Minty Romance Cushions

I recently made a cushion using the gorgeous Undercover Otter yarn I had bought at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival and received a commission to make four more cushions, I love making crochet cushions, even more so for someone else, my house is like a yarn padded cell….

This is my cushion;

The yarn is from Undercover Otter’s Minty Romance collection, Jump Scare Aran, it’s perfect for cushions; it has great stability and structure and the colours and colour saturation is amazing.

And here are the cushions in progress.

And complete, they have gone to their new home now, sometimes it is a struggle to let go!

I’m thinking about reds and pinks for next time…

Stress’tit or Pin Cushion

There’s word I tend to mutter or scream in moments of stress, TITS!

You know, when something has gone wrong, you’ve missed the train, forgotten your purse and you’re at the till and you want the shoes, the bread, the yarn? Someone has let you down, called in sick, it’s all going wrong? Of course, you can stand on your desk, shout TITS at the top of your voice and collect your P45 on the way out the door.

Or you can squeeze a stress-it, throw it, catch it, chuck it. It’s not a stress ball; it’s a stress tit and they are in my shop – for grabs so to speak, available in a number of sizes and tones in my shop.

20% of the proceeds will be donated to my Just Giving page raising money for Women V Cancer, this includes Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, Ovarian Cancer Action and Breast Cancer Care. You can donate to if you wish following this link, Amy Forster Just Giving Page.

Bright Pink Crochet and the Optimism verses Realism Battle

I am a raging optimistic and dreamer in a good way… I have so many ideas whirling in my head but I accept I do have to be a realist too and that is true of being able to keep my blog updated. As much as I want to, I can’t blog as much as my optimistic / dreamer self would like to. I work, I am a parent to teenagers and animals, have a highly demanding yarn habit and I keep reminding myself I haven’t trained much for my bike ride in May.

A picture of Wodge the Dog, waiting to be crocheted within an inch of his life.

In my makes I have been continuing to knit my Stephen West Garter Breeze shawl. I did not realise it was such a mammoth project. My optimistic self said I’d make one in some existing gorgeous Countess Ablaze yarn I had in my stash before moving onto making another in my Edinburgh yarn… the realistic me is still on shawl one but loving making it. Happy optimist is realistically going to finish some time in August.

As I said, I’m busy so this was interrupted by a few days working in China.

A crazy whirlwind and home again… I did take some socks to knit; that was optimistic and not at all realistic, they will be finished for Christmas, optimistically.

I may have said before, I like to juggle projects, in an evening I rarely work on only one, I’ll spend some time knitting before swapping over to crochet and vise versa. While making Garter Breeze I have been working on a large pink crochet sofa throw early mornings and late nights and now it is finished ready to go into my shop. I would love to keep this but I can’t. My house is like a soft, padded yarn cell and I’m getting complaints that the sound quality just isn’t the same anymore… that may be realistic.

The throw is made from super gorgeously soft Wensleydale UK wool, measures approx. 150cms x 150cms. It really is beautiful on a sofa, bed, chair, taken glamping and wrapped up warm, it’s a smasher.

My next project is some crochet cushions from some stunning yarn commissioned for a special sofa. I’ll catch up with further progress, now time for that bike ride.

CCK AKA Crochet,Cycling and Knitting

I am always drawn to the colour of yarn first, then I have to touch and smell it. When I saw the colour of this yarn in Edinburgh I literally bagged it instantly, I love the colours together. The yarn is Undercover Otter’s Jump Scare Aran in Screaming Satsuma and Citidel, it really beams. I started to make a shawl but this yarn has a structure and handle ideal for home furnishings so I reverted to a cushion where it holds it’s shape perfectly. I do like to make homewares with travel yarn, I can look at it constantly rather than an infrequently worn item often hiding in a drawer. It now sits on my grey sofa dotted with cushions like a rainbow. Perfect.

Inspired by my Edinburgh visit I have started to knit a Garter Breeze shawl by Stephen West. It’s a great rhythmic knit and I’m learning new skills while making this. I’m using Countess Ablaze Bluefaced Leicester and Masham fingering yarn which is soft and gorgeously smelling of wool, you know that smell…bliss.

April and May are really busy months for me as when weather improves I need to get some training in for a charity bike ride I take part in at the end of May. This is the third time I will be taking part in this ride raising money for women’s cancers; ovarian, cervical and breast cancers. It’s 100km at night from Windsor Castle to Buckingham Palace and back to Windsor. It’s tough but so worth the effort to raise money for these charities.

You can read a little more about the event here or of you would like to sponsor me you can here.

Due to the limited time I have to train, I decided on Saturday to cycle to knit group in Manchester, from home this is about 20 miles each way and my bike ride is a distance of 64 miles so it’s a good training ride. In the end I decided to actually ride from Ashton along the canal to Countess Ablaze in the Northern Quarter and then rode back out to Wythenshaw in the South of Manchester. I changed my route as I was a little nervous of the traffic for the whole route, however, I found cycling is well provided for in Manchester with cycle lanes protected by kerbs from the traffic. I loved cycling with my knitting on my back through the city centre streets, I’ll maybe apply to deliver with Deliveroo 🙂 I wore the knitted socks I made for my ride last year, super warm and cooling, wool is an ideal fibre for sport, comfortable, warm and can absorb sweaty bits.

This week I’ll continue with my shawl, I travel with work on Saturday so I’ll be checking my airline for needle and yarn allowance, not sure I’ll have much time for yarn though!

Weeks 11 and 12 Stockholm Scarf and Edinburgh

What I absolutely love about buying yarn on holiday is making something to remind me of a visit. Throughout making this scarf I called her “Faceplant”, I do, I want to rest my head in her and inhale that deep woolly smell and cosy down and sleep, like a cuddle with your mum, it is the most relaxing and comforting mix of yarns I have known, Gotland / Alpaca and Mohair combined.

But I can’t call her “Faceplant”, it’s too aggressive sounding, too slap dash, she’s my Stockholm scarf, a place I loved visiting and would very much like to return to soon.

I soon wore her for a cold, wintery walk along the Monsal Trail, just a little test, she passed, it was hard to peel her off once home in the warm.

I often revert to simple crochet after a new project, happily picking up some trebles, granny squares, even happier in hot pink.

Edinburgh.

I knew Edinburgh very well spending my Uni days just outside of the city and visiting regularly with my friends. My best friend also lives there but it has been too long since I visited. It was just gorgeous to return to see my friends and combine that with yarn!

It was a fabulous weekend with friends, good meals, drinks and yarn friend company and buying some gorgeous delicious yarn which I will share with you soon.

I bought Stephen West’s Shawls book (signed and had the most gorgeous chat with Stephen, what a super friendly guy) yarn from The Wool Kitchen, Qing Fibres and Undercover Otter, stationary from Tillyflop and some Mother’s Day gifts from Beyond Measure and Yarnistry, and a few more … a good haul, loads of inspiration and lots to think about. I’m looking forward to next year already.

Week 10 – Face Plant Progress and Plant Pots

My weeks just seem to go in the blink of an eye but I’m never too busy to create something, anything I can. My nightly ritual of relaxing with some yarn really help me to unwind after a day at work in front of a screen and numbers. I’m sure you understand that feeling. Yarn offers so much in terms of relaxation and inspiration, that’s why most of us love knitting and crochet isn’t it?

I continued with my Face Plant scarf, affectionately named so because I just want to buy my face in the soft, soft, comforting warmth of the knitted fabric.

I’m making good progress, it’s now about 120cm long and I have possibly enough yarn for it to be about 200cm when finished. Enough to be wrapped around my neck twice, not with murderous intent, I can’t wait to finish it, the scarf that is.

I have also completed one sock, one more to go. I am finding the socks to be an in between project, they are ideal for carrying around in bag day to day in the hope of a delay or ten minutes in my lunch break. The problem is by the time I finish these socks it will be summer and time for flip flops not boots!

After knit club Saturday I went to Fred Aldous in Manchester and bought some Bakers twine to crochet covers for some cacti and geranium pots. They are only small pots but I will make some larger ones soon.

The pot covers are really easy to do, here’s how I made mine;

  1. Half treble 12 stitches into a magic ring, pull tight to close the ring, slip stitch into the first stitch and chain two to create the first stitch of the next round.
  2. Crochet one half treble into the immediate stitch and two half trebles into each stitch (24 stitches), slip stitch into the first stitch to close the round and chain two to create the first stitch of the next round.
  3. Half treble into the back of each stitch (24) slip stitch into the first stitch to close the round and chain two stitches to create the first stitch of the next row.
  4. Half treble again in the back of each stitch (24) slip stitch into the first stitch to close the round and chain two stitches to create the first stitch of the next row.
    These stitches into the back of the previous stitch create a nice ridge, see picture below

5. Continue to half treble into the each stitch and slip stitch into the first stitch to close the round and chain two to create the first stitch of the next round.
6. I crocheted 10 more rounds as per point 5 to create the height I wanted to and a lip over the top of the plant pot to hid a plastic inner pot.
7. Continue in this manner, I was covering a small glass tealight holder measuring 5cm diameter base, 6cm height and 7.5cm diameter top as below;

To make a cover for a different size pot;

Follow the increase rule for a circle until you have the size of the base you need and then follow point 4 onwards until you have the height of pot cover need to cover your pot. If you pot has shape and requires increases and decreases do so to shape the pot cover you need for your pot.

I changed colours as I fancied to mix up my pots. I found the Bakers Twine to be a great yarm, it holds it’s shape and is malleable but watch, after a while it’s tough on the hands!

Have fun mixing things up.

And so after a beautifully sunny week the cold returned and with it the snow on Sunday. I got hailed on walking Wodge and boy did it hurt!

Enjoy your week, I hope it’s a creative one, any questions about the pot covers please email me on amy@mamieandflorrie.co.uk I’d love to see your makes!

Week 9 – Socks and a Face Plant Scarf

I promised to have some sock progress and at last, I do at least have one sock done. Hurrah for closure on one sock!

It’s slow progress I know but it’s getting there. Sock knitting is my go to bag project. Perfect for catching five minutes sneaky knitting on a lunch break, sat in a traffic jam or in a waiting room. Handy, compact and easy to catch a few rows when you can.

I found this photo of one of my favourite little scarfs which is so warm and I loved it. But I can’t find it so I need to make a new one.

I have decided to use my Swedish yarns to make a new scarf, I’m knitting it using both yarns; easy rhythmic garter stitch. It’s going to be big and billowing and blousey and wonderful. The type of wool you want to bury your face in. A face plant scarf. A snuggly delight, so here goes…

I will show you my progress next week.

Outside of my Yarnlandia we have had sun and warmth and so we are forecast snow tomorrow. That’s British weather for you! We love it really.

I’m still listening to Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney while walking, so far so good. Until next time my yarn friends 🙂

Week 8 – Meeting with My Tribe and not a lot of sock progress

It has been a crazy busy week catching up after a fab weekend in Stockholm so minimal yarning has been achieved. Must try harder, must concentrate more… familiar phrases from my youth!

My girl is still in India and due home tomorrow, I really can’t wait to see her, but it has been gorgeous to see my boy who has been home from Newcastle so it’s been a bit of a one in, one out scenario.

I have often mentioned the importance of seeing what I call my “Tribe” at the weekend. My yarn friends, my kindred spirits. Yesterday I went into Manchester to see my Tribe at Countess Ablaze, to chat, talk yarn, projects, life, some of us have arrived alone and never feel alone by the time we leave, always with new friends and ideas. I love it and it’s a really important part of my life. I liken it to going to the football, that passion and feeling of elation. I often come away from a new skein of something gorgeous too, there’s never a game lost.

I love a walk through the Norther Quarter of Manchester too, the street art is amazing.

I also love a little visit to Oklahoma in Manchester. This is a renowned kitsch delight, it is truly splendid. Perfect for presents a little treats. I have a habit of buying birds which I clip into mimosa branches. I adore them. I’m not sure I can add anymore however as the weight is starting to cause a 45 degree angle lean!

This week I have finished several Audiobooks as travelling gives me this opportunity. Michelle Obama’s Becoming is so inspirational and her calming and reassuringly strong narration just makes you think that woman could do anything. I also listened to Byrony Gordon’s Eat, Drink, Run about her training and preparation for running the London Marathon while battling with mental health issues. It’s not as calming Michelle Obama’s narration but encouraging all the same. This week I am listening to Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends, I am really looking forward to this one, I have heard great things.

And so, until next week. My girl will be back home, and I promise, I will try harder with the yarn. Have a good week!

.

48 hrs in Stockholm Part 2

Walk In and Dance Out! When in Stockholm visit the Abba Museum!

It really is hilarious. If like me you grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, Abba was pretty much your background music. Whether you think it’s cheesy, fun, you love or hate their music, you have to admit it’s a bloomin’ laugh. As soon as you get off the tram outside the museum you are greeted by a pair of giant silver boots on the roof and you know you’re in for fun, it’s a scream. The gift shop is kitsch and fun, even though they sell a knit your own Agnetha hat which is actually crocheted I’m not being picky… The museum is interactive, you can have photo shoots and karaoke ( could we be the only ones to score 0/5000?) . We loved it, it’s a laugh.

There comes a point when I was Abba’ed out and needed to get back out into the fresh air, I love the cold fresh air. We walked along the harbour back to the centre of town with the locals walking along the harbour, chatting, walking their dogs, on their scooters. Sunday definitely has a relaxed and chilled vibe.

There is a museum for everything and everyone in Stockholm; Boat Museum, Natural History, Pippi Longstocking, Children’s Museum, Modern Art. We went to the Modern Art Museum, it’s my thing, generally bright batty colours.

The museum has Warhol’s, Picasso’s, Modigliani’s and currently has a Gilbert and George exhibition. Check out the knitted placenta below too.

It’s so easy to walk around Stockholm, the underground is amazingly beautiful like an underground art gallery and science expo in one. We got the bus to and from the airport to the city centre so it’s really easy to get about.

We did intend to go to the Photography Museum on Sunday late afternoon, it shuts at 9pm (fab if you’re cramming a lot into a short space of time) but we decided just to slow it down this time, walk and people watch and get meatballs. We know we’ll return to see the Photography Museum soon.

So Meatballs for the People is a fantastic chilled out, relaxed restaurant and serves super tasty great meatballs and mashed potato. OMG! For me it was mash to die for and the meatballs were great too and I don’t like meat. Earlier in the day we had hot dogs ensuring we had pretty much ticked off the Swedish Ikea food offer. The hot dog was lush. Obviously being the fussy non-meat eating meat eater I took it on and loved it.

A slow wander back to the hotel through the streets like Weebles and that was Sunday done. Our early Monday morning flight home meant getting up at 4.30am to get to the airport. That’s fine to make sure we got the most of our weekend. We absolutely loved every minute of our time in Stockholm. The only thing I would say is it is expensive, the Swedes cost of living is high given higher salaries. The only way we could do as much as we did is because there was just the two of us, as a family of four we couldn’t have done as much as we did do, sorry kids!

Before visiting I followed Visit Stockholm on Instagram and they are really helpful, especially with yarn store locations!

And, just because, here’s this one, one more time. Enjoy! Until next time Stockholm, we’d love to return in the summer.

48 hrs in Stockholm Part 1

“Want to go somewhere warm?” he said
“Bugger that” I said, “I want to go to a land where’s there’s yarn!”
A very rare weekend just the two of us so instead of buying Christmas and anniversary presents we decided to go away. I have always wanted to go to Scandinavia. Stockholm won this time.

We stayed in Sodermalm in Hotel Hellstens Malmgard which was perfect for a couple nights in a central location. By choice I don’t do hotels, I really like to relax in a homely environment of an Airbnb, I guess I’m nosy, I like to see how people live, but this hotel suited me just fine; comfortable, boutique like interior, warm and friendly and with a cracking breakfast.

The hotel had some really gorgeous touches; I want geraniums in terracota pots everywhere now, tulip stems in glass vases, crochet linen cushions and lots of wood and natural materials.

We arrived late Friday night so Saturday morning we headed into the centre of Stockholm which is an easy walk through the neighbourhoods, past flower stalls, florists and small independent shops.

The Swedes love their coffee and the coffee houses in Stockholm are cool, comfy and inviting, the textiles covers and throws, the use of wood, natural materials, plants and finishing touches are gorgeous. I love Swedish interior design; simple and easily habitable. It’s just my bag.

Last week the weather had been sub zero, we were really lucky as the weather was about two degrees which was great for walking about. You can layer up, this gives the opportunity to wear all the yarn; cowls, wraps and knitted hats, mitts the lot, smashing. Even though there wasn’t snow underfoot there was a partially frozen sea with icebergs floating out to sea, usually with birds on board enjoying the ride.

The old town, Gamla Stan is very pretty, narrow cobbled streets, little coffee shops, hotels and specialist shops selling copper pans, glassware, paintings and vintage books, a great vibe for easy mooching about.