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!

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!

 

 

 

Catching up

Goodness, was March really the last time I posted here? Poor neglected little blog and shop! Over the last few months, its been a particularly intense and stressful period of my PhD meaning that I’ve had little time to do anything other than slog away at it. It’s meant that there hasn’t been an awful lot of knitting time and it has also meant that the poor old pooch has considered herself very neglected indeed and I have been on the receiving end of a lot of looks like this:

Poor Pepper dog!

Poor Pepper dog!

I’m relieved that this particular PhD hurdle has been jumped – not that it’s going to get any easier from now on, in fact as I’m entering the last bit of it, it’s likely to be just as intense but I’m telling myself it will all be fine. (If I think about it properly there’s quite a high chance I will lock myself in my wool room and never come out again!) Some good news though, I got through my end of year review and have also had a paper accepted to the American Political Science Association which this year is being held in Chicago…whooop! Chicago is one of my favourite places in the whole world and I have some lovely friends living there who I haven’t seen for many years so I am mega excited to have the opportunity to go back. Now I just need to actually get the paper written as well as all the other PhD stuff….*la la la, creeps towards wool room*

Actual knitting has been a bit thin on the ground but I have lots of new ideas for the shop and I’m looking into the idea of having my own webshop. More on that when I’ve had a chance to do a bit more research and thinking on it! I did make time to make a little flopsy bunny hat for my friends Caroline and Gary who had a lovely baby girl called Heidi a couple of weeks ago. This picture is rubbish but hopefully I will be able to get you a better pic of Heidi modelling it at some point.

Flopsy bunny hat: perfect for spring babies!

Flopsy bunny hat: perfect for spring babies!

I’ve also started work on some secret knitting 🙂 I can’t say too much more as there’s a small chance that the person who’s birthday present it is reads this blog so all I will say is that it’s quite a challenging knit and it’s made using this beautiful skein of Scrumptious lace weight from Fyberspates. The yarn is a gorgeous silk and merino blend, which gives it that lovely sheen and it is great to work with, although being laceweight it is very thin and delicate so the prezzie is taking quite a long time! I’m really hoping it will be lovely when it’s finished, I’ll try to remember to take some pics before I hand it over.

It’s a bank holiday here in the UK so I am looking forward to three glorious days off. Let’s hope the weather is kind to us! Hope you all have a lovely weekend wherever you are, Cx

The language of flowers

Brrr, cold isn’t it? I’ve been staying inside a lot recently partly because of the annoying cold that WILL NOT GO and partly because it’s been bitterly chilly and I feel the cold like a granny. I’ve been trying to put some time aside to read more for fun as it is easily my favourite thing in the world to do (well, apart from knitting obviously!). Even when I was very small I was quite obsessed with books and reading anything that I came across. My Dad loves to tell the story of when I was about 6 and must have been visiting my stepmum’s parents for the first time and they found me at the kitchen table reading the newspaper. They thought I couldn’t actually read it so were humouring me until I launched into a conversation about what I was reading (aah, so that’s where my ranting about current affairs and setting the world to rights started!!). I suspect this must have either been very cute or quite tedious, let’s hope it fell on the cute side!

My lovely friend Lizzy bought me an awesome bag for Christmas with this Louisa May Alcott quote on:

Too true!

Too true!

When I was looking for a picture of it, I came across a lovely shop on Etsy called Bookity, (whose brooch that is a pic of) and she sells gorgeous things like brooches, earrings and decorations recycled from unwanted books. Definitely worth a look!

Because I have to read so much heavy stuff for my PhD, there’s often not a lot of time or brain left over for pleasure reading. But I feel very wrong without at least one book on the go and so have been making the most of my local library’s ordering service to stock up on some books I wanted to get my mitts on but that the pennies wouldn’t stretch to. One of the first books I ordered was called The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.

Purple Irises are one of my favourite flowers too :)

Purple Irises are one of my favourite flowers too 🙂

I had seen lots of posters for it a while ago but had assumed it wouldn’t be my sort of thing but it’s actually quite a touching and hard-hitting story of a girl who has grown up in and out of the care system and who tries to make a life for herself using her knowledge of the Victorian language of flowers, whereby people used to believe that particular flowers had certain meanings and so bunches of flowers would be picked very carefully for the messages they were trying to convey. I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a book to read.

Speaking of flowers, I hope all of you that were hoping for flowers for Valentine’s Day the other week got them and just a little early reminder that if you’re in the UK, Mothers Day is on Sunday 10th March so not long away at all! I’m in the middle of giving the shop a bit of a spring clean but there are some nice handwarmers and hats in there at the moment which would make a perfect Mother’s Day gift and I’ll be adding some more as well as some flower brooches over the next few days.

Work in progress!

Work in progress

 

Keep your eyes peeled for shop updates! x

 

Blue Monday

Today was indeed Blue Monday but not in the ‘most miserable day of the year’ way that the papers churn out every January. Instead, a freezing cold but gorgeously sunny day meant it was like this:

 

And like this…

Blue!

Living in the the North West, the default setting for the sky over the last few weeks seems to have been a stormy charcoal grey or a frosty white, so a lovely bright blue colour today has been a welcome surprise.

It reminded me of a project I saw over at Lupin Handmade’s blog http://bugsandfishes.blogspot.com/2011/12/project-for-2012.html where she’ll be making a sky blanket by knitting a little square in the colour of the sky each day and at the end of the year will have a nice snuggly record of the year. Laura makes amazing brooches and hair accessories in felt in a variety of animals, flowers and birds – definitely worth having a look at if you fancy treating yourself to a little something!

Even though it is a lovely day, its still freezing cold so I have been snuggling up under my chunky blue cable knit blanket that I made last year whilst I’ve been working today. How I love working from home! On the needles is a little white and blue matinee jacket for a friend who’s about to have her first baby…

 

There’s a pile of little knitted hats and bootees waiting for me to sew them up and put buttons on them so I can add them to the shop…

 

And watching over it all is my little blue bird that hangs on the door of my little work space:

This little wooden bird was one of the many lovely little surprises I received when I took part in the Curiosity Project recently http://thecuriositybox.blogspot.com/ If you haven’t come across it before, this is a really fun and surprisingly touching project where you get given a little bit of info about someone else in the project and you send them a box full of little treats that you hope they’ll like and someone else does the same for you. Choosing what you’re going to pick for my Curious Friend’s was really good fun although a bit nerve-wrecking as well as you really hope that they’re going to like what you’ve picked them and of course, you also get the delight of a box full of goodies to unwrap as well! There should be another project of some kind coming soon so keep yours eyes peeled.

I hope your Blue Monday has been as bright and cheery as mine!x

Hello!

Welcome the the woolly world of the Purly Queen! Pull up a pew and settle down with a cuppa while I introduce you to my ramblings on my knitting business and life as a PhD student among other things.

I have been knitting for about 6 or 7 years and was lucky enough to be taught by Claire Montgomerie, a very special friend of mine who also happens to have a Masters in textile design from the Royal Academy of Arts! She’s the author of several knitting and crochet books and her blog is here http://www.montyknits.blogspot.com/

Knitting became my companion on my many work trips around the country and across the world and as I find that knitting always helps me to work through my thoughts, it was particularly important in helping me make the decision in 2009 that it was time to look for a new challenge in life. I moved from London to Manchester to do a MSc in Social Change and launched myself as a freelance researcher, while trying to get my southern softie self to adjust to the cold and rain oop north! I started my PhD in January and whilst I love the process of reading, writing and researching, the more I do it, the more I need creative outlets to balance out all the theories and statistics!

The Purly Queen was born out of a need to channel those creative urges (and you know, paying the bills!) and I’ll be blogging more in the future about why I think making things by hand and supporting the craft industry is so important. Another reason was that when looking for gifts for babies and kids, I was so tired of the same old things in pastel colours and I’m hoping to offer something a little bit different.

If nothing else, setting up a business gives me a great excuse for searching for vintage patterns and playing with different yarns and buttons – all in the name of work!

The aim of this blog is to chat about how the business is progressing, posting sneak previews of newly knitted pieces and all things knitting. Most likely there will also be rambles about the PhD, cooking, craft,healthy living and yoga so prepare yourself for an eclectic mix!

Thanks for reading and I look forward to sharing this journey with you all. Remember to keep checking http://www.folksy.com/shops/thepurlyqueen for knitted goodies!