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Archive Entries for March 2009

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Tuesday March 31, 2009

Books in March

I seem to be spending less and less time reading - unless it's reading knitting books. So it occurred to me that I could actually write about the knitting books - here are a couple of them.

  • A Fine Fleece by Lisa Lloyd
    FineFleece.jpg This is a book all about knitting with handspun yarns; George's Mother gave it to me for my birthday. I had not previously looked at the book when I requested it via my Wish List - which is always risky - but it did not disappoint. It is a very good book - these are the specific points in its favour:
    • The author tells us about her journey through learning to spin, discusses mixing fibres, and reviews a few fleece types that she used for projects in the book. I was interested that she reviewed Suffolk fleeces, (Ava's sheep), as I have not seen much about them elsewhere - she used them for socks, which confirms the view I have gleaned while working with this fleece myself.
    • The book has a lot of patterns in it, (26 apparently), mostly for proper jumpers, not just little gifts. It is very good value on this point - so many books are lovely with maybe lots of ideas but few real patterns.
    • And here's the good bit - every pattern is knitted up not only in a handspun with the fibre content explained, but also in a commercial yarn. This is really an excellent idea. It demonstrates that you can achieve quite different results by changing the yarn type - it's very encouraging.
    I have now finished spinning the llama fleece that my sister gave me and immediately set about making the lacy scarf from the book.

  • Rowan 45 Spring/Summer 2009 edited by Marie Wallin
    Rowan45.jpg Despite the amusement that Rowan's styling always seems to cause everyone (including me), I always like their books and look forward to their publication each season. I admire the way they do their marketing and always hope that their innovations will prove successful.
    So I was truly dismayed by their anniversary edition (No 44) as, far from celebrating their history, it seemed a complete departure from anything that had gone before. I was motivated to complain to Rowan that there was not a single pattern for men in the book which I thought (apart from anything else) a real betrayal since the company was set up by men and their signature designers were men. Admittedly when they first started, the sweaters styles were not so gender specific, and often displayed on both men and women in the photo shoots. But now the girly, shaped sweaters are definitely not for men. I was impressed that I got a reply directly from Marie Wallin (whether "from the desk of" or whether a standard response is not important). However what she said was less convincing - that they did not "have space" to include men's patterns - though they seem to have space for patterns for dogs and fabric patterns for decorations. She also missed my point really - I am not actually short of patterns to knit for men and in truth I normally welcome the inclusion of patchwork and novelties in the magazines. I was simply angry that in a special anniversary edition she had made what was, in my opinion, an editorial decision ("mistake") to make it girls (and dogs..) only.
    So back to Book 45 - I loved it as usual - and I was relieved that men had got back into it.... I am planning to make a couple of the things featured in it, including some household items (placemats and peg bag). These are my favourites:


This is the full text of Rowan's reply on the subject of Rowan 44 "anniversary edition". I note that Marie seems to think that the exclusion of men's patterns is a consequence of it being an anniversary edition - how on earth does that work?

Dear Christina,
I am sorry to hear that you are disappointed that the latest magazine doesn't include any men's designs.
The main reason for this is that Mag 44 is a celebration of 30 years of Rowan, and consequently the stories reflect women's wear. As there was so much we wanted to cover within the stories to reflect the type of design that has become synonymous with Rowan over the years, there literally was not enough room to cover menswear as well. I appreciate that you would like to see more men's designs and we are hopefully planning to do a Rowan men's book in the near future, I myself would like to do a men's book! There will be a few men's designs in Mag 45 and there are also some planned for Mag 46.
Best wishes and happy knitting,
Marie Wallin - Head Designer, Rowan.

I do look forward to seeing her men's book. I always like her designs, (despite the simple lines and lack of florals), though many of them are frankly too hip for me to feel I can wear. Narvik (still working on it...) is one of hers.

Posted on March 31, 2009 at 10:34 AM. Category: Books of the Month.

Saturday March 28, 2009

Blending fibres I

The cherry colour took to the wool quite well, producing a firey red, so I decided to go ahead and blend the more muted grape/pink colour with my brown/grey fleece.


I did not card the fibres together but spun two rollags at the same time, unevenly, to produce short stretches of each colour, sometimes twined together, sometimes more evenly blended.


George came in during this process and requested I make him socks with the yarn - though he was scornful when I said I was blending unevenly by intention. I shall make the socks, but am doubtful about it on account of the brillo-pad quality of the wool and the thickness of the yarn when plied. Maybe he was scared I was planning to make him an entire pink and grey scratchy sweater, and figured that socks were a lesser evil.

Posted on March 28, 2009 at 5:09 PM. Category: Spinning, Dying, Weaving.

Monday March 23, 2009

Colour work

I accidentally ended up with some of the Suffolk fleece dyed in an interesting shade of brown that I had not planned. I decide to dye some more wool in a different colour to combine with it. The fibre has the texture of wire wool so this is definitely experimental. However, I pressed on and consulted the colour wheel in my books about dying - failed to make any decision - and went ahead and dyed a couple of colours using my Kool Aid collection of fruit drinks.


I used grape and cherry, but was not at all careful in the way I did it, so the colours did not take evenly (as planned), but also were not quite cherry and grape (not as planned). I dipped the washed fleece in the dye and then wrapped it in cling-flim and microwaved it.


Posted on March 23, 2009 at 4:50 PM. Category: Spinning, Dying, Weaving.

Sunday March 22, 2009

More is... well... more!

I am finally posting this entry. I meant to do it before but am still lacking a photo which would have made it more interesting. So all the interest is in the Dress-a-Day website - and anyway it's a really good site so worth a visit. During the week of 9th to 13th of March, Erin did a daily "What's the Story?" on some dress patterns - great fun - but Gray Dress and Yellow Dress were the ones that struck a chord for me. It really is my friend Alison and I - though I'm not sure which is which - I think either could take either role depending on circumstance, (although generally I would be the one with the inappropriate complicated sleeves!).

So it was that, one Christmas in the early 1990's, we were planning our outfits for our Firm's "Family Dinner". I suspect Alison was the one who invested in the Vogue pattern and we each made outfits from it. We both made fitted velvet dresses, and found it hard to believe that no-one realised they were from the same basic design. Alison's version was a beautiful rich dark green velvet with long fitted sleeves, and mine was black and sleeveless. The collar was a ruched affair, high at the front and plunging low at the back - Alison's tastefully all in green velvet - mine, however... a kind of gold and black flock fabric - like wallpaper in 1970s Indian restaurants - lovely...

If I manage to track down the pattern I will append a photo. Meanwhile do look at Dress a Day for the origins of these musings.

Posted on March 22, 2009 at 11:33 AM. Category: Oddments and stray thoughts.

Wednesday March 18, 2009

Last minute gifts...

There comes a time when you have to choose between doing, and writing about it. And I am always thinking... that I ought to spend more time doing and less time thinking about it. Anyway, here is (finally) a product of my labours. I finished George's Christmas cardigan. In fact, I have "finished" it several times over, and he has even worn it - but it just kept coming back for little alterations.

You may think he looks a little grim - but actually he's looking tolerant.

Posted on March 18, 2009 at 10:36 PM. Category: Knitting.

Thursday March 12, 2009


I finished another pair of socks yesterday. The wool matches (ok - not quite, but better than the photo implies) the lovely bag Alison gave me - my new colours for Spring - and judging by the shops, the acid green is one of the new spring colours - perfect for me when combined with navy blue.

The pattern is by Nancy Bush in Interweave Knits; I chose it to match the gauge of the Phildar yarn (appropriately named Printemps) - and because the socks are pretty. In my yarn they feel a little thick - more like bedsocks - and I think they would have been nicer in the recommended cotton. But for all that I like them a lot and have been wearing them all day.

Posted on March 12, 2009 at 6:17 PM. Category: Knitting.

Sunday March 8, 2009


I have just spent a really great weekend in Worcester, meeting up with friends I have not really associated with for about 35 years. We all attended the Worthing Technical High School through the dawn of the 1970s. Here we are now - just the same - well - maybe a bit older - and with wives and girlfriends.

Tina (Christina) Mick (Titch) Robert David Nicolette Chris Frank Paul Sheila Ronnie Alison Sylvia Jane Pita Molly Kas

Our school was opened in 1955 as a school designed for vocational study; my own brother was one of the first students in the brand new school. It was endowed with excellent metalwork, woodwork, and home economics departments - and also a small farm!. By the time we were there, this educational experiment had been abandoned, and it was a conventional (although co-ed) grammar. Soon after we left it changed its name and merged with the adjacent school to become a "comprehensive". Now, my friends tell me, they have pulled the old building down, ("without even asking us!")

When we arrived in Worcester, George and I wandered around the town and visited the cathedral, where the Chamber Choir was practising for an early evening performance.

George was absorbed in reading a memorial to poor Richard Solly who in 1803 "whilft on a Tour of Pleafure with his Family was feized with an Inflammation of the Inteftines, which in five Days terminated his Life". George empathises with those who have inflammation of the Inteftines.
Thank heavens for modern medicine.

After George left, I rushed round the town alone - shopping. I was extremely successful, managing to acquire two coats and a pair of shoes - all bargains of course. I also bought myself some bamboo sock needles - a new venture in needles - as I seem to have a lot of sock wool, (not to mention patterns), to get through.

Posted on March 8, 2009 at 8:37 PM. Category: Friends.