Posted in My Journey, News & Events, Unravelled, Woolly Wonders

Belated January Wrap Up 2018

Not many people I meet are a fan of January, in fact I know quite a few people who were very glad to see the back of it this year. But besides catching the flu and struggling against wisdom tooth pain that had me wanting to chop my own head off, I had a pretty fantastic January. So I thought today I’d share my January with you all and I’d like to encourage you to do the same in the comments. Go on, show January some love. 💖

I started my AIYSO Temperature CAL.

know I mentioned this in a previous post but I thought this wrap up would be a good way to show you my progress. My blanket has already grown so much and it’s only been a month, it’s going to be huuuuuge!

I started jotting down ideas for a sequel. < /strong><

I don't want to get anybody too excited with this one but, along with the "new year new start" marlakee, I made myself a promise to start working on another novel this year. We're still in the very early stages of ideas right now but definitely something that happened that I thought was worth a mention. ❤️

I received my second delivery of Unravelled. 📦

I am aware that I’m just posting a picture of three cardboard boxes here, but for me this was such an exciting moment. I’m already on my second print of Unravelled!!! Thank you to everyone who’s already got their copies, you’re all a part of making dreams happen.

I received my first piece of hand written fan mail.

There’s just something nostalgically beautiful about hand written letters. Receiving this card really touched my heart. How lovely. ❤️ So far I’ve heard nothing but wonderful feedback about Unravelled. Thank you and please keep that feedback coming!

I was featured in Simply Knitting Magazine! This is another of those pinch me moments. Unravelled continues to offer me some truly amazing opportunities, just like this one. Haven’t got your copy yet? Find it here. (Issue 169)

I took part in the second ever Wolverhampton Literature Festival. And the festival as a whole was a huge success! In fact I am happy to announce that the festival has been awarded funding for next four years! 🎉

I learnt how to C2C crochet. I’m always up for a challenge, especially if it’s for a good cause. Last month I heard the story of a brave little girl called Grace and the amazing guys at littleheartsforgrace who were trying to make a difference. Grace is only three and she’s already undergone open heart surgery… more than once! Friends of the family asked crocheters from around the world if they’d help raise money for the charities that helped this little girl by crocheting hearts themed squares. You can read more about their story here. I instantly wanted to help out and grabbed my hook and wool. One of the patterns was for a C2C heart square and well, I set about teaching myself a new skill with the aid of YouTube! My square may not be perfect by any means, but I really enjoyed doing it and I can’t wait to see what the blankets will look like when all the squares are put together.

Crocheted Face Scrubbies.

January for me is home to a couple of birthdays. So I set myself the challenge of giving my gifts the personal touch and hand making a little something. Online I found the pattern for these cute, eco friendly, face scrubbies. The perfect re-washable alternative to cotton pads. What lady doesn’t love a nice pamper session? I had great fun making these, even if I did break my hook doing that puff stitch! 😂

And that’s a wrap!

– Bxo

Advertisements
Posted in My Journey, Woolly Wonders

Review: TOFT Advent Calendar

Last year I was one of the few lucky people who managed to get their hands on the first ever TOFT Advent Calendar! And well, before we completely get into the swing of 2018, I wanted to fill you all in on how that went. So can we embrace the Christmas spirit (and just pretend like it’s still January) for just a teensy little bit longer whilst I bring you this review? 😇

What is a TOFT Advent Calendar?<<<
he TOFT advent calendar was every crocheters dream. ❤️ Behind each door was an adorable skein of TOFT's signature wool which, when used every day with the accompanying pattern, would create a mystery animal toy. The pattern was broken down into twenty four manageable chunks, which were emailed to me daily from TOFT themselves. This meant that you couldn't skip ahead and spoil the fun and kept the project a surprise for as long as possible. In short, you were given all the materials you needed to crochet everyday on the run up to Christmas, but you didn't have a clue what you were making until Christmas Day. 😂 A festive themed crochet-a-long, pitched at crocheters of all abilities.

Who are TOFT? TOFT are a British wool brand who specialise in luxury yarn. They are based on an alpaca farm on the border of Warwickshire. TOFT are well known for their cute animal patterns, which are designed by founder Kerry Lord, and are known within the brand as “Ed’s Animals”. You can find out more by visiting their website. I’ve been a fan of TOFT for a few years now and I always keep up to date with their new releases. So it was no surprise when I announced to my family I would be taking part in their advent calendar. You may have heard me talk about TOFT in some of my previous posts. Purchasing their kits or visiting their HQ is always a treat for me and this advent calendar was no exception.

First Thoughts: All I remember feeling when I found out about the TOFT advent calendar was excitement. I’d been looking for an advent calendar with a difference that year and TOFT completely fit the bill. In all honesty, I didn’t really think too much about the difficulty of the project, which in hindsight may have been a little silly. But TOFT always give such confidence to novice and beginner crocheters when facing a TOFT project that the thought never crossed my mind. I had a few amigurumis under my belt by this point too, so I felt like I was good to go. I also hazarded a guess that the mystery creature may be something of a festive theme. Like a reindeer or a turkey. The only thing giving me second thoughts was that TOFT told us early on that Gloria, whatever she may be, was an exclusive, never been done before, pattern especially for the advent calendar. And well TOFT had already done a reindeer and turkey pattern. But I thought maybe there was a specific breed…

My Experience: I remember going to bed on November 30th and being so super excited about this project! I’d already packed my project bag with all the essentials and couldn’t wait to get started! The next day I woke up to the pattern already in my inbox and a cute skein of cocoa wool.

Over the first couple of days we made Gloria’s legs. This was all crochet territory I was used to and so I happily got to work on these. I think this was the perfect start to this project as it would have eased beginners in gently and was a nice and easy start for more experienced crocheters.

Next came the body and this is where my crochet learning curve began. The body was made out of three different colours of yarn; cocoa, chestnut and fudge. I’d changed colour during crochet before, but only when making a granny square, so this time was rather different. I figured out how to colour change whilst crocheting in the amigurumi style and how to carry the yarn across as you work you way up the rounds, still colour changing throughout.

However, it was good I took to this new skill so quickly, because straight after the body came Gloria’s tail. The tail in question was stripey and loopy. Never had I attempted a loop stitch before in crochet! However, after watching the video tutorial on TOFT’s website I was soon popping those loops into stitches like nobody’s business.

By the time it got to Gloria’s head, I was prepared. More loops, more colour changes and decreasing! I loved how the head took shape. At this point I was still none the wiser about what animal Gloria was. I know on social media a few people had made a few guesses. If asked, I still would have said she was a Scandinavian Reindeer, like Sven from Frozen. Only the tail was making me doubt myself.

Now, can we just take a second to really, truly appreciate these ears. These ears were probably the biggest crochet hurdle I’ve had to jump since getting my head around how to hold a hook! Colour changes, loops and decreasing something that wasn’t even that big to begin with… but I love them. They are a visual representation of how far I’ve come on my crochet journey and they make me so super proud to look at them. I’m not gonna lie here, the ears started on day nineteen and this was the place I fell behind on my advent calendar. Trying to do all that twiddley crochet and coupe with Christmas in retail, something had to give. So the photographs of this parts progress don’t exist. But I got there in the end and they may not be perfect, but I’m so proud of them.

I think after the stress of those ears, Kerry let us wind down gently with Gloria’s arms. The arms were exactly the same as the legs so these got whipped up in no time at all. (I almost managed to catch up at this point.)

The final couple of days were reserved for putting Gloria together. I always get super nervous at this part and of any project. I always think of it as the “make or break” moment. You’ve worked so hard on something, yet this can still be the moment where it all goes wrong. But to be honest, there wasn’t that much sewing up to be done with Gloria and the same goes for many of Ed’s Animals. The simplicity of their designs in this sense is one of my favourite things about TOFT projects and this is what I ended doing Christmas Day afternoon.

My Gloria’s nose may not be perfect and cutting those loops to make her tufty ears and brows was terrifying but I absolutely love her and I’m so proud of my finished project.

For those of you who haven’t guessed it yet, Gloria turned out to be a Red Panda. I remember googling these early on in the CAL after someone posted this as a guess on the Ed’s Advent Instagram,!but for some unknown reason I didn’t completely believe it until I finished those ears!

Conclusion: Overall, I really enjoyed making Gloria. It tested my skills as a crocheter and it was great to face some new and exciting stitches along the way! I feel it was probably a challenge but also very clever of TOFT to devise a pattern that had both basic but also intricate levels of crochet in order to incorporate something for everyone. So although at times I found Gloria to be a bit of a challenge, she is also a project that I came away feeling immensely proud of.

The only trick I feel TOFT missed was that a Red Panda isn’t very Christmassy considering she came out of an advent calendar. But then Gloria is still sat on my desk as I type this and I suppose a festive themed animal would have been retired with the rest of my Christmas decorations well over a month ago now. So at least this way I get to appreciate Gloria every day of the week!

I really hope after the success of last year’s calendar, TOFT will do another this year. And if they do, I highly recommend you try and get yourself one. But you’ll have to be quick, I know last year very sold out almost instantly!

I hope you enjoyed this review, something a little different for the blog. Be sure to give this post a like if you did and I hope to see you joining in with Ed’s Advent this year, if it goes ahead.

– B xo

Posted in My Journey, News & Events, Woolly Wonders

Simply Knitting Magazine!

I am very excited to announce that Unravelled is featured in this month’s Simply Knitting Magazine!!! 😍😍😍

So, for your chance to WIN an Ultimate Unravelled Kit, as well as find out what they thought of my book, grab yourself a copy today! (Available now at all good newsagents.)P.S: How cute is the free gift? Plus, how adapt for a issue involving Unravelled? ❤️❤️❤️- B xo

Posted in My Journey, Woolly Wonders

Resolutions, Blogversary & Crochet Alongs

Happy New Year everyone and welcome to 2018! 🍾🎉 I hope you all had a lovely New Years Eve. Mine was the perfect cosy night in, spent with my family, drinking prosecco and playing Trivial Pursuit. ❤️

Where do I even start with 2017? I went into last year with the sole goal of making it a year to remember and well, I certainly managed that! 🎉 2017 was a year of a lot of amazing firsts. I had my first author event (and then did another and another and another!) I had my first official radio interview with Jason Forrest. I became a publisher author. ❤️ I signed my first ever autograph. I had a launch party! I designed my first ever knitting pattern. I got to see the joy on other peoples faces when then held a copy of book for the first time. I got to see my Momma get emotional at her dedication. 😘 And I got my first lot of lovely feedback on my story. ❤️

I was actually sad to see 2017 leave. But I’d like to think we shook hands on our departure and I’ve turned to welcome to 2018 with open arms. There’s so much already in the pipeline for this year that I literally cannot wait to start!

So, looking forward to 2018, my resolutions are:

  • Craft more wearables

I feel like my skills in both knitting and crochet have excelled greatly since the start of this journey. However the cuteness of toy making has got the better of me and I really don’t have many things I can wear to show my woolly pride. So this year I aim to change that.

  • Work on a new novel

Last year was all about Unravelled and I loved that. ❤️ But my creative input ended on that manuscript ended a while ago now. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the whirlwind that was publication but I’m starting to miss my laptop and my pen, so this year I’ve made not only a resolution but a promise to myself that I will start work on a new novel this year. (Exciting!!!)

  • Read at least one book a month

This one is a bit of a faux pas from me. 🤭 I did not complete my reading challenge last year in fact… *small voice* I’m still reading Throne of Glass which I started on my holiday last July. 😳 After I got back from that holiday everything just seemed to take off and well my reading took a back seat, but I’m back on it now and this year I aim to read at least twelve books!

  • Finish what you start

This is a biggie for me. As a person I get very excited about everything. So I start things with every intention to finish them but then get distracted by something that comes along and put my current thing down to pick back up at a later date and start the new thing that I’m equally excited about and in that well, the cycle begins. Don’t get me wrong, I do go back to the things that I put down, (the novel I’m still reading, the presents I finished crafting on Christmas Eve!) but it could be months, it could be years in between. Now remember I’m a writer, knitter, crocheter, blogger, and vlogger… This has got to stop.

However just to contradict myself…

I’ve decided to kick off another year of craft by taking part in the AYISO’s Temperature Blanket CAL.

The Association Of Independent Yarn Shop Owners are running their first crochet/ knit along that will run throughout 2018. The idea of the Temperature Blanket is every day you add a row to your blanket in a different colour depending what temperature it is near you. The blanket pattern you do is your choice, the colours you use and your temperature scale are your choice. But together we will share the journey of creating a beautiful unique piece.

I’ve planned to crochet my blanket in granny stripe, with guidance from Attic24’s pattern. I’m using DK wool on a 3.5mm hook and below you can see my chosen colours; pink being the hottest of days and white the coldest. (I made the picture of the white slightly larger so you can see the sparkle.✨)

I’m hoping to post updates across the year to show my blanket’s progress and if any of my lovely readers fancy giving it a go, I’d love to see your progress too! You can find out more about the CAL by joining the Facebook Group or reading Magnolia Tree Crafts’s blog.

And last, but by no means least, January the first is also my blogversary! 🎈And this year I’ve reached the magical three years! My website is something that continues to blossom and grow. It’s one of my favourite hobbies and it makes me so proud to see it evolve and take shape every year. So thank you to all of you for taking the time to be a part of it. ❤️

I’ll leave you now to enjoy the rest of your New Year’s Day because otherwise I feel this blog may go on forever! 😂

Take care and I wish you all health and happiness for 2018!

– B xo

Posted in My Journey, The Bookshelf, Woolly Wonders

Christmas Haul 2017🎄🎁

Hi everyone! I hope this post finds you well, that you all had a lovely Christmas and that you’re now lounging on the sofa, tucking into what’s left of those Christmas choccies. At this point I feel like my Christmas Haul post has become a kind of post-Christmas tradition on my blog. 😂 But I also like to see it as a virtual version of my Christmas thank you letters.

Once again I have been absolutely spoilt by my loved ones (thank you everyone! ❤️) and I had a wonderful, cosy Christmas spent at home with my little family. ❤️ I can’t wait to show you what I got this year and how, thanks to friends and family, I’m ready for the new year ahead!

So let’s get cracking! 🎉 (Cracking, Cracker, Christmas… get it?…. Moving on…)

Crafty Kits & Woolly Supplies Let’s be honest, no haul of mine would be complete without wool! 😂 My passion for crafting has led me to where I am today and I’m so happy that people still want to fuel the habit. ❤️ I’m absolutely loving the variety this year. We have some old favourites there with TOFT and Brittany making an appearance, but I do have to say I am very impressed with Aldi’s So Crafty range. Also that Hygge CAL kit is absolutely lush. 😍 I cannot wait to give these a go! #notspon

Pug Measuring Tape With all that knitting to do I’m very happy I’ll have this little guy to keep me company and tell me how well I’m doing.

Handmade Decoration How sweet is this little gingerbread house decoration? It was handcrafted for me and my family by my boyfriend’s mum and I just love it. Knowing the time and effort that goes into making something like this makes me appreciate it even more.

Books Another staple of a Briony present haul. I’m very excited for Boys Don’t Knit (In Public).

Supplies! Next year I’m hoping to get back to writing and therefore treats and cappuccinos at home are just the perfect gift! However I’ve got to try and resist eating all these over just the next couple of days! (Disclaimer 1: These treats aren’t all mine. Disclaimer 2: But this picture isn’t all of them. 🤫)

Notebook Speaking of getting back into writing, I’m going to need somewhere to jot down my new ideas and I can think of no where more beautiful than this notebook. With it’s silver leaf pages and gorgeous cover it would be a scandal to leave it blank.

Calendar & Diary 2018 is looking to be a busy year for me so these tools to keep me organised and motivated are invaluable.

Tripod I think this mini tripod come vlogging handle is trying to tell me something, don’t you? 😉

Book Blouse Isn’t this blouse just the cutest? I think I’m going to save it for my next event. So excited to finally own a piece of Joanie Clothing. ❤️

Fantastic Beasts Lego Dimensions However, when I’m not doing author things, I’m looking forward to relaxing with mini Newt. I’ve loved what I’ve played of the Lego Dimensions series so far and I think the addition of Fantastic Beasts can only make it more awesome. Thank you to my boyfriend for this one, I knew he’d get me a Niffler for Christmas eventually. 😉

Secret Santa And last but by no means least I need to tell you about my secret santa present. Every year me and my friends take part in a secret santa present swap. We’ve all known each other for years, so the present game is always pretty strong, but this year for me was extra special. In fact, when I opened my gift I very nearly cried! Reading this post you may not have yet noticed the change to the blog. It’s something very small, but to me it meant so very much. For Christmas Santa bought me a domain name… Welcome everyone to brionymarshall.co.uk! ❤️❤️❤️
Thank you
girl very happy. 🎅🏻

– B xo

Posted in My Journey, News & Events, The Bookshelf, Unravelled, Woolly Wonders

The Ultimate Unravelled Kit. ❤️

Today I have a very exciting announcement to make. Something that my publisher and I have been working on for six months now. Something I’ve been immensely excited about since day one. Something that I think you’re all gonna love.

May I introduce to you The Ultimate Unravelled Kit…

This unique knitting kit is for craft lovers and chick-lit readers alike. Fall in love with ‘Unravelled’ on a deeper level; interact with the tale – knit an actual item from the story with our unique Unravelled knitting pattern; let your Unravelled Buddle give your book a cuddle (‘book’, ‘cuddle’ – ‘Buddle’. Get it?!); save your place in the story with your unique Unravelled woolly bookmark, and keep everything together in the attractive tote.

A fantastic gift for someone, or simply a treat for yourself.

(Text courtesy of Hall Good Books.)

The Ultimate Unravelled Kit is available now from HallGoodBooks and I’m so excited about it because…

  • Firstly, I was that involved in the creative process of this bundle that I actually knitted the heart bookmarks and designed the pattern for Adrian’s scarf myself. ❤️
  • The kit’s are limited editions, so there are only so many of them in existence!
  • The red heart Buddles were also designed especially for Unravelled and won’t be available anywhere else.
  • The tote bag can also double as a very fetching and spacious knitting bag.
  • And I just think it’s the perfect gift and what better time of the year for that than Christmas?!

So what are you waiting for? All that excitement for under £30, I think you better let Santa know about this one pretty sharpish! 😉

– B xo