Christmas competition!

Well hello there, how are you all? So Christmas is on it’s way and I have a little competition for you! If you’d like to win a personalised hand-knitted snowflake Christmas stocking such as the ones I have listed here, then here’s what you have to do:

1) Head over to The Purly Queen facebook page here and like the page

2) Then wander over to my shop here, have a browse through the listings and favourite at least one item (other than the Christmas stockings)

3) Leave a comment here on the blog or on the facebook page, telling me which item you liked most and who you think it would make a perfect Christmas present for.

Once that’s all done, I will enter your name in the prize draw and the winner will be picked on Saturday 6th December (that’s Small Business Saturday in the UK) so the stocking will be made in time for Santa to fill it with lots of goodies!

Looking forward to seeing which knits you like best!

Cheryl x

P.S. If by any chance you haven’t shopped on Etsy before, here’s a code for £5 off your first purchase http://etsy.me/1yuRXe3 , valid in mine or any of the Etsy shops. Happy shopping!

A little update

Poor neglected blog.

I can’t quite believe that it’s been 5 months since I last posted here but that time has been such a hectic roller coaster of stuff that perhaps I shouldn’t be so surprised! I’m now officially in the fourth year of the PhD which means that I am in the process of trying to GET. IT. DONE. which as I’m sure you can imagine is pretty blooming stressful and time consuming! I’ve been doing a variety of jobs to get me through this year including teaching a third year undergraduate class on the Internet and Politics, working as a research assistant on an interesting policy project and doing a few freelance research jobs which have had me travelling up and down the country. Plus I was lucky enough to get a paper accepted to this year’s PSA conference in Manchester in April this year and also one to the APSA conference in Washington D.C. in August, which I was scurrying around trying to find enough funding for so that I could definitely go.

Add into that my best friend’s wedding for which I was delighted to be Maid of Honour, my lovely Dad’s 60th birthday and Mr Purly Queen’s Dad’s 80th birthday and I’ve had an unfortunate bout of rubbish health stuff and it has been a slightly mental few months!

Sad to say, there has not been an awful lot of time for knitting! This is something that needs to be rectified asap, not least because it is such a good stress-buster for me and might help to balance out the challenges of this year a bit! There have been a few knits going on. I made myself a really sweet silk and merino blend shrug for the wedding but as the wedding turned out to be on one of the hottest days of the year, I didn’t wear it once! I’m sure it will get some use though as the weather gets a bit cooler.

There’s also been a really joyous succession of new babies arriving and announcements that more are on the way this year! Here’s a little elephant cushion I made for my lovely friend Debbie (she of the reindeer hat on Everest fame!) who had a gorgeous little boy called Max earlier in the year.

 

 

 

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Hopefully there will be more knits to share with you soon…and plans for Christmas! (Sorry but you have to think about these things early when you’re a knitter!) Hope you’re all having a wonderful summer x

Works in progress…and a challenge for February

So the dark, grey and damp weather continues apace and I am CRAVING colour and light. I’ve been working on a few colourful knits and thought I’d share their progress in case you were in need of a colour boost as well!

First up is the Failynn Fox Cowl that I’m making up for a lovely friend’s daughter and which I’ll then be offering in the shop. It’s a lovely warm foxy colour and I’m working it up in a lovely soft yarn. I’ve nearly finished the main body of the cowl and then need to make the ears and finish off the edges. What I didn’t spot in the pattern at the beginning is that the edgings need to be crocheted, so I need to get on with some more crochet practice before I can finish it! (More on this in a later post!)

Failynn Fox cowl in progress...also comes in adult sizes!

Failynn Fox cowl in progress…also comes in adult sizes!

 

Next up is something I’ve been working on for a while for the shop which I’m hoping you will all love. I won’t tell you what it is just yet but will give you a sneaky peek. Any guesses what it is?

A very hungry work in progress...

A very hungry work in progress…

And finally something that happened completely by accident…something for me! I was looking for some chunky red yarn in my stash for the rest of the previous knit and I came across two balls of yarn that I had bought before Christmas intending to turn it into a cowl for the shop. I ran out of time last year to do anything with it but something about the gorgeous bright colours of this yarn made my heart sing and before I knew it, I was casting on a cowl for me. I honestly can’t remember the last time I made something for myself. What with making gifts and knits for the shop, and the small matter of the PhD to finish, there hasn’t been time to cast on anything for me. (Not that that has stopped me thinking about it, I have a list of knitted wants as long as my arm!). And what’s worrying is that when I was looking at this yarn that clearly had my name all over it with all its gorgeous bright shades,  I started to feel guilty about even thinking of setting aside some time to make myself something. And that my friends, is just wrong!

So I looked at this lovely yarn, which reminds me of beautiful Bollywood colours…

Pretty!

Pretty!

…I cast on…

Exciting!

Exciting!

…and I’ve been grabbing ten minutes here and there where I can and knitting a couple of rounds of this…

For me...ME! :)

For me…ME! 🙂

The photos don’t really don’t do it justice, because it’s so dark you can’t really see how the colours blend really subtly into one another and as well as bright pink, orange and teal, there’s also some lovely soft green, purple and grey shades. I’m so pleased with it already and can’t wait for it to be finished so I can snuggle up in it. It definitely gave me pause for thought as well, I think there’s so many of us who are great at doing all the things we should and things for other people but something stops us doing nice things for ourselves.  I’ve been reading so much about self-care recently and as a society we are reeeeeaallly bad at it and yet it’s so important for our health, happiness and general well-being.

So dear readers, in this month where there’s lots of talk of love, I challenge you to do something nice just for you! 🙂 It doesn’t have to cost money, you don’t even have to make something for yourself if that’s not your forte but it could be something as simple as a lovely hot bath, a walk to clear your head or just carving out ten minutes for yourself every day…just for you. I’d love to hear if this resonates with you and what you’re planning to do for yourself this month….feel the love, people! xxx

Plans for the weekend

Aaah, the joy of a weekend with nothing planned. No pressing work or chores beyond making sure that the pooch gets her walks and that there is food to eat. In the spirit of making sure I have treats to get myself through the last year of the PhD without going mad but having a tiny budget and also as part of Operation Hygge (see here if you don’t know what I’m talking about), this weekend is going to be all about comfy, cozy things.

I bought myself two Christmas presents last month, knowing that January would be tough and I needed things to look forward to. Firstly, as I have been meaning to learn to crochet for ages and ages, I treated myself to a learn to crochet kit from a lovely lady called Sewfie (you can find her site here). She and I share a love of crafty, eco-friendly things and she has a real passion for sharing her love of crochet with other people so I thought this would be the perfect place to start. This weekend I’m going to finally sit down with it and start having a go!

Sewfie's lovely Learn to Crochet kit

Sewfie’s lovely Learn to Crochet kit

 

The second gift to myself was my first book from Persephone Books (website here). If you haven’t come across Persephone books before, you’re in for a treat! They specialise in books from 20th century writers, mostly women, whose works have been neglected or fallen out of print so they have a whole host of interesting titles but the other main selling point is that they are BEAUTIFUL! They have gorgeous soft grey covers and the end papers are sourced from textiles or interior designs that are relevant to the timing of the book, so you get a hit of beautiful vintage design as well as a matching bookmark. The catalogue is quite large and still growing so I wasn’t sure which to pick as my first treat but in the end I plumped for one of their best-selling titles Miss Pettigrew lives for a day.

My first Persephone book!

My first Persephone book!

It was written in the 1930s I believe and I know lots of people have a huge amount of affection for it so I am looking forward to snuggling under a blanket and getting stuck in to it. It’s going to be a real treat as given the lack of pennies this year, my book buying habit is going to have to be severely curtailed so I’m going to enjoy every minute of it and dream about when I might be able to get another one!

What do you have planned for the weekend? Hope it is full of hygge!

 

 

 

When life hands you lemons…

Life has thrown me a bit of a curve ball these last couple of weeks in that I’ve found out I have a few severe food intolerances and so have to adapt to a pretty restricted diet for the foreseeable future. I’ve been gluten-free for a long time but now I also have to avoid all dairy, eggs and yeast as well as move to a low-FODMAPS diet.

Dear readers, my reaction was not pretty. I wept, I railed at the unfairness of it all and mourned for the loss of my beloved cheese and wine. I ignored the fact that I had found out what was causing some of my health problems and would possibly feel loads better once I started following the eating plan and instead focussed on how it was another thing I was having to give up in life….rant, moan, rage etc.

And then I remembered about moving with ease through life and started to focus on what I can still eat. I remembered that I’m luckier than most people in that I’ve already been through one dramatic life/eating change when I had to give up gluten and so I know the process. I know it gets easier once you get into it but if I’m honest, I’m still grumbling a bit. But I’ve pulled out the recipe books and started playing a bit and it  is getting better.

Here are some of the things I’ve been making:

Lemony roast chicken soup

Lemony roast chicken soup

 

Roasted seabass with rosemary potatoes, peppers and spinach

Roasted seabass with rosemary potatoes, peppers and spinach

And made some attempts at baking, which I have to say were not wholly successful!

First batch of baking

First batch of baking

There’s some choc chip cookie bites adapted from a recipe at Elana’s Pantry which worked perfectly and tasted lovely. Some peanut butter biscuits which tasted nice but spread all over the baking sheet because the egg replacer changed the consistency and so I ended up with random bits of biscuits. Finally an attempt at bread which I have to say was an abject failure…completely inedible! Will have to try again on that one, I think gluten, dairy, egg and yeast free bread is going to be a bit of a holy grail mission. By any weird chance does anyone know a reliable recipe for this?!

So it’s a steep learning curve but one that will hopefully be really worth it. If you happen to see Mr Purly Queen at any point in the next few weeks, give him a hug won’t you? I suspect I am not that easy to live with while I work all of this out…:)

Sorry Mr Purly Queen!

Sorry Mr Purly Queen!

The PhD blanket or Making it easier on yourself

As part of Operation Hygge, I decided that I wanted to make a blanket to cheer up our bedroom. Sticking to the make do and mend philosophy, I looked at the patterns I already have and went for a little dive in the yarn stash to see what I could make from the yarn I already had. And so I settled on this:

Debbie Abrahams Mosaic Blanket - source: Ravelry

Debbie Abrahams Mosaic Blanket – source: Ravelry

A gorgeous geometric bed-sized blanket and once I’d jigged around the colours a bit, I already had pretty much all the yarn I needed to complete it. So I duly started at the beginning of the year, trying to knit a square a day and have started to amass a little pile of squares.

Lots of knitted squares

Lots of knitted squares

As I was making them, the enormity of the task started to dawn on me. There are 117 squares in the blanket, not including all the stitching together, blocking, knitting the edging and the weaving in of thousands of tiny ends. Plus, as I’m using yarn that I already have rather than the lovely Rowan yarn that the pattern suggests, some of it is misbehaving and making things even harder. That bright petrol blue yarn you can just see the ends of in the pic above is a gorgeous colour but is cheap, nasty yarn that keeps splitting and getting tangled. There’s two different brands of bamboo yarn in there, both of which are lovely and soft but one is loads stretchier than the other so the squares are coming out different sizes. And I started to realise that this blanket project was in fact a metaphor for this final stage of my PhD: loads of things that need to be done and joined together to make one big thesis and many of those things are really bloody hard and make me want to cry and I am not working with perfect materials and it is going to take bloody ages.

And then I thought that the blanket was also like the PhD in that although it will be a real endurance task, it is all about doing one square/task at a time and at the end I will have a PhD/a cool blanket for my bed. And that was going to be the end of my post, feeling quite pleased with myself and my metaphor blanket.

Then the other day after a particularly stressful day, filled with lots of life conundrums I was chatting to a lovely friend who gave me the very wise advice of making things easy for myself and a little lightbulb went off in my head. Why am I knitting lots of little squares when I could just be knitting them in long strips? It’s still lots of work but it cuts out a lot of the annoying work and makes the knitting process much more pleasurable and so the weird knitted snake of squares came to life:

Finding the ease...

Finding the ease…

I’ve been hearing lots of people talking to me about moving with ease recently. Tara Stiles and Michael Taylor at Strala for one. I am pretty stubborn so I think it takes me hearing something several times and someone being blunt with me for it to sink in but when it does…yes, this year is going to be about finding the ease in everything, getting things done and looking forward to the way ahead. Now I just need to work out what the equivalent of knitting in one long strip is in PhD terms…wish me luck!

Operation Hygge

A very happy new year to you all! I’m starting the year in a bit of a reflective mood, with both the dog and I having been poorly and sadly losing a much beloved family pet. Lots of questions are racing round my mind from the general post-Christmas “What can I eat next?” to the much bigger “What do I want to do with my life?”. The weather is appalling, although I realise we are getting off very lightly compared to other parts of the UK and friends in the US midwest!

So to avoid falling completely into a January slump, my thoughts have been turning to the idea of “Hygge”. I was lucky enough to go to Copenhagen for a weekend in December with some lovely friends (although I failed to take a single picture!) and first learnt about the idea then.

Source: Cloudberry living via Pinterest

Source: Cloudberry living via Pinterest

Copenhagen was awesome by the way, lots of cool design and friendly people but entirely set up for coziness despite being cold and dark; lovely lights and candles, pretty stars in the windows and snuggly blankets in all the cafes and restaurants. And then I found this article and a post about it on a lovely blog I’ve just discovered called Cozy Things and it all started to fall into place.

Source: Trine Jansen via Pinterest

Source: Trine Jansen via Pinterest

It’s all about being warm, cozy, content, soothed and happy…all of which I am feeling greatly in need of right now and I’m sure many of you are too! So in lieu of any new year’s resolutions I am launching Operation Hygge: to fill my home and life with things that make me happy and cozy and all on a miniscule budget. Well, realistically when I say miniscule, I mean non-existent! Like many of us, this year is going to be extremely tight financially so anything I do has to be about making use of things I already have or that I can beg, borrow or steal 🙂 My make do and mend mentality has been brewing for a while but the excess of Christmas has tipped me over the edge…just too much STUFF. I’m sure there will be a ranty post on this in the not too distant future! All the more reason to hunker down under cozy blankets and knit and read and drink tea and snuggle up with dear ones.

The first part of the plan is the dreaded de-cluttering, starting with the room where I keep all my wool and general crafty stuff. I’m going in, I may be some time…!

A little bit of sparkle!

Here’s a selection of hand-knits from the shop for  those who love things that are a little bit sparkly, and let’s face it who doesn’t? Everything here has got a little touch of sequins or glitter to add a little touch of sparkle and shimmer.

Mmm, shiny!

Mmm, shiny!

From top left we have: Purple sequinned cowl 22.00, White sparkly gloves 20.00, Pink glitter hat 18.00, White sparkly hand warmers 7.00, Grey sequinned hat and mitts set 30.00, Purple sparkly beret 12.00, Navy blue sparkly hat 18.00 and sparkly mittens 17.00.

Sorry to sound like a stuck record but don’t forget, it’s Small Business Saturday tomorrow (7th December) and you’ll get free shipping to anywhere in the world if you use the code SMALLBIZSATURDAY when you make any purchase from the shop.

 

Gifts for under 20 of your finest British pounds

Here’s another selection of gifts to give you some inspiration! The first set are all 10 pounds and under (the pound sign isn’t working on my laptop, can you tell?!), perfect for stocking fillers, Secret Santa gifts and teachers’ presents.

All under 10 pounds!

All under 10 pounds!

The next selection are all 15 pounds and under. There’s a mixture of hats for girls, hand warmers and some hat and mitts sets for babies aged 0-6 months. Perfect for parents-to-be or those with a newborn!

Everything fifteen pounds and under

Everything fifteen pounds and under

Next up, we have a few selections of lovely knits for 20 pounds. First of all, a selection of knits for babies and kids.

Treats for kids 20 pounds and under

Treats for kids 20 pounds and under

 

Next, a cosy collection of hats to keep everyone warm!

Hats 20 pounds and under

Hats 20 pounds and under

And finally some lovely mittens, gloves and hand warmers to keep those fingers toasty!

Gloves, mittens and hand-warmers

Gloves, mittens and hand-warmers

 

All of these can be found in the shop and don’t forget, free shipping all day on Saturday 7th December with the code SMALLBIZSATURDAY. Check back here later for some more gift ideas.

Stay cozy!x

Ideas for Men…and a giveaway!

Here’s the first in a short series of curated collections from the shop to give you some ideas for Christmas gifts. I’ve started with men as I know Dads, Uncles, Grandads etc. can often be really difficult to buy for so here’s some inspiration for you!

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All available in the shop now!

Remember it’s Small Business Saturday this Saturday and I am offering free shipping all day 🙂

I’ve also decided to run a little giveaway. As you might have seen in one of my previous posts, I’m going to be selling made-to-order knits from the lovely Velvet Acorn’s patterns. Everyone who makes a purchase or places an order from me in December will be entered into a prize draw to win a hat hand-knitted by me from a Velvet Acorn of their choice. I’ll put all the names in a hat and make the draw on the 31st December so you’ve got plenty of time to enter.

Happy shopping!x