Hedgehogs

I installed a hedgehog box in our front garden about five years ago after we heard hedgehogs mating in the garden, but this summer is the first time anyone has moved in!

Haggis the hedgehog sleeping during the day. Half in/half out of her hedgehog box to protect her babies and keep cool!

We started seeing the mum (Haggis) in mid July and then the babies started getting out and about in late July. They looked about 3 to 4 weeks old at that point and there were at least five of them… but it was quite difficult to keep track of them all whilst counting!

Throughout August, they quite often came out during the day to snuffle around. Maybe baby hedgehogs wake up a lot during the day in the same way that baby humans wake up a lot during the night…? Or maybe the box was just a bit stuffy with six hedgehogs in it and they needed air! Either way – they didn’t stay out for long and didn’t move far from the box.

Baby hoglets - approx 4 weeks old - pootling around the garden

At least three of the hoglets survived to a good healthy size and over the last few weeks they have dispersed and we’ve just had one living in our box. Initially we had a lone hoglet… but I guess they’re still bed-hopping because Haggis has been staying with us this week.

Watching the hedgehogs has been a daily dose of joy in a somewhat challenging year. We’ve been putting out food and water in a sheltered spot every night at dusk, then watching them through the window. Last week I added a ‘food shelter’ (which is basically half a broken pot on it’s side) so that their food doesn’t get soggy in the rain.

The photo below was taken through the window at dusk so a wee bit blury… this is Haggis with one of the hoglets when they were about eight weeks old.

Haggis the hedgehog and Rodney the hoglet (approx 8 weeks old) sharing some breakfast at dusk

Last week we decided to invest in a fancy new hedgehog box with an internal camera. It has ventilation, an internal wall for protection from predators and a rot proof lid… so hopefully someone will fancy hibernating in it and I’ll be able to share some of the footage and hedgehog joy with you!

2019 Sample Sale!

Who’s up for a sample sale?!

At 3pm this afternoon I will be kicking off the sale on my Instagram stories. I will post a picture of each individual item and they will be removed once they’re reserved.

I’ve got some bargain yarn, stash bags and knitted samples so make sure you move quickly if there is something you’re interested in!

The rules are as follows:

  • To reserve an item, send me a message on that Instagram story/item with your email address.
  • I will then email you a PayPal invoice – please pay within an hour.
  • Any items which are reserved but not paid for within the hour will become available again and I will re-post the image in my stories.

Please only contact me via Instagram during the sale as that’s where I will be checking for messages and I don’t want you to miss out!

All prices will include 1st class post to the UK. If you’re outside of the UK, please request a postage estimate when reserving an item.

For those who are less familiar with Instagram – you can access my stories by clicking on my profile picture. You can then send me a message by clicking on ‘send message’ while on the story/item you’re interested in.

See you at 3pm on Instagram!

 

AW19 Capsule Wardrobe

I’ve been having a little look at the new Rowan collections and thinking about how my faves would fit into my capsule wardrobe. I haven’t mentioned capsule wardrobes on here much recently… because I feel like mine has run away from me a bit!

I’m in a rut of feeling like I have nothing to wear (particularly when the weather is extreme) but I don’t have time to “make” the wardrobe I want all in one go.

Having broken my fast fashion shopping habits – I don’t want to slip back into having more clothes than I need, having clothes I don’t wear or buying garments that are unsustainable/unethical on impulse. But it’s really difficult being disciplined!

What I do really need is time. Time to make things and (in the meantime) time to shop sensibly for items I don’t have time to make! I want to spend my money in good places (any tips on UK based ethical and sustainable shops would be most welcome!) and make sure garments will fit into my wardrobe and last for years.

So while I’m planning my dream wardrobe… it’s the perfect time to see where the knitwear gaps are and plan some new projects! Here are a few things from the new Mode at Rowan collection that I think would work beautifully in my capsule wardrobe…

002 Cardigan in Kid Classic by Martin Storey.

014 Sweater in Kid Classic by Georgia Farrell.

016 Sweater in Alpaca Soft DK by Georgia Farrell.

Aren’t they lovely?! Are you working on your winter wardrobe yet?

 

Yarn Shop Day 2019

It’s nearly Yarn Shop Day and there’s a huge number of shops taking part – including Knit Nottingham where I suspect plans might include party food and booze!

I’ll be missing out on the local Yarn Shop Day action though because I’ll be at Black Sheep Wools in Culcheth. It’s been a while since my last visit so I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone – come and say hello!

Rowan @ Black Sheep Wools

There will be lots happening on the day. Emma Varnam will be holding amigurumi drop-in sessions and sharing her top tips on crocheting characters and Cathy Wright will be running spinning wheel demonstrations throughout the day.

I will be running mini finishing classes including shaping, mattress stitch and picking up stitches – followed by a sewing-up drop-in clinic from 2:30pm until 3:30pm… bring your sewing-up queries and form an orderly queue!

Knitting & Roses - Jem Weston blog

For more information on times and what you need to bring along – visit the Black Sheep blog here.

What are your Yarn Shop Day plans?

Blanket Love

I was delighted earlier this month when I received an email from Love Knitting saying that my Hexi Blanket had been nominated for March Pattern of the Month!

Knit this colourful Hexi Blanket by Jem Weston

Thank you to everyone whose been giving the Hexi Blanket love over on Instagram, to everyone who has bought the Hexi pattern and to everyone who has voted on Love Knitting. You make me very happy!

Your vote only counts over on the Love Knitting website… so if you’d like to vote for Hexi just follow these instructions:

  1. Click here to see the nominees.
  2. Scroll down to the Hexi Blanket.
  3. Give it a heart!

You might need to register with Love knitting if you haven’t already.

The Hexi Blanket is one of my favourite patterns. It originates from the Hexi Coasters & Placemats in Cute Comfort Knits and with so many gorgeous shades in the Rowan Summerlite DK palette – I couldn’t resist making the hexis into a blanket!

Cute Comfort Knits by Jem Weston | Hexi Coasters & Placemats

I knitted most of the blanket in the garden last summer during the heatwave. It was so lovely knitting in the dappled shade with the cats while planning our wedding playlist. I feel like I knitted all of the happiness, sunshine and disco tunes into the Hexi Blanket!

I can’t wait until it’s working in the garden weather again!

Guest Blog – Lou’s Upholstery Course

On a recent trip to London, my friend Lou bought some gorgeous fabric to re-upholster this chair at a course she would be attending…

The finished chair looks amazing! Lou has kindly shared a bit about her upholstery course experience below…


Tell us a bit about the course please!

It was a week long course in Stogumber which is in the middle of beautiful countryside in Somerset. George Parsons runs the course, he’s been doing upholstery since the 60’s and is a very talented man- he’s so clever in the way he manipulates the fabric! He also teaches in Threads of Minehead.

Have you done any upholstery before or were you a complete beginner?

I have re-covered the seat of a rocking chair before, it was a very simple job but it definitely gave me a taste for it and made me want to learn how to do it properly. My parents have both had a go at upholstery as well, very successfully and surely if they can do it, I can give it a go!

What made you want to do the course?

George has covered 2 chairs and a sofa for us (plus lots for Mum and Dad) beautifully so when I heard that he ran courses I jumped at the chance. It took over 2 years to finally coincide the dates of a course with me being able to get to Somerset and my parents to be able to look after the kids.

Were you just replacing the cover or did the ‘innards’ need work as well?

I covered a Parker Knoll and the ‘innards’ were in perfect condition and didn’t need any work, so it was just a re-cover.

Everyone was doing different projects though, so although I wasn’t actually replacing the stuffing/ padding I got to see people doing it and I asked everyone a million questions all week! (Probably really irritating but they were all very kind).

Did the fabric you chose work well?

No, it was a terrible choice! I decided to use velvet, and for price purposes I decided to use the thinnest velvet I could which was still ‘ok’ for upholstery.

I had heard that velvet was a pain to work with, but I’ve never even sewn with it so had no idea how hard! It was fine in the end, and George gave me lots of tips, but it definitely wasn’t the best fabric to use for a first attempt, even a thicker velvet would have been better!

Was it hard work?

Not really, but George was always on hand to help when things got tough, like stubborn staples to remove or ‘walking’ velvet on the zip. Ask me that question again when I attempt it alone!

Are you planning to do more at home or would you need the space and tools provided on the course?

I definitely want to do more! I’m going to attempt another Parker Knoll in the hope that it will be a similar project.

The great thing about upholstery is that you don’t really need to buy too many tools. Mum has lent me a couple of bits which will get me going.

George has pneumatic staple guns for people to use on the course, it holds the fabric to the wood so tightly! He suggested that I got an electric staple gun (he said I should keep my eye out in Lidl for this!) if I can’t buy a pneumatic one.

I don’t think you really need much space for it either, I did my rocking chair in a tiny room in halls at uni! Unless you are pulling out dust covered horse hair- which you really need to do outside!

What were your highs and lows of the course?

I loved learning a new skill – it was so interesting to see the amount of work that goes into upholstery and incredibly satisfying to see average furniture be turned into beautiful pieces!

The course was 6 hours a day for 5 days without children, I love them, but it was great to be away from them!

I enjoyed spending time with 7 lovely women and George, there was a lot of chit chat to listen to which kept me entertained while I worked.

There weren’t really any lows! I suppose I was a bit disheartened when I realised that my fabric choice was terrible, but George assured me it would be fine and we’d make it work.


Are the kids allowed to sit on your beautiful chair?

It’s been hidden away in the spare bedroom until they are old enough to not have constant snotty noses! I sometimes bring it downstairs in the evenings just to look at admiringly.


Isn’t it beautiful?! It’s certainly made me want to do a course… but I don’t have anything that needs covering nor space for any more furniture!

If you’re based in Nottingham – the lovely Naomi Wagstaff teaches upholstery at All Things Creative, where I attended sewing classes with Deirdre last year.

Book Club

Back in April 2016, some friends and I started a book club. I don’t think any of us expected to keep it going for three years! We’re now firmly into our fourth season (we choose one book each per season) and are very much enjoying it.

My friend and fellow book-clubber Natalie has been keeping a record of what we’ve read and the scores we have given each book and the following blog is a amalgamation of my words and words and information from Natalie…

Book club has given us all opportunity to read things outside of our usual go to genre. We’ve had psychological thrillers, fantasy, post apocalyptic worlds, historical and non fiction. Through book group I personally have discovered a love for ‘who done it’ detective novels. I don’t know why I’d never read that type of book before because I love that sort of thing on tv!

We take it in turns to choose a book each season and then meet up after approx 6 to 8 weeks which gives us plenty of time to read each book without too much pressure.

Our meetings normally consist of dinner, drinks and general chatting for a few hours before realising that we’ve not actually talked about the book yet! Our best meeting took place on the beach while we were on a camping holiday in Cornwall – we dug a hole in the sand and all sat with our feet in it, discussing Us by David Nicholls. The book only got an average review but the location was lovely!

The four books I’ve chosen so far for book club have been…

The Year of Living Danishley by Helen Russell

I can’t remember where I heard about this book, but it was around the time that I discovered Minimalism and everyone was talking about getting hygge!

We all enjoyed reading it and until recently it was the highest scoring book at an average of 7.9 out of 10.


Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman

Phillip Pullman is my favourite author and His Dark Materials are my favourite books. I don’t generally re-read books, but I’ve read this trilogy four or five times and can’t wait for the second installment of The Book of Dust later this year.

I’d previously avoided reading his other books because I was scared I wouldn’t enjoy them as much and that it might taint my love of His Dark Materials (silly… I know). But last year I took the plunge and read his Sally Lockhart mysteries. I’m happy to say that I loved them.

Northern Lights got a fairly average review from the group but I’m pretty sure I gave it a ten!


The third book I chose (on the recommendation of Richard & Judy) was Together by Julie Cohen. I’m not putting a link for this one because I don’t want to recommend it… you’ve got better things to do with your time! (Sorry I made you read this book clubbers).


A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

This is my fourth choice for book club and I haven’t started it yet so I can’t tell you much about it.

It was recommended by my friend Rebecka and I’m looking forward to reading it when I finish How Not to be a Boy by Robert Webb (not a book club book but I would recommend both this and How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran… they work well together if you like that kinda thing).


Our highest scoring book to date is Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. We unanimously loved this book and scored it at 8.9 out of 10 which might be a bit difficult to beat!

Anther popular book was Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig which we gave an 8.3 average.

Psychological thrillers have taken some low scores from us recently. Perhaps they’re becoming more predictable the more we read that genre or perhaps we’re just tired of the ‘big twist’ format?

Historical and fantasy books get our most varied reviews with with a love or hate reaction – but it makes the discussion interesting when when we disagree!

Book club has definitely encouraged us all to read more. it sparks discussion, expands understanding and knowledge, reduces stress and most importantly makes us plan time together in our ever busy lives.

If you have any book recommendations for us please pop them in the comments – Thanks!

Thank you Natalie for your help with this blog x

Sample Sale!

Welcome to the 2018 Jem Weston Sample Sale!

If you subscribe to my newsletter you might have already snapped up a bargain… but make sure you’re also logged in for the Instagram sale tonight for more knitted samples, stash boxes and pom pom garlands!

The sale will start on my Instagram feed at 6pm (UK time) tonight (Sunday 9th Dec).

Throughout the sale I will only be checking messages (direct messages and comments) on Instagram. *Please don’t email me or contact me in another way as I won’t see it and you might miss out!*

Once the sale starts some items might get snapped up quickly – so make sure you’re checking my feed from 6pm and read through the below so that you’re ready…

*All prices include first class post to the UK. If you’re outside the UK please request a quote for additional postage when reserving an item*.

  • If you’re interested in an item – comment “me please” on the image. This will reserve the item. First come first served!
  • Send me a direct message on Instagram with your email address and I will send you a PayPal invoice.
  • Your reserved item must be paid for within 1 hour of receiving the invoice. Once the item is paid for it will be removed from my feed.
  • If I don’t receive a direct message within one hour of you reserving the item or if it is not paid for – that item will become available again.
  • All items are sample yarns or handmade samples and therefore may have imperfections.

Who’s excited?!

There are some real bargains! I have boxes of lovely stash yarn that would be perfect for granny square or stash blankets, knitted samples that would make great Christmas gifts and pom pom garlands – perfect for adorning a festive home. I don’t do these sales often so please don’t miss out!

The pom pom garlands were a handmade group effort for our wedding in August with friends and family getting involved in the making. All profits from the pom pom garland sales will be donated to Diabetes UK.

See you at 6pm!

Finding Focus

I’ve recently been thinking a lot about focus and productivity. Partly because planning a wedding requires a lot of getting sh*t done! But also because our current book group book is Deep Work by Cal Newport

The book is about the importance of and how to acheive a ‘deep work state’. That state of mind where you’re completely immersed in what you’re doing with no distractions

Ironically – I didn’t reach the ‘how to’ section because I was finding the book really difficult to focus on and got distracted by and started reading The Girl Who Played With Fire instead!

The main reason I lost interest in Deep Work was it’s focus on success in work. It doesn’t seem to look at how being less distracted and more present can benefit our general well-being (perhaps I just didn’t get to that bit!).

Earlier this year I was feeling quite frustrated and was complaining to the soon to be Mr Weston (less than two weeks!) that I wasn’t getting much work done or ticking anything off my list. He asked what I had actually been doing instead of work and it turned out that I’d achieved a huge amount that week! He suggested that I re-frame the way I look at things and instead of thinking ‘I didn’t do the thing I intended to do’ try simply thinking ‘I had a productive day’.

It sounds like such a simple thing but it’s made a huge difference to how I view my productivity. Sometimes we’re not in the right mind-set to do something but push ourselves to do it because it’s on the list. Often that’s necessary, but sometimes it’s a job that can wait and maybe you can switch it with something you were planning to do tomorrow. It’s still productive!

This re-framing means I’ve been going with what feels right rather than what I planned. That might mean I’m sewing my wedding top when I should’ve been pattern writting or doing work knitting when I should’ve been doing my tax return! It’s made me more aware of how my focus and productivity changes throughout the day/week.

I’ve never been a morning person and I definitely gravitate towards short jobs that don’t require much thought pre-lunch with more focused ‘deep work’ jobs (such as writting blogs and designing) in the afternoon or evening. This is also true across the week with me preferring shorter less focussed jobs at the beginning of the week through to more immersive jobs at the end of the week. Turns out I actually love admin on a Monday and have zero interest in keeping my accounts up to date by Friday!

It’s not always possible to just do the work you feel like doing and there are often jobs which we’d prefer to put off indefinitely (the tax return!). But having a greater understanding of when I’m most productive at certain type’s of activities has been hugely beneficial for me. It makes it easier to plan your days for maximum efficiency and work feels less like work!

So don’t believe everything that social media tells you… you don’t have to get up at 5am, do yoga and eat chia seeds to be successful and productive. We’re all different and you just have to find what works for you!