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Monday, December 11, 2017

A weekend of teaching and knitting

I was away for a lovely teaching trip this weekend. On Friday I got an early train up to Portsmouth. I needed a travel project so I cast on for a new design. I made quite good progress over the weekend. In the photo below is an essential oil blend I made for the trip which smells delicious. I'm using it as a perfume at the moment. It's a blend of White Fir, Balance, Cheer, Grapefruit and Spearmint essential oils mixed with fractionated coconut oil in a roller top bottle. It smells divine and is uplifting and calming.

I spent Friday afternoon shopping at the Gunwharf designer retail outlet. Lots of lovely shop. Most of them were a bit too pricey but I enjoyed looking around. There were some lovely Christmas decorations there too.

The Gunwharf is on Portsmouth historic seafront. It was another very cold, sunny day in Portsmouth, just like when we were there two weeks ago (although even colder this time).

On Saturday I taught Fair Isle Knitting and Steeking at Handmade Studios. If you live within driving distance (or you can get there by train - the Rowlands Castle train station is just around the corner from the shop) it's well worth visiting this lovely shop. Linda, who owns Handmade Studios, has a lovely range of yarns including some indie yarns I've not heard of before. She has one or two new indie dyers every month. I nearly got tempted to buy some yarn but I managed to resist this time. I spend too much time in yarn shops to give in to temptation every time.

A lovely group of ladies joined me on Saturday. Several had been on my previous classes at Handmade Studios this autumn. I'll be back there for more workshops next year. Watch this space for news soon!

I came home very late on Saturday evening so spent yesterday recovering. I mainly spent the day knitting and watching Netflix. I decided to finish this shawl which has been on hold for too long. As I'm writing this I only have the cast off left to do.

I've got some great news to share with you. On 16, 17 and 18 February 2018, I'll be at Unravel in Farnham, Surrey. I'm really excited about taking part in Unravel again and I've already started planning a couple of new patterns and other goodies for you.

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Friday, December 08, 2017

Tattysquawk shawl pins

Are you looking for a Christmas present for a knitter?  Or a treat for yourself? 

If you knit shawls, you need a shawl pin and the best ones are hand-made by Tattysquawk in Cornwall. 

These aluminium shawl pins are very lightweight with no sharp edges.

Tattysquawk shawl pins are perfect for all knitwear but especially lace shawls.

I have a mall collection available here.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Essential Oils - Natural Cleaning

I've never really thought much about the cleaning products I use in my home. I am not someone who disinfects every surface, nor is my home spotless at all times but earlier this year I was thinking about how much my Hypothyroidism affects me and every year I seem to develop more symptoms, despite being on the correct medication. I was wondering if changing some of the products I use and what I eat would make me feel better. 

Please note that I don't want the info in this blog post to scare you. Do your research and then decide what's best for your family. There is no need to chuck out all your cleaning products immediately but it's better, for your budget, to replace them as you run out.

When I joined DoTerra I started seeing posts about how toxic a lot household cleaners are and how they include toxic chemicals and hormone disrupters. Just search online for 'Are cleaning products toxic?' and you'll find lots of websites and I've listed a few below. Do your own reading and research and make up your own mind. I've always tried to have a balanced view on these issues but I am wondering if these products are as safe as we think they are. I've always assumed that products sold for use in the home are safe to use. Everything we spray around us or on us is absorbed into our bodies and are these cleaning products as safe as we think they are? And how much damage do they do to the environment.

Here are a few websites I found: 

I decided to try some natural cleaning products but I waited until my current cleaners ran out. So last month I got the DoTerra On Guard Cleaner Concentrate. For general surface cleaning, which I use in my kitchen, floors and for dusting, I use two table spoons in a 500ml spray bottle. It's best to use a glass bottle.

I am not houseproud and my house is never as clean as it should be. I severely dislike cleaning my hob and it can get really filthy and grimy before I tackle it. I'm slightly embarrassed to share this photo but it's rare that my hob gets quite that disgusting. I hadn't cleaned it for about a week and Emily was home for the weekend and had cooked the night before and she always make a mess.

With my old kitchen cleaner I'd spray it on, leave it for a few minutes, wipe it off, then spray it again and I sometimes had to spray the hob three or four times and use quite a bit of effort to get stuff off. With the On Guard cleaner I sprayed it on, left it for a couple of minutes then wiped it off with a paper towel to get rid off the grease and left over food. I then sprayed it again and wiped it with a damp cloth and it was clean. No scrubbing or spraying extra times on stubborn areas. I've used this cleaner daily in my kitchen since and if there are any food stains from the night before I haven't wiped up, I just spray and wipe and it comes right off. I'm REALLY impressed with the power of this cleaner. It's way better than any regular kitchen cleaner I've ever used and I've tried all the big brands. And I know that this is safe for me to breathe in and get on my skin. 

The spray bottle in this photo is probably about 200ml.

The On Guard cleaner comes in a 355ml bottle and you use two table spoons per 500ml for multi purpose cleaning and three table spoons for bathrooms.So a bottle will last a long, long time. The Cleaner Concentrate costs £13.20 incl VAT if you have a DoTerra membership. (If you don't have an account, I'll talk about how you can get one at the end of the post). You can buy it retail but it makes sense to get an account, but if you wish to buy it retail, it's £17.60 incl VAT (please note prices on the website are excluding VAT).

This is what DoTerra says about the On Guard Cleaner Concentrate: 'dōTERRA On Guard Cleaner Concentrate is designed to be the ideal natural cleaner. It is fortified with the proprietary dōTERRA On Guard Protective Blend of Wild Orange, Clove, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, and Rosemary CPTG® essential oils, which provide natural protection against certain environmental factors while elevating the overall cleaning capability. This powerful essential oil blend is combined with plant-based derivatives that provide a non-toxic and biodegradable way to clean and eliminate odors, so it is safe for loved ones as well as the environment. The multi-purpose capabilities of dōTERRA On Guard Cleaner Concentrate make it perfect to expertly clean hard surfaces in the kitchen, bathroom, or any room, leaving behind a clean and invigorating scent.'

Last week I got the On Guard Foaming Hand Wash. You can buy this in a starter pack with two dispensers. This doesn't need to be diluted but many people do dilute it to make it go further. One bottle is more than enough for two dispensers. I diluted mine slightly. I filled up the dispensers 3/4 full then topped up with water. You can buy the Foaming Hand Wash separately and you can buy the dispensers separately.

This is what DoTerra says about the Foaming Handwash: 'Gentle cleansers and emollients clean and soften hands throughout the day without drying or irritating sensitive skin. doTERRA On Guard Foaming Hand Wash is pH balanced to protect the delicate moisture barriers of the skin. The spice and citrus aromas of doTERRA On Guard invigorate the senses during and after use. The power of doTERRA On Guard essential oils enhances the cleansing function to take it to a new level and set it apart from other commercially branded products.'

Again, the best way to buy this product is to get a membership. You can then get the Foaming Handwash and two dispensers pack for £17.40 incl VAT. It retails for  £23.30 incl VAT.

The next product I want to try is the On Guard Laundry Detergent. You use half a cap for each wash and this bottle promised 64 loads. It can also be used to spot treat stains. 

This is what DoTerra says: 'This small bottle packs a punch with 10 mL of doTERRA On Guard essential oil and the ability to do up to 64 loads of laundry! It is color safe for washable fabrics at all temperatures and is free of synthetic fragrances, dyes, and toxins, which makes it a safe choice for your family as well as the environment'.
The On Guard Laundry Detergent retails at £38.80 incl VAT but if you're a member you can get it for £29.10. That's 45p per load. 

You can see the whole On Guard collection here (I've linked to the US site as it has more info about each product than the European site).

The best way to purchase DoTerra products is to get a wholesale membership. You can purchase an enrollment kit and the enrollment fee is included or pay £24.80 incl VAT (or US $35 if you're in the US) for a year's membership. There are no minimum orders or monthly required orders. You don't have to become a consultant like me. Most DoTerra members are just regular wholesale customers who buys products for their own use. If you would like to discuss how you can earn an extra income from DoTerra, email me on and put 'essential oils' in the subject heading for a no obligation chat about what's involved. 

If you have any questions about any of the products I've talked about in this post, or any other DoTerra products, do not hesitate to contact me on I'm happy to help you.

If you're ready to get started with DoTerra, you can sign up for a wholesale membership here. If you'd like to find out more about what's involved in a wholesale membership, just e-mail me on Please put 'essential oils' in the subject line.

You can read more about why I chose DoTerra and find other blog posts here and like my new Facebook page for daily tips and education.

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essential oils and other natural products.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Blocking - Carnival

This is another installments in my blocking series. This week we'll look at a bit of an unusual shape which is a modified triangle. All the tutorials will be listed on my Tutorials page - scroll down to 'Blocking'.

Today I'm blocking Carnival which is a fun shawlette with an interesting shape and an easy lace pattern which is perfect for that skein of fun, variegated yarn. If you have a 100g/400m skein of sock yarn that you don't know what to do with, then this shawl is perfect! Carnival starts off as a top down triangle. 

You can also watch the video here. 

Please ask any questions you have in the comments below. You can see all the previous Monday Mini Tips and other tutorials on my Tutorials page. 

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Workshop Focus - Royal William Yard, Plymouth

I'm so excited to reveal that I'll be teaching workshops at the fabulous, Grade 1 listed naval yard, Royal William Yard in Plymouth, Devon in 2018. We've got monthly workshops lined up until the summer. I've teamed up with Barbara from Wool Palette to bring you these workshops in the beautiful Ocean Studios venue. Above is Barbara and I at the venue. Look at those leather deck chairs!

We kick off in January with Continental Knitting with Norwegian Purl. This has always been one of my most popular classes. It doesn't matter how experienced you are or what you prefer to knit, everyone can benefit from learning continental knitting. Whether you switch knitting styles completely or just want to be able to alternate how you knit is up to you. Continental knitting is faster and more efficient than most English knitting styles for most knitters. 

I'll be teaching Continental Knitting with Norwegian Purl on Saturday 13 January. Book your space here.

Copyright Let's Knit

On Saturday 3 February I'll be teaching my new class, Top Down Fair Isle Yokes, which will teach you how to knit a fair isle sweater with a circular yoke shaping. This is the easiest way to incorporate a fair isle pattern into your sweater. You'll also learn how to work out all the maths for knitting your own sweater - it's easier than you think. 

Book your space on Top Down Circular Yokes here. 

Copyright Rob Frost

On Saturday 10 March we're doing two half day workshops. In the morning we'll focus on Finishing Techniques such as short row shoulder shaping, three needle cast off, mattress stitch and button holes and in the afternoon, we'll do an introduction to lace knitting. You'll learn how to knit lace stitches and how to read lace charts.

Book your space here. 

You can see the rest of the workshops here. In the summer we'll have a very special weekend treat but I'll share more about that later. 

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Essential Oils - Emotional Aromatherapy

Today I want to talk about how essential oils can benefit your mood and emotional well being! I've just had a conversation with my lovely cleaner. For the last few months I've been diffusing a variety of essential oils while she's here and almost every week she tells me how much she enjoys the aroma and how relaxed and happier she feels when she leaves my house. I can tell you its definitely not cleaning my house that's leaving her happy! 
The oils I diffuse are having a profound effect on her mood! I tend to mainly diffuse uplifting and energising oils as I suffer from tiredness (even after a good night's sleep) and lack of energy due to some of the health issues I suffer from. Many essential oils are beneficial for your mood but DoTerra does a range of oils especially to help with your emotions. 

If you're wondering how essential oils work, then read my Essential Oils 101 post here.

The Emotional Aromatherapy System is a collection of six oils - Motivate, Cheer, Passion, Forgive, Console and Peace - which are designed to make you feel great and stay balanced. I use several of these oils on a daily basis.
Let's go through the oils and how they can help you.

Motivate - the Encouraging Blend is a blend of Peppermint Plant, Clementine Peel, Coriander Seed, Basil Herb, Yuzu Peel, Melissa Leaf, Rosemary Leaf and Vanilla Bean Absolute. This was the first oil I got and was actually the oil that made me decide to join DoTerra. My enroller, Tara, was talking about it on Instagram and I felt that I'd benefit from this oil. Motivate will strengthen belief in yourself and it's great for when you're feeling frustrated at work or just aren't getting anything done at home or at work. Diffuse it or roll it on your feet, back of your neck, pulse points and chest to increase your courage, confidence and motivation. I use this daily when I work and I diffuse it in my office regularly when I'm feeling tired and just want to knit rather than deal with my backlog of e-mails.

  • Apply to the bottom of feet in the morning to jump-start your day. 
  • Diffuse when working on a project at work or school to stay motivated.
  • Apply to pulse points before participating in sporting events or other competitions.

Cheer - the Uplifting Blend is a blend of Wild Orange Peel, Clove Bud, Star Anise Fruit/Seed, Lemon Myrtle Leaf, Nutmeg Kernel, Vanilla Bean Extract, Ginger Rhizome, Cinnamon Bark and Zdravetz Herb. This is another one of my favourite oils and I use it as perfume. I'm always getting compliments on how I smell when I use this oil. I've had compliments from the unlikeliest of people. I used to get a lot of compliments when I wore my old, very expensive perfume (which I've stopped wearing as artificial scents are really bad for you but I'll talk more about that another time) but I get more compliments wearing this. I add a few drops to my body lotion in the morning after my shower when I'm feeling tired and a bit low and also diffuse it regularly. 

I'm prone to low moods especially when I'm tired or in a lot of pain and Cheer is great for making me feel better. Diffuse this oil, put a couple of drops in your hands, rub together and take a few deep breaths or apply to your feet, back of your neck and pulse points to boost your happiness, positivity and encourage a cheerful attitude.

  • Diffuse at home, work, or school to promote a positive, uplifting environment.
  • Apply to a cotton ball and place in car to experience Cheer’s energizing aroma while driving.
  • When feeling down, apply one drop to hands, rub together, and inhale deeply as needed throughout the day.
Passion  - the Renewing Blend is a blend of Cardamom Seed, Cinnamon Bark, Ginger Rhizome, Clove Bud, Sandalwood Wood, Jasmine Flower Absolute, Vanilla Bean Absolute and Damiana Leaf. This was also one of my first oils. I like to diffuse this when I'm working on new design ideas to inspire creativity and passion. If I'm feeling a bit lack-lustre about something I also diffuse this oil and apply it to my pulse points. This oil will rekindle excitement and inspire the willingness to take risks and make new discoveries. I also sometimes wear this as a perfume. Just apply to your pulse points and chest. 

  • Diffuse in the morning to start the day feeling energized and enthusiastic.
  • Apply to pulse points and heart throughout the day to feel inspired and passionate.
  • Diffuse at work to spark creativity, clarity, and wonder.
Forgive - the Renewing Blend is a blend of Spruce Leaf, Bergamot Peel, Juniper Berry Fruit, Myrrh Resin, Arborvitae Wood, Nootka Tree Wood, Thyme Leaf and Citronella Herb. It's perfect for when you're angry with someone or with life in general. Diffuse when your kids are winding you up or having an argument with each other. This oil encourages you to release anger and guilt, move forward feeling relieved and renewed. Anger and unforgiveness can really drag us down and it's important to release it for our own emotional well-being. As a Christian I believe that forgiveness is very important but it's very difficult when someone has deeply hurt you or a loved one. Not forgiving someone is hurting you more than it's hurting them. The other person may not even be aware you're upset and angry with them and the unforgiveness is eating you up inside and can cause long-term emotional problems. 

  • Diffuse when meditating to help release harboring feelings of anger and guilt.
  • Apply to pulse points and heart throughout the day to feel grounded and content.
  • Have Forgive on hand throughout the day to counteract negative emotions that may arise from undesirable situations.
Console - the Comforting Blend is a blend of Frankincense Resin, Patchouli Leaf, Ylang Ylang Flower, Labdanum Stem/Twig, Amyris Bark, Sandalwood Wood, Rose Flower and Osmanthus Flower. Have you suffered a loss? Are you feeling extreme sadness? Console will help you feel more hopeful, comforted and emotionally balanced. I used a lot of this after we lost our dog last month.

  • Diffuse during times of loss to comfort the soul and evoke feelings of hope.
  • Apply over the heart morning and night as a reminder to be patient with healing and to think positive thoughts.
  • Apply one to two drops to a shirt collar or scarf and smell throughout the day to ward off feelings of grief and sadness.
Peace  - the Reassuring Blend is a blend of Vetiver Root, Lavender Flower, Ylang Ylang Flower, Frankincense Resin, Clary Sage Flower, Marjoram Leaf, Labdanum Leaf/Stalk and Spearmint Herb. I only got this oil last month and I love it! It promotes feelings of peace, reassurance and contentment and counteracts anxious and fearful emotions. I've added Peace to my sleep blend and I diffuse it regularly in the evenings to help me wind down.

  • Diffuse at night time to promote a calming environment and restful sleep.
  • When experiencing anxious feelings, apply one drop to hands, rub together, and inhale deeply.
  • Diffuse or inhale before taking a test, presenting to a large group, or in times of worry or distress.
  • To calm an upset or restless child, apply to bottoms of feet.
These oils are available in a kit of 5ml bottles of pure oils which you can diffuse or mix with a carrier oil for topical application. Or if you prefer they come as a Touch kit. The Touch oils come in a roller bottle and are pre-diluted so you can just roll them on your skin. They're perfect for carrying in your bag for use away from home. You can buy both the 5ml oils and the Touch oils separately or as part of a kit.
Good nutrition and getting some fresh air and exercise every day will also do wonders for your emotions and help you feel balanced. We can use these oils to support out bodies but we also need to think about building healthy foundations starting with our diet. It can be difficult to make sure we get all the vitamins, minerals and other things we need from our diet. I've never been into supplements but I've been taking the Long Life Vitality supplements since September and I'm feeling more energetic, I sleep better and my mood is better. I recover quicker after teaching an all day workshop (which leaves me feeling very tired and in more pain). My friend Tara did a webinar on the Life Long Vitality supplements. Watch or listen here. If you are sceptical I encourage you to try these supplements. DoTerra offers a 30 day Monday Back Guarantee. Try them for 30 days and if you don't feel better, simply return the empty pack for a full refund. I ran out of these a couple of weeks ago and I noticed a big difference. I was awake in the night because of pain several times, I was more tired and felt low. Now I'm back on them I feel a lot better.

Do you think you can benefit from thee oils or the Life Long Vitality supplements? Or you may be curious about other essential oils? Contact me on

If you're ready to get started with DoTerra, you can sign up for a membership here. If you'd like to find out more about what's involved in a membership, just e-mail me on for a no obligation chat. Please put 'essential oils' in the subject line.

You can read more about why I chose DoTerra and find other blog posts here and like my new Facebook page for daily tips and education.

Join my e-mail newsletter for inspiration and education about 
essential oils and other natural products.

Monday, November 27, 2017

What a lovely weekend!

We had a lovely weekend away in the Portsmouth area. I was teaching at Handmade Studios on Saturday but Simon & the girls decided to come along so we made a weekend of it. Simon and I drove up to Portsmouth on Friday. We stopped off for a couple of hours in Bournemouth on the way.

Bournemouth Pier and beach

My first two trips to the UK in the 1980s when I was 13 and 16 years old were to Bournemouth. The first time was with a marching band I was a member of and the second time was on a language holiday. I've never been to Bournemouth since but as we were passing by, I thought it'd be fun to stop. We walked on the pier and along the seafront and through the gardens up to the town centre. I do remember the gardens, the sea front and pier very well.

Simon and the girls spent Saturday at the Historic Naval Dock Yard in Portsmouth while I was teaching and they said it was very good! On Sunday I knew I'd be tired so we went to the cinema to see Paddington 2. We wanted to see it as a family and the next time we'll all be together will be the week before Christmas so we thought we'd better take the chance to see it now.

Photos from my workshop on Saturday. There's always a tasty cake at Handmade Studios. 

We also walked around the Gunwharf shopping development and sea front before we left Portsmouth. There are some great shops there and I'm planning to spend the afternoon there on my next trip to the Portsmouth area in two weeks. I'll be teaching at Handmade Studios again - I think the workshop is full but contact the shop if you're interested.

On the way home yesterday afternoon, we drove through the New Forest. We didn't have much time so we just pulled off the main road and parked near a group of wild ponies. It turned out they were very tame and several came up to us.


There were also some smaller ponies that looked like Shetland ponies and the grey ponies got a bit jealous when the little ponies came up to us. We were able to stroke several of them.


I did treat myself when I was at Handmade Studios. Linda has a great range of hand-dyed yarn and I got tempted by two skeins. I may use these in the same project, probably a shawl or I may not. I haven't decided yet.

I also got a bottle of Soak as I've nearly run out.

What did you do this weekend?

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