Sunday, 4 August 2013

Camping Crafts

For the past few years we've had a camping holiday in the UK during the summer months.  One of the things I like about camping is the chance to sit and relax, some peace and quiet without the temptation of Twitter, Facebook or crap telly sucking up all of your time (although a smartphone and wifi make all of these things totally possible).

In and amongst packing the tent and the kitchen sink, I can be found standing infront of craft supplies trying to decide what project to take.  It needs to be portable and easy enough to pick up and put down at a moments notice. 

A good book or my kindle are essential items on a camping holiday but after last years kindle disaster ...
... there's definitely a need for other pastimes too.

I'm a big fan of patchwork and quilting but my sewing machine is less than portable and my handsewing leaves a lot to be desired, especially in low light evenings outside the tent.  I do have a tin of paper hexagons and fabric squares in my handbag for whenever I feel the need to do some english paper piecing but this is not something that will fill a week for me.

Last year I took my needlefelting supplies and made Mr Blobby

which I enjoyed, however, jabbing barbed needles into wool you are holding, I think, is a hobby best kept to well lit, alcohol free areas and maybe not best suited to evenings under a camping lantern with a glass travel mug of wine or two.

Cross Stitch
Can be very portable and while dim evening light is not ideal, at least the needle is not sharp so the risk of injury is not to great.  Following a pattern though does require a fair bit of concentration, fine if you've plenty of time but there are many occasions when crafting is interrupted my children and family who want talking to, watching, feeding etc

This is my newest craft.  I've had a fair few goes at amigurumi and made toys for friends and family (and the cat) but again this portable, finger friendly craft has a pattern that needs following.  There's counting and everything! 

I have been wanting to try traditional crochet, granny squares in fact.  Before we left I watched a few YouTube videos and had a few tries.  This is my camping craft of choice (this year lol).  I packed some small balls of yarn that came free with a magazine, a 4mm hook and my little project bag with scissors and stitch holders.  It's portable, a nice easy pattern that's easily pick up and put down able and gentle on the fingers in dim evening light.  Even better I can stick project in my handbag for use on the go without fear of jabbing my fingers when routing around.

Here is the result of my camping crafting this week.  I think I'm getting the hang of it.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Rory's Story Cubes

I often get sidetracked.  Start off looking for one thing and end up looking at something entirely different.

I think that's how the internet gets you.  A 'quick look' online for todays weather forecast and two hours later you're embroiled in an Ebay bidding war for dice games, your laundry hasn't done itself and the kids are still hungry.

Now I love dice games & card games.  I have a games box that goes on holiday with us and I'm always on the look out for new games to go inside it.  That's how I found Rory's Story Cubes.


What are they?
Rory's Story Cubes are basically a box of 9 dice with a different image on each face.

What do you do with them?
You roll the dice then use the images as prompts to create a story.

When do you use them?
They did get into my games box, but not for long.  I decided the best place for them was my handbag.  Anywhere where I have to wait with the children, out they come.  It prevents a lot of bickering and arguing and general boredom.  They have served to keep us entertained in the waiting room at the dentist, waiting for a train, waiting for our meal in restaurants and many more places.  They're not just for killing time though, we get them out to play at home and they always come on holiday with us.

How do you use them?
The way we play is to roll the dice then in turns blindly pick 3 each.  The first player then uses their dice to start the story, the second continues it with their three followed by the last player.  If we're enjoying the story we might roll the dice again and continue.

A night in with a bottle of wine and the Story Cubes results in a whole different story and lots of laughter. 

How much do they cost?
I paid £10, which seems to be the average price.

Where can you get them?
I bought my original set on eBay and subsequent sets from Amazon but you can also get them direct from Rory @

How many sets are there?
I may have indulged in additional purchases as they've come out:-

The most recent addition to the Story Cubes family.  They are 3 dice packs on a specific theme (clues, enchanted or prehistoria) designed to be used with one of the three original 9 dice sets.

Also the iPhone and android apps joined my arsenal as they work better in the car than actual dice as there's nothing to loose under the seat.

Anything else you should know?
Packaging - The original sets come in compact sturdy packages that have stood up to months of frequent use and battering in the bottom of my handbag.  The mixes are new and have only been in my bag a week or so.  So far so good but to be honest I do not expect much from the thin card wrap around case, I would have preferred the sturdy base to entirely enclose the dice, perhaps with a magnetic clasp as the larger boxes do.  I may have to whip up a drawstring bag for them in the not too distant future.

Would I recommend them?
Absolutely!  A resounding 5 out of 5 in my book.

I've gifted two sets to friends and convinced the speech and language therapist at work to buy a set for use in her sessions.

Still with me?
I love my Story Cubes and can often be found enticing people to play.    Now I'm giving one original set to one of you, my lovely readers.  How can you get your hands on them?  Leave a comment about how and where you would use them and I will use the very high tech method of picking a name out of a bag on the 6th August 2013 to decide who gets them.

What next?
I try and remember the stories we come up with using the story cubes.  If ever I remember enough or remember to set my phone to record, I'll come back and tell you a story that's a little longer than 'the Octopus of destiny saved the alien jelly bean nation from the virus invasion'.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

The Craft of the Moment

I try my hand and many different crafts but usually only one at a time.  At the moment it is crochet.  In previous bouts of crochet I have played at amigurumi and made eggs for the cat and a giraffe for a friends baby.  I made a start on a this tooterphant but stopped only 10 rounds in in favour of something else.  Project Life I think.

As I said, it's the turn of crochet again but this time I'm trying something other than amigurumi.  I revived my Ravelry account and had a browse of patterns before settling on this Hook Monster Crochet Case.  I made two in the space of a week, mainly because they're easy and don't need me to keep count of stitches or rows, just carry on until it looks to be the right size for my hooks.
I think I started out with tensions issues as the pink case was my first and it should be an even rectangle shape, not narrower at the bottom.

Next I want to have a go at a Mobius pattern I found on Ravelry and yesterday I detoured to Texere Yarns after work to get something chunky to work with.  I came away with this:-
Two balls of something chunky, a ball of sparkly (I think I may have magpie tendencies) and a pair of 4.5mm knitting needles I don't need (I wanted an afghan crochet hook it seems, not knitting needles.  Oops).

A Google search for how to crochet with Sirdar Firefly turned up a pattern for this beautiful shawl which is now also on my to make list, I just need another couple of balls first.   Maybe another trip to Texere Yarns but more likely a browse at Purple Linda Crafts cause they do afghan hooks too.

As is usually the case with my crafts though, I seem to spend more time online reading about it, talking about it or shopping for it than I actually spend doing it.  This has been no exception and this week I have spent a good hour or more watching YouTube videos on making granny squares.  The instructions seem straightforward enough, as do the video but I've tried and frogged many attempts this week.  I'm just going to have to get a real live person to show me.#

That's enough rambling for one evening.  I might just go and pick up my hook now and start actual crafting.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Hello World

This blog had been lying dormant for a good long while. I think it might be time for a revival. I've downloaded the blogger app to my phone so updates should be nice and easy. Now all I need is to find something to write about...