Fancy a Veuve Clicquot Knitting Caddy?

As I was putting away some clothing in my wardrobe yesterday, my eyes zeroed in on a white plastic bag. All of a sudden I had a light bulb moment because I remembered what was in that plastic bag. Now, I’m in and out of my wardrobe a number of times throughout the day and yet it was only yesterday that I actually realised what a little treasure I had hiding in this plastic bag.

A couple of years ago one of my son’s friends gave me a lovely bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne for Christmas that came in a lovely orange/yellow (pumpkin coloured) presentation container. I drank the champagne with my family and promptly wrapped the container and popped it in my wardrobe. It went completely out of my mind until yesterday.

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A while ago I also added a page onto my blog called ‘Essential Knitting Paraphernalia’ and on that page I talk about some of the essential knitters’ tools of the trade of which knitting caddies feature.

I’m a bit of a knitting caddy addict as I believe most types of containers can be used as a knitting caddy and that’s where my new Veuve Clicquot knitting caddy originated. What a fantastic idea! From something that’s been sitting in my wardrobe for a couple of years because I didn’t know what to do with it, to a beautiful, classy, stylish knitting caddy that can be taken to any cafe or restaurant and take pride of place on the table. What a talking point it could be!

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My new caddy is probably the closest I’ll ever get to mixing with the rich and famous!

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I’ve been knitting this scarf for a while now. It’s easy to pick up when I have a few spare minutes or in between projects when I am deciding what to knit next. It now has a new home!

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Yes, I am quite happy with my latest find. What do you think of it?

Until next time…

Melanie

Oaklet Shawl

I was so excited when I received my package from Yarn Glorious Yarn as I knew it contained my two skeins of the first offering in Zen Yarn Garden’s new ART WALK Series that features a painting by Vincent van Gogh entitled “View of the Arles with Irises” which inspired this colourway. Painted on Serenity Silk Single, Mr. Zen has captured the water colour quality of the painting very well with the silk giving just enough sheen to mimic the effect of water. From one medium to the next, artists express their use of colour!

This colourway once sold out will not be repeated. With the first skein I made this gorgeous shawl from the free Ravelry pattern called Oaklet Shawl. It is soooo easy to make and only took me a few days. It is predominantly just knitting and purling until the edge.

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Oaklet Shawl 01

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The yarn is incredibly smooshy and soft and the colours are divine. I am really impressed with my first exposure to Zen Yarn Garden.

Zen Yarn Garden art-walk-series-5

There will be further colourways in the series as the year progresses. I reserved two skeins of the next two series with Sue at Yarn Glorious Yarn as I don’t want to miss out. Last week I received two skeins of the second series but you will have to wait to see it until I decide what creation I will knit. It is gorgeous!

Serenity Single is a glorious soft single ply fingering yarn spun from 75% superwash merino/15% cashmere and 10%silk. There is 430 yards on a 100 gram skein.

I featured this yarn in an earlier blog post which can be read here.

Here’s the painting that inspired the yarn colourway.

View of the Arles with Irises Van Gogh

I’m not sure what I will make with the other skein I have but I was thinking of the Falling Water scarf pattern that I found in Ravelry. Because the yarn is so soft it begs to be worn around your neck. Maybe someone can suggest another suitable Ravelry pattern for this yarn??

I have already started my next scarf in lovely variegated shades of green. Will blog about it in the not too distant future!

I am now inclined to make another Oaklet Shawl but a larger one….mmmmmm….what yarn from my stash should I use?

Just to finish off, here are some more photos of my Oaklet Shawl.

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Hope you are having a fantastic Easter weekend break. I’ve been busily knitting baby hats and bootees as I know of two little babies that will be born in winter this year. So much to do, so little time….

Talk soon..

Melanie

Cleveland BUZZ and an Aussie Yarn Bombing Blitz

Bloomfield Street, Cleveland was a hive of activity on Saturday morning as the 2013 Cleveland BUZZ celebrations were held. Events included live music, pottery in the park, shopfront artwork, laughter yoga, belly dancing, artists at work in the street, community group displays and demonstrations, walking spinning-wheel demonstrations, author book signings, street theatre, yarn bombing and more.

I joined the ladies of the Yarning Circle to create our yarn bombing masterpieces and displayed them outside The Artist Tree Cafe and Art Space. There were five of us today: Bobbie, Dolly, Sue, Elizabeth and me.

Yarn Bombing 01We spent about three hours busily joining knitted and crocheted shapes together. This was lots of fun as every shape was a different colour and each piece varied in size quite dramatically. Sue is head of the arts departments at a local high school so she was quite happy joining her pieces to create a real freeform object while I still need to find my real creative side. My pieces were all uniform in size! That’s what nearly 40 years of working in Government administration does to you! It supresses your inner creativity 🙂

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A ‘busy’ table

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This photo (below) is courtesy of Janet from Redland City Living. That’s me in the middle holding the blue crocheted square.

Mel Elizabeth Tricia 16-3-13

This yarn bombing was knitted in a yarn that contained a shiny thread. In the background the dreamcatchers are created by avid participants.

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Activity in Bloomfield Street, Cleveland

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Yarn bombing is something that seems to be sweeping Australia throughout March. Recently the Big Merino in Goulburn was given a new accessory. As part of the city’s 150th Birthday Celebration the Goulburn Knitters Guild spent MONTHS knitting squares to make Rambo the Ram look beautiful. With enough yarn to span the distance between Goulburn and Moss Vale and taking a number of men and a rope system to get it on the ram, this was no small project and is their biggest craft corner project to date. More than 100 people helped create the 30m, 30kg scarf, in a nine-month operation using 71km of yarn.

Rambo

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Yarn bombing also reached Adelaide and popped up most recently in the hills town of Stirling. Hundreds of school children, scouts, craft club members and individuals spent hours creating knitted and crocheted works to display outside the Coventry Library. The yarn bombing display was part of the Adelaide Fringe festival.

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Stirling Library Lawns

Yarn bombers also have been hard at work at Beachport in the south-east of South Australia.

Big Red Bench

These are quite impressive aren’t they? It makes our efforts seem quite amateurish. Not to worry, we had a ton of fun which is the main thing. Plus we made new friends which is always a bonus. We’ve also decided to try and meet twice monthly over the next year so we can really plan for next year’s yarn bombing exercise. I have already decided what piece of public furniture I am going to yarn bomb!

Have a great week and a safe and happy Easter too.

Melanie

Sunday Yarn Bits and Pieces

I had to get out the wool winder and swift today as I received my lovely yarn from Skein last week. I’ve also joined Augustbird’s KAL and am ready to start my second item but you guessed it, I hadn’t wound the second skein into a ball.

To join the KAL you need to knit any of Two Little Plums’ patterns using Augustbird yarn. I’ve selected the Barnwood Cowl and Barnwood Hat for my two items. I decided to knit two as these make a complementary pair don’t you think? I can only hope my knitted items turn out as well as the ones in the pattern pictures.

Barnwood Cowl picture-horz

The yarn I am using is Augustbird’s Hearty DK in ‘This Earth’. I just love the earthy tones in this colourway. This is the skein…

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and this is the ball of yarn…

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I have almost finished the cowl and today I started the hat. Once I’ve completed the hat I’ll use the remaining yarn for the rest of the cowl. Not sure how long the cowl will be but I’ll be happy if I can wrap it around my neck twice for added warmth and snuggliness.

I also wound the following skeins of Top Draw Sock yarn I received from Skein last week. This is Skein Speakeasy in the skein form….

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and wound into a ball….

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This is Skein Green Tea in skein form…

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and wound into a ball…

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This is Skein Tuscany in a skein…

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and now wound into a ball…

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And finally this is Skein Rusty Rock in a skein…

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and now wound into a ball…

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That was rather warm work as it was quite hot and humid in Brisbane this weekend. Now, the big question is what will I knit with this yarn. I’m thinking maybe a shawl, scarf and of course some socks!

I haven’t forgotten to blog about my visit to Cleveland BUZZ on Saturday. I’m just getting all the photos together so I’ll probably post it within the next couple of days.

Hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend fully of crafty goodness.

Melanie

In the Limelight Socks…….Pair # 24

I am particularly happy with my In the Limelight socks because I have actually used the correct yarn to show off this lovely stitch pattern. The pattern ‘Swedish Block’ is from Charlene Schurch’s book ‘More Sensational Knitted Socks’ and I would highly recommend it. You can read a book review here. It contains so many different stitch patterns from 4 – 12 stitch repeats. You can mix these leg/foot patterns with different heel flaps and toe finishes. A bit like a smorgasbord for knitters! You really need to have knitted a few pairs of socks and understand the construction of a sock before attempting mixing and matching the different parts of the socks.

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This heel flap has a three stitch garter edge just for something different. It certainly adds a bit of texture to the heel. These photos were taken outside and the colour is a tad dull. The inside photos show the true bright lime green colour of the yarn.

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The toe is a star toe hence the slight curve in the decreases.

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Limelight 11

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The yarn I used comes from Dyed By Hand Yarns, a yarn dyeing business located in Melbourne, Australia. Julie Boydell has been crocheting, knitting and generally crafting from an early age. Over the years she has learnt spinning and weaving, various hand and machine sewing techniques, felting, quilting, photography, colour and design. As a medical scientist she plays with dyes daily, and has honed her skills of observation, theory and practise in dyeing processes. The decision to dye yarns was a natural progression of this. Family and friends encouraged her to present her wares for sale, and Dyed By Hand Yarns was born. I, for one, am happy it was!

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I recently featured the yarns I purchased from Julie…you can read my story here. I am really impressed with this yarn….not only is it a beautiful colour, it has great ‘stretchability’ which is vital in a sock. I can also imagine a nice shawl made in the same yarn as it would have some ‘give’ and stretch nicely around you.

As described on Dyed By Hand Yarn’s website, Limelight is a light bright semi-solid lime green with hints of neon yellow and gold. The base yarn is Tough Stocking and it is a 75% superwash merino / 25% nylon. It weighs 100gm and contains 423 metres (463 yards) and is a fingering/sockweight, 4-ply construction. The colour of the yarn takes me back to the 1980s when this colour was all the rage. It’s great to see it make a comeback…but then doesn’t everything?

It is strong without the scratchy feeling (I can guarantee that…it is sooo beautifully soft and snuggly); you don’t notice the nylon in this yarn. Merino wool is well known for its warmth and elasticity, whilst the nylon provides strength. The tight twist means great stitch definition as you can see from my socks. One skein of yarn was more than enough for my socks. I probably have enough over to use as the cuff, heel flap and toe for another pair of socks using a variegated yarn for the leg and foot. It is also machine washable however I only ever hand wash my hand made socks.

I really love these socks and this yarn and can’t wait for the weather to get cooler so I can start wearing them.

And just to finish off, and because I really love these socks, here’s some more photos.

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Limelight 15

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Here’s to a wonderful crafty weekend. I’ll be attending Cleveland BUZZ tomorrow morning to check out all the arty and yarn festivities. Will take my camera along so I can share some photos with you.

Talk soon

Melanie

My Yarn Journey Musings

I can vaguely remember my Nanna teaching me how to knit when I was about 11 years old. It obviously didn’t leave a huge impression on me as I can’t remember what I knitted but I am assuming it was probably a garter stitch scarf, full of holes and long enough to wrap around the house a couple of times!! Isn’t that what most people learned to knit?

I didn’t continue to knit throughout my childhood years; it wasn’t until my early 20s that I picked up the needles again and started knitting jumpers (sweaters). Don’t ask me how I graduated from garter stitch scarves to jumpers. I do remember buying a pattern for a jumper and studying it as if the end result was going to be a PhD! I actually knitted quite a few jumpers and even embroidered pictures on them. Remember, back in the late 1970s and early 1980s there was no internet. You couldn’t just find a You Tube video for a certain stitch. None of my friends knitted either so the only way I could figure out something was to try and source a knitting book from my library; and they weren’t in plentiful supply either. It must have been sheer determination that helped me to understand a knitting pattern. I do remember a couple of instances of frogging a sleeve as I’d only decreased on the one side.

Here’s a picture of one of my first partly embroidered jumpers (right hand side). It was knitted in the 1980s and if I remember correctly only the kangaroos were embroidered on. This picture is from the pattern book. Unfortunately, I don’t know what has happened to the jumper 😦

Kangaroo Jumper

In those days the main yarn available that I can recall was Patons or Twilleys and if you were into acrylic it was Coles ‘Holiday’. Coles supported their Holiday yarn with many pattern books too. I managed to pick one up recently at a Lifeline Book Fest and it brought back fond memories. Back then I can only recall using straight metal knitting needles. Now I have some bamboo needles which I love as they are so light. I’ve also just bought my first set of Addi click needles.

Prior to my son’s birth on 4 July 1987 (yes, he shares a day celebrated in the USA) I knitted him bootees, bonnets and jackets in fine baby yarn.

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The little knitted vest in the right hand side picture is the same as the one on the cover of this Paton’s pattern book. You can still pick this book up from Ebay. Good patterns never seem to go out of vogue.

Patons Baby Patterns

Of course every baby and little boy needs and bonnet and a beanie!

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After a little break I knitted him jumpers when he was around 5-9 years old, again embroidering pictures on some of them. I have kept them and here are some photos. I love the Bugs Bunny jumper (knitted with Patons Totem) and was quite proud of my efforts. Unfortunately, living in Queensland there wasn’t much call to wear pure wool jumpers as it doesn’t really get that cold here in our winters. Hence the jumper is in immaculate condition. This jumper would be great in really cold weather as Bugs’ face has been embroidered on; hence there is double yarn thickness in that area.

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A not too clear picture of a scanned old photo.

Richard Age 5I must have had an embroidering craze! Everyone in the neighbourhood knew when his birthday was!

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I love the striped jumper; again it was hardly worn.

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After that burst of knitting, my interest waned. Until I found this little book called Knitted Mug Hugs in my local library which piqued my interest in 2011. I purchased the book and made a couple of the mug hugs. I subsequently visited The Book Depository and searched on mug hugs books and found the book (Mug Hugs by Alison Howard) which resulted in re-igniting my knitting interest. I have blogged about this previously; if you’re interested in reading my mug hug story it is here. Suffice it to say, I was hooked on knitting and looking for bigger and better things to knit.

I might add that throughout my life I also learned how to crochet. Again, I think my Nanna taught me as I can’t recall anyone else showing me. I also bought a very basic book about crocheting which is dated circa 1977 and I still refer to it to this day when crocheting.

I found these two pieces of flannelette, sewed them together and then crocheted the edges. This makes a great present for any new mum.

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Throughout the years, I have made quite a few granny square blankets out of acrylic (haven’t we all?). I also recently found some great pattern books for knitted and crocheted towel tops from Crochet Australia and have made quite a few of them.

After my mug hug craze, I bought a few second hand knitting books at my twice yearly Lifeline Book Fest and started knitting baby garments as these were small and gave almost instant results.

I also started getting interested in using only pure wool so I started visiting Ebay quite a bit and bidding on bundles of wool…..this was the start of my uncontrollable stash obsession which I have also blogged about. You can read about it here.

I’ve got one thing to say about shopping on the internet and that is ‘dangerous’. It is so easy to keep clicking on ‘Add to Cart’ or ‘Bid Now’. And the payment process is just a breeze with PayPal isn’t it? Plus the anticipation when I get home each afternoon wondering whether there will be a parcel waiting for me!

In the 1970s most yarn was a solid colour….I don’t remember much in the way of variegated yarn. It wasn’t particularly soft wool either; in fact it could be quite scratchy and hard to wear against the skin. Even with a shirt on the wool fibres would penetrate and annoy me.

I remember visiting my local Spotlight and Lincraft stores about 18 months ago and managing to find some nice yarn, in particular some Moda Vera Noir sock yarn. Sock yarn! I thought….”I could never knit a pair of socks”. Just looking at a sock and studying its structure was confusing to me.

Despite that, I bought about three balls of the sock yarn as it was quite cheap. I had no idea then how much sock yarn can cost per skein.

I also managed to locate a few yarn shops in Brisbane that had some good websites with facilities to subscribe to their newsletters which I did.

So I kept knitting my baby garments until one day a newsletter popped in my in box advertising sock knitting classes at Threads and More at Sherwood (the shop has since moved to Indooroopilly). I instantly recalled the three balls of sock yarn that I bought previously and thought “Go on….why not register” so I emailed the shop and registered for three x two hour lessons over three consecutive Saturday afternoons.

Knitting with five dpns was initially quite a challenge and I thought to myself “there’s no way I’m going to be able to knit socks with these needles and watch any TV”. I find knitting and watching TV very relaxing. After my first lesson I’d progressed past the cuff and onto the leg. Homework was to finish the leg. I rushed home, took photos and uploaded the photos and a quick story on my Facebook page as I was so excited with my efforts; maybe this was the start of my ‘blogging’ desire.

I thoroughly enjoyed my second lesson and couldn’t wait to get to my third lesson. By that time, I’d already started the second sock as I had a spare set of dpns at home (bamboo ones bought on Ebay from China – I love them!). I was so proud of my first pair of socks I could literally burst. Here they are.

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What these sock knitting lessons did was to instil and create such an obsessive passion for knitting and yarn that has taken control of me and simply will not let go.

I also discovered Ravelry….OMG what a fantastic website for knitters and crocheters. So many yarns in their database, so many free patterns for everything imaginable, so many groups you can join, so many other knitters whose projects you can follow. Ravelry has more than three million members and it’s free to join. I also learned about KALs (Knit-A-Longs). Have just joined one with Augustbird.

I also started trawling the internet and learned so much about yarn. I fell in love with hand painted variegated yarn and couldn’t believe there was so much sock yarn out there. But more importantly I discovered some fantastic online yarn suppliers in Australia.

Not only the yarn suppliers that have a shop front that provide gorgeous yarns sourced from around the world and provide excellent service….like Yarn Glorious Yarn, Yay for Yarn, K2TOG but I also found suppliers who dyed their own yarn in exquisite colours…both solid colours and variegated colours. I discovered beautiful soft, stretchy sock yarns that feel luxurious against the skin. I found suppliers who respond incredibly quickly to their customers’ needs and requests. Suppliers who don’t have the big store names but provide knitters with yarns that the big stores just do not (and probably won’t ever) provide.

My three favourite hand-dyed yarn suppliers are Skein, Dyed By Hand Yarns and Augustbird. I have no affiliation with any of these suppliers. I am just so impressed with their products, their service and their obvious passion in producing such luscious and beautiful hand-dyed yarns. Whenever I receive a package of yarn in the mail (and believe me this happens an awful lot; my local parcel delivery man waves to me every morning as I walk to work!), I stroke the yarn; I smell it and inhale its beautiful aroma and absorb its journey from the sheep (or alpaca) on the land, to the shearer, to the spinner, to the dyer and eventually to me. It is such an incredibly tactile experience. If you know of any other quality hand dyed yarn suppliers in Australia, please let me know.

Since my first pair of socks in August 2012, I have completed 25 pairs and in between socks, I have knitted a couple of blankets and shawls. I also have a couple of UFOs (unfinished objects….a vest is one of them). I have a plethora of knitting patterns sourced from Ravelry plus a library full of knitting books sourced from the Lifeline Book Fest and The Book Depository. A lot of them are recommendations I’ve gleaned from other knitters’ blogs. I have enough yarn to open my own store and I am now getting more adventurous with my socks by mixing and matching patterns with what I like. I now understand the structure of the sock. But believe me I still have a lot to learn….how to knit socks on a circular needle toe-up; how to knit two socks at a time on two circular needles toe-up. How to knit Cat Bordhi’s tomato heel. I also want to learn about how to knit a moebius…I have a pattern and the yarn and needles but just need to find the time to sit down and watch Cat Bordhi’s You Tube video instructions on how to cast on a meobius.

Which brings me to blogs. I’m always so excited when I finish a project and just want to show everyone so I thought why not blog about it. I am no seasoned writer but I believe when you write about something you’re passionate about the words just flow and there is no such thing as writer’s block. If anything, I can tend to ramble as I am no doubt doing in this blog! So that’s how MelsNattyKnits was born. The name came to me pretty quickly and I thought it sounded quite catchy.

The only problem I have now is finding the time to work full time, knit my garments and blog about them.

So thank you to all you wonderful knitters and crafty people who have elected to follow my blog. I do so appreciate it and it gives me so much encouragement to keep writing my posts. I hope you enjoy reading them and I would love you to leave comments. I get a thrill every time I visit my statistics page and see that I have another follower J

And thank you to all the lovely online yarn stores who have showcased such wonderful yarns (and had some great sales) and helped to deplete my bank balance J

And finally, thank you to the dedicated artisans who hand dye their beautiful yarns so that I can knit such beautiful and treasured garments.

Until next time…..keep knitting, crocheting, spinning and doing whatever craft makes you happy.

Melanie

Yarn Bombing in Cleveland (Brisbane)….Part 2

I thoroughly enjoyed my first Yarning Circle knitting/crocheting session last Saturday so it was with enthusiasm I rocked up at The Artist Tree Cafe and Creative Arts Space in Cleveland half an hour early to partake in lunch and a coffee.

Elizabeth arrived soon after so we got down to the serious business of knitting and crocheting ready for next Saturday’s Cleveland BUZZ which involves street art and performances. We were also joined by Tricia Dobson, the organiser of the event and a dear friend of mine who is a prolific writer and blogger, Janet. Janet’s blog is Redland City Living and showcases some of Redland’s best spots to visit.

The Artist Tree is a fantastic venue for those who wish to nurture their creative side or simply join friends for yummy food, good coffee and a lovely relaxing atmosphere. There are art pieces on show and for sale and maybe a drama group on site….a perfect place for a group of knitters to congregate.

Here’s a sample of some of the pieces that Elizabeth has stitched together.

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So colourful!

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I love all the different textures and shapes. That’s the fun part of yarn bombing….doing whatever you feel like, in whatever size and with whatever colour. It’s freeform knitting and crocheting at its best. Here’s some embellishments made by Janet and Tricia.

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That’s how I spent most of today. Hope your day was full of crafty fun as well. Until next time….

Melanie