the two stitches on the needles and knitting into the back of it (this twists the stitch and prevents a hole).
Stocking stitch: One row knit, one row purl
K2tog: Knit the next two stitches together as one stitch to decrease 1 stitch.
P2tog: Purl the next two stitches together as one stitch to decrease 1 stitch.

Materials: oddments of orange double knitting yarn, oddments of green yarn, 2.75mm straight (normal) needles, toy filling, darning needle, two double pointed needles (for point of carrot)

Instructions: Cast on 7 sts using 2.75mm straight needles and orange yarn.
Row 1: purl all sts
Row 2: [k1, m1] to the last st, k1. (13 sts).
Rows 3-5: starting with a p row, stocking stitch 3 rows.
Row 6: [k2, m1] to the last st, k1. (19 sts).
Rows 7-11: starting with a p row, stocking stitch 5 rows.
Row 12: [k3, m1] to the last stitch, k1. (25 sts).
Rows 13-17: starting with a p row, stocking stitch 5 rows.
Row 18: [k2, k2tog] to the last st, k1. (19 sts).
Rows 19-25: starting with a p row, stocking stitch 7 rows.
Row 26: [k1, k2tog] to the last st, k1. (13 sts).
Rows 27-33: starting with a p row, stocking stitch 7 rows.
Row 34: [k1, k2tog] to the last st, k1. (9 sts).
Rows 35-39: starting with a p row, stocking stitch 5 rows.
Row 40: [k2, k2tog] twice, k1. (7 sts).
Rows 41-45: starting with a p row, stocking stitch 5 rows.
Row 46: [k1, k2tog] twice, k1. (5 sts).
Row 47: p2tog, p3tog. (2 sts).
Change to double pointed needles and kit 3 or 4 rows then k2tog (1 st remaining). Cut yarn and pull yarn through last st. Pull tight to fasten off. Starting from the bottom, use mattress stitch to close the side seam, filling with toy filling as you sew. Use your knitting needle to poke the toy filling into the point of the carrot.

Stalks:Using 2.75mm needles and green yarn, cast on 18 or 20 sts. Cast off. Make three in total of varying lengths (I made two with 18 sts and one with 20 sts). Stitch the three stalks together for approximately 1cm, then stitch to the top of the carrot inside the cast on edge.

Good luck - email me if you see any errors (I've slightly rushed this post) and I'll add the pattern on ravelry. My user ID is "iknitfoodandcakes" if you want to post a picture. I can't wait to see your rudolph carrots.

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Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Front Page News - Knit Magazine issue 42

The Postman delivered an exciting package last week. Issue 42 of Knit Magazine - and guess what - my name is on the front. How exciting.

I'm featured in a three page interview, along with the first of my 6 toys for Knit, Kingsley the Cat. In the next issue is Fulford the Fox, followed by Plumley the Penguin. They're all really cute and after battling with some of the designs, I was happy overall with the final outcome. I can't decide which is my favourite possibly Fulford the Fox, but you'll have to wait until next month to see a picture xx

I'm working on the final three toys, along with a couple of other commissions for Let's Get Crafting and Knit Today.

It's a busy time for me at the moment as I'm supposed to be knitting a mini garden display for a Women's Network event in October as well as pushing forward some of my business ideas. No wonder I have headache......

But it's all good - I'm absolutley delighted with the way things are going, just need to build on what I've achieved so far. Onwards and Upwards.......

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Ta-day Tuesday

Here's my Ta-dah moment for today. A few flowers for my mini knitted garden display. My deadline is 28th. October where my mini garden will be displayed at the North West Women's Network Event at Cranage Hall. I've been asked to take part in the 'hands-on' area, so I'll be exhibiting my work and talking to people, along with mini knit and crochet workshops. Think I need a new frock/something nice to wear.....

I will be posting the crochet tutorials asap (promise), so keep looking. Have you had a Ta-dah moment today?

For more details about the Women's Network event, click here

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Holiday Snaps

I've just returned from a lovely, sunny holiday with hubby and two of our children. It was heaven. No knitting, no crochet and no computers (well - I did log onto facebook once or twice on the ipod!!). FANtastic!!
We stayed in a lovely hotel - the food was nice and it was very clean. I don't quite know how the maids work in the heat, but they worked their socks off, and so we had a nice clean room everyday. Much appreciated!! We had the usual sunbeds at dawn - mainly british people up at silly o'clock to get 'their sunbed'. Then they went off for the day, leaving the towels to mark their territory until they decided to return. How ridiculous. We avoided all that. I don't do early mornings at the best of times, especially not on holiday. So we walked to a nearby beach most mornings, which was about 15mins walk over the rocks. We spotted some great wildlife, including a wild tortoise and lots of lizards and birds.
I read a couple of FAB books - 'The Hidden Child' by Camilla Lackberg, and 'Her Fearful Symmetry' by Audrey Niffenegger. Both captivating - I couldn't put them down, and both were really interesting. I'd recommend them to anyone. Unlike the third book I read - Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. BORING!!! I only read it to keep me occupied on the return journey (I hate flying). It just about kept my mind off the journey along with the couple sat next to me who talked to me a lot too. They were lovely. I managed to get to chapter 35, but I don't think I'll bother with the rest....
Now it's back to knitting, crochet and computers and lots of deadlines, planning and developing ideas.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

What I'm working on Wednesday

It's quite easy to guess the theme of what I've been working on this week - yes it's christmas. It's strange trying to come up with festive ideas in August, but I got there in the end. It's even harder trying to design something that hasn't already been done before. I often add a little twist to something to try and give it my 'stamp'.

I've been making christmas stockings - one knitted, one crochet and a selection of tree decorations. They so cute. I can't show the whole of the finished items, so here's just a snippet. I had some pretty colours this time and was pleased with the end results. I should be in four christmas magazine editions - Knit Today, Knit Magazine, Inside Crochet and Let's Get Crafting. How exciting. Hope they all send me a free magazine, or I'll be bankrupt buying them all.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

What I'm working on Wednesday

I thought I'd start a weekly post to keep you uptodate with what I'm working on. As you may be aware - I have lots of commissions to finish within a short timescale -eek. So here' what I'm working on at the moment. I can't post finished pictures as that's part of the magazine contracts, but I guess it's OK to show you little snippets of progress. I'm working with King Cole Merino Blend DK and it's really nice for toys. I use smaller needles than recommended (3.5mm) to created a tighter knit that doesn't show the filling. I'm making this one up as I go and don't really have time to redo anything, so fingers crossed it works out great first time. I've designed a cat and a penguin so far, and they're both super cute. Let's hope this one is too. Can you guess what it's going to be?

I also visited my daughter's art exhibition today in Stoke - luckily no mindless vandalism going on in Hanley, which was nice. Kate curated the exhibition, wich is called 'Kiss Me Quick' and it was an exhibition that the gallery took to Margate in July. It was really interesting and brought back memories of childhood holidays. Lovely. Kate's in the photo, which was published in the Sentinel.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Front Page News

Well - I can't believe I haven't blogged since May - that's three months ago. Time really does fly when you're having fun! Here are my knit and crochet cakes which made it to the front cover of last month's Let's Get Crafting. They look lovely and summery - don't you think.

I've been such a busy bee lately (no excuse for not blogging though!). I've had a deluge of magazine commissions, which is great - I'm not complaining. I just hope I can make the deadlines before our family holiday. I've drawn up a timeline, so it's all do-able but it's fitting all the other things in like washing, cleaning, occupying children in the school holidays, visiting friends and family and holiday packing. I'm sure I'll get there although there may be a few late nights.

I've been pleased with my designs. Today I posted off two strips of pretty bunting for Knit Today Magazine (issue 66) and a cute chubby penguin for Knit Magazine (issue 43). I have a Cat in issue 42 of Knit, who's rather sweet too. Next on the list is a set of quick kitchen knits, Christmas stockings (one knit/one crochet), christmas decorations and a fox toy. I should be in four magazines for their Christmas editions, which is fab.

Don't worry if you miss the mags - all of the patterns will be available to buy from me - 6 months after publication date. I promise to blog again soon and keep you uptodate with my commissions.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Grassy Folksy Friday

Well another week has passed by and I've been busy again, although not as busy as the week before. This week I've:

1. Written a 1,000 word essay for a popular monthly crochet mag. I'm leaving it for a few days then I'll read it through again to make sure I'm happy with it. I'm sourcing some photos at the moment, and I'm really grateful to those generous crafters out there who are allowing me to use their beautiful photos in my article.
2. Been looking for a decent paid part-time job, just to provide some support to our family budget, as we will need every penny when our daughter goes off to vocational dance school in September. There's not much out there at the moment, but I'll keep looking.
3. Prepared and submitted a design idea to a crochet mag. Waiting for a response, so fingers crossed.
4. Sold a Waldo the Worm hat - first thing I've sold for a while - mainly because I don't have much for sale in my shop, so now I'm on a mission to change that and stock up with some gorgeous goodies.
5. Kept up my gym routine - I've only been twice this week, but it's better than nothing and I do a long work out each time I go (about 1.5 hours).

I'm looking forward to the kids being off next week as we can have a little lie in before deciding what to do/where to go etc. Or we can stay at home and play in the garden. Which leads me on to my folksy theme for this week - grass. Our grass is growing nicely, especially with the recent rain combined with the treatment my husband applied. The rain has kept the boys from playing football, which helps too.

Just click on the image to go to the sellers shop for more fab folksy goodies. Have a lovely bank holiday weekend whatever you're doing.

chocolatefrog Sophie's Stuff
Gail Griggs Photography Phlights of Phancy
Lynwoodcrafts Claire's Creations

Friday, 20 May 2011

Crochet folksy friday

This week I've been quite busy and not just with crafting. Here's a quick summary of my weekly highlights:

1. Organised another Learn to Crochet Workshop for Saturday 11th. June, in Congleton - see my facebook page for more details (or email me at
2. Went to The Hammond School open evening - wow, they don't half produce some amazing talent. My daughter has been lucky enough to be offered a place for their professional dance course from September. She's sooooo excited, especially after the open evening.
3. Visited a friend and was blown away by the scale of her house rennovation project. It's all moving along well, and I can't wait to visit again soon to see how things are getting along. She has more guts than me.
4. Had a hair cut and colour - I needed it. At 47, my grey hairs are multiplying thick and fast, so I need to keep them at bay.
5. Secured a commission with a popular crochet mag for a written article - I'm so excited. I'm really enjoying the research and writing, so I hope they love it enough to want more.....

So that leads me to Friday. My folksy friday choices for this week are linked to vintage crochet - there are some amazingly skilled crocheters out there who painstakingly produce the most beautiful patterns and textures. Here are just a few of my favourites. Click the image to go to their folksy shop.

Sandra June Originals Gran's AtticPrince Designs PollyKraftsHand Made by Fausta girlybunches

Monday, 16 May 2011


Inspiration is a strange beast. The main question is - where do you find it? My search for inspiration, to design a new knit or crochet pattern, usually follows the same routine of searching through vintage patterns and pattern books, trawling the internet to see what's currently popular, staring with anticipation at my yarn stash, looking though fashion magazines, watching TV - let's face it, inspiration is everywhere.

Sometimes I simply come up against a brick wall and can't find the elusive inspiration anywhere. Other times, magazine commissions are quite specific about what projects they would like, so I already have a great starting point.

I keep looking for the inspiration to design 'signature' patterns - something that will be instantly recognisable as mine - but so far have failed miserably, as all my patterns are different. I need a cute range of toys, baby bootees or more cakes, but I can't seem to focus long enough these days to produce a 'range' of signature patterns. Must try harder!!

This week my knitted donuts were featured on Folksy front page - what an honour - it really cheered me up. They were amidst lots of other delicious looking donuts. They've been featured a few times, and they're also one of my most popular sellers - maybe that's telling me something. My donuts are on the top row, in the middle. I have one left to buy, from my folksy shop here.

Well I'm off to find inspiration for my next design - maybe I'll find it hidden in a packet of biscuits or a box of cakes!!!!

Friday, 13 May 2011

Back with Folksy Friday

Well, I know I've been really bad at blogging lately, about 5-6 weeks to be exact. My main excuse was that I had 12 knitting projects to design and submit by 9th. May. Two for one magazine (Let's Get Crafting) and 10 for Knit Today. Luckily, I had already started and finished one of the LGC designs when Knit Today asked me to design 10 knits for a Christmas Decoration booklet which will be free with their Christmas Edition of Knit Today. Imagine that - a little booklet full of my designs. I would love to write a full book of knitting or crochet patterns, so this is a little step towards that dream.

When I accepted the commission, I totally forgot that the kids would be off school - oops. Luckily the weather was gorgeous so we hung about in the garden a lot and I was able to fit quite a bit of knitting and designing into my days, whilst dodging footballs and being 'shot' at quite a lot during games of 'army'. Somehow we seem to end up with the whole neighbourhood in our garden, so it was rather noisy at times. It was strange too, knitting christmas stuff in the hot sunshine.

Despite the distractions, I made the deadlines and both magazine editors were really pleased with my designs. So was I, to be honest, and I can't wait to see them all in print.

So here I am, back with my first Folksy Fridy in a long time. This week it's my favourite colour, Green. Here are some of my favourite green goodies from some fab folksy sellers. Just click the image to go to the sellers shop.

The Knitted DuckKryshees
Nostalgia Knits Designs by Jojo
Jewellery Drops buy Lauramoody cow designs

Friday, 25 March 2011

Feeling Fruity Folksy Friday

I can't believe it's Friday again. I'm not sure where the days/weeks are going, but they're flying by. I also can't believe I'm at the end of my fourth week of full time crafting. I haven't been crafting full time though, I really must stick to a timetable. I'm easily distracted by the washing, cleaning and hoovering. BUT, I've submitted two magazine commissions, which I can't wait to see in print - ones due out next week ans the other at the end of April..... exciting. I've also organised a crochet workshop for next Thursday 31st. March. We have 6 out of 8 places taken, which I'm really pleased with.

I've noticed that I haven't been eating as much fruit as I used to, so my resolution from now on is to eat more fruit. My folksy friday this week is therefore Fruit - enjoy.........

As usual, if you click on the image you will go to the folksy seller's shop for more fab goodies. Don't forget to click the back button to come back to my blog.....

Beautiful Bubbles Grany Ruth's Gift Emporium
Woolly Duck Bits N Bobs
Kikichoo busylizzies1

Friday, 18 March 2011

Folksy Friday - Wonderland

Well it's finally here - the ballet show. Daughter's been rehearsing all week. As usual it's all a bit last minute, but hopefully everyone will remember what they're supposed to be doing tonight. I'm a fire door marshall tonight, so I can watch most of the show, then I'm watching tomorrow properly. The costume's ready - I was really pleased with how it looks and amazed myself with my ability to make a waistcoat that I could actually wear myself (obviously minus the buttons and ribbon) - it's fully lined and everything!!! I added the frills to the blouse, attached ribbon and buttons to the waistcoat and added the 10/6 sign and a big feather to the hat. Hats off to my daughter for her fab makeup. She a little disappointed that she's a man in the show - she's really girly and wanted to wear a beautiful tutu like the other main parts. Nevermind. Ballet shoes and tights arrived this morning - phew, so she's all set. So my folksy friday theme this week in Alice in Wonderland. If you click on the image you will go to the folksy seller's shop for more fab goodies. Don't forget to click the back button to come back to my blog.....

Eddie Gault - Artist Bird & Button UK
The Whimsical Wren Paintbox1110
artmagic Lauras Jewellery

Friday, 11 March 2011

Folksy Friday - granny squares

Well I've had a busy first couple of weeks of full time self-employment. How did I ever fit paid work into my schedule? I've been working on a mag commission, which I really need to finish off soon; promoting and preparing for a crochet work shop that I've organised in Congleton (email me if you would like details), writing to magazines to try and secure more work, and all the pfaffing around that goes with being self-employed. I've also been creating a costume for my daughter who's the mad hatter in Alice in Magical Wonderland (at the Daneside, Congleton). Nearly there with it and it's looking fab.....

My folksy friday theme this week is crochet - people often refer to crochet as 'knitted', but it's a different craft altogether and produces a very different texture. I absolutely love granny squares, so here's my tribute to this ever-so popular technique.

If you click on the image you will go to the folksy seller's shop for more fab goodies. Don't forget to click the back button to come back to my blog.....

The Sunroom Fuzzles
Gozzylupin1 and other stories
Alice Makes beep beep