Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Book Review #1 - Granny Chic by dottie angel and ted & agnes

Welcome to the first of something new from me – book reviews. I wrote a lot during my previous 20 year career and I’m keen not to lose my writing skills, so I thought I’d review some of my favourite books for you. I hope you enjoy my views and comments (which are all my own bytheway and not sponsored). I’ve borrowed some lovely books from the library too, so there’s more to come ……
Granny Chic
Crafty recipes & inspiration for the handmade home
from dottie angel and ted & agnes

Paperback 160 pages
Publisher Kyle Books (October 2012)
Book dimensions 23.8 x 19.2 x 1.6 cm
RRP £16.99 (however you can find it on amazon for £10 with free delivery or £5.99 from The Works with delivery from 99p)
I received my Granny Chic book as part of a secret santa with some of my knitting friends - a lovely, lively bunch of crafty ladies who came along to my “learn to crochet” classes. We’ve stayed in touch and meet regularly to knit, crochet, chat and laugh.
As soon as I opened my gift on Christmas morning I immediately fell in love with it. To the passer-by I know that I don’t look like a lover of vintage, granny-chic, upcycling style, nor is my home a shrine to charity shop thriftiness and upcycling. However, I absolutely love the 1970’s – the music, the fabrics, prints and patterns, the styles and the memories. I grew up wearing poncho’s and flares, listening to Donny Osmond, David Cassidy and the Jacksons, then moved on to Bowie, Brian Ferry and punk. What more could a girl ask for!

This book brought back my fond memories of the 70’s. It’s crammed full of inspirational projects and images, from two very crafty and gifted ladies. We gain an in-site into their delightful, eclectic homes which will have you heading straight to your local charity shops or thrift stores to breathe life into those second-hand goodies and create your very own granny chic loveliness.

There’s a wide range of 20 craft projects from table mats and tea cosies to bunting, scrap books and blankets as well as invaluable tips and words of wisdom on collecting, outdoor living and upcycling. Projects encompass crochet, decoupage, stitching, papercraft and cross stitch -  a little something for everyone.
The only thing I didn’t enjoy so much was the writing style. For me, it’s a little “Kirsty Allsop” and very “Attic 24”. Everything’s “peachy”, “marvellous” or “rather lovely”, whereas I’m a little more straight talking and to the point. However, this didn’t detract in any way from my love for the book itself.
My favourite projects are the string bunting, the puff stitch blanket, the crochet string bag and this pretty granny stitch tea cosy which is downloadable here for free:

This book definitely does what it says on the tin:
“it will have you reaching for your rose-coloured specs and rustling in your vintage fabric stash to find your inner granny chic soul”.
Now my inner granny is fighting to get out and I’m off for a mini-mooch around my local charity shop for some more inspiration.
Happy Crafting xx 

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Sirdar Calico - Yarn Review

Yarn Name: Sirdar Calico Double Knitting
Manufacturer: Sirdar

Fibre content: 60% cotton/40% acrylic
Ball weight: 50g
Yardage: 158m/172yd
Recommended Needle/Hook Size: 4mm
Care: Warm Wash (machine washable), Dry Flat, Dry Cleanable
Tension: 22 sts and 28 rows to 4 inches/10 cm on 4mm needles
Price: £2.00 - £2.80 (approximately)

One of the first things I noticed about Sirdar Calico is that it’s a beautifully soft yarn, producing a soft, springy drape when knitted and as well as an evenly knitted fabric. It has a matt finish and provides great stitch definition. It’s a standard double knitting yarn that will knit to most double knitting patterns (but remember to always check your tension before you start knitting).

SIrdar Calico is described by Sirdar as a light and soft cotton blend summery yarn, but there are some fabulous grey and blue shades in the colour palette that would be suitable for all year round.
It’s also a washable yarn so your projects will be easy to care for – no need for dry cleaning or hand washing.

Sirdar Calico has 4 plies of yarn that are tightly twisted and I didn’t find it prone to unwinding and splitting. I’m currently using it to make some crocheted letters for Homemaker Magazine in subtle shades of blues, greys and whites. Even after frogging my work a few times, the plies only loosened slightly and there was no noticeable difference once I'd finally finished my project. I used a 3mm hook - smaller than recommended to create a tighter stitch as I didn't want the cardboard and toy filling to show through the fabric.
However, having researched Ravelry, some members say that the yarn splits and often has knots in the ball. I haven’t experienced this myself but it’s something to bear in mind.

The price of one ball makes this a great value yarn too. For around £4-6 you could knit up a beautiful baby cardigan with just a couple of balls, or a cute little toy or bootees with just one ball.

Overall I think that Sirdar Calico is a good value yarn and a great alternative to acrylic. It’s lighter than 100% cotton and produces a light, soft fabric. It’s a versatile yarn, suitable for all kinds of projects including adult, children and baby garments, accessories, home makes and toys.

Projects I’ve used it for: Crochet Letters, amigurumi toys, baby garments, blankets, purse, knitted cakes.


For more information on Sirdar Calico and shade chart, visit Sirdar's website here