Wishlist Wednesday: And a Crafty New Year

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Full disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links. When you make a purchase on Amazon after using the links in this post, Roxy and I get a little kickback, helping us keep the website running.
So, Christmas has been and gone for another year. I hope you got lucky and found everything under your tree that you asked for! Maybe you got a little money for Christmas but you’re not sure what to spend it on? Don’t worry, I’ve got some ideas for the crafters out there to lighten your purse – whether you’re looking for a big budget item or just a little treat! Just read on below.

1. Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine (Affiliate)

I’ve talked about my desire for a Cricut before, and that desire hasn’t waned. If anything, when I spotted the new colours it’s available in, my need for it has grown. I have a huge thing for mint green, so I really had to restrain myself when this beauty popped up in my Black Friday deals.
Beyond appearance, this equipment is a workhorse. Gone are the days when your cutting is restricted to how well you can hand cut or which die-cuts you own. With a Cricut Explore Air 2, your imagination is very much your limit. It’s not just for cutting either – attachments mean you can also get it to draw or write for you. Just think about it – calligraphy style writing without the hand cramp? That’s the dream! The only thing that’s holding me back is that price tag – I feel like I’d need to be doing a lot more papercraft than I currently do, but fingers crossed for the future!

2. Big Shot Plus Starter Kit (Affiliate)

A Big Shot Plus was my first die-cutter, and honestly, I would still be using if it wasn’t so big! When I moved into my tiny studio, the Big Shot went to my sister and I took my Cut’n’Boss. But the Big Shot, in my view, was a much more reliable piece of kit. At most, I would put things through twice to get a clean cut. The system is simple, with pictures on the plates to help if you forget the order. The larger size (compared to the original) means you can cut bigger dies (duh!), but it also copes well with smaller more intricate dies.
The only drawback is that it is hand operated (an electronic version is available), so this needs to be considered for those with bad wrists like me! However, I only found it to be a big problem with high GSM Card. All in all, it’s perfect for a die cutting starter, especially if you go for the starter kit. When I first bought it, I used the starter kit contents to make a series of Easter boxes for my family, which out having to use anything else from my stash.

3.KnitPro Symdonie Rose Interchangeable Needle Set (Affiliate)

This set of circular needles was top of my Christmas list a couple of years ago, and since receiving it I haven’t used anything else (even for non-circular projects!) The needles themselves are a gorgeous mahogany colour, with rose gold-coloured metal for the attachments.  The kit comes with a needle gauge (for when the numbers inevitably rub off) and a range of needles and connecting cables. They are the perfect size to sit in your hands, and I’ve found using circular needles like these for all my knitting helps support the weight on my wrists better, leading to less pain. Like other wooden needles, I’ve found them easy to knit with, not too slippy and not too sticky for most yarns. The ends are sharp and stay sharp.
 There are a couple of things to be aware of before purchasing. The connections may gradually unscrew as you are knitting, but as long as you keep an eye on them and screw them back up as you go, you shouldn’t have many problems. I have also had one needle break at the part where the wood connects to the metal. However, I had no problem purchasing needles to replace it, and it was one that I had used a lot! Overall, I would absolutely recommend these to any knitters out there!
When I first saw gold plated needles recommended for cross stitch, I brushed it off as just silly. How much difference could a bit of gold plating really make?
The answer is a lot. I picked some up on a whim a year ago and haven’t looked back since. It glides through the material, making even the little movement of making a stitch feel seamless. They also feel a lot easier to thread than the standard needles you get.
They also look really fancy.
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Experience it for yourself and pick up a pack today. You honestly won’t regret it.
And that’s it for the last Wishlist Wednesday of 2017! Be sure to check back in 2018 for more recommendations and to find out what else is on my wishlist – this is just the start! And in the meantime, comment below with what’s on your list!
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Bank Holiday Project Monday: ‘Reyna’ Knitted Shawl

What did you do this Bank Holiday?

This time last year, a Bank Holiday meant another day at work for a little bit more pay. Now I’m  working and studying, they are a welcome reprise in an otherwise busy life. I have been looking forward to this for several weeks, literally counting down the days until it came along – since I spent my Easter bank holidays travelling to and from my parents!

Taking full advantage of this rest day, I spent my morning deep cleaning my flat – something that has needed to be done for quite some time! I then took Roxy for a little walk and got some work done, before diving back into one of my craft projects that has been pushed to the side for a while.

I’ve been working on this shawl since before Christmas, hoping that it would be done for the cold winter – and obviously failed! The pattern is by Noora Laivola and I found it over on Ravelry. (If you’re not familiar with Ravelry but love knitting and/or crochet, you need to check it out!) I’m using some gorgeous yarn from Sirdar (Sylvan, Broadleaf Colourway) that I fell in love with when I saw it. However, I failed to take into account the texture of this yarn’s impact on the outcome. As the yarn varies in width, some holes have come out bigger than others, and it’s looking a bit weird. I really love the colours though, so I’m willing to overlook the problems with it. It’s definitely taught me a lesson to remember in the future though.

How about you? How did you spend your bank holiday? Or for those across the seas, what would you do if you had a day off work right now? Join the conversation below!

Project Monday: Weasley Jumpers

I have just returned from the Warner Brothers Studio Tour for a third time, and it remains a truly magical experience (pardon the pun.) I would go and look at the paper props everyday if I could. Sneaking in just after the end of 2016, it was the perfect end to my most Harry Potter filled year since the release of the last film. There was Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which excited me mostly because of the new details revealed about the Wizarding World, and there’s nothing I love more than world building. However, the biggest Harry Potter event of my year took place a month prior, and it was one we’d been waiting for for 366 days.

Harry Potter And The Cursed Child

Yup, last October was finally our time to see Harry Potter’s first (official) outing on stage. (No spoilers here, I promise.) Working in theatre means it’s obviously a huge passion of mine. I’ve seen quite a few plays, good and bad, over the years. Cursed Child definitely landed on the  good side, despite the plot being lacking. It was redeemed by some outstanding staging and technical effects. The whole performance was perfectly choreographed to an amazing soundtrack (when will we be able to listen to this at home?) Most of all, it wasn’t just a play, it was an experience that took over the entire theatre.

Of course, a huge part of the Harry Potter experience has always been the fans, and they did not disappoint this time around either. I have never been in an audience which collectively, audibly gasped before. Best of all, a majority of the audience was dressed up, including my family.

The Mission: 6 Weasley Jumpers in 366 Days

“366 days to make six Weasley Jumpers, that’s totally doable, right?”

Needless to say, it wasn’t completely doable. The Weasley Jumpers took a who family effort, right up to the beginning of the show. It was a little crazy, but we were glad to have achieved something together. It isn’t perfect as it’s my first handmade jumper, but I love it more than anything, and the feeling of accomplishment cannot be replaced. We’re talking telling everyone around me that I knitted it myself level here. You’ve got to make your pride known!

If you want to have a go at making your own, I used this pattern from Canadian Living; super simple, including different sizes. I used Hayfield Bonus Aran Yarn in Green Heather, and some standard felt for the letter.

Now I have achieved this, I can’t wait to branch out and try a more difficult jumper!