Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Nayu's Feature Post #1: Crochet/designer for Purple Creative, Lizzie Francis!

Lizzie beavering away in the Purple's meeting room with Phil Joyce of Purple Creative

Today’s post is all about an incredible crocheter/designer, Lizzie Francis of Purple Creative. While I’m not a Christmas-y blogger in any way shape of form (I actively avoid blog posts on it, along with Halloween and Easter), I’d previously been emailed by the publicist involved, Natalie, so I knew Lizzie was something special for Natalie to ask me to chat about. Rather than a question and answer post, or Lizzie chatting about the incredible project, I'm responding to the information I've been sent about her.

I totally agree that Lizzie is amazing, sinceshe spent most of December surrounded by wool, creating every single request that came in via Twitter, all fitted in around her day job. …although Lizzie made a couple of Christmassy items for the knitivity, most were actually not related to Christmas, which included a Star Wars set, minions, a flamingo, a shark, an elephant, a dragon, a sausage dog, Eeyore, and a pizza. So quite a variety!” 
 A variety indeed! I was impressed that she did so much in the month around her work schedule – that’s impressive. Star Wars & the nativity themed items may get a lot of attention, but  the highlight of her work for me had to be Eeyore. 
"It's not much of a tail, but I'm kind of attached to it" (Eeyore says something like this)

Who doesn’t adore the gloomy donkey who can be realistic in his life observations? 
I can't be killed!

The cactus made me smile, not just because they are incredible plants but because I’ve managed to kill one in the past – it shrivelled up and then imploded in a gooey substance. 
Jaws time! (Cue high pitched scream)
The shark is fun too as I’ve a shark loving friend!

The response to the campaign generally was pretty amazing, as it got lots of love from the knitting and crochet community and also by the ad industry mags, one of whom put it in their list of favourite Christmas activity. 
Knitivity complete!

Lizzie is an avid knitter, who's been knitting since the age of five, with the help of her nannie, who taught her using small balls of wall and some plastic drink stirrers, which were sanded into points. Each one was a different colour to make it a little bit easier for Lizzie to learn.
Since I’m a recent crochet newbie, I love how Lizzie learnt to knit. It reminds me of when I was taught by my mother and grandmother, although I can’t recall who taught me and how. I’m fairly sure there weren’t coloured drink stirrers involved! It’s interesting that Lizzie was a knitter and then a crocheter, as a lot of people who crochet that  hear about have been doing it since they were little.

Purple Knitivity key facts
  • Lizzie started crocheting for the Purple Knitivity on the 1st December and finished on 23rd December
  • 30 characters were made in total 30 in less than 24 days in between work? Lizzie is a legend! I know how long it takes to make small items of crochet, let alone figures with faces!
  • Purple raised £1050, which was donated to Great Ormond Street Hospital  That’s brilliant! I wholeheartedly recommend donating to GOSH, especially as I was a patient all of my childhood – it was sad when I had to go to the adult hospital, although I’m only ever an out-patient these days. They do tremendous work and provide support for the more unusual medical conditions, making the stay in hospital fun.
  • Lizzie spent 140 hours crocheting for the knitivity – which doesn’t include falling asleep counting stitches instead of sheep! I’m wondering whether Lizzie watched shows and listened to audiobooks/the radio while she got busy with yarn, or if she just relaxed in silence. However she occupied her crochet time, the amount of time she spent on it is a bit mind boggling. 
  • There were knitting needles, crochet hooks, big bags of wool and stuffing across her desk and Purple’s meeting room for the entire month of December, which were hurriedly cleared away every time a client came into the office
Lizzie crocheting at her desk

  • Heehee! This made me giggle. It so wouldn’t have been possible in my previous job. Now I’m self-employed while I don’t have to clear my crochet for a client, I do have to make sure my lap is clear for my cat, who will throw a strop over anything. I wonder if Lizzie has a pet?
  • Lizzie was busy crocheting at any given moment, including her commute to work. Crocheting on the bus, at rush hour, was a low point! Really? I can appreciate it isn’t an ideal situation, but crochet is so portable, and always cheers me up that I can’t see it as a negative. It’s a great way to promote it too!
  • 10-15 balls of wool were used to create the Purple Knitivity. This equalled around 6,330 metres of wool For the curious who love Google, while I didn’t have the patience to figure out where you could go for 6,330 metres I did discover that 6330 is a postcode in Western Australia! That’s your random fact of the day covered. J  
  • Lizzie created an entire Star Wars set of characters, which was asked for by Purple's Head of Digital Phil Joyce, and was finished to tie into the release date of the film, and took Lizzie about 40 hours That sounds quite an honour, I’m sure Lizzie had fun doing those figures!

About Lizzie Francis
Lizzie started knitting squares that were sewed together to create cushion covers. She then progressed on to toys and clothes for her teddies. I have to smile because while I didn’t make cushion covers, I did knit squares into a sleeping mat for my favourite teddy (I proudly still have the teddy and the mat!)  

And at the age of 11, Lizzie made her first jumper, to receive a Girl Guides badge. I was a Brownie, and I honestly can’t remember if I used my craft skills for a badge, so go Lizzie! I've included an old and new verison of the craft badge!

She then stopped knitting until she finished school and university, before starting to receive requests again from friends and family last year. I too had a break in craft, so can understand the continued delight of taking up an old pastime which has its own bank of memories. Since then, she hasn't stopped, and has had a couple of things on the go at once. Who doesn’t???! I don’t know anyone who just has 1 project in progress. Don’t ask how many I have – I know it’s under double digits!  

Her dad always makes requests by choosing items from Lizzie's knitting books, so he has a growing collection that includes iguanas, dinosaurs, foxes and elephants. I so approve of foxes – they are cute creatures! I’ve yet to knit an animal, and Lizzie has me feeling inspired to think about making my first Hello Kitty.  
I've got this cute book!

Now Lizzie regularly attends three knitting clubs, including Knaughty Knitters, Knitter's Anonymous and Wooly Bunch, and is currently knitting a 52 piece animal Noah's ark. Wow! I’m looking forward to see the ark which I’m sure will be superb!  Glad Lizzie’s got more projects already.

As you can see from these highlights, Lizzie is a talented, fun crocheter, always busy with yarn. I hope she’s inspired you to get out your needles and hooks, even if it is just to poke whoever deals with yarn in your life (me included)!

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Nayu's Craft Time #101 Inspiring blooms

One of my gorgeous flowers!
This morning as part of sorting stuff in my room that has piled up due to weather related illness (for lack of a better word) and recovering from the wonderful pain medication ketamine I sorted my crochet project bags. These are bags which have various projects in, although lately other yarn has got into it (with some tangles, which took time to sort). I effectively cut and threw away the worst offending 'nests', as there are limits to how much patience I have for detanglement. It helped remind me of which projects I'm doing next which is useful and fun to look forward to. Here's a great example of sorted, funky coloured yarn in baskets over on Attic 24, a fun crochet blog by Lucy which I read semi-regularly. 
Looking at these makes me want more colourful yarn! I can buy some only once I've finished some more projects.
I genuinely didn't think to take photos of each project bag before putting them away, and they don't look anything special where they are so I haven't taken any. I didn't want to have a post without something pretty of mine, so I thought I'd show you some of my flowers! 

Since it was dusk to get a better picture I put them on the floor. I've had all of these over a year now, I think.
I'm amazed that these 3 plants have all reflowered, only because my watering habits are sporadic so my poor plants can suffer a bit before I give them water. Go hardy plants!  
Some of the purple flowering plant, which a family member gave me. The bookshelf in the background is a fraction of the books I have - happy sigh!
 I'm  not sure what type of flowers I have - I know the one below and the one at the top of this post are both from M&S - I probaby need to repot them, or at least remove the part of the plant which hasn't reflowered (it sprouted and this part is a new one! Clever plant). I like them because they are a bit of nature in my room, and the colours both cheer me up and make me think of projects to use them in.
Tomorrow I am out visiting friends so not sure if there will be a post, so I aim to be back here at the weekend!

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Nayu's Project Progress #15 Friend blanket complete!

There will be better photos soon, but thought you'd like to have a glimpse at the cotton crochet blanket I finished for a friend yesterday! Lots of purple and cream to keep her smiling. Hoping to finish another blanket today, one that you'll be able to buy very soon. Still not enjoying the cold weather, but managing as best I can. I promise I'm taking it easy!

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Nayu's Craft Time #100 Away with the fairies!

Had a much needed dose of ketamine for my chronic pain today, so am awol for a few days while I recover from the effects which now make me super tired. Hoping my cat will join me resting in my room! Will be too tired to do any craft for at least a day, I think, so sticking with anime & probably some human drama too (& my favourite shows Winx (who are fairies) & Aikatsu!)

Friday, 15 January 2016

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Nayu's Thought of the Day #1

My positive today of travelling to London for my hospital appointment is the yummy chocolate cooler from Costa which I get before taking the train home ^o^ 

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Nayu's Project Progress #14 Alphabet complete!

Busy working on this baby sampler!
Afternoon all! I hope you're having a good week. I'm relaxing lots because of the adverse effects cold weather has on my misbehaving body, and as you can see below I have finally completed the alphabet for this sampler! 
I'm now working on the animals, starting at the top and working my way down colour by colour. Here's a close up on the work I've done for the bear on the A!
You can see the outline of her crouching down!
I love sewing, minus when I have a clumsy session and keep pricking myself. It's a good job I'm not Sleeping Beauty! 
She sees the spindle, pricks her finger, and falls asleep for a long time.

Since I've got my routine annual specialist appointment in London tomorrow, there will be a picture or quote up rather than a full post both tomorrow and Friday. Hopefully I'll be recovered enough on Saturday to share the latest project progress with you. Until then...

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Nayu's Craft Time #99 Truffle Time!

Guess what I've done today!
Those of you who are regular readers will know what this picture means. I'm making truffles! I truly wish someone would invent teleportation as I'd love to share how they taste with you. Not that I know yet, as the ones I've made today are still setting. 

Today I'm trialing a new type of truffles - yes, I know you'd like to taste them, but until that teleporter arrives on my doorstep you'll just have to try them out yourself. Recipe is here, thanks to Lindt. I'm using my normal method, making the truffle core (the previous recipe), then once cool cutting the core into pieces, dipping them into the same kind of chocolate and adding a decoration which look like this: 
My cute butterfly chocolate truffles!
My new version, well, it's something I thought of in December but due to being ill and busy then I couldn't try it until now. I've put a layer of melted chocolate at the bottom of the square containers which I use to set the truffle mix. I put it in the fridge for around 30 minutes, until it was set a bit. I took it out, made the truffle core and put it on top of the melted chocolate, then immediately after (no setting) I added another layer of melted chocolate. 
Yum yum!
I'm hoping that all 3 layers will stick together to create a truffle that won't melt over fingers as soon as it's picked up. Obviously no one goes around holding a truffle in their hand for minutes on end - it's usually a few seconds in the fingers before being eaten! However, if this works, and if I can cut them into small pieces easily I may be able to mass produce truffles! This would be perfect for a family event in March. 

Dipping truffles takes an awful lot of both time and energy for me. I'd love to make enough by March, but with writing and blogging, as well as allowing for a lot of rest time with the colder weather (see previous post for why it makes me ill), I don't have enough time to guarantee enough truffles. This new method is much quicker which is why if it works I'll be making a lot of people eat these sweet treats. 

I plan on making chocolate fudge for the event, as that's so easy for me to do. You'll have to find out tomorrow (or Tuesday if I don't have a good day) whether my experiment worked! Best bit about truffle making is there's always a bit of cream and chocolate left over to make a sumptious hot chocolate (that'll be after I've helped with the dishes tonight) 
This is my favourite kind of drink!
Yesterday I was super tired all day after a few hours of being awake. While I got in 2 hours of writing, I kind of didn't get heaps of craft done. I detangled some yarn, and made a pair of dishcloths, which I know is something but not as much as I can do. Still, it is better than nothing, as is this post! Have a great rest of the weekend! 

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Nayu's Craft Time #98 Flower Power, Hibernation Dreams, & a Mystery Leak

My body thinks I live here!
Afternoon everyone! Sorry for not posting yesterday, I had an impromptu day of not doing much (reading for 6 hours and then anime) because it was below 5C which my body doesn't cope well with. I now appreciate how mild a winter we've been having here in the south of England - please come back! My body knows the temperature and makes me feel all without a germ in sight, even though I obviously wrap up warm. Oh well! Taking it easy helps, so I'm doing everything a bit slower at the moment. 

I thought youd like to see the pretty crochet flowers I'm working on for a project. I need about 13 more - as you can see from the pile I've made about 20 already. 
Well, you probably can't see there's twenty there. It's not a nice looking pile because I couldn't be bothered to layer each flower neatly for a photo shoot, which would have taken several minutes and slightly more patience than I have for asthetics (aka making things look pretty). 

I am not a cute hibernating doormouse
This morning I sorted out a few bits and took a whole load of card to be recyled. That was quite an effort and totally against my current and almost constant desire to hibernate until spring.

This water issue isn't rain
We currently have a mystery boiler leak - I discovered my treat jar, which is currently full, had water all over it. Family think it might just be due to the horrendous rain, but we'll get it checked out by our trusty boiler guy soon, and in the meantime pray it's nothing serious. 

Time for me to get back to flower making! I'm hoping that the wind which previously stopped me finishing Holby City on BBC iPlayer will now behave and let me finish the show so I can text a friend with my opinion on it. I was most annoyed when it refused to work before lunch! 
Wind is good for windmills, not so much my TV catch up!

Monday, 4 January 2016

Nayu's Craft Time #97 Shopping Overload, Freezer Organising, & Amusing Cat Moment

Not my bag, but I do use my own totes. I do like the brown bags they have in the US though!
Happy Monday! It's been a busy few days for me, which has meant less craft but I intend to do some tonight. I'm all shopped out. Yesterday was grocery shopping, managing to pick up a few bargains and a few presents. I only physically shop for groceries at a supermarket, rather than in town, as it's too tiring for me, so any bargains are a bonus. 

The other type of shopping happened too!
That's why I spent a good 4 hours this morning doing an annual clothes and bed linen shop. Its tiring in its own way! It was annoying when I went to pay for one website, only to discover since I'd spent too long on the other website without activity on the first, the few items in my basket had disappeared. Grrr! Thankfully I was able to find what I wanted fairly easily. 

Got these cute bunny socks! (If you want them M&S sells them)
I had to reign in my passion for socks a little bit, others I'd have ended up with way too many! They were so cute, so I ditched nearly all the single pair socks which were a similar price to the multipacks, as they aren't cost effective. 
I know they're upside down like the bunnies but aren't these hedgehog socks cute!!!! I wear odd socks, so can wear & admire them twice a week ^o^

There wasn't an ice issue anywhere, as the freezers involved are relatively new. I have 3 drawers in the two upright family freezers that are in the garage. I'd love more for all the treats I make, but for now simply make do with that I have.
This afternoon I put on on thick clothes because I sorted my 3 freezer drawers! I've wanted to sort them for a while now but simply haven't had time or energy to fit it in my schedule. After buying a few packs of bagels and speciality rolls, I needed to sort them out as I had no room for them. 

I took everything out, cleaned the drawers, then sorted the food into sections. I threw out anything I knew was over 1 year old, or looked suspicious. I finally put all my truffles, fudge and scrap bits of chocolate & truffles in one place with my favourite frozen mixed berries and plain blueberries (and the incredible new to me Ben and Jerry's Peanut Butter Cookie Core icecream which is supremely peanutty & was bought yesterday!) 
I adore the core range!!!

One drawer has veg in, as I have a lot of veg which has been separated and frozen for ease of use into handy portions. I really must not buy veg for the next few weeks! For lack of more space I shoved in cheese (I discovered some blue cheese I'd unearthed) in the veg section too. 
I got some granery multi-seed bagels, as well as my favourite, plain white sesame bagels! They are one food which I can make but prefer shop bought (save me the energy of making them, which involves more effort than simple rolls do)
The 3rd drawer has meals already portioned out, most are already cooked too, as well as the bagels. I'm well stocked up if we have snow soon! Which I hope for, but we haven't had it for a few years so who knows. 

The mouse is similar to this one.

Last bit of info for the day is what happened when my family bought my cat a present today. It's a motorised mouse which can move when touched, as well as move on it's own for a bit too. My cat was curious as it went round the kitchen, got close, and then ran away! Tried to convince her it's not going to hurt her. Maybe she just needs time to get used to it - it does make a buzzing noise when its moving. Was hilarious and I nearly spat out my drink! 

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Nayu's Project Progress #13 Alphabet fun and playing with cats

Tea time! Mine's herbal, usually pepperment and nettle, chamomile and spearmint, or a fruit tea if I want something sweet.
I can't show you details, but yesterday's secret crochet work gave this blanket the pizazz (made up word) it needed to make it shine. It's going to be a while yet as it's fiddly, but I you'll love how cute it looks! 

What I can show you is the alphabet baby sampler I'm working on. First here's an earlier progress pic: 
I'd thought I'd need to wait sew a few creatures before finishing some of the letters, but as you can see in the next pic I'm close to finishing them all without a creature in sight! (yet)
I've done M and started R since this pic got taken, and hope to have done the entire alphabet for when I update you on this project.

I've also been creative in the relaxation department - here's a super cute cat jigsaw puzzle a friend gave me. 
Part way through the puzzle - it's on a shawl to reduce the noise of the jigsaw pieces as I sorted and fitted them together - family were watching TV while I worked on it.
All complete!
It's hand crafted, and as you can see has what are called 'whimsey' pieces which are the usual shape, but specific ones. 
So cute!
In this case I have 2 cats, a snowflake, and an xmas tree! I hope to be able to get more of these types of jigsaws in the future as they are fun. 

I hope whatever hobbies you enjoy that you've fitted them in over the festive season! Relaxation is important for our wellbeing ^o^